September Wrap Up
10/07/2019

September Wrap Up



September vanished with a flourish and while I realise we are now nearly a week into October, for my own sense of re-establishing some semblance of a blog routine, I am back with September's roundup for you all. You know the drill-things loved, good bits from the month and what I read. Enjoy! 

Five Things Loved

Neo Tarot: This was a gift from my friend Steph for my birthday in August and I love it. I've never had my cards read before and I hadn't ever used tarot cards until she got me a set. While I don't consider myself an expert by any means, I love the ritualistic act of drawing cards for the week. I do this every Sunday afternoon and then go through the guide attached to the deck and decipher their meanings+how it may fit into my life. It's a part of my routine I really enjoy and I love how these ones come with a focus on self-care as well. 

Maybelline Lash Serum: I've been to Chemist Warehouse a couple of times recently and this was one of the products that came home with me. To be quite honest, I was skeptical about it and whether or not it'd actually work but it seems to have had some effect. Granted, I already have quite thick eyelashes, they definitely seem to appear lengthened and fuller. I'd definitely buy this again as it's a lot cheaper than some of the other lash serums on the market, always a bonus. 

The Goldfinch (film): First things first, reviews are worth ignoring sometimes. Such as in the case of this film. The Goldfinch, adapted from Donna Tartt's Pulitzer winning epic, is wonderful. Unfortunately I missed the first 15-20 minutes of the movie but what I did see was amazing. Given the filmmakers had the task of cramming 700 odd pages into two and a half hours, they managed to condense it enough without leaving crucial plot points and details out. Oh and speaking of details, this film is so nuanced and finely tuned. It perfectly encapsulates how you'd envision a Donna Tartt palette or aesthetic if you will, to appear on screen. Well worth the watch-it seems to have had a limited release in New Zealand but definitely go see it if you can.

Spring: My favourite season of all seasons. Flowers in bloom, the coldness in the air is beginning to dissipate and the daylight sticks around for longer. Oh and cherry blossoms-I nearly pulled over on the side of a country road to take pictures of some recently. In rush-hour traffic, well for that stretch of road-so naturally I reconsidered. Anyway, I love Spring. It's the best. End of discussion.

School of Rock-The Musical: Auckland was home to this show during September. Based on the film of the same name and brought to life with music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, it's a fun, electric show. All the kids in this show play their own instruments as well as being triple threats and I was incredibly impressed by their talent. Not to mention, childhood Sophie could never. I think this iteration has gone back to Australia so to my pals across the ditch, go give it a watch. 


Five Good Things

Market Trips: When I've managed to wake up early enough on a Saturday I've been going to one of the local morning markets. Fresh produce, plants, baked goods, crystals, homewares and a continual bustle of people. Also, a great way to get cheap fruit+veg and flowers. You may have noticed orchid stems making their way into my photos a bit recently, this is where I am getting them from.

'Steptember': During the month of September, my department at work did a 'Steptember' challenge, aka the one where I become deeply invested and buy a Fitbit. The latter, something I swore I'd never do. Anyway, it was surprisingly a lot of fun, I rediscovered my love of walking. In the end I finished fifth and my highest steps day was around the 15, 000 mark so I was quite chuffed. Now to maintain that walking...

Late nights reading: Can this be classed as a good thing? Maybe not but any time spent reading=a good time. Lately it seems I like the witching hour when everything is quiet and still. Also, the brilliant books I have had the pleasure of reading lately are totally to blame. How dare they be so unputdownable. Ahem, Margaret Atwood and Jia Tolentino, I am looking at you.

New Lana: I have already written about this here but all month, Norman Fcking Rockwell has been what I keep coming back to. I love it. Not exaggerating when I say it will probably be one of those albums I repeatedly play for years. 

Soap for Society: This month, the lovely Lucy's initiative, inspired by Sali Hughes (one of my beauty industry loves) came back to Wellington, as well as Auckland and Christchurch. Soap for Society shines the light on hygiene poverty and gets us all to reach into our beauty cabinets and give generously to those in need. I organised collection boxes at a couple of my current+former workplaces and among friends+family gathered donations. If you are reading, thank you all so much for your generosity. It wasn't until I hit the aisles of Chemist Warehouse, arguably one of the cheaper locations for beauty+sanitary bits 'n pieces, that it hit home just how much these things cost when added up. Things I am sure many of us take for granted; like hand soap, or the lipstick we nonchalantly toss in our bags. If you ever get a chance to support drives like these, I strongly urge you to do so. 

Books Read

Motherhood x Sheila Heti: What a book. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did but Motherhood was such a breath of fresh air. The novel, autofiction perhaps (?) unfolds as a stream of consciousness. To have a child, to not have a child. How these feelings women feel are interpreted by society. What this says about us as women. While this book doesn't neatly answer the question of whether or not to mother, maybe that is the whole point. How can one neatly answer that question? 

Diary of a Miu Miu Salesgirl x Jennifer Wong: One of the first poetry volumes published by 'bitter melon poetry', a small press founded by Nina Mingya Powles. I really enjoyed this collection and it was beautifully designed and presented. 

The Handmaid's Tale+The Testaments* x Margaret Atwood: Ah, praised be. Under His eye. I've been in a Handmaid's spell all September, more on this very soon. In short, I have loved both these books and The Handmaid's Tale television adaptation for Hulu. So good.

Trick Mirror x Jia Tolentino: I am still in the midst of finishing up this brilliant collection of essays but I wanted to jump on here and say it is wonderful. Evocative. Powerful. Poignant. Go get a copy and thank me later.



*Review Copy

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Five Things: September
9/22/2019

Five Things: September



Better late than never, or something? Somehow September is almost gonezo. Which is crazy. That being said, there is a lotta good new launches and reads around that demand to be shared. The rest will probably end up in my next wrap-up post...

YourShelf Podcast: Ok so I am a biased, long-distance friend but my pal Jay goes from strength to strength with his venture YourShelf. And I am proud as punch, long distance now that he has launched his brand new, bookish podcast. The first episode features Florence Welch & Rebecca Lucy Taylor of Self Esteem. It is brilliant and well worth the listen. I feel like decent book podcasts are hard to come by but this one is a gem. 

