#QuirkyQristmas – Gift Ideas For Him

It’s the mosttttt wonderful timeeeeeee, of the yeeeeeeeeeear!

Installment two of the #QuirkyQristmas installments is all about the men in your life. I’ve tried to cater it so there’s something for everyone and, again, it’s all £25 or under.

 

His Favourite Lyrics Poster 

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It’s so difficult to buy decorative items for lads, so this is super simple yet ingenius. It says a lot about his personality without being too in-your-face.

Buy it here for £10.95.

 

Initials Cufflinks

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In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m a sucker for personalised-initials bits and bobs. These cufflinks are especially good, and I really love the burnt gold ones.

The LINK is here (geddit?), £25.

 

2. Damn Handsome Beard Kit

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The band of bearded-men are here to stay, and they’ve never looked better. This quirky Mankit boasts beard oil, wax, a mustache brush and clippers, all contained in a gorgeous gold tin.

Get groomin’ here for £25.

Song Soundwave

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Combine the classic presents – a mixtape and a keyring – into one with his favourite song soundwave. Whether it’s your wedding song, something he can’t get out of his head or just something that reminds you of him, it gives a great sentimental spin.

Get the tunes here for £19.50.

 

Snaffling Pig Crackling

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Get him the gift of the three little pigs this christmas, then let him savagely eat them. Snaffling Pig’s crackling is like no other, and this gift set allows you to personalise your flavours and even order refills.

Chow down here for £20 (not including refills).

 

Personalised Hip-Flask 

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I know right, another monogrammed gift – shock. This personalised hip flask doesn’t show off, comes beautifully presented and will stand the test of time.

Get it here for £21.

 

The next installment of QuirkyQristmas will be aimed at our pooches – stay tuned!

@dimmickhead

Dear Younger, Thinner, Less-Wise Me…

If you look up ‘The Worst’ on Urban Dictionary there’s a picture of me looking sheepish next to my laptop.

These past few months have been a total roller-coaster, and I’m absolutely knackered just thinking about it to be honest. I’ve said so many times that I’ll pull my finger out and get back to blogging on the reg’, but adult life gets in the way and, by the time I collapse onto my settee every evening, I can barely muster up the strength to change the TV channel never mind get my thoughts in order for a blog post.

Well, that’s OFFICIALLY going to change. I’ve written it down now. A bloggers contract is binding, probably. I will be annoying you all with weekly posts from now until the E N D  O F  T I M E.

A uni-mate of mine posted a blog entitled ‘Dear Me…’ today (read it here, and you’ll want to follow her around screaming Little Mix – Little Me lyrics at her for a few hours. Totes emosh), and being the little idea-stealer that I am I thought I’d do the same. Not only will it get me posting again, but it’ll give you all a little insight of what I’ve been up to since I dropped off the face of the earth.

So here’s my rendition of things I’d like to blag my younger self about:

Dear younger, thinner, less-wise Lauren,

Well well well, look at you. You’ve only went and got yourself into your first choice for uni, and the time has come to wave goodbye to the carefree life of being a teenager and join the REAL WORLD (haha, just kidding. Wait until you turn 21).

I know you’re scared, but I also know you’re super excited to prove yourself and become the best journalist that Sunderland Uni’s ever had the pleasure of producing. Well mate, you can forget about that.
You might have been number one blogger in your College classes up until now, but University’s going to be a whole new kettle of fish. You’re getting thrown in to the lions den, surrounded by people JUST as passionate and JUST as willing as you to get what they want. Some of them will trip and fall at the first hurdle, and you’ll secretly think “THANK GOD, one less competitor to worry about”. Others will be more willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears than you are (I know right, who’d of thought year 2 would make you so lazy?). Hell, some people will run journalistic-circles around you without even making an effort, which will be something you spend hours bitching about to your newest friends.

