29 July 2015

Uncharted Waters


When it comes to charts, I'm about as tuned in as Radio 4 in a nightclub. I try, I really do. I've downloaded Eminem - if that's not perseverance I don't know what is - and have a skill for making up my own lyrics on nights out. No one need ever know.

It simply isn't me though, and I'm finally learning that's okay. Not everyone knows the words to I Really Really Really Like You (although if you don't know the chorus, I would be slightly concerned). I know I have about as many edges as a circle, but I am much more of a folk/indie listener than Pop. Give me sea bass over Beats and Bass any day, and sidetrack that other Bass altogether (see Dear Meghan Trainor vlog).

In terms of finding music off charted waters, Genius Recommends is my Dori. Around 90% of my downloads in 2015 have come from artists such as  Birdy, Gabrielle Aplin, Luke Sital-Singh and Ed Sheeran. It can become a bit of a Youtube video situation, where the "recommends" list takes you a dozen degrees of separation from the start! Yet just like a dancing dog video, artists such as Daughter have found a place in my heart. Sorry Lil' Mix.


 DAUGHTER


If you haven't listened to this band, go go go find them. The only artist I can possibly relate them to is Snow Patrol, which is a bit bizarre considering their sound is so different. Yet the link is a rare one in music today - they tell a story. Their songs are as good as any poem; my beloved Plath and Thomas have competition.    

photo credit: interviewmagazine.com
If I had to pick a favourite, it's Medicine - this song gives me goosebumps every time and has been played a grand total of 126 times since I bought it 3 weeks ago. Elena Tonra's voice is mesmerising - she could make the phone book sound like Austen Rowling. That's not something I can say of Cheryl Cole. She's more EL James division.
Medicine *      * Shallows *



 RAE MORRIS


Rae Morris is best known for her song Love Again, which I like but wouldn't go as far as to play it on repeat. Nonetheless, when I heard her solo version of the Clean Bandit collaboration Up Again, I was hooked. The original version didn't do anything for me, yet on her own the song is stripped back and all the better for it. Again, sea bass over Beats and Bass. 

photo credit: redbrick.me
From Rihanna Pt. III to Beyonce Pt. XXVIII, I tend to prefer the 'after version' of collaborative songs anyway. So, trusting the Apple Gods that be (story of my life) I gave the song a listen… and I fell in love. On her own, Rae Morris is free from the beats and other effects that dominate Clean Bandit's music. 

She reminds me a bit of Gabrielle Aplin, not just in terms of melodic similarities but also that I prefer their slower tempo - and often lesser known - songs. The good thing, however, is that both artists have great variety. I loved Rae's voice when I first heard it, so it's wonderful to have songs I love to go with it!

* My God *       Up Again *


PAPER AEROPLANES

In many ways this band is similar to daughter. Both are in the folk-indie genre, have a (memorable) female vocalist and male musicians. Yet the greatest similarity is really quite simple: they are both iPod essentials. They have been around for over half a decade, so I am feeling a bit regretful that I have only found them now - play count wise I am making up for lost time though!

photo credit: amazon.co.uk
I actually have two copies of Same Mistakes on iTunes, after downloading from two different albums - not complaining though, just means double the odds of it coming up on shuffle! Reviewing the band way back in 2011 - wow that makes me feel old - Paul Kerr surmised it pretty perfectly: "Paper Aeroplanes are an oasis of gravity in a cultural desert of frivolity". The musical  desert of 2015 makes 2011 look positively tidal (Jay-Z you missed the boat), so I would be intrigued to see Mr Kerr's response today…


Their latest album, Joy, is good, but as with Rae Morris I am a bit wistful that it comprises mostly of upbeat songs. Maybe my music tastes are just too melancholic for my own good? Lead singer Sarah Howell's voice has been enough to convert me on quite a few songs though! It actually reminds me a bit of Rae Morris, as well as Bo Bruce - another name to search, the one saving grace of TV Talent Shows! 

Yet if I still needed any other reason to love Paper Aeroplanes, this article sealed the deal. Great music and coffee go together like Ross and Rachel, or Dan and Blair - yes, I went there.

