Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Choosing Your Wedding Favours (& Why You Should Choose Charity Favours!)


Wedding favours can be a really cute and personal addition to the table layouts at your wedding breakfast. There is so much to choose from; from teacup candles and miniature bottles of booze to potted plants, jars of local honey and single-use cameras. I've known some couples to spend a few hundred pounds on their wedding favours, and I think they really say a lot about the bride and the groom as individuals.

My first idea was to look into Yankee Candle Wedding Day votives. I am a complete and utter candle addict and the fact that Yankee Candle had votives specific to wedding day favours seemed to make sense. The problem was that these retail at around £2 per candle and I had 85 guests; that's £170 on wedding favours. Secondly, they don't exactly look great on their own do they? I'd have to find some small glass votive holders or something to sit them in. Once the cost went over £250 I was pretty turned off to the idea.


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Jennifer Maw Hair & Makeup; a Review


I looked at around thirty-eight thousand hair and makeup artists when I was planning my wedding. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it honestly doesn't feel like much of one! I had some pretty amazing quotes, and when I say amazing I mean amazingly ridiculous. One company, who shall remain anonymous but is based in Buckinghamshire, provided me with a quote that almost stunned me to silence. I asked for a quote for hair and minimal makeup for myself and 4 bridesmaids and received a quote of £3,500. THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS. The best bit? That price didn't include VAT.

I was lucky enough to get a personal recommendation from a friend, and that recommendation was to get in contact with Jennifer Maw. Jen provides hair styling and bridal makeup for weddings and other formal events. She is a mobile artist and will travel to your wedding venue to meet you bright and early in the morning. I decided to book a trial with Jennifer to see whether we could achieve what I had in mind.

I quickly realized that I didn't have any perfect ideas in my mind. I spent the morning of the day of the trial fretting over Pinterest to try to find some bridal styles that I liked for both my hair and my makeup. I didn't get very far and instead decided that I would just give Jen a rough idea of what I wanted and see if she could come up with a look that I liked. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Jennifer very quickly and calmly did trial hair and makeup for both myself and my bridesmaid, Lauren. The results were gorgeous. My makeup was very minimal and classic but rather than being 'barely there' I ended up with a a healthy, dewy complexion with a warm pink lip and some classic curls. Below is a photo of the trial hair and makeup which took barely an hour for each of us.


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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Sasha's Pet Sitting Company; a Customer Review


I am not a fan of catteries. I don't like the thought of handing my cat over to somebody who intends to keep it in a small pen, quite often outside in the cold, with little human interaction. I've had a bad personal experience where my cat wasn't fed the cat food that I provided to the cattery. When I returned from my holiday my cat was very poorly and had a bad stomach for days. She was also withdrawn and refused to leave the laundry basket for a few days. I decided that I would rather look for a petsitter so that I could leave my current cat, Teddy, at home in familiar surroundings with all of his toys at paws' reach.

Finding a good petsitter can be a challenge; after all, you are entrusting somebody with keys to your house and full access to all of your things. You're trusting that they lock up properly, and that they don't leave the heating on when they leave. You're also trusting that they will attend as promised rather than dumping a load of food down in the evening so that they can have a lie-in the next day (that's a horror story for another time...). Thankfully, I found Sasha.

Sasha is a full time Veterinary Receptionist based in Reading, Berkshire. She has her own business that offers petsitting services to the local area (and surrounding areas for a small petrol fee). This can include an overnight stay if you'd like, or you can choose to have her visit once or twice a day for £5 per visit to your cat or dog. Sasha also offers dog-walking services along with an 'Animal Ambulance' service for customers who need emergency transportation to a local Vets surgery and don't have their own transport.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dear Olaf Swantee; a Formal EE/Orange Complaint


Ahhh, the joys of the mobile network provider. Remember the good old days where you'd top your phone up using a card down the cornershop on a Friday after school? 10p for a text and you'd have spent your tenner before the weekend was over? Those were good times.

10 years later, life is vastly different. I live a life of perpetual confusion, only broken by the occasional call to customer services to try to establish the outstanding balance on this elusive phone contract that I was conned into taking out in 2014.

You see, I was due an upgrade and I wanted an iPhone and Three had the best offers on. I let Orange know about this in the spirit of honesty and they suggested that I try out a new handset that they had that was "just as good as an iPhone but cheaper". I know what you're thinking. Yes, I fell for it. "Don't worry, you have a cooling off period, if you don't like the handset just phone up and we'll cancel the contract for you provided you return the phone", the 17 year old guy on work experience schmoozed. What they sent me was some sort of Samsung handset and it was rubbish. I took out a new iPhone contract with Three and phoned Orange to cancel my rubbish-phone contract.

"Oh no, you don't have a cooling off period with this handset as you got it on a promotional offer. The terms and conditions clearly state this, Miss Roberts". Let's not go into that part in too much more detail. I'm on Doctors' orders to keep my blood pressure stable and just thinking about that makes me more than a little angry.

I've been paying for this imaginary contract for years now. £17 per month for months and months and months. Yes it's only £17, but that is £17 that I would rather spend on a bottle of wine or two. I'd probably rather spend it on toilet brushes than with EE. The phone is long gone (it broke within 2 months) and the SIM card is nowhere to be found. I've never used the phone. I've never sent one text or one made one phonecall. I don't know what the phone number is and I never will because the CONtract (see what I did there?) doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned. This, however, was my first downfall when I called EE/Orange this morning to understand why they were still trying to collect money from my account 2 months after the contract ended. "PLEASE ENTER YOUR MOBILE PHONE NUMBER FOLLOWED BY THE HASH KEY" screamed Mr Shit Call Handler Robot. "Hmm", I pondered, "I don't have a phone number, I'll just press the hash key". This made Mr Shit Call Handler Robot angry: "WE REQUIRE YOUR PHONE NUMBER, GOODBYE". He hung up on me. The computer hung up on me. I tried this again and waited for it to present some other options. No such luck, it hung up on me again.

I tried phoning sales. Not just sales, but the sales number for NEW customers who would obviously have the biggest call operator assignment with the most eager of sales people. After 30 minutes I got through to a woman who I think was called Justine but could have been called something completely different. Justine was mega helpful. She found my mystery account without needing my phone number (what a middle finger to Mr Shit Call Handler Robot) and informed me that despite the fact I was advised my contract ends in August, I in fact had 2 months outstanding to pay for. Nothing about this surprised me. I wouldn't have been overly shocked if I were told that in order to end the contract I had to win the million on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, sleep with Chris Tarrant and then tweet the photo evidence to the EE Twitter account as proof. I gleefully paid the oustanding balance feeling overwhelmed with joy and calm like a still lake in the moonlight. Whilst I waited for the payment to go through I listened to Tara, the call operator in the background, bitch about the customer she just 'helped'. "Speak to a manager?! No you can't fucking speak to a manager love". I focused on channeling my inner moonlit lake. Justine clearly explained that I would just need to be passed through to the contract termination team who would take my 30 days notice and let me know what I needed to do next. Moonlit lake.

They. Cut. Me. Off.

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Monday, 23 November 2015

The C Bomb is Here; My Advent Calendar Wishlist



It's finally happening. The Grinch's in the office are dying off (fiiiiiiinally!) and I'm slowly Christmas-ifying my house (this largely consists of chucking reindeers, candles and fairy lights on every open surface in the house). Beauty and lifestyle advent calendars are one of my favourite things about the holiday season and in this spirit I decided to take a look at the best and brightest out in the virtual Christmas market this year.


