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BIJOUX | GEMOLOGY SESSION WITH ASTLEY CLARKE

There’s nothing I like more than getting my geek on. Any opportunity to geek out on a subject and learn from the experts (while drinking prosecco) and I’m there! So when Astley Clarke invited me to one of their gemology evenings I jumped at the chance. Held in their London showroom, the evening saw a small group of invited guests sitting in rapture as their resident gemstone expert talked us through how different stones are identified, mined, cut and set.

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— { top left earrings, bottom right earrings } —

It took a while to get used to using the loupe, it’s apparently much easier to do with both eyes open (which seems completely wrong when you try it!) and with one hand balancing the other, I eventually got the hang of it. We examined the stones in their raw state, various stages of cut and polish, and then as they’re used within the exquisite pieces in the Astley Clarke collections –  morganite, labradorite, tourmaline, ruby, amethyst, chrysoprase, hematite, aquamarine – nothing escaped our inspection (or lustful gaze!)

The Coquette Bride_3884

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— { earrings } —

It wasn’t long before we were lost in stories of secret Indian market deals, explorers parachuting into remote jungles to drill for pockets of undiscovered gems, hidden mines and much more. My grandfather has long had an interest in coloured gemstones and amassed quite a collection for my grandma over his lifetime’s visits to india and the east for work. He’ll wax lyrical on the subject matter for hours, so it was a treat to find out more from an expert, especially a woman in what is predominantly a male industry. Indian gemstone dealers won’t have any women working in their offices as it’s considered bad luck, and the work can have an element of danger involved.

The Coquette Bride_3885

— { ring, earrings } —

The Coquette Bride_3886
— { left pendant, right pendant } —

At the end of the evening, we stepped out into the evening light with sparkles in our eyes, gemstone books under our arms and goodie bags in our hands. The minute I got home I passed the geek on to my sister, regaling her with ‘did you know’s’ all evening. Thank you Astley Clarke for a truly wonderful evening.

P.S. this is not a sponsored post, I just love Astley Clarke, their products, their customer service and their passion for what they do.  

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TRY TRY AGAIN

Paddle Surfing

— { image via Women’s Health Mag } —

I’m back! I know I’ve been gone a while (I’m not even going to count how long) and I know any excuses would only seem lacklustre (insert standard blogger paragraph about email mountain this and client work that and family crap the other, blah, blah, blah.) When I logged on the other day and took a look at my recent stats and traffic, the first thing that jumped out at me was that someone had come across my site by googling “who said ‘I am the pirate who doesn’t touch anything’? I like to think that on the blog of the blogger who doesn’t blog anything, they found their answer.*

So, how about we kick things off for the umpteenth time with a story? (And my apologies for the language. Kind of.)

A couple of months ago I was in California visiting family, and asked a friend to teach me to paddle board. I always thought that it looked quite easy (I know, you’re probably laughing at me right now, but I honestly thought it couldn’t be that hard), and it looked like my kind of exercise (the kind where you don’t do much but just chat to your friends and enjoy the sunshine). WRONG. Damn that shit is hard. After I’d fallen in twice and flailed around in dark water that scared the crap out of me, I realised that this was a mountain I wasn’t going to conquer (at least not today), and I should just sit back and enjoy the view from the foothills. Those who know me will attest that I do not take failure well. When someone finished a test quicker then me for the first (and only!) time in my make up artist training I actually cried about it I was so pissed off.

But, I climbed back on my board (took some doing, let me tell you), and sitting cross legged with paddle in hand, I followed my friends out of the marina towards a buoy of sea lions, from there we paddled over to the wharf and bobbed around in the cool dark shadows amongst the giant posts, counting starfish. And you know what? I’m pretty sure I enjoyed the ride just as much as I would have had I stepped onto that board and nailed it first time. Oh, and just as we were paddling back to the dock, I felt my gold thumb ring, that hasn’t been taken off for 10 years, slip from my hand and *plink* into the ocean. I think this wound me up more than the not being good at something.