* Same Mistakes *     * Multiple Love *


* * *

In short, I'm over the charts - not that I was ever under them, let's be honest, with the exception of Taylor Swift and the odd Take That hit. Once a 90s kid always a 90s kid… My music in a nutshell:

  1. Lyrics matter - they are no different from poetry. 
  2. The best melodies wouldn't be out of place in a film trailer; that moment you hear a song (Current obsession is Christina Perri in Pan) and it tells the story on its own.  
  3. There are voices beyond autotune. Now this one isn't directed at Little Mix; to be fair they can sing! But it is as common as photoshop in fashion today. Whatever happened to a bit of authenticity?   


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What music do you listen to outside of the charts? 

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23 July 2015

When Sophie met Hattie

contrast oxfords

World meet Hattie. Two weeks since we first met, we're quite inseparable. When it comes to the Universe of Oxfords, they wouldn't look out of place in the Cobbled Cambridge courtyards - I fell in love with Jane's style in The Theory of Everything, and I think she would like Hattie too! My two-tone travels began in January, topping my New Year Wishlist, yet months of searching left me empty-footed. Until I stumbled upon these *Agnes & Norman shoes in the The Simple Things... 
The Simple Things
Confession time… I was so excited to see two-tone brogues in the advertisement, I failed to notice they were being modelled by… a man. On a wing and a prayer I visited the women's section of the site, only to see a pair of  two-tone brogues for females. It truly was like Christmas morning moment, when seven-year-old me was given her Nimbus 2000. What's more, who doesn't love a shoe with a name? Coincidentally, Hattie is the name of my closest friends; clearly it's meant to be.
Shoes: Agnes & Norman, £139       
Once open, I had her out quicker than an Oxford University gown. As with anything shiny and new, I was a bit nervous to wear them out! I had no need to be though; I've worn them almost daily for the past two weeks, and they're still as good as new - not to mention extremely comfy.

sundial
"Here comes the sun, little darling"
Blouse: Zara, £16                    Skirt: Asos£25

This outfit is my favourite shoe-look so far. I wore it last week the our village fete, and was taken aback when people came up to compliment it, singling out the shoes! Discovering just how many items they go with has been the berry on top (always berries over cherries). With this Asos skirt, and the zara blouse I wore in my Wearing Wimbledon post, they give the perfect vintage finish!

Satchel: Asos, £18
Now all that was left was for Hattie to meet Millie - I think they like each other. I have hidden the former away in my room, as Millie's way of showing affection to inanimate friends is to eat them. Slippers are the BFFs. Except "for life"might be stretching it; four weeks is more accurate.

Polka dot dress: Red Herring      Shop the Look: Mango & Asos         Bag: Pull&Bear

Although I cannot say anything against the New Look heel emporium, for brogues and boots invest in quality. They are a wardrobe staple and comfort is key. At the risk of sounding like I really do live in Wonderland, I am so very happy to have finally found the shoes I've been searching for. Have you ever had a 'style stars align' moment? 
This post is affiliated but all views are entirely my own

Lots of love,
Sophie & Hattie


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18 July 2015

Away with words

The wish list with a magical twist… After reading Olivia's indie brands that have my heart post last month, I have recommenced my love affair with Etsy. I am no stranger to this yet, after my trek through of 2nd year deadlines, this expedition has been a long-time coming. To paraphrase Cady Heren, Etsy is like the Wonderland I never had. You fall down that virtual rabbit hole, and anything is possible…

Wonder in Alice Land UK: Framed quotes£19.99 
I am a firm believer that Etsy love makes the world a more wonderful place, from possibiliteas to iPod docks made out of trees. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you… iPod docks made out of treesYet it was the bookie within me that first fell for Etsy's charms, so this list has a suitably novel feel; it might even rival my 2014 festive haul - I'm talking Always necklaces and custom quote coasters. The real deal.

Christmas in July seems to be trending a bit, so this could be the gift guide you need. Or you could simply jump down the Etsy expedition with no signpost in sight. Backpack essentials = laptop, teacup and a debit card far away. I'm serious on this final one: when browsing, keep it far far away.


* Smelling the roses (red) *

Frostbeard: Bibliophile Soy Candles, £10.49

Given that 2015 is Alice's 150th Anniversary, I've taken the diplomatic view that no Wonderland wordplay is too much. You have been warned. Now, I've never been a huge lover of candles; not only am I more of a flower person, but matches and I are about as comfortable as Neville and potions class. Until I found Frostbeard. The name alone is a winner, but the product is something else… who could resist roaming the Shire, the aroma of butterbeer (sans Florida flight fare), or that old book smell while reading your kindle? Enter the literary candle.

