Caturday



More times than others I never know how to start writing a new post (if I was 15 and this was Live Journal it would definitely be DEAR F*CKING DIARY) Alas, I'm 25 and sitting in bed with a hot chocolate at 10.30pm on a Tuesday night, candles burning and relaxing music on. I'm a week away from finishing what has felt like the longest stint ever on this BBC job. 4 months is a pretty long gig for us freelance folk. 11 hour days and a 3 hour commute on top of that has tired me right through to my soul. But hey, I'm almost finished and won't need to work again until mid January, so it's not all bad. It's been an amazing programme to work on and such a gem for my CV, I can't wait to share the show with you when it airs next year. For now, I've been able to save a little bit of money and I move into a new flat next month too, just me and the cats. What a crazy, crazy year this has been and although I am beyond tired right now, I'm excited for whats to come and I have a feeling this year will finish on an absolute high. Also, perks of the job - I nabbed this faux fur coat above from the Costume sale at work. It's a Zara number, £79 and I got it for £30 when it was only worn for half a day in a scene by one of our actresses. It makes me feel like a teddy bear!

Onto the equally as furry nature of this post, I wanted to show a bit of cat related appreciation and give you an update on how Binx is doing (I took these pictures on Saturday so hopefully you'll let me off with the name of this post too...)


I had to do a double take when one of my favourite makeup brands Shu Uemura teamed up with none other than Karl Lagerfelds cat, Shupette, to launch a makeup collection - La Maison De Shupette. The makeup isn't for cats of course, it is for us lovely humans. Shupette is one of the most beautiful kitties I have ever seen and I absolutely adore how cute this range is. I'm wearing the lip and eye palette in the picture above but you can see a closer look further down. My Adventure Time phone case has been on it's last legs for a while, so I finally replaced it with this Gemma Correll Cat print case from Iconemesis.  It's super sturdy and I've always been a big fan of Gemma's quirky illustrations (her 'where you will find me at parties' one could not be closer to the truth) They also do a Pug print one too if you're more of a dog lover, plus prints from a handful of other lovely artists if you're looking for an iphone case that's a bit different.


The Parisienne Chic lip palette is absolutely lovely. I'm wearing the colour on the left in the very first picture. I don't wear lipstick if I know I've got a long and busy day ahead, so the rose tinted vaseline is normally my go to but these lip colours are great because they are similarly moisturising and have a great burst of colour to them. I was initially worried that the eye-need-shu trio would make my eyes look circa school disco 2001, however they are a lot softer in colour than I initially thought. Made for a cute girly eye that could go from marshmallow to cranberry. Nice change for these winter months that isn't boring brown and cream! I have mixed feelings about the packaging and illustration of Shupette. She's a lot cuter in real life and I feel like they could have done her justice a bit more! However I do still find it quite sweet. Just realised I have my David and Goliath cat print pj's on in that picture above too. Am I gaining all the crazy cat lady points yet?


Now onto my little furry little rascal Binx. This boy has came on leaps and bounds since I rescued him, he was only 4 weeks old and weighed a measly 900g. Fast forward to today he's over 2.5kg, has had both jags and the vet doesn't need to see him again until he gets neutered at 6 months old. Dexter has been such a good big brother to this new addition, very patient and kind towards him, and almost 'showing him the ropes' like the Dear Kitten video (which is so sweet I could cry!) Both boys are addicted to drinking out of anything that isn't their water bowl, even though they have fresh water every day. My glass of water is normally second choice and in first place is the bathroom tap. So I got them this water fountain from Feedem, which Binx absolutely loves but Dexter is definitely still a tap man. The only think I don't like is wee creepy crawlies seem to gather underneath the actual machine base - anyone got any ideas of how I stop this? Have you ever used a water fountain for your cat/dog?

