Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Failing Goals

It's the last day of January already! The first post of this month/year involved setting my big goals and a few little goals just for this month. Now it's the last day and I really should have checked on and monitored the progress of my goals throughout the month.. Well it's too late now and there's nothing left to do but look at the cold hard facts:

What I set myself to achieve:
  1. Complete the blog coding course that I got that will enable me to set up my site better and do things the way I want to.
  2. Practise viola 6 days a week, two hour sessions.
  3. Start regular 4K runs three times a week.
  4. Mend the clothes in the "need-to-be-mended" pile of my sewing cupboard.
  5. Read a bit of non-fiction everyday.
  6. Knit more - I don't think it's feasible to do a bit of knitting every day but I will certainly try.
  7. Revise the chapters in my German book that I have already done.
What I actually achieved:

  1. Finished the first session (of ten..)
  2. For the whole month I practised a total of 11 times.
  3. I did 3K runs about once a week.
  4. Didn't mend any clothes.
  5. I didn't read non-fiction every day but I certainly read it more often and even started reading the news more (half a point for that?).
  6. Knitting went fairly well, I almost finished the back segment of my cardigan project and I knitted two squares for my blanket (and learnt a new technique so that they would look better: intarsia).
  7. Didn't even open my German book.
Of all of these I'm really disappointed that I didn't get off my ass and do more practice. The German thing I'm not so disappointed in myself about, or the clothes mending, but practice is really important. My mum used to make me practice every day (except birthdays and Christmas, of course) and the thing that she would say to justify her pushing was: "you're only cheating yourself by not doing it". Mums tend to be very wise and this is a gold nugget from mine; I am totally minimising my opportunities and chances by not practising. I find it difficult in the moment to gee myself up to practice and in the last two weeks of not practising it's been because I felt like I wasn't making any progress. But then how can I make progress if I stop doing it? It's so easy to reflect on it like that, from a third person point of view, but in the moment I'm just sick of the stupid wooden box. Love/Hate relationship to the extreme. So this month I'm going to really work on that goal.

Goals for February:

There's a reason that we fail our goals, and once we have there is no point hiding in a cave and woe-is-me-ing about it.. time to evaluate and change my goals in a way that will help me work towards them better.

  • Practice. I think part of the reason why I wasn't so motivated to get up and do it was because I wasn't playing much in the way of repertoire and was getting bored quite quickly. Although all the technical work is improving me I really need something to apply the skills in and to provide my brain with regular changing tasks. So this month I'm going to add studies every week. I adore studies: it's fun to try and make them sound like music and you can change them up every week.
  • Running. I've decided to do a half marathon in September, which only gives me 8 months to increase my current mileage (perhaps it should be kilometreage?) by 7 times !! So this month I definitely have to man up and push for the 4K three times a week (and then my plan in March is to start doing a long run on one day, like 10K). To help me get there I'm going to allow myself this reward: I can buy myself a new running outfit if I do 4K runs three times a week every week of this month.
  • Blogging. Recently I have been thinking more and more that I should give up this blog.. It takes a lot of time to maintain and although I love doing it sometimes I think maybe I should focus more on what I'm supposed to be doing: viola. But I've decided not to give it up just yet because it really motivates me to be creative and actually complete creative projects. And although I would definitely still be creative without it, it's nice to record it and share it with people that care (thanks guys! =P). I really want to complete this blog course so that I can make the page more user-friendly and have it set up the way I want to (and basically just be prettier).
  • Read. I want to read the News Review segment from the Saturday paper every week as well as check on the news briefly a few times throughout the week. I want to get through at least 2 chapters of my big fat Ideas book, but hopefully 3; and I want to read more than half of my "Understanding Politics" book (I have no clue about politics, I recently learnt what an MP is, so I'm reading this book because it's an election year and I don't want to be clueless in conversations about it). Ideally I'd like to read a bit of fiction too.. but I think this is already a lot of reading to undertake.
  • Knitting. I need to complete 5 squares for my blanket this month.
  • Friendships. I must send letters to my friends in Florida and Germany. MUST! I didn't do anything nice for them this month so I really have to be a better friend and send something.
I'm going to leave out the German this time round in the hopes that I'll be able to complete the others better. If I happen to open the book then that would be a positive! 

