Category Archives: life

10 Tips for Holiday Preparation

It’s finally the heat of summer! Good, old June has rolled up on our calendars once more, making way for tank tops and sun lotions. Well, if you live anywhere outside of London, that is, because all we get here are less clouds and more rain! But anyway, the perk of June is that most of us begin planning holidays and beach retreats. Dreams slowly surface of careless, sunny days next to the water, where a good book and a cold drink are the only worries you’d possibly have. So, inspired by this, today’s article is designed to allow for your ideal trip to happen smoothly. Being a forgetful bunny is something I, myself, suffer from, so the importance of good prep is always priority numero uno.

Here are ten of my tips for a better holiday preparation!

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1. Checklist everything!

In fact, make a checklist of the checklists you need to make! Okay, maybe that’s a bit excessive, but a few simple reminder notes are always welcome. I normally make a clothing list, an equipment list and a necessities list, because those make a nice foundation for eliminating any mishaps and forgotten chargers! But go nuts, twist your lists around the specific holiday requirements you have and start filling those out.

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Bonus tip: Start your checklists early! I begin mine a whole month before departure, just to make sure I have enough heads up if purchases need to be made, or if specialised equipment has to be acquired. Giving yourself space is the best addition to a complete checklist.

2. Weigh your suitcase. 

Most airlines allow for 20 kilograms of luggage, and that sounds like a great, big variety of stuff. Absolute mountains to pack, right? But consider this – a suitcase could weigh up to 7kg, which pretty much takes up a fourth of your overall allowance. Now, most of you could easily skip this step if all you’re packing are bathing suits and kaftan dresses, cause those are like negative weight. But should you plan on carrying diving accessories, wetsuits, shortboards or any potential objects that could end up shifting the scale – I’d recommend knowing your numbers.

Bonus tip: Soft suitcases with aluminium handles are some of the lightest ones on the market and they are largely available in travelling stores. If your present luggage bag ends up being a hefty bite, save it for smaller trips and invest in a skinnier one. They are also better for bulky packing in the winter ski season!

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 3. Check the health boards.

Sometimes there could be a flu that you need to be aware of, or a specific virus making its way around your holiday spot. So to avoid catching it, make sure to read up on any news or information concerning outbreaks in the area. That way, if you need a quick boost to your immune system, there’s plenty of time to supplement with vitamin C. Alternatively, depending on how exotic you’re aiming for, check if any vaccinations need to be made. Equatorial regions tend to have a slight bug and mosquito problem, which is another point to bare in mind. Nothing ruins a good trip more than itchy spots all over your body! Plus, they don’t tan well. Do a bit of research and save yourself a basket of unwanted trouble. Seriously.

Bonus tip: A good place to do research is the Travel Health Organisation website, which has live outbreak alerts and country-specific data. Check it regularly before the trip and all should be swell.

4. Get yourself a countdown.

Countdowns are great should you need a gentle reminder of time. If you’re going on a physically challenging trip, such as a hiking trail or a long sail, a great idea would be to bulk a little and prep your body for the strain. Keeping an eye on your regime is made much easier by paying attention to the weeks or days that you have left to train. Trying to chisel the perfect beach booty? Great! Set regular goals in your countdown and experience first hand just how motivating they can get.

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Bonus tip: The best place to keep said countdown is an in-your-face spot, which means either cell phone or desktop computer. For my mobile (Android), I normally use Countdown Days by SMSROBOT LTD. It has very nifty widgets and looks pretty!

5. Leave a key behind.

This tip is more concerned with the safety of your home while you are away than anything else. Call up your best bud and ask if they could harbour a key to your house or flat, just in case any documents have to be acquired during your holiday or if you are waiting for an expensive package. It also allows them to water your plants, DVR your favourite shows and make sure everything stays nice, clean and safe!

Bonus tip: When I say leave them a key, I do not mean hide it under the mat or over the door frame, okay? That is the absolute opposite of safe and beware of the claws! Hang it on a pretty keychain, maybe the one you got from Italy when you were on that family retreat, and hand it over in person. There, emergencies avoided!

6. Spring clean.

Talking about house and garden, why not have a little clean-up in the week before you leave? That saves a tonne of trouble when you get back, because the last thing you’d want after a long flight and heaps of heavy luggage dragging… Is to come home and worry about the laundry and dishes. Do future you a favour and keep things presentable. The next time you shout home, sweet home, it’s gonna be for a happy reason, not a daunting one.

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Bonus tip: If you’re willing to take the extra step, get all washing machine and home clothes on stand-by. That minimises the efforts even further!

