Friday, 28 November 2014

Signature Fragrances London*

Clothes and American TV are my one true love however, all things make-up and perfume come a close second. I'm a bit of a flirt when it comes to perfume, I'll admit it; I'm a sucker for a pretty bottle and so I flick from one to another regularly in order to add new additions to my collection. I love trying something new and so, when Signature Fragrances asked if I would be interested in testing some of their new fragrance oils* I absolutely jumped at the chance.

Name Tags

First up, Lurre*(£46). Oh Lurre, I wish you had fallen into my hands sooner. Signature Fragrances describe this as a "sweet yet sophisticated scent" and I'd say I agree with that. This is the sort of sweet you find in a body butter that you want to linger, it's not overpowering like some perfumes and it's not sickly in it's sweetness, it's weirdly soothing and definitely a scent I'd give another fair go to. This has Rose and Strawberry top notes, Vanilla, Honeysuckle and Musk middles notes and Amber and Golden Musk base notes; but I have to say you can't really detect the musk in there so I think maybe it just rounds off the edges of the sweetness.

signature fragrances lurre and lola

Now, Lola*(£47), I'm sorry, I'm just not feeling this one, although I'm aware it's really popular amongst other people who have tried it. Signature describe it as a "calming and feminine fragrance" but to me it just seems old fashioned, it's quite strong and - it was unanimously agreed - just really, really not me. This has top notes of African Orange Flower, middle notes of Jasmine and Patchouli and base notes of Cedar, Rose and White Honey. I can get why some people might like this, but personally I find it floral, a bit fussy and me and Lola just don't get on, I'm afraid.

Diamond Bottles
(pictures taken from the Signature Fragrances website)

Now, I didn't get to see the bottles when I received my fragrances, but oh my days look at those; worth buying for the glassware alone. The fragrances don't tend to last that long on the skin but I tend to top my perfume up every few hours anyway and so I'm not too concerned about that. I definitely will be buying myself a bottle of Lurre as a little treat for myself. A little bit on the expensive side, but it's a scent I've fallen in love with and you can't deny the luxury of those bottles.

What's your favourite perfume, will you be trying Signature Fragrances?

Sammy xo. 

*Samples were sent to me from Signature Fragrances in consideration for writing a blog post, however all views expressed are completely my own

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Non-Traditional Christmas Songs

I love a good Christmas song. Scratch that, I love a good Christmas anything - but people can't judge me in the same way when I have headphones in as opposed to when I insist on wearing Christmas Jumpers in public (on that note, though, Primark have some cracking light up ones at the minute). It's not that I don't love Wizard or Michael Buble - there is not a human alive, in fact, that doesn't love Michael Buble - but the fact is when I get home from a whole day of listening to Smooth Radio's Christmas station? The last thing I want is to hear The Fairytale of New York or Stop The Cavalry ever again in my entire existence (or at least until next year). So, I thought I'd share with you my top four Christmas songs that are a little less traditional than the usual suspects, but also are yet to be ruined by Smooth Radio Christmas.

Fall Out Boy/The Wombats

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out - Fall Out Boy
"The gifts you'll be receiving from me will be; One awkward silence."
Actually pretty grim as the lyrics to Christmas songs go, but definitely one of Fall Out Boy's more impressive songs in my humble opinion. It's very christmassey to listen to, very true to Fall Out Boy's style and very high on my Christmas playlist. Think old school pop punk with a little bit of Christmas Spirit to soften the edges.

Is This Christmas? - The Wombats
"Turn 'Back To The Future' off, I've seen it before, maybe every year and more."
This is in my top picks for two reasons. 1: It starts with Les Dennis. See, awesome already isn't it? and 2: The lyrics to this are as if somebody has actually written about a real family Christmas. Forget falling in love and what happened last Christmas, this is about how crap snow is in reality and what Christmas day is really like for most of us. Plus, it's by The Wombats and they're pretty cool so - enough said.

The Wonder Years/TNBC

Christmas at 22 - The Wonder Years
"Let's turn on the TV and wait for Christmas specials, we'll make some frozen pizza."
Okay, so I've probably mentioned before that I have a weird amount of love for sad twenty somethings singing lyrics over music that doesn't really seem to fit and sort of really does at the same time? That's The Wonder Years in a nutshell. I love all of their music but this is a really sweet, nostalgic Christmas song about coming back from University at Christmas to all of the friends you had in high school. This is actually probably top of my list if we're being honest.

What's This - Danny Elfman
"What's this? They're hanging mistletoe. A kiss? Why, that looks so unique!"
Before anyone gets up in my grill about this, Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas Film not a Halloween one, it starts and ends with Halloween but they actually celebrate Christmas. Now that's off my chest, this is one of my favourite non-Christmas Christmas songs. For those of you who've never seen the film this is the song from the scene in which the king of Halloweentown sees Christmastown preparing for Christmas for the very first time. It's sweet, funny and reminds me of my childhood - who needs any more excuses.

I love a non-traditional Christmas song so be sure to leave your favourites in my comments, I'm off to go and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, now I've reminded myself about it.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: My Top 3 Songs

Monday, 24 November 2014

National HIV Testing Week 2014

When it comes to my health, I am very much in the camp of "I'll probably be fine." I think this stems from growing up with a nurse for a mother, but I could literally be choking and in between gasping for air I would reassure you about how fine I was. This, it turns out, is not the best attitude to have about your health - and seeing as I took to twitter this week to advocate that more people should be talking about sex and sexual health, when I saw it was National HIV Testing Week, I thought this was the perfect time to make sure that me, and those around me, were taking their sexual health more seriously. HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus,is a virus transmitted through the transferal of bodily fluids that targets and weakens the immune system.

