3 Mar 2014

MY FAVOURITE TED TALKS


I discovered TED Talks about six months ago, and I can't understand how I didn't stumble across them sooner. 

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. TED conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). 

And yes, I did just copy that from their website. I couldn't find a more succinct way of describing the awesome wizardry that is TED. Here are my favourites. Enjoy!

ps. There's also a TED App so that you can download them and watch them on your commute!


Maysoon Zayid: I got 99 problems... palsy is just one. 


Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter...


Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are


Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend


Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating


Jamie Oliver: Healthy Eating


Mick Cornett: How an obese town lost a million pounds



Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action


Were you already familiar with TED? Which one was your favourite? 
Also, if you think you'd be interested in attending a TED event, I know I would, take a peek at their website! I was amazed to find out that there's already a TEDx Cardiff!

28 Feb 2014

5 THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND



  1. Eat sliced avocado on toast with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes and crushed black pepper. This is my favourite snack food ever! I'm trying to convert everybody to it's awesomeness. 

  2. Be Brave. What's that one thing you'd been meaning to do? Dreaming of doing? Putting off and making excuses about? Whatever came to your mind just then, do that.

  3. Track your time. I am terrible for saying that I don't have time to do things. It's even a habit I want to break as part of my '23 before 23' in my sidebar. I started tracking my time this week with a simple excel spreadsheet and I waste around 5 hours a day on social media sites, repeatedly checking emails and faffing about at home. What would you do if you had enough time?

  4. Get coffee with an old friend? One you haven't even spoken to in a year. Catch up, discuss your plans for the next year, gossip about that one time...

  5. Watch TED Talks over your morning coffee. Get inspired. 

Have a fantastic weekend lovelies! What do you have planned? I'm going to be studying some art history for my Open University course and going to a wedding fair on Sunday. Fingers crossed we still ahve this glorious spring sunshine!

27 Feb 2014

23 BEFORE 23: GO TO THE THEATRE 5 TIMES

23 Before 23 is where I make list of awesome things I'd like to try or do before I suddenly find myself in a party hat and celebrating being another year older. You can find this year's list in the sidebar >>> 


1. Ed Byrne - Roaring Forties, Swansea Grande Theatre

I surprised my boyfriend with tickets to see Ed Byrne for his birthday this year and we had one hellova time. Mr Bryne is hilarious, and steadily becoming a grumpy old man. 


2. Rent - MA Musical Theatre Students, RWCMD, Cardiff

I've been on a fair few theatre trips in my life, as it was a favourite school trip for our English department, and I have to tell you - these guys were on form. They are such crazy talented singers and performers and are at a level that I'm sure most of us would only associate with seasoned professionals rather than students. Remember the names Karen Bultiauw and Vikki Bebb. I have no doubt that we'll see great things from them both in the future. 


3. Happy Hideaway Positive Psychology Workshop, London

So this isn't something I was expecting to record as a 'theatre visit' but it was in the Conwy Hall in London, so I guess it kinds counts? 

I always thought that I kinda 'got' the idea of positive thinking and all that, but looking into positive psychology has been a real eye opener! Since doing the Cake for Breakfast eCourse by Ashley Wilhite and this workshop I feel like I have a renewed zest for life. I'm getting animated and excited about ideas again, have oodles more self confidence and am dreaming bigger than ever. I'm going to be blogging much more about this in the future, so if you want to know more just stay tuned!


4. Clwb Kaboom! Burlesque, Llanelli
These last two are future-planned events that I have tickets booked for, so I know that I'm on my way to ticking off number 12 of 23 on my list! I think I'm going to do individual blog posts on these because I'm so freaking excited about them.

I'm a huge fan of burlesque and will be watching the film on repeat in the mean time. 

5. Wicked, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
This is going to be my second time seeing Wicked. I can't listen to the soundtrack enough.


What have I learned? 

I added every single goal on my 23 before 23 list for a reason. The reasoning behind this one was that I sometimes need that extra little push to get out of the house more often. Working from home all the time meant that I was gradually getting depressed and was losing the desire to wear anything other than pyjamas all day long. I needed to get out of the house and get some vitamin D y'know?!

So, what have I learned? That no matter how tired, antisocial or fat that I'm feeling, it is ALWAYS worth getting up and going out. It makes me feel better 99.9% of the time. 

Have you been to the theatre yet this year? If so what did you see? Have any recommendations for me? 

26 Feb 2014

SKIVING SNACKBOX 0.3




>>> Something to remember. ^^

>>> Oh my goodness! This girl's voice is INCREDIBLE!

>>> I just loved this little piece of prose from Thoroughly English. I want to be the young woman in red lipstick. 

>>> We've all seen this hilarious Dog Diary vs. Cat Diary, right?

>>> When Your Mother Says She's Fat is a wonderfully poignant piece, and the comments are equally so: "I told my husband how much I wished I had a body like some skinny actress in some forgettable movie. His response was perfect, "What would you do with it that you don't do now?" 

>>> 38 Things You Need to Declutter From Your Life NOW. I have been decluttering like crazy recently and I feel so much better for it. I never knew I had so much crap.


>>> 7 Cowardly Words From a Sexist Stranger Inspired This Response. Another Upworthy gem. 



I'm going to to leave it there for today as I'm having a super busy but exciting week making big new career plans. Lots, lots more links next week!

