Saturday, 31 December 2011

a whole year has gone by

This time last year, I was in a bit of a poor place. There was little in my life I was happy with, and I was finding it very difficult to derive any enjoyment from anything as my life just consisted of working, sleeping and eating (ironically, the one thing I had at that time I was happy with, is no longer in my life).  

Before Christmas, I had seen a tutorial on a website for creating a perpetual calendar journal. The tutorial (you can find it here) was suggesting it more as a gift, but I saw its potential as a tool to help me out of my rut.



So I collected together some pretty postcards, coloured index cards and a box to put them all in. My own intention with this calendar journal was to try and record at least one positive thing about the day, as that was the problem I was experiencing at the time. I'm happy to say this did mostly work and, having kept up the journal for a year, I can say there have only been a handful of occasions where I have had nothing especially good to write about the day.

Having this journal has had two effects on my life. The first is that I have now got into a habit of noticing positive things about my day, no matter how minor they are - I recall one entry being about a particularly beautiful sunset. Even such small things, if you pay them enough attention, can be significant enough to have an effect on the rest of your day.

The second is that I did actually make an effort to do something outside of work, so that I would have something to write in my journal and therefore have some nice memories to look back on in years to come. This meant that, rather than coming home from work and going straight on the computer because I was too drained and fed up to do anything else, I took the time to go out for a short walk, or make the effort to cook something nice or try a new recipe. I tried to be in a place where my default position was one of doing something I enjoyed instead of just watching TV or surfing the net.

I'm really looking forward to the next year, as I'm sure I will have plenty more fun things to record in my journal, and it will be interesting to compare individual days against each other - particularly with my circumstances being so different now.

For the first time in several years, I am actually excited for what 2012 has in store for me.
Happy New Year!

Friday, 30 December 2011

nice things

 ♥ Peacocks. What's not to like? They're absolutely beautiful birds, and I love the sound of their call. They are one of my favourite creatures, and I find it fascinating reading about the symbolism they have in so many cultures - particularly Hinduism. In fact, I love peacocks so much, I will shortly be having a tattoo done of a peacock feather. 




♥ macarons from Ladurée. I know macarons are going the same way as the cupcake and becoming overly hip, but I think they taste delightful, and I always feel a little bit decadent and indulgent whenever I have some. The last time I was in London I bought a small box for myself, and I came to the conclusion that the Ladurée shop is my version of Tiffany's. Truly, nothing bad could happen in there (possibly because it's so tiny), and it looked so pretty with so many macarons in a rainbow of colours.




♥ sparkly gold nail polish. Such a festive thing to wear, and glitter never fails to make me smile. Whenever I'm a little bit fed up, I just have to glance down at my nails and I always feel a little better. I also feel just a little bit glamorous wearing gold nail polish; for me, it's a step below wearing red lipstick. I love this nail polish, and the Model's Own brand in general. I might have to start building up a collection, I spied a lovely emeral green one on their website recently...




♥ leopard-print. Anything. I honestly don't know why I didn't love this sooner; perhaps the Bet Lynch connotations? I think it's because I've recently started to like the whole rockabilly look, whereas a year ago I wasn't into it at all. Again, as with the nail polish, I feel a little bit glamorous when I'm wearing it.
I was reading a blog a little while ago (can't remember where now) where the author said leopard-print is basically a neutral. And it's true! It goes with most colours, and I love wearing leopard-print to dress up what would be a casual outfit, e.g. jeans or a plain skirt. I didn't own a single leopard-print item this time a year ago; now, I own two pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, a dressing gown and a cardigan (both pictured above), and I am considering buying a dress as well if I can find one that I like. I won't wear them all at once though, I am well aware of its tack-inducing qualities!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

so many books, so little time

I have a slight problem with books. I keep collecting them. I buy more than I have time to read. Financially this isn't a problem, because I almost exclusively buy second-hand and they only cost me pence. Unfortunately, though, it is a problem for my bookshelves, which are wobbling under the weight of my collection and resentful that I haven't even had the courtesy to read many of the books they're holding up.

I have, therefore, decided that I am going to make an attempt to rectify this. I have collated a pile of all of my books that I either haven't read, or have started at some point and then abandoned, and I am going to do my best to get through them all before I go back to work in February. I have the time, and I can't walk around too much, so I figured I might as well use this time wisely to get my head in some books.


