Saturday, 30 May 2015

Book Haul


Exams are ridiculously close right now, but I'm following my own advice from this post and procrastinating productively by blogging. My posts over the next few weeks won't be the most inspiring since I'm writing most of them in advance, but watch this space until the summer holidays when I'll have endless time on my hands to get creative! 

I had a sudden realisation that I haven't done a haul post in a while (not since mid May, can you believe), so here's a quick look at some books I acquired recently.

The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson

I'm fairly sure I've read this before, probably when I was about twelve judging by the size of the font, but personally I love rereading old favourites so I'm excited to read this. And I think it's technically classed as historical fiction, which is excellent.

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd

There's something incredibly familiar about this book and it took me a while to figure out that it was one of the ones on a bookshelf in my old English class that I sat and stared at for two years when I wasn't paying attention. From the blurb it kind of reminds me of Shadowstory by Jennifer Johnston, but maybe that's just the Irish setting.

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

I absolutely love Celia Rees's books and have all her other historical fiction novels (Witch Child, Sorceress, Pirates and Sovay), even though they probably are a bit young for me. This book is utterly beautiful though - the cover is stunning and the gold shiny bits make it seem so rich and ornate.

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

It's no secret that Agatha Christie is one of my all-time favourite authors and Towards Zero is just another to add to my growing collection. I was slightly disappointed to discover it's not actually one of the Poirot ones, but I'll still read and enjoy it anyway.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Well. I bet you didn't see that one coming. Like everyone else I have of course seen the film Jurassic Park but only recently did I learn that (like all good movies, it seems) it was originally a book. In a similar manner to when I saw Schindler's List at a secondhand book sale, I was slightly overcome by an urge to be able to say I've read this - we'll see how long it takes me to get round to it though!

I'm currently rereading a few texts for my exams, so I seriously cannot wait until this time next month when I'll be able to read for my own pleasure and perhaps get stuck into one of these!


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Last Day of School


Yesterday was my last ever day of school and I still haven't quite recovered from the realisation that I am very nearly free from compulsory education! It's safe to say it truly is the end of an era, as I've been at my current school for all my primary and secondary education and known the same people for twelve long years. We've been through so much together, from running around playing made-up games when we were six to becoming the mature adults we are now (not to mention the awkward puberty stage) with countless memories along the way. There are so many school trips, memorable lessons, projects we've worked on and other general experiences which are unforgettable - the people I've known for most of my life are the ones who have shaped me as a person growing up and I like to think those parts of me will stay with me forever.

But while I'll miss the people I know I'll miss the place almost as much. Those orange brick buildings, nestled in the heart of Brussels and surrounded by a mixture of sparse greenery and concrete, will always hold so much meaning for me. I have quite literally grown up there, and the thought of not spending eight hours each day on the campus is more destabilising than I might care to admit. When you've spent so long in what is essentially a bubble of education and friendship, where you have such a feeling of safety and being at home, it's the scary to think that that safety net will no longer be there - you're on your own from now on.

And of course, an end like this means a new beginning is on the horizon. In the autumn I'll be off to university in the UK - the country change is an adventure in itself, but I'm so excited for all the new opportunities I'll have, both academic and personal. I can't wait to live in a country which has always been a sort of ideal for me growing up, a strangely magical kind of place which combines the feeling of coming home with the feeling of going on holiday. I can't wait to soak up as much information as possible and learn about things that I'm really passionate about, rather than being forced to take certain subjects I have no interest in. And I can't wait to meet new people from different backgrounds and hopefully make friends for life.

But there'll be no forgetting the friends who I've known for two thirds of my life so far - I don't think that's even vaguely possible. The struggle is going to be letting go enough to be able to move on, while also keeping hold of the past. As you might have noticed, I'm a very nostalgic person, so here are just a few things I'll miss most about these twelve years at my school:

  • Going out for lunch with my friends on sunny days
  • Sitting on the grass and making daisy chains
  • Taking the bus with my friends in the mornings and evenings
  • Hanging out at the lockers first thing in the morning, especially the days after holidays when everyone's catching up
  • School trips, especially the recent ones in secondary
  • The library with its pitiful selection of books (albeit in seven languages)
  • The art building with its warren of staircases and corridors
  • Springfest
  • Walking down a corridor and hearing multiple languages being spoken
  • The smell of coffee near the staff room on the third floor
  • Getting our timetables at the beginning of every year
  • The first day of school after the summer holidays

Nope I'm not crying, there must be something in my eye...


