Saturday 31 October 2009

NaNoWriMo - Let The Challenge Begin

It's the start of NaNoWriMo.
I have set my alarm for 6am.
It is my second time and I am looking forward to the challenge.
Whenever I start a new writing project I begin with a collage of thoughts and ideas.
I'd like to share this year's collage with you.
Along with what I wore today:

Boots- Dortothy Perkins
Jeans - Gap
Dress - Hype

Friday 30 October 2009

Weekly Round-up

What a busy week.
The children and my husband have been off work/school.
But not me.
Apart from Monday when we went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for the day.
I apologise for not visiting everyone's blogs and commenting but normal service will be resumed when my children and husband are back to work/school and I can transform this bombsite into a home again.
On Wednesday we had some drama students in the prison to prepare my writing group for a performance of monologues in December. It was great fun.
I also got the chance to complete my writing project working with young homeless people.
It was a real challenge but spending time with these young people and seeing the world from their perspective was very humbling/exasperating/exciting/depressing.
I would love to do more of this kind of work.
Their words will be illuminated on the side of the local library at the end of next month.
Here's an update of my outfits this week.
Have a wonderful weekend - think of me freezing my way through four football matches.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Back To The Future

I used an old favourite workshop for my Prison Writing Group - imagine a photograph of yourself in 30 years time.
Two of the men in my group are 62 and 74 so that made them think and they did come up with some great stuff.
I always join in the writing exercise with the men and I saw myself as an elegant white-haired lady enjoying a cup of coffee in a busy South American city with my son.
If you would like to try it I have adapted if from Margaret Wilkinson's brilliant workshop here.
I think it must have been playing on my mind because last night I dreamt I was walking down the road when I saw an elderly lady lying in the road - she had fallen.
I helped her back on her feet and took her home and was surprised when she showed me her blog which had hundreds of pictures of her daily wear thoughout the decades.
She also kep some rather large labrador dogs too.
Psychoanalyze that!

I wore:
Dress - New Look
Shirt - M & Co
Boots - Dorothy Perkins

Thursday 22 October 2009

Back To Where I Once Belonged

I am working on an exciting new project today.
It's called Inside Out and I will be leading three workshops with young people to help engage them with the library service.
The aim is to produce life stories in flash (very short) form which will be illuminated across the exterior of the building at night.
I will be working in Skelmersdale - a New Town in the North of England - that is very close to my heart.
I was Chief Reporter of the Skelmersdale Advertiser between 1990 and 1992 until I left to join The Liverpool Echo.
I have only been back a handful of times since and today will be the first time for about eight years.
Some of the work will be done indoors but part of it will be outside so I need to be warm and layered for all weathers.
This Joe Brown wrap has been a fantastic find. The colour always brightens up an outfit and the drape is very flattering.
I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Jeans - Gap
Polo - Primark
Wrap - Joe Brown
Necklace - Principles

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Getting Colder

The heater on my car has packed up and the forecast is cold.
I want something to cheer me up on these dark mornings and keep me warm.
So layers, lots of layers.
Bright colours.
And my favourite skirt.
It is so hard to get decent photos done during the dark mornings so I tried out the kitchen before I left at 7am today.
Something else that has cheered me up is this party dress.
I blogged about it here and now it is in the sale.
I am defintely going to get one for the comping party season.

I wore:
Boots - Dorothy Perkins
Skirt and silk cream top - Marks and Spencer
Striped Jumper by Gap from charity shop
Scarf from charity shop

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Converting A Dress Into A Skrit

I loved this dress.
I love the fabric, I love the print and I love the colour.
What I don't love is the fact that it was a bit too short and a bit too tight across my chest.
As someone with a petite but curvy figure it is often hard to get clothes to fit.
I wanted to wear this item more often and the only solution was to turn it into a skirt.
I am no seamstress so I tried to keep it as basic as possible.
I cut across the natural division between the skirt and the top part of the dress, turned a hem over and thread some elastic through.
I topped it with my old favourite New Look sweater which is the perfect fit.
It is not the smartest look in my wardobe but this outfit is my equivalent of a trask suit or PJs - comfort clothes for a busy day working at my computer.

Update: On this day last year I wore the most hideous outfit of the year - check it out here!

