That Time I Chatted to the Outlander Cast

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post letting you guys know how excited I was that Outlander was finally making its way over here to the UK, courtesy of Amazon Instant Video. Well - last night I finally sat down and watched the first episode, and it did not disappoint!!

I know I might be a tiny bit biased, but this has to be one of the most visually stunning shows I've seen in a very long time. I have a lot of love for the part of the world where this is filmed (which I've mentioned in many previous posts, and which will become important later in this post), but my emotional attachment aside, the Scottish landscape just looks so beautiful. It isn't just the gorgeous backdrop that makes this so lovely to look at though. Everything about the way this show is filmed is just beautiful - the lighting, the costumes, the camera movements - I actually had to pause it at one point to screen shot a couple of moments that just took my breath away... observe...

I don't want to give too much away, but in the first episode we meet Claire (Caitriona Balfe), our leading lady who finds herself transported back in time from 1945 to 1743. There is an amazing magical feel to this first episode, which is right up my street, and we are introduced to a number of main characters over the course of the episode, including Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan. It grips your attention instantly, and I'm very much looking forward to watching episode two!

This post, however, is not just a rave review of the first episode, but a little anecdote to fill you all in on something that happened last week! Picture the scene - I'm sitting at my desk, editing a video, when an email pings into my inbox inviting me to participate in a blogger conference call with two of the Outlander cast members! Cue much excitement/preparation of my question.

The chance to chat to Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe was an amazing opportunity, and honestly, they were just lovely. A number of bloggers took part, and so there was only time for one question each. As a Scottish blogger/vlogger, talking to the cast of a show located in Scotland, I had one very obvious question in my mind - I wanted to know how they had enjoyed the experience of filming up North in the beautiful Highlands.

Before we continue, there are two things you should know about me - one, I have phone fear. This is something I think I'll write a whole post on at some point, as I know it is something which is more common than you would imagine! Sit me in front of a camera and I'll chat as if I'm talking to my oldest friend. Send me into a face to face meeting or interview with a stranger, and I keep my cool. Put me on the phone, and for whatever reason, the nerves just take hold. Secondly, I believe in being enthusiastic about things in life. So if I like something, I really like it, and there's no holding back.

Anyway, let's get back to it. I sat listening to the other participants on the call asking their questions, and Sam and Caitriona giving some really great answers. They discussed whether the love scenes or fight scenes take longer to choreograph (love scenes, being the answer to that one), how they would explain Outlander to someone who hasn't watched it before - "a really great adventure, filled with historical drama, romance and fantasy" (Caitriona Balfe) and how it feels to be bringing the show home to the UK now that it's available on Amazon Instant Video.

And then it was my turn. The person before me had asked a question relating to Scotland, and so I had a nice straightforward transition into mine. I asked how they enjoyed the experience of filming up in the Highlands, and the following exchange took place:

Caitriona Balfe: Oh, it was amazing. I mean we moved the whole company up there, near Aviemore-

Lynsey: Oh, that's literally - I'm not joking, that's literally like my home from home, it's my favourite place in the world!!

That's right folks. I fangirled all over her answer. And not in "hi, I'm a huge fan of your show" style fangirling - I fangirled over a town in the Highlands. The transcript of the call does not do justice to the squeal of excitement I gave at the mention of Aviemore.

While I tried to block out the past ten seconds of my life, Caitriona and Sam gave this lovely answer to my question:

Caitriona Balfe: Yeah, it’s so beautiful. And we shot up there for almost two weeks and it was, honestly, such a special time. And for the most part the weather was very kind to us when we were up there; cold, but sunny and clear. But yeah, that’s been one of the greatest things about this job for me is really getting to explore Scotland and see how beautiful it is first hand. But I feel really great that we’re able to, sort of, bring that to a wider audience as well and show Scotland off in its best light.

Sam Heughan: Yeah. I really enjoyed going up to Kinloch Rannoch, which we shot a few times – that’s where the standing stones are – and it’s just terrific every time we go up, isn’t it? And it feels like a little family outing; everyone gets to go out and all the crew stay in the same hotels. Yeah, it’s really good fun.

Putting aside my moment of fangirling, it was amazing to hear these actors talk about the show firsthand. It's clear that they are incredibly passionate about their characters. One of my favourite moments in the call was when Caitriona and Sam gave these answers to a question from Ginger Wiseman, from Outlander Podcast. She asked what the most rewarding part of playing these characters was, and they said:

Caitriona Balfe: Wow, the most rewarding part of playing her? I think it’s honestly seeing how much this character has touched so many people’s lives. As an actor you hope that you get chance to play great characters and this definitely is one, and it has been such a dream playing her. But the unexpected side effects of that are seeing all of these women across the world who have been really touched by having the book in their lives or, they’ve met each other through the friendships that they’ve sparked over the books, and seeing them get together and really support each other, that’s been really amazing.

Sam Heughan: I think Jamie Fraser is – it’s certainly the bit about Scotland that’s been a joy to be able to, sort of, bring the culture of Scotland –an authentic one too, sort of, probably for the first time – to film and TV, and share it with the rest of the world, I think is one of my proudest moments.

So thank you so much to Sam and Caitriona for taking the time to answer our questions and giving us a bit of real insight into what it has been like working on the show, and thanks so much to Amazon Instant Video for inviting me to take part!

Outlander is available on Amazon Instant Video now! Have you been watching? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

How to Make a YouTube End Card!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Hello all, and happy Monday!

