Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Despite The Forecast, Live Like It's Spring

This is a staff announcement. Could SPRING please contact the customer service desk, entire British public waiting. That's SPRING to the customer service desk, nation waiting. Thank you.

Oh spring, where are you hiding? After being given the slightest glimpse of warmer weather last week I was stood by and ready to pack away the jumpers and let my spring wardrobe make an appearance at last but, as we've become accustomed to in Britain, the hope was stolen away from us as cold temperatures, wind and even more snow descended on us once again at the weekend. It's a no from me. I found the quote for the title of this post last week (I believe it was said by Lily Pullitzer) and there isn't a more apt quote for the British weather right now is there? So I just thought screw it, I'm wearing my spring wardrobe anyway because I'm bored of styling jumpers and coats and I want to write about the kind of style I'm here for this spring.

I always struggle to name my favourite season whenever I'm asked because I actually quite like them all, but I've come to realise in the past few weeks that my favourite season is spring. Glimpses of snowdrops, those first few rays of sun that actually feel warm on my face and that smell of fresh spring air fill me with a feeling of excited anticipation that I don't feel for any other season. Spring makes me feel simultaneously excited and calm as well as just generally content and after months of dressing in jumpers I'm ready to change up my style. So when the lovely people at Joanie Clothing offered to send me a couple of things I jumped at the chance to snap up some gorgeous spring dresses because that my friends, is the kind of style I'm here for this spring.

I don't dislike winter style, but I do get bored of it. I'll start off by making an effort to layer nicely and try to nail 'cosy chic', but there are only so many jumpers you can wear before you never want to see another one in your life and only so many times you can go out in a dress and tights before you realise that, actually, you're going to have to live in jeans for the rest of the season because you just need warmth. My style in general is definitely more on the casual side these days, possibly because I've gotten a little lazy with it or possibly because, as previously hinted, I just got so grumpy with winter that I stopped making an effort. Because of this it's been a long time since I've worn something I've felt pretty in. Don't get me wrong, I've worn outfits that I've absolutely loved, but there's something about donning a pretty floral dress that just makes me feel happy and that's how I want my spring style to make me feel. To me, spring is about positivity, brightness and hope and I want the way I dress to reflect that.

Enter the floral 'Barb' dress from Joanie, which had me frolicking about in the woods with some actual real sunshine to keep me warm (ish). This dress is exactly the kind of thing I want to wear more of this spring - things that are pretty, light and suitable for work while still having something of an edge to them. In this case I think the colours are really unique and give off a vintage vibe which I adore. I'm looking forward to being able to wear this with sandals (possibly even heeled ones for a little pizazz), but equally I love it with these boots which, although essential for the mud, dress the outfit down a little making it something you actually can comfortably wear in the woods without feeling out of place (except when it's actually still only two degrees and the well wrapped up dog walkers are giving you odd looks).

Here's to hoping that Mother Nature reads my blog and realises she forgot to give us spring...

Dress* - Joanie Clothing (here| Boots - Topshop (old) | Bag - Fiorelli (here)

Are you excited for spring?

Amy x

* denotes a gifted item

Photos: Heather Snell


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Interiors | Putting Together Botanical Displays

This post is sponsored by Amara.

One glance at my blog or Instagram grid and it's pretty obvious that I am all about botanicals when it comes to styling my home. There's a lot of green and house plants or dried flowers grace every available surface so the new Greenhouse range from A By Amara is me down to a capital T. Conjure up all the words you'd associate with a greenhouse - fresh, calming, elegant - and that's exactly what this range is all about and, coincidentally, exactly how I want my house to feel. Because our house renovation has been such a huge project, a lot of focus has gone into the decoration so far, but it finally feels like we're at the stage where we can properly consider finishing touches and what better time to refresh your home than spring? (Or almost spring anyway, buck up your ideas please British weather).

I'm super excited to announce that I've been given my own Home Inspiration page on the Amara website where you can see heaps more photos of my home and how I've styled the Greenhouse range so I'd love it if you checked that out here and let me know if it gives you some inspo! You can also have a nosy at how some other bloggers have styled the range in their homes too.

I had so much fun shooting these images and it really made me think outside of the box in terms of styling and how to create gorgeous botanical displays that really do the products justice rather than just plonking things in an available space. There's nothing like moving a plant a centimetre at a time or adding some gypsophila to a toothbrush holder to make the composition of a photo better to really make you think about how you could make things look better in your home every day. If we think about how to make our space look best for the sake of an Instagram photo, why would we not apply this mindset to how it looks usually? So I'm going to take you through how I styled the new range and talk about what I learnt about putting botanical displays together along the way. 

