"Think nice thoughts"

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 20 December 2012 21:23 0 comments
For some reason, I haven't been sleeping well lately and have been waking in the night having had nasty nightmares quite regularly. This used to happen quite a lot when I was younger, and as soon as I wake from one now I always hear my mum's voice telling me to 'think nice thoughts' - it's what she always used to say to calm me down. Then I'd reply, brat that I was, that I couldn't think of any nice thoughts, so she'd tell me to think of the beach. That usually did it. 

These days I can picture Ibiza's beaches (rather than Brighton where I grew up, which is rather pebbly) but I also have a few extras to help me unwind in case my stupid thought process goes 'Ooh, a beach. Ooh, the sea. Oh crap, a huge wave. Uhoh, I can't swim. Yeah, I'm going to drown. Bugger.' Seriously, it happens. 

So, should you be having nightmares too (the idea of a big fat man in a red suit coming down your chimney might be too much to handle) or if you simply need to chill out, here are my latest ways of doing as my mum tells me to... 

Musical prozac
I've written about this before in my post on how to cheer yourself up, but music really is the best pick-me-up. I'd even go so far as to say it's better than chocolate. I can't live without Spotify and have lots of playlists to choose from, from Musical Prozac collaborated by myself and Emma Cossey, to my Just Chilling list which may not be particularly cool (actually, neither is the other one unless you're a 90s kid) but it works a treat for making me relax. 

Pic from Guardian, Fiona Hanson/PA


I've also just created a Spice Girls one after seeing Viva Forever - you can't be sad around them. Fact. 

Read a decent book
It doesn't have to be funny or soft romance - I find whatever book I'm into will help me snap out of post-nightmare restlessness because what better way to escape your dream world and real world than to read about another one? 



At the moment I'm reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which certainly isn't heart-warming but it is so gripping that once I'm reading it I can barely remember my own name never mind what I was dreaming about. 

Light a candle
But be careful with the matches, obviously. I've recently rediscovered just how much I like scented candles - whether it's my working life and experience in spa and beauty products taking over my brain or simply the memory of a teenage bedroom surrounded by them, there's something comforting and seemingly indulgent about lighting an aromatherapy candle and sitting back to enjoy it. 



You can get so many soothing concoctions and I've barely started building up my collection again (damn those teenage 'it's not cool anymore' clear outs) but at the moment I'm enjoying one from Yankee Candle. I love the Lotus Flower and Sea Salt aromatherapy spa one to add a really gentle scent to the air. Though I do wish they'd do one that smells like freshly baked cakes... that would definitely perk me up and remind me of home. 


Disclosure: Candle was sent to me by their PR.



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Fun websites you need to know about

Posted by Judy Johnson On Tuesday, 27 November 2012 21:08 0 comments
Isn't the web great? You can shop on it, date on it, talk on it... who knows what you'll be able to do next. Eat on it? Sleep on it? 

Who cares, because there is plenty more to keep us entertained pretty much forever. Here's a little round up of websites that I forget about easily, but shouldn't because they are just so brilliant it hurts. Or maybe I am just easily pleased...

Gizoogle
Because why would yo ass wanna read normal English when yo ass can have phat English?
http://gizoogle.net/

Intellisult
If you're going to insult someone, do it properly. 
http://intellisult.com/

Emergency compliment
Because everyone deserves a compliment, at least once a day. Or just keep clicking until you feel better, because your hair really does look great today.
http://emergencycompliment.com/

Fuck I'm in my 20s
If you are in your twenties, or at least remember them well, you'll 'relate'. 
http://fuckiminmy20s.tumblr.com/

Oatmeal
Everyone knows this one, but it's always good to remember their best bits. Their recent comic on working online is my favourite. 
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things

Draw a stickman
Who doesn't want to create their own man? Draw one and see him come to life. 
http://www.drawastickman.com/

Any others I should know about?
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Dating sites: are they worth it?

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 25 November 2012 15:03 0 comments
You've got mail! So pay up...
It's no secret (unfortunately) that I've been giving the online dating thing a go since the summer. I can't say it's been all that successful but I haven't let that stop me from browsing. It's a bit like shopping, only you have to buy before you try - and you don't get a refund if it doesn't fit. 

After being on one site for a while and enjoying it but wondering if 'my type' is out there on a different money-making love machine, I took a look around at some other sites. I have to say I was surprised and disappointed, so much so that I thought I'd share the pros and cons...

Guardian Soulmates
I read the Guardian. I like the Guardian. So I thought that maybe, my Mr Right likes the Guardian too and is lurking in their mini dating site. Whether or not he is, their site is pretty brilliant. Setting up a profile is easy, and you can browse first without signing up if you're as indecisive as I am. 

The best bit though? You can see who's viewed your profile and read your messages without paying a penny. Because why on earth would you want to pay if you have no idea if the people interested in you are people you're interested in? You can even send little automated messages like 'Tell me more' or 'I'm not subscribed yet' if you don't want to pay but don't want to leave them hanging. Such good manners. 

Match
Oh Match, your annoying adverts almost got me. After a few vinos I signed up, without really realising that's what I was doing, to this maze of a site to see if maybe my ideal man was hiding in there. I'm sorry, but this site is the most annoying site to ever be made and I really should have seen the signs given their awful advertising which makes me want to poke myself in the eye. 

The profile details take ages to fill in, even if it is mostly multiple choice - but where's the fun in that anyway? You can even search for men by the trait they've given themselves like 'confident' or 'sociable' - I really don't see value in that at all. Most infuriating though, is that you cannot click on who's 'winked' at you (I've always said, I hate a winker) or see your messages, or even who has viewed your profile, without paying. And it's not particularly cheap. How does anyone find romance this way? Not wanting to wind up broke, I declined, hoped that none of the winkers or viewers were my dream man and deleted it (which took about a dozen clicks). 

