Sunday, 10 May 2015

Undead | Zbox and 2.8 Hours Later Review


Now, I am no geek - but I sure do love a good zombie (mind the paradox). Whether it's The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later or just toying with the idea and perhaps possibility of the undead. I was approached in February to review the Undead Zbox themed around zombies but waited until I had completed 2.8 Hours Later before I wrote a review on them both. 

Zbox is a subscription box by Zavvi (yes, they're back in business) themed around all things geeky. Past boxes include: Marvel, Cosmic, Retro etc.. (No doubt there will be a Star Wars one out when the new film is released later this year). A typical monthly Zbox includes several items based around that month's theme, February was the Undead box which was themed around a zombie apocalypse.

As I was in Mexico for the best part of February, I didn't get to try this box out until March which worked out well as my boyfriend had just began a 5 week intense training course and needed a bit of a pick-me-up, so I surprised him with a zombie themed weekend which included trying the Zbox out, a zombie documentary courtesy of Zbox, a night in watching Crazies, attempting a Secret Lab escape room (think 28 Days Later) and zombie-related snacks.


In addition to the box, I had baked some brain cupcakes, sprayed green edible spray onto popcorn to mimic what Pinterest tells me is "zombie snot", pickled a human head (actually printed paper suspended in green-coloured water inside a jar), coloured lemonade green and stuck red triangles of pepper on pizza strips to fake zombie fingers.

Unlike a lot of subscription boxes, the magazine/product list was actually not a bore to read. It included a run down of the items inside and also had recipes for zombie cocktails. We ended up making the only non-alcoholic cocktail into an alcoholic one (typical) and blended a bunch of berries with vodka and lemon juice which created the look and consistency of actual blood, not that actual blood contains remnants of pomegranate seeds. If they do, I would consult a doctor immediately, or tap your back with a spoon and hope all the seeds come out.
The box itself was a treat; containing a total of eight items - the box had a wide variety of tidbits. From socks to vinyls to candy. First, I came across some green zombie socks which fit my boyfriend perfectly and two Walking Dead Mini Mates figures. I'm a big fan of The Walking Dead and have watched it since it was first aired so this ticked all the boxes for me. You get two figures out of seven collectable, I received Amy and a stabbed zombie. I would have loved Michonne as she's my favourite Walking Dead character but beggers can't be choosers! 


Next, I found two discs; one being a green coloured vinyl of John Carpenter's The Fog which I have yet to watch and a DVD documentary of the history of zombies. While zombies may be in our eyes, fictional - there have been "accounts" of the undead in past history books although I'm sure these accounts were probably made by the delirious and massively diseased. I'd say that you need to watch this with a sceptical mind as a lot of it is documented by American zombie fanatics who desperately want to believe the apocalypse will soon be with us. Although with David Cameron puppeteering us for another 5 years, I don't think they're far from the truth! While I have never seen The Fog, this vinyl will take pride of place in my ever growing collection of extremely random vinyls that I own but will never play until I find a fully working antique His Masters Voice gramophone.


Also included in the box was a graphic t-shirt with an amazing zombie print illustrated by Dan Mumford. Very soft and of excellent quality, I was very much expecting this to be C grade but it exceeded my expectations greatly. Some added extras included a Brain Licker which is a flavoured tongue roller. Coloured blue, I could only describe this as concentrated squash. It really quenched my thirst and was really handy when I wanted a sugar fix at home, as I would probably look unusual and not to mention inappropriate if I did this at work. In addition to this was a vinyl sticker and a set of badges. 


What I really loved was that the box itself had been printed with the theme in mind so you know that the brainsssssss behind Zbox really go that extra mile for you. It's comforting to know that people aren't just shoving goodies into a standard box on a monthly basis in hope that its desirability meets if not, exceeds overall value. A very impressive box and probably one of the best that I have ever tried.