I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get through all of the above in just over a month, no matter how fast a reader I might be! I have also cheated slightly, and have not included in my list The Iliad or the Odyssey (just too much like hard work!), nor The Count of Monte Cristo. I'm also not letting myself buy any new (to me) fiction books until I finish my pile, or until I go back to work - whichever comes sooner, I figured by the time I'm back at work the list should at least have reduced significantly.

The books in my pile:

~Milan Kundera // The Unbearable Lightness of Being
~VS Naipaul // An Area of Darkness
~Gogol // Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
~Various // A Hungarian Quartet
~Gabriel Garcia Marquez // One Hundred Years of Solitude
~Charles Dickens // A Tale of Two Cities
~Charles Dickens // Great Expectations
~Kazuo Ishiguro // The Unconsoled (I did actually start to read this a few years ago but found it really difficult to get into. I'm going to try again, re-encouraged by my love for Never Let Me Go)
~Paulo Coelho // Eleven Minutes
~Dostoevsky // The Brothers Karamazov (another I started a while ago but got disheartened with)
~Tolstoy // War and Peace
~William Thackeray // Vanity Fair
~Vikram Seth // A Suitable Boy (this is massive! not sure I'll get through this one)

I can't make a start on this straightaway, as I am currently halfway through reading Women In Love by DH Lawrence, and figured abandoning one book in favour of another would kind of defeat the purpose of this exercise. I'm going to dedicate myself, though, so should be able to make a start in the next few days. Plus, I'm a sadsack and have no plans for New Year's Eve, so I will probably spend my evening reading and waiting to ring in the new year, then go back to bed.

What a life.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

I Haven't Weighed Myself For Four Years

It didn't happen entirely on purpose, I have to admit. When my then-boyfriend and I moved in together, we didn't have a set of scales and the flat we moved into wasn't furnished with any either. And, really, a set of scales was quite a low priority on the list of things we had to buy for the flat - like, you know, furniture, and cooking utensils. They got forgotten about for a while, then we moved again and I remember we still had no scales. However, there was always something more important that needed buying or doing or sorting out, so I never really got round to those scales.

So what could be construed as a feminist gesture, as a high-five to a positive body-image, was in fact borne out of laziness more than anything else. Perhaps not my finest moment, but as you can see it is possible to create a silver lining out of anything.

I would like to offer some justification, in that part of the reason for my laziness in buying the scales was that, well, I just didn't want them. I know I'm not overweight, and I like to think I have a reasonably attractive figure. And yet, those scales never had anything nice to say to me. From my late teens to my early twenties, I put on a lot of weight while still remaining more or less the same clothes size. This was probably mostly down to my curves filling out, but it still wasn't pleasant to see a higher number than the last time I looked. I began to see myself as a number of kilos, something to be reduced simply because I didn't want to be that heavy! How could I be? So many other girls I knew weighed less, so it was shameful to me that I was that much heavier. In addition, I knew I was very close to being classed as overweight on the BMI scale, and I didn't know then how inaccurate and unhelpful it was. It seems so silly and illogical looking at it now, and it is so strange how one's image can become so distorted over such a minor thing.

Over a few years, I learned a few things about my body. Some I realised during my period with a set of scales, others I have fully realised now I don't have access to any. I know now that my weight fluctuates a lot, and quite frequently. Another is that, no matter how much my weight changes, my actual size varies little.

Now, if and when I do monitor myself, I do it by checking how my clothes fit me. And I feel right now that my body is at its optimum size; it doesn't seem to want to shift upwards or downwards, regardless of how much or little care I am paying to myself at the time. My previous preoccupation was with my weight, and I have now learned to pay attention to myself as a whole. Fortunately, I didn't have to go through too many distorted thought-processes before I got there.

Ultimately, weight is just a number, as they say. However, I don't think I'll be buying a new set of scales any time soon.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New Purchases + Outfit Post

So, the Boxing Day sales started yesterday, and I ventured into town with my mother for my first Boxing Day sale shop in years. I've not had the money to go shopping for sale bargains for quite a while, normally I'd still be skint from Christmas by this point. I didn't go mad, as I've bought a few other bits and pieces before Christmas... My plans to restrain my spending isn't going *quite* as well as I'd planned...



