Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What To Buy Your Postgrad For Christmas

It's been a long term. But somehow, finally it's over, and your pet postgrad has emerged blinking into the dim, watery December sunlight, shivering and mumbling, "What, it's Christmas? No it's not. What day is it?"

They are too busy and confused to write their own Christmas list, so here are some suggestions of my own about what to buy them.
Paperblanks: because you need to feel important

A nice diary
A hardback one with an attractive cover, good quality paper, and lots of space per day for writing ESSAY DEADLINE!!! in pink highlighter and underlining it five times. Paperblanks and Moleskines are reliable favourites, and luxurious enough to make a really nice present. This diary will save your life (or degree, which at this point is essentially the same thing), because it will help you keep track of what day it is.

Collections of poetry and short stories
Because you don't have time to read whole novels any more, but maybe you can fit in a poem or two in between The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, Photographs Objects Histories: On The Materiality of Images and Photography, Anthropology and History. Sob sob. These are on my list:

Coffee syrups
Anything to make your seventh coffee of the day go down easier.

Grad school breakfast.

Literary prints posters
These will make you feel like an intellectual in front of all your smart new PhD friends, and inspire you when you think 5000 words is impossibly long and you'll be writing this essay forever. Take "Write drunk; edit sober" to heart as thesis advice; it can only help.

Non-rustling library snacks
After hour 5 in the library, you will need more energy because you are starving and on the edge of tears, but whipping out giant bags of Doritos and popcorn, while emotionally satisfying, will swiftly turn you into the most hated person in Oxford. Consider decanting some yummy, energy-releasing snacks into cute portion-sized jars and pots from which they can be surreptitiously eaten under the desk. I can recommend these peanuts and dried cranberries drizzled with dark chocolate by my very own hand (it looks impressive, elegant and Christmassy, and took all of five minutes) - also try other dried fruit like mango or pineapple, bite sized brownies (although avoid crumbly foods), jelly babies, and caramelised nuts. Drizzle it all with extra chocolate, because really, I've been in the library for five hours. Have mercy.

graze box subscription would also work perfectly for this.

Because if you're going to take stop working long enough to eat something that takes more than 0.5 minutes to prepare, it had better be worth it. Failing that, you can look at the pictures and dream of the day you will have enough free time and money to make any of it. Here are some I have my wistful eye on:

Is this not the most beautiful cookbook you have ever seen
Because sometimes they let you out of the library and require you to interact with other humans, sometimes quite important ones at quite fancy occasions, and you need to impress them with your good taste in classic rich lady jewellery. I'm into gold knot earrings, and tiny ones with elegant, non-sparkly stones like these gold and garnet ones from Pia.

MAC lipsticks
Because feeling pretty sometimes is helpful in avoiding a total meltdown. I personally am hoping Crosswires (left) will give me a youthful glow, to help me blend in with all the 18 year old Brasenose freshers in the Radcliffe Camera.

A Spotify Premium subscription
Because nothing - NOTHING - ruins your essay writing flow faster and breaks your concentration more irretrievably than loud, inane adverts for Sourz shots, Ford dealerships, anti-wrinkle cream and Christmas compilation albums. Please just let me listen to the calming sounds of Yo Yo Ma playing Bach in peace, Spotify. Please.

Stuff with pugs on
It's the little things.

Urban Outfitters

Thursday, 5 December 2013

FOTD: Christmas Party Time!

 It's nearly Christmas and that means I get to go to parties and parties mean I get to wear a lot of make up and that makes me excited.

I discovered this one spot in front of the mirror in the hallway of my house where the lighting is super flattering and makes my skin look glowy and flawless. And I am never moving again.

Lipstick hero. Eyebrow hero. Earrings hero. 
This party face is brought to you by MAC, and my makeupspiration, Liz Taylor. It's pretty simple, but classic and festive.

I'm wearing MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study, a kind of nudey glimmery gold cream, on my eyes. I'm not super keen on creams but this is a nice one, that goes on smoothly and doesn't really crease. No 7 black liquid liner in a very slightly thicker than everyday line - I just started using this, and it's a very decent liquid liner. Star of the show is MAC Russian Red lipstick. True story: I was torn between Russian Red and Ruby Woo at the MAC store in Times Square, and when I flung myself at the sales guy for advice, he looked at me and said "Russian Red will make you look like Liz Taylor!". SOLD. I can pretend he doesn't say that to all the girls.

My earrings make me excited. They're from the 50s, and I got them at the vintage fair, and they have a matching necklace and unf sparkles. Fact: I need more occasions to wear inappropriately sparkly costume jewellery. Liz would never stand for this. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Hanging Out In: Brew, North Oxford

Tiny, delightful Brew on North Parade combines many of my fave things about coffee shops, including quirkiness, fancy cakes, and being a very, very short walk from my house. 

Since, as pictured, it is hipster as hell, in the name of objective blogging, I went undercover to explore.

Accessories for dressing up as the kind of person interested in buying hand-ground Sumatran coffee from an indie retailer with a record player include: plastic glasses (, gap yah scarf (ASOS), antiqued gold-ish deer head necklace (Primark), ironic expression (model's own).

Just kidding, these are my regular clothes. Hashtag academicjumblesale.

The centrepiece of Brew's decor is this shiny, shiny coffee machine. I have no idea how this makes coffee but it looks like a robot and has all kinds of exciting dials and knobs on it and a bird on top and therefore I love it. 

On the right side of this photo, note a pile of sticky cinnamon buns. From personal experience I can tell you that these are an excellent breakfast food. For your convenience, I am also working my way through all the other cakes, and so far they've all been delish. 

Pro tip: this is also a prime people-watching location. One time I sat next to an earnest tutorial about an Ian McEwan novella during which there was a reference to Daria. One time I came with a friend and we sat opposite a guy who she was 70% sure had messaged her on OKCupid. Almost always there's a swoony beardy guy in a cable knit jumper. 

Upsides to Brew!:
  • It's run by two cute guys and is always full of cool attractive people having interesting, eavesdroppable conversations. This is a bonus.
  • They have great taste in music and a giant record collection. If you feel like listening to Neil Young, Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel, or some band so cool you've never even heard of them on vinyl, this is where you should hang out.
  • They really know about coffee. I mean, I don't understand it, but I'm impressed. Tastes good to me.
  • They sell super cute birthday cards and notebooks and things, which I love.
  • The sugar comes in tiny jars. Swoon.
  • A little bird told me they sometimes host teeny tiny gigs here on Sunday evenings.
  • It's super close to a bunch of university buildings, so if you are a student, you get the holy grail of wifi access. (This also means it is in between my house and my tutorials.)
  • I have been here for over an hour and a half now and no one has yelled at me. (cf. the nearest Starbucks, which put up a bunch of annoying signs telling students not to stay too long, the cutthroat capitalist jerks.)
  • It is so cute I can't even deal. Fact.
Downsides to Brew:
  • There are exactly four tiny tables, so if you get there at the wrong time, you are doomed to take away or perch awkwardly on the corner of a bench. Boo.
  • The seats are wooden stools and benches. Ouch. Cushions, please.
  • The coffee only comes in one size: small. I think this is some kind of function of the shiny shiny coffee machine, but also, I need more caffeine than you can fit in one tiny latte.
  • They MIGHT be judging me when I put two spoonfuls of sugar in said tiny latte.
  • I just overheard cute coffee shop boy disparaging Harry Potter. Not cool, cute coffee shop boy. Not cool. 
In short: go to Brew, and join me in pretending to be a cool, attractive person. If you can find somewhere to sit.