27 June 2014

#LincsBlogMeet - The Event

So last weekend I did something that has been on my to do list for a while, but I wasn't sure I would ever have the nerve to do, attend my first blog meet!

It was in my university city of Lincoln and was hosted by one of my best friends Amy and Bee.  It was such an amazing day, I've defiantly got the blog meet bug!  We met at Lincoln train station before being split into groups and sent on a picture hunt!  Here are our pictures (go team red!) courtesy of Siobhan and Nat

We didn't win unfortunately, but we did come second so we didn't do that bad.  The last point on the picture tour was Ask, so when we arrived we headed strait upstairs where they had kindly provided our own area of the restaurant to hang out in.

Ask were also kind enough to have these cookbook's waiting for us at the table, which was very generous.  It was a really nice space and it was great to have the upstairs of the restaurant all to ourselves, it made the presentations and chatting a lot easier and more relaxed!

Before lunch we had a brilliant chat from Weleda, who did a great job of explaining all there products and the philosophy behind them, we even got a full bottle of the Citrus Body Oil, but I am saving that for my second post.

After lunch Boots came to give us a talk, they kindly stepped in last minute  and I have to say they did a great job!  I learnt so much and they even spoke of coming back for a full day which would be amazing!  Every medium to large boots has an independent skincare consultant, which I didn't know previously but I will defiantly be using this knowledge in the future!

Afterwards, and in between all the many fantastic raffle prizes, we did a beauty swap.  I brought a lot of stuff I didn't use anymore and managed to pick up some great bits!

Overall the day was really good, I met some great people, learnt more about skincare and had so much fun!  Of course there was an excellent gift bag but I am saving that for another post.  Have you ever visited Lincoln?

Kariss xx


26 June 2014

Join my Postcard Swap

This is an idea shamelessly stolen from Lauren of The Emerald Dove, she is moving away to university soon and suggested a postcard swap as a fun idea to brighten up the walls in her new university accommodation.  Similarly my work walls are looking pretty bare so I thought this was a great way to brighten up my days at work!

The concept is pretty strait forward, just drop me an email at shystrangemanic@gmail.com or leave me a comment with your email, then send me something a postcard/picture/whatever takes your fancy and I will send you one back.  It should be a fun way to get to know some of you a bit more, like a short term pen pal! 

This postcard is the one I received from Lauren as part of her swap, make sure you check out her post here, and why not send her something too!  

25 June 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 4

Start Weight: 11 stone 4 1/2 pounds
Last Week's Weight: 10 stone 12 pounds
Current Weight: 10 stone 13
Loss, Gain, or Stay the Same: 1 pound gain
Total Loss: 5 1/2 pounds

Talk about yoyo dieting!  After my big starting weight loss I've been one pound on, one pound off one pound on....It's frustrating, but every time it's happened I've known why.  This weekend I ate at Ask as part of the #Lincsblogmeet, before meeting friends for drinks, eating another meal at a pub and more drinking.  Then Sunday I grabbed a quick Greggs baguette before heading home, where mum had made a BBQ and even bought a desert, which never happens!  Once more I tried to make up for it when I was back at work but weekends are defiantly my downfall!  If anyone has any tips let me know.

This weekend I am away, again!  This time I am heading into London to volunteer for London Pride, (my 3rd year, can't wait!).  Food wise this will mean grabbing some lunch if/when I can on shift but I will be on my feet all day and if I manage to make it so somewhere like a Pret I might be able to do ok.  In the evening I am a bit clueless, might be food, might be drinking, but either way I am hoping to end up at my Boyfriends, so at least the Sunday shouldn't be as bad.  We might be having a picnic or something but I should have more control over my food Sunday.  Again, with all this in mind I would like to loose 1 1/2 pounds, hitting the half a stone mark.  This might be a little over ambitious but I can try!


