Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Death by Dissertation

As the title suggests, I have been somewhat absent from, well, life recently, due to that dreaded thing called my dissertation. Because of this, I have the most horrible feeling that this blog is going to go the same way as my last one. I told myself I'd really work at this one and make something of it, but I feel that so far I've only let the poor little blog down! I blame this entirely on being a mere 2 and a half months away from finishing university (holysh*ttakedeepbreathsetc) and just over a month away from handing in the final version of my dissertation. Dissertation. Now, that's a word I definitely won't want to hear again come the 23rd of March. 

I am normally one to leave my work until last minute and not panic too much, but I really want to do well in my dissertation and I can't bear to leave it too late. I'm lucky that my dissertation tutor is my favourite lecturer who has an amazing wealth of knowledge on my dissertation topic, and so she's made me want to be a bit more organised when it comes to writing it. At our first meeting she told me that I should be aiming for a first and I almost went 'LOL' in her face, but now I'm feeling the pressure but unfortunately not the motivation. I am a complete procrastinator. The internet doesn't help greatly, particularly my love of beauty and fashion blogs, so I've been trying to stay away from anything blog-related recently, hence the lack of love I've given to my own blog.

I did say in my first post that this probably wasn't the most ideal time to start up another blog, but I did, and so I'm going to stick with it. You might have to bear with me a while, though...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Staking My Claim

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Apparently if I want to 'claim my blog' on Bloglovin then I have to post a certain link they've given me onto a blog this is a completely pointless blog post. Seriously. Don't even bother reading it. is a funny picture....

Mmmkay thanks BYE.

Liz Earle Skincare

Something that I will no doubt continue to bang on about is my new-found-love for beauty blogs. I literally cannot get enough of them! Unfortunately this addiction has led to a few rather expensive purchases as the beauty blogging world is full of reviews about the next-best-thing in the beauty industry. I have extremely sensitive and dry skin (a blog post on this will probably pop up soon!) and so I am always on the look-out for products that will make my life that little bit easier. Like many bloggers, I imagine, my first major purchase, and the topic of this blog post, was what is probably the most well-known beauty product in the blogging world – Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. I had read so many reviews about the product (all singing its praises!), but I was disappointed that very few of them were any help to me, in that none of the reviews I read were carried out by people who had very dry/sensitive sensitive skin. As with all high-end beauty products, I prefer to know roughly how a product will react on my skin before I shell out a large portion of my student loan for it, which is why I am writing this review, even though many people may not be interested in it, and despite the fact that I am by no-means a beauty expert. Then again, being a ‘normal’ person, who has never received anything from PR companies to review, may just work in my favour and add credibility to my review.

 When I went in search of this product, I had originally only intended to buy just this, but I fell into the all-too-familiar trap of buying a bundle of goods on offer. This bundle included the cleanser, as well as the Instant Boost Skin Tonic and the Skin Repair moisturiser (for dry/sensitive skin). All I can say is that I am SO pleased that I did fall into the trap. I have the most horrifically sensitive skin (E45 cream made my skin sting!) and it also has the tendency to dry up, especially during the winter months. This product has made my skin look and feel a whole lot better and I literally couldn’t live without it. It doesn’t come without a hefty price tag unfortunately (the whole set cost me £41, not including p&p), but I did get a little freebie with it, in the form of the Superskin Concentrate (which would’ve set me back approximately £12/13) and they kindle popped in an extra Muslin cloth for me. Don’t even get me started on the packaging; I know it sounds silly but when something is nicely packaged, instead of coming in a black plastic kinda bag (looking at you, online clothing stores!) then it makes me feel a bit special, so as soon as I opened the box, I knew I was on to a winner.

 Let’s start with the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. For a beauty novice like me, cleansing has always been done using some form of lotion and a bit of cotton wool, but I’m happy to say that this will never again be the case for me! I found this new idea of cleansing a bit daunting at first but it’s really very simple; you start by filling a basin with hand-warm water and then begin applying the creamy cleansing lotion onto your dry face. Next, soak the muslin cloth in the water, rinse the water out thoroughly and begin removing the cleanser from your face with the cloth. I don’t know if you’re meant to apply a little pressure when doing this, as it is effectively exfoliating your face, but I tend to do it very lightly due to the sensitive nature of my skin. Although my skin does go a little red as I first start using the cloth, the redness disappears within a matter of seconds – something which was unheard of when I used to use normal face washes. Pat your face dry with a towel and you’re ready for the next step...

