Saturday, 29 November 2014

Racing Against Time

     In a not-so-crazy plot twist, the semester is over! Ok, I guess that’s not really a plot twist, it was always going to end. But what I can’t get over right now is how quickly it’s gone. People always talk about how fast time flies, especially the older you get, but this time it’s gone ridiculously quickly. Maybe this is just because I’m so nervous about university being over, that it’s flying by even faster than before.

Old fashioned vintage style clock face
     There’s been lots of moments in my life when I’ve said similar things: Can you believe we’re starting high school? Can you believe we’re leaving high school? Can you believe I’m going on my year abroad? And now, can you believe I’m almost finished university? Four years sounded like a long time, three and a half years ago, and now I only have one semester left until it’s all over. In many ways, I’m ready to be finished with education, and move on to new things; it just scares me that I don’t know what those new things will be.

     I guess it’s time like these when the saying “Life is short” becomes particularly relevant. When it feels like time really is moving this quickly, I worry that I won’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do in life. We always say “some day” but what if some day never comes, until you realise you don’t have any “some days” left. And while we might think we have all the time in the world, you never know when it could suddenly be cut short.

     So I guess “Carpe Diem!” is the way forward. If life flies by this quickly, we need to make the most of it. Take every opportunity that comes long, as you might not get that chance again. I’m pretty sure that when I look back on my life, I’m far more likely to regret the days I wasted doing nothing, than the ones where I hauled myself out of bed and did something (although we all need a day off every now and then). Not every day can be a crazy, exciting adventure, but we should at least try to do something interesting. We’re in a race against time, so we need to make every second count.

     And although being this close to finishing university and facing the big, bad, real world absolutely terrifies me, maybe that’s a good thing. Doing the things that scare us often end up creating the best memories. I’ve been in education for nearly my whole life; I think it’s about time I “seize the day” and do something new and different and a little scary. Chances are it’s lead to something far more interesting than what my life’s been so far. As for what new adventure I choose, I’ll let you know when I figure that one out…

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas Candles

     Oh dear, I've got a post with the word "Christmas" in the title and it's still only November! To be fair, candles are not solely a Christmas thing for me. I was never particularly interested in them for a long time, but this winter I've suddenly started using lots! I'm a nostalgic for things like real paper books and physical music collections (see this post for more!) so candles seem to fit in with that well. I love the warm, flickering light they give off, and I choose lots of scented ones which make my bedroom smell wonderful! I recently picked up some more festive scents, among others.

Tea light in white patterned ceramic candle holder

Plain white and purple scented tea light candles

White ceramic candle holder with plain & scented tea lights

     I usually have 3 candles in my room, in the various holders I have. The first is this little white one,  given to me as a gift, which makes patterns when the light shines through the holes. It's best suited to tea lights, and I usually just go with white, unscented ones, as they burn out so quickly that I can't spend loads on nice scented ones all the time. However, I was looking at the candles in Primark and decided to get these Vanilla & Violet scented purple ones, since they were pretty cheap, and I thought I'd treat myself to some more nice scents for around Christmas time.

Red pillar scented candle in glass hurricane jar

Red and purple scented pillar candles

Red scented pillar candle lit in glass hurricane jar

     I got this hurricane jar from John Lewis to hold larger candles, as I used to have this huge blueberry one, given as a gift, and needed something to put it in. The glass means you get the flickering flame effect, rather than the glow my smaller ones make. Also, I prefer coloured candles for this one, since you can see through it. This red one should see me through the Christmas lead-up, since it has an appropriate winter berry scent. And the Serenity black cherry coulis one, while less festive, smells amazing, even though I haven't lit it yet. It's more for after Christmas, but may get lit before if I use up the red one.

Yankee scented votive candles with purple patterned candle holder

Yankee scented votive candles

Red and white Christmas scented candles in glass holders

Scented votive candle lit in purple patterned fabric candle holder

     The last candle holder was another gift, and I love the quirky, handmade fabric casing around it (there's a glass inside for the candles of course!) which looks pretty even in the daylight, with the candle unlit. I've found votive candles are the best size for this, and it's easy enough to clean out the wax from the glass when they're done. Since I have the same scent for a long time with the other candles, I like to keep mixing up scents with these, so Yankee has good offers for buying several different ones at once. Lake Sunset is a particular favourite of mine from them, but I think Cranberry Ice will be nice for nearer Christmas. I also got these Christmas candles from Primark (they don't have any other scent description), which I may light as they are, since they have nice patterned glass, but could also fit in this holder.

