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It’s not a big secret that I am a summer person. I am so terribly, terribly over the cold weather – I know it doesn’t snow here, or anything, but relative to my world – it’s been bloody freezing. We’ve had two whole days of sunshine in the last week, and my heart wants to burst – I am so excited for spring to officially land!

One of the best things about online shopping is that we can purchase items from anywhere in the world. This is great news for us Aussie babes, because we have a small window of opportunity to stock up on summer gear as the warmer weather draws to a close on the other side of the world. This means … sales.

Lots and lots of lovely, lovely sales.

Modcloth remains one of my all time favourite fashion houses on the net. They were the first online store I ever purchased from, way back when I was in highschool – and I haven’t looked back since! These glam babes have a SPECIAL treat for you at the moment – up to 70% off their summer dresses, separates and other lovely goodies! Yippee!

I have been trawling the Modcloth sale page for hours – allow me to share with you my top picks for Australia’s S/S 2014/15!

  • DRESS IT UP

The easiest way to do a chic summer look is to choose a statement dress that speaks for itself. Team with cute heels, a gorgeous bag and a few jewels – et voila! Personally, I’ll be opting for sweet, summery colours, a lot of floral and a lot of stripe!

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1. Betsey Johnson Goes To Showcase Dress $52.99 (70% off) / 2. Musical Maestro Dress $53.99 (70% off) / 3. Hosting For Dinner Dress $44.99 (70% off) / 4. The Story Of Citrus Dress (30% off) / 5. Very Charming Dress $36.99 (30% off) / 6. Main Street Mosey Dress $51.99 (30% off) / 7. Completely Sweet Dress $62.00 (30% off) / 8. Chalk Of The Town Dress $26.99 (70% off)

  • DRESS IT DOWN

Sometimes, it’s just too warm to be bothered with anything except lazy picnics in the park, beers at lunchtime and rolling around in the sand. For those moments, go with a light fabric and minimal structure. Personally, I’ll be taking the Floral di Latte dress with me on my next jaunt to Bali…

dress it down

 

1. The Story Of Citrus Dress $34.99 (30% off) / 2. All Fancied Pup Dress $27.99 (70% off) / 3. Patio La La Dress $30.00 (30% off) / 4. Under The Seascape Dress $36.99 (30% off) / 5. Floral Di Latte Dress $41.99 (30% off) / 6. I Love You Paris Dress $55.99 (30% off) / 7. Palm Breeze-ly Tunic $10.99 (70% off) / 8. Fun Of Those Days Dress $56.99 (70% off)

  • TOP SHOP

I’m not really into tops all that much – I like to minimise the attention on my bust, opting instead for attention-grabbing skirts, shorts and leggings with fun colours and prints. Having said that, though, I did uncover a few beauties in the sale that are worth a look! I wear very minimal black in summer – unless it’s broken up with polka dots or prints.

top shop

1. Easy To Spot Top $20.99 (30% off) / 2. Starry Knit Tank $16.99 (30% off) 3. Make Up Your Mind Tank $16.99 (30% off) / 4. Documentary Filmmaker Blazer $19.99 (70% off)

  • BOTTOMS UP

Modcloth have always, always always stocked amazing skirts. I just love skirts in the spring and summer – they’re versatile, comfortable, easy to wear, and flattering (I always go for the cinched waist and flirty flare, myself!). Similarly, a great pair of shorts are a summer staple – I’m into shorts of a slightly longer length, and of course, bold, bright colours! Check these out:

bottoms up

 

1. Going Neon An On Skirt $34.99 (30% off) / 2. Chilled Cocktail Shorts $13.99 (70% off) / 3. Musee Matisse Skirt $23.99 (30% off) / 4. Sailorette The Seas Shorts $34.99 (30% off) / 5. Bright On The Dot Skirt $14.99 (70% off) / 6. Proclivity For Positivity Skirt $27.99 (30% off) / 7. Work And Playa Shorts $27.99 (30% off)