...The Instant Boost Skin Tonic (which I assume is just a posh name for ‘toner’), just needs to be applied to a cotton wool bud or pad and then gently swept over the face. I was a little worried that this would cause some discomfort with my skin at first, due to the slight exfoliation that the cleanser had provided, but I needn’t have worried as it only made my skin feel extremely clean and fresh. It also helps that I love the smell of it as well!
Now, the Skin Repair Moisturiser (Dry/Sensitive skin) is the product which I was most concerned about. My skin does not react well to 99% of moisturisers on the market, and once I even tried E45 as a bit of last resort, and it made my skin sting and I looked like a blotchy red thing for a good hour – not a good look, despite the fact that E45 is meant to be one of the most gentle moisturisers on the market! I am by no means saying that E45 is not a good moisturiser – everyone’s skin will react differently – but it just left me in a lot of discomfort. The moisturiser smells delicious too but I was worried that something even the slightest bit fragranced would bring out the worst in my skin. Thankfully, it didn’t! I cannot describe how much of a relief it was to finally find a moisturiser that made my skin feel gorgeous but didn’t cause discomfort or redness; it really was a miracle moisturiser!

I now use these products every day without fail, and sometimes twice a day if I can be bothered (although Liz & her team recommend following this routine in the morning AND evening). I do use the Superskin Concentrate at night time every now and then, but I don’t care for it too much. It’s quite heavily fragranced and, although that doesn’t bother my skin (another miracle!), I don’t particularly like my face to smell too much, especially not at night. I’ve never quite been able to describe the smell, but the first time I used it I did ask my boyfriend what my face smelt like, and he said “You smell like one of those healthy tea bags!” which I’m not sure is a good thing or not.

But basically, what I wanted to say is that these three products have practically saved my skin’s life. I’ve always struggled with finding the right skin care for my face, usually carrying on with a product even if it made my face turn bright red, but now I’ve found such a great product and I’ll definitely be repurchasing once this collection has run dry. Not that that will be any time soon – the bottles are rather large, and despite getting the products just after Christmas, I’ve barely made a mark in the moisturiser! Hurrah! To put it simply, these are three of the best products I’ve ever used, and believe me, I’ve used a lot. Thanks Liz Earle!

If you're interested in giving these products a go yourself, you can find them all on the Liz Earle website here.

[Images taken from the Liz Earle website]

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Out with the old, in with the new

I am fully aware that my blog is less than aesthetically pleasing at the moment, but I promise I am working on it. Right now, as we speak type, in fact. You'll have to bear with me though; my knowledge of websites/blogs/HTML amounts to almost nothing, but with a little help from one of my modules and a friend and fellow blogger, Annie, I am slowly (very, very slowly...) getting there. I'm not especially proud of my blog at the moment, and that leads to alack of motivation to write anything on it, but when I started this blog I told myself I'd make something of it, which is what I'm currently trying to do!

Here goes...

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Watching My Weight

I've become a Weight Watchers member...again. I’ve always been a little overweight, especially in comparison to my friends. It’s never really been that much of an issue to me – my friends, boyfriend and family all seem to love me regardless of my body shape - however it’s got to the point where I no longer love me regardless of my body shape. That’s a sad thing for me to admit but it’s also a great thing to admit; now I know that I feel that way, I have 100% more motivation to do something about it, compared to 6 months ago, when I knew I wasn’t completely happy with how I looked, but I was happy to plod along through life, ignoring it. I did sign up to Weight Watchers Online at some point, maybe mid-May? But without the motivation to lose weight, it never really worked for me, so come October, I cancelled my account and put the £10 that I would’ve spent on membership each month towards a beauty box subscription (JolieBox, for those who are interested).

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I decided to give it another go (not just because of the constant emails I was always receiving from Weight Watchers, despite cancelling my account). I must admit, I did well for the first 4 days and then sort, well, fell off the bandwagon. I blame it completely on my lack of routine; I spend some time at home with mum, some time at my boyfriend’s house and now I am back in Oxford for the last term of Uni…before going home again for my birthday on Thursday…and then back to Uni on Monday…and then to London the week after…you see? No structure! I have told myself that from next Monday, I WILL stick to it and I WILL ultimately find myself with a body I’m happy with. Basically, I want to not dread that moment when Facebook tells me 'So-and-so has tagged you in _ photos' (don't we all?).
I’ve decided I’ll do a weekly weigh-in post, probably titled ‘Wednesday Weigh-In’ or something terrible like that. Will I stick to it? I hope so! I feel that if I make a commitment to something like this through such a public forum, I’ll have even more motivation to stick to it. That, and all those amazing spring/summer trends that keep popping up in my email inbox.

