Things I love Thursday 25/5/2017

It’s been an awfully long time since I did a Things I Love Thursday post, and there are just so many things that are making me smile this week.  I’m ready to jump on in and share the happy!

I love:

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I just finished reading this book and it was excellent.  Sure, it’s in the young adult category, but that doesn’t lessen the awesomeness of this book.  In addition to being deliciously geeky, it deals with some really heavy issues like anxiety, bipolar disorder, dysfunctional families and navigating first relationships.  I truly enjoyed it.

Homemade sweet potato gnocchi with creamy mushroom sauce. #dinner #vegan #Italian #foodstagram #pastafrenzy

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  • This sweet potato gnocchi I made for dinner on Sunday night.  I have made ricotta gnocchi before, but potato gnocchi just seemed too fiddly and difficult. I was so wrong.  It was much simpler than I expected and the sweet potato was a fun twist.  The sauce was also out of this world. It was the yummiest, creamiest pasta sauce I’ve made since I went vegan.  If you want to give it a try, this is the recipe I used.
  • Sharing my yoga mat with Mr Ringo, who thinks that yoga time is the perfect opportunity to steal kisses and smoosh his whiskers against my toes.
  • Celebrating my Dad’s 60th birthday with a low-key family dinner.
  • Warm socks and nightshirts.
  • Wes Anderson movie marathons
  • Watching American Pie with my long-distance love over Netflix and chatting on Skype about the horrendous plot holes and questionable fashion choices.
  • Good Mythical Morning.  This show has been one of my favourites for about a year now.  This week I watched this episode, featuring Mayim Bialik and nearly peed myself with laughter.

  • Nude lipstick.  I was always heartily bored by nude shades, but lately I’ve been drawn to them.  I found a gorgeous matte pinky nude by Lipstick Queen that I’m smitten with and I’ve been wearing it non-stop.
  • Rearranging my kitchen. I’ve switched around all my cupboards, moving the stuff I use most often into the spaces closest to the sink and countertop and lesser-used items into the far side of the room. It is so much more convenient and putting the dishes away takes a lot less time now.
  • Master of None.  This show is massively underrated.  It is funny, thought-provoking and full of heart.

  • This rad enamel pin.  I bought one for myself a few weeks ago and it finally arrived!  It has all the elements I love: it’s pink, it’s adorable, it’s sassy and it references Grease!
  • Chimichangas.  I had my first one last week and it was a revelation.  I can understand what Deadpool is so worked up about.

Took myself to the salon for a big chop. I feel like the sleekest fox in town. #hair #bob #sideshave #selfcare

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  • Getting my hair cut.  I had about eight inches cut off my hair last week and it feels so much better now. I hadn’t really noticed how long my hair was getting, but I did see that it was due for a trim.  Once I was in the salon chair, I just wanted the hairdresser to keep cutting and cutting.  I love my swingy new ‘do.
  • Finally, this magnificent post called You Should Have Asked by Emma.  It so perfectly describes a phenomenon that I’ve been trying to put into words for years. It’s about the idea that in so many heterosexual households, the woman is the person who manages the house. Like, not just doing the housework, but undertaking the role of Project Manager for the entire home. And that this has a detrimental impact on mental health, self worth, relationships and family structure.  I’ve been in this situation, and it was this mental load and my partner’s refusal to take some of it off my shoulders that began to erode my longest relationship.  It’s hugely damaging and difficult to talk about, so I was exceptionally excited to find this cartoon that so wonderfully expresses these ideas.

What do you love this week?

D is for Discipline

This is part 2. of my ABC’s of BDsM series.  In each post, I will break down one letter of the BDsM acronym to delve deeper into what practices and preferences make up the world of BDsM.  This is by no means a definitive discussion of BDsM, but is rather intended to be a primer for interested beginners.

DSCF8568D is for Discipline

Discipline refers to the use of rules to control behaviour and the consequences that may arise as a result of breaking these rules.  In a BDsM context, discipline usually involves some form of power exchange between a dominant party (the person imposing the rules and doling out punishment) and a submissive party (the person adhering to the restrictions).

 

Discipline appears in the BDsM world in countless ways.  It may be applied to a short-lived scene, or employed over a long period of time by people participating in Dominant/submissive relationships.  The ways in which discipline is carried out varies widely across situations, but some of the more common uses of discipline include:

  • “Punishment” role play scenes between an authority figure and a submissive party such as a teacher and a student.
  • Rules or contracts between partners in long-term relationships to prune bad habits and foster beneficial behaviour.
  • Protocol.  Protocol is a huge topic all of it’s own, but it essentially boils down to codes of conduct for submissives, such as the correct way to sit, stand, kneel, serve drinks and perform other tasks.  It is similar to etiquette and is usually employed either at home or at specific BDsM events.
  • Orgasm control, where a submissive party is only permitted to orgasm with the permission of their dominant.
  • Chastity play, where the submissive party is forbidden to engage in sexual contact with another person or to touch themselves sexually.  This may involve the use of chastity devices.
  • Training as part of pet play, slave training or service submission training.

