Monday, 27 December 2010

Ask the Gift Genies

So this is late by a few weeks (I've been busy) and some of you reading this will probably hate me for posting this just after Christmas but I have discovered a brilliant app: Ask the Gift Genies.  The brains behind the operation are the lovely people at peoplelovepresents.com, who ask you a few simple questions about the person you're buying for and then trot off across cyberspace to find you the perfect present within your budget.

Yes, actual people do it, which means that the request I put in for my mother on Christmas Eve hasn't yet been fulfilled (everyone needs a break right?!) but before Christmas responses were speedy.  I have only tried this for a few people and I haven't actually purchased any of their recommendations.  Name, age, relationship and brief info isn't really enough for them to know a person completely (and present buying should include your own thoughtfulness) but they can definitely inspire you.  Of course the more you give them to work with the better.  i.e. "she is a girl and likes pretty things" is never going to be as good as "she loves blue candles". Yes my examples are appalling but you get the gist...put in something more structured and you get a better result.

Here's the best bit though: It's entirely free.  Watch this little video by Lady Geek TV to give you a better idea and then head to the App Store pronto.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Mien Clothing

I love to stumble across new and unique brands...and it's even better when someone I know has started it.  Sarah Morton started Mien with her boyfriend Tom during the summer as a mini project.  Tom's graphic design makes for some quirky illustrations, whilst Sarah creates bold prints and photography orientated t-shirts.

Sarah's Godzilla and Tree Designs

Tom's Peekaboo and Zulu Designs


Each of their t-shirts is screen printed by hand and would make fantastic gifts.  They are currently hoping to rebrand so all Mien branded t-shirts are on sale from as little as £5...hand designed and hand printed for a fiver is a bargain I think, especially when you won't be seeing anyone else walking down the street wearing one. They're in the process of creating a website but currently sell via Facebook and sporadically eBay.  Simply email them on mienclothing@hotmail.com to say hello or to order.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Troy Davis: Making the Invisible Visible

"Troy Davis has spent 19 years on death row in the USA despite doubts about his conviction. German street art collective Mentalgassi have teamed up with Amnesty International to highlight his case by creating unique lenticular fence posters across London."  The three posters are located at 4-7 Great Pulteney St, 21 Great Pulteney Street, and 5 Berners St (all W1).

This clever use of lenticular design creates a great illusion that could be adapted to many different situations.  The fact it highlights such a serious issue only adds depth to the project as the last time I saw lenticular used was on Thunderbird stamps, which are solely novelty with no real meaning behind them.  It is a great apparition, using the lenticular concept in a creative way that is sure to grab attention.



Troy Davis: Making the invisible visible from Amnesty International on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Fun Theory

Volkswagon have created a concept called The Fun Theory "dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."

They even ran a competition for people to suggest ways that normal, every day things and the issues related to them could be made more fun, i.e. speeding = speed camera lottery, fitness = piano stairs, litter = world's deepest bin and recycling = arcade bottle bank.

The winner of The Fun Theory Award 2009/10 was Kevin Richardson from the US with the speed camera lottery.  "Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do?   The idea here is capture on camera the people who keep to the speed limit.  They would have their photos taken and registration numbers recorded and entered into a lottery.  Winners would receive cash prizes and be notified by post. Better still, the winning pot would come from the people who were caught speeding."



However, my favourite was the bottle bank arcade, which made a game out of recycling bottles.  What I find great about this is not only did it make people intrigued, it would also keep them coming back and interacting.  It also makes them smile...it makes me smile just watching it and who doesn't want to be happy?



It's not just about making things fun it's making people want to interact with and consider their world more.  If design can make things more fun and therefore make the world and people happier then why isn't everything thought of like this?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Adele: Rolling in the Deep

It's coming up to Christmas and anyone who's been to uni knows what that means... A mass of deadlines, mad rush to get everything done and, of course, a mountain of Christmas shopping.  Needless to say I have been quiet on the blog front.  However, whilst I regain my thoughts here is a song that's keeping me going at the moment.  It's a beaut.  Adele is wonderful.  Enjoy.


Adele - Rolling In The Deep - In Studio from DUKOFF on Vimeo.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Ralph Lauren 4D

This week Ralph Lauren created some fabulous 4D shows staged at their flagship stores in Madison Avenue, New York, and Bond Street, London. "In celebration of 10 years of digital innovation, RalphLauren.com presents the ultimate fusion of art, fashion & technology in a visual feast for the 5 senses.  Utilising to technology Ralph Lauren make the buildings disappear before transforming them "into a series of objects and images rendered in 3-dimensional space."


Ralph Lauren 4D New York


Ralph Lauren 4D London

For me it's great to see the behind the scenes video (below), where those working on the project discuss the innovation behind Ralph Lauren and this live experience they're providing for people to enjoy.  As said on that video it "becomes a piece of advertising within an arts installation."  It's fantastic to watch and blows what other brands have done out of the water.  I really wish I was there.  Not only have Ralph Lauren put on a fabulous show but just about everyone is talking about it.  A genius digital event and viral marketing at its best.

 

The Official Ralph Lauren 4D Experience: Behind the Scenes

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Graze

I am not very healthy. Right now I have fish fingers in the oven for the sole purpose of becoming a sandwich with ketchup. I was swayed by Graze solely because of their nibble box, which allows you to have yummy flapjack and chocolate buttons as well as fruit, nuts and seeds. I was sold when I was given a code by a fellow blogger to receive the first box free...and so today my first box dropped through the doorstep.

A complete surprise every time you choose your likes, dislikes, loves and things you'd like to try and Graze choose 4 items for you that match these as well as working well together nutritionally. It's all about balance after all. It all looks yummy and I can't wait to try it.


If nothing else as a promotion student I have to give them top marks for not only getting me to order one but to also get excited about healthier snacks. Everything is conveniently packaged in recyclable packaging which has been mostly made from recycled plastic and cardboard.  The branding is consistent and the little personalised welcome card and top tips leaflets are a sweet addition to your first box.