Binx definitely only has two settings at the moment - cute and sleepy (which isn't very often) and manic hyper mode, which are broken up with brief toilet and food/water breaks. He is an absolute rocket, full of energy and literally wants into EVERYTHING I touch around the house. Changing bedsheets? I will help you Ayden. Folding washing? Hi Ayden can I be of assistance with this! And anything new that comes into the house has to be given the once over and approval by him too (normally sniffed and licked to death)


I got this beautiful flower delivery from Appleyard London as a wee pick me up, and naughty Binx was straight in about it as soon as they arrived. I only found out a couple of years ago that Lillies are poisonous to cats, so despite them being my favourite flowers I never have them in the house anymore. So I went for this Rose Envy bouquet which contains roses, red berries and blue veronica. Despite being delivered by post they arrived really fresh and lasted about half a week longer than most of my supermarket bought flowers do (bad Ayden, I know) But hey, sometimes we are allowed to treat ourselves, right? It is really refreshing to have Christmas Flowers in the house that aren't all red or plain poinsettas! They came with a free box of chocolates too, which I took into the office and they were ALL inhaled over tea break. They're lucky I'm so bloody good at sharing.


All in all, I like cats. Have you guessed? Binx is absolutely crazy, but I guess that's just kittens for you. Dexter is such a gentle giant so I'm hoping he will be a calming influence over time. Oh and does anyone want to buy a Mulberry handbag completely covered in bite marks? Kitten not included... well, not yet ;) Just kidding, wouldn't change my furry family for the world.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Can you believe that Christmas is almost upon us? I seem to go into complete denial until I'm having festive tunes and soppy tv adverts forced in my face. I'm no Scrooge, I just can't grasp how quickly this year has flown in! I've been getting organised and using Clipix to gather all my favourite finds from various corners of the internet. Mostly ideas of things I would like to buy myself once this job is over, presents I would like to buy for other people, and websites that are generally just awesome and contain lots of hidden gems that you wouldn't always find in the shops. I've picked my top 13 as a sort of Christmas wishlist, and I hope you like them or they direct you to some sites or brands you've maybe not stumbled across before.

Christmas Wishlist

From left to right...
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 - £90 @ Urban Outfitters
2. Ginger Pleasures Gift Set - £45 @ Origins
3. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle - £68 @ Chanel
4. Girl Boss Book - £15.31 @ Nasty Gal
5. Magical Unicorn Slippers - £24.99 @ Firebox
6. Kitty Coin Bank - £14.99 @ Firebox
7. Clementine Print - £15 @ LaLaLand
8. Toast Heated Pillow - £29.99 @ Firebox
9. Personalised Stack Rings - From £35 @ Bloody Mary Metal
10. Cinderella Play Dress - $95 AUD @ Black Milk
11. Peanut Butter Maker - £49.99 @ Firebox
12. Blue Unicorn Kigu - £39.99 @ Kigu
13. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade - £15 @ Beauty Bay

Of course my furry friends wanted in on the action too - so I let Dexter and Binx do their own wishlist for Santa from Pets At Home. They have both been very good boys this year - Dexter is being a great big brother to Binx, and Binx is settling into his new home with us really well. My little wild cat has been an unexpected addition to the family, which has incurred me a few extra costs but I wouldn't change it for the world! So this list is a mixture of practical things they could really be doing with, and some other goodies thrown in for fun.

Pets At Home

1. Rattan Cat Carrier - £39.99
2. Christmas Tree Hat - £5
3. Baby Bea Kitten Treats - 79p
4. Litter Kwitter - £39.99
5. Red Necktie - £4
6. Microwave Heatpad - £22
7. Floral Scratch House - £10
8. Turkey Dreamies - £1
9. Willows Activity Centre - £100

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? And do you prefer to do it online or in person? This weekend myself and Heather are heading to the Country Living Christmas Fair at the SECC to get properly into the Christmas spirit! Also to find some much needed festive inspiration to get started. 

I have 2 free tickets to give away to the fair this weekend in Glasgow, running from Friday to Sunday. So if you would like to enter, leave your name and contact details in the comments and I will choose a winner on Thursday 20th. Depending on what day you would like to go I can meet you in person beforehand to give you the tickets. I'll be going this Saturday :)

The journey to a positive body image

So, I'm 25 years old, a female, and apart from stating the obvious I'm heavily influenced on a daily basis by the media about how I should look physically. Makeup and fashion trends come and go, but what I'm talking about is weight, body shape and the constant pressure we face to look a certain way. This is a trend which never seems to stop circulating.