Tickets for 2.8 Hours Later were bought for my as a birthday present and I couldn't have been more over the moon. I had been wanting to go ever since I had heard about it, a colleague of mine shared with me his and his wife's experience and it only made me more eager to go. At £48 each, these tickets weren't cheap and I had high expectations that were luckily met. 

The idea is that you use a map to make your way through several points within the game. The story changes yearly and this year's game was called Ruin, although I don't quite know why it was because the story was about getting a vial from a lab that possibly had an embryo in it. Anyway, I digress...I loved how this game took part right in the centre of Manchester and literally right outside my door. As I drove to pick up my friend, I could already see zombies outside my apartment - it only made me more hysterical than I already was, bearing in mind I had just listened to Screamo music to get me in the mood. 

The story began by the prison and you are given a coordinate and a road you must go via. Said road is filled with a mass of the undead. At first, you try to conjure up a tactic - but the sinking realisation is that there is none. There is a mass of zombies in front of you and you just have to run through them. I found that swearing really helped; like really. I have never ran so much in my life and by 'life' I mean since I did the last 100 meters in the 1500 meter race in school, except this time I had no Lucozade tablets. Zombies would vary from being chained to a post that you needed to use, to amputee zombies, to giant zombies who apparently used to be a basketball player as I discovered at the zombie disco at the end. You get to go in groups and as my group only consisted of two girls, we joined forces and met some lovely people. Although you would assume eight people could work out how to read a map; nope. When you get tagged by a zombie (as in the game tag where they touch you), you are marked with a UV pen that doesn't necessarily work. It is only when you go into a UV tent at the end where you find out if you've been infected.


The game ends with a tent for the infected where you enter to get your makeup done like a zombie. If you haven't been infected, be warned - you may feel left out! After this, you have the opportunity to have your photo taken and to buy merchandise, which is then very nicely punctuated with a zombie disco party. All in all, an absolute fabulous night and something different to try out with friends. It's great for team building and fantastic exercise. 


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mhoho 9ct Gold Initial Necklace Jewellery Review


Not too long ago, I stumbled across a shop on Etsy called Mhoho Jewellery. I was looking for a dainty gold initial necklace for a holiday to Mexico. Specifically, I wanted it to have the initial of my boyfriend's name, just as a way of showing him how much I appreciate him. After all, he did pay for the flights and the luscious ocean view hotel!

The necklace I found was perfect; it was dainty, short in length, 9ct gold, looked quite expensive yet extremely affordable at only £20. The closest thing I could find to what I was looking for was the American Apparel gold tone 'ABC' pendant, but this wasn't real gold, it looked cheap yet was £22 and as it currently stands, only available in 10 letters, 'B' not being one of them.

I was more than impressed with the packaging; it came wrapped in a square of candy pink tissue paper, sealed with a branded 'Thank You' sticker, placed neatly inside a cardboard box with lid and beautifully finished with a white and pink satin branded bow. Symmetrically sound and every person with OCD's dream.


As for the necklace itself, it pretty much exceeded my expectation. I rarely find jewellery that I consider an everyday staple, I can only think of one other necklace and that was also purchased from Etsy. As this necklace was 9ct gold, it stood the test of time pretty well - Mexico! I was very dubious at the start but at only £20, I assumed that if it fell apart, at least I had only spent £20 not £200. And so, I frolicked to and fro through sand, through sea water, submerged and knocked about and not a single tarnish over a month later. The only gripe I had with it being real gold was that since gold is so soft, I did find the chain to stretch in parts where I had knocked it about so I would advise to take real care of it. I don't know what I expected as I was looking for a delicate necklace!


The length was ideal, I didn't want something that hung too low as I wanted it to peak through any crew necklines. I opted for the 17" but I even think 16" would have been good for the same reason. 

One of my biggest goals for this year is to become a minimalist and I feel that I need to eradicate costume jewellery that holds little value and only keep the pieces that hold more personal value, things that essentially you think of, most and/or find yourself reaching for on a frequent basis. 

