Sunday, 14 October 2012

Out with the Old - Who Made Your Pants?



Part of the great becoming organised mission is to have a good old clear out every 2 weeks at least. One of my biggest organisation demons has always been clothes and accessories. Like any woman, I love to shop and over the years have accumulated far too many clothes.

I am always astonished when the laundry's done at how many pairs of socks I have. Where do they all come from, and where do they hide when I need them causing me to go out and buy more? But what I'd never really looked at before was my pants. I wear pants everyday (oh yes) and rush around every morning to get ready for work, so having a never ending pants supply in the top drawer always seemed like a sensible idea to me. I never really took time out to reflect on the sheer volume of pants I own.

I expect my pants draw is like many others across the nation. I have the big comfy ones, the trouser friendly ones, the matching ones and the saucy ones (which come out on very special occassions only due to being very very uncomfortable!) I do have some nice pairs of pants that were gifts - but I tend to go for cheap and cheerful and I'm sorry to say that many of my undergarments are from not-so-ethical cheapy shops.

I was recently introduced to pioneering pants brand Who Made Your Pants?. I was immediately moved by their mission: to build a better world one pair of pants at a time. The idea of this lovely brand is to make pants out of gorgeous material that is thrown away and wasted as lingerie leftovers from some of the bigger brands.

With this perfectly good material, the most gorgeous pants are made. There literaly is a colour for every woman in their collection. Given that I had been dressing my hard working behind with cheapy pants for such a long time, I decided it was time to indulge and buy myself a pair of these pioneering pants. The best bit is, I didn't feel guilty about buying mysef something nice, because every pair of pants bought in their online shop helps fund a job and training for vulnerable women from war torn countries like Sudan.

When my pants arrived I really was delighted. I had been looking forward to getting them anyway because there are lots of reviews on their website from woman saying how comfy their pants are, particularly the Aimee shorts that I had chosen.

A llittle package arrived at work. It was the size and type of box that something really good comes in. They'd make a really great present. I have taken some pictures because the presentation was so lovely that I felt like I was being sent a gift to say thank you for supporting Who Made Your Pants rather than carrying out some guilt ridden retail therapy shopping.

In fact, I am so pleased with my new Something Blue pants that I have thrown away 8 of my cheapy un-ethical pants and was very glad to see them go. Seeing as I got a 15% off voucher in with my new pants too i expect I'll be going back to get some more and hopefully throwing out another load of bad pants.

When you see the pictures you'll see for yourself how exciting these pants are, but I urge every woman with a conscience to check out their website and just have a think about who made your pants.

Lovely box of gifty goodness
Nicely wrapped pants

Bad cheapy pants going in the bin

Ta da! Lovely comfy new Something Blue Ethical Pants!



Monday, 8 October 2012

Guest Post: Foods that Make You Happy (apart from Chocolate)

The lovely people at Fit Farm have sent me a great piece on food. I certainly notice my mood change for the worse when I've gobbled up a bag of haribo and washed it down with a latte. And I should probably get myself down to the Fit Farm too after my terrible eating habits recently!

Want to be happier? Start with what you eat. Research from the neuroscience and nutrition fields show that you can improve your mood and focus simply by changing what you eat. Besides improving your mood, these diet changes can also help you stay physically healthy. Start feeling happier today by including these foods in your diet.

Eggs
Here is a reason for you to always eat eggs at breakfast: eggs are rich in vitamin B12 which is essential for nerve cells. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause irritability and even depression. In addition, eggs also contain folate which keeps our brain’s neurotransmitters functioning properly. Iodine is also essential for good thyroid function. An underactive thyroid can lead to loss of energy and weight gain. These are only some of the benefits of eating eggs.

Eggs make you happy!