24 June 2014

Quickmax eyelash enhancer review

My eyelashes are the bane of my existence!  Ok, that might be a little extreme but they are really annoying!  They're really short and strait and you can't even tell they are there!.  I actually stopped wearing mascara because it was pointless.  Even the holy grail that is Benefit's They're Real couldn't deliver the goods, sure they looked better but it still wasn't enough for my disastrous lashes.  So of course when given the opportunity to try an eyelash enhancing serum I wasn't going to turn it down.

I've been wanting to try an eyelash serum for ages but I was sceptical, I didn't know how they worked, what they did or which to choose!  The Quickmax Eyelash Growth Enhancer claims to :

'Make eyelashes become noticeably longer and thicker when used for as little as 7 days.  The lashes gradually thicken to a rich darkness when when Quickmax Eyelash Growth Enhancer is used for 15 days or longer.'

So did it deliver?  less chat, more results, here are my before and afters!

Before, first two without mascara, second two with mascara

After 13 day's with mascara

So what do you think?  I forgot to take photos without mascara in the after pictures but look at the difference!  I took these photos after using it once a day for 13 days (excuse the messy application of mascara, I was in a rush when I took the 'after' shots).  Personally I defiantly notice a difference, my lashes feel thicker and when mascara is applied you can actually see them!  I am going to carry on using this everyday, and I will defiantly be re-buying it when this tube runs out.  I now want to see just how much longer my lashes can grow!

Have you ever used an eyelash enhancer like this one?

Kariss xx

This product was sent to me for review, all opinion are my own and are completely honest

20 June 2014

Stationary from Viking Direct

So as a few of you may know a few months ago I had a huge career change, from theatre lighting technician to a desk job in publishing.  What you may not know is that a few years before that I was a theatre stage manager, and if there is one thing you should know about stage managers, it's that they are obsessed with stationary!

Stage Managers have to spend a lot of time writing notes, doing technical drawings, editing scrips etc and as a result every stage manager had pencil cases full to the brim with goodies!  It is a stressful job so that flash of colour can really help you get through the day, however when I changed to lighting I left all that behind me and swapped my Hello Kitty pens for rigger gloves.  Then when I started my current job I was thrown back into the world of stationary, and slowly I have been trading my office standard stuff for my own, more colourful versions, so when I was offered stationary from Viking Direct I couldn't say no.  So what did I get?

First up I received these Foray highlighters, which of course I loved because of all the colours!  This goes way beyond the three colour standard, I particularly like the lilac and pale green, because they really stand out.  You can use them for thin or thick lines depending on which side you use, these will defiantly come in handy for blog planning!

If you asked people at my current work place about me they would probably mention my post it note obsession.  My short term memory isn't the greatest, and my way of combatting this is to write things down as soon as they pop into my head.  As a result I always have them close to hand, which is why this post it note dispenser is great for me.  It makes my messy habit a lot neater and more professional looking.  I have to say I was really surprised by the quality of this product, it's really sturdy and heavy, great for an office.  I will defiantly get a lot of use from this!

Next up I got this blue 8gb usb stick.  Strangely enough I was looking for a usb stick recently and realised I don't have one anymore, talk about great timing!  I can't believe that you can get 8gb of memory for less then £5, crazy! It also comes in lots of different bright colours!

Lastly I got one more thing...

Let me tell you these did not last long in my house!  

Do you have a stationary obsession?

Kariss xx

18 June 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 3

Start Weight: 11 stone 4 1/2 pounds
Current Weight: 10 stone 12 pounds
Loss, Gain or Stay the Same: 1 pound loss
Total Loss: 6 1/2 pounds

I've lost the pound I've gained last week, and I can't complain about that really.  Despite having the possibility of the perfect week for weight loss, aka having the weekend at home and not really having any plans, I just couldn't get my head in the game this week.  Despite eating good meals I found myself desperate to snack, especially at the weekend, and I defiantly ate more then I should, so I'm happy with my one pound loss.

I would love to loose at least the 1/2 pound this week that would take me to half a stone, however I am away this weekend that the Lincoln blog meet ( so excited!) which means 2 days of eating out as I am crashing at a friends house.  I am hoping I can make up for it during the week.