Margaret Atwood x The Gentlewoman: In case you have been living under a rock, The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale was released earlier in the month. More on all that soon. Well, The Gentlewoman, legends of the brilliant profile interviews that are a staple of their magazine interviewed Margaret Atwood. For their birthday issue no less. Anyway, it makes for brilliant, brilliant reading so settle in and have a peruse here

Norman Rockwell x Lana Del Rey: Blessed be the music gods and goddesses. I feel like 2019 has been spoiling us like crazy for new music. Not a bad thing and Lana's latest album is fantastic. Norman Fckn Rockwell feels like an evolution from Lust for Life and I am 100% here for it. I feel like all of Lana's albums are really distinctive and standalone yet still envelop themselves in the themes and lyricism we know and love her for; Americana, Literature, pop culture, love, sex. Standout tracks for me are: Happiness Is A Butterfly, Norman Fcking Rockwell, Venice Bitch, How To Disappear and The Next Best American Record. 

Flower Beauty: On a trip to Chemist Warehouse recently I finally had a chance to check out Flower Beauty, brainchild of Drew Barrymore. Cruelty free, luxurious makeup at an affordable price point? Yes please. I've been using and loving the Flower Pots blush and one of the pencil liners but I am keen to try more. 

Caroline Calloway: I feel like everybody has been talking about this profile and I have a lot of thoughts on it which I am slowly sifting through. There's something about Caroline Calloway that is dare I say it, admirable and extremely clever. She uses Instagram to tell stories and entice and she does it well. Heck, she even got a book deal out of it back in the day when that kind of thing was incredibly unusual. Whenever I see orchid stems now I think of her. And Matisse silhouettes. But anyway, read that essay and digest. 

-What has been on your radar this September?
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July + August Wrap Up
9/08/2019

July + August Wrap Up



Somehow we are now in Spring as I write this and both July and August have magically slipped away. Though to be far, both July and August were rather busy times with a lot going on. Seriously, I talked through a list of all the 'stuff' that happened recently and I had to pause and be like, well yeah that is a lot. No wonder I am perpetually tired. Anyway, as is standard, here's a lil' wrap up of things I loved, the good bits of the last few months and a selection of what I read during July in August. Enjoy!

Three Things Loved

-Legally Blonde: The Musical: The local theatre company in my town put this show on in July and it was so so so good. I mean, Legally Blonde is one of my alltime favourite, feel-good films and the musical brings the same energy and fabulousness. Go see it or listen to the cast recording at the very least if you get the opportunity to.

-Lover x Taylor Swift: I bet you thought Taylor Swift's name would never grace this blog again. She lost me with the Reputation era but Lover got me back. It reminds me of classic Taylor Swift but with more optimism. I suck at writing about music sorry but I dunno, I just really like this album. 

-Derry Girls Season 2, on Netflix: I don't think I have written about Derry Girls around these parts before but I LOVE it. A brilliant, well-written, hilarious and heartwarming show set during the Troubles. Read this article. It articulates it better than I ever could. 



Five Good Things

-I got published(!!): So I was sitting on this for a while but I am so excited and smitten to be in the latest issue of Counter Journal. Bonnie and Zack invited me to write about saving the bookstores of Aotearoa for their Sustainability issue. I don't think I can get across into words how cool it was to casually flick through the magazine upon opening it and be like "Oh hey, those are my words-I did that." And I know it's probably uncool to be like I am proud of myself but you know what, I am. If you want to grab the issue to support local print+read all the awesome stories and see Bonnie's amazing design skills, head here

-From Southend to Auckland: At the end of July+beginning of August we had some family friends visit New Zealand from the UK for the first time and it was the best. I had such an amazing time with them, playing tour guide for Auckland, which of course included mandatory Duck Island on a rather chilly day because, well why not. We also went to Wellington together and then my Mum ventured with them to Rotorua for a few days. Honestly, best two weeks and it was such a treat having you ladies here, if you are reading. Come back soon-I miss you, the Whittakers will always be plentiful xx. 

-Birthday Week: August saw my birthday come and go for another year. 'Twas lovely and tbh one of the best birthdays I've had in a while. It started, pre-birthday with High Tea at Hotel De Brett. Absolutely delish if you are in Auckland, and the gin cocktails are divine. Then my birthday day was spent with our friends from England, having lunch+berry cider at Good George in Mission Bay, followed by divine cake from The Caker. And then the festivities carried on as I had a belated pasta lunch with a friend of mine. So good company, food and drink+cake. Not complaining. 

-Heather's at Academy: In Auckland we have a lil' underground cinema called Academy and they play mainly nicher films as well as classics and the odd smattering of mainstream films. Anyway, they recently had a screening of Heathers, the Winona Ryder classic. High school, dark comedy and a clique to rival the Plastics. So good. "Dear diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count."  If you haven't seen it, it's well worth the watch. 

-Positive Reflection: Aka the one where I use my diary a lot more, write gratitude lists and I dunno, generally feel more optimistic. That's not to say I don't have moments when I feel more Negative Nancy than anything else but idk, lately I have just been more grateful? Maybe it's because of some of the random, unexpected life events that have happened in my life+the lives of my nearest and dearest recently. I mean, I am always overanalytical but anyway. Long story short, positive reflection is good guys!



Read in July and August

-Three Women* x Lisa Taddeo: I really want to read this again at some point because since publishing my review, I've read some interesting critiques and analysis of this book. Anyway, if you want to read my review after I finished an ARC I was sent prior to the book's release, head here

-The Great Gatsby x F Scott Fitzgerald, reread: Myself + a friend decided to read Penguin Classics, which has kinda halted since this as an aside. Anyway, this was a re-read for me as I read this around the time the Baz Luhrmann adaptation was released. I loved it. Don't get me wrong, I kinda strongly despise the characters in this book and think many of them are just absolutely shitty humans but I could wax lyrical about this for a while so I will stop. It's an easy and fascinating read. 

