Month: January 2015

It’s only Lush but I like it…

There are a few things helping to keep me warm this Winter. To be honest I need all the help I can get, having spent the last 2 years in the desert my tolerance to the cold has all but disappeared. My new commute doesn’t help – it’s the first time I’ve had to use buses and I’m finding they don’t run to time in the same way trains do…

This fella keeps me company most nights, I requested a hot water bottle from Dr P before I came home last Christmas and this was his choice. He’s just as adorable in real life as he looks here and I never get tired of announcing that I’m taking a soldier to bed 😉

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The thing I really wanted to share was this delicious shower gel from Lush. I’ve been a devotee of theirs since way back in the Cosmetics To Go days and I’m consistently impressed but their products. The Dr knows I am a fan so he bought me 2 of their lovely Christmas gifts. If you’re not familiar, they put groups of products together and wrap them beautifully. I love receiving them and they’re fab for Secret Santa gifts!

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I had heard of the Hot Toddy shower gel, but never tried it. On my first use I was smitten. For our transatlantic cousins, a hot toddy is a warm alcoholic drink. It often contains hot water, whiskey, sugar, spices and other ingredients. It’s is supposed to relieve the symptoms of a cold and I think it would certainly make me feel better given that just the shower gel has a lovely warming effect on me! I remember my Dad talking about a drink his family made in the winter, which involved heating the beverage up with a hot poker from the fire. I don’t know if this was a Hot Toddy but I like to think so.

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It’s a deep red colour with flecks of gold glitter. It’s has a delicious, warming, spicy smell with citrus notes. The ingredients include ginger, cinnamon, cloves and lemon and they are all present. It’s creates a beautiful lather and I can feel it warming my Winter-weary bones even as I step outside the door. I am truly grateful Lush, this desert dwelling girl is making her way towards spring with a smile.

It is with a warm tingle I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

*This was my own vintage adventure and I (well, Dr P!) paid for all these products*

It’s only a Wet Set but I like it…

As mentioned earlier, I had a go at a wet set last weekend and I need to update you!

This was one of my targets for the new year – to find some new things to do with my hair. After a quick search of the blogosphere I found some great advice from Tasha at http://bygumbygolly.com and from http://www.retrochick.co.uk/category/hair-beauty/.

I had nipped into Boots and Superdrug whilst in town and grabbed the equipment and products these ladies recommended.

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I bought perm rods and and sponge rollers from Boots, along with a new Kent hairbrush (time to treat myself now I have a newsworthy barnet to work with!) and some of their Curl Creme – this has some great reviews all over the net and it was super cheap! I also got a can of Tressemme Freeze Hold hair spray.

I wanted some StaySet setting lotion but Superdrug were all out, so I bought their own brand setting lotion instead.

I started by washing my hair and letting it dry a little before beginning with the rollers.

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I found it quite hard to roll and make the rolls ‘snug’. Not sure what I’m doing wrong!

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I divided each section, rubbed some setting lotion through it and then rolled it. I did Tasha’s trick of rotating the horizontal bar of each roller to avoid dents at the top of my curls.

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I rolled each section, put a wide, elastic hairband over it and settled down for the night. Now I have heard some people find it really hard to sleep in rollers. I can’t say it was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, I was aware of the rollers at several points in the night. By the time I woke up, the headband had disappeared and so had the roller at the front! I don’t know if it just came undone or I tore it out at some point! These are genuine just-woke-up photo – the things I do for you!

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I removed the rollers with huge excitement – to reveal super curly hair!

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I then brushed just the top part of my hair, until I met the resistance of the curls, to get that flat top, leading to curls 1940s look. This was another Tasha tip! I managed to make that bit of hair that was sans roller come the dawn, into a nice smooth wave across my forehead and secured it with some Tresemme hairspray. I smoothed some Curl Creme on the curls and separated them little with my fingers. A couple of Kirby grips behind one ear kept them where I wanted them. The Curl Creme was fab, giving them shape and a glossy finish without any crunch or stickiness. Definite winner there!

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Overall, I was quite happy with the look. There were a few curls that were too curly, I need to decide on a tightness when I’m rolling. I also think I needed to roll with the hair on an angle? I’m not sure. I’m going to have a look at some video tutorials and see if that makes it clearer. I kept the curls for a few days and it was fun to have a different look.

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It is with a curly ‘do I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Bourbon Spread but I like it…

I first spotted the why-has-no-one-thought-of-this-before phenomenon that is Bourbon Biscuit Spread over at Nikki McWilliams (http://www.nikkimcwilliams.com/blog/) blog. If you’re not familiar with Nikki’s biscuity goodness then get over there pronto, because I guarantee you will fall in love!