This dress was part of my first ever order from Boohoo.com, I received it about a week or so before Christmas. It was only £20 so I was prepared for the quality to be lacking and was expecting to be sending it back straightaway. However, it's actually not too bad. The fabric is cheap synthetic, but it's thick and nicely-fitted so it's a keeper. The belt is horrifically tacky up close, supposed to be patent but it's obviously plastic and the buckle just makes it look cheap. However,  have been wearing the belt with other outfits anyway, as it's made me realise I have a black patent belt-shaped hole in my life.



This skirt also came from Boohoo, along with another in the exact same style only in black which I haven't pictured because, well, black's a bit boring. I ordered both colours because I couldn't decide between the two; this has unfortunately backfired as I like them both so much I'm keeping the pair of them. They're made from a lovely thick material that's sort of ribbed, and the skirts are lovely and full so very flattering. The length is decent as well; in fact, the only thing I'm not keen on is the elastic waistband, which is a little narrow - if it was a bit deeper the skirts would be perfect. I've already worn both of them, they're perfect for all the pretty blouses I seem to have acquired recently.



Teerrrrible quality pictures of the above sparkly items, that's the last time I borrow my mum's camera! Both the shoes and the bag were bought from Barratts, for my mum's birthday party next week. I have a lovely sea-green dress to wear for the party and I had wanted silver sparkly shoes and some sort of clutch to wear with it. The shoes are more of a dark pewter than silver, but they were the closest to silver I could find - everything seems to be gold at the moment. I absolutely love the bag, it's covered in glitter with a light pink-ish tint to it. I'm not sure whether I'll wear the shoes that often, but I'll definitely use that clutch at every opportunity.



I bought this from the pre-Christmas sale in Dorothy Perkins; £29 reduced to £7, bargain! It doesn't look great on the hanger, but it actually fits a lot better in real life. It's like a thin jersey material, with gold metallic thread running through it. This was my Christmas Day dress :)



This dress is so cute, I was supposed to be buying a few last-minute bits and pieces for Christmas in Asda but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it - and the fact that it was only £16 only served to encourage me. It's a lovely fit, and the bird print is so sweet. 



 The only two things in this post that were actually in the Boxing Day sales, haha. The polka dot one is from Topshop and the pink one is from one of the concessions sold in Dorothy Perkins. I'd had my eye on both of them a month or so ago, especially the pink one which is just so adorable, but I'd already bought plenty of things at the tim so I decided to restrain myself. Being in the sale, though, meant they were fair game!
I think the Topshop dress feels more summery to me, though I may end up wearing it this winter anyway. The pink one I just love - I had to risk it as I'd not tried it on before and the fitting rooms were closed due to the sales, so I wasn't sure whether it would fit, as you can see in the picture it doesn't look very fitted and it's also quite short. Fortunately, it does fit well and though it's a little short for my tastes, I'm just going to wear it anyway and be brave - I think I'm just a wuss when it comes to skirt lengths.



 
So, I went a bit mad in Boots recently. I mentioned in a previous post about being disappointed with one of the sparkly Model's Own polishes I'd bought, so I decided to get the Mystic Mauve (above middle) which is a more interesting colour than the Champagne. It's a bit more vivid than in the picture, but still quite subtle. 

I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing over buying a red lipstick for a while. I'm not the bravest girl when it comes to makeup, but I do love the way red lipstick looks and I wanted to give it a go even though I wasn't sure it would suit me. I bought a lipstick from Boots' 17 Supreme Shine range, in
Red Devil. I'm happy to say it does suit me (I think!) and I'm going to make myself wear it as often as I can just to get used to it. While I was in Boots I saw they had an offer for a free makeup case + three polishes if you bought two items from the 17 range. So of course I had to go for that, and bought the shimmery blue polish to get the other three.

Then I sat the jewellery stand by the checkout, which was all half price. I went a bit mad buying rings, I loved them all and couldn't decide between them so just bought all four; I think they were only a couple of quid each in the end. Only problem is, they don't all fit that great; it was difficult to tell in the shop because of the rubber band in the ring holding them onto the packaging, and the ring was a lot looser than I anticipated once I removed the packaging. They still fit, though, so I should get plenty of wear out of them.


