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Advice for your first bar job


Can you see me?



These days I might be a professional marketer, but during university and breaks in employment bar work was my calling. 

I honestly love it. I wouldn't do it as a career job as I am an introvert much more suited to the background desk job. But I love cocktails, it's an easy way to meet new people, and I could get into clubs without paying.

It's not for everyone. Like all jobs, there is a certain skill set that is required in order to do it properly and effectively. I have seen people being fired and I've seen people fail trial shifts. I've also known people to leave bar jobs after a few weeks having decided it just wasn't for them.

But saying that, it might just be for you (either just to help financially while at university or as a career). This post isn't intended to scare anyone, just a few pointers for your first few months on the job.

Finding a bar job
Almost every bar person I know started off in either of the following positions: a bar job in their local pub or in a very basic student nightclub who employ students who are freshly 18 and cheaper to employ.

It might be you're aim to work in a fancy cocktail bar, however these places are more hesitant to take someone with no experience. Just pop into your local and ask - that's exactly what I did. I started out in a local golf club and later I was shaking French Martinis in a recognisable Glasgow bar. Like all your local establishments on Facebook because if they're doing a recruitment drive that's where you'll hear about it (that's how I got my Glasgow job).

On a trial shift they usually look for the following things
No one expects you to come in and memorise the entire cocktail list on your first shift, so calm down. On a trial shift they'll be looking for someone who is friendly with the customers and other staff, isn't a total idiot, and already has some basic alcohol knowledge (on one of my trail shifts, there was a girl who thought there was such a thing as a half pint of prosecco...she wasn't kept on). Also eat plenty beforehand as this is a physical job, and always look busy. 

Quickly learn what the bar sells
This is one thing I recommend you swot up on quickly. The most common question you'll get from customers will be "what do you sell?" or "what pint would you recommend" or "how much does such and such cost?". When you're running orders through the till keep an eye on the prices of everything, and study the menus on the website.

You'll learn on the job...but learn quickly
While you won't be expected to identify what wine is the driest straight away, you'll need to learn this soon-ish. There's a lot to learn when working in a bar, from learning what the bar sells, to how to work the till, to where everything is kept, to how to make cocktails by heart and where the toilets are. Soaking up these things as quickly as you can shows your manager you're taking the job seriously and it will make your own life a lot easier if you quickly learn (you might even progress to supervisor).

Things to pack in your bag
A pen (and spares), some paracetamol or ibuprofen, spare make-up, and deodorant. A spare jumper is also handy to throw if you're involved in the clean-up at the end or to throw over yourself while on your break so customers won't bother you. 

You can tell customers it's your first shift
When I started at the golf club and a customer asked me a question I didn't know the answer to I turned into a bumbling mess and rushed off to ask someone else. At later jobs I confidently said "Oh, it's actually only my first/second/third shift, I'll just have a check for you".

The mandatory licensing exam
By law, all bartenders in Scotland have to read a booklet explaining the law to them, answer a quick multiple choice quiz and sign some papers saying they understand what is legally expected of them. It's easy, but it is an essential part of the job. It is, however, putting it into practice that can be difficult which leads me onto...

Being assertive
Tying into the point just above, there are laws regarding the sale of alcohol that will require you to be assertive with customers. People will try and get 'an extra little bit of wine' or ask you not to open the can (I have actually ended up in a tug of over an unopened can of Red Stripe). Or there will be times you'll question someone's age but don't want to risk embarrassment when you find out they're actually 27. Remember, it's the law and the fine is hefty on bar staff if they break it.

(On a side note: don't get pissy about getting ID'd, bar staff risk their jobs and bank balance if they don't check)

Some bars are better for your first bar job than others
While working in a fancy cocktail bar makes you sound like a more interesting person at a dinner party, I wouldn't recommend it as a starting place. I started in a golf club that consisted of old men ordering pints, women wanting pots of tea and lemonade for the junior golfers coming in with their pocket money. I hated it there, but it kitted me out with the bar basics before moving on somewhere that serves cocktails, every shot you could imagine and several wine options. Like all jobs, start easy and move up. 

(Saying that, if you nab yourself a bar job somewhere fancy, congrats and go get them!).

Setting work goals
Setting benchmarks in a bar job is a bit more complicated than some other lines of work, as a lot of what you do in one night is determined by what the customers order. However, there are a few goals you can still make for yourself. Some that I've made for myself have included: remembering to put the credit card charge on every card payment, getting quicker at the cleaning up, remembering to offer cashback, and carrying empty glasses properly. I also took a picture of the cocktail menu and cheat sheet on my phone so I could swot up at home!

Hints and tips on getting...tips
One of the major benefits to bar work is the extra money made through tips. The amount of tips you can expect will vary depending on where you work but there a few things I've learnt over the years:
- be friendly and smiley
- look your best and follow dress codes etc (it's a shame, but pretty privilege is a thing)
- customers who ask for complicated orders tend to tip better so if someone orders a mojito, two jagerbombs, a pint of Guinness, two bottles of Peroni, a cup of tea and three packet of crisps, wants to pay by card and asks for £30 cash back, it's time to strut your stuff and pretend like you're not secretly dying inside
- women tip better than men, and when men do tip it's usually when they're on a date with the missus

If you've worked in a bar before, what would you recommend to someone looking to get into it? 
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How to support colleagues and employees with dietary issues




Some of you may have caught my Twitter rant a while ago about office cake culture (I originally wrote this blog back then). If you don't have any dietary restrictions you might be rolling your eyes right now. But think: how many times has a colleague walked around the office and placed a slice of cake on everyone's desk or someone has brought in exactly the right amount of donuts for every person? Or booked the Christmas night out and not asked if anyone has dietary restrictions? 

If you don't have a diet that is restricted, these things have probably went over your head. But in every single office I have ever worked (yes, every god damn one) I've either been made to feel awkward when I received birthday cake I couldn't eat, sat hungry in business conferences or been asked by a manager why I wasn't more enthusiastic about the office version of the Great British Bake Off.

