Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goals for 2015

I was sitting in my room, listening to the last chapters of Catch-22 (which I've tried to finish for about two years) and I suddenly decided, after reading all the looking-back and goals-for-new-year posts over the last couple of days, that I wanted to list some goals for 2015.

I'm a list person, and I find it easier to keep up with things if I share them or track them. I like updating my Ravelry and Goodreads accounts, both so that I can look back to what I've made and read over the previous year and in order to motivate myself to do those things. Lists are a similar thing, even more so when I make them public — it's like a declaration, giving me motivation when it's hard to find. I hope I can look back at this at the end of 2015 and say that I've achieved what I wanted.


Be braver with my clothing choices
If I like it, I should just wear it. I never used to have a problem with not blending into the masses — why am I so nervous about standing out now? I feel like I've got stuck in my striped tops, skinny jeans and skater skirts. I need to branch out. Also, prints.

Improve my photography 
Or in other words, learn to take photos of yourself. I did a lot of photography when I was younger but self-portraits were never in my repertoire. I'm fairly happy with other things — though I might invest in some lights and something to use as a background, because my cave of a room just isn't cutting it.

Be more productive
This is not just for my blog. My last semester of Uni is starting and I want to make sure that I finish it off with results I can be proud of. End of Uni also means beginning of a new chapter in my life — a job (hopefully)! I've made some great connections in the field I want to work in and I want to continue building on those and improving my chances of securing a graduate job.

Be more active
Like everyone else, I spend too much time staring at my laptop and phone screens. Paired with my studies, which consist of hours spent reading (usually hunched over), I spend far too much time sitting down. I need to get back to exercise (even if the gym is so far away now). I want to take more walks, to dance more and just do more things in general (not restricted to exercise). Particularly while I still have my student discount to use (Scottish Ballet tickets for £11!).

It's ten minutes past midnight now (in Finland), so happy new year! I hope 2015 proves at least as good or even better than 2014 for all of you!

Do you have any New Years resolutions or goals?

Outfit: A Little Fashion Faux Pas

Beret: handmade, Jumper: H&M, Skirt: Primark (old), Tights: Primark, Shoes: Modcloth (old)
The boxy cropped shape of the jumper does nothing for me. Nothing. It's cosy and cute (on a stick) but yes, it does look like I'm wearing a sack. Next time, choose a pair of skinny jeans instead of a skater skirt. But hey, I guess you learn from your mistakes. This is me learning.

See me awkwardly clutching Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances for safety, like a true literature student. I need to invest in props. Cute clutch bags that I never use outside my room? Teacups? The blog is called 'tea & dresses' after all.

Do you have any trends that you love but feel don't suit you?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What I Got For Christmas (and Some Thoughts on Giftgiving)

Being a little nosey, I love seeing posts about what other people have got for birthdays, Christmases and so on. It's probably why I also love haul posts! So if these types of posts are not your thing, just click on the little 'x' on your browser window. If you're like me and enjoy reading these types of posts though, continue!

Do I need to say this is not a bragging post? This is not a bragging post.

So, here's what I got. There are two towels — bath towel and a face/hand towel, both with Little My, my favourite Moomin character (here's what it looks like laid out flat). These, with a movie ticket (which I will use to go and see the new Moomin film), were from my grandma. From my friend, I got a Moomin guide, which is as the title suggests an extensive guide to all the Moomin characters. From my dad, I got an Aalto bowl, which is an iconic design by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto. I'm a little bit of a granny, I admit — towels and dishware make me quite excited. I also got a bar of Fazer Milk Chocolate from him. It's a Finnish staple that I always take back to the UK with me. From my mum, I got some money (via bank transfer), a box of chocolates and more socks than I know what to do with.
I'll be exchanging gifts with my boyfriend and his family in January when he gets back from abroad (military), so I have no idea what I've got from him (I still keep buying him things haha). But I'm glad I have a mini-Christmas to look forward to in January, complete with Christmas dinner. :)

And now to some pondering about traditions... feel free to skip, I just couldn't stop writing!