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Loving all things biscuit related I was dying to get my mitts on a jar. My sister ( mrsjmp.wordpress.com ) kindly added a jar to my Christmas gifts (OK, OK I may have heavily hinted – or just outright told her to buy it!) and I had been waiting for an excuse to try it out.

Last weekend MrsJMP and my soon-to-be sister-in-law Elin came to stay at mine. We relegated Dr P to a nearby Travelodge (with a timetable of treats at the cinema) and we settled in for a girlie evening. We had Chinese food, watched Pitch Perfect and Glee and did face packs, nails and I tried a wet set (more on that soon!).

The next morning I cooked up some pancakes and we set the table with my Beryl and Royal Doulton china.

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I also used my wooden Bourbon serving platter from WoodPaperScissors (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/woodpaperscissorsuk?ref=l2-shopheader-name ). Now I don’t think any of us would call ourselves gifted in the field of reviewing foodstuffs, so I apologise for what follows…

We sniffed (look at those curls!):

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We liberally applied them to pancakes with banana:

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And we were impressed to note that the ingredients listed 37% bourbon biscuit, amongst other things!

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For me the taste was quite hazelnutty, and not as dissimilar as I was hoping, to the leading brand of chocolate spread. I’m not really a massive chocolate spread fan, and I was hoping this might have the very rich intense Belgian chocolate flavour that Costa’s Giant Bourbon Biscuit (costa.co.uk) did. These dreamworthy giants have been discontinued and it’s a travesty of the highest order in my opinion…

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It worked on pancakes but for me it’d be too sweet on toast, and MrsJMP and Elin sadly turned down my offer of toast so I guess that they thought the same.

I love the idea – so sweet – and it’s a nice product if you like chocolate spread. You can buy it at Tesco (www.tesco.com) and they also do a Custard Cream spread and a few other variations I believe. Do try it and let us know what you think…

It is with a groaning tummy I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

*These products were purchased by me (Well, MrsJMP actually…) and all views expressed are my own (Or MrsJMP or Elin’s..)!*

It’s only Joan Holloway but I like it…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who has watched Mad Men must have a little crush on Joan Holloway. Except for me. I have a HUGE crush on Joan.

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I love the whole Mad Men phenomenon, I really do. I do remember finding the first series a little slow and difficult to get into, I frequently scream at the screen when I see the chauvinism and double standards many of the male characters display, but all of this is part of what Mad Men is. I don’t even need to mention the fantastic 50s and 60s sets and clothing. I once invented a drinking game where you have to drink every time you see a dress you’d love to wear. I’ve never played it. I’d be dead.

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Joan is the Office Manager at the advertising agency which is at the centre of the TV series. She manages the day to day running of the office and is something of a mother hen to the many secretaries who work there. If by mother hen you mean a bitofabitch. Which I do. She is a strong sassy character who is efficient and does her job well. She also has the best breasts in the office. Or in any office I suspect. Without a doubt. Not least due to this fact, she is sleeping with her boss, an activity that continues until he has a heart attack and thinks better of it. Well, for a bit anyway.

In season 2 Joan gets married and you can see she is torn between enjoying her job and not wanting to give it up, fearful she will become a bored housewife. It must been a dilemma for many women in those days. Not anymore, we are expected to juggle both. As the seasons roll by Joan’s marriage falls apart and she becomes a single mother. She takes on more and more responsibility at work and proves herself to be more than capable.

So why style icon? Well Joan is a strong woman. And I think women like strong women. Well, I do anyway. We have needed them at multiple points in the past and we still need them now. She works hard to play a difficult game in a world which, as a woman, she has little power. The female characters in this world are expected to prove themselves and be grateful for every opportunity that is thrown their way. She can give as good as she gets, she can be warm and she always. looks. amazing.

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Comments on her clothes are many and varied but I will share my two favourites: Roger Stirling ( her boss) teases her about a man who has the hots for her, stating: “he was all over you that time you wore the red dress, the one with the bow on the back, that makes you look like a present, could you wear it?”

I also love that fact that she spends most of her time swanning around the office with a little gold pen on a chain around her neck nestling suggestively in her décolletage. No biros for Joan! A colleague comments: “She even wore a pen around her neck so people would stare at her tits.”

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Joan’s clothes are great and she does use her sexuality to help her get on. I’m hoping that’s not what women have to do now – I certainly haven’t, but then I’m not as well dressed as Joan and I’m in a different business! Most of her outfits would not be deemed appropriate for the classroom.

She knows how to dress according to her curves and the effect is devastating. The camera loves her and I swoon almost every time she is in shot. Christina Hendricks plays her superbly, and her character is not one-dimensional. She is a girl: she has guts, she is brave and strong, she messes up, she makes questionable decisions about the men in her life, she is kind and all of this adds up, for me, to make her an icon. Go and watch it, go and read about her, there is a lot written about her character which is much more succinct than I could ever hope to be.