I have surprised even myself by wanting to try the Black Forest selection first, which contains raisins, strawberries and walnuts and is the only punnet I have received that has one of my 5 a day. I probably should have liked more of the healthy options but oh well.  Clearly chilli slipped through my radar when I was choosing my dislikes because the Great Fire Dragon punnet, roasted maize, jumbo chilli maize and satay broad beans, will be given away sadly.

All good fun and a great brand concept. You can use the code H1L3JBX3 to get your free box. You can cancel straight after the free one if you want :o) and who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised just like me, then you too can "feed your friends" and spread the word.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Snuggle Up

I don't know about where you are but is officially freezing in England.  Both in the West Midlands (where my home town is) and the North West (where I am at uni). Halloween has gone, Bonfire night has gone and now the long stretch is ahead of us.  There's even talk of snow.

I cannot stand the cold.  I especially can't stand the cold when I'm in bed.  I'm not one to lounge around in lace and satin.  I'm more a cotton t-shirt kind of girl, usually with some retro cartoon or generally silly print splashed across the front.  I like to mix and match as well, switching shorts for trousers etc dependent on how effective the central heating is being.  Here is my favourite pyjamas this winter.

 Talk Nerdy Set (New Look £12), Honey Monster Oversized Tee (Topshop £18), Reindeer Socks (Topshop £5), Fairisle Slippers (Accessorize £20), Afraid of the Dark Set (David and Goliath $52)

Mystery Jets Digbeth

I had a horrendous day on Friday. I travelled home in the rubbish weather only to have arguments, annoyingly slow waitresses and a broken umbrella to make me mad before I even got to my location: the Mystery Jets gig in Digbeth, Birmingham.

I expected to arrive at the HMV Institute, which opened in September, with enough time to embrace the support acts and get a little tipsy. That didn't happen sadly and I struggled to get into the mood...until they started playing.  They were amazing. The HMV Institute was a great, intimate venue and everyone was dancing and singing along (which was rather annoying when they were louder than the actual band).

I was amazed to find though that all my favourite Mystery Jets songs weren't actually sung by frontman Blaine Harrison, they were sung by William Rees and he made the night for me with Show Me the Light and my personal favourite After Dark.  Strange considering technically it's actually a song by The Count and Sinden featuring the Mystery Jets. Either way it's amazing and anyone that can get me wanting to go out and dance until the sun comes up when I've been in a foul mood all day is a hero to me.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kate McGill: YouTube katem3

Kate McGill is a perfect example of how open source channels can spread you and your message far and wide.  She's on YouTube, MySpace and a variety of other social networks.  She started off by sitting in her bathtub filming herself performing covers of songs.  By doing this she comes up in your search for that well known artist.  For instance, my friend searched for Mumford & Sons on YouTube and up came Kate.  What did he do then?  He told me I had to listen because "not only is she beautiful but she is talent too" and he was right.

She has such a beautiful voice.  There is this quality on her YouTube videos that manage to make every song sad and heartbreaking.  Her management are currently running a poll and for every city that 100+ people say they'd like to see her she will tour there in January/February...and guess what?  She has over 100 people for every location already. That's the power of the Internet.

< Insert video here >

...She won't let me embed them.  How awful.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Ethics of Technology

Having started my MA I have been taught the importance of mind maps.  "Mind maps" dears not spider diagrams (but as far as I can see a mind map is what I thought a spider diagram was).  I was told to create one on Concept Draw to see what avenues I should be looking at for research.  The result...I should be researching EVERYTHING!

What interested me most is the fact that in addition to all the usual trend, marketing and consumer malarkey I should also be considering ethics.  Not just any old ethics but how ethical technology is.  This wonderful concept has opened up a world of information to us but do you know the problem with it?  There's too much information.  It's actually scrambling the brains of the youth, with the younger generation (including me) being bombarded with so much we are now the most anxious younger generation there has ever been (or at least that is the gist I got from a recent Viewpoint article).

Technology is, in essence, taking over the world and scientists are making what we see in Science Fiction reality.  The only problem with this?  It's damn scary.  I've seen the Matrix and iRobot, technology isn't good in those films it's downright evil.  I found a whole book based (entitled Technophobia!) focusing on this issue and posthuman society.  So, as you can see, I was beginning to panic slightly.

Well....I panicked massively actually.  That is until I watched a video on Ted Talks called Ze Frank's web playroom.  For once, something was showing me that technology can reach out to people, connect them and make them happy.  So what if we're finding happiness through virtual worlds and virtual connections?  Especially when the people on the other end are real.  Surely if we're happy surely that's all that matters?



There is a lot about this world that needs fixing...and I mean A LOT...but if we start with the positives of technology and work out a way of finding our way through the mass of information that the Internet provides us with maybe, just maybe, we can use it to improve our world and work with us.  That has to be a better concept than it ruling us right?  After all, in a posthuman society we aren't here and that's just no good at all.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Influencers


INFLUENCERS TRAILER from R+I creative on Vimeo.

"INFLUENCERS is a short documentary that explores what it means to be an influencer and how trends & creativity become contagious today in music and fashion.

Directed by Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson, the film is a Polaroid snapshot of New York influential creatives (advertising, design, fashion and entertainment) who are shaping today's pop culture." (The Cool Hunter)

There are indeed certain people that can tap into weak signals...singularly it's only one thing happening but when you see these signals all over the world it's a clear trend.  I can't wait to see this documentary as I still find it massively interesting to see how and why things become the way the do.  Taking NYC as their example is all well and good but we live in a global society, I would love to see this extend to look at the most influential "influencers" throughout the world.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Being a Dickhead's Cool

When your tutor shows this video in a lecture you have to smile.  Especially when she not only finds it funny but sees the potential for this style of video to be used in promotion/to express trend within fashion and society...



...It's a common look, or lifestyle even, in the UK and has been for the past few years.  In my class every one of the English students found this funny, even if they were like this/their friends were...the international students not so much.  In fact, none of the students from India found it funny/got it/appreciated the turn of phrase.  I wonder if my readers in America relate to this?  I doubt geek glasses, loafers and warehouse raves are just an English thing.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Umbro Sports Technology

So...I am officially a student once more and diving into a project with Umbro.  I am going to investigate many different things from trend and design inspiration to market research and the use of digital media within business.  For my first task I need your help...

