Welcome to The Pale Peony!

Pull up a chair, make sure you're comfortable and enjoy. Whether you're a fashion freak, beauty babe, bookworm, animal enthusiast, foodie, adventure seeker or even a couch potato you will find something of interest here!
Everyone is welcome, feel free to check out my Twitter profile too :)

Friday, 22 February 2013

New 'Bettie Page' style bangs

Just a quick post to update on my hair.... Had about 8 inches of fringe chopped! I opted for the Bettie Page pin-up look, and I love it! It's still a copper colour but with serious root re growth, having them done again next week :)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Crochet crazy

I've recently got back into crochet, and here are a few of the things I've made.... :)




Saturday, 22 December 2012

Having a crafty Christmas!

I haven't been blogging much lately as I've recently got back into crafting, particularly textile work. I've been knitting, sewing and trying to create my own dress patterns. I've just created a Spoonflower account where you can create your own designs for fabrics, wallpapers and wall decals. I was browsing through the numerous designs available to purchase and thought, why not create my own? So I did!
I created an adorable fun fox print design which will be repeated across the fabric. You can view my design by clicking here

I was busy creating ferret bedding and sweet treats for a local Christmas Fayre and ferret show that took place a week or so ago (My little girl won best in show btw) I sold a few of my creations but I did have a few yummy cakes left to eat afterwards! 
Iced gingerbread biscuits 
Hammocks and blankets
Christmas pudding style cake pops (chocolate fudge)

I've been making quite a few presents this year, and I'm now rushing to get them done on time! I've knitted a hat for my dad (he needs a hat in this weather!) I'm also embroidering a cardi for mum and I'm hand sewing a quilted blanket for them too. 

The quilted blanket is made from stuffed squares rather than the traditional method, this makes it extra snug! 

In the new year I'm hopefully going to be working on a few projects such as dresses of my own design including fabric I've designed myself, a crochet bag, and possibly create some embroidered squares to start a very special quilt ;) 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Things are getting a bit spooky here for Halloween! Check out the pumpkins done by my husband and I, mine is the spooky tree and the creepy face is my other half's handiwork.

Tonight I did a practice run of a 'scary' ghost type look after deciding at the last minute that I wanted to dress up for the trick or treaters! So I raided my make-up bag (and my larder for the red food colouring) and here are the results....

Have a happy Halloween!

Monday, 1 October 2012

My 'kinda 40's' look...

At the moment I'm really into my traditional and country themed stuff, be it clothing, food or hobbies and I thought it was time I gave the hair a go too!
I was supposed to go to a 40's weekend with my other half back in September (but due to work I couldn't go in the end) hence why I originally looked into 40's hairstyles and make-up.
The 40's make-up look was very similar to my every day look, I was just missing the red lipstick. However, I've stopped wearing eyeliner altogether at the moment and have started wearing my Lush lip tint 'it started with a kiss' every day. Since I had vintage inspired makeup, I felt that my hair was sadly lacking (what's new?) so one morning I played around with some styles and was fairly pleased with the result, which you can see below...
Please note that there is an alarming amount of flyaways and general yuck going on as I currently do not own a single can of hairspray and didn't use any other products! The top picture was taken after I'd been out to get some material for a quilt which is why it looks even more windswept!

It's not the best that has ever been done but it was my first attempt at something like this and I never use grips so this was quite challenging! Realised just how pale I look in the bottom picture, and I can promise you I'm not a vampire! Honest! 

What I did was I split my hair into two sections at the back (you might be able to get away with just one section if you have shorter/finer hair than me) and armed myself with lots of bobby pins. You take one section and twist it slightly at the end before rolling upwards towards the head, keeping it low to the neck. This can be tricky but teasing the hair that will form the innermost part of the roll will help it roll up easier. Holding it in place you then need to slide your pins through either side of the 'sausage' shape until you are satisfied it is secure. Any stray hairs can be tucked in and pinned into place. 
You then need to do the same with the other section so that they meet in the middle and look like one long roll.
Previously I had separated my fringe from the rest of my hair, back-combed the top of it then twisted it up into a small slanted quiff pinned to one side. 
Finally give it a spritz with hairspray (I really should buy some) and finish with a flower if you like or a vintage slide. This took me about 5 minutes to complete-I'm not a fan of time consuming hair routines!

