Saturday, 31 August 2013

Monthly Favourites: August

Bonjour,

It's the end of August and I only have two days of holiday left - where did the summer go?! It seems only yesterday I was looking forward to over two months of nothingness, and now school is just around the corner.

Anyway it's time for my first monthly favourites post! I planned to do this at the end of July, but I was poorly and away on holiday so it didn't really work out. The idea is that I ramble on about a few thing I've been loving this month, which can include anything from clothes and accessories to books and TV shows. In the style of YouTubers such as Zoella and dailygrace, here's my monthly favourites for August:

Historical fiction
I've always loved historical fiction, but I've never been quite so into it as I was during August. I reread most of my collection of this genre, which is rapidly expanding to include more adult books and less YA fiction, and I enjoyed it all immensely. I love both reading and history with a passion, so historical fiction is ideal for me! My favourite read of the month was definitely The Rose of Sebastopol, by Katharine McMahon.I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a dose of Victorian life, or is particularly interested in Florence Nightingale and nursing.

Mini Review:
Set in 1854, The Rose of Sebastopol follows the main character Mariella Lingwood and her friendship with her cousin Rosa Barr, as Rosa follows her dream of becoming a nurse and travels to the Russian Crimea to work on the front line. When Rosa vanishes without a trace, leaving only a trail of whispered rumour and scandal behind her, Mariella travels to the heart of the conflict by request of her injured doctor fiancé, in her quest to uncover her cousin's secrets, while navigating the dangerous landscape of the ravaged Crimea. 




Polyvore
I've been on Polyvore for over two years now, but this past month I've acquired a ton of followers (I hit 1000 not too long ago!) and received a lot of likes on my sets. I'm so happy, as I really enjoy putting together sets and collections and it's something that takes up a lot of my time.



Death in Paradise
I don't watch a whole lot of TV (mostly due to the fact that the only two channels we get in English are BBC1 and BBC2), but recently I've been loving the series Death in Paradise, on BBC1. I love crime fiction, and the series is described as a crime comedy-drama. I haven't seen a whole lot of episodes, but I love the characters, the setting, and above all the highly clever plots which I rarely see coming. So far I've only watched repeats of past series, but I'm super excited there's a new season airing next January!



Primark sandals
I spent over a week of August in Spain, and the rest back home where although it wasn't baking hot, summer gear was definitely required. When it comes to summery footwear, I do have quite a lot of ballerina pumps and flipflops, but by far my favourite thing to wear on a walk down to the beach or out to dinner are these sandals I bought a couple of years ago from Primark - they were £6 and have lasted remarkably well for that kind of money. I wear them with everything, from floaty maxi skirts to leggings or denim shorts.


Acid wash denim studded shorts
Speaking of denim shorts: one item of clothing I've found myself wearing a lot this summer are my acid wash shorts from Primark. These were about £12, if I remember correctly, and I got them from Primark for the same reason I buy so many things there: I loved the look of them, but I wasn't sure whether I would enough use out of them to spend a lot of money on them in another shop. But it turns out these were a fantastic purchase, as I've been wearing them a lot this summer! Being denim, they aren't great for wearing in very hot weather, but they're perfect for when the temperature is around 20-25 degrees. They have a lovely pale acid wash effect, with slightly lethal-looking metal studs on one half of the fabric.


Vlogs
Now you may or may not know that I watch a lot of YouTubers. Some of my favourites include Zoella, SprinkleofGlitter, dailygrace, Emma Blackery, danisnotonfire, RoseEllenDix and Tanya Burr - I just love watching the videos they put together, and I really appreciate that so many wonderful people spend their time providing free internet content for the likes of you and I. But something I've found myself getting really into in the past month or so is watching vlogs. Thanks to YouTube events such as Vidcon, there has been no shortage of vlogs of late, and I've been loving watching the little details from people's lives as well as the main videos they make.

Marina & the Diamonds
It's no secret that I love Marina! This month I had quite an obsession with her music, and I spent most of the time sitting at my computer with her album Electra Heart on repeat.

And that's it! Probably a kind of boring/pointless set of favourites for this month, but I'll work on it for September, okay?

x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Film Review: Lolita

Bonjour,

At the weekend I went to one of my best friends' house for shopping, hanging out and a sleepover, and it was amazing and wonderful and I enjoyed myself a lot. While I was there we watched the film Lolita, which I've been wanting to see for oh-so-long, and I was thrilled to finally see it - so much so that I've decided to write a review of it, in a similar style to my book reviews.


