Maman

Monday, 30 January 2012


Today is my Mum's birthday.

Cross-stitcher and crafter extraordinaire, amazingly fast hiker, lover of American crime shows, excellent holiday and road trip companion, full of all sorts of esoteric knowledge, excellent spider catcher (but slug loather), very funny lady and fellow short-arse in the family: she is a tiny little package of awesomeness, generally clad in at least one lilac thing. If she has one flaw, it's that her feet are too small and I can't steal her shoes.

Want to see some splendiferously vintage photos of her? Of course you do!

No idea where the shop is but it looks interesting...

Rocking the ombre look way back in the day.

Startled by my Grandma's quite amazingly pointy collar...

I have no comment to make on this one. It just makes me giggle.

Check out the COAT! If only she'd kept that for me... She still tortures me with tales of the lilac suede platform knee high boots she used to have.

Beautiful lady.

Moving onto the present day, she's still beautiful, even if she won't hear it. Look Mum, it's on the internet now so you HAVE to believe it.


Did I mention she's awesome? And very fond of larking around, as in this photo where she is pretending to be a Roman centurion marching down Watling Street at Richborough.



Love you Mum.

January Scavenger Hunt

Saturday, 28 January 2012

And we're back in the game! Here are my picks for the January Scavenger Hunt:


In season:

Snowdrops in the garden. They are the most January thing I know.



Odd:

Oh please. Did you think it was going to be anything else?



Information:


This is what it took to make me look pretty. I am away now to buy some of the products...



Soft:

A Christmas present - it's angora and SO soft.



Entrance:

It's clearly the house of someone fond of shoes and brollies



In my bathroom:

There is a whole load of stuff that could have gone in the "mess" category of this post. Instead I have gone for the hippo hot water bottle holder.



2:

First thing to note: I am not an Everton fan. Red through and through, that's me
Second thing to note: This shop name makes sense only when you realise that the shopping centre it's in is called Liverpool One. You may have to imagine the postal address...



Blur:

Achieved by the simple task of getting bored waiting for the shutter to close during a fireworks display and just waving the camera round in the air a bit instead.



Company:

You iz not allowed on the interwebs alone



In the distance:

The view down the drive at work. Well, the right hand side anyway. I'm sure you can all imagine a long stretch of road.


Mess:

Oh the horror. It's not just mess, it's the dreading ironing mountain. I can barely get into the room to tidy all the other crap up. Remember when it was this tidy?



Warning:

I entitle this one "No Shit Sherlock"

Three of the Best

Thursday, 26 January 2012

I don't know about you lot but I don't have very much time for bloghopping and discovering new things to read via blog rolls. I barely have enough time to read the ones that I already follow. Plus I always find that personal recommendation is so much better than relying upon chance and a couple of idle clicks to find a new blog that you love. So this marks the start of an occasional feature where I shall tell you about some of my favourites. First up is the category of bloggers who I love because of their...

Writing

Backwards in High Heels

I must admit that I don't comment on Tania's blog as much as I should and this is entirely my own fault. She is so incredibly eloquent and talented as a writer and I am generally so knackered when blog commenting that I don't feel my words will do it justice. I'm sure you're not all as feeble as me though. Go and read her blog (even if you don't comment) and just soak up how wonderful her writing is. She covers the widest range of subjects - it can be friendship one day, politics the next, recipes the day after that - and tops everything off with the most beautiful pictures of Scotland and The Pigeon. It's balm to the soul.


Katyboo1′s Weblog

Sometimes, when my brain is frazzled (which it often is) and I need something to make me smile, I will go to Katy's blog and have a great big glom. She posts lots so I know I've always got something good to read and she never lets me down. I read a review quote on the back of a Bill Bryson book once which went along the lines of "Not to be read in public for fear of emitting loud snorts" and I think you could just as easily apply that to this blog. It's so, so funny and engagingly written. She gets heaps of extra bonus points for writing about family life and kids in an interesting and frequently rather hilarious way because usually that sort of thing bores me to death. Plus, there are generally lashings of cake, book and theatre chat.



Just Me

The Girl (I do know her real name but I am not at liberty to reveal it) is, I feel, one of my internetty kindred spirits. I have no idea if she feels the same - it's not really the sort of question you ask people, is it? She might well think I'm a shoe-obsessed dullard. But she has that magical quality of writing things that make me go "HAHAHAHA" and "OMG, I do that/think that too!" (note - I never actually say OMG in real life. I want to make this clear) and even when she's talking about things that sail straight over my head, such as the perils of making a ripple blanket, I will still read it cos I love it. Go and click that follow button right now.



ps - any new followers, do feel free to leave your blog link in a comment. I know I've been shocking at reading and commenting recently but if you let me know where to find you, I'll come and have a read!