You can't see it in the photos but my hair is also a brilliant reddish copper colour :)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

My zoo animal encounters: Red Ruffed Lemurs

As I've briefly mentioned in another post, I volunteer at my local zoo part time. During my time there (about two months) I've worked with a range of animals including big cats, zebra, giraffes and birds. I'm going to talk about my favourite animals that I've encountered as the weeks go by, including the maned wolves who I absolutely love! This post as you can probably tell by the title is about red ruffed lemurs, who I get to work quite closely with. The information in these posts is purely facts gleaned from my time at the zoo.

They love sunning themselves while posing!

Red ruffed lemurs are much larger than the more commonly known ring tailed lemurs, more or less twice the size. They originate from northern Madagascar whereas the ring tailed lemurs come from southern Madagascar, this and the fact that most Lemur species don't mix explains why the red ruffs often see the ring tails off in our mixed enclosure! They are endangered in the wild.
Red ruffed lemurs have thick fur that is a beautiful russet colour along the back which can appear bleached in some individuals as in the second picture above. This is actually very useful as it helps to distinguish one lemur from the next! As you can see from the pictures they have black fur on their tails and undersides. The skin of their feet and snouts looks like the finest quality softest leather you can imagine. Some also have markings such as a white ring around the base of the tail.
Their long tails are simply for balance, and are not prehensile as most people presume. Some individuals have extremely large canines, though most have fangs no larger than would be expected and can normally just be seen protruding from the top lip. Despite their ferocious looking teeth they primarily eat fruit and foliage, bamboo being a favourite and grapes are a special treat.
They can be expected to live for around 20-25 years in captivity, as opposed to only 15-20 years in the wild.
They can have litters of between 1-4 young, twins are quite common although we have triplets at the zoo who are now 7 years old.
Red ruffed lemurs are probably the noisiest lemurs! People are often scared witless when they make their warning/alarm call and remark that they thought it was a recording! Visitors often mistakenly think that they're having a fight but as I said it's a sort of warning call, started by one lemur to notify the others of a threat and it is passed along until they're all screeching together!
I've also witnessed them making a sort of chucking noise whilst grooming each other and I'm guessing that this is a kind of lemur chatter for showing affection or possibly mild irritation if one of them didn't want to be groomed.
Their back feet are specially adapted for life amongst the tress and look rather like our hands would if we stuck our fingers together and the used them as one digit along with our thumb. This means that they can not only grip the branches with their hands but with their feet too! Not only do they have excellent feet for gripping and a long tail for balance but they can also leap like nobody's business! Seeing them chase off the ring tails is an great way to really begin to appreciate just how skilled they are. They can change direction and leap several feet in the air in the blink of an eye with no hesitation whatsoever, always landing on target whether it be a fence post or platform!

This is about all the info I have on them so far, I'll be sure to add more as I learn and I'll be writing about my other favourite animals too!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Nature comes to fashion in a BIG way this autumn!

As you know I LOVE nature and all creatures great and small....So why wouldn't I want animal and nature themed clothing and jewellery? Here's my pick of the cutest designs from three of my favourite high street retailers...

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Passion for fashion competition

I received an email yesterday inviting me to enter a competition currently being run by MoneySupermarket.com called Passion for fashion.
All you have to do is create five Autumn/winter outfits costing under £200 per outfit for five different occasions: Casual, outdoor, party, first date and office wear. Once you have your five outfits simply email your blog entry to the organisers by September 24th and keep your fingers crossed! There will  be 6 winners comprising of one overall winner who will win £1000 to spend on their outfits plus an ipad 3 and five winners who will win £200 to spend on their winning outfit. For more info on how you can enter check out their competition page here.

