Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Tough Love // Costume meets Fashion #2

If you know me at all then you'll already be aware of my netflix addiction, so naturally when Marvel released their latest instalment of super hero goodness via that beautiful streaming high way, I was set and ready to go. For a comic book nerd I knew surprisingly little about this particular character but boy was I intrigued, and the more I watch the more I likey!

If you like your super heros perfectly flawed, kick butt bad ass with a heavy dose of sarcasm then Jessica Jones is for you. Episode by episode we learn more about her strengths and weaknesses, back story and fellow intricate characters, all the while served with a fist full of attitude!

While you add this action packed show to your list, feel free to take a moment and enjoy the dark and grungy style of our leading character! Smudgy eye liner, heaps of distressed leather and a mane as black as her wit is sharp, this is one seriously wearable style; car flipping and whiskey drinking optional.

Jessica Jones wears: Warehouse

Jessica Jones wears: H&M

Jessica Jones wears: C&A

Are you a fan of the show already or are you more of a Downton dolly? What is your general style when it comes to viewing content? I love a bit of everything, hence my addiction, but am always on the look out for suggestions!

From super strength to super kook, check out my last character profile, merging costume with fashion, of Zooey Deschanel's Jess from Who's That Girl.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Pedal to the Metal // Introducing my new toy!

Since lusting over this little beauty sitting pretty on the shelves at John Lewis, I sprang at the opportunity to snatch myself one as a 'welcome' gift when subscribing to my favourite crafty magazine Simply Sewing. Like I needed an excuse to add this wee speed machine to my studio...

As a motivational boost and a self indulgent treat, I see this cute John Lewis Mini sewing machine (made by Janome) as the perfect way to kick start a fresh new year of creating handmade goodies. The colour alone brightens up my sewing desk and the light weight, petite shape makes it ideal for practical use whilst not taking up too much space (and could easily work as a portable machine, if you work on a freelance basis)!

It has a handful of basic functions, everything needed for most of the sewing projects I tend to work with but this little guy can always be upgraded for tougher, thicker fabrics simply by swapping out the needle it came with, for a heavy weight contender. Like wise with various foot attachments, I will be doing a bit of research to see what I can rustle up in this department!

With three clear, light bobbin reels you can get started immediately. I am super intrigued to take this baby out for a spin. The threading system is slightly different to my usual domestic machine, but theres nothing like a little diversity to excite things.

Super sweet and a bargain at that, I am already on the hunt for my first project! There are quite a few options in the first issue of the year of Simply Sewing magazine and as usual my pinterest page is full to the brim with ideas. I will keep you posted on how I find the functions and general use of this guy, I've heard pretty great things from reviews so it has a lot to live up to!

Be sure to let me know of any exciting makes on your list, any new studio pieces you may have added to your stash or if you've bought anything handmade recently. Supporting small businesses and locally crafted goods is super important these days and of course, provides you with incredibly special and unique products! What's not to love!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Pile Em Up // My Favourite Reads of 2015

Golly what a fab year for reading it was! I really got stuck in these last twelve months and was lucky enough to enjoy many of the novels that crossed my path. I'm pretty happy I made the time for my 'to read' list and managed to drag myself away from my dearest Netflix long enough to devour a good number of them. While that is great for my literary motivation, it sure didn't help when compiling this list! There were many I couldn't quite squish onto this post (if you're interested feel free to check out my goodreads page for all the details!), and as indecisive as ever, they are in no particular order, that would hurt many a books feelings, right? So let's just dive on in!

10. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel 4*

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. If civilisation was lost, what would you preserve and how far would you go to protect it?

From what is essentially a post apocalyptic 'what if' story, I found it such an original plot! I loved the entwining elements that run throughout, I enjoyed the pacing the whole way through and the focus on various characters as their individual stories merged into a whole. For me, this book provoked many thoughts and reflections over priorities and relevance when looking at life from a greater height. Highly recommend for anyone interested in a wonderfully modern and unique take on a classic 'end of the world' dynamic.

9. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 4*

Set against Iceland's stark landscape in 1829, Hannah Kent brings vivid life to the true story of Agnes, a young woman sent to an isolated farm to await her execution on the charge of the brutal murder of her former master.

Soft, enchanting, gentle paced story full of intrigue and emotion. Cleverly led and delicately delivered, I was captured by this touching story and felt submerged into this cold and desolate world.

8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 4*

In the year 2044 reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies hidden within this virtual world! The race is on and if Wade is going to survive, he'll have to win and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

If you're ready for some serious fun, peppered with a hearty dose of 80's pop culture and ultra nerdy action, then this book is for you! Fast paced, original story, a touch on the lengthy side but all in all I had a heck of a time reading this!

