Lou-Lou-Louche

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What’s your vice? My vices are painting my nails (somewhat messily at times), finding comfort in the bubbles of a diet coke and hoarding lotions and potions of all sorts on my make up counter. I guess I could open a spa and teahouse from my room, there’s enough soap and varieties of herbal tea in here to last a lifetime (…or at least a couple of years).

I’m not doing anything wildly exciting at the moment, just preparing for exams. Hence the pictures of nails on my blog instead of wild tales of adventure and discovery. However, it’s still possible to find delight in little things. This morning I went to the library at ridiculous o’clock in the morning (around five am) with a pal, and then we watched the sun rise whilst sat on a gnarled tree in a nearby wood. We didn’t have a camera, but imagine if you will, two students surrounded by bluebells and library books scattered across a carpet of greenery…

We walked back through the Botanic Gardens, stopping en route by a large pond near the Psychology building to look at baby tadpoles wriggling in the shallows. It was such a lovely start to the day…

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Une tasse de thé…

If I’m not sipping a can of diet coke through a hot pink straw , you can bet that I will have some other sort of beverage nearby, lurking just out of sight. I’m a sucker for brightly coloured drinks, be they iced teas, slush puppies, juices or cocktails…

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I guess I have made my point.

Since summer 2012, I have developed a real taste for herbal teas, and today, having just returned from the health food store, I am writing a tea blog of sorts! Writing the words “tea blog” makes me think of Grav3yard Girl, a texan youtuber who is known for her “tea vlogs”, amongst many other hilarious and fabulous things. If you, like me, are interested in disney theme parks, make-up and  things related to folklore and the paranormal*, then you should give her videos a watch.  If anyone else is a fan of Grav3yard Girl, then regard my following direction as an homage to her – please feel free to go and get some tea, whether it be of the English, herbal or iced variety, before I continue with the monologue that I’ve got going on here.

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If you are not into your teas, then I recommend a black coffee or a white/mint hot chocolate! You can get so many different varieties of hot chocolate nowadays – I recently bought my gran ‘Turkish Delight’ flavour by Options, a great supermarket brand. There are also fancy tubs of hot chocolate that you can buy from Whittards of Chelsea – think along the lines of banoffee pie and chilli chocolate. Anyway, enough talk of these delicious chocolatey poisons, back to the subject of tea, glorious tea! I always like to have my tea in a fancy mug.

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A cupcake mug will do nicely. This is my all-time favourite mug – but when I travel around, it is too precarious to sling it into a suitcase, so it must sadly remain in and the cupboard, and I must rely on my Aristocats Marie mug instead. My preferred brand of tea is PUKKA teas, which come in oh so many flavours and cost around the £2-3 bracket for a box of twenty sachets. Having managed to get through two boxes of their peppermint and liquorice flavour (weird combination, right?) over the past month, I went on a quest today to purchase some more….

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On the shelf where they normally have their PUKKA teas (not sure why I am putting it in capitals, but I guess it makes for a good exclamation, PUKKAAAA!) they also had a new brand called TEAPIGS (TEAPIGS!) This is a brand that I have heard tell of, mostly in the emails that I get sent from beauty box subscriptions. I was curious to see if there would be any difference in taste, and if the TEAPIGS would live up to their elaborate packaging. They were more expensive than the others, at £3….something for 15 tea sachets. But I thought it would be interesting to try them out, seeing as I love the PUKKA version so much.

Verdict: The presentation of the sachet, or “tea temple” as they call it, is pretty, you can see the contents clearly and it is shaped like a pyramid. Taste wise, the emphasis is on the peppermint, with quite a strong (and bitter) minty aftertaste. Whilst this feels quite refreshing, I have to say that I prefer the sweet liquorice aftertaste of the PUKKA tea – it’s also quite pleasing to know that 20p of every purchase of the PUKKA flavour goes to WWF. However, I will definitely have to try some of the other TEAPIG flavours, (I noticed there was crème caramel) On the back of the TEAPIG packaging, it also gives directions on how to enjoy the tea as an iced tea. I’m not sure that this would work well for mint, however you CAN make your own ice tea just by using normal tea bags, sugar and a lemon/peaches! In Germany, they sold Arizona iced tea in really ornate bottles – very sugary but a light and refreshing alternative to juice and sodas (and of course, to the healthiest of liquids… water…)

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So there you have it. The first Valise de Louise Tea Blog. I often scour the web for reviews before I buy things now (I mostly look for reviews on make up *coughOPInailpolishcough*) so I thought it was maybe time for me to write a review or two of my own.  Do let me know if there are any drinks or brands that you think I should try – I’d be delighted to hear from you.

*When I was younger, my Dad used to organise tours of churches, graveyards and ancient burial grounds on the Island, and I would always end up tagging along and listening to all the tales of our Island’s rich folklore, history, witchcraft and ghostly happenings. This is a topic that has continued to interest me, (alongside many others) throughout my teens and into my adulthood. I love to tell stories, and after having enjoyed worked as a museum tour guide for six years, I think it would be great to be able to organise tours of my own one day!