Here are my outfits! Hope you like them...


My outdoor look screams English countryside and is an outfit I'm dying to buy! 
The Paisley print leggings are a fresh twist on the Aztec prints we were seeing so much of at the beginning of the year and will take you through autumn and winter and then no doubt will be pulled out of the wardrobe the following year too! 
The boots are great value and again are in a style that is fashionable year in year out. The low heel is perfect for stomping around outdoors and won't soak up water like uggs! 
I absolutely LOVE the snuggle bunny jumper, it has oodles of charm-especially with the cute faux fur tail! I'm going to sound absolutely ancient now but I hate jumpers that sit high up around your kidney area and let cold draughts assault you. This however is long enough to reach your hips and so will not only keep draughts at bay but will tackle my other nemesis-people wearing leggings with short tops! Vpls and saggy bums are not a good look...
The coat is a little pricey but after saving on the boots and the hat I really think it's worth it. The fur collar is luxurious and will help keep you feeling snug whatever the weather. The jacket can be left undone in nice weather to show off that adorable jumper and then buttoned up if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
The bag is, again rather pricey, but you need something with a little luxe feel to it to prevent this look being too scruffy. 
The hat will keep both your head and ears warm, preventing any nasty earaches from our harsh British winds.


My party look is perfect for the winter season and will take you through the Christmas party season to the new year's parties with ease. 
The longer hemline of the dress will keep you warmer than the bottom hugging varieties on offer. It can also be worn to practically any occasion, be it a formal dinner, work party or just clubbing. You can easily throw a cream cardi over it to keep warm while travelling.
I added the faux fur collar to try and add a wintry touch. It also gives the outfit a very luxurious finish.
The gold sequin heels are the perfect colour for Christmas and new year's parties but can also be worn throughout the year. I've added a golden nail polish to match.
The bracelet is elegant and understated but is a steal at only a fiver. You can also wear it during the day as it isn't too fussy.
The bag ties in with the shoes and the dress as it is embellished with golden sequins and flowers in pastel shades.
Finally, the eyeshadow palette from e.l.f has 6 colours and they would all compliment this look perfectly. You could wear one alone or use two or three to create a 'smoky eye' effect.


My casual look is super comfy and relaxed. I've chosen a skirt and tights for warmth because as much as I love my trusty skinnies they're just not comfortable to lounge in. I would wear this outfit for lounging around the house, doing the Christmas shopping, toasting marshmallows over a fire and taking a walk surrounded by autumn leaves. Feeling wintry yet?
The bag is such a bargain and will no doubt take you through spring as well due to the floral detailing. 
The skater skirt is a flattering shape and length and the burgundy colour is reminiscent of crisp autumn days. You can also dress the skirt up by teaming with some killer heels and a cream sequin sleeveless blouse.
The cute little boots tie in with the skirt and look comfortable, practical and stylish! I wouldn't wear these out in heavy rain or snow however, as the material would most likely be ruined. If you did need to go out in bad weather a stylish pair of wellies would work equally well.
I've gone for a pair of navy tights to keep legs warm and protected from the elements plus they match the adorable sheep jumper.
The jumper is just too cute! It's so versatile and could be worn again and again with jeans, over dresses, over shirts/blouses, with shorts and leggings...
The scarf is light enough to be worn indoors but will also offer some protection from the wind when you venture outside.
The rings add that extra little bit of charm to the outfit, plus I love the colour of the vintage ring against the burgundy of the skirt.

Office wear.

