5 Gift Ideas for the Bookworm in your life

Featured5 Gift Ideas for the Bookworm in your life

With the 25th of December looming closer and closer, panic can start to arise about the perfect gifts to give to loved ones. And while trying to find a gift for a bookworm can appear pretty easy at first (they just want books, don’t they?), it may seem less so if you are trying to “think out of the box” and surprise them with a more something more unique and thoughtful. Do not fear, for this year I have taken it upon myself to provide some inspiration (I’m hoping this will allow me to apply for the position of Santa’s helper next year).

1. Book Purse

Not forgetting my manners, I begin with ladies first.

Every girl, at one point or another, has complained about her clothes not having enough pockets, resulting in the need to carry around bags and purses of various sizes – I have personally always looked for bags that can fit my books, otherwise, what is the point of them?

And while having your purse-gift fulfill this criteria is worthy of all my admiration, why not step out of the comfort of a store-brought bag and get one that your bookish lady will love even more? What about getting her a book that is the bag?

You need not look farther than Bookarelli on Etsy – Jo makes the most amazing bags from your favourite book covers. There is a wide selection to pick from, or you could get in contact with her and request a custom order. It’s no secret that Etsy is a golden mine when it comes to amazing, unique gifts; add handmade to the list and the recipient is bound to love it.

2. Candles

What are a bookworm’s go-tos when preparing to settle down for a reading session? Comfy seating, cozy blankets, a cup of tea – and candles. They rarely get left out of the list of essentials; not only do they help fill the room with amazing smells, but they can also affect the mood. You wouldn’t channel the badassness of Katniss Everdeen if you were reading something like Edgar Allan Poe.

Candle scents named after characters are amazing for helping channel that character’s attitude, without risking another reading marathon (because you were looking for that one quote that perfectly captures their personality), helping you get through any school reading, by reminding you about your favourite books, as well as doing what candles do best, and making your space feel comforting.

I have been obsessed with such candles since I discovered TheFrangranceLibrary – on Etsy, you guessed it! Their Harry Potter collection is to die for – and their most extensive. They have been branching out however, and there are several fandoms to choose from now.

3. Clothes

Do you have a more safe, fail-proof approach when it comes to gifts? Then you will probably be familiar with this one. But because advising you to buy a fandom t-shirt is too vague and not at all helpful, there are a few, more specific ideas that might do the trick!

I think that scarves are underrated and underappreciated when it comes to being gifted. Gifting scarves allows for various ways to be creative: you can get one with books or book covers, or with the person’s favourite book quotes. In either case, it is not constraining to one fandom, which means that you can’t go wrong if you don’t quite know what they’re into.

A gift that we all hate as children, but ends up becoming one of our favourites as adults is socks! Socks are essential to bringing that cozy feeling during reading sessions, which is what makes them a great gift for book enthusiast. And there are many styles to choose from, making it a fun experience when buying them, too – they can be fandom themed, or have quotes on them, or simply call someone out for being a book nerd. I love the ones that have “shh, I’m reading” on their soles. However, I have to confess that my all time favourite socks (even more than the ones with unicorns, yes!) are art ones – with various famous works of art and artists.

4. Literary inspired makeup

I have a slightly complicated relationship with makeup – my oily skin type, as well as having hooded eyes, can make it hard sometimes for me to wear too much makeup or recreate looks that I have seen online. However, I do love it (it’s just unfortunate that I can’t use it to its full potential), and lately I have been even more in love with it, because it now appeals to my inner fangirl and bookworm, too.

I have been loving Storybook Cosmetics since their beginning – they started off with a Harry Potter eyeshadow palette, in the shape of a book titled “Wizardry and Witchcraft”, and have continued to expand their amazing makeup collection ever since. They now have several eyeshadow palettes from various fandoms, liquid lipsticks, and amazing brushes (the rose-shaped ones inspired by Beauty and the Beast are my favourite). They make for some amazing gifts!

5. Jewellery

Finishing off with another simple, flexible idea. Jewellery can come in many shapes and sizes – there are earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings – and many ways to personalise them, but there are a few ideas that I love.

