Friday, 18 December 2015

Give Blood

Having recently been to my 7th blood donation session, I thought it would be a good chance to help spread the word about the importance of donating blood. I signed up to become a blood donor when I was in Sixth Form and have donated as regularly as I could since then. 

It is such a simple process to donate blood and it will make a difference every time you do it. Most people can give blood, however, less than 3% of the population actively give blood. Blood that is donated can save someone's life, for use in emergencies, and those needing long-term treatment. Check out some of the stories of people who have benefited from blood donors. 

There are loads of places to donate blood and will take place at regular intervals in your local area, and takes hardly any time and effort from yourself to do it, yet it could make the world of difference to someone else. To find out more about donating, see the Blood Website.
 
Why not do something amazing, give blood and save a life! 

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas in Liverpool

Christmas is officially here and I have eventually got into Liverpool City Centre to have a see all the lights and decorations. With my parents coming up for the day, it was a great chance to show them around the City. Check out some of the festive decorations. 




There are some nice places on the top of Liverpool One for a range of Christmas drinks, including an Ice Bar and Mulled Wine stalls. 


It's all child friendly too with some fairground rides, including a helter-skelter and a real ice slide! 





I was experimenting with a longer shutter speed to capture the movement of the shoppers in the Liverpool One complex.


Have you been to see Christmas in Liverpool?

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Original Penguin & SIGMA Team Up*

This post is in collaboration with Original Penguin and SIGMA to celebrate great achievements for them both right now! You may have heard of Original Penguin before; they're the American clothing brand that specialise in clothing, footwear and eyewear. They have been around since 1955 and are still going strong today. They have two main product lines: the 'Original Label', which is their clothing and accessories products for men, women and children. The other is the 'Black Label', which is their higher end men's clothing aimed towards golf wear.

I've always been into artists such as Chase & Status and loved the music that they have released over the years, and I was so impressed when I saw them live at Rock City in Nottingham and at Leeds Fest. After discovering SIGMA, I really enjoyed what they released, being a similar kind of music to that of Chase & Status. Since then, they have worked with some top artists such as DJ Fresh, Ellie Goulding and Paloma Faith.

SIGMA have recently released their new album 'Life'. To celebrate their album launch they teamed up with Original Penguin who are celebrating their 60th birthday, for an exclusive show. With SIGMA taking the music scene by storm this year, they talked about what helped them to get where they are now. Check out the video to see who and what was important to them along the way:
 


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*This is a collaborative post
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Thursday, 10 December 2015

5 Benefits of Being a Blogger Couple


Having been blogging for over a year now, I have started to develop new skills with all things blogging. As I've mentioned before my girlfriend Laura is a beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger and has been blogging for longer than me. She was the one who got me into blogging and she gave me a lot of help getting my blog up and running. After getting into the swing of things I soon realised that there are perks to both of us blogging.

Photo's

There have been times for us both when we have been really busy and have needed photos doing for posts, but being able to help each other out taking photos to get the best lighting during the day while the other one is out comes in extremely handy.

Post Ideas

I should think there have been a lot of bloggers out there that will have hit a brick wall when it comes to thinking of ideas and you just can't seem to come up with any good content. Having someone to bounce ideas off who understands what is needed in a post will help prevent you from banging your head against a wall.

Combine Your Skills

Realistically, you can't be good at everything. With me and Laura being better at certain things, combining these skills to help each other has been so valuable. I have been taking photos longer than Laura and can help her with this, and she is better at HTML and using Photoshop, as you can see in her post. Being able to help and teach each other things makes for better quality content.


Promotion

Growing your blog following and readership is a key part of blogging. Being able to help promote each other on social media comes in very useful. I know that Laura has a much bigger following and therefore it benefits me more when she promotes me, but being able to do this for each other can help both of us grow and progress with our blogs.

Unique Content

When doing lifestyle and travel posts, being a couple who blog can sometimes give you a different perspective and opens up new ideas for posts. Travel posts can become more interesting as you can link to each others content to see different sides of a trip. More relevant to Laura's blog, you can do entertaining content such as the 'Boyfriend Does My Makeup' which can often be quite popular.

