Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Recent podcast discoveries..

Podcasts Collage

Last weekend I ended up with an unexpected couple of days to myself, as something I'd signed up to help out at didn't need me in the end. Which was great, as I was able to have a day or two to just catch up on life things. I've been clearing out cupboards, wardrobes and trundling things down to the charity shops, clothes banks and the local recycling centre as part of the preparation which you get into when you're planning to move house. And I needed a bit of background noise, so I raided my podasts app for something new. 

I was talking to someone a couple of weeks back who said they didn't like podcasts because they found it annoying to listen to people rabbiting on about subjects, even when they're subjects which may actually interest them in real life, because they end up being self-indulgent, like vlogs or Youtube videos, but I was trying to explain that there are so many different types of podcasts, that you don't have to be limited.

Here are a few of the things I've been listening to over the past couple of weeks:

Girl in Space: This follows the fate of a young scientist on board a dying space ship, with only a robot for company. Who she is, we're not entirely sure, but there are suddenly a lot of people who wish to find out. Told in the format of a recorded ship's log, it's super descriptive and doesn't take long to get sucked into life on board.

Lake Clarity: This was my first taste of the FateCrafters podcasts. Season 1 follows a group of teens who go camping in their summer break, heading out to a lake which was once the home of an abandoned summer camp. They record what they find and suddenly things get a little scary. Season 2, which is also available, follows reporter Sam, who picks up their story whilst she's reporting on an event in a nearby town. I really enjoyed this one and had listened to both seasons within a morning - perfect sewing accompaniment. 

The Boring Talks: Good old Radio 4 have produced this and it does exactly what it says on the tin. A weekly talk from someone on a subject which they (but possibly nobody else in the world) are passionate about. From changing your name, to road signs, to a man who has kept a record of every sneeze he's ever experienced, I like a weekly dose of this one. 

The Other Stories: I think I may have mentioned this one before, but I'm still listening avidly. Perfect for any fans of horror or gore, The Other Stories has a new theme each month (recently we've had Egypt, Virtual Reality and Theme Parks), and each episode is a standalone short story of 15-20mins, often covering all kinds of gruesome stuff. Another one which I subscribe to and look forward to each Monday, as I've binged my way up to date on all of the previous episodes.

Aftershocks: Another FateCrafters Network offering, I moved on to this one when I'd finished Lake Clarity and I love it. Riley, who has been hearing voices in her head for as long as she can remember, finds herself sent to an institution, where she gets to know some of the other patients and things seem okay, until something weird begins to happen. The others are convinced that some of the patients aren't "going home early" as the nurses suggest, but that they've actually been killed. But who would be doing that? 
There have only been a few episodes of this so far, but I can't wait for more.

Attention Hellmart Shoppers!: I think this may be my favourite of this list, despite being (from it's description) the one I expected to like the least. Hell-o-Mart is a hypermarket which is located in small-town America, right over the gates of Hell, so some of the staff and the customers aren't as human as you may expect. There are vampires on security, demons and leprechauns. Our anti-hero, Daniel, starts his new job at Hell-o-Mart and it takes him a while to get used to some of the oddities he finds there. 
Actually, this one turned out to be hilarious - it's full of witty jokes and fast-pasted dialogue and I was rooting for our band of merry oddballs to win their battle against the corporate bad guys by the finale - again, I listened to this entire show in the course of a day. 

Have you listened to anything good lately? I'm always on the lookout for new podcasts. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Blog Tour: The Leavers

The Leavers
The Leavers: Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo's mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an "all-American boy." But far away from all he's ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother's disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It's the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he's loved has been taken away and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

I'm excited to be part of this blog tour. The Leavers is one of those books which will stick with you for a while after you finish the final page, I think. 

I'd liken the style to Little Fires Everywhere, which had a similar style and effect on me as a reader. Gently dealing with the issues of immigration and ethnicity and identity within society, I found the melancholy tone of writing describing Daniel's struggle to find his own identity pretty much resonated with the general struggles of growing up, as well as his situation with his mother. 

Tuesday 24

GO read this, and see what the others on the tour thought of it, too.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Tiptoe through the tulips..

Emily Skirt*: 405Story
It's been a while since I had something new drop through the door. I mean, I know that's the whole point of having a spending ban in place (and I keep telling myself that it will all be worth it in the end!) but still. It made a nice change to unwrap something new and know I'd have to put a pretty outfit together to show it off.

