February 2013tori's tales: February 2013

27 February 2013

But I don't feel afraid, as long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise

Sometimes life can get a little hard. There are those days when I let the all the little things get on top of me; days which make my head feel heavy and my eyelids sore.

Other days turn out different; the sun comes out and everything just feels better. Spirits are lifted.
Today was one of those days. I got on with some uni work, the boy and I went out to stock up on some well-needed food and I ran some errands. Not the most exciting of days but the sun was there to help me through.

And then this happened. Sometimes it's all I need.

An update: this is what I woke up to. Good start to the day.

26 February 2013

The tale of a Swan and her Prince...

On Saturday my boy and I went to Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall  to watch Moscow City Ballet's version of the ever-enchanting Swan Lake (we were very lucky to have been given tickets as a Christmas present). I'm not sure how many times I've seen this ballet now - the more times the merrier I say! - but it was the boys first time seeing one live and he very much enjoyed it, which makes me a very happy girly (lots of visits to the ballet in the future)!

It is such a beautiful tale and the performance was stunning - the lady who played Odette was particularly wonderful - and the costumes, as ever, were gloriously sumptuous (quite the feast for our eyes). We were only 3 rows back so it was very easy to get lost in the story; I got to hear the sound of their pointe-shoes brush the floor, which I adore, plus see the dancers off stage, watching the story unfold and waiting to go back on and perform.

Swan Lake has been a favourite of mine ever since I was small. I used to read my copy of this beautiful illustrated book  - narrated by the glorious Margot Fonteyn - all the time. Finding it online prompted a waterfall of memories that whisked me back to my childhood; memories of when I used to sit up at night and spend my time lingering over the illustrations, whilst imagining myself dancing among its pages. I had thought maybe one day I would have danced it on stage, however, that particular dream didn't come true. But hey, that's what our imaginations are for!

How beautiful are these illustrations of the story? It's so nice when I come across something that evokes memories of childhood, especially when that something is related to ballet. I myself danced it for 6 years and it made up a huge part of who I am. Watching a performance such as the one this weekend stirs up the most wonderful feelings inside of me and, although at times I have felt sad and wished ballet was something I could have continued on with, having it be a part of my past means I have something quite wonderful to look back on and reminisce about.

Just to show how much of an inspiration Swan Lake is (or its bad-ass sister Black Swan) I thought I'd post a little 2011 flashback pic when I dressed as the latter for a birthday party. Never far from my heart.

I was also super-excited this weekend to sit down and watch a film I've wanted to since it's release a couple of years ago - Terence Malick's 'The Tree of Life'. My excitement was short-lived, however, because I just couldn't warm to the film's ideas or its characters (and surely its needed that I either do one or the other?!). Although visually stunning it lacks a certain something that I still can't quite put my finger on it. The characters felt a little 2D, which is odd when you think about the emotions needed to pull off the storyline (I won't spoil it by telling you what this is, although I'd think my whinge about it is enough to put you off trying to find out for yourself!) I'm no expert, but I believe a film is more enjoyable when the audience feels a connection with one, or more, of the characters. For me, at least, lack of connection means my lack of interest.

Has anyone else seen this film or been to the theatre recently? I'm off to the theatre again this weekend, this time to see my favourite Shakespeare play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'! I look forward to telling you all about it.

24 February 2013

The tale of a fresh (faced) start....

On to tale #3 and this time I'll be chatting about my skincare 'routine' (I'd feel like a fraud without the quotation marks!). I can honestly say that, until this year, I've paid little attention to my skin (specifically my face) and what I did to it. My skincare went something like wash face and moisturise. Now I can't deny I still pretty much just do this, however ,I have changed things up a bit by purchasing some new products, as well as adding in a couple of extras.

It's out of sheer laziness that I've stuck to fairly similar products throughout the years, albeit coupled with lack of want to stray from the familiar. I'm also pretty bad at researching stuff and get a little confused by all the information on offer (and being a bad decision maker certainly doesn't help this!) Simple products seem to have been frequently involved, specifically this face wash, with the occasional introduction of a few other bits, such as this St. Ives scrub.
This all changed in January, however, when I spent my (very much appreciated) Christmas-given Lush voucher on 3 products in the hope of sprucing my 'routine' up; Ocean Salt (I've been told this is a best-seller) chosen because I cannot be without a good scrub, Herbalism, a light scrub that is good for everyday use and Enzymion, a beautifully fruity-smelling moisturiser, the latter two of which cater for the oily/troubled skin sufferer. I don't have too may problems with troubled skin (although, typically, a spot has popped up today to say hello and start its own little 'on Tori's face' tale) but I do still suffer on occasion with a few nasties that like to appear and look angry. Therefore a product that caters to both (which does tend to happen as, from my experience, oily = spotty) gets a thumbs up from me!
The additional products you see in the piccy below are spoken about later in the post (a little heads-up in case you thought I was going crazy and somehow mistook 5 products for 3!)

