Tuesday 31 August 2010

Tuesday Ten

I like reading the fantasy high street bit in Elle every month, so this week...

My Ten Favourite Shops

1. House of Fraser. I like department stores in general but House of Fraser just feels a little more organised than, say, Debenhams; and John Lewis is a pain to get to in Bristol.

2. Aldo. I love their shoes. Parpy Jo has observed: I can only buy two pairs of shoes from this shop at a time, never less.

3. Get Knitted, Bristol. For all my knitting needs! Plus a great knitting group, of course.

4. B Delicious, the Triangle, Bristol. Fab little bead shop who fixed also do courses on gluing crystals to things.

5. Manufactura, Prague. I think this is what it's called, anyway, after extensive Googling; one of them is opposite DKNY, just round the corner from where we stayed last week. I could spend literally hours in these shops. Wooden toys and puzzles, decorated eggs, bath products...

6. Ugetti, Bardonecchia, Italy. The best chocolate in the world. Take it from a connoisseur!

7. Boot Barn, Las Vegas. I like western wear, even if I can't quite get away with it in this country, but I can browse here for hours. I have a pair of red cowboy boots Father Hand bought me here in 2001 and they are still going strong.

8. Jimmy Beans, Reno, USA. Amazing yarn and such friendly people. It's not just the shop though, but also the shopping centre it's a part of: a great bead shop, a Borders, a Chilli's, great frozen yogurt...

9. Central Market, Kuala Lumpur. Even though I don't like bartering, I can manage it here because I know if I can't argue them down enough the next stall will have the same thing. So many clothes! So much jerellery! And Chinatown just round the corner....fab.

10. Lush. Of course!

Friday 27 August 2010

Fave Friday

It has been a while. I have been clearing out my wardrobe, though, and since I now do this regularly I was faced with the prospect of throwing out clothes which I wanted to wear, but for some reason or other had not. Here then are...

Five Favourite Ways to make over clothes

1. Buy leggings
I know. They're wrong. I agree. But actually, following a tip from Rhiannon who I stayed with in Malaysia, I discovered that wearing them to just below the knee is very flattering on me, and I now have 3 dresses and 2 tunic tops I can wear again.

2. Change their colour
Long-term readers may remember the sad demise of a dress last summer which was my last attempt at dying an item of clothing; however I had a stripy dress which I found to be unflattering (by which I mean, nobody ever paid me a compliment when I wore it, which is unusual (conceited, much?) and I could only conlcude that the colour was wrong) so I put it through the wash with a very old box of machine dye at a lower than specified temperature, and it went from this

(which I think just looks grubby from a distance) to this

On the technical side - it was a 60 degree box of Dylon Machine Dye and I ran it at 40 degrees because the dress is 98% viscose, 2% elastane. The web wisdom on this seemed to be it needed longer to react but my fancypants machine would not allow for this much user interference so I just crossed my fingers and went for it. It was fine. This wouldn't be a problem now because all Dylon Machine Dye is 40 degrees, I gather, but this box was from 2006 and I really didn't want to bin it.
I also ended up with a pink tie dyed towel thanks to my environmental conscience refusing to allow me to run the machine on an empty 95 degree cycle. It's pretty.

3. Find a tailor
I had a dress from our 2007 holiday which I wore constantly but which developed a mysterious rip (I think in Father Hand's dryer); and a Boden wrap dress/ebay bargain which I caught on a door latch and tore, and which was too long for me to feel happy in. So I found a tailor. She is returning these items to me next Tuesday, good as new, I hope.

4. Snip, snip, snip
I had a sports thermal top which I had never worn, thanks to my habit of skiing in April. One particularly cold day, I decided to snip down the high neckline in a last ditch attempt to make it wearable - and then found myself wishing I had a second, because it went under my summer dresses, all winter long.
Did the same with some sweat pants when I needed some long shorts for the gym. It really isn't as scary to wield the scissors as I thought it would be.

