The Bookshelf Mini

30 October 2012

I'm currently obsessed with the wardrobe used in Ugly Betty, especially Amanda's style. The infamous Patricia Field styled the cast of Ugly Betty as well as the film, Confessions of a Shopaholic which is another favourite of mine, so expect to see a lot more Amanda Tanen Sommer's inspired posts. First up is a skirt featured in the Ugly Betty episode 'When Betty Met Yeti'. Amanda saunters into Yeti with gay best friend, Marc and his team. Swiftly followed by the faces of Badgley Mischka; Mark Badgley and James Mischka. Grasping onto a magazine, Amanda pairs a black tassel jacket with the Bookshelf Mini by one of my favourite designers - Jeremy Scott, from his Fall/Winter 2008 Opulence Collection. These pieces are a great way to pay homage to literature and the arts through another art; fashion. The collection is inspired by the beauty of a library filled with stories, facts and aged hardbacks. I'm not a huge reader but I do like to immerse myself in a good book and would one day, love to have a library full of my favourite reads. Jeremy Scott is also known for The Simpsons collection as worn by the wonderfully beautiful Cara Delevigne.

Unfortunately, with a designer name comes a hefty price tag. The skirt alone would set you back around £200. So whether you enjoy literature or simply enjoy wearing it, you better start saving up!

Hot and Saucy

27 October 2012

Now if you know me, you know that I love spicy food and keep a constant supply of Nando's Peri Peri sauce in my kitchen. I'm not a connoisseur of food but I do love to eat, so it wont come as a surprise to you that the lovely people of Heinz (of the baked bean fame) sent me over one of their new Hot Sauce's to try out. Needless to say, I have formed a love for this painful yet delicious condiment, much like I have with the medium spice Nando's Peri Peri sauce. Knowing that I have a taste for obscenely spicy foodstuffs, I decided to give their spiciest sauce a try; the Yellow Habanero chilli sauce, which is rated hotter than its Peri Peri chilli friend, of which I can definitely vouch for. Although the bottle states that it is a "fiery & sweet" sauce, I would have to agree that although fiery (and my god is it fiery), I would say that the Nando's Peri Peri sauce is a lot sweeter, I don't know if this is because of the seasoning or whether it's down the to the African Birds Eye chilli itself but it's definitely the sweeter of the two. The Yellow Habanero sauce is great for marinading or as a "fiery dip" as suggested in the enclosed leaflet, but unless you have sensory mis-wiring or are borderline insane like myself, I would consider limiting the "dose" of said sauce per single sitting/meal. Otherwise, you will find yourself regretting falling for such temptation. 

Heinz were kind enough to include a recipe for a stir fry, which although appealing - I will never use because I cook like I've never seen food before. The Yellow Habanero sauce is just one of their three Hot Sauce's, the others being Chipotle & Garlic (a medium, smokey and spiced sauce) and Green Jalapeno (a hot, tangy and sharp sauce). There is unfortunately, no mention of price but after doing some research, it seems they've gained a significant advantage over their Portuguese rivals by offering their 150ml bottle for £1.49 whereas a 125ml bottle of Nando's Peri Peri sauce retails for £1.99.

The issue I find with this product is that the pouring device of the product, unlike a simple open bottle like the Nando's sauces; it simply has a small hole which takes a lot of vigorous and embarrassing shaking in order to get much product out and the cap itself is really difficult to remove (if you so wished to use it like an open bottle).

The Moral Dilemma

25 October 2012

If you were a follower of my previous blog, you may remember that I partake in a yearly charitable tradition of donating to Samaritan's Purse via Operation Christmas Child. Many of you will remember Operation Christmas Child from school, which is how I got into it to begin with. It was more commonly known back then as the 'Shoebox Appeal'. I do this every year without fail and it never usually ceases to entice me. This year though, there have been doubts. After hearing about much criticism of the supposedly "evangelical" organisation, I am in two minds on whether to send the box or not. There have been many accounts of unfair practise in that the organisation "forces" Christianity upon the recipients of the shoe boxes and many of those accounts have even been described as "racist". 

