Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Postcrossing: Everywhere!

I've been a bit slack with blogging about my Postcrossing activity.  This is a really busy time of year at work so I come home and just zone out.  But I've received some really cute cards so I wanted to do a mega-Postcrossing post!

Top row, left-to-right: Finland, Poland, Finland
Middle row, left-to-right: Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia
Bottom row: Netherlands

The top-right card with the cats is so sweet, and she had the same birthday as me, which was really neat!  The Swiss card with the picture of Luxemburgerlis (the Swiss name for macarons) is also great.  The bottom card is a New Zealand postcard sent from the Netherlands!  The sender has friends and family in NZ and has visited several times.

I always get excited when I get a Postcrossing card, because I always learn something new.  It really makes me happy to come home to a new Postcrossing card!

Monday, December 3, 2012

OOTD: Bag Lady

When I was growing up, Mum's handbag was like a Magic Bag of Holding.  Mum always favoured fairly conservative, medium-sized black handbags that were small enough to tuck under her arm but large enough to hold everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  Mum's handbag needed to carry a vast array of items - purse, chequebook, glasses cases, hankies, tissues, painkillers, loose change, snacks, keys, pens...Whatever you wanted, Mum could produce it from her handbag.  She was also very particular about the style of the bag.  If she needed a new handbag, it wasn't something we could buy for her as a gift - she needed to choose her own.  Her criteria were a mystery, but when she found a bag she liked, she knew immediately that it was her new bag.  I always associated handbags with grown-ups, and thought I'd never get one of my own.

I resisted (and am still resisting, to a point) for a really long time.  Up until a couple of years ago, my bag of choice was a backpack or messenger-style bag that I could fit everything I needed for class or whatever I was studying at the time.  When I stopped studying, I kept using my messenger bag until it fell apart.  I bought a very basic cloth bag while we were in Malaysia in 2010 - not a handbag, per se, more a sack-style bag.  When that wore out (which happened fairly quickly - it *was* a very basic bag), I had to find a new bag, and the replacement was the most handbag like of bags I've had to date - a tan, embossed, fake leather zip-top bag with a long strap that I could wear across my body messenger-style.  It was a cross between a messenger bag and a handbag, I suppose - still casual enough that I could wear it with my every day jeans and t-shirt outfit, but nice enough that it wasn't *too* out of place if I dressed up a little.  Sadly, it was cheap (and fake) and also didn't last particularly long.  As it was on its last legs, I started hunting for a new bag.

I carry around a lot of stuff, just like Mum - toiletries, notebooks, a Kindle, a purse, a mobile phone, keys, glasses, pens, an umbrella, sometimes Dave's stuff too...A remarkably similar list to Mum's!  But a business-style handbag just isn't me.  It would be out of place with my every day outfits.  I prefer to wear my bag messenger-style so my hands are free but the bag is secure and can't be snatched.  I started looking at satchels as a possibility, and when I saw this post by one of my favourite Australian fashion bloggers I made my choice - a satchel from The Leather Satchel Co.

I ordered my bag on 13 November and it arrived on 30 November, less than 3 weeks later - pretty impressive for a bespoke order, I thought.  I chose their largest basic size, the 15 inch, in chocolate brown.  I also customised it by asking for a wider  and longer strap and removing the address window pocket.  The service was really fast and helpful and the shipping was with DHL so was easy to track.

When I opened the box, the bag was in it's dust cover:

It came with an envelope that contained important care information (and had a neat Lewis Carroll quote on it!):

The bag is deep, rich chocolate brown and smells fantastic.  There are no pockets or anything inside, just the plain leather, but it's tanned to a beautiful smooth finish.

The leather isn't too stiff but still feels sturdy.  The wide strap and strap-buckle, the rivets, and the stitching all feel very strong.  The buckles on the main flap do feel a little bit light to me, but I'm sure they'll still last for ages and can be easily replaced.  The pocket on the front is big enough for my Kindle and a journalist-style notebook.

All my stuff, including my umbrella which somehow escaped this photo, easily fits inside it with room to spare for extras if I need to fit in anything else.  It doesn't feel overly heavy and is really comfortable to carry.  All up, including the custom options I chose and the shipping, my bag was £112.  I ordered directly from the factory because it meant I could choose my own options, although ASOS also sell pre-made bags from the same company.

T-shirt: RedBubble
Jeans: ASOS
Thongs: Havaianas

I realised when I went to use my new bag for the first time today that I should have specified I was left-handed and wear my bags on my left side, because they way the shoulder strap is attached means the buckle is on the front.  I actually don't mind it, I think it looks neat, but I'm a little concerned it will wear out faster that way.  Still, I love the bag and know that I'm going to get many, many years wear out of it.  In fact, I'd like a mini one, in red or another bright colour, for special occasions!