Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gorgeous Decorations

With Christmas just around the corner, we’re turning our attention to decorating! All the glitter and sparkle certainly adds to our festive spirit, and there’s nothing like a fabulous wreath or beautiful tree to make us feel Christmassy. 

If you will be adorning your home this weekend, we asked Mary, stylist for the ilovegorgeous photoshoots and the lovely lady responsible for dressing our fabulous windows, for her best advice to help inspire you:

What inspires you when decorating the ilg windows for Christmas?

For an ilovegorgeous Christmas window, I start by revisiting favourite childhood books with illustrations that I have always marvelled at, like those of Edmund Dulac, which are full of beautiful imagery. 

There is also a 'feeling' in the air with regard to design and fashion; this often influences the choice of props.  Although, it is always important to tailor this to children, as some Christmas imagery is quite frightening- or is that just me? 

As the ILG Winter collection is either party dress oriented, with lovely fluttery hems, sleeves and plenty of sequins, or soft, downy and cosy knitwear, I have no problems!

What does your home look like at Christmas time?

At Christmas in my own home, I max out on the greenery - I love completely covering an entire wall with natural green and plenty of lights. I go around the whole front door so that you can hardly get through it, and sometimes it goes all across the ceiling and over the table so that people often have to pick pine needles out of their stilton! I buy blue pine for it's aroma, and larch which is my favourite: it's really bendy and has beautiful tiny cones scattered along its length. From my garden I cut Scot's pine, birch twigs and ivy.

Who helps with the decorating (if anyone)?

My children love decorating the house, although sometimes they flake out before the tree is finished, which secretly pleases me as I love to get stuck in! The Christmas box is truly enormous, and is full of decorations collected over the years, and it all has to go on. Some of these treasures have been going on the tree since 1900, and I love the feeling that they have had an outing with our family once a year since then! Some of the more unusual ones are fish shaped baubles from the 1920's, anti aircraft silver metal tape from World War 2, and glass poodles.

What is the best DIY decoration you have come up with or come across?

The best decorations are home-made with the children - they can be really simple- you can cover your tree in cotton wool balls and plain lights, or just gingerbread- so pretty. 

I also love to make salt dough shapes - paint them with poster paints (it's worth getting some neon poster paint for added ooomph) and glitter, and cover them in sparkly spots. Tie them on with off-cuts of ribbon or coloured wool.

Also the most unexpected things make great decorations: old lightbulbs; pieces of sea- burnished glass; odd chandelier crystals from junk shops; dolly teacups and tiny teapots; silver teaspoons and cookie cutters; bows, birds, stars and hearts cut out of brown paper or newspaper decorated with sequins and glitter- clip them onto the tree with old fashioned wooden clothes pegs (yes, you can go all Ilovegorgeous and coat the pegs with glitter too!).

What are the top things to invest in when you’re buying decorations and where are good places to find Christmassy things?
It's worth buying one or two really beautiful baubles every year to compensate for any casualties. These you can purchase quite cheaply in the post Christmas sales- the best are from Liberty's (although their amazing Christmas shop often sells out in November), or anything by Gisela Graham from any gift shop or department store. Weirdly some of the nicest I have bought have been from the Globe theatre shop on the Southbank.

 Another great place for Christmas decorations is Lidl; you can get boxes of little wooden Christmas figures for around £5.  They also do really lovely nostalgic chocolate Christmas tree decorations- cheap and cheerful, and the chocolate is surprisingly good!

What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

The best thing about Christmas for me is creating a magical environment with the children for all our guests to enjoy, and then party, party, party!  Enjoy!

If you're still searching for last minute presents and stocking fillers, take a look at our hand-picked list to make it a little easier for you.  ilovegorgeous sparkly party dresses are perfect to wear on Christmas Day - what a treat to find under the tree!

Merry Christmas from ilovegorgeous! 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Time for toys...

