Thursday, 18 December 2014

Festive Finishing Touches

Sinterklaas, Christmas, New Years; the Wintery season in general, what better chance to spend time snuggled up indoors with your loved ones? It is that time of year when the dusty old board games come out to play, we feast on sickening amounts of hot chocolate and expand our waistlines with our favourite food.

Whether it snows and provides a fluffy playground and excuse to wear three pairs of socks, tucked tight in your wellies, or if relaxing with a festive film is more your scene, Christmas time rules. Whether you have a hand written letter to a loved one, gifted perfume that conjures personal memories together or a hand knitted pair of mittens, giving a little something to a special someone can be a heart warming thing. What better way to make this little token as unique as a snowflake, than to head for your craft supplies and try something a touch different this year, when sealing your parcel with a kiss?!

I've hunted down some glorious inspiration for adding that finishing touch to a package, no matter how big or small. There are so many ideas you could try, whether it is brown paper and string, using paper doilies as gift tags or getting busy with the glitter! You can even use some of these methods of decoration on a Christmas card or letter!

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I've been busy making Christmas cards this season and after having taught myself the basics in crochet, a few weeks ago, I have whipped up a few little trinkets as really simple Christmas decorations to gift to my special peoples!

Are you trying your hand at a home made present this year? Do you have any time saving or truly creative wrapping techniques? Does anyone else find that their sellotape insists on picking up as much hair as possible, as an extra (gross) stocking filler?!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Thinking Out Loud

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So this season will be my first ever Christmas away from my family. I know, I'm a grown up (physically if not fully mentally), but there is still a huge part of me that finds this a harsh reality to face. It is a big part of life, spreading your wings, forging your own path into your unknown future, and this year has seen many an eye opening new chapter. Moving out of home is the exciting part, especially moving in with a partner, but moving countries has proven a whole different story!

I can't believe I've surpassed three seasons here, in my new home. To be honest, I'm patting myself on the back for having held my shhhtuff together during this year! An adventure; yes. Exciting; heck yes. But difficult beyond belief; you betcha. And as the lights on the tree begin to sparkle, the old festive tunes find their way onto the radio stations and the sky settles to that thick white grey blanket, it's this time of year that really hits hard and reminds me how things have changed, what doors have opened before me but also closed at my heel, but mostly how much I miss my family and how wonderful our Christmases have been!

On the flip side of the coin, being away from your usual and familiar surroundings forces you to get some perspective on your world. It makes you appreciate the little things you once took for granted, it brings you closer together as it takes a lot more effort to spend time but it also opens your eyes to new experiences, differing cultures and allows you to broaden your thinking and vision of how the world turns. 

This year will not be about presents and shopping and spending. It will be about spending time with my Dutch family over the holidays and planning the most amazing trip to England in the new year, to spend time with my English family. I've kept myself busy making hand made Christmas cards and tree decorations as a little trinket to post home, and to place on my very own little tree. I will be calling and skyping to no end, not to mention attempting to add a Yorkshire pud here and there with our meals here in Holland!

I spend time this year, rather than pennies. Effort instead of gifts. And plan on making all kinds of new memories whilst combining my two worlds.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with distance during the holidays? Any fun festive ideas to bring people closer despite a physical distance? What are your family plans over this wintery period? If any one has a solitary Christmas in mind, PLEASE don't hesitate to drop me a line or get in touch :)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wrap It Up

Let's embrace this cold weather together and as the last of the autumnal leaves fall from it's winding branch, grab your warmest garb and wrap up tight, in style!

As a lover of layers, this time of year never bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of being chilly! But working with a variety of textures and shades, fixing up a weather suited out fit isn't really that big of a deal. Especially with what's on offer this season!

I have selected a few of my favourite 'out door wear' looks to give a little inspiration for those fearing the freeze!

Fashionistas Frenzie:

Bold silhouettes, simple colour ways, fine detailing and dressed up or down with ease!

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Femme Fatale:

Sweet hues, swirling skirts, figure enhancing cut, work with what you got!

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Check It Out:

Where pattern and texture unite, contrast or compliment your colours, a little check goes a long way!

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For those of us with an old faithful, hidden at the back of the wardrobe, or perhaps we're saving a few pennies here and there, why not try a little home trickery to spruce up a worn and loved coat, giving you a fresh look for the coming season?!

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Taking your coats or jackets for a good dry clean, really is worth the extra effort as this simple task can breathe life into a garment that may have seen better days.

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Another clever and cheaptastic idea is to change up your existing buttons for a complete set of newbies. You can buy buttons from most haberdashery market stalls/ shops/ online or you could hit the charity shops looking out for whatever catches your eye and upcycle a few. This is such a quick and easy way to give your favourite piece a whole new appeal.

