26 December 2012

Thought, Not Cost

Firstly, I hope that all who read this have had a fantastic Christmas.  I thought that I would share a couple of present highlights over the past couple of years.  However, the cost involved was not in money, but in time spent.

Last year I received the best present I have ever had in my life.  It was a photo album of my dad, who sadly died when I was seven.  All of my life I have wanted more photographs of him than I had, last year my mum sought to remedy that.

So I now have not one photograph, but a full album, with every photo having it’s own caption so I know when and where each photograph was taken.  It is the most valuable possession I have.

Me and My Dad - Blackpool Pier - Priceless
This year, something homemade was also on the cards.  Not on such a grand scale, but the thought was there.

My mum adores, and when I say adores I mean is obsessed by, Alfie Boe.  I scoured the internet and shops for months for a calendar of him, but to no avail.  So I decided to make my own.  Nothing fancy, just each month at the top of the page with a different photo of him for every month.

I made the calendar as a little added extra for  her in addition to the presents I had bought.  The calendar however was the biggest hit by far. 

It just goes to show, you can spend a fortune on a present, but if you take the time out to make something, your time is rewarded double fold.  In the current climate we are all looking to save that extra penny, your free time and a little thought costs nothing.

Happy Christmas everyone! 

23 December 2012

Thank You

This time of year makes me hug my loved ones a little tighter than usual.  It's the time of year to cherish your loved ones and remember those who are no longer with you.  It's a time for looking back, taking stock, and giving thanks.

Today's post is about giving thanks.  My previous post looked back over the past year and it shocked me to realise how far I've come.  Probably to my detriment, but when I make a change in my life, it's always something I keep to myself.  I just go forward with what I want and my family are used to me going along with my own little path.

My path this year has been a little different.  A huge amount of changes have been made.  These have all been due to the blogs that I have discovered and have been reading over the past year.  Reading the stories of these other woman has inspired me to come out from behind my wall of insecurity and into acceptance.

Becky from The Ramblings of Mrs BeBe was the first blog I discovered.  She was the first to make me realise that I could wear the clothes I wanted, and they didn't have to be black.  I wasn't a pariah.  You can still be pretty and be plus size.  

From Becky's blog I went on to find others such as Toni from The Only Way is Toni, Clare from Mrs Brown's Thoughts and Betty Bee from Betty Bee Towers 

Turns out, a blog can change your life.  Those blogs have changed mine.  It may sound over dramatic to some, but inspiration can come from many places.  Change has to come from a starting point.  You need a spark to start you off.  These girls have been my spark.

I should also mention my friend Kate.  I've only met her the once.  I found her, or she found me, on Twitter.  She is as we call it, my sister from another mister.  She's absolutely awesome and has also give me courage over the past year, whether she knows it or not. 

Aside from Kate I've never met any of these women but they have been such an inspiration in the past year.  The girl from one year ago who had no confidence, who was in denial over things in the past that affected the now, who had no courage, who expected the world to laugh at her, is very, very grateful.

Thank you, lovely ladies.  

19 December 2012

One Busy Year

Christmas is always the time when I look back and reflect on the year, what has happened and how things have changed.

This year has been a massive year for accomplishments. I have set myself goal after goal this year and whilst I have achieved some, there is still work to be done in others. So here is what has been happening.

Improve Self Confidence
The ongoing theme this year has been for me to try and improve my self confidence. Figuring out what makes me tick, fixing some of my issues by confronting them has been at the forefront this year. I can honestly say I’ve made more progress in this one year than probably my whole life.

Lessons Learnt
Face the things at the back of your mind that scare you. Even the ones you have under lock and key with a “Don’t Open This Door” sign. , If you don’t, they will haunt you forever.

People can only treat you badly if you allow them to.


Puffing the Year Away
On the 16th April 2012 I made the decision to stop smoking. I am the type of person who once a decision is made, I stick to my guns. For stopping smoking, that is a good way to be. Going from 20 a day to zero on cold turkey isn’t easy, but it’s now been eight months and I know I will never go back.

Lessons Learnt
If you put your mind to something, you can do anything.

Educating Vicky
I’ve started an Open University degree. This will take about one hundred years to complete, but it’s been something I have thought about for years and finally I’ve bitten the bullet.

If someone had said to me at the start of this year that by the end of it I would be posting about the clothes I wear and posting pictures of myself, full length, wearing them I would have told them they were crazy. No way, no how. Yet a few weeks ago I started on the plus size blogging journey.