Today I thought I'd do a post on something I loved finding out how to do, and that is make a YouTube end card. You know the clip at the end of a YouTube video with the clickable links to subscribe or watch another video? In my early days of YouTube I hadn't the faintest idea how to go about this, so when I got more serious about my channel, I decided it was something I needed to teach myself! This particular post talks you through the process on iMovie, because that's what I use to edit my videos - I'm not sure how much the process differs on other editing suites, but I'm sure somewhere out there someone will have made a post on that!

So, you've reached the end of your video, said your goodbyes, and you're ready to make your end card...

STEP 1: Insert either a "Title" clip, or a Picture.

If you want to keep things basic, just insert a title clip, the way you would if you were popping a title at the start of your video. This way, you can either leave it blank, or insert a bit of text to say "subscribe" or "my last video" - whatever it is you want to link your viewers to!

If you want to make it a little fancier, pop into photoshop or paint, or even a website like Picmonkey, and create a little endcard image for yourself - this is a bit more fun! You can then include whatever you like in it - I have a subscribe button, icons showing all the social platforms I use (twitter, instagram, bloglovin, etc!) and a bit of text to indicate that they might like my last video too! Leave enough blank space on the image that you can insert your video clip.

To insert it as an image, make sure you import your end card into iPhoto - that's where iMovie sources images from! Just click the little camera icon, select your image and drag it onto your project!

STEP 2: Insert Clip

Once you have inserted that into your project, select the bit of footage you want to add on to the end card! That might be a clip of a related video (if it's a haul, you might want to link back to your last haul), or maybe just your last upload! I usually aim for a clip that lasts ten to fifteen seconds.

Drag the clip on top of the end card image - iMovie will then ask what you want to insert it as. At this point, choose "Picture in Picture".

The clip will then appear on your end card - drag it into place, and resize it to fit.

STEP 3: Export your video and Upload to YouTube

Now you're ready to export and upload your video as usual!

STEP 4: Edit Annotations

Once your video has uploaded, select the "Annotations" button from the editing bar under your video. Skip to your end card, and click on the "Spotlight" option from the "Add Annotation" dropdown menu.

A transparent box will then appear on your video. Drag this box over the clip you have inserted, or the "subscribe" button you have included.

Click the little box beside the word link, and YouTube will bring up a box to let you choose what you're going to be linking to. This has options which include video, channel, subscribe, Google+ Profile, and playlist.

Click on the relevant word and insert the relevant link - if you're linking to the subscribe button on your channel, link to your channel, or insert the address of whatever video you're sending them to!

You can insert multiple spotlight links, so repeat this process as many times as you need to.

Be sure to click save and apply changes.

And you're done! You've made a perfect end card to keep your viewers watching your content!

I really hope that was useful for some of you - I know I was certainly thrilled when I learnt how to do it!

Thanks so much for reading guys, and hope you have a great Monday! Be sure to send this link to any vloggers/YouTubers you know who might find it useful :)

Insta-Life Update #3

Friday, 27 March 2015

After yesterday's My Favourite Instagram Accounts post, I realised it's been a ridiculously long time since I did one of my insta-life update posts! So I decided that's what I'd do today.

Instagram is just the nicest (and quickest!) way of capturing a moment. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I definitely think it makes you appreciate the little things more. I wish I'd done one of these posts back at Christmas time - I went on an instagram binge in December, because everything just looked so lovely all decked out in Christmas lights and festive decorations. Alas, I did not, so we'll have to make do with a few snaps from February/March!

Top row L-R - Rory, Radley, Ice Cream
Middle row L-R - Shopping, Dylan Moran, Quotes
Bottom row L-R - Harvey Nics, Catch Ups, Movie Night

Back in February we got a new hamster - his name is Rory and he is a mad little ball of fur who is constantly entertaining us. He started off seriously timid, and he still occasionally jumps at his own shadow for no apparent reason, but he has also mastered climbing the wallpaper and curtains, like an intrepid explorer. This means you really can't take your eye off him for a minute, but he's so cute he can get away with anything.

Roisin and I went along to an event at the Radley store in Edinburgh, which was lovely - my post on that has been totally delayed, but look out for a full post on that soon! The handbags were absolutely beautiful. We then met a few of our lovely Edinburgh blogger pals for dinner and a catch up, which is always fun.

This is a random one, but this photo proved to be far more popular than I had expected! I took a snap of this Cadburys Marvellous Creations Fairground Candy Crunch Ice Cream, and people seemed to be very excited about it. It is absolutely delicious, by the way.

I went for a browse in New Look a couple of weeks ago and they had so many lovely things I wanted to buy!! Sadly I had to think about my bank balance and went home empty handed, but I did instagram this snap of me in one of the dresses I really liked, and people were very, very nice about it. I'm not one for posting any sort of fashion related photos, I don't do OOTDs or anything, but I can't lie - I definitely got a wee ego boost on this occasion, so thank you to the lovely people who left lovely comments!

Emma and I went to see Dylan Moran last week in the Clyde Auditorium and he was just as funny as he always is. He is my favourite comedian. Black Books is one my favourite TV shows of all time, and I have a boxset of his stand up shows which I dig out any time I need a good laugh. I'd only seen him live once before, so it was a total joy to get to experience his amazing humour in person again. We laughed till we cried: my personal favourite bits included the line "there are only four ages of human - child, failure, old and dead", and his reading of his own version of Fifty Shades of Grey. It was genius.

I've still been keeping up with my Sunday night quotes as a little bit of inspiration for the start of the week :) I'm so pleased I've kept this up.

Roisin and I went along to Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh for a beauty event a couple of weeks ago, which was all very lovely and sophisticated! We sipped lots of bubbly, lusted after too many bronze/neutral eyeshadows and I went home with a gorgeous MAC eyeliner, which I showed in this beauty haul over on my channel!