Picnic Basket Bag: Accessorize

The skirt is from 405Story; purveyors of bold prints and classic styles, who take their inspiration from the Californian coast. This tulip print appealed to me because of it's bright colour and retro vibe. The mix of bright colours makes me think it's going to be easy to style with lots of items - I've visions of pairing it with my trusty red cable knit jumper in the colder weather, too.


As it happened, the weather on Thursday rather played a part in deciding how to style this pretty tulip print. It was just too warm for anything other than bare arms (cue this bottle green vest top) and bare legs.

Shoes: Irregular Choice 
I picked out these shoes because I liked the idea of throwing in a contrasting print in the red stripes, and the gingham on this picnic basket bag as well, just added to the mix. 

Pelican Necklace: I Am Acrylic

This pelican necklace, too, is something which I only tend to wear when the sun is shining. I'm not sure whether it's because it has beach-like connotations, or what. But it's bright, and cheerful, and seems to be a major talking point when out and about and completing menial tasks like posting parcels and wandering around the supermarket.. I love the little fish on a chain, which fits into the mouth (beak?) or the pelican, too. 


Anyhow, how would you dress for the warm weather? Is that it, after those glorious few days of sunshine, or are we in for any more?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Sequins galore..

Dress: Handmade 
At last, the sun has caught up with the weather reports and it's getting warmer. Don't worry, I didn't wear this today and risk melting into a little puddle of plastic. But, it seems like an age since I last shared any outfit photos so here's one from last week.

Bag: Accessorize // Brooch: Topshop
Since buying them last November, these boots have skyrocketed up to being one of my most-worn pairs of shoes. Over the winter when we had the bouts of rubbish weather, I reached for them as despite being sequinned to the nines, they're sturdy and waterproof and have fared me well through puddles and ice.

Boots: ASOS
Because I'm clearing out my wardrobes (it's a slow and gradual process, but it *is* happening), I've been finding things I'd forgotten about. Some of which, like this robot bag, are completely awesome and I wonder how I could have ever forgotten.. See also, the Crown and Glory headband which is barely visible, but says "love", in sparkles.

Jacket: Primark

This dress has been another of my most-worn items since making it before Xmas. It's funny how I can reach for one and overlook others which are made to the same pattern. I guess there's just something about the print and the fit which appeals to me. As for the sequins jacket? Well, one can never have enough sequins...right? 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Blog Tour: The Lido

The Lido
The Lido: Libby Page 
You'd be forgiven for thinking you were getting a case of déjà vu here with this book, as I did already review it when I finished reading it the other day. Because I loved it and I couldn't wait. You can read that review here if you should so desire... #lovethelido.

Nonetheless, I volunteered when the publishers were asking for people to take part in the blog tour for The Lido as I this is a book I've not stopped talking about for the past few weeks. I love a good underdog story and this one brings the whole community together in their attempt to save something which has been so important in so many people's lives. 

Excitingly, it comes out on 19th April and if you haven't pre-ordered it, I'd definitely recommend it!

Rosemary, our leading lady, is 86 and has lived in Brixton all for all of her life, and the lido has played a huge part in her life. When so many other things are changing, she takes comfort in a place she spent so much time with her beloved husband. 

When council plans for redevelopment threaten to close the lido she swims at daily, Rosemary won't let her age stop her from playing a huge part in rallying the community together and the determination and tenacity which she shows is something to be admired. She fights for what she believes in and makes the reader long to Be More Rosemary. 

Which got me thinking about strong role models in my life. Age shouldn't stand in the way of standing up for what you believe in and in many ways I see a lot of my own grandmother in Rosemary's character and actions. Kind and caring, whilst looking as though she wouldn't say boo to a goose, she never fails to amaze me with the way she'll stand up for the things she believes in. 

Have you read any books where the characters make you think of people you know? I find it happens to me quite often. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

On the fringe..


I don't think I've ever been much of a girly girl. I know this probably sounds like a strange thing to say, coming from someone who loves pinks and pastels, sequins, kitsch and bows at every opportunity. But when it comes to the finer details, the haircuts, nail polish and eyebrows, etc etc, which so many girls seem to spend forever on, I tend to give it a miss. I don't know what to do with most of the contents of a make up bag. Literally. No. Idea.

