Alternative summer wishlist

As much as I love to coo over spring and summer fashion in the pages of magazines, I feel like it isn't very me. I have a wardrobe that is 90% black, white and grey, and my idea of a "pop of colour" is oxblood or a dark green or blue. So when the weather warms up and pastels and bright colours start to, ahem, spring up (sorry) in shops, I can feel my heart start to race and my palms begin to get sweaty. I used to march to the changing rooms, arms heaped with clothes in bright summer hues, determined to throw off my winter clothes and emerge a new woman, but it's never really happened. 

The thing is, as much as I love sunny weather and longer days, I also really love black. If I had to boil my wardrobe down to essential pieces, I would pick black skinny jeans, white and grey t-shirts, a black biker jacket and pairs of black ankle boots. Basically if I could, I would go back in time and raid the wardrobes of male British indie bands circa 2007 before you can say "like a robot from 1984". 

I want to update my wardrobe come summer, but I don't want to wear clothes that make me feel like I'm dressed up like someone else. I will never be the girl in pastels with baby pink lipstick or the girl in a Club Tropicana neon jumpsuit. So when I saw Ellie Goulding wearing this perfectly understated summer outfit I had a 'eureka!' moment: I don't need to wear pastels or neon to look summer-ready, I just need to look a little harder. Here are my summer picks - black biker jacket optional (but highly recommended).

1. I love the pencil shape of this midi dress: sophisticated enough to wear during the day (once the sun puts his hat back on) but also sexy enough to wear out for drinks at night. The best part has to be the splashes of pink flowers which manage to turn a black dress into a summer dress.

2. Entirely inspired by Ellie, this skirt would look perfect teamed with a plain cotton t-shirt and a biker jacket on a summer evening. 

3. I like black swimwear. There, I said it. You can't move in the shops at the moment without stumbling into a rail of bikinis and swimsuits adorned with pineapple prints, multicoloured ruffles, or pictures of ponies. The pink and mesh panels in this swimsuit mean I can stick to something plainer without feeling too boring. 

4. This might be my favourite thing on the list! Clear plastic, envelope design, with a cute flamingo print - this is summer perfection in clutch form.

5. These are like Hawaiian shorts for your feet. Need I say more?

6. Okay so I'm not going to win any prizes for originality by suggesting wearing Levi shorts in the summer, but these babies are a classic for a reason.

7. When it comes to swimwear, this is about as wacky as I'll go. The prism pattern breaks up the black and the clever panels mean you can fake a teeny-tiny waist (even after your third Fab).

8. I don't even wear watches but I couldn't resist adding this one to the list - tiny fruit is strangely adorable.

9. When I do break away from black, I enjoy a spot of colour blocking. This bold yellow dress would look incredible paired with a tan and a black biker jacket (or a white blazer if wearing leather in summer isn't your thing).

10. If you haven't tried Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine nail polish yet then I urge you to step away from your computer and run to Superdrug immediately. This nail polish is so easy to apply (i.e. you can get away with only one coat), has such a gorgeous, glossy finish and comes in a rainbow of colours. 

11. I'm a little in love with this cute slogan t-shirt - tucked into a pair of shorts or a skater skirt, this is perfect easy summer fashion.

12. In case a flamingo print clutch isn't enough, imagine taking this beauty out for cocktails.

13. Ah, the maxi dress, a summer staple. I own a few, but, er, they're all black. I might have to go ker-azy this summer and invest in this beautiful cobalt blue number.

What do you think of my summer picks? Do you fully embrace summer fashion or do you find yourself reaching for your black skinny jeans even when the sun is shining? 

My favourite Disney characters

If you read my last post you'll know I've been in a bit of blogging funk recently. But when I read Danielle's post about her favourite Disney characters, I realised, no matter how uninspired I'm feeling, I can still rave about Disney until the cows come home (or at least until my colleagues start giving me funny looks). So, to get my fingers tapping on my keyboard again, I've put together a list of my favourite Disney characters. Ah, Disney, you absolute dream.

Favourite Prince

I'm sorry to say it, but most of the Disney princes are so boring! While Prince Charming, Prince Philip and the Prince (see, the prince in Snow White is so bland that I don't even think he has a proper name!) are all handsome, brave and devastatingly manly, you don't really get any sense of individual personality. 

So - even though Prince Naveen is funny and the lovable Aladdin does become a prince in the end - I think my favourite is Simba. Yes, he's a lion, but he's also adventurous, confident and cute. Plus he avenges Mufasa, who is a total dude.

Favourite Princess

To me Cinderella is the Disney princess. The scene where she is transformed by the Fairy Godmother is a perfect fairytale moment. She's also kind to animals (even that brute Lucifer), which gives her serious brownie points.

