DIY pumpkin decorations

diy-pumpkin-decorations

I remember the days when Halloween meant wearing some tacky cat ears and buying a novelty packet of fondant fancies. Well not anymore, apparently. Now it’s become another way to be creative with decorating; another way to be stylish with your fancy dress. And personally, I’m all for it. Especially when it comes to a bit of interior decor.

For the past two or three years now we’ve carved a pumpkin each Halloween. This year, however, I’ve run out of time/the will to get my hands dirty so instead I’ve been inspired by a new wave of pumpkin decorating (a thank you, Pinterest): and for the most part, it’s totally mess-free. Here are 4 of my current favourite DIY pumpkin decorating ideas I’ve seen on the web so far this season:

pumpkin-decorations

1. No moodboard of mine would be complete without flowers, even at Halloween.

2. Gold leaf pumpkins. Because why the hell not?

3. Apparently you can get actual white pumpkins. I’ve yet to actually see these mythical beauties, but if I manage to get my hands on some in time for Halloween then they will most definitely be introduced to my best friend, the gold glitter.

4. Chevrons and stripes – I think I’d have to keep these in the house WAY past Halloween!

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Jo & Dom’s Retro Wedding at The George in Rye

retro-wedding-the-george-in-rye

For as long as I can remember, Rye has always been a popular place – come summer or winter, people seem to flock here. And for the most part I’m actually semi-oblivious to the quirkiness and charm of the town, seeing as I live here and all. But one thing I haven’t failed to notice is just how popular our biggest hotel, The George in Rye, has become in recent years. Especially when it comes to weddings.

I’ve been itching to work on styling a wedding here for a long, long time – so naturally when Jenny from Bellaboo and Beau contacted me asking for some help styling a wedding here for one of her couples in July I said a Big Fat Yes.

Jo and Dom were planning a traditional wedding ceremony at St. Mary’s Church in the heart of the town, followed by a reception at The George. They wanted a retro style for their wedding, incorporating Jo’s love of colour and prettiness and Dom’s love of music, so Jenny and I met a couple of times to discuss how to roll both these requirements into one and this is what we came up with…

giant-tassel-balloons

gold-glitter-arrow-wedding

confetti-pops

retro-record-tableplan

giant-polaroid-photobooth

the-george-in-rye-ballroom

weddings-at-the-george-in-rye

So while the Church might have been a traditional setting for their wedding ceremony, Jo and Dom’s specification for decor was not. And I loved it. We started by blowing up six giant helium balloons (much to the vicar’s actual horror) and attaching our hand made tissue paper tassels. These made a beautiful walkway for the bride’s entrance and could later be transported down to the reception – an added bonus.

The ballroom at The George in Rye is stunning. And as the quirky vintage wallpaper in here is so beautiful, decorations can be kept fairly minimal. Jo and Dom’s choice of florist did an amazing job in creating wild, rustic style centrepieces for their day – and we loved how she decorated the mirrors entirely with foliage.

We started in the Benson Room, setting up a confetti pop table and scattering some giant tissue paper flowers around the room to add pops of colour, as well as setting up the Pozaroid photo booth.

In the Ballroom we set up the table plan, which consisted of a vintage gramophone (courtesy of the lovely Frida & Sophia) with a pull out drawer full of old records, onto which was printed the names of each table and the corresponding guests – the idea being that you had to flick through the records to find your table, mimicking the sense of being in an old style record shop.

Once everything inside was perfected, we headed outside to finish off with one of Jo’s quirkier ideas – a gold glitter arrow leading the way from the ceremony to the reception. I’ve seen these on Pinterest a fair bit but have never seen one done in real life – and to be fair there are very few places where this would actually work (especially given that by this time, it was pouring with rain. Glamorous.), but it looked perfect here against the brickwork.

Sometimes, keeping it simple really does work – congratulations Jo and Dom, your wedding looked so perfect!