I couldn't tell you the last time I had my hair cut...until last week. Professionally, I mean, rather than just hacking away at the wonky split ends or plucking out the grey ones with a pair of tweezers (I know, I know, you're not supposed to do that. Kill me.) 

But, I'd been thinking for a while that I wanted a fringe again. It's been years and years since I had one, but I didn't hate it and it's cheaper than Botox, and seemed as good a way as any to hide my horrid forehead, which frankly seems to be a mixture of age lines and ridiculous acne, all of the time. Ugh. 

So, leaving things right until the last minute, as per, I frantically telephoned around a bundle of local hair salons. One of them could fit me in that day and I turned up looking windswept and embarrassed that I'm hopeless at things like this and never know what to ask for, and get all stressed out at being asked to look at myself in the mirror etc. 

But, my hairdresser was lovely, and listened to me and reassured me that she would cut off as little of the length as possible (I *like* my long hair and kinda want to keep it.) And she cut me in a fringe and shaped my hair around my face, and showed me it and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw a little bit less. So that's a start. And that's the story of my new hair.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Friday Favourites 274..

Isn't it funny how as soon as Easter is out of the way, people start talking about holidays and jetting off to sunnier climes. If only! But, whilst I may not be going on a holiday this year, it doesn't stop me thinking about holidays and enjoying all of the holiday themed prints which seem to be hitting the shelves lately..

001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005 // 006 // 007 // 008

Lobsters, swimmers and ice creams, oh my! Clearly sunbather prints are currently all the rage, as I also have about three different sunbather print fabrics bookmarked at the moment. But here's my pick of the beach prints from the high street for now. 

Palava seem to be going all beachy-themed this season with lobster print dresses and cardigans, as well as the long-awaited swimmer print. (006, 003, 005)

I really like the contrast of the red stripe along this Yumi beach print dress, as well. (008)

My Cath Kidston wishlist is long at the moment, and this ice cream bag (001) would be perfect for toting my seaside essentials about. The sunbather print dress (004) is pretty cute with it's shoulder cut-outs and the button detail to the front, but I think I'd need to see it in person as I have a feeling it might be rather short. 

007: This Little Moose necklace is still one of my favourites of their current offerings; I'm fairly sure I've mentioned it before. Also this glittery ice cream necklace is pretty awesome, too (002).

Do you have any holiday plans? 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Her fight and fury is fiery..


When I was little I remember having what I thought were the very best items of clothing I've ever owned. Maybe even ever seen. I (and my sister, as my parents had a tendency to dress us in matching outfits) had a set of green dungarees which had a dragon face on them, with a tail to the back, and another blue set with an elephant face and trunk on the front. I know that sounds like the ubiquitous onesie now and there are many similar things to this available on the childrens' clothes market these days, but at the time they were pretty cool. I think that's where my love for dungarees was born.


In my teens I remember managing to track a couple of pairs down, too. I had a beige coloured set which allowed you to zip off the lower legs, to make them into a playsuit, and these I wore a LOT. I also had a yellow pair from La Redoute (I'm actually parting with them over on my clothes sale at the moment..) which I wore a lot whilst I was in college but did used to be regarded as a little weird. I was super glad to see the return of the dungarees into mainstream fashion (hello Lucy and Yak, who seem to be taking the "creative Insta-type" market by storm!!!)

So, when I received the Cotton and Chalk Sunday Set as a free gift with a copy of Simply Sewing magazine, I hung onto it and decided I would definitely make myself a pair when I found a suitable fabric. This embroidered twill, which Sarah was getting rid of seemed the perfect thing to use for my first pair. 


As you can see, I was a little concerned about them when I was partway through the construction process, but I hadn't read ahead far enough in the pattern notes to realise that I would be gathering the top of the trousers to fit their waistband. Yes, I wanted them oversized but I was worried they were going to be completely silly. 


Luckily, all turned out well in the end, and I still really like them, after a few wears. I'd definitely recommend the pattern, and have also made the pinafore dress, although that one *did* end up a little too big on the waist and so is waiting patiently in the alteration pile. Does anyone else find that these take longer to get around to than new projects?

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Where the demons dwell..


We spent last weekend down in Wiltshire and whilst we were there, we decided to make the most of our time and pay a little visit to Stonehenge, as the wedding we'd been attending was not very far away. I booked tickets online, because I'd read a lot of reviews online that if you haven't pre-booked, you might be turned away when you get there, depending on the number of visitors. 


