Thursday, 26 April 2012

English Girls Approximately

Trying a little something new with my outfit post today. Might have got a little carried away with I thought it was just like a new version of Picnic but it's even better! Kind of like Instagram crossed with Photoshop, so I got a bit fancy with some of the features.

Miso decided she wanted in on the action at this point and snuck into a few photos...

And no outfit of mine is complete without my current go-to accessory... The giant parka!

I dug it out of my closet when I went home recently - it was my school coat when I was like 16, and even though the zip is broken, I've been wearing it everywhere. It's so 90's and I love it.

I wore this outfit with lace up boots and a practical plait for work, but slipped on some flats and shook my hair out to run a few errands this afternoon. Sensible to feminine in no time at all, perfect :)

Most of my outfit's recently have consisted of huge coats and wellies, so haven't really felt blog-worthy, how are you finding balancing sartorial elegance with practicality in the face of all this flipping rain? We get it weatherman, April showers and all, but come on, cut us some slack yeah? You're making it really hard to get out of bed in the mornings!

P.S. Hubby & I are off to see Ryan Adams in Sheffield tomorrow, dead excited!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

(World) Book Day Q&A

Every day in my life is Book Day, but when I saw Rosie's post about her favourite books in honour of World Book Night (WBD is actually in March but shh, it made a better title) I knew I wanted in on the action. I know I'm currently reviewing all the books I'm reading this year in my Friday Fiction feature, but I don't often talk about my all time favourites, or the kinds of books I grew up reading, so I thought it might make a nice change.

The Rules: 
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you've taken part! 

As for favourite book cover, Rosie also linked to this 'book-covers-as-tattoos' post, and High Fidelity is an awesome read. I would definitely buy this book.

I also love the 'pretty' clothbound penguin classics

What are you reading right now?
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie 

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
Erm, Maybe one of these...

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

I don't know about 'always', but 5 books that have been on my to-read list for a while are:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
How To Be A Woman by Catilin Moran
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
Running With Scissors by Augusten Borroughs
Generation X by Douglas Coupland

What’s the worst book you've ever read?

Erm, this one? I thought Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates was pretty dreadful too.

What book seems really popular but you actually hated?

Alledged 'classics' like Great Expectations, Animal Farm & Catcher In The Rye all left me really cold. I didn't hate the Hunger Games, but I didn't rate it half as much as a lot of people seem to. Good story but it's pretty dreadfully written IMO.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Oh, so many. Phonogram for one, recently it's been The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - an unexpectedly fantastic book.

What are your 3 favourite poems?

Eep, I'm not huge on poetry. I've got Marget Atwood's Morning In The Burned House on my to-read list though.

Where do you usually get your books?

Almost exclusively from charity shops, or else the library. I can't be forking out £5-10 everytime I want a new book, I'd be flat broke otherwise (more flat broke than I already am)

Where do you usually read your books?

Bed, bath, sofa, train, pretty much everywhere except in cars since I get travel sick :(

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Reading everything and anything. I used to fall asleep listening to books on tape, something I still love to this day (although I'm not sure how keen Hubby would be on it!)

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Possibly The Hunger Games, but if not then definitely Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen. I was up until like 4am with that one for sure.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Nope. I did read The Hobbit when I was like 10 though, probably because I thought it would make me look clever, and so I didn't understand half of it.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

Not one I hadn't already read (just picked up a gorgeous hardback of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde), but I do definitely pick up library books based on covers - what else is there to go on? You can't read every single blurb.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life since pre-teen days, but before that I was into Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, Meg Cabot, Roald Dahl, stuff like that.

What book changed your life?
All the books I've loved have changed my life in some way. Harry Potter & most of the Sarah Dessen ones have had big impacts on me in particular. I used to adopt characteristics and try to emulate characters from all the books I read as a kid. 

What is your favourite passage from a book?
I don't tend to think of books just in terms of passages, but the url and title of the this blog form a quote from the book Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, "Don't think or judge, just listen". It specifically refers to a piece of music in the book but I think it's a pretty good principle for life.

What are your top five favourite authors?

