Sunday, July 27, 2014

THE XCERTS IN CAMDEN




After a name change, fresh lick of paint, and five year run, never has Camden’s Black Heart felt as hot as it did when The Xcerts took to the stage during their July headline tour. Hailing from Aberdeen and Exeter, the rockers were met by a sea of sweaty bodies that did more than raise the temperature of the busy and overcrowded room.

Formed in 2001, the band’s set proved practice really does make perfect with effortless riffs and a vitality that was dominated by brotherly energy.

Standing out as a well-oiled unit, the three-piece allowed fans to delve into the past, with classics such as ‘Do You Feel Safe?’ as well as relish in the future with recent material from their upcoming release due out this October.

Despite only making it’s video-debut a few hours previous, new single ‘Shaking In The Water’ has developed a name for itself as a signature staple in The Xcerts’ headline sets. The band have been playing it live for quite some time now, with it being a clear fan-favourite amongst both older and younger members of the audience. Tonight was no different.

The crowd was eager to join in with vocalist Murray Macleod, as they effortlessly belted out the catchy chorus and danced along to the upbeat, 60s-style backbone, with the track having the fierce ability to get the crowd moving in a head-bopping, shout-along frenzy.

In midst of the liveliness, at times the three-piece slowed down the pace with softer ballads such as ‘Aberdeen 1987‘. Written about his hometown, Macleod used this as his moment to live out the decadent rock star dream. At one point the vocalist let the crowd takeover completely as he stood center stage and encouraged the audience to sing along to the simple, yet distinctively relatable, lyrics.

Towards the end of the night the set went full circle where the band finished off with their most popular, and well-known, anthem ‘Slackerpop’. Once again, incorporating the crowd into the medley, the band’s stadium-esque take on the night highlighted how self-effacing the trio really is. Clearly humbled by the appreciative fan base they’ve built up over the years, it’s hard to see anything but a promising response to their forthcoming album. Watch this space.



WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Sammi Doherty via The Mixed Tape
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

SCATTERPIN SILVER UNICORN BANGLE



British by name and British by nature, Scatterpin Jewellery  take pride in their range of high-quality pieces, that are lashed with a quirky English aesthetic. Tea anyone? From bracelets to necklaces, the label are currently on a mission to give designs a breath of individuality by merging together on-trend fashion with heaps of fun. Nothing shows that more than the Silver Unicorn Bangle pictured above.

As soon as I saw the piece I fell in love with it. Designed by Rebecca Douglas, an up and coming designer from Edinburgh, the bangle takes influence from the fantasy world of unicorns. Unicorns? Pink? Cue the girly shrill. Sure, at first glance it may seem a little child-like, but I think many of us are still children at heart. So what better way to - subtly- show it than by living out our Peter Pan fantasy through our accessories? Not to mention, the design fits in perfectly with the 90s slogan/motif trend of the SS14 season. Talk about win-win.

Priced at £30.00, the piece is high-quality, with the strap being genuine leather and charm being sterling silver. The clasp is easy to use - with it being a simple click and lock system - and extremely sturdy. Let's face it, there's nothing worse than wearing your favourite bracelet for a day out, only to come home and realise you've lost it.

Adding to the plus points the product is part of the brand's new Stacks range. As the name suggests, the range encourages budding fashionistas to invest in multiple pieces and stack them up. That means you don't have to pick between your favourite bracelets, instead you can wear them all at once!  As if I needed anymore persuasion! But what about you? What do you think of the piece? Leave a comment below.

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews

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Friday, July 25, 2014

ATLAS ORIGINS ARGAN OIL






It's no secret that argan oil is the holy grail of beauty products. Ideal for both your hair and skin, the must-have is packed with phenolic acids that help neutralise fatty acids and aid cell repair and growth. I'll take five bottles please! However, one thing which still remains a secret is where exactly do we buy this miracle product from? Sure, there are certain shampoos or skin creams which incorporate argan oil in the solution, but it's very rare you can buy bottle of pure argan oil... unless you're relaxing on a boat in Morocco, which sadly I'm not.

Recently I was contact by Atlas Origins and asked to review a bottle of their Pure Organic Argan Oil. Priced at £12.99, the product is a multi use oil that can be used to tackle a number of different areas, the first being your hair. Just like many organic treatments or shampoos which incorporate argan oil, Atlas Origins' product can be used as a hair mask to help encourage growth and repair damaged locks. Simply wet your hair and apply a small amount of the oil onto it, before leaving for an hour and washing off with shampoo and your usual shower products. Overall I was extremely impressed with the results of using the oil as a hair treatment. Quickly after I washed it off my strands began to feel smoother and shiner. It also helped tame frizzy fly aways. Talk about summer miracle!