The Basics
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Producer: James B. Harris
Starring: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon, Peter Sellers
Country: US/UK
Release date: June 13th, 1962

Why I Saw It
A few months ago I read the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and fell into a twisted sort of obsession with the unlikely love story it portrays. Lolita is not an easy book or film to write about, but I'll try to sum up the plot in a few lines: the story is centred around a middle-aged man, Humbert Humbert, who becomes obsessed with 12-year-old Dolores Haze, the daughter of the woman at whose house he is lodging. After marrying her mother to get closer to Dolores (who is also called Dolly, Lo, and Lolita in the novel) and her mother's accidental death, Humbert ends up taking custody of Lolita.

I originally intended to watch the 1997 version of Lolita, but after a happy mistake at the DVD rental store we ended up with the 1962 version, which was probably a lot more tame and low-key. I don't regret seeing the early version, however I'm still keen to watch the later version if I ever find it.


What I Thought
As I said, I'd wanted to see Lolita for quite a while, long before I read the book, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. Although at first I was a bit wary of it being in black and white, before long it was barely noticeable and I really don't think it would have been the same in colour. The film started off pretty slow and unclear as to what was happening, and even having read the book before I wasn't quite sure what was going on - but the story soon picked up and from then on I thoroughly enjoyed it.


I haven't seen that many old films, but I think Lolita was quite typical of the 60s era in the acting and screenplay. The background music just screamed 'old movie', and the way the scenes ran into each other and told the story definitely belonged to a bygone age. 



In conclusion, I enjoyed Lolita a lot - there was just something about the authentic vintage feel that I loved, in addition to the storyline, obviously. I would recommend the film to anyone who has heard of Lolita or likes slightly risqué plot concepts.

Rating
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

x

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Back to School Advice

Bonjour,

If, like me, you're in the last week or so before you go back to school after the summer holidays, you'll know exactly how horrible and disheartening the prospect of school starting up again is. Going from the lazy routine of getting up whenever you like, doing whatever you like whenever you like, and going to bed whenever you like, getting back into the school routine is always a chore. Here are some hints and tips for how to make your transition back into term time as painless as possible:


1. Get organised
Needless to say, organisation is everything. If you have to buy your own school books, make sure you have everything off the list at least a week before school starts, so you'll have time for them to arrive if you're ordering online. Sort out any stacks of books or papers that might be hanging around from the last school year, and either recycle them or put them in labelled boxes to store. Make sure your gym kit is washed, and that any other supplies you need are ready to go.

2. Get more sleep
When it comes to sleeping during the holidays I'm not the worst culprit by far, but my summer sleep routine is very different from during school time. I tend to wake up around 9am during the holidays, whereas I need to be up by 6:45am for school - my plan for the last week of holidays before school is to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day, which will hopefully help prepare me for the shock of being conscious before 7am. The same thing applies at night: try and go to sleep a bit earlier each day. I rarely get to sleep before 2am during the summer, so my ultimate aim is to be out before midnight.

3. Deal with stress/apprehension
It's okay to be nervous about going back to school, whether you're going back at the same place with people you know, starting at a totally new school in another town or country, or going to high school/secondary school for the first time. Remember it's highly likely there will be other new people too, and also that the school will probably have a tour day so you can have a look around before the actual first day. I've been at the same school for ten years now, so I know the place like the back of my hand and I have tons of wonderful friends, but every year I get butterflies on the night before the first day back - what if I get this or that teacher, who I really don't like? What if I'm in a class with no one I know? What if this turns out to be a terrible year? For me this really only lasts up until the first lesson or so, when I realise I feel totally comfortable to be back, especially as there's no homework or tests to study for yet. If you're at a new school it might take a few weeks to get used to it, but I guarantee before long you'll feel at home and make new friends.

4. Plan ahead
If you're feeling stressed out by the idea of school, it will help a lot not to be rushing and panicking on the first day back. You want to be calm and put together, not running around looking for things or doing last-minute outfit changes. Shower the night before so you have more time in the morning, and pack your bag. Make sure you have everything you need - for me that's a purse with money, my caf card and last year's school exit card; my pencil case with new pens and pencils; a bottle of water; an umbrella; tissues etc etc. Unless you know which subjects you'll have on your first day, there's no need to take in schoolbooks on the first day. However, I always have a stack of books and exercise books about a mile high, so I tend to take in a few every day for the first week, and put them in my locker, rather than carrying the whole pile in all at once.