I don’t wear earrings often, but if I had tiny versions of my favourite books as earrings, I would wear them all the time! This can be used for necklaces as well – I cannot imagine any bookworm not loving the opportunity to wear their favourite book around their neck all the time. You can take a more general approach if you don’t happen to know what books they love, and simply go for a plain book cover instead, or a book stack. This can also work for guys, too – book cufflinks, anyone? A great way to make a suit stand out!

You know what really grinds my gears, even during the festive season? People who use your and you’re wrong. Sometimes I wish I had a pair of those cute word earrings with these two words – it would make correcting people so much easier. If you have a grammar nazi you need to buy gifts for, get them some of those. But they are not limited to words which are often used wrong, nor only to earrings – I have seen lovely rings with the names of famous couples, which can be an amazing gift for your significant other (you each get one half of your favourite OTP) or best friends (because sharing OTP rings is much more awesome than sharing “best friend”).

 

 

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Summer Well – and why it’s my favourite summer weekend

Summer Well – and why it’s my favourite summer weekend

It’s been over two weeks since my favourite music festival in Romania finished.

Yet I am still scrolling through my photo gallery, re-living that glorious weekend, with tickets for next year already brought, eagerly awaiting next August.

Summer Well’s tagline, “a festival like a holiday”, is the best way to sum up the festival. It manages to combine the relaxation of lazy Sunday with the hype of club. Two things that sound like they would never go well together are combined to form a delicious cocktail of an experience, something I have only found at Summer Well.

Even before stepping foot on the grounds of the Stirbey Domain, where the festival has been hosted for seven years now, you’re already a new person. The giddy excitement of the festival goers queueing in front of the entrance is a contagious, transformative sight. With glittery faces, neon colours, sheer tops and colourful hair, it’s hard not to catch the excitement of the mass of people who share the same love as you for this festival. And once you’re actually inside the Domain, it’s like you’re entering a bubble of good music, delicious food, and great atmosphere. It’s hard to believe the busy city of Bucharest is only half an hour away from this place.

This year Summer Well outdid itself and gave us an extra evening of our favourite festival. Usually beginning on the second Saturday of August, this year proved to be an exception, because on Friday, Summer Well started with a Night Picnic. The highlight of the evening was a full hour of the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra playing covers of songs from the 11 artists that were to perform over the weekend. There were picnic blankets scattered all across the grass in front of the stage, gathered around the small tables with homely decorations. The food court, organised in the style of a food festival, was opened ahead of the festival weekend, too. Night Picnic gave us a taste of the artists that were soon to step on stage, as well as proving to be the most opportune time to explore the Domain ahead of the busy weekend.

It was a very cosy evening, even with the huge turnout.

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On Saturday, things got into full swing. Oh Wonder were the first up on stage, and they drew in quite the crowd! They were one of the acts I had been very excited to see at Summer Well, and were better than I could have imagined. Their presence on stage was only matched by Glass Animals – they sang beautifully, they danced around, and what I loved the most, they interacted with the crowd. One of the most memorable moments happened between songs, when Josephine said she had been learning Romanian ahead of the festival, and knew how to say “buna” (hello) and “la revedere” (goodbye), Anthony commenting that it sounded like she was ordering a salad!

HONNE followed this amazing opening duo, who likewise blew me away.I surely missed them last year, when they had to cancel last-minute, but they truly made it up to Summer Well lovers with their performance. They sang all the favourites, and left everyone humming “Warm on a cold night” even after they had left the stage.

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Sunday was the highlight of the festival. Nothing But Thieves, Birdy, and Glass Animals were all to hit the stage, and people were excited. It was even more crowded than it had been the previous two days, yet it only added to the atmosphere.

It was such a lovely feeling to see what a diverse crowd Nothing But Thieves gathered, and it truly made me realise that music does bring us all together – when you’re focused on the band and their songs, it doesn’t matter who the people dancing along beside you are, what’s important is your shared love for the same music. The band have an amazing presence on stage, Conor was captivating to watch. I didn’t want their act to end!

 

They were followed by an emotional show from Birdy. She has such an emotive voice and a very captivating presence on stage, even from behind her (very pretty) piano. I managed to keep my eyes dry, but the same can’t be said for most of the crowd. Birdy kept the audience on their toes, switching between upbeat and soulful songs. Despite the rain that made its appearance halfway through her act, all her fans sang along as loud as ever.