Discipline overlaps heavily with the other aspects of BDsM, particularly sadism and masochism.  I will talk more about these aspects in future posts.  It is often the case that a sadistic dominant will impose difficult or impossible rules as an excuse to inflict pain or punishment upon their submissive.  Discipline also plays a role in many common bondage scenes, and bondage may be used as a punishment when rules are broken.

Discipline commonly comes into play with couples who have a long term Dominant/submissive relationship or power exchange.  In these types of relationship, the dominant party will set rules and standards of expected behaviour for the submissive.  These rules will sometimes be put in place purely for the pleasure of the dominant, and may include restrictions on how the submissive may dress, how they will address the dominant, where they will sleep and tasks they must perform for the dominant.  Other rules may be set in place to assist the submissive to learn a new skill or break a habit.

Consequences for breaking rules vary from mild to extreme depending on the type of relationship and the desires of the parties involved.  Some common punishments include:

  • Spanking, whipping or flogging
  • bondage or restrictions of movement
  • humiliation
  • being made to sit in a corner
  • writing lines
  • forced orgasm
  • Performing unpleasant chores such as washing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush
  • An apology.

There is a difference between punishments for play and punishments for behavioural training.  In a play scene, punishments like spankings or bondage are more likely to be used, because these are things that the submissive party will find enjoyable.  In the case where a dominant is training a submissive, punishments are more likely to be unpleasant, because they are intended to be something that the submissive will wish to avoid.

Why do people enjoy discipline?  Well, as I mentioned earlier, discipline fits very neatly with sadism and masochism, two of the other branches of BDsM.  Discipline is a perfect pretext for punishments such as canings and spankings, as well as humiliation play.  Discipline is a wonderful tool for learning and improving the self.  Many people enjoy controlling the behaviour of others or being controlled and following orders.  Some find it freeing to have a set of rules in place, so have someone else make those choices for them and to know that all they have to do it follow the rules.  The desire to please is a strong part of the pull towards discipline, whether that means being proud of your own achievements or earning praise from your master or dominant.

As with any BDsM play or practice, discipline should be carried out in a safe, sane and consensual way.  Some specific considerations include the following:

  • Rules and punishments should always be carefully negotiated. Both parties should discuss the reasons for a rule and any objections should be talked through.
  • Rule sheets and contracts should be reviewed from time to time. I know many people in D/s relationships who have a set date every month to review their rules and discuss what is working, what is not, remove rules that have become obsolete and add new rules.
  • It may be worthwhile giving each new rule a trial period before it becomes a part of your formal rule agreement (if you have one).  This helps to identify any practical issues that may not become immediately obvious.
  • Don’t try to add too many rules at once.  This can become overwhelming and untenable.
  • Punishments should be unpleasant, but they should never injure or traumatize a submissive.
  • Don’t make rules that will negatively impinge upon employment, family commitments or personal health.
  • Communicate.  Often, openly and honestly.

Discipline is a huge topic, and not one that I can cover in a single blog post.  If there are any specific questions you have, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will attempt to answer them in future posts.

 

Next time, I’ll be delving into the practice of Sadism.

What I wore 26/4/2017

 

I’ve been kind of obsessed with printed scarves lately.  I’ve been wearing them looped around my neck, tied onto my handbag and wrapped around my hair.  It’s amazing how a simple square of coloured silk can turn a regular outfit into something that feels a tad more special.

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My outfits this week have had a distinct 70’s vibe to them as well. I’ve been dabbling with jeans, earthy tones and hoop earrings.

 

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I am wearing:

  • Red nautical print scarf (thrifted)
  • Collared blouse from Temt
  • Bootleg jeans from K-Mart
  • Red slingback heels from I love Billy
  • Gold hoop earrings
  • Penny Farthing brooch (gift from my friend Tom, all the way from Berlin)
  • Turquoise ring

 

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I wore this outfit to go grocery shopping, and then drink coffee and read for several hours.

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These shoes were purchased last year on sale.  I’d been on the lookout for a pair of red wedges after my old faithful polka-dot pair died.  I was instantly drawn to the rainbow detailing on the wedge.  These are great because they’re nice and low, so they are fairly comfortable.

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I kept my makeup fairly natural with a touch of gloss and some groomed brows.  I wanted to keep the look fairly down-to-earth and simple.

 

What have you been wearing lately? Is there a particular item that has been popping up in your outfits over and over again?

What I wore: 18/4/2017

Once upon a time I owned a gorgeous pair of black boots.  They were leather with silver hardware and a stack heel. They found their way into my life after a chance encounter at at second hand store.  After countless adventures together, they tragically parted ways with their soles last winter.