From "oak moss with a hint cherry pipe tobacco", to "butterscotch overtones and butter rum", you house can be a live-in storybook. I have to say though, the bookshop candle might top them all:  "driftwood and espresso", hmm… How do I possibly choose between coffee or Harry? This is what I meant by keeping that debit card hidden! In their about page, owners Roxie and Tom describe their product as "nerdy things that need to exist". In my book, the first word isn't even needed. These candles are simply things that need to exist! 


* Re-kindling the Klevercase love *



Klevercase is not a new discovery for me; I am already the proud owner of a To Kill a Mockingbird kindle cover, which has won many admirers. I revisited the shop this week, as I'm considering one for a friend's birthday, and saw cases for Apple products too! It is now truly the apple of my eye. 
1. iPhone case, £19.95                                 2. Kindle case, £24.95  


* Come fly with tea *

1. Thermos Flask, £14.99   2. Pass Holder, £17   3. Wallet, £22.40   4. Makeup Bag, £20.80   5. Travel Wallet, £27.20  

I discovered this "in a nutshell range", by Disaster Designs, through the wonderful Lisa Angel Homeware. Think my beloved Sugar Loaf in virtual form! Two of my greatest life loves are linguistic trips and tea. So when I saw this "cup of tea" mug my heart may have leapt like a white rabbit. What can I say? Some girls love couture, others love clouds with silver linings.



* Clutching at stories *


Michelle Williams                                  Lily James                                 Kim Kardashian
Credit: Mail Online
Thanks to celebrity endorsement of the gorgeous Olympia Le-Tan book bags (one day…), story-inspired clutches have wandered far beyond fandom territory. Of all the red-carpet-ready designs I saw, Lily's was definitely my favourite! Personally, Bound 2 never exactly screamed Love Story homage, but each to their own.

Sadly, the Le-Tan clutches are in the Chanel purse price range, so I have hunted high and low for some worthy alternatives… although I think "alternative" does a bit of a disservice to my top two finds! Like Klevercase, PSBesitos isn't a new brand to me, but I simply couldn't miss them out of this post. It is currently on my 21st Wishlist, but now I have seen them again I'm not sure I can wait that long… 

PSBesitos: Book Clutch, £42.80

Another product by Disaster Designs (see earlier "in a nutshell" items). Combing simplicity and style, this Storybook design will never go out of style. Speaking of, it definitely has Ms Swift written all over!

Disaster Designs: Book Club Clutch,  £42


What would Blair Waldorf do? *

Forget, "you have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce", from bows to resting bitch faces it's all about Blair. The mug on the left says it all, but I equally fell in love with these other products from The Trendy Sparrow range. Rory Gilmore is the Hermione of the Muggle world, and she loves coffee. She's up there with Ms Waldorf in fictional dream teams. 

1. Blair Waldorf Mug, £11.17           2. Gilmore tumbler, £13.14    3. Coffee & Fashion Mug, £11.17


* Oh my Mason love *


My love for a mason jar is no secret. It's a tough call, but of all the items this might just scream "Sophie" the most. The stag on the back of each jar alone might just do that. Always

I do love these jars. The size means they can hold a tonne of ice, along with ample *insert amazing drink of choice*, plus the aesthetic appeal can't be overlooked. Despite my dad's frequent "why are you drinking from a jam jar?" line, this combines prettiness and practicality down to a tee. 

DarkWoodJarCompany: Engraved Mason Jar, £14 

* * *

Happy wandering with words! The world might be the high street, but Wonderland is Etsy. Just be sure to keep track of time; it's easy for it to run away with you, and I wouldn't want to make you late.

On that note, I might have an important date with Etsy pocket-watches now…

VFJewellery: Wonderland Teapot Pocket Watch, £10



Follow Sophie's board WonderList on Pinterest.
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13 July 2015

Wearing Wimbledon

Postcards: The Simple Things Magazine
Wimbledon is over for another year. *Sobs into teacup*. I am still a bit gutted for Murray's defeat in the semi-final, not going to lie, yet cheered on Federer today regardless. He's one of those sportsmen who it is hard to hold a grudge against, with the exception of the 2012 Wimbledon final… that took a lot of tea and strawberries to get over.