And now, my first ever outfit post! I finally managed to figure out the self-timer on the camera, find a place to shoot from and somewhere to balance the camera precariously. Clearly, I didn't have time to move my fringe out of my eyes. My beautiful-sexy post-op shoe can also be seen, unfortunately that's the only shoe I'll be wearing on my left foot for the next 6 or 7 weeks,


cardigan: Primark, dress: New Look, belt: Tesco, right shoe: Peacocks, left shoe: NHS

Monday, 26 December 2011

Today I Sent an Email to a Writer I Have Admired for Many Years

It's a strangely discomforting thing; sending an email to someone who is to all intents and purposes a stranger, yet you feel you know them from the confessions and detail in their writing. Particularly when the purpose of emailing them is to tell them how much you admire them and how awesome you think they are. I was scared to begin, in fact I almost dec ided against it. Then, I almost wanted to preface the email with an apology for wasting her time. I think that must be a British thing. It's a habit I need to get out of, fact.

Then I told myself to stop and really think about what I was doing. In my job, I have to deal with complaints. Every. Single. Day. It seriously is a day to be noted when a complimentary letter comes through the magical waterfall of email communications.

The simple fact of the matter is that time is precious, and while people are often quick to spend their time composing a complaint in the hope of making something better, who wants to spend their time telling somebody they're doing fine, actually, so don't change a thing? Status quo, what ain't broke and all that.

However. That same person would probably be delighted to receive a compliment. Even without considering my bias of negatively-worded correspondence I deal with for a living, I personally am always lifted when, for example a stranger in the street compliments me on my clothing. In fact, it happened last week and my day was significantly cheerier for it. Not that I want to derail to a conversation about my fantastic style.

Everybody likes a compliment, and I do think it's such a shame that in society so much more emphasis is placed on a negative comment than a positive one. Saying nice things is, somehow, such an effort, like it's so much harder than giving a compliment. Is that because good = boring, non-event? I'm not sure. But I'm doing my bit to redress the balance in my life, at least. I have started to make an effort to show the people in my life how they are appreciated, because it is so easy to take the gestures of family and friends for granted. If somebody at work is looking particularly well-dressed or has a nice haircut, I will always tell them. At first I felt shy and awkward for saying so, but gradually it has become not just easy, but in fact one of my traits in that I will nearly always have something nice to say.

So I decided to practice this on a larger scale. A month or so ago I emailed a blogger I particularly admired, purely to express my love for her blog and her writing. Then, this evening, I finished reading a book I received as a Christmas present, by a writer whom I have followed and loved since I was a child. I loved that book so hard, I finished it in a matter of hours. It expressed everything I have thought and felt about many of the subjects covered, while at the same time being hilarious, endearing, and sometimes poignant.

The strong feelings I had about this book were sufficient enough to overcome my fear and hesitancy, and actually send an email to the author to say how much I loved her work. Did I feel more than a tiny bit vulnerable, revealing my admiration and respect to a complete stranger? Absolutely. But, at the end of it all, compliments are always appreciated, and it is Christmas. And I had two G&Ts in quick succession earlier.

And, if you were wondering about the book in question? It is How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran

Friday, 23 December 2011

Resolutions

Now that I've got my reflections about the past year out, it's time to look ahead. Yes, another list! New Year's resolutions, even though it's not the New Year yet. I've been thinking about them for the past month anyway, and it feels like an appropriate time.

1. Dip my toes into the world of internet dating. Not for a few months, at least until my toes are recovered enough for dipping - dates are not great on crutches! I'm not looking to find 'the one'; just hopefully meet some nice people, get out and about, have fun.

2. Take up an activity to help my general fitness; for example, yoga or dancing. These two I do want to have a go at (or, in the case of dancing, get back into) so I'm fairly confident this won't be one of those generic 'get fitter' resolutions that never get done.

3. Pay back debts. Fairly self-explanatory. Why would I even want clouds as black as those hanging over me? All being well, I should have them paid back by November 2012.

4. Go away somewhere for a weekend by myself. I'm plenty used to going on day trips by myself, and I often drive for hours on my own to stay with family. I've never actually stayed in a hotel by myself, though, and as I need a break this year I might as well go by myself. Even if it's only in this country.

5. Maintain current levels of fun in my life. This one should be easy, and in fact I'm pretty sure my fun levels will actually increase. I'm still going to make sure to take care of myself and spend time pampering myself, as well as going out and doing fun things with friends.


Monday, 19 December 2011

To make up for all those to-do lists...

