Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Observations #3

Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday that I had a petit garçon who entered the world as a child of a novice blogger, now the garçon is to be 9 next week! Had I still been blogging on Make Do Style which was originally Make Do & Mend then I would have been celebrating 9 years of blogging.

However the last two years I've been flat out with styling including launching the new Personal Styling service at Elys in Wimbledon. Ironically I have gone from print to blogging, to print, less blogging, no print, no blogging and print. This weaving between media is a nice illustration of nothing is set in stone. Which in turn is a metaphor for style and life!

I give you the now le jeune homme and the front cover of the Elys magazine which I edited and styled. And in case I have no time between now and next year (quite likely) I wish you a Merry Christmas and a super stylish and Happy New Year!


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Notes #6

It is that moment when FASHION has a moment. And that moment was when Karl, Chanel Karl, Mr Lagerfeld stated the bleedin' obvious with his 'democratisation' of fashion i.e. anything goes!

image: The Guardian

Because there, right bang on the boulevard catwalk was the prophetic sign ' BE YOUR OWN STYLIST' And actually Karl is bang on the money here (because he wants your money) but he knows that the shows we see now are at a pinnacle. Here is Chanel merging street and high end ready to wear. It is no coincidence that he took the narrative from the supermarket to the high street (okay it was a boulevard). The point is he needs to direct the continuation of the House of Chanel and he needs to stamp his views on fashion now. 

You only have to look at the diversity of the shows to understand the days of pronouncements or dictates of hemlines are well and truly over. The designers have preferences and those design preferences are reflected in their collections but no collections are defining moments anymore and I know there are those who will shout but what about 'Celine?' and what about what? What is there anymore in fashion other than personal preference and a few tweaks here and there on colour, texture and print.

Karl is celebrating this fact, we need to own our looks and he is giving us permission. Choose what you like and stick with it. Rely on Chanel for their tweed jackets if you can afford it but if not buy the nail varnish and look in Zara for a 'homage'.

Take note and become your own stylist, ignore the 'must haves' and be guided by what truly suits you and if necessary take a placard out on the streets telling everyone that!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Unexpected Pleasures

Now the Autumn Equinox is here I am clinging to the end of summer and it is often the simplest food that keeps the feel good factor of warm summer days. My 'hero' food of this summer is nectarines, gosh there were some juicy ones in the Super U in France, gert big fat uns too. 

My favourite breakfast or pudding was chopped nectarines with Greek yogurt, simply delish!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Observations #2

When it comes to fashion these days, anything goes. There is no point trying to not prove this fact as you only need walk into 5 different fashion stores to validate this aspect of life. The same is true for interior design which equally offers a myriad of options that are in vogue. Does this mean that there can be nothing truly 'in vogue'?

Recently there was a real vogue for Nordic noir in television and books which in itself spun a desire for clothes and items, even eating that reflected this movement. But this vogue was probably pertaining to a specific class of people, who had the inclination and money to be interested in this in the first place. For many caught up in daily matters and scrimping a living is the idea of anything being 'in vogue' really relevant?

Hence, maybe why anything goes, because it allows anything and everything. Yet it seems to mean that then people have to attempt to create an elite vibe that is in vogue. Nowhere is this more true than fashion and lifestyle blogs. Whilst the people of Scotland were fashioning a new path regardless of the outcome of the vote, which sadly for Kingdom of Style was a disappointing outcome, the almost insular world of fashion bloggers are hung up on HOW THEY LOOK and how they look as provided for by the fashion companies. Gone are the days it seems of true creativity although back to Kingdom of Style and a reference to a long ago blogger who used blogging as a platform to create her business Alicia Hannah Naomi  and her blog Sea of Ghosts.

I am particularly fond of her Basalt Pendant  and as with Wendy Brandes Jewellery I like the fact this is creative and inspired by nothing but their own vogue.

Basalt Pendant by Alicia Hannah Naomi

Keeping your own vogue, not being cajoled, envious or wishing you had or were something else should be the new vogue. Whilst a wisp of a thing might look fab in the latest thing and WHAT IS IN might make you feel against the tide if you are not a joiner, one thing the Scottish independence vote has taught me is sometimes it is very very important regardless of the outcome to challenge the status quo.

