Thursday, 29 December 2016

An Oddly Specific Tag

I haven't done a tag in a long time, mostly because I feel like it's sort of a cop-out post which is almost like cheating in the blogging world, but hey I find these posts interesting to read when other people do them so here you go!

What colour is your room?
My room at home has two dark pink walls and two white walls, my uni room is a sort of slightly boring cream colour but there's not much I can do about that.

What color is your bedding?
Currently at uni it's this lovely purple and turquoise floral number which I think was from Argos, at home it's my usual white and pink bedding which matches the walls and pretty much everything else in the room!

How many pillows do you sleep with?
I usually have two while I'm just lying in bed reading or on my phone but just before I go to sleep I tend to switch to one.

What time do you go to sleep?
It really depends on the day but usually between 11:30 and 2am. If I'm asleep before 11pm it's an absolute miracle and I'm probably ill or something.

What time do you wake up in the morning?
Again it depends but the earliest I really need to wake up (i.e. for a 9am lecture) is 7:30, and I tend to wake up naturally before 10am without even setting an alarm. Although having said that I've been waking up at more like 11am these past few days at home but then it's Christmas so it doesn't count.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Cheerios and a glass of milk, same as usual. I keep meaning to make something more substantial for breakfast like pancakes or eggs but I can never be bothered when it comes down to it.

What time is it right now?

What is the latest you have stayed up?
When I went to Iceland with school our flight was leaving at like 3am or something stupid so we didn't bother going to bed, and then when I got home I just carried on with the day - so I suppose the latest I've ever stayed up is the following evening?

What is the latest you have woken up?
Probably around 1pm after DofE or some other equally horrific occasion.

Do you have plants in your room? If so, how many?
I have a few little cacti on my windowsill at home (which my mum was meant to be taking care of but they look suspiciously dead/dying) but sadly none at uni yet.

Do you have candles in your room? If so, what scents?
Nope! Pretty sure they would set off the smoke alarm if I lit any. Also I don't trust myself with matches.

Do you have posters in your room?
At home I don't actually have anything blu-tacked to the wall because I don't want to risk damaging the paintwork, but at uni I have a world map (and a massive photowall!). I just got a scratch world map for Christmas where you scratch off all the countries you've been to and I think I'm going to take that back to uni as well.

What is your favorite thing in your room?
I suppose my laptop? But obviously that's portable, in terms of things which are fixed in my room I really love my massive bookshelf at home.

What type of toothpaste do you use?

What type of toothbrush do you use?
I use an electric one, I think it's Oral-B.

How many times a day do you brush your teeth?
At least twice, sometimes more.

How many times a day do you wash your face?
Twice a day.

When was the last time you took a shower and washed your hair?
I took a shower last night but I didn't wash my hair, I did that the night before. I'm trying to wash my hair less because it's better for it and it means the colour doesn't wash out as quickly but unfortunately I can't stand it when my hair is the slightest bit greasy!

Do you wear makeup? If so, how often?
I wear something pretty much every day, usually concealer, eyebrows and mascara at the bare minimum. If I'm actually going out somewhere (like lectures lol) I usually put on eyeliner, blush and lipstick as well, and then if I'm going to a nice event I wear foundation, eyeshadow and highlighter as well. So it all depends really!

When was the last time you wore something fancy?
I went to a Christmas formal dinner in the last week of term and I wore quite a fancy-looking dress for that - but little did everyone know it was actually £3 in the Primark sale!

What are you wearing right now?
Black leggings and a white top.

How much data have you used on your phone recently?
Since the 7th of December I've used 278 MB, but I can only use that in the UK so none of that has been since I got back on the 17th.

What is your most used app?
Is there a way to check this on your phone? According to battery usage it's YouTube but that's only cos I watched a lot of videos on it last night which I don't normally do, so apart from that either Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.

What type of phone do you have?
iPhone 6 cos I'm basic like that.

Who was the last person you actually called and talked to?
Probably my mum or grandad.

Do you have snapchat? If so, what is your longest streak?
Yes! I actually don't snapchat individual people that much, I just tend to post to my story so probably not very long.

What is your favorite song by your least favorite band?
I don't particularly have a least favourite band, or at least not one I can think of right now.

What is your least favorite song by your favorite band?
I'm going to pretend Marina & the Diamonds is a band here (because it sounds like she should be even though she isn't) and say Hermit the Frog.

Have you ever told anybody a secret of yours?

What do you have on copy and paste right now?
These questions! So I'm not going to post them haha.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Life Update

Whoops would you look at that, somehow Christmas is over and it's already that slightly surreal period in the year where everyone is just waiting for the New Year to roll around and I still haven't published a post-first term blog post! Well obviously I have now that you're reading this but you know what I mean.

So yes, it's the end of another term and I'm finally back home recovering from the past few months, enjoying the Christmas period and trying to catch up on some reading in between Christmas TV and spending time with my family (which itself usually involves watching TV). It seems to me that I'm doomed never to simply have a boring drama-free term at uni: instead, it's always full of ups and downs in the form of absolute highlights and rock-bottom moments. When I'm at university I seem to experience everything in extremes, which is draining for someone like me who's an introverted perfectionist at the best of times. I suppose my uni years are just turning out to be a metaphor for life, which comes as a shock after years of living comfortably and averagely. But even though I'm getting quite accustomed to all the #drama, somehow it makes it all worth it that at the same time I've also had some wonderful days and unforgettable moments and ultimately made more friends than I've lost. It's definitely a goal of mine for 2017 to keep things in perspective and remember that I need to keep seeing the bigger picture and not let the extremes go out of focus.

