Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brighton Lights - A whirlwind trip back to my hometown

Modern Brighton Postcard

Brightonians (as we call ourselves) are notoriously filled to the brim with pride in our fantastic city. Yes, Brighton IS a city! I count myself so very lucky to have grown up in this wonderful place, and I'd love to bring my kids up here too. It's big enough that I could become street-wise, but small enough that I'd ALWAYS run into someone I knew when wandering around town, and it's sandwiched so beautifully between the seaside and the countryside. I've always loved Brighton but I've never appreciated it as much as I do now that I live in London. Much as I love the bustle of London, and the fact that you can pretty much get EVERYTHING here, there's nothing quite like the inclusive, friendly atmosphere of Brighton. Case in point: I received four compliments on my skirt in Brighton, and whilst I know my skirt is fabulous, I've never received an innocent compliment about my fashion choices in London!

Colourful houses Brighton
Chicwish Neon Lights Skirt Blog
Alleyway fashion shoot
Bokeh skirt blogger style

We decided to travel down to Brighton for the day on an absolute whim. I missed my hometown and if you've got a rail card and you go on the slow train, a day return from London only costs £6. We wandered around the shops, ate hearty donburis at Pompoko, a super cheap and cheerful Japanese place, wandered some more, and had an incredible vegetarian dinner at my favourite restaurant Terre à Terre. We had a tapas plate to share, and a sharing dessert too. Both were absolutely beautiful, complex and perfect. I've wanted to take Dan to Terre à Terre for years now, and I'm so glad we went.

terre a terre tapas review
terre a terre dessert menu

Bellies full, we waddled along the rapidly darkening seafront to the glowing lights of the pier, because Dan has never been to the pier at night. I had a great time playing with the light to make it match my skirt, and telling Dan all about all of the different memories I had of times I spent on this pier in my childhood and adolescence. We walked right to the end, looked out to sea and tasted the salt on our lips, before paying to ride the ghost train (which is actually quite scary since they've renovated it. It includes a really horrific zombie bathroom scene, and a severed head burning in an oven... Dark...)

Typical Brighton Sunset UK
The Palace Pier at Night
Bokeh Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier night fashion
Pier rides Brighton
Blurry lights effect
Merry go round fashion
sunset fashion brighton uk

Brighton is often portrayed as this pastel, saccharine seaside destination, all stripes and sticks of rock, and Mr Whippy ice creams with a flake stuck in at a jaunty angle. Yeah, we've got all of those things, and to the casual visitor it is probably easy to restrict your visit to these aspects of Brighton if you want to. But to me, Brighton is so much more than that. Brighton has a dark, grimy underbelly. It has a thriving arts scene and more youth music than you'd think possible. It's got restaurants and cafés for every taste, it's got countless creepy kebab places, it's got winding alleys, lanes and laines, boulevards, landmarks, local history, and so much character. This has been a love song to my favourite place. I miss you, Brighton, and I'll be back soon, I promise!

Skirt: Chicwish
Top: H&M Basics (it's actually a bodycon dress)
Shoes: Dr Martens

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Owl Guy: City breaks for couples

Romantic holiday New York

Hi, It’s Dan again! This time I am going to talk about holidays. You might have seen a few of Candy’s posts about holidays we have been on, and if so you might have noticed that we tend to go on a particular kind of holiday most of the time. Yup, city breaks! Now I do love to soak up the rays on the beach, but given our busy lives and thus limited time we want to pack as much “doing stuff” into our holidays which means that we inevitably end up going on city breaks.

Seoul Night Lights
Couple in Norway
Oslo Tram Guide tourism
Western Couple in Korea
Parasol or Umbrella Seoul
Shibuya Guide Starbucks

Going to a new city as a couple is great, you get to share all of the new exciting things with someone but there aren’t so many people on the holiday that you all want to do different things. (For group holidays I would totally recommend skiing!) Going to a new city is such a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture, there are always so much to explore! Our favourite way of exploring a city is walking, most cities, when you get down to it aren’t really that big, even London or New York! and walking lets you get a real feel for the atmosphere and take in some of the more obvious sights (how better to look at Korean palaces, downtown New York or the Tokyo tower?). If you do have a long way to go public transport is also great, not only is it usually pretty cheap but you get to feel like a local, just for a few moments! Obviously all that walking has to end somewhere, we usually try to fit in a few local museums and galleries, a good bit of shopping and of course, most importantly lots of restaurants! I mean I’m pretty sure it is a saying that “The best way to get to know somewhere is by its food!” Speaking of museums, everywhere has some totally unique ones and it is great fun to explore them. Oslo has the Fram museum (it has a giant boat in it!) which Candy blogged about, Tokyo has a museum for basically anything you can think of and Venice has a fascinating little museum about the local Jewish population!

