Wonderful Week

*Warning* This post will be extremely cheerful. Bordering on smug. Sorry *Warning*

I’ve had a really lovely week this week. I generally have a glass half full attitude anyway but it’s been overflowing with good stuff recently!

First, I discovered that I’ll be writing a few times a week for shoewawa. I started reading it when I was at uni, when my shoe addiction really kicked in, so it’s really exciting for me to be writing for them. Here’s my first piece with them

Secondly, I’ve had some really nice comments on my posts for www.Parentdish.co.uk….and some pretty crazy ones too. It’s great to see a reaction to what you’re writing! You can find my posts for parentdish here. This story in particular had some interesting reactions.

Lastly, I’ve already booked some things for my boyfriend’s birthday, Christmas present and our anniversary, all of which land within 10 days of each other. It’s exciting for me to be able to treat him to something after he’s been so supportive of me getting into writing and being broke for quite a long time.

How has your week been?


Decorating Dreams

Some little girls dream of their wedding day, down to every little detail. I dreamt of my first little house and how I’ll decorate it. Whilst some little girls dream of Wedding dresses and table decorations, I was dreaming about Smeg fridges and amazing wallpaper.

At the moment, the main obsession is with the wallpaper. Pretty wallpaper, flocked in particular. I have this image in my head of having some amazing lounge with a funky red sofa, and one statement wall. I kind of forget in that mental image that the pretty lounge will probably be covered in shopping bags, shoes, and magazines rather than artful coffee table books.

My recent crush on Laura Ashley has strengthened after seeing their range of wallpapers. This one of the top left is £26, and is a gorgeous vintage looking pattern. The perfect basis for some really strong coloured accessories.

This funky Tatton wallpaper is a gorgeous one for the bedroom, perfect behind an antique looking bed. It’s £26.

This Isodore wallpaper makes me feel a little bit dreamy and it’s also £26.

Think I’ve found a great storage solutions too! This gorgeous butterfly shelf is £59 from Rockett St George who do a huge range of wall stickers. Although it’s so pretty I’m not sure I’d have the heart to pile my magazines on it

I know this cocktail lamp on the left won’t go with the wallpapers or butterfly shelf…..but it’s so cute that I had to share with you! It’s £15 from http://www.jijikiki.co.uk

Do you have any obsessions for your dream home? Amazing kitchen? Chilled out lounge?

On a diet….cupcake substitutes needed

I said in my last post that I’ve had a lot of fun putting on weight since meeting my boyfriend. That’s completely true. Currently my diet and exercise regime consists of curries, Nando’s and seeing films and shows that require me to sit on my bum for hours on end. This, coupled with becoming freelance and working from home, has led to enough weight gain to make me eye my skinny jeans with distaste. Which is a bit rubbish.

So I’m back on the weightwatchers wagon and off the takeaway curries and cupcakes. *sobs* It’s been successful in the past but I’m not a fan of the weightwatchers branded cakes and snacks, which are either incredibly small or taste of cardboard. I’ve got a few secret weapons, such as Iced Gems which are only 1.5 points, and Jaffa Cakes are always a dieters best friend.

I miss baking though, and would love to hear any low fat/low point recipes that don’t taste like cardboard. Any suggestions?

Twenty Five Facts

I saw La Chat Noir’s recent post on 25 (and a bit!) facts about her and was inspired to do a little set of facts about me, just in case you were interested 🙂

1) I grew up on a derelict farm where my parents started their chocolate business. I’m medical evidence that you can’t get bored of chocolate.

2) Technically, I’m ginger. I hate it when people say things like “I’d hate to have a ginger baby” around me, then justify it by saying “oh, but you’re not a real ginger person” like that’s less offensive.

3) I lost 2.5 stone 18 months ago…..then put a stone of it back on since meeting my boyfriend in December and rediscovering curry nights. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had getting fat.

4) I’m obsessed with cheese. Not the posh kind. I’m happy with run-of-the-mill supermarket cheddar. Or Babybels. Ba-ba-baa-ba-babybell.

5) I arrived at uni with 2 pairs of shoes. I then spent the vast majority of my first term buying more and living on pasta. I now have 98 pairs. Sorry taxpayers!

6) I adore napping and can fall asleep anywhere, including the rather loud and busy Rainforest cafe. I prefer to think of this in a Sleeping Beauty way, rather than a Waynetta Slob way.

7) I wish my choice of favourite film was cooler or more indie. But it’s not. It’s funny, romantic, smart and Christmassy. It’s Love, Actually.

