Category Archives: Life

T&T 34 | Botanical Inspiration

Tea and Tattle Podcast | Botanical Inspiration for the Home

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week, Sophie and I are chatting about botanical inspiration for the home, as well as how flowers inspire our creative processes. Botanicals are huge at the moment, and we chat about why their timeless style is so appealing, as well as how flowers and foliage feature in our homes.

In today’s episode, we also make two important announcements: the first involves our plans for the podcast over the summer, and the second is a new PDF downloadable document (like our Hygge guide) that I’m currently working on, and which I hope you’ll find useful for the summer (listen to the episode to hear all the details on both these announcements).

Sophie also shares a particularly exciting Jump for Joy this week (many congratulations to her again), and as usual we exchange a favourite cultural recommendation in our Culture Corner section. It really is all go in this episode, so be sure to tune in to catch up on the latest news!

Listen to hear our ideas for botanical style in the home and how flowers feed creativity.

T&T 32 | Wedding Etiquette Tips

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Today on Tea & Tattle, Sophie and I are discussing our tips for navigating wedding season. We’re sharing our thoughts on appropriate etiquette for wedding guests, as well as voicing our opinions on the +1 debate. We’d love to hear what you think about this issue too!

Sophie and I also had a mutual ‘Jump for Joy’ this week: our trip to Berkshire together, to stay at The Great House in Sonning. We went for riverside walks, enjoyed wine at the local pub and had plenty of tea & tattle time in the gorgeous hotel. It was so fun to take a mini trip together, and we’re already planning the next – I’m hoping to join Sophie in Oxford in July, once we’re both through our teaching commitments.

In Culture Corner, Sophie shares a book series she recently discovered and is loving, and I talk about the fantastic audiobook that’s currently making my photo-editing process a lot less tedious.

Listen to hear our best tips to guide you through wedding season.  

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

One of my favourite things about June is the abundance of peonies. Evoking romance and early summer, these beautiful, billowy blooms are often sweetly scented and come in a variety of charming colours: white, pink, red, yellow and coral. Understandably, peonies are enormously popular on Instagram, as it’s hard to resist liking a snapshot of fluffy pink petals, and they’re a delightful flower to photograph.

Unfortunately, though, peonies are notoriously pricey, so whenever I buy a bunch, I like to think I can make the most out of my money. I work hard on photographing a variety of different shots to showcase my blooms, without (hopefully!) boring my audience, and I also take care of my peonies so that they last as long as possible.

In celebration of June’s theme word, bloom, on Miranda’s Notebook, I thought I’d share my tips and ideas for getting the most photos out of your peonies.

1/ SOURCE YOUR PEONIES

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ June is the height of peony season and is the best month for buying them. I especially like to buy my blooms from flower markets, where good deals are offered. Columbia Road Flower Market generally sell three bunches of peonies for £20 – just make sure to get there early to avoid the overwhelming crowds! It’s also a good idea to check your local farmers’ market; I recently picked up four bunches of peonies that were going for a great price at my market in West Hampstead.

++ An important tip to remember when buying peonies is to go for bunches where the buds are already starting to open slightly. Peonies should be harvested when the buds are at the ‘marshmallow’ stage – they should feel soft and spongy to the touch. I’ve learnt that very tight, hard buds often never open, which is a disappointing waste of my flower budget. When I know that I want to photograph my peonies very quickly, I’ll go for ones that are, for the most part, fully opened. These blooms won’t have such a long vase life, but they’re great for when I’m in a rush to get photographs.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook || Scarlet and Violet Florist, London

++ If you’d like to treat yourself to more unusual peonies in a wider variety of colours, then it’s sensible to fork out for special ones at a good quality florist. So far, I’ve found that the standard pink and red varieties are easily found at markets, but for more unusual blooms, I head to my nearest first-rate florist: Scarlet & Violet. Some gorgeous varieties to look out for are: Coral Charm, Raspberry Sundae, Bowl of Beauty, Fairy’s Petticoat and Duchesse de Nemours (aren’t the names delightful?!).

