Thursday, 14 December 2017

Dinosaur bones..

Dress: Joanie Clothing
Heels: Irregular Choice x Heatherette

Cardigan: Vintage // Bag: ASOS

Tights: Primark
Oh, it feels as though it's been a while since I shared some actual outfit photos. I'm not sure why that is, other than just being snowed under with things to do, barely being home (certainly not when it's been light enough) and just generally not feeling great about myself. My self-confidence levels are sub-zero lately, but I'm trying to get past this.
So, here we are. I love the shape of this dress, which I'd ummed and ahhed over for so long when it was first on sale on Joanie's site, that I missed out and it sold out. Wah. I picked it up from Donna's clothes sale lately - I think she'd bought it from someone else before deciding it wasn't for her, but it came to me with the tags still on and in brand new condition, for an absolute song. And I adore it.
I'm a big fan of a border print and these sleeves are, I think, the perfect length for me. I particularly love the bow detail at the waist and all in all, I'm pleased to have made some wardrobe space for it.
This cardigan, also new to me, was from a vintage shop in Worcester a couple of weeks ago - I went to the Xmas market for the day and to visit family and had a good dig through - I particularly like the lace shoulder details and the tie at the bottom - super unusual and yet inkeeping with current trends with it's floral embroidery, too.
These shoes arrived this week and I couldn't wait to wear them - the Irregular Choice x Heatherette collection must have been a while ago, but I remember longing for a pair of these bone heels from the collection. At the time, I ended up opting for the alphabet boots and that's as far as my budget would stretch, so they're one of those pairs I've always kept my eye out for since. So I was super excited to find these in my size!
A dinosaur bag, for good measure. And I seem to be living in these sparkly fishnets, lately.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

He's making a list, he's checking it twice..

Yesterday, still full of cold and sniffling my way around, I cancelled my gym plans (and am regretting it, but I had to accept that I was too ill to train) and had an evening at home (rare) and to myself (even rarer still).

This is great I started off thinking to myself. But when I got home, for the first time in a few days and remembered the pile of ironing, the mountain of presents which need wrapping, cards which need writing and projects which need finishing, I was almost ready to hibernate. Or cry. Or both.

Whilst I've been trying to make a conscious effort to take less on, I'm still finding I'm probably trying to do too much. I tend to say yes, assume I'll fit it all in and then forgo things like sleep / stuff I actually want to do in order to meet all of the deadlines. And, usually, that's OK. But it's worse when you're feeling a little under the weather and it's not clear where to start.

I find that making a list, before I start anything, can really help me. So, I popped the kettle on, found a pen and sat down to write my plan of action. Small tasks, some of which would only take a few minutes (change bedding, mix up mine pie pastry, etc) went on the lists along with harder ones (list clothes for sale, finish making a present for my sister) and I went through them one at a time.

Despite knowing that I wouldn't get them all crossed off (I didn't), it somehow made me feel calmer to know that I could do one thing at a time, avoid goldfishing (which is what my OH calls that thing I do when I'm flicking between a million things at once and never actually completing any of them), and feel a little sense of achievement when I crossed something off.

Sometimes, it's OK to take things slow. I just have to keep reminding myself of this.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Tuesday Titles 148: Year One