5. Decide on an outfit
Another thing to do the night before is plan what you're going to wear - if you wear school uniform this is a no-brainer, but I know only too well the crucial decision of deciding your outfit, weighing up the pros and cons of each item of clothing and finally running out of time and settling on any old thing. I'd say keep it low-key and not too anything, if that makes sense: don't try too hard, but make an effort to look presentable, as you want to make a decent first impression and your clothes can say a lot about you. Unless you're sure of the impression you want to give off on the first day, stick to jeans, plimsolls or Converse, a nice top and a cardigan (depending on the weather of course - I'm planning a separate 'First Day Back Outfits' post soon). Make a note of what other people tend to wear, but don't change yourself and your style just to blend in. If your school has any rules on what you can and can't wear (e.g. no makeup, no heels, no shorts etc), make sure you're aware of them and that you dress appropriately - I'm lucky that my school has no rules whatsoever!

6. On the morning of the first day
Wake up as early as you can bear, to allow for oversleeping and anything you haven't already anticipated the night before. Eat a decent breakfast (cereal, toast, fruit - whatever you need to give your brain a kick start and keep you going till lunchtime). Make sure you leave some extra time for getting to school - if you're going to a new school, practice the route you'll take beforehand so you don't get lost. If you take public transport allow time for delays, and if you go on a school bus be aware that on the first day the routine isn't quite so defined, so the bus isn't likely to be on time - get to the stop extra early just in case.

And that concludes my back to school advice! I hope it was marginally useful to you, and I wish everybody good luck for the new school year.

x

Quick Haul

Bonjour,

So I know I haven't posted in a short while, but I was at my friend's house at the weekend and this week I've started a summer job which is basically childminding, but it means most of my afternoon is gone and I was too tired to post afterwards.

Anyway, I went shopping at the weekend and here's what I bought:

 Black Woolly Cardigan from New Look, €24.99

Excuse the weird lighting on this picture, it's actually quite difficult to photograph black clothing properly, and this was probably my 5th or 6th attempt! Anyway, I'd been looking for a cosy black cardi to wear in winter for some time now - I have similar ones in grey and cream from Primark, but I always felt like I needed a black one. So I was so happy to find this in New Look, even though the price was double what I paid in Primark for something very similar. This will be perfect when it gets colder, as it's warm and snuggly, without being too itchy.

Grey Knee Socks from Bershka, €7.99

This is another thing I'd been looking for for a while: knee socks. I've looked in so many shops over here in Belgium, but very few seem to do knee socks, which is kind of odd. But I finally found these in Bershka, and I'm fairly pleased with them, as they'll go perfectly with skirts and creepers in autumn.

And that's it. Yup, I only bought two things, which I suppose is hardly worth doing a haul post for - but never mind, since I've already written it :P

x

Thursday, 22 August 2013

MS MR

Bonjour,

I've been meaning to post this for a while, so hooray for me finally getting round to it! In the same vein as this post I wrote about Marina & the Diamonds, I'd like to share some more of my favourite music with you lovely readers. This time I'me featuring the band MS MR, and here's a quick summary from Wikipedia:


MS MR (pronounced Miss Mister) are a New York-based American duo consisting of vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow. The duo are signed to IAMSOUND and Columbia Records. After both members graduated from Vassar College in 2010, MS MR released two singles, "Hurricane" and "Fantasy". The music video for their debut single "Hurricane" was released on 26 April 2012, with the single released on iTunes on 10 July 2012. MS MR's sound has been compared to Florence and the Machine, Lana Del Rey and Kavinsky.





I discovered MS MR through a friend who posted about them on a blog I used to write for, and I was instantly hooked. Their music is so addictive and a lot of the lyrics are chilling and a little disturbing, which I think is part of the appeal. Wikipedia describes their music genre as indie pop, alternative rock, dream pop and dark wave - quite a range. I can't personally tell what's what, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the music! I think what I most love about this band is that all their songs are so different and conjure up completely different images in my head.


Here are my favourite songs of theirs:







I hope you find you like MS MR as much as I do!