8) Actually, generally I wish I was more arty, or musical, or kooky, or witty. Unfortunately my artistic abilities didn’t develop beyond the age of 10 and I sing like a wounded cat.

9) I’ve tried a lot of different food, and I’ve eaten Kangaroo, Alligator, Frog, Rabbit, Ox and Zebra before. Zebra is kinda awesome.

10) I’m constantly putting my foot in my mouth. You know that character from Catherine Tate who always says the wrong thing and offends someone at dinner parties? That’s me. Honestly, I don’t mean to be!

11) I physically cannot cross my eyes. I don’t have the muscle in my left eye to do it. I really wish this had a cooler name but….it’s called Duane’s Syndrome

12) I make a mean chocolate mousse cake.

13) I’m a really really bad driver. It took my 8 tests to pass. I haven’t actually had a crash for 3 years though. My boyfriend reckons the crashes happen behind me….

14) I’m 24 and I still really love More magazine. It’s all about Men Overheard

15) I have a huge crush on Jason Manford and Ricky Gervais

16) In fact, most of my crushes are a bit random. I fancied John Goodman for years. It’s the funny/cuddly factor.

17) I got 2nd degree burns on holiday when I was 17. More embarrassingly, the holiday was in Wales and it was cloudy all day. My arms looked like a couple of overcooked sausages.

18) For the first time in my life, I love my job. I’m barely scraping rent but I love editing and writing. I also love that people don’t groan now when they ask what I do for a living. Human Resources isn’t exactly interesting…

19) I always thought relationships were about sacrificing and giving up the things I loved doing like chilling out with a book or movie on my own. Now I know that it’s not sacrificing if the things you get instead make you far happier. And if you meet someone really lovely, they’ll understand if you want to do both!

20) I found my first two internships, my current job, and lots of lovely people on Twitter. I don’t want all the facebook crew to join up and ruin it 🙂

21) It’s the 24th August and I’m already excited about Christmas.

22) I’ll be getting the Christmas CD out on 1st November.

23) I’m not a massive fan of calling someone up “for a chat”. I’d rather talk to someone over dinner or drinks or online. Also, the foot in mouth issue is far worse on the phone.

24) I’m probably addicted to the Internet. I do get irritable if I can’t check my e-mail for 24 hours.

25) I hate the summer (see fact 17) and can’t wait for winter. What’s not to love? Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year, and the vague possibility of snow!

Doggie Cupcakes

My sister and I took our dog Toby to our local dog show yesterday and came across a stall selling treats especially for dogs. The stall, run by Bone Appetit, is a taster for when they launch their website on the 21st September and their shop in Wokingham on the 23rd. All the treats are E-number free and the ingredients are easily listed so you know exactly what your pooch is scoffing.

We grabbed a couple of the cupcakes (see right) and a couple of the Pasties. They also sell gourmet donuts, and pretzels!

Unfortunately Toby didn’t win a thing, but I don’t think he was too bothered 🙂

Snail Mail

I used to love writing letters when I was younger. It’s far more satisfying writing on pretty paper, popping it in an envelope and posting it yourself, rather than typing out a message and hitting send. Receiving hand written letters is even nicer, especially when it’s hidden between a dreary student loan statement and a phone bill.

This is one of the reasons that I wanted to take part in Dream Sequins competition, which I blogged about recently. The concept of sending a postcard to a couple of other talented bloggers from across the globe is brilliant, and I’m really looking forward to getting my new penpals!

The other reason is that I really really want to have an excuse to buy lots of pretty stationery. Stationery is one of my favourite things to buy, especially when you buy a brand new writing pad and use your best handwriting on that first fresh page.

First of my list is one of these stamps (top right) from Etsy seller cupcaketree. I’d stamp them on the back of envelopes for a personalised touch. They’ve got some martini glass stamps too which I’m seriously eyeing up too.

These cupcake address labels (left) from SnailMailPals are delicious looking, and will hopefully put a smile on the postman’s face! A cupcake with a smiley face? What could be happier??

This stationery paper (right) from cloudydreams is cheerful and kindly caters to the fact that without guidelines, my handwriting tends to slide down the page. The Etsy store has a great selection of food based writing paper, including this ice cream themed one.

What’s your favourite stationery buy? Do you still handwrite letters?

