Sunday 30 January 2011

We're buying and selling your history, how we go about it is no mystery.

When it becomes difficult to close your wardrobe, it's normally a sign. So I'm having a clearout. Take a look - there's lots of Topshop, a little vintage, and some nice shoes!

Also, if I get rid of all this lot, then it's TOTALLY okay to do more shopping again. Hooray!

Friday 28 January 2011

Holding on, for way too long. You're always worth the wait though, I guess.

This is a dress with SKIRTS. I always think about old-fashioned dresses, and how 'skirt' was always plural. 'She gathered up her skirts' - I like that description. It suggests layers, petticoats, pleat upon pleat. SKIRTS. Plus, I love a dress that allows me to do a proper spinny turn. Only a REAL dress fans out around you. That's the rule.

This frock is from Warehouse. Now, I LOVE Warehouse - it's probably my favourite shop, because god, do they know dresses - but it's one of those shops where you can almost definitely bide your time and pick up something you've been coveting but resisting (because perhaps it was a TAD overpriced) in the sale. They have great sales. Case in point - I think this was originally £50 - I got it for £15.

Dress - Warehouse
Shoes & Tights - Primark
Cardigan - Debenhams
Necklace - Topshop
Nails - Parlez Vous OPI?

I wore this out on Wednesday to have drinks and dinner with an old friend (who sadly lives way too far away) and despite being told it looks a little like it was made of curtains, I love it. It's really quite the ladylike number - one of those dresses that makes you feel like you've really made an effort.

I'll be honest, I swapped the heels for my flat grey ankle boots, but I am really having such a grey-on-grey fetish at the moment. Especially teamed with purple.

Oh, and my hair is Default Style #2 (#1 being the messy curly second-day-hair bun). Now it's so long, I basically wear it this way every other day. So easy! Next step: master the fishtail.


Wednesday 26 January 2011

We left our love in our summer skin.

One of my biggest rants is finding a good cardigan. As I wear dresses most of the time, in the winter they're pretty much always teamed with a cardi, so I'm a tad obsessive about them.

I've complained before about round necks - they JUST don't suit me. I think it's a body shape issue - they seem to hide my waist and make me look boxy. Yuck. The other readily available option is long cardigans. My snake-hipped sister is a fan, but on me they hug my hips and bum and basically enhance all the bits that I normally choose clothes to skim! And cropped cardigans make my top half look crazy short. If you're not guessing by now, I'm a LITTLE picky.

Anyway, normal length v-neck cardigans are ridiculously hard to find for such a basic item! So when my lovely friend Anne told me she'd found a black one in Debenhams recently, I stalked it. And found it in lots of other colours! RESULT. I even replaced my much lamented and lost grey cardigan.

And next payday, I'm heading back to Debbo's for the blue and pink ones. Good cardigans are hard to find... I might even buy a second black one. Just in case.

Monday 24 January 2011

What have you done with my landscape, flooding the fields with this clone shape.

I've been planning to do a post on photography in FOREVER. I promised I'd post some Photoshop tutorials way back in June and due to various internet/computer problems it just hasn't happened. Until now!

Anyway, I get asked about my photography a lot, so I thought I'd cover the main points here...

I use a Nikon D40, which I bought in 2009 for about £250 on Amazon. I saved up for it by selling loads of stuff on eBay. At the time, I was hearing a lot of buzz about it, and it is a great little camera - really easy to use.

You can't get the D40 any more other than used, as it's no longer being made, but Nikon have replaced it with the D3000. Honestly, I don't know much about the replacement, but it has pretty good reviews.

I take all my outfit posts using a tripod - this is the one that I have. It's cheap and very light, and folds down nice and small. It's not great for outside photos - in fact, I actually broke my camera last year taking photos outside (I went inside to change and when I came back the tripod had blown over and the lens was broken. Thank god for insurance!). A tripod is great for photos in low light though as with this camera, I find blurriness is the biggest problem, and obviously unsteady hands aren't an issue when you're using a tripod.

I also use a remote - it connects to the camera using infra red, and means that I don't have to reset the self timer every time I take a photo. This is SO USEFUL for outfit photos - and again, super cheap. It's also tiny, so most of the time when I take photos, you can't see it.

Image Editing
I never post a photograph to my blog without doing something to it in Photoshop. Truthfully, I've never really learnt how to use my DSLR, so tend to stick with the auto settings (very bad habit) - but then I jazz them up afterwards.

Here's a simple Photoshop tutorial - this is what I do to most photos, although I do play around with colours and effects, depending on the original picture and the look I'm going for. I'm using Photoshop CS4 but these steps will work in all versions of Photoshop.

Note: Before starting to edit, I always start recording a new action. That way I can just apply the same action to the other images I'm using. Makes life SO much easier. What are actions?

1. Resize & Crop picture as you see fit
2. Adjust Brightness/Contrast (Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast)

3. Make a new layer and fill with a dark blue
4. Set layer to Exclusion (I LOVE THE DARK BLUE EXCLUSION LAYER)

5. Make a new layer and fill with a peach/flesh-tone
6. Set layer to Multiply

7. Duplicate Background layer. Set to Screen.

8. Duplicate Background layer again. Bring to top of all layers. Set to Soft Light.

9. Desaturate Soft Light layer. (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate)

Flatten layers. Sharpen. Save. Done!

