Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion...

I have been hunting for new products to add to my clearly WRONG skincare routine recently, so I was very excited when I received this little benefit sample in the post. I have always loved benefit cosmetics with a fiery passion, but this was the first time I ever tried one of their skincare products...

I love the word 'Emulsion'. I don't know why, it just sounds really gooey and cool. Anyway, the benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion is an oil-free formula (which I expected to be fab on me as I get unsightly breakouts occasionally) which hydrates, protects and comforts the skin whilst also offering an SPF of 15. 

I found the formula to be very thin when I squirted a little out on my hand. It almost ran straight off! When I applied it to my face, I soon realized that a little goes a very long way with this product. I found it to be very lightweight while it was on. However, I found throughout the day that my skin looked really quite greasy and my battle throughout the day to keep my face looking matte worked only to make the layer-upon-layer of powder foundation I had applied appear cakey and gross. 

On the other hand, I used this product before bed one night and found that it worked perfectly as a hydrating overnight mask as I woke up in the morning with the smoothest skin ever. Of course I had to cleanse the residue from my face in the morning, but what was left beneath was the loveliest butter soft skin that I think I've ever experienced! I have only just run out of this product after about a week and a half of using it (which just goes to show how your £19.50 stretches in the value for money) and as soon as I get paid I am investing in this as an overnight face cream. That said, I would not advise using this as a daytime cream in spite of the fact that the SPF properties are no use at night, I just don't think it is worth it considering the amount of powder I used that day... However, everyone's skin is different, so maybe try popping into benefit and asking for a sample to see how you get on?

Have you tried any of the benefit skincare line yet? Do you know of any cheaper alternatives to benefit's Facial Emulsion? What do you think about benefit branching into skincare?

Love and kisses

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Oh I Do Like to Be Beside The Seaside...

As a girl that is absolutely MAD about the UK seaside, imagine my excitement when I found that my grandparents had invested in a caravan in North Wales! I was so excited to get my family away on a stay-cation that just a week after I arrived back from my USA adventure we loaded up the car and headed away for the weekend.

The caravan itself is located in Towyn. Towyn is only about a 15 minute drive from the nearest beach and there are a handful of small seaside towns within a 30 minute drive also, so every day can be different! On our first night, we headed to Rhyl.

Rhyl isn't the NICEST seaside town in Wales by a long stretch. The town is in desperate need of some TLC and a finance injection. However, the beach itself is beautiful. The sand is clean and the water is surprisingly clear for the UK. Naturally, the water was icy cold, but that didn't stop me from paddling in it for ages :)

It was really a lovely evening as the skies were blue and it wasn't too cold or windy. Having said that, I needed to clutch tight onto my hat to keep it from falling into the water and being lost for ever...

The following day we headed into one of my favourite seaside towns in North Wales, Llandudno. Although the town offers a nice retail park complete with Outfit (Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge etc), River Island and New Look, this town is also full of independent stores which I just love having a rummage around. There are gift and book shops galore and I managed to grab some incredible literature bargains which I'm sure to blog about soon. 

I love all of these pastel coloured hotels with sea views. We headed onto the pier to grab some fish and chips and look out over the vast blue sea. It actually made me think about the tsunami really and about how terrifying it must be to see one rushing towards you...

As we headed home on our third day we stopped off in Chester, one of my favorite UK cities for shopping in. Most stores are outdoors in Chester and they are all down little alleys and hidden in corners and up stairs. Again there are many chain stores, but quite as many independents and the city is full of cute little delicatessens. My favorite is a cheese shop which you smell from a mile off! Chester is also home to one of my number one vintage stores named, Lily's Vintage. I love it here because the owner is always around to tell you stories about the clothes you are looking at and the prices are often very fair.

My family and I decided to grab some lunch in Carluccio's. I chose a spicy prawn pasta which was absolutely delicious. For once I was satisfied enough by my main to not even need dessert and the atmosphere in the restaurant was so friendly that we stayed sitting, finishing our drinks for half an hour after eating.

Have you ever been on a stay-cation in North Wales? Do you still go on holidays with your parents since your childhood? What are your favorite UK cities?

Love and kisses

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My University Experience...

I decided I might record this video so that I could share my university experience with you all. University is a very expensive and time consuming investment to make in ourselves, and is a decision which should be thought out very carefully. University is not for everyone and although there is a lot of pressure from teachers and parents and society to go and get a degree, I think that many more people will be reconsidering their motives for applying since the raise in fees last year. I had a very bumpy university experience, and although I happy that I went in hindsight, during some stages of the experience I genuinely regretted choosing English Literature or even staying in education. So many careers would be better achieved through getting work experience rather than attending university, so I just entreat each of you who are considering applying to not rush into anything, think things through in detail and follow your hearts.

Are any of you applying for university just because you think you should? What careers do you all want to get involved in? Tell me your university stories...

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Thanks for watching, guys and I'll see you soon!

gabriellasofia x

Monday, 27 August 2012

City Review: Santa Fe

Hello there! 

Now for the next city in my City Review segment... Santa Fe!

Once again, I had no idea what to expect of Santa Fe. I didn't know a lot about New Mexico at all. I never have really, apart from the fact that Gabriella from High School Musical was from Albuquerque which is New Mexico's largest city. Does New Mexico have anything to do with actual Mexico? Would I find myself smack-bang in the middle of a US version of Latin America? Would everyone be speaking Spanish and wearing sombreros and dancing to mariachi music? I was soon to find out...

