Ring a Ring o’ Roses

Hey chicas! It has been a long time since I’ve blogged.  Since starting work full-time it has not been easy to keep up, especially as when I’m on my few days off I’m always ticking off things to do on my long list of chores, and I just never get around to writing a blog post.  I have so many ideas in the pipeline for my next few blog posts, including lovely things I’ve bought in the last few months, but for now I’d like to share this little gem that I’ve been wearing every day for the last month.

Some weeks ago I was staying in Angel for my hubby’s cousin’s wedding (and that was a blast!) and discovered a part of London I now really, really like.  As per usual I was on the lookout for new retail experiences, and Angel had lots to offer, not being the typical high street that we all know.   On the morning of the wedding, we took a left from our hotel for a leisurely stroll and came upon a wonderful treasure trove of a shop.

After Noah is a real curiosity.  It is equal parts retro toy shop, gift shop and vintage furniture seller, and manages to marry all these elements together successfully.  On entering one notices how much stuff there is in the shop, but unlike other antique shops I’ve been to, where I’ve struggled to focus on any one thing for all the clutter there is, the product collections here are beautifully curated and fascinating to look at.

There were so many things to covet.  There is a fantastic range of vintage and contemporary furniture, and I had my eye on this super-duper couch, which looks so cool yet comfortable!

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Whilst browsing the toy shop, I came across this cute origami fox lamp, intended as a night light for kids.  Who is to stop me from getting one though?

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I got my sister this dinky little walrus toy, which I knew would make her laugh.

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Whilst down in the basement, which was chock full of yet more cool furniture, I tried on an exquisite bowler hat for fun!  I actually think this could be a look for me, though you may disagree…

Bowler hat

Last but not least, After Noah sell a lovely range of jewellery, and being the magpie that I am, I could not resist this beautiful sterling silver ring with its rose of rose-gold.  I’m in love with delicate banded rings at the moment, especially those with a hammered effect, and this one with its faceted band fits the brief.  It is great on its own or stacked with other slim bands.  I’ve worn it every day since I got it.

Rose gold ring

 

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My New Orleans Shopping Haul

It has been two months since I came back from New Orleans, and, having done a huge shop there, I’ve been itching to write about the goodies I picked up.  I’ve been so busy though, what with family birthdays, a trip to Ireland and starting a new full-time job! So now, without further ado, let me share my lovely haul with you…

 

Mika Rose Skirt

First up is this ditsy little skirt by Mika Rose, from the National World War II Museum store in New Orleans.  The great thing about this cute number is that it is so easy to wear and has tons of retro appeal with its mini floral print.  I paired it with this coral top by Darling, from Cambridge boutique Lilac Rose.

 

Sterling silver bellflower pendant and earring set

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I couldn’t leave NOLA without satisfying my passion for sterling silver jewellery.  This bellflower necklace and earring set from Sterling Silvia, was designed by Silvia herself and is bang on trend with the current vogue for botanicals.  I was so tempted to buy the bellflower ring too, but it was all getting a bit matchy-matchy.  I love this set and have worn it almost every day!

 

Sterling silver water meter ring

One of Sterling Silvia’s bestsellers is the ubiquitous water meter ring, which I featured in my last blog post.  Every time I wear this, I just can’t take my eyes off its detailed art deco design.

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Gold seashell necklace

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She sells seashells on the seashore… Golden sands and blue skies is what this beautiful seashell necklace embodies.  It made a great present for my sister, who loves gold jewellery.  Made of gold-plated brass on a delicate chain, I found this treasure at Zele, an indoor artisans market on Magazine Street, which also sells other lovely things such as…

 

Turquoise pottery bowl

…this handmade pottery bowl in deep turquoise, a good gift choice for my mum.  It’s so soothing to look at, especially when its filled with still water and pink rose floating candles.

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Sea urchin trinket box

This aqua sea urchin-shaped trinket box from Magazine Street boutique Peony, complete with a gold coral-shaped handle, was an impulse buy.   It’d be great in the bathroom for holding cotton wool balls, although right now I’m using it to store all my spare clothes buttons!