On the plus side in academic terms things are going swimmingly, although I may regret saying that in a couple of months's time! But for the moment it's been great, as since I don't have to take any horrible physical geography modules I can now devote my full attention to studying things I actually care about. Part of this has involved the rediscovery that I actually really love learning: I love the challenge of not understanding something immediately and then going away and learning about it and gaining new perspectives only to come back with my own critical views on the subject. Also, the type of geography that I'm studying is really very close in subject matter to a lot of 'social justice' topics you see in non-mainstream news channels. Case in point: while scrolling through twitter the other night I came across an article from a feminist news site which essentially utilised and modernised the argument of an article from the early 90s that I was reading at the time. On that note I have resurrected my twitter to use for 'serious' academic purposes which means I'm following all my lecturers and interesting academic and news-related accounts and I just retweet stuff I find interesting. So please feel free to follow me if you like that sort of thing!

Anyway, I think that's all I have to say for the moment. In a couple of days I'm off back to England to see family and then back home for a week or so before I go back to uni for next term!


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Fashion Fancies: Audrey Horne

Hold onto your hats because it's been a ridiculous 14 months since my last fashion fancies post! What happened - I hear you ask - and the truth is I don't know, I suppose I just ran out of inspiration and other things got in the way. But this post has been lurking in my drafts on Polyvore for months so I thought it was about time I published it! If you don't know what this is about, basically I take a historical or fictional character and come up with a few outfits that I imagine they would wear and the situations they would wear them in. In the past I've done Catherine Howard, Cathy Dollanganger, Wednesday Addams, Mia Thermopolis, Dolores Haze and Sylvia Plath, but today I would like to turn my attention to possibly the most stylish of my favourite female characters of all time: none other than Audrey Horne.

I only watched Twin Peaks for the first time over Easter this year but since then I have been constantly rewatching it and I think I must have seen the whole series all the way through at least 7-8 times now. There are honestly no words to describe how much I love this series: I love the storyline, a sort of murder-mystery in a small town type thing but so so much more; I love the characters, who are all so real and alive (apart from Laura Palmer obviously); I love the atmosphere, how it's set in a town nestled in the woods where a certain evil lives; I love the absolutely hauntingly beautiful music; I love the authentic 90s fashion; I could go on and on! (please note there will be spoilers)

But one of my favourite things about the series is the character of Audrey Horne, and specifically her character development. At the beginning of season one she's seen as a troublemaker and deliberately ruins one of her father's business deals for attention, not to mention tries to seduce an FBI agent and infiltrates a brothel to help him with his investigation. As the series go on she finds love elsewhere and becomes a social activist, committing an act of disobedience in the name of the local environment.

1. Date Night
I imagine this is something Audrey would wear on a romantic date with Agent Cooper or John Wheeler, perhaps to a fancy restaurant in the town. The dress also reminds me of what she wears when she infiltrates (and ends up getting trapped in) One Eyed Jack's but we'll gloss over those episodes because they upset me. Basically this outfit is full on timeless glam and the colour is so Audrey it hurts.

2. Audrey's Dance
For me this outfit sums up Audrey's everyday style in one look. The colours are muted and complement each other but there are little touches like the neckline and heart-shaped sunglasses which express her personality. And of course there's a plaid skirt involved! To sum it up: 90s fashion at its best.

3. School Day
One of my favourite scenes with Audrey is the school bathroom scene near the beginning of the series - not only is it unbelievably aesthetically pleasing it's also a lovely interaction between Donna and Audrey, who are later revealed to be half-sisters. This is nothing like what she wears in that scene but I think the 'school vibe' does serve to remind us that for all her glamour, sophistication and worldly ways Audrey is still only a high school student and teenager trying to find her place in the world. The saddle shoes are a reference to another iconic school scene too!

4. Detective Work
Throughout the first half of the series Audrey tries to help both Cooper and Donna Hayward find out the identity of Laura Palmer's killer, and her adventures take her to increasingly seedy places. I think this outfit has little touches which recall stereotypical detective attire (like the hat and trench coat) but with a modern, feminised twist. It's simple, practical and stylish, and note the little coffee cup pin!


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Just #DurhamThings

Somehow it's already November and I'm well into Michaelmas term, as is starkly evident by the number of assignments that are suddenly being thrown my way. Having said that uni is going pretty well: this year is so much more interesting in terms of what modules I'm taking so I'm actually motivated to do all the reading (or at least as much as I can get through), and as a result I'm enjoying it a lot more and managing to keep up with things a bit better.

Being back in Durham is also really lovely, I feel like it's definitely becoming 'my' city but I'm still discovering new things every day. For instance I'm a big fan of the bus system - I'd never used it until the beginning of this term but now I spend a lot of time pootling back and forth across the city and looking wistfully out of the window. On one of these trips the other day I started mentally listing some funny little idosyncracies of student life in Durham so I thought I'd share them here - so at risk of sounding like a Buzzfeed article, here are some things that anyone who goes to Durham will be all to familiar with:

  1. Feeling your spirits lift when you see the cathedral rising over the skyline
  2. Risking your life crossing Stockton Road on the red man when you're late to a lecture
  3. Knowing you have to hate on Castle and Hatfield but not quite knowing why
  4. Forgetting to factor in hill slope and incline when planning your walking route
  5. Thanking your lucky stars your department isn't based in Stockton
  6. Having to walk single file along Church Street or else risk having a limb removed by the X12
  7. Trying (and failing) to convince people that Doxbridge is a thing
  8. Dressing up on a night out and knowing full well you look like a local
  9. Not believing Hilde-Bede exists until you have to walk past it every day in second year
  10. Avoiding North Road after dark if at all possible
  11. Never knowing which way to go to get to the Calman café when you enter the building
  12. Having to explain college families to non-Durham people
  13. The horror of knowing you could end up living in Gilesgate unless you get housing sorted asap
  14. The even bigger horror of potentially living in Dragonville
  15. Avoiding going up to the cathedral tower or else risk not getting your degree
  16. Knowing that whatever happens, college is somewhere you'll always feel at home


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

University Room Tour

My room is hands down my favourite thing about my second year at uni so far so of course I had to do a room tour to show it to you, especially now I've more or less finished the decorating process. Compared to my tiny little room in college last year (see my room tour for that here) it's a real luxury as it has actual space and a double bed, so I've tried to do it justice with my little decorative bits and bobs and, of course, photos galore.