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

The motivation for this post comes from Dr Seuss’ book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – if you’re feeling a little hazy, unsure of where your life is taking you or like you need some guidance, pick up this book and have a peruse. It’s a book aimed towards children, however underneath the bright colours and wacky drawings, the words contain Dr Seuss’ famous wit – a wit that knows no age boundaries. It’s not a book that I came across during my childhood but I think reading it as an adult is quite enriching and uplifting – as Dr Seuss says himself, “Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (98¾% guaranteed.)”

So, where do I want to travel and what paths am I going to take? I’m still unsure. There are so many places I want to go, and sometimes I just want to be in a million different places all at once. I want to inhale floral air on hawaiian beaches, take the tram in San Francisco, explore the graveyards, vampire tours and jazz culture of New Orleans, drink butterscotch milkshakes from Zak’s Diner in Ottawa, dance on tables in Konstanz, live in Disneyland Paris and discover countless other countries. As I’m writing this, a Disney animated short springs to mind – have you ever seen “The Three Caballeros”? It’s an old classic from 1944, (including a cigar smoking parrot, ah what you could show in the old days*) where Donald Duck goes on a tour of South America and encounters various different characters along his way, including Pablo the penguin… who is a penguin (no way, Sherlock) who despairs of the prospect of spending all his days in the cold and dreams of living on a warm tropical island.

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When he gets to the island, he kicks back, has a mojito or three (ok, no cocktails are actually specified but you get all inclusive holidays these days so I’m sure he would have indulged a little) and after a while the glow of the tropics starts to wear off and poor Pablo starts to miss the South Pole… the moral of the story being enjoy what you have, live in the moment, as the grass is always greener on the other side!

I have big dreams, that’s for sure, dreams of exploring, meeting new people and living in hot climates. But I’m also grateful for the present and need to make the most of every day, wherever I may be! 

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*Check out this French bear. He loves his tobacco.

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I used to watch this programme when I was small, (random fact coming up) and the voice reminds me of my French grandfather! 

“Think pink!”

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Here’s a song from “Funnyface” to listen to – a song which advocates the colour pink! It’s still cold in the UK but I’m looking forward and hoping that Spring is just around the corner… and that it will usher in flowers and sunshine, as well as a refreshing colour mix up with regards to my wardrobe of blacks and burgundies…
I went shopping yesterday, and was looking through quaint little home and decor themed shops for shabby chic style dressing table mirrors. I picked up these two tops on the way, and the little cushion, which I thought was quite elegant! 
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So hopefully when the weather gets warmer, I’ll be thinking a bit more pink…

Goth with a Coffee Cup

I went to a 22nd birthday party… It was Depeche Mode themed, with dress code “Funeral Chic”. (Hey, I guess it takes all sorts) I wore my everyday clothes but transitioned from day to night by cracking out a 2012 Mac Lipstick in ‘Dramatic Encounter’ and applying it along with a lot of eyeliner… Dramatic enough??

PS…. and I found a coffee cup.

Tartan Blizzards and Golden Bunting

Well, hasn’t it been frosty in Durham!

I celebrated Burns’ Night  on the 25th January at a Formal wearing a retro 1940s style tartan dress, conquered my fear of haggis and ran barefoot in the snow… I felt like a real warrior after my sprint across a snowy meadow, I can tell you!

It has snowed a lot over the past week, and apart from that one crazy moment that I mentioned earlier, where I was at one with the snow, I have embraced the harsh weather by wearing lots of faux fur. My favourite furry hat that I bought about two years from Topshop had a revival, I last wore it in Clermont in early 2012 when it was -15 degrees! I also acquired a burgundy faux fur collar in the January sales for £6.00, which I was very excited about.

Talking about excitement, I also got a glittery package full of treats from Forever21 –  My favourite item was the necklace pictured below – which looks like a delicate string of black and gold bunting. I discovered Forever21, which is an american fashion chain, for the first time in Manchester in late 2012. Late one night in mid January, on an essay editing break, I made the discovery that they also ship to the UK. And that they do insanely cheap online deals. What started in Manchester as a flirtation with Forever 21, buying 2 pairs of earrings and a pair of wedge boots for under £30.00 went to the next level…*

*Here, I would like to add that thanks to 50% off 50%, the total amount of my online purchases was also under £30.00, for 4 pairs of earrings, a pussy bow blouse, 2 hair slides, a bow hairband, and 2 necklaces. Not bad!

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(Ornate Earrings and Triangle Necklace, both Forever 21)

I love the Forever21 accessory range. When worn, I find that they get complimented a lot.  As I mentioned earlier, I managed to benefit from their 50% off 50% deal, and so got quite a few products very cheaply.  I find that, although cheap, the accessories look quite classy –  this combination of chic and low price range makes for ideal presents. Indeed, my mum will be getting some great earrings on her birthday in February!

