Wednesday, 25 May 2016

All The Small Things // Currently Loving

Visiting: Family back home in England, Nijmegen {spending the day wondering around the awesome fashion concept stores, the beautiful old buildings and enjoying the sunshine reading in the park}, Friesland {yet more exploring of the Netherlands}.

Reading: Historical novel The Book of Fires by Jane BorodaleDutch book on the go right now is Die Again (or Sterf Twee Keer) by Tess Gerritsen.

Consuming: Grapefruit flavoured sparkling water... HEAVEN, copious amounts of Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars!

Sewing: Hand stitched fabric flowers for a wee prototype.

Indulging in: Hotel bathtubs! {We don't have a bath in our apartment, just a boring old shower, so anytime we take a road trip or weekend away I crack out my hoarded Lush supply and spend every spare moment floating in the tub!}

Watching: I lost my heart to the beautiful animated movie Song of the Sea, balled my eyes out at the stunning film The Danish Girl, laughed my ass off whilst watching the fantastic Mr Right starring both Sam Rockwell AND Anna Kendrick, and of course I am a dedicated fan of Ru Paul's Drag Race and seriously can't get enough of the drama, the fashion and the shade!

Buying: Half price wool in varying shades of moody blue with a jumper for yours truly in mind.

Enjoying: Bee Lovely Hand Cream from Neal's Yard is such a divine formula that sinks into your skin immediately and the scent is almost edible!

Wishing you a lovely week and hope that if the weather can't perk itself up that you have a great book to dive into!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

Remember when you were a kid and took such pleasure in whipping up a storm in the kitchen, creating delicious yet humble Rice Crispy Cakes? Well my friends, please let me introduce to you it's pimped up, new and improved second cousin twice removed...

These babies are super simple and mega fast to make and whilst tasting like a dream they don't have to be too naughty (just a little bit!)

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

A simple fridge set chocolatey treat, filled to the brim with peanuts, it's thanks to the not so secret ingredient dates that this scrummy sweet gets it's chewiness and with the slightest hint of salt these bad boys will disappear before your very eyes! Talking of irresistible desserts be sure to try my epic carrot cake recipe, perhaps even better use the mixture to make cupcakes!

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

All you need to do is melt down some chocolate. I brutally deformed a left over Easter Bunny by bashing him into bits, popping it in a large glass bowl on top of a smaller pan a third full with warm water. Don't let the water boil, be patient and let the heat gently melt the good stuff until smooth.

Chop and de seed the dates, these will be delightfully sticky but hang in there, it will be worth the fight! Throw your wee bits of date into the chocolate followed by a barrage of non salted peanuts and mix together, trying not to eat it directly. 

As a final flourish crunch over the mixture a twist of sea salt, mix together once again and add to the vessel of your choosing. I used a shallow oven dish lined with baking paper, if you were a wondrin.

Pop this in the fridge and prepare to be amazed, as within the hour your chocolate treats will be good to go. Slice them into big or small pieces and eat entirely to yourself. I'm kidding, you should at least offer them to your friends and family (ensuring there is a back up tupperwear box full, for your midnight cravings later).

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

Great for a little something sweet during your coffee break, ideal to crack out for guests and even better eaten curled up on the sofa enjoying a good book! Give them a try why don'tcha! You could even jazz up the ingredients adding cherries or marshmallows perhaps... white chocolate... peanut butter... hazelnuts... honeycomb pieces...

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pin Up // DIY Bunting

When it comes to celebrating, whether it's a birthday party, a summer BBQ or simply the arrival of a bit of sunshine, why not add a touch of cheer to the festivities with some hand made bunting?

This super simple DIY allows you to flex your creative muscles with minimal skills and materials required, budget friendly and freshens up a room, window or shelf! I created my very own decorations to spruce up our house for my birthday, but loved the look so much that I have left a couple up!

If you want to have a go yourself, then you will need the following:

- Fabric of choice. There really are no rules with bunting, so treat yourself to whatever takes your fancy or upcycle an old bed sheet or t-shirt even! I used super cheap printed cotton which was incredibly easy to work with.

- Cotton thread in either the same colours as your fabric or try a contrasting shade to amp up the volume!

- Ribbon, tape or bias binding. Something upon which to stitch your mini flags to, again go crazy with the material or colours. I used a basic 2.5cm width ribbon from the local hobby shop.

- Sewing machine or needle and thimble. This is easiest and fasted done on a machine but can be hand stitched easily, if you have the time and patience!

- Basic sewing kit; scissors (fabric and paper), bobbin, tailors chalk, pins, iron, ruler, pencil/ pen and card for a template.

