Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ta Da! (Part 1)...

Hey Everyone...

Oooh it's almost the end of the week! I can't wait, tomorrow night is a night out with work and then Saturday is my FIRST EVER craft fair! I have spent the evening baking lots of yummy goodies to sell alongside my homemade gifts!

Anyway, now that I can sit and relax, I wanted to show you part one of a TA DA moment!

Remember this old wicker chair we picked up from a lovely freecycler?...


Well after cutting off the dusty old wicker, a good coat of lovely white paint, and some pretty fabric later, we have this rather beautiful chair...


Perfect to go in our little office corner of the lounge...


Soon to be joined hopefully by a beautifully decorated bureau (part two of the ta da!)...


We need to drill holes for the door knobs and give it a second coat and the bureau will be ready for this lovely chair. I think I am going to feel very regal sitting in our little office from now on!

I will hopefully show you part two very soon!

Jewel x

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New Clothes...

Hey Everyone...

I don't know about you, but boy am I glad we're over the hump of the week! I am really looking forward to my first craft fair on Saturday, but the nerves are really start to kick in! I am still waiting for some last minute supplies to turn up, and if they don't I will be down on a lot of stock, so please keep your fingers crossed the postman delivers.

Remember how I said I had a lovely day shopping with my mum on Sunday? We'll I thought I'd show you some naughty purchases for my autumn wardrobe...

Nicely fitted black pencil skirt - H&M £7.99

The picture really doesn't do this fantastic skirt justice! It's a lovely soft, stretchy material, with a thick lining. It sits just below my knees, even when worn slightly high waisted, which is perfect for work. I had two 'oooo you look lovely comments' within 5 minutes of walking in, which was a lovely confidence boost. I have already worn it twice this week and think it might become a firm favourite over the coming months...

Bright red fitted dress - £12.99
Again the picture doesn't capture the vibrant red of this lovely fitted dress. The panels made by the stitching are extremely flattering and the flair of the skirt is beautiful. I am going to attempt to wear this to work on Friday, with a top underneath and tights, which hopefully will look ok (I have to be demure at work!) but as we're going out for a leaving do straight after work I wanted to wear something a little special!

I have another pretty new dress to show you soon too, but I can't just yet! These lovely pieces are all hanging on my door and the lovely autumnal colours are making me feel very happy! Now I just need some excuses to wear them! I hope you like them!

Jewel x

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cakey Bakey Time...

Hey Everyone,

I hope you all had a lovely weekend (yes I know I am a day behind, but I still feel like I am a day behind on everything at the moment).

After my little bit of relaxation on Saturday, Sunday was busy again. 

But nice busy, I spent the day with my mum, going shopping, popping in on a wedding fair and having lunch together - which was lovely.

However, I couldn't laze about all day. I had to quickly head back to make a start on this...

Mmmmm Chocolate

A Brooklyn Blackout Cake a la The Hummingbird Bakery, for a party at work.

Sponge number 1 of 3
Unfortunately, not a happy party! One of the lovely OTs at work is leaving, Friday is her last day, and worst of all, she doesn't want to go, but is on rotation and not allowed to stay!

Chocolate custard filling and topping
So we had a lovely tea party to celebrate yesterday (as most of the team are around on a Monday) full of lovely food made by everyone!


At one point in making this cake, I panicked! After adding cornflower to the custard it went all lumpy. I thought it was ruined and was about to throw it away, but after lots of whisking and adding the butter it finally went smooth...

Sponge 1 & 2 layered together with custard


The finished 3 tier cake!
I also tried some of the custard and was worried it was too bitter...

Topped with some extra cake crumbs!

Luckily when eaten with the cake it was just right, and I had lots of lovely compliments!

Full of sugar and other bad things - but yummy!
Oooo I do love baking! Such satisfaction! Luckily really, as I have some important baking to do later this week in preparation for my first craft fair this Saturday in Highgate North London!


It would be great if you could make it!

Right I'm off to have dinner and relax before Great British Bake Off! 

Jewel x

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bits & Bobs...

Hey Everyone...

Well you'll be glad to hear I finally stopped and REEELAXXXED! Yesterday, I had my first lie in in ages! The fiance and I had a lovely relaxed morning. Of course, Saturday meant a few chores, shopping, cleaning etc, but I also got to have some fun too! 

I am still trying to relax now, so I am just posting a quick blog of bits and bobs that don't fit anywhere else...

Quick & easy pear crumble - made with pears from the tree in our communal garden

My attempt at making a 'craft' area on my shelf - nice to see all my fabrics and granny squares piled up!

A pretty cake stand I have wanted for ages - found yesterday reduced at homebase!

Pear and apple jam (made from my pears and a work colleague's apples) - made yesterday - but it hasn't set!

A metal Moulin Rouge sign from the Toulouse Lautrec exhibition

I have a few more posts lined up that I will be posting over the next few days when I get a chance, but this week is going to be super busy preparing for my first ever craft fair, THIS SATURDAY 1st October at The Boogaloo pub in Highgate, North London!

It would be fantastic if you could make it along...