The Fall

So last night I had my first hot chocolate of the season. Which means it’s official; Autumn is coming. And while I’m already mourning the loss of the long hot days, sleeping on top of the duvet and drinking Pimms like it’s actually water, there’s something about Autumn that makes me excited. Maybe it’s the build up to Christmas and everything in between (although I suspect that it actually has more to do with the fact that I can wear tights for six months and not have to St. Tropez every inch of my body twice a week), but I love the crisp morning air and cosy evenings. 

And, more than anything, a change in season always makes me want to nest and look forward to a new wave of home/wedding styling after seeing so much of the same for weeks on end. Last year’s Autumn/Winter weddings were some of the most beautiful I’ve seen in a long while and I can’t wait to start working on this year’s – especially in the run up to Christmas. And don’t even get me started on styling the house up ready for some cosy nights in – Hell. Yes. 

So, with all that in mind, here’s how I’m hoping Autumn 2014 will mostly shape up…

autumn-moodboard

 Links to all the original images and their credits can be found via my Pinterest board here

 

 

Honeymooning in Malta

honeymoon-in-malta

What no one tells you about getting married is that the best part is yet to come. The honeymoon. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED our wedding and the planning/hours of indecision I put myself through. But those 7 days afterwards where we did absolutely nothing and got drunk every night? Now THAT’S what it’s all about.

This time last year we’d just arrived home from seven days in Gozo, Malta. A completely last minute effort by us (we booked it two days after the wedding. Yep. Really.) but one that was much needed and appreciated after the full-on Week of Wedding we’d just had. And for some reason, I took hardly ANY photos whatsoever for the entire time (and I’ll document anything given the chance – just see my Instagram feed for regular examples of flowers, cats and my dinner). Admittedly I slept solidly for the first 3 days, but I also think I was all photoed out by then and just wanted to experience everything in real life, as opposed to through a camera lens the whole time.

But, in an effort to make sure I do have some kind of record of our honeymoon – and because it’s raining and I actually have nothing better to be doing on what’s supposed to be the last bank holiday of the summer – I’ve put together a little montage of our time in Malta…

champagneWe checked into the Kempinski Spa Hotel after what was officially known as The Longest Flight On Earth. Malta is four hours from England. Except when you have to change flights in Germany, catch a connecting ferry and then take a 2 hour taxi ride. Then it’s 10 hours away. A 15 hour journey from door-to-door – or the ‘snag’ in us getting the 5* luxury hotel for the price that we did, if you will. Man was that champagne needed when we checked in.

Gozo-night-lifeAfter drinking the free champagne we went for dinner at one of the hotel’s onsite restaurants (the Italian one, I think) then wandered into the local town. Tip to anyone else staying in Gozo – if you’re looking for night life then good luck. There is none. We walked into the town centre and found some sort of stand up comedy show going on. Which would have been lovely, had it not been entirely in Maltese.

day 2

Breakfast here was So. Good. Anyone that knows me knows I’m 100% a breakfast person – I HAVE to eat first thing in the morning – however early I wake up. So naturally I loved the fact that there were about 15 different buffet tables all set up with practically any type of food you could imagine. Most mornings I went for some sort of fruit and granola as well as poached eggs, which were cooked to order outside on the patio and brought to your table. Every day the waitresses would bring a different fruit shot to the table as well – I think the one above was watermelon – which was amazing. Everything was so fresh and tasty. And even the tea here was good. On the second day, after breakfast, we walked back into the local town. Firstly to see what we’d missed in the dark (a whole load of nothing) and secondly to stock up on water and snacks for the fridge in our room – a holiday tradition we always weirdly get excited about (geeks). One of the weirdest things about waking up on the second day was waking up to gun fire. Neither of us had a clue what the hell was going on, but apparently every August there’s an annual summer festival in the local town which is celebrated with canon fire, gun fire and fireworks first thing in the morning and late at night. Possibly another reason the room was so cheap for the time of year – waking up with the fear of God pounding through you.

