What’s on my Wishlist #1

I have a vast Wishlist on Amazon, which I am constantly adding to and removing from when I eventually get round to buying a thing or having the thing bought for me by lovely people (mostly my parents at birthdays and Christmas). My Wishlist is quite an eclectic thing so I thought it would be fun to chronicle some of my favourite things-I-want on my blog!

I say ‘my favourite things’ but I don’t actually own them yet so they could be utter crap. We may never know.

41O3NhRd1yLThe Body Shop Vanilla Chai Shower Gel. If it’s Vanilla Chai scented, flavoured, or even vaguely hinted at, I want it. I have so many Vanilla Chai related things on my Wishlist. It is my ultimate favourite scent. I mentioned it in my last post and I will definitely be mentioning it again.

If I could get every scented product I own in Vanilla Chai, I would. My boyfriend would hate me but I would do it anyway. (He has no control over my pretty smelling things, even though he hates most of them. Ha.)

I bleed Vanilla Chai now, that’s how obsessed I am. I am not ashamed.

41r7x3nKHxL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_Bernstein’s Reverse Dictionary. I love the idea of this. Can’t think of the word you need? Look up the definition! It would be so handy, I am always losing words. I know exactly what they mean but I cannot think of the word itself. There is a word for that and I have forgotten what it is (update: it’s Lethologica). It’s also a fairly old book so I am sure there will be some amusing outdated definitions that no longer apply.

I’m a big fan of all things wordy. I love dictionaries. I love gimmicks. Give me all of the gimmicky dictionaries. All of them. I don’t care if they all have the same words in them, I will have them anyway, gladly!

I may never own this one. I would imagine it’s quite hard to find nowadays. A girl can dream.

51paPsszjULDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Boxset). I just finished watching the show on Netflix, I loved it. I know the books are very different and follow a different plotline but I need to read them. The show was exactly the sort of thing I fall in love with, and exactly the sort of thing I wanted to watch at the time. (At any time, really. It is incredibly good.)

I love weird shows. Weird shows are great. I really enjoy watching a show that surprises me at every turn, a show which is so ridiculous that everything makes a sort of sense and it is kind of impossible to find any kind of plot hole because literally anything can be explained by the weirdness of it all.

41RLkXQOrxL._SX412_BO1,204,203,200_Pantone 20th Century in ColorIt pains me to spell ‘colour’ that way but that is the title of the book so I have to. I love all things print and colour, one of my favourite things at my old job was the book of Pantone swatches and one of my favourite things at my current job is the massive colour swatch poster I have on the wall, so that I can see how certain colour codes are reproduced on one of our machines.

It looks like a really nifty exploration of colour throughout history and I am so here for that. Not only because I find it interesting but because it might help me in my work too! Vintage colour palettes are always lovely to work with.

715LLXlG-wLNabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve. This looks like such an interesting read. It combines statistics and data with literature. It answers questions like: “What are our favourite authors’ favourite words? Do men and women write differently? Are bestsellers getting dumber over time? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring?” (Taken from the blurb.)

I find that sort of thing fascinating, and selfishly think that it will make my own writing better. Apparently, you don’t need to be good at maths to understand it, which is great for me because since leaving school, my maths skills are dismal.


A predictably bookish first post with some Vanilla Chair thrown in (we are beginning to not be surprised at this point). Lovely.

Are any of these on your Wishlist? Do you have an actual Wishlist or do you keep it all in your head? Is there anything you think I should add to mine? (This, of course, being a fraction of my list.)

Let me know in the comments.

Happy Saturday, bloglings.

Advertisements

10 things that have made me happy recently

img_9274I want to spread some joy, I also love writing about myself (because I am vain and I like to think I am good at it) so I thought I would combine the two. I intend to make this a regular thing. Lots of things make me happy, and it will be a nice little catalogue to look back at on my down days which could never be a bad thing.

So, here are 10 things that have done a lot for my mood recently. A lot of them are simple and random but, often, the best things are.

