Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween 2014

Although I hate horror films, can't stand gore, and not very good with jump scares, I love Halloween. There is something about this time of year, when its starting to turn colder, the leaves falling off the trees, which is just a little magical - and its all summed up in Halloween.

For my university's newspaper I wrote up a couple of my favourite Halloween recipes - because what would Halloween be without pumpkin soup and stuffed jacket potatoes! The flavours of Autumn are really summed up in these dishes for me - sweet and smokey and delicious. I also love being able to walk into a coffee shop and pick up a huge chai latte - somehow it tastes better in the Autumn.

Never one to miss an opportunity to dress up, this year I went as Mona the Vampire! (I had a Halloween party a few days ago, and am going as her again to the party I've got tonight).

I made the cape myself and had so much fun playing with the makeup. You can't really tell in the photo, but I have a mountain of blush on my cheeks to make them super pink and rosy! 

Its a strange thing to say, but everything is feeling very festive at the moment: I think it's something to do with the hour change making the evenings so dark. It all feels very Christmas-y, warm and cozy and loved.

This has been a bit of an odd post, so sorry about that, but I just wanted to document a small section of my life - a moment of silliness and frivolity hidden away within the stress of deadlines and final year stuff!

All that's left to say is Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Spooky Scary SkeleTAG/ The Halloween Tag

This tag was created by the wonderful Anna Fox (aka Annavslife) and although she didn't tag me in it as it is the week of All Hallows Eve I thought I'd give it a go!

1) What's your favourite horror movie? I am not a horror movie fan. I don't like gore, I don't like jump-scares. Just no. It doesn't appeal. However, if you add some singing in, then its fine by me, so my favourite horror-style movie is probably Sweeney Todd (the Tim Burton version).

2) If you were in a horror movie, how far do you think you'd get? I don't think I'm main character material, but nor am I unfit enough/motivation enough to be killed off early. I'd give myself a solid 15-20 minutes of running around screaming before I was offed.

3) Favourite scary video game? I'm not really a gamer, and overall prefer board games to anything else. However, I have played the odd game of Plants vs Zombies in my time... so that will have to be my choice.

4) Favourite scary story? I do enjoy the odd scary book (or perhaps tension filled book is a better way to describe it - again not good with the gore) and my favourite was this series of creepy stories that this kid was getting told by either his uncle or an old man in a house and I can never remember what it is called and I don't own it and it bugs me. But that book.

5) What's one unusual thing you are afraid of? I hate windows at night when the lights are on inside. It really creeps me out that I don't know who could be looking in but they could see everything. When I was really little I used to have nightmares that lots of people would be crowed outside my bedroom window behind the curtains waiting for me to open them. Creepy.

6) What's your first memory of Halloween? I was never raised particularly Halloween-y as Mum thought it was a stupid Americanised holiday (although she'd always let us dress up), but we would always hollow out a pumpkin and make pumpkin soup - and the taste of it always reminds me of home.

7) What's your favourite memory of Halloween? A few years ago, a group of friends and I went on a spooky walk around a water garden. There were actors dressed up to creep out of the shadows, tombstones, general Halloween decor. I remember running around giggling a screaming five or six times before we could be dragged home.

8) Best Halloween costume? When I was little mum would make these elaborate costumes and wigs and do all mine and my sisters make-up, and I remember looking very spooky in them. Recently, although not for Halloween, I dressed up as Belatrix and everyone said I looked scary!

9) Worst Halloween costume? I tired to go as Morticia Addams the other year, but a walk in the rain turned my make-up and straightened hair into a total mess!

Which is scarier...

10) Werewolves or Vampires? Probably werewolves, as I think it would be harder to appeal to their human side once they had shifted.

11) Ghosts or Zombies? Zombies for sure, although little girl ghosts are terrifying!

12) Creepy Dolls or Creepy Clowns? I always fins clowns a little bit creepy, so when a doll is scary I get more freaked out than when a clown is. So, doll.

13) Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers or Leatherface? This will show how much I don't watch horror films as I only recognise Freddy and Leatherface. And I thought Michael Myers was Austin Powers...  So after a quick google, Leatherface is visually the most intimidating, so I'll say him.

There is my (somewhat feeble) attempt at the Halloween tag. Let me know if you give this tag a go either by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @VickiMaitland.

Friday, 24 October 2014

What's In My Bag (October 2014)

They say its not polite to look in a ladies handbag, but I thought I'd give you a sneak preview into mine!

Here you can see what I carry around with me on a day to day basis. My bag is tiny, so if ever I never a bigger one I normally just pop the whole thing inside the larger bag and carry on from there.

Clockwise from the top left:

Radley Purse - It's just big enough to fit my cards and a bit of cash in. It was a gift from my aunt for my 16th and I love it.

Slim Panty Liner - Even though I don't use these, its always useful to have one, just in case.

Small Plaster - I take this bag on nights out and its never nice dancing on a blister

Tampon - Again just in case I start my flow earlier than I expect.

Medium and Large Plaster - Pretty self explanatory.

Handbag - It is super tiny and great for nights out. I got it from my local market.

Compact - I have always wanted one and this one is super cute. It's from Lisa Angel.

Hema Lipstick - In the shade 06, my current favourite. It hardly ever needs reapplying, but I carry it just in case.

Pencil and Diary - Now that it's third year I need a diary to keep myself in order.

Paracetamol - I suffer from stress headaches quite a lot so I always carry a couple of these with me. I round off the edges so I don't slice my hand open though!

Phone - I'm currently looking for a replacement as this one is getting on for three years old and is starting to wear out a tad! It isn't a smart phone either, so I have very limited internet access on it.

Want to give me a peak into your handbag? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Empties #1

I've been saving up these bottles and bits for so long - almost since I came back from Austria - and I think I've finally got enough to make a decent empties post.

E.L.F Pressed Powder in Buff. I loved this product so much not only did I re-purchase it but I also got it in a lighter shade so I could wear it all year round! It applies really well using a brush (for lighter coverage). The application pad that it comes with gives much heavier coverage and isn't as easy to use. I wore this product almost daily over summer, as it gives a really natural matte finish.

Another E.L.F product which I've re-purchased is their Liquid Eyeliner in Black. It applies pretty well, doesn't sting or burn like other cheap eyeliners I've used, and is generally good value for money.

You might remember me saying how excited I was for this product back before summer. It's Superdrug's Uplifting Red Cherry and Fig Conditioner. This product was pretty 'meh' for me. It wasn't as moiturising as I'd have liked it to be and I had to use a pretty big palmful to get the results I was after. I will try a different Superdrug conditioner though, as I'm determined to find good, cruelty free hair products, but I won't be buying this one again. I'm still working through the shampoo in the same scent.

I've used this Simple Kind To Eyes Nourishing Eye Make-up Remover Cream for years! Clearly I really like it. It feels like you're doing something nice to your face by taking off your makeup, rather than putting chemicals on it to burn off other chemicals. When this one ran out I didn't have a chance to re-purchase it, but I'm definitely going to go back to it as soon as I can. My only problem with this product is the packaging - the lid almost always breaks, making it awkward to store.

Another Simple product that I've been using is this Kind To Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub. My mum got this for me on a two for one deal thinking it would be good to take travelling etc and I hadn't thought much of it till my other exfoliator ran out and I began using this everyday. It gives good results and, as it's pretty moisturising, it feels nice on your skin too. I've got a small stock pile of these, so I'll keep working my way through them, but I'm looking to switch to a more environmentally sustainable exfoliant. I will say that this does use rice granules rather than micro-beads, which is better but still not fabulous. 

Another product that I've used for years is this Shockwaves Curls and Waves Mousse. I use it everyday and I love it. I'm so gutted it isn't cruelty free though, and I am looking to switch, so if you've got any suggestions leave a comment and let me know!

This B. Undereye Concealer in Light/Medium has been great, and I repurchased it a while back. I use it everyday and think it really brightens up my eyes.