I'm going to point out here - although its completely unnecessary - that I am just a normal gal commenting on how these products have been for me. Everyone's skin is different, therefore, if you are looking to make a fresh start regarding your own skincare it's probably best to get some proper advise from an actual knowledgeable person! I can, however, totally recommend Lush as a place to start - its staff are always helpful and more often that not you'll come across someone with similar skin problems to yourself who can steer you in the right direction. I had a lovely chat the first time I popped in with a girl who had the same skin type as mine; she showed me the products that she uses. She had stopped using Ocean Salt because she doesn't like scrubs but when I mentioned I could not live without them she recommended it quite enthusiastically! She sent me off armed with a few little tester-tubs (covered up by the stickers in the photo) which I thought was pretty darn fab. Being able to try them before I bought them meant I could get an idea of what they were like without having first forked out near-on £30!

I'm going to start by talking about Herbalism. This could just be down to technique but I find it pretty tricky to use. Its a dry consistency although pliable, therefore, in the never-ending struggle of man vs. tub (because usually the product just gets stuck in my fingernails, urgh) it allows for an easy situation in that I can sort of 'pinch' it out. You are told to add water to it before using it on the face but this is where I meet my downfall because it always goes everywhere (again, this could just be down to technique, we all know how incapable my hands are at doing anything I want them to!) and it's green people, so you can imagine the state the sink etc. gets into when I'm trying to get it from hands to face! Not only that but if I get it too wet it loses its ability to exfoliate, too dry and I can't spread it on my skin! If anyone has used the product then I'd appreciate any tips you have to offer! Despite the trickiness, it is a good 'every day use' product; though I usually prefer something that packs a meatier punch (hence alternating every so often with a scrub), it does leave my skin feeling clean and fresh, so no real complaints here about its capabilities as a cleanser.

Ocean Salt is exactly what you want from a scrub; no big gritty lumps which means its not harsh on the skin, although consistency is obviously dependent on how wet you get your skin before applying it. I alternate Herbalism with Ocean Salt every couple of days so it is lasting rather well. You definitely don't need a huge amount (same with the Herbalism, although I take the 'pea-sized' advice with a pinch of salt - geddit? Salt?!!!) It does have quite a strong smell that I can't really describe very well - a little more medicinal than the other products which could put some off. Overall though it is a really decent scrub - gritty enough that it actually feels like its doing something, but not so much that it makes my skin feel sore. It's definitely a product I would suggest others to have a go at using - I guess that's why its a bestseller!

On to moisturiser. I'm not an organised fellow (nor am I actually a fellow) because, if I were, I'd have been jotting down proper observations on a notepad (sigh, I don't even own a notepad) regarding any differences I have found in my skin since using these products so as to give a well-informed review/recommendation (I'm not sure why anyone would ever ask me of all people for one but hey, a girl's gotta be prepared for any such occasion). However, despite not officially having done so, I have actually been able to notice a few differences and there is one in particular that I wanted to share.
I have used Boots own Essentials Cucumber Moisturising Lotion for yonks. I like the smell, it's cheap (under £2!) and it seemed to do the trick. However, a major negative is that I couldn't count on both hands how many times a day I would plaster it on my face. It became a habit and the more times I applied the more I felt I needed to. Now, I am not knocking this product - I wouldn't have been using it for years if I thought it was awful (I'm not that lazy!) - but, since using Enzymion (which has a decent consistency - not too thick that it doesn't rub in, not too thin that it soaks in instantly) I have taken to moisturising just twice a day which to me is a miracle! I can't say I haven't cheated - on more than one occasion I've felt compelled to use the Cucumber moisturiser on my forehead (yes, such a specific area)  - but I would say that's because a habit is hard to break. It seems that Enzymion - or maybe the products as a collective? - seems to be helping to control something in my skin (yes, I realise that's a bad explanation, I have no technical terms to wow you with here!). Not only that but I don't even feel like I have to take the moisturiser with me in my bag everywhere I go to 'top up' (so to speak) throughout the day like I did with the Boots one. That's a major step for me - separating myself from a moisturiser during the day!

