Month: January 2016

Twit(ter) of the Day award

Sometimes I think that people should be made to take an entrance exam
before they use the internet. Maybe an intelligence test. Certainly
psychoanalysis.

Yesterday I responded to a tweet from our local village forum that said
cycle lanes have been planned on the main road, which means double
yellow lines will be introduced, which will mean the loss of much
needed parking. The residential roads nearby are already overcrowded
with cars – often from people who are just visiting the area – and if
this plan comes into force people may have to park their cars half a
mile away from their home.

Even though this doesn’t personally affect me as I don’t live in the
centre, I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think it’s fair that someone
would buy a house with an expectation of parking and then that parking
would be taken away. It’s like if you buy a house with a view and then
someone builds a bigger house in front of it. The view doesn’t
“belong” to you, but you’d be pretty peeved.

Anyway, there were a few exchanges of tweets with a pro-cyclist and
myself and another local and that was that.

Or so I thought.

Many hours later an individual unknown to me pops up and, with no
preamble or escalation of conversation, tweets this at me!

Twitter screenshot

Say what??

I was pretty flabbergasted!
a) to be accused of being racist
b) at the ridiculous comparison between cyclists and ethnicity
c) at the barrage of abuse that continued!

Oh yes, said individual didn’t leave it there. Apparently calling me
racist wasn’t enough!

Twitter screenshot 1

Hang on, there’s more!

Twitter screenshot 2

And then he added me a to a list called “cyclophobes”! He’s going to
be pretty disappointed, because I mainly tweet about food, my blog and
pretty clothes.

The internet; giving stupid people a platform to promote idiocy with
no recourse.

Absolute “Twit of the Day”

Make up review: Wunderbrow

Over Christmas I was using Facebook on my laptop (as I was waiting for a mobile replacement following the great phone vs booze debacle of December) and so I started getting adverts pop up which I wouldn’t usually see. Coincidentally I had some birthday money from my Mother in Law which I was looking to spend, and that’s how I came to buy Wunderbrow.

I’d never heard of it before but the promise of hair fibre complex that improves the original brow shape and permafix gel that last for days was enough to get me wanting more. Now I’m a marketing person’s dream to be honest, but the advert came with a video which was incredibly impressive, plus the company offer a 30 day money back guarantee so it seemed to be win win.

See what I mean?

On arrival I excitedly ripped open the packaging and was immediately disappointed. I had ordered black/brown and my first thought was that I had been sent the wrong one. But no, this is what Wunderbrow class as black/brown.

Undeterred, I thought maybe it would look darker on my skin. Unfortunately not. It has a sludgy brown appearance with (to me) a hint of khaki. I don’t want army eyebrows!

Wunderbrow black brown sample

My first try was highly disastrous as I found the application incredibly difficult due to the length of the handle and the long bristles of the brush. I abandoned it and it lay unloved for a couple of weeks.

Thinking perhaps I was missing something, and that it was user error rather than the product’s fault (quite likely) I decided to try again.

Here’s me with naked eyebrows (oo-er!)

Naked eyebrows

They’re annoyingly thin, which is strange considering they were behemoth monstrosities when I was a kid (I’ll share a pic one day). I’ve tried to regrow them to a thicker point but they’re having none of it.

Next is one eyebrow.

One eyebrow

The shape was better this time around as I was more patient with applying it and used smaller strokes. I couldn’t see the hair like fibres though.

Both eyebrows done.

Two eyebrows

The second was more difficult, not sure why, and I ended up with the product a little bit above my natural browline which gave me a funny expression!

I went to bed with it still on to test the endurance (the website says it can last two to three days). To be fair it was still all in tact when I woke up, so I decided to leave it on for the day, even though I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Well, once I was able to see it in daylight (first time as I applied it in the evening and it was still dark when I left for work so the previous photographs are taken in artificial light) I decided to definitely send it back.

Wunderbrow following day close up

It just doesn’t work for me. The shade is too light (in fairness my hair is very dark) but more than that it just looks like I’ve painted creosote on my eyebrows. There are no fibres. It looks like bloody felt tip! Worse still, I had to endure the rest of the day like that at work, wondering if anyone had noticed (this is a very narcissistic comment to make, as I’m sure no-one cares two hoots about how I look).