That brings us on to our next point. Over the next few years, you will meet some of the most amazing and diverse people. You’ll cry when you have to leave them, and still think about the great times you had together often. Like the, rightly labelled, Funnest Day Ever after handing in your dissertation, or played ‘Never Have I Ever’ on a school-night and wanted to die throughout your lectures.

You label yourself as an unsociable person, claim that you’d rather be on your own to concentrate on your work, but by-hell lassie, get a grip will you? The next three years will be the most isolating of your life, so grab these friendships and run with them. You’ll need someone to stay with you through all-nighters at the library after all.

As it happens, you’ll also make a different kind of friendship. While you’re Bridget Jone’sing it up, giving the death-stare anything with a penis that dares to cast their eye on you, you’ll swipe ‘right’ on Tinder and end up meeting the love of your life. Over the next few years you’ll get to know him – and you’ll seriously consider homicide in the process – but you’ll come to realize that nobody has ever ‘got you’ quite like him, or made you laugh even on your worst day. You’ll go on amazing adventures but be just as happy to spend an evening binge-watching Netflix and not communicating. Apparently he’ll feel the same about you, so much so that he’ll ask you to marry him two and a half years later. That’s right, someone wants to marry YOU. Even with your stinking attitude, pennance for desert and inability to let the little things go. If you could actually receive this message in good time and start the wedding diet in, say, 2014, that’d be great. You’re actually a house-end come 2016. Put the fork down. Srsly.

You’ll fly the nest. You will be SO relieved to be out, after living through three years of hell with a pair of pre-teens that communicate in either squeals or grunts, but once you’re moved in, you’ll be unpacking your books and the most emotional song in the entire world will come on the radio (Iris – GooGoo Dolls, FYI) and you’ll fall to pieces realizing that you don’t live with your mammy anymore. As it happens, you can’t get bloody rid of her now anyway, so that will make it sort of okay.

OH! I almost forgot to tell you the best bit. You’ll absolutely SMASH uni and realize exactly what your life’s heading for. True, we haven’t quite got things up and running yet, but it’s coming, I can feel it in my bones!

So yeah, your life is going pretty spectacularly so far. People love and care about you, you still have your hopes and dreams, and your future’s looking bright. Well, sometimes. You know how your mood-swings are.

Stop being such a nervous-pervis and go with the flow, it’ll all work out in the end.

I promise.

Lots of love,
Your older, wiser self x

P.S: You’re still bald. Soz.

 

 

Pack With Me: Stress-shopping Haul

Who left their holiday shopping until the last minute?

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Yep, it was me. Why? Because I’m a piece of shit laid back type of gal, and like to put off stressful situations until I can’t ignore them anymore. So, what’s a girl to do when it’s the end of August and shops have stopped selling all of their Summer stuff? Panic buy, of course.

I’m ashamed of how much money I was able to spend in the space of 24 hours, really I am. However, I’m also kind of thrilled, because I’m surrounded by pretty new things and I have a great sense of achievement, because I DID IT. I managed a whole holiday shop and only burst into tears 47 times.

I’m off to Marrakesh on Friday. I don’t know about you, but the first thing that pops into my head when I think about Morocco is PATTERNS! The colourful souks with their beautiful, intricate designs got me feeling some kinda way, and I knew that I wanted to use my holiday shopping to embody the scheme.

As any plus size girl will agree though, statement dressing in the sweltering heat is not an easy task, and it ends up feeling like a fantastic idea to scrap your fashionable wardrobe for loose-fitting tees and those weird white linen pants that your mum seems to love. I had to incorperate the strategy of boob-sweat/leg chafing prevention while still finding a way to get in my pretty patterns and, truly, I think I’ve nailed it.
Here are a few of my top picks below (you’ll be surprised at how much Primark a girl can own):

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Birkenstocks, £25 (T.K.Maxx) 

I once saw a meme that went something along the lines of: “Bitches be paying $130 to be lookin’ like they attended The Last Supper tho”. Whoever this wordsmith was, they were right on the point. Birkenstock’s are so gross that they’re kind of beautiful, and they were bound to be my first purchase when it came to holiday shopping. Those of you that know me know that I’m a tightwad to a fault, and I was NEVER going to pay full price for a pair. Miraculously, I ventured into T.K.Maxx on my hunt for a new bag, and stumbled across these babies. They’ve got the most beautiful pair in lime green and bright red, too. I went for the metallic brown, because I knew that they’d go with more outfits.
Turn that water into Pinacoladas please, big guy.

