Monday, 29 June 2015

How to Style: Patterned Shorts

Bonjour,

Today I thought I'd try something new, so after fiddling around in the Polyvore creator for half an hour I came up with the (somewhat unoriginal) idea of doing a series of 'how to styles'. This essentially does what it says on the tin, in that I style a particular type of clothing item each time, hopefully in a variety of inspiring - or at least mildly interesting - ways. I'm starting with patterned shorts, purely because it's summer.


1. My number one rule when styling patterned bottoms, whether skirts, shorts or trousers, is to keep it plain on the top - unless you're looking to live on the edge by combining patterns, which can go disastrously wrong if not done skilfully. Hence why I've paired these gorgeous jungle print-cum-tapestry shorts with a simple cream blouse. The shoes more or less match the shorts in terms of colour, while the bag adds a different shade to the palette. 

2. This outfit is a little more 'edgy', because of the beret if nothing else. The bold primary colours complement each other as the pattern of the shorts picks them up in a subtle way. I love the velvety texture of the top and the high neck, even though personally I would find it irritating to wear. To be honest I don't know which decade of fashion this would fall into, but I feel it has a distinctly 70s vibe, as it reminds me of something my mum might have sported in her teenage years.


3. By all means keep it plain on the top, but plain doesn't have to mean a cotton tank top - this shiny silver strappy top works perfectly well to complement the tones of the shorts. Metallics aren't always the easiest to wear as you can easily miss the casual mark and look like you're on your way to a disco, but it's never a bad thing to experiment.

4. You can never go wrong with combining neutral tones as they don't necessarily have to match, so these shoes, bag and top work well together (I think). I love the pattern of the shorts, it's kind of an earthy paisley print that makes me want to run into a pile of crispy autumn leaves.

Thanks for reading!

x

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Review: the Newsette

Bonjour,

I had my last exam yesterday, which means this is officially the first day of the summer holidays for me! I still have to go back to school for graduation next week, but I'm really looking forward to that actually - I'll probably do a really emotional post about leaving school behind blah blah blah. Now that I have more time on my hands, I can dedicate a lot more of it to blogging and hopefully come up with some interesting and creative ideas for posts. Having said that, I'm proud that I managed to more or less keep blogging through the entirety of the exam period!

Today I wanted to talk a bit about a fashion/lifestyle newsletter I signed up to a month or so ago, the Newsette. Someone on Polyvore sent me a message asking me to check it out, so I googled it and easily found the website.


It basically does what it says on the tin: it's a newsletter with four main parts (things to do, things to know, best pics on instagram and some sort of list of tips or must-have items) that is completely free of charge and drops into your inbox every day. 

The first section is short and generally comprises a link to another website, and ranges from anything from frizz-resistant hairstyle ideas to how to eat healthy at Dunkin' Donuts. This is followed by a few somewhat frivolous news items, mostly to do with celebrities, viral news stories or videos, or general current events, each with a link to find out more if the brief summary catches your attention. The 'best pics on Instagram' section is a nice visual element, often featuring well-known bloggers such as Kristina Bazan (who seems to be featured in every other edition). The last section is a bit more miscellaneous, including features such as music awards highlights, fashion must-haves, tips for flawless skin, smmer bucket lists, hairstyles, most buzzed about beauty products and lots more. You can find examples of past issues on the 'archives' section of the website.


Basically, the Newsette is the ultimate accessory reading material for your typical Starbucks-going American girl: it comes straight to your smartphone 'before you grab your morning latte'. It's light-hearted, fun, takes about a minute to scan through and gives you a few little windows into the worlds of fashion, makeup and the internet. Given it's completely free I think it's worth a quick sign up, just for the knowledge that something short and sweet will drop into your inbox every day.

The only actual criticism I have is that it's so American-orientated: mine arrives mid afternoon, which roughly corresponds to early to late morning in the States, which isn't a problem in itself but the whole 'before you grab your morning latte' is slightly redundant. I think it would be a nice idea if each subscriber could set their time zone and receive the newsletter when they want.

