Sunday, 31 May 2015

WEEKENDER: May


May has been a funny month. It's seemed longer than any other so far this year, not that it's dragged, but it seems to have lingered. Every day has been filled to the brim with something new, something different, a challenge or something to enjoy.

Despite the downs, I've loved the ups - The Tour De Yorkshire going through my hometown, breakfast in bed, finishing a tiny corner of my home, the beach on a cold sunny afternoon, winning and losing a lot of money on the horses and the simplest thing of all, wandering the streets of my favourite city and finding a new tea and cake shop to sit in for a while.

Friday, 29 May 2015

HOW TO: Look after an old cat


This year my cat turns ten. We don't know when exactly because we found her, abandoned at the end of our farm road and took her in. The vet at the time said she was a few months old so we're not sure. All I know is that we found her in the summer of 2005.

After we got her neutered, we only took her back to the vets once - she kept licking us and we thought she might have a salt deficiency or something. Turns out she didn't, she was just a licky cat. And a healthy licky cat at that. So, we never took her to the vets again. We never needed to.

Except this year, we've noticed, and the neighbours have noticed, that her back end has started swaying and her hind legs splay outwards on slippy surfaces or when she tries to stoop down to eat.

Initially, I put it down to old age and a possible strain - we've done a lot of fence work this year (as have our neighbours) so maybe she jumped funny or fell a bit farther than she thought she was going to. But over about six weeks, although sometimes she looked like she was getting better, sometimes she was getting a lot worse too. To the point of her not really being able to balance herself on her back legs and gave up just sitting there.

So I rang the vets.

The first thing the vet said once we'd got the cat out of the box was that she had no muscle on her hind legs. None to a minuscule amount. I mean, I know she was skinny, but malnutritioned? What the hell? Our other cat, George, is fine, so why shouldn't she be fine? The lady looked very worried, which made me very worried.

She said, lets do a blood test. So we agreed to a blood test. I almost cried. Almost.

We took her home, washed her (because the woman was concerned about the state of her coat - I do wash her every month anyway and was due her monthly wash), brushed her, trimmed some knots off her, fed her new wet, high protein food and worried some more.

The next day the vets rang back with the results. She was okay! Her bloods were normal. Hooray!

But there were conditions to keep her healthy.

1. Be Diet Wise
So, we normally feed our two cats Prurina Go Cat. It's good value for the amount you get and our cats love it. After a glance at the ingredient list, it has no actual protein in it whatsoever - only derivatives of. Old cats with muscle wastage need high protein to bulk up. Instantly, you'd think that the more expensive cat foods out there would be better for your cat. Not necessarily. 

Here's a breakdown of protein content versus price:

Purina One (doesn't specify whether outright protein or derivatives) 36% 800g £5
Royal Canin (Crude Protein) 27% 6kg £29
IAMS 38% (actual meat, but states in the analytical part it holds only 33%) 700g £4.49
Whiskas a minimum of 31% (Crude Protein in an Indoor Cat food) 850g £2.29
The best content I found was IAMS, however the best value I found was Whiskas. These prices were all found in Tesco (as of 7/5/15) excepting Royal Canin which was an independent online offer. 

I chose to get a small bag of IAMS Senior (to see how our cat would take to it) and use it alongside Whiskas Oh So Meaty wet pouches. I read that using only dry or wet food can be bad, so I got them both on a deal.

I also bought a load of tuna in sunflower oil. I give this to her in small amounts on days when I don't feed her the wet cat food. So, she's getting proper all-round healthy cat food, wet protein rich cat food and then a solid lump of fish which should help her coat look shiney if nothing else.

2. Exercise
We've put her a shoebox with a cushion and a blanket under the kitchen table next to the radiator. We have our heating on all year round due to my weird early morning shifts so she has a great position next to a radiator to keep chills off. I initially kept her inside to monitor her, but the vet said to chuck her outside to make sure she has some exercise to work alongside her protein intake. Much like a bodybuilder, old cats need to work hard to build up their muscle mass.

