Quarterly Media Editorial: Winter 2018

Hi everyone!
I hope you’ve all had a nice Easter. Spring has properly landed (or at least, this is as much as we are gonna get in the UK) and we are a quarter of the way into the year already, so it’s time for me to sum up my media consumption of the last few months in a handy blog post.
I thought that I should begin to include blogs and social media, perhaps. I have been wanting to do this for a while, but not sure where for now. I think it will be its own separate quarterly segment featuring small bloggers and influencers.
Here though, I’ll include my favourite ‘bigger’ YouTube channels, so to speak, because these days even channels with a moderate following can get buried so I hope that, as usual, reading this will help you discover something new.

Anime

Made in Abyss – A really cutely styled fantasy revolving around a seemingly bottomless pit called the Abyss. Well… it has surprisingly dark elements at times but that was kind of refreshing actually.
Spice and Wolf – with a medieval setting and an economically driven plot, Spice and Wolf was a surprising hit with me. The plot revolves around currency changes, of all things, which is not my strong point so I did have to get a friend to explain bits to me. Otherwise, there is a healthy splash of fantastical elements and overall, I really enjoyed this as something fresh and new.
Gurenn Lagann – We watched the movie at the anime society, which summed up the first half of the main televised series. I eventually got around to watching a bit of the anime myself as I really enjoyed the movie. It’s about humans fighting to live on Earth’s surface, using giant mechas, which didn’t sound like my kind of thing but was hugely enjoyable nevertheless. I actually enjoyed the movie more so far- whilst there were missing elements from the series skipped throughout, I much preferred the movie’s pace and I’m finding those parts of the series a little boring.

Films:

The only movie worth being in this section is Black Panther, to be honest. I’m not one to watch films in the cinema twice, usually, but to say this was fantastic would be a real understatement. I also watched The Greatest Showman and whilst I enjoyed it, it was missing that something to truly wow me.

Youtube:

I admit I don’t watch a lot of bloggertube, so to speak. I usually just stick to my favourite casual channels and watch whatever pops up on my recs, which often isn’t much.
Lisa Eldridge – With the rise of the ‘Insta glam’ makeup style I’ve really been craving more natural looks and overall simpler makeup. If you just want to learn the ins and outs of simple makeup, Lisa is the lady to go to. She has done magazine editorials, works for Lancome as Creative Director and also features other professional artists in the industry on her channel. Even from the most simple look, you can learn so much to apply to your own makeup.
Matilda – I am really enjoying Matilda’s video style which is completely her voice, over the products she mentions on a whiteboard – quite minimal! She does reviews of makeup and lip balms, and her videos are really short and sweet – a great appeal when I don’t want to sit through a twenty-minute video because I’d rather watch anime.

Music

As usual, here is a playlist containing all the songs in this Editorial! They’re all Korean. I did my best to sum up my favourite new listens of the last season although this doesn’t include the long phases of songs on repeat throughout.

I actually heard of Uhm Jung Hwa through her brother and niece being on Return of Superman. No way is she in her 50s. Excuse me while I google her skincare routine.
I’m still obsessed with LOONA, who have been so consistent in building up their Loonaverse with great music. I’m still left wondering – if all of this is only pre-debut stuff how blown away will I be by their official debut? My favourite member so far is Jinsoul with Chuu and Yves tied a close second and Kim Lip and ViVi tied for third!
These two songs have dominated the Korean charts over the last few months, so of course they’ve been played a lot! BOOM BOOM is fully elevated thanks to JooE in their live performances.
I admit I was quite skeptical of Ikon myself but this more chilled hip hop infused direction is probably their most popular style in Korea so it was a perfect choice to re-establish themselves after a long tour abroad.
Ko Ko Bop took more than half a year to properly grow on me and I completely slept on Rollin, but these two songs have had their moments on repeat whilst I did university assignments.

WJSN – Dreams Come True

This wouldn’t normally be my usual song style of choice (I tend to favour anything with a teen crush or not-cute concept) but I’ve slowly been getting into it. It was the performance of this song that truly got me, though. I love the point dances and how well dramatic the choreography is, especially Cheng Xiao’s chorus parts, the star point of Exy’s rap and the bridge/refrain. I know Secret is a popular favourite of their songs but I think I like this more.

