Parenting, blogging and the like

So, I’ve been away. I made a baby. What have you lot been up to?

The baby I made (with the help of Things of Random Coolness) is called Miro. The name itself is a blog post but I shall try to be succinct – scan looked like a Miró painting, bump became known as Miro, bambino HAD to be thus named.

Miro likes: Empty toilet rolls (or kitchen rolls…he’s not fussy,) crinkly paper, magazines, lampshades, maracas, Felt Mistress’ Serge, cats, France 24, baths, leaves, garlic, knees, rain, Gerald (a zebra pal,) and guitars.

Miro dislikes: Smoking indoors (see aforementioned Serge ;) direct sunlight, boring activities, afternoon naps and fish pie (unless Dad makes it.)

Life as I knew it has changed forever. Miro’s birth was a drama involving chicken pox, snow blocked roads and the threat of a broken pelvis (mine not his.) The initial overwhelming sense of responsibility was something I had not anticipated in any way. I am now a Mum. There is NO off-switch; I will always be Miro’s Mum. I likened it to a rollercoaster ride that you can never get off. Things of Random said that he hates roller coaster rides (take from that what you will!) Being Miro’s Mum is complete joy. I have moments when I’m sure he utterly hates me…think Stewie and Lois on Family Guy…and times when I haven’t a clue what I’m doing. The one constant is the all-encompassing sense of love that creeps up on you when you least expect it.

A new world of shopping has also opened up to me; that of little boy’s clothes. I spend more time shopping for him than I do for myself (completely unheard of in 2010.) Those on mainland Europe seem to have got the cool clothing concept down to a tee. Bobo Choses, Mini Rodini and Mini-a-ture have provided some stellar outfits for Mr. Miro (more baby brand blogging to follow shortly.)

I’m trying to get back on the blogging wagon. I welcome any suggestions and hope to be up in London soon, to bother my fellow blogger friends. Remember I’m on Twitter too – @FashionCoolness.

Margot

Things I have realised over the last few months:

1. Pregnancy changes everything; from general perspectives to challenges, right down to mundane tasks. Priorities inevitably change as life’s already not just about you anymore.
2. Women-folk treat you COMPLETELY differently*. A bump seemingly means you are no longer a potential threat. You are a nurturer, a life giver and a reassuring presence. (*based on current treatment from previously contemptuous shop-assistants)
3. I suddenly want to be a Margot.

Let me explain number 3. Fashion during pregnancy can unavoidably become about functionality. The desire to feel comfortable is a practical one, allowing little bump to grow freely. The swaths of high-waisted, sumptuous (and fitted) camel pieces are removed from your radar. Beautifully neat buttoned-up blouses and loose shorts offer only a Pinky and Perky appeal (see here) This is not a rant or a moan, just a sheer matter of fact. I have been blessed with a comfortable, very happy, healthy pregnancy in which my stylistic approach had to change. So, back to Margot! As I enter my 9th month, I suddenly feel a huge urge to dress opulently and extravagantly, a desire I have never before felt. I usually shun the over dramatic formalities of fashion but as I sit here blogging in PJs all of the styles above, demonstrated by the various Margots, spark off a flicker of envy. I want perfect hair, heavy make-up and a 70′s nonchalance that only a Margot (albeit at times a character) can achieve.

Featured Margots:

1. Mrs. Leadbetter: Champion of the British sitcom The Good Life, Margot seemingly effortlessly dressed in dramatic fashion on a daily basis. My usual go-to look is more akin to that of Margot’s earthy neighbour Barbara but these final stages of pregnancy seem to have changed that. Margot Leadbetter wore kaftans and turbans, headscarves, playsuits and corsages as part of her functional wardrobe; opulently delicious.

2. Miss. Tenenbaum: Do not fear, I haven’t been drawn to real furs but the uncompromising way in which Margot wears her lavish fur, coupled with charcoal stained eyes, offers a look extraordinaire. In my mind I want to expand it further, adding a slather of deep red lipstick.

