Ultimate Fan: Disney X Cath Kidston, helping a heart move on

If you haven’t seen or heard or if you have simply lost your way on the internet, you should all be aware that Cath Kidston has recently dropped the newest Disney crossover in the form of the beloved spotty doggy characters that are known as 101 Dalmatians. You can browse and shop the fab collection here.

I was beyond excited when I found out that Cath Kidston was releasing this crossover. Simply because, 101 Dalmatians is my all time favourite Disney movie. The animated tale was played all too much in my household whilst I was growing up. Adding that to the fact they created a live action film and a mini TV series; I think you’ll find that this little bean was officially obsessed. I collected figurines of the characters and whilst my siblings and other friends were playing with barbies, dolls, pokemon cards and motorbikes, you’d find me at the kitchen table or behind the sofa playing with the figures below.

My mum and dad would reward good behaviour with a brand new pack of these collectibles and they would punish me by taking away my favourite ones. I had all the figurines, with some duplicates.

I was well and truly obsessed with the 101 Dalmatian franchise when I was younger, so much so, I used to want to BE a Dalmatian. I would run around on all fours, barking and pretending that I was sending a message via Twilight Bark in my back garden. At one point, I even convinced my mum to let me walk down the street on all fours. So yah, you see, I was fairly obsessed.

I think this obsession with 101 Dalmatians continued well into my early teenage years. I’ll add in that I bought a plush Patch (pictured below in both photos that were taken two years ago) from the Disney store during my first year at University. When I was nineteen years old.


Left: Me and my bestie had a Disney night with our beloved characters. Right: My two favourite boys.

My first look at the Cath Kidston Dalmatian range had me holding my breath. I mean, have you seen it? There’s travel bags, make up bags, wash bags, phone cases, jumpers, dresses,purses, fricking pajamas! All baring the beloved spotted prints and the much loved characters of my youth. My all time favourite thing that they’ve done is incorporate the opening townhouse scene into a beautifully elegant design that features on a number of items. Including the travel bag that instantly caught my eye.

Of course, I signed up for the early launch on the website because duh, what fan would I be if I didn’t get on that band wagon straight away? I’ll have you know that this fan gal had shopped her goods and checked out 7 minutes after the early launch had dropped. And what?

My bank balance unfortunately couldn’t handle getting my hands on everything; I settled for the travel bag and a mug that features the Dalmatian Patch. The travel bag is so spacious, I can fit a week’s worth of clothes in it and there is still room for my ipad, phone charger and the little Fuji  compact camera. The pattern is classic Cath Kidston floral, but it incorporates the opening sequence of the animated Disney film and has included a few of my favourite pups and pets. The mug is also super cute, light weighted and perfect for a morning cuppa with the cheeky face of Patch staring back at you.

I’ll tell you a little story about Patch too as he seems to be a collector favourite of mine. Aside from the large plush I bought during my first year of Uni (a similar version of my Patch is still available in the Disney store actually. Find him here.) I also have an older style Dalmatian plush featured below with my newly Cath Kidston purchases; he was bought from the Disney store over twenty one years ago. Golly I feel old. Anyways, Patch below is now renamed as Lucky (sticking to the theme see). This is because one day, as my family and I were driving along the M5 motorway on our way down to Devon on a hot summer’s day, I was playing with Patch and I almost dropped him out the window. From that day, he has now been renamed Lucky and Lucky comes almost everywhere with me. He is my childhood comfort blanket. He has a place beside my bed nowadays, but there are some nights when I need him with me inside the duvet. For example, if I’m unwell or if Conner is away, you’ll almost always find me curled up with him clutched tightly to my chest.

 I have recently just returned from a glorious sunny week at home after cat sitting whilst my sister was on holiday. She returned from her travels, golden tanned and beautiful with the best thank you gift I could never of imagined. She presented me with the Dalmatians Washbag! I was godsmacked. Originally, when the early launch dropped, I was considering buying it because I didn’t think I could afford my townhouse foldaway, but my obsession got the better of me as you can see. Regardless, the washbag was something I considered treating myself to, once payday came around.

But now there is no need because my sister is a dream. I can now think about investing in the pajamas instead. This range has always made me want to have more nieces and nephews so I can purchase the tiny baby shoes and baby grows featuring the characters. My own child will have the obsession passed down to him/her.

As you may be able to tell from my writing and ranting and raving, there is rarely any point to this post – other than me gushing about my love for Cath Kidston’s new range and 101 Dalmatians. I guess its merely an appreciation post. Cath Kidston is the bomb for creating this range and for making the child in me grin from ear to ear.

