Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Liebster Award.

So I was absolutely thrilled to bits to get home from collecting my shiny new bike yesterday evening (more on that in a later post) to find that I had been awarded the Liebster Award over at The Pampered Sparrow. This was a huge honour as that is one of my favourite blogs to read - particularly the "words on Wednesday" posts where the most inspiring quotes are written. The idea of the Liebster Award is that if you are nominated - you pass it on to 5 bloggers who are up-and-coming (i.e. have less than 200 followers). I have selected my 5 below, although I couldn't see on a couple how many followers they had so I may have stretched the criteria slightly! Here you are:-

Emsipop - Leaves lovely comments everywhere, making people smile.
Inspired by the retired - Has some super photos (see Liverpool post)
Diary of this girl - One of the cheeriest people I "know" - just her photo cheers me up!
Rach Electric - does the best beauty reviews.
Science Geek Chic - Got to love a blog where science is listed as a "love"!

So please head on over and give some love to some of my favourite bloggers. And thanks again for making my day with this, my second ever blog award! Anyone else had anything brilliant happen to make their day?

Monday, 27 February 2012

A fab week in Instagram

I think it is fair to say I have probably had the best week ever over the last 7 days and although I haven't blogged much, trust me when I say I have been in a super good mood throughout. I have put together some Instagram snaps taken by me, Dave and Louise to share with you about my week. I have seen posts like this on other blogs and they really appeal to me as a fairly nosey reader - hope you all feel the same way.

My week started waking up in Bradford last sunday to the sunniest day of the year so far. We went and took some photos in the newly done up Centenary Square before sitting outside and enjoying a big hot chocolate. Then I went with my housemates to The Manor bar in Chapel Allerton where Rich works and drank A LOT - my first round involved a Jaegerbomb and a cocktail!!! Then I saw on Monday that Dan was road planning our trip to Bulgaria - all very exciting. Then after getting my job, Louise took us all out to La Cafetiere for some middle eastern food and a laugh to celebrate. On Friday I took Clive round to my friend Adam's to get his sleeve tattoo. Saturday Dave had a rare day off so we drove to Skipton which used to always be our go-to date spot. I took both Dianas as I have been having a lot of problems with them lately. Lucky for us the market was on so we went to an olive stand and got ourselves a right feast. We also visited Dave's favourite shop where he bought some accessories for his mini 110 SLR - lucky for me it came as a package with another Pentax SLR so I am having it! For tea we went to a buffet at Aagrah and it was beautiful - plus very fresh as we were the first there before it got busy. Even the toilets were gorgeous and full of flowers. Unfortuately on the way back from Skipton we had a flat tyre so had to make a detour to the garage to fix it - this is a shot of Dave telling me off for taking a photo of him, instead of holidng the light so he could actually see, oh dear.
I also had a rather naughty week for clothes shopping and took advantage of the sale at ASOS and the 25% student discount at Dorothy Perkins. I am trying to justify this by thinking that I am in the process of having a huge clothes clearout! Here is what i got.

Has anyone else done anything exciting this week? Or bought anything exiting for that matter?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Great news and a giveaway!

So I am in a fantastic mood this weekend as I was successful and I got my new job!!!!! This means I get a small promotion and much more varied experience which is what I was after. I must first tell you about the horror of the interview however as I came out of it on Wednesday nearly in tears. The interview part went ok (even though it was with a panel of 3 managers who I already work with) and I was feeling good about my efforts but then I had to do a 3 part assessment centre. One part was doing minutes and although I have never done this before, my manager had given me some guidance and I felt prepared. Problem was, these minutes weren't like any we had practiced and I was instantly panicked by this. Coupled with the fact that the tape machine looked like it was from 1958 and I had a number of disasters. Firstly I wasted ten minutes trying to catch the man's name at the start of the tape as I thought that would be a crucial element and they just mumbled through it. Then, I accidentally kicked what I thought was a footrest but was in fact a foot operating pedal for the tape machine. It went beserk, rewound past the beginning to a -1.4 (whatever that meant!) and then spat out and refused to go back in again. I battled with this for a further 10 minutes - effectively wasting 20 minutes of the 55 I had been given. When the HR woman came in to tell me my time was up I hadn't even reached the end of the cassette. I was gutted. So imagine my surprise when they called me later that afternoon to inform me that I had been successful! I am over the moon and haven't stopped smiling since. I feel really lucky as I pretty much decided that I wanted to make probation my career at the age of 21 and a lot of people, for whatever reasons don't have that. I don't have a start date yet as it is all up in the air with regards to replacements and things because with all the public sector spending cuts we can't afford to get new staff and are constantly forced to shuffle the ones we have. The post I have been successful in getting is part time PA to the Director of Operations (and covering as PA to Head of Leeds Probation when required). This does however mean I have to be given a part time job to run alongside it so that is being sorted at the moment. It is all very exciting stuff. I will write a bit more about what I actually when I find out more.

