Tuesday, 31 March 2015

#reviewsdaytuesday: University of East Anglia's English Literature with Creative Writing (Q3W8) Couse

For the past 3 years I've studied on UEA's English Literature with Creative Writing course, and over that time I've formed a couple of opinions on it that might be useful to anyone looking to apply to a creative writing programme.

The course is technically split 75% English with 25% Writing, but over the course of your degree you can definitely move that toward the 50%-50% mark. I took 5/16 modules in creative writing, but two of those are weighted more heavily than the others, and at least 3 of my other modules offered the chance to be assessed on my creative writing rather than writing an essay.

All information I'm providing is based on my own experience and may not be up to date, so please check with the uni website if you're keen on applying for this course.

I'm going to go through year by year, module by module and give a brief explanation of what each module entails and my thoughts about it. This is going to be a very wordy post, which I can only apologise for.

First Year

There are no optional modules in first year for creative writing students (in my experience).

Literature in History 1 - Dossier based module looking at texts moving from middle English through to the 1900s. Taught as a 1hr lecture and 2hr seminar each week, with up to 15 people per seminar group. Assessed in two essays.

- I enjoyed this module, although on reflection I think that was just because it was my first module at uni. I don't think I really took much from it. It doesn't really prepare its students for university study (in terms of what it asks you to read week by week), but the seminar lecture structure is good. I can barely remember anything about it - other than it being the place where I met one of my house/best mates, and that the seminar leader was very good.

Reading Texts 1 - Up to 6 people per 1hr seminar. Subject matter based on tutors interests. I studied Katherine Mansfield and some war poetry. Assessed in two essays.

- I really enjoyed this module. My tutor was very old (picture a classic, tea-stained professor and you're on the right track) so the seminar was very slow but very interesting. The reading material was really good too - although we were given minimal critical work to look over (unlike some of my friends who had critical heavy material).

Introduction to Creative Writing - Follows Andrew Cowan's The Art of Writing Fiction, taught in 2hr seminar. Mostly focused on the craft of writing, with opportunities to share writing but no workshop space. Assessed in two short stories and one critical self commentary.

- My favourite module of first year. A really good introductory course, although I wish we had moved away from the book more often. I could have done 90% of the course by just reading the book. It's also a poor module for people interested in poetry or script, and offers little to no help in that area.

Literature in History 2 - 'Realism'. One book to read per week. 1hr lecture and 2hr seminar structure. Up to 15 people per seminar group. Assessed in one essay and one exam.

- I enjoyed this module too, and it was the one which best prepared me for the rest of my university career - mostly because of its quick turnaround reading times.

Reading Texts 2 - Focus on one longer novel and one critical text. 6 people per 2hr seminar. Assessed in two essays.

- I studied Dostoyevski and Adorno for this module and found it very challenging. My tutor was incredible and really increased my enjoyment of this module.

Writing Texts - Theory intensive. 1hr lecture and 2hr seminar structure. Up to 15 people per seminar. Assessed as one critical creative essay and one standard essay.

- My least favourite module from my degree. The quality of both lectures and seminars was poor - interesting and useful material wasn't delivered very effectively. This was partially due to my seminar tutor's total lack of self confidence, which made my entire class very apathetic about their work.

So, for my first year, I really enjoyed 4/6 modules, found 1/6 'meh' and hated the last.

Second Year

Second year is the year where things count, and it's also the year where creative writing students have a choice in the modules they pick.

UEA splits their modules into A, B and C. I had to pick 3 modules from block A, 1 from block B and 1 from block C (leaving me with two free choices that I could pick from any school in the university). It's also worth noting that block C had only creative writing options.

If you're a non-creative writing student you also get the option to join a creative writing introductory module at this stage, and if you want to carry on to a higher level creative writing module to have a achieve a certain standard (I think 68%).

As a final note, UEA has a ridiculous policy where 40 credits of your degree have to come from pre-1789 literature (or a Y-code module). Each second year module is worth 20 credits, each third year module is 30. I hate this policy with a passion. We are paying £9,000 a year for our course, we should get to study thing we are actually interested in. If UEA wants us to study pre-1789 modules, I think they should make it a larger part of first year study, so students can make an informed decision on whether or not they want to continue to study from that period.