Nikki and I FINALLY caught up for dinner on Saturday! Having not seen each other since December, this was well overdue, so we spent a good few hours eating, drinking and catching up on all the gossip which had accumulated in the space of three months! I do love a catch up with that girl!

And finally, Emma and I had a wee movie night last night - I was desperate to watch Hitchcock's Rope, which I hadn't seen in ages! I love this film, I really do! If you like creepy, suspenseful films, and haven't seen this, check it out as soon as possible! It is based on a true story, which always blows my mind, about two college students who try to execute the perfect murder. They believe themselves to be intellectually superior to others, and think this means they can get away with whatever they want. It is SO GOOD.

So those were just a few highlights from the past few weeks! What have you been getting up to lately? :)

Thanks for reading!

My Favourite Instagram Accounts | March 2015

Thursday, 26 March 2015

If you're subscribed to my YouTube channel, you might have seen that last weekend, I uploaded a Top 5 Current YouTubers video! I had so much fun filming that video, and it always feels good to give a shout out to some of the people who produce content you really enjoy. It's what I love most about Twitter - I feel like it has brought together such a nice blogging community, and gives us a place to let people know when we're loving what they're doing!

So I decided that in addition to the Top 5 YouTubers, I'd do a couple of other current favourites posts, and this one is dedicated to Instagram! This is by no means an exclusive list, but these are some of the people who, lately, have been making me want to raise my insta-game, and who I'm forever pressing that little heart "like" button for

The Lunar Lights

First up is my gorgeous pal Nikki. Nikki's instagram is the place of dreams. A beautiful stream of pastel perfection, with photos of the cute things she decorates her home with, the lovely things she wears, her favourite beauty products and everything in between. What Nikki continues to create is a really seamless, easy on the eye page with some really lovely images. I could scroll through her instagram feed all day - it's just so soothing!!

Miss West End Girl

Another Scottish blogger who has a beautiful instagram is the lovely Lynsay from Miss West End Girl. Her instagram is like a little burst of sunshine on my feed - so many gorgeous pops of colour that instantly catch your eye! Lynsay posts such a fun, varied lot of photos that it really feels like you're being invited along on her adventures. With fashion, beauty, food and fun lifestyle posts, I just love scrolling through her colourful little world!

A Lady in London

I've mentioned before that I'm absolutely in love with A Lady in London's beautiful travel blog, and her instagram provides me with a daily hit of wanderlust! As she travels the world she uploads beautiful photos, from amazing city architecture to beautiful lakes and mountains - if travel instagrams are your thing, and you haven't checked hers out yet, you are missing out!

Being Erica

Erica's instagram is a favourite for reasons quite similar to my love for Miss West End Girl's - it's a lovely mixture of travel adventures, outfit of the days, bold lipstick choices, and snaps of London. There's something really nice and consistent about Erica's instagram - rarely a day goes by that we don't get to see what she's picked out of her amazing wardrobe to wear and she documents so many fun trips and weekends away that there's a steady stream of lovely new photos appearing every week!


And finally, we have the lovely Kate from gh0stparties. Much like Nikki's, opening Kate's instagram is like stepping into a lovely, soothing world, where everything is soft and pretty and pastel, and you just want to jump into it. Her posts are a mix of beauty products, outfit and face of the day shots, home décor, and of course, her lovely cat, Mouse.

You can follow my own instagram over at @lynseymac1, and leave me a link to yours - I'd love to check it out!

Who are some of your favourite instagrammers?

Thanks for reading!

Pretty Little Liars - "The Big A Reveal" Reaction/Discussion!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Evening all! This post is spoiler free but the video, obviously, is not!

If you caught yesterday's post, you'll know I was more excited about the Pretty Little Liars Season 5 finale than would be deemed healthy.

ANYWAY, I stayed up until quarter past two this morning waiting in vain for it to appear on Netflix. Eventually, I gave up and went to sleep, and got up bright and early today to watch it with my breakfast. I also live-vlogged my reaction, something I'd been planning to do for weeks!

To my dismay, my camera didn't co-operate and the live reaction footage is out of focus *cries*. So, far less of the actual reaction is included in the video than I had planned, but I have a good old perfectly focused (in terms of the camera, not my thought process) chat about it once the episode is over. I don't know about you, but I'm already horrified at the thought of having to wait until the end of summer to find out what happens next!!

I LOVE filming these - Emma and I did an X-Factor live vlog in October and it was so much fun. I'm definitely going to do more "reacting to" videos in the future, and with a properly focused camera too!! Honestly - the gasping, the talking to the TV, the hands covering my face - none of that is for the camera. This is how I respond to television. My dad recently asked if I was talking to myself when he walked past the living room - which, if you don't consider Spencer and Emily to be real people, I was. Anyway, more videos like this coming soon, and let me know in the comments what you thought of the episode!

Thanks for reading and watching!! :)

Pretty Little Liars - What I've Learnt from Binge-Watching 5 Seasons (SPOILERS)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tonight, my friends, is a very important night. Finally, after 120 episodes of intrigue, it seems that we are going to discover the identity of A - the man/woman/thing/team responsible for torturing our favourite Rosewood girls for five whole seasons. Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna have been well and truly through the mill, and we've been along for the ride. So, in honour of the big "A" reveal, I decided to put together a little post talking through my experience of watching the show, and the thoughts that popped into my head along the way.

My PLL viewing experience has been my most extreme example of binge-watching. I have consumed all five seasons in less than two months, which, quite frankly, should be shocking. The thing is, though, it actually isn't shocking at all. I've seen on twitter that lots of other people have been doing exactly the same thing since the show hit UK Netflix back in January. It is absolutely addictive viewing, and no matter how many times you tell yourself "I should go to sleep", there always seems to be time for one more episode. The need to find out who A is is just too overpowering!

