It’s been two weeks since my last little loves post and I’m hoping the adage ‘better late than never’ rings true. I’ve been living life and trying to find time to write in between (the irony of having a lifestyle blog and being too busy to write about it). The past month has been spent travelling around the UK, attending blog events and completing some urgent ‘wedmin’. Life has been a bit of a blur. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to returning to my quiet, cosy life of evenings wrapped up in a blanket, with the fire on.
So, without further ado, here are the last two weeks in review…
Tin man. I’m still trying to read more of Tin Man, but as it’s usually late by the time I pick it up – I’ve fallen asleep holding it more times than I care to admit. Next week, I’ll be travelling into London again for the final day of Facebook Fast Track training so I’m hoping to catch up on some reading during the early morning train journey.
Blogs, blogs and more blogs. I’d estimate that, in the past fortnight, I’ve visited around 100 blogs as part of the outreach work I’m completing at work. It’s my first task every morning (after making a cup of coffee of course), I run through the list of published collaborations and read each one – it’s a definite perk of my job and one of my favourite parts.
X Factor. Here’s where I admit that I’m not a fan of X Factor, but during our stay in the Peak District at East House Country Hotel, Erica and I were faced with an evening in after dinner, accompanied by a bottle of pink fizz. X Factor seemed like the natural progression and surprisingly, it was the perfect girls’ night in. Despite liking alternative music, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and profess my love of Rak-su. This year, X Factor seem to have axed the novelty acts and put real talent in its place. Bravo. Will I continue to watch it? Probably not, but I’ll be keen to know who wins.
A start on my Christmas shopping. Finally. I’m genuinely terrified of the Christmas shopping I need to complete this year. Usually, I’ve purchased the vast majority of my gifts by now and around the end of November, I start wrapping. Even with the arrival of Christmas adverts and markets, I’ve bought few gifts and these are for my thrifty Christmas gift box (thanks to finding gorgeous items in a Bakewell charity shop) Ironically, I’ve received gifts with the arrival of my John Lewis Secret Santa gifts which I wrote about this week.
I’m obsessed with Wolf Alice (and so is half of the UK, and probably the world). I missed them performing live last Thursday in Manchester, due to a blogging event with Salon Success and Paul Mitchell. I’ve played their new album, Visions of a Life, whenever I’ve had chance: in the car, in the office, in the shower – just to try and make up for the fact that I missed their live show. I’ve just discovered this stripped back version of ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ thanks to Morgana referencing it in her latest Little Loves post – I don’t think I could love Wolf Alice any more.
Jimmy Eat World. Slam Dunk tickets were released on sale, along with the news that Jimmy Eat World are headlining along with Taking Back Sunday. The teen emo inside of me has relished hours of listening to all of their albums during the commute and whilst I’ve been working.
Knuckle Puck. Still. On repeat ready for their UK tour!
More pinafore dresses. No surprises there. I’ve been wearing more pinafore dresses – they’re comfy and practical (and I can see why toddlers are dressed in them!) This time, I’ve switched up my collection of trusty denim dresses for corduroy. Joanie Clothing sent me their Olive Cord Pinafore Dress in the aptly named colour ‘pumpkin spice’ for my #JoinTheWorld trip to Sheffield with Visit England. I want to start wearing more of my second-hand finds and this is the perfect dress to layer with my thrifted and vintage blouses.
New pyjamas. On my return from a visit to London, I had over an hour’s wait in Manchester city centre before I could catch my train back to St Helens. Like all right-thinking women my age, I decided to call into Primark and investigate their Christmas pyjamas range. I was not prepared for the sheer influx of themed pyjamas: Disney, Harry Potter and Christmas. I made an on-the-spot decision to invest, and spent the walk back to the train station waylaid under the burden of paper Primark bags. So worth it.
You’ll notice there have been some pretty huge changes to the design here and it’s all thanks to Steffany from Haus of Coco who is changing the entire look and feel of Polkadot Pink to bring it more inline with my branding and the topics I write about. It’s a work in progress, but already, I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along.
I wish I could say that next week promises to be quieter, but I’ll be travelling to London twice for Facebook training and also to attend the launch of #LOTD’s celebrity collaboration with Louise Thompson.
Until next week…
(03.11 – 17.11)
Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are over for another year, I feel it’s socially acceptable to start getting excited about Christmas and the traditions it brings. We’re right on the cusp of the festive season (already, Christmas adverts are starting to fill our screens) so if, like me, you’re a love of organisation here are some of the Christmas traditions I’m making a start on right now, this November.
