Friday, 30 March 2012

Random Ramble: Shopper's Guilt

Today was payday; and because it was payday I went shopping (I'll show you what I got soon).
After a difficult term at uni, where nothing seemed to happen, but then everything happened at once, and the working month being five weeks long, you could say I deserved to go shopping, to treat myself.

I have always been a bit lax when it comes to money, often being scared to check my accounts, and when I do, wondering 'where the hell has it all gone?!'
My mum worked out a budget for me last year when I began university, and I stuck to it. For the first term. My problem isn't that when I get an influx of a large amount of cash I feel the need to go and spend it all, I fully understand that the money needs to last. It's that I spend little, but spend often, on unnecessary things. A new notebook here, a new top there.

Up until very recently (i.e. about a week ago) if I saw something I wanted, I bought it. I wanted new glasses a few weeks ago, I went into my overdraft in order to buy them. I justified it to myself that I was getting headaches, and frankly my others were too damn small. The thing is, it wasn't a 'need', the glasses could have waited another month or two.

Today I realised I turned a corner when it came to my spending. Even though I had gone shopping, and hadn't spent too much at all I felt guilty. I still feel guilty now.

I took some tips from fellow bloggers (thank you!) and bought a small notebook to write down my expenditures. Hopefully this will show me what away I fritter my money on. Do I really need that bottle of fanta? Probably not. Do I really need another black t shirt? No.

Hopefully today marks the beginning of a more money-conscious Nicola. What do you think?

Thanks for reading x

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Making the Most of the Sunshine

I really should try and be a bit more imaginative with my post titles, shouldn't I?

Today, after finishing work a whole 4 HOURS early, and a quick visit to Boots (bye bye money), Colette and I took the dogs for a walk. They're knocking on a bit at 13 years old (in October).

We went to Oakwell Hall, which is a country park about 15 minutes walk away from where I live. It is beautiful and we take the dogs here all the time. It's even more beautiful in the sunshine.

Certain parts of it remind me of Lord of the Rings.

The stone Ram in the picture is infamous. 
I nicknamed the cute horse Shadowfax, purely because he is white (and fast). He started running around the field, the cutie pie.

Tomorrow is payday (FINALLY) so Colette, Rose and I are doing a bit of shopping and then having tea at Chiquitos. I've made a list, but I have a feeling I'm going to fall at the first budgeting hurdle..

Do you have any tips for budgeting? 
How have you been spending your days in the sun?

Thanks for reading x

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Random Ramble: A Few Resolutions...

I know, I know, three posts in one night. I'm not entirely sure why, I'm just feeling motivated at the moment.
I've decided to set myself a few goals to keep myself organised.

image(s) source: Tumblr

  • save more money! (£100 per wage) STOP FRITTERING
  • read more - finish primary dissertation reading asap
  • organise a rough dissertation plan before returning to Uni - colour -code books etc.
  • pass the bloody driving test
  • don't work yourself to the bone like last year, relax, learn to enjoy things that don't require money
Nothing groundbreaking here, I'm not sure what it is but recently, although I'm happy and comfortable with my life and where I'm going, I'm panicking about the future. I want to have savings, something to fall back on, I want to be organised. I would also love to pass my driving test before my 21st. I've taken (read: failed) 3, and my theory ran out in December. It's going to be difficult and very expensive.

Wild Beasts - We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues

I discovered Wild Beasts via Tumblr tonight. That's one of the many reasons I love that website, I discover new things I probably wouldn't ever see/hear.

Products I'm Using..

I want to try and incorporate more variety into the blog, so I thought I'd ease myself in slowly.
I saw this on Natasha's blog and thought I'd fill it in.