Upon arriving to Santa Fe, I thought I was in hell. Seriously, the camp-site was one of THE WORST on our trip. The ground was neither flat nor smooth and it was rock solid too so it was really very hard to put our tent pegs in. Then the nearest rest-room didn't have plumbing so there was a very basic hole-in-the-ground style toilet which reeked of faeces. There were two big huge dogs roaming around, the type that maul babies. Literally, they were all over the place, trying to eat our food, sniffing our nether regions, slobbering away. Plus, this was one of THE MOST bug infested camp-sites we had experienced so I got bitten a lot. I wasn't happy at all, especially as this was one of the only camp-sites where we were to spend two nights rather than one. However, we decided to make the best of a bad situation and play a handful of drinking games.

The next morning I decided to give Santa Fe a chance... perhaps there would be tons of things I would be interested in seeing... 

The above photo is one of the only tourist type photos I took in Santa Fe because there was literally nothing in that city which I would enjoy doing. I was quite eager to find a farmers' market which I'd spotted on my map. However, it seemed that because it was a Sunday afternoon, the farmers' market wasn't running. There went my hope for grabbing some fresh fruit.

Santa Fe is home to North America's oldest church and oldest house. Apparently. I wouldn't know because I just figured, the UK has super-duper old churches and houses which were built hundreds of years before the USA was even born, so I didn't think it was important or interesting. I know that might make me seem really closed minded, but I was tired, hacked off about the campsite where I'd endured a terrible night's sleep and was sure to endure another AND I was starving hungry! So instead, I popped into this church to say a prayer and light a candle for my mom's parents because it reminded me of Dominican churches (my mom is from the Dominican Republic and my grandparents were religious). This church was beautiful, and reminded me a lot of Latin American Catholicism...

The church was beautiful and I actually started feeling quite emotional. I didn't know that Santa Fe is so well known for its Catholic community and as a Catholic myself (although not practising) I found it to be quite a friendly town which took me back to the things I used to enjoy about going to church. Having said that, Santa Fe also reminded me of some of the things I hate about Catholicism. I spotted some ladies with clipboards in the town and people were being very rude to them. All they were asking was, 'Are you pro gay rights?' I even heard one man hiss, 'No, you make me sick' as he stalked into the church. How can someone who is part of a religion which is all about loving your neighbour be so rude to someone just because of who they do and don't choose to love. I was disgusted with his reaction so went and chatted to the ladies for a little while. They told me that Santa Fe is one of the biggest anti-gay cities in North America.

After chatting with these ladies, I decided it was time for lunch, so headed to a creperie that I'd spotted earlier in the day...

My crepe had cheese, chorizo, chicken and spinache in it and to be honest I didn't enjoy it at all. I'm not sure if this was purely due to the fact that I had been drinking the night before (although having said that I've never had a hangover before and don't think what I felt would constitute one...) but the crepe totally over-faced me and was so creamy that I began to feel slightly queasy. Not that that stopped me from ordering a Nutella one for dessert though...

This crepe made me MUCH happier and really hit the spot. I actually wanted to order another, but I was watching my pennies in this city so I left it... 

I really felt like I'd seen the best of Santa Fe. I know that sounds bad because I almost didn't give the city a chance, but it was too hot, not really my kind of place, occupied mostly by elderly people with different interests to me, so I headed to the library for a little while. Funnily enough, I found my Norton Anthology of English Literature in the library which was my university degree coursebook! What a small world eh? 

A couple of my friends wanted to head to do Bikram Yoga but I didn't want to because exercising in a sauna sounds like my idea of hell. Instead, me and another of the girls took a nap in the van. We really were exhausted! 

Dinner was probably my favourite part of Santa Fe because we headed to this restaurant called the Cowgirl Hall of Fame where there was a couple of live performers along with lovely food and delicious margaritas. 

After my pig out at lunch, I decided to order something from the kid's menu. I was happy actually because the main menu was mostly full of burgers and ribs and hot dogs (most of which I'd eaten at least three times already each in the States by this point) whereas the kiddie menu had barbecued fish on it which I ended up choosing.

The waiter looked at me very oddly when I politely said, 'Can I please have a children's menu and a margarita cocktail?' He asked me for my ID and everything. Haha, weirdo.   

Here is my delicious barbecued fish with asparagus and mashed potato on the side. The fish was mildly spicy with tabasco sauce (which I LOVE) so I sprinkled a little more sauce over the top to add to the effect. It was so good! Also, I love how the American's make their mashed potato with garlic, onion AND the skin of the potato. Makes it so much yummier. I might try making my mash like this from now on... 

The best thing about Santa Fe was the slightly Latin America vibe which meant I spotted elements which reminded me of my mom's country all over the place. The best thing was seeing 'Dulce Tres Leches' on the dessert menu. This is one of my favourite types of cake... It is a sponge which is the soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and pouring cream. It is the fluffiest, moistest, sweetest cake ever. The Santa Fe version was not a patch on a genuine Dominican version. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the friends which I recommended it to. Nom gobble. This cake is definitely on my 'To Cook' list at the moment.

Santa Fe is a great city to grab some lunch in and stroll around for an hour or two. Everything is so calm and relaxed there as many American's retire to this city. It was refreshing in comparison to LA, Vegas and New York. That said, although I thought Santa Fe was a nice enough city, it definitely isn't one of my highlights. 

Have you ever been to Santa Fe? How would you imagine it being? Do you have any desserts which remind you of a certain place?

Love and kisses

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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Curly Hair Hair-Care Routine...

I was 'blessed' with curly locks which I hated from the moment I was old enough to notice that most people had straight hair. However, I've since realized that armed with the right products and tools my hair can be quite a cool feature which makes me so me :) So here is a quick low-down on the how I 'tame the beast' which lives on my head. I hope this is a useful video for some of you out there! Let me know how you get on if you use any of the products which I have mentioned in the video.

