Thursday, December 19, 2013

Not Another Nonchalant Gift Guide

Crosley turntable / City cycling guides by Rapha/ 'Badass bitch brooches' (Patsy and Buffy- natch) from Nappy Happy/ Croc loafer heels/ Marvis Cinnamon Mint toothpaste/ Velvet cigarette trousers/ Whowhat whale bag/ Total Exposure by Las Kellies/

Hey! Ready for another slice of nonchalant gift-guiding? It's six days until Christmas. But it's okay, it's okay. Shhh-sh. You don't need to be one of those people that go out on a sweat-filled panic-buy in their lunchbreak. Just buy cinnamon mint toothpaste and city cycling guides and 'badass bitch brooches' online for your loved ones and they'll arrive just in time. Easy.

And if you're somebody that doesn't celebrate 'Christmas' in the christian sense you should just buy yourself a copy of Total Exposure by Las Kellies anyway because it's a pretty good album and you can blast it at home while you potter about doing things that don't involve trying to remember what your distant uncle does for a living.

Season's greetings!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


It's been a while since I did one of these outfit post things. Me and Rose went on a very successful charity shopping binge in Chorlton the other week. We came back laden with photo frames, some 'work appropriate clothes' for me (a wardrobe 'genre' I'm enjoying getting to grips with) and bric-a-brac for Rose's room which is an Aladdin's cave of cool and strange knick knacks. (A mini tiger-head vase in which to house a cactus? Why not)

This Rockport jacket was amongst the haul and is the jacket I've been wearing during the weekends when I like to pretend that I'm a business man who is 'dressing down for the weekend'. Think a Steve Martin American Dad type who wears casual sports jackets, white trainers and shoots hoops on a Sunday morning.

The dress is from Asos and I picked up the baby pink leather bumbag whilst Christmas shopping. I'm serious about the 'one for you, one for me' Christmas shopping philosophy. Nanon and I had a pleasant afternoon of shopping in the Northern Quarter; it's perfect for stress-free present buying. Record shops, a great Oxfam, places to buy local beer and a chocolate shop with such an outstanding cocoa odour as soon as you walk in that you're half expecting to find Juliette Binoche behind the counter. Interspersed among the shops are bars- and lots of them. Come 5pm I was enjoying the warm glow they were beaming onto the streets and the sight of shoppers inside, hats and gloves on the tables, swaddled between their shopping bags and refuelling with a well-earned beer. Before I knew it myself and Nanon were doing the same at Soup Kitchen, my brother's glow-in-the-dark-stars at my feet and a pint of Aspalls in my hand. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Moodboard

Hello Weekend, you old chestnut. It's come around quickly once again, hasn't it? This week I've been enjoying reading A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. I've been coming to terms with not having a mobile phone (what- no instagram?!) after having mine stolen last week. Clue: oddly liberating. I've been eating homemade lentil, red cabbage, kale and bacon soup at lunchtimes and working my way through the Piccadilly Records Top 100 playlist, which is stellar.

Now I'll do that thing when I finally tackle the overzealous collection of tabs cluttering my screen and compile them into a snazzy moodboard. Have a wonderful weekend, all.

Hand-rolled cigarette russes with sparkling neon sprinkles- are these not the kittens of the baking world? So small, so pretty, so coo-inducing. I haven't baked for blooming ages (I get more out of cooking these days but that's also because this usually happens when I go down the sweet route..) but these, nestled in a pretty tissue-papered box would a brilliant Christmas present make. Via Smitten Kitchen (you know the drill- only click on that link if you have a full stomach and a spare hour)

Cocktail Boyfriend Jeans The other day my colleague Polly asked "If you could take up a whole new look without any judgement from the outside world, how would you dress?" We pondered everything from promiscuous thigh-high boots to 1920s flappers dresses. Now that I've had the time to reflect I'm kicking myself- of course it would be 'Miami Beach Divorcee', no questions asked. All manicured nails and tassles and big sunglasses and cocktail print flares. House of Holland understands this quasi-trashy aesthetic which my brain likes to revisit. Woah mama.

Like many people, before the obligation of regular homework and the distraction of The Sims and MSN and MySpace I used to spend all my time drawing. I'd draw babies, teenagers, families, groups of best friends; experimenting with how realistic or cartoonish I could make the eyes and realising the more varied a group of people was in size and shape, the most interesting they were. I'd write little bios next to these imagined people and then create stories about them. 'Erin, 14, best friends with Claire, supports Liverpool FC, favourite colour; yellow, likes to eat pasta and hang out with her sisters.' I can't remember how long I did this for but I'm fairly sure it was a matter of years, stopping around the time I went to secondary school. One of the best things about this pastime was that I was completely unselfconscious about having a pen in my hand. now whenever I draw I'm often pausing to decide if it looks 'good'. Later on at A-Level I studied graphic art and got the same pleasure from redesigning the album art for a Beirut album, scanning the insides of envelopes and photographs of my Mum as a teenager, ripping pages from National Geographic and bringing everything together on photoshop. I miss spending so much time cutting and sticking and making but most of all I miss feeling unselfconscious. I'm trying to be better at leaving my laptop at work in the evenings to allow myself time to revisit my pens in the evening. A spate of illustrators websites have been sitting in my tabs recently which has only increased the urge. In particular I've been enjoying Sam Brewster's drawings, which remind me of 1950s children's books and old matchbox illustrations.