la-caverna

The second night was Friday night. And so naturally we decided we deserved a night out. And by night out I mean night in, at the hotel, in their wine bar. The previous night we’d stopped in for a quick drink after dinner whilst exploring and somehow the bar man talked us into signing up for their weekly wine tasting night. By wine tasting, we assumed we would literally be tasting the equivalent of a mouthful of wine and, um, spitting it discreetly somewhere. So we went for drinks beforehand. There we were all liquored up and trying to act like we do this sort of stuff all the time when we were shown to our table. And it turned out that not only did we get full glasses of each of the wines we’d be ‘tasting’, but there were seven of them to taste. SEVEN. Needless to say, it got messy. But, looking back, this was by far my favourite night of the honeymoon; there was a band, the wine (which was delicious) was flowing and people kept feeding us cheese. What’s not to love?

Kempinski Hotel

The next few days were pretty much spent eating, sleeping, swimming in the pool and snoozing on our balcony. The food here was amazing; if I could eat mezze every day for every meal then I totally would. And I think every meal I ate every day for a month after our honeymoon was basically this, but a worse version.

MarsalfornoAfter nearly a week of eating, sleeping and fighting each other for the sunniest spot on the balcony, cabin fever started to set in. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel was amazing – there were so many onsite restaurants, cocktail bars, a gym and a spa but one thing we always make a point of when on holiday is getting out and seeing the local sights. And this was no exception. So on our second to last day, we booked ourselves onto one of the hotel’s daily bus trips to Marsalforno, a little fishing town about an hour away from where we were staying. Had we known how beautiful it was here we’d have definitely booked the morning trip and made a day of it. There were lots of bars, restaurants and touristy type shops here but as we only had 4 hours until the bus came back we just walked around for a bit, paddled in the sea and then had a drink and some dinner in one of the street cafes. And where my highlight of the honeymoon was getting trashed on wine on the second night, this was Troy’s. Awkward.

Malta-Sunsets

Without a doubt, the most beautiful thing about Malta was watching the sun rise and set every day from our balcony. I miss waking up to this and just having half an hour outside in the warm air drinking (the-surprisingly-good-for-instant) coffee.

I would, without hesitation, absolutely recommend the Kempinski Spa Hotel in Gozo to any couple considering somewhere a bit different (and a LOT off the beaten track) for their honeymoon, or even just a luxurious break away. I did miss the convenience of having shops and restaurants right there on our doorstep, as we’ve experienced with our other holidays, but as this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’ll let Troy off on that one. The 15 hour journey each way though? Still a sore point.

Summer Wishlist

After what was a thoroughly disappointing week weather-wise last week, July has totally pulled it out of the bag this week hasn’t it? I’m not sure if it’s just this tropical heatwave that’s making me lust for new things (this time last week I swear I could smell Autumn in the air) or the fact that so many shops are having crazy good sales at the moment. Either way, here’s what’s floating my boat at the moment…

summer-wishlist

 

1. We don’t really have a garden – well, that’s a lie, we do have a garden. It’s just a crap one. Overlooked by the road and pavement it is officially The Least Relaxing Place on Earth. And therefore we’ve only sat in it about 4 times since we moved in 5 years ago. However, this year I am lusting after garden furniture like mad. Is it my age? Probably, but I’m also wondering if a bit of a spruce up and some jazzy accessories might not make it more enticing. This Oliver Bonas Primrose Table in peony pink is right at the top of the list right now – and for £64 it’s a totally justifiable spend.

2. Same goes for these solar lights – and they’re only £12 from Sainsbury’s. Bargain!

3. Confession time – I actually have this M&S drinks dispenser already. It came into the early summer sales for £12 (reduced from £15) so I nabbed it. Quite what I will do with it or when I will use it is another matter, but WHO CARES about that kind of stuff?!

4. I actually have a bit of an obsession with glass tumblers. Last week I bought four flamingo print ones in Ikea just because they were 50p each. Yep. So naturally these also caught my eye when I was idly browsing the George at Home website the other day.