(all photos from Google images, videos from YouTube)

x

Another H&M Haul

Bonjour,

Although it may not seem like it, I do occasionally do more things than shop and blog, but I love both so blogging about shopping is my idea of heaven. Today I went to H&M again, because my mum was going to the local shopping centre and I decided to tag along. The photos I took are even worse quality than usual, as it's a kind of bright-but-grey day today, and the light is doing something funky with my phone's camera.

 Cardigan from H&M, €14.95

I absolutely love this cardigan, in fact I'm wearing it as I type this. I have quite a lot of cardis, including a dark purple one and a brown one, but this is a gorgeous 'oxblood' shade, somewhere between purple and brown. It's a great length too, as it's not too long to make an outfit look out of balance or show at the bottom of a jacket, but neither is there any danger of it shrinking in the wash, which is what seems to have happened to a lot of my other cardigans. 

Grey Skater Skirt from H&M, €9.95

Terrible photo alert... But anyway, this skater skirt is a lovely dark grey colour, and nicely weighted so it swings a little. I'd say it's a bit shorter than your average skater skirt, but I don't mind that. I was so pleased to see it was only €10! I actually went out looking for a grey skirt, as I have two black ones but I find that I tend to wear them with black tights in the winter, which ends up overloading slightly on the black, especially as I normally wear them with my black creepers or black boots. But this should be great with dark tights - I do feel like I'm wearing school uniform in it though!

Black Satchel Bag from H&M, €24.95

As usual, I was in dire need of a bag for school. I usually buy cheap ones from Primark, New Look or H&M, which are wont to fall apart after a few months, which is the case of my current school bag, which cost £9 from Primark and is ripping at the base of the straps. Hopefully this is a slight step up on the quality front, (although you can't tell from the photo, it actually looks quite high-quality material) so should last a bit longer, and it's also exactly what I had in mind - black with a long strap, and with enough room inside for everything I need for school.

Hair Bows from H&M, €2.95

I rarely ever do anything more interesting with my hair than straighten it (with my beloved ghd straighters) or leave it in it's natural crazy state which is somewhere between curly and wavy, with a great deal of frizz for good measure. But I saw these little bows on hair elastics, and thought "Why not?". I only really like the black one, but I might be a daredevil and wear the jazzy leopard print one someday...

And that's it! Not a particularly exciting haul, but I just about managed to tear myself away from these imitation Jeffrey Campbell Litas to buy some autumn/winter staples.

x

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Reasons to Smile

Bonjour,

I was inspired by my friend Joolz's recent blog post (go check out her blog please!) to make a list of 'things to be happy about' - or, as I've called mine, 'reasons to smile'. Some days it's so difficult to maintain a positive attitude, so I hope that by making this list I can do something to keep my own spirits up in the times I need it most.

1. The crisp smell of new books
2. Velvet creepers
3. Deep texting conversations at 2am
4. Jaffa cakes and jammy dodgers
5. Retro typewriters
6. Rainy days
7. Scrolling through your Tumblr dash
8. The smell of baking
9. Having an impromptu fashion show in your bedroom
10. Ice lollies on hot summer days
11. Internet friends who know you better than anyone
12. Rewatching episodes of Doctor Who
13. A new school year to start afresh
14. Glitter foam shapes and sparkly sequins
15. Marina & the Diamonds
16. Writing poetry at 1am
17. Dungarees and knee-high socks
18. Watching YouTubers do crazy stuff
19. Shopping online from the comfort of your bed
20. Lazy days in summer
21. Best friends who will be there for you no matter what

x

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Top 5: Contemporary Teen Fiction Books

Bonjour,

Yesterday two of my best friends in the whole wide world came round to my house. We had a lovely catch up session and talked about what we've been up to so far this summer, and what we're hoping for in the coming school year. It was really nice to see them after so many weeks, as even though we'd kept in contact via email (sort of), I don't think it compares to seeing people in the flesh.

Anyway, today I'm starting a new series of posts on my blog: my top five of anything. It's a really simple idea, where I basically pick a category and show you/write about my top five of something, whether it's clothes, bags, perfumes, stationery or YouTubers (watch out for that one!). Today I'm going to be showing you my top five contemporary teen fiction books - if you know me at all, you'll be aware that books are one of my favourite things in the universe, and I have a lot of them, which is why it was practically impossible to narrow it down to my top five favourites. However, I managed it in the end, and came up with a list of my current favourite single novels, i.e. books which aren't part of a series.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin 