  • SHOES AND SUMMER FUN

What would the perfect summer outfit be without the perfect pair of summer shoes? Whether heels, flats or sandals, now is the time to refresh your summer shoe-drobe courtesy of our northern hemisphere friends.

shoes and summer fun

 

1. Twinkling Trimmings Sandal $41.99 (30& off) / 2. Just A Jaunt Flat $41.99 (30% off) / 3. Stylish Expression Sandal $22.99 (30% off) / 4. Change Your Colours Glass Set $16.99 (30% off) / 5. Punchbowl Heel $48.99 (30% off) / 6. Sliver Of Silver Flat ($23.99 (30% off) / 7. Declare The Love Heel $35.99 (70% off) / 8. Aquas And Effect Bag $37.99 (30% off)

There are many, many more items in the Modcloth sale pages – I had to whittle my selection down to these few things, though I could have easily included much much more! If you click through to find that they have sold out of your size, I apologise in advance – Modcloth sales are always crazy, so you need to get in quick!

Now that’s all said and done, I’m off for a lovely long walk in the sunshine.

MJ x 

*This post contains affiliate links – thanks for supporting Modcloth and MJ Valentine!*

In case you’d missed my various proclamations across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: I have recently joined forces with my awesome friends and total megababes Sarah and Kelly over at Clutch Those Heels! (Incidentally, Sarah is also the editor/webmistress over at Lace And Buckles – another of my favourite blogs!)

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I will be collaborating regularly with the girls to discuss our favourite things: shoes and handbags, makeup, styling and champagne. We have some big plans for the very near future, so be sure to head over to Bloglovin’ or your favourite reader and subscribe to Clutch Those Heels so you don’t miss out!

One of the new features we’re working on is called Three Ways To Wear. Every fortnight, Sarah, Kelly and I will be choosing a pair of shoes and styling an outfit to wear with them. We want to show you how to diversify your shoe-drobe and help you to develop your own personal style.

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For the first edition, we selected a gorgeous purple suede pump – ‘Biba’ by Robert Robert. Pumps and polka dots are kind of a no-brainer for me – I just think there’s something so fabulously femme about them – so I teamed the shoes up with this super fun skirt and my favourite sweater!

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When in doubt, don’t worry; Be-Yonce.

  • Ears – Diva
  • Necklace – Bardot
  • Sweater – Unknown (pop up clothing store at Westfield)
  • Skirt – Valleygirl
  • Shoes – Fiona McGuinness

If I had to wear this outfit again, I think I’d choose a tighter black top to show off my curves a bit more (the sweater looks a little baggy [read: 'frumpy'] to me). I’d probably wear it tucked in and cinch the look together with a wide patent pink or black belt. What do you think?

Overall, this was a really fun experiment – I love how we all styled the shoes so differently! Keep an eye on the blog for the next edition – I’ll give you a hint: black lace booties…

MJ x 

PS Check out my first post over at Clutch Those Heels – Nautical Style: Spring And Summer!

 

 