Federer does alway seems like such a gentleman though, right down to saving cows in Switzerland - apparently he receives them as gifts for winning Slams! I like to think of a little herd of them galloping (do cows gallop?) around near Swiss lakes. Okay I need to stop before I book my tickets to Zurich. 

Games aside, there are style sets and colour matches also celebrating The All England Club: the world of tennis fashion. Enter pleats, whites, collars and maybe a touch of crochet  - let's show some rhyming love for another British sport… and stay as far  away from Queen of Hearts style as possible.

Here is my outfit homage to Wimbledon, top tennis-style moments and high-street picks of the look.

  Peter Pan collar blouse: Zara
 
I used to think there were three ways to wear a blouse. Buttoned at the top. Buttoned at the bottom. Buttoned in the middle. Growing up I always adhered to option 2; occasionally 3, if I was feeling revolutionary. Turns out, I had no idea the meaning of that world... until last weekend. 

I fastened the top button, then the 2nd. Then I stopped. For some reason, I had tucked the blouse into my skirt pre-buttoning the top. Maybe I was simply too excited to channel my inner victorian schoolgirl -  with any peter-pan collar product, this is a risk you take. My motto: better to own it than bemoan it.   Nonetheless, I realised how nice it looked with mid-part unfastened. Slightly less Professor McGonagall, but still keeping it cute and classy.

Game, Set and Match: A top, a flip and a jump
Pleat skirt: Urban Outfitters                                     Magazine: The Simple Things 


So, voila! There is a fourth way to fasten a blouse! Now this was truly a revolution. Can you hear the buttons sing? Singing the song of Wimbledon… 100% a future Number 1. You heard it here first.

One thing that does drive me slightly crazy about blouses  is how they can easily tug out; you end up with a little 'air-baby' at the top of the skirt, but it is a less painful fashion price than five inch heels. Thankfully part of the tennis trend is flat shoes, from plimsoles to trainers and brogues. Okay, maybe I added brogues into the mix. Girl's gotta walk. Sometimes comfort over style is needed.

   Eyeliner and Mascara: L'Oreal            Eyeshadow: Smashbox            Bow hair-tie: H&M                        

Aside from the style of clothing itself, colour is a Wimbledon key. The all-white dress-code for players, now more infamous than ever thanks to Federer, is something I admire the organisers for. Colour easily distracts, and some of the outfits I've seen at other tournaments make Minions look greyscale. 

The general order of the Wimbleday, when it comes to the crowd, is blue and white - any coincidence that this replicates the scottish flag? If you do want to make a British statement with your colour palette, adding a red hair ribbon (Matilda style) or cross-body bag would work; nonetheless, surely strawberry mania alone covers it nicely? my view is that, as long as you're drinking tea and eating berries, you're practically the Dowager Countess. 


Blogging UnfilteredUnscripted snaps = the strongest smiles

Tea + berries = happy Sophie

The Wimbledon Game

Trendsetters and Style Matches


                          Photo Credit: Mail Online                                          What Olivia Did                        Coco's Tea Party

My favourite fashion theme from Wimbledon has to be the all-white-everything dress code. Growing up I was always cautioned against wearing white. Perhaps the ice-creamed top of 8 year-old me (photo evidence) was an attempt to rectify this situation, for I gravitate towards white like Wednesday to pink.

Rosamond Pike and her white collar dress was one of my favourite fashion moments of Wimbledon 2015. I love the frill detail at the top, plus the white plimsoles. Flat shoes are another tennis trend to celebrate; I tell myself that, due to my hobbit size, I should wear heels, but gravity seems to have smaller plans for me

The dress worn by the Duchess of Cambridge is, admittedly, from the 2014 tournament… I loved it so much then, I have to love it again. No apologies. The eyelet fabric style is also the same as my Zara top, and a bit of a new obsession. Crochet is history, now that eye have let another win over my heart

Olivia and Ella (What Olivia Did and Coco's Tea Party) are two of my favourite fashion blogsgers, so it is no surprise that their recent LWDs have flown onto my bucket list! Ella's look was even titled Wimbledon-Worthy Tennis Whites. Wimbledon worthy, world worthy, wonderland worthy... this dress has it all!

