Sunday 29 December 2013

New Year Party Dress Sale 2014

Merry Christmas one and all - I hope you had as much fun as me over the past few weeks with your nearest and dearest. 

However, the devouring of mince pies and inhaling of mulled wine is certainly not over yet.

With New Year's Eve approaching, this is the time to don your finest frock and party like it's 2014. But if you're a little stuck, here is the Sale Edit, hand picked by me to help you see in the new year in undeniable style - and at lovely prices, too.

Whatever you get up to on the 31st, have a wonderful time. I wish you a very Happy New Year.

Go forth and sparkle!

















Thursday 19 December 2013

Miss Selfridge Limited Beaded Lace Dress Christmas Party

It's probably fair to say that, in recent years, Miss Selfridge became a name I associated with my teenage years. As Topshop swelled the ranks and swept across the UK and international fashion scene, becoming popular with girls, women and celebrities alike, Miss Selfridge struggled to keep up with the pace.

But in recent seasons that has started to change and the culmination of this new direction is the gorgeous range of limited edition party wear. From floaty frocks to daring body cons; from sequins to lace, the range has all your Christmas party needs sorted. And the dress I've chosen for this month is the Beaded Lace Pencil dress. 

I've already worn it once to The Ritz and it received several compliments, (the fiancé loved it, too). It shapes and moulds in all the right places and the subtle waistband provides definition for your curves (even if, like me, you're a little straight up and down). The midi length makes this the perfect choice for both day and night occasions. 

The embellishment is the best bit - it reminds me of art and craft lessons at school, when yoghurt pots were filled with sparkling treasures - beads, sequins and buttons - and we'd stick as many as possible onto our work. Only this is more grown up and the amount of sparkle is just right. This dress is better still, because the light purple shade works well for festive parties, but it will also carry you through many weddings and events throughout the whole year.

What to wear it with:

I opted for bare legs and purple shoes, but nudes would work well. You could go for charcoal tights (black would be too harsh) and sparkly shoes.

Keep jewellery to a minimum and wear earrings and a bracelet. A bright pinkish red lipstick will add a flick of colour.

It isn't a snip at £195, but as long as those beads stay intact, this dress will be worth every penny.  


More beautiful embellished dresses from Miss Selfridge:


Pink Sequin Flapper Dress, £150




Red Flapper Dress, £190



Teal Flapper Dress £170



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Monday 9 December 2013

The Nutcracker Christmas theme decoration party

Decking the Halls

We do a lot of entertaining around Christmastime and I love decorating our little postage stamp with beautiful things to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Often the trickiest part is deciding on the general 'theme'. This does not mean I go out and buy a new set of decorations every year to suit my whim, rather I try to give a subtle nod and wink to a Christmas story.

I take my inspiration from traditions of Christmas past combined with nature. We're fortunate enough to live between the commons, so a crisp walk often provides me with lots of my ideas. 

This year we chose The Nutcracker. This is perhaps my favourite Christmas story, for it encompasses the essential ingredients of merriment: magic, dancing and childhood belief.

I thought about the key elements of the story: a majestic Christmas tree, snowflakes, dancing and of course the Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy. And this is what I came up with:





From top left (clockwise): red gown (£50 Charity Shop); card (£2.50, Bronte Parsonage and Museum); musical snow globe (£20, Gisela Graham); Cake Stand (£25 for a painting session at a local pottery cafe); Santa Russian Doll (£1.50 from a market in Goa, India); star tea-light holder (Cox&Cox); Bowl (White Company); wooden angel (local craft fair); Nisa man (£7.95 York); Star (handmade by my Mam); Clara and the Nutcracker (Halinka's Fairies); Christmas cake (my own, decorated with trees, ballerinas and edible glittery stars - decorations available from any good craft/cook shop).

Merry Christmas! x
On earth peace 
Good will toward men.


Thursday 5 December 2013

Lucy Choi Wedding Shoes Jimmy Choo Gold Sequin


It's a cliche, but I think Cinderella is probably my favourite Disney princess. 

I love Sleeping Beauty's hair and I still can't decide which colour I prefer for her dress, (probably the blue); Belle has that massive library and ladders to swing around on; Ariel has the best songs, the best hair and I love that sparkly dress at the end. 

But Cinderella has the glass slippers. And I defy any woman to tell me she doesn't secretly hope to one day be the owner of the foot that fits into that glass slipper.

I know, I know, it's Disney and I'm now apparently a grown-up. And really - glass slippers would be hideously uncomfortable.

But they are dazzling.

Sparkly shoes have never really gone out of fashion, but they're certainly enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity at present. From glitter and sequins to chain mail-effect, sparkle is back in a big way.

Enter Lucy Choi, niece of shoe God, Jimmy Choo. 

If you haven't heard about this woman, you must have been living under a rock. Or a mountain of dull shoes. Either way, you need to acquaint yourself - sharpish.

I visited the Telegraph Shopping Event at Fenwick Bond Street last night. As I walked in, style guru Hilary Alexander casually handed me a leaflet, then after drifting upstairs amid a delightful haze of mulled wine and mince pies, I saw the most beautiful shoes in London. 

