Charity Shop Tuesday: The Unicorndress

If you thought I'd reached peak twee with the Catdress, you were wrong. Oh, so wrong.

On the same day I found the Catdress in a local branch of Cancer Research, I also found the Unicorndress. Oh yeah. That was a good day. Especially as the Unicorndress was £2.

They're not even just unicorns. They're winged unicorns. There are also little cupid's arrows. And there's this slightly revealing button arrangement on the back.

No, I don't understand why either. But, like the Catdress, it have pockets! The downside is that it is a very casual, summer-weight dress. It's made of thin floppy fabric. It's a dress to wear over jeans or shorts to hang out with friends or run to the shops in. It's cute, but it can never own my heart like the Catdress.

The Catdress is more formal, and it's made of thicker material - I can wear the Catdress to work. I generally prefer all my clothes to be work-appropriate, it's easier that way, and I like looking slightly dressed-up at all times. So although I enjoy the Unicorndress, and don't regret buying it, it's not quite as good a purchase as it could have been. Cats just seem to have more gravitas!

Do you like to make a sharp distinction between work clothes, and casual/weekend clothes? Or would you, like me, be quite happy if almost all your clothes were work-appropriate?


Charity Shop Tuesday: When Things Aren't As Practical As They Appear

I thought this jumper dress thing would be totally practical when I found it at the charity shop I used to volunteer at. I tried it on and instantly discovered how fun it is to wear. The beads! The asymmetrical hem!

But I much prefer wearing skirts and dresses to trousers, and wearing this with skirts or dress would risk Hem Clash, and probably Neckline Clash too.

When I am wearing trousers, it's still a jumper dress without any sleeves. I have to wear either another jumper on top of it, or a cardigan, and because it's long I have to keep it hung up. Because it's not with all the other jumpers, I often forget it's there! I definitely like it though, and enjoy wearing it when I do, so hopefully writing this post will help me remember, and reach for it more often.

Do you own any items of clothing that seemed practical on the way to the till, but turned out to be less easy to wear than you'd like?


Charity Shop Tuesday: Or Is It?

I definitely bought this dress secondhand, but it may have been from a dress agency rather than from a charity shop. If it was from a dress agency, it was definitely from The Anerley Frock Exchange, a shop that I only managed to visit one time before it closed, on a day when I decided I was going to do All The Charity Shops.

Better photo, with me actually wearing it, down below!
I started by Beckenham Junction station, then went through all the many charity shops, and one dress agency, of Beckenham. RIP Frock Follies, and a) is it a law for dress agencies to have 'Frock' in the name and b) why are they all closed, oh wait, I know - eBay. Then I got the bus up the road to Penge and Anerley and finally Crystal Palace.

I believe that dress agencies are extremely underrated - like charity shops, they sell clothes much more cheaply than they were new, but unlike charity shops, they're more curated. You're unlikely to find Primark in a dress agency - they will only stock higher-end high street and designer. And unlike eBay, you can actually try things on, which is a must if you're in anyway awkwardly proportioned.

This dress, for example, was originally from Zara, something that endlessly surprises me because to be honest I find most of Zara's stuff to be a bit crap.

But it's made of linen, fully lined, full-skirted, and has-



It's not perfect. I love the rolled halterneck but it sits just a little too close to the neck to hide bra straps. I go back on forth on the colour - it's probably destined to be dyed either a darker shade of blue or purple. It's a little too close to denim blue, a colour I do not do, for my liking. Being linen, it creases so easily I can't be bothered to even try ironing it.

Here is a picture of me posing in front of my newly tidied bookcase in this dress, so you can see exactly how creased it gets!

But all in all, it was a good purchase, and one I can wear in summer, with sandals and a cardigan, or in winter, with a long sleeved top underneath and very thick tights.

Have you ever shopped at a dress agency?


Friday Favourites: Yummly

Last week, I wrote about why I love Pinterest. But for one particular area of interest, there's an app/website I love more.

Yummly is a recipe app/website and I think anyone who cooks and wants to try different recipes should try it. The search is just fantastic. It trumps Pinterest, in my view, because not only does it let you search for ingredients, but it also lets you exclude them. It will also filter for tastes (sweet, savoury, spicy, etc), diets (eg. vegetarian, vegan), nutritional preferences (low carb, low fat, etc), allergies, cuisines, and time.

If, for instance, I fancy salmon for dinner, I can search for only recipes that don't have onion (which gives me cramps), or mayonnaise (which my partner hates). I love spicy food, so I can set my taste preference to spicy. I try to only eat meat a couple of times a week, so I frequently use it to search for only vegetarian recipes.

