Friday, 22 February 2013

These Shoes Were Made for Walking...

This is the story of a pair of shoes that made their way home after fifty or so years...

These are perhaps the most elegant pair of shoes I've ever owned. I bought them from a vintage shop a few years ago. Now, this is the bit where I confess to a bit of girliness...they weren't in my size and I would never have been able to wear them, but they were just so pretty. I had to have them, if only to look at!

They even came in their original box.

The shoes themselves are velvet on the outside, with the most wonderful sparkly buckles on their fronts. I wonder where they were worn? Cocktail parties? Gala openings of West End plays? Oooo, the elegance of them!

Rayne shoes was founded in London in 1885 and went on to supply footwear to the likes of Anna Pavlova, the Diaghilev Ballet, Jessie Mathews, Vivien Leigh and a stream of well-connected society ladies. Queen Elizabeth II even wore a pair of Rayne shoes when she married Prince Phillip in 1947.

After having the pleasure of owning these shoes, there came a point where I thought it was perhaps time that someone else had a chance to have them in their life, so (with a slightly heavy heart) I decided to sell them. So, off they went on to eBay and part of me hoped they wouldn't be bought! 

Well, perhaps Fate had something to do with it, because they were indeed given a new the Rayne family themselves! I could hardly believe my eyes when I read who'd bought them and I couldn't resist sending a message to their new owner to find out more. I found out it was the original founders of Rayne's great grandson, Nick Rayne, who'd bought them. Nick told me, "I am from the fourth generation who worked for the firm and left it 25 years ago when it was sold. I am now trying to relaunch Rayne as it has been out of circulation for many years. And to do this I am collecting a few prime examples of old Rayne shoes". All very exciting!

So, there's a happy ending to this story. The shoes have 'gone home' and who knows? perhaps we'll be able to wear elegant Rayne shoes in the future once more. This time, I'll make sure I buy some that are actually in my size!

Friday, 8 February 2013

An Excuse for a Party

Oh, I do love a reason to host a gathering! It's LittleTreasure's birthday soon and I was rather thrilled to finally be able to send out the Belle and Boo party invitations I bought last summer (because I saw them, loved them and couldn't resist them!) She's too small to really understand parties on a grand scale, so we're just having a family birthday tea. Needless to say, I'm still excited about planning it all for her and making our house look pretty (with balloons and the like) for the occasion. Now, if she was older I think I might have been tempted to throw myself whole-heartedly into the idea of a themed party...and these books would have been my inspiration...

I must admit, I still harbour a small fear about 'The Wizard of Oz' from childhood. It was the Judy Garland film that did it, with those flying monkeys and that very creepy-looking Wicked Witch. I can't watch the film even now! But I'm a sucker for craft and pretty things and I think this book might help cure my fear of all things Wizard of Oz.

The styling of this book is fabulous. It's a delight from cover to cover. There's a wonderful mix of great photos and illustrations. I loved the introduction too. Not only does it give you a brief history of Oz, there's also a little behind the scenes bit about how the book came into being.

There are 50 projects in this book, all with great step-by-step instructions and photos to help you on your way to crafty and baking happiness. I think you'll have a job deciding which one to start with. Among my favourites are the woollen Toto cushion, bluebird wreath, squashed witch cupcakes and this Dorothy doll.

This book gives you a great excuse to fully immerse yourself in all things Oz. There's even a whole section dedicated to the Emerald City, complete with green lemonade, pistachio popcorn and glow-in-the-dark jelly!

Absolute genius - cyclone cupcakes!

These munchkin egg cosies made me grin from ear-to-ear. The thought of one of these lovelies gracing the top of my boiled egg is a wonderful thing! The photography in this book is just fabulous...every project has been brilliantly styled with all sorts of little details.

I think the instructions for the projects are well written and not too daunting. When I found myself sometimes pondering over something, there was often a photo to guide me on my way, which I found really helpful. There's nothing nicer than having some step-by-step images to follow as well as written instructions. To make life easier, all of the templates for the projects are in the back of the book (some of which need to be enlarged).

Now, I'm not a dog person but even I thought this decorated dog house was rather brilliant! Do you think it would be suitable for cats?!

I loved this book. It's the sort that you can pick up and enjoy flicking through with a cup of tea while you think about what to make...and then spend many happy hours using to create everything that a Wizard of Oz fan might want for a fabulous soiree.

All the details:
Everything Oz: The Wizard Book of Makes and Bakes
by Christine Leech and Hannah Read-Baldrey
Published in 2012 by Quadrille Publishing Ltd

Now, if you liked the look of 'Everything Oz', you'll love 'Everything Alice'! By the same authors, this is the first book that they created together. The papercut design on the front cover is a hint to the wonderful craftiness inside. The book is dotted throughout with these great papercut illustrations, which only adds to the magic of the Alice theme.

Another great introduction, this time with a whole page dedicated to Hannah and Christine's trip to Oxford in search of all things Alice. I really enjoyed reading it.

The book is bursting with 50 makes...everything from a dandy white rabbit toy, Wonderland mobile, giant rose lights and Tweedledum and Tweedledee shoebags, to playing card bunting, March Hare's house tea cosy, Drink Me cordials and Cheshire Cat sandwiches. I love these embroidered designs...I want to grab my sewing things and start stitching every time I see them!

There's lots of Alice-related fun and trivia throughout the book. Now, where's my crown?!

As with 'Everything Oz', 'Everything Alice' is the perfect companion to a comfy chair and cup of tea. I've spent ages just looking through this book, there's so much to see and absorb. It's an absolute delight!

So many projects to choose from, it's tricky knowing where to start...



I absolutely love all started with a trip to Laduree in Paris last year! These rosewater and crushed lavender ones look divine.

All the templates you'll need for the projects are in the back of the book. What with that and well-written instructions, what else could you need to get started creating your very own Alice-themed wonderland?!

All the details:
Everything Alice: The Wonderland Book of Makes
by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech
Published in 2011 by Quadrille Publishing Ltd