National HIV Testing Banner

Although, as I'm sure many of us aware, some UK groups have a higher proportion of people living with HIV (for instance the groups most affected at the moment include prisoners, gay or bisexual men, Black African or Black Caribbean men and women and injecting drug users) absolutely anyone can become infected by HIV. As a bisexual woman, my chances of contracting the disease are fairly low, however - it's not impossible, especially if I am or have been practicing unsafe sex. According to Public Health Statistics significantly fewer people were able to correctly identify the ways in which HIV could be transmitted in 2007 than were able to seven years earlier - and I personally find that pretty alarming (for the record it is passed through bodily fluids, but not usually saliva as the concentration isn't high enough, through sharing needles or sometimes through needle stick injuries and it can be passed from parent to child). Especially as, according to the very same set of statistics around 26,000 people are thought to be living in the UK with HIV which has yet to be diagnosed, combine this with the fact that (according to various sources, although it seems to be impossible to track down actual statistics) young people seem to be having more unprotected sex, and contraceptive methods other than condoms are ever on the rise, the fact is that all of us should be more aware of sexual health, HIV or otherwise.

It is suggested that you should be tested for STIs around once every year, or whenever you start a relationship with a new partner - but amongst my own friends I can confirm that the amount of times we've been tested between us we can probably count on one pair of hands, so not even nearly enough, and I'd be willing to bet a large proportion of my life savings on the fact that we're not the only ones. HIV is no longer a death sentence, people live a lot longer with HIV than ever before (only 1% of those with HIV died from the disease in 2013, according to - once again - Public Health Statistics) but the prognosis can often be better if a person is diagnosed during early diagnosis whilst they remain well overall. Over half of adults diagnosed in 2009 were diagnosed late and although treatment will still work, this means the immune system is able to be weakened further before treatment begins. Thanks to advances in medicine, women with HIV can now also undergo treatment during pregnancy to dramatically lower the risk of her unborn child developing HIV, and it is also possible for men living with HIV to undergo sperm washing to enable a healthy foetus.

You can be tested at your GP, through a Gum clinic or through some other services which are listed on the NHS website.  If you are African and/or a gay or bisexual man you can actually use fastest direct, a test that comes through the post and is done at home which can then be sent back and the results received by phone - it is also completely free of charge and comes in an unmarked envelope. Although HIV shows symptoms 2-6 weeks after it is contracted in around 80% of people (often flu-like including a sore throat, fever and rash) these often go away and no further symptoms are present until much further down the line, so it's important to be tested even if you feel fine. If you are at all worried about having been in a position where you may be at risk of HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease, or you've had unprotected sex with a partner that you haven't been tested with; please, please go and get tested - I know that I will be. Also, as ever, the only way of protecting yourself from STIs is to always use a condom - widely available for free from sexual health clinics, GP's and brook clinics - and worth their weight in gold.

National HIV Testing Week 2014 - It Starts With Us. Will you be getting tested?

Sammy xo.

All statistics and facts on this page came from the NHS website, the THT website or the NAT website, but please do correct me if you find them to be wrong.


If you liked this you might like: Censorship - 10 steps backwards

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Things I Love #3 - Saying No

Saying no is something I've struggled my whole life to do and only now as an adult am I starting to feel more able to say no when that's what I really mean.

 I'm always, always worried that when I say no to people I come across as rude and so, as you may have seen on my twitter yesterday, this post from tumblr, hit me pretty hard;

"Imagine you're at a party. A guy offers you a drink. You say no. He says "Come on, one drink!" You say "no thanks." Later, he brings you a soda. "I know you said you didn't want a drink, but I was getting one for myself and you looked thirsty." For you to refuse at this point makes you the asshole. He's just being nice, right? Predators use the social contract and our own good hearts and fear of being rude against us. If you drink the drink, you're teaching him that it just takes a little persistence on his part to overcome your "no". If you say "Really, I appreciate it, but no thanks." and put the drink down and walk away from it, you're the one who looks rude in that moment. But the fact is, you didn't ask for the drink and you don't want the drink and you don't have to drink it just to make some guy feel validated."

This grates upon me that it's talking about men only, but the principle behind it is pretty solid. You should feel free to be rude and say no to things that don't interest you - especially when people try to push you into it. Your rudeness is something they've brought upon themselves, and the fact is there is nothing rude about the refusal to validate someone and their feelings towards you if it involves doing something that you have no interest in doing, will make you uncomfortable or that you didn't agree to in the first place. This isn't just a trick used by predators, personally my friends and family all pray on the idea that it is difficult to simply say no without coming across as ungrateful, rude or someone who just needs a little convincing. I'm working on it, but I just know that my ability to finally say no is going to be one of my best traits, in my humble opinion.

What do you think about saying no, is it rude?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: The Faked Sexual Assault Video

Friday, 21 November 2014

That's So Gay (Sort Of, Maybe)

If you missed the very first #crazybloggers chat last night, we had a big sex and swearing filled conversation about adult content on blogs. During it, I got talking about how helpful it would have been to have someone blogging about sexuality whilst I was trying to come to terms with my own, and I was honestly surprised by the amount of people that agreed. So, here it is, a little bit about my own experience with my sexuality, how I came to terms with it and a couple of things that I wish that I'd known. 