Furthermore I purchased another Enzymion this week as my first had run out which  means another big 'ole tick in the box for it because, at £13 a pop, it doesn't come cheap. However, despite this £11 difference in price, I was actually happy to make the purchase (trust me, I would have blanched at the thought before). Sure, I could have gone back to my Boots basic, but something stopped me from doing so. I feel a little - dare I say it??!! - proud with myself for paying out for this moisturiser. The times they are a'changin; maybe I’ll make a grown-up of myself yet!!

In addition this week I purchased their Tea Tree Water (the 100g) which is something I took home as a tester originally but it wasn't in stock when I went back to make my purchase. I'm hoping it adds a little something extra to my skin care - I'll update you once I've been using it for a few weeks. I'm always a little sceptical about toners because I'm not actually sure what their job is! This one comes in a pump bottle, however, I do not spray it on my face because, when trying to do so, I managed to spray the bottom of my chin and nothing else so, for me, it would be a waste of product. I either spray some in my hands and pat it on, or onto a cotton-wool ball (as suggested).

I also purchased a lip scrub - Mint Julips - which (as many have probably pointed out) smells and tastes exactly like After Eight Mints. I'm still not sure about this product. I think I like the idea of it more than the product itself. I'm also not quite sure whether to wet my lips or not first? Either way, it seems to be ok at what it does, but it doesn't get rid of my dry skin (at the very bottom of my top lip, towards the inside of my mouth) which is a bit of a pain because that is what I wanted it to do! I've also been a little useless with this recently because I never seem to find a time to use it. As it has such a strong smell/flavour it's not something I would be happy to use all the time. I think I'm going to have to get my head around some sort of teeth-brush then lip-scrub timetable!

Do any of you lovely readers use Lush products? If so, any recommendations/reviews of your own to make? 
Also, I may branch out and purchase some body skincare soon; I'd love some thoughts on what you use!

20 February 2013

A few words about Paige.....

Today I wanted to write a little something (short and sweet, just like her!) about my beautiful friend Paige. Not only is she a truly wonderful friend who is willing to listen to me moan about my aches and pains on what seems to be like a fairly regular basis, she is such a beautifully talented illustrator. When I found out she had decided to make her own zine, perfectly named 'A Girl Can Dream' - which can be purchased here - I knew I had to snap one up. It arrived today (thank goodness in one piece, Royal Mail I'm shaking my fist at you!) and was such a joy to open! Not only did I receive the zine but Paige added a few little goodies for me plus a lovely little note that brought tears to my eyes! It is such a gorgeous body of work and I'm completely impressed by her skills.

If you haven't already, you can check out Paige's work here and, if you can, please do purchase a copy of this darling zine - you won't be disappointed. We truly must do all we can to show our support for home-grown talent!

A sneak peek at the zine and my lovely goodies - the photos definitely don't do them justice!!

18 February 2013

You can change your hair, you can change your clothes, you can change your mind, that's just the way it goes

With introductions over - if you haven’t done so already you can click here to read a little bit more about my story - I decided I’d change things up a bit (yes, so soon!) and instead of focusing on life in general I thought I'd tell you all the tiny tale (as it has occurred since the big move) of my new hair. Now this may sound like a silly subject to dedicate my post to but it truly is amazing how much this colour journey has affected me and, because of this, I believe it is a pretty necessary tale to tell.

You should know that I’m almost constantly bored of my hair thanks to it's delightful combination of flatness and straightness. I’ve recently tweeted back and forth with a few of the girls on the subject of hair - the result of one of such convos was my lovely friend Paige having a gorgeous haircut that can be seen here displayed under an ab-fab hat, as well as Ella, who's sweet chop really suits her (and check out that cheeky little shaved side!!)- so I felt that my hair tale was a good one to tell. First, a mini rant - my hair always gets to a certain length nowadays (note, when I was younger it seemed to fair surpass this) - lets call it sort of shoulder blade length - and that’s it. It stops. And may I just point out to you that it did this a fair wee while ago now. I’m talking months back. So I think I’ve been pretty gosh-darn patient. Unfortunately for my hair, fidget bum Tori has now appeared and, boy, does she mean business. She’s getting frustrated and she sure is not going to stand for it much longer! Now, I know there are probably things I can do to help it along, however, not only am I trying to restrict my spending, but I’m also very lazy when it comes to researching stuff for my hair. I mean, does anything truly work re: helping hair grow besides good, old-fashioned natural crap like eating right and making sure you get out in the sunlight?!!

