Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Things you should do before going to uni.

booksSee the full sized image by *ian*@flickr here. 

Three months.
While it may feel like going to university, or returning, is still quite a long time away the truth is it’s not. Two and a half months can drag or it can fly by – two and a half months is all the time left before university terms start again and there’s a lot to do. I thought of this at a small get together the other night, and while discussing with friends who were returning to university and friends who were going for the first time, I realised that there was real confusion with what had to be done before time ran out.

First time.
If you’re going to university for the first time, you’re probably going to be nervous. Leaving home will do that to anyone, even if you are quite independent. When I left home last year and met my flatmates I quickly realised that most of them had never really been on their own for more than a weekend and that everyone was a little but uncertain with how to look after themselves – one boy even asked me if you could put colours and whites into the same tumble dryer. While a bit of dependency is a good thing, it’s important that you learn how to look after yourself. This is the first thing you should probably do before you leave home. But what else?:

  • Learn to look after yourself. This means ask your parents how to cook, how to wash clothes, how to clean things if you don’t know. Take over the house hold chores for the week, including meals, so you have a firmer grasp on everything.
  • Get a student account and take the overdraft and the credit card you will no doubt be offered – but be sensible with them. The overdraft is ideal to have for “just in case situations” where you may hit the end of the month before loan/payday and need an extra tenner. It’s better to have the tenner waiting in your already approved interest free overdraft that go into a unapproved overdraft and get charged an extra £35. The credit card is not for anything but buying your weekly shopping – it’s an ideal way to build your credit up. You buy your shopping and pay it off and help yourself in the future through it.
  • If you haven’t done so already, apply to your local loan authority now as it’s likely that the date where you’re ensured your first payment on time has already passed. The sooner you apply, the more likely you are to get the money on time, though don’t panic if the cut off date has already passed for your authority – you can still apply. I know for SAAS in Scotland that you can still apply up until something silly like March or April and still get the full years loan.
  • Sort out your accommodation for the year if you haven’t already whether you’re going private (which I would advise against for first time university-goers!) or through the university’s housing scheme.
  • Start buying and packing now. This means your bedding, your towels, kitchen appliances. Buy what you can now and then it won’t be such a big dent in the bank balance later.
  • If you need to pre-register for modules or anything, do it as soon as possible – that way you can get into the modules you want.

While the list I have there is certainly not definitive, it’s a good base model and one or two of them are things which I wish I had done last year.

Returning to.
While some people may have not returned home for the summer, there will be some who have. This is aimed mostly at them since this is the situation I am in.

  • Reapply for your loan. Now. My friend genuinely didn’t realise that you had to reapply to get money again after first year and is now panicking. I’m not sure how it’ll work in each authority, but in Scotland you need to remember your log in details and you should have a reference number, but I think it’s saved on the system.
  • Sort out accommodation/sign leases/make sure you have somewhere to live. Ideally this should be done by now. Also, from this you can start to create a monthly budget based on your rent prices – add an extra £30 or £40 on for bills (depending where you live) and that’ll be a good rough figure to work with.
  • Start repacking everything you can – my linen is already packed in the bags I brought it home in. It was washed, dried, ironed and folded then put out of sight. It speeds up the process later.
  • Clean out your stuff – I did this already and it’s helped me massively get an idea of what I’ll be repacking in the few months that come. I also have a rough idea of what I won’t need after learning my lesson from first year.
  • Register for any modules you need to take, if you can, and see if there’s a reading list up yet – you can get a head start on buying the books through scouring out the best copies on Amazon Marketplace before the hoards descend.
  • Make a budget. I mentioned this already, but only briefly and I will be doing a future post on how I budget. With a budget already in place before you arrive back at university you can have a rough idea of how much money you need to make to meet ends meet.

Obviously, all of the above is really only a rough idea and there may be things I have missed out. If you think there is, leave a little comment or tell me how you’ll be getting ready for college and university for the Autumn.


Monday, 29 June 2009

What will you be wearing?

See the full sized image by 45street|…@flickr here.

This summer’s trends and uniforms.
I think we all end up wearing a very similar type of outfit everyday, if you will, our own personal uniform. For some it might be skinny jeans, others may enjoy wearing a bright coloured vest top everyday. This happens to me anyways; during winter I stick to jeans, boots and some various knitwear to try and keep a bit snugger – summer is a different story. I don’t really know how to dress for a “British” summer – usually I would be in Spain or Florida with high temperatures and low rain fall. With forecasters saying that this summer is going to be warmer than ever (though the current weather at the moment suggests this will be 50/50), it’s still much cooler than I’m used to when dressing for sun. However, I think have may found my saviour and summer clothes uniform piece.