Anyone got any advice for me this week?


16 June 2014

The Death of the Poet: Review and Giveaway

John Knox falls passionately and irrevocably in love with Rachel McAllistair the first time they meet. He interviews her for his radio show, and afterwards, when he tells her how impressive she was, she hits him, square on the jaw. Undeterred, he pursues her, promising to love her and never to leave her.
This promise becomes his burden, as her behaviour whirls out of control. She is abusive and cruel. And yet he stays. Even when she does something so awful that his life is changed forever. And that point, on which his life turns, leads him to an unexpected connection with a man who suffered a terrible injury in the first world war.

When I was sent this book it didn't have this blurb on the back, instead it had a quote from the book "For all the years I've spent trying to figure it out, I have no clue what outrage you thought those words contained".  This meant I went into this reading experience somewhat blind, and this excited me.  I can't remember the last time I read a book i knew next to nothing about, and the information I had received really intrigued me.  It felt like a mystery, and I was soon to discover this was pretty appropriate....

I only have one annoyance with this book, so I will get that out of the way first.  I know she suffers from mental illness, but Rachel doesn't seem to have any redeeming features to indicate why anyone could or would fall in love with her.  She is over dramatic, dangerous, extremely temperamental to the point of ridiculousness, has abandoned people important to her in the past, runs away constantly without any explanation and is the perpetrator of an escalating and frightening array of domestic violence.  She also changes Jon's life for the negative in some huge ways, but I can't get into without hitting the big spoiler button.  Maybe if she seemed nicer from the start and these personality traits showed themselves slowly I could understand why he'd want to stay with her, but one of the first things she did when they first met was punch him in the face (which he lied to cover up), so I spent most of my time reading this wondering how this relationship ever came to be in the first place!

Not that Jon is a particularly likeable character, and most defiantly not at the start of the book, however likeable characters are not important for a book to be good, I think that is important to remember.  It's a trap people often fall into, mistaking the dislike of a character a dislike of the book.

This book was defiantly enjoyable, and I find the plot intriguing, although i have to admit I preferred it much more when Rachel wasn't in it less.  The writing is beautiful, almost poetic, and reminds me of Lolita in some ways.  Things really got more interesting for me about 1/3 of the way through the book, a seemingly unrelated narrative appears and for a while it seems like you are reading two completely different books, and then later it all links in and well....you're just going to have to read it to understand what I am getting at because I don't want to spoil it for anyone!  This is the hardest part of a book review, not giving away the best bits!

However if you do want to read it, you're in luck, as I have been allowed to give away a brand new shiny copy as a giveaway, you lucky, lucky things.  If you don't want to wait that long you can grab it on Amazon.  

Kariss xxx

P.S Creating a new domain unfortunately means that google has to delete all my past comments, so show me some love!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 June 2014

Announcement time!

Hello guys, hope your all having a fab Sunday/ Fathers day!  Just a quick post to say that today I have bought my own domain!  It's something I have wanted to do for a while, so I'm really happy about it.  I am now www.shystrangemanic.com and I've also got myself a new email purely for blog stuff (my last one was getting a little cluttered) shystrangemanic@gmail.com.  It feels good to knock some letters off my previously very long url!

It is my 1 year blog anniversary next month and I am really amazed and grateful that I have got this far, thank you to everyone who has been reading, it means a hell of a lot!  More of that to come next month ^_^

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are.
Kariss xx

13 June 2014

Rockalily Styles: Styling Bar

Honestly, my hair has been driving my crazy lately!  As you will know from this post after years of crazy bright colours I have decided to focus on my hair health and go for something more 'natural' and this involves growing the bleach out of my hair.  Growing out bleach is a long and hugely irritating process, and it currently means my hair is 3 colours, dark brown where my roots are, brighter red where the colour is still over my natural, non bleached hair, and a peachy colour where the bleach has caused all the red to wash out.  On top of this it's pretty frizzy, I've been trying to get into my hair dresses for a few weeks but the only time it's open when I'm not working is Saturday's and I'm almost always away.  So when I saw ReeRee's post on her blog offering a complementary wash and blow dry to the first 20 people to email, I began writing so fast my fingers were almost on fire.

