Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Holly and Polish Skyfall Giveaway!

Holly and Polish are giving away the entire James Bond for OPI collection, yes you read that right, all 12 polishes in the OPI Holiday 2012 Skyfall Collection are up for grabs!! I love the look of pretty much all of these polishes, it is a truly universal and amazing collection!!

Top row L-R: Golden Eye, The Spy Who Loved Me, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, You Only Live Twice, Skyfall. Bottom row L-R: Moonraker, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Living Daylights, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Live and Let Die, The World is Not Enough.

You can see some swatches on Vampy Varnish and The PolishAholic. I think my favourites are The World is Not Enough, Live and Let Die and Casino Royale.

This giveaway is open to international readers as well, so head over there and check it out!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


I was always a bit sceptical about jeggings. I have loads of pairs of leggings that I wear with skirts all the time, but jeggings seemed somewhat alien. Not quite a jean, not quite a legging. What are they?

Well that was until I decided that I'd love a new pair of skinny jeans. Trouble is, even though I have lovely long slim legs, they aren't slim enough and are too long for most high street retailers. Long Tall Sally have 1 pair of black skinnies in their range, but they are very expensive, and I just don't have that kind of money right now.

Eden Ultra Soft Jegging
So when I read on another blog that Dorothy Perkins were still making a very limited range of clothing for tall women and that included some lovely soft but good thickness jeggings, I jumped at the chance to own a pair. On closer examination the jeggings revealed themselves to have jean like detailing at the waistband, which unlike many other jeggings, were not ruched. Best news yet? Only £23.

So... not knowing what size I would be (can you tell how long it is since I bought trousers!) I ordered a 16 and a 14, hoping that one would fit. I'm glad I didn't trust the Dorothy Perkins online size chart, because comparing my measurements to that put me in a size 16, and when they arrived this morning the size 14 fitted like a dream. So much so that I immediately ordered a second pair (for some reason the DPs site isn't charging me for international delivery which is even better)!

I've been wearing them today with my long grey LTS jumper I've had for years and they are supremely comfortable. And suprisingly warm! The weather has been pretty cold today in Vienna, foggy too, and walking from my class to the train my legs didn't feel cold at all.

I think these are the first trousers I have bought since Autumn/Winter 2010 (and they were work trousers), and the first jeans I have bought since Christmas 2009. I love them! I feel really different wearing them than when I wear skirts, and I think they will do well with both long tops and regular tops. They aren't obviously jeggings either, the detailing is really good, and they look as good with heels as they do tucked into my boots.

A must buy I think, for easy dressing, whether casual or dressy.

Eden Ultra Soft Jeggings, available from www.dorothyperkins.co.uk

Will try and get some outfit posts up over the next few days!

First thoughts: House of Gold and Bones Part 1

 The new Stone Sour album House of Gold and Bones Part 1 is out now. A couple of tracks ('Gone Sovereign' and 'Absolute Zero') have been available for a few weeks, and anyone who was at one of Corey Taylor's solo accoustic performances over the summer will have heard the fabulous 'Taciturn'.

The album opens with Gone Sovereign, a strong track heavy with guitar solo, catchy lyrics and punch. I am really looking forward to seeing this track played live as it has a really punchy rhythm and I am sure it will be a real crowd pleaser. This vibe continues strongly throughout the entire album, with carefully placed slower, more accousic tracks such as 'The Travelers Pt. 1' and the aforementioned 'Taciturn'.

I'm still listening obssessively to really get underneath the songs, and if I feel like it I will come back with a fuller review at some point. My first overwhelming impressions of this album are that it is dirtier, deeper, and punchier than anything that precedes it. It has some of the grit and determination of Stone Sour, combined with the catchier hooks of Audio Secrecy underlined by a stronger and more prominent rhythm section.

House of Gold and Bones Part 1 marks a more mature sound I think, more refined and polished, but with the feeling of being stripped down and without pretension. I am definitely looking forward to hearing some of the tracks from the album played live when I see Stone Sour in Vienna at the end of November.

House of Gold and Bones Part 1 is available from the usual online retailers and all good record stores. Go buy it! 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Weekword: Element

OK so sorry this is late, I drafted it and forgot to schedule it!

