Month: January 2016

The 10 year old taxidermy lover

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My family have been holidaying in Cornwall every year since I was around 6 months old. We’d stay in Port Mellon and then when me and my sister got older, as a family we would walk into Mevagissey (Meva) for a look round the shops, for some chips on the harbour or a carvery at The Ship Inn on a Sunday.

As a young girl, I was obsessed with the idea of having a Victorian dolls house and there was a shop in Meva called Curio Corner that had a whole back room dedicated to dolls houses. It had miniature everything and several pre-built houses all decorated in the Victorian style. The hobby of creating a doll’s house was and still is, an expensive one, and we weren’t very well off at all back then, so owning a doll’s house just wasn’t an option, sadly.

As I got older, I grew out of the Doll’s House ‘phase’ and I took a fancy to staring at the animals on the wall. There was a tiger head (or it may have been a leopard), a crocodile (which is still there today), several types of deer and in a little case was a tiny little pet dog. I think there were others too, but it’s been years so I can’t remember exactly what was hanging up there.

At the time, I had no idea what taxidermy was, but I was fascinated with it. Every year I’d go in there just to visit the big wall of taxidermy at the back of the shop and stare in awe at these dusty old creatures that looked like they needed a loving home. It was incredible to a young girl of 9 or 10 – if a little macabre! But clearly I’ve always been into strangely macabre things, even as a young girl.

Thankfully, as an adult, it doesn’t seem quite so strange to enjoy collecting taxidermy. In fact, it’s having something of a resurgence in popularity, which means fewer people seem quite so surprised when I tell them I collect it. I can’t quite put my finger on why I like taxidermy, though I do think that the Victorian’s obsession with death is part of it. I too think these animals look beautiful, even in death – somehow suspended in life and death at the same time.

I still get the ‘marmite’ reaction when I talk to people about my growing collection of taxidermy; they either love it or hate it.  I rarely come across anyone who doesn’t have an opinion about taxidermy either way!

I’ll be writing another blog post about my growing taxidermy collection and I’ll be talking about Crystal Curios – My favourite shop in Milton Keynes.

If anyone is still interested, Curio Corner in Mevagissey is still there 20 something years later, but sadly there isn’t quite the same display of taxidermy and they no longer sell dolls houses, but I still have to walk round it when I go back, just for nostalgia’s sake.

A Shloermergency! Sponsored Blog Post

So, it’s nearing the end of January at lightening speed and whilst I’ve not personally attempted a Dry January, I do know people who have – How have you done?

If you have been living under a rock, you may not have heard about Dry January, so what’s it all about? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds – you take one month off from drinking any alcohol whatsoever – this can be to improve your health, to save a few pennies or just to see if you can do it. Loads of celebrities have got involved and it’s also a great way to have a healthy start to the year.

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Historical Adventures in England

I am a huge lover of English history. I love English architecture, I love castles, I love manor houses, I love churches and cathedrals. So when I was taken to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire for my birthday last year I decided to become a member of the National Trust for a year.

My partner and I love nothing more than getting a picnic together and getting in the car and driving to as many of the National Trust (NT) properties as we can. Last year we visited so many places! We visited:

  • Waddesdon Manor (my favourite in terms of opulence and grandeur)
  • Scotney Castle in Tunbridge Wells (NT)
  • Claydon in Buckingham (NT)
  • Canons Ashby in Daventry (NT)
  • Stowe in Buckingham (NT)
  • Avebury in Wiltshire (NT)
  • and we also visited the privately owned Hatfield House in Hertfordshire
  • Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire (English Heritage)
  • Stonehenge in Wiltshire (English Heritage)
  • and finally we visited Beaulieu house and Hurst Castle in the New Forest.

It’s not widely advertised, but there is a concession for disabled visitors to all National Trust and English Heritage sites (lots of privately owned historical sites also have concessions, just ask) – where your carer or accompanying person enters for free, ultimately making it half price for you both. This is what makes it so great for me and my partner because we wouldn’t be able to afford to visit so many places without that concessionary rate. It really has been a game changer for us as a couple.

Anyway, enough rambling, I’m going to post some pictures I’ve taken (all on an iphone, so not the best quality!) from our English adventures… this country is absolutely beautiful and I simply adore it.

