Tuesday, 30 June 2009

a real character

A few days ago I came across some photographs released by Disney of some of the characters in the upcoming Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. From what I saw, I was pretty excited. Fabulous costumes, great actors and most importantly, it was clear that this adaptation will do justice to the larger-than-life characters who fill Carroll's fantastical story.

That's also the reason I adore my hardback copy of the book illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

Her colours are so vivid

Some of the pictures so large they span the entire double spread

Others fit around the writing like a perfectly-fitted glove.

Attention to detail down to the ending of each chapter.

And always, always, the wonderful characters are brought to life.

Because that's the charm of a fantasy like Alice in Wonderland, isn't it? Imagination... being transported to another world with the senses: things like the touch of a page, the smell of the book, the sound of dialogue, the visual appeal of illustrations or film. Thus films like Tim Burton's imaginative re-imagining are the perfect setting for this first fantasty of Alice, who said it best:

"and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

Monday, 29 June 2009


In the normal way, as soon as I have had plenty to write about, the time to sit and write began to slip away. Still, there's one thing I want to share with you which shouldn't take too long: my new mascara.

As you will see if you explore my posts with the tag 'beauty potions', they are far and few between. I simply don't wear very much make-up. Recently, I've got into lipstick which I should have started so much earlier, considering the naturally blue state of my lips. But even now I often can't be bothered with checking the mirror every time I eat or drink, and reapplying in public.

Eye make-up's even worse. The glasses which I bought last year sit close to the face and I find mascara transfers onto them. As the frames are clear, I try to keep the glasses as clean as possible. On top of that, I find that the effect of eyeliner is sort of lost under a glasses frame, and creates a scary bug-eyed look with contacts.

As a result of my disregard for make-up, you will be unsurprised to know that I hardly ever replace it. But last week, exasperated with my much-more-than-six-months-old clumps of mascara, I went to my local Boots to stock up on liquid eyeliner, mascara and make-up remover. About an hour later, I finally found everything I needed (it's a small shop, by the way) having compared features and prices and special offers and brands and in the end given up and taken what was in my hands at that moment to the till.

Even so, I did make sure that my Nivea gentle facial cleansing wipes 'removes waterproof mascara'.

A day after applying my big yellow Maybelline mascara, I still don't need to top-up. Ah, I have much to learn in the arena of make-up application and removal.

Friday, 26 June 2009

beautiful bargains!

Yesterday I set out on a grand shopping expedition. I had a very clear aim. I was to buy a pair of black heels and a slip to complete a very important outfit.

Four hours later, I had tried on practically every pair of black heels in the shopping centre and concluded that it is impossible to buy a pair of heels which are the right colour, style, height, comfort level and price. Impossible. I also discovered that plain beige slips are impossibly rare and only ever come in hideous material, with lacey additions, in huge sizes or cost over £30 (the last one which I am coming very close to buying because there are no other options).

Just as, dehydrated and with burning feet, I decided to give up, a pair of earrings caught my eye. I had almost bought them at £22 several months ago but decided that the price was too high for the material/product. But now they were reduced to over half price and, with an expectant wallet which had not been used at all, I snapped them up. I reasoned that I had a shopping trip planned for today as well, to a very different sort of shopping area, so I would find my slip and shoes there.

Whilst I don't have a slip to make it decently opaque or shoes to make it less overly decent in length, I do have earrings which match my dress perfectly.

Today, I set off to Brick Lane, beautiful location of vintage shops, markets and independent boutiques without an Office shoe shop or John Lewis underwear department in sight. Still, I saw plenty of shoes. Even now that my specifications had widened to metallic as well as black heels, and even wedged sandals, another four hour trip yielded no shoes (for the same reasons as before). I wasn't really expecting to find a slip, and with my friend reluctant to enter the lingerie boudoir shops, there was no chance.

