Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sunday Smörgåsbord

After a short break from blogging on account of a busy start to the term, I have lots to include for you this evening, so I'd best get cracking!


1 Yummy mini pies at The Hornbrook Inn. Cosy pub, homey food and very reasonable prices.

2 The rain before the shine. I love this moody view across the Surrey Downs.

3 New bracelet from the ever fabulous Urban Outfitters. I don't feel cool enough to pull off some of their clothing, but I can do my best with the accessories at least!

4 French manicure with peach tips and glitter.

5 Porn Star Martini at Wabi. Delicious.

6 Sensational sliders at All Bar One. Generally trying to be good at the moment, but these were a lunchtime treat last weekend, and worth every calorie!

7 I bought this lovely grainy wooden frame with heart apertures from Chickidee (no website to link to as yet), then printed vintage maps of two meaningful destinations as an engagement gift for one of my best friends who just got engaged. She rewarded my handiwork with a request to be one of her bridesmaids - I cannot even begin to express my excitement! (Love you, H! x)

8 Buds...

9 ... and blossom. Spring is beautiful.

10 Yummy salad of pea shoots, baby spinach, grated courgette and cucumber, edamame beans, jumbo king prawns and seared scallops, topped off with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.

11 Bringing the outside in with lilac stocks, baby pink tulips and fluffy gyp.

12 My new pink, um, I don't even know what to call it! I bought this at the Sussex Country Brocante last weekend. Such a lovely vintage fair held in the stunning, quaint little village of Wisborough Green. It is held once a month and at only £1 entry is well worth a visit. You will find an array of antiques, hand-crafted items, clothing, fresh fruit, veg and flowers, and a warm reception from  all of the stall holders.

13 This stunning old clock has just been bestowed upon me by very lovely and generous friends, who were looking for a new home for it. I am so excited to find out more about it and hopefully get it working again once I find the right person for the job.

14 Obligatory bunting and even a sweet little duck pond at the aforementioned Sussex Country Brocante, organised by Love Lane Vintage. Next date: Saturday, 22nd June.

15 - 19 The delightful Three Crowns pub in Wisborough Green. Possibly my favourite pub ever. Top three at least. Great styling, food and service - an absolute pleasure in every respect.

So, there you have it: a handful of my latest purchases/ventures/culinary delights. Before I sign off, you might be interested to hear that I finally got around to making my ombré cake yesterday, which I look forward to sharing with you asap, and I also have a backlog of blog posts that I've started but not quite finished (apologies for my poor post management), that I hope to get out over the course of next week. In the meantime, if you're looking for online fodder, why not take a look at my boards on Pinterest?

Night all!

pp x


Monday, 15 April 2013

Sunday Smörgåsbord

My final Smörgåsbord of the Easter break is an eclectic mix. I'm rather proud to say that this holiday I actually managed to strike the perfect balance between filling my time with lots of wonderful places to go/things to do/people to see, organising my life/home and enjoying duvet days in my pjs. I am now left feeling extremely fortunate and appreciative, and refreshed and motivated ready for the return to work. Feels good...


1 Goregous Lisbeth Dahl vintage rose glass cake stand purchased at The Hambledon in Winchester. This is such a beautiful shop, which I heard about here. Thanks to Charlotte @ Anknel & Burblets for the great recommendation!

2 I have been obsessed with stationery since my eighth birthday, when I received my first proper pencil case all kitted out ready for a new year at a new school. I loved it so much that I even took (and still have) photos of that pencil case. It was hot pink with a lilac zip - my parents knew me well. I still cannot resist cool stationery, and I love to adorn the pages of my otherwise very grown-up looking Filofax and my notebooks with cute stickers/labels/post-its (I used to collect stickers too; are you beginning to build a picture..?). These are very sweet and quirky.

Creative Display by Geraldine James - a beautiful book full of beautiful interiors, along with lots of styling tips.

4 The effortlessly lovely Narcissi that have been breathing the scent of spring throughout the flat for over a week, and are still going!

5 The presentation and packaging of Paul & Joe's products is just exquisite. It renders the act of applying one's lip gloss positively opulent! This gloss has staying power without feeling tacky on your lips, and the colour is great on.

6 I just *love* Jessica aka lolamarie7 and her vlogs, as I am sure I have mentioned before. My hair in this picture was the result of following this tutorial of hers for everyday waves. I'm sure to many of you out there this might seem an entirely straight forward process, but I'm not great with hair, so I'd rather follow a hairdresser's instructions than be left to my own devices any day! The waves were still pretty tight when I took the photo, but they dropped ever so slightly and were perfect once I'd brushed through them gently.