-Fleabag: The Script: In an effort to soothe my heartbroken soul at not seeing this gift performed live *weeps*, I ordered the script to read so I could at least enjoy its brilliance that way. I feel like the play is maybe a smidgen darker than the TV show but it is so clever and wonderful and I love Phoebe Waller-Bridge forever for writing this play and show. 

-Tatai Whetu: Seven Maori Women Poets in Translation: Another gem from Seraph Press, I grabbed this whilst I was in Wellington at the beginning of August from Unity Books. Poetry in English and also printed alongside it in Te Reo. Mirrored languages, mirrored texts. Beautiful, beautiful writing. In all honesty, it's one of my favourite volumes of New Zealand poetry that I've read in 2019. 

-How To Be Famous* x Caitlin Moran: The sequel to Caitlin's bestselling, soon to be film, How To Be Famous. This time Johanna is in London, living her best life as a music journalist for magazines. Or she thought it was her best life. This is Johanna Morrigan so of course there is wisdom but also mess-ups, humour and a touch of sadness. Though this novel isn't dark and dreary. In fact, it is really hilarious and great if you want something that is easy to immerse yourself in. 

*Review Copy

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to be read
8/31/2019

to be read



Hello! Long time, no write. Whoops. So....strange how that seems to happen yet I feel like I write all the time but somehow this poor lil' corner of the interwebs gets a bit neglected. And I feel guilty about it. So naturally it makes sense to be writing now, at almost midnight. Logic is fabulous. Anyway anyway, today I thought I'd do something a bit different and talk about books I am hoping to read soon. Aka the "tbr"/to be read pile!  There's a mix of new books, a classic I am yet to read, some Booker prize candidates and more...

The Truants x Kate Weinberg: This recommendation comes straight from the lovely Chloe at Unity Books Auckland. Side note: Chloe has the best recommendations so go in and ask her for bookish suggestions if you are in the city. Anyway, here we have a campus novel, this time set in Norwich and it gives off Donna Tartt vibes but in a dare I say it, more accessible way. I'm only about a third of the way through it but it's a book you can easily immerse yourself in and I feel like I will be lauding it as the perfect beach read in a couple month's time. 

Trick Mirror x Jia Tolentino: One of my most highly anticipated essay volumes of the year, bought to my attention by Madeleine and what feels like everyone whose reading recommendations I trust online. Jia Tolentino's writing is a highlight of reading the New Yorker-which admittedly I don't read enough but anyway.  From the little snippets and interviews I have been reading to tide me over until it arrives in New Zealand, I am sure it's gonna deliver the goods.

Ghost Wall x Sarah Moss: This is Time Out's next Lit Read and was a contender for the Women's fiction prize this year. A book I have been meaning to read for a while so this seems like the perfect occasion. I have been told it's one you can read in one sitting so maybe I need to set aside some quiet evening with wine and this for escapement. I will keep you posted...

The Bell Jar x Sylvia Plath: A classic that somehow I have never read, despite reading a fair bit of Plath's writings now. Well I say somehow,  there is something daunting about this book to me for whatever reason but more on that some other time. I've already read a book about this book, I know, so meta *ahem* and while it feels wrong to say I am looking forward to reading it-that's the truth of the matter.

Ducks, Newburyport x Lucy Ellmann: Another awards longlist contender, this time for the Man Booker Prize. And it is mighty, clocking in at 1020 pages. I will let this review from Jay do the rest of the talking for you. 

Animals x Emma Jane Unsworth: One of the NZIFF highlights which sadly I missed but in the interim, there is this gem of a book. I say it's a gem in a somewhat prophetic way but hey, Caitlin Moran loves it and that's enough for me. 

Year of the Monkey x Patti Smith: Ah Patti Smith, her writing is the tonic and I am so so looking forward to this new volume which is being released very soon. And underlining. And reading and re-reading. I love Patti Smith a lot, can you tell?

-What is on your 'to be read' pile?

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Three Women x Lisa Taddeo
7/22/2019

Three Women x Lisa Taddeo



A book this detail driven demands to be read. To be thrust into the hands of women. To be discussed. To be dissected. To be contemplated. After immersing myself in an advance copy of Three Women* x Lisa Taddeo, I am ready to talk about it. 

My copy of this book is adorned with smudges. The covers are worn and frayed. Post-it notes are nestled in its pages and it barely left my side for a good week or so. A cover this decadent can only hint at the indulgent and lustrous text about to unfold. Blessed be the fruit; the desire of love, and sex and passion. 

Three Women unfolds in a novelistic fashion as Lisa Taddeo interviews Lina, Maggie and Sloane over an eight year period. It never feels unreal but the way in which each narrative unfurls around one another shows just how interwoven lust and desire are in our lives. We have Maggie, a now twenty-something who was infatuated by her high school teacher-until life unravels and she comes to terms with what he did to her, Lina-a woman lost in a loveless marriage and Sloane-a woman whose sexuality serves as a prop for her husband to manipulate.

These are all tales of women and it is through their dialogue that we see snapshots of ourselves. The women in our lives. The women of the #metoo era. Women we may never meet.

We see the power of lust and desire. Like the succulent cornucopia of fruit that Taddeo writes of in her introduction; "plump figs, small but glorious strawberries, glistening cherries, wine grapes."

Taddeo expertly creates a nonfiction, journalistic snapshot of desire and lust as we know them today. This is a book that is decadent and evocative. It unfolds like an evening spent luxuriating over a glass of wine. You will feel like 'the crystals under skin'. Electric. Fired up.

Three Women is a dazzling, unforgettable read and Taddeo has created a masterpiece-akin to a still-life, much like the decadent bowl of fruit on her book's cover. Irresistible. Unputdownable. 

*Review copy



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Five Things: July
7/15/2019

Five Things: July




Hey hi, 'tis July! What even is this sorcery. The passage of time (obviously) but seriously, how the flip does it end up being July so quickly!? Marvels aside, today I have five things to wax lyrical on; from poetry to essays, films to listens and even a lil' beauty spot. Have a nosy...

