Thursday, 30 April 2009


It's been almost a year since I started this blog. When I first set up my profile, I saw the 'books' and 'films' etc sections and just knew that I could never make such a decision. 'Interests' is also quite a broad section but I had less difficulty with this one because I angled it towards my interests on this blog. The first two were a bit twatty: love and life, but they are great at simply putting what I am interested in. The third interest is even more twatty, if that's possible, but it's also the most true.

There are plenty of things I am interested in. A lot of them are incredibly mundane (which I admitted in my fourth interest) but around the time I started this blog, I began to realise that the whole time, in some way or another, I spend my life searching for beauty.

I don't know, simply because I do not have mind-reading skills whether everyone else has this same motivation behind much of their actions as me, but I would suspect that quite a few people do. If you think about it, searching for beauty is something you do one way or another most of the time. There are the horrible aspects of it: striving for your own physical perfection, constantly desiring material goods, wishing for a different, more glamorous life.

As you may be able to tell, I thought long and hard about this topic. In some ways, that's what made me start this blog, which I use to document the positive aspects of a search for beauty. I may be writing about my personal life, shopping, films, books or general ramblings but if you look closely, you'll see that somehow it's linked to surrounding myself with beauty. I'm not sure what the hell would happen if this blog didn't have some sort of direction, so I find it helpful to have that object in my mind. Still, the fact that so far I have found it so easy to write over 300 posts about this shows that the search for beauty is infinite and everywhere.

Very nearly one whole year ago I wrote this post. How funny that one year later, every single word of that rings true. Although I didn't articulate it, the writing I put up was a documentation of the realisation about searching for beauty. A couple of months later, I wrote much more obviously about it in this post, where I mentioned that I had started an offline journal entitled 'Beauty'.

Yesterday, I was searching for some note paper to write out some electrical symbols. The first book I grabbed out was a bright orange notebook. On the front cover was written the one word 'Beauty'. On the first, page there was one paragraph explaining the title of the book. The rest of the book is empty.

Recently I have been suffering from a nasty bout of hay fever, through which the great outdoors doesn't seem so beautiful. I am lacking in energy, stressed, anxious, bored, irritable. As I sat down to write a post I thought to myself:

'What is the point? I am not seeing any beauty right now. I shouldn't be writing this blog. Right now, I am in the perfect mood to write that other depressing story which I haven't touched for over a week.'

But, of course, I was just being moody. As soon as I started typing, I remembered the bright pink flower fallen on the concrete pavement which I saw on my way home today, and how much I wished I had a camera to capture that stunning image. Now as I type this, I remember the woman I saw on the tube with her leopard print coat, black trousers with the glittery pink flare and blue eyeshadow resting her arm around the shoulder of her sunglass-clad lover. I remember the sweetness of the librarian who let me take out a book even though another one was hideously overdue. I was wrong. When I am in a mood like this, the worst thing I can do is go and carry on writing that depressing story and my mind knows this and that is why I haven't written any of it for a couple of weeks.

My mind knows that the best thing to do is not allow itself to fall into an energy-less state whenever it can. My mind knows that I should continue in my search for beauty, because when it isn't bad, it's very, very good.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


I only want to curl up inside my bed and re-immerse myself in the many worlds of the trilogy I am racing through at a highly intellectual level. Until then, I must drink endless cups of tea to keep myself fixed in this present place. My shoulders droop and my body feels heavy. I cannot even contemplate the idea of getting a textbook out and doing the revision I had intended to. I have worked all day. I sink into the bath and slowly lift my arms, using my last reserves of energy to clean and wash and condition my long hair, and repeat. By the time I am out of the bath it is only 9PM and I am far too tired to do anything but go to bed.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


Yesterday I headed off to try to break through my shopping wall. It wasn't pleasant. Every shop I entered (and I entered a lot of shops) was filled with clothes but 97% of them fell into one of the following categories:

1) Hideous
2) Would look hideous on me
3) Hideously expensive

Undeterred, I carried the 3 remaining percent into changing room after changing room, where further faults presented themselves. Nothing was quite right. In fact, there were a couple of sweet items which I came across but I could always find some reason not to buy them - one thing I don't need is another jacket, and definitely not in such wintry colours; this top is cute, but it's also very clingy and see-thought; I can barely walk in this skirt. I am sure that this time last year any of these issues would not have stopped me.

Finally I headed into GAP, a shop which has yielded some of my most often worn, comfortable and complimented purchases. GAP loves grey and navy even more than me (I think all my GAP purchases are indeed in those two colours!) and GAP does not follow trendy cuts in their clothes, which is very helpful for me since I have a rather unfashionable body shape. Still, I tried on approximately 10000 dresses and they all made me look either like a witch, a pregnant woman or Amish. The last dress which I tried on was beautiful but too big, due to the kind yet impractical vanity sizing which GAP employs.

