Monday, 23 June 2014

A makeover for the boudoir

I'm definitely one of those people who really struggles with cleaning out their room. I don't just mean because I'm lazy and messy - I definitely am, both of those things, but it's not JUST because of those unfortunate characteristics that I regrettably embody. It's mostly because I am a gigantic hoarder, and I really struggle with throwing things away. I'm hugely sentimental about inanimate objects, and even clothes - I have T-shirts that I haven't worn since I was 6 (which my now-21 year old body would DEFINITELY reject if I try to put them on) but I refuse to throw out because my Grandad bought them for me when we went to Belgium. I realise it's silly, but I fear that T-shirt with the teddy bears on probably will never leave my possession.

Now, that is all well and good, but now I'm home from Uni I have found myself trapped in a 15-year-old me's bedroom because I've never thrown anything out, and slowly a pile of old junk and new is filling up my floor to a state where even I struggle with being in my room. In order to avoid any further injuries - I've already tripped over my still-unpacked suitcase from uni and given my shin a thwack on the door - it's time to do something.

As well as having a big old clear up and restocking the local Oxfam, I thought it'd be the perfect time to give my room a bit of a makeover. Each year at Uni I have absolutely loved moving into a new room each year, and getting creative with my space. I've been looking up some room design ideas on Google images, and decided I really love these styles:

They're a bit different - the first two are more shabby chic, and the bottom one is more based around the wood. I love elements of both though, and am going to have to get my thinking cap on around how I can bring in my favourite parts of both styles! My current furniture in my bedroom is heavily pine based, so at the moment I'm thinking I'll keep with my furniture (partly due to having a look on the John Lewis website and nearly fainting at the cost of a new wardrobe) but maybe try and accessorise with vintage and shabby chic ornaments and wall art :) it's going to be a looooooong process, but I'll upload photos when I've done! Phew.

Let me know what you think and if you have any ideas! 

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Fault in Our Stars - book review

I’m quite late on the bandwagon, and I must confess I’d only heard about “The Fault in Our Stars” through Twitter. Sorry, English Literature A-Level. But I saw the book for £4 in Asda, and knowing that I had a long train journey the next day (coming home from Uni means a trip from Manchester to Norwich – done it more times than I can count, and I swear it gets longer every time!) I bought it.

I flicked open the front cover on a bench outside the supermarket as I was waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up, and even from the first couple of pages I was absolutely, utterly, completely hooked. The story follows Hazel, a 16 year old girl who has cancer that will inevitably be terminal, but whose life is being prolonged by a treatment called Phalaxifor (a drug that I deeply regret to say is fictional). At the wish of her mother, she attends a support group for young people with cancer, where she meets Isaac and his friend, Augustus. She and Augustus fast form a bond that continues throughout the book, as their lives and relationships progress.

Everything I’d seen about ‘The Fault in Our Stars joked about the necessity of having 5 boxes of Kleenex in arms reach at all times whilst reading it. I was definitely no exception to this rule – I did in fact have to put it to the side whilst on the train because my face began turning unattractively red and blotchy, and I’m afraid my British nature doesn’t allow for any form of public emotion. It IS an incredibly emotional book; however the sadness of the story isn’t what stood out to me, not really. Unlike many other books I’ve read of the same ‘theme’, I felt very much as if I was reading the story of young people who happened to have cancer, rather than a story of cancer patients. By this I mean, the characters were fascinating ones, and the story would have been just as compelling without that tragic element. Hazel is bright, passionate and intelligent, and very much lives her life as a normal teenager. Refreshingly, not a teenager that seems to be “rebelling” – just one who enjoys going to the mall, watching marathons of America’s Next Top Model, and above all, reading. When Isaac loses his sight completely due to his eye cancer (sorry, spoiler alert!) he appears much more upset about being dumped by his girlfriend. And Augustus is probably one of the most charming, generous and charismatic young men I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about.

This isn’t to imply that John Green sugar coats the story – without giving ANYTHING away, he doesn’t, and things that I wished hadn’t happened, happened. He remains startlingly frank and realistic until the end of the book, and I think that’s what I love most about it. The development of relationships was extremely touching, most notably for me between Hazel and her parents, and of course with Augustus. The book isn’t written to be mushy, or overly sentimental – just very real, and I think it’s that realism that draws you into the story and leaves you feeling truly happy to be alive. 

9.5/10 and a pat on the head for you, Mr Green. I can't wait to see if the movie lives up to the book!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Becoming the very best that you can be.

Sometimes life gets stressful and you don’t have a lot of time alone with your thoughts. But since I finished my 3rd year of Uni last week (YAAY!) I’ve had some time to relax and recover, and in wedged in that a bit of thinking time - and in that time I decided on some “life tips” for myself. Nothing revolutionary, or even particularly interesting – but I think they might help me J

·   Before you say something, ask yourself if you’d be embarrassed to have it repeated.  I don’t think there’s a person on earth that hasn’t said at least one thing that in hindsight they are quite ashamed of. Whether it’s a catty comment about a friend, or a joke that could actually be perceived as quite unpleasant. But once it slips out, it’s so easy to get repeated and even passed back to that person. It’s the old “if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Solid advice by Thumper from Bambi there. I know when I say something nice about someone, even if there’s no way they’d find out, it just makes me feel good J so do it for that selfish reason if none other! ;)

·     Try and be a bit healthier. Notice I say “healthier”, not healthy! I am very much someone who loves curling up with pizza and ice cream and completely depriving myself of that may be good for my hips, but would almost certainly make me very sad! But sometimes too much fatty/sugary foods makes me feel gunky, I’m afraid I have no technical term for it. It ends up making me feel lethargic, has nasty effects on my skin and I just generally end up feeling yucky on the inside. I try and balance this with some salads and substituting chocolate for fruit, but I want to start doing more exercise. I love horse riding (which does take a surprising amount of physical effort, despite everyone who says the horse does all the work!) but I want to start going to the gym more. I stopped going this year because my workload and placements stepped up a LOT this academic year, but now it’s summer I have no excuse. Exercise classes keep me motivated and I always leave with endorphins fluttering around me J boxercise, let us get reacquainted.

