#PaperHaul: The groovy 70s edition!

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The collection in this box screams 70s, doesn’t it? At first, I thought this was all about music, records being a key theme, but on second look I think it’s definitely more about the era of disco (I mean, look at those large glitter ball-esque stickers! They do have a Eurovision vibe to them as well!)

Stickers and washi tape:

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I don’t like these stickers as much as some of the previous boxes’ (but that’s the exciting thing about the boxes- and I always know I can use everything in one way or another!) The records will make good seals for letters, I think and the two large stickers will be useful for something, I’m just not 100% sure what yet! I do like the flowery washi tape though. Floral washi tape is surprisingly useful and is almost a neutral (a bit like fashionistas say leopard print is…)

Postcards

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These are a bit too graphic designer-y for my tastes, but again, I know people who would like to receive them. So at least that means I’ll be sending them, rather than hoarding them! Also, the couple look a bit more 60s, but the rest of the collection is DEFINITELY 70s. Although there was a bit a of flower power hangover, right? (I have no idea. I was born in 1984.)

Cards

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OK, these are fabulous and my favourite part of the box this month. I love them. Good job, #PaperHaul!

Craft paper and mini cards

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This is the flipside of the craft paper as shown in the main photo and the mini cards (no gift tags this month). As you can see, it’s all about wallpaper- these wouldn’t look out of place in one of the flats on Life on Mars…

You can register for #PaperHaul here.

Disclaimer: I get my box at a discounted rate, but my reviews are honest and reflect my own opinions.

Why I’ll never be fashionable- and I’m OK with that.

Earlier on today, I read this piece by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian about that bloody M&S suede skirt. It made me think and I reached an epiphany: I am never going to be fashionable. And do you know what? Despite the fact that I read fashion websites, follow the Twitter accounts of fashionable ladies and read magazines almost obsessively, I have made my peace with that fact.

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (the film that launched a thousand fashionistas)

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (the film that launched a thousand fashionistas)

I’ve been obsessed with Audrey Hepburn since I was a teenager (and before she was trendy and appearing posthumously in creepy chocolate adverts), but I always knew I’d never look like her. Similarly, I’m reading every book I can about Alexander McQueen before I go to the exhibition in a couple of months, but I know I’ll never wear couture.

It’s nothing to do with being a mum- I was never particularly interested even when I had disposable income/a house free of suspicious smears- but I do know that if I bought The Bloody Skirt, it’d have jam smears and highlighter ink on it within seconds of putting it about my person, and those stains would have absolutely nothing to do with D.

As a kid, I grew up in the shell suited 90s and loved my knock-off version of a Global Hypercolour t-shirt. My hair stuck out, in unruly mockery of my mum’s efforts to try and make me look vaguely neat for school (I remember the other kids laughing at a photo I’d had taken in Year 2 because- gasp- my pony tail was more electro-shock than Elnett smooth. I didn’t really give a monkeys, IIRC.)

I never had the confidence, or (I thought) the figure for fashion when I was a teenager. I dressed baggily, or in HUGE flares that I bought from the Corn Exchange in Leeds before it went all gentrified. I wore a t-shirt with the original line up of Charlie’s Angels on it without really knowing who they were. I had pink hair and I was free of the constraints of fashion, as I thought at the time.

I'm not even as trendy as Anne Hathaway at the start of The Devil Wears Prada

I’m not even as trendy as Anne Hathaway at the start of The Devil Wears Prada

Now I like to keep it simple, although also very much in the confines of my “secondhand dress/less than a fiver, thanks” philosophy of clothes. I knit stuff, I don’t own a Breton top and, despite my repeated attempts, I still can’t sew a seam straight. As much as I’d like to say I’m channelling Stevie Nicks, it’s probably safer to say I’m more bargain basement. And I’m cool with that. I’ve had 31 years to get my head around it, after all.

So what about the M&S skirt that so repulses me? It reminds me of my GCSE maths teacher, a woman who was probably very well meaning, but a total cow- and she LOVED skirts in that shape and cut. She had all the flare of a frustrated nun (we had a much cooler maths teacher, who I never had the luck to be taught by, who the girls found MUCH more exciting- she was all birds’ nest hair, slightly dishevelled glamour and there were rumours of a very French seeming illicit affair with a married Science teacher) and I think she disliked me as much as I disliked maths. So not even the apparently divine touch of The Patron Saint of Fashion, Alexa Chung, could make that skirt appealing to me.

