Feminist Reading Journey: Margaret Atwood ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Let me start this by saying no I haven’t seen the Hulu TV series yet but I fully intend to! This post however isn’t about the tv series, or the film adaptation, it’s about the novel. I actually read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ as part of my undergraduate university degree, but I had read the novel before then because, well, because I like reading!

I also want to quickly address for anyone following this series that I will be reading some new books soon, and the series will be continuing. It’s just on a little bit of a hiatus while I try to finish my dissertation and sort my life out. When it properly comes back I’ll make a blog post letting everyone know, and hopefully have my reading list on there in advance so people can read along with me if they want to. I also want to take more care with the authors I select so that I can actually start to read a variety of different experiences. I try and make my feminism intersectional, and I know at the moment I’m not doing my best to represent that in these blog posts. In terms of a time scale, posts will also be every 2 weeks so that they are not rushed. However, for everyone who hasn’t been reading the rest of my blog posts, sorry about that ramble, and don’t worry I’m going to get on to this blog post now.

First of all, there is a reason that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a classic, and for those of you who have burned before (like me) by the term ‘classic’ being bestowed upon a book because it is incredibly long and difficult to follow; don’t worry this isn’t the case here. The story (for those who don’t know) follows a woman called Offred (though this isn’t her ‘real’ name) and her life as a handmaid in the fictional dystopian future of Gilead (a military dictatorship). Her position as a handmaid in this dictatorship means that she is kept for reproductive purposes and her ‘job’ is to reproduce in an elaborate ceremony with The Commander (the male head of the household she lives at) with his wife attending (it’s as bad as it sounds).

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram 

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot than that as I don’t want to ruin anything, but think about the way reproductive rights are in the US (and continue to be in Northern Ireland, and other countries in which there are restrictions on abortion laws or abortion is illegal) and you get a sense of what is going on. Although, there was some positive news recently that women from Northern Ireland will be able to get an abortion in Britain for free. However, this verdict also came on the same day that: “Belfast’s Court of Appeal ruled abortion law in Northern Ireland should be left to the Stormont Assembly, not judges – effectively overturning an earlier ruling that the current abortion laws were incompatible with human rights laws” (Source: BBC News).

While a lot of people might argue that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is not necessarily about abortion (which, I agree with to a certain extent); because in the tale the women desire to have a baby. However, they are still being controlled and forced into that one position- their reproductive rights are being taken away from them. I’m also not the only one to have made this link as women have been seen sporting robes similar to the ones depicted in the Hulu TV series in a number of protests related to reproductive rights and the fight against misogyny.

It for this reason that the quotation I ended up choosing is: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. And this week the quotation is very apt not only in terms of equality, but in my own life. I’m coming up to the period where I’m at a bit of a transitional period in my life where I’m not quite sure where I will end up or where I will be. There is something also truly horrible in not knowing, which I hate more than just generally being in a horrible situation. However, I know I’ve just got to get on with it and things will turn around. And at a much faster rate than if I just let life take me where it may. But it’s hard, and I know my friends are finding hard, so basically in a round about way I just want to say if you’re finding everything hard that’s ok. Just try your best to let someone know that you’re finding it hard.

As always the quotation for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has been beautifully illustrated by  Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective:

The Handmaid's Tale Image

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

In regards, to the quotation it is also incredibly relevant recently, as the fight for equality has felt difficult, especially with the series of headlines hitting the media regarding gender parity. Perhaps, the most famous of which is the news of the gender wage gap within the BBC, as well as the controversy surrounding the price of the morning after pill in Boots. Especially, considering Boots’ response that if the pill was priced cheaper it might mean that Boots is “incentivising inappropriate use”. Now then more than ever we need to be banding together to fight for change, while not letting these hits grind us down. And there has already been action with a number of female stars from the BBC acting together to write a letter urging the director general to fix the pay gap.

And this links to the main thing I have seen written about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and that is that the story is not just a tale: but a warning or a sign of what is happening in our world (particularly, in the Global North, and specifically in America right now). I’ve touched on this already by discussing some of the restrictions placed on women having an abortion, but there is much more that is happening against gender equality and equal rights for everyone whatever gender they identify as (I don’t mean this remark as a flippant ‘whatever’ but as a way to include the variety of different genders people identify as) in Trump’s America.

The author of the article I just linked under ‘gender equality’ also mentions how President Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. In fact he actually pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, which is horribly ironic considering that the reason why the majority of people in Gilead are infertile is due to radioactive pollution.

Many of the practices within the novel are also present within other countries in the world not just America, particularly regarding same sex love  (in the novel women are circumcised as a punishment for this, and this is something that is still carried out today though not necessarily as a punishment for homosexuality). This practice may be more familiar to you under the name FGM or Female Genital Mutilation, which can “lead to severe bleeding, pain, complete loss of sensitivity, complications during childbirth, infertility, severe pain during sex, recurring infections and urine retention. And in some cases it is lethal. Unlike male circumcision, female genital mutilation also inhibits sexual pleasure”.

I think then now is a good a time as ever to read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (perhaps the best time) and think about how the practices described are similar or the same to practices inflicted against either gender (as there is not a lot of mention in the novel of how these practices would affect people who exist outside the gender identities of male or female) within the world. Think about then how the world Atwood describes would be like for those who exist out of the 2 gender binaries just mentioned. Most of all, write, talk and protest about the injustices that too closely mirror our own.

