10 fragrances to make your home smell amazing

Don’t you love it when you walk into someone’s home, and it smells absolutely divine? Well, I’m going to share some of my favourite home fragrances at the moment, so you can make your home smell gorgeous too!

I’ve put them into three budget categories to make it easier to find one within your budget range – Low, Medium and High. Low means that they are the lowest cost, Medium means they are pretty average, and High means that you might need to take out a small mortgage to buy them.

I also calculate the price per gram or millilitre where I can, so you can see how much bang you get for your buck. And please note that prices I state here are as they were when I wrote this, which was in April 2018 – they may have changed since.

So, without further ado, I present my top 10 candles and diffusers in no particular order…

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My First…holiday abroad

HOLIDAY ABROAD

My first holiday abroad was in 1997, when my family went to Ibiza for a week. I remember being so excited about it, rushing around imagining what it was going to be like on a plane, what the food was going to be like, whether there would be a beach or a pool. I packed carefully, over the space of about three months, conducting a little social experiment with my toys to check which ones were suitable to remove from the group for a week and to weed out those who might not deal well with the aeroplane. My brother had this fantastic book which had drawings of all sorts of vehicles that had been visually chopped in half so you could peep into all the rooms. It was meticulously labelled, and I pored for hours over the image of a military aeroplane so I knew exactly what to expect from our flight.

It’s amazing how much detail you remember as a child. I can remember the name of the person who took care of our table at the hotel restaurant – Raquel, her name was. She had a kind face and bright auburn hair, and teased us over our Spanish pronunciation. The hotel felt like a 5 star mansion to me, and I explored it as if I were its king. The restaurant was tired and clearly hadn’t been updated since the 80s, the ornate coving around the top of the room had paint peeling off it. But to me, it was a fancy palace. It was so fancy that they had wall-to-wall buffets where you could choose to eat whatever you wanted. I could eat chips for dessert? I didn’t have to eat mushrooms? I was giddy with all that power.

I feel like that was my first true taste of what it is to be able to choose, a privilege that middle-class westerners like myself are very much spoilt for. It’s a bit sad that I can remember this being a novelty. Now it’s just life, I guess.

I got carted off to some kind of activity camp for children for a number of days a week. Actually, now I think about it, I can’t remember whether I was forced to or whether I chose to. Thinking about it, I imagine I probably wanted to – I liked meeting new people. We did arts and crafts all day, and there were water fights and origami planes, and these wire bound notebooks with a very special pen that we could write in over the course of the week. There were tasks and activities in the books that we could do when we were back with our families, and we could note them down and win awards. At the end of the week there was a prize-giving ceremony, and the kids that received the awards had these weird cardboard cutouts of armless people that I now realise were supposed to look like Oscars, but at the time I had no idea what that was, of course.

The holiday wasn’t just my first trip abroad. This was the holiday where I first learned to dive, something I was both petrified and excited about. I was awful at it. Belly-flop after belly-flop I went down, red marks stretching across my tummy and my goggles dislodged. Chlorine in one eye. A tear of frustration quickly wiped away.

But I practised. Diligently, every single day, I insisted that we go to the pool. I marched us to the deep end, and I asked for help. And over and over and over again I threw myself into the water until finally – I did it. I remember that feeling of my arms outstretched, the water coming towards me and my dumpy little legs held as straight as I possibly could. And then that feeling of euphoria as I find myself suddenly able to glide down into the water with no resistance, the water pushing on my body and that second that I crash to the surface, momentarily so blinded by excitement that I forget to breathe.

I did it. But, I wasn’t done. With a determination that I wish I had even half of as an adult, I got straight back up and did it again. And again. And again. Until I could do it perfectly.

On the last day of our holiday, I was so nervous I would forget all about everything that I needed to buy a momento I could keep forever. I used all my pocket money on a terracotta figure in the tourist shop, a dancing woman with a determined grin and the fanciest ra-ra skirt. Black and white polka dot. And although I think she disappeared in about 2002 when my parents moved house, I can still remember her tiny painted face perfectly, forever engraved in my memory.

Weekly Quirk – Issue 06


Issue 06 : 08 May 2018


Welcome to my weekly digest, covering things I’ve been reading, and interesting fact, my favourite posts on Instagram and a few things I’ve spotted that are on my shopping list. 