You could add a belt to cinch in the waist, embellish a jacket with embroidery or lace or even just by pushing or turning up the sleeves you can achieve a very different out come. Next step is to add your winter woollies and you're good to go, ready for whatever frosty frights might come our way!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Thing Of Beauty

Wonderfully curious beings of the internet, I wanted to share a little treasure with you.

Since moving to the Netherlands and taking on this grand adventure, I have grown to love this place, taken steps towards broadening my little world and have adapted and developed in a ton of ways, but one thing that will remain a constant struggle is missing my family and peoples back in the UK. One thing I continue to busy myself with is finding ways to stay connected to those I miss, and although it takes a lot of effort on both sides, things begin to find a pattern and routine and become fun, rather than a hole in my daily thinkings.

My parents are particularly good at making me feel super special, even from this distance, and one particular moment occurred a few days ago. Following a pretty cruddy couple days I decided to venture out to the city on a solo mission to explore a little and cheer myself up in the process, and my oh my what did I stumble across? A huge book store! A spent a ridiculous amount of time wandering around (which you indeed can very well do, guilt free, when you're alone!), I was in my element. Shelves upon shelves on wonderment and promise, welcoming me amongst their midst!

After losing time hidden within the classics I was given strict instructions from the parentals, via a pleasant but brief phone call, that I was not to leave the book shop without treating myself to a brand shiny new novel AND that I was to park my butt in the store's coffee shop and enjoy something delicious with a page or two of my latest find. My folks are the best!

This, dear friends, is the little gift I chose for myself!

"If it weren't I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old! For that - for that - I would give everything!"

The Picture of Dorian Gray written around 1890 by Oscar Wilde. This classic novel tells of a mysterious young and beautiful Dorian Gray, and his life of excess and corruption. Full of secrecy and scandal, I couldn't be more excited to sink my teeth into this notorious piece of writing, a story which is well known by most but has sat on my 'to read' list since forever. Until now, that is.

This book caused huge out rage and controversy when it was first published, due to it's uninhibited content and the issues it covers. A gothic piece of writing that has staying the passing of time, has been used and referred to in countless other productions and can we please take a moment to appreciate this particular copy, which ironically so, was what caught my attention initially!

This fine edition, in all it's leather bound glory, boasts a stunning front and back cover, a satin ribbon book mark, marbled end papers and perhaps the most distinctive feature, it's green stained edging! Friends, I am in love! This will make a beautiful addition to my beloved book shelf and having devoured the opening chapter, I look forward to falling into this story and escaping into the tale of this most notorious Victorian libertine, in all it's saucy mystery!

What simple gesture can put a smile on your face? Is there something that cheers you up, a little treat for yourself or a kind moment exchanged with a beloved?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Setting The Scene For Halloween!

Welcome boys and girls of this world and beyond, to a spectacularly spooky feast of all things wickedly wonderful, in preparation for a weekend of ghosts and ghouls! For on this very Friday eve of all things hallowed, we celebrate the frightfully fiendish and totally milk the opportunity to eat sweets all evening... So lock your windows and doors, check under your bed and be sure to grab your pillow (or teddy bear) to hide behind because kids, you're in for a bumpy ride!!

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Friday evening I'm certain to be having a heavy dose of nightmares after watching the 2013 remake of the classic horror Evil Dead. Don't ask me why I'm doing this to myself (and Rich!), for I have absolutely no idea, but I'm a sucker for a fast paced, pant wettingly jumpy, watch it with the lights on horror flick! 

Another fantastic remake I highly recommend is the vengeful tale of Carrie, a well known movie adaptation of the bloody novel by Stephen King (a great read!), with this 2013 version starring the wonderful Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore as her crazy ass mother.

If you were hoping for something a little less blood thirsty, how about this brilliant cinematic number by the majestically bananas Tim Burton, FRANKENWEENIE! This is a beautiful piece of film made using a traditional stop motion technique, and the most detailed and typically Burton style puppets. It is a really sweet story and clever take on the original Frankenstein concept with some deliciously deranged characters! Take a look over here! for a puppetry featurette.

A Halloween special would never be the same if I did not indulge and mention my top films for a fright (or simply just because!), movies I have seen an uncountable amount of times and still love: Hocus PocusPractical MagicThe Craft and The Faculty! Long live the 90s!!

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There is some brilliant stuff on tv at the moment, and my top picks just happen to be of the spine tingling variety! Gothic literary tales, beautifully intricate costumes, historical and gory to the bone; it can only be Penny Dreadful.

Fan girls and sci-fi geeks unite, or those that are here for the eye candy alone; let's share our love for the epically cheesy yet seriously addictive Supernatural (this trailer is for season 1 since I couldn't bring myself to watch the season 10 trailer for fear of spoilers... I'm THAT sad). This is one of those shows that I will watch and rewatch, the characters are brilliantly flawed and incredibly honest about it, the humour and wit is continuous despite the creepy content and my are these boys pretty!

