Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Gangster Microsoft Word

I was typing up a document in Microsoft Word when (in the annoying way it does) it offered me a grammar change. Usually these are ridiculous and don't make sense but I think this is the worst/best one I've ever seen:

Microsoft Word: now programmed by gangsters?

A Working Wardrobe

For those of you who follow me on Twitter you'll know that I got offered a job for over summer today. It's not a job at a magazine/fashion company (as awesome as that would be) as all the internships down south have already been snapped up. It is, however, a job I am familiar with as it's for the same company I worked for last year.

As it's with the same company I'm at a couple of advantages: I know the computer system I'll be working on, I know the layout of the building, I know a few of the permanent staff and I know the dress code. Last year I blogged panicking about the lack of suitable items in my wardrobe that fitted the dress code. This year I have managed to avoid this issue as I have several suitable items already packed in my bag ready to go home with me on Friday and be worn from (at the earliest) Monday...

Headbands: I've got a ton of these in my wardrobe but I'm only taking my most-worn ones with me including a peach one and a giant pink one to jazz up certain outfits.

Coloured tights: to go under skirts and dresses. I've got blue and purple coloured tights but I also bought a few pairs of Primark patterned tights for a bit of a change.
New Look button down top: probably my favourite top right now and can be teamed with a skirt or a pair of trousers. It also strikes the right side of casual/formal to go from work to meeting friends/the boyfriend.
My Luella-esque dress: I harp on about this quite a bit as I'm in love with the dress. It's knee length, I always get compliments on it and it looks awesome.

Knee length black skater/ballet skirt: I don't have a proper picture of my skirt so I've pinched one that looks similar for photo purposes from here. I wear this quite a lot at uni but it's suitable for work wear as well, making it twice as good considering I think I paid about £10 for it from H&M last Autumn. This skirt is also really versatile and works well with the button down top from new look and millions of other vest tops I already own.

I'm sorted shoe wise as well (provided it doesn't rain) as I've got a white pair of converse-style pumps from New Look and a mock-suede pair of pumps. If it does rain...well I'll work something out!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Plus Size Kick Back

I found this tonight when I was going through some old work in my portfolio. If I'm honest I think I handed in a shorter version of this in as a portfolio piece for university but I've changed it round a bit and quite liked it upon re-reading it and decided it should get an airing on my blog. It's an opinion piece so please interact with it and let me know what you think...

How thin is too thin? This is the question which seems to be habitually popping up in fashion and media circles. As pictures of shrinking celebrities and models appear in celebrity magazines and are uploaded to blogs the spotlight on the human body gets brighter and brighter. But how damaging is this? As a young girl I had a select handful of celebrities I wanted to emulate and paid a huge amount of attention to how they looked and acted. And nothing’s changed. Young girls still look up to the celebrities who appear on the cover of magazines and while some people say that advertising doesn’t have such a big affect as we think it does. Even if it’s just one person, an affect is had.

The media has a big impact on what reaches us as consumers, and what people pick up on is what is presented to them. If someone is told something enough, it becomes a fact in their mind. An easy example is the sky being blue: we’re told it is blue and it’s something we don’t question because we’re told this from a young age. So if a young girl, boy, woman or man is shown enough images of ‘beautiful’ models and celebrities who look immaculate and are so often celebrated for being thin, then brutalised for putting on weight, that standard become the ideal in their mind.

Sometimes it’s absolutely ridiculous. The UK’s national average dress size for a woman is a size 16. My size six friend genuinely thinks she’s obese and hideous. She’s beautiful and easily gets the most attention on a night out, but because she’s told to desire perfection she doesn’t think she’s good enough. The ‘perfect’ body she aspires to is one staring at her from the computer screen or a magazine and is often airbrushed to the extreme. It’s not realistic and it doesn’t celebrate our individuality.

