Saturday, 29 November 2014

Book Review: The Rosie Project

I've literally just finished reading this book and I absolutely adored it! 

I was given the book for my Birthday from one of my closest friends, who recommended it. She studied English Literature at Uni and can easily get through two or three books a week, so I completely trust her opinion!

The story follows Don Tillman, a scientist who specialises in genetics. He reminded me very much of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory as he is on the autistic spectrum, very set in his ways, lives by a rigid structure and struggles when it comes to social skills. He devises a questionnaire to find the 'perfect woman' with whom he can share his life, but sadly with no luck! 

Don gives up, but then his friend Gene sends Rosie his way. Rosie is everything Don doesn't want in a relationship and Don's life is thrown completely into chaos!

...I could quite easily go on to tell you the rest of the story, but I don't want to spoil it for you!

I honestly couldn't put this book down. Normally I'll read a chapter a night and put the book down, but I found myself diving through about four or five chapters at a time, completely unaware how much time was passing by! The characters are totally believable and the plot (although a little stretched at times) came together really nicely.

It was a pleasant little read so I shall keep this one, and look forward to reading it again!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Preparing For Christmas Part 4: Sending Cards And Packages

Make sure you don't leave your post until the last minute!

In case you didn't know, due to the volume of mail that is sent, Royal Mail set a number of deadlines for posting items in December to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas. Make sure you write there down somewhere safe so that you don't forget!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Anti Bullying Week

This week is Anti-Bullying week, so I thought I would share with you a story that happened to me when I was at school. It's one of many events that happened, but this one stood out to me beacuse I wanted to show that bullying isn't just physical: hitting, punching and calling someone names, it can be mental too, like threatening someone or cyber bulling.
For the sake of this story I will call my friend 'Lisa' and the girl who was sending the threats, 'Helen'

When I was in year 10 I was bullied for something I didn't do. It all started when our school had to have new windows installed. I went to an all girls school, so having male builders in seemed to be a novelty and distracted a lot of the girls in my class. In particular, was a young boy who was an apprentice. Most of the girls would swoon, gazing out of the classroom window to look at him while I was a bit of a geek and couldn't care less! One of my friends though, Lisa, completely fell for him. She would try and follow him around the building and would go bright red whenever she saw him.
Cameras weren't allowed in school, but one day I managed to sneak mine in because I wanted to take some nice photos at breaktime of my friends, having a laugh and playing around. Lisa begged me to try and get a photo of this boy, but I was very reluctant because I didn't want my camera to get confiscated. She was my friend though, so I eventually gave in. Rather than take a 'pap' shot from afar as I had thought, she went right up to the guy and asked for a photo of them together. *click* The photo was taken and the deed was done.
That evening I sent her the photo via MSN (remember that?) and she set it as her display picture. The next thing I know, another girl, Helen, has started a conversation with me. I knew her as she was in my class but we rarely spoke. She told me that she'd seen the photo and heard that I had his phone number. This was news to me! I didn't even know his name let alone have his phone number, and anyway, why would I be interested?! I told her the truth and logged off as it was getting late.
The next day, Helen approached me and asked me for the number. How did I get involved in all this? I just took the photo! I didn't even like him! She didn't seem to understand that though, and told me that she KNEW I had it and that she would break in to my house in the night while I was asleep to get it. She told me she would then take a photo of me asleep and post it on the internet for everyone to see. I knew this was a load of rubbish and that it would never happen, but just to be safe I told my parents. They reassured me it was fine, and told me to keep away from her, which I tried to do anyway!
In the mean time, I asked Lisa if she had spoken to the girl on MSN the night I sent her the photo. She said she had spoken to her and told her I took the photo, but she swore she didn't mention anything about a phone number.
The little niggly 'threats' continued for the next few days to which I would just tell her that I DIDN'T have the number and could she leave me alone now please. I even thought about writing down a random number on a piece of paper and giving it to her, but that could have got me into more trouble.
One night I was on MSN talking to my friends and Helen started a conversation with me. It's easy to say that in hindsight I should have blocked her and deleted her from my 'friends' list, but when you're 15 you don't tend to think logically! Anyway, this time she was a lot more aggressive. Why couldn't she let it go? Why didn't she just believe me?! She told me that if I didn't give her the number now I wouldn't live past the next day. She told me that if I went in to school she would find me and beat me up.

