Friday, 20 June 2014

Belle - A Rambling Review

Here be minor spoilers!

The film Belle revolves around the theme of status, which is a deliciously meaty topic to discuss and dissect in the film's context. In a place where where this matters so much,  Dido (Belle, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) literally finds herself in the middle - daughter of an English father and a mother of unknown origins (but presumably, the African continent was involved somewhat).

Her situation is further complicated by the fact that she later on finds herself an heiress. So she has the money, and she has the noble connections, but she also has the stigma of being her mother's  daughter. She lives and loves her family but cannot eat a formal dinner with them. Her cousin, Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon), finds herself in a similar, yet contrasting bind - she is of noble and upbringing, but soon to be penniless.

This would not be such a big deal nowadays, but it's 1797. A woman is (almost literally) nothing if she is not married. There's a moment where Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) tries to give Dido the keys of her spinster Aunt Mary, and it's basically him saying that he doesn't expect her ever to find a husband.

 Crossed with this plotline is the fact that Dido and Elizabeth's Great Uncle Lord Mansfield  is presiding over the Zong massacre case - where a slaving ship is attempting to claim insurance money back on 142 slaves it threw overboard to drown in the sea.

Oh, and then there's the influence of a particular young lawyer on Dido....

Nomination for the next Friday Pretty: Hats 'n' Wigs Edition
The man literally has a voice so bone shakingly gravelly, it makes me think of a mountain on the move. 
Anyway, his 'radical' (we would call them normal nowadays...I hope) views on slavery start to influence Dido to reflect more on her life and social position and basically drive her Great Uncle Lord Mansfield up the wall because he feels it is driving his household into chaos.

Who will Dido marry? What will Lord Mansfield rule on the Zong massacre case? 

I went to see the film with The Wonder Thing. And it thankfully, it was good.

The moments between John Davinier (pictured above, played by Sam Reid) and Lord Mansfield after their 'break up' are possibly some of my most favourites in the film, merely for the facial expressions when they see each other. 

Since the film is based on the facts behind a picture, it makes sense that Dido starts to look for people who look like her in pictures and analyse what it means, which I thought was touching and still relevant today when we look for more representation and diversity in the media. Their placing in the pictures is always very indicative of their status - lower and in the background (or completely cut out. I'm just saying).

The portrait the film is based on

This is such a beautifully layered film that I loved watching for so many different, reasons. Remembering watching it makes my toes tingle in glee. Like, she's wearing 18th century clothing! And she is someone of colour in a film with a British/English accent!

Few more things:
  1. Tom Felton of Draco Malfoy fame makes an appearance in this, though the wig and moustache shading threw me off momentarily. He plays a not very nice character and I'm beginning to worry he will get typecast as wormy types. He played the character well in that I saw the mindset of many a plantation owner in him and I wanted to throw up.
  2. I got confused what was up with all the wet eyes in the film. I know it was hard at times, but I didn't know if certain characters were on the brink of tears or if they had allergies.

Do you need some anti-histamines, love?
I got a bit confused with the camera angles - sometimes they pulled out so far it took me a while to spot the characters in the scene and other times I wished they wouldn't focus so hard on one person's face. I mean, I live for the cuter moments like this:

Get your distance right and don't deprive me of the cuteness!

Oh, and the Wonder Thing enjoyed it too! He says he thought it was a good film and he is glad that the assault was not carried out by who we thought it would be.

In short (haha!), I thought the costumes were opulent, the actors did what they had to do, and I want it on DVD. Please go and see this film, and don't just stream it online!

TL:DR: Sumptuous clothing, British accents, thinking film, go see.

Monday, 16 June 2014

My Mini Twist Maintenance

Mini twist maintenance? What's this, Simple? Did you take your old set out and put in a new set?

Well, no, not exactly....

Actually, not at all. I've still got my old set in.

When I was little, I always used to get braid extensions for 3 months. Worked out at £10 a month for hair styling costs. A proper bargain, though a gross one when you think about it now - my mum was encouraged not to wash them regularly by the hair stylists to prevent the hair slipping out.
When I later encountered ladies who changed their hair every 6 weeks, it seemed positively wasteful to me. You pay how much? How often??
Same with my friends cutting their hair every month or so. Who had that kind of money? Or time?

A common piece of advice in the natural hair scene online is to not put extensions or braids or any
sort of protective style in your hair for more than 4 weeks.

However, I reckon that:

1) My hair flourished in its 3 month changing routine as a child, because it is fine and it was like the ultimate protective challenge.

2) Whenever I take my hair down from a long term protective style, there's always a lot of tangling. Why not just prolong having to deal with the inevitable for just a while longer?