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Scotney Castle in Tunbridge Wells – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Scotney Castle – Image Copyright Beth Von SBlack

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Scotney Castle – Image Copyright Beth Von Black

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The Ruin at Scotney Castle – Copyright Beth Von Black

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The Ceiling at Claydon in Buckingham – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Canons Ashby in Daventry – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Canons Ashby in Daventry – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Canons Ashby in Daventry – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Selfie time at Hatfield House

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The Gothic Temple at Stowe in Buckingham – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Picnic at Hatfield House 

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The Lawn at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Elizabeth I – Hatfield House – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Sculpture Garden at Hatfield House – Copyright Beth Von Black

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My partner wondering if this would fit in our car… at Hatfield House

During the past 18 months we’ve also visited Salisbury Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, Bath Abbey, St Albans Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral.

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Gloucester Cathedral

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St Bartholomew the Lesser Church and St Barts Pathology Museum (Macabre Market)

More adventures to come this year……

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#loveyourimperfections

Do you know what really gets my goat? It’s the latest offering from Match.com and their wonderful marketing of self-esteem with the cringe inducing hashtag ‘love your imperfections’. 

You may wonder why I have beef with a seemingly innocuous statement but let’s look closer…

The term ‘imperfections’ can be literally translated to not being perfect, not whole, with blemishes etc etc. 

But what really irritates me is when it is used to describe HUMANS as if any one of us is capable of achieving this ‘so called’ perfection. Show me ONE perfect person and I’ll eat my hat…

  • Freckles are not imperfections. They are normal and natural because the skin is not a piece of perfectly bleached piece of paper. 
  • Having a loud or unusual laugh doesn’t make you imperfect; it makes you different and interesting
  • Not being able to dance to a beat is not an imperfection. There isn’t a single person in this world who is a ‘perfect dancer’ (sorry Darcey Bussel but you are not perfect!)

So, sorry match.com you have just got right up my craw with that advert of yours. Humans aren’t perfect and they therefore can’t have imperfections; they have things that make them human. 

I really really wish this world would stop using the words ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ to describe people. 

We are anything other than those two words. 

    Rock and Roll Jewellery

    When I was in my early twenties I briefly dated a blues musician and one of his good musician friends – Joanne Shaw Taylor – a no holds barred guitar goddess; go look her up – showed me a gorgeous piece of jewellery she had recently acquired. She told me it was from a shop in Covent Garden called Crazy Pig Designs.

    My boyfriend at the time was also interested in this so called “Rock Star jewellery” so we both went down there for some window shopping. I wasn’t particularly on the market for a piece of jewellery but it’s one of those things when you know, you know; the one… it just talks to you.

    So, in about 10 minutes flat I’d treated myself to a rather sensational looking sterling silver ring for my middle finger. Now, I’m not talking about just a sensible sized ring for a lady, this is a motherfucker of a statement in the shape of an anatomical skull hand crafted for a proper woman (or man, as it’s unisex). It’s not for the faint hearted!

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    Image copyright Crazy Pig Designs

     

    Crazy Pig designs is the brainchild of the crazily talented silversmith (and guitarist) Armand Serra. His edgy, macabre and purely rock and roll silversmithing skills have continued to be commissioned by a long list of musicians, celebrities, actors galore since the 1980s. I do believe he started his silversmithing career at The Great Frog in London before he started his own Crazy Pig Designs (named after a band name he wanted but his band mates vetoed) and I am so glad he did. Armand’s designs are incomparable in quality and life-likeness. The image below shows my Crazy Pig ring called the Live Skull ring which is the best anatomical skull ring I have seen; believe me, I’ve looked at so many skull rings and none of them are quite as good as this one.

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    My love for this ring has not diminished, if anything, I love it more than ever. As you can see, it rarely leaves my finger. The quality of the silver is outstanding, it is so heavy -it’s solid silver not hollow and looks as amazing now as it did the day I bought it over 5 years ago. It’s my pride and joy, my baby. I wouldn’t be me without my Crazy Pig Live Skull ring and I simply cannot wait to add more to my collection.

    Here are a few of their pieces that I am hoping to add to my collection over the next few years (when I’m not saving for a house deposit!)

    The Tudor Wing Pendant

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    Image copyright Crazy Pig Designs

    The Devil Made Me Do It ring

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    and the XL Skull Bracelet (a very large statement indeed!)

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    Image Copyright Crazy Pig Designs

     

    The loves of my life; The Mediaeval Baebes

    As I’ve said many times before, I was a strange child. I was strange in that I absolutely adored listening to folk music (thank you, again, Mum!) and remember seeing the original Steeleye Span at The Stables in Wavendon back when it was just a shed – I must’ve been around 12 years old.