It's not just as simple as speaking up and plainly stating why you won't eat cake (or whatever food people are dishing up). I prefer to keep my veganism (and all other political and moral opinions) out the office. It's not just veganism though. The list of reasons why someone might omit certain foods is endless: religion, diabetes, IBS, eating disorder recovery, allergies, celiac disease, high cholesterol, kidney disease, gout, and heart disease are just a few. Some of these reasons are understandably not something someone would like to discuss in the office, and shouldn't be forced to.

So that's why I've compiled a list of thing you can do to 1) consider that some people do have a restricted diet and 2) to do so in a way that respects their privacy and doesn't force them to have a conversation they'd rather not have with their colleagues. 

1. Take a head count before you pop out for donuts
Or cupcakes. Or bacon rolls. Don't come into the office and get butthurt when you realise you spent excess money because you put the "Ass Out of You and Me" into assume.

If you want to buy your colleagues a mid-day snack, make sure they actually want it. 

2. No means no
If someone politely declines food don't say "are you sure?", "oh, are you being good?" or - the worst - "well, I'm cutting you a slice anyway". Be polite and move onto the next person. 

No means no in literally every situation on the planet. No is a good word. 

3. Don't buy a birthday cake unless you know what you're doing
That birthday cake I mentioned earlier? It was my 26th birthday and my colleagues had bought me a cake that was labelled as vegetarian. They told me they weren't 100% sure I could eat it but they had seen me eat cake before so assumed it was okay (they had in fact seen me eat vegan cake). I ended up giving the cake to the guy I was seeing at the time, and I have no idea if he even ate it.  

I appreciate that they did try, but I would have preferred to get a non-food related gift with the money they collected. I think most other people with dietary restrictions would as well. Only buy someone a cake if you are certain you can get it right. 

4. Ask for dietary requirements when booking team dinners
The Christmas dinner in my first graduate job was originally going to be at a seafood restaurant. I decided I'd let other people have fun and I'd sit it out...until I found out the owners considered it mandatory to attend (that's another wtf all in itself). I then sheepishly said that I didn't eat meat. Thankfully they changed it because no one wanted to go to a seafood restaurant anyway. But if you thought that was the end of the drama, it wasn't. I had to repeat myself every goddamn year. 

Before booking anything, e-mail round asking if anyone has any dietary requirements or preferences. If someone does, goddamn respect it. I also live in Glasgow, where there are plenty of restaurants that cater to both meat-eaters and vegans, so there are no excuses. 

5. Realise that allergies can actually be deadly
There's a persistent rumour that an allergic reaction involves nothing more than a bad stomach and that a day in bed will fix it.

*head desk*

Allergies can be lethal. If someone in your team has a severe allergy that means it might potentially be life threatening. Actually understand that, and understand it some more. Allergies can kill.

I don't have an allergy, so can't give much more insight. But don't be that person who eats peanut butter sandwiches at their desk when they know the person right beside them is deathly allergic.  

6. Consider social events that don't centre around food
Why does it have to be a team dinner? There are some dietary restrictions that prevent people from ever going near a restaurant. If someone in your team falls into this category be a star and think of something that doesn't involve food. Paintballing? Football trip? Marathon? Day at the fun fayre? Seaside day trip? Picnic? Pub Quiz? Roller skating disco?

7. Don't assume an employee is disengaged if they don't partake
Sometimes a dietary requirement does prevent someone from partaking in work events, whether it's a conference, social event or trip away. Myself and others with dietary requirements do worry that we might get passed up for promotions or horizontal development because we're assumed to be disengaged. When in reality it's our dietary requirements not being respected (either by the company or wider society).

8. Don't pry
I prefer not to talk about my reasons for being vegan in an office. I would just rather everyone left it as "Morag is vegan and doesn't eat cheese". I don't want to end up in an argument with someone about the ethics of the dairy industry, or explain how I get my protein.

Usually these conversations involve me responding with three word answers and squirming in my chair. I'm clearly uncomfortable discussing this. Please use some emotional intelligence and recognise my desire to change the subject.

If someone always turns down cake, it's not your business why.

If you're someone with dietary issues, what's something you wish your colleagues understood? 
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Make-up for small and close-together eyes



We all have that feature we dislike and try to cover-up or balance out with make-up. 

For me, one of these features is my close together and small eyes (which are slightly deep set to boot). Now, I know we shouldn't get hung up on these things and make-up should be fun and creative, but when you have something you're a bit insecure about make-up can create the illusion of smaller, bigger or more sculpted features (and it's cheaper than going under the knife!).

It took me years to work out how to create the illusion that my eyes are bigger and wider-set than they naturally are (the Avril Lavigne smokey eye I kept trying as a teenager really wasn't a good look) but these days I reckon I have it on point. 

Obviously, not all of these tips will work for everyone. Heck I don't even make use of all these tips myself. Even if you do have small eyes you might have another feature that these tips will clash with so play around and find out what works with your overall face. 

Conceal like a pro


I've always been big on the under-eye concealer because I have hereditary dark under-eye circles. Said circles also create the illusion that my already close-together eyes are wayyyy closer than they are naturally. Whether you have dark circles, or small eyes, spending a bit of extra time round the eye area with some concealer can create a more open look.

And by some concealer, I mean three (I told you my concealer game was strong and, oh yeah, remember a good eyehsadow primer before you start). My first concealer is a colour-correcting product - I personally prefer yellow to start off (my favourite is Barry M) but you might find peach or green works better for you. Then I go in with a thick concealer, such as Illamasqua (non-vegan but is good if you're just CF) or Hourglass. Then, I finished it off with some light-reflecting concealer (my favourite is the bargain Barry M liquid concealer). You can also finish is off with some setting power if you're going somewhere nice.

A note on a dark circles: a bad night's sleep makes mine worse, so get plenty of downtime. 

Retire the dark smokey eye


A wise person once said that you shouldn't blindly follow trends, and instead work out what suits you. That's exactly why you'll never see me wearing a smokey eye (despite my attempts to pull it off in the noughties). If you really want to wear a smokey, opt for a lighter grey shadow. 