2/ TAKE CARE OF YOUR BLOOMS

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Peonies have a good vase life and – if well cared for – should last a week or two. On returning home with your flowers, cut their stems straight away, as this helps them to take up the water. Remove excess leaves and any below the water line. Regularly (every other day) recut the stems and add fresh water. You shouldn’t put too much water in your vase, as you should be replenishing with fresh often anyway.

++ If you don’t want to use your peonies straight away, then it is supposedly possible to store your buds for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Simply remove all leaves and put your stems into a plastic bag, lined with paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Check every few days and discard any that show signs of mould. When you’re ready to use them, pop them into warm water with some flower food. I’m keen to try out this method myself sometime! I’ve also heard that you can preserve any heads of flowers you snip off in tupperware in the fridge for a few weeks, so I want to give that a try too.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++If your peonies are taking a while to fully open, then try holding them over hot, steaming water (I’ve had mixed success with this, but it’s worth a try if you’ve got some very stubborn ones!).

++ Apparently a splash of lemonade mixed in with water encourages flowers to bloom quicker (I’ve yet to try this and am keen to find out if it works!).

++ It’s always a good idea to keep some flower food to hand, but if you run out, then ½ a teaspoon of sugar and a drop of bleach in the water will do the trick.

3/ PLAN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Planning is arguably the most important step in my photography process. I have a strict weekly budget on flowers (I don’t usually spend more than £10 on average), and yet I use blooms in every single flat lay I photograph, so I need to make sure that I get a range of images from every bouquet I buy. Whenever I buy peonies, which are a more expensive purchase, I’m especially careful about the planning stage in my photography.

++ Most weekends, I set aside a photography morning or afternoon and snap the majority of my indoor shots featuring flowers. I generally buy my flowers the evening before or on the same day, so I photograph them at their freshest, although I’ll also take the odd picture during the rest of the week too.

++ Although I’m often inspired by the flowers I buy each week and the props I have at home, I’ll also research possible shots by spending time browsing Pinterest or the books I collect that feature exceptional floral photography. Taking time to seek inspiration helps feed my own creativity and keeps my ideas feeling fresh.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ I also take time to think about upcoming blog posts I have planned, or products that I want to feature, and what types of floral photographs I’ll need for them. For instance, I knew I wanted to get a photograph of the lovely book, Paris in Bloom, alongside a bunch of peonies, as I thought the matching pinks would look lovely. Also, I regularly use floral backgrounds that I photograph myself for the imagery on Tea & Tattle, so I try as often as possible to get suitable photos for the podcast, especially when I buy peonies, as they look particularly pretty as backdrops (like this one).

4/ TAKE A VARIETY OF PICTURES

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ A great way to get the most out of your peonies is to tell the whole story of your purchase. Photograph the market stand or shop where you bought your flowers; the peonies at your feet in an attractive market basket (perhaps with some other market purchases too); you walking along a pretty street with a big bouquet over your shoulder; the peonies laid out on a table at home, as you trim the stems; and finally arranged in a beautiful vase. Even if you don’t use all of these images on your instagram grid, they’re perfect to share on stories.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++Try to photograph each stage of your peonies too: first in bud; then as they blossom and  colours change and fade; and finally the petals dropping from the vase.

++ Take photos from different angles and focus in on details or zoom out. You can photograph the bouquet as a whole, but  also zoom in to snap individual flowers.

++ If you’ve bought a bouquet featuring lots of different kinds of flowers, then after photographing the bouquet as a whole, separate out the flowers and photograph them  individually, or as smaller posies.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Finally, once your flowers start to fade a little, snip the heads off to use as a pretty feature in your flat lays.