Packed full of little treats, the Benefit Party Poppers calendar is one of the best value for money calendars out there at just over £30 at Debenhams. It includes the every popular They're Real! mascara, bronzers, lip glosses, highlighter, cheek stain and even a little tube of the award winning POREfessional primer.


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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Showcase Cinema De Lux Reading; XPLUS Review


Last night I was very kindly invited to attend the Launch Party for the brand new XPLUS screen at Showcase Cinemas in Reading. I've long been an avid Showcase fan; the cinema is in a great location out of town which is easy to get to. It has a huge car park and it's never hard to find a space, and to be frank it's better value for money than the other cinemas in Reading. That being said, Showcase in Reading had been getting a little tired-looking over the past few years. When I found out the cinema would be having a full refurb and would be converted to a new "De Lux" cinema the movie-addict inside me was thrilled. 

 We arrived an hour early for the film that Showcase and Fox had kindly arranged for us to see, mainly so that we could have a look around the cinema and see what had been improved upon. The answer: everything. The Showcase Cinema De Lux Reading is now an incredible venue. There's a brand new Costa Coffee inside, along with a swanky new Party Room for events and parties for children. They've upgraded the snack stands and have installed a set of those super cool Coca Cola drinks machines that allow you to mix up your own drink (I went for Coca Cola with raspberry syrup!). There are also a load of comfy seats and sofas in the cinema lobby and it feels like a real luxury venue.


Once we had a look around (which included quite an intensely specific look at the champagne table) we were shown into the 7:30pm screening of the new Tom Hanks film; Bridge of Spies. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the screen that I walked into gave me the most amazing and intense cinematic experience I've had in my life.
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Monday, 16 November 2015

Hana Laurie; A Wedding Photography Review


Picture this: you get back from your honeymoon in a whirlwind of euphoria and still eagerly recounting which parts of the wedding day were the best: how hilarious 'dancing grandma' was, and how you spent a good three hours calling to your wedding guests from the dancefloor to top your wine glass up. You sit down to peruse your wedding photos but your photographer seems to have missed dancing grandma. He's also missed the group shots, and a few of the family photos you asked for. The crushing reality: your wedding photographer has cocked up. What can you do? Absolutely nothing.

Every bride I spoke with in the run up to the wedding was having the same panic as me: what if I simply make a bad decision? What if the photos don't come out as I imagined them? It's such a crucial part of the day because it immortalizes the whole event. Your children will look at these photos. Your grandchildren will likely look at these photos! I spent a long time getting myself worked up and I struggled for many months to find a photographer that I was confident in and comfortable with. Until Hana. Let me introduce...

Hana Laurie



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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Ask.FM; Is It Still The Most Irresponsible Social Platform Out There?


Ask.fm describes itself as an "Ask and Answer" service. You've probably heard of Ask.fm and will understand why I won't be linking to the site directly for your reference. Ask.fm has also been at the center of cyber-bullying controversies for the past 2 to 3 years. Ask.fm has been directly linked to the deaths of 15 year old Joshua Unsworth and 14 year old Hannah Smith, who are just two of a handful of children who have ended their lives early with tangible and proven links to Ask.fm.

Ask.fm was never shut down, even pending police enquiry following the deaths. The headquarters and data holding locations were in Latvia, Northern Europe, where controls on misuse of internet services are much more lax and much more difficult to police. It was also widely documented that existing owners and business-leaders of Ask.fm, Mark and Ilja Terebin, were never particularly bothered by the deaths linked to their "Ask and Answer" service. This excrutiating interview, written by Jack Dickey and featured in Time Online, shows the flagrant disregard the brothers have for the safety and wellbeing of the Ask.fm users. FYI; this article will make you angry. One of the questions Jack asked of the site owners, with one of the less offensive answers if you can believe that, goes as follows:

Do you feel responsible for the bullying on the site?

Ilja: It’s like with the police. You can’t put a policeman in each apartment. But you need to install police that people can call whenever they have an issue. This is our responsibility, to have this available for our users, if they have bullying issues, if they see someone else being bullied. They can press a button, and we can punish whoever sent the bad comment or question.

So, what happens to these bullies as a punishment for misusing the site? Ask.fm have been preaching about the influencers they've brought in to the business. These largely comprise of charities and exec investors. Has anything changed? I signed up for an Ask.fm account to see what measures have been put in place since the speight of teenage suicides a few years ago...

The first thing I noticed was this disclaimer for minors.

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Monday, 2 November 2015

Petit Gateau; A Wedding Cake Review


In all honesty, it took a lot of ferocious Googling to find a wedding cake supplier that I liked the look of. I wanted somebody who could create some really special flavours rather than the fruit cake nightmare that is served at some weddings. I also wanted somebody who could create a cake that was absolutely one of a kind.

I contacted Jordana at Petit Gateau in April last year and went to meet with her at her lovely studio in Berkshire to discuss the design and the flavours. Jordana served a selection of flavours that we could taste during the design sessions to help us make a decision, and every single one of them was incredible. We tried some beautiful combinations of cake flavour and filling flavours and I knew immediately that I wanted to book Petit Gateau to provide my wedding cake.



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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Dear Diary


This month has been hard. I haven't really felt like writing. I've gone through the 5 stages of writers block and come out the other side feeling okay about not  writing for a few days or a week. At the moment I'm trying to look forward, toward my honeymoon in December, which feels like ages away but is probably only about 45 days away now. Absolute first world problems, as per usual.

BRB! x
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Monday, 19 October 2015

6 Ways to Rock a Bath


Baths are epic. There is nothing that relaxes me more than a hot bath after a long day. Bath is bae, bath is life. Bath on fleek. Bath game strong. I know a lot of people who physically cannot enjoy a bath, and my theory is that you're just not doing it right.

HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY 'DO A BATH'


  •  Make sure you have a sick collection of bath bubbles and bath crèmes. My favourite is the Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Honey Bath pot with super-fun honey stirrer stick. It smells incredible and it makes amazing bubbles if you use the stirrer stick under the running water. I also love the Dove Indulging Cream Bath because it's very good value for money and leaves your skin feeling mega soft and silky.

 
  • Go and pick out a load of bath bombs. I am a huge advocate of the power of a bath bomb and Lush Cosmetics is the undisputed King of Bath Bombs in the UK. They cost as little as £1.95 each (the Butterbear is amazing) and you can choose from hundreds of different designs that all do different things. Some are designed to help you sleep and include lavender and chamomile like the Ickle Baby Bot pictured below. Others are designed to be fun, such as the cocktail inspired Pink Flamingo bubble bar on a stick, also pictured below. My personal favourite right now is The Experimenter; it's got popping candy in it!


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Pitcher & Piano, Reading Review


So I worked out why Pitcher & Piano in Reading is always SO empty.

On Sunday I approached the bar for 2 singular pints of coke after a long day in London. They charged me £6.40 for 2 pints of coke, NO ICE. £6.40. SIX POUNDS FORTY.

My advice? Pop to Revs next door. It's prettier, and you don't leave feeling like you just got mugged by a guy with a Killswitch Engage tattoo in broad daylight.
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Friday, 9 October 2015

Buying Your Wedding Invites & Placecards; an Optimalprint Review


There are a load of online companies who offer wedding invite printing services. It's a service in huge demand as guestlists get larger and the concept of creating 80 handmade wedding invitations becomes more and more daunting. I looked at a huge variety of printing companies, some of whom had a great variety of designs at very high prices and others who had a limited variety of designs at very cheap prices. I decided to settle in between both of those options with the lovely team at Optimalprint.


