Looking Forward

wp-1451654816326.jpgI don’t really like to give myself New Year’s Resolutions, the timing feels a bit arbitrary and often people are too optimistic. What I always do though, is try to watch 100 films that I’ve never seen before each year. I’m usually good at this, but for some reason I forgot to make a note of what I’d seen in 2015, so I don’t know whether or not I reached my target. I’ll be keeping a record for 2016, though.

This year, instead of making promises to myself that I could never keep, I want to look at the things I’m improving on, and make an effort to keep on in the right direction. For me those things are:

1. Money. 2015 was an expensive year for multiple (sometimes unavoidable) reasons, and I spent far too long on the brink of my overdraft limit. I’ve decided to keep a record of what I’m spending, so I can better budget my life, and start putting money aside in my savings account again, which unfortunately I had to empty last year.

2. Exercise. I actually do a fair amount of walking in my day-to-day life, but I took up running a couple of months ago. It’s refreshing to do some cardio from time to time, and I’m mostly concerned with fixing my tight calf muscles, especially in winter when most of the time I’m wearing heeled boots. I want to get to a place where my legs don’t ache after a jog, and it becomes a regular part of my routine.

3. Studies. I want to make a more dedicated effort to my education. Not that I wasn’t trying before, but I had far more 4am library sessions than anyone should be doing, and I want to stay on top of my workload, which last year felt a bit like spinning plates. My action plan here is basically just to be more organised, and maybe stay on campus rather than going straight home after a lecture. That way, I don’t have to make a long journey to the library from home if there’s anything I need.

4. Personal life. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be in a relationship until I move back to Florence permanently, so I’m not making any resolutions in that department, plus, it’ll give me more time to focus on my degree, which I’m enjoying a lot right now. I would, however, like to make more of an effort to maintain the friendships with the people I value, because it’s such a shame when you drift from the people you love.

That’s it, really. Nothing radical, no great, sweeping changes, no Eat, Pray, Love. I think that making small steps towards the vision I have of what I’d like to be. It’s better this way.

Have you set yourself any goals this year? Did you achieve what you wanted to last year?

– Niko

Looking back

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Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet

It’s been a while. Like I mentioned before, I’ve been working through December, and I thought I was busy during term time! I didn’t want to spam everyone with wishlists and gift guide nonsense because really I’d like this blog to have a bit of integrity and I’m feeling a bit disillusioned with buying and buying. Retail does that to you. What better time to start writing again, then, than New Year’s Eve? I’ll be spending tonight revising and drinking Babycham, plus I’m a little bit upset because I ordered like £20 worth of sushi and my order was cancelled because the restaurant decided not to be open, ugh.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a little post summing up some things I’ve been thinking about recently.

1. Patience. I’m going to sound like a middle-aged Facebook drama queen, but I’m learning that I really don’t need to waste my time on people who don’t dring any value to my life. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life being very patient, assuming the best of people to then be let down, and letting them take advantage of me, and now I don’t really have the time for it. Perhaps it’s Marie Kondo’s influence, but if someone doesn’t spark joy, I have to discard the, so to speak. It sounds harsh, I know, but I meet so many people that it makes no sense for me to be wasting energy on the ones that don’t enrich my life in any way.

2. Myself. I feel as though I’ve really been able to learn a lot about myself this year, about how I cope under pressure or in new environments, and what I genuinely value in life. I feel much more empowered than I did last year and I definitely give far fewer shits about things that don’t matter. Going forth, I’m going to continue to challenge and push myself to achieve to the best of my ability, and squeeze everything out of every oppotunity that I’m faced with.

3. Dreams. Continuing from that last point, I have a much clearer idea in my mind of where I want to be in five years, and what I need to do to get there. When I look back, I’m quite proud of what I’ve done to get to where I am at the moment, and even though not everything went to plan, I’m happy here and in the direction I’m going.

4. Instagram. Humblebragging here, and the shortest bullet of all, but my Instagram has got a pretty strong theme going on right now which I’m pretty proud of. So glad I went back to using my favourite filter.

Those are the key points for me, really. I don’t want to give too much away right now because I also want to write a post about resolutions to be published on New Year’s Day.

Have you made any great realisations this year? Self discoveries?

Happy New Year!

– Niko

BULLET JOURNAL: end of year review

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One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to keep and maintain a bullet journal, and now that we’re approaching another new year, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on how I’ve done with it.

When I saw the video explaining how it works, it seemed like a good was to keep myself organised, however it does require dedication and regular attention.

Pros: I think it’s good write things down by hand as I remember them better this way, I like the minimalist style, and it’s handy to have around when my phone runs out of charge, which happens a lot when I’m travelling.