Swish and Sip                                                         Mug: Anthropologie, £10

Centre Court style doesn't have to stay in SW19. It works any time, day or night, sun or shower or snow - it's the perfect camouflage! Nonetheless, one year I will be at SW19, Centre Court final, watching, wearing and worshipping Wimbledon. 

I would add "winning" to that alliterative list, but let's be realistic. On a brighter note, maybe I'll win best conformity to The All England Club dress code. All things white and beautiful


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10 July 2015

Photography

Despite its startling rise in popularity, over recent years, there are still many misconceptions around blogging; people can assume it is all fedoras, freebies and flawless feeds. The reality? No blog - or blogger - is perfect. How do you solve a problem like laptop freezing, empty iPhone storage, the 104th tab that well and truly breaks your internet?  A lot of the time, God knows...

… and that's okay! I am the biggest culprit for perfectionism and self-deprication, but I also know I am not alone in this.  From the dangerous impact of public opinion, as shown by Emma in her video (if you haven't yet watched this, visit the link now), to the stress we can all feel to have the gorgeous header and birds eye shots. Zoe and Jenny have recently done brilliant posts on blogging pressure.

Yet rather than take to our beds over an off-angle photo, or widget html that didn't quite work out, far better to respond with good grace… and humour! Enter Blogging Behind the FilterFor every floppy hat there will be a potential flop - but the word failure isn't allowed. 

Ultimately, one of the reasons I adore blogging is the overall positivity of the community - a refreshing change from a world that is all too critical - so we need to change our fear of making mistakes! Starting with photography - inspired in part by Olivia's fab what I instagrammed vs what was really happening - here are my top five unfiltered moments. 


 * * * * * 

1. You have 20 photos that are almost identical. The almost is very important though. Can you see a millimetre of cupboard in this all-white backdrop? Is that shadow too close for comfort? Snap again… and again… and a dozen times more for good measure! Last week I took precisely 32 photos of one eyeshadow palette, using half a dozen various background items and 3 different surfaces. Looking back on it now, did I smash it out of the box? No. Will it change my life? No. 

    Step 1: Shot                                    Step 179: Post                                    Step 67: Filter    

2. Your laptop/phone has about ten times as many unused photos as good ones. You are left with 200+ photos that you should have consigned to the rubbish bin. , before they had time to sync from your phone to laptop. Cue 5 minutes of steady scrolling, selecting, recycling and recoiling at photos no filter could ever fix. Less iCloud, more iFog. 

3. You can end up resenting the objects you photograph, simply for staring at them too long. I'm sorry Postcard-print bedding, I'm looking at you. Your yin-and-yang bookshelf becomes a cluttered mess. You want to shabby chic all your furniture white (including the dog bed/dog...) and replace external walls with floor-length windows - natural light necessities. Even those fresh summer  flowers you declared "beautiful" in your morning IG caption, suddenly have the aesthetic appeal of a Mimbulus Mimbletonia.

right photo credit: exepose.com
4. You receive disparaging and sceptical looks when you whip out your camera phone - from strangers and friends/family alike! Restaurants are the worst (reason I try to avoid), followed by any public place really. The latest bird eye hype doesn't help - your can end up looking like you have broken out into the YMCA.
*I was quite taken aback the other weekend, when my sister both endorsed and assisted with my Snog frozen yoghurt group shot! She did draw a line at an (attempted) selfie though. 

To be fair, she was right about the selfie...
5. Your phone runs out of charge just as the barista is adding the final foam flourish to your coffee.  You don't quite know what to do. Your soul longs to espresso itself, but Apple memory is roasted. 
On these fateful days, filters are strictly offline.  If you want to get a birds eye (the Cara Delvingne of the angle world), your best shot is the freezer aisle of the local supermarket. 

Latte art to steal your heart 
ps: they're technically all cappuccinos
pps: on IG they're lattes; rhyme needs must.

*Animal owners exclusive*


1. Unexpected pet photobombs. Yes, these can make for some delightful off-the-cuff snaps, but other times their face was the only thing coming between your tea cup and natural light. It's comparable an internet crash in the final minute of an eBay auction. 
Also remember that, in dog terms, all props might as well be chewable flip flops. No scenery is safe. 

