Monday, 30 January 2012

Sale Shopping and Bargain Homewares

I've never really been a big fan of sale shopping, just looking at those rails of badly organised, jumbled clothing gives me a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think it’s partly that I just don't have the patience required to wade through the masses of clothes looking for the best bargains although I’m sure my lack of sale shopping success isn’t helped either by the pandemonium that is the first few days of the post-Christmas sales with all their attendant pushing and shoving, clothes trampling and disgruntled screaming children –anyone who has ever dared to venture into Next on Boxing Day will know exactly what I mean.

Nowadays I avoid the first weeks of the sales completely and usually stroll in around mid-January when things are much quieter and I can browse at my leisure. This year this strategy really paid off and I found some amazing bargains that were double or even triple discounted!



My first purchase this year was this wooden Shabby Chic ‘Love’ hook to hang jewellery on. Before buying this my necklaces were in a sprawling knotted mess spilling into three separate jewellery boxes, now I’ve used it to hang my favourite pendants and beads on which keeps them tangle-free and has freed up a lot more space for other items in my jewellery box. It wasn’t a huge saving but still a bargain at £5.

While browsing online I also found this very elegant voile and crystal light shade from Argos, I think it looks much more expensive than its £9.99 price tag. It’s still available here but unfortunately no longer on sale.

Last but not least of the homewares (and not technically a sale item) is this wooden ampersand. I was in Primark exchanging an unwanted Christmas gift when I spotted it, I love freestanding letters and symbols and after looking at similar items for a lot more I couldn’t believe it when I learnt this was only £4 full price! I’m not keen on the matt black finish though so I will be customising it in some way very soon.

Also spotted during my inaugural trip to Primark were these adorable short pyjamas. In the past Primark sizing has started at an 8 so I was pleased to see they’ve now added a 6 to their range, although I did find that while the shorts fitted me perfectly the top was verrry long in the body so despite the small size the fit wasn’t very petite-friendly, nevertheless I thought they were just too cute to resist so I added them to my basket, and as an extra bonus when I got to the till I found they had been marked down to a ridiculously cheap £4.50!  

Next I popped into Miss Selfridge –who had the best organised sale section I’ve seen for ages combined with some fantastic reductions! I chose these light beige chinos (£15, reduced from £38) that I thought would be the perfect spring/summer transitional piece. Being chronically short-of-leg I wasn’t sure I’d be able to carry this type of trousers off but I found by cuffing them and adding heels they actually looked ok. I loved the fact they also came with a great quality tan belt that in my opinion would have justified the price on its own. Available here online.

Lipsy has always been one of my go-to shops for pretty evening dresses, over the past couple of seasons I've noticed they've started to add more wearable daytime pieces too. I think these shorts are the perfect blend of both, paired with a sparkly top, a clutch and heels they’ll work for a night out, equally I can also see me wearing them with a vest and sandals during the day. I picked these up for half of the original price- £17.50.  
Finally although I live in heels I do occasionally see a pair of flats I really like, and these Ravel patent ballet pumps immediately caught my eye. I thought the shape was really delicate and flattering and the patent finish and bow detail gave them a chic, Audrey Hepburn-esque vibe. I’ve always been a fan of ravel shoes since they had high street stores so I was excited to find something from them that I knew would be great quality for only £17!

Purchases made: 7 
Money saved: £££   
Sale success at last: Priceless!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Grand Designs in Gingerbread

A few days ago a friend asked me about the Gingerbread house in the post below...

here's what you saw...
...and here's what you didn't!

Erecting the walls
That’s right, I admit it, I cheated and used a (gasp!) pre-baked kit. This included a (near useless) cardboard base, four gingerbread ‘walls’ and two ‘roof’ pieces, an industrial quantity of icing and some sweets to decorate. The first thing I did was ditch the flimsy base in favour of a solid cake board and replace the garish sweets with some tubes of my favourite treats, Jelly Tots and Fruit Pastilles. Next I mixed up a small amount of the icing adding water a little at a time until I achieved a stiff, toothpaste-like consistency. Assembling the house was the trickiest part of the project so I tackled it in several stages. First I applied a line of icing with a pallet knife to the edges of the walls and attached them to the front and back of the house, tidying up any icing that squashed out with a clean knife for a neat finish. I left the base to set for a couple of hours before attaching the roof in the same way. I joined one side under the other rather than at the edges for extra stability (using what I’m reliably informed is a butt joint rather than a mitre joint- see I told you there was engineering involved!).
Creating a lattice work roof

Now for the fun part- the decoration! I mixed up some more icing and filled the piping bag provided, I didn’t like idea of just spreading the roof with icing so I piped a series of straight lines at 45 degree angles creating a pretty lattice effect. Where the lines intersected I put a Jelly Tot. Around the edges of the roof and walls I piped a series of dots, applying even pressure then pulling sharply up and away leaving a little point. I created the icicles that line the bottom of the roof using a similar technique only pulling down and away more slowly to form an elongated tip. This step is a little tricky so it's a good idea to practice first.
Decorating the front & back

I created the front and back of the house by roughly sketching out the design I wanted and transferring it freehand to the gingerbread. I drew the windows and doors applying steady, even pressure to the piping bag and finished them off with a mixture of Jelly Tots and Fruit Pastilles. Around the base of the house I piped some more dots and stuck Jelly Tots around the base, I finished the whole thing off with a light dusting of icing sugar through a sieve. And it was as arduous simple as that! Now for the totally gratuitous 360 degree photos! 


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Happy New Year & Some (Belated) Christmas Photos

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and 2012 is getting off to a great start for you all. I wanted to upload a couple of quick snaps I took over the festive period and to thank everyone who helped to make it such a magical Christmas.

Christmas Tree in Red & Gold- this took nearly 5 hours to put up and decorate!
An adorable pull-up Santa I just had to have
Baubles on the tree
And another…I really think I need to invest in a macro lens…
My Christmas engineering project- a gingerbread house
My awesome pile of Christmas pressies! A huge thank you to everyone who bought me a gift, I feel so spoilt!

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