Girlfriends

I was probably sixteen when I fell in love with my best friend, who just so happened to be a girl. That genuinely wasn't a big deal for me at all, but mostly because it seemed like an untouchable, unrequited love; sort of like the one that I'd had for Ellen Page since the first time that I saw Juno, or Megan Fox in Transformers. The issues came with the fact that it turned out that she liked me back. This was foreign territory, I'd only had one serious relationship before this; I didn't get relationships at all, never mind one that was throwing me a bit for six. It's not that I struggled with the mentality of being gay, or pansexual, or bisexual or whatever it would turn out that I would be; but I had a hundred million questions, things I didn't understand and practical issues that I had no clue how to resolve. All I knew about lesbians came from some dubious - let's call them erotic videos - and what I'd seen on TV and in films. So, I did what I do best; took to the internet to see what I could find. It turns out, online researching what you're "supposed to do" when you get into a gay relationship is literally the single worst thing that you can do, because on top of worrying that I would be bad at it, I now had a million things to consider that I hadn't even really had on my radar before, like; Do people really scissor (and wouldn't one of us hit our head on the wall of my very small bedroom if we did)? Did we need... aids (and is glass really the safest thing to make them out of)? Do I have to come out as gay to my friends and family now (and would people just assume it was a joke if we announced our new relationship on Facebook if I didn't)? For some reason, instead of the very first time that I fell in love with a boy, I approached the first time that I fell in love with a girl very scientifically; and psyched myself out. It wasn't until I told her how scared I was that I realised we were both in the same boat and actually, we loved each other, and that was more important than the logistics (which, actually, it turned out were pretty easy to resolve and we managed to muddle through them together).

Now that I've grown a little older and explored a little more, I've found a lot of things - and one of the most important things I know now that I wish I'd known then was that most people do not care what the hell you're doing and with whom, at least not nearly as much as you think they do. I also learned that who I love doesn't define me, be they men or women or both at different times. I learned that searching for a label is time consuming, and mostly pointless because overall you will not be shouting about how pansexual you are to other people and people who fall in love with you won't be asking you for your label to check that you're compatible with theirs. It turns out, and who would have ever guessed, that falling in love when you're gay, pansexual, bisexual, asexual or otherwise is pretty much the same as falling in love when you're heterosexual, only with a different gender - and that's honestly something I wish someone would have told me when I was struggling with my own sexuality. Your sexuality doesn't define you, you don't need to hide it but you should feel free to if that's what you feel you'd like to do, you will come to terms with it in time even if it seems like the scariest thing in the world right now and overall? Don't f*cking google it, just go with your gut. Sexuality is natural, it's all natural, you are perfect the way that you are, don't overthink it.

What tips would you give to coming to terms with your sexuality?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Is There Still A Sexuality Stigma?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Homes Are Where The Heart Is

I come from a mostly sleepy, slightly rough town on the opposite side of the Mersey River to Liverpool (aka. If you were getting a ferry across the Mersey you'd either start or finish on my side of the water) and our little peninsula is known for having a society in which everybody knows everybody. Growing up, this is actually pretty cool; you meet a lot of people through the friends that you already have, you probably already have a few mates in common with literally everybody your age, and in fact you likely know what kind of clubs they frequent and at least one of their ex's. As a teenager, this is amazing. As an adult? Not so much. Since I left school, my most repeated quote was by far; "I don't know what scares me more, moving away from here or the idea that I never will", but the older I get the clearer it becomes; the idea of not ever leaving here leaves me cold.

Signs and Burgers
(Top-Bottom, L-R: Home Liverpool One, Fat Hippo Jesmond, Almost Famous Liverpool, The Stand Comedy Club Newcastle)

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing notoriously wrong with the Wirral but it just seems too small to contain me, I need something more; for many people this would be London, or New York, but to me they don't seem places to settle down forever - they are playgrounds of excitement for those under thirty. This weekend, most of you will probably know I headed up to Newcastle where my older brother goes to university. He's in his fifth year and so this is a city that I know pretty well, and as cool as Liverpool is, Newcastle is the coolest city I've ever been to. Whilst I was up there, I managed to catch a quick coffee with Rachel from Happy Little Syllables, after a little bit of a chat about the new project we are launching in December, Femtellectual, we got to chatting about our general lives. Whilst chatting about our home lives Rachel said,
"I don't really class Sunderland as my home, Newcastle is." and I didn't even pause in agreeing,
"Yeah, I see myself up here in the future, hopefully. It's the dream."
The weird thing is, until it came out of my mouth, I don't think I realised how true it is. A piece of my heart was left in Newcastle the first time I ever crossed the Tyne Bridge, the first time I ever set foot in the Baltic art gallery, the first time that I ever chowed down food in The Stand Comedy club surrounded by excited customers throwing off excitement ready for the show of the night.

A lot of you will know that I've been looking at going to University (although I remain on the fence about this as gobby equal rights promotor isn't actually an academic course, it turns out.) and it can't be coincidence that Northumbria - with a campus set firmly in the heart of Newcastle - keeps finding it's way back to the forefront of my internet browser. Yet, I felt disloyal admitting this out loud. My heart might have jumped ship at Fenwick's Christmas Window and refused to come home with me, but a part of it will always be here - lodged in freezing January Saturday afternoons sitting in St John's Gardens, in the Blue Planet Aquarium underwater shark tunnel, in the lounge at Panoramic 34 where the view of Liverpool could steal the air from your lungs no matter how many times that you saw it. 