7. Get your tech in check.

If you’re like me and one camera is never enough, or maybe there’s an entire bag dedicated to electrics and accessories, then make sure to double up. Stock up on extra batteries, film roll, brush up on your lenses and screens, make sure everything has caps and appropriate cables. Any power banks that you like to carry around should be fully charged and ready, tripods should have their plates and screws, water housings should be sparkling clean. Those are the basics, don’t be afraid to spread your wings and be the tech geek, I know you can be. Just make sure no necessity is left behind.

Bonus tip: I use a USB cable with multiple extensions such as this (put here for demonstration purposes, I actually own a different one) with my power bank. It saves you trying to untangle all of your larger, separate cables on the go and they are usually very light and compact!

8. Budget planning.

You’re already splashing out on a great vacation and an exotic location. There’s no need to splurge beyond the point of no return, because that would only cause you stress along the way. So, in order to prepare for the trip, do a little finance maintenance. Calculate the maximum you’re able to spend on the entire duration of your holiday, and then split it around your days accordingly. Some days might need more, others could need less, it’s up to you to decide. But, for anyone wanting to be mindful of their savings – this tip is a must.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.34.40Bonus tip: Portion your money in envelopes labeled with the days they correspond to. Don’t unseal a new envelope unless its day has come. Doing this creates an amplified sense of boundary, which is helpful when keeping on a lower budget. Obviously, shall emergency cash be needed, rip those things up, but in other scenarios – stack them tidy in your luggage.

9. Familiarise yourself with customs.

Knowing the local community can make your holiday much more rewarding and joyful. A habit perfectly acceptable in England could be offensive in Thailand or Greece, even if it happens to be a minor one such as pointing a finger. Do you slurp your food or do you eat quietly? Should you be barefoot or are shoes a sign of respect? Different cultures might have different answers to those questions, so sit down one morning, sip a cup of coffee and spare a few minutes for some healthy research.

Bonus tip: Basic interactions are also a good area to explore. What I mean are things like how much to tip your waiter and how to compliment your butler. When you make other people happy, simply with professing knowledge of their culture, you will make yourself happy, too.

10. Weather check!

I left this tip for last, because it seems very obvious to me. I’m going to Cuba in September, so it should be hot, right? Or I’m heading for some ski adventures in December, the Alps always have snow. Here’s where you could very easily slip into disaster. For example, summer means hurricane season for a lot of tropicScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.41.00al and equatorial areas, so it would be a grand idea to have a look at those rain prognoses! Heading for a snowboarding feat could be hard if it has ceased to snow or there are raging storms. Connect this tiny research exercise with my previous tip and you’ll be good and ready for a great holiday.

Bonus tip: Sometimes, weather forecasts could be very vague if you’re having to check them months in advance. What I do in these cases is pay a tiny visit to TripAdvisor and read up on other people’s experiences in that time of the year. Maybe they could prep me even better for what’s to come.


Well, here we are at the end of my tips. Hopefully these inspired you even a little bit to go book a gorgeous holiday right this instant! Everyone deserves a time to enjoy themselves and relax away from the world. You should do the same!

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A Carnivorous Traitor: My Choice In Veganism

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Rewind the tape back seven whole days, when the plate on my table consisted of chicken strips, spicy wings and mayonnaise dips. You’d find me munching on a Five Guys burger or a Domino’s pizza, blissfully ordering KFC cheesecakes for dessert with a hefty side of milkshake. A diet, which had been hammered into my brain since early puberty, when I’d reach for anything cheap and easy, as opposed to forming consideration in nutrition.

As Dr. Alejandro Junger would gently put it – I had stopped eating food and was instead surviving off of food-like products.

Now, going back into my family history, we find an abundance of farms and countryside traditions. I grew up in a small town, where everybody had animals and most suppers consisted of according derivatives. We had cold, harsh winters where grandmothers would stack beef cutlets and can chicken soups to attempt and preserve our warmth. This lifestyle had been passed through generations for hundreds of years. Our animals were treated with respect until the day they were too old or too ill and would have to be put down. Only then did we find a reason to consume them. Mostly, cows, pigs and chickens were a part of the community’s agricultural system, limited as it was, and they helped us grow tomatoes and potatoes. Whenever a herbivorous friend passed, we couldn’t afford to waste their food source. Grasping only what the Earth gives you can be an exiguous find, especially high along the mountain ranges. Long story short – we made do and that meant meat.