Year One Nora Roberts
Year One: Nora Roberts

I'm almost never organised enough to get a review up on the actual day of publication, so I'm feeling a little smug about this one. And a little excited to share today's book, in equal measure.
I began this book what feels like ages ago, and was thrown right in to the story and the characters. As ever, Roberts' writing style is wonderfully descriptive and although it was just the beginning, I was more than happy to be surrounded by a family Christmas trip in the wilds of Scotland. Little do the brothers know that one of the birds they shoot on their hunting trip is more than just a bird, and sparks the beginning of The Doom: a pandemic disease which has the majority of the world's population killed off within just a few short weeks.
It becomes apparent that there are some special individuals who have immunity to the disease, and some of these have some supernatural powers. Lana can move things with her mind. Jonah - a paramedic- can see the future when he touches someone. As he delivers a set of twins, he can clearly see that they are going to play a part in helping the survivors find New Hope.
 In the dystopian world which these (questionably?) lucky few chosen ones find themselves in, everyone is fighting to survive, whatever that takes.
It soon becomes clear that whilst everyone is working towards the same end goal, there is still good and evil in the world, even at this reduced number. As the book gathers momentum and some of the survivors run into others, even some of the characters I'd at first considered to be good show signs of aggression and prove that it's not always a clear cut divide between good and bad.
Year One is the first book of, I suspect, a trilogy, and whilst it covers the first year in the post-apocalyptic world, it has to leave some stories untold, for which I'm looking forward to the next instalments in the series.  
If dystopian series are your thing, I'd definitely recommend this; it's the best I've read in a long while.
(Big thanks to Little Brown for sending me a copy to review.)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Sunday Shoes 148..


Well, it's been a little while since my last one of these posts, hasn't it?! And here's the stack of boxes I'm yet to open up, take photos and share, let alone wear.. most of these were the result of a combination of the IC "Rainbow Week" (their version of Black Friday) and a discount code which I'd been sent which was almost due to expire. I've been dipping in and out of the site lately and whilst the big releases such as the Muppets and the new Santa heels didn't take my fancy, I honed the list of new styles which I'd been wanting to add to my collection.

In actual fact, the first pair to share actually came to me via eBay - a cheeky "best offer" which was actually accepted. When they arrived, I realised they were in even better condition than I'd been expecting, which was a lovely surprise. They don't look to have been worn before.
The style is called Heel the World and are a beautiful blue and white gingham with tiny flowers in the fabric, too. They have two bows at the front to tie the two sets of straps and a contrasting candy striped heel. Super, super cute. I'm dreaming of summer picnics to wear them, I think.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Alternative Advent calendars..

I'm not really one for Advent calendars. I'd be perfectly content to hear nothing of Christmas until about the 20th, if I'm honest. That said, this year I've been noticing a few more alternative Advent calendar ideas, which I kind of like.
For example, I know a couple of friends who start an Advent box; adding one item per day to it before donating it to the local food bank / homeless shelter on Christmas Eve.
Royal Mail have created this one to remind people of the last posting dates for their various different services and it's prompted me to issue a little #bloggersecretsanta reminder, too. Don't forget to post your parcels out by 5th December - not long now! - and let me know when you've sent and received your parcels..

I'm definitely going to take part in this Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar, by Bear Hugs Gifts.
And as for a calendar which I'll be checking daily, Jojo Rickart is publishing a daily festive image as her calendar this year, and it might be the cutest thing ever - go follow her Instagram if you don't already....
Got any ideas for alternative Advent?

Friday, 1 December 2017

Friday Favourites 264..

Gosh, it feels like a long while since I did one of these posts (mostly because I've not yet found a way of making collages of pretties, since the demise of Picmonkey). But this week I need a little help. I have some money to put towards a winter coat and I'm trying to decide between these two. Thoughts please...?
001: Frankly, this one is the one I'd put my money on. Wildly impractical colour, and I have probably got three pink coats already but omhmygosh, how pretty.
002: This looks much better in real life than it does on it's web photo, I can assure you. Inside it's a kind of silver leather and it's sleeves were turned up so there was a silver cuff going on, which looked amazing. It's so so soft, as well. Wah.
Help.... and have you seen anything amazing, lately?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Tuesday Titles 147..

A Winter's Tale
A Winter's Tale : Carrie Elks
I'm still kind of fighting off the festive season, since I'm a bit of a self-confessed Scrooge and like to hold off for as long as humanly possible. However, as festive feel-good stories go, I took this one with me to a spa day last week and it was a lovely heart-warming tale in the series about the Shakespeare Sisters. I've read a handful of these by now and would recommend any of them - I don't think it's important to read them in order as you get enough recap information on the sisters in each book.
Read anything good lately?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Tuesday Titles 146..