How do you tame your curly hair? Do you know of any miracle products for curly Sue's like me? If you have straight hair, do you wish you had curls? I remember people telling me when I was little that they wanted to cut my hair off and stick it to their own heads!

In order to be aware when I post new things, you really must follow, subscribe and like my pages! Here are all of the links...

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Please rate, like, follow, comment and subscribe and I promise there will be loads of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, culture and gossip material going up on here each week :)

Thanks for watching, guys and I'll see you soon!

gabriellasofia x

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Style Profile: Autumn/Winter 2012: Topshop: Mad Men Modern...

So I'm not sure if all you beautiful people are aware, but I got a job a couple of days ago... To find out more check out my How To Pass A Job Interview post. However, back to business! Since I'm now a grown up with a real-life grown up job, I'm going to need some smart-looking attire, aren't I? And since I'll be being paid a healthy wage, I'm going to have enough money to buy myself a little work-outfit perhaps every couple of weeks. So I've been scouring the high-street store websites for different bits and bobs which I think would look fab in the office. I'm loving the sexy shapes which some of the smarter items have at the moment, peplum and shift dresses, pencil skirts and blazers, pencil trousers and tuxedo jackets... I could go on for ever! So here is the first little outfit that I'd like to invest in. 

This collection is all about sexy silhouettes, soft colour but bold shapes! This is a 1940's inspired look which would be ideal for bringing some girl power to the office. I want to invest in the dress, the pink sunnies, the pink and black bag and the black shoes. I used only Topshop clothes in this collection. Sexy but professional, what is not to love?

What would you wear to turn heads and be taken seriously in the office? Do you prefer pants or skirt suits? Would you wear a dress without a blazer for work or do you think it is too casual?

Love and kisses

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What I've Been Listening To: Emilio Pinchi

Ok, firstly what I want you to do, is right click on THIS LINK and click 'open in new tab'. Now, go into that new tab, scroll down and find the song called, 'Slow Down'. Click the play button, then head back here. Done? Fantastic. You are now listening to the musical stylings of the lovely Emilio Pinchi. 

I met Emilio back in Easter at my dad's local music festival, HippyHaze. I stood at the side of the stage while he wowed the audience with his acoustic guitar and mellow vocals and I was hooked. Since then I've seen him perform buckets of times and it literally never gets old. Just last Friday I saw Emilio support another of my favorite local acts, Sea Based Turtles, and afterwards he slipped me a free copy of his most recent EP the artwork of which is the same as the photo above. Very eye catching, right? 

*Me and my friends at HippyHaze having a fantastic time... spot Vikki from Victoria's Vintage on the top row second from the left. And my cutie little cousin sat on my lap!*

The EP is called Popular Myth and Conflict and is one of the most emotional EPs I've listened to in a long time. With songs inspired by heartbreak everyone can relate to Emilio's music and its just so relaxing to hear that I literally haven't played anything else in days! I like that Emilio sounds kind of like a cross between Ed Sheeran and Noel Gallagher with an added bit of his own style to top it all off. 

Emilio plays in locations all over the place, so go like his facebook page and find out when he's coming to a venue near you! In other news, Emilio will be playing at my dad's newest event around Halloween time. The event will run from the 26th of October until the 28th and is entitled, Hippy Horror. I'm looking into inviting a big old bunch of bloggers to come along, so if you'd be interested in an awesome Halloween meet where you can camp for the night with a bunch of sexy musicians, or even stay for the whole weekend, leave your email in the comments below and I'll send an email round with ticket prices very soon. 

*The beautiful Emilio*

Have you ever been into going to local gigs? Do you support any local musicians? Would you be interested in a Halloween-themed music festival meet for Midlands based bloggers? Its just something different, isn't it?

Love and kisses

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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

How To Pass A Job Interview...

Hello hello hello!

What's that I hear you say? I seem particularly jolly today? Well, I should, because I, my little friends, have only gone and got myself my first job since graduating :) You are now looking at a blog written by Phones4U's most recent Recruitment Consultants, based in their head offices in Stoke-on-Trent! This job is only a three-month fixed contract which is exactly what I wanted because then I have the opportunity to try Recruitment out on this level and also the flexibility to move on after the three months if I want to. By the same token, if I really enjoy the position (as much as I think I will) there may be the opportunity for me to stay on or move to another department within Phones4U. Ideal right?

So I figured I'd write this blog post and I know it sounds like I'm saying, 'I AM FAB BECAUSE I GOT A JOB SO LISTEN TO WHAT I SAY'. As ever I respect that everyone is different, and every person must be true to themselves in a job interview type of environment. However, as someone who has had passed seven out of nine job interviews in my life already (and I'm only 21 years old) I feel like I must be doing something right, so I figured I'd let you all know what I think I've done right and where I've gone wrong... So here goes:

What to do at a job interview...

1) Be punctual and don't cancel. Without fail, you absolutely must be on time for a job interview. Even if this means showing up and hour or two early because you were over-prepared, it is better to be safe than sorry! If I was an employer and I'd set aside time out of my working day to give someone a work opportunity I would be very angry if that person arrived late or cancelled at the last minute. Showing up late or cancelling late is almost as if you're telling the employer that you think your time is more valuable than theirs. So make sure you arrive in the area of the interview well ahead of time and arrive at the interview location no more or less than five minutes early. If the interviewer is running late, be polite, tell them it is no problem and wait patiently. I know it sounds like it is one rule for one and another for another but at the end of the day they hold your next career move in the palm of their hand, so be nice! Basically, just make sure you're aware of all the details of the job interview, the time, the location, the interviewer's name, and be there a little before you are supposed to be!