Shampoo: Aussie Take The Heat
Conditioner: Dove Nourishing Oil Conditioner
Hair Mask: I can't say I use one..
Styling Products: Aussie Hair Spray and TreSemme heat defense spray .
Shower Gel: Original Source Vanilla Milk & Raspberry. Seriously beautiful.
Body Moisturiser: Again, I don't often use one. A Nivea one if I do. Or E45 cream.
Face Mask: The Neutrogena daily face wash/mask.
Moisturiser: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel. This stuff cost a bomb, but I've had it for about two months and barely made a dent.
Cleanser: Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser to take off my make up, and the Clinique Liquid Facial Soap
Foundation: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum, 51 - I started off loving it, but I think it's making me oilly :(
Powder: MAC Mineralise Skin Finish Natural
Concealer: Collection 2000 16 Hour Wear, 1 - Fair
Blush: Benefit Coralista or Topshop cream blush in Head Over Heels
Bronzer: Benefit Hoola
Highlighter: MAC Pearl Cream Colour Base (it's new, and I love it)
Eyeshadows: Naked Palette, or MAC Naked Lunch/Phloof! with Satin Taupe
Eye Primer: Urban Decay Primer Potion
Eyeliner: Maybelline Gel Eyeliner - really, really good for the price!
Mascara: I'm using a Clinique High Impact tester, it's not as good as I expected. 
Lashes: None, if I can be bothered on a night out, the Revlon Natural ones
Lipstick: I don't wear it.
Lipgloss: I only wear lip balm, I have a pot of Carmex and a few cheapy ones.
Perfume: Beauty - Calvin Klein, or Alien - Thierry Mugler, if I remember to put it on.
Nail Colour: None at the moment, as I have to work tomorrow and it isn't allowed.

I'm going to snuggle up and watch Shawshank Redemption.
Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading x

Little catch up!

Hi everyone!

I just thought I'd fill you in on what's been happening with me!
I attended to the first group meeting for the magazine I recently got a job with. The team met all met each other for the first time, and honestly, everybody seems really, really lovely. We had a presentation and chatted about where we go from here and put a few ideas on the table. I'm really excited to start working properly. We've decided to have another meeting next week. In the mean time, we were all assigned an email address and told the roles that we have been given. I was given the role of 'blogger'. At first I was a bit apprehensive, because even though I write this, I can't say I'm overly confident in my own writing abilities. After thinking about it for a while, I am really excited about it. I'll get the chance to write and edit, which is what I think I want to do in the future, so it's the best of both worlds. Plus there's a lot of freedom within the team, so we'll all be able to switch up our jobs a bit. The whole project is ridiculously exciting.

I also started my work experience placement at a local paper on Tuesday. I'll be there every Tuesday and Wednesday for the next 3 weeks. Yesterday I was given a few small articles to write and re-word; I also went on a walk around the town with a journalist, talking to solicitors about the local county court closing. It was surprisingly interesting.
Today I was given an email to turn into an article. It was about rugby league, which isn't exactly my forte, but it turned out okay I think! I also watched how Ryan created the back page of the paper (using Quark XPress, which completely boggled my mind, as that's easier than Photoshop). It was really fun to watch, I couldn't recall anything he told me though.
In the past two days I've written 9 pieces. I'll see on Friday if any make into the actual paper!

For the next four days I'm working at Ikea, back to the day job. I wish I could be playing about in the sun though. I'm going into Leeds on Monday (my only day off, sob), so hopefully the weather will stick around for a bit.

I've also started reading Wicked (for the third time) and have bought the Game of Thrones novel to get stuck into. At least until I have to start my essays.

How are your weeks going?

Thanks for reading x

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Weekly Summary #6

Accurate description of my mood, birthday card shopping - not sure about the 'polite'!,
Essay writing, Essay completion,
Sherlock themed posters at uni, Outfit for Rose's birthday night,
Rose's birthday cake,
Dog walking in the sunshine.
  1. This week saw the last week of the Spring term at uni. I had one essay due in, alongside a dissertation meeting (which went well! I have a provisional title submitted!). I spent the majority of the week holed up in my room rewatching the films for the essay, note making, writing and editing. I have no teaching hours left of second year, which makes me sad; just four assignments due in after the Easter break.
  2. Dad picked me up on Friday and I've spent the weekend seeing friends. Colette and I gave Rose her present, which she loved, and we all went out on Saturday night in Leeds, where we all ended up very drunk. I ended up falling over, with a shoe flying in one direction and me the other, resulting in a very sore body and a big graze on my right knee. Sexy.
  3. I'm going to the first group meeting at the magazine tomorrow afternoon! I am equal parts terrified and excited. In a typical girly fashion, I have no idea what to wear. I want to look professional, but not like I've dressed up in my mum's clothes. I also start my work experience on Tuesday. I'm suddenly ridiculously busy this holiday, purely working, it's scary. It's going to be exhausting writing essays alongside it all.
  4. It seems summer has finally reached Yorkshire! (jinxed it). Colette and I nursed our hangovers by walking the dogs this afternoon. It was so lovely and warm.
  5. I'm attempting to re-read Wicked, as my previous attempts have failed, have any of you guys read it? Also, I'm going to read The Hunger Games, is it worth the hype?
  6. I want to start blogging more, if I can, as I think I don't really post too much about my life etc on here. Hopefully, if I get some good ideas, this will change.
I'm finishing off the week by watching Green Mile curled up on the sofa. Tom Hanks is my favourite.
How were your weeks? Have you been enjoying the sunshine?

