Autumn to Winter: Flippin' heck, here we go again...

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The clocks went back this morning. As usual, here at the House of Sparkles, we received the customary phone call from Father, alerting us to the time change. 

Winter is very nearly upon us.

Once you get in to November, quite a few aspects of life become quite rubbish. It is dark when you get up, dark when you get home from work, the weather is no longer that delicious green-apple crisp, but becomes downright freezing and drizzle-laden. Oh yes, you do get to Christmas shop (online, of course - I'd rather eat my own eyes than brave Oxford Street or indeed any London shops as festive fever reaches boiling point), but this time of year has the potential to be expensive, stressful and miserable. So how best to stave off the early winter blues?

Well, you could invest in one of those lamp things that combats SAD, but they look awfully unsightly and seem quite creepy (it's the way they cast an eerie, Karloffian glow on the skin). You could, with copious amounts of time, money and inclination, bugger off to St. Kitts for the winter, returning swallowesque to us next spring (the downsides being that few of us can afford that luxury and you only end up coming back looking like Fendi's new signature handbag). You could give in to the misery and spend the winter in a foul mood, drinking too much booze and crying at adverts for British Telecom.

But before you drift down any of the above routes, I say stop! Stop, and consider how instead os suffering we could embrace the cold, the dark and the weather and turn your home in to a veritable wonderland of warmth and cosiness. Pile the sofa high with woolen blankets and cushions. Combine textures - mixing the softest of soft lambswool with velvet or printed silk with tweed for example. Give a tired, drab looking sofa a new lease of life with a snug Aran throw - also fabulous for curling up under watching 1930s horror movies and stuffing your face. This time of year is all about comfort and indulgence. Track down silk cushions to recline on - RE have some lovely silk memento cushions, printed with an homage to les cafes de Paris or a tribute to the good old London boozer.

Lighting your home correctly is incredibly important, especially at this time of year. I have never been a fan of "the big light" - the solar glare from the centre of one's ceiling that feels a little like DIY laser eye surgery when activated unexpectedly on a gloomy evening. Stick to lamps. Lamplight is not only infinitely more flattering, but makes almost any room seem instantly more homely. There are few things more divine than sitting in front of The Antiques Roadshow on a Sunday evening, drinking tea (from a proper cup and saucer, naturally), with the curtains drawn and the rain pattering of the windows, bathed in the warm, golden lamplight. Vintage lamps are always a delight (I have always had a certain guilty craving for Tiffany lamps, but cannot quite bring myself to buy one...) but they can be expensive. Think quirky - Laura Ashley have some Mad Hatter's Tea Party inspired pieces that are just gorgous - and, of course, an individual shade can instantly revive a plain boring lamp base. Lush Designs is my favourite for exciting lamp and lightshades. They have a fantastic range of other products too. And of course, this is the perfect time of year to whip out millions of tea lights. My Halloween pumpkin is sporting one right now, and the gentle of flicker of the flames are very soothing. I love tiny glass tealight holders in jewel colours, but if, like me, you share your home with a spiteful and inquisitive kitten, ensure you supervise lit candles at all times!

I am learning to be more green-fingered and my project for next year is the garden. However, there is no way on God's Earth I'm getting out there and digging stuff up in freezing November drizzle (I am a light-weight, yes.) so I have been endeavouring to bring the outside in. Make the most of those beautiful late Autumn colours. Golds, reds, browns, yellows, oranges... I have made an arrangement of yellowy peach roses, gold and hot-pink snap-dragons and those gorgeous bright orange Chinese Lantern plants. Next to them, of course, is the afore-mentioned pumpkin. We did have two, but one was overzealously carved and kind of collapsed. Poor thing. It looked like an old man without his teeth in by the end...

 Check out and for beautiful throws, blankets and cushion covers, for printed silk cushions and all sorts of other vintage fabulousness,, for vintage lighting, including some fantastic Art Deco pieces and www. for lovely stuff we love (yeah, it's terribly middle class and blah blah blah, but it's pretty! So there.).

So, don't worry about the onset of winter. Yes, it's crap when it's six in the morning and you have to get up and go to work, but at the very least you can come home in the evening and sink softly in to a world of comfort and relaxation. Put on your wooliest socks, make hot chocolate, stick your favourite film on and breathe... Aaaaaaaahhh. That's better, isn't it?

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