My Easter Weekend Update

Hi folks! Hope you’ve all had a great Easter weekend amid all the stormy weather and managed to get in some lovely choccies and quality time with friends and family.  Mine has been really hectic, hence why I haven’t had a chance to write anything until now.

The big event of the weekend was my cousin’s wedding on Saturday, held at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at Heathrow Airport.  It was a blast.  Plenty of food, drinks and dancing, and catching up with relatives and friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  The civil ceremony was lovely, with poignant literary references and readings, cheesy Vitamin String quartet arrangements of rock songs and pretty-in-pink floral arrangements.   The drinks reception was held in the tropically themed Sky Garden, a central courtyard with palm fronds and a swimming pool, and the Indian wedding breakfast was held in the International Suite.  We stayed over at the hotel so all we had to do was crawl into bed after a heavy night at the open bar!

Here are some snaps of me in my wedding outfit, a lotus-themed Kanchipuram silk sari from Aishvarya Sarees, plus my accessories, all in tones of blue.

In between all this my husband and I had our lovely friends over for an Easter meal.  We opted for tradition with a feast of roast leg of lamb and veggies, which my husband had proudly prepared, and a creamy tiramisu that I’d made following a recipe from BBC Good Food.

I also got a hair cut – this happens once in a blue moon so it was much needed!  I have very, very thick hair, so I don’t normally trust many people with it as it is a challenge to deal with. My regular salon is the Japanese-run Malishi near London Bridge who always do a fantastic job because they know how to work with my hair type.  Unfortunately they were booked out this time round, and I didn’t really fancy the trek across London, so I booked in with Scruffs in Cambridge.  I was quite nervous about trying out a new place and I didn’t know what to expect.  However I had a luxurious experience at Scruffs from the moment I arrived to the moment I left.  From my much-needed cup of tea to my head massage, and the great job that my stylist did, I couldn’t have asked for more.  I had a conditioning treatment during my hair wash which has left my hair looking and feeling glossier and healthier.  Plus they throw in a loyalty scheme for regular customers with points that add up to discounts, so I’ll definitely be booking with them again!

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My new haircut!

Last but not least, to round off this rather random and disjointed post, I took some pics of Easter and Spring-themed shop window displays around Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Designspiration

Everyone needs a little design inspiration in their lives: whether they’re planning their next evening outfit, a refit for their kitchen or living space, a wedding (that was me about five months’ ago!), their next shop display  (me again!), and even the next blog post, which includes all of us here reading and writing our blogs!

I love to draw inspiration from many sources.  I try to get a good dose of inspo from fashion magazines such as Vogue, or interior design magazines such as Elle Home.  I’ve recently been watching BBC’s the Great Interior Design Challenge in the (false) hope that I’ll create something so utterly fantastic.   Since the planning of my wedding, I’ve discovered the wonderful world of Pinterest, and I use it to pin anything I like the look of, from interior design to fashion to art and everything in between.   Movies and music are also great wells of inspiration – I love the stylised retro worlds of Wes Anderson’s films and the colourful musical worlds of the late 1960s and early 1970s with psychedelia and progressive rock.  Additionally I recently discovered this fantastic visual merchandising blog, charityshopvm.  Like me, you’ll love the impressive window displays on offer, and the high standards of these displays have really inspired me to up my game!

I don’t get the opportunity to travel very much at the moment, but take a trip to a museum or art gallery and you may not always need to, although with the British weather, you’re probably going to disagree with me there!

Last week I took a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.  Just a leisurely stroll through the museum’s wonderful collections can refresh and fix you!  I visited the Islamic and South Asian collections, which has some of the most beautiful and intricate pieces I’d ever seen.

I visited the Fashion collection, which covers the last 300 years in fashion.  For all those Biba lovers out there, see if you can spot the Biba dress in the collection!

I also visited the Al Thani jewellery collection at the V&A during my trip.  I urge you to visit if you haven’t done already – go soon as it closes on 10th April!  It’s a collection of Indian jewellery from the last 400 years, combining traditional and modern jewellery design.  Each piece is exquisitely made and being the magpie that I am, I was completely mesmerised! Unfortunately photography was forbidden so no pictures as a result – but you do have to see for yourself just how extraordinary the collection really is.

For visual merchandising and crafts inspiration, I love taking a wander around the shops on the high street in order to have a look at the visual displays put on.  I’ve been down in London a few times and snapped displays that have been inspiring to me.  My favourite shop Liberty has wonderful bluebell garlands and this huge marigold-like flower, all embellished with classic Liberty prints.  Kiehl’s at Liberty has a humorous tongue-in-cheek take on health and wellness with its skeleton riding a paisley-print vintage bike.  John Lewis has a simple but effective bath display, using glass baubles to imitate bubbles.

I’d love to hear from you all about your sources of creative inspiration and about how you get ideas for your next blog post or next project, whatever that may be!

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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A Mother’s Day display

For those of you in the UK, its Mother’s Day this Sunday 6th March.  I’ve done another window display for my local Oxfam shop to mark the occasion.  I was inspired by florals, nature and springtime, and as per usual I had to get creative with the limited resources I had.

Here are some of the items I had in my arsenal: a cake stand, a Wedgwood tea cup and saucer, a 1930s silver-plated teapot, a cloche hat, a floral velvet burnout scarf, owl hand warmers, a china clock, bits of butterfly-themed accessories including a blue handbag, brooches, hair slides and trinket boxes, a blue cat ornament, and some books.

To pull the look together, I dotted origami butterflies in pinks and blues around the display, that I had made previously – if you want to know how to make these little beauties, I strongly recommend you look at Michael LaFosse’s Origami Butterflies book.  I also hung up a few butterflies on a clip-on mobile in the middle of the window.  I found some metal plant pots and filled them with artificial spring flowers in pastel shades, hung them to one side of the window and added MUM in cutout letters to tie everything together.

This is what I came up with:

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!