Sunday, 28 February 2016

Clicklist #14

As if it's the last weekend of February already! 2016 seems to hurtling ahead, so here's a list of some things that I've enjoyed on the internet this month.

So February is known as the month of love, and this is the 14th clicklist, so to start some rather cute posts that people wrote about their significant others because secretly I'm a complete piece of mush. Megs on Jamie, Audery on 42 days to fall in love, and my favourite Charlotte's My boyfriend is a pasta dish.

I loved this by Jen on why she doesn't live in London.

I really love Jane's blog for her amazing photographs of the places she visits, lately I've liked this post of London and this of Bath.

Hannah's trip to Scotland looks so pretty.

Meg talking about the process of recovery.

I always love to here about what other young people have discovered by living alone; this is what Sophie has to say

How to use Sunday to set yourself up for a successful week. 

This peanut butter granola sounds like such a great breakfast

If you're a really creative baker, these hazelnut, pecan & chocolate babka rolls sound amazing. If, on the other hand, like me sometimes you just want a quick cakey fix; chocolate cake in a mug.

White Russians. Or how to combine vodka & coffee in the best way.

As a Tumblr user, this longform piece on the young people who are making a *ton* of money from the site was so compelling. Even if it did make me feel very grateful to only really had MySpace when I was growing up.

Rosie's Goats Cheese & Capers scrambled egg sounds amazing. I've become rather addicted to a tomato scrambled egg recipie from Nigella's latest book, so this would be a good addition to my repertoire.

How Extroverted Introverts interact with the world or INFJ problems.

This Guardian story, tracking the heart rates of people with stressful jobs was really interesting.

This interview with Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, the woman who exposed the insane water crisis in Flint, Michigan in the US, is really interesting & inspiring too.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Thoughts On: Birmingham Royal Ballet's Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet is probably my favourite ballet that I've seen so far; obviously the story is wonderful, the score by Prokofiev is fantastic (and features that piece of music from The Apprentice) and Kenneth MacMillan's choreography is just brilliant at combining classical dance with actual storytelling.

I took my Mum to see English National Ballet's production at the Royal Albert Hall which starred Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo for Mother's Day a year or so ago, and so for her birthday this year I thought I'd treat her to the Birmingham Royal Ballet production.

The cast we saw starred Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma as the title characters, and their dancing in the famous balcony scene was beautiful as was their individual performances at the very end of the ballet (which is always completely heartbreaking). Sakuma in particular is a stunning dancer, especially when she was en pointe when she just seemed impossibly light on her feet.

Other great performances came from Tzu-Chao Chou as Mercutio who bought humour to every scene, and his final scene was just fantastic; Valentin Oloyannikov as Tybalt was icily commanding in his scenes and Marion Tait was very fun as Juliet's Nurse. Romeo & Juliet is also a ballet that really gives the corps de ballet excellent chances to stand-out too, with really vivid crowd scenes and characterisation throughout. Special mention should go to the wonderfully costumed Mandolin dancers, led by Mathias Dingman and the harlots danced by Celine Gittens, Jade Heusen and Maureya Lebowitz.

I'd really recommend you try and see this; it's in Birmingham until tomorrow and then goes out on tour, the details of which you can find here.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A Rookie Recruiter's Guide to Getting a Job

So this is a bit of a curveball post for this blog, but I've recently spent some time on the other side of the recruiting table which has been a really interesting experience and I wanted to share a few tips from that experience.

1. If the job advert says to send a cover letter, send a cover letter.
Or, read what the application process is. When I was looking for jobs, I was always mildly offended when I saw this included in job hunting advice posts but apparently some people really do need to be told this. Make sure you know exactly what you need to send in and to whom; otherwise you're disqualifying yourself straight away!

2. Tailor your application to the job you're applying for.
Once you know how you need to apply, make sure that you really show why you want to work for the company and how your skills line up to the job description. Don't be afraid to show just how passionate you are, it's what recruiters want to hear.