We'd opted for the first available slot, which was 2pm when we looked on Sunday morning to book for later that day (I hadn't wanted to book in advance as it was going to depend on the weather and what else we'd planned to do in the town we'd been staying in, but as it happened there was a half marathon in Devizes on Sunday so it looked as though various parts of the town were going to be closed, so we opted to be on our way as soon as possible...)


Upon arrival, we navigated the confusing parking system (you pay £5 to park but then you get it back when you buy your tickets, unless you've booked online in which case you don', what on Earth is that?!) and headed for the pre-booked tickets line. As well as the parking faff, when I gave the booking reference on my email, it didn't seem to match up with my name or booking information. To be honest, the whole entrance system had me less than impressed by this point. Ugh. 

Due to the weather, which was grey and rainy and misty, we opted not to hire the audio tours (which would have cost another £9 each), as they had lots of stops where you'd have to wait and listen. We decided to head for the shuttle bus (which takes you from the entrance to the stones themselves) and didn't have to wait long to get onto the next bus. It looked as though these run pretty much constantly back and forth. 


Navigating our way around tourists and low-flying selfie sticks, we joined the masses in shuffling around the roped off stones of Stonehenge, stopping to read the information boards which are located around the stones and to take some photos. They are quite impressive, particularly when you think about the effort people must have gone to to move them into position: quite the feat of engineering, but it seemed a shame that we were kept so far from them. 


Once we'd passed the Heel Stone and made it back to the bus stop, we decided not to do any of the walks which were signposted from the stones as the weather was looking worse. We caught the bus back to the Visitor Centre, which directs you through the gift shop (where you can buy just about anything one can imagine with the word Stonehenge printed on it!) and then went to the exhibition, which was really interesting


Outside, there was a little village made up of mock wattle and daub huts, to give an indication of what life woudl have been like for the people who built the formation (although most of these were padlocked up so you that visitors couldn't actually access them) and a replica stone on a wooden sledge with a sign telling you to test your strength to see how many more people you'd need to be able to move one of the stones. Again, this would have been pretty good to try, but it was broken.

All in all, I'm glad that I can say I've visited Stonehenge, but it's probably not something I'd bother visiting again. Have you been?

Friday, 6 April 2018

Friday Favourites 273..

FF273 Collage
001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005

This week has seen me stuck in that weird, post-bank holiday limbo where I'm not entirely sure what day it is, and despite only being a three day week, it's felt a little like dragging through treacle for most of it. 

But hey, it's Friday again so the weekly tradition of sharing what's on my internal wishlist is upon us..

001: I have this dress from Joanie in the super mermaid print they also released last year and wore it so much, so I'd be more than happy to add it's yellow striped sister to my wardrobe. 

002: Another new Joanie beauty - this swan print is so muted that in my head it could pass for a fairly neutral day dress, and yet it's covered in swans. Awesome, no?

003: Puffins! I love the Lindy Bop Audrey shape - probably my favourite of all their styles and I have a *lot* to choose from. And, puffins!

004: 405Story are a fairly new-to-me brand, but they've got some lovely items online. I particularly adore this bright floral print - it would go with just about anything. 

005: Another Audrey, this time in this classic lemon print. So lovely!

What are you wishing for this week? 

Monday, 2 April 2018

Can some ghosts live upstairs?


I love baking and I love a challenge, so of course when my sister asked me a few weeks ago whether I'd make her a birthday cake, I agreed and started racking my brains (and browsing Pintrest) to think of something she'd love. She's a big Studio Ghibli fan, recently introducing me to a couple of her favourites (we've seen The Red Turtle and she's also had me watch Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro recently too). In fact, when I needed something to cheer her up a couple of weeks back, I set about making her some soot sprite cookies and I guess that inspired me to attempt a Totoro cake for her actual party. 


She's fairly easy to please when it comes to the actual cake part of things - a chocolate sponge always goes down well. For this, I used my tried and tested usual sponge cake method: weigh your eggs, use the same weight of butter, sugar and plain flour. Add a splash of milk, 1.5tsp of baking powder and for chocolate sponge, a tablespoon of cocoa powder. I made three layers, using a slightly smaller tin for the top layer in the hope that they'd end up kind of dome shaped when I stacked them up. 