I also have a reason to celebrate! I have won my FIRST EVER giveaway! I am so excited! The lovely Bibbitybob ran a giveaway for some fantastic designing software and I have won a copy of the Mymemoriessuite! I can't wait to try it out!

Jewel x

Thursday, 22 September 2011

What A Week...

Hey Everyone...

It feels like forever since I've blogged! Mostly because I have always tried to blog everyday and I haven't blogged since... actually I don't know, and can't remember.

I promise I haven't just been neglecting you. The past week has been manic, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way!

Monday meant back to work as usual, but after a busy weekend, and a late night on Friday, I still hadn't caught up on my sleep. I wonder if I've told you that I am one of those annoying people, who needs at least 8 hours (ha - I wrote years by accident at first - shows I need sleep!) sleep every single evening to be able to function properly.

I stumbled through Monday at work, and then had a lovely evening out, meeting up with one of my bridesmaids - the gorgeous Sian, in town after work for dinner, a few drinks and to meet her lovely new boyfriend. I had such a fantastic night. It was a lovely break from the routine of coming home and collapsing, and was nice to feel like I really live in London and can be spontaneous.

Unfortunately, the next day I was paying for the enhanced lack of sleep and combination of week night alcohol. Boy was Tuesday hard. But then, being spontaneous again, the fiance and I went to The Everyman cinema in Hampstead (what I would call a boutique cinema - which has lovely food and a great atmosphere) to see 'I don't know how she does it'.

Ironic really, I felt entirely like the character (despite not yet having kids, and not being a high flyer at work - just a general dogsbody) and at one point when the character was ridiculed for having 'bouncy house' written on her hand, I looked down to see my to do list hastily scribbled on mine.

(By the way - it's a good film, not great! I assume the book was probably better!)

So after another glass of wine (but a reasonably early night) wednesday was bearable at work. But then, I had missed two whole evenings of craft making ready for the craft fair next Saturday 1st October (arrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh! Yes next Saturday, pooooo!)

So I came home from work and literally sewed until my fingers bled and my back ached - 8pm. Because at this time we were off out to meet the fiance's friends for a bon voyage dinner for one of his friends who is moving to Dubai.

Another late night last night, and this morning I was in tears (seriously, for me I am hugely sleep deprived!) I was dreading work, luckily, things are never quite as bad as I imagine, and I struggled through, getting most of my to do list done (I have noticed that more and more of my daily to do lists are being carried forward onto the next day - I can only imagine they will soon not fit on my clip board (Yes I have a clipboard (and yes I am using brackets inside brackets) ) and I will go into some sort of meltdown! See always imagine the worst).

Where was I? Oh yes, today wasn't too bad. But the reason I wanted to stop and cry and give up was that I realised that EVERYDAY.... I wake up...... start to think about what I have to do that day.... start doing them.... and don't physically or mentally stop until I go to sleep (this must be why I always fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow - if not before). Realising that I never stop, never relax, never take a break and ENJOY anything had me at the brink of a crying fest.

Tonight, I came home and continued with my crafting, but I took it a bit slower, mixed in some housework, but also stopped to read blogs (which I love, despite it feeling slightly like a chore sometimes because I hate to miss any), caught up on some missed TV and had a little bit of breathing space.

I still don't quite feel like I've stopped! But I have managed to write a blog...

Maybe tomorrow night I will get my break...

Jewel

P.S. I apologise if this is rambling and awful, but it was rather cathartic and it felt like the first time I have been able to express myself and how I really think sometimes...

P.P.S. Normal service will resume shortly.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Lovely Sunday...

Hey Everyone...

Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post. I am hoping it was just a but of a bad day. I am very tired and worn out from work, so I am hoping some extra sleep this week might make me feel a little better.

Anyway, I am trying to dwell on the positive and today was a lovely day. We were up early (after a disturbed night from a neighbour buzzing the door at 1am!) and straight into town to the beautiful Somerset House...


I had never been before, despite living in London and was eager to see the beautiful architecture! Annoyingly, London Fashion Week had taken over the courtyard, blocking the view of the stunning building...


*Sigh* But the interior more than made up for the blocked view...



There were such beautiful colour schemes - I am inspired for decorating our next home (when/if we move) and wish I could redecorate now - but I really need a more period property with pretty picture rails!

There were lots of lovely things to see...

Beautiful Silverware

So Shiny - I'm a Magpie

A slightly better view of the courtyard from up high

A beautiful Monet painting - my favourite

The stunning stairwell

The beautiful architecture

All of this was an added pleasure on top of what we had got up early to see...


The Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition - Beyond the Moulin Rouge. You may not know that I am slightly obsessed with the Moulin Rouge. I saw the film back in 2000 and since then have fallen in love with all that surrounds in. For my 21st birthday (too long ago) my lovely fiance (then boyfriend) took me to the actual Moulin Rouge! Not just to see it! INSIDE to see a show and have dinner. It was a once in a lifetime experience and probably one of the highlights of my life.


