Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Favourite Summer Nail Varnishes

Sinful Colour - Candy Coated : Sally Hansen Greige - Gardens : Ciate - Iced Frappe : Essence - Hello Spring : 3 Concept Eyes - BE03 

It's so so warm this week, I JUST CAN'T COPE. Even something as simple as painting my nails is becoming an absolute chore in itself. Especially because it seems like as soon as I've painted the nail varnish on it's peeling off because like, MY FINGER NAILS ARE SWEATING or something. I have realised that I've got a slight penchant for greyish/lilacish/greenish/pinkish shades at the moment, and these are the 5 nail varnishes I keep using again and again. 

My most used one is probably the Essence 'colour & go' nail varnish in Hello Spring. Mainly because it's quick drying and opaque in 2 coats. It's a lovely light green shade with the slightest hint of shimmer in it. It's probably not the longest lasting of the bunch and can tend to chip after around 2 days, but it's certainly the quickest to apply and  my favourite colour of the lot!

I've found the longest lasting it the 3 Concept Eyes nail varnish, which is a Korean brand I've seen pop up on my many eBay searches for Korean cosmetics. I wasn't too sure if they'd be any good, mainly because I'm concerned the brand name has 'eyes' in it but they do a whole range of cosmetics, including nail polishes. I actually picked this and another shade up in a charity shop near where I work! It's probably one of the more random brands you'd ever find in a charity shop and I've love to know where they came from, as there was quite a variety and all brand new! It did cost me £2.99 which I thought was a bit hefty, but the RRP online is around £10. This is definitely one of the longest lasting nail varnishes I've ever owned and I instagrammed the result of nearly 5 days of wear the other day (spoiler; barely any chips/looked pretty good still). 

I've mentioned the Sally Hansen, Sinful Colors and Ciate polishes before here on the blog and they're all great in their own rights, although the price range of these 3 is so varied. I love each shade, but the Sally Hansen one does take the longest to dry and you need at least 3 coats for a finished look, as it is quite sheer, but the greige shade is a lovely lavender toned grey. Sinful Colors varnishes are a great bargain for whenever you're in Boots as they only cost £1.99 a go, and the colour range is pretty impressive! I actually got this one from Poundland though. 

What are your favourite summer nail shades?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Joules Summer

A Joules Summer

Nothing screams summer quite like a floral or yellow dress (or better yet, a yellow AND floral dress) and with the heatwave in the UK today it's the perfect weather to crack out your favourite summer dresses. I for one have been meeeeelting today. For some reason I decided to book the hottest day of the year off work just to sit in my flat and share my disdain at the heat with Kitty (whilst watching Gossip Girl of course). Not that I can complain about that because it was certainly better than melting at work in front of a computer screen all day! Joules is a brand I reaaaaally do love, they used to do a big sale that came to Keele every year where you could get loads of items heavily reduced in price, and is where I picked up my beautiful Joules tweed blazer, which is perfect for channelling my farmer chic side at festivals and the like. I also got some wellies from Joules last year which were perfect for all that mud at Leeds Festival too.

As always, Joules not only do a dash of tweed and practical wellies in a pretty way, but they have the most floral and summery dresses a girl can ask for - which are perfect for capturig the essence of the sunny British countryside in one cute little garment. My favourite out of the above selection is definitely the 'Etty' light blue tunic dress on the far right, and luckily for me I can buy it in the sale here. I love the duck egg blue base with a sprinkle of mustard yellow to detail the floral design. Yum. Speaking of mustard yellow (yes, I have a soft spot for yellow in the summer), you can't go wrong with a classic 60's style shift dress. This simple but cute shift dress would look perfect with my Orla Kiely Milly shoes that I got from Clarks a few months ago. And it wouldn't be hard to take this dress from summer to autumn by whacking on a pair of black tights and a cardigan. The Joules dress on the far left is also a perfect dress for either hot or cold weather, with a bit of added length and a wrap around waist, it'd be perfect for work. 