Cons: If I neglected to update it, I would be a bit lost, especially when I was stressed and/or busy, I have to actively check back on it to know what I had planned for the day, and sometimes I would forget to take it with me, or it was otherwise inconvenient to carry around.

Going forward, I think I will still be using the bullet journal for my monthly overviews, so at least I have a paper copy of my calendar- I do like having some kind of analogue way to keep track of things- but I will be going back to trusty old Google calendar for stuff like work and study schedules, where I can arrange email and phone reminders, and change appointments and plans with a couple of clicks (so much neater when I don’t have to cross things out!) I also really liked using the Rhodia webnotebook that I’d chosen for my journal – it’s a 5mm dot grid which is perfect for taking notes, and drawing graphs and tables. The paper’s a good quality and the durable cover keeps it in a decent state despite all the battering it’s endured over the course of a year. I’ve already repurchased it so I’m prepared when I reach the end of my current one, Lord forbid I should return to 1cm lined paper for a few days…

I definitely think that the bullet journal has its place in my life, but until someone invents a book that shouts reminders at me an hour before I need to leave the house, I’m going to need a bit of technological help. I’m still a fan of hand-written to-do lists though, so that’s going to stay constant.

Has the bullet journal worked for you? Did you keep at it? Let me know in the comments

– Niko

ALL THAT GLITTERS: 2015 holiday beauty

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It’s December, it’s finally acceptable to have tinsel EVERYWHERE, and all the beauty brands have their holiday collections out by now. Being achingly far from my next student loan installment and having a huge list of gifts that I need to be buying other people before myself, I’ll be waiting for the January sales before there’s a possibility of picking up a few treats, but I’ve compiled a list of my top holiday beauty picks if you were looking for gift inspiration, or simply planning to indulge yourself!

1. Tom Ford Lash Tips Mascara in Burnished gold, £35 /// Gold mascara. GOLD. MASCARA. Technically it’s just for the ends of your lashes but the possibilities are endless with this one – gold lower lashes, a bright streak on the outer edges, total lash gilding? This has you covered.

2. Ladurée Les Merveilleuses Pressed Cheek Colour /// Okay, I couldn’t find a price, this techically isn’t from a holiday collection, and I suspect it’s only available instore in Japan, but would this not make the perfect Secret Santa present? The whole line looks like it came straight from Marie Antoinette’s vanity table, and there’s a whole twenty shades to choose from! I’m not sure what I’d do with the yellow one, but I’d love no.10 or 11 in my collection.

3. Charlotte Tilbury Mini Lipstick Charms, £29 /// Three mini lipsticks in wearable shades, all in Charlotte Tilbury’s gorgeous signature Art Deco-inspired packaging. I’d be thrilled to wake up to these on Christmas morning.

4. Dior Diorific State of Gold nail polish, £20.50 /// I’m sure you could maybe probably definitely get a very similar polish at the fraction of the price, but the orb-shaped bottle would make a lovely gift and a very pretty addition to any vanity table. Glitter nail polish is an absolute must for December.

5. Chanel Long Wear Cream Eye Shadow in Rouge Noir, £25 /// For this season, Chanel has based its holiday collection around its iconic Rouge Noir, and the Eye shadow looks abolutey divine. I sampled a few of the other products instore and really liked the rouge noir eye pencil, and am seriously considering the gold eye crayon. The mascara from this collection has sold out on Boots online, so I’d suggest acting fast for one of these limited edition pieces!

What’s on your Christmas list?

– Niko

SUNDAY LINKS 29/11/2015

wp-1448835429918.jpgAnother busy week, so little posting! I’m really enjoying my new job, and am generally feeling a bit more organised and prepared. Here are some links…

– Charlotte Tilbury opened a new boutique in London and it looks uk-mazing. And that dress!

– Why does a full stop totally change the tone of a sentence these days?

– Chriselle looks fantastic (as per) in black and navy. That’s totally my colour palette for winter so I can totally co-sign this aesthetic.

– Kate la Vie goes on an enviable trip to Paris with Elie Saab. Beautiful pictures ahoy!

A beautiful golden tree.

This was my favourite look on The Satorialist this week. I bought myself a vintage black velvet midi dress and am completely on board with anything vaguely witchy-looking right now.

A tiny cute earring.

– A romantic article on Unfettered Yorkshire. Sigh…

-Niko

ABOUT ERASMUS, or, why i haven’t graduated yet

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If you know me in real life, you’re probably aware that I spent the last year or so in Italy. If you know me in real life but we don’t talk ever, you might be wondering why I didn’t graduate university last year, with everyone else my age.Firstly, I went to two colleges; I did a BTec and then decided that I also wanted A-levels, so that was two years I happily delayed for the sake of getting onto an academic course (History of Art), but even then I should be graduating this year. I’m actually doing my second year of university again.