Your eyelashes deserve some attention


Mascara is a considered a must by beauty lovers. For anyone with close together eyes they can help widen the peepers. Remember to concentrate on the outer corners and don't focus too much on the inner corners. Consider investing in a pair of heated eyelash curlers as well. Set them off with false eyelashes at night time, but don't buy the extra volume falsies - it's the lengthening once you want in your stash.


Consider a cat flick


I love liquid eyeliner and I really don't feel "made up" unless I have a cat flick drawn on. Just like the smokey eye, concentrate on the outer corners to help draw attention away from your small gap.

Step away from that waterline


Avril Lavigne was my fashion icon circa 2003 and I even dyed my hair to match hers in the My Happy Ending video.  I pulled that off, but something I couldn't pull off? Her eye-make up - especially lining my waterline with black liner. A cat flick looks great on small eyes, but anything on the bottom lash line just boxes them up.  

You're not Cara Delevingne


Thick eyebrows are in right now, and while I know a few small-eyed babes who can pull them off, generally speaking they're better left to those with naturally wide set peepers. Eyebrows and eyes should be well balanced. There's some debate as to where an eyebrow should start, and I'm in the camp that eyebrows should be plucked to be in line with the start of your eye - but if you have close together eyes plucking just a tiny little bit more will help create the illusion of wider set eyes.

I fill mine in gently to the point where they look almost natural. And I darken them after the natural arch. I use the HD Brow Powder (I've owned this pre-cruelty-free, and they never responded to my email) and darken the outer corners with Barry M It's a Brow Thing.

Lips, lips, lips


This tip might not work for everyone but I always wear a solid lip colour. It's a win-win for me as I quite like my lips, I suit most colours, and it pulls attention away from my eyes. Try a bold colour and see if it works for you. 

And some tricks that don't involve make-up 


Make-up isn't the only tool in the arsenal to create that wide awake look - you can also use your hair and jewellery. When it comes to hair my two main tips are: if your eyes are close set don't opt for a middle parting, and consider keeping your hair off your face. The first option is obviously to not drag the attention to the middle of your face, but the second is because it allows there to be more skin showing on the outside of your eyes, helping balance the small gap between the eyes. There's a lot of ways to get creative with your hair here: wear a simply ponytail, a topnot or get fancy with a headscarf.

As for jewellery: an eye-catching pair of earrings can transform many a facial feature. They can help balance out a close together eyes as well as a big nose and can feminise harsher features. If you're a fan of facial piercings, certain locations can balance out your face. Anything along the nose will drag attention to the small gap, but a lip piercing can pull attention away. Eyebrow piercing are not very trendy these days, but if they ever come back into fashion they'll help drag attention to the outer corners of the eyes.

Further Reading: 
Close-Set Eyes: The Makeup Tricks To Master If You Have Them
8 Eye Makeup Tips For Close Set Eyes
Beginner Eye Makeup For Close Set Eye
Fake It Until You Make It: Making Close Set Eyes Look Wider


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Vegan options on Glasgow Deliveroo




For a long time I was totally anti-takeaways, for two reasons:-

1. They're damn expensive. You can get a weekly shop for the same price as a Pizza Hut meal deal. 
2. You rarely see a V sign beside any of the options. 

Then in the past year I found Deliveroo, which cancels out both these aversions. If you're new to the party (or this century) Deliveroo is a sort of AirBnb or Uber for local restaurants where said restaurants sign up but the Deliveroo branded drivers/bikeriders/motorcyclists are the ones who actually deliver the orders. Glasgow is known for it's eclectic dining scene so it's no surprise that the options on Glasgow's Deliveroo are awesome and have plenty of vegan options. 

Granted I would still rather go out to eat and there's has been controversy over how well paid the Deliveroo drivers actually are. But for nights where I have a friend visiting and they're too tired after their journey, or I'm cuddled up on an indoor date, Deliveroo is what I opt for. And the delivery charge is not that much (it might differ if you live further away from the city centre) so you're not paying much more than you would if you were heading out. 

Here is the selection of vegan delicacies on Glasgow Deliveroo (might depend on your address). 

Pizza Express


Pizza Express might be one of the earliest restaurants to offer a vegan pizza, but whenever I've ordered from them on Deliveroo the spinach always arrives soggy. I actually avoid it.  

Pizza Punks


I love Pizza Punks, and I enjoy creating new pizza options with their mix-and-match menu.

Bar Soba

I only ever order from the Merchant City branch though. The Mitchell Lane establishment delivered me chicken and weren't even that apologetic. 

ASK Italian


I tried their vegan pizza for the first time very recently, and I liked it. they also have a full vegan menu.

Zizzis

Also has a dedicated vegan menu on the app.

Doghouse

Their sieten burger is one of my favourite vegan burgers in Glasgow.

Prep Fitness Kitchen

So they mark their restaurant as vegan-friendly but leave you to guess what is actually vegan. There's a Power Bean Burger than looks promising (though I've never ordered it).

Handmade Burger Co

One of my favourite places for a vegan burger as there is six options!

Di Maggio's

I love their Lucca vegan pizza!

Wagamama

Who doesn't love some Wagamama? Their Deliveroo portion sizes are also really generous.

Taco Mazama

I love Taco Mazama generally. But I'm not paying the delivery free for a burrito.

The Squid and The Whale @ Nice N Easy

Same goes for this place. 

Do you love Deliveroo in Glasgow? Have I missed any vegan-friendly places?



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5 problematic things pop culture taught me about love and dating


There's no denying that pop culture influences the way we see the world. Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes it's a bad thing. Films, TV shows, books and games can push society forward and educate us - but it can also hold society back and teach us some terrible life lessons along the way.

For me, personally, pop culture taught me some problematic af things about love and dating. Things I believed as gospel for years and, in some cases, only unlearnt after a sharp wake-up call. These days I'm pretty media literate (plus older with more life experience) and can watch films with a critical eye while still enjoying them.

But back when I was teenager? Not so much. Here are five really negative things pop culture taught me about love and dating.