My office look is mainly monochrome and gold with a pop of gorgeous amber. This look is comfortable, stylish and warm, so no worries about any pesky draughts coming in under the office doors!
The dress is a bargain at £32 instead of £42. I'd also wear this for a smart dinner and dress it down with flats for a smart casual look.
The boots do look grey in the picture but trust me they are black! £40 may seem like a lot, but compared to the £80 minimum you'd be likely to pay at high street shoe retailers you're saving yourself quite a bit of dosh. Don't forget that these can be worn with skinny jeans and an oversized batwing jumper for a sophisticated day time look or vamped up with leather look trousers/leggings and a rock inspired vest or Tshirt.
Tights are essential in winter as far as I'm concerned. No one wants to see my pasty goose pimpled legs in summer, let alone in winter! 
The cardigan is ideal for wearing in the office, you don't want something with huge trailing sleeves getting in the way! The sleeves on this can of course be rolled up slightly to show off the statement cuff bracelet. The amber colour of this is fantastic and adds subtle warmth and colour to an otherwise quite cold and clinical look.
The bag is great value, as expected of New Look. It's large enough to hold work paraphernalia, umbrella, keys, lunch and makeup, plus a book or magazine and an mp3 player if you use public transport for the commute. 

First date.

My first date look is really versatile. It would be just as wearable at the cinema, bowling alley, and posh restaurant as it would be to do some sightseeing, have a pub lunch or go for a walk in the park.
The lace dress with the peter pan collar is super girly but the deep navy stops it looking too immature. The three quarter length sleeves are great for autumn and winter layering. Also, this is either the same or a very similar dress to that worn by Holly Willoughby on celebrity juice on 6/9/12.
The blazer is in such a fun colour and can be worn with pretty much anything: a tea dress, a blouse and tailored black trousers, or a vintage Tshirt and skinny jeans. Considering how much use you can potentially get out of it I think the price is very reasonable.
The shoes are another bargain New Look find, I love the gold detail on the fronts. In my experience New Look shoes look just as good as high end shoes but for a fraction of the price and they can last a fair time too, I've had some of mine for years!
I'm so pleased I found this bag, It's smart without being over the top and considering it only costs £28 it doesn't look cheap in the slightest. It can be carried in the hand or worn on the shoulder and will have plenty of room for essentials such as purse, phone, umbrella, makeup, mirror, a book and a bottle of water.
The lip tint and nail polish from e.l.f are such great value, I mean how often can you pick up a nail polish for £2.50 these days? They have a range of fab colours too!
The fox ring is another favourite, I love animal jewellery (and clothing) as if you couldn't tell! You can trust Accessorize to bring you quirky, statement pieces at affordable prices and this is no exception.

There you have it, my five autumn/winter outfits! I think that each outfit is affordable and just as importantly all of the pieces from each outfit can easily be worn in a variety of different ways with different outfits. For example you can even mix and match the items from my five outfits to create new unique styles, such as taking the bunny jumper from the 'outdoor' outfit and wearing it over the dress from the 'office' outfit and adding the shoes from the 'first date' outfit. Similarly you could take the jumper and the shoes from the 'casual' outfit and wear with the dress from 'first date' and add the fur collar from 'party' as an extra touch. 
The possibilities are as endless as your imagination! You may think you are buying five outfits but you may in fact end up with 10 or more options!
I've tried to style each one with the British weather in mind and I hope you like my outfits as much as I do, just don't forget to take a brolly!

Please note that I do not own any pictures used in this blog. All pictures are obtained from the relevant sites for display and advertising purposes. 
Here are a list of links to the sites mentioned in this post..