I spent Christmas last year at my boyfriend's parents in the UK and being back home in Finland for Christmas this year, I've been reminded about how different the two are in their customs. And I'm not talking about Christmas Eve versus Christmas Day. I'm talking about presents!

Now, my only experience of British tradition of gift exchange comes from my boyfriend's family, my friends and the blogs I read. So it may not be entirely accurate. But I feel like there's definitely a lot more gifts exchange going on in the average family in UK than there is in Finland (or maybe my family just does not do gifts). Personally, I got 5 presents this year (not counting my boyfriend and his family). I'm not saying this to complain. I repeat, this is not a complaint. It is just funny to note that I've adopted what I feel is a very British approach to presents. In Finland, we don't do anything like Christmas stockings and I feel that only the minimal amount of gifts are bought (except for children). This year, I kept thinking that my presents were be too small and that I hadn't bought or made presents for enough people (I gave out 11 presents). It has never bothered me before, as I generally only exchange gifts with my parents, my grandma and one of my friends. I do not buy presents for my brothers. Nor do I normally buy Christmas (or birthday) presents for my sisters, because they have been too young to "appreciate" them before this year. Last year however, I got presents from people who I felt really did not need to buy me presents (my boyfriend's aunt and uncle, his best friend...). Seeing how happy they were to receive my gifts for them (little knitted figures I'd thought nothing of), made me feel really good and reconsider the way I view gift giving. Asking yourself 'will they appreciate it' and 'do I need to' when considering Christmas gifts seems quite cold, as if they are a necessary evil!

In all honesty, I prefer what I consider the British way. I don't think it's greedy of me: I just like giving presents and receiving presents. I love seeing someone unwrapping a present from me and being able to tell that they love it. And I love unwrapping a gift that shows someone has really thought of me. It's about sharing, and caring. It's not about the monetary value of the present: it really is the thought that counts. Case in point, the two bags of loom bands and the box of Malteasers which my 9 year-old sister found in her parcel (among other things) were the most popular items of the evening. They cost me £1.50. And the pair of socks I knitted over the summer and did nothing with clearly made my friend very happy indeed.

What are your thoughts on gift giving? Do you go all out or just give gifts to a chosen few? And if you have written a post about what Santa brought you, do share — I fully admit to being nosey!

Monday, 29 December 2014

What I Did On My Holiday

I thought I'd share a quick post-Christmas update. I'm home in Finland at the moment and it's such a luxury to not feel guilty about just lazing around over Christmas, as I already had my exams earlier this month. I definitely prefer December exams over January ones.

I'm still not over my mum's decision to switch to a plastic tree. I grew up with real trees in the house and will probably never learn to like the plastic variety.

I've probably eaten my entire weight in gingerbread. It's simply the best thing ever. And I'm sorry Brits, but you just don't do them like we do. At all.

Food, glorious food! We got a goodie bag from family friends and it included so many delicacies. Here's a little sample of my favourites. Snow almonds (chocolate covered almonds dusted with icing sugar) and cinnamon almonds (same, but dusted with cinnamon instead) are my absolute weakness around this time of year. We had the "toast" with cheese and fig jam the other night and they were divine. The tin of chocolates is shaped like a book and while I'm not big fan of coffee flavours, the cappuccino chocolates inside were tasty as well.

My mum likes to cover every surface in the house with candles and I have no complaints. The pine cone thing is a candle holder as well — though you can't see this in the photo (oops). It is essentially a glass dish that you can fill with seasonal decorations and has a "lid" with a row of tea lights.

Christmas is prime time for reading for pleasure (being a literature student, I generally don't have time to read for pleasure during term time — two novels a week and secondary reading is generally all I can manage). I've already finished Fangirl (which I devoured in less than a day and absolutely loved) and The Five People You Meet in Heaven (which I liked). I've started Beyond the Glass Slipper, which is a collection of lesser-known fairy tales, and I'm enjoying it so far. I got it as part of my Secret Santa gift from my flatmate who knows me so well (she also got me a Cath Kidston teapot and a red sparkly nail varnish). I'm writing my dissertation on fairy tales this coming semester so this sort of counts as research, right? The only downside is that these are the only books I took with me and I still have over a week left in Finland. A visit to my local library may happen tomorrow.