Choosing a great toy for a child that both children and parents will love equally is no easy Job. In steps fantastic on-line toy shop Toyella. They first came on our radar in July when we both won a Junior Design Award. Their toys are built to last and will be appreciated for generations to come. No gimmicks or fads, just beautifully designed toys sourced from around the world. We spoke to their 'Head Honcho', Carl Shaw to find out a little more (that's him below with his son Ollie).

They're also offering ilovegorgeous subscribers 10% off everything until 19th Dec with code LOVE10.

Christmas is a time for toys - what were your favourite toys as a child?

I have distinct memories of toys like Kerplunk and Mousetrap in the 70s. The latter, in particular, seemed so exciting at the time when (for those who can remember) there was great anticipation as to whether the trap run would actually work! These were fantastic 'social' games and still stand the test of time.

What are your children's favourites from the Toyella collection and why?

The American Kid-o range are very stylish modern classic toys and there's not one line I don't like. In particular the Opera Theatre game (right) which has lots of educational benefits yet still remains a stylish fun game. I love the fact the makers took a risk on an Opera themed toy.

German toys makers feature heavily on Toyella as they successfully combine style, quality and intelligence...rather like their cars. The SIBISs Max Toddler ride-on car (bottom) typifies the German approach to toys.

What inspires you when creating new toys? 

We start from the outside in. Any toy making Toyella's collection must...have great packaging and look like a gift; be stylish and different from what you would normally see on the high street; have a social or educational aspect designed in; enhance a household rather than feel like clutter; and have longevity and environmental benefits.

We have a saying when we select products. "Do we like it, or do we LOVE it?' Likes don't get in.

What toys would you recommend as Christmas gifts for little girls and why?

The a-fore mentioned Opera house would be loved for girls 4 to 8 years. For 1 year olds there's still time to buy the amazing (British made) Spherovelo ride-on. Also the beautiful Mozartkugel music ball (right) is a heirloom gift for this age range.

Our double sided Dutch flip dolls (above) are great imaginative play toys that appeal to all ages. These can be walked in the Danish Moover dolls pram which is a true modern classic.

And to get them off the computer nothing beats the Magnatab Freeplay...we call it the Nintendo DS killer...traditional play beating byte power.

What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

When you sell toys you think about Christmas from about February! This year we'll finally clock off (exhausted) on the 21st December when I start to think about my own Christmas shopping. This year Christmas day is just going to be myself, my wife Clare and our three young children and I'm really looking forward to just the five of us enjoying the day and thinking about our own Christmas. Of course, when the children open their toy gifts it's going to be hard not to be analysing each product!

What new toys are you excited about launching next year?

The exciting thing is we don't know yet. We travel to Nuremburg Toy Fair each February. Very few English toy retailers do. It's huge and each year we know we'll find beautiful world toys from independent toy makers who are desperate to find a channel into the UK market. Toyella prides itself in providing these great designers a first foothold over here. I'm hoping to find more nice outdoor toys as I feel there's going to be a revolution of parents wanting their children to spend more time outside with their peers indulging in what children do best...fueling their imagination and expending energy.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Children's Trust

ilovegorgeous are delighted to be sponsoring The Children's Trust Christmas Concert, which will be taking place on Monday 10th December 2012, at the Cadogan Hall, London.  

Based in Tadworth, The Children’s Trust is wonderful national charity, who offer their services to children in need all over the UK.  We asked Zoe Savage, Head of Gala Events at the Children’s Trust, to tell us a little bit more about the charity and the incredible work they do:

When and why was the Children's Trust founded?

From 1927 until 1983, Tadworth Court was the country branch of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. After a high-profile press campaign to keep Tadworth Court Children's Hospital open, the Department of Health transferred management control to a newly created charity in 1984, now called The Children's Trust. The Children's Trust has been changing lives for over 25 years! Over the last quarter-century we have provided the very best rehabilitation, education, care and therapy to severely disabled children.
Please can you tell us a little bit more about the Trust's mission?
The Children’s Trust, Tadworth is a national charity working with children with acquired brain injury, multiple disabilities and complex health needs. We are based at a 24 acre site in Tadworth, Surrey but offer our services to children from across the UK.
Our vision: That all children with brain injuries, multiple disabilities and complex health needs have the opportunity to live the best life possible.
Our mission: For children with brain injuries, multiple disabilities and complex health needs and their families, we aim...
·     to be an internationally-recognised centre of excellence for care, rehabilitation, education and research
·     to reach out to children and families in their own community
·     to provide expert advice, training and information
·     to make our voice heard.