 

Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of boots to replace them.  I had a clear picture in my mind of what I was after, and yet the perfect boots were somewhat elusive.  But recently I snapped up this pair of vegan leather boots on ebay and they are just ideal.  Supple, soft and comfortable, I believe they are set to become a wardrobe staple.

 

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I paired the boots with one of my favourite vintage dresses for a drive to take some photos of street art and lunch with my parents.

 

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I am wearing:

  • Black and red floral dress (vintage)
  • Black leopard fishnet tights (K Mart)
  • Black vegan leather boots (ebay)
  • Silver swallow chain link belt (vintage)
  • Turquoise earrings (handmade by my aunt)
  • Silver ring

 

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This belt belonged to my best friend’s grandmother. It is such a gorgeous and unusual piece.  It always adds a bit of interest to simple dresses, and I love the way it looks when paired with something heavily printed.

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My headscarf is actually the sash off my dress.  As I was wearing the silver belt, I thought it would be fun to pull my hair back with the sash and go all matchy-matchy.

 

 photo DSCF1117_zpsbyjewm7g.jpgThese boots are just what the doctor ordered.  They are beautiful for wearing with my hippie getups, but they will also look great with some of my grittier punk-rock looks.  I have even worn them to work a couple of times over cigarette pants and under prim dresses.  They were a brilliant find and I’m so chuffed with them.

B is for Bondage

This is part 1. of a series of posts I will be writing called The ABC’s of BDsM.  In each post, I will break down one letter of the BDsM acronym to delve deeper into what practices and preferences make up the world of BDsM.  This is by no means a definitive discussion of BDsM, but is rather intended to be a primer for interested beginners.

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B is for Bondage

Bondage refers to the act of  restraining another person.  Bondage may involve restricting a person’s bodily movement, or it can extend to restricting speech and ability to see, through gagging and blindfolding.  Physical bondage is most common, however, bondage may also be psychological, when the dominant partner forbids the submissive partner to move or speak.

There are countless different types of bondage, and the tools of the trade range from the simple to the extreme.  Some common tools for bondage include the following:

  • Rope (which may be used for the Japanese art of shibari)
  • Bondage tape
  • cling film
  • Hand and ankle cuffs
  • Hogties, which force the ankles and wrists to be bound together, either in front of or behind the body.
  • Silk scarves or ties
  • Bondage furniture, such as the St Andrews Cross.
  • Bondage clothing, such as mitts that restrict the use of hands, hobble trousers or corsetry, masks, hoods, binders and straitjackets.
  • Gags, such as ball gags, bit gags, cloth gags, rope gags, o-ring gags and spider gags.
  • Blindfolds
  • Portable points of attachment, such as over-the-door restraints and under-the-bed restraints.
  • Collars
  • Spreader bars

 

There are countless ways to employ bondage techniques.  It could be as simple as the dominant partner blindfolding the submissive so that they can’t see what is going on, or as complex as tying their limbs into a fixed position and suspending them in the air.  Bondage play may employ just one technique, or a multitude of tools and restraints.  As with all types of BDsM, bondage may or may not include a sexual element.  Many bondage enthusiasts enjoy it for it’s own reasons, and do not mix sex with play.  Others use bondage to enhance sexual encounters.  Bondage is often an element in role playing scenes, such as a kidnapping scenario or sexual torture fantasies.

 

So, why are people into bondage?  The reasons why people explore bondage play are as diverse and numbered as the players themselves.  It would be impossible for me to list every reason here.  But there are some reasons that are most common.  For example, a lot of players enjoy the feeling of vulnerability, the idea that they are helpless at at the mercy of their dominant partner.  For some, bondage gives them a sense of safety and security, a feeling of being held tightly.  Others enjoy the beauty of bondage, and see bondage as a way to create a living sculpture or work of art using rope, chains and clothing.  Every person’s reasons for enjoying this practice are complex and varied, as with any type of BDsM play.

As I mentioned earlier, bondage may be extremely simple or devilishly complicated.  But any bondage scene must be carefully planned and discussed between the people who will be playing.  All BDsM play should be safe, sane and consensual.  Here are some important bondage-specific safety concerns to keep in mind:

  • You should choose your equipment with care, making sure that any locks and fasteners are in good working order and that there are no sharp edges that might hurt your submissive.
  • Safety shears should always be kept on hand to release the submissive quickly if the need arises.  It’s always better to ruin your equipment than cause injury to your play partner.
  • Any scene should be preceded with a frank and honest discussion of your wants, needs and limitations.  This includes disclosure of any medical ailments or prior injuries that need to be taken into account when constructing the scene.
  • Both parties should make themselves aware of the signs of distress to look for, and keep bondage sessions short to begin with.
  • The submissive should be released immediately if they experience numbness or tingling in their limbs, or if the restrained limb becomes pale or cold to the touch.
  • Safe words or signals should always be discussed and respected.  If the submissive is gagged, a signal such as holding up three fingers, ringing a bell or dropping an object placed in their hand before play can be used.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of education and practice in bondage.  Bondage can be very dangerous and as such you shouldn’t rush into something complex that you are not ready for.  Read books on the subject, take classes or attend events where you can learn techniques from more experienced players, watch demonstrations and practice your techniques well before using them on a partner.

