Wednesday, 31 August 2016

HOW TO: YouTube Thumbnails! 📷

Thumbnails! I've just gone through and updated all my thumbnails because up until recently I'd been using the ones given by YouTube.

I've always wondered: how do YouTubers make your thumbnails? Do they use photos or still shot? Do they have text (the title) or not?

I've been using PicMonkey and using a picture (or 2 or 3) taken from the day. I've loved using and playing around with the overlays feature. I was torn on whether to include the title but I went ahead and did it to add a little pop of colour in some of the thumbnails. Here are a selection of the variety of types I made.

The first one I did was my most recent video from Morocco and it's probably the simplest. I kind of want to go back and start again but I think I've wasted enough time because I've been doing it for the past two days. I took the only picture of all three of us from the holiday and then simply resized it before adding the title in simple black, clear font.

After that, I spent ages on my birthday vlog because I wanted it to be special but I wanted a picture of me in my balloon hat. It took forever and it's not perfect but I'm relatively happy with the result. I had to add a few overlays with the pictures and erasing the background on those took forever especially with the intricate balloon parts. I do now realise that the writing is probably in a too light of a colour but it's pretty fun to brighten it up.
I love this one. It's pretty simple and I just took one picture, added the title and slanted it and put in some cute hearts which match the onesie. But I may be a little bias because it has baby Hallie in it.
The very first videos I posted (more so quick clips) were from so long ago, I don't have any good quality images so for them I did something a little different. I just used stills from the YouTube provided thumbnail, added some colours with the title and then used PicMonkey's free stamps to cover in the black sides or repeated the same image in mirrored form to fit the screen.
  
Doing the holiday thumbnails was the most fun. I did the Paris vlogs first and I was super happy with how they turned out! I added a picture in the background and then one of two overlays. I think this one is my favourite where I left a little background to the Eiffel Tower up.
For my Egypt vlogs, I had lots of pictures to choose from so I put a landscape one in the background and then added an overlay. It kind of looks like both these pictures are taken together but in fact, both are two combined. I'm impressed!
 
Granted, this one doesn't quite look as good as I remember thinking it did at first but I'm still impressed. After adding an overlay I messed around with the colour balance for a while because the water show obviously wasn't in the pool but I wanted to put in a colourful background image so after contrasting, brightening and blending I think it turned out really well!
At this point I realised that I could change the colour of the text again so I thought multiple colours fit perfectly with the image and title of this vlog. Unfortunately, I used a still from the vlog so it isn't quite a clear picture but I thought it still looked super cute, bright and fun!
I then put all those skills into one and added a background image, then an overlay image which I blended and contrasted before adding the multicolour title to tie in with the outfits. S Club 7 were always a fun band growing up and that's what their concert was all about so I wanted the thumbnail to reflect that.

I've also made it a little easier to access individual YouTube videos from my blog. On the top of the blog I now have multiple pages. The first has all my blog posts and the second has my YouTube background as well as a list of videos in chronological order. I then have a separate page for Flashback Friday videos, concert videos, daily vlogs and finally holiday vlogs. Some of them repeat but it's just easier for me to split them up this way.

Let me know how you get on! I had lots of fun! :)

Monday, 29 August 2016

Naughty Boy Book Series 1-4 by Chance Carter (Review) 📚

Chance Carter is an author who I found on Facebook back at the start of the year. After signing up to be one of his Advanced Readers, I feel like I have gotten to know him quite a bit. I love that Chance interacts with his readers. As an advanced reader and part of his email group, I love hearing him talk about life from his perspective. He also gives great recommendations for other authors.

Not only that, but if anyone - anyone! - writes a review on the four books in his series, plus sends him a link to him via email, e.g. from Amazon or Goodreads or blog posts, he'll send a free story. At first I thought they were full length but it turns out they're short stories that follow on. So with book 1 review you get part 1 and so on. It's actually quite a clever way to get a reliable reviewing base but also it makes me want to review more because I'm now addicted to this other story. Unlike his main story characters, these characters are shy and reserved making it seem a little more lifelike to me. It also takes a maximum of 10 minutes to read so it's a perfect short story that you can stay engaged with and it's something that you can read last minute.
Bad Boy Daddy
Bad Boy Daddy is the first book in the Naughty Boy series and I literally couldn't put it down. I'd planned on doing so many productive things the day I read it but instead I read this in less than 24 hours.