5/ KEEP IT FUN 

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ As they’re so popular, peony shots can occasionally border on the cliché. There’s nothing wrong with the familiar, but try not to just snap your bouquet next to some macarons and Love X Style X Life by Garance Dore. Instead, get creative and think of ways to add an element of fun and surprise to your images. Thinking a little more outside of the box is a skill I’m trying to develop in my own photography at the moment, and I had fun playing around with the above peony ‘ice-cream’ shot last weekend.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you’re inspired by this post to photograph some peonies, then do please let me know – I’d love to see what you come up with.

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5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

The Curated Month | June 2017

Welcome June!

Happy start of June everyone! London is feeling very summery at the moment; the sun is shining and roses are blooming, and I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to spend all of half-term reading in a park.

I’ve got plenty of fun coming up this month, which I’m excited about! I’m taking my Mum to the Cotswolds later in the month, when we’ll be celebrating her birthday, and this weekend I’m off to stay at The Great House in Berkshire. I’m taking my Tea & Tattle co-host, Sophie, along with me, and I’m really looking forward to having an unrecorded catch-up! June is such a glorious time of year to explore more of the UK, so I’m pleased about taking a little time away from London.

June’s Theme Word: Bloom

An abundance of flowers bloom in June, so what better month to celebrate one of my very favourite photography subjects. I’ll be sharing some floral related content over the next few weeks, including my top tips on how to take dozens of pretty photos from a single bouquet of flowers.

A List for June

sit in a rose garden
play tennis
have a spontaneous picnic
walk barefoot on the beach
go foraging
eat breakfast outside
pick strawberries
start a nature journal

The Londoner’s List

1/ The Night Market is a fun food festival starting in London and running from June 7th-18th, so take advantage of the light evenings and pop along to enjoy the fabulous food stalls.

2/ If you’re an aspiring author, this event featuring talks and advice from debut novelists sounds worth attending.

3/ The Stoke Newington Literary Festival runs this weekend (2nd-4th June), with a great line-up of events.  An upcoming Tea & Tattle guest, Lopè Ariyo, is speaking tomorrow about the African Food Revolution.

4/ As you may remember from this post, I adore the fashion designer Anna Sui, so I’m keen to get to this exhibition, showcasing more than 100 looks from the Anna Sui archive, at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

5/ The Typing Room looks like it would be a great place to take my Mum for her birthday this year.

The Book

My book choice for this month is Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim. Witty and charming, this is a delightful summer read (and I fully empathise with Elizabeth’s love for flowers).

The Podcast

I really enjoyed this interview with the London shop owner and instagrammer Annabel on the Small and Mighty Podcast. I recently discovered Annabel’s instagram account, which is lovely, and it was so interesting to hear her story about launching an online shop.

 

The Creative

My very favourite floral-inspired instagram account is @floretflower. This flower farm in America is incredible – I can’t get enough of the photos of flower filled trucks and enormous bouquets!

The Song

JONES, image via here

JONES is a fairly new discovery for me, and I’ve been really enjoying her latest album NEW SKIN. Her voice is smooth and effortless and makes easy summer listening. Hoops is a particular favourite of mine, followed by Melt.

The Great Buy

I’m obsessed with the gorgeous Wedgwood china I spotted at the Wedgwood pop-up in Peter Jones, Chelsea, the other day (as a warning: the pop-up tea conservatory is very pretty, but my cream tea left me a little underwhelmed with dry scones. The afternoon tea isn’t cheap, and to be honest, I’m doubtful it would be worth the expense, sadly.). The china collection really is stunning, though, and the apple blossom set in particular is calling my name.

The Wild Card

I recently got this dress from one of my favourite London based designers, Cabbages & Roses, and I want to wear it all day, everyday. It’s light as a feather, easy to wear and so summery! Pair with ballet flats or plimsolls and a straw bag for a sweet, fresh look.

What’s on your list for June?

T&T 29 | Creativity Chat with Sara Tasker (Me & Orla)

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, I’m chatting with the Queen of Instagram, Sara Tasker, otherwise known as @me_and_orla. I’ve been a fan of Sara’s gorgeous photography and engaging personality from before I started blogging, so it was a real joy to have her on the show for a fabulous talk about creativity and social media.