After all, Margaret Atwood is being heralded as the ‘voice of 2017‘ so you might as well see for yourself what she has to say. As for me I’m finally going to watch the TV show, and not let anyone grind me down any longer.

SaveSaveSaveSave

Lazy Oaf Sample Sale Haul

So I went to my first ever sample sale yesterday! All in all it was definitely crazy. I also had no sleep before so was basically a walking zombie (along with my significant other, Martin, who I dragged along). We got a 4am train into London, that’s how committed I was. I was not however first in the queue! I am though determined to be next time. For reference I got there at 6am, and so I suspect the people who got there before me had been there from about 5am. Though I couldn’t physically get there any earlier, as I left on the earliest train from where I live, so am not sure what to do for sales in the future.

However, I managed to pick up some amazing bits with the help of my new friend Ellen, and my friend Caroline (who you may know from illustrating my feminist reading journey blog posts). It was though quite terrifying. When the doors open everyone literally rushed in and by the time we got in (we were in about the first 20 people I think) half the stuff I wanted was already gone. This unfortunately included the two items I really wanted, which was the Hello Kitty denim jacket that I’d tried on in store (but had been waiting to buy, as I was hoping it would be at the sample sale because I can’t really afford it full price), and the Esther Loves You Bunny Backpack. Though I have a bit of gossip for you, apparently some of the backpacks might be restocked on the website soon!!! As for the denim jacket that’s going to take a bit of saving up for!

Hello Kitty JacketThe denim jacket of my dreams!

Image: @lazyoafs/ Instagram 

By the time I got in literally 70% of that view had already disappeared. 

There was also a few other pieces I missed out on like the rainbow cardigan (Ellen and I was glaring at everyone who had one!), as well as some of the other Hello Kitty and Esther Loves You pieces. I did however get some pieces that I kind of bought in the frenzy of the moment, or didn’t fit me when I got home so I’ve already sold them on.

For those of you who are worried about going to sample sales because they are violent and people get mean; I wanted to also share my experience in that regard. Personally while there was a lot of people (which I know can be overwhelming); the venue of the sale had quite wide walkways, which really helped. No one physically pushed or snatched anything out of my hands. If someone knocked into me they apologised. Also, for example someone grabbed a pair of the Hello Kitty jeans I wanted and said they’d give it to me if it wasn’t there size, but unfortunately for me it was, but I hope they love and enjoy them (to be honest they’d probably rock them better than me!). However, they still offered, which was still super nice.

The only thing that happened that many people might not like is that people will grab a lot of items. There was a few people who grabbed what to be honest looked like it could be 50 items, and considering that there is a 15 item limit I will admit it felt a little unfair. As obviously they weren’t able to get everything they grabbed so had to put things back, but the only way to tell would be to awkwardly hover near them. I don’t mind that people might want to decide what they want, but I will admit it was a bit excessive. However, I acknowledge that at the end of the day they got there first so I can’t really be too upset about it.

Other than that my only other complaint is that the air conditioner was not turned on until we were in the queue and already all sweaty and gross. Also, there was not that much stock. I felt sorry for the people behind me in the queue, as they only had out what was on the racks so by the time the first group had picked their stuff; there really was not a lot left.

However, enough about all the drama, let’s get to what I bought!

Lazy Oaf x Disney Cinderella Dress 

Price I paid £35.00.

Original price: £80.00 (though according to the website it do go on sale for £50.00 at one point).

My new friend Ellen very kindly grabbed this for me and I love it so much. Mainly because it’d be such a good item to wear next time I go to Disneyland (which, I’m planning to go to next year, and I can’t wait till it’s finalised so I can talk more about where in the world I’m planning to go!).

I really love the collar detail of the dress and although the fit is VERY oversized, I’m not going to lie it’s very comfy. It’s worth it for the adorable birds on the collar at the front (see the second picture) and the collar at the back (see the third picture). I think it’s also quite a good dress for walking around all day too just because it’s not restrictive in any way. I do understand how the fit wouldn’t be for everyone though, especially as the one I’m wearing is the smallest size they do.

Altogether, I personally love this dress even though Cinderella isn’t usually my go to princess at all.

Lazy Oaf Haul

Cinderella collar

Cinderella

Lazy Oaf x Disney Marie Top 

Price I paid: £20.00

Original price: £42.00

This is another purchase that Ellen secured for me (I am determined that I will make sure I get something she wants next time). I love stripe-y tops anyway but this is made even better because it has one of my Disney favourites, Marie on it. This would look so cute with some skinny jeans for a low key Disney inspired everyday look though I’m planning to wear it with some pink denim dungarees for Disney. Who knows I might even put it with my Marie denim jacket and go completely full blown with it!

The fit is also perfect for me, as it is not too long. However, I’m quite short (about 5ft 2) so for anyone tall this might be a problem. It’s also one size only so obviously it’s going to fit different sizes more oversized and less. In comparison, to the new Hello Kitty oversized black t-shirt (which, I managed to scoop up) it’s a lot shorter and a lot less oversized.

Marie top sale

Lazy Oaf x Disney Marie Cap 

Price I paid: £10.00

Original price: £28.00

So I now basically have every Marie piece bar two, which makes me very happy. Also, the reason I was so happy when I saw they had this cap (they had lots of them by the way) is because I get way too hot in the sun too easily (there’s a reason most people think I’m a natural ginger), so I like to always have a hat for hot days. And this is a lot more adorable than your usual dad cap (well it was but these kind of caps are in trend right now so I have seen some pretty cute one admittedly).