I first read Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin several years ago, and since then I've reread it again and again. The book is told from the point of view of 15-year-old Liz, who has just become the victim of a hit-and-run accident which killed her. She finds herself in a place called Elsewhere, where people age backwards from the point at which they died, and are eventually reborn back to Earth. Elsewhere is a wonderful novel that puts an original and above all hopeful spin on heaven and life after death.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is one of those books that made me cry buckets and reach for the tissues. Lennie Walker's sister Bailey has just died, and the story is about the impact her death has on the family left behind, and how they cope with their overwhelming grief. For Lennie this means writing poetry to her dead sister and finding comfort in the arms of her sister's boyfriend, while her family slowly fall apart around her. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, as it's one of the more little-known books of this type I've read.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I found The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold at a second-hand booksale a few months ago. It sat on my book shelf for weeks, until one day my friend Elisha mentioned it and I had an odd sense of deja vu (or should I say, deja acheté) and decided to read it. The Lovely Bones is narrated by 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who was brutally murdered by a serial killer on her way home from school. Over the next few years Susie keeps watch over her family and friends from her version of Heaven, as her siblings grow up and experience everything she never got to. Chilling and sickening at times, The Lovely Bones is a dark portrait of grief in the aftermath of tragedy.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is another stunningly poignant tale of grief and depression, told with originality and flair. Clay Jensen finds a mysterious package containing several cassette tapes - they have been recorded by his classmate Hannah Baker, who committed suicide not long before. Hannah explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself, and thirteen people who will receive the set of tapes and listen to her story.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green is one of the most over-quoted books of the moment, with the possible exception of The Fault in Our Stars by the same author. However, there is a reason why so many people are obsessed with it, and that is that it's a novel that many people can relate to, told flawlessly in the voice of a teenage boy falling in love for the first time. When Miles Halter moves to Culver Creek Boarding School, he meets Alaska Young, who enthralls Miles and steals his heart. But Looking for Alaska is a lot more than just a love story, it's a tale of friendship and grief that has captured the imagination of countless readers across the globe (and also on Tumblr, let's not forget).

I hope you enjoyed my brief summary of each of my top five contemporary teen fiction titles. Please leave a comment down below if you're read any of these, or if you have any recommendations for me in the same genre.

x

Friday, 16 August 2013

Jelly Babies

Bonjour,

A trend I've noticed recently on Tumblr and particularly on Polyvore is jelly shoes, or jelly sandals. For me they're a complete flashback to about 1999, as I have lots of photos of me toddling around the beach near my grandparents's house wearing a glittery pink pair.


I did some quick research, and found out that they were huge in the 80s and 90s, especially in the mid-80s when you could buy a pair for less than $1 - which makes the prices in shops these days seem ridiculous, as you're often talking more like $30 for good-quality ones. But what is it that's turned jelly shoes from a retro throwback to a cute fashion essential this summer?


In my opinion, it's the same thing that got dungarees back in style - the desire to feel like a kid again, bringing back childhood memories of paddling in the waves in summer, eating ice cream while the van plays its tinny tune, and digging elaborate sandcastles on the beach.

I have to admit that when I first saw photos of people wearing jelly shoes on Polyvore, my initial reaction was "Good God no, what are they wearing?" - but I had time to think, reflect, and create a Tumblr based around all things cute and glittery, and since then I've come to the conclusion that they are some of the most adorable footwear around. Although I'd associate them first and foremost with wearing on the beach and in water (as they're plastic and therefore waterproof), they can also be worn with socks, to fabulous effect:



After seeing so many quirky ways of wearing them, I decided I definitely wanted to get my hands on some - which was when I remembered that there was a lilac pair somewhere downstairs, shoved under the coats several years ago and since then forgotten. But not for much longer, because after a quick root through a heap of gym kit bags and too-small wellies, I found what I think must be a pair of my mum's from about 1993, which I tried on with white knee socks:



I love them, but I've realised that I don't have much in my wardrobe that goes with purple, and for that reason I'm planning on buying a black pair next time I go shopping, as they'll hopefully go with more things and work well with more autumnal clothing. Something I probably ought to mention is that so far I haven't actually seen anyone wearing them in real life, only on Tumblr and Polyvore - which is interesting in itself.

I've been looking into where to buy jelly sandals, and apparently New Look do some for around £10, which is where I'm planning on looking. A popular brand that makes them is JuJu, which sells them in lots of different colours and styles. JuJu claims to be the creator of the 'original British jelly shoe', and stockists for the brand include Topshop, asos, Office, Nasty Gal, River Island and American Apparel. If you live in Australia or the US, you can buy jelly shoes from JellyBeans for around $35.

