A Few of My Favourite Things: January 2014

One of my resolutions for this year was to live more in the present, and to keep a better record of what’s happening around me. With that in mind, I thought that I’d quite like to evaluate my favourite things from each month – things I’ve been doing, things I’ve been using, and things that have generally added a little bit of sparkle to each day.

Getting crafty…

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Ikea Sewing Machine (here) – This month was the one that I began taking dressmaking classes, which have been a bit of an uphill climb, but also very rewarding. I’ll be sure to share my finished creation with you in a few weeks’ time! After one class, I quickly realised that whilst beautiful, my pretty little John Lewis mini sewing machine simply wasn’t man enough for the task that I’d bought it for, and I needed an upgrade, fast. I heard a few girls in my class discussing the merits of a sewing machine sold in Ikea last week, and since I was heading there after the class anyway, I thought it was worth taking a chance on – especially when I got £12 off with the family card discount, making it just £33! It’s been an absolute dream to work with, and works like a much more expensive machine. John Lewis very graciously refunded me for my beautiful blue baby, and whilst this is nowhere near being a looker, the Ikea machine has made me so much more excited about heading further into the dressmaking world.

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Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (here) – I’ve expressed my desire several times in the last few months to begin brightening up our rented flat and its magnolia walls, by painting our dull pine furniture. Thanks to my boyfriend’s lovely mum, January was the month that I finally got to indulge in a big way! I’d read about the virtues of Annie Sloan chalk paint for reinventing furniture and giving the home that distressed, antique French look, so it was the obvious choice for taking the plunge. I picked the shade Antoinette, a soft, dusty pink that dries ever-so-slightly sheer, showing the dark wood grain underneath – perfect for a feminine feel that isn’t too childish. I started with my dressing table a few weekends back, and once that was fit for a princess (really, quite literally!), I set my sights on my sewing table – which can be seen above. The pink brightens up the room and really lifts it, and the two tables that have been painted look brand new now. It’s even persuaded my boyfriend (with a little help from me) that we can begin painting other pieces of furniture. I’ve set my heart on Paris Grey next, for our bedside tables – what do you think?

Reading and writing…

ImageThe Collette Sewing Handbook (here) – I bought this book months back, when I first got a sewing machine, but after flicking through it, I quickly realised I was way out of my depth and I put it back on the bookshelf. However, since I started dressmaking, the instructions suddenly make much more sense and I finally feel that I understand. This is a beautiful book that explores all the areas of dressmaking, from choosing fabrics and buying tools, to sewing in sleeves and zips and other terrifying things. It also includes five patterns for beautiful things to wear, so I’ve been getting stuck into the lovely scalloped ‘Meringue Skirt’ during the week.

Moleskine Notebook (here) – Lewis bought me this for Christmas, after I’d complained that I wasn’t able to write my novel at the computer. After spending eight hours a day at a screen, you can understand that it’s the last thing you want to do when hometime beckons. So now I have no excuse to get creative and get writing, and it’s been working! This beautiful notebook has become the home of my first solid, grown-up endeavour into story-telling, and it’s been just lovely. These notebooks are expensive, but the quality is astounding and they are just so lovely to carry about. I couldn’t be without it now!

The Beautiful and The Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald (here) – Sometimes, you just need to get back into an old favourite of a book, and get re-acquainted with whatever it was that made you love the story so much in the first place. I’ve been enjoying that thoroughly this month, as I’ve spent many a spare moment curled up somewhere cosy, getting over-involved with this beautifully bittersweet story and its menagerie of flawed characters, gloomy days and glamorous happenings. It’s my favourite Fitzgerald book (closely contented by Tender Is The Night), and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

ImageSamsung Galaxy Tab 3 (here) – I’d always thought that having a tablet might be quite nice, and after a year of endlessly trying to steal moments with my boyfriend’s iPad, I decided I should take the plunge and buy my own. Step forward the Tab 3, which I bought having had a great experience with any Samsung product I’ve ever used. It’s small and light, and does everything I need it to and more. I go away a lot for work, and this will be a happy accompaniment to long train journeys and lonely nights away in hotels. As for the tablet case, that’s a little something I whizzed up last weekend in a desperate attempt to try out my new machine and use up that cute London fabric – you can take the girl out of the city…

Primping and Preening…

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Jurlique Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Gel Mask (here) – With the winter well and truly here, the first thing to start suffering is definitely my skin, and I’m always careful to treat it extra-carefully in the harsher months. A mask is one of my favourite ways to unwind and indulge, and this Jurlique number has worked wonders on tight, dry skin in the last few weeks. It drenches the skin in moisture and gently sweeps away dead skin cells, leaving my face feeling plump and nourished in ten minutes flat! It’s expensive, yes, but it is a little luxury that I’ve been loving!

Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Calming Face Mask (here) – Similarly to the above, I’ve been using this wonderful mask to help banish the effects of harsh weather and long days, and it’s been a dream! It’s been something of a stressful month work-wise, and this gentle mask works to combat reactivity, redness and skin difficulties, leaving my face feeling calm and looking soft and lovely. Used in conjunction with the Jurlique mask, my skin has never looked nicer!

Rimmel Kate Matte Lipstick in Wine 107 (here)I’ve been loving a red lip for some time this month, but January has really been the time that I’ve embraced the darker end of the spectrum. I picked up this deep burgundy lipstick just before Christmas, and in the last few weeks, it’s barely left my lips! The colour is elegant and grown-up without being fussy, and adds a touch of glamour whatever the outfit and whatever the occasion. I love the creamy matte formula, which doesn’t cling to any flaky bits, and looks consistently smooth and effortless. Time to try out the other shades in the range I think – if it’s good enough for Miss Moss…

Elemis Frangipani Monoi Shower Cream (here) – Christmas is obviously the time of year when your cabinets and cupboards are suddenly restocked with all kinds of beauty goodies from friends and family, but this year I got some extra-special treats in the form of Elemis Spa@Home! I received some gorgeous jasmine and rose bath milk, and a delicious-smelling frangipani body oil, but the star of the show this month has been the Frangipani Monoi shower cream – the scent is beyond heavenly, and it leaves my skin feeling soft and supple and smelling just lovely!

Wardrobe Wonders…

ImageTopshop Stripe Tunic (here) – This is a wardrobe addition that came fairly late into the month, but I’m so in love with it that it just had to be included! I’ve been subconsciously searching for the perfect Breton dress for some time, and when I spotted this on Instagram, I knew that I had to have it. It wasn’t the cheapest for such a casual dress, but I think it’s worth every penny so far! I love the details, from the heavy cotton fabric, to the rolled sleeves and exposed zip, as well as the classic boat neck. It’s oversized, but super-flattering, and I can’t wait to wear it again and again…

Vintage Chiltern Handbag – Aah, this bag. I found it whilst browsing on ASOS Marketplace when bored at work (whoops) and had to have it. I’ve been searching for a bag like this for about a year, so I knew it was the one as soon as I saw it. I’ve been using it a lot in the last week, but I think it’ll really come into its own in spring and summer, when I can pair it with pastels and all kinds of prettiness!

So, that’s what I’ve been loving this month. Let’s see what February holds!

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