I thought this also would be a cute alternative to ears for Disneyland if it’s a bit too hot when I go! Especially, when you look at the cute ribbon detailing at the back, which just makes the hat for me (and you can use to adjust the size). The only thing I don’t like about the hat is that if you look too closely Marie looks a bit demonic, and I’m not sure if that is my hat, or if all the hats look like that.

Marie Top and Cap

Marie Trash

Being full on Lazy Oaf Marie trash and I love it. 

Marie Hat Ribbon Detailing

Lazy Oaf x Esther Loves You Crop Top 

Price I paid: £20.00

Original price: £42.00

So I just noticed that the bunny is smoking, which puts me off a tiny bit, as I’m really not a fan of smoking, but I still love this top and I didn’t notice until I noticed the item description on the original listing. Fit wise it’s about what I’d expect, but I didn’t think it’d be as super soft as it was and I think it is such a cute top for under dungarees and pinafores. Although it would also look great with a high waisted skirt or jeans too.

I’m not sure if I would have bought this if I was not just going for whatever Esther Loves You stuff that was left; but after trying it on I do quite like it so it’s still a win for me. The top is also worth it for the little Esther Loves You sticker that comes on the tag, which I’m going to spend hours debating where to stick!

Smoking bunny

Eshter Loves You Crop

Esther Loves You Sticker

Personally, I wish this was the bunny on the top, but I guess at least with the other one I’m slightly more sassy (because of it’s expression, not because of the smoking). 

Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf Cap 

Price I paid: £15.00

Original price: £25.00

I don’t know why I really need two caps, but since I have a lot of the Hello Kitty pieces for it to go with I thought I’d get it. Plus, it was one of the few Hello Kitty items left and I really wanted to come out of the sale with some Hello Kitty bits. I actually do prefer this to the Marie one though because Hello Kitty doesn’t look sinister.

Lazy Oaf x Hello Kitty Black Oversized Top 

Price I paid: £20.00

Original price: £40.00

I have to admit this is a bit too oversized for me, and I would sell it but I think it could still look cute underneath things and I might just purposely try and shrink it in the wash a bit. I do wish it was a bit shorter because I’m a short fry as well (as it’s definitely longer than the Marie oversized top). The sizing is also confusing as mine says OS on the label which usually indicates one size but on the Lazy Oaf website they said it came in either S/M or M/L so it might just be a manufacturing error (and hence why it was in the sale).

Hello Kitty Black Top

Lazy Oaf x Disney 101 Dalmatians socks 

Price I paid: £7.00

Original price: £10.00

To be honest, this is the only thing where I feel like there should have been a bit more of a discount. I know £7.00 is a lot to pay for socks, but I’ve always wanted a pair of their socks because they’re super cute and thought this might be my only chance at a discounted rate.

Lazy Oaf Alien Tops 

Price: Free

The lovely lady at the till also put two of these alien slightly cropped tops in my bag, which although are not really my style; but are loose and comfortable and will work well for bed time. I don’t know if these were put in everyone’s bags though as my boyfriend said he didn’t see her put them in the person before or being served next to me.

Alien Top

 

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Feminist Reading Journey: Marge Piercy ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

I’m happy to be back with another post in my feminist reading journey (here’s hoping I can start posting more regularly again). This time I’m focusing on Marge Piercy’s ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’, which is actually something I read in my undergraduate degree, but decided to revisit for this series. Not only because I didn’t have enough money to buy a new book but also because it is a real interesting book in terms of gender.

The novel follows Consuelo (Connie) Ramos, an Hispanic woman who is forcibly committed to a mental institution (somewhere she has been in the past for drug fuelled child abuse, which caused her to lose custody of her daughter) for fighting back against the man who was trying to force her niece Dolly to have a ‘backstreet’ abortion. In her time in the mental institution she is visited (it is never revealed if this is imaginary or not) by someone from the future called Luciente. Through Luciente Connie is able to visit the future, which a communal community where the prejudices of Connie’s time are seemingly eradicated.

Woman On The Edge Of TimeImage: aprilisthecruellestmonth/Instagram 

I won’t gave anything more away from that but let me just say there is a reason this is a classic utopian fiction novel. Though I think utopian fiction somehow doesn’t always shock as much as dystopian fiction. Something maybe, which is indicative of how we don’t notice problems until the worse happens. Hence, the increased amount of social and political commentary and criticism since Donald Trump has become President (which, I’m not saying is a bad thing). The reality of Connie’s life though is incredibly brutal and the dystopia in itself (though tragically just reality), although another dystopian future alternative to Mattapoisett (this is the residence that Connie visits in the future through Luciente) is also explored.

The future world basically plays out the core ideas of the women’s movement at the time, which we know widely have moved on to from in order to incorporate not just one perspective, and is what you will probably know as intersectional feminism. However, the novel does not ignore issues of racism, classism, homophobia or issues surrounding the destruction of the environment so is more intersectional than a lot of the critique from the era (and still that appears today).

Also, to understand Connie’s experience of the mental institution better and the concept of different experiences I think its useful to compare Connie experiences with the experiences related in Girl, Interrupted. Both woman suffer from a lack of privacy, and their agency removed. However, Susanna (played by Winona Ryder) in the film adaptation comes from what appears to be a middle class background and is white (at least this is the case for the film- I have read the book but can’t remember if there was any direct references to financial background). While her experiences in the mental institution are far from therapeutic if something happened to Susanna there would be people that would care, and it would not be as easily dismissed. However, it is important to note in the 1960s in general using psychiatry to control women was still commonplace (and actively criticised by the feminist movement) with Diazepam (Valium), which became known as ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ regularly prescribed to woman to cope with the pressures of being a housewife.

