10. Titbits To Brighten Your Day, Vol. 9!

1. Handmade Embroidered Cushions From India

Hand Embroidered Cushion Cover – £15.06 – Etsy

Set of 2 Handmade Mandala Flower Cushion Covers – £29.18 – Etsy

The set of 2 Mandala Flower printed cushion covers are “made according to centuries-old, traditional Mughal Crewel embroidery art” by a family-run workshop in Kashmir, North India. Crewel embroidery is “a type of surface embroidery using wool. A wide variety of different embroidery stitches are used to follow a design outline applied to the fabric. The technique is at least a thousand years old”. Perfect to decorate your home with a story behind it to match!

2. Wild Flower Temporary Tattoos

Temporary Tattoo Set of British Wildflowers – £4.00 – Etsy

13 stunning wildflower temporary tattoos based on watercolour illustrations of British Wild Flowers by illustrator Eleanor Longhurst.

Printed onto non-toxic, skin-safe temporary tattoo paper. These tattoos can last up to a week!

I love temporary tattoos for festivals or to liven up a summer garden party outfit! It’s always good to have something unexpected up your sleeve as a good conversation starter…

You can find the Garden Bird Temporary Tattoos also pictured here.

3. An Unlikely Friendship

I don’t know why this touched me so much today. Unlikely friendship videos are the best to watch when you’re feeling a bit down. I also watched countless videos of labradors befriending cheetahs, a spunky penguin defending his penguin mates from danger, and a video of a puppy that couldn’t stop smiling, but this one stuck out. I think it’s because right at the end the narrator says, “If a dog and duck can put aside their obvious differences then why can’t we?” It isn’t that simple but I just wanted an uplifting message today. Call it quarantine blues 🙂 I hope you like it too!

4. Then & Now: Julie Newmar

For those of you wondering ‘who is Julie Newmar?’, she was the very first Catwoman! Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, Julie was always drawn to the performing arts, dancing as a prima ballerina with the Los Angeles Opera when she was just 15. Slender and tall (5″11), she is best known for her recurring role as Catwoman in the 1960s television series, Batman.

Julie Newmar with her Catwoman stunt double

Some other little known facts about Julie Newmar:

  • Her Catwoman costume is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in the United States, a collection of museums nicknamed “the nation’s attic” for its eclectic collection of over 154 million items

  • Her mother, Helen Newmeyer, was a dancer in the acclaimed Ziegfeld Follies and was described as having the most beautiful legs of any of the dancers in the company

The Ziegfeld Follies

  • The master tapes to her first ever sitcom, My Living Doll – where she plays a robot (1964-65) – were lost in the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles! But producers finally pieced together 11 episodes – enough to make a DVD – from the smaller 16mm film tapes that survived

Julie Newmar with co-star Bob Cummings in My Living Doll

  • Her first big career break came when she was cast as Dorcas in my favourite 1954 musical film, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (if you haven’t seen it, watch the Barn Dance sequence as a taster!), which is where I first discovered her

Julie Newmar as Dorcas in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 1954

Watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to see her incredible dance moves!

  • Julie Newmar was also an entrepreneur during the 1970s, patenting a design for panty-house and one for a brassiere
  • Today, she is still active in the film and television industries, as well as being something of a real estate mogul in LA, credited by one commentator as being “partly responsible for improving the Los Angeles neighbourhoods on La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue”

Newmar attending a fictional entertainment and comic book convention in Phoenix, Arizona in 2014

But one of the things I love most about Julie? She’s still just as daring in her dress sense today as she was in the 1960s:

I aspire to this!

5. The Perfect Handmade Lace Tea Dress

Toulouse Mini Dress – £329.55 – Filly Boo

Handmade from delicate 100% cotton lace, each Filly Boo piece is created by skilled artisans in small family villages in Bali, India and Java, Indonesia. This is the dress I would wear to tea with my Grandma if she owned an echoing country house, sipping daintily out of chintz floral-patterned china cups as we chatted lazily about the summer.

Of course, I have been known to make extravagant fashion purchases on little more than a whim and I’ve never needed a country house to wear it in soooo… this might be in my closet sooner rather than later! Browse more beautiful hand-crafted styles from Filly Boo here.

6. The Jardin du Jour

This open-air grotto of a fairytale restaurant is The Grounds in Alexandria, Sydney, located on a former 1920s industrial site with brick walls and an organic garden. This is definitely one to add to the Wanderlust List if you’re ever in Aus!

