I dream of West Elm!!!

Well hello there everyone! And Welcome back to Holly of All Trades!

This morning I was sitting in my favourite room in my house … my dining room, and it got me thinking about (of all the things) my Aunty Daisy! When I was little I used to visit my Aunty daisy who had the most beautiful, magazine cover worthy house. The pièce de résistance of the house was the gorgeous formal dining room!

It had a table so glossy you could see your reflection in it and perfectly fitted monogramed chair covers and ALWAYS had a huge bowl overflowing with freshly cut roses in the centre of the table. This room was serious grown up goals! It wasn’t necessarily the aesthetic of the room but more the idea of this one room in the house that was especially for entertaining and having fancy grown up dinner parties that I was smitten with!

So when My lovely husband and I moved into our home a dining room was at the top of my list of must have rooms! I set straight to work planning my dream dining room and settled on a industrial feeling farmers kitchen vibe with lots of raw wood, copper, iron, bronze, gold and just a touch of marble for good measure. I set out sourcing the furniture of my dreams only to realise … fancy dining rooms are esspensive yo! Having just moved from a flat into a house our budget was stretched to the limit just purchasing the necessities; like a sofa, fridge etc, So my fancy dining room had to wait!

Slowly but surely though I’ve saved up money here and there and purchased and DIY’d items that I’m really happy with. My dream dining room still, however, has a long way to go! So when I recently found out that Westelm.co.uk  were holding a competition for Blogtacular attendees where I could win the stuff to finally finish my dream dining room I thought this is my chance and I jumped at the opportunity. With their enormous range of beautiful and unique furniture and home accessories to chose from I’ve ummmm’d and ahhh’d for weeks trying to decide what items I would choose for my dream dining room! But after major deliberation and a particularly hard narrowing down process (I wanted everything!!!!) I have come up with what I think is my dream dining room! Check out my vision boards below!

To start off with I would replace my really uncomfortable hand-me-down bistro chairs with some comfy mismatched (but still similar) tan leather chairs. Ideally 3 on each side of the table and 1 at each head of the table (I have a lot of friends! What can I say?)

Then I want plants plants plants plants plants! I want it to look like a bit of a jungle in there! And what better way to display your plants than in these gorgeous coppery gold plant stands!

I would then get rid of my old side table (which was actually a kitchen island in my old house) and replace it  with this gorgeous marble topped sideboard. I love that the dark wood and the brass handles and legs compliment the rest of the room beautifully.

I’d also add just a few marble bits and pieces to carry the marble theme through the room. Incidentally if you want to see how I made the wall art above the side table then click here to watch a video on how I turned my favourite book quotes into easy wall art!

I’d then add some cool little gold tone nic-naks to the windowsill so that it’s full of interesting little oddities, and I’d top off the windows with these really cool wood and brass curtain rods. I can’t decide on what curtains would look good. What do you think?

Of course no “grown up” dining room is complete without a stocked up bar cart! So I’d have to throw one of those in there too!

Last but certainly not least I would stock up my table with some awesome linen, glassware, crockery, cutlery, serve ware and centrepieces! Because this room is meant to be used! Like I said before, it wasn’t the room I was so in love with in my Aunt Daisy’s house, it was the idea behind the room. A beautiful yet fully functional space where family and friends can come together to share special memories and make more special memories. This room for me represents the love and happiness that comes from being surrounded by those people in your life that you can’t do without!

If you would like to check out any of the products I’ve used above then head on over to westelm.co.uk and check them out for yourself, along with countless more beautiful pieces! Happy home making!

Une préoccupation Parisien … A Parisian preoccupation

The people that know me well will know that I am obsessed with Paris. It’s one of my absolute favourite cities in the world! I fist visited with my mother when I was 8 and being the strange child I was decided that when I grew up I was going to move to Paris. I was going to pack up my Mom (I wasn’t going to leave her behind!), go to art school, become a famous artist but, most importantly, eat a lot of crepes, cheese and baguettes while wearing a red beret! I was in love!

