Archive for March, 2012

March 9, 2012

Marni for H&M

So, Marni for H&M…

Having said I wasn’t going to go and look, I went and looked. In my defence, the store was quiet and civilised without a queue in sight. Granted, the clothes were behind two security guards, but considering the hype surrounding the stores in London (queueing in 7am chaos, wristband entry) I am worried that the folk in Leeds don’t know a good thing when they see it.

And, yes it was a good thing, I think. Marni is quite a unique label. Those of us who have loved it forever are possibly feeling a bit resentful about this recent surge in popularity caused by their collaboration with H&M. Especially if the people lining up in the queue are the same people who queued for Versace not so long ago. In my mind, a Versace woman cannot be a Marni woman. Am I wrong?

Marni, launched in 1994, remains a family business, headed up by Consuelo Castiglioni. Famous for its blocky prints, colour clashing, unusual shapes, draping and assymetry, it is a fashion line designed for women who care about what other women think. In my opinion (and I suspect I’m not alone in thinking this) men just don’t understand Marni. They don’t find the vintage looking colours, clashing prints,  low hemlines or the loose balloon hems attractive. Perhaps this is part of the appeal It’s been an insiders label. Now it is not. But I’m glad really, although I do hope that, despite this surge in popularity and brand awareness, it remains a family owned business against the huge conglomerates. I bet LVMH would love to have it as part of their stable.

So, then, what did I buy? One piece and one piece only. Partly because I’m poor and partly because I was considered in my approach. My questions to myself all the way through ran along the lines of “Do I want it because it is Marni on the cheap, or do I want it because it looks great, fits into my wardrobe and will actually get worn?”

I bought this. I love it. It’s in a lovely light fabric, with a flattering elasticated bubble hemline. I’m taking it to Rome with me for a start. When I come back I’ll continue the search for more Marni online (at The Outnet) because I suspect the Leeds store will have emptied by then…

March 7, 2012

Taking Part: Why Twitter has changed my life.

As the mother of small children, it is very easy for me to find myself living in an ever-shrinking world. With a daily routine of school, play-group and work, punctured by the occasional holiday, life can get very small. The people I meet are parents at the school gates, or colleagues in the office. It is difficult making friends as a grown up.

As part of my 35:35 Challenge, I joined Twitter and it has changed the relationship I have with the city I live in. My world is expanding again.

Last Friday, I met fifteen people for drinks and dinner. Of that fifteen, only one was a friend in real life. One was the lovely Abi, who I’d met once before and the rest were strangers to me and in most cases to each other, apart from our relationship on Twitter. Strangers who managed to chat effortlessly for an entire evening, resulting in me finally tipping my cocktail-and-steak filled self into bed after midnight. Excellent.

Not only has Twitter resulted in cocktails, it has sent me to Bettakultcha,  Playful Leeds, and ‘Homage to Fromage‘ cheese club. I’ve been introduced to a whole new world in the city that I’ve lived in since 2003, and never even knew existed. One of creative spirits, independent retailers, small scale events covering every subject under the sun, and of people who endlessly inspire me. It’s a great thing for someone like me who is interested in everything. The main problem I have now is fitting it all into my life, and that is another story altogether. Next on the list of things I’d like to try are  are LeedsLetters and the knitting-and-cocktails group, Yarnia. It’s knitting and cocktails! I think we’ve discovered through my inability to crochet, that knitting and I are never going to be great friends but I think I’ll feel a lot more optimistic about the whole thing with a drink or two. At the very least I’ll feel more creative, even if I can’t even cast on.

When I tell people that Twitter has changed my life, there are two main responses. From the group of people who have never used Twitter, there is a raising of the eyebrows and a bit of poorly-disguised sniggering. From the other group, who are as addicted to it as I am, there is a knowing nod. To use Twitter the way I now use it, you need to follow local, real people, not celebrities. You need to talk and ask questions. You need to get involved and turn up to events. Social media is often blamed for preventing people from forming proper relationships and reducing ability to make true connections.

The people who say this clearly weren’t at our table on Friday night…

March 5, 2012

Handbag Contents: What does a blogger carry?

I’ve seen quite a few of these posts over the years. The bag contents of bloggers are neatly laid out for us all to peruse and everything is chic, well designed and organised. So, feeling a bit inspired by this, I thought I might have a go myself.

The bag I carry around everyday is my beloved Mulberry Antony. The large version of this is big enough for a book or magazine, and even though I am notorious for over-filling bags to breaking point, it seems to absorb all my rubbish very well. Plus, and very importantly for me, it leaves my hands free for catching wayward toddlers before they step off the nearest ledge, hailing buses, messing about with Iphone apps or reading a book.

So let’s have a look what is in there. I’ve basically tipped everything out of it onto the floor. I may be doing this wrong…

The only thing you can’t see here is my iPhone because that’s what I used to take the photo, but believe me, it’s there ALL the time. iLimb, as my lovely friend calls it.

In amongst the jumble and ignoring the old bus tickets, there are things that I’ll point out.