I am going to investigate the use of technology and design within other sports and see why/how the professionals within them are picking certain brands/materials/fit/colour and how it enhances their ability.  The concept being that all sports are linked more than we realise and that brands focusing on a particular sport can learn from one another.

I think it's a really interesting starting point and so I am on the lookout to speak to competitive/professional players that know their sport and how to enhance themselves inside out.  Know anyone?  Jockey/snooker player/F1 driver?  The more obscure the better really.  Come on now, share and share alike.  Only you aren't sharing with them...you're sharing with me.  I'll keep your secrets if you want me to!  After all, I am only a lowly student not an Umbro employee.  Who knows maybe your help will allow England to finally get somewhere at the next world cup without showing us up!



Off to Umbro HQ in Manchester city centre on Friday morning.  What's the likelihood I'll make a fool of myself?  After all I know NOTHING about football.  (Proper football American readers...not your twisted version of rugby :p )  I'm really excited to work with them, there's so much more to them than football that people don't even realise and the employees I've met so far have been amazing and so knowledgeable.  Check out their blog to see what they've been up to.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Business of Trend

I have started an MA in Fashion and Lifestyle Promotion.  Today we had a little introductory session where we all spoke about ourselves.  Name, age, how we got to be on the course, what was the best thing that we encountered on the way, likes/dislikes, who we admire etc.

During this the head of Fashion Design at the university discussed how she loved her job, she loved trend, it didn't feel like work...but that trend itself is like a product.  A product that she doesn't particularly like because if everyone of us brought into it we'd all look the same.  However, what it comes down to is that whether you're a designer or a promoter you are trying to influence people to buy into the trends that you have acknowledged.

Trend is a funny thing.  Designers can get inspiration from anywhere...history, culture, or a cupcake they see in a bakery or trend forecasters.  Trend forecasters scour the land (the whole world!) looking at 'cool' things: a street, a shop, an artist, a subculture that has its own trend within society.  Then they sit back and plan what will happen next.  In the next 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 100 years.  I love it.  And hate it.

Trend is like marmite.  I sit here in my tapered trousers (the shape of the season don't you know!) and I wonder why I chose these.  I didn't acknowledge they were in trend...I hadn't gazed at them in magazines, I hadn't spotted them on catwalks.  I hadn't planned to purchase that particular style, I'd just gone into the shop and there they were but then subconsciously I might have planned to purchase them.  After all, the designers for that shop had planned it.  They'd researched, developed, seen them on celebrities and cool people at catwalk shows and filtered trend down for the high street where it has been successfully sold to me.

The business of trend is frustrating.  Frustating and wonderful.  It's rather amusing to think how it all comes about.  Especially now, in the last throws of fashion week season with Paris Fashion Week in full swing.  I wonder what makes people plan certain items to purchase and what makes others, like me, do it off the cuff with subconscious considerations.  After all, Oscar Wilde said "fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months" yet so many people have been dying for autumn to arrive so they can grab their shearling coats, boots, everything...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Hot Hot Heat: Goodnight Goodnight

I have been rather bad at posting anything lately... and when I have it's been rubbish.  However, today I became reacquainted with a song I used to love.  It has really no relationt to my life, or indeed anything, but it reminds me of being 17.

I forgot Hot Hot Heat exhausted until iTunes did some shuffling and finally produced me with something different.  Warner Brothers Records are mean and won't let you embed their YouTube videos so this is a random one...but check out the official video later.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cannabis Over Breakfast

I don't know why I've started appreciating the amusement in little things that happen at home...maybe it's because I might be leaving...but over breakfast lately I seem to laugh a lot.  I don't know why as there are very few things that can make me smile in the morning.

As I was making coffee I noticed that there was a bag of green stuff in a plastic food bag.  Surely not...no it must be...nah not cannabis.  Not in my house.  Then I notice it's sat on top of a tub of flour.  Oh God, someone is going to make cannabis cakes.  My dad.  My dad cannot be doing weed in our house.

Turns out I wasn't the only one to consider it.  My friend arrived for breakfast (she was early for work and decided to pop in) and my dad joined us.  Only for them both to stare at the "cannabis" oddly and us to have to work out what it actually is.  It was basil.  My sister had decided to make a pizza at school using dried basil from a tub.  (I said no and gave her fresh basil leaves.)

What I found most amusing about this though was that not only did three grown adults decide that cannabis was a more likely thing than herbs to find in my kitchen but that my dad then went into a detailed description of his cannabis consumption.  Then my friend joined in, not thinking that it was odd breakfast conversation to be having with your friends father over Weetabix and a rather strong cup of Carte Noir instant. 

Yes he'd tried it, no it wasn't always successful, skunk in fact sent him paranoid and gave him hallucinations.  One of which involved hitting his ex-girlfriend over the head repeatedly with a spade.  "One of those big flat ones like they have in America for the snow and stuff."  I pictured the old guy brandishing his shovel in Home Alone automatically.  This kind of violence must have stuck in my mind because in a recent dream I started banging a girls head repeatedly off hard surfaces (floors, walls etc).  This is not healthy.  Clearly people should be talking to me about happy, fluffy kittens and things.  And not ones that have been shoved in a bin.

On an additional note my sister made the pizza.  The dough base was actually made from a scone recipe because according to her teacher "pizza dough takes too long".  The resulting cake pizza provided only added amusement to the entire situation.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pop-up Cardboard Cinema

The Cool Hunter have done it again...they've provided me with an article that shows a simple yet quirky idea that made me grin from ear to ear.  Whilst people ramble on about being eco-friendly and are often ignored some concepts can't fail to make you reconsider if you're anti-eco.

This cardboard furniture can be assembled wherever, whenever then reuse or recycle.  Feasible in reality?  I like to think it could be.  It's been used in museums and exhibition spaces so why not?!

