Saturday, 31 August 2013

Books Are Amazing... August Edition!

Hello! Welcome to the August edition of Books Are Amazing. THEY TOTALLY STILL ARE AMAZING. What I super love about this series is all the different perspectives on literature. None of the same books have come up twice. And there's always lots of you willing to post, which is awesome, because I love reading about your favourite books. Nothing makes me happier than people being passionate about books. BECAUSE BOOKS ARE AMAZING. This month's blogger is the lovely Becky from Elderflower and Prosecco. Take it away, Becky!


Hello, I’m Becky, I blog occasionally, and mostly about burgers, coffee, and my gorgeous rabbit, at Elderflower and Prosecco, and tweet about Buffy at @becky_schultz. I have been known to walk into things because my nose was in a book, and I’ve run out of storage space for my books, because I can’t bear to part with any of them. Here are some of my favourites, although quite a few on my favourite books ever list have already been mentioned, so props to previous booklovers!

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast is my all time favourite book ever. I have two copies so I can lend one out and still have one just in case. My non-lending copy falls open to my favourite passage, and pages are trying to fall out. It’s about the birth and life of a boy, heir to a castle whose inhabitants are bound by endless tradition. The story also follows the attempts of a kitchen boy to rise through the echelons of the castle’s society, and the lengths that he goes to in order to achieve this goal. It is a gothic masterpiece, and the imagery is gorgeous. The characters are wonderfully weird, and brilliantly written. Technically Gormenghast is the second book in a trilogy, and second books are rarely the best one, but this is an exception, and it is just perfect. Go read it. Then watch the BBC adaptation. I can’t decide if I love it or hate it.

In The Shape of a Boar by Lawrence Norfolk
In the Shape of a Boar was my favourite holiday book this year. Aren’t holidays great? So much reading time, so little suitcase space. God bless the e-reader. The book starts with an ancient Greek boar hunt, and moves to Paris in the 1970’s, occasionally going back to the same hills in Greece in 1945 along the way. The Boar is a mythical beast sent by Artemis bent on destroying the town of Kalydon. A band of Greek heroes is gathered to hunt and kill the boar. Three and a half thousand years later, the hunt for the Boar of Kalydon is echoed in the post-war poem of Solomon Memel, a Jewish Romanian refugee, who runs to Greece, and witnesses the hunt and death of a Nazi officer. It might be the best book I’ve read all year.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
About 3 or 4 years ago I went through a phase where I only read Russian authors, and I read everything by any Russian author I could get my hands on. It was brilliant. The Master and Margarita has a giant demonic cat with a gun. Do I need to say any more? Well, I will. The Master is an author who disappears and ends up in an asylum after his novel is rejected. His mistress, Margarita, becomes a witch, and makes a deal with the devil to get him back. It is beautifully written, and not everybody has the same name, which is a common problem with Russian novels.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
On Beauty is loosely based on Howard’s End, which, I’m ashamed to admit, I haven’t read. It follows the members of the Belsey family, in a university town near Boston. Howard is a white, British university professor battling with an academic rival, whose family ends up entwined with Howard’s own. Tensions rise, exploring the cultural differences between the UK and USA, and liberal and conservative academic values in the United States. Smith excels at exploring relationships, and this book is a brilliant example of that.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
From the author of The Virgin Suicides (love it) and Middlesex (yep, love that one too), the Marriage Plot is so good my bunny tried to read it by eating the cover. Set in the 1980s, an era of sexual liberation, and feminism, the romantic entanglements of the protagonist, Madeleine, are contrasted with her studies on the marriage plot – the idea of the love story as written in the nineteenth century by Jane Austen. I honestly think Jeffrey Eugenides might be the greatest American author alive. His words are like magic.

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
A cruise ship carrying a handful of people are shipwrecked on the island while the rest of the world is stricken with a disease that leaves all humans infertile. The shipwrecked group are the only fertile humans left, and slowly evolve into a new species, no longer recognisable as human. The novel is narrated by the spirit of a Vietnam veteran, Leon Trout, who died after building the ship in Sweden. Leon stays on the ship, and ends up spending a million years watching the descendants of the shipwreck evolve from humans into aquatic mammals, cursed by the large size of the useless human brain. It’s only wee, read it in a day!

Thank you, Sarah, for letting me gush about books on your blog! If anyone wants to recommend me something lovely, give me a shout, I’d love to hear from you.
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Friday, 30 August 2013

I look like the cat that just ate the canary.


If I was an animal, I'd probably be a cat. I like naps, food, having my hair stroked and sometimes I bite and scratch. So when I saw Lily rocking this dress on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, it was out of H&M and into my wardrobe before you could say a sentence long enough to take up the 20 minutes it took to walk to the shops.

INNIT CUTE THO.

