Monday 29 September 2014

Dolly In ... Mykonos

We only got to spend two days in Mykonos due to the weird nature of the ferries, but we did manage to get a real feel for the place.

We stayed in a place called Paraga Beach Camping, a campsite that was literally on the beach. We stayed in a 'tent' that looked a bit like a bunker and only had one plug socket (ahh!). The hostel, considering how cheap it was, was fantastic. It had a pool and a restaurant where my two friends said they had their best meal of the holiday! So ... highly recommended!

All over Greece there were these bakeries that sold the most amazing selection of cream cakes. They all looked sooooo delicious. 

These few pictures are from the town of Mykonos that was so pretty. We even went so far as to say we preferred it to Santorini. 

As you can see, I'm not the best at night time photography, because I have incredibly shaky hands, and no tripod. We ended up spending ages trying to get a good picture of the town at night and, to be honest, failing miserably. In the end we decided just to go with it.

Friday 26 September 2014

Dolly On ... Emma Watson's Speech (+ Friday Favs)

It was impossible to get through this week without hearing, or at least hearing about, Emma Watson's speech at the UN on gender equality. I think it was fantastic, but I do have a bit more to say on the subject than that.
  1. #HeForShe doesn't work for me. To me it is the opposite of female empowerment, as it implies that a) women can't do anything for themselves, and b) they need men behind them. The campaign so far seems to be praising men for standing up for women's rights (see Tom Hiddleston), but when do women ever get praised for doing the same?
  2. I'm not going to say that only women can be feminists, or that gender equality can be achieved without the involvement of men, but centring this entire campaign around men is just a little offensive. I think this campaign would've worked better as maybe Emma Watson's second or third as a UN ambassador, but I think her first should have had women at the forefront. As I've said, the whole #HeForShe idea, to me, is belittling to women. 
  3. On a positive note, I think what Emma Watson has done is absolutely brilliant. Speaking out  positively about feminism as a young woman is rare, and I think she's done a really great job. It seems to be almost 'in' for women to denounce themselves as feminists (see Lily Allen, Iggy Azalea, Lana Del Rey etc.), and for Emma to step up and publicly tell the world her stance on gender equality is absolutely great for young girls to hear.
All in all, I don't think the campaign's perfect, but I think what Emma Watson has done is. She has a global reach and fan base, and I think watching this video could turn many people, both women and men, on to the path to gender equality. 

Charlavail posted this video about a week ago, and it's amazing. I've been meaning to get into Daughter as a lot of my friends love them. After watching this video, I think I'm gonna love them. 
  • Finally got my copy of Happy Handmade Home, and it's inspired me to take another look at my bedroom.
  • Absolutely loved the first two episodes of season three of The Mindy Project. There's a particular scene I've been watching over and over again (like a perv). I'm sure you can guess which one (hint: it's at the end of episode one) ;)
  • This is so good, and so is this
  • My godsister's just started her own YouTube channel, and it's pretty sweet. 
To read the rest of the Dolly On ... series, click here!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Dolly In ... Greece

So ...  I'm back! I just flew back from Greece yesterday afternoon, have caught up on the two new episodes of The Mindy Project and slept. Sorry for not posting in over a week; I scheduled a weeks worth of posts (| | | |) before I went away, and assumed I'd have access to a computer while I was away to write some stuff for last week, but no. No computers. Worse than that, Wi-Fi was pretty sporadic too. There were a few times when I wasn't able to load Mindy Kaling's instagram feed all day!

Wi-Fi aside, this was probably the best holiday I've ever been on, even if it was slightly bittersweet. I was in Greece for three weeks (!) with my closest university friends, who I've lived with for the past three years. This holiday was planned as a kind of last hurrah, the longest holiday we'll probably be able to take together in a long time, what with us becoming adults and needing to get jobs and what not. 

