Monday, 31 October 2016

I have a blank wall - but LOTS of ideas!

In our house we have a dark navy wall and I wasn't sure what to do with it but thanks to all the lovely people out there on Instagram, I now have some fabulous ideas. But let me take you back a step or two...

As you can see from the above picture, the wall is high, inaccessible and it's on the way down to the first floor from the second floor, which is where our son resides in his teen cave. There's also a spare room up there and a good sized bathroom which we're all currently using as the tiles are falling off in our ensuite - but that's a whole different story/blog post.

The reasons for painting the wall this colour when we recently had the hall stairs and landing decorated were two fold:
  • First, I had noticed large hand prints appearing on the previously white wall, where said teenager was obviously coming down the stairs, leaning on it and leaving his DNA;
  • Secondly, this is the same colour as a wall in the "new bit" of the house and I liked the idea of tying the two together, as they are about as far apart as they can be. Why I liked the idea of that I don't know - sometimes I have these crazy thoughts.

  A picture of the rest of the hall, stairs and landing - we have the fish paper on three walls, all above one another

Having acquired the navy wall, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. A selection of mirrors seemed the obvious choice. I have this lovely mirror which was hand carved by my Great Uncle Frank.

When he was alive, he carved frames for portraits of the Queen and he also helped to restore the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel after the war. So it seemed fitting to use it somewhere in the house and I like that there's an emotional attachment to it already - but I wasn't sure if this was quite the right place.  This is the sort of look that I had in mind - even if not these actual mirrors - first from Cox and Cox

or something like this from Graham & Green

But then I put it out there on Instagram with a plea for help and the ideas and suggestions came flooding in, all of which were fabulous! So I would like to say thank you to everyone who responded. I've tried to mention as many of you as I can below but sorry if I've missed anyone out.

Instagram is such a lovely social media platform that I didn't mind asking for help.  I put out a special plea to Erica Davis of The Edited who is just brilliant at this sort of thing and she came back in a flash with fabulous suggestions. If you haven't done so already, do check out her blog. I'm in love with her new living room which you can read all about here. This is what Erica suggested...

Rockett St George Ju Ju hat feather wall hanging, which is a Cameroonian ceremonial headdress. It's not something that I would have ever thought of but the scale, colour and texture are gorgeous. And Rockett St George is brilliant for all sorts of home ware and furniture so if you haven't taken a look already, do pop on over. Although be might never leave!

Rockett St George wall plaque - so kitsch and totally brilliant!

Rockett St George Silence is golden print - with three children the irony isn't lost on me! 

My friend Nat (nataliejsingh) suggested the pineapple wall sconce from Abigail Ahern which is also featured in this month's Living Etc magazine in an amazing house, every detail of which I love.

Other suggestions came in thick and fast and included a neon sign (Annie from my _life_in_lipstick) Emma from (deacsem), which I very much like the idea of, although being suspended so high up I'm not quite sure how the practicalities of that may work. Maybe the teenager with the arms long enough to reach up there could help. He very much liked the idea of a neon sign, as long as it wasn't the word "Love".  Of course that's exactly the type of word I would suggest.

This "Good Times" LED neon light from Love Inc is right up my street. Maybe it's the colours! Or there are these knitted word options at seventyseven84 which can be made to order in a whole host of different colours.

Moving on, another friend (nemithelabrador) suggested a pink flamingo and I came across this one, also at Rockett St George - he's so cool!

Space Like This which is an interiors shop in Menai Bridge, Anglesey suggested this....

the Pedlars "expect nothing" print which again was a fabulous suggestion. We used to have a Pedlars franchise in our Selfridges but it disappeared and I had all but forgotten about it, so it was good to be reminded of it again.

Gold, or chartreuse framed pictures or paintings were also suggested by Pics1112 as they look so good against this colour wall - again another brilliant idea to put into the melting pot of suggestions.