..Well, at least going a little way to redress the balance. I am a BIG fan of lists. Of anything and everything. I make lists of my favourite songs, bands, movies, books, all sorts. I make hundreds of to-do lists; not even when I have loads to do, sometimes just because I'm bored at work and I'd rather write down the things I have/want/need to do outside of work than, you know, do work.

Anyway. In order to restore the equilibrium a little, and inspired by the first suggestion on Megan's post here (although actually,  her whole blog is pretty inspiring), I have created a Done list for the past year. I know it's not quite the end of the year yet, but I'm feeling reflective, and anyway, all I'm going to do for the next two weeks is eat chocolate, open presents and watch cheesy films. The list is perhaps not quite as crammed full as I'd like (and certainly nowhere near the size of my to-do lists!), but small victories and all that.


1. Saw one of my favourite-ever bands, Belle & Sebastian, play live. They were totally awesome. I almost cried with happiness, it was so perfect. The only imperfect moment was when, after trying to ignore my cider-pint-drenched bladder for a while, I made an urgent dash to the toilet. No, nothing embarrassing happened a la skirt tucked into knickers; but by the time I came out of the toilet, they were already halfway through my favourite song and I had to stand at the edge of the crowd and dance by myself. Completely bad timing on my part. :(




2. Got back into showjumping, coming first place in my class by the end of the season. This was a pretty big deal for me, as I was never particularly confident showjumping when I rode before. Milly has given me as much confidence as I have given her, and I think we both threw our little hearts into it completely over the summer.




3. Competed in my first ever one-day event. It wasn't so much of a 'proper' ODE as there was no real cross-country course, but it was a challenge just the same both for me and Milly as it was the first time for us. We met the challenge admirably, and ended up being placed 7th out of nearly 30 competitors - we missed out on a rosette by only one place!

4. Handled a complete change in my life and circumstances rather well, if I do say so myself. I actually never thought I would have to face the situation I faced... I thought, if the relationship was going to end, it would be me that ended it - and I certainly never thought I would be cheated on. So I never really knew how I would act, but if somebody had asked me I would have speculated that I'd probably take it quite badly. I am actually amazed at myself that I have come out of this feeling and behaving so rationally and positive, and I'd like to give myself a pat on the back. I'm not completely over it, but I'm well over the worst of it and things can only get better.

5. This isn't one specific thing, but it's something I made a conscious effort to work on this year and I'm pleased to say I have pretty much achieved it. In 2010 I realised much of my life followed the same old routine of go to work, come home, eat/watch TV, go to bed. Repeat. Even the weekends weren't that much better. So in 2011 I decided I needed to get out more, go to local attractions and out on day trips. I am pleased to report that I have completed this mission satisfactorily, and have many happy memories of going off to different places for the day, or even just going to an art exhibition in my lunch hour. Doing or seeing something a little different each day makes them stand out from the rest, and that's important to me.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Weekend wish list

Fujifilm Instax Mini camera
I really really want an instant camera. I have a Polaroid 600, but I just cannot justify the cost of the film for it, it's too ridiculous. Plus, what if they stop selling the film again? Maybe I'm just finding excuses to justify my increasing collection of cameras, but it is pretty cute, no? I might just treat myself after pay day next week...



OMG, I die for these shoes. Seriously, they don't get more amazing than this - and a walkable heel height!



A giant cupcake tin? Mine please. Thanks.



I have quite a large number of cutesy whimsical pendant necklaces, and I reckon this unicorn pendant from Accessorize would fit in my collection quite nicely.




Friday, 16 December 2011

Soap & Glory Big Splendour

I left the house at 8 o'clock this morning, just to get to Boots as soon as it opened to pick up one of these. :) £60 reduced to £25, such a bargain! I bought another Soap & Glory gift set in the same offer last year, sat down and worked out the prices of the individual items and was pleased to note they came to a much higher sum than £65 so it really is a very good offer.

Here are a few pictures...





Basil decided to claim the vanity case for his own.

I love Soap & Glory products so much, they smell absolutely gorgeous and they make my skin feel lovely and soft. The only thing I haven't got along with is the Face Soap & Clarity; it's in the above set and I've used it before but it just didn't agree with my skin, I got really bad breakouts. But my face does tend to flare up at the slightest provocation so that's more me than the brand. Everything else I love, so the gift set is such good value for me because I know I will use it all.