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 4*

Horror hides behind an attractive face in Oscar Wilde's notorious 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. A scandalous tale of a Victorian libertine and his life of evil excesses. Though Dorian's hedonistic indulgences leave no blemish on his ageless features, the painted portrait imbued with his soul proves a living catalogue of corruption. A landmark of literature today and tale emblematic of it's time.

This book was magnificent and everything I was hoping for in Victorian gothic literature! I truly love this story with it's gruesome happenings and heavy moral undertones but had it not been written in Wilde's beautiful hand, then I am not so sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much. Oscar Wilde's writing is sumptuous, enveloping and indulgent and I was swept away on a tide of beauty. Full to the brim with delicious descriptions and pompous yet wonderful characters, I plead with you to pick this classic number up!

6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling 5*

As a fully grown adult I am finally finding time in my life to read these beauties, I may very well be the last human on earth who has yet to consume Hogwarts and all it's inhabitants, but I'ma making my way through the series and am loving them. Well duh. I won't bother adding a synopsis here, since I'm quite sure most people know the story by now, but I will say that this is one of my favourite books of Harry, so far! Loved the characters, loved the tense build up and love love love this entire world.

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 5*

Twenty five years after surviving the mass murder of her family, testifying against her Satan worshipping brother and losing touch with society, Libby Day hopes to turn a profit from her tragic history, leading her to The Kill Club. Working together with this group of grisly crime groupies, she digs up dirt on her past and discovers an unimaginable truth, forcing her to face the killer once more.

Flynn knocks the ball way out of the park, once again, with this tightly wound thrill wide of a novel. From the first page I was pulled into this dark, twisted world of loss, deception and forgotten hope. A genuinely enthralling and totally original story that follows the now pitiful, hollow life of main character Libby Day, as she looks back and unfolds the story and mystery of her painful past, in order to clear the pathway for her future.

A book full of shadow and sadness, murder and corruption. Highly recommend to anyone in search of a perfectly written, unique tale that will grip you right to the very end.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett 5*

Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver. Following the unlikely friendship of women from two very different walks of life, in the face of out dated, awful norms of society, who push the boundaries of kindness.

What a beautiful, heart wrenching and delicately honest book. I went into this one already knowing much of the story, having watched the film a few years ago, but even so I devoured every page. Each chapter of the book reads personally, tailored to the voice of each individual character, offering perspective and insight.

Although this is wonderfully written fiction, it speaks volumes of how ignorant and misinformed people really were, some to such an awful degree. I challenge anyone from any background to read this book cover to cover without a lump in your throat. I found myself going back and forth from feeling anger and loathing to admiration. Such an important story, with a hard hitting message but offered with humour and warmth. All that for the first novel from this author!

Sincerely recommend.

3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton 5*

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen year old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household but as she uncovers its secrets she realises the escalating dangers that await them all. The miniature replica of their home, that she receives as a wedding gift, holds the key to unlocking her many unanswered questions; but will it be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Set in the hussle and bussle of a thriving Amsterdam in the late 1600s, this story is full of mystery and intrigue, injustice and darkness and a heart felt insight into a lonely and confusing period in history. Whilst reading this book, despite it's weighty size, I felt truly transported. I could almost hear the hectic buzz amongst the worlds busiest port, I could smell the damp old house and felt my heart collapse at several parts of this story.

Enjoyable escape and surprisingly emotional read. One that stirs my thoughts even months after finishing.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir 5*

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. Damaged machinery, starvation, unforgiving environment or plain old human error are all possible ways in which he could die. But Mark is not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills and a gallows sense of humour that proves to be his greatest source of strength- he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

To think I almost avoided this book because of the crazy hype that was surrounding it. Well, it goes without saying that this book surpassed all expectation, despite the build up, and hit the mark big time, for me. I loved it!

This guy is just the type of person you hope for, if stuck in a shitty situation. His life is hanging in the balance, odds are highly against him, yet his larger than life personality, incredible wit and down right lovable character drives this book from beginning to end. Jam packed with all the action and excitement from a lost in space novel, I mean, they couldn't wait to make a movie from it, that says a lot! Hilarious and bizarrely up lifting, a super fantastic book to pick up immediately!

1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl 5*

Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy- the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.

For investigative journalist McGrath, this death, another connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty, is more than just a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, McGrath is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova's eerie, hypnotic world.

What. A. Story. I was gripped the entire way through, felt like I couldn't put the book down and even found myself checking the dark shadows in my bedroom. This book was everything a great, thrilling, horrific mystery book should be. Interlocking characters, freakish dealings with dark powers, paranoid perspectives- all building and winding together creating the sticky web of this awesome tale. This book messes with your mind and pulls you down the rabbit hole, spitting you out at the end of one heck of a ride! I may even go as far as saying, my favourite book of the year!

