Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Six Bingeworthy Box Sets

September is here already, and that can mean only one thing - Autumn is on its way. I love Autumn, after Spring it is my second favourite season of the year and I think we'll all agree that Autumn is the time of year when the idea of settling down in front of the telly is so much more tempting as the days get shorter and cooler.

I have teamed up with Panasonic to celebrate the launch of the new UHD TV Panasonic, which lets be honest is a pretty sexy TV. What better way than with a Top Six list of my favourite binge-worthy box sets, right? I'm not going to lie, box sets are a huge part of my existence and I currently subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Prime. I also theoretically have Now TV but I only really use that when The Walking Dead is on. So, all of my Top Six choices are currently available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime (in the UK).

Six. Jane The Virgin

Synopsis: When sweet and wholly innocent Jane accidentally falls asleep at her routine smear test, what she doesn't expect is to wake up pregnant; accidentally impregnated by the sister of whom the sperm belonged to, who also just happens to be Jane's boss, who she just happened to share a kiss with in the past...

Reasons To Watch: As you might guess from the synopsis, Jane The Virgin verges on the absolutely absurd, as it beautifully spoofs the popular telenovela. One way that differs from traditional telenovela's is that whilst it is generally quite bonkers and "as if" in its storylines, I always feel like the situations are made to feel a little more believable, as I genuinely feel the emotion of what the characters are dealing with and their bad decisions....well, sometimes you can actually imagine people in the real world making them too...in fact, at times it does feel like one really long episode of Jeremy Kyle...although maybe a little bit classier.

The reason Jane the Virgin is so addictive is for the exact same reason as telenovelas: cliffhangers and ridiculous storylines that leave you needing to find out what happens next - it's corny, but my god, it does actually work.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Five. Jessica Jones

Synopsis: Ex-superhero Jessica Jones is trying hard to live an ordinary life, working as a private investigator. However, with her past coming back to haunt her in the shape of a brilliantly twisted David Tennant, you know that isn't going to happen.

In my opinion: Over the past few years, I've grown tired of the Marvel universe. In terms of films, I only really enjoy The Guardians of the Galaxy films, and in terms of TV Shows, Jessica Jones is the only one that I have actually managed to finish.

Reasons to Watch: Jessica Jones is a brilliant anti-hero and this never really felt like a Marvel show. Instead, it felt like so much more, with so much intrigue about what happened in her past.

David Tennant: It's no real shock that David Tennant was an absolutely brilliantly creepy bad guy.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Four. Shameless (USA)

Synopsis: Fiona Gallagher is the eldest of the Gallagher clan, forced to raise her younger siblings alone as her useless parents are too busy getting drunk/high/basically doing everything that is probably illegal.

In my opinion: I put off watching the American incarnation of Shameless because I was such a huge fan of the original series. Of course, it started out with the same storylines (in fact, I'm pretty certain that the first episodes, if not the entire first series were almost exactly the same), however, as the show has progressed it has taken itself down its own patch and created a show that deserves credit in its own rights. I'm not generally a fan of American remakes of British TV shows, but this one is definitely worth a look.

Reasons to Watch: Carl. I  absolutely adore Carl, of course, he's done some messed up stuff (as have all of his siblings), but he's a character that I can really see growing into a responsible youngster. There is so much potential for him, and you can tell that he is going to become a really interesting character.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Three. Parks and Recreation

Synopsis: Leslie Knope has big dreams to become the first female President of the United States; in the mean-time, she's in charge of the quirky Parks and Recreation department in a small town called Pawnee.

In my Opinion: It initially took me a while to get into Parks and Recreation, however, it is such a brilliant concept that kind of shouldn't work. As you can imagine, it's a fairly easy background watch that never takes itself too seriously, in fact, it doesn't take itself seriously at all.

Reasons to Watch: Ron. Ron is comedy genius - he's the typical grumpy middle-aged guy with an anti-social, people-hating personality and oh boy, do I love him because Nick Offerman plays him so well.