2. Animal autonomy can be a blessing and a curse.  
Blessing = impossibly cute photos that scream #instantly #instaready. Millie has this down to a tee, from standing on two legs trying to steal cake, to resembling an extra from Harry Potter. 
The curse: it's a Dog's world. Just as Daenarys discovered the hard way that  "Mother of Dragons" is only a title, so too will your pet continually remind you who the real Khaleesi is.  Dogs are like toddlers; they will smile if you offer food, but will also make you rue the day you disrupted nap-time.

There's a reason Millie's nicknames include Princess, Maleficent and Lady Milliesandra. 


* * *

 Key Lessons from Behind the White Background

  • Don't be self-deprecating over those flappable moments. We are only human, and I am all for the perfectly imperfect outlook these days. 
  • Don't blame the dog. I have in the past, but her spaniel eyes have quickly alerted me to the error of my ways. They are only animals! 
  • Don't heap pressure on yourself. I remember taking a lot of comfort from Sarah's post back in January, especially numbers 4 & 8, for this reason. This leads me nicely onto… 
  • Enjoy it! I have really developed a love for photography through my blog. When someone commented on Instagram yesterday that they "loved my feed", it really did make my day. Also,  growing up I was the girl who had the camera banned from her hands, so there is a small satisfaction with mum or dad saying (with surprise) "that's actually a really good photo!" 
  • Remember to live. Not every floppy hat needs to be photographed. (Am I alone in now singing Floppy Hat to the tune of  Smelly Cat in my head?)

"Drink your coffee, wear new shoes
and don't let photos rule you"

This list could gone on and on, and is not meant to be negative at all; quite the opposite! I hope it can reduce those feelings of self-criticism. I would love to hear your own behind-the-filter moments - with photos especially - so comment below or use #BloggingUnfiltered on Twitter and Instagram!

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8 July 2015

Books & Broomsticks

I've spent the last few weeks having a long-overdue room tidy. As with most renovations, it has seen out with the old and in with the new. Nonetheless, it has also sent me on some lovely little nostalgia trips; a whole forgotten Wonderland, from bags and books, to board games and bones (prehistoric fossils, to be precise, before I start to sound like a Desperate Housewife.)

Despite what my Disney heroine advocates, I struggle with letting go. How can I know now if I will want to play Guess Who? 10 years from now? What if I have a sudden longing to see Frederic and his freckled face again? I admit this is probably quite low on the list of sentimental items, but I do fear regret. 

This whole experience has made me rather wistful, so prompted the idea for this post series! Each week will see My Memory Box adopt a particular theme, from dinosaurs to epic poetry (composed by 9-year-old me). The first instalment is...

Beautiful Books


Way back when I did a post on the power of reading; namely a black-hair bespectacled guy you might have heard of. Through all of my room tidying, I rediscovered some childhood classics I was worried had been thrown away by mistake.

Among the books I feared lost were my Roald Dahls, specifically by two favourites Matilda and the BFG. I found them in our "everything but the kitchen sink" cupboard, along with the My Naughty Little Sister series. Now I just need to track down Sheltie, The Worst Witch and The Puppy Patrol. I remember dressing up as Maud Moonshine for halloween, while the death of Sam the Border Collie floored me almost as much as Dobby. I don't say this lightly!

Nonetheless, through all the animal and magic hype Dahl still emerged as the no.2 author of my childhood; for a girl firmly of the HP generation, this is like coming second to Usain Bolt. Run with it.


 Matilda by Roald Dahl


One Dahl character stood out above all others, even Charlie Bucket and my namesake Sophie… Matilda. Before Molly Weasley, there was Miss Honey, and before Hermione, there was Matilda. She made me see that it's okay to bury your head in a book… and that superglue really is super sticky. We will never forget how to spell difficulty, though I recall less luck with the word bycycle - evidently the struggle is still real.

Despite my enduring love for the film, the book does contain those extra moments of magic that make the story come to life. While the movie shows the superglue hat moment, Dahl's original contains a whole host of ingenious tricks, the talking parrot being a particular favourite of mine - for a time I was convinced I could train my guinea pig to talk. I never quite managed to pull this off...

credit: RoaldDahl.com


If the world has any justice, every person should encounter a Miss Honey in their life. I had a couple of teachers who came close, but I appreciate it is a tough act to live up to. Almost as much as Miss Trunchbull is in the evil stakes, although again one particular teacher had it in her…  I suppose the modern day equivalent might be Dance Mom's Abby Lee Miller.