So there we have it, 2015 top reads. The books I enjoyed that didn't make it to the list can be found on my goodreads page, if you're feeling particularly investigative. Would love to know what your favourite books were and what you are particularly excited to read this year!  I am super pumped for this brand shiny new year, and all the literature that awaits! I wish you all a fantastic new year and that you enjoy those beauties sitting on your shelf waiting to be opened!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Festive Treats

After spending a fantastic weekend in Dusseldorf, eating and drinking my way around the Christmas market, I returned home full of the spirit of Christmas and ready to get my joy on. This rapidly translated into baking something naughty but nice (naturally!), that is both super tasty whilst also quite seasonal!

These meringue goodies are a traditional winter treat in Austria, where they pride themselves on creating some of the lightest, crispest, sweetest confectionery that is almost too pretty to eat! These delicious meringues are not only fairly easy to make at home, they are also incredibly moreish and make wonderful festive gifts either wrapped up as they are or prettied up with a touch of ribbon, to tie and adorn the Christmas tree (as popular in Austria!).

All you need is:
6 egg whites (do your best not to burst the yolks!) and a pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
200g icing sugar (preferably sifted but if you're incredibly lazy like me then maybe, just maybe you can skip this step...)
20g vanilla sugar

sugar sprinkles/ decoration

piping bag & nozzle or free hand it perhaps!
baking tray lined with parchment
mixing bowl
whisk or electric mixer (highly recommend an electric whisk of some kind)

May I also suggest you have a large mixing bowl for this project, as I speak from experience, this baking lark can get a little messy. You have been warned! (I managed to cover my kitchen and pjs in delicious meringue mixture!!)

Whisk (in your large mixing bowl) the egg whites and pinch of salt until you reach stiff peaks of fluffiness. Don't lose heart, this can take a while. The mixture will froth and grow, this is all good in the hood. Once you have desired peaks, add slowly your caster sugar and continue whisking. The mixture should become glossy at this stage!

Carefully fold into your shiny mix, the icing sugar and vanilla sugar, gently goes it, fold until all is mixed nicely together.


Next step can get a little sticky. Have your lined tray at the ready and pop the oven on at 100*. Take your piping bag and attached your nozzle of choice, then fold the top edge of the bag over towards the outside an inch or two (this should help avoid some mess). Carefully spoon your mixture into the piping bag, fold the ends back over and twist the bag until you have a firm grip then begin creating your forms. I went for circular shapes and did this by piping in a tiny circular motion as I made a larger circle. Add your edible decoration!

Pop these lovelies in the oven for anywhere between 1.5 hours to 3 hours, you just need to give them a poke as they bake. You want a crisp outside but not over cooked. Open the oven door every 15 mins or so to let the damp air escape, this is perfect intervals to check your baking progression. When you're happy, take them out and allow them to cool. Try not to eat them all at this point, but of course allow yourself first dibs!

Next step, snip up a few bits of ribbon, tie gently into loops big enough to hang on your tree.

And that's about it! Your finished meringue, festively fun and super sweet!

I applaud you if you manage to keep a lid on that cookie jar after making these... I simply can not stop eating them. Luckily I made extras for such a situation (I know how greedy I can be!). The mixture stretches quite far, I managed to make two full trays worth and still had left over. What I didn't eat with a spoon, I covered with cling film, popped in the fridge and made teeny tiny snow drops the next day... That also didn't last much more than a day! Oh well!

I hope you enjoy giving this a whiz and do let me know how you get on, and if you have any other meringue recipes I should give a go! Wishing you all merriment and joy, full bellies and lots of love!!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Cosy Weekends // Three Top Posts

Life has been pretty busy these last few weeks, busy in a breath taking whirlwind kind of way! I bagged myself a little job and am really challenging myself with this one, relying solely on my current knowledge and skill of the Dutch language and am trying to soak up as much of it as possible with each shift. Having this job should help push my studying to the next level, that is if I don't psych myself out in the mean time (ah me and my self doubting ways).

I have also been crocheting up a storm, creating a few prototypes and mock ups of designs, hoping to have them tried and tested and ready to pop online. Oh and of course I've been distracting myself by crocheting pumpkins and slippers and what not... So naughty!

Over the weekend, besides squeezing in a few much needed strolls through the leaf sodden meadows I've been getting my read on, trying out some new podcast series and had a good old Friday night tv binge!

