All Hallow's Eve

A weekend of charity shopping and fancy dress is my sort of weekend. I went back to see my parents on Friday and my Mum and I did the rounds of the town charity shops. Luton is so much cheaper than London when it comes to thrifting, I managed to get 5 old books, a dress, 3 plates and a few other trinkets for just under a tenner.

I've not written about any of my shop finds since America, so there's a huge pile to be photographed. The light in the evenings is so dim now, it's very hard to get good enough pictures in our two-window flat. The only thing I've managed to capture is the Day of the Dead tile that I bought in Death Valley. Perfect to hang up this time of year and I love it so much that I doubt it will be coming down anytime soon.

Last night, a big bunch of us went out to a zombie beach themed night at a local club-night called Dark Party. Dressing in Hawaiian print and lei's and at the same time covering ourselves in white paint and lashings of blood seemed a little odd, but we had a total hoot nonetheless. Nothing like having a dance to some fifties rockabilly and the Monster Mash to celebrate All Hallows Eve!

Breast Cancer Raffle: Friday 28th October!

The wonderful Sarah of Essbeevee has gallantly put together a fantastic fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness in the form of a raffle.

This Friday 28th October, for one day only, you'll be able to buy tickets at £2 a pop to be entered into a draw to win one or more of the following prizes, with more being added daily:

£50 of Debenhams vouchers
£20 of Clippy vouchers
A selection of House of Holland tights from MyTights
An October Glossybox
Handmade bracelets by Sophie
£20 gift voucher for Crown & Glory
£30 gift voucher for my Etsy shop
A special vintage piece from Darwin & Delilah

You don't have to be a blogger to participate and all you'll need to do is visit the Just Giving site here on Friday 28th October and buy as many tickets as you can afford! It's open to everyone who resides in the UK, so do get your family and friends involved!

If there are any other companies reading this who would like to donate to the cause, please get in contact with Sarah by emailing her at

Gosling, make my Halloween.

Google the words ‘Dear Ryan Gosling…’ and it results in hundreds upon hundreds of impassioned billets-doux, some hilarious, some terrifyingly serious. I haven’t written one myself just yet because I don't think I could top this amazingly funny and astute open letter by Meghan O'Keefe over at Hello Giggles.

I do, however, sometimes daydream that inbetween snogging the face off Mendes and playing 40’s police sergeants, Gosling sits down with a cup of tea and his beloved George to read them all. This obviously doesn’t happen, because he’s so aloof and beautiful and a very busy man, but it’s a nice daydream.

I could talk about Gosling all day. About all the great films he’s done. About the time he wore that crazy pajama top to Cannes and all I could think about was eating breakfast with him. About the way he constantly gnaws on that toothpick in Drive. About that clip of him breaking up a fight on a New York sidewalk and then admitting he was embarrassed about the whole thing. As I write this, I'm watching Half Nelson because, evidently, I can't go for a week without watching his face on my TV.

Uber Goslettes, Loulou and Laetitia, dedicated a whole show to Gosling on Babe Time Radio (which you should be listening to) and they also mention Dead Man's Bones, Gosling's band with his friend Zach Shields. I've been listening to them for about six months now and since we're a week away from Halloween, I thought this would be the perfect time to share them.

Firstly, Ryan can sing. None of this auto-tune crap or music so loud there's no need for the ability to carry a note. He has a wonderful voice, sort of spooky and deep, like the narrator from an early episode of The Twilight Zone. Inspired by Disney's Haunted Mansion, doo wop and 60's girl groups, their music is the perfect accompaniment to this time of year. It's actually the sort of music I've been waiting for all my life. Theatrical and dark, but with a homespun edge of silliness and fun. They always perform with a local youth choir who are usually all dressed up in their trick or treating finest. The kids are amazing. And Gosling with the kids: me swooning all over the place.

Their album came out this time back in 2009 and it's rumoured they've been finishing up their second album in time for a new year release. God, I hope it's true. A few of their video's are below so do let me know what you think!

Dance party in an old folks home. I die:

Project Take 10: Next

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's been shivering away in a blazer and a flimsy scarf over the last few days. Summer is a distant memory so I've reluctantly been packing away dresses and sandals till next year. The temperature has plummeted this week so thank goodness Next came along with this pillar box-red coat for us Take 10 girls to wear.

