Monday, 4 May 2015

The Birth of a Princess


A princess has been born and in this Royal mad household we are all very happy about it! (Eleanore met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last Easter - we're still basking in the glory..)
We don't know what the name of the new Royal will be yet, but people all over the world are busy thinking about what it should be. I'm just going to put it out there and say it might (i repeat might!) be: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Eleanore Wales..



And well done to Kate for not only looking so darn good 10 hours after giving birth, but for actually walking outside in public 10 hours after giving birth. Some of us would only dream about doing this in our worst nightmare ever!! (Here's a hilarious rant on the ScaryMommy Blog that says it best.)

I must admit though, that if I was going home to Kensington Palace from the hospital then maybe I would be in kind of a hurry to get back there too. As it was, and I do like my house, I always managed to stay at least FOUR DAYS in hospital after the birth of my children. I think my record for staying in the hospital room after birth may even have been five days. I can't recall - it was all such a blur! Which is kind of the point.
My method for maximising my hospital stay (when thankfully there were no complications) was to
a) stay very quiet and hope the staff forgot I was there; and
b) undertake copious crying (on my part, not the babies, they were fine..) when going home was even lightly mentioned as a possibility by some hapless nurse who obviously had no children back home herself and didn't realise that I wasn't returning to Kensington Palace with multiple staff, private medical practitioners and roomfuls of cosmetics and designer gear.

But seriously, I breastfeed all of my babies, but I never found it easy to begin with. With each new baby I had to learn how to do it all over again. Then there was all the physical stuff going on (your body kind of turns in to a foreign object), the lack of sleep and the pressure to feed that baby meant it was kind of traumatic. Every time. (If I just whisper the words: N***** Shields were my salvation - you'll start to appreciate what was going on…) So for those reasons and no doubt many more I've blocked out, staying in hospital for more than 10 (or 24, or 48) hours was not a luxury. It was VITAL for getting proper care for myself and the baby and for having midwives and lactation consultants and obstetricians everywhere who oversaw, checked, advised and assisted.

So these services may not seem like luxuries to many of us, but they certainly are for the women of Nepal. It's hard to imagine the devastation brought about by the recent earthquake, let alone to imagine giving birth in the aftermath. But it's happening.

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Here's one way to give and to give generously with whatever you have to spare. Go to Baptist World Aid's website.

Because all babies are beautiful - and getting a happy and safe start in life, whether that's in a palace or in an earthquake zone, is something that touches all of our hearts.


What do you think the baby Princess will be called?

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Rocking the Cliches When Buying Gifts for Mum

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Do you have your Mother's Day gift covered? Some people do, because this limited edition sparkly Opera Crystals Cinderella Clutch from Oroton (AU$1500.00) has SOLD OUT!

Or are you yet to turn over the calendar page from April 2015, and hence haven't twigged that MOTHER'S DAY is fast approaching!!??

There are plenty of ways to buck the trends and avoid the cliches when searching for a Mother's Day gift. Perhaps your Mum would like to go abseiling or on a bridge climb? Maybe she's dying to see Spandau Ballet in concert and hasn't got around to buying tickets yet (oh, is that just me?).

None of us like to revert to the old cliches when it comes to gift giving, but often we don't have the time to think too far outside the square. If you are finding yourself time/money/creativity challenged, then use these ideas to delight and spoil your Mum.

In the Kitchen:

This vibrantly patterned china jug by Christopher Vine holds 3.5 litres and comes in a dazzling array of other patterns and colours. This red beauty will give any table setting a lift, making a great statement without clashing. Fill it with flowers or use it for cool drinks. It's $49.95 from Myer.

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And if you have fallen hard for the current craze for all things copper, then these mixing bowls by Australian House & Garden are definitely a thing. This large bowl will add a glamourous gleam to any kitchen. Only $24.95 ea from Myer.
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Stationery:

They say that snail mail is almost dead, and with the increase in postage stamps pricing it possibly soon will be, but in the meantime, giving Mum gorgeous good quality stationery will always be appreciated.
Who knows, maybe you'll get a lovely thank you card coming right back at you!