1. If someone doesn't feel the same way? Wait for them...and then wait some more

If you assume I have an anecdote about a guy who tried to woo me by pathetically waiting for years, you would be correct. But the anecdote I'm about to share is about how I once waited. I was once one of those douche-bags. It was years ago - we're talking high school - that I kept waiting for the same guy to admit undying love for me, and spent too long staring at him in class (which in hindsight was super creepy and probably made him hella uncomfortable). The guy was blatantly not interested but I kept convincing myself that there we were meant to be....

There was no storybook ending here though. He never ending up feeling the same way, and is now married with a child...to someone else. These days I am over him (thankfully) and have learnt how to take a hint.

2. Bad boundaries is a sign of true love

My very first relationship was unhealthy boundaries central. He had my parents house number, memorised all my passwords, knew what my bank balance usually sat at, spent all his time at mine, would tag along on almost all social situations and latch onto me all night, phoned me at work and got confused when I didn't answer, and would book a trip to come see me without checking if that weekend was good for me first.

Even at the time I wasn't happy with any of this - but we're taught that these actions are cute and a sign of true love (think Edward Cullen and Christian Grey). It wasn't even just me. When I got frustrated about his behaviour in front of my parents, my mum poo-pooed it as a sign of true love. It was only when I started dating my second boyfriend - who never once did any of things listed above - that I realised these behaviours weren't a sign of adoration, but of self-entitlement and possessiveness.

3. Nerds are good and jocks are bad

I self-identify as a geek, so it's only natural that I tend to date other geeks. But from high school until only a few years ago, I believed that geeks were all sensitive guys who just wanted to be loved and football players were, well, players. Pop culture taught me that girls should give nerds a chance because they really deserved us (Revenge of the Nerds is probably one of the finest examples).

It's easy to see why so many films teach us this: nerds are more likely to grow up to be film directors than football captains. So they're now free to live out their high school fantasies where the cheer captain realises she wants a sweet nerd with wonky glasses than some arrogant jock with a six pack.

Dude, get the fuck over it.

I wasn't cool during school either and you could not pay me to go back. But I haven't developed an ego complex where I think hot men should fall at my feet because I'm deep and intellectual. These days I've dated enough men to know that some geeks can treat women just as badly as the jock film archetype - and some jocks are actually amazing boyfriend material.

William Bradley wrote a great personal article on getting the fuck over his high-school nerdness, that you should totally read.

4. Guys always fancy the same type of girl

In film world even the geeks fancy the hot cheerleader. Where does that leave the rest of us?

Insecure as fuck, that's where it leaves us. For years I spent far too much time moulding myself to be the kind of gal I thought all guys wanted. Instead of experimenting with fashion and make-up because it's fun, I spent ages doing my make-up they way I thought all guys liked it. I even dumbed myself down and faked interests.

Think Laney Boggs in She's All That. She's undesirable because she's clumsy, wears overalls and has a ponytail - despite her conventionally attractive face. That really makes us non-cheerleader girls feel great.

But it's not even just girls who's behaviour is being effected by this bullshit. We've all met guys who police women's appearances and decide that because he doesn't personally find a girl attractive, then no one else should and these girls need to know that they're out of line.

I wonder where these guys learnt that there's only one type of girl worth fancying? 

5. You can tame (or change) them



Whether it's drug addiction or not believing in marriage, we see fictional characters tame bad boys and fall in love after an accidental baby. It's not my story to tell so I won't go into detail but let's say I have exes that came with a side serving of Issues (with a capital I). I naively believed that with enough love and affection, their demons would evaporate.

But the old saying is true: you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. Even when someone does genuinely want to change, it's usually a professional they need rather than a romantic partner.

I've also been on the flip side of this situation. I've had exes who are convinced that somewhere in me lies the desire to breed children. I've dated people who are adamant that the right person will put me off polyamory. I've been *ahem* casual with people who believe that if they *you know* enough times that I'll fall in love. Heck, people still don't believe that I like being single. 

One of my favourite female characters is Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. She's one of the few women in pop culture who is single....and loves it. This single lady has a fabulous life with a successful career, stylish NYC apartment, fun friends and sparkly hand bags. She didn't morn the man-shaped hole in her life.

But then she was tamed by Smith Jerrod. No wonder men are convinced they came tame me when foxy Samantha Jones was tamed into the domesticated life (even if it was by the best looking guy ever).  I was thankful as hell when she ended their relationship in the first film with the perfect "I love you, but I love me more".


So are you suggesting we should ban teenagers from watching television and films? Absolutely not.

Films, books and television are fun, and can be a massive force for good. But they need to be taken with a pinch of salt. That's why I strongly believe that media studies in school is not a pointless subject and should be an essential part of Personal Social Education (alongside comprehensive sex and relationship education).

That way, there's a smaller chance of the next generation growing up believing the same bullshit.


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My basic vegan curry recipe




In the lunch canteen at my work I'm regularly complimented on my home-cooked meals. But honestly? Most of my packed lunches sound fancier than they are and are pretty easy to make. I also have the same five recipes on rotation.

One of these meals is my basic vegan curry recipe. When I say basic I really mean basic. Most Indian chefs would probably scoff at the idea of this being a curry and there's no way you'd find something so basic in a restaurant. But it's quick and easy to make, completely vegan and makes you look more competent in a kitchen then you actually are. Win-win.

Ingredients: 
200ml coconut milk (I used powdered coconut milk)
2 teaspoons curry paste of your choice (I tend to use tikka masala)
half an onion, chopped,
one clove garlic, chopped
one vegetable stock cube
vegetables of your choice (I go for pepper, pea pods and mushrooms)
oil to fry

1. Heat oil in sauce pan
2. Fry the onions and garlic until softened
3. Add the vegetables of your choice, and heat through for about five minutes
4. Prepare your coconut milk powder (mix with water) and combine with the curry paste
5. Add the milk mixture to pan and add the stock cube
6. Bring to the boil
7. Ensure everything has been thoroughly heated through and that the stock cube has dissolved
8. Serve with rice.

Voila! One very basic vegan curry that will impress your co-workers.