You’re thinking that maybe there’s more to this story? You’re not wrong. The last month in the real world has been more than a little unsettling. A whirlwind move saw me moving into a proper home for the first time in over 2 years (there’s only so long a girl can make living like a gypsy look glamorous) and there have been some serious disruptions in my professional life too. Something I had spent 2 years pouring my heart and soul (not to mention hours and hours of time and effort) into was taken away from me quite unceremoniously. I’m sure that with some distance and a good dose of motivational quotes from Pinterest, I’ll soon start to see it as a blessing. ‘Some things fall apart so that better things can fall together’ and so on… I’m pretty much done with feeling angry, sad and above all disheartened (people really can be the worst).

The moral of this story? I’m gonna go with ‘learn to enjoy falling off your paddle board’, because if I said what I really wanted to say I’d probably get into trouble.

So, a new horizon, new projects in the pipeline and the faintest shimmer of a silver lining.  Let’s finish with a nice picture of some stripes. They make everything better…

Stripes

— { image }–

*the answer, of course, is Drop Dead Fred. And you all knew that, right?

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HOME COMFORTS | REBECCA ATWOOD BLAUVELT COLLECTION

I know I’m a little late to this game, but I’m not gonna let a 2 month blogging ‘hiatus’ stop you folks from seeing the beautiful creations of Brooklyn-based designer and artist Rebecca Atwood.

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Inspired by water and waves, city shadows and paint splatters, a vintage scarf from her great aunt, and compositions started in her sketchbook, the pieces are designed to be casually elegant, but practical, meant to be lived with and enjoyed.  They are made of durable, but soft, natural fabrics including cotton canvas and twill, as well as natural and chambray linen.

The colour sand fabrics used are classic and timeless, but the unusual combinations put a modern twist on them.

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Rebecca’s blog is also worth a visit for a dose of visual inspiration.

All images by Nicole Fanzen via Rebecca Atwood.

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SHOP STYLE | WEDNESDAY WISHLIST

Wishlist 22 May

{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 }

 

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SHOP STYLE | DON’T SWEAT IT HONEY

Currently obsessed with sweatshirts and in particular, those with a little typographical touch…

 

Sweatshirts

Although these cut-out numbers are starting to sneak onto my radar too. Love a little high/low mix!

Boy Scouts // Live Fast // Off Duty // Lover // Cream // Navy

 

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VANITY FAIR | LANCOME VIRTUOSE MASCARA

Lancome Virtuose Mascara

 

I’ve blogged before about my favourite mascaras, but there are a few new kids on the block looking to knock them of their perch, and first up is Virtuose from Lancome. Purchased in a duty free hustle, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d been a fan of Hypnose for a long time, but had given it up when something better came along (I forget what, I’m not much of a mascara monogamist).

The mascara is billed by Lancome as providing ‘Beautiful all day curve with divine length’. Well, I’ll certainly admit that the ‘all day’ bit is true. This stuff does not come off. Even when you want it to. Granted, there’s no drop down during the day which is a real bonus, but removing it takes some work. Cleansing wipes, soap and water, eye make up remover – they just don’t cut it. So I was relieved to discover that my new cleanser – L’Oreal Skin Perfection 15 Second Miracle Cleansing Oil was effective, otherwise I’d be waking up with waxy stuck together eyelashes for the rest of eternity!

So, to the curve and length – It’s certainly easy to create a nice sweep on the lashes, but I would put that down to the curved brush rather than any magic in the formula, and length-wise, there’s not a huge difference, but I think the plus here is the ‘thin’ formula of the product, which doesn’t go on thick and clumpy, creating the illusion of long, slender lashes.

All in all, I have to admit that I’m a fan and this might just be a new favourite.

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FINGER LICKIN’ | PICNIC SEASON

It’s finally picnic season and I could not be happier, I LOVE picnics! BBQs are great, but picnics are so damn easy and, for a sloth like me, eating while you lay under a tree in dappled sunlight is pretty much as good as it gets. Not to mention the fact that picnics are insanely easy to prepare – if you’re really not into cooking, then all you need to shop well and it’s job done (same goes for cheese boards).

I had my first picnic of the season a couple of weeks ago, we had cheese, olives, pistachios, hard-boiled quail’s eggs, chorizo, broad beans with lemon and ricotta on garlic bruschetta, warm roasted chicken and lemon and herb cous cous. It was pretty damn good, I don’t mind telling you! And I’m already planning the next, so I was smitten with this photo shoot when I stumbled across it on Roost. Shot for Kinfolk magazine, it perfectly sums up how simple and heavenly a picnic can be…

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{ images by Caitlin @ Roost }

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LESSONS LEARNED

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— { image } —

Sometimes the internet is just the place to find that ass kickin’ dose of tough love that deep down you know you need (the other place is my friend Candice, she’s good. Really good.).