For the more mature amongst us, Hannibal is a gripping series crammed full of intelligent story lines, unfathomable characters- some with a rather choice appetite... This programme will keep you guessing the whole way through, have you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more. One for a Netflix marathon weekend!

And if I hadn't mentioned it enough in other posts (sorry y'all), American Horror Story seems ideal for such an occasion, especially as the latest season has just begun, and if you thought the other 3 weren't gruesome and freakish enough, well you're in for a real treat! Oh, and if you aren't a fan of clowns, this might be one to skip!!

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The one thing that annoys me about Halloween is that you have this marvellous opportunity to go all out on a witty costume, hand stitching something together that is both hilarious and clever and yet into the party walks 6 slutty vampires, 11 scantily clad 'cats', 4 pirate ho's, a Wonder Woman that has more power in her cleavage busting corset than her lasso and 63 Elsas (ladies, let it go... I couldn't help myself). How about a little thought people!! Here to help are a wisely selected few that get my approval;

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And for my absolute favourite look...

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Feast your eyes on these devilishly delicious goodies!

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To top off this wickedly wonderful weekend why not pick up a gothic tale to raise shivers on the back of your neck or a classic ghost story fit to frighten even the bravest souls? My suggestions for a chilling read are as follows; the latest instalment of THE Vampire Chronicles, yes that's right, the master of Vampires is back, the one and only Anne Rice delivers number 11 in the chronicles, Prince Lestat! Only released into bookshops this week, what perfect timing to dive back into the gloriously divine world of that very naughty vamp Lestat?!

Also worthy of a read is the thrilling novel Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson. This is a chilling twister of a tale following the traumatic awakening of Christine, who starts each day not knowing who she or anyone around her is, and her frantic chase to discover hidden memories before all is forgotten for good.

And of course, on the top of my 'to be read before the movie hits the big screen' list is a book by Joe Hill called Horns, revealing a seriously messed up 'morning after the night before' for poor Ignatius... This charming yet sinister character just happens to be played in the movie by Mr Daniel Radcliffe.

Now if you aren't ready for a hellish good time this Halloween, I don't know what else to suggest! ; )
What are you guys up to in the name of all things scary?! Do you alter your reading around this time of year, gearing towards a terrifying tale? Or do you have any top tips on sprucing up our interiors to really set the scene?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Spine Tingling

That old expression to never judge a book by it's cover is worth it's weight in gold as advice on life in general, but when it comes to actually judging the quality and appeal of a book... Heck no!

I mean don't get me wrong, the story itself, the ability for the writing style to carry you off to another time and place, poetic phrasing that makes you stop in your tracks and reassess your own little world, okay okay, that is what makes a great book. But there is no denying the pure attraction of a stunning cover.

One beaut of a crowning glory is that belonging to the UK edition of The Bone Clocks written by David Mitchell.

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Not only was this novel shortlisted for the Book Manner Prize 2014, with a story packed full of mystery and intrigue, just look at it's work of art front cover! This colourful paperback leapt off the shelf at me, as I was mindlessly browsing the WHSmith specials at Birmingham International Airport. The beautiful, bright pink detailing is textured against the smooth cover and the intricate illustrations popped against the depth of black background. For a summary of the tale and further details and reviews, head over here, where you can pick up a copy. Or, if you're even more of a go big or go home kind of chap, then you must check out the Special Edition blue edged pages just for Foyles!

Now, when talking of stand out covers with picturesque spines that sit beautifully a top your prized book shelf, then it would be silly to not mention this stunning collection of classics, with reworked covers all for the Penguin Drop Caps series! Each of the 26 much loved books, boasts a specifically commissioned cover with assigned letter, by type designer extraordinaire Jessica Hische.

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From penguins to puffins, allow me to introduce to you another bold display of sheer childhood dreams and whimsy; this delightful group of classic children's books in the Puffin Chalk collection, wonderfully designed by Dana Tanamachi - Williams of Tanamachi Studio, for Puffin Books. Using inspirations from the adventure driven stories, these playful covers really capture the essence of nostalgic tales of flight and fancy! Check out Tanamachi Studio website for more images of the covers, including the detailing that even makes the back of the book a sight to behold.

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What could be treasured more, than a favourite book wrapped up in a dreamy cover, singing sweetly from your shelved collection of beloved reads?!

What is your favourite out standing cover or eye catching spine? Do you know of any special editions or wonderfully designed collections that I should keep a look out for?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

From Gemma To Gemma

Being the nosey individual that I am, when I spotted a 'getting to know me' tag post on the beautiful wordsmith Gemma's blog The Perfectionist Pen, I settled in with a drink and obligatory sweet treat, to delve deeper into her world.  You can find the post here, and learn more about the literary dearheart or if you're new to the blog, well what a fantastic way to begin your journey!

