Not-So-Winter-Wonderland

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I grew up a born-and-bred Territory girl, in a place where ‘cold’ meant 25°c and ‘winter’ involved beautifully sunny days and slightly chilly nights. When I decided to go to University in Melbourne, I was completely unprepared for an actual winter. The only warm items of clothing I owned were a pair of jeans and a hoodie, and my thoughts of winter revolved around wood fires and ice-skating. I am now in the middle of my third Melbourne winter, and I have decided that I absolutely and completely hate winter! When I went home for the mid-year holidays this year, I was reminded of how much I love being warm. I also broke my hatred of winter into a few specific categories, which I thought I would share with you today.

Winter Dressing
When I came to Melbourne, I had a rather romantic vision of what dressing for winter would be like. I saw myself frolicking around in pretty coats and lovely boots, occasionally accessorising with adorable hats and scarves. Now don’t get me wrong, there are days when this actually happens. I have fallen in love with various different hats, and I love my port-wine coloured coat with its beautiful shiny buttons. But 5 days out of 7, I find winter dressing to be nothing more than a hassle. Things weren’t too bad in first and second year, but this year I spend 5 days a week on placement at a hospital, where ‘clinically appropriate’ clothing is required at all times. This means no hoodies, no jeans, and no massive fluffy jackets that you can bury yourself in while you watch a lecture. Instead, I am constantly running out of clean tights (note to self – buy more tights), and trying to think of new ways to layer my limited collection of ‘professional’ clothing so that I don’t freeze to death. While I am slowly getting the hang of winter dressing, I still feel a pang of sadness whenever I see my denim shorts sitting forlornly in my wardrobe, and I am desperately looking forward to the days where I can wear a dress without three other layers.

The Lack of Sunshine
I think one of the things I have found hardest during winter is going days without any actual sunlight. On the rare days that it does get cold in Darwin, the sky is still bright blue with fluffy white clouds, and you can always find a patch of sunlight to bask in. One of the reasons I find the lack of sunshine so hard to cope with is the effect it has on my mood. I suffer from Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (both currently relatively under control – yay!), and I always notice a definite dip in my mood, and a definite increase in my anxiety levels, when the days are a uniform shade of gray. When my depression and anxiety are playing up I will get very tired very easily, and it is particularly hard to pick myself up and get on with things when it is pitch black at 6pm. My body is very much of the opinion that when it is dark outside the day should be coming to an end, which makes being productive and getting things done rather difficult.

The Rain
In Darwin, when it is cold, it is also dry. I had very rarely experienced being cold and wet at the same time, and I am still have no idea how to deal with it! I have gotten better over the last two years – I learnt that ballet flats are not appropriate shoes to wear in winter, and finally got into the habit of always having an umbrella – but I still find it so hard to adapt to being both cold and wet. I find it particularly hard because the rain is so miserable. In Darwin, we get incredible thunderstorms, and the rain always brings this incredible smell of grass and fresh earth and green things. In Melbourne, we get day-long mists of cold rain, and the only smell is wet. Wet coats, wet hair, wet shoes. Everything gets so wet! And don’t even get me started on trying to do washing in winter – waiting three days for my jeans to dry is something I can rant about for hours.

The Strategies
I can whine and moan as much as I want about the weather (and I do), but I still have another two and a half year before I finish my degree (yay for being half way!), and as much as I hate the weather, I just have to put up with it. I have developed a number of strategies for coping with winter, ranging from my favourite new coat to endless cups of hot chocolate. I have some wonderful Peter Alexander flannelette pyjamas that make getting up at 6am much easier, and a few weeks ago I finally caved in and bought my first pair of track pants. They are so warm and fluffy, and when they are tucked into my fluffy boots, they are absolutely wonderful! I have found that it is the little things that make a big different when it comes to brightening up my winters, and hopefully these little things will see me through to the other side. A side full of sunshine and flowers and colour! I hope you enjoyed reading this little ramble, and that winter isn’t treating you too badly (if you live on the other side of the world and are enjoying being warm – I am insanely jealous). At least there are only a few months to go!

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I Made A Thing!

Ever since I was a child, I have known my mother could sew and have wanted to learn. Mum was sewing when she was a child on my grandmother’s Singer, and mum made me wonderful clothes and costumes when I was little. I took sewing classes when I was younger, but the lessons weren’t quite what I had hoped. I wanted to learn how to read a pattern; how to make alterations and sew a zipper. I decided it was time that I learn how to sew again, and while I was home mum took it upon herself to teach me!