Tea Lights - Coley & Gill Unscented (Poundland), Primark Vanilla & Violet
Pillars - Primark Warm Winter Berry, Serenity Black Cherry Coulis (Pounstretcher)
Votives - Yankee Midnight Oasis, Black Coconut, Lake Sunset & Cranberry Ice, Primark Christmas Scented Trio

Monday, 24 November 2014

Outfit of the Day - Regal Purple

     Today's outfit is so-named because I think the bold colours look very rich and almost regal - purple is the colour of royalty! I think the dark colours are great for winter months, and the dress is bright enough to make a statement amongst the black. It's also a nice thick dress for winter, and pairing it with sturdy, black boots makes it even more suitable. I love this bold necklace too, a little larger than the pendants I normally go for, but it makes a strong statement amidst a strong-coloured outfit.

outfit of purple dress, black woollen cardigan & boots

outfit of purple dress, black woollen cardigan & boots

black and silver triangular pendant on purple dress

silver leaf ring with black nail polish & purple dress

tall black leather riding boots

outfit of purple dress & black boots

Dress - H&M, Cardigan - LaRedoute, Tights - Marks & Spencer
Boots - LaRedoute, Necklace & Ring - Forever21
Wristband - Help for Heroes, Nail Polish - 'Blackout' by Rimmel

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Five Coming-of-Age Type Novels

     I may not be a teen myself any more, but a lot of the issues and anxieties I faced then still crop up in my life now. I’ve also read my fair share of teen and young adult fiction, and I really love the coming-of-age style genre. Fiction serves a whole host of functions, from being relatable and realistic, to inspiring and escapist. So, here are my suggestions for novels you should read as a teen or young adult.

1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On The Road by Jack Kerouac book cover

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

642 Things - Dancing About Architecture, Writing About Music

Elvis Costello said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Discuss.

     Various art forms exist in our world, as means of expressing ourselves, from painting and drawing, to acting and dancing, to music and writing. But can we combine any of these to explain the others. Can you dramatise a painting? Can you dance about architecture? Can you write about music? We combine the latter two in the form of songs, setting our words to music. Songs are a different type of expression to prose writing however; they use a more poetic language, giving us a freedom of expression, driven by imagery rather than plot much of the time.

     But why did we feel the need to set our words to music? Why not just write poetry? Music has existed for hundreds of years (with and without lyrics!), so it clearly appeals to the human race. Who among us doesn’t listen to music in some way every single day? What is it about music that we enjoy so much? And how do I go about trying to explain this?

     When asked to describe a piece of music we can use various approaches; we can use the technical vocabulary of music, we can try to describe the style and mood of the piece, we can talk about the images and emotions it conjures up for us. But no amount of words will have the same effect on someone as if they were to listen to the same music themselves. Like all art forms, music is subjective and we all react differently to it. What one person loves, another may hate. To read about a piece, rather than hear it, we are experiencing it second hand, coloured by someone else’e opinions of it. Only by listening yourself can you really understand what the music is.

     Music can affect us profoundly. Many people will claim that a certain band or piece of music changed, or even saved, their life. I’m reminded of another quote, from Victor Hugo, which translates as “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words, nor remain silent”. Music is an outpouring of emotion that we can’t always express in words. As an aspiring writer, words are usually what I turn to first when seeking to express something. Others turn to other mediums, such as art or dance - yet even people who aren’t musical, probably listen to music. The melodies and songs created by others can speak to us, and we can discover that someone else has managed to express what we could not. I even struggled to choose an image for this post, as nothing visual seems to entirely encapsulate what music is and what it does.

     Although I am musical, having played piano for years, I’ve never been one for writing music or lyrics; prose is my medium of choice. But I’ve often found inspiration in songs, as they’ve prompted new ideas or emotional responses. And of course, I still enjoying playing the compositions of others. But the music I listen to helps me every day. There are songs out there to suit my every mood, and which express emotions in a more poetic manner than I can myself. Music flows in and out of you, surges up and bubbles over, stirs your body and mind. There is a heart and soul to music that is almost inexplicable. It lives and breathes and pulses with energy, it traverses languages and continents. But, even though I can write and write about this topic, if you’ve never had this same experience or connection to music, then I’m not sure you will fully understand what it is I mean.

