My first outfit post, clothes and cupcakes

You may remember in my last post I referenced 'those last excruciating days before payday' alluding to the fact that there was nothing in my bank account but cobwebs, a tumbleweed and a small amount of money I keep for the last few days as a buffer in case I run out of food etc. Well, yesterday evening, I decided I would spend that buffer and went a bit crazy in H&M and Zara.  I then went back to H&M today and bought another couple of things.  Very, very naughty.  I will, of course, show you what I bought via some awful iPhone photos and grabs from websites, but before that I thought that I would try my first ever outfit post.  So, with a bit of awkwardness and the help of a tripod and some coffee table shifting, here is some of the things I bought... on me.

[Skirt from H&M, vest from H&M, cardigan from Zara, tights and belt Primark]
Here are some more bits I bought; the top two and bottom left all from H&M and the bottom right are cords from Zara.  They were in the sale for £12.99 and I think they'll be perfect for work so it was only right that I picked up a pair in brown and black...

My lovely Mummy also bought me three books to get me ready for the new house, so I shall be enjoying these over a cup of tea under the blanket on the sofa later!

I had planned on staying away from town today as there's an FA Cup match on and they're expecting 32,000 fans to come into Southampton. My flat is less than a mile from the football stadium and is on the route back into town so I tend to hide away on football days.  Today though, my friend dragged me in as she wanted to return some things to Topshop and suggested we go for lunch.  When we first went in to Slug and Lettuce it was relatively quiet but by the time we'd ordered our food it was really filling up with Manchester United fans.  In the end we ended up surrounded by a huge group of men singing football chants and spilling their beers everywhere, which was not the leisurely lunch I'd been hoping for! I found a 50% off Slug and Lettuce voucher on the vouchercloud app so we ordered way more food than we could eat - the photo doesn't even have the tempura vegetables or garlic bread in it! I lost count of the amount of times a leery football fan looked over Becki's shoulder and made a comment about the size of her platter - poor girl!

Talking of food, Tom and I made some cupcakes on Thursday out of my 'Eat Me' Cupcakes book I bought before Christmas.  They are French toast cupcakes and taste exactly like French toast - all cinnamon-y and yum.  If you want to try it yourself someone else has blogged the recipe here - but be warned, they are very moorish! I also find they make a great lazy breakfast! Haha.  Here they are in the cupcake stand I got for Christmas....

Tonight I think I am going to get out the sewing machine and do some clothes alterations I have been meaning to do for ages.  I have never taken up a dress before so you will have to wish me luck!

Sexism - who's to blame?

As part of my job working in a press office I have to monitor the press for any coverage of what we do, or opportunities where we could have been featured.  We have all been allocated a paper to read every day, and, for my sins, I have to read The Sun.  I don't mind really - I'd rather that than read the Daily Mail - but I was interested in how the story of the sexist remarks made by football commentators Andy Gray and Michael Keys was reported today.

If you missed the story, the two football pundits were discussing the fact that there was a female lineswoman at a Premier League game on Saturday and how it was impossible that she could fulfil that role and would need someone to 'explain the offside rule to her'.  There were some further sexist remarks made, and, unfortunately for the pair, their mics were still on and the audio was passed to various press agencies (which culminated in Andy Gray being sacked after he refused to apologise).

The first thing that struck me as strange was how The Sun, on the one hand appeared to frown upon the discriminatory comments (running an editorial piece from their columnist Karren Brady) and on the other hand chose a photo of the female lineswoman in a short skirt dancing at a party (presumably nicked from her Facebook).  If they really were in support of her as a professional woman who has every right and ability to do that job then surely, surely they could have led with a photo of her on the pitch in her kit? 