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Flipflops 2-pack, wedges, flip flops with gold button (Matalan)

You can’t not love Matalan. It’s the ideal shop for the staples (cheaper than Primarni in some cases, plus better quality material!), and you might even find some great statement pieces too. As I’ve mentioned, I was in a state of pure panic buying by this point, and literally grabbed every pair that caught my eye. Once I’d learned to breathe again, I looked over my Matalan haul and was pleasantly surprised that I loved all of them. I’ve never been one for heels on holiday (swollen, sweltering trotters, amirite?), but I couldn’t resist these beauties for the sake of £8.

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White dress, £18 (River Island) Chinaprint dress, £10 (Primark)

It’s always fun to play the glamourpuss when you’re away, and I’m over the moon with my evening dresses. Granted they’re limited, but I’m not under any illusion that me and the BF are going to be going for classy nights on the cobbles too often. Try sitting in the foisty bikini while we’re swallowing jaggerbombs instead. I’m a bit dubious about my ability to pull off a white dress, but I thought it was so beautiful and I’m hoping that it’ll look fab with my Moroccan tan!

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All Primark

Kimonos are my total go-to. They work as a coverup through the day, yet glam up any outfit on a night. What makes them even more vital is that they’re easy-breezy without being stifling. The last two are last years, but I couldn’t resist because PATTERN.

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Primark, £6 each

Like, where do you even buy holiday towels? It’s not something you particularly think about, so when the time comes you can find yourself at a loss. I’d completely resigned myself to drip-drying for the week, until I was waiting in the Primark line and they were RIGHT THERE. They’re cute without being OTT (I wanted a Disney Princess one but was denied the right by my boyfriend).

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Long yellow, £4 (Primark) Mullet skirt, £8 (Peacocks) Pineapple print skirt, £4 (Primark)

Let’s not skirt around the fact (lolz) that flowy skirts are ideal for a holiday. Taking the dreaded chafing into the equation, these styles are great when paired with the AMAZING invention of…erm… Leggings That I Cut Up To Stop My Thighs Rubbing. That’s a trademarked name by the way, so if you use it I’ll sue. 

‘Moving Out’ Fears

So the other half and I have been talking about moving in together for a while now. I genuinley feel like I’m ready to take the next step in our relationship, and I’m excited to get started. That being said though, I’m a human being and I have scaredy-cat tendencies. It’s all well and good daydreaming about wallpaper patterns and imagining the benefits to our relationship, but I’m sure it’s completely natural to have doubts.
Here are my main worries about moving out of my family home:

1. Saying goodbye to all-night Netflix binges

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I heard a rumor that, when you’re in a functioning adult relationship, you go to bed at the same time. Unless it’s a show that you’re both really into, you’ll be saying goodbye to watching The Office and Sons Of Anarchy into the early hours of the morning. Granted, this could be seen as a positive in terms of having a healthy sleeping pattern, but it also means you’re letting go of the one thing that keeps you feeling like a teenager.

2. Your mum’s not there when you’re sick

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Assuming that you’re in a long-term relationship, your other half has probably got to the basics of how to take care of you when you’re sick. That being said though, your mum’s been there for you LITERALLY since you were born, and she’s the only one who knows the exact steps to make you feel better. You know you shouldn’t be phased by this because ‘you’re not a baby’, except when you’re ill, you kind of are. And you want your mommy.

3. What is money?

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I swear that they should have taught a ‘basic sh*t you need to know to be a functioning human being’ module in school, because I know nothing about building a home. How can I afford a washing machine, sofa and double bed? How much is toilet roll? How often will I need to buy it? Do we split the cost of stamps? I don’t even need stamps, he should buy his own!