1. A little cat named Sergeant Pepper.

img_9155Back in December, it snowed pretty badly. We’d been feeding a cat for a while, it would come and visit us almost every day and we’d been seeing it for months and months and months. It was such a friendly little critter, and it was always really happy to see us (my boyfriend would always say “Can we have him?” and look hopefully at me when trotted over to us). We couldn’t bear the thought of our little friend being out in the snow with nowhere warm to go so we invited him up to our flat. (Though, we thought he was a she at this point and had spent many months calling him a beautiful girl. Whoops.)

img_8807He stayed with us for two weeks before we were able to take him to the vets (there were many hijinks involving cat carriers and the like). I was checking all of the lost pet pages and websites for my area just in case anyone was looking for him, and I kept an eye out for posters around our estate, but no one was looking for him, if he had a home they didn’t want him anymore. The vet scanned him all over for a microchip and, luckily for us, he didn’t have one. (Though I would have been happy to reunite him with his family, I would have been devastated if he had a chip – I fell in love with him as soon as he made it inside the flat!)

img_8658As he had been with us for seven days without anyone claiming him and he didn’t have a chip, we were allowed to keep him. Hooray! We think he’s about 6 years old, and he may have been hit by a car because his mouth is a little bit messed up (he’s having at least one tooth removed later this month), and he may have limited vision in one eye. He’s a little bit wonky and I love him very much.

I’m sure my loved ones are fed up of my constant prattling about him but he is the best and I feel so lucky to have him.

2. Vanilla Chai Tea.

Vanilla Chai is my tea of choice, to the point where I am now a little bit disappointed when I am met with a normal cup of tea because I expect it to taste and smell like vanilla chai. Spoiler alert: it never does.

It’s such a lovely flavour. It’s so autumnal and warm, with its wintry cousin Spiced Chai they are my perfect cosy drinks.

I have two honourable mentions in this section and they are thus: Coconut chai tea, my other half bought me coconut chai loose leaf tea yonks ago but I could never drink it because I cannot handle bits in my drinks and the infuser I have always leaks, luckily I found some empty tea bags on Amazon so I was finally able to try it properly (it is delicious); OGX limited edition Vanilla Chai shampoo and conditioner, this stuff smells incredible, so incredible that I panic bought some more so that I can use it for as long as possible before I have to wave a sad goodbye.

tenor (1)

3. Owning a slow cooker.

img_8933My lovely, lovely parents bought me a slow cooker for Christmas and it has changed my life. I am still eating the Slimming World way and I have long been wanting to try slow cooker recipes but I lacked a vital component: the slow cooker.

I’ve only cooked a few things in it so far but they have been a success and I am raring to try more. I have recently fallen in love with cooking again after several months of being lazy and living mostly on giant vats of plain pasta (I love pasta, I am a carb fiend and I always will be); since early January, I have been trying out at least one new recipe every week to try to keep things interesting while I continue on my meandering weightloss journey, and I would recommend it to everyone. Widen your food horizons, you might surprise yourself.

On a related note: my other half does not eat the same food I do, and I love not having to share my food. It is wonderful knowing that you have leftovers in the fridge. It is even more wonderful when you know with complete certainty, that they will still be there when you want to eat them.

4. My boyfriend talking in his sleep.

My other half is a very deep sleeper but if you catch him just as he’s falling asleep (which can sometimes occur while you are on the phone) you get a little insight into his pink elephant dreams and the results are often rather funny. So far in 2018, we have only had one Sleep Talking Scott moment but it was beautiful:

“Don’t let the onions and pickles [mumble mumble mumble]..”

Don’t let the onions and the pickles what? What are they doing?

“They’re trying to infiltrate my burger.”

Oh.

Sometime later after a fairly large interval of silence, he uttered but one word…

“Cheese!”