Olay Complete Care SPF 15 Daily Fluid for Normal/Oily Skin. I inherited my love of this product from my mum, who has used it everyday since I can remember. It soaks in really quickly and sits really lightly on your face - you only need a tiny bit to go a long way. Plus it has SPF 15 in it, which is a huge moisturiser must for me. When my new one runs out, I am going to switch to Superdrug's own brand version as I really want a cruelty free moisturiser, but I'll be sad to see this one go!

Last but not least, Vaseline Active Fresh 48h Protection Pro Derma Anti-perspirant-deodorant. I love this deodorant. It applies really well and doesn't take ages to soak in and dry which is my main issue with most other deodorants. I really want a deodorant which doesn't have anti-perspirant in it, but until that day I will keep using this product.

I hope that post was helpful - let me know which products you can't help but re-purchase in the comments, or tweet me

Friday, 17 October 2014

On Honesty

Increasingly I am led to believe that honesty is truly the best policy. Not only being honest with others (which really is the only way you can have a good relationship with them) but also being honest with yourself.

I can’t count the amount of time I’ve made To-Do lists with 20 odd items on them and been disappointed at the end of the day if I’ve only done half of them. The amount of times I’ve set myself a word count to reach by the end of the hour and been gutted when I’m 50 or 100 or 300 words away.

Having goals and aspirations is great, but if you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me then not reaching goals can be the most destructive thing you can do to yourself. I know when I don’t reach a goal I’ve set myself not only am I disappointed in myself but I also become disheartened with the activity I’m doing and often that is the end of my productivity.

Recently I’ve started writing To-Do’s with two headings. Under the first heading are the things I absolutely must do today – things like doing the reading for next week’s class, washing up the mess I made the night before or writing a certain number of words for my dissertation. Under the second heading are the things I need to do but aren’t as urgent as the first. Things like writing a blog post, or putting on a second load of washing, or painting my nails. Not only does this mean I prioritise right from the start of the day, but I also feel great when I start crossing off things on the second list.

However, this has got to come with some stern talking from yourself. If you find yourself not doing tasks that you really should be doing (and you can’t just set lower total goals) you need to ask yourself why. Most of the time when I’m not doing the things I need to it’s because the thing I need to do is intimidating me, or because I can’t be bothered to put in the effort. In scenario’s like this (usually essay writing in my case) I find it really helpful to set lots of tiny goals with tiny rewards for achieving them – so long as all these tiny goals add up to the daily goal. For example, if I can write 250 words in the next half an hour I can get a biscuit with my cup of tea. If I go over the word limit or get so into it that I go over the time limit, I can watch a YouTube video. Small goals met boost my enthusiasm for a task, and usually mean that I perform better.

In summary – be honest with yourself. Be honest with what you can achieve in a day. If you’re consistently underachieving, ask yourself why and be honest with your answer. Being straight talking with yourself will really help, honestly.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (book to movie)

One day, about a year and a half ago, I came home from work to find my mum at the door, red eyed and turtleneck stained three shades darker with tears. I immediately hugged her, thinking something terrible had happened, and asked her what was wrong.

‘I’m watching a really good film!’ she choked out. The next day, I made us both cups of tea and we sat down to watch it together, my first time and her second. This was the start of my relationship with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Usually I hate seeing the movie before reading the book, and have abstained from watching many a film because I haven’t read the book yet (namely, Perks of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas – both of which I have now read and seen), but after seeing my mum’s reaction I simply couldn’t wait to watch this film. It really didn’t disappoint.

The little boy who plays Oskar (Thomas Horn) is either exceptionally talented or extremely well cast. He manages to capture so much emotion with such a young face, and is totally heart breaking. Tom Hanks as the dad is wonderful, even though for most of the film he is only a voice – what a voice. Sandra Bullock reminds us that she is more than a romcom actor. The whole film is done very very well. I really recommend seeing it.