This is the view from the doorway as you walk in, I think it's really attractive and welcoming with plenty of colour. The furniture provided was just a bed, desk, desk chair and the huge wardrobe in the back so as you can see I've added to it - I got a rug, a little bookcase and a bedside table which you'll see in the other pics.

This is my little desk area. Unfortunately the desk is pretty small, way smaller than the one I had last year which could fit my printer on it comfortably and had plenty of room left over for me to spread out all my books and papers - hence why my printer is on the floor. I've got my world map on the wall for when I need that geographical inspiration, and when my command strips arrive in the post I'm planning to put my pinboard on the wall too. 

At the moment I just have some essential bits and bobs on my desk, like some pots of pens, a desk light and and a file organiser. I think it's going to be essential to keep the space clear as much as possible, given there's so little of it!

Now we move over to my bed area, where I've got a little bedside table unit from IKEA and a lamp from Argos (which was super cheap! Around £3 I think). The windowsill is where I'm keeping my framed photos and also makeup as there's a handy full-length mirror just out of shot. My duvet cover is from Primark, which is also where I got the matching throw!

The room had curtains up when I moved in but I decided to take them down and store them away as there's a blind anyway and they were sort of in the way. Of course this meant I had a random curtain pole to do something with, and I thought it was the perfect place to put my fluffy pink fairy lights up - plus the mirror is a handy spot to perch the battery pack.

Above my bed is my little photowall, which I'm hoping to add to this year! I was originally going to do a washing line display with string and mini pegs but I thought this simple arrangement looked much more clean and effective.

I decided to buy this little bookcase as there wasn't much in the way of what I call display shelving (i.e. places to put books and decorative bits) and it was only £20 from Argos, which I think is well worth it even if I can't take it home with me at the end of the year. I decided to get it in black so it would match the desk because coordinated furniture pleases me immensely. So far I've just got a few books and DVDs, some tech bits, folders and some photos on the top.

Finally here's the huge wardrobe which is basically the width of the whole room! There's SO much storage space in here which is excellent because I can just cram all sorts of stuff in there and pull the door across to hide it.

To create more small shelves I bought this blue hanging thing from IKEA which is basically where I'm keeping all my clothes. Underwear, tights and pyjamas are in the drawers on the right and I've got the middle shelf set up as a sort of dressing table area with jewellery and some more makeup. Then shoes are on the floor in the wardrobe, cardigans are hanging in the narrow bit above my laundry bag, and dresses, skirts and coats are in the other half of the wardrobe which is a mirror image of the side you can see.

And that's my room! I really love it, I think I've made it my own without spending too much or making any huge/irreversible changes which would lose me my deposit. I'm looking forward to living here for the next year!


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Another Fashion Haul

So I'm back at university and although lectures don't start till Monday it feels good to get back in the swing of things. There's something about the walk into town on a crisp autumn day and seeing the cathedral tower rising up over the rows of houses that truly lifts my spirits, but it's also comforting to come back to a city I know instead of starting in a new place like I was this time last year. The major difference this year is that I'm living in a student house which so far has been a really lovely experience, it's so nice to have a big space to live in instead of a tiny room in halls - not to mention a pretty decent-sized TV and a lovely bathroom!

On the drive up my dad and I stopped off at Bluewater for a bit of a shopping spree and of course I bought a few things. Unfortunately the big H&M was closed for refurbishment and Forever 21 was 50% off the whole store (which sounds good but it was an absolute tip, full of summer stuff and impossible to find anything), but I still managed to spend quite a bit of time and money in New Look. I also got a couple of things in the H&M here in Durham so I thought it was probably time for another haul post, even though my last one wasn't too long ago.

Striped 3/4 length sleeve top from New Look, £8.99
Checked shirt from New Look, £22.99
Striped top from H&M, £7.99

Okay so I realise these might all look very similar but believe me, they aren't. The one on the left is from New Look and it's just a really nice super soft top with dark red stripes which totally match my hair now it's red again. It's one of those really easy to wear pieces that go with a lot of things so I'm hoping it'll become one of my wardrobe staples. The shirt is also from New Look and I really love it - you can't see too well on the photo but it has a sort of twisted fabric thing going on at the bottom so you can't wear it like a cardigan but it's another effortless top that I think will look so good with plain black leggings or jeans. Finally I got this red and blue striped white top from H&M because lets face it, you can never have too many striped tops! I tried this on with blue jeans in the shop and it looked so good as the blue basically matched, I had to get it.

Green corduroy skirt from New Look, £9.99
White trainers from New Look, £17.99
Black suede skirt from H&M, £14.99
Black bag from Forever 21, £7.50

The skirt on the left is actually a really dark green and I just fell in love with it. It was from the 915 section of New Look which I'm really glad I can still fit into (this was an age 12 lol) as the stuff from there is always slightly cheaper. I'd been looking for white trainers for a while but could never find quite the right ones, so I was happy to come across these in New Look - yes I know they're basic af but I need more practical footwear for the colder seasons, especially now I'm living so far away from where I have lectures. The other skirt is a lovely soft imitation suede material and I think it'll just be really handy and go with everything, plus I'll be able to dress it up or down. Last but not least, the bag was the only thing I managed to pick up in Forever 21 but it's really nice, it has two pockets which are just big enough to fit your iPhone in one and some money and your keys in the other so it's perfect for a night out (not that I do much of that) or just any occasion when you don't want to be carrying a big bag.

And that's all I got!


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Secondhand Book Haul

The other weekend I went to a secondhand book sale at my local English shop. As usual I picked up a massive stack of books and on further reflection ended up putting about half back, but I still came away with a good selection which I'm going to show you today. I know I'm always enthusiastic about books but trust me, there are some real corkers in here!