Thanks for reading x

Monday, 19 March 2012

My University Experience... - Part 4 - Organisation Tips

Hey Everyone!
This is going to be the final part of this little feature, I hope you've enjoyed it!

Tip Number One - Get your own study space!
 This is my desk. Not the most organised or tidy, but you have to make do with what you've got. I do have another desk in my room (I have an attic room) but it is right at the top of the ladder so I can't get a chair under it - my books live there instead. Halls already have desks built in, and most student houses provide desks as part of the standard bedroom furniture.

I don't actually do too much of my essay writing here (I don't have any exams this year), I find it difficult to work at home as there are too many distractions. I mainly write in the library, which is also easier when it comes to sourcing books as you don't have to carry them around with you. It's an odd thing, but if I'm in the library I feel guilty about procrastinating, even though I know that nobody is going to 'tell me off' so I get a lot of work done in there.

On the left hand side is my printer. I would seriously recommend having your own printer when you go to uni. Most uni libraries are on campus and in the second/third years if you don't have the luxury of living on campus, there is often a mad rush to get work printed for deadlines. The computer rooms are always busy. Printers are relatively cheap - mine was £50 - and so worth it. 

On top of the printer are books that I will use for essays/dissertation research, notebooks and folders in which any handouts or lecture slides are kept.

The right hand side is my make-up, deodorant, skin care stuff etc. As I don't have anywhere else to store it.

Tip Number Two - Organising Your Work
When it comes to note taking I am a neat freak. I underline (titles twice with a red pen), highlight and have been known to rewrite notes if they are too messy. I also only ever write in black ball point pen (Bic Biros are my favourites). 

I currently have 3 notebooks on the go. The one on the top left is new (yay!) and I bought it specifically for dissertation research. The notebook on the top right is my general notebook where I plan numerous essays, write down things I don't want to forget, make lists in and copy down things that I think are lovely and want to keep. This goes everywhere with me.

I write lists everyday. I write down what I want to achieve each day, often I don't complete the list, but then I know what needs to be done. List writing is the only way I actually get anything done as, although I do work hard, I am incredibly lazy and rubbish at getting myself motivated.

The Pukka Pad is my notebook I use in lectures and seminars in order to keep all the notes in one place.

These Project Books are, for me, the best way for me to take notes and keep them neat and in one place. The divider tabs make it easy to have all my notes for all of the modules I am taking in one place. I tried different ways of note taking - I used refill pads and put my notes into clear wallets in lever-arch files, but for me it just didn't work. I didn't like having messy notes. 

I also prefer A4 notebooks; my housemate uses one small A5 notebook for all her notes, which I guess is more convenient as it's much smaller but it would drive me up the wall. 

When it comes to handouts and lecture slides I store them in plastic wallets like these - colour coded to each module. I find printing out lecture slides really helpful as that way you don't have to rush in lectures to scribble down each piece of information.

Most universities have online learning sites - MMU uses Moodle, and tutors will often post the lecture slides on there. I find having a paper copy helpful as that way I can write notes on the slides as, during lectures, lecturers often ramble and expand on points on the powerpoints, so having a paper copy means I can write down what isn't on the powerpoint.

Tip Three - Organising Your Time

Bit of an obvious one but buy a diary. I keep all of my deadlines in here, alongside my shifts at work and other meetings/places where I need to be.
I never kept a diary until I came to university, but it is the easiest way to keep organised.
You can see in black and white what you need to do, and then what spare time you have. 

Other tips:
  • Sleep and eat well. It's easy to get caught up in late nights, but especially near a deadline, you need to sleep
  • Work out when you study best. For me, it's the afternoon, from 12-6pm. I have never ever been a morning person, so I only do serious essay work in the afternoon and use the mornings to read over notes or books. 
  • Don't work on your bed! I am guilty of this one too. It's just so comfy! But when I try to work on my bed I end up napping 100% guaranteed. Which results in waking up stressed and more often than not, not getting any actual work done.
  • Go to lectures/seminars! I know I've said it in a previous post, but it is the only way to get the most out of your modules. You're paying for it, you may as well attend
  • Organise a budget. I'm guilty of being a bit crap with money; everything is always tight towards the end of term. It can be simple though, just work out exactly how much rent and bills you'll be paying each term, and see what you have left. Jade has a feature on her blog called 'Frugal Fighters' which is full of tips to help with saving money
  • This a newly discovered tip for me - when it comes to essay writing, leave at least a couple of hours between writing the main bulk and writing the conclusion. Clear your head, get something to eat and relax. Then go back to the essay, reread and conclude. If needed, leave it another day and print it off, read through it and make sure that the structure is correct. My tutor gave me that tip and it has helped me massively.
All finished! I hope these posts have helped in some way.
If you want any 'study tips' then Meg has a video which may be helpful (it was to me!) especially for English students!