First things first, ensure your fabrics are ironed smooth. Boring part of the job, I know, but essential none the less. Next measure out a basic triangle shape on card, to the desired size for your decorations. Keep in mind the location of your bunting, whether you need nice big shapes to string across the room from corner to corner or perhaps dinky petite forms to hang upon your bookshelf.

Using your template, draw round and cut out your flags until you have an efficient amount to dress your desired room. I'm a pro guesser and generally wing it... Besides, using this tutorial you can quite easily add to your bunting until you have the correct length!

If using a machine, choose a nice wide zig zag stitch and along the two longer edges of your flagging, fold the edge over about 1cm, press lightly with the iron if necessary, and proceed to stitching a line of zig zag along each edge. This is partly functional, to secure the folded back edge, but also decorative, so feel free to choose a complimenting coloured thread for this. If you're kicking it old school and hand stitching the edge, follow the instructions and create a zig zag stitch, keeping the stitch nice and wide will do the trick and speed up the process.

Starting a good 5cm's in, begin attaching your flags inside your ribbon by folding the ribbon edge over and sandwiching your bunting flag inside. A handy trick is to ensure the bottom layer of ribbon is a fraction longer than the front edge that lies on top of the flags. This will help when stitching in place. Again, choose your preferred thread and get your machine ready with a simple straight stitch and begin to stitch your flags in place, leaving a couple of cm's between each flag. Feel free to pin each flag into place, if your fabric allows, this may help to keep things nice and secure as you go along, just remember to remove them as you go!

Snip off any threads, tidy away your sewing supplies, borrow a tall friend and get decorating!

Play around with patterns and colours, try mini bunting or vary the size of your flags or ribbon. You can have a lot of fun with this project and develop your idea as you go. Perhaps you could applique someones name, letter by letter, upon each flag, or spell out C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S... Get creative and bring the cheer for any occasion! 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Fist Full of Glitter // Met Gala 2016

Hurray for Hollywood! I love this time of year, not just because the daylight lasts a little longer and the trees are blossom and blooming but my most treasured fashion event is held in all it's show stopping grandeur- that's right darlings, it's time for the Met Gala Ball!

As is tradition, I'm flinging out a speedy post in honour of my favourite looks from the evening, however hard it is to narrow that list down, oh to rummage through those wardrobes! The dedicated theme to this years shindig was in celebration of the grand opening of the Costume Institutes exhibition: Manus x Machina- Fashion in an Age of Technology at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which features jaw dropping work by the likes of Dior, Chanel and Vuitton, as did the red carpet event itself!

250,000 silk roses and 325 bottles of champagne later, as the glitter settles, let's take a closer look at the gowns that graced the gala.

Nicole Kidman shimmered and sparkled in this spectacular dress and cape from Alexander McQueen, wearing jewellery by Fred Leighton. Honouring all things couture, hitting the right trends (cut outs and milk maid braids), whilst retaining that timeless Kidman grace, this was my favourite look of the night!

The show stopper, was most definitely the glow in the dark Zac Posen dress Claire Danes chose, topped with jewellery by Eva Fehren, for the ultimate Cinderella moment! Besides the incredible light show, just the fine details of the gown itself show true craftsmanship and the soft blue shade was true elegance.

In a striking white Atelier Versace dress, Kate Hudson stands out from the crowd. The silhouette of this dress along with the bold cut out shapes, work perfectly with Hudson's cool and chic persona. Dripping in jewels was the breath taking Poppy Delevingne dressed in the most intricate gown by Marchesa. Such a beautiful array of stones and sequins, following the gentle curves of the gorgeous lady herself, this dress really fits the Manus x Machina aesthetic.

Dolce & Gabbana doing what they do best, make Zoey Deutch a floral princess. The sheer skirt, the dusky colours, teamed with her on point hair, really work together to complete the look. Golden goddess Sienna Miller never disappoints, and certainly in this Gucci number she really makes the grade. I love that she has kept her hair and make up minimal and let her metallic frock do the talking.

Tag teaming on the evening, you have the ever beautiful Emily Blunt and bump working a sparkly blue Michael Kors floor sweeper and The Olsen Twins draped in sumptuous fabrics giving effortless drama and true costume glory.

Striking a pose like a pro Hailey Baldwin works the red carpet in a thigh split Tommy Hilfier dress, cut to perfection with a deliciously dark take on glitz. While Riley Keough dared to bare in Diane von Furstenberg. Simple in form yet the glimmering gown spoke volumes as each shimmer caught the light.