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My favourites, however, were Glass Animals – I had been looking forward to seeing them ever since the lineup was announced! And I wasn’t the only one – a sea of pineapples rose above the crowd in anticipation of the band. They put on quite a show – from the gigantic, gold pineapple they brough on stage, to Dave Bayley getting off it to sing among the crowd. It was wild from the beginning to the end! I lost my voice from all the singing/shouting along, and despite being crammed between all the other Glass Animals fans, I danced my heart out. They were my favourite thing about Summer Well 2017.

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Other than the amazing lineup, Summer Well has earned a place in my heart thanks to the multitude of things you can get up to while you’re cooling off from all the musical hype. One of its biggest sponsors, Orange had its famous tent and pool lounging area set up as per tradition, with VR experiences, charging stations for phones, and a temporary tattoo station. It also offered festival goers an outdoor cinema experience. There was also a zip line, allowing for a higher view of the festival. For the more adventurous, there was paddle boarding, and for those who wanted a moment of calm, there was yoga. And if you wanted to get away from the crowd but not away from the music, there was a DJ stage that allowed you to do just that.

There is always something for everyone at Summer Well.

This year, besides all the music fans, the festival was also attended by a lama, a pony and a peacock! Other friendly animals included a light up flamingo and a giant cat.

Summer Well puts on exhibition various pieces by a different artist each year, and this year, they included a giant swing and an even bigger slide.

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And let’s not forget that Summer Well also doubles up as a mini food festival thanks to their continuously expanding food court and drink stands. (They offer so much choice that I have never eaten the same thing twice, and I still find myself wanting to try new food stands every year). I tried shaved ice for the first time ever, and I was very impressed with it. And although I am not a big fan of energy drinks, Red Bull had some amazing cocktails, and I ended up drinking more energy drinks than I have had in my whole life.

There’s a lot to do and take in while at Summer Well. A leisurely stroll around the Stirbey Domain offers some amazing sights, such as the Stirbey castle and its church. And after all that walking, the lounge areas, where you can take a moment and rest your feet, are a welcoming sight.

I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the next edition of Summer Well!

 

How to get through deadlines

How to get through deadlines

I have very strong reactions when “deadline” is mentioned – I get terrible flashbacks of sleepless nights, copious amounts of caffeine, stress and anxiety. I am certain that I am not the only one who feels this way, because deadlines are scary and I have yet to meet someone who associates that word with anything positive. Which is why I feel that it is important to try and learn how to deal with deadlines, since it’s something that no one is going to be able to escape from – hence me writing this blog post. However, I did not want it to be one of those “guides” that you find everywhere on the Internet, with tips like “make sure you sleep enough” or “too much caffeine won’t help you,” because I have never found them useful. Instead, I want to share with you the things that I personally do when deadlines are getting closer that take some of the stress away.

  • Just get started – It might sound very obvious, but getting started is usually the toughest step for me. Seeing all the work piling up, knowing that I am slowly running out of time gets me so scared that I end up putting it off even longer. It’s a vicious cycle, which only ends when I manage to get myself to sit down at my desk and start working.
  • Don’t abandon your work – Just because I get started does not always result in getting my work done. It still feels overwhelming at times, and that’s when I get the strong urge to take a break for a while (this “while” usually turns into a whole day). Which is why l have become a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique – I chose one of the many things I am have to work on, and set a timer for half an hour, in which I only focus on the task at hand. It usually manages to get me going and insures that I do not give up what I started (or, at least ,for half an hour).
  • Avoid distractions – Over the years, I have become a bit too in love with my social media accounts, which I check religiously. This is especially the case when I know I should be focusing on work. My almost impulsive need to check my phone, go on Facebook, or complete that very important Buzzfeed quiz that will tell me what kind of cheese I am according to my astrological sign, is always what turns a 5 minute break into a 15 minute one. I feel like the best way to solve this would be to use one of those boxes with a timed lock so that you can’t get your phone out until the time is up, but since I don’t have such a technological wonder, I have to resort to the old-fashioned technique of leaving my phone in another room, or putting it somewhere out of my reach (which usually means at the back of my closet, because that place is a mess).
  • Take naps – This is by far my favourite thing to do during deadlines. I work best late at night, after dinner. However, I am a huge worrier, and I always feel the need to wake up as early as I can in the morning, to get a head start on the day. This usually means that, by the afternoon, I am falling asleep standing up. Which is why I love naps so much – they allow me to take a break from my work, and get that much-needed rest. No amount of caffeine will ever help me as much as naps do.
  • Don’t forget to eat – I have been told there are two types of people when it comes to eating during stressful situations, those who don’t eat anything, and those who eat everything. I fall into the former category – I tend to forget to leave time for meals when deadlines are looming over my head, and I end up only snacking on sweets and chocolate throughout the day. No one has come out and said it to my face, but I am aware that it is a bad habit. Which is why now, whenever I have to get through stressful periods like deadlines, I begin my day by making time for my meals, and usually setting alarms so I don’t forget. It at least gives me the impression that I am taking care of myself, so I can feel like a proper adult amid all the chaos caused by stress.

