Sunday, 21 September 2014

It's that spider-y time of year again...

Autumn. It's finally starting to cool down here in the UK after a most horrendously hot summer. Yuck! Yesterday was unseasonably warm and muggy, and the heat held out until late last night when we had the most amazing thunderstorm.  The pressure in the air instantly dissipated and the temperature dropped, it was quite lovely. But still most nights we have to keep the bedroom window wide open because our bedroom is the warmest room in the house, thus leaving us vulnerable to bugs. I'm not overly keen on most bugs, particularly the crane flies that seem to have bombarded us in the past week, but my worst fear is the spiders. I have been thinking of writing about this for a little while now, and have finally built up the courage to do it (just thinking about spiders makes me feel icky, and seeing photos make me panic) in the hopes that discussing them at length will help me get over the fear a little bit. I've wanted to try and do something about my phobia for years, but really would just rather not think about it at all. This is the most in depth look I have ever taken at spiders and their kind, even reading about them creeps me out.

I had a couple of traumatic incidents with them as a child, and have been afraid of them most of my life as a result. Just lately it seems as though everyone is spider obsessed again, as apparently the hot weather we experienced during the summer has produced some unusually large house spiders. Shudder.  I've been growing increasingly paranoid about my chances of encountering a spider lately, as usually when I haven't had an 'incident' for a while I know I must be due to see one soon. And this time of year is the most likely time to encounter one because they are all making their way into our homes for the winter.

It's a funny thing really,  to find them so scary.  They make for wonderful imagery and are pretty goth if you ask me! Ha. Plus, the are actually very cool when you think about it. They way they can spin a web and use it to their own advantage to take care of all those other nasty bugs we don't want around the house is quite useful. Almost all spiders are venomous,  because they are all predators that use venom to subdue their prey. This is because they cannot digest solid food, so they must use a digestive enzyme to turn their victims into a digestible liquid form.

However  big and scary house spiders can appear, the ones you usually see scuttling across the carpet or climbing out of the plughole in the bath are more likely to be the males, who are smaller than the females. The females are usually in their web or nest waiting for a male spider to come along, although its quite likely that she will eat him before he has a chance to identify himself. Which is why they must use courtship rituals from a safe distance,  for example the jumping spider will perform an elaborate dance to attract the attention of the female.

I was going to try and include some pictures in this post, but I just couldn't bear to even look at them! Just doing this teeny bit of research was pushing my limits, and it took me a little while to write because I could only write in by the light of day... pathetic I know! But maybe now I'm a teeny bit closer to feeling ok about spiders in general.  I don't mind them living with me, I'd just rather not know they were there.

Friday, 12 September 2014

What I read this summer

Summertime is that holiday time of year, we spend more time on leisurely activities at this time of year than any other. The hot weather makes for lazy days hiding from the sun if you are so inclined to cold weather as I am, and reading in the cool shade is the perfect escape. I received rather alot of books for Christmas last year, so I have been taking full advantage of all the new reading material at my disposal. So I thought I would share just a couple of titles that I have taken pleasure in reading the past couple of months.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I ended up reading this historical novel because I'd seen the tv show last year, the box set of which I also received for Christmas and I would highly recommend it. I had already read one other novel from the series; The Red Queen, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The story follows I think four women central to the cousins war in 16th century England,  each book with the same basic plot line from a different point of view. The strength of these women is inspiring at such a tumultuous time in history when women had very little rights and what appears to be no control over their own fate. I say appears because with their fighting spirit they managed to cling to every scrap of power and dignity they could and who knows how different things would have been had they not tried to take things into their own hands. I loved this book because historic fiction and/or romance is a genre I really enjoy, the storytelling is beautiful and meticulously researched yet embellished with many fantastical extra details.

