Sunday, 29 March 2015

Music Memories

Bonjour,

The other day I was idly scrolling through the songs on my iPod looking for something other than Lana and Marina to listen to, and I started thinking about where I first heard a lot of the songs, and why I decided to download them. I realised that I associate a lot of them with a particular occasion or person, so I thought I'd talk a little about some songs which I've attached particularly powerful memories to.

American Pie - Don McLean

This is probably one of the songs which is most firmly embedded in my memories, as my dad used to sing it to me when I was very little to help me get to sleep. I never knew what it was called or who sung it, and when I was about six I remember thinking my dad had made it up just for me! A couple of years ago I rediscovered it and have since memorised all the lyrics, which I think are just so interesting and loaded with cultural references. It's almost like poetry that you need to read a good interpretation/lyrics meanings site to actually understand it, but when you do it's that much better and more enjoyable.

You Can Close Your Eyes - James Taylor

My dad didn't sing to me that often when I was little, but this is another one he used to sing, perhaps more than American Pie. It's so soothing to me, even now, and I like to listen to it if I'm ever having difficulty sleeping.

Someone Like You - Adele

I will always and forever associate this song with my wonderful best friend Orlaith (who I know is reading this, ahaha). It's one of the first songs I remember hearing her sing, years ago with my other best friend on piano, and the first time her incredible talent really hit me! Since then I've heard her sing a lot more, including her own songs, and I know more than ever that she will go far with her musical career.

Young and Beautiful - Lana Del Rey

Who am I kidding, there was never going to be any way I could ever talk about music on my blog without mentioning Lana! I listened to this non-stop round about this time last year when I was writing my extended essay on The Great Gatsby and its film adaptations, initially because it's part of the 2013 film's soundtrack (which incidentally remains my favourite adaptation). I came to associate it with the love story between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, and I think it encapsulates a lot of the themes of the book and films really well. So for me, Young and Beautiful is the musical equivalent of Gatsby, which is one of my all-time favourite novels and films and has an importance place on my bookshelf.

Hundred Dollar Bill - Lana Del Rey

This is the song I listened to non-stop for several days with my best friend Eimear on our trip to Iceland last year. We spent an awful lot of time in the bus, travelling from one part of the island to another via the one and only main road, and so I had plenty of time to educate her on Lana's unreleased material. She absolutely loved this one, so it became part of our routine to listen to it a few times at the beginning of every bus drive before we got onto any other songs - although the subject matter is hardly relevant, I will always associate Hundred Dollar Bill with snuggling up in our sleeping bags with chocolate and staring out at the stunning (albeit bleak) Icelandic landscape.

Stolen Dance - Milky Chance

Here's another one from Iceland - this is the song that was permanently on in the background as the seven of us in our cabin lazed around, eating Icelandic doughnuts and oreo milka. I'm not even that much of a fan of it as a song, but sometimes when I want to remind myself of the awesome times we had together I listen to it and it all comes back to me.

Hey Soul Sister - Train

This was pretty much the soundtrack to the summer of 2011. I don't know my memory is entirely accurate here, but I remember lying on the grass at school with my friends during lunch, talking about nothing and singing along to the lyrics. I also remember Orlaith singing it, a lot better than any of the rest of us could!

These aren't necessarily my favourite songs, but if I hear them on the radio or in a shop or wherever they're the ones that will make me stop and take a little trip down memory lane.

x

Friday, 27 March 2015

Olympia Le-Tan Ready-to-wear Fall 15

Bonjour,

Recently I've been absolutely obsessed with the designer Olympia Le-Tan. I majorly adored her Fall 14 ready-to-wear collection about this time last year, and have kind of rediscovered her work lately through the magic that is Tumblr. What I loved about her Fall 14 collection was that it was kind of magic-inspired, with lots of appliquéd playing cards, pink and red on black, and playboy bunny details, as well as a few Lolita-isms. My favourite runway look of all time will always be this one:


Black velvet, pink fluffy cardigan, headscarf, book clutch and card motifs... Could there be a more perfect ensemble? I think not!

