Sunday, 31 August 2014

Beauty: Make-up Application.

Fingers, pads or brushes?

I was always a fingers person when it came to make-up application. I loved rubbing foundation over my face, or smearing eyeshadow onto my lids. But as I got older and got into the world of beauty gurus, I decided to make the switch to brushes. I haven’t looked back.

Whilst with fingers you ultimately use a lot less product, you don’t get anywhere near the level of finish that you get with a brush. I always find that my make-up looks a lot more natural when I use a brush to blend it into my skin, and all the shades merge easier to create a nicer end result. True, particularly with foundation, you lose a lot of product in the bristles of the brush itself (it is scary when you come to wash out your brushes how much make-up gunk is caught up in there), but for me it’s worth it for the finish.

I also am able to do a lot more complex things with eyeshadow now that I use brushes. Whereas I used to plaster one colour all over my lid, now I normally use at least three: a highlight, a base, and a contour colour. Again, this gives a more natural look to my make-up, as well as a more sophisticated finish.

For a brief time between my finger using days and my brush using present, I used foam make-up pads to apply foundation. I rarely wear foundation (other than pressed powder) but whenever I tried to use pads I found they gave me a smeary finish and I had to use even more product than I use with a brush. This could have been because I was using very low quality foundation, but I still don’t get on with pads to this day.

All of this is just personal preference, and I know that my sister loves using pads. Whatever you chose to use, just remember that you need to either a) wash your hands before applying make-up and between products, b) change pads regularly or c) wash your brushes regularly to avoid build up or bacteria. How do you chose to apply your make-up? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below!

Friday, 29 August 2014

University #5: You're In, What Next?

The stress of results day has come and gone, and you’ve made it into one of you top choice universities (or, you’ve got into another university through clearing). Either way, well done! It’s no easy feat to get into uni, and whatever the outcome you should be proud of yourself for making it this far. You’ve probably got about a month till the first day of Freshers, so what do you do now?

Keep an eye on your emails, particularly your junk box. Uni’s will start getting you set up on their servers, so it’s important to get that process underway as soon as they let you. They’ll also start letting you know the specifics of your accommodation, and enrollment. You might even have to choose a couple of modules. So keep a weather eye out, and check every couple of days.

Once you’re set up on the Uni server, whether that is Portal, Blackboard, Moodle or whichever other sites they get you using, have a play around and get used to how it works. They won’t tell you how to use it, they’ll just expect you to know, and you don’t often get email updates when things are changed on the site (ie, that your timetable is available to view, or that your module organiser has updated the module information). I didn’t know that my timetable was on there until my first week of term, when it had been online for a couple of weeks, so it pays to get used to the system – particularly for your tech savvy tutors.

If you have got your timetable, have enrolled on all the modules, but haven’t heard any whisper of reading lists, see if you can find out your tutors name (most often printed on your timetable) and drop them an email, just in case. It’s always worth making yourself known, and showing that you’re eager to learn.

You’ll probably have your accommodation confirmed around this time too (or perhaps have had it confirmed since results day). It’s always worth trawling through facebook looking for groups people may have set up for Freshers moving in, or setting up your own group for your accommodation block. If you can start getting to know people before you move in with them, it’ll make that first day a little less awkward as well as a little less intimidating, as you’ll be seeing some familiar faces.

It’s worth booking Freshers tickets now too, as they will probably sell out by the time you get to uni. If you do book onto events that no one in your halls booked onto and you’re not comfortable going alone, you can always sell your tickets later as there will be people in the exact opposite position from you. If you’re happy going alone I’d recommend it, as it’s a great way to meet new people.

Most importantly, take this time to see your friends and family. You’ve got all the time in the world to worry about uni, but only a few weeks left to spend quality time with people you won’t be seeing for a couple of months. Enjoy it.