Friday, 22 May 2015

The Identity Tag


Exams are looming and I'm spending most of my 'free' time trying not to freak out too much about the prospect of spending hours and hours in an exam hall multiple times. It almost goes without saying that I might not be posting as often as usual for the next few weeks - I do have a few drafts saved up but it's extracting myself from the world of studying and remembering to publish them which might be tricky! Anyway, here's a quick tag post in the meantime.

1. If someone wanted to really understand you, what would they read, watch, and listen to?
This is actually such a hard question, because it's not so much 'what are your favourite things to read, watch and listen to' but what represents you as a person. I'd say read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, and Rookie Yearbook One; watch series 2 & 4 of Doctor Who and the film Clueless; listen to Lana Del Rey, Marina's Electra Heart and Emilie's Autumn's album Opheliac - no idea if that's at all representative of me but there you go.

2. Have you ever found a writer who thinks just like you? If so, who?
Not really. I've had moments where I've really connected to an author's way of writing and what they're saying, but nothing stands out to me now.

3. Do you like your name? Is there another name you think would fit you better?
I don't mind my name and I kind of love that it means 'wisdom' (ahahah). I just kind of wish I had a less common name because there are three other Sophies in my year alone, although I suppose I do have the advantage that no one will ever ask me how to pronounce my name. I really love the names Paige, Astrid and Elspeth, but I'm not sure any of those would particularly fit me better.

4. Do you think of yourself as a human being or a human doing? Do you identify yourself by the things you do?
Human doing, definitely, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing. I like being productive and getting things done, but I suppose I rarely stop to just 'be' (#deep). 

5. What musical artists have you most felt connected to over your lifetime?
This is kind of similar to question 1 so I guess Emilie Autumn, Lana Del Rey and Marina, but also MSMR and Nicole Dollanganger.

6. Are you an artist?
I wouldn't describe myself as an artist as such, because I immediately associate that word with the ability to draw, paint, sketch etc, and sadly my skills are limited with that kind of thing. What I do enjoy is more of the design-type stuff, like Polyvore sets and greetings cards, but I don't think that really makes me an artist.

7. Describe your ideal day.
I'd get up about 9am, make pancakes for breakfast, read a bit, go and meet my friends for lunch on town, go shopping, then go back to one of my friends' houses and just chill and chat for a while before making dinner, watching a movie and going to bed late. I've spent a lot of days like this is the holidays but it'll never get old.

8. Inside or outdoors?
Probably 70% inside, 30% outside.

9. Are you a musician?
Not at all, I can't play any instrument.

10. Five most influential books over your lifetime.
I think this question can be understood in two ways, like the five most influential books that have been published since you were born (i.e. since 1997 for me) or the five books that have influenced your life the most. I'm going to go with the latter and say Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers, and Bloody Tower by Valerie Wilding. I might actually do a whole separate post on those five books because I could go on and on about them.

11. Which Harry Potter house would you be in?
Ravenclaw, without a doubt.

12. List the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.
Being at school, sleeping, studying, interneting, reading.

13. Have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone?
Literally all the time with my best friend, I actually laughed out loud when I saw this question because that's exactly what we call it!

14. Three songs that you connect with right now.
Emilie Autumn - Fight Like a Girl, Lana Del Rey - Flipside, Marina - Are You Satisfied? (I realise my musical taste is somewhat repetitive but I tend to latch onto an artist and obsessively listen to all their music on repeat until I know it inside out, by which point I feel an emotional attachment to a lot of it)

15. Pick one of your favourite quotes.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Ana├»s Nin


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Top Studying Tips


Every time exam season approaches, I find myself struggling to remember how to simply get my head down and study. There's always something more pressing to sort out (like my passport application or uni stuff, gahh), or something more appealing such as the entirety of the internet. While it always just about works out in the end, time after time I feel like my studying techniques could be a lot more efficient, so I decided to properly assess the situation and come up with some top tips for studying - which I should probably also take note of!

