Friday, 31 January 2014

What A Purl!

Trans seasonal fashion. A tricky one to master!! The unpredictable weather, the drops and rises in temperature, dressing comfortably and still looking nice is a hard one for me. I'm a bit of a 'throw on a big old jumper and leg it to the car' kind of girl, but I'm always on the look out for any tips or ideas to make life easier. I am by no means a follower of fashion, I don't believe in wearing trends for trends sake and I don't like being told how to dress, but I sure can appreciate when something catches my eye.

Taking inspiration from people you walk past or images you stumble upon is a fun way for me to gather ideas without panic buying things I probably wouldn't wear. And here are a few ladies that hit the right note for me, when it comes to working the drizzle of January;

Being the grandma that I am, I can't get enough of knitting right now, and taking the 'make it yourself' maverick approach to as much as I can these days, I decided to try my hands at a little piece that could fit nicely into a regular wardrobe, but brighten up an over cast day without looking like a snowman! Presenting to you wonderful people, my first knitted head band!

This was a really nice piece to make, I stuck with a simple repetitive pattern and just made up the design as I went along. It was so straight forward to knit that I could even watch American Horror Story without getting distracted and dropping a stitch!

This one in particular I made for a friend as a Christmas gift, but have also recently completed a grey cable knit one for myself and am working on a vintage inspired dark green number. It used up a small amount of wool, meaning I had tons left over, with which I played around and created some tiny knitted bows to put on hair slides as another gift. The design options with these beauties are endless, you really don't even need to buy a pattern, you can tailor the size, colour or stitches to suit yourself. With a short amount of time and with some basic knitting know how, you can produce some really lovely accessories to accompany your mid season outfits AND have something that nobody else will own.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Velveteen Queen

Having become somewhat of a baking snob over the years, I lost faith in the boxed ready to bake cakes and muffins. With the exception of messy kitchen time with my three little cousins, I stopped trying the easy to use mixes, opting for the more 'from scratch' method of baking. Especially as there are so many deliciously inviting cook books and mouth watering baking blogs that lay out the specifics step by step, making the process of creating your favourite treats as easy as can be.

However dear friends, I must admit, after waltzing down the aisles of my local food store a little beauty caught my eye. I am not afraid to say that it was the packaging that did it for me, I most certainly am a book cover judging Judy, give me a sassy looking dessert laid out in kitschy retro fashion and I'm yours! Which is exactly what happened when I found the Betty Crocker Red Velvet cake mix!

I snatched this off the shelf and threw it into my basket, with the Cream Cheese Style Icing like the glorious cherry on top!

This tasty little parcel has almost everything you need to whip up the sexiest dessert in all the land. Your additional ingredients are 3 eggs, 65ml of vegetable oil, 205ml of water and a couple of nicely greased cake tins. Throw everything into a bowl or your mixer and whisk for several minutes (I put the pedal to the metal and let my mixer do its thing for about 5 minutes... Just to be sure!) Divide the cake mix into your two tins and pop them in your preheated oven at 180*/ gas mark 4 for about 24 minutes.

Behold!!! The colour of the mixture got me rather excited. I was tempted to drop in a little red food colouring to amp up the volume but decided against it, I did though, sprinkle in a couple drops of vanilla essence, you know, just because.

After the guided time, once the cakes were baked to optimum loveliness I left them to cool then layered them up with the frosting. I will say one thing, the smell of the frosting as it comes out of the tin was a little plastic-y for my liking, but upon tasting I totally forgot about my sense of smell, and just wanted to shovel it in my mouth.

Needless to say this went down a treat with my friends and family, as there is one measly piece left and I only baked it a couple days ago!

Okay okay, I am converted to at least try more of these handy ready mixed boxes, this one in particular was a real hit, so simple to put together and looked and most importantly tasted very very nice. I think I will hunt down a recipe to make a red velvet cake from scratch, just to compare, but I won't be as quick to discard these packaged ones in the future.