2) Dress for the job you want, not the one you have... or are even interviewing for! What I mean by this is, it is better to over-dress in terms of formality for a job interview than appear slovenly and not very well put together. In March I went for a job interview to be an Estee Lauder beauty counter assistant which ended up being one of my unsuccessful interviews! However, I was immediately complemented by the interviewer on my classy, grey, knee-length shift dress (which I'd actually borrowed from my best friend and fellow blogger Vikki) and my makeup. I would expect so too considering the fact that I'd got up two hours early that morning to make a real effort with my appearance! Some people might think, you wore a suit-dress for a shop assistant interview? Yes, yes I did. And it was appreciated! For my Phones4U interview, although I had been told that the interview was to be relatively casual, I made a similar effort. Upon arrival, I found that I was ever-so-slightly over-dressed as the interviewers both wore cardigans rather than blazers and flat shoes. Having said that, I felt a lot more confident in a more formal outfit as it got me in the frame of mind for the interview and made me appear professional. I kept my makeup simple and soft, and I tied my hair back. This shows that my appearance, although important to me, will not act as any kind of distraction in the work place.

*This is what I wore to my Phones4U interview. This peplum dress was from Miss Selfridge and cost me £45. The shoes were from Nine West a couple of years back.*

3) Be yourself but with a slightly bigger smile. If you try to act like someone else, the employer will notice. Having said that, in a job interview, you are supposed to present the best 'You' you can, so slap on a smile, make good eye contact and exploit your best qualities. If you are trying to say that you can be a good listener, make sure you listen intently to the interviewer. If you want to put across that you are optimistic, then be positive, nod when required, start sentences with, 'Yes...' or 'Of course...' and don't be afraid to laugh! If you want the interviewer to see that you are good at communicating, give examples of the claims you make, anticipate their next question and speak clearly. Don't memorize answers for potential questions as such, but make a list of such questions and write a couple of bullet point responses beneath, just so that your responses flow comfortably but also have structure. It is all about showing the interview how brilliant you are!

4) Know the job and the brand you are applying for. When you get offered an interview, whether by phone or email, be sure to ask any questions you might want to know the answers to. For example, ask, 'How long might the interview last?', 'May I ask what the rate of pay is, just out of interest?, 'How many people is the company thinking of taking on?', 'How large is the team I would be working with if granted the position?', or 'What would my position be exactly within the brand?' etc. After you've done your initial asking, take to the internet and do your research! If you're going to be interviewed for a role as a Call Centre Sales Person, hunt for similar positions online and read the applicant specifications. Highlight words which appear repeatedly, such as 'confident', 'persuasive', 'friendly' and so on. Now you know some of the buzz-words to drop during you interview. Come up with examples of when you have proven yourself to fit into any of those categories. Then try looking in search engines for 'Call Centre Job Interview' or 'How To Pass An Interview To Become A Sales Person'. The results will give you more of an idea about questions which may arise and the general experience during the interview. Finally, you want to prove to the employer that you're not just looking to work in any old call centre... you want to work specifically in THEIR call centre. 'So, why would you like to work HERE?' is a question I've had in each and every interview, and even putting in a bit of Wikipedia time or checking articles on the brand on the Daily Mail website in order to find some information on the company will always score you brownie points. For example, when I was interviewing to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando last summer (an interview in which I was successful) I looked into the training process in depth and realized that the company places a lot of importance on customer service and satisfaction. So I exploited this in my interview, saying something along the lines of, 'I have a lot of respect for families, and knowing that they have potentially saved for years for a Disney vacation, I would be very pleased to work for a company which makes the customer experience worth every penny. I feel the Disney company strives to do that.' 

5) Don't think all is said and done when the interview is over. Just because you're out of the firing line of an employer's inquisition, don't put your feet up and make a brew. Usually employers will ask, 'Do you have any questions for us?' and it is often beneficial if you have questions to ask because it makes it seem like you've really thought in depth about the position. In the past, I have asked, 'What is the composition of your training program?', 'Is the company socially active?' and 'How might someone at the level in which I will start progress to higher earning potential within this company?' Don't ask TOO many questions though, you can ask those when you get the job! After asking questions, stand up, smile, confidently shake hands with your future employer and thank them for the opportunity. Tell them you hope to hear from them soon and leave. The day after an interview I usually like to send an short sweet email to employers, to say thank you to them once again, tell them that you hope your potential came across in your interview, and that you are quite as passionate about the job now as you were before, if not, more. Once again state that you hope to hear from them soon and sign off, formally and politely with 'Sincerely' or 'Kind regards'. 

The Two Interviews I Didn't Pass...

Michael Page International Recruitment Consultancy - In the September of 2010, I applied on a whim to an internship with this company and I was very surprised to get a phone call in December which soon became my telephone interview. I passed the impromptu telephone interview which lasted for about half and hour, at which point I was invited to London (with first-class train travel paid by the company) for a group interview. At the interview, I found that their were four of us interviewees and only one would be given the job. We were required to perform three different practical tasks, one alone, one in pairs, the third as a group. During the interview, I felt I was performing well. However, it was quite clear to me that one such young lady was doing much better than the rest of us. Naturally she got the job. Still to this day I believe I did well during the interview, especially as this was the first (and only) assessment day style interview I'd ever been to.