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“But how did you know where she was?” Bonita demanded, gazing at Mia, the stranger who had saved the day. Bonita had arrived at Gusto’s five minutes after Tinky, Tallulah and Mia had collapsed into the booth in the exclusive back room at the bar.
Talullah was hiccoughing sadly into her half-empty wine glass, completely ignoring the conversation surrounding her.
“I didn’t,” Mia supplied, looking baldly at Bonita, who was still wearing her cat ears and an oddly suspicious look on her face. “I told Tinky that I’d seen Talullah walk past the pub where I’d been sitting with my friends, and Tinky and I came by Gusto’s as we were walking up the road together. Tinky knew she’d be in here.”
Tinky was slumped in the lounge seat opposite Bonita and Mia, her leg extended under the table so that her foot was supported on the opposite lounge. She’d wrapped her swollen, aching ankle in a damp washcloth and a bag of frozen peas, both of which the miraculous Mia had managed to procure from someone behind the bar half an hour earlier.
Tinky flushed. Mia was the one who’d suggested where Talullah might be – Tinky had only happened to guess correctly. She squirmed minutely in her seat. Tinky and Bonita loved each other to pieces, but it was no secret that Bonita thought Tinky was a little irresponsible – regardless of how good she was in a crisis.
Talullah sniffed almost inaudibly and brought her wine glass to her lips, eyes downcast.
“Well…,” Tinky began, glancing at Talullah, “I knew she wouldn’t have just gone home, or whatever,” Tinky muttered, avoiding Bonita’s eye. “If I were in her position, I’d feel like a drink on my own, too.”
Tinky, Bonita and Mia all glanced yet again at Talullah, who hadn’t said a word since she’d collapsed into the lounge.
Any hope of returning to the Marcus Saunders’ exhibition had long since evaporated, and the four women had shared nearly two entire bottles of wine between them before revisiting the discussion of Talullah’s disappearance. It had taken almost as long for Talullah’s sobs to peter out into sniffles and hiccoughs, which now issued periodically from her blotchy face.
Bonita was watching Tinky expectantly.
“Fine!” Tinky snapped, fed up with Bonita’s reproachful stare, and Talullah jumped. “I was coming up Darling Street when I fell over out the front of the pub where Mia was sitting – that’s how I twisted my ankle. Mia managed to keep it together long enough to find this one-” – she poked Talullah, who didn’t register the jab, but held her contemplative gaze into her wine glass, “- alone at the bar, crying her eyes out.”
Tinky’s voice softened.
“I’d never have managed it without Mia,” Tinky muttered, lifting her glass half an inch off the table gesturing toward Mia, who smiled.
“Bullshit,” Mia declared airily. “You know your friend better than I do. I just know the manager of the bar.”
Bonita switched her gaze from Tinky to Mia and nodded appreciatively, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
“Thankyou,” she said, “for everything. We really appreciate it.”