This post is full to the brim of spoilers by the way. Spoilers spanning every season!! So, if you haven't watched the show and you click that little read more button, don't say I didn't warn you!

Monday Playlist #1 - An Imaginary Romcom

Monday, 23 March 2015

Happy Monday everyone! How was your weekend? Good, I hope!

Let's get down to business, shall we? I have a confession to make. I am a serial soundtrack creator.

Despite never having ACTUALLY got around to writing a screenplay for any of the many films I have in my head, one thing that I am good at is choosing songs that would fit really well with any I might eventually write. I think music is such an important part of any film or television show. It can completely change how we feel about a particular moment, turning something happy into something sinister, or vice versa - I think this video over on Huffington Post, which shows what happens when you swap one TV show theme song with another really showcases this!

So today, I thought I'd share with you my current romantic movie playlist. This is for an upcoming film I have plotted out, starring myself and Julian Morris, on an adventure in New York. That makes it sound much more predictable than it is - it is actually full of intrigue, but I don't want to give too much away. That might spoil it for you when it eventually opens in cinemas a couple of years from now ;)

Aside from all that, I hope you find some songs on here to brighten up your Monday, whether you've heard of them before or not. I know music always makes a big difference to my day, so I thought if I started doing the odd playlist on a Monday it might be a nice way to kick start the week!

George Ezra - Cassy O'
Lauren Aquilina - Fools
Ingrid Michaelson - Home
Matthew Perryman Jones - Out of Reach
The 1975 - Robbers
Kodaline - After the Fall
Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods
LIGHTS - Last Thing on Your Mind
Ellie Goulding - Explosions
Alex G - Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran cover)

I've put links to each song on the name, but I also made this into a secret playlist over on YouTube, which you can listen to from start to finish here :)

Thanks so much for reading guys! Let me know in the comments below what your ultimate movie soundtrack songs are!

Reviewing YouTube's "The Creators" Documentary

Friday, 20 March 2015

In the past couple of years, YouTube as a platform has changed a lot. YouTubers have become celebrities, with followings of up to and above seven million, appearing on red carpets and television shows. It's a whole different world to the one I first fell in to five or six years ago now. So when I saw a trailer for the YouTube documentary "The Creators", featuring Zoella, TomSka and NikinSammy, I knew instantly it was something I wanted to watch.

Quick sidenote, before we get started - I've been watching videos and subscribing to channels on YouTube for about six years now. I then started my own channel three years ago, but only started posting regularly about eighteen months ago! I fell in love with the community in the early days, and the first channels I really engaged with were Michelle Phan, Kandee Johnson, Pixiwoo, Fleur de Force and Louise from Sprinkle of Glitter. I loved the interactiveness of YouTube, and the ability to comment to let someone know you enjoyed what they had made. To this day, I still check my YouTube subscription box daily, but I feel like I have managed to streamline the videos I watch - I used to subscribe to new channels constantly, whereas now, I'm a little more selective. The type of content I watch has also shifted, and I find myself favouring vlogs and chatty videos more than the tutorials and hauls I originally watched regularly.

But enough about me, and back to the documentary at hand. This 30minute film was produced by Anomaly London and funded by YouTube, directed by Oscar-nominee Nanette Burstein, and spends time with the faces behind three of Britain's most high profile YouTube channels - beauty and fashion vlogger Zoe "Zoella" Sugg, cartoon and sketch comedy artist Thomas "TomSka" Ridgewell, and up and coming twin brother comedy vlogging duo "NikinSammy".

In terms of the vloggers the film followed, it was an interesting selection for me. I knew one of them (Zoe) extremely well, another (Tom) fairly well, while the third, Niki and Sammy, I hadn't even heard of. I was first introduced to Zoe's videos through her friendship with Louise, and have followed along with her crazy successful journey ever since. Tom I know more from his appearances in other vloggers' videos. This documentary, however, might change that.

During the thirty minutes, the film explores the early days of these YouTuber's channels, as they discuss what made them start in the first place. It then goes on to explore the impact of their now huge fan bases, how they make money, what type of content they make and, basically, what it means to be a creator. They talk about the friends they've made through YouTube, and how their families responded to what they were doing in the earlier days. It packs quite a lot into just half an hour, which I was impressed with.

Particularly for Tom and for Zoe, the way YouTube has impacted on their lives has been incredible. When asked how YouTube had changed his life, Tom replied "YouTube is my life". Having been making content for the internet since before YouTube even existed, this has been his life for twelve years. He has over 3million subscribers, and you get the impression that he has worked really, really hard for that. He hasn't been an overnight success, or one of those YouTubers we're seeing appearing occasionally now, who seem to explode out of nowhere with half a million subscribers in the space of a few months. He has spent twelve years working away, building a community of fans who he affectionately says are "just like him". He talks about his desire to help people with his videos, and make a difference to the lives of his subscribers if he can, and it feels incredibly genuine, while at the same time, admitting that it's nearly impossible to be completely yourself in front of the camera. Despite the fact he's gone from messing around with the camera alone in his house, to having entire crews working on his content with him, he still seems like a genuinely down to earth person. A particularly interesting moment came when Tom was discussing the impact of the death of his friend and fellow YouTuber, Edd Gould of Eddsword, had not only on his life, but on his hopes for his future on YouTube.

I also just discovered Tom is a year to the day younger than me - which is actually a bit scary. Excellent birthday though!