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Today I find myself in London, among twenty-three million other citizens. An overcrowded city, which is struggling for air and space. Supermarkets and independent sellers have to compete with their prices in order to feed as many people as possible. This means that sometimes their farms turn into factories and morality becomes a weakness, rather than a strength. Large hangers equate to increased simultaneous production per single farmer, which thereby reducing labour costs. Push safety laws to their very brink and you can feed the “produce” hormone-infused supplements, rather than natural ingredients like grain, seed and plants. This forces animals to grow faster and bigger, making them suitable for market early, which once again speeds up the manufacturing process. We no longer put them down, we slaughter them by the hundreds of thousands.

The result is a dark room with a sea of chickens, whose breasts are so big and swollen, they collapse to the ground, unable to carry their own weight. Cows fed and milked in metal cubicles, where all bodily functions can be made in one standing position. Pigsties left ridden with feces, kept perpetually dirty despite their confinement. These are some of animal farming’s severest cases and I would like to acknowledge that not all holdings are like this. To me, the very idea of such existence, even on a small scale, is more than disappointing – it is increasingly frightening. But I shan’t make this article about cruelty, I don’t wish to make it a propaganda-like piece or word it to be perceived as such. This is merely my own journey and reasoning to change.

If you are interested on learning more about this side of the topic, however, I could recommend a few good watches, which are conveniently available on Netflix. Some of them include “Hungry For Change” (2012), “Food, Inc.”  (2008) and “Food Matters” (2008). Probable exhibition of unethical animal treatment is present, so do beware if you are on the squeamish side.

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My lengthy opposition to becoming vegan was that plants are also organisms. Just like us, they breathe and rest, they feed and grow. So what justifies killing a vegetable more than it does a cow? One argument, which has been presented time and time again is that flora has no brain. It has no thought process. Despite this, we need vegetation to survive on this planet, because we rely on the oxygen it produces for us. Do those two balance each other out? Maybe.

Another is that humans were designed to be primarily herbivorous. Let’s take a look at our distant cousins – the chimpanzees, who have a similar digestive system to ours. They are omnivores, meaning to feed off of anything their habitat provides. Upon closer inspection, we see that equates to the vast variety of plants and fruits available to them, alongside small insects. Occasionally, chimps have also been known to hunt mammals, the key word here being, you guessed it – occasionally. We are wired in a very similar way! Another mammals’ meat could be eaten often, but not as a primary source of protein and nutrition. It is a part of our evolutionary make-up to hunt and feast, but that does not mean there are no other options for humans to be healthy as a species and even gather benefits from a plant-oriented existence.

For me, frankly, there is no winning side. Animals get treated badly, plants have been notoriously abused with chemicals for a multitude of years, humans incorporate both of them into the production machine. However, I cannot expect to survive with longevity and vibrancy on a diet purely consisting of meat. So, the scales have weighed in the opposite direction, which now makes me a vegan.

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It all boils down to one accident, which happened not so long ago in a kingdom called England. I was standing in my kitchen, contemplating some late lunch recipes, when I decided to make roast chicken. It would feed me for at least two days, which meant I could concentrate on other things in the meantime. So far, so good, I have made roast chicken with sea salt a million times before. It is perhaps the easiest way to make a delicious and simple meal.

I took the whole chicken out of my fridge and went to wash it off in the sink. But as I opened its packaging and ran the cold, tap water, a sudden wave of emotion came over me. I felt sad. No, I felt horribly sad for this poor animal, who I had never known or been friends with. I hadn’t grown up with it or pet its feathers. It was a chicken, which had never seen me either, who now lay dead in my hands, because I wanted a quick bite for lunch. I felt strangely ashamed and selfish, but I carried on with my day as if nothing had happened at all.

I lived with meat for another few months, until last week came around, when I woke up in the morning and decided that today was one of change. I would begin a new lifestyle, supporting animal rights and dignity the best way I knew how to – through caring for them and not consuming them.

Please, do not take this as a call for action. No one in my family or friend circle is vegan or vegetarian and that is okay. I am not here to attempt and convert anyone into a new non-dairy, non-egg, non-animal religion. I respect your choice, whatever that may be. Supporting animal rights can be done in many different ways, being vegan is simply one of them. And when I look back through the years and wonder how it all started, I’ll come back to this article and remind myself why I began and where I was headed.

Thank you for sticking with me this Tuesday!

See you next week.

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Mango’s Killer Jacket Game

To all my peeps in London, with love, comes this highly targeted post on the topic of jackets! We have been experiencing what I could only imagine is an Arctic chill and there is no sweeter escape than spending some cash on a new coat. It’s a matter of survival, after all. Let’s be real.