I need to really stop browsing the Joules site now though, as I've just stumbled upon their homeware section, including this spectacular dog bed! Even though it's for pooches I am so tempted to treat Kitty to it! Although it will probably succumb to the same fate as any cat bed I buy for her does, and she will sniff it once and never step foot on it. Ungrateful little feline.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Kimye Appreciation Society

From butt selfies, to mid gig rants, Kimye is the dream team I love to hate, hate to love, love to love and just can't stop looking at pictures of. Yes, they have a child called North West and are so in love with themselves that you can't work out how they manage to love each other. But there's just something which makes me NOT WANNA LOOK AWAY. It's not the first time I've revealed my love for Kanye West on my blog and I've managed to see him live more times than I can't count now (the best being at The Big Chill festival when he had his harem of ballet dancers!) unfortunately though, I've yet to see Kim and her mesmerising derrière in the flesh though. Boooo! Whenever I go on Tumblr I just can't help but search for pictures of them. I don't do it on any other social platform - Just Tumblr. And is it any wonder when you find page after page of hilarious pictures of this super star couple? Although the My Voucher Codes campaign of celebrities as puppets capture the vacant expression behind Kim Kardashian's eye and illustrate the fact that sometimes Kanye just kinda needs to 'shhhhhhhh!', there are more images around which I find myself having a little 'lol' over. The infamous Vogue cover did spark many a-spoof visuals for one, and we won't even beggggiiin to talk about the mirror shot Kim instagrammed a few months ago. Oh, don't make out like you don't know *that* one. So anyway, bask in the glory of my favourite Kimye pictures below:

Great Examples of Blogger Outreach

One thing which can often be discouraging when blogging is when a negative wave of energy takes over the blog community. Whether it be some online drama in the form of sniping forums, or general moaning about PR companies and SEO executives making a faux pas in their blogger outreach; sometimes it's nice to forget the negativity and appreciate the opportunities and chances you get as a blogger. I think more often than not, the negative energy surrounding blogger outreach comes from a distinct lack of understanding as to what the role of the person behind the email is, and who they work for and how they have a structure of targets within the workplace. I think a lot of the time confusion stems from people not understanding the difference between 'PR' and 'SEO' as well. So to break that part of blogger outreach down as simply as possibly, here's a brief outline of those job roles:

PR [Public Relations]: Predominantly in place to develop a relationship with press and media, the role of a person in public relations is to often be a chatty and outgoing individual who can raise awareness of a brand, company or product. Their job is to create a community spirit, brand awareness and to basically just be nice to give the company they represent a jolly good image. They also handle press releases, photo calls and host/attend events to socialise and create a buzz. In the blogger world you will be more likely to be approached by a PR executive for product samples, reviews and events.

SEO [Search Engine Optimisation]: Usually you will find a more technically minded person in this type of role (although it's debatable as to whether or not this is effective in regards to blogger outreach) as there is a great deal of reporting and analytical information to get through. You will find SEO executives will be more target driven and have contracts to companies with regards to link building and reaching a higher place within a search engine. Their day to day job will also include keyword research, putting in place effective meta descriptions and creating engaging content which is SEO optimised. In the blogger world you will be more likely to be approached by an SEO executive with sponsored posts opportunities, infographics and pre written guest posts.

Of course, this is breaking down those two job roles as simply as possible to outline what they generally do. Roles can differ and there may be a cross over between these two areas in some companies and blogger outreach opportunities. So next time you are approached regarding publishing an infographic for 'free' try not to give the SEO executive a hard time. In some companies the structure will be: above the SEO guy there is their team leader, who has passed the infographic on from the design team, who have been set the task of creating the infographic by their marketing manager, who has advised the client (or the client [brand] requested it) that this will be an effective use of their funds to gain online coverage. So really, the person emailing is just doing their job, the best they know how from their training and management structure. So try not to give them personally a hard time. It's like working in a shop and an item you've bought being faulty. Would you go in and blame the cashier, who simply sold you the item, and give them a hard time about it? Or would you be polite to them and explain why you were not pleased with the item and ask that they feedback to their manager and brand? We all know which one is the most effective to gain a positive outcome, so I see no reason why this should be different because you can remain almost anonymous behind an email. People really need to think twice about the knock on effect of their meaningless complaint over an email, as at the end of the day it's someone's job and livelihood you are effecting. Remember those people are emailing you because they have a job to do  not because you are some kind of blogger princess. You are one blogger out of millions, so on the positive side of being approached by a company no matter what their technique, is that you are coming up on online radars somewhere anyway. A few times I have replied to these ill thought out types of blogger outreach to ask if there is a budget for the information they are providing to be published and a lot of the time they do have a budget, they just didn't outline it in the first emails for one reason or another.

