Has Instagram Stopped Us from Living in The Moment?….. NO!

I’ve been taking photographs regularly since I discovered Flickr in 2007. Unfortunately by then it was too late for me to have gleaned enough knowledge from it to pick a decent wedding photographer (I was married in 2006 and the professional photos were not very good. Thankfully my Brother-in-Law had his camera and took a bunch of great album worthy photos, phew!)

My love affair with phone photography started with the app Hipstamatic (which I really need to start using again) and then when instagram appeared, I was all about “the ‘gram”.

In my time taking photos I have completed 3 separate 365 projects (2 documented on my Flickr and 1 solely on instagram) For those who don’t know what this is, it’s simply taking one photo a day for a whole year. It’s kind of hard, and sometimes you don’t know what to take a picture of or just forget. But it’s taught me to really consider what makes a photo ‘interesting’ and whether a picture really is interesting before I load it to the internet. It really helped me to look at things in a different way to enable me to take a decent photo 365 times over a year.

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But after the first 2 (I did those back to back, since the first one was rather boring) I decided to put my camera away for the most part. I didn’t keep it in my bag (mobile phones didn’t have decent – or sometimes any – camera back then) I felt like I was too swept up with taking a photo at every good opportunity that I was missing out on the actual experience.

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Since then, and with vast technological advances, we all have awesome cameras in our pockets. My iPhone camera has a higher pixel quality than my Canon dSLR. But there’s always the chance to get swept up in a photo moment rather than fully living the experience. I remember going to an exclusive Hosier gig. The tickets were REALLY hard to get and he was just about topping his game. Everyone was talking about him. Two women in front of me took a few photos at the start of the gig, and then about an hour later I saw one of them uploading them to her instagram (whilst the gig was happening) and then within 15 minutes she was back on instagram, not only checking her likes, but sharing the photos with her friend sitting next to her – of the gig she was at that was STILL HAPPENING. She was busy reminiscing about something that was still happening in front of her and that she was missing….. FACE PALM

It’s certainly a fine line between sharing an experience and completely missing it. Years back, just after Michael Jackson had died, I went to a local town to see a Thriller Flashmob (remember when flashmobs were a thing?) The actual flashmob might have been good, I don’t know because this is what happened:

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You can play ‘spot the MJ impersonator’ with this one. I was totally struck by the amount of hands, phones and cameras there were in my way (this was 2009 so it wasn’t hugely the norm). But then, remember mine was in the crowd too!

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My first fulltime job was in retail back in 2001 and me and the girls used to find it odd seeing holiday makers with their cameras in a shopping centre taking photos of themselves in front of stores….. little did we know it would be the norm just a few year later.

Anyway, this is all bringing me to why I’m here talking about this today. A few days back Sara Tasker shared a link on Twitter (which you can find here) This article is about a Vimeo video (that you can watch in the article) created by a fella named Oliver, showing how ‘everyone takes the same pictures on instagram’. In itself it’s a really enjoyable video to watch, and well put together, so I’d encourage you to see it. But this site decided to interview the creator and here’s what he said:

“During my trip, I felt that many people didn’t really enjoy the moment and were hooked to their smartphones,” he says. “As if the ultimate goal of travel was to brag about it online and run after the likes and followers.”

I was with him up until then. I feel like this guy has really missed the point of instagram. He’s actively searched on instagram for places, tags and similarities and then put them together in a video. You could make a video of old paintings of fruit and tell people about how everyone back then was so obsessed with sharing their fruit bowls that their apples went bad before they could eat them…..

What he saw when he watched the video (he’d carefully curated) “Everyone spends the whole time behind their screen, everyone spends their whole holiday trying to get the perfect shot, that shot has been done already, this is all for likes, oh look at you bragging about your pretty beach holiday”

What I saw when I watched his video: “These people are living their best lives, look how happy they are, what an awesome view, what a crazy experience, these people belong in this world, I wish I could visit this place one day”

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What Oliver has failed to remember is

  • instagram promotes creativity, and it’s awesome to be creative and share that with like-minded people
  • taking photos is FUN
  • Not everyone is sharing everything from their holidays. That shot you’re seeing is the work of potentially 1 minute of their life
  • So what if they do spend their whole holiday with their face in their phone – it’s THEIR holiday and THEIR face!
  • Everyone is chasing experience to fill their one chance at life – so what if they’re having and then sharing the same experience as someone else has. It’s their experience – there are A LOT of them to have.
  • Sharing on instagram provides a little ‘experience’ to everyone who sees that picture. And it’s amazing for those who can’t (or haven’t yet) visit these places. Isn’t that the point, really?
  • If you feel it’s a ‘brag’ or you don’t like it – don’t look at it. Instagram isn’t mandatory. And if you can’t come off it, because you’re enjoying sharing your own pictures, remember why you’re using it. Your feed is there for you; curate it. Someone might just be sitting there looking at your photos thinking ‘what a bloody bragger’. They’re not for you, just like you, Oliver, are not for them.