And because I am in such a happy place right now I have decided to bring forward my 50 follower giveaway. I was going to announce then when I reached 50 followers (well, if I reached them) but I am close to it now and have already bought 3 items to include as you can see below.

Silver swallow necklace from Asda, Stila shine lip colour in Tina and Rimmel eyeshadow in Royal Blue 

Anyway - all you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment below here and provide an email address where I can contact you if you win. I will close the competition when I hit the 50 followers mark (which at my current rate should be about a week or so) irrespective of how many entries I have had. New followers are also very welcome, as are international readers.
I know to a lot of people 50 followers is nothing but I feel really proud that 50 (nearly) whole people want to read what I write and although I do it for no-one but myself in essence, I like getting comments and starting to chat to new people. I also want to celebrate every milestone like this in my blog because I was rubbish in 2011 and I vowed I would be more consistent in 2012. So far so good I think. . . . 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Stylish in Stila

I feel like all I do lately is buy cosmetics and then write little reviews on them - sorry if that is a bit boring to some folks but as make-up reviews are among my favourite things to read, I feel like I ought to put a few out there of my own. During my ebay splurges of late, I got a few Stila lip items which were all under £2 and BNIB so I was chuffed with the prices for a start. They were al from different sellers but I have discovered that Stila items, even when brand new, don't tend to get to very high prices on ebay, despite being about $22 a piece on the Stila website. First of all here are the 3 items I got, still all boxed up:-

It gloss, shine lip colour and regular lip colour
I love the packaging as it is so simple but looks so stylish, it reminds me of the clean look of the topshop items. The boxes also feel really thick and luxurious, making me feel like I got a real bargain having paid under £7 for all 3 items including delivery! Then there is how gorgeous these items look on the inner packaging. The lip colour is my favourite as it is wrapped in a burgundy leather type material and feels incredibly well made, as they all do.

picture of all the items out of the boxes. Sorry it is so shadowy in my room

some swatches on my hand of the gloss, lip colour and then shine lip colour
Firstly the it-gloss, despite looking like Barbie pink in the tube which worried me slightly is a light pink and looks great on. It has awesome staying power and feels glossy rather than sticky which I like. It goes on with a little brush as well so is good for my top lip which is quite thin at the edges. The shade is called "enticing". Then the lip colour which looks absolutely rubbish on the swatch there. It is called "dawn 1" and it is sort of a nude shimmer rather than a super pigmented colour so I really like it and think it will be great in the summer. The shine lip colour is still really glossy which I love and is a red/brown - the shade is called "tina" and this is my new favourite night out lippie as it really compliments the green eye shadows that I seem to favour.
Does anyone else wear Stila products? What are your favourite pieces?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Things what I don't understand about blogs / the internet

So this was supposed to be a kind of celebratory 1 year bloggiversary type post (not sure I have spelled that right, then again I am not sure that it is even a real word) but I decided instead to use this entry to demonstrate my total uselessness when it comes to blogspot and the world wide web on the whole. I have divided the post into a series of numbered questions (be warned there may be quite a few) so if anyone feels that they can answer just one of them for me, then that'd be a great help.