For me that was the last straw. I was in tears and called for my mum to come upstairs. As soon as she saw me I showed her the conversation that was still on screen. She knew that Helen had been making silly little threats as I had told her before but this time she was not happy and insisted that I print out the conversation and then block and delete her right away.
I begged to stay at home the next day but my parents decided that I should go into school and be brave. They told me that Helen's threats were completely hollow and that she would never go through with them. They said I shouldn't be scared because that's how Helen wants me to feel. I kenw that what they were saying was right, but I was terrified regardless!
I walked into school the next morning, shaking like a leaf, and couldn't wait until my friends arrived so I could sit with them - safety in numbers and all that! When they did turn up, I told them all that Helen had told me she was going to beat me up so they promised to stick by me. I hadn't seen Helen yet, but I felt like my destiny was immanent and was scared to walk around the corner in case she was there. She wasn't though!
I eventually saw Helen in class and she seemed surprised to see me. What had I done? It made me feel really self-conscious, but she turned away and carried on talking to her friends. Was that it?
Maybe she was saving me until lunchtime...
She didn't! No interrogations or threats... nothing!
Right, that's it, she's going to be waiting outside the school gates so that she doesn't get caught by the teachers....
Nope... Just my usual bus journey home.
I was relieved to be home and told my parents about my day. I realised that they were right that Helen was somehow jealous thinking I had a phone number, and that she wanted me to fear her, and admittedly I was still weary the next couple of days just in case she approached me again, but she never did. It was the most bizarre thing.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Preparing For Christmas Part 3: The Perfect Party Dress

This month and next month I imagine you have a LOT of parties to go to...
the office party, the family get-together, the Christmas eve soiree...
And I bet you're thinking one thing...
What am I going to WEAR?!

Let's be honest... are we going to be seeing the same people at every party? Probably not... So why waste money buying five different dresses when you can just get away with one, and mixing up the accessories to suit the occasion?

Coco Chanel was a style icon... but unknowingly she also became a money-saving goddess when she invented the 'LBD' (the little black dress). Who would have thought that one dress could be suitable for SO many occasions?!

Let's look at an example... using the SAME dress, here's a variety of different looks

The Evening Soiree:
LBD at Christmas
The gold highlights to this dress and bold red lip help add class and sophistication, but be careful not to overdo it! Too much gold could make you look like Mr. T - not cool!

The Office Party:
LBD Christmas 2
Red and green are the traditional Christmas colours, and flat shoes will help keep you dancing all night long without falling over and looking like the Office Idiot - trust me, that kind of reputation will stick with you! The santa hat adds a playful, informal element and makes you stand out in a crowd.

Girls' Night Out:
LBD Christmas 3
The red tights, wedge heels and novelty bag keep this outfit young and playful, so it is perfect for meeting up with friends and having a girlie night out.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Remembrance Day

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great war ends.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Preparing For Christmas Part 2: Homemade Gifts

I'm not sure why, but a lot of people seem to have a stigma against homemade gifts. In my eyes, if someone's taken the time to create something from scratch with you in mind, that's much better than heading out to the shops in a mad rush and buying something just for the sake of it!

Pinterest is a great place to start looking for inspiration!

Admittedy, I'm very fortunate because I work in the Technology department in a school, so I have access to lots of machinery and materials. (Don't worry, I always provide my own materials and ask permission from my boss first, but sometimes she lets me use scraps from the leftovers box!) 

I've managed to make gifts in the past like this Hello Kitty necklace....

...and this QPR football mug; one for my dad and one for my uncle.

(I've blurred out his name that's written on the shirt)

Since the shabby-chic trend came into fashion though, homemade gifts have been widely accepted and are sold online via stores like etsy, or at local craft fairs and boot sales. If you live anywhere near South East London, keep your eyes peeled for the Christmas Craft Fair that takes place at the O2!! I went there last year, and I literally could have bought everything!! If you can't get to a craft fair but fancy having a go yourself, check out these ideas:

1. Homemade Hot Chocolate Stirrers

Simple, yet effective - and great for cosying up with on a cold winters evening. Just add hot water or hot milk and voila!

There are lots of different recipes for this but my favourite one is by 30 Pounds Of Apples, which has really clear instructions and amazing photos. Enjoy!

2. Homemade Cookies-and-Cream Fudge

I've made this recipe a few times now and every time it's been a success! Once you get the basic recipe perfected, then you can try adding in different ingredients, like chocolate chips, raisins, marshmallow, even Baileys... As long as you old enough to drink! ...the possibilities are endless!

My dad actually found this recipe a few months ago, and we've been using it ever since! Take a look at the Food website to see how it's made!

3. Homemade (although technically this one's home-compiled) Pamper Hamper

I did this last year for my boyfriend's sister, and it's a great one for your female friends or relatives - especially mother-in-laws - if they deserve a bit of 'me' time.

A lot of hampers in my opinion are quite overpriced and you don't always get the best products in them. Making an individual 'pamper hamper' can not only work out cheaper (if you are thrifty and search around) but is also a lot more personal and can make the recipient feel a lot more special.

You don't even necessarily need a wicker hamper either, you could just jazz up a cardboard box with wrapping paper and ribbon, and you can add as little or as many gifts you like! 

To give you an example, here's a few of the things I put in my boyfriend's sister's hamper last year:
- a travel magazine
- a box of her favourite chocolates
- nail varnish
- some lovely relaxing bubble-bath
- a candle
- a bottle of her favourite wine
- a couple of face masks 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday

Since today is Remembrance Sunday, I thought I would keep today's post nice and simple and share with you a few photographs I have taken of the Tower of London.