3. Medicine
In the extreme case of our cat where she has very, very little muscle to begin with, it's going to be painful. Our vets have put her on a cat-paracetamol for extreme cases of muscle wastage to help her move about and not be in pain. It cost the best part of £20 for 15ml, but it's easy to administer and it seems to make her able to move about more freely whilst exercising, so hopefully by the time we finish this bottle, she'll have more muscle to support her legs and walk about with.

My mums cat is about seventeen years old and has only recently begun losing weight. She has had her on a high protein wet and dry (with additional fish) diet for a while so even though her cat is pretty healthy on that front, it just goes to show that weight on old cats is still prone to dropping.

I hope this helps someone with an old cat. There are plenty online resources about how to look after an older cat, and many of them are on forums where there's a lot of conflicting ideas of super extreme cases. Although my cat has become a lot weaker than most, it's still a common thing amongst older cats and hopefully a reversible or at least maintainable condition.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

REVIEW: Maybeline Browdrama Brow Mascara


In an effort to up my brow game, I picked this Brow Drama up. I've used a clear brow gel for about a year and although it helped keep them in position, it didn't help my Cara D look. 

This however is a pretty good improvement. Wasn't so keen on the shades available in my local Boots (see, 'medium' or just 'noir'), but with a light touch and a good brush through before and after application, it's addition to my regime has gotten me a fair few comments - all good. I'll be trying out the lighter colour soon.

It's a definate knack to get just the right amount of product on the spoolie to then apply evenly across the brow - there's been a few times I've blotched it right on the arch and had to start over. Patience is the key here.

On days off I can easily get away with slicking this on without any pencil beneath and walking straight out the door. I haven't really experimented with layering this up on it's own yet, but on top of pencil it does just fine for more dressed up days.

Overall, an excellent addition to the makeup box.

Monday, 25 May 2015

LIFE: On being told you're wrong


I had my appraisal last month. I was dreading it. The managers and I have not been seeing eye-to-eye on several matters for months now, and I knew that this sit down would be pretty dire at best.

It was. But not for the reason I thought it would be.

See, I'd been trying to keep my head down and out of their gaze for a few weeks. Getting things ticked off the lists of Things To Do everyday. Making sure that those things were done to the best standards. No minute details missed. I'd won a couple staff incentives. I thought I was doing pretty well.

But, apparently, actually doing work isn't what going to work is about.

Eh?

I was told "You will not get promotion if you keep on doing work." Those quote marks are exact. Come again? Sorry, not sorry for getting shit done.

At first I was put out. Then I was angry. Then I was resolute.

They told me that I should change and be more like them - taking a step back from face-to-face service, delegating more, stood back, not really doing anything, but watching other people to see if they mess up. In my mind, that's being a minus 1 to the team.

I manage people in my own way. Apparently the wrong way. The way that means I work alongside people to coach them to do the best, to get the job done quickly and efficiently, to make my staff feel involved and valued. I work in the way that I would want every person who works with me to work. To be a plus 1. A zero would be okay, but a minus 1 is just nuh-uh.

"I will never do that. I will never be that person." I told them. And their mouths dropped.

I think they thought that I'd roll over for this promotion. But I won't. I'll fight. Because I'm right. Not wrong.

The feedback I get from others about me is positive, and at worst neutral. I pull my weight. I listen to other people. I help other people. I sort out problems by giving people a chance to say 'Uh, yeah that was me, sorry, I kinda did this... blah blah blah' because I know that the majority of people will never mess up again to avoid disappointing themselves or me. I want people to want to work with me, for me and around me.

And no-one inspires by being the bystander. No-one aims to be that person.

I will never be a bystander.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

FOREVER REPURCHASED: Sudocrem


I don't know about you guys, but my mum still has a massive pot of Sudocrem that I remember using when I had chicken pox at the age of six. A whopping twenty years later, testimony to its never going off, it still heals spots and helps smooth wounds even now - despite it technically going out of date in 1997.

Last year, I bought my own pot. I know, daring right? And since that time, I  have used it on everything. Spots, burns, hangnails, cracked knuckles, blisters, shaving rash, you name it. It's such a household name that many people tend to forget or just take for granted this little (or rather, this big tub of) magic product. From the tiny dent I've made in the top of it, I'll definately still be using this in twenty years time.