What have you got up to over the holidays?

Monday, 22 December 2014

More musings about not blogging

12 days again, dear me.

I have no excuse other than that if I have nothing to blog about, I don't blog. I didn't want to post gift guides, gift ideas or wishlists — I'm all shopped out and the idea of browsing more online shops made me shudder. I've been frantically knitting Christmas presents, buying Christmas presents, wrapping Christmas presents and doing things in aid of one day securing myself a Career in my Chosen Field. I also flew to Finland a few days ago and after a grueling 10 hours of travelling, I slumped into my 7 year-old sister's bed (she took the sofa bed in my other sister's room so that I could have a room to myself — which is nice even if it means sleeping on her miniscule bed) and haven't done much since, apart from More Christmas Presents and going to a friend's graduation party.

I'm tired. Again, and already. The only positive things I can scrape up to my mind at the moment are snow and friends who I'll be seeing more of in the coming couple of weeks. I know everyone loves being home with their family at Christmas time, but being very much moved out (I own 4 boxes in the basement and generally do not call this place 'home' anymore), I find Christmas time far from relaxing. It's a busy and loud household with my two stepsisters (7 and 9 year-old) and being used to quietness and a lot of personal space, it's a little bit of a struggle.  It's been about 4 days and I still have 16 to go.

I was going to take outfit photos, but I couldn't take my tripod with me. I still have no one to help me with photos and I've been feeling pudgy (and hence uncomfortable and terrible on camera). I haven't been to the gym properly in a few weeks, and the mix of freezing weather and festive season has meant little exercise and too much indulgent food. To top everything off nicely, today my mother pointed out that I'd, as she put it, 'gotten myself a bit of a tummy'. At the moment, I wish that I'd packed my trainers despite the possibility of overweight luggage and icy roads. Too much sitting is accompanied by not only weight gain (which I can deal with), but also with restlessness, aches and frustration (which I cannot deal with). I just want to do something.

Apparently this blog is turning into my space of clearing my head of all the negative thoughts that whirl around in there. I didn't want it to, but it seems I can't help it. Sorry. Hopefully the new year will bring more positive thoughts in its wake.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

'Tis the Season

Of cold and dark, of short days and 'under no circumstances will i wear anything less than 3 layers'.

On the bright side however... I am officially on holiday! Having spent the last 24 hours recovering from the stress of the past few weeks (particularly yesterday's exam) by re-watching Torchwood, knitting Christmas presents and catching up on my Bloglovin feed, I thought I'd try to be productive today. Cook, clean, do laundry... and write a blogpost!

What I wanted to do was up together an outfit post (especially because I like my outfit today). For a multitude of reasons, that's not working out too well at the moment, so I thought I'd write about why I'm not taking outfit photos instead. Makes sense, right?

First off, I'm not feeling too inspired by my outfit photos, as they are all taken indoors, in my dark bedroom that doesn't really have any suitable background (my bookcase?). Even my wardrobe doors (which span one entire wall) are mirrored, so I can't use them as background! Rest of the house...? Well, imagine a 6-bed student flat and add to the equation that the person who spends most time in the communal areas never cleans up after themselves (in other words, the living room is probably even worse when it comes to background material). Is it wrong to say that I can't wait for University be over, just because I hate student flats and people who don't clean up after themselves?

Though I finally managed to get myself outside to the back garden, now that is off limits as well, as the downstairs neighbours (who we share the garden with) are doing some big renovation project (including their bathroom) and the garden has become a dumping ground for everything that's being thrown out. And then there is also the workmen, who keep walking in and out.

I wish I had someone who I could go out to take photos with. But at the same time, right now... it's bloody cold! I can't even type for very long in my bedroom without my fingers getting numb, let alone walk around the flat without a pair of slipper booties (thick socks alone don't work anymore). Needless to say, it is much colder outside. I can't even send a short text message without my fingers going numb — how is anyone supposed to operate a camera, let alone stand outside without a thick coat?