If there’s one Christmas tradition to love, it’s secret Santa. Shopping for secret gifts, for people you’ve never met or know little about. Blog stalking, listening in on conversations and each with a valid reason – it makes me feel as mischievous as an elf! What’s not to love?
Each year, I sign up for blogger Secret Santas and this year is no different. In stark contrast, I signed up for both John Lewis’ Secret Santa and Someone, Somewhere’s thrifty Christmas gift swap.
Starting the festive season early, my John Lewis goodies arrived last week, wrapped in their fabulously festive wrapping and tied in beautiful green ribbon. Before opening my gifts, I was a little apprehensive. My Instagram holds no helpful clues to my taste (unless you plan on gifting me a rustic building) and my blog name features my least favourite colour (clever, huh?) Poor Santa!
That said, Secret Santa didn’t do bad at all (considering I provided zero clues) and I was gifted with useful gifts – thank you. Here’s what was in my parcel:
Pom pom ballerina slippers // Sara Miller Jasmine, Lemongrass and Ginger Candle // Caroline Gardner Hearts Multi Ribbon Notebook // Prosecco Bon Bons
As a stationery lover, my favourite gift is the Caroline Gardner notebook. I’m always scribbling away, whenever I get the chance so it’ll be nice to pull this beautiful book out of my handbag on train journeys, or when grabbing a quick coffee. Who am I kidding? It’s too pretty to even consider writing in it.
I’m sure you’ll agree that John Lewis is a British institution when it comes to Christmas gifting. If you’ve got Secret Santa gifts to buy on a budget, try John Lewis’ Secret Santa category to find gifts under a tenner.
Janet’s thrifty Christmas gift swap is one of my favourite blogger-organised Secret Santa. My box should arrive next month, which means i have around 3 weeks to source some thoughtful yet thrifty finds for my recipient. Thankfully, I have one gift ticked off following a quick visit to Bakewell last weekend. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I promise to share in good time.
Living near Manchester, it won’t surprise you that a trip to the the Manchester Markets is one of my favourite Christmas traditions. I go most years and featured it here in one of the very first blog posts I wrote. The popularity of these markets continues to grow and to beat the crowds, I’ll be visiting just after they open in late November.
However, there is an alternative. If you’re from the North West, you may already know of Bents Garden Centre and the magical transformation it undergoes each year to turn it into a Christmas wonderland. This year, they’ve created their own Winter Food Market in store, transforming their Open Skies Glass House into a small, potted version of a Christmas market. I visited on launch night and experienced a delicious pulled pork sandwich and mulled wine. I couldn’t recommend it more, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to busy, city centre markets.
Alternative Advent Calendars (Forward & Reverse)
Last year, I made an alternative advent calendar for the first time. It was for John, my fiancé, and was nothing fancy but definitely personalised to his tastes. My alternative calendar featured socks and John’s favourite chocolates, socks and chocs. It cost around £25 to make and an afternoon of shopping and wrapping.
This year, I’ve seen a lot more mention of reverse advent calendars. It’s a simple concept based on the idea that you add an item rather than removing an item. Up to 25 days before Christmas, pop an item a day into a cardboard box and by the end of advent, you’ll have a hamper to gift to someone in need. You can find further information on the Changing Lives website, here.
What Christmas traditions will you be starting this November?
Falmouth tales, wedding stories & Facebook HQ #LittleLoves
So here we are, another week I’ve managed to record my week of #LittleLoves and, what a week it’s been – little old northern me has travelled over 1000 miles to visit Cornwall and London!
Without further ado, here’s my week in review…
Tin Man. I wanted a light read (literally) to take to Falmouth with me, so I picked up Tin Man from my local library after reading Morgana’s thoughts. I wanted a book I could become completely absorbed in. The Amazon description promises an emotive read, 29 pages in, I’m already touched by the warmth and tenderness of Ellis.
Maps, maps and lots of them. Tube maps, Google Maps and town maps – you name it. Let’s just say, navigation is not my strong point – nor John’s. On the Cornish road to Falmouth, we took more wrong turns than either of us would admit to. It’s been testing, to say the least.
Not a lot. This week, I’ve been I’ve been immersed in writing, reading and listening to music. With visiting Falmouth and London, I’ve barely switched on the TV apart from to join my morning coffee partners: Susanna, Piers and Lorraine. There just hasn’t been anything to entice me. Moving on!