According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge
This is a curious little book but somehow it drew me in, I think because of the front cover which is really quite lovely with the rose gold lettering. Set in Georgian London and about the high society of the day, this book is apparently "a story of unrequited love, passion, rejection and possession" so I have high hopes.

I, Mona Lisa by Jeanna Kalogridis
For some reason this rang a bell (I think I saw it on Goodreads or something?) so I picked it up and knew right away it was a winner. It's set in fifteenth century Florence and is, unsurprisingly, a story about Mona Lisa and Leonardo da Vinci. I really love historical fiction from this period, especially when it's set in Italy and especially when it includes well-known characters so I know I'm going to like this.

The Trespass by Barbara Ewing
This intrigued me because I'm not crazy about Victorian historical fiction, but for some reason I felt drawn to it and ended up getting it. It's set in London in 1849 in the middle of a cholera epidemic and is about the daughter of an eminent MP who gets sent away to the countryside for her safety. This is probably quite morbid of me but I do like books about epidemics and disease, it's all quite horrific and thrilling and you know there's going to be at least one dramatic death.

Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson
I was so excited when I spotted this because I love Sylvia Plath and I've been developing a taste for biographies lately so really this is the perfect combination. As far as I can tell it's about her early life, which is interesting, and it draws on interviews with people Plath knew, which is fascinating - this is going to have pride of place in the Plath section of my bookshelf for sure.

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
This book is about a three hundred and eighty-four year old witch, which by definition means it's going to become one of my favourites. I can only take fantasy in small doses but this kind of mixture of historical fiction and fantasy is just my cup of tea so I'm excited to read this. The Lost Book of 

Salem by Katherine Howe
To be honest I didn't even read the blurb of this one before I bought it (I just saw the word 'Salem' and lunged for it) but it looks promising because it's another good old historical-fiction-fantasy blend. It's about a woman who, while clearing out her grandmother's cottage, finds an old parchment relating to the infamous Salem witch trials and uncovers her family's connection to them.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
I recently read Sarah Waters' book The Paying Guests and LOVED it so I've been keen to get my hands on other books she's written. I've heard lots of good things about Fingersmith too - it's set in London in 1862 and seems to have an Oliver Twist vibe to it as it's about an orphan who grows up among petty thieves.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Another Sarah Waters one which I was thrilled to spot. This is set in wartime Britain and - according to the blurb - moves backwards through the 1940s to end with its beginning in 1941, which seems like an original idea so I'm interested to see how/if the author pulls that one off.

The Lost World by Michael Crichton
It's no secret that I love all things Jurassic Park, but I especially love the book and I've been meaning to get the sequel for some time now. Unfortunately this is one of those situations in which I've seen the film before reading the book, but I'm just going to hope that there's a lot more to the book than the film which is definitely the case in the first installment. 

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
Last but not least... I'm always on the lookout for Agatha Christies when I go to booksales like these because I'm trying to collect all her books - unfortunately I only found one this time but fortunately it was one I haven't got yet so of course I picked it up. I was sorry to find out that this isn't a Hercule Poirot one but I'm definitely going to read it anyway next time I'm in a murder mystery mood.

And that's all I got!


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Fashion Haul: H&M and Asos

Lately I've been doing a bit of shopping in anticipation of the return of chilly weather and going back to university. Autumn/winter is definitely my favourite time of year to shop because I love winter dresses and thick cardigans and hats and scarves and wearing things with tights - it's so satisfying to add bits and pieces to my winter wardrobe. First I made a trip to my local H&M and then I decided to order some things off Asos, hence why the items here are in two currencies so I hope that doesn't bother you - I spend my life converting from € to £ and vice-versa so I hardly notice it any more! 

Mustard Checked Shirt from H&M, €14.99

I'm obsessed with this colour at the moment as I think it's perfect for autumn and I was actually on the lookout for the cardigan in this colour that I included in my recent H&M picks, but sadly no luck. I kept spotting something in the right colour and hurtling across the shop only to find that it was just a jumper or some other kind of top, and never exactly the cardigan I wanted *sigh*. But during the hunt I did come across this shirt which I really really like, it's super soft and made of organic cotton, plus I also bought some plain blue jeans (not shown here because I couldn't work out how to photograph them) which look amazing with this shirt buttoned up and tucked into them.

Plain White Top from H&M, €14.99

This is just a really simple (slightly creased) white top which I think will come in handy in all sorts of clothing situations. I bought it intending to wear it under the green pinafore (see below) but when I got it home I realised it would go well under dungarees, tucked into shorts or jeans or just with a patterned skirt - basically a super versatile piece! 

Striped Top from H&M, €9.99

I love stripes and especially striped tops as I think they're simple and classic and also so on trend right now. I especially like the colours in this one which, again, are perfect for autumn. The fabric of this top is amazing too, it's lightweight and stretchy and bouncy so I feel like it's also a really easy to wear item that could go with lots of things.

Sushi Jumper from H&M, €9.99

I couldn't resist this jumper because look at it, it has tiny sushi rolls with faces! My mum says it makes me look about fourteen but I am totally OK with that if it means I can wear a sushi-adorned jumper and wear it I shall. I think this would be nice just over jeans or leggings as a really cosy and comfy outfit. I also like that it's thin material because I'm quite sensitive to temperature and I get hot easily even in winter, so I usually steer clear of big thick jumpers.

Green Pinafore from Asos, £15

Onto the Asos purchases... First I got this dark green pinafore dress. I've been meaning to get one like this for ages but I could only seem to find denim ones so I was thrilled to come across this one. It's a really nice stretchy cottony fabric and it fits well (I had to put a ruler in the waistband to give it some structure for this photo haha). I'm planning to wear this with little stripy cropped tops or the plain white one above.

