Everything else

Shades of spring blossom

Nothing makes me happier than the sight of those first spring flowers poking through. Except perhaps the blossom that follows. All that perfect, pastel froth and loveliness displayed for free, lining our streets and filling our parks. I adore spring!

I'm currently loving variations on the blush pink colour palette and various shades of dove grey. So much inspiration to be taken from the spring colours outside.

I'm pondering using some such combination to paint our living room, to complement our new charcoal sofas. But I suspect the pondering might continue some time as I'm desperate to get outside and enjoy our beautiful world now that we are finally unpacked and have completed the essential DIY. All the same, I'm collecting some favourite shades on my Pinterest Colour Palette board.

I'm on the hunt for the perfect location for spring blossom near me. All these trees were found nearby and are very beautiful, but I'd love to see more froth! In Oxford, I knew exactly where to go, but I'm starting afresh here in East Sussex. I'm planning to visit some gardens on our holiday next week, so finger's crossed the blossom will hang around a while longer. But if you have any top tips for beautiful blossom in East Sussex, I'd love to hear them!

I may be feeling a little blossom poor, but I'm loving these beautiful Summer Snowflakes that have popped up all over the neighbourhood and even in my garden. Aren't they beautiful? I hope you're enjoying the beautiful spring flowers near you. Expect more from me soon! And in the meantime feel free to have a browse through my Spring Bling set on Flickr if you're in need of some spring colour.

Fine and Dandy: vintage heaven in Marazion, Cornwall


Update Oct 2015

Please note that the Fine & Dandy bricks and mortar shop is now closed. Please follow Shevie's Instagram account for her online shop details.


I was lucky enough to visit the utterly fabulous Fine and Dandy shop in Marazion, Cornwall, for a second time earlier this month (see my post from last year for photos from my first visit).

The shop is run by the super lovely Shevie, who has such an amazing eye for finding, curating and displaying the most gorgeous selection of vintage items from the 30s to the 60s. There are lots of vintage toys and pretty china and so much pastel loveliness that it's all a bit much to take in! Fine and Dandy has just turned 4, so I'm sending my best happy birthday wishes and hoping it continues to grow and blossom.

If you are ever down in Cornwall, you must pop in and pay a visit - the shop is just packed full of vintage loveliness and the displays are a work of art in themselves. For those who can't make it in person, Shevie has also now set-up an Etsy shop and an eBay shop, so everyone can enjoy a little slice of Fine & Dandy, wherever they are. Shevie also has the loveliest Instagram photostream :)

My last visit was at Easter time as well - the shop was looking so pretty, decked out in easter finery. The displays are always changing - take a look at Shevie's Flickr set for more photos of Fine and Dandy over the years.

I took a couple of Blythes with me to visit Shevie and they looked right at home. I'm sorry there aren't more photos - I was too busy having such a lovely time chatting to Shevie!

Whilst you're down in Marazion, there's lots to see and do - St. Michael's Mount is a must - and I can recommend the lovely Delicious deli/cafe - beautiful, tasty fresh food and lovely tea served in vintage china (some of it from Shevie's shop!).

There are lots of lovely beaches and coves nearby too. We enjoyed exploring the beautiful and secluded Prussia Cove, and the lovely Praa Sands. We wandered up and down the beach at Praa Sands watching the waves crash and roll, with the sun on our face - magical - and what Cornwall is all about for me.

I've got lots more to share about my Cornwall adventures - so expect more posts and pictures soon :)

Merry Christmas!

Just popping in to wish you all a most wonderful and very happy and relaxing Christmas break! I hope you all get to put your feet up at some point and recharge those batteries.

Thank you most sincerely for all your visits and lovely comments throughout the year - they are all very much appreciated. I have thoroughly enjoyed my blogging year (and it's not over yet!) and am looking forward to even more in 2014. So it's a Happy Christmas and ta ta for now from me and the bambis and those pesky dwarves ;) xxx

Thrifting fun in Devon

Well, Happy Wednesday everyone! Can't believe how quickly the time is flying - only 7 sleeps until Christmas - eek!