A shop assistant had informed me that they didn't have the dress in the size down, and when I checked there were indeed about 6 size 10s and nothing else (I am not exaggerating this time!). So, after a long day, I admitted defeat and decided to go home.

You know what happened, don't you? One last check of the rails as I left the shop uncovered a lone size 8 which I quickly tried on over my clothes. It fit. And with the 30% off voucher I had printed off earlier (get yours here, it's valid 'til 4 May) it was also wonderfully cheap!

My new dress makes me feel a little bit like a character in Desperate Housewives. I love that sort of 50s look since it's so flattering, but I couldn't resist the urge to add some un-housewivey tights to the outfit. I'm wearing it already - I told you I needed new clothes badly!

Friday, 24 April 2009

An Intellectual Level

Note: this post features excessive use of linking to wikipedia and imdb, as a result of way too many references to popular (and unpopular) culture which I couldn't always be bothered to explain myself. And then I didn't know whether I should italicise titles, or put them in inverted commas so I just linked them.

One of my friends and I have an on-going joke (I'll warn you, it won't make you laugh) which came from an episode of Desperate Housewives. This friend loves culture: dance, art, theatre, books all interest her. Since I like these things too, we will go see plays together or discuss our current reads, all the while marvelling at how grown-up we sound. Sometimes my friend likes to make fun of me for not knowing who Akram Khan is, and then I'll tell her she's pretentious. I can still remember the outraged spluttering I was met with when I admitted that I found Trois Couleurs: Bleu dull.

But it works both ways. My friend also likes to watch a lot of crap TV, possibly even more crap TV than I watch - and that's saying a lot. It is when we come to the topic of TV that I will defend Desperate Housewives as witty and intelligent, whilst she assigns it to the 'good shit' category of entertainment (as opposed to 'good good' i.e. Trois Couleurs: Bleu or 'shit good' i.e. something good she didn't like or 'shit shit' i.e. Big Brother).

One evening, we were going to see Ralph Fiennes to play Oedipus at the National Theatre (my verdict: unabsorbing, her verdict: magic) and the conversation turned to TV.

Me: 'Ooh, did you see Desperate Housewives yesterday?'
Her: 'Um, yes,'
Me: 'Well, Oedipus reference!!!'

OK maybe those weren't our exact words but it was a few months ago now. I was referring to the episode 'We're So Happy You're So Happy'. In this episode, Lynette tries to learn more about her son, Porter, by pretending to be his age on an Internet chat website. Porter ends up falling for Lynette's online persona and sending her the love poems which Lynette had introduced Porter to. Tom, Lynette's husband and Porter's father makes the genius reference to the Ancient Greek tragedy Oedipus (if you don't know the story, click on his name), telling Lynette to quit talking to Porter online before he...

Tom: 'Kills me and blinds himself'

The inner geek in me absolutely loved this subtle reference, and was all excited about sharing this with the only other person I know who reads Greek literature and watches Desperate Housewives. Oh, no. Apparently, she does not engage in 'good shit' on an intellectual level, and now I am mocked because I do.

Even if maybe there isn't that much in Desperate Housewives to explore on a deeply profound level, I started thinking about how much people miss with entertainment. After all, we are only watching, listening or reading this stuff to be entertained and it is not the end of the world if we do not catch all the subtleties which the creators of the works probably put in to keep themselves from feeling bored.

Take The Little Prince, which I have been re-reading lately and loving the quaint story and the beautiful illustrations. This time round I am getting the vague impression of some sort of deep message about human nature, but since I'm not studying it in a work setting (which is probably the only situation when you need to analyse art) I haven't really dwelt on that at all. Like many other famous children's books, it is simply a great story, with something in there for the adults too.

Still, I think there are some things which cannot be completely successful if you do not truly understand them. I once watched a three hour long Macbeth and, having never studied it, found it the most boring three hours I have ever spent being 'entertained'. Actually, I don't even think it was Macbeth. It may have been Hamlet. It's not just old-fashioned Shakespeare which can be difficult; I found that I hated reading Philip Pullman's hugely successful His Dark Materials trilogy when it first came out and was targeted at my age group. I did actually quite like the first one, which is undeniably a good yarn. But by the time I got to the third one, the whole metaphor for atheism vs. religion (which I only found out about recently) had gone way over my head and I was bored to death. So maybe there is some importance in really understanding something to enjoy it.

Right now, I am re-reading His Dark Materials on a highly intellectual level.

Look, Pullman's novels have even been published with different covers (read about that here) for adult editions and children editions. I'm pretty sure the adult editions don't contain any risque extras, but I suppose if you're reading the book with the adult cover, you're reminding people that you are reading the book on a highly intellectual level.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

i want moooooore

I haven't been buying very many clothes lately, and I have come to the conclusion that my wardrobe simply isn't extensive enough. Now, this would probably be a dream for plenty of people who are just itching for an excuse to buy lots of new stuff. However for me it's not like that because there isn't really anything specific which I want to buy and need an excuse for. Wait, no, let me amend that. There isn't really anything other than high-heeled evening shoes or a huge feathery, fluffy jacket which I want to buy.