Themes, which were present in Season 1 of the popular show Mad Men, where Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) is told by his wife’s (Betty Draper portrayed by January Jones) psychiatrist what they discuss during their sessions. The way it is framed suggests that this behaviour is most definitely commonplace, and all it did was serve to infantilise Betty even further (which, was arguably contributed to her needing to seek help in the first place).

Betty Draper Mad MenImage: Mad Men/ AMC/ Lionsgate Television

However, there are fewer narratives of what the experience of being a mental institution is like for a woman of colour (this novel being the first I have personally come across), with the general psychiatric patient presented to us by the media as thin, white and generally ‘misunderstood’ (thereby trivialising mental illness). Even depictions in film  that are regarded as doing a good job at exploring mental illness, I have not personally seen show the experiences of a woman of colour experiencing mental illness (if there are examples, please direct me to them).

This is why Piercy’s novel is refreshing, and although as far as I can tell the experiences in the novel do not come from her personal biography, for the novel Marge Piercy was careful to talk to, “past and present inmates of mental institutions who shared their experiences with me” (taken from the acknowledgements page of the novel).

One other important theme within the novel is family, and the expectation that a woman should live only for her family. Connie is a primary example of this, as she is expected by members of her family (especially her brother) to be subservient and grateful no matter what. Because she’s a woman. She also carries the guilt of what happened with her daughter during the time she was going through the grief of losing someone dear to her. Everything Connie does is tied to family, and all the blood, sweat and tears she has lost because of them is dismissed. It is what she is supposed to do.

Hence, why I chose this quote from the novel for this blog post, which has been illustrated by the lovely Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective:

“You’ll do what women do. You’ll pay your debt to your family for your blood.”

Marge Piercy

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

‘Woman on the Edge Of Time’ is heartbreaking, defiant and hopeful all at once and that is why it is a classic piece of both feminist and utopian literature. Whether you are living in a situation where the prejudices against you are depicted still exist entirely or not this is an important novel to remind yourself that preventing these experiences is something that has been fought for a long time, and we should not let ourselves revert back.

 

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Hello Kitty Topshop Pop Up Shop Mini Haul

As you have all probably realised by now I have a serious weakness for Hello Kitty. If you are new welcome, my name is April, and be prepared for a lot of Hello Kitty. So this haul all started because I was scrolling my Instagram and saw on the official Hello Kitty Instagram that they had a pop up shop in Topshop till the 1st July.

Knowing that I had missed out on this last year from watching videos from a Youtuber called Princess Fancypants (if you love Lazy Oaf or Hello Kitty she is the Youtuber for you and has posted some really useful videos like what it is like going to a Lazy Oaf sample sale) I decided I couldn’t miss it this year. Especially as the theme this year was Hello Kitty gang themed (and I like to pretend I am sassier than I am).

Despite wanting pretty much everything they had there I was able to restrain myself and only got 3 items, and in my defence for one of them I actually needed it!

The first thing I got was this adorable customised Hello Kitty phone case (and the only thing I actually needed). They had two different designs to chose from and you could choose whether you wanted a white or black ring around the edge. I went for white just because I thought it would match my phone better.

For a Iphone 6S phone case customised it was £18.00, and took about 10 minutes to complete. You are able to have your first name (or whatever name or word you want to be fair) at the top and then at the bottom above the words ‘Hello Kitty Gang’ you can have up to three initials.  I ended up having three initials so I could include my middle name, as I think it looks classier somehow (don’t lie you can totally see those initials on a satchel bag looking swanky).

Apri Hello Kitty Phone Case

Here’s a picture of all the other options, and if I hadn’t chosen the one I did I would have definitely gone for the one of the Hello Kitty with her hands on her hips and a ‘Milk’ sweatshirt (which if they sold I would have definitely bought not going to lie).

Hello Kitty Phone Case Options

The only other clothing I got was the pink oversized hoodie, which was a debacle in itself. As basically I wanted the biggest size so a size large because I wanted it to be super big and comfy so I could just live in it essentially but all I could see was mediums. So I went to the till and I paid for my medium and my phone case.

This was an event in itself because I went to one of the tills, and kept being told I could buy the hoodie there and then getting told I couldn’t because that particular till (the jewellery counter on Topshop Oxford Street on the ground floor) didn’t process clothing. However, because it was part of the pop up they eventually let it go through. I then went back to the Hello Kitty stand to show I’d paid for the phone case so she could get to work, and then noticed that there was in fact a large hoodie. Unfortunately, I couldn’t refund it at the till I just paid at but had to go to the bottom floor (-2) to get a refund, though they also let me buy the pin badge that I forget to get the first time. By the way quick side note I’ve started collecting pins so be sure to watch this space!

So by then Martin who had graciously went with me was probably dying as he hates clothes shops because he hates large crowds of people, which I totally sympathise with but my love of clothes usually wins out. Also, I’m not recalling this story to call out the Topshop staff, as they were totally lovely the entire way through- I just wanted to share my stress with you all!

Anyway, getting back on point the hoodie was £28.00, which while not cheap I didn’t think was too bad for a hoodie, and it is super cute and comfy. I know that screen printing might not be a lot of people’s preference, and its definitely not as well made as the Lazy Oaf collection but I needed an oversized hoodie that was not stolen from my boyfriend, and for some reason that shade of pink really suits me.

