Saturday, 20 September 2014
One thing that people have been saying recently that's really confusing to me is 'can it just be fall/autumn already?' I feel like I follow a good few people who have tweeted or said this in a blog post already. Maybe it's because I follow a lot of American bloggers and they actually have an identifiable summer and are slightly relieved when it ticks over to autumn, but personally I am quite happy for the coming seasons to hold off a little longer. It seems to me we only had about two weeks of sunshine, even my trip to Spain was blighted by clouds and rain a few times. That said, I can't bemoan the summer too much because it did actually appear this year and being English, and living in Britain, you can't really complain too much about the lack of summer, as really, hoping for one tends to be setting the bar a little high. Still, though some people are desperate for mugs of hot tea and warm socks and wooly snoods, my anticipation of Autumn tends to be a little different. For me, autumn says 'your hair never looking how it's supposed to the second you walk out of the house' and sweaty feet in socks you thought were going to be super cuddly but now they're a little damp and your feet are probably colder and certainly clammier than before' and 'realising that none of your opaques look good with this outfit'. Maybe it's just my hair type and my sense of fashion, maybe these people are the lucky few with naturally flawless hairs and un-sweatable feet?
Today was one such autumn day which threw my previously ultra-sassy, voluminous and smoothly waved locks into the look you see here. It was just a drizzle, so it could have been a lot worse (and I was wearing real-life clothes that I'd made a super huge effort for so I was unfailingly optimistic) but don't you just hate when that happens! Martin told me I ought to get hair like his and I invited him to swap but he didn't think blonde curls would be his kind of thing. Still, I was determined we would have outfit pictures because I got this fantastic dress from Pepa Loves that I really ought not to have bought, but I have been longing for a sailor smock for so very long. The dress itself is a lovely quality, a lovely heavy denim (for a dress, it's obviously not jean-weight) with a lined skirt, and it slips on over the head. Best of all, it has two fairly generous pockets. It's super playful and girly so I went with some doe-eyed liner, my black 60s handbag that appears to have sort of spookily disappeared into the door and these little bow-adorned shoes from a little shop in Coventry called Kilikili. I was so excited I wore it crinkles and all (and also, we don't actually own an iron yet.. student life...) and took these pictures in front of this fantastic wall/signage on the way home from Oriental Mart, which is Chinese-food-fantasy-land. I have been learning to cook more and trying to wring recipes out of Martin and family, and it's been really fascinating to learn a lot more of the ways of home-cooking Cantonese style that is far beyond the stuff you get in a takeaway. I love going here and investigating all the different foods that are so alien to me, and I usually buy something that I want to try or do actually need. The shop is so tiny that it feels like such a treasure trove, especially the cake and biscuit aisle where there are hundreds of varieties of Pocky (if you've not heard of Pocky, you might have heard of Mikado) Somehow on top of that they managed to fit in a bubble tea counter, where i'm headed tomorrow to make some human contact with some people I missed very much over summer.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Hi everyone! So today my first flatmate officially moved in so I am no longer begging Martin to let me stay over and vice versa for fear of a scary, lonely house. Things are beginning to return to normality, for instance, the other day I actually got dressed in real clothes and made an effort. The last few days were really the tipping point for it to feel like I am living in a home that just needs a few tweaks, rather than a building site! Sadly, just as I began to get that feeling, I was sitting on the landing working on making some art for our walls, when I heard a dripping sound. The drips turned to splats and I realised water was raining through the light in our hallway. Cue panic, crying and hyperventilating and calling my dad, who came up the next day to fix it. The issue was a leaking bath pipe, which is now safe and not-leaking, and tomorrow might be time to try turning the downstairs lights on! Lucky us!
Amidst all the chaos, I'd had some lovely trousers delivered by Aislinn from Boo Boo Kitty Couture. I wore them into town (ignoring the water issues) for some more house-related shopping - I now have a lovely chair for my desk - and I felt like going for a more beatnik-y vibe as I am still feeling a bit too DIY-y for skirts and dresses.I had to add in my bensimons though as I am already wearing them thin! I know things will be different when Uni begins though, so I'm excited to get back into the swing of dressing up properly. Still, it was nice to make an effort regardless of not being in a dress, I just know these trousers are going to be perfect for the colder months, now to stock up on jumpers to pair with them!
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
So, if I thought I was existing day-to-day in my allowed-to-get-messy clothes and no make up before I moved, nothing prepared me for arriving in my semi-building site home. I settled into my room pretty quickly, a lot of it was just assembling things and tidying up. The insane amount of life-laundry I did whilst packing made everything so much easier. It was so liberating to get rid of so much detritus! One of the most labour-intensive projects for this room was the bed. I bought it off eBay, secondhand IKEA and originally black, but I could see its potential and decided to paint it a matte-ish white to mimic the Downton Abbey servant/hospital beds I adore. My fantastic desk lamp (and desk) were also IKEA, but that enormous, fantastic standing lamp was from Dunelm Mill for the measly sum of £20! I've already had several people ask me where it's from. Inadvertantly, the house is looking an unusual mix of industrial vs different eras of vintage. I think perhaps part of it is the undeniable white-wash everywhere along with the charcoal carpets. These two areas are the only two areas that are finished enough to show, there's still a few boxes lined up against the wall waiting to go to other areas of the house, or onto shelves. My next projects are flitting between the living room and kitchen, and waiting for my dad to bring his drill up at the weekend to fix the last few things and get some shelves up. Frustratingly, everything takes longer than you expect it, but the good news is that Tesco is bringing me a van laden with food tomorrow, so a well-stocked fridge might bring me back to a greater sense of normality.
