Serotonin, Style & Sustainability

This happens to me, I wake up and all of a sudden have an urgency to write about something that has been pulling on my heart strings (without having realised it).  The upside is I get so excited I don’t waste timing putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), the downside is, I don’t plan the post, which means you lot could end up reading a lot of babble…

Over my years of styling various people in various careers and walks of life, as well as following my own journey of ups and downs, one thing I have come to realise is that no matter where you are at or what you are doing we all benefit from feeling good.  Ive been through periods of feeling great, possibly because Im fit and healthy, and other times of feeling really miserable about myself, probably because Im going through a slump, not keeping up with exercise and poor diet.  That’s step one, feeling good from within.  Following closely on the heels of step one is looking good, dressing well! Whether I’m fit or not I need to maintain a level of style in my life otherwise I begin to feel even worse.  Ive noticed when I have let myself go a little on the dressing front I really do feel awful.  I totally can see how I’ve let this slide over the last couple of years and I’ve decided this year, whilst I certainly don’t have a new wardrobe to parade, I’m going to try and be clever and think out the box, whilst Ive adapted to a more classical look (for simplicity) I will try to add a (teeny tiny) edge to give it a touch of “me”, and these small efforts, I know will boost my happiness.  I will be trying my best to get fit and eat cleaner (mental note to self – stop eating children’s leftovers).  Ive seen it through so many women, how taking care of appearances boosts confidence and happiness.  Everyone has their own level of standards and they know when they are at their best or worst.  I could feel amazing in myself but to others out there look very average (hopefully nobody would tell me that – haha) and visa versa, but if you’re healthy and fresh faced then you should shine from the inside out and that counts for everything.  Once you’ve started with your body and mind you then move onto wardrobe and dressing well, present yourself well to show you care.  So that rounds up the bit about confidence and serotonin.

Next up is style.  Style is a very personal thing, Im sure everyone knows that.  Everyone has their own style and way of expressing this.  Style is not stepping out in the latest Zara/Topshop/Country Road and H&M haul, very far from it.  It is a slow and progressive collection of pieces that build up a wardrobe of pieces that you should always love.  They should be able to be worn with confidence and ease, if you ever feel uncomfortable in something, it’s not you, take it off and get rid of it.  Sell it, pass it on, alter it. Being trendy is not stylish! Dressing to suit your character is a good start although there are many women and men out there who battle with what works for them and will seek advice which is a great start.  I certainly don’t try and do my accounts, Im hopeless, so somebody else does that bit.  I do the parts I love and feel capable of doing and that is what we should all be doing.  Seek advice or help in the areas where you lack the ability to do it yourself.  My aim this year is to feel like Im trying my best from a wardrobe front (next mental note to self, try ditch all my t-shirt wearing and certainly NO more Havaianas every day)… if I want to wear a t-shirt, Im going to put it with something really striking at the bottom (haha lets see how this unfolds).  A friend popped in yesterday and said, wow look at you, is this just you strolling around in your best.  I have been “trying” a little harder this week, wearing bits that haven’t had a look-in in forever! So Im pleased to to say it never went unnoticed.  I’ve often had compliments on pieces that I’ve worn that are really old, but that’s where choosing a timeless shape helps as it doesn’t look outdated in 3 years.  That’s the bit about Style…

Now onto sustainability.  Like many others that share the same values out there, Ive become extremely conscious of our human footprint on this planet and Im desperate to be less of a consumer and more of a recycler.  We can all do little bits which will add up to a lot.  My goals for this year are to grow as many of my own veg as possible, buy less plastic, not purchase one plastic water bottle, I will continue to recycle all my rubbish as we have done for years and use earth friendly cleaning products (in fact vinegar is best, but Im not quite there yet). Being fully sustainable is quite a task and can be very overwhelming when thinking about absolutely everything we can and cant do, so baby steps makes me feel better and less stressed by it all.  Whilst there’s no way I will never ever buy another item from a high street store again, I am taking the saying “Buy Less.  Choose well. Make it last.” literally. (Thanks Viveinne Westwood).  When buying a dress for a wedding or special occasion, choose something that really suits you and that you absolutely LOVE so you will want to wear it for years to come.  Choose classic tailoring, simple sneakers, coats and jackets that suit your frame as well as being timeless. AND if you can buy from small business’s that are using sustainable practices & fabrics as well as having ethical values.  Choose raffia, straw, cotton or vegan material handbags over leather.

So how do these three topics all roll into one another? Well its simple.  Feel good, care about yourself, increase your serotonin levels by starting with the your health and fitness.  Style in turn makes you feel better, care about your appearance and I can promise you, the amount of people that I have seen transform in front of my eyes has been extremely gratifying.  Do good for your planet where you can and feel better about making a difference.  Transform yourself but be sustainable at the same time, choose carefully and don’t get sucked into consumerism, chasing the next trend.  Sure, from year to year you may want to update your wardrobe from the chunky knit to the twin set but generally trends like that last at least two seasons (so two years) before feeling the need to switch things around. Small updates can make all the difference and if you choose the classic version of a trend it’s likely to go the distance.  Keep it Simple! But hey, this is nothing you haven’t heard before, right 😉

I leave you with some of my favourite classic looks (most have been on my Pinterest boards for years, at least 3-4, and I still love them), so it shows, choose well, it lasts.

