Sampling Diptyque

I'm not loyal to many brands. If someone, somewhere makes a better or cheaper version, I'll suffer no guilty conscience moving to another brand. I do have exceptions though and for perfume, Diptyque is one of them. 

I currently own L'Ombre dans L'Eau- a strong rose and blackcurrent scent- in the black bakelite travel edition. As an eau de toilette, it lasts a remarkably long time and I like that I'm wearing a very individual, pretty uncommon scent. I guess I'm a bit of a perfume snob, I can't understand people that still wear Charlie Red or Bodyshop's finest when there are so many other smells to make your own (I'm sorry if this is you, but I promise there are some amazing olfactory delights waiting for you!)

I get quite a few emails about launches and press days for brands I'm not particularly interested in, so when I received an invite from Diptyque it was one I instantly said yes to.  I spent a lovely afternoon visiting their West End store, sampled their new EDP editions and also managed to grab a few minutes with the UK Managing Director Amanda Morgan who went through some of the perfumed body products with me- the exfoliator is one of her favourite products.

Have you tried Diptyque? What did you think?

Dappled Light

We had a family gathering this weekend when my parents travelled down to Ed's beautiful family home in a small Hampshire town. I think I've shown his amazing garden on here before but it's too perfect not to show again- they have a river (or a tributary if you'd like to get technical) and an oak post bridge that Ed's dad built himself.

I thought I'd wear my new Hobbs NW3 dress that I bought last week. I sneaked in on my lunch break to find they had a pretty great sale on and managed to find two dresses that I loved for over 50% off. Still expensive, but they're the only pieces of clothing I've bought this month so I didn't feel too guilty. Buy less but better, one of my new year resolutions which I've done very well in sticking to!

This one is great for work, it's quite simple but a really nice fit and so easy to just throw on when I don't have time to think about what to wear, but doesn't make me feel like a slob for doing so!

P.s Happy Birthday Sarah! I hope you had a wonderful party last night!

A £100 Summer Giveaway!

I haven't held a giveaway for a long time on Pretty Much Penniless so thought it was about time!

Smart Buy Glasses have come up trumps with a fantastic prize: a £100 voucher to spend on any of their sunglasses, prescription glasses or contact lenses.

What would you choose with £100? I'd put the voucher towards this amazing pair of gold scallop-edged Chloe sunnies or, as an ode to the wonderful Nicolette, I'd buy a pair of the amazing silvery glittery Miu Miu sunglasses that she owns in pink.

Or, if you don't fancy stumping up extra cash, you could choose a pair of Ray Bans like the Clubmaster style below, a true classic.

Fancy yourself some new sunglasses before Summer is well and truly over?  If you'd like to enter I've employed the hopefully straightforward Rafflecopter method to deal with the entries. 

Simply follow the instructions in the widget and the winner will be picked in 15 days time!

EDIT: The competition is open to EVERYONE internationally!

For any queries, please just leave me a comment below and I'll come back to you ASAP. 

Cheap Date Night

This weekend was my good friend Mandy's birthday (that's her strumming away on her new birthday guitar!) and we celebrated with a gin-fuelled night of poker and hi-jinx.

We gathered our set of chips (that I found at a car boot sale last year for 50p), some playing cards, copious gins-in-tins and my very special but slightly insane Las Vegas visor which, fact finders, hilariously turns out to be the same one worn by Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing- I can assure you there were no bad acid trips involved here! 

Last September, as part of the epic road trip we undertook, we all went to Las Vegas together and played various casino games whilst there but we kind of sucked at it and gave up before we lost too much money. Playing with the chips meant we could still have all the fun but none of the risk, literally a win-win situation! Or, as in my case, lose-lose-win-lose-lose. 

It's also a great idea if you're strapped for cash and want something a bit more lively than a dinner party or a movie with friends. The experienced ones amongst us wrote out all the winning hands on a piece of paper for people to refer back to and spent a fraught half hour explaining the rules. 
Even though Ed's face doesn't look too impressed in that photo up there (he didn't like wearing the hat), I can assure you we all had a really good time and learnt something new- the retainment of which may or may not have been impaired by exaggerated gin-intake. 

Any other good ideas for inventive, cheap nights with friends? Sometimes, watching You've Been Framed repeats on a Saturday night, shovelling crisps and Tzatziki down your throat just gets a little boring.*

*Who am I kidding? No, no it doesn't. It never gets old. Ever.

The Favourite Places Project

If you had to choose your favourite shop or place, where would you choose? Is it somewhere you get lost in for hours? Do afternoons turn into evenings and light into night? 
When Lisa Brown asked me the same question and asked if I'd like to take part in a series of portraits she's producing for her blog, I knew in an instant where I would pick. 

Lisa is an incredible wedding photographer with whom I was in contact after seeing her work on Rock 'n' Roll Bride, so the chance to pose (if you can call my appalling attempts that) for her was always going to be a given. I've been dying to share these photos ever since they were taken some two months back, so I'm excited to finally post them!

After a little think, I chose Drink, Shop, Do in London, the cafe/bar/shop and teaching space that I've mentioned many times before. I love it because I'd love to own it. It's the exact sort of wonderful establishment that I would like to run one day.