Kikki.K has some super sweet ranges of memory books, journals and notebooks. Don't just buy a memory book - try writing in some favourite memories and sticking in some photos of happy times. It may take you hours to do the night before - but it will be worth the effort! And do remember, if you buy Mum a Thankful Journal, don't be offended if she chooses to write in it about things other than you… just saying.

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Flowers: 

Saying it with flowers is always a good idea. I'm actually a big fan of buying a few less expensive bunches (from say a local fruit shop or even, ahem, the supermarket) and combining them for a sort of large tousled arrangement that has a carefree cottagey edge to it. It will hopefully also be attractive. Add stuff from your own garden if that's an option. Raid weedy patches beside the road, within reason, and only if it's safe. Mum shouldn't have to spend her special day visiting you in the hospital!



And if you wanted to make up for enhance the wild DIY flower arranging, then buying a WOW factor vase will have your siblings gnashing their teeth! (not that that's the goal, obviously). This hammered copper heart is by the amazing Helen Bayley at LOVESTAR. Her family business was launched in 2012, and this super mum and her team hand makes each beautiful vase. The hearts can either stand upright in a clear perspex frame, or be hung on a wall. They are stunning.

Plant pots are also a good idea - particularly if they are filled with something like a succulent that is very hard to kill. Kmart has some really stand out examples of pots with gold details that are frankly, fantastic. For $10 a pot, you could even afford to add some potting mix which I'm told may prolong the life of the plant even further!

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Hampers:

I'm a big fan of the hamper. I come from a family that is mad on hampers. Over the years some have proved better than others. My brother wasn't overly impressed the year (it may have been his 21st, I can't recall) my parents gave him "a hamper" that was actually a plastic washing basket filled with no-name tinned food. Let's just say it lacked a little on the glamour side of things..

Mother's Day Hampers should be filled with items that your Mother would actually like to receive, and which she may not be inclined to buy for herself. Sometimes a themed hamper is the obvious gift. For example, if she has a beloved pet, choose pet-inspired presents that will appeal to her (and the pet). You could include doggy gourmet treats and chocolate for her; a mug with a pic of her favourite pooch/moggie; matching bows for her hair and the pet's; a pet magazine and maybe a nice brush or spray (for her or the pet, depending on who needs it most).

Follow this list for general hamper items for Mum - that can even be picked up from your nearest supermarket if you are doing it last minute!
Place items in a crisp paper gift bag with a sparkly bow on top. Or do something crafty like paint dip a second-hand basket. Give it a go - come on!!

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Cinderella Hamper:




Magazine options could include a mini subscription, offered by some publications, which means you don't have to pay a massive amount, and it gives your Mum a taste of a mag without the commitment of a full year. 

HOORAY! is a bi-monthly Australian mag offering sustenance, styling, atmosphere and celebrations! Perfect for any Mum who likes a party, a high tea or having everyone over for a swish soiree. 

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I hope these ideas inspire you to think a little creatively within the common cliche'd gift item categories that are wheeled out every Mother's Day!
Let me know what you end up with..

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Accidental Bargains!

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A story popped up on the net this week about the website of the luxury goods company, Balenciaga.

It was the stuff some dreams are made of (Well, my dreams. Can't vouch for yours..) The term "accidental discount" is music to any shopper's eager bargain-hunting ears, and when it's coupled with a company that make amazing handbags… you know it's gotta be good!

You see, Balenciaga's website went kind of psycho. For just one day, bags that used to be thousands of dollars, were down to just hundreds (I know, still not a bargain for some of us, but you get the picture!) Apparently as the news spread, women were texting each other with emoticons of unsurpassed excitement and joy - as they raced to their devices to pick up a luxury (and presumably, previously unobtainable) accidental bargain!

Well, that is until the company realised what was happening and shut down the website for 24 hours and cancelled all the erroneous (says who?!) orders. Blugh!

Not nice Balenciaga! Imagine the appalling precedent good will you would have installed in women around the world if you had honoured these orders that were simply taking advantage of your mistake?

Oh, okay, further research has shown that they did release this little statement: “Because Balenciaga values their patronage, clients who have been affected by the error will be reimbursed for their purchases and will be issued a gift certificate that will be redeemable at Balenciaga retail locations within the United States. Balenciaga customer service will contact each person individually with information on the gift certificate process.”