But again, just as, with severe blisters and sweating like pigs, we decided to head back for a film and Starbucks, I convinced my friend to go back to a shop we had briefly visited about three and a half hours earlier. I struck (non-shoe/slip) gold.

Area 142 is a pop-up shop. I don't really know what that means apart from that it is temporary and contains samples of beautiful fashion majorly reduced. Some of it was damaged, but mostly it was very, very bargainous. Sadly my lovely friend has none of my shopping stamina so I had all of ten minutes to buy

There were a few huge crates of designer denim, all for £20, but in small sizes. I couldn't really be bothered to squeeze into some thick winter denim in today's tropical weather, but these shorts looked bigger and are made of wonderfully thin denim. They fit great and Maje are (according to the shop guy) a famous French designer brand which I should really know about - especially considering I have a style blog. The last thing I need is more denim, which I live in already. But what the hell.

I immediately zoomed in on this second purchase the first time I entered the shop. I realised yesterday that I probably needed to add 'bag' to my shopping list as I do have a lack of evening bags. I almost bought a couple of bronze bags in Topshop yesterday but am so pleased I held out. I am in love with my new glitzy bag, which is also a complete bargain at 1/5th of the original price. My mum has asked me to give it to her after I wear it on Monday - she also wants to 'share' the shorts.

Um, maybe, if you were willing to buy me heels or a slip, Mum!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

in the pink

Inspired by...
  • Delysia Lafosse's costumes in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (documented the other day)
  • The many flowers I have photographed over the past few days
  • My eternal love for the colour PINK due to the well-known medicinal properties it possesses (cheers you up, makes you smile, makes you pretty)

...I have given my blog a make-over. As you may have noticed, I have installed some fish. Probably a psychological manifestation of my desire to own a pet, I had hoped to set them against a lovely sea background, which as you can see failed miserably. Nevertheless, I hope you will help me to look after the new fish by dropping some food into their tank with a left-click of your mouse on the water.

You will have probably not noticed: the new addition of a small heading, above the award images on the right; a slight re-jigging of the order of the page elements, which I cannot even exactly remember; the updating and moving of my blog's search engine. But these are all part of the subtle changes in a makeover which contribute to the overall result.

I was going to change the blog's font, but then I thought 'whoaa there, a step too far'. Still, the font size is slightly bigger, as you may or may not have noticed.

But you will have certainly noticed the brand-new colour scheme I have implemented. I love it; it makes me feel cheery, smiley and pretty. I hope that it makes you, dear readers, feel that way too, and not like you've overdosed on marshmallows and want to throw up. If it does, just let me know, and I may just tone it down a little.

magical garden

As I settle into my summer, I feel a slight tinge of regret that I won't be leaving the UK this time. There's always something so magical about relaxing in a foreign land. Of course, this isn't helped by my current read, A Room With a View, which puts me right in the mood for a romantic trip to Italy.

The photo you see above is from last August's visit to a small Mediterranean village. A garden lined in paintings where you can sit and sip lemonade under a canopy of growing grapes. Exotic. Magical.

But yesterday I looked into my British garden and it too, in the early evening sun, looked magical.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

fish background

(So my fish can swim in the sea - please ignore I just needed to upload this background onto the internet. )

Monday, 22 June 2009

pretty little things

It's no surprise that I have been a tensed up nerveball recently. I have had beauty deprivation.

You see, these past few weeks I have been so cooped up in my study room, surrounded by only as much beauty as you can find in a colourful textbook. Occasional binges in the form of a mad, guilty shopping trip resulted in little pleasure and few spoils. Then, this Friday, came freedom.

But instead of the expected sense of relief, and the tensions relaxed this unwinding nerve ball exploded. I am trying to explain this with analogies and similes but am finding it very hard. It seemed momentously important to make up for all the missed freedom and fun and beauty. Everything was suddenly ten times bigger, more tantalising, more beautiful. Still unattainable.