5. Invest in some new accessories
Or just try wearing the old ones a new way. I bought a pink elasticated waist belt last year which, when worn on the wait, makes me look like a sausage with a twist in the middle. Yesterday I came up with the idea to wear it high on my ribs and make an empire line shape. Looked great!

I have heard of a challenge one can do, which involves wearing everything in one's wardrobe without doing any washing. I am interested. I may be trying this; I have so many lovely things I never get round to putting on.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Goals for August

Late, I know, but I had a mental list at the beginning of the month that I have been working through. August is always clear and declutter month for me as I prepare for the new school year, so most of my goals reflect that.

  • Clear out under the stairs
  • Declutter my wardrobe/drawers and take the clothes that need it to be altered/mended to a tailor. For the former I will be following the good advice from Hanger Envy. For the latter I will be investigating the local tailor shop I spotted a couple of months back.
  • Go through my make up drawers and throw some old stuff out.
  • Knit something. Anything!
  • Inventory/photograph my buttons and buckles stash on Ravelry.
  • Clean the cutlery drawer, which is looking a bit grubby, and clean out the old cutlery drawers so I can throw one away. Mother Z has been irritated by the grubby orange drawers under the kitchen cupboards for some time now, so getting rid of one might please her a little.
  • Have winter coats cleaned (or wash them myself if I can) and sew the button back onto the blue one.
  • Set up my work blog on my new domain.
  • Make a clear plan for next year with long-term goals so I know what to work towards and track my efforts properly.
  • Draw up an exercise program and get started on it in the final week of the month so I am set up to continue when school starts again.
I hope that's not too many. I have already done almost three of them, though.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Tuesday Ten

Ten new things since last week

1. Visited Sri Lanka. Wasn't there long enough to get a phone signal, and quite disappointed to discover it's not in the southern hemisphere, but it looked good from the plane window.

2. Turned 32.

3. Visited a Malaysian comedy club. Some of the cultural refs were a bit over my head but it was still mostly very funny, especially Douglas Lim singing I am yellow to the tune of Halo. I will try to find this on YouTube when I have a proper computer again.

4. Swam in an infinity pool, at Thistle Resort, Port Dickson. Very cool. We saw millions of tiny crabs on the beach, too.

5. Eaten roti chana for breakfast. It's a kind of flat bread. V tasty.

6. Had a fish pedicure. Doctor fish eat the hard skin office your feet. It's quite pleasant, a bit like tiny sucking pumices.

7. Rode on an elephant, and fed it peanuts. I stopped short of swimming with it, though, since it climbed into the river and promptly had a poo the size of my thigh. I came away with a t shirt that proclaims "Fat is Beautiful" which I shall wear to the gym in an ironic manner.

8. Used the widest variety of mossie repellants ever. Spray, wipe, balm, stick, citronella candle, sticky clothes patch....I was bitten 7 times in the first two days but, fingers crossed, not since.

9. Purchased some beautiful Chinese buttons which remind me of quilling. I went to sleep last night imagining garments for them.

10. Written a whole blog post on my phone! Which, I hope, explains the lack of pictures.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.1

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Tuesday Ten

The problem with having a wardrobe full of fabulous clothes is that, when I go on holiday, I want to take everything with me. It seems unfair to the dresses to leave them behind, you know? But with weight limits and shopping opportunities ruthless choices have to be made. I travel a lot and have come up with some good packing tips I always try to stick to...

Ten Top Tips for Packing

1. Make a list. I like to divide mine into categories - dresses, tops, bottoms etc. Be ruthless and think about what you need.

2. Look over your list carefully. Make sure that everything on your list can be worn on at least two occasions - those will depend on your trip. Count up outfit combinations to check you have at least 1.5 times the number of days - so, 10 days = 15 outfit combos (for wriggle room).

3. Shop for any obvious gaps. If you have no gaps but still want to shop, pick garments that will really work for you. This year my two favourite multi-purpose garments are this dress/skirt from Freemans, which I have in marine blue, and this last minute tea dress style red kaftan from Marks and Spencer, which I bought today. Both can be worn on the beach or out to dinner or whilst shopping or sight-seeing so they are both big box tickers for me.