18th Century Writing - Studying 1700-1788. Books include Treasure Island and Gulliver's Travels. 1hr lecture and 2hr seminar, with up to 15 people per seminar. Assessed in two essays. Filled one of my pre-1789 requirements.

- My least favourite module of second year, purely because of the reading list. I didn't enjoy any of the literary texts at all. Lectures were quite interesting, seminar less so but that was probably a combination of the group I was in and my seminar tutor rather than content itself. I took it purely because it filled up one of my Y-code module slots!

Creative Writing: Prose - A workshop based module. Assessed in two short stories and one critical self commentary. Up to 15 people per 2hr seminar group.

- I really enjoyed this module. I love reading and editing other peoples work, and I like hearing feedback on my own work. There is no safer space than around a creative writing editorial table and (apart from one girl who overstepped the critical mark) it was a productive environment to be in.

Creative Writing: Poetry - Half workshop, half analytical. Assessed in two poetry collections, one self commentary and one short essay on another poem from an anthology. Up to 15 people per 2hr seminar.

- I know I have just said there is no safer space than around a creative writing table, but some people in this particular seminar group didn't agree. For a lot of us it was our first time in a poetry specific module, and our tutor expected a lot from us. I personally got on with her very well and really liked that she pushed us, but I know a few other people struggled and found her quite harsh - but that's all personal taste. I liked this module on the whole, although I would have liked some more guided reading through the anthology we were given.

Shakespeare - 1hr lecture, 2 hr seminar structure (up to 15 people per seminar). Almost 1 play per week. Assessed in one essay and one exam. Fulfilled one of my pre-1789 requirements.

- I have very mixed feelings about this module. I loved my seminar leader and group, but on reflection I don't know how conducive that combination was to me actually learning anymore about Shakespeare plays. I found the reading of the plays pretty tough (if you do study Shakespeare try and find a copy to watch his plays, or at the very least read them out with spark notes close to hand!). Most of the lectures were pretty good, although we had one lecturer who consistently overran - on one occasion he looked at his watch and said 'Oh bollocks, I'm 45 minutes in and I haven't even started my lecture yet!'

Contemporary Writing - 2hr seminar with up to 15 people. Almost 1 book per week. Assessed as two essays.

- I loved this module. Although I didn't enjoy all of the books, the seminar leadership and structure more than made up for it, and I always left the class enjoying the books more than I went in. I cannot recommend this module more highly.

Three Woman Writers - 2hr seminar with up to 15 people. 5 books and 5 critical texts over the 12 weeks. Assessed with one essay and one exam. Focused on Woolf, Mansfield and Wharton.

- I have mixed feelings on this module. I enjoyed the books, but didn't get as much out of the critical as I had expected to. I also hated all of the essay questions we were given - it was as if our tutor forgot what we had been talking about in our seminars, or rather picked up on passing remarks and seized them like important points! I generally enjoyed the seminars, however, which says a lot considering it was 9am on a Wednesday morning (and the uni club night is a Tuesday!)

Third Year

As I said above, third year modules are worth 30 credits, so we only have four of them over the year. A dissertation is worth the same as any other module, and is not compulsory.

Creative Writing Dissertation: Prose - 3hrs of one-on-one tutorials spread across 12 weeks. 6,000 word short story with a 2,000 critical self commentary.

- I really enjoyed writing my dissertation. It was hard work, but so rewarding. I wrote a whole post on dissertations, so you can check that out for more in depth thoughts.

Traumatergies - 3hr seminar with up to 15 people per group. Mixture of theoretical texts and literary texts. Assessed through two 5% mini assessments, one 15% 'traumatergy' in the form of essay, creative writing, or any other creative form (I did a scrap book), one 75% written project (although that can also be creative, or sit on the boundary between creative and creative critical). Focused on how we write and think about trauma.

- I loved this module, and it was probably my favourite from my degree as a whole. Very theory intensive, and it is incredibly hard work but so rewarding and worth it. I'd had this module pegged from when I first joined the course and it was so worth it.

Creative Writing: Prose - 2hr seminar with up to 15 people. Workshop based. Assessed in two short stories and one critical self commentary.

- I've really enjoyed this module so far (I still have two weeks left). I love the work-shopping structure, although I know some people don't. As a class, we asked if we could have 3 hours rather than 2 as we felt shortchanged considering the amount of time given to literature students in their final year, and our seminar leader was very obliging.

