Sunday, 31 August 2014

Summer Favourites


I rarely seem to remember to do monthly favourites, but this time I was looking for ideas for a blog post anyway, so I thought why not talk about some things I've been loving throughout the summer.


I'm still getting into Bastille if I'm honest, but I'm quite addicted to some of the songs from this album, including Pompeii, Bad Blood and Laura Palmer.


What's not to love about HAIM? My favourites from Days Are Gone are Edge, Falling, Honey & I, If I Could Change Your Mind and My Song 5.


I've got to admit it, I love all the songs on Troye Sivan's EP TRXYE - but Happy Little Pill will always be my favourite.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

I came across this series on Amazon, and was immediately intrigued by the setting - the crumbling country mansion of the de Luce family, set in the English countryside in the 1950s. The heroine is Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old chemistry whizz who spends her time in her chemical laboratory researching and creating all kinds of poisons - throw in a few good murders and an eccentric family and you've got an absolute gem of a novel.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

You know those books which blow you away and leave you pondering over the intricacies of the plot and whether the characters were based on real people days after you've finished it? This is one of those. Think a more modern taken on Jane Eyre, with a few exciting ingredients, but then forget that idea because it's not like that at all - it's stunningly well-written, spellbinding in the extreme, and left me at a loss for words.

The Original St Trinians Films
I've loved the whole concept of St Trinians ever since I first saw the 2007 film, but I was even more thrilled to discover the four original 1950s and 60s films in a lovely boxset. There's so much to like about these films: the comedy element, the nightmarish girls, the havoc they wreak, and the whole quintessential Britishness of it all.


I didn't watch all the Sherlock episodes as they aired, as it was only at New Year that I saw the beginning of series 3 and decided I loved it. I then watched all the previous episodes which my brother had recorded, but a few weeks ago when I went back to watch them again I found they'd all been deleted, so naturally I ordered the three series from Amazon. It really is a five star TV programme, and the complicated yet masterfully worked storylines and cinematography are worthy of a full length Hollywood movie.

Houndstooth Leggings from Ale-Hop

I got these leggings fairly recently in Spain, but I've been wearing them non-stop ever since I got them as they're just about the comfiest thing ever.

Floral Headband from Ale-Hop

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I'm currently growing my fringe out, and so far this headband has been brilliant in keeping it out of my face until it's long enough to join the rest of my hair.

And that's the stuff I've been loving this summer!


Thursday, 28 August 2014

ASMR Videos


Today I'd like to share something that I'm slowly becoming obsessed with - ASMR videos. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, and when triggered basically results in a lovely tingly feeling in your scalp, spine, arms and sometimes the rest of your body. I'm no expert at describing the phenomenon, so here's a youtube video in which TheWaterwhispers (Ilse) explains the basics, in the style of a typical ASMR video:

Especially when I was younger, I've always experienced a tingly feeling when watching people draw or write, as I find it so relaxing and slightly hypnotic, and I'm very sensitive to people touching or playing with my hair. So I was fascinated to find out that not only does that 'tingly feeling' have a name, there's a whole community dedicated to it, with thousands of ASMR channels on YouTube.

I discovered ASMR while browsing the channel of albinwonderland, a YouTuber I'm subscribed to, and I soon discovered her ASMR channel, albinwhisperland. After quickly googling ASMR, I was curious to see what it was all about and watched a couple of her videos - I was instantly hooked, and spent the rest of the day watching video after video, getting more relaxed and sleepy by the minute.

I've only watched a few different ASMR artists (or ASMRtists), but my favourites are definitely albinwhisperland and TheWaterwhispers. Both of them instantly make me feel relaxed, and the style of their video are quite different: Alb tends to do haul or collection videos in the ASMR style, while Ilse does more role-play type videos.

Here are a few examples of ASMR videos:

I hope you found this post interesting, and that I've inspired you to go and relax with some ASMR videos!


Friday, 22 August 2014

Clothes & Accessories Haul


After a week of sun, sea and seriously good food, I arrived back home from Spain yesterday afternoon. I'm not the type to lie around in the sun for hours on end, so whenever I go there I'm always up for doing something different, and I jumped at the chance to go shopping. We went to the nearest shopping centre, a maze of familiar and not so familiar shops which I invariably get lost in, and I got just a few things...