KXPZ8334 (2)

I sandwiched the layers with seedless strawberry jam (her favourite, bleugh) and whipped up some buttercream to smooth around the shape. I'd hoped to mix up some fondant icing using fondant icing sugar but it didn't seem to want to thicken up enough, so in the end I dyed the majority of a block of shop-bought white fondant icing with a little bit of black food colour gel to give me a greyish colour. 


I modelled some primitive ears from the grey and held a little back for the marks on Totoro's tummy, before rolling the remainder out quite thin to cover the cake. I tend to make things like this up as I go along, and when I'm putting together a cake find it easier to place it onto it's stand first to work directly on there - too many occasions in the past where I've tried to move something once it was complete and had it fall apart. 


More primitive fondant icing shapes, all using shop-bought blocks (one green and one black, but I didn't use very much of either, and the remains of the white block I'd turned grey for the eyes and the tummy. I stuck the second layer on with just a little warm water, using a pastry brush to soften the layers up, and found that it worked perfectly well. I know that sometimes people seem to use thinned down jam for this part. 


The only other thing I used was a pair of sugar eye (which I've previously bought from Hobbycraft but have noticed that our local Tesco has begun selling them) for the soot sprite. Everything else is just fodant icing and it all seemed to stay together well, even in transit. I must invest in some larger cake boxes. 

It seemed to be well-received and hopefully tasted good, too. I know it's a little primitive, but at least she knew what he was meant to be!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Did somebody say new shoes..?

IC Spartoo Collage
001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005
Not being able to buy new shoes when I fancy is definitely being hindered by the amount of time I seem to spend browsing new shoes. At the moment, here is what's topping my Spartoo wishlist, but I have to admit this changes on an often daily basis. All Irregular Choice, of course.

001: I have a pair of Ascot already but this new take on them is great with the pineapple print. Also, I'm a sucker for just about anything with a bow on it.

002: Blue glitter heels with a bow on the front just make me think of Cinderella and her glass slippers. I love these and think they'd be worn soooo often. 

003: Pineapples once again - they seem to still be reigning strong over the rest of the fruit for popularity, don't they?! Although it seems odd to say this about a shoe with a big, sparkly pineapple embellishment on the front, I think these look really classy and love the T-front shape of them. 

004: Fluffy Love: the perfect alternative Easter gift? I can't quite decide whether I love the bunny front strap, but I definitely do love the heart shaped heel. 

005: These are a fabulous new take on the classic IC courtesan shape and I think the corsage front gives them such a toadstooly, woodland theme. Very much like these. 

Any favourites? 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Friday Favourites 272..

FF272 Collage
001 // 002 // 003 // 004

This week has been nothing but a speedy rush to get things done ahead of the weekend, but now it's here and it's long and I can finally relax, and I for one am excited about that. Here are some pretty things which are making me smile this week..

001: The latest statement heel offering from Irregular Choice was released last week and isn't it cute? Woodland vibes, with terranium style heels containing grass, flowers and mini animals. These ones have faux grass around the edges and bunny ears on the fronts. Cute, no? 

002: I, along with the rest of my Instagram feed it seems, love this Collectif dress, which has been teased for months but is now finally available. It's even cuter, in my opinion, than the watermelon one from last year (which they have available again this year as well!) and would lend itself to just about any cutesy pastel colour. Want. 

003: A contrasting mint green cardigan with an ice cream patch, you say? Yes please!

004: Hannah Hitchman creates all kinds of cute and wonderful things, but this axolotyl pin is my favourite and has been languishing in my Etsy hearts section for aaagggess. If Harry Potter house emblems are your thing, she's got you covered and she also has some rather cute Fantastic Beasts pins. 

What's caught your eye this week? 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Glitter in the air..

So, as I was scrolling through my IG stories today, I noticed this post title, which piqued my interest. Having read the post, this sums up pretty much exactly how I've been feeling about an ex friend who has randomly been in my thoughts more and more over the past few weeks.


These past few days have been a little bit..serendipitous, I think the word is. Perhaps it's a combination of the clocks changing, the springtime weather starting and the fact that lately I am happy and positive about new things and spring cleaning, but somehow I seem to be finding that things are just kind of...falling into place. 