The Art of Emotion - 3hr seminar with up to 15 people. Theory intensive module. Similar to traumatergies in structure, with two 5% pieces, one 10% project in any format, and one 80% written project which can also be creative. Focused on how we write and think about emotion.

- Again, I've really enjoyed this module. It has been very challenging but so worth while. I'm currently working on my 80% project (5,000 words) and it is tough but I'm getting to grips with it slowly! The module leader for this (same as traumatergies) is excellent, although her incontactability is sometimes an issue.

OVERALL - some points for improvement

I think the structure of the degree is very good, although some first year modules could be improved upon. I think the pre-1789 requirement is ridiculous, as provided people are given enough opportunity to explore pre-1789 texts in first year they should be trusted to decide if its an area they want to pursue.

Online submission of essays should be available for every module except in cases where it limits the form in which the response to a question could be demonstrated (ie, I couldn't have electronically submitted a scrapbook).

The HUB (the admin centre for our degree) is very flawed. Our work rarely gets returned within the 20 day turnaround, and they have been known to lose whole modules worth of coursework. Their email response system needs to be improved.

More meetings should be instigated by personal advisers throughout the three years. I have never felt the need to speak to my adviser about anything, so I have been reluctant to make an appointment with her. As a side note, I do not feel comfortable going to my adviser anyway, as I don't believe she is approachable for undergraduate students (although that is a personal matter, I have found that there are a number of tutors who appear to feel that teaching undergrads is beneath them, luckily I have encountered only one).

I have loved my course and my time at UEA. As much as I have mentioned the negative, most of that comes from an administration side of things. I have got on incredibly well with 80% of the tutors I have encountered and found them to be both engaging and engaged. If you're interested in a creative writing course, if UEA's reputation isn't enough to persuade you then I hope this is!

If you have any other questions about studying at UEA, feel free to tweet me @VickiMaitland (or DM me if it's something more private), or leave a comment below!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Top Non-Beauty Beauty Essentials

1) Cotton Buds/Q-Tips. These things are great for removing little bits of makeup when you go wrong/sneeze and cover your face in mascara (it's happened to the best of us).

2) Cotton Pads. Again great for removing make-up.

3) SudoCream. This is an antiseptic cream. It's sold on the baby aisle as a nappy rash cream, but it's great for cuts, burns and acne! (This is the only product not pictured as it was in my sisters room when I took the picture - sorry!)

4) Baby Shampoo. I use this as a cheap alternative to brush cleaner. It's super sensitive and contains no dodgy parabens etc so it's safe for your skin. Mine currently isn't cruelty free, but I'm sure you can get one from Superdrug which is.

5) Bongella. This technically isn't a beauty item, but I always ahve a tube of it around the house. It's great for mouth sores (a savoir for brace-days) or ulcers when you have a cold.

6) Tweezers. A decent pair is a must have, especially for us blessed with thick eyebrows.

7) Emery Board. If I get a snag on my nail I pick at it and normally end up making it so much worse and painful. Emery boards are a real life saver in these situations, and I always try to have one on me.

I've probably forgotten loads, but these are definitely my top items, and I can't go long without any of them!

What are your top non-beauty beauty essentials? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or tag me in your Instagram @vickimaitland

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Home for Easter

After what has felt like the longest 10 weeks of my uni life, I am finally home for spring break! Now, don't get me wrong, as I have said on many occasions I have loved my university experience and these last 10 weeks have been no exception. However, I am exhausted with everything. I've been in education for the last 17 years of my life and I am so ready for a change. I still want to learn, but learning in the work place is a different thing to 'book learning'. I still want to educate myself, but I want to do it on my terms without the pressure of essay deadlines. Mostly, I want to read a book that I want to read for the simple pleasure of reading it, rather than working my way through dense essays.

This spring break isn't a real break for me. I've got 8,500 words to write, 5,000 of which I need to do some serious research for before I can begin. I've got graduate jobs and internships to apply for. I'm so looking forward to seeing all my friends from home, but I've got so much work to do to! After Easter, I've only got 2 weeks left of my university experience. Scary stuff.