A very big decision by choosing my wedding ring. I wrote about the experience in my last blog post – it was wonderful! I’ll say no more. Go read it, if you haven’t already.
Made sustainable choices. I’ve also started to consider the balance of second-hand clothes that I buy, and wear, in comparison to first-hand clothing. I’m trying not to make unattainable promises without understanding the ratio. I’ve made a promise to myself that in November I’ll compare the percentage of clothes I buy from high street retailers, eBay, Instagram and of course, online.
A smile. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve been feeling a lot happier recently. Of course, it’s been a great week filled with travel, music and learning, but I feel like I’m returning to my old self.
Lotta From Stockholm clogs. Last Christmas, John wrapped up a new pair of clogs to add to my collection. I bought my first pair in 2013 and featured them in one of my first ever fashion posts here. I’ve never had a pair of T-bar clogs before, but they’ve quickly taken pole position in my twee-loving heart. It helps that they’ve garnered so many compliments. I’m trying to get as much wear out of them before winter comes. Look at how cute they look next to this mosaic shop entrance!
The sounds of the sea. Being a town girl at heart, it’s not often I visit the seaside (I could if I wanted, after all Southport isn’t far at all) so to hear roll of the waves lap on to Gyllyngvase Beach alongside the squarks of seagulls was surprisingly delightful.
A soundtrack of feminist punk bands who make an unholy, but glorious racket. With the 692 mile round-trip journey, I’d downloaded a variety of Spotify playlists which we abandoned for a cocktail of feminist punk. Priests and White Lung were the perfect companions to power through the evening drive.
Many interesting facts. I’m enrolled on Facebook’s Fast Track programme, essentially that means I travel to Facebook Ground Control, in London, to learn about best practices for paid advertising on the platform, including workshops on attribution, Facebook business manager, conversion and my favourite, creative. Wednesday’s session focussed on the importance of creativity when creating ads. I came away with a handful of facts that really made me think, my favourites: we only need to see an image for 13 milliseconds to identify it and importantly, we should be aiming to provoke an emotive response. It blew my mind. I started to consider the use of emojis in captions and the importance of branding. I’m still thinking about it.
Now that Halloween is over, it feels socially acceptable to talk about Christmas. I cannot contain my excitement any longer! This week, I signed up for Janet’s thrifty Christmas gift swap and weeks previous, I’d joined John Lewis’ Secret Santa! These gifts arrived this week, bringing a little bit of Christmas cheer early- my gift features pink, sweets and stationery. What’s not to love? Secret Santa, you’re a keeper!
And, if it wasn’t enough that I’ve travelled to Cornwall and London this week, I’m off to Sheffield this weekend with my blogging pal, Erica, and Visit England. I cannot wait!
Choosing my wedding ring at Mirri Damer, Falmouth
One of the first decisions made for our wedding was made solely by John when he purchased my engagement ring. It was a decision that could only have been his, as the romantic in me always believed the engagement ring should be the proposer’s choice. In choosing an engagement ring by Mirri Damer, he inadvertently chose the designer of my wedding ring too.
Ironically traditional to begin with, we’re now starting to break away from tradition when it comes to choosing our wedding bands, but (eventually) I’ve decided to choose the same designer as my engagement ring. Starting my search early, I had casually visited high street jewellers, boutique jewellers and even tried on the wedding rings of my friends – just to discover my preference. No ring ever suited the style of my engagement ring, or felt unique enough for my taste.
In the midst of this search, my parents offered me my grandmother’s wedding band. Made from Welsh gold, it’s a striking contrast to my white gold engagement ring when placed beside it. In its current form, it’s mismatched in style but perfectly matched in sentiment. After a phone call with Mirri Damer’s studio, I was convinced of a solution and a visit to Mirri Damer, Falmouth, was on the cards.
Stepping into the cocoon of Mirri Damer’s studio shop, on Falmouth’s High Street, we entered to see mid-century furniture juxtaposed with mustard furnishings and flanked with yellow roses: my favourite colour and flowers. We had time to browse the collection before Mirri arrived and introductions were made.
Mirri, an internationally acclaimed designer and Libertines fan, relocated to Cornwall to start her business in 2005. She now works from her shop, in a studio adorned with Frida Kahlo. After discovering we both share a love of cinnamon buns and coffee, we sat down to discuss the design of my wedding band. I explained how John had chosen her rosebud design in 2014 and showed Mirri my favourite pieces from her current collection.