I’m going to post a clothing haul in the next couple of days, with the vague intent of it being ‘Back to School’ ish, but uni is a place where you can let your individuality shine through, so obviously this will be my taste and not what everyone will be wearing.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Beauty: Evening Look #2 (My Take on Tanya Burr's Birthday Look)

For the past couple of months I’ve been trying to upload my take on Tanya Burr’s Birthday Look, but each time something manages to stop me. First the picture quality was awful, then I lost the typed-out information and now I’ve managed to break the SD card with the new pictures on them. Mare of a time. But I still really want to show my take on it, as I think it’s a fab look which works really well day to night at this time of the year. I won’t be able to show step by step images, but I will show you the products I used and the end result.

Products (Clockwise from top):

E.L.F Lash Extending Mascara in Black; Elf Liquid Eyeliner in Black; Marks and Spencer Limited Collection Blusher in Cinnamon; Estee Lauder Lipstick in Pink Champagne; Miss Sporty Cream Eyegloss in Sunset; E.L.F Eyeshadow Palate (used second in from the top row – a shimmery rose colour (for eyelids), fourth in on the middle row – a dark purple (for crease), and five in on the middle row – a dark grey (for filling brows)); E.L.F Pressed Powder in Buff; B.Radient Under Eye Concealer in Light/Medium.

I chose not to use foundation for this look to keep it light on my skin, but I added blush to give my face a bit of dimension. I used the Eyegloss all over mid lid, then layered the E.L.F shadows on top. I find if I put the Eyegloss on first then the pink from the shadow really pop. Using the Eyegloss means I can’t use the cream eyeliner (which I prefer as a look with this make-up as it’s softer than the liquid liner, but the two creams together smear all over the lid after a couple of hours), so I used a thin line of liquid liner with a small flick at the corner.

Here’s the look midway through the night (hopefully you can see the eye make-up here):

And here’s a full face cheesy grin shot:

I wore this make-up look for a lunch and an evening of cocktails with some of my best friends. It stayed really well all night, and wasn’t too heavy on my face. It is a great transition from lunch to evening, and was perfect for a slightly more dressy evening out. My take on this look uses lower end products than Tanya's, but all the products (barring the lipstick) are cruelty free. 

The photo's taken on the night out are by Hazel Soper. You can check out some of her (amazing) art work here.

Monday, 25 August 2014

My Experience with Skin Cancer

Please don’t joke about skin cancer. This should be an obvious thing to say, and I shouldn’t really have to ask, but whilst on holiday my (now ex) fella quoted South Park (or Family Guy – one of the two) in which they made a joke about sitting outside sunbathing with the words ‘I’m just getting me some cancer’.

Skin cancer (or, to use its proper name malignant melanoma) is a condition most often (although not exclusively) caused through skin damage due to over exposure to the sun. Everyone I know has a mole on their body somewhere, and this is usually the first sign of skin cancer. Most of the time, these moles are benign, but they can turn cancerous. You should take photos of all moles on you and monitor them for any changes in shape or size (particularly if they stop being round), if they form lumps, or they have an uneven tone (particularly if they have dark patches). If you are worried, speak to your GP, and they can examine them more closely. Despite the story I’m about to tell you, getting your skin cancer spotted early gives you the chance of the best possible outcome, and GP’s are very good at their jobs (and their equipment has improved vastly over the past twenty years).

This is my story about my relationship with skin cancer.

My dad has always had a lot of moles on his body, and he did visit the doctors on a number of occasions to get them looked at. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma – some of the moles on his back had turned, mutated and become cancerous. My dad isn’t the kind of guy to walk around with his top off, but when he was younger he would. A couple of bad burns in your childhood can have devastating results later in life. Remember, your skin never forgets.

Despite having the moles removed, sadly the cancer had already spread into his lymphnodes (found in your glands, they are designed to attack illness). He had to undergo serious surgery to have all the infected lymphnodes removed from one side of his body. He was in hospital for a number of days, and had lost a lot of strength for several months after the operation. He still has to wear a compression sleeve to counteract swelling from fluid retention, and he has to be very careful whenever he is ill, as his immune system is permanently damaged.