Magazines and advertising campaigns are plastered with bikini bodies, post baby weight loss and fad diets. Celebrities get slated for putting on too much weight, or loosing too much weight?! So basically, you can't be too fat but you can't be too skinny either. I've always been curvy but the 'real women have curves' photos that do the rounds of the internet really infuriate me. Just because someone is naturally slim or has an athletic figure doesn't make them a 'real' woman? Possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.

I wouldn't say my weight is something I have 'battled' with, as I have always had a healthy bmi and no need to loose weight for medical related reasons. It's all just aesthetic. But it is something that I think about almost every day of my life, probably since the age of about 18/19. Ironically, I remember being happy with my shape and size before then because I never actually thought about it much. As soon as I started analysing it, the weight piled on and that made me obsess even more.


Here's me from the ages of 18-23. The puppy fat evolved and was renamed 'womanly curves' as I liked to tell myself. Fad diets, calorie counting, then binge eating to make myself feel better and repeating that process over and over again. Plus a stupid amount of alcohol while I was at uni. My sleeping patterns were awful, so I was tired all the time and drinking too much red bull and eating absolute rubbish to fuel me throughout the day. Stressful days at work and break ups? That's okay to have a takeaway tonight then, because I've 'earned' it, and it will make me feel better.  I could never tell the difference between eating when I was actually hungry, or if it was just because I was bored or for comfort. Then when I did eat I was filling my body with empty calories that made me even more tired, even more hungry, and put even more weight on. Maybe that guy wouldn't have dumped me if my boobs were bigger, or my waist was smaller, or my bum was more like Kim Kardashian's. Or the thing in recent years of the 'thigh gap'. Did you know that thigh gaps are actually determined by your bone structure and how wide your hips are, rather than how big or small your thighs and bum might be? Ladies, we can do a lot of amazing things when we put our minds to it but changing your bone structure is not one of them.

At my heaviest I was just over 11 stone. I'd get the usual 'oh but you don't LOOK that heavy' or 'you carry your weight REALLY well'. All sort of round about reassurance but I know what they meant. Years of snowboarding, surfing and motocross meant I had built up a lot of muscle that you couldn't really see (but I promise, it's there!) and of course muscle weighs more than fat. I'm convinced it's in my thighs, those god damn things are solid and will never loose an inch no matter what I do.


Here is me from the ages of 23-25. In the past couple of years I have completely re-evaluated what I am doing with my body, trying to re-educate myself and break bad habits. Despite the pressure we face every day from the media, I wanted to do this for MYSELF and no one else. To actually feel healthier in general. I have been actively trying to make long lasting lifestyle changes, and it's been bloody hard, but in the past wee while it seems to be paying off. I embarked on a detox plan called Clean 9, with the help of a lovely makeup artist I work with called Alexis Miller. This kick started my recent weight loss by almost completely eliminating my addiction to sugar, caffine and junk food in general. Sounds faddy, but it isn't and it really worked. I'd be happy to do another post on that if anyone is interested in hearing about it.

I have been working on my focus area for quite a while now, the bit that bothers me the most - my tummy! It is so satisfying to look at both sets of pictures above and be able to show how my body shape has finally started to change. I lived with a personal trainer for a year, tried all the classes under the sun but was still finding that I couldn't define my shape the way I wanted to. This is when I stumbled across TechnoShape, which I have already mentioned in a previous post. Each session lasts 40 minutes and consists very simply of wearing an air pressured belt while you work on the treadmill.


The belt gently moves and almost massages your stomach, encouraging blood circulation to your mid drift. When I work out I always get a red face and arms but my stomach is cold to touch, so by encouraging the blood to circulate more in this area while you exercise boosts your body's ability to burn fat in this area. Hence the steady inch loss! I finished up on the course today and I am really chuffed with the results. After 6 sessions of Technoshape I lost 5cm from my waist, 7cm from my stomach and 4cm from my hips

From left to right, before, during and after

I would say the detox and healthy eating helped with my weight most, and the TechnoShape obliterated those inches, helping me to shift stubborn fat and define my shape. I seem to have hit a plateau with my weight loss recently, at the end of july I was 10 stone 3lbs and I'm now sitting at 9 stone 5lbs. I tell myself my goal weight is 9lbs, but realistically the weight doesn't matter when I can see my body shape changing and feel better about how I fit into my clothes.