Make your vogue the in vogue and step away from the crowd because they are being supplied not out of their pockets to display products to make you desire and buy them. Quietly desire, and then look around outside of the crowd to find anything goes.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Conversations #3

Busy, busy, busy. Is it really the middle of September? Are the leaves falling yet? The reason for my whirlwind is of course the new job. My lovely new job. I am now resplendent as the resident personal stylist at Elys department store in Wimbledon. You can book a free, complimentary, no obligation to buy session via the Elys website.

Welcome to my boudoir and do pop in for top style advice from a very very experienced stylist!

You'll also find my #ootd on my twitter account from when I'm either at work or out and about but maybe not my dog walking looks!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Notes #5

These days I'm more likely NOT to be on the PR's lists for press days, mainly due to all the magazines I wrote for folding! Honest it wasn't personal, nothing to do with me. And lets not forget I'm a fair weather, not remotely elite blogger, meaning I don't count on that front either! I'm always amused by all of this, the vagaries of fashion promotion and yet I'll always love it.

Having been a jobbing fashion stylist and writer for over ten years I'm used to the fickle politics of fashion and equally I choose to work in a way that fits round my family, well the 8 yr old and the dog. They come first and work is well work. Work is important in terms of income and living. When I was a junior fashion assistant many many years ago, I loved press days as it meant I ate and got things. It was the late 80s times were hard! Now I attend a press day a) if I'm invited, see above and b) if I truly love the brand. Before, I needed to know the products for calling in for shoots or placing the item within magazines, now it is about keeping abreast and focused for the occasional piece I write. My new styling job has a different focus (more about this in another post) and all in all I'm too busy to take time out for press days.

Yet fresh back off hols I couldn't resist going to the Figleaves Christmas press day. When you are a girl who needs support Figleaves is a brand dear to ones bosom. Not only that it was in Claridges, a genius move in my book and as it turned out a delight for le jeune homme. I had to bring him as it was my time with him plus we had to hit John Lewis for school things.

Figleaves is the perfect place to find anything and everything you need when it comes to lingerie, swimwear and nightwear. It is my go to place for underwear, particularly bras. I can never find my size in store so I have to order from Figleaves. I have a favourite product, the Helena balconette  bra by Fantasie.  My only quibble with Fantasie is they don't do this bra in colours. I want a bright red, a cerise pink and maybe a cobalt blue. I love bright pink bras. I prefer to wear a bra that shows than not. Come on everyone knows you are wearing a bra! I don't want to pretend I am not. Of course there are occasions when the bra is discreet, that is what nude ones are for but on the whole I quite like a little glimpse of a bra strap in a colour other than black, white or nude. My plea to Fantasie is please indulge this fashion fantasy of mine.

Talking of fantasy there was a lot of *coughs* erotica going on in the bedroom at Claridges. In line with many other brands but with a definite 'proper' opportunity to provide boudoir lingerie Figleaves have reflected Fifty Shades of Grey. Having not read the books and being more likely see The Inbetweeners 2 than Fifty Shades I passed on the collection, although I did rather like the babydoll item. in their Figleaves London erotique collection.

My favourite items were the pink ruffle pants, a pair of green velvet slippers and some lovely cosy lounge around the house items, especially the cashmere items.

Much of the Christmas collection is perfect for treats and to put on the Christmas wish list. Drop hints now. And of course the 8 year old and I could have lounged around in the Claridges suite for ages, which we did!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Conversations #2

In reality this heading should read conversations with myself! But at some point I intend it to be a place where interviews are posted and other conversation as well. Back to me! My main conversation (in my head) and with a bf of mine, Rachel Hubbard ( follow her on twitter @RachelPrytherch) is about health, more specifically fighting the onset of middle age spread.

Rachel is a top sports and fitness person at Aberystwyth University. She has trained me and many others to within an inch of their life and their pain through laughing threshold. Literally, I have, along with many others, almost wet myself laughing thanks to her! Essentially I am in the midst of nagging Rachel to have a proper fitness blog and post more YouTube shorts on specific exercises.