With all of this in mind, next week's post is going to be a mamouth #reviewsdaytuesday about the University of East Anglia's English Literature with Creative Writing (Q3W8) course, so if you have any questions please leave them in the comments below or send me a tweet/DM @VickiMaitland.

This has been somewhat of an anti-post, but I just wanted to give you enough time to think up any questions if you have any, or if you're on the course send me over your thoughts about it!

Friday's post will probably be my list of non-beauty beauty essentials, although it is my 21st tomorrow so if I get something exciting I might change my mind!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Day to Night Kylie Jenner Inspired Make Up Look (Cruelty Free, Drugstore)

As the title of this post suggests, today I'm going to show you my take on Kylie Jenner's make-up look - using only cruelty free and drugstore products. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I wear this look loads, and it's a great transition from day to night. If you want to make it completely day wear, skip on the foundation and go a little easier on the contour. The great thing about this look is that you can skip out steps and mix up products and still get a great look. I decided to show two different lips with this look as they both work really well and are classic Kylie. 

Step one is, as always, applying a nice moisturiser. Currently mine isn't cruelty free, but as soon as I run out I'm picking up B. Ready Day Cream. I let that soak into my skin before starting on the rest of my makeup.

Next I exfoliate my lips using Lush's Mint Julips exfoliator. It's made from sugar and oils, so it tastes great too! If I'm doing a heavy lip look (and we know that Kylie's lips are pretty intense) then I always exfoliate first.

The lip liners I'm using apply best on balmed lips, but I don't want them to slip off straight away so I apply the balm at this stage. I'm using Palmer's Cocoa Butter lip balm.

As I want this look to last me through the day, I'm applying B. Radiant Illuminating Primer. I like the fresh, dewy look this primer gives, although if you're going to be having your photo taken with the flash on I'd stay away from it.

Concealer time! I'm using Collection Lasting Perfection concealer in the shade 02 Cool Medium. Collection has a somewhat dubious cruelty free status (the company is cruelty free, but the parent company is somewhat ambiguous), but I've decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. I really like this concealer, although I find if I apply it without a primer it can look a little cakey.

I put a good layer of my M&S Limited Collection foundation in Nude on to try and achieve Kylie's flawless complexion.

I buff all of that in with E.L.F Pressed Powder in Sand. If I was wearing this look purely for the daytime, I would skip the foundation but keep this step in order to give me some light coverage and to blend in my concealer.

Kylie doesn't have a very blusher intensive look, but for my complexion I think it adds another dimension to my face so I add a little M&S Limited Collection blush in the shade Cinnamon.

Using my contour brush I suck in my cheeks and run E.L.F Pressed Powder in Buff in the hollows of my cheeks, down the sides of my nose, around the edges of my forehead, and under my chin. I focus my work at the very back of my cheekbones (where your sideburns would curve round) to give a chiseled look.

I keep in one palette for my eyes - Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Palette. Beginning with the lightest shade, I place this in the inner corners of my eyes to brighten them. Next I move on to the sandy shade (third from bottom in the image below) for the rest of my lid. I take a mix of the two taupe shades (forth and fifth from bottom) and work them along my crease, building up the colour very slowly. Kylie rarely wears eyeliner in her every day look, so all the work is coming from the crease and the mascara. To give the crease a touch more definition I take the darkest colour and work on the outer corner of my eye. I blend it all together so none of the lines are harsh.

Although Kylie doesn't really wear eyeliner, I've decided to line my tight line in order to make my lashes appear fuller. Sadly I don't have a picture for this as it takes two hands! I used E.L.F Cream Eyeliner in Black.

Lashes! I curl them (sorry for the state of my curler) before applying mascara to make my eyes look extra wide. I've been loving M&S Limited Collection All-In-One mascara in Black. It's a little clumpy, but I quite like that in a mascara as you can work with the clumps to give the illusion of fuller lashes. 

The Kardashian-Jenner family have pretty killer brows, so I fill mine in with Collection Brow Kit, using the middle shade and their excellent brow gel.

Kylie takes after her older siblings and highlights to the max. As a nod to her I'm going back in with my Collection Lasting Perfection concealer, this time in the shade 01 Fair. I've dotted this under my eyes, down the bridge of my nose, on my forehead, my cupids bow and my chin.