Jeans (and why I loathe shopping for them)

Monday, 23 January 2012



I think that shopping for jeans is one of the most unrelentingly miserable tasks in the shopping universe. It can never be described as fun. If you want a nice pair of shoes, well, you wander round various shops going "Oooh" or "Ergh!" as the mood strikes you. A size 6 is generally a size 6. If you want a nice pair of jeans you have to wade through 47 different cuts/colours/lengths per store just to narrow it down to which ones you take to the changing rooms. Then comes the dreaded task of trying them on, complicated by the fact that a size 14 is not a size 14. I still don't understand how, IN THE SAME SHOP, a pair of size 12 jeans in one style can be too big and a pair of size 16 jeans in another style not go up over my thighs. Yeah, Next, I am hereby naming and shaming you. Sort your sizing out.

I honestly thought I had struck lucky. I've been buying Dorothy Perkins dark wash skinny short jeans for a good few years now and they've always been a good fit, a good colour and even better, a really good price: £15 (and often on offer for cheaper). Things appear to have changed with my latest pair.

I still like the colour and price very much but the fit has changed. I actually like the fact they sit a bit higher up than my previous pairs but that slight tweak seems to be matched to an increase in leg length. Now I don't think I've shrunk, but my other pairs have always sat nicely at the right length. These are decidedly too long, hence today's turn-ups.

I'm not sure I can face the drama of finding a new style from a new shop. Probably easier just to take these up myself.




Hey ho. At least my cardigan gives me no woes. I made the official Charity Shop Noise Of Joy when I found it. It reminds me ever so strongly of the things that the Dreaded Grandma (an entirely affectionate nickname: she was lovely really) used to knit for me when I was little. Little pearlised buttons and everything!




Top - H&M
Cardi - Charity shop
Jeans - Dorothy Perkins
Coat - Kookai via car boot sale
Brogues - Dune, vastly reduced in the TK Maxx sale
Pearls - honestly can't remember
Ring -
Landbaby

With These Shoes, You Are Really Spoiling Us...

Friday, 20 January 2012

You may well have heard that there's a chance to be a Sarenza Ambassador up for grabs. Being the shoe fan that I am, I had to have a crack at entering the competition.


The task is simple: pick your favourite pair of shoes from the site.

10 English pence to anyone who can guess which brand I've selected from *












...









Yeah, it's Irregular Choice. Quelle surprise.


Irregular Choice shoes are amazing. You should all know my thoughts on them by now. However creative design and funky shapes and details don’t come cheap.

I don't mind that at all - you can't pay Primark prices for decent quality stuff - and I'm not opposed to paying full price for a pair if funds allow and I *really* like them. However my natural inclination is always, always to try and get a bargain.

Be warned, if you’re a size 6, be prepared to find me bidding against you for pairs on ebay! I also have a folder of random websites that sell Irregular Choice shoes for discounted prices and as soon as the sales hit in the more mainstream stores and sites, I’m in there like a rocket.

It fills my hear with joy to look at a webpage like this and see all the prices slashed. My favourite? It’s got to be the amazing sequins and stars combination of Abigail's Party Too :



Quite subtle by IC standards, non? They'd definitely be one of my more sensible pairs. 30% off is excellent. The fact that there are only one pair in my size and it’s not payday till Wednesday? That’s not ideal. If they’re still there next week then they will be MINE.


* Don't all mug me at once for your 10p. I'm like the Queen; I never carry cash.

Going Nuts

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


High on the list of things I like are easy outfits and buying amazing things in the sale.

Today: double whammy!

This sweater dress was £9 in the sale. Being the midget that I am, it's totally wearable as a dress rather than the jumper it's technically meant to be. What's more, the somewhat crazy squirrel print means that you really don't need to do anything except shove on some Minnie Mouse style shoes and you're good to go!



SQUIGGLES!

Sweater dress - Matalan sale
Shoes - Irregular Choice
Rings - New Look (heart) & Dorothy Perkins sale (oval)

The Truth About Weight Loss

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Things they tell you about dieting:

It will be hard
It's not. Boring, dull, tedious; whatever you want to call it. It's definitely that, but nothing worthwhile in life is easy. All you need to learn to do is say no. Simple.