How I Lost You: Jenny Blackhurst

It's rare that I leave the house without either my Kindle or a physical book in my handbag. But somehow, the other day I found myself on the treadmill with nothing to read, so I downloaded this onto my iBooks app after spying it on the chart.
I got stuck right in. Susan, who has been released from prison into her new life with a new identity (Emma) is based in a local town to me, making a new start and trying to escape her past. Having been convicted of killing her newborn son; something which Susan is adamant she did not do, she's keen to start a new life and get away from any reminders of her marriage.
But when one day, a photograph is delivered through her door, she begins to wonder what did actually happen to her baby. Could he really still be alive, as the sender is trying to suggest?
As more and more things keep happening to scare Susan, she begins to wonder what she can believe? And if he is alive, how would she know where to begin with finding Dylan? With just a couple of people she can trust around her - a friend from her time in prison and a friendly journalist, they do everything they can in order to figure out what actually happened four years ago...and why.
A series of flashbacks help to give the reader a sense of where the story might be going, and makes it a little frustrating to watch Susan going off-course in her investigations, but when she finally tracks down someone from her past, things begin to make more sense.
I was a little thrown by a couple of the twists in here and the resolution for me seemed a little rushed, but all in all I enjoyed this as a thriller to pass the time on the treadmill and various train journeys, so I'd give it a go if you fancy something new.

Friday, 17 November 2017

It's like we burned so bright we burned out..


I'm conscious that things have been fairly quiet around here lately and whilst this is more of an acknowledgment than an apology (I'm not even sure how many people actually read blogs anymore tbh...) it's been something I've been meaning to get back around to. I have lists and lists of ideas for posts and things I'd like to write about. What I don't seem to have a lot of lately, is time. There's also a big part of me which hates saying that, as I'm increasingly conscious of the fact that *not having enough time* has almost become something of a competitive sport, and I also think I could resolve this by changing priorities and/or being more organised and/or agreeing to take on fewer things.

Dress: Collectif

Being in something of a weird headspace lately, I've been feeling less and less happy about clothes and outfits and just about anything relating to my body image / self-confidence. So, I've been less inclined to share outfit posts I guess. But, in an attempt to snap out of these thoughts, here's a dress which I bought in the Collectif sale at the start of the year and have barely worn, but kind of love for the hood, which feels like a big hug. Helpful when temperatures in the office reach parky.


Brooch: Friday Folk

Something which I have been loving lately is trying to find present ideas (yes, the dreaded C word has begun) which are new and different and in doing so, I stumbled upon Eilidh's Instagram account. She's raising money for a world trip next year by selling these little miniature people brooches and has been coming up with some awesome ideas. Not only can she make mini-versions of you (see mine above), but also mermaids, super-heroes and just about anything else once can think of. I love them and they'll be winging their way to some of my gift recipients this year, too.

Jacket: H+M

What's better when you're feeling a bit down than donning a pair of shoes which you love..? Although there are quite a few pairs I've been mulling over on the Spartoo site lately, I've not actually added to my shoe collection in quite some time.. This could have something to do with the fact that I'm running out of space on the shoes shelves, but also that I do have a lot of pairs which just don't get enough wear as it is. These Cherry Deer heels are great since they were sent back to be stretched (they'd been size-labelled wrongly to begin with, IC think) but since then they've been great and are super comfortable! The only thing being that people do tend to stop to comment on them.

