November Favourites (Blogmas Day One)

tumblr_lwmip92Vek1qchzcgo1_1280.pngHappy Blogmas Day One!

(Oh hi! Little introduction to Blogmas here! This is just a little pledge to finish off the year with a blogging bang (no sexual undertones there), by getting involved in this festive tradition! Blogmas or its YouTube equivalent Vlogmas, is an effort to record something seasonal in every day of December, if possible, as a sort of novelty Advent Calendar. It’s one of my favourite parts of the season since Crabstickz’ Advent Calendar of many Christmas Pasts. Now I can’t quite guarantee that I will be able to post EVERY day, or that each post will be massively festive as I will be working rather a lot over the holidays…but it is the effort that counts! So come in, and know me better man! As I endeavour to drive myself crazy with this writing task! Bear with me as the quality inevitably dwindles!)

ANYWAY

It’s time for my November Favourites! Don’t lie, you’ve been anticipating this mediocre celebration of consumerism from myself, weren’t you? November was a month of new starts. I recommenced two courses that I had previously abandoned in fits of self-doubt. I told myself that I just wasn’t worthy of even trying, as failure is inevitable. But I actively kicked myself in the head (metaphorically, as flexibility would not permit) and thought so long as I am still here, there is no shame in making an effort, regardless of the outcome. God I’m just a pinnacle of positivity aren’t I? My boyfriend started a new job, and I am immensely proud of him, a new chapter has been a long time coming. I gave the gym another whirl, and stepped it up a notch by actively planning my workouts. I do feel better for it. And I started crocheting, and it’s bloody hard, and I still don’t quite get it, but it’s something I’ll keep attempting. That ball of wool represents my goals in life, in that it’s up to me to make them happen, and make them interesting. If I drop them on the floor then I need to pick them back up. Things can get tangled up, but I can work the knots out, or cut my ties and start afresh. Had enough of this woolly analogy? Let’s begin the post.

1: TV Show: Orphan Black

My good friend Rachel introduced me to this show in a traditional fangirling manner, and I am ever grateful for her reviews, as I am now somewhat hooked. Every now and then you find a show that will validate your usage of Netflix, and at the moment this is it. A perfect blend of sci-fi, crime, comedy and slightly dodgy but forgivable accents from an excellent cast, the obvious frontrunner being Tatiana Maslany. So many personas, always eyebrow-perfection. Jordan Gavaris is also brilliant as Sarah’s foster brother Felix. You can’t help but fall in love with the ridiculousness of everything.

2: Books: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

I was overjoyed to receive a gorgeous boxset of Ransom Riggs’ peculiar stories, complete with vintage spines and a selection of Victorian photocards, the subjects of which form the basis of characters. I love the concept of these found photographs being brought to life in this fantasy world, and the stories are so well crafted. It tugged on my Gothic heartstrings which first formed a love with A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s X-Men on a Welsh island with creepy children.

3: Music: Elle King

This sassy lady has been well-known for a while, but she has formed my internal soundtrack for the past month. I first witnessed her perform on The Graham Norton Show (a show I love eternally), and I was transfixed by her fuck-it-all persona, smoky belting voice and doe-eyed charm. I work in a cinema and one of her songs played over the credits for this Summer’s Ghostbusters effort (which I actually thoroughly enjoyed), and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. There is a country twang to some of her songs on the Love Stuff album, and if you close your eyes you’re in a sticky bar in South Carolina.

4: Fitness: Cassey Ho

Pop Pilates has become my in-between gym days routine, as Cassey’s videos are always entertaining, encouraging and bite-size at a general running time of 20 minutes. I’ve always loved pilates and though I may not be the most flexible or have immense ab-crunching stamina, it always relaxes me and I feel thoroughly stretched and happy afterwards. Cassey is so motivating as this clearly means the world to her, having been through the process of eating disorders and a skewed body image – now it seems that the motivation to exercise is to be HAPPY and proactive.

5: TV Show: Planet Earth II

My boyfriend and I always look forward to a weekly episode of Planet Earth and the subsequent filming diaries. This week’s episode zoned in on desert wildlife, and just how bloody hard it is to form sustainable life in such a harsh environment. The number of times we stare at the screen and announce “THAT DOESN’T LOOK REAL!” has become obnoxiously common, but it’s very true. Everything looks immensely beautiful and horrifying and wonderful. Big love for the golden moles this week.

6: Film: Arrival

This was a really interesting take on the language barriers formed in terraforming alien invasions. Nothing massively groundbreaking but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the process of establishing the motivations of these beings, and the casting was excellent.

