Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Night In WWII - Dad's Army Party

The hazy days that made up our early British summer seem but a distant memory now, as I begin to pull jumpers from the depths of my wardrobe once again but they did exist, once upon a time, I promise.  On one such summer’s day, my family and I hosted a small Dad’s Army themed tea party.  For those of you unfamiliar with the television program, it is a 1970s sitcom based on the Home Guard during WWII.  Armed with that common trait whereby one can idealise even the least pleasant of events, we put our hair into victory rolls (between you and me, I’d been desperately looking for an occasion to do so for quite some time) and put together out our best attempt at a wartime spread.

I made a Dig For Victory cake (very simple - Victoria Sponge with some homemade icing cut outs arranged on top) whilst my mother slaved over some miniature fish and chip ensembles wrapped in newspaper cones (although I sadly forgot to photograph these - sorry Mum).  Other delicacies included egg sandwiches, a sausage plait, rock cakes and an obligatory tin of Spam, which I stayed well away from.  My grandfather devised a WWII/Dad’s Army quiz and, of course, we watched a few episodes of Dad’s Army itself.

The weather was beautiful and it was a lovely way to pass an evening with my family.  If you’re under the impression, as I suppose I guiltily was, that fancy dress is an activity to be reserved for drunken nights out with university societies, then I urge you to think again.  A little bit of effort and a shared interest and your family can gather together to create a pretty fun evening, or so I found anyway.

Friday, 3 May 2013

14 Hours in Oslo

Oslo Harbour

I have to admit that the rare occasions on which I see 6am are usually somewhat miserable affairs - the dregs of a night out, the final few hours before a coursework deadline, the dreaded breakfast shift at a hotel summer job. At 6am last Friday, however, things were a little different. It was a bight, beautiful late April morning and I’d just arrived in Oslo, Norway, feeling astonishingly fresh given that I’d had just four hours of broken sleep on the overnight bus from Gothenburg, Sweden. I applied my makeup using a hand mirror on a bus terminal bench and set off to explore. 

By 9am I had already stumbled across Louis Vuitton, found the royal palace and located Åpent Bakeri, where I had a very Norwegian breakfast of fresh bread, stirred jam and coffee. Feeling refreshed, I wandered along the brilliantly named Gyldenløves Gate towards the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where I perched myself on a bench beneath the clear blue Scandinavian sky and began to draft this post, such was my excitement. 

Pretentious notebook scribbling over, I ventured into the park itself. A key Norwegian tourist attraction, the park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist and houses the life works of Gustav Vigeland. There were hundreds of sculptures set against expanses of grass and I found the experience thoroughly breathtaking. The quiet of the early weekday morning only served to amplify the magnitude of the sculptures, crafted from granite, bronze and wrought iron, and the comparative insignificance of the few people wandering between them. 

Many awestruck minutes later, I left the park and walked back through the city centre towards the Oslo Opera House. Again, I was left speechless. The Opera House is a huge building, built with sloping white ceilings which you can walk over, and at the top there are breathtaking views of the Oslofjord (interestingly, not a genuine fjord in the geographical sense of the word) to one side and the growing city to the other. 

I’m not sure quite why I fell so much in love with Oslo but I know that my amour was at its peak either atop the Oslo Opera House or looking down on the Vigeland Sculpture Park. There was something about the city which just grounded me and left me dumbstruck in a way that very few, if any, cities ever had. There was a sense of the incredible, usually only seen in natural phenomenons, yet Oslo has somehow created it with the clever placement and combination of the natural, the old and the new. 

Feeling completely inspired by the sheer beauty of the city, I finally climbed down from the roof of the Opera House and back towards the royal park in order to find the Oslo Litteraturhuset (in English, simply ‘Literature House’) which I’d read was the perfect place for a book lover to eat lunch. The reviews were not wrong. I walked into a large, open room, one half of which is a book shop and the other half houses Kafe Oslo and its delicious lunch menu. I opted for a chicken and apricot terrine on rye and the most delectable sorbet I have ever had for dessert (unfortunately I show my true colours as a rookie lifestyle blogger here and have to admit I got swept up in the eating and forgot to take any pictures...oops). Even the cafe walls were lined with reading material and it was a wonderful place to while away a few hours. 