So in awe was I that when the female assistant dressed in a black lace and sequin-embellished dress asked if I needed any help, I vacantly replied, 'no, thank you,' then returned to admiring them.

A couple of mulled wines later, my willpower abandoned me as I realised I most certainly DID have an excuse to try on the shoes: my wedding. And with this clarity of thought came the realisation that the aforementioned well-dressed 'assistant' was in fact Lucy Choi herself!

See, wine is good for the memory after all.

The shoes I tried on were the glittering gold 'Venice' courts - complete with big gold bows. They fit like a dream and felt as though I were walking on cotton wool. The heel height is 60mm, which is perfect for occasions when you're going to be on your feet (and dancing!) while also being high enough to lengthen your pins. I was sold.

As I gushed to Lucy and one of the shop assistants (and just about everyone else within earshot) about our wedding plans, the fiancé was having palpitations at the prospect of the price. Imagine his relief and delight when he discovered they were £200 (no, not cheap - but, when paying for excellent craftsmanship and comfort, this is very reasonable) - and with the 20% discount they were £160 AND even better - I received a free matching clutch. Wheee!

Cinderella, eat your heart out: my shoes are sparkly AND comfy.

I'm very cross that I have to wait until October to wear them, but it will be worth it when I'm still dancing in the early hours of the morning. However, I think in the meantime - you know, just to ensure I don't wear them before the wedding - I may need to buy another pair. 

I've got my eye on these...

A gorgeous shade of steel-blue and sparkly, too. The unashamedly perfect party shoes.

Electric blue works so well at this time of year, reflecting the beautiful night skies as winter closes in. These shoes will add an edge to any outfit and provide a cool transition from work to play. 

Very on-trend and ideal for those who don't fancy donning an entirely tartan outfit. These shoes will dance you through to the New Year in style. 

So wonderful I could cry! Sexy, daring and guaranteed to receive many envious double-takes. 

This demure design is reminiscent of ballet shoes and conjures magical remembrances of snowflakes and sugarplums. Perfect for a bride, or to add a touch of added elegance to your winter frocks.

Described as the 'ultimate princess shoe'. Yep.

Teamed with black tights these are the perfect mix of court and ankle boot. I noticed Lucy was wearing these last night and they added a sharp finish to her lace dress. These will be your wardrobe staple for years to come.

(All images: http://lucychoilondon.com)

I don't know about you ladies, but I think it's time to write my letter to Santa...


Follow me at @spruceorpine

x













Friday 29 November 2013

Recipe: How to make peppermint creams

Peppermint Creams


This is the easy to follow recipe I used to create the gifts for my bridesmaids.

Makes: 50 approximately 

Ingredients: 

520g Icing sugar (plus extra for rolling out)
1/4 lemon juice
1 tbsp peppermint flavouring
1 egg white
1 small bar of dark chocolate
Greaseproof/baking parchment 
Cutters
Whisk
Scales
Rolling pin
1 large bowl
Tray
Board/work surface 

Watch out - this is messy work! 


Step 1
Crack an egg and put the egg white into a large mixing bowl. This can be done by swapping the yolk between each shell half several times. Be sure not to get any yolk in your bowl. Whisk the whites until stiff. Tip: you should be able to move the bowl side to side without the egg white moving.


Step 2
Measure out the icing sugar, then sieve it into the mixing bowl.


Step 3

Add the peppermint essence and lemon juice. Remove pips if you accidentally get any in your mixture. Whisk gradually until it all comes together. This might take a couple of minutes, but don't be tempted to speed up as this will cause icing sugar to fly everywhere.


Step 4

Put the combined mixture onto a board covered in lots of icing sugar (also sieved). Don't use tour work surface as the icing sugar makes this tricky to clean. If your mixture looks too much like this (above) you need to roll it around in icing sugar until it looks more like this:


Step 5

Coat your rolling pin with a liberal layer of sieved icing sugar and roll out your mixture. You can do this to your preferred thickness, but I think thinner is best so I aim for 25mm, (no, I don't measure it).

Step 6

Cut your shapes - stars and circles work well. Place these on a parchment-lined tin and refrigerate for approximately two hours.

Step 7

Ten minutes before you remove your peppermint creams from the fridge, melt a bar of dark chocolate on a plate over a pan of boiling water. Pour this over your shapes in whatever way you like (but avoid getting chocolate onto the parchment as it's very difficult to extract the peppermint creams if this has happened). Refrigerate again for 30-45 minutes.

Step 8

Wrap a bundle of jolly chocolatey peppermints in pretty tissue paper and put into a gift box. A simple, but thoughtful end delicious present. Alternatively, use this to make your invitations.


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~x~







Handmade, Personalised Bridesmaid Invitations

This week I asked three of my wonderful friends to be my bridesmaids. Yay!

I mulled over how to do this for far too long (I do enjoy making a faff) - quite the opposite to my fiancé who asked two of his friends to be his best men as I flipped pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. It wasn't the sort of moment I'd imagined, but the boys were more than happy.