The store sells different variations of the 'initial' necklace, some with an added stone or if you prefer - a stamped disc in place of the brushed charm. Mhoho Jewellery are having a re-style this summer so be sure to look out for another review, new products and an exciting new image. Be sure to 'like' Mhoho Jewellery on Facebook for updates on the revamp, new pieces and to be in with a chance of winning one of their amazing giveaways.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Break The Silence


When I first moved into my new apartment with a stranger, only known to me as my friend's girlfriend - I was unknowingly subjected to the glorified dramatics of 'Hollyoaks'. Mock at first, I did but little did I know how much relevance there would be, underlying a lot of what I initially thought were "crazy" stories. One of the most prominent stories was the rape of male character, John Paul McQueen. This brought about a lot of awareness towards male rape which is often more under the radar than female rape.



In August, I began my research into male rape and discovered a local charity called Survivors Manchester. Survivors Manchester focus on the well-being of survivors of male rape and abuse who will often feel a loss of confidence that perhaps a woman would not experience. Primarily, the sense of curtailing masculinity. There is a lot of stigma around rape that can see incidences not being reported or even acknowledged for a number of years. 

Survivors Manchester offer a variety of support services to male survivors like telephone support, face-to-face support, support groups, online guides, and even information for friends and family of survivors who are looking to support where and when they can. Their survivors booklet which is available online, has a collection of first hand stories from survivors which are filled with empowering lessons told by some of the bravest people on the planet. The charity themselves had a direct input into the story of John Paul which saw the actor James Sutton visit Survivors Manchester himself to get a sound understanding of the role he was to play. 


When I visited the charity, Tom who is the clinical lead at Survivors Manchester gave me a brief overview of the charity and the office they work in. While the work and support they offer is incredibly widespread, they still remain quite a small charity who use a range of methods to publicise their services, including creative platforms like blogs and social media. I created a care package to be shared or donated to a survivor which included personal grooming products, organisational material and a DVD. Tom advises to include items that will directly improve the clients well-being and items the improve life management skills like notebooks and calenders. 


While male orientated, the website does also offer information for female survivors too. Help support Survivors Manchester by donating, shopping Amazon through the associates program, browsing the web through Everyclick or simply sharing this post to raise awareness. 

For more information, visit the website by clicking the banner and/or icons below. 

Survivors Manchester

Saturday, 23 August 2014

DIY Tassel Back Denim Shorts


Today's DIY is incredibly straightforward and easy to do and will need a minimal amount of things to complete this project. If you're anything like me, you're trying your utmost to hold onto Summer. If you are in denial like I am, this project is perfect for you. Get your legs out while it's still summer in these fantastic denim shorts with multicoloured tassels on the back, as seen on Mollie King from The Saturdays!


- High-waisted denim shorts
- Multicoloured tassels (bought on eBay)
- Matching thread
- Needle
- Scissors


Step 1
Turn your denim shorts around and lay out tassels in a formation/layout of your choice. This doesn't need to be 100% symmetrical. Take a photo of it on your phone to refer to it while sewing.


Step 2
While referring to the original layout photo, sew each tassel individually at the top of the loop with the matching thread. Tie in triple knot inside the shorts, as close to the base fabric as possible and snip with scissors.


And there you go, you have a pair of multicoloured tassel-back shorts that swing while you dance. This is perfect for summer days, music gigs and festivals. It's currently Manchester Pride this weekend so it's perfect to dance in and celebrate the LGBT community in these wonderful colours. Take a look at Oxfam's selection of denim shorts here.






Sunday, 17 August 2014

Acme Made 10" iPad/Tablet Bag Giveaway


As you may know, I have been MIA recently and for that, I apologise profusely. As an apology, I am giving you the chance to win a brand new Acme Made Smart Laptop Sleeve. Summer is coming towards an end (although I am in denial) so what better way to beat the Autumn Blues and re-motivate yourself than winning a beautiful new iPad/tablet bag? 


