OOTD and new camera!

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I did it! I finally have a camera! Isn’t that exciting? Now I can take photos of beautiful things and share them with you all. I must just say a huge thank you to my grandfather (‘Pop’ as I call him) for gifting me with this camera, and I’m sure it will be in frequent use. The other day I tested it out with a new outfit I bought from Sportsgirl (an Australian brand which many of you probably won’t have heard of). As you will see, I haven’t quite figured out how to use it beyond the pressing of a button to take the picture. I took some photos in my mum’s bathroom as it’s the only room in our house with a big enough space and mirror to take a photo of oneself without chopping off half of ones body. Apologies for the shocking quality and embarrassing setting for these photos, but they are my first attempts so please don’t judge too harshly. I paired this monochromatic outfit with a (surpise, surprise) black bag from Sportsgirl and some cat-eye sunglasses from … you guessed it – Sportsgirl. I never realised how much stuff I have from there until right now, as I write this post. Anyway, I did a little holiday shopping yesterday and bought many things not from there, so I can’t be too obsessed. I hope to show those to you in due course, but for now, feast your eyes on these truly awful photos of my OOTD taken in bad lighting in a bathroom. Again … sorry! 

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A x

The Period of the Drama

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I’ve always had a certain weakness for period films/shows. I recently posted about a new favourite ‘The Paradise’, set in the 1800s in an early English department store. This is just one in the long list of dramas set in bygone days that I can’t seem to stop watching. As usual, I thought I would compile a list of my favourites, some old and some new, which I’m sure I won’t be alone in absolutely loving, beyond all sense!

1. Downton Abbey (2010 – present). Ahhh, of course I just had to include this cult favourite. This is one of the few dramas set in the early part of the last century to have produced a mass following. And I am certainly one of them! The irresistible charm of this mostly post-war drama will leave you sobbing, laughing and drawing breath in eager suspense. The sets are by far one of the most appealing aspects of this wonderful series (with all of the ‘upstairs’ rooms being filmed in a real mansion – Highclere Castle) and the costumes are also beautifully accurate and stunningly modern. And of course, the drama! Too much for some, but for me – I just can’t get enough.

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2. Cranford (2007 and 2009). The tale of a group of elderly women … doesn’t sound too appealing but trust me, it is so beautiful and terribly sad that you will jump at the chance to watch the sequel series ‘Return to Cranford’, incidentally starring Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter (Lady Mary Crawley and Mr Carson of Downton Abbey). This may not be to everyones taste, but my love for Dame Judi Dench and the fabulously cast Imelda Staunton often makes me forget that I’m watching a drama centred around the lives of the elderly (whom, of course, I have no objection to, but hardly the selling point of a must-watch drama series). Oh, and if that doesn’t persuade you, I might just add that Tom Hiddleston plays a rather major role in ‘Return to Cranford’ …

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3. Mr Selfridge (2013). This is a new one for me. And indeed, there is only one season which was released last year. It took me a while to warm to this drama, as I wasn’t too fond of the protagonist – Mr Selfridge. But, after sticking with it, I found I developed quite a passion for this series. It’s set, like ‘The Paradise’, in an early department store. This one, however, is based on fact. Well, supposedly anyway. The sets and costumes being nowhere near as wonderful as those in ‘The Paradise’, I thought I may not warm to it as much. However, the drama and intrigue of the plot far makes up for it. I find myself eager for a second season!

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4. Lark Rise to Candleford (2008 – 2011). I haven’t seen all that much of this show, and there are a lot of episodes to get through, but what I have seen I loved. It reminds me of ‘Cranford’ (although not about a group of old ladies) and stars another actor from ‘Downton Abbey’ – Brendon Coyle (better known as ‘Mr Bates’). I really do have to get back into this show as my sister has watched every episode and is crazy about it. I’ll add that to my list of shows I absolutely must see.