What I am trying (and as I said, finding very difficult) to express, is that in my beauty deprivation I forgot something very important: good things come in small packages. How could I forget that the best most beautiful things are often so small you don't notice them unless you look, and so powerful that they don't need to be any bigger?

So, slowly slowly, I have begun to recover. I have been helped by

Beautiful food

I have had the pleasure of eating out multiple times over the weekend, starting off with a celebrity sighting I eavesdropped on a celebrated male comedian's conversation over lunch on Friday. However it was yesterday which yielded the most delightful meal: a spinach crepe charmingly called La Popeye. I have had a craving for a crepe for months now, and sweet ones always seem overly indulgent so it was a wonderful meal choice as I could also fool myself into feeling a little healthy, what with the iron-rich spinach and the buckwheat flour. Yum.

Beautiful films

Instead of worrying that I am not maximising the two hours break I can afford with life-changing cinema, I can now happily watch frivolous films. I finally got round to watching Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day this weekend. Spanning, as the title suggests, only one day, Amy Adams' frequent costume changes, and the sumptuous set made it a light on the brain feast for the eyes.

Beautiful fashion

Although I have not yet fully regained my fashion mojo (um... wearing the same jeans for three days in a row... oops) I have had a lovely time browsing the rails. After last week's mad, bad shopping trip which resulted in a couple of work shirts (more on those later) and a couple of blisters, I have been taking it easy with gentle strolls along posh high streets. I have almost bought some gorgeous dresses, necklaces, earrings and shoes.

I believe that it doesn't matter that I didn't buy these items. Trying them on was enough; surrounding myself in their beauty was enough.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Last night I thought I was completely emotionally drained. Well, I was. But what I didn't realise until I rolled out of bed 12 hours later was that I was also physically exhausted.

Ho hum.

Anyway, as of NOW, I hope to become a much better blogger. Exams are over (they were over two days ago, but now recovering from them is also over) and I hope to concentrate on relaxing, enjoying and hopefully consequently be revitalised enough to start writing for fun again, properly.

I think I have said it before, but it is so difficult to be inspired when you've stayed in your pyjamas all day and the most exciting moment was making lunch.

Point in case: one day into my newlyfound freedom I was strolling with my friends when we passed a shop displaying the most absolutely gorgeous jewellery. I resolved to treat myself to a piece as soon as I start work - the prices are high for an unemployed student all roughly around the £100 mark, but not unattainably Cartier.

Of course, when I got home all I could remember was the location and the fact that the name was French. Cue, quick Google search which devastated me with the fact that they had a sample sale only a couple of weeks ago when I was still in the depths of exams. Damn.

Oh well, who knows, maybe there will be a summer sale by the time I actually get round to visiting Les Néréides.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


I promise this will be the last post on my card-making escapedes for a long, long time. Over this past week, I have churned out a grand total of TWELVE homemade cards (and written and stuck notes into every single one).

Now I don't feel anywhere near as bad as I did for buying a stack of craft stickers to tide me over. I can see that without those, I would have probably needed double the amount of hours, made triple the amount of mess and been ten times as creatively exhausted. Bear in mind that even with the assistance of these stickers, I still spent many hours, made a lot of mess and got very tired. Stick-on pearls, flowers and birds will only go so far.

Anyway, I seem to have deleted the original photo I took of all the materials I amassed to assemble the cards. Instead, here, I give you the final product:

The huge quantity which I needed to produce meant that I really couldn't afford to spend hours sewing on sequins and beads and fabric as I have done in the past. So I instead kept boredom at bay by experimenting with an A5 format (even A6 for those two little black cards) which has very different design results from my usual A4 cards. I also looked for all the scraps of coloured card I could, as changing up the colours really is a fantastic way to not get bored when you need to incorporate a beige background into 12 very similar colour schemes.

So from a distance, they all look quite different don't they? But you'll notice that I have cut out card to contruct a thank-you message three times. There are two cards which are essentially pretty pieces of paper stuck on the front of a piece of card. And see how many bird stickers you can spot.

