Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Girls in white dresses...

Well, not me! We're going to a wedding in April, so I need a frock obviously!!

Being a rather unconventional shape, I find custom made dresses better than shop bought ones. Thankfully I am a bit handy with a sewing machine and am quite adept at adapting patterns to what I want.
I absolutely adore Alexander Miller fabrics, and there is a whole new collection.

I have chosen this one to make the dress for the April wedding:

I have a pattern that I made a dress from a couple of years ago with another Alexander Miller fabric, which I may need to buy a new version of as I have put on a bit of weight since I made the last dress, but it is a lovely pattern nonetheless. Or I might look for something new...
This is the pattern I used before and I have in my collection:

This is a possible contender.. I quite like the fuller skirt and the neckline on the black and white version.

Any thoughts?

Goodbye January Blues!!

Apologies for the lack of posting - January has not been much to write home about. What with the usual post Christmas empty wallet syndrome (combined with it being a looooong month), quitting smoking and the ever present feeling that my body does not really meet current modern standards, I haven't really felt like posting anything, let alone about make up or clothes.
But, January is nearly over, and with the end of the month comes my birthday. January has also brought a wedding invite, which is exciting because I have an excuse for a new dress. I also have had some good news on the job front, which makes things clearer and more certain.

So, onwards and upwards right?

Things I am loving right now:

  • My fringe - I'm finally getting the hang of styling it and figured out what I'm going to do with the rest of my hair. I have an appointment with my hairdresser on Friday for a trim :)
  • Rum. I can't seem to stop drinking Lambs Navy Rum and coke, it is my favourite tipple!
  • MAC Studio Sculpt foundation: flawless skin.
  • The fact that my skin is clearing up (I've probably jinxed it all now!)
  • The new Alexander Miller fabric prints - I have picked one for the dress I will be making! 
  • Feeling like a clever clogs - I turned in an assignment a couple of weeks ago that I thought was terrible and I got some amazing feedback from my tutor today and a distinction!
  • Being able to sing better now I've quit smoking, and enjoying belting out some cracking tunes in the car! 
  • Revisiting some amazing albums that I had forgotten how much I loved 

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Breaking up is hard to do

I had forgotten how hard this is. Quitting smoking that is. I didn't start smoking properly until I was nearly 20, although I'd dabbled a bit on and off from my 16th birthday (I hadn't ever smoked until the Hamlet Mild at my birthday party) but the real thing started on July 4th 2002. I remember the date because I was quite drunk at my ex mother in law's 60th birthday party. I told my (now ex) husband that I wanted to learn how to roll cigarettes, and I told my ex MIL's partner that he wasn't to tell my dad if he bumped into him at the golf course.

I quit once before. It was 2006 and my ex and I were in dire financial straits. I had the choice - milk, bread and petrol, or tobacco. I have never ever smoked proper cigarettes, I hate them. I have always been one for the craft of rolling my own, and if I do say so myself, it is something I am good at.

Golden Virginia tobacco, silver Rizlas and Swan extra slim filters. Perfection.

So I quit in 2006. Then in 2007 my ex left me. I went away for the weekend, ironically to by then non smoking Scotland, came back, went for dinner with a friend who smokes and a glass of red wine later was bumming rollies off her. Until now.

I don't know what made me want to quit. I suppose I've been thinking about it for about a year now. A lot of my friends have turned 30 in the last year and have all decided to quit at that point, like it's an appropriate moment to do so. I kept saying that I wouldn't quit until we'd moved to Austria, I wanted at least a couple of years in the country that still hasn't banned smoking in bars before I quit.

But somehow on January 3rd I find myself realising that I haven't smoked since 4am on New Year's Day and that I actually don't want one.

Until now. The whole point of this long and rambling post is to distract myself and my hands from the rum induced nicotine cravings that logically I shouldn't be having but am.

Rum. It is all the fault of the rum. Lamb's Navy Rum to be precise. Maybe it is because my grandfather drank it and he smoked like a chimney. Maybe it is because somewhere in my brain, a part of it thinks that smoking is cool. Maybe it is rebellion. All the greatest rock and roll stars smoke.