But that was never going to work for me. I wanted to tell the girls why I wanted them to be such an important part of our day, but without soppy gushiness. Our friendships are, after all, based on a sturdy foundation of hilarious stories, lots of laughter and shared confidences. 

Then this idea popped into my head and I wanted to share it with you because it made them smile. 

Peppermint creams and bridesmaid storyboard

                     

What you need:

A5 watercolour paper (or similar) - one piece per bridesmaid,
Gold pen,
Ribbon,
A little patience and a good memory...


Step 1

Choose between 8 and 12 memories of you and your friend. I needed to sketch these out before drawing them onto the watercolour paper. Draw arrows to link them chronologically to trace your 'story'. Stick people work well - and they're easy peasy!







Step 2

On the back, write the same invite, which should include the date and perhaps some tongue-in-cheek 'bridesmaid duties'. 


Step 3 

Roll up the invitations and tie them with a 'to have and to hold' (or other pretty) ribbon.






Step 4


To finish, I put them inside a woven heart with a parcel of homemade peppermint creams. 


And there we are. A lovely personalised bridesmaid invitation for each of your girls.




~x~




Wednesday 20 November 2013

Mother of the Bride Autumn Winter Stylish Unusual Wedding Outfits

My post earlier in the year on stylish and unusual mother of the bride outfits received such a great response that I've been asked to write another one for autumn/winter weddings. If you're reading this as a future Mother of the Bride - CONGRATULATIONS! And well done for looking for an outfit that breaks the typical 'MoB uniform' mould; I hope you find something here to inspire you.

First thing's first, ladies - dress to suit YOU. Secondly, dress to suit the WEATHER.

My wedding (yay!) is due to take place in Northumberland in October next year and so no, it's not likely to be warm...or even mild, for that matter. Therefore, my Mam has opted for a three quarter length dress and velvet coat. She's also bought a felt Whiteley hat and will wear tights and gloves. She will look beautiful because a) the outfit is stunning and b) she'll be comfortable and not freezing to death in the church as she waits for me to show up.

Some of you might be thinking my mother is super organised as she has her outfit one year in advance, but actually this is really the only way to do it. By waiting until next year, you will find your only choices are from the spring/summer collections - so, by buying your outfit now, you will be saving yourself from dressing in a flowery dress and flimsy hat and teaming them with blue arms and legs.

Colours: 

Plums, purples, navies, greens, golds and reds are a good way to go. Don't discount charcoal shades either. Pewter is a gorgeous shade and don't forget - Kate Middleton wore black to a friend's wedding a couple of years ago and looked the epitome of elegance. Opt for luxe fabrics such as silk, taffeta, tulle and lace. Embroidery and sequins will add a special touch.

Style:

Think about how formal the wedding will be and dress accordingly. Go for a classic style - nothing dates wedding photographs more than hyper-on-trend dressing. 
Tips: Sweetheart necklines are a great option for flat chested and bigger busted women alike and are guaranteed to flatter. Three-quarter length sleeves are stylish, flattering and warm. Skirt length should be between just above the knee and ankle length, but think about your height here. If you have slim calves then a midi will work well. 

Accessories:

A coat is a definite must for autumn/winter weddings. Frock coats (knee length) are particularly elegant and are very much back in fashion. 

Hat: Always a must for a wedding. Consider felt designs as these are chic and practical.

Gloves: Leather, fur, cashmere are all good choices. Make sure the colour compliments your coat/hat.

Bag/clutch: If you don't have any sparkle in your outfit, the purse is the perfect opportunity to add some.

Shoes: Again, if you don't have any sparkle in your outfit, treat yourself to some glitzy shoes. Make sure the height is suitable to walk around in for a long time. Top tip: wear them with thick socks around the house a couple of times before the day. That way the leather will have softened. More accessories here.

The Blackberries


Embroidered Jersey Dress, Maxmara, £245


Infinity Bead Flapper Dress £325 Jigsaw



Alberta Dress, Libelula, £325

Tabitha Dress, Monsoon, £169





Tuesday Dress, Vivienne Westwood, £455


Sliwa Dress, Libelula, £335

The Rubies


Spot Flower Beaded Georgette, Libelula, £245

Layla Lace Dress, Monsoon, £119

Embroidered Tulle Fitted Dress, Jigsaw, £139

Phase Eight £179

Monday Dress, Vivienne Westwood, £430


The Emeralds


Ivonne Dress, Fenn Wright Manson, £200

Eliza J ¾ Ruched Waist Dress, House of Fraser, £91

The Charcoals:


Eliza J Spot Mesh 1950s Dress, House of Fraser, £91

Organza Boat Neck Dress, Orla Kiely

Per Una  Speziale Embellished Sparkle Dress, M&S, £149

Saturday Dress, Vivienne Westwood, £620


The Golds


Halton Dress, Vivienne Westwood, £525

Hobbs Invitation Tamsin Dress, £159.20

Wrap Dress, Issa, £565

Cerys Fitted Dress, L K Bennett, £185

Beatrix Dress, Libelula, £799



~x~