I feel like I’ve walked out of a dark room after being trapped inside for about 6 months – finally, the sun is peeping through my window at about 6:30, and the city feels more…alive. It’s amazing how just a little taste of summer makes everyone that much nicer.

I’m really sad that the bank holiday weekend is over, as it has been absolute perfection. We’ve been spoiled by the blue skies and the unusually warm weather, and I’ve eaten ALL.THE.FOOD. On Sunday, I had two ice creams in one day.

This is the time of the year that I suddenly go from being miserable to briefly relaxed, as the sunshine is a novelty. I haven’t endured days of sticky tube journeys where Londoners are irritable and shouting profanities at each other for little more reason than the fact that it’s over 40 degrees and we all just want to go home. At the moment we’re unzipping our summer wardrobes and ambling around in awe of the weather, as though we can scarcely believe our luck. We’re planning trips to the beach. We’re laughing because the sun is in our eyes – isn’t that strange? The sun, in our eyes? Almost as if it’s summer! – and we’re not yet crying because we’re squinting hopelessly at our computer screens as the deadlines loom and the salty stench of summer is just sitting in the room, pressing down on our motivation and telling us to go put our face in the fridge.

For now, I’m enjoying this novel weather though. Perhaps I’ll plan a trip to the beach. Perhaps I’ll put my face in the fridge instead.

 


Susan Pinker/Brian Gallagher : ‘Why women choose differently at work’

Which came first, orange the fruit, or orange the colour? Apparently the word orange was originally used to describe the tree the fruit grew on – a fruit that actually doesn’t exist in the wild, it was a hybrid between two other fruits created in South-East Asia. Only as language evolved did it come to describe the fruit itself – which wasn’t actually orange! In fact, in many areas across South-East Asia, oranges are bright green on the outside. This is because oranges are sub-tropical, and in cooler climates they turn orange on the outside – in hotter countries, the chlorophyll is preserved in the skin and so they remain green.

The word orange was first used to describe the colour in English in 1542 – weirdly enough, the first recorded example of the word appears in a will!

More here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_(fruit)


I can’t say I’ve been pumping out the summer tunes this week, but here are three albums I listened to, in no particular order!

Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

This self-titled album is a rare dip into post 2000s music for me. I heard the single New Rules a number of times, and I loved how catchy but confident it was. I looked up the album, and there are just so many strong and emotional tracks on here – apparently she leans into hip-hop, which I can hear, but I’d classify this as pretty pop. This has been my go-to “I had a difficult day and I need something to make me strong again” album recently. (You can check out the album here)

 

Rubber Soul (UK release) – The Beatles

On Sunday evening, as the hot sun rolled behind the houses opposite and the temperature dipped a bit and the sky began to get darker, I put some candles out, popped this album on my record player and sat on the balcony to write for a bit. It was great, until I had to get up halfway through to turn the record over (I really need to upgrade to a record player that automatically flips the LP over) but I have one of those cosy mermaid tail blankets and my legs were somewhat trapped in. Wriggling out of it every 20 minutes was a bit of a pain, but it’s okay, because this album is so fun and energetic and happy that I didn’t mind too much at all. This is such an upbeat and happy album – well, unless you start listening to the lyrics. Any song that refers to grown women as girls kind of infuriates me, and Nowhere Man makes me cry a bit if I start thinking about the lyrics too much. Anyone else…? (You can check out the album here)

 

Aja – Steely Dan

I love how peculiar yet immediately familiar this album is to me. Each track feels like it has been etched somewhere in my memory but my brain doesn’t quite recall where. This was released in 1977 and although it has really split opinion, it is an album that I keep coming back to when I need something peaceful, uplifting, but at the same time with enough urgency that I still get the little things done. (You can check out the album here)


Basically the entirety of Collectifs SS18 collection, if you wanted to know. I mean, have you seen it?! A cracking mix of pastels and tropical fruits. And one jacket that I NEED.