I’m definitely an advocate of not missing an experience. But I’m also very concerned about forgetting experiences I’ve had. I have a huge fear that my memory will go and it’s a very lonely feeling. I want to be able to relive past experiences, and reminisce. The world of online albums and having a camera ‘right there’ when I need it is wonderful to me. I understand you shouldn’t have your face in your screen all the way throughout your life. If I’m filming or photographing something, I’m very careful to not view it through a viewfinder. But so what if people do – it’s their life, and if it makes them happy then ‘whatever’. And who knows, they might have experienced that thing a hundred times before, so filming whilst you’re there shouldn’t anger you – you concentrate on you. They might just be taking pictures or filming something on behalf of someone who just couldn’t get there. Their sharing this experience could bring enormous joy to someone across the globe, or even just to them in years to come.

It boils down to – why do you care so much? Concentrate on yourself, Oliver, and don’t spend so much time on Vimeo making videos about other people’s life experiences….. say what? It’s what you enjoy…..? oh! well…. my point has been made.

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All images are my own, are copyrighted to me and cannot be used under any circumstance.

Food Challenge Week 5: The Crispy Egg

I have a very hate/hate relationship with eggs. As a child the whites made me sick, and I’ve never really gotten over it. It’s a textural thing, whether the whites are boiled, fried, whatever, I just struggle.

When I started running I knew eggs were something I needed to try to get into my diet due to their protein content and also – I just love an egg yolk!

So I started scrambling them (with Worcester sauce in there to mask the taste), frying them (over-easy so there was no change of loose white on the top) and adding them into homemade fried rice. But even in all these ways, I had to really concentrate hard when it came to eating the whites, and give myself a kind of ‘mind over matter’ mindset in order to finish my meal.

A few years back, when I was reading the Smitten Kitchen’s blog, I was introduced to her Crispy Egg. The idea that I could potentially change the texture of the white and enable me to eat a fried egg without having to ‘go to my happy place’ was glorious.

I did however find the recipe intimidating. It’s an incredibly easy method, with only two ingredients (eggs and oil) but, as she says herself, it’s not for the faint hearted.

Well, on this day, as my lunch plans were egg on toast anyway, I decided to take the plunge. I took out my trusty heavy bottomed frying pan and spatula and followed her method. I was not disappointed.

You can visit the link above for her method, but in a nutshell, you get your pan smoking hot. Add a glug of oil and heat until it’s smoking. You then pop your eggs in, at which point they’ll spit and splatter at you and immediately start to bubble.

And then you just let them sit there without touching them, until the whites are opaque.

Once this is done, you’re good to go and can either flip them (I normally would but for the sake of pictures I didn’t this time) or remove them and place them on top of whatever you’re having. I went with toast.

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Can you see how crispy and bubbly those edges are? Granted mine might be slightly burnt, but the smokiness created by the charred bits was nothing short of glorious. I’ve never eaten a fried egg with such relish (or crunch)!

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Clearly I still had to add ketchup, but baby steps and all that.

Now, I will tell you about my casualty – don’t worry, I still have all fingers and the skin on my arm was unscathed by the hot oil….

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Apparently, my spatula wasn’t up to the task of the hot oil… so I’m in the market for a new (more robust) spatula, if anyone has a recommendation!

And once I’ve replaced this bad-boy, I’m sure crispy eggs will be back on the menu!

10/10 for this recipe!

Learning Modern Calligraphy – One Month In!

For those who read Musings regularly, you might remember me mentioning I was going to start a modern calligraphy course, as part of my Learn New Skills 2018 challenge? You’ll have no doubt seen my food challenge posts dotted throughout the past month, however I haven’t really mentioned my calligraphy progress.

We’ll, here goes! I’ve been taking The Happy Ever Crafter’s basics course over the 4 weeks of January, and I’ve really really enjoyed it.

Her new semester of modules actually starts in March, so I’ll be starting along with everyone else when that begins, but I really wanted to give myself a head start, so I’ve completed the first module (which is free) already, and I’ll then have a couple of months to practice and work on the areas I’m still struggling with.

The basics course gets you working on the strokes that make up all major parts of forming letters, and allows you to work on holding the pen, getting the correct pressure to form the strokes and what kind of brush nib you prefer.

Each day you work on a different type of stroke, and over the weeks you move from tracing every stroke, to totally freehand by the end.

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I set up a dedicated instagram account, so I could follow my progress and the progress of others during the modules, and I’ve really enjoyed connecting with people who have been doing the same! You can follow me on instagram at @letterbygroggits if you’d like to see my progress along the way.