The same group of us went Interrailing in 2012, and although we had a really great time doing that, we all agreed that the level of stress on that holiday was not one we wanted to recreate. Having not booked our trains, or even our hostels in advance, we were constantly on edge, worrying about where we were going to stay and if we were going to make our trains (usually we didn't).With that in mind, for our trip to Greece, we decided to book all the ferries and hostels in advance, and boy did this make things easier (and probably significantly cheaper). 

We started our trip in Athens, where I'd actually been before when I was about 14, and spent a day exploring the city and taking advantage of the free walking tour (thanks to our guide George!). We then visited some amazing Greek islands: Mykonos, Ios, Milos (| |) and Santorini, finishing our trip in Rhodes. I'm going to be posting about each of the islands individually over the next few weeks, as I took way too many pictures to put into one post. I'll review the places we went, and recommend accommodation, restaurants and day trips. 

I hope everyone's having a great September so far, just in case you need perking up, here are the two (1 2) tracks we literally played on repeat through the holiday. A weird mix I know.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

My Top Ten Paramore Songs

So, if you're a fan of Paramore, you'll probably have realised that the name of my blog is actually a lyric from their song Turn It Off. I chose this name all the way back in 2009 when I started my tumblr, as I was very into the band, and thought the words 'lost in all my selfish thoughts' summed up what a blog was all about (or at least my blog). I've been a fan of the band for what seems like ever, have seen them live 8 times, and got to speak to them at the Reading signing tent in 2010. 

I thought I'd do a post today compiling, what I think are, the ten best Paramore songs. This was hard, really hard. To be honest with you, there's not a single Paramore song I dislike, only songs I've listened to so many times that I don't love them as much as I used to. The ten songs I've chosen span their whole back catalogue, and show all the different sides of the band. If you're a fan, do you agree with my choices? And if you've heard of Paramore but never really given them a chance, I think this playlist is a good 'in'. I'm sure my choices were different last week and will be different next week, but for this moment in time, here are my Top Ten Paramore songs ...

1. My Heart | All We Know Is Falling

I chose this song because of this performance. I was at this gig in 2009, and it was the first real gig I'd ever been to. Standing and all. I remember them performing this song so vividly, it gave me goosebumps. I can't listen to it now without getting emotional. I wanted to share this song with you, in particular this performance, as it was my musical awakening. It cemented my love of live music in the best way possible.

2. That's What You Get | RIOT!

This was the first Paramore song I ever heard, and just hearing that intro makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I know it's not a particularly happy song, but it definitely makes me feel good. 

3. Ain't It Fun | Paramore

This is the most recent song I've got on the playlist, and the only one from Paramore the album (unless you count Escape Route, which I don't really think you can). What can I even say about this song, other than it is utter perfection. It's the most played song in my iTunes, by a mile, and I don't think I will ever get bored of it. I played it for my dad, as you do, and he said he thought it had a kind of Prince vibe which I thought was interesting. Do you agree? I haven't posted the actual music video because it's the radio edit, and the album version is 10x better.

4. Hello Cold World | singles

This song came at a time when Paramore's future as a band was uncertain, and I, like many other fans, was pretty upset about it. They released four singles in 2011, Monster, In The Mourning, Renegade and Hello Cold World. These songs were all pretty different for Paramore, but I loved every one (except maybe Monster). I would've chosen to put Renegade on here, BUT I only really love one particular performance of that song, I'm not as keen on the studio version. Hello Cold World is also the second most played song on my iTunes, so I thought I should try and sneak it in. 

5. Feeling Sorry | brand new eyes

brand new eyes is such a great, well rounded, album, and to me, all of the tracks are stand outs. I chose this one because I've listened to it less than some of the others, so it still has an edge of novelty.

6. Escape Route | Paramore Bonus Track

Ahhh, I don't know why this track was not on the album!! I get that the album has a flow that maybe this song wouldn't have fit with, but it's such a shame as it's such a great track and everyone should hear it! The other bonus track Native Tongue is also pretty excellent.