Thanks for reading x

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Dear Mum,

This post is dedicated to my mum, one of the best women to grace the planet. My mum has struggled and fought to give my sister and I the best life she could. She has created two (in my opinion) extremely well-rounded, hard working daughters and I adore her completely for raising my us the way that she has. My parents have given us the best start to our lives and my mum is a wonderful role model.

She has never settled for anything less than the best she could attain; it hasn't been easy - there have been many tears along the way, but I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Dear Mamabear,
                           Thank you. I love you with all my heart; you are my inspiration to never settle for less than what you want, to never give up the fight. You have been there through all my rights and wrongs, and helped me to change them, you have picked me up and dusted me down. You have been there when things haven't gone the way I wanted, when friends and boys were shitty; you have fought my corner every single step of the way - a favourite being when you told Colette and I's year two teacher that just because Colette can write an excellent story, does not mean that my work should be comparable, and that I told my tales through pictures. 
Thank you for raising us the way you have done, all the shouting has been more than worth it. I respect you and adore you entirely, Grandad would be so proud of all of us. You always have and always will believe in me, that I am sure of.

Thank you for being my wonderful, beautiful mother; my inspiration, my rock and my anchor.
I adore you.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Weekly Summary #5

Essay reading going pretty well, What I wore home,
A quotation from Virginia Woolf's diaries in a book I'm reading, Watching Forrest Gump for said essay,
A photo an old friend sent me today which cheered me up at work

  1. This week has been a stressful, but productive week. The upcoming week is the final week of teaching for my academic year (Summer term is the exam period at MMU, I have no exams) and I have an essay due in on the 23rd so I have been trying to get a vague plan for an essay written up.
  2. I also have to decide what I want to write my dissertation on by the 23rd, so I've been frantically emailing various tutors for guidance/reading suggestions. I know I want to write on Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath and think I have a general idea for a topic now. I think I'm going to see my personal tutor to solidify an idea. I've always been terrible at decision making, and got told off by my A-Level English Literature teacher for not having enough confidence in my abilities and always comparing myself to others. I think I'm just a perfectionist.
  3. I got my new glasses yesterday. They are just amazing and I've had some lovely compliments about them. Apparently they are 'professional, but still trendy'. Thanks, Mum.
  4. I also now have dates and times for my work experience and a date for the first staff meeting for the job at the magazine. Just a shame that my part-time job (which I've had for 4 years) may have to 'let me go' at the end of the year due to my hours not being 'suitable to the business' needs'. 
  5. I think I'm going to bring a bit more literature into my blog; talking about my favourite books/review a few I've finished recently? I use 'review' in the loosest term. What do you think?
A stressful final week ahead, but I'll be much happier once everything is organised and I'm home next week for the holidays.
I have a new, simple motto I'm trying to adhere to:
image source: Tumblr

Let me know what you think about the book review posts?

Thanks for reading x

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

My University Experience, so far... - Part Three - Second Year, Work Load and Living in a House

Hi everyone!

I'm finally getting around to writing part three of this feature; there's only one more left, honest! But more on that in a bit.
In this post I'm going to talk about house-hunting, how I've found living in a house compared to halls, and the second year work load.
First, here's a picture of me and Nat, one of my housemates before an 'anything but clothes' party - cute cling film top and bin bag skirts:
Cling film is hideously unflattering, I'm not flat chested, I promise!

When it came to house-hunting, the actual process itself was relatively easy. I went to an open day before I came to uni and they frightened the life out of me by saying that you should have an idea of who you want to live with by December of your first year; for me that wasn't true. I didn't decide until late January who I wanted to live with, and there was not real rush to choose a house straight off the bat (saying that, I live with 2 other girls in a 4 bedroomed house, there is more competition to get larger houses). I didn't want to live with my flatmates in halls, and became friends with Lydia as we're on the same course; Nat was Lydia's flatmate in halls so we all got together one day and decided what we wanted. We also spent more time together as a group to really get to know one another.