Wanting to sniff some lucrative deals around, I embraced on a journey through the new collections. What I stumbled upon was a treasure chest. The same golden nugget we are sharing here today – Mango’s amazing spring/summer jacket line! Obviously by some sort of cruel mistake, I seem to have ignored this brand for a number of years, only to re-discover it this month. Just in time for the perfect, little splurge! Here are some of the apparel feasts, from the fashion gods, passeth down to us – mortals!

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What I’m looking for in a new jacket is specific shades and colours! This season I’m betting on the all-neutral wave with a random pop of colour, first of all, the black and white hype second, and thirdly – an unusual pattern style. As I mentioned in my “Fashion Block” this month, tiny, repetitive structures are in, being accompanied by equally exaggerated imagery. While the first set of coats were a more beige and brown tone, I’ve picked the second stack in greens. Both of them will give you a little elegant note, while remaining the signature fresh rebellion stamp.

Next, we move on to the blacks, followed by pieces with floral detailing. I think I’d be wise to invest in both. My finances argue.

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The Cool Trainer | JAN/16

Lately I have found myself in a bit of a predicament, ladies and gentlemen (mostly ladies though, let’s be real). Alongside this year’s resolution to acquire new style, there has arrived a fascination with shoes. I can no longer be satisfied with a bimonthly pair of Vans and I can hear my bank account crying tears of poverty. Nonetheless, investing in a nice, well-made pair of foot candy is going to become a part of my life. Having fed off that inspiration, I come to you today with my top picks for Jan/Feb trainers. We all like being comfy, we all like an easy style. So, dig right in.

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The first Common Projects X shoe fits perfectly into the grunge comeback we’re expecting this and next month. Anything that a couture Nirvana would wear, you want! Secondly, we have classic black trainers with a pop of blue/green. Oversized patterns and small, repetitive ones are equally featured in Vogue and Elle. Thirdly, a must-have Vans species, which is a necessity in any closet. Universal and easy to style. What more could you need for a lazy day out?

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These last Hender Scheme kicks would be perfect for February, which gives me enough time to save up money for them. As Miu Miu’s new SS/16 collection has proven – dusty pinks are the way forward.

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Here come the eighties. Whether you go for an all-white Nike, which you can pair with anything black and white for a trendy look, or the popping D&G reds, there’s no hit and miss. Add playfulness with your formal casual office outfits, why not? Life’s too short to play it safe with shoes and I encourage all forms of experimentation strongly.

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We talked about patterns, right? Oversized, minimalistic, juxtaposing, repetitive, anything goes. Honestly, these red and blue Tory Burch trainers are to die for. Someone get me a half-way-birthday present, please! I’ll pay you back in hugs and kisses.

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January Beauty Treats

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If you follow my blog, you know that I comfortably fall into the category of tomboy. That includes my use of make-up, which happens to be rather shameful. Foundation and eye liner are the only products I use on a daily basis. In the world of girls, this translates as medieval level of craftsmanship. As a part of my new year resolutions, I have vouched to pamper myself a little more and amp the stylish clothes away from teenage dirtbag. At least I can be a shiny barbie on the outside and still be the same reject on the inside, right?

So, in light of this, I went for a humble shopping trip in the mall next door. I ventured past jungles of bottles and things with scary pumps. They confused me, so I steered clear. Then, being five in the mental department, I saw shelves full of colours, so I thought – yep, this is my final destination. Long story short, I ended up with a bunch of lipsticks and nail polishes. So here are the chosen ones! Enjoy.

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My first pick was sparkles. There’s an eighties come back in the new fashion season, so I thought my nails should reflect accordingly. The Rimmel Love Glitter’s “All Glittered Up” (032) contains tiny shards of red, pink and blue. There’s a metallic finish to it, which is what you’d be looking for in a top coat.

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I didn’t stop with just one. In my defence, the Love Glitter line is entirely too addictive. It’s like sugar for my nails. So, I ended up purchasing “A Crush On You” (034), too. It contains the exact same shards, except in metallic blues and greens. Colourful grunge is making a return and I’m here to embrace it like a long-lost puppy.

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Making a nice segway to the topic of blues, here you can see Essie’s “Lapis of Luxury” (94). It’s a soft, ocean-like tint, which not only reflects the surfer chick in me, but is also trending. I’d pair it up with some of Dolce & Gabbana’s winter collection. If you need a block colour to invest in, any shade of blue is the way to go.