But still….

So I started thinking, what other items of pure loveliness could do with being accidentally discounted?

I thought I'd start with three random items.

The Watch: It's called the Arceau Ecuyere (whatever the heck that means) and is made by Hermes (that's pronounced her-may, if you were wondering). Any watch can tell the time. But this Hermes timepiece takes that practical notion to an entirely new level of gorgeousness! There's a touch of whimsey in those slanted numerals. Oh and of course there's the usual diamonds. Sparkle! The red alligator band keeps it real, don't you think?

Not real is the price tag. I'm embarrassed to say how much it really costs. Suffice to say if they took off about $19,550, I might consider saving up for one.

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A Rug. Why not? They can make all the difference in a living area feeling cosy and pulled together, or devoid of character and bitsy. However, I have found over the years that there is a BIG difference between cheap and generic rugs, and the designer variety where no costs have been cut on on the quality and feel and the design, colour and visual appeal.
Yes, I am saying that most cheap rugs are ugly and will fall apart. It's a decorating fact.

So, a new rug. Custom made is best, so that it perfectly fits your space. (Read this Houzz story for more info on choosing the right sized rug) The experts tell us that the front edges of your furniture should overhang the rug, or even sit entirely on the rug. Most off the rack (?) rugs are not that big. So my custom made rug of choice with a strong design and colour (neutrals begone!), a vintage feel and a floral theme is this one designed by Julie Paterson of ClothFabric. It's called Rough Rose, and it is beautiful!

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And if you have the stupendous rug then you need some decent furniture to put on it.
I choose this! Thank you accidental bargain fairy! If this dropped in price from US$12,400 to oh, say  $400, I'd be most grateful.

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Enough already?? I'm kind of excited at the possibilities here. I think the accidental bargains theme could keep me going for many years, possibly forever.

So tell me, if you could have something beautiful and unobtainable at an accidental bargain price, what would it be????

Mother's Day is fast approaching. Gift giving guide coming soon!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mountains getaway




This photo proves that even when you leave the city in glorious sunshine and arrive in the Mountains to rain, fog, mist, hail, wind, cold, and more rain… our family has FINALLY reached the stage where the kids can cope; where I don't go totally (yep true, not even close) insane, and no one got sick. Well nothing bar a sniffle.

Let's just all take a big happy sigh of relief on that one.

Last year I got pretty euphoric buying my last packet of nappies - but this beats that. Past Easters involved everything from communal throwing up to toddlers with broken collar bones (Jesse when he was two).
So this is a milestone that feels worth celebrating!

In the light of our interactions with THE ROYALS from last Easter (click here to read about when Eleanore gave flowers to William and Kate!) it was going to be hard for this year to match the hype.

However, on arrival, this idyllic view always seems to calm the mind and soothe the soul. Yes okay it lacks the excitement of mixing with Royalty, but peace and harmony are not to be sneezed at.

On our annual Easter trek to the Blue Mountains we've stayed for a number of years now in a gorgeous renovated cottage complete with cottage garden filled with lavender, roses, camellias and dahlias. Heavenly! Outside the front gate are spectacular views of mountains and valleys - the kind that tourist buses drive past. Quite regularly.

Exhaust fumes aside, it's the kind of place where you really feel you have escaped from the crush of city life. I quickly forget what day it is as I revel in a place where the grandeur of creation is literally right outside the front door! Not that I bush walk mind you. I enjoy looking at it. That's it really.


Over the long weekend, we attend Katoomba Easter Convention - a christian convention where around 3000 people, many of them families, come together to hear talks from the Bible. This year we were blessed to hear Paul Tripp from Philadelphia, USA. Click here if you'd like to read more.

The kids go to a fabulous programme, run by volunteers. They have a ball.

The last few years the weather has been great. Totally great.
It was time for a change (whether we wanted it or not).  Dark clouds were gathering…



The mists rolled in. I took this (not very good) shot, just as the fog descended and everything went white. There was kind of no point in taking photos after that. My worst moment, which I'll share with you (as sharing the pain is good, right?) ..was while trudging ankle deep in mud across an oval, in the pouring rain, while carrying a crying four-year-old + 2 bags + umbrella I thought that I'd probably had enough of mountains weather. I was ready for some sun.