Nat, Lydia and I signed up with an agency (homes4u, in Manchester, if you're interested) which I would recommend for finding your first house. We got talked through the process, and found some houses to view. Going with an agency saves panic and worry if you're not sure about what you're doing, however there are agency fees to pay, so beware of that.

We weren't fussy about what we wanted, but decided early on the amount of rent we wanted to pay per week. I would suggest having a browse at student housing in your area online to help gauge this as different areas have different price ranges, for example, we looked at houses from £50 up to about £75 per week, whereas my sister, who lives in York, was looking £85 per week upwards. 

One tip I would suggest would be don't look at too many houses! If you look at 10+ houses, you forget what you've seen and it all gets a bit muddled. Lydia and I looked at about 5 houses, and whittled it down to two. We then went back for a second viewing to each with Nat - always go for a second viewing - before deciding on the house.

House hunting is a relatively simple process, but here are a few tips:
  • stand your ground - if there are things you want to change, speak with the landlord to see if they can be done. Our landlord was very understanding and said if there was anything we didn't like, he would change it. 
  • don't take advantage though - although landlords, from my experience, are accommodating, there are always plenty of other students who can take your place, so don't be cheeky.
  • decide what you want before you look - use the internet and see what you want in a house, and what is reasonable. For example, we looked at mainly small terraced houses, so we didn't expect a huge garden.
  • compromise - it isn't just you that's going to be living in the house, so sacrifice cupboard space/the best bedroom etc. The easiest way we found was to draw straws. 
  • be willing to share - everything is halls can be very much 'yours', but in a house it makes much more sense to buy just one bottle of washing up liquid, one tub of butter, one box of washing powder. Treat it much more like home.

When it comes to living in a house or flat, it is often much cheaper than living in halls. I have enjoyed living in a house much more than halls as it feels more homely. It is nice to have a space that you can truly make your own without the huge list of rules that apply in halls. We love our house so much we have decided that we don't want to move; in fact another girl is coming to live with us so there will be four of us! It's really exciting. To put it simple, a house is just 100% better than halls.

One part of my room. Fanta bottle left over from a Dominos order!

Before starting second year I was extremely apprehensive because 'second year counts!!!' - cue panic. For most universities the pass rate for first year is 40%, whereas in second year everything counts towards your degree.
However, it really isn't that bad, for me at least. I worked (relatively) hard in my first year, so I knew what sort of grades I could get if I applied myself. 

My work load was pretty similar to first year, the post Christmas essay rush is the worst; at MMU you spend the month before Christmas break writing essays, and then they expect you to write 3 essays over the three weeks we're home, which safe to say did not happen. When it comes to studying/essay writing you just have to know your strengths and weaknesses. I knew that I wasn't going to get the greatest grades in my essays after Christmas, so I didn't set myself up to be disappointed.

Second year is all about settling back in quickly:
  • buy your reading lists over summer and get reading! I didn't, and it does make it a lot easier in the long run (I will be doing for my third year as dissertation reading will probably take over my life)
  • get organised - make a specific space in your room for studying. Essay writing in bed is not the best thing (although again, I am guilty of it)
  • don't panic! - your tutors are there to help. In second year you get to choose some, if not all of your modules, so a lot of it you won't know. Email or ask to speak to your tutor after the lecture/workshop/seminar. Any correspondence is a good thing; a lot of my tutors now know my name and are much more friendly. Don't treat them like school teachers, they are much more on your wave-length!

I think that's everything for this post! I feel like I've rambled enough. I hope this helps some of you, and I hope I haven't come across as preachy, this is just my experience!
The next, and final, post will be all about study tips/organisation and will hopefully be a bit shorter!

Do you have any other tips to share? Drop a comment, I'd love to read them

Thanks for reading x

Monday, 12 March 2012

Weekly Summary #4

  1. Not much has happened in the past week really, but it feels like it has been really busy and rushed. I had a piece of work due in on Monday, which I wrote in an hour (naughty), but ended up getting 67% for it so I'm not complaining one bit.
  2. I've been whinging all week due to being struck down with a cold on Tuesday. So much so that I went home on Thursday evening so I could enjoy some home comforts (read constant central heating).
  3. I also ordered some new glasses on Friday, and get to pick them up this Friday. I'm ridiculously excited, they are beautiful.
  4. Remember the guy that offered to cook me tea at his and watch films? Well the cooking part didn't happen, but the films part did. It was nice to see him again, just a shame he's being ignorant and not replying to my text. Writing that one off as a bad job.
  5. I'm waiting to hear back from my work experience placement about times/dates, but everything is going well so far. It's exciting. Scary, but exciting.
Like I said, nothing exciting really. I finish uni in two weeks, and have an assignment due in so there's going to be a few library sessions ahead. I'm definitely ready for Easter though.
As for now, I'm going to cook some tea and spend the night on the sofa.