Oh well, I suppose all that is an inevitability when you are essentially being a card-making factory. The whole process led me to think about how designers of clothes or other products go about design/production. Do they use all the same tricks to make their wares appear different when really they're all much the same? Thinking about it, you can certainly find much more individuality in smaller brands and designers than large scale production companies. Maybe that's why.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


I have never successfully read more than one book at the same time. Occasionally, I manage to pull off one of the books in the group, but never all of them.

I think part of the problem is that I really only read fiction, and within that fiction it's pretty much all the same classics with the occasional unknown book which catches my eye. This means that I don't really have a motivation to read multiple books at the same time, because they are all offering me something quite similar in terms of what I get out of them.

But then I found myself with nothing to read, and unwilling to return to the pile of abandoned 'good' books quite yet, I picked up a collection of short stories which I'd never noticed on my shelves before (I never get it when people say that kind of thing about clothes in their wardrobes, but when I imagine that some peoples wardrobes are like their bookshelves, it's easier for me to relate to): Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux.

It's a nice change to be able to read something in the way I might watch some of my favourite TV series: CSI, House etc. The stories every time are different so it's perfect for a quick read over breakfast or to catch a quarter hour of fleeting sun. Yet the narrator, the cast of background characters and the setting remain consistent throughout, whilst some stories even link onto each other, mirroring the two-parters or story arcs which occur in a show whose episodes are otherwise completely separate.

So I am still enjoying Hotel Honolulu, which I haven't got bored of yet; probably thanks to the linking threads which make it harder to just abandon the book whenever I please. Even so, I took a trip to the bookshop to find a whole story to read, and came away with something else I have rarely attempted: Roots, in the biography section. I am not sure exactly how typical Roots could really be of the biographical genre, but it's a step in the right direction. Until now, I have only ever read a handful of artist biographies for a couple of art projects I did, back when I still had to take Art. Apart from that, I have read one (very good) biography of Roald Dahl by Jeremy Treglown, and that's it.

And then, when on a walk around the neighbourhood I reached the public library, I couldn't help popping in. With such a vast expanse of choice, most of it rubbish, I couldn't help gravitating to the far more select Classics section. I started reading EM Forster's A Room With a View the second I left the building, although I haven't picked it up since yesterday's walk.

So there you have it: three very different books, two out of my comfort zone and one which I really ought to read (I think it's even on my summer reading list which my school handed to us after completing our English exams). Now I am going to attempt something which I have never done before. I am going to try to read all three, at the same time. I'll let you know how long I last.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

brilliant blogging

This time last week, I was just leaving the theatre. It was an extra special trip for a number one reasons: it was the first play I had seen for a few months, which is unusual for me as a play-lover; I went with my mother, whom I rarely go out with; I was taking several hours off from work right in the middle of the hellish stress that is revision and exams. On top of all of that, I had booked to see this play over five months ago, which is even more unusual for me as I am normally relatively last-minute in my arrangements.

The reason that my mother and I had heard about this production of The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic, months before it started showing and a week before the press reviews came out, was LibertyLondonGirl.

I knew that I had to see this production as soon as I read this blog post in January, when The Bridge Project was still showing in New York. Adapted by one of my favourite playwrights (Tom Stoppard), acted by one of my favourite actors (Simon Russell Beale), supplemented by a starry cast and director and most importantly, favourably reviewed on the LLG blog.

Sadly, even with my extremely advanced booking, it was impossible to get great seats at a great price in a concession/full price combination. So I would say that without doubt, the worst part of the show was the god-awful seats. No padding, no cushioning and positioned in front of a metal bar, we could only rely on the world of The Cherry Orchard to suck us in and make us forget our uncomfortable surroundings. It didn't let us down.

Strangely enough, the UK reviews have since come out and the accompanying piece in the Project, The Winter's Tale, has received better reviews. I wonder if this is a reflection of a British preference of Shakespeare over Chekhov, or if I really did choose the inferior production. I wish I could have seen both! I am definitely going to go back next year for the second installment in said Bridge Project; maybe I can get my booking in even earlier this time.

