20 Dec 2012

The Magical Ice Kingdom . . .

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a private sneak preview of the Magical Ice Kingdom installation in London's Hyde Park before the attraction opened to the public. The Kingdom forms an exciting, new part of Hyde Park's annual Winter Wonderland event that sees a corner of the vast park turned into Christmas town each year, complete with ice rink, wooden-hut market stalls, fairground rides and much more. The Ice Kingdom is the biggest installation of its kind ever in the UK and features amazing sculptures carved from ice specially shipped in from Canada. Upon entering the -8 degree Kingdom, visitors travel through a number of themed zones, meeting various magical creatures along the way before taking a seat in the ice carriage and a tumble down the ice slide. 
The sculptures were created by the team at Hamilton Ice Sculptors and lit with cold-white LED fixtures to give the ice an ethereal glow. Care had to be taken that the lighting didn't melt the sculptures, so LED lamps proved the ideal solution as they generate very little heat.
With real snow and fir trees littering the Kingdom, and a new ice cold creature to encounter around every corner, visiting the Magical Ice Kingdom felt like I'd stepped into Narnia when the White Witch was at the height of her power. I would highly recommend a visit should you be in London this festive season . . . just watch out for the dragon!
My photos were published in the magazine I work for and even made the front cover  :)

Let Lily Know: Have you visited the Magical Ice Kingdom? What did you think? 

10 Dec 2012

Finds: Dreaming of a Mint Christmas - Etsy Edit . . .

From top:
- Christmas tree mug - Asleep From Day - £9.95
Bee candle holder - Blue Room Pottery - £23
Christmas bauble - Asleep From Day
Aguayo bracelet - Lak Lak - £57.53
Mint bow ring - Mint Rainbow - £9.27
Clutch bag, vintage white leather - Blackbird and the Owl - £31.96
Russian porcelain brooch - Albaricoke Azul - £9.95
Heart stud earrings - Dariami - £11.51
Tiny skull bracelet - Mini Fabo - £10.23
Blue bird brooch - Katrin Art - £10.64
Leather tote bag - ByMART - £33.23
Friendly Narwhal brooch - Lila Ruby King - £23

Lily Says: Mint is a colour that the world seems to go crazy for in Spring/Summer, but I'm championing that Mint is a shade for all seasons and bringing you a Gift Guide based around the colour. Whereas in Spring/Summer mint is fresh; in Autumn/Winter it's icy, frosty and can offer a cooler, muted alternative to the plums, reds, golds and fir-tree greens that tend to engulf us in the run up to Christmas day. To support independent sellers this Christmas, I've kept this Gift Guide strictly Etsy-based. Hope you like what you see! 

6 Dec 2012

Lily Loves: Non-Christmassy Christmas . . .

From top left:
- Jewelled onion glass bauble - John Lewis - £4
- Party dog, mini glass cloche decoration - Angel At My Table - £19.50
Royal Albert, polka blue decorations - John Lewis - £35 (for three)
Little England cream tea glass bauble set - Fortnum & Mason - £40
Hand painted wooden birds - Rigby & Mac - £7.95 (each)
Owl glass decoration - Occasions Direct - £2.99
Resin cupcake trio - Occasions Direct - £10.99
Winter Whale - Anthropologie - £14
Large white porcelain star - Heals - £8
Jonathan Adler elephant hanging decoration - Heals - £20 (usually £24)
Peace on Earth sparkling bauble - Selfridges - £24.95
Cody Foster winter owl - Selfridges - £19.95
Pink rose glass bauble - Homebase - £2.49

Lily Says: If you look hard enough, you can find some beautiful non-Christmas-specific decorations amongst the holiday collections. Above are my picks from this years crop. Which one is your favourite? Do you like all-year-round hanging decorations too? Please let me know in the comments :)

29 Nov 2012

Lily Loves: Scandinavian Christmas - Home Edit . . .

