Monday, 28 September 2009
The winner was picked out of a hat moments ago by a work colleague.
The lovely Manju has won a Spa Paradisa Body Butter and a Spa Paradisa Indulge Your Skin Bath Soak, worth over £15.
Congratulations Manju and thanks to everyone for entering. I really enjoyed reading all your desert island faves.
Please look out for another competition soon x
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Katie has a fantastic blog here - and I urge you to go check her out.
In her article 'How Not to Save Up For the Rest of Your Life', Katie discusses the trials, tribulations and utter joy of Internet shopping. Enjoy...
Four years on and I have still yet to master the art of budgeting. I had hoped that my formative years of frivolous cash-flashing would somehow wear me out of buying stuff; that somehow I’d get it all out of my system and magically wake up one morning a book-balancing finance whizz-woman, with the combined special abilities of utilising a savings account and completely abstaining from shopping. Sadly, and obviously, this did not happen. Despite my overbearing hatred for high street shopping (mixing with crowds of people on my Day Off to try on clothes in hot and sweaty, impossibly small and angular cubicles while the assistant wonders why somebody so “cuddly” and rosy-faced ever thought she could wear leggings without the world itself puking its guts right up? No cheers) and my similar hatred for acting similar to a girl (even though I am one), I find myself buying clothes, useless accessories and bags as though my life depends on it. I have over 15 pairs of shoes. This is too many pairs of shoes. If you asked me how many pairs of shoes a person needs, I’d say three. One for work, one for walking about in (aka. The Comfies), and one for posh times – going out, interviews and weddings. Oh hang on, make it four pairs. A flat pair of Poshies, and a high pair of poshies. And then a pair of boots for winter. And some running shoes for playing ping pong in. And some....oh JESUS WEPT – this is how it starts.
At the beginning of a season, I think “I can carry my look over – I don’t need anything new. Well, aside from a few t-shirts to bring it back up to date...nah, my look is down. No more money on clothes. Time to save up for a holiday”. Then, a week later, I will invariably get a superstyled and colourful graphic designer’s dream of an email from ASOS, who are “just letting me know” that some nice new things have arrived on their site. Click. Want. Click. Bought. I have nothing to wear with a silver pair of ridicufuck heeled toeless boots. I will never wear the ridicufuck heeled toeless boots – unless....jeggings. Click. Bought. If I spend over £50 I get free delivery. I needed a new necklace anyway. Click. Overdraft. Click. No more holiday. There is always a hypothetical outfit that must be bought to match the bargain. It is not in a woman’s brain or constitution to buy a single treat. Those shoes need an adequate pair of earrings to balance them. It would do them a disservice not to buy them to finish the ensemble. Besides, if you did not buy the earrings, you would not wear the shoes. You are saving money in the long run. Oh look, that bag would look fantastic with that jumper dress you haven’t bought yet. Click.
I’d like to point out at this point that I am not the sort of person to go anywhere near a silver pair of peep-toes. You may or may not have noticed that I am not a girly girl. Heels, short dresses, blusher and lipgloss – these things do not interest me. However, wave a webpage filled with cat-covered oversized t-shirts, chain-strapped bags, ripped denim, fitted and studded leather jackets and brogues in front of me and I’ll happily click my money away all day long, until my debit card evolves from dead to illegal, and my bank balance flatlines to the tune of several ominously cheery “Thanks for your order!” email notifications. I’m not necessarily suggesting I’m a tomboy – I cry, I strop, I sometimes even wear dresses – I’m just painting a picture for you. I hate shopping. And yet I can’t. Stop. Doing it. Since technological advances in this magnificent hovercar age of Sky+ and Double Decadence Pizzas made it possible for me to buy shiny things without the chance of me having to interact socially with another member of the human race, my money has been at an all-time low. I love the internet. It brought me my entire Uni book collection. And my best shirts. And my Zelda necklace. If it wasn’t for the whimsically wonderful world wide web, I’d be a whole lot richer. And a whole lot shabbier. I’d be dressed terribly. Thank you Tim Berners-Lee. Thank you Dorothy Perkins online. Thank you Schuh.co.uk. Thanks to your combined efforts, I am in constant need of shinier, prettier, more expensive shoes than ever before. And I didn’t even need to step out of the house. Which really brings into question the need for shoes in the first place...don’t you think?
*During my time writing this, I found precisely one bag and two pairs of shoes that I “need”. And had another look at a jacket that I know I can’t afford.
Are you a fan of Internet shopping? And are you easily tempted to shop like Katie? Leave Katie a comment here, or go and check her out: www.shinybiscuit.blogspot.com
Thanks for reading - and thanks to Katie for writing such an ace post!xx
Plenty of women have done just that! Daily Mirror journalist and author Charlotte Ward has written a fun memoir packed with real-life stories from women who've been unlucky in love.