Not quite sure what to do with the vanity case, though, once the cat has abandoned it. I already have a lovely vintage red leather case for my makeup, and I can't think of anything else to store in this one. I will have to do some thinking.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

nice things


♥ my new favourite t-shirt. The reasons it's so awesome: it's got a panda on it, it's got sequins on it, it's super-soft and really light, and it flatters me lots. I am aware I've already mentioned this in my previous post, but I just can't get over how much win it is.



♥ my cat, Basil. As much as I love cats, I have always found his character too dog-like and sycophantic to really warm to. He was never my favourite cat, and I was never his favourite person.
Now, though, with all the upheaval in my life recently, I love his constancy, his sweet affectionate nature and devotion, and his little meows whenever he thinks I'm near. What I thought of as clingy neediness previously,  I now think of as sweet and endearing. It's been nice to have someone who has gone through all of this with me, even though he can't speak English (he makes up for it by speaking lots of Cat, though - extremely loudly and whenever he thinks I should be awake).




♥ my journal. Again, with so much in my life changing, I've written more in my journal in the last month than I have all year. At the start of this month, in part to mark this as a significant occasion and the start of something new, I bought myself a new journal and made sure to buy the prettiest I could find. It pleases me greatly just to look at it, it's such a lovely shade of pink (slightly deeper than in the above photo). The pages are gorgeous, too, different flowers and blooms and leaves all around the edges.
I feel like a teenager again, tucked away in my bedroom, on my bed listening to music and writing in my journal; but, right now, I don't think it's a bad thing, and I feel like I need it.



♥ my fluffy, sparkly, leopard-print dressing gown. It's not quite as tacky as it sounds, but it's not far off. The sparkles are quite subtle, and it's soft and snuggly and so so comfortable. I never wore dressing gowns in my old house, but I realised I needed something to cover up with when I moved back home because my usual night attire is pretty skimpy to say the least. And it's nice to have something snuggly to wear on lazy winter mornings, especially around Christmastime.



♥ being off work for the next two months. Although I have been finding my job less of a struggle lately, I would never say no to some time off! I think this operation has come at a most ideal time, giving me plenty of time for reflection on my goals and my future, as well as for educating myself. I can focus on me and the things I enjoy, without being stressed about targets targets targets.



♥ glittery nail polish. I have some sparkly gold polish from Models Own which I like so much and looks lovely and festive right now. I want some more sparkles for my nails, and I bought another Models Own polish (in Champagne); I liked it at first as it had a nice pinky sheen to it, but I've completely gone off it. It looks a bit too grown-up for me, a bit dull and boring. I'm now lusting after a more vivid shade of pink, and may have to buy it next time I'm in Boots.
A few months ago, sparkly nail polish would have been far too outré for me, but I'm increasingly starting to warm to slightly more outlandish styles. I've also just ordered online a bright pink polka-dot dress, for much the same reason.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Recent acquisitions

This month was the first salary in many years where I have had a large amount of disposable income.. No rent or bills any more, woo! So I decided to treat myself and buy quite a few new clothes. There are some more winging their way to me via courier too. I will be reining my spending in the New Year though!



This shirt is part of my Primark haul. I'm not ashamed to admit I love Primark, and they do have some really nice stuff in at the moment. I've worn this shirt already, tucked into my high-waisted flared jeans with my hair loose, 70's style.




Another Primark purchase. I haven't worn this yet, and although I like it a lot, I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I feel a bit too androgynous in it for my liking, even though it's pink; I think because of the high collar. It doesn't look quite right with my high-waisted jeans because they're a light shade of blue, and this needs something darker. Possibly a black pencil skirt, I'm thinking a bowler hat to finish it off?




My first ever purchase from Forever21, from when I was in London. I was determined to buy something in that shop, even though my budget was limited! I did see a few things I liked but surprisingly nothing really stood out. I took this dress to the fitting room on a whim but it fits really nicely, and looks quite retro on me. It feels almost a little bit too long (which is something I don't normally say about dresses and skirts!) but that's okay because I won't be scared to wear it in the summer!




I've loved this dress from H&M from afar for quite a while, and the day I got paid I went and bought it straightaway. I'm loving all the lace that's around at the moment, and it's such a pretty shade of purple. I think it will be quite easy to wear, I can picture plenty of outfit combinations it would look nice with.




Another H&M purchase, a bit of an impulse buy. You can't see so well in the above picture but the black specks are tiny black stars. Although it's a little short, it looks really cute on and is nice and fitted. I will just be careful to wear it with nice thick black tights!