4. Cut down on creasing. Unless you have an iron, my best advice is to pack clothes that don't wrinkle, or that shake out: jersey is good. When you pack, roll your clothes. It's a better use of space, anyway.

5. Make smart underwear choices. Don't just fling in the entire contents of your knicker drawer. Try to pack neutrals and things that are suitable for the climate, and think about what bras you will need for the clothes you are wearing. I always pack a strapless bra.

6. Think carefully about shoes. They are heavy and bulky; consider wearing your bulkiest shoes on the plane. I always pack flip flops, even when I'm going skiing, because they are small and light and good for when I'd normally be wandering around bare foot. My best advice would be to find smart flats that are comfortable enough to wear around all day and pretty enough to go with evening outfits.

7. Allow one vanity item. Assuming you have followed 1-8, you should have a little room in your suitcase, unless it is very small - now is the time to pick one item you previously weeded out of your list for some reason. This trip, I have allowed my denim skirt suitcase room, although I think it may be a little warm for denim. But I wear it all the time, so I don't want to leave it behind.

8. Evaluate your packing. It's the most anal part of the process, but when you come back, go back to your list and make sure you wore everything on it. Add a little note if you needed something you didn't pack. Then you will be able to pack even more smartly the next time you go away.

(oops, only 8, ran out of time and can't go missing my flight for it!)

Monday 2 August 2010

July Goals Round Up

Attend at least two staff enrichment week events in the last week of term (evening events planned all week by the Staff Happiness Action Group).
Although I only went to one, I did go out every other night that week except Monday when I had to mark, so that was a bit of a win at least.

Not get sunburn on the geology field trip next Sunday.
I did not. I layered on the cream the second the sun came out and wore my hooded t-shirt hood up with the drawstrings pulled and massive sunglasses. Tom said I was rocking the Cheryl Cole look. I was annoyed to get home and find my forearms very red but this I attribute to wind burn because it was completely gone by the next day.

Try at least three new things with my classes in the final weeks of term and blog about them on my shiny new work blog, so I have something to share at the learning community meeting at the end of term.
Yes, done. I taught in a pond. I jousted with nutella - or supervised it, anyway. I did MovieMaker timelines. I bunked the learning community meeting for a governors one....oops. But I am blogging it, at least.

Read up on teachmeets so I can try and organise one.
Yes, done. I am working out the organisation of it now. Mr Z is asking his head if we can host it there, and I am thinking about who to approach to speak. A fantastic by product of the Google thingie is that I am now in touch with local teachers who, though they didn't come to the training day, are still enthusiastic techies.

Finish a knitting project.
Not done. Not even the naughty squiddy! Embarrassed - and I call myself a knitter....

Write up the pattern instructions for my watermelon bag.
Not done. I just ran out of July.

Clean my make up brushes. This is long overdue.
Done. They really were filthy.

Use my gym membership at least three times.
I tried, but failed. I went to one spinning class. That spinning class therefore cost me £34. Must do better this month, though I'm going to be away.
I did at least go to Zumba as often as I could, which continues to be a hilarious amount of fun. I am concerned about my fitness and urgently want to get back to regular classes, especially spinning which is so good for my legs. My issue is, though, that the evening classes for spinning book up a week in advance and I am never organised enough to make it. But luckily they do an 8.15 class on a Saturday now....gulp.

Sort out the magazine pile by the bed and clean/tidy my dressing table.
Now, technically I didn't do either of these things but Mother Z, who comes and "does" for us every week or so, did my dressing table very early on in the month so that was good. It was such a nice thing to come home to.

It wasn't a bad job. I was caught on the hop a little this month because, thanks to my trip to London followed at speed by my trip to Sheffield, the last week passed in an eye's blink so all the things I thought would be easily completed just didn't happen.