(I also added a black gradient over the top as that dangly sleeve was annoying me!)

It's pretty simple stuff - even just those steps can be amended to get totally different results every time.

That's it! I do various other colouring techniques too, so if you'd like more tutorials, let me know and I can always post more! If you've just got Photoshop and are struggling with the basics, I really recommend you go here. It's a LiveJournal community I made a few years ago for Photoshop beginners and covers all the basics.

And finally... THOSE Rounded Corners
I make my rounded corners in a convoluted, far-more-difficult-than-it-should-be way. So rather than posting that, I'm just going to direct you here. Loads of very simple tutorials!

Also if you're craving more, Carrie did a fab tutorial on how she gets her colouring on pics, and there's another great one here by Dirty Hair Halo.

Friday 21 January 2011

She dreams of the roller disco, head full of curls on my pillow.

This is probably my favourite dress. I know I say that almost every week, but this week I REALLY MEAN IT. This is one of my most frequent Monday outfits - it's smart enough for work, easy to accessorise and also does not need ironing. The dresses in my wardrobe that need ironing are always the ones I wear least. Well, after the ones that need dry cleaning. Who can be bothered? It's also casual enough, though, that I don't feel overdressed wearing it at the weekend, either. In short, I wear it a LOT.

I got this in the Dorothy Perkins sale last year, not long after writing this post about how ace their dresses are (and they've suddenly got ace again, so maybe a similar post will be going up soon!). It is extremely comfy and it has cool sleeves that I think are called 'angel sleeves'. Although it is a little baggy on top which I always worry makes my bust look bigger than it is - it doesn't need any help!! Due to my matchy-matchy tendencies, I like the dress best with grey, so it's most frequently teamed with my trusty grey ribbed tights, my loved-and-lost grey New Look cardi and the cameo necklace I featured last week. It just goes perfectly!

Dress - Dorothy Perkins
Tights - Primark
Necklace - Hatfield House

Oh, and this is what my hair looks like when left to its natural devices. At the moment it's got really long, which weirdly makes it more manageable (although my fringe has a life of its own) so I've been wearing it curly more often. It's so much better for my hair, I batter it with my straighteners. I like curly, but it's so unpredictable - I can't help thinking that life would be so much easier if I could just wake up with straight hair every day and go! But I know all you straightees out there would disagree!

Finally, I have a confession to make. I took today's photos last night, at about half ten, after consuming three large glasses of wine. I blame my sister - she is a very bad influence, and I am useless in the face of peer pressure. And when handed a glass of wine. Anyway, so the photos today may look a little tipsy! I tried to delete the craziest pics - I decided to see how cool I look doing karate kicks - turns out, not that cool! Buffy makes it look so easy.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Shake it like a ladder to the sun.

1/1/11 - The morning after
2/1/11 - 25p decorations
3/1/11 - The last lazy day
4/1/11 - Back to work
5/1/11 - Nearly missed today
6/1/11 - The decorations come down
7/1/11 - The blues
8/1/11 - Blog readings
9/1/11 - The haunted tree
10/1/11 - Stunning sunrise
11/1/11 - January conference
12/1/11 - New diary
13/1/11 - Key delivery
14/1/11 - Mystery food in fridge at work
15/1/11 - New shoes!
16/1/11 - Making jewellery
17/1/11 - The most beautiful sales bargain
18/1/11 - Jade green nails
19/1/11 - Eating healthily

I've been meaning to do a Project 365 update post for about 2 weeks and haven't got round to it - so I thought I'd post all of January so far, even though you've already seen the first two. (I'm a completist)

So far it's been easy to keep up the habit - I photograph things most days anyway (I was worried I'd missed the 14th then remembered my iPhone and yes - I'd twitpic-ed the mystery food in the fridge at work. Still no clue what they were...) but I'm sure as I get busier, it'll be harder. I also really have to start taking more exciting photos - I'm not sure how enthralled by a picture of noodles I'll be at the end of 2011!

So is anyone else doing Project 365? How are you doing so far?

Monday 17 January 2011

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Buying a new diary is one of those rituals for me that's either painless or painstaking. Last year, I found a gorgeous diary in Paperchase that I fell in love with instantly - I think I bought it in October! This year, though, I didn't find any that I liked, and thought about just settling for a simple one but... I'm not like that. I figure, a diary has to last all year, and so it might as well be pretty.

Anyway, I scoured the internet, fell madly in love with the Frankie diary as featured by Carrie but refused to pay £30+ for it on eBay (although I think this is a great idea - I wish Lula, Oh Comely, ASOS and Topshop would produce diaries!), and then, in my travels, found the Illustration Now diary. I pondered a bit, but in the end I couldn't resist and picked it up from eBay.

I love it, and it's perfect for me. As I've mentioned, I'm really trying to get back in touch with my arty side this year, so having beautiful illustrations to look at every week should get the inspiration flowing.

And of course, I put the most important date in first. ;)

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