B A T H R O O M 

What I discovered when taking the bathroom pictures is that I like a pop of greenery pretty much everywhere and I like it to impose on the rest of the space. I don't necessarily want big gaps between everything - I want plants overlapping everyday necessities like my hand towel, I want plants hanging down above my soap and I want gypsophila everywhere, even in my toothbrush holder. I also learnt that what I'll call 'purposeful clutter' can actually look pretty good - the shower products lined up on the bath side for example, which look aesthetically pleasing simply because they're 'arranged' rather than haphazard. In essence, things don't have to be neat to look good - I suppose this is the equivalent of your hair looking purposefully 'effortless'.

White marble toothbrush holder (here) | White marble soap dish (here) | White marble soap dispenser* (here) | Cap d'ail hand towel* (here) | Marwood vase (here) - all A By Amara


Styling for my bedroom showed me how versatile certain items can be - I absolutely adored the marble toothbrush holder and soap dish in the bathroom so why can't I use them in my bedroom and just turn them into something different? Here I used the toothbrush holder as a little vase and the soap dish as a candle holder. Displaying things over two levels made the room instantly look better too because it just adds a little something and again makes everything look a little more purposeful rather than displaying it all on the one shelf. I also didn't originally include the pink cushion in this set up because I thought it didn't go, but adding it in showed me how a pop of a different colour can really add a bit of interest into a room without being too much.

San Sebastian pillowcases* (here| San Sebastian duvet cover* (here) | Trerice Leaves cushion* (here) | Killerton cushion* (here) | Marwood vase (here) | Marwood candle holder* (here) White marble toothbrush holder (hereWhite marble soap dish (here) - all A By Amara

K I T C H E N 

I brought the marble bathroom accessories downstairs to style in the kitchen too (do you think I maybe quite like them?!) so just because something is in the bathroom section doesn't necessarily mean it has to stay in your bathroom! My favourite display I put together was the one on this shelf in the kitchen - I think the mix of decorative elements like the vases with practical things like the bowls and cups made it stand out for me. Don't be afraid to display things together that might not always be there...even when the cups and bowls are in use the display will still hold its own and at the same time you've got easy to grab utensils when you need them.

White marble toothbrush holder (hereWhite marble soap dish (hereWhite marble soap dispenser* (here) Marwood vase (here) | Marwood candle holder* (here) - all A By Amara 
Marble bowls* (here) | Marble cups* (here) - all Amara

L I V I N G  R O O M

There is no such thing as too many plants and taking these shots in our living room that's waiting to be furnished made me realise that I'm going to want a LOT of plants in there (sorry Nick). The green goes so well with the vase and candle holder so I think the living room will be their permanent home, they also add a nice juxtaposition to a plant display. We're planning on adding shelves into the pictured alcove where I suppose normal people would display books and DVDs, but where I will display plants and candle holders! 

White marble toothbrush holder (here| Marwood vase (here) | Marwood candle holder* (here) Trerice Leaves cushion* (hereKillerton cushion* (here)

How do you decide how to style things in your home?

Amy x

*denotes a gifted product

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

My Emetophobia Story

Trigger warning: emetophobia.

This post has been sat empty in my drafts for months. Since watching Katie Snooks' video about her emetophobia (here) and finding it both extremely interesting and helpful I thought 'I'm going to write a post about my experience' and then here I am four months later finally writing it...

I have written a post about emetophobia before (here) but I always felt like it was a little vague and also it's now quite out of date. I suppose it's a very specialist thing to write about and something that I assume people wouldn't want to read, as well as not really being a very nice topic to talk about, but I really wanted to write it because I feel like it'll help me get straight in my mind where I am with it and you never know, maybe it might help someone else who can relate. I imagine this will possibly be the longest post I've ever written too so you probably want to make yourself a brew...

So, just in case you don't know, emetophobia is a fear of vomit. Some people are afraid of being sick themselves, some are afraid of other people being sick and an unlucky few of us are afraid of both. As with any phobia, absolutely everything about it varies from person to person in terms of triggers, coping mechanisms and level of fear. It's also something a lot of people don't realise they have because nobody likes sick do they? For years I just knew I hated it more than other people and thought I was possibly being a little pathetic until I read about emetophobia and realised I had it. As with most phobias it doesn't just come out of nowhere and it's usually caused by some sort of bad experience. 