Since my birthday is juuuuust around the corner, cakes are on my mind! What to make myself, what to make? I welcome any ideas of new things to try.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Into The Wild

Chaps, I'm noticing a little spring in my step this week. Despite the growing collection of lists that seem to be taking over my life, despite a troubled sleeping pattern, despite the showering rain clouds lurking just across the horizon... Is it me or is there a little freshness in the air? I find myself lying in bed during the early hours, just listening to the morning chorus right outside my window. The spindly branches of the cold forgotten trees are looking rather nourished and appear to be stretching up to the beautiful sunlight breaking through the fluffy tufts in the sky. And the bright blue blanket above offering the most elegant of sunsets as the day departs.

I'm thinking of trips and adventures. That ritual of throwing your belongings into the car, travel playlists and munchies, fields ripping by as the sunlight bounces of gentle puddles. I have a particular trip in mind right now, and you know what? I think I'll share it with you!

Last summer, the boyfriend and I embarked on our very first camping holiday together- oh wait, please let me rephrase that... Our very first GLAMPING holiday together. Oh yes my friends, we threw out the rule book that summer, discarded our tent and pegs and set sail for the luscious grounds that fall on the border of England and Wales, known locally as Big Bear Lodge.

Big Bear Lodge offers accommodation within their beautifully arranged luxury B&B, caravan and tent fields and of course the wonderfully unusual pods. The family that run this haven are so friendly as we were greeted upon arrival and shown to our humble abode.

The cosy 'wine barrels' were spotless and despite appearing rather sparse in space we comfortably fit our double air bed, suitcase AND a table and chairs, still with plenty of room! These gorgeous cabin type pods are situated on the grounds, opposite the guest house and shower facilities and face a horizon of green. Fields in every direction, the pods are framed by huge towering trees and winding country lanes. There were even goats, chickens and a donkey on site!

Big Bear Lodge provide the perfect hide away, whether it's a restful retreat you're after or an action packed weekend, this place fits the bill. They offer a jam packed list of sports for the thrill seekers, including guided canoeing and are even part of 'Beyond Extreme' a leading paragliding centre. But if, like us, you were hoping for a more subdued visit, they are located amongst some beautiful countryside, sleepy villages and even within reach of Powis Castle, one of the National Trusts most precious gems! We certainly didn't run out of things to do or see, and managed to squash in plenty of time to take in the view, and of course... Enjoy a BBQ or two!

Amongst feeding our faces, plentiful lazy time and our sight seeing round the castle, we also visited Wroxeter, the site where a Roman city once stood (the fourth largest city in Roman Britain) and we stumbled upon the most beautiful of old churches in Melverley known as St Peter's. There is something quietening and mindful about walking around the crumbling grounds of an old church, the thick foreboding beams withholding years and years of weathering distress, the still yard surrounding it, clutching it closely.

We took one last little meandering turn, on our journey home, to stop by the town of Shrewsbury, to refuel and stretch our legs. Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire and a historic market town which still holds its gloriously medieval appearance along many of its windy lanes, timber framed buildings, cobbled roads and has a scattering of monuments celebrating times gone by. Hiding throughout the many shops and restaurants we found cute boutiques and independent shops as well as a fantastic coffee shop called Eat Up.

We had such a brilliant time staying here and exploring the land around that we genuinely can't wait to go back and visit this year! Have you ever stayed in a pod before, visited any of these treasures or do you have any local gems worth checking out on our next road trip?

Frame For Frame

I have come to realise that I am not a natural photographer. Don't get me wrong, I love taking pictures, at any possible opportunity really, and really really enjoy looking back on them- you never know what you may have captured in the moment. Unfortunately though, from taking part in this photography challenge I can't help but look back upon my collection of snaps, with a little disappointment.  Now, obviously, we are all our own biggest judge and critique from ones self is usually rather hard and some what sobering, but seriously though… I thought I would have done a little better than this!

Now please forgive my negativity, I by no means wish to put you off this post! Feel free to have a nosey at what struck a chord with me day to day and pulled my attention enough to inspire these next five photographs. I will, however, be using this realisation and rather unsatisfying gathering as a real big kick up the back side! I know I complain often about having to use my old phone for the shots- well, frankly that is besides the point. Many people use what resources they have and still create an explosion of visual excitement through a captured image, and this now becomes my aim.