I want to credit Rachel with the Dory Method of fitness. Before I explain further, it is important to clarify why this is so dear to my heart. There are two issues here one is vanity, the other is health. If we deal with the latter we have as a collective moved the notion of what is a healthy weight along in the last decade or so. I don't want to debate weight, there is lots on information on BMI, whether you agree with that measurement or not. Recently the goal posts have been moved downwards although not publicly aired ..yet. A few months ago I was interviewing an orthopaedic surgeon for a magazine. He was hard work because his views are quite brutal.  In fact one of the nurses confirmed that he is to the point always,  as his stock answer to a 20 stone patient complaining about their knee hurting is (brace yourselves) 'it's not your knee that is the problem it is what you put in your mouth.' She dutifully hands them tissues at this point.

Making people cry might seem cruel and hurtful but he has a point, and I used the opportunity for home truths. He didn't hold back. At 5'6" and shrinking (age and children are always a factor but I have a new exercise for this which is simple, hang from a bar as long as possible a few times a week, it stretches the spine) I am also at 10 stone borderline overweight. Of course being a fashion princess I couldn't help but blurt out about clothes size, I'm a comfy size 10 (read almost 12). He rightly pointed out my skeletal frame was small and it didn't need a layer or three of fat on it. We discussed what I weighed at 21 and he suggest to aim for it but allow some pounds for age. Well at 22 I know I was 54 - 56 kilos which is 8 stone 7 to 8 stone 11. Hence my ideal weigh should be 58 kilos, 9 stone 1. Well I'm 64 which is 10 stone 1. Oh heck I thought but then I saw this photo as posted by the lovely Wendy Brandes and vanity kicked health up the ruddy backside!

I'm in the middle in case you don't know! In double denim for Wendy and wearing my Ancient Greek sandals. In truth it is what I put in my mouth and the fact I've slacked off on the gym front.

Back to Rachel and her Dory Method, in short keep swimming! Not necessarily actually swimming but taking the determination of Dory (Finding Nemo folks!) to keep going to obtain your goal. Rachel is off on holiday and she quickly advised me to 'beast the gym', cut fats but not turn to low fat (too much sugar) just reduce proper fat, eat everything wholemeal, and give up alcohol! Yep small portions, no sugar and move more. Everything we know but then try to fad it all up so we can trick no! Back to the orthopaedic surgeon it is what goes into our mouth, reducing the amount is key as is dropping all processed foods. Wish me luck and much Dory-ness!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Notes #4

Basking in the post haze of a summer break, I'm having to motivate myself to get back into work and attempt some blogging. My dear old blog site is so behind the times! Have you seen people's supped up Pinterest and Instragams!

Before jetting off to Brittany and our campsite I was focused on being prepared. This required lots of household items to take so we were up and ready to go when we got to our mobile home. I decided to hit HEMA as we have a new one in Kingston upon Thames, one of three currently in Londonn. It is a joy of a store. I'd already got some knick knack make up pressies for friends from HEMA when it opened and I had spied numerous useful things at the time.

Back I went and stocked up on a large first aid tin, household items, shower things plus socks and a pair of swimming trunks, as well as a plastic box to lug everything in. Everything I bought was exceedingly useful and nice. The shower creme and the dead sea scrub were divine on a campsite holiday. I've also had a request for the first aid tin as a present, it is a fab design and makes you feel a better organised person!

The brilliant first aid tin and HEMA paper hanky packets.

Wipes, gloves and washing up liquid all ..yes.. HEMA! Soap just seen, Waitrose.

Have to say the scrub and cream oil shower gel were lush.

I bought some new nail and toe nail clippers plus the footcare cream. All winners

And the refuse sacks were very useful and sturdy. Here is the 8 yr old no longer petit garçon but le jeune homme taking the refuse sack to the campsite bins and the recycling in the supermarché bag from Super U.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Notes #3

As I type I'm washing, ironing and packing to vamoosh to France. Yet my holiday packing is disappointing me, as the magazines and daily catalogue drops are fixing my mind firmly on my favourite season Autumn/Winter. It doesn't help that packing for Brittany is more like packing for Cornwall or West Wales, both beautiful and favourite locations but both prey to the vagaries of coastal weather changes.