Plenty of Fish
Ah, the free one. If you haven't heard of this site, where have you been? Getting married or something, probably. The free dating site is just as you would expect a free one to be. It's fairly easy to use, the profile pages are pretty simple and it has a lot of members. Before I get too cynical, I do know of a few people who have actually got a relationship out of it - so it can't be all bad - but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of frogs to be avoided first. 

I don't know if this works the other way, men seeking women, but all I can say is of the unluckier ones I know who use the site, there have been plenty of cases of photos being sent over. Of naughty bits. It's fair to say the men on this site are pretty forward. Which is funny, because given that it's free, they've got all the time in the world to find their perfect match...

Each to their own of course - I've also heard OK Cupid is worth a go and I'm sure eHarmony sees very little sexting or whatever the online equivalent is. There's also newer site Doing Something, Zoosk (again with the annoying adverts) and My Single Friend which I tried once and gave up on, despite thinking it was a decent setup. 

I think I'll go back to my gut instinct and stick with the site I liked in the first place before all the dating nonsense started...

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New girl

Posted by Judy Johnson On Saturday, 24 November 2012 10:00 1 comments
Remember back in April when I said I wanted to do less talking, and more 'doing'? Well, since then I've done a lot of both. The talking, though, has been with great friends who have advised me, listened to me and generally inspired me (I know how cheesey that sounds, sorry) to get back on track. 

I've got mates who try to tell me that running is easy once you know how (jury is still out on that one but I will give it a go), ones who tell me not to compare myself to others - something that's all too easy in this industry - which is definitely worth listening to, and mates who have been there when I felt like just giving up on the dream. 

One such friend once said to me that life is a balance of three things; your home life, your personal life and your work life. Since that optimistic post earlier this year, it's fair to say then that my whole life has been turned upside down and shaken about like a little snow globe. 

In just the past three months, I have moved house (the most stressful move I have ever experienced; and that includes the one when my parents lost their house), I have got back into dating (and mostly failed, but still it's good to try), I have been to my first funeral to say a very sad goodbye to my wondeful nan, and I have left my job at Wahanda, where I've been the last four years. I feel pretty shaken up if truth be told (damn you anxiety) but it also feels like the dust - or glitter, gotta love a metaphor - is finally settling and it's time for a new start. 

As of next week I'll be working for a fabulously stylish new site called Get the Gloss, where I'll be production editor and, of course, the new girl. I haven't been the new girl since this time four years ago when I started at Wahanda, and it wasn't half as scary because I was an intern so I couldn't massively break anything or be rubbish because I was just there to learn. But learn I did, and now it's time to take everything I've absorbed and go and use it over at GTG to help build an amazing resource for expert beauty. And I can't wait.

So, since that little post seven months ago, I've taken Emma's advice and made things happen to make myself happy. I finally live by a tube so I don't curse Southeastern Trains on a daily basis, I have (almost) got over my nerves when it comes to dating, and I've taken my next step on the career ladder towards being what I want to be. I think that's quite enough for 2012...



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Nailing the textured look

Posted by Judy Johnson On Friday, 23 November 2012 16:43 0 comments
Yesterday I spotted Jane (British Beauty Blogger) tweeting about a new 'leather' nail polish and, given my slight addiction to nail news, was planning on getting my mitts on some pretty quick and blogging about them. 

But it seems leather isn't the only new texture to get excited about - we've had crackle, we've had velvet, we've had caviar, and now the textured trend is continuing with some even more wearable and fun looks. Here's what's coming up this December...

Leather






The leather look I mentioned is by Nails Inc, and I have to say I can't wait to give it a go despite preferring that super-gloss feeling that you usually get from painting your nails (especially with gel effect manicures... I can't get enough of them). 

Check out Jane's post complete with photos here - I'll be looking out for this one next month!









Rubber
Image from Illamasqua

This shouldn't work on paper, but I can't wait to try it - Illamasqua have launched a range of Rubber Brights, which are exactly as they sound; gorgeous bright polishes with a rubber finish. I imagine that means they'll attract dust and goodness knows what else no end, but we have to suffer for our beauty right? 

Apparently they're inspired by the rubber boot girls of Berlin in the 1920s... now Mr Ashman my history teacher certainly didn't tell us about these but a bit of Googling told me these are ladies of the night (cough) who wore colour coded boots based on their specialities. Interesting source of inspiration! These are available from December. 

Concrete

Yes, because who doesn't want their nails to resemble the pavement? I'm not so sure about this one. Nails Inc (again) have been busy and created a concrete-effect polish with a 'rugged, concrete finish'. 

Having had dry nails since the dawning of time and forever catching little 'catches' on my nails on various things, I'm not convinced this will feel nice unless it's a very very smooth concrete. I like the look of the bold shades though so we'll see. Also available from December. 



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My makeup must-haves: 2012

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 22 November 2012 20:56 0 comments
I was trying to decide on my favourite beauty product earlier, and found myself torn between the best mascara in the world and my ultimate moisturiser which I consider a high achiever given that I have incredibly sensitive skin. So for inspiration I stumbled across a post from 2009 on my makeup heroes - the products I just can't live without. It surprised me that a few have changed, so I thought I'd do an update. Well, in a few years time I might need to look back after all...

I still swear by the Urban Decay Primer, Bourjois Stretch Eyeshadow (which I now buy on eBay as it seems to be missing from the counters), 17 Concealer Stick and L'Oreal Khaki eyeshadow - but here are my new makeup bag regulars:

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation - This product converted me into a foundation wearer. I only wear it for my 'best' days or evenings out, but this super smooth gel foundation sinks into skin to give a natural glow that doesn't look like thick makeup. The coverage isn't flawless, but I top up with concealer and it's perfect. Check out my full review here.

MaxFactor Masterpiece Max Mascara - I've moved on from False Lash Effect (though I still have it as a back up for extra length) because Masterpiece Max suits my lashes so much better. It gives the same fluttery length as the Falsh Lash Effect but it also adds volume and I find it looks darker or glossier somehow. I can't leave the house without it.


Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer - Much like the foundation from the same range, this concealer is a face-saver. It's ideal for undereye circles but also covers redness and imperfections too. I find it blends really well, with no dryness (though I do always moisturise beforehand).

Avéne Micellar Lotion - It's no secret that I bloody love the Avéne range. I can't live without their moisturisers and though this isn't makeup you can't have  makeup without something to remove it, right? This clear and gentle cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin and leaves it feeling so very soft and clean that it's convinced me to ditch the face wipes (most nights, anyway). 

Rimmel Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner & GOSH Long Lasting Eyeliner Pen - Liquid eyeliners are my weakness when it comes to beauty loyalty. I still love the L'Oreal one but the product runs out far too fast for my liking. The Rimmel liner is incredible for a really glossy, dense black line with precision; it travels with me in my handbag-makeup-bag everywhere I go and is ideal for top ups. The GOSH eyeliner is a dream to apply and lasts a long time (oh look, hence the name) so I'm sold on both.

What makeup products can you not live without? Do you have some that have stood the test of time like I do?
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Book review: One Day

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 1 October 2012 23:10 0 comments
I don't get to read as much as I'd like to thanks to hectic London life, so aside from the sun, sea and sangria, one of the things I looked forward to most about my holiday was starting and finishing a book or two.

The first book of choice was One Day by David Nicholls, and having not seen the film (part hate for Anne Hathaway, part knowing I wanted to read it first) and after hearing plenty about it, I was intrigued - I generally avoid books that have a lot of hype but am a sucker for a good love story. Plus everybody on the tube had read it, so I had some catching up to do.

It wasn't quite as I expected - I thought it was a romantic story of a should-be couple meeting up on the anniversary of their first date, but instead it looked at where they were on that date each year whether they were together or not. The book spans 20 years, from 1988 when they meet as students to the present day.

I'd seen plenty of comments about it not being a 'traditional romance' so I wasn't expecting the usual chick-lit, but at first I found it very hard to like either of the characters. I found Em difficult rather than endearing, and Dex arrogant in the way that isn't attractive, making it tricky to care about either of them. But their lack of likeability makes them all the more real, which I assume the author was going for - this is no Disney tale of the perfect man and the perfect woman falling in love.

Both lead characters (and the people that surround them) are flawed, but through working on their imperfections they grow up together, apart, and together again. It felt incredibly genuine. While a lot of books tend to be a bit saucy or funny for dramatic effect, One Day had a real edge to it, largely I think because of the structure. Each installment in the life of Em and Dex was intriguing, but just as you turn the page to find out what happens next a year has passed and their lives have changed and intertwined, in ways which aren't always revealed in great detail.

I imagine it suits both men and women, another plus that puts it above your traditional chick-lit; Londoners might enjoy it for its depictions of the city and how the two live in such contrasting situations (Dex's snobbery at her pokey flat was particularly authentic). 

I did have one big issue with it, though; the twist seemed unnecessary. I know a lot of people whinge about twists if it involves something happening that they would prefer not to happen, but for me it felt a bit like a desperate attempt at making the book 'shock' readers (and creep up the bestsellers lists in the process). Maybe I'm just too cynical?

What I liked most about the story, though, was the writing (engaging and not soppy despite dealing with emotion) and the fact that I could really relate to the relationship. It was like taking a sidestep, looking at a past relationship and seeing it for all its flaws, greatness and sadness in one. 

I always like a story that teaches me a little something, and Nicholls definitely gave me something to think about - love is not perfect, for one thing; and for another, don't ever imagine Anne Hathaway when picturing a character. It ruins it. 

Have you read it? What did you think?

P.S. I watched the film after and it was much better than expected. But the book definitely wins.
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Wahanda launches online bookings

Posted by Judy Johnson On 22:02 0 comments
Yes, this is a bit self-promotional. But it's also a bit awesome, so do keep reading. 

Over the past few months I've been talking about a launch which we've been working on at Wahanda, which is the biggest we've ever done in the four years I've been there (time flies). Bigger even than MobDeals...

For years, our brilliant team has built a platform full of thousands of offers, reviews, listings of spas and salons and, in my little area, a fantastic community full of blogs and expertise. But until now, everything worked on vouchers - you could buy your spa day, spa break or manicure, getting an instant eVoucher to your inbox. It was then up to you to contact the venue (we give you the details obviously) and book yourself in within the voucher validity period.

Well pop the champagne and get out your diary because it's all change. Wahanda has now launched an online booking system which means you can see what appointments are available and book in your time and date in just a few clicks. How amazing? I know. Clever bunch.

You still get the great offers, handy reviews and fabulous content - plus more relevant emails and the option to pick a voucher if you want a deal but aren't sure when you want to go. Basically, we just got more awesome. No more requesting a Hollywood wax on the phone in front of your colleagues!

Do check it out, use JJ21 for an extra £5 off (don't say I never give you anything) and let me know what you think. Happy booking...
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Ibiza 2012 - 7 days of smiles

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 24 September 2012 23:52 0 comments
As we all know (don't we?), Ibiza is my happy place. It's my favourite place in the world, apart from perhaps bed after a long day, and my parents' sofa assuming they're there and making the tea. I went for my third time this summer, and since I posted last year about my 2011 Ibiza fun I felt it only right that I do the same this year.

Ushuaia

This year was a spur of the moment booking, which I made for the day after I got back from Hideout Festival in Croatia. And I'm so glad I took the leap, did the selfish thing and booked myself the 7 days on the lovely White Isle. 

I'd never taken a holiday longer than a week before, and with Croatia rolling into this trip I felt all kinds of reckless. Croatia wasn't what I expected this time round; too hot, too crowded, too full of people doing things they shouldn't and thinking they were cool because they were so out of it they wouldn't remember anything the next day. Not exactly my kind of festival (Lovebox is a million times better).

But rather than be disappointed at a wasted holiday, I could look forward to sun, sea and parties with a group of girls who are, quite frankly, brilliant. We jetted off to Ibiza on a massive high, with wine on the plane (my first time drinking in the air; we cleaned them all out. Sorry easyjet.) and directions to our low budget, all inclusive hotel - Piscis Park. 