In a Burberry, patterned gown, Naomie Harris looked truly gorgeous. The long sleeves gave elegance, the fitted to fluted skirt offered red carpet drama and her hair and make up just complemented the over all look. Giving regal realness Sofia Sanchez de Betak wore the heck out of this ultimately luxurious Dolce & Gabbana ensemble.

My offerings to you are but the tip of the iceberg, be sure to dive deeper and check out all the sparkle from the Mets most glamorous evening. Before I go, honourable mentions from the Gala go to Blake Lively and her Burberry lovelinessdrool worthy Idris Elba rocking a suit by Tom Ford no less and the cheeky trio Jenna Lyons, Jennifer Konner and Lena Dunham all in stylish J Crew tux with matching specs appeal.

I'd love to hear which red carpet looks were your favourites, what you thought of this years theme and whether you too thought there was enough silver to sink a ship!!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tailor Made // Design Your Own Wardrobe

Amongst a sea of mass produced, identically churned out fashion, those that stand out in their own right are often the folks that adopt a personal style, put together with an exciting mixture of pieces- high street, thrifted or even self made. It is this care free, one of a kind look that allows us to express our own individuality through the use of clothing and creates a fun and practical voice by which we communicate visually.

Creating your very own signature look doesn't have to mean going against the grain of mainstream fashion or shunning brands in order to appear too cool for school, it can simply be how you put an outfit together or dressing for your body over seasonal trends or even, designing an entire piece yourself!

Those naturally gifted with a needle and thread will have no doubt, already adopted hand made pieces into their every day look, but for the creative fellow with lack of time, resources or skills there are some seriously epic ways to amp up the volume and tailor your style to your every fashion need!

The clever clogs over at Gorgeous Couture, offering luxury British fashion, have hit the nail on the head with this immersive website, full to the brim with stunning outfits custom fit to your body measurements at the click of a button. You simply choose the garment you desire, in the colour of your choice, hand over your digits and await a beautifully bespoke item, letting the professionals do the work!

In my opinion, there really isn't an easier, more versatile way to change up an existing outfit into something seriously instagram worthy than by accessorising with some killer jewels. And what better way to do this than by using the incredibly stylish services of Diwah and design your own statement jewellery! You can either buy straight from the Diwah collections (good luck choosing just one item!) or take control, choosing the style, the components and arranging them to suit your every desire, in a seamless online process! Believe me when I say, the website is super fun and provides the best parts of jewellery crafting- minus the fiddly construction! There is so much to choose from that they narrow down their Aladdin's cave of beads and beauties into super stylish themes, such as Tribal, Sea Breeze and Rebel. Once you're happy with your new game changer and the order is placed, you receive not only your jewellery but also a personal note from the jewellery designer that made it for you!

For on the go inspiration check out the Instagram page from Diwah for gorgeous statement necklaces and fresh ideas!

When it comes to designing your own footwear, there really is no alternative option that to pay Shoes of Prey a visit, a sure fire way to put a spring in your step! Following their online guide you can design to your hearts content until you have the pair of your dreams, at a super reasonable price too! From soft buttery suede brogues to your new summer sandals, create your own kicks and transform your look in a hop, skip and a jump!

Finally, for all your customising needs, be sure to check out the wonderful world of Etsy! Most Etsy stores offering handmade articles will no doubt provide a customisation, allowing you to pick and choose, tailoring your wardrobe as you go! Awesome shops such as Tmeprinting will have you sniggering into your coffee at their geek friendly slogan tee's, LEAPprints let you do the talking and will put the sass in your shopping by adding a quote of your choosing to fine cotton canvas totes and why not add an individual touch to a classy boudoir staple and have My Everyday Party sprinkle your name in glitter?!

So what are you waiting for? Flex those design muscles and get busy transforming your look into something more you!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Phrases and Praises // Quarterly Book Review

It's time already for my first quarterly book review of the year (January to March) and I have to say I've read some real diamonds already this year! A great varied selection of books have slid off my shelf and under my nose, including some rather chunky numbers, so I'm really pleased with my diversity lately and have been super lucky with the amount that turned out new favourites! Since it's quite a list, shall we dive right in?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling 5 * {870 pages}

"Leading up to his fifth year attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry's best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer, making Harry desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what he discovers is far more devastating that he could have ever expected..."