My favourite posts from the weekend were these three, offering up words of wisdom, motivation and inspiration from some of my most loved blogs:

'Little ways to get yourself motivated for the day' posted by From Roses; this is one to save and re read on those lazy, unproductive mornings.

One Sheepish Girl posted about 'We Are Knitters Signage Sweater Kit'; offering a discounted code when purchasing one of these stunning ready to go kits, so so tempting!

One to truly make you stop and think was 'Reluctant lessons in dealing with terrible people' from Awash With Wonder; this woman just knows how to send a message, all of those thoughts and feelings that swim around our tangled minds are laid beautifully bare in this honest post.

For other updates please feel free to head over to my Faded Windmills facebook page, loaded with pretty visuals and crammed with inspiring bits from the internet, or if you're interested in swapping book recommendations then don't hesitate to check out my Goodreads page. Have a great week, friends, and look forward to catching up soon!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Dig Your Heels In

Well, October really is in full swing, with a brisk chill in the air and the gentle falling of the leaves. Man, I love autumn! Apologies to all those sun worshippers, but gosh darn, there is something special about the turning of a season.

It could, of course, be mostly down to being socially accepted as I bounce around in my 16 layers of clothing... I loves me a cardigan, shirt, vest, tee, slouch scarf combo... And you will rarely see me out of my trusty brown suede Chelsea boots or my oxblood red leather ankle boots, but this time around, I'm ready to spice things up and kick start this brand new month on the right foot! (Oh dear!)

Introducing to you, an alternative choice to stomp around town, skip down the lane or strut your stuff!

Twisted Sister- An edgy yet sophisticated option worn day through till evening, looking super hot here with a tiny turn up on your skinny jeans.

The Dandy- You can't beat a classic silhouette and these beauties really take the shape, comfort and style of long loved favourites and brighten up any crisp October day with a textural and colour renovation!

Whimsical Delight- What a sorry state of affairs if you can't have a little fun with your footwear. Not only are these cute pumps comfortable and chic, they tell a story and sell a mood and I'll take one of each, please!

Alter Ego- Moving on from embroidered whimsy to sheer camp as Christmas. For those moments when you need to make an impact, throw caution to the wind and reach for the brightest lipstick you can find!

From smoking slippers to ribbon tied suede, there really is a lot of joy to be found in a good pair of shoes!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Literary Lists // My September To Be Read

Ahh September! Is it me or does September hold the promise of fresh starts, new projects and a crisp changing season? Oh, and all of that gorgeous 'back to school' stationary up for grabs!!

For me, this shiny new month calls for handwritten letters to my dears, beginning exciting projects of the handmade persuasion and wrapping up in a couple extra layers whilst diving into a great book!

Which leads me nicely into the nature of this here post. I don't usually set myself a monthly 'to be read' as I am very much a creature of mood, especially when it comes to selecting my next novel, but I decided September will be the month to give it a go:

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN13: 9780356500157

Not every gift is a blessing. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. Melanie is a very special girl.

If that doesn't pull you in, I really don't know what will!! A little odd of me to include this in my 'to be read' considering I just finished it, but by now it is the 9th September and it was on my list, so...

Publisher: Alma Books Ltd
ISBN13: 9781847493781

One of Stevenson's most famous and enduring popular works, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde describes the mysterious relationship between a respectable and affable doctor and his brutal associate. Set in the grimy streets of Victorian London, this tale of murder, split personalty and obscure science, with its chilling final revelation, became an instant horror classic when it was first published in 1886 and has enthralled and terrified generations of readers ever since.

I am currently reading this delicious slice of gothic horror and have already fallen in love with this gritty historical setting and can't wait to delve deeper into its mysterious and dark world.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN13: 9781407134611

Okay, this is a book I have chosen purely on recommendation from rave reviews over in the booktube community. It seems an incredibly popular book, which unnerves me a little to say the least, but seems a relatively short and snappy novel, so as curiosity often gets the better of me I intend to find out what all the fuss is about. That being said, I absolutely hate the description on the back of the book and therefore have chosen not to include it here. From what I gather, this story consists of magic, surreal settings, mystery, quest and adventure and naturally a healthy dose of young love (hmmm). Let's find out, shall we!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
ISBN13: 9780307887443

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenager Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself best by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade is going to survive, he'll have to win and confront the real world he has always been so desperate to escape.

The last book on my list for this month, added in to shake up the pile of books and in hopes of creating a varied taste to round up September.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler - perfect for multi-tasking and frigging hilarious to boot!

De Boze Heks is Weer Bezig by Hanna Kraan - my latest Dutch children's book is going down a treat.

Knowing me, this could all change, but hey ho, so is life! What books have risen to the top of your pile for this month? Have you read any of the books on my list? Would love to know your thoughts!