The stupid starry shoes which I've been wanting for ever. I want them in silver but I'll take them in gold too.

That doesn't really help though, since my quest is based around shopping for day-to-day items, now that I've discovered that my hot pink high-waisted pleated corduroy skirt with heart shaped gold buttons isn't so cut out for casual wear. I've been shopping plenty of times, but I only ever seem to come away having spent a ridiculous amount of money on frappucinos, honey popcorn and meals at Leon. Oxford Circus makes it so easy for you to spend your money. Either that, or I come away with another beautiful, but essentially useless, bracelet.

It doesn't help either that I'm not really digging my body right now. It's stupid, I know, because everywhere I look I see plenty of people with stunning bodies wearing hideous outfits, and people of all shapes and sizes in drop-dead gorgeous fashion. Still, I don't claim to be reasonable, sensible or rational right now.

Tomorrow I am planning on going shopping. This will require some serious effort because I can think of lots of things more fun than a shopping trip right now i.e. drinking lots of tea, going for a run in the park, having a back-to-back mindless TV marathon, revising for my worryingly soon exams (OK so that last one doesn't sound like that much fun I suppose). Oh my god, who abducted the old me??? I want her back!!!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

showing off is good for you

Sometimes I find the English love for modesty, even if it is obviously false, deeply irritating and stifling. Personally I believe that once in a while, an unembarrassed and undisguised showing off can be very good for you.

So when a couple of you asked yesterday to see a few of my homemade cards, I was more than happy to oblige. One thing I'd forgotten is that, as a self-confessed show-off, I had shown you plenty of my cards before already:

Exhibits One and Two
- my favourite Happy Birthday cards
Exhibits Three, Four, Five and Six - my favourite technique
Exhibits Seven and Eight
- thank-you cards
Exhibits Nine and Ten - matching card and giftwrap
Exhibit Eleven - LOVE card
Exhibit Twelve - homemade envelope
Exhibit Thirteen - a clue card

That's a lot right?

But did you really think I'd stop there? No way! I'm always up for more showing off and I don't feel bad 'cos it's the only crafty thing I've ever been able to do; pottery, sewing, jewellery, they all failed. So trust me to find the one most popular technique the hardest to master. You can find tons of information on the Internet about how to make absolutely mind-blowingly amazing pop-up cards, and when I was younger I spend a great deal of time trying to imitate them in design lessons.

And so in order to balance out my ego-show, I give you... my pop-up cards!

The top one - I made this years ago planning to sell it for Valentine's Day. Um, strange font, random heart made of tissue paper and messy glue. It's still waiting in my drawer for a Valentine who I don't think would mind.

Middle - I quite like the idea of the wrapping paper behind the pop-out. But I cannot forgive myself for that glitter application (WHEN will I learn the don't-use-glitter lesson then?) nor the fact that it took about 10 minutes to make; the guilt sets in if a card doesn't take approximately a month to complete.

Bottom - well... I don't know what I was thinking. A pop-out Eiffel tower? Made of tin foil? And oh-my-God the cover...

Oh well, laughing at yourself is good for you too.

Monday, 20 April 2009

treasure trove

Two of the things I find most relaxing are taking a ton of photographs, and admiring the objects of the photographs. Since I also really enjoy creating cards (pretty much my only creative-in-a-practical-way outlet) my room is a treasure trove of beautiful card, ribbons, buttons and pretty much everything I can lay my hands on. I am sure I have enough things to make clothes, jewellery etc; I am very well supplied, however my skill/time really doesn't extend that far.

I don't often spend very much money on craft supplies, preferring to accumulate bits and bobs along the way. However I recently went through a bout of creating several cards which all required quite a lot of material and left my supplies sadly depleted. I bought a couple of bog standard cards to tide me over, and so you can only imagine how delighted I was when my sister presented me with a cute little present she'd got me. Two of the most unique and beautiful pieces of card I have laid my eyes upon:

Before long, you've guessed it, I was happily flicking through and snapping away at the other greatest 'jewels' in my treasure trove.

I once decided to take up sewing. I bought a sewing machine, and my friends all got together for my birthday to buy this awesome stackable sewing stuff storage unit + all the sewing accessories you'd ever need. These days, the storage finds itself home to all my spare buttons, ribbons and the thread and needles which I use on my card work.

I am not disdainful of the more cookie-cutter variety of crafts. I did not buy these but have found these cut out letters which came in a Christmas card-making pack (along with pop-out shapes and glittery, velvety and shiny card) surprisingly versatile.

I also have a big brown box which is home to all the completely random bits and bobs which find themselves becoming useful. Old jewellery, skeleton leaves, bits of ribbon, glitter, sequins and scrap material live here in glorious chaos.

Do you have any treasure troves like this at home? What do you use them for: collages, scrapbooks, or just for ogling?