A final treat because you are all so awesome, TechnoShape are offering the chance for you to win 6 sessions at a studio near you - worth £275. Even if you're not far from your goal and need that final push, or are looking for an excuse to kick start those changes, I would recommend it to everyone after seeing how well it has worked for me. I know this price tag might be quite a lot for most people, but it does actually work and targets that stubborn area. Weigh that up against the amount of money people spend buying into fad diets or plans where the weight and inches go straight back on as soon as you start eating normally again. The inches I have lost with TechnoShape have came off, and stayed off! Enter below via Rafflecopter, and good luck! I'm so excited to be giving a set of these sessions away to one of you lucky readers :)

Despite the long hours I have been working for the past couple of months I actually feel more alert and full of energy than I have in such a long time. My skin is clearer, I'm less irritable and I feel like I have made a massive shift emotionally as well as physically. All these things are connected and a healthy mind makes for a healthy body too. Cutting out the addictions to caffine and sugar has made me realise how AWFUL I felt before, when I didn't realise how much I depended on them. But don't get me wrong, I still treat myself with a nice coffee during the week, pizza at the weekend, a glass of wine after a long day and a slice of cake when it takes my fancy. But now I find myself also craving the healthy options because I know how good they make me feel for a longer amount of time, with no crash afterwards. Everything is fine in moderation, and at the end of the day you need to be kind to yourself. Apart from thinking about weight loss and a smaller waist band, the most important thing is to feel comfortable in your own skin. This is my journey - it may be very different from yours or quite similar. We all have our own goals which will take varying amounts of time, steps and determination. Above all, ignore what the media tells you you should look like, strip it all back to basics and work out what you want to do for you.

 
‘Girls of all kinds can be beautiful – from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It's not easy though because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box... Think outside of the box... Pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.’ - Tyra Banks

Newcastle Adventures

So, I have a new family and their name is Alpha...

It all started last Saturday when I got the train down south to meet Amy Valentine for a night out at the O2 Academy Newcastle. It was my first time visiting the city, and I've no idea why because it was literally only an hour and a half on the train from Edinburgh! We were heading to an alternative club night they hold there called Alpha. I love an eclectic mix of music but my heart will always belong to pop punk, screamo and rock - so I was excited to try out a new club night as there's only one in Glasgow that me and my pals really go to.


I stayed at the Thistle Hotel which was right across the road from the train station, and just around the corner from the venue (sober Ayden liked the convenience of this already) When I arrived I had a couple of hours to kill before I met Amy, so I took a wander around the shops and bought a new outfit for the evening (completely disregarding all the clothes I had already packed, typical) Once Amy arrived we met to meet the guys who run Alpha - Anth, Chris and Ash, along with John who is one of the managers of the O2 Academy Newcastle. We went for a beer and had a proper good chinwag about all things Newcastle, Music, and the sort of club scene that exists in the city. I was also banned from mentioning Gordie Shore, haha!

Maybe it's just that I've never sat down and spoken to anyone who runs their own club night, but I was absolutely inspired by what the guys do, and how successful their night has become despite only launching in April 2013. As I've gotten older I am much more fussy where I end up spending my nights out, maybe for the fact that I get hangovers so badly so I want it to be worth it. For me, good music is a priority. I like songs that I can dance to and that create a good atmosphere, which ultimately leaves everyone in high spirits and up for a good time. So when I gave the guys a list of my 5 favourite alternative bands, I was pleased when they said they played every single one! (for the record, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Brand New, Underoath and Jimmy Eat World)

Next up on the priority list for me tends to be alcohol options and prices. I don't binge drink or consume large volumes of alcohol when I'm out, so what I do drink I like to be tasty! I know that might sound weird but the thought of a vodka and orange just bores me to tears. I love a cocktail (maybe that's why my hangovers are so bad?!) so was pleased to hear that Alpha did a few simple but effective cocktails, and most famously the Fireball in a little plastic bucket for £5!