The film also explores the intensity of living life as a high profile YouTuber - the camera follows Zoe and boyfriend Alfie going shopping, and every few yards another teenager stops them, practically hyperventilating with excitement at the prospect of getting a hug from, and a photo with, the Zoella. She talks about times she's found subscribers standing outside her house, waving at her from the street, or had letters pushed through her letterbox. Having watched videos like the footage of Alfie's London book signing, I was aware of how overwhelming that life would be - I just hadn't given as much thought to the idea that even once you are home, your privacy might still not be respected. Vloggers invite people into their lives through the camera, but the reality of that once the camera is switched off must be exhausting.

I'll be honest - it's quite clear that I am not the target viewer for NikiNSammy. However, they seemed like nice guys, who have found a formula that is working for them, and have managed to achieve success on YouTube at a time when it has become saturated with new content every hour of every day. Well done to them for that.

Overall, as a fan of YouTube, I'm glad I took the time to watch the The Creators. While I felt like I already had a pretty solid grasp on what it means to be a creator, hearing from these four was really interesting. I think they made a clever decision with the people they chose to focus on, in that they target fairly different audiences, and have been making videos for different lengths of time, making their experiences as content creators quite different.

If you're interested in the crazy phenomenon that is YouTube in 2015, then I'd definitely recommend checking out this short documentary.

What vloggers would you choose to feature in a film like this? Let me know - I always love discovering new channels to watch, so comment below with your suggestions!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

5 Reasons To Watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Thursday, 19 March 2015

If you have Netflix (or, let's face it, if you have access to a computer), you've probably seen posters for Netflix's new original show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The brainchild of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, this new comedy tells the story of Kimmy, one of four women saved from a doomsday cult, where they were trapped underground for fifteen years and told the world had ended. A teenager when she was captured, Kimmy now has to learn to get on with her life, as an adult, and chooses to do so in New York City. It's quirky and funny and utterly moreish.

Still not convinced? Here are 5 reasons to get on Netflix and check out Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!

Images from Netflix

The Theme Tune

I'm not exaggerating when I say this is one of my favourite television show theme tunes in years. In a nod to Charles Ramsay’s interview regarding the Ariel Castro kidnapping (which you can watch here), Tina Fey and her crew have created a ridiculously catchy intro for this show. I did a bit of research there, and they actually employed The Gregory Brothers (the guys behind Songify the News) to create it. I dare you not to smile while you're listening to this.

Ellie Kemper

Whether you've seen Ellie Kemper in anything before or not, you cannot help but fall in love with her here. I was already a fan from her roles in The Office and Bridesmaids, and I love that she's the star right at the forefront of this show. She's instantly likeable and funny, and I get the feeling Kimmy is going to quickly become one of my favourite female characters on TV at the moment. Despite everything she's been through, she chooses to be positive and embrace life, and despite her slightly naive perspective, she's not short of a backbone and certainly isn't going to let herself be pushed around.

The New York City backdrop

This is always a winner for me - I LOVE shows set in New York. There's just something about the buzz of the city that pulls you in, and makes everything feel that bit more exciting. I'm still determined that I'm going to get there at some point in the next few years, but watching it on screen makes the fact I haven't been yet just that bit more bearable!

Tina Fey's Writing

Tina Fey is never anything but smart and funny. I think what makes her comedy so engaging is that there are so many casual, witty observations of real life attitudes and situations - I love the mix of the slightly bizarre aspects of this show (like the auto-tuned theme song) with nods to real cultural issues (check out some of the TV news bulletin headlines during the intro to the pilot!). There are some brilliant throwaway lines that had me laughing out loud (particularly courtesy of Jane Krakowski), which makes it oh so tempting to just put on another episode. They're only 25mins long, after all...

The Positivity is Infectious

Everything about this show, from Kimmy's brightly coloured clothes, to her determination to make a life for herself in New York just radiates positivity and happiness. I've instantly fallen for the other two main characters, her wannabe musical theatre star roommate Tituss (Tituss Burgess) and her new employer, socialite Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), and I may only be a few episodes in, but this show just puts a smile on my face. It's as simple as that!

Have you been watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?! Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

Thanks for reading - have a great weekend everyone!

Wishlist Wednesday - Books on my "To Read" List!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Every now and again I get the urge to put together a little wishlist - usually at a time when I'm trying to watch my money, of course!! So I thought I might make it into a little "every now and then" feature here on Allsorts and Anecdotes. This Wednesday I'm listing the books I have my eye on at the moment, which will hopefully find their way onto my kindle/bookshelf and Goodreads list at some point soon!

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two big heroes of mine - I love strong, smart, funny women and they are two fantastic examples. So that's why I have absolutely no idea why I haven't managed to get my hands on Bossypants yet!! Having read Amy's book Yes Please (a review of which will be going up on here soon!), I'm even more determined to read Tina's book and revel in her wit!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I'm desperate to get on the bandwagon with this one - I usually try to avoid getting sucked in immediately when people get over-excited about something, and that is usually a mistake! I didn't read Gone Girl until last October, and then devoured it as quickly as possible before I went to see the film. So on this occasion I don't want to be the last to read it. It's currently about £6 on kindle, so if the price comes down a tiny bit soon I'll probably invest in it! Also, Henry Ian Cusick a.k.a love-of-my-TV-life-Desmond-Hume-from-Lost, is in the film version*, so that's an added incentive to to go to see it when it comes out!

*Update - I saw a poster and assumed this was the case. Having now looked into it, it turns out it is, in fact, a totally different film, which came out in 2013 and just happens to have the same name. GUTTED!!!

What Are Universities For? by Stefan Collini

As some of you might know from Twitter/YouTube, I recently started up a new project called The Student Switchboard (more on that coming soon too!). I loved being a student, and the entire university experience, so when I saw this book in Waterstones last week I was instantly intrigued! It's a non-fiction look at the institution of the university, and the place it holds in modern society, and although I don't know much more about it than that, I'm looking forward to reading it at some point!

