All posts by Linda

Spotlight On The Chameleon By Root7

Root7 is a small company based in Wimbledon, London that specialises in designing drinking products, eg cups, mugs, glasses etc and they have just launched their Kickstarter campaign introducing their rather funky colour changing stainless steel water bottle, known as The Chameleon.  Root 7’s ethos is to #DrinkDifferently – by that they mean they only design drinking products that they love and that are either new in concept, looks or function.  Stainless steel water bottles are not “new” and The Chameleon looks like a water bottle …. sort of …. using thermochromic ink, which reacts to cold water,  the Root 7’s white bottle turns to a pretty colour once cold water is added.  As you drink the water, warmer air fills the void left changing the bottle back to white.  Adding to the fun factor, you can clasp your filled water bottle to make patterns with your fingers as the paint reacts to the heat of your fingertips!

The idea was created by the team in February 2018 – they wanted a fun way to encourage people to drink more water and to use less plastic.  The Kickstarter was launched this month and in 25 days the company hopes to not only launch the water bottle on a major scale but next Spring but it has other development ideas to add to the enjoyment of the product. With pledges starting from £11 – the company are offering a water bottle in a choice of 3 colours with matching “sun jacket” plus free shipping to the USA, UK and Europe. The Kickstarter products will be shipped in January, just in time to kickstart your 2019 New Year New You aim!  The water bottles will be hitting the retail shops around March 2019.

The bottle itself is rather sleek, slim and stylish ( not surprising after looking at Root 7’s other products).  Made of #304 food grade stainless steel, it is perfectly safe to be reusable.  It is not for boiling water or thermos uses though – just cold water! The slim design makes it very easy to transport – fitting neatly into handbags, gym bags, school bags, etc and yet it holds a capacity of 600mls (21 fl.oz). Root 7 has worked hard to ensure that the bottle and its lid was leakproof too.

At the moment the water bottles come in 3 different “filled” colours – blue, peach and purple.  Magenta looks to be in the pipeline for Spring 2019 too.  The lid also has a tag the colour of your bottle when filled – practical as when empty the water bottle is white and the lid just gives a reminder which bottle is yours!  Super handy if you have a family with identical water bottles – it will save a lot of arguments!

Each bottle comes with a “sun” jacket to help prolong the bottle’s life.  The stainless steel water bottle will last many years – the ink changing the bottle’s colour will last but will need looking after.  The “sun” jacket is made from tear resistant silicone which will help protect the water bottle from bumps, scratches and harmful UV rays. Clean your bottle by gently using warm water and washing up liquid  and give it a shake – avoid scrubbing and don’t put in the dishwasher.

Get yourself over to the Kickstarter website and order one or more of these stylish water bottles.  As the news headlines tell us that over 38 million water bottles are sent to landfills each year; that plastics are being dumped in our rivers and oceans; that we should drink more water; eat healthily …. it makes sense to back a project like this, don’t you think?!

Linda x

DISCLAIMER:  The post does contain an affiliate link but all views I’ve expressed are purely my own.

Photos & Gifs have been published with kind permission of Root 7.

 

 

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My Favourite New Season Nail Colours

I am addicted to buying nail colours. There, I said it.  I have just moved my bottles into a larger toiletry bag.  I love the array of colours and shades available. I love to match my nail colour to whatever I’m wearing – sometimes not.  I have even bought a new nail colour today! I counted my hoard this evening – it was more than my shoe collection – 45 – including 10 different shades of green.   Can you not guess that green is my favourite colour?!

Talking to the assistant in the pharmacy this afternoon about nail colours, I told her that I couldn’t resist a new shade.  She replied that she doesn’t indulge herself, but she goes to the nail bar for her professionally applied colours that last 3 weeks.  I tried having my nails professionally done – I liked the result – BUT, yes there is a BUT – for me, at any rate.

My reasons for preferring bottled nail colours over professional gel nails:

  • My nails are short – I can’t work or type with long nails – and I feel that people with long, pretty nails benefit from the professional touch.
  • If I’m working in the warehouse, especially opening boxes, my nails are likely to get chipped.  I’d hate to spend money on lovely looking nails that, in the best will of the world, would be chipped half an hour later.  Holiday time is the best time to treat myself at the nail bar for those stunning finger & toe nails.
  • I get bored easily wearing the same colour, day in, day out. I like to change my nail colour on a daily basis!

I have found that some “cheaper” brands are actually better nail polishes than expensive brands in many ways.  I am attracted to colour choice, thickness (I don’t like a thin, watery colour), gel or gel like finish and quick to dry.  Here are some of my recent favourite nail colour purchases:

POUNDLAND

For £1 (or, in some cases 50p if they are end of range), you just can’t beat Poundland for nail colours.  They tick all of my boxes: cheap, great colour selection, great 1st layer colour (not too thick or thin) and very quick drying.  Decent size bottle too. My two favourite colours from this season’s collection are Copper Kiss and Mushroom Magic.

If you are a fan of pinks/reds or sparkles then Poundland’s Autumn/Winter range should certainly satisfy you, though!

GEORGE AT ASDA

I like this supermarket’s range of gel effect nail colours – the 4 colours from their range this season that I’ve bought are (from left to right) Mali-blu; Twilight; Dusk; Echo.  The gel effect nail colours are dearer than the other type of nail enamel produced by Asda, but you are still looking at around £3.  Quite a small bottle, but the colours glide on perfectly first time with a decent first coat and are quick drying. I love the latest colour, Twilight, that was introduced in October. It is a dark teal/navy with subtle sparkle… gorgeous.  Here’s me wearing Mali-blu (only one coat applied):

AVON

You are spoilt for choice with Avon.  I have bought many colours and types over the years and found them quite excellent on application, colour and drying abilities.  I’ve bought 2 colours from Avon this Autumn – both pastel shades despite the season – Moondust and Lemonade.

