Last week I wrote my first book review in a very long time. I reviewed Young Elizabeth by Kate Williams and mentioned that I’ve been reading a lot of history books recently. I love reading about women from the past, how they lived their lives and how society treated them differently to how we do today.

The Viceroy's Daughters Book ReviewOne of the books I read recently was The Viceroy’s Daughters by Anne De Courcy. The book tells the life stories of the three daughters of Lord Curzon, who is best known as being the Viceroy of India. The book mainly focusses on the events of the 20s, 30s and 40s. The sisters were key players in the London social scene and are absolutely fascinating to read about.

The viceroys dughters Back of BookHaving read quite a few books on the Mitfords it was nice to visit a new family and learn all about a new set of sisters. I am really interested in reading about the upper classes in the early 20th century. It was a time of great political turmoil and like the Mitford sisters, politics plays a large part in the lives of the Curzon sisters, especially Cimmie who was even an MP at one point.

The Viceroys Daughters Book ReviewCimmie, Irene and Baba are all really interesting women. Cynthia Curzon (Cimmie) was married to Oswald Mosely the leader of The British Union of Facsists, before her death and his later marriage to Diana Mitford. It is so interesting to see how the politics of many British aristocrats became so extreme and how many admired and related to Germany, Hitler and the Third Reich. Also reading about Diana Mosely (Mitford) from a different point of view was a huge highlight of the book.

Book Review The Viceroy's DaughtersThe book starts by going into detail about the life of their father and you do have to wait a while before you read much about the sisters. Their fathers personal and political life is also a very interesting read. He held many positions of power and was also nearly became Prime Minister. His relationships after his wife’s death are complex with both his mistress, second wife and his daughters.

The Viceroys Daughters by Anne De CourcyThe book follows the daughters and the key people in their lives through many personal and social changes and for anyone with an interest in the early 20th century, it really is a fascinating read. The book also goes into huge detail on the lives of Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson, who were good friends with Baba’s husband. The events surrounding the abdication and their marriage were such a huge part of British history and seeing them in this intimate light is completely engrossing.

The Viceroy's Daughters The Curzon SistersThe book is beautifully written and extremely well researched. The author delves into personal letters and diaries, many of which are quoted heavily throughout the book. Having not known anything about the sisters before picking up the book, I felt like I knew them personally by the time I had finished.

The Viceroys Daughters SpineIf you love social history and enjoy reading about the lives of women in the past, then you will almost definitely enjoy this book. I feel like I learned a lot from it and it painted such a clear picture of the era, that it was like stepping back in time. I am currently reading another book by Anne De Courcy, which I will be reviewing as soon as I’ve finished it.

The Viceroys Daughter The Lives of the Curzon SistersBuy the book on Amazon.

As usual, keep your book recommendations coming. I’ve had so many since my last review, that my wish-list is getting very long on Amazon.

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I love going to blogger and press events, where I get to try new things. I’ve been to a few recently which have involved crafting and I’ve enjoyed them all so much. A couple of moths ago I went to one hosted by Hochanda, a new art and craft channel. At the event we got to try four different activities. I only managed to get a few quick snaps of my creations on my phone. I thought I’d share them with you, to show what can be made in a quick session.

Hochanda Press dayThe event was held at the Ham Yard Hotel in London, which has the most fabulous decor and is one of my favourite venues for events in London. How awesome are the huge vintage movie posters!

Hochanda Press day WatercolourThe first thing I tried was water colour painting, something I’ve not tried in a really long time. My finished piece was far from perfect, but I really enjoyed giving it a try anyway. We were talked through each step of creating our picture and with a little work, I definitely think it’s something I could improve at. This mini workshop was hosted by The Society for all Artists, who encourage everyone to try to art no matter what their ability and sell a great range of art and painting supplies.

Hochanda Press Day Clarity StampNext I tried some paper craft with Clarity Stamp. You use a special tool to create beautiful embossed designs that you can use to create pictures and cards. This was so much fun and we got to take a little kit home, so I can make a few more things. I really like how my piece came out.

Hochanda Press day Die Cutting MachineI’ve never tried die cutting before, so it was great to have a quick lesson with Sizzix but I was amazed how quickly I was able to make this cute felt brooch. This has to be one of the most satisfying crafts I’ve ever tried and one day I love to invest in my own die cutting machine so I could make jewellery and appliqués to accessorise my clothes.

Hochanda Press Day Glitter ArtLastly I made a beautiful glitter picture with Imagination Crafts. To make these you use a stencil and a special glittery paint. This is so easy, quick and fun that anyone could do it. I’d love to make christmas cards using this technique one day.