But hey, I’m getting a little sidetracked here, for my intention is to focus on hair colour. At school I was a few different varieties; shades of red, dark brown and then my naturally - and of course, rather beautiful - mousey brown. After school I carried on 'embracing' my natural side until I realised, around the age of 18, that I didn't actually have to any more! Tori, I said, look what's out there for you! A plethora of colours that offer you something new and a little more - hell, a lot more - interesting. So I went for it, chose myself some highlights and, hey presto, blonde Tori arrived! She has since stuck around in various forms, from long and fringey to super-short, with the occasional slip back to mousey (when one was counting the pennies and trying to be good!)

But this all changed in October when I made the (instantly regrettable) decision to make a change. Bored of my blonde I decided I'd very much like to become a brunette. And boy did I! Unfortunately, it’s a colour that came from my - what are now known to be exceedingly incapable - hands. Near on black, I was very much in shock when I first viewed my handiwork (what a scary moment when you know that, after the rinse, even before you've dried it, you hate it but can't turn back time!) The shade was so dark that on one occasion, whilst sat in bed, I looked up and caught a glimpse of myself in our wardrobe mirrors, only to think that the little girl from The Ring (do not click if you are easily scared!) had somehow silently crept into bed beside me. As you can no doubt imagine, this was not good, I tell you - not good at all. But I decided - being a poor student and all - that I would just bloody well live with it; I’m the one who wanted it therefore I had to stick by the decision (giving myself the Mum talk!) And I did stick by it....for a short while! It was certainly a weird time for me because whenever I looked in the mirror I saw a stranger staring back for the colour was such a contrast to everything familiar to me. Not only that but my shade choice was terribly poor as it left me looking quite horribly washed out.

The interesting thing is - ok, I use that term loosely, for it may just describe how I feel about it - I actually felt less like myself after this change of colour than I did after I had 'the chop' (the results of which you can see below). Now, that was more than a little drastic for me, and in the end I decided it didn't really suit and chose to grow it out again (of course, I did go in with the vision of myself looking like Michelle Williams, which is such a purely idiotic and sadly incredibly rookie vision to dream up - do you have a face of dainty features? No Tors, you bloody do not, so obviously you were never going to look like Michelle, gah) but still, I lived with it. Yes, I had a few tears, but I still felt like me. However, as a (new and shoddy) brunette I very much didn't. The way in which I looked at myself, and felt in myself, had changed rather startlingly. I just did not feel comfortable; nor did I like presenting myself in this way to those around me (as awful as that may sound).

Thus, after a few umms and ahhs (and after the purchase of colour remover that, thankfully, I did not use thanks to a twitter convo with a couple of people who warned me the result may be something from the orange colour spectrum!) I made the decision to seek out the help of a professional. He was very kind and complimented me on my fairly even coverage and lack of khaki greenness (I mean, whuut?!) but told me that I would never have got the shade I had envisaged (chocolate brown - the colour of the bloody dye I bought!) due to my complete lack of colouring knowledge; I think it had something to do with the need to stain it orange first (hang on, hadn't I just tried to avoid such an outcome re: the colour removal thing?!) so as to add tone? Or depth? Regardless of which, he lost me at stain. Anyway, we chatted over things and seemed to come to some mutual agreement regarding what he would do (Tori - 'I want to look like Alexa Chung', hairdresser - barely covered audible sigh and roll of the eyes 'everyone wants to look like Alexa Chung'). It took two attempts but the final result is your pretty standard ombre; a soft, warm dark brown from my roots to my mid-section (ish) that fades (quite obviously not an English student) to a dark blonde at the ends. It'll be a temporary change, because I'm still not quite used to it some 3 months down the line. However, it is also an itch I can't currently scratch thanks to the fact that I am now living in a proper home that comes with its own bills and rent to pay for plus my additional needs such as food to live, but hopefully over the next few months I'll be able to go back and have the brunette slowly stripped out and the blonde put back in (although now I've said that *out loud* I'm a little bored of the idea - see? Hello, I'm Tori, and I'm a bored-aholic!)

A little hair story
Top row - 1) the longest and fringiest my hair has ever been! 2) au naturale 1, in New York aged 21, 3) fringey and short
Second row - 1) and 2) 2008, with the fringe gone - swept to the side and pinned back. 3) au naturale 2, travelling in 2010
Third row - 1) after the chop (growing out), 2) a little longer and a lot blonder, 3) travelling again, longer still
Bottom row - 1) before the colour change, summer 2012, 2) my disaster dahling, only captured in instagram format! 3) as I am now (still looking a little washed out - ref. below!)