Occassionally I like to play along with some of the blog round robins that go on, but truthfully I forget about them a lot!

This week though, the lovely Sally at Sew and Sow was the host of Weekword and picked the word ELEMENT.

This seemed like an opportune moment to join in, because my upcoming trip to the Netherlands/Belgium next month is very much focussed around Elements... the Within Temptation concert in Antwerp that is!

This concert will be pretty awesome I think, and for me extra special because I get to share it with 2 of my favourite people; my Mum and The Beard. As soon as the gig was announced the Beard said we had to go, no question, as I didn't get to see WT at Nova Rock due to the weather.

The show, on 13/11/12, is called Elements, and will celebrate 15 years of Within Temptation. The concert will feature a live orchestra, and special guest stars. Within Temptation have done this kind of concert before, with Java Island in Amsterdam and The Black Symphony in Rotterdam, but this is promising to be bigger and better than before!

The band are keeping very tight lipped on what the Elements theme is all about, and while they are doing some try out gigs before the main event, I suspect they will just be standard gigs without all the frippery that the Elements concert will have.

You can find out more about the concert (I think there are still tickets available) on Within Temptation's website, or on the Facebook page for the gig.

Monday, 8 October 2012

New season, new hair

I've been a bit bored with my hair for a while now. Well, I reach the point where my hair really needs dyeing but I'm still a week away from the six week interval and I start to convince myself that my hair is crap. I kind of miss the fringe I used to have as well.

Up until now I've had The Beard to talk me out of rash decisions. He was at work this morning.

This is the result.

I'm quite nifty with the scissors aren't I?

Thing is, it now makes the rest of my hair look really scraggly as it hasn't been cut for 6 months. So I need to either go to a hairdresser, or put my hair in the hands of The Beard and get him to trim my ends. 

I will more than likely end up just growing it out, but it will be fun while it lasts. Also, it looks a little Elvira-esque, but that will be good for Halloween....

Oh, and look how awesome my skin looks in that photo! MAC Pro Longwear Foundation is pretty darn awesome! 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Currently listening to: Breed 77

Breed 77 are a London based band from Gibraltar. Their Wikipedia page describes them as "a fusion of alternative metal and flamenco". There are quite a few North African influences as well, and all the band's albums are bilingual English and Spanish.

I first got into Breed 77 when their second album Cultura was released - but the band have been around a lot longer than that. I think we'd not long had the Kerrang channel as part of our cable package and the video for 'La Ultima Hora' was playing on repeat all the time. Something about the track really appealed to and I was pretty much instantly hooked.

The band played in Exeter in July 2004 on their album release tour, and it cemented was has become a teeny bit of an obsession with the band!

This photo is from that gig, with Paul Isola and Stuart Cavilla.

With the impending release of their third album, In My Blood (En Mi Sangre), the band toured the UK with an album preview tour. Again they landed in Exeter and I of course got tickets! The album release was put back to September, after which they came back to Exeter to play yet another gig (supported this time by the pretty awesome i-def-i who sadly disbanded in 2008). It was at this gig that I bumped into a couple of old mates from school, who told me that the drummer currently with Breed 77 was the percussionist from the school orchestra when I first joined, the guy who my Mum remembers from the school concert in the cathedral for his drumming and percussion skills. He is that good. So that was kinda cool. The gig was absolutely amazing as usual, they always played in the Cavern in Exeter which is so tiny but so so amazing.

They then released Un Ecuentro, a Spanish language album in 2008, which featured songs from all three previous albums sung in Spanish (and at least one song which is in Spanish on Cultura is in English). Despite not being able to understand any of the songs, they sound somehow even more beautiful in Spanish.

Their fifth album Insects, was released in 2009 and is a bit heavier and less flamenco than previous albums. There is probably more of the North Africa influences on this album, and it is a lot more politically motivated, with songs like 'Wake Up' and title track 'Insects'. The album also features the band's slightly reworked cover of The Cranberries' 'Zombie' which had been a staple at live gigs for quite a while as an anti war statement.