Haruki Murakami

Douglad Coupland
Douglas Adams
Sarah Dessen
Paulo Coelho

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Phonogram! I can not sing that book's praises enough. The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman was recommended to me by a friend after I'd enjoyed The Secret History by Donna Tartt, so I'm passing that recommendation on.

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell - so worth the length
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

What is your favourite classic book?
Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time faves . I know it's cliched, but I love it, and I love it hard.

5 other notable mentions?

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Hope you enjoyed that! I'm not going to tag anyone, but link me if any of you decide to answer the questions too :)

P.S. You know that awesome Jay-Z & Kayne song, N*ggas In Paris? Well check out this equally amazing spoof, B*tches In Bookshops. Beautiful girls rapping about books, what's not to love?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

I've mentioned before on this blog about my dietary choices (eating no meat and very little dairy), and my reasons for doing so, which for the most part, aren't about the ethics of it, but the economics. That said, I am obviously hugely against the ethics of it too, and so it's kind of a no-brainer that I think animal testing is abhorrent as well (along with fox hunting, wearing real furs, the entire meat & dairy industry etc etc).

I don't buy leather products, and I take such care with what I eat, but I'm incredibly, shamefully in my opinion, lax when it comes to cosmetics. I have absolutely no idea if the companies who make my make up test on animals, and I really, really should. I intend to rectify this, and not buy any more until I've looked in to it properly, but I was quietly pleased with myself when I went through my bathroom toiletries and found that all of the following products were either BUAV approved, or specifically listed as being cruelty-free.

Sainsbury's bubble bath & Cranberry shower gel (smells divine!) - £1ish each
Lush Soak & Float solid shampoo & Jungle conditioner - £3-5 each
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish - £13
The Body Shop Cranberry Soap - £1 in sale

I do still have other hair care products (have you ever met a girl who just has ONE bottle of shampoo & conditioner in her bathroom?) that don't say whether they are or not, so I'm planning to look in to those too, but chances are they're not :(

Is it something you ever consider when you're buying cosmetics or is it something you don't really think about (like me)? Do you have any recommendations for make up brands which are against animal testing, but not super pricey? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Happy Days

No Friday Fiction today guys, sorry (or, you're welcome, depends whether any of you actually like that feature or not?) - I'm being a bit of a slowpoke with my book at the moment because it's not super exciting and I've been busy with other things, so there :P Can't blog about a book I haven't read yet! I'll have to catch up my books at some point, but that'll be when I feel like, I'm not down with the whole 'obligation to blog' thing. I just do it because it's fun for me :)

Today I am feeling super happy for the first time in a while and before I shoot off for an exciting evening, I thought I'd drop my blog and it's dear readers a short line to say what's giving me the goofy grins on this sunny Friday afternoon.

  • Well, for one thing, I have a super cute cat who likes to chase the washing round in the machine. Come on, tell me this picture doesn't melt your heart just a little bit?

(via Instagram)

  • The aforementioned exciting evening out is Hubby & I heading to the Newcastle Metro Arena (a first for us) to watch the WWE Smackdown Revenge Tour (another first). I'm not the biggest wrestling fan but I'm going to don my brightest, shiniest metallic green leggings and wave a sign and everything. I'm embracing the moment and hopefully it'll be awesome.
  • I got a phone call this morning about a job interview I had a few weeks ago. I'd assumed I hadn't got it but I'm going in next week for a trial shift, with the kids from the school where I currently work, so I have every intention of ROCKING IT, and securing myself a nice new job (it fits around my current one) and earning mega dollarz (not really, it's crap pay but it'd be an ace job). Cross your fingers for me yeah?
  • It's not raining today! This might seem trivial but when you have to walk for like an hour to get to work and back, in torrential downpour, and then deal with 150 children who have been cooped up for two days solid, you'll know that good weather is a life saver. You can't blame the kids for going stir crazy, but it sure makes them hard to deal with!

That's about it really. It might not seem like a lot but it's just the turn of events that I needed to lift my spirits right about now. Oh, and IT'S FRIDAY.