Striped Dress from Asos, £17

This isn't the most flattering dress in the world but I'm willing to bet it's one of the comfiest! It's a really nice cotton material and very simple in the shape and cut of it, so perfect for lounging around and just wearing with tights and trainer-type shoes. Also, stripes!

Space Pyjamas from Asos, £20

Finally I got this pyjama set which I LOVE to bits. At the beginning of the summer I treated myself to some really nice Disney princess (The Little Mermaid, to be precise) short pyjamas from Topshop and I've worn them all summer so I wanted to invest in a similar second pair. I love the slogan on this and the pattern on the shorts, it's very me!

And that's all I got!


Thursday, 29 September 2016

My Pet Peeves

Do you ever get really irritated by certain things? Just little seemingly trivial actions or habits that most people probably don't think twice about, but which set your teeth on edge and make you want to scream under your breath? I've realised lately that a lot of things annoy me no end so I thought I'd do a post about my pet peeves in the hope that writing them out will cure me, or at least help me to rise above it slightly.

People who use their phones while watching a movie. Literally this is the most annoying thing ever. I'm not even talking about using your phone in the cinema (which is extremely distracting), I just mean when you're watching something with friends or family at home and people start texting or scrolling through Facebook in the middle of watching the thing. I don't have a problem with just quickly checking your emails or Instagram notifications or whatever, it's more when people start texting or messaging someone or doing anything else that makes it clear they aren't paying attention that bugs me. When I watch a film (even one I've seen before) I like to be 100% engrossed in it and comment on things to the people I'm watching it with, so I find it really irritating when the other people clearly aren't concentrating on the plotline because they're so distracted by their phones. Argh even just thinking about this is making me angry!

When people describe everything as cute. Kittens are cute. Puppies are cute. Babies are (mostly) cute. But you know what isn't cute? That top you bought or those jeans or that pair of ballet flats. Argh when will it end?? It annoys me so much when people (mostly YouTubers, but some people irl are guilty of this too) refer to literally EVERYTHING as cute or adorable when in reality it's just a really nice top or whatever - please enlarge your vocabulary and stop using an adjective intended to describe something sweet, youthful, pretty, dainty or quaint to describe a skirt.

When Americans talk about 'Europe'. As in 'I'm going to Europe on vacation this summer' or 'When I was in Europe...'. Unless you're doing a full-blown tour of the entire continent, do you mean France or Romania? Dorset or the Costa Blanca? Berlin or Athens? I hate to break it to you but Europe is not a country, it is in fact a continent containing many countries, a lot of which have their own cultures and identities and are generally extremely different from one another. But no, Americans have this habit of lumping them together and referring to them collectively - please, be more specific. I'm aware that we 'Europeans' tend to do this too when we talk about 'America', but assuming we mean it as an abbreviated form of 'the United States of America' I don't think that's nearly as bad, given that technically it is all one country with one language and culture.

The huge fuss that people make over Halloween. Ok, so according to the origins of the day (a time to remember the departed and traditionally when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest) Halloween is supposed to be scary, haunting and generally fear-inducing. Accordingly, for me 'dressing up' has always involved some sort of scary outfit, like a witch or a ghost or a vampire, and (when I was little) being dared to do things like run around the shed at the bottom of the garden in the middle of the night. But lots of people seem to interpret Halloween as 'dress up as anything you like' which of course you can, no one's stopping you, but in my opinion it loses the essence and the meaning behind the celebration. Dressing up as any old random thing is what you do on Carnival or an equivalent celebration, not on Halloween!

When people deny climate change. Alright so this went from petty to serious real quick and possibly this doesn't count as a 'peeve' but it really really makes me angry when people try to deny that climate change is a thing. I'm currently doing an online course with the Open University that's mostly about inequality (economic, social, gender etc.) but in the comments on one of the stages some idiot had written a whole comment about how he didn't believe in 'global warming' because his mother lives in Russia and says it's actually getting colder there *facepalm*. Which of course I responded too with a paragraph about how climate change is actually affecting the world because I'm a geography student and we live and breathe this stuff.

Unnecessary commenters. This is quite a specific one but it's linked to my last peeve so bear with. The course I'm doing is made up of various steps which you have to complete before you can move onto the next one and at the bottom of each step is a comments section. Now sometimes the step is meant to be a discussion or debate so the whole point is to post in the comments, but there are an awful lot of people who seem to feel the need to post the most banal and unnecessary things on every single step. What, I ask you, is the point of posting 'I found this interesting' or 'very good article' every single time? You don't get points for commenting and no one cares if you found it good or interesting, you're clogging up the comments section and making it more difficult to find out if people have in fact written anything of value. I'm not saying people don't have the right to comment because clearly they do; if you do find something interesting, fair enough, but why not explain why and elaborate a bit more rather than just posting the same thing as a hundred other commenters?! Like I said this is quite a specific case because here there is no value to pointless comments, whereas on other platforms such as YouTube clearly any kind of positive comment is going to encourage the creator and make their efforts worthwhile.

Whoops, this turned into a mini rant post, sorry! Turns out I have a lot of things I needed to get off my chest, but hopefully now they're out there in the ether I can move on. Do you have any pet peeves?


Monday, 26 September 2016

Instafaves #4

I haven't done an instafaves in what seems like ages so I thought it was about time for me to share my current favourite instagram accounts with you once again (you can see part onetwo and three here). I've really been loving instagram lately and I find myself being more and more inspired every day by the multitude of posts that pop up there. I love how versatile it is as a creative platform and I think it's definitely moved on from its original intention as just an image-hosting app to share your holiday snaps - there's so much more you can achieve with social media, especially visual forms like this, from advertising to sharing artwork. I've become slightly obsessed with the 'theme' of my own account lately, and I spend an embarrassing amount of time carefully cultivating my feed and making sure everything I upload works together harmoniously - I kind of wish I could be more carefree about what I choose to put on the internet but that's my artistic/perfectionistic tendencies coming out I'm afraid! Anyway, without further ado here are some of the instagram accounts I've been loving lately.