My story is a lucky one. Dad didn’t have to undergo any kind of chemo or radio therapy. He is now cancer free and has been in remission ever since the operation. He still has to go for check-ups at the hospital every 3-6 months, and he has been left with big scars down his side and over his back.

What I’m trying to say with all this is that skin cancer isn’t a joke, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Getting a sunburn isn’t funny, and not wearing suncream isn’t cool. Just because you may not see the immediate effects now (other than painful red skin or a strong tan) doesn’t mean that you’ve escaped permanent, potentially life threatening, damage.

The paler you are, the more easily you burn, but just because you might have an olive complexion doesn’t mean you’re immune to the effects of the sun, so be careful out there.

I know summer is drawing to a close, but every time it’s out and shining, make sure you put on a bit of cream. At the very least wear moisturiser or make-up with SPF in it. Make sure you’re protected against UVA and UVB, and cover up at midday. If you’re on holiday at altitude or nearer to the equator, the sun is stronger there too, so be extra careful.

I’m sorry about the mini lecture, but the joke made on holiday really shocked me – I couldn’t believe someone so close to me even thought about joking about skin cancer. (I should point out that the joking in no way lead to our break up.)

Lighter hearted content will resume in my next post – probably a beauty post or book review. Until then, stay safe.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Sziget Festival Feedback.

(Sorry for all the list posts, I promise I'll mix things up soon!!)

In the middle of the Danube which runs through Budapest, Hungary, is the Sziget Festival: The Island of Freedom. Running for a full 7 days, the festival features a whole range of acts, from big names, local bands, circus, art installations, food. Not only this, but as none of the main acts start before 4pm, you have the whole day to either explore the festival site or hop on a metro and ride into Budapest. With the Sziget City Pass, you don’t have to pay, and you get one free Spa trip (which is the best way to feel clean after days of grime).

As enjoyable as the whole experience was, and as great as it is to say I’ve seen acts such as Bastille, Jake Bugg, La Roux and have danced to Milkshake by Kelis, Baggy Trousers by Madness and Hey Ya by Outkast, there were lots of things I think the festival could have improved on.

1)  The festival site uses a numbering system for each of their festival days rather than the dates, (for example, the festival site is open on day -3). However, they don’t make this clear which days are which. For example, they say the festival runs from Monday 11th till Monday 18th, which would imply that the 11th was Day 1. However, the festival technically opens on the Wednesday, making that day 1 and Monday day -1. This needs to be made clearer on the website when you buy the tickets, as I believed my ticket (valid for day -1) would let me onsite on the Sunday – forcing me to pay a moving in fee for arriving early.

2) It also states it runs from the 11th till the 18th, implying that the last act will be on the 18th and the site closes on the 19th. In the small print, it actually states that the site has to be cleared by 10am on the 18th. My flight out wasn’t till the 19th, meaning I was stuck in Budapest for the day and most of the night (not that this was such a terrible thing, but it wasn’t made clear at the time of purchase).

3) The bag check system needs to be improved. We queued for upwards of half an hour each time we re-entered the festival. All bag check desks need to be open at all times, and the number of desks needs to be increased (and/or there should be a separate lane, decided at wristband check, for those without bags).

4) To avoid people smuggling drink, the price of spirits on the island needs to be more in line with the price of shop bought spirits. For example, you could buy a bottle of Vodka (50cl) for 1400 HUF, and they were selling Vodka Soda’s for upwards of 1300 HUF. Even beers, whilst only 650 HUF, were still hugely inflated from the shop price of 160-200 (ish) HUF.

5) The number of showers need to be doubled at the very least. I had to queue for at least forty five minutes for the showers, even at ‘off-peak’ times (after midday), almost every single day.

6) As all camping is on the festival site, there needs to be a decibel limit after midnight. Not everyone wants to stay up till 6am every night of the festival, particularly as sound checks start as early as 9am. Either this, or there needs to be a separate ‘quiet zone’ (other than the family camping).