The logical, sensible part of my brain knows that smoking will shorten my life span, clog my lungs and arteries, maybe even kill me. Hell, my grandpa (not the Navy Rum one) died of lung cancer. I should know all the risks. But something in my head, in my brain, something in me wants to keep smoking.
I don't even have any major incentives to not smoke. I have no desire to have children, so I don't feel the need to preserve my reproductive organs, I'm not in dire financial straits. All I have is the knowledge that it isn't doing me any favours.

Right now, I have spent the evening fighting back the cravings. I am having to fight the urge to munch on things, so I don't put on even more weight. I know it is the best thing in the long run. I just need to keep reminding myself of that.

Friday, 7 January 2011


I bought a couple of nail polishes in Sally's on Monday. A bit naughty but sometimes you need a treat right?

Anyway, one of them was a China Glaze Christmas colour, so was in the sale for a bargainous £2.40.
Little Drummer Boy:

I took it against my dress so you could see the blue - it came up looking quite black in a lot of shots. It is a weird grey/blue/black colour but I absolutely love it, rather surprisingly (I'm not a fan of the colour blue)! It is pretty much the same colour as when Contrast e/s over Black Greasepaint Stick, maybe a smidge darker.
It is lasting well too - this is 2 coats plus 1 coat of Seche Vite. No visible chips after 36 hours and only a tiny bit of tip wear (typing will do that to your nails unfortunately). Very impressed :)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Musical associations

I realised I haven't blogged about music lately. Ever really. Time to change that, seeing as music is so key to my life and emotions.
I was inspired to write having been transported to a different time whilst listening to Within Temptation's The Silent Force album. I first discovered WT when I used to go clubbing in Plymouth. The club I used to go to had a big projector screen above the dancefloor which would be playing interesting videos, usually not related to the music. For a couple of weeks I went there, they were playing a video of a concert in a big stadium. I was intrigued by the costumes (corsets and boots, my fave!), the pyrotechnics, and just how incredibly popular this band seemed to be. Not to mention that the lead singer is gorgeous! I asked the DJ and he told me it was Within Temptation. Cue a bit of rummaging around on the net, and I managed to find out a little more about them and fell in love with their songs. The Silent Force is one of my favourite of their albums, with some wonderful choral work, heavy riffs, atmospheric music... If you watch one DVD of a concert, make it their performance at Java Island in Amsterdam.

So I thought I'd show you a couple of pictures of me back in those days where I was still really experimenting with my image and look...

Just before a night out in 2005/6... check out how skinny I am!

At a Lacuna Coil gig in 2006. I had recently purchased Black pigment and Dark Side lipstick!

An artist's rendition of me circa 2006

Rocking big lips early 2007

Looking fierce in 2007

Those were the days before things changed quite a lot for me. It has taken me quite a while to reflect and really accept the changes in me, and embrace the fact that I am growing older. In some ways the me in those pictures is still a little girl, still a child finding her way. The me now has found her way, found her path and her companion.

Anyway, I digress a little - music and style was the point of this post! Listening to Within Temptation makes me want to run home and put on my flounciest skirt, lace myself into my corset and bounce around the house with my big boots on. Make up would have to be dark and sultry eyes, with a mid tone lip.

I feel a feature coming on... music inspired outfit and make up! Let's see whether I can make a start on this at the weekend!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A new year, a new me?

It's that time of year when people all over the world resolve to be better people, making statements of intent to do drastic things and make dramatic changes, most of which will be out of the window before the end of January. Apparently January 24th is the most depressing day of the year, because it marks the point where our resolutions made with such enthusiasm have fallen well and truly by the wayside.

So, in order to combat this, I have decided that new year's resolutions are so 20th century. I've had a resolution to be tidier for the last 21 years and I have never ever managed to keep it. I no longer see the point in torturing myself.