NZIFF is here: Aka the one where I miss being a student, if only so I could study and sneak off to films in between lectures and tutorials. I digress, NZIFF is back for 2019 and it is quite the lineup. I am only gonna be making it to this but I wish I was able to see more. I recommend you check out Maddy's post of films to watch this festival season. 

This essay x Florence Welch: "I tend to look back on that time with a mix of nostalgia and terror. There's a part of me that's in awe of that girl, her total disregard for self-preservation, how she could run at the world headfirst, eyes closed, with no care for the consequences." Florence Welch wrote an essay for British Vogue and first and foremost, can she write more essays please!? This is brilliant. She perfectly encapsulates the feelings and worries of adult life but at the same time the brilliance of I guess finding calm in the chaos. Read it.

The one with Fleabag: Aka Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Yes, I am still talking about Fleabag+PWB. Sorry, not sorry. Anyway, she is back on Elizabeth Day's How To Fail podcast and it is brilliant. I laughed out loud at my desk in the office #noshame. Loved it. Going to listen to it again. 

The Green Room: One of my pals Steph has set up this awesome, holistic skincare experience in the Hawkes Bay and it looks like a treat. Steph has over 14 years experience and is super clued up on all things skincare. Seriously, she is my personal Google sometimes (sorry, Steph). Anyway, she offers two facial experiences; intuitive skin sculpting and intuitive skin clearing. She uses Tribeca Skin Tonics in her studio which I've heard are amazing. So if you're in the Hawkes Bay, go check it out. I'm quietly envious of y'all getting to experience Steph's magic! 

Luminescent x Nina Powles:  I read this a couple of months ago and loved it. It was in the middle of a work day and I needed a moment of quiet+solitude and escapism and these chapbooks delivered. I particularly loved Sunflowers, about Katherine Mansfield and Her+The Flames about Phyllis Porter, a ballet dancer struck by tragedy. The whole collection is beautiful. You can have a read of two of the Katherine Mansfield poems here


-I hope y'all are having good July's so far! I will be back soon(ish)-I hope, with a book review.
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June Wrap Up
6/30/2019

June Wrap Up



Y'know the drill here, the month is nearly over so it's time to do my lil' curation. I apologise for the blog silence this month and I am hoping to remedy that, despite July looking a bit bu-sy. Points for trying or something? Anyway, here are the things loved, good and read from June. Enjoy!

Five Things I Loved:

* Kitchen Table Sessions- For someone who loves theatre so much, I make it to a dismal amount of shows but my friend Lucie was stage-managing/slaying for this show and I wanted to go along to support her+her friends so I did. And it was awesome. Hosted by Kate Barnes, each night featured different guests who all gathered to banter all things food, tell stories, drink some beverages and share their favourite foods+recipes with us. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention-there was food. We had regular food intermissions. It was AMAZING. And live performances from Lips who are the geniuses behind the Daffodils soundtrack. It was a treat and I *think* they are going to be hosting these again so if you can, I highly recommend you head along. 'Tis a good time. 

* Fleabag-Yes I am ridiculously late to this bandwagon but I am here. I get it now. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius and Fleabag is hilarious, relatable, tear-jerkingly funny yet also incredibly poignant. Can you tell I love it quite a bit? I also feel incredibly *seen* by the character of Fleabag to be quite honest. Please watch it if you haven't yet seen it. I haven't laughed this hard at a TV show in a long time. Side note: Olivia Colman is a national treasure. 

* Drunk Elephant 'Out of Office' Set-While I have no plans to jetset soon *sad face* I am so glad I picked this lil' trio up because two of the products I've tried are new staples for me. Firstly, Lippe Balm. It is the business. My lips usually go to pieces in Winter (thx seasonal change) but this seems to be putting an end to that. I like how it's nourishing, without feeling like you are wearing a ton of lip balm. It's doing its job but without being obnoxious like a big rainbow jumper demanding to be noticed. Secondly, D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops. I am obsessed. I need the full size in my life please and thanks. As well as being a serum, these give your complexion a touch of the sunkissed glow. In a subtle, yes I have been on a tropical holiday but not gone overboard on the tan, way. 

* Katherine Mansfield Letters and Journals-One of my secondhand bookstore finds from this month and it is a delight. Ali Smith reignited my interest in all things Mansfield with her latest novel Spring, as did the emergence of a certain Mansfield-themed garden that has cropped up in the Hamilton Gardens. Weird segway, anyway. Mansfield's diary entries and letters are so beautifully written and decadent gems of insight into the woman herself. I love how sassy she is too. 

* Derry Girls-I feel like this sat on my Netflix watchlist for way too long but never fear, for I have seen all of Season 1 and a couple of Season 2 episodes. It follows Erin, a teenaged girl in Ireland during the troubles+her host of eclectic friends and family. It's hilarious and so well-written. I'm not sure if it's semi-autobiographical but it felt that way. If that makes sense. Anyway, it's good. Watch it.


Five Good Things

* I wrote, a lot: I'm actually really freakin' proud of this because the motivation for writing has been a bit hit and miss of late. This month though I decided I'd do as many 'pitches' to publications as I could do. I think I ended up doing three or four which probably doesn't sound like heaps but nonetheless I am proud of myself for knuckling down and getting on with some writing that extends beyond journaling and writing for myself. So yay me! I'm hoping to carry it on over the next few months too so wish me luck.

* Drink Eat Neo: One of my friends had a birthday earlier in the month so we went for a late lunch to this gem tucked away in Auckland CBD. We had their cheese board+non-alcoholic mojitos. The perks of work weeks (I mean...). Anyway, it was a good time, and it was delish and it is a beautifully designed space. I highly recommend you give it a visit if you're in Auckland. I will definitely be going back sometime soon. 

* New Music: So a few of my faves dropped new music this month; Benee, Vampire Weekend and the Jonas Brothers. All different. All brilliant. Also, not exactly 'new' music but High As Hope, one of my favourite albums had its first birthday recently and Melodrama x Lorde turned 2 this month. Good month for music, June.