How can people support the Trust?

People can support the Trust by coming to one of our events, donating monthly, buy our Christmas cards or sponsor one of our events such as ilovegorgeous!

You organise some fantastic fundraising events, what exciting plans do you have for 2013

We have an inspirational women’s lunch in March at Grosvenor House, a fashion show in September at the Hurlingham Club and we have places in many sporting events such as the London Marathon as well as overseas treks.

Can you tell us about how the money raised by you helps the children?

There is nowhere else like The Children’s Trust, Tadworth. We have a unique combination of specialist services to give children with acquired brain injury, severe disabilities and complex health needs the opportunity to live the best life possible.

Children and families come to stay with us from all over the UK to benefit from our expertise and we also reach out around the country to provide support and information.

The specialist services we provide come at a cost which is not fully met by statutory sources, so we rely on voluntary donations from our supporters. Donations help fund building works, key members of staff, new equipment, leisure and play activities and much more!

Finally, with the festive season approaching, what is your favourite thing about Christmas? 

Fairy lights, everywhere!!

ilovegorgeous will be at the The Children's Trust Christmas Concert on 10th December and we would love some of you to join us. We have four family tickets worth over £200 each to the concert and gala reception afterwards to give away. Simply tell us your favourite Christmas Carol for the chance to win on our Facebook page and make sure the diary is clear! For more information on the Children's Trust and to find out more about the concert, please visit their website.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Handmade Christmas Cards
At ilovegorgeous, we love anything handmade, and this Christmas, we’ll definitely be having a go at making our own Christmas cards.  It’s a really fun project to get stuck into with your little ones, especially on a wintery wet day! Card-making isn’t as difficult or as time-consuming as you may think – we’ve put together our top tips for making your own this Christmas:

Be selective with your card
Good quality card is key; you can pick up some gorgeous festive coloured or patterned card from plenty of places - try JohnLewis, Paperchase or your local craft shop.  Try using rich colours such as navy, purple, maroon or even pink and turquoise rather than traditional green and red.  White card can also look very effective when combined with white and gold glitter, and brown card adds a lovely vintage feel.

Stick to squares or rectangles
Keep the shape of your card as simple as possible; a square or rectangle will leave plenty of space for pretty decorations on the front, and will be easier to stand up.  Once you have decided and cut out your shape, score a line along your card where you would like to fold (with the edge of scissors or a blunt knife) to ensure you get a neat edge.  If you want to save time, try buying some ready made square cards – these usually come in packs with envelopes, all ready for posting!

Keep your design simple
Don’t be afraid to leave space on your card, and keep your design minimal  - a simple glitter star or heart can look really pretty at the top of a card, or try using odd numbers, or a line of the same shape at the top of your card.  Remember to keep your designs in the same place; either in the center or at the top of your card works best.
Try your local craft shop or haberdashery departments in Liberty or John Lewis for glitter, sequins, gems and ribbons. If you don’t have time, buy some ready made embellishments such as glittery stickers. Try using old buttons, brown string and pieces of ribbon – these can look very pretty when layered on top of a glitter shape or simple label on your card.
Alternatively, old sheet music and vintage wrapping paper can look gorgeous; try folding or cutting a shape and sticking onto your card. Old scraps of material or shiny paper can look gorgeous when made into mini festive bunting across a card.

You will need some glue for your decorative bits and pieces -  we’d suggest using a small tube so you can reach into the corners. Alternatively, use a spray mount adhesive spray for a smoother finish. (Just remember to use in a well-ventilated room as they can give off nasty vapours.)
Festive words
At ilovegorgeous we’re big fans of stamps! A simple message printed on to nice card is a great idea for gift tags, and looks great for Christmas cards as well.  You can buy a stamper with separate letters, or try getting some wooden stamps, which come in plenty of different shapes, sizes and messages.  Paperchase have a lovely range.  

