groovy chair

Oh yeah, check out this bad boy.

It is so beautiful, I can't believe that it's mine.  Am I slightly biased though, am I? Is it not a thing of beauty, is it just me and is my beholder's eye clouding my judgement?

Well maybe, huh, but I hope you do think it's at least a little bit pretty, I mean its a desk chair, like an office chair and they (they being IKEA) have made it look like this!  You don't get that kind of funked out thought process just anywhere you know, its them Swedish meatballs that do it I reckon!

Aside from a kind of obsessional love for my new desk chair, I also purchased a little desky thing with some drawers so I can store all my crap and spend lots of time staring out the window.  The actual purpose of buying a desky set-up is so that I can study in comfort for my next exam, on 10 October..cripes, without doing me back in - which is what happened last time sitting at the dining room table - long story, won't bore you.
So now I have a brilliantly functional desk, filled with lots of my favourite things, the most splendid office chair in the whole wide world (or, you know, at least in the whole wide IKEA) plus (there is a plus, I KNOW), I have the bonus of looking out into the garden with a sea of green right outside my window.  You don't get much better than that do you?

I think I'm going to sit and watch the seasons go past (and study very, very hard....obviously!), and be very happy about that.  Today is the last day of summer, tomorrow is September and so begins autumn, my favourite season of all....that is until the GIANT copper beech in the garden decides to lose all its leaves in one day and I have to spend days (like, DAYS), clearing the damn things up!


bumper beetroot harvest

my beetroots, yes I grew them

So I gathered in my first ever harvest of vegetables grown by my own fair hands on Wednesday afternoon, beetroots.

Yes, the purple prince of the vegetable world was in all its glory and ripe for picking on Wednesday, well in honesty Wednesday is the only day this week that's been dry enough to do anything in the garden so I thought I ought to take advantage.

And I know you're looking at the picture now and thinking 'bumper crop?! I don't think so, but bear in mind that this is the first time I've EVER grown ANYTHING and amidst all the excitement I quite forgot that now I've got to do something with them.

So I've got all these little purple guys sitting in a colander in my kitchen and I have decided that I'm going to do two things with them:

1. Boil them up and pickle them.

2. Make a beetroot and chocolate cake with the remainder, beetroot CAKE...I KNOW!!


So to pickle them bad boys I'm going to follow this Pickled Beets Recipe because it sounds easy and I've got all the ingredients already so can do it this afternoon.  And then later today (after I've been to the shops) I'm going to make this Beetroot and Chocolate Cake just because I need to know what beetroot and chocolate cake tastes like.  Might it be like carrot cake when you first eat that and think to yourself "just how (HOW) can carrots taste SO good", yes I think it might be just like that.

Also I found this lovebeetroot site which really made me smile and will surely provide me with further inspiration.

Happy beetrooting!


sunday flowers

My brother and his family live in the country.  I mean they really live in the country.  When you look in any direction from their house and garden you can just see fields and trees, a few houses dotted here and there but mainly green.  It is beautiful and always nice for a visit.

We went on Sunday and the sun actually shone (yes in August, shocking) so I took a stroll in the garden and took some snaps of their pretty country garden.




in the Lakes

I love collecting things together to share with you and I love Fridays so this blog should, by rights, be reasonably good.

Firstly have a look at this brilliant poster.

Tubular Fells

It's called Tubular Fells and is a whole new way of looking at the Lake District, designed by a gentleman called Peter Burgess.

Peter has rather brilliantly (we think so anyway) taken his inspiration from Harry Beck, the London Underground map designer and merged it together with the 214 fells as lovingly detailed, described and made famous by the great Alfred Wainwright.  The result was this astonishing piece of art.

The map is available here and we got our copy after it was featured in the Guardian weekend magazine a few months ago.  Peter put a little note in with the poster to say he had been inundated with orders and had to go to his printers for another print run - excellent news huh!  We've just had ours framed and are now trying to decide where it should go.

And on a completely different subject we also this week, yesterday in fact, we had our new mattress delivered.  Yes it is beautiful, yes we slept well and yes it's true that there's "nowt as good as a new mattress", I made that saying up but I'm sure it really is said the length and breadth of this fair land.