I went to visit my lovely sister in Barnstaple recently for a pre-Christmas get together and some crafting and thrifting fun. It's so lovely to share interests - we had a fun day (or two!) exploring the many charity shops in Barnstaple, I had some refresher knitting lessons and a tutorial on how to make an empire line Blythe dress, and I helped my sister with some Blythe customisation...I think that first moment when you open up one of your precious Blythes needs some friendly support!! We also found the time for some beautiful bracing sea walks with the doggies, even though the weather was rather wild!

Merry Kitschmas from the seven dwarfs!
A most happy and cheerful crochet blanket find. I'm in love!

I thought I'd share some of my charity shop finds with you today, as I really am super excited by them. Normally, I have the worst luck - I visit the charity shops in Oxford frequently and rarely find anything, so this was a most unusual haul!

First up is the most amazing, happy, colourful crochet blanket. I think this was the last thing I found, and my favourite. It is hard to portray how vivd the colours are - especially the green - it glows! I just love the edging too - haven't seen much like this before.

A most happy and cheerful crochet blanket find. I'm in love!
A most happy and cheerful crochet blanket find. I'm in love!
A most happy and cheerful crochet blanket find. I'm in love!

Next up are some finds from the North Devon Hospice, which has an upstairs dedicated to vintage. I squealed rather a lot when I went up the stairs! I found the most beautiful cotton yellow tunic dress - please excuse the photos - it needs a good wash and an iron - but isn't that print just fab! Roll on spring :)

My happy dress
My happy dress

I also fell in love with these pyrex cups and their yellow rose print. In an unusually restrained move, I left them behind the first day whilst I thought about it (do we have the space?) and went back for them the next day and happily they were still there! I'm so pleased I did. They were only £4 too - such a bargain!

I adore this yellow rose print :)
I adore this yellow rose print :)

And then my eyes spotted the most fabulous quilted dressing gown. This beauty was just £2.50!! Isn't the print just divine? It came complete with a vintage tissue (used!) in that pretty pocket :) Now all washed and fresh as a daisy. I was originally contemplating cutting it up to make some things, but I don't think I can bear to, so it will stay hanging up for me to admire, and remain a photo prop. I might just have to parade round in it on Xmas day too :)

Granny chic
Granny chic

And that's not it! In this treasure trove of vintage goodness, I also found the beautiful double bedspread below. And THE most amazing seven dwarfs at the top of the page. Aren't they absolutely fabulous? I couldn't believe my luck when I found them :) They are now brightening up my white Christmas tree - and (hopefully) safely located at the top, out of reach of cats :)

A most beautiful pink bedspread

In a different shop I found another fabulous crochet blanket in different shades of purple. I must confess to having quite a large collection of them - perhaps another blog post to show and tell....

More crochet blanket love
More crochet blanket love

And last, but not least, as I was paying for my happy multi-coloured crochet blanket, I spotted some vintage Christmas decs on the counter: 5 for 50p!! Would have been rude not to, so santa and Mr Snowman came home with me, along with a pink bauble or two!

Mr Snowman
Awesome santa

All in all, a thoroughly lovely trip and a most fabulous haul. Now I need a bigger house!! Wishing you all a super lovely and very happy and relaxing Christmas in case I don't "see" you before then! Hope all your preparations are going well. It's been a bit of a handmade Christmas for me this year - pics to follow once the lovely recipients have opened their presents :)

The times they are a changin'

Change is most definitely in the air. As we drift into October the leaves are starting to turn and fall, the nights are drawing in and there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings and evenings - I love this time of year!

Soft landing
Autumn pinks

And for me this year, things are changing in a big way. I've just left my job of 9+ years as the Head of the Systems & Information Management team in Research Services at the University of Oxford. It's been a wonderful place to work and I've been privileged to work with many fantastic people that I respect and admire. But I've been battling with chronic fatigue for the last few years and am thoroughly fed up with feeling achey and exhausted all the time and barely able to drag myself through the working week....