7: Education: Tofugu

I am attempting to learn Japanese, and this website has been one of my favourites. If anything it presents itself as accessible Pocky-packaging, kawaii and colourful, and there are so many interesting articles on Japanese life, etiquette, and traditions, as well as an incredibly helpful guide to learning Hiragana and Katakana.

8: Dress Most Wanted: Lindy Bop “Grey” Yellow/Black Polkadot

Ah the Lindy Bop sales. Do I trust them? I’m not quite sure. In the past I’ve fallen in love with sale dresses, paid for them and then informed several weeks later that they are out of stock, and a refund would be organised once the backlog of complaints were dealt with. The sizes are also a bit unreliable in my experience. But they are just so damn GORGEOUS.

9: Clothing: Red Cord Skirt from Primark

I think this skirt was about £9, and it has probably been my most worn item of clothing in November. It’s cord, button up, A-line and forgiving around my thigh chunk, and the most festive shade of mulled wine. I don’t need to iron it, always a bonus in my books, and I tend to wear it with a loose checked shirt tucked in. Utmost comfort.

10: Food: McDonald’s Festive Cheese Bites (shame on me)

The other night I finished work and walked past a McDonalds. I then backtracked and walked inside, ordered two bags of festive bites and then walked out with a balance of triumph and shame. I told myself I wouldn’t order McDs again, and yet here I am. I could faintly hear the bells of the Shame Lady from Game of Thrones following me home. They are to me, not remotely festive but they are delicious and cheesy and everything I want.

11: Drink: Earl of Grey Teabags

These pyramid teabags from Joe’s Tea Company were delivered to me as part of my November Book & A Brew subscription box, and I have very nearly finished the box. They are DELIGHTFUL. They remind me of this gunpowder flavour I once tried at my local teahouse, slightly smoky and full of flavour.

 

My farewell to November is this. Thursday the 3rd was a day of making pumpkin, ginger and shallot soup with my partner. I dyed a stripe of blue in my hair, in homage to winter’s arrival. An evening of ginger parkin and custard followed, Strictly and blankets to honour Bonfire Night in a more comforting way. On Monday the 21st we had The November Tempest, a day when it did not stop pouring down and we all returned home with ice-cold foreheads, awaiting that first divinely hot shower after coming in from a storm. Fantastic Beasts and my own fantastic failures on the 17th. Smoky-mustard coloured skies and the ladybird who found a home on our light fitting. Trying to understand Westworld and sorting through my memory box. Writing job applications with shaking hands. Crafting Christmas presents and feeling like a child. My anxiety has not plagued me anywhere near as much as in previous months, and though I’m struggling to understand the cause of this, I am so grateful that I have ventured this step forwards. Thanks for letting me take part, November. I’d say my spirit animal was something along the lines of Slash brooding outside a church with his guitar, while a helicopter whirls around him, throwing dust in his hair, Slash all the while giving no fucks whatsoever.

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Bon voyage, November Rain!

Rosie

x

 

October Favourites

Konnichiwa!

As my partner and I enjoy our Introverted Nerd Time, the former playing Skyrim with an adorably concentrated solemnity, and the latter scribbling ideas into her planner to the soundtrack of Eddie Lang, it dawned on me that my October favourites remains neglected in the back corner of my mind. The last few soot sprites of my birthday month scurrying away into obscurity! Come back little soot sprites! So that I may review thee!

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So October was a month of quite a few setbacks for me, which I sometimes let dishearten me, however one of my “what have I learned” points was that letting go of certain things IS possible for me, it just requires continuity and practice, I can’t lose touch of my coping strategies and hope everything will sort itself out organically, after I’ve addressed it just the once. I don’t know if this is making any sense, but there were odd moments of feeling almost proud of myself for taking active steps towards taking care of myself. I even tried to mirror one of these ‘letting go’ moments in reality, by walking down to my local charity shop and handing over a box of dresses and things that a) did not fit me anymore, b) didn’t make me feel good or c) I thought others would get more use out of. It felt symbolic and yes, a tad self-righteous, but it was nevertheless productive for me. I practically skipped back home as if I had thrown a heavy burden into the fires of Mordor, and I could burst through the doors of The Green Dragon and request a draught of the healthiest self-esteem. It comes in pints!

(I will postpone further rambling and delve straight into what I loved in October.)

  1. YouTube: Emma Blackery

It’s fair to say that Emma is pretty damn well-known in the YouTube community, with a shedload of subscribers and various sub-channels, but for a  good reason. I would describe her as a “candid creative”, in that she is incredibly frank and sincere, and yet always willing to adapt to her environment and re-assess her views based on her experiences. It’s a delicate balance that few people manage to reach. She is probably more famed for her comedy skits and sassy Q&As, but I am more of a fan of the likes of her sub-channels ‘Vloggery’ and ‘Boxes of Foxes’ (which is unfortunately now defunct), which was more of a heart-to-heart setup of speaking openly about topics such as depression, self-harm, anxiety and sexual confusion. She has also had more wigs, hairstyles and colours than I have ever known of any other human, and she always looks fantastic.