Monday 19 October 2009

Just Another Manic Monday

I was leading a PR Workshop for women who have just set up their own businesses today.
There was a fascinating group of people including two women who make clothes and accessories out of recycled products and fabric.
Normally I work from home on a Monday which gives me the chance to sort myself out after a busy weekend.
Not so this week and it looks even busier as each day passes.
I am posting a picture here of what I wore on Saturday night when we had a lovely dinner at my friend's home.
The black dress is a Karen Millen dress which I won on eBay.
Please bear with me and I will respond to all comments as soon as I can but for now I've got dinner to cook, homework to check, baths to run and bedtime stories to read before I can relax.
I think I will read Dogger tonight by Shirley Hughes.
My son loves it no matter how many times I read it - and I love it too.
What's your favourite bedtime story (yours or your child's)?

Today I wore:
Dress - Next
Long sleeved top - LK Bennett
Tights - TK Maxx
Shoes Clarks.

Saturday 17 October 2009

The Weekend Round-Up

I love the Tesco waterfall cardigan which gave me a fantastic long and lean shape this week.
I was so desperate for a red one I bought a pot of dye and planned to convert the grey one to red.
Luckily I logged on to the new Tesco Clothing website and they had a red version as an online exclusive.
Tesco's clothing can be hit and miss but there are a few great finds like this skirt and the red necklace I wear a lot are well worth it.
Dawn blogged about the new Peter O'Brien collection at A-Wear.
I have never been to an A-Wear store but discovered them online and am impressed with the new collection.
I have my eye on this classic cashmere jumper.
And finally, one store I will be trying out on Monday when I am in Liverpool is George Davis' new venture, Give.
As someone who is not a standard height or size the fact that you can get your garments altered in-store is a plus well worth paying a little extra for.
But even better it is all included in the price.
This weekend I am off to Chester to attend a writing workshop as part of the Chester Arts Festival. It is being run by John Killick and Myra Schneider who wrote the brilliant "Writing For Self-Discovery".
I hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday 16 October 2009

Go To In All Shapes and Sizes

I have been called long and lean.
And tall and sleek this week.
Oh how I wish.
At a curvy (chunky!) five foot nothing that would be a dream come true.
But the comments gave me confidence to try a new shape skirt.
This pencil skirt was something I would never have tried but for two things.
Firstly, the kind comments as above.
Secondly, the fact that it was reduced to £9 in the Marks and Spencer sale.
Even as I stood in the queue I wasn't shure whether I should buy it or not.
I wasn't even sure of the colour.
It said "midnight" on the label but it looked black to me.
After trying it on again at home I decided this could be a new go-to outfit for me.
Flattering skirt. Check.
Heeled Mary-Janes. Check.
Stripey Top. Check.
The skirt even has pockets which is great for a slouch like me.

The picture on the right was taken at 6.30am.
The picture on the left at 4pm - see how much it has creased.
I am not so happy now.
The verdict forom my writing class?
I look a cross between a chic Parisienne and Dennis the Mennace!

What's your favourite Go To Outfit?

I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Skirt - Marks and Spencer
Top - Primark
Pendant - Cambrils Market - Spain

Thursday 15 October 2009

Back To Front

I loved this dress ever since I saw it in my local store.
I loved it more when it went on sale - but they didn't have my size.
I loved it so much I just had to have it after seeing Shopaholic wear it here.
Yesterday I found a different store and they had the dress in my size.
Even better it was just £5.00
Don't you just love a bargain?
I wore:
Dress, Cami and Cardigan - Tesco
Tights - Marks and Spencer
Shoes - Clarks

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Inside Out

Here's a rare chance to see me wearing my coat.
This great hulk of a Parka was a steal from TK Maxx at £29.00.
It was in the clearance sale and fits lots of layers underneath for the cold weather to come.
Today I was back in the prison to deliver a writing workshop before meeting Jenn for lunch to discuss a project we will work on together in the New Year.
I miss Jenn.
Jenn was the librarian at the prison until she left in July to take a career break and finish her second novel.
We made plans to attend a writer's networking event in Birmingam next month which should be fun.
She told me that the rights to her first book have been sold to the US and Italy - which is great news.