7. Looking Up | brand new eyes

I love the message of this song, it has a tone that is quite rare in Paramore songs. It's a great song to listen to if you're feeling at all down, as it's incredibly relatable (at least to me).

8. Crushcrushcrush (live) | The Final RIOT!

This is a unique song to me in that I remember exactly where I was when I first heard it (I was on the piccadilly line tube on the way home from school if you're interested). It's definitely not my favourite Paramore song, but the live arrangement on The Final Riot! is so great, especially the introduction.

9. I Caught Myself | The Twilight Soundtrack

Another song that's not on a Paramore album and most definitely should be is this one. It's from the Twilight soundtrack, meaning that many people dismiss it straight off. I love this song, and think it's a shame that more people haven't heard it as the bridge is insane!

10. Franklin | All We Know Is Falling

Definitely the saddest Paramore song, it's sometimes hard to listen to listen to without shedding a tear. The fact that the band were, and are still, so young, has meant that I've grown up with them, and it's strange how some of their older songs have suddenly become relevant to me.

I hope you've enjoyed this Top Ten, do you agree with my choices?

Monday 8 September 2014

Mini Lipstick Haul

So this is my first makeup post, and likely my last. I don't wear a lot of makeup in general, usually just some mascara and a bit of eyeliner. If I'm going out though, I always make sure to slap on a bit of lippy. Recently, as I mentioned here, I went a bit mad and bought four new lipsticks in one go. I got two dark colours, as these are my go to shades, a red and a nude. 

So these first three lipsticks are from the Stay Pout range of Boots' own brand Seventeen. These lipsticks were £4.49 each, the cheapest in store, and although it's still a lot of money, they are so much cheaper than MAC etc. who charge upwards of £13 per lipstick!

1. Fond Farewell | Seventeen

I've really enjoyed my first venture into nude lipstick with this one. It's a shimmery browny colour not too dissimilar to my natural lip colour.

2. Infared | Seventeen 

3. Rule Breaker | Seventeen

4. 420 LPS1 | Barry M

I think LPS1 means lip stain, but I can't quite remember. These last two lipsticks look very similar in the pictures, but actually the Barry M one is a lot redder compared to the Seventeen one that actually looks a lot more purple. So far I prefer the Seventeen one, because although the lip stain does seem to stay on for a long time, it quickly fades to a lighter red instead of staying dark.

I'm not a makeup blogger, and although I have to admit I do spent a lot of time watching Zoella talking about makeup, I don't really feel qualified enough to be able to review these to any extent. What I will say though is that they are all surprisingly long wearing for cheap lipsticks, especially the Stay Pout ones. They stayed on pretty much all day, even after I'd stuffed my face with pizza and drunk litres of water!

Friday 5 September 2014

Dolly On ... Ariana Grande

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, before Ariana's new album came out, so where it was just going to be an opinions post, having heard My Everything, I'm also going to include a review of the album.

I discovered Ariana Grande at the beginning of 2013, before she'd actually released any music. There were teasers here and there, but it wasn't until February/March that I heard her first single The Way. I couldn't believe how good her voice was! For such a tiny lady, she has such a massive voice and an equally spectacular range. She then released a run of fantastic singles including Right There feat. Big Sean, Baby I and Almost Is Never Enough. At this point I was hooked, and caved in to buying her album. I was not disappointed, the album is the perfect mixture of 90s R'n'B and modern day appeal. Every song on Yours Truly is a stand out. In my opinion Ariana could do no wrong.

She was a pop star minus all of the controversy that you seem to need to have nowadays. Her songs are great without needing to be gratuitously explicit. Likewise with respect to her music videos. She was incredibly talented, yet inoffensive without being boring. I know it sounds like there's a big but coming, but there isn't. Not really. OK, so this year she has started wearing less clothes and stuff, but to me that's not offensive. What is offensive is her new music. To my ears. No, that's a joke. Kind of. Problem is a great song.