Estee Lauder - Back in March I applied to a job as a Beauty Counter Assistant for Estee Lauder (one of my favorite luxury beauty brands!) However, during the interview, it became clear that although the job I was interviewing for was only part time, the interviewer was looking for someone with more flexibility than my university degree (which I was studying for at the time) was going to offer. This was surprising as I was only required in university two days a week, so I had five full days available which is what most employers recruiting for full-time positions would expect. However, the interview went well and the interviewer seemed very keen on me applying for the job when I had graduated. 

So there you go! Those are my top Pass-Your-Job-Interview tips and I hope you have the best of luck with all your future career-related endeavours.

What are your interview tips? Have you ever had a terrible job interview? What do you wear for an interview?

Love and kisses

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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Culture Shock: What I've Been Watching: Soul Surfer (2011)

Soul Surfer (2011) starring AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany Hamilton has been shown on the Sky Movies channels recently and is currently still viewable on Sky Anytime. I had to write about it because it is a fantastic film adaptation of the heart-wrenching true story of courage, faith and strength when one girl's worst nightmare comes true.

I actually had read about Bethany's story in a Teen Vogue magazine about four years ago

In the movie, and in reality, Bethany was a 13 year-old up-and-coming pro surfer signed with Ripcurl. She headed out on surf practice with her closest fried who had also been recently signed, and as they were floating in the sea a shark ate her arm off. I was trying to think of how to write it without being brash, but that's the horrific truth. Now, in the midst of all that fear and sadness and anger, Bethany Hamilton got herself back out and on the waves, one-armed, less than a month after the accident and she is currently a successful surf-girl!

The film stays surprisingly close to the true story, with scenes inspired by the true video clips made by Bethany's own brother during her journey on her road to recovery. The casting from Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as Bethany's parents right the way through to Carrie Underwood as the caring church minister feels so genuine, never contrived, and each and every part is played with a clear emotional connection to the real-life hardship which Bethany, her family and friends endured.

My favorite scene of the film is where Bethany connects with a Thai child during a trip to Phuket to provide tsunami relief. This scene puts Bethany's story into context with the global goings-on which ultimately helped her to heal as she was required to be strong for others. During this scene we see Bethany helping a little boy back into the ocean for the first time since the tsunami and the happiness and pride which radiates from the actress's face demonstrates the selflessness which inspired the role.

The general message of the film sums up Bethany's story as far as I can tell. The message is, 'Love is bigger than any tidal wave or any fear' which I find so inspiring. Aside from the beauty of soul which emanates from this film's moral, everything from the scenery to the music works perfectly throughout and I just felt to in-tune with the whole story that I had to write this mini-review, even though Soul Surfer (2011) isn't a brand new film!

Props to the real-life Bethany Hamilton and her family for emerging stronger than before through such a difficult experience, and also I'd have to say *high-five* to the entire cast for playing their roles in such an honest, organic and warm way. I was really touched.

Have you heard Bethany's story before? Who inspires you to be brave and strong? Have you ever had to heal after a terrible accident?

Love and kisses

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Get To Know Me Better...

Hi there!

Somehow you've managed to make it over to my lovely blog and perhaps you've read a post or two and want to know, who the devil is this girl? Well, I'm about to tell you!

My name is Gabriella Sofia and I'm a 21-year-old English Literature graduate from the University of Birmingham in the UK. Yes, this is just the posh way of saying, 'I'm unemployed.' However, I know that I LOVE magazines and beauty (obviously!) and thoroughly enjoy the work experience placement I completed at Conde Nast Traveller Magazine last October, and have felt right at home at the Marie Claire Inspire and Mentor events I've been to this past year. And yet, I feel like one day I would like to run my own fashion or beauty business. And yet, I want to go travelling in South America. And yet, I want to do a Masters in Beauty Journalism at London College of Fashion or a Masters in Magazine Journalism at London City University. And yet, I think I'd be suited to beauty PR. And yet, I would love to be a professional blogger attending fantastic events and posting and Tweeting several times a day. And yet... I could go on for ever and ever. 

Apart from blogging, shopping and trying new products I have tons of other interests too! I really enjoy reading (everything from Harry Potter and Twilight right through to Wuthering Heights and Oliver TwistThe Time Traveller's Wife and PS I Love You to Hamlet and Dr Faustus) which is probably a good thing as I studied most of them for my degree :) I like listening to all kinds of music some of which include show-tunes, pop, rock, Latin, reggae and country. Again, a tad random as a combination of genres, but hey-ho. I sometimes go for walks or jogs but not as often as I'd like to... The sound of my feet slapping the floor goes through me. I really like singing, dancing and acting although I don't get to act hardly ever which sucks. Watching television and movies is my ideal way to wind down and there are SO MANY shows I just can't miss. Grey's Anatomy, America's Next Top Model, One Tree Hill, CSI: New York, 90210, Gossip Girl, Cold Case and seriously the list is never ending and I don't want to seem like a total TV nerd so I'll stop there. Also, if I want to relax then I take a bath and have a mug of Ovaltine (a hot malt drink for those of you that don't know), just for a little luxury!

The most important things in my life are without a doubt, my family and friends. I live with my Mom, Dad and younger sister Amelia. We are one of the closest families you could ever come across. Each night we'll sit down for dinner all together and usually stay talking at the table for a couple of hours. We have a family business so we all work together (which does sometimes drive us mad!) but we know that a family that plays together stays together, so we'll often go out for dinner, go on vacations together in the UK and abroad and even go to concerts as a family. We have the best times and I know that I wouldn't be me without them. I love my family a lot :)

I've never been the sort of girl who was part of cliquey groups in high school and Sixth Form as I found that the politics were a bit too much and to be fair, I guess I wasn't really 'cool' enough for those groups anyway! In terms of friends, I much prefer having individual people rather than big groups. Also, I don't really enjoy the sorts of friendships where you have to be in each other's pockets at all times. I haven't seen some of my closest friends in ages (one I haven't seen for nearly six months... she lives in Australia) and yet they are the sorts of friendships where I know that if I ever needed them, I could literally just pick up the phone and they'd be there for me no matter what. Here are a few of them...