3) I don't have much time in the coming weeks to work out how I'm going to stretch my hair every week and then possibly use a drier and then style and....nah. Just nah. In the ever true, ever wise words of Sweet Brown:

So when I am not taking hair advice and life wisdom from Internet memes, what am I doing to my hair exactly?

Note - Since the weather has gotten hotter and more humid last week, I've cut the whole moisturisation process down to either co-washing or moisturising once a week. But during the miserable Spring beginning, this is what I was doing:

Once or twice a week:

  • Moisturise hair with the DIY Interim Hair Milk.
  • Moisturise scalp with rose water and aloe vera juice mix. 

At least once every two weeks:

  •  Pre-poo with Vatika Oil for an hour (the time varies, depending mainly on how badly I need a shower).
  •  Shampoo with some of The Wonder Thing's shampoo.
  •  Condition for 3 - 5 minutes (depends on how long I can tolerate doing nothing in the shower for) with one of Ultra Conditioners. I use the Avocado and Shea One if my hair is dry, or between the Coconut or Vanilla Papaya one if my hair needs freshening up.
  •  Rinse Conditioner Out.
  •  Dry my hair with a T-shirt. I find using a T-shirt instead of a towel minimises the amount of fluff and lint that ends up in my hair, thus reducing future tangles and cursing, but that's it. I have too much frizz for frizz to be a major concern. 
  • Moisturise with the DIY Interim Hair Milk
  •  Seal with Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti Breakage Serum.

At night, of course, I sleep on my silk satin pillowcase.
I may have to re-introduce ACV rinses for my scalp.

At least every two weeks
I re-twist. Not a whole section, but I just put my fingers at my roots to see which of the twists have grown out the most.
It looks like a lot, but it's only about half an inch.

Here are my (delightfully large) fingers for comparison.

I slowly unravel it, starting from the ends and ending up at the roots. I sometimes have knots at the end - I either work them carefully or if that fails, I pull *ahem* cut them off.

At the roots, you can clearly see where the new growth has tangled a lot. I simply comb the mass with my fingers, with the goal of separating it back into two equal sections.

And re-twist. 

Easy! I don't always detangle the two sections if I don't feel it's necessary - my aim is to retwist whilst minimising manipulation.

I don't retwist the 'safe' or 'secure' way, because when I do, my twists end up all crinkly like this.

Between everything I'm doing at the moment - work, sports, volunteering, housework (bleurk!) I've found that doing what I used to do is working for me the best. Plus, it's massively protective. The results we will have to wait and see in the middle of July when I will finally have time to deal with my hair on a full grown basis.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Jersey Pencil Skirt

I made a skirt.

No biggie.

Psyche! I'm majorly excited that I made a piece of clothing! That I can wear! On the regular!

I used this tutorial at first, though I modified it a little bit by adding an elastic waistband at the top that I LOVE.

Notes for myself for next time -

  • I'm tall - so I need to extend it by a few inches by taking into account how much hemming I'll be doing. It ends just above my knee and I'd wanted it below the knee.
  • Making a paper pattern instead of drawing freehand for a beginner makes so much more sense. Especially if I want to extend it. My two sides were slightly different, so my side seams are kind of ruffly/bubbly as a result.
  • Even if you think you have curves for days, this will not translate well when drawing on stretchy material. Be more conservative in your drawing - it will definitely compensate.
  • Sew the elastic on the outside, not on the inside. It looks much nicer.
  • Trying it on with pins in = major ow-ow.
  • Stretchy fabric isn't the easiest to work with for a beginner, but it's entirely possible. 
  • Stretch stitch for stretchy materials!
  • Read your manual so you know what your stretch stitch actually is.
  • Sewing is totally awesome.
The biggest mistake I made was sewing the elastic on the inside of the waistband, so it's slightly covered when I should have sewed it to the outside, like on your knickers.

If you want to go and check, I'll wait.

This is what it looks like on the outside. This should be inside.
This beautiful example of sewing is unfortunately hidden on the inside and
should CLEARLY be on the outside, for all to see and MARVEL.

Friday, 30 May 2014

No Hair Blogs? No problem!

To be honest and straight to the point, I haven't found it overly difficult not going on hair sites. Once I broke the habit of typing in certain sites and found other things to interest me, it was easy. My issues with my hair and comparing them - well, I have very little to compare them to, so I've just stopped comparing it. I don't think hair obsession is that serious or that bad - it's not affecting my health or my lifestyle, so I'm good. I just needed to get a little bit of perspective!

My hair related routine has become oh-so-simple - in fact, some weeks, it borders on neglect because I forget to do anything! I haven't been using Apple Cider Vinegar, or Black Tea when doing my hair because...I forgot? I'm lazy? It seemed like far too much effort and not really important?

I do need to use up all the tea in my house somehow but...I live in England. I'll find a way, haha!