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I salute you, Joan.

It is with a huge crush I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it.

It’s only Lindy Bop (Megan) but I like it…

At risk of being a bore, I’m going to talk Lindy Bop again! Although I don’t find pretty dresses remotely boring and I suspect you don’t if you’re reading this!

The Megan dress (http://www.lindybop.co.uk/swing-jive-dresses-c3/megan-flirtatiously-fun-50s-vintage-inspired-pleated-bust-polka-party-dress-p633) in green is the third and final of my Christmas dresses from Dr P. It’s possibly the least dressy of the three – I can see myself wearing this to wander into town for instance, which I may not whilst wearing the other two. We had a little jaunt out to the park to take the photos for this one and I think you’ll agree that Dr P excelled himself.

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I love the shaping on the bodice of this dress. It’s a nice snug fit with a bit of stretch to the fabric. The shaping over the bust is lovely and it did sit where it was meant to even though I’m on the busty side!

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The dress is not lined and I’m going to try it next time with a fluffy petticoat. Who doesn’t love polka dots if we’re honest? The skirt is nice and full and hangs beautifully.

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I teamed it up with a red stretchy belt and my Irregular Choice Green Trinkletina shoes. Low heel of course!

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These have a clear blue acrylic heel and contrasting fabric with a big green bow. I love them!

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I was also wearing a red perspex ring. It’s in the style of Tatty Devine but I think it was from Dorothy Perkins.

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As usual, I applied a slick of Besame Cherry red lipstick and my tortoiseshell Peggy specs from Retro Peepers. These catch the light and look stunning! The dress doesn’t reveal much cleavage so I went sans necklace, although I can see a nice string of pearls at the neck might be perfect.

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I like this dress a lot and it’s an easy one to wear. I can see me getting a lot of use out of it – hopefully when the weather’s a bit warmer! I think the green is a good match with my hair colour and I like the bodice detailing combined with the patterned skirt.

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All in all, it’s three thumbs up from me Lindy Bop!

*All views expressed are my own and I paid for these items!*

It is with a sepia smile I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Lindy Bop (Lana) but I like it…

As I may have mentioned, it was my birthday on Sunday. I had requested a visit to Grand Cafe (http://www.grand-cafe.co.uk/home) in Southampton. It’s just over the road from where we live and I have been angling to get inside for months now! I walk past it all the time and I am a sucker for an old building. Southampton was pretty decimated in World War Two and it’s lovely old buildings are few and far between, often flanked by some nasty 70s concrete flats. Peeking through the (rather high) windows I could see lovely fabrics, nice hanging lamps and the odd bit of cutlery, but could never get a proper look. This had to be rectified!

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We decided to go there for Afternoon Tea. Mostly because of cake. And tea. And cake. Did I mention cake? I love the fact that we Brits invented a meal around those two glorious things. I thought I might use it as an excuse to wear one of my new Lindy Bop (http://www.lindybop.co.uk/swing-jive-dresses-c3/lana-playful-polka-dot-50s-style-dress-with-cinch-waist-bel-p858) dresses.

It was served on vintage china, which was a lovely first impression. I ordered a big pot of Assam and Dr P got a coffee pot.

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It was beautifully decorated for Christmas, everything seemed to sparkle, including the crooning gentleman that entertained us for the first hour or so.

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When the Dr made the reservation he told the staff I was a pescatarian so they had kindly given us lots of cheese, egg and salmon sandwiches and just a few Italian ham sandwiches for Dr P. I did sample all of the sandwiches, but left the lion’s share for the Dr as I was impatient to get on to the sweet delights. We had 2 scones (with clotted cream and strawberry jam of course) each plus cakes, tartlets and nougat. I must admit I was defeated and only managed half of my cupcake even though it was deliciously light and bouncy. Everything was very tasty and the service was great. And of course it’s not like I had just spent two weeks filling my face with mince pies, Quality Street and Toblerone. Oh no!

I insisted on a few snaps of my Lindy Bop ‘Lana’ dress as we left:

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I loved the weight of the dress – it’s a really nice thick cotton mix, perfect for this time of year (It was quite chilly!) and the skirt is a good length, with a full lining. It was a great fit on my bust, torso and waist and my only criticism would be that the belt doesn’t quite work. I didn’t feel secure that it would stay in one place as the little elasticated bands were quite big for the buttons they looped round, plus it bunched and creased a little when I sat down – but that may be to do with my oddly shaped tummy! It’s easily fixed by using one of my many stretchy belts…

I accessorised this divine dotty creation with a little roll and a dark red hairband in my hair, my beloved Retro Peepers (http://www.retropeepers.com/#!peggy/ciaa) specs, a slick of Besame (http://besamecosmetics.eu) Dark Cherry lipstick, a little black shrug and of course, some Irregular Choice (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HpYgqcWpL._SX395_.jpg) shoes! The piece de resistance was my necklace – a birthday gift from Dr P – a tiny silver custard cream from Lily Charmed (http://www.lilycharmed.com):

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All in all, it was a lovely day, a lovely dress and a lovely meal.