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Hi everyone! Firstly let me apologise for the random Polyvore post - I hate that!! I need to find out how to switch it off. I've deleted it now, but for those of you who didn't see it, i'd made a little Polyvore collage of my plans for an ugly sofa in my house-to-be! Speaking of which, tonight is my last day in Coventry (as a resident.) I technically moved out this time last year, but I think for the most part your room tends to stay 'your room' at home for first year, particularly as almost all parents anticipate their children returning to live at home after being kicked out of halls in July, but this year my room really is becoming a guest room (/plant room!) and I was ruthless between future-life stuff and stuff that I didn't need weighing me down. It's been cleansing, and necessary in order to pack. I've been living amongst boxes (and trunks, and IKEA bags, and suitcases...) and I just finished lining up everything in the hallway ready-to-go in the morning. I've also been living in mostly practical clothes, which is one reason for the lack of blogging, but here's a glimpse of my moving-house outfit anyway - comfy denim and a white shirt. I am so looking forward to the amount of DIY I will be getting up to once I got there, and this week I have done a horrendous amount of shopping in preparation for making a little home. I'm hoping to document house transformations on here, as I have basically be waiting 19 years for this moment! Several years of Pinterest boards! Prior to that, scrapbooks of stuff cut from Homes & Antiques (tell me i'm not the only one) This is the first time I have some creative control over areas other than my bedroom, and i'm so excited - at this rate I may well be in bed by 9 just for it to be tomorrow already.
Friday, 22 August 2014
So around the first couple of weeks of the summer holidays, I decided to get my life in order. I think it's a right of passage that at uni you gain weight in your first year, and I was nearing a stone. I've tried and failed so many times to 'get healthy' but I think I spent a lot of time not really knowing what to actually do. Martin and I had started running every Sunday, so we carried that on into the holidays, but I made some simple changes that have helped me drop nearly all of the stone in a pretty short space of time. The best part about it is that it's been enjoyable. I think my priorities have changed a little, and this time it stuck, because it's nice to sit and have breakfast up to the table and use the pretty plates and have lots of fruit on supply.
In addition to our runs, I am now doing exercises, weighted, every morning. It doesn't take a lot (not enough to get so horribly sweaty that I have to wash and blow dry my hair every day, which has always been a huge issue with regular exercise for me) I simply do each exercise for a minute. I also use this brief time to practice my Cantonese, so that's actually sticking in my head pretty well too. I took this picture to show that I actually do do my exercises in my slippers as soon as I get up.
I have adjusted my diet to incorporate more fruit (to eat as snacks instead of wandering into the kitchen looking for things to eat) and I make sure to always eat fruit or vegetables with whatever protein or carb I'm eating, as it helps your body to store it as muscle rather than fat. For instance I usually have an egg on toast, but make sure to have something green such as cucumber or some leafy greens alongside it.
I just wanted to talk about how nothing has been particularly intensive or life-changing, but, echoing many many bloggers around the world, it really is just small changes that make a huge difference. The next challenge will be making it stick once I get to uni and have no time in the mornings to get ready and cook. If you have any tips for me that would be fantastic! Especially where breakfast is concerned.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
At around this time every year, Mum's bountiful garden ripens and she picks hundreds of berries from our red and white currant bushes, raspberry bushes and the odd strawberry, cherry and logan berries. With so much of them (and sometimes they're a little tart) it's become tradition that she makes it into a huge batch of jam and stockpiles it all in a cupboard! We call it 'Rivendell' Jam as mum named our garden (like people name their houses) after the land of the elves in Lord of the Rings. I tend to help, if i'm actually around when she makes the decision to make it, and this time I decided to blog it. She's gotten so good at it that she doesn't need a recipe anymore. She just pust a __ of jam-making sugar in for every ___ of fruit and the juice of half a lemon. At the same time we boiled all the jam jars in water in order to prevent bacteria getting in and spoiling your jam!
My main job was to crush the berries against the side of the pot (allowing them to cook) before turning the heat right up. When it starts to bubble we skim the scum off the top (we like to think all the soil, dust and any creepycrawlies turn up here) and then do the wrinkle test. (See pictures below!) The wrinkle test requires you to put a small spoonful on a plate, let it set for one minute, and then 'push' through the jam with your finger. If the jam wrinkles, it will set properly. Then we turned the heat off and spooned it into jars (a funnel is a much better idea but ours was lost) Then we popped wax circles on top to form a seal (if you can't find them, cut baking paper into circles but really you should use wax paper) and screwed on the lids tightly. Now we're enjoying it on our toast and come winter you get a reminder of summer that lasts through to the next year! There's definitely a real sense of pride in making something like jam yourself, and it feels special to show off to friends - I took a jar to uni with me, and probably will again in September!
Monday, 18 August 2014
Coral Sneakers (for they can't really be called Trainers!) and Summer Strolling and Style Inspiration
After discovering these existed on Pinterest, I knew they would make perfect summer shoes and I have been lusting after a pair for so long. It was too cold and unjustifiable while at uni and running on negative funds, but when I got back home (and to work) I saved up a little money to buy a pair of Bensimon sneakers online. Apparently they've been around since the 70s (you can tell) and are well known for their wash-ability and good quailty. I'm really really hoping these don't fall apart as I want to be able to traipse around Spain in them and then wear them to uni regularly when I get back. They are super comfortable (and true to size) and I feel like they are going to go with everything (see summer dress an flowery backpack for inspiration!) I felt they warranted their own post as they are so gorgeous and old-school and I haven't had a pair of slip-on sneakers for ages. I have been looking for more flats since I no longer wear heels every day (I like to be vaguely the same height as Martin when we stroll to the supermarket) and really flats are much more practical in a paint-y uni studio, carrying folders and books around and marching to computer-to-printer-to-scanner-to-art shop-to-library and back to studio. Like I said before with the converse, I'm still waiting on a pair of cigarette pants that I think will see these through into autumn.