7 Up until now, I had been using this glass jar from the sweetie table at our wedding to store chocolates/sweets etc whenever we had any to store, but this meant it didn't really have a permanent function or place. When clearing out some old nail varnishes, it occurred to me that I could use the bonbon jar to store my nail varnishes, which would both look pretty and free up some space in the bathroom cupboard - double win!

8 I then turned my attention to my make up collection. There were some rather dubious items (5 year old lip gloss...) lurking in the depths that needed weeding out. Having culled rather a lot, I purchased these neat acrylic drawers from Homebase to organise, store and display my make up. Very handy and looks supremely neat and tidy. You can find similar acrylic storage at Muji.

9 & 10 My sister and I enjoyed a delicious meal at Trattoria da Carlo in Fetcham this week. Please overlook the very basic website; it's all about the food. Our starters were especially delicious: smoked salmon and tiger prawns with mango, and crab with avocado. Old fashioned Sicilian cuisine at its best.

11 Too true. I snapped this in passing while out shopping the other day. I miss my two dogs (English Springer Spaniels) at my parents' home and am ever hopeful that His Lordship will concede and allow me to have one, one day...

Work minus approx. 8 hours. Time to say, 'Bonne nuit'!

pp x


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Playing for keeps

Whilst pinning typographical art to my latest board on Pintrest (infinitely more interesting than sleeping), I stumbled across the following rather touching article on marriage, by Lydia Netzer. It seems to me to be very sound advice and is beautifully written, so I am posting it below in honour of all my wonderful friends and family who are very recently married (J&G), newly engaged (F&D and H&J), or soon to be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary (Mum & Dad!). I'm also posting this for my Mr Magpie - four months and counting...

Image © Ria Mishaal Photography

NB Marriage is not a prerequisite for reading this article; there aren't any smug married comments and it does not idealise marriage in a condescending fashion. It's honest and charming; you should read it:

15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years 


Today is my fifteenth wedding anniversary. I really love Dan, and I am proud of how awesome our marriage is. We certainly haven’t killed each other yet. Hell, we haven’t even maimed each other. We have not always been perfect, but we have made two cool kids, and we have always kept it interesting. For two people as weird and intense as Dan and I are, staying together this long is a big accomplishment. I know some people are surprised.

When Dan and I got married, we were 25 years old. Now, we’re staring down the barrel of 40. Looking back I’m surprised we didn’t, as 25 year olds, self-destruct just for the heck of it. Now that we are older, we are perhaps surprisingly also wiser. Here are the things we have learned over the years, that helped us stay married and even happy for fifteen years. (Beyond that, you’re on your own. I can’t promise another 15.) Our list does not resemble the one you will find in Cosmo orLadies’ Home Journal. We have never had a regular date night, nor do we prioritize “communication” or play sex games or see a therapist. He doesn’t bring me flowers every Thursday, I don’t cook his favorite food very often. But we do have some other ideas.

1. Go to bed mad.


The old maxim that you shouldn’t go to bed mad is stupid. Sometimes you need to just go to freakin’ bed. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” is prefaced in the Bible by the phrase “Be angry and sin not.” So, who’s to say it doesn’t mean “Stay angry, bitches. Don’t let the sun go down on that awesome fierce wrath of yours.” Seriously. Whoever interpreted this to mean that you should stay up after midnight, tear-stained and petulant, trying to iron out some kind of overtired and breathy accord -- was stupid. Shut up, go to bed, let your husband get some sleep. In the morning, eat some pancakes. Everything will seem better, I swear.

2. Laugh if you can.


In any fight, there is one person who is really mad, and one person who isn’t that mad. That person should deflect the fight. Make a joke, do something stupid or corny, make the other person laugh. If the fight is very serious for you and you feel like you really want to plant your flag and die on this hill, fine. Do it. But if you’re fighting for entertainment, or because you’re just reacting, then you be the one to deflect. Fights are bad. Deflecting a fight whenever possible is a good idea. When you’re the one who’s being pissy and raw, and the other person helps you get out of it and brings about peace, that feels fantastic. This was a hard lesson to learn, for me. Letting Dan deflect a fight is the best thing, now. He does it really well.

3. Don’t criticize. Ever.


Here is a fact: Whatever critical thing that you are about to say to your wife is already being loudly articulated in her head. And if it’s true, she already feels like crap about it. Assuming you married someone intelligent enough to like you and sane enough to let you put a ring on it, trust that they are self-aware enough to know when they screwed up. It may feel good to you in that moment to say the critical thing, let it go ringing through the air in all its sonorous correctness, but it will feel awful to hear it. The only, only way it’s beneficial to give your wife criticism of any kind is if you’re absolutely positive she is completely unaware. And you better find the nicest, kindest way possible to tell her. And even then, good luck convincing her. Their recognition of the thing you are helpfully trying to point out will be INHIBITED, not facilitated, by your criticism. And then you’re the asshole. So be careful.