Finding things I thought I'd lost, remembering things I'd forgotten to do, managing to get around to sending that little note or parcel, finding the perfect recipe for an upcoming meal. It's all just  been pretty good, of late. 

Since making the decisions to give some things up, and take a little of the pressure off the small amount of spare time I had, and this weekend has been really productive. I managed to problem-solve my way through some of the things I had to finish, made a cake which I'll share photos of,  and made decent progress with listing more and more of the contents of my wardrobes for sale (over here if you'd like to take a look). Baby steps. And, incidentally, baby blankets, after seeing something amazing online the other day and being inspired to make more presents.. I'm finding that knitting is quite relaxing, though, so I guess we can call that one "self care".

Anyone else finding that Spring is bringing with it a whole new wave of positivity?

Friday, 23 March 2018

Friday Favourites 271..

001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005

Something new (to me) this week. I noticed one of the people I follow on Instagram posted a photo of her new Dogo Shoes order and knew I'd have to check them out. I think they're based in Turkey, but it looks as though they ship their products to the UK with no issues. 

So many different designs, many of which are available in several shapes and styles, too. From flat boots to kitten heels. I've picked out some of my favourite designs - I think the penguin boots look great with their little red straps and the red soles, too. 

My favourites have to be the Adventure Awaits design, which are advertised as a mens' style, but look quite a lot like the army style boots which I tend to steal from the OH when I want something comfortable for pottering about in the garden. 

What's your favourite design? 

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The 30 day shed...


Or, alternatively titled: In Which Char Gives Up Various Extra-Curricular Activities to Improve  Life Enrichment...

I've talked before about working better under pressure and to be honest, I still maintain that I do. I have agreed to a few things which I'm going to probably be under a little pressure to get done in time (birthday cakes and the like), but in the past couple of months I've been getting better at letting things go and also saying no to some things. 

I think one of the best lessons I've learnt over the past few years is that when you stop enjoying doing something which is meant to be a past-time, it's time to leave it in the past. It came as something of a surprise to all of us that one of my voluntary roles came to an end in January and I was asked to continue with it for another year or so, whilst they looked for someone else. (I don't think any of us had realised how quickly five years had zoomed by!) After some consideration, I quashed my immediate reaction, which had been to just continue with an extension. Instead, I decided that it was time to pass it on to someone else, before it began feeling like a chore. I have to say that I already feel a lot better for this decision. 

I always try to shy away from talking about self-love, as I find the concept to be a bit wanky (in more ways than one), but I guess that this is a similar kinda of thing; making decisions based on what is best for your own mental and physical well-being. 

Whilst I'm not posting this to justify my choices exactly, I did find myself trying to justify why I'd decided to give up my allotment this year, for example, when I was talking about it the other day. (Incidentally, several reasons like not having enough time to devote to it, not being dedicated enough, the prospect of moving to a different town which would not be in walking distance, to a house which will have a garden, and wanting to have more weekend / holiday freedom).

I think, what I'm finding is, that part of this year's spring cleaning is happening in my very own brain. I'm learning that it's okay to find time to do the things which I want to do. And that I don't have to justify or account for every moment of my spare time with "worthy" causes. Apologies if none of that made any sense. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Top 10: Orla Kiely..

Orla10 Collage
001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005
006 // 007 // 008 // 009 // 010

My 2018 spending ban is going well so far, but it hasn't stopped me from window-shopping to excess. I stumbled upon the Orla Kiely website for the first time in absolutely ages, and fell for all of the above. In particular, the preppy checks of this baby pink skirt and all of the bugs which seem to be adorning most of the SS18 collection. That embroidered bugs bag is amazing (002). 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Friday Favourites 270..

001 // 002 // 003 // 004

Well hello! It seems as though it's been a little while since I felt as though I was back in the swing of things with my regular features. But here's a little list of the things I've been lusting over this week. Collectif are gradually releasing all of their SS18 clothing and I would like it all, to be honest. But I've narrowed it down to a pretty pastel spring-time outfit...

001: The Dolores top is a classic style and seems to flatter everyone who wears it. Seriously, I've never known any other design (I have several Dolores dresses and always feel good in them) to be so flattering. One in every colour, please!

002: Not Collectif, but Irregular Choice have released new colourways of their Bunny Hop shoes and I'm smitten with the lavender shade. I *know* I already have a pair of the yellow ones...