Mamamoo – Starry Night
Got7 – Look
BoA – One Shot, Two Shot

Starry Night isn’t Mamamoo’s best, in my opinion, so I actually included it because the video is stunning and I love rewatching it. Got7’s Look, on the other hand, was okay at first but the dance really grew on me and the song soon after. One Shot, Two Shot is just plain catchy.

(Notable mentions are Havana, Cut to the Feeling, Like Paradise by Kriesha Chu, All Night by Long:D and Doyeon (of I.O.I and Weki Meki))

My music list changes so often throughout the months and even as I type, there are new releases from Olivia Hye of LOONA as well as WINNER (have you all SEEN Yoon’s hair, I died).

Check out some of my other music posts from the last few months:

Some Songs and an Attempt To Sum Up My Month

#Playlist: Ghosts

Until next time,

X

#Playlist: Ghosts

Hi everyone!

I wasn’t sure whether to do this or not, but I’m worried that my content is suffering these days and I’m not putting out the quality I want. So I want to be sure I’m taking time to work on them properly and making sure I am including all the information I want to. I know I finally got some photos and all, but along with uni work I’m struggling to get my words up to the standard I want.

So you probably won’t see another post this week and might just see less posting from me for a while depending on how these next few weeks go. I have a few events lined up to fill the week before the term ends, so that’s also quite exciting. It’s wild that I’m over halfway through my first year at university.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling like my music needs a bit more shaking up again whilst I work on this assignment for university. Before you ask… Did I dive down into a pit of music recommendations from YouTube that I actually liked? Yes, the answer is yes.

It’s inspired this playlist of recent discoveries with a dash of songs I felt just fit right in here. It’s not too upbeat. As much as I love my pop music, I have a soft spot for music that’s kind of whimsical and dreamy but there are also some very specific things I like. Sort of deep and mildly depressing and perhaps a soundtrack for the non-existent aimless midnight wander.

Today’s playlist is a mix of English language and Korean language tracks.

Ashmute (Korean)Ghost, Scenery, Inferno – I really like the dreamy feel coming from this trio, and how they play around with the pace of their songs. My favourite of these is Ghost but Scenery has really grown on me. K-Indie tends to be kind of hit-and-miss for me as I focus on sound rather than lyrics and a lot of K-Indie can sound similar to me, but this is really nice.

Kailee MorgueGhost of Mine, Medusa – I initially got some Melanie Martinez vibes from Morgue’s vocals on Ghost of Mine. I really like this kind of music – the kind that’s just really strange and haunting but not too deep like Ruelle’s Madness – I like that sound too but not all the time.

Bipolar SunshineDaydreamer – Well… This playlist could do with some happy. I’m definitely up for listening to more Bipolar Sunshine now that I have discovered them, this is a jam.

DJ SnakeMiddle (ft. Bipolar Sunshine) – It’s funny, I do love the odd DJ Snake track I come across but I always forget to dive into their discography. This is the most upbeat track on the playlist.

MothicaOut of It – In doing a little bit of research on Mothica I saw the words ‘gloom pop’. At last, a word for the genre of music I like. I’ll go searching later for songs under this umbrella, haha.

Sojung of Ladies’ Code (Korean)Crystal Clear – Sojung has one of the most distinctive voices in the mainstream K-Pop scene and I really miss Ladies’ Code and love their newer songs so it is lovely to hear her singing again. I want to hear her in a long with Lee Hi one day. I think their voices would resonate well together.

Heize (Korean) – Jenga – There’s something odd about the end of the hook that I really like. What is it, dissonance? It was odd but now I really like it. I first watched Heize on Unpretty Rapstar 2 for a bit and really liked her as well as Kitti B and Yubin.

Heyne (Korean) – Insomnia (Unofficial, included to omit the snoring in the official MV)|Official MV – Heyne’s unusual voice is what stopped this from being too boring for me. That and perhaps the fact that she’s actually 26-ish and looks (and sounds) younger than me!