Given I'm also obsessed with the combination of black and pastels in every possible context, no wonder I'm currently loving her Fall 15 read-to-wear collection. I adore the whimsy vibe and just the general aesthetic she created with the contrast between ditsy prints, floaty chiffon and ribbon, and then black, khaki and geometric patterns. Also don't even get me started on the book clutches, I have a whole post on that coming up soon!

Anyway, I thought I'd just share some of my favourite looks from the collection, which is pretty much every single look (apart from about five).















x

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Unexpected Fashion Haul

Bonjour, 

Last weekend I went to my local shopping centre to get my new watch fixed (the strap was much too big), but somehow what was supposed to be a quick trip turned out rather more expensive than I'd meant it to... I had the vague idea of looking for a nice dress for my cousin's wedding in a few weeks, which I still need to get, but of course I got sucked into H&M and bought a few things there instead. Also, I realise I haven't posted a haul on my blog yet this month so it was high time really!

Floral Top, H&M €12.99

I basically fell in love with this little top, as it's so summery and pretty. I especially love the lace bordering detail at the hem! I've been trying to incorporate more colour into my wardrobe as at the moment it's about 70% black and 20% white, so this was perfect.

Floral Top, H&M €12.99

So perfect, in fact, that I got two - this one is a really lovely pale turquoise with a ditsy print. I really like the contrast of this colour with black (surprise surprise), which is good because I have a lot of black skirts and shorts.

Black Sheer Kimono, H&M €14.99

This is a really gauzy sheer material, which has a lovely floaty effect. I think this is perfect to throw on on those summer days when it's warm, but still cool enough to need another layer. But what I really like about this is how it has major witchy vibes, which is a look I am ALL about.

Strappy Sandals, Pull & Bear €35.99

May I introduce you to my new babies? I am in LOVE with these shoes, which is good as I'll be wearing them to at least two separate occasions in the next couple of months! The heel is 4 1/2 inches, which is pretty much the upper limit of my ability to walk in heels, but they also have a small platform and a fairly thick heel so hopefully I'll be able to manage it. I really love how simple and classic they are, and hopefully I'll be able to get a lot of wear out of them in the future!



And that's all I got on this unexpected shopping trip!

x

Saturday, 21 March 2015

What's In My Bag?

Bonjour,

I've never actually done a 'What's in my bag?' post on my blog before, but I've watched a lot of them on Youtube over the years so I thought I'd give it a go! Personally I find it really interesting to get a glimpse into someone's life through the things they consider essentials - I can't promise anything ground-breakingly interesting here but by all means read on. Since the bag I use every day is the one I use for school, I figured that would be the most obvious place to start as this really is what's currently in my bag, as opposed to just things I would put in a bag if I was going out somewhere.


My agenda is fairly essential to me as I write all my homework in it, as well as just general notes and things to remember. I bought this one at my local stationer's but it was really too flimsy to withstand the battering my agendas usually get, so I added a layer of card to the front and back to make it sturdier and also covered it with patterned paper, ribbon and finally sticky-backed plastic.

My pencil case is another essential as I obviously need pens and things in all my lessons. I got this stripy one from WHSmith, which is my number one go-to place to shop for stationery (my love for Smith's is endless and unconditional). These days I'm quite minimalist with what I keep in my pencil case - I have a couple of pens, a ruler, pencils, tippex, pencil sharpener, glue stick, highlighter etc, but no coloured pencils or pens. 

The purse I'm currently using is from the Spanish shop Lefties, which I adore. This is really the perfect size as it fits my ID card exactly, which isn't always the case with purses. It holds my school card, bank card, bus card, money etc, but I don't tend to keep lots of unnecessary stuff in my purse as it just adds to the weight of things I have to carry around.

I usually listen to my iPod (I have the 7th generation nano) on the bus on the way to and from school, so I always have it with me, along with my earphones - these ones were quite cheap but are still intact after 3 months of hanging around in my bag.

I don't always carry makeup type products, but I happened to have these two lipsticks in my bag today. One is fairly cheap pillarbox red from HEMA, the other is more of a pinky shade from No. 7.