Are you a blogger couple or have someone who also blogs?

What thing's do you find useful?

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Monday, 7 December 2015

Knowsley Safari Park

A few weeks ago we went to the Safari Park in Knowsley. We took Laura's little 4 year old sister and she absolutely loved it too. It only cost £10 for the three of us to go around and you could spend as long as you wanted driving around the park and walking around the other areas.

I filmed the complete drive around the park on my GoPro out of the front window so we could watch the trip back, and I've uploaded a sped up version of the video so you can follow us on the drive round. It was really good driving around and seeing all the different animals, although we encountered some rather cheeky monkeys in their enclosure!








I would definitely recommend visiting the Safari Park as it gives a new experience for driving around rather than walking around a zoo.You can also get much closer to the animals and get to see them in a more natural environment rather than being kept in smaller enclosures. Check out the video to see what it's like.
 


Have you ever been to the Safari Park?

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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Trafford Centre - Another Angle

A few weeks ago, I went to the Trafford Centre and after wandering around the main area, we ended up in the separate area of the complex which mainly contained the home stores. After going into this part of the Trafford Centre I was really impressed by the buildings and architecture and thought I would share some photos. You would never think you were in the middle of a large shopping centre.




Christmas Time
I've since been back to the Trafford Centre and its all been decorated in time for Christmas. Its quite mimimal decorations but it makes it look very seasonal and inside the home stores complex they have a few Christmas market huts selling various foods.



Inside the main shopping area, its been fully decked out with decorations and Christmas lights. I know a lot of places tend to decorate for this time of year but I thought I would share some from when I went. 



Have you ever been to the Trafford Centre? What did you think?

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Saturday, 14 November 2015

Men's Gift Guide for Christmas*


It's getting to that time of year when you will start buying Christmas presents, or if you are a bit like me, desperately trying to think of gift ideas in time for Christmas. There seem to be so many options when buying presents for girls, so it can be easy for when we have to choose for them. When people are buying for us, they can be a little stuck for ideas, so I thought I would put together a gift guide for men to give you some ideas this season.

Uppercut Monster Hold Wax
I have used this wax before and was really impressed by how well it holds as you can see in my review. Having tried a range of different wax's, having this monster hold outperformed the others and would be a great gift to someone who is looking for a no fuss wax. 

Bulldog Eye Roll-On
Most of us probably don't get as much sleep as we would like and those early mornings can leave you feeling a bit drained. Whenever I'm tired I get dark areas under my eyes as if I hadn't slept for a week! This eye roller is specifically designed for men and will help revive tired eyes are dark circles.

Jack Wills Men's Travel Kit
Being a travel kit, this would make a great gift as its got the basics of what any man would need on a weekend away with the handy bag making it much easier to pack. As it's Jack Wills, it should get a much better response than 'just another Lynx set' that they would get every other year.

Shave Club Cooling Gel
This cooling gel should be a welcome addition to anyone who shaves, I know that it would help me for the post shave soreness and help to prevent further problems with my skin. Shave Club also offer subscription services ranging from £3.99-£5.99/month. These include a delivery of fresh razor blades each month to make sure you would always get the best shave, and you can buy some of their other products such as the cooling gel on their website. Another benefit is that you can pause your subscription whenever you want. Have a watch of their fun new video to see what they do:


What other ideas do you have for Christmas gifts?

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*This was a collaboration post
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Friday, 30 October 2015

Blogging Wishlist

Having been blogging for a year now I have come across some equipment that could help to enhance and improve my posts. I know from reading other peoples posts that these items are very popular and definitely worth the investment. Some of them are a little expensive, but it's something I can work towards and look forward to.

Canon 700D DSLR
I already own a Fuji S100FS which I have used for blog photography so far and it produces some brilliant photos. Saying this, upgrading to an DSLR would make the photos that bit better and has some neat features such as the flip out rotating screen that would come in very useful. Like most cameras nowadays it boasts Full HD video which would be great when out filming rather than using my iPhone. Having high quality photos really makes a difference to a blog and this camera would be brilliant for that.

