Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Style


Style. It's an incredibly subjective matter dependent entirely on personal taste. Some people are bestowed with the lofty praise of being the Epitome Of Style while others find themselves repeatedly on the Most Wanted List of the Fashion Police (nee-naw, nee-naw).

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what we wear? Well, yes, it seems it does. There is an entire industry built around fashion (obviously) and what a fascinating industry it is. Personally I don't care for or follow the current trends for what's fashionable, I don't read the fashion magazines*, but I love to get dressed and get dressed up. As a teen I read all the magazines such as Vogue and Elle and loved watching the Clothes Show with Jeff Banks and Caryn Franklin. Now though, I can't really be bothered with it all; I don't really care. I find it dull, and here's why: I have my own sense of style and know what works [I think] for me. 

* I did buy a copy of Vogue last year, but that was purely because of the interview and 6 page spread with Nicola Sturgeon. I have to say that the rest of the mag held no interest as I leafed through it. I would rather have an interiors magazine.

Every where we look we are being told what we should be wearing. This changes with the seasons and the trends (which change every 6-8 weeks) or are dictated to by our age, e.g. : 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After 30 - F.Y.I. I still wear 13 of the things in the list! And when the weather gets a bit milder my many pairs of old converse gutties will be back out to play.


(purple converse with black and white patterened 
maxi dress from Oasis, bought in 2007)

We are told that we should buy only expensive well made, items that will last. We should not be buying cheap fashion that we will wear once and throw away, coz it was only a couple of quid. What's wrong with just wearing what the fuck you want and owning it? The ethics of fashion is a whole other post to itself. What I'm getting at here, is the fact that grown adults are being told where to and what to buy, or what to aspire to and desire, regardless of budget, and yet budget is a big and real deal.

There are many people whom I believe to be very stylish in their own way, rather than 'styled' by a professional stylist. Women such as Iris Apfel (I love this woman), Fearne Cotton, Ellen Degeneres and my friend Marion who has fabulous style and feathers in her hair. l also appreciate, okay, love, the style of the 1920's flappers, the hippies of the late 1960's, the sexy undies worn in the 1940's, Madonna's entire wardrobe in Desperately Seeking Susan. I still have a lot of affection and actually some original items from the grungey early 90's and indie/britpop mid 90's. Just wish I still had my docs. 

I'm 37.5 years years old and my style is exactly that; mine. There will be no particular trend that I will be following from season to season, but there will always be layers, and more often than not, a scarf. Oh, and generally, lots of colour too. I don't have a separate summer/winter wardrobe. By adding my staple black poloneck to my summer outfits, I instantly have my winter ones. Easy peasy. Saves me a fortune too.



(I love this dress TK Maxx 2013.  
 My sleeve - Green cardi from ?? top from 
Natural Collection 2008, owl top, details below)

When it comes to shopping for clothes, I don't have the funds to go on big (or little for that matter) splurges.  My clothes are in for the long haul (which is handy then that I don't follow the trends) whether I spend £7 on a top in the TK Maxx sale (which is my first port of call) or £15 in New Look (usually my second) or more elsewhere, they are worked hard and expected to last.  My wardrobe and drawers are crammed full of items that have been with me for years, some since I was in High School. I shit you not! My black jumper I have had since I was 15 (ONLY worn when feeling poorly or just slobbing about the house - this will never again be worn in public, everrrrrrrrr) and my denim jacket that was actually my sister's, which I 'borrowed' and never returned - this I do still wear regularly, PLUS it's proper vintage now, and has aged beautifully (I just can't fasten it, but who fastens a denim jacket anyway..?).


(the denim jacket! With silver scarf 
bought at a market in Gran Canaria 2008)


Friends who I see regularly will have seen the entire contents of my 'wardrobe' but probably not put together the same way each time.  I like to get creative with my ensemble, change it up and try something different. 

Christmas and birthdays (handily my birthday is in June) always mean gift vouchers and clothes shopping. Or money and clothes shopping. Last year my birthday cash was well spent in the vintage shops of Glasgow's West End (£7 for a velvet blazer and £18 on a 60's print shell top to name a couple of purchases) and last week I was treated myself to a pair of dungarees (finally found a pair that doesn't make my arse look like the back of a hippo or look like I'm wearing a baby's romper suit - these have taken years to find, so am delighted) and a pinafore, which I didn't know I was even looking for until recently. Ordinarily I live in ripped jeans or cords, but fancied a wee change. 