* Book Club: I don't always make it to book club but when I do 'tis a good time. This month we discussed Spring x Ali Smith, which I have reviewed already here. Ali Smith seems to generate polarising discussion so it made for really well-rounded, interesting banter. I am not gonna lie, some opinions ruffled my feathers a tad....such is the case of being a biased fangirl. But yeah, book clubs are great. I love 'em. 

* Flowers, just because: Proteas are around and about at this time of year and I wanted one. I wanted a stem and didn't want to wait for someone to get me flowers which tbh, would probably be a long wait (ha). Anyway, I feel like buying flowers for oneself is one of those things I have turned into an insecurity....I dunno, my mind works in interesting ways. And you know what-why should it be something to feel weird about? Buy yourself the flowers-don't wait for an excuse.


Books Read in June

*Normal People x Sally Rooney: I wanted a comfort read, a book which I love and will forever love. A book where I can find gleamings of familiarity within its pages, beauty within Rooney's words. Just as wonderful a second time around.

*Too Much & Not The Mood x Durga Chew-Bose: Another re-read and a book which is now messy with my random scribblings and underlinings. Clearly I have picked this book up on a whim more than once as lines of black and blue and pink and turquoise scatter its pages. There's something really mesmerising and enticing to Durga's prose. 

*How To Fail x Elizabeth Day: The tonic in book form, read my thoughts here. And then go listen to the podcast. I recommend Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Dolly Alderton's episodes in particular.

*Brown Girls In Bright Red Lipstick x Courtney Sina Meredith: One of Tayi Tibble's favourite books. I loved this thin slip of a book and wish it was more widely available+discussed because I think women in particular need to get ahold of it. 

*The Casual Perfect x Lavinia Greenlaw: Another secondhand bookstore find. I love Lavinia Greenlaw's poetry a lot and I did like this volume a lot too. Night Photograph is still my favourite but this one is up there as well.

-And then I also re-read Harry Potter #3 and some more poetry volumes. So not a lot of reading happened in June (whoops).

-What did you love during June?



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Fail Again, Failing Better and 'How To Fail'
6/22/2019

Fail Again, Failing Better and 'How To Fail'



Fail: To fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired or approved.

To fail is to be filled with a sense of gut-wrenching dread. It's feeling like you have an arrow following you. Hey look, this girl/guy failed. I've failed; exams, relationships, driving tests and more. And yes failure can be incredibly painful. I used to think failure meant universal negativity and finality. That is, until I stumbled upon Elizabeth Day and her magic.

Her podcast, 'How To Fail' got me through a trying situation last year that felt like, well, a setback. And I guess to some extent it was but at the time it made me realise that I could embrace that failure instead. It makes me think of this JK Rowling quote: "Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live in life without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all-in which case, you fail by default." 

Hearing people I respect and admire, like Dolly Alderton or Phoebe Waller-Bridge, successful women in their creative fields, openly discussing their successes and setbacks it's eye-opening. Not to mention, reassuring and inspiring. As I write this post, I am listening to Charly Cox's episode and it is equally as inspiring, especially when I have just started to get into writing my own poetry myself. Y'know, failure isn't something we talk about openly but this podcast turns the notion that it should be kept private and not be up for discussion on its head. Difficult conversations demand to be had.

The book, follows in a similar fashion though it delves more extensively into Elizabeth Day's experiences and stories. She covers how to fail at dating, being Gwyneth Paltrow, friendship, work, families and more. It also ties her experiences in with that of her podcast guests and is like a cosy, reassuring, calming blanket of a book. Crammed with wisdom and humour and charm, it's such a brilliant read. 

I'll be honest, I found How To Fail a bit too real at times which is in no way a critique of the book itself. It just meant I read it a bit slower and more cautiously than usual. That being said, it is in the realness and openness of Day and her contributors that solace and relatability lie. This is such a beautiful book and if I was Oprah-level rich, I'd give everyone in my life a copy. So go read it, or listen to the audiobook-also narrated by Day. Oh and side note, Phoebe Waller-Bridge descending the stairs singing 'At Last x Etta James', big mood. 

-Have you read How To Fail? What did you think of it?

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Self Care Sunday
6/09/2019

Self Care Sunday



It's Sunday, the weekend is somehow quickly vanishing and all of a sudden it's nearly a new week. What a buzzkill and blessing all in one go right!?  All that said, Sunday doesn't have to be a total downer. For me, I usually try to reserve part of Sundays just for myself. Call it selfish, call it self-maintenance. I guess it's both of those things. Long story short, Sundays are at least in part my day. So today, seeing as it is Sunday and all I thought I'd talk you through some activities I do on a Sunday, just 'cos. It's nothing groundbreaking and I won't say it'll change your life because you could really do these anytime. But anyway, way to not sell a concept Sophie. Here is what I do for a bit of chill on Sundays...

Sleep Ins: So this failed pretty spectacularly this weekend as my internal clock woke me up at the time I usually get up for work during the week. When you can though-sleep in! If you are like me, you don't sleep enough. It's not exactly news that lack of sleep=not good in any regard so cherish that sleep in. Turn that alarm off and soak up the extra shut-eye.

Face Mask+(sometimes) Eye Masks: This is one activity I always like to do on a Sunday. It's a bit of a ritualistic thing but I also find masking incredibly relaxing and like a little treat for my skin too. Recently I've decided I don't like sheet masks, at all but prefer a mask I can apply myself. At the moment I am using and loving the Jet Lag mask x Summer Fridays. It's a bit wallet weepingly expensive but they have recently bought out a smaller size. And it does work quickly and wondrously so, cannot complain. As for eyes, this isn't a step I do all the time but I will definitely be tonight because the eyebag game is strong. Anyway, I use these and they are so lovely and cooling too. I love 'em.

Reading w/ all the cushions & blankets: I am not sure what it is about Sundays but if it doesn't involve a reasonably lengthy reading session, I am usually not satisfied. At the moment it's Winter here in NZ so fluffy, cosy blankets are a must. I usually disappear to a hidden corner of the house too for the most uninterrupted time. 

Go for walks: Preferably alone, this is your time. Walks=the best to immerse yourself in nature and mull over anything and everything I guess. Y'know how this works.

