Thursday, 31 December 2009

Always Say Thank You

I have been holed up here, protecting my sensitive skin from the cold winter air and after the many dinners, drinks and parties we have recently attended it was time to sit and write my thank you notes. Being polite and courteous is very high up on my list of correct behaviour, along with an agreeable standard of personal hygiene, it is so easy to write a simple missive of gratitude. If people have been kind enough to invite myself and handsome husband to an event it is only good form for me to write and thank our hosts. I am aware that many people like to send emails or texts, however, I prefer the personal touch and always send a handwritten note.
I sit at my desk with pen in hand and wait for the appropriate words to flow, but today I encountered an obstacle and not of the word variety but of the stationery kind. I had made the terrible error of not re-ordering my note cards when I had used the second from last, and had only one left.
As it is still cold outside I felt the pull of my warm computer beckoning me to explore the many possibilities of stationery choices, so naturally I caved in to the call and began surfing. I knew that I would be safe with Smythsons, and indeed The Wren Press (both by appointment from Her Majesty), then there is the Walton Street Stationery Company which can also be relied upon, but although of the highest quality they are not exactly exciting or fun and I want to emulate my frame of mind for this New Year, in fact, this new decade which I am quite certain will be exciting and I intend to make fun for myself and loved ones, I've had quite enough of the previous years doom and gloom, and a positive outlook is predicted in my world.
Following some relaxing browsing I stumbled upon some fabulous notelets and cards which are witty, elegant, beautiful and offer me a delightful assortment of choice. Prudence Loves has a very fine selection of suitably amusing worded cards to bring a smile to the receivers face, and Fraser and Parsley offers bespoke cards (and gift tags if required) which will brighten any ones day should they open this little envelope over breakfast. I have made my purchases and await their arrival so I can begin my new year as I mean to continue, exuding the highest standards at all times. Happy New Year.....

Sunday, 20 December 2009

My Christmas

One of my favourite bloggers Helena Halme and Life The Universe and all that's in it did this on their blogs and I couldnt resist taking part, as this may well be my final post of the year, I would like to wish you all a very beautiful Christmas and a happy New Year.

What you're supposed to do is to copy this entire post and paste into a new post on your blog. Change all the answers so that they apply to you.This is not a Meme or a Tag. You simply play along if you wish to. Or just read the answers!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper which coordinates with my Christmas theme.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Definitely real and very tall.

3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend before Christmas - infact today, and we all decorate together.

4. When do you take the tree down? 12th Night, I'm a traditionalist.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, oddly.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Cindy doll with several matching outfits.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Step-dad. What do you buy for the man who has all his heart desires.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My mother, as we love the same things.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No. I find them spooky.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, but haven't done them yet..

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A wrapped up orange, which had gone mouldy - from my ex-mother-in-law, no love loss there.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Mid-december, before panic can set in.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Absolutely not.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? I adore bread pudding, but only ever have it on Christmas day.

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, white fairy lights.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Jingle Bells. So jolly.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? At home, with family and friends.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Rudolph, Vixen, Dancer, that's all I can remember, and they may not even be right, so no.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? An Angel my smallest chap made at school.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning, with wrapping flying and large shouts of joy, followed by a light breakfast of Christmas muffins.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People rushing about in panic and not enjoying the sparkling lights everywhere.

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? Candels, traditional theme, white/silver and pastels.

24. Favorite for Christmas Dinner? We have Christmas lunch. Canapes(homemade), turkey, stuffing, crisp roast potatoes, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, sprouts, carrots, parsnips and lots of gravy. Christmas pud, or fruit tart and end with mince pies.

25. What do you want to do for Christmas this year? Something sparkling for my ears.

26. Favorite Christmas tradition growing up? Laying the table on Christmas Eve for the following day for 30!!

27. Favorite tradition now? Making mincemeat and mincepies with my small herd of chaps.

28. Favorite Christmas Memory? Receiving a pet tortoise from my parents.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Party In Silk Pyjamas

Last night opened my eyes to what really goes on in this quiet lane I reside in. We received an invitation for a party where the dress code was white, absolutely anything was acceptable as long as it was white. This has never really been my colour, I do, naturally, have many white shirts, which should be a staple to every woman's personal collection as they can be teamed with a vast variety of clothing and can be dressed up or down, worn alone or underneath garments. My personal favourite is a Jil Sander crisp white shirt worn with jeans, and my faithful Joseph blazer or when I'm a having a rock chic moment my Dolce & Gabbana brown leather jacket (yes I can do rock chic). I do also posses a pair of white earl jeans, but they are just too Liz Hurley to be seen in other than on holiday. I never, ever wear white dresses, they just make me look ill and I find even expensive makes just somehow look nasty, which leads me on to white heels which just have far too many connotations attached to them to ever be worn. Flat white shoes are acceptable, but can only be worn for one season as they just get grubby.

