21 Jul 2016

Makes of late - July

It's been a productive summer so far and what with my self-imposed clothes buying ban (except for a swimsuit), I have a feeling that there'll be a few more makes to come before we reach September.

Anyhoo, here's what's been under my sewing machine lately...

Baby quilt (which I blogged about here) // Scout tee (which you might recognise from my Me Made May post) // patchwork sleep mask // self drafted day dress

This was my first Scout tee and my first attempt at set-in sleeves. They're not a complete disaster but they are a bit puffy. Overall I'm happy with it - it's wearable (always a bonus when making clothes) - but it's a bit boxy which is probably due to my fabric choice. Don't get me wrong I luuurve the print but the material, although it's some cotton blend, it's quite stiff. I reckon this tee might be better in a lawn...

As much as I love these daylight savings hours, a combination of 4:30 sunrises and crap blinds means that I've been waking much too early for my liking. The sleep mask then was born out of need rather than whim. It's patchwork and quilted with some wadding in the middle. I cut it into a vague sleep mask shape before covering the edges with bias binding. I had some rather nice stretch cotton lace lying around so I stitched it to the otherwise boring elastic. Pretty simple but a cute (and useful) item nonetheless :)

Last but not least is my latest bit of dressmaking, finished last weekend, a self drafted day dress. Again, not a complete disaster but the zip isn't my finest bit of sewing. I have a long history of zip struggles and it really doesn't seem to be getting better with practice! Fortunately it's at the side which means it's not some huge monstrosity going down the back. The fabric is super light and airy, perfect for this spell of hot weather we seem to be having!

Next in the pipeline: possibly another baby quilt (a friend has just had her second bubba); more tees and hopefully more dresses...watch this space!

17 Jul 2016

three days in Edinburgh

In between finishing my old job and starting my new one, I managed to get a few days off, and, what with the rumour of cheap flights being v.much true (45 quid return!), Mitch and I decided to spend three nights in beautiful Edinburgh last month.

It was my first ever visit to the city so you should've seen my face when I stepped off the tram at Princes Street: there's the castle, the gallery, the Scott monument, calton hill in the distance, not to mention Princes Street Gardens. Edinburgh is, frankly, just stunning, no wonder so many people have been (and continue to be) inspired by it's incredible history, architecture and culture. As you can probably tell, I loved it immediately but these are some of my highlights:

Arthur's seat
For a capital city, Edinburgh sure is green and, taking advantage of the amazing weather on our first day, Arthur's Seat was our first port of call. It's a bit of walk, nothing too gruelling (although I'd suggest wearing decent footwear) and the views from the top of the extinct volcano are incredible.

Camera Obscura
The weather on our third day was not so wonderful so we descended upon the world of trickery and illusion, aka Camera Obscura. It's touristy but super fun (with lots of amusing photo opportunities).

Free walking tour
One of the best bits of advice we got was to take one of these, it was most excellent! Our guide was engaging and v.knowledgable, he took us to a number of parts of the city which we'd never have come across on our own such as greyfriars kirkyard (below).

Live music
Mitch knew of a gem of a pub, The Royal Oak, which was absolutely tiny but had the best live music (guitar, banjo, uke, mandolin playing patrons) we heard the whole holiday.

Hot damn was there some good grub in Edinburgh, from breakfast (waffles with bacon, brie and maple syrup at Saint Giles Cafe & Bar) to lunch time snacks (pulled pork buns at Oink) to dinner (fish and chips at the Old Kings Head in Leith). And speaking of Leith, it's home to what seemed to be some of the best places to eat in Edinburgh, my favourite was probably V Deep, the curry was excellent and they had an extensive selection of delicious beers.