Sally (Sally Todd), Lula Belle from Glamour in the County and Angela from Willeys World all suggested statement pieces, a large print in a white frame, or a favourite quote painted in white or gold so we are inspired each morning as we come downstairs to start the day. Janet Bell is an artist who lives in Beaumaris in Wales and I love her work, particularly the colours in this "early morning frost" picture, which would look great against the navy wall...

There was also the suggestion of a metallic stags head - OK so this isn't metallic, but rather hazel. I've linked to all of the Rockett St George animal heads here for anyone who fancies a closer look.

...and Sian from blondpolkadots suggested a big mirror so that I could see myself catwalk style before I went downstairs - great idea, although I felt that I would probably fall down the stairs due to the shock of looking in said mirror first thing in the morning.

I loved all of the suggestions but now the issue is deciding what to go with. Maybe a little bit of a lot of the different ideas - a gallery of ideas perhaps, a tapas of artwork, mirrors, neon signs and animal heads.

And the teenager's favourite so far? This "Churros" sign that we spotted (whilst eating Churros) on a pre-birthday shopping trip for him. I'm happy to put it into the melting pot although it might inspire my choice of breakfast on a fairly regular basis, which might not be such a good thing.

So thank you to everyone. You're all lovely and I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Styling "the Faces of the Fort" Campaign...

Way back in August, when the sun was shining and we were all heading off on our holidays, I was shopping for Winter clothes. I have worked with the Fort Shopping Park a couple of times now, either appearing in their previous campaigns, or styling their shoots, and it was great to be styling this shoot, which featured six of their staff members as the faces of their autumn/winter 2016 campaign - "Styled by the Faces of the Fort."

In the shot above from left to right there's , Jamil, a Sales Associate at River Island, Kennedy a Sales Associate at Schuh, Adrian, the Manager at Next, Tiffany, a Sales Associate at River Island, Adrian, Manager at Costa and Tiffany, a Sales Associate at the Perfume Shop.

The brief was to create two outfits for the campaign, one "Winter Warmers" and one "Christmas outfits". This top shot was the first of the two shots that we needed to capture and the outfits were styled to include different prints, textures, colours and trends. The additional photos are my out-takes!

Forgive me but I'm just going to concentrate on the girls' clothes for now! So Kennedy, who is second from the left, is really young, and quite a tomboy and I thought that trousers and a baseball jacket would be great for her but with a silky cropped cami and sparkly shoes for a bit of femininity too.

All of her outfit was from New Look, other than the shoes which were from Schuh  as follows :Crop trousers £19.99, Satin cami £9.99, Baseball jacket £39.99, heart choker £3.99, Glitter shoes £25.99

Demi, who is sitting down in the above shot is very pretty and elegant and loves sophisticated, feminine clothes. Her outfit is from River Island as follows: Blue Coat £75, Black pleather skirt £32, Black suede OTK boots £75, pale blue ribbed top £20. I really loved the blue coat in this outfit and the combination of the pleather skirt and OTK boots worked really well for her.

And finally Tiffany, who is on the far right is wearing an outfit from Warehouse and New Look. She loved the idea of print and layering so the dress and sleeveless coat combination worked well for her and as I'd used boots for Demi, the idea of these peep toe tie boots added something a little different. The details of Tiffany's outfit are as follows: Warehouse printed dress £55, new look sleeveless jacket £19.99, new look lace ups £24.99, new look filigree necklace £3.99

As well as being hard work, shoots are great fun and I love to see how people come to life in front of the camera and embrace it - once they've relaxed and got used to the whole idea. I'm convinced there's an inner star in most people and being styled and having hair and make-up done also helps with stepping off your own world for a day and entering a more glamourous one!

Because the shots were taken a while ago, some items may no longer be available at the Fort, or they may well be in the sale. The Christmas campaign will go live soon, so I'll bring you further shots and outfit ideas.

