I'll Bring You Flowers.

When I was a sprightly young thing, my sole preoccupation on weekends and school holidays used to be associated with the climbing of huge trees. I am not quite as physically able as I once was yet I still cannot resist clambering over low hanging branches.

Still intent on wearing my self made things about the place, here I am in a dress that I made and my newest bag creation.

The dress is a very simple garment made with 2 types of black cloth. The lower section is bamboo silk and the upper section is a cotton crepe. The dress is sewn in a similar manner to kimono in that it is made of a series of rectangles and straight stitching. It was fun to make and it came together nicely. 

When making bags for my little shop, I always make the 1st one for myself. I then cart it about the place to see how it feels, how it works and how it holds. It serves as a sample from which I can make improvements upon. So, if ever you catch me staring at my bag......I am deep in thought and not quite mad, yet.

The Mahamri bag is my newest bag. I have called it thus because its shape is based on a Swahili donut that I enjoyed as a child.

Mahamri has a sort of fan shape to it and is larger and more roomer than any bag that I have made for my shop so far. I have made the bag so that it is firm but flexible and has double stitching throughout to give it extra strength at the seams.

I have lined the bag too. In this case, I have used a soft blue twill to match the outer floral linen print. The bag also has a magnetic clasp closure at the middle. After getting a feel for it and getting upset with my lack of foresight. I have made note and have gone on to make some improvements like making giving the bag a firm bottom! 

Puns aside, this gives extra strength to the bag and helps it hold its shape much better (not entirely different to humans come to think of it). I have also added a pocket for the safe keeping of small items like a phone and a little loop for the attaching of cuteness!

My Mahamri bag will be making an appearance in my shop in the next few days (though I may sneak one in later today). One by one they will pop up in various textures and colours as always they will be very limited in quantity. 

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who have been really encouraging along my chosen path these past few days. Your kindness has been immense and really helps to me push on with making new things. THANK YOU!

| Fushigi Shop | 

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Crush Me! I like it.

I have been scraping what little courage I can find lurking at the bottom of my barrel of bravery and sticking my two least polite fingers up at conventional clothing by wearing my attempts at dressmaking out in public,  slightly wonky hems and all!

Dressmaking is a skill that I am determined (with all my might) to master. I have a long long way to go but this is a satisfying road to plod upon and I am certain that the more I make, the more I will learn and with any luck...the better I will get!

I came across some linen going cheap in my local fabric shop. The colour of the cloth was a deep berry shade that I found impossible to resist.

I like linen. I like the soft way that it crushes and creases. I also like the way that it breathes, drapes, flows and moves. I  learned recently that linen is one of the oldest textiles used by man and there is evidence of linen production dating as far back 4000 years, it was even used to wrap ancient Egyptian mummies. Fast forward to today and it wraps me too!

I used the Merchant Mills Trapeze Dress pattern in a size up from my normal size because I like loose fitting clothes for the summer and also because I like dresses that can be layered and that also allow free and easy movement. (The photo above was taken as the wind was blowing so the dress looks more voluminous that it actually is)

I think the linen was a good pairing for this pattern. I am sorry that I have not shown the whole dress this time. It was just a bit too nippy for nekkid arms!

I wore my dress with black leggings from Tabio, white leather pumps from New Look a long sleeved T-shirt from Uniqlo and an open back blouse (4 sizes too big) from COS.

| Merchant Mills | Cos | Uniqlo | Tabio | 

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Cream Clean

My Beauty Diary is my favourite Taiwanese brand at the moment. I have long loved their sheet masks and I now find myself delving into more of their offerings as they continue to up their game and widen their skincare range.

| My Beauty Diary Aloe Amino Acid Cleanser |

The cleanser comes in a little tub much like one that might be filled with ice cream! 

The tub of stuff does comes with a little spatula in an attempt to keep things clean.  The cleanser is dense, thick and creamy much like ice cream, but unlike ice cream (at least none that have passed my lips), the cream is pearlescent . It has a gentle aloe fragrance and once water is added, it can be worked up into a really good soft lather.

I must say that I am surprised by this cleanser. It makes all sorts of skincare promises to brighten my skin with a gentle (non abrasive)exfoliation while maintaining moisture levels and after a few weeks use, I can happily report that it seems to be working. I enjoy the thorough clean that it provides, yes it takes a little more effort to wash all the suds off, but anything for a clean face!

The downside is that this is quite possibly the least shower friendly cleanser I have come across and I have to employ all sorts of odd acrobatics to prevent it turning into a sodden mess.

The Aloe Amino Acid Cleanser is supposed to be part of their limited edition Tea collection but I am still seeing plenty floating about in eBay.

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Fading Silence

East London is many things but quiet, it is certainly not!

It is okay to be quiet. It is also okay to walk in silence and fade into the hushed streets that people have forgotten.

I remember those days when east London was avoided. Its streets were genuinely "cool" and the folk who loitered upon them likewise. I am glad that I felt it while the nice vibe was still lingering in the air. It is an entirely different place now. Little feels genuine apart from these old old streets with their silent stories and the secrets that they keep.

