Saturday, 16 August 2014

Silent Sunday 17th August 2014 #silentsunday #mysundayphoto



Friday, 15 August 2014

Book Reviews: Moranthology, How To Be A Woman and How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is a feminist icon I can relate to.  With newsworthy stunts such as the 'feminist smile' where she was met by a standing ovation after contorting her mummy-spongy-tummy into a wide grin for the applauding audience, showing us that stretch marks and saggy tums are not only okay, but normal, it is easy to see why. 
Self confessed and unashamedly raised on benefits and in council housing, Moran details how she has worked her way up from abject poverty in the concrete jungle of Wolverhampton to being one of the most relatable female role models of today and earning 'enough to buy a Nigella Lawson breadbin and eat in pizza express up to three times a week if she so chose'.

How to be a Woman (2012)

This was THE book whereby those not familiar with Morans journalistic and literary life thusfar meet her in the bestseller aisle, and after checking out the slight smirk and coiffured barnet on the cover, maybe once, maybe twice, maybe even going to the local library to find a copy and save a few precious pennies, and thought 'yes, I could do with some tutelage on my womanhood - I am afraid I may be missing the mark'. Conversely some more enlightened men or perhaps binary gendered peeps may have thought 'yes, I would like to hear someone else's perspective on what this whole "woman" gig entails'.
This is NOT what you will get from reading this book, so the title is perhaps a bit of a misnomer.  What you will be treated to however, should you deign to open the pages of this literary gem and full on 'opened your door in your bathrobe with a fag in your mouth' type of informal and sometimes squeamishly truthful book on Morans trials and tribulations with the whole trial by trial induction into being a woman.
It's true she's done better than many, having spent the last 20+ years working in some pretty high profile gigs and meeting some amazing people.  Her observations and opinions will make you howl with laughter, nod in recognition and perhaps cringe with discomfort, just like a cozy chat with a good friend would.

Moranthology (2013)

Following the success of How to be a Woman, Moranthology was released as a collection of previously published works cobbled together by the author into more or less book shaped thing.  It makes interesting reading and contains everything from celeb worship (with a large emphasis on Benedict Cumberbatch and Lady Gaga), funny anecdotes from the Moran/Paphides household (Pete Paphides being her long time friend, husband and father to their two girls), and the more serious 'setting the world to right' type stuff.  A must read for fans of her work.

How to Build a Girl (2014)

Though writing 'The Chronicles of Narmo' at age 15 (though the book was released last year) this is the first fictional offering from Moran 'the woman'. 
As is typical of a first novel, this work of fiction seems largely autobiographical.  With some names and places changed, we hear many of the anecdotes and life events from How to be A Woman and Moranthology come to pass. 
Following 'Johanna' a promising yet creatively stifled teen from Wolverhampton in her quest to better herself and make herself heard, essentially to make herself HER, How to Build a Girl does live up to its name.  In a thrilling but not always happy journey, we hear some of the self doubt and depression that does not show itself in the first two books creep in as we are taken on a first person tour of Johannas metamorphosis from Northern loser to London loving scene girl. Changing her clothes, her name, and inventing any necessary back story that helps her get where she wants to go, her lack of identity is apparent from the offing, and one can't help but fear for her safety and sanity at such a young age.
Thankfully a work of fiction with a very real inspiration, How to Build a Girl will resonate with anyone who felt that they, as the reader 'weren't quite there yet' when reading the first two books, and relate more to Morans teenage foraging in the dark (as well as much fumbling in the dark) for an identity she is yet to find.  The books timing couldn't be better though, as at the peak of her career, we know that Morans struggles with 'how to be a woman' had a pretty cracking ending!
My thoughts: Read each book in sequence.  You may hear some stories more than once, but they are well worth repeating.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

THE Wedding: The Dress The Hair The Shoes - How to build a Disabled Bride

 The Dress

Has been especially made for me - not only for my size and shape, but taking into account that I will be sat down for a good portion of the day.  Choosing a tea length dress has meant I haven't had to take into account trains snagging on wheels etc.  It will of course look miles better on me than it does in the stunning model above.