Then it occurred to me; home will never be one singular place. I want to travel too far, and too wide for my roots to be lodged anywhere; whether it be Wirral or Newcastle. Home will be wherever I am, and I hope in the future that involves mountains, beaches, canals, tiny windy streets and big wide open spaces, it will be in Liverpool, Newcastle and my parents house in Spain. Home is where you settle down and make it, and it's all the other places you might have wrongly thought it was in the past, too. Home isn't where the heart is; homes are truly where the heart is.

Have you move away from home? Where do you consider your home to be now?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Getting Through Bad Days

Monday, 17 November 2014

OOTD: But You Kept My Old Scarf

As it's getting colder I've finally had to give in and buy a coat and a scarf (although I'm yet to be convinced to do my scarf up properly yet, it messes my hair up!) which is lucky as we're all headed up to Newcastle today and I may have frozen to death, otherwise. I also managed to pick up this new bag which you may have caught me talking about in my Handbag post - and people haven't stopped complimenting me on it.

Blue Coat
Coat - TU at Sainsburys // Reversable Scarf - Dorothy Perkins // Bag - Fawn 

Flowery Skirt
T-Shirt - New Look // Skirt [old] - (Similar Here) // Boots [old] - (Similar Here) // Bracelet - Pandora // Necklace [old] - (Similar Ish Style Here)

I'm still a bit wary about this look as the coat is longer than the back of my skirt and it often looks like I may as well be wearing a flasher trench (or I'm the tiniest bit paranoid, maybe.)

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sainsburys Christmas Advert 2014

Last night during the X-Factor my twitter feed blew up with opinions on the new Sainsbury's Christmas advert for this year. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's in association with the Royal British Legion and focuses on the 1914 football game played between German and British Troops; otherwise known as The Christmas Truce. Opinions about the advert seem to widely vary - whilst some found it emotional, touching and beautiful - some condemned it for just that; supposedly beautifying war.

Now, don't get me wrong; the war was (it goes without saying) in no way beautiful. The First World War was trench warfare, many soldiers died, not only from enemy gunfire or attacks but from infections that spread quickly through such close quarters, cholera and complications stemming from trench foot. Some argued that if Sainsbury's were showing war as it really was, rats would be eating the flesh of dead soldiers left to rot on the sidelines, that soldiers would be bloody, tired and dazed. They're not wrong, the war depicted was like every other war ever fought - horrifying and destructive, brutal and gory - but, and maybe I'm the only one thinking it, that's simply not the point of the advert. We see two young boys, scared and probably far from home fighting for a cause it's likely that neither of them understood. It was widely believed the war would be over and troops would be home by Christmas and these boys and men never thought that they would be there, on the front line, instead of at home opening presents with their families.

The men depicted might not be real, but thousands of Soldiers on December 25th 1914 were just like them; scared, young (some even too young to have signed up to the army in the first place) and a long, long way from their family homes on such an important day. The advert isn't meant to show how horrendous the war was, it is meant to recreate just the tiniest fraction of how that Christmas Truce must have felt to the men on the front line - in my eyes, it's meant to replicate on some tiny scale how Christmas must have felt to those boys; how getting the present of human decency, of a chance to forget the horror that they had seen for just a few minutes and to replicate some part of the life waiting for them back at home was more than they ever could have hoped for. It is watching the war how it must have seemed for soldiers on that day - not as two separate enemy sides but as boys that could have grown up side by side with one another had things been slightly different. The war was definitely not beautiful - but the Truce that happened that day and allowed a game of football to occur in the very piece of land both sides feared so greatly? I think it's hard to deny that that in itself definitely was. Some have argued that using the war as a supposed marketing ploy is tacky and inappropriate, but that's not how I see this. Sainsbury's have taken an important event, on an important year marker and made it relevant and a way to help such an important cause, and perhaps even a reminder of those still serving for us this holiday season. Sainsbury's have caught the moment in a tasteful and hearbreaking way, and if I can buy a chocolate bar like that in the advert and know that 50p from every sale goes to a member of our armed forces, perhaps on a front line himself or herself on Christmas Day this year? I'll be adding one to my basket.

Was did you think of the Sainsbury's Christmas Advert?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Oyatsu Box November 2014 Quick Review

I am a sucker for both food and a good subscription box and so when I asked about it on Twitter and got some good feedback about it from Danniella over at Famous In Japan, I decided to make the jump and order myself an Oyatsu Box. For those of you who don't know this is basically a box full to the brim of Japanese snacks and candy, and so when it arrived I immediately called upon my partner in crime, Craig from Notes and Negatives, and invited him over to give everything a go and try a little Japanese candy roulette. I paid $25 for this box - which is just shy of £16 - and I was really impressed!
(You can buy some of the items from the Oyatsu Cafe website so I will link if you can get your hands on it there with a price that was the correct conversion at the time of posting.)

Tetris Gummies
(L-R: Masuya Rice Cracker // PuyoPuyo Tetris Gummies // Chicken And Egg Lunch Soup)

Masuya Rice Cracker  - Out of all the box this seemed like the worst offender so we hit it up first. It seemed too hard and almost brittle to be a rice cracker but we were pleasantly surprised, very much like an English rice cracker but sort of more densely packed with a flavouring that reminded me of BBQ sauce, I was weirdly a fan!

PuyoPuyo Tetris Gummies ($1.99/£1.29) - We really wanted to play with these but resisted the urge! The flavours alone are much like typical gummies in England (they come in Lemon, Grape, Strawberry, Orange, Melon and Ramune flavours) but we had so much fun mixing them together to create the recipes on the back - which are pretty true to the flavours that they produce.

Chicken and Egg Lunch Soup - I'm sorry, I didn't try this (I have given it to my Dad if you're desperate for a review) chicken flavoured anything makes me gag and I cannot stand soup; this was a nightmare for me.