     So, there it is. I’ve tried writing about music. I think I’ve managed to express some of my thoughts about it. But there’s so much more to it that I don’t know how to explain. Music elicits a hugely emotional response in me, which has to be experienced first hand. Words may be my means of expression, and serve me well most of the time; but sometimes, though I can neither understand nor explain it, music does something much greater.

For more 642 Things to Write About posts, click here.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Outfit of the Day - Winter Warmth

     Is it cold where you live? It's freezing here! Scotland by no means gets the coldest winters in the world, but it does get pretty chilly. This week's outfit is a little different then, since I'm sharing my outdoor wear. I love the colour of my winter coat, as it makes these darker days a little brighter and cheerier. I have several hats, scarves and gloves, many of which were gifts, but all in similar styles. I like these floppy beret-esque hats, which I think suit me well, but of course everyone has to have a beanie in their collection too! Sometimes I find scarves to be too stifling, so I like ones which are warm without being too thick, and these long ones are great for winding round and round. I really like fingerless gloves, as I like having my fingers free to do things - they just get shoved in pockets when they get too cold! I also have these boot toppers, which serve little practical purpose but are fun, and look wintery and festive.

outdoor winter outfit of turquoise blue coat and brown leather boots with white fluffy toppers

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Musically Inspired - Compassion & Kindness

     Compassion is a funny thing isn’t it? Human emotions are complicated and difficult to understand; sometimes we can barely understand ourselves, let alone others. Motivations and reasons behind our actions and behaviours and responses can intersect, and finding the true root of a problem can seem impossible at times. Often, it isn’t the answer we expect.

     Our world is a social place, and while it’s important to understand how our own emotions work, this is not enough all the time; we have to try to understand those of other people as well. This can be as basic as simple manners, to avoid causing offensive, or as complex as psychological studies, seeking the source of certain behaviours. Understanding others can be incredibly difficult and frustrating at times. Why do they behave differently around some people? What prompts their responses in different scenarios? And most complicated of all; what reaction do they want from us?

     Often, we find ourselves in situations where we are desperate to help others, in times of anger or sadness or insecurity, but we don’t know how to do so. It can be difficult to really understand what someone has gone through, particularly traumatic events, meaning we can be sympathetic but not always empathetic. And different people have different needs in situations. Some reach out to people, while others draw in to themselves. It’s hard to watch someone we care about suffer and not know what to say or do in order to help them. We may find our efforts shoved away, or unappreciated. We may opt to not try at all, for fear or saying the wrong thing.

     It’s important to respect what others need, be it time alone or an shoulder to cry on. Sometimes it’s enough just to be there, and words aren’t needed. Listen to the other person, and find out what they need from you. Putting yourself in their shoes can help, but remember that people react differently; what you would want, and what they want could be entirely different. Make yourself available to them, so even if they want time alone, they know there is someone they can turn to if they change their minds.

     And of course, we have to accept that we cannot fix everybody. Emotions and issues can be even more complex than they initially appear on the surface, and usually there isn’t a quick fix. We can all help in small ways, from words of encouragement to friendly hugs; but there is no magic cure to making someone feel entirely better. We have to accept this, and not feel like we have failed if our efforts don’t fix everything. Just be there for the person, and so what you can. Even if it doesn’t feel like enough, don’t give up. The world is a tough place, and all need help surviving in it.

Song: Save You - Simple Plan

Click here for more Musically Inspired posts.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My Favourite Quotes - Part 2

      A couple of years ago I wrote a post featuring some of my favourite quotes. Of course, since then I’ve learned and read and experienced more of life, and discovered (or even just re-discovered) a heap of quotes which I would certainly rank within my favourites now, which I’d like to share.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” (Lewis Carroll)

“The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with caution.” (J.K. Rowling)


“Don’t be like the rest of them, darling.” (Eudora Welby)

“-then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.” (Keats)

“Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.” (Bob Marley)

(John Green)

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” (Shakespeare)

“And those who were seen dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music.” (Nietzsche)

“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.” (Dorothy Parker)

“Ce qu’on ne peut dire et ce qu’on ne peut taire, la musique exprime.”
Translation - “Music expresses that which cannot be said in words or kept silent.” (Victor Hugo)


“If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.” (John Green)

“And then I realised, adventure was the best way to learn.” (Unknown)

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” (Muriel Rukeyser)

“Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and innocent.” (Auden)


“I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” (Dead Poets Society, screenplay by Tom Schulman)

“To die will be an awfully big adventure.” (J.M. Barrie)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Outfit of the Day - Stripes & Tights

