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Darling Little Details: January 2023

White ironstone pitcher

Darlings! Ahh, I’m just so happy we are heading into February. Didn’t January feel a year long? It’s a month with such an odd feeling - the long dark days stretching out for what feels like forever before us…

Yet now we are coming to the end, I wonder where the days actually went? This month, despite being quiet, and quite the challenge with the usual blues, it was still thirty or so days full of lots of lovely things that I’d like to share with you.

We completed dry January, and it was a breeze!

If you’re familiar with British drinking culture, you’ll realise this can actually be quite hard to achieve for some people. Especially if, like us, your social life is very much centred around bar/restaurant culture, and having lots of friends who also love a tipple.

My husband and I have had “dry spells” here and there over the years. The longest one was memorable as it was just after we were saved, and the joy of getting to know all about our new faith definitely filled our cups! Plus we were trying to be good, and “holy”. All the typical things you think are expected of you in order to be a new creation. Yet, you know how it is, baby Christians settle back into the throes of life, you realise you are saved by His grace alone, not by your doing, and then parties, life, and dates happen just as they did before. The odd glass of wine becomes a bottle shared, and before you know it, you slip into a habit of having that Friday glass of wine (or two, or three) to wind down.

Socialising and drinking alcohol also go hand-in-hand here in England, and some people look at you like you have two heads if you refuse a drink if you’re not pregnant, ill, or in recovery.

It’s just not really “a thing” to be sober without a good reason.

This year we decided to do “dry January”. We managed it, the world didn’t implode, and we actually feel great! There were two moments throughout the whole month that I can recall thinking “oooh it’d be nice to have a glass of wine right now”, but that soon faded. Sparkling water (in a wine glass) has been the go-to when dining out, and both of us know with clarity that 0% alcohol gives you a headache worse than the real stuff. Strange, but true.

I’ve noticed a few positive benefits of not drinking this month. My eyes are brighter, sleep has much improved, and I’ve dropped a dress size without trying, which is a miracle really, seeing as cakes and biscuits became my crux instead… Something perhaps to work on next(!?)

The best thing is, I don’t really miss wine at all, which is something I never thought I’d say! That being said, we’ve not been faced with a party or celebration scenario, so I’m not claiming total sobriety just yet, but I’ll definitely see if I can extend this new habit into February… One day at a time.

Another bonus is that the money can be better spent on flowers now! Win win all around.
Little pleasuresPetals over Pinot!---

A rediscovery of Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

When coming home from Paris in December, our flight was a little delayed so I had a look in the duty free shop and (aside from marvelling at a couple of girls who spent over £1500 each on beauty products in the shop, I kid you not), I picked up some much lauded Clarins Beauty Flash Balm.
Clarins Beauty Flash BalmI used to use this back in my early 20’s when I didn’t really need it, let’s be honest, but now in my middling-to-late 30s, my skin could do with a little bit of help in the radiance and “youthful glow” department. I forgot how much I love this stuff!---

Realising Laura Ashley is a kindred spirit.

It’s no secret that I have a deep and profound love for their ‘80s does 50s’ dresses (of which I have a sizeable collection). Her interiors have always been my style, and I doubted that I could love the Laura Ashley brand more than I already did, but reading her biography, the woman herself is now at the top of my girl-crush list.
Laura Ashley biographyThis book is so enjoyable. It details Laura’s early years and how that time and its influences shaped the style of her products, and the incredible brand she built with her husband Bernard. I’m so sad about its demise. It proves that once the true visionary is lost, things can continue on for a little while but will ultimately lose its heartbeat in the end.

Could the same be said for a homemaker and her domain?

Laura was a proper little romantic homemaker, affected deeply by her aesthetic surroundings (in the positive and negative - same Laura! Same). They also eventually enjoyed a really simple but beautiful cottagecore life with no greater ambition really than to live a lovely life in the country. Her relationship with her husband is also something I relate to and resonate with a lot. Seeing as she is gone, I wouldn’t want to claim so without her permission, but I have strong suspicions that Laura was a bit of a Trad Wife!

I was also astounded to learn that Anne Sebba, the author of this book, happens to be a neighbour of one of my really good friends. I asked her to pass on my thanks for writing such a great biography. It’s one I’ll treasure.

The book is out of print now, but you can find secondhand copies on Amazon like I did, or try ebay.  If your interests and tastes are in any way similar to mine, you’ll love it too.---

Thrifting white ironstone

More china Alena? Well, yes darling, I know I have a problem, I am not ashamed…

Mr Darling and I spotted a gorgeous antique white French pitcher in the window of one of my favourite interiors shops, Domestic Science, and while I didn’t have the budget for that particular one (over £140!!), I placed one like it on my wish list, and a few weeks later, one serendipitously found its way to me in the same shop, at a much more reasonable price!

Thus, an addiction of finding vintage and antique white ironstone has started. It goes so well with my beautiful collection of Berylware. My thrifted finds lately wouldn’t be out of place in a Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron movie, they have a touch of 90s about them, and I think I’m having a bit of a love affair at the moment with white and peach tones.

I made this reel on Instagram to share my latest finds in more detail… so fun! The pitcher was the priciest item at £35, but the rest came in at under £5 total!
Collecting antique ironstoneThe platter has a EIIR 1953 mark!---

Nostalgic “nursery food” is happy food

I have such fond memories of dippy eggs and soldiers as a child, but much like learning to French Braid, cooking them was something that, until now, I had failed to master.

My friend Natalie gave me some tips (gently boil room temperature eggs for exactly 3 minutes 10 seconds for a set white and really runny yolk, in case you were wondering), and now Arlo and I have been enjoying them most weekends using the egg cups from my childhood, and mine is one I painted at the Emma Bridgewater Factory.Dippy boiled eggs and soldiersMr Darling has yet to join us, I think he considers himself a little too grown up for them, but nursery food is the best food is it not!?---

New weekend morning rituals

With January being so cold, and so quiet, weekend mornings are very slow living at the moment and I just love it! Now Arlo is back to school, it’s heaven on the weekends to wake up when we’re ready to, descend the stairs in lovely PJs with full-on bedhead, make a pot of coffee and pour the orange juice. Arlo will usually walk up to the shop for freshly baked croissants too, if we aren’t having crumpets. I’d like to say we do something really traditional and quaint like reading the papers, but they’re full of negativity and gossip, so it’s mostly me with my nose in a book, Arlo catching Pokémon on his iPad, and Mr Darling watching Alan Titchmarsh, or a show about restoring cars…

It’s a charming little coffee table breakfast date for just the three of us, and has fast become a favourite thing.
Weekend rituals and slow livingCroissants, Coffee, Comfort & Joy

Little family traditions like this are what I hope we’ll all remember in years to come. A weekend “petit plaisir” for the Pettitts. I can’t wait to enjoy it in the garden on our bistro set in the morning sun (once the warmer weather decides to arrive).

Happy February beginnings my friends, I hope your coming month is full of loveliness.

Alena x

It's all happy here...

I hope you’re enjoying these lighthearted posts. It can be quite draining to write solely “to advocate” and fight my/our corner week after week, so I hope these little happy snippets are doing just as good a job? A demonstration, if you will, that life as a housewife isn’t dull, it’s also full of sunshine and positivity if you so choose. It’s all about mindset.

I have been invited on three fabulous podcasts which I’ll be recording next month, so I’ll mail those out to you once they’re live. Can’t wait to share who they’re with! :)

As ever, thank you to the wonderful patrons of The Darling Academy! If you like our values and found this post useful or inspiring, would you kindly consider supporting the blog.


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