4. Be the mirror.


Your husband is the mirror in which you see yourself. And the things you say to him give him an image of himself too, which he will believe. You want him to believe it, so make it good. Be a mirror that reflects something positive: you’re smart, you’re successful, you’re fantastic in the sack, you’re a great provider, you’re the best. Can you MAKE him any of these things just by telling him he is? I don’t know, but consider this: the alternative really sucks. The things my husband says to me are 1000 times more convincing than anyone else’s opinion on earth. Don’t think he won’t believe you because you’re married and you’re contractually obligated to say nice things. He’ll believe the shitty, insulting things you say, and the gloriously positive things. Listen to Nico, girls:

5. Be proud and brag.


Let your spouse hear you talking about them in glowing terms to other people. Be foolish. Be obvious. It will mean everything. You will stay married forever.

6. Do your own thing.


Dan races bicycles. I write books. I don’t race bicycles or have any desire to race bicycles. He doesn’t write books, nor does he even read the books that I write. Seriously. And I don’t care. My opinion is that he’s the fastest, coolest most awesome bike racer ever. His opinion is that I’m the bestest, coolest writer ever. We don’t have to know all about cycling or writing in order to form these opinions -- in fact knowledge of literature or actually reading my book might damage Dan’s opinion of me as “best writer since the dawn of time.” We can still support each other without being all up in the other person’s stuff. Doing your own thing, having your own friends, being completely insanely passionate about something that the other person has no idea, really, about, is awesome. It allows your spouse to be your cheerleader, uncomplicated by knowledge or personal investment. And it means you’ll always have stuff to talk about, because you’re not overlapping all the time. You don’t have to read the same books either. You don’t have to have the same friends.

7. Have kids.


Kids stop you from being as crazy as you want to be. Because when you have kids, you can’t be that crazy.

8. Get really good at sex.


You’ve got all the time in the world to get really really good, not just at sex in general, but at having sex with your one particular husband. You should make it your life’s mission to become the perfect sex machine exactly for him. And he for you. There is no reason to hold back, or be embarrassed, or not ask questions, and get everything working properly. There’s absolutely no excuse for letting years drag on without becoming fully skilled, gifted sex partners for each other. It makes everything so much better. Does talking about this make you uncomfortable? How uncomfortable would it make you to know that your spouse is secretly, silently “just okay” with your sexual performance? Yeah. You want to last fifteen years, remember? That’s a long time to be mildly happy.

9. Move.


Live in different houses. In different parts of the country. Travel. Make it so that you can look back and divide up your life into the years you spent in different cities, or different houses. If you’re feeling stuck geographically or physically, you can confuse yourself into thinking you’re stuck romantically. See your husband in different places, in different contexts, in different countries even. Try it. Take him to a mountaintop and give him another look. Pretty sexy. Take him to a new city and check out his profile. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to change personally, or let your wife change as a person. Don’t worry about “growing apart.” Be brave and evolve. Become completely different. Don’t gather moss. Stagnation is unattractive.

10. Stop thinking temporarily.


Marriage is not conditional. It is permanent. Your husband will be with you until you die. That is a given. It sounds obvious, but really making it a given is hard. You tend to think in “ifs” and “thens” even when you’ve publicly committed to forever. If he does this, I won’t tolerate it. If I do this, he’ll leave me. If I get fat. If I change jobs. If he says mean things. If he doesn’t pay more attention. It’s natural, especially in the beginning of your marriage, to keep those doubts in your head. But the sooner you can get go of the idea that marriage is temporary, and will end if certain awful conditions are met, the sooner you will let go of all kinds of conflict and stress. Yes, you may find yourself in a horrible situation where it’s absolutely necessary to get a divorce. But going into it with divorce in the back of your mind, even in the way way way back of your mind, is going to cause a lot of unnecessary angst. Accept that you’re going to stay with him. He’s going to stay with you. Inhabit that and figure out how to make THAT work, instead of living with the “what if”s and “in case of”s.

11. Do not put yourself in trouble’s way.


Leave your ex boyfriends and girlfriends alone. I’m sure you’re very trustworthy. Aren’t we all? The thing is, there’s absolutely no reason to test it. Your husband and your marriage are more valuable than any friendship. Any friendship that troubles the marriage should be over immediately. Protect it with knives and teeth, not because it’s fragile but because it’s precious. Don’t ass around with a “hall pass” or a “harmless flirtation.” Adultery isn’t an event, it’s a process with an event at the end. Don’t put your feet on a path that could lead someplace bad.