So I decided I needed a big change and a chance to rest and recuperate and focus on my health. I'm taking a career break for 6 months or so to give myself the time I need to recover. And a chance to think about what's next. I'd love to do something creative, ideally with my photography....perhaps some freelance work - who knows - the possibilities at this blissful stage are endless :)

If you go down to the woods today….
Every shade of autumn in one tree

I'm planning to spend my time doing lots of lovely creative, crafty things. I want to learn to knit and sew properly, and hopefully crochet too. I am so looking forward to being able to potter about at my own pace, instead of rushing from meeting to meeting....

I have been slowly amassing a little stash of vintage fabrics and I am so looking forward to getting stuck in and making things....I have booked myself into a sewing course for November and will be making a tote bag and a make-up bag as part of the course...and then I hope to get to work on some cushion covers...and maybe an owl if I'm feeling adventurous.

My vintage fabric stash
Destined to be some Blythe scarves and maybe some hats...

I will be able to surround myself with beautiful happy colours in my home. My owl shelf of happiness makes me smile every time I walk into my bedroom. It's had a very special recent addition - the new owl on the far right was custom made for me by the wonderful Modflowers in a pink and aqua colourway, especially to co-ordinate with my owl shelf :)

I'm over the moon with him - isn't he gorgeous? You can read about the making of him on Modflower's lovely blog.

My owl shelf of happiness
My fabulous owl from @modflowers

I'm also really looking forward to doing some more Blythe customisation and photography. I've got lots more faces to matte....These shelves of colour in my craft room just make me smile, even on gloomy days...

My happy shelf #1
Work in progress….
Zahra approves of the new chair

I'm planning to do lots more photography too - I've got lots of ideas for a new line in greeting cards and small prints....I've been hunting out bambis like my avatar over the last few months and will finally have the time to photograph them :)

Vintage teal & yellow: a delicious combo
Finally managed to find a bambi like my avatar :)
Bambis are multiplying!

So, exciting times ahead! But first, I'm off on a special trip to the USA, including a visit to Blythecon New York to celebrate my (gulp) 40th birthday later this month! So my blog will be quiet for a little while. But no doubt I will be posting like a mad woman on Instagram, so you can follow along with me there :) Tara for now! Z xx

Feeling dotty and bold

I'm not usually a black & white kinda' girl, but I might make an exception if it's a bold print partnered with a bright bold pop of colour - especially if that colour is pink.....

Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold

So I completely fell in love with this chevron dress from Johnnie B (we'll quickly gloss over the fact that it's teen fashion and I left my teen years behind, ahem, a couple of decades ago...) - I adore the print - and the pink elbows :) There's no shortage of pink in my wardrobe, so accessorising is never going to be a problem! And when the kind people at Three sent me over a gorgeous dotty Kate Spade iPhone cover, I immediately thought of this dress as the perfect partner for some pics.

Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold
Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold
Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold
Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold

Oh and I thought it was time my zebra print pumps came out for a spin as well :)

Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold
Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold

What I'm wearing:

Dress: Johnnie B | Bag, Shoes & Scarf: Boden | iPhone case: Kate Spade via Three

Photos of me taken by my lovely husband alpower

Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold
Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold
Blogged: Feeling dotty and bold

Summer staycationing

Staycationing is new to me - why on earth have I not done this before?! I've had a blissful, restful week pottering around at home, working on projects I've been meaning to do for ages - and going out for lovely day trips. And all the while sleeping in my lovely comfy bed and not having to pack or unpack!! I highly recommend it :)

Outfit post: summer pastels

I'll save the day trips to Waterperry Gardens and the seaside for other posts. So in this episode, we spent a lovely day wandering around Woodstock, picnicking in Blenheim Palace grounds and finishing off the day with a trip around Yarnton Antiques Centre (which is utterly fabulous by the way - again, why have I not been before?!).

Window shopping
Woodstock
Woodstock

I also had a much needed hair cut (was it really January the last time? Oh dear...) and went out to take my new hair for a spin in a (relatively) new summer pastel outfit. Thanks to my lovely husband alpower for taking the pics of me :)

Outfit post: summer pastels
Outfit post: summer pastels
Outfit post: summer pastels
Woodstock
Outfit post: summer pastels
Outfit post: summer pastels
Woodstock
Woodstock
Outfit post: summer pastels
Outfit post: summer pastels

What I'm wearing:

Top: Boden | Capri pants & cardigan: Joules | Shoes: Clarks | Bag: Orla Kiely SS13

Lazy hazy summer days

Flowers from the garden

It's so wonderful to finally be having a summer in the UK! It's been a bit of a non-event the last few years, so it feels extra special to have had a few weeks of non-stop sunshine and blue skies. I hear that some thundery showers lie ahead as I write this - am sure the garden will welcome some rain!

