Saturday, 26 January 2013

This Week I...

 ...wore my new Matalan dress with a cosy cardigan (from TK Maxx mens section) and my handy M&S boots - they're a bit ugly really but in the rotten weather they've been really useful!  Obviously I haven't abandoned my pjs either, at least one full day was spent in them ;)

...watched old episodes of The Office and Safety Not Guaranteed.  Awesome movie.  My brother told me this morning that he's finally started watching Parks and Recreation (after a LOT of pestering from me) so I'm excited to have someone else to talk about it with!
 ...also watched Strictly Come Dancing on tour with Mother last night.  I got her tickets to the Glasgow show for Christmas and she asked me to go with her - must admit I didn't totally hate it, considering I usually recoil in horror after five minutes watching the tv show...  I bought the tickets too late to get good seats but we still enjoyed it and clapped and cheered along, especially when the judges came out wearing kilts and tartan in honour of Burns night, haha! One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern, a random Christmas pressie from Mother, which I enjoyed but thought the ending was a bit...easy.  As in, I spent the whole book trying to work out what could connect one hundred people on a list and it ended up being something I needn't have bothered thinking about.  Pfft.
 ...ate some random rolls I got in the Morrisons reduced section one night - one was called Tiger Paw and SHAPED LIKE A TIGER'S PAW!  Yeah I got far too excited about that...  Also some weird looking biscuits I found in Mother's kitchen, more cranberry cheese (I can't stop!) and lots of green tea.  Plus I tested two new KitKats after Kathryn made me aware of them on Twitter and I stalked every shop in town until I found them -  the hazelnut one was ok but the coconut wasn't very coconutty...  It didn't help that I don't really like Nestle chocolate anyway...although I'm still stalking the mint one.
...created lots of lovely hexies and my latest cushion cover!  I even did some knitting on the train to Glasgow last night, my wee needles fitted in my bag better than a magazine :)

How was everyone else's week?


Friday, 25 January 2013

Three Awesome Jessica Chastain Movies

Since I discovered who Jessica Chastain was, I've been looking out for her new movies and watching some of the back catalogue.  With Zero Dark Thirty being released in the UK this week, I thought I'd give you a list of must-see's featuring her lovely talent...
THE HELP - where she plays an over-the-top type character who moves to a new town and is shunned by all the snooty housewives, so she makes friends with her black maid.
THE DEBT - set between the sixties and modern day(ish), her character is an undercover agent, with Helen Mirren playing her older version - totally worth it just for that.
THE TREE OF LIFE - I actually don't remember much about this movie but the photography was excellent and the costumes fab, which is a guaranteed winner in my book.

Has anyone seen these?  Or recommend any others?


Thursday, 24 January 2013

How I store my crafty stuff...

 After the living room switch around the other day, some of my crafting bits and bobs were a bit more accessible, so I thought I'd share how I keep everything organised in a not very big space.  My crafting mostly includes sewing and knitting, which of course just seems to breed materials...  Regular clearouts are key I think!  Above is my main sewing corner, which holds my machine, box of tools and a drawer set with my wool and threads.  This thing is so handy - my mum picked it up in Asda after I moaned for ages about trying to find one the right size.
 My sewing patterns box is from Ikea and is just the right size for patterns.
 I got boxes of thread with my sewing machine (they were doing all kinds of 'free gifts' with it for some reason, I also got a bag and a scissors set) which live in the top drawer, along with the embroidery threads I got last summer to make friendship bracelets with.  I've yet to start that...
 The middle two shelves are wool and the bottom is a pile of old knitting patterns and spare needles (mostly pinched from Mother over the years...).
 My sewing fabric is kept in a crate style box behind the couch - I don't sew very much now so I got rid of a lot of fabrics and only kept what I intend to use in the next year or so.  The elephants were a recent acquisition but I bought less than I meant to (only 1.5 metres) so I need to think of something to turn it into... any ideas?
 My Cath Kidston needle roll was a gift from Mother a few years ago.  It lives in my gran's old knitting bag, which is looking a bit tatty these days, but I totally love it, the fabric is perfect :)
Inside the sewing box (another old Christmas pressie from Mother!) is all the wee fiddly bits - ribbons, buttons, elastic, hooks and eyes, press studs, safety pins, scissors and more threads.  And my mini pliers, which must have paid for themselves about ten times over by now, they're so handy!