Still a French excursion doe mean one thing, a ruddy big stock up at the pharmacy.  Whilst I can purchase my favourite moisturiser from Net-A-Porter, a) it is cheaper in France, b) I'm in France and c) there are a whole heap of goodies to snag in addition.

My travel bag is an eclectic mix of things of which I've halved and will probably still not wear half of. Which is the trouble with summer clothes, you stockpile more than necessary. all those missed match bikinis, t-shirts, kaftan style tops and shorts, not to mention maxi dresses. Still I won't care what I'm wearing sat on the decking of an eve sipping French wine from the supermarché.

Essential things for being organised for French holidays & everything else, Knock Knock items from John Lewis from £2.95

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Conversations #1

It isn't often I get the chance to blog these days. My life is a heady mix of projects, all of which I could drop in a heap and collapse with them! Yet these projects, my infernal dabbling in an attempt to apply order to my life is, as they say, are coming good. More on this later.

To be fair, most of my notable conversations are with myself, 'tis the nature of being freelance, but once in a while I have a conversation with another human being that is very satisfactory. Last week it was like buses, 3, yes 3 came along at once.

The joy of it all was it was with proper grown up people, the delightful New York jewellery designer Wendy Brandes, her husband (her real one not her nearly one Paul McCartney) and Liz Eggleston aka Miss Peelpants, a true purveyor of secondhand clothing to die for.  Without boring you all too much and wittering on for eons, we mainly chatted world, fashion, bad ass people and events. We laughed about lots of things we consider pretentious and drank Pimms. However we are so grown up these days instead of a pitcher of Pimms it was one glass before we gallantly moved on to the champers.

The best bit, apart from the rollar coaster of all catch ups, was not my purchase of her diffusion jewellery line WendyB heart earrings, although a good buy, but actually getting my hands on her utterly show stopping to die for rings. Wendy has a line of rings under the auspice title of 'Maneater'. This series of rings are beyond imagination.

Maneater, Bull & Bullfighter as modelled by moi. With 429 diamonds, mainly black, some white set in 18 carat gold on my finger I could have cheerfully sat there naked such was the beauty and craftsmanship. If that wasn't enough (and believe me it was) then something 'to die for' was revealed.

The New York city taxi ring!! I couldn't eat after holding it. Look at the top photo, a cityskape on the ring! I'm gonna drive you mad with the !!!!! but there are no words.

Both rings are price on application and when I used to have to confirm the 'price on application' detail to the subs checking on the facts, you could feel their eyes roll, but people don't roll your eyes start saving!

Wendy's talent is a talent under sung in a sea of obvious. All I can say is Jennifer Aniston's PA you need to get Jen a maneater ring to send a message to the world!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Unexpected Pleasures #3

It's not often you can just relax and enjoy pointless, directionless time with ones children. Mostly it is a routine of doing stuff, getting places, ensuring others are fed; but sometimes you get lazy hazy moments when you both do nothing but chuck a ball for hours on end at each other.

And this selfie was at the point after all the ball throwing and aimless interaction we came together in pure happiness. It is  a reflection of an unexpected pleasure. For once I am extremely glad of the rise of the selfie and the fact my iPhone goes everywhere with me.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Observations #1

It doesn't take much to get things going on twitter. Whether it is Adam Boulton of Sky News being an idiotic columnist choosing to grade horrific consequences of war and decrying the work Dame Angelina has done. Or the debate about the honours system giving us Dame and Angelina combined. But my favourite has to be the fact Phil Neville, or is it Phillip these days, caused an absolute storm on twitter with his monosyllabic commentary on the England v Italy world cup match.

Twitter comes into its own when there is a comedic note to hit and whilst there is no doubt Phil wasn't the best football commentator we've heard, his twitter 'abuse' was a great distraction on the game in hand. The banter, and it was banter, provided such gems as questioning whether Neville was 'recording an audio book on fishing.'

But best of all was the fact Mr Neville took it all on the chin and laughed about how he loved social media until 24 hours ago. I'm sure some people were downright mean about him but most of us were relieving the tension by commentating on the dreadful commentary. It wasn't the content but the delivery. I swear I nodded off once or twice and it wasn't because I was genuinely tired.