Have a fabulous week ahead everyone.

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The Drinks Trolley Re-invented

The revival of the drinks trolley happened somewhere in the last couple of years and whilst I always imagined it as a bit of a fussy piece of tacky furniture gathering dust living in a badly lit room in the 50’s, I now love the way in which it has been reinvented.  A stat just to show how popular it has become:   The number of bar cart ideas (if you don’t mind an Americanism) saved on Pinterest in the UK jumped 40 per cent in six months. Sales of bar carts were up 173 per cent from January to June 2016.

Some Drinks Trolley Trivia

(taken from http://www.thebarcartist.com/bar-cart-history/)

The bar cart actually got its start during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). However, at that time it was not associated with alcoholic beverages. The bar carts of the Victorian Era were actually tea trolleys!  It seems we have the Interbellum and Greatest Generations to thank for taking us from Tea Time to Party Time when they started using bar carts for cocktail parties during the end of Prohibition (1933). Though bar carts started being associated with cocktails after the repeal of prohibition, they did not become well known cocktail entertaining items until the 1950’s.

If your’e thinking of including a drinks cart/trolley as part of your decor at home here are a few do’s and don’ts.

Cart Style

Retro-style carts are particularly popular – think gold and glitzy with glass or marble shelving.  Marble with a very dark brassy metal would be my choice.  But look for contemporary details, such as oversized wheels and sleek lines, to stop things feeling too fussy. Two shelves is way better than one and three shelves is probably too many.  Purchasing the cart is probably the easiest part however.

Alcohol 

Its not about a purchase and then stocking it with a couple bottles of hardtack and some crystal glasses.  Of course not, in 2017 everything has to be styled!  The styling also includes the brand of alcohol you have on display.  I would personally pick two or three bottles of spirits, I think an over stocked trolley will look messy and cluttered.  Perhaps add a soft drink like an Elderflower cordial, a bottle of bitters and lots of sparkling water (San Pelligrino).  This is for the everyday display and then when you have guests you can add your wines, champagne etc. When you are picking your display bottles of spirits I can’t speak for Bourbon’s or Whiskey’s but a bottle of Gordins isn’t going to cut it on the Gin front, Hendricks, Bombay Sapphire or something on that level.  If residing in SA you may be up to speed with the gin re-awakening (well that’s a whole other topic altogether). Cape Town is one of the leaders of this world wide trend.  Talented and passionate locals are distilling gin using indigenous flora such as fynbos and rooibos to create gin that you’ll find nowhere else in the world. A few of the local names to look out for that would sit very prettily (and go down very happily) are Inverroche http://www.inverroche.co.za Hope on Hopkins http://hopeonhopkins.co.za Musgrave http://www.musgravegin.co.za Woodstock Gin Company http://www.woodstockginco.co.za to name a few.

Styling

Bringing in some artwork, plants, a lamp, jugs, candles, good crystal pieces or books are a few of the many different objects to look for.  Fruit is also a great idea, I would go with a bowl of lemons, limes or both and a pineapple or three.  Recently we have been drinking our gin with slices of pineapple and I can honestly say that Pineapple in gin should be part of the gin revolution.  Basically any of the above objects would add interest, texture, colour and style to your cart.  Again for me personally I would choose a few items and not make it too busy, ensuring every item has the ability to shine and be seen.

Inspiration

I have picked out what I believe to be beautifully styled trolleys.

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I’m still looking for my perfect drinks trolley, I imagine its living in an antiques market somewhere.  I look forward to sharing it with you here when its found.

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Interior Additions

Some beautiful pieces to lift a space that needs little change up without a complete overhaul.  Interiors are like wardrobes in that you have your staples (your larger pieces of furniture perhaps like your classic sofa’s, cabinets and sideboards in neutral tones) then you can move out coffee tables, side tables, rugs and scatters to either change your colour scheme ever so slightly or just bring in a new design element that you love.

The velvet topped stool.  I love this elegant looking stool, at first glance it’s quite sophisticated looking, but the lighter oak legs will ensure that this piece fits in with traditional or contemporary decor themes.  Shop the stool here

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Mix up your outdoor area and add this round day bed to a special corner for curling up in.  Its a very contemporary style but feels very luxurious at the same time.  It looks like a piece you would find on the deck of your private plunge pool at a lodge. Shop here

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Add texture to your walls with baskets, a different take on artwork or mirrors, I love the layers it adds to a space.  Choose from a range here

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Free up some space on your bedside table and attach lamps to your wall next to your bed.  I love these, they can be shopped here

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You probably know by now Im a sucker for baskets.  These could be used for anything from kids toys to bathing towel storage outdoors (undercover).  Shop baskets of varying sizes  here