Not only is it adorbs and cat printed - HOORAY - but it's a super flattering cut and that awesome material that doesn't need ironing. NO ONE LIKES YOU, IRONING. I wore this to a family lunch on Bank Holiday weekend and even my 8 month old nephew was admiring it (well, he kept poking the cats on my tum, which I think is a compliment). We went here, and I had steak, and it was goooood.

Tights - Primark
Bronx Chunky Boots c/o Spartoo

I managed to be super sociable last weekend without spending very much money or drinking anything at all, both of which are not at all like me. I stayed out until 4am without drinking alcohol! I'm not sure this has ever been done before! Also, I bought a new chest of drawers. The monstrosity from this post? OUT OF MY LIFE FOR GOOD.

This blog post is very capslocky. BUT MY DRESS HAS CATS ON IT OKAY.
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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Everything I love gets lost in drawers.


I was recently contacted about a new social networking website called BeauCoo. I get a lot of emails about the latest new social media thing and usually ignore them, but this one was a little different. Well, a lot different – because it’s actually offering something new, useful and kind of brilliant.

One of the reasons that I like to read blogs and have given up on magazines is that I like to see clothes on real women. No, I’m not going to start the real women vs models debate because I totally understand the objections to that term. But the issue is that women in photoshoots AREN’T real. Not only are they often very photoshopped – sometimes their shape is completely changed – but there are more low tech ways used to make clothes fit better, like bulldog clips at the back or even good old fashioned sellotape. It’s not real. Bloggers – as far as I know – don’t do that. I find way more out from seeing a dress on one of you guys than anything else.

This is pretty much the point of Beaucoo. It’s a site and app where you can upload your measurements and it’ll link you up with other users who match them. This means that you can view clothes on women with a similar shape to you, and get a better idea of the fit. And then go shopping. When the point of a website is to go clothes shopping, you know I’m in.

I really rate the concept and having played with the app, I’m a convert. They have a great, body positive message, encouraging women to love themselves no matter what size they are. Definitely all for that.

Download the iPhone app here, the Android app here and be sure to check out the #BoPo hashtag on Twitter (that's Body Positive to me and you). Also, if you want to find out more, here's a video about the people behind BeauCoo.


Collaborative post
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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Bird watching.


Every time I go to the beach, I find myself chasing seagulls with my camera. Sure, they're annoying, loud, messy and unhygienic. But set against a blue, blue sky - I just can't stop snapping.

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Friday, 23 August 2013

Hopelessly devoted to you.


The thing with going to lots of weddings is that many of the people getting married are my favourite ladies. Which means just one thing…. HEN DO! I’ve been to tons of hen dos – I even posted about organising one a little while ago – and every one has been different.

Despite the 2 weddings I’ve had this year, I’ve only had one hen do (so far), and that was last weekend. My friend (and boss!) Gemma is getting married next month, and so it was back to Brighton for a proper, old school, tacky hen do. And it was brilliant.

We hired this lovely house on Dean Street which I really recommend. It was 2 minutes walk from the main shopping centre, not far from the beach and about two doors away from McDonalds. You can’t ask for much more, can you? It fit 10 of us in easily too – I so much prefer staying in houses to hotels at hen dos as it’s much more sociable. Also it means you can have pyjama parties!

On Saturday we went to Bar 76 for their Coyote Ugly class. It was SUCH a good activity. For a super reasonable £33 each, we got a 2 hour dance class with Roxy, taking it in turns to dance ON THE BAR. They’ve kitted it out with a non stick, non slip surface and a bar to hold onto, so we could really channel our inner Coyotes.

Plus, in the evening, we returned to the bar where we got VIP treatment (including a huge reserved area) and then performed the dance in front of a crowded bar at around midnight. Honestly, I was kind of worried I would find the whole thing cringey and would hate it, but it was so much fun and a surprising rush getting up on the bar to dance. I really, really recommend.

I know what you’re thinking ‘But Sarah, this is Friday Frocks! Where’s the Frock? WHERE’S THE FROCK?’ Here is the Frock, my friends:


Dress - Topshop
Tutu & Tshirt - Not sure sorry!
Shoes (not visible) French Sole ballet pumps c/o Spartoo

I know what you’re thinking ‘But Sarah! That’s a skirt and top!’ Damnit, you caught me. But I wore them OVER a frock (that tutu was far too short to contain my bum) so it still counts. This frock! The girls added the stickers to the vest tops themselves and along with the little tutus and adorable hats, we had a whole burlesque thing going on. Which I think is why the dancing wasn’t as cringey as I thought it would be, because being in costume kind of felt like a disguise.

I’m only just about recovered, but it was an awesome weekend. The perfect combination of fun things to do and down time. We had time to wander round the shops, go to the beach and even hang on the pier. Bloody lovely.


I’ve decided that as I go to so many hen dos, I want to compile my experiences somewhere. So I’m going to start a blog about them. I'll be sharing the link here really soon!
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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Beautiful neighbourhood.