Make a to-do list: This may not sound like 'self-care' as it has the potential to create stress but for me it's useful for me to see what I need to do in the week ahead, or on a smaller scale what I want to achieve on Sunday. Either way, it helps because sometimes I forget stuff and then I can be like "Oh wait, I have X on Wednesday or I made X appointment". Yeah.

Movie+TV Afternoons: I don't really watch much TV during the week so it's a nice lil' treat and relaxer for me on the weekend. Netflix is my go-to. Though now I have the new season of Big Little Lies sitting and waiting to record, that'll be my go-to. Fleabag is also on my watchlist. But I have been rewatching The Crown lately and loving it. I mean, watching TV shows or films are a pretty failsafe way to unwind and zone out.

-What do you do to unwind on the weekend?

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May Wrap Up
6/03/2019

May Wrap Up



I feel like May has been short and sweet. So I will keep this intro short, and sweet for once. May has been...a ride. More on that some other time, perhaps. On a more positive note, it is May wrap up time. Whoop whoop! Today we have five things I loved, some positive bits from the month (because we are all about the positive vibes, yes we are) and books I have read in May, aka the one where I reread things. 

Five Things I Loved:

*The Years x Annie Ernaux: Shortlisted for the Man Booker International prize, this book is a feast. And I don't mean that in a, bucket of chicken+pot of coleslaw kind of way. I mean it in a decadent, banquet, cup overflowing with champagne kind of sense. The Years is a memoir told through images, snapshots, snippets of a time and a place. The narrator places herself on the edge of the scene and as a result, The Years is a truly unique reading experience. I'm probably articulating this terribly but if you like your memoirs unconventional and non-linear, you will like this. I loved it.

*NARS Liquid Blush in Orgasm: Nowadays I seem to gravitate towards cream blusher and I love the way this brightens and illuminates in one handy pump. You barely need any product too and I love the faux glow it creates. Yass please. 

*Britney's Wellness Week: My uni pal from way back, Brit has been creating some really fricken great videos lately. Don't get me wrong, she always creates awesome+inspiring things but lately they've been really resonating, for many reasons. Anyway, last month I loved her wellness series, as well as videos on self care+mental health. Britney speaks so candidly and openly about her experiences and it inspires me+makes me want to share my stories too. I am getting there. But anyway, I recommend her videos so much. They are real and relatable-go watch 'em.

*Rocketman: THIS. FILM. THO. Or as someone said to me, "Sophie, this is your Bohemian Rhapsody 2.0". So true. I fricken loved Rocketman. It's somewhere between a musical+biopic for me, which I am 100% here for. Part fantasy, part reality. It's a story of Elton at the height of his success and rise to fame, and the eventual mess that is drugs and toxic family backstories. Taron Egerton is amazing as Elton. So talented. And that soundtrack+the costuming. I want ridiculous sunglasses and a denim jacket with star patches now plz. Seriously though-go watch it if this sounds like a bit of you because it is brilliant. 

*That Stila dupe: Props to my girl Lucie for bringing this eyeshadow to my attention. It's sparkly and shimmery and makes me feel like a fairy or something when I wear it. Idk, sparkly eyeshadow makes me feel sparklier. There must be some science/psychological reasoning there. Anyway, what I also like about this is that it is a much more affordable dupe for the Stila Glitter & Glow shadows. I mean, Beige Kitten is basically a near-identical dupe for Kitten Karma. Definitely get amongst it if you like cream shadows+sparkly eyelids.

Five Good Things:

*Literally Lorne-This was a Friday evening of poetry, thanks to the Auckland Writer's Festival. Highlights included hearing Tayi Tibble and Ashleigh Young reading their work in art galleries and the city library respectively. And; you could recite a line from a poem at a cafe and receive a cookie. Small pleasures. For those wondering-I chose "throw me in a haunted wheelbarrow and set me on fire" from 'Monica' x Hera Lindsay Bird. 

*Quiz Nights-What is this, the mere concept of me out on a weeknight!? All seriousness, how fricken fun are pub quizzes? Where have I been... I mightn't be particularly good when it comes to geography, or sport but hey-it's a fun evening and I like to flex my general knowledge muscles. Or somethin. 

*This cover x Lana Del Rey-"Summer tiiiime, and the livin's easy".  I feel like a new Lana Del Rey album has to be on the horizon. I lovelovelove this cover though so much. I've thrown it in a lot of my playlists during May and it's made me go back on a Lana-fest. Quite frankly, that is never a bad thing.

*Treasure hunting at the beach-I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to acknowledge that water+the beach makes me happy. I find the sound of water lapping against the sand incredibly calming. The sight of sunlight sparkling on the water makes my eyes like the heart-eyed emoji. Idk, water just relaxes me. As does looking for beautiful shells and sea glass. Note to self: Sophie, you actually like the beach.

*This article on reading, a lot. I am going to leave this here as it really speaks for itself. And it resonated, a lot. I get told at least once a week that I read a lot-in varying degrees of judgement. I will leave this extract here though: "That something so innocuous can provoke such a range of strong responses is very interesting. How can a quantity of books represent a reproach to some and a celebration to others? To me, as the perpetrator they are neither." 


Books I Read in May:

*Ah and on that note, here's what I read-well, most of it. You'll notice at least half are poetry volumes-short & easy.

/ Harry Potter-Books 1 & 2: Earlier in the May I was a bit poorly #thxflu and it meant a lot of reading+sleeping. I was feeling nostalgic so I reached for the Harry Potter books and it was magic. I know JK Rowling is a bit problematic nowadays but you cannot deny how brilliant these books were and are. 

/ How I Get Ready x Ashleigh Young: Ashleigh is one of my favourite writers so I was highly anticipating her poetry volume. It didn't disappoint. I read it in one frenzied go on my train ride home from work and loved every second of it. 

/ Terrific Mother x Lorrie Moore: A short+sweet read from Faber's 90th birthday series. It's darkly funny and sharply written. I need to read more of Lorrie Moore's words soon.

-What did you love during May?


