Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pottermore Registration Begins - Are You In?


Today marks the first day of registration for early access to the long-awaited Pottermore, a Harry Potter themed website which is still largely shrouded in mystery. No one really knows what Pottermore will behold, but millions of fans are still scrabbling for a piece of the action. Two lucky BDT-ers managed to register in time and receive their unique user names and will be patiently waiting for up to several weeks to receive their log-in details for the site.

Registration will be open for a short period every day for the next week, until the site opens to the public in October and the few lucky ones who are able to claim a pre-registration place will have a chance to explore Pottermore before the masses decend. Here at BDT, we've been discussing what we think Pottermore will be and the general consensus (or maybe general hope) is that JK Rowling will use the site to give even more detail and backstory to the already rich Potter universe.

According to the Harry Potter superfan site, snitchseeker.com, "A big note: the welcome letters can come to fans anytime after the Magical Quill challenge, starting August 7 to September 30, 2011, and the first million to respond to those welcome emails will be the first to test the beta site. If you receive the welcome email after the first million have been chosen, you will have to wait until October 2011, the official opening of Pottermore.com, to gain access."

So, tell us, did you get in? What do you think Pottermore will be? Or are you among the cynical factions who think that us Potter fans are simply loons who are way too emotionally invested in a children's book? Either way, you can't deny that Sony has managed to drum up even more intrigue from an already absorbing franchise and we can't wait to get our log-in details! We promise to share any Pottermore news as soon as we receive it.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Because We're...Worth It?



Beauty super-brand L'Oreal has been forced to decommission TWO of its advertising campaigns by the Advertising Standards Agency following complaints from a member of parliament that they were showing "...results the product could [not] achieve" and using digital enhancement.

The adverts in question were for luxury skincare label Lancome, which features Julia Roberts, and one for Maybelline, featuring supermodel Christy Turlington and have been said to breach advertising code by "misleading and exaggerating". The amazing thing is, L'Oreal have actually ADMITTED that post-production retouching had occurred on both adverts, but claim that they still represent achievable results from their products. We didn't realise L'Oreal had acquired the majority share of Adobe, too...!


All we know is, here at BDT, whilst we love beauty products, we're sick of being promised results by an airbrushed celeb and being roundly disappointed with what we actually get. It's estimated that the global beauty industry is worth about £6.2 billion a year with the average UK woman spending £185,528 on beauty products in their lifetime. We can't help but wonder how much of this is money for old rope, and think that maybe we should all just invest in a copy of Photoshop and an evening course on photo-retouching!

What do you think? We all know that the cosmetics and fashion industry are famous for promoting unachievable standards of 'beauty', but could this backlash be the beginning of the end, and a move to something more natural, and ultimately, honest?

More to follow in the August edition of Brew Drinking Thinkings.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Coolest. Xbox. Ever.


You know how some things are just so amazing you have to share them with the world? Behold...


Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, you are looking at a limited edition Star Wars Xbox 360, which features an R2D2 console and C3P0 controller. It comes with the first custom white Kinect sensor and is bundled with the newest Star Wars game which allows full-body game play, including pod racing and using the force like a real Jedi. It's currently available on Amazon for pre-order and it's not cheap, retailing for $450 which translates to about 275 of our Great British pounds, but just look at the beauty....

Okay, so it might not be to everyone's taste, but for this Geek-Girl it's the height of cool and will be featuring very high on my Christmas list!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse Found Dead

Singer, Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her London home at just 27 years old. Official reports as of 4pm today state that the death is unexplained however  claims that drink and drugs have finally taken their toll on her have been made. 

Winehouse, who was as famous for her problems as she was for her talent, will be sadly missed by many fans and has proved, again, that fame comes at a very high price.

BDT will be bringing you more information as it is confirmed, but the whole team send their thoughts to her family and friends.


Love to Norway

When news broke at the BDT office of the attacks in Norway we were horrified, as more details came out our horror just grew. By this morning we were somewhat in shock, without words to express our feelings.

As a group, and as individuals, we want to send our love to all those in Norway, to express our sincere condolences to those who have lost people they care about, and to let all of Norway know that they are in our thoughts.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Topshop AW11/12

There's one sure way of finding out what the trendsetters will be wearing this AW11/12 - simply taking a peak at the newly revealed Topshop collection for the coming season. 

We'll leave you with a look at one of the key trends, Bavaria, that has divided the BDT office. What do you think?