Sunday, 19 April 2009


I arrived home yesterday evening, although unsurprisingly I didn't have time to post; I was more preoccupied spending nearly an hour trying to wash salt and sulphur out of my hair (nice).

At times it was annoying not having my camera to capture more tricky things like the insanely clear and starry sky, the sweeping mountains, or pools of water filled with coins, or the Norther Lights. So you can imagine how delighted I was to have managed to take this photo of a rainbow at the bottom of a waterfall.

I find rainbows fascinating. In nature, they are so beautiful in their unnatural colour scheme. In fashion, I am yet to see a rainbow design which isn't instantly tacky.

Maybe this is something to do with the fine balance required for a rainbow. You need two constrasting weather types: sun and rain. This in itself fascinates me because it is a reminder that life is always about opposites, happiness and sadness, sun and rain, however (or perhaps therefore) it is beautiful.

There is that myth about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I love little stories like that, creations of the imagination which have charmed us so much that they have endured. When I was away, our tour guide told us many stories about elves and trolls and ogres and ghosts. On the final day, he said to us:

'Thank you. For many years now, fewer humans believe in these creatures. I believe that perhaps this is something to do with the advent of the electric light. But as long as someone believes, they will stay alive. So thank you for believing, and they will stay alive because of you'

Yes, I chuckled a little, but I also think that it's a sweet thought that leprechauns and elves, trolls, ghosts and ogres do exist in the most beautiful realms of nature.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

'stranger than fiction'

I seem to be getting into a habit of making my post titles a little misleading. But I'm sure you appreciate that thinking up a blog title is surprisingly difficult; I should have just subscribed to the idea of making all your titles a song lyric or simply a number, but I'm way not cool enough. Anyway, although it's not that relevant, for those who haven't seen it, Stranger Than Fiction is a film about a man who starts to hear an author narrating his life in his head. The author is a woman who is suffering from writer's block and is trying to decide how to kill the protagonist of the story: the man whom we watch hearing his own life being narrated. Clear as mud? Good. Actually, I was surprised to find that I really liked the film. I suppose my strong dislike for Will Ferrell and romantic comedies was balanced out by my girl crush on Maggie Gyllenhaal (and the cool plot about writing). So, maybe you should just go see it.

ANYWAY. Last month I posted about this book I had almost bought, and then a couple of weeks ago I bought it. And then this week I started reading it, and now today I am rapidly reaching the end and I don't want it to stop!

This is definitely not Nobel Prize winning stuff, but it's charming and readable and it has an interesting context (which I wrote about in my past post). Plus, I think it deserves a prize for its wonderful ability to relax a stressed and tired me.

The thing which really surprised me about this book, and which prompted the post title 'stranger than fiction' is the way in which the character Mary seems to mirror how I feel. Yes, I am a teenage girl from London like her, but she went through teenagedom around 70 years before me. And yet she, too, goes through all the same motions and feelings that I do. To name a few: wanting to cut your hair really short, dabbling in the 'arts', falling in love with Paris... I could go on.

Now I am really sorry that these days all of my posts seem to end in the same way: with a 'now this led me to wondering if' and then a smattering of question marks and then opening the question up to the readers. It would be better if I could actually come to some sort of conclusion about my ponderings. But reading 'Mariana' really has led me to wondering: despite the difference in facts and statistics - I have never owned a country house, I do not have a dead father, nor an acting uncle and I did not grow up in the 1930s - are all our experiences of growing up fundamentally the same?

That could be quite a depressing thought to the struggling non-conformist, who wishes to soak in their angsty solitude. Maybe I shouldn't mention to them that I've felt that exact same angst too, and so have many others, and so has Mary of 'Mariana'.

Monica Dickens, author of 'Mariana', probably went through it all too.

PS this post was pre-scheduled (please appreciate the willpower it took not to put it up straight away!) so I apologise for not responding immediately to your philosophical and wise responses to the questions I have put forward.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

500 currency and 5 pounds sunnies

Today I am off on an extremely exciting holiday for five days. This weekend I was bored and had very little to do in the way of procrastination so I pre-scheduled a couple of posts, but eventually I decided that some revision was probably a good idea since I was about to go on HOLIDAY!!!

So, of course, I will miss all the fabulous blogs I read but I don't think I'll be shedding too many tears (sorry). Now I'm going to love you, and leave you with this picture I took last week when I got all excited about making holiday preparations.

Here you can see my new £5 sunglasses from M&S, and the currency I bought, also from M&S. Marks & Spencers are always one of the things I miss most when abroad; I think they must be the only place where you can buy sunglasses for so cheap which won't actually somehow be detrimental to your eyesight. And they are certainly the only place you can buy the currency I needed right now, thanks to the economy.