My sewing adventures started with a very excited trip to Spotlight, the haberdashery megastore. We rifled through pattern book after pattern book, and finally settled on a Vogue pattern for a knee length black skirt made out of a lovely black cotton. My lessons started as a language lesson; patterns are written in a language of their own, and mum had to teach me what the various squiggles and dots meant. The skirt is very full, so there was a lot of material that had to be cut. Figuring out what “the right side of the fabric” meant was one thing; trying to figure out which of the two nearly-identical sides was the right one was another matter!

After some fiddling with the sewing machine, which is old and rather uncooperative, the actual sewing commenced! Things went surprisingly smoothly much of the time, and when things were going well I found the sewing to be wonderfully relaxing. I love the sound of the sewing macing as it pounds away, and it makes me feel rather like a stylish young thing from the 1950’s making something special for myself!

As much as I enjoyed the sewing, I have to admit I found it hard at times. Perfectionism and an abundance of self criticism led to some extreme bouts of annoyance, but I got through them, and in the end I did enjoy myself. I successfully completed every stitch on the skirt bar the hem. We were running out of time before I left, so mum decided to take over the sewing while I started packing. A few alterations were also needed, which mum took charge of as well. I am still trying to master patterns, and I am nowhere near ready to try my hand at alterations yet!

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In the picture above, I am wearing the skirt for placement at the hospital. I paired it with a Veronika Maine shirt, a Forever One blazer, and my ever-present Wittner boots! Please excuse the less-than-wonderful positioning of this photo. This is the closest thing to a blank wall in my room, and I am still practicing taking photos of myself on timer. But things can only get better from here!

Home Sweet Home

So far, this blog seems to be even worse than the various diaries I tried to keep as a child! Life decided to get a tad bit complicated and intense for a while, and any thoughts about the blog I had hoped to start were pushed to the very back of my mind. Over the last few months, things have become more stable than they have been in quite a while, and I have started to think of possible blog posts. Following my favourite blogs and seeing the wonderful things they have been up to lately has inspired me, and I am ready to give this another shot!

Recently I got the chance to go home for the mid-year holiday, and I had an absolutely wonderful time. I thought a recap of my adventures back home would be a wonderful way to get this blog started again, as it would provide a little bit of information about where I grew up, and about the things I love to do when I don’t have to worry about exams, assignments, and all the fun that comes with being a university student! The photos in this post are some of favourites from my trip home. Most were taken on my phone (excuse the less-than-perfect quality), while the others were taken on my camera, a Canon EOSM. My camera is my baby, but I am still in the very early stages of learning how to use it. If anyone can recommend some good online tutorials and/or guides to photography, they would be much appreciated!

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For me, home is, and I suspect always will be, Darwin. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory of Australia, and in my opinion is one of the best places on earth! It has a wonderful lifestyle, incredible weather, picture-perfect views in every direction, and an endless litany of incredible restaurants and cafes. One of my favourite parts of being home (apart from the people, of course) was the food. I got the chance to go to all of the places I love in Darwin, and basically spent the two and a half weeks eating! One of my favourite parts about eating out in Darwin is the fact that almost every place you eat has an incredible view, and I couldn’t resist posting a photo (or two…or ten) on Instagram!

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As well as eating insane amounts of delicious food, I also spent a lot of time exploring and doing some of the touristy-things that I haven’t done in years. My holidays were strangely timed, and many of my friends were still at uni or travelling while I was home. I was determined not to be bored, so mum and I went on a number of adventured, exploring and enjoying the weather. It was so nice to be warm again, and to wear all of the summer clothes that have been sitting so forlornly in my wardrobe. I even got a tan! One of my favourite days was spent at Crocodylus Park, a crocodile park/animal park. We got to see some adorable animals, and I made friends with a Pink Galah named Alfie. He was absolutely adorable, and would push his head against his cage to request scratches from anyone who came to say hello. I think I fell a little bit in love! I also spent a lot of time at East Point, one of the many incredible coastal areas where you can enjoy truly amazing sunsets. I even organised a little sunset picnic with my boyfriend, with non alcoholic bubbles to drink as we watched the sun go down. We got attacked by mosquitos and had to make a hasty retreat after we had finished dinner, but it was still very much worth it!