From top left: 
- Skandi snack bowl - Tesco - £2.50
Little Frost tonttu - Wooden Christmas - £13.90
White wooden Christmas tree - Wooden Christmas - £28.90 
Set of four log cabin measuring cups - M&S - £15
Red wooden pillar candle holder - Wooden Christmas - £29.90
Sagaform Dala Horse serving dish - Cloudberry Living - £22.95
Chenille snowflake cushion - M&S - £12
Chunky knit pouf - Nordic House - £139
Red Cranberry & Spice candle - BHS - £6

27 Nov 2012

Lily Loves: Scandinavian Christmas - Decoration Edit . . .

From top left:
- Knitted red bauble - M&S - £5
Wooden heart - Arctic Fashion - £6.20
Christmas gnomes - Skandium - £19 each
Knitted bird peg decoration - Heals - £3.20
Grey folk bauble - Drift Living - £3.99
Glass star bauble - Heals - £2.80
Wooden star with hanging heart - Dunelm Mill - £1.99
Wooden penguins - Skandium - £3.50 (small) / £5 (large)
Dala Horse hanging decoration - Skandium - £3.50
Knitted mittens decoration - Heals - £4
Knitted print pillar candle - Heals - £9.60
Wooden birds - Skandium - £6 each
Angel with Lur - Skandium - £4.80

1 Nov 2012

Lily Loves: Cléo's Animal Scarves . . .

These silk animal scarves are the creation of Cléo Fern Mercury, an independent, London-based accessory designer specialising in playful silk scarves. Having launched her brand in 2010, Cléo's previous collections include a range of square silk scarves depicting icons such as Brigitte Bardot, Grace Jones and Elizabeth Taylor, that you may have seen selling via Tatty Devine. The latest collection depicts a range of animals fashioned into scarves and collars and is right up my street! Personal favourites include the red fox and the badger. I love that the scarves are a modern twist on the rather gruesome fox stoles you can often spy in antique shops and flea markets. Thankfully, Cléo's scarves offer a much more animal-friendly alternative! 

8 Oct 2012

Baking: Halloween Glam Cake Pops . . .

With the arrival of October, the countdown to Halloween has well and truly begun. To celebrate, Carousel Cupcakes (that's my good friend Sam and I - yep, I am now a fully-fledged Carousel team member!) decided to create these Halloween Glam cake pops. We decorated the pops with deep, autumnal orange glitter and little ravens dusted with black glitter. Trick or treat! 
If you would like to know how to make cake pops, be sure to check out my tutorial from last year. They are really simple and would make a great DIY project for any parties you're having this season.
If you're interested in how my friend and I got into baking, we've been interviewed over on the Super Happy Cupcakes site. Happy baking!

3 Oct 2012

Travel: Antwerp, Belgium . . .

 On Monday 1 October I made a flying visit to the Belgian city of Antwerp to interview someone for the magazine I work for. It was such a brief trip, but I did manage to fit in a visit backstage at Terry Gilliam's production of the opera, Faust (many thanks to the production manager for showing me around) and a speedy walking tour of the city to take in some of the charming old architecture the city has to offer. From step-buildings, to an elaborate cathedral and one of the grandest train stations I've ever seen - Antwerp is a very pretty city with a chocolate shop on almost every corner. I picked up a box of Belgian chocolates shaped like little hands (see final picture below) - the traditional mascot of Antwerp. Folk lore has it that the city of Antwerp takes its name from the legend of a giant called Antigoon who chopped off the hands of anyone who crossed the river in to Antwerp and didn't pay him a toll, throwing the severed limbs into the river. Eventually the giant was slain by a young hero called Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it in to the river. The name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand-werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan - to throw. Today the story is paid tribute to by an elaborate statue in front of the town hall. The hero holds the giant's severed hand aloft triumphantly and water spouts from the hand as if it were blood. Gruesome! You can see the green statue in the above and below photos along with the town hall, decorated with flags and the elaborate cathedral with its towering spire.  

28 Sept 2012

Wardrobe: Autumn Wishlist . . .