The Size Zero Debate

I recently wrote a piece for plus-size.me about the size zero debate. I’m a size 12 but I’ve been everything from a size 10-18, and I understand the pressure young women are under to be slim. Pick up a copy of most celebrity magazines, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you can only be successful and beautiful if you’re slim. Some high street shops only stock clothing up to a size 12, and catwalks are flooded with tall, slim women. In the last few years there have been a lot of young celebrities, like Nicole Richie, and Lindsey Lohan, who have lost a lot of weight in a short space of time. For young women it can be incredibly confusing to understand what a healthy size is.

Whilst being a size zero is not necessarily a problem if this is your natural size and you’re healthy, it is a problem if young women are starving themselves to become what they believe to be the most attractive shape.

So who is promoting this image? Is it the media, the modelling agencies, or designers?

I had a chance to speak to Damian O’Connor, the MD of Models Direct recently, which gave me an opportunity to find out more about the modelling agency process and their views on size zero.

Could you tell me a bit about Models Direct?
We’re the UK’s largest modelling employment agency, working with models and clients nationwide. We’ve been in business for nineteen years, and we work with a huge variety of leading brand names – the BBC, Mamas & Papas, MTV and Nintendo to name just a few.

How do you find your models?
We receive most applications through our website. It only takes five minutes to complete the application form and upload photos for our consideration.

What kind of models are most popular – children, teenagers, young women, older couples? It depends entirely on what the client asks for! Every day, we get requests for dozens of different looks. Recent requirements have included ‘funky teens for product launch’, ‘twin girls aged 1-3 for production segment for a new comedy show’ and ‘female models aged 40+ f or a nightwear catalogue’. Our models can be any age – from newborn babies to senior citizens – and can have any look or shape. We can never predict what clients might want for their projects.

Is there a vetting process before signing a model up?
The Models Direct registration process is very straightforward. After an application is submitted, we get in touch with the applicant and chat to them about their expectations and interests. If both the potential model and the coordinator feel the application should be taken forward, the applicant will then be submitted to a panel, who then decide whether to offer representation.

Unlike many agencies, we do not require our models to spend money on photographs to promote themselves – we just need two clear photos, usually taken on a normal digital camera. We find our models work based on their submitted photos – the client usually just wants an idea of what someone looks like. The whole process of applying is simple and fast, and we aim to respond within a few days of receiving an application.

Have you found attitudes have changed since the ‘size zero’ debate kicked off? I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed an enormous change, but there certainly have been some shifts in the way models are perceived in recent years. Models Direct has always recruited a wide range of different models, and I think it’s clear that in the future, ‘real’ men and women are going to become increasingly relevant in the world of modelling.

Have you found a change in the types of models requested for campaigns now? It’s important to realise that we work for a huge range of clients. The vast majority don’t request six-foot women who are size zero. We’ve never been the kind of high fashion agency that will only represent a particular kind of model – we have a diverse array of looks, sizes and personalities on our books, and we have always maintained that you don’t have to be a size zero to try modelling. We are more of a commercial agency and try to encourage an open-minded approach to model selection among our clients, while still respecting their needs for a particular assignment. We get a good reaction from this and our clients are very willing to trust our judgement on the suitability of a model for a campaign, whatever the requirement.

What are your feelings on the use of size zero models – or plus-size models – on the catwalk? I think the key point is that everybody is unique – some people are naturally thin, while others have fuller figures. The vital thing to remember in all modelling is that people need models of lots of different sizes – because there are people of different sizes in the real world. It’s important to be in touch with your natural body shape: models should be healthy, and we have to consider the impact of negative body image on young people (both boys and girls). This is something that I think really concerns everybody in the modelling industry.

What influence do you think modelling agencies have on body image? Unfortunately, I think our influence is relatively limited. People – especially the young – take on opinions and trends from designers and the media. That can affect how they perceive their chances of succeeding as a model, which is a shame, because we need models of all sizes. Also, modelling as an industry is often badly misrepresented in the mainstream media, especially when it comes to body image. The result is that people have serious misconceptions about what modelling agencies want, or who they recruit. If people looked more carefully at the facts, and speak to agencies like Models Direct, they’d realise how broad and open we are in selecting models, and they’ll realise how important it is to us that we have a mixture of shapes, sizes and looks on our books.

How do you see the future of modelling? I hope we continue to see a broader range of models and looks entering the mainstream modelling scene, and people’s perceptions about what it means to be a model changing. For Models Direct, the size zero debate isn’t a consideration when we’re recruiting models, nor is it the main concern of the majority of our clients. It would be wonderful to see the media and leading designers recognise the lack of variety and to do something positive about it.

So what do you think? What is your opinion on the size zero debate? I’d love to hear from any designers or media people too to hear their point of view.