The Hat

Every bride needs to think carefully about what she's doing with her hair.  Clips, fascinators or tumbling curls are all for the taking.  For my vintage feel dress I am going for a cute little hat handmade by Karen at Mind Your Bonce.  The hat is very similar to the one above but made with the same lace as my wedding dress.  Her creations are stunning and the quality and attention to detail is amazing, so I can't want to don my custom creation on the day.

The Hair

Very similar to that of the model in the picture of my dress.  I am going to have some pin curls up the side and a slightly smoother bun.  I like a nice bouffy behive too.  The hat will be worn on the right.  I have had a run through with my hairdresser and it looks fabulous!

The Shoes

Their gorgeousness is nowhere near shown in this pic - but I do want the finished look to be a surprise, for you guys and for me.  I went for flats as my Daddy is going to walk me the few steps down the very short aisle, hopefully without either of us taking a tumble and with the aid of some awesome accessories.

The Crutches

Again sported by a gorgeous model and also my beautiful friend Gemma who is a model.  I have a pair of my own, but I thought I would let Gems show off the glamsticks that will enable my Daddy to walk me down the aisle while looking totally fabulous!

The accessories

I have a pile of pearls, diamonds, chokers and chains.  I am going to see what I think goes best on the day.

The Wheelchair

Is pretty boring and usually just comes along with me for the purposes of getting around, as it will on my special day.  It is a bit battered and bruised (much like myself) and will be spruced up with organza and silk flowers that match my bouquet.
And I think that's all I can really share without totally giving the game away.  Our big day is THIS SATURDAY 16th August so if you want to see pics before I pick the best ones for the blog and quickly delete the ones of me sneezing on the registrar or giving the photographer an unfortunate flash of my gusset, follow me on instagram for all the action as it happens.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Second chances: Remembering What Was and Moving Forward - Marriage Second Time Around

Todays blog post is totally stream of consciousness, as my head won't rest on pictures of dresses and centrepieces.  I still have time.  My wonderful fiancé just asked how I am feeling, as I have been unwell, and I replied 'maudlin and introspective'.  Other than mumbling....what? He kind of left me to it, as he knows me, and he knows I have to straighten things out on my own head before I can even begin to verbalise them.  I'm getting married in six days....SIX DAYS....and I am so happy, so so overwhelmingly pleased this is happening.  That at 32, I have already got my second chance.  But today I'm thinking of another girl, someone I've written of before on the blog, so you may recognise her.
She is 16 and scared.  So very scared.  She can only ever remember being scared, so in some ways it is comforting to her.  It is known.  She doesn't know what happy feels like, so scared feels like home, and even though it is not home, she runs there, to a different kind of scared, because she has no choice, and this different kind of scared might be better.  It just might.  She is pregnant, and though the year is 1999 she has been convinced that marrying the father is her only option.  Lies are easier to tell to someone who is young, damaged and afraid.  Over the coming decade, she will have two beautiful babies laid down in her arms, but will pay a big price.  She will lose her youth, her innocence, and very nearly her mind and her life.  When she marries the man, who on their wedding day is more than twice her age, who does not speak to her for the whole day, except to say I do, there are whispers of what will come.  Whispers in a language she does not yet know but will soon come to understand.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about her, and feeling thankful that, unlike this young girl, I am 32 and have had a chance to live.  My body is weary and battle-scarred, and I have lost more than I had ever hoped to acquire in my 32 years, but what I have gained is perspective, maturity and a mind that is my own.  I know I am making the choice to marry my fiancé because I love him, and not because I have been painted into a corner with no way to get out.  I am glad to be 32.  I am glad to have an identity of my own.
Avicii - Wake Me Up
Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can't tell where the journey will end
But I know where it starts
They tell me I'm too young to understand
They say I'm caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don't open up my eyes
Well that's fine by me

So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost

So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost

I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
I hope I get the chance to travel the world
And I don't have any plans
I wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life's a game made for everyone
And love is a prize

So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost

So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost

I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know I was lost
I didn't know I was lost
 A thousand individual heartbreaks, a thousand lost reasons to smile.  A thousand missed opportunities, a thousand farewells.  But I did not sleep through it - I lived through it.
Thank you Jason for finding me, and helping me find myself.  I didn't know I was lost.