Get organised, NOW
I find this is often the most daunting part of actually getting down to studying: facing the stacks of sheets and piles of folders vs preferring to take the ostrich approach and pretend it isn't there. Instead, take the plunge as early as you can! Go through each subject in turn and make a list of everything you have to study. It might still fill you with dread and panic, but at least your mind can stop massively over-exaggerating how much you have to learn - and you never know, there might actually be less than you thought.

Don't overestimate your productivity
Once I know exactly what I have to study, I make a list of everything I plan to do every day. This was I can spread the workload out over the time available and I can tick things off as the day goes on and end up feeling like I accomplished something. But it's easy to plan to do too much and end up feeling like you didn't get anything done in comparison to what you set out to do, which is why it's important to be realistic. You're never going to review 20 pages of notes, read that book, make notes on that entire section AND go over all those character analyses in one day, so be reasonable and don't give yourself too much to do. If you manage to get it all done, treat yourself!

Make it fun/interesting
I've realised lately that some studying is just so boring. If you can, try making your revision more interesting than just staring at your books and notes: make flashcards so the process is less monotonous, write things out so you're active, or get someone to test you on what you've just learnt. Or go even further: if I'm really trying to get to grips with a character I like to make a collection about them on Polyvore with some character analysis, or draw a family tree to remind myself how a bunch of characters are connected, or construct a timeline for historical events. And of course, if there's a film of your book then you have the perfect opportunity to make revision more fun: turn your phone off and give the film your full attention, pausing it to take notes or follow the play's text for added productivity. I tend to reserve this kind of 'fun' studying for late in the evening when my brain can't cope with the more traditional methods.

Colour code
This applies to just about everything. I have a weird thing where I automatically associate each of my subjects with a different colour, so that gives me a starting point. Then I use a standard combination of pink and green for writing key words and definitions in my notes, so I can always spot a definition because I know it's in pink, no matter what subject we're talking about. If you're going through some handouts, have a few highlighters to hand to highlight different elements, such as causes and consequences, important names, key words and so on.

If you're going to procrastinate, do something productive
It might seem like a paradox, but if I'm going to put off starting the next section of my revision by half an hour I tend to commit to tidying my room or sorting through some scrap paper or even writing a blog post (for instance I am currently procrastinating maths revision to write this post), so that at least I can maintain the illusion of productivity. This technique also gets more done in general, as all those things you keep meaning to do aren't there to distract you while you're studying.

Limit your internet access
If you can't do anything without your laptop being less than a metre away (I am guilty of this), at least lock the screen so you have to actively put a password in before you can get to your internet browser, which will hopefully make you stop and think. I use the internet a lot while studying, for looking up definitions, online translators and just generally googling things to clarify what I'm learning, so I could never turn my laptop off entirely, which for me works okay. But if you can't resist the temptation to check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter every five minutes, you might want to at least put some distance between you and the interwebs.

Have a clear workspace
I do everything at my desk, from studying to blogging. Which can sometimes be a problem since my brain associates that workspace with both fun and studying - I wish I had a separate space for both, but I don't really have the option. Instead I just make sure I move everything unnecessary off my desk before I start any revision, so I won't get distracted by it. Equally I like to have everything I might need within reach, including relevant books, folders, pens, pencils, scrap paper for scribbling on etc.

There are a bunch more things I could say about studying, but I think I'll leave it at that for now. If anyone reading this is doing exams anytime soon, GOOD LUCK!


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Review: A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari


Recently I read the book A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari, and I thought I'd ramble on a bit about what I thought of it. I picked it up last year in a trip to the UK (you can see it in a haul here), in a discount bookshop where there was a deal on for three books for £5. As I mentioned in the haul post, it was the third book I chose out of the three so it wasn't like I'd been hankering after it for months on end, which is why I surprised myself slightly when I decided to give it a go despite all the other unread books on my shelves.

Apparently this is the second one in the series, but as I understand it each book is more or less a stand-alone case so it was by no means vital to have read the first book in order to follow the second. The genre is crime, specifically Italian crime as you might have guessed from the setting, and the thing about most crime novels is that it's impossible to talk about the plot without giving away major spoilers, so instead I'll focus on the setting, writing and general coherence.