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One of my favourite parts of being home was going camping. When I was younger, I would go camping with my family at least once a year, and some of my favourite childhood memories involve tents and campfires. This camping trip was as good as any of the others I have been on, and I had been looking forward to it for months. I feel the need to admit that we don’t rough it when we go camping – we never pack light, and one of the most important parts of our camping trips is the food. Food cooked over a campfire always tastes amazing, and we had a near never-ending supply! We spent four wonderful days basking in the sun, reading books, exploring incredible hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems, and generally just being relaxed and calm. I feel like the water and sun somehow got rid of a lot of the stress that had built up during the 18 weeks of uni, and I even managed to develop a slight tan, despite my constant applications of SPF50+ sunscreen! Darwin really is an incredibly beautiful place, and being in the sun and the warmth was wonderful – I most definitely did not want to come back to cold and dreary Melbourne!

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All in all, my trip home was amazing. Looking through my photos while writing this post has made me incredibly homesick, and has made the Melbourne weather seem even worse! Luckily, I will be returning home in a few short weeks for a close friends wedding (I am a bridesmaid!). Until then, I will just have to survive on memories of the warmth as I rug up in my favourite coat and resolutely refuse to admit that I am cold! I hope that you are all warmer than I am (wherever you may be), and that you are enjoying your holidays (if like me you are a uni student). Bring on Semester 2 at a new hospital, with new doctors, new patients, and new creative ways of keeping myself warm!

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The Power of Bright Pink Lipstick

When it comes to the way I look, I am generally quite proud of the way I view myself, and of my personal style. Over the past few years I have developed a strong understanding of the looks that I love and what works for me. While my style changes from day to day and is constantly evolving, I genuinely believe that each and every thing that I wear has some undefinable something that makes it “me”. It may be a cut that flatters my waist, a colour that makes me smile, a beautiful lacey material, or a delightful smattering of glitter (I have a weakness for all things glittery, and am regularly distracted by shiny things), but every outfit I own, particularly the ones I love and always feel good in, have something in them that makes reminds me of who I am, and helps me to feel positive even when things are terrifyingly hard.

While our society puts a huge emphasis on the need to look a certain way and to always look good (something I can rant rather passionately about for extensive periods of time), I consider style, and the ability to make myself look good, to be important for rather different reasons. I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder, a mental health condition that likes to stomp on my self confidence, my enthusiasm, and my energy on a regular basis. When I am going through a rough patch, and am finding each day a struggle, there are certain things that I find can make a huge difference, and one of those things is my style.

I view style, and all that it encompasses – hair, clothing, make-up, accessories – as armour that I put on each morning before I face the world. I may be feeling completely terrible, have slept badly, and be constantly on the verge of crying, but unless I choose to tell you, you have no business knowing that. By dressing well and taking the time to do my hair and make-up, I put up a wall that allows me to keep my personal problems to myself, so that I can pick and choose who I consider worth sharing them with.

Wearing something I feel wonderful in, putting on bright pink lipstick and slipping my favourite jewellery on gives me a sense of strength. It boosts my sadly inflated self confidence. It reminds me that there are still wonderful things in the world, like beautiful vintage cut dresses, and the amazing powers of blush, and gorgeous sparkly things that are full of wonderful memories. It allows me to walk out the door knowing that whatever happens that day, however difficult it may be, at least I look good. That knowledge has an amazing ability to help me get through whatever I have to face each day, and I have learnt to never underestimate the power of a swipe of bright pink lipstick!

40 Fast Facts

I was trolling through one of my all-time favourite  blogs, MajaHuse.com, and came across one of her posts involving a list of 40 questions. I always love these sorts of blog posts, because they give you the most interesting (and often the most random) information about people, which is the sort of stuff I love to know! I though a questions post would be the perfect way to start this blog, since it will give any readers (assuming I eventually get some) a bit of information about me, without me writing paragraphs of information that read like some sort of high school personal reflection assignment. 

So, here goes: 40 Fast Facts about me.

1. How old will you be in five years? 23, but 5 days away from turning 24 😀

2. With whom did you spend at least two hours today? My fellow med students, in two of the best lectures I have had so far this year.