So I found myself in a fix, I couldn't just wear a white shirt, how ever elegant, for a start I'd be far to cold, more importantly I would look ridiculous. I felt I had no choice than to ask handsome husband for advice, something I rarely do when it comes to fashion, let's just say our tastes are different and he just doesn't really get women's clothing at all. He had decided to wear his cricket whites which I thought quite inventive for him. He was sitting in his favourite club chair by the fire in the drawing room, reading The Times sport section when I approached and asked him to just focus for one minute on a problem I was having, he dutifully put down the paper and listened as I explained my dilema, he looked in the burning embers of the fire and said "pyjamas". Brilliant, he always comes up trumps for me when it really matters. I have two pairs of white pyjamas, one super warm flannel pair from The White Company which was a gift from a girlfriend when we moved down here, and a rather slinky silk set bought from Apartment C in Marylebone. I felt, as it was a party it would be the silk ones worn with a pair of magical black silk heels with a diamante buckle from Gina.

We arrived at the already bustling party and were welcomed by the hostess wearing a flirty little tutu number, glasses of champagne were thrust into our hands and we were gathered into the fold of merriment. During the course of the evening I encountered snowflakes, angels, Jack Frost, brides in full bridal wear, a marshmallow (really), a milk bottle, Arabs, a knight in white satin and the most entertaining, the entire troupe of Abba, all four in fabulous white outfits and even wearing the white platforms, who then proceeded to perform for us. Initially I thought they were hired entertainment, but on closer inspection it transpires that two of the group have a child in the same boarding house as our biggest chap, and he is a fighter pilot and quite a serious and intense gentleman (normally), but not this evening, where I he exposed a whole hidden side of his character. He performed on the piano and sang to the roar of the crowd for their great friends, the hosts.

We stumbled back home in the early hours having sung many Abba greats, I didn't realise I knew so many. How fortunate it was that I was already in my pyjamas I just wiped off my make-up, whipped of my knickers and jumped into bed with the tune of Gimme, Gimme a Man After Midnight floating in my head.
For all Abba news take a peek at and for some beautiful pyjamas Apartment-C (site currently under construction).

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's a Wrap

I have, since my stint on House & Garden, too many years ago to remember, had an obsession with coordinating my gift wrapping, particularly at this festive time of year when presents lay around for a while. It is paramount that there is ascetic harmony under my tree, none of this nasty mishmash of clashing colours, patterns and baubles. I choose to blend colours so they complement each other and are soothing on the eye.

So to ensure artistic balance, I plan ahead and allow myself plenty of time for contemplation to unearth Jewell's of the wrapping world presenting a pleasing theme, and I now have a new and calming place to do my thinking at the newly elegantly restored Grosvenor Hotel in Shaftesbury, where I can sit and read, and think and eat and drink in the kind of luxury and elegance that can only inspire. The charming owners have skillfully designed this once sad looking dilapidated building into a contemporary retreat for comfort seeking visitors.

As I sat eating my Omelet Arnold Bennett and sipping a glass of crisp wine I felt ready to tackle my wrapping project and had brought with me my tools for research, Vogue, World of Interiors, and Tatler, a distinguished and suitable medley of magazines to give me a cross section of ideas.

The overriding topic I gauged from these bibles of style was a strong focus on pastels, and that I have decided will be my theme this year for my Christmas wrapping, which heartens me as I have repeatedly been drawn to pastels over the years, and when I gaze into my knitwear cupboard it does sometimes resemble a sweetshop of pastel goodies.

Finding pastel wrapping at this time year is quite a challenge as most shops are full of red, gold, green and silver wares, which is super if that is your theme, but not helpful to me. Fortunately there must be some like minded people living here as in a boutique which also sells some interesting and unique accessories I found what I was looking for, a mouthwatering selection of pastel wrapping paper and I decided I would favour a lavender and pink combination which I shall tie together with some thick velvet and silk ribbon from an enormous haberdashery shop (actually warehouse) within walking distance of home.

With that job done and another item I can cross of my list, I feel more relaxed and well on the way to Christmas harmony, only 27 more things to cross off and 13 more days to go... If you ever find yourself in the Shaftesbury area and need a boutique place to rest your weary legs visit Hotel Grosvenor.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Love of a Sloegasm

A rather short tale for you today, you will have to forgive me, I am suffering ever so slightly from last nights events.

Our very jolly new friends down the lane invited us for dinner which is delightful for more than one reason, firstly the hostess is a fabulous cook and secondly we can walk, which means we can both have a few tipples. Off we ambled down the lane towards our dinner destination and we marvelled at how refreshing it was to be meeting new people (the other guests), walking, and the lack of fretting in deciding what to wear, as dinner at home in the country is so very different from London, and is a far more relaxed event, the men (mostly) wear cords, or moleskin trousers, check shirts and some form of loafers, handsome husband, being a traditionalist in mens attire is very happy with this, particularly as he owns many pairs of brown suede loafers, which to me all the look the same, but he assures me there are subtle differences. I settled for a pair of navy Marc Jacobs cords and a Gaby Harris navy lightweight sweater, a string of pearls with earrings to match, and a pair of navy suede tods, so handsome husband and I were both in suede shoes.