This is it at the end of the day, it had started to wear off. If you could see more closely it looks flaky and patchy,

Wunderbrow end of day

Huge amounts of disappointment.

The only good thing is that, as I mentioned, the company offers is a 30 day money back guarantee, so I don’t have a £20 waste of birthday money on my hands. I haven’t had my refund yet, but I’m trusting them!

Obviously this is only my own experience, and I’m not particularly beauty minded (or patient) so I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying it themselves, especially if your hair is lighter than mine. The reviews on their Facebook page are outstanding and there are lots of YouTube videos showing perfect brows as a result of this product.

It also comes in 3 other shades – blonde, brunette and auburn.

You can buy Wunderbrow directly from their website (free P&P), on Amazon, or at selected Boots stores.

This time in 7 weeks…

…I’ll be on my jolly holidays!

It’s my Mom’s 60th birthday mid March, so we’ve booked a short break to Lanzarote.

Who wants to spend money on a party for everyone else to enjoy when you can spend it on relaxing in the sun, paddling in the sea, and drinking cocktails?

We fly out very first thing on the Wednesday morning and come back Sunday afternoon. Perfect.

Choice of destinations is more limited at this time of year due to climate, and we don’t want to travel long haul, so the Canary Islands are perfect. I’ve been to Fuerteventura in March and the days were actually quite hot, so hoping to get a bit of a suntan. It will just be nice not to have to wrap up from the elements, feel the warmth on our faces and sit outside reading books and watching the world go by.

We’re going to an all inclusive resort so the temptation to do nothing will be strong, but I’d like to get a feel for the island, so we’ll probably go on a day trip whilst we’re there, probably to the volcanic national park, and of course a wander to the resort, seafront and harbour will be a must.

Costa Teguise beach

Costa Teguise town

BlueBay Lanzarote

Timanfaya national park

If you’ve been to Lanzarote and have any tips or must sees, please let me know.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

The £1.80 spend that’s going to make me a better groomed and put together person

How’s that for a click-bait headline?

But seriously, I recently spent £1.80 that has already made me look less shabby and more put together.

What is it, I hear you ask? (well, maybe not…)

These two products of wonder, from Primark.

Primark nail products

I’ve blogged before about the fact that I have lots of bad beauty habits, and neglecting my nails is one of them. I put nail varnish on and then leave it to wear off, or flake off, or  pick it off. I might then paint over the top of it. Basically I’m a nail sloven.

There are two reasons for this. One is sheer laziness. Whenever I think to get my scruffy nail varnish off I don’t have the tools to hand (and obviously it’s such a long way to walk to my bedroom to get cotton wool and varnish remover). The other is that I always apply nail varnish on the go and it ends up smudging. It doesn’t dry fast enough for my liking, mainly because I don’t allow enough time for it to dry properly and I’m always keen to be getting on and doing other things.

So how will my bargain bits help?

The nail polish twist pot (£1) is simply full of sponge soaked in nail polish remover. Dip your finger in, wiggle it around a bit, et voila! Varnish free nails. So, if I keep this pot to hand (pun intended) I don’t have to faff about with bottles and cotton pads and throwing them away. Can you say “first world problems”?

The fast dry spray dries your nails in 60 seconds. Simply spray it on and wait. I know some nail polishes profess to dry in 60 seconds, but I’ve never found that. Plus this spray gives an extra shine.

I have so many nail varnishes that I’ve never even used (oops) because I see pretty colours and get sucked in and it’s such a cheap little treat, but I never actually get round to wearing them. That’s going to change.

Is this a late New Year’s resolution?

To prove just how much this has revolutionised my lazy ass, here’s a (very poor) manicure shot of Collection 2000 “Shameless”. I don’t know how long I’ve had this, or even if it still exists, but it’s so very very pretty and I wish I’d used it before.

Collection 2000 Shameless

Collection 2000 Shameless in daylight

Are you a nail varnish hero, or zero?!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

 

 

 

Ooh look, a shiny thing

I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to sparkles so, although I’m supposed to be buying less (guffaw), I couldn’t resist this sequin skirt.

In my defence, your honour, I have wanted one since time began (well, for quite a while) and while I really am trying to buy less, that kind of applies to buying less of what I already have, rather than stuff I don’t have, if that makes sense. As in there’s no point buying a new pair of jeans, but because I don’t have a sequin skirt it’s ok.