YMC brushed wool jumper Goes together with Christmas evening like turkey and cranberry sauce.

Igor Termenon has his fingers in lots of pies. He's the editor of photography zines Girls on Film and Boys on Film and is part of the team behind Future Positive. I've been enjoying going through his personal site, in particular his photographs of Glasgow. For me, Glasgow is the mistress. If I was to leave Manchester for anywhere else in the UK, it would be Glasgow, and Termenon reaffirms why.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Atelier Bingo


I've the serious joneses for these screenprint designs by French illustrator/design team Atelier Bingo (aka Maxime Prou and Adele Favreau)

You can check out their site here.
Here's their Etsy shop if you feel like treating yourself to something.
Read an interview with Prou and Favreau over at

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Gift Giving: The Reading List

The seasonal gift guide continues with books. It is universally known that one of the greatest pleasures that comes with Christmas/Winter festivals is reading. To me the sign of shared familial love and understanding is the lull of silence that descends over the sitting room on the afternoon of the 25th, bar for the occasional cracking of the fire or interruption of rustling wrappers and the question "Quality Street?" Simple pleasures. 

I've mentioned before that myself, Mum and Step-Dad have a 'book and a bottle' rule each Christmas. Sometimes my Stepdad will play a wildcard and buy me a pair of slippers but this rule makes everything hassle-free in the gift shopping department. I can spend an afternoon lazily perusing the shelves at Waterstones and still be A Good Person. These are some of my picks for the best books to give to friends, relatives and lovers this December:

The Monocle Guide to Better Living: Whoa mama. I picked this up recently in Magma and suddenly found myself all 'pro-coffee table books' again. After a period of seeing them as a frivolity (seriously, when was the last time you leafed through all of those £40 fashion tomes you bought as a teenager?) the substance of this guide won me over again. This book is full of recommendations on locations, products and ideas that inspire better living across the globe. Cue gorgeous shots of people taking morning swims in open air pools and looking like they're having the best time ever in cities from Beirut to Berlin. 

2. Eames by Gloria Koenig and Peter Gossel: This book is a comprehensive guide to the careers of Ray and Charles Eames. Crammed with interiors-porn it's also a great 'new relationship' litmus test. Just leave it self-consciously lying open when you have a new friend or lover in the house and see if they take the bate!

3. Powers of Ten: A Flip-book: "More of the Eameses?" I hear you ask. This is Eames in bitesize; their Power of Ten film is even more seductive in flip-book form. Perfect for influencing the small children in your life with big ideas! (One of those presents for them that's really for you..)

4. Autobiography by Morrissey: Come on, of course you're going to buy this for someone this Christmas. If everybody and their uncle read Fifty Shades of Grey then the unofficial national bookclub should give this a go too. I did spend the first couple of pages chortling under my breath when I picked this up in a bookshop. But to be honest that may have been from all the pressure to have a visible public reaction in a Manchester bookshop. 

5. The Pop-Up Kama Sutra by Sir Richard Burton and F. F. Vatsyayana: No, not that Richard Burton. My Mum once bought this for Aunty Megan, the matriarch of our family who passed away this year just before her 102nd birthday. I was affected as a thirteen year old by how brave and awesome this act of gift-giving was. 

6. Tokyo: A Very Brief Introduction by Herb Lester I love Herb Lester guidebooks. You love Herb Lester guidebooks. Let's all put ourselves out of our misery this Christmas and buy someone a goddamn Herb Lester guidebook. 

7. Girls Are Not Chicks colouring book by Jacinta Bunnell: "We have had enough of books that make girls think that they are not any good. Girls are not chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes." *Clicks 'Add to Basket'*

And while we're on the subject, Bluestockings Magazine wrote this great post on the Top 7 Colouring Books for Feminists

Want to scroll through the sickening amount of gift guides I've compiled in previous years? Here, here, here, here and heere

And this is a picture of Edmund from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which is exactly how i'll look on Christmas Day as I work my way through a pile of books. Like a greedy little bugger with a mouthful of turkish delight.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Tis The Season of (gift) guidance

I can't fault gift guides. They're as ubiquitous as mince pies and each December I overdose on both and don't even care. Ah yes, gift guides. I love finding them tucked away in the weekend papers whilst I'm eating my eggs and hot sauce but I like making them even more. They're loaded with all of the pleasure of the Christmas lists we wrote as children* except thinly veiled as an attempt to guide others, because tis the season of goodwill. The season of heartwarming advice like "your Aunty will just love this £300 jumper."

I'm on a pretty tight budget this year and trying to be creative when it comes to handmade gifts that actually mean something. I've spent much of my Saturday night teaching myself 'The Lambton Worm' which is a Northumbrian folk song my Dad used to sing to me when I was younger. He still performs it as his party trick every now and then when he's drunk. My Dad doesn't really like present giving- his response to gifts is a consistently grateful but unbothered so this year I hope to whip this out (after a few glasses of dutch courage) and watch him shed salty tears of joy. Dazzled by his eldest daughter's commitment to learning a tricky Northumbrian dialect all in the name of miserliness. I'll let you know how it goes..

Want to scroll through the sickening amount of gift guides I've compiled in previous years? Herehereherehere and heere.

*This is my own Christmas list, written around aged 6. Displaying an early and acute awareness of the relationship between wine and bribery.