Tei ShiNevermind The End (unofficial)|Official MV, Say You Do (unofficial)| Official MV – I’ve been listening a lot to these two tracks recently. They’re just really nice to loop.

FazerdazeLucky Girl – I’m hoping this is a nice choice to tie off the playlist as well as leading back to the beginning when I feel like it.

I hope you’ve discovered something that you like today. I’ll get back to writing my uni assignment now!

Until next time,

X

[Chatter] A Quiet Evening

I’m sure it happens to a lot of us.

I’ve noticed recently that I go through these phases of being very talkative, oversharing and social, then feeling very very quiet and reserved, and wanting to keep to myself as much as possible. Even now, I don’t feel like writing a lot. I don’t particularly feel like doing anything, actually.

Last night, I was having a bit of an ‘off’ evening where my mood was really low for no reason. I was struggling to take care of myself and had finally pushed myself into the shower, and forced myself to do my skincare and brush my teeth. As a bonus I even body-buttered myself. But on these days I also feel this strong urge of not wanting to sleep, and it was past midnight at this point.

This is a rather regular occurrence for me, by the way. I usually just try not to work against it and take some ‘me’ time without guilt and, when sleep takes over, the feeling lessens in the morning and I can take things from there. These phases pass. I am working on a long post about my depression, for later this month. In writing it, I realised how much this blog helped to track my emotions, so I do want to be talking more about my own emotions here.

Anyway.

I took out my deck of tarot cards. I was partly inspired by Alice’s post here, where she had her cards read, because it got me thinking, and reminded me that I have a set of cards. Do check out her blog – I find it very fascinating to read about her experiences living in Japan as someone who wants to live there one day or at least study abroad in Korea.

I’m not a heavy believer of tarot and I am obviously not a skilled reader. If anything, the cards present more questions than answers. However, I like to use them as a source of ideas and reflection, and they sometimes offer a new perspective on a problem I have.

I’ve been meaning to invest in a Rider-Waite deck and may actually get around to it soon. My current deck is just a small introductory one my friends picked out for a birthday once, but I really like the small size and its design.

A card that represents a part of my past that may be influencing my present

10 of Wands

Wands represent energy, growth and personal enterprise. The picture on this card depicts a man carrying a lot of sticks. I think it suggests a heavy workload. It brings to mind the idea of taking on too many new challenges and not being able to handle them all. Also, as you all know, I keep a lot of hobbies although I am not active with all of them at the moment, and this card is also making me think of that.

A card that represents the present situation –

Temperance, reversed

The image depicts a woman pouring something from jar to jar, amongst vines and a tortoise and a hare. It reminds me of how I like to be busy (the hare) but also need time to take it slow, like with my talkative and quiet periods (the tortoise).

Temperance means self-restraint. In particular, voluntary restraint or self-moderation. Mine is upside down, which could mean the opposite, or it could emphasise the normal meaning. To me, it means something is abnormal here. Am I too controlled or too uncontrolled right now?

I’m not fully sure what it could be referring to as there isn’t anything, in particular, I have been practising extra restraint or freedom in. Perhaps it could be about my mood, which is often out of my control and definitely was last night… but I find that to be too convenient of an interpretation, perhaps.

A card that represents an issue of the future

the King of Swords.

The picture depicts a king with grapes and a fox.

This card represents independent judgement and rationality, two things I can lack at times. Swords represent interaction, communication as well as intellectual pursuits, so I usually take the meaning in the context of work and study. This card suggests that I might improve in these aspects or that opportunites will arise in which I can, and this will be something that challenges me in the future.

A card that represents what can be done in the present to prepare for the future

2 of cups, reversed

The picture depicts a boy and girl holding a wine on which cups rest. SIGH. Cups in general represent the emotional and relationship side of life. I assume this card means relying on others for emotional support. This card could also be advising me to keep things light-hearted with a focus on relieving tension.