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Lush lip scrubs, balms and tints

As you can see I have quite a few Lush lip products! Although my apple pie flavour one (which I think is called 'Lip squeak' or something similar) is missing at the moment! I've been using Lush lip balms for about 5 years or so now, and I've recently started using their lip tints and scrubs too. As you may know Lush specialise in 'fresh, handmade cosmetics'. Most of their products are Vegan and contain products that are ethically sourced. They try to use as many natural products as possible and are against animal testing (yay!) preferring to test their products on humans. Which is only fair and right as  far as I'm concerned, although my female ferret Lola has a thing about rummaging through my make-up bag pulling everything out, she doesn't actually need to wear any of it! But anyway that is getting onto another topic! 
I'm going to talk about three of my favourite lip products at the moment: 'Sweet lips' lip scrub, 'Whip stick' lip balm and 'It started with a kiss' lip tint. As much as I like the lip tints and the fact that they contain moisturising ingredients, I still find they cling to dry patches so I'm going to talk about the scrub and balm first as I use these to prepare my lips for tint. 

Sweet lips scrub.

Sweet lips is one of Lush's tasty lip scrubs. It has a gorgeous vanilla chocolate scent and the taste reminds me of walnut whips! It's a vegan product, and as you would expect is perfectly safe to lick off. You simple take a small finger full of the scented sugar and rub it into your lips, removing any flaky dry skin as you do so. Then you can simply lick the remainder off and it tastes great! As you can probably tell from the packaging compared to the ones on the Lush website or in-store, I've had mine for ages; a little really does go a long way! I probably shouldn't but I still use mine and it's perfectly fine. It currently retails at £5.25 which is very reasonable considering how long it lasts. It leaves your lips really smooth, ready for lip balm!

Whip stick lip balm

Whip stick has to be my all time favourite balm! With its chocolate orange flavour who wouldn't love it? I first had this balm when I was eighteen, I bought it again a couple of months ago and now use it every day. Not only does it contain real dark chocolate, sweet orange oil and cocoa absolute for flavour, but it also contains soothing oat milk, shea butter and honey. This one is vegetarian not vegan, but they do have vegan balms too. This works really fast to tackle sore, chapped and flaking lips. Mine were getting on my nerves as they were so bad, but as soon as I started using whip stick I noticed an improvement! This is definitely one for the 'Terry's chocolate orange' lover who wants to avoid a few calories! It's £5.50 but your money will be well spent, these balms last such a long time and they work wonders on your pout. 

It started with a kiss tint.

I'm still not entirely sure why, but I had to have this lip tint as soon as I saw it in 'The Lush Times'. Lush say 'Because one day your prince will come. Didn't every girl want to be Snow White, with those kissable red lips-well, now we all have the chance with this apple and cinnamon lip balm tint.' 
It does contain soothing and smoothing agents much like the balms, but I still found it would cling to dry patches; this is why I now use it over Whip stick. Although it looks very red in the tin it applies as more of a pinkish red, as you'll see in the photos below. The photos aren't a great representation of the colour, lighting will also play a big part. The best thing to do would be to try a tester in store and step outside with a mirror to see if you like the result. I wear mine fairly sheer, which also affects the colour, but you can build depth by layering. This is a tasty one too, with white chocolate, fresh red apple infusion and cinnamon. It helps soothe lips with extra virgin coconut oil, organic rose hip oil and shea butter. This is also £5.50 at the moment, and will probably last even longer than the balms, depending on how much you use obviously! Here is the balm on me...

So there you have it, three gorgeous lip products from Lush that are also the only lip products I use at the moment! To check out Lush's other products please visit their website.

Monday, 20 August 2012

My top book picks for fans of 'The Da Vinci code'

As a lover of 'The Da Vinci code' and a few of Dan Brown's other novels, here is my personal list of top book picks for other Dan Brown/history/thriller/mystery fans, from my own collection. I start with a snippet about The Da Vinci code for anyone that hasn't yet read it or seen the film (I would still suggest to read the novel even if you've seen the film as in my opinion the films are always second best to the trusty original books)

 The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown (First published in 2003) is an international best seller, having also been made into a major motion picture, and it's not hard to see why! It's a fast paced whirlwind of a thriller that is perfect for history and puzzle lovers.
I can't imagine that there are many that haven't either read the novel or seen the film, but if you haven't then here's something to whet your appetite...

'Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives a late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that reveals a mystery stretching deep into the vault of history.
But Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the pieces of the puzzle, a stunning historical truth will be lost forever...'

Firstly, my first recommendations would be Dan Brown's other novels, particularly 'Angels and demons' and 'The lost symbol'. I'm not going to feature them on here, but focus on work from other authors. If you want to check out more of Dan Brown's work then please visit his official website here, which I have to say is a fantastic little site! You select what book you want to view in detail from an ancient looking cabinet, and then you can read reviews, an excerpt, FAQ's plus lots more!

The Shakespeare secret by J.L Carrell (first published in 2007) has been praised by Publishers weekly as having 'Plot twists worthy of The Da Vinci code'. This is another Thriller that is almost impossible to put down. I read this quite a while ago but I loved every second of it. It contains true revelations regarding Shakespeare's life, and the ever present and intriguing theories surrounding him.

'A woman is left to die in a burning theatre. Another woman is drowned like Ophelia, skirts swirling in the water. A doctor has his throat slashed open on the steps of Washington's Capitol building.
A deadly serial killer is on the loose, modelling his sickening murders on Shakespeare's plays. But why is he killing? And how can he be stopped?'

There is also now another book entitled 'The Shakespeare curse' or otherwise known as 'Haunt me still' in the U.S which follows the main character from this story, which can be found on the author's website here.

Sticking with the 'secret' theme the Botticelli secret written by Marina Fiorato is a much loved read of mine and really started my interest in renaissance Italy. Be warned: it has explicit language and sexual themes. This isn't one for the easily offended! Once again this is a race against time story packed to the rafters with adventure, murder, revelations and mystery, with romance thrown in to the mix for good measure.
'In the colourful world of fifteenth-century Italy, Luciana Vetra is young and beautiful, a part time model and full time whore. When she is asked to pose as the goddess Flora for Sandro Botticelli's La Primavera, she is willing to oblige-until the artist abruptly sends her away without payment. Affronted she steals an unfinished version of the painting-only to find that someone is ready to kill her to get it back.
As friends and associates are murdered around her, Luciana turns to the one man who has never tried to exploit her beauty, Brother Guido della Torre, a novice at the monastery of Santa Croce. Fleeing Florence together, Luciana and Guido race through the nine great                
cities of renaissance Italy, desperately trying to decode the painting's secrets before their enemies stop them.'
By following this link to the author's website you can find out more, download the first chapter and buy the book.

Labyrinth is one of my favourite books that I have in my collection, and actually one of my favourite reads full stop. History fans with a sense of adventure will not be disappointed!
Published in 2005 it follows two women from very different times as they both try to uncover the secret of the 'true Grail'.

'July 1209: In Carcassone a seventeen year old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe...

July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the Labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she's disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past-her past- has been revealed.'
Here is a link to the author's US website and to her UK website

Lastly, I feel I have to add this book as it fits the theme so well. However, I have to confess that I haven't actually finished it. I found the writing style at times difficult to 'get into' and the main character rather unlike-able. But that's for you to judge, most of you will probably love it. I will pick it up again at a later date and try again, as I was intrigued by the idea that the novel brings to readers. Please don't judge on my opinion alone and my inability to see something through to the end!


A sacred brotherhood has sworn, generation after generation, to protect this terrifying truth from those who would use it to unleash doomsday upon mankind.

When the unthinkable happens, and the holy scroll is uncovered, the race is on to reveal the true meaning of the cryptic language. Only one man, Dr. Thomas Lourds, the world's foremost scholar of ancient languages, who we first met in the bestselling novel The Atlantis Code, can safely decipher this most deadly scripture.

Lourds soon becomes the bait in the most lethal manhunt -- knowing he must confront the true face of evil if the world is to be saved...'

So there you have it, my book picks for fans of historical thrillers such as 'The Da Vinci code'. I hope you enjoy them!