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A plant sorts out any space when you don’t know what to do with it or if an area is lacking life. Why not put plants on your wall too.  I adore these wall hanging pot plants which can be ordered here

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Adding ceramics, wood, metal and wicker to your bookshelves is a great way to add interest to an area.  A home can never have too many bowls in different shapes, colours and sizes. Shop this striking yellow one here

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This bark mirror is so different and again doubles up as artwork, purchase three and place them on a wall beside one another.  Shop these at a bargain price here

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Incorporating Black

So you would have heard me banging on about my floors in one of my previous posts here, and I decided to go dark.  The actual colour used was Ebony, but it doesn’t come out pitch black, its more like a really really dark brown (perhaps one shade lighter than black…) Anyway the outcome is sensational (for me) Im so thrilled with them.  Ive left the rooms quite bare at the moment as Im trying to decide how Im going to fill them and what I want to do with the space.  Anyway now that Im obsessed with my floors it got me looking through other ideas of using black in the home.  Last year I decorated a guest house which you may also know about if you follow my Instagram page   There I decided to paint the kitchen cupboards black.  The owners didn’t want an entire kitchen renovation but rather update what was there, so I went with black and it made such a great impact on the rather vast, outdated and dull space that had existed beforehand.  I also brought in black chairs for the dining area (open plan) which carried the boldness through to balance the spaces out somewhat.  Now, I know black is no great shakes in terms of “newness”, it’s been trending in various ways for some time in the world of interiors.  We have been loving black steel door and window frames as well as cabinetry and bathroom tiles for a few years now, but there are certain ways to do it, for a better, bolder and slightly classier outcome.

Here are some ideas of how to incorporate black.

I just love this black backdrop for this bedroom, so simple and effective.

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Here we see it used in a far subtler way but that pop of darkness is so strong

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I think black floors are my new thing 😉 love that the rest of the woodwork has also been painted black.

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Loving the dark sinks

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So rich, the blues with black.  Im always a fan of mixing blues and black in dressing. (clearly Slim Aarons fans judging by the pictures)

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I almost feel like this black staircase replaces the necessity for too much artwork.

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I love a black exterior wall for a wooden house, it looks great in a lush leafy area as below or even on a beach house with the contrast of the white sandy surrounds.

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There will be pics up on the blog or instagram soon of my floors 😉

Happy Hump Day (or what’s left of it 😉

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The Next Big Thing To Talk About

Now that Halloween is over can we talk about Christmas? Well apart from those that celebrate Thanksgiving, but Im certainly starting to peek at the decorations out the corner of my eye every time I walk by a display.  Well to tell you the truth I will just come out with it, I’ve already bought my first 3 additions for the tree!  Im such a sucker for anything sparkly and Christmassy.  I asked my oldest son (who was 2.5 years old) last Christmas to choose a decoration for the tree, it was such fun watching him search, take one and then change his mind and then I tried to sway his decisions too, the first thing he picked out was a really funny looking little scraggly felt dog, I guess that is what gives the tree character, anyway we came home with a reindeer and a scraggly looking dog.  I will turn this into a ritual until the boys are older and don’t find picking out a tree decoration that fun anymore, which will only be a few years away I suspect.

Last year my tree was filled with white, grey and a touch of red, and then of course the odd pink, yellow and red knitted socks from great gran and a kitsch purple liberty ball that somebody gave us amongst a few other weird things that we feel obliged to put up but generally I like to have a theme going. So for every strange looking decoration I buy another three to overshadow the bizarre bits and the theme never gets lost.  As this is our last winter in the UK I will probably keep the white and silver theme going as Im sure summer Christmas’s to come will be filled with neon and colour.

So far I’ve found a garland of small wire star fairy lights, a wreath in a heart shape of painted white berry’s and a little grey felt tree with a bit of white embroidery on it.  Two of my favourite places to buy decorations from are Paper Chase and The White Company who are, for me, are the epitome of Christmas. They do it so so well!  And actually I must mention Waitrose too, as whilst I walk around doing my shopping I always manage to chuck one in as if Im throwing in the usual pack of apples (it doesn’t make me feel like Im actually spending extra on unnecessary extras as it gets lost amongst the food shop.

Paper Chase do amazing wrap and ribbons too, their decorations are especially fun and different which is where I will take Oliver and Adam to again for picking out their tree decorations this year.  I have gathered a few of my favourites below and put them into their themes. All decorations featured are picked from Paperchase, John Lewis, The White Company and Liberty. Never right off your local supermarket, Ikea or a little independent store where I have picked up many little trinkets along the way.

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The playful Neon Tree
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The rustic winter tree
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The Glamour Tree
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Winter White Tree
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Traditional Red, Green & White Tree

Well I won’t say Happy Holiday’s just yet but happy decoration hunting. Now we just need the trees to come out….(Big cheesy grin).

Had to share the Happy holiday’s caravan (below), one of the cutest I have come across which I might have to pop into my shopping basket next time!

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