Rockett St George: website wonders

I should be banned from the internet.

No, really, there needs to be a block on my computer that stops me from going to any website that has a function where I can BUY anything. Anything at all. I am that broke and the wonderful thing about the internet is, unlike the current state of the high street, you can find lots and lots of little independent shops that sell all sorts of WONDERFUL things.

Case in point: Rockett St George. I’ve been aware of this site for a very long time, I think I heard of them not long after they opened four and a half years ago. One of the reasons they were mentioned in a lot of magazines is that they were one of the first people to stock wall stickers. Whilst now wall stickers are stocked here, there and everywhere, there was a time when they were actually quite scarce.

Rockett St George still stock wall stickers although I will confess that I far prefer their wallpaper range. Selected from a number of small independent designers, the designs are different and quirky and some of them are worlds away from what you normally think of as “wallpaper”. Personally I love the Barneby Gates All Star wallpaper in gun metal and almost all of the Engineer Collection. The Engineer Collection papers come in a selection of patterns so you can put corrugated iron, wood panelling or even an entire library on your walls without sacrificing any space.

Rockett St George wallpaper

Their lighting collection is also rather amazing as there is something for everyone. For the girly girl there is a fabulous feathered shade for a ceiling pendant, ideal for a teenage girl, or the teenage girl in all of us! For the boys, there is a chandelier that any man can be proud of. It’s made of beer bottles. Alas, they’re empty so you don’t get a ready supply of beer but it will certainly give you a talking point. And if you just love all things a bit quirky there is a range of lights made out of bowler and top hats, lined in either silver or gold metal to reflect the light. Call it an ironic way to light up a dressing room!

Rockett St George lighting

As for everything else, it’s all amazing. There is some wonderful industrial style furniture which is new in this spring, including a bookshelf with a ladder. There are some fantastic pieces of artwork, typically my favourite is one of the most expensive, a heart on a canvas made entirely of badges. And a black decanter with a skull and crossbones on it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “what’s your poison?”

And how can you not love a website that offers the tiniest, prettiest caravan in the history of the world for sale?

Rockett St George furniture,caravan sunflower clock

All in all, Rockett St George is achingly cool and whilst unfortunately the prices do reflect that a bit, there is something there for everyone. So go on, have a look. I defy you not to find at least one thing to put on the wishlist!

What’s your favourite Rockett St George item? Please let me know, I’m addicted!

Average Josephine x

Naked

How do you feel when you look in the mirror? And that would be before you have a chance to put your make-up on. Are you happy with what you see?

For a lot of women, the act of putting on make-up is not merely an act of embellishing their natural beauty but a necessary mask to protect themselves against the world. They see themselves as being inadequate and unattractive without it. In fact a recent study showed that almost half of the women surveyed have negative feelings about how they look without make-up.

I love make-up and whilst I do feel prettier when wearing it, I will admit that I’m lucky if I actually manage to get some on most mornings. My view is that I get precious little enough sleep so if I can get another five minutes in the morning and sacrifice the make-up, so be it! I have been known to put it on sitting in traffic jams before now (not recommended) but as a general rule, I can’t bothered.

I am lucky though in that whilst I have the occasional random spot, I basically have very good skin. As long as I cleanse it in the evening and make sure to slap masses of moisturiser on it, it stays on a relatively even keel until my hormones start butting in. That said, if I had more issues with my skin, I’m sure that I would be ladling on the foundation and concealer like there was no tomorrow.

But when did women go from seeing make-up as an exciting luxury to an absolute necessity? As much as I seem to spend my life blaming the media, I do think that they have a certain responsibility. We are bombarded by images of celebrities that have been airbrushed into perfection. There are new foundations being brought out every week (or so it feels), offering light-reflecting particles, liquid light, better coverage, etc, etc… Is the implication that anything is an improvement on our own skin?

I know people who feel compelled to reapply their make-up (on top of their existing make-up) two or three times a day, making sure it looks “perfect”. I’ve read articles about people who will wear make-up to bed so their partner never sees them without concealer or mascara. Are they really so scared that someone might see beneath the make-up, beneath the mask that so many women wear? What made us all so scared to be seen?

I think it is a bit of a sad statement on the human condition that in this time of alleged freedom for women and equality so many of us feel compelled to hide our faces from the world, that we feel shamed by how we really look. I don’t know how we got here. I don’t know why we got here. I do think that we all need to become more comfortable with the skin we live in and our true faces, before we add the make-up. They are the only one we have and by not accepting that image in the mirror, we deny who we truly are. And if we cannot accept who we are, how can we really accept anyone else?

Are you a die-hard make-up wearer who would never be seen without having put at least foundation and mascara on? Or are you more like me, happy to wear it but equally happy when you don’t?

Average Josephine x

Taking a battering

What many people don’t know about me is that my blog isn’t the first thing I’ve tried writing. When I was younger I was a voracious writer. By the age of fifteen I’d written two stories which were long enough to be described as books. Don’t get me wrong, they were melodramatic crap (I was a teenager, enough said), but to have written that sheer volume of words is, in my book, pretty impressive. All I wanted to do was to be a writer, to be able to spend my life moulding words for a living.