Hello Kitty Hoodie

Hello Kitty Hoodie 2

Here’s what it looks like on. I will get better pictures soon I promise but wanted to get this post up as soon as possible so people would still have a chance to visit the pop up before it leaves. I had the hoodie on because it was pouring it down with rain and for the first time in forever (yes that is a Frozen reference) I was cold.

My final purchase as already mentioned was the Hello Kitty pin, which basically proclaims you as a member of Hello Kitty’s gang. This was £5.00, which is not bad and I highly recommend that everyone gets one so we can all identify each other as fellow gang members.

Hello Kitty Pins

I’ve taken pictures of all the other things they have on sale so you can see if there is anything else you prefer. If I’d have had the money I would have totally got one of the white t-shirts. Since I am a terrible blogger (and socially awkward) I was too nervous and forget to note down the prices for everything but hopefully the prices of the other items give you a good indication of what everything was priced at.

The other warmer option available is a grey sweatshirt with the same logo that is on the hoodie. I actually do know the price of this as it’s visible in the picture I took, so for those wondering as far as I can see this item is £25.00.

Hello Kitty Sweatshirt

Here’s a better picture from the Hello Kitty Instagram so you can see what it looks like on.

Have you joined #HELLOKITTYGANG yet? #hellokitty #topshop

A post shared by Hello Kitty (@wearehellokitty) on

Image: @wearehellokitty/ Instagram 

Looking at it now I kind of wish I had bought this shirt (below) but you know having money is also nice. It would look super cute with the gingham trousers from the Hello Kitty Lazy Oaf Collection though. I unfortunately don’t know how much this is priced at because I am a horrible blogger and didn’t look.

Hello Kitty T-shirt

Another thing I wished I would have been able to pick up is one of the caps because I suspect the heat is probably going to come back and hats really help me to well not melt in the heat and this would have been a super cute option.

Hello Kitty Gang Hats

They also had Hello Kitty bum bags but unless I am selling stuff at a car boot (which, I have done many times I’ll have you know) then bum bags are not my friend. Also, please no one call them a fanny pack around me.

Hello Kitty Bum Bags

There was also a super cute tote bag available but I have way too many of those already so had to pass but the logo did look particularly adorable on them.

Hello Kitty Tote Bag

Other merchandise included what I think are keychains (though they are massive but customisable) and mugs (which you could customise and were super cute and I wanted one but I actually needed a phone case and I don’t need a mug), as well as notebooks (which I don’t think you could customise).

Hello Kitty Key Chains

Hello Kitty Girl Gang Main Image

The collection is only available till the 1st July so if you want something I’d pick it up soon, as it’s a cute way to add a bit of Hello Kitty into your life without it being too ‘childish’ if that is not your style (though I personally don’t care at all about that). The pop up is located at the Oxford Street Topshop on the ground floor just in front of the Lola’s Cupcakes stand.

If you get a pin and want to join my gang send me a picture of you wearing it by tagging me on Instagram or on Twitter. My username for Instagram is @aprilisthecruellestmonth and for Twitter is @aprilcruelmonth.

Overall though this is a super cute collection for those who want some Hello Kitty merchandise but can’t afford anything from the Lazy Oaf collection.

What I got for my Birthday: 2017 (Age 22)

So it was my birthday recently (the 12th June) and I turned 22. And pardon the pun but I am not feeling 22. Anyone older than me is going to laugh but 22 just feels so much older than 21. It doesn’t help that I feel like I’m going through another career crisis again where I’m not sure about what job my skills are best aligned for. At the moment though I just would like to earn enough to survive, and then figure out how I’m going to take the world by storm (tragic I know but we all have to start somewhere).

Let me also just start this post by stating that I am not doing this post in any way to boast about what I got for my birthday. I know I am very lucky and privileged to have this many people care for me and take the time to send me cards and presents. I just have always enjoyed these kinds of post on YouTube, so wanted to do my own blog version. Plus, another reason I started this blog was to make sure I not let significant moments just go by anymore. Forcing myself to catalogue everything in this way is the best scrapbook I will ever make and it means you get the thrill of delving into my not so fascinating private life.

Before I talk about the presents I received I first want to thank everyone who sent me cards, which includes my godmother Rita, my Nanny and Grandad, my aunts, Dave, Karen (who also got me some awesome TIGI Bed Head Colour Goddess shampoo and conditioner, which I would have took a photograph of but I’ve used half it already so it’s looking a bit worse for wear!), and to Holly who treated me to a meal at Harvester before my birthday. Also, thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday on Facebook. If I’ve missed anyone out I sincerely apologise, it’s just being an idiot trust me, rather than a personal slight.

But now let’s get to the presents. I first have to talk about what my mother got me, though she is in fact yet to get the present (because she wants to give it to me in person) but I know that she is getting me some vegan Dr Martens. Expect to see me wearing them constantly as soon as I get them!

Before I show the rest of my presents however I’d like to apologise for my hideous carpet in advance- I did not chose it as I rent the property I’m living in.

From my boyfriend…

The Kat Von D Alchemist Palette 

The Alchemist PaletteI am especially fond of the rainbow effect that occurs when light reflects off the packaging. 

Alchemist Palette Inside

So it appears that constantly sending your boyfriend links to makeup pays off. In fact, he was actually really sweet and signed up to the notification list for the product (it sold out pretty quickly when it first came out) so he could buy it soon again as soon as it was back in stock.