What's putting a smile on your face today? 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Tattooed Lady

So as you might have noticed in this post, or if you follow me on twitter, I got my first tattoo done a few weeks ago. I was waiting until it had fully healed to post some proper pictures of it, but it turns out it's REALLY HARD to photograph the inside of your wrist, but luckily the delightful Hannah Millard was able to get some really gorgeous shots of mine and Hubby's - who also got one on his forearm at the same time during our shoot last week.

Mine reads "Be brave & be kind" "Baby, we'll be fine" which is a bastardisation of the lyrics of "Baby, We'll Be Fine" by The National. The actual lyrics are 'Baby, we'll be fine, all we've gotta do is be brave and be kind', but I liked it better like this. 

Hubby's reads "...and where are your manners?" which is from The Twilight Sad song 'Cold Days From The Birdhouse'. I couldn't tell you what the fonts are, we found them on and then had them slightly altered to suit our tastes (I got a different ampersand and he got different R's) but we are so in love with them.

We'd kind of been thinking about it for a little while - there are a hundred National lyrics I could get tattoo'd across my body (I'm considering another one already) - and we got recommendations from our friends about where was good to get it done, but in the end I felt like I was over thinking it. I knew I'd end up (wrongly) talking myself out of it if I thought about it much longer, and I knew didn't want that, so we just went for it. And it was so the right decision. I'm crazy in love with it, and with Hubby's too (he looks hot!).

(I swear I look so naked in this photo, but I'm totally wearing my wedding dress, promise) 

Did it hurt? I'm not going to lie, yeah, it did. But not really that much, and not half as much as I was expecting. The worst bits were the middle of the bigger text, towards the sides of my wrist hurt less and the smaller font barely hurt at all. It felt super weird though, the descriptions I read described it as like being scratched, which is accurate, but didn't really give much mention to the buzzing and the vibration. I swear I felt buzzy for like half an hour afterwards but that could have just been the adrenaline! I totally thought I was going to faint because I was so so nervous beforehand, but I didn't even cry. I just pulled a bunch of 'oo, oww, arrrgh' silly faces whilst Hubby watched on and laughed at me (just a little, I would've done too). But really, it was fine, and over in less than 10 minutes!

It healed like a dream, we put salvon and e45 on when it felt dry and washed them with soap and water. The worst bit of the whole thing was day 4-5 post ink when they got crazy itchy and flaky (sorry, I know that's gross). You're supposed to slap them so you don't peel the ink off with the skin, but it's not the same as itching. It passes pretty quickly though and now, a few weeks later, I wouldn't even know it were there if I didn't keep rolling up my sleeves to look at it. I really, really love it, so much.

Like I said, I've already got ideas for more (mostly text, mostly The National lyrics), so I'm pretty certain this won't be my last. I don't know how crazy I'll go - I love the idea of sleeves, but can't imagine I'd ever settle on imagery that I loved enough to commit to it, but I am kind of in love with the idea of being a Tattooed Lady!

Do you have any tattoos? Do you love them or regret them? Do you think it's possible to stop at just one (do people even ever get just one)? I always loved them on other people but couldn't really picture it on me, but now I couldn't picture us without them!

Monday, 16 April 2012


Lately Hubz and I have been in serious Grown Up Getting-Things-Done mode, I'm really quite impressed with us. After my mini tantrum the other day, we've not all only got all the toys back in the pram, but we've even gone a bit further! I'll warn you now, this is probably the least exciting thing you will ever read on my blog, but all these things are making me incredibly happy right now, so I'm sharing regardless.

+I ordered a new phone 2 days ago and a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S showed up on my doorstep yesterday morning (so fast!). As much as I enjoyed the showy gadgetry of the iPhone, I'm not a big apple fan and Hubby's new Xperia Ray (like mine but smaller) is essentially a iPhone 4S for a tiny tiny fraction of the cost. We're too poor for fancy things and this way I'm paying almost exactly what I was for my sim-only contract, with a shiny new phone thrown in. It's purrrdy.