You can find the Fort at the following:
Visit the Fort website at 
Follow the Fort on Twitter @Fort_Shopping
Like the Fort on Facebook here

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Giving our new light a "glowing" review

Although the building work finished on our house way back in July, it wasn't until we started living with the new room through the changing seasons that we really started to work out what else needed to be added to it (what a great excuse for a purchase or two!)

Because the new room is quite spacious and because we have a lot of glass, the very far corner of the room can seem a long way off, and a little lacking in atmosphere, especially when it's dark outside. I knew that it needed lighting up but preferred the idea of a "glow" - more like a fire, rather than anything direct or task orientated.

I'd had my eye on this Chicago floor lamp from Made (£189) for a while and then a couple of weeks ago I spotted a pop up Made store in Birmingham so in I went...

And having had a good fiddle, and having given it a good once over, I decided on the muted grey and brass. It's quite hard to take a photograph of a light when it's dark and get an accurate idea of what it's like - but I think that you get the drift. The reflection in the above picture is probably a more accurate reflection (sorry about the pun) of what the light really looks like when it's switched on.

It's definitely glowing!

The design of the light is based on the lights used on Hollywood film sets and luckily Mr SG is a fan - so it's here to stay. What he's going to think of the new sideboard that I've bought and which is being delivered on Friday is, perhaps, another matter.... 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Keeping it warm but silky....

I'm never quite sure why I think that I will achieve so much more in the holidays, than in term time. After all these years you would have thought that I would have learned that having three children at home means that I have less time available to blog, instagram, exercise and catch up on things that I think that I will have time to catch up on. It's not that I don't love having them around, far from it. I love doing lots of baking, being taught how to play games on the wii, going for walks and to the cinema I'm just like an elephant but in reverse....they never forget. I never remember.

So now that I've got that off my chest, I'm going to share one of my favourite ways of wearing something pretty whilst keeping warm. At heart I'm a girl who loves pretty things - lace, bows, frills, sequins, they all appeal but it's how to wear them in the colder months and remain warm.

One thing that I have mastered over the years, well insofar as I've mastered anything, is the art of layering. True, it's not much of a skill but you know, it all counts.

So I start off with a vest, something like this one from M&S one for £5 works a treat but H&M also has great ones too. This one comes in five colours and quite often they are two for £8.

My revelation from last winter were some cropped, long sleeved, ribbed cotton tops from Topshop which I wore over a vest and underneath everything. They were great because they offered warmth where I needed it but because they were cropped, they weren't bulky around the middle. Topshop seem to have replaced them with this style which might not work so well as the tops have a turtle neck and a twist  - so they may not sit quite so flat. But at least they give an idea.

Next we have the ribbed turtleneck jumper from H&M (£24.99). There's something about the snug fit of a ribbed jumper that I find really warm, despite its lack of wool, or bulk.

Now some of you will have broken out in a sweat just looking at those layers but for those of you who haven't, I find the combination of those three pieces offer a great base layer but without the bulk and that means that I can then get to the fun part, whether it be a cami top, a slip dress or a lightweight silky top.

In the above photo I'm wearing the M&S lace trim cami (£22.50). I was actually trying this for size, thinking that I had bought the size 8 but in fact it was the 10, so I have the 8 on order so that I can compare them. Of course I would prefer to pretend that I could wear the silky top just with a thick cardi thrown over it but that's not the case. And whilst arguably I would rather not have to layer three extra pieces underneath the silky top, at least it means that I can wear one, even in the winter.

Whilst writing this post I went a little off piste but I thought that I would share these pieces anyway. First of all, I came across these gorgeous shoes from M&S which are, of course, in THE fabric of the season...

And I'm actually quite fancying them with this H&M dress (£29.99) which looks as if it is the snuggliest dress ever made.

The alternative Christmas Day outfit perhaps?!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Fringed, flat and navy plus three great brands....