You could try picking some fun glitter letters – these often come with self adhesive backs, so they can simply be stuck on to your card. You can either leave the inside of your card blank or try stamping a festive message for the recipient.

Buy your own
Alternatively, if making your own cards seems too much this year, the lovely people at bespoke stationers Honeytree Publishing are giving ilovegorgeous customers an exclusive discount of 12% off all orders before the 20th December!

HoneyTree make beautiful bespoke stationery, and offer traditional or illustrated personalized stationery from a vast collection of gorgeous hand drawn artworks.  Their Christmas range is available as individual cards or come in sets, with personalised messages add a very special touch. Simply add the code GorgeousHoneyTree at the checkoutbefore the 20th December to claim your discount.

Will you be making anything with your little ones this Christmas? We’d love to see your own designs; post your designs onto our Facebook wall and let us know how you get on!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Gorgeous Christmas Puddings

With Christmas just around the corner, we've been turning our attention to festive food, and in particular, Christmas puddings!

In advance of Stir-up Sunday this weekend, we asked Jo Evans from luxury handmade Christmas pudding company Figgy’s Puddings to tell us her favourite things about Christmas and the inspiration behind the company.  

What inspired you start Figgy's Puddings? 
My husband and I always fancied working for ourselves, so we could escape the rat-race and spend time together doing something we enjoy. We spent a lot of time day-dreaming, but didn’t really have any idea what kind of business we wanted to start up. We’ve always loved food, and enjoyed making things the old-fashioned way; taking time to enjoy the process of creating something, rather than just rushing to cook and eat something as fast as possible, simply as a means to an end. Of course, the answer to our day-dreaming was looking us in the face (through clouds of steam). Our wonderful homemade Christmas Puddings offered everything we were looking for in a business.

What do you love most about what you do? 
I’m sat writing this while my little boy looks out the window for fireworks (it doesn’t seem to matter to him that it’s the middle of the day and pouring with rain!). I thrive on the work-life chaos that has come to rule our lives since we started working for ourselves. Most people who run their own business will tell you, they don’t do it for the money, they do it for the freedom. That’s definitely the case with us.

What is your favourite thing about Christmas? (now and as a child). 
These days it’s food, wine and a log fire! In my house, we all love good food – making it as well as eating it. Christmas means more time for relaxing in the kitchen, making and eating something delicious, before piling onto the sofa together in front of the fire, and a classic film. As a child it was much the same (although, on the food side, it was more about the chocolate than the Christmas dinner!

Do your children help you stir the Christmas puddings? 
These days, when we make our Christmas Puddings, we use a big mixer instead of a wooden spoon (we’ve nick-named it “Grandma”!). However, we still get the kids involved when we’re making a small batch to try out new ingredients or such like. It’s great to maintain the old traditions and encourage a love of food in our children. 

What's on your Christmas wishlist? 
I haven’t made one yet! We keep joking that we should reschedule our Christmas celebrations to the middle of January because our business leaves us no time to prepare for the big day ourselves! On Christmas Eve we have a big sort out, put away all the business stuff, put up the decorations and collapse in a heap!

What's next for Figgy's puddings? 
We keep making more Christmas Puddings each year, and always sell out, so we’ll just keep going as we are for now. We like the work/life balance we have at the moment!

What would you have both done in another life? 
When I was a teenager I wanted to be an actress and travel the world. I think I prefer the simpler life I have now! Richie says he’d be a brewer and own a self-sufficient small-holding. I don’t know if that counts as ‘another life’ though because that’s probably what he’ll end up doing eventually anyway!