Houndstooth Sheer Top from Springfield, €6.99

This is probably my favourite thing I bought, for the price as much as anything else - it was reduced from €22.99 to €6.99! I've become slightly obsessed with houndstooth patterns lately (as you'll see later in this post), I think they're just so simple but classic and perfect for autumn/winter.

Black Tshirt from Lefties, €7.99

Lefties is one of my favourite shops in Spain, I just wish we had it here in Belgium - it reminds me of a mix of Forever 21 and Bershka, as the prices are great but the clothes are really nice and well made. I'm not mad about the union jack shape of the pattern on this top, but I like it as a whole and I think this'll be really nice with some light blue jeans or with shorts in the summer.

White Tshirt from Lefties, €7.99

This tshirt is pretty much identical to the previous one in style and shape. I love the slightly distressed effect to the print, and I think this would go really well under dungarees or just any way you like really, it's so versatile.

 Houndstooth Leggings from ALE-HOP, €5

I was eyeing up these leggings for days, telling myself I had more than enough leggings and that I shouldn't let myself be attracted by the price, but in the end I was powerless to resist. These were an incredible €5, and of course in a houndstooth pattern which will go so well with so many things in cooler weather.

Maroon Purse from Lefties, around €8

I've been on the lookout for a new purse for a while, but all I could seem to find were longer, bulky purses which I find quite impractical, especially as I have a lot of small bags I'd need to put it in. Which is why I was thrilled to find this one as it's the perfect size, not being too small to fit my ID card in but big enough to hold everything it needs to.

Floral Headband from ALE-HOP, €2

I decided recently that I wanted to grow my fringe out (mostly because it's just so much work) so I've been looking for ways to keep it back off my face until it's long enough. I tend to use hairclips to pin it to the top of my head, but that gets quite fiddly so I thought I'd try a fabric hairband like this. It reminds me a lot of when I was little too, as I used to wear these all the time.

Gold & White Headband from ALE-HOP, €2

Another slightly more snazzy hairband, this one has a wire running through it. They were available in various colours and styles, but I really like the effect of the white against the gold chain.


Monday, 18 August 2014

5 Books to Read this Summer (or just anyway)


Last year in July I did a 'Top 3 Summer Reads' post, where I recommended three books to read during the summer. This year I have a few more suggestions, whether you're spending the holidays at home or off at the beach. I've also tried to cover a few genres (which I've listed under each book), just for a dash of variety.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Genre: fantasy, horror

I can't quite remember if I've talked about this book before on my blog, but either way it deserves another mention. It was recommended to me by my cousin while we were browsing a bookshop in Canada, but I finally bought it in an English bookshop in Belgium a couple of months later. Quite simply one of the most quirky, bizarre and odd books I have ever read, it's based on such an interesting concept: the entire story is built around a set of genuine 'peculiar' vintage photographs, such as the one of the front cover, which appear at appropriate intervals during the story. The photos add a chilling otherworldly feeling to the novel and really helps the story to come alive in a whole new way.

It follows the story of Jacob, an American teenager, who journeys to a small, remote Welsh island to discover the secrets of his grandfather's childhood. He comes across the ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children but soon learns that not everything is quite as it seems and things start to become ever so peculiar.

The quality of the writing isn't brilliant, but neither is it awful. I'm not the biggest fan of strange, fantasy fiction with time travel and mysterious dark forces, but I absolutely loved this book, and for a debut novel it blew me away. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a thrilling tale of mystery and suspense, with a dash of mild horror for good measure.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Genre: contemporary YA fiction, realistic fiction

The Sky is Everywhere is one of my favourite contemporary YA fiction novels: for me it's on a par with modern classics like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the best of John Green's works. The main character is Lennie Walker, who is dealing with the aftermath of her older sister's sudden death. She has always felt safe in her sister Bailey's shadow, but now she suddenly finds herself very much the centre of attention. Of course there's a love element, and it appears Lennie has two boys to choose from: her dead sister's boyfriend Toby, and Joe, the new boy in town.

The things I love most about this book are Lennie's quirky family, and the entirely capable and skillful way in which the author deals with grief. The characters are larger than life but quintessentially human, including Bailey who doesn't actually appear in the novel. I also love the handwritten poems and stories between chapters, which I felt really brought the story alive. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good old tear jerker!