1. ‘Outlaw’ Holographic Biker Jacket (COLLECTIF)

 Collectif Holographic Biker Jacket image

Sadly for me and perhaps thankfully for my wallet, this is a little bit steep for an instant buy – I guess I’ll agonise over it for a while before making the plunge! What is there to dislike? Holographic rainbow 80s feels that I can mix and match with my pastel-inspired spring wardrobe? Hell yes. Postage with Collectif is £5.50 if you’re in the UK. I tend to save up for a few bits and buy them altogether, or look out for the free postage events that they have every month or so. I’m praying this beauty won’t have sold out before then. (£67.50)

> Available from Collectif’s website in sizes 6 to 22

2. ‘Camilla’ Candy Stripes Skirt (COLLECTIF)

image of camilla skirt from collectif

This skirt just screams neapolitan ice cream to me. I’m a big fan of stripes, but the navy and pastel combo here (yes, that is navy and not black!) is really unique. I can see her matched with ruffly white peasant tops, or a vest top for days where you’re going to don a pair of sunnies and make a dash to the shops. The 97% cotton and 3% spandex is also screaming neapolitan ice cream – maybe even second helpings. And the best thing about it? It’s machine washable too, for when I drop that second helping of ice cream all down myself.  (£52.50)

> This skirt is available in sizes 4 to 22 from Collectif, but is currently sold out in some sizes

3. ‘Joyce’ Plain Swing Dress (COLLECTIF)

Joyce plain swing dress collectif image

If I asked you to describe a dress that looked like summer, could it look any more like summer than this? As you might already know, I am a member of the squeaky “It has pockets!?!” club, and these pockets look roomy enough for your wallet and your phone. I’m almost going off the pockets that are sewn (or should I say hidden?) in the side seam as I’ve nearly washed my debit card too many times to count now. It’s nice to have pockets where you can see them. I feel like you can match this piece of sunshine with a pair of wedges and a floppy straw hat, and you are BEACH READY. Or park ready. Or shop ready. Or wherever the hell you want to go, it’s your choice, ready. (£65)

>You can get your hands on Joyce by heading here – available in sizes 6 to 22

4. Hawaiian Circle Skirt (VIVIEN OF HOLLOWAY)

image of vivien of holloway hawaiian skirt

I was just having a peek at the Vivien of Holloway spring sale when I saw this tropical darling pop up. It’s a shame she isn’t discounted and she is very similar to the birds of paradise pattern (which I believe IS on sale!) – but on this one the colours are more muted and the pattern larger. It feels like the more serious skirt – those dusky red flowers and the dark background really contrast against the leafy greens. It feels like the kind of skirt I’d either dress down with cork heels and a white halter neck, or I’d wear a a long-sleeved black wrap top and a pair of heels – and make her fabulous print the absolute centre of attention. (£59)

The Hawaiian skirt is currently available from waist size 24 to 38


The London Marathon was a few weekends ago, so here’s the oldest entrant in the race crossing the finish line. And some happiness from the Happy Newspaper, because it’s nice to remember that there is some good in the world.

 

Still a long way to go but it’s a start 🌎💓 #issue8thehappynews

A post shared by The Happy News (@thehappynewspaper) on

 


 

Thank you for making it all the way to the end! You, my friend, are very special to me. I hope you’re having the loveliest of weeks.

Let me know if any of these items are on your wish list too, and if not, what is? And what are you listening to at the moment? (I feel like people used to ask that all the time when I was a teenager!) I love discovering new artists and albums so please spam me with all your music recommendations! The only thing I’m afraid I really can’t listen to is heavy metal, but I’m all ears to anything else.

image of my signature

Hot Tramp, I Love You So! (Review: Vixen by Micheline Pitt, Collectif and Noisy May)

As a kid, I grew up listening to the best kind of music: REM, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and my favourite rock-star chameleon, David Bowie. I think I might know every lyric to Life On Mars (and I would be happy to demonstrate this at your local karaoke bar). I think it’s worth pointing out to those who aren’t so familiar with Bowie’s works that I don’t really think I am a hot tramp, this is a quote from his song Rebel, Rebel. Because this slogan tee really made me think of the song, and I feel it compliments my new-to-me Micheline Pitt skirt gloriously.