Oh, and it costs nearly £150. I could buy a ton of dresses on eBay for that.

Post-election come down, frustration and “I’m alright, Jack”

I was once told not to blog about politics. Stuff that. I’m tired and I’m frustrated.

I’m still slightly gobsmacked at the outcome of the election, as like many I expected to wake up to a hung parliament. I’m frustrated that people have voted for a party whose leader avoided two live debates, who presided over a huge amount of debt accumulation and whose party has said they have to make £12bn cuts without stating where they’re coming from (although maternity pay is meant to be one of the benefits rumoured to be on the table for cuts.)

I saw the exit polls and my heart sank.

It’s been a campaign of scare tactics, of personal jibes and of an ‘I’m alright, Jack” mentality. This rankles with me a bit. There were a couple of Tory policies that would have benefited my family- especially with childcare- and I still chose not to vote for them, because I didn’t want to benefit at someone else’s expense. I do honestly think we’re in for five years of strikes, protest and opposition. I only hope the SNP come good on their promise to challenge the government, but of course their interest lies with Scotland.

My vote went to Caroline Lucas, the local Green MP. This was not necessarily an easy decision to make- I’m a traditional Labour voter and I would have preferred a Labour government. However, I was impressed with Caroline’s record in the last parliament; as an essentially independent MP, she was vocal, visible and able to vote on issues according to her conscience and her constituency’s interests. I’m pleased to say that she won with a huge vote swing. There’s some hope, at least!

So what now? I am determined to fight this government- on behalf of my son, my students who are about to leave school and are searching for jobs/apprenticeships or fretting about the cost of uni, all those who will be hit by austerity. Apparently Cameron is a Smiths’ fan. I want him to be The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. I’m thinking of joining a political party, of getting more involved in politics on a local level. At the moment, though, I’ll just wait and see what happens next.

The One and Only.. Phoenix Yard Books colouring books for grown ups!*

I have been colouring a lot lately and it’s been a real form of therapy. It’s the first year I’ve really felt like I was back in the swing of exam season since returning from maternity leave and also one of the hardest I can remember in terms of pressure. I haven’t been in the mood to do much- knitting and letter writing, not to mention blogging, have felt far too much like hard work and I’m not sure my mental capacity has been up to doing any of them at any great standard. So this is where tinkering in the garden- and especially- colouring have come in.

A few weeks back, Phoenix Yard Books contacted me and asked if I fancied giving their colouring books a go. I said yes immediately, as I’d looked at them a few days before in Waterstones and had been impressed by the variety of illustrations.

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As you can see, the titles I was sent are:

The One and Only Colouring Book for Grown Up Children

The Second One and Only Colouring Book for Adults

The One and Only Mandala Colouring Book

The One and Only Colouring Book for Travelling Adults

I love the mandala book especially. I may not be as zen as the monks who create one in the lobby of the White House in House of Cards, but I can see the appeal of colouring in such intricate designs (I seem to favour the more delicate designs in the book.) Here is my current work in progress, it’s been going for about a week now:

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(By the way, the pencils I’m using are these ones, and I wish I’d bought them earlier.) Carl Jung was a fan of mandalas- something about them being an extension of the self- but I like them because they allow me to really allow my perfectionist, I-like-my-things-to-be-symmetrical brain go to town. I choose limited colour palettes and then make IMPORTANT DECISIONS. Even if I do ten minutes of colouring in, I feel much better afterwards. I literally switch my brain off and only focus on trying to colour in the lines (which is way harder than you think when you’re a wound up ball of stress energy and a dash of crossness is added in to the mix.)

The other three books are smaller in stature but more eclectic in their illustration choices- sugar skulls, hipster people, animals and abstract patterns are all represented in these books and there really is something for everyone.

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Oh- and a quick note about the travelling colouring book: it comes in a slip case and has ring binding, so perfect for those who want to do a bit of therapeutic colouring on a commute…

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*Books were sent for review, the pencils I bought myself. Links are not affiliated

What I’m up to at the moment

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I’m coming to the end of my stressy period of work and I have some exciting stuff coming up on the blog (thank GOD for a bank holiday weekend.) Anyway, here’s a quick update on what I’m doing at the moment:

I’m reading: The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland (there’s an interview with Karen over on The Bookish Badger)

What I’m making: I just cast on Hitofutude cardigan in a lovely 4ply yarn in a light blue/grey

What I’m wearing on my nails: Rita Ora for Rimmel nail polish in Orangina

What I’m writing: I’m keeping up with book reviews over on the book blog

What I’m watching: I’m loving Inside No. 9 and W1A. I’ve also been watching Quentin Tarantino films at the behest of a student.

