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Day One Begins…

I have officially started to Live Below the Line, and on my birthday as well! Spending only £1 a day on food and drink, an unbelievably difficult task. 

My preparation weekend was spent researching recipes, coming up with meal plans, all with a calculator at hand. I had to make sure that no day I was eating anything over the £1 limit. I was totally proud of myself when I managed to spend just £7 on food to last me the week. Sometimes I will spend just that amount on a Pret A Manger lunch! Totally unreal. To be fair most of my products were located on the bottom shelf and were Tesco Value so probably won’t taste incredible. But so long as I have food in my tummy, and am able to properly function, I will just have to grin and bear it.

Yesterday I fuelled my body for the week with my birthday dinner. Tacos, mexican platter, prawn cocktails, crisps and cake were all consumed. I think this was the worst idea possible, because although it was a lovely evening, it made my tummy stretch out so when I woke this morning I really needed something to fill it.

For breakfast I ate 50g porridge with 1 tablespoon jam – 9p (without milk unfortunately so it was bloody awful, water is really not the same)

For lunch I managed to stomach I horrid mixture of boiled potato (cold), sweetcorn, tinned peas (YUCK), tomato and grated carrot – which was fair too soggy, thanks cheap tinned veg! This was called Potato salad (31p) but how can it be called a salad without lettuce???

Dinner was by far the best meal – I managed to make myself a pizza – 25p  (flour base, tinned plum tomato sauce, and mushroom topping) unfortunately there was no cheese on my pizza, but I was so hungry by this point that I would have pretty much eaten anything.

For an evening treat I enjoyed a baked banana (23p) with cinnamon and sugar. 

Today was a tough. I’m sure it’ll get easier, and I know I am a total moany cow because why should I complain? But do not judge until you’ve tried it. Would be great to get some donations/sponsors in so follow the link below if you’re wanting to help out a worthwhile charity.

Peace x

 

The Underwear Blues

It’s a deliberately annual and frustrating occurrence. You see this impulse charging at you. You cave.  Surely not again? Surely you have not just spent even more money on Valentine’s Day underwear? Are you…a Fool?

Moments later, you’re standing in front of your bedroom mirror, examining, caressing, posing, wriggling and huffing whilst you try to convince yourself that it was the right choice. The black lace teddy looked vital as it hung there in Agent Provocateur’s window. So why is it now that you are home this familiar feeling of guilt fills you? The answer lies in your underwear drawer. You peek at the many once-worn sexy outfits that have built up after years of anniversaries, birthdays, Christmases and of course, Valentine’s Days, and you realise that this was a step too far.

This is the scenario that greets me every year as Valentine’s Day approaches. I have not fluctuated in weight, I have not out-grown my clothing, underwear is timeless so is still “in fashion” – there is absolutely no excuse for my continuous overspending when it comes to lingerie. It is pure greed. I have argued that I do it for my partner in the past. I want to surprise him with new visual delights. But he doesn’t care, and in fact he is the one who diagnosed me with my illness when he turned around and said that he didn’t mind if I wore knickers more than once. For him to notice such a thing really is worrying.

But I am not the only one who suffers from this curse.

Apparently the average woman spends more than £20,000 on underwear in her lifetime, compared to £1,200 for men. The difference in expenditure is shocking, but not surprising. Emily Bendell, founder and CEO of Bluebella, a social selling lingerie company, says “Wearing fabulous lingerie makes a woman feel confident – it’s just like having a beautiful new handbag or pair of shoes and yet so deliciously secret too!”

Emily created the Bluebella brand because she wanted to treat UK women to “beautiful products that celebrated their sensuality” and she was “shocked by the lack of choice”. She decided that a social selling model would work for her company, as it offers women a “relaxed and informative shopping experience” where they can purchase “high end design and style” for affordable prices. Women have the chance to become Underwear Consultants and host parties selling this beautiful lingerie.

When brands like Bluebella exist, with their elegant designs and feminine structures, it is no wonder that so much money is spent on feeling glamorous underneath. Underwear as a gift is becoming more popular as well. And nowadays it is not uncommon for men to treat their partners to sexy underwear when Valentine’s Day arrives. There is usually a spike in underwear sales figures around February and men are now turning to panties instead of pansies.

But why do we spend so much more money on underwear than men do? Forget the 50% of men who wear their undies for two days running, and the huge commercialisation of barely clad females – ultimately nothing feels nicer than the soft fabric of new knickers. You feel fresh, presentable and weirdly, content. Cute underwear makes you feel feminine. Whether you’re a size six or 16, Keira Knightley or Jennifer Hudson – you can look and feel hot in a flattering bra and pants.

It is the obsessive, compulsive buying that needs to stop.

