London, Mum And Dior

In 2017, mum and I visited the Dior exhibition in Paris (you can read about it here). We loved it so much that we were very excited to hear the V&A would be hosting its own version. Luck would have it that the exhibition’s opening day was on my mum’s birthday weekend so off we went!

OOTD

My mum always loves to dress up so I went for some serious coordination with my outfit: a green and mustard explosion. I guess I was aiming for something similar to the ‘New Look’ silhouette.

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The Exhibition

I’ll let the exhibition speak for itself but I will say that I love the organisational skills of the V&A. In Paris, it was so busy and cramped that we couldn’t enjoy our time fully; this time round was much more comfortable. We’d both recommend a visit!

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Birthday Dinner

Temper  is one of my favourite places to eat. Mum had never been so I felt it was only right for her to try it out. Needless to say, she loved it.

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I can’t wait to plan our next day out – it’ll be difficult to top this one!

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Moving On From January

As I said in my previous post, I’m not aiming to make any big resolutions for the new year – I’m just after positive experiences. With that in mind, I started the year by making a few changes in my day-to-day life:

Social Media – This year started with my friend, Dandy Wellington, asking “What more can I do to impact the world around me for the better?”. I reflected on this and decided to do something. I would dedicate each day of January to people I follow who have a positive effect on me – the majority coming from marginalised groups. It was good to spread the word about some truly brilliant people and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders with regard to posting my own outfits, hair, etc. After doing a lot of reading on the impact of screen time on child development (teacher life), I set up app timers to limit how much time I spend on my phone. It’s definitely been helpful but it obviously takes time to create good habits. I’m a lot happier having more time on my hands now.

Reading – I am definitely someone who buys books and puts them in a to-read pile that barely gets touched. I often feel like a hypocrite because I preach to my class about the benefits of reading and how they should read as much as possible. Getting to work before seven and coming home exhausted made me feel like reading could be knocked off my to-do list. At the start of January, I started to timetable my evenings to work in some reading time most days. It’s worked out really well. I’ve got through Hollow City,  Flowers For Algernon, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying and I’m part way through Wool and Her Body And Other Parties. I’d forgotten how much I loved to read and how I needed to make time to do so. My brain feels like it’s being fed.

Decluttering – Well, the KonMari method is sweeping the world and I’m totally on board. Prior to Christmas, my better half and I got decluttering as we decided we’d rather spend money on holidays than trying to buy a bigger house. We gutted our entire place. From kitchen cupboards to wardrobes, it all got picked through. I think it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made. Our home’s much more user-friendly and easy to live in. I’m also finding myself a lot less stressed when I come home from work too. Decluttering has also taken place on social media and in my social life. Social media is a strange machine. I’ve removed a lot of people who either weren’t making me happy or we weren’t bringing out the best in each other. It’s been a really freeing experience, giving the space to focus on better things.

Spending – I was at one time a bit of a spending addict. I would not leave the house without chucking money at something. However as my better half and I have been working out what we actually want from life, accruing more and more and stuff is not what we need to do. Having decluttered, we don’t want to go back to old habits.  Most times when I set myself on a no-spend, I fail fantastically. Instead, I’m endeavouring to make informed choices and think more about what I actually buy. I’m not just focusing on clothes: books, toiletries, make-up, memorabilia, souvenirs, etc. are all going through the same process.

Cooking – With more time free of social media, stress and online shopping, I’ve taken time to cook. In particular, I’m spending time working my grandma’s dishes. Ever since her dementia diagnosis, I’ve harboured a lot of sadness and anger. I kind of felt like cooking her food was sacrilege and that I wouldn’t do it justice. With support from my better half though, I’m having a go at making her food. So far we’ve made chicken curry, aloo bean and lamb samosas. It’s no way near as good as hers but I feel like she’s talking me along while I’m cooking. I now face the epic challenge of making roti. Wish me luck!

Basically, I feel like I’m in a good place at the moment. Living life with an all or nothing mentality has done nothing for me so I’m just going to do the best that I can. February is a full-on month for me but I’m ready for it.

I’ll be back to my weekly blogging now and I’m looking forward to sharing my musings and adventures. Til next time!

