Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Instagram Frame

I, like most other people on the planet Earth, am a bit obsessed with instagram. In fact, after iPhone-gate (an unfortunate series of events involving two iphones, a theft, and a washing machine), the thing I missed most about having a smartphone, was instagram.

Sure, its slowly getting crowded with pictures of food, which is especially annoying when I'm on a fasting day! And yes, every so often you get spam messages as you would have seen on myspace circa 2007 ("PC 4 PC? - No, I think not!).

But, it makes my mediocre little snaps look lovely, and has given a whole new definition to the word 'Selfie' - shameless, I know.

So when it came around to Laurie and I's first year anniversary, I wanted to find a way of documenting our first year together in a not too girly sort of way. At uni i lived with a boy, whose girlfriend constantly sent him canvases that she'd made, adorned with pictures of the two of them kissing, surrounded by song lyrics, sequins and love hearts. Cute, but in no way is this my style, let alone Laurie's!

It just so happened that Laurie had just moved into his flat in London too, so I wanted to try and incorporate something that he could use to liven up his room, but wouldn't be embarassing and too coupley to display.

Luckily, if there's anyone who loves instagram as much as I do, its Mr Beamont. Admittedly, he mostly takes pictures of his feet and/or tube trains, but occassionally there's nice ones of us on our adventures. Even having not had Instagram for four months of the year, I had plenty of pictures to choose from.

I found the website Printstagram, logged in with my instagram password, and voila, our photos were there for printing! They offer all sorts of products, but I just picked up a set of small square prints. They're 2.5 x 2.5 inches and you can buy 48 of them for $12. In English money, it turned out to be around £15 with shipping added on too.
They warned there could be a three week wait for them, so I left plenty of time, but the little FedEx box arrived on my desk eight days later!

They arrived beautifully packaged, and wrapped up really carefully, so they didn't get bent on the journey. But despite this, I couldn't help opening the packaging there and then and flicking through them at my desk!

They were all perfectly printed and have a really nice matte finish to them. It made my creative juices flare and I thought up so many different things I could do with them, that I nearly ordered another batch there and then!

Next stop was IKEA, to find a frame. I took my time trying to find something that suited the pictures, as well as Laurie's style. I decided on the 'Ribba', which was a bargain at £9.

Then came the tricky part - the actual construction.
I used the white backing paper that came with the frame as a background and removed the cardboard mount altogether.

I then did a quick bit of maths, and worked out that in a 15 x 17.5 inch rectangle, I could fit 42 of my 48 prints.

I drew the rectangle on the backing paper in pencil, and starte sifting through the photos to find my favourites, and put them in a nice order. I tried not to put too many with the same filter together, but thats just me being picky! Have a play and see what works! 
Once I decided on the order of the photos, it was time to stick them down. In hindsight, spray mount would have been more effective, but a good quality Pritt Stick worked well for me.

And voila - the finished product! I'm really chuffed with how this worked out, and will definitely be making one for myself when I'm not moving house every six months! Laurie loved it too, and it looks lovely and homely hanging on his new wall!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Benefit 'Fake Up' Concealer

Needless to say, half of the make-up I own is Benefit. It would be a higher percentage than that, but sadly, my bank manager will not allow it. No sir-ee.

But, when I had a bit of spare cash a month ago, I popped into the Spitalfields branch to pick up a new tube of the 'They're Real' Mascara, but obviously couldn't stop there.

Concealer has been a big part of my make-up routine for many years, and I've never found one that lasted. Until now, I've been using the Rimmel 'Wake Me Up' Concealer, which offers great coverage, and obviously perfectly matches my foundation. However, it never lasts a full working day.
So with this in mind, I got chatting to a lovely sales assistant, who talked me through my options. By far my favourite was the 'Fake Up', which was being released that weekend.
It's £18.50 (a bit pricey - but you know you're getting quality with Benefit!) and comes in three shades. I took the lightest. At first I was taken by how easy it was to apply, and how well it covered. As I was due a new concealer, and had high hopes, I picked it up.

Since then, I've only been more and more impressed. It uses vitamin E, so as well as offering a good coverage, it hydrates the skin, which means easy application and your skin isn't left feeling overwhelmed when you take your make-up off in the evening!
Admittedly, the coverage still doesn't last all day - and at £18.50 a tube, its not the kind of thing you want to be constantly topping up.

The best solution I've found for this is to pop a quick bit of the Rimmel concealer over the top of it. Voila - full coverage, hydrated skin, and friendly to the purse!

Has anyone else tried it? What did you think?

Friday, 17 May 2013

First Few Weeks 'Up T'North'

I've been a resident of the North for less than two weeks, and already I'm loving life up here.
After fighting my fear of being out of my comfort zone in Cardiff, I've gone into Manchester with a 'Just Say Yes' attitude and accepted any invitation going!

Here's a little entry of my adventures so far!
When Karmen and I first moved here, the sun was shining and everyone was out in a beer garden! We slipped into shorts, maxi dresses and sunglasses, and headed to a beautiful pub garden on Beech Road, The Horse and Jockey, along with her husband Tomoi.
We drank wine, ate chips that were as big as Karmen's face (Where do they get these potatoes from?!) and made friends with a fluffy doggle!