7) When you have big screens use them to show what is on stage, rather than just the Sziget logo. The A38 tent has a huge screen which actually blocks the stage, and all you could see was the logo.

8) Improve the maps around the campsite. Almost none of them actually had a ‘you are here’ point on them, and often things were on the opposite side of the path than the map indicated.

9) Indicate in each colour area which area you are in. For example, put yellow crosses on all the trees in the yellow zone, red in the red etc. Unless you are next to one of the big attractions it is impossible to tell which zone you are in.

10) The airport needs to have enough City Pass Wristbands. I was forced to pay for a taxi as they had run out and the paper document alone doesn’t count.

All this being said, I would really recommend going to this festival. All of the acts I saw were incredible and for the most part I had a great time. If you went to Sziget or have been in the past, let me know if you agree with what I've said - you can tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Top Ten: Personal Festival Rules

I’ve just got back from a 10 day festival, and as exhausted as I am I really want to get back into the routine of blogging. So, without further ado, here are my top festival rules.

1) The number one rule for all festivals is pretty much, when you go to the toilet, don’t look down. At night, this is okay, as you can’t see anything in those portaloos anyway. In the day time… its more ‘Shrek, I’m looking down!’

2) Bring a decent tent, sleeping bag, roll mat (or air bed if you can fit one in) and pillow. I didn’t bring a pillow and deeply regretted it. If you can fit a camping chair in too (or at least a waterproof floor mat) then do, as you’ll want something to sit on that isn’t the muddy floor. I forgot about this last one, and was super lucky that the other people I was camping with hadn’t!

3) Have a system for packing your clothes, including a separate bag/compartment for dirties. This way, you don’t crumple all your clothes when you’re searching for a certain item, and you’re not putting muddy/smelly clothes next to clean ones.

4) Pack lots of light layers. It will hopefully be warm and sunny in the day time, but as the evening goes on it can get pretty cold. Jumpers and leggings are super helpful as pull ons, and thick socks for sleeping are a good call too.

5) Pack a rain mac/ emergency poncho. No matter what the forecast says, it will rain at some point and you’ll be very grateful for it. Once you’re wet it can be hard to get dry again, and you’ll probably make everything else wet too.

6) Wear old, comfortable shoes. They’ll probably get super muddy and you’ll be wearing them all day, so they need to be supportive. I’m currently sporting a swollen foot because my shoes weren’t supportive enough and aggravated an old ballet injury.

7) If you can shower, do shower, but be prepared for mammoth queues and lots of nudity. It feels so much better to be clean. If you can’t shower, or you have to pay for the showers, then baby wipes and dry shampoo are a must.

8) Avoid wearing layers of make-up. I saw in Zoella’s festivalmake-up video that she put on foundation, concealer, blusher and bronzer. I would avoid all that stuff – the more gunk you have to put on your face the more you have to take off, and with only make-up wipes you don’t want to risk getting a breakout from sleeping in day old make-up. I pretty much only put on eye make-up (mascara, eyeliner, maybe shadow) the entire time I was at the festival. No-one really cares what you look like so long as you’re having fun. In her video, Zoey also wore light coloured clothes. Whilst this is a classic festival look, it will get muddy and mud is hard to get off whites properly.

8) Plan out what you want to see and do at the start of the festival. This way you know who you really want to see and you can avoid sudden realisation of clashes. Other than this, go with the flow and don’t be afraid of seeing new acts that you haven’t heard off. Don’t be afraid from splitting up from the group if you want to see someone and other people want to see someone else, just make sure you arrange a meeting point afterward and keep your phones switched on. Try and stay in pairs, though (particularly important if you’re a girl and it’s later at night).

9) Bring bottled water (or buy it on site). I don’t trust festival water at all, and never fill up your bottle unless it specifically states its drinking water.

10) Bring fruit – apples and oranges are great pick me ups. Chances are you’ll be abusing your body with alcohol, sleep deprivation, and junk food. A bite of fruit is not only good for you but it will provide a welcome change from greasy burgers and chips or dry biscuits.

