Author Archives: marmaladepie

Be a savvy sales shopper

Be a savvy sales shopper

I buy lots of my clothes in the sales. Usually, it’s a combination of impulse purchasing and forward planning – both clever in their own ways.

The buy-it-now, wear-it-now impulse purchase

This is where I indulge my inner magpie. Right now that means something fun and summery. Sales are the time to indulge in styles that probably won’t have that much longevity. We’re talking about the fun slogan bag for your holiday, an embroidered kaftan or some cute summer jewellery. You might not get a huge amount of wear out of it, but at sales prices, who’s complaining?

What am I looking out for? Cool dresses for my summer holiday, cute pom-poms and bright summer bags:

Summer sales picks

 Denim jacket, £18, Boohoo / Lucille Dress, £35, Boden / Tote bag, £14, Very

Why’s it clever? Buying throwaway summer pieces in the sale might be seen as wasteful, but I’m not so sure. They key is to limit yourself to a few, fun purchases. Don’t go mad. Buy a few treats to see you through till the end of the summer, but don’t waste your money on piles of things that’ll be useless come September.

Now, let’s talk about the clever buy-it-now, wear-it-later purchase

Right now, the savvy thing to do is to look towards Autumn. You’ll be surprised what you can find in the summer sales that will carry you right though to winter.

Look out for simple, transitional pieces that’ll ease you into the cooler months – navy skirts, Breton stripes and a cute coat for cooler days:

Autumn clothes from the summer sales

Sienna coat, £75, Boden / Skirt, £39.99, Benneton / Breton top, £12.50, Boden

Why not look ahead to next summer too? Choose staple items that won’t date, like jeans, linen, simple dresses and skirts. This is the time to invest in quality pieces that you can’t normally afford – things you know will be useful next year, and for years to come.

And thanks to online shopping, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home. Curated sales websites like Love the Sales, gather all your favourite sales in one place – meaning it’s now easier than ever to snap up a bargain!

Whatever you’re looking for, it pays to be clever.

This post is in collaboration with Love the Sales

 

Home Notes for July

Garden flowers

Regular readers will know that I don’t live in a show home. Far from it. Our period terrace is rough round the edges – it has pretty corners, but it also has very grubby corners. I struggle to take photos of it in its entirety. Because of that, I’m not always the best interiors blogger. However, I do love my home and every month I like to share what we’ve been up to and what’s on my interiors radar. It’s my little bit of imperfect perfection.

Home Notes for July: the bloggers desk

This month I’ve been enjoying curating the space I work in. My clever husband read last month’s Home Notes post and bought me this Jacqueline Colley screen print for my birthday. It now sits above my desk and I love looking up at it while I work.

Home notes for July: Jacqueline Colley screen print

We’re also gradually filling our newly painted hall with new pictures. Another clever birthday present from my husband, is this framed vintage tea-towel. We’ve had it for years and have always talked about having it framed. Finally, it’s up!

Fresh Milk's Gotta Lotta Bottle tea towel

Another favourite this month is this beautifully scented candle by Arum London. I really love candles on summer evenings – lighting them feels very therapeutic. The luxurious combination of jasmine and mint is perfect for summer – even when it’s not lit it fills the room with its gorgeous scent.

Arum London Jasmine and Mint candle

My garden is blooming (as are the weeds) and there’s an abundance of lovely flowers to bring in the house. Picking them and arranging them is one of life’s simple pleasures. I love this little banner from Weald Store, which sits beautifully alongside my posies.

Home Notes for July: garden flowers

So, what am I longing for? Top of the list is a freshly painted bedroom. I’m also edging closer to buying some much-needed kitchen chairs to replace our old ones (which are permanently sticky and stained after the toddler years). These Habitat chairs are my currently at the top of my list.

Habitat dining chairs

Disclosure: Arum London kindly sent me a complimentary candle of my choice. 

 

 

My essential summer accessories

Wherever this summer takes you, there are certain accessories you should never be without. We’re talking about those classic pieces that’ll see you through your day – whether you’re sitting on a windswept beach, an island paradise, or a park bench in your lunch hour.

The French basket… You can’t do summer without a French-style market basket. They’re practical and laid-back – but also terribly chic. They’re also massively affordable: my basket was £21 and has already earned its keep, and then some.