Optimalprint offer a whole "Wedding Portfolio" of products that include:
  • Save the Date
  • Wedding Invitations
  • Driving Directions
  • RSVP Cards
  • Order of Service Cards
  • Menu
  • Place Cards
  • Thank You Cards
  • Anniversary Invitations

This is fantastic because it means that you are likely to be able to get all of your wedding stationery printed with one design or pattern which means that the packages you create for people (you may send out your invitations, RSVP cards and driving directions all in one envelope) are consistent in design and look professional.
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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Monday, 5 October 2015

7 Ways to Make Everyone in the Club Hate You


1. Complain about the entry fee: It's Saturday night, town is rammed, and you queued to get in here. Did you seriously not consider that you might have to pay to get in? The guy who gave you the flyer for £1 off entry needs to be paid a wage and guess what; it's coming out of the fiver you hand in at the door.

2. Get your money out of your bra: I don't care whether you showered 3 minutes before handing over your cash- I do not want your tit sweat on my hands. Money is one of the dirtiest things we come into contact with on a daily basis, why are you storing it against your actual skin? Now I think you have chest spots. Now I think your money has touched your zitty titties. Now I hate you.

3. Ask for "the strongest, cheapest drink": What do you even mean? Spirits are strong. Do you want something stronger than spirits? Anything stronger isn't going to be cheap. Am I having a mental breakdown? Do you want this bottle of Dettol from the store cupboard? I'm so confused.

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Moving Out; a Ticklist for Private Accomodation


Moving out of your childhood home, or even out of Uni halls, is a huge step. I remember feeling completely and utterly lost in a million conversations about rent, bills, tax and copious other household cursewords that I'd never had to deal with before. As any seasoned private renter will know, there is a lot more to successfully moving out than simply finding a house or flat and getting that contract in place but it can be a very smooth process if you arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible when you look into moving into private rented accommodation.

HOW TO ADULT...

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Friday, 2 October 2015

How to Find a "Bargain Luxury Holiday"


I love to travel. Any spare bit of money I have usually goes on a holiday or on spending money for a holiday and I am always thinking about my travelling plans for the next 12 months. In the past 2 years I've been to Kenya, Morocco, Turkey, New York, Florida, Frankfurt and I'm off to Thailand in 9 weeks.

I consider myself to be a pretty good bargain hunter when it comes to holidaying, and I'd love to share what I believe is an undiscovered gem of a tool with you all; The British Airways Holiday Finder.

The BA Holiday Finder is essentially a travel search tool that can help you find a getaway that fits perfectly within your budget and within your availability. There are many advantages to using this tool if, like me, it quite often doesn't really matter where you go or even when you go. The tool allows you to specify which month you'd like to travel in, roughly where you want to go and for how long for and will give you a huge list of packages that include flights, a hotel and also a fully inclusive option if you specify that in the search. Let me demonstrate...

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Surviving Freshers Week; a Guide for Non-Freshers


It has descended. Freshers Week (or Fortnight if you live in Reading, Berkshire) is upon us. The streets shall be full of awkward teenagers, cheesy chips and vomit, in that order. My own Freshers Fortnight occurred in September 2008 and I have been in Reading for every Freshers since then. The first three were fun, the two that followed were met with a sort of morbid curiosity on my behalf. Every Freshers Fortnight since has been met with nothing but dread.

There are ways and means to avoid the tidal wave of teenagers dressed as traffic lights and foam party angels or whatever the hell Q Bar is doing tonight. Surviving Freshers Week; Your Guide On Where to Head if You're a Non-Fresher:

 
 
Revolution Reading describes itself as a "Social Paradise" and is barely a few metres away from the train station in the centre of town. Personally, I'd describe Revolution as a wine and cocktail bar with a warm and friendly atmosphere and it's a great place to spend an evening away from the noise. Revs do some great food (I love the Denver Fries with BBQ Pulled Pork for about £7) and they do half price off all food on Mondays. Pick up one of their Privilege Cards and the food is half price on a Wednesday as well. On top of this, there are a whole load of cocktails on 2-4-1 throughout the week and they have some nice craft beers available too. Revs are the King of Cocktail Sharers (try the Big Jug of Love) and the triple distilled flavoured vodka shots are worth a go if you're in the mood...
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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Mark Zuckerberg and his Breeding Ground for Bullies


Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced at a Q&A in California that he would finally be adding a 'Dislike' button to Facebook, alongside the popular 'Like' functionality. Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg renounced the last few shreds of dignity that Facebook had left.

Facebook has become a flurry of vile & violent videos, baby photos and, my personal favourite, amusing Facebook arguments amongst "friends". Usage of Facebook has been steadily declining for a while. Whilst it remains the most popular social networking platform in the world, a study by Forbes suggests that the way in which people use Facebook has changed dramatically towards more of a 'passive browse'. Facebook was the only network that people used less in 2014 with platforms like Instagram seeing an uplift of 47% and Linked In seeing an uplift of 38% usage.

When I was 16 Facebook was the only social networking platform anybody used. Bebo had long died a death and MySpace was slowly being killed off and rebirthed as a music sharing platform. Facebook was where we organised events such as "S14Ns W1cK3d BiRtHd4y P4RtY 2k06" and "Sian is turning 18 omg sooooo old lol lmao come celebrayt with me". It was where we shared photos and sent one another presents for our virtual cats. It was, for the most part, a positive and friendly website. We didn't understand profile security back then but it almost didn't matter as we weren't 'Checking In' or linking our debit cards to app services. It felt safe.


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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa Review


2 weeks ago I decided that it would be a bloody good idea to take my best friend away for her 50th birthday (lol Adele I'm so funny). I also decided that I would quite enjoy a little spa break; present for her, present for me! I was off for a week of annual leave after the wedding so I decided that I'd look for somewhere we could go for the night for a bit of a pamper sesh.

I used http://www.spabreaks.com/ and decided that I would look for a venue in Cardiff, mainly because I grew up there and would have a rough idea of how to get there easily and where to go once we arrived. I settled on the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa; the hotel was in the city centre with a Revs nearby and it had an in-house spa. The deal that Spa Breaks.com offered was amazing; an overnight stay, a 25 minute spa treatment, a 3 course evening meal AND breakfast included the next day. I paid less than £200 for both of us which quite frankly is an amazing deal.

We arrived at the hotel in really good time (straight down the M4 from Reading to Cardiff) and the hotel was really easy to find. It had a carpark on site (which, coincidentally, showed as "Full" but we entered anyway and there were loads of spaces) and elevators straight up to the lobby.

Check-in wasn't as quick as I'd like, however the hotel staff showed us to a seat and we were able to pop our bags down while we waited for the other guests to be processed. I think there was some sort of conference on at the time which I imagine slowed the process. The lady who checked us in was lovely, and even recommended some good bars for us to visit that evening when we asked her what was around.

Our room was plenty big enough for two and was spotlessly clean. I think we ended up with a disabled access double room rather than the twin room I had requested. This didn't bother us immensely as we realised that the toilet had a handy holding-rail next to it which made drunk peeing very much safer when we got back from town. I'm considering installing one at home.
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Monday, 14 September 2015

I'm Married! A Wedding Band Review...


I can officially confirm that I am now...

MRS SIAN HERRINGTON
 
After a week off work and away from the blog, I can sincerely say that our wedding day was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best day of my life. I can't believe how quickly it whizzed by. Lots of people told me that the day would rocket by but I didn't really take that seriously until I was taking my shoes off at the end of the night thinking "Nooooo, it's over?!"
 