So, now the 4 weeks is done, let’s see how I did!

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Monday was upstrokes and downstrokes. Simple lines, downstrokes with heavy pressure, and then a combination of the two. I struggled with the downstrokes for the whole 4 weeks, but think I started to get the hang of it by the end. They were looking less like S by the end too!

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Overturn strokes on Tuesday, and these started off too pointy at the top, but by the end of the month I’d managed to maintain the correct pressure and size and found these fairly easy to create.

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Similarly, Wednesday’s underturn curve became easier as the weeks went on, and I was able to create uniform shapes. But it took some practice!

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Compound curves on a Thursday became my favourite day. These are such fun to draw – not easy but I became more confident as the weeks went on, and really enjoy working on them!

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On the flip side of that, Friday was my least favourite day. Ovals I just cannot do yet and I’ll be continuing to practice these for a while I feel. I just can’t seem to get the pressure correct no matter how I hold my pen. These are going to be integral to lots of letter shapes, so I know I need to get them down!

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Saturday brought ascending loops, and again these are tricky little blighters. I’ll need to practice these too, but I think when I concentrate and take it really slow I can almost draw these!

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And then Sunday was descending loops, which were just as hard, if not harder. Again, it’s hard to work out the pressure when starting from the top and get my wrist in the correct place!

I’ve got a few months to practice these before the next module starts, so I need to make sure I do actually practice so I get a head start on the next work book.

I’ve really enjoyed working through this work book. I found my confidence increased week by week, which is something I really love about learning brand-new skills. I didn’t expect it to be so therapeutic, and I’ve actually learned to slow down and concentrate on forming each and every shape carefully – not something I’m used to. But completing this module has actually taught me something about myself – I need to stop rushing. Things will end up better if I actually take the time over them and slow down. I think this course is going to be good for me!

Food Challenge Week 4: Russian Dressing & and Reuben Inspired Sandwich

So, I’ve made a one-pan meal, a potato salad and a dessert. I figured this week I’d make a dressing!

As previously mentioned, I love New York and a lot of the original flavours the food that comes from there brings. I’ve had a Reuben sandwich before, but never made the dressing that comes in it, so I thought I’d try my hand at that, and then make a sandwich (a Reuben with a twist) to eat it on!

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Russian dressing is super simple, and includes ingredients I already had in the house, so no doubt you’ll probably be the same. All it contains is mayo (80g) and then 1 tsp each of Worcester sauce, tommy k and mustard. Then mix it all together and hey presto!

The sandwich we created was made on rye bread, to keep it real, and we spread some dijon mustard on one side. We then added sliced turkey, Leerdammer cheese, pickled red slaw, and a good helping of Russian dressing on the other side.

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We had this with a heap of kettle chips on the side. I was very impressed with this sauce, and the sandwich altogether. I really love the red slaw we put on top. I know sauerkraut is traditional for a Reuben sandwich but as I said, this was our twist on it!

This is a dressing I’ll be trying again, and have eaten it since with breaded chicken steaks and it was really good!

I’ll give this recipe a 9/10 for it’s flavour and simplicity!

OMG! 20 Years of Blogging!

Yes, you read that right. 2018 marks my 20th year of doing this blogging thing.

Over the years I’ve used different platforms and blogged in different ways. This blog you’re reading now, Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug, has been alive for 8.5 years so will be celebrating its 9th birthday this year. Obviously I like this iteration of blogging, however I’ve been going since I have had LiveJournal, Tumblr, Windows Live, MySpace, AcmeCity…. I can’t even remember all of the blogging platforms I’ve used.

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When I started blogging, back when I was 15, the internet was a smaller place. There were fewer people using it – it was only for nerds and geeks. Not every home had a computer, let alone the internet.

Depending on the platform I was using, I wrote about my life, tv shows, films and made graphics for fansites (mainly Buffy and The X-Files). I helped with a film review site and took photos, lots of photos. These are mainly showcased on Flickr, still. I can’t bring myself to delete the older photos whether they’re good or bad. (Btw, this post is smattered with some of these old photos, and I’ve enjoyed looking through them – the one above was taken 10 years ago when I was 25.)

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And then when I started Musings, here on WordPress, everything seemed to click. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I became immersed in the blogosphere and the world that is ‘influencing’.

When I started blogging, it was all about the words. What your story was and how you could put it across. And I still clutch onto that like a security blanket. But now it’s so much harder to get people to read what you write. There are so many younger, prettier, more wealthy people out there. They’re taking amazing photos, seem to have an endless supply of props for their shoots, apparently all have been born with marketing degrees and buckets of confidence to get that elusive candid but obviously set-up shot of them looking at their shoes.