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Five Things: May
5/13/2019

Five Things: May



Hello, happy Monday & May. As I write this I am going to be honest, I feel a bit disoriented. Most likely what comes from sleeping the weekend away and intermittently resurfacing to read and watch Netflix+drink orange juice. #fluseasonissoglam. But today is not about ailments or even pulpy orange juice which is the jam, today is about five things for May. We have icecream, articles and some TV+film to add to your list...

Duck Island: Aka quite possibly the coolest icecream pop-up store you will ever encounter. I love it so much-I went there twice in a week and had the same thing. Fairy Bread and Blueberry Buttermilk Gooey Butter Cake. Frickin delish. Also-they cater to people with allergy concerns which gets a big tick of approval from me. If you are in Auckland, hit up Ponsonby Road, otherwise they have a couple of locations in Hamilton too. 

both/and: Madeleine often writes some of my favourite thinkpieces but this one last week particularly resonated. It's an idea explored in cognitive behavioural therapy and honestly, such an important tool. And I am not the best at it but seriously, it's such a good way to step back and put things/moments/memories in perspective. "It's learning that sometimes life gives to us by taking something away. That even when things are just f*cking terrible, there are still moments of levity. That it's still a good life even on life's worse day."

Rocketman: "And I think it's gonna be a long long time..." I am so excited for Rocketman, the biopic about Elton John. I mean, watch the trailer-it looks fantastic. Honestly, I don't know a ton about Elton's backstory so I am looking forward to seeing this-to the point I bought advanced screening tickets. Not gonna lie, I kinda want to buy these just for the occasion. Side note: I actually want to buy those anyway because Lana Del Rey vibes. But yes, Rocketman-bring it.

The Gentlewoman: I feel like to read this magazine is an event. You want to savour each page, every word, the design-preferably with a decent beverage & silence. Maybe this is just me but this magazine is a treat and I bloomin' love it. Issue 19 has recently launched, starring Cindy Sherman-whose work I saw at the City Gallery in Wellington a few years back (so good). Also there archive of profiles online is worth casting your eyes over, here

The Crown 2.0: Me whenever I literally finish any TV series, "what next? The Crown, again?" This time though-it's more in anticipation for Season 3 because I think we are close. My prediction is it'll drop in July/August on Netflix and I cannot wait. More so to see Helena Bonham Carter & Olivia Colman as Margaret & Queen Elizabeth respectively. I mean, if you've been around this blog a while-you will know I love The Crown and it's such a treat to watch. The costuming+attention to detail in every sense as well=yass.

-What are you loving this May?

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beauty lust list '19, part one
5/05/2019

beauty lust list '19, part one



Ah beauty-sphere, it has been a hot minute hasn't it? To be honest, I don't wear a lot of makeup anymore. I mean when I do, it's almost eventful. How times change! Most days I just faff with a bit of concealer, maybe mascara/lash curler and gloss/a neutral lip. But I still love the ritualistic process of applying makeup, I still love seeing glittery eyeshadows and what brands are up to but I am not...religious about it. If that makes sense. Anyway, lately though I've been thinking about some things I want to repurchase-because I am one of those people now as well as some new (ish) bits I want to try out. A beauty lust list or 'things I want to get on pay day' spiel if you will...

Liquid Blush x NARS: I think Cloud Paint converted me to cream/liquid blush. Matte powders just look...flat to me now and I find myself wanting to up the shimmer or reach for a highlight. Anyway after seeing these on Fi's Instagram stories and having a cheeky swatch in store, I want one. So pretty!

Extended Play Perm Me Up Lash Mascara x MAC Cosmetics: The OG Extended Play is one of my favourite mascaras ever, so the fact there's a newbie with a bit of a lash lifting wand? Yes. Please. Get in my life. I mean, I am a bit nervous to try this because I love the original so much-irrational makeup lover problems or something but yeah-I see it, I like it, I want it. You get the gist.

Brushes x Zoeva: Zoeva brushes are the best and mine are well-loved so I just wanna replace some of the faves more than anything. Buffer brush and the various eye brushes, I will be coming for you. 

Eye Gels x Patchology: I was actually pretty sparing with the last set of these patches I had but I ran out and my eyes miss 'em. If only because they were just such a treat to use but also they brightened+hydrated the eye area like nobody's business. Um, maybe keep me away from Mecca on payday? Ha.

Cheek to Chic x Charlotte Tilbury: Pillow Talk is such an iconic CT shade-the lipstick is my favourite neutral and when she expanded the collection to include this blusher, among other things, my heart sang. I have never tried the Cheek To Chic blushers but this one looks stunning

-What is on your beauty lust list?
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April Wrap Up
4/28/2019

April Wrap Up



April and Autumn arrived with a flurry of changes, a bit of a "we are quarter of the way through 2019" existential crisis-just being honest here and thus things were a bit chaotic and busy but in the best kind of way. Though I definitely found myself reassessing self-care and the like midway through the month and I am glad I did. Anyway, you may have noticed my 'favourites' post has been given a bit of a makeover. Partly because the idea of just a post full of 'things' felt a bit gross, partly because I want to mix things up and try something new. Yeah, so April wrap-up, let's dive in...

Five Things I Loved:

*Spring x Ali Smith: Another blissful homage to all the things I love about Ali Smith's work. And one of my extremely generous friends sent me a signed copy which I am still not over. Read my musings about the book and Ali Smith's genius in general here

*Exfoliating Swipeys x Go-To: Who is surprised to see these here? Nobody? Thought so. I use these three times a week-as directed to give my skin a bit of a szush and a brighten. Unlike other acid products I have tried, these don't feel overly harsh or abrasive. In fact, they're incredibly gentle and a treat to use. Myself and my face love 'em.

*Lonely Lingerie: My love of Lonely lingerie is well documented around these parts. I love everything about the brand; from their inclusiveness when it comes to sizes, the diversity in their advertising+social media imagery, to the genuinely lovely experience of going in store to browse and purchase. Not to mention the quality of their garments and the care+detail in each piece. I've already decided I need some of their swimwear in my life next Summer. Anyway, recently I treated myself to the Maeve bra and Odette. Both quite different designs, both incredibly comfortable and supportive to wear. I think I'm going to get another colour of the Odette because it is that comfortable too.  