  • My lovely dinosaur purse from Sew You.
  • This week’s edition of Stylist magazine. I adore Stylist magazine and the daily Emerald Street email they send out too.
  • Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve. As someone who is often changing nappies, cooking or gardening, I wash my hands a lot, so they get sore. I’m really wary of having old lady hands so am obsessed with great hand cream.
  • One small sock. Probably the sole survivor of a pair. I have no idea why it is in my bag, but it’s the kind of thing I’m likely to be carrying around. To be honest, I’m surprised there isn’t a toy car in here.
  • A giant chewy sweet, taken from my son who decided it was perfect breakfast food. We disagreed. I may eat this to save him from the tooth decay.
  • My beloved orange leather gloves bought in Florence, Italy. I love orange but this is the closest I get to wearing it, as it doesn’t really suit my skin tone.
  • Two books. This is why the bloody bag is so heavy! One of these is my library book. I’m reading through all the Agatha Raisin murder-mystery series at the moment. They’re very engaging and so easy to read. The second book is called ‘A Boat in Our Baggage’ by Maria Coffey, which I’ve borrowed in preparation for my Epic Kayaking Adventure in the Lake District. Which is really a little paddle, but in my head is now ‘Swallows and Amazons’ (and before you say it, I know they didn’t kayak!) so I need the inspiration.

The silver bag is my Emergency Pouch. I recommend one of these. Inside this I keep painkillers and other medications, things that women need (you know…) spare contact lenses, lipstick, and for some reason, earrings. Never had an earring emergency but it could happen. Having it all in the pouch (and remembering to replace stuff you’ve used) means you can just take it all out of one bag at once and drop into another. Handy.

In the emergency pouch are also two make up saviours: Posie Tint by Benefit and Laura Mercier cheek cream in ‘Canyon’. If I’m looking for a bright, but light way of freshening up my face, I use the Posie Tint on my cheeks and lips. I love the Benefit stains, as they just don’t wear off. If I’m after a simpler but healthy look, I’ll use a bit of the cheek cream instead. It’s a great light terracotta type colour that seems to suit everyone and just gives me a healthy glow.

So, this what I carry around. Alongside this is usually a small notebook and pen too, in case I need to remember something. As an inveterate list writer, this is essential, although I’ve started to use the notes function on my phone more often. One thing you can’t see here is a giant DSLR camera. That’s because I don’t have one. There is a plan afoot though, so hopefully one day soon you’ll see better photos on the site!

What do you carry around in your bag every day? Do let me know, I’m unashamedly nosy…

March 2, 2012

Life: The Bucket List

There is a danger that this post is going to disintegrate into one long cliché. I want you to know now, right at the start, that if it does, it is not merely through laziness or an inability to form an opinion. It is because clichés are rolled out all the time because they are true. Often there is just no better way of putting it.

Here’s one: Life is Short.  Although we all plan to be around a really long time, we just never know what might happen; what tomorrow might bring. Recent events have made this painfully clear. I lost a friend recently. Not a hugely close friend, but someone who always arrived with a smile. Someone I was always pleased to see and who had shared one of my happiest days, my wedding day, with me. The funeral was yesterday. I was saddened most of all to finally meet her son, of whom she was so very, very proud, on one of the worst days of his life.

One of the things that I always loved and admired about my friend was the way in which she threw herself into her life with such commitment, passion, dedication. In work and in play, she followed her dreams and ambitions, completing a degree whilst working and raising her son. Learning to dance and dancing all around the world.

I have a Bucket List. We all do, don’t we? Written down or in our heads, it’s the thing to have. I wrote mine down years ago. Every so often I get it out of the drawer in which it sits, take a look at it, confirm that yes, these are the things I want to do before I die. Then I carefully put it back in the drawer again. Then…nothing. I do nothing about it. Nothing to move forward on any of my plans, my big dreams. I know that some of them are not possible for the moment. I cannot imagine taking the kids on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Mongolia so I can say in a ger and see Prezwalski’s Horse in the wild. But not everything on the list is so difficult.

Doing my 35:35 Challenge and completing several smaller challenges, has begun to change my mind-set into one of doing and less of thinking and (if I’m really honest) of making excuses and procrastinating. Now I need to take that approach with the bigger things I want to do. Learn to say ‘yes’ more often instead of ‘no’. Learn to be creative, to find ways of doing what I want and dream of doing, whilst at the same time keeping my lovely family happy too. Being a scanner means having such a giant list of things that I want to achieve that it becomes all too easy to freeze with indecision because you really don’t know where to start and get worried that by taking one course of action, you immediately close off another. This doesn’t have to be the case. Movement is good.

I’m going to take my Bucket List out of the drawer and to look at each thing on it. Then I’m going to work out whether it’s something that I can do now, or something that will need to happen later. For the ones that feel more achievable now, I am going to take the first step on each. Lesley Garner once wrote a brilliant article called ‘Stepping Stones’ in which she describes how we can get anywhere and do anything with stepping stones. I think that the Impossible League feels the same. Take your first step towards the impossible and then the second…

So, my message to you is this. Life is Short. Please make sure you live it the way you really want to. Take that first step to achieving your dreams. Follow what really makes you happy, not what you think should make you happy. Because you really, really never know what tomorrow might bring.