Lastly, have fun. There will be ups and downs during your festival, particularly as you’re more than likely be in a tent with a couple of people and no matter how close friends you are, lacking personal space (and sleep deprivation) can cause friction. But try not to let these phase you. Just enjoy your time and try not to worry about missing acts too much.

I really enjoyed my festival experience, and even though there are some things I wished I’d done differently there are more things I wished I could do again and again.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since the film came out (which I still haven’t seen), so when I was looking for birthday presents for my dad in and saw this book in a charity shop I picked it up.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is an epistolary novel – narrated by Kevin’s mother Eva in letters to her husband Franklin. It details Eva’s memories of growing up with Kevin, the strained family dynamic he created and Eva’s life after Kevin’s massacre. It is a dark, haunting book (although not without its moment so of lightness) and isn’t the easiest read.
I really struggled to get into this book. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found the writing style confused. Eva was either writing memories down verbatim, or listing off endless things about her life which she thought were going to happen but didn’t, or flitting around time frames and memories. There was no consistent style, and it wasn’t giving me what I wanted from the book, which was an insight into the relationship between Kevin and his mother, and also a view into both their minds – Kevin as the committer of mass murder and Eva as the mother of a mass murderer. I found myself wanting a lot more from the novel than it was giving me – I wanted to hear Franklin’s side of the story, I wanted more depth rather than the background width we were getting.

However, around about 150 or so pages into the novel something clicked into place. I think once Eva stopped focussing on her life before Kevin, and even her life before Franklin and all the things she thought her husband would be, the novel became a lot more streamlined and goal driven, which it should have been from the start. From this point onwards the novel became very interesting and a lot darker. A lot of the questions I was asking of the novel got answered (namely, why didn’t she just leave, and why is she the one visiting Kevin every two weeks).

Overall, I did enjoy this novel. It was a mostly interesting look into the mind of a mother whose son committed murder, and we also get an insight into Kevin’s own mind from the person who knew him best. I really want to see the film now, so I might be posting a book-to-film review once I’ve done that.

My edition of We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver was published in the UK by Serpents Tail and released in 2005. Originally it was published in the US by Perseus Books and was released in 2003.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This book has received buckets of hype over the past few months, so when I saw it for 99p on Kindle I thought I might as well check it out and see what all the fuss was about.

In all but one of the ‘reviews’ I’ve seen, people literally lie about the plot of the book, which is what made it so intriguing for me to want to read, so here are a couple of examples of that if you don’t want to know the truth about We Were Liars. As usual, my review will be spoiler free, but if you do want to read it totally fresh, then please check out the videos I’ve linked and come back here once you’ve read it to see if you agree with my take on it.

On to the actual review: 

We Were Liars is the story of the very rich, very beautiful, very old, Sinclair family as told from the perspective of Cadence, the eldest grandchild. Every summer, the whole family gets together on their family’s island (somewhere off the coast of America in the Arctic Ocean), and the Liars (Cadence, Johnny, Gat and Mirren – the four oldest grandchildren) congregate. One summer, Cadence has an accident which leaves her memory severely damaged and gives her increasingly awful migraines, and she is banned from going to the island the following summer. Furious, and missing her cousins who don’t speaks between summers, she demands to go back to the island, if only for a few weeks, the next summer. When she arrives, the old houses have been knocked down and rebuilt, and all of her grandmother’s heirlooms have been sold off or destroyed. It is with this backdrop of catastrophic change that Cadence begins (with the help of the Liars) to piece back together the summer of her accident.

This story really lived up to its hype. It was mysterious and intriguing enough, whilst still letting me as a reader piece things together a few pages or paragraphs before Cadence did. I really enjoyed the metaphor of self-harm which accompanied Cadence talking about pain or emotional trauma, but obviously if you find this stuff triggering then I’d recommend avoiding this book. The whole premise of the story was believable, but I found it difficult it place in time. The nature of a grand old family with a summer island feels very 60’s to me, so when they would casual mention email, Facebook and mobile phones it felt very jarring – I felt like this book didn’t know what time it was meant to be in, but not always in a good way. I really enjoyed the short allegorical passages where Cadence tries to figure out her families dynamic, and I also really liked the structure of the text on the page, with line breaks between half formed thoughts.