What do you think of this fashion revival? Would you wear them?

x

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Totally Tumblr

Bonjour,

So today I finally reached 100 followers on my main Tumblr! It might seem like nothing, but this is a huge milestone for me, as 100 has been my target since I made an account. I'm so happy, and if anyone reading thing follows me there, you have impeccable taste and I love you. If you don't follow me, please do - click here to go to my blog.

On a slightly different note: I also made a new Tumblr recently. I have quite a few different blogs, all with different styles, because I often get fed up with reblogging a certain type of pictures and switch to something completely different.

My main blog is kind of vintage/indie-themed, and I reblog a lot of nature, architecture, ornate things and Lana Del Rey.

My pale blog does what it says on the tin - it's strictly only for pale photos.

My pastel goth blog is one I don't really keep up with these days, but it has a lot of photos of the pastel goth style if you're interested.

My random blog, so to speak, is just a collection of various different humorous, memorable or otherwise relevant or interesting stuff that doesn't fit any of my other blogs. There's lots of Doctor Who, gifs, animals and Disney.

And last but not least, adjectives which describe my new blog are quirky, sparkly, holographic, fun, and glittery. I'm not entirely sure, but I think in terms of Tumblr categories it fits somewhere between indie, boho, roma and bambi. Anyway, it's all very summery, with a lot of models, jelly shoes, cacti and Charlie & Lola. Here's a sneak peek:



Thank you once again to all my lovely followers on my main blog - stay fabulous!

x

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Pretty Poetry

Bonjour,

Today I though I'd post a poem I wrote a while ago - it's pretty terrible and I'm sure my English teacher would say it's a lot of fancy words but no structure or meaning, which is quite true. But get this, I'm pretty sure it's in iambic pentameter! I jazzed it up a bit on Polyvore, take a look:


x

Monday, 12 August 2013

H&M Haul

Bonjour,

Today I went to the local shopping centre with my mum and brother. I don't go there all that often, because the only shops I ever really go in are H&M, The Body Shop, Six, and the newly-opened Pull & Bear. But anyway, I went into H&M first of all, since it's the biggest and best-stocked one I've ever been in, and I bought the following:

Watch This Space jumper, €19.99 from H&M

 Even though winter is my favourite season of the year, as I love to wrap up warm in big coats and woolly scarves, I don't have that many big cosy jumpers - which is why I was so happy to find this. It's oversized and oh-so snuggly, which is just perfect for the colder months. I was also looking for something simple to wear with my many pairs of patterned leggings, and I know this is going to be perfect for wearing with my galaxy print ones.

DIY Studs, €4.95 from H&M

The next thing I bought was something I saw a while ago on the blog of a German girl I know from school. They're basically DIY studs, which you attach to fabric using pliers or a hammer. I just though this was a brilliant idea - why buy new clothes when you can jazz them up with these? They come in a little packet with square ones and triangular ones, and each is about 1cm squared, which I think is the perfect size. I can't wait to have a go with these - I might post some pics of the results if it works out alright!

Red Velvet Plimsolls, €19.95 from H&M

These are officially the third most fabulous pair of shoes I have ever bought (the first and second being my black creepers and black combat boots). I almost don't have words to describe how incredible these are. But they're a stunning burgundy red colour (I desperately want a skater skirt in this exact material!), and feel amazing soft and velvety, plus they have platform soles, check it out:



Even though I probably have upwards of forty pairs of shoes (if you count both winter and summer ones) I am actually quite terrible at buying footwear, which is part of the reason I have so many pairs. I'm a 38 and a half European sizes (or about a 5 in the UK), which is awkward because 38 is always a little on the small side, and 39 is a little on the big side. So I usually end up going for the 39, and wearing them with innersoles and two pairs of socks if necessary. I actually have a similar pair to these in plan black, with the thick soles, but they're just a bit too big to wear comfortably, which is why I ended up buying flat black plimsolls as well. Anyhow, I know I'll wear these till they fall apart, as they're a great, slightly grungy alternative to my beloved creepers.

And that's all I bought. I went out determined to find some cream tights and dark red knee socks, but sadly I didn't find any - never mind, they shall remain on my shopping list till the next trip.