The other thing that I've noticed since becoming a brunette is that, and stop me if this seems a little odd or, you know, completely wrong (which is more than likely when it comes to me) but I feel I should (or rather, could?) be carrying off some sort of 'stronger make-up look' (oh god, I'm sorry, I really am one with little knowledge of anything make up related included any technical terms). True, I've had to start filling in my eyebrows, at first with a pencil, which was just too fiddly and made them look ridiculously dark, now with the Mua Pro-brow kit, but other than that I've stuck to what I've always known, which is mascara and that is it (and its the same brand/type I've been using since I was at secondary school!) However, it doesn't feel right. I think that, now my hair creates this darker frame against my face, I need something (colour? I'm not sure what) to 'set it all off'. The brunette colour can, at times, bring out the worst in my skin. Also, and it may of course just be because I'm thinking this way therefore am no doubt drawn to making such assumptions/conclusions, I've noticed that a lot of brunette girlies I see nowadays tend to wear a heavier, more-defined (ugh, I hate myself) face of make up and wondered if this is because of hair colour coupled with skin tone etc? I've been giving this a lot of thought recently and wondering if maybe I should give it a try too? (cue future post, watch this space!) Sidenote - while I'm at it, a whole new wardrobe too if you please (cue future post two....) I feel like I could pull off something a little more 'dramatic', I just wouldn't know where to start! This is where you guys may have to come in.....

Anyway, enough of the words!! Tell me - has a hair colour/cut/style ever had a similar effect on you? Has it changed the way you look at yourself or prompted additional changes, such as a make-up or wardrobe haul?

(and yes, all you crazy cool kids who might be a-wondering about those lyrics, they are from the 'hand' of Miley Cyrus - the Queen of drastic chops and changes. It felt rather fitting)

13 February 2013

Once upon a tale.....

Welcome, one and all, to my little corner of this world wide blogosphere from which I shall be sharing my Tori tales of life, love, laughter, high, lows, fears, hopes, dreams and everything in between!

This blog has been a long time coming. I had aimed to get it ready in time for the beginning of January so as to welcome you all with a ‘Happy 2013!’ post but this deadline came and very much went again without so much as one word on the page. However, I would like to think it’s arrival is accepted as better late than never at all (and I can of course welcome you instead with a 'Happy Valentines Day' message!)

Although not one to make actual resolutions (the excessively-prone-to-worrying head I have has enough to contend with without the added pressure of real-life actual goals to achieve!) I did decide that this year would be the one in which I would start to write down all the things I have to say.

This first post, however, has taken a lot longer to write than I had originally envisaged and that's for two reasons. The first reason is that, having never written anything down before, not even really for myself in the way of a diary, I had no idea what my writing ‘voice’ would sound like. Trying to get the best balance of normal/funny/interesting/not a madwoman has been harder than expected! For those who blog, how have you come to find this balance? For a newcomer I certainly have found it a tricky one to strike!

The second reason is that the ‘putting-myself-out-there’ step has felt like a fairly substantial one to make. I realised that what comes with creating a blog is 'me' - the person behind it - warts and all. All my thoughts, feeling, opinions even - all the stuff that goes a long way toward making me who I am - would be out there for all to see, and that can be quite a scary thought (though I have no doubt it's one shared by plenty before me and, I would expect, plenty who will come after). However, in weighing up the pro’s and con’s of whether or not to create a blog (during which my ever-present pessimistic side fought good and proper to succeed) I always had this feeling, seemingly buried deep down inside me, that I wanted to to take the risk because, if I'm being honest, I don't do that a lot. If ever. And even though the worries, fears and scaredy-cat thoughts clawed their way up to the surface on many an occasion, this feeling fought too. And it won!

Of course, then came the deliberation over what my first post should entail. My ultimate decision was to dedicate it to the beginning of a new chapter I started in my Tori Tales last September, one in which I packed up my little life and relocated, together with the boy, to Nottingham to become a (yes, first-time-around and certainly mature) student. Here are a few photos to depict this journey :)

Our first visit to the city wouldn't have been complete without a trip to the White Rabbit Teahouse
(thanks to Olivia's post that prompted said visit!)
The first view of our not-yet-known-to-be-future-flat (the twelfth we saw!)

Moving day and here we are, off into town for a spot of (Prezzo - love me some Italian!)
lunch after unpacking the van!
Walking my parents around the uni grounds!
Two beautiful sunsets captured from our flat window
We certainly have pretty skies in the Midlands!
A sunny Autumn visit to Newstead Abbey
My first attempt at baking something other than Vic'Tori'a Sponge
These were my rather fairycake-like attempt at red velvet cupcakes!
Tea and sunny days in the flat
Snow and chilly days on campus
And that's all folks! Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you around here again soon :)