So let's start from the beginning and talk about where my phobia came from. For years I didn't really know, but I spoke to my mum about it and I think she hit the nail on the head. When my sister was younger she was very ill and often in and out of hospital. There was a particularly bad summer when she was two and I was seven. She was kept in hospital for a month and fed through a tube, but for some reason she was being fed more than she could tolerate so every day she would projectile vomit the last feed, bringing the tube up with it. That in itself was horrible to see, but my mum pointed out that because I was only seven I wouldn't have really understood everything that was going on around her being poorly so all I knew was that everyone was very worried and the only thing I could really relate it to was the physical vomiting. So from then on, in my mind, vomit has always been linked with intense worry. 

As I hinted at before, I'm scared of both other people being sick and of being sick myself. This brings me onto triggers and coping mechanisms. Things that can trigger me to panic include other people being sick (even if I'm not present), people saying they feel sick, very drunk people or feeling sick myself, among others. When any of these things happen I get all the usual symptoms of fear - my heart beats insanely fast, my stomach twists and I have an overwhelming claustrophobic feeling of needing to get away. To deal with other people, my main coping mechanism is avoidance, which is usually fairly easy. The situations I find difficult are ones where I'm unable to get away. I don't like flying, not because the plane bothers me, but because I'm worried that someone will be ill and I won't be able to get away from it. If Nick is ill I'll sleep in another room and won't use the toilet until it's been thoroughly cleaned. When I was younger I wouldn't even step on areas of the playground where I knew someone had been sick months ago. I haven't been sick myself for nearly twenty years, which I used to brag about, but now I'd really rather just get it over and done with and be sick again if I'm honest. I used to have a little ritual when I felt sick, which was to brush my teeth, tie my hair back and lie on my back in bed with lots of pillows, quite often with something like a bucket or bin beside the bed. It became a weird ritual in that if I didn't have the bin there ready or if I missed out another part of this 'ritual' I'd think that would mean I would be sick, which I suppose was only supported by the fact that I never was. As it happens, I've discovered that my mind really does have control over my body as I now physically cannot be sick. There have been a couple of situations where I've stood retching over the toilet, but nothing will come even though I've definitely had a bug and it's literally because my mind just won't let me. If I'd known this years ago I would have found it comforting, but now I just find it annoying.

The main way it has affected my life is by holding me back from doing certain things for fear of coming into contact with it. Luckily, I think a lot of those things (nights out for example) aren't really for me anyway. And again I'm lucky that I've ended up doing a job that I love when my prospects were limited just by eliminating any job that might involve vomit (it eliminates more than you think!). I also just get generally a bit more anxious about things like flying, coach journeys (which I actually avoid like the plague if I can help it) and being in crowds. When I am in those situations I become quite paranoid, constantly looking out for any signs that someone might be feeling ill and on edge every time someone so much as coughs. One thing that Katie mentioned in her video, which I've never really spoken about before because it seems so odd, is how I put myself in someone else's shoes who might be feeling ill. So if I'm with someone who says they're feeling travel sick I'll immediately start feeling travel sick myself and it'll help me gauge how bad it is for them - the worse it feels for me the more paranoid I become that they'll actually be sick. 

I've never had any sort of therapy for my phobia. I've considered looking into it a few times, but never done anything about it. I've read that exposure therapy works very well, but it's a hard thing to put yourself in that situation when it's your worst nightmare! Nick suggested that I just do the exposure therapy myself by forcing myself into situations that I wouldn't usually. I imagine it's a much slower process than actually going for therapy, but that's what I'm trying to do. I think the fact that I now really want to get over it helps, whereas before I would happily just hide away from it. So the last time Nick was sick, I made myself listen rather than covering my ears and I stayed sleeping in the same bed. If someone is sick on TV or in a film, I make myself watch instead of turning away.

So where am I now? Well, I think I'm a little better. I'm definitely better at thinking rationally about it. Because of that, my phobia seems to have got more specific to germs. Drunk sick no longer bothers me (not that I like it, but I'm not afraid of it). In the back of my mind, I know that the worst that can happen is that someone is sick and I get ill and am sick myself, which can only be a good thing in the long run in helping me get over my phobia, although that's not what goes through my head at the time. The cats are also sick a fair bit, which made me feel a bit funny the first few times (although I dealt with it fine), but now doesn't bother me in the slightest, which gives me hope for being able to look after any potential children. I know that getting pregnant and having children is always a worry for someone with emetophobia. I've never been that worried about being pregnant because I've always assumed that I wouldn't get morning sickness as my mum never did (it probably doesn't work that way, but that's how I thought of it), but I have worried slightly about how I would care for any potential children if they were sick and, more importantly, about passing my phobia onto them. Luckily, I'm very calm on the surface in any situation even if my stress levels are insanely high and in a way I now welcome the challenge of looking after sick children to help me get over my phobia so that's not something I really worry about anymore. 