Let’s take some advice from a real underwear expert. Calvin Klein once said that what he found sexy was “a woman wearing her boyfriend’s t-shirt and underwear”. So this Valentine’s Day raid your man’s wardrobe and find the most ridiculous underwear you can (I’ll be going for the classic ketchup-bottle print “I’m Saucy” boxers). You’ll be saving yourself some pennies and his reaction will be priceless. Who said romance is dead?

Bluebella are currently recruiting Consultants to host Bluebella parties which gives you the perfect chance to work from home and in your own time. If you want to join the Bluebella team, apply online at www.bluebella.com   

 

 

Inside the Man’s Mind

Why is it that whenever we women try our damned hardest to impress- with bright colours, flattering shapes – our men fail to appreciate our efforts and instead think of the practicalities? Most men do not, and will never understand female fashion. In fact they are so oblivious to our personal style that they either don’t notice when a special effort has been made, or they vocally complain because what you’re wearing isn’t ‘normal’. Every man is different, they have different dislikes and irritations, but ultimately it is impossible for a woman’s wardrobe to completely satisfy a man’s aesthetic needs. The underwear drawer is usually the only happiness he’ll find (but sometimes men even have issues with your lingerie- honestly!)

 

My boyfriend, Rory, and I have daily disagreements over my style choices. Rory is an athletic chap who rarely “dresses up” and spends most of his week in his sports gear. In my case each day is a fresh opportunity for me to express myself visually, and I tend to indulge far too much in patterned clothing that reminds me of my childhood. Excessive jewellery and clashing colours are other faux pa’s I enjoy. Rory has actually admitted that if given the chance he would happily “burn” some of my attire, including a blazer he calls my ‘Abba Jacket” and another favourite of mine, the “Harry Potter cape”.    

 

With the assistance of Rory and his friend Paul I have compiled a bewildering list of female trends that men despise. And I am not talking about silver jumpsuits and balaclavas here, ladies, oh no these fashion statements are much worse (apparently!). Unbelievably what they find hideous are items that we consider “wardrobe staples”. Prepare to be blown away.

 

Number one on their list is Uggs. You know, the sheepskin boots made by that popular Australian brand? Harmless, right? Wrong. In fact Paul has forbidden his partner from wearing these “unacceptable” shoes. He describes them as being “clichéd…oversized, expensive slippers that are impractical and people seem to think they go with everything.” I would have to agree that in some cases Uggs don’t work (like with a pencil skirt!) but ultimately there is little else that are as comfy.

 

Rory is similarly aggrieved when it comes to footwear. But his problem is with wedges. He finds them desperately unattractive. He says “It is like someone couldn’t be bothered to make the heel so just stuck a lump of wood in its place.” I tried to explain that they are much easier to walk in compared to a stiletto, but he dismissed this and yelled ‘hideous!”.

 

As I mentioned earlier, underwear doesn’t always make men happy, and this is the case for Paul. He absolutely hates thongs! Come on! – what could be sexier? Apparently “the sheer nature of thongs is a turn off – they sit far too high.” He much prefers the classic Frenchie – so I guess less isn’t always more?

 

Paul and Rory both agree that flaunting yourself is not a hot look. The underwear as outerwear trend is clearly not appreciated, and neither are leggings. Wait what? Leggings? Apparently so. Rory describes his frustration with women wearing leggings without covering their bottoms. “It looks like they’ve forgot to put their skirt on – they are too clingy and they leave nothing to the imagination.”

 

Other things they want us to avoid: fur coats “unless you want to look like a walking rodent”; dangly earrings because “ear lobes freak [them] out in the first place”; and waist-cinching belts because “it makes you look like you are in a fun house mirror”. The list goes on and on…. 

 

Now, I know what you are probably thinking – why are you telling us this? Do you want us to change our style to suit our guys? No, quite the opposite. Don’t dress for your man, dress for yourself. If you feel hot, then you’ll look hot. Confidence is your greatest accessory. This Valentine’s Day treat him to an outfit you know he’ll like, but never compromise your individuality. I have to laugh when Rory criticises my outfits, because his responses are so creative that he deserves it. I will continue to wear things that are far too “crazy” and he will continue to tease me about it. But really, who cares?

Result!

A hair style that I can change depending on my mood. 🙂

Day Two for the Idealist Serum

 

My skin feels the same as it did yesterday. Very soft, very clear and tighter. The serum claims it will minimise the look of pores – but my pores look bigger today. I don’t know if it is a gradual process, but if I’m paying £50 I want to see instant results!

Today I managed to go without make-up so the serum is obviously not too bad!

When I asked my mum if she would like to try some out she replied “Oh no. I wouldn’t feel right putting something THAT expensive on my face!” As if she would turn in to Queen Lizzy herself if she dared!