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Christmas gifts for your loyal Hufflepuff friend


1. This poster to display proudly on their wall. 


2. Or this understated one for their side table


3. This Hufflepuff tea blend.


4. And this super-cute mug to drink it from



5. Or go one step more, and get them a customised mug


6. Hufflepuffs love their food, so they would totally love a copy of this


7. And they'd like this cookie cutter. 


8. Hufflepuffs also love Herbology, so will totally appreciate a flower crown in their house colours

9. Or this creepy but cute mandrake pin. 


10. And they love to pay homage to Newt Scamander, the most famous Hufflepuff of all, with a copy of the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. 


11. Or a Newt Scamander Funko Pop


13. Or, if they have that one already, opt for Cedric Diggory.

(You will have to look second hand for this - I can't find many aside from eBay)

14. They'll also need a bookmark. 


15. And a blanket to wrap around them.

16. And a candle that makes their room smell like the cosy Hufflepuff common room


17. A badger pin


18. And this Hufflepug pin

19. These Blackmilk leggings to show off their pride

20. And a themed box to store it all in. 


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BEAUTY REVIEW: Outback Organics



Outback Organics is a brand that only recently came onto my radar. They're a Somerset-based beauty company that manufactures all their products with an Aussie twist and their mantra is effective, ethical and affordable. Definitely sounds like something that is up my street.

A skincare brand through and through, their product list includes body oils, face cream, deodorant, waxes, wet wipes and cleansers. Most of their products centre around tea-tree, and all their ingredients are plant-based. Recently they sent me their Little Wonders From Down Under bag that contains miniatures of their favourite products.

I'll be the first to admit that I've had a long on-off relationship with tea tree. I first gave it a try when I was 14 (because teenage magazines were raving about it) and it worked...for a while. It's the kind of ingredient that my skin gets used to, and I have to stop. Then I can go back to it later. If anything, it works best for me when I use it sparingly - worth mentioning before I dive into this review.

I'll start with my favourite product, which is the Face and Body Scrub. Typically speaking, scrubs irritate my face so I only used it on my body. The exfoliators in this are very gentle and the texture is creamy with some bumps. Like most botanical products, it didn't foam. It was very moisturising and I really liked using it on my arms and across my chest. but it it's not strong enough to work on rougher skin like feet.

For my face however I started using Skinwash. This left my skin feeling a great balance between washed but not irritated. There were no exfoliators in it, which is probably why. Like all their products, this contained tee tree that does lead to one problem: you can't use it near your eye area. One of the most important tick-boxes for me personally with face wash is being able to remove my eye make-up with it. I have cleansers in my cupboard so gentle I can wash between my lashes and my eyes remain unharmed. I couldn't do this with the Skinwash, which is really disappointing but a reality of tea tree.

Outback Organics also make products for calming the skin post-wax or shave. In my little bag I was given the Bush Balm and the Ingrown Hair oil. The Bush Balm might sound rude, but you can use it on any area of your body to calm the skin after shaving. I really liked this and - in line with the product's name - it worked best on my bikini line which gets hella' irritated post hair removal.

As for the Ingrown Hair Oil, I am going to have to get back to you about that product. I don't get ingrown hairs very often, but when I do I'll make sure I use this product and let you know.

Ingredients


Face and Body Scrub: Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Hydrogeneated Jojoba Oil, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicons, Ethylexyl Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Parfum (Fragrance), Carbomar, Allantoin, Tocopheryl Acetatw, Cucumis Sativus (cucumber) Fruit Extract, Citronellol, Gerantol, Linalool, Limonene. 

Skin Wash: Aqua/Water/Eau, Disdium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocamldopropyl Betaine, PEG-120, Methyl Glucose Trioleate, Sodium Babassuamphoacetate, Sodium Chloride, Melalauca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Propanediol, Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Menthol, Mentha Piperitta (peppermint) oil, Menthone, Tasmannia, Lanceolata (mountain pepper) Fruit/Leaf Extract, Citric Acid. 

Bush Balm: Aqua, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Macademia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Polycrytamide, Allantoin, Butyrospermum Parki (Shea Nut) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglycende, Cetearyl Alcohol, C13-14, Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Inulin Lauryl Carbarnate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Aloa Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dipropylene Glycol, Boswellia Serrata Gum, Cucumis Satvis Fruit Extract, DMDM Hydanton, Backhousia Anisata, Disodium EDTA, Tocopheryl Acetata, Panthanol. 

Ingrown Hair Serum: Aqua/Water/Eau, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Ceteareth-12, Steareth-2, Allantoin, Betaine Salicylate, Stearyl Alcohol, Aloe Barbadenis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Ceteareth-20, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylthexylglycerin, Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress) Oil, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Distearyl Ether, Fusanus Spicatus (Australian Sandalwood) Wood Oil, Backhousia Anisata (Aniseed Myrtle) Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Opuntia Ficus-Indica Flower Extract, Ananas Sativus (pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (papaya) Fruit Extract, Citric Acid. 

I was sent this as a PR sample. All views are my own. 

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October Linkables



Happy Halloween! I hope you're having a great day whether you are out trick or treating like a big child, or partying with your friends in fancy dress. I had my Halloween celebrations on Friday in Manchester and paid homage to my favourite horror franchise with my Casey Becker costume. This post is actually being scheduled in advance so I'll just assume I had a good time on my weekend trip to Manchester. I'll let you know about everything soon enough though.

This month has been otherwise quiet, aside from the Scottish Greens conference (which I blogged about). The winter is setting in and I'm using that as a massive excuse to be a homebody, especially since I'm on annual leave this week. Not that I've ever needed an excuse, but the summer sun does make me wish I wasn't so introverted.

But enough about Halloween and the chilly weather - on with links!

Marketing, Blogging & Career

I regularly create Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads for the same campaign in my professional life, and I always tailor them to the platform. This article from Zeal Marketing perfectly explains why you should too.

58 Tools To Become a Social Media Marketing Hero. There were a few on here I hadn't heard of.

If you're a freelancer, have you ever tried working from the gym?