12. Make a husband pact with your friends.


The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more. The husband pact is very useful because you want to be able to vent to your friend without having her actually start hating your husband. Because you don’t really mean all those things you say. And she, the swearer of the pact, knows this.

13. Bitch to his mother, not yours.


This is one I did read somewhere in a magazine, and it’s totally true. His mother will forgive him. Yours never will. If you’re a man, bitch to your friends. They expect it.

14. Be loyal.


All the crap you read in magazines about honesty, sense of humor, communication, sensitivity, date nights, couples weekends, blah blah blah can be trumped by one word: loyalty. You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team’s rules. This is okay. The team is not adversarial, the team does not tear its members down, the team does not sabotage the team’s success. Teammates work constantly to help and better their teammates. Loyalty means you put the other person in your marriage first all the time, and you let them put you first. Loyalty means subverting your whims or desires of the moment to better meet your spouse’s whims or desires, with the full understanding and expectation that they will be doing the same. This is the heart of everything, and it is a tricky balance. Sometimes it sways one way and some the other. Sometimes he gets to be crazy, sometimes it’s your turn. Sometimes she’s in the spotlight, sometimes you. Ups and downs, ultimately, don’t matter because the team endures.

15. Trust the person you married.


For two people who are trying to help each other, it can almost be harder to let the other person help you than it is to be the one who’s helping. It can be harder to let the other person deflect the fight than to be the one deflecting. It can be harder to believe that your husband is fully committed to a lifetime of marriage than to commit yourself. Harder to change yourself than to let the other person change. Harder to be loved than to love. Weird, but true. I’m saying this to everyone who’s newly married, and to myself: trust that person. Love them completely and let them love you. If it all goes to seed, it’s going to hurt either way. Better to have gone into it full throttle. Full throttle marriage is a thrilling ride.


Lydia Netzer’s original article, complete with pictures from her wedding day – very sweet.

Sleep tight, everyone.

pp x



Saturday, 13 April 2013

City Spotlight: London

It's very easy to read a guide book or surf the web for inspiration as to what to do in London, and I would wager that a large number of you (my UK readers, at least) have been several times, have friends or family there, or have even lived in the Big Smoke yourselves at one time or another. With that in mind, this is by no means a travel guide to London; it won't tell you anything about St Paul's or Buckingham Palace. This post simply consists of a few magpie recommendations for what to do and where to eat if you fancy a relaxed, fun and food-filled day trip in our fabulous capital.

Can you spy the London Eye..?

Food


Wherever you go in London, there are places to eat on or around every corner. Whilst the reliability of a good chain may be convenient, one the whole I prefer one-offs, for a little culinary magic...

Breakfast: Le Pain Quotidien (various London locations, but I like the one on the South Bank, near Waterloo) - OK, so I've started with a chain, but you won't find one outside of London within the UK. Delicious continental offerings, not only for breakfast, but for my money, their breads and pastries are what they do best. Served with delicious praline spreads and fruit conserves. Personal favourite: the organic hazelnut flute, spread with Brunette.

Lunch: Mildreds (Soho) - I mentioned this little vegetarian restaurant early on in my blogging days, when I had just discovered it. I'm not a vegetarian, but I am a fan of vegetarian food. The atmosphere in Mildreds is great, and the food fresh and delicious. Obviously no good if you have a confirmed carnivore (i.e. most men!) in toe, but great for a healthy, organic lunch or dinner from a restaurant that supports local independent suppliers.


Tea & Cake: Paul (Another chain, but again, exclusive to London within the UK. We usually visit the branch in Covent Garden) - Order the Café Surprise. Order it every time, without hesitation or deliberation.

Don't mind if I do...


Dinner: The Cookbook Café @ The Intercontinental (Hyde Park) - 'Cookbook Cafe offers upscale market table fare that champions British seasonal and sustainable ingredients in an interactive culinary experience...' [Source: restaurant's own website] The food here is just delicious, and the staff are warm and attentive without making a nuisance of themselves. Worth looking out for on toptable, as their set menus and discount offers are often very generous.


Activities


My favourite things to do in any city are shopping (obviously!), visiting museums and going to the theatre (all interspersed with eating, of course - as above!). All three in one day makes for a perfect, if potentially expensive excursion, however, most exhibits within the big museums are free, you can haggle for a bargain at the markets and look out for last minute deals on theatre tickets.