Monday, 13 April 2009


I'm off on my jollies very soon now, and have just finished packing. I was especially uninspired in writing a post about 'finding beauty everywhere' (as I am meant to be doing on this blog) today after seeing that for the next week I shall be wearing old jeans or tracksuits, fleece gloves, walking boots and, wait for it, a hat with earflaps and a pom-pom.

I have decided not to lug around my precious but rather awkward camera. I am a little sad about that since there will definitely be some stunning photo opportunities - for which my camera phone and a Kodak disposible will have to suffice.

So as a goodbye to the camera I took some photos of this cool little rubber. Symbolic on many levels, no?

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Discover yourself

When I took the title 'discover yourself' for this post, you may have conjured images of a heartfelt essay about the importance of truly understanding yourself, your soul and being true to that self. Sadly, I don't think I'm anywhere near in a position to lecture anyone about that right now.

What I was referring to is that strange tendency we humans seem to have of constantly surprising ourselves with our decisions or tastes. I'm talking about the little things here.

For example, I assumed for a long time that I absolutely hated navy and would never wear it, after I got rid of my very first pair of glasses (which were, admittedly, ghastly). And before I knew it, I realised that approximately 70% of my wardrobe was made up of various shades of blue. The rest was black and grey. Now, I am embracing colour again, so you are more likely to find me in bright pink tights and a huge purple bag - although they will probably be accessorising a navy dress, of course.

Similarly, I struggled for a while against reading any books written over a hundred years ago, until I encountered the marvellously 'modern' Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair. Now I actually find it very difficult to read the latest fiction. Sure, there are a few modern classics which I loved, but I think the problem is that the latest releases haven't had to stand the test of endurance over time, so there is a lot more crap to plough through.

Testament to this complete 180 I have done in terms of my taste in books is my 'unfinished' shelf - every single book on there was written after 1900. And they're all books with a good reputation too: On Beauty (just lost interest), The Trial (I got the message after one chapter - and oh my God Kafka, could you please use paragraphs???), The Accidental (pretentious, much?). Well, you get the picture.

So all this leads me to wondering about the nature of taste. Evidently our tastes and preferences do evolve, but is this evolution endless? Or do we reach a point when we have fully discovered ourselves? And in that case, were our previous preferences merely misguided errors in judgemet, due to current fashions, our peers or our ages? What do you think?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

cute graphics

The Internet is absolutely stuffed with all sorts of games and ways to while away a bored hour; sometimes I wonder how on earth people used to procrastinate. Personally I am not such a fan of these games, probably a combination of me not being very good at them, and the sheer amount of rubbish games you have to wade through to find a gem.

However I do quite like puzzle games, which rely less on super computer technology. The online murder mysteries can be great, although sadly they are very scarce, the graphics are often rudimentary and the solutions always seem a bit half-hearted. So you can imagine how charmed I was when I happened upon Anika's Odyssey, a one-time puzzle which is great because there is no possibility of addiction.

It's short and sweet but surprisingly clever. In fact, I will admit that I cheated a little.. OK, a lot. Nevertheless, it still took me ages to complete because I was spending so long taking screenshots of the unbelievably adorable graphics. How cute??

(click on the picture to enlarge. Yes, it's cute, but I feel some of the magic is lost when it is reduced to microscopic size...)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Love... hate?

There are some things which everyone's a fan of, which are simply stunning, no doubt about it.

And yes, I do love a good old classic Chanel handbag, but sometimes (and shh, don't tell anyone I said this), I find them a little bit boring. They're just so predictable that something banal creeps into their beauty.

That's not to say I'm particularly edgy, or personally into the whole so-hideous-it's-kind-of-cool look. I like it on others, but I don't think I have the right look for it. You aren't going to find me in some of those fashionable old-school Doc Martens any time soon...

Still, I do have my own style and I positively shrink away from anything on-trend. Yet I celebrate that, as I'm sure most people do.

What interests me, is when you take an item which is neither traditionally 'ugly' nor 'on-trend' and see how whilst one person can absolutely love it, another person can think 'um... yuck!'. What's even more interesting is when the two individual's styles aren't that far apart. Today I bought a bracelet which I loved, but which my darling mother definitely thought was 'um... yuck!'. I normally like what I like to be liked by others too, but in this case I really don't care as I am so mesmerised by the beautiful beads and the way they catch the last of the sun's rays.

Have you and someone who is relatively close to you in style ever been polarised by a fashion item?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

ice-cream, you scream

Today I did some holiday preparations, for a trip next week: leg wax, currency exchange, buying some cheap sunnies - more on that tomorrow! It is sooooo the wrong time for a holiday, when I should be working. But I figured, and rightly so, that even if I was at home, I'd probably be wasting my time browsing the internet.

Anyway, even though it won't even be that hot, the nature of the preparations have got me right into the summer mood (and shivering on the street, inappropriately dressed in short shorts and thin tights... oops). And my online window shopping has put me in an even more summery mood.

I dare you not to feel sunny and summery looking at this fabulously ridiculous Mulberry bag:

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

It taste like...