Peace. x

Starting the Portfolio

 A big sigh of relief is needed because I am very nearly finished my first year at Edinburgh Napier and nothing has went drastically wrong, I have passed all of my assessments (so far!) and the enjoyment involved really made it fly by! This semester was far more difficult than the previous one, because I was given the task of beginning my portfolio (eek!). For someone who has little hard-news writing experience this was a huge challenge and it meant I had to find stories, interview sources, write articles in a structured way and remember all my news values.

As you can probably tell from this blog, I am not a very structured person – in fact I feel like the organisation involved in “being a journalist” is far greater than most people realise! You have to structure your time so that you are meeting your deadlines, you have to make sure you keep spare time to deal with any possible problems that arise AND you have to organise all your notes and interview scripts in the SAME PLACE so that you don’t lose anything – you’ll learn for next time Julia!

Another thing I didn’t realise before I began this portfolio-process was that journalists are on the phone a hell of a lot! I am the type of person that would always rather speak to someone in person, or text/email them, rather than have to go through the awkwardness of a phone call. The danger of speaking at the same time, over-emphasising, under-emphasising, putting on a clearer voice that really sounds nothing like you but more like a shrieking Helena Boham-Carter. So I had to conquer my fear this semester as I nervously wrote down everything I would need to say on a piece of paper in front of me – reading a script is something that comes almost second nature to me so…

Hello there, my name is Julia Carstairs and I am a student journalist writing for the Edinburgh Napier News. I am currently writing a story about the Borders Railway and I am aware that your house has recently been compulsory purchased. (breathe….) Would you be happy to speak with me?

It was only when I encountered an embarrassing situation where a very snotty Borders Council employee asked me to “slow down” and “repeat everything” I had just said, that I realised that this scripted way of using a phone was not helping. My plan had failed and I ended up looking very silly. After about the fourth phone call I began to get the hang of using a phone naturally, so-to-speak, and it was much easier after I gained that confidence.  

For my first article my interviewees were terrific. All my interviews were done over the phone because I was short of time and I really couldn’t cram in a 30 minute bus journey. The first person I interviewed didn’t want me to record the conversation, which is fine (personally I would say it benefits him just as much as it does me, as it means I can’t misquote him or put words in his mouth, as he could just get me done for liable, and there would be a tape to prove it), so I couldn’t directly quote him in great length, but I did get some fantastic information that I used in my article. My second interviewee, you could tell was experienced with interviews, and he had A LOT to say, and made very good points. His attitude and manner was very helpful and appreciative and as he was a community councillor, it made my article all the more credible. After coming off the phone with him I couldn’t stop grinning, I was so pleased!

One thing that didn’t please me – in fact it did the opposite – was contacting the council. I was diverted all over the shop, given different phone numbers, different names until I finally reached someone who did have two minutes to spare (in Glasgow – nowhere near where the railway is being built!) and she gave me a great email address! The first problem I came across was that the council will always try to dwindle their way out of things so that the journalist is not given the information that will make them look bad. That may seem obvious, but when they gave me a piece of legislation (Data Protection Act) as a reason for not giving me information I was blown away. I eventually found that piece of information for myself in the LOCAL library – yes, sure, very Data Protection Act, indeed.    

The second time I phoned the council I was only giving them the right of reply, which I thought they would appreciate and use to their full advantage. But no, instead they sent me a link to the “Borders Railway” website and told me to look up benefits. As if that wasn’t the first place I had looked when I began my article….but hey, they probably thought I was just a student journalist or something…hmm.

Hopefully for my next great news story I will have the “Edinburgh Evening News” name behind me. Wishful thinking but I’m guessing that will make things easier.

Links to the two articles I wrote for my portfolio:

http://edinburghnapiernews.com/2011/03/31/the-borders-railway-line-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen/

http://www.playstosee.com/page.php?sad=play&id=119

‘Brush with Fashion’ at The Body Shop

The Body Shop have just launched a new brand of make-up called ‘Brush with Fashion’ and it claims to be cruelty-free make-up – which makes a happy change! This brand was created in collaboration with London College of Fashion, and it has a very hip/edgy feel to it, focusing in one the key make-up trends for Spring/Summer 2011.

Yesterday I attended the launch party of the brand with my ‘Love Your Body’ card (I recommend any Body Shop fans to sign up for one of these – you will not regret it!) and was invited to try out this new make-up and also indulge in some much needed cupcakes. The store on Princes Street was absolutely buzzing with people, and with a free Carbon Eye Definer worth £9 when 2 make-up products were bought, everyone was interested in the Body Shop’s make-up for once, not just their body butters!