Chris Pratt. I feel like I've watched Chris Pratt grow up, right back from his early days in TV shows like The OC and Everwood, up to his starring roles in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy. In everything I've seen him in, he's always been so completely different, and this is no exception. It's nice to see how much he has grown. His chemistry with Aubrey Plaza is brilliant and as an on-screen couple, I adore them.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Two. Orphan Black

Synopsis: When petty crook Sarah Manning witnesses a young woman who looks exactly like her commit suicide, she jumps on the chance to steal her life and start afresh. What she doesn't expect is to discover that the woman (Beth) was, like herself and several other women, the result of an experiment. Sarah finds herself thrown into the midsts of a mind-blowing mystery to their existence as clones.

In my opinion: Orphan Black is one of the greatest science fiction TV shows of the past ten years. It is intelligent, quirky, intriguing and has some interesting characters. The only reason I am putting this at number two, rather than number on is because I felt like it got a little too into itself in the last season and a half.

Reasons To WatchTatiana Maslany plays five major characters and a variety of other clones throughout the series. This in itself is nothing new, but she plays them all so well and so differently that it's easy to forget that they are in fact all the same person.

Felix; played by Jordan Gavaris, Felix is a brilliant breath of fresh air, he's funny, empathetic and a permanent rock of support, not only for adoptive sister Sarah, but also for the other clones, particularly Alison and Cosima.

Helena; a wild-haired, Russian clone (of course played by Maslany), Helena is my favourite of all the clones. She has so much depth, and even when she's absolutely crazy, you really feel sympathy for everything that life has thrown at her. Of all the clones, I found myself wishing her to get a happy ending more than anyone else.

Where to watch: Netflix

One. Orange is the New Black

Synopsis: It started out as the story of a priviliged white girl finds herself going to prison for a crime she commited years ago, based on real events. However over the years, Piper has kind of moved into the background (thank god!) and it has become more about the friendships and hardships of the women in the prison, as a whole.

In my opinion: Every summer a new season of OITNB comes out and every summer I binge watch it in a single weekend. That reason alone is the reason why I have pushed this to number one.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that I love so much about this show. I think a major factor is the sheer amount of amazing, three-dimensional characters that the show has, supported by some bloody amazing acting skills.

Essentially, its a TV show that touches on some serious subjects, as well as light-hearted ones and blends them together nicely.

Where to Watch: Netflix

What TV shows do you love to binge on, and could go back to time and time again?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Dear August: I Don't Care What The Weatherman Says

Dear August,

I am starting to think that you are a little bit confused about what part of the year you live in. So, just to catch you up August - you are in the summer. Not spring, not autumn, definitely not winter but summer. And yet, today alone we have had sweltering heat, downpours, thunder, strong winds and hailstones.

We also need to talk about the leaves August, why are they changing colour already? Autumn is still so far away and as much as I love autumn, I'm not ready for it just yet. I want to cling on to your warmth for as long as I can. I want you to wrap me up in your great snuggly arms until my skin turns brown.

But then, this is the thing August.

We Brits are pretty renowned for moaning about the weather, and it is completely understandable when I don't even think you know what you're doing half the time. But, you know what? I wouldn't have you any other way.

I like that we don't just have 90 days of hard-core sunshine. I like summer rain. In fact, my fondest childhood memories are of being on holiday in Snowdonia in the drizzly rain (or what our family calls "Welsh Rain"). As an adult, it doesn't feel like a proper Welsh holiday unless we have experienced a full day of drizzly rain, and there is nothing more awesome than going waterfall hunting the day after some heavy rainfall.

So, let us clarify, that yes I do moan about the weather - particularly during you August - but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Love you, no matter what the weather,

Kat xx


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dear August: Whirlwinds and Chester Bennington

Dear August,

I honestly cannot believe that it is that time of year when I can write to you again. I have missed you old friend. The past twelve months, since our paths last crossed, have been a bit of a whirlwind. Life has been so busy and I don't know if I have really stopped long enough to completely catch my breath.

Don't get me wrong August, I adore being busy, but sometimes it kind of catches up with me and I realise how exhausted I am from constantly doing stuff. Sometimes it is nice to just sit down and reflect on how far I have come since we last met.

But that's not what I want to talk about August, because I feel that we need to talk about Chester Bennington, but I don't think that there is anything that I can possibly write that hasn't already been said by so many of the amazing people who have shared their feelings about the passing of a man who brought so much happiness to my life. In the face of such tragedy, I personally have found the amount of love and support across the internet to be so incredibly overwhelming.

For some time now, Linkin Park has been the target of a great deal of negativity, generally because of their change of overall sound, so to see so much positivity following his absolutely awful and premature death has been nice to see.