A lot of the time, it can be very difficult to articulate an answer to that all too common question: 'what does it taste like?'. Of course, you could answer 'very sweet!' or 'spicy!' or maybe even 'like little bites of heaven!', although you may elicit some odd looks if you try out that last response.

However over the years, I have found one ingredient which seems to pop up everywhere.

I was first attracted to the wonders of Marzipan. As a young child, I was mesmerised by the often beautiful forms which marzipan can take. When I stopped eating chocolate, I found that marzipan is a wonderful substitute for that sweet taste.
I was thinking of finding some of the beautiful fruits or miniature animals I have eaten in marzipan form over the years. But no, a Google image search throws up several search results for marzipan babies instead. How creepy would it be taking a chunk out of these ones?

Anyway, moving swiftly onwards, PLEASE...

Almond croissants
I soon discovered that almond croissants are indeed my favourite croissants. I also realised that it is the crushed almonds which lend the distinctive taste to marzipan, which can also be found in the almond paste you get in the centre of a nice almond croissant.

You can tell I like to just scoop out the insides of it, can't you?

The next discovery I made was a little more surprising.

Apple pips
The first time I tasted an apple pip, I immediately shrieked 'it tastes of marzipan!'. Unfortunately, the people around me at the time had never troubled to eat the whole of an apple before, so just thought I was crazy. I simply accepted that apple pips are a great way of experiencing the almondalicious taste without all those calories as well. It was only later, when I was speaking to someone else who commented that apple pips taste like marzipan, that my interest was really aroused. I found out that apple pips actually contain the poison cyanide in them, albeit in tiny harmless quantities. And later, I was reading a Roald Dahl short story in which a character is poisoned; one of his final observations is that 'the tea tasted faintly of bitter almonds'. Turns out... cyanide smells (and tastes) like almonds. I slowly began to make the links: apple pips taste like marzipan, apple pips contain cyanide, marzipan is made of almonds, cyanide tastes like almonds...

I still eat the pips, and sometimes I start chewing the stalk too...

And today, I found that amaretti tastes like marzipan too. Surprise, surprise, it's made of almonds. So now, please tell me, why on earth do almonds themselves taste completely different???

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mutually exclusive?

I'm not going to give you yet another essay on the high heel; there have been enough of those already over the past year. But just to give a quick background to anybody who has been living in, I don't know, an orthopaedic shoe shop, let me summarise:

This year has shown heel height grow to extraordinary heights and now, as usual with anything which gets too popular, the backlash has returned. I think here might be a good place to insert a link to one of the aforementioned high heels essays. The writer of it, Hadley Freeman, does tend to have quite polarised opinions about fashion trends which I wouldn't expect the majority of her readers to share, but I seem to normally be on a similarly practical/ironic/boring wavelength to her and so find myself nodding along to her advice on topics such as leggings and American Apparel, whilst the rest of the world goes out shopping for leggings in American Apparel (wearing high heels).

Wow, that was long sentence.

Personally, I do not wear heels very much. I have one pair of sparkly blue heels which I had to wear as part of a costume for a play a few month ago - standing on stage for 2 hours four nights out of five definitely helped turn me away from heels. I suppose my sensibilities have always been at odds with heels; I love to walk, be active and generally in a balanced upright position. But at the same time, my girly side loves the way they look as well as, of course, the way they make my shoes look. So I've always got a vested interest in the search for a pair of truly comfortable heels. And by that, I do not mean heels which are comfortable as far as heels go. I do not mean heels which will not topple me over on my first step and and will not rip my feet to shreds. I do not mean heels which are fairly stable as long as you don't really move. I mean heels which are as comfortable as a pair of comfy flats for more than 15 minutes.

Maybe I got these picky ideas from my mother who lives in her sportswear or a pair of stylish jeans and some stylish ballet pumps or boots. She too has been searching for years to find an exception to the rule of heels and comfort being mutually exclusive. There have been several casualties along the way: some platform shoe boots proving that platforms do not equal comfort, canvas espadrilles which make your feet ache a surprising amount for a pair of shoes so hideously unstylish, a cute pair of open-toed Camper sandals which can be worn about three times a year in a UK climate by a woman with mild Raynaud's.

So off we set on our expedition to try to disprove this unpleasant hypothesis. Eventually, I struck lucky. Entering the gazillionth shoe boutique, I screened all the shoes until I came across a pair of elasticated black patent shoes with a modest heel. In their unworn form, they look kind of ugly all scrunched up but on the foot they are indeed very simple yet elegant. The leather is ridiculously soft and I am informed that they are 100% comfortable; I am not allowed to try them on for fear that my slightly larger feet will stretch them.

removed for privacy reasons

Who knows, I might just enter it and buy a pair of their stunning ballet flats.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


It seems to be, that when I'm bored, I take photos.