Richie and Jo Evans live in Exeter, Devon.  Their award winning homemade Christmas Puddings are matured and steamed in beautiful Mason Cash ceramic bowls, allowing the flavours to develop to their full potential.  Their puddings are available to order online from their website - prices start from just £10.

ilovegorgeous have 5 of Figgy's traditional Christmas Puddings to give away, the perfect yummy finale to any Christmas dinner! We love eating ours with a large serving of brandy butter, but how do you serve yours on Christmas day?  Simply let us know by posting on our Facebook page for a chance to win! 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Gift buying guide for gorgeous girls at Christmas

by Lucy Enfield

Somehow Christmas comes around faster and faster and the list of presents to buy grows longer and longer. The men and boys past 13 fill me with horror... Xbox games and iTune vouchers feel so boring (easy yes, but how much ribbon can one use?? Not enough.)  Whereas girls...well surely girls and Christmas are like strawberries and cream, Wills and Kate, eggs and bacon...the perfect match.

Christmas is the time to forget discrete and get out the tinsel. A time we can be shamelessly bling without the niggling doubt that more is not always more.

I think the ultimate gift for the girly girl is an AMAZING dress. And boy do we come into our own with that remit. With dresses in every style we can cater for every taste. I have two favourites for the girl that really wants to be noticed - our sequin Disco Ball Dress which, as its name suggests, means the party will happen around you, and then the delicate moth-like lace Oscar Dress which means you will be collecting the award for best dressed. The envy of every female in the room. Fit wise, we like our dresses to sit above the knee so there is lots of space to throw some shapes and keep it fun. 

Both can be finished off with a pair of cosy tights and Sparkly Plimsolls or wellies, as wearing these the party goes where you are...sequins on a Christmas Day walk? Why not! Sparkly shoes can make a great stocking filler too, they come in a shoe bag which makes them a bit easier to wrap. 
If a dress feels like too big a commitment then I have yet to hear of a child that did not like the Heart Mallow Skirt and super soft Logo Cardi combo. This skirt ticks all the boxes with tiers to twirl in and a fit-all elastic waist which means it is virtually impossible to get the wrong size. The matching cardi makes it a cosy option and of course each can be mixed with any other items in the wardrobe. Looks great and Mum will be thrilled at the practicality.  

If the girl you are buying for isn’t in to frills and flounce, then the gorgeously luxurious tactile Cable Knit Jumper and Frankie Skirt is a great way to go. Easy to wear and yet still has that ilovegorgeous trademark look with a hint of net and contrast button. 

All the above can come in our statement ilovegorgeous floral adorned boxes, tied with trademark brown and cream grosgrain tape and finished with a pink fluoro butterfly card and some love hearts...but you don't want to ruin the surprise. Or do you? There is that excitement of seeing the branded box under the tree...wondering, hoping it contains the piece you have been lusting after...the wait is exquisite. Or to really fox them you can wrap.   

The Christmas wrap holds so many possibilities and mine has covered many spectrums. A friend who is sublime at wrapping says she always works within a pre-conferred theme and in her family if you hit the wrong note - an off-pantone shade of teal, birds instead of butterflies - your presents are rather unceremoniously put to the back of the tree. I don't think I really relate to this regimented stance but I am sure it all looks very beautiful and tasteful. However with my love of all things that glitter, taste is not high on my wish list. I unwittingly hit a more reserved note one year when I left the wrap till Christmas Eve and forgot to get paper. I only had tin foil and old newspapers in the house but with the help of an old roll of biscuit coloured lace ribbon and some fluoro markers, the presents alternatively were Miss Haversham and Space Age nuggets. Other favourites in more organised years have been feathers, bark touched with a Pritt Stick and glitter, ropes, ribbons and bows, tonal or contrast, layered on one parcel. VV Rouleaux is the place to go for inspiration, it's a treasure trove of beautiful exclamation marks that can inform the whole look.      

The other great excitement is the stocking filler options. I am guilty of haphazard buying from October... the presents which I squirrel away, forget about, rush out in the days prior to Christmas worrying there is not enough to then find I have too much. Again I am a magpie around the glitter options. I just can't resist them. This means our jewel-like Lurex Cardi is high on my list of favourites, so for a stocking I find myself drawn to matching this with glittery note books, baubles and stationary. Lip-gloss packaging has become an art form so there is always some of that, any of the toys from the gorgeous Molly Meg website and the adorable crochet teddies and children’s mug from Pedlars. 

When I have run out of time to search the stores, The Present Finder or I Want One of Those have always done a great job in offering crazy bits that elicit a smile (if you have not tried their sumo suit, it's a must for all day giggles). And of course, it is all topped or rather tailed with a Satsuma... which is to be found rotting under the bed a week later along with the wrappers of the chocolate coins, of which none are left. 

The main thing is to enjoy it all as much as possible. The photos of the day so often become the memories, so your gorgeous girl dressed in her perfect outfit and big smiles are the priority in it all.

Have fun and have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Fantastic Fireworks

Remember, remember the 5th of November! Will you and your girls be watching the fireworks this weekend?  At ilovegorgeous we're looking forward to celebrating Bonfire Night; it's such a traditional fun event which brings families together every year.  We love wrapping up in our warmest hats, scarves, gloves and coats, keeping toasty and warm around a bonfire, watching amazing firework displays and holding sparklers! 

If you fancy celebrating this annual event this weekend, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best family friendly firework displays which will be taking place around the country for you:


Saturday 3 November 2012
This year’s display is designed around the theme of ‘London Celebrates’ and promises to be an inspiring display! There’s lots of additional events taking place, with fire acts, mulled wine, toffee apples and roasted chestnuts. Yummy! 

Sunday 4 November 2012
Richmond’s Family Fireworks are this year themed around ‘Best of British’ and set to British music in celebration of the great UK achievements this year.  Gates open at 4.30pm so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the additional entertainment before the fireworks begin at 7pm. 

Saturday 3rd November 2012
This year’s event has a James Bond theme, with plenty of James Bond music, stalls, a funfair and lots of family entertainment.  There will be a children’s display at 7.15pm followed by the main spectacular display at 8pm.

Saturday 3 November 2012
This popular event hosted by Barnes Sports Club includes jazz music from St Paul’s School, an extensive fireworks show and plenty of yummy refreshments.  There will be a marching display of the Guy before the bonfire is lit. 

Friday 2nd November 2012
Similarly to Ravenscourt Park, this year’s event also has a James Bond theme, and includes a children’s display at 7.15pm.  There's lots of additional family events and food stalls, as well as James Bond music and entertainment. 

Throughout the country:

Saturday 3rd November 
Boasting a huge bonfire and a spectacular fireworks display, this family friendly event includes live music, plenty of refreshments and a large countdown of the lighting of the bonfire, which will go off with a bang at 6.30pm.  

Saturday 3rd November 
The 54th annual free event will start with the traditional torchlit procession through the town led by the mayor.  The enormous bonfire will be lit at 7.15pm, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.  Hot chestnuts and yummy hot chocolate will be available to warm up afterwards.

Saturday 3rd November 
Taking place at the cricket club in Wilton Park, this popular event includes children’s entertainment, a bonfire procession and extensive fireworks display at 7.45pm. There's also a sparkly wand stall available for children - perfect for waving in the glow of the bonfire! 

Monday 5th November
Known as the city’s biggest and best fireworks event, this eagerly anticipated event takes place at the Meadowbank Stadium, which boasts great views of the fireworks, as well as lots of additional entertainment and music.  Wrap up warm and enjoy the festive atmosphere!

Monday 5th November
This annual event is set at the dramatic backdrop of Richmond Castle; with plenty of entertainment for children, lots of fun stalls and activities, the main display is set to music and promises to be an extravagant display! Don't forget your sparklers!

Will you be heading out this weekend to watch any displays, or will you be hosting a bonfire party at home? Try making our Bonfire Toffee and taking it with you for a sweet treat whilst watching the pretty displays. 

Wrap up warm in a toasty jumper, and don't forget to add a hat, scarf and gloves to keep snug and warm in front of the bonfire! Our gorgeous angora blend Allie Hat with fun pom poms looks great with the contrasting cashmere blend Pistol Scarf and matching Allie Gloves, which have a great capped fingerless feature, so perfect for holding some yummy hot chocolate or a pretty sparkler.