I rarely wear a coat without a scarf so decided to go glam with a full-on faux fur collar. My bright yellow vintage dress can just be seen underneath and I just couldn't resist wearing my wedge sandals one last time before they went in a suitcase until next summer. There's also a sneak peek at the gorgeous leather satchel I bought from a car boot sale last week for the princely sum of £1.50.

I love how the other girls wore the coat, it looks so different on us all!

Paula, Harriet, Susie, Sabine, Sarah, Jen, Vicki, MJ, Sherin

The Hitched List #2: Alternative Wedding Shoes

Shoes from Topshop.

Wedding shoes are something I've always found, in general, to be ugly, impractical and not very 'me' at all. All the rows of ivory satin stilettos available in most bridal shops just don't appeal to me in the slightest and the alternatives available out there (that I've seen) aren't particularly encouraging. So, what do you when you don't fit the standard bride-to-be mould and their assumed likes & dislikes? You search for something you love, whether it be in the shape, the colour or the style and amplify it a thousand-fold for your wedding day. Well, that's what I'll be doing anyway...

Glitter, tulle, chiffon, pom poms, vintage, designer. I found shoes I adore and none of them are strictly bridal. I'm not on a Miu Miu budget I'm very sad to say, so my imaginary pair of DIY-ed glitter platforms with a pair of the chiffon shoe clips is currently making my heart sing.

And just in case you thought I'd forgotten about the groom...

Where we end: The mountains & the valleys.

So, here it is. The last set of photos from the road trip, which now seems to me to have been a hundred years ago. Even with two weeks back amongst the hum drum of reality, I notice myself slipping and thinking I still have it all to look forward to.
Soon, soon. A honeymoon adventure maybe? There’ll certainly be no more big holidays till then, what with a wedding to save and plan for in the meantime!

Yosemite was incredible, and much more beautiful than we expected. We were staying in a motel just outside the National Park, called Cedar Lodge. When we were doing our research on Google before we went, we discovered a story from 1999 about a serial killer who had worked at the lodge and killed 4 of it's occupants. Not funny. No signs of anything untoward once we arrived though, thank god, just a great motel with a huge pool nestled in the forest and next to the Merced River. We did some mini-hikes to the waterfalls in the park, dipped our toes in the river and chilled out for a couple of days. After San Fran, it was a perfectly quiet get-away from the crowds.

Now, Death Valley was something else all together. When I last went to California/Nevada, my mum insisted we drove around the valley, instead of through it because she was adamant it was too dangerously hot. I thought she was being overprotective and paranoid, but now I know exactly what she meant. Even at night, the temperature never dropped below 40 degrees. It reached 45 degrees in the daytime shade, and being a very pale Brit this meant alot of shade-time. Each of our rooms at the Furnace Creek ranch had a porch which opened up onto the golf course ('lowest in the world!' they proudly announced) with accompanying rocking chairs. If it hadn't yet reached almost cliche proportions, the rocking chairs tipped the scales.

During the days of hand-dryer-like breezes, we ate more huge buffet breakfasts and lazed by the pool. During the evenings we drank watered-down Margaritas, played charades and drove five minutes into the desert and turned off the car lights to stargaze. The quietness of the desert was eerie, with no sounds but the wind. The stars were like I've never seen them, but the isolation of it all scared me.

Las Vegas was, of course, like I imagined it but ten times larger, louder and brighter. We played on the Blackjack tables (the only game we vaguely learnt to play in preparation!), won and then lost trivial amounts of money, took advantage of the free drinks in the casinos and felt very, very sinful by the time we caught the plane home.

I'm sad the holiday didn't last longer. After saving up and anticipating it for nearly 4 years, it's hard to let it go. I urge anyone who can and wants to do this trip, DO IT! You won't regret a single thing about it. Just don't blame me if you never want to come home.

Thank you San Francisco

The Golden Gate on a beautifully clear morning.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Having a mad moment on Santa Cruz beach.

The Haight Ashbury junction

The legendary Amoeba record store

Haight Ashbury: a less scuzzy, less touristy Camden.

Alcatraz island.

From the top of Lombard Street.

At the Top of the Mark, enjoying the sunset and drinking cocktails.