After I'd finished shopping I wandered round a few other shops, including the nature shop, tucked away round a corner on the top floor. It's one of my favourite places to go, because the moment you step inside the incense and the relaxing music whisk you away to somewhere in the middle of a forest - it's just so calming and I always go in and have a wander round. They have everything from telescopes to aromatherapy oils, including massage chairs, scented candles, and CDs that sound like nature. I managed to take some sneaky (and therefor bad-quality) photos of the displays at the back of the stall, take a look:






I could honestly spend all day in there, listening to the sounds of birds chirping and inhaling the musky scent of jasmine and vanilla.

x

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Crafty Creations

Bonjour,

So yesterday I decided to review my checklist of Things To Do This Summer, and I realised that one of the items on the list was 'make a ton of cards'. This is something I used to do a lot, from the age of about 10, but then I got my laptop and the internet happened, not to mention Polyvore which fulfills all my creative needs on a day to day basis. The main reason why I don't craft as much as before is because when I first started, all my stash fitted in one smallish shoebox, which could easily be whipped out if the need arose - but in the intervening six or so years, it's grown considerably, to the extent that it's far too time-consuming to take it all out just to make a few cards, before putting it all away again. What with regular trips to craft shops in the UK, monthly papercrafting magazines sent over from my grandma/aunt containing free gifts and patterned papers, and a general tendency to hoard anything and everything which could possibly be of use, I've acquired boxes full of ribbons, card scraps, stickers, stencils, shaped punches, eyelets, brads, felt shapes etc, and two A4 ringbinders with plastic pockets that hold all my patterned papers. Observe:


And that's just the stuff I bothered to get out - there's a lot more stashed away in the depths of my cupboards. I had to get a spare table up from the basement in order to accommodate it all, as although my desk is fairly big I didn't think it would be able to cope with the totality of my stash, as well as my laptop, my typewriter and the stacks of books currently on it which are waiting to be moved up to the attic.

Anyway, I had a great time rediscovering a lot of things I've bought in the year-and-a-half or so since I had my last proper crafty session, such as these babies:


I found this snazzy set of blue ribbons, some little pots of flocking powder (it gives a furry effect when you sprinkle it onto wet glue), a packet of oversized flowery brads, some lovely vintage doilies, sticky ribbon with an amazing ruler pattern, and letter beads - as well as my trusty craft knife, templates and double-sided sticky tape.

Faced with the entirety of my stash, I was immediately inspired to get my glitter and sequins out, but I'd forgotten quite how much I had:


Usually I'm quite conventional with my card designs, and I rarely venture beyond my comfort zone in terms of techniques. My typical approach is to find some nice patterned paper, stick it on a white card blank, add a greeting and some embellishments, and Bob's your uncle. The card-making magazine I get makes me realise exactly how much I'm missing out on by not getting to grips with stamping, quilling, distressing, die-cutting, heatgunning and inking, but even paper piecing (assembling something out of little bits of individually cut paper) is a stretch for me, so I'm quite happy to stick to what I know.

But I was rooting through my stash, after the discovery of the sparkles, and I realised I had quite a lot of brightly-coloured papers, ribbons and general embellishments that I hardly ever use, so I decided to forget my subtle, colour-coordinated go-to designs and make something a bit wacky. I made sure all the relevant bits and pieces were within arm's reach, and then got stuck in. Usually I'd plan out what I'm going to make before I cut or stick anything, and draw a sketch of what I want the end result to look like, but today I took a completely different approach: I flicked through my papers, picked one at random, then added card shapes and ribbons here and there until I was satisfied, at which point I reached for the sparkle. I was a bit too over-enthusiastic with the glitter to begin with, it went absolutely everywhere (including in my hair - there's still some in my eyebrows despite two showers since), so I put the tops back on the little pots and resigned myself to the somewhat less risky sequins and gems.

Here are a couple of examples of what I came up with (sorry about the light, it wasn't even half-seven pm when I took these but it was so grey outside there was barely any natural lighting):




I'd been doing such a good job restraining myself from reverting to my usual flowery pastel designs, but when I found this beautiful paper set, complete with resin flowers (a free gift with an issue of my magazine) I just couldn't help myself. Although I did use a black glitter card blank, just to mix things up a bit!





I don't think it's possible to appreciate quite how difficult it is to photograph cards in a decent light until you're trying to do it yourself - all the same, here are the results of my day of crafting:



Hope you enjoyed a peek at my crafty session!

x