Something else that made me smile was this display of lotus flower tea light holders in Huttons, Windsor. Just so simple and very, very pretty.

I should have posted this on Friday but got distracted and didn't...whoops! And now all of a sudden it's Sunday evening and I'm wondering where the weekends go.  I saw my Mum today and she really, really loves my blog, which is brilliant and I'm pleased she does.  She asked me where my latest post was, very disappointed with the delay so this one is for you Mum, enjoy.


NARS Douceurs de Paris eyeshadow palette

I know, I know, I may be a bit behind the times on this one, but NARS sold out of their original stock of this limited edition eye shadow palette and I can see why.  The good news is they have decided to bring it back in all its glory and have an online re-launch.

So that is how I finally managed to get a hold of one (if you want one then I think you might have to get in there quickly), and glad I am too, it is stunning.  Just to look at the colours sitting in the palette is a pleasure, and of course the English name for it is Pleasures of Paris...mais oui, mais oui, c'est vrai!

Back row from left to right:  Nepal, Violetta, Demon Lover
Front row from left to right:  Fez, Abyssinia, Cordura

You might be able to tell from the palette photo that they are all shimmer colours except for violetta and demon lover which are both really, really matt.  Consequently those two don't swatch up great as you can see from the below shots taken in natural daylight.  In particular violetta has a poor show here which is not the eye shadow's fault but more due to my lovely pale blue, British summertime skin tone blending in with it (tan you say? nah!).

top row colours from top to bottom: demon lover, violetta and nepal
bottom row colours from top to bottom: cordura, abyssinia and fez

Nepal, abyssinia and fez can all be purchased as single eye shadows if you don't want to buy the whole palette.  Cordura and demon lover can be purchased as part of duos - I think violetta used to be available as a duo but its not showing on their website at the moment.

My favourite colours are fez (I love shimmery, coppery colours) and cordura which is really dark and has the most incredible gold flecks which are definitely going to look great on.

I am also impressed with NARS exceptional customer service which I had to experience given that my first palette arrived with fez smashed in.  You know the feeling, all excited opening up package, open the case and "oh" all of a sudden really gloomy... Anyway I emailed them and quite quickly they asked me to send them some pictures, which I duly did (feeling like a sort of private eye shadow investigator)!

Next thing they ask me to send the palette back, refund me the postage (which was not inconsiderable given that NARS are a French company based in, like, FRANCE), send me a new palette along with a lovely mini Laguna bronzer as a gift....how great is that?!  So NARS get the thumbs up from me, my new favourite makeup company and if you decide to buy some makeup from them, you won't be disappointed.

It isn't cheap but the quality is really good, and I know everyone says that but try it, be surprised, I did and I was and I can be a right miser sometimes.


borage, pronounced like porridge one presumes

borage, also known as starflower

So the mystery has been solved, my fabulous mystery wildflower is borage and top marks to my Dad and Uncle for spotting it and letting me know.  My Dad also helpfully told me that my miniature violets were in fact violas so it would seem that he will now be employed as my chief flower naming blog moderator. Well done Dad.

Yesterday was Sunday and we went walking in the forest which was brilliant.

Back in April/May, when we actually had a period of hot sunny weather, some kids deliberately set fire to our forest (really stupid huh).  Because it had been so hot and dry (I know, in England and everything), the fires just raged out of control and for days there was traffic chaos, people being evacuated from their homes and fire-fighters doing their best to bring it all under control.

Being out in the middle of the forest yesterday made us appreciate how bad it actually was.  It was frightening to see how much damage was done and especially how close to houses the fire got!  But mostly it was amazing to see how quickly the natural environment rights itself after such a blow, really good to see lots of new growth, lots of green shoots and generally a feeling of getting back to being forestry again.

lonely, chargrilled Christmas tree but surrounded by green grass
blackened tree trunks but lots of bright green ferns in the background
On a lighter note weather and the heather were both out in full force yesterday.  The sun was actually shining for once and there were lovely, huge carpets of lavender and pink coloured heather growing everywhere.  Bees were bumbling around, the birds were singing and there were lots of people out and about and walking their dogs too.

Tilly enjoyed herself, didn't get any good pics of her as she doesn't tend to stay still for too long, she especially loves chasing pine cones so if you kick them, she will chase - all good fun if you are a puppy.

lily the pink.....