Matilda did make me feel very thankful for my parents. Not only did they let me read books; after finding out we would be in Greece, when the Order of the Phoenix was published, they arranged to have two copies FedExed out to us. Holiday can't halt Harry Potter, and FedEx is the muggle version of Accio.

From afternoon tea and flowers, to iron bed frames and dolls. It's Sophie in a scene! 
(credit: goodmorninglovely.net)

For all my affirmations that "the book is better", I adore the 90s film version of Matilda - let's be honest, we've all danced to Little Bitty Pretty One in our bedroom/felt slightly inadequate that a 5 year old can make such good pancakes. The film stars Mara Wilson, who,  along with Emma Watson, she's also one of the few child actresses who hasn't gone off the rails. 

Clearly books and flying objects keep you grounded. My top two books really did have a lot in common… Sadly, for mere mortals like me, the ability to levitate quills, broomsticks, cheerios and cake is still a work in progress. Perhaps I should take a hint from the talking guinea-pig disappointment.


Matilda's love for books, coupled with her determination and hopefulness is hard to rival. I'd choose her over Elizabeth Bennett or Lyra Belacqua any day of the week. Of course, I can't forget the significant style imprint Matilda left on mini me… the headband. Prior to the inspiration of Blair "hairband" Waldorf, Matilda's red ribbon saw headpieces becomes a bit of a signature for me. Preppy and proud. 

Bookmarked Memories


Growing up, you also encounter those 'special books'. For me, these comprised of the signed and the sentimental. The Bath Literary Festival is a goldmine for signed copies; I've secured everything from historian Alison Weir to Ms Rowling herself… yup! One signed copy of The Causal Vacancy, to join my sister's signed copy of The Goblet of Fire!

Ironically (and somewhat tragically), the signing occurred just months before the series cast its magic spell over me. From what my dad and sister tell me, years later, all I really cared about was the pick 'n mix at the halfway point… in my defence, I was 5, tired there were a lot of stairs!

The signed Khaled Hosseini books were a gift from Dad for my A Levels - I studied The Kite Runner in Year 12

The sentimental = inherited books - the above copy of Mandy was given to me by mum, and the cover alone puts it pride of place in any #shelfie. This also holds true of some books I received at prize-givings. In Junior school your prize came in the form of a beautiful hardback, which in year 3 was a copy of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Having been diagnosed with diabetes at the end of year 2, almost exactly a year earlier, this book symbolised a real personal triumph for me. My family were so excited too;  I vividly remember my poor mum, who had slipped a disc in her back the previous month, being practically carried into the hall so she could watch!

In Senior School you received a slightly less exciting book token. So many people would groan when they opened the envelope to find these, the irony of which was not lost of me. One person once asked me "what am I supposed to do with this?", so I responded "buy Vogue". I never found out if they tried to or not, although that would have been an entertaining conversation to witness!


That is probably enough box-digging for today, so I'll send you on your way… 
*If you missed the Matilda reference here, watch the link - or better the whole movie*

***

Did you ever have a teacher like Miss Trunchbull

What was you go-to book series as a child? 
(Besides Harry Potter!)

Do you keep some form of Treasure Box? 

Did you ever play Guess Who?
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1 July 2015

Hypo aware in the heat


Kan You believe how hot it is? Mr West is probably attributing it to his scorching performance last weekend… Daily Express journalists are beside themselves with excitement, and health warnings are coming down harder than British rain (which somehow still made an appearance this morning…) 

This post will look specifically through a T1D-tinted lens. In this weather, blood sugar control can often become even more tumultuous (as if we needed an extra inversion on this oh-so-delightfully loopy of roller coasters). 

The common side effect is more frequent hypoglaecemia. For non-diabetics, this is essentially dizziness, headaches, nausea and all round looking a bit punch-drunk. Hence the difficulty trying to get past a club bouncer when you're riding low on a 2.5… Nonetheless, the dehydrating nature of high sugar levels can pose further risks, when coupled with the heat. 

These pointers may seem obvious, but are  crucial not only for staying safe, but ensuring you enjoy the sun without spending hours flopped out on a sofa - the 'hypo hangover' is never enjoyable. 


Don't wait to hydrate!



Staying hydrated is crucial for diabetics, period. Nonetheless, when it's exceeding 30 degrees in the heatwave any trip out should be accompanied with a water bottle - whatever your blood sugar levels are, drinking liquids is crucial! It's no use hydrating only once you feel dehydrated, as by then the damage is largely done.