What's in your crafty stash?  Do you like to keep things organized or work around the clutter?


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

How to make a super easy cushion cover

I have here a super easy craft for using up some spare fabric and a spare half hour.  And a spare cushion, if you happen to have one floating around.  I got my cushion in the charity shop for 5p last week, and the purple gingham has been in my stash for years.  All you'll need besides this is some thread and a sewing machine, although you could do it by hand if you have way more patience than me!  The final result is a simple envelope style cover which you can decorate or leave plain.  
1 - First, lay your cushion on the fabric and wrap it round so it overlaps - my cushion measures 16x16 inches and the fabric 40x20, with the overlap being about 8 inches, but you can use your own judgement here.  Either side of my cushion had about 2 inches seam allowance as well.

2 - Once cut to the right size, lay your fabric out flat (right side down) and turn in either end by about half an inch - I usually press it at this point to make life easier.
3 - Turn it in again and stitch along the edge of the turn line.

4 - With gingham this is gloriously easy and you end up with a nice line!
5 - Wrap the fabric round your cushion again (wrong side up) then slide the cushion out the side.  This will help you get the sizing right for sewing the ends together.

6 - Straighten out the fabric and pin the two ends - normally I don't bother with pinning but it helps keep things right in this case.
7 - Stitch along the two open edges, trim off any excess fabric and threads then turn the cover right side out.  You can press the sewn edges here if you want a slightly neater finish.

8 - I added a bow from my stash to one of the corners of mine - best done before you put the cushion in if you don't want to accidentally sew them together... (ahem, never happened to me of course!)
Insert your cushion and voila!  One pretty new cushion cover.  As you can tell I decided to add the bow after taking the picture...  I've been using this technique for years and it's pretty much foolproof, especially if you don't like faffing with zips and buttonholes.  Plus it's easy to get the covers on and off for washing.  And of course it awesomely quick and cheap if you have the right materials lying around!  You could even make a bow, frill or pocket in the same or co-ordinating fabric to make things more interesting.

Has anyone tried this method before?  Or planning to?


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Staying warm...

Jumper - Topman
Thermal top - M&S mens (here in cream)
Leggings - Topshop tall (here)
Boots - Converse 
Sometimes I just want to curl up inside and watch tv with my knitting.  So that's exactly what I'll be doing today.  Here's my Sunday outfit - I got dressed around noon for the sole purpose of going to Lidl to buy some baked goods and maybe some junk food.  They didn't have my favourite bread ready but I got some rolls, a pretzel and a chocolate croissant, one of the best things ever.  I'm slightly going off the pretzels though - I don't eat much salt anyway so they're just a bit much for one sitting...  

Predictably I was wearing my new favourite jacket, tights under my leggings and thermals under my jumper - it may only be a five minute walk but my hood was up and I had a quick march on, it was freezing!
What's your winter essentials?  I can't believe I only discovered thermals this year, I can't stop wearing them now!


Monday, 21 January 2013

Challenge 4...

This weeks challenge only happened yesterday, even though I'd been planning and putting it off all week, but whatever, it's done now!  

Challenge 4 - Rearrange some furniture.
My living room has been bugging me for a while.  Most of the furniture in it isn't mine because this room actually came with furniture when I started renting - always a downside I reckon, mostly because I'm really fussy and also like SPACE.  Plus the not-very-effective radiator is in a stupid position under a draughty window behind the couch, and the tv is wall mounted, so there's only so much I could do...but I decided to give it a try anyway.
Here's the before pic of both sides of the room.  The bookcase and tv bench are mine, and both were where I wanted them to be, so this side of the room pretty much stayed the same.  As you can see the couch is in a handy position for hiding crafty stuff behind, but not much else... (it's also mega uncomfortable, think I need one of those plastic tray things that go under the cushions to make them more stable...everyone knows what I mean right?!)  
So the front of the room is mostly unchanged, but in the back I angled the couch to make the radiator more exposed and set up my folding table for sewing stuff until I can find a desk I like (again, I'm being far too fussy over this.)  I moved the side drawers to the other end of the couch and stuck my mannequin next to the sewing table, although I think it'll be donated to my friend who's desperate for one, since I don't really use it any more.  There's also a super annoying set of drawers next to the green chair, if you can see that...  Another thing I don't need in there but I have nowhere else to put them right now.  I'm not thrilled with the overall effect but it gives me a little space for sewing - once I find a desk I may look at shifting things again.  I did also manage to tidy up after taking the pics, the thing about having the sofa to myself is it just gets cluttered with my knitting and laptop, oops!