    I first heard the Mediaeval Baebes on VH1 singing Gaudete, a song I already knew because Steeleye Span did a version at The Stables. As soon as I heard the Baebes’ arrangement, I knew I’d found something rather special.

    The Mediaeval Baebes are an all female choral group who write their own arrangements to traditional medieval songs and poetry. They have a backing group of very talented musicians playing traditional medieval instruments.

    As soon as I saw that their 2nd album Worldes Blysse had been released, I knew I had to have it. I can remember opening it at Christmas as playing the album on repeat, with the lyrics in the album cover. I just had to know all the lyrics and I can now recite Mediaeval Baebes songs in Italian, Medieval English, French and Latin (I’m sure I’ve missed some!) and I can’t be prouder of that fact. There is something about the Baebes music that appeals to the deeper parts of my soul. It’s like I was born to hear this music.

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    I first saw the Baebes perform live at The Stables when I was around 15 and a few times at Berkeley Castle Joust where I managed to get the courage to have a poster signed by them, which of course, I still have (and will be proudly displayed when I have my own place!) and I’ve also seen them at Birmingham Cathedral for a wonderfully festive Christmas concert and last year at Loxwood Joust .

    I’m also happy to report that the (other!) love of my life, my partner loves the Baebes too, so now instead of dragging my Mum along, I get to take my man instead!
    (Cue me wanting the Baebes to perform at our forest wedding one day!)

    In 2010 the Mediaeval Baebes put together an opportunity for us ‘normal’ folk to learn a couple of their songs and sing alongside them in a mini concert in front of our friends and family. Of course, I had to do it! It was a fantastic (if, very nerve wracking!) day and I got to sing with two of my favourite Baebes – Katharine Blake and Bev Lee Harling. Sadly Bev is no longer singing with the current Baebes lineup.

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    My love for the Baebes has never waned, although they did lose me a bit when they released Undrentide, which was a bit too new-age and modern for my tastes and I’m pleased to report that the Baebes are sounding more like their original selves than ever before!

    One of the many things I love about the Baebes is their professionality when they perform. They are always so tight, their timings are beautiful and you can see how much work Katharine puts into writing and arranging the songs. I am a huge admirer of Katharine Blake as a musician, a true artist. Anyway, enough blowing smoke up their ass!

    Here are a few pictures I took at the 2015 Loxwood Joust…

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    So, if you’re into medieval music, folk music, acapella or classical music, I cannot recommend the Mediaeval Baebes enough. The Mediaeval Baebes have played such a huge part in my life and I can say I am a forever fan.

    From the young geeky bespectacled girl singing along at the top of her voice at Berkeley to the twenty something woman at the front singing along at the top of her voice, a fan for life x

    Fashion – friend or foe?

    When I decided to start blogging I thought it would be easy because I was an individual. I was often admired by my peers for being different to the masses and standing out in the crowd, so I thought ‘okay, I should use this’…

    It wasn’t until I joined twitter did I realise just how big the blogging pond is. Like anything in life, you have to compete with others if you want to get noticed or get ahead. But, just how different am I really?

    During my formative years I was picked on for my eccentric fashion choices. At the age of 14 I was shopping in Camden, wearing platform shoes and purple lipstick. It may not sound so strange now – thanks to the wonderful fashion world bringing 90s nostalgia to the fore – but back then, I was odd, different and strange. Uncool even. Desperately uncool.

    But it seems that the fashion choices I made as a teenager are what the cool kids are wearing now (boy do I feel smug that I got to wear it when it was uncool, the very definition of cool!) so I am a little upset and confused as to why I cannot find anything to wear as a twenty something goth who doesn’t want to be cool?

    What I’m trying to say is that while I absolutely, 100 percent applaud companies like Killstar, Dolls Kill, Ironfist and Disturbia (to name a few) who have in essence reignited the alternative fashion culture, I have to say that I just don’t like much of it at all. (Please don’t hate me, I’m just being honest!)

     

     

    I was definitely interested in the occult when I was younger and pentagrams were my favourite shock tactic. But as I’ve matured, I’ve realised that I’m about as Wiccan as I am Catholic. I’m not a witch, I’m a goth who loves black, so do I really want to wear something with a pentagram on? (Hence why I haven’t bought the Disturbia swimming costume I blogged about the other day!)

    So, where do I go from here? Well, I’m redefining goth to suit me – I’m a minimalist goth. I shop in any shop that sells anything black and see what I can find to suit me.