 
Here is what I wore today:
The Pinafore (New Look, bought last week),
Peter Pan collar blouse with tiny owls printed on it, also seen in photo above (Next A/W 2011), Green tights (Morrisons 2013), Brown with orange and green flowers over the knee socks (stall in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow closing down sale 2015), Brown Fly Boots (Office 2013). All mixed up and cobbled together. Does it work? I think so. Do I feel comfortable? Absolutely.










I have no interest in what something cost, only, does it look good, do I feel good in it? Designer names hold no significance. Just because something has a name on the label does not necessarily mean it is stylish. By the same token, just because something is vintage or charity-shop-chic, doesn't guarantee that it will work, that is down to the individual to pull it together. I really believe that the magic ingredient for whether an outfit or piece of clothing works and is stylish, is confidence. If you feel good, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? It's really that simple. Years ago, I admit, I used to look a what people had put together and think "Did you get dressed in the dark? Do you not have a mirror or best friend?" yip, I was a bitch. In fairness, I come off of really judgemental stock, so, you know, a little leeway here - I've grown! And from being on the receiving end of such judgement on many an occasion from my Mother, Father, sister and others more times that I care to remember, or even care about, now I just think "are you happy/comfy/confident/bothered? Wonderful." Why must the parade be rained upon just because someone else doesn't like what someone is wearing? It's bullshit.

Everyone has their own quirks and sense of style. Whether that style is 'stylish' or not, well, that's a matter of personal taste.

Lissa
x

p.s. Upon writing this post I have discovered my freakishily long and weird memory has came in handy as I can recall when the majority of my individual pieces were bought!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

Written/made by me (during a Neil Buchanan Art Attack inspired 

moment) on honeymoon with washed up pieces of seaweed


Today is our 10th Valentine's Day together. I remember our first one well which included me borrowing Hubby(then-Boyfriend)'s keys to his flat and making a gorgeous dinner (fillet steak), there were candles and red wine and LoveHeart sweeties. He bought me a huge bouquet of flowers. As I was spending more and more time at his, the bouquet was left in my flat and sadly withered with very little love or attention paid to it. Infact, I think when the flowers were finally tossed out, they may still have been in their wrapping.... Thankfully our relationship has blossomed far better than that first bouquet.  

Heart shaped photo frames hanging from mirror in our bedroom

These days our February 14th's are a little different to that first romantic (apart from the dead flowers part) one. For instance, today, Hubby slept off his night shift from last night, before heading out for his shift tonight (it's 19.45 at time of writing and he left half an hour ago!). Kiddo and I spent a wonderful afternoon with a dear friend having a pub lunch and play in the park. In Hubby's wakened time we had dinner and conversation with Kiddo; no netflix & chill tonight. Bothered? Nope! We're both old cynics and couldn't really care for the corporate holiday.  We are romantic in our own way and all through the year.

Welsh Love Spoon
Wedding gift from friends in Wales.
 I stuck it to the outside of our bedroom door

I've not always been bah-humbug about inflated prices of flowers and the tsunami of red and pink at every turn in the shops. I mind at school, primary school (p7) in particular, picking the card to send and covering it and the envelope in rhymes and ditties, before sealing with a lipsticked kiss with S.W.A.L.K. written on top. The rhymes were not wholly appropriate for 11 year olds but we laughed and thought they were funny. I can't quite remember all of them, but there was the traditional "Roses are red" but with various versions and one about wanting pyjamas next to mine, but on a washing line or something of that ilk. All good natured fun and giggles.  Never one for being sad if I was single come Valentine's Day, it was merely an excuse (as if one was needed) for a evening of wine and gossip with the girls. We all love wine, and this is the day for love is it not??? I thought so.


There are hearts all over our home - 
even on the broom outside the front door

So why do we celebrate February 14th with love and romance? Who was St Valentine? Did you know there are superstitions attached to this day that we devote to our beloved? Well get comfy and let me share what I have learned - only knowledge though, not sharing my Turkish Delight #SorryNotSorry

 This was me getting organised to start writing up this post

Why February?

The Roman Goddess Juno Februa gave her name to the month February. She happened to be the Patroness of the passion of love as well as the Goddess of maternal and married love.

Who was St Valentine?

Saint Valentine of Rome is a 3rd century Roman Saint.  The Saint of couples, love and, oddly, bee keepers.
The story goes that Valentine was a priest who used to marry couples in secret. It was during the rule of Claudius (where unmarried men were first priority for conscription to his army over married men) that Valentine was imprisoned for marrying off the potential foot soldiers of the army. Whilst in prison he befriended his jail keeper. In the final few days of his life he met the jail keeper's blind daughter and by placing his hands over her eyes, he healed her.  She was not allowed to meet with the priest again, and so wrote to him and they exchanged letters via her father. She gave her heart to the the Priest and according to the legend, he signed his last secret letter to her "Your Valentine". He was executed on 14th February.