I don’t know what I expected actually. Abuse and put downs probably with by my entire Twitter list unfollowing me in horror. Ok slight exaggeration there, but the response that I have received has been awesome.

Lessons Learnt
You are not as horrible as you think you are. Put yourself out there, no one ever got anyway hiding in a corner.

So there you go. My year in retrospect. What will next year bring? Who knows. But I can’t wait for it.

I wish everyone who reads this a very Happy Christmas. Drink too much, laugh too loud, dance away the night and above all, cherish the people that you love.

16 December 2012

Shopping in Skipton

Some things are inevitable.  One of them is that it is impossible to go "window shopping" with your mother.  Do not try, it is folly.

On Saturday I went with my mum to Skipton for a wander around the shops and some lunch.  My intention was to wander but not purchase as I wanted to save my money for Christmas.  I got out of the car and I think within 3 minutes I had made my first purchase.  Oops.

Here's my outfit for the day, still channelling the red, white and blue look.

An actual pose!

Typically when I buy jewellery I prefer to buy British made and ideally something that supports local traders.   When I saw this lovely for the bargain price of £7, it had to be mine.  I'm not usually a statement necklace type of gal but my mum convinced me to buy it.  

I bought a few other bits and pieces, nothing exciting but my final purchase was my favourite.  We went into the local town hall which was having a craft fair in it's tiny hall.  

Now all of my life I have had a quirk when it comes to perfume bottles.  I tend to chose the perfume bottle first and the actual scent second, but I have been looking for the perfect perfume bottle forever.  The kind where you decant your perfume in and dab on like they used to do in the old movies.  

Here's the first in what I suspect will turn into a collection.  It's 1920's style, classic, clean lines and I love it.

Hello darling
Now on top of my wish list this Christmas, although I suspect given the price I may be buying it myself in the New Year is the perfume Oh Lola by Marc Jacobs which not only has a beautiful and distinctive scent, also had a lovely bottle.

Do you have something you want to collect?

14 December 2012

All Dressed Up

One fantastic thing about reading all the plus size fashion blogs is that I find all new places to buy clothes that I didn't even think of before.  Especially if, like I used to think, that if you walked into Evans the world would be over.

I've gotten over that particular foiable and recently made my first purchase there, a pair of bright purple tights.   Anyone watching me would have laughed as I shot into the shop like a startled gazelle, before I could change my mind.  Yes, I'm daft.
One of the places I have discovered recently as a decent stockist of (actually decent) plus size clothing is John Lewis.  I have been looking mostly at the dresses (my favourite thing after shoes) and although a lot of the dresses were between the £60 - £150.00 range, they do fill  a gap in the market.

Previously when I had been looking for an occasion dress I have had a real struggle.  Had I know about the selection at John Lewis, my four month search for a dress for my best friend's wedding may not have been fraught with anxiety.

Here are my favourites:

£52 - Linked Here

£79 - Linked Here

£69 - Linked here

£59 - Linked here

My favourite of the dresses above would definately be number three.  This is the dress I would chosen for my friend's wedding had I seen it at the time and to be honest, I'm that much in love with it that it may be finding it's way into my wardrobe sooner rather that.
Where do you get your occasion dresses from?

12 December 2012

An Xmas Meal in Red, White & Blue

 Last night was a family tradition.  Three female generations of my family out for a Christmas meal.  Myself, my mum, my sister and my niece.

The date was planned, the food decided on; the only thing left was of course, the outfit!  I always start with the shoes, as that is my favourite part of any outfit, and that of course takes me on to the handbag.

The bag is from Next a few months ago, I can't resist a pretty red bag, I think it was around the £30.00 mark.  The shoes are from Primark. Originally they had a canvas tie to them but I didn't like it so replaced with a bright red ribbon.

Next comes the dress.  Now under my new "As little black as possible" rule, I went shopping in the Dorothy Perkins sale a couple of weeks ago and uncovered a navy blue dress with white bows on.  It was love at first sight and upon checking the price, £10.30, I practically snatched their hand off.

The complete was completed when I found a bright red cardigan from Primark, my first ever Primark purchase.  Again, for £6.00, I was thrilled to get another bargain.  So I am, dressed up for the night.

The tights went, didn't
go with the shoes!
Sorry about the bad quality of the picture on this one
Hair up for a change, I'm practising still

Click my heels and away to Oz!!