It was great sampling some some of the craft supplies which are available through Hochanda. The channel is really fun to watch for lots of crafty inspiration and demonstrations. You can watch live on their website or on the following channels… SKY 663 Freeview 39 FreeSat 817 You can also buy your craft supplies online via the Hochanda website.

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I’ve been really enjoying putting together home posts, these last few weeks. I feel really inspired and I’ve enjoyed sharing some of the pictures I’ve taken at press days. I’ve already talked about tropical inspired interiors and old Hollywood glamour. Today’s look is from last years Laura Ashley press day. I chose this theme because I love the retro look of the leather sofa, mixed with lovely feminine shades of green, pink and purple. Laura Ashley Restful retro InteriorThe room has a lovely restful feel, while being really elegant and sophisticated. I love the additions of dark wood and bronze accessories, alongside shades of green and teal for the perfect grown up living room. The room is all about beautiful relaxing colours and a mixture of textures.

Laura Ashley Leather and VelvetAlthough all the furniture is from Laura Ashley and is brand new, the room as a perfect mix and match feel. It’s as if all the pieces have been picked up from antiques and vintage markets and perfectly placed together.

Laura Ashley Leather SofaThe leather sofa is my favourite piece from this look. It has a strong mid-century feel to it and I love the slightly aged look of the leather. Usually I think this would be quite a masculine piece, however it works perfectly accessorised with softer coloured cushions and floral accents in the rug and wallpaper. Putting it in the same room as the teal velvet sofa, really gives it that salvaged feel, which I absolutely adore.

Laura Ashley Leather Sofa and CushionsWhen we think of retro interiors we often associate them with the warm colours of the sixties and seventies, but this look goes to show that you can use a typically retro looking piece of furniture and soften the look with more luxuriously and classic colours and textiles.

Laura Ashley Home AccessoriesThe accessories have a lovely mis-matched feel, again they look like charming flea market finds. I really like the use of peacock feathers in vases, rather than flowers. To create this look choose 3 or 4 key colours and textures and find a variety of items that compliment each other.

Laura Ashley Coffee Table and HydrangeasHydrangeas are one of my favourite flowers and I love the way they have been used in this oversized vase. They hake a big impact and act as the perfect focal point in the middle of the room.

Laura Ashley Rug 2As you can see in the top pictures, two rugs have been layered up, which creates a lovely cosy feel to the seating area. Even if they are not layered up, using several rugs around the room can be a great way to bring the colours of your theme together.

Laura Ashley Pineapple Candle HoldersLike everyone else, I’m a bit obsessed with all things pineapple at the moment. Laura Ashley has absolutely loads of pineapple themed decor in stock. These candle holders are fabulous and pay homage to all the fabulous vintage pineapple pieces, that can be found if you look hard enough. These of course are far more affordable than the real thing.

I’ve picked out a few key pieces from the look, which are all currently available on the Laura Ashley website…

Laura Ashley Home Collage

Get the look: 1. Milford wallpaper now £18 – 2. Jewellery Box now £25.20 – 3. Peacock Cushion now £27 – 4. Scented Candle now £7.20 – 5. Lewes Rug from £119.70 – 6. Green Jug now £17.64 – 7. Rabbit Ornament £20 – 8. Round Cushion sold out – 9. Hurricane Lamp now £23.94 – 10. Lamp Stand now £81 – 11. Pineapple Candle Holder now £13.86 12. Coffee Table now £409.50 – 13. Milford Rug now £180 – 14. Whitworth Sofa from £1215 – *some items are currently reduced, so prices are correct at time of posting but may change.

 See the full range of homewares on the Laura Ashley website.

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All of a sudden the days are longer, the sun is shining (well, sometimes!) and our heads are full of picnics and Pimms. We think that the perfect way to enjoy these long idyllic days is with a vintage themed summer of pretty dresses and lazy daytrips with friends. Nothing says summer like a 50’s sundress, striped deckchairs or high tea in the great outdoors. With this in mind we have the best vintage fashion and lifestyle tips to keep you stay cool and stylish on summer days.

What to Wear

The sundress is the perfect way to style up this summer. Try a 50’s style in an easy to wear cotton for a real vintage vibe.

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The fun thing about these sundresses is the eye popping array of designs available from feminine florals to nautical stripes and everything in between, meaning there is a design for every taste and budget. The cinched in waist is also a flattering shape for pretty much all body shapes. For a real summer vibe pair with some wedges and a vintage straw hat to add some lady like cool to your look.

For those more active summer days try a cropped trouser or high-waisted short with a tied off shirt or blouse and a pair of ballet pumps. Perfect for messing about on the river or a summer bike ride out in the country.