I met Victoria Measures in October 2010 at the Walt Disney World Summer Program interviews and I immediately thought I wasn't cool enough to sit at her table, haha! She just looked so well-put-together and spoke really nicely and was surrounded by other people and I was kind of nervous when I plonked myself down on a chair at the table. We didn't really talk directly to each other much that day, but we were talking as a group and I really liked her. After the interviews we added each other on Facebook and soon got talking. We both won a place in Walt Disney World and we got closer and closer in the run-up to the trip as we were both blogging about our experiences (her blog is one of my Blog Crushes and is called Victoria's Vintage) and once we got out there we ended up spending most of our days off shopping, theme-parking, eating out, shopping, blogging, cooking and shopping (we did a lot of shopping!) together. When I left the Program a week early (find out why in my How the Mouse Stole My Magic post) her and the two girls below both helped me spend my last few dollars, organize my flights and pack all of my stuff into two very over-weight suitcases. They stayed up all night with me, and cried when I left. I love Vikki to pieces and literally wouldn't be without her... Actually, I have her to thank for my uber-groovy blog background as she's a HTML genius! I reckon she'd do anything for me, and I'd definitely reciprocate the favour. 


I met Louise the same day as I met Vikki at the Disney interviews, but when Vikki headed home after we'd all finished because she had a train to catch, Louise, I (and some others) headed to the pub and prayed to Mickey that we'd get the job! Well, Mickey came through, and that night I'd made a friend for life. We Skyped before the trip, booked ourselves onto the same flight, booked a two-bed hotel room for the night before our flights at Gatwick, went on Gabbi-Louise date night, shopped, baked and just generally enjoyed each other's company. Louise makes me howl laughing when she tells a story and she's the number-one person you want around when you're full of energy and want to head out and do something fun. I love Louise, think about her almost every day and miss being able to just call her and say, 'Hey, do you fancy heading down to the pool in an hour?' Yet she'll always be one of my closest friends despite the distance. I have plans to know her forever :)


This is probably the sweetest girl I know. She has the sexiest Scottish accent and I can talk to her about anything! I met her on my flight to Orlando and one of my top three favourite days of the whole trip was when I spent the day lying on a lake-beach at one of the beautiful Disney Hotels named The Wilderness Lodge with Karyn and literally no-one else on the entire rest of the beach. After that, we went and rode some of the attractions at the Magic Kingdom and caught Wishes, the notorious Disney firework spectacular. The day was better than it ever could have been, purely because I spent it girl-talking the whole time with the lovely Karyn. We text every now and then, but again, distance prevents us from seeing one another :( Yet, as with the other girls, I know I'll always have a friend in Karyn and I fully expect to be a bridesmaid at her wedding one day and hope she is prepared for the same vice-versa whenever the time comes!


This is my best friend from Primary (or Elementary or Junior) school. She was another one that seemed too cool for me, as she was the 'new girl' and everyone kind of elbowed me out of the way to be her 'best friend'. And yet after a couple of days, she somehow drifted into my company and that's where she stayed for the next eight or nine years as we ended up going to High School together. Seriously, you know how everyone has a friend who makes you laugh your butt off until your stomach is strained and your face aches and your voice is gone? Well, she is mine. And then she only upped and moved to Australia when we were 15. I was gutted! Honestly, we haven't spoken as often as we should have done, but when we do it's like nothing has changed and I love that. The year before last she stayed with me for a couple of nights at home and I loved having my childhood bestie back! We keep in touch via Facebook and I can't wait for the next time she visits. I love this picture of her... her dress is amazing.

The Only 'Group' That I Hang Out With

Emily, Rachel, Maisie and Lottie are four girls that I can hang out with any day of the week, with or without make-up, and not feel left-out or like I'm being judged or like there is bitchiness there, which is quite rare when it comes to girls! I met them in Freshers' Year at university as Rachel and Mai were on my course and Lottie and Emily lived with them. I didn't really feel like I had anything in common with my flat-mates so I spent a lot of time with them instead and even to this day, almost every Monday I have a place to stay at Emily and Lottie's house. Rachel has moved for her year abroad in Canada so it's been hard to stay in touch, and the same goes for Maisie in Spain, but when it comes to these girls whether I sleep over every Monday or Skype them from the other side of the world once every couple of months I know that they'll always be there for me and I hope they know that I'm here for them too. They're lush!


Last, but certainly not least, is my best-friend-who's-a-guy, Andrew. He used to hate me and I used to think he was an irritant when we first started High School. But when we turned 14 we went on a school trip to Belgium and I guess we really hit it off! There's nothing I wouldn't tell him and he really is the sort of friend who forgives me all my faults (and I do the same for him of course...) as we have definitely had our ups and downs. He drives me up the wall sometimes and I'm sure I do the same to him, but at the end of the day, he's kind of like a brother to me, so eventually even if I'm really annoyed with him, I have to put up and shut up, forgive and forget, and carry on as before. I do love him to pieces though. Andrew has seen me at my worst, through heartbreak, disappointment, super happy times (A-level results day anyone?), a two week Walt Disney holiday when everyone else was headed to Greek islands riddled with chlamydia-infested teens and one or two particularly heavy nights out when we were a bit younger and I've done the same the other way round! We ended up at the same university after I wrote it on my UCAS application form on his recommendation and I somehow feel that we'll always end up following each other around in this way, although he has given me a year off by being on his year abroad in Spain. I love Andrew.