Here, Charlotte tells all about her recently published second book, 'It's Not Me, It's You'.
Lauren: So you've recently celebrated your book launch with a party. How was it?
Charlotte: Really good thanks!
I had a lovely evening and was thrilled that so many of my friends and family made the effort to come along – although I was mostly running around like a headless chicken!
Lauren: You say (on your website) that so far reviews have been good. How much of a relief is this and how rewarding is it to be able to sit back and enjoy the praise?
Charlotte: It is such a relief. I get in a real state about it.
The night before my reviews came out I had horrendous nightmares about being slated, so I was extremely relieved and happy that the opposite happened.
When you write a book you know it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste and that you shouldn’t take criticism personally, but that’s easier said than done.
When you get a bad review it does hurt!
Lauren: You've done some fairly gruelling things as a journalist.What's been the worst?
Charlotte: I think the most gruelling jobs are the really sad stories - when you speak to people who have been through awful tragedies and circumstances.
When conducting interviews like that it can be a struggle not to cry.
I’ll always remember interviewing a father whose two-year-old child drowned in a neighbouring swimming pool. They were a lovely family and it was such a terrible thing for them to go through. I still think about that family, even ten years on.
Lauren: What's the best thing about your job as a journalist?
Charlotte: I really like the diversity. The fact you get to talk to different people, experience really interesting things and go places.
When I worked for heat magazine they even sent me to Australia for three weeks to cover I’m A Celebrity which was just brilliant.I also love writing. I’m very lucky to be doing something I love. At times it seems more like a hobby than a job.
Lauren: Anything you don't like about your job?
Charlotte: The hours can be gruelling and when you are on deadline there is a lot of pressure. Plus as soon as you go anywhere and say what you do people immediately remark, “Oh, I’d better not tell you anything!” People assume all journalists are evil and out for a scoop but I do know when to leave my reporter’s pad at home!
Lauren: How did you start out in journalism and what advice can you give to others who'd like to follow a similar career path?
Charlotte: I did a journalism degree at Teesside University and Darlington College. Over three years I did all my journalism theory and learnt shorthand, but I also did loads of work experience which I think is the best thing you can do. If you want to be a journalist you need to be able to show that you have a nose for a good story and that you can write and make contacts. Working for free on a newspaper or magazine also gives you a chance to be spotted by someone who might put you forward for a traineeship so I always tell budding journalists to get as much experience as they can.When I left university I wasn’t the cleverest in my year, far from it, but I was offered three jobs because I had a portfolio bulging with cuttings of stories I’d found and written myself.
Lauren: It's Not Me It's You is your second novel. How easy was this one to write and did the success of your debut novel help spur you on somewhat?
Charlotte: I think I had more confidence this time round but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was any easier. Writing a book means really knuckling down and as the deadline looms you tend to turn into a bit of a recluse. You have to be really disciplined with yourself.Having said that it certainly helped that I was fired up by the positive feedback I’d had from the first book. It helped my confidence to know that ‘my voice’ seemed to appeal to readers – although I was sick to the back teeth of ‘my voice’ by the end of it.
Lauren: What initially prompted you to write 'It's Not Me It's You'?
Charlotte: I think a lot of the break-up guides out there skim the surface and writing a really honest one with real life stories seemed like a good progression from my first book.
Most guides I’ve come across tell you to go and get a dramatic new hair cut, which I personally think is the worst thing you can do! I’ve tried to point out that if you think you’ll look as good as Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors then you are probably deluded.
In reality you’ll more likely to end up looking like Peter Pan’s ugly, sideburn-sporting sister and feeling a hundred times worse!I’ve tried to tell the truth about what break-ups are really like and to offer stories from myself and friends which illustrate that we’ve all been heartbroken at some stage and you will get over it. S
o instead of crying over a broken relationship please read the book and have a good laugh at all the stupid things we’ve done instead...
Lauren: How did you encourage your friends to help out by lending you their stories?
Charlotte: I emailed them with a list of questions covering all the subjects I was looking for stories for and asked them to contribute if they’d like to. You’d actually be surprised how keen people are to tell their stories! I think a lot of the people who contributed actually found it quite cathartic to share their experiences and I got a lot of emails from girls and guys I didn’t know, who’d had my mailout passed on to them.
Lauren: What's the best piece of advice you've been given regarding relationships?Charlotte: That love isn’t always easy –they’ll always be highs and lows and that you need to work at things.
Lauren: Finally, where would you like to be in 10 years' time?
Charlotte: I’d like to be a full time author writing a mix of women’s fiction and ghosting projects. I’d also like to be living in a country cottage with my husband and two children, a vegetable patch and a menagerie of chickens, cats and dogs!
For more about Charlotte, go to www.charlotteward.net