Rapture by Lauren Kate

This book is the final in a series of five books about a teenage romance between Daniel,  a fallen angel, and Lucinda, your average troubled teenage girl. It is a very romantic story of true love spanning the entire history of mankind as Lucinda is reincarnated every 17 years due to an ancient curse. I started reading the series when I was quite young and back then it was just my cup of tea, and I greatly enjoyed them. When I found this book on sale it had been a few years since I had last read any of them and decided to revisit. Despite the rather juvenile style of the story I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them still. I think what held my attention was the religious elements of fallen angels, demons, god and the devil. I am not religious myself but found it all very interesting nevertheless.  If you can look past some slightly cringy characters and teenage romance clich├ęs,  I would say this is a good read.

Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu

I discovered this book when I read an interesting article online about vampires in gothic literature,  it's only a short story but I devoured it quickly with great enthusiasm.  The book actually predates my beloved Bram Stoker's Dracula by twenty six years, and although it has been adapted for cinema many times I had actually never heard of it before. Carmilla tells the story of a young woman and her mysterious house guest Carmilla, who just happens to be a vampire. This book is bursting with sexual tension and has a rather creepy atmosphere to it, something I have never found so easily in a book written at this time. I think I will have to track down some film versions and watch them all, this little slice of a story is awesome.

So what did you guys read this summer? What is your favourite genre to read and do you have any recommendations?  I'm always hungry for more to read!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Monthly theme post: makeup

Being such a makeup junkie, this month's makeup theme post should have been all to easy for me, and I had a lot of ideas swimming about in my head when I was thinking about what to write. Alas, time got away from me these past couple of weeks, and having a baby has meant I have barely had any time to even apply makeup let alone blog about it!

So these days when I actually have a minute to put on makeup, I have to try and be as quick and efficient as possible. The way having a baby has changed my skincare and makeup rourine made me think about how else it has changed over the years, and how age, lifestyle and fashion tastes evolve over time and affect the way we present ourselves. It's hard to pinpoint just when my interest in makeup and other "girly" things first started, but I remember having "toy" lipsticks in ridiculous pinks and purples to put on, and kid-friendly nail varnishes that peel off when you wash your hands as a child.

But I think when I truly discovered the power of makeup was my 12th birthday when I had first started to gravitate towards darker music, clothing and fiction. My auntie went out and bought me a number of actual 'grownup' products, and taught me how to use them properly as a sort of starter kit. It was all pretty decent stuff,  and I managed to create some good (and some not so good...) looks with a post-box-red lipstick and a dark rasin lipstick,  a deep grey glitter shadow, a plum purple shadow and some killer liquid eyeliner.  But that was just for weekends.  I started using pencil liner on the bottom only for my every day look, I layered it very thickly and it definitely did NOT flatter.

I wish I had pictures to share my shame but my laptop is having technical difficulties at the moment. It wasn't until I was about 14 that a friend who had learned how to paint a decent flick and cat eye from her sister shared her secrets with me, and the discovery that cotton buds could correct any mistake is the most valuable I think I have ever made. To this day a thick upper line of eyeliner with a big flick and pencil liner along the bottom is still my signature look when I'm feeling lazy. I used to wear this makeup to school every day because it was just heavy enough for my tastes yet tiptoed the dress code boundaries. I have also branched out since then, with the discovery of false eyelashes (which have saved me HOURS of time obsessing over perfect mascara) and a return to eyeshadows.

When I was 18 I finally decided to give foundation a try and haven't looked back. It does wonders for my confidence about my freckles, and even when I'm pressed for time a smattering of foundation makes me look put together even if I don't feel like it. During pregnancy however my dry skin has been ten times worse than its ever been, so I've moved onto BB creams which still have a nice amount of coverage and are quite moisturising.  I use the BB cream as a starting point, and anything else I have time for now is a bonus!

Before I went on maternity leave and I was still working evenings in the pub I used to wear tons of eye makeup, I experimented frequently because working evenings meant I had ample time during the day.

Hopefully as things with baby Reegan settle down a bit and I become used to motherhood and all it's challenges I can get closer to my old makeup routine and become more adventurous again.

How has your makeup style evolved over time? Do you have a signature look for everyday?