Rating: 8/10

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Genre: science fiction, dystopian, apocalyptic

The story begins with 17-year-old Alex hiking through the wilderness, carrying her parents ashes and slowly dying from a brain tumour. Suddenly the Earth is struck by a huge electro-magnetic pulse, killing thousands and affecting the rest either not at all, converting them into flesh-eating cannibals, or (in Alex's case) giving them a superhuman sense.

I used to be obsessed with dystopian fiction, and I bought this trilogy a couple of years ago when I was right in the middle of that phase. Being somewhat of a connoisseur of this particular genre, I easily recognised several elements of other novels in it: the massively earth-shattering event that happens at the beginning of the story, also seen in the Gone series by Michael Grant; the 'other people' to be avoided similar to The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker and Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts; the survival element of The Hunger Games; the unravelling of society as we know it of The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. But all those pieces build a story which is complex, well written and brilliantly paced. It suffers a little from both poor character development and too many characters in places, but that's mostly in the second book. On the whole I would recommend it if you liked any of the books I mentioned above.

Rating: 8/10

 Book of the Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Genre: fairytale

This novel is based on the Grimm fairytale of Maid Maleen, and the story is essentially identical. When a beautiful princess refuses to marry the prince her father has chosen, he is furious and locks her in a tower for seven long years. The story is told from the point of view of the princess's maid, Dashti, who writes in diary entries about their time in the tower. But the princess is spoilt and used to the abundance of the court, and as they run out of food Dashti soon realises they must either escape or slowly starve. What they find when they do break free from the tower is something they never expected...

I've never read anything quite like The Book of a Thousand Days, but I enjoyed it immensely. The author writes effortlessly and the story is well structured, the characters vivid and alive.

Rating: 7.5/10

At the House of the Magician by Mary Hooper

Genre: historical fiction

And last but not least, some historical fiction! At the House of the Magician is the first in a trilogy by Mary Hooper, one of my favourite historical fiction authors. Set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the main character is Lucy, a young girl who runs away from home and finds a job as a maid in the household of Dr Dee, the court magician. Lucy is more than a little nosy and in among the strange and sinister elements of the house soon uncovers a terrible plot: the Queen's life is in Lucy's hands...

This was one of the first novels set in the Elizabethan era that I owned, and it's perfect if you don't know a whole lot about the period - there's a lot of simple historical detail, along with a glossary at the back of the book which explains any difficult words. A nice touch is some instructions for making lavender wands, which feature a lot in the first few chapters of the novel.

In terms of the actual story, the characters are well-drawn and the suspense masterfully worked. I think it was intended for a slightly younger audience than myself (the print is larger than usual and the writing uncomplicated), but I love this trilogy with a passion and will keep reading them again and again.

Rating: 9/10

I hope this inspired you to look into at least one of these books this summer, let me know which one you'd most like to read!


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Dolls Kill Wishlist - Dresses


This is the third part in my series of posts about the clothing website Dolls Kill. In the first post, I featured my favourite tops, bottoms and jackets from the site, in the second I talked about shoes, and today I'm going to be sharing the dresses I would absolutely love to own. I love how quirky and unique they all are - let me know if you would wear/buy any of these!

Bubbilicious Skater Dress - $130

Good Girl Suspender Dress - $45

Laura Ashley Lace Up Maxi Dress - $59

Let's Swing Dress - $80

For Love & Lemons Sweet Tea Maxi Dress - $229

Ruby Starling Velvet Jumper - $69


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Polaroidz: the Finished Ensemble


A few weeks ago I started making a series of polaroid sets on Polyvore, each featuring one of my favourite music artists. I posted a few here, but since then I've published a lot more and made them into a collection, which I thought I'd share the best of here on my blog too.

The process is a simple one: I simply find a photo of the intended artist, choose a polaroid frame from the ones I have saved along with a background, and then proceed to embellish with fillers which suit the theme of the set. I had a lot of fun making these, as it was nice to let the creative juices flow and not always stick to my usual 'template'.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

School Supplies


I don't go back to school until the beginning of September, but because I'll be away for most of the time between then and now I've sorted my school supplies out already, and I thought I'd share all that here on my blog.