All in all I'm glad I took a couple of seconds to sign up to the Newsette - click here to go to the website for more information.

x

Monday, 22 June 2015

Urban Outfitters Decor Picks

Bonjour,

Recently I was casually browsing the Urban Outfitters website (read: procrastinating revision) and I got completely sucked into their 'apartment' section and particularly the decor. I know the majority of it is overpriced and I could probably achieve the same effect myself with a little DIY, or find similar items for much cheaper at vintage markets - but I can't help my inner tumblr girl loving every bit of it.

I do still really like the way my room is decorated at the moment (it's white and dark pink with white furniture), but I did it back when I was 12 or 13 so I think if I could completely redecorate it now I would probably do it very differently. One day I'd like to live in a space with whitewashed exposed brick and wood floors, just very simple and clean with pops of colour - so with that in mind, here are my top picks from the decor section:

 Travel Scratch Map, $24

I saw this in the Urban Outfitters store here in Belgium a while ago and desperately wanted one, but when I made myself think practically I realised I don't actually have any spare wall space in my room, since I have built in cupboards, shelves, sloping ceilings etc. But my room at uni will be another story, so I may well pick up one of these this summer before I go.

Magical Thinking Menageri Medallion Tapestry $49

This screams hippie chic tumblr like nothing else but I love it. Purple is my favourite colour and as you may have seen in this post, I've recently discovered a liking for orange so colour-scheme wise this is beyond perfect.

Macaron Box $10

Are these not the most precious, beautifully pastel and iridescent but also massively overpriced little boxes you've ever seen? They're the trinket boxes to trump all trinket boxes and I want all of the colours.

Invisible Book Shelf $16

These are so simple but would look really cool with the right books against the right background. I've actually acquired a lot of bigger, non-fiction books lately so these would be ideal for displaying them. 

Painted Woodblock Wall Shelf $49

I really, really love this. It's so artsy and chic I just can't get over it! The colours of the drawers are subtle but make it look really interesting and thrify, especially with the different drawer knobs. I imagine this is the kind of thing to have in your hallway to hang coats and accessories on, but it would work just as well in a bedroom.

Reclaimed Wood Chalkboard $49

This is similar in style to the previous item but I love the chalkboard element - so useful for writing messages and to-do lists on. The overall vibe is so zen, even though it looks like it's been taken right out of a 1940s schoolroom. 

Magical Thinking Pyramid Shelf $129

Speaking of zen, the first picture above is a little snapshot of the effect I'd aim to achieve if I was decorating a space with this type of decor. It looks like a little shrine to something - peace and relaxation, maybe. Otherwise this shelf is such a novel shape, I think with a few of them you could achieve a really unusual and interesting effect.

Astrological Jewellery Stand $20

I just think this looks incredibly cool, not to mention it doubles up as the ultimate fake hand for a prank!

Magical Thinking Velvet Fringe Pillow $49

Velvet and tassels are all I need in a cushion. I'm picturing a couple of these, perhaps in purple and blue too, all spread out on a sofa in front of the tapestry I talked about above - the perfect zen den.

Magical Thinking Una Curtain $49

There's something witchy about these curtains and I am all about it. The pattern also looks a little bit like a cross between constellations and a kind of geometric print, which I think works surprisingly well.

So that is what I would buy from Urban Outfitters if I had an empty room to furnish and at least $450 to spare, not to mention the cost of actual furniture like tables and chairs and a bed. But never say never, since maybe when I get my own place I'll be able to create my dream space!

x

Friday, 19 June 2015

Fashion Fancies: Mia Thermopolis

Bonjour,

Today I have a new 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. Previously I've dressed Catherine HowardCathy Dollanganger and Wednesday Addams, and for this post I decided to put some outfits together for Mia Thermopolis, aka HRH Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, the protagonist of the The Princess Diaries novels by Meg Cabot.

I first read The Princess Diaries books when I was 8 years old after I got the first six for Christmas from my grandma, and I've reread the whole series pretty much every year since. What I love about them is how I pick up on new things each time, such as pop culture references that I wouldn't have understood aged 10, and whole themes that I totally glossed over the first few times round. I think a lot of people dismiss these books as tween fiction, but in my (admittedly biased) opinion they are so much more than that.