Softbox Lighting
As much as a good camera is important, having proper lighting is key to getting the best photos. These softbox lights give a bright white diffused light and can be used together to fully light up the area and eliminate shadows you would experience otherwise. A simple piece of kit that could make all the difference for photos, as well as being useful if I wanted to start filming blog videos.

Rode Video Microphone
I'd love to start making videos to include in lifestyle and travel posts when I could upgrade my camera, and I think that having a good quality microphone on the camera can help capture those impressive and enjoyable moments while you are filming those new experiences. I have seen loads of vloggers use these so they must be worth the money.

MacBook Pro
I currently user an Acer laptop and its been pretty good for blogging in the past year, but now I'm wanting to edit photos more often and edit my GoPro videos, having a more powerful laptop would be a welcome change. From what I have seen and heard, most bloggers swear by their MacBooks and I can definitely see why! The high quality retina display, quick processing, and photo and video editing software available would make blogging much easier and allow for better content overall.

What products do you currently use for blogging and what would you like to get?

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

8 Quick Tips for Blog Photography

Having been taking blog photos for over a year now, for both mine and Laura's blogs, I have noticed a massive change in the quality of the photos since I started, and thought I would give a few tips on what I have found useful. I'm not saying I'm the best at taking photos, but having improved my own over time, these are the key things I use to get the best photos. 

1. Get to know your camera
Whatever camera you are using for taking photos, knowing the best settings becomes so useful. One of the main settings I alter is the aperture, which changes how wide the lens is and means you can get sharper photos. Another feature of adjusting the aperture is that you can blur the background of the image, which is great for product photos. Reading through the camera manual will give you pointers for using the settings, but the best way to learn is to just practice taking photos while playing around on different modes and settings.

2. Lighting
It doesn't matter whether you are using an iPhone or DSLR to take your photos, if you have poor lighting, the likelihood is that your photos won't be great. When taking photos inside, you have a range of options to get good lighting. If shooting product photos, I set them up in front of the window in the middle of the day to receive the best sunlight. If you need to use lights, you are best to use white lights, and box lighting will give you a bright and diffused light. 

3. Background
I take the majority of product photos on the top of an white Ikea shelving unit so I have a light plain background which gives more focus to the product being photographed. Having a plain background makes your photos look more professional, and will stop your camera trying to focus on the background rather than the product. Laura has recently bought some floor tiles to use as a new background and something like this can give you an even better look. 

4. Margins
This is something very simple to do and is an easy way to make your photos that little bit better. Having the focus point of your photo in the centre will just a much more professional appearance. It's often easier to get your margins correct when taking the photo, but you can always crop the image afterwards to resolve any problems. 

5. Angles
This will vary depending on what type of thing your are shooting, and choosing the best angle will be important when it comes to getting the photo you want. When I take product photos for Laura such as makeup, I will take the photo from overhead, as it gives a much better look and means all products in the photo get the same attention. Sometimes, products can't be photographed overhead, and when choosing a different angle, make sure the background isn't cluttered, and try blurring it out like I mentioned in the first tip. 

6. Editing
There is a lot of prep you can do to get a good photo, but editing your photos can give them that edge to really stand out and impress. I only know a few very basic things about Photoshop, but I'm still learning from Laura. Making little tweaks such as brightening and sharpening images has stepped the quality of photos up. Even if I don't edit my photos, I will always re-size them before uploading them to my posts. I make all the photos 1000px as this keeps the quality of the image, but means it will still load quickly when people view the post. If the image size is too large, people may experience a delay waiting for your photos to load on the post.

7. Focus Point
Having the correct focus point of your image will make sure people take notice of what you have photographed. Make sure your products are in focus and centered, and that you don't have anything around it that will take the attention from it. Sometimes it's good to include some smaller items around the main item to make it a little more interesting. Sometimes small items pointing towards the main item draws the readers attention and will make them more likely to view your photos. 