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Next up, I thought I’d buy a necessary tone of neutral beige. Like I mentioned, beauty products have not been my strongest point the past years, so this January I’m starting from scratch. This shade of Rimmel Salon PRO is called “Soul Session” (237). It’s from the Kate Moss’s collaboration for the brand, which also has some of my all-time favourite lip sticks. This reminds me of Kanye’s Yeezy collection on the runways, which concentrated on beiges and dull tones. They have a lot of space for juxtaposition, so the options here are endless.

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Just when you thought I was done with the metallic obsession. Just hear me out here, why add shimmery specs when you can go all out on fabulous eighties? It’s a no brainer. But seriously, this would be a banger for extravagant client meetings and night life adventures around London. This particular bottle is Barry M’s Nail Paint in “Arabian” (549).

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We’re graduating from nail polish and entering the multiverse of lip sticks. I have here, in my magical hand, what is in fact a Christmassy shade. However, the saturated, dark scarlet is freckled with golden specs, which makes it rather timeless. Due to my Balkan complexion, which is unfortunate in most situations, I can pull off deeper colours better than lighter ones. L’Oreal’s “Cristal Cappuccino” (362) is almost a black bean colour, which makes it grunge-like, and therefore January approved!

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Second up, this is a lip stick I keep repurchasing, because of its versatility. It’s Rimmel London’s “Vintage Pink” (180) and it so happens to be a major keeper in my books. It’s lighter than “Cristal Cappuccino” with what I consider is very close to a dusted rose kind of tint. It looks great on its own for daily use, or layered on top of bright reds, turning them into a plum colour.

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Last on my list we have MaxFactor’s “Mulberry” (685)! I pulled away from the reds and decided on a pink addition to my newly-found collection. The name describes its shade perfectly, it’s a very berry colour, which has shimmer finer than “Cristal Cappuccino”. It would be great for afternoon errands out and about, especially complimented with a lighter outfit.

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I’ve been developing a scary perfume addiction the past week and this baby was on a sixty percent discount. So, it would have constituted as a sin not to invest in it. Tommy Hilfiger is one of my top brands for clothing, thus making my decision-maker confident in spending money on their fragrance. It’s a flowery smell, which I can best describe as a spring, countryside morning. I would suit everyday use best, although you could pull it off on any event!

Here we go, these are my beauty treats for week one of January. I’ll make these mini hauls whenever I invest some cash into pampering products, which I expect will be around twice a month. Hopefully, by the end of 2016, I’ll be an educated beauty guru to my best standards, which in the real world are probably entirely too low. Anyhow, have a grand day, have an amazing month! See you next Tuesday.

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Film Reviews: “Joy” (2016)

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“Joy” has been a very long-awaited drama by David O. Russell and his usual ensemble of screen favourites, which I am sure you’ve heard of by now. It’s been gracing every underground station and double-decker bus, after all! Jennifer Lawrence has taken on the eponymous role, Robert De Niro plays her whimsical father, and Bradley Cooper is a savvy, television salesman. What an intricate, delicately-woven story writers Russell and Annie Mumolo have given creation to! Although I can tell you right now, the film deserves a prime spot on your January must-do list, let me explain why that is.

Joy Mangano is a divorced mother of two, who lives in a house with ex-husband Tony, mother Terri and gran Mimi. Their domestic abode is a chaotic mixture of financial strains, zero sleep, cheesy television operas and a daunting lack of any perspective for the future. Life is a boring, customer service work and a messy, broken home. Her father Rudy circulates dating adverts and services, coming in and out of his daughter’s life. Thinking it must be destiny, he begins a serious relationship with wealthy widow Trudy. One day Joy and her family find themselves on Trudy’s yacht, where after a wine spilling accident, Joy is left with cut-up hands. This gives her the ingenious idea of a revolutionary mop, which doesn’t need to be touched to be washed. It becomes clear that Joy has had brilliant invention ideas in the past, primarily as a child, which however, would get shut down by unsupportive parents. This time she isn’t letting go of her talent. Instead, she is more than determined to use it. Joy crafts her first Miracle Mop with help from best friend Jackie. Trudy is slowly persuaded to invest money in the product, thus giving Joy a business of her own. Step-sister Peggy is outlined as the most unsupportive and selfish being in their midst, constantly envious of any success Joy might accomplish. What the airport-worker-turned-inventor doesn’t know is that she is falling on a path of disappointments. Trudy gets her a shady contractor in California, Peggy and Rudy coil together behind closed doors, a second mortgage on the house is on the way and other people are out to steal Joy’s clever idea. Tony, being a close advisor to Joy, pushes her a slot with Neil Walker – an executive at QVC. After a small trip-up, Joy decides the bets way to sell her mop is appear on television herself. The sales begin piling, numbers keep rising. The Miracle Mop becomes a triumph. However, the world is closing in and Joy is in the centre. Most people she has trusted seem to have ulterior motives, and there’s a bigger battle waiting to be fought. Will the Miracle Mop be the answer to Joy’s prayers? Will she save her family from homelessness and bankruptcy, or are too many people trying to destroy her way to success?