 That way will probably consist of inviting over friends on a weekly basis:
"Would you like a cuppa?" "Ooh, yes, I'd love one!"

I think the hardest part has been the lack of community. Reading articles and comments from real people really makes you feel like you're a part of a community - maybe when it's agreeing or debating thrifty methods, hair products or even people. You feel a togetherness.

But there's definitely a different between reading and joining in and being part of a conversation. I think forums are much better at the conversation thing and I've come away from that. I miss commenting on the pages of new-er bloggers, or ones with a smaller audience, where it feels like you're having a lovely chat with a friend who just happens to live thousands of miles away from you.

On a similar note, The Littlest Sis is bugging me to go to a hair event sometime this summer, which will be intriguing and terrifying in equal measures. I have no idea what it's like! It seems really exciting and intimidating at the same time! What is it like to be at one? I feel I need to read reviews....

Monday, 5 May 2014

Mini Twists

There are only two things that are officially awful about mini twists - putting them in and taking them out.

I've definitely overcome one of those hurdles.

I'm hoping that it will be a while until the second hurdle. They took me about 5 - 6 days and I did it over a week period, finally finishing this Sunday. In the meanwhile, the loose hair was chunkily twisted and put up into a bun. I worked on the perimeter first, to cover the hair in the middle.

I didn't use any product (that I can remember). And it was fairly easy doing the actual twists - it was overcoming my nausea at how small I thought each one was that was the hardest part! Since I coiled each strand of hair before I twisted them, these are rope twists. But I always do rope twists. I've tried not to and it's actually physically impossible for me to twist fast and not roll and coil each strand beforehand. Maybe that's why the twists are so wriggly and serpentine? I like it though. Looks more voluminous and fun.

Plus, I'm beginning to believe that my scalp exudes glue, not sebum, because my roots are always stuck together.

No, not tangled together. Stuck.

Just a small update anyway. I'm not really sure how long I'll keep them in for, but I'm having a lot of fun already.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Health > Obsession

Until I get to that particular weight, I won't be happy. She's at that weight and she's gorgeous. They're all so pretty...I wish I had the same weight as them. I don't think I can feel completely happy until I lose weight. I need to lose these pounds! My cousin knows a lady who can give me some pills to shed these pounds in a month! They're only available in Europe/the US but I need them. Apparently, sometimes you get some side effects too, but I'm willing to risk that to lose weight! They're mega expensive - how can I afford them? 

Those thoughts above don't sound like the healthiest mindset and it's because it's not - that person has obviously prioritised weight loss in front of their health - both mental and physical. Fortunately, I am nowhere near that least, when it comes to my body. (It's pretty awesome, thank you for asking).

Replace 'weight' with 'hair length'. Swap 'shed these pounds' to 'gain those inches'. 'Lose weight' with 'grow my hair'. You can replace pills with hair products or keep it the same, it's similar.

And then suddenly, it is me.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Let's Lunch! No 1: Deconstructed Pitta Burger

My new workplace is not, unfortunately (or fortunately) situated within my home, so I have to provide lunch for myself, else risk Hangry*-Low-Blood-Sugar mood swings. I can't really see myself buying every day, so I pack and take a lunch with me.

The British packed lunch tends to follow a certain pattern. Sandwich, crisps, yoghurt, treat, fruit, drink, though grown ups have the added choice of leftovers too. Unless it's leftovers, it's not too great on the pocket or the health side. Boring too! I wanted something delightful, tasty, affordable (maybe even cheap) and that wouldn't make me feel like keeling over from still being hungry afterwards.

I'm fascinated by bento boxes. They share similar themes with packed lunches, but tend to be set out differently and in a manner than appeals to the eye. I like the fact there's usually quite a large focus on vegetables too.

My main problem is wrapping my head around eating the food cold. In the few snatches of summer we may get here, that's a possibility. But even as we are only just emerging from the depths of winter, I still find myself hovering near the microwave.

I used one of my favourite thrifty recipes to make this - delicious, easy and quick! Definitely a keeper in our househ

Anyway. In this lunch, there's:
  • Red grapes
  • Kidney bean/carrot balls
  • A pitta bread sliced in half
  • Half an avocado wrapped in a plastic bag
  • A few slices of cucumber lurking under the pitta bread.

I also took a banana and an apple with me.

I toasted the pitta bread halves at work, added some margarine on the inside, and then stuffed them with the avocado and kidney bean balls. Dee. Lish. Shious.
This lunch is both vegan and vegetarian friendly.

Paleo/Gluten Free: Skip the pitta bread for some lettuce leaves and replace the kidney bean balls with meatballs.
Hate avocado?:  Swap it for some soft cheese. Or some halloumi. Mmm.