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!
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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..