How were your weeks?

Thanks for reading x

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Quick Filler/Update

Hi everyone!

I promise this is going to be a short post!
I was going to sit down and write part 3 of my University Experience posts, but that would take me quite a while so I'm going to try and write that over the weekend when I have time and am able to concentrate.

I'm not feeling very well at the moment, I'm full of a cold with a congested head, achey eyes, the whole lot so I've come home. I was coming home on Friday anyway so a day early doesn't hurt.

This weekend should be fun; I'm going to try to book an eye test/get my eyes tested tomorrow (I get really excited about the prospect of new glasses), mine just don't feel strong enough any more and to be honest I just want new frames. I've had mine for the past two years and I've just grown out of them; they're Red or Dead ones with hideous mock Ed Hardy print on the arms. Don't ask, I don't know what I was thinking either. I fancy some new, plain frames that are wider as I find myself looking over rather than through them.
On Friday evening I'm going for drinks for a coworker's birthday, Abbey and I are taking her 18 month old sister shopping on Saturday, and on Saturday evening I am meant to be having my tea cooked for me by an attractive male (as of yesterday, I'm not holding my breath!)

I've also had another email from the magazine I applied for. I'm paraphrasing, but I basically have a job (albeit unpaid at the moment). The email says that each person chosen so far has been assigned a 'specific role within the magazine'. That's me. I have a 'specific role'. We're having our first meeting in 2-4 weeks as they're still going through more applications. I am excited to the point of hideousness. This alongside my work experience over Easter is getting my career right on track. I could cry with happiness.

My blazer should be arriving tomorrow/Saturday and I can't wait to start putting 'professional' outfits together. I'm thinking of doing some outfit posts (if I can force Colette/Lydia to take photos). What do you think?

What are you doing over the weekend?

I'll keep you posted with the job things, I'm so excited! But also terrified that my uni career ends in just over a year, I could cry.

Thanks for reading! x

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Work Experience - Maturing My Wardrobe

Hi Everyone!

I said in my last post that I have secured myself a work experience placement over Easter at a local newspaper back home, and have also got myself a job at a magazine in Manchester. Obviously, I got mega excited about it all, as my career seems to be forming in front of me, but I had nothing to wear.
I know loads of girls say that, but I literally have no smart/formal clothing. I spend my life in jeans or body-con skirts with loose tops and vans with my leather jacket. Not exactly office appropriate. So obviously, I went shopping:

shoes: £10, top: £8, denim dress: £10 (all Primark)
belt: £3.99, trousers: £24.99, necklace: £7.99,  umbrella: £5.99 (all H&M), 
lipstick £8, blusher: £6 (both Topshop), books: Amazon

I wanted some smart black trousers that I could wear with numerous tops, these ones from H&M are beautiful and fit really well. I had to turn them up a bit (I don't like full length trousers, so these are rolled to my ankles, and I'm really short). They're not quite high waisted, but don't sit low on my hips either. Perfect.

I don't own any smart shoes (surprise, surprise). I live in vans (4 pairs and counting, eep) so I didn't want to spend a bomb on a pair of shoes I will literally only wear for work experience and a few times over summer. These ones are really cute, and at £10 were a bargain.

I won't lie, I probably won't wear the denim dress at the office, I bought it because it is cute and I wanted it. This does come up small though, I'm usually a size 6/8, this is an 8 and slightly tight over my chest, and I don't have particularly big boobs.

I've been wanting a collar type necklace for quite a while, and could never find one I like; they were either too big or the wrong colour. This one is perfect. I think £7.99 is a bit steep, but it won't leave my neck, so I will get my wear out of it.

Leather jackets aren't office appropriate, but I always thought that blazers made me look boxy, and masculine in all the wrong ways, as I have short hair; after crying out on Tumblr for help, a few lovely ladies gave me some fab suggestions, including wearing a slouchier blazer. I couldn't find one I liked at a reasonable price (£65 Topshop? no thanks!) so I scoured eBay and found this one for £26 (inc. P&P):

image taken from eBay listing

It hasn't arrived yet, but it looks perfect. I didn't want a blazer that was too tailored, nor did I want a black one, so this light grey colour is beautiful and will still go with everything. I can't wait for it to arrive!