Oh, and also, it was only £6 so, like, no point not buying it. Good old George at Asda.

Sequin skirt

It’s pull on stretch style with elasticated waistband and fully lined. The sequins are tiny little ones that don’t feel too scratchy and they’re gunmetal rather than bright silver.

Here it is in the flesh (ceremoniously plonked on my lounge floor!)

Asda George gunmetal sequin skirt

Now, technically sequin season (i.e Christmas & New year) is over. But I didn’t buy this skirt with party time in mind. I want to wear it dressed down. I’m thinking tanned bare legs, flat shoes and a baggy tee in summer. Snuggly jumper and boots in winter. With denim or stripes.

Here’s my inspo:

(all images via pinterest)

I think this might work – roaring lion tank top and black studded hi-tops. I could add black tights and a leather jacket for milder winter days.

Sequin skirt lion tee hi tops

The key to keeping it casual will definitely be in the footwear. Add heels and it instantly becomes a more dressy piece. I think flat sandals in summer, maybe biker boots, a slouchy oversized bag and a messy bun will bring it into daywear.

I shall be experimenting! (and also not to say I won’t wear it dressed up as well!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

Review: Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre

Last weekend I went on a trip away with my Mom and Sister. On Saturday afternoon we had tickets to see Thriller Live.

I was going along for the trip and the company, not particularly for the show, and I had no idea what to expect. I love Michael Jackson’s early music but, because of the show title, I expected it to be just around the Thriller album.

The Lyric theatre is fairly compact and we were just 13 rows back so had a great view of the stage. The theatre is showing signs of age, but still has a faded glamour that gives it an element of charm rather than neglect.

The show was brilliant. Rather than having a storyline interspersed with songs (as many musicals do), it was very much based around the music with only a small amount of connecting dialogue. The cast consisted of about 20 people – 4 main singers, a Michael Jackson who appeared intermittently (and was brilliant) and the rest were dancers. The female main singer had an amazing voice which was really showcased by the songs and each and every performer did a fantastic job.

The costumes were glitzy, the sound levels enveloping and the choreography really impressive.

(pics from the website)

Musically the show started at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s career with some Jackson 5 material, through Off the Wall, into Thriller and then Bad. The best (in my opinion) Michael Jackson years.

I find that musical theatre can sometimes be a bit cheesy, but this was just a rip roaringly fun singalong experience that I’d recommend to anyone who likes the early Jacko music.

Anyone seen it?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

100 followers – thank you!

Wowsers, I’ve reached 100 followers. This is a great milestone!

100 followers

Thank you so much to each and every person who has, at one time or another, seen something that interested them enough to want to follow my little blog. I appreciate you all!

I’ll be honest, when I started this blog back at the end of February last year I thought it would be easier than it is to build up a community on my site. I didn’t expect followers, but I guess I thought the traffic would be higher? Maybe I just don’t have much to say that interests people. But who cares? The 100 people that are signed up are here through choice, and that’s fab!

Here’s a party popper and a celebratory cocktail.

Party popper & cocktail

Cheers!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Cauliflower rice

I try not to eat carbs during the week, purely to compensate for my greedy weekends where I’ll eat anything and everything. In truth all bets have been off recently as I’ve been eating everything and anything with no regard for what day of the week it is or its nutritional content, but that’s an unsustainable attitude (unless I want to buy a whole new wardrobe) so it’s time to start showing some restraint again (urgh). I don’t like giving things up but if there’s a substitute I can use instead I’m generally happy to do that, so when I read about cauliflower rice I was intrigued. Some dishes need a side like rice, something to soak up the juices and add substance but obviously rice is carby and because I have no concept of portion size I probably eat a week’s worth of calories in one dinner.

The first couple of times I tried making cauliflower rice I hand grated the cauliflower, which is time consuming and awkward (grated knuckles anyone?) and the resulting vegetable was very wet. Then I bought a food processor, primarily for this reason and handmade coleslaw (an expensive investment, granted!) which is a much better way of doing it.

With a food processor it’s so much quicker and easier, and the end result seemed better. For some reason the processed vegetable contained less moisture which cooked and tasted better. It’s super easy to do and definitely worth a try.