5. The End of the Day by Claire North.

img_9038The book I am slowly reading. I hit a reading slump last year which I have been struggling to get out of. I put a lot of pressure on myself to read more, and it worked for a while, I read more than I had read in the entirety of 2016 in the first few months of 2017 but then I hit a snag and haven’t been able to find anything new that I wanted to read. There are a lot of books I want to read but I had trouble finding one I wanted to read right then and there.

The End of the Day seems to be that book. It’s taking me a while but I am getting there and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I will hopefully be reviewing it in the coming weeks, or however long it takes me to finish (I refuse to rush myself) but for now I will leave you with its tagline:

Sooner or later, Death visits everyone. Before that, they meet Charlie.

Is that a hook or what?

6. High-waisted skinny jeans.

img_8134Up until recently, I never thought I would wear skinny jeans. I never thought I would wear high-waisted jeans either, I tried some on yonks ago and they looked horrendous and felt uncomfortable. When I was at my biggest, I was too scared to buy jeans because clothes sizes frightened me (and made me very, very sad) so I just didn’t try. Recently, I got to a size I was happy enough to take the chance with and now I am the proud owner of several pairs of skinny jeans, two of which are high-waisted. I love them. They make my legs look so good. I live in them now.

7. I found my first half-a-grey hair.

This is a weird one. For most people, finding a grey hair is a bad thing, and I thought it would be for me too. I don’t know whether it was because it was only half a hair or because it looked white rather than grey (and for a dark haired person, the idea of white hair is quite exciting, just think of all the bright coloured dye you could use without having to bleach your hair to death beforehand!) but it made me happy just the same.

I even saved the hair in my phone case so I could proudly show the other half when we both finished work. Oh, Elou.

8. Pepsi Max in glass bottles.

It just tastes so much better from glass. So much better.

tenor

9. Giftcards.

I get a fair amount of giftcards for birthdays and Christmases. I ask for them because A) books are expensive and B) I am losing weight and thus want and need to buy new clothes. Adulting takes money so I sometimes feel guilty for spending mine on things I don’t need, receiving giftcards takes the guilt away from buying things I just want. So thank you to all of my friends and family for your kind, kind donations to my shopping problem. (Giftcards are why I own jeans now, they are a blessing.)

giphy

10. The word ‘ochre’.

I wrote it in something the other day and it has been stuck in my head ever since. It is such a satisfying word. It sounds warm and rich and I love saying it.


What has made you happy recently? Feel free to join in! 

If you’re reading this, I tag you.

#FolkloreThursday: Retellings and Adaptations I covet

Greetings on this, the first Folklore Thursday post in quite a while. I’ve missed these posts and getting to completely nerd out over folkloric things so I am very pleased to bring them back.

While looking through my reader today, I saw two really interesting posts about retellings and adaptations, one from Mikaela at The Well-Thumbed Reader and the other from Heather at The Sassy Book Geek. I’ve been trying to think of a list post, and as if by magic, these two posts appeared and I just had to throw mine into the pot too!

These are folk tales that I love and that I haven’t read/seen any retellings of but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. (Please let me know if you know of any!)

1. Chang’e (China)

Chang’e is the Chinese moon goddess, who I have mentioned before. There are lots of stories that can be drawn on and I would be happy with any of them. I am obsessed with the moon, so any story involving it makes me happy and would make me a very happy reader. It has tragic elements, a husband and wife separated (regardless of whether they started as immortals but were punished with mortality, and thus probably deserved it, or whether they were human and definitely did not deserve their separation), a plague, and would make for some very interesting reading. Plus, I could imagine Chang’e as both a delicate and a fierce female protagonist, and I am very much here for a three-dimensional heroine who is not just strong. I would love to read more Eastern-based literature.

2. The Enchanted Quill (German)

The Enchanted Quill features a crow whose feathers, when used to write, make wishes come true, three sisters (two of which are snide and unforgiving, and one who is full of intrigue and cunning and blushes at the thought of a little crow), and of course, the transformation from animal to prince… for a price. I love crows and other birds hailing from the Corvidae family, they carry with them a little bit of magic; the crooked kind of magic that I can’t seem to get enough of (there’s that word again…). It has echoes of Beauty and the Beast, another story I adore, but brings its own little twists and turns to the transformative archetype.