The Portland Jumper - Aubin & Wills
Birch Bag - Hobbs NW3
Birch Mac - Hobbs NW3
Koko T-Shirt - Wrap
Satire Boots - Rocket Dog via Schuh
Dandelion Jersey Dress - French Connection
Washed Hoody in Autumn Bloom - Boden 

Lily Says: The nights are drawing in and there is a distinct chill in the air - not to mention all the puddles on the pavements! Autumn has arrived and brought with it the usual cravings for chunky knits, plum-tones and the like that we all seem to get at this time of year. My little collection here has a rather timeless English feel to it I think. The woodland animal emblems, the deep moss-green classic trench coat, the rather 1940s-cut dress and so on. I must admit, though this is supposedly a 'wishlist', I do actually already own a number of these items (or, in the case of the cardigan, a more affordable but just a nice alternative). Naughty me!

Let Lily Know: What's on your Autumn wishlist? What do you think of my collection? 

27 Sept 2012

Beauty: Paul & Joe's Fairy Queen . . .

Regular readers may remember my little ode to Paul & Joe beauty packaging from earlier in the year. If not, here's the basics - I think Paul & Joe packaging is beautiful and in every sense. Simple as that. So I just couldn't resist snapping up one of the nail polishes from the Summer 2012 'Midsummer Nights' collection. I know, I know... I'm a little late to the party - but in my defence, this is a shade that will look just as great during the winter party season adding sparkle over any of my favourite fall polishes as it does over a nude manicure during the warmer months. The shade is called Fairie Queen and is a shimmering, translucent polish with pretty, iridescent specks of pinks, pale blues, purples and greens. I'm not sure the photos do it justice - it really looks like some kind of magical product in real life. And, needless to say, I am a big fan of the packaging. From the Art Nouveau inspired box, in mint green and antique gold to the bottle itself - I'd happily have the product for display reasons only! But where would be the super-girly, manicurey fun in that? 

Paul & Joe beauty products can be purchased from Beauty Bay and ASOS in the UK. Visit the Paul & Joe Beauty website here

13 Sept 2012

Lily Loves: Jonathan Adler . . .

 Jonathan Adler is without doubt my favourite pottery designer. I'm sure not many people my age can claim to have a 'favourite pottery designer'  but there you go - I've put it out there - I do. I love that the pieces often have a quirky twist and that the team behind the brand obviously have a sense of humour. I also really like how most pieces are simply white, with pattern, shape and texture providing the interest. Unfortunately, most of the pieces are a little out of my price range at the moment but I am saving hard to snap up a fox! In the meantime, after pouring over the website for a good few years, I finally crumbled and treated myself to three miniature versions of Jonathan Adler's classic Menagerie collection. I picked up the horse, the gorilla and the giraffe in hanging decoration form from the Sale section of the JA site (I do love a bargain!) and couldn't be happier with them. They arrived really quickly, beautifully packaged in blue boxes as you can see below:

Now I just need to find the perfect place to hang this little trio! You can read a timeline of all things Jonathan Adler here

Let Lily Know: Do you like hanging decorations? Where do you like to hang them? My door handles are all full! Haha . . .

6 Sept 2012

Jewellery Collection: Origami Jewellery

It was my birthday earlier this week and I was lucky enough to be given this Origami Jewellery solid silver rabbit necklace by my boyfriend. I'd not heard of the brand before, but imitation origami jewellery pieces had caught my eye in the past so I was thrilled to receive one of the original pieces behind the origami jewellery trend!
Origami Jewellery is the work of French designers Claire Naa and Arnaud Soulignac who, after being taught the Japanese art of paper folding one winter night by their friend Masayuki Muraki, decided to pay tribute to the intricate shapes created by combining them with precious materials such as silver, gold and rose gold. The pair travelled to Japan to carefully source manufacturers capable of reproducing the intricate and delicate shapes of origami and from there a whole forest of origami animal jewellery was born.  
The little rabbit is rather weighty and hangs on a long chain that rests mid-chest (sorry, I'll get my tape measure out soon and give you an exact length, I promise!). It's the perfect piece to give a basic outfit an edge and I've already received a number of compliments on the necklace, which is always a good sign! In the UK, Origami Jewellery is stocked at Liberty - presented in a beautiful bell jar on one of the counter tops in the jewellery hall no less! It was a tough choice as all the animals were so appealing - the swan, the flying horse, the dog - but I chose the rabbit in the end and I am so happy with it. You can see other examples of Origami Jewellery animals here