Spot of shopping: Portobello Market (Notting Hill) - For clothes, I invariably head to Regent Street, but for fun, it has to be one of London's many markets. Covent Garden, Spitalfields, Camden, Greenwich, Portobello. To do these wonderful treasure troves justice, you need at least a couple of hours and some cash in your pocket. Just my cup of tea: wandering the streets of Notting Hill, scouring the stalls and windows for I know not what.


An abundance of vintage treasures.

A riot of glorious technicolour.

Culture vulture: The V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) (South Kensington) - Any of the big four museums (British, Science, Natural History, V&A) is a great place to spend a day in London, and I love them all, but we have most recently visited the V&A. The building itself is astonishingly beautiful, inside and out. Take the weight off your feet after all that walking and soak up the atmosphere in the stunning café, and no museum trip would be complete without the obligatory visit to the gift shop! On our most recent visit, we saw a stunning exhibition of contemporary photography, Light from the Middle East, which you can find details and a video of here, even though it's no longer running. Well worth a look, along with the current David Bowie exhibition.

Troika's clockwork V&A sign.

A few highlights... Chihuly's Rotunda chandelier in the entrance hall; Fashion through the ages; Stained glass.

Catch a show: The National Theatre (South Bank) - I have yet to see an even mildly disappointing production at The National. You can guarantee that, irrespective of your taste in drama, you will always be impressed by the quality of the acting and the production. The auditorium is a great space, and you can often spot a famous face or two amongst the audience. I must acknowledge though, that much as I love drama, I also love the West End for musicals. Having said that, there are musicals and there are musicals... Musical of choice currently running (go and see it ASAP!): Book of Mormon. Avoid at all costs: Spamalot (truly dreadful; a heinous crime against Monty Python in my humble opinion).

Oh, and if you find yourself anywhere around the Leicester Square/Charing Cross/Covent Garden area, look out for this little fella... You know how I love a good rabbit.

"Find me in the window of Alice Through the Looking Glass."

pp x

Magpie Make & Do ~ Tom Binns Inspired Jewel Bright Necklace

Even if you're not aware of it, you know Tom Binns. His statement pieces have bejeweled many an A lister, from Amanda Seyfried to Julia Roberts, and his designs are even favoured by the First Lady herself.

Michelle Obama, Julia Roberts, Rihanna. Source.

"Binns has been designing, manufacturing and distributing jewellery for over twenty-five years. Beginning his revolutionary career in 1981, his creative inspiration was and remains the early twentieth century Dada movement, amongst whose themes were deliberate irrationality, anarchy, and the rejection of standard beauty and social organisation." [Source: Designer's own website, www.tombinnsdesign.com]

Amanda Seyfried, Kate Beckinsale, Britney Spears.

Recently, Binns' jewellery has become increasingly colourful, juxtaposing clashing shades of neon brights and featuring intense metallic splashes across delicate pastels. You can peruse his latest collections here; be sure to admire the Gilded Pleaure collection. I did. In the past two years or so, we have seen these designs filtering down ever more readily and swiftly from the uppermost echelons of designer society and into the high street...


His inspiration is ubiquitous, visible not only in the jewellery counters, but also gracing the rails, where kaleidoscopic rhinestone embellishments abound. However, whilst some of the high street price tags are not to pinch your purse at, the higher end stores (J.Crew, for example) are still charging more than I would spend on a piece of statement jewellery, that I am frankly unlikely to to wear for more than a couple of seasons at most. Having said that, I do love the look, so I decided to take matters into my own hands, quite literally: rather than purchasing a high street imitation, I would create my own interpretation of a Binns necklace, one that was perhaps a little more classic and therefore easier to wear on a day to day basis...

Tom Binns Inspired Jewel Bright Necklace



Budget: Under £10
Time to allow: Approx. 2 hours, although this will depend on the number of rhinestones in your necklace
Difficulty rating: Relatively straightforward, provided you have patience and a steady hand!
Materials required: A rhinestone necklace/s, one with clear or at least pale stones would be preferable in case you are using light/translucent varnishes, though mine was in fact dark purple and coverage wasn't an issue.

1) I bid for and won this necklace on eBay for £9.99. I had thought I would find one for around about the £5 mark, but I was impatient to get cracking so I settled on spending more to secure an item I liked the look of that was ending soon! I have no doubt that you could find things online/in charity shops more cheaply than this.


2) Clean the surface of your necklace. Ordinarily, I would recommend nail varnish remover, but I was concerned that might affect the finish on the stones, so I just used a (barely) damp cloth and left it to air dry for five minutes.