+We've been painting ceilings and pricing up floor trim - exciting I know, but now our house is like, properly decorated. FINALLY. There's just a bit of woodwork to paint and our lovely little house will be pretty much done. It's probably only exciting to me who's spent every weekend for the last two years thinking "we really should paint those ceilings", but I don't care.

+We've had our boiler serviced and the cold tap for our bath fixed - since it's been leaking through the floorboards for Too Long and ruining the ceiling in the room below. Fixed things please me.

+We also asked the plumber to price up a quote for refitting our whole bathroom - guys, I MIGHT ACTUALLY GET A SHOWER. Probably not for a while yet since the quote is likely to come back at a million pounds and we have approximately minus 1 million pounds spare.

+Not only have we planted the forsythia that my Dad gave us, we even bought a few more plants and tidied up our front garden. I'll take some pictures now and then again in a few weeks when they've grown a bit (fingers crossed).

+We've booked a holiday! I know right, all that moaning and it turns out I'm actually the luckiest girl alive. We're staying in a delightful little cottage in North Berwick for a week in August so we can commute into Edinburgh for the festival, without paying the crazy prices for accommodation. Dead excited, Edinburgh is my spiritual home.

All this does of course mean we're poor beyond measure but at least we've got each other right?! That's what I keep telling myself anyway...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday Fiction 12/52

Being on holiday means my regular blogging schedule goes out the window a little bit (who am I kidding, I have nothing approaching a schedule). I'm back to work on Monday though - boo! - so things will even out around here... possibly.

Phonogram: The Singles Club by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McElvie

I'm not normally much one for graphic novels, and even the first Phonogram (Rue Britannia) left me a little cold, but there is something truly magical about The Singles Club, and the announcement that a third Phonogram is in the pipeline, with colourist Matthew Wilson on board too, has gotten me pretty excited.

The Singles Club is compiled of 6 individual 'singles', or mini-comic stories that make up one night at the Never On A Sunday club in Bristol - a club night I would be at like a shot if it existed in Leeds, 3 rules; no boy singers, you must dance and no magic (phonomancy is the art of making magic from music). The time frame is late 2006, and the endless musical references that litter the comic are particularly period specific - there's even a glossary which tells you which specific album they're referencing, it's pretty amazing if you like to geek out over that sort of thing, which er, I do.

Each single, or issue (they were released as individual comics before being compiled) focuses on a different phonomancer, my favourites being Penny's "Pull Shapes" and Seth Bingo & Silent Girl's "Konichiwa Bitches", which take their names from (fantastic) Pipettes and Robyn songs respectively - they all work as individual stories, but they pull together in a

It's pretty hard to explain why it's so amazing... It is incredibly niche - if you weren't into indie girl-pop in 2006, then you might not get a lot of it - but you'll still enjoy it, I PROMISE. The writing of the characters is pitch perfect, you love them, but you hate them, and you definitely know someone just like them, the drawing and the colouring are flawless - every still could be a poster on your wall, or a tattoo on your skin (we're considering it). Hubz and I have just spent 10 minutes trying to tie down what it is we love about it all so much, and the best we can come up with is "ARGHITSJUSTSOGOOD". Sorry guys, you're just going to have to read it.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Caught In Love

I know I go on and on about her, but my friend Hannah Millard really is the most amazing photographer (and a total babe, and the maker of perfect tiny humans, and just generally pretty wonderful). She shot our wedding when she was just getting started as a pro, with the delightful results I've shared with you before, and now she is a fully fledged photographer extraordinaire, booked up every weekend from here to Sunday. We'd talked about doing a post wedding photo shoot before, and on Tuesday we finally found time to pop by her charming corner of Derbyshire and lark around in our twee version of our wedding finery (I mentioned here why we chose not to do that on our wedding day).

I wasn't expecting to see the photos for weeks, so imagine my surprise when we get home and she's already edited and uploaded a sneak peak! Her excellence is also her downfall though because now I'm desperate for the rest and having to resist sending her a message a minute asking about them :)

Isn't she a tease?! I'm dying over this handful so I can. not. wait. to see the rest. Squeeeeee!

