Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 28 October 2011

What a week...moments of greatness and moments of mundane all rolled into one. My youngest has been ill so we have spent a fair few days holed up at home, passing the time with DVDs and baking. Tough for my eldest who has had to sit it out with him some of the time, but entertained herself with puppy obstacle courses; that puppy can really learn! So cute to see them out in the garden together - she and the dog. I get these moments when, despite the additional work of having a puppy and the walks that are required each day, I see her and remember this is why we did it. He has rocked her world.

Can I just say...the dress...was after all not fate! There was one left and it was damaged so I received a very apologetic email (even more apologetic when I directed the lovely people at Purple Haze Couture to my blog post!). They are trying to source another but so far, no news. Ah well, maybe it wasn't meant to be!

I have thought about your comments on natural beauty and taken stock; we have to make role models if they don't readily present themselves. I think this is just the adjustment for me from raising a young girl to raising a young woman; it's a shift of thinking but I love that there are a host of friends out there who have advice for me. Thank you.

This weekend we are seeing friends and laying low; embracing the autumnal season, carving pumpkins and eating (more) apple crumble...the detox starts next week :-)

photograph by stephanie rausser

photograph by jamie beck

Ralph Lauren show...photograph by jamie beck

Oh Olivia P...

painted by Jessica Cooper

Diane Kruger

impossibly lovely chocolate bisque via canelle et vanille

...vintage Molly Ringwald...oh the 80s, I heart you.

...ever gorgeous Giovanna Battaglia, editor of Italian Vogue

...I like the utility and the antique together...

...couldn't resist...aren't greyhounds just so...calming?

Role models...

posted on: Wednesday, 26 October 2011

I spent three hours in the hairdressers on Saturday (covering grey; ugh) and killed some of that time reading magazines like 'OK and 'Hello'. This used to be a guilty pleasure where I'd catch up on my celebrity gossip. This time, despite reading four or five back-copies, I could hardly say my awareness of celebrity gossip has increased.

The pages were full of people I had simply never heard of! It's not that I have dropped off the face of the planet; it's because I don't watch the reality TV shows like 'The Only Way is Essex'. I sunk deeper and deeper into my chair whilst looking at the pictures of these girls. Inflated, exaggerated versions of young teens and women; dressed in platform heels with teased hair and too much make-up. Every other page they were there: pouting.

I know we blame the media for making women feel bad about themselves and, as I have a daughter and two nieces, this is something I am acutely conscious of. But for me these girls represent something different. This is not enticing girls to be slim; this is enticing girls to look like, well you work it out. I found it disturbing. The whole look is not about beauty or individuality or anything that tangible, it's about being a carbon-copy pneumatic big hair/small dress girl.

iconic image from Vogue
When I was growing up my media role models were supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista. So beautiful they made my heart ache but at least versions of themselves that were not surgery-enhanced (not then anyway, and I believe not even now). At least they looked natural; albeit a form of natural beauty that very few women are blessed with.

Linda Evangelista
I am left with a feeling of disquiet about these new role models. They are not women; they look like exaggerated dolls (and not in a good way). Then I I just subject to nostalgia about my youth and my role models? Never ever did I see Molly Ringwald in sky-high platform stilettos and too much make up...what place does natural beauty have now?

Molly Ringwald...natural beauty

The fate of a dress...

posted on: Monday, 24 October 2011

I am quite particular about clothes; I have said before, I like certain things from certain places and have been known to covet a dress for months. If I really, really like it, I will chalk up all sorts of elaborate reasons why it must be mine and have been known to asset-strip our house and sell on eBay in an effort to earn to secure some item or another. It rarely backfires and I have got to the point where I am so sure of an item's suitability that I then keep it for years. I have dresses in my wardrobe that all have a story; I recall each purchase and keep each dress for years and years.

via pretty stuff
Playing in this fatalistic dance most recently is a velvet evening dress from Sienna Miller's own line twenty8twelve. I spotted it last year and could not afford it. I knew I would love it and it would love me, but at the time it was not a possibility. Then I forgot all about it and the seasons changed and that velvet dress was no longer at the forefront of my mind. Now the weather has turned and again velvet seems appropriate. This is where the immediacy of e-commerce takes my breath away. I remember a time when there was no Internet; there was no way to track anything down unless you had seen it, locally, with your own eyes. So google found the dress and wait, it was in the sale (it's so last season, you see). There was only one left. It was in my size. Need I go on? That dress was meant to be mine...