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And more power to those people – but it can get a little frustrating when you read their posts and there’s actually no content, just 50 large photos of the same thing and lots of words that don’t tell you anything about anything. I will say, this isn’t everyone. I read blogs by some amazingly talented writers and photographers, and if you’d like to know who these people are, just follow my twitter because I like to retweet their amazing posts.

Anyhow, I digress. That’s not why I started blogging. I don’t often talk about myself in the ‘real world’ Unless someone asks me directly about something (at which point I can talk for hours until you stop me) but usually people don’t ask me, so I don’t volunteer. I’ve learned that usually people are just being polite, and don’t actually want to know the answer. But I like to share what I want to share (it’s part of being a control freak). And so I blog.

Blogging and photo blogging has taken me through sickness, health, job changes, happy times, events, holidays, style changes, and many many hair cuts.

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It’s made me happy with looking at myself through taking selfies, it’s shown me how to look at the world in a different way – I see the beauty in everyday situations. It’s taught me to see many sides of different situations and think before I speak. It’s allowed me to see different worlds and cultures in places far from me and close to home.

Through reading other people’s blogs I get to live their lives a little, see their worlds and perspectives. Learn what’s important to them and how they feel and see things. I get to watch people change, have children and watch them grow. I see marriages end, relationships start and read about them going through hurt and happiness. It’s like reading an amazing novel, thousands of them in fact, but this is all real life.

For me blogging is not for money, or free things. It’s partly because it’s nice to feel needed, so when I see comments, likes or shares, it’s helps me to carry on. But it’s mostly because I love to do it. My little diary, my little square of the internet. I REALLY enjoy writing, I LOVE to take photos, I enjoy making a connection.

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So even though the blogging world has changed dramatically since I started to diarise my life in this virtual world, I feel like my ‘blogging ethic’ has stayed the same even if it has evolved slightly to allow me to keep my head above water.

I may not have the readership of some, or the engagement of others, but it’s mine. My little space here. So thank you for reading it and here’s to the next 20 years!

Food Challenge Week 3: Chocolate Fridge Cake

After having made 2 savoury recipes, I wanted to try something sweet. Despite everyone being on diets this month, I figured screw that because I’m not.

I wanted something fairly low maintenance and also something I could easily make dairy-free.

Enter the Hummingbird Bakery Fridge Cake. This is NOT a healthy recipe. It’s got so much sugar and fat in it that I felt bad every time I ate one. And this recipe makes so much I took a load into work and a week later they’re not all gone yet…. I should probably chuck them. BUT if you’re having a party or need something for a bake sale or coffee morning then these would be perfect.

There’s no baking involved in this recipe, hence the name ‘fridge cake’ and you can play around with what you put inside it. I decided that because I don’t like raisins, I would add some jelly beans. I also wanted to add pop rocks, but couldn’t find any…. alas.

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The first thing I did for this recipe was to smash up 800g of digestive biscuits (I found the Tesco own-brand ones are vegan, so no dairy!) I used a rolling pin and bashed them lightly inside a ziplock bag.

To this I added 200g of jelly beans, but you can add raisins if you like them.

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To bind all this together, you need to make the liquid for the cake, so you put cocoa powder (100g), butter (400g! – I used Vitalite) and then 200ml of golden syrup, into a large saucepan. I warned you this wasn’t for the health-conscious!

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Look at all that butter sitting proudly in my saucepan…… I can feel my arteries hardening just looking at the picture…..

Heat all this over a medium heat, until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.

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You can see from my picture, when you raise the spoon, you’ll be able to see if your butter hasn’t melted yet as the mix runs off. Just make sure it’s all melted through before you combine your ingredients.

Then you mix the wet ingredients into your dry ingredients until completely coated.

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It’ll look like a nice brown mess!

You need to line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. I put clingfilm in first, because I wanted to be able to lift the whole lot out easily. I made sure the clingfilm hung long over the sides, and then lined on top of that with greaseproof paper. Then you put the whole lot into the tray, pressing down with a large metal spoon as you go. Then lay another sheet of greaseproof paper on top, grab another baking tray (you’re going to use this as a makeshift lid) and push down. Then pop some heavy cans on top of that to weigh it down, and leave until completely cool. Once you’re happy everything has cooled down, transfer the whole thing into the fridge for a minimum of a couple of hours, but preferably over night.

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This is what I had after about 4 hours in the fridge. I lifted the whole lot out of the tray, using the clingfilm, which made it so much easier. And then I sliced the slab into squares using a large sharp knife.

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The recipe states it makes 14 bars, but I cut this into about 25 squares, which were plenty large and filling.

At first I was a little put off by the jelly bean’s fruity flavour, but I have quickly gotten used to them and have eaten far too many in one week for my liking.

This is definitely a great recipe though, and I’ll keep it in my repertoire for when I need to make something for a party or occasion! Tasty and dairy-free too! I’ll give this recipe an 8/10!