......the saviour of the human ra- a-ace!

I used to love singing that song at school and often wonder what the medicinal compound was that she invented.  What was it huh, probably some opium based hallucinogenic as is often the way with songs that have an initial appearance of innocence, I mean look at Puff the Magic Dragon!!
So, pink has been creeping into my wardrobe of late (and I don't mean the singer, who would have an effort climbing on in there frankly given that it is stuffed full of clothes), and it all started with a present from my gentleman Bloom of a bright pink Swatch at the airport when we flew out to Corfu earlier this year.

it's pink!
Yes, a Swatch I said.  Oh my goodness how totally 1980s retro am I?  I distinctly remember getting my first Swatch when I was in the third year at school and there is no way I am ever telling you what year that was! I was so proud of it and looky here, I even have a blurry old picture of it, well what do you expect, high resolution hadn't been invented in the 1980s!).

totally loving the multi-coloured 1980s swatch watch

Anyway back on track to my pink conversion, the watch was purchased so I wouldn't get my everyday (not waterproof) watch ruined at the beach and I have to say that:
  • it actually looks great, is big and kinda funky in an unexpected way, and
  • it was handy to be able to wear a watch on the beach and not worry about it getting ruined.
However you do need to be aware of the bad points of this watch, there are not many, in fact there are but two but they may be deal breakers, so here we go:

1. It is quite difficult to get on sometimes.  The rubbery strap doesn't go through without some coaxing during which time the pin has dropped out of the strap hole and you have to start all over again (note that this might just be me being stupid)!

2. It has the loudest tick in the world and I mean the LOUDEST tick in the whole, bleeding world.  It is so loud I have taken it off and thrown it across the room when watching the TV, I have had to get up in the middle of the night to remove it from the room when sleeping. Oh it ticks in proper big FULL CAPS this watch so be warned.

On the plus side it comes in loads of very pretty colours and it isn't expensive so you can buy lots, one for every outfit in fact.

Back to Lily the Pink then....I also have a developed a love for this belt, which has been in the wardrobe for a while.

beautiful, soft belt from boden

It is a really buttery soft suede and a pretty baby pink colour.  The plaited style means you can do it up anywhere along its length so can be worn both on the hips, with trousers, or on the waist, with dresses or skirts....which is quite handy.  I got it a while ago from the boden sale but I only thought about wearing it on Saturday, I think it looks quite nice with these trousers and with my pink watch on too I really am working this pink thing, am I not?

Do not fear, soothing words for my own benefit here, I think tiny accents of pink is as far as I can take it, it will definitely be a newsflash if I buy something massively, shockingly pink!


Tilly makes herself at home, she learns to pee outside and quite likes milk

just arrived home May 2011
The first week was a bizarre kind of hell, we spent the whole week in shock and awe that a puppy could cry so much - the first night she cried herself hoarse! This may be because we were determined to have her sleeping in her crate in the kitchen from day one (in hindsight this was brave but ultimately foolish as we didn't sleep anyway), hence crying herself hoarse.

However, crate doubters (and we know you're out there), let it be known that through reading the puppy books (and definitely not through our intelligence), we learnt to make her love her crate by filling it with lovely doggy stuff like blankets and toys and treats, and more treats, and some more treats...and.  It works! She loves it and will often take herself off to her 'place' if she needs to rest or be comforted..it is very sweet to see her do that all by herself.

So first thing was to get her happy with her crate...done.  Next was to get her to pee and poo outside. 

This was tricky for the first week or so although for the most part she did get it but quite often she would just pee on the kitchen floor as the desire took her.  Hilary had taught us to take her outside every hour and say a key phrase to prompt her to pee....the phrase Hilary gave us was "clean girl" and this is a source of much amusement with our family and friends as we are saying it all the time.  My Dad thinks I could be trained to pee on command now!

I have however shed many a tear about the pee and poo thing, mainly through sheer frustration and not knowing what to do for the best.  I will admit that a couple of times during the first few weeks I wanted to take her back, I know, bad me!  Of course I gritted my teeth and persevered (and bloody glad I am too), but please believe me, they are seriously HARD WORK!  And I would say to anyone thinking of getting a puppy to really think it through, have you got the time and energy, like, bags of energy, I mean you need SO much energy.