On my first listen to Ariana's new album My Everything, I have to admit I was disappointed. The first run of tracks, post Problem, are club anthems, not what I've come to expect from Ariana. Granted, the intro is sweet and dreamy, and you know me, I can never resist strings (and what sounds suspiciously like a steel drum), but where are the 90's R'n'B Mariah-esque tunes? At this point I was worried, but come track six, Best Mistake (feat. Big Sean), which I had already heard and loved, the album seems to turn around. Best Mistake is a completely new direction for Ariana, it's slow and moody, and Big Sean's verse actually reminds me of some early Frank Ocean. This is definitely my favourite song on the album, and I'm sure, with the current media speculation around their relationship, will be released as a single.

We then head into a series of collaborations, the Cashmere Cat produced Be My Baby which, although it is nothing special, the chorus is, admittedly, catchy. Then there's Break Your Heart Right Back featuring Childish Gambino and sampling I'm Coming Out (how could this not work, right?) that I loved from the first second. It opens with a stripped back beat and Ariana singing, almost rap-like, in her trademark falsetto. The song doesn't disappoint (compared to earlier tracks), with a strong pre-chorus and even stronger chorus. Things then slow down with The Weeknd duet Love Me Harder. When I first heard this I wasn't too keen, I thought it sounded pretty generic, but as soon as I thought that, The Weeknd comes in and saves what otherwise would be a pretty mediocre track.

At this point, about two thirds of the way through the album, all we've heard are songs that could've been sung by absolutely anyone. Although, as I've said, some of the tracks aren't terrible, it's not what I expected from Ariana's second album. We then move into the snore-fest that is Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart. It sounds like the kind of song Westlife would sing, and trust me, that's not a good thing. The penultimate track of the album is Hands On Me which I actually really like, just not coming from Ariana. I don't want to say it seems too grown up, because she's my age, and what right do I have to say that anyway? It just seems a bit weird is all. I like A$AP Ferg's bits, except the customary sexist language that rappers can't seem to do without.

The album ends with My Everything, which to me is very weird. It seems to me like Ariana chose the first and last song on her album, and then everything else she was forced to record. Although the lyrics, like all those on the album, are dull, repetitive and generic, Ariana's voice really carries this song, which is what I like to hear. She's a singer, and it's nice to hear her sing. I feel like I've been unnecessarily cruel in this review, but I'm just disappointed. I feel like Ariana was my secret this last year, and now it's come the time to share it with the world, she's come out with an album that's no where near what I've been telling everyone to expect.

The album is not bad, it's just not as good as I wanted it to be. What Ariana accomplished with Yours Truly was reminiscent of a young Mariah, whereas with My Everything she seems to have thrown all of that in in favour of club beats and hip-hop collaborations. It's not a move I would have liked her to take, but I understand that it's these overproduced, generic club beats that sell records. All I can hope is that the fame and attention she's gained from this album will draw people back to her first and, in my opinion, her stronger songs.

Where's this Ariana? I want more songs like Baby I.

To read the rest of the Dolly On ... series, click here!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Five Things I've Learned as a Lone Female Traveller

So, as you may have noticed, I just came back from spending a couple of weeks travelling alone. I did meet up with some friends in Slovenia, but the majority of the two weeks was spent in my own company. I'd wanted to travel on my own for a long time, I was even considering getting the working visa for Australia which would mean being alone on the other side of the world for at least a year! Now that I've done it for two weeks, I think I can say that I've got rid of the bug (wimp much?). Now these are just my opinions on the subject, I've read lots of these types of posts where people think the complete opposite, but I'm just sharing what I think. It is my blog after all. 

I've decided to discuss five topics that I think people worry about when travelling alone, as well as some things I just wanted to talk about. This is a very text heavy post ... enjoy!

1. Selfies

While I was away I had to work really hard to perfect the art of the selfie. Most of my early ones are 90% my face, 10% blurry landmark in the background. I was a bit too nervous to ask people to take photos of me, because my camera cost me a lot of money, and I would not forgive myself if I'd got it stolen, and because I'm awful at posing for pictures, and doing it for strangers, just urgh. So I think I managed to get some OK photos of myself, but I have to admit I would have preferred to have a  friend or a family member there to take the photograph for me. 