Mia left Gusto’s not long afterwards, leaving Tinky, Bonita and Mia sitting in the booth – she sensed there was further discussion to be had by the trio. She and Tinky had swapped phone numbers – Tinky had insisted on taking Mia out for lunch to thank her for all her help some time in the following week. Mia waved goodbye to the bar manager on her way out, who waved jovially back. Mia smiled, stepping out into the cold night air, and turned to make her way back down the road towards home.
Mia lived in a tiny apartment at the end of Darling Street, only a few minutes walk from Gusto’s itself. The unit block was modern and spacious, offering gorgeous views of the water and the lights that danced and twinkled across it, including those of Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. If the views were big, the rent was astronomical; it was only due to her astoundingly successful career that she managed to afford the lifestyle she permitted herself to enjoy.
Mia continued down Darling Street, humming to herself and reflecting on the events of the evening. She’d been at the pub enjoying a few drinks with some old friends when she’d seen poor Talullah float past like a zombie, carrying her shoes in one hand and her bag in the other, with tears streaming freely down her makeup-smeared face. She’d almost gone after Talullah then, chasing her down the street to make sure she was alright -  but her someone had grabbed her arm to show her something on their phone. Mia had forgotten all about Talullah until she saw Tinky’s spectacular fall five minutes later, and wondered whether she’d been chasing after the sad, shoe-less girl of minutes earlier.
Mia thought back to Talullah’s crumpled face and sighed. She’d never experienced it, that particular type of pain. Pain so severe it’s as though the stomach is trying to claw it’s way out of one’s body, heart sinking to one’s toes and beating feebly against the cold soles of one’s feet, wondering why no one else can hear the screaming, until the frightening realisation dawns that the cries are coming from inside one’s own head.
Mia’s heels clicked purposefully as she wound round the corner at the bottom of Darling Street toward her apartment. The temperature had dropped a few more degrees, and it was  getting quite chilly.
Mia wondered vaguely what had happened to Talullah. Tinky had explained the larger points abruptly, after they’d sat down at the lounge in Gusto’s – however, with Talullah’s wailing and the pouring of the wine, Mia had missed most of the details. She knew that Talullah’s ex-boyfriend had gotten engaged, but she was at a loss as to how someone could react so violently to such news. Sure, finding out an ex is getting married sucks, but does it really warrant that kind of meltdown? Mia pondered the situation as her apartment block wound into the view ahead.
No, she decided, there must be more to the story. Something else had to have happened. She remembered the way that she’d watched Tinky hold Talullah at the bar as Talullah cried into her friend’s arms. She’s seen Tinky furiously blink away tears as she hugged Talullah close to her.
Mia hadn’t really seen that kind of friendship before.
Mia’s heels clicked up the steps to the door of her building. She pulled her keys out of her bag and held the security key up to the scanner, where it bleeped feebly and she heard the door click. Using her shoulder to throw her weight against the door, which was made from extremely heavy steel and very thick glass, she forced her way inside.
Mia had never had a close group of girlfriends. She’d gone to a very posh private all-girls school in inner Sydney, and had never really felt as though she fit in. Most of her classmates aspired to be doctors or diplomats; Mia snorted in derision every time she remembered this, as her position as a talent agent consisted mostly of administering substances to placate or energise, and negotiating delicate situations fraught with politics and complications. She hadn’t even gone to university, and yet she was more qualified to deal with day-to-day human anguish than most of them.
Her classmates had always thought of her as an oddity. It wasn’t exactly as though she wasn’t liked; she was, well enough, but her peers had always been apprehensive of her. As a child and a teenager, Mia had been ‘impossible’ – loud, argumentative, inquisitive to a fault and supremely confident. She’d backed up these traits with an exceptionally high IQ and absolutely zero concern for what anyone else thought of her – making her quite a formidable character from the tiny age of three. At school, Mia had participated in debate, drama and sports, and had excelled in all three – largely due to her considerable talent of both exhausting and annoying anyone who dared to challenge her.
It was this bizarre constellation of traits that had helped her land her first job with the talent agency.
Mia worked as an agent for one of the most successful talent agencies in the entire country. She had sky-rocketed from the junior administration position of her humble beginnings to a senior role in the space of four short years. It was simple, really – Mia was just so good at her job that the director of the agency had no idea what to do other than keep promoting her.
She’d originally walked into the agency building four years earlier, with a view to seeing an agent on the spot, convinced that she was going to be an actress. After exchanging tetchy unpleasantries with the haughty receptionist for ten minutes, a woman from the HR department of the agency noticed the pair arguing as she was walking through the lobby after lunch. She’d invited Mia into a meeting room, spoken with her briefly and offered Mia the receptionist’s job on the spot. Mia started the following Monday, and the first thing she did was send the former receptionist, who had apparently been causing all kinds of problems for years, a massive bunch of tulips and a card that read ‘Thanks for all your help!’.
Toward the end of her first six months of employment, Mia single-handedly talked down a venomous, irate A-list celebrity who was threatening to break his contract with the agency two days before the Academy Awards were due to be held in LA. Not only had Mia managed to catch (with her left hand) the glass tumbler the actor had thrown at his manager; Mia had, within the space of forty-five minutes, persuaded him to resign his contract with the agency for another two years, coerced him into making a public appearance at a charity event in London the following week and given him two scripts for upcoming features to review in his penthouse suite at the Shangri La that afternoon. He’d called Mia half an hour after leaving the agency to ask her out to dinner.
Her boss had been utterly gobsmacked.
Mia had been promoted and granted a significant pay rise the next day, and after twelve months she successfully negotiated her way to a six-figure salary, much to the bemusement of the Chairman of the Board, who’d doubted her capabilities at first but eventually recognised her burgeoning talent as nothing short of extraordinary.
The A-lister who’d sparked Mia’s rise to agency superstardom now refused to speak to anybody at the agency other than Mia. Mia’s client list grew smaller and more exclusive every year, as her salary grew larger.
Needless to say, she was a raging success.