So there wasn't really a point to this post apart from to share my experience of emetophobia and to tentatively say that I think there is light at the end of the tunnel so if you're in the worst throes of it at the moment, I promise it can get better. I can't share anything revolutionary about getting over my phobia because I'm definitely not over it, I just want to be and it's amazing how much difference that makes. 

Amy x

Sunday, 11 March 2018

What I Say vs What I Really Mean

I seem to have been enjoying writing lighthearted posts recently where I get to poke a bit of fun at myself - first this one where I admitted some of the stupid things I've done for Instagram and then this one about why I can't call myself a fashion blogger. I actually sat down today (it's Saturday so for me it's a little late to be writing Sunday's post completely from scratch but what's blogging without a little bit of stress eh?) intending to write a quite deep and meaningful post and I just really wasn't feeling it. Then this post popped into my head. I was having a conversation with someone the other day about how, as Brits, we are a little bit too polite and often say things we don't really mean just because we think we should. So I thought I'd apply that to some of the things I say when I really mean something else (is this the most nonsensical intro I've ever done? Possibly) and sum them up right here...

What I say: Yeah I might come for a few drinks.
What I mean: I really really don't want to come for a few drinks, but somehow I don't think 'I'd rather just go home and chill out with my cats' is a valid excuse so until I think of a better one, it's a maybe.

What I say: I had quite a chilled weekend really.
What I mean: I ran around like an athlete trying to get all my house jobs done, cleaned up various bodily fluids after my cats and stood outside without a coat for half an hour and forced my boyfriend to take photos of me then had a mini meltdown when I didn't like any of them, but for the sake of not sounding like I'm an absolute weirdo I'll just pretend I didn't really do anything.

What I say: I don't mind. 
What I mean: I definitely do mind and have an opinion on this, but I daren't actually tell you what it is in case you disagree and hate me forever so I'll just go along with whatever everyone else wants to do and then silently seethe when I don't get my own way (that I haven't even voiced).

What I say: I like my own space.
What I mean: Don't ask me to socialise for too long, definitely don't ask me on a night out. Basically, we'll be excellent friends if you just leave me alone.

What I say: I'm not a fussy eater, I'll eat anything really.
What I mean: I don't eat sugar and I'm vegan most of the time, but I don't want to appear awkward so I'll pretend I'm easy, then have to order just chips and explain myself when you question why.

What I say: Of course I'll swap shifts with you.
What I mean: I'll swap shifts with you, but I'm not very happy about it. I'll remember this and hold it against you until you've repaid me with an equal shift swap.

What I say: I mean, I am quite busy at the moment.
What I mean: If you ask me to do one more thing I might just curl up in a ball and cry because I have so much to do.

What I say: I'd rather not, but if you really need me to...
What I mean: No.

Do you have any examples of what you really mean when you say something completely different?

Amy x


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Recent Reads I'd Recommend #2

I'm trying to leave the attitude of 'I'm too busy to read' behind me and spend more time reading instead of scrolling on my phone, which funnily enough I do seem to able to find time for. I'm still not reading as much as I'd like, but I'm at least reading more so that's a start. So without further ado, here are three books I've read recently that I think you should too: (and if you want even more recs see my first recent reads post here)

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | If I'm honest, I picked this up because I liked the cover. That's also how I choose wine (not quite sure why that's relevant, but I guess I'm just admitting that I will just choose things because they're pretty - shallow much?). When I read the blurb I kind of expected it to be a bit of a wet young adult book, but I found myself getting really into it. Although I think it is technically a young adult book, it's quite dark and explores some really important issues surrounding mental health and grief. It follows the unlikely friendship between a teenage boy and girl who meet when they both find themselves at the top of the school bell tower ready to jump. I can't talk about it too much because I'll give away the ending, but I got so emotionally involved and the ending wasn't at all what I expected. It was excellent and also the kind of book that leaves you feeling rather emotionally drained (but that's just a sign of a good book really isn't it?) This book was made into a film so that's definitely on my watch list now!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson | My friend had been telling me I should read this for ages and she actually bought me this for my birthday (to force me to I suppose) and I'm extremely glad she did. The start was a little slow for me, but once I got into it I couldn't put it down. It's a difficult one to describe, but I suppose it's about the infinite number of possibilities in life, how one small decision could change the whole course of it and how easily it could accidentally slip away. The main character, Ursula, dies at various ages, only for the story to begin again, changing slightly to tell how she is saved from that fate instead. As the book continues Ursula can sometimes sense when a bad situation may be about to happen and she does things others label as crazy to try and avoid it - she doesn't even know why, she just knows that she must. We're told not just one story, but the different variations of how Ursula's life could have turned out based on her decisions. It's an incredibly interesting read that I'd recommend if you like a book that makes you ask a million questions.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult | If you only read one of these three, make it this one. It's loosely based on real events and tells the story of a delivery nurse who is accused of murder after a baby boy dies on her watch, complicated by the fact that the parents had requested for her to have no contact with him because she's black. I love it when a book educates me and teaches me more about myself and this one taught me that I'm actually pretty ignorant to the kinds of unintentional everyday racism and stereotyping that happen all the time and that I'm probably unknowingly guilty of myself. I even found the author's note super interesting and I'm pretty impressed that a white author would take on the challenge of writing a book about racism, but I think she did it brilliantly. The book certainly opened my eyes to the fact that I take it completely for granted that I am privileged and made me realise that not being racist isn't enough, we should all be actively doing more and become more comfortable with talking about racism. I feel like I can't even do this book justice by trying to write about it so you should just read it!