The picture on the left is one of my first attempts at a selfie at Lake Bled. The background is blurred, even my face is blurred! You can just about make out the church on the island above my sunglasses. Altogether a pretty awful photo. The one on the right, although not much better, is in focus, and you can clearly see a gondola. I still haven't mastered getting my whole face in the frame, but that's something to work on in future. (Fun fact: that necklace on the right is the one I talk about here.)

2. Creeps

I spent a week in Italy, and didn't encounter a single overly flirtatious male. Whether this is because I'm not the type of gal people mean when they tell you that Italians are creepy towards women, I'm over six foot, with blue hair, and I'm not exactly model thin, I didn't really experience any of this in Italy. Paris on the other hand! OMFG. I got off the train at Paris Est and had to walk over to Gare Du Nord, it's about a five minute walk, but as I hadn't been there before I had to find a map. If the back and front backpack hadn't given it away already, I really was identifying myself as a tourist. Not that this gives anyone the right to approach me the way this guy did, or any way for that matter. 

I'd been on the train for 3 hours and was already pretty exhausted and sweaty, so when a guy came up to me talking in French I assumed he was asking for directions or something, not anything untoward. So, I explained that I didn't speak French and walked off. Next thing I know, I'm walking down a side street in Paris and the same little guy popped up next to me (he was only about 5'5, so I wasn't as scared as I could've been. Worst came to worst I could have rammed him with my backpack and run away). He was still rambling in French and I kept saying I didn't understand, and he kept talking. Next thing he starts talking and I hear the word hotel. Now I was freaking out that I had Taken situation on my hands. This guy wanted to follow me to my hotel and kidnap me. So, panicked, I tried to explain I was getting the train.

'Gare Du Nord. Gare Du Nord. Le train'

So then the guy, still talking about hotels starts tapping my arm. I look down and he's making sexual gestures (don't really know how else to put it) and saying hotel. He was pointing up to a hotel we were passing and putting his finger into a ring he'd made with his other hand! I properly freaked out then and started speaking really loudly so other people would hear, we were finally getting close to the station so it was getting busier. I just said 'Oh my god. No thanks. Bye.' I then walked really fast to the station and he tried to grab my arm again by I just kept going and thank god he left.

I hadn't been to Paris before, but that experience has put me off completely! I had about three hours to explore between trains, but I was too stunned/scared after that to do anything more than sit on the platform and read. So that was a pretty bad experience, thankfully it was on my way home so it didn't ruin the rest of my holiday or anything. 

(With regards to the picture, surprisingly I didn't take my camera out and snap a picture of any creeps, so I thought I'd post this picture of a child feeding pigeons because I probably looked like a creep taking it.)

3. Dining Alone

This seems to be an issue for a lot of people, but I have to admit, I have no problem whatsoever eating in a restaurant on my own. OK, it is a tad harder to do it abroad as there is always a slight language barrier, but to be honest, I kind of enjoy it. I love food, and so really there is nothing that's gonna get in the way of me and my dinner. I ate in several restaurants and cafes on my trip, from one on the island in the middle of Lake Bled to a pizzeria overlooking the Grand Canal. 

If eating in a restaurant alone sounds like your worst nightmare though, there are ways to avoid it. My budget was not unlimited, so I didn't have the money to eat in restaurants every day. On the days where I didn't I'd either grab a snack from the supermarket to eat on the go, or pick up some pasta and sauce to eat at my hostel. Eating in your hostel can also be a pretty good way to meet people. Depending on the size of the shared kitchen, and indeed the hostel, you may well be cooking at the same time as some of the other residents. If like me though you hate talking to strangers, you can also plan ahead to avoid cooking at the same time as other people. 