I wore:

Shoes and Coat - TK Maxx
Trousers - Asda
T-shirt - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan and Necklace - Tesco

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Purple Ruffles

I have not worn this blouse nearly enough.
The ruffles look almost transluscent when worn which makes it difficult to find clothes that suit.
I bought this dress from the sale rail at Wallis during the summer.
I think it cost around £10.
I think the dark purple made me see it more as a winter dress than a summer one.
Lots more running around to do today and this is the perfect outfit for an active day.
Much better than a tracksuit!

I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Dress - Wallis
Blouse - Precis Petite

Monday 12 October 2009

Cast Off And Dye

It is a busy week in the prison this week as I have two poets visiting to give readings.
Today was the turn of a poet called Liam Brayd who performed a selection of poems including one about King King and another about a blind man who cycled while his pet dog barked directions from the basket.
Of course you had to be there.
Or rather most of you are probably glad you weren't.
Either way it was a welcome break in the routine.
I had a lot of running around to do along with shifting chairs and tables which meant a pared down easy outfit.
The t-shirt is a cast-off from a neighbour although it came with the labels on and the jeans are the result of my weekend handiwork.
I decided these Gap jeans were looking a little tired so decided to dye them black.

I am very pleased with the results.

I wore:
Shoes- Clarks
Jeans - Gap
T- shirt - Primark
Cardigan - Tesco
Corsage - M & Co
Necklace - Principles

Friday 9 October 2009

And the winner is........

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who took part in The Second Annual Capsule Wardrobe Challenge and below is a full roll of honour.
I was delighted to see so many people join in with my fascination for the Capsule Wardrobe idea. The main reason it came about was a bid to create a working capsule wardrobe.
For years I have read articles in magazines and newspapers which herald the holy grail of the Capsule Wardrobe. Invariably these are created to suit the ideal figure which is combined with a lifestyle and budget that bears very little resemblance to mine.
Gok Wan made some headway earlier this year with his idea of revolutionising frumpy worn-out women and their wardrobes with a transformational capsule to suit their shapes and lifestyle.
So far so good.
And great – if Channel 4 are footing the bill.
I calculated that most of these cost in the region of £500 - £800.
Not so great if your budget is stretched to the limit.
My idea came about last year when I was shopping from my closet in a bid not to spent any more cash on clothes for a year.
The concept for the Capsule Wardrobe Challenge is to find five outfits from your own wardrobe which suit your shape, your style and your working week. To hone your creativity even further the items were reduced to 10 pieces of clothing including shoes and five accessories.
Of course many of us instantly regretted our choices but we made do and became creative with what we had.
But most of all it became a learning experience for us as individuals and an opportunity for us to learn from others.
Some of you sent me pictures which are illustrated but for those of you who didn’t I will link directly as I run through each entrant before naming the winner.
Here goes:
1. I loved the way Fashion Junkie created a seasonal palette from the clothes she had which suited her shape. The way she layered a tank as a final flourish was inspiring.
2. Sheila is a second timer here and it shows. Her wardrobe encapsulated her signature style while offering lot sof options including two outfits in one day.
3. Bella chose lovely fall shades and the dress she chose looked completely different each time.
4. I didn’t get to see Jennifer’s pictures but her list looked very sleek and offere dlots of options.
5. Low Fat Dressing made great use of the accessories to liven up her black basics and enhance the splashes of colour.
6. Make Do Style had an even greater challenge – an appearance at a fashion gathering where her style stood out.
7. AJ’s distinctive style and bold use of colour created a colourful capsule with creative use of accessories. Check out the neck tie!
8. E’s brave move to steer away from black basics and project her fun and funky style during a very busy week was a triumph.
9. Shopaholic created many different looks for the very different roles in her busy life and it was hard to believe her wardrobe had been so limited for the week.
10. Dawn took the opportunity to experiment with different styles and surprised herself by the end of the challenge.
11. I loved the way Chewy Spaghetti used her belt in so many different ways.
12. Cara made great use of her jeans and dress and mixed them with the colours and accessories to create a wonderfully diverse collection of outfits (and poses!)
13. My EveryDay Wear created a swish capsule using black and white, prints and the splash of red which added a sense of retro fun to the challenge.
14. Kasmira – what can I say. The Queen of Daily Blog Wears did not disappoint and the plum jacket/blouse was an inspired choice.
15. Kari’s eye for colour emphasised her shapely silhouette and I bet no-one could guess her wardrobe was so limited that week.
16. Thoughts In The City had trouble posting all her pictures but her serene sense of style shone through.
17. Audi. What can I say – a lady after my own heart – not one, not two but three dresses and a fabulous cord jaket.
18. Julia – One very stylish lady with an enviable wardrobe and figure to boot.
19. Stephanie works minimalist magic with her ecelctic wardrobe to produce a winning formula – and she had the workings out to prove it!
20. And not forgetting me. Again I learned a lot more this time including the importance of forward planning with the weather forecast.