But first here's the blurb to give you an idea of what the initial situation is (I always find the blurb of crime/mystery books strikes just the right balance of basic plot and tantalizing detail):

In the picturesque Tuscan hill town of Scandicci, the body of a girl is discovered. Scantily dressed, she is lying by the edge of the woods. Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara, head of Florence's elite Squadra Mobile, takes on the case. Because toxins were discovered close to the girl's body, many assume that she died of a drugs overdose. But Ferrara quickly realises that the truth is darker than that: he believes that the girl was murdered. When he delves deeper, there are many aspects to the case that convince Ferrara that the girl's death is part of a sinister conspiracy - a conspiracy that has its roots in the very foundation of Tuscan society...

What I really loved about A Death in Tuscany is that the author used to be the head of the Florence Police Force, so everything about the book is completely authentic and seems entirely plausible as it's based on real events. The main character, Michele Ferrara, is the Chief Superintendent of the Florence Squadra Mobile (aka police force) and it's obvious there's a certain autobiographical element going on. The author really gets under the skin of the character, which often isn't the case in crime novels when a lot more focus is given to the plot and pacing rather than character development. We definitely see two sides to him: the skilful professional, well-regarded in his field as one of the best, and the more sensitive, even emotional man, who cares a great deal about his missing friend and struggles to balance his work and private life. The chapters switch often between high-energy scenes where a new lead has just been discovered, and more low-key scenes with Ferrara and his wife at home, so the two sides are contrasted throughout.

But what this book (and probably the rest of the series) really has going for it is the setting. The locations just bounced off the page - I felt like I was walking through the streets of a little rural Italian village, surrounded by quaint low houses with flowers in the window boxes, and then I was in a bustling bigger town with the buzz of traffic and horns sounding and the townhouses towering above me, their brightly coloured shutters creating a striking contrast with the cornflower blue sky. Again, it's probably because the locations are based on real life places that they're so vibrant, but it's done really subtly and there aren't many long passages of description. I'm not trying to be ironic when I say I really love books with foreign settings (technically that includes every book I've ever read apart from Helen Grant's Forbidden Spaces trilogy which is set in Belgium), but I especially love them when it's done with authenticity and refinement.

Of course, being translated from Italian does leave a bit of an impact on the writing style. It's clunky in places and reads oddly in others, but I think it adds to the overall charm. You have to bear in mind that the author is not a writer, he is a policeman who turned his hand to writing in his retirement, but I think there's definitely something of a writer in him. While I was a bit lost in the technical and logistical detail at times - I could really have done with a chart showing the hierarchy of characters in the police force, and also a more detailed map - the plot generally did hang together coherently. This is a judgement about a crime novel you can only make at the end for it to have any validity, but I thought the pacing and plotting were handled well. There are three ostensibly separate cases going on in the story (the dead girl, Ferrara's best friend who has disappeared in suspicious circumstances and a drugs trafficking operation), which, predictably, converge in the final few chapters. This is my favourite part of any crime novel, the tipping point at which the apparently insignificant clues and unconnected leads all pull together - I always have a mental image of a bunch of different coloured threads coming together to form a beautiful and intricate plait.

On the whole I really enjoyed A Death in Tuscany, to the point where I have added the other five books in the series to my 'to-read' list on Goodreads. Speaking of which, you can check out my account here and even add me as a friend if you want!

Rating: 8.5/10


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Topshop Nail Polish Picks


I've decided I'm going to do more 'top picks' posts from various online shopping websites, because I really enjoy reading these kinds of posts and seeing little snapshots of what's available without having to trawl through pages of items. Having said that, when the mood strikes I also do love hunting through said pages of items and picking out my favourite things - I'm a dedicated Tumblr user and I think scrolling through my dashboard at speed has trained my eyes and brain to recognise images I find aesthetically appealing in a split second, which is also good for shopping sites.

Anyway, I was looking at the Topshop website the other day and I noticed they have some really nice nail polish colours (my inner Brit is cringing slightly at the use of the word polish instead of varnish but I'll let it slide for the sake of clarity). I'm somewhat of a nail polish fiend, as I almost always have some colour on my nails before I inevitably peel it off, an unfortunate habit I have. I've tried so many brands over the years, but not that many high end ones as I can never quite bring myself to splash too much cash, although I admit you do get what you pay for when it comes to nail polish. But one brand which I've found to be nearly as good as the few high end ones I'v tried is Topshop, as their polishes really stay on despite my best peeling efforts and they go on quite nicely too.