The second way you can use the oil is by rubbing it over your skin. As previously mentioned, argan oil is great for cell repair and helps keep skin look hydrated and healthy. If you can put up with the slightly greasy texture it's also great for applying on your hands and nails, due to it aiding growth and longevity. Equally, if you suffer from scarring, such as ache scars, stretch marks or cellulite, it will help repair cells and break down fat. Although this won't get rid of the problem completely, by breaking down fat it reduces the appearance of the scar and in return helps improve your self confidence, especially during bikini season.

Overall I'm extremely impressed with the product and plan on buying it again. But what do you think? Have you ever used argan oil? Do you like the sound of Atlas Origins Pure Organic Argan Oil? Let me know in the comments below.

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

NEW YORK CITY TRAVEL DIARY















NEW YORK CITY TRAVEL DIARY

I've been lucky enough to visit a number of different countries and states recently and thought I'd share some of my favourite photos with you in a few up and coming blog posts. My favourite city is New York. I visited once in 2007 and once in 2013, and it's honestly one of the greatest places I've ever been to. Unlike London, it's a lot smaller and everything is in walking distance.

The whole city is bustling with creativity and there's plenty of things to do. For those wanting to engage in the more touristy activities there's obviously things like the Statue Of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Ground Zero. But for those who are want a slightly more relaxed holiday there's plenty of art galleries, department stores and quirky one off restaurants and bars. If anyone's interested I'm going to be writing a more detailed post about my experiences in the Big Apple. But in the meantime, tell me, have you ever been to New York? If so recommend some local hot spots in the comments below.

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HOW TO TACKLE A STUDENT KITCHEN


HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF A STUDENT KITCHEN

Let’s face it, student kitchens don’t tend to be the most salubrious spaces. They can be rundown, cramped and dirty. However, by applying a few simple principles to your student digs, you can help to ensure that your experiences in the kitchen are pleasant and productive.

KEEP IT CLEAN

One of the most off-putting things about many student kitchens is their tendency to accumulate rubbish, dirty dishes and general grime. No one wants to spend time in a room like this.

Keeping your cooking area clean and tidy should therefore be first on your agenda. If you suspect that your housemates may let standards slide, it’s a good idea to set up a cleaning rota. This can help ensure that everyone does their bit to keep the space spic and span and it can even prevent arguments further down the line.

It’s also worth investing in some decent cleaning supplies. Washing up gloves, cleaning chemicals, sponges, cloths and towels are all worthy additions to your shopping list. Meanwhile, bicarbonate of soda can prove useful if you’re trying to remove mildew from grouting.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO CONTACT YOUR LANDLORD

Even though you may not have the highest expectations when it comes to your student accommodation, you don’t have to put up with substandard facilities and equipment. If you find problems such as dripping taps, dodgy ovens and broken microwaves, get in touch with your landlord or letting agent. You might be surprised by how forthcoming improvements are and this could make a big difference to your quality of life.

INVEST IN DECENT COOKING EQUIPMENT

You might not be holding out for a Michelin star, but it’s handy to have access to some decent cooking equipment. Remember, you can take this with you when you go and it will help to make creating meals a more pleasurable and successful experience.

Good quality pans are a must and if your budget will only stretch to one or two of these, think about including a non-stick frying pan. As long as you treat these items well, they can last for a long time and they will come in handy when you’re preparing a range of meals, including omelettes and fry-ups. If you share your pans with your flatmates, make sure they know how to use and clean them properly.

It’s also helpful to have at least one good knife and, to go with this, you’ll need a chopping board. Other items that are well worth purchasing include an oven glove, can opener, corkscrew and hand blender. In addition, make sure you have some Tupperware containers to store any leftovers in.

ADD SOME PERSONALITY

If you plan to spend a decent amount of time in your kitchen, you should think about introducing some extra design touches to add personality. OK, so it may not be worth donning your dungarees and completely redecorating the place, but you can transform the look of the room by simply adding some posters or artwork. Photo collages can look great too.

Author bio: Anna Longdin writes regularly about kitchen design. She visits sites including Worktop Express® to ensure she’s always up to date on all the latest industry news and developments.

WORDS: Anna Longdin
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

HOW TO USE AFTERLIGHT



In the deep dark battle of social media, every blogger is looking out for ways to up their Instagram game. From cropped borders to various filters, one app which helps users improve their instagramming is Afterlight. Founded in 2013, the app allows you to edit photos using a number of different tools and features. I've been using Afterlight for years now and thought it was time to share some hint and tips on ways to improve pictures and making them insta-worthy.