French market basket

The hat… Everyone needs a classic sun hat for the hottest days of the year. Choose a simple, wide-brimmed style for causal summer style that’ll never date. Mine is by Oliver Bonas.

The statement earrings… Liven up simple summer outfits with a knock-out pair of earrings. I love the nautical style of these rope earrings from Weald Store (a fabulous online indie that I urge you to check out).

Statement summer earrings

The Denim Jacket… is my trusty friend through the summer. It goes with everything and the stitches that hold it together are imbued with summer vibes.

The Denim jacket

The make up… Tinted facial suncream is my new summer essential. This tinted gel by La Roche Posay not only protects, it also gives a subtly healthy glow – all whilst feeling light on the skin. All you need on top is a bit of blusher and highlighter and you’re ready to go! This palette from Charlotte Tilbury is packed with flattering, glow-getting, shades.

Summer make up

Oh, and your umbrella…You don’t want to be without that, do you? This is England, after all.

Clever occasion dressing

I’d love to hear about your essential summer accessories. What can’t you live without?

Books: our chance to travel through time

Books you never grow tired of

A familiar book is like an old friend. You may not have spoken to each other for years, but as soon as you meet again it’s like no time has passed at all. As you gaze at those familiar pages, you’re transported back to all the times you’ve read it before.

It’s a strange feeling – comfortable, but there’s also a tinge of melancholy. Time has passed, and sometimes you wish it hadn’t. I like to see these books as prisms through we which can view our own lives. It’s a bit like time travelling. You get a fleeting reminder of the first time you read it, the feelings you had at the time, the place you were in. I’m often shocked by how vivid these memories can be – and yet, they slip through the fingers so easily.

I get this feeling when I revisit the books I read when I was between the ages of 16 and 21. Those introspective years when you do so much growing up, so quickly. The long summers when you’d devour book after book in a quest of self-discovery. It’s no coincidence that the books I remember from this time are some coming-of-age classics, like I Capture the Castle and the Cazalet Chronicles.

Books you never grow tired of

I’ve re-read these books many times over the years that followed, and they always take me back to that time in my life. But the clever thing about books is that they’re not just snapshots – they help us remember, but they also help us imagine. Each time you revisit a book it’s still possible to learn something new, to appreciate it on a different level. I sympathise with different characters and notice things my younger self missed.

And what about those books you always meant to read as a child, but never did? Go back now and found out what you were missing. The Harry Potter novels never clicked for me as when they were first published – I was just the wrong age, and it wasn’t the right time for me to appreciate them. But reading them in my thirties has felt more special. I devoured them, and felt bereft when they were finished. It was almost as though by reading them I’d been able to travel in time again – back to the time I might have read them.

Books are prisms. Look one way and you’ll see the past, reflected through the present – look another way and you’ll see the future. That feeling of discovery never gets old, and it’s a reminder why books should always be an important part of our lives.

Do you have a favourite book you like to return to, again and again?

 

 

 

#OnePerfectThing in June

#OnePerfectThing in June

Life can’t always be perfect, but we can always look for something small that makes us happy. It may only be a fleeting moment, but it’s precious.

Never was that more true than last month. What a truly crazy and deeply sad time we’ve had in the UK. The country’s in political turmoil and there’s been tragedy after tragedy in the news. There are days when it’s impossible to keep burying your head in the sand and pretend that everything’s ok.

But I think I’d go mad if I didn’t distract myself from it. That’s because recognising the little moments of perfection in my life isn’t really burying my head in the sand. It’s about finding comfort in the small things. Now more than ever, we need to remember to find time to do this everyday. 

Some of us find comfort in waving placards, others in a cup of coffee or picking a bunch of flowers in our garden. In these weird days we’re living in, just do whatever you can to keep sane.

And now, it’s over to you! June was a BEAUTIFUL month for our Instagram community. Really beautiful. Here’s what I loved.

#OnePerfectThing in June

Top row (left to right): @thetwinklesmama / @helloitsgemma / @marienew

Middle row (left to right): @bubbablueandme / @topknotanddaisies / @Caro_urbanvegpatch

Bottom row: @rachaellucas  / @sallytangle  / @emilyandmore

What were your #OnePerfectThing moments this month?