You have to eat lettuce
You don't have to. Honestly. As for cabbage soup, bleurgh. Who even does that?

You will only be successful if you sign up to Weightwatchers/Slimming World/Cambridge Diet/etc

Bollocks. I did it all myself and I'm far from the only one out there. Each to their own: if you find the group atmosphere supportive and helpful then great. If you baulk at paying someone money to tell you what the figure on the scales says, that's fine too. Find what works for you.

You have to become a fitness fanatic
Bit more exercise: yup. Doing triathalons: nope.

You are likely to become a diet bore
Well, you don't have to. I'm sure some people do but I'd like to think I avoided the worst of it. Just remember to keep your calorie consumption to yourself - you're probably the only one who really cares about the intracacies of it all.



Things they don't tell you:


To start saving up
Buying an entire new wardrobe is expensive. Plus it sucks when all your old favourite clothes have to go because they swim on you.

Your feet shrink
That is a complete nightmare. Insoles are my new best friends.

You don't end up with the perfect body
You'll more than likely be a similar shape, just smaller. Unless you're the sort who stores all your chub in one place.

People start saying really bitchy things disguised as compliments
"It's taken 20 years off you!" was my particular favourite. Did I look 46 before? Really??

And the kicker:

Losing weight won't magically fix you
It will help. Don't get me wrong; I don't want this to be a doom and gloom piece. But from my bitter personal experience, it will only do so much. There is a certain never-ending fascination about twirling in the mirror and thinking "Where did I all go?". There's a definite high about having the confidence to try out something you'd never dreamed of wearing before. The feeling when you meet someone you haven't seen for a long time and they literally don't recognise you; that, my friends, is a sweet feeling.

But it doesn't make you a new person. It won't soothe all your inner demons, magically restore all your confidence or endow you with brand new personality traits.

You know what? The important people in my life never loved me any the less because of what I looked like, but people in general were vile and often unbelievably hurtful. I've been the pig on "pull a pig" night, I've been abused in the street, I've run the full gamut of disapproving looks and comments from complete strangers. It fucking hurts, and it's not the sort of thing that can be easily forgotten. When your brain has fucked you into a horrible pattern of shying away from doing things/interacting with people because you are fat and fearful of being laughed at, and then becoming shyer and shyer just because you have got out of the habit of talking to strangers, that's hard to change. Looking different on the outside doesn't change the inside. You're still scared of starting conversations. You still don't trust it when people look you up and down. You still panic when people behind you start laughing in case they're laughing at you.

Losing the weight was easy. Rewiring my brain. That's hard.

Picture Perfect

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dear Readers,

If you're not already following essbeevee , you really should be. Quite apart from being fricking hilarious and having an amazing collection of frocks, Sarah does the most beautiful illustrations. I've wanted one for a long time and finally thought why the hell not. I sent an email off with a request that went along the lines of "GREEN. And make me look pretty please". Didn't she do a marvellous job?


It's like me but better!

There was one slight problem: I was immediately full of want for the outfit. I couldn't resist an attempt at dressing up like it. Ebaying has already commenced for a green dress because shamefully, my wardrobe is entirely lacking in this category. The shoes were easier to source. I nipped straight into Matalan and discovered some in the sale. Hurrah! They're not quite the same, but are pretty awesome nonetheless.

Here's my attempt. Alas not as tall, thin or pretty as the illustration but this is real life after all.



And for the general details:

Apologies for the peculiar pose but this does need hoicking in at the back so as not to look sack-like in photos...



Dress & socks - Primark
Shoes - Matalan sale
Ring - Dorothy Perkins sale
Necklace - Tatty Devine, present
Book - from a shop in Hay on Wye
it's Houses and History by Rosemary Sutcliff and comes highly recommended by me!)


ps - If you want to be immortalised in sketch form, get in touch with Sarah here

They Know Me So Well

Saturday, 7 January 2012


I wasn't online between Christmas and New Year, so had no chance to talk about Christmas presents. I'm not convinced I would have done a haul type post anyway, cos although it's tempting to share all the lovely goodies I received (and I got lots), there is something of the "OMG I am a spoiled brat with ELEVENTYMILLION PRESENTS!!" about it. So take it as read that I am a spoiled brat, ok? I'll mention presents on here as and when I wear/use them.




Like, um, today! You've all seen the coat and jumper and shorts before, but the accessories are new to me. They're all presents from amazing ladies in Blogland. I hereby salute your exceptional taste. I can't think of anything more me and it's such a wonderful feeling when you know that someone has really thought about what you would like.