I want to take a minute to sincerely thank everybody who came to celebrate with us. It would have been nothing without you all, and we mean that. Whether we've known you for 12 years, 12 months or 12 days, the sheer amount of love we were given on our wedding day really made it memorable for us and we adore you all.
 
(I don't have any Bride & Groom photos yet but my bridesmaids are fit as fuck so please enjoy this in the mean time)

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

10 Things I've Learned About Planning a Wedding

  1. The guestlist will escalate. Rapidly. Now this doesn't mean that you have people there who you don't want there, but inevitably the closer you get to the big day the more you realise that your small wedding is turning into a medium sized wedding. A large one, perhaps. Before you know it, 40 invites turn into 70 guests and in turn the cost will escalate. Be prepared for the increase in guests and work out how much extra you might need to save if every single person you invite is able to come.
  2. You will never achieve the perfect tableplan. Split the guests roughly in half and make sure you mix your own guests with the Groom's guests. After all, this is all about becoming one big family and you want your relatives to meet one another. Remember to consider wheelchair/easy access for certain guests and also take note of any tables near the venue bathroom or service areas to make sure that Grandma isn't having to shuffle her chair around every 5 minutes to avoid a face full of champagne. Although my Grandma would probably bloody love that.
  3. Pinterest is God. Don't know how you want your hair? Pinterest. Don't know what colour scheme you want? Pinterest. Don't know what the hell you want your groomsmen to wear? Pinterest. It's free, it's easy, and it is GOD.
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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Why "Business Dress" Shouldn't Be a Thing in 2015


It's 7:45am and I'm in London. It's pissing it down, my umbrella is broken and my thin black blazer isn't really doing much to keep the rain off me. I've got 4 inch black stilettos on and my laptop is bundled into my coat because the laptop bag I've been given is made from a material similar to sponge, which collects water and retains it for hours upon end. It's like 'The Hunger Games; Laptop Edition' on every adventure into the city and I'd rather be soaked than required to purchase a new laptop, so the laptop gets to wear my coat for the day.

I hurl myself through the door of the customers' office and plan to head straight to the ladies to sort myself out. Oh, what's that? The lady I'm meeting is already in so I'm being escorted up to the office early for breakfast? On any normal day that would be a lovely offer. Today, however, I am close in resemblance to The Joker and I'm pretty sure I have mascara on my lips.

The woman appears in the lobby and gives me that sympathetic "Gosh, I know, the weather is absolutely awful today" speech that is usually reserved for long awkward lift journeys or coffee shop queues. I make it to a hot-desk and begin trying to transform from Business Banshee to Business Bitch using my laptop screen protector as a sort of makeshift mirror. 10 minutes later, I am in a state more similar to a normal human woman and begin to plan my day of meetings.

Looking around I begin to experience that "Shit, I'm overdressed"  feeling that a 17 year old gets when they turn up to their first houseparty in a bodycon dress. The Test & Dev team behind me are wearing hoodies, with jeans. Given the fact that the Test & Dev team have probably been sat there for 24 hours after ordering pizzas to the office last night I don't immediately feel so out of place. The CEO of the company turns up with a Starbucks in his hand, and he's in jeans too. More so than that, he's wearing Converse and he has his dog with him (a big old Boxer named Tiff). The look he gives me is one of utter dismay.

"Why the hell are you wearing a dress and heels? Have you not seen the weather outside?"
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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

What To Do When You Don't Know What You Want To Do in Life


When I was 14 I was asked by my school to start thinking about which "options" I wanted to choose for my GCSEs. Did I want to do History or Geography? Did I want to do IT or Business? Did I want to do something exam based or essay based? What sort of learning appealed to me more? Now let's be honest- which 14 year old girl or boy really has any sort of informed grasp upon what they want to be doing when they're 25 or 35 or 50? I picked my GCSE options mainly based on the teachers that I liked and the subjects that my friends were doing. Because I was 14.

A Levels rolled around and by this time I was 16 and completely and utterly dedicated to my career in ERP Software Sales. NAHHHHHT. I still had no idea, because I was 16 and went to a school that once recommended "Clothing" to me as a career choice. Clothing. Is that a job? I've since been reliably informed that "Clothing" is not a job role. In my free time I was watching Americas Next Top Model and 'MSN-ing' whoever I fancied that day, and in school I was making decisions that affected my entire life. This time around I chose subjects that I thought would most easily get me some top grades, largely based on how naturally I was able to understand the subject and whether the subject was essay based or exam based; I suck at essays but exams are a breeze for me.

Before I knew it, the degree decision rolled around. I knew that I wanted to do a degree because I wanted to move out; I drastically needed to put some space between myself and the 'Little Village Bubble' I had managed to create for myself. I also knew that there were pretty much zero jobs in the deep south of Wales. I decided that I would pick IT and do that in University. Yes, it included a bit of C++ coding and a bit of network configuration bullsh*t here and there but there were also modules on business and entrepreneurship that I liked the look of. I hated University, but I got my degree and the rest is history.
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Friday, 14 August 2015

Laser Tattoo Removal; My Experience


When I was about 20 I decided that I would get a tattoo completely on a whim. I was in Camden on a day out with my sister and I decided that I would walk into a tattoo parlour (dingy horrible little place) and pick a design out of a book. It wasn't my first tattoo and so I didn't have any reservations about the pain or anything, I paid £20 and was out within 15 minutes. It took me about a year to start hating the design and another year to decide that I wanted to actively look at getting it removed.

I came across a lady who worked under the guise of Madame Silver and was based in Oxford, about a 45 minute drive from me. I had heard some great personal reviews from people around Reading and I wanted to talk to somebody who was respected in the industry and took extreme care during the process, rather than simply looking for the cheapest place. Luckily, I chose the perfect person as Jen Silver (Madame Silver) is probably one of the most lovely humans on Earth and managed to calm me so much that I was barely nervous about my first session, which would be a patch test, to check that I had no adverse reactions.

The laser that Jen uses is a YAG Laser. I am not going to attempt to explain the science behind laser tattoo removal but essentially what the laser does is blasts the ink with a pulse of light which creates a shockwave effect. Essentially, the ink particles are broken up into parts small enough for the body to carry away naturally. I had the misconception that the device would be touching my skin and dragging, similar to a tattoo gun. However, the laser is held a few inches away from the tattoo area and a good removal specialist will give you special sexy glasses to wear so that you can watch the process.
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Saturday, 8 August 2015

15 Minute Makeup: August

We've all been in a situation where you need to go from bed to bar in a very short space of time. Maybe I decided that I wasn't going out and then changed my mind last minute. Maybe I decided to nap and the nap turned into a full-blown snooze sesh. I am really good at doing my makeup really bloody quickly because I have such a short attention span when it comes to getting ready. I thought I'd share a really simple and easy look that I've loved ever since I got my Urban Decay NAKED2 Basics Palette...

Everything I used is in this photo. The candle is there for aesthetics only; do not use the candle on your face.

I started off by applying MAC Mineralize concealer under my eyes and on any blemishes. Blend this quickly with your finger by patting rather than rubbing. Then I applied MAC Mineralize Moisture Foundation with SPF 15 evenly to my entire face with a liquid foundation brush. I love liquid foundations with SPF included as I burn so easily, but also because they smell so nice! Next I applied bareMinerals Matte powder (the colour I use is called Fairly Light N10 and it's perfect) on top using a big powder brush. I find that MAC liquid foundations are very dewy and need a loose powder on top but that you can end up looking like you put your face into the bin at the Benefit counter if you layer too much powder over a MAC foundation. The bareMinerals powders are so light and they last forever as well.
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Monday, 3 August 2015

A Polite Notice to Cyclists. You Twats.

