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I Read the F*@#ing Books | The Help

I read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help a few months ago having received a free Kindle download. I have to say I wasn’t that interested in it. I had heard a lot about the book since the 2011 film adaptation directed by Tate Taylor after it gained a lot of Oscar buzz but I didn’t watch the film and it took me a long time to get round to reading the book. Having rectified this, I want to share my thoughts on both of them.

The Help is set in 1960s Mississippi. The book is told from three women’s perspectives: Aibileen, her good friend Minnie and Skeeter. Aibileen and Minnie are both black maids working in the households of Skeeter’s (a white woman) friends. Aibileen is smart, well-read and respected by her community. She left school at a young age due to the need to earn but keeps up with her writing at which she is quite talented. Minnie is the firecracker of the pair, she has been fired from numerous jobs for talking back to her employers, but the one person she doesn’t stand up to is her abusive husband. Having just returned home from college, Skeeter begins to see the way in which her friends and her community treat their employees and decides to enlist the help of Aibileen and Minnie to publish a collection of their stories, exposing the true experience of ‘the Help’.

The film is very true to the book in events, characterisation and sequence. There are a few minor changes that I do think matter. I read the book first and my main criticism of it was that it seemed very sanitised. Terrible things happened, such as the enforcement of the rule that the maids had to use toilets outside, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of anger about it. Only one of the maids, Gretchen, was angry at Skeeter’s privileged position and this resulted in Aibileen telling Gretchen to leave her house. This was removed from the film. I think that’s a shame because it showed the reality of tension between the communities. For the most part The Help sticks rigidly to the idea that if you’re a ‘good’ person you’ll get along with anyone which to be frank, for the time it was set, seems a bit rose-tinted to say the least.

Another thing that irked me about the film was that I felt like Aibileen’s intelligence was dumbed down. She is a kind, nurturing woman, but she is also shown to be fiercely smart in the novel. One of the most famous lines in the film is the whole “you is kind, you is smart, you is important”, but Aibileen doesn’t say this in the book, she says “you are kind” because she has a strong grasp of language! It’s such a small detail but it seems like they were trying to make her seem less well read, more provincial even for no reason.

I guess the biggest criticism of The Help is that it is attempting to be the true story of black women in America in the 60s, but it is written by a white woman. Incidentally, a white woman who grew up with black maids. Of course she is going to have a certain bias. Even more disappointing is that the film is directed by a white man. The result is a perfectly pleasant book and film, but don’t assume that you’re going to get anything close to a historically accurate representation of black women’s experiences. The cast of the film is terrific but it’s such a shame that their source material was so weak. This was a cast that could has dealt with BIG issues with grace and integrity but instead they’ve produced a film that just pays lip service to the era.

Neither the book nor the film were my cup of tea, plus they’re so similar that I don’t think one is better than the other. If I had to, I’d say the book is superior due to the extra depth it gives Aibileen. I realise this might be quite controversial because it both are very popular, but I’d honestly say just skip both.

What did you think of The Help?

 

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A Little Boots Makeup Haul

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I was very recently doing my makeup when I realised that my eyebrows were looking weird. They’d start off ok but then by the time my eyebrow gel dried down they’d take on a milky look. I thought maybe it was just because my chosen product was crap, but on closer inspection it turned out that nope, it was just me that was crap. I bought a coloured gel for blondes. And this is the problem not being able to wear your glasses when you’re doing your makeup. I can’t bloody see!

Anyway, the point of this ramble was that I needed to go to Boots. For one thing. So obviously I bought seven things. Not a huge haul but I thought I’d share what I got anyway.

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The fist thing I got was Rimmel’s Brow This Way brow styling gel in ‘Dark Brown’ aka the actual colour of my eyebrows. I really like this, it adds a bit of colour and definition and holds everything in place without getting too crispy. I also like the tapered brush, it’s not the smallest but neither are my brows so it works for me.

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Boots have a few deals on just now, either 3 for 2 (like on Revlon) or buy one get second item half price (on Rimmel, Maybelline etc) so it’s a good time to pick up some of your essentials. This is how I’m justifying the rest of the items I bought anyway…

The second item I picked up was this Rimmel Kate Eyeshadow Stick in the shade ‘Rose Gold’. Rose gold aka copper. I love copper eyeshadow, it looks great with blue eyes so I’m sure this will become a go-to. It’s metallic and super intense on one swipe but also easy to blend out with a pinkie finger.

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From Maybelline I bought one of the Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in the colour  ‘Red Essential’. This is super pigmented and really creamy so although it is a pencil you still have to be careful when applying it.

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Here’s a swatch of both the lip and eye pencil, both are really high quality and I’m very pleased with them.

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I also finally got myself the Maybelline The Eraser Eye concealer. I got the shade ‘Light’, it’s slightly warm for my skin but it’s totally fine when it’s blended out.