OTHER BRANDS

I also recently bought 4 other colours from different brands :

Rimmel “On Fleek” 60 seconds Super Shine.   This was the colour I bought today. It is a gold/black/green colour that is super sparkly – just great for the Holiday/Party season. Rimmel is one of my favourite make up brands and this nail colour dries super quick.

Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer in “Gleaming Teal”. Fab colour & coverage.

Maybelline Color Show 60 seconds in “Watery Waste” & “Downtown Red”.  Perhaps the most expensive of my favoured nail colours – I love the Maybelline brand and the nail colours are pretty bold (& quick drying).

Do you like nail colours? Any favourites? Let me know  via  my Facebook Page what you think!

For Pinning

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

 

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An Interview With Spark

This week I’m talking about kitchen gadgets, utensils and gizmos – those gadgets that  you think you don’t have a need for, then you get one and you realise it is an absolute godsend for making your life easier! I bet every household has got at least one  kitchen gadget that may not be a necessity but its versatility renders it one of your favourite kitchen items. If you haven’t got such a gadget, then perhaps my guest this week will tempt you with one of his creations. I’m talking with Billy Dulay, co founder of “Products By Spark” – a small company that has big ideas – its Splatter Catcher and Infinity Mat are just two items worth looking at. Hi Billy & welcome!

Hello & welcome to “Spark”, a small but growing company specializing in “The newest kitchen gadgets/utensils and beyond”. We believe passionately in innovation and first-rate service, which is why we commit ourselves to giving you the best of both. If you’re looking for something new, you’re in the right place. We strive to be industrious and inventive, offering our customers something they need but with an innovative twist, putting their desires at the top of our priority list.

What was the inspiration behind the introduction of the Splatter Catcher and the Infinity Mat?

The Splatter Catcher, this idea was made after cooking a rather splattery chicken thigh for dinner. Covered in grease, we wanted to develop a product that wouldn’t affect the food in any way but keeps stoves clean, behold the Splatter Catcher.

The Infinity Mat was a bi-product of our creative juices after creating the Splatter Catcher, “What multi-use tool can we create which will be a must in any kitchen?” thus sparking into life the Infinity Mat.

There are similar items on sale from other brands – so what are the main selling points of your products?

The Splatter Catcher is the first product of its kind to the hit the UK market, the main selling points are as follows:-

Fits 28cm pans (Diameter)
BPA free – Made from fully compliant 100% food grade silicone 
Heat resistant up to 230 Celsius
Dishwasher Safe – Place on to two racks of the dishwasher, leave out to dry.
Easy roll up storage
Seamless application – Tab system allows for the Splatter catcher to be applied with ease, ensuring it has been applied securely.
Allows all steam to escape the pan
Blocks fine oil from escaping – rest assured that your cooking surface and clothes will be free of any fine oil splatters.
Prevents Spills – freely overfill the pan without the fear of food contents dropping out of the pan. Perfect for large stirfries

The Infinity Mat not only has uses for indoor and outdoor application:-

Trivet
Food Cover
Placemat
Jar Opener
Oven Glove
Grip for your chopping board
And Many More!

It is also available in 4 different colours.

The Splatter Catcher and the Infinity Mat come in array of lovely bright colours – which colour seems to be the most popular amongst your customers?
Yellow and Red – These colours can brighten up the dullest of kitchens.
Are there any new additions to your range of products in the pipeline for 2019?

Yes! Yes! Yes! There’s definitely more in store for 2019 we haven’t even got started.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to customers abroad?

Yes, we ship all over the world.

Working in the field of kitchen products, as you do, do you enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking? If so, do you have a signature dish?

When I can get time I love cooking. I’m not the best chef in the world however I’d like to say I’d hold my own in the “Chicken Stir Fry Arena” which is my signature dish.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Jeans, open collar shirt and blazer – smart casual and definitely a nice pair of shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

Definitely Asos.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Has to be a nice winter coat, I’m dreading winter.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – Look smarter.


Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the Splatter Catcher & The Infinity Mat.

Website (www.productsbyspark.com)

Instagram – (_sparkproducts)

Thank you Billy for chatting to us about your kitchen gadgets.  I can just imagine you cooking your stir fry and pondering over how you can make sure the oil doesn’t splatter everywhere…. 🙂 I didn’t realise just how many different ways you can use the Infinity Mat – definitely  a useful item to have in the kitchen.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Products By Spark (Billy Dulay).

 

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Introducing Alphabetville

I’m pleased to introduce onto my blog this week illustrator Mary-Louise Hussey.  I have followed Mary on Twitter for a while now – her little creature drawings that make up Alphabetville, remind me of illustrations that used to be in my fairytale books as a child.  Her illustrations and the animal characters are delightful –  such a lovely way to introduce ABC.  I caught up with Mary-Louise recently to talk about her illustrations, Alphabetville and  life in the 1970s! Hi Mary-Louise!

Hello, my name is Mary-Louise Hussey and I was brought up in West Sussex in the UK.  I had an unusual childhood living in the wing of a grand old Victorian mansion, a preparatory school for boys.  I don’t remember being lonely, but looking back it was an insular existence to begin with spending long days in the nursery, or playing in the garden under the Old Lime Tree with imaginary friends, mostly of the wildlife kind.

When I left school I was sent off to various ‘courses for young ladies’ in London preparing me for life! One of these was Lucy Clayton modelling school, which taught me how to glide down a ‘cat walk’, and though tall and lanky apparently ‘my neck was too short for modelling’, something I am still self conscious about! Luckily this led me to look down other avenues.  Working in a glamorous fashion shop in Knightsbridge, the ‘heart of smart’ in London, gave me a lust for the latest fashions.  Mary Quant, Biba, miniskirts, hot pants, buckets of makeup and Beatles music were all the rage.  Inspired by this experience and with a small legacy from my grandmother I opened ‘Sheba’, my clothes ‘Boutique’ and fashion mecca in a charming little country village.  The 1970s were dizzy days and my confidence blossomed.

Later married and with two young daughters, we moved away to rural Herefordshire. Glorious countryside and friendly people, I took up painting once again.  With an urge to set up another business I fell into my new career.  Sheba Designs, a mail order catalogue selling ‘Personalised Gifts for Children’, most notably ‘Illustrated Name Pictures’.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Animals at Work’ who live in Alphabetville?

I’m so glad you asked me this as the memories are still quite deep. You remember the Old Lime Tree I was telling you about in our garden – I loved that tree?  Sadly in 1987 there was a hurricane which ravaged the countryside in the South of England.  We went down from Herefordshire to my old home, and I wept when I saw my Old Lime Tree had been whipped up and flung down, broken. Right then and there I determined that the memory of this beautiful old lime tree and the happy times spent under it with my imaginary friends should not be lost. On returning home I immediately set about designing my little animal alphabet ‘Animals at Work’ who now live in Alphabetville.  The design was a huge success in my business and when a Japanese wholesaler asked me at my trade stand at an exhibition if I had written stories around the characters, I crossed all fingers and said ‘YES’.  At home I feverishly created characters for my little animals and gave them the village of Alphabetville to make their home.  And that is where they are to this day making children everywhere happy.

You have written and illustrated 2 children’s picture books based on the antics of the animals of Alphabetville.  Can you describe Alphabetville in a nutshell and how the books can help young children in mastering their alphabet?

I love this question, but how to fit Alphabetville into a nutshell, and how to crack it without shattering the illusion? I’ll do my best.

The village is down in a little dell….not far from you actually!  Tarquin and Tarqueena the slightly eccentric Royals who live in ‘The Royal Oak Palace,’ leave all the essential running of the busy village to ‘The Animals at Work’.  From the School, the thriving Gift Factory and the Railway Station and Farm, to the Corner Shop and Church all is run fairly smoothly.  It’s not always a tight ship, but it’s fairly average really except that it is run by ANIMALS. Oh and did I say that they get into quite a pickle sometimes, well who doesn’t?

Our plan is at this early stage of learning the alphabet, for The ‘Animals at Work’ to become your children’s best friends – simple.  You see each animal’s name cleverly starts with a different letter of the alphabet. Ie.  Albert Mole head teacher of the village school, Boris Bear the chef who loves hot and spicy food,  Clarrie the caring nurse,  ‘Dodge’ Dougal the village policeman etc. So while the child becomes familiar with the characters and their names they soon begin to recognise the accompanying letters…. Here is the first tentative and enjoyable step towards learning their ABC.

I love the Alphabetville animals – my favourite is Gloria Gussey – a stunning lizard who is a super model with brains who hopes to become a doctor!  Have you got a fondness for any particular character?

I just have to say Emmie the talented faMouse artist or she would clobber me – because she is ME and my alto ego.  One major difference being that she has 12 little ‘mouselings’…. and I don’t!  I blame Emmie (Emeraldine) for the painting of all the pictures in my books, which sort of lets me off the hook a bit. Furthermore In a corridor in the Alphabetville village school you can find ‘Rogues Gallery’ where Emmie’s portraits of each of the pupils hang on their leaving.  She is now proud to have over 10,000 followers on her Twitter account. Have a peek @AnimalsatWork

When did you start designing and hand painting illustrated name pictures?

Both my daughters had started school and I took up painting again in earnest.  But one day trying something new, I illustrated a name picture with wildflowers for my goddaughter Amanda. It seemed to be a hit with those who saw it and I capitalised on that by taking a few orders from friends, then from coffee mornings, charity fairs, school functions and so on until I brought out my Mail Order catalogue and started advertising and even ventured into the wholesale market.

I can tell you are an animal lover – but are you scared or wary of any particular animal in real life? (I’m wary of cows and ants)

Yes, I love animals but I have to admit to being nervous of horses.  I was ‘plonked’ on a pony at the age of about 7 years and told to hold on tight.  The novice teacher led four of us off across a field at a trot.  Soon out of control I tumbled off and was promptly ‘plonked’ on again, whereupon the pony took off back to the stables with me hanging on for dear life. I love them but I have never trusted a horse since.

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with art or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

I rather fancied myself as a pop star when I was in my teens.  I used to strum along on my guitar with friends and we spent hours recording ourselves on a big old fashioned recording machine, we were pretty awful but had lots of fun. I will soon be recording the songs I have composed for The Animals at Work.

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere?  Do you prefer hardback, paperback or Kindle? Favourite genre?

In a deckchair in the garden with the sound of birds singing in the trees, however that’s nearly impossible unless on holiday.  So as my husband goes to bed before me I crawl in to my side of the bed with my Kindle under the bedclothes and read till my eyes close. One of my historical novels will keep me awake like this for a short time but I usually find the Kindle still there when I wake up early the next morning.

Where can people purchase your Illustrated Name Pictures and books?  Is there worldwide availability?

Both through my website www.alphabetville.net                                                                                                                              The books and (eBook to come) –  self publishing at  https://www.blurb.co.uk/b/862c                                                                                                   Twitter @AnimalsatWork                                                                                              Facebook  –  Alphabetville

Personal now – What outfits and shoes would you normally be wearing?

With long legs but rather thick ankles I normally wear trousers to flatter/hide my shape.  Colour is my thing, so my tops are many and varied.  Well cut shirts for style in linen or cotton, or silk skimming the hips, printed over tops, often with a matching scarf. Casual but neat flat shoes mainly or boots in the winter.  I’d be more wacky if I could find fun clothes for my age group.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

That’s a bit difficult really because I pick up clothes wherever I find them.  I used to be very fussy having had my own shop in days gone by, but now I seem to find clothes are all too classical for me and not adventurous enough.  It’s not fun anymore and after shopping in shops or online I seem to end up with the same dull old things.

What next on your clothes/ shoe/accessory wish list?

I am now a blond haired person in a previously dark haired person’s clothing!  So I need to reassess my wardrobe completely really and go for subtle colours and soft flowing materials with drapes to hide unwanted lumps and bumps.  Flattering warm brown and light caramel colours with splashes of burnt coral. Short donkey brown boots and a large cashmere shawl to dashingly fling round your neck.  That doesn’t sound at all like ‘old me’, but then I’m not the ‘old me’ any more.

Boots or Shoes?

A good pair of stylish boots… or two, will take you anywhere and hide the thick ankles.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc. so that readers can find out more about you and the Animals at Work in Alphabetville.

Website: www.alphabetville.net

Facebook: Alphabetville

Twitter: @AnimalsatWork

Books:  1.  Animals at Work in Alphabetville,  2. Albert’s Birthday Surprise

Ahh…the hurricane of 1987..I remember it well as I had moved to my first house away from my parents who lived in London, to a small village in coastal Essex that very day the hurricane struck. We had a tree hang precariously over the bungalow but it was safely removed and thankfully, no other lasting damage! Sorry to hear of the demise of the Old Lime Tree, though.

Thank you for taking the time to chat to us about your beautiful illustrations and  Alphabetville – it has been a real treat! 🙂

Linda x

All illustrations/photos have been published with the very kind permission of Mary-Louise Hussey

 

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Problem Solving In The 21st Century

According to a recent Carphone Warehouse Survey of over 2000 adults in the UK, 83% turn to the internet for help – whether it’s to solve a personal problem, self diagnose an ailment, read up on facts, getting a DIY tip or recipe, get career guidance, find love and friendship.  I know in my household, that for awkward homework questions and project work in general, “Google” is our friend rather than the set of Encyclopedia Britannica and World Atlas that used to occupy my bedroom shelves in the 1970s.  I do still have an updated World Atlas in book form and I do enjoy poring over the maps in a geeky kind of way – however, there is no denying that for fast information, the internet is kingpin.

In order to highlight some of the changes in problem solving in the 21st century, Carphone Warehouse also commissioned a set of 5 fun illustrations, reimagining the storyline of 5 iconic pre-21st century movies for the digital age:

BRIEF ENCOUNTER….

According to the results in the survey it seems that the internet gives us social courage and, in some cases, a silver tongue.  25% of Londoners look for help finding friends online.  16% of men are more likely to look for help regarding their love life than women (9%).

PSYCHO…

Before going to any hotel, motel or inn, do you check out the place nowadays online before booking? Do you read the reviews?  I know I do! 

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS…

How many of us shop online or use auction sites such as eBay? To sell & buy used items locally it used to be an advert placed in our local village shop window … and hastily try and find a pen & paper in your coat pocket to note down a number or address of the item you wanted.

SCHOOL OF ROCK…

With sites such as Link’dIn and Facebook, how many of us check somebody out online before meeting them?  You can be sure that nowadays employers check out potential employees before interviewing them …. their appearance, credentials and lots more besides! I read some wise words in a meme recently that said “Never post anything onto your Facebook/Social Media profile that you wouldn’t want your granny reading!” …

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT…

Got to go to a new destination? Finding locations and addresses and directions is so much easier with Google maps, SatNav devices and smartphone apps that can locate your position easily if you get lost.  

Isn’t it just amazing how quickly society has absorbed the internet and how much we rely on the internet! Other interesting data findings from the survey found that 45% go online for meal inspirations; 56% of women are most likely to be looking for health and wellbeing advice; 49% of men are most likely to turn to the internet for help with their personal finances; and 73% of respondents find it easier to approach their crushes online. 

Interesting stuff! What  problem solving help do you use the internet for?

LINDA x

My thanks goes to the Problem Solving CarPhone Warehouse Campaign & Study for giving me permission to publish both the data findings and the commissioned illustrations. https://www.carphonewarehouse.com/broadband/internet-problem-solving.html

Header/Pin photograph by Linda Hobden.

 

 

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An Interview With Max Lemari

Using the finest Italian leather, Italian shoe makers Max Lemari, have added to their collection of the classic Italian male staple shoe, the driving moccasin,  and are now offering customised driving loafers.   These shoes are extremely stylish  – all hand constructed, hand stitched and hand painted.  I was lucky enough to interview the brand CEO Max Guidi about his brand, his obsession with shoes and to ask, if there was going to be a female version of the driving loafer …. Hi Max!

Hello. My name is Max Guidi. I’m CEO of Max Lemari. I’ve been working all my life in the fashion industry.  I was chief product and development officer for Gucci, Armani, Burberry, Dior and collaborated with many more high-end brands. Max Lemari is the union of two names: Max is mine and Donato Lovito Lemari is the artisan responsible for the shoes’ manufacture.

What made your company decide to concentrate on driving loafers?

Because it’s the shoe category that exalt our expertise. Lemari has been manufacturing loafers for over 40 years for some of the most expensive brands in the world. When we handcraft loafers, we are sure that we have the best quality on earth.

In your latest collection, I like the look of the Capri in yellow & blue  What styles and colours are most popular amongst your customers?

During last summer our best seller was the Ischia Taupe & Yellow

https://maxlemari.com/product/ischia-taupe-yellow/

Have you got a favourite style & colour from your collection?

Yes, I love the exclusive silk calf leather and I wear the Salina Mucchina

https://maxlemari.com/product/salina-mucchina/

How can a customer get his loafers customised?

From our website product pages, you can automatically put your initials in our drivers and we will engrave it for you. If you want a total customization, a special number or something else, you can contact us and we will do our best to make it happen.

https://maxlemari.com/contact-us/

Hypothetically speaking, which famous male, dead or alive, would you love to see as the “ambassador” for Max Lemari?

Giorgio Armani – I’ve been working with him and I remember that he was always very elegant yet casual. I think he would have loved our mocs.

Growing up, have you always been obsessed with shoes and been interested in a shoemaking/ designing career?

Actually, my first dream was to be a pilot. Maybe that’s another reason why we are making drivers 😀

At the moment you are only manufacturing driving loafers for men. Have you got plans in the future to design similar footwear for women?

Yes, we want to launch a women driver as well. We are already developing the first prototypes, but for now we’re keeping them secret.

You are based in Italy – are your shoes available to order overseas?

Yes, we want to be global. Customers will have to wait a couple more days for the shoes to arrive, but we are doing our best to ship everywhere.

 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

During the week I usually wear high end sneakers. They are really comfortable.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)

I like Hermes very much.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

It’s the Dior jacket with the bee sewn on the heart.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes. Italian weather is not so cold and I’m happy wearing shoes all year long.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Max Lemari and your range of driving loafers for men.

The best place is to visit our website:  http://www.maxlemari.com/

Thank you Max.  My youngest son has ambitions of being a pilot and he does like looking his best… perhaps his future lies in the shoe industry too!  I look forward to those driving shoes for ladies – the men’s styles are fabulous and such gorgeous colourways!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Max Guidi  (Max Lemari)

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An Interview With Melissa D

Described as having “the style of Karen Carpenter with the whispering of Melissa Etheridge”, my guest on the blog this week is singer/songwriter/recording artist and down to earth nature girl Melissa D from the New England state of Vermont.  Hi Melissa & welcome….

Hey, My name is Melissa D and I am a recording artist and singer/songwriter. I do Americana Folk Rock.

What made you decide to pursue a solo musical career as an independent singer/songwriter?

I have been in bands for years and have always written songs on my own but never had the courage to perform/record them.  As I got older, I realized that my worst fear was that I would die with my music inside me so I started taking steps to make these dreams come true.  I live in a rural area and I am an independent artist so I cannot do it in the conventional way (big tours and major record deals), but I am finding my own way in a grassroots/on the ground kind of way that feels so empowering and enjoyable! The internet has made it possible for independent artists to have a voice and get themselves out there. I am so grateful for this!

Your single – “Love Of My Life” – was written for your husband, Alan.  You kept the single a secret until your wedding day, when you surprised him by having the recording played at your wedding. How romantic! Obviously your husband was the inspiration behind this particular song – but your your other tunes, where do you most often find inspiration?

My inspiration comes mostly from being out in nature.  I love the quiet and calm of sitting by a river or smelling the night air and looking at the stars. It helps me to think and process things.   I also get inspired by road trips and doing mundane household tasks like dishes or cleaning.  I like to write about life experiences and other people’s experiences.  I have had a lot of relationships gone bad before my husband Alan, so this gives me lots of material to work with…lol

You are currently a solo artist, but in the past you were a former rock front-woman for The Alley Katz and a previous member of CHILL, an acoustic act.  What are the main advantages & disadvantages of being a solo artist?  Do you miss not being part of a group?

Being solo is cool in that I don’t have to run my ideas by a bunch of people. I can do what I want.   I tend to be a people pleaser (I am working on curing that….lol) and I would do songs or stuff I didn’t want to do to make bandmates/band leaders happy.  Also, it is challenging as a woman being in a male dominated industry when you are in a group. Often your ideas can get dismissed or you are seen as “just the singer” or you get hit on.  But on the flip side of that there is a challenge when you are solo in that as a woman you feel more vulnerable plus I am an introvert (which means I tend to be more reserved and quiet and I need alone time to “recharge my batteries”) so that heightens that sense of vulnerability.  This has been a challenge but the immense freedom and excitement that I feel being solo is amazing.  I have a wonderful network of musician colleagues that I continue to work with in terms of gigs, recording and jamming so I still get to grow professionally but at the end of the day, I feel more empowered than I have ever felt with my music.

You are a classically trained vocalist – but, what were your musical influences growing up?

Oh so many! John Denver, Stevie Nicks, Karen Carpenter, Amy Grant, Linda Ronstadt, hymns and Christian music that I would sing in church, Pretty much most 80’s pop.  James Taylor and Melissa Etheridge songs were the anthems of my young adult years!

Have you always wanted to be a musician or did you have any other career in mind?

Music is a calling  and I have always done it at some level. Its just what I do.  For my “day job” I have a master’s degree in counseling and I work in the helping profession, which I feel is another calling for me.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to perform a duet with any singer, dead or alive, who would you sing with and what song would you pick?

Wow, tough one to pick….I would say, John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane.

What genre of music do you personally listen to?

I pretty much listen to and am open to all genres except for hardcore rap, but tend to gravitate mostly towards 80’s rock, Americana, folk rock, blues, blue grass, meditation, ambient music.  I also love instrumental piano and guitar, gospel and Gregorian chant (accepela music).

What was the last concert you attended?

Enerjazz, my brother’s jazz band.

Imagine you are driving through your country lanes of southern Vermont – what song would be top of your list to croon to whilst playing car karaoke?

“You got a friend” – James Taylor

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love jeans and t-shirts and hanging out clothes like cozy flannel shirts, but I also love anything with bling and bright colors and lace like when I am dressing up.  I think my favorite outfit is a well broken in pair of jeans with a cool, funky shirt with a bit of bling.  For shoes, I love hiking boots, pretty little flats and of course cowboy boots! I am not one for heels, never have been but admire them but more like a piece of art…lol

Do you have any favourite designers?

Not really, I just buy what is comfortable and looks cool!

Boots or Shoes?

hmmmmm, well living in Vermont, you have to have boots, that’s how you survive the long winters, but I do have quite a few shoes.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more you & follow your career.

I am giving away a “care package” of 4 songs plus access to my Kindred community @ vermontmadesongs.net  My website is melissadmusic.com.  All the links to my SM are on there.  I also have a facebook group for Introverts and Empaths called “Innies who love music & stories”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1984956098449512/?source_id=563170250437106

Great talking to you Melissa – fabulous choice for car karaoke – “You’ve Got A Friend” is one of those tunes I belt out (badly) in the car too!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Melissa D

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An Interview With Turban Designer Veronique Salagean

I’m privileged this week to introduce onto the blog the world’s first turban designer – Veronique Salagean.  VS Turbans is an exclusive London based label founded by Veronique in 2015.  Veronique aims to dispel the controversy that surrounds turbans – the origins of turbans relate actually to royalty and not religion.  The earliest evidence of a turban dates back to the 1st century BC in Persia. Enjoying a brief renaissance amongst jet setters in the 1960s, turbans are becoming trendy again with celebrities such as Beyoncé and Eva Mendes recently rocking the look.  Finding the subject of turbans fascinating, I couldn’t wait to ask Veronique about her love for turbans…. Hi  Veronique….

 

Hi! I am Veroniqué Salagean, the world’s first Turban Designer.

What inspired the passion for turbans?

My style, creativity and uniqueness.

Have you always had an interest in fashion?

As a child I’ve been always dressed up to appear on stage – my mother was a seamstress – and at 6 years old I fell in love with textures. At 7 years old I had my very first tailor that I remember visiting for fittings. Even my casual hat at that time was made of the same cotton as my whole outfit. Afterwards I received clothes item gifts from my grandmother every weekend. From then to now I have had bespoke made clothes. 

What made you decide to turn your passion into a career and launch your brand, VS Turbans?

First of all,  I turned it into a brand because I walked into a room selling the turban I was wearing and that was the moment that gave me the realisation I was made for it. But personally speaking, my insane love for creating and wanting many babies, so many babies and now I have hundreds, made the actual empire. This is the way I see it and my creations (turbans) are my babies. This love of turbans backs up any loneliness, frustration or hurt I experience.

Your turbans range from simple drapes to drapes in silk, raffia and leather. Have you got a favourite from the range?

I do love working with anything based on 100% silk fibres but my actual choice that I truly love, is beaded fabric. It’s a very heavy material, but lush and alluring.

This season’s colour palette include latex silver, basis cream, lobster red, emerald, light calico, basis kaffee and gold.What colours is most popular amongst your customers at the moment? 

Basis kaffee and gold. 

Each turban is individually handmade to fit the client like a crown. What has been the most extravagant turban you’ve designed?

Creatively extravagant has been The Snake Ground designed for myself. It has got 21 rows of 1 and a half metres of black pearls hanging – an absolute artwork. The 1 Million turban was extravagant in terms of wealth.

As you are based in the UK, are your turbans available to purchase overseas?

Absolutely. My turbans travel worldwide.

Previously the look of jet setters in the 1960s, Turbans have become back on trend with stars such as Beyoncé and Eva Mendes rocking the look. Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady would you love to be the “face” of VS Turbans?

It’s a very good question and I must admit I’ve always seen myself until 120 years old posing and being the face of VS Turbans. But if I have to choose a person that will be Sheikha Moza bint Nasser only because I discovered her when I was 14 years old and pinned her image as I was fascinated by her beauty. Another person would be Rihanna as she is an unique, confident woman.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My daily appearance is an elegant casual approach that feels comfortable. I go for trousers and shoes with low heel when working in the studio making turbans.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own)

I do shop from matchesfashion but favourite shops in particular I haven’t got. I tend to have bespoke made clothes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am sharing with you my actual new autumn/winter look and I hope you can imagine it.  It will be black latex high rise boots with jodhpurs and short fur jacket accessorised with an extravagant version of The Snake Ground (made of leather in warm colour with gold crystal necklaces hanging on the back to the floor level – about 21 rows). This look is for afternoon time towards early evening worn on public appearance, short meetings or shopping time.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots if it’s autumn or winter or on a changeable day in the summer time. My shoes are mainly with a low heel. I love comfort when working as I need no pain. However my wardrobe is dominated by heels!

For pinning later

Fancy a Turban?

Visit the VS Turban collection – http://www.vsturbans.com

VS Turbans collection range from £400 to £2,000

By appointment at Wellbeck Street, London, W1G 8DY

Web:http://www.vsturbans.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/vsturbans

Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/vsturbans

I really love the sound of your Autumn/Winter look, Veronique! Your designs are very elegant and lush – you are extremely talented and it’s great that from a young age your love of textiles has shone through to shape your career! Thanks for sharing your creations and thoughts with us.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Veronique Salagean.

 

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An Interview With St James Whitting

This week my blog is heading down under to chat to Australian interior design company, St James Whitting.  In the Southern Hemisphere, spring has descended and there is no better time to revamp and redecorate. Not to be left out, the Northern Hemisphere’s Autumn/Fall season is a great excuse to check out the fabulous rugs and cosy interior ideas. And the artwork is fab too! Welcome…

Catherine on the left; Kate on the right

Who are “St James Whitting”?

Kate St James FDIA and Catherine Whitting AssDIA, are two designers passionate about creating eco-friendly, sustainable interiors and products that are healthy for people and the planet.
London born Kate is the founding editor-in-chief of Grand Designs Australia magazine, Home Design and several additional magazines, a role she held for 16 years before co-founding St James Whitting.  Prior to her editorial role, Kate ran an interior design practice for more than 15 years in Brisbane and Sydney. 
Along with co-founding St James Whitting, Sydney-based Catherine also lectures interior design at The Design Centre, Enmore, Sydney’s pre-eminent college for interior design studies.  Catherine also ran her business Décor Instyle prior to co-founding SJW. The company creates interiors for residential and commercial projects. It also has a range of homewares called The Elementals Collection which includes five designs for Designer Rugs Australia; 147 paint colours across 21 palettes coloured by Resene paints and seven designs for fabrics with Hemp Gallery Australia and a range of products for social enterprise company, Vida.  There is also a fine art collection of limited edition Giclee prints, represented by The Curious Art Bar.

What was it about interior designing that made you want to pursue interior design as a career? What was the motive behind setting up St James Whitting?

Interior design allows us to indulge our creative sides, but it is also a practical skill.  Creating beautiful, well-designed spaces for people to live and work in is an exciting opportunity. We both understand how spaces affect the way people live and work, and how architecture and design can influence our lives in a positive way; and we love finding solutions to problems,and making people happy! St James Whitting came about after we met at an industry function and spent many hours talking about our passion for eco-friendly design and how we would love to design an eco-resort. While the resort is yet to be realised, we have created many beautiful residential and commercial interiors and look forward to continuing to change people’s lives through great design.

Inked Up pure wool rug by St James Whitting for Designer Rugs shown with the Inked Up Palette from the paint range

I love the custom designed rugs that you do. To date, what has been your most popular art work or item?

The most popular rug in the range has to be Alcatraz, although all designs have been well received in the marketplace.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

Our favourite piece in the rug collection is Inked Up.  We lovethe swirling pattern and the way in which the design suits both classic and contemporary styles.

When it comes to interior design, I do like pale clean walls (currently favouring pale silver grey and aqua shades of blue) with brightly coloured accessories.  What colours/styles do you tend to favour?

There are no specific colours or schemes we use as each new project comes with its own brief and we use colours that provide the best outcomes. For us colour is under, or poorly used in many situations and it is our mission to bring a greater understanding and use of colour to our projects. We created our own range of paints with Resene paints this year.  There are 147 colours in the range and we love them all!

Walls painted Teal Terrain from the SJW Elementals Collection coloured by Resene. Quilted bed topper in Ripples designed by SJW for Hemp Gallery Australia; cushions designed by SJW for Hemp Gallery Australia including Wildflowers, Ripples, Kindling Sticks and Firespike.

Kate, you’ve written 3 e-books on sustainable design & interiors; Ian is a passionate advocate for sustainability and the creation of low impact, sustainable urban communities. What ideas could a person incorporate when designing their home to make it adequately sustainable?

My top tips for creating a more sustainable home are:

  • Use passive-solar design principles when creating a new home design or renovation
  • Insulate – floors, walls and ceilings
  • Use double glazing to thermally control temperatures
  • Use zero VOC paints, glues and grouts, board and materials for a healthier interior environment
  • Select furniture and furnishings that do not contain or are manufactured with toxic materials
  • Provide good ventilation
  • Use as many natural materials as possible including FSC timber, hemp fabrics, eco paints, pure wool carpets and textiles, linen bedding and products with a clear provenance and chain of custody.

Growing up, did you all have dreams of being interior designers or did you have other career plans?

Kate: In my teens  I studied classical music and wanted to be an opera singer. However, a move to Australia halted those aspirations. I pursued a career in journalism in the early 1970s but after meeting husband to be, Ian who was studying architecture, I turned my sights to interior design.

Catherine: I studied art and painting; my  lifelong passion.  After teaching art, I moved into design and now I teach interior design when not designing for clients.

Nantucket Sunrise I & II by Kate St James and Catherine Whitting. Limited Edition fine art giclee prints of original mixed media

As St James Whitting is based in Australia, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

The rugs, fabrics and artworks can be shipped worldwide. We do not yet have any overseas stockists, but we’re working on that!

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new interior design collection or artwork collection, where would you go and why?

Catherine and I have been talking about Avignon of late, and we are also planning a trip to Italy next year. Both places would provide lots of inspiration.  But there’s nothing like the Australian landscape with its diversity of flora, fauna and topography, not to mention light and colour, to provide inspiration for our designs.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Kate: We both have a penchant for natural fibres including hemp and linen.  I love red and Catherine loves shades of green. My shoes  are flat and heels for Catherine.  We both wear black and love to dress this up with scarves from our collection with Vida, and jewellery by MisSMash.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

We both try to shop locally, in small boutiques where quality fabrics and local designers are represented. We rarely buy clothes online.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Kate: With summer on the horizon, more linen and casual pieces in soft colours and neutrals.  I love espadrilles as I live near the beach.  Catherine: I love hats – so perhaps one or two summer ones may find their way into my wardrobe. We are both very conscious of not buying too many clothes and prefer to buy quality over quantity and recycle them wherever possible or give them to charities.

 Boots or Shoes? 

Kate: Boots in winter, shoes and sandals in summer, for practical reasons.  I like tailored styles.

Catherine: I have a penchant for Victoriana; with laces!

For Pinning Later.
Elementals Collection coloured by Resene colour chart

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebooketc so that readers can find out more about St James Whitting

www.stjameswhitting.com

www.facebook.com/stjameswhitting

www.facebook.com/stjameswhittingart

www.instagram.com/stjameswhitting

Thank you for chatting to me ladies and I do so love your artwork and vision! I share Catherine’s love of Victoriana lace up boots too! Something very elegant about those boots… 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kate & Catherine (St James Whitting).

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A Visit To The Orla Kiely Exhibition

Earlier this week, fellow blogger Carol Cassara and I met up in Bermondsey, London to visit, among other things, the current Orla Kiely exhibition “A Life In Pattern” being held at the Fashion & Textile Museum.

The Fashion & Textile Museum was founded in 2003 by the zany, iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes – who happens to be one of my favourite designers ever! I was very tempted to knock on her studio door just a few yards away – perhaps another day as this particular day Dublin -born designer Orla Kiely was the focus of my attention.

Orla Kiely’s career really started when she was commissioned by Harrods to design wool felted hats – but she very quickly expanded into bags.  And what lovely bags! As soon as Carol & I entered into the museum foyer, there was on display of the most gorgeous private collection of big, bold Orla Kiely bags. I loved them all. Carol headed straight to the gift shop to purchase a bag or two… disappointingly for her, no bags were available to purchase at the shop.  As Orla Kiely products are available in over 33 countries, we quickly googled & found an outlet to ensure we get our “bag fix” another day! 

Orla Kiely’s textile patterns are very distinctive – she is recognised globally as the designer of the iconic “stem” pattern…as well as various flower designs.  Not only are the patterns replicated onto bags but on a range of other items including scarves, shoes, pumps, flower pots, notebooks, and even a birdhouse ( which Carol took a liking to).  

Orla shares my love of the colour green – she uses every shade of green known to man (!) from moss green to seaweed.  The colours she uses reflect her Irish background – the greys, browns, and mustard yellow represent the Irish skies, the rolling hills and the gorse & wild flowers of the roadside verges. I did wonder about the splashes of orange, though. I then read in the book that accompanies the exhibition, that her colour preferences were also influenced by her family kitchen that had olive green worktops and  units …and a vivid orange shiny ceiling. Mmm… not creating a delightful picture to me but I can understand where the orange colour fits in! I wonder if she had an avocado green bath too?!

 

The main room of the exhibition that really stood out was the “Alice In Wonderland” room. Hanging from the ceiling were enormous dresses and coats, made of fabric. Along the walls were dolls wearing the same outfits but miniature versions of them.  Really well thought out and fascinating.  The outfits themselves were very much of the late 1960s/early 1970s era – very Mary Quant – I remember my mum wearing similar styled dresses when I was very young.  Carol & I both preferred the colourful trench coat – the  colours & pattern were eye catching – great to wear over a black polo neck top,  black drainpipe jeans and black knee high boots! 

The museum had a cafe (delicious cappuccino) and a small gift shop  which sold lots of knick-knacks (sadly no Orla Kiely bags) – but they did have a superb collection of fashion coffee books  including the book published to accompany this  exhibition – “A Life In Pattern” by Orla Kiely, published by Conran Octopus Publishing.

The Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey was a little gem. The museum receives no public funding – it holds exhibitions such as this one, and hosts some fabulous workshops instead. The museum was founded by Zandra Rhodes, but is owned by Newham College London (one of Europe’s largest further education colleges).  It is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to showcasing developments in contemporary fashion. It also provides inspiration, support and training to those working in the industry.  Lying south of the River Thames, close to the Shard and between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, it is definitely worth checking out next time you are in London.

The Orla Kiely exhibition runs until 23 September 2018. The Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am.  The next exhibition will be “Night And Day: 1930s Fashion And Photographs” from 12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019. 

For more details check out the website: www.ftmlondon.org

All photos are by Linda Hobden.

 

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