4. Saying goodbye to date night

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This is a legit fear. Moving in together, especially as a young couple just starting out, means that you’re going to be scrimping and saving until to cows come home. Suddenly the £30-odd quid you’d spend bi-weekly on ‘date night’ seems like such a waste when it could have been spent on your lecky bill. Sharing a Tesco Dine In For Two while Coronation Street’s on seems like a step down.

5. Am I annoying? 

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It’s all well and good spending time with your other half on a planned basis, but when you’re under each others feet constantly, you fear that they’ll start to find all of your ‘quirky traits’ annoying. He might find it totes adorbz that you eat your pizza with a knife and fork now, but when you’ve been bickering about leaving the toilet seat up and which curtains to buy, it could easily turn into something that he’d consider suffocating you in your sleep for.

6. I pump. A lot. 

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It’s easy to pretend when you inhabit separate abodes that you’re a beautiful, hairless unicorn whose backside smells like rainbows. The reality is, you’re just as gross (if not  more) than him, and it’s a lot harder to hide your burps, farts and poops from him in such close proximity. Here’s to hoping he finds it funny.

7. You might become boring

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Right now, you can still ‘hang’. You’ll go out drinking until 3 A.M, play pool until your hearts content and hold interesting conversations. What if, when you move in together, you’re so consumed with curtain prices and the proper way to do hospital corners and it’s all you can talk about and you end up being so boring that your friends LITERALLY DIE. What if you LITERALLY kill your friends DEAD from boredom?

8. What’s his is yours… unfortunately

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Personally, my boyfriend owns six guitars. That’s right, SIX guitars. It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t touched these guitars the whole time we’ve been together, 5/6 still have their own separate displays and are placed in his living space accordingly. I don’t know about any of my female readers, but my dream home does not consist of walls upon walls of different types of guitar. This works vice versa, of course, as I have a lot of crap too. My Cosmopolitan collection goes back about five years… does he want THOSE displayed in our living room? I’m guessing no.

9. Inevitable arguments

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As a couple. we’re pretty zen. This has a lot to do with the fact that he’s so laid-back that he’s practically horizontal, and refuses to take the bait when I’m on a hormonal rampage and trying to start an argument. What if this changes when we move in together? What if I’m having my time-of-the-month mini-rage and he actually. God forbid, talks back to me? I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it. I’ve become accustomed to a certain type of life, and that includes getting my own way most of the time.

10. The pressure is on

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We’ve been taught that life and relationships are supposed to go a certain way. You date, you move in, you get engaged, you get a dog (totally on-board with this, FYI), you get married, you have BABIES. Since you’re taking the second step, it’s natural to worry that everything else is going to start snowballing. I CAN’T GET MARRIED YET, I’M NOT A SIZE 12. I can get a dog though. Totally. Let’s do that first, before we buy furniture.

At the end of the day though, this is inevitably part of growing up. It’s something everyone will (hopefully) have to face at some point or another, and it usually turns out to be pretty great. Personally, I’m looking forward to having unlimited #BaeTime and making a house into our home.

What are your moving out fears? Do you have any advice for beating the fear? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter at @dimmickhead

#THINGSTODO: Alnwick Gardens + Castle

It was such a beautiful day yesterday, so instead of the BF and I honoring our favorite past-time of slothing about on the sofa and having a Netflix binge, we decided to get up and at’em.

ALNWICK GARDENS
I’d never been to Alnwick before, so we settled on taking a trip to the famous gardens and castle (some of Harry Potter was filmed there, FYI).

As soon as I walked through the gates I was absolutely in awe: I’m not one to care too much about the history of a place, but I DO like to look.

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The whole place looked like it was plucked out of a fairy-tale. Coincidentally, the latest exhibition was ‘A Garden Of Fairy-tales, and the whole theme was based around Sleeping Beauty and the dastardly Wicked Queen. It’s up to YOU to stop her! Ok, so technically, it’s up to people under the age of seven to stop her. My boyfriend and I are both over 20, and you better believe we still joined in.