As previously documented on Reviews at Random, my journey to and from work across the centre of Reading can be... Interesting. I drive, always. Mostly out of convenience and also because the journey is exactly 5.4 miles long. There aren't buses from my area that go near the office, and I'm not near a train station. It's convenient and it's practical, which is precisely why there are 98 billion other cars slowly rolling through the town centre every morning. It's a short journey right?

You could argue that I could ride a bicycle that distance (with a bit of practice and a lot less wine every evening) and it would probably take me the same amount of time and get me fitter simultaneously. It sounds perfect for somebody trying to get in shape for a wedding. I can understand why people do it.

Unfortunately, I'm never going to do that. Ever. There are loads of reasons but the main factors are as follows: First, I don't own a bike. Second, I cannot ride a bike. Third, I can't turn up for a day in the office all sweaty with my dress and heels screwed up in a bike bag. Last and most poignantly, Reading is a bloody DEATH TRAP for cyclists.
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Friday, 31 July 2015

Why I Want my Dads' Last Cheque to Bounce


The other day I was sat in a coffee shop reading my book and minding my own business. When I got bored of minding my own business I decided to listen in on a conversation that the man and woman on the table next to me were having. They looked to be about 30-ish and the woman had a huge slice of chocolate fudge cake in front of her. She gets brownie points (lol) for that.

The woman was very animated and was angrily discussing the fact that her mother was refusing to pay for her wedding. My ears pricked up instantly. Over the course of the next 10 minutes the woman went on to describe how selfish her mother was being and how upset she was that her parents had never started a 'wedding pot' for her when she was younger.

"I've been with Tony for 4 years now, did they not see this coming?!", she exclaimed. "Every little girl dreams of the perfect wedding, and I just feel that has been completely taken away from me and she's not even sorry about it". I felt myself getting tense. It was almost painful to listen to. 'Is this the norm?' I pondered to myself. 'Is this what we expect from our parents now?'
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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My 5 Year Plan; A Travel Update

A little while ago I posted a blog about the importance of having a 5 Year Plan and how it has helped me over the past few years. This isn't just an ambiguous concept for me; my 5 Year Plan physically exists on an actual bit of paper, and it changes every few months depending on how life goes. My most recent addition to "The Plan" consists entirely of beautiful parts of the world I want to visit...

California: The West Coast Drive

 

Lately I've been really enjoying the thought of hiring a convertible in LA and driving up to San Francisco along the Pacific Highway. It's such a gorgeous part of the world and you can hit up so many amazing places in just a few days; San Luis Obispo, The Big Sur, Monterey (and the worlds best aquarium), Santa Cruz and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I actually did this drive with my family when I was young. I remember sitting in the back of the rental watching a film on my phone like the ungrateful twattish teenager I was. I really missed out and I'm gagging to go back!
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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Conflicting Weather; my Lakeland Wishlist

Last night, when most people were spending their Saturday night out 'in town' with their friends or snuggled up on the sofa with their loved ones, I was having a rather different sort of evening. I was sat on the landing watching the cat murder moths and reading the Lakeland catalogue.

Lakeland is my modern-day vice. I used to long to spend money I didn't have on clothes and shoes and booze; now I yearn over silicon cake moulds and copper ramekins. I pine for vintage jam jars and beechwood chopping boards. My Lakeland wishlist for July is a discernable thrill:

The Stair Tidy Tote.
What an absolutely genius idea. My stairs are forever loaded with things that I'll "take up when I next go up". Of course, by the time I decide to take the stuff upstairs there is more than I can carry and it's been sat there looking messy for 2 days. This stair tidy folds flat for when you're not using it and it has two separate compartments. Genius.



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Monday, 20 July 2015

We Lost Our Dildos in Turkey; a Hen Do Review

I'm back! I can officially now confirm that Turkey, my friends, is incredible. Myself and 6 of my best girls arrived into Dalaman airport on Saturday the 4th of July and headed to our amazing private pimp-bus which took us to Kalkan. Kalkan is on the South coast of Turkey, about a 90 minute drive from Dalaman airport. I think it's fair to say that we had a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the course of the 7 days but I'm already planning our next visit (to celebrate my divorce after I publish these photos, perhaps...)


I thought I'd share some Turkey Tips now that I am an experienced Kalkan survivor. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Gloden; a Tanning Virgin Review

I don't do fake tan. I've never been on a sunbed in my life (and never would) and up until Friday the 3rd of July I had never ever used fake tan. When I was younger I used to use a tinted body moisturiser but it smelled like crap and it was always streaky. As I got older and a little bit more confident I realised that I was quite happy being pale. It suits me, and as a woman working in IT it's pretty much expected of me.

I decided recently that I would emerge from my cave of monitors and have a go at a spray tan. The main reason for this is that brides of all sizes and shapes that I've met have talked about getting a spray tan for their big day and most have looked absolutely lovely. I know a few brides who didn't bother and they also looked gorgeous. I was curious; was it time to loose my tanning virginity? What if I waited until closer to the wedding and didn't like it? Would I have to spend 19 hours scrubbing it off in a blind panic? I decided that now was the time. I was off on holiday for a week to celebrate my hen party with the girls and it doesn't really matter if you're a bit orange when you have your head in a bucket with tequila in your hair.

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Monday, 13 July 2015

CRU Kafe; an Earth Friendly Coffee Review

Am I fanatical about "being green" and keeping our planet healthy? No, I'm not. It is something that I support, obviously. I recycle, my car is always in "Eco Mode" and I never leave the lights on in my house. However, it's not something I worry about on a day to day basis if I am very honest with myself.

Am I fanatical about coffee? Yes, I am. I love coffee. I can't start my day without a large white Americano and I've always got a coffee cup in the car raring to go. I drink 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day. That being said, I'm not particularly fussy. I think that there are a lot of coffee brands that taste better than a Starbucks and cost half the price. I spent a good month hooked on a Tesco Columbian brand and I ain't ashamed to say it. When the lovely Rhys at CRU Kafe reached out to ask me if I'd like to try some of their 100% organic coffee capsules I pretty much jumped at the chance...


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Monday, 6 July 2015

Sun, Sea & Stripes; a Holiday Haul


As you are reading this I will likely be in a private saltwater pool in Kalkan, Turkey, with a glass of wine in my hand. It has finally arrived; #HenParty2k15! In my typical last minute style, my holiday shopping arrived this morning and I thought I would share some photos with you...
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Monday, 29 June 2015

Stress Relief for the Modern Family

Today is my target-eve. Tomorrow is June 30th which means that it is the last day of the financial year and I have roughly 34 hours to close every opportunity that I am working on (and then some) so that I can maximise the amount I'll get paid at the end of July.

On Saturday I will be on a plane to Turkey to celebrate my hen party with my #bestgals2k15. There will be wine consumed by the gallon. I haven't started packing, I don't have my travel VISA or any money sorted. I'm in work all day every day until Friday evening.

In 9 weeks and 6 days I will become Mrs Herrington. I've still got a shit-tonne of things to pay for (chair covers cost £125 to rent- who knew?) and I've still got people pissing on my table plan so I can't quite work out what I've still got to save between now and September to be able to afford everything.

I need to get the license plate on my car replaced because it snapped. There's no milk in the fridge, and my house is a bloody mess. I AM STRESSED.

Stresses take different forms. Sometimes they're first-world stresses (the holiday stressing could fall into this category, I guess) and sometimes they are jarring, crippling stresses. Both are genuine, but I've found a few tricks that can help mediate the stresses in your life and turn them into constructive and motivating bursts of productivity...