5. In-keeping with my lust for a) gardens, b) flamingos and c) anything pink is this flamingo garden stake. I sincerely hope I’m strong enough to resist spending £12 on this bad boy – 1) because, you know, where the hell do I put it? 2) it’s £12 and I would need more than 1, making it a not-so-thrifty-afterall purchase and 3) I will almost 100% definitely forget to bring it inside over winter and it’ll rust into oblivion. But one can’t hurt, right?!

6. The PERFECT summer hat. I left my last straw trilby on honeymoon by accident so have been scouring a replacement since. And as this one’s only £6 from Matalan I’m sure I won’t be too upset when it blows away/I sit on it/leave it on a plane again.

7. I refuse to buy any more summer clothes this season, but jewellery? There’s always room for jewellery. Especially when it’s mint green. Another £6 Matalan bargain!

8. Is there a more perfect bag than this? And a justifiable purchase in that gold can be used all year round. That’s my excuse anyway. This beauty is £10 from Tesco and is most likely to be the cause of my next marital argument when I return from the food shop having replaced the bread/milk/butter/cheese/whatever with it. Needs must.

The £60 wedding dress

H&M £60 wedding dress

 

I think I speak for most brides when I say that the minute that ring is on the finger, it’s ALL about the dress. Because that’s what makes you a bride, right?

My own dress story was nothing like what I imagined it would be. Mostly because I ended up with three – yes, THREE – dresses. Of course, the one I ended up wearing was The One, but I won’t lie – the whole process of picking a dress ended up stressing me out. There was so much pressure to look like the perfect bride, in the perfect dress, with the perfect accessories that in the end I was blinded by everything I tried on – I wanted to be every type of bride, but couldn’t streamline it into one single, simple look and it was hard to know where to stop. My mind worked overtime as I researched different ways to customise and add things to dresses or different ways to style my hair. And at one point, when I had 6 months to go and NO dress, I had no idea at all how it would work out.

But like everyone always says, it does work out in the end; and part of the reason it did was that I went to a dress shop where I felt comfortable enough to be honest about not liking my original choice, much less the one I STUPIDLY bought off of eBay in a blind panic (which I sold on for a profit, so all’s well that ends well and all that).

I know I’m not alone in being a bride that didn’t have the perfect road to the perfect dress; perhaps it’s the amount of choice we’re given these days, the amount of ‘competition’ we’re faced with daily on wedding blogs or simply the fact that we’re told over and over that ‘it only happens once’ and so we’re clutching on to the whole bride-to-be experience with both hands and just want one more chance to play dress up that makes it so hard for some of us? Who knows.

What I do know, though, is that there is a dress out there for everyone. And what you spend on it does not. matter. one. bit. Because of all the things I learnt in my quest to find the perfect dress was that I would have paid whatever I could have afforded to feel like a bride. Whether that was £100 or £1,000, I simply wanted to look in the mirror and feel like the best version of myself. Because when I look back at the photos now all I see is how I felt on the day and that’s priceless.

The ironic thing is, I stressed myself to the point of obsession over my dress. And on the day? I could have been standing there saying my vows in my pyjamas and I would have still had the most amazing day of my entire life. The sky could have been pink and I wouldn’t have noticed. And that’s the beauty of hind sight, because if I’d known that in the first place then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself in the run up to the wedding.

Which is why, when H&M announced this week that they were releasing a bridal collection which included a wedding dress for £60, I was all ears. Sure, it’s not to my personal taste – and I’ll be the first to put my hands up and say that I would never have foregone the whole dress shopping experience, despite the tribulations it brought me – but for someone somewhere out there it will be their dream dress. And the fact that it costs £60 shouldn’t put anyone off.

We all have different ideas of the perfect wedding with the perfect dress (thankfully) and it’s very easy to quickly become consumed by the notion that we have to spend thousands for everything to be deemed ‘perfect’. But you know what, if spending £60 makes YOU feel like a princess for the day, then who is anyone else to judge?