I’ve struggled with weight for years, I’ve stepped the first steps of an eating disorder only to be dragged back by close friends and I’ve finally accepted my body for what it is. It’s imperfect. My hair can be wild, becoming tangled at a moment’s notice, my stomach isn’t flat and I have feet larger than I’d like them to be. But it’s me. And so what if those things are wrong with me? Why do we focus on the negatives? Yes my hair is frizzy but it curls beautifully and is my most complimented feature. Over the last year I have, with some set-backs and crisis moments of low confidence cropping up to haunt me again – stopped desiring to be stick thin and embraced myself in all my plus-sized wonder.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

H is for Happy week 15

Good evening everybody! I know it's only Wednesday night but I've got exams tomorrow and Friday and plan on crashing once they're done so I doubt I'll be posting anything in the next few days unless I really feel I need to. It's been a bit mixed so far this week. I've not been sleeping very well again (what's new there, right?) and my knee is still injured. One of my friends went through something similar and said it might be a sprained ligament. Fun, huh? So I'm supposed to be resting but have a 40 minute round-about journey to uni per exam. *Sighs* Guess I'll be living off anti-inflammatory tablets/cream and ice with my foot propped up for the next few days until I can legitimately collapse and refuse to resurface from my room for a long stretch.

Anyway, complaints about my injury out of the way (bring on Boots trip tomorrow for Deep Heat/Deep Freeze is all I can say!) here is this week's H is for Happy:

♥Cake baking: these particular beauties were made a couple of weeks ago with a friend/flatmate of mine but I made some more cakes yesterday with her in a fit of "let's make cake"/"my eggs are out of date tomorrow!" The results of said batch are in a Tupperware box in my food cupboard.

♥Meaningful flowers: it's 3 months this week since my grandma died so as kind of a memorial thing for her I bought two bunches of Irises (her name) and a yellow Gerba daisy as she liked purple and yellow flowers. It's something nice to remember her and it's made my room smell lovely as well which is always a bonus.

♥The relief of finishing an exam: one down, four to go. Or rather, two down; three to go as I shall be saying tomorrow afternoon. The first exam I had, on Tuesday, went rather well and I even finished a bit earlier than expected meaning I got to leave the rather stuffy room we were using for the exam and get some fresh air. The worst of my exams is tomorrow so this feeling will be particularly strong then, even if I can't jump for joy

♥Random compliments: or rather, unexpected compliments. I was talking to a couple I'm friends with on Sunday at church and they both informed me I was looking nice (or "well" as it was put), asked if I'd lost weight and told that the colour of my top really suited me. I'd actually gone there in a fairly bad mood so the complete unexpectedness and genuineness of it really cheered me up.

White Blank Page by Mumford and Sons; I know a ton of people went on about this song when it first came out but it came up on my iTunes shuffle tonight and reminded me of how much I love it all over again. This version is from the Bookshop Session they did and I prefer it to the official studio quality one as I think it's a lot more raw and passionate that way.

Speaking of music I love right now, I've been addicted all day to the Glee original song Light Up the World from the season finale. I won't spoil it as I've been a bit cheeky and watched it already when it's not out yet until later in the UK. Check it out, below, and see how catchy it is for yourself!

The Blog Issue 2

The Blog Issue is a resource for anyone who develops online content.

Every month The Blog Issue tackles a different topic. We cover common problems, digital trends, developing skills, branding and much more. For last week's post click here

This week's issue is: Promotion.

This is something I struggle with, in all honesty. I have never been all that bold, confident and pushy in anything I do and I find it awkward to be all "LOOK AT ME AND MY AMAZING THING/ACT/SELF" etc. This isn't necessarily bad in itself as, let's face it, if we all went around bragging about how awesome we were eventually everyone would get sick of everyone else and things would get violent pretty quickly, right?

However this has meant it's an issue when it comes to promoting this here darling blog of mine. In my head I'm a 20 year old woman who enjoys writing, fashion and various other things that trickle onto this blog. To quote that old cliché, I write for myself. I'm not going to lie and say I wouldn't love it if more people read my blog, because I get a surge of excitement when I see anyone has read my blog, regardless of whether they comment or not (although comments would be nice...)