Moreover, while the heat is more likely to cause low blood sugars, there are always risks for highs. It is essential to jump on this especially quickly, as a side-effect of hyperglaecemia is excessive thirst - not ideal when your body already needs more liquids.

Keep that water bottle handy and drink up - it is also an excuse to invest in a cool new one (adding your own ice) if you need help to stay on tap. 
This might be an old-wive's tale, but I've read a handful of times that diet coke is meant to be good (shock horror) for reyhdrating you when your blood sugar is high. Any drink is good though; ideally a sugar-free one if you're high, for obvious reasons. My current obsession is my signature iced tea… As of this afternoon my mum is officially hooked too! 


The tea total party


Before I lose you all here, I'm not saying diabetes condemns you to a life of mock mojitos and virgin pimms. However, along with heat, alcohol can provoke low blood sugars. Sensible drinking is always advised for diabetics, but the heat makes this more vital - you have a double-whammy trigger after all! 

Before you tear at your hair in despair (was that overkill rhyme? Maybe… Yes…)  there is hope! I go back to my delightful iced tea. The love started when I was in Asia last summer, and has continued on the other side of the globe in earnest. Go to Whittard, or Wilkinson's (I will try not to be a tea snob) and pick out a floral or fruity flavour of your preference - be bold and surprise yourself! 
Mason jars work for any occasion - except if you have my dad round for tea. He doesn't get the Mason life. Small confession, in the lefthand photo I had actually asked for Giraffe to put my wine in a Mason jar… I did say it was for every occasion, right? Nonetheless, it can equally work the other way round…

Shop: Next Quote Wine Glass, £12
Iced green tea in a wine glass! Second confession… I used this because our flat was out of clean mugs. Yet a quote glass is definitely another example of "object for all occasions".

I also love coffee - if you follow my instagram/ twitter/ facebook/this blog… that won't come as too much of a revelation! With the heat, iced coffee is the new pimms. At home, I have an iced latte almost daily and swear by the starbucks instant coffee. The price may seem steep for the whole box, but when you consider that it works out to 40p a cup - pretty cost-effective.




Eat carbs (yes, even before marbs) 


With blood sugars more prone to dipping, ensure your body has sufficient carb fuel. This might seem quite ironic, coming from someone with a history of staunch carb avoidance, but carbs and I are in a better place as of late - a rather low HBA1C was a sobering reminder of why they are so important. 

Some of my go-to snacks are nature valleys, trek/nakd bars, malt loaf and I'm also on a bit of a brioche-hype. The first snack mentioned is also good for being oat-based; lower GI foods are good for diabetics as the glucose is released slower. 
On the subject of oats, I am loving Momma muesli pots lately; a mix of oats, yoghurt and fruit. Yoghurt is also handy for when the heat is swallowing your appetite a bit. It's important to keep snacking, as your body needs a steady stream of carbs to prevent the blood sugar dips. From a recovery point of view, I also know that the can the heat cannot be a reason for restriction - if I can work round the blood sugar bullies, I can work round heat-spells! 


Play it smooth-ie


If your appetite is well and truly shot, a great solution can be smoothies!  I haven't made one recently, but might give it a go as another snack I love is greek yoghurt and fresh fruit (namely berries and banana). 

Adding greek yoghurt to smoothies gives them a wonderful texture, not to mention the slight tanginess if you use greek yoghurt, Add ice cubes, and you have yourself the perfect pick-me to help you beat the heat. 
Shop: Etsy Mason Jar, £8


Pack a snack


Whether is be a snack pack (I recommend mini oreos) or portable-friendly bar (Messrs nature valley and trek to well here), always having a carb-based food item on you when you're out is crucial! 

Even if it's just down to the local shop for emergency diet coke/ ice-cream/ human freezer. Having 'supplies' out with you, as soon as you detect a low, allows you to act then and there; aka, it reduces the length of time you wonder round looking like an Eeeyore-Luna Lovegood hybrid.

credit: giphy.com

On the other hand, the world would be a much better place with more Lunas. Dazed over Draco any day.


***

The sunshine weather is there to be celebrated (despite the likely insistence of The Daily Mail to the contrary). Diabetes shouldn't get in the way of these summer days.  This aside, any excuse to buy another Mason jar… 

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