Hopefully doing it the online way will avoid situations like this one...

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Confessions of a Mickey Mouse Student

As previously mentioned, I am, unfortunately, a media student – well, a Communication, Media and Culture (CMC) student. Not unfortunately for me, but unfortunately to a large group of people. A group of people who, I discovered last Friday, include one of my elderly relatives. Ouch. I was at a family gathering and I’d answered the dreaded “what are you going to do with your degree/life” question more times than I care to count, and so the conversation with my relative unsurprisingly went down the same route. When I answered the question with “I have no idea”, I waited for the obligatory “oh you silly sausage” laugh, but instead I was faced with this; “well that’s what happens when you take a completely pointless degree”. Double quadruple ouch. I was completely and utterly gobsmacked. Also involved in this conversation were my older sister and my dad, both of whom just nervously laugh (as did I) and, bless my dad, he did try to stick up for me but I think we were all abit shocked at such a blunt (and, let’s be honest, downright rude) response that we did the very British thing of ignoring the remark and swiftly moving the conversation on. But I won't lie, I just wanted to burst in tears (something which I did do when I was finally home).
The idea that my degree is pointless is by no means news to me. The media (ironically) spend much of their time slamming media students, believing they could be doing something a little more worthwhile, like Maths, or Science. Where, may I ask, is a maths degree going to get me, not just for the fact that I CANNOT DO MATHS? I think plenty of students will nod in agreement with me when I say that during the first year of A-Levels, I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do with my life (nothing’s changed, then), and at the young age of 17 we are asked to make one of the biggest decision of ours lives; leave education and enter the working world, or soldier through yet more education. I chose the latter, meaning that I then had to decide exactly what I was going to study. I’ve always been interested in the media, how it works and the effect it has on society (which, might I add, is a lot more than most people realise), and I had been doing well in my media class, so I thought, hey! Why don’t I study something I’m actually interested in? I don’t tend to make the best decisions, but I truly believe that the decision to study media was a great one, for me, even if it wasn’t for anyone else. Because I’m actually interested in what I’m learning, I’m willing to put a lot more effort into going to lectures, writing my assignments and doing the vast amount of background research that is required of any degree. I do not appreciate it when people tell me that my degree is pointless, because they are effectively telling me that my life itself is ‘pointless’, my future is ‘pointless’; I am basically a big bag of pointless-ness. Grrrreat.

These events led me to feel the need to defend my degree. I know many who read this (if there are any, at all) will not be interested in this sort of thing, but someone’s gotta stand up for the Mickey Mouse club! So I present to you:

Reasons why Media Studies is anything but ‘pointless’:
·           The study of media, communication and culture (my degree, specifically) is said to stem from Psychology and Sociology i.e. they are all interested in society, how media plays a part on both society and the effect on the media users. Now I don't know about you, but I've never heard anyone call these subjects pointless, so surely media isn't either? So I fail to see how a subject that stems from such well-respected degrees can be classed as pointless.
·           Unfortunately, one of the more common misconceptions of media studies is that we spend all day watching television and reading magazines, and sit in a classroom chatting about it. Whilst looking at film, television, magazines, newspapers and advertising are all part of the teaching aspect, students are also taught to look behind the scenes of the media. Examining why these forms of media are structured and produced the way that they are leads to questions of social and political issues. Why does The Daily Mail present such positivity towards the Conservative Party, yet criticise most actions of the Labour Party? It’s all a question of the politics surrounding the media and this is something which is key to society.    
·           It has been proven (through a study by the University of Sunderland in 2008) that media graduates are in one of the best positions employability-wise when they leave university. Our degree teaches us so many valuable industry skills, such as how to research communication, being aware of different cultures and the way in which communication between them is important, the politics of the world, the importance of the media in how it portrays the everyday world, and how this portrayal can be so influential in society. Obviously advertising is one of the key ways in which society is influenced by the media, but consider how the way in which news stories are portrayed on television and in the newspapers will alter our view on a particular topic.
·           Media studies are not merely based on fact, but allow a creative element. Students within the field are encouraged to use their imagination and their input is widely recognised. However, in a subject such as maths there is only one definitive answer, meaning little room for creativity. It is also open to the concept of new ideas and theories, unlike many academic practices. The field welcomes debates and contradicting theories, believing this it only adds to the value of information, and provides students with different perspectives.