Honey and Maple Syrup
When talking about happy food, most people immediately think of sweets. However, high sugar intake and depression may actually go hand in hand. But that doesn’t mean you should steer clear of sweets. Instead of chocolates, try honey and maple syrup. These are rich in manganese, zinc and B vitamins which boost the brain’s energy production. When choosing maple syrup though, make sure you go for the pure, organic one. Many maple syrup products in the market today have high amounts of fructose corn syrup.

Spinach
Can green, leafy vegetables make you happy? Yes, more so when you’re talking about spinach. Did you know that spinach contains compounds that actively work to keep you in a happy mood? No wonder Popeye is such a huge fan!

Spinach and other greens are rich in folate – the natural form of folic acid that is found in food. Folate is a B-vitamin that helps in creating serotonin which is a neurotransmitter long been linked to happiness. There have been various studies that show low folate and serotonin levels can cause depression.

Wild Salmon
What makes wild salmon a happy food? This fish is an important source of almost all the elements that will help keep you in a good mood. Studies show that people in countries that have the highest fish consumption have the lowest depression and seasonal affective disorder rates. This may be due to the fact that wild salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Today, fish oil is known to be effective in treating major depression.

Almonds
If you are in need of energy, munch on almonds. Besides containing healthy fat and fiber, almonds are also packed with magnesium which converts carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy. A research from the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota found that women who have higher magnesium levels are able to do activities longer than women with lower levels.  Include almonds in your diet to always have abundant energy.

What to Keep in Mind
These are only some of the food that will help keep you happy. Don’t forget that there are other rules that you should follow. First, reduce the amount of processed food that you consumed. These have high amounts of sugar which are not beneficial to your overall health. Also, eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These contain the vitamins and minerals that you need to ensure that you are focused and always in the best health.


Editorial by FitFarms UK. Visit http://www.FitFarms.co.uk for information on Fitness Holiday and Boot Camp Programmes.

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Brighton Restaurant - All fur coat and no knickers

I haven't reviewed any Brighton establishments for a little while. But I was compelled to write about my experience a Little Bay in Brighton because quite frankly, it was cr@p. 



When this place first popped up on the seafront, my friends and I were excited because from the outside, it looks like a quirky, luxurious and fun place to visit. It's an opera themed restaurant with royal box style seating. It's taken some time to get around to visiting Little Bay, just because it would be a bit of a gamble away from trusted eateries and as we all know the dining out budget is precious right now! 

As we were having a work night out on me, and the team deserved something fun for all their hard work, I thought it would be great to treat them to Little Bay. The website looked good, there was also a branch in London so they must do ok, and the menu sounded nice. 

However, from my very first encounter I was a bit frustrated. I booked online, and after received a string of confirmation emails I received another email telling me I'd better phone the restaurant. So I did, and they had no record of the booking, so I had to start all over again. 

When we got to the restaurant, it looked nice inside, but we were offered a table by the drafty door out of the main decorated area of the restaurant (which defeats the object of going to a themed restaurant) or another "booth". I straight away jumped at the chance to have a booth, thinking it would be one of the mezzanine level tables. As we got to the table we all burst out laughing - we were asked to squeeze under what could only be described as a bunk bed style structure. It was too dark to read the menu, the 6 of us were rather cosy, and we could see right in to the washing up room. The "ceiling" above us had a bare wire hanging down, and they hadn't even bothered to paint the plywood. As people were shown to the table above us, the loud creaking concerned us that they would be joining us for dinner by dropping through the ceiling. Not the classy operatic experience I had hoped for.

We had found a voucher online, which offered 3 courses for £13 but actually the waitress told us it didn't represent a saving if we went with the a la carte menu so pretty much refused to explain what we would get with this. She was a grumpy madam I must say. 

The menu was, shall we say short, and things called chicken satay didn't even seem to have any peanut in them whatsoever. The menu was printed on that baggy sticky laminate stuff typed in a naff font. I was the only one of us that was brave and opted for something other than a burger - confit of duck with a side of vegetables. 

As the other half of a former Junior Masterchef of Great Britain apprentice, I have eaten a fair amount of good food and duck confit so I know what it should be like. I have never had duck confit so spicy it made  my eyes water, on a sloppy bed of red cabbage and cold butternut squash. The duck was dry and horrible and the vegetable were mega spicy too. 

We decided not to go for the one choice on the pudding menu of banoffee pie, as I feared it may actually have been made of cucumbers or something. 

Drinks we ridiculously expensive, with a double JD and coke costing a whopping £7.50 on a Thursday night. 

What a disappointment. We left the restaurant - no one said thank you or goodbye, they were too busy serving tables of posh people in the middle who looked like they were having a great time. I wonder if they had a different experience to us, a group of 20 somethings? Hmmmm......he only phrase that springs to mind with this restaurant is - all fur coat and no knickers.

See my other Brighton Reviews



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Friday, 5 October 2012

Why We don't Respond to Your Job Application

I don't often write about work on my blog here as it's for personal type things, and also my team read it occasionally too. But this week I've been recruiting again at work, and it has stirred up some feelings of guilt, frustration and excitement that I think are relevant for sharing. As it's my company, I'm super particular about who we employ. Getting the wrong person in a position would be crippling for a start up business - we'd waste money on their wages and waste time on their training.

 Because my business is a somewhat exciting one, and we offer entry level part time positions, have a dog and mention biscuits in our job ads, we tend to get a LOT of applications. Unfortunately, 50% of these are completely wrong, and I don't even read their CVs after their initial email approach. In fact, I only really read the CV in any detail once I've arranged an interview.

What's important to me is that the applicant is polite, pays attention to detail, puts a small amount of effort in to correct grammar and also personalises their approach.

I put a lot of love in to our job adverts, and a lot of clues about what we're looking for. So when people ignore these hints, it's annoying. They are wasting my time and theirs. 


The type of applications that don't make it past the first email opening are:

  • Hi I saw your ad and thought I'd send you my CV
That's nice. Why are you sending me your CV? Who are you? What do you want?!
  • Dear Sir/Madam, since working for XYZ Inc i have been amazing and you should employ me because i am totally great
1. Yes but you can't be bothered to use the shift key to capitalise your "I"s so you can't be that good.
2. I am in my 20s and we are a quirky company. Nobody here ever calls anyone Sir or Madam. Your formality scares me

  • Hi this role sounds great I've always been interested in giving marketing a go and I like biscuits
I'm sure our clients would love you to "give it a go" on their campaigns. How about you learn a teeny tiny bit about what we do before you let us spend 3 months training you and you then decide you'd like to be a circus trainer instead?

  • I have wrote blog articles featured in industry newsletters
Have you? They weren't hot on grammar then were they?

  • I'm a professional musician in a signed rock band which involves quite a bit of touring so I am looking at part time/ flexible to run alongside
Did you read the bit in our ad that says "This isn't just a job, it's a chance to take the first step towards a career in marketing...."? No. I didn't think so. 

  • I have great attention to detail and have enjoyed writing  throug hout  university. 
Erm.....

I also don't entertain applications from anyone who phones up first to ask for our email address. It's on our advert image, it's on our website and we can be found all over Google. Don't be lazy. 

If I'm in a good mood and decide to delve deeper (if they've bothered to attached a covering letter) don't waste my time by directing me to a blog that you haven't posted on since 2009 and a Linked in profile that you haven't bothered to fill in. That makes me think you don't really care. And annoys me. 

When I originally started the company, I had been out of work for some time and at the receiving end of many ignored and rejected applications. Because I have been there myself, and I try to treat others how I like to be treated, I used to try to respond to everyone in a friendly way and give them a diplomatic tip on improving their approach. Now I couldn't possibly reply to everyone. I'd go bonkers. I also don't have time to reply to everyone because I'm too busy answering calls from people too lazy to look up our email address or asking if they can do the role from home. 

Even worse now, I admit that I have interviewed a couple of people in the past that I have just never got back to! This makes me shudder with guilt. But I do have a business to run and unfortunately being nice to complete strangers doesn't make me money.

HLD is my inspiration - If you're email's rubbish, I'm out. 


If you make it to interview you'll fail if:

  • You are late. This makes me think you'll be late for work every day
  • You don't make eye contact. I don't trust you. What's wrong with my face?
  • You don't know anything about my company. I've spent hundreds of unpaid hours building this baby up from nothing. I want you to know who we are, what we do, how we got here and what we stand for. I want you to be a part of it, not just a cog in the wheel. 
  • You tell me your dream job is to be a water skiing instructor in Tahiti
  • You don't smile. At all. I don't want to work with you. 
  • You have grossly exaggerated on your CV and kind of admit that to me. 
Some of my current team members didn't have the best interviews with me. One poor young man spilled coffee all over his lap, another turned up 30 minutes early to complete chaos during puppy play, rip, bite chew and poo time and another stuttered and spluttered his entire way through. But there was something about them all that made me want to give them a chance. They had a little spark in their eye, they got excited when I talked about the company, they asked lots of questions and they were polite and nice. 

I know it's difficult at the moment as there are a million applicants for every job. But that's all the more reason to keep going, make each application better than your last and stand out from those that can't be bothered any more. 

If you want an interview, make sure you really, really really want the job in the first place, you spend more than 5 minutes on your application, you do your research and you only show your very best side. Otherwise stop typing/copy and pasting responses on Gumtree and go and watch Jeremy Kyle until his whiny voice forces you to learn how to win friends and influence people, and stop making us recruiters feel guilty for not replying to each and every one of you. 





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Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mighty Morphin' Gifts and Toys for 90s Boys (and girls)

So as that C word time is just around the corner, I've  been thinking about things I might like. Find Me a Gift have given me some awesome ideas in this guest post :-)

Being a kid in the 90s was great. The only problem was that because so many cool products were about it was impossible to own it all. But just because we're all older now it doesn't mean we can't enjoy the gifts that got away, or rediscover our past loves.

Megazord


Power Rangers was a smash hit in the 90s, and everyone wanted a Megazord toy. In fact I'm sure the kids who never got one are still desperate to play with the humanoid robot so it really would make a great gift. Make sure you get a model that's based on the original series though, back when they were still 'mighty morphin'.

Transformers


"Robots in Disguise!" The recent films starring Optimus Prime and co. have brought Transformers to a new audience but they were just as popular in the early 90s. If you're shopping for a true fan of the series they'll certainly appreciate the action figures as the whole franchise began with Hasbro's toy line.
If you opt to give a transformer purely as a piece of nostalgia one will do. But if you've got a feeling he might like to play (and let's face it most guys will want to) you need to get at least one Autobot and one Decepticon.

Jurassic Park Toys


You need to buy the Jungle Explorer (the one where the bonnet rips off) and a selection of dinosaurs. A raptor is a must!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Action Figures


As a test ask your fella who Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello were. If he answers renaissance painters move to the next product. But if without thinking he shouts "Heroes in a half-shell, TURTLE POWER!" then these are the gift for him.
If you can only afford one go for Michelangelo, who was most peoples favourite. I mean if there's anything in the world that's cooler than a nunchuk wielding turtle who loves to party and eat pizza I'd very much like to see it.

Playstation



If you can't see your child of the 90s sitting down and playing with turtles and dinosaurs opt for a Playstation instead. Someone you know is bound to have one lurking at the back of a cupboard, so the console probably won't cost you a penny. This means you can spend your money on copies of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Final Fantasy to create the ultimate gift for a 90s kid.

Game Boy Colour



The Game Boy Colour wasn't released until 1998, so it's best for guys who were still young towards the end of the 90s. Saying that I challenge anyone to play Pokemon Red or Blue for 10 minutes and not want to carry on for the rest of the day.


When he's not cuddling his Megazord Barry McGregor works as a copywriter for the online gifts specialists Find Me A Gift.

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