Third on my list tends to be the actual venue its self and how the club night operates. I'm talking about theme nights and competitions, the sort of incentives that are not totally necessary but still fun and makes a club stand out from the others. Alpha have done a load of theme nights including Adventure Time, Pirates (where they built the stage into a pirate ship) and wrestling to name a few. The night we were going was day of the dead, black lights and UV paints by the face painters turning everyone into glowing sugar skulls. I'm a big fan of set dressing because of my job, so it was fun to hear that the guys like going all out on the decor and really making the most of fun themes!


Amy and I left the guys feeling pretty excited for the night ahead, so we went and got some food (I popped Amy's buritto cherry) then started getting ready to go out. We went across the road from the hotel to a bar called Science for pre drinks, Amy had a pink cosmo and I had a red cola cocktail complete with kola cubes on top. Told you I've got a sweet tooth!

And then, the Alpha madness commenced...


Alpha (which means the beginning) was in the main room of the club, and Omega was the second room (which means the end) It was really refreshing for there to be two rooms playing a mix of alternative music, so we could go a wander with our fire buckets and see what each room was playing. The O2 Academy Newcastle is such a big venue, similar to the one in Glasgow and I don't think I got quite used to the massive scale! Because the rock night we normally go to in Glasgow at the Cathouse is just a few small and rather sweaty rooms (you can hear the 25 year old pensioner coming out in me now!) The place was absolutely heaving, and we never waited for more than 5 minutes at the bar which was a bit of a shock too. 

The clocks went back that night so the club shut at half two (which was really half three) and for the first time in ages I was dancing when the lights went up and the last song was played. Wild West by Will Smith FYI! You'll normally catch me hovering about the dance floor at 1.30am thinking is it socially acceptable for me to bail now, as chips and cheese are calling, haha. Amy will back me up here, I think it was the best night out we have both had in a long time. It was a combination of everything I have explained above, plus getting to actually spend time with the guys who run it and realising how much heart and soul they pour into what they do at the weekends, between working 'normal' jobs during the week. I absolutely admire that sort of commitment, and I can't thank Anth, Chris and Ash enough for throwing us into the deep end and showing us what Alpha in Newcastle was all about. Sunday morning me and Amy went for breakfast before our train/flight home, and I spent the whole journey curled up in a ball listening to Jimmy Eat World on repeat on the O2 Academy TV youtube channel. I told you, this girl doesn't do hangovers, but this one was 100% worth it.

Now for a slight twist in the story, as it turns out Alpha have just started in the ABC2 in Glasgow every Friday night! They only opened up about 4 weeks ago which explains why I haven't heard about it yet, but I left Newcastle in such high spirits last weekend knowing that this little taste of Alpha was going to be in my home city every friday night too. So I was reunited with Chris and Anth on friday night when I went to their Alphaween event, dressed as Finn from Adventure time.


Again, friday was SUCH a good night! I feel like my moany 25 year old OAP bitterness has been wiped and I've got a new lease of life for being excited about going out. I hope I make sense and that some of you can relate to me on this one? I will definitely be visiting Alpha again now that it's in Glasgow every friday, and to be honest would be happy taking a girls weekend down to Newcastle again because it's actually a lot closer than I thought. For that reason I'm also going to keep an eye out for gigs there too if Glasgow ever sells out. O2 customers can get access to gig tickets up to 48 hours before general release by texting 'Priority' to 2020. Unfortunately this doesn't apply to the club night, but if you're in Newcastle and love a bit of pop punk and rock then I would definitely reccommend trying out Alpha. Glasgow readers, if you'd lost faith in our city then fear not. Alpha is in town and I have a funny feeling this is only the start of something awesome with the potential to be HUGE. I see a great excuse here for a bloggers Christmas night out! Drop me a wee line on twitter if you are interested (@hellorogue)