(Last week Sarah spent a day in pjs - not through choice unfortunately!  See how she got on here.)


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Faff Favourites...

I'm afraid the only pictures I've taken this week were featured in yesterdays post...  Apparently staying indoors or floating between the gym and work don't make for very exciting viewing... so please enjoy this picture taken somewhere near Aberdeen from a trip to see my friend a few years ago - I think she said it's actually the name of a farm and that the sign got stolen so many times they had to solder it on in the end haha!


Some of the best Tina Fey and Amy Poehler moments from the Golden Globes - wish I could have watched it, the winners were as predictable as ever but I love these two!

8 Signs Your Inner Child is Winning - oh god these are all true.... (although I never go grocery shopping with the intention of being a responsible adult)

Explaining the 2013 Best Picture Nominees to my Mother - sounds about right...except my mum has decided she quite likes Bradley Cooper ;)

Fund the Life of Your Dreams - cause ya'll know I'm all about the money saving

A POMPOM BOOKMARK!!! - cause I'm also all about the pompoms

Sarah always takes gorgeous pictures but these ones on the beach are my favourites so far!


Saturday, 19 January 2013

This Week I...

Coat - Matalan (mens)
Cardigan - Topshop tall
Dress - Debenhams
Boots - M&S
Scarf - M&S
...wore my super cosy new coat every time I left the house.  It's awesome, I don't even feel the cold when I'm wearing it!  (just realised they have it on the website in yellow - it's rather hideous ;))  I also had three days off in a row and wore pyjamas on two of them, I know how to party.

...watched That 70s Show.  All week.  And Inglorious Basterds again.  Cause it's awesome and the girl is a projectionist like I was.  Guaranteed way to get me to like a movie.  I also caught up on The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother and Up All Night.  Whilst wearing my pjs of course.

eating the almost last of my xmas sweets at work --- scarf in progress! --- catching up on 30 Rock with my fave things - bagels and bed more Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.  It was slow going at first but I've gotten more into it now and I'm quite enjoying the ride, although all the ridiculous character names means I actually need to concentrate on it.  Which means I fall asleep reading a lot more than usual.

...purchased nothing but food until yesterday when I went into the pound shop looking for something and came out with some parcel tape and a pad of graph paper (for knitting patterns!).  I'm being a poor person this month, however I made some money on eBay and got a cheque for cubs supplies I bought last month.  So really I'm up from last week ;)

...created half of my Downton Abbey scarf and about four hexies - I'm almost getting the hang of knitting in the round, although my colour work on the scarf came out a little tight at some points, more practice needed!  I've also ran more than usual this week so I guess you could say I've been (re)creating leg muscles...

...ate lots of bagels and Lurpak, finished my Christmas cheese (boo!) and most of the good Christmas sweets, and took a mad craving for tattie scones when I saw them in Tesco the other night.  Finally realised the truth of the phrase 'never go shopping when you're hungry' - I also bought a six pack of Diet Coke and I usually drink juice maybe once a month, mad cravings.

How was everyone else's week?


Friday, 18 January 2013

Five films I loved as a kid...