Continuing along with my theme of being a sucker for accessories, I recently perused a local Durham hair and beauty shop, and was delighted to find a limited edition OPI James Bond topcoat – ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ – reduced from £30.00 to £7.25. The nail varnish is a clear topcoat with 18k gold flecks. It definitely adds a flash of “Look at me, I’m oh so sassy and GOLDEN” to any manicure. When it comes to OPI nail varnish, I can be a bit of a vulture, preying on the bottles of glitter and online reviews for a while before I swoop in and purchase one or two that I like. Reports that there will be a new collection featuring Mariah Carey and “Liquid Sand” textures may deter me for a while however…. watch this space.

I’m not just interested in retail therapy however. I have been hitting the books… I have twenty books out from the University Library, ranging from critiques on Bertolt Brecht and Georges Perec, Laclos and André Gide and have hit my maximum library book loan limit…. hmmm, best get reading then!

Toodles!

Huzzah for Duzza

Because who doesn’t love snow and lecturers who give you carambar on a frosty morning?
For any French speakers out there, I include the hilariously bad joke that I discovered on my carambar wrapper…

Quel acteur est une copie de lui-même?
George Cloné

BADOM BOM TSCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Top notch entertainment from carambar, as always.

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Onto the main theme of this post…. SNOW. For someone who comes from an Island with quite a mild climate, where it almost never snows, I am always amazed by snow. (If ever a centimetre was to fall on Guernsey, radio warnings would go out ordering everyone to stay off the PERILOUSLY ICY roads. If this occurred during term time, we would get the day off school. I still have fond memories of these snow days… but all the snow would thaw by the end of the day)

IN DURHAM THERE IS REAL SNOW. THEY DON’T KNOW PERILOUS CONDITIONS. However I am no snow leopard. I am not used to these climes. And often, I become Bambi on ice. I slip, I slide, even when I am wearing Doc Martens.

Around this time last year, when I was living in France, I had the opportunity to go skiing for a day for the almost unbelievably low price of ten euros. I had such a brilliant time; eating st nectaire (cheese) in the mountains, wearing bright aqua salopettes, and trying to avoid causing collisions on the button lift (or as it is delicately known in French…the tire-fesse) Being surrounded by snow and chalets was an incredible feeling and I really hope to ski some more one day. But until now, just the sight of snow will suffice… However… although it is very beautiful in Durham, I still miss the snowcapped volcanoes of Clermont, the crisp icy feeling of walking home on powdered pavements after a midnight tram ride…. and I also miss the stunning view across the Bodensee of the snow covered mountains on the Swiss/German border of Konstanz.

I digress, here are some pictures of a snowy northern city.

(In the first picture…. has our stag mascot been visited by his friend the Yeti? This made me smile at ten am in the morning… small things!)

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The third picture down is the view from my window. Aren’t I lucky to have such a lovely fairytale view? (Maybe I am over exaggerating… it’s the snow that has gone to my head!)

Back in the Tundra

I have been back at University for a couple of days now… still not really unpacked! Most of my clothes and bits are still in suitcases/underbed storage… the only things I took out were my bedding, books that I need for my essays and my prized and oversized Cheshire cat (to sit on my desk and alleviate the essay tension)

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I had two flights on sunday and was really tired when I landed at Newcastle airport. I was a diva. I coerced some unsuspecting guys into helping me with stiff luggage trolleys and my million* suitcases (Hey, if I can have 40kg for free for being a student from the Channel Islands, I will pack enough books to fill a library.. and will also pack several accessories. It is winter after all, the season of endless possibilities for coat/hat/scarf combinations)

I had booked a taxi for one from the airport, however the taxi firm I had booked tried to fit me into a tiny car with three other people and all their suitcases – the boot wouldn’t actually shut – so I ditched and caught a ride with some guys from Jersey (same guys I forced to help me with my stuff, shameless) which actually worked out cheaper than the other driver had quoted. Twenty pounds vs Eleven pounds…

So, anyway, I had a pleasant drive in a spacious car with leather seats, admired the Angel of the North and chatted until we arrived and I was dropped off back at college to be greeted with….
PRESENTS.

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A golden flamingo from my friend Ina and some dessert rubbers from Ellie – suitably random. For now they will decorate this clinical room bare of all my posters and sparkle until I am done with my assignments.

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The macaron necklace I mentioned has been unpacked… behind you can see my pitifully empty noticeboard.

I woke up this morning to snow ^^ My room looks out over the Botanical Gardens of the University – currently blanketed in snow – and it really makes for a beautiful winter woodland scene. I will post some photos… for now just imagine me in a snowy Narnia or forest scene from Bambi 😉

*three. I had three suitcases. And a satchel. I snuck two pieces of hand luggage onto my flight. Stealthy old me