My Travelling Pals

This summer I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of people from all over the world as we took on the USA together. We were from a range of ages and backgrounds and we're all different in our own little ways, and yet these people became my (albeit slightly dysfunctional) family while I was away. I'm so happy to have met them all, and knowing I have close friends in Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Wales, England, China and the USA makes me so happy :)

See what I mean when I say they are mostly individuals that I tend to be friends with, rather than groups? It just suits me better, I don't know why!

Haha, anyway, I'm pretty sure you know enough about my magical fantastical life... I might run a quiz to make sure you've been paying attention... Only joking. Maybe. NOT. No, seriously I'm only joking. I'm hilarious. I guess you had to be there... :)

Do you hang out in groups or with individuals? Have you ever been in a situation where you've become almost like family with someone you've only known for a short period of time? Are you as close to your family as I am with mine?



Thursday, 16 August 2012

My Different Sites...

Please bear with me while I'm making so many big changes to my page... In the meantime, go check out my other pages... 

Love and kisses


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Social Networking 101: Blogging Inspiration #1

This is a list of my Blog Idols or Blog Crushes... Blogs that make me cringe with jealousy that they are so professional, interesting and pretty to look at and make me want to do better! There's nothing like a bit of healthy competition, so without much ado I'm going to let you in on my little secrets...


I adore...

   So I might be a teensy bit biased seeing as the blogger is my bestie Victoria Measures, but this blog is really great to while my spare minutes away browsing. She posts hundreds of pretty photos each month, writes about people that inspire her and gives updates on her day-to-day life including fashion hauls, competition wins and DIY craft products. She's One To Watch if you ask me, so head over there and take a look!

Fleur has a great blog but the real 'win' of her work in my opinion are her YouTube channels. She posts frequent fashion hauls, make-up and nail tutorials and beauty reviews really frequently at her Main Channel and I often watch them early in the mornings during breakfast or something. Fleur has such a nice conversational style that her videos are really easy to watch! Plus, if like me you are uber-nosy then Fleur has a great Vlog About Her Personal Life too! Here's just one example...

Elle and Blair

These two sisters were the girls that got me into blogging and vlogging! Elle, the older sister, started making videos of herself in her bedroom years ago with an average camera and minimal editing. She got her sister involved and now they both have a couple of channels each, as well as their website where not only do they post features on beauty products, fashion brands and competitions they're loving, but readers can also talk to each other on their forums and shop tons of girly essentials in their online store Glitzy Glam. Elle posts great haul videos like this;

And Blair is the BEST at make-up tutorials;

I wish I was a Fowler girl!

This is one of the most beautiful 'real life' girls I've ever seen (meaning she's not a famous super-model, actress or musician) AND she has the most amazing clothes collection I've ever seen. I would kill for just five minutes in her wardrobe, no joke! If I'm ever lacking in a bit of fashion inspiration, I know I can head over to her page and 'borrow' one of her looks with my own clothes and look classy, sexy and chic all at once. She's my ultimate, go-to, blogging, fashion idol. Be prepared for the lushness.


This is another video blogger who I like checking out on one of those days where I'm exhausted and just want to spend the day in bed under the duvet getting ideas to make me look hot! Of course, Andrea's videos are perfect for this as she's extremely gorgeous in a very natural way :) Furthermore, she's absolutely hilarious and never fails to make me smile. She has really clever ideas about home remedies for lots of different problems that girls might have... Dark underarms? Acne scars? Various uses for salt? AndreasChoice has you covered! As if that's not enough, she's really nice too and Tweets, comments and emails back as often as possible.

Sarah is a jewelry designer and blogger which I love above all others (apart from those in this list which naturally I love equally!) Her jewelry is so cool and unusual in lots of cute little styles. My favourite piece in her collection is this little bird cage necklace, but sadly it sold out before I had times to get my hands on it! The pieces are very reasonably priced and so many people would compliment your bling if you were wearing Temporary Secretary. A busy bee, Sarah's blog is awesome too to the extent where she actually won Look magazines prestigious blog competition. As with Andrea, Sarah is really sweet and she is always happy to answer comments and Tweets if my experience is anything to go by. Seriously one worth following.


So, those are my top favourite bloggers and vloggers so far! I literally find new favourites every day, so if you think I'm seriously missing out on one which you think I would love as much as the ones listed above then let me know... It's quite a challenge though! I seriously believe in sharing the love and congratulating girls (or guys) on their blogs when they're doing a great job, because even with my few viewers I know how much work goes into a blog. So, well done ladies!

I advise all readers to click on the above links and rate, comment, like, follow and subscribe to them... I promise, your fashion sense, beauty regime and lifestyle will thank you for it :)


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

City Review: Las Vegas

When I initially planned my trip to the USA I had two dates to choose from... one meant that I would be in Las Vegas on the fourth of July, the other, didn't! Well, considering that the fourth of July is one of the USA's biggest national holidays, celebrating their independence, I could hardly toss up a night at the biggest party location on the biggest party date the US has to offer could I???

After driving for hours and hours in anticipation of the bright lights, as we saw the famous Vegas strip growing from a tiny dot on the desert's horizon to a booming metropolitan collection of casinos, bars and hotels, I couldn't help but inexplicably scream, 'Vegas baby!' I was so psyched it was unreal. Imagine my ecstasy when after spending the previous few nights roughing it on US campsites, we were told that our next accommodation was situated in the world-renowned Stratosphere hotel. I nearly burst!