Venice sunset scene
Budapest twilight

If you have a little bit of extra time it can be really fun to make a little day trip or two out into the countryside (or another city, whatever floats your boat). We did this during our honeymoon in Tokyo, we made 2 day trips, getting the shinkansen (bullet train) out first to the Tokogawa shrine and then to Aokigahara forest where we got caught in a thunderstorm in a the forest on a mountain and thought we would never make it home!
Finally, one of my favourite things about going on city breaks as a couple is that you get to experience all of these awesome things with someone that you love and spend some time together totally away from all the stresses and anxieties of life! So what kind of holidays do you guys like, and do you usually go with family, as a couple, with friends or as a solo adventurer?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fancy dress costumes on a budget!

axolotl hair band

I’ve always loved to dress up. Costume parties and fancy dress have been the top of my priority list since 1995. Part of the appeal to me is the bit where I get to decide who or what I’m going to be. And yes, I often go as inanimate objects. I once dressed as a matchstick to go to an ‘M’ themed birthday party, and one fateful Hallowe’en in my first year at university, I went as a treasure chest. Make of that what you will.

When deciding what to dress up as, I often feel like the process should go like this:

1. Decide who/what to be.
2. Source costume and props.
3. Dress up.
4. Go to the party.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve got tons of money to spend on expensive ready-made costumes (boring) or you are going to the party dressed as a modern day civilian (even more boring), the process of preparing for a fancy-dress party is not as smooth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a really effective and wearable outfit for yourself with minimum effort. I’ve found, over the years, that you can make almost any costume using clothes from around the house, scrap pieces of felt, and headbands.
Now let me be clear – I am no cosplayer. I am forever in awe of those who spend months crafting their hyper-accurate TARDIS costumes to go to conventions and gatherings, or learn intricate makeup techniques to become mythical creatures. And in addition, (although this goes without saying...) I am not a professional costume designer. My incredibly talented friend Eleanor Bull is, and her fancy dress costumes always trump everyone else’s, as far as I’m concerned. When we were little, we used to make all sorts of magnificent costumes out of scarves, sheets of fabric, old clothes, bits of cardboard… And it’s that kind of boundless, unselfconscious creativity that I think we should harness when creating costumes (and in all getting-dressed endeavours!).

Children in fancy dress

The key to a good costume, for me, is all in the headdress. Not only does a headdress bring a well-curated outfit together, it can also make a completely non-fancy-dress outfit into a costume! You can basically make a hat out of ANYTHING, which means the possibilities for easy costumes are endless. Going to a zoo themed party? Hot-glue some plastic animals to a headband! Want to dress up for a summer themed party? Put your hair in a bun and wrap some tiny bunting around it! You’ve got to think outside the box a bit, but I know you can do it.
I’ve made my fair share of really simple headdresses over the years. Some have been a little bit more labour intensive than others, and some have been more effective than others, but they were all fun little projects!

axolotl costume idea
cute ginger cat girl
cat man costume headdress

Animal headdresses are probably the easiest to think of, and they can be some of the easiest to create too – especially cat ears. That said, I made a unicorn headdress once that didn’t work at ALL. My top tip there is to keep the ears/axolotl gills/horns/whatever head appendage small, to avoid any embarrassing flaccid headdress incidents.

bacon hairclips

For my Eurovision party this year, (Eurovision is my favourite religious festival) I was Denmark. I came up with a ton of convoluted puns and ideas (Cover myself with gloves and go as HANDS Christian Andersen…) but eventually I decided to go with a red and white dress (Denmark’s flag colours) and a couple of (Danish) bacon themed hair clips (see above). Like almost everything I make, the hairclips were made of felt, sewn and glued, and fitted to hair clips.