So, these were just a few things for me to think about and pass the time with. I’m always a little surprised at how applicable these can be and what I can learn from these despite not reading seriously.

Have you ever had a look at tarot card reading?

Until next time,

X

My Photography Process

As another one of the Twenty Swans’ 3 year specials, I am including my current process for taking photos as my draft got long enough that I thought I should separate it from the main process post. Again, this is with a focus on beauty blogging.

I’m not gonna lie – my camera does so much of the work it’s insane but there are options less bank-breaking to explore! In particular, a light box for £20 can do SO MUCH.


My approach to writing posts and taking photos is very ‘grab-n-go’. As in, as soon as I notice the sun is out, I grab a shiny new product or whatever I need photos of, and I grab an item of clothing to use as the background, and I go.

My entire setup is on top of my bed, or my parents’ bed as the lighting in their room is usually better! I prop a pillow up or an A3 board I have lying around and cover the pillow in my chosen scarf or another clothing item.

The photos below are from previous posts (apart from one which is from a review that never went up, and another which is from an upcoming post) and all have an item from my wardrobe (or mom’s…) as the backdrop. I also think it adds the ‘at home blogger’ kind of touch without being overly put-together.

 

Some pointers:

  • pick interesting textures like faux fur coats, knits, satins or lace.
  • make sure it doesn’t make the photo too busy or clash with the product. This means you have to be careful with bold leopard print or overly flowery patterns.
  • It also goes without saying that you should avoid using anything with major pilling unless your background is going to be very blurred.

If my product can stand well upright, I would prefer to take a picture of it that way instead of on a flat lay. It also avoids the problem of having to find blu-tack to stop bottles rolling around and such, and for me, this also solves the problem of having my own shadow cast on my flat-lay photos all the time.)

 

I also like to use an object with a flat top as a display podium of sorts for my items. I stick it under the bit of clothing I’m also using as a backdrop, or I find something else that matches. What I use depends on the product. I have grabbed money tins, flat glasses cases and pots of body butter stacked up for this purpose.

Be aware of the colours you use for your background. On my DSLR the colours can change how the image registers, as well as the level of sunlight. Whilst I used a gorgeous white dress for a time, I found that it sometimes washed out the colours of the product a little. I can’t say if this will be helpful for you as I am still experimenting but so far that’s what I’ve noticed.

 

That said, sometimes white works super well and that dress remains a fail-safe if I ever need it.


So… that’s my current photography process. It’s changed a lot in the last year and I have been experimenting more since getting my new camera but all the things I learnt, I think can still apply to photography with my phone.

[I then went and attempted to recreate a shoot for an upcoming Lipsticks in Rotation post using my phone camera, and failed massively… ]
Here are some old photos from the blog in 2016 and even 2015 when I first started adding skin care to the blog, just so we can all compare them to the (even if I do say so myself) amazing shots above. The best photos were taken just inches from my window because that’s how hard it was to get nice lighting…

I think back then I was using either the family iPad or my current Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. Probably more of the family iPad.

 

Anyhow I hope that you learned something, however small, when reading this. Even if you didn’t, perhaps it was fun to read and look at my old photography!

Until next time,

X

My Blogging Process

Hi everyone!

For Twenty Swans’ third anniversary I thought I would put up an extra post or two to celebrate it, about how I go about putting together something for the blog. This will mostly focus on my beauty posts since that is the only type of post with a tangible routine to it, and there will be two parts for my writing and photography. Today, I’ll be writing about… well, my writing.

Draft out an idea in my Evernote.

For me, Evernote is pretty fantastic because I have it as a smartphone and a desktop app, and when I am using it at uni I use it in the web browser. My notes are always synced across so I can shut down and continue drafting in bed when inspiration strikes! In Evernote, notes can be sorted into ‘notebooks’ and even ‘notebook stacks’ and all my blog stuff and beauty inventory is part of one stack. If I have something new on trial, this is where my initial thoughts go.

To be honest, this is where everything goes. Uni notes, story ideas, all there, all the time. Did I mention I’m only on the free plan? On premium, you can download whole notebooks for offline use! (It’s my major motivation for finishing NaNoWriMo because you get three months free as a reward!) I’m not sponsored – I rely on it so much it deserves this promo.