I felt just a wee bit self conscious trawling around various bookshops, penny arcades and farmyards in my wedding dress, and we had a good laugh trying to get me to lie down in a dress I can barely bend in, all whilst failing to avoid getting covered in mud (they're not called 'trash-the-dress shoots for nothing!), but it was so much fun, and she even bought us some chips! What a peach.

Doesn't my Hubby look gorgeous? So handsome in his waistcoat!

Like I said, I'm just a teensy bit excited to see the rest and share so many with you that you get sick of the sight of my darn dress. I can barely contain my squeeeees. Thanks Hannah for being such a STAR (you should all go book her now, like, I'm not even joking right now).

Now to find the money to get my dress dry-cleaned and consign it to the back of my cupboard again :( Even wearing it twice doesn't seem like enough, I want to wear it every day!

Monday, 9 April 2012

All you need is love.

I've been having a busy few days visiting all manner of friends and family over the Easter weekend, and as great as it has been, I have been feeling some serious life envy, over pretty much EVERYTHING - mobile phones, laptops, sky TV, bathrooms, babies, holidays, money, blemish-free skin, pretty clothes, you name it, I've been grumbling about not having it this weekend. I have been far from exemplary in practicing gratitude recently, but sometimes you just need to have a little moan about things don't you?

The one thing I shouldn't ever complain about is my darling husband though, because in spite of everything that I believe makes my life particularly rubbish at the moment, when I think about how wonderful he is, I do truly feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Wednesday marked our 50th month of courtship - fiftieth! - and well, he's pretty great yeah? Even if he does keep teasing me about the fact that he's got a brand new sparkly phone and I haven't :(

My point is, as nice as it would be to have a phone that let me actually open my Draw Something app, I suppose it's not really on a par with having the love of your life by your side, is it? I'm not sure the same can be said for getting a shower fitted though. I really, really do need a shower in my life - there's only so many baths a girl can take!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

My new 'Girl Crush'

I've posted before about my style crush on Taylor Swift, and don't get me wrong, Taylor still has a possibly excessive sized place in my heart, but my new girl crush du jour is Elle Fanning.

Elle turns 14 next Monday. FOURTEEN. And she's already a superstar in both the acting and the fashion worlds. I don't think I've ever actually seen any of her films, so I can't comment on her acting ability - is she any good? She looks like she'd be good. But I can comment on her gorgeous and quirky, age-appropriate red carpet looks, as well as being completely smitten by her utterly charming goofy grin.

She's a teenager after all, so you can usually expect to see her in cute, short dresses & mary janes, but she's far from predictable. She takes a lot of risks, which don't always pay off, but it makes the red carpet so much more exciting for it. She is definitely one to watch for the future.

She has also shot some incredible editorials for the likes of Teen Vogue, Marie Claire and Interview magazines.

Such a gorgeous face!

Basically, I'm just a little bit in love with her.
Can you blame me?

Monday, 2 April 2012


Organised clutter / Making new friends / My first ever top knot / Brian Blessed in a Puzzler
An old photo of my eldest brother and I / Birthday badge / Bouquet of kale / New handbag
Thrifted books / Tea shop / Haircut / Vegan crudites
Birthday dinner at Create / Pineapple coconut water / Visiting the Turkish Baths in Harrogate
Jigsaw puzzles and tea / Spring flowers / Rock band / Another sneak peek

School's out for Easter, so today I have drunk a glorious (never excessive) number of cups of tea and enjoyed lazing about in my pj's reading blogs and editing photos for our family photo albums - I've spent the weekend filling up most of our 2011 volume and just need a few more printing out. I grew up in a family obsessed with photography, which is very annoying at times, but it is great to be able to look back at 20+ years of photos, so for Christmas last year I made the first volume documenting Hubby & I's life together. I can't wait until we're old and grey and can look back through all our wonderful memories :)

Do you keep photo albums or are you guilty of taking hundreds of pictures and then abandoning them on your hard drive like I was? Sure you can look through them on your laptop, but there's nothing quite like an album is there?

P.S. Now I'm going to have a long, long bath and read my book - The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. School holidays rock!
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