How on Earth do you review a Harry Potter book without repeating what has been said a gazillion times before or without spoiling anything for the small tribe of people yet to have enjoyed the novel? Let me then just say that I loved it! I really enjoyed the development of the characters, from the previous books, the story gripped me and was swept along for the ride. If you haven't picked up the Harry Potter series or haven't yet made it to the fifth instalment, what the heck are you waiting for? Get on it! This one was packed with emotion, as the plot thickens and our characters mature, without losing any of it's magical whimsy that makes this series so special.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn 4 * {64 pages}

"On a rainy April morning our unnamed narrator, reading auras at Spiritual Palms, immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the 'psychic' visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realises she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore."

Yes! Gillian Flynn strikes again, with a fast paced, sharp tongued short story. Like other novels by this bodacious author we are introduced to a tangled web of intrigue and mystery, odd and disturbing characters and as we tread delicately along the story, face unease as the pages unfold and the truth is revealed. Then again, what really is the truth? This one will leave you with a sour yet delightfully torturing taste in your mouth.

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed 5 * {160 pages}

"From the best selling author of Wild, a collection of quotes drawn from the wide range of her writings that capture her wisdom, courage and out spoken humour."

The perfect little reminder, perspective giver and thought provoker.

A Dance With Dragons (Part Two): After the Feast: Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin 5 * {560 pages}

"The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance. On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skin changers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all."

Everything I wanted (needed) and more! Packed with beloved characters, full to the brim with action, drama and enlightening discovery, the epic story develops further and satisfies immensely. That is, until you realise there is yet still more to come. My habit needs to be fed; George please get a wiggle on!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 4 * {477 pages}

"Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, 'Americanah' is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today's globalised world."

This book blew my mind in varying ways. It is the first of it's nature for me to have experienced, and in doing so I am hungry for more. I immensely enjoyed being exposed to such sharp honesty and blunt delivery. The subjects and issues raised to light may prickle my skin slightly and leave me wriggling in my seat whilst clutching the pages, yet I could not get enough. Walking a day in someone else's shoes... with bells on. For enlightenment, wisdom and to lift that heavy veil of blissful ignorance, pick up this novel and clear your schedule. You got some reading to do.

The Dream Thieves: Book 2 of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 2.75 - 3 * {439 pages}

"If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take? Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps for himself. One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he's not only one who wants those things."

Right. Ok. Hmmm.

This book has me torn into two equally measured pieces. On one hand I loved the story. Correction- love the story. So much so, That I fully intend to see it out to the end of the series (another two books, I believe). I really enjoy the characters and how they are fleshing out more since the first instalment, I am enjoying the direction in which the overall story is heading and I simply cannot resist the growing relationship between our two main characters (not wanting to give too much away).

Yet man oh man. I have a real problem with how this book is written and it kills me to say so. I am not down for writing negative reviews, especially if it involves me laying into an accomplished author.  I just do not jive well with the style, the language and the general flow of the books. It hits me immediately and is almost strong enough for me to call it a day with the series entirely, if it wasn't for that darn impending love entanglement (which is very much what the entire books are riding on, it seems.) It reads like a high school assignment. There isn't enough flourish, or beauty for my usual preference, no depth or charisma. Just feels a little skinny.

But clearly, since I have made it through two whole books with another two lined up and ready to go, it can't be that bad, or rather has enough positive qualities for me to continue.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 5 * {202 pages}

"Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as it's hero Arthur Kipps, an up and coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle affairs of Mrs Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and most dreadfully- and for Kipps most tragically- The Woman In Black."

Now that was a ghost story! Pure, spine tingling, white knuckled yet elegant gothic story telling. Not in any way horror as we know it today. You won't find any gruesome scenes, any violence or graphic profanity here. This is one for those high of imagination, a lover of Victoriana smog and of grounded sensibility as there are a few hairy moments that will have you hanging off the edge of your chair!

I loved the gentle lay out of the story, the gradual build up of toe curling suspense and the heart felt history of the characters.

Although I read this in Dutch as a way of furthering my language study, I still felt entirely absorbed by the beautiful writing style and the delightfully dramatic wording.  I devoured this book and know already that this will be one that I revisit time and time again.

Room by Emma Donoghue 5 * {401 pages}

"It's Jack's birthday and he's excited about turning five. Jack lives with his ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 11 by 11 feet. He loves watching TV but knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside."

This story will break your heart. Just so you know. But please, I urge you to pick it up and allow yourself to be fully absorbed in this tragic yet beautiful story. It is told in such a clever way from such a fascinating perspective. I thought this book was written with a delicate hand, despite it's heavy subject matter and I believed every word and felt such a compassion towards the characters. I was so swept up with the story that I found myself struggling to put the book down. This story will stay with you for a while.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 3.75 - 4 * {368 pages}

"Wuthering Heights is the tale of two families both joined and riven by love and hate. Cathy is a beautiful and wilful young woman torn between her soft hearted husband and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one Emily Brontë's novel is a stunningly original and shocking exploration of obsessive passion."