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

This is another one of those books I've seen talked about here and there on the blogosphere, and an author who people seem to really love. I haven't read any of her books, but this one does sound good! A woman finds a letter in her attic written by her husband, and the envelope reads "to be opened only in the event of my death". I'm guessing she ignores that little instruction, and their lives begin to unravel when she discovers whatever it is that he has been hiding. Even just writing this paragraph makes me want to download it instantly.

Attachment by Rainbow Rowell

I finally got around to reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell last month and I absolutely loved it (you can find my review and fanfiction discussion over on my channel here!). I really enjoyed her writing style, so when I picked up Attachment on that same trip to Waterstones, I fell in love with the idea of it instantly! This book is set in 1999 (back in the days before social media took over our lives!) and follows "a lonely IT guy" who reads the email exchanges of two women who work in the same office as him (which, in theory, makes him sound creepy, but I get the impression that's not where this is going!). He falls in love with one of the women, and then finds himself in an impossible position - how does he go about introducing himself to this woman? I like the "love before first sight" idea of this book, so it's quickly making its way to the top of my to read list!

There are plenty more, but this little selection is nearest the top of my current wishlist!!

What books are currently at the top of your "to read" pile?!

Thanks for reading!

Eagerly Anticipating (TV): Outlander

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Hey everyone!

As we all know, I have what could be considered a pretty significant obsession with TV. This month I've been binging on Pretty Little Liars, but once I get caught up on the 24th, with the big A reveal, I'm going to have a massive Rosewood shaped hole in my life! So when the lovely folks at Amazon Instant Video got in touch to let me know Outlander is coming our way on the 26th March, I was excited to say the least!

A US show filmed in the Scottish Highlands (much to my delight!), Outlander tells the story of Claire, a nurse during World War II, who is thrown back in time to "an unknown world set in 1743". This alone is enough to pique my interest - anything which involves time travel or parallel universes (hello Lost, Being Erica and Once Upon a Time!) is right up my street.

From the beautiful screenshots above, it's clear that this is going to be a visually stunning show! I may be a tiny bit biased, but I honestly think the Scottish landscape is among the most beautiful in the world. The sweeping mountains and forests up north make for a gorgeous backdrop to the show, and there is something really romantic about this location. Again, I think that romance is going to be a prevalent theme in Outlander, which means I'm instantly on board!

Outlander features an all-star British cast including breakthrough stars Caitriona Balfe (Now You See Me, Escape Plan and Super 8) as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan (A Princess for Christmas) as Jamie Fraser, and is based on the best-selling books by Diana Gabaldon. While I haven't actually read the books yet, I've heard great things - I instagrammed this snap of an Outlander themed map of Scotland (which I just love!) last week, and was told immediately that I should give the books a read too! They have now been added to my ever expanding "to read" list!

With just over a week to wait, I can't wait to get stuck in to the first eight episodes of the show - which will all be available on Amazon Instant Video as of the 26th March! Then each new episode will be available to stream as of Sunday 5th April!

Are you looking forward to the TV series? Let me know if you've read the books in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Drugstore Favourites: Top 5 Under £5!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Happy Monday everyone!

Anyone who knows me knows I love a bargain. When it comes to my beauty products, if I can get my hands on something that works amazingly well for a reasonable price, I'll shout about it from the rooftops! So today I decided to dedicate an entire post to doing just that - celebrating five of my favourite high street/drugstore beauty items of late, which all come in under the £5 mark! These five products are permanent fixtures in my makeup drawer, and I hope you like them as much as I do!

Images sourced on

Batiste Dry Shampoo - Dark and Deep - £3.99

I love this stuff! As someone who really needs to wash their hair every day but tries not to, dry shampoo is a life saver on those in between days. However, if you have dark hair, I would definitely recommend investing in the colour specific one - I used to use the original white ones and found that although they did a great job on my hair, I sometimes felt I could still see traces of greyish/white powder lingering in my roots! So the dark brown version gives my hair a much needed boost, but without leaving any trace of the product.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer - £4.19

This post really wouldn't be complete without the holy grail drugstore concealer so many of us have loved for years now, would it?! I started using this product way back when Fleur de Force first mentioned it on her channel, and I've never looked back. It has amazing coverage, the lightest shade is actually light enough for my pasty Scottish skin and at just £4.19, it doesn't break the bank. I've tried other concealers, and will keep on testing out new things, but I don't think there will ever be a time this isn't in my makeup bag!

Bourjois Magic "1 Seconde" Nail Polish Remover Pot - £4.99

Before I bought the Bourjois Magic Nail Polish remover for the first time I was seriously lazy when it came to my nails. I painted them intermittently because honestly, taking it off to repaint them always seemed like a chore. Once this found its way onto my shelf, that totally changed! My nails are now rarely unpainted, because using this is so quick and easy. I made a video reviewing this here (way back before I got my proper camera!) if you fancy checking that out!

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water - £4.99

Cleansing waters are a bit hit or miss for people, but I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed using this one. It took off every bit of my makeup, including my relatively heavy eye-makeup, really quickly and easily, and didn't irritate my skin at all. I see that they have now added "Pure" and "Sensitive" versions to the collection, so if you're in the market for a new cleanser and don't have the budget for one of the higher end micellar water products, give this one a go!

Barry M Gelly High Shine Nail Paints - £3.99

I have a lot of love for Barry M in general - I find that the quality of their products for the price is amazing. The ever expanding colour range, with cute new collections released what feels like every other month, makes the brand a definite drug store favourite. However, the Gelly High Shine range is particularly impressive. These nail polishes leave you with beautiful, shiny nails, and for the darker colours in particular, the colour is opaque after just one coat. I really love the shades Sugar Apple (pictured above) and Greenberry, but the entire collection is just beautiful - Lychee is next on my "to buy" list!