 

Reflections on 2018

This has probably been one of the most settled years I’ve had in a good while: there have been no major changes in my life and my mental health has been pretty stable. I’ve spent the year taking stock of the good stuff in my life and getting rid of anything that makes me unhappy. It’s been cathartic and necessary.

Three Happy Moments

  • Sloths – In the summer, I went to Costa Rica with my other half and we went to Toucan Rescue Ranch to see sloths. I’ve never been so close to so many gorgeous little creatures. To watch them move, eat and snooze up close was amazing and an experience I will never forget.

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  • My 30th – To put it bluntly, my birthday this year was fab. It was filled with good food, good people and just my favourite things. My face hurt from smiling all day.

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  • Kelly’s Wedding – Having not seen our friend Rhina for a year, it was such a joy to be reunited. Together, we were able to see the beautiful marriage of our friends Grant and Kelly. Even though we’d had time away from one another, it was like we’d never parted.

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Three Most Popular Blog Posts

Three Great Events

  • Hot Brown Honey/The Cocoa Butter Club – Thank you to my amazing pal Jennifer for coming to these events with me. We have had an education. If you get the opportunity, go and just experience ALL of it.

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  • Drag – I couldn’t pick one. From seeing Sasha Velour at Reading Student Union on a Monday to the madness of Dragworld in London, this year has been filled with drag experiences and I have loved every single one.

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  • Dandy Wellington in London – I got to know Dandy Wellington when he visited London last year. This year, he was in London over the summer and I got to  see him perform twice. It’s great to see friends sharing their talents! I really enjoyed hanging out with like-minded folk at Brasserie Zedel, sharing a drink and enjoying life.

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Three Places I Visited

  • Bay Area – The Bay Area is easily one of my favourite places in the world. I lived there for a month in 2010 and visited again in 2015. This year, we experienced drag, a ton of food and hiking around the area. I can’t wait to go back again.

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  • Liverpool – As my wonderful buddy Steph lives up north, I’ve spent some time in Liverpool this year. I love exploring new places and spending time with people who enjoy doing the same. I’m going again in February and I know it’ll be great.

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  • Costa Rica – After falling in love with nature and wildlife from our honeymoon in Ecuador, we booked a trip to Costa Rica this year. It was a life-changing trip, making me more determined than ever to experience nature worldwide. I loved every second and even though I was exhausted by the end, it was so worth it.

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Three People I Got To Know

  • Becky – I met Becky a while back but this year we started to spend more time together. I can’t really imagine my life without her now. We talk about all kinds of rubbish and share a mutual love of so many things. Most of the time we’re on my sofa, eating something yummy and watching something terrible.

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  • Katie – I’d bumped into Katie a couple of times at the ‘Pin-up Picnics’. We got in contact with one another and decided to meet up. Since then we’ve roamed around Reading and London, sharing a love of fashion, books and deep discussions. If you want to discuss books, she’s your girl!

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  • Vicky – I’ve admired Vicky’s style for flippin’ ages. I’ve got to know her more over the year, bonding over our love of cake and Frock and Roll. Apart from being fashion-savvy, she’s a good laugh and super easy to chat too (even when you’re trying not to stare at her marvellous hair).

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I could write way more – this is just a small selection. I’m grateful for every experience and all the wonderful people I’ve got to spend time with. It’s been a really positive year.

I’m not setting goals for the next year, I’m going to see what happens!

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Food, Festivities And Fashion With Mum

The Christmas holidays have begun – hooray! I love this time of year because I get to spend lots of time with my family. A couple of months ago, I heard about a thirties fashion exhibition as The Fashion And Textile Museum and I knew it’d be the perfect place to take my mum. We’ve built up a tradition of visiting fashion exhibitions over the years and we love making a day of it!

OOTD

I bought this dress from a fellow vintage lover on Instagram and I am so happy with it; I love the style and the fit is perfect. I added red tights to bring out the red in the dress.

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Stop 1

First off, we stopped for cake and tea at Chapter 72 to warm up after a very windy walk. Both of us had chocolate Lamingtons – they were so light and delicious.

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Stop 2

We got to the museum in time to say hello to the ever-stylish Sadie. In a stroke of luck, we also managed to get on a guided tour around the exhibition. I’d definitely recommend it as it gives greater context to the fashions on display. We spent just over an hour exploring – well worth the visit!