First Impressions: Glossier

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If you’re into beauty and you’re not living under a rock, then you’ve heard of Glossier make up.

A spin-off from a beauty blog Into The Gloss, Glossier promotes itself as a natural-beauty brand, giving ‘real skin’ looks, for an undone finish. They create products for a dewy complexion, for all skin tones and they’re cruelty free. They’re midrange cost wise (think Nars kind of prices) and towards the end of 2017 they launched shipping to the UK. The beauty community went wild!

I was most interested in them because their Generation G lipsticks looked so similar in the tube to the ColourPop Blotted Lip lipsticks I already use. So I knew I wanted to try those. My main hesitation to their base products is that I have combination skin, and their products tend to lean towards the hydrating and dewy side. But after having read some reviews, spoken with the team on twitter regarding tone selections and checking my bank balance, I decided to take the plunge.

I’ll start with the support team – I had some Royal Mail delivery issues with my order, but the team went above and beyond to make sure I received the products I ordered. They’re honestly the best. And when I was enquiring on shade choices for concealer, they asked me to send them a selfie and they told me what would suit me best (and, spoiler, they were right!)

So my order arrived, and I’m going to give you a first impressions perspective of what I ordered. I’ve used most of the products only a couple of times, so I can’t give a definitive review (that will come later) but for now, here’s what I think!

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I’ll start with the packaging. My order came with a little ‘welcome’ card in a sleeve, a sheet of stickers and another little sticker. I think the idea is you can adorn your white packaged products with the stickers and give them a little bling! I also opted in to get a sample of their new perfume ‘You’. I need to try this out on my skin to see whether it wears nicely. On first smell, it’s not for me. The box arrived with ‘Glossier’ tape on the seal and inside the box is all Pink with text printed on the inside. The loose items I ordered came inside pink zip bags which will come in so useful for travel (You’ll see more of those later).

The first thing I ordered was a set called Phase 2. This contains their stretch concealer, boy brow and one of their Generation G lipsticks. I wanted all 3 of these anyhow, so I bought the set and saved a little cash. You can choose whichever shades you want.

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The packaging of this set is lovely. A magnetic and very luxe box was shrouded in a pink plastic sleeve.

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Then inside, the products were swaddled in their own pink zip bag.

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I ordered one of their Boy Brow, in clear. This contains a teeny spoolie wand and white/clear cream which dries down invisibly. The wand being so small is great since it means you can really control the brows, and is much easier to use than my current NYX version. It sets the brows to a soft but secure hold. Your brows don’t feel hard when you touch them, but the hold is very good.

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I chose the Stretch Concealer in the shade medium. What I’d read was that this was a light coverage concealer, that was hydrating, non drying and didn’t sit in fine lines. I also read that it wasn’t great for very dark circles (which I have in spades). On trying this I believe all but the last point. I still use my NYX colour corrector underneath this, but I really enjoy the hydrating feel. This barely settles in lines and when it does I can just pat it out (I have a lot of fine lines under my eyes). My dark circles were covered enough. This blends out really well, and though I still set this with a light translucent powder (I prefer the same level of dewy throughout my whole face and didn’t want to leave my under eyes looking greasy) it still looks like real skin and not dry or powdery at all.

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Based on Allana Davison’s recommendation in this set I chose the shade Zip in the Generation G lipstick. This is a ‘sheer matte’ lipstick and the formula is very similar to the ColourPop Blotted Lip line. I’ll do a proper comparison post dedicated to these two, once I’ve had the chance to try these Glossier ones out properly. But on first swipe I’m impressed. A light wash of colour is easy to achieve, and then you can build it up. It doesn’t feel drying, and gives you that lovely low maintenance look of ‘I’ve made an effort’ when you really haven’t. I want to try this out built up a bit more, and see how long it will last with a little powder in between layers. I’ll report back.

Next –

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As a self-confessed lip balm hoarder, I wanted to try the balmdotcom lip balms, of which there are a whole range. I couldn’t choose which flavour I wanted to try, and then noticed you could pick 3 and save a little cash (sucker) so I went for that option. These came in their own plastic sleeve, and then in separate, and beautifully graphic intense, boxes.

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I chose their Rose, Cherry and Mint options, and I can safely safe I am a fan. In fact I haven’t touched my beloved Cherry Chapstick since these arrived. Each of these has a thick, vaseline consistency (but I mean that in a nice way) You’re encouraged to use the non-tinted ones on your lips, cuticles and any dry areas, and due to their consistency I really believe you can! Once applied to the lips the product stays there. I only need to reapply after eating. Another thing I was really impressed with: usually after changing my lip balm, my lips freak out. They swell, blotch and itch. Even with products I’ve used before (yes, that includes the chapstick!). I don’t know why – maybe I’m allergic to something in them. But it happens with lipsticks, glosses and balms. This product hasn’t reacted at all with my lips. My lips LOVE these. Hallelujah.