I intend to think more thoroughly, to explore outside my usual realm of wanderings and to try new different looks and to use this self given criticism productively. There are two more posts for this challenge on their way, one of which the pictures have already been taken, the last post however I may cheat a little and scratch the first couple from the last few days and start them again, using this new found enthusiasm, and lets just see what happens!

16. A good habit
// Fruitful life //

17. Technology
// Making long distance less of a distance //

18. Your shoes
// A little glitter goes a long way //

19. Something you want
// A simple request //

20. Inside your bag
// Small fragments of ones life //

So these are my humble offerings for days 16 to 20, until the next deliverance…

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Whimsical Allure

Every once in a while you stumble across something really special, something that truly inspires. For me that happened a while ago, when I discovered Whim Online Magazine, and fell madly in love!

Whim started out life as a blog based in Australia, about a year ago, but thanks to its ever creative content and diverse array of contributors the fantastical blog has developed into one of the most popular online magazines floating around the internet.

Besides its almost daily offerings of up and coming artists, photographers, stylists and more artistic individuals, Whim also publish seasonal issues, featuring relevant and imagination capturing fashion shoots, creative writing, music reviews and all manner of beautiful input from all across the world.

// image //

// image //

// image //

// image //

// image //

// image //

I can't help but be pulled into the soft focus beauty and high impact imagery, instantly recognisable a style that Whim have adopted. Every featuring artist has been selectively chosen for the inspiring elements of their work, whether it is a beauty shoot featuring a glitter-laden mermaid or a pencil drawing of a mysterious character; imagery is everything.

Their pinterest page delivers hours upon hours of fantasy and escape, sourcing powerful collections of worldly treasures, drawing you into a place of gentle hues and fluid motion. I can lose myself altogether amongst this gathering of beauty, a particular favourite board to visit is the Escape board. Here are just a few of the finds hiding there:

Besides the storybook type atmosphere, Whim also enjoy some delightfully fun pieces in the form of cute nail art and wonderfully out- there beauty features. As a gal that opts for the more natural look from within the depths of my make- up bag, it satisfies the drama hungry starlet inside to live vicariously through the pages of Whim! Let me share a few Pinterest beauties with you:

When you find yourself in need of exploring the unique and delicate realm of inspiring art, then look no further than Whim Online Magazine. There are many ways to enjoy Whim, their blog, through Pinterest, even instagram or facebook, however you choose to dive in, I guarantee you will come out the other end of the looking glass inspired and in awe. If you can't get enough of this blog from down under, they are even offering a chance to help support their work by running over to etsy and buying an issue of their Special Edition zine for a glorious steal of £1.07//$1.95 AUS.

Like walking through a dream or falling down the rabbit hole.

// image //

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Looking Back

Here in lies the next instalment of my 30 Day Photography Challenge, and I intend to let the pictures do the talking.

11. Something blue
// There is a song for you //

12. Sunset
// Vanilla sky //

13. Can't live without
// Inhale, exhale //

14. Eyes
// Fall in //

15. Silhouette
// Odile, standing tall //

Here's to a weekend of thinking, reflection and consideration. Maybe a few photographs here and there.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Next Chapter

This post has been sitting in the back (front, side, centre…) of my mind for quite some time now. A real honest to goodness personal post, no frills or glitter, just little old me and my manic thoughts on where I'm at… You know, with life. I think I've been putting myself off writing this. Writing it means putting it all under a magnifying glass, recording it in black and white, that some how makes it all very real. And that's the confusing part, isn't real what we strive for? Crave? Something substantial amongst the daily nothings that gets force fed us. But for me, real is a bit scary, because real means taking my head out of the sand and actually seeing whats in front of me, it means working damn hard, it means change- or more, adapting to change (since change is an unavoidable part of daily life).