BASIC ADJUSTMENTS

Once you've loaded your photo, a number of different tools will be available for you to play around with. The first ones I usually use are the adjustment sliders, where you can make pictures look brighter or warmer. You can also increase clarity which helps sharpen photos and make them look bolder. This is great when it comes to poor quality phone cameras, where the lighting is a little off and pictures are incredibly grainy. 



BORDERS/TEXT

As well as adjusting the colours/hue of your photo you can also change the shape via a variety of different borders and silhouettes. This is a good tool if you want to post a portrait photo on Instagram without it being cropped into a square. I use this for all my photos and think that adding a white frame give a the photo a nice touch and really makes the colours stand out. It also helps improve the quality of your photos as it's making them slightly smaller than if they were uploaded directly onto the Instagram.



FILTERS

Just like many apps nowadays, Afterlight also gives you the opportunity to add filters to photos. The filters vary in colour, texture and hue. Some filters are warmer or stronger than others, but whether it's Mulberry or my personal favourite Brook, Afterlight allows you to change the opacity, meaning you can add a filter which is 25% or 50% rather than a harsh 100% overlay. 



LIGHT LEAKS

On top of filters you can add light leaks. Exactly what the name suggests, these are streaks of colour which give photos an old school or summery feel. Unlike similar 'vintage style camera apps, in Afterlight you 'can change the colour of these light leaks. You also have the ability to rotate leaks and wrap them around the image.



SAVE AND UPLOAD

So there we have it. Once you've finished editing your photo simply choose which resolution you want to save it as and upload it to all your favourite sites. You can see more examples via my Instagram account. But what do you think? Have you ever used Afterlight? If not, would you ever use it? Leave a comment below. 

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews

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Monday, July 21, 2014

STUDENT WAYS TO SAVE MONEY


STUDENT WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

In midst of the drunken nights out, failed attempts at cooking a homemade meal and stress over exams, studying and hoovering, lets face it no one wants to tackle that tedious task, being a student does have its perks. It helps you realise that living on your own and fleeing the nest can be expensive. With sky high University bills and even larger living expenses, many students quickly come face to face with value for money and the need to save those hard earned pennies. I'm no different. On a day to day basis I have to juggle my Uni course, a part time job, writing for various magazines, PR for a clothing company and blogging. As glamorous as it seems, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't expensive, with meals out, travel and other essential buys, but thankfully I've come up with some nifty student ways to help save money.

CUT COSTS

The first and most obvious way to save money is to cut costs. Cutting costs can be something as simple as turning off the light when you leave the room or making sure the electric is switched off when you're not using it. Not only will this decrease thing like monthly bills but it also means you have more money to spend on the things you enjoy.

HUNT AROUND

As well as cutting costs, make sure to hunt around. There are some great websites which offer online deals or vouchers such as Student Beans and Voucher Codes. Websites such as these are a great way to save a few pennies - especially if you tend to eat out in restaurants or cafes. Equally, always keep an eye out for other offers. If you use National Rail or National Express a lot, why not invest in a coach or rail card? Often these will cost you a small amount, but in return you will get a third off travel for a whole year. Also some shops offer student discount, don't be afraid to ask.

KEEP YOUR CHANGE

No one likes loose change, but that doesn't mean you should just get rid of it! Keep all your change in a jar or money box. At the end of the month empty out the box and count the pennies. You'll be surprised at how much is there. I've been doing this for years and it's always a nice little treat finding out you've got an extra £20 to spend during a Boots or Topshop splurge. I'm luckily in the sense that my parents own a shop, so often they'll give me notes in exchange for the change, but for those of you who aren't that luckily there are machines at supermarkets that do exactly the same.

PRIORITISE WORK

If you lead a busy life, doing this, that and the other, it's always important to prioritise work. For example, I write and attend events for various magazines and PR companies, but if this got too involved with my part time job, I'd have to cut down my work load and focus on that. Once you begin to seek clarity, it quickly becomes obvious that certain things in life are more important than others, which will no doubt affect your income and lifestyle. As much as I love writing, it doesn't yet give me the liveable income my part time job does, thus making it lower down in my priority list and being one of the lesser expenses in my life. But what about you? What are your tips on saving money?

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

HOW TO TREAT WRINKLES


HOW TO TREAT WRINKLES

Not happy with your hair colour? Dye it. Not too keen on your new lip shade? Buy another. Not thrilled about wearing a bikini this summer? Workout. There's no denying it, when it comes to appearance some things are easier to fix than others. Sure, we can play around with our hair, face and figure, but it's slightly harder when it comes to the finer details like premature signs of ageing and wrinkles.

