Thursday, 25 August 2011

And some more...

Oh, I've been very busy here at OK! Online! Here are some more pieces that I have written....

Internship at OK! Online

Sooo here are the links to a few of the pieces that I have done for OK! Online and The Daily Express:

25th August:

24th August:

22nd August:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Cafe Blend

OK, so last week I had the task of becoming a barista for the day for an article for Culinary Pursuits Magazine at the gorgeous coffee house... Cafe Blend, Birmingham.

Not just your bog standard cafe, Cafe Blend opens for open mic nights, coffee cocktails and liqueurs, a whole range of different coffees and actually has staff there who blend to taste.

All the recipes are based around Sophie, the owner's, travelling experiences of coffee. You can tell the cafe has been made from the heart; her passion is in every cup of coffee sold there.

I will be posting my final article up here shortly!

Check out Cafe Blend:

Culinary Pursuits Magazine:

Monday, 18 April 2011

Article for Culinary Pursuits Magazine, April 2011

To tip or not to tip, that is the question.

After casually ordering my food at a local restaurant, I was confronted with a tip jar saying: ‘Fear Change! Leave it here!’ and another oh-so-comical jar which read: ‘Phil the Tip Jar’. It is truly incredible how a few exclamation marks made me physically afraid of my change, fearing my coppers would pounce out of my purse and kamikaze into the jar if I did not put them in willingly. This mad, needless urge to throw my money into a jam jar with anger issues got me thinking about tipping.
I don’t know one person, young or old, rich or poor, who does not find tipping a painfully awkward situation.  From being on both sides of the coin (I have spent many years as a barmaid and waitress) tipping has proved to be somewhat of an ambiguously positive and negative experience in restaurants. After all, haven’t we all been in the dreaded situation of running out post-paying before our waiter discovers he has been left tip-less, never to return again just in case your food has certain added bodily fluids in it next time? Or, on the other hand, idly going through old receipts to find out that the pesky restaurant has put a service charge on the table and you have also left a tip?
So, what is the tipping rule exactly? The general consensus for table service at a restaurant is to tip around 12.5 percent of your bill amount, and speaking as a former waitress, that is a more than generous percentage. But what if your bill comes to hundreds of pounds? Trust me, the waitresses will be rubbing their hands together with glee whilst you hand over double their daily wage as a tip. If your bill is large then presumably your server has had to work extra hard in order to maintain a high level of service. However, if your bill is mostly made up of expensive bottles of wine this can lead to a tipping conundrum.
Saying that, I believe that good service deserves reward, however much you think that reward should be. You must remember that your waiting staffs are there to do their job, but their friendliness, etiquette and manner are all individual, so if you have exceptional service it is usually down a dash of good training and a dousing of excellent waiting skills. No one will tip the grumpy waiter who chucks your scalding food at you and glares at you as he asks the dreaded question: ‘do you want to leave a tip?’ Without sounding like a tacky self-help book, have the power to say ‘No!’. Waiting is about customer service; the restaurant’s image is held by their staff and if this is not up to scratch, tipping should be cautionary. If you feel, as a customer, that you have been treated in a hostile manner because your waiting staffs were ‘on the lash’ last night, you should not feel obligated to tip.
All in all, tipping is an entirely personal process. Don’t be frightened to ask if a service charge has been added to your bill and do not feel obliged to tip if you have been given poor service. After all, calculating 12.5 percent of the bill after a few glasses of wine can lead to a whole lot of slurry difficulty (and, more than likely, a GCSE student correcting your maths). My advice? Round down to 10 percent or up to 15 percent depending on service and sit back and relax knowing that the ‘awkward tipping-bit’ has been dealt with.

Waitressing Tips for Tips
Sometimes wonder why you have given such a huge tip? Here are a few of the subtle waiting techniques that leave you reaching for your wallet every time!
·         Touching Customers:  Studies show that tips increased from 11.8 percent to just under 15 percent when waiting staff touched their customers on the shoulder. And before you ask, it was not just the blonde bombshell waitresses brushing against the middle aged men that pumped up the tips- both sexes increased their tips from this subtle action.
·         ­Squatting: Waiters that squat next to your table also get extra tips, according to Cornell Hospitality Research Centre. The close interaction and eye contact sent tips soaring!
·         Giving Sweets: So, all those After Eight’s are there for a reason! Studies show that giving sweets with a bill increasing tipping up to 2.5 percent. A very sweet increase.
·         Sunshine: Temple University psychologist Bruce Rind found that sunny days call for sunny-spending. He said: "When the server told guests that it was raining, tips averaged 19 percent of the bill. But describing sunny skies sent the gratuity rate soaring to 24 percent”.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Second Article: The Ripple. Music

Michael Buble: Crazy Love Review

Michael Buble. I don’t think I know one person, male or female, who wouldn’t throw their knickers at him as soon as he starts to sing. Oh, the handsome devil! And although, presumably, constantly covered in under crackers, he still manages to lull us in to a stupor with his milky smooth jazz voice.

If you’re looking for an exceptionally original take on classic jazz songs, as well as two brand spanking new tracks, Buble will not let you down with 'Crazy Love'.

‘Crazy Love’, which includes his hit single ‘Haven’t met you yet’, co-written by the smooth-operator himself, is a slightly more pop-happy version of his usual albums. Although, admittedly (and, trust me, this is hard to say), one may tire of the amount of covers on the album, overall the album is all that can be expected: happily generic and generally easy to listen to. Although he seems to be going down more of a pop route, Buble still remains ever the jazz enthusiast with songs such as ‘Heartache tonight’ and ‘Baby’, which portrays his impressively pitch perfect voice throughout. ‘Heartache tonight’ proves to the listener that Buble can stretch those vocal cords around more upbeat songs, and, whatever type of music genre you like, you have to admit his voice is as powerful as ever.  

The title track, ‘Crazy Love’ is a cover of the Northern Irish musician Van Morrison’s 1970's song. However, it appears not to pack the punch as much as other generic love songs on his album. For instance, the first single off the album, ‘Haven’t met you yet’, manages to retain its jazz elements; the strong piano and wind instrumental nearing the end being two main examples, withholds his perfect voice in an original form, which is refreshing to hear.

Buble, who first appeared to the world as a slightly chubby, though ever so talented cuter-version-of –Frank- Sinatra, should be proud of his fourth album. The album includes two original tracks and his powerful, always original take on 11 tracks from different eras. But, having sold over 22 million CDs worldwide and his previous CD, the Grammy winning "Call Me Irresponsible" (2007) was a number one album in over 15 countries, he must be doing something right.

He has also included two bonus tracks, including cover ‘Some kind of Wonderful’ and ‘Whatever it takes’. On the back of the CD he (or his, admittedly, incredibly good advertiser), says ‘I loved these (bonus tracks) so much that I sneaked them on to the CD as a little bonus for you!’. Well, well! You can give me your little bonus anytime, Buble! Shame that his irritatingly good looking fiancĂ©e (who appears in his video for ‘Haven’t met you yet’) is difficult to match up with. So then, overall the album is an impressive portrayal of Buble’s flawless jazz voice, however lacking a sense of versatility throughout, concluding in an album which mixes original takes on classic songs with a dynamic cut of pop with his two new songs.

Very first article: The Ripple (apologies for the lack of photographs)

I’ve always been a great believer of having it all. All through spring, the shops have been inundated with nude pallets to make our winter-bitten feet feel pretty again. But now, the shocking bolds are coming back to give what’s south of the ankle a fright! So how can a girl decide?
The outrageous bolds may force us to throw on a pair of sunglasses, but my goodness, they certainly make an impact. On the other hand, those pretty pastels do wonders for the pins; elongating the leg and working oh-so-well with the florals and laces of this season. Luckily, finding inspiration from the likes of Diesel and LK Benet, our beloved high street shops appear to have heard my frustrated calls and found a perfect combination of the two-at a price that won’t make your student loan cry for mercy.
River Island appears to have answered my prayers flawlessly with their glorious peep-toe court. The dynamic contrasts in the shades of pink snuggle together nicely, combining the spicy hot pink with the glamour of the rather indulgent nude pink.  The peep-toe also has the added bonus of a cutesy bow, giving the somewhat simplistic court shoe a youthful feel. It also helps to merge the shoe in with the bow trend, held proudly in the limelight by the likes of Lady Gaga.  Wear with Indigo jeans to keep its chilled this spring, or flirt it up with a lacy skirt. This seasons three trends in one shoe, and at the fairly reasonably price of £49.99; who can ask better than that?
However, if your ideal look is more along the lines of rock chic Rhianna, than zingy Audrey Hepburn, please do not fear! You can happily dance around like you’re born in the 80’s and still rock the mash up of nudes and bolds in these babies.  Topshop are, as usual, right on the mark with these thick banded delights, teaming deep charcoal black with the subtle dusky pinks in their ‘Gloria cross over shoes’. A little expensive at £65, but your feet will love you!
For an alternative, slightly cheaper option, fall back on the fail-safe of River Island. They have given us a dynamic nude 80’s thick banded sandal, slashed with powerful black. Surely, that’s enough to make anyone want to don the shoulder pads and ‘work it’! The natural leather is contrasted with the metallic stainless steel heel, seen on the catwalks of Diesel and Kurt Geiger to name but a few. Therefore, River Island offers a great trend setter and good alternative to the Topshop heeled beauties, at a price tag of £59.99.
So, whatever your style, go for the clash this season and prove that your feet can have all the trends in one peep-toed swoop. Throw the Uggs in the cupboard and give those winter-worn feet the trends they deserve. 

Piece of writing in the style of Helen Fielding...

Being a woman is a very gruelling task. The other day, I had the arduous task of ‘getting ready’ for a date, a date which in a fit of good-will I decided to cook for. So there I was, trying to make both myself and my food as delicious as possible. Urggghh..  

Firstly, the ‘getting ready’ aspect. After I had seemingly, in Bridget Jones’s words, ‘farmed’ my body, I then go on to the ridiculous task of painting my face and sorting out my straw-like hair.
Proceeded almost instantly to get foundation all over my nicely ironed top.
 And now, suddenly, after my ideal outfit is no more (and I say ‘ideal’ because I have previously scrutinized every outfit in my wardrobe and decided that said top is the only thing that I will look good in for this situation; not too ‘try hard’, not too casual. So much to think about) shockingly, nothing else in my wardrobe looks ‘good’ on me. A skirt/top which I would usually throw on and feel acceptable in has turned into some sort of squeezing device, insistent on showing  bits of bulge which I didn’t even know I had. Nervously chew freshly painted nails and then have to spend precious time carefully dabbing nail varnish remover onto sides out mouth so do not look like vampire, oozing ‘sexy scarlet’ paint from mouth.
How I did it I do not know, but eventually this horrific ‘getting ready’ episode ended and I decided to start cooking.
I cannot cook. Part of me likes this fact and wants to retain it for as long as possible, namely so this situation will never arise again. Yes, food- I love. I can fully appreciate food when someone else has cooked it. Hell, I have survived this long without knowing how to make a Jain Du Laurieieiririr duck armpit souflee and am yet to keel over from malnutrition.  Yes, I can bake a good chocolate cake. But cook? Under pressure? Noooo. Decide on a whim to make some sort of ridiculously extravagant sausage casulet, with £0.99 packet of sausages and several stolen ingredients from housemates. This, of course, is the recipe for success.  
So, in comes Man. I shall name him Man because I seemingly have no imagination. See, in these situations, one wants Man to arrive to self looking composed and calm, possibly in the middle of doing ‘something’ (whatever it may be) so that you do not look like you have been twitching nervously and looking at your watch for several hours before Man’s arrival.  However, Man arrived after all of my housemates had disappeared and my self-inflicted fast for the day had just ended; I was munching on cheese and onion crisps hoping that I would have time to brush teeth and sort crumbs out before Man arrived. However, typically, Man decides to arrive at most inconvenient moment possible, looking frighteningly relaxed. Legs go a little floppy, probably from lack of food all day. See, he managed to dress himself and walk to my house, how is it that, in the face of Man, I cannot even do the simplest of functions?
I have no idea how these dinner events are meant to go so begin with plying him with alcohol and dashing in and out of the kitchen in an attempt to prepare food; sausages are flying everywhere. Everywhere.  


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Arty farty

These are a few of my art pieces, varying in mediums. I was influenced predominantly by Picasso and Basquiat. Fairly old now! Should really get painting again....

My very first blog...

Today is a momentous day. Today, the 15th March 2011, is the day that I become a technological whizz; a 'blogger', a 'Blog Queen', a person who can actually say, 'oh blogging? Yeah yeah, me and blogging go way back... I blog all the time'.

Yes, yes I am indulging in a little bit of hyperbole at the moment but I am pretty excited about this new 'blogging' side to my life. So, sit back and indulge whilst I take you on a blogging adventure. Bit like a Disneyland adventure, just slightly better.

About me: I am currently studying English at University with the intention of going into Journalism after I graduate. I am a passionate writer and am enthusiastic about several subjects, including art, poetry and fashion. That is all you need to know!

Much love,