8. Shadows
Even if you have the best lighting setup, getting shadows in your images can cause you problems. You need to make sure you don't get in the way of your light source, which sounds simple, but needs to be thought out for when setting up. Eventually I want to buy a pair of box lights, to provide a light source from both sides of what I am shooting which should eradicate any shadows, and I think they would be a worthwhile investment for anyone wanting high quality photos.   
I hope these tips will help for your blog photography, for some more tips check out my Photography Tips for Beginners
What other tips do you have for blog photography?
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Bulldog Original Face Wash & Moisturiser Review

There are so many choices out there for skincare nowadays it's sometimes hard to decide which is worth investing money in. I have tried numerous products to help cleanse my skin to prevent blackheads and spots and some have worked much better than others, although a common problem is that my skin is dried out. I've not really used moisturiser as much as I probably should, but seen as its getting colder and my skin tends to get dry sometimes it seems like a good idea. After receiving these as a gift a while ago I wanted to see whether these bulldog products be the answer.

Bulldog Original Face Wash
This left my skin feeling fresh in the morning ready for the day ahead, and clean in the evenings after removing any dirt from my face. One of the important things I noticed that my skin was not dried out at all by the face wash, yet its cleansing ability was not affected. This is a product I will definitely keep using and would replace when its empty as it does exactly what I want in a daily face wash. 

Bulldog Original Moisturiser
This moisturiser can be used daily both morning and night to help prevent your skin from getting dehydrated. It works great in combination with the face wash and I use it after I have cleansed so it's applied on clean skin. You only need to apply a small amount to cover your whole face which is good for making the product last longer, especially with daily use. One key thing I noticed when using this is the lack of greasy finish on your skin when applying it, as I found some others I have used in the past gave a shiny finish. 

Both these products are cruelty free and contain natural ingredients so you can be satisfied that they won't be causing harm to animals or your skin. I would like to try out some of Bulldog's other products such as the face scrub or eye roll on.
Have you used any Bulldog products before?

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Autumn Wishlist

With the Autumnal season well and truly under way I thought it would be a great time to do an Autumn wishlist. The majority of my wardrobe is filled with summer clothes and I never really spend my money on new clothes. Getting into this colder weather means the need for new clothes and accessories so here's my top items to get!
Asos 3/4 T-Shirt
I've never been one to have 3/4 tops before but with nearly all my other tops being short sleeved t-shirts, having a few 3/4 options would help mix it up a bit, with the added bonus of keeping my arms a little bit warmer.
The North Face Beanie
Having a beanie to wear for those cold mornings can often be a lot better than walking round with my big hood up which restricts my view from the large fur around the edge of the hood. Like everyone else I've had winter hats before, but have always fancied a The North Face one, and they seem to be a bit larger than some so I can fit my big head in it!

Topman Scarf
Another accessory for this time of year is to have a scarf to throw on. Something like this blue Topman one is simple and plain and will go with most outfits.

New Look Wool Overcoat
Although I already own a very warm The North Face Parka coat, I don't have one that's a bit more fashionable. This overcoat is a great option to wear at this time of year when it's too cold to head out without a coat but a not so cold you need to be wrapped up head to toe!

Asos Black Leather Belt
It's got to that time when shorts are no longer an option so I'm wearing jeans all of the time and seen as I'm in-between jean sizes I need a belt. I have been using my current belts to destruction and I am in desperate need of a smarter looking belt.

Topman Suede Brogues
With my current shoe selection being made up of Adidas and Nike trainers, and the fact I have already got a pair of boots, I quite fancy a smarter pair of shoes such as these brogues that give me a different option to wear. 

What items do you have on your Autumn Wishlist?

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

8 Apps I Use For Blogging

There are loads of apps out there and its hard to know which ones to use. I thought I would do a quick post about my favourite apps to use for blogging. Like most bloggers I use Twitter and Instagram to help promote, interact and expand my blog. These are the other apps that help me when I'm doing blogging work on my iPhone or iPad.



Layout - I know Instagram has had a recent update but the Layout app gives you more options to help improve your photos, including combining multiple photos into one image, flipping and mirroring your images. As the app is created by Instagram, which is owned by Facebook it works seamlessly when uploading to either of these apps.