Sara discussed the start of her Instagram journey, when she gained 10s of 1000s of followers in a few months, and how she kept true to herself and her creative vision, despite the pressure of a huge following. I was also keen to ask Sara for her tips on avoiding the ‘comparison trap’ on social media and how to regain a sense of community within Instagram, after the changes introduced by the new algorithm. As always, Sara had so much wisdom to share, so this is great episode to listen to if you’ve been struggling with some of the changes to Instagram lately.

We also chatted about the nature of creativity, how Sara came to start her own podcast, Hashtag Authentic, her experience starting her first novel and so much more.

Listen for an insightful discussion on creativity and social media. 

Note: Above images courtesy Sara Tasker.

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Curated Month | May, 2017

Having a bit of time away from the blog as my shoulder healed was initially extremely frustrating, but then I began to appreciate it as an opportunity to regroup and think through fresh ideas. I realised I was finding the Book Club too stressful; even reading the books was difficult for me, as I’m having to read so much more in preparation for Tea & Tattle interviews now. So although there will no longer be an official monthly read, I will be introducing more book-related content into this site, but in a more manageable way.

I also thought about my ‘Fun Things To See and Do’ lists that I’ve been writing every month for about the last year and a half, and I realised that I love these lists, but I wanted to breathe fresh life into them. I hope you enjoy this new format!

The Curated Month | May, 2017

May’s Theme Word: Travel

As the long days of summer are just around the corner, with many people looking forward to holidaying away from home, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this month to travel. You can expect some travel tips from Sophie and me coming on Tea & Tattle podcast soon, guest posts about places outside of London, and of course lots of content from me, including posts about my recent holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. I’d also love to hear from you – do you like to travel? What emotions or images does the word conjure up for you?

A List for May:

stop and smell the lilacs
learn a new yoga pose
create a space that’s all your own
sketch a bunch of Lily of the Valley
read a poem
plant some seeds
bake scones

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Londoners’ List:

1/ The Affordable Art Fair is in Hampstead 11th-14th May.
2/ I loved seeing the Vanessa Bell exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the Bloomsbury Art & Design show at the Courtauld is next on my list.
3/ The Garden Museum is re-opening after extensive renovations on 22nd May, and looks a must-visit.
4/ Set in the former Midland Bank building in the heart of the City, The Ned is London’s hottest new hotel, and it’s worth getting a drink in the bar to experience the beautiful setting.
5/ The Northern Ballet returns to Sadler’s Wells with Casanova, 9th-13th May.
6/ Pick up a plant – or even book a workshop – at one of London’s fabulous florists, like Grace & Thorn.

The Book

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier is released on 11th May, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! New Boy is a reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello, set in a 1970s suburban schoolyard in Washington, and sounds completely gripping. I’m a big fan of Chevalier’s writing so I’ve been eagerly awaiting her latest novel.

The Podcast

My dad recently sent a family email round recommending The New Yorker Poetry Podcast as his favourite podcast – (quickly followed by an email correcting it to his second favourite – glad he remembered Tea & Tattle!) – and I can see why. This is a brilliant podcast for those who appreciate poetry, the English language, or just great conversation. I found the episode on the process of fact-checking poems particularly fascinating.

The Creative

The Curated Month | May, 2017Image via @andotheradventuresco

I’m battling post-algorithm instagram fatigue by finding people who really inspire me on this platform and celebrating them.  I absolutely love the beautiful embroidery that @andotheradventuresco features on her account, which is encouraging me to get my needle and thread out again.

The Song

I recently discovered the French artist Jain, and have had her album, Zanaka, on repeat for a while. Makeba is one of my favourite songs from the album, and its joyous, upbeat tune is perfect for the warmer months.

The Great Buy

I adore these Paris postcards illustrated by Emily Sutton. They’re perfect to send to fellow Paris lovers!

The Wild Card

Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura is terrific value and offers a fabulous change from prosecco. A bottle of this fizz would be the perfect picnic accompaniment (or just to celebrate the start of the weekend…).