I fell in love with Rockalilly salon the moment I discovered it online, and I told myself that one day, I would go and get a real vintage style.  I don't trust anyone up here to know how to do one properly, or at least I haven't found them yet.  I loved their work and the style of the salon it's self, but alas I live too far away.  Here was my chance to live a little part of that dream, what are the chances of me spotting this on time, and just when I was going to London for the weekend!  Rockalilly Styles is Rockalilly's little sister, specialising in quick styles and wet shaves instead of the cuts and dyes on offer at the other salon.  As you can see from the price list they currently offer wash and blow drys, festival braids and of course, vintage styling.

I arrived at lunchtime on Sunday after a very stressful journey and was greeted very warmly.  I was quickly ushered into a chair while i took in my surroundings.  This salon is beautiful, very retro and kitch, I wish my house looked just like it.  It even had a statement mirror wall and ceiling and doller printed floor, it's really nice to go somewhere with it's own personality.

I told my stylist I didn't have anything in mind so she came up with some ideas that gave my hair more volume and a bit if curl at the ends to make it seem more alive.  To be honest I felt sorry for her, my hair is hard to work with.  It takes forever to dry, always wants to stay straight, and falls out instantly.  She did manage to work some magic and I left feeling great, as I'm writing this it's 2 days later and my hair feels super soft and sleek.  Here is my before and after:

So there you have it, I'd love to come back at some point and get my hair done properly, in the meantime I'm very happy and thankful I got this experience.  The new salon is beautiful and well worth a visit if you need a pick me up, if I have an event in London I will defiantly be popping in for some vintage styling.  What's your favourite vintage style?  


11 June 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday- Week 2

Start Weight: 11 Stone 4 1/2 pounds
Current Weight: 10 stone 13 pounds 
Loss, Gain or Stay the Same: 1 pound gain

Not much to say this week, i've gained a pound but I know where it's come from.  Frankly I am surprised it wasn't more, I was pretty good in the week but it all fell apart when I stayed in London at the weekend.  I tried to be fairly sensible but I ended up eating out for every meal as I wasn't at my sisters as much as I'd thought.  I did do a hell of a lot of walking though which I think was why I didn't gain more, and I've been good since I got back.

As for next week it could go one of two ways, I am either going to make a last minute decision to go to Download Festival, which would mean lots of eating burgers from stalls because I wouldn't have time to sort out bringing food, or I'm staying at home.  If I'm staying at home I won't have much in my way other then one birthday night out on Friday and a possible second birthday meet up on Saturday.  As long as I stick to vodka diet Coke and don't get too drunk I should be fine, so here's to hoping!

If I don't go away I would love to loose 2 pounds next week, if I do then I will probably be back to square one!  Let's see how it goes...

6 June 2014

The Courtyard Resturant at Ox Pasture Hall, Scarborough

I was kindly asked a few weeks ago if I would like to review the food at The Courtyard Restaurant, part of Ox Pasture Hall just outside Scarborough.  One look at their website and their two rosette status and I couldn't say yes fast enough, what an opportunity!  So last week my friend Claire took us both for a drive, on the hunt for some great food!

The first thing that stood out was the setting, driving up the winding road the views was stunning, beautiful and green, and when we arrived it looked as though you were in the middle of nowhere.  It was gorgeous, and really hard to believe we were so close to a popular seaside town.

We were welcomed very warmly by staff and waited in the comfortable lounge, before being shown to our table.  There was a wedding being set up in the hotel but the atmosphere in the restaurant was quiet and comfortable, we got sat at the best table, with a fantastic view of the green forrest!