What are you up to? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter: @wuthering_alice

#PaperHaul: March and April

This is a double post, as March’s box was a little delayed due to a bag of boxes deciding to go temporarily AWOL at Royal Mail HQ. I can’t say I minded too much, as two boxes in one month is A-OK with me!

March’s theme was stripes and April’s is balloons.

Want to see what was inside? Come on, then!

Postcards

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A couple of the stripy ones are VERY Brighton- the deckchairs on the beach (obviously) but also the stripy legs remind me of the legs on top of the Duke of York’s cinema, which are look a bit like the Wicked Witch of the East’s when Dorothy’s house falls on her in The Wizard of Oz.

Also, three of these (the cup of tea, the girl with balloons and the cat in the hot air balloon) have joined my Abstract Gallery of Cheerful Things on the wall by my desk in my workroom/study. A lot of the #PaperHaul postcards end up on there.

Notecards and large stickers

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These are really cute- I especially like the bees and the children with balloons.

Craft papers, washi tape and tags

20150419_175239I could only find one of the raccoon tags- cute, right? Although I did use one for a friend’s birthday present- D had grown a sunflower for her, so it was only natural he got to choose her a tag!

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Oh, and here’s the other side of the craft papers (I always forget to show the back in my reviews!)

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Stickers

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How I have resisted sticking these ties on photos, I have no idea.

Cards

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These are just lovely. The cards are probably my favourite bit- I’m keeping them for birthdays and so on, mainly because I usually have someone in mind when I see them. I spend a small fortune on cards for occasions and these are just as good quality- if not better- than those of specialist card shops.

I can’t WAIT to see what May’s theme is!

You can register for #PaperHaul here

Disclaimer: I get my box at a discounted rate, but this does not affect my reviews, which are my own opinions.

What I learnt by sorting out my wardrobe

What do me and a New York socialite have in common?

As of today, we both have wardrobes sorted according to season. I was inspired by this post to get myself organised.

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If left to my own devices, my home would probably resemble something like this.

I am queen of the floordrobe. I drive Benn mad with my disorganisation and me ironing ANYTHING is pretty much unheard of. So I surprised myself with my desire to sort my clothes out according to season- I think it was a culmination of the post above and the fact that I have a spare drawer under the bed.

As I sorted things, I found clothes I hadn’t seen in month; the jumper I knitted myself, my favourite eBay bargain dress. I organised my scarves on a coathanger in a way that is TOTALLY worthy of Pinterest.

I also noticed some things:

  1. Most of my clothes are secondhand- bought from charity shops, eBay and cast-offs from friends.
  2. Of those that I bought myself, lots of them are very old. Many pre-date having D by a couple of years at least.
  3. The newest item of non-workout clothing is a pair of jeans that I bought in the ASOS sale and hated on first sight. I really like them now.
  4. I have fifteen long sleeved black t-shirts. FIFTEEN.
  5. I have dozens of scarves, but I will happily keep collecting them.
  6. I used to wear a lot of skirts (hence the t-shirts) but now I’m more into dresses with leggings.
  7. I tend to wear the same things regardless of season, but make them ‘season appropriate’ with knitwear and accessories.
  8. I have a lot of knitwear.
  9. Despite what I would have expected, due to my fondness for grey, most of my clothes are relatively colourful.
  10. I am much better at being ruthless than I used to be- one dress is on eBay and I have a bag for the charity shop ready to go.

I have yet to tackle my chest of drawers, but that is in my near future. I would like some new clothes, but whether I’ll get round to buying any is another thing. I would also like to have more handmade clothes (I have loads of accessories, but few actual garments.)

Tips:

  1. Have the eBay app on your phone ready to take photos and sell stuff straight away.
  2. Have loads of coathangers- more than you expect you’ll need, as they double up for hanging stuff like scarves, tights, belts and bras (I guess, if you were so inclined!)
  3. Have a good, sturdy bag to hand for charity shop donations.

It’s actually quite theraputic and, dare I say it, enjoyable!