I've never considered myself someone who would fall for the typical 'bad boy' but this book may cause me to reconsider. Not only is it addictive but unlike other 'erotic' novels, this tells a story. It has some hot and sexy scenes which are incredible and beyond descriptive, but the actual underlying plot is torturous for both Jackson and Faith alike. This is unlike anything I've read before and while the story flies a little too fast, leaving a few questions unanswered, I was falling more and more in love with Jackson by the second. This man who would do anything for his love and there is something remarkably romantic about his desire to keep her safe.

A well written book that got me hot under the collar...

Wife Me Bad Boy
Another fantastic book from Chance Carter and this time it was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was initially shocked that the story wasn't written from the perspective of Faith and Jackson but I actually really liked how this was a sequel with a difference. I've never seen that done before where the story continues with the same characters yet by writing from other characters, within the plot, side of the story; we still get to listen to those we've fallen in love with but from an entirely new perspective. We see how their friends view them. Honestly, in Bad Boy Daddy I'd never payed much attention to Grant so I love learning about his feelings and life.

The story picks right up from where the first finished, with Faith and Jackson's wedding, so when Grant propositions Lacey she can't refuse even though the consequences could ruin everything forever. With so much turmoil going on between the pair, Lacey turns elsewhere to find her happiness. But watching the pain she goes through, Grant changes his mind on his life's decision and becomes a true protector, romantic through and through.

One of my favourite things about the book though is the deeper meaning behind a lot of the story. I love that Chance tells women to be themselves and not to change for anyone. 'All women are beautiful and curves are HOT!'

Most Eligible Baby Daddy
Another day, another book. The third in the series again follows the same pattern as the previous two where the characters are linked but tells the story of Forrester, admittedly one of the strangest names perhaps given because of his tree-trunk like appearance, and his girl Elle.

With plenty of surprises and cross-overs throughout, Chance has definitely written this series with a clever thought out plan because all the links are too much to be a coincidence. It's such a smart way to have a sequel without missing out on the characters we ended up falling in love with. At one point, I thought I would hate the ending but luckily the obstacles were overcome.

As a stand alone book I loved this but the series is getting a little repetitive. Boy meets girl, love at first site, no condom sex, pregnant, marriage. What happened to first comes love, second comes marriage and then comes the baby in the baby carriage?! I joke but seriously why are all these men so obsessed with having children so fast!

I'm a sucker for a romance but the last quarter of this book lacked any sort of romance and became a little boring. I thought it missed a number of opportunities to explore the relationship between Elle meeting the Brotherhood. While the post-pregnancy scene was sweet it was all very same-y, I would have liked to see something a little different. Not to mention factually incorrect given she's just had a baby... Maybe it missed some of the ideas from Fifty Shades.

My biggest negative is that we didn't find out the name of any of the three babies. I mean Faith and Lacey both had a girls; we meet them at the start in a beautiful scene that you can easily imagine and I fell in love with...a guy cradling two babies? *Swoon* Does it get any better?! Then at the end, the baby is literally just referred to as 'baby'. Not even genderised. Perhaps Chance is keeping his options open for future sequels but admittedly it's a little annoying.

Heart of the Hunter
For the first time, I didn't fall in love with Chance Carter's male lead. Hunter was just too bad of a bad boy and I just couldn't get past his incessant swearing. I mean seriously, stop. Especially in front of a 10 year old child.

I was happy that my prayers were answered in regards to the whole baby crazed fiasco and this relationship seems like it might have substance before the children. That was until I remembered they basically already have a child in Luke though.

While this was a different story entirely, it was defintely a flawed plot, especially in regards to adoptive grandmother, Grace. It's so strange how suddenly she changes her tune; she hates the guy when he's beating people up but suddenly loves him when she wakes up surrounded by dead bodies. Meanwhile, they even go so far as to forget about her. I was literally screaming at Luke and Kelly to remember Grace. What happened there? It seemed almost like a forgotten character which needed adding in again last minute. Crazy.