3) Choose your nail varnish colours and decide on any pattern you might like to follow when painting your stones. For the purpose of simplicity, in terms of both method and end product, I stuck to plain straight runs of colour, but with a more intricately designed necklace, I think a geometric pattern would work really well. I chose a combination of bright and pastel shades, but I'm still considering adding some gold accents...


4) Paint each stone carefully. Don't worry about painting over the claws, as the Tom Binns pieces themselves have these covered. I used two coats of varnish on each stone (apart from my mint Essie colour, which I only ended up using one coat of since the coverage was perfect), ensuring each layer was dry before applying the next. I decided against applying a third layer in case the varnish became too thick and obscured the facets of the stones - you still want to see the shape of them. It might be worthwhile having some good music/a film on in the background - this is rather time consuming!

One coat.

Two coats.
5) Finish with a coat of top coat to seal in your colours and prevent chipping.

6) Leave to dry for 24 hours before first use - enjoy!





I will try to post a better picture than this of the end result being worn - sorry, the light was not good and I find self portraits tricky enough at the best of times! I hope it gives you an idea at least...

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. More to come from the little magpie tomorrow and on Sunday, so do drop by!

pp x

Monday, 8 April 2013

Sunday Smörgåsbord

A concise selection this week, as most of my holiday highlights merit a whole post in their own right, so these images are just a taster! Coming soon... City Spotlights: posts on various wonderful British towns and recommendations for things to do/places to eat etc. during your visit, starting with London, Cambridge and Bristol.


From top to bottom, left to right:

1. We've had a lovely time this afternoon and evening, enjoying delicious food (at Branca in Jericho, Oxford) and the wonderful company of our wedding photographers (Ria Mishaal Photography), who have since become great friends. We were so excited to collect our signing board and wedding album from them, which are just so beautiful, we are thrilled! More info on these another time...

2. L'Oréal Color Riche in 'Ingenuous Rose'. Love the shade, love the name! If you are searching for it, some sites (including L'Oréal's own!) have mistyped it as 'ingenious'. My bottle says ingenuous, which makes far more sense when referring to a rose. Dream job: brainstorming nail varnish names for a living.

3. Bringing a little sunshine into our living room with this whimsical new Topsy Yellow Elephant Cushion by Habitat @ Homebase.

4. A sneak preview of my DIY Tom Binns inspired necklace!

5. Notting Hill. We really ought to play the Lottery...

6. Hubby's endearing first attempt at a pancake on the new Andrew James Crêpe Maker my parents bought him for his birthday. In spite of a valiant attempt to contain my giggles, I failed miserably and laughed in his face. We got the hang of it though, and consequently gorged ourselves on delicious pancakes full of strawberries and banana with lashings of Nutella!

Have a delightful week, everyone et faites de beaux rêves.

pp x


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Magpie Make & Do ~ DIY Decorative Mason Jars

Hello, sunshine! What a beautiful spring day we've enjoyed today, at long last - the perfect inspiration to share my latest new feature with you all...

I'll be posting a series of tutorials on various things you can make and do at home on a budget; some for as little as £10.

The first of these tutorials is for decorative mason jars. These are so pretty in their simplicity and provide an attractive means of storing trinkets/knickknacks/stationery, a shabby chic alternative to vases for floral arrangements, or simply look great as ornaments in their own right. They are also popular for creating table centrepieces at weddings and other celebrations.




Just follow these simple instructions to create your own...

Distressed, Hand-painted Mason Jars



Budget: under £10 for three jars
Time to allow: approx. 1 hour for three jars (including drying time)
Difficulty rating: supremely easy - no skill required!
Materials required: mason jars, paints, a sponge, a fine emery board (nail file) or very fine grain sandpaper

Before I start, I should say that you could follow this project using any size or shape of glass jar, in fact, I think an assortment of different jars - which, if you're anything like me, you already have stashed away in a cupboard somewhere - would look great painted in this way. It would also make the project even cheaper!

My inspiration for these came from BeachBlues on Etsy. I love all her different colour schemes, and think the contrasting inside/outside jars are a great idea too (maybe next time...). The Kerr jars you'll see she has used are not easy or economical to find here in the UK, so I settled for Kilner jars, the British alternative, which are very similar. I used the 1L jars, which are widely available and can be purchased cheaply from Hobbycraft, Wilkinson'sAmazon and the like. I bought mine from Hobbycraft, where I paid £7.99 for three jars. I loved the first three so much in fact that I decided to buy three more!