The halcyon days of summer, with Winsor Bishop

Halcyon Days bangle, Winsor Bishop

halcyon / ADJECTIVE / Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful

If anywhere is going to evoke thoughts of halcyon days, it’s Cambridge.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an evening at Winsor Bishop, an independent jeweller in the heart of the city. It was the summer solstice, and one of those balmy evenings when Cambridge was at its best. Bicycles, blue skies, students in evening dress lounging around outside colleges – it’s a city that’s perfect for making our own halcyon days right now.

The wine fizzed and the diamonds glittered.

Winsor Bishop, Cambridge

Winsor Bishop, Cambridge

It was the perfect night to be introduced to Halcyon Days, an established English brand who specialise in beautiful enamel bangles and bracelets. I was lucky enough to take one home with me and I’ve been wearing it ever since.

Halcyon Days bangle, Winsor Bishop

Even if the sky isn’t always blue, the flash of bright enamel on my wrist is enough to remind me of those halcyon days of summer. For me, it’s a concept that conjures up images of long summer days – blue skies, golden sunshine, fruit-picking, Pimms in the garden… I bet at least one of those is on your list too!

Halcyon Days bangle, Winsor Bishop

Thank you to Winsor Bishop for helping me create some halcyon moments of my own! If you’re in Cambridge I recommend calling in to their beautiful and friendly Trinity Street store.

Want to see more? Here’s a mini video of my evening!

Culottes…and a lesson in self-confidence

Culottes, would you could you?

I last owned a pair of culottes in about 1991. They were brown, voluminous and I wore then to Brownies. Just like mules and high-heeled jelly shoes, these were one trend I was happy to leave behind. Until now.

Warmer weather makes us more receptive to new things, doesn’t it? In my last post I mentioned that I’ve been trying different styles lately – things that defy the way I normally dress for my shape. Last week, I tried the cold-shoulder top and loved it. Now feels like the time to welcome culottes back into my life.

Culottes are a great choice for me. I love skirts and dresses, but hate shorts. Culottes are the perfect middle ground. So in the spirit of trying new things, I ordered a pair in the Joules sale, and waited with trepidation for them to arrive.

Culottes, would you could you?

Why the fear? I’ve become so conditioned to only ever wearing skinny jeans, that anything baggy or voluminous feels wrong. Won’t it accentuate my curves, and make me look short and dumpy?

When I first tried them on, I liked them, but then the doubts crept in. All I could see was the lack of flat stomach and the emphasis on my hips. But then I showed my boys and my husband and they all immediately said how cool they looked. Which made me realise that the perception of how a pair of culottes should look was really just in my head.

They’ve taught me a lesson in self-confidence. If I slump and look down at the floor, then they will look awful. But if I smile and hold my head high, they’ll look amazing. Every time I put them on, I get that little voice of doubt, but then I remember what the boys said. I like them, and trust this feeling, rather than looking for things to criticise.

Culottes, could you, would you?

On a purely practical note, they really do feel amazing to wear. This pair is light and soft – and I love the pattern. They’re smart, but laid-back. Pretty and versatile – they feel just at home on the school run and they do in a meeting. They’re also going to feature in my holiday packing.

As with most loose trousers, I prefer a defined top half – so, for me, it’s always going to be a tucked-in top. A simple white shirt or vest would also look amazing.

Culottes

My culottes are by Joules. They’re in the sale at £29.95, but are selling fast. My tee is by White Stuff and my necklace is past-season Joules (try eBay).

Culottes

Luckily, there are lots more to choose from! For a classic look try these…

Nancy culottes, £80, Boden / Lennon culottes, £49.95, Joules

Or, how about a floral pair? I love these two…

Wild garden culottes, £36, Warehouse / Floral culottes, £19.99, New Look

So, cullotes: would you, could you?

 

 

Shake your pom poms!

Make your own pompom accessories

I have an enduring love for pom poms. I’m so drawn to the little fluffy balls of colour, you might as well call me a pom pom magpie. So I’m excited that they’re having moment this summer. You’ll find them on bags, tunics, scarves, earrings and anything else you can think of. 

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories. Like most summer trends, this one’s probably not going to endure beyond the end of August. Why spend lots of money, when you can decorate the things you already have?

And was there ever an easier craft to make? Invest in a pom pom maker (trust me, this is one purchase you’ll never regret) and you’ll be churning them out in no time. It’s the perfect craft for hot summer days when anything more fiddly is too difficult to contemplate.

All you need to do is make a few pom poms and leave their long strings (the ones you tie them together with) intact. Then, you can then tie them to every possession you own.

