Thursday, 31 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 30/01/2013

Today's picture is not just a picture. It's an education. A life lesson that you'll do well to learn. The lesson is thus: 


You see where the mistake could come from, no? NO? Oh, OK. Well, a lesser human *cough* could be silly enough to think that the film on the right, Django Unchained, is a sequel to the film on the left, Rango. Like the little lizard dude breaking free and causing havoc or something. You know the sort of second class animated sequel I mean. I digress. Said human could be silly enough to agree to going to see Django Unchained, only realising afterwards that Django Unchained is in fact a westerny, gory, slavery based, 18 rated production.  No lizards, and certainly no Johnny Depp.

Yes, yes. Said human was me. I ended up going to see Django Unchained and actually really enjoyed it, which surprised me because I'm not usually a fan of westerns, but it was such a perfect balance between humour and seriousness.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Photo of the day: 26/01/2013

I've made a return to crafting recently, specifically making personalised greetings cards for friends. This one below, although not very well photographed, was a birthday card for my film-maker friend Steve. The clapper board is made from black felt, overlayed with white felt for the clapper bar, and embroidered with silver embroidery thread.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 27/01/2013

Yesterday I attempted the "crackle" effect nail art that is so en-vogue right now, but the results were disappointing. I used Avon mosaic effects top coat in black, layered over another Avon nail varnish in "Real red". The effect worked well for my thumb, but for every other finger, the cracking was minimal, leaving a pool of black over the red. Halloween it is not, so the whole effect looks somewhat amateur, a disappointing result for a product I was so looking forward to using!

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 26/01/2013

This beautiful necklace is a Murano Glass piece, from the island of Murano in Venice. It was bought for me by a friend who visited Venice recently, and I love it! The colours are perfect for bringing a bit of spring into my life right now, and it's amazing how intricate the design is!

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

My Weekly Wishlist 26/01/2013

My latest shopping trip has left me with a short but expensive wishlist. Top of the list is the candy pink jumper with built-in Peter Pan collar from Topshop. Cute on it's own but OH-SO-PERFECT with the white lace dress, also from Topshop, creating a perfect summery office outfit. Although a bit summery for the current weather, the dress is a versatile little number, and the layering look when the jumper was added made it bang on trend. It could also be worn with a cardigan, blazer, leather jacket....

My other Topshop fave was the "Raver" jumper - so many colours, I was instantly drawn to it. 

I also fell a little in love with the cute bucket necklace from Accessorize. I have a habit of collecting necklaces featuring mundane household objects, and think this bucket would go perfectly with my already existing collection of a chair, a bicycle and a sewing machine.


Photo of the Day: 25/01/2013

As yesterday was my last day in the Bliss Magazine office, I thought it only fair that my Photo of the Day reflected this:

Full write-up of my placement coming soon, when I've had a chance to breathe!

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 24/01/2013

The more eager-eyed amongst you may recognise this little guy from my first ever Photo of the Day (a whole week ago!) We've been looking after him again this week whilst his owners were away, so my evenings have mainly been filled with trying to wear him out! 
Have you ever tried to take a photo of a 10 week old puppy who won't sit still? Not an easy task!

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 23/01/2013

Yep, sorry kids, more snow pictures. This one's taken from Mount Ephraim looking down over Tunbridge Wells town centre.

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Red Carpet fashion round-up: NTAs

I'm not usually a fan of red carpet fashion, but working at Bliss magazine must have rubbed off on me, as I've just spent a good couple of hours checking out the red carpet frocks from last nights NTAs!

Looks I'm loving

I'm not sure it's what I'd choose for a red carpet appearance (a girl can dream), but as a lover of all things sixties, I love Samia Ghadie's block colour bodycon in yellow and pink.

Michelle Heaton oozed classic red carpet glamour in her sequin drenched floor length gown, and managed to stay just on the right side of the disco-ball look.

Jennie McAlpine seemed to channelling Adele with her large hair and classic lace dress, and it paid off!

Laura Whitmore made a brave choice in yellow but I think it paid off, as the dress she chose made her legs go on FOR.EV.ER. Loving the gold accessories too!

But one of my favourite outfits of the night was Ashleigh Butler's black and white paisley print number, which she accessorized perfectly elegant look. Of course, the fluffy accessory going by the name of Pudsey helped too.

I am loving Caroline Flack's new hair-do - she's looking like she's taken a leaf out of Kate Middleton's style book. Apparently the 'do was so new that she managed to sneak past most of the press undetected on the NTA red carpet!