Overall
Despite the sometimes missing scenes, I do like the style of writing. I like the romantic side to his stories mixed with the dreamy fantasy life.

Chance Carter is a small author who loves interacting with his readers and even now, is currently exploring a new path. For the past month I have been receiving a personalised story in which he send me a chapter a day to enjoy and read. I'm loving it so far! The best thing is that I can make my own decisions in regards to where the story goes and Chance even asks for ideas for future scenes. The only thing I hate is that it's such a slow process. The suspense is killing!

If you are looking for something a little different to read, give Chance a chance and click on the link to buy the books on Amazon.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Teen Romance (Flashback Friday) 💑

This week's Flashback Friday is of my friend's 18th birthday party and I managed to record a few cute clips of Sophie and Elliot. In the meantime, it was close to christmas and hilariously, people were forced to act out the 12 days of christmas!
It was a super fun, fancy dress party :) Looking back this was actually one of my favourites!






And that is the last of the scheduled Flashback Friday's...mainly because I have no footage myself. I'm sure my dad and mum have a lot of of footage from when I was a baby and I know we have a lot of home videos so I hope to one day make them digital!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Choose Kindness in Brutality! 💭

With all the terrifying things going on in the world right now, I think we should all choose happiness and kindness.

Why do we suddenly have all these things going on the world. I don't feel safe, do you? At the end of the day this is the world we live in and this is our home. Despite all the differences in the world, despite all the difference between people, choose kindness. Choose to be the one who is the bigger person. Choose to be the better person.

I may not be the nicest person and I'm definitely not the nicest to family especially but I try to smile at everyone, I try to be polite and I try not to judge. If everyone in the world did that the world would be so much nicer. It's not everyone, in fact it's very few people and often it's those who have had a hard upbringing. Perhaps if one person chose to show them a little love, the set of actions triggered would have been different.

Honestly...

I'm scared. I know this has always gone in the world but it's becoming more frequent. And it's becoming closer to home. I'm not saying that lives lost elsewhere are okay but when it's on your doorstep, it rings home and it rings closer to home. America, Germany, France. What's next? England? London?

I don't want to be scared to leave the door. I don't want to be afraid of walking on the streets I live. It's forcing me to be more careful. To be more wary. To be more watchful. Is this what the world is now. A big scary place where everything could be a trap out to get you. I never realised how much I treasured the place I lived until it was threatens. I walked the streets of Paris just weeks before it was attacked. I travel the tubes that were bombed just years earlier.

One thing I do think is beautiful though is the solidarity shown by the countries as they light up world monuments in different colours to represent affected countries.

"Be the best version of yourself."

On a slightly more personal note, I'm trying to bring more happiness to my own little corner of the internet here so I'm opening up my blog to Guest Posters. If you have a blog or not and just love to right, feel free to click here to get to the application form (it's nothing serious just the easiest way to get response). There's also a lot more information there. Look forward to hearing from some of you!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

I'm a Mirina Girl! 💍

I can't believe I'm about to say this but I was recently contacted by a company called Mirina Collections to become a part of their program called Mirina Collections Ambassador Program. I am now officially apart of the group and I am so exciting for the opportunities this will bring.

To celebrate, I ordered a necklace from their Famous Necklaces collection called 'Audrina' and I couldn't wait to get it! Well it finally arrived and while it's nothing like my usual delicate jewellery it's a gorgeous statement necklace that will work perfectly to spice up any evening outfit and decorate the neckline.

I even have a discount for you guys so if you want anything from the site, use the code 'mirinagirls' to get 20% off. Click here now to head to their site. I'm not usually one to go for bigger pieces of jewellery but I fell in love with this one straight away. When I was deciding which one to buy, I just kept coming back to this one again and again.

The delivery took a long time and it ended up coming in a package from China which I was a little skeptical about at first but it ended up very securely packaged and it seems to be really well made!

If you have any questions be sure to leave them in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible or direct you to someone who does.

Monday, 22 August 2016

"Dive In!" August Birchbox: Unboxing and Review

Do you want your own Birchbox Subscription? There is no better time than now to sign up. Click here now and on the link below to get £5 free to spend at the Birchbox Shop as a bonus! I love getting a little surprise present in the mail each month. 