Litteraturhuset was situated next to the Palace Park so after lunch I wandered back towards the Palace to watch the changing of the guard, which happens around one thirty in the afternoon. I was lucky enough to visit in one of the summer months (as deemed by the royal house, although the temperature wasn’t quite withstanding by this point) when the Norwegian military band marches through the city centre towards the palace in time for the changing of the guard. Quite a crowd gathered and it was another quite spectacular event, only heightening that “something special” feeling I already had about Oslo. 

Once the guard was safely changed, I meandered around the city centre some, browsing the many shops and taking a couple of coffee breaks. I later attempted to find the Grünerløkka district, which was the old working class neighborhood, now home to an array of cosy cafes, exciting bars and vintage dens. Sadly, I got a little lost on the way and most of the shops were closed by the time I arrived, but it was a nice place to wander around on a late Friday afternoon nonetheless and, from the look of the shop fronts, it looks like I missed a fantastic opportunity for some vintage rummaging. 

One more coffee break in Grünerløkka and it was time to head back to the city centre and take the bus back to Gothenburg. On the journey home, trying to ignore my aching feet, I reflected on my whistle stop tour and officially awarded Oslo the much coveted position of my favourite European city, knocking Budapest from the top spot. It’s hard to explain without sounding horribly corny but I left Norway feeling like I’d taken one huge breath of fresh air. I find myself getting mild Paris syndrome about most places I visit, as they just don’t quite live up to the enormously high expectations I have of them, but Oslo surpassed all I’d hoped for and more. Congratulations Norway, I’ll be back soon, and hopefully for at least a whole day next time.

Louis Vuitton

Vigeland  Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Modern Oslo Architecture



Kafe Oslo, Litteraturhüset

Norwegian Military Band

Changing of the Guard

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

On A May Day Morning

Dress - Primark
Jumper - Topshop
Shoes - Topshop
Necklace (Short) - Miss Selfridge
Necklace (Long) - Unknown

Anybody who knows me at all would be able to tell you that organisation is not something that comes naturally to me and when I do attempt it, it has been known to backfire on me slightly.  For instance, I have been known to think I've lost clothes that are in fact hung up in the wardrobe, it's such a rare occurrence.  Just yesterday, I phoned the bank in a panic after checking my online statement and seeing a £700 cash withdrawal I absolutely had not made.  It turned out I'd opened a savings account and forgotten all about it.

Equally, when I tried to take outfit pictures at some ungodly hour last week before meeting my cousin from her early morning flight, I learnt that the sunshine which is usually so welcome makes indoor outfit photos all but impossible.  I really enjoyed this outfit though for some reason, so here we are.  I'm sorry.  I'll sleep in next time.

As some of you may know, I'm coming to the end of a slightly extreme spending ban at the moment, which came about as a result of one of my new year's resolutions which was to not buy any clothes (or shoes or accessories) between January 1st and June 1st.  I found it surprisingly easy at the beginning, as most of the shops were still stocking the dregs of their A/W collections which weren't very tempting and it was too cold to even contemplate new outfits.  However, now the S/S ranges are fully launched and the sun has finally come out, I am having to employ a little more willpower.  In a bid to make it through the last month of the challenge, I've been raiding last year's summer wardrobe and, as always, trying to mix and match items in new ways.

The result, one day, was this outfit.  It has been beautiful weather here in Gothenburg but not quite time for bare arms yet, so I pulled this old Topshop jumper over a favourite Primark dress.  I really enjoyed both the bright coral paired with the colours in the dress pattern and the feel of the heavy cotton knit against the thin summer dress.  I know that the old story goes that you should wouldn't wear tights after April 4th but, hey, we're living in an era of global warming and I'm pretty sure there was still snow on the ground in the UK at the beginning of April, so I think I'll let myself off.

I haven't blogged for nearly two months which is pretty bloody atrocious.  I apologise.  I think you might be seeing a bit of a shift towards more lifestyle blogging in the future though, which I'm excited for.  As much as I love shoes and lipstick - and I do love shoes and lipstick - I find myself lacking inspiration quite often because I'm just not sure that I can convince myself that it matters enough.  Anyway, onwards and upwards!  