 

 

Ruby Slipper tee shirt

I collect tee shirts like badges, and I couldn’t resist this retro tee from New Orleans eaterie Ruby Slipper Café.  It is dark grey and printed with a glitzy red stiletto, that’s so tantalizingly hot right now that the Wicked Witch of the West is dying to get her hands on it!  Plus, it has got an egg frying on it.

 

Peaches Records tee shirt

On the subject of retro tees, I plumped for this juicy number from NOLA record store Peaches Records.  What a peach – so nicely snug and soft!

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Emerson Lake and Palmer record

Of course I didn’t just go into a record store to buy a tee shirt, I had to get a record too! I got my prog rock fix with an American 1971 pressing of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s self-titled first album.  Despite the prices being so cheap, the record was in such good nick.   Plus the Peaches Record store is so damn cool, based on the facts that: a) the staff are so welcoming and friendly; b) they give you a free root beer whilst you browse the store; and c) I got a free Peaches Record sticker after buying my goodies.

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Yes Fragile Record

I got not one but two records on my NOLA trip, this second one from Frenchmen street music store, Louisiana Music Factory .  Because I’m currently obsessed with prog rock giants Yes, I got their Fragile album (US 1972 pressing) for a very good price, and in such great condition too.

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So there you have it, my NOLA shopping haul!

The New Orleans Crescent Meter Box

You will realise the appeal of a lowly water meter cover when you visit New Orleans.  Yes, it is just a water cover at the end of the day, but this beautiful lid is unlike any other water cover.  Adorned with the crescent moon and a burst of stars, it has become a historical and cultural symbol of New Orleans.

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The crescent meter cover was made by the Ford Meter Box Company, hailing from Wabash, Indiana.  Edwin Ford filed a patent application for the Ford Meter Box in 1898, a method of preventing customers from wasting water in Hartford City, Indiana.  The meter box is essentially a pit containing the water meter, outside the house, and is covered with a metal lid.  Ford gradually began supplying meters for other cities, including New Orleans, and after visiting the Crescent City, came up with the famous crescent moon and stars design for the lid covering the meter in 1921.

Traditionally found covering water box meters in the ground throughout New Orleans, the Crescent Meter Cover gradually became rarer as they were coveted and then stolen by many people.  Over time, due to the extensive and notorious theft of these beautiful lids, the New Orleans Water Board replaced these covers with plain ones, so that now it is quite a feat to find any of the original covers within the city.

Today the design is used in other forms – in jewellery, art and ceramics.  I was very much taken with this unique design and bought this design in various souvenir types.

This cute sterling silver ring from Sterling Silvia is just so cool and unique.

This lovely ceramic clock from Derby Pottery will be great for the kitchen or the bathroom due to its deep aqua tones and watery associations!DSC_0018

We got two trivets – one for my dad from Sterling Silvia on French Market and one for my brother-in-law from the Roux Royale shop.  They have a hook in the back so can be hung on the wall, as well as being used for hot things in the kitchen.

I was fortunate enough to find and photograph these water covers in situ – the photo at the start of this post as well as this one near the Lafayette Cemetery.

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Technicolor Easter

Easter is just around the corner, so here is another window display from my local Oxfam shop to celebrate!

The last few days have been a bit of a mad crafts rush, as I’ve spent a lot of time making many of the props for this display.  My theme was based on a hyper-intense and psychedelic Technicolor world, a little bit like the chocolate river scene in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.   I wanted to illustrate this theme using bright colours, metallic fabrics and textures which I used in a variety of ways.

First I created a paper skirt, made of blue and green cellophane with a gold tissue paper overlay to simulate tulle.  I added a newspaper waistband lined with purple foil sweet wrappers.  I paired the skirt with a sparkly jumper and made a necklace of little Easter eggs.  I’ve never ever made my own clothes before so this was a first for me!  The whole outfit reminds me of sweet shops.