Although my school isn't overly IT-orientated, a USB key is still an absolute essential for some of my lessons such as geography, as we often go to the ICT rooms to work on projects and do research. It's also a useful thing to have generally, as you never know when you might need it. This is one I got free at an open day at the University of Southampton.

Obviously I have my phone with me at all times - I use it for checking my emails and kik, as a calendar, often as a calculator and all sorts of things. It's a Nokia Lumia 800 which I've had for just over 2 years. The case (not that you can really see it) is very bling-bling as it's covered in little silver glitter gems - I've had it since the summer, and it was only a few £ so I'm really impressed it's lasted this long!

I often have a few random pieces of jewellery in my bag, as I tend to put a necklace or bracelet on in the morning and take it off by break time because it's irritating me and getting in the way. This is a clock necklace I bought in Ale-Hop a few years ago - the actual timepiece is sadly broken but I still wear it quite often because I love the simple design.

Another essential for me is a little pocket mirror, because you never know when you might need it.

My keys are also pretty vital, as they have my locker key, house key and a spare key to my brother's locker (in case he loses/forgets his, haha). I also have my blipper for the cafeteria at school, which replaced our chip cards at the beginning of this school year - how it works is still a mystery to me as I've never actually used it!

I usually have a comb hanging around at the bottom of my bag, just for those occasions when the lovely Belgian wind and rain decide to wreak havoc with my hair...

Finally, I usually have at least one book in my bag, whether my own or a school book. I'm currently carting about the play Translations by Brian Friel which we're reading in my advanced English class, but Rouge Brésil, Ik ook van jou and Angela's Ashes have all spent some time in my bag recently.


As for the bag itself, I'm currently using the Michael Kors Selma bag I got for my birthday last month. It's my baby and I love it a little too much, as it's all I've ever wanted in a bag! It works really well for school as I can usually fit everything I need into it, and it has lots and lots of inside pockets to keep things organised and to hand.

And that's what's in my bag - I hope you found this vaguely interesting, if you're as nosy as I am!

x

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Fashion Fancies: Catherine Howard

Bonjour,

First of all, you may notice I've changed the layout of my blog slightly: it's wider than it used to be so I can make the pictures bigger. This seemingly small change actually involved a great deal of fiddling about in Paint to get my banner to the right width, but hopefully it was worth it.

Today I was fiddling about aimlessly in the Polyvore set creator, and I decided to put together a bunch of outfits in a new series of posts for my blog: I plan to take a different fictional or historical character each time and create some outfits for them that I imagine they would wear in the novel or historical episode I associate them with. This combines my love of fashion and literature/history so perfectly, I can't believe why I haven't thought of it before now!

For the first instalment I chose Catherine Howard, also known as the 5th wife of Henry VIII who was executed for treason after little more than a year of marriage. I find the whole story of her early life and downfall absolutely fascinating, which is why about 80% of my collection of Tudor historical fiction is about her in some way - it's so interesting to read different portrayals of her, and build up a many-layered image of what she was really like. She apparently loved clothes and swore never to wear the same garment twice! Obviously all the outfits I came up with are modern takes, as otherwise this would really be quite boring.


1. Adventuring
This is the kind of thing I imagine Catherine wearing on a day out in the grounds of Hampton Court, with perhaps a loyal friend and a book for company. I like to imagine she was into witchcraft too, although that would be highly inaccurate historically... This outfit is practical yet luxurious in the fabric and detailing, as you would expect from the clothes of the Queen Consort.

2. A Night Out in London Town
I am basically obsessed with this skirt and desperately want to own it - I love the tapestry effect and of course it has an actual image of Henry VII on it, what more can I say. Sadly it would cost me about €300... Anyway, this is totally what I imagine the Tudor girls would have liked to have worn on a night out: it's classy, extravagant, and very very expensive.

3. Formal Ball
Perhaps a little more demure, I love this blue dress with the subtle pattern and gold neckline detailing. I think it would work well at a formal ball or party, anything that involves dancing. Perfume and jewellery are obviously a must, and it wouldn't be complete without a red crushed velvet bow.