Mia is the Princess of the title, an ostensibly average teen who lives in New York City with her mother but who discovers she is actually the heir to the throne of the small (fictional) European principality of Genovia. The books, which take the form of her diary, chronicle her everyday life as she gets to grips with the reality of being a princess - which means suffering daily princess lessons from her grandmother, dealing with her bossy best friend, and navigating the field of romantic relationships. To this day, Mia is probably one of the most relatable fictional characters I have come across, which is saying something: she's clumsy, insecure, has a tendency to over-analyse things and struggles with school and friendships just like any other teenager. To be fair, that description matches a few characters I can think of, but Mia's voice is so vivid and memorable and really sets her apart.


1. School day
Mia goes to Albert Einstein High School in New York City, and the uniform is described on a couple of occasions as being blue and gold in colour - here's the blue, anyway. Books, pencils, a sturdy backpack and sensible school shoes are all essentials for surviving the school day, especially when you have to go straight from school to princess lessons in the afternoon.

2. Royal engagement
Naturally I had to include some princess-wear here, so this is my take on the pink poufy dress Mia's cousin designs for her to impress her long term crush (and best friend's brother) Michael Moscovitz. Mia isn't the most natural princess, so I feel like she would have benefitted from The Girl's Book of Glamour. A tiara completes the outfit.

3. At the loft
When she's not at school or learning to be a princess, Mia likes to wear her overalls and trusty Dr Martens, and write in her diary. She gets a mobile phone of her very own for her 15th birthday from her parents (bear in mind this book was published in 2001), so I've included a brick here. Notice the detail of the snowflake necklace, a present from Michael also for her 15th birthday which symbolises the Winter Dance when they first declared their feelings for each other.

4. Party at the Moscovitzs'
This is quite a specific reference: in the seventh book Michael throws a party while his parents are out of town, but Mia worries she isn't enough of a 'party girl'. She turns up to a party in quite an uncharacteristic outfit, drinks a beer, and naturally the whole evening ends in disaster. The beret deserves a special mention.

x

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

In the Mood for Summer?

Bonjour,

The run-up to summer is always such a strange time. On one hand you've got sunnier days and warmer weather, summer collections coming out and advertisements telling you get ready for the beach weather - but on the other hand you're still stuck in school or college or work, gazing longingly out the window and wishing you could properly enjoy the spring-to-summer transition.

Or maybe that's just me. All I know is that June is perhaps my least favourite month of the year, as it brings with it some of the warmest weather Belgium can produce (which isn't saying a whole lot but it's all relative) along with exams, which means I have to stay cooped up in my room trawling through pages of notes and trying to memorise things like the dates and details of all the European Treaties since 1957. I realise that if I did in fact have a lot more time to enjoy the summery weather, I probably wouldn't be one of those intrepid nature-loving instagram fitness fanatics, but you never know, I might really push the boat out by reading a book outside or persuading my friends to go for a picnic.

What's slightly ironic is that I don't spend the entire winter longing for summer like some people, I'm generally perfectly happy to endure the windy, rainy, snowy days without so much of a thought of hot days at the beach. But the grass is always greener, and I suppose it's a lot more green when it's right outside your bedroom window, and not just contained in those holiday snaps from last year which are lurking in the depths of your pictures folder.



I wasn't entirely sure where I was going with this post when I started writing, but never mind because I think I've conveyed my confusion. Just for the slightly ironic lolz, here's a summer tag I found on the interwebs:

1. Your dream summer vacation.
To me this means two things: either a holiday that takes place during the summer period, or a holiday of the beach-pool-and-restaurants kind. The latter isn't my idea of a dream holiday, but if that's the question then I think I'd like to go to some Greek island in the middle of the Mediterranean with my best friends oh whoops that's exactly what we're doing this summer! Otherwise, I'd love to go back to Iceland (yes one day I will stop raving about Iceland on my blog but that day is not today) as I assume the cold would be less of a potential worry and it would be easier to see travel around.

2. Favourite summer drink.
I really like the Arizona tea & peach thing, I'm not quite sure what the name of it is but the can is really pretty (not why I first bought it at all...).