3. The Seven Ravens (German)

Again, I am bringing you Corvidae and potentially fabulous female characters.  A mother and father have seven sons and want desperately to have a daughter. Eventually, they do and she is a sickly little thing so the sons have to go fetch water for her baptism (either to make her better or to ensure she’s accepted into heaven in the event that she dies – I am unsure which), the sons fail horrendously and so the father wishes them into ravens. Years pass, the daughter grows strong and discovers that the ravens that always seem to be around are, in fact, her brothers and goes off on an adventure to restore them to their human form. I love a good adventure story.


So there you have it, three folk tales that I would love to see adapted or retold in some way or another. There are more that I can think of but it’s late and I need some sleep (cue yawning).

Watch this space for part two, coming to a Folklore Thursday post in the probably-not too distant future.

Are there any folk tales you’d love to see retold? What are they, and would I love them? (The answer to that last bit is probably yes.)

Happy Thursday!

#FolkloreThursday: Four Favourite Fables

Greetings, gremlins. We are back to our Folklore Thursday schedule with a list post! I mentioned in my interlude that I wanted to write a list but didn’t know which list to write. I’m not sure how I decided on fables but decide I did and now here we are with a post. Funny how these things work out, isn’t it? (I jest.)

In my modern fiction (‘modern’ here meaning written in recent years rather than being based in recent times), I tend to shy away from moralising. There are few books that moralise in a way that doesn’t make me want to slam my head into the nearest wall (Wonder by R.J. Palacio is probably the most successful that I have read, but I do shrink back from the idea of it ‘teaching society a lesson’). That isn’t to say that I think books can’t lead towards societal change, they can, I just object to books (and authors) who make that their book’s primary goal. It always seems forced and disingenuous, I much prefer it to happen organically. If that’s the message readers take from the book, great! If it’s shoved down the reader’s throat so that they have no choice but to swallow it, that’s not even in the same hemisphere as fantastic.

Heck, I’m probably against moralising in classics too aside from the fact that I don’t really read them. Folklore, mythology, fables? Come at me. Dickens? Go away, far away. Leave now, and never come back. (There are exceptions, Wuthering Heights and anything by Lewis Carroll being the main ones.)

One of my lingering memories of my early school life is learning about fables (often paired with parables, which would explain why, for quite a while, I thought fables were religious metaphors despite the fact that they, for the most part, originated in Ancient Greece – thanks, Primary School, for that misconception). The Tortoise and the Hare was the obvious feature, there were others but I don’t remember what they were. Alongside the learning about them, we were also asked to write our own. My crude, childish ramblings would have been, I’m positive, about rabbits – if we still have my school books at my parents’ house, I might seek them out and see what moral lessons little!Elou thought needed to be learnt and spread via the medium of probably-brown bunnies.

The fables listed below are not in their original phrasing, if you would like to see them in some of the older forms (there are so many different translations that I wouldn’t know where to start to find the most accurate translation out there), I recommend a trip to Project Gutenberg, which is one of my favourite resources on the internet.

1. The Fox and the Mask

100The Fox and the Mask is one of those little fables that stick with you. Or, it sticks with me anyway and not entirely for the best reason.

The fox, when rummaging around in the belongings of an actor, finds a mask and thinks that it is very beautiful, but laments its lack of sense as this, to the wily fox, makes the beautiful mask worthless.

The overall take-home being ‘what use is beauty without brains?’

I am almost certain that this fable has been used by some male scholar somewhere to prove the hypothesis that pretty women cannot be intelligent (a view that is dangerously taken into some young adult literature, where the popular, pretty girl is painted as stupid and the super special protagonist with all of her book smarts feels superior because of it – this fable is not without its problems).

It’s not the message that appeals to me in this case but the imagery. I love the idea of a fox rooting around and being fascinated by a theatre mask.