“The Grounds of Alexandria is a landmark cafe, restaurant & bar, garden, bakery & patisserie, coffee roastery, animal farm, florist, markets and more…The Grounds provides a wholesome, produce-driven menu that is fresh, fun and innovative”.

You can check out their Menu here!

7. Mouth-Watering Sugary Pink Treats!

Vegan Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Jam – The Vegan Jetsetter

I am obsessed with this vegan vanilla cake. It is so pink and fluffy and I SO want a slice! I’m starting to think it’s quite unkind of me to write about sugary pink treats when I can’t have any myself… but you can! This recipe uses coconut oil, vegan butter and non-dairy milk to make it cruelty-free and I am ALL. ABOUT IT. Check out how scrumptious this would be to make:

Find the full recipe here for the perfect lockdown baking project.

8. Handmade in London Pink Earrings

For the most eclectic selection of pink glittery, floral and resin earrings, head over to Flamingo Jewellery. All handmade by Eveline in London. These also happen to be the earrings I was given 5 pairs of as a birthday gift from my Nana this year – thank you Nana! – and a fun Q&A with Eveline will be coming soon! Watch this space!

9. Paris in Spring

Whenever Springtime comes around, I feel myself missing Paris. I lived there back in 2014-15 and, whilst it wasn’t the happiest time of my life, I will always hold a place for this city in my heart. Spring is the time the avenues and gardens start to burst into colour with blooms and the sun starts to shine, making your morning coffee at your favourite street-side café that little bit more special. It feels like my heart is waking up too. I can’t wait to go back and visit here once lockdown is over. Here are a couple of good travel ideas for Paris to start your musing:

Follow Me Away

Lonely Planet

A Luxury Travel Blog

See you soon Paris!

10. My Monday Mantra

Why have I chosen this as my Monday Mantra today? Well, because I’m feeling a little low. And one of the things I tend to do when I’m feeling low is beat myself up. Like my weight (about 3 stone off what I want it to be). Like the fact I’ve had 2 cigarettes today and I was on a winning streak since last Wednesday of not smoking. About not being able to make a living the way I want to make a living. All very petty really, a bit cliched, and to some people perhaps insignificant compared to all the other terrible events happening in the world. And I agree. But it’s at times like these that the old insults start creeping in. ‘You’re fat’. ‘You’re weak’. ‘You’re a failure’. Even as I write this I can feel a little lump in my throat because they’re such horrible things to catch yourself saying and thinking. You’d never say them to anyone else and yet when it comes to you does your brain just get a free pass? So I’m putting this quote here to say ‘NO! IT DOESN’T! YOUR BRAIN DOES NOT GET A FREE PASS!’ But you are the one who controls this and that is a very hard thing to come to terms with.  So here is my handy go-to guide of what to do when you’re feeling low:

  1. Write down in a diary all the things you need to hear today. Imagine you’re sitting in front of a friend and you’re explaining how you feel. They’d be sympathetic and they’d say encouraging things. What are they? What do you most need to hear to be kind to yourself? Here’s one of mine: “It’s okay that you aren’t where you want it to be. This does not mean that you won’t get there one day. You have a beautiful body that does what you ask of it and functions for you and looks after you. You are safe. You are loved. You are incredibly fortunate. Feel the deepest gratitude for that and let the other things go”.
  2. Light a scented candle, lie on your back on your bed and place your hands flat on your stomach. Focus on the steadiness of your breath making your stomach and chest rise and fall. You can think or say out loud all the encouraging things you just wrote down in your diary. It’s a little trick of self-love I do quite regularly. If you need a calming soundtrack to help you along, have a listen to this Relaxing Music with Nature Sounds.
  3. Drink a herbal tea with lemon juice squeezed into it. Guys – I do not know why this works but it really does perk you up a bit. Lemon and hot water are incredibly cleansing for the body and great for the skin, so it has fab health benefits too.
  4. Have a hot bath with lots of bubbles (if you don’t have bubble bath the trick is to use shower gel instead just as you start running your bath and froth it up with your fingers). Whilst bathing, you can also listen to an uplifting podcast such as Fearne Cotton’s My Happy Place or Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Sundays. Both have helped me before when I’m feeling down.
  5. Do your make-up. When I feel down about myself, I put on lipstick. And if I’m feeling like an extra pick-me-up, I do my whole face – mascara and all. Take a moment to look at your work in the mirror and admire your face. Say something nice. It helps.

Sending Love&Light to anyone who needs it today, MM XOXO