Before this palette I was already a big fan of Kat Von D makeup. Firstly, because it’s vegan and cruelty free, and secondly because the liquid lipstick shades are ridiculously beautiful (which reminds me I NEED more of them- I only have Lolita II and Nosferatu so far).

The alchemist palette is kind of an all in one highlightet. I’ve experimented with it as a eyeshadow, on top of liquid lipstick and as a highlighter- all of which work! I have to say my favourite has been using it on top of eyeshadow and on top of my eyeliner (to turn it a bright blue!) but this is also partly because I need some more darker lipstick shades for the colours to really pop on top of lipstick (for lipstick I definitely recommend using a brush to apply).

You’ve probably already seen a million swatches of the product already but I took a quick swatch on the back of my hand if anyone is interested (finger swatches- no primer). From left to right the colours are green/emerald, blue/ sapphire, (by the way I have an insect bite under that swatch, apologises!) ultra-violet/ amethyst, pink/ opal. The palette is also tiny but I’ve been experimenting quite a lot and barely dented it so far so a little product definitely goes a long way.

Alchemist Palette swatches

Alchemist Palette Shades

Inside the Alchemist Palette 2

Chocolate and flowers 

I know that for a lot of people chocolate and flowers are kind of clichéd but I just really love having flowers in the room (plus I like using some of the petals to make dried flowers, which make your books smell nice too).

Also, it was nice to come home after work (yes, I worked on my birthday, I am a living martyr!) and see the chocolates and roses waiting on my bed.

Martin's presentRose Birthday

From my Grandad 

My grandad always likes to give each member of a our family a mixture of different pieces he’s picked up, or what he dubs a pandora’s box for our birthday. So I’ll go through each item one by one.

A blue pendant 

For anyone who looks at my Instagram story (so my sisters and Callie basically) you might have caught a glimpse of me wearing this necklace on my latest trip to London. I am also wearing a birthday present from my friend Callie in this photograph (and in the rose photograph as well), but more on that later.

Blue Pendant

Small ornament

I’m not really sure what this is or if it is of any historical significance but as far as I can tell it is a little tableau scene that you could prop up like a picture frame. Ideal for those who like to have a little bit of a vintage theme to their room. Since, I’m considering using the theme ‘vintage rose’ to decorate my room in the future this should fit in perfectly.

Small ornament 

Rose Scented Gifts 

My grandad recently went to Bulgaria to visit his sister so for my birthday I received a lot of rose scented items, as I believe that is a signature of Bulgaria. I haven’t tried them out yet so I will let you know how I find them but the packaging for the products is beautiful.

 

 

Rose Face Cream

 

 

 

 

Rose themed box 

So there was definitely a rose theme going on with the box, which I throughly appreciated since my favourite flowers are roses. This box also fits my ‘vintage rose’ theme nicely, and will be a great box to store jewellery in.

 

 

Owl ornament 

The other theme of the box was owls and reading. I don’t know about anyone else but owls and reading have always been linked together in my imagination, and since my grandad has always known me to be a bookworm I appreciated this theme a lot.

Owl ornament

Owl bookmark 

I love, love, love decorative bookmarks like this. It beats what I used to use as bookmarks any day, which was usually whatever was lying around so everything from receipts to spoons (yes, spoons). This is definitely a much prettier option.

Bookmark

Beatrix Potter bookplates 

I think this is a really lovely idea for anyone who has a lot of books, or someone you know who has put a great deal of time putting together a collection they want to keep or pass on. Basically, they are little pieces of card, which you can write your name on and stick into your books so everyone knows who that book belongs to. I also love that these are Beatrix Potter themed as I had the whole collection when I was younger (and hopefully still do- my book collection is everywhere) and loved them (and still do).

Bookplates

Notebook (with possible religious iconography) 

I get through notebooks with ridiculous speed so I am always very grateful to receive more of them. I’m not sure if the symbols on the front of this are religious, as I definitely think I see a cross. I don’t count myself belonging to any particular faith, though I don’t have any issues with using a notebook with this imagery unless anyone has any issues with me using it.

 

 

Leather gloves 

The last item I received are something I am going to give to another member of my family who is comfortable with wearing leather, as I’m not. I know my grandad wont ‘t offended by this (he probably did not know I don’t wear leather, as the subject hasn’t really come up between us).

Leather gloves

From my friend, Callie

My friend Callie was actually the one who made the cake in the main image for this article (with help from her friend Vickii who actually bakes for a living!). It was a glittery unicorn cake (as she knows I have a problem) with jelly beans in the middle (as I was really craving jelly beans the week before my birthday so subtly suggested they should be included in the cake).

Unicorn cake

Unfortunately because of the heat a lot of the roses melted but it still looked absolutely gorgeous (it also tasted amazing).

Inside of cake

The cake itself was raspberry and vanilla flavoured with funfetti sprinkles baked into the cake. It was also massive as you can tell from the picture above.

I actually have a video of me cutting into the cake and getting slightly stuck because I didn’t realise how big it was but I can’t upload it here, as it requires upgrading my WordPress plan (which, I really should probably do but I am also broke- the video is also not that interesting).

Pug Mug 

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a minor obsession with pugs! Though to clarify I want to make it clear that I believe breeders should be encouraged to breed pugs with other breeds to help their health problems or make sure they breed the pugs with the least health issues. One day I dream to have my own pug, who I will love more than anything (sorry Martin though you knew this was coming), but for now thanks to Callie I have my very own pug mug for hot chocolates and green tea, as they are the only hot drinks I drink!