Firstly, let me start off by saying this tandem is not a newly-found one. Last time we saw David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, they were sitting at the 85th Academy Awards. “Silver Linings Playbook” was a cinematic victory among audiences and critics alike. “Joy” pulls on some of the same strings – damaged families, broken people, subjectivity to a seemingly hopeless protagonist, who receives a chance to become their best self. In that aspect, the production is once again successful in its predecessor’s strongest points. That’s one of the reasons we’re hearing heaps of Oscar nods this year, “Joy” happens to be a safe guess for most.

Jennifer Lawrence is gentle in her madness, gracious in her blinding disappointment and fearless in the matters of her business. She is a well-developed character, who sees a lot of change and transforms along with it. Although she isn’t a glamorous, flamboyant and gorgeous figure, we still cheer the rugged housewife on. She makes the working class easily relatable, which is one of Lawrence’s greatest strengths. There is a quality in her acting, which combines the girl next door and the female warrior, intertwining their best and worst features together. In that way, she is unvanquished in “Joy”.

Virginia Madsen plays mother Terri, whose fear of bracing life after divorce is more than evident. She barely leaves her bedside and involves a great amount of time in a soap opera show so outrageously exaggerated, it manages to seep into Joy’s dreams. Madsen crafts a pitiful look at an older, single woman, who suffers in finding happiness. She manages to create an easily dislikable woman and parent, who steps up to redemption in the very last second.

That’s exactly the opposite of what I can say about Robert De Niro’s Rudy. He starts off being in the focus of better parenting. He has moved on with life, being humorous and enjoyable in light of his own, failing romantic chaos. However, as our story progresses, we peel away the layers of caring father, and reach an oblivious and reluctant man, who makes a show of love that isn’t there. We learn to feel disgusted with him and instead, realise how important Terri really is.

If this were a Shakespearian play, Peggy and Trudy would be the vile witches, while Tony and Jackie’d fill the shoes of queen guards. Although all four roles are secondary, that does not reduce their influence in the story. We connect to the sides they represent a lot better with the strength of their characters.

Over all, “Joy” is a film, which portrays struggle to regain lost hope and the possibilities life holds for those willing to enter the battle. David O. Russell tells this true story with a diverse glimpse at filmmaking and a first class script. Jennifer Lawrence is truly bathing in positive recognition for it, which is well deserved. A great January watch and perhaps even a DVD collection entry. As far as dramas are concerned, “Joy” pushes its way through to the finish line.

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Christmas Film Reviews: “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

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The number eleven spot on our Christmas countdown falls in the hands of Tim Burton. I mean honestly, were you really expecting otherwise? With limited competition in the stop-motion festive variety, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” snatches a prime slot in the winter hall of fame. Although it features a cast you’ll almost certainly be unfamiliar with, that only contributes to the flavour – adding a degree of authenticity to otherwise truly phantasmagoric scenes.

Chris Sarandon enters the role of Jack Skellington, a poetic and smiley scrag, who lives in one of six tree kingdoms. Surrounded by ghouls, witches, zombies and vampires (among other creepy crawlies), his gloomy life in Halloween Town seems not quite as exciting as the past remembers. Screams and cries no longer bring Jack a sense of satisfaction, a distinct lack of deeper purpose and dullness haunt his last return home. As a healthy concoction of horror, comedy, romance, fantasy and musical, Tim Burton expresses these feelings in a graveyard song, which romantically changes the course of Skellington’s destiny. Entirely by chance, he stumbles upon Christmas Town, a neighbouring land engulfed with sparkly decorations and hearty laughter. At once, Jack finds himself with a burning obsession in mind. What is this pure bliss and who’s the jolly, old man hauling “Ho-ho-ho!” from a fancy red robe? Soon enough the whole community gets involved, determined to recreate the festivities in their own, sinister way.