...said dress...
So it's on order - a leap of faith as I have never seen it in the flesh. I just know that it's my cuppa tea. And most of all I like that it took me a year to be able to get it. There has to be a life lesson in there somewhere.

I write this somewhat self consciously in the knowledge that the debate (battle) of differing opinion rages on whether serious and intelligent women can be interested in fashion. Are dresses just frippery? Does wanting this particular dress make me less of a serious person? Does this sort of dress-coveting make me vacant or shallow? These are the questions...but meantimes I'll be waiting for the postman...

via pretty stuff

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 21 October 2011

I write a lot about my children and my life and my home but rarely about my husband. Odd, as he is of course such a big factor in my life. At the moment he is working very hard and Monday to Friday has become a time when we pass each other in the hallway and I long ago it seems that we were away together on holiday. I miss him. It's a double edge; half of me wants to support him utterly and be the dutiful corporate wife. The other half of me wants to say - was this the deal? Did we choose this? We hardly never see each other!

I loved the comments I got this week, especially those recommending new blogs to read. It was wonderful to cast that net and get such a response. Almost without fail I loved them all - so I guess that shows we all like the same thing. One though was particularly notable as the writing is just...heart-achingly good. It's this blog and as the writer Meg says, she likes to pen notes to the man she will marry. Don't think she's met him yet - but it got me thinking, if I was writing to my husband many years ago what would I ask for?! Certainly one proviso would be time together on a fairly regular basis! Isn't it ironic that we marry for love and then work hard for the future and in the process spend less and less time together?

Atleast it's the weekend and that means family time and chilling out and togetherness...

photograph by olivia graham

via copenhagen cycle chic

London...this is where my husband always seems to be...I miss him...

via skona hem

via luna and chloe weddings

via here

I like this; a bit much for the school run maybe but still...via crush cul de sac

photograph by aaron delesie

photograph by elizabeth messina

via atlantic pacific

photograph by emma lee

Its how I feel,,,via better than fine

Slugs and snails and puppy dogs' tails...

posted on: Thursday, 20 October 2011

I have a moth infestation in my house. I keep thinking that I am going to open a cupboard to find my woollens eaten right through. It started as an innocuous presence in my lounge and has now moved to full-scale house invasion. One extermination has not worked; we now move to the second stage. The man with the chemicals is returning. This can't be good with children and a puppy in the house. I feel like we should hold our breath. The moths in question are called woolly bears! Seriously! This is not a joke. They really are. Oh the joys of (a house that is over 300 years old) home-ownership.

via beauty and grace
Meanwhile, in IKEA, both of my children demonstrated that they are are products of their environment. Nature/Nurture? I think I have nurtured two little monsters judging by their behaviour. Am I the only mother whose offspring take on a 'Veruca Salt' quality when in large retail establishments? We all know what happened to Veruca salt; she was a bad nut and she went down the chute. Thank goodness for Roahl Dahl - that's all I can say. When they act this way all I have to utter is 'Veruca' in a hushed voice and they know; they've gone too far. Nevertheless though, wouldn't it be wonderful to have gracious, grateful children? How can they want so much when they have so much? 

Oh Veruca...
In pursuit of the capsule wardrobe, I have embraced grey. This happens every autumn, when I decide that grey is the answer to all of my sartorial woes. The result is a a cupboard of (potentially moth-eaten) greyness...I have 15 versions of the grey knit; how many is too many? Must try a new colour...

via beauty and grace (great new recommended tumblr)
Finally, what are little boys made of? Slugs and recall the rhyme. My son never fails to amaze me. That is all.