 

 

Lime Crime Velventines True Love Set 

Lime Crime is cruelty free and vegan. Two things I look for in my makeup (as a rule I won’t wear anything that is not cruelty free, and I try to wear vegan makeup as much as possible). These shades are also beautiful, especially the darkest shade. I’ve told Callie (who is a makeup queen and needs to do my makeup one day) that I’ve wanted to try some darker shades, as I’ve only really wore light shades and this shade did not disappoint. It wasn’t too dark to overwhelm me and it had a nice warmth to it that compliments my pale, freckly skin. You can see the picture of me holding one of the roses Martin bought me above, or the image of me wearing the blue pendant my grandad bought me to see what it looks like on me!

True Love Lime Crime

Here’s also some swatches on my really hairy arms! If anyone has any swatches of this product on a darker skin tone to mine and is happy for me to include them in this blog post let me know! I’m sure though there is a lot of swatches online of this product- I just wanted to highlight what they look like on my complexion.

Lime Crime True Love swatches

Also, the brown shade is really far apart from the others because I’m an idiot basically. The swatches on my hand are also the opposite way round to how you see the shades in the picture with the packaging.

Jelly Bean Magnet 

I think the magnet says it all really…

Fridge magnet

Though to be clear I do actually consume a lot of vegetables because as a person I’m quite healthy apart from my massive sweet tooth.

Tinkerbell Notepad

Tinkerbell is small and sassy so therefore I feel like we connect on a spiritual level. I’m sure quite a few people who know me will agree.

Tinkerbell notepad

Martin’s family 

I won’t mention all of Martin’s family individually by name in case they don’t want me too but thank you all of you for my present and card. Special thanks to Martins’s mum especially for sending it in the post to me.

Fjallraven Kanken Pastel Pink Backpack 

I LOVE this. Seriously, it’s so comfy and I really don’t get the strain I’ve experienced with other backpacks on the back when I wear it. Ever since I got it I’ve took it with me everywhere and since my colour palette is pretty much either pastels or black it goes with everything. I would definitely recommend this backpack for university or college (as it has a built in system that ensures laptops, etc. will be kept upright) and also as a day backpack for travelling. In this weather (I am not enjoying the UK heatwave!) I also appreciate the two spaces at the side of the backpack where you can store water bottles.

It also makes me miss when my hair was this colour.

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

 

In my parcel was also a Cadbury’s bar but I’ve already demolished that so there’s no picture for that I’m afraid!

So that’s everything I got for my birthday this year! Despite the crisis it brought on I am thoroughly happy with everything I got and so grateful for everyone who liked me enough to buy me presents. I hope I can do as well as you all did for your birthdays!

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

The Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf Collection is here

Image: Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective 

I am beyond excited that the Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf collection is finally here. I’ve been waiting for it to come out ever since I saw a teaser for the collection on Lazy Oaf’s Instagram.

1 month Hello Kitty countdown starts now… #HelloKittyxLazyOaf

A post shared by Lazy Oaf (@lazyoafs) on

Image: Instagram/ @lazyoafs 

I mean just look at that skirt! It’s anyone who is obsessed with Hello Kitty dream! So you can bet I was over the moon when I heard that Lazy Oaf would be opening their shop on the 15th June to debut the collection, and that the first 50 people would receive an exclusive Hello Kitty bag. Now, I was not able to go to the shop myself, as I was not able to afford something from the collection and train fare to London, but my friend Caroline was able to go so I have an exclusive look at what the bag looked like!

Lazy Oaf Hello Kitty bagImage: Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective 

Isn’t it cute? But just look at the queue she had to wait in to get it!

Lazy Oaf QueueImage: Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective 

Also, Caroline was lovely enough to take some snaps of the store for me! And unsurprisingly it was the giant Hello Kitty plush in the store that excited me the most.

Hello Kitty PlushImage: Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective 

The collection itself also is just so cute, and I wish I could have seen the skirt that started the obsession for me in person but alas I’m going to have to earn some more money before that ever becomes a reality.

Hello Kitty Lazy Oaf SkirtImage: Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective 

She also got a cute snap of the pyjama style Hello Kitty top they are selling that I have to admit is not my favourite piece from the collection but looks adorable in the snap Caroline got.

Lazy Oaf Pyjama topImage: Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective 

Also, just look at the jacket!!! Before I realised that financially it was not going to happen this was the piece I was going to buy from the collection!

😍💗 😭 I want you!!!!

A post shared by TheKawaiiKollective (@carolinehorimoto) on

Image: Instagram/ @thekawaiikollective 

However, let’s get down to the collection and what I think of each piece. Starting with the Hello Kitty face skirt. I don’t really know what to say about this piece other than I love it so much though I will admit it was a struggle at first to figure out what to pair it with because it is such a statement piece. In the end I think a simple black crop top is probably the best choice.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

£65.00 (and is already sold out on the Lazy Oaf website 😦 here’s hoping they restock soon!) 

Next up is this long sleeve number that makes great use of the primary colours that are often featured in Hello Kitty merchandise (when pink isn’t). I think this would look great tucked into a red skirt or just worn with some jeans on lazy days. While I love the blue collar and red sleeve details this is not one of my favourite pieces from the collection just because some of the other pieces just stand out that little bit more to me.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth

Priced at £50.00.  