As mentioned somewhere in the above lines, I’d point out where, but I want to see you suffer, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a stop-motion animation. For the unfamiliar souls on my reader crew, this art form includes miniature figurines, which are manipulated into action still by still, effectively creating a fluid motion. Back in 1993 when the film first made its debut in cinemas, arguably one of the most famous pioneers in the genre were Aardman Animations. You’d know some of their work such as “Wallace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run” and “Flushed Away” from general childhood playground tiddle-taddle. Practices was still developing in order to create the feature films we see released in present day, which flow with admirable smoothness in motion. This means that every now and then you’d be able to spot slightly rougher, chopped up segments, which will send you straight into a nineties throwback. Don’t panic, that’s one of the movie’s biggest positives, embrace the journey and strap in while it lasts. The genuinely charming clumsiness is a gift, rather than a set-back.

The storyline jumps from one action to the next in an engaging string of events. Not a dull moment exists in this swirl of dismal fright and optimistic Yule merriments. Imagine the film like a swirly marshmallow, which ties its flavours to utmost perfection. Thematically, we see notes of compassion, camaraderie and hope, which shines a guiding light into the otherwise dark future of Halloween Town. The songs are poetically written, expressing accurate emotions with few simple lines.

The cuteness factor is brought to us by Zero – a ghost puppy, which is just as cuddly and functional as your own dog, except it features a glowing, red nose, sweetly reminiscent of Rudolph’s knocker. And if that isn’t adorable enough already, he is in the shape of a floating sheet, showcasing the nearly extinct classic portrayal of spirits. The dream pet all ’round! Zero’s as much a part of the plot as master Skellington himself, hovering above the soil like only a loyal friend could.

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Catherine O’Hara is in the part of Sally, a toxicologist, runaway experimentation. Despite her frightening rag-doll body, sawn together with thick, blue stitches, she is adorable and lovable just as much as Zero is. Jack inevitably develops affections for her, which culminate in the resolution of the film, so make sure you don’t get drunk enough by then to give slumber priority. It’s a heart-tugging moment of finding love in a hopeless place. It’s two creatures of the night connecting beyond the boundaries of terror.

To conclude, this animation is a film just as much for kids as it is for grown ups. I would dare call “The Nightmare Before Christmas” a timeless classic, full of imagination and creativity. It bursts the seams of traditional festive tales, merging seasons and stories together into a bigger celebration of the life beyond fairytales. I could only finish this off by recommending a nice cup of hot chocolate, impaled with a cinnamon stick and sprinkled with dusting sugar for this one.

Enjoy the nightmarish Christmas, everyone.

Stay awesome!

Megs x

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Scrooged”

Well, folks, reporting from the gateway to my Christmas countdown, I must admit excitements are high this morning. If we were a Dr. Seuss story, my writing desk would be covered in a thin layer of frost right about now. The coffee would be comically frozen on its very edge and I’d be sporting horizontal pig tails. However, luckily most of us are having a jolly, old time next to the fire on boring planet Earth. Sit tight with your gingerbread latte and let the magical words of wisdom carry you to the land of film. As promised, the kick start to all twelve reviews is going to be an all-time classic retelling of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”.

“Scrooged” follows the skeletal structure of the tale you know and love, but wraps it masterfully with an eighties layer of hairspray and glitter. Starring the unmissable Bill Murray, a comedy legend of the modern day, and directed by Richard Donner, a.k.a. that dude who brought us “The Goonies” and a bunch of Superman flicks you’re probably too young to have seen, I would personally classify this film as a national treasure.

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The humbug is back, only this time not as a slouched, old man, but rather young and reputable Frank Cross, the sole director of an influential television studio. His unsympathetic and heartless way with others quickly becomes evident, largely through the relationship he holds with personal assistant Grace.  On the verge of Christmas Eve, a golfing pal from the past comes back for a tall glass brandi and an eerie warning of trouble. I find it necessary to mention said buddy is long deceased and fashions a cute, white mouse in the crevice of his skull. He speaks of visitors who are to change Frank’s sculpted and selfish attitude to life. That night marks the beginning of a spiritual journey through time and space, which shakes the producer’s hard-earned beliefs and position. We embark on an adventure along the poor and wealthy New York City, where festivities are in the heat of the Christmas season. First comes a mysterious slash reckless taxi driver, who is in desperate need of a Colgate intervention. Second, we’re met with a crazed, quirky fairy whose voice rings higher than Santa’s signature sleigh bells. Do enjoy her healthy dose of slaps and tugs, however, as those made me laugh the hardest. Third and last we encounter Death, who points with bony fingers towards the forlorn consequences of an egocentric existence. A grim picture indeed, full of loneliness and tears.