Either way, I am so glad I was reading LibertyLondonGirl's blog, and knew that if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me.

Friday, 12 June 2009

post cop-out

So, I took the photos, started the drafts, was about to sit down and properly write. But oh no, no, that would require far too much effort in my current zombie-like state. For the past 6 days I have worked so hard, and then I went and undid all that virtuousness in 5 hours of eating, watching TV, walking, and occasionally catching myself having been staring into space doing absolutely nothing at all for 5 or so minutes.

I promise, I will finish those drafts. But today, I came across another fabulous new blog, and by fabulous, I mean fabulous; as you must know, I have very good taste in the blogs I read.

So I decided to just link this blog. But then, once I made that decision I realised that there was actually loads to write about it.

Like how it's an interesting political statement about consumerism.

Like how much I love the innovative styling that goes into it every day.

Like how much I deplored the uniform I had to wear every day until about two months ago.

Like how little effort I ever put into that uniform, well, not for a long time. When I was younger I used to try to be all creative with it, but in the last year I just struggled through it.

Like how mind-boggling it is for me that someone could maintain inspiration for such great accessorising when they have the same dress to work around.

Like how, oh my god, I wish I was this good with my clothes; I've probably got worse without a uniform, when I used to make an effort in the weekends and now rarely do at all.

Like how gorgeous this woman is. How I'm totally jealous.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

history and queens

Right now, I should really be revising the history of some very important leaders.


I did all that last night, while Mary Queen of Charity Shops was on. I have loved Mary for a long time, and could watch her programmes just for her fabulous ensembles, even if her makeover plans can be somewhat dubious.

And today, I can no longer resist the temptation to leave the Kaisers and Tsars and revolutionary leaders. Queen Mary of fashion is a far more attractive prospect.

Have you ever seen Queen Mary's programmes? What do you think?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

grey and blue and boots!!!

So I was thinking of places to look for shoes, and the lovely Disney Roller Girl mentioned that Solea are having a sale, and they're going in a different direction next season. So off I trotted to look for some nice mid-heels.

What did I find?

OK, so they are neither for summer nor heeled, nor particularly cheap at £99.

But I have also wanted these boots for over two years, ever since I spotted them in the Selfridges shoe department and fell in love with the boot/button combination.

And I also feel that I deserve to treat myself to a nice gift right now.

I have no boots at the moment as I threw all my pairs away about a month ago; they were old and holey and I was feeling minimalist. But after gazing in shock at these boots for a couple of moments, and having recovered from my surprise, I realised that I wasn't sure I liked them any more. The toe at the front looked like an odd shape.The grey/blue colour combo would look faintly ridiculous matched with my grey and blue wardrobe of clothes. The teensy heel is a little infantile. The slouchiness does not excite me. The height is all wrong.

So, for a moment, I'd thought my shopping mojo was finally back. Here I was, considering a spend of £100 on something not at all necessary (right now at least). And then the criticisms started flooding my mind.

I'm not upset; it's unsurprising that something I loved over two years ago doesn't factor very well into my current style. I also realise that such a big buy is jumping into a very, very deep end after many months of trying to build up the courage to dip my toe into the paddling pool.

And I need to find something new, which takes my breath away for the first time, to make me jump.

careful what you wish for

In England, the education system barely allows its full-time students a month's holiday every summer. I know that this is different from a lot of other countries; part of this is probably to do with the year-round sameness of the British climate. In the countries where many of my relatives or foreign friends live, the heat means that they simply cannot work past the end of May.

But this year, it's different. As soon as the exams are over (in two weeks!), you are officially of school leaving age and you can go do whatever the hell you want. No army, no more compulsory education, although you do have to start giving your money to the government. Aware that however much fun a couple of weeks off work is, 2+ months of it can easily lead to boredom, I started looking for ways to fill my summer a while back.