Honorary mentions

Normally I'm a massive fan of Ella Henderson's fashion choices - for her age, it's impressive that she's got her style so sussed already- but I'm not so sure about last night's choice. I think it's a lovely dress, but with her impressive height, she could have worn something a little more figure-flattering. However, fairplay to her for sticking to the high street end of the budget spectrum (Heat Magazine identified her dress as £95 from ASOS) and not letting her newly found fame and fortune get to her head.

Ariel Winter covers Taylor Swift song

I'm not normally a massive fan of music covers - particularly when the original singer did such a good job of the song, but coming across this cover, I had to share it.

Originally sung by Taylor Swift (who I am a fan of, however uncool that may be), Ariel Winter -she of Modern Family fame - has done a fab job of covering it. And only 15 years old too! 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 22/01/2013

So, here's yesterday's photo of the day: Il Vesuvio, a cute little Italian restaurant on Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells. I went there for a meal after work last night - it was dark and snowing at the time, so I had to go back today to get the picture. Sorry for the bad quality - it was a click and dash moment. I'm still nervous about taking photos of shops and restaurants since an incident outside a crazy little Italian in York.

I haven't had time to do a full review, so I'll just say this: the outside doesn't do justice for what's on the inside - a cosy little restaurant with a family feel. The walls are painted with Italian images, including a window view of the eponymous volcano. The food was delicious (we only had mains, although the desserts were tempting) and very reasonably priced.

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Photo of the Day: 21/01/2013

Hmmm, not much to look at is it? This was my working wardrobe for my first day at Bliss Magazine today. I was pre-warned that the dress code was "very casual" but wanted to look the part so went for black long sleeved t-shirt with black blazer, brown and black tweed pattern skirt - not as short as this camera angle makes it look - black tights and chelsea boots.

For yesterday's photo of the day, click here.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Photo of the day: 20/01/2013

Ok, so this one's cheating a bit. It's not strictly a photo, but a screengrab showing a few of the many, many train issues yesterday, thanks to the snow.

What you should have been seeing was a photo of myself and some of my friends enjoying ourselves in London - shopping, perhaps, or having a meal.

However, I decided not to go in the end, for fear that I wouldn't be able to make it home again. Although I'm gutted I didn't get to see my friends, I think I made the right choice - it started snowing around 7.30am, and didn't stop all day.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Photo of the day: 19/01/2013

Yesterday was a bit of a white out. Although it didn't snow again, the previous day's snow remained, a slushy mess ruining my view, and the thunderous grey clouds overhead threatened to spill their icy load all day.

Fortunately for me, my plans involved little in the outside world anyway. I spent the day reading old copies of Bliss magazine.  Not because I'm rediscovering my teenage self (she's buried somewhere in a pile of Octopus trousers and OC boxsets), but because I'm starting a work experience placement at Bliss magazine next week. What's not to like about spending a day reading magazines and being able to call it research?

Even though I'm not strictly within the target demographic of the magazine, I am a massive fan of two of their recent cover stars, Taylor Swift (OK, more her first album than her recent music) and Ella Henderson. As soon as Ella was voted off of the X-Factor, I had a feeling that she'd be appearing in Bliss, and I was hoping that they'd schedule her in for the week I was in the office and I'd get to meet her. Sadly, those clever people at Bliss are several steps ahead of me, and she appeared on the January 2013 cover.

Naturally, the reading was accompanied by several cups of hot chocolate to counteract the wintery day. Note the camper van mug - perfect for a mental escape from this weather, allowing me to dream about touring Italy in my very own VW Camper. I'm also hooked on the Camomile, Honey and Vanilla teabags - a recent discovery of mine!

For yesterday's #PhotoOfTheDay, click here.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Photo of the day: 18/01/2013

Like most people, my yesterday consisted largely of a white out. As I said, I'm not really a fan of the snow this year - it's more of a hassle than a joy. Fortunately, I'm working from home at the moment, so I didn't need to venture to far out of my front door. The downside to this is that when everyone else is tweeting about being sent home from work on "snow day" (seriously? I thought that was a school thing that you left behind at the age of 16), you have no excuse to abandon ship.

This picture therefore sums up my day nicely; the view which I spent hours looking over at (with my computer screen in the corner, y'know, just to prove I was working...)

Highlight of the day was seeing the postmen arrive, not on their bicycles as usual, but in a Royal Mail minibus. I didn't even know such things existed, but it amused me to see them pile out of the van in their fluorescent orange jackets, collect their post bags, and disperse in ten different directions to get on with their work. Fairplay to them for getting on with it while the rest of the country ground to a pathetic halt.