So here is the final definitive list for this/next month:
  1. Practice - one day off a week, one study per week. No set time as long as I do it.
  2. Running - 4K three times a week.
  3. Blogging - complete the blog coding course, set time aside on Sundays to write all the posts for the week so during the week all I have to do is publish them.
  4. Reading - News Review every Saturday, 2 chapters of Ideas book, get through half of Politics book.
  5. Knitting - complete 5 squares for my blanket.
  6. Friendships - send letters to overseas friends at least twice this month.
  7. General - eat a piece of fruit every day
And I'm going to check on this list every week to keep it on track.

How have you been going with your goals?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weekly Wish-list

There is something about a sweater-set that is so dated: in a good way. Gorgeous 40’s women with strings of pearls and matching twinsets *sigh*. I’m glad that they haven’t been shunned from fashion and I love how J.W. Anderson’s pre-fall 2013 collection has made it a tripletset (another genius phrase I could patent ...) 

All images from Moda Operandi

 I love the mod mini skirt that has extended the twinset into this tripleset and strangely enough I’m liking the weird boots. Maybe because I have a thing for frills.. They had better be waterproof. Would you wear a tripleset? Would you even wear a twinset? I, and now you, know my answer.

Outfit Misfit

So yesterday I promised that there would be a point to the whole fashion riot story.. Well I'm sorry if this will disappoint you but it's just that the top I got from the Marni for H&M collaboration is the feature of my outfit post this week. When I bought it it wasn't actually an item that was on my list of things to get. I just picked it up because I loved the colours whilst I was in store and when I tried it on I thought I might like it. It did need a special bra though and it's only recently that I went to a proper lingerie shop and got a nice strapless bra that doesn't make it look like I have the chest of a 12 year old boy... Lately it's become a bit of a favourite for looking great but not too dressed up in a breezy summer way. I think I rattled on too much yesterday.. so straight to the photos!


Top: Marni for H&M
Jeans: J Brand
Sandals: Gorman
Van: I wish!

Monday, January 28, 2013

On Fashion Rioting

Ok, so I lifted my shopping ban for one very special occasion last week and that was the Lover sale that was advertised on Missy Confidential. Back in September a pretty amazing Lover dress was up on my wish-list and I was secretly hoping that it might be there.. Lover is known for it's lace so I was hoping to pick up something along that line. I have never been to one of these sales in Sydney before so it was quite amazing to arrive there half an hour early and see a healthy queue of people waiting for it to start; there were at least 30 people ahead of me! I prepared myself for a fashion riot. There has been one other occasion where I have been involved in a fashion riot and that's when I was in Denmark for the release of Marni for H&M. I had planned exactly the items that I wanted and was prepared for a bit of a stampede (considering most designer collaborations with these kind of superstores tend to sell out within a few hours). I got to H&M at 8am and waited for it to open at 10am; I was the first there! (and it was raining.. typical Denmark winter). I couldn't believe I was first in line, I was a little embarrassed but also a little excited because I figured it meant I wouldn't miss out on the things I wanted. Here's the video of the ad for it:

My heart was absolutely set on the dress the girl wears in the first shot, with the spots. But I was a newbie, after so much waiting, the doors to the shop were opened and I tentatively walked in. Suddenly all these people were pushing around and I had to grab whatever I could! I ended up getting my hands on one of the spotty dresses but it was the wrong size.. I was devastated! I will never make this mistake again (I bought the dress anyway and I'm going to try and get it altered so it fits a bit better). As well as the dress I got a skirt, a top, a bag, and a lot of bangles. I also made some friends in the line:

The man who was second in line was shopping on behalf of his daughter. What a cool Dad!!