2. Food: Urban Fudge

This is a company based in County Durham specialising in delicious hand-made fudge. I bought some at a farmers’ market recently, and after demolishing half a box over the past couple of weeks, I would definitely recommend the cappuccino, with a warm glass of milk, and the vanilla-orange, which incidentally bore a remarkable resemblance to a block of mild cheddar, until I bit into it of course. Just, the creamiest.

3. Theatre: The staging of ‘Mary Poppins’

An old uni friend invited me to watch this production in Newcastle for her birthday, and I was admittedly ever-so-slightly unenthused about the show. Not because I don’t care for Mary Poppins, but because it’s very dear to my heart, and something I don’t want to be further meddled with (see Emma Thompson’s portrayal of P.L.Travers in Saving Mr. Banks). I was proven wrong, not particularly by the script or the performances other than Mary herself, and Mrs Banks – but by the fantastic staging and special effects. It is constantly impressive, with all sorts of trapdoors and gravity-defiance and clever choreography. 17 Cherry Tree lane is beautifully imagined and just the sight of the house itself got me a tad emotional, all of which is excellent for a touring show.

4. Drink: Tea with jam

Apparently it is a Russian custom to drink your tea with jam. Admittedly our version of this custom lacked the authenticity of an antique samovar, as well as the accompanying market-bought spice cakes. Also, the combination of black tea with cherry jam was traded for milky tea with raspberry jam. I have also heard it’s supposed to be more of a spoonful of jam in your mouth, washed down with tea sort of situation, but nevertheless we stirred ours in with gusto, and it was a deliciously subtle sweetness that I much prefer over sugar itself.

5. People: Kevin Clifton

If I might rephrase, Kevin Clifton encompasses the Clifton Holy Trinity, that is including his beautiful wife Karen, and adorable sister Joanne, all of whom are my Strictly favourites, and wonderfully talented, hilarious people. To take the tone down to a smidge of smut, Kevin has one of the best bums I have ever seen.

6. TV: Luke Cage

Marvel Netflix Originals are always highly anticipated in our household, but we always like to spread them out a little as they are so far apart. We started Luke Cage on the 30th of September, and three weeks later we were finished. (There was a previous incident in our Jessica Jones phase when we were just about to finish the season and then our internet was brutally cut off for no reason, for a good two weeks. So there’s always an added element of fear in the final episode for us.) My brief review is this: The casting and the soundtrack, and the bluesy-sepia-toned setting of Luke Cage was fantastic, and wonderfully subtle. However, the last third of the season I was not a fan of, as it took a very pantomime turn.

7. Film: My Scientology Movie

Due to a little error at our local cinema it turned out that we watched the Q&A before the film itself, which was slightly confusing, but it did not tarnish the impact of Louis Theroux’s latest gift to the world of devil’s advocate journalism. We watched it on Halloween, and it was genuinely frightening…the “Squirrel Busters” in particular were horrifying. What I loved the most was the concept of making a documentary about not being permitted to make a documentary, or not being given the light of day to access any interviews with Scientologists to shed some clarity on a religion still in its infant stages. The denial of access itself actually led to a pretty funny scene in which Louis confidently debated his right to use a public road, with the utmost sass.

8. TV: Taskmaster

A gameshow that was created by Alex Horne during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010, and hosted by himself and a bethroned Greg Davies, the concept is as simple as it sounds. Five comedians are given the most bonkers of timed tasks to complete to please the taskmaster, and win a prize collectively donated by the contestants themselves. Tasks include identifying the contents of pies without breaching the pastry; conceal an entire pineapple on your person; placing three exercise balls on a yoga mat, on top of a hill on a windy day. I think my favourite series was the second, the contestants being Doc Brown, Jon Richardson, Catherine Ryan, Joe Wilkinson and Richard Osman. It’s bloody hilarious.

9: Book: The Lie Tree

This was a slow-paced read for me, as I would only dip into a chapter or two nightly. This method really appealed to me, as it felt as though I were reading a Victorian penny dreadful in bite-size serialised episodes. The tree that offered fruitful truths when it had been fed with whispered human lies, was a very interesting take on religion and fraud, constantly embittered with shocking revelations of protagonist Faith’s family. Not my usual cup of tea, but it catered to my Halloweenish urges.