Image from The Cool Hunter

Monday, 6 September 2010

Empty-headed Critisim

Yesterday, after having a very bad morning, some lovely fellow decided to tell me that this "site" is full of "empty-headed b******s" and that the site name is very apt.  So not only criticism me but my readers as well.  I have had other comments that disagree with my opinions and calling me names for them but never have these people given their name.  Whilst people have always put their names when saying anything nice "Anonymous" is clearly the alias for when people want to be nasty.  It amuses me that this comment came on the article Guardian Soulmates and Short Men (I have now deleted it) as I can only assume he is an online dater that has been shunned by some women for being short.  I was merely stating a strange fact of nature, not saying that you will never find love.

You know what my Granny always says: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything nice at all."  My dad on the other hand just says: "Karma is a bitch so you don't need to be." Everyone likes a rant but blogs  are to allow anyone to put across their opinion.  If you disagree then put that across in an amiable way or keep your mouth shut and stop reading!  This isn't just me suffering though, it's wonderful bloggers like Liberty London Girl.  She calls these horrible people blog trolls.

Image from home.comcast.net

This blog is called First Class Ramblings.  Yes, the name is apt, because I will ramble about whatever holds my interest at the time.  It is not "empty-headed", I'm awell educated, but we don't all have to be pompous and self-righteous all the time now do we.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Lissie

If you live in the UK you'll know that Lissie's debut album Catching A Tiger is being advertised constantly.  So much so that snippets of her songs have embedded themselves in my brain and like I sheep I've gone and listened to her album.  Listened but not yet brought, sorry Lissie.

She does have a wonderfully sweet voice.  She reminds me of a more country version of Ellie Goulding.  They have similar traits to their voices I think.  Do you agree?  Turns out she's actually teamed up with Ellie in Brighton and did a wonderful duet of Lissie's Everywhere I Go.


I'm sure lots of you will be aware of her but if not here's the song that go stuck in my head and most likely will stick in yours.  Then you too will go and listen to it again and again if only in an attempt to get it out!  Check it out on Lissie's myspace if you're not a fan of live versions... It is good quality though, promise! :o)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Inbetweeners

The Inbetweeners is back.  Well it will be soon, the advert is on E4 and everything :o)

For you American's reading this The Inbetweeners is an epic comedy focusing on students in Sixth Form (for students aged 16-18, either at a school or a college) that spectacularly encapsulated what it it is like.  Not only is it realistic but it is also very funny.  I'm not sure you'll get it...I only attended a school in America for like three weeks and it was not like this...but please try and find it on the internet.  That is if you enjoy English humour, The Office anyone?  It has a massive cult following over.

I find The Inbetweeners hilarious.  School is nothing like The OC/One Tree Hill/Laguna Beach or any of that American stuff.  It's painful, full of bullying, all about sex and when you hit Sixth Form an awful lot of fun.  Just like The Inbetweeners.  I really hope their last year is like mine...full of 18th parties with bad music, lots of dancing and lots of gossiping about the parties the week after.  Let's be honest though, they probably wouldn't get invited.

One of my friends likes to think he's like Jay, the one who pretends to have lots of girls, but I personally think he's more like Simon, the one that pines after Carly.   Don't know but there's something there that just reminds me of him.  He'll hate this.  I probably shouldn't post it on the internet...

That's about all really, I'm just excited.  Anyone else a fan?  It starts in September if you are! :o)  Here's a snippet to get you as excited as me...

Trend Repeat

Everyone is blabbering on about Autumn/Winter 2010/11 fashion.  What's more, during this blabbering they are completely disregarding summer (I know it's optimistic but it's August so I'm hoping for more sun) and wishing it away so they can wear long boots, wool coats, shearling etc.  Yes, it looks good, but you know what?  It's been done.

Victoriana, womanly cuts, A-line, fur...  I love fashion but I sure wish people wouldn't go on and on about things being all exciting and wonderful when in fact they are rather similar to last year.  Sorry, I sound bitter, I'm not.  In fact, I love fashion, but is anyone else getting deja vu?

Beauty's going all copycat on us too.  Time to drag out that red lipstick again!  Vogue's rundown of how to wear the look worries me.  " Draw on a deep Cupid's bow.  Take the colour slightly beyond your natural lip line."  Beyond your natural and drawn on reminds me of a clown or a five year old playing dress up.  I'm very blonde, very pale and have teeny rosebud lips... Anyone that knows something about beauty care to offer me some advice on how this is supposed to work?


Dolce and Gabanna Image from Vogue

Friday, 20 August 2010

Guardian Soulmates and Short Men

I have read many of Caleb's tales of dating sites and laughed out loud.  However, this week humorous online dating escapades came up in the office.  At Fused Magazine one of the lovely girls that works there decided to log onto Guardian Soulmates and regale us with the stories of freaks that have contacted her.

She apparently chose Guardian Soulmates because the people on there aren't as stupid and they're often quite creative...perfect for her then.  She put in her requests, the main one being they have to be over 6ft tall, and has since had a multitude of very random responses.  One being a telling off because she only wanted someone over 6ft tall when she herself is only 5ft 4.  The man doing the telling off was 5ft 8 or something so didn't see why she needed someone taller than that.  I fear though that his height may have been an issue for him otherwise he wouldn't have been so touchy about it.  I predict he was really about 5ft 6, max, and fed of being ruled out by women.

Women like someone taller than them.  What's more, they want someone that is taller than them in 6 inch platform heels.  They may never wear 6 inch platform heels but they want the option.  That's not too much to expect.  I'm lucky, boy is definitely over 6ft.  He was 6ft when I met him but, spectacularly, I think he's still growing.  It's just one of those things for women.  Yes we have been known to fall in love with short men but it is rarely the preference.

Really though, the point is that you should not shout at someone you don't know on a dating site because they want someone taller than you.  This isn't right.  What also isn't right is signing up when you're married to find someone to swing with.  No, no, no.  Oh, and you probably shouldn't tell someone: "I would like to meet with you for coffee and chat.  We can have intellegent chat and smiles whilst we gaze into each others eyes."  Pass the sick bucket...

