Category Archives: Reading Matter

books, magazines, blogs, websites, fanfiction, ezines, reviews

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Almost exactly a.month ago, the lovely Craftyguider awarded me the Liebster blog award… I was so excited! (Strictly speaking, she gave it to Project Pin Up, but that just gives me an excuse to drool over even more blogs and post about them over there too!) Thank you muchly lovely – it’s the first blog award I’ve ever had! Her blog and shop inspire me on a daily basis to get mine going again, and her tweets keep me sane and happy, along with the other Twitter mafia girls!


So, to accept the award I have to share with you five other blogs I love. If you know me, you’ll know I’m a blog addict so this is not an easy task!

Firstly, and fitting in with my new years resolution to cook more, is That’s Your Lot. Back in August, Laura bought 85 cookbooks at an auction, and promised to.make something from each of them in an effort to improve her cooking. I love the way she writes and how she handles even the most random of recipes :)

Next up, Mimi’s Little Sips Of Tea. Mimi has been blogging for six years, has written for Brocante Home and is the other half of Project Pin Up. She has a magical way with words, and her blog is like a little window into her life. Perfect to read with a cuppa and a biscuit – she’s a wonderful pick-me-up!

On Diversion – Jen has blogged for as long as I’ve known her, and while she was travelling for several months in early 2011, it was a wonderful way to keep up! She’s a natural writer and has a wonderful way of putting things. Her blog is now mainly focused on her ambitions as an author, but she also posts about her creative pursuits – she’s a fellow jewellery/bead fanatic and model horse collector :-)

Chloe’s shop and blog Slightly Triangle are hugely inspirational to me, as is the very talented Chloe herself. Started at around the same time as Ducking Fabulous, she makes the most gorgeous prints, stationery, decorations and mixed media collages. I particularly like her articulated paper horses she’s recently posted about. And she’s one if the most utterly lovely people I have ever had the good fortune to meet!

Last but not least, Becky from Dots and Spots is another massive inspiration… I’ve never met her, but the story of Dots and Spots and her posts that manage to incorporate family life, running the amazing growing business and fab photos give me new determination to succeed with my dreams too :-) And her products are gorgeous.

So there they are – give them a follow and a wave :)


Filed under Blogging, Blogs, Creating, Friends, Inspiration and inspiring things, Reading Matter, Recording, Staying in touch...

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I read this book while away with work at the golf Open in Deal. My godfather died during the week I was away, hence it’s taken me a while to publish the posts I wrote while I was down there.

It’s a while since I’ve read a book that’s made me smile, cry and laugh out loud. Which sounds like a cliché, but although these emotions often go through my head when reading a good book, it’s rare they escape as a snort of laughter, a smile I can feel or tears running down my face.

I’ve been meaning to read this since it came out, but it was such a favourite at the library and with book groups that it was never on the shelf for me to borrow! (I always think the highest accolade a book can have is to be forever borrowed by people, and incredibly worn from all the eager readers who have devoured its pages.)

I won’t spoil the plot for you, but suffice to say I’m also a massive fan of letters as a storytelling device. (Well, I love letters anyway – I wish my generation wrote more of them.) One of my all-time favourite books is 84 Charing Cross Road, and this is in a not dissimilar vein, of strangers finding each other and becoming great, lifelong friends through letters. (edited before posting to add that I send as many letters as I can, but I have already experienced the joy of making friends with people I have never met in person, through the wonder of Twitter. Perhaps that’s the 21st century equivalent?)

The exchange of letters, between various wonderfully-imagined characters who I dearly hope are based on real people, takes us to Guernsey just after the Second World War.

There are heartbreaking moments and moments of total joy – I urge you to go and read this book, if you haven’t already!


Filed under Books, Reading Matter

A gorgeous Saturday and now I’m off out dancing… apparently

Today’s been particularly gorgeous, clear blue skies and glorious hot sunshine, so I took the car and blasted down the A12 with the roof down and my music turned up loud, and arrived in Chelmsford in a spectacularly good mood. I picked up the book I’d ordered, got a few other errands and bits done, bumped into Apryl and Joseph, popped into the library and saw lovely Anastasia, who is blooming with pregnancy, and a couple of other lovely people, and most excitingly, bought the first few bits of stock for the relaunch of my shop! Squee! Ooh, and needed a new mascara, and accidentally bought ANOTHER red lipstick and matching lip pencil in Superdrug’s 3 for 2 deal… whoops!

Also randomly but massively inspired to customise some more of my shoes I don’t wear enough, so that’ll be a project for the next few weeks in between creating for the two new projects and, you know, living… washing etc. Crap, just realised I’ve forgotten to put my washing on. Whoops. Ah well, too late now, it’ll have to wait till tomorrow. I managed the washing up so I’m not a total slattern.