Cherry Deer heels: Irregular Choice
Aside from my ongoing body battles, all other aspects of life are very good of late. I have another lovely weekend to look forward to with one of my favourite people and things are, in all respects, pretty good.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Blog Tour: Illusion

Illusion banner
Illusion: Stephanie Elmas

London, 1873.
Returning home from his travels with a stowaway named Kayan, Walter Balanchine is noted for the charms, potions and locket hanging from his neck.
Finding his friend Tom Winter’s mother unwell, he gives her a potion he learned to brew in the Far East. Lucid and free from pain, the old woman remembers something about Walter’s mother.
Walter is intrigued, for he has never known his family or even his own name – he christened himself upon leaving the workhouse.
Living in a cemetery with his pet panther Sinbad to keep the body snatchers away, word soon spreads of his healing and magical abilities and he becomes a sought after party performer.
During one of Walter’s parties, Tom is approached by Tamara Huntington, who reveals she is being forced to marry a man she does not love.
Will he and Walter come to her rescue?
Try as they might, sometimes all the best intentions in the world can’t put a stop to a bad thing, and she is soon married off to the cruel Cecil Hearst.
Drama and tragedy ensue, and Walter keeps his distance from Tamara.
That is until her stricken brother-in-law Daniel requires his magical healing, and he is forced back into her life.
With secrets beginning to emerge, Walter finds his mother may be a lot closer to home than he realised…
Filled with mystery, magic and larger than life characters, Illusion will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Tuesday Titles 145..

Little Fires Everywhere: Celeste Ng

I know this is a tall order, but I think that Little Fires Everywhere might just be the best book I've read this year. I mean, December will have to pull out the big guns if it wants to beat this, is all I'm saying. So naturally, I'm pretty stoked to be part of the blog tour for this book and share my enthusiasm for it.

Thrown into Shaker Heights: a modern suburban city with rules and regulations to cover every aspect of modern life - right down to what colour homeowners can paint their houses and what time curfew is for children - as the book opens, we're gathered on the sidewalk outside the Richardson's house as it goes up in flames. There's suggestion from the fire crews that this was not an accident, yet also no sense of surprise.

Elena Richardson, the embodiment of a perfect Shaker resident, stands on the sidewalk and watches her material life burn away to nothing. A model citizen, Elena's raison d'etre is to play by the rules.

In heading back to cover the past few months, the narrative is fully submersive and as a reader, I found myself unsure who to side with when it came to moral dilemmas. One in particular is central to the plot and has the town divided.

Mia and Pearl think they've found somewhere they can settle when they move into their new apartment in Shaker Heights. A nomadic artist and her daughter who have spent their lives moving around, perhaps this is the place for them to set down some roots.

Their landlords, the Richardson Family also live in the neighbourhood and are the perfect example of a modern American family. Picture perfect. with their four teen children navigating their way through high school, sports teams and college applications. I recognised common flaws and endearing traits at the same time in a lot of the characters, particularly the Richardson children, and loved the slow-burning way (pun intended) in which everybody interacted and became integral parts in one another's lives.

Honestly, I'm not sure how to describe this book other than an amazing look at 90s suburban America, family dynamics and their secrets. The book quite honestly simmers and I wanted to continue to be immersed in their town lives long after I finished it.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Read the book..