So I'm stuck in a catch:22. I would, in reality, like to know more people are reading/'following' my blog, but I suck at promoting it. If I was amazing at promotions I'd be doing PR as my degree, not journalism. I do the writing side.

Of course there's the beautiful tool of social networking and most posts do end up on my twitter and facebook urging my friends/Twitter 'followers' to read x/y/z post but that's about all I know how to do. Other people's blogs seem to gain a zillion followers, comments etc in the world's shortest amount of time, while I've been going for over a year and officially have 6.

Maybe it's because I do suck at promo. I'm not winging about the six I do have as I'm totally thankful to them for reading this, as I'm thankful for the comments I get. I guess I'm just trying to work out this part of blogging still. In my head I'm still stuck in the "this is somewhere for me to rant, and if people like it then so be it" frame of mind.

What do you think? Should promotion be an important factor in the running of your blog?

Friday, 20 May 2011

H is for Happy week 14

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger this week. It's a bit manic at the moment with deadlines and a knee injury I've had for the last week so coming online has been one of the last things on my mind. Bit of a non-event week really so a little round-up of what's been making me happy this week:

♥M&S chocolate shortbread

♥Should I learn to bake bread I'll do it all the time, just for the smell

♥Lazy days: to tie-in with my non-event week I've been lounging around doing not all that much. Slobbing around in my pjs with some music, a book and a drink.

♥Rachel Bilson: Has a new show due to air soon. I'm desperately excited as it's been ages since she's been on T.V. and she's one of my favourite actresses. I'm also intrigued to see what kind of look her character will have.

♥Look-a-like dresses: I have a dress extremely similar to the Luella Bartley one above. Mine, however, is from Tesco. Victoria White (Company magazine's editor) did a talk at uni on Monday which I attended and she complimented it afterwards. Result.

Friday, 13 May 2011

H is for Happy week 13

Good evening everybody! This is this week's H is for Happy and I'm actually cheating a bit and writing this Thursday evening. I've scheduled this week's H is for Happy as I'm away over the weekend with my church at a place called Blaithwaite House in the Lake District area. I had a little nosy at their website and I'm super excited; the building looks gorgeous! Anyway, while I'm happily tucked away in the countryside away from most things technical (I shall have my blackberry but I'm debating having it off most of the time) here is what's been keeping me happy this week;

♥ Glee does prom: Two things I love are Glee and an excuse to dance so I was thrilled when this week's Glee was a prom centred episode. I fell in love with Darren Criss' voice again when he sung Black Kids' "I'm Not Gonna (Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance)" and was amazed by Lea Michelle's voice on "Rolling in the Deep". The dresses were also brilliant, as you can see, and I allowed myself a moment or two to think back to my prom and 6th form ball in a fit of nostalgia.

♥ Clemence Poesy: known to many as "Bill Weasley's missus" in the Harry Potter series, Clemence is actually a French model/actress (she's starring in Chloe perfume ads and was in Gossip Girl). I have a slight girl crush on her which was added to this week when I found a Miles Kane song she's singing on Happenstance. She sounds so sultry it's brilliant! My flatmate and I have been listening to this pretty much on repeat all week.

♥ Having a fridge/cupboard full of food: I'll be honest here - I'm a foodie. I love cooking and baking. I have an apron in my wardrobe. Dedication to the cause right there! My cupboard and drawer in the fridge are currently pretty well stocked. If you open my cupboard at the moment the smell of pepper and vinegar wafts out to you and it just smells so good!

♥Getting away from it all: pretty simple. I'll be doing that this weekend in the Lake District away from as much technology as possible. I plan on several walks around the area so long as the weather's good.

♥The relief of dealing with a heavy workload: At the beginning of this week I had two essays, three articles and two assessments to get through. I've now completed all of this except one essay which is due next Friday. All of my lectures have finished now so I'll be able to focus on this properly after a talk at uni on Monday by the editor of Company magazine, Victoria White, about the magazine industry and fashion. It's a bit of an early start but I'm looking forward to it so much.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Benefit Beauty Buys

Why hello alliteration in the title! Sorry, excuse my dorky moment there. Today I have behaved exactly like a uni student with their loan and had a mini shop. In my defence some things were needed (sleeping bag for a trip away this weekend and posting mum's birthday presents so they'd be there for Sunday).