Next up is the piece I wanted to buy so much but is also the most expensive piece in the collection coming in at £120.00. I wanted this jacket because I am just such a fan of Lazy Oaf’s denim jackets and this jacket just ticks all the boxes of what my aesthetic is at the moment, which is pastel colours and a cute cartoon character involved in some way basically.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £120.00.

Lazy Oaf MarieImage: Instagram/ aprilisthecruellestmonth

As you can see I already own a Lazy Oaf x Disney Marie jacket, which is one of the softest and most comfortable things I own! 

Next up is probably my least favourite item from the collection not that I hate it or wouldn’t totally wear it if someone bought it for me it just doesn’t stand out to me as much as some of the other pieces!

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth

Priced at £75.00. 

I was so tempted to make this next top my pick from the collection. As not only is it adorable, but it has a lovely frilly neckline, which I’ve been loving on tops at the moment. However, after seeing the blogger Mariza (who was sent some items from the collection) rock a different item from the collection I changed my mind.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £38.00. 

Ok, so recently I’ve warmed to the idea of MOM jeans but have yet to actually go down the rabbit hole of buying them. One because it’s ridiculously hot at the moment. And two because they look like they have no stretch. My butt requires jeans that stretch. If I ever do finally go for the trend these jeans with cute tiny embroidered Hello Kitty’s on them are first on my list.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £75.00. 

Next up is the item I did actually end up buying from the collection (pictures to come as soon as it arrives!). I just fell in love with the statement turtleneck (despite the heat) and I miss having red tops in my collection so thought this would the perfect piece. Plus, it will look great with my denim pinafore from Topshop.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £40.00.

So this is the piece I actually want the most next because it just compliments the red turtleneck perfectly! Also, I love the uniqueness of the straps as a way to incorporate Hello Kitty into the design.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £78.60 on the Lazy Oaf website but for some reason is £75.00 on Asos.

If you want a bit more adult chic to your Hello Kitty clothing the black keyhole dress is the piece for you. It’s definitely got the style of something I’d wear on a night out but the little Hello Kitty can serve as a reminder not to do anything too ridiculous (which, for me is just wanting to dance- that’s literally all I want to do when drunk).

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £65.00. 

If you just want something cute and Hello Kitty themed to lounge around in the next piece is probably for you. As not only is this hoodie covered in loads of little Hello Kitty details it looks ridiculously comfy too.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £75.00. 

So this next piece is probably my personal least favourite item from the collection though I suspect a lot of people will love the bow back detail to the shirt. For me personally I just don’t know how I’d wear it and it just doesn’t fit my own personal style. I suspect though like most pieces that have even a little element of cool to them, someone a lot more fashionable than me could probably rock it.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth (front of shirt) 

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth (back of shirt) 

Priced at £72.00. 

For anyone who loves Hello Kitty but doesn’t want a piece that grabs too much attention this cute simple black t-shirt with Hello Kitty surrounded by two roses is perfect! It definitely goes on my list of pieces I want to buy once I have the money, as sometimes going simple just is best.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £40.00. 

I don’t know about anyone else but I am pale and freckly and definitely feeling the effects of the heat right now. That’s why investing in this adorable Hello Kitty baseball cap is most definitely a good idea. After all, anyone who reads my posts knows I can deal with baseball caps, as long as it is not a visor!

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth

Priced at £25.00.

Anyone who has read any of my fashion posts before knows that I am OBSESSED with gingham so when I saw these adorable trousers I fell in love. I also think that incorporating Hello Kitty just by including her signature bow is such an ingenious tribute and makes it a wearable piece for Hello Kitty lovers and non-lovers alike.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £70.00. 

Also, this isn’t a pairing that I’d of automatically made myself but they actually look super cute with yellow!

Bags smiling so you don't have to 🏁☹️🏁via @iamkareno sneak peeking #HelloKittyxLazyOaf

A post shared by Lazy Oaf (@lazyoafs) on

Image: Instagram/ @lazyoafs

The next piece is something that I’d totally rock for bedtime but I have to admit I’m not into the whole nightwear for daytime look. Especially, as by looking at the description this is made of a pyjama friendly material. To be honest I’d probably end up just falling asleep in the middle of the day if I wore it.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £55.00. 

I was so happy when I saw that this cute little heart shaped bag was not made out of real leather! Now, it can definitely go on my must buy list. Especially as I need some more bags for when I want to just take my phone and purse out (not that happens often but still!).

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth

Priced at £38.00.  

SOCKS! If you haven’t guessed already last but not least are some frankly quite adorable socks. At £18.00 for 2 pairs I’m not going to lie they are some pretty pricey socks but if you are as obsessed with this collection as I am you could probably be convinced to part with that money.

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Image: Lazy Oaf on Pinterest/ aprilisthecruellestmonth 

Priced at £18.00 respectively. 

Overall, I am in love with this collection and definitely hope that all the pieces don’t sell out before I can buy them! I also really love the way the collection used some really inventive ways to incorporate Hello Kitty as a brand and aesthetic into some very Lazy Oaf-esque pieces. It’s not surprising to me at all that some of the pieces are already sold out and that is flying off the shelves. Lazy Oaf has definitely got it right again!

The collection is available in sizes UK 6-14 (as far as I could tell), which to be honest is a little disappointing, and my only real criticism of Lazy Oaf is that I wish they were more inclusive and would offer a larger size range. Especially as looking at their measurements their clothes tend to occasionally run quite small. Also, can Lazy Oaf please expand to shoes?!

Just think about what Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf shoes would like…

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave