A geek’s guide to online dating: your profile picture.

I’ve been dabbling in online dating this year.  It’s been an *ahem* interesting experience.  I’ve met some fantastic people, and some not-so-fantastic people.  I’ve been on more first dates in this year than I have in my entire adult life.  And it’s been eye-opening.

I truly believe that online dating can be awesome.  It’s a great way to meet new people and broaden your horizons, particularly if you are shy or live in an area where the dating pool is sparsely populated (I tick both boxes).

However it’s easy to make mistakes.  I know, because I’ve made plenty.  So I thought that it might be cool to share some of my do’s and don’ts for online dating, so that you don’t make the same mistakes I have.  I’m hoping to make this into a series, and it seemed logical to kick off with a post about your profile picture.

Keep in mind that a lot of the tips here are based on my own personal opinion.  You may entirely disagree with me and that’s cool.  A lot of them are directed towards men because generally that’s who I’m looking at when I’m browsing online matches.  I do look at women too, but not as often.  So I apologise if these tips are male-centric.

Profile pictures- What not to do

  • The first one is so obvious I can’t believe I have to say it: make sure you’re in your profile picture.  I have seen profile pics that are everything from a cup of coffee, to a guitar and even a picture of Bilbo Baggins.  And I never click on those ones.  Why?  Because I have no clue about the person behind them.  People are visual creatures, and they want to see the person they will potentially be chatting with.  Even if you’re shy taking a picture of yourself, actually having your face on your profile will dramatically increase the likelihood that someone will read your profile.
  • If there is more than one person in your profile picture, make sure it’s obvious which one is you.  I see so many people who use group shots as their profile picture. Or worse- pictures of them with their exes.  I’m a busy girl, and I’m not going to take the time to try to figure out which one of the peeps in the picture is you.  You should be the star of the picture.
  • Don’t use a professional headshot as your profile picture.  I get it, you want to look as good as possible to attract a potential mate.  But a professional shot makes it look like you’re trying way too hard.  A simple selfie is fine and makes you seem more approachable.
  • Make sure that your face is clearly visible.  No blurry shots, no back-of-the-head shots and none of those weird eyes-and-forehead crops.  Show your whole face.  All of it.  I want to see who I’m talking to.
  • Don’t take your profile picture in bed.  It just reads as sleazy.  Ditto shirtless pics.
  • Don’t be holding a gun in your profile picture.  To me it’s a major turn-off for two reasons: 1. I’m really anti-hunting and 2. It makes me wonder if you’re a serial killer.

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Profile picture- Things to try

  • Inject a little personality into your profile picture.  For example, if you like to travel you could use a picture of yourself from your latest adventure.  Into animals?  Choose a pic of you with your furry friend.  Even something quirky and geeky like wearing a fandom tee shirt can really speak volumes about who you are and what you like.
  • Use a picture where you are dressed nicely, as you would for a coffee date.  That way you look presentable and approachable without being too over the top.  (If you normally wear full makeup and a cocktail dress for a coffee date, that’s also fine.  Best to be real).
  • A word about cosplay photos: I’m a cosplayer and I get psyched when I meet someone who is also into cosplay.  But I’m iffy about using a cosplay picture as my main profile pic.  The reason for this is that you don’t really look like “you”; you look like a caricature.  By all means, add some of your wicked cosplay snaps to your albums, but I’d hesitate to use one as your profile picture.
  • Don’t be pressured to smile in your profile picture.  I mean, a smile is nice but if you aren’t a typically smiley person then don’t feel like you need to paste a fake grin on your face for the picture.

I think the best advice I can give you is to choose a picture that accurately represents who you are.  That way when people are flicking through loads of profiles they will have a good idea of what you’re about and you’ll be more likely to snag the interest of a like-minded person.

 

Do you have any questions about online dating you would like me to answer?  What do you think my next post in this series should cover?

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Practicing yoga on a budget.

I’ve harped on about my love of yoga often in this space.  It’s my favourite way to move my body and I love encouraging other people to give it a try.  I’ve already written about how yoga has helped me with my depression and how it can be used to encourage body confidence.  Another reason that I adore yoga is that it needn’t be an expensive practice.  You don’t need to shell out loads of cash for equipment or gym memberships to revel in the benefits of a yoga practice.

To begin or grow your yoga practice, there are very few things that you need.  And most of them can be found very cheaply or for free if you know where to look.

Yoga basics. Cat optional.

 

Yoga mat

Yoga mats have become really popular,  but the truth is that you don’t strictly need one.  I practiced for months before I bought a mat.  The reason I got the mat in the first place is that I wanted to practice outdoors and a mat gave me a clean, stable surface to work on.  If you’re practicing indoors you probably don’t even need a mat.  However, if you find that the floor is too rough, hard or slippery you can use a towel or even a folded blanket to stretch out on.

 

Clothes for yoga

Although a yoga offers a great excuse to stock up on stretchy pants and racer-back tanks, these fancy duds won’t improve your practice.  All you really need are some comfortable clothes that you can move easily in.  I’m sure you’ve got a pair of leggings or shorts and a tee shirt kicking about in your wardrobe that will do the trick.

 

Blocks

A lot of classes use blocks to help students to ease into different poses.  The blocks are a great way to give you a bit more space and support when learning new poses.  If you can’t quite reach the floor, you just pop a block under your hand to bring the ground up to you.  Blocks can also be used to support knees in lunge poses, to sit on to give your hips more space to open and many other uses.  If you don’t have a block, a couple of thick books will do just as well.  Dictionaries are ideal.

 

Bolsters

Bolsters are used for restorative yoga to offer support and comfort in resting poses.  I made my own bolsters for about $5 using and old pair of pajama pants.  I just cut the legs off the pants, sewed both ends together and stuffed them.  If you aren’t handy with a needle and thread, a folded-up blanket or towel can be used in place of a bolster.

 

Straps

If you’re working on improving your flexibility, a strap can be really helpful.  Just loop it over your feet and hold onto the ends and work your hands slowly down the strap, trying to reach a bit further each day.  Your wardrobe is probably stocked with items that can be used instead of a strap: ties, belts and scarves all work well.  Choose something that doesn’t have a lot of stretch to it and which won’t tear under pressure.

 

Instruction

Joining a gym or attending regular yoga classes can be very pricey.  But you can cultivate a home practice using the awesomeness that is Youtube.  There are literally thousands of free yoga classes on Youtube which you can access in your very own home.  My favourite channels are Yoga with Adriene, Psychetruth and Leigha Butler.  Both Yoga with Adriene and Psychtruth have a range of videos targeted at different levels, whereas Leigha Butler’s channel is a bit more advanced.  But have a browse and experiment with different videos until you’ve found some that you like.

 

So you see, you don’t have to be flush with cash to get into some asanas and pranayama.  Just use what you have and develop a practice that suits your lifestyle.

 

Pssst!  You might also like to read my tips for improving your yoga practice.

 

Sweet potato fritters recipe.

Wow, it’s been ages since I posted a recipe on my blog. I’m trying really hard to get back into cooking this year in a bid to eat a bigger range of foods.  I’m also trying out some different ways to cook some of my favourite vegetables, to include a bit more variety in my diet.

One of the most delicious vegies around is the humble sweet potato. Not only does it taste great, but it’s low in fat and sodium, it contains loads of vitamins (B6, A and C to name a couple) and is a rich source of potassium.  It is also low GI, which means that it will give you sustained energy and keep you feeling full longer.

I usually serve my sweet potatoes as chips or roast them in the oven for a delicious side dish.  But last week I decided to have a go at creating some pan-fried sweet potato parcels.  These yummy fritters are so easy to make, they are vegan and gluten free and they taste scrumptious.  I like to serve mine as a side with pan-fried tofu or some salmon.  They also go down a treat when slapped between a bun and layered with salad and a slice of cheese for a delicious burger.

You can make the mixture and keep it in the fridge for up to 48 hours until you are ready to cook it.  This recipe makes about 6 patties.  You might also like to adjust the spices and herbs used to suit your own tastes.

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Sweet potato fritters (makes 6)

Ingredients

2 cups sweet potato

4 spring onions

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

1 teaspoon parsley

1 tablespoon sesame or coconut oil.

Method.

– Peel and dice the sweet potato and cook in a pot of boiling water until soft.

– Using a fork, mash the sweet potato and set aside.

– Finely slice the spring onions and add to the mashed sweet potato, along with the spices.

– Heat the oil in a frying pan.

– Using your hands, roll the sweet potato mixture into balls.  Each ball should use about 1-2 tablespoons of mixture.  You can adjust the size of the fritters if you wish.

– Place the fritters in the frying pan over a medium heat.  Use a spatula to press the fritters flat in the pan.  Cook until browned, and then flip and cook on the other side.

– Serve and enjoy!

If you wish, you might like to add an egg to the mixture to help it to bind together a bit better.  You may also like to add some other vegetables, such as peas or diced carrot, to the mixture to change the flavour.

Let me know if you’d like to see more recipes on the blog.  I’d be happy to share my cooking exploits if you’re interested.

Disney Villains Makeup tutorial: Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I’ve all but retired my Disney Villains Makeup tutorial series.  Although it was a lot of fun to begin with, in the last few months I just haven’t felt inspired to keep it going.  I was really struggling to think up ideas and I just felt it was better to leave it be than to try to force myself to film more videos that I wasn’t happy with.

That is until last week.  I got a comment on one of my videos requesting a tutorial inspired by Oogie Boogie, the Bogeyman from The Nightmare Before Christmas. And all of a sudden my mojo was back!  I leaped at the chance to create a seasonal look inspired by one of my all-time favourite movies.

For this look, I wanted something ghostly and gothic.  I chose a few shades of green and blended them together to create a striking eye.  I used a khaki colour that was reminiscent of Oogie’s sack-cloth body, but added a pop of day-glo green that reminded me of the glow-in-the-dark colours in his lair.  I’ve been dying to use a black lipstick for one of these looks, and it was the perfect way to pay homage to Oogie Boogie’s gaping maw.

I’ve actually worn this makeup a few times now.  I like the punk feel this look has.  If you feel that it’s a bit over the top, you can always wear a slick of clear gloss on your lips and just play with the green eyeshadow.

 

If you’d like to request a makeup tutorial, please feel free to get in touch with me.  Have fun playing with this look and let me know if you try it out for yourself.

Christmas link round-up.

Ho Ho Ho!  I’ve gone through my archives and pulled out some of my most awesome Christmas posts for you to read through. So grab a chilled eggnog or a hot cup of cocoa and work through this fabulous list of links from Christmases past.

 

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-Last year I wrote a cheesy poem to wish everyone a happy holiday.

 

– Here’s a Christmas Tag vlog where I talk about my favourite Christmas movies and treats, as well as some of my family traditions.

 

– Are you cash-poor this Christmas?  Never fear, I’ve got plenty of ideas for having a very thrifty Christmas that won’t break the bank.

 

– What do you want for Christmas?  Take a look at my wish lists from 2013 and 2012.

 

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– I love Christmas baking. I’ve got recipes for Gingerbread, Snickerdoodles and chocolate truffles for you to make at home.

 

– Check out my Christmas party makeup tutorial for a festive look.

 

– Do you stress out during the holidays?  You’re not alone.  Here are my tips for stressing less so that you can enjoy the silly season.

 

– If you’re still bah-humbugging, then check out my suggestions for non-cheesy ways to get into the Christmas spirit

 

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-Here’s a cute story about how I believed in Santa until I was 12.

 

-Still struggling with your Christmas shopping?  I’ve got a whole series of posts devoted to buying the perfect present for your parents, friends, siblings, lovers and people you’ve never met.

 

– Are you unsure what to wear on Christmas day.  Check out these style guides from 2010 and 2011 for some inspiration.

 

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If you have any awesome links that you’d like to share, leave them in the comments.  Also, if there is a topic that you’d like me to cover, just let me know.  I’d be happy to oblige.

Building a work wardrobe

When I began my first full-time job, I faced a fashion dilemma.  This was the first time I’d worked in a place that didn’t have a uniform, and I would be free to choose my own clothes for work every morning.  What joy!

My excitement was quickly dampened when I spent the initial hours of each morning fretting over what to put on my body.  I would stand in front of my open drawers scrutinizing each item and struggling to put together an outfit.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough suitable clothes, the problem was that I had TOO MUCH CHOICE.  I was overwhelmed by the options.

I decided that the best way to tackle this would be to create a “work wardrobe”.  I went through my current wardrobe with an eagle eye and pulled a selection of items that were work-appropriate.  I then bought a few basic-but-classic items to mix in with them.  My work wardrobe solved my daily “what to wear” dilemma and left me with enough extra time each morning to have another cup of tea before heading out the door.

If you’re facing a similar sartorial debacle, don’t worry.  Today I’m going to share my tips for putting together a work wardrobe that is practical and stylish.

Work wardrobe

 

First of all, remember that less is more.  You want to create a capsule wardrobe of carefully-chosen pieces.  You want enough to create a full week’s worth of outfits and not much more.  If you add too many items to your working wardrobe, you’ll be overwhelmed by choice.

 

My own working wardrobe contains a skirt, a pair of trousers, two dresses, three blouses and one jumper.  Everything matches everything else, so I can mix-and-match outfits from this selection.