But what really got me, was having to flick past a photo of a girl with her boobs on show before I could get to the story.  And what I asked myself was, can we really have equal rights, and banish sexism and discrimination towards women, when the biggest selling newspaper in the UK publishes daily on its third page a photo of a topless woman? The message that this sends to the great British public, is that for a few silver coins you can take home a photo of a woman suggestively baring her half nakedness for your viewing pleasure.  Nestled on the third page between the political news, weather and celebrity news is a snap of a real life woman - for whom most of the Sun's readership will be old enough to be their Dad.  (I will gloss over the slight perversity of having 50 year old men gawp at photos of 18 year old girls over their teabreaks).
This one is censored; the real one, obviously, is not
But it's not The Sun's fault, is it, because the key thing for me is not only demand, but supply.  What constantly astounds me is not the men that perpetuate this 'British institution' by buying the paper, but the woman who queue up to be featured.  The Sun have an annual 'Page 3 idol' where, in large numbers, women can enter the competition and be voted on whether they are 'hot or not' online.  Now, on the one hand, I get that women are free to make their own decisions and make their money however they choose.  But on the other hand, isn't it a little bit... well, sad.... that a percentage choose to make their money by taking their clothes off for men's viewing pleasure?  Surely all they are doing is perpetuating the perception that women are just pieces of meat that can be bought along with your pint of milk and packet of biscuits on the way into work?

Furthermore, along with the steady supply of women who want to be a page 3 idol, the city I live in has at least two or three strip clubs on the high street.  Not tucked away in a back alley, not round the corner, down the road... but on the high street.  And in there, for the cost of a few pints you can have a half naked woman dance for you (for the cost of a few more they will take more off - etc etc).  Now, I know friends of friends who have worked in places like this to pay their University fees.  I know of other women who send their photos in to 'lads' mags' like Front and Nuts.  The saddest part about magazines like Nuts, FHM, Front, Zoo etc is the amount of genuinely talented women who grace their covers every month.  Women who deserve to be taken seriously for their professional abilities, not to be interviewed about the intimate details of their sex lives and then snapped in their smalls.

And so I guess the question for me, is, in a society where the mainstream press slot half-naked women in with hard hitting news, where talented women are expected to strip off in their music videos and reveal all in interviews to promote their films, and where you can walk into For Your Eyes Only on a Saturday night, hand over £20 and see a real life naked girl, can equality ever really exist? And should we really be blaming Andy Gray for seeing women as sex objects who can't understand the offside rule, or should we be blaming Chloe, 22, from Leeds (and the rest) for continuing to buy into it? 

There is another really interesting blog post about this issue on Lizabelly's blog here.

Still learning about makeup

Every few months or so I like to take everything out of my makeup box, clean it, and put it back in.  I find it quite cathartic sorting it out; chucking out old stuff and making everything look shiny and new.  I have never really known much about makeup - does anyone? As a result I tend to buy things that are on offer and keep buying things until I find something I want to stick with.  I think that's why I enjoy reading beauty blogs so much - because when there are recommendations of products I know it's because people have found them genuinely good, rather than the company giving a magazine a wad of cash just to say it's good.

I took a few photos as I added stuff back in so you can see what I've accumulated.  

The stuff in the last picture is what I use on a regular basis.  My favourite thing at the moment is the Mac penultimate eyeliner that my Mum bought me for Christmas.  I had never been able to master liquid eyeliner before but with a bit of practice I am getting better at it.  I also really like the L'oreal true match powder though I think I am yet to find the right shade (I tend to try and blend the two I have - I think what I really need is the one in between!) I am really envious when I see other bloggers buying lots of Mac goodies but having not really worked out what suits me and what I like yet I tend to buy Collection 2000 first so you will see a few bits of theirs lurking in my box!  I feel a bit embarrassed now, my collection isn't very good is it? I've just noticed there is quite a few bits in there I got free from magazines!

Anyway, here is a quick snap of me last night before I went out with all my slap on.  I had a go at curling my extensions, I think I like them with a loose curl in them.

I had a bit of an outfit mare before I left the flat as I put my finger through my tights, then put my thumb through the gathered part of the front of my Topshop boob tube.  Then, with the taxi ringing to say it was outside I tried to throw on a Mango dress and it wouldn't do up! (Tom says it was because I was hot and flustered, it is probably more likely the pub lunch I had earlier that day!)

Talking of the pub lunch, I had a go at the five mile walk that is on my 2011 list yesterday.  Sadly Tom and I misjudged the distance and only walked 4.1 miles! So that will have to be saved for another day.  I used
Endomondo to track our distance; it's a really cool iPhone app that gives you all sorts of information on the distance you've walked (or run, cycled, etc) and your speed and fastest laps etc.  Surprise surprise our fastest mile was the first one - it was so cold I was practically speed walking to warm up!