Green Tea KitKats
(L-R: Kuchidoke Pocky // Green Tea Matcha Japanese KitKat // Doreamon Ramune Gum)

Kuchidoke Pocky ($2.49/£1.59) - One of our favourite things in the box, but we both love Pocky anyway. This tastes like dark chocolate pocky but has a chocolate dusting covering it; it's a nice change to the milk chocolate/strawberry pocky which can be a little sweet, without being bitter.

Green Tea Matcha Japanese KitKat ($6.99/£4.45) - We expected to really love these, and Craig did, but I was a little underwhelmed. I like that they're mini KitKats and they're sweetly individually wrapped but they just mostly taste like the Cookies and Cream KitKat we already have here. Not horrible, just not stand out.

Doreamon Ramune Gum - This stuff is awesome. It tastes like a Japanese fizzy drink from what I can tell, I'm not sure if that's true but it's sort of berry like/fruity without being overwhelming. I love a good chewing gum anyway and this is old school in sticks wrapped in puzzle paper, I'm keeping these in my bag for work, maybe I'll do the puzzles if the bus journey to or from gets too boring!

Soda Marshmallows
(L-R: DIY Candy Neru Neru Nerune Otanoshimi // Calpis Soda Marshmallows)

Neru Neru Nerune Otanoshimi ($2.99/£1.90) - We didn't actually get round to doing this as it was the last thing we pulled out of the box and I wanted to do it properly and take photographs so we left it for another day this week. I am so excited to finally try and do my own DIY candy after I spend so many hours watching YouTube videos about it when I was younger. I'll probably tweet or blog it so keep an eye out!

Calpis Soda Marshmallows - Literally my favourite thing in the whole box. Japanese marshmallow seems to have a slightly different texture to English marshmallow, a lot springier but less sticky, this is filled with a gel core that tastes like Calpis soda (it sort of reminds me of Lilt? Like almost tropical.) I could have devoured all of these in one sitting but it's worth noting Craig hated them!

So that's my Oyatsu Box quick review, I'd really appreciate it if anyone let me know what Japanese food boxes they've tried and liked in the past, or let me know what you think of Oyatsu Box!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Slut Thing

Come in closer and let me tell you a little bit of a secret; I'm not in a relationship. I know, crazy right? That in the 21st century I'm a twenty year old woman with no partner to speak of; what a fresh, new world (I'm even allowed to show my ankles in public these days, society has made some fabulous strides forward). Yet I still kiss people, I still talk to multiple people of my own sex and of different sexes, sometimes I even talk to more than one person at the same time.

Woah, woah, woah, I know it's shocking, I'll understand if you need to sit down.

So, here's the thing. I want somebody out there in this great wide universe to answer me the age old question: why does that qualify me to fall in the realms of being called a slut? Now, I'm not going to get all up on my feminist soap box about the double standards of this being acceptable for males, but speaking to a friend of mine (and I know I said I wouldn't blog about it but, really, you should have known it would end up on here some time) he imparted this bit of wisdom on me - I assume just to wind me up, as he's actually one of the most open-minded people I've ever met;

"If a key opens many locks, it's a master key. If a lock is opened by many keys? It's a sh*tty lock."

But here's the million dollar answer. I'm not a lock, I'm not waiting for someone with a key to come and unburden me, I'm unlocking some doors of my own to see what's behind them. I am a twenty year old girl, and just like a many men are exploring their options for the future, women are - and have actually for a number of years been - doing the same. This isn't some weird, new age thing; it's a natural, human thing. I've dated girls and I've dated guys, and now is one of the only times I'm going to get to explore which side of the fence my future is destined to lie with. I'm not a slut for keeping my mind open (notice I said mind here, and not legs. My communication with people of the opposite sex doesn't necessarily have to occur post-coital and blissed out, it can happen through text or Facebook messenger.) I'm not a slut for talking to more than one person at a time - god forbid I might get along royally with more than one human in the same sitting - I'm not a slut; full stop.

It is, in fact, a term I find bizarre and when I googled it's origin it doesn't surprise me at all to find that it doesn't have a known one- it is quite literally a made up word to degrade the sexual actions of women. I may not be able to tell you the origin of the word but I can tell you the use of it in this sense dates back to 1450; exactly where it should be left. Since 1450 women have been allowed to vote, they have been allowed to work, wear shorts, drink and gamble, we've even started to smash away at that pesky glass ceiling - slowly, but we're making progress nonetheless - So, why is there still a word to chastise me for what I choose to do with my own body, a word recognized by all and used frequently in every day life. I still get insulted using a word that implies that I like to have sex frequently - does nobody else find that weird? Sex is fantastic, and if I have it frequently then you should be high-fiving me if anything. The fact that I've just let slip that I'm not a virgin on such a public forum no doubt just adds further ammunition, but here's the final nail in the coffin - I can't win. If I sleep with the statistical average of 4.7 partners for UK women (Interestingly, this is lower than the world average for women which is 6.8) I would suggest that's high enough to label me a slut already, and yet if I don't sleep with any? I'm frigid. As Fiona said on twitter yesterday when I asked for opinions; "Be sexy, but don't have too much sex."

Come in closer and let me tell you a little bit of a secret; I have slept with less than half of the statistical average of partners for women in the UK, and yet I am considered a slut because my loyalty whilst not in a relationship doesn't lie with one singular person. If non-monogamous girls are to be called sluts; so be it, I will be a slut. I will not let a word rooted in the middle ages dictate the life that I lead, I will not let a single word degrade a healthy and full sex life in my future, I will not cringe away from introducing new people into my life for fear of how it looks. The man or woman that I choose to marry will understand why I am not a slut and, if you don't want me to marry you? Why are you so worried about who I'm sleeping with, talking to or dating enough to call me a slut anyway?