I hope 2013's May Day marks the beginning of a beautiful season for you all.  

Until next time,

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Back to School

Dress  - Topshop
Blouse - H&M
Satchel - Warehouse
Necklace - Accessorize 
Brogues - Unknown Swedish

I've got to admit that I don't have a whole lot to tell you about this outfit, except that I felt a lot like I was heading back to school whilst wearing it.  I'm sure you can see where that feeling came from - the satchel, the brogues, the shirt, the skirt (/dress - shhh), the bun.  All together, if I'd added a tie, I could have easily sat myself down in an exam hall and not looked an inch out of place, although I'm sure somebody would have told me off for the tied shirt.

Speaking of which, I don't think I've knotted the tails of a shirt since 2010.  It was a look that I used to quite like but I think I went off the whole idea when New Look and Dorothy Perkins introduced a ghastly range of t shirts with ready to tie hems.  I'm a little opposed to pre-made anything at the best of times - layers, rips, etc,  I think it just completely contradicts the whole vibe that is at the heart of such looks - but on too thin jersey, cut so the tie sat at an unflattering point of the abdomen which cupped any excess stomach you were sporting?  Just no high street, just no.  

Here we are though, three years later, and getting dressed this morning I suddenly found my hands fumbling to craft the perfect fisherman's knot before I even kew what was happening.  I think I kind of like it though; it adds a hint of St Trinian's to my otherwise wholly Malory Towers get up (please say I'm not the only one who grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton tales?) and, somewhat inexplicably, made me feel a little Byker Grove too.  Now, don't ask me to supply any kind of logic to go with that reference as it comes with neither rhyme nor reason.  I certainly have no recollection of ever seeing tied shirt tails on the show, but I just have an inkling that in between youth club rivalry and dabbles in teenage pregnancy, the Byker Grove best wouldn't have been stopping to button the bottom half of their shirts.  Call me crazy, but that's just how things were today.

Now, before I put a stop to this incoherent dribble to which I am subjecting you today, I'd really appreciate a little feedback from anybody reading this.  What are your feelings on the text/picture placements in blog posts?  Do you like pictures placed all together at the beginning, all at the end, or half and half?  Do you like the text in one block, or the paragraphs alternated with pictures?  I think I've tried pretty much all of the above at one point or another, most regularly opting for a picture-text-pictures routine, but I just can't make my mind up.  Any opinions will be greatly appreciated.

Happy Monday,

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer - A Bittersweet Review

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Stellar 

For me (and the majority of the online beauty community and indeed the world at large, or so it seems), February brought with it a much anticipated addition to my makeup collection in the shape of a Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer or two.  Whilst I may be a little late to the show when it comes to reviewing this product, I wanted to added my two cents nonetheless, as my feelings about the Apocalips were bittersweet.

I'll start with the good news.  I found the lip lacquer astonishingly easy to apply; they provided the pigmentation of a lipstick, with the ease of gloss application.  They perhaps even trumped the matte formulas to which I am usually so loyal as it took just one swipe of the product, blotted, to give a colour payoff that would usually require at least two coats of regular lipstick.  Not only is the immediate colour gratification excellent, but the staying power of the Apocalips formula is pretty darn impressive too.  I applied it in the morning and hours later, having encountered wind, rain, sandwiches and litres of water, it was still looking picture perfect. 

As I said though, I wasn't 100% impressed by the product.  If I wanted an easy and, let's be honest, fun alternative to a standard lipstick, I couldn't fault Apocalips, but that's not why I bought them.  I have an extensive range of matte lip colours already but I wanted something more from Rimmel's latest offering.  I wanted colour payoff, yes, but I wanted it to come with a gloss and shine that you could almost see your reflection in.  And, on first application, that's exactly what you get but boy oh boy is it messy.  I wore the product like this for less than an hour before the endless transferring onto every surface got a bit too much to handle, and I urgently reached for a tissue to blot with, thereby achieving the aforementioned effect.