99U is one of my favourite sites for just such a butt-kicking, from the practical to the existential, and everything in between, they’ve got it covered. Last week I found myself bookmarking 2 of their posts and returning to them more then once to remind myself of the wisdom within…

An excerpt from the new 99U book, featuring, amongst others, Seth Godin…

Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done. There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better. Tactics are idiosyncratic. But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.

The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.

There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice. For example, some people wear a white lab coat or a particular pair of glasses, or always work in a specific place—in doing these things, they are professionalizing their art.

The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.

I was instantly reminded of Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, where she talks about ritual and routine as ways to kickstart your day, to slip into your creative routine and maintain momentum.

It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, my life at the moment is the opposite of routine and ritual. I don’t really have a home, my time is split almost 50/50 between Devon and London so I’m constantly on the move, and there has been so much family upheaval in the last 18 months that as a family (both immediate and extended) we’re still trying to figure out the new normal. At the moment, nothing is permanent.

So routine & ritual? I should be so lucky! Along with a home, it’s the one thing I would wish for if I had a magic lamp in my hands right now.

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— { image } —

Of course, all this upheaval, travel, change and general stress can take it’s toll on a girl, and at times I find myself projecting that anxiety onto other people.

Empathy, and trying to think more kindly of people I have no real knowledge of is something I’m try to do more of (much to the frustration of some people who seem to think it’s just me being contrary or argumentative). But under duress, snap judgements of people become much easier than putting the effort into considering the alternatives (have you read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell? Brilliant book.). So I was happy to come across this excerpt from a 2005 commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace, urging listeners to live life mindfully and to have empathy for our fellow humans:

Most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible.

It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.

I’m also sure that thinking better of other people can only help you think better of yourself in the long run. And that has to be a good thing, right?

Here endeth Monday’s lesson! x

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VANITY FAIR | ROYAL APOTHIC @ ANTHROPOLOGIE

Confession: I am a bit of a perfume junkie. Left unchecked, I could easily amass a collection of flacons and atomisers that would rival that of any large perfume hall. Smell is so evocative and so incredibly personal, and a good ‘wardrobe’ of scents can help tie together a look and add a layer that makes it multi-dimensional.

So, it was with glee that I tripped along the King’s Rd last night to attend the launch party of the Royal Apothic pop-up shop in The Gallery at Anthropologie. The event also marked the launch of a bespoke frangrance to mark the historic centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a stone’s throw from the store. Antiquarius Petals is the creation of Royal Apothic’s ‘nose’ Sean O’Mara, and he was on hand last night to talk guests through the creation of the new scent along with the rest of the Royal Apothic collection.

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Antiquarius Petals is inspired by stately homes, gardens and abundant blooms of the flower show and named after the historic and well-loved Antiquarius building in which Anthropologie’s Chelsea store stands. Infused with top notes of blackberry with citrus tones of grapefruit, mandarin and tangerine whilst floral mid notes of jasmine, orange blossom, violet and rose resonate. The base notes of patchouli, eucalyptus, sandalwood and exotic musk and vanilla bring a sensuous quality to the fragrance – reflecting a quintessential Chelsea Summer’s day.

Of course, there weren’t the only ‘flowers’ on display, the brilliant Flower Appreciation Society were also on hand to create bespoke floral head dresses for attendees…

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And there were floral cocktails in abundance (the violet gin fizz was amazing!) to help with the retail therapy…

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If you’re a perfume lover, then I’d highly recommend you hustle on down to SW3 while Royal Apothic are in residence, and snap up a bottle (or two, or three…)

Royal Apothic at The Gallery, Anthropologie
139 King’s Rd, London SW3 4PW
Open 16th May – 30th JUne

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SHOP STYLE | ZARA PRINTED QUILTED CARDIGAN

Zara PRINTED QUILTED CARDIGAN

Dear Zara,

Yes, yes and thrice yes. Sister, you need this. Maybe the shorts too.

x

 

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