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Stop 3

We hopped on the tube to Oxford Circus so mum could have a mooch around Liberty. Then, we stopped for another cuppa.

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Stop 4

We walked to Covent Garden to enjoy the Christmas lights and stroll round the shops. Mum had been insisting on getting some gloves to go with my coat but nothing we saw worked. Thankfully, we were near Blackout II Vintage which had the perfect pair for me.

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Stop 5

If you’re in Covent Garden, I highly recommend a visit to Flesh and Buns. We’ve been going there for a couple of years and it never fails to be totally delicious. A margarita is a must because it is the best. We got lots of yummy things to share, leaving full and happy.

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All I can say is that we had such a good time – we ended up sleeping on the train home. Can’t wait to plan the next one!

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Papow Ponders #18: Multiculturalism In The Vintage Community

This week, Nora of @norafinds posted about multiculturalism in the vintage community. There was a great response with people tagging vintage lovers from a variety of backgrounds. Following the post, I spent some time considering this topic in greater depth. These are my personal views of what I have experienced and dealt with – obviously it’s not the same for everyone.

The vintage community, as with all communities, is at times problematic. Regarding multiculturalism, these problems rear their heads in different ways:

Archaic Views – Sadly, sections of the vintage community long for the ‘good old days’. If I went back in time, I’d be suffering much worse racial abuse, my marriage would be condemned and I probably wouldn’t be able to teach. Some people hold a rose-tinted view of the past and will defend their right to return to that life. I have had to explain on more than one occasion why golliwogs are racist and offensive. I have complained at a vintage event about a seller having racist paraphernalia on their stall. Don’t let me get started on the grim number of confederate flags on show. The thing that gets me with all this stuff is the response once you call it out. Some minimise the issue, some will ignore you and some will passionately argue that it’s OK. With right-wing politics on the rise and problematic figures in positions of power, this is a growing issue.

Lack Of Representation – There are a hell of a lot of vintage-loving POC. Under the umbrella of vintage, the majority of adverts, publications and imagery involves white people. It is not truly representative of the vintage community or what our past actually looked like. Why does this happen though? Take a look at the people at the top and find out who those decision-makers are. It’s this kind of culture that can make it difficult to really feel part of the vintage scene.

Cultural Appropriation – This has been an ongoing issue for many vintage reproduction companies. There are also those who want to recreate looks from the past but are ignorant of how problematic these looks might be. As with the above responses to archaic views, people have mixed reactions to feedback on cultural appropriation. It’s an issue because the styling and clothing of marginalised groups which have been mocked or denigrated for years suddenly become acceptable and celebrated when worn by others.

Silent Privilege and Hypocrisy – These come up time and time again in the vintage community. Silent privilege is when people have the power to say or do something but they don’t. Quite often when something problematic occurs, the response in ‘let’s just all be kind’ and the problem remains unaddressed. Hypocrisy is when someone says they stand for something but do nothing about it. There are a number of people who talk the talk on issues like multiculturalism but will still buy from problematic businesses, support questionable people and ignore difficult discussions. It is difficult to get your views across when you are either silenced or ignored.

Now I’m clearly not an expert on any of this but this is my experience and I know I’m not alone in my thoughts and feelings. I really debated whether or not to write this because I get anxious about responses. However, these issues need to be discussed and I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t say something.

What can you do to make a positive change? Educate yourself and others, listen to marginalised people, accept when you’ve done something wrong and use your privilege for good. All of us mess up (myself included) but how we react when we are given feedback makes a huge impact.

There are so many people out there fighting the good fight. There are accounts, businesses and publications that celebrate multiculturalism in vintage. There are people making their own spaces in the vintage community successfully. Change is happening but, as ever, more needs to be done.

 

 

A Very Merry Sketchmas

Being part of a family full of different religions, I’ve come to view xmas as a time for hanging out with family and friends. Luckily I’m surrounded by those who think similarly. My friend Becky lives quite close to us and we usually spend our time in our flat, eating something yummy and watching whatever takes our fancy while wearing our comfiest clothes. Becky suggested a bit of fun and glam for the holidays so we booked xmas afternoon tea at Sketch. My other half was up for coming along too. We also invited our friend Steph as the four of us are heading to Vegas next year. Steph lives in Liverpool so we can’t meet up as much as we’d like. A lovely bunch of people to spend some time with!