For yesterday's #PhotoOfTheDay, click here.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow, snow go away.

Chances are, if you're reading this from anywhere in the UK, you're surrounded by a white world, as the promised snow lays its promised blanket over our green and pleasant  grey and muddy land.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the snow this year. Three years living in York is enough to put a girl off snow for life, so I've done my usual travel junkie thing of researching warmer climes and dream destinations, and I have to say, I came across an absolute gem. If you're also a bit fed up of Mother Nature's chilly side, take a look at these snaps to warm your cockles (and possibly burn your retinas).

Image courtesy of:
All credit to JDV Hotels. No copyright infringement intended

This is an exterior shot of The Saguaro Palm Springs Hotel in Palm Springs. For someone like me, who is drawn to colour like Jordan is drawn to ill-fated marriages, it looks idyllic. Couple that with the beaming sunshine, a stark comparison to the current view from my window, and it's only my lack of funds which has rendered me to blogging about it instead of hopping on a plane right now (that, and the fact that most London air traffic seems to be grounded indefinitely at the moment).

Image courtesy of:
All credit to JDV Hotels. No copyright infringement intended
Even the rooms are decorated in as many colours as possible. For some people, this is probably a nightmare come true. For me, it's heaven. Needless to say my Pinterest button took quite a hammering today.

Image courtesy of:
All credit to JDV Hotels. No copyright infringement intended
The hotel chain, Joie de Vivre, translates literally as "Joy for life". I can see why- I'd be happy to be alive if I found myself waking up here!

Photo of the day: 17/01/2013

 I've made the (vaguely) executive decision to introduce a new feature to this blog, the imaginatively named "Photo of the day". It'll basically be a picture, every day (didn't see that one coming, did you?) which sums up my day. The "every day" part is perhaps optimistic, but I'll post as often as I can in the hope that it will encourage me to blog more. I'm also hoping that it'll help me to hone my disappointingly average photography skills.

So, here goes. Photo of the day #1:

This little guy is Dylan, a ten week old lurcher puppy. He was found abandoned in a cardboard box by a busy road with his four siblings, so Jackie and Clare took him in and gave him a home. We're looking after him next week while they're away, but he came round for the day yesterday so that they could get some work done. He's adorable! The majority of my yesterday consisted of ensuring he wasn't eating the wrong things (chair legs, ironing boards, laptop cables, my elbow...) and playing with him. He completely wore me out!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Thrift shop buzz #3

So a combination of January wardrobe blues and a lack of dinero has seen me reverting back to my old stomping ground recently- the charity shops. I wasn't after anything in particular - I usually find I come across more bargains when shopping with an open mind rather than a ready made shopping list. Happily though, I stumbled across a few items to liven up the wardrobe.

First purchase was this orange silk-esque top. Pretty basic, but something to add a bit of colour to the winter  drudgery. Perfect for wearing casually with jeans (add heels and a blazer to take it up a notch) or smart enough to rock as office wear. I got it for a bargain £2.99, and it's originally from George @ Asda. 

A close up of the ruffly neckline:

 Next up was this charcoal grey jumper. Admittedly it does nothing to bring colour to my life, but it's warm and cosy. I added the white top for warmth  in these bitter climes (although will be searching for one with a lower neckline to wear with it), but it can just as easily be worn without the layers. Again, it can be worn smart or casual, but colourful accessorising is a must! A bargain at £3.

My last recent purchase was this slightly more wild dressy top. This picture doesn't quite do the colour justice- it's more of a Dairy Milk purchase in real life. I wasn't sure about the silver detail -it's a little too far into Jane Norman territory for my liking - but have worn it already. Skinny jeans + black heels + black blazer + this top = perfect outfit for a meal with friends.

By some catastrophic omission on my part, I never blogged about these beauties; I picked them up in a charity shop in Camden over the summer en-route to work one particularly sunny day for £6.95. Sadly, the sun went in soon afterwards and has yet to return, so they haven't been worn yet, but I'm hoping they'll get some air time this coming summer.

Check out my past bargains:

Thrift shop buzz #2
Thrift shop buzz #1

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Company Magazine's Blogger Forum 2013

"How did people live before the hashtag? #how" - @gemfatale

Walking down the achingly hip Shoreditch High Street, in the vicinity of the fashion haven that is Brick Lane, I began to get nervous. Heading to the Company Magazine Blogger Forum is, for a jeans and hoodie loving girl like me, akin to walking into a lion's den - and that is something I'd already survived once, literally  so the odds for making it out alive a second time were not looking good. All sorts of Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty type scenarios were racing through my head, and as I walked in my heart sunk further- everyone else, immaculately dressed (I've never seen so many awesome coats and hats in the same room), had come in twos or threes. I was alone. Luckily, @lizziegrif was also flying solo, so we buddied up and got on with the mingling together. As it turned out, everyone was lovely and friendly anyway, so there was nothing to worry about.

