Little Luxe

I don't usually buy myself expensive makeup, apart from my beloved Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation, for a few reasons. First of all, I'm fickle. I make impulse decisions and instantly regret them. I confess to having a whole drawer of electric blue and neon yellow eyeshadow, pale pink lipsticks and misjudged bronzers to prove it.
Secondly, I'm a cheapskate through and through. A £2.99 mascara that does the job is good enough for me. This makes the fact that I'm fickle not such a blow to my purse, however I hate to think how much money I've wasted on well-marketed budget 'wonder' products over the years.
Thirdly, I'm a creature of habit. I'm currently on my fifth tube of GOSH Extreme liquid eyeliner because it has amazing staying power- I have slept, showered and swum in it, with it still looking perfect afterwards- and it's only £5.99 so therefore also ticks my second box.

But, when something is a gift it's a whole other story.

There is something very special about receiving an expensive luxury. In this case, a beautiful Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipstick in 'Rebelle', wrapped in tissue paper, in a monogrammed gift bag and laden with samples of mascara and hologram postcards. It's the perfect red which, with one coat, is sheer enough for daytime and, with a few coats, can also be built up to achieve a strong, glossy colour.

Thanks to my wonderful Aunt, Uncle and cousins, my post-bank-holiday day back at work ended on an unexpectedly sweet note!

She's in parties.

What I wore to go shopping:
Red dress: charity shop vintage
Denim jacket- old Primark
Tooled belt: vintage
Sandals: thrifted
Follow the Leader gold swallow necklace: courtesy* of Eclectic Eccentricity

Blue 50's dress: £20 Absolute Vintage
Yellow cotton & crochet dress £28/Brown shirt dress £19, both Blitz Vintage Department Store

Leather rucksack: £1, Absolute Vintage

Roses, from friends M and H.

Saturday was my Birthday and it was wonderful. Breakfast in bed, coffee and a cake followed by the opening of presents. Ed proved himself to be a clever boy indeed, buying me some beautiful things and the best one of all? A handwritten I.O.U for a day's worth of vintage dresses. Yes please!

Off we popped on the overground train to Shoreditch for a couple of hours of shopping. We only managed to fit in two shops- old faithful Absolute Vintage and new find Blitz (which I blogged about here). Blitz was fantastic, as I had hoped. The stock was really well chosen and the staff were helpful and attentive. I managed to find 3 dresses in there- two above and one below. As you can see the prices weren't dirt cheap, but they weren't extortionate either. The black one below was the most expensive, but the condition was amazing. In Absolute, I managed to find the perfect little leather back pack in the £1 bargain bin because the clasp was broken. It's easily fixable so this was a mega bargain, considering the ones I've been looking at on eBay have been going for £30-£50!

Four dresses later and I was shopped out and Ed was nursing his wallet. In the afternoon, we went to see The Inbetweeners at the Everyman cinema and had a couple of Mojito's served to our seats (if you haven't been to an Everyman cinema, I highly recommend!) and the evening consisted of a very good steak frites and Creme Brulee.

What I wore to eat steak frites:
Cotton and lace 50's dress (now realising , also slightly see through!) £38 Blitz Vintage
Tooled belt: as before
Faux leather Jacket: old Primark
Sandals: as before.

A new deer to add to my collection from my dear friend Vicky.

Beautiful toile M&S tea towels, from my mum. Surely too pretty to dry the dishes with?

Yesterday, my best friend Ellen (whose birthday is only 3 days after mine and who I am posing with in the photo above) and I had a mini party with our friends at The Edinboro Castle in Camden. A very early tequila shot, two delicious cakes, lots of lovely presents and a huge rainbow later, we all went back to ours for a night of cards, beer and Match of the Day. In bed before twelve on a bank holiday? Think I may have just turned 75, not 25.

P.s Hello new followers! I've had a mini influx recently so thank you so much for following and please say hello if you fancy it.

Project Take 10: Lomography

Mini Diana En Rose with Flash- Lomography
Vintage chiffon dress- eBay
Peep toe sandals- New Look
Tooled belt- charity shop
Specs- London Retro
Silver and agate rings- all Camden market and Shopbop

The rest of the girls look amazing:
Paula, Harriet, Susie, Sabine, Sarah, Jen, Vicki, MJ, Sherin

It's August, it's 2 days until my birthday (you didn't think I'd let you forget did you?) and it's time for my favourite Take 10 ever. Since August marks the 1 year anniversary of the Take 10 project, we decided to do something a little different and as you've probably noticed, there are no items of clothing involved.

When I heard Lomo mentioned in relation to possible sponsors, I was very, very excited and more than a little surprised. I've owned various Lomography cameras over the past few years and have loved every single one, but for those of you not familiar with what a Lomo is, let's start from scratch.

Lomography is the name of an Austrian (and now global) company which specialise in producing analogue film cameras of all shapes and sizes. They also championed an experimental, artistic photographic movement whose devotees are known as Lomographers and which, in recent years, has filtered through into the mainstream. All of those arty, fisheye/vintage effects on your Instagram and Hipstamatic iPhone apps? They are all derived from analogue film effects and what happens when you use out of date 35mm film.