This week I’ve treated myself to Vintage Life magazine and the Burlesque Bible (which is also a magazine, a new one) – both of them full of masses of inspiration and happiness… made me muchly happy and full of ideas for lots of things. Sometimes I wish I could hit record on my brain, if I don’t have a notebook or my phone to hand I can’t write down the ideas I get at random times and then they just sort of disappear into the ether!

So this evening I’m off out into town to go dancing… promised a friend way back in February that I’d go out for cocktails and clubbing with her, and due in part to my busy schedule and in part to my inherent dislike of clubbing, this is the weekend we’ve planned it for! Now it’s here I’m actually quite looking forward to it, but I’m so tired already… must be getting old! Taxi is booked for 1am so it won’t be a massively late one… and I can at least lie in tomorrow, and/or finish off some designing in bed (thank goodness for laptops!)

Just been reading a really interesting discussion on my car club’s forum about the proposed 80mph speed limit – there are some unexpected points arising, and people on both sides of the rise, which I wasn’t expecting at all. I’m ambivalent at the moment, as there are some people that will always rush and go faster than they’re allowed to or is safe, and raising the speed limit isn’t going to slow them down. On the other hand, it would be great to know that if you have to put your foot down to get past a problem or a slower, dangerous driver hogging the middle lane, you’re not going to get done for speeding. But I don’t think it will stop the dangerous drivers and middle lane hoggers.

Right, enough waffling from me, need to go and sort out what the hell I’m wearing this evening! Have a lovely Saturday night folks :)

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Filed under Business Wafflings, Magazines, Planning, Reading Matter, Shopping

Just occasionally, I’m right in the zeitgeist

Yesterday, within another post, I posted a brief introduction to the Pinup Project. This is my attempt to look better all the time, and therefore feel better and get further. I do not subscribe to the thin-is-everything look, but I do want to be healthy and happy and yes, to turn heads on occasion. It’s my attempt to be a more polished version of myself, which I hope will have a positive effect on my life.

I’ve long thought that you can be strong, independent and career-minded, look fabulous while doing so and still ultimately want more traditional things like a partner and/or children. I can be quite forceful, when the subject arises among friends, about our rights to choose what we want – just because I’m not yet sure I want children, doesn’t mean I want to be a ballbreaking career woman married to the boardroom either. It’s all about the balance. And for women who are working, particularly in the City, I think it’s really important to hang onto your femininity – among the many things we can do equally or better than men, that’s the one they can’t even compete with.

I don’t think we should be ashamed of dressing up and wearing pretty things, be those things shoes, clothes, jewellery or makeup. It doesn’t affect our ability to work and it should differentiate us from the men who do similar jobs. A close friend of mine always wears a vintage dress, curled hair and red lipstick to work on dress down Fridays, and gets a lot of stick for being ‘so dressed up’ – when actually, that’s how she would like to dress all the time and only conforms to the office dress code in the week because it’s required in her contract. It’s as though turning up in anything but a shapeless suit during the week, or a tshirt and jeans on Fridays, is somehow against feminism. And I really couldn’t disagree with that more.

So it’s rather nice, all of a sudden, to find that my views are being backed up by Dr Catherine Hakim from the London School of Economics. She’s dubbed it ‘erotic capital’, and there is a halfway decent article on it here, written by Bryony Gordon (with whom I used to work in my design days).

The last time I was this close to the zeitgeist was when I wore a tshirt under a strapless dress because the air conditioning in the office was cold. I spent all day fending off compliments about how on-trend I was. But it is a good feeling to know there are others out there who feel the same way as I do on this particular issue, whether or not it’s a trendy topic or not.


Filed under Absorbing, Overheard, Reading Matter, Recording, Thinking

Rings true…

On reading the blog of a dear friend who I’d entirely forgotten had a blog of her own (that’s been going six years! SIX! I’m so impressed…) I found her words rang incredibly true, and just had to share them…

“To me, my blog is almost like a patchwork blanket that I work on from time to time. There have been times when I have not posted as often as I would like to, but having a blog never really goes away. I like that it is never finished, that I am always adding a little bit more here or there to it.”

This is a wonderful way of describing a blog, and indeed is how I feel about this one – I want it to be like a patchwork blanket of memories so I can look back on my life and see what I was doing, loving, thinking, making, creating :)

Her gorgeous blog is here Little Sips of Tea. Go and read :)


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Filed under Blogging, Blogs, Reading Matter, Recording, Thinking

Book: Contemporary Lingerie Design by Katie Dominy

So I mentioned this briefly in a previous post and promised a more in-depth look at it. It was a complete impulse buy, Lou and I wandered into this bookshop (shamefully I don’t remember what it was called, although I could walk you to it) just before we left Brighton (me to depart for Heather’s wedding, Lou to head home on the train). I wasn’t even looking for a book (inasmuch as I wasn’t looking for a specific book – I’m such an addict that I’m ALWAYS on the hunt for new books to read and to add to my collection).