Of course like all things, it soon passed and she is (touch wood) completely toilet trained now.  She has however peed on both our sets of parents carpets, nobody else's.  Which is quite weird, maybe it's a parent pee protest or some such thing.

butter would seriously not melt
Hilary had asked us to give her a little ramekin of goats milk each morning and she loves it so much that we continued it right up until last week (she is so spoilt), now we've stopped we are  instead giving her milky biscuits, she loves them too.  In fact, she pretty much loves all food, it makes her very happy and in that way the old adage is true, dogs are very much like their owners.

scoff, scoff, scoff
The other thing that we did as soon as get her home was put her collar and tag on, required by law so don't be naughty, insured her and took her to the vets for her jabs.

She wasn't allowed out until ten days after her second lot of jabs so she was kept at home and in the garden, which is okay as we have a long garden but by the end of it you could tell she needed more exercise.  When the time finally came for her to go on her first ever walk, she was very, very excited indeed.

that Alice + Olivia dress and the fabulous Alexis Carrington Colby

Hello stylish people.

So this is the dress that I have been lusting after today.  You know how the saying goes; another day, another dress to lust after!

This beauty from net-a-porter has totally captured my heart though because the colours are so, so vivid.  The close-up shot is breathtakingly pretty is it not....oh can I have one, can I???  Marie Claire agree with me too, they've chosen it as one of their 40 best day dresses and you can see why, no??  Please don't all rush out and buy it until I have secured some funds...

....which probably means it won't be mine, not ever, but a girl can lust can't she? and it makes me happy just looking at the pretty colours in the picture.

Today was less stressful, unable to go out as road is being resurfaced right outside the house.  The steam roller (how cool are steam rollers?!) makes the whole house shake which is pretty funny.

Instead I have stayed in and worked on my final university assignment; I'm writing about the politics of soap opera and using Brookside and Dynasty as my examples.....this has meant totally guilt free watching of the most excellent Dynasty with the brilliant, brilliant and beautiful Joan Collins as Alexis.

Her first Alexis outfit ever!
She first appears at the start of Season 2, in court to testify against Blake, cue gasps of astonishment as she lifts the veil of her super cool hat...and the suit she is wearing has black panels down the side of the jacket and skirt, super, super 80's monochrome style Miss Alexis.  I can't find a full length picture but I will, believe me I will.


the Jigsaw Bedouin Print Pencil Skirt

So today I have a job interview, the first one in a long time and I find myself not particularly fussed.

Is it an age thing, an experience thing, a 'quite like being at home being a student and looking after puppy' thing? or is it just that I have the most amazing Jigsaw skirt to wear to the interview and therefore nothing else matters thing?

Look how beautiful it is.
Feast your eyes on its loveliness.  The Jigsaw website says that Vogue love it too and I believe them, they have pictorial evidence and everything, and to make things even better I got it in the sale.  For an additional, additional bonus, it fits like a dream too.

I like it styled with a neutral colour top but it would look great with a black top too.  Today I'm going for a grey gap short sleeved top which I'll wear with a black blazer over the top (think its going to rain today), and patent heels which were from Jones I think (it was a long time ago).

So here I am in my outfit, feeling really bloody good hurrah.

Some hours later.

Well I'm back and what a palaver it was.  Couldn't find anywhere to park, got a bit panicked and was seriously thinking about calling it all off.  Eventually found somewhere (after doing that horrible stalky thing that I hate) and finally got myself together when the heavens opened and my carefully planned interview outfit got rained on....walked into the office where the interview was to be held looking like a drowned rat, hair awry, stockinged legs splattered with rain and mud...bleugh!

Interview went okay though, nice people and glad I went.

Here are my top tips for interview outfit success (and I have been to a lot of interviews so I am wise and speak the truth):

  • Don't wear a full suit as it is a bit severe, especially if you don't know what the organisational dress code is, a jacket or blazer always makes you look and feel smart though

  • Try to wear something that is comfortable but makes you feel a little bit fabulous (think bright crazy skirt which is obviously what I did!)

