Recent Reads I'd Recommend #4

It's been almost two whole years since I wrote Recent Reads I'd Recommend #3 and I don't really have an excuse as to why because it's not like I stopped reading. With the aid of lockdown I've certainly been reading a lot more recently though and fancied doing a lil' book post again. The following are the best of the best of what I've read recently:

My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
// I powered through this in two days (I do love a book with short chapters) and despite the rather macabre subject the way it was written wasn't too heavy. It's about a woman (Korede) whose sister (Ayoola) keeps killing the men she's dating, in self defense according to her, although Korede has her suspicions. The plot thickens (have always wanted to use that expression to describe a book) when Ayoola starts dating a man Korede is in love with.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo // This was a very cleverly written book, telling the stories of twelve different women whose stories weave in and out of each other's as they're connected in some way or other. It explores topics such as race, sexuality, feminism, gender, wealth along with the intersectionality of those issues. The book ends on a twist, but I would have been hooked regardless. This may just be my favourite read of 2020 so far.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid // This was another book that I absolutely powered through. It's an account of a seventies rock band's rise to fame by the band members themselves, written interview style, which I really enjoyed. I did have to look up whether they were a real band or not more than once because it's written so convincingly (spoiler: they're not although I have read that they're loosely based on Fleetwood Mac). 

The Binding by Bridget Collins // This was a slow burner for me; it's written in three parts and I didn't start properly enjoying it until part two, but once I started enjoying it I really enjoyed it and whizzed through the rest so it's 100% worth sticking with. It's a magical story of forbidden love, betrayal and books that can bind memories people wish to forget, which sounds good on paper (nice unintentional pun there Amy), but there's obviously a lot more to it than that.

If you have any book recommendations please drop them below as I'm always on the lookout! 

Amy x

Slow Fashion Season // No More New Clothes

Let me paint you a picture of two Amys (there's a scary thought).

Amy number one has a whole folder full of clothes shopping apps on her phone, which are scoured daily for sales, new trends and offers, resulting in a fair few full shopping baskets sat waiting for the purchase button to be clicked. It isn't always, (Amy number one wasn't a) completely stupid or b) ridiculously rich), but at least one hefty clothes order a month is made usually without all that much thought aside from 'I want that.'

Amy number two has no shopping apps on her phone (unless you count Just Eat), she researches a brand's ethos before making a (rare) purchase and when she does part with her money it's for something she'll get a lot of wear out of and that will last a long time.

Amy number one only started evolving into Amy number two in the second half of last year. 

And there you have a rather long and pretentious way of me saying I'm getting better at shopping sustainably.

So as someone who has already drastically reduced and rethought her shopping habits, lasting the three months of slow fashion season (June 21st aka today until September 21st), should be easy enough. However the reason I've signed up to take part isn't just to not buy new clothes; I want to work on changing my mindset in order to carry on making more sustainable choices going forward. 

During the three months of slow fashion season you can only:

- Buy second hand, including vintage
- Upcycle clothes
- Take part in clothes swaps
- Buy from small, local and sustainable businesses

Although I've made steps towards reducing my fast fashion consumption I've not really implemented many of the above so over the next three months (hopefully documented on here if I get my bottom into gear) I'm hoping to focus on each one, discovering new vintage shops, local sustainable businesses and ways in which I can upcycle what I already have. 

Please all cross your fingers for me on that last point.

Amy x

An Attempt To Up My Photography At Home

I've always enjoyed taking pictures in my home, but I've never experimented with it all that much until recently, when we've all had no choice but to turn to our homes/gardens/yards for our backdrops. I'm definitely no photographer and I never will be, but I enjoy taking pictures so I thought I'd jot down some of the things I've been doing to try and up my game.

LIGHTING // I've been loving playing around with natural light; seeing as we've been having such gorgeous golden hours at the moment it'd be rude not to wouldn't it? Making use of light and shadows has added a dimension to my photos I've not had before and seems to take what may have been an average shot to something I'm a bit prouder of. When natural light has been lacking I've been making sure to actually use my ring light too, which is a huge help at lifting photos indoors (and is also super useful for sticking things to, but we'll get to that...)

red shoes stood on mirror with foliage in the foreground

ANGLES // There are only really so many places in our house I can take photos so to prevent everything from looking samey I've been trying to get creative with angles. As a result I've sat/laid on the floor, had my tripod balanced precariously on a windowsill, shot through doorways, the list goes on. I've also played around with making the same area look completely different by shooting at it from a different perspective.

PROPS // I haven't exactly been using anything groundbreaking for props; a coffee, a book, a cat, but they definitely help me feel less like a lemon when I'm shooting in my house. As well as stuff I can actually hold, I've been trying to get more creative with what I'm putting in frame; I've been using my ring light to stick flowers/leaves/hoop earrings (yes really) to so as to add a bit of depth to otherwise potentially bland images.