87603m_lA very friendly sales assistant told me all about the new brand and said she was happy that customers were coming in for the make-up for a change! Although all the ‘Brush with Fashion’ range looked great, it was the Illuminating Face Base (£14) that caught my eye first. The lovely lady offered to try the product out on me, and used the base on one side of my face so that I could really see the difference, then finished me off. I have to say that the impact was astounding – my skin is usually very clear so there is no need for me to cover up with layers of foundation – but this base gave me such a summery glow that you would think I was back from the Caribbean. The first application of the product does feel quite thick and heavy on the skin, but the cream absorbs into your pores very quickly and leaves you looking very fresh. You could get away with wearing just this on a lazy day and it does wonders for your skin, what with its Fair Trade Marula Oil ingredients. The application couldn’t be easier – the face base comes with a brush and you twist the bottom of the tube so the cream spreads evenly over your face. The quirky design of the tube was a hit as well.

87593m_lAlong with that purchase, I also bought Tailored Cheek Tint (£10), which can be used on the cheeks and lips. This product is very clever as it adapts to your individual pH, so it can never look wrong. It comes with a little brush as well, but for even coverage you are probably best using either your fingers or a blusher brush to apply it. It is a clear gel, that changes to pink when it makes contact with your skin. It is quite similar to Bourjois’ Rose Exclusif (£6.99) lipgloss, but is the first cheek tint that I have ever seen produced this way.

So with my 20% discount, and my free eyeliner it was a visit well worth while. Unfortunately I couldn’t make today’s student day with 30% off for all students. But maybe next time, in fact, definitely next time.     

‘This Charming Girl’ Certainly Charms the Hell Out of Me!

If you want to embrace antique-gold, brass finish, vintage feel jewellery then this site is a must to add to your favourites! ‘This Charming Girl’ was launched in 2006 by fellow-Scot Jacqueline Currie and is now a thriving jewellery business, having stockists absolutely everywhere, shipping worldwide and offering a selection of jewels that would make your granny proud! (and that is a great thing!)

The feel of the jewellery itself is so unlike anything on the high street, that the rough finish most pieces have make them all the more loveable and kitsch. All of the jewellery is made from recycled vintage pieces, so that you can really feel the history behind what you are wearing. I think the style of jewellery is for a specific taste and may not be fully appreciated by, say, the more punk of us. But Jacqueline clearly has style and direction and does not offer too much with regards to different jewellery genres. 

The website has a very inviting feel to it, with its header catching your eye and clearly illustrating what the site has to offer us lucky ladies. It is also well informed, making sure its customers have all the knowledge they will need; including return policy, ordering information, a blog and a section on how to care for your jewellery – which is a huge plus! The variety of jewellery available is satisfactory, but as a girl who loves choice, the more the better! This site seems to be a shining example of WHAT TO DO and WHAT WORKS.

Difficult choices to make but here come my three favourites:

Image of Ribbon

This cute as pie bow necklace is called ‘Ribbon’ and comes on a 18” chain (£10.50) and as a mini-version (£9). What with bows making a come-back this year I think that this deserves a place in every girls jewellery collection. The ruffled appearance of the bow make it seem almost untidy, which gives it a childish edge. This piece is timeless and one you can wear whatever the weather. Personally I would opt for the larger of the two, making a bigger impact but only costing slightly more.

 Image of I'm Late, I'm Late brooch (as seen in BLISS & LONDON LITE!)

As a huge Alice in Wonderland fan this second choice was very easy. I don’t usually wear brooches and this safety-pin like design is not one I would usually go for, but the subtle inclusion of the gold rabbit and the ticking mini clock make me melt. ‘I’m Late, I’m Late Brooch’ is so unique and unlike anything on the high street. It could be pinned on to the pocket of a military blazer, used to hold a wrap cardi together, even pinned into your hair! The possibilities of where to put this baby are endless. Like Mr Carroll himself, use your imagination and find a place to pin this little gem – please! At £8.50 you would be silly not to love it!

 Image of Nest Egg

Last piece (*weep*) is this stunning ‘Nest Egg’ necklace. This beauty I think may not appeal to everyone, as the egg design is quite clear and makes the piece lose its vintage touch slightly, but I love it. The combination of the white in the egg, and the gold of the swallows complement each other so well, and really make the necklace seem delicate and fresh. This would be a fantastic present for an expecting mother, two birds carrying such a precious gift. Symbolic as well as pretty – guaranteed a little giggle nonetheless. Priced at £13 it is the most expensive of the three, but the one I am most likely to buy. Oh well beauty is pain, pain to the purse-strings.

What a wonderful jewellery brand – one I am sure to use in the future. Now please ‘This Charming Girl’ get making some vintage rings!!!!!!!!!!!!!

x

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