What you need, to make an impromptu headdress:

1. Felt in a variety of colours. You can buy selections very cheaply online or in fabric shops.
2. Glue (you could use a glue gun, or UHU glue, or any other strong glue)
3. Hairclips, hairbands, headbands etc. You can get the little flimsy plastic ones so cheaply and those are perfect for this kind of thing.

Optionally, you could also add glitter, sequins, plastic bits of tat (I’ve been known to glue a plastic tea set to a hat…) and ribbons to your arsenal of headdress-making gear. Let me know if you’ve ever made any awesome hats or headdresses, or tell me about any awful pun costume ideas. You can comment down below or tweet me at @candyowlgirl. And tell me if you’d like to see more costume ideas and more detailed tutorials in the future. :)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Toolkit or hair clip?!

Leatherdos review

This is a very important hair clip. The moment I came across this hair clip with built in tools, I knew that I had to have it. I am a big fan of functional fashion, and this pretty much ticks all the boxes. I wasn't alone since after finally finding and ordering it on Animi Causa, I received an email telling me that there would be some delay in shipping due to unprecedented demand. But I really didn't mind waiting for such a nifty little item.
I've been obsessed with Swiss Army knives, penknives and multi-tools since I was a tiny child. My Dad gave me my first Swiss Army knife and I wore it attached to my Brownie Guide culottes, until I was told I wasn't allowed to bring a knife with me (which is fair enough really). It's not so much that I am really into any of the specific functions of tools or knives, it's more that I love being prepared for anything. I love the idea that with this hair clip, I could saw up some twigs or bits of string, I could repair my own glasses (another piece of functional fashion), or I could measure something tiny in the forest!
Another thing I adore about this hair clip is the fusion of unfathomable bad-assery (yeah, that's a word now, I decided) and something inherently innocuous and 'feminine'. The pictures on the website show it as a Kippah clip (to fix the skullcap traditionally worn by Jewish men to the crown of their heads), but the glowing reception this hair clip has received online has mainly been from women as far as I can tell. This simple hair clip is so much more than it seems, and for some reason that resonates with me.
I've tried out the little saw, the ruler and the small screwdriver, and they are all great. I've not tried using it as a trolley coin yet, and I'm a little skeptical about that part, since it is a US-designed product. I don't know if it will work in a UK trolley. Follow me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated! For now, I shall stop waxing lyrical about a hair clip, but suffice to say I think it's awesome. Can you tell?

pale wrist veins
red hair don't care
hair clip with tools

This hair clip can be purchased at Animi Causa, which does free worldwide shipping. I was not paid to review this product, not was I sent it for free, but hey, Animi Causa, if you wanna hit me up, I 'ain't gonna say no!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

A jolly jaunt to Portobello Road

Portobello Weekend

At about midnight on Friday night I decided that I wanted to go to a market on Saturday morning. Since it has been almost three years since I made it to one of my favourites, Portobello Road market, we decided that it was as good a time as any to visit again. I love to mooch about on the side streets to look at the beautiful houses, and squeeze into the crowded vintage shops to ogle the gorgeous dresses on sale. Dan was excited about all of the food stalls, so we hopped on the bus to see what we could find.

UK Modcloth order
Deschanel dress modcloth
Electric cinema neon sign

After battling through the crowds (oh gosh, why did I think Saturday was a good time to come to Portobello Road?! Whyyy?!) we ducked into the Electric diner which is attached to the Electric cinema. Dan and I shared the best burger I've ever eaten in my life, and some truly spectacular avocado/poached egg toast, as well as skin-on fries with garlic mayo. Oh and a peanut butter and banana milkshake that was so incredible that even avid banana-hater Dan loved it. I didn't manage to take any photos of the food because the lighting inside the restaurant was so... ambient... that any food photography would not have done the meal justice at all. Once we were full to the brim, we popped back outside to walk it off a bit in the sunshine. I do love Portobello Road and all of its mad stalls and shops. My only problem is that I ALWAYS end up with the Portobello Road song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks stuck in my head whenever I go!

colourful houses in London
ginger fringe hairstyle
kirby grip toolkit

I know my elbow looks a bit backwards in that last photo. I've got hypermobile elbows due to my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I might write a post about that at some point in the future, if anyone's interested in hearing more about my creepy bendy tricks. More importantly though, LOOK AT MY HAIR CLIP! It has tools built into it. I'm so excited about it that I have a whole other blog post lined up all about it! So watch this space. My dress is six years old from Modcloth, and my shoes are from last year's ankle boot collection at Office. Hurrah! Anyway, we had a lovely day out, and returned home so thoroughly exhausted that we had to have a nap on the sofa with our little cat. I hope you had a wonderful weekend - what did you get up to?