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5. Pride and Prejudice (1995). This is a very old favourite which I haven’t watched in years and years. It was my first introduction to the world of the period drama, at the tender age of six. Of course, back then I couldn’t understand a thing that was said. Everything had to be explained to me (the pause button dragged a 6-hour-long series into weeks of discussing and rewinding). But after reading the novel (one of my favourites and so beautifully written) and watching the 2005 film (which a lot of people hate but I actually love) I feel like this story is so familiar to me that it is woven into my past. I experience rather severe nostalgia whenever I revisit this tale, and I must commit another 6 hours of my life to rewatching the 1995 classic (I have no doubt it will surface many memories, as I watched it constantly throughout my childhood).

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6. Northanger Abbey (2007). (And onto films.) This is my favourite movie. I’ve watched it so many times that I know almost every line. I can’t tell you exactly why I love it so much, but somehow it resonates with me in a way I really couldn’t explain. This film was my introduction to the brilliant Carey Mulligan and the stunning Felicity Jones, and they are two of the reasons I love this film so much. That and the setting, the story, the romance, the intrigue, the music. It really is a wonderful film.

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7. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002). One of the funniest and wittiest movies I’ve ever seen and based on the absolutely genius work of Oscar Wilde. What couldn’t you love about this movie? The hilarious script, the wonderfully humurous music, the beautiful sets, the talented actors (who include Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Dame Judi Dench and Frances O’Connor) all make for a masterpiece of cinema. This is another of my most favourite films (possibly my second favourite … but there is still some debate in my mind, I just love film too much to decide!).

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8. Little Women (1994). Another old favourite and another movie I can recite many of the lines to (or could at least). It also happens to be one of my favourite books and stars one of my favourite actors – Winona Ryder. I also love Susan Sarandon and Claire Danes in this, but what I really love about this movie is the story. The tale of a family, and their love for each other. It’s a tale of bravery, love, kindness and friendship. And of course the sets are beautiful (as you may remember, I’m a winter kind of girl and this movie always thrills me in that regard). And every time I watch it I will Jo and Laurie to make up and marry each other! It always seems terribly strange for Laurie to marry Amy …

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9. Sense and Sensibility (1995). Yet another Austen, but this one always makes me smile. As this post is getting dangerously long, I won’t go into why I love it, but it is (again) another old favourite of mine.

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A x

A Little Light Holiday Reading

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So I’ve been reading some really interesting things lately and I thought I might share them with you all. I’m not really much of a reader ordinarily (usually because I’m too busy) but when I do manage to snuggle down with a book (and holidays are prime time for this) I remember just how much I love it. I went to the bookshop the other day and brought home a stash of fashion/beauty related reads and a couple of travel books and I now have a rather long holiday reading list. I just love new books, and bookstores always hold an irresistible charm for me. I almost always walk out with a pile of crisp, new books tucked under my arm. The problem is always in actually reading the books, because when I get home and display them proudly in my bedroom, they almost look too good to read. But I will try to get over this and plough on. After all, there’s not many things more relaxing than settling down with a fresh, new book to while away the hours. And goodness knows I need a little relaxation from time to time. Well, bring on the holiday reads I say!

1. “Grace – A Memoir” by Grace Coddington. I just finished reading this book actually and I really enjoyed it. She has a wonderful way of putting things, and her story is intriguing. It’s not too long and the writing style is very straight forward so it’s a wonderful light read. I learned a lot from this book actually, because it’s all set long before my time. As I’m a newcomer to the fashion world (my interest only really starting a year or two ago) there is a lot of industry history that I am unfamiliar with. This is a wonderful book for a quick catch up on that, and just for general enjoyment. I would highly recommend it!

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2. “Style” and “Beauty” by Lauren Conrad. These books are wonderful starting points to build your beauty and fashion wardrobes. The writing style is friendly and informative, and there is very little mention of product names (so you can be sure she is not working for any company). They’re also great just to flick through, as the chapters are all separated into helpful sections (such as ‘makeup’, ‘hair’, ‘skincare’, etc.). I actually read Style a long time ago and found it really helpful so I thought I’d give Beauty a go. I’ve only read the first few pages but so far it looks like a great read. I’m looking forward to reading ahead!