Change is something I should be very good at by now. I moved three and a half hours away from my family home to go to university, I toured for weeks at a time with the ballet, working in theatre there was never a contract or structure meaning work would vary from month to month. Surely it is in my nature to thrive on the changing environment around me? There have been some pretty significant changes to my life over the last few years, some huge and some significant yet not so noticeable to the untrained eye. The biggie coming up, is moving to live with my boyfriend. We have been together a couple of years now and have maintained a long distance relationship pretty darn well, but who wants to live miles away from their loved one? Did I mention this long distance was between my home in England and his in Holland? Being two way-too sensible, control freaks, we put whimsical romance to one side and had a sort of trial period of living together. Neither of us do well with spontaneity or throwing caution to the wind, so a well planned trip was what we prescribed. I quit my job last summer and moved to the Netherlands for three months, to get a feel for the country, to see if I could get a grasp on the language and to basically see if I could make this place my home. All in all I am really proud with how it went, which has obviously brought us to this next phase, planning and actually moving- and all the consequences and implications, hurdles and opportunities this brings.

There is so much about this I want to share with you. Perhaps too much for one post. Maybe this was the reason I started the blog, not just to involve myself in a creative project, but to record this hugely life changing chapter, the ups and the downs (I feel dizzy just thinking about it!). But there is one thing in particular that has been occupying my mind, stealing my sleep and generally haunting me lately, it's a feeling of guilt. The hardest part in moving isn't the physical move, it isn't even learning a new language or starting from scratch with work, it's leaving my family and the thought of missing them. I have had so much support from some of you guys already, on the subject of missing families, and there is a huge comfort in knowing it can be done and that I'm not totally alone in thinking this way. It's just hard to shake the thought that I won't be down the road from them, and although it really isn't the other end of the earth, it's the anticipation of missing them that is really hard to deal with. Also, the guilt that I'm leaving. That my parents won't have me near by. Man, that ones a bitter pill to swallow. Don't get me wrong, my folks are wonderfully supportive, they're driving me over to Holland with a car full of my stuff, and spending a few days all of us together. They want me to do the things that make me happy, wherever that takes me. But that niggling feeling of selfishness is sitting there, taunting me. Perhaps once I move, with everyone involved, with all that will be going on, the feeling will be put in a more reasonable place, easier to deal with? I hope to build a happy life and enjoy how lucky I am to have two families, two places to call home and I hope we can get some kind of routine there. That it becomes normal to skype and arrange visits back and forth, between my life there.

Who knows what is around the corner? Maybe this move could bring my family even closer, despite the physical distance. It forces you to be organised and to make a huge effort with contact. That's what everyone has been telling me is the key, keep the communication there.

For now, I have the mammoth task of organising what to take (and how to squash it all into the back of a mini… Hilarity posts to come), sorting out important things such as insurance, passports, bank accounts (eeeeek!) and emotionally trying to wrap my head around the entire situation. Having Rich to keep me calm is the biggest help, I think he is prepared for some major freak-outs, so far so good ; ) Also, having the end goal as something to focus on, the fact that I will actually get to live with him, we can actually spend real time together and start a life together. Having a fantastic family here for support and in Holland, is proving incredibly valuable too. So no more storing these thoughts away to torture myself with, I think some constructive posts might prove a better solution. If you guys have any magical cures for worrying or any suggestions that might help my EXCITING yet nerve wracking journey, then share away!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Picture This

Round two of the 30 Day Photography Challenge, brings the last 5 day's pictures. I hate admitting that something as simple as taking ONE photograph a day, is actually proving a challenge to remember! How embarrassing is that! I have taken to leaving the page in my note book open on my desk, to prompt myself to register the memory! Dear oh dear.

I present you, with much self nagging, my days 6-10, images:

6. Obsession
// Haberdashery… Buttons and beads and bright coloured thread, oh my //

7. Changes to come
// Seasons, watching the gradual changes from winter to spring //

8. Routine
// Lists, lists, lists. Study. Notes. //

9. Someone you love
// School photograph of my mother, my parents in their youth //

10. Childhood memories
// Holidays to the seaside, so many memories //

Despite my slow start with remembering to do it, I am enjoying this challenge. Its nice to think of these things that make up my life, simple everyday happenings, all little pieces of the puzzle.