Other good stuff: Calton Hill (although the observatory was closed which was a shame); Portobello beach (it was pretty cold right on the coast but luckily there was a v.cute van selling crepes and a pub on the sea front); taking a two hour nap amongst the beautiful flowers in Princes Street Gardens :)

There was lots we didn't get around to in Edinburgh (the castle, the vaults, the writers museum) so I guess that means I'll just have to visit again which suits me fine :)

6 Jul 2016

Reading & Seeing 29

I've got a fair amount (for me anyway) of reading done over the last three months, and an interesting mix of books at that, I'll begin with In a Dark Dark Wood. Our protagonist, Nora, a solitary writer living in London, is invited to an old school friends' hen weekend. Against her better judgement, she attends and so ensues the most twisted and bloody hen do I've ever encountered. It's definitely a page turner and Ruth Ware kept my interest all the way to the end. The school girl relationships, bitchiness and heirachy was very relatable, I remember how some girls at my school were much the same as Claire, which is why I didn't quite get why the hell Nora would put herself back in close proximity to that. Also, would she really still be pining after her high school boyfriend? The biggest plot problem for me was the motive behind everything (a lot of effort over something kinda trivial?). Still, an enjoyable read.

I finally got around to reading The Alchemist and, for all its acclaim, I feel I must have missed something. To me the story read like some sort of teaching or parable from the Bible, ie: two dimensional characters, not much in the way of description, a 'message' at the end. *shrugs* I'm not sure what the fuss is about...From alchemy (although the alchemist is barely even in the book) to Authority, the second instalment of the Southern Reach Trilogy. In contrast to the mission based narrative of the first book, Authority is set within the Southern Reach agency and written from the perspective of its newly appointed director. It doesn't have the pace of the first book nor the stripped back cast of characters but it certainly creates more intrigue as we learn more about the mysterious (and expanding!) Area X. I cannot wait to read the last book (I'm actually kind of savouring it), I just hope it answers some of my hundred questions!

Big Magic and My Brilliant Friend were both blook club choices. The former was the perfect example of why joining a book club is a good idea: it forces you to read books you'd never normally pick up. I purchased Big Magic on my kindle but had I bought a physcial copy I would have found it (or not found it) in the self help section. Never have I read a self help book but actually I was pleasantly surprised, perhaps because it didn't really feel like a self help book (or what I imagined one to be like). Certain parts of the book are a little difficult to swallow and there is an emphasis on writing and a feeling that the book is aimed at aspiring writers, but Elizabeth Gilbert has some great stories and anecdotes and I felt very inspired to get on and create stuff once finishing it. My Brilliant Friend (written by the annonymous writer known as Elena Ferrante) follows the story of a friendship between two girls growing up near Naples. I've not seen a bad word said about this book, and I won't start! As a reader you're completely emmersed in the world of the two central characters, the writing is deliciously detailed and rich and you really get a sense of the inner-most thoughts and feelings of the narrator. This is only the first instalment (thank god, the end was a right cliffhanger) and I cannot wait to read book no. 2! 

The last book I read was A Hologram for the King. Having enjoyed Dave Eggers' The Circle, I thought I'd give another one of his a whirl but meh, I can't say it did much for me (I also can't see why they wanted to make a film out of it). Set around the initial construction of a new Dubai-like settlement in the Saudi desert, not a great deal happens, it felt like the reader too is living an empty life waiting and waiting until the King arrives so that Alan, our protagonist can deliver his presentation to demonstrate the hologram technology to be used in the new development. For me the book felt as vacuous as the incomplete city itself, but maybe that was the point?

I also had a bit if a catch up on some recent (and not so recent) marvel movies. X-Men: Apocolypse, although it had some excellent set pieces (anything with Quicksilver; Wolverine's cameo) and brilliant casting (Sophie Taylor as Jean Grey!), overall it was too long and pretty cheesy (Apocolypse "learning" through the TV; Magento shacking up in the woods? Please). A much better 'ensemble' movie, for me, was Captain American: Civil War. Again, excellent casting, script, action sequences and how flipping ace was Spiderman??!!! Which brings me on nicely to Ant-Man. Why I missed it in the cinema, I don't know! Paul Rudd is absolutely perfect and coupled with the fact that Edgar Wright had a hand in the script, it was a winner for me. Lastly, we recently watched Deadpool. I know everyone collectively lost their sh*t over this film, but I gotta say, I didn't get the hype. Yeah it was funny in places (mostly thanks to Man of Steel) but the over the top abnoxious-ness of Deadpool didn't make him likeable, give me Ant-Man any day :)

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