The hotel

A word about Piscis Park. It's not the Hilton. Do not expect a polished bathroom, a beautiful sea view (though you might if you're lucky) or fellow residents who won't scream and shout at 6am when you've just got home and want to sleep. 

Yes, it's a bit noisy. Yes, the buffet is all kinds of weird and not suitable for vegetarians unless you can survive on cheese and potatoes. Yes, the 'all inclusive bar' is a bit crap if you want wine (the wine is bad) and the choice of sandwiches is ham and cheese, or cheese and ham. But for £400 for flights and accommodation all in, that's no surprise. It had air con, it had beds, it had food, and was right by the Egg which meant we could walk everywhere - so we were happy. And that's all I'm saying, other than lock your suitcase or get a safe...

F*** Me I'm Famous, David Guetta at Ushuaia


The beach

Now, I'm not a beach person in general, but on this holiday I could finally enjoy it thanks to my total lack of prickly heat, great friends who didn't make me feel like a whale every time I bared some pale skin and a gorgeous, secluded beach called Cala Gracio. If you've ever been to Ibiza you'll know that reps will plague you on the main beaches, trying to sell you stuff - all well and good, but sometimes you just want to rest your weary head under an umbrella and snooze in the sun. 

Cala Gracio is a stunning beach up in the San Antonio area of town - we took a quick taxi from by the egg (where our hotel was) but it's a nice walk too if you have the energy. The restaurant there is brilliant - just don't eat the fruit from the guy who wanders around, it's not clean! 

The parties


Oh, the parties. As is standard in Ibiza, we didn't really have any proper 'quiet nights'. The first night involved a too-good-to-turn-down deal on alcohol in the west end, followed by dancing and more dancing... and that's pretty much how the rest of the holiday went.

During the week we saw Mark Ronson and Zane Lowe at Ibiza Rocks Hotel (amazing, completely changed my opinion of Lowe); David Guetta at the b-e-a-utiful Ushuaia (worth every cent of the 100 euros we paid - it's a five star hotel!); Hed Kandi with Lovely Laura at Es Paradis (always a perfect night); some British DJ in Eden (no idea); and plenty of bruises as we braved the dodgems after a night out (again). 

In between all that we visited my all time favourite bar, Ibiza Rocks, and did the Pukka Up boat party which yet again proved to me I am incapable of getting sunstroke when I drink in the day on holiday but was fun all the same. 



The best bit about the holiday? It really felt like a holiday. I felt happy, on top form, rested, and laughed so much about all sorts from accidentally stolen almonds to sea urchins, to the fact that cat doesn't rhyme with dog, and the sheer amount of neon we spread around the island. Guess you had to be there... and I'm so glad I was. Roll on summer 2013!



Quick tips
  • Go to Kiss My Fairy and get body painted/glittered. We got our faces done for 15 euros and loved it!
  • Make sure you do see the sunset at the sunset cafes - we saved it for our last night and it was a very fitting goodbye.
  • Get the bus from the airport if you know your way around the island or roughly where you're going. SO much cheaper!
 

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Things I've learned from online dating

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 18 July 2012 22:34 1 comments
This is the ad that made me join a different site
Yes, I'm giving it a second chance. Last time I went online I basically hid from anyone who said hello and deemed them all to be nutters, quickly closing my profile as soon as someone asked me out. Let's just say I wasn't ready. 

This time, I'm actually starting to enjoy it, and might even have a date lined up - no promises - but the best bit so far has been the funny stuff. I'm not going to be too mean about profiles (I'm sure mine's terrible), but I have learned a thing or two from the few odd messages and people I have come across, so I thought they were worth sharing. I'm helpful like that...

1. Lots of men either a) don't know how old they are b) could really do with some hair dye and Botox or c) lie about their age. There is no way a 30 year old can look that old, surely?

2. There is such a thing as a bat charity. Who knew? There might even be more than one. All I know is that a man works there. He looks scary and messages girls who aren't interested (me). We shall call him Batman. Not so much a Black Knight in shining armour as a daylight-dodging creep.

3. There are a lot of single men out there who think that being active and going skiing once a year makes them adventurous and cultured. They even try to make their usernames sound adventurous, like ActiveJoe or MountainBoy.

4. The same men think that sitting down is bad and boring, even if it involves watching a good film or reading. If they're not sliding around on snow, or skateboarding, or running a marathon, they're not even living. Us indoor types should be ashamed. 

5. Some men can't read, and so even if you specifically say that height is important, they will still email you despite being five inches shorter than you.

6. Men often have one message that they copy and paste to different girls (yes, this actually happened - Facebook reveals all). It is generally a bit of a creepy one.

7. Men, for their profile picture, either put one of a) looking to the left/upwards in a thoughtful, super cool manner b) pulling a goofy face that is in no way flattering or c) one that could easily be a passport photo (and we all know those never look good). They then add gallery pictures which look like a completely different person, usually in a group of friends or with a pretty girl who you instantly think is their (hopefully ex) girlfriend. Cynic, me?

8. Men only want to meet confident, pretty, outgoing, super positive glass-half-full girls. Therefore they will probably wind up disappointed, because this is the real world and you can't smile 24/7, it gives you jaw-ache. 

9. It is a bloody small world. No matter how wide, or how narrow, you cast your little net, there is a very good chance someone from your hometown will message you, or you'll browse and discover someone you know from Twitter. Hopefully by accident though, otherwise that's just creepy (and a total waste of money). 

10. Online dating is just like offline dating. There's game playing, a sudden lack of interest for no apparent reason when you're mid-conversation and you'll always get chatted up by the odd weirdo. 

Still, I'm really quite enjoying it.