Hair extensions

For about a year now I have been growing my hair in pursuit of owning the long, tumbling locks I have always dreamed of.  On my mind also, has been the idea of having hair extensions to see if I even suit long hair, and just to have the enjoyment of having it for a little while before I carry on growing it.  I spent a lot of time thinking about getting extensions, a lot of Googling and a lot of trying to find a friend, or friend of a friend that had ever had them but to no avail.  In the end I decided that I should just bite the bullet and get them done, and so yesterday I went along to the salon I'd been recommended and had them done.  I am off to a wedding on Sunday and had a vision of Taylor Swift curls that was never going to be satisfied without a bit of fakery!

I thought it might be an idea to write a little bit about my experience should anyone else be considering getting them done, and, like me, want to know a bit more about them.  

The salon I went to was the
Pretty Bitch salon in Portsmouth, who offer weave extensions for varying prices depending on the length.  I went for 14" Dream Girl (real hair) extensions which were £75 included a cut afterwards.  I really had no idea of the process behind the weaving, but what they did was make three tiny rows of plaits (like cornrows) in the middle of my scalp (underneath the hairline) and then they sew the wefts of hair extensions into the plaits.  It didn't occur to me that getting them put in would hurt, but it really did hurt.  All of the tugging on my hair in order to make the plait, and then to sew the extensions in was quite painful.  After they had been put in the stylist cut the extensions and layered them to make them look more natural.

When I got home and looked in the mirror I had a bit of a 'what have I done?' moment.  I expected them to look more natural than they did, and there really was
so much hair.  I just wasn't used to having this much hair and didn't really know what to do with it.  After a lot of messing around with it, and getting some advice from my Mum over Skype, I finally found a few styles that suited it and started to shake off the feeling that I'd made a terrible (and somewhat costly) mistake.  This came back, however, when I got into bed last night.  The rows that they sewed the extensions into were lumpy and sore and I couldn't lie comfortably on them.  Luckily I sleep mostly on my front but I still had to take some painkillers and a sleeping tablet to get off to sleep. When I woke up this morning however, they no longer hurt, so I think it was just the after pains of having my scalp tugged and pulled to get them in!

I think they will certainly take some getting used to, but overall I think I'm glad I had them done.  I have posted a few photos below of what I look like now.  I know there are mixed opinions on hair extensions, and they have a bit of a WAG/Snog Marry Avoid associated stigma but overall I'm glad I took a chance and had them done.  What do you think?


Varsity jacket wearer, cheese eater, book geek

I was disappointed to not get an opportunity to blog earlier than today but I was busy busy with all things associated with buying the house this weekend - including visiting the house with the owner to check all the electricity/water etc works, and in the process getting lots more ideas for decorating and DIY. Naturally we took the opportunity to visit what will be our local pub when we move too!
In other news my varsity jacket finally came (all the way from South Korea!), and I barely took it off all weekend.  I am yet to perfect the art of outfit photos so to the left is a hasty snap of me wearing it (along with my Honour over Glory tshirt and some leggings).

Tomorrow is one of my workmates' (and very good friends') last day at work before she gets married this weekend so we are going out for a yummy lunch and have thoroughly covered her desk in confetti, balloons and banners.  I have bought her the above present - a lovely set of wooden letters from Not on the High Street; a brilliant website I encourage you all to visit if you haven't already! I will be spending lots of money in there when we come to decorate the house I expect! 

Tonight the other half made us baked camembert with thyme, tiger bread baguette and an avocado salad.  Nomnomnom indeed! There is a recipe on the BBC website here but really it doesn't take much cooking so it's perfect for a bit of post work comfort food!

Finally, I have been throwing myself into my aim to read 25 books this year and bought a few second hand books off PlayTrade and Amazon this week, so I have loads to queue up.  Most of the Amazon ones were a penny, and the PlayTrade ones £2.50 with free postage so in total they cost £15 which is a bit of a snip for six books.  I bought:
  • Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
  • So Many Ways To Begin - Jon McGregor
  • All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
  • Batavia's Graveyard - Mike Dash
  • Anna Karenina - L N Tolstoy
  • Your Money or your Life - Joe Dominguez
Gem from From Gem With Love is starting a little blog book club she will be blogging about from tomorrow and I can't wait to get started on reading the first book from that too.  Moreso I can't wait to get in the new house and have walls lined with bookshelves full of books.  Do you have any recommendations for books I should add to my list? 