Last but not least, lips. For look one, I used Barry M lip liner in 9 (Mulberry). Kylie has quite a full lip (I actually think the amount she pencils over her natural lip line is a little excessive, and she definitely shouldn't be heralded as bringing the full lip into fashion, but each to their own) so I pencil mine a little bigger.

For look two I pair up Barry M lip liner in 11 (Wine) with M&S Limited Collection Matte lipstick in Mulberry. When I originally bought the lipstick I thought it was going to be a lot more purple than it is, but pairing with this purple lip liner give a beautiful colour. I get tonnes of compliments when I wear this duo so I'd definitely recommend giving it a go if you're not afraid of a vampy lip!

Since I want this look to last day to night, I spritz my face with UR CHEEKY Freeze Frame makeup setting spray. I love this stuff and it really works at holding everything in place, particularly if you're going on a night out to a warm, sweaty club!

I said that Kylie rarely wears eyeliner, but when she does it's just on the outer corners of her eye. I use E.L.F Cream Eyeliner to achieve this - here's a picture from a few weeks back.

Let me know what you think! Tag me on Twitter or Instagram if you try out either of these looks, I'm @vickimaitland everywhere.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

#reviewsdaytuesday: Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Polish

I'm a huge fan of Barry M and have always had a few of their nail polishes kicking around my collection. However, whilst their colour selection is the best out of any in the drugstore, the consistency and wear of the polish has always left something to be desired.

With these Speedy Dry polishes Barry M have stepped it up a notch, and might have actually produced my favourite polishes of all time.

I apologise for the awful state of the skin around my nails. I bite it when I'm stressed, which is all the time at uni!

First off, the colour selection. I love the pastels (or 'muted neons' as Essie would say) and they are perfect for spring/summer.

The consistency. Barry M often has a very thick consistency. This means they are somewhat difficult to apply, as well as meaning that they dry on top and form a crust rather than drying all the way through (making it very easy to dent and chip). These Speedy Dry polishes are slightly looser, so whilst you might need a couple of layers to get the same colour hit, the overall effect is that they last so much longer.

This is the shade on my ring finger - Pit Stop
The brush. This was the biggest surprise for me - they use a flat, tapered brush with rounded edges! Normally you only find this kind of brush in slightly higher end polishes (Sally Hansen or UR CHEEKY both use them), and it makes a huge difference in application. I'm one of those people who smear polish all over my finger tip when I apply it, and have to chip is off in the shower afterwards. With these brushes you can get near perfect application first time!

It dries quickly. My biggest bug bear with Barry M polishes is that they take forever to dry. This polish does what it says on the tin. Although it's not a quick drying as other quick drying polishes (I'm thinking specifically of Rimmel's 60 Seconds collection), it only takes about 5 minutes, which is great for Barry M.

The wear. I've only had this polish on for 24 hours, but already I've noticed how much better it's lasting than other Barry M polishes I've tried. For me, I'm lucky if a Barry M polish lasts the night without chipping, so this is a huge improvement.

This is the shade on the majority of my fingers - The Last Lap
Overall I'm a huge fan, and with an offer on in Superdrug at the moment (2 polishes for £6) I'm going to excercise a lot of self restraint not to buy the whole collection. As a bonus, I'm also a huge Grand Prix fan, so I love the motor sport themed names and chequered flag design!

Barry M is a cruelty free brand.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

University #15: Living With People

I'm posting this on Mothering Sunday, so I should probably be writing a post about how incredible and amazing my mum is (and, in some ways, I am doing that) BUT since Mum doesn't read my blog I'm not going to do that. Instead I'd like to talk to you about what it's like living with people who aren't your family.

Like most 20 year olds, I spent the first 18/19 years of my life living with my parents (and little sister), and apart from the year and a half that we spent living with my grandparents whilst our house was being converted that's pretty much how it's always been. I went to uni in my home town, which sadly meant that I didn't get into halls as I lived too close. I was desperate to move out - not because I didn't love my family or where I lived, but because I wanted the freedom that all my uni-going friends were experiencing. At the start of second semester of first year, I latched on to a couple of friends I'd made and we decided we'd move in together for second year. Looking back, it was a pretty big risk. None of us had lived together before and we weren't all super close best buddies. Flash forward two years, and we're a pretty tight knit team. The people I live with are honestly some of the best people in my life, and I'm going miss them so much when we all have to part ways at the end of the semester.