The shoot itself mainly consisted of me and Lisa chatting for a good couple of hours over cake and cocktails and getting progressively more drunk by the minute. I was nervous before, but Lisa turned out to be the most awesome, relaxed, down to earth lady ever which made it all less daunting.

Anyway, I hope you like them! And, if you're getting married soon, make sure you take a look at Lisa's work. And not just because she's a total babe.

Camp Wonderful

Latitude Festival isn't quite up there with Glastonbury or V in terms of popularity just yet, but for that I am infinitely glad. 

Set in the grounds of Henham Park in Suffolk, the tagline chimes 'It's more than just a music festival' and it really is. There are individual Poetry, Literature, Comedy, Cabaret and Theatre tents plus a huge main stage, The Faraway Forest, Pandoras Playground and surprises too numerous to mention

I thought I'd share some photos of my weekend there, now that I'm home, clean and fed. There were killer bands (my favourite of the weekend being M83, Django Django, Metronomy, Theme Park, First Aid Kit and Bon Iver), poets (specifically the legend that is John Cooper Clarke), pastel sheep, a retro haircut caravan, fireworks for Elbow's headline slot, an Evo hair salon where I had a blissful wash and blow-dry on Sunday morning and more mud than you could shake a welly at. 

I wouldn't change it for anything though. Take me back, please!

Anyone else going to any festivals this year? I'm thinking of doing a post soon with all the things I've learnt in the ten years I've been going to festivals- tips, what to take and more importantly what NOT to take, that sort of thing. If anyone's going to their first festival this year and needs a bit of guidance, let me know!

Project Take 10: Uniqlo

Uniqlo are the sponsors of our most recent Take 10 challenge and the super team behind the brand arranged for us to have a mix of their well-known collaboration t-shirts. I lucked out with a pastel blue number from the Laura Ashley Archive collection.

I love Laura Ashley and their iconic prints but t-shirts in general just aren't my 'thing'. I love a band t-shirt, but put anything remotely twee on a tee and it instantly sends me shopping the other way. I think it's because on a girl who has boobs and hips, they never look effortlessly cool. The people I envy can pull off t-shirts. They ooze nonchalance whilst shrugging: 'This old thing? I just rolled out of bed and grabbed the first thing from my drawer'.

Well, that just isn't me, so instead of slinging it on with jeans, I decided to roll and tie the t-shirt up at the back (a great tip for any t-shirts that are too long/baggy to be flattering!) and wear it over a vintage yellow summer dress that I bought from Blitz Vintage and added my ASOS crochet collar and my Hasbeen lookalikes.

The trench was a bit of an after-thought. We wanted a British theme to the challenge and what could be more steeped in British history than a beige belted mac?

This one has a little story- I found it in one of my new discoveries, the fantastic Salvation Army charity shop on Princes Street in Soho. It's by Mint Velvet, who I'd never heard of, in brand new condition priced at £22. Pricey for a charity shop, but when you've been looking for the perfect mac for as long as I have, it was worth it.
After some sleuthing online, I discovered Mint Velvet is sold online at House of Fraser and then BAM. Here it is, priced at £119. It's doesn't look like it's available to buy at the moment as it's a season old, a shame because it's the perfect jacket for this near-on apocalyptic weather we've been having.


How would you have styled the t-shirt to echo Laura Ashley's great British heritage? The other Take 10 girls all look incredible- I love Olivia's monochrome outfit!

Jen: A Little Bird Told Me Fritha: Fish Tank Fashion Sherin: HiFashion Vicki: Magpie Girl Paula: Pinkbow Lucy: Snippets of Shiny Thoughts Olivia: What Olivia Did Sarah: We Shop Therefore We Are Harriet: Where Is Harriet

We've also all been pinning away with our own inspiration boards on Pinterest, come take a look!

A Vintage-inspired Home

I’m not a jealous girl. Well, not much anyway. I don’t turn green at the sight of other people’s designer bags or luxury holidays, their nice cars or hairdo's. 

The only thing I crave on a regular basis? A pretty house. Seeing glimpses of Cait’s beautiful home on Instagram often sets my pulse racing. I’ve started creating Pinterest boards for every room in my future-house, which is obsessive AND overly premature- most of them are purely fantasy anyway. What would happen to all those ideas I pinned for my prospective walk in wardrobe/ home cinema/ indoor swimming pool?!

Thoughts of buying a spacious, three-bedroomed apartment with views of the sea are at the forefront of my mind right now so, naturally, it has also wandered into furnishing territory.

I'd like a collection of fifties/sixties-style furniture because it's practical and simplistic, but also because it reminds me of my family and of the set of three Ercol nesting tables my Mum & Dad have owned for years.

Fashion for Home are a Berlin-based company which offer refreshing, classically designed furniture and good value. Delivery is free, they make to order to cut out middle men and storage costs and they have a stringent ethical policy, as proven by their membership of the Sustainable Furnishings Council.

The range above is exactly the sort of thing I'd love one day- clean lines, vintage-inspired and shelves that I could imagine would house my collection of thrifted junk rather well! The sofa is just lovely, this style has always been a favourite of mine. I think the delicate spindle legs just make them look so much more elegant than modern ones.

What would you love to have in your house one day? Are you more of a modernist than me? Maybe you think vintage is great for clothing, but not so much for home comforts?