But upon reflection, this new range and particularly, the most recent gift has also comforted me in a time of great sadness and loss that has been put upon me. My mother is beginning her new journey of moving out of my childhood home, the only childhood home I have ever known; a home that was filled with love and millions of unforgettable memories. My entire 101 Dalmatians obsessed childhood was spent growing up in that house and on Thursday, it was the last time I would ever leave that house knowing it as mine.

But, with the help of this new collection, Cath Kidston is allowing me to continue my 101 Dalmatians obsession with new found love and appreciation for the Disney characters that stole my heat so many years ago. So I want to say thank you Cath Kidston; you’ve made the child in me a little less sad and a little more excited for new adventures.

The (Unhealthy) power of Instagram

If anyone knows me at all, they will know of my obsession with the picture sharing social media app that is known as Instagram (you can go follow me if ya fancy a cheeky peak here: georgiaefrancis)

I think anyone that is anyone has an Instagram account; whether it be for sharing your own pictures or following (ahem, stalking) others. What started off as a harmless picture sharing website has slowly but surely turned into a competition against strangers, and quite often, against friends, of who can use the most hashtags and/or get the most likes on one picture, or gain as many followers as possible.

Instagram has become a place where people use their posts as a way to glorify their lives. It has started making every other ordinary human miserable because they feel their life isn’t as glamorous and they are unfulfilled because the accounts they follow are doing so much better at life.

I’ve noticed it more and more as of late too; that I’ve slowly become one of those annoying people who are increasingly frustrated when the following count goes down when so many ‘people’ started following me a post previously.

It wasn’t until I read the wonderfully real, honest post “A note about Instagram” by the amazing Hannah Gale, that I really looked into this obsession of mine.

Last year I really started to get into photography as a hobby. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and I got my first proper camera, the Fujifilm X-T10 for Christmas this year. So as you can imagine, my instagram has become the number one place to share my snaps. Many DSLR cameras now offer build in wifi which enables you to instantly transfer photos from your camera to your phone for easy, quick sharing to social media platforms, so I adore being able to shoot and upload continuously without hassle.

I don’t want to say I’m a good photographer either because let’s face it, I am beyond clueless. I’ve only just gotten to grips with Aperture and Shutter Speeds and sometimes I go for the easy option when out and about and use Auto mode (SHUSH. Don’t tell).

Photography is all about trial and error and having great patience at honing your skills and developing your craft. It’s an art form and it’s one that can only get better as time goes on. Self-teaching is always a good way to go, and just simply experimenting with the camera itself is the best way to get to grips – or at least, it has been for me.

But back to it, since getting my camera, my photography has improved a fraction and I find I can take better quality pictures even using my little iPhone SE. When I take what I think is a pretty effing good shot, I will post it to Instagram.

I am a hashtag fiend, but I ALWAYS have been. Check out my twitter feed from way back when; hashtagging is something I am openly teased about by my friends #soznotsoz #cantstopwontstop. So naturally, my posts on Instagram are hashtagged to death or at least until I can’t hashtag anymore. Most of the time the hashtags are relevant to the post as well. Regardless, it’s not the number of hashtags you use, or even the most popular hashtags you use, that generate your audience.

It’s a number of things. Posting at a particular time of day, posting a particular type of picture – it all counts and it’s a gamble. Your picture will either be picked up and suddenly start raking in the likes, or you can be lucky enough to get any attraction at all. And that is what has started to piss me off – that and those pesky little bots Hannah discusses in the link above.

It’s a game of posting at the right time with the right pictures. What gets me is a picture can be of terrible quality or has had no time or attention spend on it, and it’ll generate twice as many likes as a picture that is of higher quality with great detail and exposure which gets a fraction of attention.

Maybe I am the green eyed monster of jealously when it comes to seeing something I’m really passionate about not get attention it deserves, or maybe I’m trying to benefit myself and sound like a whiny bitch who is seeking attention; whatever it is, I am taking a leaf out of Hannah’s book (she wrote another blog post about the importance of unfollowing) and I am starting to clear out my Instagram feed so I can stop wasting time on looking at things I don’t want to see and I can start focusing on what really matters – enjoying the creativity and art and passion I once had for Instagram and most importantly, my photography in general.

Dear Diary: Pushing Out and Pulling Myself Up

Anxiety. What does that word mean to you?

The text book definition:

Noun
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome

If I were to unpick that definition, I could tell you, broadly, it’s spot on.