Caz leaning against a wall in her outfit

Let’s talk about tees. I rarely see them worn within the vintage communities unless as part of a rockabilly look, usually in those cases with worn or muted colours, 50s patterns and southern-style typography. Most of the beautiful women I see on Instagram wear blouses or long-sleeved tops – or just ditch separates altogether and wear 50s dresses, which I think are far easier to find. However I’ve seen a few t-shirts being worn with vintage styling recently, and I thought the summery weather was the perfect excuse to try out a bit of a new look. And you know? I think I kind of love it. I know slogan t-shirts are quite popular at the moment, and they’re flying off the shelves at H&M, New Look, Topshop, Missguided – you know, all those mainstream stores that I don’t really delve into anymore because their sizing seems to be geared towards women with a very different figure from mine.

Caz looking down wearing her Rebel Noisy May t-shirt © Quirk and Folly

I’m not sure Noisy May really intended this t-shirt to be an homage to Bowie, but part of fashion isn’t how you see it, it’s how you feel in it. And wearing this, I feel like that chameleon rock star whose image changed so much over the years. It feels like a nice change. It doesn’t mean I’ll be binning all my vintage fashion (hell no) but it does mean I’ll be more comfortable experimenting a bit. And that’s what fashion is, really – it’s the adult version of going through the dressing up box and throwing on something that feels different, maybe reflects a part of you that you didn’t even know existed.

In terms of fit, Asos describe this t-shirt as ‘standard fit’ but I can see from the image that it is intended to be quite loose, it has dropped shoulders and a scoop neck which means that it’s comfortable to wear, and doesn’t cling. I did my hair and makeup before I put it on and had a moment of panic when I thought that I’d have to pull it over my freshly hair-sprayed hair and in the process not only ruin my fringe but also smear my foundation all over the collar. Imagine my relief when I realised that it was scooped enough to not be a problem at all. Phew!

Quirky lady sitting in a cafe drinking a cappuccino

The fabric is a nice soft jersey cotton and is thick enough that even though its white you can’t really see the underwear I’m wearing (my favourite peach-coloured satin bra from Bravissimo). The only qualm I have is that the word ‘Rebel’ isn’t always clear, if my hands are slightly in front of me all you can see is ‘EBEI’ which sounds like it could be the name of my cat. I imagine this is because of my enormous bust – I’m a 30G – which means that it’s pulling the fabric in a way to obscure the R and the L. Other than this, I think it’s a perfect fit. I’m wearing a size medium (listed as size 10 on Asos, but I think it’s more generously sized than they suggest) which is slightly loose on me even with my generous bust. The fabric doesn’t bunch in the back either, which is often an issue I come across – if I need to size up because of my cup size, it’s almost always too large around the band size (I’m only a 30!) which can mean I get lots and lots of fabric hanging out above my waist at the back. In this t-shirt, not a problem. If I believed in such things, I might say that it is a miracle.

Cropped image of Caz leaning against a wall in skirt and t-shirt © Quirk and Folly

The Vixen by Micheline Pitt skirt is one that has been on my wish list ever since it came out, and oh my goodness I am regretting waiting so long to get her! This is the Frisky print skirt, a black background with hot pink and white illustrations all over it. At a distance it looks very cutesy 1950s, a wide band with a generously gathered skirt, and I had a couple of people stop me to compliment my beautiful skirt. If you look closer at the designs though, they are all themed around the subject of BDSM. I adore how this skirt is both sweet and at further glance, a lot more interesting. I love the illustrations, and I think it’s a really fun piece to wear, and I think it teams up perfectly with my t-shirt.

I really struggled with choosing the perfect fit for me though. My waist at the moment is between 29 and 30 inches, which is a couple of inches more than it was last year. I’ve struggled a little bit with my mental health over the past 12 months, and that has really taken its toll on my body. I get into real purge and binge cycles and at the moment, I’m trying really hard to get into a better and healthier mindset. When I went to purchase this skirt – which I spotted on the Deadly Is The Female website for a ridiculously discounted price – I really dithered. Do I buy this skirt for the body I want, or the body I have? And what will the fit be like, will it be generous or will it be a bit snug? I did my research, and found this was on the snugger side but with fabric that relaxes over time, like many of Micheline’s designs. On the Deadly website they also helpfully have a little guide next to the item sizes with accurate measurements taken by the team, another thing I really love about them. I could opt for a skirt that was 28-29 inches at the waist (a Medium) or 30-31 inches at the waist (Large). Ideally, there would be the perfect 29-30” option for me.

Of course, life doesn’t always present us with the perfect option. In the end, I went for the Large, and I’m really glad I did. I’d actually put this at 30”, it has a little bit of room and definitely isn’t a squeeze to get into, which means I don’t have to suck my tummy in and pray as I do the zip up. It also means I can fit in a cheeky cake and not worry too much that I’ll be uncomfortable for the rest of the day. And if I do manage to get my health back under control and my waist magically shrinks again to its former 27-28 inches? Then I can wear a belt, or I can have it taken in. At least with the larger size, I have that option available.

Image of the Collectif Kitty Shoulder bag © Quirk & Folly

And where would i be without Ebei, my cat? I picked up the purrfect outfit accessory in the Collectif sale at Christmas. The body of the bag is a matte black PU leather and is has embroidered details on the front, including mesmerizing green/yellow eyes. I love the gold metal chain with an extra band of the reinforced PU leather fabric all along it, making it feel sturdier. And I adore the expression on his face – truly the Mona Lisa of cats!

The biggest drawback for this bag is that it’s quite tricky to get things in and out of it. The actual body of the bag only goes 2/3 up, so you have to navigate past the flap of fabric on either side that make up Ebei’s little head. It’s just about big enough to fit in your phone, your card, your keys, a small pair of sunglasses at a bit of a push – and maybe a lipstick and a mirror. Once you’ve got all those things in your bag though, do expect to be standing there for about five minutes in front of an increasingly frustrated cashier as you try to find your card in amongst all the other bits you’ve managed to successfully cram in.

Side view of the Collectif cat bag

If you’re just nipping out for a walk though, it’s a great lightweight little bag. A warning though – you might find yourself suddenly surrounded by children whom have surreptitiously sidled up next to you to secretly play with your bag. Try to pretend you haven’t noticed.

Image of Rebel t-shirt with Greenwich in the background © Quirk and Folly

Slogan t-shirt : Noisy May via Asos

Vixen Swing Skirt in Frisky Fetish print : Vixen by Micheline Pitt via Deadly Is The Female

Rose gold hooped earrings : Asos (old season)

Kitty Shoulder Bag : Collectif Clothing (sold out)

Petticoat: Malco Modes ‘Jennifer’

Shoes: George at Asda

May The Fourth Be With You

I’m a few days late to the Star Wars party, sorry about that. But let’s all pretend that it is actually Star Wars Day today, and that my t-shirt says ‘alliance’ underneath, yeah?

sassy woman holding a delicious cake

For anyone else in London or the South East, there seems to be a feeling of collective euphoria – Londoners are offering each other seats on the tube and in a demonstration of highly irregular behaviour are even going out of their way to help tourists. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a Bank Holiday so a delicious three-day weekend – and if that wasn’t enough, the weather is forecast as sunshine all weekend, a veery light breeze, and between 22 and 25 degrees celsius. I’m currently sitting under an arch in the old Royal Naval College in Greenwich listening to conservatoire students polishing their piano and violin pieces and bathing my toes in the sunlight.

As with many of us, I really struggle with winter. The days are so awfully short and the weak sunlight begins to fade from about 3pm. Trudging home in the dark, shivering as I lose the feeling in the ends of my fingers and close to tears because I forgot my gloves or someone shouted at me on the train for shoving them when it was the person behind me pushing me forward. People seem terser, meaner, and colder in all senses of the word. Winter feels like a million miles away as I’m sitting here in May, the sun bright and warm, in just a t-shirt. These moments where I look back on just a few months ago bring a strange sense of calm. I’m grateful when winter ends, and I’m grateful for these days when I remember just how lucky we are to have some days where the stars align and bring us the perfect day.

I hope you all manage to find something perfect in your long weekend. And if you don’t, or you’re not lucky enough to have a long weekend, I hope you remember how you feel now so when the perfect day does come along, you can be grateful to have experienced it.

(Also, I ate a cake today and there’s a chance I’m actually just feeling really happy because cake is bloody excellent, and this one had a little doughnut on it and it was all gloriously gluten-free. Or it’s the lovely weather and the fact winter has cleared off. Could be either.)

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For delicious gluten-free cakes in London, I can heartily recommend Ruby’s of London who have a stall at Greenwich Market at the weekends. They have plenty of vegan options (and gluten-ful options for you lucky ol’ wheat eaters out there!) – but get in early, as the cakes sell out fast!