I wonder how people use Guardian Soulmates (other dating sites are available) in a realistic setting.  There seem to be a lot of idiots on them, even on the posh ones meant for smart and creative people.  So how does it work realistically?  Do you plow through hundreds of weirdos and then finally just settle for someone half normal?  Or should I just be signing up now just to have a good laugh when I'm feeling down and ignoring them when I'm a lonely old cat lady? After all, at Fused we came up with many tales of swingers, short men, perverts, S&M hotels and many many more things...all prompted by Guardian Soulmates.  So, thanks Guardian for providing some laughs.

Forever 21 comes to the UK

Obviously I read other peoples blogs...and lots of them feature Forever 21.  The outfits they posted looked good and were priced cheaply, so I was jealous we didn't have them here in the UK.  I could have ordered online but it's just not the same so Forever 21 was shunned on my bookmarks until such a time that England was deemed worthy.  We took Topshop to America after all, it's only fair to share!

Now that time has come, hurrah!  Forever 21 have taken over a shop in Birmingham's Bull Ring, directly opposite H&M.  It was announced months ago but now the signs are up and everything.  My first thought was that it will be probably be like H&M...very good in the press, very shit in real life.  I mean, nothing H&M has featured in magazines is ever available in the stores.  Plus, they inevitably end up looking like a jumble sale.  Needless to say my brief excitement was replaced by nervous curiosity.  Any American readers want to tell me what we can expect from Forever 21 here in Birmingham?


 Images of Forever 21 Interiors from Blood Sweat and Fashion

Friday, 13 August 2010

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

It's 3 in the morning and that's all I can hear. Pretty sure it's the boys phone or something.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I realise it's my laptop. It didn't shut down properly and now the battery has died because it is crap.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Boy: "Something's beeping."
Me: "Yes. I think it's my laptop."
Boy looks at me.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

ARGH!

I get up. Attempt to turn it off. It's not having it. I take the battery out. Piece of shit battery doesn't last 5 minutes (literally) when the laptop is on but on standby it lasts 10 HOURS!! What kind of evil genius created Toshiba laptops and allowed this to happen to me at 3am? No wonder I'm tired.  Bloody good job I only just found out where the hammer and other tools are kept.

Cake Britain

So...there's an amazing exhibition coming up in Covent Garden.  Art and cake...2 of my favourite things.  I've wrote an article about it for Fused so no point really re-writing about it here.  Think Heston Blumenthal's fairytale feast and the Skoda advert but you can eat the end result.  Amazing.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Nostalgia

No need to tell me I'm not old, after all I'm only 22, but I'm beginning to feel old.  Not because of the reasons I listed in 22, 22 years ago, though these reasons are all still valid, but because things that have happened recently seem like lightyears ago.

Tomorrow Caleb, my little brother, is coming round to collect his birthday present before he goes on holiday.  He'll turn four in a few weeks whilst he's at the seaside.  Four years ago I was betting with the boy's mother and her friends, whilst at the seaside, how many hours my mother would be in labour and how heavy he would be.  That feels like another lifetime.  Understandable as it was four years ago and I was a different person then.  I was wondering if I would stay with the boy through university (we broke up days later), how well I'd do (I'd get a first) and would I make friends (yes...and I lost some of them rather quickly after leaving too).

What I don't understand is that as I listened to Stereophonics on the way to work this morning their gig in Cardiff, which was a mere few months ago, also seems like years ago.  Personally I think I'm going crazy.  I'm hearing things, I'm seeing things and these things aren't there.  It's quite possible I am becoming an old person...in mind terms.  This is bad.  How do you stop premature nostalgia?

Here's the opener from the gig: Trouble.  Please let me marry a man like Kelly Jones.  Only taller please.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Couple Dressing

I don't know if this is a common thing but the other day at the pub I couldn't help but declare I was worried because whenever I see the boy we're dressed the same.  Whether it's colours/material/pattern it has happened every time I've seen him for the last few weeks...we don't plan it.  In fact we mostly get dressed at different times/in different places completely unaware until we're both dressed.

I remarked on this unusual occurance the first few times and he laughed and brushed it off....until I went to stay with him in Leeds and his flatmate went "awww how sweet, you match."  We looked at each other and that was it then, I could see it had settled in with him and he wasn't too happy about it.  That evening when we both walked into the living room in red shoes, and red shoes aren't common, he went "we've done it again."  We went out for food, returned to his flat to meet friends before going out and he actually got changed.  It amused me that he was concerned about couple imitation.

Turns out this isn't an odd thing.  When I brought it up amongst friends apparently it's happened to them too and it's always uncomfortable.  Has this happened to you?  Is this a universal thing?  You see, I found it quite comforting, I liked the idea that we had some form of psychic connection/inherent ability to coordinate with each other in the most basic of ways...maybe that makes me strange.  Should I be forcing the boy into his room to change rather than just laughing about it?

Celebrities are mocked/praised because of it, fashion magazines ask whether this 'Couple Dressing' is trendy and photographers point out the irony of two people 'fitting' style wise... I found an entire collection in Reclarkgable's Behance portfolio called Couples.  The images were so apt and so good, what with each photograph using the same models and the same poses just with some fabulous styling.  Here are a selection that make my point perfectly.





Sunday, 8 August 2010

Clear Out

I had a MASSIVE clearout today.  (Well actually it's still in progress as my floor looks like a bomb full of handbags has gone off!)  In the process I discovered an old phone and fully intended to bin it as I don't even have the charger and the battery was dead.  Instead my dad decided to wiggle some wires in it and hey presto, it's on.  Then I spent two hours saving any data I could find....

...I found A LOT of photographs from about 5 years ago.  And so they all went on Facebook.  Much to the amusement/disgust of my friends.  All were from the days we were in sixth form and brought back floods of memories.  It's surprising what a little photograph can remind you of.  A lot were of my baby sister, now nearly six, looking absolutely adorable.  I got all nostalgic...not broody thank the lord.

I also discovered lots of diary videos my friend and I had put together discussing our latest woes/excitements/plans in love and friendship.  HILARIOUS.  I really hope nobody ever sees them but I have foolishly kept them for her to peruse as I'm sure it will put many things in perspective.  Like the fact we had it so easy back then.