  1. Sleep. Sleep is always the first thing that I neglect when I feel like I have too much going on and it's always the easiest thing to rectify. Everything seems much more dramatic the day after a late night. If you feel like you're overwhelmed then get into bed with a good movie and chill the eff out. "Everything will feel better in the morning". It's true.
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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Blloon App Review; Netflix for Books

A few weeks ago I saw an advert on Twitter for an app called 'Blloon'. I very rarely read or even notice these adverts as I scroll through posts looking for the latest and greatest updates from my little Twitter family, but the strapline really stopped me mid-scroll: "All-you-can-read on your iPhone & iPad. Over 700,000 top books for just £7.99 a month".


I decided to have a look at the Blloon website to see what sort of titles they had in their portfolio of books. I expected a few re-worked, old Shakespeare novels along with a whole bunch of unknown and uninteresting authors, much like the Free section of iBooks or the Google Play Book Store. What I found was an astounding collection of beautiful novels written by known authors, a huge number of them being very recent releases. I found books by Matt Haig and Marion Coutts. I found The Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington. I found Death of the Demon by Anne Holt and Finding Me by Michelle Knight.

I found books on that app that were on my Amazon Wishlist. It almost seemed too good to be true. I decided to offer Björn Schefzyk, Blloon Co-Founder, an interview to get the lowdown on an app that I can see descending gently into our bedtime routines...
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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

What Really Consitutes "Amazing Customer Service" These Days? I KNOW!

I can think of plenty of times when I've experienced really bad or generally lacklustre customer service. It usually comes from large companies; companies who are so far detached from their consumer-base that they give their social media teams scripts to follow on Twitter. Companies who create complicated telephony routing systems that require you to solve a complex algebraic problem similar to "Hannah's Sweets" in order to be considered worthy enough to speak to a robot that can't understand the words "LET ME SPEAK TO YOUR HUMAN LEADER" and promptly hangs up on you so that you can start again.

It's rare that I walk out of a shop and think "... Wow", but that all changed on Saturday the 13th of June.

I received a text on my way to Oxford on Saturday that basically said "Hi, this is Tesco Reading West. We unfortunately have had 3 delivery drivers call in sick today and are unable to get your home delivery to you. Please contact us on this number to re-arrange, sorry for any inconvenience".
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Thursday, 11 June 2015

How To Make a DIY Table Plan for Your Wedding

 
I spent a long time looking for websites/online resource that could help me create a table plan for the wedding. There are a lot of services and stationery companies that can print off your final table plan (the one that is displayed at the venue, all polished and glossy) but there didn't seem to be much out there for people who wanted to create their own rough copy at home; a 'work in progress' table plan.
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Friday, 5 June 2015

No Bake Chocolate Cheescake Recipe; a No Bake Review

I've been trying to get a bit more creative in the kitchen because there really is a limit to the number of times I can make fajitas, a roast dinner or a tuna pasta bake. One of the main problems I face is that I get absolutely zero enjoyment out of standing in the kitchen for hours prepping or waiting for things to cook so I wanted to find a recipe for a quick but more importantly easy dessert.

I found a Good Food recipe for a "No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake" (all credit goes to Good Food, I'll put the link at the bottom of this post) and decided that I'd use the bank holiday weekend to trash my kitchen by having a go at this seemingly simple recipe. The concept of 'No Bake' is completely new to me but also very appealing because I'm useless at the whole "Don't open the oven door or the cakes will sink" thing... Here's my attempt:

THE INGREDIENTS

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Fallout 4 Release- 02.06.2015

Are the rumours true? Is the Fallout 4 release date about to be officially confirmed by Bethesda?

Bethesda have posted the below tweet- I will be updating as I hear more!

 
Latest- Virgin Media tweet!

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

CAU Reading Review

CAU is a steakhouse that is inspired by all things Argentinian, with Beunos Aires at the heart of each of the flavourful and tender dishes. I'd heard about CAU mainly in the context of it being the little sister of Gauchos; an up-market, luxurious steakhouse with a strong hub of restaurants in the City of London. I got news that CAU planned to open a small restaurant in Reading, Berkshire, next to The Oracle and my big old carnivorous heart skipped a beat.

I'd been waiting for the opening weekend with enthusiasm, I am a huge meat lover and a rare steak is the best type of comfort food I can imagine after a stressful week at work. I saw the opening announcement and quickly booked a table for the opening Sunday with one thing on my mind; The CAU Sunday Roast.

The restaurant itself sort of creeps up on you. It's located literally just outside The Oracle on the Minster Street exit (the exit nearest Purple Turtle for Reading folk) in a space that used to be an outside area for Oracle staff a few years back.


We walked in to be greeted by a lovely waitress with red hair (I didn't catch her name but her customer service skills were on point) and we were quickly seated at the bar downstairs whilst our table was arranged. The barstaff were dressed very professionally and service was quick and friendly. We were then shown to a booth near the back of the downstairs section of the restaurant.
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Saturday, 30 May 2015

GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand Review

I have never been able to curl my hair, ever. It either curls beautifully then frizzes up and falls out after an hour or it just refuses to curl and skips straight to frizzy which is even worse. I had been apprehensive of spending a huge amount of money on a curling wand despite the rave reviews because it's a lot of money to spend on something that could essentially live on my dressing table waiting for a friend to borrow it. I finally bit the bullet after the ladies at Headmasters let me have a go with their GHD Curve and I have to say it is absolutely fantastic, especially for somebody who is notoriously lazy when it comes to hairstyling.

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Road Rage; Why Grampas Should Be Off-Roaded

This morning (exactly an hour ago as I begin writing this) I was a victim of road rage on my way to work. I'm still shaking as I write this post.

I was travelling up a busy road on my way to the office. This road has two lanes because it splits in two; the left lane is for traffic towards the business park and the right lane is for traffic towards a residential area. The problem is that the traffic in the right hand lane moves much more quickly because there are about three times as many people who want to head towards the business park for work. This means that some people cruise freely up the right hand lane and then try to bully their way into the left lane when it reaches the point where it splits. This causes me unimaginable anger because it makes my drive about 15 minutes longer each morning just so that some douchebag with 'somewhere to be' can get ahead.

I was a victim of the aforementioned douchebaggery this morning when a man aggressively cut in front of me into the left lane. He didn't have enough room to enter the lane safely, he didn't indicate and he certainly didn't care about the fact I had to slam my breaks on to avoid a collision. I beeped my horn before he had even got into my lane to alert him to the fact that there was a big black 4x4 in the exact location he was sliding his second hand, £3 grand man-mobile into. He didn't care.
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

How To Use Your Nespresso Machine to Make Iced Coffee

This weekend was hot and disturbingly muggy so I decided to experiment with my Nespresso machine to see if I could make an iced coffee at home. I'm told that there are various methods you can use but the one I tried went a little like this...

THE INGREDIENTS


You need 2 Nespresso coffee pods (I tried using one but one shot is definitely not enough, you end up with milky water). You'll also need some milk, ice and something to blend the coffee and ice into a smooth milky drink consistency. I used my Nutribullet but any household blender would work just as well.
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Monday, 18 May 2015

Pitch Perfect 2 Review

The problem with writing a film review is that I have absolutely nothing to say that hasn't already been said by people who can say it in a much more intelligent way than I can. All I can tell you is that I absolutely loved Pitch Perfect 2.