Murray is superb in the role of a cold scrooge. It directly juxtaposes his portrayal of Venkman – ghost busting professional and sarcasm extraordinaire, which warmed spirits a mere four years before this picture’s release. His dry humour sticks to your teeth like grandma’s moist fruit cake, and his hair forces you into a cringe fit every time it’s fully framed. But you know what, we enjoy every living second of it, sheerly out of appreciation for the art of old humour. Lord knows comedy has evolved a lot throughout the years from snappy, relevant, well-written comebacks to Adam Sandler’s purely magical fart noises. Frank becomes a well-rounded character we comfortably distaste and later admittedly care for, blurring mistakes of the past through fresh, Christmas hope.

Claire, played by Karen Allen, is his festive counterpart and long-time romantic interest. She volunteers at a homeless shelter and enjoys hobbies such as bringing soup, hitting people with convenience shop doors and appearing in places really, really fast. Needless to say, the two belong with each other despite their vast, almost unbridgeable differences. However much it pains me to say this – Bill and Karen have close to no chemistry and the entire affair falls somewhat flat. The hard-drilled idea of their love from the original roman resurrects the efforts partially, but not fulfillingly.

Alfre Woodard, who you might know from the controversial programme “True Blood”, is clever and quick-witted personal assistant Grace. Her financially unstable family is a lovable bunch of jolly kids and a young outcast, who holds a heavy personal story. They are a ‘modern’ equivalent of the Cratchit household, which manages to trigger Frank’s deeply buried sympathy. A performance convincingly divided in equal parts hopefulness and despair, truly balanced between the gloomy past and the opportunity of a brighter future.Alfre creates the significance behind her kin’s crossroads in a manner that leaves us no choice, but to care.

All in all, here’s the verdict – a cult Christmas classic, which supports the original themes and characters of “A Christmas Carol” whilst modernising them in a believable way. The words Bill Murray, eighties and sarcasm should drive you to the sofa by themselves. However, if you need a gentle nudge, I guarantee a rollercoaster of laughter, sorrow, astonishment and disgust all in the frame of one-hundred and four minutes. As far as festive film lists go, this is a must-watch.

Now sit back with a bowl of marshmallows and enjoy!

Stay awesome!

Megs x

 

Christmas Film Reviews Announcement

The fairy lights are up! Ginger cookies have officially become currency and eggnog is sipped by tired parents around the world in what could only be described as industrial quantities. The symptoms of Christmas have come tumbling through the boring lands of winter.

I have to admit, there is special bias reserved for my annual December months! The following thirty-one days of pure goodness happen to be my favourite time of year and not solely based on food reasons. Moreover, I’m sure that unconditional affection is shared throughout the kingdom, or at least I choose to firmly believe so in my mistletoe-covered heart. So, I have prepared a little blogging gift for the Santa fans in our frosty universe.

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As a part of the celebrations, we can all admit to watching more than a few inevitable and overly cheesy films. There is nothing wrong with skipping a night at the club to enjoy some magical you-time in front of Netflix. God knows the weather outside is wretched, unless you live in the equatorial regions, which I sadly do not. London is my habitat and the winds would make a polar bear run for cover. I’m sure that can somehow be proven by smart people of science who agree with my point.

Anyway, shooting straight to the topic in question! In the twelve days leading up to that big morning of worldly joy and presents, I plan to post twelve unmissable Christmas film reviews. I’ll make sure to put them up nice and early so that you can plan the eve for toffee apple tea and mince pies. Rely on me, world, for I shall make the final countdown as screamingly festive as humanly possible, because that is the only way to celebrate X-to-the-mas.

Starting Sunday the 13th of December, you can expect the very first commentary on the classic Murray tale of “Scrooged”! Hope you’ll love and cherish it!

Ta-ta, lovely elves of Christmas spirits!

I’ll enjoy myself a bottle of mulled wine. Yes, I said “myself”, and no, I care not for judgemental remarks. As a grown elf, I can make grown elf decisions.

Stay awesome!

Megs x

Announcement of the Space Variety | Space Wordsmith

Hello, creatures of various planetary arrangements.

I know what you’re thinking and no… I wouldn’t say that in real life as far as I’m aware. For some reason I find that my poetic inclinations take a rather sharp turn when I write things on a blog page.

Word magic.

Anyway, as there was a bit of response to my “Entry Number Three” post, I thought I might mention my other blog – Space Wordsmith, which is the larger scale of that piece.

It’s a recent project, a diary of a woman who is on a mission in deep space. Although it was meant as fiction, I find that most of it stems from my real day-to-day life, which is then translated into space talk. I thought it’d be a cool, little read to have, so… Feel free to check it out if you enjoyed “Entry Number Three”.

That’s all for now! Stay awesome and I love you all.

Meggie x