However others weren't. Some of said others were from New Look and shall be coming up on here soon but this post is about the beauty section of my buying. Or more specifically, the Benefit buys (because I'm sure nobody care about my Lush face mask and toner tablet purchases as much).

I had a £2 off voucher thanks to my advantage card to spend on either lipstick or mascara in (obviously) Boots. Handily for me, my local boots (at uni anyway) is home to a Benefit counter. Hurrah! So I indulged myself make up wise and purchased the waterproof Bad Gal mascara.

Benefit Bad Gal waterproof mascara in black, £16.50

While I was paying for it the Benefit assistant told me about the celebrity files they do. Basically I signed up, got a freebie and get a free make up lesson in a couple of weeks before going home for summer. I got given the total moisture facial cream from the b.right! range they do (I do believe it's quite new still. Very exciting!) I used some this evening and my face is so soft and yummy smelling. Totally a good combination. I might just be tempted to buy some more after my make up lesson. Or perhaps something cheaper...

Benefit b.right! Total Moisture facial cream £7.31 (ish) in this trial pack
of the range OR £26.50 for a normal sized one

At £26.50 a pop I might have to stick that on the Christmas list and go for something cheaper like a lipstick. Conveniently I do actually need a new lipstick as my favourite one broke ages ago when I dropped it and I haven't found a decent colour for me since then.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

H is for Happy week 12

Hello there lovely readers! I hope this post finds you all well. As I type this I'm attempting not to rub my eyes as I have developed hay fever recently and have a bunch of pretty flowers in my room (oops) so the pollen is driving me a little bit insane. I should probably take a hay fever tablet really...oh well I'll do that later!

This week's H is for Happy is a bit more special for me as I've been needing to focus on the little things to cheer me up having spent last week clearing through things at my grandma's old house. The worst/best was easily her bedroom as it was her clothes and jewellery, it was also where I used to sneak in and look at said jewellery like the little magpie I was when I was a little girl. Not much has changed on the magpie front!

So, rambling introduction out of the way let us delve into this week's H is for Happy...

Half price goodies: GU soufflés were about half price when I did a food shop on bank holiday Monday and were promptly snapped up.

Getting (and reading) a new book; my loan came through late last week so I treated myself to a couple of new books. My mum was reading one when I noticed she'd bent the cover all the way back and I was filled with some kind of book lover/OCD dread. "Don't bend the cover all the way back mum! You'll make it have an ugly crease." Promptly left my mouth and, lovingly humouring my eccentricity my mum did unbend the cover. Phew.

Summer shopping: in short; student + loan + summer = £££. I've treated myself a bit this week and one purchase has been this rather gorgeous white button down shirt (and I totally blame Michelle for this buy as I told her over BBM) from New Look for a bargainous £10(ish) with a 20% discount. I promptly teamed it with a black skirt, coloured tights, red cardigan and headband in a Hermione Granger meets Blair Waldorf way.

Finding old letters: something I got to take back with me from my grandma's house were some of the letters we found (and there were loads). Among the ones I took were ones from my mum when I was little and a few from my granddad. He died when I was seven so I don't really have many memories of him so it's amazing to have letters that he wrote to my grandma.

The image explains it all really. This happened to me with one essay and has given me an extra week or so to do it, which eased a burden over the Easter holidays. I'm back into the full swing of uni work now though but it was nice to relax a bit.

And that's it for this week's H is for Happy.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Blog Issue

The Blog Issue is a resource for anyone who develops online content. More information can be found from here.