I've been reading Jen's blog as inspiration, as I love the way she puts outfits together as she always looks professional, but still fashionable. I was wary that a blazer would make me look like a geography teacher/middle-aged, which I obviously don't want!

I also treated myself to a new lipstick and cream blusher from Topshop; I haven't tried them before but my sister has a blusher and it is lovely. 


I originally wanted the Brighton Rock lipstick after seeing it on Gem here but the Topshop I went to didn't have it, I'm not sure if it's discontinued as I know that Topshop rotate their makeup stock quite a lot. I bought Ooh La La, which is quite similar, the photo above makes it look reddy/orange but it is definitely more of a light corally pink. I'm not a lipstick wearer as I think my red hair makes enough of an impact, but I'm going to try and wear this. The blusher is in Head Over Heels and is gorgeous! I love it so so much. Powder blusher never lasts on my skin, so I'm going to see if cream fares any better.

The last things I got (literally came in the post this morning!) are two books. I've been after a new book that wasn't Moby-Dick or written in the 19th century (DO NOT get me started), and after watching Meg's recent haul video (if you don't watch her, you should, she has impeccable taste) I decided to buy these two:
I'm excited to read them both; Blindness will be useful for a module I'm currently doing called 'Disability and Representation', so I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in! I'll let you know what I think of them once I've read them.

I can't seem to do short, snappy blog posts. Sorry guys. I'm on a serious spending ban now, but I think that (most) of these purchases were justified.

How do you smarten up your wardrobes? Any tips would be fantastic!

Thanks for reading x

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Weekly Summary #3

Cheese scones Lyd and I made to go with our soup, To do list in my diary (now much longer, sob),
My outfit from Wednesday for uni, Standing on the train home (avec Rose's birthday pressie!!!)

  1. Well, this week has been manic in many ways. On Wednesday we went into uni to the Options Fair to help decide on our modules for next year, which was completely daunting, but also really exciting. There were loads and loads of brilliant modules, but we could only choose two per term. I've chosen: Representing the Holocaust; Beat Sound, Beat Vision; American Poetics and British Novel: Modernisms/Postmodernisms. I cannot wait to start next year as the modules are amazing but it is my last year at uni (CRY) which I am not ready for. At all. I just want to stay here forever (well not forever).
  2. It's my best friend's 21st in a couple of weeks so I popped into Pandora and bought her a lovely treat which I think (hope!) she will love. 
  3. I also spent a lot of time applying for jobs this week that will help after I've graduated. I want to go into Publishing, which basically requires applicants to have work experience. I have had two replies about jobs; one as a film reviewer and one from a magazine who is opening an office in Manchester, who said they found my application very interesting and invited me to a group meeting and to 'become part of their [our] team'. SO EXCITING. I've also got a work experience placement sorted for over the Easter break at a local newspaper back home, which I'm really happy about.
  4. I don't think I've mentioned it on here before, but I applied (and got accepted) to teach English at a school in Thailand. However, it would cost an arm and a leg (seriously, over £1200) and after being invited to meet with the magazine people, I have decided to drop out. That means I may lose my £250 deposit, but in the long run it is worth it. I am absolutely gutted, but I would have been away for six weeks and would be absolutely skint until I came back, so I've been grown up and chosen to kick-start (cringe) my career. Hopefully, anyway. I plan on travelling around Europe after uni to sort of make up for it.
  5. Oh, also, remember that friend of mine who invited me out for drinks a few weeks ago? Yeah, the drinks didn't happen, but he has invited me over this coming weekend, saying he'll cook for me (!!!!!!!!!!). I am very dubious as to whether it will actually happen, as I've found he's pretty flaky. I'll keep you posted!
I've had a pretty busy week and have finally put myself on a track towards my career and have been pretty motivated! It's just a shame the motivation didn't reach as far as my university work. I have an essay plan due in tomorrow and am currently struggling to get the majority of the reading done. So bad. BUT due to the fact that I  will be saving a ton of money by not going to Thailand, I am going shopping Tuesday to get a few pieces of clothing and I really want to try and get myself some new glasses ASAP!

I've rambled on for far too long as usual. How were your weeks?

Thanks for reading! x

Thursday, 1 March 2012

My University Experience, so far... Part 2 - Fresher's, Making Friends and a Few Tips

Hello everyone!
I've been feeling a bit inspired the past couple of days so I thought I'd sit myself down and write the second part of my university series. 