So it was that I found myself sitting in a mini lecture theatre with seven painstakingly stylish women from across the globe, from Texas to Finland, ready to spill the beans of their blogging wisdom. It was only then that I realised how privileged I was to be among the lucky 70 or so guests who got tickets; whilst I was there, three people tweeted me saying they wished they were there, and the live Twitter screen being projected onto the screen behind the panelists showed many more people on the Twittersphere all wishing they could have attended (to catch up on the live tweeting of the event, use #companybloggerforum).

The panelists were:

@Alexxsia |  @gemfatale | @venzedits | @parkncube | @wishwishwish | @5inchandup

led by CompanyEditor Victoria White (@companyedvic).

Victoria began by explaining that when Company was rebranded last year, they chose to embrace bloggers, rather than fighting them, as many other major fashion publications seem to be doing. Then the questions began; how to start a blog? Why to start a blog? Opinions were divided on some topics, such as whether to allow anonymous comments on your blog, but the biggest consensus of the night came as a result of @parkncube's suggestion that comments on blogs were decreasing. All of the other bloggers agreed unanimously that people are turning to other networks, such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to interact with bloggers and audiences, and that output on these platforms is therefore just as important for a blogger as producing content on the blog.

Top five tips I took away from the event:
  • Write a business plan for your blog. It will give it focus- @venzedits. This doesn't mean a five-year financial plan, but rather a plan for how you want your plan to progress. @Venzedits gave the example of her blog; TableTop Tuesday focuses on design, whereas SaleSaleSale Friday focuses on the shopping element - a great way to get around that age old dilemma of wanting to write a blog post but lacking inspiration, and certainly something I'm considering taking up to give this blog more structure.
  • Establish how honest you want to be from the start - @5inchandup. This one was in regards to product reviews. One of the most interesting debates of the night was centred around how honest you should be when reviewing products on your blog. The general consensus among the panel was that people come to blogs for honesty- if they want positivity and perfection, they can find it in glossy magazines who are far more restricted on what they can and cannot say. Superblogger Suzie Bubble was cited as a good example of someone who is always honest in her opinions, but carries it off with admirable tact. @wishwishwish said "I find my readers love honesty and write in and thank me for being honest", with @gemfatale commenting "The beauty bloggers who do really well are the ones people know they can go to and the product will be good". In short, honesty is important as long as it is constructive. I think it's obvious from some of my previous reviews that I'm a no holds barred kinda girl.
  • You need a USP to be taken seriously- @companyedvic. "Think about what's going to make it stand out, not just 'here's a picture of me in an outfit'"  This came about when a member of the audience suggested that the blog market will become saturated in the next few years and asked how it is possible to stand out. I agree entirely that it's becoming harder to stand out - the world, his missus and their pet hamster seem to have a blog these days - yet a USP is something I lack and something that I will be working on in 2013. I've got an idea or two up my sleeve so watch this space...
  • Work out why you want a blog - @companyedvic.  Initially I wanted a blog as a way to build up a writing portfolio and slide my way into the magazine journalism industry. Two and a half years later, however, I'm hooked, and I have a blog purely to share things that interest me, be that a good book, a great new cafe or a bargain pair of shoes.
  • Once you find your niche, reign it in. Ah. So close yet so far. This is one thing that I haven't yet nailed, and is similar to the USP point above. I blog about anything from travel, to fashion, to food, to books, so a niche is one thing I don't yet have. However, I'm not going to force a niche for the sake of having one - if I find something I like to write about more than anything else, I'll go with it, but until that happens, it'll be random service as normal.
As well as the above, the main thing that I took away from the event* was reassurance. These ladies, deities of the blogosphere, had all been through the same sort of dilemmas that every amateur in that room has faced at some point, and it was reassuring to know that their blogging journey mirrors my own.

All six bloggers agreed that choosing a blog name is a big decision when starting out. Those of you who have been with me from the start might remember the days of "Brilliant, Bonkers and Downright Bizarre" (I cringe just thinking about it!)  The moniker discussion culminated in @gemfatale's advice "Still be you [when choosing a blog name] but bear in mind that there are ways to make you more findable". In hindsight, Scribbling Lau is not the most SEO friendly name I could have given my blog, but that is not why I started out blogging.