Living with people who aren't your family is strange though. The house has different rhythms than the ones you've grown up with. Not only is the space different but the atmosphere changes. Uni living is messy, it's disorganised, it's cold (because who wants to spend money on heating). It's also spontaneous and dynamic and really really fun.

Coming home after time at uni is always a huge relief. Home is clean, home is safe, home is warm. But, having experienced both sides, I wouldn't swap out living away at uni for the world. The friends I live with are all incredible people and have made my uni experience.

It's soppy but it's true.

Friday, 13 March 2015

On Apologising

** This article was originally published in Concrete **

At some point or another, all of us will have said or done something that’s hurt or offended someone else. It could have been a simple mistake, a badly phrased joke or a seemingly innocent comment which touched a nerve. As Elton sang, sorry seems to be the hardest word to say, but say it we must. The real question is, what’s the best way to go about apologising?

1)      Apologise quickly. As soon as you realise that you have offended or hurt somebody say sorry. There’s no point wallowing in your own guilt, or feeling embarrassed. The earlier you say sorry, the less time both of you spend feeling bad, and the more likely you’re apology will be forgiven.

2)      Be sincere. Nothing is more offensive than an insincere apology.

3)      Intent doesn’t matter. Even if you never meant to cause offense, the fact that you have means you have to acknowledge your fault.

4)       Acknowledge your responsibility. Just saying sorry sometimes isn’t enough, you need to make sure the other person knows you know what was wrong. Things like ‘I’m sorry you got offended’ are the worst culprits on the faux apology circuit. Try rephrasing to ‘I’m sorry I offended you’. This shifts the subject of the sentence onto the offender, rather than the offended.

5)      Face to face is best. Looking into the persons eyes when we apologise will cement your sincerity. If you’re unable to apologise face to face, then send them a message or give them a ring apologising, and offer to meet up to talk it over if it’s something more serious.

6)      Understand if they don’t accept it. Nine times out of ten, provided you apologise swiftly and sincerely, they will accept it. However, if, for whatever reason, they chose not to, then don’t hound them about it. Accept it and move on – chances are they just need a little time or distance.

Awards season has given us more than our fair share of celebrity mistakes, and they have had varying successes at apologising afterwards. If you’re looking for a good guideline to follow, Giulianna Rancic’s apology to Zendaya Coleman ticks all the boxes. Rancic made a racist joke on her show ‘Fashion Police’ about Zendaya’s hair. Shortly after the show was aired Zendaya turned to twitter to express how hurt she was by this remark. The next day, Giulianna Rancic made a video, not only apologising to Zendaya and anyone else she offended, but also highlighting the depth of the problem with her joke. Despite the fact it was later revealed that she did not write the joke, and the producers decided not to edit the joke out, she accepted full responsibility for her words.
Saying sorry can be hard, for both parties involved, but it’s much better to apologise than to have caused long lasting hurt. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


It's 11pm and I've just had the slightly staggering realisation that it's Tuesday. Actually, that's a lie, I realised it was Tuesday about an hour into the Jeremy Hardy gig I was at (a very funny left wing comic, check him out if you've never heard him - I was the youngest in the audience by about 20years), but there wasn't much I could do about it then. 

I've had a slightly manic day - having been set 2 films and a wedge of reading to do by tomorrow 10am - so I've somewhat lost track of time. To make up for this awkward post, I'll endeavour to put something up on Mothering Sunday instead - deal?

Hope your week has been less stressful than mine - I'll see you on the other side!

Friday, 6 March 2015

#Dear Me: A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear 11/12 year old Vicki,

High school boys are not hot. Stop swooning over them, stop laughing at their jokes when they aren't funny, and don't let them make you feel down. It's okay that you haven't had a boyfriend yet, haven't had your first kiss yet. It'll happen, don't force it, and when it does it won't be as amazing as you think it is right now. You actually do pretty well with the boys later on, and all of them will be hotter than any of the boys you're wasting time on now.

The 'cool' girls are actually no cooler than you. I know you don't believe in the notion of being 'popular' anyway, but the only difference between them and you is confidence. It'll come.

Also, sorry, but those are the only boobs you're going to get, even though people keep telling you that you'll be a late bloomer. And you're not getting any taller either. That's fine because you've got pretty good legs and bum - don't be afraid to show them off. In a few years you're going to discover hair mousse too - it's a game changer!