Slut is just a word, a single word. Similarly, so are "ignorant", "uneducated" and "jumped-up" (okay, so that's hyphenated, but I'm going to allow it.)

What's your opinion on the word slut?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Before I even start on the book I feel like I should share two important points;

1: I am addicted to books, I have been able to read basically since I was born and therefore I live a life of "READ THE BOOK, THE BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK." This occurs every time I read a new book, pretty much. (This one does really stand out though, seriously.)
2: I am so uncool it's unreal, and I like to think that I rock it (realistically, I probably don't. I just used the words "rock it" non-ironically, for god's sake.)

Mindy Kaling Book Cover

I finally managed to get around to buying and reading "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" By Mindy Kaling! I read such good reviews on this book and I searched for it everywhere before finally managing to get my hands on it in the tiniest, crappiest Waterstones known to man (just trust me on this one, it's not in a great area.) I have to admit, I was doubtful about how good this was going to be, judging that I'd previously considered Lena Dunham's book before that scandal reached a head, but nonetheless I settled down with it yesterday to give it a fair go. Fast forward three hours, two Frozen Fancies and a Christmas Bakewell and I'd finished the book in one solid sitting and passed it straight on to a friend. Seriously, I don't even know where to start.

There's something sweet and sisterly about Mindy, and it's reassuring that I'm all too aware that the advice she has to impart could only have come from somebody who had been there and done that and was now willing to tell the tale. There's something comforting about reading struggles from somebody that you know comes out okay and hell, even pretty successful, on the other side. Here's the thing; I love a happy ending, and if you say that you don't? You're lying. This is one. It's partial autobiography where, yes she breaks a best friends nose, nearly tears her ligaments diving into a pool and learns to love watching sports nearly as much as she hates playing them, but we all know she comes out Mindy Kaling; co-writer of "The Office" and creator of "The Mindy Project". There's just something refreshing about Mindy, something so unpretentiously funny and awkward, that is relateable to the point it makes you want to devour the book in one sitting and pass it on, just like I did.

The book is funny, no doubt, it's full of realistic advice from a girl who is just like the rest of us; stumbling through adulthood wishing we were in a Romantic Comedy, just as much as we're pulling apart the women that it's genre offers up to us. It's also charming, heartwarming and more than a little helpful. It's a growing up guide for when you feel too old to have a guide, but too young to figure it out for yourself. It's a cautionary tale, it's a reassuring pat on the back. Overall? It's a memoir, and it's done perfectly. Forget Lena Dunham and not being That Kind Of Girl (and just for a minute, let's pretend that's the biggest issue most of us have with Lena Dunham right now, as that's for another post) Be that kind of girl and embrace that we all are, embrace the woman that Mindy showcases and celebrates with such contagious hilarity that it makes you proud to be exactly the girl that you are.

Have you read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? What did you think of it?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Honest To Blog

In more than a few blogger chats lately, I've noticed a recurring theme. It's true that for the most part I've met a lot of you through your blog, and therefore know you as a part of it (or it as a part of you). However, lately it's been suggested that our blogs are something to us that I'd never considered mine to be before; Our Brand.

We've all seen the rise of the SuperBloggers, girls and boys that were once snowed in by a whole mountain of ambiguous blogs; just like we ourselves started out (or in my case,  still remain) and - just like Zoe Sugg has slowly become Zoella, Alfie Deyes has developed into Pointless Blog and Tanya Burr... Well no, actually, she just stayed Tanya Burr - brand recognition seems to be the final destination for a lot of bloggers. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on it. If I could skip the years of school that I've been considering to become a journalist and get a future through the blog that I so lovingly continue to create, I'd jump on it without so much as a second thought and - no matter how much they deny it - I think it's fair to say most other bloggers would, too. It just seems a little... Impersonal, I guess for me, to consider Little Fickle a cold, hard brand.

Little Fickle Phone and Laptop

When I set up Little Fickle it was for a number of reasons. It was because I felt like women need a more powerful voice and I was willing to speak out, it was because writing has always been my passion, to make friends, because I had too many opinions and just not enough people to listen to them. I brought Little Fickle into existence for a whole number of reasons, but to become "Sammy (in co-operation with Little Fickle Blog)" wasn't one of them. When, in the future, I set out to make a difference, I want people to know my name for what it is and as proud as I am of Little Fickle, I didn't create it as a part of that. The rise of new bloggers treating their blog as a brand is fascinating. It's inspiring, and admirable, and frustrating and sad all in one, for me. In my eyes the fact is that I couldn't treat Little Fickle as a Brand, because it isn't one, it's a place to come home to, a place for me and a place I hope the world will come to love as much as I love writing it (too cheesy? I feel like that's too cheesy.) 

Our blogs are our brands in the same ways that our personalities are; in such a raw, flawed and relateable way. They are a part of us, and I fall in love with blogs for the humor in their tone, the passion in the writing and the people behind them. I'm not crapping on your dreams, people. If you want to make your blog a brand then you go, girl (or boy), you work it and I hope that it serves you as well as it has done others. In my opinion though? The brand that comes naturally along with writing a blog that you love, and a blog that you are passionate about? That's the kind of brand that's going to take you far in life. So I'm not saying don't use your blog for a career, have a future in it if there is one, take every chance that is even remotely offered to you; I'm simply suggesting that - contrary to what seems to be popular belief - you don't have to set out to make your blog a brand, you're creating one simply by being yourself and continuing to write.