Now, I can’t talk for anyone else who suffers with an anxiety disorder because everyone who suffers has different triggers and there are just so many different categories of anxiety; you’ve got OCD, GAD, Specific phobias, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, situational anxiety, social anxiety… there is a whole load of anxiety disorders that can be listed and maybe even some that have not been categorised yet.

I personally don’t fall into one particular category. My anxiety has been caused by several different life events leading up to here and now. One reoccurring factor though, is this life-altering thing we all experience at least once in our lifetime, this is a term known as grief.

Anxiety is not a common symptom of grieving, but many people experience and develop symptoms of anxiety because of a loss. I’ve mentioned grieving in several blog posts on here and in a way, it’s because I find blogging some sort of inner relief. That and I just don’t talk about the deepest parts of my life anywhere else.
It’s been said that when a person doesn’t allow themselves to feel grief or go through the process of mourning their loved ones, they can become depressed, or anxiety can occur.

Just recently, I’ve learned of this term known as ‘Complicated grief’ or as it is now categorised in the DSM-IV and ICD-10 ‘Prolonged grief disorder’. Apparently only about 10% of people who have been affected by bereavement suffer from this syndrome. This is because to be diagnosed officially with this disorder, a person must be completed incapacitated by grief, so focused on the loss that it is difficult to care about much else.

What makes it so different from the norm of grieving? Well, grief is a normal human process – accommodating to a new life without a loved one is tough and often, sometimes unbearable. However, as time goes on, most bereaved survivors manage to find new meaning in their lives. Although normal grief remains far into the future, its ability to disrupt the survivor’s life dissipates with time. Insert time heals all wounds crap(!)

Whereas, with Prolonged grief disorder, an individual has an intense, persistent, disabling and life-altering issue with the loss of someone. This grief can then become somewhat of a threat to the survivor’s identity, sense of self-worth, feeling of security, safety or hopes for future happiness.

Prigerson et al. proposed a handy little criteria for PGD featured below:

After doing some more research on this relatively new concept, I came across certain risk factors and clinical correlations that link to PDG and surprise surprise, little old me could tick off a number of them.

Since researching into this a little more, I’ve decided it might be helpful for others to be aware of it because information, I feel, isn’t widely available. I didn’t have any idea of what it was or if it was even a real thing, but it is very real. Painfully so.

The point of this blog was to shed some light on a certain concept that I’ve recently been made aware of, and to also reiterate to myself in particular, that the battle is hard. The battle doesn’t get easier but you can get stronger.

I’ve been neglecting a few of my loved ones as of late. I know I have and I’ve been a really shitty person. Unfortunately its because I’ve been dragged down by intrusive thoughts of guilt and my old friend grief. But I am working on it. I’m pushing out and pulling myself up. Slowly and surely. We can all get there.

It’s okay NOT to be okay

I woke up today feeling great. I was like yeah it’s Monday but whatever. It;s a four day week and Easter is approaching and yes boy give me all the chocolate.

It’s also good because I’m going home for Easter, which means I get to spend some time with my mum and my fur babies who I am missing incredible amounts right now. The weekend was such nice weather and sunshine makes everyone so happy and smiley. So yeah, I woke up with the ‘I’ma boss Monday’ feeling.

Of course, one thing happened and it affected my mood quite heavily and I know blah blah you can either let it dampen your whole day or you can just brush it off, forget about it and move on.

Sometimes that’s easy enough and as the morning is progressing, I’m realising that, that little thing has set off a roller coaster of feelings that are certainly not feelings of being okay.

I’m feeling a little anxious, a little sad and I think even a little bit mad and I can’t quite place the reason why.

And you know what? It’s okay. It’s okay to not understand how you’re feeling or why you’re feeling the way you are all the damn time. The world’s a mess and we’re just living in it. Some days are going to be better than others and that is just life.

It’s also okay to not be okay 100% of the time but it’s definitely good to voice out that you’re not okay. You don’t have to talk about why you’re not feeling okay, because in some cases you just don’t know WHY, but don’t suffer in silence.

Find your nearest pal and get giggling. Maybe curl up in your duvet, cuddle your fave stuffed animal and watch feel good Disney (I SO WISH I could be doing that right now)

I’m going to go and stuff my face with food this lunch time and hopefully have someone crack a joke that will ease my mind.

But you know what, it really is okay not to be okay, and I’m okay with that.