Sophie Engels // sophievstheuniverse 

Sophie is a 19-year-old girl from the Netherlands who has some amazing photography skills and posts a lot of arty, slightly vintage and hipster-esque pics. I'm obsessed with her style and the fun adventuring days out she seems to do all the time with her friends and family, plus I also wish I had her luck in thrift shops.

Manisha // manishathill

Manisha used to go to my school a few years ago and somehow I ended up following her on instagram and other social media sites. She currently lives in Barbados which means her feed is full of tropical beaches, lush palm trees and carnival photos and let me tell you, it's stunning and makes me want to move to the Caribbean (even though I actually hate the heat ahaha).

Rachel Marie // r_achelmarie

I follow Rachel's fabby blog (Rachel Coco) as well as her insta, where she keeps her feed perfectly balanced with high-contrast mostly black and white pictures and pops of colour. Rachel is a big fan of Starbucks, shopping and pretty architecture (as am I) so her account always makes me feel calm and relaxed when I scroll through it.

I don't know anything about this girl other than the fact that her username is awesome and her feed is to die for. She has super cool purple hair, likes plants and wears a lot of denim and mustard yellow - her outfit posts are perennially on point and she has wicked art skills and an unbelievably pretty bedroom. Go follow her if you don't already. Nuff said.

Katrina Kalamar // katrinakalamar

I've been following Katrina (of on the internet since her preppy Polyvore days but those times are long gone, as you'll see from her instagram feed which is an eclectic mix of architecture, effortlessly casual flatlays, selfies and basically just cool stuff which somehow works together. I don't know how she pulls it off but she does and it's a delight to scroll through.

Please go ahead and check out this fab people and follow them if you like what you see!


Friday, 23 September 2016

Decorating Your (Uni) Room on a Budget

A new academic year is just around the corner and for me that means living in a student house instead of in college (aka halls) and also the extremely exciting opportunity to decorate my new bedroom. I did my best to make my room in college pretty and personal by putting up posters, photos and fairy lights but given that it was so small and had a lot of storage and shelving built in there was only so much I could do, whereas my new room is a lot bigger and barer so it's a real blank canvas.

It's been a long process of gradually buying bits and pieces and trying to bring it all together coherently (and it's a process which is still ongoing since I have a whole load of stuff at home than I'm going to take with me when I go) so I thought I would put together a post on how to decorate a uni bedroom to impart my wisdom and generally explain how I've been going about it. A lot of this can be applied to any bedroom but I'm focusing on a university room which assumes there is some basic furniture provided (i.e. a bed, desk and wardrobe) and that you have limited scope when it comes to how much you're allowed to do to it (i.e. no painting or major adjustments). The emphasis is on how to do it on a budget because lets face it, your student loan has to cover other things like food and ridiculously expensive textbooks. Also, this isn't a room tour because I'm not in my uni house at the moment but I'm definitely planning on doing one when I get there!

Gotta love Pintrest

Get inspired. There's so much you can do to brighten up even the most drab uni bedroom and it definitely doesn't need to involve spending a fortune. Pintrest is ideal for providing visual inspiration for themes and colour schemes as well as ideas for DIYs so it's a great place to start looking - check out my 'bedroom' board, for example. Another place I often find inspiration is IKEA, particularly the showroom section where they have all the rooms set up because it helps to see ideas in the flesh and they're designed to make the best use of a small space. I also really like watching room/house tours on YouTube because I can do it without leaving my bed - as I mentioned in my summer favourites I've been loving Gabbie's (aka velvetgh0st) vlogs and videos and I really like her taste in homeware and the way she decorates her flat(s).

Plan it. If you're like me and you love shopping and homeware it's tempting to rush out and buy all sorts of stuff but it's so much more cost effective to sit down and really plan your room. Obviously it's helpful if you already know what the space looks like because you know what you've got to work with, but even if you haven't seen it there's a lot you can think about to start off with. The first thing to do is to decide if you want to have a particular theme or colour scheme because then you can have something to focus on while shopping. For my uni room I've decided to go with a dark pink, purple and turquoise colour scheme where possible, mostly because those are my favourite colours and also as it's relatively easy to find things in those colours - but I'm not sticking too it too rigidly. Theme-wise I've always thought it would be nice to do a sort of wanderlust thing as it would be quite easy to achieve: think maps on the wall, travel photos displayed, unfinished wood decorations and vintage-effect storage boxes.

Budget. There's no point spending a fortune on luxury furniture or decorative items if you're only living there for a year, so buy stuff that can be used again at some point in your life or that it won't matter too much if you have to leave behind. It's important to balance the potential cost with how committed you are to making your room look a particular way.

My uni bedroom last year

Make a shopping list. To start off with decide what you need aka things that are actually necessities. Some basic items which I think are essential for every bedroom include bed linen (duh), a desk lamp, storage boxes and a small bin/wastepaper basket. Once you have these essentials it's time to start thinking about things you want, by which I mean decorative items such as photo frames, ornaments and posters because it's all about achieving a balance between practicality and aesthetics.

Use what you have. Even if you don't hoard everything away 'just in case' *ahem* you've probably got some stuff which could be upcycled, repurposed or just plain borrowed. Odd sets of Christmas lights that aren't used all year round can become a set of fairy lights would around a curtain pole or draped over a wardrobe, while anything can be brightened up and given a new lease of life with a lick of paint including furniture and storage boxes. For instance, I'm planning to paint a wooden box that my grandad made for my mum's bedroom when she was little and use it as a bedside table! It's worth asking around to see what family and friends are hoarding away and would part with because you never know what you might find.