Do you see your blog as a brand? What do you think of the idea?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Getting Through Bad Days

If you are (un)fortunate enough to follow me on Twitter then you'll know that yesterday was a little bit of a horror story beginning to end. I cried at the John Lewis advert, I cried when I missed my bus, I did a busy shift in work, had to get the school bus home, then cried in the bath about my 21st birthday. My throat has been sore, I haven't been sleeping and, basically, I've been one crazed ball of upset and tears, which genuinely isn't like me. As it isn't very often that I get upset, it's something I find really difficult to deal with; I always feel a little bit like a lost lamb and I don't really feel like I have many people to talk to. In case you're like me (or even if you're not) I've come up with some - almost - fail safe tips on how to get through bad days.

Text Screenshot

1: Turn To Friends
It doesn't have to be a "I feel bad, can you help?" conversation, sometimes just the bare basics; someone saying something to make you laugh or just a simple reminder that you actually aren't alone in all this can make you feel better. Bonus points if the friends have chocolate, cake, chocolate cake or resort to using an insane amount of emojis.

2: Leave The Phone At Home
When I'm upset, one of my big issues is that (unsurprisingly) none of my friends have telepathically picked up on my sadness and dropped me a text about it. Nothing bad is going to happen if you leave the phone and walk away. Take an hour away from Twitter and Facebook. Take an hour away from it all, just take the time to breathe, think, start to move forward. Stop googling rubbish quotes and crying over Adele lyrics - it won't make you feel any better.

3: Netflix Is Your Best Friend
I know the "watch a crappy film" cliche is so,  so overplayed; but seriously. For every good film there is on Netflix we're talking a solid four bad ones in it's wake. My top three choices would have to be Bratz, Wild Child (standard) and, a new favourite, GBF.

4: Stop Wallowing
I am the absolutely worst for starting crying then creating a long list of things I have going on that are crappy and then I never stop crying. Stop wallowing in it, allow yourself ten minutes and then move forward. Think about something else - Play a game, read a book, catch up with yourself and try your best to keep your mind off what it is that's making you sad. It's easier said than done, but trying to work through your problems with a clear head is much, much easier.

5: Eat The Cake/Chocolate/Crisps/All Of The Above
Although comfort eating is not recommended for every day use, on that one day when you come in feeling like everything has gone to crap? Eat the cake. Eat every piece of junk food you can get your hands on. Sugar highs are short lived, but there's a lot to be said for the power of crying into a bag of tangy cheese Doritos.

I want to clarify that feeling sad for a long period of time with or without a cause can be a sign of depression and should always be checked out by a doctor or healthcare professional.

What do you do to try and cheer yourself up after a particularly bad day?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A Letter To My Future Children

I've been toying with the idea of writing a letter to my younger self, an idea increasingly popular amongst bloggers at the minute, for a little while now. After seeing this post by India over at Touchscreens and Beautyqueens about the idea that giving advice to your younger self might change the self that you are right now, I decided she was right and so instead I decided to write a letter to my future children (they'll probably listen to me better than a younger version of myself ever would!)

Dear Future Children,

I don't really know where to start, except I am acutely aware of my obsession with superheroes and bad American TV, so first off, apologies if your names are a little unconventional. I'm writing to give you a little advice, although if you're anything like me then you're probably too strong-willed and hard-headed to take it (that will serve you well in the future, though.)

First up, people lie. Bit of a grim place to start isn't it, but it's true. I didn't learn that until my late teens, and it was one of the things I struggled with. I struggled to realise that boys and girls will all lie, but that doesn't mean that they love you any less. People tell white lies to keep face, and save dignity, and they tell whopping great black lies for reasons that you might never understand. One lie doesn't undo all the delicate stitching that wove your friendship or relationship into place, just like the lies that you tell, no matter how big or small, won't define you for the rest of your life.

Second port of call broken hearts are amongst the worst pain you will have to endure. I wish I could say that you won't have to suffer them, that you won't ever experience it; but you will. Your heart will break when your favorite characters die in books, when your friends leave for different universities, when a boy or girl who promised you forever cruelly snatches the remainder of that promised time away. Time is a healer, so is holing up under your duvet watching all the films that people talk about that you never got round to watching. You will get over it in time, you will learn to live as a new, stronger version of yourself, you will thank the person that broke your heart - one day.

The third most important thing I can teach you is trust your gut. Have faith in your instincts, know that you are the best judge of character that you have in your life, and if something doesn't feel right? Be strong enough to walk away - no matter what anybody else has to say about it. Always trust in your first gut instinct, no matter whether it's about which way to walk home, which people to walk away from in a club or whether a Snickers or a Kinder Bueno is the right choice to make when you only have enough money for one.

I could teach you a million other life lessons, I'm sure; but the point is to learn for yourself. Let the grazed knees and broken hearts set up a clearer path for the future. Don't be worried about starting things for fear of how they will end, never be afraid of yourself - whether that be sexuality, knowledge, strength - own it, let it define you, there are worse things that could. Most of all; know that I will always love you, that I will always be accepting and proud; just like my Mum and Dad taught me to be. Also, be proud of your music/film/tv taste, because it will be amazing with me as a parent.