So there you go, rant over! I really am rather sorry that you had to put up with a post like this, but if I can stop one person from thinking I am completely wasting my life away, then I’m happy.
I promise my posts will begin to get a little more interesting from now on…I hope.

So it's goodbye from me, and goodbye from Mickey...

BRIT Me Up, Baby

So it’s almost that time of year again, when British music is celebrated with the respect it deserves and so longingly craves. Forget the Grammy’s – their constant need for drama and headlines could never outshine the wonderful British institution that is the BRITs. I’ve not missed a show for as long as I can remember, and it never fails to deliver spine-tingling performances (most notably last year’s performance from the ever-wonderful Adele) as well as tears (but no tantrums, thank you very much) and a glamourous opportunity for all the fashion junkie folk out there. And let’s not forget those famous collaborations; I’m not afraid to admit that my favourite has to be when Queen met 5ive – genius! And rumour has it that this year's duet will be a mouth-watering collaboration of arguably two of the most successful acts in the British music industry this year - Ed Sheeran and Jessie J!

The music industry has been bursting with incredible music from around the world for such a long time, but let’s be honest, British music has not always been high on the agenda. In the last couple of years, however, British music is emerging back from under the sea bed and is proving to be nothing less than extraordinary. New talent such as the previously mentioned Adele, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Ed Sheeran (can I get away with not mentioning One Direction, I wonder?) are perhaps most popular on not just the nominees list, but also on everybody’s lips. You can’t turn the radio on for more than 10 minutes without hearing from a great British talent – a bold statement to make, I’m sure, but it only demonstrates the growing talent we have in this country. And thank the Lord for the BRIT Awards. We, the British public, are given the opportunity to reward our favourite and most treasured stars of the music industry, and we sure do it in style.

This year’s nominees appear to be a ‘who’s who’ of the music industry. The ‘British Male Artist’ award, in my eyes, has to go to Ed Sheeran; is there a harder-working man in the industry at the moment? I don’t think so. And to be quite honest, I don’t think he’ll have any concern over whether he’ll scoop that prize or not – yes, the other nominees (particularly Professor Green) have had a great year, but Sheeran’s army of fans (me included) certainly won’t let him down in the voting stakes. I hold the same view for ‘British Breakthrough Act’ award, though I do dearly love The Vaccines and their album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’. The ‘Mastercard British Album of the Year’ is where I’m slightly torn; I love Sheeran’s ‘+’ an awful lot, in fact it is perhaps the most played album on my iTunes, but ‘Mylo Xyloto’ really is a musical masterpiece, and it seems that Coldplay put so much blood, sweat and tears into the production that they are just as much in the running, along with Adele’s heartbreaking ‘21’ – the album featuring the famous ‘Someone Like You’, which I’m sure will win best ‘British Single (perhaps fitting, after that tear-jerking performance that she gave at last year’s awards) and let’s be honest, she will probably win the ‘British Female Sola Artist’ award, too. I have fingers, toes and any other potentially crossable limbs crossed that Coldplay will win the ‘British Group’ award, though any of the other nominees (bar Kasabian, I. Cannot. Bear. Kasabian) would be worthy winners. I care very little for the ‘International Female Solo Artist’ award, but it’s unquestionably a three-horse-race between Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Rihanna – sorry Bjork and Feist. The remaining categories I can’t call - I hope that Foster the People win the ‘International Breakthrough Act’ award (but I fear that’ll go to Nicki Minaj), Fleet Foxes win the ‘International Group’ award, and Bon Iver win the ‘International Male Solo Artist’ but there is strong competition for my favourites in all of those categories.

I’m also very excited for the return of Blur! I am a little young to say that I was their number one fan when they were at their prime, but my older sister was quite the fan and so I have inherited some of her knowledge (and albums!).

So the evening of the 21st of February is already planned for me; glass of wine, plenty of snacks, good friends and the BRIT Awards on television. Unless, of course, the people behind the Brits want to change that through the #BRITsblogger competition… ;)