Because, let me tell you a thing, I did a year-long Erasmus placement at the University of Florence, and, much as I love the city, I did achieve very much, academically speaking.

The Italian University system is far different from that in the UK; lecture halls are packed and noisy, exams are oral, and the relationship between lecturer and student is much less like that of colleages, but like a secondary school teacher and teenager. I found this behaviour totally unprofessional, and it made me less keen to seek help when needed, as it was almost impossible for certain staff members to hide their distain for students. God forbid they should be required to do what they’re paid for…

The teaching style is different, too. There is heavy emphasis placed on memorising facts and dates, with very little room for personal interpretation or analysis. I’d go as far to agree that a lot of British students do have massive gaps in their general knowledge, but to go through a three year degree without developing critical skills just seems a waste of time to me. Students are allowed to resit exams as often as they want until they pass, provided that this is within twelve months of the original teaching, and many will fail several times. This is partly to do with the oral exam system, where the lecturer will simply call an end to the exam if a student struggles to answer the questions (in a written exam, you would just be able to return to the question later), and the fact that so many resits are permitted suggests that the university doesn’t even expect many Italian students to pass on the first go. Coming from a system where a resit is very rare, and only under extremely special circumstances, this is completely alien to me, as one would expect the teaching to be sufficient to equip the student to pass on the first try.

There’s also a lot of waiting around because of this oral system. An indefinite number of students can take a written exam at once, whereas obviously only one student can be questioned at a time. This meant that the exam I had signed up for on a Monday, I ended up sitting on Wednesday afternoon. Obviously at this point, the lecturer was sick of examining students, and decided to take it out on me by being what I can only describe as the rudest little twat I’ve ever encountered in my life. If it weren’t for that fact that I needed to stay sweet and negotiate a passing grade from him, he’d have had a verbal slap in the face after his first snarky comment.

I think the main problem was that my university had too much confidence in us, and expected us to attain a whole year’s worth of credits, just as we would in the UK. This is quite unusual for an Erasmus placement, as most sending institutions only require a certain amount of credits, then an assignment set from home to make up for the rest. This would have been better as it would have massively reduced the pressure I was under, and being pushed to do more self-directeed research would have made up for what I wasn’t getting in class.

When people ask me about it, I always tell them that they’re better off finishing their degree, and doing a gap year once they’ve graduated, completely circumventing the crappy university system. I’m glad I went to Florence, and have plans to move back ASAP, I only wish that I’d come out of it without having to appeal to my home university to continue my degree!

Has anyone else been on an Erasmus placement? How was it? Google, and the people I’ve spoken to tell me that they’ve had very similar experiences.

SUNDAY LINKS /// 22/11/15

wpid-wp-1448232676350.jpgHello and welcome to the newly-rebranded Sunday Links (I just don’t like the word ’roundup’). The wind is icy cold and I’m seeing more and more trees popping up – Christmas is just around the corner. Also I have a job so that’s good. That’s why I’m so busy. Anyway, here are some links!

– Posh, Broke & Bored shares her Seoul beauty haul. I need to get myself t0 SK, pronto!

– This Brooklyn bar menu generator is spot on for just about every trendy.

– Speaking of food, how about these three back-pocket sauces to jazz up plain ol’ chicken breasts? I have no more excuses for avoiding the bag of them in my freezer.

Life after getting laid off. The author has a great perspective on things, which a lot of u could really do with!

– The Atlantic on the increasing intolerance of student activists. Especially relevant in light of recent events at my own university (York).

– The most incredible display of paint pigments in Japan.

– Designers have people employed to look at archives. I am a very rummagey person and I would very much like to sign up for this task.

This photo from Scott Schuman is pulling on my heartstrings! He looks so relaxed, lazing at a Milanese bistro with his Aperol Spritz, while I’m here, freezing my fingers off in York. More Italian-themed mournings due on this blog soon, I promise.

– And also these pastries look amazing! I think when I have a free day and a lot of patience I will make an attempt at them.

I watched La Grande Bellezza this week and it fueled my longing for Italy.

– Niko

COCOA BLEND: zoeva’s dream palette

wpid-wp-1447957034012.jpgSince Zoeva’s Cocoa Blend palette was released this summer it’s been at the top of my wishlist (you might recognisse it from this wishlist), but I was a bit hesitant to pay the international shipping fees. Keeping my beady eye out, I finally snapped one up on Beauty Bay before it sold out again, taking advantage of their free and speedy tracked delivery.

And the wait was SO WORTH IT. For a ridiculously affordable price, you get ten beautiful eyeshadow colours that can take you from daily wear, to intense evening looks. The palette, themed around a box of chocolates as the names suggests, leans very much towards warm shades, and is a welcome change to the cool tones that are currently dominating my eye collection.