4. Dinner with Henry
This could probably be interchanged with outfit 2, but I thought there was something a touch more stately and conservative about this one. I actually have a dress in very similar material to the skirt!

I hope you enjoyed this new type of post - next time I will be dressing Cathy Dollanganger from the Flowers in the Attic saga!

x

Friday, 13 March 2015

Polly Scattergood (& 100th post!)

Bonjour,

First I'd just like to quickly say that this is my 100th post on this blog! Since I started it in July 2013 my posts have been on and off, but I feel like I've reached a pretty major milestone in the blogging world and I like to think there will be many more similar milestones to come. I don't have any major plans for my blog in terms of content in the near future, as I just enjoy what I'm doing and I plan to keep on doing it, by which I mean posting hauls, internet things and occasionally actually talking about books (like I planned to a year and a half ago!).

Anyway. Recently I came across the British singer-songwriter Polly Scattergood, and I've been completely obsessed with her music these past couple of weeks. I tend to get very attached to artists for a short space of time, download ALL their music and then move on (with the exceptions of Lana, Marina and Lorde, of course), but I've stuck with Polly Scattergood a good while already so I though she merited a post.


As with most things, I found out about her through Tumblr and was immediately hooked by her song I Hate the Way - I then downloaded most of her self-titled album Polly Scattergood, as well as her second album, Arrows. I have to say I much prefer her debut album as the songs are just so quirky and intense, but also somehow ethereal and eerie. What I also love is the way a lot of them start out very minimalist and and poignant, and then gradually build up to the more punchy finale with each verse/chorus - kind of perfect for listening to at 7:45 am on the way to school when you're trying to mentally prepare yourself for the day. I've seen a few comments on Youtube about how her lyrics are 'dark' and 'twisted' but to be honest I didn't see it that way - if anything the whole ensemble reminds me of confessional poetry (especially Sylvia Plath's) in that it has a slight edge to it that makes it kind of uncomfortable to listen to at times, but it's also cathartic in a way.

Here are a few of my favourite songs of hers:

Bunny Club

I Hate the Way

Please Don't Touch

Enjoy, and please let me know if you have heard of/like Polly Scattergood!

x

Friday, 6 March 2015

Better Watch Your Bac

Bonjour,

This is going to be a bit of a different post today, but I thought I'd share it anyway. So as you may or may not know, I'm in my final year of secondary school and so far this year has been both the coolest and the most stressful to date. I've gone through the whole palaver of figuring out which universities I want to apply to, writing my personal statement and then actually completing the application process, not to mention just about keeping on top of all the school work which has been coming in floods. But aside from all that business, a bunch of cool stuff has been going on behind the scenes, mostly organised by many wonderful people from my year.

Cool thing number one to actually materialise is this jumper. It's traditional in the final year at my school to have a slogan which is put onto a jumper, and everyone who wants one can choose a different colour. The process for the jumpers started way back in October I believe, when we (by popular vote) decided on 'better watch your bac' as the slogan - the slogan has to incorporate the word 'bac' as the final exams we do make up the European Baccalaureate, which everyone shortens to 'Bac'. Step two was to decide a logo, which was done by a competition where anyone could take the logo and do something creative with it to produce a design. Naturally (because I have rediscovered my love of design this past year or so) I decided to enter and eventually came up with the following:


It was pretty much the simplest thing ever, as all I did was download a font, get an image of the hand with the puppet strings and put it all together in a Word document - but for some reason people liked it and it got chosen!


It's not the biggest of deals, but I was so excited to finally get my jumper the other day - the colour I got the jumper in was 'maroon' (it's a lot less pink than it looks on the photo, but anyway).


As I said, I just thought I'd share this here as it's something that was quite important to me and I love the finished result!

x

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Instafaves

Bonjour,

Since I made an account back in November of last year, it's safe to say I've been becoming rapidly more obsessed with Instagram. I had to use some devious tactics to actually open an account, as I don't have an Apple device (except my iPod nano that doesn't have apps), so this involved making an account on my brother's iPod touch and then downloading a slightly dodgy program that simulates Instagram on iPhone.