A long, exotic holiday in a continent I've never even set foot in sounded nice. It also sounded impossibly expensive.

An educational, constructive summer course sounded nice. It was also impossible to get into one.

A job in a nice environment, like a bookshop maybe, sounded nice. It also proved an unlikely possibility.

Eventually, last week, I was offered a month, maybe more, of work! This time last year, I was preparing to start unpaid work experience in a theatre, an area which I am passionate about. My main motivation for this placement was that I wouldn't be working in an office, something which I quickly realised was not true as I sat there franking envelopes with Judi Dench's name on them.

Now read this blog post about that here.

So, I was effectively working unpaid, in an office, which sends letters to interesting people, in jeans. This year I am working in an office again, but it's going to be very, very different. Instead I am being paid for work in an office, probably sending letters to very boring people, but who the hell cares about that?

The aspect I am fretting about, and which I wanted to talk to you about, is the clothes.

I realise that I haven't blogged about fashion for almost a month (the last recorded sighting of my interest in fashion was on the 14th of May when I mused briefly on my tights collection). This is pretty poor for a blog which is often categorised as a style blog. Well, soon I am expecting this all to change as I make a frantic dash for the shops in an attempt to buy something which would be vaguely suitable for a proper office, and after a month, vaguely suitable for a student who will be spending no time in an office. I also don't want to spend my entire earnings on said clothes.

So far, I have thought something similar to the following purchases might be suitable:

  • Grey tapered cotton trousers (these are £30 at Topshop)

And these are £48 at Urban Outfitters.
  • A loose, thin blousey top (this example is on sale at UO for £9.99!)
  • A vest/waistcoat-y type garment to dress up plain t-shirts and vest tops.
Right now, chunky sleeveless blazers seem to be more in fashion and the ONLY one I could find to match this incredibly vague description... £38 at Urban Outfitters:

  • A crisp, cute shirt (Uniqlo seems to specialise in this stuff - I will almost definitely be getting this adorable blouse in at least one colour for £14.99)

  • Some smart shoes; as you know, I prioritise comfort with footwear, but I don't think that will be an issue in an office. Everyone needs some faux-Chanel in their office wardrobe, and the first pair I found are from Office (co-incidence? I think not!) for £50. I'm sure Primark would throw up something similar.

    • Then, of course, there's all the imaginary stuff I can't find at all. How perfect would some navy linen trousers with gold sailor style buttons be for those hot summer days? Or a pair of manageable mid-heels? Some cute skinny pin-striped trousers? A gorgeous tailored jacket which doesn't cost the earth?
    So, experienced readers? What are your suggestions?

    Thursday, 4 June 2009



    I have missed you, dear readers.

    You see, normally, when my blogging lapses for a couple of days, it is because I realise I have nothing to say. Or I can't be bothered to write about anything. And this lapse in posting has in fact been longer than any posting lapse in the entirety of this blog's 13 month history (excluding holidays during which I have pre-scheduled posts).

    Unlike these previous breaks, this time I have absolutely bursting with things to say.

    A couple of days ago, at 11.30 in the evening, I was hit by a wave of inspiration and sat down to commence a post draft

    Even as I type this returning message, I am itching to write a post I have been planning for over 24 hours now.

    Yet both times, I am too tired to construct the posts. I have been a very good student and conscientiously revised lots and lots... consequently, I am completely drained (and I still don't feel that I have done as brilliantly as one ought to when they decide to be a very good student).
    Well, at least I have a long weekend to recuperate, before next Monday begins a repeat of this week. So now I felt I should let you know that I am not dead, or something along those lines... and now I am off to catch up on all the TV I have forbidden myself, and probably hit the bed at some time around 8PM. The rest of my posts will have to wait.

    But, having now come up for air, I hope to see a lot more of you in the next few days - in between lots of good studying, of course. Next week, I fear I am going to have to go underwater once more.