The Stratosphere boasts and 80,000 square feet casino, six restaurants, a swimming pool, a salon and spa combo AND a mini theme part on top of its 1,149 foot tower. Literally, the hotel is like a mini city.
We only had a couple hours in which to get ready, so I rushed up to my bedroom and turned the bath on. While the hot water was running I marvelled at my family-sized room, looking out at my view of Vegas and the Stratosphere tower. Within the next few hours, I'd poured myself into a obscenely short and tight lilac bodycon dress (only in Vegas...) and headed out with four cans of Red Bull in tow due to my exhaustion from spending my day trekking the desert. Needless to say the Red Bulls were washed down with a couple of splashes of vodka in hotel-room pre-sesh.

We had all paid the extra to go on a limo tour of Vegas so we headed down to the lobby of the Stratosphere. Seriously, in Vegas everyone feels like a star, but I felt even more fab as heads turned in the casino as we strutted past and hopped into our stretch hummer. Inside we were greeted with a state-of-the-art sound system blaring the coolest chart tunes, a mini-pole (too small to practice any of the tricks I picked up at the British Pole Dance Academy, sadly) and a few bottles of champers. Needless to say, the party had well and truly started.

The first stop on our journey was the world-famous Fremont Street. This is one long street which features a huge screen canopy which stretches from one side to the other displaying images and flashing lights like you've never seen before. As it was the fourth of July, as well as the usual bars and casinos which are open daily, there were also three huge stages along the street, each featuring 80's music cover bands. If you know me, then you know that the 80's is my absolute favorite era of music so I was in my element, pounding my dancing feet, shimmying my shoulders and giving the odd crafty wink to the lead singers in exchange for some Mardi Gras-style beads. I distinctly remember bouncing away to Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi, Jump by Van Halen and Message in a Bottle by The Police, just three of my favorite songs of all time. I'll never forget the carefree feeling I had dancing and drinking on Fremont on the fourth of July.

All too soon though, our time on Fremont Street was over. So we jumped back into the limo and headed to the Vegas sign for some fantastic photo opportunities. After much posing, we stopped at a petrol station to (rather classily) make use of their restroom facilities, because us ladies with just bursting. Once again we headed off in the limo to only God-knew-where.

Pulling up outside the lobby for the up-market Bellagio hotel just in time to catch their spectacular fountain dance with the backdrop of the Paris hotel Eiffel Tower icon. I will admit, I went into the Bellagio under the pretence of 'needing to use the rest-room' but really I just wanted to see how deliciously luxurious the hotel was. I was not at all disappointed as the whole lobby smelt of flowers and the golden glow of the lights bathed the shiny marble flooring. Just gorgeous.

By this point it was only about midnight, and we were nowhere near ready to turn in just yet. So you're in Vegas, you're part of a slightly intoxicated group and none of you want to gamble... what do you do? Head to the classiest strip club in Nevada of course! After making the executive decision to barter with the manager, I got my negotiation hat on. They wanted to charge us $28 each just for entry, and drinks were going to be about $16 for a shot and a mixer!!! No, no, that's not right.

I explained that we were a bunch of 14 horny tourists, who would rather spend money on dances than entry and drinks. Eventually I managed to get the guy to knock the price down to $25 INCLUDING two drinks each! Winner. That means I saved my group $35 each. Great success :) Naturally, none of us paid for a dance. However, most of us gave the lovely ladies a tip or two and a great night was had by all.
After getting a taxi back to our hotel at about 5am, we just about dropped dead onto our fluffy king-sized matresses and stayed that way until 10am at which point we were hanging-hungry and just had to go out and explore daytime-Vegas.

We hadn't quite factored in how unbearably hot it can be in Vegas, so our very noble ambitions of walking the whole strip rapidbly became more realistic as we strolled to our neighbouring hotel Circus Circus for a burger before heading back to the Stratosphere. It seems Vegas during the day is pretty much the same as Vegas at night, and considering the fact that none of us had enough money to go shopping, we decided a nap was in order so that we could enjoy the next night.

Once naps were over, I grabbed a (very average) burrito in the hotel food court area and we all headed up to the Stratosphere tower to check out the rides. Thankfully, because we were Stratosphere hotel guests, we didn't have to pay to go up the tower. This saved us a whopping $18 each. Great success. The main aim of going to the tower? Watch the boys jump off the top. Literally, they wanted to bungee from the top of the tower. I'm glad in a way that there was no space on the bookings form because I definitely would have lost my nasty burrito from nerves sickness watching them! As the boys couldn't take the leap, they decided that we ALL had to do Big Shot, the 160 foot freefall ride on the Stratosphere, for which they very kindly paid the $15 ticket fee for is. Isn't it lovely being spoilt by Aussies?

The rest of the night was spent in much the same way as the previous night at Fremont Street's bars. Obviously my stamina isn't what it should be as I was exhausted after 1am so headed back and hopped back into my beautiful bed. The next morning we left Vegas at 8am, so I was glad I'd got a good night's sleep as they Grand Canyon was the next stop.

Vegas was exactly as I expected it would be. Bright, brassy, brilliant. One thing I wasn't expecting was the fact that anything you would do in Vegas at night can also be done during the day, which means that if you're going out at night you really don't feel so bad about sleeping all day. Something else which a couple of members from our trip had to learn the hard way, is that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas... Do with that information what you will!

Have you ever been to Vegas? How would you imagine it being? Do you think you'd enjoy it? I didn't expect I would love it as much as I did to be honest, as I'm not usually a big goer-outer-er, but Vegas is oh-so-different.

Love and kisses