Most of the original cast came back for the sequel but I think there was a bit more of a deeper dive into each individual character this time around. Anna Kendrick, my number one girl crush, actually featured a lot less prominently than she did in Pitch Perfect (The Original) with the likes of Rebel Wilson and Ben Platt getting a bigger share of the screen. That being said Kendrick was still the perfect modern leading lady and her voice is incredible.

Much to my delight a few well-known YouTubers made great cameos, the most prominent of those being the hilarious Flula Borg of AUTOtunes fame (https://www.youtube.com/user/djflula). Flula plays the aggressive male lead of the Barden Bellas' rival a capella competition, Das Sound Machine. I think that Elizabeth Banks could have made much greater use of him but anybody unfamiliar with his YouTube channel probably wouldn't agree. Pentatonix, a group famous for creating instrument-free music on YouTube, also made a brief cameo as one of the competing a capella groups in the finale competition (https://www.youtube.com/user/PTXofficial).

The all important closing number was Flashlight (written by Sia, Christian Guzman, Jason Moore and Sam Smith, and performed by Jessie J) and it was everything that you would expect from the tween glitterfest that is the Pitch Perfect franchise.

I think Elizabeth Banks did a great job as Director and had a few brilliant lines; I feel that Banks is more suited to the 'Rated 15+' film club and I did find myself expecting a few outrageous jokes which never seemed to materialise, but the film needed a PG13 rating to find it's audience and I think the production team managed to keep the humour there regardless of the need to maintain an air of 'Family Friendly'.

Banks is rumoured to be featuring in Magic Mike XXL this year which I'm sure will be a much raunchier affair, I hope there's a Pitch Perfect 3 in the pipe!
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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Feathers and Fur Falconry Centre Review

A few months ago I received vouchers for a falconry experience day for my birthday. I had been hinting (or nagging) my fiancé for a few months but we had struggled to find a free weekend to go and do it on, hence the 3 month delay. Luckily today we had a day of amazing sunshine and I have to say that we had a fantastic few hours with Feathers and Fur.

The Feathers and Fur Falconry Centre is just outside of Reading town on Bath Road (towards Maidenhead). It's located at Ladds Garden Village; it's really easy to find and has ample free parking on site.


We were greeted by the lovely owner, Sadie, and her adorable dogs (a Cocker Spaniel and a Black Lab) who were roaming around the centre in the sunshine living the dream doggy life. The group was made up of about 16 people (including a few spectators) of all ages but we were all adults which was great as I imagine the experience is different when there are a lot of children present.
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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Why LinkedIn Should Replace the CV

Creating the perfect CV is a very controversial topic amongst job hunters. It’s hard to stand out when you are one CV of potentially hundreds on the desk of an employer. I know from personal experience that it is very easy to overlook what is possibly a perfect candidate because they didn’t lay their employment history out properly or didn’t bother to write a 5058029 word cover letter.
A CV is a strangely archaic talent-sourcing tool that needs to die a swift death. Why does that “Personal Skills” section even exist? Isn’t everybody a team player, a quick thinker and a thought leader who works well under pressure, as part of a team or alone?  A CV is utterly meaningless when it comes to data integrity; every other candidate will spew off these overused, meaningless terms along with the fact that they have no driving convictions. How the hell do you get your CV to stand out?

I believe that employers are most interested in your answers for the two following topics:
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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Growing Your Own Ingredients- A Virgin Review

There's something massively satisfying about using home grown ingredients when cooking. I don't do much cooking if I can help it so I'm definitely no expert when it comes to the perfect herbs and spices but food definitely tastes better when you use fresh ingredients, especially when you've cared for and grown them yourself.

Another advantage of keeping plants at home is that they look beautiful on your windowsill and add a lot of character to a kitchen. I popped down to Waitrose today and spent just over £20 on herbs, chilli seeds and growing pots and decided that I would lose my gardening virginity (I'm calling it gardening. This is my blog and I say that it's proper official gardening) and plant them myself.

 
I bought a set of a 3 small herb tins that come with a watering tray....
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Monday, 4 May 2015

Katzecure Review


I have a rather large Bengal cat named Teddy. Ted is a housecat and it's all he's ever known but recently I've been toying with the idea of letting him outside into my garden. That being said, I didn't want him to be able to get out of the garden because I live right next to a main road, a forest, and in a bit of a dodgy area (there are always stories of cats being abused in my area and I would never forgive myself).

Look how sassy he is... #smize
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Friday, 1 May 2015

Why I Moved my Blog from WordPress to Blogger

I've spent hours this week fretting and punching my screen because I decided to move my blog away from WordPress to Blogger.

I didn't take the decision lightly; I've lost a lot of hard work (past views, stats, analytics) and I've also lost my blog appearance/template which I had spent a lot of time getting right. However, when WordPress decided that they wanted to charge me to upgrade my plan for the second time (an extra £30 on top of what I had already paid for the domain, the hosting, the template etc) just so that I could LiveChat with a 'Happiness Engineer' to sort out some DNS issues I just lost the plot.

WordPress allow very little customisation for free. They don't support AdSense (https://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/) despite all the Plug Ins that are available. They don't allow custom widgets and it's very hard to edit the HTML code of your site without the whole thing falling over. To have a fully functioning, attractive and profitable site with WordPress you have to spend a ridiculous amount of money.
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No Carb Wednesday

I do not enjoy cooking. I don't love to come home from work and spend an hour in the kitchen making dinner. I spent the last week at home on my own because my fiancé went to Las Vegas on his stag do (I'm not bitter at all) and I decided that I wasn't going to resort to takeaways and ready meals; I was going to be number 1 healthy chef of the house.

I wanted to do something that was super healthy and that contributed towards my '5-A-Day' because most days I don't even get close to that, but I also wanted to do something that was zero carb and really fast. I decided on chicken and tenderstem broccoli with Nandos sauce (which I could happily eat with every meal!). I quickly fried the chicken (with a 1 calorie dry-spray) and steamed the broccoli in my steamer.


For dessert I made a smoothie in my NutriBullet...
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Monday, 27 April 2015

Living with a Bengal; An Owners Review

I have a handsome Bengal named Teddy. He is about to turn 1 and you're damn fucking straight I'll be throwing him a kitty birthday party.

I make it quite clear that I absolutely adore Ted and he has definitely changed the way our home feels, but raising a Bengal certainly comes with a few caveats that should be considered before you decide to take the plunge into cat-hood.

IMG_3358

Bengal cats were developed by the selective breeding of domestic cats and Asian Leopards. They are primarily jungle cats with some being much more 'wildcat' than others. Breeders use the term "F Generations" to outline how far removed a particular cat is from its leopard heritage. Ted is an F6, a direct domestic/Asian Leopard cross would be an F1. The F Generation system is a great guide when it comes to the temperament of the cat you are looking at, with the F1 & F2 cats typically needing an owner to be 'licensed to care' in most countries around the Western hemisphere because of their large size, aggressiveness and profitable breeding potential.

Before you adopt, consider the below points:
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Monday, 20 April 2015

Getting Married; Choosing the Venue

As everybody who's ever been within shouting distance of me knows, I'm getting married in September of 2015. A lot of people have asked me how the wedding planning is going so I thought I'd create a series that covers all the issues I came up against along with everything you need to consider as a 'Newly Engaged'. These will be in no particular order because, let's face it, weddings just don't work like that.