Names from left to right:

Sweet and Elite / £6
This is the perfect subtle pinky shade, in my opinion, as I don't really like bright colours on my nails. Maybe it's just the name, but it makes me think of sweets and I would call it a marshmallow kind of pink.

Rage / £5
Although I don't tend to go for brights, I do love a good dark colour on my nails, particularly dark forest green or a deep burgundy red. This purple is such a good block colour, which is nice as I already have a more shimmery, galaxy kind of purple.

Blue Rinse / £5
I haven't got anything like this, which is why it really appeals to me as a colour. I can't decide if it's closer to a duck egg blue or the sky on a sunny day.

Figment / £6
I looove the look of glitter nail polish, but I always regret painting my nails with it and vow never to use it again when it comes to getting it off as it's basically impossible. This is so pretty though, so I would probably make an exception.

Alchemy / £6
Gold is my absolute favourite colour to paint my nails and I've collected quite an assortment of different ones from various brands. I'm fairly sure I own this exact shade from Topshop already, although it came in a set of 3 as a gift so I can't be sure. It's easily my favourite gold I own, although it's nearly run out now!

Chiffon / £5
This is such a lovely nude, I think it would be perfect for those days when you just can't make a decision colour-wise, but want to look like you've made an effort.

Unfortunately you can't buy nail polish from the EU Topshop website (at least with Belgium as a delivery address), although they're available on the UK one. Which means I will have to wait until I'm next in a Topshop story in the UK to try and track any of these beauties down!


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Bal du Bac 2015


I don't tend to do many personal posts about my life, but I thought this occasion definitely merited more than a couple of instagram photos. Last Friday was the Bal du Bac, or Bac Ball, so named after the European Baccalaureate exams we do at the end of our final year in my school - essentially our version of prom. It's basically a huge event held at the Colonial Palace just outside Brussels, and everyone gets dressed up all fancy to celebrate the end of the year and the end of all our years together before we sit the bac and go our respective ways.

A huge amount of preparation went into the event, from the Bal du Bac committee who've been working on it for months to all the people (including me) who've been planning their outfits since last year! My class actually hired an old red London bus to travel there, which is the traditional mode of transport for the English section to get to BdB every year - it was really awesome driving through the streets of Brussels in such a distinctive vehicle and we got a lot of attention.

The first part of the event was the cocktail, which family and friends are invited to for food and drink. First we all stood around on the steps outside to take photos and admire each other's dresses, before moving inside and then out to an area with tables where the food was. The 'snacks' on offer were little dishes of penne arrabiata, noodles with beef, sesame and soy sauce, and Italian tuna tartare - everything was amazing, especially as I was starving by that point!

Next was the dinner, which was only for students and some teachers who wanted to stay (and were willing to fork out for it). There were two menus, one normal and one veggie, which I had. The normal one was salmon tartar followed by turkey, potatoes and a kind of stew, and the veggie option was pumpkin tortellini and then wok with vegetables, lentils and various other unidentifiable things - it was okay, but it was the dessert that really took the biscuit in my opinion. It was a huge buffet of tiny little desserts, like chocolate mousse, tiramisus, fruit tarts, panna cotta with orangey compote, and a load of other incredible-looking things I was too full to try.

Finally came the party part, which lasted from 11pm until 5am... And yes, we stayed nearly to the end! All in all it was a great time, and so nice to spend it with all the people I've spent every day with for the last twelve years, just looking a lot more fancy. It's a night I know I'll remember for a long time yet!


Friday, 8 May 2015

Review: The Glam Guide by Fleur de Force


I recently finished reading Fleur de Force's book The Glam Guide and I thought I'd do a quick review of it here on my blog. I bought it a few weeks ago on a trip to the UK - it wasn't exactly at the top of my absolutely-must-buy list but I've been kind of intrigued about it since it came out (incidentally, on my birthday) so I thought I'd get it and have a read. Although I have to admit I'm slightly sceptical about all these YouTuber books that have been coming out lately, I've been watching Fleur's YouTube channel for years and in my opinion she does a great job of giving actually useful beauty advice and tips so I was really hoping that would come across in the book.