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The shadows themselves are super soft and easily to blend, and are packed with pigment so you can create looks as intense as you like. They’re interestingly multi-dimensional and you don’t really get to appreciate this until you apply them to the skin. Pure Ganache (bottom row, far left), for example, looks like a warm gold in the pan, but on the skin reveals a burnt reddish undertone. I was also really excited for Substitute For Love (bottom row, second left), an orangey matte that works well on its own, or as a base for a smokey eye combined with Beans are White (top row, far right) and with Delicate Acidity (bottom row, far right) as a ‘pop’ shade on the centre of the eyelid.

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In natural daylight

The packaging is gorgeous, and the chocolate box theme is carried clearly through with it. Made from card, the palette is lightweight, which makes it great for travel, especially since it’s such an all-purpose colour selection, but I would worry about it getting bashed up a bit in transit. It does come with another card sleeve for a bit of pretection, though.

Overall this is a brilliant palette with a great edit of shades that you can mix and match for just about any occasion, and I can see myself getting a lot of use from it. The price point is super affordable, and I’m already considering what my next Zoeva purchase will be.

-Niko

‘SPREZZY’: a recent history of menswear

If you read my Sunday Links regularly, you’ve probably noticed quite a few posts from Four Pins up on there. Last Friday, editor-in-chief, Lawrence Schlossman, resigned to move onto new projects. Four Pins has published his history in personal style and it’s quite funny to realise how long I’ve been following him on social media… that first picture of him in the sportcoat? I remember when that was posted on his Tumblr blog years ago, How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I’m not going to talk about Lawrence much here, because it feels stalkerish, but I’m going to use that gallery as a mini exploration of the past few years in menswear.

We first see Schlossman during his university years, dressing just like anyone else c.2004 would. This was before men’s clothing was really a ‘thing’ like it is now, high fashion was still seen as ‘metrosexual’ and not for the regular guy.

Notice how suddenly his style changes after that? There was definitely a massive revolution at the 2008-09 mark, when suddenly menswear blogs were everywhere, sharing outdated rules on how to dress, harking back to better days when men wore suits all the time, and there was a strong emphasis on Ivy League prep looks and heritage clothing. That then moved into a brief dip into heritage workwear. I mainly followed American bloggers, so my feeds were full of Bean Boots and lumberjack shirts. Probably handcrafted by people with pretentious beards in California or something.

It wasn’t long before people got bored of the stuffy and outdated rules that they were previously clamouring to fit into. Of course it was only natural, after a huge trend towards extremely casual fashion, starting from the 1980s, to yearn for some kind of formality and structure as a reflexive backlash, but there was a reason that we don’t dress with so many rules anymore, they simply don’t fit in with our modern lifestyles. Soon, we were enamoured with the Italians, ‘sprezzatura’ was the buzzword of the year, and Pitti Uomo was all anyone talked about. The relaxed tailoring that we see in pic. 14 of the article marked the beginning of the departure (or redeparture) of the strict rules that the menswear world had briefly revived.

Schlossman then embraces much more casual style, but in a for more flattering and grown-up manner. This has been the general trend in men’s clothing and as you can see, it’s he’s clearly approaching a comfort zone that is equal parts classic and modern, and he doesn’t at all look like he’s wearing a costume.

The final images in various all-black getups are absolutely great; you can see someone who’s totally in their element, and while it was great that there was a brief revival of ‘the rules’, it’s even better that they’ve been broken and played with to bring us to what we have today on the menswear scene. Elements of classic tailoring are still there, but there’s far more room to inject some personality without being sneered at for wearing the wrong type of tweed at the wrong time of year, and we’re really moving to a point where fashoin isn’t just for women or camp men, it’s for everyone.

Any observations to add?

– Niko

LIPCOTE: beauty’s worst-kept secret

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I feel like this product is seriously underrated, and since I arrived back at university without it, I’ve just felt lost! Lipcote is a lipstick sealer that prevents smudging, feathering and fading, and is an absolute life saver!

I think a lot of people who have heard of it have been put off by the previous formulation, which had a strong chemical smell and stung while it dried on the lips, but it’s back with a vanilla flavour and none of the sting, a welcome improvement.  Simply apply lipstick, blot, then paint a thin layer of the product on your lips and let it dry. Your lipstick will become unbudgeable and withstand everything from eating to regular everyday wear, no reapplication needed.

It works best for matte lipsticks and simply won’t work on anything really glossy, so if you want that look, I’d recommend applying Lipcote and putting gloss over the top, but for strong colours in matte and cream formulations, this is perfect.

I’m glad Lipcote and I have been reunited, this time with prettier packaging and more lip-friendly!

– Niko