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Silent Sunday 10th August 2014 #silentsunday #mysundayphoto



Friday, 8 August 2014

Equal Transport Rights for All: Disability Discrimination Does It Again - Ableism in Action

Consider this.  In the course of one planned trip you have multiple taxis and buses drive past you without stopping.  You have bus and train drivers shout at you, citing 'no room' and 'no time'.  What's more, this follows a six hour delay that saw others getting to their destinations hours ahead of you, while you sat on and watched.  Of course you'd be enraged, disappointed and left wondering why the transport system would have such a hard time providing a basic level or service to you, one they were obliged by law to provide.
And then you remember... The world that has been telling you that you can do whatever you set your mind to, that if you can dream you can achieve... is not much use if you can't venture past your own front door.  For your disability is the inconvenience of the able bodied, and despite paying twice as much as those without disabilities, you get only a fraction of the service on public transport.
Sunday 9am: Arrive at the train station only to be told there is a bus connection replacing this stop and it does not take wheelchairs.  You ask what their plan is for passengers in wheelchairs and are told there is none.  You should have pre-booked.  Explain quite nicely that if you could have pre-booked a fully functioning body you would have.  That they have a duty of care to provide the same service to disabled passengers as to the able bodied ones who are off to their destination on the bus.
Sunday 1pm: Finally get to the station the next town over after lots of coffee and secret tears in the toilet. 
Sunday 2pm: Arrive in London Waterloo.  You are well travelled and have been here many times.  You know your way around. 
Sunday 2.15pm: Flag down the correct bus.  Driver spots you waving and in a wheelchair but lets on a full bus load of people before you.  Those people take up the designated wheelchair space on the bus.  Despite your partner and carer verifying with the bus driver that you were seen, driver shouts at your partner asking 'what do you expect me do, tell these people go get off'?  Unfortunately this is not new, and buses have been known to drive straight past because they can't be bothered to let down the hydraulic ramp that all London buses are fitted with.  Wait for next bus.
Sunday 4.30pm: Arrive at destination after braving buses and their contentious drivers.  You are five hours later than you should have been, even with the transport times that are often 4-5 times that of transport which is inaccessible to you as a disabled traveller.  You have no time to rest, as you had planned, only cry, take more pain medication and attend your event.
Monday 10am: Take your level access route pre-determined by the Transport for London (TFL) site.  Level access is supposed to mean no steps, but the TFL and the bus/train/taxi companies have a shaky grasp of what the word 'level' means.
level (adjective): at the same height
Monday PM: Miss Mondays meeting altogether because of trains and buses.  More of same.
Tuesday am: Try to get home.  Get told by one guard that Waterloo has lifts working.  Driver says different and tells you to get off stop before.  Again skewed understanding of level access.  Much wheel spinning and bruised spine.
After trek to Waterloo, guard for your train, who is responsible for fetching the ramps each train is equipped with tells you that with five minutes left till the train leaves, he does not have time to get you on the train.  He is standing next to the ramps so you insist.  He asks you if you have pre-booked and you present him with tickets.  He murmurs, 'I'll just go to ask....urm...'.
He does not return, you watch him moments later jump on the train and blow the whistle for the train to leave.  The train departs without you.  You cry, again!
Now, if this were an isolated incident I could see people saying I was making a fuss over nothing.  That I should be glad of my 'seat' in the train next to the smelly toilets and that there are such facilities to help me on board.  I should be so very grateful to be included in the world of able bodied people, and cheerfully laugh off the incidents where I am left, dalek like (the old fashioned ones, before they could fly - man, flying would make this whole disability gig so much easier) in front of a kerb whose precarious 'drop' has been neglected altogether, and chortle with friends later in the pub about how I nearly got mowed down by a double decker after being left with no choice but to travel a portion of the pavement in the side of the road.
So why do I do this to myself, if my feeble body and darn fragile emotions not only need me to be accompanied at all times to ensure my safety (enter devoted husband to be), but leave me feeling in the least bit upset at being ignored, devalued, subjugated and nearly flattened.  How thin skinned can you get?
On a normal day, in my 'day job' as cripple behind a computer, fighting 'da man' with my words and my (surprisingly to some) still fully functioning brain, I am just that, an equal rights campaigner.  When I'm not exhausted and beaten down, I fight the good fight of raising awareness of inequality across the board, so that not only myself and my peers, but generations to come will not have to deal with this complete and total bullshit!
Without people speaking up and highlighting the gross inconsistencies in treatment faced by contingents of society for whom policy apparently already exists, how can we expect things to change, to get better?  When people making these policies are 'unaware' that they are not being actioned on the ground, in real everyday life, we need to find a way of making them listen, making them aware, and making them give a shit about the effect that this sort of deliberate discrimination has on real people, with real lives, and not just a bunch of numbers on a sheet.