My Thursday three [02]

I would like to start my post today by thanking everyone for their supportive and lovely comments on my last post where I put up some pictures of the woods and then whinged on about my inability to lose weight.  It seems I'm not the only one feeling the pressure of the new year/new body resolution.  One thing I will say is that it is almighty inconvenient that a week after I am given a stocking full of chocolate oranges, after eights and boxes of chocolates that I am expected to vow to diet and only let salad past my lips.  As if I can tuck gleefully into my grilled chicken breast when I have a chocolate orange whispering at me from the cupboard....

Anyway, onto something completely different....


My new routine as of this year is to make myself a green tea in the morning before I go to work and spend some time reading either blogs or online news sites to give myself a bit of me time in the morning.  Whilst there is a special place in my 'Blogs I'm following' list for fashion and photography blogs, I have a few blogs that I especially pick for these moments because I know I can count on them for interesting thoughts, a writing style that I enjoy and something to motivate me to start the day.  My personal favourite at the moment is Being Little; Lyzi's blog where she often posts lovely photos of where she lives, baking and other crafty makes and snaps of outfits. I think I enjoy it so much because it is exactly what I envisage for my blog (although she is clearly much better at cooking and crafting than me!)

Another blog I always eagerly click through to when I see a new post is From Gem With Love.  Gem not only posts up really beautiful photos (of her own) but she also regularly blogs about real issues in a candid, honest way I really enjoy.  She wrote a really brilliant piece about blogging recently that I found really inspiring.

Finally, a new find for me; found after a couple of bloggers mentioned her blog on Twitter - Ren Ate All The Pies.  I am deeply jealous of her ability to write pithy, witty, insightful and genuinely entertaining reads and have enjoyed reading back over the posts I have missed.  

There are some days when it is so convenient that my walk home brings me down Southampton High Street, and other days when it is nothing but bad news for my wallet.  Today was just the latter, as, to avoid the rain, I ducked into Primark for a nose around and ended up buying three things I probably didn't need.  I'm not usually one to buy in to an item that's being raved about, but since I saw this gorgeous rust pussy bow dress on Emma's blog, Milkteef, I have been trying to avoid its calls as I walk by every evening.  This evening I gave in and bought it, along with the polka dot playsuit (I didn't know it was a playsuit).  I tried on the playsuit when I got home and it makes me look about 3 metres wide so I'm not sure I'll keep it.  Maybe I'll post up a photo of me in it and let y'all decide!

Finally, yesterday I had one of those moments where I decided that, along with the basic necessities of life - air, food, water, etc - I also needed a pair of mustard tights, and popped into Topshop on the way home (I need to find a different route home) and picked some up.  The only thing is, I tried them with everything I envisaged them looking great with (black shift dress, black long sleeved body con dress, black t-shirt dress) for work and they just looked awful.  Does anyone have any suggestions for how to style them? Also what shoes to wear with them would help as tan brogues also look terrible!


If you go down to the woods today

This is me in the woods today after we took my new camera out for a trip.  It was a beautiful sunny day so we drove out into the New Forest and went for a walk in Bolderwood.  I put the rest of my snaps at the end so if you are interested take a peek, and if not, do the scrolly scrolly! It was also a first outing for my new gilet - I really wasn't sure about it to begin with but it did keep me toast-y warm and wearing it with jeans and a hooded jumper made it look less like I was a horse short of a game of polo.

Of course no jaunt in the forest would be complete without a late lunch in a country pub so we stopped off for baked camembert (to start) and scampi.  This afternoon was spent curled up on the sofa with a selection of flavours of Brothers Cider and Inception on DVD.  I didn't really get a lot of it to be honest but apparently it improves with a second watch.