Wrinkles can be caused by many different factors: the primary one being UV. In a recent article Dr Joseph Ajaka, explored how overexposure to the sun not only increases the chance of skin cancer, but also reduces levels of hyaluronic acid and elastin in the skin. Equally Dr Ajaka identified the other causes of wrinkles including alcohol, smoking and coffee and surprisingly computers. Yes girls, I'm afraid to say an obsession with blogging isn't good for you skin as it leads to crows feet and frown lines. Yikes.

Thankfully, nowadays we live in a world where advancements in science and modern technology has helped create effective ways to treat wrinkles. Admittedly, a lot of these procedures have a hefty price tag, however most women who have undergone them claim they're worth it.

BOTOX

The first treatment, and most obvious one, is Botox. A form of anti-wrinkle injection, Botox is a safe, fast and effective way of improving fine lines and facial flaws. The injection is a fairly straightforward procedure delivered by a fine needle. Each area of the skin is injected five to ten times and no anesthetic is required, with results lasting for ten to twelve weeks.

DERMAL FILLERS

The next is dermal fillers. These are ideal for women who suffer from wrinkles around the cheek or mouth area. Again, it's a non-surgical operation where hyaluronic acid is injected below the skin. Without going into too much detail the acid is said to absorb water and works by attracting water to the injected areas. Adding to the plus points, it's quick and the treatment only takes 20-30 minutes.

PRP

For those looking for a more natural treatment there's PRP. Also known as platelet rich plasma, the treatment stimulates collagen in targeted areas, where skin improves in elasticity, texture and volume. The procedure is said to be straight forwarded where blood is taken from the patient and spun in a centrifuge to extract stem cells, which aids rejuvenated skin.

CHEMICAL PEEL

A more drastic take on improving winkles is a chemical peel. As the name suggests skin is peeled from the patient through the use of various chemicals. Although the treatment had a fairly long recovery time, once the peel has been completed it helps remove wrinkles and exfoliating the top of damaged skin. What more could a girl ask for?

But what do you think? Do you have any tips on stopping or treating wrinkles?

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

MAKEUP DO'S AND DON'T'S



MAKE UP DO'S AND DON'T'S

Make up remover at the ready girls. Just like many things in life the list makeup do's and don't's is long and tedious. From foundation that's 'too orange', to clumped mascara, I thought I'd shed some light on some of the major makeup don't's that girls continue to commit. Whether it's too much eyeshadow, disposable makeup sponges or negated eyebrows, here's what make my list.

DON'T OVER APPLY MASCARA

There's nothing worse than spider lashes, so don't reapply or over apply mascara once it's already dried. Instead you should apply coats while the product is still wet. This allows your lashes to spread and not clump or stick together.

DON'T USE TOO MUCH EYESHADOW

While it's good to use more than one colour eyeshadow, you should never use more than four. Often using multiple or excessive colours will create a muddy look and you lids will not be as defined. Instead play it safe and stick to two or three hues.

DON'T FORGET TO BLEND YOUR CONTOUR

Sure, every girl wants a Kim Kardashian glow but nothing ruins a look more than poorly blended bronzer and highlighter. Unless you're doing costume or drag makeup, there's no excuse to have harsh lines or streak running down your face. Rather than a quick brush over, spend a good five minutes buffing out products to make your face look more natural.

DON'T NEGLECT YOUR EYEBROWS

If Cara D has taught us anything, it's not to neglect our eyebrows. Whether we like it or not, eyebrows are one of the most prominent features as they frame the face and, sadly, instantly increase perceptions of beauty. If you can afford it, I'd always recommend going to a salon or eyebrow bar to get your brows shaped as trained staff have far more knowledge on what shapes suit what faces.

DON'T USE CHEAP SPONGES

When it comes to applying base products such as foundations or concealers, cheap sponges are a massive applicator no-no. Not only are they rough and harsh to your skin when you dab them against it, but they also cake product on and often leave unwanted streaks and uneven patches. Not a good look.

DON'T USE THE WRONG SHADE OF FOUNDATION

Linking on to this point, don't use the wrong shade of foundation. Nothing looks worse than girls who have a mis-matched face and neck. I've been at both ends of the spectrum where makeup artists have sold me foundation that's far too pale and far too orange. If in doubt get a few recommendations from different MUA's and opt for the shade which is unanimous.

DON'T SLEEP WITH YOUR MAKEUP ON

We all do it from time to time but sleeping with your makeup on is a terrible habit. During sleep your skin should be able to breath, regenerate and rebuild and obviously it can't do this if your pores are clogged up with makeup. But what do you think? Do you have any makeup faux pas? Leave a comment below.

WORDS: Emma Matthews
PHOTOS: Emma Matthews


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