This photo was taken back in August. Although there are lots of poppies planted already, it was nowhere near complete!

In October the moat of the tower was looking much more red and the impact was much stronger... There will be 888,264 poppies in total, one for each British life lost during WWI.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Top 10 Movie & TV Moustaches for Movember

November means pretty much five things: fireworks, bonfires, hot chocolate, cosy nights in and MOVEMBER!

Movember is a charity that has been fundraising for men's health awareness for a few years now - since 2006 to be precise! The idea is that at the beginning of the month, men will be clean shaven and commit to growing a moustache for 30 days, getting sponsor money in the process which is then donated to men's testicular cancer charities.

Personally I'm not a fan of the 'stache... I imagine it's quite itchy and annoying, but I've been told by lots of people that they can be quite smooth and soft... I have no idea, but I certainly respect and appreciate the good cause.

Since I do not have the ability to grow a moustache (thank goodness!) I thought I would post a rundown of my top 10 Movie and TV Moustaches...

10. Matt Dillon playing Healy in There's Something About Mary

Personally I find this look quite creepy! It reminds me of Tim Curry in Annie (which was my favourite film when I was little) so I associate it with being the 'bad guy', like a 1920s mob gangster...

9. Tom Selleck as Richard Burke in Friends

The on-again-off-again boyfriend of Monica's has a really stereotypical shaped 'tashe, doesn't he?

8. Sascha Baron-Cohen in Borat

Haha, ahhh Borat, what can I say? "I like" Errm... no... I don't, but Borat just wouldn't be Borat without it! 

7. Yosemite Sam by Warner Brothers

I'm not sure whether this dude technically counts as having a moustache... it was more like a beard-stache! Still, it's epic... and ginger <3

6. Will Ferrell in Anchorman

I absolutely LOVED this film, although I still haven't seen the sequel... :-O

5. Ned Flanders in The Simpsons Movie

Aww, Ned Flanders... such a sweetheart!

4. Ben Stiller as White Goodman in Dodgeball

I'm not sure whether I like Ben Stiller or not... I enjoyed his more 'serious' films like Night at the Museum and Meet the Parents/Fockers/Little Fockers, as opposed to the 'silly' films like Dodgeball, but this 'tache has gotta be up there. No, it may not be real, but it's quite amusing!

3. Charlie Chaplin

Such an iconic look! Whether you like it or not, it's become his trademark and therefore reaches my number 3.

2. Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook in Hook

This picture terrifies me... *shudders*

1. David Suchet as Hector Poirot in Poirot

My number one goes to David Suchet in Poirot. Did you know that Suchet always stays in character when he's filming this mystery series... even between takes! I guess that's a good thing really... 

If you know anyone who's taking part this month, make sure you sponsor them and wish them luck!

What are your thoughts on the 'tache? Are you a fan? Why?

...And who would be in your top 10?

Monday, 3 November 2014

Preparing For Christmas Part 1: Setting A Budget For Gifts

Okay, so it may seem a little early to be talking about Christmas, seeing as Halloween has only just gone (and I've been buying Christmas gifts since September!) but it's worth talking about that magical, yet somewhat scary word now, so that you don't end up in trouble... yep, that's the one... money!
So this series of posts will give you a few handy hints to make your money go further this Christmas!

Part 1: Setting a Budget for Gifts
It can be incredibly stressful buying gifts for people, and knowing exactly how much to spend on each of them. I have a lot of friends, but I'm closer to some than to others, therefore I spend more on them. It's not unfair, it's just common sense!
So here's what you need to do:
Step 1: Firstly, you need to make a list of everyone you need to buy for this Christmas...
1. Nick
2. Carla
3. Sam
4. Laura
5. Stuart
.... and so on ...
Step 2: Give them a score of 1-10 depending on how important they are...
1. Nick    10
2. Carla    8
3. Sam     6
4. Laura    8
5. Stuart    5
Step 3: Total these up.... 10 + 8 + 6 + 8 + 5 = 37!
Step 4: Right, now let's say you have a budget of £50 to spend on friends... Divide £50 by this number...  so £50 divided by 37 = £1.35
Step 5: Now multiply £1.35 by your score out of 10....
1. Nick   10 x £1.35 = £13.50
2. Carla   8 x £1.35 = £ 10.80
3. Sam    6 x £1.35 = £8.10
4. Laura  8 x £1.35 = £10.80
5. Stuart  5 x £1.35 = £6.75                 
.... and that's how much you need to spend on each person!!!
It's quite a long, formulaic way of doing it - and trust me I definietly do not have a mathematical brain - but it works and helps to keep you on track!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

November Goals

Happy November, everyone! Right, my goals for this month are:

1. Go to a fireworks display and/or bonfire 
2. Finish all my Christmas shopping - but I'm not allowed to wrap them! That's always done in December with the Christmas music on in the background :-)
3. Go to the University Open Day - in light of my October Goals, I'l be looking into starting the Masters degree and attending the Open Day, woop woop!