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The Perfect Picnic

A proper vintage themed picnic is much more than a few warm sandwiches and wine in plastic cups. A vintage picnic should be about style, elegance and proper planning and is the perfect way to celebrate a special event this summer. First things first, this absolutely calls for a great picnic basket with flatware and glasses, you can pick these up online or in vintage stores and this will instantly up the cool points of your event. You will also need a cute vintage style blanket to complete the theme. Then plan a lunch of elegant nibbles, champagne and of course a cold jug of Pimms!

vintage-scarf-liberty-orange-ivory-stripes-floral-squares-frontVintage Seaside

Make a day at the beach a stylish event with a vintage look and accessories. Forget the sand covered beach towel and sun bleached costume, choose a vintage high waisted two piece to bring elegance and femininity to the seaside. Keep cool with an up-do covered with a vintage scarf and team with some cats eye sunglasses and red lipstick for screen siren cool.

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A traditional striped deckchair means you can sunbathe in vintage style and an authentic parasol will keep off the rays. For a real taste of the vintage seaside hire a beach hut with friends and experience a truly retro day out.

Summer is a time for fun and relaxation and what better way to enjoy this summer than to draw nostalgic inspiration from a more elegant age. So hit the vintage stores and stock up on the perfect accessories for a long, cool summer of classic style.

This lovely post was written for me by Nick from Mela Mela Vintage, a wonderful vintage shop in Twickenham. The shop is full of the most beautiful original vintage clothing and accessories and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for a really special true vintage item. 

Visit the shop in person – Mela Mela Vintage, 74 High Street, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 8JD

or see their extensive range of vintage fashion on the Mela Mela website. 

*sponsored guest post

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As a blogger, I get to go to lots of interesting events and try lots of new things, I feel so lucky to make the most of all the opportunities, which come my way. My favourite events are always the ones where I get to do something fun or be creative. A few weeks ago I was invited to an afternoon of crafts and art activities with Viking, the stationary supplier. The event was held in a lovely venue in London and was such a fun relaxing afternoon, I wish I could do it all again!

Viking Arty Party VenueWe were treated to lots of lovely cakes and drinks and got to try a selection of different craft activities. They had brought three lovely crafting experts to teach us different crafts, none of which I had really tried properly before.

First up was block printing with Tea and Crafting. We were provided with everything we needed to create a printed magazine file. This was a really simple and easy activity, which I would love to do again and again, with lots of different designs.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing TableWe had to design and cut out our own stamp to print with and everyone came up with some really fab designs. I decided to do a simple flower and print my design with orange paint.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing Close UpIt took a little while to get the hang of getting the right amount of paint for best results, but it was a really fun activity and it was great to chat with all the other bloggers while we worked on our masterpieces.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing Flower PatternThis is definitely an activity I’d like to try at home with the kids, and I’d also like to give it a go with fabric paints to design a mid-century style print to turn into a dress.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing Magazine FileI was really happy with how my finished piece came out. I have given it to Jessica for her bedroom, to organise some of her things.

Viking Arty Party Block Printed Magazine FilesEveryone else’s designs looked amazing too, especially the flamingo print!

IMG_7511-232Next we tried calligraphy, I’ve not done this since I was at school, so I was pretty much a complete beginner. This class was hosted by L’aise, who provide calligraphy workshops all over London.

Viking Arty Party Calligraphy AlphabetThis is definitely one of the most relaxing crafts I’ve ever tried. For the whole 45 minute session, we were all completely engrossed. It will definitely take lots of practise to get the hang of it, but I’m willing to persevere.

IMG_7507-230We got to take home our quills and ink, as well as some practise paper, so I’m going to keep practising until I’ve perfected it.

Viking Arty Party Catherine CalligraphyI’d love to be good enough to write my name like this!

IMG_7450-185Lastly we had a go at Mindful Origami with MindFOLDness. I’ve tried origami a few times, and it’s always something I’ve wanted to get good at.

Viking Arty Party Oragami TableI’m a big fan of colouring for mindfulness and as a form of relaxation and meditation. Mindful origami runs along the same lines and can be a great way to escape the world and have some quiet time to think and create.

Viking Arty Party Mindful Origami BouquetI loved the demonstration and really enjoyed having a go at making my own origami stalk. I’ll definitely persevere and try to have some quiet time to fold and reflect in the future.

Viking Arty Party Origami StalkWe talked about thinking about a person you care about while folding and then passing the finished piece on to them. I think this is such a nice idea and I’d like to make some mindful origami for the kids and my friends and family.

I really enjoyed the whole event and I’m looking forward to using some of the Viking bits from my goodie bag. Including some great pens from Sharpie and mugs to decorate with them.

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