For a full look at the upcoming Topshop collection be sure to check out Brew Drinking Thinkings on 3rd August. 







Cars 2 - Get Ready for the Ride of your Life

The time has come Pixar fans! Today is the day! Just in time for the Summer holidays (of course), Cars 2 is released today in UK cinemas. 

The sequel to the 2006 hit starring Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen and Larry the Cable Guy as loveable tow-truck Mater sees the duo jet around the world to take part in a global Grand Prix. The pair are joined by Michael Caine, who joins as British Intelligence, spy Finn McMissile when opposing teams try to bring the racing star down. 

There have been tons of amazing reviews for this one; the mini BDTers are uncontrollably excited and itching to make their way to the big screens. 

Cars 2 will follow an exclusive Toy Story short, 'Hawaiian Vacation'. Tell us what you thought of it by leaving a comment below or emailing our Media Manager, Hannah Wallbanks on  hannah.wallbanks@brewdrinkingthinkings.com



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter Holiday!

Have the kids just started on their Summer Holidays? Are you twiddling your thumbs, scratching you head and biting your lip over how to keep them entertained over the next six weeks?

Harry Potter this holiday is, well, a given for pretty much all of families - but why not make a meal of it? Literally. 

2011 is definitely The Year of the Potter so revel in madness and celebrate for a whole week! Watch a film a day and go mad on day seven for Parts 1 and 2. Pick your day of viewing and have your own Potter Party at home. Decorate your house with some homemade BDT Potter-themed Bunting and make some delicious spooky snacks to gobble before you make your way to the cinema for Part 2. 

For some eerie inspiration head over to the Tesco Real Food Website. Click on the images below to be taken to a selection of our favourite freaky recipes:

   
Spider Cupcakes and Witches' Hat

   
Meringue Ghosts and Shortbread Wands

Don't forget that you can also make BDT's Harry Potter themed Bat Biscuits using Vegan Writer, Aine Carlin's delicious recipe. Click on the image below to be taken straight there:


To find out more about Tesco Real Food visit the website, or catch up with them on Facebook.

Tesco Real Food: Real Help for Families on a Tight Budget


All of us mums at BDT try our very best to food plan, we really, really do. But sometimes it goes awry, you know, when it's been a tough day or we've forgotten to get meat out of the freezer, but for the most part we're quite good. Meal planning can be a big help in both keeping healthy food on the menu and also keeping the costs down on the weekly shop, but sometimes the plans tend to look the same and we end up eating the same old things over and over.

BDT HQ have recently started using the Tesco Real Food website, in particular their section for making family meals on a budget, and this has gone some way to increase our cooking repertoires! There are dozens of recipes there from starters and salads to desserts and the great thing is all of them can feed a family of four for just £5.

When you select a dish and click through, alongside the recipe you also get a per-portion breakdown of costs, so if you have to size up or down for your own family, you still have a handle on what it is costing you. What's also great for us is that many of us are Tesco shoppers, so can click through right next to the recipe and add those ingredients to our online shopping baskets. Snazzy. 

A couple of dishes that have really caught our eye are Greek Pasta Salad (£1.15 per portion), Baked Thai Crab Cakes (98p per portion) and the child-pleasing Crunchy Parmesan Fish Fingers (93p per portion).

Crunchy Parmesan Fish Fingers

Alongside the recipes provided by Tesco there is also a section for users to upload their own budget recipes, using the MyDish.co.uk service (you may remember them as one of the successful Dragon's Den candidates a few years ago). These recipes don't, unfortunately, contain the per portion cost figures, but looking at some of them, such as the homemade chicken nuggets and the apple crumble, it would be easy enough to price up the basic ingredients before you shop.

To find out more about Tesco Real Food visit the website, or catch up with them on Facebook.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises: Teaser Trailer

It's what our office have been waiting for, after it got shown attached to the Harry Potter movie at the weekend. Officially released yesterday, we have for you the teaser trailer for the 2012 Nolan blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises. 

Christian Bale returns as the Caped Crusader, and this time has co-stars Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane, amongst some other exciting additions. 

I can't WAIT for this to be released. I guarantee I'm not the only one. Hurry up July 2012! 





Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are you ready for Toy Story 4?

Did you cry? Did you sit in the cinema and sob your heart out with the best of them? Months later did you finally accept closure and watch the film at home, marvelling in its amazing special effects, wondrous screenplay and in the way it managed so successfully to pull on those nostalgic heart strings?