But as I got older and the pressures of life and the prospect of having to get a “real job” loomed, my writing was the one thing that fell by the wayside. A lot of it was due to the fact that as my poor depressed brain got sicker and sicker, my confidence dropped lower and lower until I had so little faith in myself as a person, let alone as a writer, I couldn’t face this thing I loved becoming one more thing I failed at.

And then nearly half a lifetime later, I discovered Twitter and through that the world of blogging. It took a couple of false starts before I started this blog and although it doesn’t have the biggest readership in the world, I am so grateful for each reader and each comment I get. I might never reach my dream of being a professional writer but having an outlet and a way to express myself is invaluable.

So when nearly two weeks ago, someone accused me of stealing copy for having offered to blog for a brand they had already covered (despite the fact that it was for a new and totally different product) and responding to two Twitter-wide tweets for bloggers, the little confidence I had gained was pretty much obliterated.

But the thing I have come to realise is that when faced with such baseless accusations, it shows much more about the person making the accusation than it does about you. Whether this blogger was worried that she’d lifted some copy or just generally insecure and worried that another blogger might produce a better post than her on a similar subject, I don’t know but unless someone has lifted copy directly from your blog, my vote would be to not accuse people, especially when you’re not aware of all the facts. It creates a lot of bad feeling and could do long-term damage to your credibility as a blogger.

As for me, I’m still very hurt, angry and upset. I’m even more upset that the issue has caused some serious damage to a long-term friendship which may well be irreparable. I’m not the sort of person to have a million and one friends so to have one take our friendship so lightly is something that hurts immensely. And the blogger? Well, time will tell what happens but it’s one time I really hope that Lady Gaga was right:

Lady Gaga "Karma" quote

Average Josephine x

Forgiven and forgotten?

When Sam Baker, the editor of Red Magazine, retweeted a Huffington Post article on Friday, I could have thrown something. Considering I was holding my phone and a cup of tea, neither would have ended well.  It took me a while to be able to write a rational post about it or I would have had this up sooner.  I wasn’t upset at the retweet but the subject of the article: Rihanna and her reported decision to feature Chris Brown in a remix of her upccoming single, “Birthday Cake”, after she invited him to her birthday party and he asked all the guests to sign confidentiality waivers.

There are so many things wrong with this situation that I almost don’t know where to start. This is the Chris Brown that she pressed charges against for an assault that left her battered and bruised. If anyone thinks that it wasn’t that serious then please read this police report and see whether you think it’s serious enough to warrant prosecution.

Many people have said that Brown should be forgiven for his actions and allowed to live his life as he wishes and that if Rihanna has forgiven him then why can’t the rest of the world? But it isn’t that simple, for so many reasons.

If Brown had been truly remorseful then that would be one thing although I don’t think anyone should have been having perform at a major music event (yes, Grammys, I would be referring to you) until he had fulfilled the terms of his sentence and his probation was completed in August 2014. He still has a long way to go. But when you consider that he doesn’t appear to have changed, why should he be forgiven? To be forgiven in my world, you need to have shown true remorse, to have changed the things that caused you to react that way in the first place. Brown doesn’t appear to have changed at all. When asked on “Good Morning, America” about the incident with Rihanna he commented that it wasn’t really a big deal anymore but followed it up by smashing the window of his dressing room and storming, shirtless, out of the building. When some singers and actors tweeted their distaste that Brown had been asked to perform at the Grammys, Brown retaliated by tweeting “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!“. Whilst the tweet was later deleted (I suspect his management threw a tantrum about his image or similar) it does demonstrate that this is still a highly volatile individual.

Chris Brown tweet Grammy win

Chris Brown's 'celebratory' tweet after his Grammy win

As for Rihanna, I am worried about the effect of her actions. One of the problems with domestic violence is that as well as being physically damaging, the abuser often emotionally abuses their partner to the extent that they believe that they are completely unloveable and no-one other than this person who beats them could ever love them. Rihanna, as much as she may not want to be, has become an example to women of how to deal with a man who beats them. She went straight to the police and pressed charges even though that meant this highly personal and probably highly embarassing incident being dragged into the spotlight. She did the thing that so many women cannot do: she left.

So for her to go back, to allow someone who did this to her back into her life, Rihanna is sending out the wrong message: that it is safe to let these men back into your life. For so many women, it turns out to be the last thing they do.

I understand that one incident, even one so appalling as what Chris Brown put Rihanna through cannot necessarily destroy the love between two people. I understand that she may have forgiven him and considering they work in the same industry, it must be nigh on impossible for her to avoid him. But no matter how much she may love him or want to forgive him, she owes it to herself, and every other woman in the same position, to stay away.

Could you ever forgive a man who beat you up how Chris Brown did? And do you think he deserves forgiveness?

Average Josephine x

Papered over

As I have mentioned before, I am moving back to my lovely little two bedroom flat after an extended stay with my parents (three years… rather too extended). And as I have been away for so long, and when I was there I was rather losing my marbles, I’m embarking on a project.