As you can see, bondage is an exciting and titillating aspect of BDsM play, which has endless applications and appeal.  It can be simple and basic or intricate and complex.

 

So now we know that B is for Bondage. Next time, I’ll be taking you through the ins and outs of discipline…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall to Wall Festival 2017

Art and culture aren’t things that one typically associates with country towns.  But that couldn’t be further from reality when one considers my hometown of Benalla, Victoria.  Benalla not only has an awesome art gallery and a stellar performing arts centre, but it is the home to the annual Wall to Wall street art festival.

 

Now in it’s third year, Wall to Wall is responsible for some incredible pieces of artwork that are dotted around the town.  Last week, artists began staking out their spots and sketching.  On Saturday I took my camera for a walk to take a look at the works in progress.

 

This year’s offerings are varied and colourful, with a number of amazing 3D pieces included in the mix.  If you have the means to travel to Benalla one weekend, I suggest you do so and take a long walk and gaze upon the amazing works of art that are dotted around the walls and pavements of this town.

 

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As part of the festival, The Wall to Wall committee organized a giant community paint-by-numbers.  Everyone was invited to come along and join in to create an amazing painting.  Sadly, I’d forgotten that this was taking place and I was a tad too dressed up to muck in with the painters.  I wish that I’d worn jeans instead so that I could have joined in the fun.

 

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Do you have a favourite piece?

 

 

 

Five Fandom Friday: My to-be-read pile

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One of my new years resolutions was to get my to-be-read pile under control.  The top of my bookcase in my bedroom is a dedicated space where I keep the books i have yet to read.  However, that orderly pile has begun spilling from between my bookends, and the overflow has formed two additional stacks. This simply won’t do!  I am trying to make time to read more as well as attempting to curb my urge to buy every interesting-looking book that catches my eye.  This is proving challenging, particularly as I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices each time I begin a new book.

 

So I felt that this 5 Fandom Friday Prompt was timely and served two purposes.  Firstly, it will help me identify five books that I am most looking forward to reading and secondly, it will give you a glimpse at my reading material.  Let’s make a start.

 

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  1. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I’m obsessed with Tudor history and historical fiction set in this era always piques my interest.  I am a fan of Philippa Gregory’s novels, because I think she does a brilliant job creating strong connections to her characters and it’s fun to imagine what it might have been like to live during those times.  The Lady of the Rivers focuses on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Henry VII’s grandmother in law.  Jacquetta was a formidable woman and possibly a witch.  I have already read The Red Queen and The White Queen, and Jacquetta was a background character in each of those stories.  I’m really looking forward to reading a story with her at the forefront.

 

2. According to Yes by Dawn French

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to sit down with this book, because each of Dawn French’s other books has barely lasted a week on my shelf before I’ve torn into it. I absolutely adore her characters and her witty yet heartfelt writing style.  From the cryptic blurb on the back, I get the impression that this is going to be a tale of self-indulgence and finally breaking free after a lifetime of denying ones own impulses.  And it sounds very juicy indeed.

 

3. The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

There’s a reason why this book has been sitting on my shelf for such a long time.  Terry Pratchett is my favourite author, and this is the final book that was published after his death.  I have been trying to work up the courage to read it, because I know that it’s going to be emotional, almost like saying goodbye to a close friend.  The Shepherd’s Crown features one of my favourite Pratchett characters: Tiffany Aching.  Tiffany is a young witch who is steely and fierce yet still has all the vulnerability of a teenager.  I know I’m going to love this book, but it breaks my heart that once this one is done, there are no more new Pratchett books left to read.

 

4. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

Since seeing the film several years ago, I have been burning to read The Colour Purple.  The copy on my shelf is battered and dog-eared, having been purchased from a tiny book stall in Melbourne.  This story of two sisters in the Deep South, facing unimaginable oppression and fear, promises to be moving and poignant.

 

5. Aimee & Jaguar by Erica Fischer

A true story of two women who fell in love in Berlin in 1942, and the gut-wrenching realities that pulled them apart.  I have been searching for more queer fiction to add to my literary menu, and this story has been on my to-read list for quite some time.  I am truly looking forward to being transported back in time by the words and pages, and walking with the two title characters as they discover one another and develop their love.

 

What have you been reading lately?  What’s on your to-read pile?