If I don't want to make a recipe right now, but would like to save it for later, I can just click the 'Yum' button to add it to My Yums - which can be organised into different collections. I only wish you could search within your Yums - I've only saved 62, but it's already a pain to scroll through, and if you use the main search, it doesn't show Yums first, or let you filter for them which would be helpful.

I've just discovered that you can set disliked ingredients in the preferences, too, so I've banned brussels sprouts, avocado, and mayonnaise from darkening my results ever again! I've left in onion, as it's easy to just leave out, or switch for sweet peppers. You can also set dietary preferences and allergies. You can also pick favourite cuisines, or it can guess them from your Yums - it's definitely got me pegged with its suggestions of Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, and Thai.

It also learns my tastes, so it frequently suggests recipes without my having to start a search.

But the best part is that although you need to click through to the website the recipe is hosted on in order to read the directions, the ingredients list is listed on Yummly, and if you use the metric system, it's already done the conversion for you! You can switch from US to Metric at the click/tap of a button. It also shows how many people have Yummed the recipe, nutritional info, and reviews.

Now, so that this isn't just a Yummly love-in, here are some of my favourite recipes found using it:

Lentil & sweet potato curry - this makes a LOT of food! I make it once for dinner and then use the leftovers for lunch on three days!
Spicy Pan-Fried Salmon - this is gorgeous, even if you use a quarter of the amount of sugar as I do!

How do you find recipes? Any favourites to share?


Charity Shop Tuesday: A Dress I'm Considering Giving Back to a Charity Shop

I'm going to begin this post with an apology for the fact that I had to turn up the brightness in some of these images so you could see the dress properly. It's black. It happens.

This dress has appeared on this blog before, when I referred to it as my 'goth nurse' dress. If you go read that post, from five years ago, you'll note that I complained that it doesn't entirely fit. At the time, I didn't have very many clothes, so this didn't bother me all that much. I was just excited to have another dress! Please excuse the terrible watermarking in this reposted image:

My expression is kind of doubtful. Maybe I was in two minds then, I just didn't record it?
Now my wardrobe is well-stocked and I'm wondering if I should hang on to this. It's too short to actually wear as a dress, I have to wear it with jeggings. I don't like the pockets on the front. Compared to the clothes I wear most often, it's boring. And yet...

It's really comfortable, and it does have big side pockets. Also, I hate giving things to uncertain homes - I wonder, would anyone want this oddly-fitting, quite dull black dress? Maybe I should try altering it. Do something to jazz it up. Take off the boob pockets, perhaps.

Don't know why I said 'perhaps', I think those pockets are entirely useless and ugly. They've got to go.

I'm giving it six months, readers. Hold me to this. If I don't love it by then - if I haven't made it loveable by then - it's going. In a world with catdresses and drunk pixie creations, there's no point holding on to something that doesn't make me feel good.


Friday Favourites: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Getting Addicted and Just Enjoy Pinterest

When you first heard about Pinterest, did you immediately think 'That sounds like something I should definitely avoid or it will take over my life?'

Are you still relying on old-fashioned bookmarks to keep lists of sites you might maybe, someday revisit, if, in the meantime, you don't forget what they are and why you wanted to look at them?

This was me. For far too long. Then eventually I gave in, and you know what? I haven't regretted it. I love Pinterest, and it doesn't take up masses of my time. Here's why:

1. There are only so many pins

When I first joined Pinterest, I was really wary. I set up my first board, DIY Fashion, thinking that would be the only board I would ever allow myself to make. I already had loads of stuff ready that I wanted to pin - the reason I was resorting to Pinterest was because my browser bookmarks just weren't working. I wanted to be able to scroll through and find the tutorial I was looking for by looking at images. Far faster and easier than reading titles.

I pinned everything I started with, and then spent about an hour a day for the next week adding more pins as suggested by the app. But then, something unexpected (but with hindsight, totally predictable) happened.

I ran out of stuff to pin.

There are only so many pins! And this is true of every subject! I now have boards about hair and vintage dresses and embroidery and organisation amongst others (for the full list, see my page here). My feed is now mostly repeats of things I've already pinned, so the upkeep, checking my feed for new pins and pinning them to the relevant boards, only takes about ten minutes every couple of days.

2. Most of the notifications can be ignored

Sometimes I get over 100 notifications a day from the Pinterest app, but I ignore them. Why?
They're mostly just other people liking and repinning my pins. I don't even have the app set to push notify me of these, so I only see them when I look at the app itself. Then all I need to do is tap the 'You' tab and they're all cleared.

3. If I don't look at it for a few days, 'News' will let me know what I've missed

The Pinterest app sends me push notifications with suggestions of new boards to follow or top pins that match my keywords, so if something's popular and I haven't checked Pinterest for a while, I'll still find out about it eventually. It's like having a virtual assistant for my hobbies.