*The Act (limited series on Lightbox): Omg this series. Who remembers the viral Buzzfeed article about Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard? I remember reading it equal parts fascinated and horrified so when I saw that Hulu had made a new series re-enacting Gypsy and Dee Dee's story, the same feelings returned. The women are portrayed by Joey King and Patricia Arquette, the latter who is unrecognisable as Dee Dee and gives an incredible performance. The whole show is a psychological mind-maze and leaves you feeling uneasy and unnerved. I'm not going to lie. It's such a good watch though. I highly recommend it. 

*Love+Fear x Marina: Last year was the year of rediscovering Lana Del Rey and 2019 seems to be the year of rediscovering Marina, formerly Marina and the Diamonds. Her new double-album debuted in full this week and it is heaven. Handmade, ha I am so punny. I feel like this will be my new go-to at work when I want to zone out.

Five Good Things:

-Solo Outings: Long weekends are my fave because Auckland clears out and it's quiet and blissful everywhere. It's usually these times that I try to go a bit off the grid myself and I love it. So for my solo-date arvo I went to the Auckland Art Gallery and visited the Guerrilla Girls exhibit which I loved as well as Pacific Sisters. Both are free entry and well worth the look. The gallery is free to NZ citizens too, you just need ID to get in. I followed it with coffee+a bit of a Ponsonby Rd jaunt to acquire the latest The Gentlewoman and groceries (less exciting tbh) before heading back home. Utter. Utter. Bliss. 

-Between Two Books x Stylist Magazine: The lovely Leah, one of the co-founders at Between Two Books asked me if I wanted to share a book recommendation for this article and I was so honoured+excited to be included. To the point I sent screen-shots to people who were like "?? Sophie, risque book cover-I am confused". Anyway, I am still proud as punch to be a part of this so if you want to see my review, it's the one about Eve's Hollywood x Eve Babitz and you can read the whole article here.

-Reassessing Self Care: Ah self care, you really slipped to the backburner didn't you? And it showed. I always, always know now that if I don't prioritise this my mental wellbeing suffers. I become unsettled and tired and it gets ug-ly. So mid April I made some changes. I have pamper Sundays-that's just one thing. I've also reinstated daily (ish) diary writing. Ok some days it is just a bullet pointed list but I try to not dwell on it-so long as I write something. I've also been reading a lot because that also falls to the wayside when I am feeling 'eh' and going for walks and talking to the professionals, well professional. Yep.

-Meeting Zoe Foster Blake and trying all the Go-To bits: I've already yammered on about Go-To's arrival in NZ but when the email came through about an in-store event celebrating the brand and bringing skincare queen+writing wordstress Zoe, I was in. Side note: Zoe is just as lovely and sparkly and perfect-complexiony in real life. It was a good evening w/ my girl Lucie-who also let my disorganised self raid her makeup bag. Thanks Luce, you are the MVP. I also got to hang out in the Beauty Lab and try all the Go-To things. Well, most of 'em. I particularly loved the Face Hero and the Very Useful Face Cream. 

-Music: I'm about to sound like a right luddite but my new phone plan came with free Spotify Premium, which I used to have ages ago and my god. Game. Changer. I am sure 99% of my phone usage now is Spotify. Go ahead, laugh at me. I have two playlists of my own I rotate fairly heavily but I also dabble in whatever the heck I fancy and whatever my friends recommend to me. New discovery: Two Door Cinema Club. I love 'em. Also loving all the throwback 00's music playlists-for the memories and the cringe-inducing moments c/o my tra$h tastes. I love it basically. 



Books I Read In April:

/ Daisy Jones & The Six** x Taylor Jenkins Reid, review here.

/ Spring x Ali Smith, as above.

/ Notes To Self x Emilie Pine: Gut-wrenching, honest and incredibly enlighening prose. Read it and prepare to weep. In the best way.

/ The Audience x Peter Morgan: I don't read plays all that often but I wanted to read this one so I could decide if I should go see this at the ASB Theatre here in Auckland. I am a major The Crown fangirl and noticed that some of the dialogue from this play closely mirrors scenes shown in the series. Particularly exchanges between Churchill and the Queen. Anyway, now I want to see this so fingers crossed I can make it happen.

/ Three Poems x Hannah Sullivan: What is it with me and reading books that are emotionally heavy? These poems made me cry. Dang it Sullivan. In all seriousness-read, beautiful work.

/ The Built Moment x Lavinia Greenlaw: A volume that deals with loss and grief and rebuilding. Exquisitely written, as is the norm with Lavinia Greenlaw. I love her writing. 

-What have you loved during April?

**Review Copy


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Spring in Translation
4/24/2019

Spring in Translation



Ali Smith's seasonal quartet is slowly taking full shape. Ideas are fleshed out, twisted and prised wide open. Covers standing vibrant in all their David Hockney gloriousness. 

Spring, the paperback was pressed into my hands. It promised to bring change and contemplation. Renewal and reformation. It is never lost on me that the seasonal quartet will always starkly contradict whatever is reflected season-wise here in New Zealand. I read Winter in the height of Summer, pages warped by the sun, for example. Spring was read in the early stages of Autumn. It will remind me of early mornings on the way to work. The sun beginning to rise and me trying+sometimes failing to keep my eyes open. 

It is a book further considering loss and political climates and art and the 'radiant disruptors' as Olivia Laing so aptly puts it. It pays homage to Katherine Mansfield, the "little savage", Charlie Chaplin, Rilke, Tacita Dean, among others. Florence Welch even receives a subtle nod. Cue me photographing said passage and excitedly sharing it around. 

It makes sense to have read Spring alongside a book about literary translation. Mining texts for meaning, ideas and repeated motifs. Smith's seasonal quartet reflects the seasons in the time we presently live in. They leave us to mull over the here and now but moreover what they represent thematically in Smith's literature. For her characters, real and imagined. Moreover, the seasonal framework naturally wraps itself around the recurring themes and motifs throughout Ali's work.

And maybe unearthing meaning in the pages of my books is the new mood. I will keep you posted.

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