I'll just jump right into it and say that my first few months at uni were a mixture of ups and downs. I chose to go to uni in a city relatively close to where I live (40 minutes on a train) but decided to move out. I was lucky and managed to secure myself an en suite room in Halls.  
A few tips to getting settled in Halls:
  • make your room your own. Make it homely, take photographs and put them on the walls, take books and things to fill the shelves. Rooms in Halls often look a bit like cells, so to combat homesickness don't be afraid to spruce it up a bit; for example, I went and bought fairy lights from a pound shop to make my room a bit prettier. Home comforts are essential.
  • make an effort with your flatmates. Nine times out of ten your flatmates won't know anyone else either. Keep your door open, be willing to make compromises about space in the kitchen for example. Just be nice and friendly. You can't get on with absolutely everyone but try. I didn't make as much of an effort with my flatmates as I could have, which I now regret as we haven't kept in touch at all. If you do struggle to get on with anyone, just be civil. Nobody wants to live within a tense atmosphere.
  • share responsibilities. A girl in my flat made a cleaning rota (not my thing, personally) but don't let one person be the person who constantly takes out the bin, it just isn't fair. Ask before you take things, or leave notes on the fridge. It's really simple to get along with flatmates, you just have to make an effort really. Halls are great fun!
This may be a bit 'controversial' but personally, my Fresher's week sucked. I'm not too big on going out and drinking loads, but even for me it was a bit rubbish. Everyone is either, from my experience, really self conscious, or just out to get absolutely hammered. Don't expect too much from it, it is completely over-hyped!

The first week of classes at my uni are all about sorting out the timetable and finding your tutor groups. For me there was a big lecture, where I met one of my friends, Ailish, and through her I met Rosie.

Ailish and I - Christmas Market 2011, Rosie and I on a night out.

 Everyone is in the same boat, just be friendly and make an effort with conversations. I was pretty shy and found it difficult, but you just have to put yourself out there! Everyone says it, but it's true. It's not easy by any means. I spent a lot of my time outside of uni with Ailish, and made many other friends. The key, what I've found anyway, is just to get out. Even if you're feeling homesick and missing your mum, sitting by yourself won't make you feel any better; give your mum a ring and then organise to meet with friends. Talk to people, outside of uni and in classes. Don't be worried about coming across as a smart arse, you'll get along a lot better if you communicate with tutors. That way they remember your name, which is always a good thing.

  • don't be worried about making friends; the friends you make in the first few weeks won't necessarily be the friend you make for life, or even last until the end of first year, but don't let that put you off.
  • just be friendly! Smile at people, say hi, sit next to different people in classes until you find a group you feel comfortable with. 
  • another thing I did was find people via facebook and tumblr. I first spoke to three of my friends, Ailish, Lottie and Alice on facebook and chatted a bit first. That way if you see them around campus, you can say hi. It just breaks the ice a little.
Rosie, Me and Ailish

Just a few other tips:
  • go to classes! Once you stop going it can become a habit. You don't want to get into that habit. I went to (almost) every single class in my first year - mainly because I hate missing things, always have done, I'm a bit of a hard worker. First year is a doss year that (usually) doesn't count towards your final degree, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important.
  • eat and sleep sensibly. Don't do what I did!! I was an idiot and often stayed awake until 5am, having to get up at 9am for lectures. It isn't fun. I also ate a lot of crap and put on about 10 pounds. There's the myth about 'Fresher's 15', and it does happen, you just have to try and avoid eating the 4 take aways a week.
  • make a budget! Work out how much money you'll have once rent has gone and make a weekly budget to stick to. This also helps with food shopping if you plan meals and give yourself a bit extra for a few treats. Jade has mentioned here and here about the merits of budgeting. Her 'frugal fighting' posts are full of great tips for students too.
  • before you start uni and apply to student finance, apply for everything you can get even if you think you're not eligible. Look into bursary schemes, because literally every pound extra you can get helps.
This has been a long one again, sorry guys. I hope it has been at least a little bit helpful if you're a first year student, or looking into going to university. 
In the next part of this I think I'll talk about house-hunting and maybe include a few study tips? Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading! x

P.s. Fleur has made a video about her university experience recently here which I found helpful and interesting, if you want to take a look.

edit: I won't lie, my first year was full of ups and downs, I never truly felt settled in halls as I didn't truly gel with my flatmates. Instead, I pushed myself into making friends on my course and spent much of my time at my friends' flat. You will find people you gel with. Don't worry!
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