Knee-length, utility, cropped.
I like to wear denim shorts, but with my legs being rather long for my height and my thighs been a touch on the wobbly side, I just don’t feel confident parading about in short-shorts which err on the side of indecent. Three-quarter length jeans are also out, as I feel they cut off at the worst possible place of your calf and make your legs look rather chunky. Enter the knee-length jeans short – also called cropped jeans shorts, utility shorts and board shorts. While I’ve not bought any as of yet, I have been scouring the internet and shops in a few major shopping places in East Scotland for a suitable pair and I’m going to share with you three of my favourites and top potentials. I’m going to break down them down into three categories by price; save, spend and splurge (though they’re pretty close in price!).

These are Boyfriend Style Shorts from New Look and come in at £22, or £19.80 for us with fabulous NUS student card. Being so called “boyfriend” jeans, they’ll be a little baggier than your standard pair of denims, so maybe something you’ll want to size down on, though I’m not too sure about the fit of these jeans so check first! I like these because they’re not exactly knee length, but fairly long and would cover a reasonable amount of thigh. I’m not so hot on the bagginess though.

tsshortsThese are Baxter Turn Up Knee Shorts from TopShop and come in at £28, or £25.20 with a student card. These are quite possibly my favourite pair out of the three, purely because they look like they’d be quite tight around the leg and not make you look much wider than you are. The only downsize are that TopShop jeans are fairly notorious for getting baggy at the bum after a couple of washes and I don’t really fancy baggy bum syndrome.

These are Denim Distressed Cut-off shorts by River Island (product number 576155 since you can’t direct link) at £29.99. Again, they’re a boyfriend fit, so check sizing in store before you buy to make sure you get a fit you like. I do like these since distressed denim is something I quite like… just not when it’s so uniform and obviously manufactured. Maybe one or two rips on each side would make me more likely to buy these. Also, I feel a bit reluctant due to the fact every teenage girl with a tango tan will probably own them.

What’s your summer uniform going to be?


Friday, 26 June 2009

Friday Finds #1

friday finds
A new feature.
I spend a lot of time on my laptop and computer, whether it’s reading the latest news, listening to music, playing games or just surfing the web, I find a lot of things that make me pause for a moment and think “oh, I’m sure there are loads of other people who would like this”. Thus, Friday Finds has been born. I plan for this to be a fairly regular piece.

An interior inspiration. ffourbedrooms
By nature, I’m a little bit of a nosey person. I like to see how other people do their make up, what the inside of their wardrobes look like and what they eat for breakfast. Taking that into account, I also like to see other peoples personal spaces, in particular, bedrooms. And since when I go back to university the only personal space I have is my bedroom, I want to make it special, I want to make it me, I want to make it fit for a princess. Enter ourbedrooms. It’s a community on LiveJournal, but you don’t need an account there to view most of the entries. There’s a lot of variety there and a couple of discussions and debates – it’s something I’ll be spending a few hours looking through before I start on my new room.


A little light reading.
I read a couple of webcomics, because I am a massive geek. I actually first brought up this particular comic about a month ago in Being Geeky #1, but I really do think more people need to read this bad boy. Girls With Slingshots - it’s about a twenty-something female, unlucky in love, and her wide and diverse group of friends. Oh, aye, and there’s a talking cactus with a Scottish accent. Nice. I like this because it’s not full of references to music, games or television – it is also updated every week day. Score!

Paper dolls on your screen.ffpoupee
When I was young girl, I enjoyed playing with paper dolls which were in the back of some older magazines. You would get a willowy figurine with a few key outfit pieces and then you could make the rest yourself. These days, I’m not even sure if they can still be bought in most newsagents, but no matter – the internet has brought them to me. PoupĂ©eGirl is a Japanese website (though translated into almost perfect English) that brings back the fun of paper dolls in an electronic form with a bit of a twist – you have to earn points, or Ribbons, to buy the clothes. There are a few ways to do this, including uploading pictures of your own clothes, which makes this a very fashion orientated website. If you can stick with it for a few days and get a couple of outfits bought for your pupe then you’ll probably get addicted like me.

Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Anna Lou of London – I WANT!

Picture courtesy of Anna Lou of London.

Follow the white rabbit…
Ok, there’s a distinct lack of white rabbit in the picture above, but seriously, how cute and adorable is that necklace? Two bunny rabbits giving each other a little kiss!

I’ve known about Anna Lou of London for quite a while now, they had a few necklaces on ASOS a while ago, but I didn’t take much notice as they were initial pendants and that just isn’t my thing. It wasn’t until I was flicking through the July issue of Cosmopolitan that these little critters caught my eye and I gave the company another thought.

Product sold.
This necklace is available in pink/black, black/white and white/brown on a gold ball chain for £17. The product page is here. Get one now before they’ve all hopped off… what terrible play on words.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dear diary, today I…

journal Picture is of my own journal.