Monday, 11 August 2014

I made a moth!

embroidered moth brooch

This craft project was born out of a weird midnight in-joke that went too far - Something about an enormous, clumsy moth called Caleb that met an untimely demise after an encounter with a bleach-filled toilet... I've been friends with Eleanor for 16 years now, and this is by no means the first of these bizarre characters we've concocted. It was her birthday last week, and I thought that it was the perfect excuse to crack out my embroidery threads and make a moth! I'm a needlework novice, but I'm pretty darn (haha, get it?) proud of this attempt at an embroidered brooch!

summer wrapping paper
innovative gift wrapping
needlework brooch idea

I didn't use a pattern for this, I just used a picture of a moth for reference and then stitched it freehand onto some old felt that I had lying around. I used a safety pin as the brooch closure, although you can buy little brooch pins very cheaply. I am surprised by how intuitive it was, once I started. I mean, the back of the moth looks pretty gnarly but the front looks great, and that's what matters, right? I think that half the battle with these things is threading the needle, and once that's done, you're off and away and you can start to be creative! The hardest bit to do was Caleb's little antennae. I wanted to make sure they were firmly anchored, which meant I had to tie lots and lots of tiny little knots. So fiddly! All in all, he took me a couple of evenings of gentle sewing in front of Australian Masterchef reruns. Best use of my time.

flower crown kimono fashion

Here's Eleanor, being a stylish so-and-so, outfit completed with the addition of Caleb, chillaxing on her boob there. You probably won't be surprised to find out that Eleanor is a costume and performance designer, and she is really bloody good at it. If you're ever in need of a designer for your... performance, hit. her. up. Here's her website! Anyway, she says she loves Caleb very much, and that's encouraged me to do more freestyle embroidery, so watch this space! What should I make next?

It looks a bit like Caleb is in love with Eleanor's dragonfly necklace!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

July's Greatest Hits!

July was kind of an epic month both for me and for this here little blog. Lots happened and I stepped up my blogging game to actually document a fair bit of it. Welcome to a new Owl Girl segment, in which I have a mini freak-out about all the positive moments of the month. This one will be a short one since I left it so late!

July's memorable moment

Oslo opera joy

The moment from July that I will remember for a long time is the feeling of standing on top of the opera house in Oslo, as a storm closed in over the fjords! I blogged about it here!

July's Instagram moments

gold jelly fashion tapped and packed
cat time toilet time

I got these incredible jellies (my first pair in approaching twenty years!!) from Sun Jellies and I am totally in love with them. I love gold and I love sparkles but I kind of want every other colour of jellies now. Stay tuned for an outfit post with these babies involved! Other Instagram highlights involve some gorgeous iced coffee at Tapped and Packed, an incongruous "gentlemen" sign, and a bit of blurry cat action. Follow me on Instagram for more happyfuntimes!

Songs on repeat in July

This July I have been obsessed with Calexico, particularly their cover of Alone Again Or by Love, although I have pretty much had their entire discography on repeat for weeks now! I've also listened to Be Okay by Oh Honey and Can't Pretend by Tom Odell more times than I can count this month. Be Okay is super happy and the Tom Odell song is very mournful, just so you're warned. Emotional whiplash is on its way. Click through to watch YouTube videos of each song!

Blogs I've loved this month

I couldn't write this post without a shout out to Mimmi from Muted Mornings. She runs this wonderful, whimsical blog with plenty of light and bright photographs of gorgeous food and landscapes. She's also a really kind person! Another special mention to Julie from Lines Her Eyes, who did a great post called 'Things that got me through July' recently. Both of these lovely ladies nominated me for a Liebster award and I'm so happy! Check out their blogs! My final blog recommendation for the month is my dear friend Zoe who runs a great blog called Floral Zoe. She's a megababe and you're going to LOVE her.

Sorry this is a tiny short post, but be prepared for these "favourites" posts to become a regular thing, and I'll be talking about favourite products, favourite songs and the most magical moments of each month!

Did anything lovely happen to you in July? Please tell me all about it!