10: Beauty: Honey Trap

My favourite Lush lip balm of all time was one called Maple Taffy, which I think was a seasonal offering of theirs, and I can still taste it now. It takes me right back to my first year of university. Isn’t it wonderful how strong a memory a particular scent can evoke? The closest readily-available alternative I have found is Honey Trap, which has the same soft brown sugar texture, and smells (and tastes) of honey and mint. Very refreshing, and doesn’t leave my lips shiny. Would buy in bulk if I could.

So there we have it! I apologise that I can never seem to write short blogs, I have no anti-ramble filter in place at the moment. Here’s to November! My favourites are already accumulating.

Rosie

x

 

 

September Favourites

Konnichiwa!

Welcome to the first edition of my Monthly Favourites: September. Clearly late. A damn good type of month, arguably one of the better ones if you’re talking about plosive pronunciation. Three dashing syllables of Autumnal heraldry! It makes me think of embers in a sept – a fiery redheaded Scottish clan collecting coins for the Jacobites. Sexy Outlander reference there. It’s been a month of minor changes and progress, mainly centred around my commencement of Bullet Journalling – probably another post in itself. So my mascot for the month was a little geometric fox, beautiful and fierce and fragile and admittedly foxy. Let’s dig in, shall we?

  1. Television: The Great British Bake-Off

We had a legitimate launch party for the Bake Off this year and it was the most delicious little night – this might convey just how excited this programme makes me. Obviously due to some element of sheer madness and utmost treason the show will be shortly disbanded, and cut up into futile little vol-au-vents of its former gloriousness. I choose to watch this series in denial of this fact. May the illegitimate sexual chemistry between Selasi and Benjamina continue to delight us all.

2. YouTube: Jenny Mustard

I have never been so fascinated by someone whose life and principles are so utterly different to mine. Jenny is a Swedish vegan food/lifestyle vlogger and minimalist. The reason I watch her videos is because I find them incredibly calming (I think the accent is 87% of this), and everything looks so monochromatic and uncluttered, and delicious in pretty much all cases. I fully intend to attempt her recipe of fettuccine twirls with garlicky purple cabbage and cheesy chickpea sauce. Divine!

3. Film: Kubo & The Two Strings

Whimsical and elegant and straightforward yet painstakingly gorgeous. Watch it mainly for Kubo’s artful origami-samisen storytelling.

4. Film: Morgan

I’ve heard this small film garnered mixed reviews, but I loved it. Admittedly I may have glossed over several plot errors due to RACS (Ridiculously Attractive Casting Syndrome), but it was still a very interesting violent take on sci-fi.

5. Film: Bridget Jones’ Baby

I can’t remember the last time the anticipation and delivery (ha) of a film brought me so much joy. It’s not even close to a guilty pleasure, I bloody love Bridget Jones.

6. Food: Al Forno Pizza.

I went to the theatre with my partner this month to see a play called Mindgame, which was completely bonkers, and with our tickets we received a voucher for 2-for-1 on Pizzas and Pastas at Al Fornos. A heavenly proposition. After much deliberation we decided on a seafood pizza for him, and a prosciutto and rocket pizza for myself. DIVINE! It helped that we were situated on a table in what we liked to call Foodporn Alley, right next to the kitchen. That’s the stuff.

7. Food: Cooplands Pokeball Shortbread

To actively consume my repressed anger at not being able to play Pokémon Go on my ridiculous Windows Phone, I bought myself a Pokeball biscuit. My review: It was good.

8. Drink: Short Mile Bay Merlot

Partnered with the pizzas – we will always go for the house wines, doesn’t everybody? It was scrumptious, and didn’t leave that familiar bitter taste in my throat – it was almost creamy, and vanillary, and just marvellous.

9. Skin: Vita Coco Coconut Oil

I started moisturising my body using coconut oil, which I thought would be pretty perilous as I have pretty ridiculously sensitive skin. I was proved wrong, it is particularly perfect for my dry legs and has caused no flare-ups thus far. I mix a little vanilla essential oil with it to give it more of a fragrance kick.

10. Dress Most Wanted: Dolly Dagger “Lulu”

As I recall this dress was around £140 – absolutely would not buy, I am far too clumsy and prone to dribbling tea down myself to fork out on such an extravagance. However, it is beautiful and I can’t help but swoon.

I’m not 100% sure on the layout of this Monthly Favourites blog, but I am not going to let significant room for tweaking stop me from doing it altogether. I’ve had some wonderful memories this month, including skipping down my student mainstreet with my partner, wearing my green polkadot LindyBop dress and not having a care in the world, pretty damn tipsy after wine tasting with the most delectable cheeseboard. So here’s to September, and as always, to cheeseboards.

I’ll be back soon with another blog.

Rosie x