The big question: is this product for you?  If you want a hassle free lip colour with incredible pigmentation and superb longevity in a nice range of shades, then yes yes yes, I urge you to pick up a Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer. However, if you're looking for something a bit different, something that'll give you a glossy Hollywood smile, then I suggest you think a little more carefully.  Unless you love your new lip colour so much that you want a trace of it on every surface, that is, in which case go ahead and enjoy.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Topshop Old, Topshop New, Topman Borrowed, Topshop Blue

Top - Topshop
Blazer - Topshop
Shorts - Zara (DIY)
Boots - Bianco
Belt - Topman
Necklace - Vintage

As you may be able to tell from the title, this post just a little Topshop heavy.  Ahem.  It wasn't until I began to attempt to conjure a title though (and, personally, I think that might be the hardest part of blogging) that I realised just how appropriate that old marital adage would be.  And, well, if the shoe fits...

So here we are.  Let's start with something old.  I picked this top up back in the dusky days of 2010 on a pre-university shopping trip in Birmingham.  I found this piece reduced from £38 to just £8 (I remember because I was so darn impressed with my bargain hunting) and I believe there was a 20% student discount event on at the time, taking it down to just £6.40.  Quite the steal, I'm sure you'll agree.  However, when I plucked this item from the rail, it didn't look quite as it does today.  No, at the time it was entirely adorned with silk feathers.  On somebody with a different body shape to me I'm sure this would have been quite the statement piece, but unfortunately as somebody with a chest, I ended up just looking like a large, peach coloured bush.  It wasn't the most flattering.  Never to be deterred though, I took my craft scissors to the foliage and was left with this rather useful, mostly sheer but subtly striped vest.  Not bad for £6.40.

The new, borrowed and blue have rather a less to the story of them.  In fact, the new and blue are actually rolled up in one in the jacket.  No doubt that's bad luck in a wedding, but luckily nobody's put a ring on it yet (yes, let's just take a moment to appreciate Queen Bey shall we?) so I'm safe on that front.  Having hunted for a navy blazer for at least a year now, I was pretty happy to find this one for £20 in the Christmas sales just gone.  It's just what I was looking for shape-wise and it's been a very useful addition to the wardrobe.  I've also taken to layering it with my beige mac to create a little extra warmth and an effect I quite enjoy.  As for the something borrowed, I am of course referring to this belt, also picked up in a sale (£2 for a real leather belt I do recall, yes siree!) but from Topman, so stolen from the boys this time.

Along with my cut up Zara jeans, this outfit is a perfect example of how well worn items can be combined together in a different way to create a new look.  As I'm now two months into my spending ban, I've taken to pulling old favourites out of hiding like this quite regularly, in order to breathe a well needed bit of fresh air into my wardrobe as we head into Spring.  Long may the penny saving continue.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Style Spring Clean

Cardigan -  Topshop
Shirt - River Island
Jeans - Miss Selfridge
Brogues - Unknown Swedish

Despite the fact that we're still in the first half of February and that I woke up to snow falling on Gothenburg this morning, my apparently very out of sync brain has decided to declare summer, or spring at least.  Long gone are my winter dreams of burgundy and fur, replaced by lusting over warmer days and frantically checking the 'new in' pages of Topshop for trickles of the summer collection.  Unfortunately, as I said, the snow is still falling here in Sweden, and when I checked the weather online this morning, I saw that a miserable -5º was waiting outside for me.  But still, I couldn't shed my whimsical thoughts of seasons to come.

I ended up having to compromise with myself, pulling on what seems to be my favourite winter uniform of shirt-knit-jeans but allowing myself to bring out some more summery shades.  I'm usually pretty strict on myself with regards to dressing for the season because, after years of trial-and-error experimenting, I've found I'm just not very good at making my wardrobe work all year round in the way that some people can pull off so well.  These items both slipped through my organisational net though, so today I paired them together to create a more Spring-ready look.  The only downside was that this outfit really just didn't work with my burnt red winter coat, meaning that my only option was to brave this chilly February Sunday in a very thin mac.  The things we do for fashion, eh?