Phil Neville has given us all a lesson in how to digest a storm on twitter and that is laugh it off. I'm now rooting for him to gain experience and improve. It is harsh fact but his brother Gary was a natural from the off, yet he may have had some direction before he started on Sky Sports and obviously the BBC failed to craft Phil in how to deliver commentary. Lets hope Phil can improve on delivery but there is much to admire all round about the Neville brothers and their philosophy.

image: BBC

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Notes #2

The making stuff mission continues with my foray into mill - almond milk. In fact yesterday I made choc salted popcorn, courgette brownies, coconut butter and almond milk. Since being in receipt of Sarah Wilson's latest book I Quit Sugar For Life  my making of food has gone off the radar. I have been utterly inspired. I can think of no greater recommendation of a book. I also have her I Quit Sugar the original book that kickstarted my obsession with quitting sugar and which has the almond milk recipe.

My homemade almond milk

Monday, 2 June 2014

Notes #1

I'm on a health kick. Truth be told I've been on a health kick for years but of late I've pushed it up a few notches. Gone are the half marathons and the masters swimming classes and instead it is what I eat that is taking centre stage.

When it comes to fitness all I do is walk, quite a lot, with the dog or friends for an evening power stroll and chat, plus a few press ups and a weights session or two at the gym. I haven't had a swim for ages and I was a swimming fanatic but the googles were causing me untold eye circle damage and the chlorine had taken its toll as well.

For the last two years I have digest numerous books on what we should be eating and looking at all the independent research on this issue. The list it too long but it includes key pieces by Gary Taubes and Dr Tim Noakes. My personal favourites are Mark Sison's Primal Blueprint and Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar books.

I dip into blogs, you tube videos and have now a great relationship with food and exercise. It reminds me of when I was a child - eat 3 square-ish meals a day and move a lot. Although now I don't have the lethal trans fats associated with margarine and it means no more custard creams!

Instead I eat mainly fats, proteins and vegetables with a smattering of grain when I fancy. I buy sourdough bread over any other and am going to try my friend Tara's bread recipe from her blog Get the Skinny.

It does all take effort, cooking everything from scratch and the food shopping is slightly more expensive but that is balanced by buying less of the naughty stuff. Yesterday I spend a pleasurable 30 minutes, whilst cooking Sunday lunch, making water drinks. Iced tea, sage water and lemongrass water. Sage water is the easiest peasiest thing to make. Add about 4 - 5 sage leaves to water in a bottle and put in the fridge to cool and keep there. It is ultra refershing. Lemongrass takes more effort to snap and crush 2 stalks then boil up in water then leave to infuse in the boiled water for 20 mins. Then transfer to teh fridge and use as desired. The same is true for the tea. I used 4 teabags of black tea, chia tea, peppermint tea and camomile and steeped in cold tap water  in the fridge (I used tap water for all 3) for 4 hours before removing the bags and putting into a bottle.

Having had a tasting session this morning, I am impressed with my efforts and pleased with the drinks.

 sage water

iced tea

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Unexpected Pleasures #2

How many of us can brag about Bank Holiday sunshine? For the second year in a row I have managed to find the UK hotspot of the final May bank holiday weekend. Last year I was in Berwick-upon-Tweed experiencing sun, sea and sand. This year I was in the homeland and basking in glory at first Oxwich then Langland Bay on the Gower.

Last year's Whitsun Bank Holiday at Berwick-upon-Tweed 

This years Whitsun Bank Holiday at the Gower 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Unexpected Pleasure #1

It was tipping down with rain on Sunday and without having a dog I wouldn't have stepped outside as we were getting lunch ready for neighbours who were coming round. Of course the dog needed to be walked and off we went.

My legs were soaked and it was quite cold so I was glad of my hat and gloves even with my waterproof anorak on. But on we walked, I wanted a good one to wear him out. It is moments like this that give you unexpected pleasure. On our walk there is a small woodland area and it was like stepping into a sea of bluebells. Where ever I looked a carpet of purple unfolded.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Moving Forward

As you can see the beginnings of the change are underway. Do expect a revamp with a more modern look to it all, knowing it will take me a while to polish it all up. I will begin posting with my new found direction very soon...