I used these Kin navy loafers (£79) at an event that I styled and presented last week and amongst all the sky high shoes, over the knee boots and soft leather ankle boots, these were the ones that I loved the most.

I styled them with this Finery full midi skirt (£65) a soft fitted pink cashmere jumper and jewellery from the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. It was styled as a gorgeous, but practical, outfit for an evening out.

For similar, take a look at the Uterque methacrylate loafers (£145).  As we all know there are lots of fringed loafers around at the moment - many with square toes and more of a heel than these. But I like the pointed toe - and the patent (or high gloss as it's now known) is a huge trend for the season.

With kick flared ankle jeans, a midi skirt, coated leggings or a slip dress I really like them for a refreshing change and an instant update.  And whilst I can't pretend to need any more shoes of any description, if I was going to add to my collection, it would definitely be with these.

For those not familiar with Kin, it's a John Lewis own brand which is Scandinavian inspired, so it's a bit cutting edge, cool and quirky. I've linked to it and I think that it's definitely worth taking a look at. The price point in particular is good.

Uterque too is a great brand. It's Spanish and is known as Zara's sophisticated online sister.  With a definite edge it really offers something different to so many things that are out there at the moment.

And finally, Finery which I first wrote about a while ago now when it arrived in John Lewis, is a fabulous brand. Again, it's well cut with a quirky feel to some of its pieces. Most things can be worn all year round and it's designed by women who have a great track record in fashion and who have lived a little. And that appeals on many levels!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Loving a "Love" jumper

I love my "Love" jumper. Like me it's getting a little old now, is a bit frilly around the edges and has definitely seen better days - but I can't find it in my heart to get rid of it. 

However for those of you who might be on the look out for something a little smarter there are two options that I've come across. First, there's this one...

The Hush "Love" jumper (£79). It has great reviews but is only available in limited sizes online. Fear not though, Hush is now stocked in John Lewis where there are slightly more sizes available online and also in store.  For anyone interested, its composition is 55% merino wool, 45% cotton. I always like to know the composition of knitwear - more than anything to work out whether it's worth paying the extra for it.

As a less expensive, but equally lovely option, there's the GAP "Love" sweater (£27.99)  It's made of 30% merino wool, 45% nylon and 15% acrylic so it has quite a lot less wool in it but equally it's quite a lot less expensive. And it depends on how it's going to be worn as to whether that matters so much - next to the skin (in which case less wool may be preferable), as a layering piece (again the amount of wool may not be so relevant for warmth). only on odd occasions (again cost may be a factor). However if it's something that you're going to love, wear all the time and want for warmth rather than just because it says "love" on it - then maybe it's worth paying that bit more.

I would happily wear either of these jumpers with a pleated skirt, a fancy sparkly midi skirt at Christmas time or on a daily basis with jeans or coated skinnies. If the grey GAP one came in black, I would be there like a shot but the grey is a bit too pale for me - as is the one that I'm wearing really but again, I can't really bring myself to part with it.

Yesterday two friends and I ran the Birmingham half marathon. I don't think that any of us have ever had to work so hard for a nylon t-shirt, a foil cape and a double decker.....

Thursday, 13 October 2016

You've got to love a pink coat...

Each winter I bring out my Boden pink coat - and it always makes me smile. This season they have this Sally Coat (£97.30). It's a lovely soft rose colour and a bit less full on pink than the one that I'm wearing.

If you haven't tried a bright coat before, do give it some thought - it's a fantastic way of adding some interest to your winter wardrobe and putting a smile on your face on a cold day. 

Hope that everyone has had a good week - bring on the weekend - or maybe not. I've got a half marathon to run! 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Orla Kiely for QVC - and fluffy jumpers!