I have some experience on the interviewer side of the table, and I totally agree with these interview tips from a HR Specialist.

The evolution of women in stock photos. Ha!

I need to tape this to my eyelids: you'd be a better communicator if you weren't so afraid of embarrassing yourself.

Geek & Pop Culture

It might be a little late to read these before Halloween, but psychological horrors are for anytime of year.

You should read these books too

Veganism & Food

Again, a little late for Halloween but these rainbow candy apples are so cute


Social Justice & Politics

This is an American example but as a Scottish person who lives in SNP/Labour Glasgow but grew up in Conservative/SNP Aberdeenshire, I totally get the concept of voting or moving.  






Etc. 

I'm one of those weirdos who loves surgery videos, and "How to fix a curved spine" is no exception.

When friends fade away because you've changed or family members question your life choices, think of it as an authenticity tax


If someone you know if going through a rough time - remember to reach out them because you might be the only one who does

Have a lovely November babes! 
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I'd rather have no Batgirl film that one directed by Joss Whedon




There, I said it.

It's not like I haven't hinted at my feelings already. But I'm saying it officially: I'm no longer excited about the upcoming Batgirl film. Even back when it was first announced I didn't hide my confusion over the choice of director and an uneasiness on whether Batgirl was mainstream enough for the film to be a success. But as time has went on I've become less and less ecstatic about it.

A lot of this is to do with Joss Whedon. Those of us who like to geek out to film analysis, and have followed his work for a long time, already knew he was problematic. While the general public considered him feminist because he creates female characters who were powerful in a physical fight, those with a critical eye weren't blind to the lack of racial diversity in his work, the bi-erasure of Willow Rosenberg, creepy comments regarding Amber Benson's body, and spitting out the dummy over Charisma Carpenter's pregnancy.

But in August his cover was blown. His ex-wife spoke out about their marriage and how he wasn't quite the perfect little nice guy he had made himself out to be. I wasn't exactly surprised, but to have the confirmation from Kai Cole did make me even more disappointed that he was given the top job behind a female-lead superhero film.



Not just any female-lead superhero film, but Batgirl. She's my personal favourite and she's widely hailed as one of the most feminist characters in the DC Universe. Not only is she full of girl power, but she also has LGBTQ+ acquaintances and physical disability is part of her backstory. This is a film that requires the direction of someone who is sensitive to social justice issues. So, eh, not Joss Whedon then.

While Joss Whedon has incorporated social justice issues into his work, he has missed the mark on many occasions. This is what happens when someone (even the most well-intentioned ally) tries to speak on behalf of disadvantaged groups that they don't belong to.

One of the most obvious examples - to me anyway, my polysexual brain was startled straight (lol) away - is Willow Rosenberg's sexuality. Joss admitted that he had toyed with the idea of a Scooby coming out long before this storyline manifested. In fact, it wasn't until this scene that it was decided that it would be Willow and Tara.

They went on to become one of mainstream television's earliest same-sex couples, and I have no doubt Joss meant well by this. But those of us who fall under the polysexual umbrella didn't turn a blind eye to Willow identifying as gay. Did we imagine her infatuation with Xander? Or her healthy and loving relationship with Oz? Joss, this character has already had established romances with male characters - I think you need to do a bit more research on human sexuality, especially the bit about bisexuality being very real and valid.

Oh and then he killed Tara, aka the Bury Your Gays television trope.

Even when they break-up Willow speaks as though her love for Oz was real. 

If Joss had carried out a focus group with LGBTQ+ fans of the show or hired an LGBT+ writer, these two things could have been avoided. This is why it's important to have diversity amongst directors and producers, not just cast members. And why allies should never think of themselves as saviours or possessing the same level of understanding as someone who lives the reality of that disadvantaged group. 

This is why I want a woman at the helm of Batgirl. Even better, one with personal experience of LGBTQ+ issues and physical disability. Failing that, a female director who will do her research and seek opinions of these groups who do fit into these disadvantaged groups.

And, yes, I know it was Joss Whedon's idea to make a Batgirl film



In late August - in what looked like a PR stunt from the Whedon camp - it was reported that a standalone Batgirl film was not on Warner Bros radar until Joss pitched it. This does make sense given Batgirl's lack of mainstream clout. Why would Warner Bros consider a Batgirl film when they're already busy producing and promoting films involving Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn, Joker, Gothan City Sirens and Batman himself? Even though I love her, I can see why it wasn't on their radar (though I was hoping she would pop up within these films to help build her profile). 

If this news was meant to make me glad Joss Whedon pitched the idea, you can wipe that smile off your face. It doesn't mean I should roll over and not complain about him getting the job, even if he was literally the only option. I wasn't even getting my hopes up for a Batgirl film, and I'm sure as hell could have waited longer.

There's also been a lot of talk that he won't use a famous actress, which further ignites my worry that this might be a financial flop. You could definitely argue that Aquaman isn't big guns enough to have his own film. But Jason Mamoa has star power and he'll have the Justice League films to help build up the character's fan base.

It problematic as fuck that we have to even think strategically about female-fronted superhero films. Superman vs Batman might have been a pile of balls and Jared Leto's Joker might have been cringeworthy - but these characters aren't going to be pulled. Even that George Cloony Batman film didn't kill the franchise. There will always be room for male superheroes, even when they produce flops.

But female superhero films? Wonder Woman was successful. Largely thanks to known actors, loyalty to the source material and great behind-the-scenes work. But the creative industries work in a capitalist system, and ultimately film execs decide what to produce based on balance sheets. And that is why it's important that every single female fronted superhero movie does well financially, because the studios will only produce more if they make them money.

I mean, you remember Catwoman in the mid-00s? What on earth was that movie? It's no wonder the industry waited a decade to produce another female-fronted superhero film.

Oh, and then there's that leaked Wonder Woman script



Joss Whedon really wants to produce a female-led superhero movie, because Batgirl isn't the first film he has pitched. Several years ago Joss wrote a Wonder script that never got made. And thank heavens it didn't. The script opens with the focus on Steve Trevor landing on Themyscira, and stumbling upon the beautiful Diana. From the outset Wonder Woman is taking a backseat in her own goddam movie as it we see her through the eyes of Steve Trevor. In the version that did get made (spoilers if you haven't seen it) the film starts with Wonder Women's backstory and then we're later introduced to Steve Trevor. 