Later that week, I had a surprise visit from one of my favourite people in the whole wide world - Anna Jacklin! Sadly, we were too busy gossiping, catching up and putting the world to right to take any photos! But, when I popped for a quick loo break, I saw this scribbled on the back of the cubicle door. It seems pretty appropriate. If I'm going to be a northerner, I definitely want to be part of the Manchester Massive! (Largely, for fear of getting on the wrong side of them!)

Having stayed in Karmen and Tomoi's spare room for a few nights, by Thursday I was looking forward to getting settled into my flat, and making the move feel more permanent. Alas, I had no furniture. So instead of sleeping on a hardwood floor, I stayed another night with my favourite hosts, but not before checking out a few more of the local Chorlton pubs, and the chinese take away, which DIDN'T SELL CHICKEN BALLS. So unbelieably upsetting.

That weekend, I finally moved into my flat (with furniture and all!) and my first night was spent with the removal service (my very obliging parents) sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. But not without making sure the fridge was well stocked up first!

As much as I love walking around naked, and watching Twilight without being judged, by Monday I was craving some human company, which was fortunate, seeing as I work in an office full of humans!

Amazingly, one lunchtime, we had an email explaining that outside our office, a company called Love Lunch were going to try and break the world record for the most people to simulatenously make a sandwich. Needless to say, we all jumped at the oportunity and smashed the previous 308, with 677 hairnetted people in one big gazebo.

We got a t-shirt as a prize, so we were pretty happy about that one!

I met up with my old university friend Georgina this week too. She took me to an incredible Gin Parlour in central Manchester called Gorilla, and I'd recommend it to anyone. The food was incredible - steak burgers on wooden boards, and with cocktails at £5 a pop, you really can't go wrong!

So that brings us up to today - hungover Friday. It's not often I turn up to work hungover, but last night our team was invited to some corporate drinks at a local edit house. On arrival, I was handed a glass of prosecco, and thanks to some super stealth waiters, I did not see the bottom of that glass for the next three hours.
It's not everyday that you end up having drunken munchies on a school night, with your work colleagues, but at half ten, we found ourselves over-sharing, struggling to stand, and giggling like loons, so headed to Prezzo for a pizza. The total night came to £11.50 - if this is how Manchester is beginning, then long let it continue!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Hwyl fawr y pub lwc! Bye Bye Cardiff!

So the reason there's been a bit of a delay in popping up the latest blog entry, is because once again, I've moved house!
I'm on a certain contract at the moment that means that every 6 months, I get to try a slightly different job, and I get to try living in a different city.

So right now, I am writing you this from my new flat in Manchester. There's been a few complications, in that I am currently sitting on a hardwood floor to write this as the landlord has decided he's reluctant to give me any furnishings. But despite my temporary state of homelessness (ish - potentially a rather large exaggeration), I'm very excited to be here!

When I first moved from London to Cardiff, I was very upset. I was settled, I had friends, I had a nice flat. I've never been great at being out of my comfort zone, and I've always been a home-bird. Moving across the border seemed terrifying. But I pushed myself, and despite the first few weeks being insanely challenging, I now have no regrets whatsoever!
Six months has flown by, and I really miss the city, the job, and the people already. It's shocking to think that I've only known some of them for a handful of months.

So in the spirit of how fantastic it was, here's a few lot of photos of the people, parties and events that made it so utterly brilliant:

My stunning walk to work!
Admittedly, it was never normally this sunny. But when it was - oh my. Fantastic.

Cardiff Winter Wonderland! 

One of many nights at the local with the girls from the newsroom.
Space Helmet night was one of the best!

Six Nations - Wales v Ireland
Cardiff's known for being a good night out, but add Wales winning their first match of the Six Nations, and lots of rugby fans that have been drinking all day, and you have an adventure and a half, and a lot of new friends on your hands!


Barry Island
Been here once before, several years ago, before everything was 'Gavin & Stacey' themed. This time, we went for my birthday, in the cold, in March. We ate chips and ice-cream, and played Pirate Crazy Golf.
I don't think I've laughed so hard in such a long time.


The start of the goodbyes!
The first goodbye was with the first friends I made in Cardiff - sadly no Space Helmet this time, but a speech over a Karaoke machine in the BBC Club instead. Classic!

Katy-Jane lost a bet!
The One Show love a good sweepstake, and the latest one was dependant on where I would get moved to next. Katy-Jane, picked Manchester, and so came into the office on my last day dressed like this. Whatta babe.

Goodbye The One Show!
It's rare you get on so well with your colleagues, but this team are just fantastic!
Matt and Katy organised a bowling trip for my leaving do, and honestly, it was one of the best nights out I've had in a long time. Bittersweet ending - so much fun with such amazing people, but so sad to be saying goodbye!



There are so many more photos and people that I could have included, but these are the highlights!
Hwyl Fawr Caerdydd - I'm so sure I'll be back soon!