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3. “The Dressing Table” by Clare Press. I absolutely loved this book! Yes, I have read this one too, but I loved it so much that I’m reading it again. She is such a wonderful writer and the descriptions are so delightful that you just want to go out and buy a whole wardrobe full of colourful, textured and adventurous items! It’s clear that she’s passionate about fashion and I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who is.

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4. “The Wow Factor” by Jacqui Stafford. Unlike the others, this is more of a ‘tips and tricks’ kind of book. It’s also rather small so perfect for taking with you to go shopping. I haven’t done this yet, but it definitely has some great tips for different body/face shapes and how to make the most of what you’ve got.

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5. “All the Sad Young Men” and “Tales of the Jazz Age” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. No, these aren’t really fashion books but I love F. Scott Fitzgerald so I thought I might take a look at some of his short stories which he wrote so many of. A while ago I read “Z – A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler, which was absolutely wonderful, and so interesting! I then immediately read “This Side of Paradise” by Fitzgerald, which I was slightly disappointed with but still found enjoyable. Maybe his short stories will live up to the wonderful Gatsby (one of my favourite books of all time).

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These are just a few of the books I have on my reading list at the moment and I still have a whole suitcase filled with more (like “Anna Karenina”, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” and “The American” – as you can see, I love my classics – along with a couple of travel books on Paris and New York). Well then, I’d better be off now … and you can guess what I’ll being doing for the next few weeks!

A x

The Time of New Beginnings

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I’ve never been much of a one for doing New Years ‘resolutions’. I have so far steered clear of this tradition, preferring to set myself goals now, rather than waiting until the 1st January to start my diet and exercise plan. But I thought it high time to give it a try. Who knows, perhaps it will work for me? I have to say that so far, so bad. The holiday season is still upon us, and holiday treats are at large in our household. Christmas chocolates, creamy cheeses, biscuits and all sorts of other naughty things are filling the cupboard shelves. Each time I reach into the fridge to grab a mango or a nectarine, some festive foe will gaze hopefully at me. It takes an obscene amount of willpower to turn down such a pretty face. And mine is slowly fading.

It probably wasn’t such a great idea to give myself such free reign in December, allowing myself to pretty much do whatever I wanted. Because in the New Year I would begin my brutal regime. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of my once-hopeful resolutions. Please tell me I’m not the only one. I would love to hear some of yours!

1. Of course, I had to put in the cliched ‘eat clean’ resolution. I vowed to eat only fresh, healthy and colourful foods (especially focusing on fruit and vegetables in season).

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2. Exercise daily. Hah, what a joke! Daily exercise is almost laughable in this heat. Do you know how hot it is here today? 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degree Fahrenheit) at the moment. And very high humidity to top it off. Urghhh! I’m not a fan of the heat, but I don’t think anyone would be game to go out and exercise in that! 

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3. Get at least 9 hours sleep every night. Now, this one has been a little easier since I’ve been so exhausted recently. I think it might be the heat. But I definitely don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. I probably average around 7 hours currently. And I’m constantly tired. Bring on the early nights, I say!

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4. Read more, watch less. I have to say, I’m not a great reader. Well, okay maybe I am compared to some people but I really don’t take the time to read a lot. It usually takes me months to finish a book, simply because I don’t really read it. The number of books I have picked up and not finished reading is shameful. I have this huge list of books I have to read, so hopefully I can un-stick my eyes from the screen and glue them back onto the pages of a book!

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5. Be more positive. I have actually already started this one, and so far it has worked wonders. The number of things I complain about is really disgraceful. Now, whenever I feel myself starting to complain about something, I think about all the people in the world who have nothing. When I moan about my job, I think about those who don’t have one (or who earn a measly $1 a day for hard labour). When I complain about my family I think about all those people who have no family. And so on, you get the gist. And although it doesn’t always work, for the times it does it makes a huge difference.

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These are the main ones, and the ones I will be focusing the most on. Hopefully I can slowly build my inner strength and make these resolutions a natural part of my life. Perhaps that seems a little too optimistic, but I’m trying to stick to the last point here. See, I’m doing it!

A x