3. S’mores or ice cream?
Ice cream. I love really disgustingly artificial flavours like parma violet, marshmallow or smurf.

4. Pool or Beach?
Pool all the way. I kind of hate sunbathing, so I much prefer to just get in, swim for a while, get out and head back inside for food and TV than lie around in the blazing sun for hours on the beach.

5. Would you rather spend a summer day outside in the pool or inside watching Netflix?
I think I probably just answered this, but I'd prefer to just sit on the internet all day than watch stuff.

6. Your most fun summer memory?
Lazing around with my best friends, going on walks to the shops for supplies (read: chocolate) and dressing up for dinner.

7. Favourite summer nail polish?
I don't really change up my nail polish colours for summer, so probably just my usual silver or gold. I might really go wild and add glitter.

8. Sunglasses or hats?
Sunglasses. Heart-shaped, if possible.

9. Favourite summer scent?
Perfume-wise I tend to gravitate towards a really fruity scent I got ages ago from Marks & Spencer, I believe it's called Butterfly. Smell-wise I really love that earthy green smell of the water evaporating from the leaves and the ground being slowly baked. What was that I saying about being an indoor person?

10. Favourite BBQ food?
As a (mostly) vegetarian, I don't tend to do BBQs but I'll happily eat roasted veg skewers and corn on the cob.

11. Bikinis, tankinis, or one pieces?
Bikinis.

12. Summertime book recommendations
You're asking the right person - check out this post from last year with my top 5 recommendations! I'd also like to add The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, Summers of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares and Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.



x

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein

Bonjour,

Recently I picked up The Moth Diaries at a secondhand book sale, after being on the lookout for it ever since my friend Elisha recommended it to me years ago. I was thrilled to finally find it, especially as it only cost me a euro. Having finished it a couple of days ago, I can tell it's going to be one of those books that will haunt me, in a similar way to Helen Grant's The Glass Demon and Johan Harstad's 172 Hours on the Moon.


If I hadn't been looking for this book I doubt very much I would have picked it up because I actively dislike the cover of this particular edition. I don't think there's any finesse or artistic quality to it, and it certainly doesn't reflect the story in any way that I could see. The combination of the creepy girl and the odd font reminded me of a tacky 70s horror novel at first glance, and apparently my book cover instincts are pretty accurate because it actually is set in the 70s and I suppose it does come under the genre of horror. But it's far from tacky - it's dark, subtle and poignant.

As the title suggests, the story is told in a diary format and from the point of view of an unnamed narrator, who, at the time of writing her diary, is sixteen and a boarding student at a prestigious old-fashioned girls' school. At the very beginning of the book, the narrator is looking forward to the year as she is able to get away with from her mother and spend time with her best friend Lucy. Only a few days later, however, Lucy strikes up a new friendship with the enigmatic 'new girl' from across the corridor, Ernessa Bloch. Tormented by jealousy, the narrator grows gradually more suspicious of Ernessa, and eventually becomes convinced that she is, in fact, a vampire. Meanwhile the narrator is struggling with her grief over her father's suicide and her deteriorating relationship with her mother, which we see in more detail when she returns home for the holidays. The story spans almost the whole school year, but the diary entries become less and less mundane in their contents as the narrator's thoughts overflow with envy, suspicion and hallucination.

To sum The Moth Diaries up briefly, I would describe it as The Bell Jar meets Carmilla. Perhaps the similarities with Le Fanu's novel are more obvious, but I feel it can be compared to The Bell Jar too: the narrator is stuck in her own world, and seems unable to act on her suspicions, while the novel essentially charts her mental breakdown. There are two layers to the story, as it is explained in the preface and afterword, written 30 years after the main narrative, that the narrator has been encouraged by her psychiatrist to publish the diary she kept in her junior year of high school. This of course has its own implications for the reader's interpretation, which I'll get to later.