We were given drinks as soon as we were settled in, I was given a glass of prosecco while Claire stuck with J20's as she was driving, which we sipped as we browsed the menu.  We were left in peace to make our decision, (there is nothing worse then hovering waiters!), until we finally made up our minds.  So without further adieu, let's get to the important bit.  Here is what we ate!

  Once our orders were taken we received appetisers from the Chef, this was chicken roulade to warm up our tastebuds for the main event.  The staff were very knowledgeable and explained what each part of the dish was.  Although this was nice it was probably my least favourite part of the meal as it wasn't as flavourful as the rest of the options.  

Next up we were served a variety of different breads, when this was taken we had already devoured about half of them.  I am a huge lover of bread and this was fresh, soft and tasty, I especially liked the fruit loaf.  If I'd have known how much we were going to eat I maybe wouldn't have polished off the whole lot!

For starters I chose the duck, while Claire opted for the Ham, egg and peas.  I love the contrast between cherry and pork here, and all the different textures.  The cherry and beetroot sorbet was particularly amazing, I've never had a sorbet at the start of a meal before but I would defiantly opt for it again.  

We were served this strawberry palate cleanser next, it was really delicious, I could have drank it all day!  They reminded me of strawberry daiquiris , but without the alcohol.

For the main meal we both opted for the pork.  I love the way the pork was served in so many different ways, each perfectly complementing each other while standing out in it's own right.  Everything was cooked extremely well, perfectly tender and flavoursome, and just the right amount.

Our second palate cleanser was a citrus sorbet served on a bed of a whisky ice.  I am not normally a whisky fan, and this was very strong, however when paired with the sorbet it balanced out very well and they tasted great together.  It was very refreshing, perfect to prepare your tastebuds for a very sweet desert.

Ok, I have to admit, I have a very big sweet tooth, so for me this was a dream!  Claire opted for the Caribbean Cocktail while I chose the Yorkshire Berries which consisted of jelly, summer fruit pudding, strawberry ice cream and creme brûlée.  By this point in the meal I was very full but I could not leave a scrap of this, I think it as my favourite part of the whole day.  Again it was a great mix, really sweet yet refreshing.  Looking at this now is making me wish I could eat it all over again, every part of it was perfection!

We did have the option to have tea or coffees afterwards but we could barely move, instead we opted to sit and enjoy our surroundings for a while before having a quick look around the grounds.  The staff were even nice enough to let us have a sneak peak into the wedding venue, just before a wedding was about to take place, I have to say it looked beautiful.  We took some quick outfit posts while on site because why not!

I'll tell you now because I know your wondering, yes that is all Clare's real hair, amazing isn't it!  

I have to say I am really impressed, not only was the food fantastic but the staff were amazingly friendly and attentive, one of the best serving experiences I've ever had.  On top of that the whole hotel and grounds were beautiful, I will defiantly be coming back again if I get chance.  In fact my parents are already considering coming here after seeing these photos.  Whats the best place you've eaten?

Kariss xx

4 June 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday- Week 1

First ever weigh in, ready?  Here goes.....*drum roll*

Start Weight: 11 Stone 4 1/2 pounds
Current Weight: 10 stone 12 pounds 
Loss, Gain or Stay the Same: 6 1/2 pound loss

Wow I mean, what can I say!  I've lost nearly half a stone in just less then a week!  I though I'd lost but I defiantly didn't think I'd lost that much, I've never lost so much so fast in my life!  Just shows that Slimming World really works when you stick to it!  And to think last week I said 'I am probably aiming a bit high but I would love to drop 3 pounds this week.'  

The only difference I've made this week is aiming for 5 'syns' per week instead of 15, as I knew I had a restaurant to review at the weekend and wouldn't be in control of my food.  I have to say this does help because I have a tendency to go over, and going a few over at 5 doesn't matter, going over a few at 15 and suddenly your cheating, goes to show it all adds up!  (Sorry if this doesn't make sense to you if you've have never tried Slimming World).  I have defiantly cut down on my snacking but *Warning, about to get a little graphic* I started my period today so that might have contributed to my weight loss.  Generally starting this blog post series has defiantly helped as every time I've wanted to reach for the sugar I've thought  *wait, I have to report my weight next week* and that's really helped me stick to it.