Men, are women just as bad when it comes to dating profiles? Anyone had any odd messages lately?  Tell me I'm not alone...
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Review: Lovebox 2012

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 21 June 2012 13:30 1 comments
Moustaches not optional
So you may know that I lost my UK festival virginity last year with Brighton's Shakedown - which, looking back, knowing that it only lasted one day, mostly poured with rain and ended quite promptly, I now see as a warm up to my festival of choice this summer: Lovebox. 

The event

Lovebox is a three day festival in London, set in Victoria Park (close to Mile End station in East London). I'd always noticed the posters before and always been impressed with the lineup - so this year I finally decided to go. 

The best bit about it is that there's no camping involved - a thirty minute tube journey there and back each day meant I could have a decent sleep in my own bed, a much-needed shower, and pack a more sensible bag with each new day (it took me until day three to learn to charge my phone and bring tissues). 

The event is really well organised. I got my all-important wristband in the post about a week before, headed there after work on Friday and went straight in, save for a quick bag check. It's a huge place, and it was busy (especially on Saturday, the bigger day of the three) but there were enough toilets, staff and stages to make it an enjoyable experience. 

The food is impressive - Mexican, vegetarian, burgers, fish and chips, pie and mash and plenty more were on offer as well as bars selling not-too-overpriced drinks (£4.50 for a glass of wine - that's London for you) which didn't get too crowded. 

The music 

Obviously, the lineup was the highlight. During my two and a half days, I saw: Stooshe, Maverick Sabre, Emeli Sande, Chaka Kan, Rita Ora, Friendly Fires, Sam Sparro, Hot Chip, Crystal Castles, The Rapture, a load of DJs I don't know and the brilliant, show-stoppingly awesome Groove Armada - who returned for their tenth birthday and absolutely made my Saturday. 

There was also a brilliant little tent by the main food area which played some irresistible dance music (yes, like that Peter Kay sketch where you dance as you walk, like an absolute moron); we also paid £2 to go into a 'hotel' disco which was very small and crowded, full of half naked and mostly gay men and had a stage that was home to a lot of drag queens who put on a great show. 



Rain or shine

Of course, the make or break moment for a festival is when the heavens open and all mud breaks loose. The weatherman told us we were going to drown in a month's worth of rainfall in one weekend, but what actually happened was there was one shower on Saturday night which didn't touch us since we were so close to the stage, and instead I wound up with two sunburned shoulders. 

My low expectations meant that having two dry days was like having Christmas twice - I was so happy that we could just get on and enjoy it without feeling soggy, I did that stupidly British thing of commenting on it way too many times each day, then 'touching wood' to be sure I didn't jinx it. Mock me all you like, but it worked...

The Friday night was fun, Saturday was hectic but the most memorable of the weekend, and Sunday was wonderfully chilled out. It's so easy to get to the front of the crowds without feeling claustrophobic (I panic otherwise) and I caught up on new music, heard bands I'd never have known about and danced the night away until Sunday when my legs finally gave in post-Chaka Kan. I can't wait to go back again next year!

My top ten tips for surviving Lovebox (or any) festival:

  • Take tissues and hand gel. Expect the worst in the toilets!
  • Use the gents for shorter queues on all days except Sunday which was very gay-friendly
  • Don't trust the weatherman. Check in the morning each day 
  • Wear a good pair of boots (wellies weren't needed given lack of rain) that you don't care too much about - and don't wear stilettos for goodness' sake. We witnessed this!
  • Take something waterproof/warm for when the weather misbehaves
  • Be sneaky. I squeezed a mini bottle of wine into the inside of my umbrella and smuggled it in!
  • Wear sunscreen (see shoulder comment). You're outside all day - that's all the reason you need
  • Take cash with you - the cashpoints charge and Mile End doesn't have many between the station and the park
  • Be prepared to see a lot of festival 'mean girls' - you know, the ones who think they know 'festival chic' but actually look like they stepped out of a Miss Selfridge catalogue. With a spray tan on the way. Don't worry, you and your poncho look cooler
  • Dry shampoo is your best friend - as are these festival beauty essentials, and yes that is a shameless plug for my own work. You're welcome!
Did you go? What did you think of it?
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Goodbye Desperate Housewives - you were never boring

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 20 June 2012 22:56 0 comments
(Yes, this contains spoilers. Please don't read if you're yet to see it.)
I've finally watched the last ever episode of Desperate Housewives. And I really, really didn't want to have to say this, but - I'm disappointed. 

With the ending and the way it was put together, I assume they're trying to say it's come full circle - Lynette and Tom back together with her as a successful businesswoman; Susan and Julie back to being single mum and single daughter (plus gorgeous MJ); Bree happily married; Gaby and Carlos still arguing but happy in their own way too. And of course, the final scene and the return of Mary Alice suggesting that plenty more antics will happen with the new generation of neighbours.

That's all fine - but the whole thing felt completely rushed. We went from seeing Gaby go off to work in a huff to her being at Renee's before the wedding, with no explanation. Plus, where was Lynette? As best friend to Renee, surely she would be in the car? 

The wedding itself wasn't even shown (gutted - I love Renee), and the reception was only worth a watch for the speech from Lynette and the tango talk from Carlos - a wedding is an opportunity for so much drama and it just wasn't there. 

Loose ends were left - really, would Lynette and Tom move their daughter all the way to NYC? It didn't look like she was with them. And does Porter not want to see his child anymore? 

Then there was Karen's story. As someone who has been there since the very beginning and involved in all of the characters' lives somehow, I thought Mrs McCluskey's ending was nowhere near good enough. She was full of great one-liners and was a big part of Wysteria Lane, so needed more than just a silent goodbye in a montage of nonsense. I expected to see a few memories (she and Edie were a fantastic pair), a final speech to the girls to stop being so ridiculous and a proper goodbye. It's even sadder that the actress recently died in real life; a talented woman who should have had a far better send off as her alter ego.