And the way he talks about other women in the cast isn't great either: 


Thank you for reminding us that middle-aged women can still be beautiful and "in their prime". I thought they were all ugly. 

And he decided to write the script while masturbating, evidently: 





If Joss Whedon had been given the go-ahead, the film would have likely ended up being wanking material for 14-year-old boys. Rather than the strong and inspirational story for girls we ended up getting. No prizes for guessing which version I prefer. 

Throughout the script Joss focused a lot on her love interest, Steve Trevor, more so than was probably necessary. The eventual 2017 film did feature him and they did kiss (because even Wonder Woman can't resist the puppy eyes of Chris Pine) - but their love story was not the focus of the film. The producers struck a nice balance between Steve being part of her life, but building her character to be more than just her romantic interests. Buffy might have been physically strong as hell, but a lot of her storylines still focused around her romantic life. 

Will I go see the film? Probably. Batgirl is still the leader of my superhero Dream Team and I'm not going to pretend I'm not curious. But there's a large part of me hoping that Warner Brothers decide it's better off in the hands of someone other than Joss Whedon, or work the character up a bit more in another superhero film. 

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Another rant about Brexit: Northern Ireland Edition


Photo taken from the Scottish Green Party Twitter. 


This weekend I spent my Saturday at the Scottish Green Party Autumn Conference. As geeky as it sounds, these conferences are highlights of my year. I get to vote on new party policies, I get to catch up with political pals and I can learn more about issues effecting society.

It probably comes as little surprise that Brexit was a major point of discussion. We're still no closer to a deal, and it looks like the EU isn't going to bow down to any cherry picking. And legally the whole thing is still a complete mess.

One topic that came up in conversation was that of Northern Ireland. This year Clare Bailey, the only Green MLA in Northern Ireland, was a guest speaker. While Green politicians from other countries usually talk about the movement in their homeland, Clare was primarily talking about Brexit from an Irish perspective. Or more accurately, how Northern Ireland has been ignored in Brexit talks - both before and after the vote.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm an expert on Northern Irish politics and roll my eyes at Scottish independence supporters who take a stance in other separatist/re-unification movements. Until Clare's talk I was previously ignorant to the unique issues Brexit would pose to the Northern Ireland population.

But I had noticed that Ireland has a physical international border. 

While Scotland, Wales and England fit nicely into one island, Northern Ireland shares a landmass with the Republic of Ireland. While we all know Brexiters don't exactly have the highest IQs, Clare felt as though a lot of leave voters didn't actually realise the UK was made up of four countries. There was no discussion about the Irish border and what would be done about it. What about children who live on one side but go to school on the other? Or employees who work in the south but live in the north? Or people who like to nip to the Tesco on the other side? The Irish border isn't patrolled and you can easily drive across (I've done so myself).

Even now, Northern Ireland has no answer as to what will happen with the border. Will they start needing passports to cross the line? Will there be patrols? There's even been talks about putting the UK border in the sea and turning the Scottish and Irish ferry ports into border control (meaning Northern Irish people will need a passport to visit other areas of the UK).

While other international borders (most notably the Swedish-Norwegian border) have come to a free movement agreement, the point Clare was making is: this important conversation is not happening and no viable solution has been put forward.

But something I hadn't already thought about: the ramification this could have on the Good Friday Peace Agreement. 

I'm not ignorant to Northern Ireland's sectarian past. But I was seven when the Good Friday Agreement was signed and for most of my life Northern Ireland has been okay. Still work to be done, but great strides have been made.

One of the key parts of the deal was the free movement of people between the North and South. As well as allowing anyone born in Northern Ireland to be a citizen of Ireland or the UK, or both. How will this work with a stronger border between a EU country and a non-EU country? It could be workable but - like the border - this conversation isn't happening and there's a strong worry all the peace work carried out in Northern Ireland could become undone. 

And because I like a Google and the Guardian: The English have placed a bomb under the Irish peace process.

After the Brexit election result I did notice a few calls for a united Ireland. 

I take no stance on the re-unification of Ireland, and Clare didn't share her personal beliefs. But she did share that Sinn Féin are using this as an opportunity on both sides of the border to promote a united Ireland. Democratically they are allowed to do this but they're treading on a delicate issue, and it's unlikely that a referendum on Irish re-unification would go as smoothly as the Scottish referendum.

Sinn Féin's campaigning has some of the Unionists worried and the ground has become shaky again. And loyalist flags have been going up in her constituency of South Belfast. Brexit is opening a lot of wounds. She also took the time to remind us that the re-unification of Ireland relies on the Republic wanting to take the north back. Her own words were "who would want to take back such a broken nation?".

As I said at the start, I'm not an expert an Irish politics, the Good Friday Agreement or The Troubles. But what Clare had to say was definitely food for thought and demonstrates how England-centric this decision was, and how it was a very badly thought out decision with many political ramifications.


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Is Tracy Flick a feminist?



If you've spoken to me in the last two months about films, you'll know I'm going through a 90s phase. Specifically, films aimed at 90s teenagers who I was born a decade later than.

One of those films was Election. A 1999 dark comedy starring Matthew Broderick and a young Reese Witherperson as they fight their way through a high school election. Tracy Flick, Witherspoon's character and main antagonist, is that high school brown-noser we have all known. She is top of her class, always shoves her hand up first, is involved in multiple extra-curricular activities and feels entitled to success. She also struggles to make friends because no one can stand her.

We have all known a Tracy Flick




She's a character that is definitely interesting from a feminist angle, and I could feel my brain performing some critical analysis while I was listening. Turns out I'm not the only one. Even though the film was released before the internet was mainstream, many articles have been written on her character, posing the same question I'm asking with this blog. Journalists even compared her to Hillary Clinton (and Chris Klein's character, Paul, to Barrack Obama - more on that later). This is even despite the film being a box office bomb (but acclaimed by critics).