From day one I was obsessed with getting all the big decisions made, partly because it was exciting but also because I wanted to give myself enough time to actually pay for everything without feeling stressed throughout my engagement. The wedding venue was the first big decision we made together and I was really thankful that we sorted it out early when it came to planning the smaller details. If, like me, you want to start looking at venues early I think there are a handful of things to consider as you visit each one:
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Saturday, 18 April 2015

"DO SOMETHING FUN"... Makeup Haul; A Simple, Novice Review

If you have ever met me you will definitely be aware that I know very little about makeup. The fact that this post is about makeup will be amusingly ironic to my girlfriends (Lauren, Adele; I sit in waiting for the inevitable abuse in Revs next week...). I seriously don't understand how I'm meant to "end" my liquid eyeliner. I don't understand eyelash curlers. My foundation almost certainly will not match my skin colour for the majority of the year. I don't own bronzer & I've never fake-tanned in my life.

I still really, really enjoy getting semi-dressed up on a Friday night, but I've never been the type of girl to wear a huge amount of makeup. I'm not really a fan of kohl black eyes or bright eyeshadows (on myself) and sometimes I find it hard to come up with a way to do something that I wouldn't wear to the office Monday to Friday anyway. I decided to invest in a few key bits based on recommendations from Tanya Burr (goddess, guru, my spirit animal) & from the Feel Unique forums.

I have combination skin. I do look after it religiously but I've always got a lot of red pigment in my cheeks, I've always got a few pimples and between Monday and Friday I'll always have some decent bags under my eyes. In the photo below I've applied foundation to the right hand side of my face but not to the left- quite a difference!

2

I use Mac MoistureCover concealer (shade NC20) under my eyes...
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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Home Colour: the Tester Pots are Here!

I've been toying with many colour schemes when it comes to painting my house. I have a new build so we're essentially working on a clean, white slate which certainly helps when it comes to the actual painting (not that I'll be allowed to get involved there!). I wanted to pick something that would be quite neutral because we plan to sell in a few years & it's hard to get rid of bold colours. Dark & statement colours make a room look much smaller so I wanted to go with something light, airy and modern.

I am practically phobic of magnolia, plus on top of that fact I know that I still want to pick a colour that I adore. I may be flipping this house for resale but I'll be the one living here for the next 3 years.


I think I've decided on varying shades of Duck Egg. It's a heady mix of blue and green but it's also available in complimentary shades (the three I chose are pictured). I want to pick a few statement walls for the darkest shade with pale duck egg on the remaining walls. I'll probably put the duck egg white in the kitchen and bathrooms.

I'm going to get the colours on a wall (if Ben permits!) this weekend and will post an update then...
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Monday, 6 April 2015

Botanical Print Fringed Kimono Review

I think it's been fairly easy, particularly this past sunny Easter weekend, to convince myself that Summer is on the way. I'm not a huge fan of Summer fashion because it can be hard to enjoy it when you're plus-sized; every high street advert online is co-ords, bodycon dresses, booty shorts or playsuits. However, I completely fell in love with a botanical print kimono I found in River Island on Saturday.

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(Soz about no makeup ^^)
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Why You Need a 5 Year Plan

In 1928, Stalin launched the first of thirteen "Five Year Plans" for the Soviet Union. At the time, the Union was in a state of poverty and disrepair with life expectancy low and infant mortality shockingly high. The idea was that the plans would ultimately lead to a communist utopia in the form of a hugely advanced industrial economy, a "powerhouse" of industry. The plans generally looked to address the shortfalls in the USSR's agriculture, transportation, communication, health, education and many more areas but the main emphasis of these plans was always centred around power and capital goods. The attempt to convert a starving, depressed nation into a western economy brought huge suffering to the people of Russia. In fact, the famine of 1932 which was caused by the disruption associated by "Collectivization" (aggressive land farming) caused the death of millions of people. This fact was vehemently denied until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990, despite the fact that the census of 1937 revealed a population loss in line with the deaths associated with World War 2 in its entirety.

In 1936, the Nazi Party launched their very own Five Year Plan (this actually turned out to be a Four Year Plan) in order to ready themselves for war. Hitler put Hermann Goring in charge of this plan and awarded him a tremendous amount of power and control over the economy. His decision was to invest in military resource at the expense of civilian economic growth. In short, Goring led Germany into war-readiness.

Why is this relevant to your own Five Year Plan? It absolutely isn't.
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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

My Help to Buy Scheme Experience- Putting the Wheels in Motion

The Help to Buy scheme (check out my other post in this category for predeceasing article) is a government scheme designed to allow a buyer to purchase a home with a 5% deposit & a 20% equity loan provided by the government. That being said, they outsource 99.9% of the work to local housing associations to deal with. The best way to start investigating whether this would be a viable option for you is to visit the Help to Buy website for your area. Mine was the South of England; http://www.helptobuysouth.co.uk. The website will direct you to all local housing developments that support the Help to Buy scheme and will also give you a breakdown of what sort of properties are available at each location. Unfortunately, absolutely none of this existed when I applied. I was directed to Catalyst Housing (http://www.chg.org.uk/) who were, to summarise, absolutely shite. They never answered an email, would direct me to endless voicemail boxes & I'm not actually sure whether the end goal was to sell houses or just piss people off. Things have improved dramatically in the past 18 months and Catalyst are not actually representing the scheme anymore. YAY. There is also a lot more help available directly from the government than there was last year. Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/help-to-buy-equity-loan-guidance-and-application-forms for some guides and FAQs.
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Why has Reddit turned to "Fat Shaming" with such enthusiasm?


Reddit for me was always my favourite site to fall asleep to. It was lovely to browse pages and pages of pointless pictures and interesting articles. I can't count the hours I've spent on /r/TIFU or /r/AskReddit & I consider none of it as wasted time, I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

Until Fat Shaming.

Recently, posts which make references to "Ham Planets" have amassed up-votes. Disgustingly abusive posts related to Rebel Wilson or Kelly Clarksons' recent weight gain have lingered around the first few pages of the Front page. /r/fatpeoplehate has now got 63,348 people subscribed to it and I've even heard mention of a "Fat Shaming Week".

I'm not upset that fat people are being made to feel bad about themselves. I am upset that any one group of people is being made to feel bad about themselves and that the "trolls" involved are getting so much support from the wider community. We, as Redditors, have achieved great things. I was part of the 2014 Reddit Secret Santa program and it was really amazing to see everybody put so much trust in a complete stranger and swap weird/wonderful gifts. Bill Gates even got involved (http://uk.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-reddit-secret-santa-gift-2014-12)! When Hurricane Sandy happened people offered their homes and food to others & even got together to search for survivors in the aftermath. They organised this via the hurricane subreddit board.

Reddit used to be an educated community. I don't mean that every user was a MENSA member, but users were open to having their opinions challenged and also intelligent enough to challenge others in an engaging and sensitive manner, without the need for cruel names or online bullying. Is this emerging ignorance & hostility the result of the diversification of the typical "Reddit User"?

PLEASE help me preserve the beautiful mess that is Reddit. Spread love, not hate. Be supportive, be wise, be kind!
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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Come to Bed With Me (A Bedroom Review)

For many years my bedroom has been a hole for me to exist in. As a teenager living at home I spent as much time in my bedroom as possible to avoid my family (who were most likely "ruining my life") and then I moved to University in Reading, Berkshire, and lived in student halls which essentially means that the bedroom is the only space that is actually yours. In student halls you end up storing your favourite mug, your damp towels, your takeaway remnants from the night before and your entire wardrobe all within a metre reach from you.

After I graduated I lived in a few small flats and, again, it was difficult to get out of the habit of spending the weekend locked in my bedroom watching films and reading. Now that I am a home owner (that still sounds weird out loud) I have decided to make more of an effort to make my bedroom a sanctum of calm. I don't have much space to work with, but I think it's a good start!

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