2. The Old Man and Death

0133-old-man-deathProbably one of the more famous fables (after The Tortoise and the Hare), The Old Man and Death is a story that I didn’t actually know came from Aesop for the longest time. I love the way the title sounds, I adore literature that involves death as a character (I touched on this in the briefest sense here but I think I might write an entire post about it, or series of posts about death in popular culture… we shall see). I love the way the title sounds, it’s a very pleasant title to roll off the tongue (I prefer it to the alternative used for some translations, The Poor Man and Death).

The story goes thus: a weak old man is gathering (or carrying) a bundle of sticks, and under the weight of the burden the old man falls to the ground. He calls upon Death to come and end his woes because he is too old and too weak to deal with them anymore, but when Death arrives the old man grows frightened and decides he wants a little more time, claiming that he only called upon Death to help him shoulder his burden so that he might be free to go about his business.

The old man has been described as ‘taking liberties’ with Death and I love that, I love the idea of a character dramatically calling on Death to end their suffering on multiple occasions, each time deciding that actually dropping a pile of sticks is probably not a good enough reason to die. Very sorry, Death. Please continue your reaping elsewhere, no reaping needed here. No, sir.

3. The Travellers and the Bear

THE-TRAVELLERS-AND-THE-BEAR-1-q6812This is one of those fables which I should have paid more attention to long before I did. Most fables, I like because of the imagery but this one, I enjoy because of the hard-learned lesson it presents. (That said, I do also enjoy bears.)

Two travellers walk among a forest when suddenly a bear comes upon them. Despite having agreed to protect each other one of the travellers, thinking only of himself, scambles up a tree and out of the way, leaving the other on the ground. The second traveller lies still, pretending to be dead and lets the bear sniff him, believing the common assumption that bears will not eat dead meat.

When the bear leaves, the first traveller descends from the tree and, with a laugh, asks his companion what the bear said to him. The second traveller replies that the bear had given him good advice, and warned him not to trust those who would leave him to save their own skin.

Essentially it presents a test of true friendship where, if the first traveller were a true friend to the second, he would not have left him to die at the paws and jaws of the bear. When things get tough, friends don’t look first to protect themselves.

It’s not a perfect message, everyone is selfish, no matter how good a friend they are. In the context of someone’s life, it might not be a betrayal to abandon you to a bear, but something they have to do for any number of good reasons. (The bear metaphor is pretty thin here, I can’t think of a good reason to essentially feed someone to a bear but you get the idea.)

4. The Moon and her Mother

moon-and-motherI’ve saved the best for last. This is my favourite of all of the fables I have ever read and I can’t imagine that changing anytime soon. This is one of those rare tales where I like both the imagery and the moral.

It is a simple story, consisting only of this:

The moon once asked her mother if she might make her a gown.

“How can I?” her mother replied, “Sometimes you’re a New Moon, and other times you’re a Full Moon, and between the two you’re neither full nor new. There’s no gown I could make that would fit all of you.”

The traditional moral is that if you’re always changing, nothing will fit. No one will know who you are and neither will you. Or, if you’re always changing you will never get what you really want. Or alternatively, don’t commit to something you cannot keep to.

I take it to mean all of those things and something different (I alternate) but this is my preferred moral and the moral I will always think of first: there is no gown that is big enough for all that you are. You are so big and complex and detailed that there is no one thing that can epitomise everything about you, and yes, you will change but you will also always be the same; the moon is still the moon even when it’s in its different phases.

When I feel like my skin doesn’t quite fit, I think of The Moon and her Mother and I feel a little bit better.


So there you have it, four of my favourite fables on this very changeable Thursday. (I was going to say gloomy because it was raining but the weather seems to be having an identity crisis. We’ve had blazing sunshine, rain, wind, snow, hail, everything short of storm.)

Do you have any favourite fables? Do you take away different messages than I do? Have you ever made up your own, if so, what was it?

Happy Thursday!