There is something special about Paris that’s kind of indescribable. To me you can feel the french passion for life, love, art and food everywhere you go. The simple act of eating gets turned into a drawn out occasion where you learn to really savour every mouthful of food and gulp of wine. The important things are prioritised and the frivolous things people don’t care about. It’s a way of life I could get behind! There is beauty everywhere. From the children sailing model boats in the lake of the Tulleries to the space invader mosaic street art pasted high on grubby walls.

Then there’s the art. Oh the Art! The Musee d’Orsay, The Centre Pompidou, The Musee de l’Orangerie, The Musee de Rodin … the list of awe inspiring museums is never ending! If I get started on the art this will be the longest blog post in the history of the world! But just know … the feeling of standing in front of a masterpiece you’ve admired in books your whole life is so so special. If you love art Paris is for you!

It wouldn’t be fair of me to say only amazing things about Paris without letting you in on the slightly seedier side of things. Pickpockets are absolutely rife. You literally can’t walk around a tourist sight without being approached by more than one person trying to distract you so that their friend can pick your pockets. It has never happened to me but thats because I was warned ahead of time and I’m very aware of what is happening around me. Don’t EVER keep anything of value in your pockets and either wear a bag with a strap that goes across your body to discourage bag snatchers or a backpack. If anyone approaches you with a piece of paper asking you to sign it or with a loop of string and tells you to put your finger into the string just say no, very firmly and walk away. These are the aforementioned people trying to distract you. The metro, along with being very dirty and shabby (and smelly) is also rife with pickpockets.

All of this however is not a problem AT ALL if you are just aware of your surroundings. Like any major capital city in the world there are a few opportunists who give a place a bad reputation. The metro, despite being smelly, is a great and inexpensive way to travel around Paris so don’t be put off!

In a rather serendipitous sort of way I get to go to Paris four times a year as my husband has to travel there for work. Usually I stroll around museums, or sit on a bench next to the Seine and draw for the day while he’s at work, then we head home. But this trip is different! We are staying in Paris a full 5 days after my husbands business trip, followed by another 5 days in the South of France. I’m so excited to share our holiday with you! Over the next few days I’ll be doing outfits of the day (because you HAVE to look fabulous when in Paris … it’s kind of the law!) I’ll also let you know what we get up to, my favourite Parisian restaurants, some travel tips and any other inspiration that strikes me!

Until then, au revoir, mon ami!


The Eifel Tower by night

The Eifel Tower by night

Hens having tea … and maybe a bit of fizz!

For my first blog post I’m going to tell you all about what I have been obsessing over the past few months. One of my best friends Hen Party!

I was tasked earlier on in the year with the organisation of this lovely event! In order to set the scene for this post you need to understand my friend. She’s a classy lady! On her strict instructions there was to be no willies (blow up, in the form of straws or otherwise … if you get my meaning!), pink feather boa’s, cowboy hats or customised tshirts! This was to be a classy affair and so the preparation began!

Being from South Africa originally, I explained to my friend the difference between an english Hen Party and what is, in South Africa, known as a kitchen tea. A Kitchen Tea starts as a very civilised affair with tea, cakes, presents and – naturally – gossip! All the ladies invited to the wedding are similarly invited to the kitchen tea and all the old dears ooh and ahh over the bride (usually forced to wear some sort of silly outfit) while she is showered with gifts and plied with copious amounts of bubbles! My friend LOVED the idea but wanted to keep it small with just a group of her VIP’s. From this point on she didn’t want to know anything more. The rest was to be a surprise!!

This is a summary of what we did on our perfect Hen day. I hope you enjoy!

The brides lovely mother, Aunt and Gran came along on the morning of the party to help me set up, along with my dashing husband Harry (we needed someone to reach the high shelves , plus he’s pretty easy on the eye) Here’s a picture of him kissing a dolphin!


Awwwww!!! Just to clarify Harry’s the one on the left :0)

We got stuck straight in with the brides family in the kitchen sorting out the food, Harry in the garden setting up and me flittering around supervising with about 10 checklists (I LOVE CHECKLISTS!) A really good friend of ours owns a venue dressing company and was therefore generous enough to lend us some giant white parasols to put out in the garden incase of rain, we do live in England after all! I decorated the parasols with paper lanterns and some sweet floral bunting I bought on ebay.