    As of this moment, there are no high street shops that cater for the look I create for myself…

    • I love ‘off the shoulder’ because my collarbones are sexy.
    • I wear long sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves because my arms aren’t the best part of me.
    • I never wear skirts or dresses above the knee because I’m pear shaped and wasn’t blessed with good legs (I dress for the size I am, not the size I wish I was!) so this leaves me out of a good 90% of modern alternative brands like the ones I’ve mentioned above.
    • The majority of the dresses are either really really short or really really long with a thigh high split.
    • The tops are usually cropped which for a country where size 16 is the average size, doesn’t bode well at all.

    I’m all for other people dressing in whatever the hell they like. I’m not here to tell people to cover it up, I’m simply saying that I like to cover mine up. Elegance is something I have admired since I can remember. Sadly, elegance isn’t trendy right now, so I’m very limited in what choices are out there for someone who wants to be gothy and elegant.

    When I say I’m a minimalist goth, I’m saying I like simplicity. I wear plain black tops with very little details on. I like asymmetrical cuts reminiscent of Vivienne Westwood. I like form fitted dresses like the Monica dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. I like black cowboy boots. I like leather jackets. I like plain skinny jeans (without tears in, dear Lord how scruffy) and I like opaque tights. I like to wear one ring on the middle finger of each hand because more than that looks cluttered. If I’m wearing a necklace I won’t wear earrings and visa versa. I like flared trousers whether they’re in fashion or not – they suit my curves. I like the dystopian look if done simply.

    It’s all about creating a look that enhances not detracts. That to me, is what being a minimalist goth is about.

    In the next few blogs I am going to be writing about a few fashion designers/brands that I do like. Unfortunately, I have champagne tastes and a beer budget so images of me wearing these brands will be few and far between. However, I will always strive to save up and buy a couple of capsule items from these designers so I can show you first hand just how amazing they are. Stay tuned.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A permanent decision…

    Love them or loathe them, they are now more popular than ever; I’m talking about tattoos.

    Tattoos are an emotive subject and everyone seems to have an opinion about them so I thought I’d share my somewhat surprising views (or so I’ve been told!)

    Now, on the surface, I look like an ‘alternative’ lady. I have dyed black hair, wear a lot of black clothing, skulls being a particular theme I go for so people naturally assume I am tattooed. The surprising thing is, I’m not – well, I was but I’m not any more.

    As I’ve written previously, I began an apprenticeship in body piercing when I was 24 and absolutely loved it; I had lots of unusual piercings in my ears, had skin divers along my arm, a nipple piercing, tongue piercing, navel piercing to name a few. But, I had one lowly tattoo on the inside of my right wrist and that was it.

    Customers were surprised that unlike my fellow body piercers and tattooists, I wasn’t covered in inkings and my piercings weren’t all on my face. I liked being the odd one out (shocker, I know!) and eventually, got sick of seeing people covered in tattoos; it wasn’t shocking or interesting any more – particularly as the tattooist at the place I was piercing at wasn’t actually very good at all. But that’s another story for another day!

    When I left the piercing place, I ended up being a full time vintage and pinup model and spent a lot of time with other models. It didn’t take long to notice a fascinating overlap when it comes to pinup and tattoo modelling; I was surrounded by “alternative” models who did both alternative and pinup modelling.

    During the two years I spent with one group of models, it seemed to me as though they were getting tattoos simply to get photographed for front covers of magazines. Whilst, I applaud their dedication, it really did put me off being tattooed because to me, they all started to look the same.

    A part of who I am is my need to be different. In a world where everyone seems to be tattooed, I decided I wanted to undo my foray into being tattooed myself. So I went about having laser tattoo removal.

    Before I show you what my non-tattoo-tattoo looks like, I’ll show you what it looked like when I had first had it done.

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    I chose to have my favourite name tattooed on my wrist – my late Grandma’s name and the name of my favourite Monarch, Elizabeth I. Yes, my name is also Elizabeth – cue the jokes about forgetting your own name so having this to remind me… blah blah blah!

    My vintage modelling was going really well so I decided I wanted to remove my black tattoo and have my ‘blank canvas’ back. Vintage modelling is as it sounds – I wore all original vintage clothing from the 1940s and 1950s, set my hair in rollers and wore a lot of red lipstick. As you can guess, tattoos weren’t a hugely popular look back in the 40s and 50s so I wanted to look as authentic as possible; this meant removing my tattoo.

    When people talk about tattoo removal, the first thing people say is how painful it is. Let me say right now, they are absolutely right – laser tattoo removal hurts. It hurts a lot. Even more than having the tattoo in the first place, so to anyone wanting a tattoo who isn’t quite sure… think hard before you are tattooed because it is absolutely no fun at all, having it lasered.