3. Proof Read! Proof Read! Proof Read!

4. Don't be afraid to ask to hear the question again.
I always thought that I had to answer the interview question straight away, in case the person interviewing me would think I was dumb for not being able to produce an answer within about 30 seconds. However, hearing the question again can help you clarify what is being asked and gives you extra time to think about what you want to say as well; it definitely doesn't make you look bad.

5. Interviewers want to give you the job.
Seriously, seriously, seriously. I was as nervous being on the interview panel as I have been when I'm the interviewee because I just so wanted everyone we were seeing to do well. We're not there to catch you out or anything; we're there because we want we liked your application form and we want to learn more about you and, ultimately, we want to be able to hire you! (This is certainly something that I'm going to use to be slightly less terrified of job interviews in the future)

Do you have any other top tips?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Thoughts On: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

Last night I was lucky enough to be treated to a trip to see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Matthew Bourne is something of a household name, due mostly to his famous Swan Lake, which features an all-male swan corps, rather than the traditional female one. However, I knew nothing about his version of Sleeping Beauty.

In case you're unfamiliar with the story, Bourne's Sleeping Beauty opens with a King Benedict and Queen Eleanor being granted a child, Aurora, by the fairy Carabosse. However, she does not believe that they have expressed their gratitude enough and thus casts the famous spell that states that if she pricks her finger she would die. Count Lilac, the lead 'good' fairy, changes the spell to be a sleep for 100 years, and the plot continues from there.

It's a show that begins in the late 19th century and finishes 'last night' and it is visually just stunning. Lez Brotherson designed the sets and costumes and they were a) really clever and b) just lovely to look at. In particular, the beautiful white costumes worn in the Edwardian summer scene really stood out, as did the gloriously campy Caradoc's cronies costumes towards the end.

It's difficult to be 100% sure about who I saw perform last night, as there wasn't a cast list handed out, but as Aurora, Ashley Shaw was really great at bringing a youthful exuberance to the role. Her duets with Leo, played (I think!) by Dominic North were pretty adorable. The two central fairies, danced by Adam Maskell and Christopher Marney were also fun to watch (and it was an interesting change to have these characters both be men). There was also a really fun ensemble of performances-in particular whoever was playing the footmen; finally a particular shout-out needs to go to the puppetry work which was excellent.

Some of the plot developments didn't quite make sense to me, but it was a really fun evening out, and it was nice to see a ballet that wasn't of epic proportions. It's currently touring, and you can find out details of dates here.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Clicklist #13

It's yet another evening when I can hear the wind whistling around outside, and my umbrella nearly fell victim to the storms yesterday. So here's a collection of things to read whilst we're sheltering from the elements.

I've been generally pretty good about avoiding buying lunch when I'm at work (apart from those days where I manage to leave my pre-prepped lunch in the fridge), but sometimes sad salads just get a bit dull. These 15 Easy & Portable Office Lunches all sound really different/delicious, as does Izzy's Curried Carrot & Courgetti Soup in a Jar.

See also, Hannah's three favourite salads (especially that chicken satay one)

A bit of interior design inspiration courtesy of Olivia's bedroom, Audery's flat and Kate's shelfie

Vix's fab post on Things That Don't Make You a Slut

Al Silber (currently starring in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof) favourite acting performances

I know I've said before in these posts how much I love Amber's style of writing, but I really do. Here's her Day in the Life of a Full-Time Blogger

14 Things You Only Own When You've Hit Peak Adulthood

I will probably always link to posts about Florence, because it is the most beautiful place I've been and everyone should go. Carrie's post has some gorgeous photos (that one of Ponte Vecchi makes me !! inside)

Charly's incredibly honest post about realising she had a problem with alcohol

Katy on The Truth About Living Alone (I feel all of these things)

Olivia's Simple Cinnamon Buns, because you need something to balance out the salads. Also I'm am definitely making these sooner rather than later because they do look truly simple.

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Person Who is Job Searching (& What to Say Instead)

Gemma's really informative and interesting post on her stance on cruelty-free products; this is packed with information and a move towards being CF with my beauty & skincare products is definitely something I'm thinking about.

The DIY Scientist, The Olympian & The Mutated Gene. This was a story on the This American Life podcast, and is completely fascinating.

Charlotte of Charlotte's Web/Smudgeness fame is back with a new blog: Fox Socks, which makes me very happy.


Monday, 1 February 2016

In Review: January

As I could never be accused of being in any way consistent with my blog posting, I've decided to bring in a monthly wrap-up of what I've been up to between my posts.

I almost feel a bit sorry for January as it gets a fairly bad rap for being the most depressing, horrible, penny-pinching month following on from the celebratory vibe at the end of December. This January did feel pretty long to me though, partly I think due to the fact that I had the entire festive season off for the first time in about 3 years (yay no more retail work) and it did seem full of kind of horrible news (RIP to David Bowie, Alan Rickman & Terry Wogan, all people who have figured large in my life). However, there were also plenty of good bits throughout the month too.

Staying In
(frame, prints, candle, fairy lights from Dunelm)
I finally caved and bought some little prints to fill my Ikea frame that has been empty for the past...six months. This addition means that my living space is finally finished which is cool (although if anyone has any tips on how to keep a rug clean when you don't have a hoover, you will become my favourite person).

I also treated myself to Nigella Lawson's cookbook and there are just so many different types of delicious sounding food in it, one of which being these Chai Muffins which I definitely overcooked slightly but are delicious straight out the oven and surprisingly filling.

Also, like everyone else I became hooked on Netflix's Making of a Murderer (though I haven't watched the last couple of episodes as I get into a proper rage whenever I watch it) and I've also been seriously loving the BBC adaptation of War & Peace starring Paul Dano, Lily James and James Norton which has got to be one of the most stunning looking television adaptations I've seen in ages.

Going Out
January isn't always the best month to attempt to be really social as everyone tends to be keeping one eye on their bank balance, but I haven't been a total hermit this month.

My parents both have their birthdays within a week of each other, so I popped home to do some present-giving and cat snuggling. We headed to the Exeter Arms at Easton-on-the-Hill, which is a family favourite and just does really good pub food (I had a burger and it ticked all my burger craving boxes-although my Mum's fish dish looked lovely too). We also had a really nice breakfast at Frothys, a really cute independent coffee shop in Stamford, a nice alternative to the chain stores on the High Street. Before I returned to Birmingham, I also had coffee with a friend at The Picture Cafe in Grantham; again a really nice independent choice (although they could do with being slightly speedier and...friendlier when it comes to their service).

On the Birmingham side of things, my work friends and I headed to Boston Tea Party for a long(ish) lunch. Whilst BTP is a chain, their massive selection of food and great coffee mean its somewhere that never really disappoints. Plus their Birmingham store is perfectly situated for some real people watching due to the variety of people who work and play around that area. I also finally visited The Jekyll & Hyde, a bar on Steelhouse Lane which I've wanted to visit forever, and I definitely need to go back and sample their delicious sounding cocktail menu.

I ended the month heading to London to catch-up with one of my old uni housemates who I hadn't seen in an age (well, a year), and it was so lovely to catch up with her. We went to somewhere called Joe's for brunch, a place that is best known for fried chicken but did a mean Eggs Royale (yes I did have poached eggs twice in the same week...fight me). We also headed up to Primrose Hill, which offers some stunning views across to the City, where you can see Canary Wharf, St Paul's and many other London landmarks.

My January posts were:
My favourite books I read in 2015
My 2016 Resolutions
The books I'm excited for this year
The 12th Clicklist
On why I'm choosing hope over hate 
The books I read in January 

Resolution Check-In
So, traditionally everyone has probably given up on an targets they've set themselves by the end of January. However, I'm pleased to report that I've generally made good progress. I've got a little obsessed with Money Dashboard, a really great budgeting website that I head about via Bookish Blether, which means that I finally know where my money is really going. I'm currently on track with my 50 book challenge, and I've been writing in my diary every few days. I have, however, broken my book buying ban. I forgot to take anything to read with me down to London and none of the magazines on offer appealed, so I picked up Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test but as I've read almost all of it I'm not angry at myself as it's not just sitting collecting dust!

How was your January? I'm looking forward to our leap year February!