Anyway, the Lover sale was not nearly as bad as this and I happily bought a pair of pink leather shorts and the skirt version of the dress featured on my wish-list (also check it out on their website)!! Prices were quite reasonable, in my opinion. Items that were rather recent seasons were still pretty pricey but at least a good 40-50% off. Seasons long gone were even quite cheap! The range of clothing on offer was also excellent, a lot of different sizes, from 6-14, and a lot of different items: dresses, swimswear, capes, pants etc etc.

I swear there is a better point to all this chatter and it comes in the Outfit Misfit that will be posted tomorrow =)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

DIY - Fridge Magnets

Remember how I almost did this one a week ago? Well I finally hopped to it and did it! I'll just remind you that I got the idea from this segment on "A Beautiful Mess" blog.

You will need:

  • Sculpting clay that you bake in the oven. I used "FIMO" and bought it at Eckersleys. I had a very white colour which I ended up disliking, so next time I will try a more beige colour.
  • Rolling pin.
  • Cookie cutters. I liked mixing mine up with some interesting shapes (which were just sitting around my house btw, didn't go out and buy any new ones).
  • Baking needs. So baking paper and a tray.
  • Acrylic paints. To make them beautiful!
  • Magnets. I used Hobby Line magnets and they were awesome. They had bits to peel off so no need for super glue!
What to do:

It is at this point I reach my first disappointment (I have decided that all DIY's will result in slight disappointment because there is no way it can be as amazing as you imagined it to be or as gorgeous as what you've [and that means "I've"] seen on other blogs). When I rolled the clay out to about 5mm thick it only made a small amount of stuff to work with. Somehow I was imagining more.. (I had three other super cool insect cookie cutters to use too, evidenced by the first photo). So I only fit 3 bugs on my clay, see above.

Note: useful tip! Roll the clay out on a piece of baking paper, hang the baking paper over the edge of the counter so you can lean on it and it won't drag with your rolling pin. The clay is quite sticky so it's better than trying to get it off the counter.

I'm becoming a fan of the photo instruction method, but in case you're a feeling a bit thick today I will spell it out for you:
  1. Roll out the clay to about 5mm thick (or thin. Glass half empty?)
  2. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
  3. Bake according to clay instructions. For mine I put them in an oven about 120 degrees celsius and let them roast for about 25 minutes.
  4. Cool.
  5. Paint.
  6. Attach magnets.
  7. Stick awesome posters to fridge.

So my dragonfly broke a little in my overexcitement with getting the cookie cutter off it/it out of the cookie cutter. Anyway, continued with the baking!

Note: poster from last year's last issue of Frankie magazine.

My favourite is the ladybug.

Did this all make sense? It's very late here whilst I write this post so maybe it's a little nonsensical..

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weekly Wish-list

I did a post a little while back on bags and this week I'd like to talk belts. In my last Outfit Misfit post I mentioned that I had lost my belt to the dress; it was the perfect skinny belt that went with everything. In an effort to replace the perfect I've made a list of a couple of realistic I-could-actually-buy-this ones, and a couple just for looking.

First up is this To Wear or Knot to Wear (oh the puns from Modcloth..) in a gorgeous aqua kind of colour. I love the leaf-like buckle and it's a very reasonable $27.99 (although they've now run out of the small/medium size and only have medium/large).

Now for something on the other end of the spectrum: this blingy Miu Miu belt. I don't think it's the kind of thing that would go with everything in my wardrobe, considering that I like to wear a lot of everyday dresses with belts, but it's still nice to look at. You can find it here at Net-a-porter.

This one is called Touch of Charm Bow Belt in Teal, from Ruche and I think it's not quite as nice as the first one from Modcloth but along the same lines (and only $12.99 at that!). So here is where the dilemma arises: do I buy the Modcloth belt above, which I like better, and risk it being too large due to the sizes left, or do I play it safe with this Ruche one? Oh the decisions in life..