I then got a bunch of plastic eggs and spray-painted them metallic gold so that they would look like the eggs that the golden goose from Willy Wonka had laid.   These were arranged in a little nest of gold and silver tissue paper.

Another volunteer and I also created no-sew sock bunnies using metallic socks and bags of rice.  Check out Homemade Gift Guru if you want to make these cute critters! I used heart mirror confetti to create the eyes and thin wire for the whiskers, so the bunnies look a little trippy!

We then put together our display as shown below, using a few extra bits and bobs such as fake grass runners and Easter stickers as well as soft toys and home ware:

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The Vintage Traveller

Last week I put together a vintage display in my local Oxfam shop.  I wanted to tell a story with these wonderful objects that are loaded with history and have a story of their own to tell.  I had the following items: pieces of old luggage (including an amazing 1930s Abercrombie and Fitch suitcase!), a pink Stetson, an old Reader’s Digest atlas, a 1980s Roberts radio, an old sewing machine, an exotic ashtray, a steel glasses case, an Hawaiian-inspired men’s shirt and a beautiful embroidered folk-style linen jacket.  This is what I came up with, and I had a lot of fun putting it together!

It’s inspired by the Vintage Traveller, evoking an era where travel was much more about exploration of a beautiful world that held many mysteries, of the days of the glory and luxury of train travel and the Orient Express, where perhaps you could enjoy a martini before dinner, and where you dressed up to fly by plane.

For me, the best shop displays are those that tell a story, and on the same day I came across this one by Vans, depicting a burger van.  The display complements the launch of Vans’ Late Night Collection of fast food-inspired prints.

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Paper Hearts and Roses

Valentine’s Day is upon us again, and love it or hate it, you can’t get away from it especially if you’re out and about on the high street!  To mark the event at my local Oxfam shop, I was asked to put together a window display.  Since last year when I organised my own wedding and made origami butterfly decorations, I’ve been into origami and decided to make some origami hearts to put up in the window.  I found a great set of instructions on origami website Origami Instructions.  All you need is some origami paper squares and a little bit of patience, and you will be rewarded with these dinky little hearts, which I made in red, pink and purple.

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I really wanted to make origami roses as well, but this was so much harder than making the hearts.  I had to concede defeat in the end as I was driven crazy trying to follow complicated instructions.  Origami roses are for the more advanced origami enthusiast and I still have some way to go to achieve that.  In the end I decided to cheat and went for a much easier solution, using these instructions from ruffledblog.com.  I cut little spirals out of origami paper and then wound them up tightly to produce these pretty swirly roses, which I then stuck onto a heart-shaped piece of cardboard.  The idea of the paper flowers on a heart came from this box frame of dried roses, which I put together from my wedding bouquet.

The final bit was putting everything together for the display.  With the addition of some shiny heart garlands, a heart-shaped frame of Valentine’s messages, and the help of another volunteer, this is what we came up with!

Coveting a Coffee Cup – Part 2

As a follow up to my ‘Coveting a Copper Coffee Cup’ post, I picked up a lovely set of espresso cups.  These white cups by Italian homeware company Alessi have a beautiful bell-shaped design which combines classic elegance with comfort.   I got this set from HomeSense, a new favourite shop of mine, where you can pick up some great branded homeware at a bargain, if you go in with an open mind!

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Coveting a copper coffee cup

That’s what I really want right now in my life, and it is all because of my new Le’Xpress espresso coffee maker, given to us as a wedding present.   This stainless steel coffee maker is sleek and stylish with a beautiful copper effect.   It is so easy to use, making great coffee in minutes and is just as easy to clean afterwards.

Good, strong coffee – just what I need – and now I need a set of espresso cups to go with it!  I’ve searched hard on the internet to find a set – and I found these beautiful copper effect cups by Tom Dixon, which would be perfect! I can only dream of getting these, but there are also some beautiful ones on http://www.notonthehighstreet.com, including tropical bird-inspired cups by Perky (the peacock is my favourite!) and a delicate dragonfly design by Melody Rose.

We still have some vouchers left over from the wedding so here’s hoping…