What’s on your list for May? 

T&T 26 | Reflecting on Our Goals for 2017

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

It’s super to have Sophie back on the podcast today, especially as we’re celebrating the 6 month anniversary of Tea & Tattle! We’re having a general catch-up on the podcast today, and Sophie explains why she’s been so busy lately. We’re also reflecting on our theme words that we set at the start of the year in Episode 10. Sophie chose ‘openness’ as a word to frame what she wanted to achieve in 2017, and I chose ‘consistency.’ As we said in January, we want to regularly check in with each other (and with our listeners!) to see how we’re getting on with our goals, and so this episode is devoted to reflecting on our progress through the year so far.

Listen to hear our reflections on the year so far and how much we’ve managed to keep to our theme words of ‘consistency’ and ‘openness.’ 

What are your reflections on the year so far? Are you happy with your progress in 2017? Is there anything that’s working particularly well for you in helping you to attain goals, or is there something you need to change?

Happy Listening!

T&T 22 | Expanding Jane Austen’s World

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast here or on iTunes.

Today, Sophie and I are hosting a special episode, as we’re in conversation with two other longtime friends: Janet Todd and Diana Birchall. Both Janet and Diana have written novels expanding upon or reworking Jane Austen’s books and are highly knowledgeable about our favourite author and her world. Sophie and I were thrilled to get the chance to sit down and chat with them both about their writing and how Jane Austen has influenced their lives and friendship.

Janet Todd is the former President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and is well-known for her non fiction works on early women writers and for her books about Mary Wollstonecraft, Aphra Behn, and Jane Austen. Janet has also branched out into fiction and wrote a fabulous rewriting of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, called Lady Susan Plays the Game. It was Diana who first alerted me to Janet’s other brilliant novel, A Man of Genius, which is set in the early 1800s and tells the story of Ann, a writer of Gothic fiction (coincidentally, A Man of Genius has just been released in its paperback edition, so do look out for it!). It was fascinating to learn how Jane Austen, women writers and Gothic fiction influenced Janet in writing this book.

Diana Birchall recently retired from her role as a Story Analyst at Warner Brothers, and she has written numerous stories extending the world of Jane Austen’s books, including the fabulously witty Mrs Darcy’s Dilemma. Diana regularly contributes stories and articles relating to Jane Austen to various publications and websites, including the Jane Austen Society of North America and Jane Austen Variations. Diana lives in America, but travels regularly to the UK.

Listen for a thought-provoking discussion on Jane Austen, her writing and world.

Fun Things To See And Do | March 2017

So far, March has definitely lived up to its reputation of coming in like a lion, with plenty of wind and rain to make one truly tired of winter. There have been the odd sunny days, though, which have served as a welcome reminder that spring is very much just around the corner. Here’s my monthly list of fun things to see and do to make the most of this month.

1/ Offer your support to other women. March 8th is International Women’s Day, which serves as a timely reminder to seek out ways to encourage the women around you. This challenge can be simple: say an encouraging word to a female colleague, or support a girl friend in a new project. If you’re feeling inspired to do more, however, then here are some excellent suggestions for how to get involved in mentoring young women.

2/ Add an item of clothing you’ve been needing for a while to your wardrobe. I bought a new pair of trousers over the weekend, and I only wish I’d got them sooner! I’d been wanting a pair of easy pull-on, cotton trousers for a while, and now I’ve found just the right pair I’m over-the-moon.

3/ Go on a blossom hunt. Clouds of pink and white blossom are starting to appear all over London. Hampstead, Notting Hill, Chelsea and Primrose Hill are especially good places to search out the prettiest trees. Snap photos as you stroll around, or bring along a pencil and sketch-pad to draw these beautiful early signs of spring.

4/ Spoil your Mum (in the UK, Mother’s Day is on the 26th March). Here are some ideas: have a Victorian afternoon tea at the V&A, go for a facial at Elemis in Debenhams, or enjoy a glass of champagne somewhere decadent, like the Connaught bar.