1. WTF is the point of tumblr?
This is one I have been thinking about quite a bit lately. I used to think it was a photo sharing blog type site for people who are too lazy to write words. Then I read some of my friend Tony's tumblr posts and they are amazing, super well written and cover a huge variety of subjects. Obviously it helps that he is a great writer but I have found a few since then that read like blogs. I made a tumblr last week when I was off work ill and I would describe mine as a place where I write very little, but share A LOT of random shite. What do you guys use yours for?

2. How do I use bloglovin?
This seems like something I should know, but I really don't understand it. I get the whole blogspot/google friend connect relationship. You follow blogs, they update in your reading list or on your sidebar or whatever but then I see this bloglovin thing. I don't know why anyone needs it or how I ought to use it on my blog. I follow a few people through it, but only usually because I have accidentally clicked on "follow through bloglovin" rather than the regular "follow" link. Do you use bloglovin? Why / why not?

3. How do people make cute little photo montages for their blog?
I personally use fotoflexer as it seems to be the easiest way since I don't have photoshop. As someone who takes a lot of photos I would really like a more efficient way of making little compilations. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of fotoflexer (if you haven't used it before, give it a shot now) and as a free tool it is bloody brilliant, but sometimes it doesn't do quite what I want and it sticks and things don't load very fast. I have also recently got into Polyvore, to make collages of things but obviously that is no good for photos you have taken yourself. What do you use for photo tasks for your blog?

4. What does RSS stand for?
I am guessing I will never need to officially know this as I have nothing very technical going on but in my head I have made up that it stands for "Really Simple Script" which I am sure is wrong (I realise now I could just google it but it'd be nicer to get feedback from you folk). Also - why would anyone need it? It just makes stuff look a bit shit.

5. How do I get little buttons to fit in my sidebars?
When I started my blog I spent a long time over at Shabby Blogs choosing just how I wanted it to look and getting it all to fit together in a way that I knew I would be happy with for a long time. I am not a naturally arty or internet-y person so I knew I wouldn't want to do a lot to my blog and over the last year I haven't really wanted to alter anything. I am happy with how it looks and feel it is easy to navigate. There are however a number of tweeks I would like to make that I find insurmountable at the moment. When I want to add little things (such as a little photo and a button from somewhere) I cannot make them fit and they overspill the lines around the body of my text. This is annoying and I cannot fix it so I have given up on having those additions. Also - my follow me links are all there, in a little line but I can't get cute symbols for them. How can I do this?

6. What is all this "prove you are not a robot" shite?
Why is it when I comment on some blogs I get to just type and publish, but on others I have to type in a ridiculous word/phrase (no kidding I had to type "pie face" earlier this week) before my comment will publish? Is there an option for this and does my blog have it? Also, given how sophisticated some "robots" and comp programmes actually are, why can't people just make one that can pass them tests anyway?

7. Why would anyone need tweetdeck or tweetbot?
I am not 100% sure what these tools do and to me they are just mad words with "tweet" stuck at the beginning but I don't see why people would need them. I understand tweetbot helps you do things on twitter a bit faster right? Well if you tweet so much that broadband and your own fingers aren't quick enough then I think you have some social issues and probably need to talk to some people who don't have the word "bot" in their name. I mean no offence by this or anything but sometimes I do worry that the internet may have destroyed the art of real conversation. Does anyone use these tools and can you convince me otherwise?

Ummmm so I think that covers all of the things I have been thinking about of late. Other than that I was wondering about maybe altering the design of my blog, but the fact of the matter remains I really like it how it is - what do you guys think?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Obligatory Valentine Summary

I realise you are all probably a bit sick of Valentines posts now, all gushing and full of hearts and flowers. But it wouldn't be right for me to let it go by without even a mention would it? Especially not since Dave has managed to surpass all my expectations this year for the first time ever!!! We were down at my parents for the day itself, but we opened our pressies on the spare bed and I think Dave was really chuffed with his 2 little books about Bulgaria I got him. I think he thinks he is almost fluent having used the phrase book for the last 2 days! I also got him a box by Bright Side which says on it "keepy letters and cards and things". He has old kinds and other mementos all over the house so I thought it would be nice if he had a proper place to keep them all together. I also got him a card from Lazy Oaf saying "it's this or internet dating" because we usually get each other a silly and/or insulting card. I was therefore a little shocked that he got me this cute one with a fondant fancy on it! He didn't even write anything daft in it either. 