3 Sept 2012

Beauty: Neom's Utter Relaxation Collection

I first heard about the Neom brand quite a while ago via LipSoFacto and have been intrigued to try the brand ever since reading about the wonderful scents and carefully selected organic ingredients of the product range. So, as work on the magazine has been a little hectic recently, I decided it was the perfect time to treat myself to Neom's Utter Relaxation Collection. For roughly £30 (from Feel Unique) I received a beautifully presented set of products which have both given me a good overview of the brand's offering, and left me feeling exactly how I wanted to - relaxed and pampered . . .
 The Collection is presented in the above packaging which opens at the front like a book to reveal the four 'luxury organic' products inside. From the moment I opened the courier package I could smell the gorgeous scents escaping from the box. Printed on the packaging is a guide to the contents of the collection and how best to use them - the perfect step-by-step guide to creating a completely relaxing pamper session for yourself. 
 Included in the set are: 
-  Step One: Sumptuous Travel Candle (75g), scented with Rose and Orange Blossom with a burn-life of 20 hours. According to the 'menu', this works to both calm and soothe you whilst lifting your spirits. This has a 'clean burn' and the wax turns to a kind of oil as it burns up, so the scent is rather strong but not over powering. Step one of the pamper guide is to light this and turn down the lights...
- Step Two: Tranquillity Organic Bath Oil (5ml), containing a calming blend of English Lavender, Sweet Basil and Jasmine to help ease you into a good night's sleep, and Jojoba and Safflower to help hydrate and nourish the skin. Step two urges you to run a bath and pour the whole 5ml in, but I found a few drops were more than enough and meant I still had some product left to enjoy on another occasion. I have to say, my skin did feel really soft and nourished after the bath.
- Step Three: Real Luxury Organic Body Lotion (50ml), contains a rich blend of Vitamin A and E-packed Shea Butter (one of my favourite things in a body product!), Macadamia Nut Oil, Rosemary Leaf, Pomegranate and 'the highest quality aromatherapeutic oils' (ooh, fancy). This is a light formula which is absorbed into the skin nice and quickly (nothing worse than a heavy body lotion, clammy in my opinion!).
- Step Four: Tranquillity Organic Pillow Mist (50ml), like the Bath Oil this contains a blend of organic English Lavender, Sweet Basil and Jasmine and is intended to help you drift off to sleep feeling completely relaxed. The scent is gorgeous and, as you'd expect, completely soothing and relaxing. I haven't actually tried the pillow mist yet as I'm saving it for when I am away with work in a few weeks and will need all the help I can get to relax at the end of the day! 
So what's my verdict? Is the collection worth the money? If you fancy treating yourself or a loved one to a really luxurious pamper session then yes, it's definitely a good little package to splash out on as it gives you a whole experience in one box for less than the price of one regular Neom product! What's not to love about that? The fact that it's a slightly more elusive brand (as opposed to, say, Boot's Sanctuary Spa or something), makes the collection feel that little more 'special' and, perhaps it's just me, but I find that really helps you get in the mood for a good pampering! 
Neom is quite pricey, but if you like what you've read then perhaps pop a collection like this on your Christmas list or keep an eye on the Neom website and Feel Unique for occasional discount offers. 

Let Lily Know: Have you ever tried Neom products? Which ones and what did you think? You may persuade me to treat myself again sometime soon ;)

NB: The Collection doesn't seem to be available any more but I'm sure similar gift sets will pop up again soon so do keep an eye out if you're interested!

31 Aug 2012

Baking: Tropical Cupcakes . . .