As I recline in the office chair, full of pub grub, cider and half a box of Dairy Box chocolates my mind naturally wanders to one of my resolutions to lose a stone before next year.  I am going to have to seriously pick up my exercise regime if I want to shift any weight at all.  I don't know whether this is an overshare, or too honest for the blogosphere, but I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  I have tried quite a wide variety of exercise regimes and diets but am fully aware that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.  My struggle with the former is that almost every social occasion I engage in seems to involve food of some kind; "shall we stay in and get a Chinese?" "shall we go out for pizza?" etc. etc.  The ultimate question for me is whether I'd be happier given the extra confidence and energy I'd get from losing a bit of weight, or would the misery of having to refuse extra portions and order salads cancel it out (I really do love food).  Also, in between my busy eating schedule and the fact that I am pretty much always tired I barely have any time to exercise (although I do walk three miles to and from work every day).  I don't know what it is about the turning of a new year that makes you evaluate your goals but I really do want to try this time.  So far my only investment in this is to buy a 'Burn Off Belly Fat' DVD (still in plastic wrapping) but maybe this year is the year to make it happen.

What about you - have you made a lose weight resolution? Or are you a good eater all year round? And by the way - there will be no more whinging about my waistline on here again - *promise*.  


I started jotting down some ideas some ideas last week of things I'd like to do in 2011, but quickly realised that what I was creating was a mish-mash of to do's, New Year's Resolutions and a 'wanderlist' of things I'd love to do.  But then I thought, 'what the hell' - and came up with my 2011....

I'm going to add it as a page on my blog so I can tick things off as I go along.  Here goes...

1. Make an item of clothing - and wear it.

2. Send off one of my short stories to at least one children's book publisher.
3. Read 25 books.
4. Buy or borrow a mountain bike and ride a trail in the woods.
5. Go back to karate.
6. Double the followers on my blog (hit 150).
7. Lose a stone.
8. Go for a weekend away in the van in Cornwall.
9. Try surfing again.
10. Go out sailing - and stop somewhere for lunch.
11. Go for another weekend in the Lake District.
12. Go for a weekend in Jersey.
13. Study for another qualification in either management or communications.
14. Send more unexpected cards and parcels.
15. If/when we move to Christchurch, make an effort to visit all the local pubs and restaurants, meet our neighbours and get to know the area.
16. Visit the bookshops in Hay-On-Wye.
17. Go swimming at least 10 times.
18. Go on a five mile walk.
19. Enter a photography competition.
20. Visit (and photograph) Tyneham Village (abandoned village).
21. Make £100 selling things on EBay.
22. Visit The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.
23. Make a plan for our trip to drive to Montenegro (29 hours of driving in total - through France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia).
24. Have at least £1000 in Tom and I's joint fund for our trip to the US.
25. Get at least one 120 film processed (stop letting them go out of date in my camera).
26. Get at least three 35mm films processed.
27. Buy a disposable camera and take it for an adventure.
28. Go to a women's boxing class.
29. Buy something old from a car boot sale and paint/upholster/sew it new again.
30. At least once a month cook a two course meal of things I've never cooked before.
31. Start scrapbooking and using my notebook again.
32. Visit an art gallery.

I have been inspired by the wanderlist of Alex and Mina who quit their jobs to travel the world and cross things off their list.  They, in turn, were also inspired by the list of 127 goals written by John Goddard at 15 (so far, he has completed 109 - and broken several records in the process).  Very inspiring.

What do you think? Too ambitious? Not ambitious enough?
Would love to see yours if you have made one - send me links!

The Thursday Three

I don't know whether it's cool to be blasé about blogging and pretend you don't really enjoy it, but I have never been cool so I am just going to come out and say that, since I started this blog in August last year I have loved every second of doing it.  Today I hit 70 followers (yeah, I know... bring out the balloons!) and whilst I never started writing a blog so that I could get a huge readership I'm genuinely surprised touched that there are people out there who want to read what I write.

I have never really had a recurrent theme in my blog - I wish I was organised enough, or passionate enough about a single medium to brand this as a fashion blog, or a craft blog, or whatever, but to be honest I love having an outlet to sit down and write about things I've done and stick up a few snaps here and there.  In the absence of any real theme, however, I quite fancy the idea of doing a recurrent post; something I do once a week that will differ from my usual photographs of my dinner and various sewing projects gone wrong.

So, with this in mind, behold....

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that it is indeed not Thursday, but I got excited about writing it and didn't want to wait until tomorrow.  Normal service will resume next week - promise.  (You may be reading this tomorrow however in which case you are probably now doubly confused.)