Then, onto my gift because this is where Dave has outdone himself. Usually he buys me something I didn't really want, and a mug. Or just a mug even though I do not really drink hot drinks ever. This year he had read this little blog and found my January desires post that I did on Polyvore and got me a Tatty Devine necklace!!! When I opened the bag and saw the box I was absolutely thrilled. And he got me some cute little gold bird dangly earrings to go with it!! I felt genuinely touched as Dave is not really the thoughtful kind usually. 

So yeah I was really over the moon with that. Then after a morning of pampering my aunt Sue came round with a fab new nail varnish she had bought me. I hadn't even seen these before so I was super chuffed with how good it is. It is a Boots Magnetized Nail Polish in a silver colour. As you can see from my thumb it has this sort of cool wavy pattern on it.

You basically paint your nail as normal and then hover over the nail with the magnet that is built into the lid and these wave patterns just appear! It is like one of those mermaid dolls where you dunk it in the water and a pattern appears on the tail. Then we spent Valentines night shivering at the Ricoh arena watching Coventry City beat Leeds United.

As you can see from above this is my Instagram of the outside of the arena and even better - the second photo is of the winning goal - if you look closely you can see the ball going over the line!!! I am getting really into the football since Pip's boyfriend moved in. I am now simultaneously supporting Coventry and Brighton & Hove Albion as that is Rich's side. Before we left my parents we went for a curry at our favourite indian restaurant, Akbars, which was really nice as they still had all their Valentines decorations up.

Another great surprise over the few days that I was in Coventry was that I got a job interview for a small promotion where I work. It is actually an interview and an assessment  which I am a bit nervous about as I hadn't expected it but I am excited at the prospect of a new job all the same. The interview is next wednesday so I will let you know how it goes. If anyone has any tips for me then that would be greatly appreciated. I also got a present today off a lady at work who runs one of our evening programmes who I barely even know. I had been looking for a thick silver belcher chain for ages when I saw her wearing one a while ago. I asked her where she had got it from and she told me she had 2 and I could have the other. I had sort of forgotten about it as I don't see her that often and she hadn't mentioned it again til today when she presented me with it - isn't it a beauty?

And how kind is that? She wouldn't accept any payment for it so I have asked some of her friends to tell me what I could buy her as a thank you for it - I am so chuffed. A nice free gift always feels better than something you have bought, especially when it is as unexpected as this - don't you think?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Topshop make-up haul

I seem to be doing a fair few reviews lately and can only really attribute that to the fact that the more blogs I read, the more stuff I want to buy and the more I buy then the more I want to appreciate my new items. Writing a review of things I think is a really great way to do that so I am going to try to do a review of all the nice new things I get as I get them. I read a few reviews of the Topshop make-up range over the last couple of weeks and decided I wanted to pick up a few pieces, especially the liquid eyeliner as I am not very good with it normally and someone commented how easily it goes on. I am also a fan of the very simple and clean design of the packaging and although not a reason in itself, it was a swing towards this make-up. I had a bit of money in my paypal so I had a little peruse of ebay to see if anyone was selling any pieces, particularly a liquid eyeliner, and I came across this package for the bargain price of £15:-

Liquid liner, nail varnish, mascara, eyeshadow and crayon
As all these items were brand new and sealed, it seemed like such a great bargain for £15 that I couldn't possibly pass it up. And here are some fairly poor swatches that I did at work of all places!