The paints I used were all little tester pots, which can be bought very cheaply from any homeware store. Wilkinson's are currently selling three for £1, so I lucked out there... I picked up a free Farrow and Ball colour chart from Homebase, as I am a big fan of their muted shades, and played about with the colours I wanted to use. Once I'd chosen my shades, I set about finding cheaper brands of paint (Farrow & Ball tester pots are £3.99 each - eek!) that matched the F&B colours most closely. I did resort to mixing paint to achieve two of my colours, but this was simple enough to do. I tested all my colours on a spare glass bottle before I started, just to check how long they would take to dry, and also to see the result of the colour on the glass.



Right, on to the instructions:

1. Ensure your jars are clean and dry. Rubbing over them with a clean tea towel should suffice.

2. Use a sponge to apply your first layer of paint. I swept down the jar in straight lines for this layer, to give underlying texture to the final finish of the paint. I left out the top of the jar, so that I could hold it securely, and the bottom, so that I could stand it upright to dry. Repeat for all your jars in each colour you have chosen.

After one coat of paint.
3. Leave to dry for 15 minutes.

4. Paint the second layer, this time dabbing with the sponge to leave a more even finish. This time, I painted the top and bottom, turning the jar upside down to dry. I didn't want two layers of paint on the top of the jar, in case this affected the thread so that the lids would go on, and I didn't think two layers necessary on the bottom.
Second coat (different colour to the previous image).
5. Leave to dry for at least 30 minutes this time. I ended up leaving mine overnight.

6. If you prefer a perfect, solid finish, then at this point you are all done! For the distressed look, use your nail file/sandpaper to slough off small areas of paint. NB Ensure the paint is completely dry before you undertake this, or you may take off rather more than intended.

7. Find a home for your latest objets d'art and enjoy!

(8. If you wanted to, you could paint the lids as well. I've chosen not to do that at this point, but may spray them gold/silver at a later date - I'll update the post if I do.)


If you wanted to seal the paint and have a glossier rather than a matt finish, you could carefully paint them with a thin layer of PVA glue. I prefer the matt finish, so I will leave mine as they are. Obviously this means they are not waterproof, so take care if you intend to use them as vases. The good thing about the paint washing off though, is that if you tire of your colour scheme, you can simply repaint them any time you fancy. The paint washes off easily with soap and water.

Let me know what you think. I hope some of you will have a go at these yourselves - they are so easy to create and the end result is very effective. I think they would make a lovely homemade gift, especially if you filled them with little treats, like flowers and chocolates.

I would really welcome and appreciate any feedback on this new DIY series! Look out in the next few days for: a cheap and easy Tom Binns inspired necklace, beautifully simple floral corsages & buttonholes and a showstopping ombre cake...

ttfn, pp x

Bookworm

I love to read. Sadly, I find very little time or energy to read during term time and rely on the holidays to catch up. This holiday, I finally made time for Khaled Hosseini's masterpieces, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

               


These books certainly merit all the hype that surrounds them. They are beautifully written, and conjure such striking images of the Middle East and its most vulnerable and disenfranchised people during times of war, that they will stay with me forever. They are incredibly emotive, shocking and thought-provoking, so that reading them is utterly compelling. If you are book shy, don't be put off by the content, they are not heavy going in the slightest - I raced through them - and ultimately, these desperately sad stories are uplifting and life-affirming.

My only criticism, and it's a small one since it doesn't detract from the power of the stories or the quality of the writing, is that these two books appear somewhat formulaic in their structure, so that you have a sense of déja vu as the tales unfold. This is, however, understandable considering their common settings and themes, and didn't in any way diminish my enjoyment of them.

I appreciate that these are not new releases, and that I am embarrassingly behind the times having only just read them myself, but I urge you to do the same if you haven't already, especially since Hosseini has recently published his third novel, And the Mountains Echoed.

Happy reading, and please post a comment with any of your recommended reads/thoughts on these books below!

pp x

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lust List ~ April, 2013

*New monthly feature!* Five current loves that I've been admiring...

Anthropologie - Jardim Lace Dress
I've tried this on. It is perfect in every way.


Oliver Bonas - Velvet Love Tub
Fabulous in any colour!

cakedecoratingsupplies.co.uk - Pink Milk Glass Cake Stand
I did in fact buy a pink cake stand this week, just not this beautiful expensive one.

Dune - Totton Over The Knee Riding Boot
I know it's hardly the season to be buying boots,
but my brown knee highs are on their last legs...

redbubble.com - "rabbit" by Alice Prior
Love pink. Love bunnies. Love this print.

Speaking of bunnies... Do check out my Bunny Love treasury over on Etsy for an overload of rabbity loveliness. I hope you are all enjoying suitably lovely weekends!

pp x

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Magpie Must Haves: Carry On Packing

Holiday essentials when travelling light

The idea of going away for a week with only one piece of carry on luggage strikes fear into the hearts of many women. It is a breeze for some, whilst proving to be a logistical nightmare for others: What if it's cold in the evening? Which of these four new dresses should I take?! I cannot possibly choose between my three pairs of Havaianas - I'll have to take them all!