Your Future Mum xx

So what advice would you give to your future children?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Alder Hey Alphabet Scarves

Now, if you're a fan of Pixie Lott or you've been keeping an eye on the magazines this week, you'll probably have seen one of these charity scarves from Matalan gracing the neck of one celebrity or another. I managed to pick a kids one up in my initial (which does actually fit, by the way, and is super soft and fleecy inside) for £5, but I do plan on getting my hands on an adult sized one (£10) as soon as I find a Matalan that isn't sold out! Now you might think, why bother buying two? Well, Matalan are giving 100% profit to charity, and the particular charity they're supporting is one close to my heart; Alder Hey Children's Charity.

Alder Hey Hospital Alphabet Scarf

If you read my Strictly Need To Know post when I first set up Little Fickle, you'll know that I have an astigmatism or, basically speaking, my eye is rugby ball shaped as opposed to being round. This caused a lot of problems when I was a kid and so I went to see an Optometrist about twice a year in Alder Hey, a children's hospital about 5 miles out from Liverpool City Centre. Now, I remember some pretty crappy stuff from when I was there; things like eye dilation drops, a test where I used to have to see a picture (which I never could) in a seemingly random pattern of dots and journeys that seemed to last forever (although maybe that was just my perception as a kid.) Having said that, I also remember some amazing things; the ever friendly staff, playing in the soft play with other kids waiting for their appointments and colourful murals on the wall.

Celebrities Alder Hey Scarves

I was lucky enough to not need Alder Hey for a huge amount of time, but for those who do it can be a real savior. It's a hospital for kids, and it shows in the staff, the hospital surroundings and all the services that it provides; including but not limited to it's Ronald McDonald House, meaning the parents of children who don't live locally can stay on site. Wear it because celebrities are, wear it because you need a scarf, wear it as a fashion statement; it doesn't matter - Just wear it, and support Alder Hey Children's Charity.

What do you think about the alphabet scarves? Will you be buying one?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tattoos

Imagine that everywhere I went I carried a picture of a circle with me. I didn't force you to look at the circle, I didn't make you talk about the circle, but if you asked I would answer any questions about it politely and informatively. I didn't force you to carry a picture of a circle around with you, nor did I judge the fact that you chose not to carry one - even though I'm not the only person in the world to do so by a long stretch. Imagine that, although the circle made absolutely no impact on how well I could carry out my job; employers could make the decision not to hire me on that, and that alone. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? That's exactly the problem that I look to face in the future (or at least, if you listen to my parents) because of this one tiny tattoo.

Circle Tattoo

The truth is, I don't get it. I'm not heavily tattooed by any means, I have this one and another set of lyrics along my foot, both of which are hidden 99.9% of the time. Unfortunately, a huge amount of high powered jobs will require me to have my hair tied back, or I would choose to tie it back as I often do, to prevent annoyance when I'm concentrating (in the style of Violet Baudelaire. 100 points to you, if you get that reference) and that makes this an issue. Although of course when I got this done I recognized that there would be some uproar, I mostly imagined that it would come from my parents ("You'll hate that when you're 80." Thanks, Mum, but if I still remember who I am at eighty I'm counting it as a bonus.) In a world where up to 29% of men and women in the UK have a tattoo, it is completely and utterly bizarre that they can still determine your future outcome. That's right - over a quarter of UK residents have at least one tattoo, and you can still be turned away from some jobs because of it - and there are still people out there who believe that's the correct course of action.

I assumed that this was a generation gap thing, my parents grew up in a decade where tattoos weren't as accessible, acceptable or common as they are in the one I grew up in, so taking to twitter I asked for some opinions from my own generation;

Now don't get me wrong, some of the replies were exactly how I'd expected them to go - that the way people look has absolutely no impact on people's capabilities to do a job, and that their bodies are theirs to do what they want. Having said that, a few were confusing to me; mostly those that suggested visible tattoos didn't fit in with a suit/skirt dress code, or that they looked unprofessional.

Woah, hold up. Did I miss something here? Is there an unwritten clause in the suit/skirt dress code that says "smart office wear and absolutely no self expression, no matter if that decision was made at the age of eighteen - as an adult - was carefully thought through, and bares no offence to any surrounding workers?" Is there a time in Medical School where a student can be told, "No, no, it's not that you're not our top student, it's just that that flower you have on your wrist is taking you down to a solid middle at best". Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this is an opinion that is invalid - but to me that seems a little like suggesting that your professional ethic might be affected by the shirt that you chose to wear today, simply because it's not one that I'm used to seeing in a similar job role, or a colour or style that I myself might have picked.  Interestingly enough, some people seem to think that certain jobs are more "suited" to tattooed people than others, for instance if I chose to be a politician clearly my tattoo would make me an unprofessional candidate, but should I choose to be a journalist and use the same skills and knowledge to write about politics as opposed to practicing it, my tattoo would matter much, much less.

The fact is, when my hair covers this tattoo - I have the same skills. I can still read ridiculously fast, I can still touch type, I can still preach politics, share informed views on current events and justify my opinions on a whole variety of topics. Tying my hair back doesn't turn me into a babbling moron, it doesn't take away any skills that might contribute to my asset in certain work places - I am the same person, with the same skills, just now the tiny ring of ink I have tattooed behind my ear is visible. Here's an idea; if you don't think tattoos look professional - don't get one. If you think my tattoos make me look unprofessional? I'll only ever show my right side to you whilst in a professional environment. If you don't believe that you want your children to be taught by those with tattoos, or you don't want to be seen by a doctor with some? Maybe train up yourself. You might not be on the same level of skill, but at least your unmodified skin won't offend anyone.

What do you think of tattoos and the influence that they can have on getting a job?

Sammy xo.
 
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