First things first, I really like the cover and whole aesthetic effect of the book. I remember Fleur showing the original cover in a video, which wasn't nearly as nice and didn't really have much of her personality in it. The final version, however, is really lovely: I love the shiny gold lettering, the little stars, the pastel watercolour effect and the way the pictures don't overcrowd the space. Inside it's much the same story, there's a nice mixture of photos and illustrations and it's all quite minimalist with clean lines. As a whole I think it works really well.

The actual content itself is divided up into seven sections: beauty | hair | fashion | travel | health and fitness | life, love, dreams and everything in between | YouTube and blogging. Each section starts with an introduction and ends with '10 quick tips', which I suppose is a way of including the things that didn't really fit anywhere else. I thought I'd review each section individually, as I think some are a lot better than others.

This is easily the most detailed and comprehensive section, which is only natural as Fleur is primarily a beauty blogger/vlogger. It's kept deliberately quite basic and general and she makes the point several times that make-up is individual and it's all about finding what works for you etc, but at the same time there are a lot of useful tips and advice, especially if you're still relatively new to make-up like me. I especially liked the sections on which brush to use, how to choose a concealer and when to use blush, bronzer and highlighter, as I feel most beauty bloggers/vloggers assume their readers/viewers know those kind of things already. There's also quite a lot on skincare, and a scarily scientific bit on which ingredients to avoid when buying products. I found that while useful, a lot of the advice was stuff I'd heard before on her YouTube channel, but admittedly condensed into one easy to read and compact section.

This is the smallest section, as I suppose in comparison to beauty there's only a limited amount to say unless you're actually a hairdresser. But there's still some useful info on dyeing and growing your hair, and I might actually try some of the 'quick  and easy hairstyles' one day.

I really enjoyed this section, perhaps because Fleur doesn't talk about fashion all that much on her channel so most of her own personal advice was new to me. Again, it's generic, but there are some sound tips and advice, especially when it comes to handbags, shoes and accessorising. Having just acquired my first designer handbag, I found the 'Handbag 101' pages really interesting! I also enjoyed the bit on 'How to Make High Street Look High End'.

Maybe I've been doing it wrong, but I had no idea there was so much (or indeed anything) to say on travel! For something which is really just a method of getting from A to B, Fleur has a lot of advice including how to pack, how to travel in style, how to beat jet lag, in-flight beauty etc. To me most of this section seemed like fairly obvious logic, but maybe I've just become a pro traveller without realising it...

Heath and Fitness
I'm got to admit, I skimmed over this section because I am one of the least fitness-orientated people ever. However, I did like the look of some of the recipes (most of which were veggie, yay) and the bit on juices vs. smoothies with the advantages of each was quite interesting. As with most fitness things, there seemed to be a lot of contradictory advice and things to remember, so I just flicked through those pages and tried not to get confused.

Life, Love, Dreams and Everything in Between
In my opinion this was kind of a pointless section. Fleur explains in the introduction why she felt the need to include a kind of miscellaneous section and she does touch on some key areas, but in all honesty its done so fleetingly it wasn't even worth it in my opinion. Her self-confidence advice is standard and I was disappointed not to see more of her own personal advice rather than the generic tips and tricks, while the body image bit (SO important!) was ridiculously brief. I mean, the tips are things like 'take a closer look at nature's imperfections' and 'admire successful women', just to give you an example. The 'first date etiquette' pages seem superficial, but I suppose it's an example of her own experiences and an attempt to not be too generic - it's a tricky balance to strike but I feel like she misses it here. I actually really enjoyed the 'reading your dreams' bit, but that's because it's probably something I'd happily sit and google for hours on end, not because Fleur included anything particularly ground-breaking.

YouTube and Blogging
As a blogger I was really interested to read this section, but most of it is actually geared towards YouTube, which was a shame, although if you are a budding YouTuber it would probably be quite useful. Personally the advice was nothing I'd not read or heard before, but it was still nice to hear it directly from Fleur.

There's not a whole lot of criticise about The Glam Guide (unless you had really high expectations, in which case you might be disappointed), but neither is there much to really rave about. It's essentially the contents of Fleur's channel condensed into a pretty book, with some nice photos and a couple of personal touches. I think the people who would most enjoy this book are the hardcore fans who support her in everything she does and people who have never heard of Fleur and haven't necessarily heard her advice, but for anyone in between it doesn't pack much of a punch. But maybe I'm sounding too critical, because I honestly did enjoy it on the whole.