So....the moral of this story:
  • Have a clear out.
  • Save what you can.
  • Take the time to relive those old memories.
  • Dispose of anything you are shockingly embarrased about.
That's all folks!  Let me know if you find anything interesting!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Catch up on your reading...

I'm dotted throughtout this months Area Guide and on their website too.  Sometimes my initials are at the end sometimes not...don't ask me why.  The important thing is that whether or not LB is tagged on the end people will be reading things that I have written.  It makes me all smiley and excited...and certain that I made the right choice doing an internship with Fused Magazine.  Working for a smaller company certainly pays off.  I've been writing actual articles rather than just cleaning the supply closet.










My articles are:
Inbindable Volume (page 4) - the first article in the mag :o)
Behind the Mask (page 12)
Six Summer Saturdays (page 14)
Shambala Festival (page 22)
Graduate Birmingham: Lorna Hirst (page 33)
Give it Some...Sourz (page 39)


I also compiled the big long list of What's on for Septmeber at the end. See...I've been working hard :o)  I do not expect you to read them all. I'm just showing off as it's so exciting to see my work as it will look in print, in something that people will actually read...with LB at the end makes it even better!

I also wrote Claire's Twi-Hard Beauty Looks on Fused Magazine too...as well as having some of the Area articles published on there.  What am I doing now? Compiling the fashion pages for Fused's magazine September issue.  Birmingham is going to have some very stylish students.  Oh...and organising work with Style Birmingham to help at their Style Birmingham Live event hosted by George Lamb.  Busy busy...should probably stop blogging.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Life Plan

I am cynical and having some kind of quarter-life breakdown and therefore I don't have a plan.  In fact, I dont see me having children or a job.  Especially children, as today I spent a day with my mother, who is a childminder, and listened to a baby scream at an ear piercing level every time my mom was out of sight...even if the baby had caused that by bum shuffling across the floor.

What I see is a magical glass house that changes colour and texture with the flick of a button and a really hot husband.  In fact...to be honest I don't see one husband, I see different ones at different times, I just presume we'll be married because at some point I would like a wedding.

Why would I like a wedding? I want the excuse for a massive party, I want gifts and I want a pretty dress.  Primarily I want a pretty dress.  A pretty expensive dress.  Vera Wang, I have you pencilled in for this magical day that happens in a time not yet determined.  In fact, it may be so magical it's timeless and you can nip in and out of it at will.

Vera Wang Dovima and Wedding Dresses
Images as shown on Vera Wang
 
So, yeah..I live in fantasy.

A gorgeous friend of mine has 'The Life Plan' and revealed it to me and my little group over drinks on Monday and I almost spat my drink all over her.  She wants kids within four years, which means she needs to be married in two, which means she has to be engaged NOW to allow planning time.  This isn't a rare thing, in fact women have been known to plan wedding dates without even a boyfriend in sight as you can read here.  My problem with this?  She's 22.

Her: "I told him that we'll be having kids soon so he needs to get onto proposing but he's just sat on his arse not doing anything about his life."
Me: "Hold on a sec, you told him you're having kids soon?  If I told my boyfriend that he would say he's nipping out to pick up some milk and then boom.  I'd never see him again."

I mean this wholeheartedly.  In fact, please note technically we don't even have a label.  Let alone a life plan.  I can tell you this though, our Grand Designs style house would be epic.  And there would be no babies in it.  Babies and glass don't mix.  Think of the paw prints he'd have to wipe up... I would not be doing it.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Calum Harvey: Not Just A Label

Calum Harvery is a good bloke.  Not only does he regale me with amusing stories, delays getting back to his studies to ensure that I get back to the Midlands when the Tube decides to be rubbish but he also gets drunk with me at inappropriate moments.  These moments are very sporadic, we don't see each other anywhere near as much as I'd like, but if someone will sit outside a bar wearing an oversized jumper, rescued in a recycling mission, that has a black bin bag fused to the front all in the name of experimentation then you know they're special.

And he is.  So special Not Just a Label have featured him on their front page.  He moves randomly around the page but he's there.  Check it out because his clothes are pretty good too.  He's another Graduate Fashion Week 2009 winner, nabbing himself the Textiles Award.  Awwww.  Shame people have now taken our crowns.  Read the amusing tale from our Graduate Fashion Week Winners Reception for more tales of Calum.


And Calum if you read this yes I am rubbish at keeping in touch even when I start the communication.  I am messaging you back in just a moment.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

First Day at Fused

I had my first day at Fused yesterday...and it went alright I think.  Thank God.  I compiled for articles for Area, their local West Mids guide, which goes to print Friday, and wrote about a fundraising music photography auction for the website: Teenage Cancer Trust Six Shooters Auction.


I'm not going to say it's my best work, I've wrote more unique things, but it is very nice to see my name published with an actual article somewhere that is not here...and it's in the most popular articles section currently too after only going online last night.  Yay!  Check it out.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Not quite Twi-hard

Something terrible happened.  After moaning about the fact the Twilight films seemed to be lacking something my wonderful aunt forced the books into my hands: "You'll like them, I promise."  I didn't believe her and so they have sat in a bag in the room for months.  Literally.  Until now.

This week has been relaxation week.  After breaking up from work for the summer I've taken a week to unwind before starting my work placement at Fused Magazine.  Apparently I can't just do nothing and so my fingers itched their way to that bag and I began to read.  And there I found it...what's missing from the Twilight films: Bella's personality.

In the books she is quirky, cool, pretty, funny, clumsy, sarcastic and generally has bags of personality.  The Bella Swan that people know  and love (though I don't know why) from the films has none of this.  Ok, so Kristen Stewart is pretty, but as Bella she lacks that personality.  In fact, I don't think she cracks a smile at any point in the film.  I re-watched it last night fearing I was being harsh but still saw no smile.  Every other character though is spot on.  Well...except for the fact that the supposedly extremely beautiful Dr Cullen and Co. are not all that beautiful.  They're just creepy.  And at no point does their skin (Edward included) ever look like diamonds.