Friday, 1 August 2014

My History of Hair Loss: The Frightning Phenomena of Women Losing Their Hair

Hair loss can be a touchy subject even for men who, to some extent, accept it as a natural part of aging.  For women it can be devastating and really impact self esteem.  Here's a little bit about my own personal battle with hair loss.

Having always had a head full of very thick full hair (which I write about probably all to often), I kind of took it for granted.  Hair loss was, in my mind, something that happened to men as they got older, and was something that would never effect me.  So when, nearly 3 years ago I found a 10p piece size bald spot while washing my hair, I was pretty deeply distressed.  I obsessed over this very minor hair loss as much as the very stressful situation I was going through at the time. 
From the day I found the bald spot, more and more hair came out each time I washed.  In a few short weeks I went from having a thick mane of hair to counting the bald spots on my head, and throwing great balls of hair which was gathering round the drain into the bin.  This was more than was natural, I knew this.  Before long I had lost most of my hair.  It had previously been long, thick and curly, though partway through my journey to near baldness, I took off most of the length so its patchiness wasn't so obvious, and so the frightening amount of hair I lost each time I washed my hair would not look so bad.
I consulted my Doctor, and there was nothing she could do.  I considered a wig, but instead bought colourful bandanas to hide the worst of it.  I had a little rats tail of gathered hair out the back but that was it.  It looked like a small ponytail, so only I really knew how much hair I had lost as I hid it from those around me.  In truth I was ashamed and embarrassed.  I met my soon to be husband at this time and hid it from him too.  When we knew each other a little better, I would not even stay round his house for the night for fear of my bandana coming off and him finding out that I was, at least in my mind, a bald freak.

A rare photo from my year of hair loss
Looking back I remember those feelings so vividly, almost more than the terrible life issues that I was going through at the time.  It was as if my hair loss was a physical manifestation of the deep sorrow I felt, despite meeting the love of my life.

In hindsight I should have sought help.  Spiritual help, to deal with the turmoil in my life and medical help to deal with the hair loss.  Trichology is something I had vaguely heard about on shampoo adverts, but it is so much more than just wash and go.  Shuna Hammocks has worked at the world renowned Kingsley Institute in London, and in 2011 she opened Sussex Trichology.  Understanding and treating the causes of hair loss are what trichology is all about, and Shuna aims to spread the message that we needn't live with hair loss.  With the aid of her assistant, she is able to treat hair loss, scalp problems and out of condition hair.  Having worked in the industry for over 14 years, and like myself being a working Mum to two children, she knows just how upsetting it can be to feel powerless to control something which has become synonymous with ones identity.

My hair has since grown back and is as thick, frizzy and out of control as ever, but I won't ever take it for granted again, and if I were to experience hair loss again in the future, I would not hesitate to get help from a professional.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Live Happy August Linkup #LiveHappyCampaign

Being happy is something we all strive for, but what does it really mean, and how to we get there?  Living happy is about not only marking the positives in day to day life, but trying to actively create happiness through positive experiences and relationships.