Start something new.
A journal is something which I think absolutely everyone should keep. They have many different uses for many different people. I use mine to stick in momentous things (cinema tickets, travel tickets, receipts), happy photos, inspirational pictures and primarily for quotations I like (which I then expand upon with meanings). My friend, Kat, uses her primarily for keeping track of things she has to do and references for her writing.

Let it all out.
Other people will use a journal for its more traditional value – somewhere to retell their day, spill their secrets and tell of their desires. I advise that this should only really be done if you know that only those who you wish to read it can do so – if you have a snoopy flatmate who reads anything you leave lying around, then a tell-all journal may not be for you. Alternatively, an online journal (which can be set to private, e.g. your eyes only) could be an option, such as LiveJournal.

The most important thing to remember about a journal is that it is yours, and reflection of who you are at the time that you wrote, created and complied what is inside. It is a memento of who you were. Enjoy it, cherish it, keep it.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Affordable Fashion #2

New Look Boyfriend Blazer
Get it here for £30.

Are you sure that isn’t mine?
It’s time again to delve into the world of fashion choices that won’t break the bank (or the overdraft). This holds especially true for shops where you can also get a student discount of 10% (sometimes 20% on special occasions). It’s time to enter the world of boyfriend blazers.

Sure, they’re cheap.
New Look is one of those shops that I find is either hit or miss whenever I go inside. Lately, it’s been more of a hit, and I’m excited by what I see. I am actually currently looking into getting a lightweight jacket, or maybe a blazer, for the summer months and something like the blazer above hits nearly all the right nails on the head for me. Except for one thing… it only has one button. Bit of a downer.

The thing I do like about this particular blazer the most is the contrast detailing on the bottom of the sleeves, though I’m sure the more crafty among us (or those with a seamstress) could have the fabric changed for anything they desire – a great way to get a more individual look for your blazer.
The above blazer is available in black, navy, white and stone on the New Look website, and I would assume in at least one colour in most stores.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Review: Benefit’s BADgal lash mascara

Product information can be found here.

The spiel.
With a big, bad brush and a rich, black formula, it's like wearing a set of false eyelashes without the glue.is the claim from Benefit’s website, and no doubt most of their beauty counters. Available in a standard mascara size for £14.50 (though on a side note you can get the cute mini one (which looks like something which would be inside one of their travel cases) free with the July issue of Glamour magazine. Not bad for only £2!).

The consideration.
I believe that as a princess, one should have flawless skin, a healthy glow and beautiful large eyes. I had heard good and bad things about this mascara, so was keen to try it – but from past experience with Benefit products I didn’t want to splash out on something that was either going to be excellent or absolutely abysmal. My Dior Show Iconic is slowly, but surely, running out and I was reluctant to replace it with the same product if I could find something which worked better.

The testing.
This is one of those products where pictures would definitely be a valuable source of comparison, and low and behold, I actually took some pictures.

no mascara
With no mascara, no curler, only a touch of a pretty gold eye shadow.

Hello curled lashes. I really can’t push it enough – curling your lashes always makes the difference. Always.

With the mascara.

There’s really not much difference. Slightly longer, a little bit more volume – but not £14.50 worth of length and volume. On a side note, I did try it over my Iconic and it volumised well, so maybe that’s how I’ll be using it from now on.

Out of…
Out of 10, with 10 being the highest and one the lowest, I would give this product a 5 – it just didn’t live up to the good reviews, however I will give it another shot. It’s true that mascara sometimes doesn’t work all too well until it’s been open for a couple of weeks and the formula has had a chance to thicken up.

Monday, 15 June 2009

To throw, sell, charity, keep.


See the full sized image by Mycelin★@Flickr here.

That is so 2004.
I’ve just moved back from university to my home for the summer. Somehow, my clothes that I left here seem to have mated and produced ugly children, while the clothes that I brought home from uni must have never actually been part of my wardrobe here. I just have too many clothes. I know, I thought it was impossible too. I decided to sit down and work it all out.

Firstly, I sat down on my bed and made a bit of a mental note about the clothes I had and the actual storage space I had. Actual storage space is somewhere which is designed for clothes – if you have to start using your bookcase as an accessory stand then you have too many. After a careful survey, I found I had two spacious wardrobes with two storage shelves, a chest of drawers with six drawers and a small chest of drawers with two separate drawers. Clothes wise, I had two wardrobes, five of the large drawers, the small chest of drawers and two large-ish holdalls of clothes. There was only one thing for it. Stuff had to go – and in a big way. I estimated that I needed to get rid of at least one wardrobe full of clothes.