Summer days
Summer reading

So, we've got to enjoy our garden this year. I've dressed the table to make it look pretty and sat out drinking sparkling elderflower in the shade with a stack of fabulous books to feast my eyes upon...And all inspired by the beautiful images in Homespun Style (my favourite interiors book ever I think) I spent the day rushing upstairs and downstairs to bring down vintage pillowcases and Blythe dolls to photograph on the lawn in this gorgeous light...

Pillowcase love
Blythe camouflage
Blythe camouflage
Lazy summer days...
Vintage fabric love
Three shades of green
Lazing in the garden
My iPhone case

We've also been joined most days by our beautiful next door neighbours - here are Mum Poppy and daughter Martha - aren't they beautiful?

Poppy
Martha

And of course summer means flowers in abundance. I couldn't resist bringing these beautiful Hydrangeas indoors to pop in my owl vase - even though I will suffer - unfortunately I am allergic to flowers :( But as long as I get to photograph them first, I don't mind too much!

Owl vase love <3

Did you know the O3 Gallery in Oxford has a lovely shop?

And it sells some of my greeting cards (above and below). Plus a whole bunch of lovely other things, including cards, prints, artwork, jewellery and gifts made by local and national artists.

Greeting card designs

The shop nestles neatly on the top level of the circular gallery, whilst the main space is used for exhibitions. You can find the O3 Gallery in the Oxford Castle.

O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford

I just love the bunny necklace below and the fabulous brooches by Sketch Inc.

O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford

I also adore these stunning rings by Monvatoo - I'll take the owl and the rabbit please ;)

Here are a few more of my card designs available at the O3 Gallery:

Greeting card designs
Greeting card designs
Greeting card designs

Whilst these particular card designs can only be found at the O3 Gallery, you can also buy my cards in packs from my Etsy shop and individually from my Red Bubble shop, along with a range of other prints. Wishing you all a most fabulous sunny summer weekend - get out and enjoy that sunshine!

A very floral Sunday

Columbia Road Flower Market

Third time lucky, the lovely Candy Pop and I finally managed to make it to the Columbia Road flower market last Sunday. It was the perfect time of year to go as the stalls were laden with Peonies and Hydrangeas - my favourite flowers. So much prettiness and colour everywhere. And so many people! I wasn't quite prepared for the crowds - it made it rather challenging to get any pictures that were in focus! But it was fabulous all the same.

Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market

After the craziness of the crowds and a potter round the lovely shops we headed to a quiet side street for a few outfit shots. The window boxes were so pretty - this is the kind of street I'd love to live in.....well a girl can dream!

Blogged
Blogged
Blogged
Blogged
Blogged

What I'm wearing: Floral top & cardigan: Joules | Jeans & scarf: Boden | Bag: Clarks | Coin purse: Jane Foster | Nails: Revlon ~ Eclectic

A trip to London wouldn't be complete without a spot of shopping, now would it? So, after a much needed pit stop for lunch at Byron, we headed to Orla Kiely in Covent Garden and they happened to have a sale on....everything is just so delicious I wanted it all! But I satisfied myself with this gorgeous number. Still can't quite believe it :)

Blogged
A thing of beauty

And just down the road on Monmouth Street is a fabulous little shop called Pop Boutique stacked to the rafters with vintage goodness. I tried on a dress with a fabulous 60s print, but sadly it didn't fit me. On the way out, I spotted this doggy in the window - I've been after one of these for ages (ever since I saw Shevie's sitting proudly on the Fine and Dandy counter top), so he just had to come home with me. I could hardly contain myself ;) And then it was on to a very special shop for the lovely Candy Pop's mission - but I'll leave her to tell that tale. All in all, a most fabulous day!

This doggy in the window came home with me