Here are my tips for travelling light. Follow these five simple steps and you will breeze past baggage reclaim, safe in the knowledge that you've saved yourself precious holiday time and stress, and still have the perfect capsule collection of clothing to cover every eventuality...

1 Order, order! 

When packing light, it's essential you have a vague idea of how you might create ensembles from the collection of clothes you'll be taking before you start cramming them into your case. Lay them out so that you can see what exactly you have to play with.

2 Colour me coordinated. 

Try to work around a vague colour scheme. I find navy and white work perfectly as foundation colours for a holiday wardrobe because they look great with a tan and look so beautiful against bold colours. Having coordinated basics will allow you to embellish with holiday brights (e.g. coral, yellow, hot pink) with ease. Good alternative staple colours are black (obviously!) and beige.

3 Love light layers.

Even in reliably hot countries, you may find yourself chilly of an evening having spent all day in the sun, or you may need to cover up in order to be culturally respectful in some destinations. Even if you hope very much not to need them, in my book it's always better safe than sorry.

4 Accessorize!

Take advantage of smaller items such as pashminas, belts and hair accessories that will inject outfits with colour and style. These are light to pack and easy to mix and match.

5 Under where?

This may sound like a no-brainer, but a) don't forget to pack some and b) consider your underwear carefully, don't just ram indiscriminate handfuls down the sides of your case at the last minute. Do you need to take a strapless bra, for example? NB Nobody wants to see your wash day grey granny pants through your white linen trousers!

Packing for six days in Portugal 

We knew the weather would be unpredictable, so I took more jumpers than would ordinarily be necessary, otherwise, I think this was just right! Everything listed and photographed below, along with my underwear, make up and toiletries, fit into my carry on case (dimensions: 56 x 40 x 25 cm) - universally accepted as cabin luggage.



Bottoms

1 pair jeans (wore travelling)

1 pair navy leggings

1 pair long beige shorts

1 pair navy/white striped shorts

Tops

3 vest tops - 2 white, 1 coral

2 pretty tops for evening wear – 1 navy sequinned vest, 1 button-backed embroidered blouse (not pictured*)

Jumpers

3 light jumpers for layering (wore one travelling) - navy, mint, red
Cover-ups

3 cardigans/shrugs - white, ivory, coral

1 light denim jacket

Dresses

2 day dresses – 1 sleeveless multicoloured, 1 Breton tunic (not pictured*)

1 special occasion dress - multicoloured in shades of red, fawn, nude and ivory

Accessories

2 pashminas/lightweight scarves - 1 pink/purple, 1 bright blue

2 belts - 1 brown leather, 1 patent canary yellow

1 canvas bag for beach - navy detail

1 small handbag - navy leather

Shoes

1 pair nude pumps (wore travelling)

3 pairs of flip flops - brown leather, gold plaited seagrass, coral Havaianas

1 pair of heels, if required (I didn’t pack any this time)
 Swimwear

1 red floral bikini

1 navy/white striped swimming costume

* not pictured, as they were taking a last minute tumble in the dryer!

  


I hope this post may prove useful to some readers, and wish you all safe travels and happy holidays!

pp x

Monday, 1 April 2013

Easter Monday Montage

Hoping you've all had a wonderful long weekend and a very Happy Easter!


1 Too right! I just love the Wild & Wolf Mr Men and Little Miss mugs. We also have Mr Happy and Little Miss Sunshine, but I think this one best reflects my persona...

2 Rimmel Lasting Finish in 'Hot Shot'

3 Just before curtain up at Book of Mormon - such an incredible show! NB Not at all suitable for anyone easily offended by foul language or sensitive to politically incorrect material.

4 Southbank, ever-twinkling through the haze.

5 Beautiful view through a beautiful window, in the home of a beautiful friend. One of those perfect long afternoons spent drinking tea and putting the world to rights.

6 Super tasty and virtuously healthy salad for dinner - spinach, rocket, watercress, chicory, tomato, avocado, beetroot, basil, mozzarella and walnuts.

7 Work attire of the week - can you tell I'm going through a pink/purple phase..?

8 Approaching the Algarve...

9 Beautiful. Shame about the clouds!

10 Fernando's - serves the best steak and red wine in the Algarve!

11 Beautiful Art Deco glassware.

12 Beer. Book. Bliss.

13 & 14 TK Maxx score - Jane Shilton handbag at a bargain price!

15 My two and a half year old niece's Easter haul!

pp x