We also discussed the heirloom rings that I had brought: my grandmother’s wedding ring and my mum’s engagement ring, from her first marriage to my father, which I inherited on my 21st birthday. Mirri and I discussed how the heirloom rings could be reinvented to make a set of two new wedding bands that would fit perfectly and nestle my engagement ring between them. Calling on John to help me make key decisions, we eventually decided on the two bands and surprisingly, it was easier than either of us expected.
I know what you may be thinking, two new wedding bands? Well, I did mention that we’re starting to buck tradition. One wedding band will be timeless, made from heirloom jewellery and able to be worn alone, or with my engagement ring or the final ring. The third ring will be a stylish choice to add extra emphasis to the stack. Each will be able to be worn alone, or together, or in different combinations.
I’d like to think John and I’s approach is true to our personal style, but incorporates my belief in being sustainable. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience when choosing my wedding rings and I’m so excited to see the end designs!
With my fascination of documenting the every day it was inevitable that I would, one day, begin to participate in Morgana’s #LittleLoves series. With the premise being to remember those small, sometimes overlooked, joys that light up each week, I wanted to take my love of journaling one step further.
So, here we are, and what a week I’ve chosen to start with as this week marked my 33rd birthday. With both of my closest friends being on maternity leave, we took the opportunity to go for brunch at Cobble, in Ormskirk (one of my favourite places to sip coffee and watch the world go by), talk weddings and lavish in new baby cuddles.
This time last year, I discovered Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and became immersed in reading more of her gloriously dystopian books. I was dedicating time to read, usually at the end of the working day. Now that I commute into Manchester, I’ve lost that glorious mid-afternoon hour to motorway traffic but I’m reclaiming it before sleep, starting with Atwood’s ‘The Year of the Flood’. Although I’m only 18 pages in, I have so many questions that have so far gone unanswered. From the first paragraph, I want to know: Why does the elevator no longer work? And, why, if Toby slips and falls climbing to the room, won’t there be anyone to pick her up?
The Great British Bake Off. I know what you’re thinking, didn’t we all? Well, no. This was the first episode I’ve purposefully sat down to watch (better late than never, huh?). I’ve surmised that Bake Off is essentially, watching people bake whilst you yourself eat cake with a few quips from Noel Fielding. This I can get on board with.
How could I forget ‘The Layover’ – the gloriously, mind-numbing film I watched on Sunday evening in an attempt to relax before the working week. Billed as a comedy, the plot centres on two friends competing for the attention of a love interest when their flight is cancelled due to a hurricane. Bordering on slapstick at times, it certainly provided a laugh or two.
After booking tickets for their December tour, this week I’ve continued my obsession with American pop punk band Knuckle Puck – specifically, their EP ‘While I Stay Secluded’ and new album ‘Shapeshifter’. Although it’s not quite as addictive, it’s a welcome addition to my Spotify playlist and I’m sure it’ll grow on me ahead of their Manchester show.
And with the arrival of #StormBrian, who didn’t have the Arctic Monkey’s ‘Brianstorm’ as an unwelcome ear worm last weekend? That said, it did provide the perfect soundtrack to accompany the strong wind and downpours, as well as the perfect excuse to spend a slow weekend at home.
New blogging friends. It’s absolutely wonderful to meet bloggers who are very much on your wavelength and willing to support you – even though they barely know you. Steffany, the design brains behind boutique creative studio ‘Haus of Coco‘, is helping me to redesign and reimagine Polkadot Pink, bringing it up to date while staying true to my style.
Recently, I’ve been investing in my work wardrobe making autumn/winter purchases mostly from online retailers. I work full-time in a creative office, so I have complete freedom when choosing how to dress. This week, I’ve wore lots of new (and new-to-me) clothes. I took advantage of a 20% discount offer and invested in this polka dot Clara dress in a gorgeous burgundy colour and have used my staff discount to buy this smock style dress. I’ve decided that as I spend 37.5 hours a week in the office – I may as well be comfortable and presentable, while attempting to feel good about myself.
Following on from our trip to Lake Bled, Slovenia, John and I’s wedding plans are starting to take shape. As you know, two weeks ago, I visited Magpie Wedding _ The Show and this weekend, we will travel to Falmouth to meet with Mirri Damer (the designer of my engagement ring, featured here) to discuss the design of our wedding bands. We’ve never visited Falmouth before, but it holds a lot of sentimental value to John’s sister – who got engaged on Gyllyngvase beach, so to discover Mirri Damer’s studio is based there feels like fate.