This gorgeous carry bag has thick padding, royal purple fleece lining, dual zips, an adjustable and removable strap and comes in this stunning Wet White Antik damask print that features an ever so subtle bronze shimmer within its cream base. It is a 10" sleeve so perfect for notebooks/netbooks, iPads, tablets and Kindles. This is perfect if you have started a new job or just want to kick-start your blog. Enter below for a chance to win and good luck!


T&Cs 
This is an international giveaway. 
Giveaway ends on the 31st August 2014. 
I am not responsible for any damages caused in transit but will do my utmost to ensure the protection of prizes. 
I am not responsible for any additional charges incurred (customs charge etc) so be sure to double-check your country can receive these prizes. 
All prizes are sent via UK Recorded Delivery or Airmail. 
All winners will be notified within 24 hours from the end of the giveaway. 
Any winners who fail to reply with an address after a week will lose the prize and it will be awarded to someone else.



Sunday, 25 May 2014

DIY Carrie Diaries Personalised Paint Splatter Clutch Bag


Ever since I saw young Carrie Bradshaw's personalised paint splatter bag, I knew I had to have it one way or another. I mapped out different ways of completing this DIY in my head as I wanted to make sure it turned out perfect. I was trawling the internet for a Kelly handbag similar to Carrie's and found it near impossible to find one with enough space for text and at the right price. So I turned to a more widely available option, a black clutch bag. I picked up this clutch bag for £7 at a discount store in Manchester and was quite surprised with the quality. Its weight and structure was perfect and came with a long chain so it can be used as a shoulder/cross body bag as well as a clutch.


- Newspaper or large plastic sheet/bag
- Bag
-Tape
- Acrylic paint
- Paint palette or mixing tool
- Paint brush
- X-acto knife
- Cutting board
- Printer
- Paper
- Sponge
- Sharpie
- Q-Tips
- Nail polish remover
- Blue Tack


Step 1
Prepare your workspace and lay out newspaper or a large sheet of plastic. You can use bin liners for this too. Make sure you cover a large space, you will be throwing paint so there is a possibility it will travel far and possibly stain object nearby.


Step 2
Tape any accents you don't want to cover in paint. In this case, there is chain detailing surrounding the bag that I don't want the paint to hit so I've taped it, front and back.


Step 3
Decide which colours to splatter across your chosen bag. I chose to do the same colours as the original but added the option of a blue. Mix this on a palette to get your desired shades. Make sure you mix enough to make a decent amount of splatters across the bag. The reason I have chosen acrylic paint instead of using nail polish like a lot of other DIYers have used is because acrylic is longer-lasting. Nail polish in renowned for chipping which means it will eventually chip and fade.


Step 4
Scoop a good amount of your chosen colour onto a spatula or a paint brush of your choice and throw it towards the bag in random directions making sure your the path of the throw does not reach past the covered area or you'll get red paint on your new cushion like I did! After you have finished, you must wait for the paint to dry fully before continuing, this may require you to wait overnight depending on how thick the paint splatters are.


Step 5
You can choose to paint your name free-hand if you're confident enough but if you're anything like me, it may be better to use a stencil. To do this, create a Word document and type your name in a large cursive font, I downloaded Learning Curve from DaFont.com, made it bold and printed it out landscape.


Step 6
Lay your printed name on top of a cutting board and using an x-acto knife, slowly cut out your name. Don't forget to cut out and keep the spaces inside letters, so the shapes within letter A's, E's, etc...


Step 7
Lightly tape the stencil cut out onto the bag and blue tack the letter cut outs in place. Mix the desired colour for your name and using a sponge, lightly dab the paint over the stencil evenly. Do about 2 or 3 layers of paint, leaving a few minutes to dry a little in between. On the last layer, make sure to do really light dabs to reduce the amount of bumps in the paint which is caused by the pores from the sponge.