Hidden throughout the gardens were pieces from different fairy tales; from Cinderellas glass slipper perched on a pumpkin to Belle’s enchanted rose. Maybe we lacked the childhood wonder, or eyes just aren’t as sharp as they used to be, but we found a grand total of three:

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It’s such a huge place, with so much to see and do. On top of the Fairy tale event, we got to see The Poison Gardens – yes, it’s just as scary as it sounds. Encased behind protective barriers are some of the most deadly plants known to man. From berry’s that will kill you within hours, to class B drugs, you’ll find yourself questioning anything you’ve got in your back garden.

ALNWICK CASTLE
Once we’d had our fill of the gardens, we took a short walk across to Alnwick castle. Personally, I wasn’t too bothered about visiting, but since we had time to waste we dragged ourselves along. I’d happily go back and slap my past-self in the face with a handful of berry’s from The Poison Garden, because it was the highlight of the trip.

For me, the main attraction was that my bae Daniel Radcliffe had, at one point or another, breathed in the air around me. Sorrynotsorry, he’s hot. Walking through the arches though, I was really caught off-guard by the hugeness or the place, and it was really stunning. Walking through the courtyard we noticed people (young and old) were messing around with broomsticks. I was with my people.

Being responsible adults that genuinely care about our self-respect and image, we ran straight for the brooms to take some staged pics. Readers, what I’m about to show you is strictly between you and me. If you ever tell ANYONE about the faces that I’m making in these photos, I won’t be your friend anymore. Do you want to risk that?
Empty warning out of the way, please enjoy our flying adventures:

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Next up was the Dragons Quest. Again, this is specifically set up for children and, again, does this face look bothered?

I’d just like to point out, whoever’s idea this whole thing was is sick in the head. This is for KIDS? I nearly peed myself and I’m a fully-formed adult.

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No trip is complete without a sugar-rush, so on our way out we stopped for ice-cream. Banoffee and honeycomb, thanks very much.

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All in all, it was such a fantastic day, surrounded by beautiful sights and great company.

If you want to learn more about Alnwick Gardens, click here. To go straight to booking, click here.

EXTRAS:

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Taking a detour to the most beautiful and intricate second hand bookshop, Barter Books, I picked up the second volume of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

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I LOVE this place: it’s all old books and filter coffee, with a cute little train doing its rounds on the ceiling. If you’re in the area with some time to spare, I’d definitely reccomend giving it a visit. It’s a five minute walk from the castles exit.

I’m A Qualified Journo, Ta’ Very Much

So this week has been a total whirlwind. I graduated from my magazine journalism course with a 2:1 degree, and I’m feeling a total emotional cocktail of relief and sadness.

It’s been a grueling three years (five if you count my time studying at college), and now it’s finally over I’ve got the chance to breathe and look back on everything I’ve done. During my time studying I’ve met some amazing people who I know I’ll be madly in love with forever (HubClub, I’m looking at you!), and I’ve had the chance through various platforms to spread my metaphorical wings and write for all sorts of great publications and websites. Here are my top * moments:

1. Welcome Week

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I was accepted onto the generic journalism course at the University of Sunderland, and it was just so exciting to be surrounded by people who wanted all the same things as I did. However, it was also really scary to know that I was liaising with the competition! Walking through the UoS doors and realizing this was where I’d be spending the next three years of my life was surreal.

2. Meeting My Girls

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When it comes to work, I was never much of a socialist, preferring to be left to my own devices and get on with it. As time went on though, I’ve became really close with a bunch of great girls who have honestly been my rock through the hard times and my partners through the good. During dissertation time I saw my HubClub more than my family and boyfriend, as we spent 12-hour days in the Hub working hard and drinking unnecessary amounts of coffee.