If you like action or adventure, this book is not for you. The atmosphere is heavy and dense, and the pacing is almost painfully slow: at some points while reading it I had that feeling of trying to run in a dream, that I was turning the pages and not really getting anywhere. But while that might irritate some people, I found it added to the story - it's about grief and friendships and slow mental collapse, and those themes are entirely incompatible with a fast-paced narrative.

In the preface the narrator tells us that the diary is from 30 years ago, and as the book was published in 2002 that places it in the early 70s. For me this was a refreshingly different setting, and I don't think the story wouldn't have worked half as well if it had been set in the 2000s with the distractions of modern technology. The events needed to have some distance from reality in order to be effective, and this is achieved with the boarding school setting: the narrator makes the point several times that the girls feel cut off from the real world, that they can only function in their enclosed universe of the school. Talking about her own children in the afterword, the narrator says: "They've always been at home in the world. They don't know the pain and surprise of coming into it."

As somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to vampire literature, I immediately picked up on a lot of the elements are typical of vampire novels, such as a crumbling gothic setting, homoeroticism, eastern European ancestry - along with a general atmosphere of decadence and decay. Rachel Klein definitely draws on the old vampire tradition found in Polidori's The Vampyre, Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and Stoker's Dracula, rather than the more recent additions of deathly beautiful sparkly vegetarian vampires with superpowers. The relationship between vampire and victim is reminiscent of Carmilla in particular in that the vampire is able to integrate herself into society in order to prey on her victim, while the latter remains oblivious to these nightly visitations. Another similarity is that Ernessa is presented (although not exclusively) as a victim of her nature, rather than simply an evil parasite, in that at a certain point the narrator recognises her sadness that her immortality must bring. And of course, the name Ernessa is reminiscent of Carmilla, and of her aliases Mircalla and Millarca. There is also a very obvious reference to Dracula in the character of Lucy, as in Stoker's tale the Count's first victim is Lucy Westenra - as soon as I read that there was a character called Lucy I knew exactly where the story was going for her.

One of the things I often find irritating about vampire novels is that the main characters tend to take an awfully long time in realising that the shadowy character who doesn't eat or sleep and mysteriously disappears and reappears in strange places is, in fact, a vampire. Likewise, the entire vampire canon inexplicably ceases to exist. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's very much integrated into the plot of The Moth Diaries, as the narrator is taking a course on the supernatural in literature and it's through this that she reads Carmilla and really comes to terms with the fact that Ernessa is a vampire. However, the realisation doesn't have the shock factor that a lot of authors tend to give it - as is consistent with the atmosphere of slow doom and dreasd, it's recorded as more of an idle observation relatively early on, and the narrator is almost Hamletian in the way she doesn't act on this crucial piece of information until the very end of the book. Suspicious? Maybe.

But the main focus of the story is by no means a vampiric one. It's much more about friendships between girls and the anxieties of growing up, all exacerbated by the close-knit environment of the boarding school. A lot of the characters are what I think of as filler characters, they're only really there to move the plot along and make the school setting believable. Having said that, they are all intrinsically flawed and often very relatable - they struggle with the problems of teenage girls the world over. I really enjoyed the whole dynamic of friendships that was going on, especially the constant battle of wills between Ernessa and the narrator for Lucy's attention.

Now I love an unreliable narrator, and The Moth Diaries doesn't disappoint here. The hazy narration undercuts the entire story and makes us question its validity - the narrator tells us herself in the preface that she suffered from borderline personality disorder complicated by depression and psychosis, and it is up to the reader to decide how much of the story is true. The fact that the events are told through diary entries, which are by definition subjective and get gradually more abstract as the book goes on, also means we can never really know whether we're hearing the truth. In other reviews I've come across the idea that the character of Ernessa is a hallucination, or a projection of the narrator herself, but I'm not entirely convinced. I think it's more likely that the events are merely distorted by the narrator's overwhelming grief over her father's death, which she channels into her preoccupation with Ernessa and Lucy's friendship. But the descriptions of vampire attacks and Ernessa's growing influence over her victim is also very real - that said, perhaps the fact that the story mirrors Carmilla so closely from the point at which she reads the novella onwards is a clue that the vampire element is all in her head.