Lastly this Padlock Charm Belt from Mulberry. Simple again, with a nice little touch in the padlock. As awesome as black is though, I enjoyed my last belt so much because it was blue and didn't break up the colours of my dresses too much (also this one is expensive..)

 Note: all images from the links in the description.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Outfit Misfit

This week's Outfit Misfit is my outfit from my work Christmas party. Nothing says festive like a red dress, and a cape! ... So in case you didn't know, I live in Sydney, so I hope you enjoy the background of the pictures too. 

This red dress has quickly become one of my favourites: a good solid red = attention grabbing, yet the cut of the dress is extremely simple. The skirt flares out beautifully when I spin around too. It came with a blue belt (remember this post? where I quote: "belt from a different dress") but unfortunately I seem to have lost it.. so it's not featured here.

There are a few things I want to mention about this outfit; one of them is the cape, read on for that, and the others being the shoes and stockings. The shoes are slippers, not the Grandpa kind but the kind that can be worn anywhere (except bed I guess) and after buying a very cheap pair in Germany I decided that this trend was worthy of spending a bit more money on. Now the stockings, they're pretty special. From where else but Alannah Hill who, in my opinion, does cuter almost as cute stockings as Asians do. I admit I was worried that thigh high black stockings with a red bow could look too sexy but I think I've managed to maintain my channelling-a-5yo look.

Something about the cape and the red dress made me feel like I was channelling Little Red Riding Hood (also helping the above statement of my channelling-a-5yo style). I absolutely adore capes (slightly obsessed, I have an unhealthy number in my wardrobe I think) and this one is no exception. It's from Alannah Hill and the name had something to do with lamingtons.. 

Dress: from a French boutique, the label says "Closet"
Cape: Alannah Hill
Stockings: Alannah Hill
Shoes: Wittner.

Thank you to my fantastic friend and photographer Berny, who manages to catch me at some great moments. Here is my spinning photo:

Friday, January 18, 2013

On the To-Do List

I almost actually just did this one yesterday, but it turned out to be 46 degrees (that's celsius people) here in Sydney and so it fell by the wayside.

Here is all the information on making clay ornaments and I was going to do the exact same; except with my cool insect cookie cutters, glue on magnets, and voila! DIY fridge magnet!

Image from the website linked above.

On Friendship

Maybe it was my friend's loss of her best friend, or a lightbulb moment about a couple of my friends, or maybe it was the sweet message someone wrote me today about how they appreciate my friendship; but I have been thinking a lot about friendship recently and what it means to me and what it could mean to others. I want to be a good friend: sometimes I really am, and sometimes I am ashamed to say that I am not.

In light of my friend losing her best friend so suddenly and recently I tried to think about how I would feel if that happened to me. Then I tried to think about who my best friend is. I realised that if I needed to think about it then I probably don't really have a best friend. I have probably only had one best friend in the past and the qualification needed to fill that position for me was/is: that I am able to tell them anything and everything. I get embarrassed about a lot of things and sometimes I find myself not telling some of my friends some of the things that are happening or that I'm doing because of that; for example some people don't even know I have this blog. The person that was my best friend was so because I could tell them anything about myself even if I thought it was pretty silly because I knew they wouldn't judge and they'd always be supportive. Like when I first decided to start this blog, or when I set goals for myself that other people might have said were too out of my reach. Sometimes I feel sad about not having a best friend anymore but then I think about some new friends that I have made that I feel closer and closer to: it definitely takes time to build a BFF-friendship.