What have you read recently? Throw me some recommendations!

Amy x

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Why I Can't Call Myself A Fashion Blogger

I've always preferred the label 'style blogger' over 'fashion blogger'. I'm not an expert in fashion, I don't wear any designer labels and I don't feel like I have the authority to advise anyone on how to wear something - all I can do is show what I like wearing and how I'd wear it and that's what I've always done. I'm also not necessarily the most fashionable person, I just wear what I like - I'm a big advocate of personal style and the whole 'you do you' thing so I accept that some people will like what I wear and others won't. To me, a fashion blogger is someone like Victoria from In The Frow who can bring real knowledge to the table (I mean she has an actual PHD in fashion), but me? I just buy clothes I like from Asos and Primark and then tell you lovely lot about them. 

My love of personal style is the main reason I have never classed myself as a fashion blogger, but when I first thought about this post and looked through these pictures I realised there are plenty of other (slightly silly) reasons too so I thought seeing as I usually get all heavy on you, I'd make this post a little lighthearted and tell you why I not only don't, but can't call myself a fashion blogger.

I take outfit photos with makeup running down my face | On the day these pictures were shot it was very cold and also very windy. My hands, feet and the end of my nose went numb. My eyes watered like billio, which meant that when it came to looking back on these photos I had to edit out some rather hefty black smears I had running down my face. I mean, I love a dramatic outfit shot, but looking like I've just been bawling my eyes out dramatic isn't quite the vibe I was going for. Most of the black streaks are gone from these pictures, but look closely at my eyes and it looks like I have a bad case of hayfever. Realisation: so this is why fashion bloggers always wear sunglasses.

I always forget to accessorise | It's not that I don't own jewellery, it's just the one thing I always forget before I leave the house. Then there's the fact that I use the same bag in pretty much every outfit post because it's the one I use every day and has all my stuff in so it's just convenient (and a v true reflection of what I actually wear I suppose). The same can be said for the earrings, if I'm not wearing studs I'm usually wearing these so I do apologise if you came here for accessories inspo, you ain't getting it. 

I can't pose | Seriously, any pictures where it looks like I'm doing a real badass blogger pose, it's just the actual face I was pulling at that moment and the camera has just happened to catch it. I shot these pictures with the gorgeous Violet and I also shot some of her and man she is an absolute QUEEN when it comes to posing, like she seriously rocks it. (*secretly hopes she will read this and give me a posting masterclass*). 

I don't always wear 'fashionable' outfits | I like to make an effort when I'm going to work or out for the day, but if I'm in the house at the weekend and all I'm doing is popping to the supermarket? I literally don't even think about what goes together, I just grab the comfiest clothes in my wardrobe, pop on some trainers and scrape my hair back and I'm good to go (and I definitely don't look anything like this). 

Sometimes I'm covered in cat hair and I have pulls in all my jumpers | Seriously, having cats means I can't be a fashion blogger. Every time I buy a new jumper Nick says 'oh excellent, another thing for the cats to rip apart'. The nicer ones I try and change in to literally moments before leaving the house, but just stroking them goodbye can result in a pulled thread. And however much you lint roller yourself, you can never get rid of all the hair *remembers the awkward moment I crossed my legs in a work meeting and noticed the ginger hairs stuck to my black tights* #professional. 

Cardigan - Monki (here) | Leggings - New Look (old) | Top - Asos (here) | Shoes - Truffle Collection via Asos (here) | Bag - Fiorelli (similar

And that about sums it up. I kind of meant to keep this post a little more serious and talk about personal style, but I started writing and went with it so hey ho. 

Do you prefer the term fashion or style blogger?

Amy x

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