I’ve recently had to read the book for my course, and although I didn’t happy/sad cry throughout the whole thing I did well up on a number of occasions. It is just as spectacular as the film, or should I be saying that the film captures the wonder of the book. The language is beautiful, dripping with emotion. The transition of voice between Oskar, Grandma and the silent man is excellently done – they each have such a specific voice which is so unique to them – and it was lovely to hear more backstory for these characters (I can’t remember getting that in the film). The way the text lays on the page, interspersed with images in some cases, is stunning. It is a very visual read for something which is so deeply preoccupied with sound and vocalised words.

I don’t want to say too much more as I really don’t want to spoil it, but please, please read the book, see the film. It doesn’t matter which order you do it in, just do it. I don’t want to say anything more as I really don’t want to spoil it, but here is the synopsis on the back of the book:

‘In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key…

The key belonged to his father, he’s sure of that. But which of New York’s 162 million locks does it open?

So begins a quest that takes Oskar – inventor, letterwriter, and amateur detective – across New York’s five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will I take him and closer to, or even further from, his lost father?’

Friday, 10 October 2014

The 'Feminism is my Jam' Tag

This tag was created by Kristina (@KristinaHorner) in coalition with Feminist Apparel (so sorry for the obvious plug in the last question). I was not tagged by anybody, but wanted to join in the fun! Here goes!

1) How and when did you realise you were a feminist? I think I was probably 17 when I began to identify as a feminist. I always knew I was interested in women's issues, but when I began to expand my online world from the realm of young British male YouTubers into a more female centered one that was when I really learnt about feminism. I studied is as a political ideology during my A Levels and found myself getting more and more passionate. I'm still learning though, so if you ever feel the need to call me out on something please do!

2) What is your favourite feminist book/movie/song? Its not strictly feminist but I love Lily Allen's F*** You (I'm asterisking just in case) as it is super bolshy and empowering. I also love the Sister Suffragettes song from Mary Poppins. My favourite TV show is Parks and Recreation, which is super empowering and has such strong female roles.

3) Where do you go to read up on current feminist topics? Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook - I make sure the people I follow are people who are interested in and support feminism. I'm also a member of my universities feminist society, and their weekly discussion groups are really interesting.

4) How do you 'treat yo' self'? Buying makeup and home-ware is a huge treat for me. I'm just starting to really get into make-up and it can be really expensive when I want to try out everything. I'm also trying to make my room look more homely this year, so investing in candles, pot plants and flowers is a big treat.

5) What is the most effective way to explain feminism to a newbie? Going slowly and being patient with them is very important. Calling them out and explaining why you are calling them out is also important. I'd also probably show them Emma Watson's He for She speech as it is a great starting point for people who are ignorant to feminist ideas.

6) Fill in the blank: I kick the patriarchy to the curb by _____? Like Kristina, I think speaking up and calling out are the best ways to get feminism heard. I also try to support female creators where I can, and I'd estimate that a good 90% of my YouTube feed and Tumblr dash is female ran.

7) Do you have any feminist YouTubers to recommend? Rosianna, Leena, Lex, Anna... The list could go on.

8) What is your favourite Feminist Apparel t-shirt? I love the 'Cats Against Catcalls' tee as well as the 'I Think Your Sexist Jokes Are Boring' one. Sadly I own neither, but would love to if I had the money.

I tag anyone who wants to take part, as well as the ladies at Parallel Magazine (you can support their kickstarter here)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Make-up Haul #2

I was starting to run out of a couple of things, so I caved to my needs and bought a couple of bits and bobs. Most of these are just re-buys because I ran out, but there are a couple of new bits too. Sorry for the awful picture quality, I'm back to using my webcam in my badly lit uni room!

Anti-Clockwise from top.