I bought this from New Look, along with a t-shirt which I haven't posted here because I'm wearing it right now! (I don't have a way of taking outfit pictures at the moment, plus they'd look rubbish as I can't stand up straight because of an operation I had on my foot last week)
Another lace dress to add to the growing collection, I can't get enough of them! It looks pretty drab on the hanger and not very fitted, but it looks a lot better on, more shaped although the top is supposed to be quite loose . It came with a cheap-looking belt in a similar shade of blue which I most likely won't wear; I've got a thin white patent belt which I think would look much nicer with this.




I love this top so hard, it's definitely my favourite recent purchase. I would wear this every day if I could, it just looks and feels so awesome. What's not to like about sequins and a panda face? This is from Jane Norman, which I very rarely buy from because the majority of their clothes I feel are a bit... tacky? Generic cheap-feeling acrylic jumpers, too-tight skirts and dresses and rather low-cut tops tend to be the standard. However, every now and again I see something in there that is so unlike their usual fare, I actually wonder if they have a junior buyer or something who only occasionally gets their picks chosen and has my taste in awesome clothes (I really have no idea how fashion buying works). This is a kind of stretchy material but it's really light; again, I wore it with my high-waisted jeans and I felt all kinds of awesome in it :D





Another surprisingly good item from Jane Norman. I've had my eye on this dress as soon as it came out in the middle of summer, it's got a lovely vintage look to it and the fit is really flattering. It's been in the sale for quite a while and I was praying it would still be in stock when I got paid; thankfully it was, and not only that but it had another £2 knocked of it - bargain! I wore this last week for my (first ever) blind date and, while sadly the dress didn't make me have any romantic feelings that evening, I did feel lovely in it and at least made up for the crushing disappointment.





I had a 25% discount voucher to use at Oasis, so I wandered in last week to use it before it expired. I had wanted to buy their Look Magazine party dress, a gorgeous hot pink lace number with a ribbon/belt sash thing round the waist. Unfortunately, they only had a size 12 left and that was just a bit too big for me round the shoulders, so I had to hand it back with much regret. After much hobbling round the rails on my crutches I decided on this dress; I like its mod-ish look, although it feels quite a lot smarter than the things I would normally wear - or maybe that's just because it's black? I don't wear a lot of black clothes, they're normally too serious for me. Due to this, I'm not sure if I'll get a lot of wear out of it, but I like it all the same.




I bought these from Tesco on a whim; my reasoning is that my only other pair of leopard-print shoes feel a bit too summery as they're made of a sort of canvas material - plus they will undoubtedly fall apart pretty soon, being a Primark purchase, so my justification for the above pair is that I'm pre-empting the demise of my older shoes. That's ok, right? And anyway, a girl can never have too many leopard-print items.. or maybe not....

The below are not purchases, but birthday presents from my dear family last week. They were both on my wish list posted a while ago, and I had nudged my parents in the right direction of their locations ;)



I love these shoes so much, they're just fantastic. I love all the horse-related pieces that have been around lately, I've wanted to buy them all and build up a little collection but that might be weird. I was lucky to get them as they were on sale at Debenhams and sold out pretty quickly. I haven't dared to wear them yet as they're suede and it's been absolutely pouring it down with rain the last few weeks, but I aim to rectify that as soon as possible.




 Another horse-related gift, I'm on a roll. It's quite a thin belt, thinner than I'd normally wear but I just love the horse on it. I'm actually not quite sure what to wear it with; I think a plain-ish dress would be best so the horse can stand out, but I don't have many of those! I will have to have a rummage through my rails to see what I can find.

Other recent purchases include; Soap & Glory EDT (love love love), sparkly Models Own nail polish (was in love with the shade at first but the crush is now over), underwear from Primark and Topshop, sparkly star-shaped hair grips, a leopard-print sparkly fluffy dressing gown from Primark, lots of goodies from Lush (Snow Fairy, yay!) and posh chocolates from Hotel Chocolat - yumyumyum.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Music feeds the soul

Music is always close to me, and I have always turned to it in times of trouble. It never fails to soothe me when I am feeling stressed or worried, and it never ceases to amaze me how much of an effect music can have on one's mood and overall wellbeing.