Beautiful, heart wrenching, tragic. This story is one great contradiction of emotions and a joy to read. Falling into this landscape whilst reading this novel is inevitable and almost a character in itself, the further I reached into the story the closer the air felt, the heavier the haze of early morning mist, the richer the smells from the moors and beyond. The characters are flawed and at times unbearable, which lends to the complexity of the plot and their dark history and haunting fate fill the pages. Richly written and cleverly manipulated.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown 4 * {405 pages}

"Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year, come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on in her life."

What a complex and superbly clever book!

Despite it's harrowing and somewhat difficult to digest subject matter, this novel was a pleasure to read. Tackling so many heavy issues (high school shooting, life as a teenager, trauma recovery, divorce), should have left a dark and unsavoury feel after reading, yet the clever and heart felt way in which it was written eliminated any harsh after thoughts and left the dense reality coupled with a gentle, human delivery of tragic events and how to move forward in the face of it.

The pace of this novel was just right and leads you as a reader through the horrific experience, whilst balancing the emotion and mood of the story with plentiful back and forth between past events leading up to and a current perspective, making for a full and rounded book. Highly recommend.

An Education by Lynn Barber 4 * {199 pages}

"At 16, Lynn Barker was an ambitious school girl working towards a place at Oxford, when she was picked up at a bus stop by an attractive older man in a sports car. So began a relationship that almost wrecked her life. Barber's fascinating memoir takes us beyond this bizarre episode, revealing how it left her with an abiding mistrust of men which paradoxically led her to a promiscuous life style at university until she met her husband- to -be. An Education tells how she went on to work for seven years at daring (for the times) mens magazine Penthouse before beginning her starry days as the Demon Barber- Britain's most entertaining and most feared interviewer."

Read like a dream! Insightful, wise, hilarious, dramatic and incredibly entertaining.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters 5 * {592 pages}

"Sue Trinder was an orphan left in the care of Mrs Sucksby, as a child, who raised her with unusual tenderness, within her home of petty thieves. One day, the most beloved thief of all, Gentleman, carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the main to Maud Lilly, a naive gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud's vast inheritance. With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways... But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals."

Everything I love in a novel!

Historical drama jam packed with twists and turns. I loved the complex, fully developed characters, each offering a new depth to the story, a highly thought out perspective and a colourful enrichment to the world I had delved into. The setting is deliciously gritty and grimy, thick with detail and so wonderfully described that it played out in my head like an award winning film. The story immensely clever, I was guessing right up to the very last page and loved the delivery of each new turning of the plot. As you read this novel you will find yourself transported! Allow yourself to fall into another lifetime; tread the cobbles of the Dickensian London slums, hear the screeches and wails beyond the walls of a lunatic asylum, enjoy an afternoon stroll throughout the gardens of Mr Lilly's estate or simply watch from the crowd as the hangman prepares the gallows. Read. This. Book.

So there we have it, a pretty good start to the year I think! What has been the best book you've picked up, in the last couple months? Is there anything on your shelf you're super excited to reach for? Have you read any of the books in this list, and what were your thoughts on them? Let's keep our fingers crossed for some nice weather so we can head outside for some sunshine, fresh air and a brand new book!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Random thoughts on a fairly sunny Wednesday...

// image //

* I really should take my make up off at night.

* Why do I spend so much time worrying about what people think, and worse, let those thoughts hold me back?

* What if we all wrote a daily journal for a year and then sent them on to someone on the other side of the world (that spoke a mutual language... ), or swapped with a family member/ friend. How much more we would connect with people, learn to walk in someone else's shoes, appreciate your own life and worry less about small things, be humbled by other perspectives, situations, cultures.

* How cool would it be to have your make up done by one of RuPaul's ladies!

* I should buy flowers more often.

* I wonder if I'll ever live in England again...

* Sure hope these little plants grow. It would be most excellent to eat something home grown!

* Why don't our local blue tits like the bird seed we put out? Picky little buggers!

* I wonder how many people are looking out of a window right now, at this very moment...

* What book should I pick up next? Those thinner ones would bump up my read number but I so want to start Outlander or The Name of the Wind...

* Should I be concerned about Brexit, being a Brit living in a European country other than the UK?

* How much is too much chocolate?

* Note to self, pick up some SPF, that March sunshine really packs a punch!

* Why is it that time feels to be slipping out of my fingers too quickly yet I can never seem to motivate myself to get stuff done? I really am a walking contradiction...