5/ There are some fantastic sounding shows at the Royal Academy right now. I want to see both the Russian Art and America After The Fall exhibitions.

6/ Focus on the things that make you feel revitalised and refreshed: use crisp, fresh perfumes; eat grapefruit for breakfast; splash your face with cold water; take a long walk and end a tiring day with a long, relaxing bath.

7/ Send some special snail mail. Naomi Bulger’s amazing instagram account and blog is full of the most beautiful post inspiration. I love her illustrated envelopes and incredible creativity. If you sign up to her newsletter, you get free monthly downloads of templates so you can start decorating your own envelopes.

8/ Watch Dancer with a friend. I was completely mesmerised when I saw this video featuring Sergei Polunin dancing to Hozier’s Take Me to Church, and now I can’t wait to see this documentary exploring the life of the ‘bad boy of ballet’ (talk about heartthrob material!).

9/ Have a go at writing a short story, using a particular theme, like ‘food’ or ‘home’ to spark your imagination.

10/ Pay attention to the people who take the most of your time. Are they always the people who make you feel your best? Set yourself a challenge this month to pour your time and energy only into those relationships that make you feel energised, supported and loved. You may see fewer people, but when you put effort into nourishing your very best relationships, you’re guaranteed to end the month happier.

A few more things…

Going to Rye. I’m off on the train tomorrow and just can’t wait! I’m staying at the Gallivant Hotel, which sounds blissful. I used to visit The Hamptons regularly when I lived on Long Island as a child, and this definitely sounds the next best thing. I’m channeling my inner Revenge vibe.

Taking part in the #femmemarch book challenge through my @mirandasbookcase account, as well as the Ruth read-a-long hosted by @thenobbylife.

Attending this talk in celebration of International Women’s Day at Foyles.

Celebrating a friend’s birthday on Friday.

Recording a lot of fun interviews for Tea & Tattle – can’t wait to publish the ones I have coming up!

Reading Longbourn in preparation for the next Miranda’s Notebook Book Club discussion!

How about you? What’s on your list for fun things to do this month? I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned!

 

The Simple Things | February (List #01)

The Simple Things | Flower Crown Headpiece

I felt it was time for another round-up chat, sharing some of the simple pleasures I’ve been enjoying lately. I thought it would be fun to turn this into a semi-regular feature (akin to my book round up posts, which I had originally planned to be monthly, but I think more realistically will be every other month or so). I’ve been thinking more and more lately about ways to slow down the rhythm of my days; to appreciate each moment and take joy in small things.

M A K I N G     A     F L O R A L     C R O W N

The Simple Things | Flower Crown Headpiece

My lovely friend Talitha invited me along to a floral wreath making workshop with the Flower Appreciation Society, as part of an airbnb ‘London experience.’ We all gathered for tea at the Hackney City Farm cafe before choosing some pretty blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market, and then jumped in a taxi to the flower studio to learn how to make our crowns.

I can’t imagine it will come as a shock to anyone that I’m rather partial to flowers. They’re a simple pleasure that never fail to make me happy, and I love having flowers in the home, as well as seeing them growing wild in the countryside or planted in parks and the grounds of beautiful stately homes.

Much as I appreciate everything floral, however, I hadn’t ever done a floristry workshop before, so I was very excited to learn how to make a headpiece. A florist once told me that flowers are often used in therapy, to help patients feeling anxious or depressed, but I was still surprised by the calming influence I felt as I bent my head over my crown. Everyone was very concentrated on the task at hand: carefully selecting each flower head to use and delicately taping the stems to wire. We munched chocolate and ginger biscuits, sipped tea and chatted sporadically, delighting in the abundance of gorgeous bouquets before us.

Another girl mentioned how therapeutic it was to work with flowers, and I agreed with her, but what also felt so good was to be completely focused on a single (and fun!) task; there was no where else I should be, no nagging chore at the back of my mind. I gave myself up completely to the joy of deciding whether a rose or ranunculus should come next along my wreath and felt wonderfully relaxed.