It's fair to say that the past week or so has been a bit of a struggle. Whilst I'm all about the brave face, my mental health has not been great, lately and it's been all I can do to crack on with basic functioning. I've been looking forward to this weekend for a while, though, like the proverbial silver lining and it didn't disappoint.
Reunited with my fellow #THFC members for the first time since Paris, it was lovely to catch up on the latest news (I feel as though I've missed a lot lately and I'm putting that down to my fairly shite concentration / engagement levels) and things and we laughed a lot during the course of the weekend, which always helps.
Staying in a cottage in Middleton-in-Teeside in the depths of County Durham, we were fairly rural and surrounded by hills and countryside and beautiful autumnal colours. The others had done more research than me (I blame my Myers Brigg personality traits) and knew that there were waterfalls and caves to explore nearby, so that was Saturday planned.
Parking up at the Bowlees visitor centre, we set off for a day of exploring, starting with Summerhill Force and Gibson's Cave, before heading over the hills towards the High Force waterfall. We stopped en route to marvel at sheep and cows and sheepdogs and bridges, and the weather was glorious. For someone who's been all about hibernating lately, getting outside was just what I needed.
Recharged by a pub lunch at the High Force Hotel, we were up for more exploring and after playing on the rocks at High Force, we crossed the River Tees and began to head back along the other side.
Of course, the weekend was filled with plenty of #yummers food - Becks and Alex made great chefs and kept us very well fed, with a faux Xmas Dinner on Saturday evening.
On Sunday we ventured out into the town itself, which was super tiny but had lots to see, including this rather cute matrimonial-theme yarn bombing, on the bollards outside the church. Apparently when Alex and Becks went back there this morning, it had gone. Random.
Other randomness included the weirdest takeaway situation, ever. Sunday tea was an Indian takeaway, and according to the cottage handbook, the takeaway in the next town will deliver your food to the public car park in Middleton, provided you've ordered before 6pm. We did so, and Lucy and I went to collect it - super weird, but we weren't the only ones. The locals clearly do this often, as it seemed to be something of a social event.
Somehow, a change of scene seemed to help my motivation levels when it came to running as well. Since I'm currently freaking out majorly about a race I've signed up to take part in, I was desperate to get some practice in and I was pleased that I managed to get out and run each morning before breakfast. Baby steps.
A lovely weekend filled with lots of exploring, knitting, climbing and catching up. We're already planning the next convention.

Friday, 3 November 2017

#bloggersecretsanta update..

I could not be more glad to see the end of this week: it's been a rough one.
I've got so many ideas and posts I want to finish here, but they'll have to wait until next week. In the meantime, a little reminder for those of you who might not have seen it yet - #bloggersecretsanta is running again this year and sign ups close on Monday.

You can mail or message me to sign up with.. (Email address is in the sidebar):

  • Your name
  • Your blog / Twitter / Instragram (any or all)
  • Your postal address for a parcel
  • Any likes/ dislikes or things your sender should know about you (allergies etc)

That's all I need, really. I'll pair everyone up using the info you've sent. You won't be sending to the same person you receive a gift from (this works more like a chain) so it's up to you whether you want to reveal your identity to your recipient or not...

I'll send out your partner's details and you'll have a few weeks to take a look at their blogs / social media and put together a parcel. The spend limit for that is £10, not including postage. Then, post your parcel by 5th December, and let me know when you've posted and when you've received a parcel. Couldn't be simpler! 

Get in touch if you have any questions. Open to international senders, as always!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

24 hours in London..

Sooo, I'm aware we're almost at the next weekend and I've not yet talked about the last one. I am not really sure where this past week has gone. (See also: past month, summer, 2017 in general..).
But, anyhow. It was great/. After an exciting meeting on Friday night making some plans for a trip next summer I was feeling rather positive.
Dressed in a somewhat appropriate dress, I hopped on the train and headed to London to meet Giuls. We caught up on news, and lunched, and shopped and wandered until about 6pm when we decided enough shopping was enough and wandered over to Covent Garden towards the Royal Opera House, as we had tickets for the Royal Ballet's final date for Alice in Wonderland.
Having never before visited the ROH, I was amazed by the beautiful  architecture. I love the orangery, which is the bar / restaurant / atrium area and although our seats were right up in the uppermost of upper circles, that was kind of great because it meant that in the intervals (there were two - one for cake and one for cocktails!) that we could look down on the bar and watch the other theatre-goers going about their business in the beautiful surroundings. Pretty buildings and people-watching. And cake. And grapefruit cocktails. And beautiful, amazing ballet. What more can a girl want?
The show itself was nothing short of incredible and the sets and designs were amazing. My favourite was the way they'd portrayed the Cheshire Cat, I think. But all of the costumes were amazing (particularly the Queen of Hearts). We left the ballet absolutely buzzing and got the bus home to G's flat, where we chatted until we fell asleep.
Sunday morning was filled with brunch in Streatham and a mooch around one of the best charity book shops I've been in for a while, before bussing it to Brixton for a bit of a wander around the indoor market (hipster paradise, although I did see some rather amazing things in lots of the teeny little shops). Being rather restrained although managing to get a little of my Christmas shopping done, and of course we had to tourist our way to the beautiful Bowie memorial wall, where people have left notes and pictures - my favourite was this of the Goblin King from Labyrinth.
After a lovely morning of exploring the area, we stopped for train snacks (for me) and I headed back to Euston on the tube, and got the train home. A lovely weekend, filled with just enough time in the big smoke and a decent balance of cuddles and home-time with my favourite, as well. I'm learning about this balance thing, it seems..