3. Miss. Fonteyn: I have no aspirations to take up ballet but the inane elegance of prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn is quite infatuating. Her grace, coupled with the intricate costumes her roles required, fill the current void of refinement in my style.

So, Margot is my inspiration. Giving birth within the next few weeks will no doubt change my style muses once again as the practicalities of parenthood take full hold. But it is nice to aspire to something unobtainable, to envy ostensible perfection from afar. By next summer, who knows stylistically where my heart will be and what actual look I’ll gravitate towards as a Mum. For now, this winter, it’s firmly with Margot…if only in my head!

Variation on a Theme

I am having a crise du blog. It is hard to put this one into words but over the last few weeks I feel I have lost my blog “mojo” (I despise that “m” word but is the only thing that adequately describes my lack of lustre towards blogging.) It started slowly, with emails asking for blog statistics and comment numbers as proof of my worth in the blogosphere. It escalated when I was asked to remove collages for infringement of copyright. Vagabondia then seemed to sum up all my thoughts, concerns and fears in this perfect, succinct post. I too do not rely on my blog as a source of income. I am and have always remained true to my personal set of blog morals; I post things I personally find interesting and accept no freebies on the promise of a gushing post. The numbers, the statistics – yes, they massage my ego but I never began the blog for that reason.

I feel as if the last few weeks have provided essential research. I have scoured the Internet looking at the many types of blog on offer. My eyes have been opened. The Internet is saturated with blogs! Some are so similar, I wonder what it is that makes them stand out or be considered unique in any way? I put myself in the place of a publicist and started to look at the number of comments and what they had to say about the blog. The quality of the comment, not the number, revealed A LOT to me. Those with intelligent readership, elicited insightful comments that paralleled the quality of the post itself and were just as enjoyable to read. Those whose posts represented a bit of filler “fluff” to me, presented equally mundane comments, albeit in a greater number. When all bloggers attend the same occasions, how can you make your version events stand out? (See an example of GREAT alternative posting here by Isabelle O’Carroll!) I also decided being a publicist doling out tickets for Fashion Week must be a minefield! The criteria upon which they base allocation must plague their souls (I personally would go with my quality theory!) Unfortunately, my research compounded my fears; with so many great blogs out there, providing such great, regular content, where did mine fit in?

So today, I bite the bullet. I am writing and have a host of other things to tell you about lined up. I shall leave my Outsider post below sans collage, as a reminder of my mini-crisis! So here goes…

P.S. The novelty journal pictured above is available from Maiden – a great ironic gift for any blogger!

Scents, Smells and Hotels

Once again, idle chit-chat on Twitter has inspired a post. Marian Kihogo and Susie Erskine were discussing their mutual admiration (and Marian’s worrying obsession) with candles. I butted in, as over the last few years the importance of smell has become more apparent to me. I’m not going to quote scientific statistics proving how smells can make you feel a sense of comfort, anxiety etc but just how smells affect me.

Of late bad smells have infiltrated my existence. There are two VERY ripe camemberts in the fridge that kindly remind me of their presence ever time the fridge door opens. Their smell is not abhorrent to me but I have found it strange how they like to make themselves known. Our home (a.k.a. the building site!) has a plethora of strange, unfamiliar smells lurking around each corner. Cement, plaster, paint all tickle my nose hairs each morning.

Perfumes evoke a huge sense of nostalgia in most people. I’m not necessarily referring to fragrances alone – natural, floral scents have the same impact. The Hotel du Petit Moulin in Paris is one of the most phenomenal hotels I have had the pleasure of staying in. The hotel is a design masterpiece and I have extolled its virtues many a time on this blog. It is a hotel that holds many happy memories and I can be transported back there in an instant thanks to a smell. The first time I stayed there it was my perfume of choice, it was also their room spray of choice. No, I did not douse myself in Glade!…Jean Paul Gaultier 2 was sprayed throughout their halls and more ingeniously the lift. In the confined space there was no escape from it; the smell permeated every little corner and (I know this sounds SUPER ostentatious) and a little bit of my soul too. Please delete that last comment from your brain, especially if it made you throw up a little in your mouth!!

Smells are important, thank you for reminding me of that fact Marian and Susie. I now feel the sudden urge to go out and buy a Diptyque candle and I hold you both personally responsible!

Paris, mon lieu préféré x

paris

So, I had a HUGE, elaborate post planned here. I was ready to share the secrets of my love of Paris, the little idiosyncrasies of this beautiful city that draw me in…but then I suddenly had a change of heart. All the things I love, seemed WAY to personal to share and my post suddenly seemed too pompous and preachy to blog about! Instead I need your feedback. Things of Random Coolness and I are off to Paris this weekend and I’d like to know what you recommend. Paris, for me is a city of contradictions; I feel I know it well but then realise each time that I go, I haven’t even scratched the surface. I used to spend my teenage summers with ma correspondante in Verneuil-Sur-Seine. We used to go into Paris every weekend and explore the delights of the city but they were inevitably the expected, traditional sites/sights. As an adult, I’ve tried to dive a little deeper and find the quirky, lesser known pleasures the city has to offer. So please indulge me, help me discover new glories in my enigmatic lieu préféré…I hope that on my return, I will lose my inhibitions and be able to share all of my favourites with you too.

Le Cinéma

film

I went to the cinema last week to see a double feature, something I realised I haven’t done for MANY years. In fact, the last time I saw two films back to back in the cinema it was The Little Mermaid, followed by Ghost with my Mum! I actually haven’t been to the cinema, full stop, for a VERY long time. Our nice, shiny flat screen seemingly offers enough to not have to “film out” so frequently. I had completely forgotten what a true cinematic experience is like. I went to see Twilight followed by the sequel, New Moon; I shall make one thing clear from the outset, this is NOT a review! My opinions on the film are too biased and clouded by my love of the books to offer an objective viewpoint. What I want to talk about here is the true charm this “event” had to offer. The films were shown on the cinema’s largest screen and the midnight performance was completely sold out. The hype surrounding the film translated into an electric pre-show atmosphere. People were genuinely excited to see this film, as opposed to the usual air of nonchalance that accompanies a cinema trip. It’s hard to put into words exactly what I mean but normally, even though you may be excited on the inside prior to a film, it’s not something you overtly demonstrate at the cinema. The spectacle of this premier almost gave the audience carte blanche to indulge in the frenzy. I wasn’t a fan of the clapping, whooping and attempts at a standing ovation…but all the other aspects made it a very special experience.

The sense of nostalgia was quite overwhelming. As a child, all my cinema visits held such magic. Cinema’s always seemed packed, possibly as there weren’t 20 screens! The cinema itself felt physically different – it was a theatre, you were there to see a show. The huge velvet curtains of the auditorium were drawn and only began to open when you heard this. The cinema smelt odd – a strange heady mix of hotdogs, popcorn and cigarette smoke (the by-gone age when people smoked indoors, well anywhere basically!!) Last week’s double feature seemed to give everyone in attendance the permission to relive that sort of memory and to act with giddy, childhood enthusiasm. It restored my faith in the true cinematic experience and has etched itself in a nice little niche in my memory.

Tweets, Goats and Brix

brix

Twitter – the scourge of modern society for some, ALWAYS headlines news and the current source of woe for Stephen Fry. I tweet too much. I have Twitter “friends,” one of whom Things of Random Coolness has begun referring to as, my “Twitter Husband!” For me it is a source of frivolity, fun and light-entertainment; it has also been a great platform for the blog. Last week I @-ed Brix Smith-Start after watching her Fashionair style profile. It was a visual delight; seeing the minimalism of her beautiful home and personal pics from her 80′s post-punk incarnation in The Fall. At the end, I believed Mrs. Start proclaimed a fear of goats and knives. I @-ed her, to reassure her that I would NEVER bring a goat to the Start Boutique. Brix replied saying, “I love goats, bring one down!” (at this point Brix believes me to be the modern day Heidi and I am questioning my hearing!) It eventually transpires that Brix had said GHOSTS and hilarity ensued. 3 days of direct messages later, Brix rings me at home! I was in shock that a.Brix spoke to me directly and b.Tweets could lead to such an event! Brix was a sheer delight; jovial, interesting and engaging. We discussed some interesting future collaborations and Brix invited me up to her boutique to meet her. So, I’m off up to Start in December and will keep you posted as to the result of our meeting….now I just need to find a goat to take with me!