Girlfriend twill stripe chino from GAP (£22.99) leather sneaker boots Zara (£39.99) boyfriend jacket Oasis (£45) Topshop blouse (previous season) Orla Kiely bag similar here (£115)

Yesterday the youngest and I hit the shops by 9am to buy her a few new bits and bobs now that the weather is getting chillier. She has a thing for fluffy jumpers and I've promised her that even when she's as old as I am, each winter I will take her shopping for a new fluffy jumper. I have visions of Bella Freud and Wyse jumpers appearing somewhere along the way. Anyway, for now, this is what she chose...

M&S "Hello" jumper £18.  And this one...

M&S heart jumper (£16). I figured that you can't really argue with logos, sequins, pink fluffy hearts and grey. Hmmm, can't imagine why she likes those things. Plus they go up to an age 14 so for anyone who is on the petite side....

I went a bit slouchy on the bottom half in girlfriend chinos from GAP, which have a lovely fit about them - best described as your favourite jeans on a loose day - and Zara sneaker boots which are so comfortable for walking around town in. But then on my top half I went smarter with a Topshop shirt and Oasis boyfriend blazer, just to off set the slouchier trousers and flats.

The Orla Kiely bag that I'm using ties in nicely with my up and coming QVC shows. I promised to let everyone know when I was on again and tomorrow (Monday) at mid-night I'm doing my first Orla Kiely show, Then at 9am on Tuesday I'm presenting the morning show followed by three further shows at 2pm, 4pm and 5pm. During the 4pm show I will be launching Orla Kiely homewear on QVC which is hugely exciting. The other shows will be featuring bags and wallets plus I will also be launching Orla's watches and new jewellery range. So, for anyone who would like to, please do tune in!

I'm not sure when I'll be back but hopefully it will be soon - and I'll keep posting instagram updates of my Orla outfits. Have a super week everyone!

Sorry about the grey jumper appearing again. I have a new laptop and odd things keep happening!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

How to wear leopard print. Grrrrrrr!

(Wearing: Whistles striped jumper, Boden leopard print bag (both seasons past!) side striped trousers from M&S and Adidas Stan Smiths)

Leopard print is one of the huge trends of the season but if you're not sure how to wear it, here are a few easy ways, starting from a nod to a full on embrace...

First off, this H&M leopard print bracelet (£7.99) which is perfect as a starting point - or finishing point. Or any point really. Oh dear, I think that I've tempted myself with it....

Next up, how about a bag? This Boden bag (£179.10) is a real gem. It's showing as out of stock at the moment with a 7 week wait but I've never had to wait that long for anything from Boden. And good things are worth waiting for! The beauty of a handbag, or shoes, is that as they are not directly "on" us - like our clothing, so we feel less self conscious when wearing them - or when people look at them. That's why bags and shoes are such a good starting point if you feel like taking a little risk. Obviously this one isn't the cheapest out there but if the thought of a leopard print handbag appeals, you won't have to look too far to find one - try this one from H&M for £7.99.

A scarf is always a good starting point too. I like this jacquard weave shawl from H&M (£14.99) - it's substantial and not floppy. Why that matters I have no idea. And whilst it's definitely from the leopard family, it's not full on leopard - well that is unless there are leopards out there with a slight pink tinge to them. If so, I thoroughly approve.

So getting a little more full on fashiony, there's this leopard print blouse from H&M (£19.99) which has a little frilled stand up collar and a chiffon feel about it. This blouse would be fantastic for layering up a crew neck jumper, for wearing on a night out with a cami underneath or for generally giving any black trousers or denim a bit of a kick up the whatsit.

And my absolute favourite, the Hush printed leopard joggers (£45). Grrrrrr! Cold evening sitting by the fire, here we come!

I could go on. Everything comes in leopard print from running gear, to shoes, boots, coats, jumpers and for those feeling really brave this H&M leopard print costume (£14.99). What do you mean, not on your life?!

Apologies for the fact that this post is a bit H&M heavy. Unless I'm writing a post about a particular brand, I try and spread my shopping choices around but I think that my family would far rather that I spent that extra time preparing their dinner.