Step 8
Take the stencil off and clean off the edges with a q-tip dipped in nail polish remover. Sharpen the edges with the use of a thin brush dipped in the same colour paint as the name. To sharpen the lines even further, use a black Sharpie and go around any rough edges.

Voila!

If you want to perfect this clutch even further, continue the pattern onto the back and under the flap. I absolutely adore this bag and I must admit, this is one of my greatest DIYs. This is a perfect way to upcycle and personalise and old bag and would make a fantastic present to someone who is a fan of Sex and The City and/or Carrie Diaries. Sadly, it has been announced that Carrie Diaries has been cancelled but be sure to keep the spin-off alive with this funky bag. There's no way of buying the actual bag from anywhere as it is a one-off piece created for the show but I have seen people selling versions on Etsy for $125! I think an at-home DIY is the way to go personally as this project only cost me £8.50. Check out the Oxfam shop for bags to customise here.


I hope you've enjoyed this DIY and again, I must apologise for my extended absence which was briefly explained in my Back To Basics blog post. I promise to get back into the swing of DIYing and already have two more projects planned so watch this space!








Saturday, 17 May 2014

Who Made Your Pants Review


I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Who Made Your Pants to review one of their knickers. Who Made Your Pants is a company that sells handmade, ethical and efficiently sourced knickers. They are based in Southampton, UK and believe that no-one should have to work in poor conditions just to make a cheap pair of pants. The company offer a wide variety of styles in a number of prints and designs but also offer a subscription service to a year of pants at £21.50 a month. Sizes start from a UK 8 to a UK 18.



While handmade, the knickers are professionally finished with a care label, safety pin and card with the name of whoever made your pair of knickers. These knickers are made of upcycled materials which basically means that it was made from material wastage from other companies. Zuhra made this particular pair of pants and I recently discovered from the website that she was the first person at Who Made Your Pants HQ to get a promotion from a skilled worker to a supervisor. 


I went sent the Silver Shadow knicker from the Rosalind collection. It's a gunmetal silver colour on a silky stretchy material with black lace trims, decorated with a tiny black satin bow. At first I was sceptical about the seam down the front, I prefer my knickers to use a continuous single piece of fabric, however - I understand that if this was the requirement for all knickers, it would mean that less upcycling would be possible due to lack of larger pieces of fabric and after trying them on, I realised it made no difference to comfort. Out of all the styles WMYP do, I would say that Rosalind is my favourite so I am beyond grateful for them sending me this style, and in such a classic design. I'd say that this particular pair is very "me". It also held its shape well and didn't loosen throughout the day. 


 What really impressed me was the professionalism of sewing. The seam edges were sewn with zig-zag stitches to withstand stretch and the middle seam was overlocked securely and neatly - not bad for being handmade in Southampton!


After washing this at 30 degrees with a mixture of other colours and fabrics, on a full load - it's safe to say it has passed the wash test. It came out of the washing machine almost the same way it arrived to me through the post. The colour hadn't faded, neither did the lace. There was a little bobbling on the lace but this is from being mixed in with other fabrics in the wash. They still fit in the same way and the quality didn't deteriorate. 

My only gripe would be the cost of the knickers. From a business point of view (I am a lingerie and nightwear Buying Assistant) I feel that £21.50 a month/each is a little too much - the reason why people buy their underwear from retail giants like Primark is because of their price and affordability. I think to warrant Victoria's Secret prices, they would have to make more attractive designs and styles or they would have to bring their prices down to around £15 to compete with high street retailers like La Senza while keeping a fair wage to its employers. A knicker from WMYP would make a great gift to someone so it's good they offer a gift wrapping service and perhaps adding the option of limited edition knickers would increase desirability. 

What I really love about this service is that it's ethical, it's local, it's luxurious, it supports local woman and also pays them fairly. I love the motives of this company and can only hope that more people hear about the wonderful work that they do for women like you and me.

You can find Who Made Your Pants in the UK Subscription Directory in the sidebar and at http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk/.