I found myself nodding along to almost all of Gemma's facts, we are freakishly similar! And her answers to the 11 questions were really insightful. Much to my surprise and delight, I was tagged to complete Gem's provided questions and boy what a creative bunch they are! I was incredibly flattered to be considered for this, but since I have done the 'Liebster Award' bit before, I thought I would let the gorgeous blogs also mentioned in the post enjoy the full tag, and I would just bend the rules slightly and make it more of a general post ; ) So, to the questions!

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1. If you could invite any three writers, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you choose?

I think I would have to say Anne Rice and Jane Austin, for being down right bad ass biatches in their own ways. However different, I love both of their work and hold them in high ranking as true legends. To shake this dinner party up a little I would give my third golden ticket to the naughty and somewhat disturbing Chuck Palahniuk. My oh my what conversations we would have!

2. If you could be transported into any book, which one would you pick and why?

I feel that I (and probably every sane brain) would go straight for the majestic Hogwarts, but trying to think outside the box a little, I will go for The Princess Bride, as I do love a bit of adventure!

3.What is your favourite book cover?

Now this is a tricky one! To name a couple; I have a beautiful, hard back copy of Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann that is pink with black flocking detail, I think it is the VMC Designer Collection. I'm not going to lie, I purchased the book purely on it's cover... I have no shame. I also love the stunning artwork for The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, with it's moody, paint washed blue and luna phases allowing a glimpse of the painting underneath (I have been trying to find out what the painting beneath, actually is, alas to no avail. If anyone knows then please put me out of my google search based misery). This is also the next book I intend to read!

4. Who, or what, inspires you most?

Pretty much everything inspires me. People mostly. I love hearing peoples stories, or people watching and guessing their story! I find inspiration in the regular creative places like art, film, music, theatre, literature but also from fresh air and moments alone, getting a little lost in my tangled thoughts. So, a little of everything, if you are looking closely enough!

5. Do you mostly read books or ebooks?

Right now I am mostly reading on my kindle, due to a lack of space (I have been kindly given a shelf... that's right, A shelf), so for now I use my trusty ereader and treat myself to a real book if it's a special one. But once we're sorted with a place of our own I will be shipping over my treasures from England!

6. When it comes to film adaptations of books, do you like to read the book first or watch the film?

Book first, every time.

7. Is there a book that everyone seems to love but you dislike?

Well. John Green is incredibly popular right now, and although I really enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars, I couldn't get into Looking For Alaska. This book is often spoken about with high regard and seems to be a big favourite of many a book tuber, but I really didn't get what the hype was all about. Sorry Johno.

8. What is your favourite childhood book?

I love this question because my affinity with reading stems from childhood. Much like now, I just couldn't get enough! My all time loves are; all of the Peter Rabbit stories by Beatrix Potter, oh how I love those beautiful little illustrations that really bring the stories to life. I also adored Judy Blume and of course Roald Dahl! Which I still enjoy reading as an adult : )

9. What is your most treasured possession?

I'll let you in on a secret. I am ridiculously sentimental and overly emotional, meaning I get attached to things oh so easily! I'm the kind of crazy that could make a rock a pet... For this reason I treasure anything with a sentimental connection to family and friends. An old jumper I stole from my brother. Handwritten notes from Rich. Ticket stubs from a day out with my folks. Childhood teddy bears (obvs). I even still have sea shells I collected when I must have been about 5... These are all my treasures.

10. If money were no object, what country/ place would you like to visit and why?

Oh I enjoy travelling! Who doesn't like discovering the beauty in a new place?! If money were no object I'd go everywhere! I'm greedy like that. On my list currently stands Hawaii, Switzerland, Canada and North Europe (Norway, Sweden etc), but first up will be an epic road trip across the States where Rich and I will be eating our way through America, (hopefully next year!) and the glorious hillsides of Austria. Whilst further exploring more of the Netherlands and visiting my family in England.

11. What's your favourite part of blogging?

Since leaving the wardrobe department at Birmingham Royal Ballet, with all it's dramatic and theatrical whimsies, my life was lacking a certain creative element that I seem to be lost without, so having this wonderfully indulgent platform on which to share thoughts and ideas and crafty revelations is the perfect solution! I think I would still do this even if I was shouting into a void of readerless depths. I just enjoy the entire process of thinking up posts, creating content, editing etc. Also it is a fantastic keep sake for someone with the worst memory going! But, the most rewarding part is having a doorway to a whole community of like minded creatives. Through blogging I found not only oodles of fantastic reading material and an endless supply of inspiration but I've made some extraordinarily brilliant acquaintances!

Thank you sincerely for the questions Gemma, I hope my answers suffice! If anyone else would like to do this as a tag then I insist you go for it, use these questions, make up your own, or get in touch and I'll think up a few for you! Make sure to leave a link below so I can read your answers : )