All Hallows' Family Album

These cabinet cards were included in an antique photo album I bought from Etsy for a wedding project and aren't they brilliant? All from the late 1800's and mainly originating from New York and New Jersey, I thought they were suitably creepy for this wonderful All Hallows' Eve. Have a terrifying time whatever you're doing!

Happy Halloween and feliz Dia de Los Muertos!

HOOTY: Halloween Outfit of the Year

As another year rushes by, the tradition of creating a last minute Halloween costume for a few pounds has creeped (no pun) up on us. I've managed it so many times, I must be considered a pro by now. To celebrate the season this year we went to a club night called Dark Party in Luton for a night of all-American zombie prom fun. Spiked punch, a photographers booth and a lot of kitsch tinsel on the walls plus some dancing to the Monster Mash made for a very fun night and a not-so-fun next morning.

I bought this amazingly tacky fringed cowgirl dress from a vintage shop bargain bin in Manchester a few months ago for £2. It was really long, like some hideous Wild West-style maxi dress, so I chopped off a good few inches. I made us both sashes out of some ribbon and a marker pen so that we could be King & Queen of the Rodeo. Where he added a cowboy hat, I added a tiara and the largest beehive I could manage. The eagle-eyed will spot that Ed wore the shirt I bought and mentioned in my last post- it looked perfect and went with the theme so I gave it up for one night.

It took numerous bottles of Angel Costumiers best fake blood, some pans of white face paint and a lot of hairspray but eventually we had one dead cheerleader, two Prom date couples and a hung witch between us.

Have you already partied for Halloween? Did we do OK? If you're waiting until tomorrow, do share your costume plans!

ASOS Marketplace Wish List

I’ve been considering opening an ASOS Marketplace store to sell lots of my old vintage clothing and accessories for a while now. It seems a better option than eBay fees-wise and they seem to have a large customer base. In the name of research, I’ve been scanning the different boutiques to see how it all works and what seems popular and have fallen in love with a few items along the way.

I wish I could pull off more headgear. If I could I would most definitely be buying one of these mini Ice Queen crowns from Abilu Creations and this vintage velvet flower hat from Adorn Vintage. Two very different pieces indeed, one for winter and snow, one for spring and blossom.

I love this Marant-esque shirt from Kissing Cows Vintage. I love it so much that I bought it. Oops. That still counts as research right? I’ve loved these cowboy shirts for ages, but usually on guys. Give me a man in an embroidered Western number and I’ll be a very happy bunny. Maybe if this one doesn’t fit I could persuade Ed into it. Olivia has been wearing one recently and I've become all green with envy at how nice it looks.

Want to know a little secret? The reason I'm trying to lose weight at the moment is not for any health or confidence benefit, like it should be. It's so that I can fit into beautiful finds like these two 1950's ethereal dresses from Madam Popoff Vintage. If I lived in California, wore a size 8 and could walk around barefoot everyday, this is what I would be wearing. The circle skirt below, also from Madam Popoff, would be for my fifties mistress alter-ego days, where I'd drink copious amount of gin and stumble around Hollywood in a haze of cigarette smoke.

And finally, this lovely little gem of a lucite bag from Adorn Vintage that is currently in their sale for a dot over £20. So pretty and perfect for next summer (yes, I'm already dreaming about summer). Just don't take it to the beach with you as you may never find it again!

Have you bought/sold through ASOS Marketplace? What did you think of the experience? Would you recommend it as a good place to set up an online shop? Would love to hear some more personal experiences!

Goings-On | iPhone Advice

1. New to me/vintage Paris pennant flag. I think I may have kicked off a new obsession. I'd love a wall full of them.
2. Wedding update...we went with the tipi tents! After much deliberation and explaining many times to people that I hate traditional marquees, I had everyone agreeing with me after we saw them at an open day.
3. Giving the thrifted kimono from my last post it's first outing. Also, I haven't had my hair coloured in nearly two months but I'm loving the colour at the minute. The roots are another issue, but let's ignore them!
4. The tipi open day was held at the Hitchin Lavender Farm and even though the fields are no longer purple, they're still very beautiful.