Monday, 30 October 2017

The animals went in two by two..

Rainy Day Dress: Amy Laws
Sometimes you need a little something to kick-start your creativity, I've found. Lately, with my sewing and various other projects, I think I've found myself in a bit of a slump. I'm not really sure what to blame that on, but something which has definitely helped me when it's come to being more creative with my outfit planning, has been Smile and Make's #noveltyoutfitchallenge. I've taken part in this for the past month and have posted most days. which is not bad going for me. Perpetually disorganised, I tend to find that I fall out of the habit of most monthly Instagram challenges. This one, however, was right up my street.

Shirley Bass heels: Irregular Choice // Bag: Pylones
I've shared a few of my favourite outfits from it on here so far, although more can be found on my IG profile. This outfit was part of animal theme week, and it all started with these tights, which I'd tried hard to track down last year when I saw someone else wearing them on IG. I love a pretty pair of tights and these animal print ones are perfect for my #wardrobezoo aesthetic. I managed to find out from Topshop HQ that the final remaining pairs were in their flagship London store and one of my lovely #teamunicorn friends swung by to pick a pair up for me. Since then, they'd sat in my box of tights, waiting for the right moment for inspiration to strike.
Fox Collar Clips: Ashlea Bechaz
I decided that they'd go quite well with this dress, with it's colourful raindrops and decided on these Shirley Bass rainbow heels, too. Figuring we had something of an impromptu Noah's Ark theme forming, and that it was raining, this umbrella print raincoat seemed the natural coat to opt for.
These fox collar clips remind me so much of the foxes in Farthing Wood. A TV show I adored as a child, I was thrilled to be surprised with the DVD box-set last Christmas but haven't yet got around to a re-watch. I don't know if I can cope with the heart-breaking fate of so many of the animals..

Rain Mac: H+M
My bag, shaped like a watering can, seemed like a good addition to the theme and somehow I felt more put-together than usual, if a little bit weird. I guess I'm pretty used to weird, though.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Tuesday Titles 144..

Although I *do* have a book review for you (I read speedily on the stair-master at the gym last night as I realised that it's quite a while since I actually finished a book - the perils of having about ten books on the go at any one time....), first up I wanted to share a little book-related item with you which I think might be the perfect (*whispers*) Xmas gift for any bookworms on your present list...

Mock up Cotton Tote Bag on Brick wall Background

This tote is the first product from Daydreaming Designs, which will be releasing book themed products every month. The tote bags, which cost £10 including UK postage, can be pre-ordered here until 29th October. After that date, provided 50 pre-orders have been placed, they'll be produced and shipped and the next product will be released soon. I love this slogan; perfect for the perpetual to-read pile which so many of us face...

In book review news, I have a cheerful one for you today:

The Pets at Primrose Cottage: Sheila Norton
The Pets at Primrose Cottage is to be released next year, but at the moment you can read the first part of the book, just to whet your appetite. The story follows Emma, who has moved to a remote village in Devon to get away from her past and needs to start a new life. Trying hard to keep a low profile, she makes up a few little white lies to cover her tracks, but before long things begin to spiral out of control. Telling her new landlady's neighbour she is a pet-sitter lands her with an unexpected new career path and the village gossip seems to spread like wild-fire.

Charming and easy-going writing makes this the perfect book to cosy up with, although you'll have to wait until March for the whole thing.

Read anything great lately? Please share in the comments..