I am surprised it was so high because, as much as I was very good in the week, I went to review an amazing restaurant at the weekend (review posted later this week) which consisted of wine and 6 (I think, I lost count!) courses!  Admittedly the portions were rather small as it was a taster menu and none of it seemed particularly bad for me but I was defiantly stuffed when I left!  To add insult to injury I then went out in Nottingham and had a lot to drink, the most I've drank in a while, and although I stuck to my guns about only drinking vodka diet coke I did drink more then I should, and had a few extra syns the next day in my hungover state.

It's fair to say I'm pretty happy!  I now have to be really careful that I don't get complacent.  Next week I am away in London, I'm staying at my sisters so I'm hoping I can try and stick to the diet by cooking at hers when I can and the rest of the time I will just have to make the best choices possible!  With that in mind I am aiming for 1 pound loss this week, with my large loss this week I'll be happy with that.

Kariss xx

3 June 2014

Books of 2014: Part 4

It's been a while since I did one of these posts so it's time to get stuck in!  If you want to keep up to date follow me on goodreads, I'm always updating it.  For now, books 16-20!

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, hallways hum “Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Until they are not. Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her - normal.

For a children's book this was pretty interesting, it was refreshing to have a book focus on someone who stands out for being different and not try to change them.  The character of Stargirl has many dimensions and was really interesting, living in her own world, which you say through the eyes of Leo, an admiring teenage boy.  The ending is also very unusual for a children's book and really great to see.

Style Me Vintage: Clothes by Naomi Thompson

Vintage styles have never been more popular, with everyone from major stars to teens on the street looking to indulge in retro glamour. Whether a reader is looking to completely overhaul their look, go for complete vintage glam, or just introduce a few key vintage pieces into their day-to-day wardrobe, this book will teach them how. It is packed with tips on how to find unique, one-off items that fit any budget, look fabulous, and will retain their value, and also details what to look for, when to part with one's cash, and what to avoid. Readers will learn how to determine which era fits their shape, how to build a retro look from the base up, and how to make retro styles work with modern accessories. Filled with fun, detailed photographs showing classic looks from the 1920s to the 1980s, this is essential reading for anyone who has ever wanted to introduce vintage into their wardrobe, but felt unsure where to start.

I picked this up in my local vintage shop and couldn't wait to read it.  If you know me you will know I love vintage fashion, especially anything 40/50s.  This book is really easy to read and accessible.  It isn't really useful if you know a lot about vintage fashion already but it is good for beginners and those who want to top up there knowledge, the tips on ageing clothes were very useful to me, I'll defiantly be buying the rest of this series.  It covers fashion from the 20s through to the 80s so there is something for almost everyone.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Eddie Russett lives in a world where fortune, career and ultimate destiny are rigidly dictated by the colours you can see, with violet at the top, and red at the bottom. Below the colours are the grey underclass who can only see tones of black and white. It is also a world of rules and regulations

I have had my fill of dystopian so I put this off reading this for a while, however I'm glad I picked it up as it provided a fresh look on the genre.  The story is quite complex which made it interesting and the relationships between characters was realistic and ever changing.  Im really looking forward to the sequel to see how this progresses.
BirdBox by Josh Malerman

Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors.
The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows.
They are out there. She might let them in.
The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall.
Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them.
Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

See my full review for this book here
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The uncommon reader is none other that HM The Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace.

I am a huge Alan Bennet fan as you my have noticed, I am also a bit of a royalist so this was a book I had to read.  This isn't my favourite Alan Bennet story but it is still pretty good and defiantly had a charm to it, however I felt like it lost it's way a little.  As much as I love his short stories this didn't really work as well for me as it could have.

So there you have it, I will see you again for books 21-25
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