We didn't see the sun again until the third day (Easter Sunday), which was kind of fitting. We felt joy at being able to dry out and warm up. But the joy of reflecting on the great news that Jesus has risen was H U G E!!!!!!

It is heartening to focus on God over the Easter weekend, remembering all that he has done and is doing in our lives.  Paul Tripp talked about us having gospel amnesia, and I knew what he meant. Life gets in the way. We get distracted by the everyday.  We forget that God's great love is life-changing. That we should be living our lives as if He matters, every single day.

Here's a few more happy Mountains shots:

Eggs ready to be hidden


Dahlia picked from the garden


High tea with friends 


Kids at the lake


Feeding the ducks


Autumn splendour at Grandma's House


Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Have Courage, Be Kind

It was heartening to take the girls to a movie with a message that was worth hearing. Cinderella was always going to be fun; you expect the sparkle (blue dress and crystal slipper), the loveliness of a girl unjustly made into a servant by unkind relatives, and the righting of that wrong when the (improbable but wonderful) Fairy Godmother appears. And the marrying of a Prince, who recognises true beauty when he sees it...

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But this version of Cinderella sought to delve a little deeper. Was there something about Cinderella's character that warranted her eventual rise to attending the ball and marrying the prince?
Why yes, there was.

She had more kindness in her little finger, than most people possess in their whole body! Her dying mother tells her this and tells her that this quality holds power - power that Ella can use for good. Ella chooses to live with these qualities at the forefront of her mind and actions. And as her circumstances deteriorate, it is heartening to see that her spirit is not broken.

Ella even notices and cares for the smallest of the small, the mice who scurry around her shabby chic house (which incidentally, brought out lots of decorating ideas in me - now, just off to find a castle!) Even the mice deserve a teacup table and lacy cloth on which to eat their tidbits.

And just because hunting is what is always done, does not mean that is what always should be done! Yay, Cinderella is against the cruel hunting of the great stag, and not afraid to tell the dashing young man (who yes, is the prince) in the forest her opinion.

Cinderella has lived with great sorrow - the plethora of parents dying in this movie was a little shocking for my soft-hearted eight year old! But instead of becoming embittered, or nasty, or mean - like her stepmother (M'am) and stepsisters - Cinderella has chosen to see the good in the world, and in the people around her.


The difference between being beautiful on the inside (Cinderella) and having beauty on the outside while being ugly on the inside (the Stepmother and sisters) is a point well made. Somehow a little more pointed than the easy to dislike caricature of ugly stepsisters (both inside and out). And the point is again well made when we are introduced to the hideous hag (Helena Bonham Carter does this sooooooo well!!) who Cinderella, though shocked, is still instantly able to show kindness towards.

When the hag transforms into the Fairy Godmother, we see that Ella's kindness and courage has been rewarded, just at the time when faced with massive disappointment and rejection, Ella is questioning whether kindness and courage are worth the effort.

Reminded me how these qualities of kindness and courage are what followers of Jesus also aspire to. Jesus was the ultimate role model in showing kindness and love to the people the world loved the least. He accepted where others rejected and welcomed the unlovely into his arms.

And as Easter is upon us I'm in awe of the courage it must have taken for Jesus to obey his Heavenly Father and submit to such a cruel death. Yes it was to save the world, but did that make it any easier? It's a message worth telling, because it's about a love and courage that is life changing. And world changing. And I think our world needs to know. Don't you?

www.dearlillie.com

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Racing To Try a Recipe

Have you ever seen a photo of a dish that you couldn't wait to try?
Something that captured your eye so quickly, and your imagination so completely that within hours you found yourself in the kitchen whipping up a storm??

I did. Yesterday.

You see it was my husband's birthday. I'd already decided to roast a chicken for dinner and was at the supermarket in search of potatoes. And pumpkin. And green vegetables. 

My kitchen is suffering from a vegetable drought at the moment. But having almost exhausted my frozen vege supply and collection of macaroni cheese, cheese on toast and homemade burgers - i needed to restock. If I was going to pull off a baked birthday dinner to be proud of, I couldn't put off food shopping any longer.