Well, you may just be in for a bit of a shocker. 

Sure we've seen 'In Development' titles fleet on and off the infamous IMDb website - but where Pixar is concerned we can't help but ignore the facts. Just as Monsters Inc. 2 was announced on the site a year before Monsters University was officially announced, it's very hard to ignore the recent addition of Toy Story 4 set to hit our screens in 2015.

And if IMDb isn't enough to go on, Sheriff Woody himself, Tom Hanks, recently hinted that the team at Pixar were working on the title in an interview with the BBC;
  “I think there will be yeah. Yeah, yeah. I think they’re working on it now. There you go.”

But what do we think of the news? Wasn't Toy Story 3 the best way to go? Didn't many of us accept that that was the end of the story, the end of Andy's journey with his toys? Is this just another attempt at making as much money as possible out of a franchise? Isn't it time to let go and leave this amazing childhood adventure on the incredibly high note that Toy Story 3 gave us?

We'll see how this one develops, but one thing's for sure, its going to have to be a pretty impressive production to blow the socks off TS3. The BDT Team can't even begin to imagine it. 

If you can't wait until 2015, make sure you head to the cinema next weekend to view Cars 2. The sequel of 2006 success, Cars, will follow a Pixar Toy Story Short 'Hawaiian Vacation'. Enjoy! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Shot Cruise

Any fans of Lee Child's fiction will recognise the name of Jack Reacher, a former US Army Police Major who, since leaving the Army, wanders the US lands to explore what he never really knew before, having been born on a military base. 

In all, there has been 15 Jack Reacher novels, penned by Child (the pen name of Jim Grant) and now, it seems as though he's about to be immortalised in film. Despite the fact that in the books, he's a 6' 5" unstoppable machine, in the film(s), Reacher will be portrayed by Tom Cruise - certainly not a towering hard nut, but Child commends the decision to have Cruise as the lead role, saying that Reacher's height is a "metaphor for an unstoppable force" - something Cruise has been accustomed to in previous roles and something he may well be able to deliver successfully. 

The first film is based on Child's 'One Shot' - a fantastic piece of fiction that I hope will be portrayed successfully. It'd be a shame to see another book adaptation gone wrong. As there has been so many novels, it also has the potential to create sequels. We'll see what happens. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Breastfeeding in Public

“Put those puppies away, love. We’re trying to conduct council business!”

Another nail in the coffin for positive breastfeeding awareness has been hammered in this week.

Emma Mitchell was visiting her local civic centre was told she could NOT breastfeed. While attempting to research how to become a babysitter (in line with her local authorities’ guidelines) was told she couldn’t breastfeed her son on the premises. Staff at the Civic Centre in Oldham told Ms Mitchell that breastfeeding was not allowed within the confines of centre as it was a multicultural centre.

Despite reassurances from Emma that she would feed her son discreetly she was told to go to the nearest shopping centre in Manchester to find somewhere to feed him. Had she listened to the helpful instructions of the receptionist Emma would have to leave the civic centre trek to the shopping mall to feed her son and then come back to the centre for the information she that was after. The unpleasantness of the experiences caused Emma to leave the centre and go home, without the information she came for in the first place.

The council’s spokesperson, Councillor Akhtar had this to say: “not every building is suitable for breastfeeding and that is the case with the very busy, open plan layout (of the centre)”. Nothing about the multicultural nature of the building was mentioned. To appease the journalist, he added that feedback from residents was always welcome and that they will review procedures.

I very much doubt that the Oldham civic centre will suddenly move premises, given that they stated it was due the nature of the building that prevented Emma being able to feed her son. This story is just another example of how little tolerance the general public has for the sight of a woman breastfeeding. This intolerance, in my opinion, contributes to our poor breast feeding rates here in the UK. The NHS can be temporarily smug regarding a raise in newborn breastfeeding rates but this still doesn’t change the fact that beyond birth rates fall dramatically only days after starting feeding. Stating that at least eight out of ten babies is breastfed at least once after birth really isn’t that much to be excited about. Once is never enough! Recent evidence shows that the number of women continuing to breastfeed past 6-8 weeks is still ridiculously low. Poor advice, little support and public condemnation all contribute to women giving up far too soon.