     Time to break out all the patterns with this one apparently! I've featured my musical tights on here before, but they're definitely one of my favourite pairs; I'm a huge fan of music, and these are quirky but still neutrally coloured, so they're easy to match with things. Every girl needs a black skirt and some ankle boots in her wardrobe too, and these are firm favourites of mine. The jumper was a recent purchase, to make a change from the cardigans I usually opt for, and the cut out in the back makes it a little different (though I often have to wear higher backed t-shirts underneath, as it can get a bit chilly at this time of year!).

outfit of striped jumper, black skirt and musical tights

outfit of striped jumper, black skirt and musical tights

purple heart necklace, black stone ring and purple nails

purple heart necklace, silver leaf earrings and helix piercing

musical note tights with black heeled ankle boots

outfit of striped jumper with cut out back, black skirt and musical tights

Jumper - Forever21, Skirt - New Look, Tights - Pamela Mann
Boots - H&M, Necklace & Earrings - Unknown
Ring - Forever21, Nail Polish - ‘Vant to Bite My Neck?’ by Opi

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Five Web Series You Should Be Watching

     In the past few years a new genre of media has emerged, in the form of web series. Short episodes (under ten minutes) posted on YouTube once or twice a week in general, and many are literary adaptations. The internet gives people today so much creative freedom, so that many now have the opportunity to work on shows like these, which wouldn’t get made by television companies. They’ve also proved how engaging they can be though the development of transmedia, which can include characters having Twitter accounts, blogs and podcasts, to name a few. Today I’m going to share a few of my favourite series.

1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

     Where it all began, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was the first major web series, a 100 episodes modern retelling of the Austen classic, Pride & Prejudice. And it’s so popular for a reason. The adaptation to the present day is superbly done, and the characters are engaging, complex and wonderful. The story is told via Lizzie’s vlogs, so it’s very character driven and you often hear about events through her, rather than witnessing them first hand, which works extremely well in a story about her prejudices, and makes us feel like we really know her. The series also included blogs from other characters, like Lydia and Gigi, allowing us to see more of all the wonderful secondary characters too. The web series has now finished, but DVDs and a novelisation of it have now been released.

2. Emma Approved

     Emma Approved was the second web series from Pemberley Digital, after the LBD finished, an adaptation of another Austen novel, this time Emma. Once again, the production and writing are excellent, adapting the story well to the modern world. Emma is a lifestyle coach, so her blogs are accompanied by blog posts, giving practical, real life advice. Told through vlogs again, this story is about Emma’s journey, which is a great one, as we really see her change over the course of the series. And while all of the cast members are good, it’s the chemistry between Emma and Knightley that really drives this show for me, as we all desperately willed them to get together. This series is also finished, having covered the whole book, but the creators have said they're considering taking it further in future.

3. Classic Alice

     Classic Alice is an ongoing series, and this time is not a literary adaptation, meaning it doesn’t have to end when it reaches the end of a book. It’s the vlog-documentary of college student, Alice, who decides to liver her life according to classic literature, including Crime & Punishment, Pygmalion and Macbeth. I love the idea behind this, as we get to see lots of different books applied to the modern world, and since it is not an adaptation, often Alice’s life doesn’t pan out exactly how things do in the books and stories intersect, keeping viewers guessing as to what could happen next. The characters are great, with Alice herself being very relatable and authentic, and the transmedia is excellent, with the show now running two podcasts on top of its episodes. I’m very excited to see where this story goes!

4. Kissing in the Rain

     Kissing in the Rain was a short series created by Shipwrecked Comedy, featuring two chapters each with a pair of actors who continually found themselves kissing in the rain on set. This is not a vlog style series, as the first half of each episode showed them filming on set (often for literary adaptations), and the second showing what happened after “Cut!”. It is a mark of just how good the writing and acting in the series is that I could get so invested in characters who had around one minute of real (not acted) dialogue between them in each episode. The show also featured a great transmedia experiment, where viewers were invited to write stories about the characters between each episode, and the show’s creators chose which ones to make canon. This worked amazingly well, given that the episodes had already been filmed while these stories were being written.