Giles + Cadbury = Nibbles

giles

So, from an ethical rant yesterday, to freebies and chocolate today! That’s what I love about blogging – I can be as eclectic and random as the mood takes me! So, this Friday my blog kind of gets taken over, all in the name of Cadbury Nibbles, Giles Deacon and a scarf. I will have free scarves to give away (YES free!) at a certain point on Friday (still unbeknownst to me, as they’ve probably realised what an awful secret keeper I am!) You must in some way befriend the Caramel Bunny on Facebook, or at least look at her page, get the exact time and voilà, a Giles Deacon scarf can be yours for free. Several other bloggers are in on the action and the Pop-up shops will rotate around us. I’m not sure what it will do to my site, or how it will work, so it’s like a mini chocolate adventure for me too, all just in time for Halloween; tenuous link to explain pumpkins in picture! (Merci to at The Decorated House for the gorge Bunny images – you can buy them on Etsy)

The New Fur

fur

Today was a day of randomness and weirdness. It began quietly and ended in a Twitter frenzy and some business about Right Said Fred and Mel B (don’t ask!!) I have been on a mission to find a stylish, quirky and unique (a tall order) winter coat for some time now. It seems everyone I know did the sensible thing and purchased their coat in June, while the UK was in the midst of “Summer.” They then had the opportunity to wear it all the way through July and August and now are smug as I struggle to find “mine.” I didn’t know moths in the noughties still did this, but they chose to eat my winter coats this summer. When I went into the attic, there were cool little holes running all the way down the sleeves (they seemed cool in August….way less cool as we head for November!) Anywhhoooo, back to matter in hand.  This article in The Guardian today mentioned someone with an astrakhan collared vintage coat. I’m a wordy person and had never heard of “astrakhan” (also known as karakul) before, so looked it up. Firstly I discovered a Belle Jardinière vintage poster, in which all the men wore astrakhan collared coats. On flicking through more recent articles, horror ensued. A 2005 Times’ article reads;

The wool of the karakul lamb — most are black — is so soft and curly that it resembles crushed velvet.
Animal rights groups claim some furriers are not even willing to wait for the ewes to give birth. They have collected evidence that sheep have their throats cut so the unborn foetuses can be cut from their wombs. These have the softest, most valuable fleeces.

On further investigation, spurred on by equally shocked Twitterer @JamieLawRoberts, I discovered that whether or not the foetal removal process is true, the lambs are usually slaughtered aged just 3 days, in order to “harvest” the softest pelts. This Humane Society article sheds more light on the horrendous process. The most worrying discovery today was the sheer amount of astrakhan used in the fall/winter ’09 collections. Many fashion houses chose to reuse this unusal fur that last courted fashion controversy in 2005….but this year, for some reason, its use hasn’t been so widely reported. I am not a huge animal rights activist, I don’t usually scorn designers for their use of materials but I do draw the line at this. We implore people to be more conscious of their clothing’s origin; programmes are dedicated to exposing sweat-shops and illegal working practices, so how is this not more widely reported? The only one explanation I can consider for its popularity is the misconception that it is simply wool, something it most definitely is not. Prior to today, I could claim ignorance of this issue, laughing at the silly Russian hats; hopefully today you will feel informed of an inhumane practice, that we can hopefully one day prevent.

Talula

Talula

So this is an odd post…it’s more of a plea for information! A fellow blogger, Milly, mentioned Talula last week. The photography instantly caught my eye. Their Autumn/Winter campaign is shot beautifully but I have no other information other than this visual delight. I have managed to glean that Talula is stocked by Aritzia but is it a separate brand, what are the clothes actually like, how’s the quality? Questions abound! So if you are familiar with Talula, work for them, know a contact email, please let me know. I feel hooked like after watching an obscure internet viral and oddly enthralled by the stuffed pheasants!

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