Traditions

In the West, the symbol for love, the heart, was first used in the 13th century

On the night of 13th February, umarried girls were to place 5 bay leaves under their pillow to dream of their husband.

Couples traditionally remained together for 1 year who were brought together by drawing their name from a paper lot (lucky draw).
The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou are my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.

Cupid (Roman God of Love and son of Venus) became the symbol of Valentine's Day during the Victorian era

The sending of secret letters and then cards also came into practice during the Victorian era

Superstition

Birds (i) :  If a woman sees a robin she will marry a sailor. A sparrow foretells marriage to a poor man but she will be very happy, but seeing  goldfinch means she will marry a rich man.

 Babies : Babies born today will take many lovers.

Birds (ii) : Birds will today pick their mate


Well, there we are then; love, romance and a wee history lesson. Not bad for a Sunday night. Although to be fair, I'm guessing a fair few people won't be reading this until tomorrow as far too busy with love and romance or wining and dining.  Whatever your plans for this Valentines evening, enjoy, I hope it is as glorious as the view outside my window this morning.


 A beautiful start to the morning - 
view from livingroom window

Happy Valentine's Day

Lissa
x




Friday, 12 February 2016

In pursuit of Peace

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, 
and remember what peace there may be in silence."

Peace. This is what I am working on. Peace.  Finding, living with and keeping Peace. But what does that mean? What does it look like?

When  you think of Peace, what comes immediately to mind? Is it


Or is it always always followed by 
... and love
... and harmony
...and tranquility
...and calm
...and quiet
...maaan!
...on jam
Or preceded by
Rest in ...
Inner...
War and...
World...
Just give me 5 minutes ...

Or is it synonymous with
happiness
love
stillness
"me time"

For me, the Peace I seek is in the everyday, in life, in myself.  It's a feeling; a sense of Peace. This quest comes from the constant feeling of looking for 'something'; the notion that 'something' was missing. 

Last month I finished reading a book that I have already referenced in another post, The Little Book Of Peace by Cherry Menlove .  I read this book at exactly the right time, as I knew as soon as I started it, my 'something' search was over.  Why is it when we are looking for something, it is so often found right under our noses? As soon as I knew I was on the path to Peace, I found it already resided in my home:



This Celtic Prayer is a framed postcard that sits in my hallway right beside the mirror I use every day to put my make up on.

My favourite poem, Desiderata (which opens and closes this post) can also be found hanging in my hall.


My love of getting up early to enjoy the calm and stillness of the morning, before Kiddo rises. It's just me, candles, fairy lights and coffee. My morning ritual. My daily dose of Peace.









So this is where I'm going to start; in pursuit of Peace at home, my nest, my sanctuary ( or as followers of my instagram account can attest - my wee nook by the livingroom window). My journey has already begun.

"...whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."
(Closing of Max Ehrmann's Desiderate, 1927)


Lissa
x

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Imbolc


As the light lengthens
So the cold strengthens


From sunset of Jan 31st to February 2nd, the first Sabbat and Fire Festival of the year is celebrated. Imbolc.

The name is believed to come from the old Irish Celtic word meaning "ewe's milk" or the Celtic Scots, Imbolg, meaning "in the belly". The ewe's are pregnant with their lambs, readying for lambing come Spring, just as the rest of nature is doing likewise; the stirrings of new life are happening below the still frozen surface. The wheel of the year turns yet again, this time to renewal.

It's not just for the flora and fauna to feel the change and sense the imminent possibilities that the new season brings. The whole New Year New Me stuff that blights our media channels in the first few days each and every January is misplaced; February is possibly a more appropriate time. The Winter Hag, The Cailleach, has now retired (at least until Samhain), giving way to the Maiden (Brigid) to take us gently into Spring.

This is the perfect time to sow the seeds of your dreams and plans to bring those dreams to fruition in this new cycle. To plant actual seeds to germinate indoors, with the intentions of dreams and plans. To taking those tentative first steps into your next chapter as we start coming out of Winter and into Spring. A time of new beginnings for all.

This year's plans have fallen slightly by the way due to Storm Henry battering the world outside my window for the past 2 days. This has meant no nature walk to find snow drops, and no time organising the tubs in the garden to get ready for planting (or even just tidying/cleaning out!). But all has not been lost - Spring Cleaning has begun, okay that is a stretch, even by my standards, my list of spring cleaning jobs has been written out - does that count as having started? Yes, I'd say it does... We have eaten good food (essential part of seasonal celebration is food. Lots and lots of good food - it nourishes the soul and the body.) Symbolic food such as dairy (ideally sheep, but I don't like sheep milk or cheese) and spicy (symbolic of returning heat of the sun) have been prepared and devoured - yesterday I made butter, and from that enjoyed scones and garlic bread. I also made sticky ginger bread (Nigella's Christmas recipe, but equally fitting for now with a pot of tea, or any other warm milky drink - in Kiddo's case it was hot chocolate) and tonight we had Mexican Quesadillas with plenty sour cream.