So that's it for my pick of drugstore beauty bargains! What are some of your favourite budget makeup and beauty products?

Thanks for reading!

Happy 30th Birthday Neighbours!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Afternoon all!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of my beloved Neighbours - a show my mum and I have watched for longer than I can remember. So, in honour of that, I thought that today I would do a little "Top 30" post. Now, for obvious reasons, the first ten - fifteen years are not really included as much as they perhaps should be. Mainly because for the first five I wasn't born, and the next ten, I was a small child, so my memory of what was happening in Ramsay Street is somewhat hazy! But I've put together 5 favourites across 6 categories, and I hope any Neighbours fans out there enjoy it!!

I tried to do a top 5 characters, I really did, but it was just impossible - Karl and Susan, Harold, Toadie and Sonya, Sky, Donna, the entire Timmins clan, Dee, Izzy, Paul, Vanessa and Chris are definitely up there though.

And I couldn't resist including a little collage of my own trip to Erinsborough - what I wouldn't give to go back!!

Top 5 Friendships:

Lucas and Sonya, Tash and Chris, Susan and Lyn, Donna and Elle, Connor, Toadie and Stuart:

The House of Trouser was never the same without Connor, Toadie and Stuart living together! And I really loved sisterly bond that Elle and Donna developed. As for Lucas and Sonya, we all know I love when a show manages to create a totally believable platonic friendship, and there was never a hint of romance between these two (or Chris and Tash, albeit for slightly different reasons!).

Top 5 couples:

Toadie and Sonya, Karl and Susan, Paul and Izzy, Harold and Madge, Lucas and Vanessa:

I still stand by the fact that Paul and Izzy were one of the best couples ever in a soap. They were equally devious, which made them really entertaining to watch, but in the more serious, emotional moments you could tell that they actually really did love each other. And this post couldn't be complete without Karl and Susan, the ultimate Neighbours couple!!

Top 5 man crushes:

Mark Brennan, Kyle Canning, Daniel Robinson, Chris Pappas, Billy Kennedy:

Okay, so 4 of the 5 of these are current Neighbours stars, which is either because they're doing exceptionally well right now, or because when I look at ones I fancied as a teenager my tastes have somewhat changed!! What's more, I don't reeeally remember Billy all that well from Neighbours itself, but after watching Jesse Spencer in House, I've decided that had I been a bit older before he left, I'd probably have fancied Billy.

Also, let's all just take a moment to appreciate Mark Brennan...

Top 5 girl crushes:

Donna Freedman, Vanessa Villante, Beth Brennan, Naomi Canning, Dee Bliss:

While Margot Robbie takes over Hollywood, I still remember her arriving in Erinsborough stalking Ty and becoming besties with Elle Robinson. And right now, I'm loving Naomi - she's a breath of fresh air, and beautiful to boot.

And yes, okay, this is a much more recent photo of Natalie Imbruglia, so Beth didn't quite look like that, but the old pictures I found were a bit grainy. Plus, it's Natalie Imbruglia, she could wear a binbag and still look better than anyone else in the room!

Top 5 brilliantly bizarre moments:

That time Paul and Lyn got married.

That time Karl and Ned formed Oodles and Noodles.

That time Max randomly started living with another family.

That time Harold tried to kill Paul.

That time Sindi went from sweet to scary completely out of nowhere, and pushed Toadie down a flight of stairs.

Top 5 dramatic moments:

Sonya is revealed to be Callum's mum.

The plane crash.

The Lassiter's complex fire.

Who pushed Paul off the Lassiter's roof?

Libby finds out Dan is the father of Steph's baby.

Happy Birthday Neighbours!! Here's to 30 more years of entertainment from Erinborough!

You can check out my vlog from my trip to Ramsay Street here! And tell me - what/who have some of your favourite Neighbours moments, couples and characters been over the past three decades?!!

Thanks for reading!

International Women's Day 2015

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Today is International Women's Day 2015, and in honour of that, I decided to share a little list of women who I am thankful for. It's a mix of people I know, and people I wish I knew!

I'm incredibly lucky to have been born where I was born. By chance, I was born into a country where my parents were not dismayed to find they had a daughter and not a son the day I was born. Where there was never any question that I would go to school, despite the fact I'm female, and where I was encouraged to go to university. We still have a long way to go, but in comparison to other women across the globe, I am one of the fortunate ones. That's why the fight for gender equality is so important.

2014 was a really important year for feminism, and I hope 2015 proves to be even better. The more people who understand that feminism is simply about equality, the more we can all work together to make the positive changes the world needs to see.

To my mum for constantly supporting me in everything that I do, giving me my love for books and always telling me I could do or be anything I want.

To my best friend for always being there, and being my companion in my feminist debates and discussions for years.

To Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling, for being sharp, funny, confident and intelligent role models, who have never let the sexist "women aren't as funny as men" notion get in the way of their incredible success.

To my undergraduate dissertation tutor for making me realise just how important feminism is, and for boldly forcing us to question the "norms" in our society when it comes to gender and sexuality.

To Maya Angelou for your words which will continue to inspire and make a difference even now that you're gone.

To every woman who fought for our right to vote. My gratitude has never been as strong as it was during the referendum debate. The very idea that there was (and for many women worldwide, still is) a time when half the population would not be included in that discussion or decision makes my stomach churn.

To Malala Yousafzai, for putting such a spotlight on the importance of girls being educated. Education is the key to changing the world, and the fact that so many girls worldwide are denied it is unacceptable.

To Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie for using the fame they have gained through acting to make a difference, and working towards making the world a better place.

To Laci Green, for having what I think is one of the most important YouTube channels out there.

To Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood and Katniss Everdeen, for being different kinds of role models for teenage girls.

To June Eric Udorie, for this article I read this morning which left me feeling totally reinspired.

To Ruby Rose, for this incredible short film (which I think everyone should watch at some point!) challenging gender roles.

To @LetGirlsLead, @RoomtoRead, @ChaynHQ, @bcimaGIRL, @girleffect, @VitalVoices, @GDIGM, @EvrydayFeminism, @GirlUp, @GirlsNotBrides, @GirlSummit, @WOWtweetUK, @womensday, @girlrising, @HeforShe and all the other accounts out there using Twitter to spread the word on gender equality.

To HelloGiggles, for being a positive site, full of encouragement for girls across the globe.

To all the women worldwide, across every continent, who are speaking out, writing blog posts, making YouTube videos, standing up to outdated societal ideas and practices and working towards a more equal society, for men and women, every day.

There are so many more people I could have included in this post, but I'll leave it there and let you get on with your Sunday!

Happy International Women's Day!! The theme this year is #MakeItHappen, so let's make 2015 an amazing year for the fight for gender equality.

Who would you like to thank today?

Thanks for reading!

I've Been Watching #10

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Hey everyone!

While I've been uploading lots of film and tv related videos over on my channel, it's been a while since my last I've Been Watching post! So thought I would update you on what films and TV shows I've been glued to lately!


Pretty Little Liars

For years now, I've been saying that I need to get into Pretty Little Liars. As a life-long teen TV drama addict, I needed something to replace the giant Gossip Girl/Veronica Mars shaped hole in my life. I still have The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, but PLL had been on my "to watch" list since it hit the screens way back in 2010. Finally Netflix added it to their ever expanding catalogue in January, and it's safe to say I'm addicted.

I cannot stop watching this show. It gets to crazy o'clock in the morning and while my head says "go to sleep", Netflix says "continue watching" and somehow my hand manages to click yes. I spend the majority of my time going "RIGHT, go to the police", but somehow that just makes it even better. This might be a teen television show, but honestly, it is much creepier than I had been expecting! I'm currently devouring season 3 (soon to be season 4), and there have been so many unexpected twists and turns along the way so far. If you can avoid reading spoilers, avoid like the plague - it makes it so much better when you have no idea what's coming!!

An added bonus is that I actually love all four of the main characters. If you have no idea what the show is about, season one kicks off a year after sixteen year old Alison DiLaurentis goes missing from her home in Rosewood, Pennsylvania. Twelve months on, her four best friends Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily, start receiving threatening texts and notes from the mysterious A, who knows far too many of their secrets, and is prepared to use them against them. Whether they're at home, at school, or even out of town, A knows exactly where they are, what they're doing, and what to do to hurt them the most. Cue constant fear, torment, and double crossing, with an excellent wardrobe, brilliant soundtrack, and, as always, a very attractive cast. What more could you ask for?!

P.S. I have so much love for Spencer Hastings - she's my kind of character. And, at this point (who knows how I'll feel an episode from now, never mind a season from now), I would quite like to marry Wren. It should be illegal to be that attractive.

Once Upon a Time - Season 4

My beloved OUAT is back!! Season 4b kicked off on Sunday night and I got cosy with a giant cup of tea and a donut to enjoy the new episode on Monday. It did not disappoint. I won't say too much to avoid spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I'm loving the Queens of Darkness - particularly Cruella at this point. I'm intrigued to see where they're going with this, and I have a feeling (having seen some promo photos for upcoming episodes) it's going to complicate things for Emma, but we'll see. Still loving the Emma/Killian scenes, very nicely done in this episode, and Robert Carlyle will never cease to amaze me. He is just brilliant.


The Theory of Everything

After all this time, I finally went to see The Theory of Everything at the weekend. Roisin and I accepted that this would be a situation where you leave the cinema having had a good cry, and while I think our makeup actually faired pretty well, it really was an emotional couple of hours.

Eddie Redmayne's performance was absolutely incredible - he thoroughly deserved that Oscar, and all the other recognition he has had for playing Steven Hawking. Felicity Jones was excellent too, and while the film obviously deals closely with what Steven is facing, a huge part of the story is what Jane, his wife, went through, and she handled it beautifully. If you haven't seen it yet, I would definitely recommend seeing it at some point if you have the chance - it's an amazing film, about an amazing couple, and it has made me even more determined than ever to get around to reading A Brief History of Time!

Tiny Furniture

And last for today, we have Tiny Furniture, a Lena Dunham film I found on Netflix a few weeks ago. For any recent graduates, this is a must see. It's a quiet film, and nothing too dramatic happens along the way, but it really does reflect what life can be like when you leave the cosy bubble of the university or college environment and have to try to figure out what to do next. Dunham's character Aura moves back in with her mum and her sister, and struggles with career decisions, friendships, relationships, and mostly just wants to hide under her duvet, which is somewhere I think we've all been (unless you're one of the rare few who managed to get a job straight out of uni!). As I said, this isn't an intense or life changing film, but it is certainly a comforting one if you have found yourself in Aura's shoes. It's one of the things I love most about Film and TV (and books) - you can always find someone to relate to, whatever your situation is, and that in itself can make things just a little bit easier.

That's it for today - I hope you enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend checking out all of the above! Next on my must see list are the live action Cinderella, which comes out at the end of the month, continuing on with my PLL binge, and getting properly started on Parks and Recreation - all the love for Amy Poehler.

What have you been watching recently?

Thanks for reading! :)