When the lovely people at Lomo gave us free reign to choose any camera we liked, I knew I'd want a Diana Mini. When I saw they had a special edition called the En Rose it was love at first sight.
The Diana Mini is a great beginner Lomo: cute, compact, practical. They take normal 35mm film, so no fussing with specialist bits and bobs and are very simple to get up and running. I'll be trying this one out over the next few weeks and sharing my finished photos as soon as they're back from the developer.

As for my outfit, I wanted something playful to match the toy camera so paired this ultimate neck accessory with an eBay-found sea-foam green chiffon dress and matching stone rings. It's a pale enough canvas to let the camera do all the talking!

The British love a Kew.

Kew Gardens is one of the only big London attractions I've not visited the whole 3 years I've lived here and with Ed having greenery-withdrawal symptoms ever since he moved to London from the countryside, it seemed better late than never.

After a nice early breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee to soothe our hungover heads, Ed and I jumped on the overground and rode the short journey to Kew. The tickets were £13 but I managed to find a 20% off voucher online which made the it a pretty cheap all-day outing. I wish we'd been more prepared, as we saw loads of people with picnics and packed lunches spread out on the grass, whereas us mugs bought lunch at a tenner a pop. Also: good gift shop! Could have spent hundreds on scented candles and pottery, but miraculously refrained.
The range of flowers, from abundant rose gardens to once-flowering exotics, made for lots of pretty photos and Ed had a ball trying to memorise their latin names (I told you we were geeks!).
We spent hours wandering the grounds and beautiful old temperate houses and when we left, due to a huge and relentless downpour, there was still a lot of the garden we hadn't seen. Definitely recommended if you have a spare afternoon before Autumn sets in!

Let's have a cocktail party!

I've been hankering after a cocktail for a couple of weeks but a tooth extraction, a course of antibiotics and strong liquor don't mix terribly well. All healed and well again, I popped to the shops on Friday to celebrate the end of my sobriety and bought a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin.
I experimented with a few ingredients and came up with two simple gin mixes, both featuring the elderflower wine I bought when we were in Cornwall. Happy cocktail hour!

I bought Bombay Sapphire, a mid-range price bracket gin. Skint? Go for own-brand gin. Flush? Go for Hendricks. If you aren't a gin fan then I'm not your friend anymore. Only joking, you could replace the gin with vodka, if you really want to.
Elderflower Wine.
I bought mine at source, from Healeys Cyder Farm in Cornwall. If you struggle to find it, you could also use St Germain Elderflower liqueur (will make it killer strong!) or simple elderflower cordial (less strong).
Indian Tonic
Apple juice
Simple syrup (good recipe here)
Fresh mint leaves
Blackberries and strawberries to garnish.

Pretty Drunk Punch.

Mix 2 parts gin to 2 parts elderflower wine, add one teaspoon of simple syrup to sweeten. Top up with ice cold Indian tonic water and garnish with mint and strawberry.

Hazy Gin & Juice.

Mix 2 parts gin with 1 part elderflower wine, top up with apple juice. Add a couple of mint leaves and a blackberry. Leave to infuse for a few minutes. Drink from a tea cup.

If I'm a good girl...

A yearly tradition, if you're even slightly spoiled on the anniversary of your birth, is the birthday wishlist. It's shameful, materialistic, arrogant and very Veruca-Salt of me but if I promise to be a very good girl, please can someone buy me...

A simple babydoll dress from Peacocks for the bargain price of £15. I can think of a hundred ways to wear this, it's easy to dress up and down and reminds me of 60's babe Jane Birkin. What more could you want from a dress?
A Cambridge Satchel Company limited-edition, exclusive to ASOS in navy and floral leather. Bags are my absolute downfall, but most of all I love satchel-style bags. I have about twenty and am not even remotely sick of them yet. Add it to the pile, I say.
I stumbled onto Chie Mihara shoes on Spartoo recently and really like the hand-crafted, unusual look of all the designs. There's a vintage air to them and you can tell just from the photos that the quality would be great, which isn't evident with a lot of brands, This pair, Falco, are a dream in the shape of a platformed-brogue-cum-loafer.
Did I tell you I'm a bit of a geek? I like dinosaurs and fossils and shells and geological features. I like this Topshop Tee And Cake sweatshirt because it tells everyone I'm a geek without me having to actually say anything. Triceratops FTW.

I've told everyone who's asked that I want this book for my birthday, so will probably end up with multiple copies, but I don't care because it is beautiful! I flicked through it in Waterstones the other day and fell in big love with it. The best thing about it is that it's not another one of those exquisitely illustrated tomes with zero useful content. It's got heaps of recipes, ideas and inspiration that could be used for a wedding, a party or home interiors. I want to be the hostess with the mostess!

I realised the other day that I have neglected my iPod of late, even though I listen to it every day on the bus to and from work. This must be remedied: Noah & The Whale, The Horrors and The Kills new albums are all to be bought ASAP.
I better catch up on the hype around the new PJ Harvey album, Let England Shake, soon too: my wonderful best friend managed to snag two PJ Harvey tickets for her show at the Royal Albert Hall in October. A little birthday present to myself perhaps?