·         Be someone YOU’D like to spend time with. By that I don’t mean stop being yourself, or pretend to be someone you’re not. But I think it’s easy to assume people will always be there for you, whether its friends, a partner, family. But taking people for granted is something that causes the destruction of so many relationships. If you think of a compliment, say it. If something someone has done has made you smile, tell them. Small gestures mean so much, and even a text message that takes 20 seconds to compose has the potential to turn someone’s day around. If it’s something you’d appreciate, chances are someone else will too!

·         Be grateful for small things. This is bordering on cheesy, and I don’t want to get my snorkel and get too deep now. But I am henceforth going to try and focus on the little positives of my day than the little niggles! I am very much someone who can get bogged down by little worries, and blow them up into big things in my mind rather than thinking “oh well, happened now!” which would be a much healthier thought process. Instead, I want to focus on all the lovely things that happen every day that we take for granted, whether it’s a nice meal, a quick phone call with a friend, or even just some nice weather. It doesn’t have to be a day with a trip to Alton Towers to be amazing/ memorable.

·   Turn negatives into positives. A long and stressful day at work can dictate and ruin your whole day. Or, you can think “I have accomplished so much today and worked so hard, I’m proud of that”.

"The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our cicumstances"
- Martha Washington

"Can we go thrift shopping?!"

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t love a bargain. And anyone who says they don’t is clearly a fibber and cannot be trusted. However, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start for a true bargain. So, as a seasoned bargain hunter myself, I thought I would share 5 quick pearls of wisdom…

Anyone who knows me knows I am absolutely OBSESSED with charity shops. Once you get over the stigma (one of my housemates last year seemed unable to hear the word “charity shop” without informing me that my someone will have died in my latest purchase… sigh) then a world of bargainous beauties awaits! If you have a “granny chic” style, which I do, they are incredible. I have more cosy cardigans than I would dare to count from charity shops, which people always compliment and assume I spent £45 on in Urban Outfitters or Topshop. Try £4.99 from British Heart Foundation! They are also amazing if you can’t decide whether or not you should buy that yellow polka dot dress… even if you wear it once and decide it’s not for you, it will probably have only been a few pounds to a good cause! You can also find some amazing designer goodies if you look hard enough. I have a Dolce and Gabbana sweater (£5.99), a Vivienne Westwood jacket (more expensive at £50, but still not a bad price for a jacket – and 10x less than what you’d pay in Selfridges!) just to name a couple!

2.   Designer outlets
Unlike charity shops, which are all over the place, you might have to have a bit of a drive to an outlet. But often they are really nicely laid out, and you can make a nice day of it! Since I go to University in Manchester, one of my favourite outlets is Cheshire Oaks. It’s set out like a huge square around the carpark, so you’re almost following the yellow brick road of shopping – and it means you don’t miss anywhere! They have an amazing range of shops, from Next to H&M to Burberry. Last time I went with my boyfriend, my bargain of the day was finding a classic Burberry mac, reduced from £995 to £250! Nearly 75% off! Luckily it was coming up to my 21st birthday ;). Designer outlets are like charity shops – you just have to have a good rootle!
Cheshire Oaks - it's so pretty!

3.   Swap clothes with friends
This is an option that doesn’t involve spending ANY MONEY. So it may be veering off a bit, but I thought I’d slip it in anyway because I just did this with one of my best friends J Sometimes your friends clothes that you might love, they will have worn one too many times and got bored of, so it’s time for a switcheroo! It leaves you some room in your wardrobe, as well as giving you new bits for FREE J

4.   Take advantage of promotional offers
Moving slightly away from fashion to beauty, it’s always a good idea to stock up while there’s an offer on. If you’re a fan of drugstore beauty, it sounds obvious but stock up when there’s a 3 for 2! If you’re more into high end bits, sign up to Debenhams and House of Fraser. They often have 10% off for a week, which makes a big difference at some of those prices (I’m talking about you, Chanel.) Alternatively, often counters like Lancome and Clinique have offers where you get a goody bag when you buy 2 or more products. Sometimes the goody bag will be worth more than what you’ve bought! However, don’t be suckered in and buy something just for the sake of getting the freebie… I speak from so, so much experience.

5.   Car boot sales
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Yes, car boot sales can be full of old tat, but if you scour hard enough you can find some incredible bargains! I’ve found brand new make up bits and bobs before, as well as no end of trinkets for my bedroom that just brighten it up. It will add an individual streak to your house as well :) and you never know.. you might accidentally  grab a piece of value!

Where do you find the best bargains? Have you got any tips?
Let me know!

- Jacintha xxxxxx