On entering the fray, I spied some piles of the free supermarket magazine. I grabbed one with an appreciative glance at the photo on the front. Yum. I love it when food is linked with seasonal inspiration. My Autumn Style story on Houzz included food ideas, but now I'd probably need to revise it with dessert options!

As I headed towards the broccoli, my multi-tasking mind was spinning: Oh crap. Wait a minute. What am I doing for dessert? Uh Oh, hadn't thought of anything. Did I want to make a birthday cake? Not really. Don't have a great success rate with cakes. Why did I already make a lemon pudding three days ago? Can't very well make another one and call it a special birthday treat! Hmm, this pavlova looks amazing and I have had success with meringue of late. Is this something I could pull off? Maybe. What page is it on?

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So as I filled a bag with broccoli one-handed (not easy, I can tell you), I flicked through the pages to the Chocolate Meringue and Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce Recipe. Scanning the ingredients made the decision easy. The only extra things I needed to whip up this pavlova perfection were 4 buerre bosc pears and cream. Everything else I already had in the cupboard and fridge, and in my mind, it was already half done. Click here for the Recipe.

I had to race home as the pavlova needed to cook for 1.5 hours, and afterwards sit in a closed oven for at least 2 hours. Ideally, the rest of the recipe, the poached pears and caramel sauce, could also be pre-prepared, meaning that I'd have extra time (needed) to wrap the dvds I'd just bought and write on the card + prepare the veges and set the table. Oh you know, along with feeding the kids afternoon tea, helping with homework and cleaning up the whole house at the same time. Easy.

And amazingly it did prove to be well, not quite easy, but achievable. The meringue actually worked. The pavlova didn't flop (happened before, lots of times). The pears came up beautifully, almost toffee like. Possibly more toffee like than I'd intended due to forgetting about them on the stove and taking a long time getting Arch out of the bath and in to pjs… And yes, I over whipped the cream. I had to use a bright filter to stop it looking buttery yellow, which it was. The caramel sauce was fabulous. I halved the amount because these recipes always seem to produce way too much! Doh! Why did I let myself halve the amount?????

So here is the finished product via my instagram worthy shot:



What do you think?
It was delicious. Even fine if you tactfully ignore the sort of burnt spots on the pears. The Birthday Boy declared it was his new favourite!! WIN!

Here's a shot with bad light and sparklers!


So this recipe is definitely going in to my unruly but trusty folder of go-to desserts suitable for celebrations and a definite Autumn (or anytime) inspiration!!

What are your favourite celebration dessert dishes? Have you ever made something impulsively based on a photograph? I'd love to know..

* Please Note: It's not my normal practice to endorse certain supermarkets and I'm not intending to do that here either. I don't discriminate when it comes to the FREE handout magazines that our major supermarkets produce, mainly because they are FREE. As a magazine addict from way back, heck, if a glossy mag is free, I'll generally take it!  The supermarket mags have really stepped up in terms of photo quality and their easy cookable recipes are generally yum. They can also be a welcome relief from the more high-brow ingredients and dishes contained in many food mags you have to pay for. Although I love those ones too!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cinderella

Disney’s latest version of Cinderella is currently in pre-release/release and I am bursting with excitement and anticipation fit to bust! For those of us who grew up with this magical tale (I was addicted to a British cassette version - with the most wonderful voices and songs - and a pop-up book where the blue sparkly ball dress kept me mesmerised for hours!) there is a fairy tale streak inside of us that naturally draws us to crystal slippers, gilt mirrors and all things enchanted. 
Not everyone gets it. That's fine. Just don't try and dampen our sparkle over this. 
We love all things to do with Cinderella. The End.


Click here for the trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DF6U1HcGQ
Except that it's not the end. It's only the beginning! 
So many things to talk about, it's hard to know where to start. I've watched the trailer so many times. It's wonderful. If you haven't seen it yet, stop right now and click on the link above. That's a Royal Command.