5. In Earnest

     In Earnest is the newest show on my list, and it took me a few episodes to really get into it, but now I think it shows great promise. Another literary adaptation, this time of the Oscar Wilde play, The Importance of Being Earnest. I’m familiar with the play, which gets more and more hilarious and ridiculous as it goes on, so I’m looking forward to seeing it all play out. The series features vlogs by several of the characters, primarily Ernest and Algernon for now (though Cecily has had one so far!), though all on the same channel (unlike LBD which had multiple). It’s still early days for this series, but I’m looking forward to seeing how they continue to adapt the story.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

642 Things - The Hoodie

Describe an item of clothing you wear now that someday your son or daughter will want to own. What is it, and why will your child want to wear it in twenty years?

girl wearing a large light blue hoodie

     She sits in a cosy armchair by the crackling fire, nose deep in a hefty book. Her mother watches her from across the room, a tender expression on her face. Her forehead furrows for a second, before relaxing as she smiles to herself. Her daughter is lost in the folds of an over-sized blue hoodie; one she recognises well. It used to be hers.

     The thick fibres are warm and enveloping, imbued with the scent of washing powder. It is clearly a well worn item now, after years of use, the softness of the original lining now rough after years of use. The ends of the sleeves are ragged, from where they were dragged down over wrists and fidgeted with continually. The strings from the hood are twisted and chewed at the ends, and a few faded stains remain on the front, where food was dropped on it. It is blatantly too big for the girl, as it always was on her mother too.

     It is a simple item, plain blue with a small logo on the breast. It was once part of the uniform for a summer job, worn two years in a row and kept afterwards. It is not stylish or fashionable in any way; but it is warm and comfortable and practical. It was protection from the elements, a pillow on long bus trips, an extra layer in bed during the freezing winter months in student flats. It stayed with her beyond the summer job, and while it was never a particularly special or favourite item of clothing, it somehow stuck around for a long time. It travelled with her and was around for many key moments, even if only shoved in a bag or flung over the back of a chair.

     And now here it was, enveloping her daughter now. She can only presume that it was pulled from her bottom drawer in the hunt for an extra layer of warmth. Or perhaps, as a source of comfort during the times when she had to travel for work. It seemed to make sense that she had it now though. Sturdy and practical, and had somehow become entrenched in memories without her really realising. It was her, by accident, unintentionally soaking up her life, and now here it was, clothing the most important part of it all.

Click here for more 642 Things posts

Monday, 3 November 2014

Outfit of the Day - Feeling Confident

     It's impossible not to feel confident in these boots; everything about them is just gorgeous (apart from when I cockle over on the heels from time to time)! This jumper is very simple and lightweight, great for transitory seasons, and I'm always using tights and boots to bring my skirts into the colder months. The dark purple colour is also warm and rich for winter time, and the light grey offsets this to create a sort of balance in this outfit. Pockets in skirts are also very exciting, am I right? I also went for dainty jewellery, to balance out the boldness of the boots.

Feeling Confident - grey top, short purple skirt, brown heeled boots outfit

Feeling Confident - grey top, short purple skirt, brown heeled boots outfit

Feeling Confident - grey top, short purple skirt, brown heeled boots outfit

Purple & silver dainty bracelet, silver ring, purple nail polish

Purple drop earrings & silver helix piercing

Brown leather knee-high heeled boots

Top - H&M, Skirt - H&M, Boots - New Look,
Tights - M&S, Bracelet - Market, Earrings - Gift
Ring - Unknown, Nail Polish - 'Vant To Bite My Neck?' by Opi

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Review - Mallory Knox: Asymmetry

     The much anticipated follow up to debut album Signals dropped this week, and it certainly does not disappoint. Asymmetry is a record that sounds a lot like its predecessor; but this is by no means a bad thing. Mallory Knox have stuck to what they do best, but have polished their sound to reach new musical heights.

     The band have solidified their position at the forefront of UK alternative rock with this record, full of powerful guitar riffs and pulsing with raw energy. It is a bigger and bolder sound than their debut, with and an anthem-like feel to it, that has the potential to fill some big venues and get crowds moving. The lyrics are honest and sincere, and delivered with a cleaner, more sophisticated vocal than was found on Signals.

     The record opens with the racing energy of lead single Ghost in the Mirror, and tracks like Shout at the Moon and Dare You are similarly bold and powerful. There is a tenderness to the likes of When Are We Waking Up and Heart & Desire, that shows some versatility and a rawness of emotion (without getting too sappy fortunately). She Took Him To The Lake is a stand-out track, full of haunting melodies and a slightly quieter, eerie atmosphere to it.

     This is an album that proves how strong the UK rock scene is, staying true to the genre while being radio-friendly enough to potentially achieve mainstream success. With any luck, this will jettison the career of Mallory Knox, an undoubtedly deserved leap forwards.
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