But anyway, I digress. My main point of this blog post was to celebrate, what I feel, are great examples of blogger outreach. Some I have experienced for myself and some I have simply spotted on blogs and Twitter when other bloggers have sung the brands praise.

Benefit Cosmetics: Love them or hate them, Benefit Cosmetics have been investing a lot of time, effort and money in to their blogger outreach recently. From their Big Easy wave of parcels, which saw bloggers have their very own package of fairground fun, to the Hoola bronzer campaign where bloggers received their very own personalised box of this summer cheek treat. Their most recent PR campaign featured their brand new They're Real Push Up Liner. Not only did they have massive trucks stop up and down the country, where passers by could nip in and give the new product a go, they also sent out parcels to bloggers and the media which featured a video press release, which had a little screen which played the Benefit They're Real Push Up Liner promo vid. As soon as they landed on doormats they were instavideo-d and shared on Twitter. Although this may have been a tad annoying if you followed a lot of bloggers, the campaign itself was well thought out and was a success in spreading the word and hype of this new product. Benefit tick all the boxes of good PR as they put thought, time, effort and money behind their campaigns.

O2 Be More Dog Campaign: Although some may argue that a technology company targeting beauty bloggers for a campaign such as this was a bit odd, I guess that's just part of taking their 'be more dog' mantra - doing things in a bold and daring way. For this campaign they sent select bloggers two locked cases, and they had to choose whether they would take the easy relaxed route and be a cat or be more dog by choosing the daring and adventurous option. I didn't spot many bloggers opening the 'be more cat' box and the be more dog ones involved exciting adventures such as sky dives and bungee jumps. So not only did this create momentum for their online and TV advertisements but also created a nice buzz on social media.

Phones 4U Katy Perry Party: I had the pleasure to attend the Katy Perry blogger event at the Phones 4u Arena a few months ago, and I have to say it's one of the best blogger events I have ever been to. Not only did we get a chance to see the Katy Perry show from the VIP suite, but the guys who arranged it also took the time to research Manchester and find the best cake maker in town from Home Sweet Home to make some special cakes especially for the event. Bloggers + Cakes = Social media heaven. Not to mention the other food available and the make up and nail artists there to add a touch of glamour to our faces and nails on the night too! This not only worked as a great SEO tactic to have the Phones 4U arena included in blog posts, but also great publicity for Home Sweet Home and Phones 4U as a company too.

F&F Paper Doll Party: I remember reading about this on Temporary Secretary a while ago (read the post here) and it's the perfect example of combining a personal touch whilst also promoting a new line of products. Everyone loves having a drawing of themselves and everyone loves experimenting with new outfits, so to combine the two in one quirky little event is a match made in heaven. Not only did they include bloggers in the mix, but anyone could just pop over to the Florence and Fred Facebook page and join in the creative fun. Throw in a competition to win some vouchers and you have the perfect mix of blogger outreach and PR for advertising purposes of a new fashion line.

So I guess the conclusion we can draw from these examples is that imagination, thought, creativity and financial backing are key to successful blogger outreach. Not to mention cakes and things which are personalised. It's just some sense of nostalgia from being a kid I guess, which makes something with your name on it so special! It's not just all about the campaigns themselves though. There are individuals within companies which don't gift you the world or invite you to a tonne of events, and are just genuinely nice people who make you want to write about their products and investigate more, based on a pleasant email and relationship building on a personal level. Fine examples of people like this can be found everywhere, but ones who stick out in my mind are:

Sally from The Cafe Cat, who is always super friendly and sends you well thought out emails to get a nice conversation going alongside the outreach she is working on at the time. She also write some killer blog posts for her work about blogger outreach such as this one.

Alex Bridgewater who represents Balance Me skincare within my inbox. Another example of how a friendly and open personality makes you just want to talk about the brand without necessarily getting 'gifts' in return.

Clare from The Hut is a new face in my emails, but one which spends time on what she sends out and outlines everything she wants and expects (in a really nice way!) in one single email. Also letting you know any any opportunities at the same time, it's a no pressure approach to blogger outreach which once again, makes you really want to help her out with the brands she's working with.