Lovely bow print, shown off by the girls!
We were joined this year by some friends of my mum's and together we all enjoyed lovely food, all dressed up to the nines.  I had my usual starter, Chicken Liver Pate followed by Salmon with Prawns and then Tiramisu.

Upon returning home I decided to take one last picture, I wasn't going to include it as you can tell the glasses of wine had been consumed, but it made me giggle so might have the same affect for you.

The cheeky "I've had wine on a work night" look
Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

That is Who I Am

I was looking through some of the blogs I subscribe to today when I came across a post by Toni of The Only Way is Toni which I liked and thought I would try myself.

This is a "Who I Am" post by way of pictures.

I love my friends, loyalty is everything to me

Clowns are the most terrifying thing - ever

At times, I can be a little crazy

I can't walk down a set of stairs without a handrail

What I'm looking for - love

I believe if you say yes you can do something, eventually you will be able to
Mind over matter

I love to laugh - giddiness is something I aim for daily

My Favourite Quote of the Moment:

I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: 'no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall'.

Eleanor Roosevelt

11 December 2012

The Snowman

There is one programme that I must watch every Christmas. Jo from Little Woman may have thought that Christmas wasn't Christmas without presents, but for me, it has to have The Snowman.
In a time where computer generated images fill our screens, where innocence is swept aside in favour of Sci-Fi, horror, guns, World of Warcraft, there remains this one little programme that every year thousands, in fact probably millions of people, even if they won't admit it, have to watch.
When it comes to movies, my loves are Science Fiction, action and horror (good horror that is, not Drag me to Hell for example). For TV, my tastes run to Doctor Who, Games of Thrones, Bones.  I like it action packed, exciting, scary, not innocent, quiet and calm.

The Snowman is perfect just the way it is.  It doesn't need speech, CGI or an hour's discussion afterwards of "What do you think that meant?".  I don't know whether children today would get it today or not, I'm not a child person.  But for me, it takes me back to being 7 years old on Christmas Day, watching in wonderment at the television.

So when I heard today that a sequel had been made, see here I confess that my heart filled with dread.  Just like I felt right before the opening ceremony of the Olympics started, there is one thought in my head.

Please don't fuck this up.

The Snowman is innocent, pure and beautiful.  I hear the sequel has a dog in it.  If it is powered by a rocket or can shoot snowballs at 20 shots a second, I am suing, well, somebody.

Everyone needs that bit of innocence in their lives, even if it is only for 26 minutes every Christmas. 

By the way Channel 4, just because you are showing a new version on Christmas Eve does not excuse you for showing the original too.   Don't kill my Christmas.  Thank you.

For UK viewers I have found out that the original is on on Sunday 23rd December 2012 at 6.25pm.  Woo hoo!!


10 December 2012

Not Very Taxing

Say you went into a shop.  You were looking to buy a television.  You see one that you want and it is priced at £799.00.  You call the assistant over and he proceeds to tell you that if you fill out a little extra paperwork, you can get the television for £550.00.  What do you do?
Well personally, if that was me, I’d fill out the extra paperwork and get the cheaper television.

Although Jimmy Carr was the scapegoat, there are many celebrities who have been using a scheme in order to avoid tax.  This is perfectly legal and is a loop hole in the tax laws.  If I were a millionaire and had been told by my accountant that I could save a fortune, would I do it?  Of course I would.

The same can be said for the large companies such as Starbucks, Amazon etc who are also avoiding paying tax to the UK.  They found the loop holes, they are using them.

I don't see the point in people saying that they are going to boycott Amazon and co until the tax situation is resolved.  What is actually the point?  For the very small amount of people that will actually boycott, not including the "I will boycott, but actually are just saying it" people, the effect to the large companies will be barely visible.
What we need is for the Government to completely redo the taxation laws.  Considering we are in a complete economic crisis, this only makes sense.    There are millions upon millons of pounds there for the taking if only the Government firmed up taxation and closed the loop holes.
The times for the Government protecting their friends and their own interests has to come to an end.  In the age of Twitter, Facebook and blogging, people have found their voice in a number never seen before. 
It's time the Government were held accountable by the people that it serves.   This will only happen if we realise who are the people that are accountable.  It's the law that needs changing, not your coffee provider.