1) E.L.F Lengthening and Volumising Mascara (Waterproof) in Black (£3.95) I had this product in the non-waterproof version and its just starting to run out, so I thought I'd get the waterproof one in time for winter. 
2) E.L.F Liquid Eyeliner in Black (£1.95) This is a re-purchase. Its a decent product for the price and my old one has started to crack and dry out after being carted around all summer at festivals.
3) E.L.F Pressed Powder in Sand (£3.95) This is a shade lighter than the one I got before so hopefully it will see me through the winter months when my skin is less tanned.
4) E.L.F Pressed Powder in Buff (£3.95) This is another re-purchase as I really like the finish it gives.
5) Hema Longer Lasting Lipstick in 05 (£4.25) This is my first new buy. I got it on recommendation from Sanne (@booksandquills) as I was desperate for a long lasting red lippy. I've tried it out today and so far it's doing a stellar job.
6) Hema Longer Lasting Lipstick in 06 (£4.25) I also bought the shade darker because I was worried that the 05 might have slightly too orange tones in it. Shipping was £4, so it made sense in my mind to get the extra or else I would have been paying £8 for one lippy, rather than £6 each for the two. 

With the Hema products I also got a couple of stroopwafels (Dutch Waffles), so that was a really nice surprise when I opened it! Still don't think it quite justified the amount of packing for the product size though!!

Friday, 3 October 2014

On Putting Myself Out There

About (just over) a month ago I was dumped. There’s no getting round it. I felt (and still do feel) all the things you’d normally associate with being dumped – unwanted, unattractive, unsexy. Lots of ‘un’s. If you want to read any of my creative responses to being dumped, examples can be found here and here.

One of the main causes of our break-up was our lack of communication about how we really felt. I’m not talking about opinions on what movie we wanted to watch or what food place we wanted to eat at, but on what we actually felt about, and for, each other. There was a number of reasons on both sides why we never really communicated this (vocally or written), but one of the main reasons on my part is my shyness.

I have always been and will always be shy about my emotions. I’m usually an exceedingly happy person, but when I have other emotions – more personal emotions – I’m not really sure what to do about them or how to share them. I’m getting better and I’m learning, but it’s a long process.

I am not looking for anything new. I spent two very happy years with my ex, and one month isn’t long enough to re-adjust to a life that he’s not in. That said…

The other day I was out clubbing with my housemates, and whilst waiting at a bar a couple of guys struck up a conversation with me because they thought I was friends with their friend – the girl I happened to be stood next to at the time. I wasn’t, but we kept chatting whilst waiting for drinks, and at the end of it I got one of the guy’s numbers. Admittedly the situation was more that his mate wanted to set him up rather than the guy himself looking for a hook up, but nevertheless. I text him my number, got my drink, and thought nothing of it.

A couple of days passed and I remembered the guy. I remembered I had his number. I remembered thinking he was interesting, and he had a cute accent, and I was interested in getting to know him a bit better. Normally, this is the time old Vicki would wait for him to text (which is actually what my housemates encouraged) but new Vicki couldn’t really be bothered to wait around for that to happen. So I text him, and asked if he wanted to meet up for a coffee sometime.

The feeling after I pressed send was amazing. I was so proud of myself. It didn’t matter to me what his response was – at the end of the day he’s just a guy who I don’t know and probably will never see again – but the thing that always had held me back in the past, the fear of rejection, wasn’t there. It felt good. I’d even go so far as to say that I felt powerful.

Ultimately nothing came of it: he replied and let me know it wasn’t a good time for him at the moment, and I responded letting him know if his situation changed then he could text me.

A couple of years back the remarkable Rosianna made a video titled ‘Ask Out Your Barista’ in which she gave sage advice for final year uni students (of which I am now one). I always wanted to be that girl – the girl confident enough to put herself out there and not care about the consequences. Now, in some small way, I think I’m getting there. And I’m so proud of that. It’s also made me more prepared to do things like this in the future, if only for the boost of self-confidence (empowerment?) it gave me.

If you’re in a position where you think you might be interested in someone or want to know them better, ask them for a drink. From my very limited experience, it’s a much nicer feeling to know where you stand than it is to pine over someone and worry that what you might say will ruin something, be it a friendship or relationship. And you never know, they might just say yes.