4. I've gotten followers without even trying

I don't have hundreds and hundreds, but just by keeping my boards updated and pinning great content I've acquired a small following - hence all those notifications!

5. It's a really lovely way to store lists

Ultimately, Pinterest is a visually-appealing, user-friendly, interface for storing lists of links. It's much easier to use for anything visual, like DIY tutorials, recipes, hairstyles, make-up, etc, than traditional bookmarks.

With that in mind...

I would love it if there was a way to import some of my old bookmarks. I have masses of old make-up tutorials and inspiration photo posts bookmarked but pinning them one by one would be extremely time-consuming. If there was a mass-uploader that would let me import them and then just pick an image for each one that would be perfect!

Do you use Pinterest? Do you have any tips, or favourite boards? Let me know! You can follow my boards here.


How I Stopped Biting My Fingernails and Chewing the Skin Around My Fingers

I used to be a compulsive nail-biter. For years I chewed my fingernails and gnawed at the skin around them. When I was a child my mum tried everything to stop me doing it:
  • Telling me off when she saw me doing it, which didn't work when she wasn't there.
  • Painting my nails with that stuff that makes them taste bad - I only used it one time, I very much DO NOT recommend this. It is completely impractical as it means you can't eat anything with your fingers. Unless you want to give up all chocolate/sweets/candy and finger food in addition to biting your nails, don't waste your money.
  • Telling me horror stories about how terrible my nails would look - I was obsessed with getting them short and removing any flappy bits of skin, so this had no effect on me.
I thought I was going to be a nail biter for life. But then, in my late teens and early twenties, I got really into nail polish, and I discovered something:

I would not bite my nails if they were painted.

I couldn't stand the thought of bits of nail polish in my mouth, let alone the reality. UGH! I accidentally bit them when they had nail polish on maybe twice and that was it!

So I kept them constantly painted. The only problem was that I was still picking and and chewing off the skin around my nails. For a couple more years I had painted, but still bumpy nails, because I was tearing off my cuticles, which always leads to dents in the surface of my nails.

I solved this problem almost by accident. I was dedicated to avoiding biting off nail polish, because it was disgusting. And then, one day, it occurred to me that fingers are just generally disgusting. They pick up germs, everywhere. Putting them in my mouth when they weren't clean was a terrible idea. There was no way that I could pick at the skin without putting them in my mouth - eventually when you pull and pull at a piece of skin it gets so long you have to bite it off or it will annoy you to distraction.

And so I replaced my compulsion to pick at and chew off the skin around my nails with an obsession with hand hygiene. Whenever I get home or to someone's house or to work, the first thing I do (after taking my shoes off, if appropriate) is wash my hands. If my hands aren't clean, they aren't going near my face, let alone my mouth.

And after washing my hands, it's easy just to grab my scissors or nail clippers and cut off the offending bit of skin or nail, push back my cuticles, or file any rough patches of skin. Sometimes I even carry nail clippers and a nail file in my handbag so that I can do this when I'm out (after washing my hands, of course!).

I've also realised that idle hands really are the devil's playthings, if the devil is picking your skin. I try to keep my hands busy at all times. If I'm doing an activity that doesn't involve my hands, like watching TV or talking to friends, I try to have something else to do at the same time - knitting, sewing, colouring, playing games on my phone - even painting my nails!

Thanks to developing what I would consider to be a healthy level of disgust, and finding things for my hands to do while my mind is busy, I have cured myself of a bad habit and now have nails that I actually admire and don't mind taking photos of. They're not perfect, but they're getting better.

This post was largely inspired by How To Motivate Yourself To Be Motivated from GetBullish - the first time I read it I immediately thought of how I'd stopped biting my nails using the power of disgust!

Do you bite your nails, or have you stopped? Any advice?


Charity Shop Tuesday: The Catdress

This is my most recent charity shop purchase. I don't need to explain why I bought it, do I?

And, what's more, it has, oh yes, the holy grail, POCKETS. The only thing I don't like about it is this visible zip at the back. I was brought up to despise all visible zips. At least I can't see it when I'm wearing it. When I'm wearing it all I can see are caaaaats.

I wore it for the first time a couple of weeks ago with bright purple tights and red lipstick. Got compliments all day. I didn't want to take it off. At the end of the day I took a bunch of selfies because I was just so happy with it.

I wear your grandma's clothes. I look incredible.
I can't wait to wear it again. I will probably wear it this week, it is Halloween week after all.

This actually isn't my first catdress, I have another one, also bought in a charity shop, but for various reasons I don't like it as much. More on that to come in a future episode of Charity Shop Tuesday!

What's the last thing you wore that made you feel completely amazing?
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