I have however, quit smoking. Not through some conscious desire or wish. I'm pretty surprised about it to be honest. I hardly smoked over Christmas, in part due to feeling rubbish, also because none of my family do, and I realised last night that I hadn't had a cigarette since 4am on New Year's Day and I hadn't actually missed it. More importantly, I really did not want another one. So, I guess I've quit. My body has done all the hard work for me already.

To accompany this change, I have some goals I want to achieve, and most of them require only small changes to my lifestyle to achieve.

1. Eat smarter. We are terrible for shopping as we go, and while I am ace at making masses of food and freezing left overs, I would like to be more structure in my cooking adventures, not least because it makes it easier while I am busy studying. In order to achieve this, I am reverting back to the weekly food plan my Dad used when my sister and I were growing up. It goes as follows:
Sunday: Roast dinner - chicken is most economical.
Monday: Cold meat or soup made from leftovers of roast
Tuesday: Scrambled eggs and beans on toast or risotto
Wednesday: Pasta of some description, invariably with many vegetables.
Thursday: Fish day - a fave was smoked mackerel, boiled potatoes and peas. We like salad.
Friday: Burgers, chips, eggs and beans. A Friday night tradition.
Saturday: Spaghetti Bolognese, Chilli Con Carne or curry.
I think I will mix it up a bit and add a stirfry in there - I love massive veggie stir fries and they are such a good way of getting veg in. All in all, the plan should help save money and be more economical. Which leads to....

2. Save money. We have big things planned for the end of 2011, which will require a decent pot of money behind us. We really need to kick start this and sort it out. Which means I need to stop spending so much money. I've already made a few steps, such as finding cheaper alternatives to skincare (one of my biggest expenses) and I shall make do and mend my clothes as far as possible (although I am eyeing one pair of my jeans with fear right now). Another big expense for me is buying lunch at work, so I intend to go back to my poached eggs and beans lunches, which are not only nutritionally very good, but also cheap. Homemade soup will also feature when I remember to get it out of the freezer.
This will mean a little refocusing of this blog overall, as I will have less new things to show you, but part of the challenge will be to create new looks out of existing things, and using my skills as a seamstress to liven things up a bit.

3. Resume my fitness regime. There was a time when I used to go to the gym 3 times a week and do a couple of classes on top of that. All I gained were enormous thighs and big arms. Not my favourite things ever. So I stopped. My gym buddy best friend also moved away, leaving me with noone to egg me on. I have since found a new gym buddy for one of my classes and she's a proper gym goer, but she uses her work gym, whereas I use mine. I pay for my membership and I need to use it, so money is going to be a motivation here, but the plan is as follows:
Monday: Body Balance
Tuesday: Swimming
Thursday: Swimming
Friday: Zumba
That should keep me fit and as I really enjoy swimming (and am quite good at it), I shouldn't lose motivation. Body Balance is my favourite class as it is so relaxing and feels so so good. I have been itching to try Zumba for a while and there is a new class now at my local centre that is at a sensible time. Better dig out the trainers then!

4. Take better care of myself. I have a tendency to internalise stress, which causes my skin to break out horrendously. I also have a tendency to neglect myself and not allow time to unwind and relax. It becomes a bit of a viscious cycle and the Mr is always telling me to calm down and relax. I think I need to heed his advice. I took a bath for the first time in ages (I'm much more of a shower girl) and for the first time since we had the new boiler fitted. It was heavenly, warm and cosy, I could have fallen asleep in there were it not for my morbid fear of drowning! But I definitely need to allow myself at least one bath a week with a good non academic book, just to give myself some breathing space, some time away from the world. I also intend to try and make sure I give myself time in the morning to leave the house in the polished state I would like to, not simply dragging myself out of bed and into the shower before leaving the house in some semblance of professionalism.

5. Study smarter. I have managed to get a little behind on my reading for my MSc, and I fully understand why the OU do not reccommend you take more than 1 post grad module at a time. It is hard work. But I don't have the luxury of time to take the modules one at a time, so I have to make the best of what I have got. I have a looming deadline next week, but then a bit of a break from assignments which should give me enough time to catch up properly and sort out some kind of study schedule that I can stick to. I have set myself the goal of 2 hours per day on weekdays, at least 4 on weekends, which should mean I get everything done without having to play catch up all the time.