5. Speaking of hair, I spotted this advert in a magazine and have decided this is my perfect wedding hair. Something loose, vintage-inspired and vibrant.
6. I've been after a leather jacket for about 7 years and have never had any luck, they're either too boxy, too modern or not actually leather. Then I noticed the Whistles jackets, whilst simultaneously eyeing up their Grazia 25% off voucher. It was a bit of a blur and the most expensive clothing investment of my life, but I bloody love it.
7 & 8. Ed and I visited the new Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain a couple of weeks ago. I'm a huge Brotherhood fangirl, my favourite being Millais and his Ophelia. It was a wonderful exhibition and I was impressed at the amount of works there but, as usual, disappointed by the crowds and amount of school kids plonked on the floor right in front of so many of the paintings.

9. Finally got our sorry-excuse-for-Londoner selves to Meat Liquor. It was a terrible mistake. I have developed an addiction to their onion rings and chicken burger.
10. My bus ride home everyday through Camden.
11. My buildings staircase at work
12. Another new addiction: Kraken and Old Jamaica aka a Dark 'N' Stormy: my Autumn tipple of choice.
You might notice my photos are alot clearer recently! I finally upgraded my lowly iPhone 3GS, which I’d had for about 2 years, to the new iPhone 5 a couple of weeks ago. I’m not really that into gadgets and geekery but I love it! I’ve read reviews that say not a lot has changed since the iPhone 4S but, since I skipped that addition to the iPhone family, I’ve noticed some great changes. The camera is so much better than my old one and having a flash is such a bonus. It means that I’ve been using Instagram a lot more and I can really tell the difference in the quality of my photos. All the photos above were taken with the new iPhone and they are so much clearer than the old ones. I signed up for my contract through Vodafone (an above board Friends and Family deal as Ed works for them) but you can check out the various tariffs available on different networks on the Carphone Warehouse website.

Being proud of my phone for the first time in ages has also meant I’m eyeing up lots of lovely covers for it. I bought the glitter case from eBay here for a total of £1.30! Etsy also have some amazing cases but it’s all about the glitter for me and this one is next on my list.

Anyone else upgraded to the 5 recently? My home-screen is looking a little bare so I need some advice from you lovely folk. Do you have an app you can't live without or spotted a cover that needs to be shared? I need some more of both in my life so feel free to get recommending!

Heaven & Hell: A Tale of Two Events

This week I was kindly invited to attend two events which could not have been more different to each other. First up, on Tuesday, was the first anniversary party for Laura Ashley's lovely blog. I arrived with Katrina from Muffin Top Vintage to a perfectly decorated room, scented with their new perfume and candles from their Christmas range and completed with a huge wishing tree full of pretty gifts.

The styling was great- lots of wooden animals I'd quite like to live in my house, glass bell jars and metal leaves, but the cherry on top were the Earl Grey and quince vodka cocktails served by the one and only Angel Adoree from Vintage Patisserie. I felt a little starstruck having followed her brilliant success since Dragons Den and it was a pleasure to be personally poured one of her delicious concoctions.

I also finally got to meet Ella (above with the equally awesome Emma Block), Becky, Anna and Laura which was an absolute pleasure.

Lily looking aptly spooky.

In stark contrast to all the pastels and forest animals was the #LookScary halloween party later in the week, hosted by Lily and Zoe for Blackberry and O2. 

We all sat doing our make up in a pub beforehand, drinking wine and marvelling at all the amazing costumes (Law definitely won best-dressed with her evil dolly creation) and wandered over to London Dungeons to meet our fate. 

Honestly, it was one of the best blog events I've been to in forever. The combination of fancy dress, the interactive tour which I was surprised to find absolutely terrifying (I screamed constantly!) and the little extras that included a very talented mind reader, tarot reader and yummy canap├ęs (not to mention too much wine) made for a very fun and gore-filled night. 

I kept forgetting it was a sponsored event as it just seemed like someones birthday party, no awkward chat or laboured speeches from PR's in sight, just one hell of good time. And I loved the official photos! 