 

To start with, choose simple block colours that team well together.  Look for crisp lines and simple pieces.  If you can’t resist a beautiful print, select a well-made blouse or jumper that can be worn with a plain skirt or trousers.  Dresses are also a great way to experiment with prints, because you don’t have to worry about matching them with anything; they’re an outfit all on their own.

 

Make sure that you select pieces that suit your body and that you feel comfortable in.  You’re going to spend a large portion of your week in these things, so make sure you feel great in them.

 

You don’t have to spend a fortune on your work wardrobe.  Look for items in your existing collection that will work.  I would recommend spending a bit more cash on some nice trousers or a simple skirt and then adding a few trendy blouses for each season.  Your basics will last longer and look more polished if you spring for good-quality versions.

 

Although it might seem boring to wear the same things every week, there’s an awesome way to dress up your work wardrobe.  Accessories will be your saving grace.  Never underestimate the power of an amazing pair of shoes, a gorgeous brooch or a unique scarf.  Use your finishing touches to change the look of your work wardrobe and bring a touch of personality to your outfits.

 

Don’t forget that you can still experiment with your hair and makeup to change your look.  I had loads of fun sporting victory rolls and red lippie with my basic work wear.

 

Resist the urge to add new items to your work wardrobe.  If items become worn-out, then replace them as necessary.  You might also like to add a few seasonal pieces, such as lighter-weight blouses for summer or pretty cardigans in winter.  Be selective about what you add to your work wardrobe, because if you make too many additions you will be swamped with options and you’ll eliminate the purpose of creating a capsule wardrobe.

 

I’ve found that having a work wardrobe made getting ready in the morning so much easier.  It saved loads of time and I knew that each day I walked out the door looking polished and put-together.

 

Do you have a work wardrobe?  What do you like to wear to work?

Halloween 2014: Welcome to Pleasantville.

I know it’s still a few day’s before Halloween, but as usual I got into the spirit early.  I held my annual Halloween party last Saturday.  It was a fairly subdued affair, with only a few guests.  But those who attended had an awesome time scoffing lollies and playing Silent Hill with the lights out.  Spooky!

This year I opted for a more glamorous Halloween costume than what I would usually go for.  The past few years I’ve dressed as The Joker and Corpse Bride, so it was a nice change to wear something that wasn’t quite so gruesome.

I took my inspiration for this year’s costume from the film Pleasantville and also from the work of drag queen Detox iCunt.  I have been playing around with special effects makeup a lot lately, and I wanted to see if it was possible to make it look like I was in black and white using only makeup and clever wardrobe choices.

I’m pretty flippin’ happy with how this turned out.

My costume didn’t photograph all that well.  While I still like the pictures, I feel that the effect was much more striking in person.

I did have loads of fun putting this outfit together.  I had originally thought that I would use a wig, but I couldn’t find one that I really liked.  In the end I twisted my real hair up into victory rolls and a french roll at the back and they sprayed the heck out of it with black hairspray.  It didn’t budge all night, but my hair did feel awfully helmet-like.

For the makeup, I mixed a very light grey body paint and used this over my face and any exposed skin.  As is typical of store-bought face paints, it was extremely difficult to apply a smooth and even layer.  One day when I’m rich, I’d love to try this look again with some professional quality products to see the difference.  I set the paint with a generous layer of Smashbox Photo Set Finishing Powder.

Then came the fun part.  It was so weird doing my makeup all in shades of black and grey.  I started with my eyes, creating a slightly smoked eye with a selection of blacks and greys.  I used a gel liner to create a big wing at the corner of my eye.  I was very generous with my mascara and was sure to add a lick of waterproof grey liner in the waterline of my eye to cover up the skin there.

For my lips I used the NYX cosmetics Macaraon lipstick in Chambord.  I am head over heels with this lip colour, and I now want to wear it as part of my every day look.  My only complaint is that it is a very emollient lipstick which tends to slip and slide all over the place.  I used a black eye liner to line my lips and a lip fixer over the top, but it still shifted all about.  Ah well, it was only $4 so I really can’t complain.

I coloured in my brows with a black eyeshadow and a stiff angled brush.  Then I used a mid-grey colour to contour my cheeks, jaw and brow.  I added a well-blended swipe of MAC chromagraphic liner to the bridge of my nose, my brow bone and the tops of my cheeks for a bit of highlight.

Even though my party wasn’t big or elaborate, I had a brilliant time.  It was awesome to catch up with some of my favourite people and just chill out.

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?  Are you having a party this year?