Live Happy is a link up created by myself and Yaya as a way to deliberately spread positivity, a way to show how we cultivate happiness in our lives, and also as a way to share those happy moments that well, just happen. As many of you know, I am a big proponent for anything that can help keep us mentally healthy. It can sometimes be quite struggle to keep us from going through the motions, and to keep ourselves from being overwhelmed with the constant life pressures that seem to be pulling us in all directions. Live Happy will be a monthly link up (for now) that will give you the opportunity to share how you choose to live happy.  



To keep up do date with all the latest ways to live and to stay happy, follow me here and Yaya here

As well as linking up blog posts, you can also join in via twitter, facebook and instagram using the hashtag #LiveHappyCampaign
Whether it's hints and tips, moments that melt your heart or pictures that make you smile, we can't wait to see and read them all!
Please display the button on all blog posts so we can link back to you - just use the grab code below the image


Grab the code!*" title="Around and Upside Down" alt="Around and Upside Down" />


London College of Fashion: 2014 Show at The Yard - Fresh Young Talent - Part 1

I am more than a little bit in love with LCF London and all it does.  Right off Oxford Street, this hallowed institution shapes eager young men and women into the fashion designers of tomorrow, moulding raw talent and passion for fashion as an art form into practical yet expressive and fresh skills ready to create the sort of sumptuous collections of clothing fit to grace a catwalk.
This year, I was lucky enough to attend an event that showcased the fresh young talent doing just that.  Here are some of the amazing creations that were lovingly draped over stunning models who professionally promenaded the catwalk so that the press, the students and perhaps most importantly for the creators of the collections, the judges.
I took literally 100's of photos, capturing the collections in their entirety.  From the wonderfully wearable to the perfectly peculiar, there wasn't one single submission I felt I could leave out.  Therefore, this is part one of my personal coverage of the event.
I think the photographs speak to the impeccably high standards at the show.  The clothes themselves were perfectly complimented by the professionally applied MAC makeup and hair by Tony & Guy.  The thrumming beats of the music that accompanied the models cakewalk added to an atmosphere that, for me, outclassed that of any nightclub.  My heart is beating a little faster as a recall the outstanding event.
Part 2 coming shortly, with a video roundup of all the outfits on show and pictures from the fantastic exhibition and after party that followed.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

29th July: National Lipstick Day - Lucsious Lips Linkup - Pucker Up People

That is right, it's National Lipstick Day and what better way to celebrate than with a compact mirror in one hand and your fave lippy in another.  Come lunchtime, refresh your lipstick and swap that compact for a chilled glass of something fizzy.  Now you're talking!
I promised luscious lips, but I'm afraid you will have to make to with mine in what it more a tribute, an ode of you will, to the lip-smackingly gorgeous properties of the humble lipstick.

The above two lip colours are from the Kate Moss for Rimmel collection pictured below

Scrolling through my pictures and past posts, I have realised that I often concentrate far more on eyes than on lips, with the humble exception of my Maleficent Makeover posted yesterday on the blog.

The vivid red in this look is from Make Up Forever and is applied with a retractable lip brush from Real Techniques.  You can see how to recreate the look in this post.
I don't know about you, but my thirst for lippy is nowhere near satiated.  To that end I invite you all to link up any lip related posts, but keep it above the waist ladies ;-)
Any post with lipstick swatches, full makeup selfies, tips on lip care, tips on lip hair....I want them all and I want them now - so please do link up below so myself and my readers can marvel over your magnificent lip posts!


PS. If all that lippy has wheted your appitite - visit Debenhams online for £5 of lip products including brands like Mac, Too Faced, Doir and Illamasqua.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Maleficent Makeover - makeup tutorial: Fancy Dress or Fantasy - the Most Maleficent Disney Princess

I love posting makeup tutorials, but this one was the most fun I've had in a while.  More for Mums getting their fancy dress on for Halloween or a costume party than dark but loveable mini Angelinas in waiting, though I'm sure the look could be scaled down for daughters who look up the evil queen more than Snow White.  Don't dissuade that whatever you do, high powered women are where it's as career wise, though I would to anything to have the animals of the forest come and do my housework.