Amy, one of the lovely organisers Simon and me.

Sarah, Law and Lucy

With Zoe rocking her Gaga outfit.

Sarah, Mel and Sophie getting their stocks on.

The best car boot sale in London?

Let's play a little game shall we? I'd like you to guess how much I paid for this little stash of goodies from this weeks car boot sale. Let me tell you all about them first...

A 50ml, still sealed, bottle of Diptyque's Philosykos. Not only is this one of my most awesome car boot finds ever (it retails at £50!!) it also happens to be my favourite Diptyque scent. 

From the same lady, I bought this brand new Cowshed Wild Cow candle, also brand new. It was still extremely fresh, which I always check for in toiletries and candles at car boot sales. The smell was very strong and not stale or diminished. This retails for £30.

Another pretty vessel to hold flowers for the wedding was found in this Hornsea Fauna vase complete with miniature fawn, perfect for some wild poseys full of pastel goodness. 

If you're anything like me, you'll have a list of Holy Grail car boot or jumble finds. For me, it's always been the same: any type of taxidermy, glass bell jars, deer ornaments (see above) and an old Barbour jacket. Well, I guess I can finally cross that last one off my list. I managed to spot a very old, well-worn Barbour Durham jacket in need of a good re-oiling. It's huge on me, but I love it. Just right for wintery walks on the Heath.

And lastly, a very kind lady spotted me rummaging through her vintage costume jewellery and pointed out this beautiful cotton kimono-style robe that she was selling. She told me that she bought in on Kings Road in the seventies, but you could never tell. It's in remarkably good condition and the fabric is so detailed.

So, have you made your guess? Right, let me break it down for you:

Philosykos perfume: £2
Cowshed Candle: £2
Hornsea fawn vase: £2
Barbour jacket: £3
Kimono robe: £1

Yep, that's exactly a tenner for all of that. Ha! I can still hardly believe it myself. I think the key to it being such a treasure trove is that it happens in a school playground. First dibs on tables goes to parents of children at the school and, seeing as it's in quite an affluent area,  this includes Mum's with cupboards full of unused treats and wardrobes bursting with brands. If anyone who live in the North London area would like to know where this little gem happens to take place then just let me know in a comment, I'd be happy to share the top secret location. Sadly, it is quite irregular but the wait is always worth it!

Wedding DIY: Chair Decorations

I'm finally making a start on all the DIY projects we have planned for the wedding. There are 8 months to go (bloody hell!) and I think I may have to complete one weekly to get them all finished in time!

I started with a relatively easy project: Bride & Groom doily chair decorations. These could be adapted to create lengths of decorative bunting or kept short and sweet like mine for dessert tables or other signage.

I sourced my doilies from a pound shop but have seen them for sale everywhere, including most supermarkets and the pack I bought included 60 doilies in three different sizes. I used the smallest size for this project. The spray adhesive was a fiver from a DIY shop and will last for many more DIYS, so it is more of an investment purchase.

The glitter letters are optional. These were, again, from a pound shop and I loved them so much that I stocked up on about 10 packs. Alternatively, you could use glitter and glue to create a similar effect or even hand-illustrate the lettering with coloured markers.

I used garden twine, but any string could be used or ribbon if you wanted something more delicate.

  • Firstly, fold in half the amount of doilies that you need to create each banner (one per letter). For mine, it was 5 for each. 
  • You can now measure how much twine you'll need by lining up each folded doily against the twine and added at least 3 inches each side to allow for a knotted loop for hanging. 
  • Next up, you'll need to cover half of the doily with a protective piece of paper or plastic. You don't want to get the glue on the half of the doily that will host the lettering/decoration. This is because the glue can seep through the doily and make it look a bit messy. 
  • Spray very lightly for only 1 or 2 seconds.
  • I also placed the twine underneath so that it was easy to whip away the covering and fold over the doily without any faffing about.
When all your doilies are secured, you can add your lettering. I simply popped mine on making sure they were all evenly spread, added a loop each end and repeated the process for the second banner.

Voila! Chair decorations for less than £1 a piece!