I've been a bit rubbish at both blogging and, well, life lately.  If anybody has noticed my absence from the internet, I apologise, and I really, truly, 100% promise that things are looking up on the productivity front from now on.  I've recently started writing for The Editeur's blog which has inspired me to work a bit harder on my own from now on, because the world is our oyster, and all.  If you are at all interested, you can read my pieces for them here.

Lastly, over the past few weeks, I've been nominated for the Liebster Award by Felicity, Rosy and Bekki.  I have actually already done the award post, just before Christmas, and I don't want to bore you with yet more ridiculous facts about myself and my life, but I really do appreciate you nominating me so a  huge, ginormous thank you to all three of you.

Until next time (which will be a short time!),

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Joy of Jacquard

Jumper - Topshop
Trousers - Mango
Shoes - Unknown
Necklace - Vintage
Large Ring - Prickig Katt

As a life long lover of paisley, it seems only natural that I would have been drawn to  jacquard loom and, indeed, I have.  For months now I have lusted over quilted  jackets and slinky jacquard print bodycon.  I have drooled over it in jewel tones, in pastels, in monochrome, in metallic.  At one point, I'm sure I have even had a dream in which I was wearing it, yet somehow I never made a purchase, never had a piece to call my own.  Until Christmas morning, that is.

Amongst a generous pile of gifts, I found this knitted piece.  In a perfect combination of shades for winter - dark, yet still bright - and in my favourite sweater shape - thick but not oversized - it was a little piece of woven heaven.  As much as I am often drawn to minimalist styles, I equally enjoy patterns that make you look twice and textures that you could get lost in.  I love paisley because you could follow it forever, and jacquard holds the same appeal for me.  On another level, I also appreciate the contrast of decadent jacquard against the practicality of a knitted jumper.  I feel like it just works, as a piece.

There is something about jacquard that feels so deliciously luxurious; something about the fact that it is so intricate, so multi-dimensional, yet purely for aesthetic satisfaction, that pleases me to the point of feeling almost a little bit royal.  For this reason, I wanted to style this jumper simply, with classic pieces.  Once again, out came these green cigarette trousers, which for an item bought on a sale whim, come in very handy, very often.  As far as footwear was concerned, it was finally time to put to use these shoes which I picked up for just £5 - yes, that's right, £5 - as part of a buy-one-get-one-half-price deal.  At the time I wasn't too taken by them but they have really grown on me, to the point of being one of my favourite pairs.  I like the simplicity of them, which makes them instantly classy, combined with the chunky heel that adds a hint of modernity.  

In a nutshell, I think that what I'm trying to say is that just as I will love paisley forever more, no matter how in or out of fashion it is,  jacquard is also here to stay.  Everybody is allowed a few pieces to act as their personal "get out jail free" card.

Also, I must apologise for how lax I've been on the blogging front lately.  I was just about ready to get back into the swing of life when I sustained a pretty horrid ankle injury which has had me house/bed bound for longer than I would have liked.  Onwards and upwards though; peaks and troughs.  

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My Future Listography: All I Hope To Do In Lists

Listography -  Amazon

I spent the first few days of 2013 wandering around Gothenburg, sampling many of its cafes and generally soaking up a bit of much needed culture after spending Christmas in Northampton.  I was not alone in these enriching pursuits though; my cousin Bethany hopped onto a plane for her third visit to Sweden's second city.  On one of our perfect days out, we amused ourselves in Göteborg Museum of Art, beginning with a delicious lunch in their restaurant, following onto a lengthy peruse of the museum and culminating, of course, with a browse of the book shop.  Whilst browsing this delightful little store, I came across My Future Listography and was completely taken with it.  

This may come as a bit of a surprise - and shh, don't tell anybody - but I'm a bit of a closet sentimentalist.  Give me a packet of dusty photographs, a forgotten love letter or a dog-eared train ticket and you'll set me off spouting memories for days to come.  I'm also a sucker for resolutions, elaborate plans and motivational planning.  My Future Listography allows me to be proactive in the latter and, one day, I'll be able to indulge in the former.  Basically, it's the perfect.