Tracy definitely wasn't scared of any glass ceiling. Which sadly, even in 2017, is still something to applaud and admire. She worked out the value of hard work very young, thanks to an encouraging (even slightly zealous) mother. I didn't do badly in school, but I definitely could have applied myself more than I did and taken a leaf out of Tracy's book. She was willing to go above and beyond to get good grades and plump out her college application - embarrassingly I didn't realise that a willingness to go the extra mile was one of the secrets to success until I started full-time work. We can learn a lot from the ambitious Tracy's of the world.

But reading all the required texts and putting 120% in every essay she wrote wasn't the only tactic Tracy was using. Tracy was also felt entitled to success and was willing to stick her elbows out to get it (sh'd be a textbook Capitalist Feminist). When she first finds out that Paul Metzler is running against her (she was previously running unopposed) she storms over to his election table and demands to know why. We see clips of her in the classroom where she isn't allowing other students the chance to speak. If you've seen the film, you'll know the scene where she rips down her opponents posters in the school halls in a fit of rage. All because two people chose to run against her.

I want to live in a world where women get ahead as equally and easily as men. I'm under no illusion that this is not yet the case. But I also want to live in world where people get ahead and promoted based on talent and hard work - and not because they ripped down someone else's campaign posters or stuck a straw up the manager's ass.

Tracy is also a job snob 

This quote probably sums up her attitude perfectly:

Now that I have more life experience, I feel sorry for Mr. McAllister. I mean, anyone who's stuck in the same little room, wearing the same stupid clothes, saying the exact same things year after year for his whole life, while his students go on to good colleges, move to big cities and do great things and make loads of money... He's got to be at least a little jealous. 

Since when is teaching seen as a low-level job? It requires a lot of training and is an important role that society requires. Ambitious Tracy types require good educators to get the ball rolling. As I get older and have more life experience, I've become even more disconnected with the idea that there are "real job" and "jobs". Or that being an underachiever or non-ambitious is a bad character trait.

We also see her at the end of the film working with a politician: a Republican no less. Ahem.

But let's take a step back from looking at Tracy as an individual and look at her place in wider society - and how that society influences her behaviour. Sexism still exists in schools and workplaces, and women do need to fight harder to be heard and get ahead. Tracy perhaps knew this and adjusted her behaviour to suit. Here is another quote from the film:

You might think it upset me that Paul Metzler had decided to run against me, but nothing could be further from the truth. He was no competition for me, it was like apples and oranges. I had to work a little harder, that's all. You see, I believe in the voters. They understand that elections aren't just popularity contests. They know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don't have everything handed to them on a silver spoon. Not like some rich kids who everybody likes because their fathers own Metzler Cement and give them trucks on their 16th birthday and throw them big parties all the time. No, they don't ever have to work for anything. They think they can just, all of a sudden, one day out of the blue, waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked for VERY, VERY hard for their entire lives! No, didn't bother me at all!

While this quote also demonstrates how self-entitled Tracy is, it shows how socially aware she is. She recognises that not everyone is born equal and how successful someone becomes is largely down to accident of birth. I'll speak more on Paul Metzler later, but he wasn't very ambitious but was a likeable good-looking white guy from a rich family - the demographic that gets a head start as soon as they're born.

Then there is the capitalism system that we work within. It encourages a survival of the fittest mentality, so it's no surprise people sharpen their elbows for success. Especially if they belong to a disenfranchised group.

Remember, this film was made in 1997 long before feminism and social justice were mainstream topics. Tracy was already recognising inequality that wouldn't get widely spoken about until two decades later. Girl was ahead of her time - and a little feminist shall I say. 

But she isn't the only character worth speaking about from a feminist angle 



Throughout the film Broderick's character, Jim, tries to sabotage her election (and future career) success. He's otherwise popular with the students, but he has a long term grudge against Tracy. Part of this is because she's annoying. But the other part is her student-teacher affair with Jim's best friend, Dave. Dave lost his job and wife because of the affair but Tracy got off unharmed and her involvement in the scandal remained a secret.

Statutory rape is statutory rape. Tracy may have been a willing participant (as it was depicted in the film) but teachers shouldn't be finding students who haven't finished puberty attractive. It's not said on camera, but Dave looked like he was in the late 30s or early 40s - what on earth someone in that age bracket would find attractive in a teenager I do not know.

Jim then goes on a mission to ruin Tracy's future. He is the one who talks popular Paul into running in the first place. He even throws away pro-Tracy ballot papers so that Paul can win the election. I don't like Tracy Flicks as much as the next Jim, but I've never tried to stop one from getting ahead. By trying to sabotage her election chances he was proving himself to not be any better than her.

And then there's Paul Metzler (said I'd eventually get to him) 


He is a popular jock guy. Genuinely lovely student. He would make a great boyfriend. But class president? Not so sure. He's that male who gets ahead and is well liked just by being present. Though, despite not being as ambitious or hard-working as Tracy, he certainly has much better people skills. Anyone who was ever went outside their house to navigate high school and adult offices knows that good interpersonal skills are also a major factor in how well you'll do in life (both professionally and socially).

The media compared Barrack Obama to Paul Metzeler in 2008. Obama is definitely likeable and probably does have a better moral compass than most other politicians, but he wasn't exactly experienced when he first ran for President. Hilary Clinton (and even Sarah Palin) was definitely more qualified.

But my favourite character in the whole thing? Paul's sister, Tammy. She also runs for Class President to spite her secret ex-lover, Lisa, who starts dating Paul and becomes his campaign manager (that's one awkward love triangle, though Paul isn't aware).



Because she's right. My experience of pupil councils at school (I was even on it during my fourth year) is that they don't really change anything and people only run to impress universities. I wasn't that heavily involved in school extra-curricular activities but I was heavily involved in societies at university - and I'm not even going to deny that I was looking for CV boosters (and a way to avoid coursework).

Honestly, Tammy Metzler is probably the only feminist role model in the entire film (in a weird way).

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