I’m redecorating my whole flat.

This project is going to take me a while as when there’s only one of you there is a limit as to how much you can get done in a weekend and also, I can’t quite afford to do the whole lot all in one go! So month by month I’m going to do bits and pieces and you will be able to see how it is going.

One of the most fun bits about redcorating is the hours you can spend, poring over paint charts and wallpaper samples. There is so much out there from the weird (do you want holographic pin up girls greeting you first thing in the morning?) to the fun and the frankly rather fabulous. I often think I should be locked in a padded room and with this wallpaper I can be, what more do you want?!

But I will confess to falling in love with a Farrow and Ball wallpaper called Lotus but unfortunately as F&B print to order, they have a minimum order quantity of 3 rolls of paper. As I think I’m only going to need one roll and this paper does cost a whopping £88 per roll, I might have to give it a pass on this occasion!

So in its place I have managed to find a couple of other wallpapers which I do love but are slightly less ruinously expensive! None of them are from anywhere exciting (Laura Ashley and John Lewis) but they go with the furniture and curtains and would do just enough to perk up my office.

'Coco' wallpaper from Laura Ashley

'Coco' wallpaper from Laura Ashley

'Gardenia' wallpaper by Harlequin

'Gardenia' wallpaper by Harlequin

There is the small issue that I will need to learn to hang wallpaper in order to do this but hey, how hard can it be?!
I’m really looking forward to my redecorating as it will give me a chance to turn a place where I was so miserable into somewhere I love living as well as giving me back the independence I have lacked for so long.
So, which wallpaper do you prefer? Or have you seen any others I might like? I’m open to suggestions!
Average Josephine x

Heaven in a tin

When I saw Bangs and a Bun tweeting about how boring eating right for her Berlin half-marathon training can be and how she wanted toast cereal and cake, my way forward was clear.

Whilst it might not contain toast, there was only one thing that would solve Bangs’ problem: the ultimate Rice Krispie cake.

The recipe for this is something that I have been making for years, in fact my Mum used to make it to sell it at school fêtes and bake sales. I believe it originally came from a copy of Family Circle (although any paper copy of the recipe has long since disappeared) although when I have no idea and we now make it from memory as luckily the quantities and ingredients are ridiculously easy to remember.

All you need is:

  • 100g butter
  • 100g toffee
  • 100g marshmallows
  • 200g rice krispies

See, ridiculously easy to remember and also incredibly easy to increase or decrease as you need although I wouldn’t recommend making it in batches with more than 400g rice krispies as the volume becomes a little problematic!

All you need to do is put the butter, toffee and marshmallows into a big (and I mean big, you need to be able to fit the rice kripsies in there as well) saucepan and place over a low heat and let everything melt. It seems like it will never melt and come together but just be patient. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up, the toffee and marshmallows are essentially pure sugar and they will burn. Stir periodically to make sure nothing sticks to the base of the pan and burns as well.

rice krispie cake mix

Once everything has melted you should have this slightly fluffy, pale toffee coloured mixture. Take this off the heat and pour in the rice krispies. Stir the rice krispies into the melted goo (it really is goo, there’s no other way to describe it) and don’t worry about the fact you can hear some of them go snap, crackle and pop. Enough will remain whole and the goo really will cover all the krispies, even though it might not seem like it when you first start mixing.

Once everything is mixed in, pour into a greaseproof paper lined tin. The size of the tin depends on how thick you want your rice krispie cake, it really doesn’t matter that much! Now try and wait for it to cool and set before you eat it… And if you can wait, you are a much, much stronger person than me!

Enjoy….

Average Josephine x

Domestic Sluttery

To my mind there are two types of women: the domestic goddesses (and not in the tongue in cheek Nigella sort of domestic goddess sense) and those who believe that only dull women have immaculate houses…

I am the latter and the phrase “domestic sluttery” was designed for women like me. Luckily though, there is a website by the same name and Domestic Sluttery is in a league of its own.

Subtitled “the home and lifestyle blog for women who have better things to do” this site has a bit of everything and as such appeals to pretty much everyone. There are some regular posts, including “the boy and his poison” which, normally posted on a Friday, are a good start to the weekend as they often include a rather funky, and probably pretty lethal, cocktail recipe.

The site has a number of writers which means there is always something new to read and as they all have subtly different styles there is no risk of suffering from overload.

Domestic Sluttery has also gone mainstream with an eponymously titled book having been released on 1 November last year. It seems to be pretty popular as well, currently ranked 11 in Amazon’s Style and Decor category. Having flicked through the book before I gave it to a friend as a Christmas present, I can attest that it is just as good as the blog and well worth the price tag of £14.99 (or £8.49 if you shop on Amazon).

Domestic Sluttery

Domestic Sluttery

So if you haven’t checked out the blog, it’s well worth a look, although beware, it is addicitive and you can spend some serious time reading their wonderful and slightly sarcastic posts.

What are your favourite websites and blogs? Let me know in the comments box and I’ll try and review one next week!

Average Josephine