I have now become obsessed with finishing the books.  Stephanie Meyer's writing is fabulous.  I have devoured both Twilight and New Moon in record time, have started on Eclipse and brought Breaking Dawn today.  It cost me £15 as it is only currently available in hardback...and now I've just seen it half price online (follow my link).  I must be stupid.  How did this happen?!  When reading the books you can create your own imaginary world.  Everyone in my world is the same as in the films but Bella...but maybe it's pure jealousy the Kristen Stewart gets all close and personal with not only Robert Pattinson but Taylor Lautner too.  Lucky girl.


No matter my opinion, it looks like Twilight is here to stay.  Sorry to all those boys that just wish their girlfriends/wives/daughters would shut up about it!  Read the books, avoid the films.  Well, try at least, I have a feeling you'll struggle now Eclipse has been released at cinemas.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Best Hunter Wellies

They're the item for festival season...and have been for several years.  A little glimpse of that rectangular label on the front of a pair of wellies and there's no denying which brand they are: Hunter.  In fact, they've only become more of a statement as celebrities snatched them up (everyone from Kate Moss to Sarah Brown has been snapped in a pair) and Jimmy Choo jumped on the band wagon and collaborated with Hunter to create those black snakeskin wellies.  (And just so you're in the know, they now come in other colours too.  Including ultra high shine silver.)

Sarah Brown and Naomi Campbell at Glastonbury.
Brown wears charity Water Aid Hunter's (£49.99) and Campbell, true to form, wears Jimmy Choo's (£255).
Image from The Daily Mail.

For me, there is only one style of Hunter wellies.  They're the classic tall style, perfect for knee deep mud, they're a great colour (a twist on the traditional black) and would look amazing worn with short shorts and a rain mac.  What's more, and this is important, they're affordable.  We aren't all celebrities, we can't all afford £250+ for a Jimmy Choo pair, but these are only £47.99 and they're an absolute style classic.  Bravo Cloggs.


Monday, 5 July 2010

The Big Job Hunt

I have officially finished work for the summer.  Well...I have finished full time work for the summer, I start a work placement at Fused Magazine a week tomorrow and I am massively excited.  I will be writing articles, researching, helping out with their marketing/PR activity and organising their 10th birthday bash.  Awesome!  Sounds a bit full time though doesn't it?  I'm going to become superwoman to get it all done with only two days in the office a week!

Despite this excitement it is time to look for a "proper job" again.  Due to my father's encouragement I have a meeting on Wednesday about "going on the dole".  It will be terrible.  I hate the Job Centre.  However, hopefully they will help my summer cash flow whilst I'm off work and will of course push me to sort a job.

Now, what do I want to do...in no particular order...
1. Be a fantastical magazine editor.
2. Do the marketing for Burberry (they are so on it right now!)
3. Be a fashion buyer extraordinare.
4. Write a novel.
5. Take the world by storm.

Now...any chance of all these things being incorporated into one job?  Anyone reading this who will give me a job?  No, thought not.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

So I'm a Geek...

I like to pretend it isn't true on occassion but I am, most definitely, a geek.  I love gadgets, I love what technology can do and I always get excited when I see something that utilises these aspects in a fashionable, design focused manner.  Hence, yesterday I succumbed and brought the iPhone 4.  Don't judge me.  (And yes, I love it.  And no, it hasn't broken - signal is fine and I have no weird yellow dots...yet!)

Despite this now gadget purchase this weekend I am most excited about an article I read on Style Bubble  "Furthering with Furber".  Whilst I usually try to publish new material rather than material I've read elsewhere I feel this is necessary...  Aesthetically amazing, technically developed and as eco-friendly as a shoe can be...


Icica from Helen Furber on Vimeo.

Helen Furber's Icica project has a quality that is very rare to see within graduate work...and as a recent graduate I have seen my fair share...and I can't wait to see what she does next!  She's not the only one showing potential from her class (check out the magazine Furber put together showcasing work from students on her course at her blog) but she's definitely the most forward thinking.  I envision recycling and swapping, mixing and matching heels with uppers for a truely bespoke way of design.


 Images and video taken from Helen Furber's Vimeo and LCF pages.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Handmade

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Jennifer Behr and pondered on how Topshop could think it was ok to sell me an elastic homemade-looking headband for £14 and decided I could make one just as good.  Whilst some people (Caleb!) thought this was a stupid idea (If you get a home-made headband and wear it out and about, I want to see it!) and doubted how professional I am it's nice to see that handmade items have been given a new lease of life by the internet.

From Etsy to Folksy creatives are putting pen to paper and needle to thread to create some unique pieces just for us...and they're fabulous!  You can get everything from vintage style cupcake toppers to stunning leather creations to adorn the newest gadgets.  Yes, you can even adorn your new iPhone 4/iPad in some wonderful designs and all handmade.  I need some of these in my life soon....

 Alice in Wonderland Cupcake Toppers (£10 for 12) and Journal (£17) by Craftypagan Designs.


  Bird Cuff (£19), Lace Cuff (19), Walkman iPod/iPhone Cover (£20), Flower/Print iPod/iPhone Cover (£26), Cherry Blossom iPad Case ($90), Wood Print iPad Case ($90) available from Beautiful Skin at Folksy or Etsy.

  Neve Hex Bib Necklace ($98.50) and Marianne Trien Bib Necklace ($69.00 - sale item) by Giia 

Monday, 28 June 2010

Family: who'd 'av 'em?

I love my family.  Very much.  I just thought I'd clarify that before telling you that right now I want to kill them.  I don't know whether it's my fault really.  I'm 22, I like my own space, I've moved home after three years of living with friends 90 miles away and my tolerance is low when it comes to annoyance.

After spending a spectaular long weekend in Barmouth, Wales, I returned today literally five minutes before my dad and sister walked in the door.  My sister, who at 11 has turned into a character from Kevin and Perry Go Large (a film she doesn't even know exists because it was before her time) stropped in without a smile, without asking about my weekend, and then proceeded to be everywhere I wanted to be.  My father proceeded to tell me what a crap day he had in no certain terms willing me to ask why it was this way.  I didn't.