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Murder, Mischief and Pandemonium.

I dedicated my morning to beads.

I have washed vintage ones, strung pearl ones and thrown a tantrum over uncooperative glass ones.

Eventually allowing myself to stop for a cuppa, I wondered what the collective noun was for a group of crows....

The noun in question is murder. A group of crows is as murder of crows. Isn't that wonderful? There are other such peculiar gems! Here are some that caught my fancy:

  • A drunkenship of cobblers
  • A hastiness of cooks
  • A piteousness of doves
  • A mischief of mice
  • A parliament of owls
  • A pandemonium of parrots
  • An ostentation of peacocks
  • A unkindness of ravens
  • A lamentation of swans

I do like fancy strings of words. They are just as precious to me as my beads.

What are your favourite unexpected collective nouns?

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Red Tomatoes

Napoli is very high up on my travel wish list. From what I hear and from what I read, it ticks plenty of boxes, good weather, food, architecture, rough around the edges, good food. Did I mention food?

Italian friends of ours mentioned that Rosso Pomodoro in Covent Garden serves pretty good food sometime ago. We eventually swung by last week.

+ Rosso Pomodoro, Covent Garden, London +

Hiro and I like people that love their food. We like people that care about good food and understand the joy of fresh seasonal regional ingredients. People who are passionate about the food from their homelands believing that it is the best food in the world, are our kind of people! We like people who cook with heart and serve food with pride. So it is that we have found an affinity with Italian people and we are always seeking out good Italian restaurants in the hope of learning more about this wonderful food culture.

Tagliatella - Taglietelle with minced meat in a tomato ragu served with parmesan cheese.

Perfectly cooked with a substantial sauce with a rich tomato taste. My only criticism is that the portion was quite mean. A little more would have been marvellous. You don't get such lively tasting tomatoes growing here.

Pizze Scarpetta - cherry tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan cheese shavings and fresh basil.

This was highly recommended by our waitress and she was not wrong. It was delightful. Rosso Pomodoro have their mozzarella and tomatoes flown in from Napoli twice a week and the fresh taste and sun-ripened juiciness must be testament to that.

Our beverages were also interesting. I had a Gazzosa which is made from lemons from the Amalfi. Hiro went for the Chinotto. In case you have never heard of chinotto, (we had only ever come across this once before), it is a variety of citrus fruit known also as the "myrtle-leaved orange tree" which to me, sounds quite magical. Chinotto is cola coloured and has a peculiar taste. It is intense, aromatic and not so sweet. I think it may also be used as a flavouring in Campari? Anyway, I like it. I wish I could get hold of it more easily as this would be a perfect thirst quencher and reviver for hot weather.

A friend of mine (hello Enrico!) tells me that the Lurisa drinks company is noteworthy as they are known for exceptionally good bottled water. They also make traditional Italian beverages that are now regaining popularity at home. I like the labels. They are super cool!

All in all, we enjoyed our experience at the Rosso Pomodoro. It was unpretentious, not too expensive, delicious and the service was attentive, informative but relaxed (I dislike hovering waiting staff. Very good for a small chain I say.

I shall pen-off with a quote from their website...

 Where we’re from, amazing ingredients bursting with flavour are normal. Only harvesting those ingredients locally, using traditional methods? That was normal too. 
You can imagine we were pretty surprised when we found out the rest of the world called this ‘ethically sourced’ and ‘responsibly harvested’.

+ Rosso Pomodoro +
50 - 52 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9EP

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Beauty and Hygiene from my "Oddness File"

I am going to let you in on a little secret. I have a bookmark file which I have aptly named "oddness" for it is here that I stash away my links to the multitude of curiosities that I come across on my journeys through the growing universe that is world wide web. 

Today I want to share with you one of my favourite haunts for inspiration and whiling away my time and so without any further pomp and circumstance....

Ladies and gents, step this way and enter into the wonderful world of Vintage Beauty and Hygiene Advertisements:

Aren't they smashing? These are but a few of my favourites. Take a look at more | HERE | 
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Still wearing....

I am not the sort of blogger that buys things solely for displaying on my blog. I haven't the funds or the mindset to pursue such a lavish lifestyle. So, I often find myself wearing garments that have appeared on my blog over and over again. To me at least, this is confirmation that these items were worth the pennies and proof that they have retained a certain stylishness that still appeals to me....

This jumper for example was purchased way back in  2011. It's still in good nick and I still love it because it has such a fab weight to it...oh and the colour! It's made an appearance once before when I visited the Hell Fire Club of 1746 | Here |

The necklace I made myself and is a version of one currently in my Stranger London Fushigi Shop | Here |.

The skirt I bought recently in a second hand shop for £5-£8 (cant quite recall). It's a good fit and I can see myself wearing it for a long time yet. 

My shoes are from Kate Kanzier of Leather Lane and they have trodden the dir'y London streets with me for years. The socks are from Tabio UK and these leggings were bought in Japan in 2010. 