Mia walked into the elevator and punched the brightly-lit button for level eleven. The doors slid closed before her, and at last she was able to prise her heels off and pull out the single hair pin that had been holding her chignon aloft. She shook her hair loose and picked up her shoes as the elevator dinged to signal her floor, and walked out, padding onto the soft hall carpet in bare feet.
She could see the lights of the Harbour twinkling in the distance as she gazed out the massive floor-to-ceiling window that fronted onto the water from the hall. She got to her front door of her harbour-facing apartment – withdrew her key, jammed it in the lock and let herself in.
Her boyfriend Joel was snoring, feet sprawled over the end of the sofa and a text book laying flat and open on his chest. Mia watched it rise and fall gently with his deep breathing and smiled, tiptoeing over to switch off the reading lamp above his head. He grunted in his sleep as the light went out, shifting slightly, and let out another resounding snore before easing to a more comfortable position. Mia reached over and pulled a rug from the closest armchair, throwing it over Joel and kissing him on the cheek before making her way to their bedroom.
She hadn’t wanted to wake Joel, as she knew he’s been studying ferociously for hours. Joel was a law student at the University of New South Wales, and his final exams were fast approaching. He’d barely looked up from his books when Mia had called goodbye on her way out the door hours earlier, but she hadn’t minded; Joel was as equally committed to her career as she was to his rigorous study regime. It was only fair.
Upon entering the bedroom, Mia flipped on the light and closed the door softly behind her. She hadn’t realised how tired she was until her gaze fell upon her bed – soft, warm and inviting. The half-formed idea of taking a shower floated out of her head as she pulled off her clothes, pulled on her favourite of Joel’s old t-shirts and collapsed into the covers.
She fell into a deep and dreamless sleep – partly due to the fact she’d been awake for almost twenty four hours, and partly due to the wine she’d drunk. But as soft little snores issued from her partially-lipsticked mouth, Mia wasn’t to know that her exhausting encounter with Talullah, Tinky and Bonita was about to change her life forever.

Need to catch up? Read the previous instalment here!

Image creds: The Morgan Family Tree

“It just looks like so much fun.”

Well, I’m glad you feel that way, sweet cheeks, but let me tell you: blogging is no picnic in the park!

I live and breathe my blog. I wake up in the morning thinking about it, I think about it while I eat, I beat myself up thinking about it when I (occasionally) watch TV, I think about it in the bath and the shower, I think about it at school when I’m supposed to be thinking about other stuff, I think about it as I fall asleep, and occasionally – when I’m really stressed – I dream about it too. My blog has become part of who I am – I am living my brand and breathing my message every single day.

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If you’re looking to start blogging, there are three questions you need to ask yourself.

  • Do you want to start a blog to make money?
  • Do you believe that what you have to say is important?
  • Do you live and breathe your passions, unable to let them go – even if you are told to? Even if you’re exhausted?

You should have two yeses and one no. If I have to tell you which answer is which, you might want to try journalling for a little while, before committing to something like a blog.

There are two main reasons that I started this blog. The first is because I wanted to be able to generate interest surrounding my makeup business. The second is because I needed to do something to pull me out of the depression that I was in. I thought it would be marvellous to document my ‘journey back from the brink’. And it has been. It’s been monumental.

* * *

I’ve been blogging for three and half years. How crazy is that? I remember registering my first free site over at Blogger, and writing self-indulgent, whiney crap that nobody ever read. After six months, I moved on and found other things to occupy my time (like booze, bad friends and bad men) and never really thought about it all that much. When I’d had enough of the self-deprecation, I turned back to my blog, and decided to take it a little more seriously. I started actually thinking about the content I was writing, and why. I thought about what motivated me and how I wanted to feel each time I hit ‘publish’. After peaks and troughs of interest and engagement, and dabbling in various other areas like University and full time work, I finally decided that I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t let it go. So three months ago, I actively made the decision to stop looking for ‘real’ work. For me, it was a now-or-never type deal.