This look requires a super bold lip.  I started by lining my lips with black khol and filling with pillar box red lipstick using my Real Techniques retractable lip brush.  This look is inclined to bleed, so trace outside the lips with a brush concealer, the sort you'd use on your undereyes.  Blend inwards for a crisp finish.

Tools of the trade
Apply base however you see fit, but you can afford to go heavy on the base with this look.  You want to look made up with perfectly porcelain skin.  I used No7 Stay Perfect foundation which I had colour matched for me at Boots and I love it

I used a subtle hint of bronzer applied with a natural fluffy brush in a figure of 3 round the sides of my face.  Not necessary if you don't like bronzer, but I think it adds a little depth to ones complexion.

Arched brows work for this.  I used the W7 Just Brows which was easy enough to use.

Get your Scotch Tape on.  My top tip for anyone struggling with winged eyeliner is to use a short length of Scotch Tape (I use branded as it sticks well bit doesn't interfere with my makeup when I take it off).  Stick from the corner of your eye to where your brows end and use this as a guide for the wing.  You can draw over the tape all you want but when you peel it off you will get a crisp wing, as in the top right hand picture.

Full bold liner - I like lined the lower lashes too, once I had peeled off my tape.  I also took it outwards in the inner corner for a stronger look.  One thing I would have done here but didn't would be to use a little white khol right in the corner of the eye as it really brightens them up.

False lashes - for a more dramatic look, falsies are the key.  These Ardell false fashes were super easy to apply, even for someone such as myself who uses them pretty infrequently.  A couple of coats of quality mascara finish the look.
And here's the finished look.  Not quite Angelina Jolie but the look certainly had drama.  I finished off with two elongated buns and a wicked demeanour to try and carry off the Maleficent magic.  With a black cloak I think there would be no confusion as to the inspiration for your Maleficent makeover.


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Silent Sunday 27th July 2014 #silentsunday #mysundayphoto



Thursday, 24 July 2014

My #Britmumslive Blogging Conference Roundup: Good Friends Good Times - The Chocolate and the Wine

I doubt that anyone reading this will not know about Britmums live and has probably heard so much about it. To that end I will make this short and sweet, but could not leave it unmarked.
This is me in a nutshell, so is anyone saw the above person at the above location, it was meeeee!  A retrospective hello to you!  Because that was the thing that struck me most about what was my first ever blogging conference, I spent the whole time there talking with people who I felt like I knew already after having read their blogs.  This means talking, hugs, squealing and merriment - it was a total blast!  I have to confess that as a pretty shy person I worried that I would spend the whole time in the corner while the 'real bloggers' got down to business, but that couldn't have been further from the case.  There wouldn't have been enough hours in the day to speak to everyone I had wanted to unless we had set up some sort of macabre speed dating type scenario.  Much ground has been covered since on social media which I am glued to.  Anyone in the same position, especially if you often find yourself awake well into the AMs do follow me on twitter.  There are actually quite a gaggle of us., and my gorgeous fiancé Jason.  He's my helper in chief and in charge of opening doors and things so we are rarely apart.  Together we make the perfect person, and I think that has to be anyone's definition of a soul mate.
Some snaps with Joanna from Ojos World, Jo from  My Monkeys Don't Sit Still, Claire from Ninja Killer Cat and below Kathryn from Bumps and Grind.  I chatted with so many other people, to many to mention by name, but didn't get my camera out nearly enough.  Something I will remedy next year - yes, my ticket is already booked!
My photos of the Brilliance in Blogging awards and of the conference talks themselves were not great, so I have only included a couple for flavour.
In short:  I laughed, I was moved to tears, I was touched, I smiled, I felt deep connections and all within 30 minutes of arrival.  I listened to people who have used their efforts to inspire change, and who shared their gifts for entertaining others.  A world of difference in the people who attended, with two things in common.  We were all parents, and all bloggers.  In a world where technology makes it so easy to connect with information yet often so hard to connect with people, I am so proud to be in an industry that marries up the two.