By the time you leave high school, you'll actually be pretty confident, so ignore all the school reports telling you to speak up more in class. You'll speak up in your own time, in fact you won't be able to shut up in a few years. Try not to stress too much about SATS and GCSE's. They're good and all, but not worth the hours you're going to put into them. Save the academic energy for A Level and Uni - you're going to need it!

I know you don't like it, but try and do some more exercise. Mum would be thrilled if you asked to go on a run with her - and we both know that the only reason you don't want to run is because you think you look gross doing it. News flash! No-one looks good when they run.

Also, help Mum out around the house more. I know you don't think you're being messy, but you really are, and Mum has enough on her plate to be stressing about. Give her a hug when you get home, offer to do the washing up, and lay the table when shes asks - the first time.

Check in with Becca more often. Make sure she's doing okay.

I can't remember if Granddad is still around, but if he is speak to him. I know you find him a little intimidating, but he's not going to be around for many more months. Older you would really get on with him, and wishes she had spent more time getting to know him.

Over the next few years a few of your friends are going to go through some really difficult stuff. Try and be there for them. I know it scares you, and I know you think you're really bad at advice, but honestly you just need to listen to what they're saying. Call them up after school, make the effort to go and see them.

Write more. I know you'd rather be watching TV or going on the PC (what do you even do on it anyway? You haven't got MSN, you don't watch YouTube, Tumblr hasn't even been invented yet!), but writing is so important to you. Read too - even more than you are at the moment.

One day you'll actually prefer the name Tori - so now is the time to make the change!

You're a pretty great kid. Your shyness will pass - that permanent blush you have will fade, and you'll discover make-up. Those friends of yours are sticking around for the long run - even if something your interests differ - and watch out for that tall girl you keep getting paired with in PE. One day she'll be a pretty important figure in your life.

All my love,

Vicki (aged 20 years, 11 months and 19 days)

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

#reviewsdaytuesday: Lush Aromaco Deodorant

I've used a number of deodorants in my time; Dove and Vaseline have been my go-to for the past couple of years and I've been pretty happy with them. However, neither of those brands are cruelty free, Dove has very questionable ethics, and I've heard some bad things about deodorant products with built in antiperspirant. I initially began looking for a deodorant which was simply that - no antiperspirant included. I'm not someone who is fresh as a daisy all of the time, but I certainly don't sweat like a pig either, so I figured I could get away with just using a deodoriser. I'd  never found antiperspirant to be particularly effective and as part of my research, I also found out that antiperspirant can often cause the sweat patches and stains it claims to prevent.

Since transforming by beauty regime into something that is cruelty free, I began looking into cruelty free deodorants too. Obviously the first place I turned to was Lush.

I looked up all their deodorising products online, and decided I liked the sound of Aromaco. Not only does it claim to neautralise any sweaty smells, but it also contains witch hazel, which naturally tightens pores so actually reduces sweating anyway.

It's a bit pricier than your traditional deodorant (about £5 for a 100g block) but I think it's been totally worth it. I've had it for about two months, and I'd estimate that I've used 15g. So far I've been really happy with it. It hasn't irritated my skin, I've not felt any sweatier than I used to with standard deodorant, although the first few days whilst my skin adjusted I did feel the need to re-apply it a couple of times a day.

There are a couple of downsides however.

The smell isn't great. It's not unappealing but it is strong, and I've taken to wearing perfumes to neutralise that. For the first few days that I used it, it was really obtrusive and it stank out my bedroom too. The smell did mellow over time, though, and I keep it in a plastic zip-lock bag.

It's not the easiest thing to apply - mostly because it gets over your hands, particularly the smaller the product gets. I hold it in its packaging to try and stop that from happening. You do also need to be in a warm enough environment (or at least have warm enough skin) to get it to melt nicely.

Overall, I'm really happy with it. When I runs out, I'm probably going to try T'eo (the other Lush stick deodorant), as I prefer the smell. I was put off from buying it first time around because of the lack of witch hazel and the fact it felt a lot grainier than the creamy Aromaco bar, but I think the smell pay-off might be worth it.

Lush Aromaco Deodorant is cruelty free and vegan.