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Fashion Fancies: Wednesday Addams


Life is crazy at the moment, I'm frantically trying to get general school-related things out of the way so I can focus on my final exams but everything is so hectic! Hopefully it will all work out in the end, but until then I think I'll be in a permanently frazzled state.

Anyway, this is the third instalment in my 'Fashion Fancies' series, where I take a fictional or historical character and create some outfits for them that I imagine they would wear. Check out my attempts at dressing Catherine Howard and Cathy Dollanganger, I'm quite proud of the results!

This time I thought I'd put some outfits together for the Wednesday Addams, one of the main characters of the Addams Family whose creepiness and kookiness are legendary. They are a group of fictional characters created by the American cartoonist Charles Addams, but they're probably best recognised from the 1964 TV series and the more recent films from the 90s. Last year I had a major Addams Family craze and watched nearly all the episodes on YouTube before they got taken down, and for Christmas I actually got the boxset of DVDs which I've admittedly yet to watch. I adore the character of Wednesday (although my all-time favourite has to be Morticia), so I decided to try and come up with some outfits for her.  

1. Funeral
Given her whole fascination with death and all things macabre, I imagine Wednesday would feel quite comfortable at a funeral - but that's no excuse for not dressing well, so this black tailored dress would be perfect. In the TV series she is supposed to be 6 years old, so school shoes and socks are a must.

2. Moonbathing
I love the episode in the TV series where it starts with Morticia and Gomez moonbathing, just as we normal human beings would do in the sun. I  feel like the whole family are slightly vampire-like in that they're all so pale and creepy, so it wouldn't surprise me if they couldn't withstand direct sunlight, although it's not ever stated. This would be Wednesday's take on a summer outfit: all black and moonhat essential.

3. Lazybones
Wednesday and Pugsley don't go to school after the first episode of the TV series, so I suppose Wednesday has a lot of time on her hands to just lounge around and scroll through Tumblr. Dresses are just about my favourite thing to wear, but leggings and a slouchy jumper are so much more practical for a day in front of your laptop - and there's no reason at all why it shouldn't be adorned with skeleton print.

4. Everyday
This outfit would fit so many occasions, from school to shopping, from parties to feeding her pet spiders. Even Wednesday must have some (perhaps equally creepy) friends, and this outfit is totally appropriate for any form of socialising, in my opinion. It's simple, monochrome and how can you not adore the Chanel cassette clutch? Also I would totally wear this, especially the clunky shoes.

I hope you enjoyed this post - next time I will be dressing Sylvia Plath!


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Polyvore Lately 2


I don't tend to post many of my Polyvore sets on my blog since they're all over on my account anyway, but today I just wanted to share a couple with you and gloat slightly about a recent Big Deal that happened.

Most of my sets tend to be your standard collage sets, in which I use a lot of coordinating pictures with some text windows and then a matching outfit, but recently I decided to get a little more creative. One of the ideas I had was to try and make a quote out of words cropped from colourful text items, and after hours of fiddling about trying to find the words I needed I eventually came up with this:

The quote itself is kind of meaningless, at least to me, but I love the visual effect and apparently a bunch of people did too cause the set got included in the top Art & Expression sets for April 30th! This is essentially a collection made by the official Polyvore account of the best sets from users within each category (Art & Expression, Fashion, Beauty, and Home). Given the sheer volume of sets that are published every day it's quite an honour to have your set included in the top sets, which is why I was over the moon. Also, it got over 640 likes which smashed my own personal record of just under 200 on a single set or collection, and I gained a ton of lovely new followers. I realise most of this is meaningless unless you have Polyvore, but I just wanted to post about it because I'm so happy and proud!

It also reminded me that I had a couple of my sets included in the top sets before, so I trawled through my account to find them:

In Top Art & Expression Sets for Jan 14th 2013

In Top Art & Expression Sets for March 7th 2013

I can't even describe how much I love using Polyvore as a creative outlet: the possibilities are truly endless and there's so much to be inspired by - it's definitely one of my favourite websites of all time. I also love the community that's sprung up around it and how supportive everyone is of each other, I've made a ton of friends over the years.

Here's to many more top sets!