Shamefully, I have a pretty wonderful DSLR - do not ask me what the model is, I haven't got a clue - which I only really know how to use on automatic mode. So up until now, I have been experimenting based on what you can do with a lens with a very limited range, and an even more limited knowledge of photography (like, you know when you get a really good shot but for some reason the camera won't allow you to focus because there's not enough light or you're too close or whatever, or when it just won't take the damn photo?)

Still, I've got pretty nifty with using focus and depth of field. I've spent ages snapping at whatever poor object I decide to make my next victim. And I've even got brave enough to get a couple of centimetres close to a live wasp/bee, since my camera won't zoom in close enough.

Today, I spent forever trying to capture this £2 coin I discovered in my purse as clearly as possible. The camera simply wasn't doing what I wanted it to. So I started to fiddle with d-lighting (any idea what that actually means?) and one thing led to another, and before I knew it I was switching the camera's setting from 'A' to 'M' (again: any idea what that actually means?) so that the photo is taken instantly without any focusing or anything. I pushed down the contraption on the top of the camera which makes the flash happen (oh, the shame, how untechnical did that sentence sound? And any idea what that is actually called?) and then I found myself switching round all the other settings on the camera but then panicking and switching them all back (any idea how to actually work these settings?).

I managed to get my sister on hand as model for a couple of photos, although I'm not so comfortable posting those. On the other hand, feel free to wonder at the beauty of my stunning £2 coin:

Do not underestimate how long it took me to choose which photo of the same coin to post. Turns out the more 'arty' ones all have a random piece of thread in the background. Turns out the ones I spent forever adjusting the light settings on and focusing on don't show the inscription round the edges properly. Turns out you can see all the detail on the actual coin the most clearly in the photo where my fat hand is taking up half of the photo. Give thanks for cropping.

By the way, I was totally serious with all the questions in parentheses in the fourth paragraph; if any of you guys are into photography and also a little bored, I would love a few answers!

Friday, 3 April 2009

yes... BUT!

Today I happened to stumble across a blog which seems to have been around for a long time, and been making a big deal for a long time. Comments are approaching triple figures (I think my record has been 12!). After flicking through the blog archives for a looong time - yes, I will go to incredible lengths to avoid revision - I even found several mentions in magazines such as Teen Vogue.

Jane of Sea of Shoes is a female blogger who writes about style and is the same age as me. I am still a little shocked that I only came across the blog now.

I suppose our similarities do end there. She has an entire wall of heels; I have one pair of heels which cost £15 in the Office sale and are rarely worn. Her wardrobe is a mixture of insanely expensive designer gear and vintage; I could count on my hands the number of 'labels' and vintage in my wardrobe. She's skinny, rich, blonde, American... so no surprise that I was unaware of her presence, since I do tend to stick to the higher-level writing of all you lovely bloggers who may actually be reading this post!

OK, enough. You may have noticed a slight unpleasant whiff of the envy which drenched every word in the previous paragraph. Yes, I will freely admit that my initial reaction to Jane's undeniably fabulous wardrobe was jealousy, followed by that reaction which human beings tend to produce when showing their jealousy would not be suitable: disapproval. 'Does she know how much those heels will damage her?' and 'she doesn't seem to have any friends but her shoes!' and 'she's so spoilt!!!!' are all examples of the poisonous thoughts which may drift through an envious reader's mind.

I am sure that there is plenty of judging that could be done about me. I like to think that it comes from jealousy. And in my dislike of judging and jealousy, I will have to do my best to merely admire Jane's blog and admit that she does indeed have a wonderful eye for stunning outfits. Most importantly, it's brilliant escapism.

One thing I didn't mention is the human's other response to realising that they are jealous. We also enjoy finding aspects of our lives which are infinitely better than this otherwise superlative person. And I can safely say that I have found mine. For five days a week, Jane has to wear a school uniform (I hadn't realised these existed in America; I assume she probably goes to a more traditional private school) and can only showcase her fine apparel at the weekends. I, on the other hand, am now free to step out in my slobby style seven days a week - that's what I was referring to in my first bullet point in yesterday's post - because I now no longer have to wear a uniform ever, ever again.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

post-it updates

I realised today that, instead of having nothing to write about... I have way too much to write about.
  • Today was the end of an era; an era of acrylic jumpers, trousers with broken zips, holey trainers, painful pumps, shapeless shirts with buttons missing and my daily uniform for the past five years.
  • Today I realised it's time to get fit for summer. I'll be upping the exercise routine big-time. Yay?
  • Today I discovered that I still fit into a vintage white dress from several summers ago. So what, it squashes my boobs a little? It still looks pretty sexy.
  • Today I wore my new home-made haircut. My hair feels a lot lighter.
It feels a little wasteful, squishing the potential for a handful of posts into one. But I'm in a decadent mood. Enjoy.

sad eyes

As you may have been able to tell from my tone recently, I have not been in a good mood. Why?
  • Head-aches, stomach-aches, a constant runny nose. Hay-fever... PMS... swine flu??