Vesuvio saloon, North Beach, SF

The brilliantly titled A Fair to Remember, Columbus Ave, SF.

Thank you for being the perfect host, for shining on us and giving us such a wonderful time.

I'd been to San Francisco before, exactly 10 years previously when I was 15. I remember it being a crazy, sprawling place, I remember buying Hole albums in Amoeba and being sad about the amount of homeless people I saw.

This time around, with friends instead of family, the four of us had 3 nights there and made sure we tried to see most of the city.

The first couple of photos are from Santa Cruz boardwalk, where we stopped for a few hours on the drive to SF. It's home to a huge beach-side funfair with an old wooden roller coaster from 1924 which we rode, somewhat nervously, and loved! It might have been the heat, or the coastal air but when we got absolutely soaked on the log flume, I thought what the hell, and decided to run into the sea fully clothed.

The drive into SF was brilliant, similar to driving into New York from JFK. Out of nowhere, a family of skyscrapers rise up to greet you and you realise you're going to love it here. Haight Ashbury was my favourite area, along with the beatnik area of North Beach. Vesuvio's is an incredible saloon-style bar, with lots of hipsters still in residence, who serve a delicious Sweet Tea vodka cocktail. Kerouac and Ginsberg loved the place and became regulars once upon a time.

Haight is my idea of an almost-perfect place to live. Ridiculously good shops, vintage and new, indie bookshops, independent cafes and businesses and an awesome hippy history that is still very much evident. Yes, there are tourist places peddling the type of stuff Camden is usually drowning in, but it's not in your face or aggressive and there are enough genuinely amazing, one-off shops to make up for it.

I was sad to see the issue of the city's homeless population had worsened since I last visited. SF has double the estimated amount of homeless individuals as London it is very noticeable when you walk down any street there. The city spends over $200 million dollars a year helping people into programs and rehab but a new law brought in in 2010 to stop the homeless sitting or laying on the sidewalks for most of the day has divided opinion in SF.

Over the 3 days, we saw most of the tourist attractions:

Alcatraz- value for money, brilliant audio tour, just the right length, fascinating place and a beautiful boat ride.

The cable cars- we got a bit confused between the street cars and the cable cars at first. The cable cars (trams) are the famous ones, and purely used now by tourists. We queued to get on one, but the queue went reasonably quickly and for $6, it took us across town whilst we hung off the back like little kids. I also loved the beautiful old street cars which were really cheap and alot less busy.

Lombard Street- otherwise known as the Crooked Street. Weird and packed with tourists standing in the middle of the road, risking limbs to get a good photo.

Pier 39- Reminded me of a theme park, on a Saturday, in the school holidays. Packed full of average tourists and average tourist shops. Great views however and loads of smelly sea lions.

I've decided I could live in San Francisco, even with all of those horrendous hills and one day I'll go back for longer than 3 days.

Great America: Hidden Treasures, Topanga, CA.

Hidden Treasures
154 S Topanga Canyon Blvd
Topanga, CA 90290

After seeing Hidden Treasures raved about by Doe Deere and Mademoiselle Robot, I added it to my must-see-even-if-I-piss-off-my-mates-list of places to go in LA. None of them love tack quite like me, so I was worried it would be a bit of a selfish detour from the Pacific Coast Highway. Luckily, as you can probably see from the above, it turned out to be an all-round spectacle that even Ed quite liked. Just look at the old traveling circus lions&tigers&bears cage!

A huge old house, the type that would give anyone the creeps save for the glittery signage and brightly coloured props attached to it's exterior, converted into a maze of packed rooms and an outdoor yard full of stuff! STUFF! I love stuff! A trunk full of random scarves, racks and racks of both fancy dress and wearable vintage dresses, a fantastic knitwear selection, leathers, furs, a beautiful selection of old patchwork comforters, a $2 bargain bin and some amazing fifties cat eye glasses. And the prices, oh the prices! Old fifties prom gowns for $40 had me weeping that I hadn't bought a bigger suitcase/packed less useless clothing.

I'm not really doing it justice in the slightest, because there was just an unbelievable amount, but trust me, I want to own the place. Or a place in England just like it. Please.

P.s Of course I bought a few things, but I'm saving them for a special 'What I spent my dollar on...' post. (Which, by the way, should but won't consist of mostly tequila and shrimp.)