Buy from the right places. This goes hand in hand with budgeting, but do your research into where you can get the things you want for the price you want. I've found that Argos's ColourMatch range is brightly coloured and brilliant value for everything from rugs to lamps; Primark Home can be great for bright and fun duvet covers, quirky ornaments and little sets of fairy lights; and lets be real, IKEA is always a good idea, especially for furniture and storage solutions. Plus, don't discount places like Wilko and Poundland for basic things like cushions, and charity shops or car boot sales for unique vintage items with extra thrift factor.

My favourite way to display photos

Be creative. It's so easy to add a personal touch to a room with minimal cost and maximal effect. My number one tip is to print out photos! I do this using photo printing websites (Photobox and Lalalab are my favourites) but you can do it at home too providing you have photo paper and permission to use all of the printer ink. Then the possibilities are endless: frame them, use blu-tak to create a photowall, arrange them in a pattern, or use string and pegs (these ones are an ideal size) to make a 'washing-line' of snaps to a wall. You could also create a display wall or pinboard of things that inspire you, a sort of collage of prints, posters, photos, postcards, magazine pages - anything that will make an impact. If blu-tak isn't strong enough an alternative is command strips (which I am fully intending to buy because it actually says I can use them in my house contract so I'll blame it on that if they take the paint off, but hopefully they won't).

And that's it! Maybe all this stuff is completely obvious but I just really love decorating things and making my bedroom look nice - I hope someone found it helpful!


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

H&M Delicate Lace Picks

While I was browsing the H&M website the other day I was struck by the abundance of pretty pastel pieces adorned with lace and bows and all things delicate and beautiful, and I was inspired to create a little collection of themed 'picks' with the items I found. I tend to wear a lot of dark colours all year round so this isn't my usual style at all, but there was something oddly appealing about these pretty little tops and dresses and I kept coming across more and more of them - which was refreshing considering the current 90s revival which is at the opposite end of the fashion spectrum. I think they have a touch of Victorian charm with the lace collars and gently pleated skirts, but with a modern twist which totally brings them up to date. I couldn't help thinking of Elizabeth (of "Ice Cream" whispers Clara) whose gorgeous romantic style and aesthetic I have admired for many years, first on Stardoll way back in the day and later on her beautiful blog and instagram - check her out for more pretty blog posts and outfits!

Sleeveless dress, £24.99 // x
This dress is so simple and effortlessly romantic, I love it. It has a lovely old-fashioned feel and looks like something my grandma might have worn as a little girl growing up in the 1940s - in the best possible way, of course.

Embroidered dress, £24.99 // x
I'm a sucker for dresses with long sleeves and I wear them throughout the winter even on the coldest days. I sense a potential issue with wearing this dress with tights (dark tights under a light dress never looks good in my opinion) but I'm sure that could be got around - like with knee socks, for instance - and it would be totally worth it for the beautiful embroidered detailing.

Playsuit with lace, £19.99 // x
Okay so this does look kind of like (somewhat skimpy) pyjamas but in the vein of spaghetti strap slip dresses I'm sure you could get away with it as outerwear in hot weather. I really love the colour of this playsuit, I just wish I had the boobs to pull it off!

Embroidered blouse, £19.99 // x
This top is similar to the pink dress in the embroidery but I think the contrasting panel adds something extra and super cute. It makes me think of something a doll would wear, especially with the colour palette and little collar.

Dress in chiffon and lace, £24.99 // x
To be fair this has a lot in common with the first dress but again the contrasting detail makes it for me and it has the added advantage of little sleeves with delicate edging to make it especially charming.

Blouse with a lace collar, £14.99 // x
I think I'm right in thinking that this is what one refers to as a babydoll top - either way you've gotta love a little lace collar and bow detail. I think this would look really nice paired with a simple pair of light coloured jeans if you wanted to dabble in the lacy pastel look without fully committing to it.

Lace shorts, £19.99 // x
Perfect for summery days and garden parties, these shorts would add instant romantic factor to an outfit if worn with a simple cream or pastel top.

Suede ballet flats, £29.99 // x
Now I'm not gonna lie, I find these shoes a bit odd-looking but I think they would look a lot better on. Still, they definitely fit in with the style, what with the muted pastel colour and the intricate lace-up detail at the front.

Straw hat, £12.99 // x
I think this simple straw hat with a pretty ribbon would bring together any attempt to emulate this dainty, dreamy style while keeping the slightly period feel. Also it's practical and makes you look like someone who has their life together in the hot weather, score.

Fine-knit top with lace collar, £14.99 // x
For some reason I think of short sleeved jumpers as very 1950s but the contrast of the black and cream is oh so timeless and simple. This is a very versatile piece that could be worn with a variety of trousers or skirts to smarten up an outfit and give it a dollhouse feel.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of another selection of H&M's current collection - I'm not sponsored I swear!


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Mega Book Haul: Part 3

Welcome to the final part of this excessively large book haul - see parts one and two here. The ones in this grouping were bought either from a secondhand book sale that I happened to come across in a university building near Durham Cathedral, or The Works which is a discount shop that usually has a '3 books for £5' deal on which inevitably ends in me buying at least three books - in this instance it was The Summer Queen, The Dress and another one which I can't remember the name of that I left behind in England with my grandma because she'd run out of reading material.

The King's Deception by Steve Berry // The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory

I just about shiver with anticipation whenever I think about The King's Deception because not only does it involve the CIA and the MI6 (aka baes), it's also about a conspiracy dating from the time of the Tudors which is by far my most favourite period of history to read about - basically if this doesn't merit a five star rating I shall be bitterly disappointed. The King's Curse is about Margaret Pole who is a Tudor figure I haven't read much about which is interesting, and of course it's by the queen herself Philippa Gregory which hopefully means it's a winner.