For me, it's value comes under the header 'priceless'.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

REVIEW: Tea Tree Skincare


The Tea Tree Skincare brand has been around for ages, but in recent years has had a packaging refresh. It's clear, simple to read and definately attracts attention.

I've been using my grapefruit moisturiser for a little while now and have really been enjoying how fresh it is on a morning. Unfortunately it's running out, so I thought I'd swap things around and try a grapefruit wash.

The Wash
This is one of the few face washes (and soaps in general) that I can use and not be partially blinded by. I wear eyeliner most days so focus my cleansing efforts around my eye area - usually resulting in sharp eye pain from product getting in there. None with this! It's super gentle on me, but not on dirt which is just as a cleanser should be. My face has never felt so soft. The fragrance is definately not very potent and it doesn't linger a moment after drying the skin, however I really like that.

The Moisturiser
This smells of (surprise, surprise) tea tree A LOT. It's not too overpowering once on the face though and the smell doesn't linger at all. It moisturises quickly and doesn't sit on the skin. It doesn't sink in so fast that I'm constantly dry faced either, but it's a good consistency and it makes my face feel nourished.

Have you tried Tea Tree Skincare before? What do you make of the brand?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

THREE THINGS: The small acheivements



I might be small and feel a bit worthless at the moment, but it doesn't mean the little things can't make me smile.

Three things that made me happy this week:
1. Reaching another milestone in my savings account
2. Listening to Tuesday, on a Tuesday
3. Feeling the burn in my abs after a workout

Sunday, 17 May 2015

LIFE: Do you have savings?


I announced to all of my facebook mentioned the other day to a couple of friends that the Lad and I have been accepted for a mortgage. This sparked the two sided financial debate that my situation has riled in almost all social scenarios.

In the red corner you have the non-savers. The believers of 'if you have it spend it.' The every weekend party-goers. The flashy new car drivers. The we've just been to Tenerife for the fourth time this year-ers.

In the black corner you have the savers. The 'lets sit in and watch xfactor' people. The 'it gets me from a to b car' drivers. The Scarborough day trippers.

When I first started really saving a portion of my wage every month, it wasn't simple. I was working two part time jobs, closely followed by me securing a third and my wage changed due to the amounts of overtime I was a) offered by each company and b) how many work hours I could fit into one day.

I started with just £50 a month. Judging by the statements, I probably only saved £30 a month after withdrawals, but I always, always put a lump sum of £50 in. And if I didn't have it in my current account then I looked at it as if was already spent, unless I really needed it. And in those days, I did.

Now, I put in £300 a month. Again, some months (especially around Christmas) I probably only save £100, but I've put the effort in to make sure that I budget efficiently. It wasn't that efficient, but I don't beat myself up. I still saved £100.

Sometimes, I push myself and put in £500. Those months are nothing months - no birthdays, no days out, no holidays. I literally do nothing and spend nothing.

As I begin to earn more, I'll rise the amount I put in. I think, financial advisors say to save between 10% and 20% of your earnings each month as it's a realistic sum. Like training to run marathons working by the time not the distance. If that works for you, then do it! I'm a distance girl, I like to see the figures and see how much I can raise them by in one go. It works for me.

If you're wanting to save, try it. Open an online account and transfer some money in. Set up a standing order (there are really helpful How To's all over the internet). It's surprising how easy it is to forget about it through the months and before you know it, you're a saver and you're now sitting in the black corner!

NOTE: I researched this topic and many websites used the 'saving for retirement' title. At first I bypassed them, but after reading a few, they're very true and very eye opening. I'm saving for a goal of a house, but what happens after the house? A wedding? Babies? All further costs - so how am I going to juggle these financial issues? Before or after I land in the shit? Hmm. Well worth a think about.

Friday, 15 May 2015

REVIEW: Naked Shampoo


I find that whenever I use a silicone free shampoo my hair feels softer and falls over my shoulders more gently than when I use a typical volumising shampoo and I end up having a blonde 'fro. I've never heard of this brand, nor ever seen it on the shelves before, but I'm very happy with the results.