The dilemma I face is whether to send my box. Are these accounts 100% true or is there an element of Christianity involved that perhaps people of different religious backgrounds have taken great offence to and may have twisted to form negative press? Like with many things, it's hard to decipher whether what we are presented is 100% true, partly true or absolutely false. I would feel completely disgusted if Samaritan's Purse were presenting the boxes to such poverty-stricken children, on the basis that they had to be afflicted to Islamophobic preachings. The act of doing so would be blackmail; a crime of global condemning. 

I do not have the time or resources to research in-depth about the situation, in order to come to a solid and wholesome conclusion. Doing so would involve actually going out to the places of need and investigating myself. I am not a religious person, nor am I atheist but I completely condemn religious blackmail. No-one should be forced into doing something they do not want, especially young children living in such treacherous conditions. These children should be fed, clothed and adored, not drafted in as young soldiers of an almost cult-like organisation. 

Ugly Betty

18 October 2012

Back in 2006 when skinny jeans were a relatively new concept (I know, don't you feel old?!), ABC released a television show called Ugly Betty that unfortunately, only ran for 4 seasons due to writers strikes and the recession. It is dubbed on the Wikipedia website, a dramedy (dramatic comedy) and tells a fish-out-of-water story of a young fashion magazine assistant. This ticked all the boxes for me and most teenage girls at the time; the combination of fashion and the desire to fit in amongst others, is an all too familiar concept that many teenage girls deal with. But while it proved to be an inspiring watch at 17, it still remains so 6 years later. Often through age, you find that many old things gain new meanings. While a song may have had you dancing around your room at 14, you may find yourself understanding the lyrics and appreciating it more for what it is, at 18. This is what I've found with Ugly Betty.

I watched it at 17 and felt it really spoke to me as I loved fashion and could really relate to the pressures of fitting in, as most teens do. I even went on to study Fashion Buying at University. But at 23, it has brought me new meanings. The idea of following your heart, making big career choices, family and respect are all issues that are dealt with in this television show that I completely by-passed as a teen. This show has inspired me, both in fashion and life. It's truly good for the heart and soul. It's made me appreciate my family so much more, be thankful for what I have, work harder to follow my dream and strangely enough, be less angry at things. It was one of the things that inspired me to start this new blog. In one season, Betty starts a blog and she writes about what is important to her. She works for a fashion magazine and although she enjoys it, she finds it hard to work in an environment that is so superficial. It has an array of guest stars including Adele, Lindsay Lohan, Gene Simmons and Victoria Beckham, and celebrities who you've seen elsewhere but don't know the name of like Max Greenfield (Schmidt from New Girl). What I really love is that the actors are truly devoted to the show and the message it conveys. They want to tell their viewers to be themselves, love one another, appreciate everything in life and to be strong when times are dark.

Watching this has truly inspired me in so many ways and has taught me a lot. It's fun and uplifting to watch (Amanda or 'Quinn' from How I Met Your Mother is stupidly hilarious, her lack of intelligence makes for a good watch) but it's also got a lot of substance and meaning to it as well. It's almost been like a Bible to me, as of late and it's such a shame it was cancelled. For anyone else who was/is a big fan like myself, I think we can agree that the most iconic part of this television series was the ending because it symbolised change, growth and much like this blog; re-birth. I'm a strong believer that you can find inspiration in almost anything, whether it be on TV or from a friend. Ugly Betty will always hold a special place in my heart.

And for fans of blooper reels; Ugly Betty has some great ones. Check out the out-takes from Season 1, Season 2, Season 3 and never released Season 4. Also, Marc and Amanda from the cast, do an in-character spin-off internet series called Mode After Hours and it can be found on YouTube. 

Parkinson's Books

17 October 2012

My friend and I aren't the biggest book boffins out there, but one of our favourite places to visit is a secret bookshop called Parkinson's Books. It's located at the end of an alleyway which is adorned with shells, handmade objects and books. The bookshop is a converted Victorian house with many floors stacked up with books, all the way up to the ceilings. The shop also sells minerals and antiques. It's great for a nosey around but the main reason why we like to visit this shop is a lot less deep and meaningful. 