Favourite Wild Animal

I sort of want to pick Mufasa, but, in the interests of not picking The Lion King characters for every answer, I'll go with Baloo. Laid back, funny and cool, Baloo knows what's important (the bare necessities, duh). He reminds me of a fun uncle who's left in charge of the kids and doesn't really know what he's doing.

Favourite Domestic Animal

Pongo! I absolutely love One Hundred and One Dalmatians: the storyline, the characters, the soundtrack, the animation - it's so dreamy. Special mentions also go to Rolly and Patch.

Favourite Sidekick

I have to pick Flounder. He's a bit of a cowardly custard but he still wants to go on adventures with Ariel. I have a bright yellow Flounder mug which I bought in The Disney Store in London and it is my go-to happy mug.

Favourite Hero

I can't choose between Merida, Pocahontas and Mulan. I loved Pocahontas and Mulan when I was growing up because they're gorgeous women who can kick ass and don't need to be rescued. Merida is one of my favourite new characters - I love that she's a tomboy, passionate and stubborn. One of my favourite ever Disney moments is when Merida says "I am Merida, first born descendant of Clan Dunbroch, and I'll be shooting for my own hand!". What a woman.

Favourite Villian

I love Captain Hook for how flamboyant he is - with his long curly hair, frilly white cravat and crimson coat, he's like something out of an 80's glam rock band (I could imagine Adam Ant in this getup).

Scar also gets a mention simply because Be Prepared is one of the best villain songs ever written.

Favourite Female

This is probably the hardest question for me because I love so many Disney women. I don't think she's my absolute favourite, but I think Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame  is frustratingly overlooked: beautiful, clever and cunning, she stands up against cruelty and injustice, even as a member of a persecuted group herself.

Favourite Male

I think I'm having a bit of a mental block because I can't think of a male who really stands out above the rest, but I do love Sulley and Mike from Monsters, Inc and Rhino from Bolt (seriously, he made that film for me).

Favourite Couple

It's an obvious choice, but genuinely Mickey and Minnie. If you've not seen the short Christmas cartoon Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi then I urge you to watch it this Christmas (or right now if you're a bit of rebel). It is the sweetest. The fact that the Mickey and Minnie voice actors were married in real life does play a massive part in making them my favourite, not just Disney, couple ever.

Favourite Duo

Jaq and Gus from Cinderella. I do love Timon and Pumba (of course), but Jaq and Gus are my personal favourites. When they rescue Cinderella from the locked tower I have to remember I'm twenty-five years old and it would be inappropriate to scream with excitement.

Favourite Family

I know that they don't actually feature for very long, but I love Tiana's family in The Princess and the Frog. I love that they don't have a lot of money (especially compared to her friend Charlotte and her dad) but they work hard and care more about each other than money or possessions.

Who are your favourite Disney characters? Do we share any of the same favourites, or is there anyone really important that I've missed? 

Missing mojo

I think I've lost my blogging mojo. 

I'm sure that no one has noticed that my little blog has been very quiet recently, but, after weeks of sporadic posts, I thought I would, ahem, write about why I've not been writing lately. I started tartanmouth to have my own space on the internet where I could be creative and write about whatever pops into my head - and, at first, I loved it. I loved being able to write about everything from volunteering to books to jumpers with bunnies printed on them. I liked setting up a Twitter account to connect with other bloggers and keep up-to-date with new posts. I loved (and really still do) the occasional Bloglovin notifications to say someone has taken the time to comment on one of my posts.

But, since around the middle of March, my posts have become less and less frequent, with just three new posts published in April. I feel like my enthusiasm for planning and writing posts has vanished. I used to feel inspired all the time: new post ideas would spring into my head before bed, in the shower, while I walked to work, and I would look forward to sitting down in front of my laptop and writing. That is, after all, why I started tartanmouth in the first place.

But life does have a habit of getting in the way sometimes, doesn't it? While a new post idea might pop into my head while I walk to work, after an eight hour shift in front of a computer screen, an evening spent cooking and dancing around the kitchen to Smooth Radio with my boyfriend is often infinitely more appealing than an evening spent in front of my laptop screen. Which would be fine - I didn't start tartanmouth with the intention of blogging any more often than "whenever I feel like it" - until this strange sense of guilt kicked in.

I would log in to my Twitter account to be met with a stream of tweets about new posts, blogging tips, blogging problems, questions about blogging and blogging chats (how many are there?!). Even when I'm not blogging, I still try to keep up with other blogs that I love, and couldn't help but notice how many bloggers post several times a week (or every single day!). A glance at my Bloglovin feed showed that even a week or so of neglect meant that the number of unread posts in my feed had crept up over a hundred. I started to feel guilty and a little overwhelmed: 'I haven't posted in over a week (I don't even have an idea for a blog post!) and look at her, she's posted three times this week, and her, she's posted twice this weekend already!' Yes, I know it's silly, but I've started to feel like I have a serious case of blogging fatigue.