Since I made the choice to stop actively seeking a ‘real’ job, I have felt like a whole new person. The very real panic and anxiety I associated with my future and who I want to be has almost completely dissipated. Over the last year, I’ve invested a tonne of time and money into furthering my knowledge, learning new skills and advertising my business, and now, I can finally see a path illuminated in front of me. Not all the way to the end; but it’s there, a few steps at a time. And the best part is, it’s only going to get clearer.

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I said I’ve been blogging for three and a half years. The truth is, I’ve been writing for a lot longer than that. A LOT longer. Like, fourteen years longer. I’ve been a writer from the time I could hold a pen. I have kept countless journals, written an endless supply of short stories and essays, started and abandoned three separate novels (one of which hit about 90,000 words before I lost interest) and written for various publications relevant to my age and lifestyle over the years. Writing remains the only thing I’ve never been able to shake. In the past, I tried hard to let it go, believing that there was no place in the world for my voice. There are hundreds of thousands of far more talented writers than I out there – so why bother? It’s a mark of how little self-worth I possessed that I didn’t start writing on a public platform until I was 21. Believe it or not, prior to that, I had never let anyone else read my work. At all. Not even my mum or dad.

The other thing is that money has never, even been important to me. It’s just bits of paper (or plastic, really, if you’re in Australia). I believe that there will always be means to achieve your goals if you want them badly enough. Don’t get me wrong, lots of cash would be nice – but, in the past, more important to me has been the support and understanding from my family, making amazing new friends, expanding my readership and helping people by drawing on my own personal experience. If the idea of making big bucks were driving me, I wouldn’t be blogging full time. I’d be in a shitty, soul sucking office job like the one that I quit in March to follow my dream. I’m okay with measuring my worth in other ways. (Not that I have anything against making money, of course. And God knows that before I die, I need to own at least one pair of these shoes).

If you came here to learn how to make money from starting a blog, you’ll know by now that I can’t help you. I’m motivated by my passions, as are the other women I know who blog full time. It’s not about the money and it’s not about fame or glory either. It’s about raw, honest experience and feeling, and contributing something of worth to the world. 

MJ x 

PS Now that I’ve made my intentions and expectations crystal clear – would you be interested in reading a Beginner’s Guide to Blogging a la MJ Valentine? Leave a comment below! 

22 Aug 2014

Good morning (well – nearly afternoon) my munchkins! I’ve got a few little tidbits for y’all that I think you’ll enjoy! Go make a cup of tea, tuck your tootsies up and get clickin’.

  • This is one of the best ‘how we made this movie’ articles I’ve ever read – and not in the least because it’s all about The Wizard Of Oz!

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“Tales of drunken dwarf love-ins and an “unholy assembly of pimps, hookers and gamblers” emerged from the Culver Hotel where they stayed during filming. After the movie was finished, producer Mervyn LeRoy recalled: “They had orgies in the hotel and we had to have police on about every floor.”

Like whaaat?!

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ALB has a unique and beautiful perspective on mental illness and the untimely passing of Robin Williams

  • I’ve linked to this chick before, but my babe Lisa has launched an awesome initiative called #runwithlisa. If you’re in need of a little inspiration, motivation, or just want proof that you’re not the only one who’d starting out or struggling, so check it out and join in! I’m making it my mission to do so today!
  • Fat Girl Fitness is a great post by a great lady
  • The lovely Pearl over at Pretty Mayhem included me in her Sponsor Spotlight post this month! Be sure to head over and check it out!
  • 6 Layer Neapolitan Macaroon Cake. Enough said.

Right. Well, as I mentioned, I am literally off to #runwithlisa. I am not overly happy with the way i am looking and feeling right now, so instead of moping around about it (as I have been doing for the past few weeks), I am going out into the wide world with my trainers and the Blogcademy Spotify playlist (Blogcademy babes – if you haven’t yet checked this out, oh my God. Go and do it. Now).

MJ x 

Image creds: The Pink Samurai