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I have to admit that in the last few years I’ve changed my approach to new collections. Instead of trawling every collection on Style.com and Vogue.com like a loony, patiently waiting for browsers to load and ads to play, I wait for the collections to come to me. I like to think of it kind of like fashion by osmosis, where I decide which collections I’ll be coveting and which details I’ll be making by what I see and feel in the months following fashion week. Every season there’s one or two things I see that make me want more more more, and I inevitably track down the collection and pin every image (remember my Balenciaga obsession last Summer? DIYs here and here). This season, Balmain was undoubtedly that collection for me, with pretty much every single design smacking me in the face with it’s DIY potential. Chain embellishments, fluted hems, oversized jewellery, it all seems so do-able!

DIY inspiration Balmain www.apairandasparediy.com

Baby pink and chain detail? You had me at hello!

DIY inspiration Balmain www.apairandasparediy.com

This denim fluted hem is to die for, definitely my kind of silhouette.

DIY inspiration Balmain www.apairandasparediy.com

Polkadots and checks? Ummm yes please!

DIY inspiration Balmain www.apairandasparediy.com

This collection was quite severe and 90s inspired but I know that parts of it would translate perfectly to a more minimalism wardrobe.

DIY inspiration Balmain www.apairandasparediy.com

 This outfit for example is kinda OTT but that’s definitely part of the appeal!

DIY inspiration Balmain www.apairandasparediy.com

Stay tuned for a few of my favourite DIYs inspired by this gorgeous collection!


If your New Year’s Resolution this year is to travel more, you’re not alone. But what if you don’t get to travel as much as you would like? Short of throwing off the shackles of life and and work and becoming a nomad backpacker (time to stock up on dreadlock wax and fisherman’s pants!) it’s likely that 2014 is going to be similar to most other years – so many dream destinations, so little time.

For me, that’s where novels come in. Like a lot of people, I often read fiction as a way of experiencing far off places, and feeling, for just for a fleeting moment, that I’m somewhere else entirely. In my opinion, the best books depict the place itself almost as a character, as much a part of the story as the heroic loner or the horny housewife (depending on what type of books you’re into…). And unlike characters, places rarely conform to stereotypes, which makes them even more interesting (to me, anyway).

Even if you do get to travel as much as you like, fiction is a great way to research and learn about a place you’re going, in a more meaningful way than a plain old wiki search (bearing in mind that fiction books aren’t always completely accurate, but to me that’s half the fun). With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite books about places, perfect fodder to prepare for any upcoming trips this year!

Travel: Books About Places

In case you’re wondering, this list also makes up some of my favourite novels (clearly I love a read that inspires a touch of wanderlust) which I’ve wanted to share for a while, but couldn’t decide the best way to do it – I know that recommending books can be tricky because everyone’s different. I’ve linked them all via Amazon so you can read the synopsis and download them, but most of them are a few years old so you can probably also find them in bookshops (or at the library). Enjoy!

London - Londoners* by Craig Taylor| High Fidelity by Nick Hornby| Brick Lane by Monica Ali

New YorkWhat I Loved by Siri Hustvendt | Just Kids by Patti Smith

BarcelonaThe Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

ParisPerfume* by Patrick Suskind

ScotlandTrainspotting by Irvine Welsh

IrelandAngela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

GreeceCorrelli’s Mandolin* by Louis de Bernieres | My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

TurkeyBirds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres

IndiaGod of Small Things by Arundhati Roy | The White Tiger* by Aravind Adiga

JapanMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden | Norwegian Wood by Hauki Murakami

Mexico –  The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

ColombiaOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

ChinaWild Swans by Jung Chang

Florida - Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen

Dominican RepublicThe Brief Wondorous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz

Newfoundland - The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

South AfricaRiotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe

CongoThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kindsolver

AustraliaCloudstreet* by Tim Winton | Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

This is obviously the tip of the iceberg when it comes to good books about places so please share any favourites (or even just your favourite books) in the comments, I’m always on the lookout for a new read. Here’s to lots of travel and reading in 2014!

* my particular favourites


What used to be more of a filler flower has, for me, become my go to floral around the house. Perfect fresh or dried, who doesn’t also love the fact that they’re generally situated at the front of the florist with all the other $2 bunches. And how good do they look in a simple glass vase or jar?

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Images: here, here, here, here,here.