I took part in Lakota's Christmas Charity Shop swap and was paired up with the fabulous Curtise. There was a price limit set (naturally I blued most of mine on one thing - sorry!) and Curtise did so well with it - I had tons of little parcels to open! Love, love, love this necklace.

Zoe sent me the scarf and I absolutely adore it. Not that this picture quite does the pattern or the colours justice but it's beautiful.


And the shoes... As you might imagine if you know both of us, Char was responsible for sending these my way. Actual squealing took place during the unwrapping. I have these harlequin pumps in both green and purple but I didn't even know they came in the colourway. Aren't they fab?

Jumper - H&M
Shorts - George sale
Coat - Kookai, car boot sale
Shoes - Irregular Choice, present
Scarf - Jacqmar, present
Beads - present

That Year...This Year

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

On the whole, 2011 was not a bad year. As recorded on this here blog, holidays to Kent and Portugal were taken, trips to London, Edinburgh, Newcastle and sunny Shrewsbury were made, cultural things got done, many things got bought. I took a ridiculous amount of photos, blogged a lot, got very bad at commenting (sorry, must improve!)



Did a saucy photoshoot. Embraced the topknot and red lipstick. Increased my Irregular Choice collection. Joined Twitter. Became mildly obsessed with Twitter. Even met people off Twitter (brave eh?). I even became honorary Auntie Alex to young Jack. A lot of the year was very good fun. Not all of it was good though, in fact a certain part of it was very sad and painful, but that's not for me to talk about.

Let us move on to listy type things:


Films seen at the cinema in 2011: 27


Best? Can't pick a favourite. Senna was truly wonderful (and I am outraged it wasn't nominated for best documentary at the Oscars). I went to see The Adjustment Bureau twice so I clearly enjoyed that. Source Code was fantastic. Love and Other Drugs stayed with me for a lot longer than I thought it would. Weekend was brilliant.
Worst? Sorry to my beloved Henry Cavill but even he couldn't rescue Immortals from being rubbish. I blame the 3D.

Books read in 2011: 371.

Not bad eh? There were a fair few novellas in that list but if it's longer than a short story, it counts as a book in my eyes. The list is mostly notable for:

  • a massive glom of Suzanne Brockmann's back catalogue at the start of the year
  • Beta reading a book for a Real Life Published Author. That was FUN. I shall talk more of it when it's ready to be released.
  • Barely reading anything at all in October (see below)
Don't even ask me to pick a favourite book because I'm even less capable of that than I am of picking a favourite film, plus there are a LOT to choose from. I will just say that Delirium by Lauren Oliver made me sob with how good it was, Maritime Men and Anchors Aweigh by Janey Chapel have been read and reread and keep improving, A History of the World in 100 Objects is unbelievably interesting and Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson was simply beautiful.

Books written in 2011:

One, in October. Hurrah for me! I started number two this week.

Comedians seen:


7. All very funny but I must strongly recommend Chris Ramsey.

Theatre trips:

13. I still can't get over how good Michael Sheen was in Hamlet. Unbelievable. Lovesong was chuffing amazing too though and Flare Path was excellent. If only we hadn't been sitting so high up we were practically on the Moon.

Also:

I'm not really a music person but I went to see Ben Folds in February and sweet jesus, he was astonishingly good. I'll take quality over quantity any day.


So, what does 2012 have in store?

I'm not talking resolutions here, for they are dull. I'm talking things that I will definitely be doing.

An Easter holiday to Hay-on-Wye (my version of bookshop heaven), a jaunt to the Edinburgh Festival and possibly an autumn holiday to France. Haven't quite decided on that last one yet.

OLYMPICS! I have tickets for the cross-country day of the eventing and I am most excited. People who are bah humbuggy about it all: I am not listening to you. Wheeeeee!!! I love the Olympics and I'M GOING!

Whilst I'm on the subject of eventing, I've signed up as a volunteer with British Eventing. I want this to be the year I do some fence judging. For the uninitiated, that involves eating a giant picnic and blowing a whistle a lot, possibly a bit of flag waving too. I can totally do that. Or I shall volunteer in some other capacity. I've bought some wellies and a gilet now; there's no going back.


Wearing more hats. It needs to be done. Is anyone with me?

Doing a writing course this month. Should be fun!

Finally working my way through the to-read pile. It just got bigger and bigger last year and I fear the bottom books will turn to mulch if I don't read them soon.

It's grown since that photo was taken...