(Oh, but sometimes things like checklists get lost in Evernote because I have a lot of them, so I put them in Google Keep where I keep a lot less notes. I use it only for things that need chasing up on and can be deleted soon after.)

I make sure to think about what I want to see in a review when I write one, for example for lipsticks, I think the lip swatches are very important and sometimes colour comparisons, too, so I include a note to include them. For lip balms and skincare I don’t mind not including it but I make sure to mention standout ingredients and what they do. I used to include ingredients lists but I’m no cosmetic chemist… what are your thoughts on including ingredients lists? Is that helpful?

Recently I have tried to [remember to] include information for people looking out for vegan or cruelty-free products as I realised that just because it’s not a deal-breaker for me, I shouldn’t forget about it. Especially when a few of my friends find that important and I may want to buy gifts for them!

Take photos.

Unless stated otherwise [or maybe I’ve forgotten one somewhere], all the images on the blog are my own snaps!

When a draft is being written I also include notes and positions for possible photos I want to take. Recently I have also included theme colours as well so I know what to reach for when looking for background items.

Most times, I have a little photo session every time the sun is good. Sometimes, the sun is out before I even have had a chance to draft ideas but I hurry and take some snaps anyway even if it is not all the ones I need, by grabbing my most recent purchases, for example. My actual photography process is getting a separate post after this as it’s a bit long, looking at my draft…

For posts that don’t need product photos and are just chatty, like this one, I keep a backlog of background-type photos that aren’t busy-looking, and actively seek out patterns and gradients just to keep it from being boring.

Move and edit photos.

One of the best features of the Canon 750d is the addition of wi-fi and its own mobile app, which is my favourite method of moving my photos to my phone. I haven’t developed a process for editing photos on my laptop yet because it’s old and sometimes the colours are inconsistent based on the angle of the screen, so I prefer to use my phone where the colours appear consistently making it easier for me to edit.

I like to use Snapseed on my phone to adjust small things like brightness and contrast, although as I adjust my camera settings manually whilst shooting, I often don’t need to. Many phones now also have the option to increase exposure and other light settings, too. I also add a Twenty Swans mark in the bottom corner of my images.

For some posts that don’t need product shots but perhaps just a title image, I use the in-app options for text. It’s not a unique idea and I’ve seen similar title cards being used a lot, but they’re quick and easy and pleasant-looking.

Put everything together.

I use the WordPress mobile app to upload the photos. It’s also good for checking up on my daily stats and reading other WordPress blogs on the go. Then I switch to my desktop to paste over my draft and edit the whole post so that everything is in order with tags and categories and the scheduled date. That said it’s not unusual for me to just leave a post and forget about it before scheduling it! Like… I’m sure there are sheet mask photos just buried in my computer somewhere!


That’s it! I’m missing a whole section on promoting my own blog because I tend to slack off in that department. At most, there’ll be a tweet. I used to use Buffer, but recently I quite like Tweetdeck for this. Instagrams are once in a blue moon (the official twitter and insta handle is @twentyswans. Please follow me ^-^)

I hope you got some ideas from this and found this interesting! I personally love this type of post once in a while.

Until next time,

X


Days since buying lipstick: 20
Lipstick last worn: NARS Velvet Matte Pencil in Train Bleu over Primark’s Black lipliner and New Look’s [discontinued] Pure Colour Dark Purple lipliner.

Cafe Visits: Javalounge

Aside from all those good resolutions for the sake of being a better person (more on that later this month), one of them is to visit more cafes. Especially local ones that can’t really be found anywhere else. It seems a bit pricier than my usual Tesco’s £3 meal deal (that I’ll never give up, ever) but it’s probably money better spent, compared to, say, makeup.

But yeah, I’ve been harbouring a longing to be a coffee shop hipster for a long while but never mustered up the willpower to go. So on a day out with my siblings before the holiday feeling wore off, I suggested we all go to one together. The original cafe of choice was Damascena but it looked sort of busy? Although later I found out that they sort of have more space than what I saw… One other day, okay?