How do you know when you know?

gabby-orcutt-78650

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

Today’s post is quite a personally opinionated one – so before I delve into the depths of writing, I’ll state that you do not have to agree with what I’m saying and no harm is meant to those that read….

Continue reading

The Hidden Legacy by G J Minett: Book Review

capture

Once you know, you can’t forget

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

First word: Wow. Last word: WOOOOW.

I can’t quite praise this book enough. What an amazing debut by G J Minett; it will definitely be a hard one to follow (I type this as I eagerly await the publication of his second novel Lie In Wait. March 9th guys. Note it.)

So I finished The Hidden Legacy Saturday night after being on my ‘to read’ list for quite some time. To be completely honesty I was utterly lost for words when I closed the book on the last page. I couldn’t form a sentence to express how I was feeling (in a 100% good way!) The novel is a definite page turner, that much I can tell you.

Minett has a gift. He is no doubt a writer who can do what some may think  impossible. He can split the plot in different directions yet somehow cross stitch all the pieces back together, ensuring that all the loose ends have been tied. The final twist of the novel itself had me holding my breath and it was only when I got to part four, did I actually breathe again.

The book opens with the narration of a lone young boy. It becomes increasingly obvious as the pacing of the writing quickens that this young boy is about to do something unforgettable. This is the immediate draw. For in 1966. this young boy, John Michael Adams walks into his school grounds and sets fire to two young girls. One dies, the other is scarred for life. My mouth was hanging open at the end of the prologue. I remember my eyes popping.

Flash forward to 2008 when Ellen Sutherland, a recently divorced mother of two, receives a letter from a solicitor urging her to make contact regarding the last will and testimony of one Eudora Nash. At first, Ellen believes they have the wrong person, for the name Eduora Nash means absolutely nothing to her.

Not knowing what possesses her and after a strange phone call with the Solicitor, Ellen decides to trust fate and makes a six-hour trip to the Cotswolds. And low and behold, nestled a few miles from Cheltenham, Ellen comes face to face with a picturesque cottage that, once all necessary paperwork have been signed, will belong solely to her.

Naturally, Ellen is shocked, in disbelief and most importantly, confused as to why this cottage has been left to her by someone she has never heard of. And thus, the long road to discovering answers, begins. Going back and forth between her mother whose memory has deteriorated rapidly and her boss whose like a father, the list of questions gets longer and responses are far too evasive.

The deeper Ellen digs, the more confused she becomes. The spider web continues to tangle with more questions emerging at every turn, until a faithful Reverend of the village hands her two very important letters. Letters that hold all the answers she’s been searching for. It’s just whether she is receptive to learn.

A powerful debut, Minett uses the novel to portray a number of different characters and we have the pleasure of seeing the development in the timeline through one character in particular, who manages to lace together the entirety of the plot. There are so many emotional responses to the characters and what they endure in order to hide and search and uncover the secrets from the past, that it is really hard not to sympathise with all of them.

What really grasped my heartstrings though was the concluding connection between Eudora and Ellen – something that I did not see coming and something Minett handles with easy grace. In my mind, The Hidden Legacy is not what I’d class the usual psychological thriller, but it is no doubt, undeniably one of the best of the genre from an incredible writer. It is well worth the read.

photo

***

So I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Graham and it was clear from the go, his passion for writing and for his audience is outstanding. I’m eagerly anticipating his next book, Lie In Wait. I am still so gutted I didn’t have his book on me when meeting him. It would have been an honour to have it signed!

Holiday Wish List

d

Hello fellow bloggers,

So as I mentioned in the previous post about coming into 2017 with an open mind, I can now confirm a fair few exciting things are happening. As I’ve briefly mentioned, at the end of March, which is next month because this year is going by really fast already and omfg the next thing I know, I’m going to be twenty five – a quarter of a fricking century, excuse me whilst I cry but back on point – at the end of March, I’m going to Dublin with two of my favourite people. That is going to be ever so excited. A city break will be just what the doctor orders by the time we get there.

But another exciting thing is, on Sunday, payment was confirmed and holy moly, Conner’s family and I will be flying to Crete for a week in May for Conner’s birthday. YIPEEEEE.

Sun, sea, sand and relaxation is something that everyone is crying out for by the time the fifth month of the year hits home. I’m just so happy that things are actually happening this year. I’m actually doing things, going places, affording things!

So in all this excitement, I thought I’d do a pre-holiday browse for all things HOLIDAY and low and behold, here’s a little wish list composed by moi. Head inside for a sneak peak of things “to buy” (for myself) for a little sunnin’ on the beach in Crete.

Continue reading