The Mr and I have plans for this year, big plans, and sticking to these goals will help us achieve them. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

MAC makeover!

Finally, I have some time to quickly write about the make over my friend and I had at Plymouth MAC way back at the beginning of December!!

It was incredibly busy when we went in, Plymouth was having some kind of Christmas shopping festival so the whole place was packed. Unfortunately for us, one of the staff at MAC had called in sick, so we weren't going to be able to have our makeovers done simultaneously as planned. However, we weren't in any rush and were more than happy to sit and chat while the lovely ladies did their best to attend to us and everyone else at the same time.

I hadn't been sure what I wanted to go for in a makeover, but settled for getting some tips on how to utilise some of my lesser used colours and just generally get a bit of a boost. I went for dark dramatic eyes, and a nude lip in the end, using Contrast which is a colour I love but just never really know what to do with.


Greasepaint stick in Black
Eyeshadow in Contrast
Brow set in Show Off
Studio Fix Mascara
Studio Sculpt in NC15
Moisturecover Concealer in NW20
Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Light/Medium
Blush in Cubic
Lipstick in Viva Glam II
Cremesheen gloss in Boy Bait

A close up of my eyes
I love how the Contrast goes a gorgeous denimy blue over the Greasepaint Stick, which is, by the way, a fabulous product, especially for the waterline! I also fell in love with the coloured Brow Set - I had been using an Eyebrow pencil and the clear Brow Set up until then, but the coloured stuff just makes life so much easier! 
A shocking discovery for me was that the reason I have not been getting on with the Mineralize Skinfinish Natural up until now is that Light is too pale for me.... apparently my skin is getting somewhat darker. Light/Medium works absolutely perfectly on my skin. Who'd have thunk it? NW20 concealer under my eyes as well - despite my 'omigod that is orange' thoughts (which I did tactfully vocalise to the MUA) it actually works. Colour is a mystery to me! 
I pondered my lipstick choice for ages. I have been questing for the perfect nude lipstick for years. I have many nudes but I have never felt that any of them are just right. Viva Glam II is perfect. As my friend put it, it's like my lips, but polished. 
The MUAs were so sweet and lovely, and were really having to juggle so much with us and other customers, so a massive thanks to them for not simply cancelling on us!! They were so grateful we'd not hassled them and had been so chilled that they gave us a lipstick each free to say thankyou - we were a little taken aback, we'd been more than happy having a catch up together while they worked on us and around us! I chose Hang Up, which is a dark plummy red colour (my faves) but is a Cremesheen texture, which are slightly sheer and soft, so it will work for day or night. 

I ended up spending a lot of money.... oops! 
It was a lovely day, and so so nice to be pampered!! One final photo for you - I promised a picture of my gorgeous new jumper dress, and here it is:
It is by Calvin Klein Jeans and was purchased on a whim in TKMaxx for a slightly bargainous £49.99. It is very very warm and I absolutely adore it, whether paired with opaque black leggings, leopard print leggings or crocheted tights.

Happy New Year!!

I hope you all celebrated in style last night - I certainly did!! We held a cocktail party at our house, with the OH doing his star turn as mixologist. We saw the New Year in with a glass of bubbly and a play of Auld Lang Syne as performed by Die Toten Hosen.

As you can see from the photo, I have a new hair cut! I took the bold decision when I went to my wonderful hairdresser on Wednesday. I haven't had a fringe for 20 years, so it is taking a bit of getting used to!

The funniest moments of the party were heralded by an overenthusiastic Frenchman, House of Pain and the demise of the glass uplighter in our living room. Cue my hoovering at 12.30 and an impromptu mime rendition of Queen's "I want to Break Free".

New Look skirt, Burleska corset, French Connection top, fishnet hold ups from Debenhams, Long Tall Sally shoes, Pia pearls

Here's to a fabulous 2011!!


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