Andf the winner is………….
Everybody of course which makes it impossible to decide and therefore I had to use a random number selection.
Which is………………………
Make Do Style.
Please email me at with your address so I can send you the prize.

A Dress A Day Keeps Boredom At Bay

I hope you like the final dress for my designated International Wear A Dress A Day Challenge.
I am in the prison today and it is sooooo cold so lots of layers.
Long-sleeved t-shirt, dress, jeans. You name it - I've thrown it on today.
You can't even see the coat and scarf I will wear for a couple of hours until I warm up.
We are doing some work on Proverbs today so I thought I'd invent my own - a dress a day keeps boredom at bay.
Look out for tonight's round-up of the Capusle Wardrobe Challenge when I will name the winner.

I wore:
Dress and Top - Dorothy Perkins
Jeans - Gap
Shoes - Clarks
Wooly Socks - Pringle

Thursday 8 October 2009

The Poetic Pull of Stripes

I have been so cold this week and I wanted layers.
I also wanted stripes.
And I wanted to wear my red shoes.
Those three factors combined to create this outfit.
The Matalan sleeveless dress was striped up with a stripey body from Dorothy Perkins (which is great for keeping my tights in place!)
A red sash from East and red shoes from Clarks brightens up the black.
I also found this velvet tuxedo from Tesco which has been hiding in my wardrobe since 2005.
As it is National Poetry Day here in the UK I thought I would share five of my favourite poems with you.
1. Matilda by Hilaire Belloc. I can still recite this poem by heart - learned under the sheets of my bed with the aid of a torch.
2. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas - it summed up everything I felt about wanting to hang on to my parents forever.
3. Warning by Jenny Joseph (When I am an old woman I shall wear purple)
4. Strange Meeting by Wildred Owen
5. Love Is by Adrian Henri

What's your favourite poem?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Blue and Cream Check Dress

I love the print of this Matalan dress which screamed "buy me" from the store.
Every morning when I am deciding what to wear this dress shouts "wear me".
But every time I wear it I am not sure whether it is such a great dress.
I love the print, the length and the soft cotton material.
But there is something about the fit and the too short sleeves which make me doubt.
Anyway, it's too late now.
I have thrown on this scarf/shawl I found in Oxfam for £1.99 yesterday.
I think the shawl gives me so many possibilities to play with, dress up the dress and keep warm which is essential in the changeable weather.

Dress - Matalan
Boots - Clarks
Scarf - Oxfam

Tuesday 6 October 2009

The Little Black Day Dress

The Little Black Dress or Little Black Day Dress has come out of the closet after its summer hibernation.
This dress is from New Look and featured heavily in my wardrobe last year.
Black is a tricky colour for me.
Unless I add lots of colour I end up looking like a walking corpse.
I have a sallow complexion which tans easily in the summer but reverts to a jaundiced hue throughout the winter.
I acquired this cardigan from the Karen Millen sale in 2005 for £29.95.
Originally it had a fringing around the mid-seam but I felt like a line dancer when I wore it so last year I snipped it off and I am pleased with the results.
These boots are fast becoming my favourite.
I think the grey works so much better than the black.
Boots - Clarks
Dress - New Look
Cardigan - Karen Millen
Necklace - Cambrils Market, Spain

Monday 5 October 2009

The Yellow And Grey Dresses

When I was a child I can only recall seeing my father weep once.

I had come home from school and he was sat in the living room with tears streaming down his face.

My mum worked during the day and my dad worked in the evenings so there was always someone at home.

As both my brother and mother were not in the house I immediately began to fear the worst.

I stood in the silent doorway with a feeling of dread.

He still couldn't speak.