Another Lily in the Labyrinth / Carousel Cupcakes collaboration (we're quite the team now!) are these Tropical Cupcakes! As Sam is just back from her Caribbean honeymoon and I spent two weeks in Cuba last month, we thought it would be fun to harness the tropical vibes of our summers and create these colourful cakes. And what's best, the cakes are pineapple and rum flavour! Cocktail cupcakes? Genius! Sam did an amazing job with the baking - the cakes are so light and moist! The blue frosting in the signature Carousel Cupcake swirl is also really light and we used sugar craft, cocktail umbrellas and special edible paints and glitters to decorate them with hibiscus flowers, beach balls, buckets and spades, flip flops and shells . . . 

Let Lily Know: What do  you think of our Tropical Cocktail Cupcakes? NOM!

24 Aug 2012

Travel: Michelham Priory, Sussex . . .

The 21st of August marked my parent's 30th Wedding Anniversary and to celebrate, we took a trip to the place they first met - Michelham Priory in Sussex. Surrounded by the longest, water-filled moat in England and dating back to the 1200's, the Priory has a rich history - and several resident ghosts! The attached Tudor house and barn (in which my parents first locked eyes on each other), make it a unique little historical site and well worth a visit. The beautifully tended moat, kitchen gardens, physics gardens and surrounding countryside are so peaceful and make the perfect place to wander for a while and forget the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Here are some snaps I took as I had a little stroll back in time . . .

30 Jul 2012

Lily Loves: I'll swim to you . . .

A very sweet little card to let someone know you are there for them or thinking of them, this 'I'll Swim To You' card (£4.95) from Toothpick Nations consists of a swimming girl, a red balloon and a water-print envelope. The recipient can hang the girl from the balloon using a red thread provided, turning the card into a pretty hanging decoration.

On the subject of swimming, well done to Rebecca Adlington on winning a Bronze for Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics last night :) 

27 Jul 2012

Travel: Havana, Cuba

Earlier this month I travelled to Cuba with my boyfriend. It was our first holiday in six long years and I must admit, preparing for it did become a little all consuming as I wrote list after list of things to pack - from clothing and shoes to cosmetics and medicines to snorkels and sun cream! The holiday was amazing and Cuba has really won my heart. For a country so shut off from the rest of the world, its people were always so warm and friendly, the history rich and intriguing and, though many of the buildings were in various states of decay, that decay was beautiful in its own right! (Or am I the only one who finds decaying buildings beautiful??). From what I had heard prior to visiting Cuba's capital, Havana, I was expecting a bit of a shit-hole, I must be honest. But in truth, the place was rather magical and not nearly as run-down as I'd been lead to believe. The ice-cream coloured buildings, whether decaying or preserved, had Hispanic charm. The cars, vintage American Chevrolets clinging to life, whizzed past, always crammed full of too many passengers. Yes, generally people here are poor and many will approach you looking for a pesos or two, but say "No" and we found they will move on with no bother. Others will approach you with simply a genuine interest in where you are from and how you are finding their city. We had a lovely conversation with a couple who told us where a free Salsa festival was taking place and gave us a few tips on the best sights of Havana. 
Worth checking out if you are lucky enough to be going to Havana yourself are the many brilliant cocktail bars. We visited quite a few (I know, it's a hard life...), including several where Old Man of the Sea author Ernest Hemingway used to take his favourite tipples. From La Floradita where the Dakari cocktail was invented, to La Bodeguita Del Medio - one of the most famous bars in the world where visitors (us included) all write their names on the walls (and bar stools, and stairs... and any surface they can find!). Here you can have one of the best Mojitos you've ever had (it was invented here) whilst listening to a local Cuban band who will no doubt cram into the tiny bar, set up in a corner and play the charming Guantanamera and other such traditional Cuban favourites. 
Visits to Revolutionary Square, with its impressive memorial to Jose Marti, a cigar factory and old presidential houses with peacocks roaming the courtyard gardens made up the rest of our trip, along with a night at the world famous club Tropicana - a full-on, colourful, tropical cabaret show with some of the most ambitious headwear I've ever seen on a dancer!
I hope this post has given you a flavour of Havana. Please let me know what you think of my snapshots below . . .

Let Lily Know: Have you ever been to Cuba or Havana?
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