In the background of this latest piece of news is the fact that the government stepped back from funding National Breastfeeding Awareness week, a campaign that launched eighteen years ago to encourage new mothers to feed and to continue to feed their children. The latest ONS data shows that as well as feeding figures being low, that there is still a huge discrepancy between socio-economic groups regarding those who begin and maintain feeding. There is great regional variation, however, and striking difference between women of different backgrounds. Those with professional and managerial jobs and higher levels of education are most likely to begin breastfeeding. Across the UK, 90% of women in managerial and professional jobs began breastfeeding (up from 88% in 2005), compared with 74% of those in routine and manual occupations and 71% of those who have never worked (both up from 65% in 2005). There is also a direct relationship between the amount of education a woman received and starting to breastfeed. Among those who left full-time education after the age of 18, 91% initiated breastfeeding, but among those who left at 16 or earlier the figure was only 63%.

While educated, professionally successful women can access help that they can pay for themselves, the government campaigns were the only source for the rest of society. The NCT confirms this. Rosie Dodds, senior policy adviser for the National Childbirth Trust, said: "It's great news that more women are starting to breastfeed and that more are getting the support they need to stop smoking while they are pregnant.

"Four-fifths of new mothers plan to breastfeed – we don't yet know how many are enabled to continue ... We do know from previous surveys that most find that they have to stop breastfeeding before they want to because they do not get the help they need. Every year more than 200,000 mothers stop breastfeeding in the first few days and weeks – 90% of these mothers would have liked to continue (had they had enough support).”

There can be positive approaches to the sad realisation that in this day and age, breastfeeding still makes the authorities, the public and the media squeamish. This is made manifest in the recent flashmob breastfeeding events that have been taking place over the UK. In Manchester, not too far from the Oldham civic centre, hundred of women gathered in a shopping centre to breastfeed their children.

Image: dailymail.co.uk

You’ll notice from the picture that quite a few fathers were there to lend their support! Recently, in Paddington railway station over 170 mothers gathered together to spontaneously feed their babies and toddlers in the middle of a busy day.

Image: Henleystandard.co.uk

On a personal note I have breastfed two of my kids with varying degrees of success. It is something that is not always easy and when there is the added public pressure on you to cover up and be ashamed of what you are doing this can cause problems. I’ve seen myself hiding in disabled toilets, sweating, along with my babies under blankets and leaving longer than I would have liked between feeds in a bid to make other people feel comfortable about MY breastfeeding.

We have had some very interesting discussions over at BDT HQ on this subject. The increasing sexualisation and fetishisation of breasts has perhaps detracted from their intended use. Breasts are on display everywhere these days but only for the consumption of the male gaze. Women are now used to controlling how little or how much is exposed knowing that the viewer is a man. Whether it is on the street, in a nightclub or in a board room meeting, levels of exposure determine levels of attention and usually solely from males.

Also since the advent of industrialisation, modern society has become incredibly prudish when it comes to natural bodily functions. Civilised, progressive society employed women to rear their children for them in the form of nannies and nursemaids to feed them. The introduction and wholesale of formula made breastfeeding seem archaic, unseemly even.

Saying this, I have been in the situation where someone has started to breastfeed a baby without prior warning and it has made me feel uncomfortable. I know this is my reaction though and quickly dealt with it so as the other woman did not feel uncomfortable. I come from an area where women do not breastfeed and none of my family have attempted to breastfeed so I haven’t had to sit on the other side looking in. I had a meeting with a publisher who at the time had just given birth to a new baby. Over coffee while I was discussing my plans for my feature, she lifted up her top and started to feed the baby. I saw everything and became very interested in the bottom of my coffee cup while the infant suckled away and she gave me feedback on my ideas.



Please feel free to share your opinions and experience in the comments box below.

If you are breastfeeding and experiencing problems or are feeling pressure from the public then please check out these sites.

The Lactivist – a fantastic resource run by breastfeeding mothers and a very busy Lisa Lactivist. Any questions big or small are answered by Auntie Lactivist at any time. There is also an associated Facebook page and blog.

La Leche League

3 Sleeps to Go!

On Friday, a franchise that has been a worldwide phenomenal success comes to a close. The world of Harry Potter has reached its pinnacle, the war between The Dark Lord and Harry has almost come to it's conclusion. With that in mind, and knowing that the majority of BDT HQ are weeing a little in excitement, here is a brand new featurette to feast your eyes on. Press play and take a closer look at inside Gringotts Wizarding Bank, one of many scenes to look forward to in the upcoming movie. Now all I need to do is find a babysitter and get some time off work to get to the cinema for what promises to be one helluva Harry Potter send off. 


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