And as for this leather jacket, it is much like an old friend now. It has been with me for 5/6 years and it seems to magically look better with each year that passes.

These photos were taken in my endz, in Hackney infront of a mash-up storage house type thing. I like these raggedy backgrounds.

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Best Served Cold

When it comes to flavoured teas, I am increasingly of the opinion that some flavours are best served cold. One such example is the Strawberry Green Tea from that much applauded brand, Kusmi Tea.

Thé vert a la fraise is a very fragrant  green tea infusion on the nose but much more subtle in the mouth. This was made for summer afternoons and goes very well with lots of ice and a spring of mint. Add some syrup if it suits you.

| Kusmi Tea | Iittala | Paul & Joe |

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Mooching in Marylebone

I am so sorry for going AWOL this past week and thank you to everyone who enquired after my whereabouts. I am fine. Just busy with my shop. Neck deep in fabric and beads! I have been trying my hand at making some garments and hope to show you what I have made very soon!

Now, back to the order of things. Last Sunday was a good day for mooching about Marylebone and its surrounds. It is one of my favoured shopping areas of London and it has been far too long since last I trod its old thoroughfares.

Marylebone has a fine selection of shops. The Conran Shop and Skandium are my favourites, though you can also find Cath Kidston, Emma Bridgwater, Rococo Chocolates, Diptyque, Ortiga, Fresh and more. I ought to spend more time in the area quite frankly.

There is much to marvel at for the detail, home-wares and packaging obsessed and to prove my point, here is some of what caught my attention.....

+ Milk Soaps by Take Away Porto

These gents and their animals on the white background are just fab!

The soaps are made with delicate skins in mind and combining milk and Mediterranean fruits. The cow is cow milk + pomegranate and the goat is....yep you guessed it goat milk + vervaine. Take Away Porto are committed to creating products that are not only sensitive to nature but also support sustained growth using finest quality fairly-traded ingredients.

Take Away Porto have some brilliantly presented and covetable things on their website. Do stop by!

| Take Away Porto |

+ Ladurée Ink Pads

Ladurée seem to be widening their horizons evermore these days. I spotted their lovely signature gorgeousness in the form of ink pads in the Conran Shop. I didn't indulge. Instead, I thought I would save the money towards some actual macarons.

+ Kusmi Tea

Spotted on Marylebone High St. I am so excited that Kusmi Tea will be taking up residence properly in London very soon. I am a big fan of their blends and I cannot wait to visit the shop once it is open.

I reviewed one of their teas | HERE |

+ Eames RAR Rocking Chair

I dream of having a rocking chair. The Eames RAR would do very nicely! I very much like this Vitra version with its dark grey polypropylene seat rest and walnut runners however I would fancy it a whole lot more if the seat rest was an original fibreglass version. You just cannot beat that fibreglass glow.

| Vitra UK |

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Barcelona Bites

Food is at the heart of my enjoyment of adventure. I cannot truly enjoy a visiting  place if I do not enjoy its culinary offerings.

From my point of view, food is at the very heart of a culture and partaking in the sampling local cuisine is part of experiencing the soul of a place.

Spanish food is very easy to find in London with many establishments purporting to have authentic tapas and such. However, sampling real Spanish food in Barcelona really gives a benchmark to the taste buds.

I have 2 recommendations for eating out in Barcelona. One for tapas and one for delicious seafood.

\\ Cerveceria Catalana
236 Mallorca, 08008, Barcelona.

If queues are an indicator of good food then this is worth the wait. We pitched up at Cerveceria Catalana at about 7pm and the queue was enormous, we were told that there would be a 40 minute wait...minimum. However, we are not fussy about seating arrangements and so volunteered ourselves to sit at the bar and thus got served straight away. 

Crab meat tapas

Jambugo (cured ham)

Grilled padron peppers with rock salt

Cerveceria Catalana is very highly rated and popular and quite rightly so. It is very good value for money and your Euros will go a long way in terms of delicious little dishes and lovely wine to wash it all down with.

We enjoyed some of our favourite tapas dishes and fell in love with some new ones too.

\\ Kaiku
Plaza del Mar, 1, 08003 Barcelona

This place was the recommendation of a dear friend and I was so excited about trying it out as it had 2 of my most favourite things on the menu, seafood and rice.

Spiced grilled fresh octopus with avocado.

Zamburiñas (little scallops) with lemon ginger sauce

Arroz Negro

Smoked rice with artichokes arugula and seasonal mushrooms.

Both the smoked rice and the black squid ink rice are not  paella as many people seem to think. Though the black inky rice may scare people at first glance but it beyond delicious and leaves you with a lovely smile :)

Kaiku is located by the beach in Barceloneta and is one of the many eateries that seem only to open at lunchtime. The food was so frsh and so well prepared with great understanding and care for the ingredients used.Skipping breakfast and booking ahead is recommended. 

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Places Where No One Lives

It is no secret that we have an appetite for abandoned places. We seek them out, sneak in, disturb as little as possible, leave without causing disturbance and keep the exact locations secret.


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