I've decided to start a new movie based feature since I watch so many of them, and more movie chat has been requested a couple of times.  I'm not sure if it's something I'll do every week but Friday seems as good a day as any to start - after all the cinema week starts on a Friday because of the release schedule, so Friday Films it is!  This week is a dedication to all those video tapes I wore out as a kid - not including the Disney ones, because they were certainly watched lots but remain popular now, whereas these ones are maybe slightly more...nostalgic?
My mum's cousin taped this for my brother and I along with Mac and Me (creepy ET knockoff, which I actually preferred...good thing my taste has improved...) and we watched it over and over.  I can still hear the songs in my head, and that scene where they were in the barrels about to go over the waterfall - it still seems scary to me!
Based (rather loosely) on a true story of a girl who dived horses in the 1920s as part of a fairground act.  After an accident she lost her sight, but being a Disney film I'm sure you can guess whether or not she overcame the odds to dive again... ;)  The book was republished a few years ago and makes fascinating reading, find it here if you're interested.  I was so excited to find it back in print after years of searching, and it's good to read about how the story behind the movie actually went down.
I distinctly remember this being on TV at night a few times in the early nineties and my parents watching it while I loitered in the living room doorway, pretending I needed something but really just trying to watch as much as I could.  (I also tried that trick with 'IT' but Mother put a stop to that pretty quickly!)  This kid has three fun dads who rescue her when her mother moves to England to marry a mean, typical 'movie' Englishman (snooty accent, owns a mansion, tries to pack Mary off to boarding school almost as soon as they arrive...villainous).
A sweet coming-of-age type movie set in the 70s - so obviously expect fabby costumes and retro interiors.  Vada is a slightly bratty type kid with an excellent name, Thomas Jay is her loyal companion, who just happens to have some life threatening allergies...  I think this was one my gran also liked - she introduced me to most of my favourite movies and let us stay up late to watch random stuff on late night weekend TV, like The Breakfast Club, Single White Female and Fatal Attraction (I still think of her whenever the infamous 'rabbit scene' is mentioned!).  Also my wee cousin is almost twelve and looks exactly like Anna Chlumsky in this movie, so it's always fun to rewatch.
I saw this for the first time at an old cinema in Blackpool, complete with velvet screen curtains and everything.  It's no coincidence that I eat up costume dramas and love visiting old houses - in my head I'm still playing at being Mary Lennox, orphaned and alone and hiding among the overgrowth in a secret garden.  This is still one of my favourites.  In fact I read the book only about two years ago and was rather disgruntled that Mary's parents actually die of some disease - the earthquake death was way better!

On the UK cinema release schedule this week -
Django Unchained, Monsters Inc 3D, Everyday, The Sessions, V/H/S and The Wee Man

What were your childhood favourites?  Did you share any of mine?


Thursday, 17 January 2013

A post on beauty products...

As I'm sure you've noticed by now, I'm not someone who talks about beauty, ever...  Really just because I know what I like and I don't switch things up very often - I have sensitive skin and heavy flat hair, so when I find products that work I store them in my brain and generally just repurchase when I find them on offer somewhere.  I actually thought I was pretty low maintenance until I started taking pictures for this post - I have so many lotions and potions in reality!
My shower essentials - Aussie hair products and St Ives face wash.  I use either soap or shower gels which I get in abundance every Christmas, I honestly couldn't tell you when I last bought them least two years ago anyway!
I use Clean and Clear moisturizer daily, plus the basics like talc, mascara and my Mason Pearson for the crazy hair.  I love that clean teeth feeling so I use an Oral B Triumph brush, toothpaste for sensitive teeth (mine do not like ice cream), floss and a tongue scraper.  Plus right now I'm testing a peach flavoured Soap and Glory cleanser from my Christmas set - can't say it's very effective at the make up removal but it smells yummy!
On my bedside cabinet - deodorant (has to be Dove!), Lady Million perfume, foot cream (again, not very effective but smells good, like parma violets), hand cream and lip balm.  I couldn't live without hand cream...this one has a Christmas smell, bought from TK Maxx for £1 in the sale last year, bargain!

What's your favourite beauty products?  Anything you can't live without?


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

What your bookshelves say about you...

Despite all my fawning over the library, I do actually own SOME books.  Sometimes I like to just sit down in front of my bookcase and flick through the pages, especially in the ones I haven't gotten around to reading yet.  A while ago I got to thinking about what your bookcase says about you.  Clothing and decor choices both reflect our personalities, but somehow our reading material seems much more personal - who can tell from looking at me that Danny Wallace and Christopher Paolini are among my favourite authors, despite being totally different genres?  That I eat up local history books, especially the ones with old pictures taken in the places I walk by daily?  That I'm more likely to reread a series of books rather than a stand alone novel?

Here's what's on my bedside table right now - my new five year journal (with questions, so I'm not just writing 'went to work, talked about Downton Abbey with my boss and had crisps for lunch' day after day...), my friend's favourite book and my inspiring minimalist book.  And 'The Power of Now', which someone told me to read years ago and I still can't get through...
Part of my non fiction shelf - can you tell I like books about knitting and old cinemas? ;)  The 'Knitted Toys' one was originally my mums, I remember flicking through it as a child and wanting to be good enough to make something from it.  She actually knitted me loads of toys though so I had half the collection anyway!
Books about OMG AMERICA! (one of my favourite places ever), eco living, running, movies, money and M&S.  Seems about right...  And more history books obviously.
My Danny Wallace collection and some well thumbed favourites.  My cousins in America sent me 'Mandy' and 'The Diamond in the Window' yeeears ago and they obviously had good taste because I've read them both countless times.
And the series books - the ones hard to get in a set at the library basically.  Harry Potter, Narnia, Dark Materials, Inheritance cycle and Malory Towers :)  And of course Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling's books.  For when female comedy writing is needed.  Fingers crossed Amy Poehler takes up book writing next...

Has anyone else done a similar post?  Or want to share your essential reads?  I love nosing at other peoples bookshelves!


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Faff Guide to Wardrobe Organization

  After writing yesterday about my super mega clearout, I thought I'd share some wardrobe tidying tips with you.  I'm sure there's tons of these articles already out there so I've just done a quick summary of the way I do things. (The best way.  Obviously.)  Depending on how much stuff you have in your wardrobe, this can take an hour or a day, but the more you do it the less time it takes!

  • First of all, take EVERYTHING out your wardrobe/drawers/shoe cupboard.  This way you'll be less inclined to stuff it all back in after you've seen that nice empty, tidy space.
  • Give inside the storage areas a dust and polish.  Just because.
  • Take each item one at a time and either put it back where it came from (regularly worn items in good condition), toss it in the bin or recycling pile (for charity shops or ebaying) or try it on if you're not sure whether it's still flattering (or ever was...) or relevant to your current style.
  • Don't forget to scrutinize the shoes, belts, scarves and handbags too!

  • Make sure all items you want to keep are in good condition - i.e. mend and iron everything that needs it.  It's probably also worth noting if there's any items that just don't go with anything else you own - are they really worth keeping if they're so hard to style?
  • This logic also works if you have about twenty pretty dresses but live in jeans...
  • Note anything that needs replaced in order of urgency.
  • In the case of any new purchases, go back to the Try Everything On motto before buying ANYTHING.  It's also a good idea to get a bra fit done if you haven't had one in the past year or so - you might find your clothes fit better when wearing a properly sized underwear!  (side note - non VPL underwear is a rather handy thing to own too...)
  • I also like to separate my summer/winter only clothes so they're not getting in the way of the items I can actually wear day to day (although up here cardigans and raincoats are ALWAYS in rotation...).  A storage box under your bed is handy if you're lacking storage space.  But don't store items you never intend to wear again 'just in case'!

Feel free to add your own tips in the comments, I love finding new ways to be efficient and organized! (loser...)


Monday, 14 January 2013

Challenge 3...

(post de-clutter!)
I'm afraid to say, decluttering and organizing and tidying my flat is one of my favourite things to do.  Especially when I do it well and everything is neat and there's lots of lovely space for my other favourite thing, sprawling on the floor with my laptop/book/notepad/knitting.  Oh yeah, I'm incapable of sitting on the couch for extended periods of time.  Anyway, one of the challenges fitted in rather well with my money saving/spring cleaning burst of energy in January, so I did not one thing but all on this challenge...

Challenge 3 - Clear out under your bed/the junk drawer/your wardrobe/that bulging cupboard
Yup, I cleared under my bed (where my shoe boxes live), my junk drawer (where the medicines and notebook stash live), my wardrobe (where the clothes live, obv!) and the bulging cupboard (except mine were drawers.  Totally the same.).  I should point out that my tshirts, pjs and gym clothes live in the drawers, so I do have more clothing than it seems here...  It's good in that everywhere is now tidy, it's bad in that I now have a pile of eBay stuff that I can't face dealing with.  I did manage to get it online, so now it's just about steeling myself for all the wrapping, posting and that one inevitable arse of a person that crops up to moan every time I do a bulk listing.  Yay!

(Last week on the challenge Sarah watched a classic film, see how she got on here!)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Faff Favourites...

This picture is from a few weeks ago, although it seems to have turned frosty again, ick.  I'm hopefully going another explore today anyway, we're just waiting to see what the weather gets up to...  Here's some links to keep you going if it's rubbish outside where you are!

How did I not know how to do these?!  Make a pompom with a fork and some wool and Make a gift bow from a magazine page.

Choosing the Right Goals for the New Year

Sometimes people are not totally shit...

Fuel your creativity by going outside!

I really wanna do this 'happy jar' project I keep seeing all over the internet...

Seems I'm not the only lady who embraces menswear...

This might just be the perfect wedding (coming from someone who generally doesn't like weddings)


Saturday, 12 January 2013

This Week I...

Hoodie - H&M mens
Dress - vintage Dorothy Perkins via charity shop
Shoes - Matalan
 ...wore an outfit without a jacket to go shopping (indoors) with Mother.  As it happened, she bought me a pretty fabby jacket - it has a fur trimmed hood and is very puffy!  And from the mens department, naturally.
 ...watched CITV Old Skool weekend, lots of That 70s Show and The Hobbit 3D, which was very long, very embellished and very boring.  I may or may not have fallen asleep near the start, but only for about ten minutes, so I had to suffer through the whole thing waiting for any glimpse of the hot archer dwarf and hissing to my friend 'where are the goddamn rings?!'  Probably a good thing I couldn't get through the whole book, think it would have made me mad.  Then on Thursday I previewed Les Miserables and it was wonderful, if not quite enough so to knock Phantom of the Opera off my Favourite Movie Ever spot.  But there were some similarities between the two...a lot actually....  And then there was The Impossible.  Never have I been so emotional over a movie before (and I cry at ANYTHING), but it was harrowing and terrible and hopeful from start to finish.  Highly recommended, if only to make you appreciate life that little bit more. 'Get The Life You Really Want' by James Caan (a bit too light to be in-depth enough) and 'The Joy of Less' by Francine Jay, which I've read before but I'm reading it again cause it's super inspiring!  And I've started 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams, as recommended by my friend (who lent me a rather tatty copy so it must be good!).  I can be found on Goodreads now if anyone wants to keep track of my reading progress...
dress and pjs from Matalan
boots from Tesco

...purchased handy black boots, and Mother bought me a dress, some pjs and that awesome jacket in the Matalan sale.  Obviously the pjs were also menswear and may be my new favourite thing - they only had an XL set left so they're big and long enough and super comfy!  I also got two super bargains this week - one being a return train ticket to York in February to see my best friend for £62 (couldn't quite believe it so booked up before I could think twice!) and the second was spending 5p in my favourite charity shop and walking out with an old cushion to re-cover and a Womans Fitness magazine book.  YES.  (They give away the magazines anyway and the 10p table was having a half price sale, clearly I walked in at the right time...)
...ate yet more Christmas sweets and a salt and pepper flavoured baguette from Tesco.  It was like the normal one but with a kick.  I also took a notion for a chicken, lettuce and salsa baguette one night so dinner was good for a few days!  (I've just realised I seem to take pictures of everything but food.  But everyone knows what food looks like right?)  Then yesterday Mother took me to Dobbies where I tried most of the samples in the food hall and got a fabby cherry and coconut scone for my dinner.  Well first dinner, I had second dinner after seeing The Impossible - we went to Burger King, my first trip there in years and I now know why I favour KFC and McDonalds (bland bland bland).

...created another knitted hexie then plotted out a pattern for a knitted scarf - I've decided to take part in The Downton Abbey Knit Along to get my knitting mojo going again!

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