PhotoMarkr - This is a basic but effective app that lets you put a watermark on your photos. You can alter the size and position of where the water mark appears and is great to stop people stealing your photos for their own use.

Canva - This is the app based version of the website and it gives you some great options for creating blog post headers. For those posts that you don't have a photo to use, it has a whole host of high quality customisable backgrounds for free, and more than you can pay a small amount for if you wish.

iMovie - I haven't used this much but it has been really useful for editing short videos and gives some basic features for both video and audio changes. It lets you export easily and seems to be a decent worthwhile version of the Macbook version.

Blogger - Obviously this relies on you have a blog in Google Blogger but it comes in very useful for creating or editing blog posts. You can't change any of the settings about the post but I use it to type out my posts and then quickly alter the settings on my laptop. Its great to use when you are out somewhere without your laptop and you get a post idea. 

Bloglovin - As many bloggers use this to follow and read other blogs they love, this app brings it to mobile so you can have fun catching up with the latest posts on the go. You can search for other blogs and follow new ones you like while keeping track of your posts and collections. 

Buffer - This is a great app to schedule your social media posts. You can schedule posts through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. You can write out your post and schedule them for specific times which is great for when you are busy at work. 

URL Shortener - Very simple and basic app that, as the name suggests, shortens URL's. This comes in very useful when you are running out of characters on your tweet or you don't want to paste a huge link into your blog or social media post.

Those of the apps I use to help me with blogging. Do you use any of them? What other apps do you have that come in useful for blogging?

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Extended Smile Halloween Look

Seen as it's getting towards that time of year when everyone is deciding what to dress up as for Halloween, I thought I would give you a cheap Halloween look that will certainly give you that scary impression. Last year I did a post on a zombie look, and the theme is similar with this one. Laura was once again kind enough to use her amazing makeup skills to create this Halloween makeup for me. 




This scary look is surprisingly easy and cheap to do and involves only a few steps. A base layer of foundation was applied to give an even skin tone and then my eyebrows were filled in darker to give a darker and more intense appearance. 

To create the extended lips of the mouth, tissue paper and eyelash glue were used and then red, black, purple and blue eyeshadow shades were used all around to give a bruised impression. Adding this inside the smile gives it a bit more depth and makes the blood look more realistic when applied.

The final stage is to apply the blood, the best way to do this is tip a small amount into a tub and use a brush to gently apply it to fill in all the gaps. Take your time with this part and apply multiple layers until you get the required finish. 



This Halloween look only required some basic makeup and fake blood and gives a really scary impression. To style the rest of the costume, I would wear a dark pair of jeans and an old white t-shirt. A quick coating of fake blood on the t-shirt will complete the outfit and you have a quick, cheap, easy and most importantly scary Halloween look!

Do you have a favourite Halloween look?

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Friday, 16 October 2015

Damon's Birthday Meal

Seen as it was my birthday on Sunday, me and Laura went out for lunch to Damon's in Liverpool as they have an amazing birthday offer. I had never been here before, although it had come recommended by Laura. I loved the decor inside, as it was fully kitted out as an American diner with a separate bar area with stools and then loads of little booths for eating at. 

The birthday offer gives you a free main meal, dessert and drink which is very generous and much better than birthday offers at other places. 


I decided to go for the 'New York Steak' as I've not had one in ages and I wasn't disappointed. With the steak, you were given a choice of two sides, and I went for the chips and coleslaw (the coleslaw came slightly before and I was a bit hungry so forgot to take a photo!) It also came with fried onions and peas and was definitely a plateful! I had my steak medium/rare so it still had a bit of colour inside and it was a great choice. 


For desert it didn't take me long to decide and I went for the 'Hanky Panky Chocolate Cake', which had a biscuit base and different chocolate layers. If you are a chocolate fiend like me, this should be your first choice!

The service I received here was great, with the staff being very friendly and the food and drinks came out quickly. As well as the free meal, I was given a 25% off voucher to use on my next visit, and I would certainly want to go back again and try something else from their wide ranging menu. From fajitas to burgers and sandwiches to steaks, there should be something for everyone here, if you want to have a look what's on offer check out their website

Have you ever been to Damon's?

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