Remove the centre stalk from the cauliflower and chop into smallish heads.

chopped-up-cauliflower

Make sure you’re using the grater attachment on your food processor and then just pulse the cauliflower heads until they resemble rice like grains.

grated-cauliflower

For cooking I read a tip that it’s a good idea to use a flavoured oil as it will give the cauliflower some depth. I used a splash of stir fry oil which has hints of garlic and ginger, but you could use whatever to match the dish you’re serving it with.

Just heat the oil in a hot wok, add the cauliflower and keep stirring for around 2-3 minutes.

cooking-cauliflower-rice

You may want to check the consistency until it suits your palette, I left mine slightly al dente.

All I would say is don’t think this is going to taste like rice. It’s not. That’s because it’s cauliflower. But it is a great alternative when you’re trying to be healthy, and also a good way to get more vegetables in your diet. It tastes good and is a great non carb side.

You could also add peas, chopped carrots and water chestnuts and cook with soy sauce and chilli for an oriental flavour – perhaps add chunks of chicken or minced pork and serve as a main meal.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

My foray into green smoothies

A couple of weeks back, on the last day of holiday before work (and therefore the last true day of indulgence, supposedly, <<snort with derision>> Liz Earle was on Sunday Brunch talking about detoxing and juicing and the like.

I’ve toyed with the idea of juicing in the past but the investment in a Nutribullet or similar is pretty expensive for something I’m not sure I’ll get along with.

Then I started reading up on green smoothies, as I already have a blender. Some websites suggested that smoothies are better because they keep all of the fruit pulp in and therefore more of the goodness. So I researched some recipes and settled on one that I thought sounded ok. Even though I don’t like bananas! (I hoped the banana taste would be covered by the rest of the ingredients).

I found the recipe here

I halved the quantities to make just one. The ingredients are spinach, orange, ginger, banana and water. Lots of lovely goodness.

Orange banana and ginger

I peeled and chopped the veggies and fruit.

Chopped green smoothie ingredients

Popped it all in my blender, and added the water.

Blended and zapped and pulsed it until I couldn’t see any solid bits.

Blitzed green smoothie ingredients

And poured it into a glass ready to enjoy.

Green smoothie in a glass

Unfortunately I could really taste the banana, which put me off, especially when I got half way down and almost swallowed a lump of banana that hadn’t blended <<heave>>. Plus there were a few remaining stringy bits of leaf and orange, only tiny bits, but that detracted from the experience somewhat. It may have benefitted from more water as it was a little bit thick, but by the time I realised that I was already done and tipping a quarter of it down the sink.

What’s worse is that the husband had declined my kind offer of a smoothie, and was eating an omelette that I’d made for him instead. It was probably a similar amount of calories and nutrients (peppers, mushroom and tomatoes) and a damn sight more enjoyable.

Breakfast omelette and salsa

Now I’m not saying there’s any connection, but when I washed the glass up later it smashed! As if to say “I will never be clean again, I’m tainted forever“.

Lesson learned. Eat your greens, don’t drink them.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things to consider when leaving a Tripadvisor review

I rely heavily on reviews when it comes to booking hotels, restaurants, or even visiting attractions so I think it’s important for me to contribute honestly to review sites as a “thank you”; putting something back in for other travellers. Plus good reviews are just as important as bad – people are often vocal when they have something to criticise or complain about, but credit where credit’s due is important for both the business and the customer.

I had an email from TripAdvisor telling me that I finished 2015 in the top 1% off Birmingham reviewers, with 56,093 readers (go me!) so I must be doing something right!

TripAdvisor top 1%

Here are my top 5 tips for leaving a review.

1) Use correct spelling and grammar. If you can’t articulate yourself well, who’s going to take your opinion seriously? (clue, not me)

2) Only review things that are within control of the establishment. Marking a hotel down because it rained for your whole trip is just dumb. They can’t control the weather!

3) Be reasonable about expectation vs. reality. Going to a restaurant in Spain and then complaining they don’t serve chips shows a lack of culture and brains.

4) Be honest but tactful. Not happy? Explain what the problem was with facts, not just by saying “everything was shit”. If the food was cold or your order was wrong then say so, without getting personally rude about the chef or waiting staff.

5) Be sensible. Visiting castle ruins and complaining there isn’t a lot there is just a waste of your time typing and a visitor’s time reading.

Are you a review writer or reader? Let me know any daft ones you’ve seen!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x