You have to make a decision.
Now came the part that was definitely going to cause the most problems – what to keep, sell, give to charity and throw away. I had a set criteria for each category:

  • Keep – things that I currently wear, things which were expensive and/or special gifts (just in case!) and things which I might not wear anymore but bring back good memories
  • Sell – things which are fairly current in style, things which are brand new but I don’t like anymore
  • Charity – things which may not be in style, might not be brand new but are in excellent condition
  • Throw away – manky things, ripped, torn, holes, etc.

The things to throw away were definitely the easiest – anything I had left behind while at uni and didn’t fit into the keep, sell or charity categories went straight into a big black bag. There was an unhealthy number of scuffed up jeans going into the big black bags, along with some rather unsightly knitted items which will never see the light of day again.

Beginning of the real work.
My real work is about to begin though. I have about 30 or 40 pieces of clothing which I’m planning on selling. That’s 30 or 40 pictures, plus 30 or 40 descriptions, plus 30 or 40 packages… I think you get the point. But believe it or not, I have a system for that too, which I’ll post about later.

The point?
The real point though that I’m trying to make is you should only have clothes that you actually wear or like, and you should only have them stored in places where clothes are meant to be stored.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

I passed.

All my exams that is. But now I’m getting everything organised before my parents come home for their holiday.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Review: Avon - Naturals Banana & Coconut 2-in-1 Moisturising Shampoo & Conditioner

Product information page can be found here.

The spiel.
This is a very simple and short one from the Avon website saying merely “For dry and damaged hair.” and nothing else. I’m not sure, but I think this shampoo is available in bother 200ml and 400ml sizes, though only the 400ml size is available on the website at the special price of only £1.50, though the usual price of £3 will certainly not break the bank.

The consideration.
I’ve just came home from my first year of university, and as of yet have not unpacked anything – thus I don’t have the Body Shop Shampoo out to use. I found this in a drawer in the bathroom and thought, “why not?”. Plus the 2-in-1 came handy when I could barely stand the heat of the water due to sun burn.

The testing.
I like it. It’s not brilliant (I still prefer Herbal Essences!), and my hair is a bit greasy the next day, which is probably due to it’s 2-in-1 nature. It was easy to lather out, smelled pretty good and didn’t leave my hair too heavy, but I’m sure I’m getting a little bit of a product build up. I might take a break from it next week, but I definitely would use it again.

Out of…
Out of 10, with 10 being the highest and one the lowest, I would give this product a 6 – good, but not excellent. For the price you definitely can’t complain.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The sun is lost, this is the UK.

I think you’re lost, Mr Sun. This here is Scotland!

Rain rain has gone away.
It hasn’t rained for a good week. I thought maybe that there was some sort of apocalypse on the go. And of course the dry hot heat did not help moving out of halls from uni on Friday. Not when I live on the 7th floor anyway. The above forecast was on Friday for where I live, and for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and so far today, the predictions certainly held true. Of course, I did what any good British girl does when there’s a hint of sunshine for more than an hour – I stripped down to my skimpiest clothes and moved out to the back garden at 11am on Saturday with a paperback of Angels and Demons. I came back in at about 4pm and spent the night in watching the Britain’s Got Talent finale with friends. As the night drew on though I noticed something terrifying.

Claws out, clap clap and shuffle.
My arms, legs (especially my knees!), chest and shoulders were a frightful shade of red. I had neglected to put on any sun block (because I’m British and in Britain of course). I was turning into a lobster. As the children sang as the men danced on the television, my skin was becoming tighter and tighter. But what’s a girl to do?!

Tips and tricks.

  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. Use after sun if you like, or for added skin rehydration use a thick and creamy moisturising lotion with aloe vera in it to sooth the skin.
  • If it’s exceptionally bad, keep you lotion in the fridge. Though this doesn’t speed up the heeling and de-redding situation, it feels nice on the overheated skin.
  • Cannot stress this enough – keep drinking water. Work the hydration from the outside in and the inside out. Plus, you’re probably going to be overheated and a nice cold drink might bring a smile to your face.
  • Avoid warm showers. Try and have the water cold, as cold as you can stand. The hot water on your burnt skin will feel like a million tiny knives and it’s just not pleasant.
  • Moisturise, sun block, wait. Wait for the lotion to dry before layering your sun block on top. Wait for about 20 minutes before going into the sun to allow the block to properly dry and be effective. Reapply often.
  • Do not forget your face and feet. Feet burns hurt so much.

I’ve personally been applying moisturiser every hour or so, especially around the elbows and knees where my skin is at it’s tightest. Though this margin has been getting bigger as the night goes on, it has definitely made me feel a bit more comfortably. I used Nivea Soft moisturiser from a massive white pot – nice and thick and easily absorbed, I didn’t keep it in the fridge though as it being that cold is always a bit of a shock, even on my overheated skin. Sun burn though obviously means summer has begun!