However you choose to interpret it, The Moth Diaries is a very important and interesting addition to the vampire canon. It is perhaps not for the faint-hearted: there are scenes that are disturbing and gruesome, not least because they come from our allegedly unbalanced narrator. But I think more than anything else, this novel captures what it is to be a teenage girl and all the passions and anxieties that entails.

Rating: 10/10

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Secondhand Book Haul

Bonjour,

Well well well, another book haul... Since I have SO MANY unread books I did kind of ban myself from buying any more until the end of the summer at least, but that quickly went out the window when a sudden desperate need to get out of the house and away from studying coincided with the biannual charity booksale at the English shop nearish to where I live.

I can usually happily spend a few hours scanning the crates of books for interesting titles, but it was so unbearably hot that I decided to call it a day after barely an hour. I still left with a considerable stack though! They're priced at 1€ per cm which is really quite excellent as you can get thinner books for a euro, and it all goes to charity anyway.

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

The blurb of The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite begins with the sentence 'decadent, tantalizing Berlin in a Germany torn apart by war at the turn of the twentieth century...' - honestly, what more could you want from a book? That alone won me over, but the actual plot looks interesting too: it's about an illegitimate orphaned girl who finds herself in the glamorous motion picture world and becomes a silent film star. I'm feeling a bit of a Valley of the Dolls vibe, but I could be totally wrong there.

Daughter of Fortune was kind of a spur of the moment buy in a 'is it historical fiction?' *grabs and adds to pile* kind of way, but I think I'll probably enjoy this. It's set in Chile in the 1830s and it's described as a 'rich adventure story', which is never a bad thing. I don't think I've actually read anything by Isabel Allende but I understand it she's meant to be a tip-top historical fiction writer so I'm totally up for this.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those books that has always been inexplicably on the edge of my literary knowledge, along with books like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Brave New World, neither of which I have read. I just feel like I've been aware of them for a long time, but never really bothered to find out much about. Anyway, the point is that I immediately recognised the title and decided I may as well bite the bullet and give it a try. The story seems pretty straightforward in that the title says it all, but I'm interested to see how it's executed.

Oh look... Could it possible be yet another Tudor historical fiction novel? I admit I picked this up purely because it has the word 'queen' in the title, and was filled with joy when I realised it's about Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. She's probably the one of his wives that I have the least number of books on, so of course I had to get this.

The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein
The Girl with the Painted Face by Gabrielle Kimm

My friend Elisha recommended The Moth Diaries to me a couple of years ago and I mentally added it to my 'to-buy' list, so I was thrilled to spot it. So far it's the only one from this lot that I've started, and I'm planning to review it when I've finished so I won't say too much here!

I picked up The Girl with the Painted Face because I read the title as The Girl with the Pearl Earring at first, which happens to be one of my favourite books. But this is set in Italy in 1582 and the main character is Sofia Genotti, a seamstress falsely accused of theft who joins a troupe of travelling actors to avoid being destitute. I think this appealed to me initially because I was still slightly in the English/theatre/acting zone from my exams but I know I will enjoy this a lot.

The Dark Heart of Florence by Michele Giuttari
The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

I spotted The Dark Heart of Florence at the absolute last minute and I'm glad I did because I'm planning on collecting all the books in this series. I have the second already (and I did a review of it here) and I loved it so I'd really like to get them all and read them in order. Set in Italy in the early 2000s, the series is written by the ex-head of the Florence Police Force Michele Giuttara, who manages to pack his books full of really authentic detail.

I have to be honest, I only picked up The Duchess because I was on the lookout for books with 'queen' and 'king' in the title, and I'm regretting it slightly because I'm fairly sure it's not actually fiction. I probably should have realised that from the blurb which reads slightly differently from your average historical fiction novel, but I saw the words 'a world of decadence and excess' and 'passionate but doomed love' and automatically added it to my pile. Either way, it does redeem itself slightly as it's signed by the author, which I always think is pretty cool. Whether I actually get round to reading this remains to be seen, but at least my collection of signed copies of books has grown by one.


x

Friday, 5 June 2015

A Spot of Photography

Bonjour,

Please excuse the lame title, I've been studying maths and biology all day so my creativity is at an all time low. Anyway. The other day while procrastinating and looking through old photos I rediscovered an entire folder of shots I had long forgotten, taken on my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition back in May 2013 while hiking round the Belgian Ardennes.