We arrived punctually at the allotted time and were greeted by our hosts and their guests. The log fire was burning, and tempting smells were wafting from the kitchen. Our jackets were taken and hung in the boot room and we were guided into the drawing room for drinks. Our host offered handsome husband a drink who requested a beer, he then approached me eyes twinkling and asked if I would like a Sloegasm. I am a woman who has lived life to the full, having partied my way through my late teens, and twenties, in various cities around the world and feel that I have experienced all that I have wanted to (let's just leave it at that), so being offered a drink I have never heard of came as a surprise and of course I accepted with some excitement. A few minutes later my host returned with a sparkling jewel coloured gem served in a cool crystal glass, I took a small gulp and was instantly won over by this intriguing liquid, a cocktail of homemade pink sloe gin topped with Champagne.

I really can't tell you anything further about our evening as it is all quite a haze now, but handsome husband swears that I did not misbehave in any way, was not rude to anyone, and was an absolute lady throughout the dinner, what ever happened on our return home has, however, kept a smile on his face all day, thank goodness I would hate to let my standards slip.

To find out how to make your own sloe gin take a peek at Sloe Biz and then top with a little Champagne.

Friday, 4 December 2009

London Calling

I do dash back to London from time to time to see my favourite experts in specialist fields, hair colourist, hair stylist, eyebrow threader, facialist, dermatologist, dentist, hygenist, homeopath, naturopath and of course my favourite friends my partners in crime, my clubbing mates, (yes I can still dance), my gossip accomplices, my girlie friends who I love and adore and share all secrets with, and I usually have a rigid schedule of appointments with the specialist team to keep me gorgeous and groomed, followed by lunch, dinner and tea dates, slotted in between visiting my favoured homes of luxury wear and goods (shops), and this last visit was no different.

On my visits back I'm always asked if I miss living in London and all it has to offer, and being such a lover of all things beautiful, soft, silky, and desirable some of my friends are doubtful of my conversion to country life. It is true that all roads for extravagance and opulence lead to London (when in England), but do those roads lead to happiness, a feeling of well being, calmness and peace, and I must report to you that they do not, certainly on a few weekends before Christmas when actually all the roads in London lead to sheer chaos, misery and frustration. Even in my spirited little clubman where I have a music system to match any nightclub and the interior mood lights to add ambiance, I could feel the familiar twitch of stress in my shoulders as I sat with other motorists along the Marylebone Road, so to pass the time I observed the cars around me, as one would expect a good selection of German motor cars dotted amongst large spotless 4x4's which is quite hilarious as I can't quite see the necessity for these enormous beasts of the road here in London when they are clearly of no use at all unless you were to indulge in a little off road driving along Marylebone High Street or St Johns Wood High Street to avoid the dreadfully parked cars or potholes, and they are immaculate, which with all the rain we've been having is astonishing, perhaps there is no mud in London because every single car in my part of the countryside, whatever the model, is completely mud spattered.

However, road and transport issues aside, London was looking resplendent with the magic of Christmas dust sprinkled all around, twinkly lights, delightful window displays, enticing end of year smells, cinnamon, frankincense, and mir mingled with sausage roll scents from The Ginger Pig(were the three kings lurking nearby) and as I drifted down the streets my senses savoured all the sights, sounds and smells. With my list held firmly in my Hermes gloved clad hand, I entered shops hopeful of purchasing gifts for my loved ones, and full of childlike excitement I smiled at sales girls all lined up waiting for me to make my choices, but they did not smile back, they looked bored and glum. I smiled at some of my fellow shoppers and sadly they did not smile back either. What is wrong with everyone, this is a joyful time of year. My girlfriend I met for lunch at The Providores explained it to me, I was looking at everything through the eyes of a visitor, these jaded shoppers are simply numb to the whole event now, living with it all day in day out, they just don't see it anymore, it has become a habit, a duty, a reflex almost, they just don't appreciate it.

Well I will never allow others gloom to effect me so off I skipped from lunch and continued to smile at everyone, and eventually I found people began to smile back, I hummed Christmas tunes to myself and they smiled more, they probably thought I was off my head, but if it brings a smile, I am delighted. I made some gratifying purchases and even managed to slot in a little trip to Laduree in Burlington Arcade for some Macaroons for my small tribe at home, followed by a quick whirl around the most beautiful shop in the world (really) Fortnum and Mason where I bought myself a small trinket of the shiniest kind for my ears.

I loaded all my goodies into the dinky boot of my car and headed out of London along the A40 towards home, and as the lights of London grew dim behind me I realised I had enjoyed my visit but was so very glad to be heading away from the mayhem of London and towards the harmony of my lovely new home and to my very handsome husband who (secretly) I had missed and my crazy brood of boys, who on arrival did not disappoint me as the eldest had brought home 2 (large) friends for the night who were found delving in the pantry for food, and asking me if we had some beer in. Oh it's good to be home...... If you fancy a bite in Marylebone the Providores wil fill you up nicely, and if you feel the need for a funky little motor I recommend a gorgeous Mini to whiz about in.


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