Dear fellow bloggers, I have a question for you (particularly if you're a student). If you live somewhere very cold, like northern Scotland, do tell me how on earth do you cope with taking outfit photos during the colder months? If you have a beautiful, well-lit living room, please do not tell me, for I might die out of sheer jealousy.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Collective Haul: Everything

Another haul. Whoops?

I've been shopping quite a lot lately, for some reason. Really good sales? Whatever the reason, there's certainly been enough stuff for little (or not so little) hauls from H&M, ASOS, New Look and Primark... but since I was far too impatient to take photos before putting them to use, they won't be included (expect for little bits and bobs which I either haven't used yet or had managed to snap a photo of before I started wearing them).

It seems that whenever I have a discount code, I suddenly have this urgent need to go shopping! The December issue of Glamour was full of great treats, including 20% off H&M, so of course I had to go and have a little browse to see if I wanted anything. Turns out, I did!

I got a gift card from my boyfriend's parents as a birthday present and popped in to use the rest of it. I got the Godiva shampoo bar, which I've been wanting try for ages simply because it smells heavenly (I hope it'll work as well though) and Bûche de Noël cleanser which I missed last year.

I went into Boots with the intention of buying the pencil version of Soap&Glory's Archery (£8) after hearing so many good reviews about it (I'm always looking for ways to remedy the mess that is my brows). Since Soap&Glory had a promotion that got you a free Supercat Eyeliner (£6) when you spent £12, I naturally had to take advantage of it — especially since my old eyeliner had started to dry up. I'd recently thrown my old concealer away so I decided give Kick Ass Blur and Brighten Concealer a try in shade Light (£6). Liking all three products so far!

Okay, so these were actually from the previously mentioned old ASOS haul! I haven't worn the Cath Kidston socks yet (I'm trying to figure out a way to wear them so you can see them because TEACUPS) and I had managed to snap a photo of my beautiful rose gold Olivia Burton watch before I started wearing it (fun fact, this is my first watch since I was about 7). PS. Do also note my matching CK cushion that my friend got me for my b-day in August (she knows me well)!

The Body Shop
The Body Shop had 40% off all items (including sale) fairly recently and I decided to take advantage. No Christmas products this time, I just went all out on things that were already on sale. All of this was just about £15! In my defence, only the Early Harvest Raspberry body butter and scrub are for myself, the rest will find their way under someones Christmas tree. It may sound quite cheap to be purchasing Christmas gifts from sale, but you know what, it's nice to get more for your money when you're buying gifts as well! And of course, I'm still on student budget.

Ebay, Vinted and Depop
Forever a lover of bargains, websites like Ebay, Vinted and Depop are my best friends. I've got some particularly good deals lately and I wanted to share them with you guys.
The shoes are from Chelsea Crew, and you can get the same style from Modcloth, where they retail at $69.99. I paid £11.10 with postage on Ebay! The shoes had been worn once (from the condition of the soles, probably for a short time) and were in amazing condition. They're incredibly comfortable (I taught 2 dance classes in them immediately after receiving them) and I will definitely keep my eyes open for any others chances for snatching up Chelsea Crew shoes in the future (sorely disappointed that Modcloth's Black Friday sales didn't include any pairs I wanted haha). Love love love!

A little Cath Kidston number that is actually a skirt version of a dress that I included in a wishlist over the summer. Brand new, and only £15 (postage included) via Depop! 
And from Vinted, I got THAT red Zara dress that Zooey Deschanel wears in the New Girl intro! I happened to have enough credit to cover the entire purchase (£11.90 with postage) so it sort of felt like I got it for free — win! I've been wanting it for ages but all the ones on Ebay seem to go for ridiculous prices when you consider that they are used.

and as a final little thing...

Dumbo socks! How cute are they? I actually did a bit of a sock haul (is that a thing?) from Primark, getting some cute tights and socks to get me through the cold times. Sadly I've used all of them except for these (since these are really thin and therefore not warm enough), so I haven't pictured those haha. I'm sure my new fox tights will feature in an ootd soon though!

Have you been shopping more than usual lately (not counting Christmas presents)? The shops just seem full of things I want... Might be time for a spending ban!