Retiring to my room I tried to pretend they weren't there.  They were ruining my post-holiday buzz.  I was followed...my dad in a strop because now the boy is back he won't have a babysitter.  (The boy is back literally just for four nights and then he's off to Europe for a month before returning to Leeds...I mean Christ, cut me some slack.)  Then he shouts at me because I don't want to know what's been happening in my very short absense and strops out telling me to ring my aunty.

I swear, I live with mental people.  This or I'm mental.  According to my doctor I'm too stressed and need to reduce the stress, "is that possible?"  My response: "I live with my dad, what do you think?"...turns out she'd seen my dad just that morning so no wonder she kept her mouth shut and just gave me a knowing look.  According to my cheerful father depression has some genetic elements and so in 20 years I'll be rather like he is now.  Lord help me.  One thing's for sure...I've came back to reality with a right bump when I walked through that door.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

World Cup vs Lemonade with Gran

Today I finished work at 2:30.  Nearly 3 hours before I'm meant to.  Why you ask?  The World Cup of course!  I'm not into football at all (sacrilege I know) but I skipped out with everyone else, strolling through an overly busy village to home as everyone else rushed to get to their rightful location by kick off at 3pm.

Where was I at 3?  I was delivering a plant to my Granny for her birthday and drinking lemonade.  I most certainly was not watching the football.  Now it's all over and after two horrendous draws we've only bloody won one.  England 1 - 0 Slovenia.  Awesome considering we were literally booing our own players just the other day.  More importantly for me it means the boy will be happy, we won and we're still in the World Cup... Well, he'll be happy with the result, he most definitely will  not be happy that he had patients all afternoon (he's just about to start his final year as a dentistry student) and I had the time off and still didn't watch the match.

What matters though is that my Gran loved her plant.

Friday, 18 June 2010

I love Jennifer Behr

I love Jennifer Behr.  I do.  She's wonderful.  Definitely just makes me think of Blair Waldorf though and a wonderful life where a headband is not just a headband, it's a crown...and you know what?  I want a crown.

 Images from the Jennifer Behr Website

Due to a big dance festival work closed early as our bosses headed off the weekend and we got to go shopping.  Well, we got to go shopping after I made some elasticated headbands, painted flowers, cut feathers and added them all to make some fabulous head dresses.  So today I went scouring the high street to find some Jessica Behr knock-offs as she is massively out of my price range.  (Even though the prices are in dollars I still know when a headband is out of my league!)

I failed completely in my search.  Well...that's a lie, there are some nice headbands out there.  Not Jennifer Behr but good, from chic to embellished.  The only problem is as I can actually now make flamboyant head dresses I'm sure I could embellish a simple headband or, indeed, make an elasticated/ribbon based one myself.  Therefore, I couldn't bring myself to part with over 10 well earned pounds for a headband.  The only problem is I'm pretty sure I'll never get round to making one myself.  I'll definitely need to bribe myself to the haberdashery store.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Perfect Telephone Voice

There is a voice for everything.  We all know it.  Whether you're trying to be charming, formal, annoying, deal with children or are on the telephone.  That's always the best.  Everyone loves a good telephone voice.  For me, it isn't just about tone alone.  It is the tone and the accent.  I go all la-di-da.  As does my boss at work, God love her.  Her husband becomes more common and approachable all "mate" this and "mate" that if he's trying to do a deal.  Our manager is quite clipped.  Not in a nasty way, just so nothing is misconstrued...she's all professional, concise and clear.

O2, being such a massive corporation in the UK, have it absolutely nailed.  Before I explain why I will take this opportunity to say this can't always be the case, I've just been lucky.

Sitting there listening to their absolutely awful hold music, which, just as I get into it changes to a woman telling me that I'm on hold.  SHOCK.  I gasp, I hold back tears...who knew?  Oh yeah, you told me before and then put the music on.  Basically I was getting very bored.  Then...and this happened last time as well...a lovely man with an awesome accent comes on the phone.

This time he was Irish.  Last time he was from Newcastle and was all Geordie.  I'm crossing my fingers for a Welsh man next time.  And yes, they were all male...I'm sure SOMEONE who works at O2's call centre is female, I just haven't spoke to them yet.  These men were good.  No harsh accents, no foreign accents (which sadly scream "cheap labour in India") and most definitely no hint of boredom or annoyance at their jobs.  They've been calm, soothing and gave me what I wanted - potentially because I have some charm myself?  Their accents topped them off though.  There's something so approachable about their accents!  It's the boy-next door factor.  Bravo O2!  You have discovered the perfect telephone voice.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Facebook Stalking vs Actual Psychotic Episodes

When we talk about why we use Facebook some girls use it for a very specific reason: Facebook stalking.  They'll admit this.  At work the other day one of the girls said "oh no, I didn't see that. I only really go on to stalk Josh."  I should point out Josh is her boyfriend...who she clearly doesn't trust.  Other Facebook stalking includes those who just hover on the News Feed to pick up on any/all gossip possible and those that trail after friends, ex's, friends of boyfriends etc.

All pretty harmless...or so you think.

Then I find a site called "Psychotic Letters From Men"...a blog that posts exactly what it says on the tin over the course of a year.  It stopped in February but that doesn't prevent it from providing some rather amusing/scary stories.  These "letters" after all, are actually mostly sent over the internet via email/social networking.  Psychotic men tracking women down over the internet that they haven't spoke to in ten years plus in some instances.  They verge from the self-deluded and apologetic to the downright insane and delusional.

Thank God for privacy settings.  I've just upped my considerably!  Check out the site asap in case they decide to shut it down entirely and make sure to click through to older posts are they're better...though lengthy in some cases!

Here's a quote though from PLFM Quickies: Cat Thoughts afer Amy reminded Alan he had no right to enquire about her cat after he once threatened to kill it:

From: Alan
To: Amy

I was nice to you to send you back your stuff. Now you write something like this.


Forget it. Just forget it.

Karma will get you. It starts now.

You are now in my kill file.