The label on the back cover of this book describes it as "the ultimate fill-in journal for pondering the road ahead" and I think that sums it up nicely.  Between the wonderfully thick cover pages sit 160 pages of lists, illustrations and spaces to ponder.  The lists range from the potentially comical - "list ideas you want to see invented" - to the downright life changing - "list philosophies you wish your brain would permanently adopt".  There's a list for every mood and a category for every idea, along with three pages given to "list the things you hope to experience before you die" which to me just seals the deal on the usefulness of this book.

I think that this book is the perfect gift for anybody, including yourself.  It could be a space to jot down hilarious ideas and form lists laden with irony.  Equally, it would make the ideal companion for an afternoon of pondering and perfecting the deepest thoughts on life.  I would almost go as far as saying that I think it's an essential item for anybody on the cusp of "real life" - and even for those a little past it.  It's a place to write down all those things that you urgently commit to memory and then never remember again.  It demolishes all your excuses not to fill your life full of wonderful things and, to me at least, that will never be a bad thing.

As you may be able to tell, I'm pretty damn excited by my find.  I was so excited by it that I stood and stroked it, full of book based awe, for at least five minutes, trying to weigh up poverty vs. happiness.  I eventually decided that it wasn't an essential and could probably wait until loan day, and reluctantly put it back on the shelf.  We browsed for a little longer before calling it a day and trudging back out into the cold.  It was on this slow march that Beth, sneakily clutching a carrier bag, announced she'd bought me a birthday present.  I think you can guess what was in it.  

I was, of course, pretty thrilled by my shiny new gift (my birthday isn't until February but Beth kindly let me have it early).  Unfortunately, this does mean that I can now be held fully accountable for my own happiness forever more, with little opportunity to blame forgetfulness ever again.  Let's hope that I manage to do justice to the one hundred and sixty beautiful pages sitting beside me as I type this.  I solemnly swear...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A New Dawn, A New Day

Well, let me begin by wishing you all a very happy new year.  I spent the last evening of 2012 having a slightly incestuous date night with my cousin, featuring a lot of ice cream, multiple glasses of duty free prosecco and renditions of Auld Lang Syne by a whole host of artists, with my favourite being the Jimi Hendrix one.  It wasn't the wildest new year I've ever had but certainly one of the best, only made better by the lack of hangover this morning.  Rather than lounging in bed, groaning and drinking all of the Lucozade in the world as I usually would, I have instead been concocting an enormous batch of superfood vegetable soup and writing up a list of new year's resolutions for the first time ever.  I'm feeling really positive about 2013, in an uncharacteristic turn of events.  I think it's going to be the year that things happen.

I won't share with you my full list of resolutions, as I'm sure you aren't too interested by how little chocolate I intend to eat or how many words I aim to write.  However, I will tell you that my number 1 resolution involves me not buying any clothes at all between today, January 1st, and June 1st.  No, I'm not really sure why I've forced this upon myself either, except that the negative numbers on my bank statements are getting terrifying and I'm starting to wonder how on earth I'm going to cart all these items back to England come June.  To clarify, "no clothes" includes shoes/bags/jewellery/all other accessories, but I am still allowed to buy makeup and beauty products.  Thank God for the small mercies.

Rewinding a little from the new year festivities now and taking a look back at Christmas, I feel I should utter a few words of apology for having taken nearly a two week break from blogging.  I was at home, I was somewhat busy, I couldn't figure out a good spot to take pictures... all blind excuses, really.  I'm back though, huzzah, with a big fat dose of motivation for 2013.

Lastly, a quick word about the Blogger's Secret Santa that I participated in, which was organised by Vicki Higham from A Life of Geekery.  I had planned to do a longer post about this but unfortunately I was silly and dismantled by present before I had a chance to take a picture of it.  After it had sat under the Christmas tree for many a day, I was excited to finally tear open my parcel on December 25th and discovered a lovely Bodyshop gift set waiting for me.  It was the strawberry set and included an exfoliant, a shower gel, a body butter and a shower scrunchie, all of which smell divine and will come in extremely handy.  Unfortunately, my Santa decided to remain anonymous so I couldn't thank them so, if you do happen to be reading this - THANK YOU!

I'm going to leave you with a few pictures of my festivities now.  Warning: an awful lot of novelty festive knitwear is featured.

Good tidings to all,