I cleaned up some wine bottles, tied string around the necks and hung them along the fence with a couple of flowers in each. Cheap, but more importantly, beautiful way to decorate


Wine Bottle vases

The Garden All ready to go

The Garden All ready to go

The day started off with some savoury snacks. I did a bruchette bar (inspired by Pinterest), Caprese salad cocktail sticks (also inspired by pinterest), finger sandwiches and a few other bits and pieces.

The bride to be’s husband works in a cocktail bar so he whipped us up a delicious punch (I have no idea what was in it but it was DELICIOUS and pink so it was all good in my books!) I served them in different shaped jam jars that I have been collecting for months and then soaked the labels off very easily (thanks to this amazingly useful pinterest article … are we starting to see a recurring theme here? Yes, pinterest is yet another of my obsessions) We also had a Bellini bar, where I set out three types of fruit juice and three types of fresh fruit next to the fizz. People then added what they wanted to their champagne and voila! A deliciously light and fresh cocktail! There was obviously tea and coffee too but lets face it, they didn’t get as much attention!

The Bellini bar!

The Bellini bar!


After food and a good amount of chat we got started with a few silly but fun games. The first of the games we played was The toilet paper wedding dress game. I split the guests up into groups of 3 and gave each person s roll of toilet paper. They were then given 10 minutes to design and make a wedding dress entirely out of toilet paper on one of the team members. This was hilarious with loads of the ladies getting really involved and hysterically competitive. At the end I judged the winner and handed out cups and medals, as well as everyone getting to choose a prize from the prize box which I had made by buying pretty little things like nail polishes, chocolates, some fancy soap and tea. Such a fun game!


The Bride and her mother in their resplendent gowns!


Next we played a questions game. For this game I sneakily met up with the groom and asked him a few questions about himself, the bride and their relationship and then videoed him answering the questions. My lovely husband then edited all the answers into a lovely little film. On the day of the party I then asked the bride each question. After she had answered each question I would play back the grooms answer. If their answers matched we moved onto the next question, if they didn’t she would have to chew a piece of bubblegum for every answer she got wrong. I made some questions deliberately hard so that half way through the game she had a mouthful of gum and her trying to answer the questions was getting as funny as the grooms answers! A great bit of fun!

The final game we played was the “Design a wedding dress” game. Here I printed off pieces of paper with a cut out of the brides face on each one and the guests had to design her a wedding dress. There was no brief of what it had to be so we had some outrageous, some elegant and some downright hilarious!!! The bride then chose her 3 favourites and they also got prizes.

Design a dress for the Bride

Design a dress for the Bride


Finally it was time for a bit of tea and cake. I baked a carrot cake, a lemon drizzle cake (the brides favourite), some caramel stuffed chocolate cupcakes, granola shots with greek yoghurt and raspberry mint and lime sauce and the crowning glory, scones with jam and cream!

The afternoon tea table

The afternoon tea table


I also set up a Photo Booth in the shed which comprised of my old macbook being wired up to a TV and a webcam with Photo Booth running. I put out loads of funny hats and wigs and it was great fun.

Photo Booth Fun

Photo Booth Fun


I also made Hen Party survival kit party favours. These contained everything a girl would need to survive the day and more importantly the day after! The kits contained tissues, tic tacs, a few sweets, plasters, hair pins, hair bands, lip balm, bubbles, a candy necklace, a “Team Hen Party Bracelet” and most importantly some ginger tea and paracetamol for fuzzy heads and achey tummys the day after!

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After a fun afternoon we all headed upstairs and got changed into some party clothes. We went for dinner at the brides favourite restaurant, followed by champagne at one of her favourite bars and then we went dancing until 5 in the morning when our feet were so sore we could barely walk. It was a great day!

Here’s some more pictures from our day!

Thanks for reading about my obsession!


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