As much as I want to high-five (as well as simultaneously congratulate and ask 'How do you do it?!') bloggers who manage to squeeze consistent blogging into their already busy lives, I have to accept that I will never be that blogger. I will never have a blog schedule (I have a habit of forgetting what day of the week it is - there is no chance I could stick to posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays!), or wear #ootd worthy outfits every day, or always remember to take photographs, or know about new clothing ranges/pop up restaurants/cool bands (I read a blog post where a blogger said she was listening to Lorde and I genuinely thought she was listening to Finnish hard rock band Lordi).

And I think I need to accept that's okay (except perhaps I should brush up on my pop culture knowledge...).

Do you ever feel blogging fatigue? Do you ever feel like you blog but you're not "a blogger"? If you have any tips for dumping the guilt or finding inspiration, please let me know!

When I die Dublin will be written in my heart

Why hello again, little blog. I feel like I haven't opened this new post screen in forever (it's been two weeks and two days - calm down, Charlene). With a birthday every weekend this month, April has whizzed by in a blur of cake, nights out and chocolate eggs (I would like to take a moment to apologise to my waistline for perhaps getting a little too into the spirit of birthdays and Easter...). 

The second birthday this month was actually my... *whispers* 25th birthday. When I realised that my birthday fell during the Easter weekend, I knew I wanted to celebrate by going on a city break - a quick search on the Ryanair website later and I had booked tickets to Dublin for me and Sam. Cue much excitement. 

I'm from Limavady in Northern Ireland and I've been to Ireland a few times to visit family friends, but that was just over the border and only for a day at a time. This was my first time this south and without family, so it still felt very new. I've always wanted to visit Dublin so when I saw that Ryanair had a good deal on flights and a nice hotel had a sale on, I couldn't help but do a little happy dance. So, after a very busy week in work (three cities, six workshops and 240 delegates), I left the office on Thursday afternoon and hopped on a plane on Friday morning. I think I sometimes forget how good it is to be European when it comes to travel (check out Katie's inspiring post about this), but a forty minute flight from Edinburgh to spend a sunny weekend in Dublin definitely reminded me of how lucky we are!

To be honest, we didn't really have much of a plan: I bought a guidebook in Edinburgh airport while we waited for our flight, and I saw an advert for the hop-on, hop-off bus tours in Dublin airport (the man told me it was 5 Euros for the tour leaflet and I believed him - damn that Irish charm!). If you're going to Dublin for a short break I can't recommend the bus tours enough - we bought regular tickets which allowed us to, wait for it, hop-on and hop-off at all the different sights and attractions, spend as long as we wanted there, then just get on the next bus that showed up. The buses tour around the city from early in the morning until early evening and are scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes. You can pick from the Live Commentary buses, to hear the (very funny) drivers talk about the city, or you can pick the Multilingual buses, which have pre-recorded commentary in ten different languages. If you're comfortable hearing the tour in English, I really recommend the Live Commentary buses - the drivers were so funny and entertaining that I'd have been happy to stay on the bus for the full circuit just to listen to their jokes!

By the way, there are two bus two operators in Dublin - the green buses and the red buses. We picked the green buses because they also ran buses from the airport into the city, and because I've never seen green tour buses before, and, you know, when in Dublin.

We were so lucky that the Easter weekend was absolutely beautiful in Dublin - cue spending part of my birthday sitting in a park eating massive ice cream cones (covered with sprinkles, sauce and a flake), because you're never too old for simple pleasures, are you? The weather meant we could spend most of our weekend outside: sight-seeing, picnics, walks in the park, eating burgers and cocktails on the terrace of cool bars.

We coincidentally booked to go over the Easter weekend, forgetting that the date is hugely significant in the history of independence in Ireland. I'm a bit of a nerd so I really enjoyed learning about this side to Ireland. We visited Dublin Castle and learned about its role in the Easter Rising, and took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison famous for the imprisonment and execution of Irish rebels during the independence movement.

As an English graduate and all-round bookworm* I also love how literary Dublin is. With a museum dedicated to writers, including Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, as well as streets, bridges, memorials, statues and plaques in their honour, there are lots of literary features scattered around the city. Personal favourites includes the stunning church where Bram Stoker was married, and the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square (according to one of our tour bus drivers, Wilde's statue is the only coloured statue in Dublin, which seems rather fitting!).

Even though we only visited for a few days, Dublin was an absolutely wonderful place to celebrate my birthday - interesting, colourful and friendly, I'd go back in a heartbeat.

*Yes, my post title is a James Joyce quote - this bookworm couldn't help herself!
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