So let’s talk about each flavour I picked up:

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If you’ve used any mint lip products before, you can expect what this mint balmdotcom does. You wash it over your lips and they feel fresh, tingly, and they definitely feel plump even if they’re not. I like to use this morning and night after I’ve brushed my teeth to extend that fresh feeling.

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I’m a fan of rose scented lip products, and this is no exception. This gives a subtle floral scent and a very very subtle light pink wash to the lips. So subtle that I can also use this on dry patches on my hands and no one would notice. I use this as a fantastic every day balm.

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The cherry balmdotcom is a deep red shade in the tube and you wouldn’t want to use this anywhere but on the lips. It provides a lovely lovely deep red wash over the lip, which is great for days when your lips blend into the rest of your face but you don’t want to put on lipstick. The colour does transfer a little onto cups and glasses. The cherry scent is also delightful.

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Again with the lips, and the final Generation G lipstick I bought which is this dark berry shade Jam. I lusted after this after seeing Allan Davison wearing it so much last year (AND I also recognised the main character in 50 Shades Darker wearing this just by sight [I didn’t pay enough attention to remember her name, but I did notice her lipstick] so I was rather chuffed with myself! – now let’s forget I admitted to watching that film) This is a dark shade on me, but I’m really looking forward to playing around with different ways to wear it.

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And lastly, I picked up the Perfecting Skin Tint in the shade light. This product is the one I’m the most on the fence about, but I’ve only worn it twice and I need to play about with it more, and report back. This product needs shaking to combine for each use, and it’s a very very sheer wash of colour to provide a perfecting layer on top of natural skin. It’s like a veil or real life instagram filter. The first time I used this I squeezed it out on my hand. I was alarmed at how pale it looked on my face but this warmed up and adjusted nicely to my natural skin tone. But then I couldn’t wash the product off my hands – it was too oily. I mentioned I have combination skin and so I started to worry. Both times I’ve worn this it does feel like I have a layer of serum on my face. You get used to it, but it’s not what I expected.

It gives a good enough coverage, for a good skin day, and I find I can lightly powder problem areas to dull down the wet look and just leave a ‘dewy’ finish. I didn’t like the smell. It smells a little ‘off’ is the only way I can put it. Again, I get used to it a few hours later, but I don’t like the idea of putting something ‘off’ on my face. Throughout the day I get more oily. My t-zone struggles and at work last week I had to rush to the bathroom and blot my face with toilet paper – I’m so classy. But this being said, I hadn’t used primer because I wanted to try the tint in different ways. So I’m going to keep trying it, and also mix it in with other foundations and see how I go. And I will, of course, report back. I’d say this is PERFECT for dry skin, if you have oily skin avoid it, and I’ll see how I get on with my combination skin.

So that’s what I picked up in my first Glossier order. They have, in the last week, announced a new skincare product called Solution, which is an exfoliating toner (I’m assuming much like the Pixi Glow tonic which I already use) and it promises to even out your skin tone as well as reducing acne you have, acne you haven’t had yet and spot scars. I’ve been struggling with blemishes a lot in the last few months and have plenty of scars so I’ve ordered one of these and I’m waiting for it to arrive. I’ll definitely keep tabs on my progress and give it a review after about a month’s usage. I’ve also got my eyes on another Generation G lipstick and the Wowder powder, so no doubt those will be added to my collection at some point!

If you’ve been thinking of trying something from Glossier, and you’ve decided to take the plunge, you can get 10% off your first order by using my referral link here! If you use the link I’ll get some Glossier store credit (one more step towards that Wowder!) and you’ll get a link of your own to share once you’ve placed your first order!

Keep an eye out for follow-up reviews of the Generation G lipsticks (and their comparison with the ColourPop Blotted Lips) and what I think of the skin tint! Have you used these products with combination skin? How did you get on? Do you have any tips?

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Food Challenge Week 2: NY Deli Style Dill Potato Salad

Two weeks into my challenge and I’m feeling pretty good. I have been asked a few times whether I have a list of possible recipes, which sounds like a good idea, but I haven’t had the time to sit and think of one yet!

Last week’s recipe was a little of a let down, so this week I decided to try something a little lighter, and make something I would be able to add to my daily work lunches.

I’m a HUGE fan of the humble potato. If I was told I could only pick one ingredient to eat the rest of my lifetime it would be a potato. When I was in New York last, I ate the most incredible potato salad at Katz’s Deli, I think I reminisce about this salad at least a few times a week still, and this trip was over 2 years ago now!

So, a while back I picked up a recipe book called New York Cult Recipes.

recipe books

Inside it talks about fantastic eateries (Katz’s being one of them) and although the recipe for potato salad inside this book doesn’t replicate the one I ate on that trip, having never made potato salad before, I thought this was probably a good place to start.