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories.

I’ve decorated my French market basket

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories.

…and my favourite summer sandals. There’s no sewing involved, just knot them on. You can cut them off when you get fed up of them, and change the colours according to your outfit! 

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories.

Don’t fancy getting crafty? Here’s my pick of the best summer buys. Please forgive me the momentary lapse in taste – I think we all need a pet pom pom parrot for summer.

Summer pom pom accessories

Sandals, £25.99, New Look /  Parrot keyring, £4.99, New Look / Earrings, £7.50, ASOS / Basket, £21.99, ASOS

make your own pom pom accessories

Are you ready to shake your pom poms?

 

 

Make a blazer your new best friend

Summer blazer

I’ve always overlooked blazers. It’s easy to do. They’re a bit unassuming aren’t they? Always in the shadows, they were never going to win the popularity contest to be my best friend.

That’s a bit mean though, isn’t it? I’ve decided it’s time we made friends. My fear has always been that blazers are a bit dull. But this perceived weakness is actually the blazer’s greatest strength. Its simple, utilitarian style is pretty cool.

Summer blazer

A simple navy blazer goes with everything – pleated skirts, floaty dresses, ripped jeans… But my favourite way to style it is with wide-leg linen trousers and a Breton – classic summer attire for those days when you want to feel a little more pulled together.

Summer blazer

Summer blazer

Keep things low-key by choosing a slightly stretchy, jersey fabric for a more unstructured look.

My jacket is from H&M. It’s now sold out online, but it’s worth trying your luck in store. If you’d prefer to shop online, let me point you in the direction of this gorgeous jersey jacket by Boden:

Image: Boden

Or, if you’d prefer something more loose and unstructured, this jacket from New Look is perfection:

Image: New Look

My t-shirt is by H&M, and my trousers are last summer’s linen wide-legs from Marks and Spencer – who do fantastic linen at brilliant prices. This pair from their current collection are very similar.

Do you have a blazer lurking at the back of your wardrobe? Get it out and make it your new best friend! 

Summer blazer

Home Notes for June

June mantelpiece

Every summer I fall in love with my home all over again. 

As the days get warmer it takes on a new lease of life. A fresh personality. Every time I throw open a door or window a bit of magic happens. It’s like the house is stretching out its limbs and letting out a big breath it’s been holding for months.

David Austin rose, the Albrighton Rambler

I’m spending more and more time outdoors and the garden feels like an extension of the house. We worked hard last year – planting roses and putting up a new shed. This year the hard work is paying dividends. The rambling roses are well and truly rambling and make me smile each time I pass. As do my cats, who are certainly adding a whole new element to the garden this year.

Cat on a fence post

I’ve planted a section of summer plants, including cosmos, sweet peas, nigella and dahlias – which are starting to bloom alongside my established plants.

My garden in June

I can’t wait to see how everything changes and develops over the summer.

My garden in June

Indoors, we’re enjoying our newly painted hall and landing – and we’re very slowly hanging our pictures back up. It’s taking ages because we’re having new things framed, old things re-framed and generally re-jigging things. Which takes forever, but is very satisfying.

Re-framing pictures

Remember those bits of wrapping paper I mentioned a couple of months ago? I ordered them, and they’re framed and ready to go. They work brilliantly in the frames from IKEA and totally prove that interesting pictures don’t have to cost the earth.

Framed wrapping paper

A word of warning though. The IKEA frames are very flimsy. They’re fine with a £3 piece of wrapping paper, but I wouldn’t trust them with anything really special. We’re sending those things off to be framed by a local professional – which is actually less expensive than you’d think. Especially when you consider the quality of bespoke frames. For us, we’re usually talking about £30-£50 per picture.

Lighter, brighter days are also inspiring me to re-arrange things that have sat still for far too long. Last week I cleared all the clutter from the mantel piece in our study, and replaced it with a simple, seasonal display. The result is refreshing, which is what I need in the room where I sit and write.

Peonies in a marmalade jar

What’s been on my interiors radar this month?

First up, this beautiful screen print by Jacqueline Coley. I’ve been admiring it for a while and I’d like it very much!

Image by Jacqueline Coley

I have also fallen in love with this fluffy chair from Maison du Monde. There’s a matching bench too.

Image by Mason du Monde

What are your home notes this month?

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