003: Not only is this handbag the most perfect retro shape, but it's also the same Jessica floral print as this dress, which I've worn so much since it arrived. 

004: This skirt just screams 50s at me and I love the colour. How good would this look with a full petticoat underneath? 

What have you been loving this week? 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Sweet seduction in the magazine..

Film2Collage Flim1 Collage

Whilst I've been cutting back hard in order to stick to my spending ban, one of my exceptions this year was always going to be film and theatre tickets. One of my Christmas presents from a friend has been annual membership to the local theatre, which also includes our lovely little indie cinema. 

I absolutely love taking myself off for a solo cinema date, and have been to most of the above by myself. The benefits of a little friendly cinema like ours is that nobody seems to judge you for this, with the only downside being that screenings aren't on for long (only one screen, you see), and tickets can sell out very fast, so you need to book in advance. 

Here's what I've watched so far this year: 

The Party: Set in London over the course of one evening, as Janet hosts a party to celebrate her new promotion, an unlikely gathering of acquaintances reveal snippets of their history and current lives, with a fairly surprising ending. I enjoyed this, but if you're expecting action and adventure it's not for you. It has Cillian Murphy, though, in case that swings it.. 

The Shape of Water: Oh man, this was adorable. Winner of Best Picture at The Oscars, I couldn't wait to watch this and had high expectations, although I didn't know much about the plot before I went in. I absolutely loved the styling, of everything. Even the laboratory was portrayed with the level of whimsical aesthetic which was applied to everything else. Yes, the plot is a little predictable, but it's certainly worth watching: a love story between two unlikely romantics, peppered with old movie references and key lime pie. 

The Post: I couldn't pass up a chance to watch my main man Hanks in his latest offering, could I?!I really wanted to like this, but I think I made it to about halfway through before I started checking my watch. Yes, an underdog story is great, but I guess there's not a lot you can do with something which is so well-rooted in history that you already know how things are going to turn out. 

Suburbicon: Again, the styling and general 50s kitsch-ness of this film made it more enjoyable for me. I know it was horrible and full of racism and judgement, but the purpose-built town was cute af. The storyline was a little odd, but I liked the ending. 

The Greatest Showman: I must admit, when I booked the tickets for this I had absolutely no idea what this was about, other than Hugh Jackman in a circus setting, which had me sold. I think this one is a movie which you have to watch with a pinch of salt, as whilst it's message seems on first look to be about inclusivity and a celebration of diversity, you'd be naive to think this was a true reflection of a 19th century man who made his name by exploiting those outside the normal constraints of society. Theatrically, I liked it and it had a certain level of whimsy and romance to keep me happy, aesthetically. I'm going to put my tin hat on here and say that whilst I enjoyed the soundtrack during the movie, none of them made enough of an impression on me to have listened to them since. (In contrast, when I watched La La Land, I wasterd little time in downloading the OST when I got home, as the music was in my head for days, and whilst my expectation was for a similar experience, this one for me, kinda fell short.) 

Call Me By Your Name: Um, I'll start by saying that my thoughts on this one have definitely mellowed since I saw it. I wasn't entirely taken by it when I saw it, but the story and holiday vibe of it has kind of stuck with me and I'm looking back with more fondness than I know I felt at the time. A smorgasbord of teenage angst, childhood boredom and sexual exploration, I guess there's a nostalgic charm to this coming of age film. Plus, it was worth watching it at the cinema in order to enjoy the reaction of my fellow viewers at *that* peach scene. Also, I have a newfound love for Armie Hammer following this winning response to a criticism of the nature of this film. 

Been to the movies, lately? 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Tuesday Titles 155..

The Lido
The Lido: Libby Page

If you're looking for a happy book, which you'll just enjoy from start to finish, can I suggest that you dive right in to The Lido? (pun intended). 

Meet Kate, who moved to London to become a journalist, but now writes local interest pieces for the Brixton Chronicle about lost cats and dogs. She shares a flat with four other people she barely knows, and tries to avoid both her housemates, and her regular attacks of The Panic. She's drifting.

A new article introduces Kate to Rosemary; an 86 year old dreamer who has lived in Brixton for her whole life, and is dismayed to see the future of her home in jeopardy. She's never known anything else; has never swum outside of the lane.