So we headed around the corner and down the road to Javalounge. It has a really warm atmosphere with the lights and decor. I wanted to sit at one of the enticing window booths but it seemed some filming was happening there and the free booth was within shot… maybe next time!

My brother and I ordered the special coffee eggnog. I’m not sure what was eggnog about it, as I’ve never tried it but it was nice and really hit the spot. My sister picked the banana milkshake, which was also pretty fabulous if you’re not a coffee drinker. The food was okay. It was filling and I did enjoy it, still. If I ordered again I’d probably go for my sister’s mozzarella wrap. The coffee more than made up for it though.

(We were too full to buy a dessert.) Oh, and they have free wifi. Perfect for sitting at the table on our phones and just chilling for half an hour.

Until next time,

X

 

 

Handmade Winter Knits

After a long while, I have found my knitted accessories to be of some use. On top of that, I am knitting again! I have yarn that I want to use up! YAY.

For the first time in years, we had a wave of heavy snow. Now, just in case you live in Canada or other snowy places, I must explain that heavy snow in the UK is something like 10cm of it. Most years we only get a trickle of it, so having so much snow so early on in the year is fairly unusual for us.

Needless to say, everything shut down and the roads were dangerous and everybody made a snowman that day. Meanwhile, Twerp and I made a snowman on our first day of snow. It was taller than me and a very impressive effort considering previous years.

We planned to make another on Day Two of snow but it was powdery snow that wasn’t cooperating well so we ended up doing a photo shoot that I had been procrastinating for weeks. Behold – I wanted to share my hand knits.

In this grey winter, this neon hat has brightened the lives of everyone around me, I’m sure. People underestimate the power of neon combos and this blue and neon pink had always been something I wanted to try, so when I spotted the two yarn colorways sitting on a shelf together I practically leapt for them!

The lipstick is Revlon’s Matte Balm in Sultry. I think.

The yarn is from the store, Tiger – it’s the thick fabric yarn (Super Chunky weight) and costs £3 a ball. For this I used two balls of the main colour and one ball of a secondary colour, and improvised using this pattern as a base. This took me less than a week to make thanks to the large size of the yarn. Here are the main changes I made:

  • cast on 45 stitches with 10mm circular needles.
  • no pompom.
  • Decreased using the main colour but tied the ends in using the secondary colour in a star formation so it looked cute

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I remember I promised a pattern for this cowl that was improvised years ago, and I hate that I completely forgot about writing one because… guess what? I’ve lost the original, I want to make a new one, and there’s no pattern to be found. I must really hate myself.

20171211144514_IMG_6101-01.jpeg

These fingerless gloves aren’t helping my fingers in the cold, but at least I can use my phone. For snowman making, I obviously would not recommend these! I made these three (!!!) years ago completely improvised and for a while, I thought I had lost one but it turns out both were lying in separate nooks and crannies of my room! I’m glad to have them this year! However… I have lost the matching hat… RIP caramel hat, you will be missed.

The yarn I used for these projects was Sirdar’s Escape DK, although I’m not sure if it has been discontinued or not…

Meanwhile, this cowl took two years to make. I used this pattern and started it because I needed a knitting project for watching the Great British Bake Off in 2015. Here’s the link to my starting post on it! It’s super cushy and cosy although the stitch pattern does cause it to roll up on itself. The pattern is Lael by Wendy Neal (linked to Ravelry page) and it’s a free pattern, so go knock yourself out! If I were to make it again, I’d use an even softer yarn than Stylecraft’s Chunky with Wool.

I hope you have enjoyed the snow too, this year. Especially as we likely won’t get something so wondrous for at least another five! It warmed up so quickly a few days later that our snowman lost its head overnight (although it took another 8 days for it to fully melt and only fully disappeared today – maybe that was jsut because ours was so huge!).

Seeing as this is my last post before Christmas (or on Christmas, even), I would like to take the time to wish you all a Merry Christmas whether you celebrate it or not!

Until next time,

X