I haven't seen Breed 77 play live since 2006. I've not been able to get to any of their gigs since then, which is a real shame. When I saw that they were playing in Vienna in December I didn't hesitate to buy a ticket!

Why do I like Breed 77? I think it is their strong rhythmic foundations. As a flamenco/metal band there is a lot of emphasis on the rhythm section and strong Latin beats. I've always been a bit of a sucker for Spanish guitar and rhythm and Breed 77 offer both things in a neat little package. With, of course, the heavier bass and guitars typical of metal outfits. When they play live there are some fantastic percussion breakdowns and the atmosphere is always electric!

Check out some of these videos, and then think about checking them out live. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wardrobe Basics: Jumpers and Coats

Following on from last week's wardrobe basics post on tops, this week is the turn of jumpers and coats.

Everyone needs a coat at some point in their life, be it to keep warm when outside, or to add the finishing touch to an evening outfit. Jumpers are a bit less 'must have', as it will largely depend on the climate where you live and how warm you personally run as to whether you will consider them a necessary part of your wardrobe. Nevertheless, jumpers is where I'm going to start.

So, 'jumper' covers a whole spectrum of styles, from cardigans to roll necks. One thing to consider with all of them is what they are made of. As lovely as wool is, if you have an allergy to it or it makes you itch, it will never be fun to wear. Stick to viscose or cotton knits that can replicate the feel of good wool without the itch factor. If you do want to wear wool, look for soft knits and silk weave wools that don't have exposed hairs. I think it is quite difficult to buy jumpers online, I need to be able to touch them and try them on. Also, the washing instructions are really, really important to observe with wool, so bear that in mind when buying jumpers - wool often requires hand washing!!

via Polyvore

Jumpers cover pullovers and cardigans. Cardigans do not have to be the frumpy clothing choice of your grandmother; they can be chic, stylish and sexy. The key is getting the correct cut and style for your body shape. I like cropped cardigans that drape nicely over vests and t-shirts. I'm tall so I have to be careful that the sleeves are long enough, otherwise they end up looking like I accidentally washed my clothes in a hot wash, and I never ever wear cropped cardigans with short trousers! Look for interesting details on cardigans to ensure that they don't become too boring. Cardigans, particularly bolero types, are very useful for evening wear as an alternative to a jacket.

Speaking of which, even if you don't need a coat or jacket for practical reasons (i.e. keeping warm), they do really finish an outfit off. The key is getting the right sort for the the right outfit. I'd say at the very minimum a dressy jacket and something more casual is essential.

A dress jacket will typically be something in a lighter fabric, possibly more decorative. It may or may not offer anything useful in terms of protection from the elements or the cold, but it will look nice! I personally have a lovely short fitted jacket made from velvet with a massive drape collar and a hook and eye fastening. It isn't warm in the slightest. But it looks great!

Here are a few jackets that fit the bill for evening/dress wear.

via Polyvore

For day, leather is the perfect solution. It is pretty warm, especially when layered up (I've been wearing my leather jacket every day but it is still a bit too warm), it is hard wearing, and most importantly of course, it looks tough! Leather coats come in a variety of styles, so pick one that suits you and your lifestyle. Leather can be expensive, but it is an investment. The right leather jacket will serve you well and will last a long long time.

via Polyvore

Finally coats. For those of us in climates where the weather can hover around 0 degrees, a warm, woollen coat is almost a requirement (I did one winter without one and I survived but it wasn't that pleasant!). There are loads of different styles, so there will be something out there to suit you. My personal preference is single breasted, button to the neck, medium collar and 3/4 length. I had a full length wool coat a few years ago and it was lovely and swishy (and amazingly gothic) but I always struggled when I went to the pub! Where you do hang a full length coat? So 3/4 length for me is always better, long enough to cover all the joins in my clothing, but not so long that it is a problem when out and about.

Here are a few coats to whet your appetite:

via Polyvore
Again, looking out for unusual detailing can prevent these basic items from being too boring. The good thing about a wool coat is that you can always add fantastic accessories like brooches. But more on that later in the series!

Some of these are quite plain but basics need to be just that, basic. You can dress them up with accessories, or even customise them yourself. Next week I'll be looking at trousers.


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