3. How tall are you? 172 cm – one of my proudest moments in life was the day I was finally taller than my mother. It is only by about half a cm, but I insist it still counts!

4. What was the last movie you saw? Iron Man 3. All the halls of residence at my uni went. It was the night after my exam, and was the perfect way to celebrate.

5. Who did you call most recently? My boyfriend.

6.What did it say in the last SMS you got? It was from my aforementioned boyfriend, checking if it was a good time to call.

7. Do you prefer calling or texting? Depends. I usually hate phone conversations, but there are some people who I can talk to for hours on the phone. It also depends on the situation – if I am sitting at a bus stop dying of boredom, a text conversation is the perfect distraction, and I don’t have to worry about everyone listening in on my conversation.

8. Are your parents together or split up? Split up.

9. When did you last see your parents? The 12th of February. I am interstate, so I only get to see mum every few months.

10. What colour are your eyes? Dark brown.

11. When did you wake up today? I got up at 7:30. Lectures didn’t start until 9 this morning, so I could actually stay in bed until the sun was up! I am not good at getting out of bed before the sun.

12. What’s your favourite place? Anywhere that is filled with people I love, and preferably somewhere with nice weather. Winter is starting to arrive in Melbourne, and I desperately miss the sun.

13. Where do you think you’ll be in ten years? I hope I will be a Doctor, finishing my specialisation as a pediatrician. Other than that, I have no idea where I will be!

14. What used to scare you most as a child? Fireworks. I always loved the colours, but the sound used to scare the beejezus out of me. Luckily I got over that fear. Now days, the louder the better!

15. Lately, what made you laugh uncontrollably? Most likely Tumblr. Who doesn’t laugh at insanely cute animals doing stupid things?

16. What do you wear to bed? My owl pyjama pants (I have short cotton ones for summer, and long flannelette ones for winter) and a tank top.

17. Where have you lived? I lived in Darwin for the first 17 years of my life, and have been living in Melbourne for the last 2 years.

18. Do you prefer shoes, socks or bare feet? Socks. I have received many lectures from my mother about the state of my socks – they never stay clean for more than about a week.

19. Are you a social person? Most of the time, yes. There are times when I need time to myself, but most of the time I love being around people.

20. Favourite ice cream? Koko Black Chocolate Ice-cream. It is the most amazing thing in the world. Ever.

21. Do you like Chinese food? Definitely. 

22. Do you like coffee? Nope. I love the idea of coffee, but I just can’t stand the taste.

23. Do you sleep in a special way? How I sleep changes every night, but I am notorious for taking up an entire bed and stealing blankets.

24. Do you know how to play poker? Yep, and I am currently on a (very long) beginners luck streak.

25. Do you want kids? One day, yes, but not for a long time.

26. Have you ever been in an ambulance? Nope.

27. Do you prefer the ocean or a pool? The ocean.

28. On what do you spend the most money? Either clothes or books.

29. What’s your favourite TV show? There are too may to count! At the moment, my obsessions are Doctor Who, Glee (I have no shame in admitting that – it never fails to make happy), and Once Upon a Time. 

30. Who’s the funniest person you know? I honestly don’t know.

31. What’s your ring tone? The Doctor Who theme song, to match my TARDIS noise message tone.

32. Do you have any garments from when you were a kid? I know my mum has kept a few in the wardrobes back home.

33. What thing do you have closest to you now that’s red? One of my Med text books.. 

34. Do you flirt a lot? I am terrible when it comes to flirting – I constantly confuse flirting for genuinely-just-being-niceness. I am an exceedingly affectionate person, especially when drunk, so people often think I am being flirtatious when actually I am just happy.

35. Do you know how to change the tires on a car?  No idea, but I think I could probably figure it out if I had to.

36. What was the last book you read? I am currently reading The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern for about the fourth time, and the last book I finished was An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green, who is one of my all time favourite authors. If you ever need a good laugh, watch some of his youtube videos. But don’t turn to his books for a laugh – most of them are heart-breakingly beautiful, and they will make you cry!

37. Do you read the paper? Nope.

38. Do you sing in the car? Always! I am a terrible singer, but I love music, so I am constantly singing.

39. Can you tango? I don’t think so…

40. Are you happy? At the moment, yes. My happiness has become a very fragile think lately, but at the moment it is in tact and strong 🙂