After completing my crown, I fastened it round my head, wrapped up the generous bunch of left-over flowers I was pressed to take home and waved goodbye to Talitha at the bus stop. I sauntered along the street to Haggerston station (getting some rather odd looks as passersby took in my flower-bedecked head), and reflected on what a happy morning I’d spent.

B R U N C H     W I T H     F R I E N D S

The Simple Things | Pancakes at The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant, London

I was lucky enough to get to try out the new Gate Vegetarian Restaurant breakfast and brunch menu (of course, I opted for pancakes), which was delicious (remember my lunch there?). I took a friend along with me, and it reminded me that brunch is probably my favourite way to enjoy a meal out with friends. Lunch (at least during the working week) can feel too rushed, and supper can often be overly-lengthy affairs, leaving me tired the next day.

When brunching, though, everyone enjoys lingering over the teapot; you can take pleasure in a long conversation, but still have the satisfaction of the day spread out before you, hopefully filled with more fun plans.

N E W     P J S

The Simple Things | New Pjs

I’ve been in desperate need of new pjs for a while, but hadn’t found a pair I liked. I love silky, button-down pyjamas, but wouldn’t ever want a pair that is actually silk. Apart from being horrendously expensive, they’re tricky to clean (who really has time to hand wash?!). Perhaps for one’s wedding night (although, in all honesty, that’s probably the one night I wouldn’t opt for pjs…), but apart from a special occasion, I’m happy with materials I can throw in the washing machine, at least when it comes to nightwear.

I was excited, then, when I realised Ted Baker (always a favourite of mine – the florals!) was doing an affordable collection of nightwear and lingerie for Debenhams. Luckily for me, I had a £50 Debenhams voucher to use up, so I went along the other day in search of the perfect pjs. I really loved the Ted Baker selection, but unhappily they were completely sold out in my size. Just when I was resigning myself to the ultra baggy look, I noticed this pair by Savannah Miller for Debenhams. They had my size in stock, and I pounced, completely in love with the Liberty-esque paisley print.

It’s amazing how a very simple addition to your wardrobe can add a lot of joy, but I really am quite swept away by these pjs and am already planning on packing them for pretty much every upcoming trip I’ve got planned.

G O O D     R E A D S

The Simple Things | The Good People by Hannah Kent | Pretty Books | Books Photography | Books Flat Lay

I’ve had the pleasure of reading a lot of good books lately. Pachinko (out at the end of the month in the UK) is wonderful, and I’m currently immersed in Hannah Kent’s The Good People.

I’ve also rediscovered my taste for magazines. I hadn’t read any for a while, but now I’m thoroughly enjoying The Simple Things, Harper’s Bazaar (the recent issues have just been excellent; I no longer buy Vogue etc, but Harper’s is always a treat, as there’s always interesting and thought-provoking content, alongside sumptuous images) and Lionheart Magazine.

S U S S E X     M O D E R N I S M

The Simple Things | Two Temple Place | Sussex Modernism

I popped along to Two Temple Place last week to see the Sussex Modernism exhibition, and I absolutely loved it! I’m already planning a return trip at the start of March, as there was a lot to take in, and as entry is free, I’m determined to make the most of access to this beautiful building, which is only open a few months a year.

Sussex Modernism is definitely a must see for lovers of all things Bloomsbury Group and Charleston. Highlights for me were: a beautifully painted chest by Duncan Grant; Vanessa Bell’s self-portrait; gorgeous editions of some of Virginia Woolf’s books; paintings by Peggy Angus, as well as a letter written by her to John Piper, and an Eric Ravilious print of Furlongs.

The exhibition is on until April 23rd, so if you’re in London, do go! Also, I can recommend the cafe, where I enjoyed a very nice light lunch and attractive surroundings. Oh, and don’t miss the adorable pug sign at the building’s entrance! I think it’s my favourite in London.

What’s been making you slow down and smile more lately? I’d love to know!

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