This month's Birchbox is a little different! Instead of a BirchBOX, it's a BirchBAG like in December. When this was announced, I was so excited because they look seriously gorgeous and so practical as a wash bag. Plus I loved the idea of recycling old diving suits. 

Unfortunately, it arrived very squished in a box envelope, the paper booklet that I love each month was folded and ripped and the bag itself has what looks like teeth marks in it. Opening it up I was defintely incredibly disappointed. 

On to the products!

Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo - £14.50
 I tend to buy products on the cheaper end of the price scale so while this is a little more than I would personally buy, I do surprisingly like this product. If you read my post on curling my hair, you'll notice I leave my curls in for a week - if not over! By the last couple of days, it defintely has seen better days in terms of greasy hair. Well I tried this very smooth product and I was thoroughly impressed! It does the job in my case without leaving any residue and it smells nice. It's impressive how easy it is to use and blend in.
Merci Handy Love & Hand Cleansing Gel: Black Vanilla - £2.90
Most hand sanitisers are probably pretty much the same as this. It smells okay; I got the Black Vanilla flavour and I personally tend to prefer the fruity scents instead. I do like the design of the packaging and the liquid itself is actually really pretty with the different coloured dots inside. Unfortunately, I'm in love with The Body Shop range because they're cheap, the perfect size, smell amazing and taste good. Ps. No I don't eat it but I usually sanitize my hands before and after eating and of course when you lick your fingers...hence.
Balance Me Congested Skin Serum - £16.00
I have suffered with acne for a long time and so I take prescription medications. It is finally in a manageable condition thanks to my skincare and make-up routine so I don't particularly like to mix it up. This might work on minor blemishes but as someone who suffers with acne it doesn't really do the job for me.
English Laundry Signature For Her EDP Spray For Women - £60.00
 For a person who never wears perfume, this wasn't at all overpowering and in fact it was very fresh smelling. If it's possible for a perfume to make you feel pretty this did. I felt very girly! It's a nice little treat and the perfect size to take on holiday. For the price, admittedly, it's a splurge treat so try and get a sample to make sure you like it first!


Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner: Mulberry - £10.50
I really can't work out this product. I love it and then I hate it. I picked the purple colour to mix it up but I'm still not sure on it. It really does open up my eyes and I love it on my water line underneath. It's smudge-able at first but after the first few minutes it completely dried and won't move. Mine lasted the full day with just two coats. I haven't managed to find a look which I like it with on the top water line yet but we'll see. For those who love a pop of colour, this is perfect!
Anatomicals The Buff Stuff Citrus Body Scrub - £3.99
I can't get over how cute this packaging. It's a really fun and lively scrub both in looks and job. It smells divine and even though it's not meant I can't help but smell watermelon. Fresh and pure. It's a really gentle exfoliation so perfect for just after a holiday when you want to keep that nice tan you worked so hard on. My only negative of this is that it is quite a small quantity and you need quite a lot of product to do a whole body so it doesn't last all that long.

Overall, despite the damage to the bag, the products themselves were very nicely selected. There was a massive range and they all have their own individually uses which is nice. Other than the packaging and damage, the only other negative I have is the colour. I received the pink colour. When I saw these bags the ONLY colour I said I didn't want was pink so it would have been nice to pick my own colour.

I can't wait to carry all my electronics to the pool and beach when I travel the world - eventually! - and keep them all dry and safe.

Do you get a Birchbox subscription? If yes, did you like this month's? If not, do you want one? Click here now to get £5 free to spend at the Birchbox Shop as a bonus!

Click here to read my other Birchbox posts: July, May, March, February, January and December.

P.S. I know I usually take my own pictures but given my accident in Morocco (click here to read all about it and here to see the vlog), I just haven't had time so all the product pictures are from the Birchbox website.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Kaiser Chiefs! (Flashback Friday)

The year I went to Silverstone to watch the British GP, F1, was the first time they had opened the pit lane up to visitors on the Thursday prior. That evening, I won tickets to the Kaiser Chiefs concert and had so much fun. Its crazy the difference in camera quality between then and now.

Click here to see the video. 

Scroll through for pictures.