3. My Manchurian Adventure

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Early in my final year, it was required that I did two weeks worth of work experience at a magazine. It was tempting to stay in my hometown and commute from home, but I made the decision to stay at a bedsit in Manchester while working at VIVA Magazine. This was such a fantastic experience for me, as it gave me the chance to put my big-girl pants on and experience life on my own. Away from my family and friends, it got lonley at times but I’m so happy that I was able to prove to myself that I can do things on my own, and it’s an experience I’ll always look back on fondly.

4. NOUVEAU Magazine

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For my uni dissertation, I created a magazine called NOUVEAU (friends and fam, sorry if you’re sick to the back teeth of hearing about it). I really poured my heart and soul into this, and I’m so pleased that I came at the other end with a 1st.

5. Graduating (dur)

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Although I was filled with a distinct feeling of dread at the thought of crossing that stage in my unnecessarily high heels, graduation was a day I’ll never forget. An added bonus, my mum also graduated the day after, so it was a big of a family affair.

Graduates, what are your top five moments from university? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter at @dimmickhead

#THEPOWEROFMAKEUP: A Trend I Can Get On Board With

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Remember the #NoMakeupSelfie? The trend swept the UK last March, but I never really ‘got it’. Much like the ‘stick a bottle of coke between your boobs’ saga, which was meant to raise money for breast cancer, I just didn’t see how it was contributing to finding a cure. Not wearing any makeup had absolutely nothing to do with empathizing with people who had cancer, and the whole ‘coke bottle’ thing seemed to be mocking for the women that HAD suffered from breast cancer, and lost their own breasts because of it.

When #ThePowerOfMakeup started cropping up on my timeline, I automatically rolled my eyes and scrolled on, already convinced that it was another way for women to be vain in the name of charity. Then it kept popping up again and again, and I begrudgingly clicked on an article. It turned out to be something that really resonated with me.

The trend initially kicked off when YouTuber/beauty Vlogger NikkieTutorials posted a video with a face half-full of makeup, and the other half squeaky clean. This wasn’t to promote how ace she was at doing makeup (though she totally is!), but to draw attention to the stigma of make-up shaming.

Loads of women everywhere are made to feel like less of a feminist every day simply because of their love of makeup, and we’re taking a stand. In her video, Nikki says: “I’ve been noticing a lot lately that girls have been almost ashamed to say they love makeup, because nowadays when you say you love makeup, you either do it because you want to look good for boys, you do it because you’re insecure, or you do it because you don’t love yourself . . . I feel like in a way lately it’s almost a crime to love doing your makeup.”

So why does being a feminist have to mean that you play down your femininity?

Is feminism not the notion that women should be able to do what they want (to an extent, don’t start), whether that’s burning their bras and buying a wardrobe full of slacks to using a push-up bra and all the makeup Superdrug has to offer? Why does embracing the fact that you’re a woman and want to accentuate this make you the sole cause of feminism taking a great big step back?

If you genuinely think that woman only wear makeup to draw attention from men, then you’re extremely narrow minded. I’ve got a feeling that if you asked 100 women who they wear makeup for, 98 of them would reply “myself”. Although there’s OBV nothing wrong with loving the bare-skin look, it’s also totally okay to only feel yourself when you’re armed with your fave primer, foundation and NARS pallet.

For instance, I’m not great at the whole makeup thing (confession time: most of my makeup is from Avon!) but I very rarely leave the house without drawing my eyebrows on. Do I realise that it can make me look like a clown? Sure. Is that going to make me stop doing it? HEeEEeEeElll to the naw! Because of my #AlopeciaProbz, I don’t have a natural eyebrow, and I’m insecure about it. Sue me, bitch.

So ladies, whether you’re spending half of your income on the latest highlighter or you only need a scrub of Neutrogena to make you feel human, don’t let anyone stop you from doing your thang.

I want to fill this post with all of your beautiful faces, so tweet me with your #ThePowerOfMakeup selfies with a line about what makeup means to you, at @dimmickhead!