It's also been a time of reflection on the current friendships I have. I have a nice number of close friends who I see/talk to regularly and I am so grateful for them being here for me. I have friends that loyally read this blog (thank you so much for maybe pretending to be interested sometimes!) and send me letters and all manner of lovely gestures of friendship. In conversation with a new friend I realised that I always ask them what is happening in their life and they never ask me. So what if most of what we talk about is boys? I wouldn't mind if they asked what was happening to me and how I feel about it once in a while. So I've stopped and started observing the things they message me about; it's amazing to see that some people aren't the friends you think they are. Maybe life is too short to expend your energy on people who aren't willing to do the same for you.

I'm not saying I'm the perfect friend, there are a lot of times where I am far from this and part of this post is about recognising that and working to fix it. I should write to my long-distance friends; I receive so many lovely letters and postcards that I should finally just make time to write some back to them. I should send cards on birthdays and special occasions and should phone up my friends more often for updates. I should make the effort to travel to meet them and not be the selfish friend who never has to leave their place to catch up (I've been on the receiving end of that and realised how slack that can be). So to all my faraway friends expect a letter soon (depending on post.. give me a little time), and to my close-by friends a phone or message to catch up.

Thank you to all the friends who support me, go out of their way to be there for me, don't give up on me when sometimes I lose it and neglect the friendship, and who take me for who I am.

Image from this weird website.... (only posted here for the purposes of citing)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weekly Wish-list

So I had a post planned a little while back, along this leathery vein but belts, until I saw the Burberry Prorsum Double Duchess Caped Trench Coat. Did you know that I love capes? (don't worry, there are a couple more where those came from coming along in the future..)

There is something about the Burberry trench coat that has made it a staple for both sexes. It's one of those things that I'd love to have in my wardrobe as an essential if I married became a billionaire. Perhaps it's the versatility of the thing: useful in rain, not too heavy a coat that can only be worn in winter etc. or maybe it's just the tailoring that Burberry seems to be so great at through the years. Sometimes I think about these great fashion houses with their name built up on one thing such as Burberry and the trench, or Louis Vuitton and the trunk, and how many times they can actually successfully re-invent the piece each season..? And just back-pedalling for a minute, would you really wear it out in the rain? It says in the specs that it's 78% cotton and 22% silk and if you're spending $3,000 odd dollars on it then maybe you don't want to risk it in the unfriendly weather. Anyway, it's not as if I'm actually going to buy it yet so indulge me and let me continue to pretend I am: the cape really tops this season's version off for me. Love love love at first sight.

(All images taken from the Burberry website). I think I prefer the brown in colour, although not entirely sure about the belt.. and I wish it was properly caped out like the white one. The white one, although beautiful, is probably not as timeless as the camel-coloured (let's be fancy, after all it is Burberry and we can't be calling it plain old brown darling).

And now for the campaign photo:

The coat looks less white here and I love it, but oh dear please avert eyes from the reflective plastic-bag-esque mens/boys-wear. I'm sorry Burberry, I love something holographic just as much as the next girl (actually that's a lie..) but it looks like that man is wrapped up in cellophane. Add a bit of ribbon and he'd make quite a nice little present there.

Sorry to be dissing on the Chanel and Burberry campaigns but honesty is the best policy: a life rule I tend to stick to (and sometimes at the vexation of others, a bit too closely). Still love the trench!

Something Old, Something New

Sometimes I like to present both the old and new musical choices in a similar vein; ones that make me feel the same sort of emotion. This week is the complete opposite: firstly happy(!), then I'll get all depressed.

First up, and most cheerfully, is the "Bird" Quartet (op.33 no.3) by Haydn. I did a wedding gig recently where we got to play some background music (I always find the weddings where we do more than just the requested ceremony songs to be the most interesting). We found this Haydn Quartet at the back of the folder and thought we'd give it a go. This fourth movement is the cutest thing I have heard in a long time and I absolutely loved playing it:

Now for the depressing part. This song was introduced to me by a good friend long ago and I have been trying to find a downloadable version of it since then (it just isn't on iTunes!). It's called "You and Onions" by Meiko; I bought an album of hers (the self-titled one) and it just isn't as good as this song. I think it's the quirky lyrics that really do it for me. Poor little hotdog.. =( Check out the video with a cute little animation:

I hope you enjoyed those two! (Actually, in the end I just hoped you listened to them..)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Outfit Misfit

Ok, ok so I was on a roll: blogging almost every day and maintaining my regular segments on the right days! But then I went to Canberra and was distracted with more interesting things and slow phone-hotspot internet.. (I know: interesting things in Canberra, shocking! =P) Anyway, as confucius say: better late than never. It's better for me to wean myself off this motto though seeing as I spend most of my life running around late for things.. So here is Outfit Misfit post on a Tuesday:

Avert your eyes anyone that doesn't want to see me in a bikini! I'm obsessed with the beach and I decided that I would go there as many times as I could this month, before real work has to begin in February. Swimsuits are such a difficult thing to get right.. I find it's hard to get a bikini top that doesn't make my chest look like that of a 12 year old boy's. This cut seems to be working well though so I should discover more halter-neck fashion for my wardrobe I think. I own one bikini bottom, two bikini tops, and a one-piece. The most recent bikini top purchase was just this month in the post-Christmas sales so here it is:

Check out my awesome beach mat! Super cool Christmas present which has revolutionised my beach-going: makes lying on the sand so comfortable! 
The water is so clear!
The friend that picked out my new bikini top was shocked that I wasn't going to buy the matching bottoms; but I think that mixing bikini tops and bottoms can be quite successful. Even though one learns in primary school blue and orange are pretty opposite on the colour wheel, I think the more contrasting the colours are the easier it is to pull it off (note: my other bikini top is purple).

Bikini top: Seafolly
Bikini bottom: Zimmermann

And I thought you might like a picture of my new favourite little beach (Castle Rock, in Balgowlah Heights). It has clear water with fishies, an ice cream boat that comes around (like an ice cream truck!) and is just all-in-all beautiful.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weekly Wish-list

After this post, a good 2 months or so ago, I actively tried to reduce the number of times I featured Moda Operandi on the Wishlist. I even stopped looking at the site as much! Although this was also due to their "gifts for her/him" trunk shows which were below par in my opinion, and now I would like to herald the return of trunk shows which aren't all accessories! Yay for clothes!! Exclamations!

The designer featured on the site currently that caught my eye is Caroline Herrera and I find the collection to be a mix of houndstooth suiting (surprisingly awesome), ball-gowns and structured cocktail dresses. I absolutely love dresses! (more exclaiming!!) It's the most awesome thing about being a girl. Well, as well as skirts =P Can suits be as pretty as dresses? I don't think so.. So I pity all you men out there that don't get to put on a beautiful dress (or maybe you do and I don't know about it?)

Enough rambling it's time to show you which looks I picked from the trunkshow:

Image from here.

Firstly the houndstooth suiting. The houndstooth pattern is all overlapped and pretty much looks like gingham. On the right is the look from the collection on M'O and on the right is the campaign shot. I prefer the red suit myself as the black is a little too letsplaychess looking.. Go look how much it costs, if you dare.

Next up are a couple of dresses which are quite pretty but not my absolute favourite of the collection (saving the best for last of course!). I adore the back on the navy blue one with the lace and you know how I love a bit of organza atop a dress which is why this striped number is here.

A gorgeous colour for this beautifully structured cocktail dress. I had to include all three views so you could get the full effect =) I'd love to go to a party all wrapped up like a present with that bow.

I don't know what it is about the following dress that has me swooning; floral? pale blue with dark red? the full-bodied skirt? I think it's just stunning. I like the shorter version more than the long one because of the dark red trim at the neckline but I included the campaign picture as well anyway.

Image from here.
 And now for the big finish! No words needed..

Image from here.

This is just a close-up to show you just how awesome this dress is and why it's called Constellation Organza Sleeveless Gown.

(Note: where not captioned, images are from Moda Operandi and linked in descriptions)