  • Boredom with work, a complete lack of interest in how an electrical plug works and in which order which wars happened when.
  • Important exams which I will be about to start in exactly ten days and two hours, exams about how an electrical plug works and in which order which wars happened when.
  • Teenage angst about body image. Throw in some more teenage angst about boys and you could pretty much have a crying wreck with those two things.
  • Things I need; things I've lost. A very important book which I can't find. My prescription sunglasses. My good mood.
  • And then this morning a rejection letter which I have been waiting for, for weeks and weeks. Not the rejection letter, I was waiting for the acceptance letter and I got the wrong one. This morning fate decided to be cruelly ironic nd send me two letters. The first one I saw, the only one I saw at first addressed to me, was satisfyingly large like a big acceptance letter with lots of application forms inside. It wasn't that though; it was a letter from a bank sending me my new debit card in a disguised envelope so that it wouldn't get lost. And then, the second letter, small and disappointing.
  • Along with the letter, a whole postoffice-ful of negative emotions about boredom and loneliness and talentlessness.
As I tried to regulate my breathing, as the painful spasms slowed down I knew that I was sharing the unhappiness which reaches every other person on the planet. I knew my sadness would pass, and that since it wasn't much fun, I should help it pass swiftly. But I also knew that even if getting dressed and shopping and working and seeing friends are all things I need to do, I'm not sure if I'm alright with letting tears stop. That's how grief is, isn't it? You want it to go, but you don't want to move forward you want to move backwards and if you allow the grief pass you are moving so far forward, leaving the oblivious cheeriness even further behind.

I couldn't let my tears wash away leaving no sign but a red nose which was there anyway due to hayfever. I had to capture it. But can you see all that in a photo? There's the redness and the shine that might point to tears and crying. But that could be an eye infection, or yet again hayfever or some other allergic reaction. Can you see sadness too?

Note: once I had completed and spell-checked and uploaded photos to this post, I was a lot calmer. My eyes were completely dry; if you took a photo now, I would just look a little scruffy (I haven't fixed the hair yet... or tried to conceal the cut on my eyebrow). And with my calmness I felt more than a little embarrassment about this post. I wondered what the point was in writing it, since it definitely doesn't fit into the parameters I described for the content on this blog just yesterday. Is this overflowing a little too much into a journal style of writing? I came very close to deleting this post. Instead, I decided to add this note in which I request that anyone reading this, please don't be embarrassed into silence. Add your own anecdotes of moments when you have felt like this, tried and tested hayfever remedies, feel free to throw in a few compliments to flatter me... wouldn't that make this whole thing seem a little more comfortable? I just knew that I had to write this, and I hoped you kind readers wouldn't mind that I wrote it here. Thanks.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A perfect fit

I've not been sleeping enough recently, and add to that a whole lot of stress, I crashed today at approximately 11:30 AM today and fell asleep.

I don't know how long I would have carried on sleeping if I hadn't been woken up about an hour ago by a knock on the door. Bleary-eyed, I rushed down to greet a (rather cute) delivery man. It was only marginally more embarrassing than an incident this morning, when a guy with a gorgeous Australian accent asked me what road we were on. I realised that I had absolutely no idea, despite having walked down it approximately 2100 times in recent years - I am not exaggerating. Anyway, I digress.

I soon realised that the shoes I had ordered only two days ago had arrived. When I had ordered them, it said they would arrive within 5 working days and I spent hours quizzing my friends on whether they thought that might mean 5 working days as in Friday, or 5 working days as in Monday. Well, it seems they meant 5 working days within Wednesday! Woohoo!

I don't think I've properly told you the story of these shoes yet. Oh wait, I have, but once isn't nearly enough for me with good stories. When I last left you, I'd just discovered that my shoes were available in half sizes; not instore, it seems. So I bit the bullet and finally lost my online ordering virginity. At first I was a little irritated by the £3.50 delivery charge, but I was soon placated by the discovery that online websites often give you online discounts, if you know where to look. After a little digging, I found 20% off my chosen shoes with a discount code on a money-saving website. Delighted, I awaited my order.

So, they arrived, all wrapped up in a big turquoise package and then a nice shoe box and then wrapped and stuffed with tissue paper. I had no idea how much fun receiving parcels you've paid for could be. And most importantly, the shoes are a perfect fit. An all-round happy experience which has definitely roused me from my sleepy state.

As you can see, in the end I didn't go for hot pink, but the colour I had tried on in-store. It's absolutely gorgeous, but also absolutely impossible to capture in photos. You'll see that each of my photos, the photo on the Clark Originals website and the photo in the Clark's online shop all represent it slightly differently. That doesn't mean I didn't try to capture the colour... I'd say it's probably closest to my middle photo.

You can buy these gorgeous shoes here. If you want the discount code, just leave me a comment and I'll send it to you... but it expires THIS Friday so be quick.

Clarks Originals - Imperial Girl