We gravitated towards the fashion/design/craft section, as we always do, and spotted this.



I ummed and aahhed for about two seconds, then realised I had to have it, it was one of those kind of books. Gorgeously put together, interesting and informative, and actually relevant, I’ve been thinking about expanding both Ducking Fabulous and Checks and Roses to handmade floozy knickers for ages now. I say expand… I need to actually fill the shop up before I can talk about expanding.  Anyway.


So inside the book are interviews with lots of contemporary lingerie designers from all over the world. The interviews are interspersed with fabulous photographs, sketchs, inspiration, mood boards and so on which gives what feels like a real insight into the design process. Obviously more detail would be even more fabulous, but a book containing the level of detail I’m after would be about 1000 pages thick!


For obvious reasons (the skates… the SKATES!!), this is my favourite page of the entire book. But here are some more (gorgeous) spreads to give you an idea of what it’s like inside – for more you’ll have to buy the book!






I’ve found it incredibly inspirational from a business point of view as well as a designing-pretty-things-and-knickers point of view. Would love to know if any of you have also read it and what you thought, or if there are any other similar books out there – either around the same subject, or a similar layout and approach but a different subject!


Filed under Blogging, Books, Collecting, Inspiration and inspiring things, Photography, Reading Matter, Recording

Vintage/thrifted finds this week

A mixture of locations this week, I snuck into town while the boys were out playing golf just once during my time at the Open, but in the couple of hours I was there found an utterly gorgeous green tea dress with laced detail back. It is so unassuming on the hanger that I’ve failed to get a decent picture of it, but will put it on and shoot it soon :)

I also nearly bought a 50s tablecloth with pub signs on it from Vintage By The Sea, but couldn’t justify £25 on a tablecloth and the proprietor’s attitude changed a bit when she realised I was uncertain about buying it, which put me off. The shop, on the other hand, was so pretty I had to take photos (not very good ones, I admit):






Then while I was out with Mum on Saturday, I found:

Polka dot work dress:



Donkey cross stitch kit


Vintage glass jelly mould – which is going to look awesome in my kitchen!

jelly mould


Sewing book – this is both wonderfully nostalgic and completely hilarious, it has sections in it for things like ‘The Tummy-bulge Type!’ and ‘The Half-size, or Diminutive Type’ which cracked me up!


Inside detail:


I’m going to try and make something from this and see how good their advice is – it was published in 1958-1960 so will be interesting to see what’s changed (if anything!)


Also picked up a couple of particularly pretty scarves:


and of course there are my bottles and tin from Brighton. A good week for thrifting, I’m sure you’ll agree!

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Filed under Books, Clothes, Collecting, Interiors & home accessories, Shopping, Thrifting, Vintage, Wearing

Inspiring Brighton

I adore Brighton. I don’t go very often, but whenever I do I bounce around like a lunatic before the trip, and I’m just so excited while I’m there. It’s full of the most gorgeous shops, people and things.

This time, as before I went with lovely Lou, who is also fabulously inspiring. We had somewhat of a pin-up inspired day, and I came home with three prints and two sheets of wrapping paper covered in vintage style pin up ladies (my three prints are all Gil Elvgren, I have a book of his which I also adore). Photos of these are being withheld until I’ve finished redecorating my flat in August, as they feature quite heavily!

Following the theme, I found a beyond gorgeous book just before we left, about lingerie design and construction. Which sounds quite weird, but with Floozie Friday and all, and having a couple of talented sewists in my circle of close friends, I think it’s high time we branched out into making knickers! More of that to come… but here’s the book and its amazon link, everyone who loves sewing should own a copy. It’s almost like a blog in book form, beautifully put together.




Longer review to come :)

We found a cat in a (different) bookshop, too:


We did some of the antique/flea markets too (although I could happily spend six weeks doing those, I swear… I never see everything!) and Lou found the perfect vintage dress, while I found a fabulous tin that once housed saddle soap, and a collection of old glass bottles (which I really hope have survived the journey home from Brighton via Kent to Essex :S) Planning to display them in my living room, possibly as vases, possibly on their own. :)





How was I supposed to resist a glass bottle that said ‘Princess Alice’?! (centre of bottom row)

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Filed under Books, Collecting, Haul Posts, Inspiration and inspiring things, Interiors & home accessories, Reading Matter, Thrifting, Vintage

Meet a Shutterstock Contributor: Binkski

Stumbled across this, through an email I get to my work account updating me on stock images and illustrations.

The first photo, of the caravan and the horse, blew me away… the illustrations and other photos are also fabulous.

I *really* hope he has a blog!

Meet a Shutterstock Contributor: Binkski.

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Filed under Photography, Reading Matter, Recording