 

Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter

body shop camomile cleansing butter

 

It’s not often, these days, that I’m really wowed by beauty products. I’ve worked in and around beauty for so long now that I’ve come to know what I like and what works for me. But that’s not to say I don’t still enjoy testing stuff out. Coz that would be a lie. If I had a pound for every time I went into Boots to buy one thing and came out with ten other things I didn’t need then well…I’d have a lot more money to buy a lot more things I didn’t need.

Any way, I digress. A few months ago I begrudgingly signed up to yet another beauty box. I say begrudgingly because it really was. I was at the point where I was completely done with the whole beauty box thing. Having tried so many in the past and cancelling them after 6 months of disappointment (not to mention arguments with the postman about leaving them somewhere that was a) not on my doorstep in broad daylight and b) not in my ACTUAL rubbish bin) I swore I’d never sign up to another. Ever. Well, that all went out the window last Christmas when I decided that a chocolate advent calendar just wouldn’t be enough any more, and I really, really needed wanted the You Beauty Advent Calendar. 25 treats for £50 was just too much of a bargain for me and I signed straight up. Except, as with all things that seems too good to be true, there was a catch. A rather mighty catch; in order to get the advent calendar, I had to first pay £6.95 to become a You Beauty member. I was livid, I won’t lie – I absolutely hate it when companies throw a catch like that in when you GET TO THE CHECKOUT. However, I read on and discovered that if I continued my membership each month, then for that little sum of £6.95 I would get to choose 2 beauty products each month. In a box. With some extra treats. So essentially, it’s a beauty box. And I nearly stopped there, to be honest. But what stood out about this box, for me was that a) there were no P&P charges, b) I got to choose the beauty products I wanted and c) there would always be a couple of extra treats thrown in the box too.

Sold. It was as easy as that. And I have to say, I’ve not been disappointed by it one little bit. I love the fact that I get to choose what I want each month (great for months when you’ve run out of mascara and spent all your wages on prosecco and, um, daffodils, it turns out) which also means I can check the sizes of the products and the price against what’s in store and actually nab myself some real bargains.

Take this month for example. Obviously I put the Crabtree & Evelyn rosewater hand cream straight in the basket (nice packaging, good scent but not the best for moisturising, FYI) and for my second treat I went slightly off tangent. I’ll always choose a make up product over skin care, mostly because I don’t like messing with my skin too much and also because the samples are never that big. However, this month I spied the Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter – and it was FULL SIZE. That meant that for nearly £7 I was getting a hand cream and a full sized skin care product. So in it went.

And you know what? I’m really impressed. I’d read a bit about this on some other beauty blogs a little while ago and earmarked it for a future purchase that never happened (prosecco and daffs people, that’s what Spring is made of) so I was eager to see if it would be as good as people were saying. It’s a bit strange to get your head around at first – most cleansers I’ve ever used have been cream or gel, so this is completely different – but I really like it. You only need a tiny amount, rub all over your face then wash off with the muslin cloth and some hot water. Not only did it make my skin lovely and soft afterwards, but it’s also really cleared it up as well. This could be a massive coincidence, but I really have had less spots since using this, which makes me think that perhaps the cream cleansers I’ve been using are far too heavy for my skin. Interesting.

I’ll definitely be re-purchasing this again when it’s all gone, and for £12.50 it’s much cheaper and more effective than quite a few other hot cloth cleansers on the market.

Oh, and anyone who’s looking for a new beauty box to try? Definitely give You Beauty a try. Not only did I get some free tea bags this month, but I also got a set of tweezers from the Vintage Cosmetics Company. These have since been commandeered by Mr. B (for what I do not nor need to know since I’m not allowed anywhere near his eyebrows. God knows I’ve tried often enough), so there’s something in there to please everyone in the household!

You Beauty Discovery Box, March 2014