Every month The Blog Issue tackles a different topic. The first topic is:

The Blog Issue #1 - Jealousy

Jealousy is probably one of the easiest emotions we feel. It’s so easy to slip into – even a simple “I wish that dress looked as good on me as _______” falls into basic jealousy. But go global – aka the Internet – and jealousy can take on a whole new meaning. It’s so easy when starting up a blog to look through a billion different, well-established blogs to get an idea of what makes a good blog (content, design, level of privacy etc) only to become frustrated when months later you’re still going to a dashboard that tells you the only person who follows you is your mum*.

Which is where jealousy comes in: “I want that many followers, my blog is as good as that one I look at every day” sweeps into your head, generally followed quite swiftly by “well I must be doing something wrong because nobody likes my blog.” It can lead to leaving catty comments or blatant self promotion on slightly more popular blogs, which is something bloggers usually hate (both the comments and the self promotion).

So far, so general. Let’s hone in the focus and I’ll spill my guts (metaphorically at least) by talking about my little blog. I started Foil Cups up in my first year at uni studying magazine journalism after an unsuccessful stint on another blogging website because I wanted somewhere to put my writing with a heavy focus on fashion. I told my tutors about it when they asked classes if anyone had a blog and ones who bothered to check it out said it was good. I used the simple self promotion forums I had available to me – Facebook and Twitter (hurrah for social networking!)

I gained a few followers – a couple of friends but otherwise strangers from places as far away as Australia – and a couple more readers than that who didn’t have the account needed to ‘follow’ and couldn’t be bothered so sporadically check in to see what I’m writing. I’d sign my emails with my blog address under my name and included it on my CV. At the highest I had seven followers. I lost two this February after a post about Valentine’s day – I’ve no idea if the post was linked to their departure but it was quite close to the post date that it happened – and had a bit of a slump in my thoughts. Why bother, I reasoned, if nobody wanted to read what I wrote?

After a month or so of considering my little blog I decided to keep going regardless of followers, amount of people who commented and reader statistics. There are people I’ve never met in Japan, USA, Brazil and other countries I’ve only dreamed of going to who read my blog (hello by the way!) so even if I don’t have several thousand or even hundred people who check into my blog why should I get disheartened?

However that doesn’t stop me getting jealous from time to time. I read a fair few blogs and follow a few of the girls on Twitter. They are lovely and their blogs are brilliant. Do I get jealous when I read of PR companies contacting them and offering items to review/give away/just have? Do I feel the old “I wish that was me” when they get invited to blogger meet ups or get press passes to fashion shows? Of course I do! I love fashion and – mainly because of my student psyche – I’m a sucker for a freebie or two. I’d love it if someone said to me “hey it’d be brilliant if you could come see our fashion show.”

On the flip side my blog has given me brilliant opportunities – said post got me a bunch of readers when it was linked on the online magazine I’m a part of. I’m fashion and beauty editor of said online magazine (Spark Sunderland) because the editor knows I’m passionate about it and saw bits of my writing. I linked to it (as usual) in an email and was commissioned for a different magazine online last summer (Cellar Door magazine [page 34/35 btw]) which lead me to find and investigate a brilliant vintage shop just down the road from where I was working as a temp that summer.

If I’m honest I don’t put as much effort into my blog as other people do. My layout is a free one as is my header while others make their own. Some email the PR companies themselves offering their services to companies they love. Others actually buy things to give away as prizes. Yes some do gather a lot of loyal readers in a seemingly short space of time but they work their butts off for it or are just well connected while others who have a lot of followers have done so over months/years of hard work and promotion. There are millions of blogs out there and mine is just one. This is what I tell myself if I log on and go “I don’t know what to write about, nobody reads this rubbish anyway and there are tons of other blogs who do what I do but loads better.” There is a possibility (alright so it’s slim but it could happen) that someone somewhere is saying the exact same thing as me.

*By the way my mum doesn’t read my blog to my knowledge (she might but hey, she hasn’t said anything. Just in case…HI MUM!) but my aunt does and used a post I’d written to buy me my birthday present this year after I said how much I wanted a particular piece of jewellery. So even if your family are your only readers you can still benefit (put your Christmas/birthday/I’m poor, please treat me to something lovely list up there and send it round, way easier than repeating yourself on the phone to various relatives).
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