Despite the above, I couldn't bear to listen to any music whatsoever shortly after the break-up. Even my happier moments felt so delicate that I didn't want everything to come crashing down upon hearing a painful lyric or a song with personal meaning. Instead, I drove about in my car in complete silence, not even a talky radio station in the background, went to sleep to the sound of the wind crashing about, and put the TV on as background noise to my activities rather than the radio.

Even, a little later, when I wasn't feeling as weak any more, I didn't even have any desire to listen to music. Perhaps I still felt somewhat numb; I'm not sure any art form could have moved me or pleased me at that time. Silence was just preferable.

Fortunately, that passed after a couple of weeks, and I proceeded to make up for lost time by immersing myself in a choice few albums. I always find at periods like these of great personal reflection or growth that I tend to listen to certain albums extremely frequently; often, a certain album will be the only thing I play for a week or maybe more. It is comforting to become so familiar with the album, but I also like going back to the album some time later and being reminded of my feelings and thought-processes during that time.

Here is some of the music I was listening to during my getting-better phase:


I have read reviews of this album that describe the music as being middle-of-the-road. I'm not sure I would describe it as such, but then I'm not entirely sure how accurate my descriptions of music ever are! I like the emotiveness of the first track, and I find the music throughout slightly haunting and most definitely female. That's a good thing, by the way. I like that it is so emotional, but I still found in the end a positive, strong and inspiring feeling. I listened to this album pretty much all the time for about two weeks, and I still listen to it occasionally now.

This song was all over the radio shortly before we broke up, and at first I didn't like it very much. My feelings on it were that it was a bit drone-y, too slow and not very interesting. However, it grew on me and now I like it for possibly the very qualities I disliked in it at first; although now, I would describe it as languid and slightly seductive. I won't get into a debate about Lana's authenticity, as that's been done to death all over the internet and frankly I'm not very interested in it.

This has always been a much-loved album, but I discovered new elements to it recently and got a lot more out of it. I have always had a weakness for 80's-style electro-pop and nearly all of the songs on this album are ultra-catchy. I liked it during this period for the strains of defiance running through the lyrics (particularly the lyrics to Better Than Sunday) and it definitely helped me to feel stronger and more self-assured.

Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit (and other albums to varying degrees)
Belle & Sebastian is quite possibly my all-time favourite band ever, or at least in the top three (I do love making lists of my favourite things). This album never fails to cheer me up and feel a little bit more whole. It's usually the first thing I listen to whenever I'm feeling the slightest bit down, a musical cure-all. While some may consider this a bad thing, I genuinely do love the twee-ness of it all, and I like that some of the songs sound like the 70's but so much better, like without the bad clothes and haircuts.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Reawakened

It's been a long time since I've been here, but it's time to throw myself into this properly.

In the past two months, I have been dumped, moved out of my much-loved home and back to my parents, been reunited with an old and dear friend who swiftly departed again, become closer to newer friends, and been on my first ever blind date.
At least, all things considered, I got the cat.

I am not going to use this blog as a depository for bitterness. While this break-up was (is?) a big deal to me (we were together since before I turned 18, so all of my adult life), leaning on the negative emotions will get me nowhere. What I do write about the break-up on this blog will instead help me to figure things out and move on; not from him, which I am already in the process of doing, but move on in life in general, and in myself as a person.

The difficulty is not necessarily in missing him or getting over him, but in not being in a relationship. It is very strange to think of myself as a single girl, living with her parents. It is such an alien concept to me, labels I have not had to apply to myself for 5 or 6 years. I am still getting used to this new me, these new identities which I am growing into; at times it feels completely natural to be labelled as such, and others it jars and I am reminded of the life I had before, which now seems to be so far away.

While I was never the kind of girl to define herself solely as somebody's girlfriend, it couldn't be helped that the focuses of my life were based around the fact that I was in a relationship. Meals were bought and cooked that we both liked; I ate late in the evening so we could eat together. Furniture would be jointly chosen; budgets worked out together. Compromises made, decisions agreed upon. There was always one other person to consider in every decision made, and I never for one second thought of this as a burden, but instead enjoyed sharing my time and this life with somebody else. Even when I thought about my long-term career goals, and decided against certain options because it wasn't financially possible whilst in the relationship, I stuck through it and instead considered other, more viable alternatives.

Was that selflessness? It feels so weird to not have to consider another person's wellbeing and feelings in the choices I now face and the options that are now open to me. I guess it's now time to start being selfish - in a good way.