  • All the usual's; tidy hair, neat nails, minimal makeup, or even your usual makeup if that makes you feel good just as long as that doesn't consist of full on face, false eyelashes, glitter etc (ignore this if you are going to work in a naughty ladies bar, nightclub or other such place where false eyelashes would be mucho appreciated) 

  • Do not, seriously DO NOT have your boobs or butt cheeks on show, even if they are your best assets, please hide them away, they will only cause unwanted attention if you are being interviewed by a man and envy if you are being interviewed by a woman - see above for exceptions to this rule.
That's your lot, not too difficult huh? and if you can find yourself an equally as beau.ti.ful skirt as this Jigsaw number then you will deffo get the job....well maybe, I'll let you know if it worked for me.

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Tilly and how we found her

This is our Tilly, she is five months old (just) and for the past three and a bit months she has lived with us, terrorised us, licked us to death, made us laugh and generally forced us through her sheer puppy will to fall head over heels in love with her.

I don't think I'm too biased here and I'm pretty certain that you'll agree she is a teeny tiny bit cute.

She is a pedigree flat coated retriever and we got her from a wonderful lady called Hilary in Cirencester who has been breeding flat coats (or flatties) on her working farm for a very long time so she knows a thing or two.

Hilary was recommended to us, which made things a bit easier as it wasn't proving very easy finding a breeder online or via the flat coated retriever society (yes they have a society!).  We called her and she told us that she was due a litter at the beginning of March 2011.  In a state of excited trepidation we went to visit the puppies when they were 4 weeks old, and this is what we found.

So we ordered ourselves a little Tillster, erm how could you NOT!, and were told to go away and prepare ourselves and not come back until she was 8 weeks old.  She was a tad expensive - surely not helped by the fact that a flattie won Best in Show at Crufts just a few weeks earlier, timing is everything huh!

We went home and proceeded to PANIC.  We went out and bought/borrowed every single puppy book we could, most of which just increased the sense of PANIC!  We discovered the joys of Cesar Millan although I have to admit that his book How to Raise the Perfect Dog actually made me PANIC!! even more and on more than one occasion I threw the book down in a huffty.

We found solace and sensibility in the words of Gwen Bailey, The Perfect Puppy and this helped a lot in the early weeks.  Although it does annoy me that the word 'perfect' is bandied about so much, I don't think it is ever possible to have a 'perfect' puppy and nor should you want one; they poo and wee and chew (oh my they CHEW), and lick and are naughty and silly and funny and cute.  I can think of lots of words to describe Tilly but perfect isn't one of them, more like perfectly imperfect.

We also went for our first visit to Pets at Home and you would never believe how much money you can spend on a small furry canine and also I don't know how dog owners got supplies before Pets at Home, I mean the shop is huge and has everything (including very cute bunnies and guinea pigs).  So on first visit we (in a daze) purchased the following:

  • Small travel case - for trips in the car to vets etc prior to immunisation

  • Stainless steel food and water bowls

  • Puppy shampoo

  • Puppy treats - we got coachies for puppies

  • Brush - she doesn't like it

  • Collar - little, tiny collar

  • Short lead

  • Various toys - mainly chewy things, two small cute teddy bears too who ended up being called TT (Tilly's Toy) and PT (Pink Toy) respectively
  • Fleecy blanket and vetbed

We also got her a crate (more on crate training to come) from Croft online, they have a tool where you put your dog breed in and they tell you the right size cage to get (for complete novices this is essential).  She seems right at home in it anyway.

What?...what?! do I look weird or something??
For food, we were recommended some dry food by Hilary. It's called Symply and Tilly came with a free 2kg bag), and we ordered a further 12kg - Symply have a great website and deliver quickly if you, like me, leave things to the last minute.  Tilly loves the food and scoffs the whole lot up without fail and we are on our third 12kg bag so it was a good recommendation (again, brilliant for novices), because apparently puppies can go off food midway through a 12kg bag. You wouldn't be impressed!

So, there we were, all prepared, drove to Cirencester and picked up our little pupski.  We filled out all the paperwork with Hilary and she plonked Tillster on my lap and off we drove.  We couldn't believe it, someone had let us drive off with a puppy, she was ours and life would never be the same again.