It is with an ever expanding waistline I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it…

It’s only a vintage gift but I like it…

Just a quick one today… because it’s my birthday tomorrow! I’m not big on birthdays – it’s a terrible time of year to have one so I’m spending it quietly this year as I often do.

I’m focusing on a vintage gift I received. I think it’s important to make the distinction between retro (imitative of a style or fashion from the recent past) and vintage (denoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind). I’m a lover of both and there are times where, for functionality, I will go retro rather than vintage. For instance I bought a retro radio a few years ago, because, although I love the stylings of vintage radios, you cannot receive FM or of course Digital.

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This gift was put in my stocking by my Mum and it’s in near perfect condition. I love the design on the top and it’s beautifully stamped out and the colours are very vivid. It has ‘Huntley and Palmer’s Biscuits’ (http://www.huntleyandpalmers.com/index.php/about-us) stamped onto the bottom and a quick Google actually turned up a few surprises. I assumed Huntley and Palmers were no more, but their website shows they are definitely still trading and have a lovely range of products. I’m sure I remember them being mentioned in a Nigel Slater documentary about biscuits that I watched this time last year.

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Originally a Quaker company, Huntley and Palmer began trading in 1822 in Reading. There follows a long and illustrious biscuity career which includes the invention of the Nice biscuit and the packaging boon that was the biscuit tin. Now, I have a penchant for many vintage items, but the biscuit tin is definitely pretty high up there, so I feel indebted to H&P for that alone. The Nice biscuit, if I am honest, I could love without… My Mum has a few biscuit tins from when I was little that are so nostalgic for me, and every Christmas I wander into M&S to check out their range of lovely tins.

Do have a look at the Huntley and Palmers website, they now focus on high end products and I’m definitely going to be having a look next Christmas for gifts to send to relatives. They also stock a lovely range of tins – time to start making my own biscuit tin memories?

Anyway, this was meant to be a quick post but I got drawn in by the history and by looking at other, much older, vintage tins from Huntley and Palmer!

I’m going to use my tin to store and tidy up my ever expanding range of hair accoutrement!

It is with a biscuit craving I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it!

*All views expressed are my own!*

It’s only Lindy Bop but I like it…

I knew I was getting some Lindy Bop dresses for Christmas but I left it entirely up to Dr P which ones he chose. It was with some trepidation that I let that happen, but in many ways, the fact that he chose them made them more special. Also, when you see these bad boys, you will see what great choices he made…

On Christmas day there were 3 flat squishy packages waiting for me and I’m going to share them with you over a couple of posts. I decided to use their arrival as the inspiration for some weight loss, which was successful not least due to a delightful chest infection and cold that was presented to me for the duration of the last week of term! I felt so rotten I ate hardly anything and that shifted the last couple of pounds to help me fit nicely into a size 14. I’m very happy.

The first dress I opened was the Ophelia in red (http://www.lindybop.co.uk/search/ophelia):

I decided to wear it on Christmas day. I was busy cooking Christmas lunch and opening a mountain of presents – my Mum loves Christmas and is so generous! – so there are not any decent photos from the day. Dr P took these for me when we got home.

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As you can see it’s a great fit around my torso and I just love the ruched detail at the bust. I was worried it might be too low cut but it’s not at all. It’s a bit crumpled here as it had been packed after I ironed it, but it did iron up beautifully when I first unpacked it.

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I accessorised it with a jammy dodger biscuit necklace from The Jewellery Junkee (https://www.facebook.com/TheJewelleryJunkee?fref=ts) that Mum put in my stocking, these Irregular Choice (http://www.irregularchoice.com/shop/) low heeled shoes and of course my beloved Retro Peepers  (http://www.retropeepers.com/#!peggy/ciaa) Peggy specs.

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The dress is lovely quality and as I said I loved the detailing on the bodice. The fit around my waist was perfect it worked well without a petticoat – I’ll let you know how it works with one! It has one zip to the rear which is good quality – I hate a sticky zip!

All in all, I think this worked as a fantastic Christmas dress and is brilliant for parties or a more casual Christmas Day dress.

(Oh, and by the way – Happy New Year!)

It is with a playful swish I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!