The idea is I'll just make a list of three blogs I've found this week and enjoyed reading and three things I've either bought or want  Hopefully it will be more interesting than I've made it sound!

I will normally update this with blogs I have found this week and am enjoying but I wanted to dedicate my first blog to the blogs that inspired me to start this in the first place.  The first blog I ever started reading; many months before I started my own, was Kaelah Bee's blog, Little Chief Honeybee.  I was pretty wowed by her professional layout, the fact that she always posted things I wanted to read and just really the realisation that there were people out there having fun, taking snaps, going on adventures and writing genuinely interesting blogs about it.

I then started mooching around the blogosphere and found a whole load of awesome British bloggers doing the same thing; writing about their lives, things they'd bought, fashion etc. During this process I came across Ayden's little clothes shop blog and fell in love with her Little Blog of Horrors.  Ayden has one of those blogs that I read and can totally imagine us being mates in real life.  That's probably not very cool is it? Haha.

Last but not least I also used to frequently read (pre blogging) Michelle's lovely blog Daisy Butter.  Her posts are always well thought out with cute photos (lots of photos of food, which appeals to me!) and to top it off, I can see her block of flats from my balcony.  Hello stalker! (Just kidding).

Despite the fact that I made myself a promise to not buy anything this month I did spend a bit of Christmas money and get myself some treats.  My first was that I was fed up with my current compact digital camera so I bought this little snapper second hand for £150 on EBay.  
Panasonic DMC FZ28
After this buy I told myself I wouldn't buy anything else, but then I started looking at varsity jackets and decided I couldn't continue my life without buying one, so I bought this little treat off EBay.

Finally, today, after a long, cold walk to work I spent the day convincing myself I needed a gilet and bought this Joules one.  Also bought from EBay.  There is a part of me that can't really believe I bought a gilet, but they just look so darned warm!
I hope you enjoyed my 'Thursday' three.  In case you are missing photos of my hamster/dinner/cups of tea/flat - don't worry, normal service will resume with my next post. Ha.

New Years - Lake District

Just arrived back into the flat after two and a half days away in the Lake District for New Years.  I took about a billion snaps but rather than boring you by talking you through all of them I've put a few of my favourites at the bottom of the post.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and had a little explore of the lake in front of our hotel (Lake Windermere) before getting ready and walking into town for dinner.  Tom's Dad was kind enough to give us some money for our New Year's Eve dinner so, with no expense spared, I ordered a large glass of pinot grigio and a fillet steak.  Tom had scallops to start and duck in a juniper jus and all the food was absolutely amazing.  We then had a little tour around some of the other bars in Ambleside (and trying out their local cider) before walking back to the hotel around 9 and picking up a bottle of bubbly on the way back.  We were also greeted back at the hotel with a glass of champagne at reception.  After a few more glasses of cava and some M&S snacks we'd picked up at the services on the way we watched the fireworks over the Thames on the BBC at midnight and went to sleep.  Not wildly exciting for some, but my idea of bliss! This is me at dinner, and my steak and parsnip crisps!

The next day we had our buffet breakfast and started off on a walk that went up the peaks behind the hotel.  It was a hard slog but some of the views were breathtaking and it was such a good feeling to get out and get some fresh air and some exercise.  I think we walked about four miles before we got to a point where the directions we were following didn't exactly match where we were and we must have gone wrong.  After walking a mile in every direction but the right one (I have made this sound easier than it was - by this point it was absolutely freezing, my legs were aching and Tom was insisting that I should trust him as he had a Mountain Leader qualification) we faced the realisation that in order to get back we'd have to go 'off road' and ended up climbing over barbed wire fences and jumping rivers to get back to the right track! We finally made it back to the hotel five hours after we'd left that morning and had crumpets and a very, very long bath.

This morning we went for a bit of an explore before heading home.  We found a frozen lake and Tom had lots of fun trying to walk on sections of it and throwing big rocks into the lake.  You can see some of the photos of me next to the lake below in my not-very-fashionable-but-very-warm sailing coat!

Home now in the flat and looking forward to going and picking up little hamster Pancake tomorrow after her vacation at hotel My Parents' House.  Have missed that little furball. How was all of your New Years? More exciting than mine I expect!