This exhibition focused on one of Toulouse-Lautrev's favourite subjects, one of the Moulin Rouge dancers - Jane Avril. In that sense I was slightly disappointed, as I love the classic Toulouse-Lautrec posters and to see beautiful old photographs of the Moulin Rouge itself, but this exhibition had very few and focused heavily on painted portraits of the dancer.


There were however, these two iconic images (above and below) of the beautiful venue. Above pictures the fantastic giant elephant, depicted in the film. Unfortunately, it is no longer there! Believe me, I checked! I walked all around the inside and outside of the Moulin Rouge searching for any trace - it is long gone much to my despair.

However, the iconic windmill pictured below is still standing (I am not sure if it is the original however!) and the two buildings enclosing the Moulin Rouge still appear similarly today!



The photographs are not unknown to me, but this red printed advertisement for the Moulin Rouge was a new delight. I was hoping for a postcard in the gift shop but alas, they were only of the beloved Avril.


The associated artifacts, articles, poems and illustrations captured my attention. All of these so intricate and fascinating - I wish I was able to read French...


I really love this miniature illustration of the Moulin Rouge in this book of poems...


Of Jane Avril - one poster stood out - in fact this is incorrect - this picture was Toulouse-Lautrec's last portrayal of the dancer and was never made into a poster, due to the artist's death...


This was the only image of the dancer that I would say I found beautiful or attractive (which is strange considering many of the images were meant to entice men into visiting her at the Moulin Rouge). This is her leaving the Moulin Rouge. I love the captured emotion of sadness, almost despair and desolate, a real taste of how the poor women of the Moulin Rouge may have often felt...


After enjoying the exhibition and the full collection which included some stunning and very infamous pieces, including Monet, Cezanne, Seurat, Picasso and more, we stopped at the lovely courtyard cafe for a piece of cake...


When the sun shone it was lovely to sit in this secluded spot. Despite the poor service the cake and tea was lovely...




The fiance being snap happy!

What a lovely day you might say! Well it didn't stop there! We rushed back to our native East Finchley to see a collection of old films called 'Made In Barnet'. They were accompanied by a lovely talk on how the film industry really actually began in and around East Finchley in the borough of Barnet. It was all screened in the fabulous old cinema - The Phoenix, which has been around almost since the start of film in the late 1800's.




If you are ever in North London, please visit this beautiful cinema which has survived 100 years and been beautifully restored and modernised! Watching the films, and the final film documenting the history of The Phoenix made me cry to see how such a beautiful treasure has been looked after over the years by our community!

Anyway I am so sorry, I have rambled on and I praise you if you have reached the end. I hope you might have enjoyed it!

Jewel x

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Retail Therapy...

Hey Everyone...

Well boy was that needed...

This week has been awfully stressful and busy. Mostly with work, but trying to fit in 'after work' activities have tired me out more than I thought. Last night was a gig in London that was very important to the fiance, but I was so dead on my feet that I was literally falling asleep stood in the 'mosh pit'. I had to go and sit at the back, waking up with a start when a song became particularly loud. Home past midnight and up at 9am, but for a good reason...

Today my mum and I went shopping in London looking for some accessories for her outfit for our wedding. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a suitable fascinator (out of season me thinks) but we had a lovely time chatting and shopping! I love a bit of retail therapy! I bought a few bits and pieces that have made me feel all warm and happy...

Knitted Headband from Forever 21

Cameo Earrings from Forever 21

Over The Knee Frilly Socks from Forever 21

Rose Print Tights from M&S (bought for me by my lovely mum!)

Earl & Greenly 'Home Sweet Home' Mug - free from House of Fraser with a voucher!

Such a lovely design!

Dusky Pink Wool for my next project from John Lewis Haberdashery

Buttons from John Lewis Haberdashery for the craft fair

I was so excited to see that a Forever 21 store had opened on Oxford Street. I visited the huge store a while back in Birmingham and have been a fan since. Despite the London store being tiny in comparison, it was full of lovely clothes and accessories, I could have spent a huge amount of money. Instead I limited myself to some lovely knitted goodies for the Autumn days.

I also picked up the lovely mug from House of Fraser after ordering it with a free £5 voucher they emailed me. I had never heard of Earl & Greenly but am now lusting after more of their mugs...

Stitch In Time Mug

Beach Huts Mug

The whole day was lovely (despite having to dodge the rain with a carrier bag on my head! Remember, it always rains in England!) except for when we were browsing in House of Fraser...

I suddenly saw the bridal area, where a bride was trying on a dress. The room was beautiful with big ornate mirrors, and all her family sat around oooing and ahhhhing from lovely vintage style chairs. I suddenly felt very sad and almost started to cry. I had a huge pang of longing for such a lovely moment.

After that I felt really down and out of sorts. Looking in the mirror I suddenly felt old, ugly and blotchy. I even almost fell down the escalator I was so out of sorts. I am not sure what came over me.

Anyway, I was planning on sewing some more bits and pieces for the craft fair this evening, but after a busy day, two glasses of wine (and lots of retyping in writing this post due to said glasses of wine) I am not confident in my hand sewing skills.

So my lovely ladies (& men?) goodnight!

Jewel x