A similar issue was raised with the design element of a blog. For anyone who is not technically minded, designing a blog can be a nightmare, but @5inchandup's solution was "Start simple, keep changing, it's something we all do". Again, anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will have seen it go through several transformations, and I'm certainly not finished yet! She then went on to suggest having a second blog, a test blog which is not released to the wider public, but allows you to tinker with settings as much as you please. Interestingly, the other panelists all agreed that this was a brilliant idea and something that they themselves had never thought of, showing that they were learning as much from each other as we were learning from them

Another familiar dilemma was raised by @5inchandup; "Should I say I have a blog?". Before the panel session started, I had this discussion with some of the other attendees- at first, when starting out blogging, it can be hard, embarrassing almost, to admit that you have a blog. It takes a while to get into your groove (sorry Madge!), find your own style and feel comfortable enough with what you're producing to show it to anyone, particularly people you know.

Final comment, courtesy of Company Editor Victoria White: "It's like any form of journalism or writing, you have to do it well".

*I also took away this fabulous goody bag:

I've been to a few similar events at various publications, but this was the best goody bag by far. Contents were: Lee Stafford Root Boost Mousse, St. Moriz instant leg tanning spray, Baptiste dry shampoo, technic Party beauty set, Shatter by OPI nail polish, Elemis tranquil touch body polish, Body Shop strawberry body butter (my fave!!!), Primani sunglasses and case, Next curve control tights, Velvotan self tan applicator mitt. Popchips potato chips, Green and Black's chocolate, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, Kleenex face cloths, and of course the February issue of Company. Not bad for an evening of mingling!

Needless to say I got a few envious looks on the tube on the way home. Thanks, Company!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

My anti-resolutions for 2013

Not being one for celebrating New Year's Eve, I don't believe in making New Year's Resolutions much either. My reasoning is thus; if there's something you want to change in your life, giving up smoking for example, or going to the gym more regularly, why wait until New Year to do it? Say you had the idea in October to drink less alcohol, why wait two months before putting it into practice, by which time you will probably have lost all willpower and momentum? Make the changes you want to make when you want to make them.

Despite this, I do believe that New Year is a perfect time to reflect on where you are, and more importantly, where you want to be.Therefore, instead of making New Year's Resolutions, I have a few aims which I want to achieve in 2013:
  • My first and foremost priority for 2013 is to GET A JOB. Since graduating six months ago, I've been hopping around between internships and short term jobs, which, although enjoyable, has been unsettling and financially straining. So, I am hoping that 2013 will be the year that I can finally land a journalism/writing job, which will allow me to settle down a bit and focus on other aspects of my life.
  • Second on my list is to get a CAR. Obviously this one comes below getting a job on the priorities list as the main thing which prevents me from already owning a car is money, or lack thereof. I'm not aiming for anything flash, just something to get me from A to B without putting me at the  temporal mercy of National Rail, or even worse, the financial mercy of Arriva buses. Frustratingly, I need a job and a steady income before I can get a car, but there are several jobs I have considered applying for but haven't been able to because of my lack of transport. Another Catch 22 situation in which I find myself. 
  • In truth, I could write a whole blog post just on my travel plans for 2013. I say plans, at the moment they are dreams, as once again, finances are holding me back, and the only way to solve that one is by getting a job. I digress. My ultimate dream would be to travel to Venice in 2013- it's always been top of my list of dream destinations, and there's no time like the present. Another trip I would love to make this year would be to Disneyland Paris. I am also hoping to organise my next big trip, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2014, so that will require a lot of planning and saving in 2013.
  • Back on a professional note for a moment, I would love to get some more of my work published in national print press in 2013. One of my highlights of 2012 was seeing my name printed alongside a double page spread in the national magazine Woman's Weekly, as a result of my placement there in August (see published articles tab). As my first piece of work to be printed in a national publication, it was an exciting time, and I'm hoping there's more to come. I have placements lined up at two more national mainstream magazines in January and March, so I'm hoping these will provide more opportunities to get my work published, or at the very least give me the insight and confidence to pitch my work to magazines and newspapers in the near future.
  • It would also be lovely to get experience in other areas. Although features writing is my passion, I have had a few other ideas swirling around my head for a while now, and reading James Corden's autobiography recently has inspired me to get them out on paper and have another go at screenwriting. Watch this space.

I'm hoping that in putting these aims down in writing and out there on ye olde webbe, my motivation will remain with me throughout the year, even if only through fear of being publicly humiliated if I don't achieve these goals.