The potential closure of the local lido brings Kate and Rosemary and a bundle of other local people together in their united aims to change the minds of the developers. Whilst they might not have anything else in common, the lido brings together the old and the young; students, school-children and working people. 

This uplifting debut will have you feeling that community spirit is alive and kicking, and is available from 19th April 2018.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Second star to the right..

I do seem to be getting very lax at this whole blogging thing. I'll have all these ideas, then when I turn around it's been a week and I haven't posted anything at all. I'd apologise, but that seems to be something which happens in every area of my life right now. I suppose the answer is to try and manage my time more wisely.


I don't feel as though I managed my time very wisely this past weekend: I spent most of it in bed with a sickness bug, which put paid to all of my weekend plans (sorry, Parkrun!). I'm feeling a little brighter now and in between naps I managed a sum total of six chapters to finish the book I'd been reading (see tomorrow's post!), four rows of knitting and the finishing touches of this dress. Not as productive a weekend as hoped, but what can you do?

I'm back in the throes of a love affair with my trusty Simplicity 2444. At one point in dressmaking I felt as though that particular pattern was almost something of a cuss-word, it was so so common. But, I love the shape and have been reaching for my older versions of these dresses lately, so it seemed right to make some more. I finished a polar bear print one a couple of weeks back, too.

I've been on a fabric ban so far this year (actually, an everything ban - no new anything until after we move. Not that there's a date for that yet, but still..) but I have *so*much to work my way through, even after sending a big package off to my friends' Brownie unit to use, and another big bag of scraps off to my sister. The stash looks a little tidier, but there still doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to make everything I'd like to. 

Fabric: Riley Blake Neverland collection.

Anyhow, this particular fabric arrived back in November. Despite not being one of those Disney-obsessed people, I was reeeally drawn to both the background colour and the cartoonish, pastel hues of this Peter Pan print. Since I spend most of my Mondays and Wednesdays answering to being called Tinkerbell, it only seemed right that this should become a dress. 

Settling on 2444 was the easy part, I guess, and I cut the pieces out a while ago. I've been stalling over what to do about the collar. I'd wanted to do some kind of Peter Pan collar, because I thought that would be kinda cute, but having already decided it was going to have pockets, the off-cuts I had left didn't have the best parts of the print on them, and although I could have just about managed a couple of collar pieces from them, I didn't like how they'd sit. 

In the end, I raided a jar of trims which I've collected over the past few years and came up with these purple sequins which seemed to match the print rather perfectly. I hand-stitched a collar outline to the top of the bodice (I know the photo might not look like it, but they're even and I did use a template piece), and also had enough left to go around the hem. Hand-stitching sequins turned out to be a relatively gentle activity, which I was able to  manage between naps on Saturday morning and endless episodes of The Animals of Farthing Wood. 

The only thing left to do was decide what shoes / bag to wear with it...


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Tuesday Titles 154..

The Ice Cream Girls
The Ice Cream Girls: Dorothy Koomson

In a desperate attempt to assist with the current spring clean of my bookshelf at home, I've been reading my way through some of the books which have been on my "to read" shelf, in order that I can liberate them to new homes. This week, amongst other things, I read The Ice Cream Girls. 

If you'd not heard of this, you might be mistaken for thinking it's a teenage-y chick lit romance, but you kinda couldn't be further from the truth. This one should probably come with a trigger warning, as it's two main characters, Poppy and Selina are linked not in friendship, but rather by a man they are both in love with. A man who happens to be much older than them, when they first meet him as teens.

The girls are victims of abuse, and it's fairly heavy-going, so I wouldn't recommend this if you were looking for that easy-going chick lit. Things come to a head one fateful night and the lives of the girls are linked forever, as they'll never be able to escape what happened. Or will they? 

Skip forward twenty years or so, and we see how Poppy and Selina have moved on with their lives, their families and how they've hidden the truth from the people they love the most. Whilst I liked the way in which the narrative skips between girls and back and forth through time; it was still easy to follow the story, I did wonder why there were several threads of intrigue which just got left behind. (e.g. I wanted to know what happened with Mez' marriage after her heartfelt confession). 

Naturally, things are wrapped up in the final few pages of the book and I have to admit, not exactly how I'd expected, which was promising - I like a book which keeps me guessing. 
In finding the photo, I realise this must have been adapted for television, which I can see being quite successful. Have you read / watching The Ice Cream Girls?