Finally I picked up three of the Revlon Colorstay Shadowlinks. These are small individual eyeshadows that you can pick and mix to create your perfect ‘palette’. I got the shades ‘Sand’ (a pearl finish), ‘Copper’ (metallic) and ‘Cocoa’ (a satin finish). My reasoning behind this was that they are so dinky I thought I could just chuck them in my makeup bag for using at work. I didn’t swath them in store and I wish I had because they don’t actually seem that great. They’re a bit gritty and not that pigmented. ‘Cocoa’ is probably the best but ‘Sand’ really sucks. I’ll give them a fair go though, they might turn out to be fine. I’ll report back.

What have you been buying at the drugstore recently?

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Obsessing Over Enamel Pins

Recently my Instagram and Etsy has been awash with enamel pins. My thought process was thus: ‘I should do a blog post on all these awesome pins’… ‘Oh shit, A Beautiful Mess has done it now’…’Ach well, I’m gonna anyway.’ Yeah. So I thought I would just share the ones that are currently sat on my Etsy favourites list. These are all shops based in the UK, there are awesome shops all over the world with good shipping policies, but shop local and all that.

Axolotl by Hannah Hitchman | Middle Finger by Jolly Awesome | Don’t be a Dick by Veronica Dearly | Drive In Movies by Hand Over Your Fairy CakesHeart and Brain Set by Rock Cakes | Pretzel by Peas and Needles | UFO by Sugar and ViceGummi Venus De Milo by Mike McCabe | Diamond Terrarium by Finest Imaginary | Majestic as Fuck Unicorn by Punky Pins

These are all priced from £5 to £15 (for the two pin set) so a super affordable way to pick up some fun finishing touches. I feel a collection coming on…

Here is the link to the A Beautiful Mess pin posts if, like me, you just can’t get enough.

Drop any links to your favourite pins/shop in the comments please!

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Book Review | The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

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Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has become somewhat of an international sensation. She is a professional ‘tidier’ based in Tokyo where she helps all kinds of clients declutter, tidy and organise their homes using her own ‘KonMari’ Method. This book talks you through the KonMari Method, so you too can experience the success that Marie’s clients have.

It has to be said, the title is a little silly (life-changing magic, really?!) and some of the client success stories that she starts with are a bit much so I was pretty cynical when I first began reading it. However, Marie’s genuine personality does start to come through as you continue reading and she just seems to sincere and lovely that I really did change my mind. Marie is so convinced that having a tidy home equates to a tidy mind and her enthusiasm really cuts through all the crap that it is hard not to find yourself agreeing with her.

In a nutshell, the KonMari Method is based around decluttering and organising by category rather than location. For instance, clothes, paperwork, books. Marie sets out the optimal order for doing this so that  you begin by discarding items that are relatively easy to let go of and leave more meaningful or sentimental items for later. You have to do everything in the one go so pull all of your clothes out of the wardrobe, drawers etc. gather them together and look at each item. You have to do this for every item in your house and only keep items that ‘spark joy’. Once you have purged your home completely you have to find a place for everything and then your home will be permanently tidy.

This sounds extreme, but actually there is a lot of sense in it. For example, if you have beauty products in your dresser, plus your bedside cabinet, plus your handbag, plus the bathroom… do you really know how much you have? In terms of asking if something sparks joy… I think this can be taken with a pinch of salt. If you’re not a cleaning junkie it’s unlikely that your collection of household cleaning product will spark joy but you might want to hang on to it. But it is worth asking if you actually like  some of the stuff you’ve been hanging on to. Marie points out that a lot of people hang on to gifts purely out of guilt, but actually the purpose of the gift was to receive it – you understand that the person giving it to you did so out of love, generosity and kindness and you appreciate that, but you shouldn’t hang on to something that now makes you feel bad. Also, Marie is not as harsh as she first seems, if something is silly, weird or even not used regularly but you love it, you should keep it.

I think that some of the more earnest/cheesy phrases are possibly down to too literal a translation from Japanese plus a bit of difference in our two cultures (i.e. literally thanking your handbag?!) but overall this book is not half as ridiculous as I had expected. In fact, I would say that if you’re already thinking about your spring cleaning, definitely give this a read first as I’m sure there will be at least a few tips in there that will really speak to you.

When I start packing for moving house I will 100% be remembering Marie’s words to help me reduce the clutter in my new place. I’ve also just discovered that there are a bunch of YouTube videos where Marie demonstrates her folding technique for clothes so I will for sure be checking those out!

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying? What did you make of it?

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Urban Decay X Gwen Stefani | The Lipsticks

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Last week I posted about Urban Decay’s collaboration with Gwen Stefani to release her go-to eyeshadow palette. They will soon be expanding the line to include eight lipsticks, lipliners, a blush palette and a brow box. When you purchase the eyeshadow palette you will receive a sample card with four of the lipsticks to try so I though I would share the swatches today. I think Gwen is more known for her signature bold lip than her eye looks so this is the part of the collection I think that most people will be excited about.

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Included in the sample is a range of finishes and a couple which are sure to be the bestsellers. Also, the design of the packaging of the actual lipstick is glorious. I’ve not seen it in person yet so I don’t know what the quality will be like but I love the black and gold design. Definitely display-worthy.