Anyway, after all that effort I am definitely using my account, mostly to follow people although I do post a fair amount too. Today I thought I'd share my favourite instas with you, inspired by my good friend Aoife's post a week or so ago (incidentally, go and follow her blog at her new domain!).

 Paula // @moonofpaula

I've been following Paula on Polyvore for a while, but recently I found her Tumblr, blog and Instagram and I'm just so in love with all of them! She has awesome pink/silver hair and I just adore her insta theme and general style. It's a little bit retro but quite minimalist, which works beautifully as an aesthetic.


Araina // @arainatasmin

Araina is someone else I've been following on Polyvore for absolutely ages, although sadly she doesn't make many sets these days. I really admire her healthy lifestyle and all the gorgeous nature and fitness pics she posts, she's truly inspiring! Her Instagram really exemplifies that, and the photography is always stunning. 


Emilija Vaisnoraite // @vaemilija

I'm absolutely obsessed with Emilija's blog and Instagram, there are no words. I can't remember how I came across her to begin with, but I think it might have been via Facebook as she goes to one of my school's 'sister schools' and we have some mutual friends (she's from Lithuania but lives here in Brussels). Anyway, I'm totally in awe of her style, it's so decadent and opulent and all round fabulous - you can see loads of her outfits on her blog. I love how she combines fur and rich fabrics with ostentatious but still tasteful jewellery, the effect is dazzling!


Kailey Flyte // @mermaidens

I discovered Kailey's amazing blog through Tumblr not too long ago, and then I came across her Instagram. I'd already fallen in love with her adorably outfits and amazing photography, but I really adore her insta theme too, with all its pastels and her retro/quirky style. And again, pink hair!


Nadia Esra // @nadiaesra

Nadia is a blogger from the Netherlands, and I've been following her blog for years. I really love her artsy photography with all the earthy colours, and her outfit combinations are utterly gorgeous. Not to mention that she sometimes blogs in Dutch, which makes me feel really accomplished for being able to understand it!

Feel free to leave your Instagram in the comments, I'll be sure to check it out!

x

Sunday, 1 March 2015

5 Classic Novels to Read

Bonjour,

Although I love blogging about fashion, internet and lifestyle things, it's always nice to go back to my blog's roots with a good old book-related post.

Classic novels and I have and always have had a love/hate relationship. As someone who loves reading, English and all things literary, I feel like I ought to have read a fair number of the classics, but in reality I just have several stacks of unread ones sitting on my bookshelves. I've read a fair number for school, over the years (Jane Eyre, To Kill A Mockingbird, Moonfleet, Kidnapped, Silas Marner and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, to name a few) but when it comes to leisure reading I have an overwhelming tendency to go for less heavy-duty books and just pick up some Tudor historical fiction (haha). As I only really have time to read late at night I find ploughing through a densely-written classic is often too taxing for my poor brain, which that is the main reason why I still haven't got round to reading great literary works such as Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights.

I'm sure a lot of people share this opinion, and so I've decided to list and briefly review a few novels I've read which are classic enough to sound 'impressive' when you say you've read them, but in my opinion are actually quite enjoyable too!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite classic novels of all time. Last year I chose the book and two of the many films that have been made of it as the topic for an extended essay in my advanced English class, after which I ended up more of an expert on the differences between the 1974 and 2013 films than I ever wanted to be. I have two copies of Gatsby - one is gorgeous and covered with gold shiny leaf, while the other is only just over a hundred pages (thanks to the small print), scribbled in and highlighted in about 6 different colours as I used it as a reference for my essay. It's really very short, and I think I managed to read it in a couple of days the first time round, after which I ended up feeling highly cultured and generally a lot more educated when it comes to American literature. The story is set in 1922 and told from the point of view of Nick Carraway, a young man who rents a house on Long Island. He lives next door to the lavish mansion of the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who throws extravagant parties which everyone goes to despite not really knowing who he is. Nick's cousin, Daisy, lives on the other side of the bay, and over the course of the summer Nick, Daisy, Daisy's husband Tom, her friend Jordan and eventually Gatsby himself spend the days together and Nick gets to know Gatsby. I won't give away too many spoilers, but lets just say if you like the roaring twenties, New York, an atmosphere of opulent decadence and unreliable narrators then Gatsby is for you.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