There were some nice touches - the ghosts were creepy, but a handy reminder of all that's gone on and allowed us to see some of our favourite characters. I didn't enjoy having Katherine back on the lane or what they had done with her character - seriously, I thought the leading ladies had learned more this season than they have before and wouldn't be so envious of all her money that quickly. I just wish they'd finished with an hour-long episode that gave us a good insight into how far they've all come, and what happens next - without fast forwarding 40 years to see granny Lynette in a park with the kids.

Aside from the disappointments, I am really going to miss my weekly fix of Desperate Housewives. It's been a brilliant drama, with incredibly insane storylines that no other show would ever get away with, but somehow it just worked. Stylish, sleek and with plenty of dark moments, TV won't be the same.

What did you think of the final installment? 
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Touche Éclat - the next generation

Posted by Judy Johnson On Saturday, 26 May 2012 10:00 0 comments

Image from YSL
Anyone who thinks diamonds are a girl's best friend clearly doesn't have any skincare woes. There are very few women in the world who haven't heard of Touche Éclat, the complexion highlighter from the iconic Yves Saint Laurent; at the height of the hype one was sold every ten seconds.

With 20 years under its belt as the skin saviour for fatigued females, the must-have pen is notorious among makeup artists and beauty lovers alike thanks to its classy yet classic gold styling and easy-to-use click and go packaging.

Bright eyes

Of course, it's what's inside that counts - and beauty fans have long been in love with the instant radiance a sweep of YSL's cult product can give them. Weary eyes? No one can tell. Dark circles? Gone in two ticks. 


The handbag essential is whipped out for a touch-up on the move everywhere I go - from my London commute to the bathrooms of even a back street bar, it's become the go-to product when it comes to glowing skin. There are plenty of copycats too - No.7 do a decent version and Barry M, L'Oreal and others have similar rivals but they just don't quite cut it. 

The next big thing


Good news, then, that the kings and queens of concealer at YSL are celebrating a brand new launch: Le Teint Touche Éclat foundation. Naturally, I can't wait to get my hands on the new phenomenon to test its glow-getting powers, especially as it'll be available in no less than 22 shades so even pale girls like me can give it a go without looking a dodgy shade of beige. 

The hottest product in town will be available exclusively at Selfridges and Brown Thomas from June 28, and then nationwide from July 9. Race you there!

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Ten films that should never, ever be remade

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 24 May 2012 22:04 5 comments
I watched the new Footloose movie last week. I sort of enjoyed it. I'm so sorry Kevin. It didn't mean anything, it's just I added it to my LoveFilm list and one thing led to another and it just sort of... happened. 

Anyway. The girl was better (I was never a fan of Ariel in the original) but the lead definitely wasn't a patch on Kevin Bacon for me - his dancing seemed too choreographed in comparison. They did a great job of casting Willard though and the music was almost as good. However, it got me thinking about all the BRILLIANT films that should never be touched - in fact no one should ever even THINK to remake them because they are. Just. Too. Awesome. Here they are, in no particular order...

Clueless

As IF you would remake Clueless! Alicia Silverstone was just too good as spoilt teenager Cher, and we still enjoy it now even though we're no longer in the 90s. If they redid it you just know the teenagers would be 90210-types that make you want to throw things.

The Bodyguard

There have been rumours of this (OK it's been confirmed. I'm in denial). Let it be known that if anyone dares recreate the beauty that is The Bodyguard, I will  definitely, most certainly* commit suicide.

Grease

I mean really. Piss off. You wouldn't remake Disney would you? Well then, leave this immaculately flawless movie well alone. John and Olivia can never be replaced.

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves

I realise this is the second film to include Kevin Costner. Yes, there's a reason for that. He's spine-tinglingly awesome and this film is timeless. Hands off, OK?

Die Hard

Keep making sequels, YES. Dare re-do it? Never. There's only one John McClane.

Dirty Dancing

Imagine the horror. Swayze would turn in his grave (or maybe just mambo erratically) if they even tried. They may as well cast a banana and a pineapple for the leads for all the chemistry anyone would have in comparison to the steamy Swayze and Grey. Or maybe a watermelon...

Crocodile Dundee

They couldn't, could they? Paul Hogan IS Crocodile Dundee. If he's not in it, the whole film is a pointless shambles about some random dude with an accent. Don't be daft, it could never be copied.

Jurassic Park

You can't beat perfection. Enough said.

Titanic

No one will ever do Kate and Leo justice. Ya hear me, Hollywood? NO ONE. They'll never let go, either, so you're better off coming up with your own heartbreaking story.

The Notebook

Even if you're a cold-hearted bloke (emphasis on the bloke), you'll understand how epic The Notebook is and why we all drool over Ryan Gosling in it. And Rachel McAdams. This one must never be toyed with. They'd have a lot of crying romantics on their hands if they tried... not pretty.

What films would you hate to see remade, or what remakes have pleasantly surprised you?

*Probably not, though.



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Cybher 2012 - blogging tips and lessons learned

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 13 May 2012 00:01 8 comments
Being a geek really is a bit cool these days. No, really. Did Glee teach you nothing? Other than how not to mime, that is. Anyway, being a stationery-loving, web-savvy, bloggerati type is actually the in-thing in my world, and so some great women decided to throw a special event for other women who blog, to celebrate all things geek and chic - and so, Cybher was born.

As I said in my 'meet and greet' post, my ticket to the all day event was courtesy of the lovely Emma Cossey who won free passes through The High Tea Cast. I have to say, venue-wise this was the best event I've been to - held at 8 Northumberland Avenue, just off Trafalgar Square, it had the right amount of space, great staff and gorgeous decor, and it's easy to get to for Londoners and out of towners alike. Plus the lights were pink in the main corridor we started in. Awesome, no?

The good stuff
Without sounding like a total freebie slut, I have to say the goodies at the event really were fantastic and quite the highlight for me (other than the fab people obviously, which I'll share more about below). A leather satchel - we could choose the colour, so naturally I went for neon pink - greeted us all as we registered and I think everyone was suitably impressed; it really was a nice touch considering the audience. Of course, it was filled with stationery which never fails to please me, and then we went through to downstairs for a quick drinks reception where various stalls were set up. 