As usual, I had designated myself chief photographer and proceeded to take photos of pretty much everything - but for some reason I can't quite explain I had a personal mission to photograph as many crosses, chapels, churches, graveyards, cemeteries etc. as I could possibly find. This meant quick detours into neglected cemeteries while the others had a much needed break, and mad dashes up unnecessary hills to get a shot of a particular cross.

I really don't know what it is about religious monuments and buildings - I'm not religious in the slightest, but I think they can be so beautiful in a kind of dilapidated, eerie way, and I wish I could find out the story behind each one I came across and why it was put there in the first place.

Anyway, I found these again recently and thought I may as well share a few of the better ones here, since after a little editing they came out quite well (one day I'll learn that good photography is not just adjusting the brightness and putting the contrast up to max, but that day is not today).






x

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

New Look Poolside Picks

Bonjour,

Every time exams roll round I get an overwhelming urge to spend a few hours clearing out my entire wardrobe, get rid of a lot of stuff and then go shopping and spend a lot of money. But sadly what with revision I really don't have the time to spare, so until I'm free from exams I have to resign myself to browsing websites and imagining what I would buy. So since summer is close-ish, here are my poolside/beachwear picks from New Look:


Lilac Gingham Check Push Up Bikini Top / €22.99 x 
& High Waisted Bikini Bottoms / €14.99 x
I love this bikini for two reasons: firstly it's high waisted, which is a style I really like in bikinis, and secondly the gorgeous gingham print reminds me of something Lolita would wear!

Red Contrast Trim Amazonian Print Bikini Top / €22.99 x
& High Waisted Bikini Bottoms / €14.99 x
This one kind of reminds me of those crazy Hawaiian flower shirts and I also really like the slightly scuba effect (I think that's what it's called?) that the black trim adds

Black Floral Print Flounce Bikini Top / €22.99 x
& Cages Side High Waisted Bikini Bottoms / €14.99 x
This screenshot doesn't show it too well but I really love the cut out sections on the sides of the bottoms, not to mention the black floral print

Black Crochet Shorts / €17.99 x
I think these simple shorts would be ideal for just throwing on to go from the pool back indoors or at the beach, but I would probably wear them a lot just on everyday occasions in summer

Black Floral Print Caged Sandals / €22.99 x
I saw these sandals and fell in love, so I'm going to try and track them down when I next go shopping after my exams. I really like the slightly retro style, and put black florals on anything and for me you've got a winner!

Blue Strappy Ethnic Print Playsuit / €14.99 x
I love the casual, laidback fit of this - it looks breezy and perfect for just lounging around by the pool

Black Tile Print Kimono / €17.99 x
I've been meaning to get a coverup like this for ages, it just seems so practical to have around. I like the monochrome print and also the fact that it's long and flowy

2 Pack Blue Aztec Print Flip Flops / €7.99 x
I'm not particularly enamoured with that shade of blue, but I figured I had to include some flipflops in a pool/beach picks post. I always have a few cheap pairs lying around that I can destroy by walking around in a lot or getting them muddy, as well as an actually nice pair

Wide Fit Black Metal Trim T-Bar Strap Sandals / €9.99 x
I love this very simple style of sandal and I'm definitely going to invest in a pair before I go on holiday this year. It's nice to see some in black, as I feel like the overwhelming choice for summer is brown or tan, which I don't tend to wear much

Black Round Frame Sunglasses / €7.99 x
I love sunglasses, even though I don't wear them as much as I should. I usually go for really big frames so I'd like to change it up a bit and try a different shape

Black Textured Band Trim Floppy Hat / €14.99 x
I find the problem with taking hats on holiday is that they always get destroyed in your suitcase, but if this one survived I'd probably wear it a lot! Hats are really good for keeping your book in the shade when reading in the bright sunshine, not to mention protecting your head from the sun

And that's what I'd buy from New Look if I had the time and money to go!

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