In other news, last weekend I found and bought THE dress! I'm hopelessly in love with it, is that normal?!

Remember these? Christmas nostalgia

Yes, I am one of those people who have started thinking about Christmas already and I am not apologising for it. Once my birthday in August has passed, I get a bit giddy with excitement about it all. Thanks to the wonderful A Thrifty Mrs and her amazing organisational posts about purchasing gifts and supplies in the run-up, I now have no shame about buying little odds and ends 3 months before the day itself.

I’ve been this way since I was a child and my enthusiasm has never wavered. It must be in my genes because I loved making cards in October, wreaths in November and taking a fiver into school for the Christmas gift shop. Did anyone else have those at school? It was basically a Pound Shop set up in one of the classrooms. I remember buying my Dad sets of shoe polish and tape measures and my Mum scented drawer-liners and novelty soaps. Poor things.

I was quite the traditionalist in my own Dear Santa letters, never asking for the latest gadgets or electrical toys, instead wanting craft sets or a nice set of paints.

My favourite present, even to this day (sorry Ed!), was a Royal Mail replica Post Office. You must remember them? They came with everything you needed to run a functioning Post Office as an 8 year old child: fake stamps, ink pads, tiny air mail envelopes, a fairy-sized set of scales, a little counter to sit behind and even a name-badge to complete the fantasy of being your very own Post Master.

I used to play for hours on it and force my family to write nonsense letters to imaginary relatives just so that I could ask them if they’d like it sent 1st or 2nd class and letting them know in a weirdly acquired regional accent: ‘That’s going t’have to be sent as an outsized parcel m’dear’. Oh, the joy it gave me!

I ended up with quite the collection of miniature establishments: a sweet shop (didn’t last long because I scoffed all the stock), some sort of weird green grocers that only old tinned products (that was a total non-starter, reminded me too much of school’s harvest festival with all those tins) and a newsagent (another favourite of mine). My mum only stopped buying them for me because we ran out of space for them all.

They obviously had a big influence on me because, even now, my dream in life is own and run an actual bricks and mortar shop. I just thank god that my obsession wasn't dolls or cartoon characters, who knows what ambitions I would have then…

This was my entry for a competition run by DotComGiftShop to promote their Christmas range and for the opportunity to win an iPad, but don't hold that against me because I had a lot of fun writing this!

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Project Take 10: Happy Birthday Next

Coat: Next
Dress: vintage at Beyond Retro
Shoes: vintage Chanel

For Take 10 this month, we have been joined by the high-street stalwart Next, who happen to be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. In honour of their Pearl celebrations, they have designed and launched a range of thirty key pieces across Womenswear, Menswear, Childrenswear and Homeware with some very modern takes on classic pieces.

I chose a navy, single-breasted boyfriend-style coat from their range of ladies coats, partly because I swore to myself last winter that I would never again string out the life of a summer jacket way into the deep, dark days of winter.

I like this coat because it has simple, clean lines, can look smart with minimal effort and is warm enough to see me through to the new year with only a touch of frostbite. The cut is reasonably flattering, but I much prefer it undone and I've taken to rolling the sleeves slightly to stop it from being too stuffy. You can't see it in my photos because of my hair, but it also has a rather cool pleather collar which saves it from being too boring. When I wear it, I feel polished, even when I'm struggling with bags and earphones and travel cards and loose change and fag packets. This alone is a bloody revelation, I can tell you.

I wore the coat over my new favourite vintage purchase, a sixties crepe cocktail dress which I bought from Beyond Retro for £30. A plain, well fitting black dress has been on my 'vintage must have' list for at least a year and this one, with it's perfect darts, low back and big bow ticked every one of my boxes. Shoes-wise, I dug out my second-hand Chanel pumps which are one of my all-time greatest finds. They were from the Mary Portas Living & Giving shop, donated by a very wealthy Primrose Hill-ite and mine for only £20.

So, what do you think? Have you chosen your winter coat yet? Or are you still desperately clinging to your summer cover-ups? 

The other Take Tenner's have chosen some lovely pieces and you can see them all below: