All posts by Linda

An Interview With Prick Your Finger

Knitting and craft work in general has been making a big comeback over the last year or two and it is great to see a whole new generation picking up those knitting needles – the styles, ideas and enthusiasm just blows me away.  So I’m really excited to welcome onto the blog tonight the uber funky Rachael from wool shop emporium Prick Your Finger…but it’s not just a wool shop…. as Rachael will reveal… prepare to be as awe struck as I was!! Hi, Rachael, welcome…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hi, I am Rachael Matthews and I run an independent yarn shop and textile school in Bethnal Green.  I love fashion and art and making things.   I have made clothes and knitted from a very early age.   Growing up in the Lake District, there were no fashion stores so I created my own looks from my grandmother’s old sheets, curtains etc.  This was my greatest education.  I went to art school in London, did a degree in textiles, and a teacher training course, but it was making stuff in my bedroom which taught me the most.  These days, I run the shop, show works in galleries, and write about textiles.

I adore your idea of a knitting shop with a difference – selling yarns, having artists in residence, teaching knitting techniques and your website & blog are very informative too – where did you get your inspiration from?

The ideas come from my day to day life, the people I meet, the books I read, things that are happening all around me.

IMG_0347 - smaller As a child our knitting shop in the village which was very old fashioned with hilarious window displays under that funny 1950’s orange cellophane, which stopped things fading.  I would dream up designs for jumpers I wanted to knit, based on what I had seen on telly or in magazines, and my mum would take me to the knitting shop.  I would try to explain to the lady what I wanted, but the yarns and patterns were never quite right, and I was scared to ask for help.  Prick Your Finger is my teenage fantasy yarn shop.  A place where you might meet great knitters, and be able to discuss your ideas, ask for help, and find a way to knit the ideas you have in your head, or copy a designer garment you can’t afford or even be invited to a party to meet other knitters.  The shop is a very organic place. The artists help form the character of the place, and the customers bring new energies and ideas. 

I love to teach people to knit, because it is actually quite easy once you understand what is happening, and very good for you.  I have never failed to teach anyone yet!  I have successfully taught men with huge workman’s hands, ladies with long nail extensions, and people who describe themselves as Kak-handed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What’s the most unusual item you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

In the early days of teaching knitting in pubs, the men I taught would often joke that they were making a willy warmer.  This went on and on, until one day  I thought I would write a pattern for an anatomically correct willy warmer called ‘Penis in Cable’.  I sold it as a kit, and it went down very well with hen nights and groups of older ladies. 

To date, what has been your most popular yarn, type or colour or both?

 

We have a range called Knit by Numbers, which is a Double Knit Merino yarn, in 7 colours, but over 70 shades.  It is great for designing in bold blocks of colour, or you can create subtle shades accross your knitting.  We also sell a chunky hand dyed ‘Slub’ which is a lumpy, felty, soft and mottled yarn, which is great for the beginner knitter scarf, as the lumpy effect hides the mistakes, and looks very chic. IMG_0345 - smaller

What’s your most favourite item that you have ever made?

It’s a difficult question because I have made so many different things.  When I was 16 I made a multi-coloured stripey jumper, and I have just started wearing it again.  It’s special because it was the first piece I made without a pattern, and at the time I was delighted with it. Rainbow is quite in at the moment, so it’s back out of the loft and I am proud to say I made it when I was 16.

Your teaching workshops offer an array of subjects to cover all abilities – from macrame to making socks before Christmas – do you enjoy the buzz of teaching? What came first – the shop or the teaching workshops?

I have been a teacher for much longer than the shop. I started off teaching people with learning difficulties which was a great experience.  Teaching in the shop is easier and more intimate.   I love the buzz of teaching because I love giving people the opportunity to make things.  I keep the classes small so that my students learn deeply and thoroughly.

You have some impressive talented international artists in residence – and your shop, website and workshops offer a chance for everyone to admire their talents – whose work should we not miss an opportunity of seeing?amnestyflyer

Our current show by Lisa Anne Auerbach from California, shows us how we can write or draw anything in our knitting. Lisa’s ‘Sweaters’ are publications with protests and riddles and quirky symbols, knitted into them so you can wear your opinion on your sleeve. 

Our next show will be with East London Textile Art’s work with the Down Syndrome stitchers.  The pieces are beautiful and very abstract, but what is interesting is that what ever kind of person you are, if you spend time putting stitches and colours together repeatedly, in a calm and loving environment,  the soul shines through and out comes beautiful work.
Knitting, and craftwork in general, is becoming popular once again – even in my small village we have 2 craft/knitting groups circulating – what do you think will be the knitting trends for the next season?

Great you have a knitting group in your village!  

This next season is exciting in that you can mix pattern and colour in quite a wild way.  I have seen a trend of people buying an ecclectic selection of yarns, to knit simple garment shapes in a collage effect. We all have a favourite ball of wool in the stash, which is not enough to create a garment, but you can bring it in and choose it a selection of complimentary colours and textures, and then stripe a jumper or knit blocks to stitch together.  The idea is to go wild with the fabric and thrown it on.  In the same way we also have a double denim selection of yarns which a great to mix.

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

I try to do glamourous workwear.  I am simultaneously serving in the shop and dying yarns out back.  I like to wear something I have made everyday, so usually tights, hotpants and a sweater, topped with Tatty Devine or a bernstock spears hat. OR I wear a plain dress or jumpsuit, with a multicoloured knitted hat. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Tatty Devine, Bernstock Spiers, Ebay, Style Bubble.

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

One of my students, Kay Davis, is painting an old pair of shoes for me, so I am excited to see what she does!  They will be quite wild.    I am also waiting for a Navy blue hat from Noel Stewart, which I ordered for after fashion week…it will top the double denim slouchy jumper I am knitting.  Then jeans is a problem – they are at their best when they have totally fallen apart, but not quite fallen apart, and they are all dangerous close to completely falling apart.  This is a big job to find a new old pair!

Boots or Shoes?

Oh and I need a new pair of sandals to wear with knitted socks in winter, which I know is a fashion faux pas, but it’s fun if I can find the right pair…

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and your products.

Twitter: prickyourfinga 

Facebook:Prick Your Finger  

www.prickyourfinger.com

 

Thanks Rachael …. your ideas are fab, I love your shop and I wish you continued success…

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of Rachael Matthews. Photo Credit also to Harriet Vine and Antranig Basman.

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An Interview With Tiffany Wright

Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog, journalist and author Tiffany Wright, who has written for some of the top fashion magazines including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Company, Elle … and has a novel out called “Somebody Else’s Shoes”… so,without further ado, welcome Tiffany:The Proposers

Hello, I’m Tiffany – journalist, author and Proposal planner (WHAT? I hear you say? Don’t worry- I’ll tell you more about that later!) So, how did I become a writer? Well, I suppose it all started when I was doing work experience for Marie Claire magazine. I was surrounded by clothes, accessories and shoes (ahh, the shoes!)and I felt like I had discovered my spiritual home. I ended up working at Elle for nearly a year, before landing a job at Company magazine where I became their Senior Writer. I  lived out my magazine days writing about relationships, interviewing celebs and spending hours in the fashion cupboard lusting over every pair of shoes that came in. I  eventually left Company and headed ‘down under’ to write for Cosmopolitan magazine in Sydney where I  became their ‘Sex and the Cosmo girl’ columnist. Ooh, that was fun!  Whilst in Sydney, I  decided to write a blog where she wore a different pair of shoes every day for a year. I  did it, and has the blisters to show for it! The blog swiftly turned into an idea for my  first novel “Somebody Else’s Shoes.”

So,spending time in Sydney, writing for Cosmopolitan mag,  and being their “Sex and the Cosmo Girl” columnist  for nearly 2 years, what city would you say is for the single woman, Sydney or London?! 

310406_2465651754962_1062301386_2787766_859163210_nDepends on the sort of men you are after!! If you’re after the sporty surfer types with freckled skin, sandy hair and muscles galore then I’d definitely head for Sydney.  However my husband would kill me if I didn’t say that the best sorts of men are from Ireland (Yup, I bagged myself a handsome irish man – how lucky am I?)

You’ve been a journalist/writer for some of the top women’s magazines in the world – Company, Grazia, Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan to name a few…is there any magazine/newspaper you would love to write a feature in that you haven’t already?
I’ve been really fortunate in that I have managed to write for most of the magazines and newspapers I really admire. I think my desire to write for certain magazines changed with age – when I started out I was desperate to work for Company (my fave magazine at the time) and then as I got older I wanted to write for the top glossies like Grazia and Marie Claire. I suppose if I had to pick one magazine that I am yet to write for then it would have to be American Marie Claire –  any excuse to head over to New York and write whilst sitting in Central Park!
Bit of a nasty one but…. which magazine(s) do you read most often?
As part of the job, I have to read every magazine out there! It’s so important as a journalist to know what is going on in the magazine world, so you’ll often find me in newsagents grabbing every possible magazine off the shelf. I am, however, a complete sucker for Celebrity gossip mags – but at the moment I get to call that “research” as my next book is set within the world of celebs and glamour. 
 
What was the inspiration behind the creation of your debut novel “Somebody Else’s Shoes”?Thillnew2
I was writing a blog whilst in Sydney where I was challenged to wear a different pair of shoes every day for a year (it’s a tough life!) Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to buy a new pair of shoes every day so I ended up borrowing friends and families. Suddenly I realised that I was getting to actually experience what it was like to walk in somebody else’s shoes for the day – and that is where the idea was born.
 
What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors? 
I’ve just been blown away by JoJo Moyes “Me Before You.” It really is one of those books that had me laughing out loud and sobbing at the same time.
Are there any new novels planned?  Are you sticking to the same format or going to be trying something different?
The current book I am writing is a real jet setter of a novel – we have characters flying across the globe to LA, Switzerland, Paris, Cannes and Whistler. It oozes glamour, expensive perfume, fur coats, designer sunnies and lots of badly-behaved men.
You are such a busy bee, but your love of writing shines through!  Tell me a bit about your Online Writing Courses…. what was the motivation behind that idea?  
I run an online course for people who would like to write for women’s magazines called “The Stiletto Bootcamp.” I decided to start running a course after receiving at least 5 emails a week from wannabe journalists asking me for tips on how to get into magazines. in the end, I decided what better way to help than share my experience with an online course! So far it has gone really well – all of my students have gone on to be published in top magazines and some have even landed full time jobs. I’m so proud of them! The course runs every month for 6 weeks. As it’s online it can be done from anywhere in the world! You can find out more about it here: http://www.tiffanywright.co.uk/courses.php
Not forgetting your Be In The Media Agency, that focuses on selling real life stories to magazines, newspapers and TV shows… have you had any memorable/unusual stories that have gone via your agency that you can tell us about? 
photo-45
Oh wow…that’s a great question. To be honest, most of the real life stories that have been published are pretty memorable – from the controversial ones (I interviewed a woman who admits she only sleeps with married men) to the heart wrenching ones (a woman whose boyfriend forced her to dig her own grave.)  I think my favourite story of all time has to be a guy who left his wife and married his dog. I kid you not.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Having worked for fashion mag (Elle) I am afraid I am hopelessly obsessed with shoes. For my wedding present my sister bought me a pair of Louboutins (BEST SISTER EVER). They hurt like hell but I wear them everywhere I go!!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I’m addicted to Net-a-Porter and ASOS.
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes. In fact, scrap that. HEELS. I can’t go anywhere without heels. They instantly make you feel more glamorous and as though you can take on the world.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you!
p.s. You know I mentioned I’m a  proposal planner too? Intrigued? Check it out: www.theproposers.co.uk

Thanks Tiffany for chatting to me tonight – I look forward to reading your new jet setting novel and I wish all your ventures every success!

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Tiffany Wright.

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An Interview With Kellie K Apparel

Image 3Strapless bras!!! Love them or hate them, there comes a time in a woman’s life when you definitely need them!  Finding the right sort of strapless bra is the key – some flatten your boobs, some are bulky that they become uncomfortable, some ride up as the night goes on (that has happened to a friend that wishes to remain anonymous!) and some fall down!  In a few months the party season will be upon us… those little black dresses and glitzy bandeau tops beckon …. and, yes, we need help ladies in finding that perfect strapless bra!  Kellie experienced the same problems, and as she stood in front of her wardrobe having a moan that her strapless bra didn’t look right in the drop dead gorgeous dress she hoped to wear …her husband took note …and the rest is history …so I’m really thrilled to welcome onto the blog tonight the Founder and President of Kellie K Apparel (and Kellie’s husband)… Dr Anthony Roy  and Kellie K Apparel’s VP of Marketing, Tara Clark…
Hi, please introduce  yourselves and Kellie K Apparel :Tony_Roy_Headshot_Square_compact
Dr. Anthony Roy, Founder and President: I founded Kellie K Apparel with the goal to provide all women with a superior strapless bra.  I’ve had prior experience in designing prototypes in the support of various multi-million dollar start-ups as a research engineer at Idealab.  I received my B.S. and M.S. from The Ohio State University, and my Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, all in mechanical engineering.
Tara_Headshot_compactTara Clark, VP of Marketing.  I have over 10 years of experience in customer care and developing small businesses. Prior to Kellie K Apparel, I was the Senior Manager of Customer Care at SlideRocket, where I expanded to product scope from a small private beta to a large-scale operation with over 1.5 million users and acquisition by VMware.  I attended the University of Oregon, where I double majored to get bachelor degrees in both psychology and philosophy.
Kellie K Apparel launches our revolutionary strapless bras through our Kickstarter campaign on August 26th. Our American-made strapless bras are engineered to provide the necessary support and refined to deliver the utmost comfort. The patent-pending lining that keeps the bra in place without irritating the skin! Finally a strapless bra that women will want to wear.

What was the inspiration behind making your strapless bras in the first place? 

Kellie K Apparel started one evening when my wife was lamenting her lack of clothing options.  She wanted to wear a particular top that bared her shoulders, but didn’t want to wear the strapless bra that went under it.  When I asked her what was wrong with her current bra, she said she didn’t feel like having to deal with pulling up the bra all night.  When I said she should get a new one, she said it wouldn’t matter because she can never find a bra that is both supportive and stays up.
I set about making a crude prototype that consisted of me super-gluing the very first iteration of GeckTeck to one of the strapless bras my wife said wouldn’t stay put.  She tried it on and said it fixed the problem.  However, I knew I had truly struck gold when one night we were going out, and she once again wanted to wear that top which required her to wear a strapless bra.  Instead of using one of her store-bought bras, she grabbed the prototype I built and enjoyed a night of not having to worry about her bra once.  At that moment I realized I truly had a great idea for a business.”

Image 1The unique patent pending lining uses the same principles as geckos use to cling to virtually any surface – it must have been quite an “eureka” moment when you discovered that this gecko idea will help solve a nightmare when it comes to the world of strapless bras!  What made you turn to the gecko for ideas?

It was actually, it was the other way around. I had been aware of the gecko-inspired, wall climbing robots for years. The eureka moment came when I realized my wife had a problem of never being able to find a bra that stayed in place. Once I realized my wife preferred my crude first prototype over her store bought strapless bras, I knew this idea was a winner.

I wear quite a few tops and dresses that require the services of a strapless bra, especially as I’m a lot older and bigger busted than I was as a teenager when going braless under a camisole/ bandeau dress was not an issue. The bras look very pretty and not at all bulky – so who picked the material, look and choice of colours?  Did you have an opinion poll, or did Kellie state her preferences or a bit of both?  

Image 2Thanks! A bit of both. Our team at Kellie K is made up of highly trained individuals who have come together to create a cooperative bra that feels good and is functional with a variety of clothes.  We’ve explored LA’s fashion district to the get the right fabrics. We’ve worked pattern makers with decades of experience, and gone through tons of trial-and-error to make sure the fit was perfect. For the colors Kellie and Tara separately stated their preferences, then several potential customers were polled.

Apart from your strapless bras,have you any plans to introduce other items too?

Currently, we’re focused on creating the best strapless bra on the market. Of course, we’re always bouncing around other ideas.

Dr Roy, what other items have you created or have helped create a prototype, not necessarily in the fashion field?
One of the first pieces of complicated hardware I ever helped create was on a team that made an autonomous robot that could navigate an obstacle course. For my master thesis project, I created a two degree of freedom probe and haptic controller where a magnetorheological fluid would provide force feed back to the user when the probe collided with an object. For my doctorate, I used simulated evolution to generate robotic controllers based on neural networks. After school, made several heliostat prototypes, which are mirrors that track the sun to collect solar energy. I also made a refrigerator shelf that could tell when an item was almost empty and order more of that item, a case for an iPhone that could be plugged directly into a wall for charging, helped in the design of a giant ski-lift for electrical smart-grid technology, and this weekend I’m using a program I wrote to determine my draft picks for fantasy football! Some worked well. Many didn’t. But, we always knew very quickly when we had a winner!
These beautiful bras are American- made … so apart from the USA, will they be available to purchase in the UK, Europe and Australia too? Image 4

Yes, during the Kickstarter the bras will be available for purchase and shipped globally.

Dr Roy, what would you like to try to make that you haven’t tried as yet?

I had planned on making a program that could properly size a woman’s bust from iPhone pictures, but a group in the Bay area may have beat me to it! Continuing my doctorate work and making systems that could learn would be nice too. And I’m sure in a few months I’m going to be cursing that fantasy football program and wanting to make it better!
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Dr. Roy- Shorts or blue jeans, and a t-shirt or casual button. However, my favorite shirt is one made for my former softball team, Base Invaders. It’s a great shirt!
Tara- Most of the time I’m in NY and Company Jeans, Banana Republic shirts and Naturalizers shoes. Since I have a toddler, if it’s not machine washable it’s not in my wardrobe.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Tara- I buy almost everything online. The delivery guy and I are on a first name basis.
Dr. Roy- I honestly don’t buy many clothes online! In fact, I haven’t bought clothes myself in a long time. Somehow, my wife took control of my wardrobe!
Tara- And she does a great job with it!

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

Tara- Either An incredible pair of shoes to wear to my friend’s outdoor wedding this fall. Or a pair of gray ankle boots.
Dr. Roy- Ask Kellie K!

Boots or Shoes?

Dr. Roy- Shoes. I live in LA and it never snows or hardly rains here, so there no reason for me to wear boots.
Tara- Can I pick both? All boots are shoes, but not all shoes are boots, so shoes I guess.
Fun Fact- The cowboy boots our actress Kamala wears in the Kicstarter video are her own. She wore them to the shoot and we loved them so much we included them in the video.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that my readers can follow the progress of Kellie K Apparel and start wearing comfortable strapless bras!

www.kelliekapparel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KellieKApparel
https://twitter.com/KellieKApparel

Thank you very much for chatting to me at the start of what could be an exciting era in bra history … I wish Kellie K Apparel a lot of success and I’m sure you’ve not only solved your wife’s dilemma, Dr Roy, but solved the dilemma for women globally.
Linda x
Photo credits: The photographs above have been published with kind permission from Kellie K Apparel
PS  Whilst we are Stateside this week, Californian company Access Tattoo are offering readers of this blog a brilliant 10% off their tattooing products…just quote the coupon code!

 

Get 10% sitewide when you shop at Access Tattoo. Valid until October 2013!

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An Interview With Crystal Bridal Accessories

Summer is well underway here in the UK and weddings are in the air…my interview this week is with a fabulous bridal company that are definitely worth looking up if you have a wedding coming up later in the year or are planning your nuptials in 2014/2015 and beyond! I’ve been chatting to Amy of Crystal Bridal Accessories…Hi Amy! Please introduce us to yourself and your company:Amy_Karim

I’m the MD for Crystal Bridal Accessories, a mum of three girls aged 10 and 5 year old twins and I love shoes!

What made you start up your business?

I was working as an e-learning tutor on a local schools project and discovered I was having twins…I decided that I wanted to take a career break but as I am such a workaholic…I thought perhaps I would need a ‘hobby’ whilst on my break. I love jewellery and I adore shoes – the bridal industry is full of sparkle and glamour and all things beautiful…so this all combined to create Crystal Bridal Accessories. The aim was to create a one-stop shop for the best bridal accessories on the market so that brides can easily find everything they need to accessorize their bridal look!

Swirl_Pearl_Comb£45_model_shot_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukWhen choosing stock for your shop & website, do you have a set criteria or do you go with what grabs you at the time or a bit of both?

A bit of both really! I won’t put anything on my website which I wouldn’t wear myself…I really do believe in choosing only the best, most beautiful things and putting them all in one place together. Some of the criteria is based on current bridal dress trends and quality of the items – everything  has to be manufactured to a high quality otherwise I won’t even consider it.

You have your own exquisite jewellery range too – where do you get your inspiration from?

Ava crystal bridal belt mood shot_£249_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukThe inspiration for my Signature Collection comes quite simply from a mixture of gaps I’ve seen in the jewellery market over the years combined with vintage design! The backdrop necklace was my very first idea for my own piece because I noticed that there simply wasn’t anything so glamorous for brides as a back piece…all the other pieces in the collection are designed to mix and match so that brides can choose one piece – such as the Ava Studs – or add the Ava Necklace and Ava Belt depending on how much glamour they want to create!

What’s the most unusual item of jewellery you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

The most unusual accessory I’ve designed is the Ava bridal belt…it is completely unique as it’s made entirely of crystals and a refreshing change to the other types of bridal sashes you can buy which are all set on ribbon or satin. The brooch with tassels and navette crystals gives it a distinct vintage edge which is all the trend nowadays!

To date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your website/ shop?

This would have to be our rose crystal trailing flower bridal brooch! 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?Grace_Forehead_Band_model_shot_£55_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.uk

My favourite item is our own Grace Forehead band – I love the simplicity of it but it is still such a glamorous fashion statement!

You do a shoe dyeing service for the blushing brides & for other special occasions, so what has been the most popular colour in recent seasons?

Cadbury Purple and Fuchsia are always the most popular colours – but we have seen a trend for more peach / blush nude shades as well recently.

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

Marina_exclusive_Harriet_Wilde_for_crystal_bridal_accessories_£419_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukI love my High Street brands…Zara, Mango, Aldo and Warehouse…but most of my shopping is done online…of course!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Asos…of course, Zara, Mango… and as I’m a mum, I love the French site Vertbaudet for their pretty kidswear!

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

Hmmm…very practical…but I’ve got my eye on a Knomo laptop trolley for my trips away 

Model_shot_Charlize_shoes_£299_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukBoots or Shoes?

OMG…shoes all the way! I’m not really a boots person…a pair of peep toe heels transform your look instantly!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about you.

 

 

 

Our website www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.uk

Join us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CrystalBridalAccessoriesLtdSheffield

Follow us on twitter @wedding_queen

It’s been a real pleasure to chat to you Amy and your accessories are certainly exquisite…thank you for joining us.

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of Crystal Bridal Accessories.

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An Interview With Janey Rosen

This week I’m so excited to be chatting to the delightful Janey Rosen, author of The Sebastian Trilogy, the trio of books that are rapidly making headway up the best sellers lists… Hi Janey, welcome to the blog …  JaneyRosenJune13

Hi, my name is Janey Rosen and I’m the author of The Sebastian Trilogy (Secrets, Dark Bonds and Retribution).  When I’m not making up stories and telling tales, I’m mum to 4 amazing children ranging from 6 to 21 years old!  I try and write when they are asleep.  I also run a business which cares for disabled adults, which I set up in 2005 having left nursing.  Overall I’m a busy bee.

What was the inspiration behind the creation of the Sebastian Series?
It was a story which came to me last summer, during a holiday in Brittany. The seedling idea quickly blossomed and I had to write it down.  
I know that the places you’ve visited in the South West helped to shape the settings of your novels, but what about the characters themselves?  Are they based loosely on people you’ve observed through people watching? 
SecretsCoverMarketing
Penmorrow was based on a crumbling manor house I visited in North Cornwall.  It is owned by a friend of a friend of a friend – a tenuous link which is why I got a huge buzz from sneaking around inside the amazing house, which has never been opened to the public (they would likely break their necks as many floor boards were missing!).  I loved finding the secret passage which led down to a smugglers’ tunnel.  With regard to the characters, I have often been asked on whom I based Sebastian … my husband likes to tell people that he is Sebastian … I like to tease him and say he’s Alan. My lips are sealed further than that.  There are bits of me in Elizabeth and friends who have read the books know which bits those are.  Similarly, a couple of friends recognised themselves in various chapters!
 
Have you got a favourite character?
I adore Scarlett – she is just so wicked!  I also like Ruth, Elizabeth’s BFF – nothing phases her, she is the best friend a girl could have.  I like Marcus least of all.  
 
I have still got my old English book from school where I wrote pages upon pages of stories – mostly about earthquakes & exotic countries, even though my only foray abroad at that time was a day trip to Boulogne in France! As a child did you write lots of stories with an ambition to be an author? If so, what were your stories mostly about?DarkbondscoverMarketing
 
Yes! Just like you, I scribbled story after story and recall boring my English class with regular updates on my fictional character, Ned, and his adventures.  Drawing and writing were my passion from a young age, I was not a sporty child, preferring to have my nose in a book or a pencil in my hand. Now, I love nothing more than making up stories with my daughter – our favourite are the adventures of Bowbelie and Maria, a girl and her fairy friend who lives in Oak Wood.  That mischievous fairy gets herself in trouble daily – usually I lead her astray, and my daughter finishes the story with a happy ending.
Reading is a minefield! … What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors? 
My early reads, as a teen, were the Flowers In The Attic series by Virginia Andrews.  Lately, my favourite authors are Stephen Leather (The Dan Shepherd series) and Peter James, both of whom write edge-of-your-seat thrillers and crime stories.  I also love ‘What Have I Done’ by Amanda Prowse.  I love trying work by new authors and believe in supporting indies.
 
Are there any new novels planned?  Are you sticking to the same format or going to be trying something different?
Yes! I am writing a thriller entitled ‘The Hidden Bride.’  It’s a story which has been rattling around in my head for nearly 2 years.  It’s entirely different to my ‘Sebastian’ novels.  I’m really enjoying getting inside the mind of the new protagonists – one in particular is intriguing to write as he is a hugely complex character.    
 
I belong to a book club – we are passionate about books and we do like discussing them over several glasses of wine! Do you belong to a book club? What do you think about the growing popularity of Book Clubs in the UK? 
Unfortunately not, but it’s on my ‘to do’ list!  I have a circle of friends who love books and we always suggest new books when we find a gem we love.
 
Is there a writing genre you would love to try and haven’t yet done so?
The thriller I’m writing is a new genre for me and therefore a new challenge.
Retribution Cover Marketing
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Monday to Friday I will always be found in a skirt, blouse or top and heels – the ‘boardroom’ look helps me to mentally shift from mother to business woman.  I have a weakness for dresses and own more evening dresses than I have have the opportunity to wear! Favourites are Sonia Pena and James Lakeland.
 
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Coast and Monsoon are my favourite high street shops.  I try and support small, local boutiques and am fortunate to have some great ones in the town where I live.  
 
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I have my eye on a fitted suit by Armani – I just need to work out how to sneak it into my wardrobe without my husband noticing 😉

Boots or Shoes? 
At 5’10” tall I struggle with high heels.  I’m envious of every woman who can wear Jimmy Choo or Louboutins! I own one very high pair of black heels but have yet to find the courage to wear them.  I love boots in the winter (Nine West are so comfy), and my Unze sparkly sandals as well as a black crystal pair by Sam Edelmam.

Links you would like to share:
Twitter: @JaneyRosen

Thank you Janey! I wish you continued success with your writing – I look forward to reading your thriller but in the meantime I’ll settle for a summer of good reading with Sebastian & Co…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission from Janey Rosen

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An Interview with Councillor Brandon Eldred & Northampton Shoe Museum

I adore Northampton Shoe Museum – it is a place worth visiting for both its shoe collection (2nd largest collection in the world, the largest being in Canada) and the attached art gallery is just as fine!  So, this week I’m delighted to be chatting to Councillor Brandon Eldred who is not only the councillor responsible for this gorgeous place, but an avid fan of the Museum too …so, welcome Brandon, please introduce yourself:Cllr Brandon Eldred

I am Brandon Eldred, Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for community engagement.  Optimising the reach and appeal of the museum service falls within my remit.

Northampton Shoe Museum is totally awesome – I was blown away when I visited – caring for the largest collection of objects charting the history of shoes in the world is a big responsibility! Your staff have oodles of enthusiasm for their job. What was the inspiration behind the creation of the Shoe Collection?

The museum staff do indeed have oodles of enthusiasm and a real pride in what they do.  Northampton Museum and Art Gallery was founded on in 1865. The footwear collection was started in 1873 by Moses Philip Manfield, a Northampton shoe manufacturer, so that local workers could see specimens of boots and shoes made elsewhere in the world. Since then the collection has grown to include many examples of Northamptonshire’s shoe industry. We are still collecting today from all over the world.  The collection also represents the best of British.  The best of British includes current footwear manufactured in Northampton and the county, which we are immensely proud of.Union Jack boot, Shellys, 1978

What exhibition or showcase has been the most popular?

Our exhibitions appeal to a wide audience and there is always something going on to suit all tastes and interests. One of our most recent popular exhibitions was ‘If We Could Be Heroes’, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the iconic Northampton based company Jeffery-West.  Jeffery-West is creating some of the most exciting men’s footwear today, and the exhibition featured a selection of their shoes alongside quirky and beautiful objects from the museum’s social history, archaeology, geology and art collections – all chosen and arranged by the designer half of Jeffery-West, Guy West.  It was a visual feast for the eyes.Jeffery-West boot

I caught the Jeffery-West exhibition too and my husband started a love affair with Jeffery-West shoes ever since!! Have you got a favourite out of all the exhibitions/showcases?

I have to say I have real interest in the sports shoes. Through the generosity of external funding we have built up our sports footwear and sneaker collection over the last three years.  Today we have over 800 examples, which make the Northampton sneaker collection the finest in the public domain.  My particular favourites are a pair of signed David Beckham boots from early on in his career, a pair of motor racing shoes worn by Emerson Fittipaldi and the running spikes worn by Christopher Chataway. He wore these spikes when taking part in the four minute mile at Iffley Road in Oxford on 6 May 1954. The race included Chris Brasher, Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway and it was during this race that Bannister became the first athlete to break the four-minute barrier for the mile in a time of three minutes 59.4 seconds.Emerson Fittipaldi motor racing shoe

The facilities at the Museum are fantastic – it’s a valuable source of reference for budding shoe designers, a great place for modern shoe designers to showcase their talents, a history lesson for Northampton’s schoolchildren and it is a shrine for those who have a deep love for footwear – what do you feel is the Museum’s main purpose?

The museum’s vision is to generate and increase cultural awareness and aspiration in Northampton. Its mission is to provide the lead and be the principal focus for heritage, artistic and cultural interest for all citizens and visitors to Northampton. The overall purpose of the museum service is to provide high quality museum facilities, activities and opportunities that meet the needs of our diverse communities now and in the future.  Caring for the town’s many fine collections, including the boot and shoe collection, engaging with communities through education and hosting an ever-changing array of exhibition and events are our three main drivers.  We promote participation, innovation and life-long learning through the direct provision of services and by working in partnership with others.  The museum is also one of Northampton’s key cultural attractions that draws visitors from far and wide

When I visited, I was drawn mostly to the footwear of the 70s/80s – shoes of my “growing up” era!  What section do you tend to linger over?Elephant Boot, 1959

When my children were young they always wanted to look at the elephant boot whenever we visited the museum.  Even now I never resist the opportunity to see it when I pop in.  A boot for an elephant is quite something to see.  The Elephant Boot is one of four boots made by Lotus for the British Alpine Hannibal Expedition. The expedition aimed to recreate and track Hannibal’s route during his invasion of Italy in the 3rd Century BC. Although often disputed by historians, chroniclers reported that Hannibal crossed the Alps with 37 surviving elephants to take into battle.

The British Alpine Hannibal Exhibition asked the question: Can an elephant cross the Alps? Turin Zoo was generous enough to provide the non-geological materials.  Her name was Jumbo. Jumbo traveled 150 miles in 10 days from France to Susa in Italy. The result of the expedition’s experiment suggested that elephants can indeed cross the Alps. To protect Jumbo from the weather she had a canvas coat and trunk cover and made and a set of canvas and leather boots to protect her feet. These boots were made by craftsmen at Lotus Ltd using the patterns supplied. To find out the size of her feet the elephant stood on a large sheet of paper and someone drew round her feet. Unfortunately Jumbo was unable to finish the last eight kilometres of the expedition, as the track was considered unsafe.

Is there any footwear missing from the Shoe Collection that the Museum would love to add?

 The shoe collection is extensive and consists of:

  • Footwear – more than 12,000 items ranging from ancient Egyptian to contemporary design
  • Accessories – including buckles, laces, shoe horns, trees, spats, leggings and polish
  • Shoemaking tools, machines and components – including lasts
  • Retail trade material – including shop furniture, fittings and advertising material
  • Archive material – including trade journals, company catalogues, books and photographs
  • Fine and decorative art – including paintings and prints depicting shoes and shoemaking
  • Index of shoemakers and shoemaking firms – from the Roman period onwards
  • Index of concealed shoes – hidden in buildings to bring good luck
  • Specialist reference library

As you can see the collection is really extensive, but having spoken to the museum staff, I can tell you that we still have gaps we would like to fill.  We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who would like to gift or donate the following:

  • Shoes with stories – shoes that you worked in, met the love of your life in, wore on a holiday or took part in an extraordinary challenge in. The shoes might reflect exceptional or everyday stories
  • Designer shoes – in particular Vivienne Westwood, Gucci, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo, Roger Vivier, André Courrèges or early Salvatore Ferragamo
  • Celebrity shoes – shoes that have belonged to famous or significant people
  • Shoe catalogues, non-designer contemporary footwear, footwear from South America and items relating to shoe retailVivienne Westwood’s Super Elevated Ghillie shoes, 1998

Are the shoes/footwear donations or are they bought for the purpose of adding to the shoe collection or a bit of both?

We acquire items in many different ways, including donations, purchases and bequests. Not a week goes by without a member of the public bringing something into the museum or contacting us to offer an item or items for the shoe collection. We have also benefited from the generosity of local shoe manufacturers and national designers in donating examples of their current designs. Recent donations include footwear from Jeffery-West, Hotter and Prada.

 So what showcases/exhibitions at Northampton Shoe Museum for 2013 can we look forward to visiting?Nike Aloha trainer

We have a varied and interesting choice of future exhibitions for visitors to come and see this year. Our main gallery and shoe lounge are devoted to showcasing an ever-changing array of shoe exhibitions.   We have an exciting exhibition on at the moment that features Norman Walsh English Sports Footwear. Norman Walsh started out as an apprentice shoemaker in 1945 for J.W Foster & Sons. His outstanding shoemaking skills were soon recognised and he made the running spikes for the British Athletics team at the 1948 London Olympics including those worn by the winner of the 100m Alistair McCorquedale. In 1961 Norman founded the Walsh business on his own and became a specialist in making footwear for Rugby League and fell running.  Coming up in July we have an exhibition on Mod culture that explores all things Mod – the history, music and style. The exhibition ties neatly in with a concert by Paul Weller in July staged in the beautiful grounds of Delapre Abbey in Northampton. In October we will be presenting Strictly Northampton, which will look at all things dance orientated in the town.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook

www.northampton.gov.uk/museums

Facebook /northamptonmuseum

Twitter @northamptonShoe

Flickr

Thank you for the interesting insight into the Museum … I can’t wait to revisit very soon!!!

Linda x

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An Interview With Celia Sawyer

I like to welcome onto the blog this week a lady who oozes sophistication, coolness, glamour and quite a lot of business savvy !!! She is the delightful Celia Sawyer from the Channel 4 TV Programme  Four Rooms, airing in the UK every Friday at 8pm …. make a note in your diary, electronic or otherwise ( yep, I still use my faithful filofax!).  A big, warm welcome Celia … tell us about yourself :Celia Sawyer 2

Hi, I’m Celia Sawyer, a self made multi millionaire business woman who has various businesses including luxury interior design, property developing, film investment, dealing in antiques and collectibles and TV star of Channel 4’s Four Rooms . I am also a mother of 2. 

How did you first get involved with the TV series “Four Rooms”?

I have an interior design business, and had seen the show as I also deal in collectables for my clients, so I saw an advertisement for the show asking for images of interesting objects, so I sent a photo of myself and said “How about me as one of your dealers?”

Great approach, Celia!

Celia Sawyer 3Have you had any unusual experiences whilst filming the programme? or any other funny anecdotes?

It is strange  when you look at items like Hitler’s toilet, you just cannot believe people have these items in their possession! Some of the dealers get quite competitive and the atmosphere gets a bit strained at times with everyone after one item, and we sometimes don’t speak for a day or so. 

During the series, have you come across any designs that have made an impression on you?  Have you “pinched” any ideas for your own home? 

The series is more about items, as opposed to designs, however I do get inspired by some of the more beautiful items brought on to the show and they give me ideas for my schemes.  I have the Road Kill Couture in my home on display! 

What do you like best about being a TV host?

It’s nice that people, who have seen the show, come to me for advice… I like to help if I can!

What role on TV would you like to try that you haven’t tried as yet?Celia Sawyer 4

Mmmmm… an interesting question, but probably a role on TV that is inspirational and can give the public help to realise that “you can do it too” 

Any future plans in the pipeline that you can share?

Things in the pipeline that have to stay there for now I’m afraid, but you will be seeing more of me I hope! 

Oooh… Sounds good!… So, personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Normally bodycon outfits… I like Donna Karan dresses and suits, Alexander McQueen jewellery, Burberry metallic macs. I train hard fitness wise, so I like to wear things to show my hard work off! Burberry boots, Louboutins and strappy sandles are my favourites, high and glitzy!  

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I love going to Harvey Nichols with the personal shopping team. They rush around for me and grab all sorts that I would never be able to find. I often look at Net-a-Porter online, but I really like trying on clothes first as I’m very fussy, so it’s often just for ideas! 

Celia3What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

For someone to make me something outstanding for my next TV debut – sexy with some great long boots to match!

Boots or Shoes?

I love both.  Firstly, winter time I live in boots, either Burberry long ones with very high heels, my vintage 60s platforms (10 quid!) or my Louboutin ankle boots. In the summer I love strappy platforms, something unusual like my new Gianvito Rossi sandals which change colour in different light.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc,so that readers can find out more information about you! 

Twitter @celiasawyertv.

 www.celiasawyer.com

 www.cool10.co.uk

Thanks for a fascinating interview … those Gianvito Rossi sandals sound awesome Celia! Don’t forget everybody, tune in Channel 4, Fridays at 8pm!  

Linda x

Photo Credits:  The photographs have been published with kind permission from Celia Sawyer.

 

 

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Get Skulled – An Interview With Bedhead Boutique

This week I’m absolutely delighted to welcome on to the blog the bubbly Tink from Bedhead Boutique – I was lucky enough to receive one of her fabulous vinyl record clutches for my birthday from my darling daughter  (Love it !)- and just this weekend Tink has started making the vinyl record bags with a handle as an option too! So without further ado, Tink, welcome and please introduce yourself:12

Hi there, I’m Tink,  Owner and designer at Rockin’ Rockette’s Bedhead Boutique! I created Bedhead Boutique almost by accident! I had got so fed up of not being able to find any fun and quirky accessories in my local area that I started to make them for myself instead. It wasn’t long before people were constantly asking me where I’d got things from and as if by magic Bedhead Boutique was born! I initially started making headscarves as, for me, they are a Godsend for my phenomenal bed hair (hence the name!) and at the same time help me to achieve that pinup/50s look I strive for. It wasn’t long until my creative juices started flowing though and before long I started branching out into all kinds of pinup accessories. I found my passion for pinup and 50s fashion in my early twenties when I’d finally reached the age where I’d stopped worrying so much about fitting in and started to think about how I wanted to look and what kind of things would make the best of my, erm, voluptuous figure! Once I started down this route there was no going back as I finally felt like I’d found my true style. I now take great pleasure in designing and making things for others to help them achieve the style they strive for. I particularly love taking on custom orders as I love anything that’s a bit unique.

Bed HairI adore your vinyl record bags – where did you get your inspiration from?

 Initially my inspiration came from seeing the vinyl record bowls people make by melting the records then shaping them over a bowl. I thought it was such a fab idea and a great way to recycle old records which would otherwise just gather dust. From then I tried to think of other things that could be made from them. I looked online at other items people had made from records and saw that someone had made a large handbag from two records. Although I loved the idea of a vinyl record handbag I wasn’t impressed with the design as the record was covered in rivets and it looked somewhat bulky and mechanical! That’s when I decided that a clutch bag would be a great idea and be the perfect finishing touch to pretty much all of my favourite outfits! From there I spent about 3 months trying out different ideas and perfecting my design (not to mention testing about 12 different glues!) before I was finally happy with the finished product you see today.3

What’s the most unusual item you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

My most unusual request was from a lady who asked if I could make my baby bandana dribble bibs in adult sizes. Initially I thought nothing of it as I’ve made larger ones in the past for teenagers with disabilities who don’t want a childish bib. However, she then told me it was for her husband who constantly spills his dinner all down him and she wanted to wrap them up for him for his birthday as a joke… but then actually make him wear them!

To date, what has been your most popular item?

5My most popular item to date is definitely my vinyl record clutch bags. I think it’s because they can be made in any fabric and with a record that’s special to the customer, should they wish to provide it. One of my proudest moments was when I was asked to make one for a lady to carry on her wedding day. The record was hers and her fiancé’s song together and it was made with red and white polka dot fabric to go with the 50s polka dot theme of her wedding. It’s so lovely to think that one of my items will be part of someone’s special day.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection or have ever made?

My favourite item I’ve made so far is probably the dogtooth shoe bows because I made them for my mum who was struggling to find any dogtooth shoes anywhere to match her handbag! My mum has had a hip replacement and a knee replacement and suffers a great deal with arthritis so finds it very difficult to get shoes to fit her that are comfortable to wear. She’s always saying that all the pretty shoes have such high heels and she wishes she could wear them. Now she can just clip the bows onto her comfy shoes and hey presto – they’re transformed!10

 Any new additions to your collection in the pipeline?

I have loads of new products coming up soon. I will shortly be making more fascinators and introducing some bags with handles and some purses. I’ll also soon be making alternative children’s clothes and possible some adult dresses too!

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

During the day I will almost always be wearing a headscarf to cover up my messy mop of hair! I’ll usually be wearing some coloured jeans and a pretty cardi with motifs on – either skulls or swallows or anchors or something similar. If the weather is nice I’ll most likely be in a pretty summer dress or maxi dress. I almost always wear cute pumps during the day as they’re easy to slip on and off when going in and out of the house and just so comfortable to wear! On a night out you’ll find me in a rockabilly swing dress or a sleek and sexy pencil dress. Almost always a halterneck with a sweetheart neckline as I find them the most flattering. Oh and of course it has to be some killer heels for a night out – at least for most of the night anyway!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Pretty much all of my favourite shops are online. I love Hell Bunny clothing and pinup girl clothing. On the high street I love Dorothy Perkins as they are one of the few shops who do bigger sizes in things that aren’t just basically a tent with a hole for your head! I also love Office for shoes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?4

Next on my wish list is a dress made of the Marvel fabric I use to make some of my accessories! I just need to find the time to make it now!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes – I have tiny ankles but chunky calves so it’s a nightmare to get boots to fit me properly! Besides, shoes are just sexier!

7Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and your products:

www.facebook.com/bedheadboutique

rockinrockette@thebedheadboutique.co.uk

Thanks for a fab interview Tink…. I wish you continued success, you deserve it!2

Linda x

Photo Credit: Photos published with kind permission of Bedhead Boutique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Red Hot – An Interview With The Cyanide Girls

430396_517925418236872_998087176_nI’m nattering this week to a group of ladies who have taken the UK by storm performing their energetic shows at events and private parties and they are soon to wow audiences in Europe too …fire eating, pole dancing, dancing on the bar  Coyote Ugly style…it’s a show well worth seeing! So welcome ladies, please introduce yourselves:

We are the sexy, alternative Cyanide Girls who are here to add a little something to your special event.

Whether you want a full stage show or a Coyote Ugly moment in your bar, our girls are ready when you are. Each girl has an individual talent they like to show off, it normally involves Angle Grinders, a Pole, some Chairs, Fire Dancing, Fire Poi, Fire Eating and Fire Breathing, we do it all.

Our girls create a wild, jaw-dropping show, which is never the same twice.

You are very busy ladies – what motivated you all to start fire eating, pole dancing, grinding, doing burlesque etc?

We started out from different backgrounds, I (Doll Facee) was doing modelling and really wanted to make my own awesome group, Tete was a burlesque girl, Rebecca Crow started with belly dancing and Missy worked in a strip club. We all got together and started something amazing. We are a family now.

Have you had any mishaps or embarrassing moments that you can tell us about?305453_552193314810082_969823419_n

I personally fell off a pole and rolly-pollied off it! Sometimes out clothes get caught when we are trying to whip them off and a few other minor things like that! Nothing too bad.

I’ve watched you all flitting around the stage, performing Coyote Ugly style on the bar counters plus getting into the groove on the dance floor ( more rocking than grooving to be honest!) – so what are your fitness secrets to maintain your endless energy you all seem to possess? 

I think Red Bull! We are all a little crazy as we get so pumped up for shows. The next day is the total opposite!

Favourite outfit/shoes that you wear for performing?

We love our heels! MASSIVE platform heels and shoes! We have to pick shoes that make us look HOT but also good to walk around playing with fire in!

 Love your tattoos ladies – any stories about them at all? 

I’m sure we all have stories about our tattoos, but they are probably all boring ones!

373979_531039270258820_126783825_nIf you could perform on stage with any band or performer in the world (dead or alive), who would it be?

Oh god that’s a hard one! We use Limp Bizkit for our show alot, so I’d say them!

Is there any performance/ show you would like try to try that you haven’t tried as yet?

I’m not sure! We love doing all shows and we already have done alot of unusual shows from stag parties to festivals!

At home, what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Tete would be chunky jewellery, hello kitty dresses and looking super cute. Missy will be in ripped black tights and a band tshirt with heels. Rebecca in her DC’s and funky tights and myself in skinny jeans, crop top and my vans!

Have you any favourite shops/online sites?

We love ebay! You can find anything! (we also love Primark but SHH!) We LOVE sexy underwear, we ALWAYS want that, so donations are welcome 😉575692_603830129646400_1896263235_n

 Boots or Shoes?

SHOES! None of us are really boot girls, Missy has a pair of PVC black thigh-high boots she wears on the pole. Our fuel gets everywhere and ruins are shoes, so we ALWAYS find new ones!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter  etc so that readers can find out more info/follow you

Facebook.com/thecyanidegirls

Twitter; @Cyanidegirls1

http://cyanidegirls.tumblr.com/

150643_556847637677983_254628677_n

Thanks girls…I’m looking forward to seeing you again very soon! 

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from the Cyanide Girls

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Pink Heaven – An Interview With Cuppies ‘n’ Cream

1254This week I’m delighted to welcome onto the blog the talented Natalie from Cuppies ‘n’ Cream, home of exquisite and delicious cupcakes …… Hi Natalie, please introduce yourself:4

Hi, I’m Natalie, I’m 30 years old (eek) and I live in Wokingham, Berkshire. I am originally from York but have lived down south for 8/9 years now. I do still have quite a broad Yorkshire accent though! I run a bespoke cake and cupcake company called Cuppies ‘n’ Cream.
I loved your cakes when I saw you at the Northampton Shoe Museum – how long have you been making cakes?
I have always enjoyed baking & have been making cakes, biscuits and treats since I was little.  My mum often reminds me that she would often come home to find I’d baked cupcakes (or buns as we called them then) – I’d have added something completely random from the cupboard and use up all the butter too. I remember the first time I discovered food dye and made some horrendous green cupcakes!233
Your cakes are extremely yummy – where do you get your inspiration from for the flavours and topping ideas?
I love trying new flavour combinations and will often use seasonal fruit and fresh produce. I believe in using real flavours rather than artificial ones. I often visit food fairs and will buy treats for myself and then develop a cupcake/cake flavour from that too. Sometimes some flavours may seem quite strange but they actually work really well. I like certainly flavours to be strong too. For example I love lemon cakes to be really zesty and strong or coffee cake to blow your head off a little 😉
What’s the most unusual flavour cake you’ve made? Have you had any strange flavour requests?
The most unusual flavour that I have made would have to be chocolate and Mexican chillies! The customer was specific that I had to use Mexican chillis.  Whilst this is becoming a more popular flavour now at the time it wasn’t so people were a little thrown with it! But, it did taste very yummy with a lovely kick to the icing. 
To date, what has been your most popular cake?
My most popular cake flavour has to be chocolate fudge.  Its super moist, decadent and of course full of chocolate!
What’s your favourite cake that you have ever made?Alice1
My favourite cake has to be my Alice in Wonderland tea party cake.  It was very time consuming making all the little pieces, but was really good fun and I struggled to hand this cake over!
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I would say I go for quite classic styles, A-line dresses and skirts, heels and ballet pumps.  I love vintage dresses and have recently been searching for these. I’ve found some beautiful pieces and love how they fit. I’m a typical English pear shape (big hips and a small waist) so find these styles suit me so much more. I love cropped chinos with blouses and little blazers too. 033 (640x580)
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
My favourite shops… oooh this is a hard one! I would say that overall I love French Connection (for pretty summer dresses), Reiss (for trousers and blouses), Topshop (for vests and tees), online I love shopping at Aldo as there isn’t one local to me, Notonthehighstreet, Etsy for one off pieces and of course my new found love of vintage boutiques.  One my new favourites is a lovely little shop called Alexandra Vintage in Reading.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
On my “need” list I currently have nude peep toes (for summer weddings), I’m travelling to Venice in June so also want to find some nice comfy flat sandals that are still a little glam, and I have a lovely polka dot dress that I’m looking to find a matching skinny red leather belt to go with. I also really want a new leather tan coloured clutch bag.094 (640x480)
Boots or Shoes? 
ooooh Im going to say boots, no shoes! yes, def shoes. I love boots, they keep you warm and can really jazz up any outfit. I have a lovely pair of suede shoe boots too.. but overall it has to be shoes. I love heels too much! They make feel a little more special and fancy!
whitetowerprofessionalLinks you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
My links are:

Thank you Natalie, I really enjoyed our chat and your cakes!!! 

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of Natalie Dickinson.

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