It's all about the detail...

posted on: Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Never before have the details in life seemed so noticeable to me. In almost every aspect of my little life, these details appear; that bit extra that makes something special. I have a friend who always says 'it's the detail!' when we shop for clothes. I am always the one looking for the best leather, the quirky detail, the right buttons.

Natalia Vodianova via a taste of blue
In motherhood, I see it's those little details that can make the day go more smoothly. Where I have have their favourite cakes as an after-school snack. At home, the meal that happens effortlessly but is made with the best ingredients and goes all to plan. The patience and coaching as I sit with them to do homework. I am noticing that given the time and pure dedication, it is possible for me to provide all of those little details.

Historically, I have always had a quiet awe for women who manage this. They are a certain type who are able to constantly stay one step ahead. When the children were smaller, these mothers were the ones who would (with a swish of a perfect ponytail) serenely draw out a nutritious snack and drink, where I would have forgotten mine and my toddler would have to chew on their own hands!

But...and I wouldn't be me if there wasn't a but...what is it all about?! Never before have I had the time or the inclination to be so bothered with these little details. Instead a perpetual inner dialogue in my head raged; always justifying why I couldn't make the perfect meal/be the best mother I could be/have lipstick and pretty dress on as my husband returned at the end of a busy work day. I railed against being too organised. But now I begrudgingly admit I judged those women whose day consisted of little else but managing these details. And look at me now; pot calling the kettle black.

There is a hint of Stepford wife-dom in my life at the moment, as I sense that I am subconsciously trying to make up for all my past wrongs. But the point is: they weren't wrongs exactly, they were just less-thans. I did less than I could have done, as I put priority into other areas; like time for myself or for my job.

via nantucket youth
I do enjoy the little details and it's a quiet thrill now to be able to provide them for my family...but I do wonder if it's unsustainable. All of this 'thinking' time is about me trying to establish how to live a life that does not burn the candle at both ends until everything is, frankly, well, extinguished. I read a book that is shiveringly accurate in its depiction of 'perfect' motherhood and its darker side. It's called 'This Perfect World'...and I have to say it was disturbing reading; for the degree to which I identified with these ΓΌber mothers.

I know to some readers this will seem like an unimaginable depth of navel-gazing. But I find myself really questioning these elements of life at this time.  We only get one chance at this; what is the best way to choose to live your life? Constantly striving for perfection or content with what you have? 

I am thinking the best place to start this fundamental life pondering is with a cuppa tea and a good book; I'll let you know if I find the answer but until then...

Who do you read?

posted on: Monday, 17 October 2011

I started reading blogs first...then I found myself wanting to leave a comment so I set up a blogger profile. Then I wanted to write, so I set up a blog. Then I made some blog friends so then I started to follow them. Then I started to follow others and others followed me. I spent a fair amount of time scanning around for new and exciting blogs and got to the point where I almost stopped reading the written word anywhere else. Magazines and newspapers became defunct; I got more immediate and wide-ranging enjoyment from blogs. Blogs were, and still are, the finger on the pulse. Most often I start sentences by saying 'I read somewhere...' and I realised I had read it on a blog.

if I were to partake in Manolo's; these would be them...via dustjacket attic
And so now I am an old hand. I have my favourite bloggers and I religiously follow them and love when the hit the 'post' button. I miss them when they go on holidays or take a break. I find myself wondering how they are, if something has happened that they have shared detail on. Similarly people leave me comments expressing the same sentiment about what they read on my blog; for example one friend saw Olivia P on TV and it made her think of me! (Love that) How funny and charming. It seems that there are things that are 'so Lou' that people associate with me.

via style me pretty
But I realise I have become somewhat stagnant with my reading. I think it's probably time I caught up and found some new places to visit.

Can you share any blog recommendations?

Which is your favourite blog? 
Which one do you rush to?

Which blog has the best writing? 
Which has the best images?

So c'mon share with me...won't you?

what a smile...via dust jacket attic
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