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You start off with your potatoes (700g) and you chop them into quarters or smaller, depending on how big your new potatoes are.

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The recipe said to peel the potatoes first, but who has the patience to peel new potatoes? You boil them for about 10 minutes on a slow boil until they’re cooked through but still a little firm. Then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. These then can be left to cool.

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Chop your red onion (50g) really small, and then put this into a bowl of cold water for a few minutes and drain. This will get rid of some of that acridity you get from a raw onion.

You put 1 1/2 tablespoons of capers, the drained red onion and the cooled potatoes into a big bowl, ready for the dressing.

Now, there’s a lot of sugar in this dressing. An alarming amount – and when I tasted it after I’d made it, I was a little shocked. But actually it worked really well with the rest of the ingredients and there was a good balance of flavours. So please run with it.

For the dressing you add caster sugar (40g), 2 pinches of salt and 2 grinds of the pepper mill, 1 garlic clove, 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar), mayonnaise (60g) and natural yogurt (60g). Mix all of this together until all the sugar has dissolved and everything is combined. Give it a taste and make sure it feels balanced – it will taste sweet, like I said.

Then you add some finely chopped fresh dill (1 tablespoon).

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Add all of this to the potatoes, and stir gently, making sure not to crush the potatoes.

My potatoes were still quite firm (that’s what she said), so there was no risk of that!

Then you just chill and serve as and when you want to eat it. This recipe says it’ll serve 6 people. I divided it between 5 working days as an accompaniment to a fresh salad.

I used soy plain yogurt and found the dressing to be fairly runny. It also separated a bit between servings so I had to keep mixing it before serving. But it tasted REALLY good.

Not the most photogenic of concoctions though…

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I really enjoyed the addition of the dill in this, which made the whole dish special in my opinion. I’ll probably end up making this again!

I give this recipe 8/10 🙂

What I Watched in 2017 – TV, Film & Documentary

I know, I know, we’re so over 2017. But I usually write a TV and Film round-up and this time it’s coming a few weeks into the year.

I’m lucky to have a husband who keeps a note of all the things we’ve watched in a year, because it’s interesting to look back on it. This year was full of some fantastic TV and Movies and I’d like to share with you the ones I really enjoyed.

Let’s start with film. There were only a couple of stand out films for me this year, and neither of them came out in 2017, it’s just I only got to see them that year.

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La La Land was a stand out favourite of mine. I went into this film wanting to hate it, for some reason. I don’t particularly like musical films. I find them awkward and unrealistic. And I think that’s what a lot of people didn’t like about this movie from the start. It’s rather cheesy from the get-go. BUT I adored it. I think it starts off overly cheesy for a reason – to get you immersed in what’s to come, and then it gets way less cheesy and you’re committed to the fact that people might start singing for no reason. But I know a great deal of people didn’t make it this far, and turned the film off. A lot of the things that happen in this film are metaphors (they don’t really start flying in the sky at night, but it’s a metaphor for how they’re feeling about each other) The film is uplifting, frustrating and heart breaking. And despite everyone breaking into song, it’s also an incredibly realistic portrayal of a modern relationship. If you like classic film, you have an open mind, and you haven’t seen this film yet – SEE IT!

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Drive was another movie I hadn’t seen yet, but everyone kept harping on about the music, and I figured why not carry on with the Ryan Gosling fest. This movie showed me what a truly incredible actor he is. He can achieve such power in such subtle acting, it’s amazing. Anyhow, this movie took my breath away. One particular scene, I realised afterwards, actually had me holding my breath. Another scene was so intense it reminded me of one in Scarface. It’s not a happy film, it’s not a lighthearted one either. If you don’t like guns and blood and fighting, stay clear. The soundtrack is really awesome too – it sticks the whole thing together like glue. Really an awesome film (Dad, if you read this, I think you might really enjoy this one).

Honourable mention to Don’t Think Twice (if you like improv comedy then you’ll like this one), Get Out and The Big Sick. Also Trick ‘r’ Treat, Table 19 and Julie & Julia.

So let’s move on to TV.

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Obviously I have to mention the epic return of Twin Peaks. Gary and I watched the entire show ahead of the new season being broadcast. And we weren’t disappointed when the new episodes aired. There were a couple of scenes in this new iteration of the show which still give me chills thinking about them (both consist of someone screaming, funnily enough) I can’t wait to hear whether a new season will be made, since there was so much unexplained!

Other shows we watched and very much enjoyed were

  • Freaks and Geeks
  • The OA
  • Stranger Things
  • Atlanta
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • House of Cards
  • 13 Reasons Why

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A stand of of the year, I binge watched Bates Motel and really really enjoyed it. It was probably my favourite TV show of the year. And considering I watched some really good TV this year, that’s saying something.