Have you got any great examples of blogger outreach and PR? 
Share them below!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Unconventional Uses For Your Microwave

Living on my own with just my cat, I do find meal times can bring out the laziness within me. When you're eating for one the last thing you want to do is crack out the pots and pans and start cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Over the past year or two my microwave has become my kitchen best friend and I'm forever finding new foods to zap in it alongside clever microwave hacks to save me time and effort. Yes I am a lazy chef but at the same time that just means there's more time to enjoy the food, right? I've become quite used to experimenting with my microwave, but not just for my evening meals (which is usually broccoli, Tilda rice in a fancy flavour and usually a salmon fillet, all cooked in my electric box of dreams). Whether you have a bargain microwave you caught in the sale, or a built in microwave like one of these, I've learnt that microwave's can be used for a while host of unconventional things.

Unconventional Uses For Your Microwave on British lifestyle blog.

Unconventional Uses For Your Microwave:

Get Rid of Unwanted Nose Hair: Ooooh that one sounds gross doesn't it? And not many ladies will probably suffer from this problem. But did you know that Nads do a Nose Hair Wax, which you can also use to remove clogged pores on your nose too. I know about this stuff because one of my friends (who doesn't own a microwave) had to come around and try it out after he'd bought some! It seems really simple, if not slightly painful, to get rid of all your unwanted nasal fluff. You simply pop it in for a few minutes and use one of those special 'nose hair removal sticks' to plug up your nostril with the wax. Leave for a few moments and RIP IT OUT. I would post a picture of the result, but it look really, really gross. Let's just say if you know a man who has a particularly fluffy nose this would be an ideal gift.

Soothe Aching Muscles: If you're feeling a bit achey from the gym or other forms of exercise, you will sing the praises of a hot compress until the cow come home. Because I'm a frugal kinda gal, I don't generally have my hot water turned on a majority of the time. So unless I want to wait for around 3 hours for my water tank to kick in and heat up, or boil the kettle, the quickest way to do this is to grab a hand towel or small flannel and dampen it under the tap then throw it in to the microwave for a minute or so. This feels soooo good, because if you roll the towel up like a swiss roll the microwave warms from the inside so the outer layers are just the right temperature to hold on your skin.

Help A Charity: There are a lot of ways to help charities nowadays, but one way you can help with the aid of your microwave is to remove stamps from envelopes! A lot of charities now are collecting postage stamps, you can find some examples of animal charities doing this scheme here. Charities 'make money' from used stamps by selling them to collectors. So the better condition the stamp is in, the more you will help your chosen charity. Although they do accept stamps which are torn off the envelope, you can neatly remove them by just popping a few drops of water on the stamp and popping in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. The stamp can then be removed really easily ready to send off!

Make a Cappuccino: Ok, maybe not the cappuccino itself, you'l need a kettle and some coffee for that. But you can create the Starbz frothy milk effect for yourself at home without fancy machines or whirly swirling devices. Simply grab an old (clean) jar and pour enough milk in for your cup size of choice. Be sure not to fill it over half way up though as you need room for the froth. Pop the lid on and shake it like a polaroid picture until you see the milk get all frothy and bubbly and yum, then remove the lid (especially if it is metal, metal in the microwave is a NO!) then pop it in to the microwave for around 30-40 seconds. Make sure it's warm enough, but not too hot (we don't want burnt tongues!) and pour it over your freshly made coffee for a lovely creamy cappuccino delight.

Bake a Cake: The biggest craze in microwave cooking in recent years was the cake in a mug recipe and technique, which takes the lengthy process out of baking a cake the 'old fashioned' way. I actually learnt about cooking cakes in microwaves when I was living in halls at Uni around 6 years ago. That didn't end well though, as one of my cakes ended up burning completely black in the centre and remaining goo on the outside. We couldn't stop the smoke billowing off it so in the end we had to throw it out of the 2nd floor window to avoid the fire alarms going off. The guys in the ground floor halls panicked when they saw it though and thought it was some kind of bomb(?!?!), so ended up throwing a load of water out on it and informing the halls warden, hahahaha. If you want to avoid such ridiculous escapades in microwave cake baking, then please follow a proper recipe such as this one from BBC Good Food.

What other unconventional uses to you have for your Microwave?

In collaboration with Argos.
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