4. Meeting People

If on your solo travels you wish to meet people, there are countless opportunities to do so. I stayed in dorms for my entire trip, meaning I had about 30 potential friends right there. Granted, you will have to be a bit forward with people, as many people are travelling in groups, and may not see the need to approach and talk to other people. But they don't do this to be rude, they just may not realise you are alone and looking for people to hang out with. If dorms aren't for you, most hostels have shared kitchens, if not a bar. These are great places to meet people and get to know them in quite a relaxed, pressure-free environment. Also, if you don't get on with them, they're not sleeping in the same room as you! 

If you're foregoing hostels altogether but still want to meet travellers, there's still a million ways to do so. I went on a few free walking tours, the first stop for backpackers and cheap students, and got talking to some really nice people. These tours are usually carried out in several languages, so you'll definitely meet some people you can communicate with. Bar Crawls are also a good place to start, hostels tend to have leaflets about these, but you can also find out information online. 

Finally, if you're inter-railing, like I was, you are more than likely to get chatting to people on trains. These people will most likely be fellow travellers, possibly heading to and coming from the same places you are. This'll give you automatic conversation topics. Quite a lot of european trains have compartments for six people. These compartments are quite cosy, so if you're spending four or five hours in one with someone, it's likely that you'll have to say a few words to them. I met quite a few people on trains, from a scout coordinator from New Zealand, to a guy travelling to Dubrovnik for a friends' wedding, to a pregnant woman and her partner, who'd lived in Finsbury Park and kept offering me cake! 

Alternatively, if you hate meeting new people, and the whole point of your travelling solo was to get away from everything and have some me-time, then it's pretty easy to do that too. A quick 'hello, how are you?' here and there can be polite, but you're never going to see these people again, so ignoring anyone and everyone is just as good a tactic as any.

 5. Finding Things To Do

I thrive on my own company, in fact, sometimes I crave it. I'm an only child, so growing up I spent a lot of time getting used to being alone. That being said, I thought I'd be fine travelling alone, never for one second did I think I could get bored. But I was wrong. I think in part it was the way I'd organised my holiday, only spending a short amount of time in each city put pressure on having days packed with sightseeing and fun. Because of this I felt guilty doing things I enjoy, like reading, and writing for this blog, because I felt that I was wasting my time in whichever beautiful city I was currently in. When I start to feel like this it does not work in my favour. I didn't then go out and try to squeeze everything in, instead I curled up in my hostel bed and watched The Following on my phone. 

All in all I enjoyed my time away, and am glad I travelled alone, even if it was the first and (possibly) only time.

P.S. I'm actually going on holiday tomorrow, this time with friends, so wont be around for a couple of weeks. Don't worry, I've got posts scheduled, but wont have the best internet access while I'm away. 

Monday 1 September 2014

The Mindy Project Drinking Game

I'm pretty sure The Mindy Project is my favourite show. I've watched all the episodes at least three times, and most of season two at least five times. It's fair to say I'm obsessed. So, I've been thinking of ways to put my obsession to good use (for TMP and for things in future), and while I'd love to make and sell products relating to some of my favourite shows, I thought I'd start small(ish), and just aim to get other fans drunk. So without further ado, here is my Mindy Project Drinking Game. Just in time for the Season 3 Premiere on 16th September.

It's fully printable, and way better than the Entertainment Weekly one ;)

There are a few instructions at the top, but all in all it's pretty self-explanatory. I think it'd be fun to play it a bit more like bingo, either by randomly crossing out some boxes on each players' sheet (to make sure not everyone can win), or by cutting out the squares and dealing them out to players. The winner would be the one who ticks off all their squares first!

I've tested the game by picking episodes to watch at random on Netflix, and while some episodes will get you significantly more drunk than others, you wont be able to get away from a single episode without at least feeling 'buzzed'.

There are a couple of things that didn't quite make it into the final version for one reason or another, including 'I was caught in a man trap once', Mindy reclining on the piano in Pretty Man, and 'that's how good I am at sex'. 

Warning: If you want to get REALLY drunk play along with the episode 'Wiener Night'.