On the Kindle, I couldn’t flick back and forth between the family tree (at the front of the book) and the story, and because there are so many grandchildren who aren’t a huge part of the story, I found myself getting confused as to who was who and which child belonged to which parent. The introduction of Gat and Ed made this even more difficult (they aren’t featured in the family tree at all). If I was reading a print book it may have remedied the problem, but even so I still had problems ageing most of the other children – to Cadence they were just younger so I felt like Lockhart didn’t bother maintaining a specific age for them and in my mind the twins in particular drifted from being 6 to being 12 or 13.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The short chapters meant I could storm through it and it’s a great YA read.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is published by Hot Key Books and was released in May 2014.

Monday, 4 August 2014

An Apology and An Explaination

Hello all,

This is just a quick post to apologise for the irregular posting you will experience over the following week or so. I got back from Austria the other day, and am off to Sziget Festival in Budapest on Sunday (let me know if you'll be there too!). I thought I'd be able to queue up a load of posts so my schedule wouldn't get disrupted, but over the past couple of days I've been suffering from the kind of cold which stops you from doing anything remotely constructive and is basically one huge pity party - meaning that I haven't got half of the stuff ready for Hungary as I was hoping to. That is my number one priority, so getting together the kind of post I want to put up (re: Austria tales) is having to go on the back burner for the time being. 

To make up for my lack of posts, here are a couple of blogs which I love and hope you'll enjoy too!

Katie - Blogging her pearls of wisdom about day to day life.
Rosie - Nearly daily posts about her experiences teaching English in Thailand.

Both girls are wonderful, not only as writers but also as people, and both are very dear friends of mine. 

To keep up with my blog with its slightly irregular schedule, if you have a blogger you can use the follow function on your dashboard (simply type in the URL ( of the blog to get updates) or if not I'll be tweeting when I post whilst in England, and will do catch up tweets (@VickiMaitland) when I get back from Hungary.

Thanks for your continued support and understanding, it means so much to me. Now for an old time sign off...

Best Wishes,


Saturday, 2 August 2014

July Wrap-Up/ August TBR

Before I started writing this I thought that I'd had a bad reading month. Turns out, checking out my Goodreads, that I'd actually had a pretty good reading month - mostly thanks to BT's shoddy service and Patrick Ness's incredible writing.

So the first books I read in July were The Ask and The Answer, Monsters Of Men  and More Than This by Patrick Ness. I powered through the whole Chaos Walking Series in a matter of days, and moved straight onto More Than This during my Patrick Ness binge. My review of The Chaos Walking Series can be found here.

I then read The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I was going to, and even though I felt it could still have done with an edit (a fact I've excused as my copy is a proof copy and not the final edition), it was pretty enjoyable, sweet and lighthearted. I really liked the character of Tara, Lucy was the perfect mixture of infuriating and sympathetic, and even if the plot was a tad predictable it was still fun to read - mostly because of the period it was set in (the 50's-60's).

Next on my list was Trouble by Non Pratt - the story of a 15 year old who finds herself pregnant and the new boy at school who pretends to be the father. Once I got into the story I found it surprisingly touching and deep, particularly as I really did not like the girls voice in the first couple of 'chapters'.

The last book I finished this month was the much anticipated and reviewed We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. For me, it pretty much lived up to the hype, and you'll be able to read my review soon.

I also started We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Its taken me a while to get into but I'm really enjoying it so far, and I'm about 3/4 of the way through.

All I'm going to say for my August TBR is that I'd like to finish We Need To Talk About Kevin. I want to start on some of the critical reading for my Trauma module, and work on planning my dissertation properly, so reading isn't no.1 on my list of priorities this month (although that probably means I'll procratinate by reading)