Due to my hyperthyroidism, my hair has been falling out and turned dull. I've been blasting it with all sorts, but nope, nothing has worked. This perked it up instantly though. It's scented, but not too overpoweringly so and once I've used it I can't smell it - however lads at work have commented on it.

It's an effort to lather, but it cleans very well. I need to use quite a large blob to clean all of my hair - it's down to the middle of my shoulder blades at the minute.This particular one creates a silky finish. I love that it's 97% natural. 

I actually used this to wash my cat - it has a lot of long winded named ingredients, but the majority that I researched appear in hypoallergenic cat shampoos anyway and she looks great!

Overall, a superb product and one that I'm sure I'll return to using once I finish this bottle.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

LIFE: To Austerity in the UK


I voted. As did many other people last week in the UK. I did not vote Conservative. I'm saddened that they're the UK leaders and that they will represent our country and speak out for us for the next five years. I'm sorry that the beloved NHS will become a closed shop and cost me money in the future to visit. I'm puzzled as to why with so much bitching over the last five years, they're in power again.

But, I'm also saddened that people who similarly voted against them have reacted in the way they have. A protest march? Violence? Defacing World War memorials?

What?!

Firstly, the protest itself. Every single person had the opportunity to vote. Every single UK citizen. And if they voted, then good. It's not very British or sportsmanlike to then get all pissy when your team don't win. I'm sad, but if other people voted for them, then they have a right to be in power. I don't agree with the system, but that's something that we have to work on persuading them to change. They are the ones who have the power to change that. 

The violence. There is never any cause or reason that violence is the answer to. It appalls me that someone would think that hurting someone else would make others respect their opinion more. I want people to take me and my views and my opinion seriously - whomever took it upon themselves to take the violence route have lessened the respect from the other side. Noone will take someone having a paddy seriously. We're all adults and we all voted. Now, shut up and sod off if you have nothing good or positive to say or do.

Defacing other peoples property. The fact it was a war memorial - crikey mate, really? I'm just speechless.

There are always things in life that are not going to go the way you want them to, but it's the way you deal with those things that make the outcomes better for everyone. Like I said, we now have to work together to make our country better for everyone in it, not against each other.

Monday, 11 May 2015

REVIEW: Rimmel Nail Polish

From left to right: Pillow Talk, Glaston-berry, Breakfast in Bed

I've been on the lookout for a coral-ly red colour for a while. I'd love to fork out for a classic Essie colour, but I'm too tight for that. Instead I found this Rita Ora colour whilst browsing Boots the other day. Glaston-berry is a lovely bright tinted red. I wouldn't say it has too much of an orange tint, but the shade is great for boosting a tan. It's also amazing as a one coat wonder.

Breakfast in Bed is a gorgeous mint green and I was excited to try it out. However, Pillow Talk was the one for me that I didn't really want, but for the price I took the risk. In the bottle, both have a slight golden shimmer, which isn't my cup of tea, but once on the nail they look matte unless you're really close up. The super shine is obviously the shimmer and it works really well to give a nice glossy finish.

For just under £2 each I expected to have to put two coats on, which I did, however the Rita Ora colour took me by surprise by going on super opaque in just one. Winner!

Now, although I've linked to Boots there, I got them all for a £1 cheaper each in Savers. It all adds up!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

HOW TO: Hatch a chick


This isn't a normal post for this blog, however after worrying about these little creatures hatching over 72 hours and finding quite a bit of conflicting advice on the internet, I thought I'd write what happened to us first time brooders and how we dealt with the issues that came up, hopefully helping other people learn from our mistakes.

In April, the Lad came back from work with a six pack of little white eggs. I was like, wtf? He said: I've just traded these fertilised eggs for two bottles of homebrew.

I've three things to point out here:
1. He has never done anything like this before.
2. One of our hens, Bruce, spends half the year broody so we already had somewhere to heat and look after the eggs.
3. My family have owned chickens most of my life, hatched several broods and, like most people in the world, I'm very partial to a cute chick.

So we shoved these eggs under Bruce and waited. Chickens reproduce like clockwork - it's as though a little timer goes off on Day 21 and hey presto, you got yourself a baby chicken. Even though Day 21 is usual, it's also not uncommon for chicks to hatch before or after that and still be healthy.

Day 21 came and I found a dead chick still in it's smashed egg. Turns out, our other hen hates hatching chicks - who knew? - so we separated the hens by putting Nugget (our second hen) into one of our recycling boxes in the kitchen on a night and closing the coop door on Bruce during the day.

Day 22 and we get another chick, this time alive! I name it Pip and go to work. When I come back, Pip is cold dead at the other side of the run. She squeezed through a tiny gap in the doorway of the coop, fell out and stumbled about before, we assume, getting super cold and dying. I hate myself for not making sure the door was closed fully. But, to stop any more mishaps, we swap the hens, bringing Bruce and the remaining four eggs inside in the recycling box and putting Nugget in the coop.

Early Day 23. I wake up to two chicks alive and well under Bruce. Both cheeping their tits off. We candle (by shining my iphone torch directly up to the edge of the eggs) the last two eggs. One isn't fertilised, the other looks to have a chick bundled up into one half of the egg. It's moving about and chirping, but doesn't appear to have 'internally pipped' (when the chick bursts through it's internal membrane before 'externally pipping' through the actual shell).

Day 23, it pips externally! Excitement all round.

Later in Day 23, the chick is cheeping away, but not moving very much and the pip hole isn't very big.

Much later in day 23. 
The other two chicks are fluffy and moving around outside the comfort of Bruce's shelter. She's started showing them how to peck at food and they've started pooing. Even though chicks survive off the yolk of their eggs for a few days before eating, I assume that once they start pooing, they'll need external nourishment to replace the initial yolk absorbtion.

Much, much later on Day 23.
The pip hole in the third is still the same and the chick seems completely jeffed. I pull little pieces of shell off around the pip hole to make it bigger, but the chick doesn't do much. I take it out from under Bruce every half hour for a couple hours, but still nothing. So, we decide (after reading online articles/forums) to peel a bit more shell off. The membrane at this point is pretty crusty round the pip hole. After pulling a reasonably large chunk of shell around the tiny beak off, there's quite a bit of blood on the inside of the shell, but after comparing it to the empty shells of the other two chicks, not too much to make us unduly concerned. We watched the chick push its way out the remaining cocoon of shell and see that it's attached by a weird thread of blood to the inside of the shell. I was going to put it back under Bruce, but as I moved, the chick went for it and shoved the egg off and away from itself completely. It left this weird tiny clump of red on it's arse. I was pretty worried now because chickens love to peck at red. Red nail polish, red coloured food, blood. Whatever, they lurve pecking at red. So we took a gamble and put it back under Bruce, sans egg. It was chirping away quite happily so I reckoned that if it started being brutalised, I'd hear about it soon enough. After 30 minutes I went back, picked it up and it looked exactly like the other two had just after hatching and the red arse had disappeared leaving a nice clean pink arse.

Early Day 24. 
All chicks are fluffy, gorgeous, chirping verrrry loudly and stumbling about all over the place.The last chick is a lot weaker than the other two, but seeing as the first was born over 24 hours before this one, I reckon that it's just playing catch up at the moment.

Day 24.
I begin to present the chicks with wet chick mash. Bruce loves it as she's not been drinking very much these past few days and the moisture seems to be agreeing with her belly (cue, weird digestion noises). All the chicks are way more active, regularly coming out from under Bruce to stagger about the confines of the recycling box. We had them out of the box, whilst we cleaned the old shells and changed the sawdust out, but Bruce seemed a bit concerned with all the s p a c e around her so we popped them back in pretty quick.

Late Day 24.
We thoroughly clean the coop out, dusting it with mite powder and putting a thick layer of sawdust down on top. Technically, chicks and mite powder don't mix, so we leave them inside in the recycle box to let the powder in the coop settle down.

Day 28.
We moved the chicks out into the coop (and fixed the door so none can get out without supervision). Due to magpies being spotted around the area, we've made a cage, of sorts, to put over Bruce and the chicks whilst they're outside to protect them from potential overhead attacks. The run itself is secure so none of the chicks can escape, but there's usually no overhead cover. Bruce doesn't particularly like it, but it's keeping her bambinos safe so until they get bigger, she'll have to put up with it.

Day 30 and all three chicks are doing really, really well. All of them are eating and although the youngest is always falling behind the other two, she's on a par with how the others developed the day before. Every single day they do something new or I spot something different about them - a tail! a feather! no more baby beak! It's crazy and I love it.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

LIFE: Go Vote


Since I was 18, I have voted every single time I've been given a ballot paper - even if I haven't had a clue what I've been voting for. One time, I'd even bathed and got into bed before realising it was voting day and shot out to the polling station in my jimjams. 

The majority of people I know have said they won't be bothering to vote this time. This is an ultimate travesty.

It's an important matter. You might not think so at first glance, but it is.

Things it affects include:
School funding
Hospitals and GP practices
Perscription prices
A&E waiting times
Class sizes
Road improvements
Street lights
Litter pickers
Energy prices
VAT
Jobs- quantity available and quality ie. labour are to cap the zero hour contracts to 12 weeks.
Immigration
EU policies
Environmental funding
Car tax
Mortgages and finance

I don't know about you, but several of those points affect me. And whether you're still in school, a twenty something or a parent, or even a pensioner, I'll bet some of them affect you too.

I'm not wholely competent about the exact policies of each party, but I'm aware of each of the main points (those election debates were very, very informative) of the parties and can differentiate between them all (not the Liberals though, what do they do again?), but About My Vote is also a really helpful resource to help you make your minds up.

So this is a plea, me begging, me imploring you to go and vote today!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

READ: #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22


The first of a great quartet and series of tales.  A childhood classic for me, although after rereading, I believe the whole quartet makes Earthsea the best, not just the first book as a standalone. Ged is a gifted young wizard who gets a tad too big for his boots. This is the story of him learning how to be humble.

I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't this. Extremely well written from an eight year olds perspective, it was interesting to hear about black segregation and how the majority of people felt it was unjust - especially the juxtaposition between the poor white families and the well reputed black families.

A little short ghost story that I didn't 'get' at the end of. Was it him? Did they come back? Who's eyes were they?! I liked the old writing style, despite being a short book it was super descriptive and set the scene beautifully.

Rest In Peace, Terry. I don't think I've read this before even though I bought it a decade ago. Really well worded, a great plot and quite action packed. A stupid power man mad accidentally releases a dragon into the city and a group of unlikely policemen step up to save the day. A genius example of Pratchetts work.

Similar to To Kill a Mockingbird, but newer and this time set in Finland and instead of blacks, it's foreigners. It reminded me of watching Michael Palin in Around the World in Eighty Days and returning to London after travelling around really hard-done to places, but being treated like a welcomed guest in literally every place he visited, and then being turned away by the first English person he met. Humanity comes into question. It makes you think about the last time you saw someone sat in a box at the side of the pavement. Where did they come from? Where are they going?

Another childhood classic and a ghost story. A nice, understandable one though thats clearly explained at the end. A great lunchtime read.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

REVIEW: Botanics Radiance Balm All Bright


I got a Boots voucher. Ohhh deaarr.

I used it to get this, so my bank balance wasn't too damaged. Botanics items are, thankfully, affordable. With summer on the way I'm trying to back off the heavy concealer/foundation/BB cream combination and focus on creating a great looking skin base.

This works to minimise visible signs of fatigue and create an instant pick-me-up effect. It's basically a creamy-pinky-shimmery formula that creates a light reflecting base to complement other illuminating products. You could, if you wanted to, wear this alone, however that'd probably be a holiday type option rather than a typical UK work day option. Your skin would have to already be flawless. I love this alongside a heavy (I know, I know) concealer to cover precise blemishes, leaving the rest of my skin bare - except for this and my moisturiser.

I found this is my go-to product for Sunday's and Tesco shopping evenings when I don't want to wear too much on my face. It's definately a perky product and I'm glad it's found it's way into my makeup bag.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Hello May


Finally! Blossom! Proper blossom, and blooms and fresh green growth, on growth, on growth! This month is my favourite (alongside June), the early summer months where daylight drags my sorry arse off the sofa and outside. That and I have two weeks off work, hooray!
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