While these things might not guarantee you smooth sailing through deadlines, I hope that they at least give you a reassuring feeling that you are not alone when you feel like you are being swallowed up by the amount of work you have to get through. I wish you the best of luck with it!

 

Personal Top 3 LGBT Movies

Personal Top 3 LGBT Movies

Today is the first day of spring, and while I am very relieved to see March is finally here, it does mean that LGBT History Month is officially over. However, the feeling of acceptance, love, community and pride doesn’t have to end just because there is no label to put on it. Therefore, I have decided to compile a list of my personal three favourite LGBT movies, to keep the spirit of LGBT History Month going even after it has finished. They are listed in no particular order, since I love them all equally.

1. Carol (2015)

If there’s one movie that I hope you go and watch after reading this post, it is this one. Carol has been the one LGBT movie that I haven’t been able to shut up about since watching it. The fact that it has an equally amazing book at the core of it, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (which I also recommend you go and read), makes it even better – it’s an amazing adaptation.

In a nutshell, Carol tells the story of the love and affair between a young photographer, Therese Belivet (played by Rooney Mara), and an older woman, Carol Aird (played by Cate Blanchett), who is going through a rocky divorce. The story is set in 1950s New York.

My favourite thing about this movie is the way it manages to capture that breathtaking yet mundane moment when one realises they have truly fallen in love. I have seen no other movie portray it as well as Carol does. It also presents the best LGBT friendship I have seen in a movie that is supposed to focus on same-sex love, that between Carol and Abby. They’re open to each other, their devotion and loyalty and understanding of each other is breathtaking, and the familiarity between the two really tugs at your heartstrings. If you don’t want to watch it for the glamour of 1950’s America, or the cinematography, or the amazing acting, watch it for the relationships it portrays.

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Picture curtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

2. Blue is the Warmest Colour/ La Vie d’Adèle (2013)

This movie holds a special place in my heart, since it was the movie that helped me deal with my own confused mind regarding my sexuality. It was a crucial for me, and has therefore had a big impact.

The movie focuses on a French teenager who deals with a newfound desire for a mysterious woman with blue hair that she encounters by chance on the street, and later at a gay bar. Adèle’s (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos) coming-of-age story about her passionate relationship with her first love, Emma (played by Léa Seydoux) is a very relatable one. Her experience of dealing with the uncertainty of her sexuality is sure to echo that of many people in the LGBT community. She is a character that, despite being irritating to some at varying points throughout the movie, is very easy to identify with.

The movie’s raw and uncensored depiction of sexuality has been heavily criticised, yet I believe it is one of the things that make Blue is the Warmest Colour so amazing (and so do people such as Steven Spielberg). The explicit sex scenes are not there just for the sake of it, they make the relationship three dimensional.*

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Image curtesy of IMDb

3. The Way He Looks/ Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho  (2014)

If I were to describe my love for this movie, I would say it was accidental and unexpected. And if I were to be clichéic, I would use the now-famous phrase: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep, slowly, and then all at once.” I might have raised a few eyebrows at first, but the movie soon took hold of my heart and it has been in my list of all time favourite movies ever since.

The Way He Looks is a captivating coming-of-age love story between Leonardo ( played by Ghilherme Lobo), a blind boy who is struggling to be independent, and Gabriel (played by Fabio Audi), Leo’s new classmate. Based off the short film I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone, The Way He Looks expands on the themes that the film touches upon, as well as explores the relationship between the boys in more depth.