Initial thoughts (it's a sort of question + answer format, where I've answered my own questions!): 
  • Do we need another version of this story? Yes we do. Enough said.
  • Does the movie look amazing, romantic and thrilling? Yes it does!
  • Is Cate Blanchett ("our Cate" as we refer to her in Oz) really ready to play the Evil Stepmother? Oh yes, she really is that scary! 
  • Was making Helena Bonham Carter the Fairy Godmother an inspired move? I thought she would always be Bellatrix Lestrange to me, but she can turn her wand to anything (evil or good) and frankly I'd rather have her good than evil. She was too darn scary in Potter!
  • What's that great song? My Blood by Ellie Goulding is the song played during the trailer - it sounds perfect.
  • Can we get decorating (and fashion) ideas from the sets of this movie? OH YES WE CAN!!!
So, as I bite my nails in anticipation, here's a few decorating ideas to get my mind off the fact that I haven't seen the movie yet...

How to Rock the Fairy Tale Vibe 

at Your Castle Home (Part 1)

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Want to turn your room into a fairy tale scene? One of my favourite Pinterest boards is Today Was a Fairytale. Have a look for some fairytale inspiration..but in the meantime:

Romantic Colours and Fabrics: Rose pinks, royal blues, regal purples and plush magentas with splashes of gold and silver - and preferably a mix of more than one to add layers of richness. Brocades, velvets, quilted and pin tucked, it sounds fussy but it doesn't have to be. Even some of the geometric prints of recent seasons could be worked in to the mix. This diamond embroidered cushion is $25 from Target.

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Use a mix of vintage, thrifted and store-bought pillows and bedding to make your bed a dreamy wonderland. An eclectic look seems to suit the fairy tale vibe more than a generic (dare I say, Disney?) style of print where everything is maybe a little too sugar sweet. This mix of cushions (most from Room Seven) will have a long life, basically because if my girls ever get sick of them, I'm putting them on my bed!



Then, if one was to go slightly over the top, there's always this lovely bed..


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Gilt Mirrors: "Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest one of all?" Has there ever been a more ominous question asked in a fairy tale? Leaving all things ominous aside, large gilt ornately framed mirrors add instant castle-vibe to any room, it might be just what your room is lacking - the kingdom touch! 

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If you want to read a truly hilarious tale about a woman far more obsessed with "Kingdom Mirrors" than I, read the blog of Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. She is hysterical.

The gold mirror I hung in the girls' room is not overly ornate, but I loved its rounded shape and oversized feel in the room. 


Display Your Finery: Do you own a tiara? Don't laugh. Some of my friends do, and I've certainly toyed with the idea of wearing one on the school run. Whether it's past wedding finery, or for a ball your Step Mother allowed you to attend - sparkly crowns, necklaces, rings and bracelets are too fine to be hidden away in the bottom of your undies drawer. Here's some whimsical ways to put your gorgeous gems out on show.

This is an Art Nouveau Goddess Cabinet. Enough said.


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I love the idea of displaying and storing jewellery in a vintage suitcase. It can be a real feature of your room or dressing area, and is also able to be placed on top of a cupboard or under the bed if you needed to put it away.


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Shoes: Sadly, high heels are in the same league as tiaras when it comes to suitable attire for the school run. But it's hard to think of Cinderella without focussing on the total amazingness (!) of the glass/crystal slipper!

So I looked for some fantastical examples of shoes that might fit the bill, and gorgeous ways to display shoes too. This room just gleams, and the shoes look so pretty in their glass fronted cabinet. If only I had room for this!!! Why? Why??? 


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Yes, I think we can all agree that this person owns way too many shoes. But I'm loving the glamorous chair so perfectly placed for putting them on, don't you? Again, there's the space issue..

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So enough with the lack of room already. Let's just focus on the sparkle. Because there's some serious sparkle going on here.

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Or with these by Givenchy

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Or these…May have to revise current foot ware choices for the school run. Suddenly feeling totally disillusioned with my new patent leather black birkenstocks…. Even these sandals are looking like a better option, although not so much for Autumn/Winter...

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So stay tuned for Rocking the FairyTale Vibe Part 2 - there is SO MUCH MORE to discuss…

Tell me, are you planning on seeing Cinderella at the movies?

What is your favourite fairy tale?

If you are going to rock the fairy tale vibe, just a little, will you do it through decor or fashion?