Lately I've been feeling a little blue about my living space. Our tiny house is adorable, don't get me wrong, but it's just that one word... TINY. My housemates and I all struggle with it, which does at least mean that we have pooled our resources and added loads of cool stuff to the downstairs (even if it is just because it won't fit upstairs!).



Candle Holder - Laura Ashley
Lamp c/o Out There Interiors
Painting by my Dad

My room is the part that frustrates me - kind of obvs, I guess, as I spend most of my time here. When we moved in, I got donated a couple of chest of drawers and a wardrobe that weren't completely my taste, but it's hard to turn down free stuff, isn't it? Even if you're not mad on it.

So I have mixed feelings about the fact that one of my chest of drawers is falling apart. Part of me is annoyed - everything JUST fits in here! But the other part is kind of pleased, because it's finally an excuse to replace the drawers I really don't like.


Partly I just want to go to ikea and invest in something lovely and classy like this, but I'm trying to save less at the moment so this weekend I'm going secondhand hunting, starting with the Emmaus Trust, a charity which sells second hand furniture. Great idea, non? I also means is might get something slightly better quality than, er, this.


I've been reading lots of Buzzfeed lately - like a LOT - seriously, I could lay my hands on about eighty hilarious cat GIFs right now. But there's some super useful stuff on there too, including this great article on space saving which has made me want to go storage crazy. And this one! I'm going to add hooks to every surface! PRACTICAL.
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Friday, 16 August 2013

It must be love, love, love.


Do you think there’s still a Thing about meeting friends online? I kind of think there is, way more so than online dating. I don’t really get it – I’ve never met a boyfriend online (although I’ve been on dates) but Internet Friends? I’ve got dozens. And bloody good ones, too.

You know some of them – you ARE some of them. People like Amy, Sarah or Hayley – we’ve been in each other’s houses, shared our deepest darkest secrets. Sarah invited me to her wedding and we’d only met in person once! It doesn’t matter that we met through a computer – some of my Internet Friends know me better than some of my RL ones. And full disclosure? There are a bunch of people I didn’t meet through the super cool medium of fashion blogging – nope. Much geekier than that. And I’m kind of proud of it.

These girls? I met them on the Bronze Beta message boards. We bonded over a mutual love of Buffy and drinking. Basically, if you like Buffy and drinking, I’ll probably like you. These are my standards. The ladies I was here with, though, were Harry Potter friends. As a bored 18 year old in my first desk job, I quickly discovered there’s a wealth of time to be wasted online and the official Harry Potter board on the WB website was my fave. That was over ten years ago and we still see each other regularly.

But this post isn’t about those internet friends. It’s about this pair. I met James on that HP board too, and we bonded over a mutual love of Simpsons quotes and making fun of stupid people. And when I met his girlfriend Lenny, I kind of fell in love (because she’s one of the BEST ONES). These are the people that travelled all the way from Dundee to Exmouth to hang out with me at uni without us having met in person before. They’re pretty much wonderful, and they got married at the weekend.


Did you know I love a wedding? DID YOU? I do, always, but what I love more than the wedding of one of my best friends is the wedding of TWO of my best friends. Is there anything that can beat that feeling of just ‘I LOVE YOU BOTH SO MUCH AND YOU LOVE EACH OTHER AND YOU ARE BOTH SO HAPPY OH GOD NOW I AM CRYING’. I’m pretty sure there isn’t! And I’m lucky, I get to go through it again in October when two of my other best friends get married. GOD I LOVE WEDDINGS. I think I sometimes come across as a bitter singleton, and sure, Valentine’s Day annoys the crap out of me, but nothing warms my heart more than two people FINDING each other and celebrating that. That’s why I do believe in weddings and I do believe in marriage, because I think it’s a celebration of that love.

James and Lenny’s wedding was just perfect. The ideal combination of happy crying, crazy dancing and red wine. It just made me JOYFUL.

Dress - Red Herring via Debenhams
Blazer c/o Clothing At Tesco
Vivienne Westwood & Melissa shoes of dreams c/o Spartoo

I had a dress panic, and eventually settled on one that I pulled out of the depths of my wardrobe (I last wore it around four years ago!). I’d forgotten how much I love it, and it got so many compliments. Also, I wore these FIT shoes which matched perfectly! Oooh, I love a good match.

Last time I wore my beautiful Vivienne Westwood shoes, they ripped my poor feet to shreds. It was the first outing for this pair, so I gave Compeed’s anti blister stick a go. IT’S AMAZING. That sounds sponsored – it’s not, apparently Boots own brand is also awesome! It saved my poor feet and meant I could wear my beautiful shoes well into the dancing. I just want to tell the world how life changing this stuff is.

It was a wonderful day and a wonderful night and even the hangover wasn’t so bad. I’m so happy for my friends. Love is bloody fabulous.

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