Over the fourteen years that I have been a fan of the band, I have seen them live three times and met them at a Meet and Greet once. I've never really known what it was about their songs that I felt so connected to, but I think I have figured it out.

It is that their songs are about being human, being broken, picking yourself up and dealing with life.

In fact, I think the letter Linkin Park themselves wrote to Chester sums up how I feel better than I can:
"We're trying to remind ourselves that the demons who took you away from us were always part of the deal. After all, it was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place. You fearlessly put them on display, and in doing so, brought us together and taught us to be more human."

I don't think the death of someone I don't actually know has affected me this much since Heath Ledger died. It feels so weird, because even though I did meet Chester, it was one time and I didn't even have a conversation with him, it was just a case of getting him to sign my Hybrid Theory album cover and moving on to the next person.

The most important thing for me, that has come out of Chester's death has been that it has forced people to talk about mental health, and most importantly - suicide. This is the problem, there is so much stigma about mental health and people are too scared to talk about it, so if nothing else good happens, I hope that it will encourage more people to open up and together we can change the way mental health is dealt with on a personal and wider scale.

Needless to say August, July hasn't been the best of months, but I am ready to put that behind me and face you head on this year. I have so many plans and so many experiences to share with you.

Let's do this.

Love, Kat xx

Dear August is a series of posts that I started writing back in 2013, inspired by a Letters to July series a YouTuber used to run. I like to check in with them every year and see how far I have come. If you want an insight into why I chose August, you should check out my original Dear August: Why I Love and Hate You.


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Make Up in Film: Star Wars (Rey and Jyn)

Back in 2012, I wrote a Make Up in Film: Star Wars blog post looking at the very different make up looks used by the main female characters in the Star Wars films (Princess Leia, Queen Amidala and Padme). Since I wrote that, a heck of a lot has changed for the series, with a brand new main film in The Force Awakens, as well as a spin-off in Rogue One.

As you'd expect both of these films spawned strong female leading characters in the forms of Rey and Jyn Erso. Personally, I love both of these characters for very different reasons, and it's so nice to see women continuing to play such big roles in the Star Wars films.

One of the defining differences between Queen Amidala / Padme and Princess Leia was the full make up and extravagant clothing that was worn by Padme, compared to the much toned down Leia. Even out on the field, Leia felt less "royal" than  Padme. 

At the time it was interesting to compare mother and daughter because they were both raised as royals and both had relative types of power, but the way they appeared on screen was completely different.

In contrast, both Rey and Jyn are very different characters, but interestingly quite similar to each other, particularly in their backgrounds. Both characters have been separated from their parents, and both have essentially been left to fend for themselves. I think this shows deeply in their clothing.

Rey's clothing, I feel, closely resembles bandages, as if she is wearing all that she could afford - in the form of material - and she has fashioned it to suit her needs. Her outfit is practical but screams obvious poverty. I think that this poverty also shows through in the lack of colour in her clothing.

 As you would expect, Rey wears very little make up (I'd say that we're supposed to see her as being completely make up free, but of course actress Daisy Ridley will be wearing something). I feel that this shows that she is a character who doesn't have time for make up. Her main priority in life is survival.

However, for me, the lack of make up also adds another quality to Rey's character. Whilst I don't for a second consider Rey to be a naive character (boy does she have street smarts and boy can she defend herself), however, I do think she comes across quite innocent, much in the same way Anakin was before he became a Jedi.

Of course, I don't know if she falls into the same lineage as Padme and Leia (I am personally hoping that she doesn't), but it's interesting to see how different she is to both of them.

Whilst coming from a similar backstory to Rey, Jyn's costume design represents a very different lifestyle. Whilst Rey was forced to survive as a scavenger, Jyn had a more military-based upbringing and that definitely shows in the clothes that she wears.

I also find the different colour palettes interesting; Rey wears light neutral tones, probably of someone just discovering something big in the world (which we know is true), whilst Jyn's clothing is darker and seems to have been designed to be more functional for battle.
A lot about Jyn's clothing is also about blending in and being undetected.

In regards to make up, Jyn's is very similar to Rey's and that it is understated, because appearance isn't part of Jyn's life. However, there does seem to be some focus on eye liner, which I feel makes her look quite moody - kind of like an angry teenager - which definitely fits her personality and how she feels about her life experiences.

One of my favourite parts about both of these strong female characters is that they are both characters who are allowed to be female, without male personalities. They are women who are never forced to be overly feminine, by which I mean that they don't use the fact that they are women to win their battles (as in, they don't flirt to get their way) instead they genuinely fight for themselves and what they believe in.

I absolutely love the direction that the Star Wars series is going in terms of women. I know that there are a lot of loud voices moaning at the lack of women in the films, in terms of numbers, but C'mon, the ones that we do have are flipping bad ass and such inspiring role models.

Who is your favourite Star Wars leading lady? And do you think the series is doing enough for girl power? Are Jyn and Rey the women that young girls can and should inspire to be like?


Saturday, 15 July 2017

No.7 Beautiful Matte Foundation Cool Ivory Review

Everyone knows that foundation is probably the most important factor in makeup because it's the part that creates the initial blank canvas that you then build up to create whatever you want to.

That being said, it's one of the areas that I have always felt the most nervous about:
  1. I worry that I don't blend it well enough
  2. I worry that it'll look cakey
  3. I worry that the foundation will be too dark/too orange/too wrong for me

And number 3 is the biggest clincher for all three of my worries: I just never feel that I am wearing the correct colour for my skin tone. I can never remember if I need warm or cool, and I always get confused about whether foundations are warm or cool, and 9 times out of ten, I end up with a yellow-based foundation when I end up needing a more pink-based one.

So when I saw that No.7's Beautiful Matte Foundation range has Ivory (my general foundation cool) as both cool and warm options, it seemed the perfect opportunity to test both next to each other. And, as the title of this review probably gives away, yes, I ended up getting the Cool Ivory.

 I personally have never come across a range that actually labels its shades as cool or warm, with the same colour in both options, so that was incredibly refreshing for me.

One thing that bugged me a little about this foundation, is the fact that it cost £15 (which is pretty much the going rate for a foundation), but the packaging just didn't feel like £15 quality to me. It felt cheap, and the pump, in particular, feels quite flimsy. I can imagine it breaking really easily, which is a little disappointing.

Okay, so I started off by applying primer. For this, I decided to use my Bourjois Matte Serum Primer purely because it's about to run out and I just want to finish it. I'm not a huge fan of this primer, as I find it quite "flaky" but for the purpose of this review it was fine.

I'll be honest, I don't normally pay much attention to the directions of products like foundation because I think it's a personal preference how you apply it, but for once, I decided to actually follow it. The directions basically say to:

"Dot a little foundation where you need it most, usually your cheeks, nose and chin. Blend into the skin with a foundation brush in a small circular motion, working downwards and outwards from the centre of your face."

I applied the foundation using the F80 Flat Topped Kabuki Brush from Sigma, which is the only foundation brush I ever use, because I love it so much.

The foundation applied really nicely and evenly, blending well. One of my biggest errors is that I have a habit of applying in layers that are too heavy, but I think dotting a small amount on my forehead, cheeks, chin and nose it helped me to only use a small amount. I ended up applying a second layer that I dotted into areas that were still showing a little redness, generally around my cheeks. I also applied more just below my eyes and above the eyebrows because I think I have a slight tan that hasn't got to my eyes (y'know because of sunglasses) so my eyes are a slightly different tone so I wanted to blend the colour out a little.

The result looked like this (before and after of course):

My biggest problem areas are essentially covering redness, predominantly on my cheeks, hiding spots and evening out the skintone. I don't have any major problem areas, as I am lucky to have fairly good skin these days.

But it's easy to see the difference from just a light amount of coverage.

Overall, I am really happy with this foundation. For the small amount used, the coverage was perfect for me and it blended out nicely and my skin feels really nice. It doesn't feel heavy which I absolutely love in a foundation, because I prefer to not be able to feel that I'm wearing any.

The only thing I will say is that for a product that is "oil free", after a while, my skin has started to feel a little bit oily, so I'm not sure I'd recommend this for use during hot weather, despite the promise of SPF 15 on the bottle.

Disclaimer: Although different angles, both photos were taken in the exact same location, roughly 20 minutes apart so with the same lighting in both. The lighting is through a window rather than artificial lighting, and absolutely no filters and post-editing has been applied to any of the photos.

The product was purchased by me, with my own money.
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