eyeshadow, crayon, liner and mascara
And a slightly blurry photo of one nail painted
Firstly I have to say that the review I read was correct and the liquid liner is super easy to apply. I haven't worn it yet as I would only have it on for a night out and I haven't had or got one planned for ages and ages! The colour is called "rook" which is black basically and I think I am in love with it. I am also pleasantly surprised with all the other colours too as the ad was a bit vague about what shades I would get. The nail varnish is a lovely dark grey and I love it - it is called "utilitarian" (which incidentally is also one of my favourite principles of ethics!). The eyeshadow is called "dirty martini" and this is a glimmer dark grey with just a hint of green so right up my street. The mascara is called "bitter choc" and is a really lovely choclate brown colour. Unfortunately as my eyelashes are so so black this is kind of wasted on me and just looks like any other black mascara from my collection, but again the quality is great. Then onto the only item I am not entirely sure about which is the crayon, this again is a brown colour in the shade "tarnish". This is a nice brown with a shine to it but I think my main problem is, what does one use such a crayon for? It says on the web it is for shading, lining and defining. The thing is, it is sort of too fat to be a liner (in my opinion) and it doesn't blend too well to be a shade as such so I am unsure really what to do with it - any bloggers got any tips for me?

another look at all 5 products, with shades displayed
Also I have been getting really into make-up lately and experimenting a lot more, which I guess is a good thing but not so good for my bank balance (an unfortunate side effect of reading lots of lovely blogs I think) and was wondering if anyone knows if any of the monthly beauty boxes such as Glossybox or Feel Unique contain only make-up items? I would love to sign up to such a box you see, but I have fairly sensitive skin and fussy hair so most of the items would not be appropriate and I would prefer one where you just got make-up items. If such a thing exists please can someone point me in the right direction? Thanks a lot.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Lomography Update

 Been meaning to do this post for over a week as I had four rolls of film developed that I wanted to share with you. They weren't particularly special ones but I hadn't had any developed for ages and was a bit scared I was losing interest in Lomo to be honest. However, I have done a couple of articles this week and got a few photo project type things coming up so I think I am right back on with it now. Anyway, as I said these are not the most amazing photos ever but there are a few from my Zenit E which I hadn't used for ages as I thought I was doing it wrong. Turns out I wasn't and these are 2 shots from a tiny roll that came out ok with it.

View from my front doorstep in some very very bright sunshine
Trying to practice focussing close up with the Zenit-E
Then there was the second roll on my La Sardina Quadrat. I have since sold this on ebay as I felt the flash was a bit too fiddly and temperamental. I have now purchased a flashless model and am excited to get using it after seeing these 2 shots from the old model, both longer exposures on bulb mode, the first in dim pub light of about 2.5 seconds and the second on the dashboard of a moving car (I wasn't driving at the time) for about 8-9 seconds when I accidentally let go.

Love this shot of an old battered sofa in a Bradford pub

And I love the electric feel of this shot, even if it is a bit wibbly

Then I got 2 rolls developed from my precious LC-A+ White Japan ed. which covered the 2 Lomography events I have attended recently. The shots weren't particularly life-changing but then I am not a photographer and only really shoot for fun. They are more memories of these days for me rather than works of art. Here they are:-

picture of my friend "Fed Tony" who will hopefully be giving me rangefinder lessons later this year

Picture of the nautical themed decor in the Birmingham Selfridges store

My friend Louise's ace Dr Marten's taken with the coloursplash flash - love the colours on this

Love the angle on this photo and how the view of the wheel is a bit obscured.
So anyway, here is my most recent Lomography update and I hope to have more photos to show you this week as I have some in the shop at the moment being developed.  I am excited to get them back actually as it contains one roll from my cosmic symbol which I haven't used before! What cameras do you guys shoot with and which are your favourites?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Shopping day of fun!

When Dave finally got his tax rebate the other day, we did have a little bit of a shopping splurge. As sad as it it might be, the first place I wanted to hit was Asda. I love George clothing! Literally can't get enough of it. I just think it washes so well and is such a reasonable price. I guess it isn't the most fashionable of places but I am not exactly a hipster so I couldn't care less. I just want affordable pretty patterns. These are the items I let Dave buy me as he owed me quite a bit of money.