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From left to right we have: ‘Firebird’ a pink with a strong blue undertone which makes it appear purple in the bullet but not on the lips; ‘Ex-Girlfriend’, a sheer nude wash; ‘714’, a true red matte and lastly, ‘Rock Steady’ looks like a dark red but swatches up pretty pink, definitely one that will be very versatile depending on how you apply it.

It’s lucky that UD will be releasing the matching lip liners with these as they are all (with the exception of ‘Ex-Girlfriend’) very pigmented and will need the precise application a liner can help with. The cream formula of ‘Firebird’ and ‘Rock Steady’ is lovely, very comfortable to wear but definitely presents a risk of bleeding so I would say a lip liner will be a must with at least the cream formulas in this range.

I don’t usually wear mattes as I have horrendously dry lips so I was a bit scared of the mega matte ‘714’. However, I must have been having a good lip day as actually I really liked it. It did feel very dry and is tricky to apply (especially if like me you don’t wear a lot of mattes) but it is super opaque and somehow doesn’t accentuate flaws.

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‘Ex-Girlfriend’ is probably my favourite of these four and one that I would wear often. You can also see from the above that one light coat of ‘Rock Steady’ gives a very pink-toned red.

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Also in the collection will be three more cream formulas: ‘Spiderweb’ (a mid-toned red); ‘Wonderland’ (a dark reddish pink) and ‘Phone Call’ (mid-toned bubblegum pink). There will also be one more sheer formula – ‘Plaid’ is a deep berry which I’m assuming will also pull quite pink.

The UK release date is this Thursday 21st Jan on the Urban Decay website (they’re already out/sold out in the States) and you can sign up to be notified of the release here. I’ve not seen any prices yet but I’m assuming that both the lipstick and the pencil will be in the £15-£20 each mark.

I’ve got my eye on ‘Ex-Girlfriend’ and I think either ‘Plaid’ or ‘Spiderweb’. Do any take your fancy?

Bath Bridge

Bathroom Inspiration

I’ve mentioned it in passing on this blog before, but me and David are buying a house this year. Soon. Imminently in fact, pending certain solicitors doing their jobs. The very first thing we’ll be doing when we finally get the keys is completely replacing the bathroom. It’s liveable in the state it’s in now but only just. It’s got a pretty gross carpet in there (why?) and cork tiles underneath that: double gross. So I’ve been pinning away and I thought I’d share the kind of look I’m going for. We’ll see in a month or so whether I manage to achieve it!

All images linked via Pinterest

The look I’m coveting is the very popular subway tile look with Victorian style patterned floor tiles. I like the dark grout look against the white subway tiles but the other half is not a fan so I think we’ll go for the white. I do also love the dark paint, but I need to see what the natural light in the bathroom is like – I haven’t seen it since the start of October!

For the fittings I am looking for smooth lines, no mouldings, no knobbly bits. I do like the look of traditional cross-top taps, but they are a pain to clean. So ease of cleaning is top of the list of requirements. I also want to incorporate wood with a bath bridge, duckboard and possibly a cabinet and I also want to include lots of green leafy plants.

We’re on a bit of a budget so I’ll be scouring the web for good deals (gutted it looks like we’re going to be missing the January sales), but if you know of any supplier that are reasonably priced please, please let me know!

I Like Cats Notebook

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I promise this feature won’t take you to spam, it’s just a fortnightly round up of my favourite stuff I’ve seen on the internets…

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A6 Notebook by ilikeCATS

I love the above Etsy shop for all kinds of sassy cats – on pins, cards, t-shirts, you name it. I’ve also been trying to follow along with @tobyilikecats‘ drawing a day challenge #yayeveryday. Having mixed success with that, but I’m enjoying at least thinking about drawing.

The big news stories this week were sadly the untimely deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I’ll admit, I’m a total cynic and adverse to massively public outpourings of grief but this article by Sali Hughes on why she is sick of the ‘grief police’ made me think. I’d never be as harsh as the people she describes but I will admit to an (internal) eyeroll in the past. Bowie and Rickman weren’t my personal heroes but OK, I can relate, there are some celebrities that I imagine I’ll need a day of work to cope with. (Not saying in case jinxes are real).

Speaking of being a cynic, this post by Bee Waits For No One on why everyone can have a Positive Mental Attitude is another eye opener. #inspiring

This is an old one, but new to me. After the news that Winds of Winter will definitely not be released before season 6 of Game of Thrones, here’s a timely reminder from Neil Gaiman that George R R Martin is not your bitch. So stop whinging about spoilers. 

Gemma from Lipstick and Lashes has brought back her Bloggers Snail Mail. I love snail mail/postcard/ gift swaps for getting to know people and er.. an excuse to shop so I’ll definitely be signing up.

The Oscar nominations are out and were greeted with the usual excitement/jeers/overuse of the word ‘snub’. The Revenant  is tipped as the one to watch but I’m personally much more excited about Room. In other  awards season fun, make sure you vote for your Rising Star at the BAFTA’s. John Boyega for the win.

Happy Saturday chaps!