I looked at the television set in the corner of the room where pictures were flickering and the credits were rolling on a daytime television programme.

It was Little House On The Prarie.

And yes, that was what had made him cry.

When I saw this yellow Noa Noa dress for sale in TK Maxx last week I immediately thought of that moment.

This is a dress that Laura would have worn.

The sturdy cotton and its easy style would mean that after walking four miles to school and coming home to do the chores, the dress would still look great for playing in the fields before sunset.

It is a little too much on its own which is why I have layered it under this plain grey dress.

Oh and its freezing today so two dresses are always better than one during the winter months.

I am thinking of buying the Little House On The Prarie boxset for him for Christmas - that's if there is such a thing.

Yellow Dress - Noa Noa

Grey Dress - Dorothy Perkins

Boots - Clarks

Sunday 4 October 2009

International Wear a Dress A Day Week

I am still hearing from bloggers who took part in The Second Annual Capsule Wardrobe Challenge but are still to finish.
Therefore, I have decided to delay my round-up until the end of next week when the winner will be announced.
I have designated next week as International Wear A Dress A Day Week in honour of the fantastic finds I have had recently.
Womens dresses are always the first section I select when trawling a new website and it is the dress racks I head to first.
Yesterday, at my local TK Maxx I found two Noa Noa dresses reduced to £12 each and a dress from Per Una reduced from £45 to £25.
The only problem now is that I have only enough funds for one more winter dress and I can't decide between this one and this one.
And by the way if you live in the Liverpool area I have just had an email from Jess at Dorothy Perkins who tells me that a fashion show to mark the new opening of the Liverpool store in Church Street will take place on Thursday between 6.30pm and 7.30pm with a parade of Hollyoaks stars strutting their stuff along the catwalk.
Maybe I'll see you there.

Which dress?
Polka Dots
Print free polls

Saturday 3 October 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge Vote

So it is finally over.
And I have missed so many old friends from my wardrobe.
Before I complete my final round-up I'd love to know which outfit you think worked best.
Whis Day Worked Best?
Friday free polls

Thanks again to everyone here who took part.
Fashion Junkie, Sheila, Bella, Jennifer, Low Fat Dressing, Make Do Style,AJ,
E, Shopaholic,Dawn, Chewy Spaghetti, Cara, My EveryDay Wear, Kasmira, Kari, Thoughts In The City, Audi.

Friday 2 October 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge - Day Five

And finally - here we are at Day Five of the Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
I plan a monster round-up for Monday when I will announce the winner but before I continue I would like to thank everyone who took part.
Fashion Junkie, Sheila, Bella, Jennifer, Low Fat Dressing, Make Do Style,AJ,
E, Shopaholic,Dawn, Chewy Spaghetti, Cara, My EveryDay Wear, Kasmira, Kari, Thoughts In The City, Audi.
And thanks also to all of you who left comments and have followed the challenge.
It is interesting to see what everyone has gained from the challenge and I plan to continue to run the Challenge every season.
The next one will be the first week of January.
Today I will be teaching a three hour Short Story Workshop before meetings to plan a Drama Production in December.
I saved my jeans until last as there will be lots of running around.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoy the chance to revel in those forbidden clothes in your closet.
As for me , I will defintely be making for my striped top.
Five days without stripes or spots is really far too long.

Today I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Jeans - Gap
Top - H & M
Cardigan - Tesco
Scarf - New Look

Thursday 1 October 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge - Day Four

Today is a very good news day.
After battling for seven years my husband took his employers (a large public body) to an Employment Tribunal.
During that time my husband has suffered from severe bouts of depression, ill health and it has affected seven years of my children's family life.
His depression was so bad that on at least two occasions our marriage almost ended.
A three-day hearing took place in July.
And today he heard he had won.
I cannot express what relief I feel.
But as many of you have folllowed me during the darker days and left messages of support (even though I couldn't say what was happening) I wanted to share my joy with you.
And if anyone is fighting an uphill struggle against unjust employers then keep the faith.
Miracles can, and do happen.

Today I wore:
Tan boots - Dorothy Perkins
Stone skirt - Gap
Stone Bag - Wallis
T-shirt - Gap
Cardigan - Zara


I have used the phrase Bargasm before as it was a phrase coined by my friend who referred to finding bargains that were as good as you know ...