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan
The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Lake House by Kate Morton

At first glance I thought The Dress was going to be a chick-lit type thing and I think I still might be right, but it's also partly set in the 1950s and about vintage clothes and dressmaking so I'm hoping it will be a good read nonetheless. The Summer Queen is about Eleanor of Aquitaine and is set in 1137, which interestingly makes it the earliest novel I have ever read and therefore it is sitting right at the beginning of my historical fiction shelves. This copy of The Lake House that I picked up at the secondhand sale is in absolutely perfection condition so it was a bargain at 50p, which is partly why I got it - I also really enjoyed The Forgotten Garden by the same author when I read it this summer and by the looks of it they have a lot of similarities, as intergenerational epics revolving around beautiful buildings and stuffed full of family secrets.

And that concludes my mega book haul!


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

25 Questions Tag

I really enjoy reading old-school tag posts and I haven't done one in absolutely ages so I thought it was about time I answered some interesting and not-so-interesting questions for the benefit of anyone who'd like to find out a bit about me. You'll see that some of these are pretty standard but I've tried to develop my answers a bit so they're more than just a couple of words or a yes/no response - happy reading!

1. What is your middle name?
My middle name is Hannah - apparently it was going to be my first name but my parents couldn't decide between the two and it ended up as my middle name, although I think it would have suited me quite well. Fun fact: there is in fact a writer called Sophie Hannah and my dad has a lot of her books which is quite surreal.

2. What was favorite subject at school?
English for sure. I loved everything about it, from the books we would read to writing essays, the classes and even the teachers! A lot of people don't understand why I decided to study geography at university since English was always my thing and to be honest I don't fully understand it either, but thankfully geography at uni is a lot better than it was at school.

3. What is your favorite drink?
Elderflower pressé, because I'm a wannabe hipster. I'm also partial to rose lemonade.

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?
I'm really loving Aurora's album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend and I think my favourites from that are Warrior and I Went Too Far. She reminds me of a Norwegian version of Lorde in a way and I really hope she goes far because I love her voice and her songs, they're stunning.

5. What is your favorite food?
In terms of type of food definitely Italian because pizza and pasta, but I also really like Mexican flavours. My favourite meal is probably veggie chilli con carne with nachos and avocado, followed by literally any type of ice-cream. 

6. What is the last thing you bought?
The last purchase I made was to enroll on a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course which I am currently making my way through in order to fill up my last month of summer holiday and also put in on my CV, but in terms of physical objects it was probably books of some kind.

7. Favorite book of all time?
This is literally an impossible question to answer so I'm going to go with top three:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

8. Favorite colour?
Purple! It always used to be green but then it changed for some reason.

9. Do you have any pets?
Not currently. When I was little and lived in the UK we had two black cats called Misty and Jasper but we had to leave them behind when we moved, and now my dad is allergic to dogs and cats so there's not much chance of getting another.

10. Favorite perfume?
Honestly my current favourite scent is the pink grapefruit one by The Body Shop, it's not exactly a perfume but I'm obsessed with how fresh and zesty it smells.

11. Favorite holiday?
I'm assuming this means in the American sense so definitely Christmas, winter is also my favourite season and Christmas is pretty much the highlight of it - I love the cosyness, goodwill and tradition of it all and especially the run-up to the big day throughout November and December. 

12. Are you married?
No - I'm 19.

13. Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?
Well I live 'out of the country' in that I'm English and I live in Belgium, but I also study in England so basically too many times to count and it depends which country you mean. In terms of other countries I've been to on holiday, off the top of my head I can think of France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Greece, Canada, the US etc.

14. Do you speak any other language?
I've been learning French since I was about 5 and I also did Dutch for 6 years at school and Spanish for 2 years. Unfortunately while I can remember a decent amount of Dutch most of my Spanish has gradually slipped away! I was very fortunate to go to a school which put a lot of emphasis on language learning (perhaps too much in fact) but I'm not a natural linguist by any means.

15. How many siblings do you have?
I have one little brother who isn't actually that little any more, he's taller than me.

16. What is your favourite shop?
For clothes shopping I love Forever 21 and H&M but in general one of my favourite places to wander round is a little antiques and crafts place near where my grandparents live: the antiques section is full of interesting things and you never quite know what to expect, and there are also little craft stalls where you can watch artists at work (painters, sculptors, potters, woodworkers, jewellery-makers) and buy their creations - it's absolutely magical.

17. Favourite restaurant?
In general I'd have to say Wagamama's or Pizza Express, but I really love Flat White Kitchen which is a little independent café/restaurant in Durham where I'm studying. It's not the cheapest place in the world to eat but it's well worth the money and it has some amazing food, especially the avocado and poached eggs on sourdough toast which I have been known to Instagram on occasion.

18. When was the last time you cried?
For about the first time in my life I can't remember - so probably some time way back in June.

19. Favorite blog?
Again I'm going to have to do a top three here:
I'm also really loving Alternating Paths, which is run by a girl I've followed on Tumblr, Polyvore and Instagram for years.

20. Favorite movie?
I think if I had to pick one it would be The Great Gatsby (the 2013 remake not the older ones) but I also really love Stoker (2013), The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Heathers (1988). 

21. Favourite TV shows?
Twin Peaks, Sherlock, Doctor Who, The Great British Bakeoff, The Tudors, The Addams Family, Outnumbered - that's all I can think of at the moment. I'm not a big TV watcher but I get really into the ones I do watch.

22. PC or Mac?
I have a PC, it's a super swish HP one that weighs literally nothing and I'm in love with it.

23. What phone do you have?
My UK phone is an iPhone 6 because I'm basic like that, my Belgian phone is a Nokia Lumia 800 which is a brick in comparison and it slowly dying a death.

24. How tall are you?
About 165cm which I believe is 5’4″.

25. Can you cook?
If you give me a recipe I can follow it just fine but sadly I don't have much instinct when it comes to cooking. I enjoy spending hours creating complicated vegetarian dishes during the holidays when I have a lot of time on my hands but I doubt I'll be so enthusiastic when I go back to uni soon and have to cook for myself for the first time...