I also watched some pretty bad TV shows – Riverdale being one of them. Pretty Little Liars final season was rather awful, which was a shame. I actually didn’t care whether anyone lived or died.

We re-watched The Night Of, True Detective and the whole series of The Wire. We gave Breaking Bad a first go, and though we enjoyed it, I wouldn’t say it blew my mind.

I also watched some really great documentaries.

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I’m a big fan of Chris Gethard, who is an American comedian. I listen to his podcast Beautiful/Anonymous and he recently put out an HBO special of a stand-up show he’d done. Presented by Judd Apatow (who I also love) this covers dark subjects but in a self-deprecating and humorous way. If you are easily triggered by mental health and suicide subjects I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you aren’t and you find a way to get hold of this Special, then I’d recommend giving it a watch.

I’ll also mention Audrie & Daisy, Casting JonBenet and Beware The Slenderman. Some heavy subjects covered in those, but if you’re a fan of true crime you might enjoy them.

I’ve already kicked 2018 off with a bang having watched the whole of the German show Dark and also Big Little Lies (which had been recommended to me last year and for some reason I ignored)

If you have seen something you think I’d enjoy based on these shows I enjoyed last year, then please pop me a comment in the box below. I’m always on the look out for something awesome to watch!

 

Obviously, all imagery are publicity shots and belong to the production companies of the particular shows and films.

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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It’s been a while since we had a little catch up, hasn’t it?

So in the past few weeks we’ve had Christmas and New Year! I hope your’s was good.

Mine was low-key and I didn’t do a huge amount, but it was just what I wanted.

I’m lucky enough to get the time between Christmas and New Year off from work, so if Gary’s off work we’ll take little day trips and such. But this year, he was very busy with work, so nothing was really planned.

Christmas Day was lovely and I got to see both sides of the family. From that point on my mind went into a little relapse and I didn’t want to do anything but curl into a ball and not see anyone. So that’s pretty much what I did. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I got up to because it’s all of a blur. That was until my bff (sister from another mister) got me over to see her lovely newly renovated house, and with her and another of my best friends we had a lovely normal morning chatting. It was lovely to get out of the house and be in a safe space with people I trust and can talk about these things with. And they don’t make a big deal over how I’m feeling – they just let me feel that way, make sure I’m okay and if I want to talk about it I can. And they know me well enough to be able to suss out whether I want to talk or not.

On New Year’s Eve Eve I attended a singing workshop with my Mum, where we learned two songs as a choir and then in the evening had a party and Bandaoke. My Mum and I had both signed up to sing with the band (scary) so we were both fairly nervous, but when each of our turns came up we were fine. I sang Young Hearts Run Free and people said I did well after I came off stage, which was a relief!

Smiling mother and daughter

New Year’s Eve was a quiet one spent at home with Gary. I normally spend my New Year this way, and it’s the way I prefer it! I can be in bed by half past midnight!

On New Year’s Day I began working on the first of my 2018 challenges – learning calligraphy. After seeing a friend taking part in this course throughout 2017, and seeing the progress she’s made, I decided I would give it a try myself. I’m already finding I’m learning things about myself as a person as well as my penmanship during this challenge – who knew?!

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Then it was back to work, and by the time we returned to the office I was very much looking forward to it and wanted to get back into a routine!

I didn’t find it hard to get back into the swing of things, and it was nice to see my colleagues again  – it’s great when you enjoy being around the people you work with!

During the first week of January I also had to kick off my second 2018 challenge – a new recipe every week for the entire year! I’ve already posted about my first recipe here, so take a look. I’m enjoying looking at recipes in a new way, this year. I’ll happily trawl through tons of books and Pinterest recipes, marking the ones I like the look of to make one day, but this time around I need something I’m ACTUALLY going to make! So I’m thinking more practically about them!

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I’ve also been reading a lot of blogs related to New Year and resolutions (well, more those that gear towards self-improvement, since that’s what I relate too) and I’ve been very inspired by the positivity and how practical people are being. There’s less fad and more mind involved in what people are aiming for this year. It’s fantastic.

I’ve made a pledge to myself to be more active on social media – and by that I don’t mean posting more (although I feel like I will be posting more blogs this year just by default!) – I mean commenting on other people’s posts, sharing their stuff etc. Not just scrolling through instagram and double tapping then moving on – I’d like to comment on all of the photos that have meant something to me. Because it’s what we’d want for our own feeds, right?

I’m enjoying feeling the fresh positivity that’s come along with this year. In a time of uncertainty and bafflement, coming from a couple of years that were very trying for many people, we appear to be collectively coming together and finding our feet again. The ground seems a little more solid, and I’m personally enjoying how it feels.