The ones I took a quick look at were Freya's lingerie (gorgeous, but usual spin of 'you're wearing the wrong size bra' - actually, pretty sure I'm not, but glad they were offering measuring) and Palmer's, the well-known cocoa butter brand who actually have a huge range of products - I had no idea! They gave away a very generous goody bag - again, not bragging, just think it really was brilliant and very much worth a mention (I'll blog the products later).

The geek stuff

You can see a full list of the Cybher schedule here. I found the start quite interesting as I prefer panel-style talks, and they covered the neverending debate of sponsored posts, general thoughts on being a blogger and working with PRs. Of all the talks we attended, I found A Thrifty Mrs most inspiring, as it was useful info, it all made sense but wasn't necessarily stuff I already knew, and it was good to know the journey of her blog and its development. Wow that sounds cheesy, but it's true.

I also enjoyed the Ask a Blogger session at the end of the day with Big Fashionista and co because there were plenty of laughs, and thought that Zoe, of Girl With a One Track Mind fame, was fantastically honest about her terrible experiences of the media - I didn't know the whole back story and having followed her tweets for a long time, now think even more of her for it.

Anyhoo, I've put together a few of the tips and learnings that I took away from the day:

  • Now that Picnik has left us (booo. It's how I used to create Polaroid-stylee images), Picmonkey is an even better replacement. Ok, this tip technically came from Emma, but hey she'll probably be on the Cybher panel in years to come so I think it's allowed. I used it for this post and love it.
  • Not everyone can blog well. I was so pleased to hear this from Aigua lady Jess who pointed out what a lot of bloggers don't like to hear: you need to be able to write, and you need good content. Sure, anyone can set up a blog but quality is important.
  • Even in this day and age, a woman can't be completely open about sex without being called names or losing respect. @GirlOneTrack's talk was really shocking in that sense and showed, I think, that you can never really be anonymous online.
  • Be careful how you word your 'competitions'. A 'competition' requires some kind of skill to enter; a 'prize draw' or 'giveaway' is more likely to be what you're doing, where people just leave a comment etc.
  • You can get fined for not disclosing that a post is sponsored. Plus bloggers might dislike you a bit if you're not open - honesty is the best policy!
  • The general feeling (and mine too) on sponsored posts was that it's each to their own - surely it depends on your blog style. If you only ever write personal posts about your life, I wouldn't expect a random sponsored beauty post - it's fine if you do (we all need to eat, and it's your site!) but to keep your blog's identity or 'brand' intact you might prefer to set up a new one for more generic content. I think it's unfair to condemn those who hope to make money out of blogging - so long as that's not the main reason for doing it (that would be a shame I think, given the community feeling behind blogging) then why not make it a success? I'd love to afford to blog for a living, and I know plenty who do.
  • Point out that a subscription to your blog is 'free' - people associate the word subscription with paying (as for magazines etc).
  • Set Google alerts for the topics you like to write about so you can stay on top of them and be newsworthy - I hadn't thought of doing this but it's so obvious!
  • To be cool, you must have an iPad. I mean really, I stood out like a sore thumb without one.
The got-to-do stuff

I wanted another word that began with G, couldn't think of one, sorry. So, some of the talks went right over my head as I felt like they were a bit too much about common sense rather than inspiration, but others got me thinking. There was a lot of talk about  having a niche, and being an authority on the subject you blog about. That's a problem for me, as you can probably see that I like to write about different things from week to week - I cover health and beauty, film, TV, media, personal life, dating and lifestyle - and I can't choose between them.

I also know that I want to move from Blogger to Wordpress. Everyone agreed that it was better, cleaner and simpler (and far less bug-gy). Once I've worked out where I want the site to go content-wise, I'll be shifting it over - a painful process but hopefully worth it in the end...

Oh, and buy an iPad. Seriously. 

So, big thanks to Cybher for an interesting event - and to Emma for taking me along! Here are a few Twitter names of the people I met/listened to on the day, I highly recommend you follow them: SallyToddPR, JessOSOYOU, GailDoggett, SOTMario, AThriftyMrsUK, BigFashionista, JoanneMallon, Rosalilium_, TheHighTeaCast, PoppyD, GirlOneTrack. Also, follow the #Cybher hashtag for more.

What do you think on the above topics - should I choose a niche? Is doing sponsored posts selling out? Were you there and did you love or hate it?


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A little less conversation...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Friday, 27 April 2012 10:00 2 comments
...a little more action puh-lease. This year, I decided, is all about doing stuff. It sounds simple but it's not something I'm used to. I have a habit, partly learned from my wonderful parents, of talking about all the things I'd like to do. All the things that will happen in the future 'one day'. But then the future comes and I'm not sure why I haven't done them yet...

I tend to rely on other people to help me make things happen; I'd rather experience something with a friend than on my own, whether it's a holiday, or a film, or a walk or an evening class, so I try to arrange with them - but if it falls through I drop it rather than doing it by myself. And what happens? I wind up disappointed and missing out.

I'm not saying I'm not independent - among my friends I think I'm one of the most independent in that I'll go to places on my own, I don't need babysitting on a night bus to get somewhere and will happily trek across London alone at 4am (sorry mum, don't worry!) and I like to have plenty of my own company. But when it comes to the big stuff, I rarely achieve anything by myself that I can look back on and say woohoo, I did that. (And yes, I actually do say 'woohoo' in real life).

Last year I did a better job of this - I did Spanish by myself and met some great friends because of it; I put myself out there and did a bit of freelancing in the print world which, with the help of a kind and patient editor, I did without issues.

So this year I plan to do it even bigger and better. I'm planning holidays that suit me, not just everyone else. I'm working on the stuff I want to do and that I feel shapes my career, not just anything that comes my way. I'm getting fit slowly but surely, in a way that I enjoy and not how everyone else does. To be awfully cringe-inducingly cheesy, I'm making it happen... I just need to make a list of those 'its' to do...
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Blogger, journalist, writer - what's the difference?