    Luckily my tattoo is black; a colour that is more easily removed than others (red, being one of the hardest colours to remove) and it is quite small. Unfortunately I did have my tattoo on the inside of my wrist which is I’m told, quite a tender place for a tattoo.

    I’ve now had around 5 sessions of laser removal leaving a minimum of 6 weeks between each laser session. The longer you leave it, the better, as the tattoo will continue to fade after each session and for weeks after.

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    This was after the 4th session so it had already faded quite a lot by then. This was taken around 20 minutes after having laser on it. It was extremely swollen and tender – feeling much like severe sunburn… Immediately after having it lasered, it looks a lot more faded than it will the next day. This is normal, but won’t last.

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    This was taken around 6 hours after the session, as you can see it has all blood blistered.

    And this…. is how it looks now, after 5 sessions – the last one was  a year ago.

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    As you can see, it hasn’t entirely gone. It has scarred. Apparently this is a common issue with laser removal, as the skin doesn’t always react the way we want it to. I may have one more session to see if it does any more lifting. I’m quite happy with it now, as no one seems to notice it any more.

    For anyone considering having a tattoo, I cannot stress it enough how important it is to be sure of who you are before you do it – or, be absolutely okay with having a painful removal procedure that isn’t 100% effective. It is extremely unlikely to disappear entirely and sometimes the only way to get rid of a tattoo is to have an expensive, dark, obtrusive cover up tattoo over the top.

    So that’s my experience with tattooing and why I’m strictly on the nay camp when it comes to being tattooed. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts!

    Black Lipstick

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    Ever since I was a teenager I’ve loved the look of black lipstick. I was your average teenage goth back then; though favouring purple lipstick over black because my Mum had some big opinions about black lipstick (to this day, she still screws up her nose when I walk around the house in it and I’m 29!)

    I think I’ve been tainted for life because even now, I can’t bring myself to wear black lipstick seriously. I’ve never been a cyber Goth who shaves their brows and paints them in, or wears dread falls or tutu mini-skirts; not because I don’t like the look (I love it on other women) but I just don’t think it suits me. I would consider myself a minimalist Goth in that I like wearing plain black clothing and then accessorising with vintage or antique jewellery and a skull or two. I also loved dark red lipstick as it’s very glamorous. I’ve always been into hollywood glamour of the 40s and 50s so red lips come naturally to me….

    But, I keep coming back to the black lipstick. I’m not sure if it’s a nostalgia thing (which seems to be a big thing right now) but I keep playing around with the look. I love it. I love how as soon as you put black lipstick on, you feel like you. All the deepest darkest parts of your soul are suddenly out there, on show, for the whole world to see. You finally feel you are part of a specific subculture that has been around for decades; the Goth subculture.

    There’s been a running topic among the Goth subculture which is

    Am I Goth enough?

    and I think I’m guilty of having these worries myself, particularly when I go to an event that is specifically aimed at the ‘darker’ parts of life like the Satanic Market I went to recently, I found myself comparing myself with other ladies who attended the event, worrying that I don’t fit in because I’m not goth enough.

    Isn’t it funny that you can get to your late twenties and STILL be comparing yourself to others? It’s sad, isn’t it? The thing to remember is that we all have insecurities. The woman I’m admiring is probably feeling a similar feeling to me.

    So what have I learned – I’ve learned to acknowledge when I’m feeling insecure in myself and remember that it’s normal to have a wobbble. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you just have to go for it. Out of curiousity I posted a picture of myself wearing black lipstick on my instagram page and it has had some really positive comments. Now, I know that seeking validation from people online (or anyone for that matter) isn’t  a legitimate way to feel good about oneself, but if you can see it from a more objective perspective, it can be helpful.

    To conclude; fuck it. I’m going to ROCK that black lipstick and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. It’s something I’ve always admired on other people, so why don’t I just bite the bullet!

    Pentagram Swimsuit – Disturbia Clothing

    It’s 2016, the year that I turn 30.

    I’m not a huge fan of birthday parties, but I am a massive fan of pampering and massages, so I’m gathering my girl friends for a bit of a session at a local spa for the day.

    I am SO tempted to buy this swimsuit for my spa day!

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    82% Nylon 18% Spandex swim top with Pentagram shaped straps. Adjustable back straps. TAG YOUR PURCHASE: #disturbiaclothing IN STOCK & SHIPS WITHIN 24 HOURS

    Source: Pentagram Swimsuit – Disturbia Clothing