I absolutely love stationery, and I can spend hours in shops like WH Smith when I go back to the UK, just admiring all the pretty folders and trying out interesting pens and things. Unfortunately we don't have a WH Smith in Belgium, and our stationery shops (AVA and Club) tend to be very pricey. Partly because of this, partly because I get quite attached to stuff, and partly because it just doesn't need replacing, I don't buy everything new each year, so this is a mixture of stuff I bought recently and old bits and pieces recycled from previous years.

This will be my last year of school and I have all the same subjects and teachers (mostly) as last year. By now I know exactly what I tend to use, what I need and what works best for each subject and teacher. For instance, some hand out a lot of sheets and don't expect us to copy much down, so a folder is all that's needed, while for subjects where there's a lot of writing as well as extra sheets I use a thin folder and a notebook together. There's no set requirements for materials any more, we're just expected to be able to organise ourselves in a sensible way.

I thought I'd start off with my pencil case and its contents. The case itself is from Asda and cost about £3, I love it because it's simple but timeless, and perhaps more importantly it's sturdy, stays upright and doesn't spill pens everywhere like some others I've had. Inside I keep a ruler, a couple of pencils, a compass (actually my mum's from when she was at school, I find it works better than any modern plastic ones), a four-colour Bic, a highlighter, a couple of pens, a black double-ended felt tip for doodling, Tippex, scissors, a rubber and a pencil sharpener. I also have a flat hole punch (at the back), which is a super cool gadget that comes in handy when we get sheets handed out and I want to file mine away quickly. I always carry a lipbalm too - this one is the watermelon one from H&M.

Next up is a very technical piece of kit: this is my TI-nspire with its case. It's basically a really fancy calculator which does graphs and spreadsheets and all sorts of complicated things I never use it for. We had to buy them a few years ago, and we actually use them in the calculator part of our Maths exams, and in things like Chemistry, Physics and Geography. It weighs a ton and takes hours (sometimes days) to charge up, so it's not exactly an easy calculator to use, but we have to have them and cart them around all the time.

The folder on the left I carry literally everywhere with me at school. Rather than taking a whole folder home just for the sake of one piece of paper I need for homework, I put the sheet I need in here, along with anything other odd bits of paper. It's also got spare sheets of lined, squared and plain paper, just in case. The other thing is a set of lined double sheets we need for French tests - typically very specific and difficult to find.

These Atoma notebooks are the kind everyone uses at my school, and they actually originate in Belgium, which is fitting. They're great because you can take sheets out and put them back in in different places, but they're also usually really expensive, depending where you buy them - these particular ones cost €6.99 each in AVA! I'm going to use these for History, Biology and Maths.

I also tend to use these thin folder to put handouts in for certain subjects, namely Maths, Geography and Biology. I put dividers in nearly every folder, as they're so useful for keeping things organised.

These days I use folders more than I used to. I'll keep one of these at home to decant Maths handouts into when we've finished that topic, and the others will be used for French, Dutch and Philosophy.

These white folders (also from AVA) are my absolute favourites, because they have a clear plastic pocket at the front which means I can easily personalise them with a cover, which can then be swapped over if needed. The English one is recycled from last year, but I did the App English (basically the advanced course option I take alongside the main course) cover the other day. I just took a sheet of coloured paper for the background, stencilled the letters onto white card with a black pen and mounted that on a border. Here's a close up of each:

This is a little notebook I use to write down what work I have to do that day when I get in from school. I also have an agenda which I carry around with me at school and write down my homework in, but I use the notebook to write down ongoing things as well, such as studying for tests and other pieces of long term work I should be doing too. I start a new page each day, and write down every last thing I have to do, which often means rewriting stuff for a few days. It might seem a little over the top, but this way I never miss anything and I never have the awful feeling of walking into a class and realising I've totally forgotten about the day's homework. The other agenda I use I get given by my school in the first few days, so I can't show it here.

This is the bag I use for school. I know it's technically a handbag, but very few people use actual rucksacks at my school, especially in the upper years of secondary. It's obviously too small to put any books in, so I carry those instead. It contains my pencil case, agenda, purse, a bottle of water, fancy calculator, keys, USB stick, and usually a comb, compact mirror and extra lipbalm.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my school supplies for this coming year.