9 December 2012

MUA Mega Volume Mascara Review

Mascara is the one item of make-up that I absolutely cannot go without.  I usually have at least three on the go, for volume, length etc.  

Having put the Benefit "They're Real" mascara on my list to Santa, I found myself needing to buy one just to keep me going until Christmas.  I had heard a few things about MUA make-up before, but to be honest, I usually stay well clear of cheap make-up as I have never had good experiences the lower priced items.

Given that I only had a few weeks to wait and the good things I had heard however, I found myself over at the MUA counter in Superdrug.  I settled on the Mega Volume Mascara in Black/Brown for the tiny price of £3.00.  I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much.

Turns out, everything I had heard about MUA is true.  The mascara is very good quality and goes on like a dream.  It gives me the lift and length I require with added volume.  The brush is easy to use, unlike some of the more expensive mascaras I have used over the years which require a degree in engineering to figure out.

This mascara has gone from a mere "tide me over" mascara to something which has been added to my daily make-up look and I will definately buy again.  Here are a few pictures with the before and after.

Excuse the hair - it's in it's pre GHD state

Here is the mascara - the fact that the packaging is pink I confess is what drew me to it!

The brush is easy to use and doesn't overload with mascara

Here is the link to the MUA mascara on the website where you can find this mascara and all the other ranges.

Give it a try, I promise you will be pleasantly surprised!

5 December 2012

A Blog of Two Halves

I have been running my blog: Ranting the Day Away for a couple of years.  My musings, opinions and my self improvement journey have all featured there and I have loved doing it.  I have been more honest, sometimes brutally honest, in that blog than in any other aspect of my life.  If someone asked me for a definition of who I was, I would have directed them to the blog.
A friend recently described the way I write as being that she could hear my voice through the words I had put on the page.  I think of that it as a compliment as I believe that you can only be yourself and if that comes across in my writing, then I have achieved my aim.
Recently however I have set up an additional blog called Words of a Curve.  The idea for this blog was to deal with the side of me that I didn’t talk about on Ranting the Day Away, the plus size part of me and all the stories that lie within it.  Over the course of the month I have done various posts and have gotten a good reaction to them.  As well as the “outfit of the day” posts I have put the stories in there too.  I have even more honest with this blog and have said and done things with it that I never thought I could actually do.
Today though, a thought struck me.  I was still hiding.  Keeping the two blogs separate just didn’t make sense, either for the upkeep or for the question of which post to put on which blog.  The plus size girl was still hiding around the corner, now saying the occasional thing but letting the loud speaker of the first blog do all the talking.  Well, sod that.
So here I am.  Merged. 
The title of the blog is The Curved Opinion which seems to fit the joining of the two blogs.  The whole me, the whole truth, just as ranty as before.   I’m still going to write as I intended to from the start.  You know the phrase “Dance like there is no one watching”.  Well my phrase for this blog is “Write as if no one in the world will read it”.
Now that feels much better J

3 December 2012

Gorgeously Ugly

Confidence and self worth.  Both are things that can be hard to find sometimes, but once you have them, don't ever let them go.
What has surprised me during my journey of rediscovering confidence, colourful clothes and self worth is when I have looked back on situations and looked at how I have reacted in them.  When people have said things to me, or in the case of a certain guy, who wanted me in private, but denied me in public.
The best way to deal with insults is of course to ignore them and realise that the people who say them are not worth your time, or your tears.  In the case of the opposite sex though, this can be harder to deal with.  What makes me angry was is not the fact of how he treated me, I've moved past that, but the fact I LET IT HAPPEN.
Over a longer time period than I would like to admit I went along with someone who would tell me I was gorgeous and sexy in private, but would deny that anything was happening, or had happened, between us when asked.  I went along with this.  YOU BLOODY IDIOT.
I'm writing this now and putting it up here because I think it is important to be said.  Because someone might read it and admit that they are in or have been in that relationship.  Anyone who treats you that way is not worth your time.  You are worth more than.  I am worth more than that.
I was as much to blame because I let it happen.  I had no confidence and clearly no self respect.  But I changed.   I started to read these sort of blogs and realised that it was ok to be who I am.  To look the way I look. 
In the end, the only person you can make you feel bad about yourself is you.  I look at the girl I was a year ago, all in black with no confidence to the girl I am today, happy, wearing bright red, confident and I smile.

Have the confidence.  There is a whole world out there waiting to be enjoyed.  It is worth the journey.