PINTEREST // After the first couple of weeks of taking photos solely at home I started to run out of inspiration, so I took to Pinterest with gusto to find new ideas to try. It's full of fab self-portrait inspiration, coffee shots and flatlays. I try to take the seed of an idea then make it my own (which usually means whacking a house plant somewhere and hoping for the best).

USING MY EQUIPMENT // As I said above, I've been making the effort to actually use my ring light to lift my photos, and I've also been making the effort to use my camera. It was almost in semi-retirement due to both myself and my boyfriend having fairly good phone cameras and us tending to just shoot off the cuff outfit photos out and about, but it really has made a difference to the quality of my photos and fingers crossed it doesn't go into retirement again once we're out of lockdown.

And that's about it really; I'll never be the best at taking photos but I sure enjoy trying.

Amy x

woman laid on sofa reading a book

A Note On Perspective

Life at the moment is, at the very least, bizarre. For everybody, everywhere.

Things we value have been taken away from us; family time, travel plans, shopping trips, nights out with our friends, day trips to different cities. We don't have the freedom that we're used to. 

With all those things taken away, the things we value have shifted. Weekly zoom calls with family and friends, the kindness of strangers, spending quality time doing little more than nothing with the people we live with.

As the things we value are changing, so is our perspective. 

This bizarre life we're living has, if nothing else, cast a sliver of light on what's really, truly important.

People, experiences, moments.

Never again will I take for granted a quick coffee with a friend, a hug from a family member, an evening meander to the local pub with my man.

These simple pleasures currently only exist as memories, and as hopeful glimpses of a future that seems far away. 

And when we get there I'll be cherishing every moment and only hoping that whatever else happens in my life, this change in perspective will stick.

Amy x

Sustainable Fashion // An Update On My Shopping Habits

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post debating whether I could become a sustainable fashion blogger (here). Since writing that post I've certainly become more sustainable in my shopping habits, but there's been a distinct lack of any fashion posts (in part, I suppose, because I've found it difficult to think of fashion content while I haven't really had anything to dress up for).

Whether the sustainable changes I've made are down to a conscious making of them on my part or simply due to the country being in lockdown, I couldn't say. A lack of desire to order anything and pile pressure on the postal and delivery services certainly has something to do with it, as does my love of visiting actual shops as opposed to trawling on the internet. Did I just immediately answer my own question? Possibly. Either way, I wanted to write a little update on the further changes I've made towards becoming fashionably sustainable (I am 100% sure that's not the expression at all, but I quite like it) and how I'm still getting my fashion fix regardless.

SHOPPING MY WARDROBE // Something I love about the changing of the seasons is that my wardrobe automatically feels fresher because I'm able to reintroduce season-specific items that have been unworn for around nine months, which is nearly as good as having something brand new isn't it? I recently went through my wardrobe and had a clear out (I say clear out, I think I got rid of two things, but it counts okay?) and in the process I discovered other items I haven't worn in possibly years. Restyling those in ways I haven't before is keeping me feeling like I have new outfits without actually having to buy anything.

BUYING SECOND HAND // I realise I ended my last sentence by saying 'without actually having to buy anything', but I have bought one thing okay? I often steer clear of cheap second hand clothes unless I'm looking for something specific, as I find I can get a little carried away and end up buying too much (which is defeating the object of it being sustainable really isn't it?) but I've started making a conscious effort to give second hand another chance while enforcing certain rules upon myself (i.e. would I buy it full price?). I recently bought the above Adidas top from @outgrownstore on Instagram, which is a fab lil Instagram shop selling second hand clothes.

UPCYCLING MY CLOTHES // Okay, so I will admit that no upcycling has actually occured yet, but I've put aside a few items from my wardrobe that I'm going to attempt to do something with (although as a girl with no sewing machine or sewing skills past fixing buttons we'll see how I fare with this one). I've seen so many people create almost completely different items using something they already have and it's something I'm itching to try and a pretty good lockdown project I'd say!

RESEARCHING SUSTAINABLE BRANDS // It's a bit of a minefield when you start researching brands, as well as making choices yourself about what you're happy with, so I'm taking my time with this part. I've also looked at how brands care for their staff as well as their clothes, particularly in the current climate. Luckily for me, my all time favourite brand Monki use sustainably sourced or recycled materials which I was proper bloody chuffed to find out quite frankly. They're also pretty affordable, especially when they have a sale, which I find is rare for a sustainable brand. Personally, I'm not completely anti-non-sustainable brands as long as I'm buying something with longevity such as shoes or a coat.

SLOW FASHION SEASON // This year I've decided to take part in slow fashion season, details of which can be found here. In short, for three months starting on June 21st, you commit to only buying second hand, vintage, or from local sustainable labels. You can also take part in clothes swaps and can upcycle your clothes, so seeing as that's pretty much everything I've just spoken about I thought I may as well sign up!

Do you try and shop sustainably? 

Amy x