I read The Catcher in the Rye a few years ago for school, and it remains my favourite school reading book of all time. Although considered a classic, it's really easy to read as the language is simple. The story is relatively straightforward, but it can be understood at so many levels - probably depending on the age you are when you read it. The main character is Holden Caulfield, who gets expelled from his posh boarding school and makes his way home to New York - along the way he has various encounters with people and thinks most of them are phonies. The plot is simple, but the reason why The Catcher in the Rye is so popular is because it deals with so many themes relevant to teenagers, such as identity, loss, alienation, depression and rebellion. In my opinion there is really no excuse for not having read it, as it's just so wonderfully quirky and totally accessible - if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower then I'd really suggest you read it, as Perks has been described as a modern version of Catcher.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Stop. Stop thinking what you're thinking, because there's a high chance you have totally the wrong impression of this book. Which is fair enough, thanks to society's self-righteous condemnation of Lolita that meant it was banned in the UK when it was published in 1956. It's definitely one of those books which you have to read before passing judgement on it, so forget what you've heard and give it a try. The story is narrated by Humbert Humbert, a literature professor in his late 30s who has an obsession with 12-year-old Dolores Haze, the daughter of the woman whose house he's lodging in. After her mothers death they travel around the US as father and daughter, but someone is following them - and the plot thickens... Now if anyone ever objects to you reading Lolita or having an interest in it, just remind them that 1) it's considered by many to be one of the finest novels written in the 20th century and 2) there is really nothing in it that can be considered erotic - immoral yes, in terms of themes, but it's not nearly as lewd as people like to make out. What I especially love about Lolita is Nabokov's absolutely beautiful prose, and I also fell in love with the picture it paints of America in 1949. I actually did a (fairly amateur) film review of the 1962 film here on my blog a while back, so to see that click here.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Although I said these books would as a rule be easy to read, Nineteen Eighty-Four is possibly the exception to this. I first tried reading it when I was about 11, but gave up after a couple of chapters and since then I have read it a few times. Despite the effort, I do think it's very much worth it, as it really is one of the best-known classics of the 20th century and you can find references to it everywhere. It's probably the bets known of all dystopian novels, which is why I was so keen to read it when I was going through my sci-fi/dystopian fiction phase a few years back. Anyway, the book was written in 1949, and is set in the year 1984 in a country formerly known as Great Britain. The world is one of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation, dictated by a totalitarian political system under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite, that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as "thoughtcrimes" - alright so that last bit was from Wikipedia but I haven't read it in a while! What I actually love most about 1984 is the invented language they have going on, called Newspeak - the aim is basically to reduce the English language's vocabulary, for example by negating words instead of using a totally different word to express the opposite of something. I found that utterly fascinating, which is probably why it's stuck in my mind so much! I'd really recommend 1984, for its status as such an iconic 20th novel as much as anything else.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Funnily enough, this year I'm writing my advanced English extended essay on the origins of vampire literature (Twilight will at no point be mentioned, I can assure you), with a wider look at gothic horror fiction and its traditions. I'm planning for Dracula to be my main text that I'm focusing on, but I'm also going to refer to Polidori's The Vampyre and Le Fanu's Carmilla, as they were essentially the precursors to Dracula. I don't think there's too much of a need to explain what this novel is about, as the character of Count Dracula has passed into our culture to the extent that everyone instantly has an image of a cloaked figure with fangs (and possibly dripping blood) - but the reason why I decided to read it in the first place was really to get to the bottom of the whole myth of the vampire and find out exactly how much of the 'traditional' aspects of vampires that make their way into modern novels are true. If you (even secretly) liked Twilight, House of Night, the Morganville Vampires and so many more vampire novels that have sprung up these past few years, I really suggest giving it a go as it might interest you in the same way it interested me!

Thanks for reading, and I hope I inspired you to pick up a classic!

x