The alleyway that leads to the main shop is adorned with books that are available to purchase under a '50p Each or 5 For £2' offer which we frequently take up. We do this to find handy and affordable books but more usually, we do this to purchase books with funny titles or books that would look good in a bookcase or as decor. It's great for finding books with reference to in-jokes you may have with friends, and a bonus if you find a book that may be of use. I came across quite a big book on HTML which would be handy for any internet-savvy individual, one I am contemplating buying myself. There was also a book that was a humorous take on Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' which would be great for anybody who enjoys political satire and history. I have bought and received countless books here with comical titles, one of which was titled 'Fanny'. It's also great for finding childhood books that rekindle old memories, which would also make great gifts for family members who share these memories with you.

It just goes to show that you can find joy in places you least expect. Neither one of us are big readers and we know next to nothing about fossils and crystals but we still enjoy coming to this bookshop time after time. 

In the photo above, you can see on the third shelf up, at the far right - is something that says 'Just A Rack'. It is literally just a rack, we were going to purchase this and give it to a friend in hope they'd find the sheer randomness of it, funny. It also provides great storage capability...

Be Kind

13 October 2012

I think one important thing to remember in life is to simply 'be kind'. I know this is a no-brainer and I know most people think they are but it's surprising how often we're not, even by mistake. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some kind so it's important to show kindness, either just out of politeness or to show you are thinking of someone. It's also important to do this out of sheer altruism. Hold a door open for someone, even though you're late. Buy someone a gift, even though you know you wont receive one back.

My mum is an incredible woman, she is up and doing manual work from 6am to 6pm, sometimes longer. She, along with my dad, works 364 days a year, Christmas being the only day off. She never goes out, or buys anything for herself. She simply lives to work and works to live. She mentioned the other day how she ought to buy more brushed cotton shirts because they're warm and comfortable. I knew she'd never go out to purchase one for herself because she simply doesn't have the time. So I went out to purchase her one. While doing so, I also picked up a Bodum Copenhagen mug* for my brother who had passed his driving test that day. I love Bodum products and I knew he'd appreciate such an awesome-looking mug, it sort of reminds me of the Louis Ghost chair by Phillipe Starck.

Now of course, you don't have to spend money to show kindness. There are many other acts of kindness that doesn't involve spending a penny. Actually talk back to that "crazy" woman at the bus stop who talks to everyone, for all you know, she could just be really lonely. Pick up a glove of a toddler that has been thrown out of the pram, that the mother didn't notice. A lot of the time, we notice these things and shrug them off like we can't be bothered to help or are too busy to, after all - we are living in a fast-paced environment. But when that mother gets home after spending the day shopping for Christmas presents on a credit card, which she knows she cannot afford but feels obliged and pressured to buy as well as worrying about when her ex-husband will be seeing her son over the Christmas period after he recently left her for a significantly younger bitch, I mean woman - finding out that her toddler's only pair of gloves is now also recently single, is just going to be the cherry on the cake of misery.

I'm not saying, go to Tibet and build a school for orphans...I'm just saying 'be kind'. Let people know that there are a few good people out there in this vast sea of assholes.

*The mug is about £7 on the Bodum website whereas it was only £3 in Tesco.


11 October 2012

First of all, hello and welcome to my new blog; The Science of Happy! I aim to write more from the heart, about the things that really matter in life. Of course, there will be superficial things...after all, I am human and sometimes it's the superficial things that bring us that little bit of joy. However, my main ambition is to provide inspiration for a more positive outlook in life and essentially bring together the science of happiness.

My aim isn't to gain as many followers as I can, or to acquire a suitcase load of free products but to merely inspire, even just one person. I've always been a cynic and I can't say it's brought me much happiness. Life is too short to spend being unhappy or angry at things that cannot be helped or have little meaning. Take tattoos for example, people often reject the idea simply because they believe that when the time comes, an elderly person with tattoos would be ugly and unsightly. We forget that the privilege of growing older is denied to so many young people, when you look at the bigger picture you realise that it really doesn't matter how you look when you're 80, we should just be thankful for what we have and for having the chance to grow older and experience things so many people in this world cannot.

Sometimes it takes the bad to see the good, that's why life is a struggle but you really can't "live life to the fullest" if you don't seize the day. The 11th of October, 2012 will never happen again. Make the 12th of October 2012 yours. We owe it to ourselves to be happy.

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