21 Feb 2014

5 THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND



Hey everyone! How's your week been? I hope that you've had good news, plenty of laughter and a little sunshine. Yesterday was glorious and as you read this I'm off to run some errands before my trip to London this weekend hopefully in the sunshine. 

So, five things to do this weekend...


  1. Be happy! I'm in London to attend the 'Happiness Hideaway - Use Your Personal Strengths and Live a Life With Passion' workshop and I'm really excited about it. Happy Hideaway was founded by Megan Hayes, the lovely lady that first inspired me to get into blogging. If you're going to be around London on Sunday morning you should totally come along. 

  2. Do some RAK! If London is a bit, or a lot, out of your reach, you can still boost your happiness and do just three random acts of kindness! There are some great ideas for Random Acts of Kindness here. 

  3. Put down your iPhone. It's kinda a recurring joke that I am IMPOSSIBLE to get hold of because I regularly forget about my phone. Sometimes for an entire week. However, since I replaced my broken SIII with a pretty white iPhone it's now like an extra limb. So, I'm now going to take on the iPhone Challenge and consider looking at my phone the same as taking a phone call. It suddenly makes my SO aware of how often I glance at it when at coffee with friends or waste time on it in bed at night. No more!

  4. Join a Book Club LaurenConrad.com's popular book club is starting up again and we're reading Where'd You Go Bernadette? This has been on my reading list for a while and I'm super excited to get chatting about it next month. 

  5. Get outside! I've been squirrelled away for the last six weeks avoiding all this crap weather, but now I'm ready for some sunshine! The daffodils are finally out here in Wales, which is a nice change from all the fallen trees and storm debris. I'm so looking forward to being out and about and enjoying the dashes of sunshine. 
Let me know if you do any random acts of kindness on twitter and have a wondrous weekend.

20 Feb 2014

STYLISH LETTER WRITING


In amongst the brown lettered bills, bank statements and Tesco Clubcard vouchers, there is nothing more exciting that seeing a peek of a brightly coloured envelope and knowing that there's a hand written letter waiting inside. 


I recently decided to start writing letters to some old friends, as we kept missing each other on Facebook and now have an excuse to treat myself to some more gorgeous stationery. Oh, those map ones... Be still my beating heart.












27 Jan 2014

MY EXPERIENCE OF THE OPEN UNIVERSITY

Why I Chose The Open University
Basically, due to a combination of me slacking on my coursework and having Glandular Fever for around three months over my A Level exam period, I don't have the qualifications to get into a 'proper' University. The Open University is far more forgiving on their entry requirements. 

Another reason I chose to do my degree this way rather than retake my A Levels or take an Access course, is that I could work too without having to reschedule my life to get to classes. 




First Impressions
I always had this idea that The Open University was for stay at home parents and retired people that just wanted something to do. I didn't think that the course would be challenging enough nor the qualification I'd receive at the end of it be worth anything. 

Out of all the students I've met so far only a handful have been under 30, so it really is a University of mature students. I have met only a few others like me who are studying for career advancement, rather than as a hobby. 

I've noticed that even the ones who have very bad English spelling and grammar on Facebook and have no previous academic experience are getting by and passing the course. One woman who already had a PhD is getting lower marks than me. I don't get it...




The Course
I chose to study full time and am meant to be studying for a minimum of 14 hours a week. Even by working a week ahead of schedule I can do all of the work and recommended reading in about 1/4 of that time. So either the course is easier than they'd like to think or they have wildly underestimated their students. 

The course is made up of modules that you can pick and choose. You can either study each module at a time, or you can study with a particular degree qualification in mind. There are three levels of module, with Level 1 being entry level and Level 3 being dissertation/honours standard modules. Level 1 courses don't count towards your overall degree classification and are marked on a Pass/Fail basis. 

I've found the modules to be super varied and really interesting! I've struggled to get around some things which I know nothing about and have found others super easy. I'm not often bored by the course, but I think we all have days when studying is like this: 




The Tutors
I think this must be pretty hit and miss. I've had a fantastic tutor, who is so prompt at replying to emails, really supportive and gives me great constructive feedback on my work. 

Some other people have had tutors never reply to their emails, contradict themselves, haven't given them any feedback on their work and have taken their sweet time marking it in the first place. You can ask for a new one if you're not happy but by the look of the forums, most people would rather complain about them than actually contact student services. 




The Cost
Because of my income last tax year (I was only working part time) I get full scholarships for my course fees and have even received a maintenance grant because I'm studying full time! So technically I'm currently being paid to get a degree.

Otherwise you're looking at around £900 for a 60 credit module and £300 for a 30 credit module. You need to be studying 120 credits a year to be considered a full time student. 


Is It Worth It?
Yes, and no. It depends an awful lot on what you're intending to do with your qualification. If you want to study for a Masters degree at a 'brick' University afterwards, or have a particular career path in mind you really must contact potential future employers or places of study first. 

Not everywhere recognises Open University qualifications. On the other hand, lots of employers now really respect people that have been able to balance work and study! Studying from home is no easy feat and requires A LOT of self discipline and motivation. 

If you accept that The Open University isn't perfect, and are prepared that you may want to switch modules or tutors at some point to get the best experience possible then I'd say go for it! 

Personally, I'm still torn between sticking it out and taking my qualifications so far and going elsewhere. If I didn't want to study Marketing, I'd definitely be staying, but sadly The Open University doesn't offer anything that specific. 

How was your University experience? With such a high level of graduate unemployment at the moment, do you feel that the time and money spent studying was worth it?