3 tops, a sweater style night dress so perfect for schlomping, some animal print pumps and green jeans
I am happy with all my purchase from Asda, so happy in fact I have just had a look on their website and my my there are about another 40 items I want!!! If I finally get my pay rise (that has been owed since last April) next week I may have to order a few more bits and pieces! We also took a trip to town as Dave wanted to get some smarter shoes. I picked up a couple of bits there too.

a bag, nail varnish and necklace from Topshop

a little sample of the nail varnish

some chocolate to go with the scarf I got Rosie for her birthday

some cards from Paperchase as I have a few birthdays coming up soon

a ridiculous plaited scarf and some gorgeous scented H and M shower gel

I am so happy with the bag from Topshop. It is meant to be a make-up bag and is made of a gorgeous faux-leather coral colour material. I have been after a bag for ages that I can keep in my huge handbag that I can put a camera, a flash and a bit of film in so it is not just rattling around all the time in the bottom somewhere. The nail varnish is called "frosty" and it is one of the crackle ones. I only have 3 but this is definitely my favourite of them all. The shower gel from H and M was £1.99 and is one of the nicest bath products I have ever smelled. It smells a bit like watermelon flavour sweets! And the scarf is kind of daft but I always wanted one of those pom-pom ones from Monsoon but always seem to miss them. When i saw this was on sale for £5 I had to have it. Not entirely sure when I will wear it but I am sure I will think of something!
 Haven't done too much yet this weekend, went to the cinema last night to see Chronicle. I really really enjoyed it even though it was a bit different to how I expected. I actually found it rather sad, which would not normally be the case with superhero type movies. Then today I needed to take some photos of a couple of bars in Meanwood for a CitySlicker article over on lomo so I enlisted Dave's help and we visited East of Arcadia where we shared a ploughmans which looked like this:-

pinched from Dave's instagram
Then we headed up to Alfred which is a version of North Bar that I absolutely adore but often don't visit as you can't get a table on an evening as it is tiny. It plays great music and does lovely beers (today I had a strawberry one) and you can play games at your table. The decor is also fab and the wallpaper in the ladies loo looks like this:-

I want this wall paper in my bathroom!
Then I thought I was coming to relax and spend the evening reading mags and having a bath and writing but alas no, I was on the volunteering rota and there was a job in at Pudsey Police Station for me at 6pm. Bye bye evening. I have now settled down with Pip for some food but will have to go out again in an hour to get Dave from work. Ah well - the best laid plans and all that. Anyone else doing anything fun this weekend?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Upcoming fun things!

I sat down last night and had a little think about all the things in life I am excited about right now. I have so much cool stuff coming up over the next few weeks/months that I have decided to dedicate this whole entry to it and post a few things in the way of photos I have pinched (mostly off google images) although I wanted to do them in date order but I am still poorly and can't be bothered so here they are all higgeldy piggledy.

going to see Joan Baez in concert on 4.3.12 - she is one of my folk heroes!

due to Dave getting a tax rebate this week, Bulgaria is now all booked and paid for

our mystery caravan holiday has also been sent off for - will post details when I have it but it should be somewhere like this

got my parents CCFC tickets for the Leeds match next week. I love football and cannot wait to get all rowdy. Plus Dave has never been before, don't think he has even seen a stadium!

Finally got my bike sorted through cycle to work so I am collecting it on 27.02.12  - so excited to get started

a super exciting top secret thing is happening which I just found out about yesterday. Kind of pointless putting this in as I can't mention any details yet.

Leeds zombie film fest is on 22.04.12 and I am really looking forward to it after going to my first one last year

Seeing my friend Esther for the first time in ages on 21.02.12 and I literally cannot wait. She is without a doubt the funniest person I have ever met

after a boring and quiet weekend this week, we are joining friends in Bradford for a zombie movie marathon next weekend and to go out for a curry, can't wait for this, bloody love zombies and this is me looking mean dressed as one at zombie prom 2011

It looks nice when you list it all down like this so you can get really stoked about it all!! Has anyone else got stuff they are super looking forward to this year?