Our dress code was festive fabulousness and we all stepped up to the mark. I felt like a particularly dressy elf.

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As you might already know, I have been to Sketch on more than one occasion as I flippin’ love it! However, during festivities, it’s on a whole other scale…

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Food, as always, did not disappoint. Sketch is already quite a ridiculous place but the addition on carol singers and a ballerina dialled that up to eleven. It was mad and wonderful at the same time.

The people with whom I do these frivolous things are the same people I’d happily chat to on my sofa in my PJs but once in a while it’s nice to get dressed up and do something OTT. These experiences are all the better with good company. I think we might have to make this an annual tradition.

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Thank you to Nick, Becky and Steph for a most glorious day together!

Alternative Xmas Gifts

As some of you might know, my better half and I have been having a massive declutter of our flat. We’d come to the realisation that we have accrued way too much stuff over the past five years. Both of us have the potential to attach sentimental value to any random object so we’ve spent the last week being ruthless. The end should be in sight in the next couple of days. As all of this was going on, I started to consider the upcoming Xmas break. One of my friends sat me down and asked me what gifts I wanted – all I honestly wanted was time and energy (neither of which you can buy). With this in mind, I started to think of alternative Xmas gifts – ones that won’t clutter homes:

Cook

I truly believe that everyone has something they can cook well, whether it’s toast or soufflés. Cooking for someone is an act of love. Before dementia impacted my grandma’s life, she cooked for anyone and everyone who stepped through her front door. My mum does the same and I too love the ability to make people happy with food. Last year, a colleague who is quite the talented baker made me a coffee cake for Christmas and it was such a lovely gift to receive. Remember – it doesn’t have to be big or fancy, it just has to come from you.

Eat

If you’re low on time, ingredients, etc., take someone out for food. One of my favourite things to do is share good food with someone I care for. Again, it doesn’t need to be swanky and expensive. A good coffee and cake or a three course dinner – whatever works. My other half and I always take each other out for something to eat on our birthdays and it’s never a  bad experience.

Visit

This can easily be done cheaply or for free. Going to a gallery, museum, concert, etc. is a good way to treat someone and have some time to hang out together. I’ve started doing this more and more – my friend’s hen do, mum’s birthday and so on. Visiting different places is good for the soul in general so why not take someone with you?

Learn

You could either do this with someone or give a class as a gift. Learning is a lifelong gift and I’m not just saying that because I’m a teacher! There are so many things you could learn: dancing, cookery, languages, pottery and so much more. Also rather than finding an official class, you can ask someone who is an expert in their craft to teach. That talented baker I mentioned from work has taught baking skills. My sister has (tried) to teach me how to crochet. There are lots of learning opportunities.

Pamper

If you have some cash to splash, you could book someone a spa day. However you can still pamper someone on a budget. Grab a couple of face masks, put on your favourite TV show and paint your nails – instant pampering session. You can use items you have at home like coconut oil and sea salt to make inexpensive treatments too. It still feels like a treat.

Walk

Pick a place and walk around it. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting of gifts but it’s actually quite lovely. It’s often the way I meet up with most of my friends: choose a place, walk and get something to eat. I love exploring by myself but it’s much nicer when someone’s with you. It gives you time to talk and catch up, as well as giving you the opportunity to find out about new places. You can adapt it so it works for you.

Watch

This is something my family did a lot when we were younger. We’d grab our favourite films, put on our cosiest PJs and make nibbles for a movie day at home. It’s cheap, relaxing and fun. If you’ve got a friend or family member who’s in need of a duvet day and some rest, this is a good idea. I often do this with my other half or my friend, Becky.

Now, I’m aware that many people might as the question, “How are these Xmas gifts?”.  Thing is, for some, they might not be. All of these things take effort and organisation though. For me, I want to move away from material gifts because they seem more and more unnecessary. I also love being around people and doing things that make them smile and feel special.  What do you think? How do you deal with gift-giving?