The way the movie handles homosexuality and disability, two topics that can either make or break such a story, is exceptional. Moreover, Leo is a very lovable character. He feels overprotected by those around him, the best example being his friend Giovana, who walks home with him every day even though she lives in the opposite direction to his house. He has to deal with an overbearing mother and plenty of bullying at school, experiences with which anyone watching the movie can at least sympathise, if not identify, with, regardless of being disabled or not. Leo is a character that does not tick all the boxes that society exoects him to, which is what makes the movie so unique and lovable – its message of embracing who you are and realising that your differences are what make you great comes across loud and clear.

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Image courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

These movies mean a lot to me, but remember, they are only my personal preference. I would love to hear what your top LGBT movie recommendations are!

*Disclaimer: I am aware of the numerous statements made by the two actresses regaring the harrowing experienence of filming the movie, especially the sex scenes. My appreciation of those scenes does not mean I am dismissing their statements; my focus in this article is on the movie itself, not the process of filming and production.

Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and all around me people are getting more and more worked up regarding gifts and dinner plans. While I cannot help you get a dinner reservation at that amazing, romantic restaurant everyone is raving about, I have decided to lend a hand to all the confused magical souls out there who are in need of a bit of inspiration when it comes to giving their heart to their Valentine (without actually giving it away).

1) Let someone else express the love you feel – books, music, movies.

A classic when it comes to gift-giving, yet always efficient. You could opt to go for something you know they already like – a specific genre, author/artist/director/actor – or, based on the things you know they already like, get them something you know they will enjoy but haven’t taken into consideration so far.

Seeing as it is Valentine’s, you could try gifting a collection of poems instead of the typical Penguin Classics, or a CD that you could use as the backdrop to your romantic home-cooked dinner for that night, or (why not?) be more practical than usual and grab a movie that you will both enjoy at the end of the evening.

Some recommendations:

BooksPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Lullabies by Lang Leav – One Day by David Nichols – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowel

MusicThe BeatlesLP,  John Legend, Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack, concert tickets to Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The XX, U2.

MoviesMoulin Rouge, The Way He Looks, Dirty Dancing, Juno, Beauty and the Beast (or any Disney movie)

2) Let art express the love you feel

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for this Valentine’s, all you need it to express are three, so why not let a cute print do the talking? The options are endless – you could go for a sweet and loving pun, or chose a more cheeky approach. Or maybe try to be more personal about your artsy gift, and have it personalised – a photo of you and your Valentine, or one depicting a fond memory the two of you have. One of my favourite ideas when it comes to gifting art is a city map. Although it might sound boring, it is a sweet customisable idea – the map could be of the city where the two of you met, where you currently live or where you were born.

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Image courtesy of Anna Saccone

3) Let their interests help you express the love you feel

If you want to play it very safe and make sure you impress your Valentine, a good idea is to turn to their interests and surprise them with gifts that will take pride of place in their heart and home – merchandise from their favourite TV shows, video games or favourite bands. If they have a hobby that they are passionate about, besides trying to take part in it, you could help them expand and improve by buying supplies or “How To” books.

4) Let clothes express the love you feel

No, I do not mean the “I am with sexy” T-shirts, nor do I mean sexy lingerie – unless you are into that, in which case, by all means, do go ahead. What I do mean is, show them you pay attention to the little things in your conversations, like when they want an article of clothing but cannot find it in stores. Make the effort to find it for them, or why not go all the way and custom make it?

One of my favourite gifts that I received was a hand painted T-shirt with a pattern that I could not find in any store, no matter how much I looked for it. I appreciated the effort and the realisation that my useless whining was not being completely drowned out in conversation. And Valentine’s Day is all about little things like that, is it not?

5) Express your love through food

If you feel like straying away from the traditional presents, food related gifts are a good way to go, especially if you get creative with them. Why give your Valentine a bouquet of roses when you could give them a bouquet of treats? If you are a lover of puns like myself, you could incorporate them in your gift – one idea is to get some simple jars, write a food related pun on the label, such as “I am nuts for you”, and fill the jar with the corresponding food (in this case, nuts).

 

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Image courtesy of The Domestic Curator

I hope these ideas are useful, and that you all have a magical day.

Remember that Valentine’s Day is a day to show your love and compassion for those around you, regardless of your relationship status – an should be something that you try to do every day.