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 25 April 2012 22:06 4 comments
When I decided to do media and journalism at uni, it was because I wanted to be a writer. I didn't feel comfortable with the word 'journalist' - somehow, it had become almost a dirty word at the time, associated with the sad stereotype of Lois Lane-esque newspaper reporters who would step over anyone to get a story.

I knew I didn't want to be that kind of journalist, and subconsciously, in my mind I was always going to be a 'writer' - less Lois Lane, more Carrie Bradshaw; maybe becoming an author later on, fingers crossed. Again, this is a stereotype, and a bit of a romanticised one, but one I felt far more at ease with. Thankfully, I was learning at a time when suddenly everything was online.

Web of writing 

Once out of uni, I could see that working in print for one of the glossies I'd grown up reading was unlikely (I couldn't just tweet the editor back then), and applying for remote online roles such as my freelance job reviewing for View London was less intimidating, more attainable, and the kind of thing I could enjoy. It was the equivalent of sending an email instead of making a phone call for me - I felt more confident about it. And so my online career began.

Online journalism has changed things, and blogging has changed them even more. There are so many blogs out there, brilliant blogs full of inspiration, great photos, niche topics, passions for anything from beauty to social media and everything in between. Anyone can set up a blog and  put their thoughts out there. Bloggers can even call themselves 'editors', because given that it's their site, they are. Anyone can be a writer, or as people tend to quip cheerfully while metaphorically stabbing you in the heart, 'everyone's a writer these days'. So where does that leave... writers?

Blogger, writer, journalist?

While it's in part a generational thing, I've found there still seems to be the general misconception that if you write online, you're a blogger, while if you write for print, you're a journalist. When I tell people I'm a journalist, they ask what paper or mag I write for; when I say I'm a writer, they look at me like I must be penniless, whiling away my time in a dark room with a typewriter and endless coffees to try and crack out a novel. If I say I'm an online journalist, I feel like I'm already putting down what I do as less important than traditional journalism - do I need to add the 'online'? Referring to 'my blog', I feel a bit like a spotty student who hasn't made it yet, but when I say 'my website', I think they must imagine a huge online magazine which isn't right either.

Labels don't matter, and I'm certainly not criticising any of the media here because I work online and offline and love it; but in an industry where it literally is not about what you know (qualifications seem to mean less and less) and so much about who you know (name a successful journalist/intern/writer who isn't on Twitter and busily networking) and what you're already doing (successful blog? You might be the next big thing), writing seems to be almost so common that it's not valued as 'journalism' anymore. The web has opened it up to everyone.

Now, there's a new generation - my generation - so full of bloggers and writers that it's hard to see who the next Charlie Brooker, Caitlin Moran or Hadley Freeman is. It's no bad thing that so many people are now writing; but I do worry that the journalism industry is getting a little lost somewhere - not helped by these 'celebrity columnists' who are actually, er, TV presenters and such and are probably taking a job that a trained journalist could do better. Are they journalists too now?

What am I? 

For me, it's not a question of fame, but of originality; my ultimate goal is for people to recognise my writing, to love my writing and to look out for it - how many people can you say that of? I follow hundreds of journalists, but only a couple spring to mind that have a real way with words that no one else has - and yes, I'm including bloggers in that. And no, I don't think I'm one of them!

Label-wise, I'm probably all of the above; I'm a journalist, which I feel more confident in saying thanks to my work in print (there I go again); I'm a blogger, because I'm here and elsewhere doing just that; I'm a writer, in that I write the odd little story (one day a novel, when real inspiration comes); and I'm a copywriter thanks to my main job because it's part editorial, part marketing.

So is there even a difference - are all online writers 'bloggers'? Are bloggers becoming journalists? Are journalists old news? What do you define them as or is a label just a label?




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The Cybher Meet and Greet

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 23 April 2012 23:50 1 comments
As further proof that a) I have awesome friends and b) the ones I've met on Twitter are extra awesome, I am very lucky to be joining the super-chic-geek Emma Cossey in my first ever trip to Cybher in a couple of weeks. 

Emma won the tickets through The High Tea Cast, and knowing that I too was a bit of an online addict, invited me along for the big day. It's basically an all-female, all-blogger geekfest where we get to listen to some talented speakers, learn something, network and say things like 'What's your Twitter handle?' and 'Ooh, nice iPad'. 

Cybher are just so obsessed with the web that they even suggest we do our little 'meet and greet' on our sites as an ice-breaker - so here's a little about me...

Name: Judy Johnson. Not Judy Jay, which I thought was a clever Twitter name which was created by spelling out the initial of my surname. Now people just think it's my actual name, but I'm happy with both. 

Blogs: Obviously I am here on my own site, which is part blog, part portfolio. I also blog every week for Dollymix, and for Wahanda as part of my day job as their Site Editor. Beauty and TV seem to be my favourite subjects but I cover anything that's lifestyle related.

Twitter ID: @judy_jay

Height: 5'10 last time I checked. I don't like to check. Probably 5'11 but that's a scary thought. 

Hair: Rubbish. Natural blonde. Should have been curly, so thank god for tongs. 

Five things you should know about me:

1. I'm 26 and it terrifies me. I'm one of those idiots who grew up thinking somehow I won't really get old, or that if I have to, The Plan will all work out and I'll be married with kids by the age of 30. Turns out I was wrong on both counts! I fully blame Disney, FYI.

2. The nineties rock my world. Boybands, Dreamphone, Clueless... what's not to love?

3. Ibiza is my second home, or so I like to think. I work hard but party hard too. 

4. I hate shoes. Which kind of kills my Carrie Bradshaw image, but hey, the money I'll save can go towards those Ibiza trips. 

5. I am quite well known for my headbands (see crap hair comment). I'm rarely seen without one and I don't think it's a phase I will ever grow out of, much like my love for green eyeshadow which has been going strong since 2002.

Thanks for e-meeting and e-greeting me and I hope to see you at Cybher!

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