Candles have been lit morning and evening, in lieu of a fire, but also because they are sublimely cozy, comforting and calming, invoking a sense of peace at the start and end of the day. At these times, looking outside the window to the sunrises and sunsets (which last night and this morning where particularly spectacular due to the stunning nacreous clouds colouring the sky) you notice the lengthening of the days, ever so gently leading us once again out of the dark winter and into new light.
Imbolc

x

Monday, 1 February 2016

Making & Baking

Something I have wanted to try for a long time but have never actually got around to, is (crazy as it may sound) making butter.

Back in the 1980's we had a thing in school called "Milk Time". It was a free wee bottle (later carton) of warm milk (don't mistake me here, the milk wasn't warm because it had been lovingly heated up, or had cocoa powder added to make warm hot chocolate. It was warm because it had sat in the milk crate in the corridor for hours before being issued) we got every day. It was horrible, not like the nice cold milk I got a home.  It smelled different from the milk at home too, Actually, thinking about it, I can still mind the smell! But it was free, we all got it, and it was time off from "school work". I think I must be part of the last generation of kids to get Milk Time. Anyways, I digress. One day, our teacher, Miss Cassidy (this had to have been Primary 2, 1984/85) took all our little bottles and scooped off the cream from the top (I didn't mind as hated the creamy bit most of all) and collected it in a tin. We were then given our bottles back with the instruction not to drink our milk. I don't remember if she told us why or not, but I remember very clearly what happened next : with the lid on tight, she began to shake the cream in the tin with vigour, and then passed around the class so we could all get a shake. We rolled it around on the floor, shook it for all our worth and collectively sang and danced (with the correct actions, obv)  Black Lace's Agadoo (as you do...). Then the magic happened. We gathered round as she opened the tin. The lumpy warm cream was gone and in its place was butter. Yellow butter. Next she passed round ritz crackers. We had crackers, butter and our bottles of milk - it was brilliant! I remember it fondly (Miss Cassidy was a great teacher).

Fast forward 30 odd years and I'm weirdly super excited to make my own butter again.  This time with Kiddo. He will love it, I think. It's like a science experiment, seeing the creamy liquid change into solid butter, I think. WRONG! He could not have cared less! He had his own agenda for the day, and it did not include making butter, even with the offer of learning the actions to Agadoo. The Home-educator in me was ever so slightly crestfallen that my grand (lesson) plan has crashed and burned, but the kid inside of me thought, "bugger it, I'm making it any way". And so I did.


How to make butter


Tub of whipping cream(I used 300ml)  - pour into a jam jar or kilner jar and make sure the lid is on tight. Then start shaking. And don't stop! Your arms are going to hurt - keep shaking. 
During this time is good to put music on and dance along (see above for perfect suggestion). Alternatively, watch a video on Youtube.  Today I watched Ross Mountney's vlog on Home Education (if you are thinking about HE or having HE wobbles, I thoroughly recommend this vid) .

After 10 mins or so, the runny cream will be thick and pretty solid like this
but keep shaking - seriously. You will want to give up and just settle for creamy cheese spread type butter, but don't. Keep going, you can do it! Be warned though, your poor aching limbs will be screaming for you to stop and accidents are likely to happen if you don't pay attention...
Turns out lacklustre weary shoogling of a glass kilner jar still packs a punch and Pyrex is not indestructible.

Approx 15 mins later (yep, another 15 mins, possibly 20 mins have passed - I got distracted by the broken glass to pay attention to the time, I also forgot to take some pictures), white cheese spread will suddenly make a thump in the jar and when you take a peek, you'll find a solid mass of yellow butter and a load of thin runny milky water : butter and buttermilk.

Separate the two, taking time to rinse the butter under the cold tap to get rid of as much buttermilk still inside it.

And....Tadahh!

As well as a plain butter, I also crushed 3 garlic cloves and finely shopped some parsley, so now have some garlic butter with which to make garlic bread to have with dinner tonight
Cling filmed into a little roll, like a sausage.

So now that I have butter and butter milk, what am I to do with it? Well, there is really only one answer to that 
SCONES! And a pot of tea.

Needless to say, Kiddo is now interested....

x