Just look at those eyes

Burning with wit and sparkling with mischief. Eyes that say the things your lips sometimes can’t.

Just look at those curls

Ready to be tugged by eager hands in moments of passion.

Wild, messy and ridiculous – just like you.

Just look at that smile

Waiting to bring the world to its knees.

The smile you show the world, and the smile you don’t.

The smile that makes your eyes crease at the corners.

The shy…

…and the utterly unreserved.

The smile of acceptance as you realise…

…you are so much more than your scars.

What is the #ScarredAndSexy?

The #ScarredAndSexy project aims to highlight and celebrate the beauty we may often forget is hiding behind our scars. This is the first in a series of posts that will explore this theme.

If you’re a photographer who would like to be involved, please get in touch: geekmagnifique1@gmail.com

If you want to join the movement and show the world you’re more than your scars, share your selfies with the hashtag #ScarredAndSexy, or contact me to get involved.

These photos were taken by the amazing Georgina Piper.

 

I’m probably going to get very emotional writing this.

If you follow me on Twitter, or have read some of my older posts, you may know that I was in a bit of a crap place last year. I was having counselling, a relationship breakdown pushed me to see my GP and start taking antidepressants, and my life just wasn’t looking how I wanted it to. But by the end of last year I’d started to turn things around for myself. I finally found a job I loved, as a social media executive, and I’m so grateful for my time at that company. It helped me realise my potential, challenged me creatively, forced me out of my comfort zone and showed me just how much of a difference working with great people can make. I made friends there, both human and canine, and genuinely used to look forward to Monday mornings. The office felt almost like a second home to me and I still miss it sometimes – more on that later.

I went into 2017 feeling excited about the future

I normally hate New Year’s Eve. I don’t know why, but it always makes me feel a bit miserable. NYE 2016 was different though – I was happy with the way things were going and had so much to look forward to. Quite honestly, antidepressants were making the world of difference to me as well. I felt energised, fired up and unstoppable. I felt motivated and finally after a long, long struggle, like myself again. I knew the upcoming year was going to be an exciting one, for many reasons. Of course, there have been some unexpected curve balls and low moments, but I’m proud of myself for coming out the other side of those challenges stronger than ever. So here goes, my highs (and lows) of 2017 so far:

Copenhagen, January

My in-laws very (extremely!) generously treated me and Dave to a trip to Denmark for Christmas. We had such a wonderful time, stayed in a beautiful hotel, ate incredible food and did loads of sight-seeing (including a very wet, chilly river tour!).

We saw the Queen of Denmark!

The amazing view from our hotel.

Definitely DID NOT giggle at this.

We feasted on Gordon Ramsay’s delicious eggs at the airport.

We spent most of the holiday as a family, but Dave and I did go out for one date night, which was so lovely. It was close to our 10 year anniversary, so we had a cheeky toast. We went to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi at the top of the Tivoli Hotel, where the food was unbelievable, and the view from the rooftop bar so breathtaking it brought me to tears. An incredible night.

I also enjoyed eating ALL THE PICKLED HERRING, admiring the very handsome concierge (who had, quite honestly, the most incredible cheekbones I have EVER seen), and trying Finnish gin (amazing!) and smørrebrød.

We visited the most beautiful department store (sorry Debenhams, the Danes have got you beat!) and I bought so much weird and wonderful Scandinavian candy. The plan was to film a video of me and Dave trying it all, but I chickened out so have just been tweeting #ScandiCandy updates. I haven’t been brave enough to try the salty liquorice yet though…

Another funny little highlight of the trip was when I approached the very grumpy-looking man at border control, who eyed my passport very suspiciously (seriously, I was starting to sweat), for what felt like hours. Finally, he looked up at me, smiled and said, ‘Boyle, right? Any relation to Susan?’ before chuckling merrily at his own joke.

My blog

This wee little corner of the internet has opened up some amazing doors this year, and helped me meet so many great people. I’ve recorded podcasts (terrifying at first, but I feel like I’ve got the hang of them now), written for Metro, eaten A LOT of free pizza (arguably a career highlight) and enjoyed meeting so many people from the MH blogging community at the #TalkMH meet up in April. Perhaps most excitingly of all, I’ve been offered a book deal. I know, it’s crazy right? Who knew, when I started this little blog back in May 2015, where it would lead?

Losing my job

Right, it’s time for a low. Nothing could have prepared me for the awful moment my boss took me into the meeting room and told me I wouldn’t be carrying on with the company. I listened numbly, trying to make sense of his words and not really believing them. I made an impassioned, tearful plea, unwilling to accept what he was telling me; it was so sudden, so unexpected. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. The following day passed in a blur or tears and feeling very, very sorry for myself. Two days after I was let go I went back into the office for my final day. I packed up my desk, spent most of the day playing table tennis, and cuddled Maggie for about 10 minutes while crying into her fur (I still miss her, so much).

Maggie and Me

My colleagues were lovely; they got me a card, gave me loads of hugs, took me for a coffee at lunchtime and for drinks after work. I left knowing I’d made some great friends. I’d never experienced working somewhere I really loved before, and the pain of losing my job was honestly akin to a break-up. Removing myself as admin from our social media accounts felt like changing my relationship status back to single. I still get a little pang of sadness when I see posts of my old colleagues at the office. The couple of months afterwards were a truly shit time. I ate a lot of crap food and sherbet Dip Dabs, and put on a stunning amount of weight. But then…

Getting a new job…

In July, after several interviews, a few promising opportunities and a bit of freelance work, I finally found a job as a copywriter. Sadly though, it took all of about five days before I realised it wasn’t going to be the job for me. I had a decision to make – stay and try to stick it out, or quit before they’d invested too much in me. I went for the second option. A social media position in a company very similar to my last one came up, and it seemed like a sign. Two interviews later and the job was mine.

I felt awful handing in my notice so soon after starting, but I knew I had to do what was best for me.

…and then another one!

I’m back where I want to be, working in marketing again. I love it here – the people are great, the job is exciting and I’m so glad I took that risk.

Welcoming Marty and Plum to the Boyle family

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll definitely have seen at least one or two (hundred) photos of my beautiful kittens. They’re a pain in the ass, but I love them so much. When I’m all snuggled with Dave and the cats on the sofa, I genuinely can’t believe how lucky I am. Or when Marty wakes me up in the morning with a little nose kiss and snuggles under the covers with me – MY HEART. They bring me so much joy.

Marty and Plum

Cornwall, July

Dave and I rented a gorgeous little house on a farm, with two of our best friends and spent a few days exploring Devon and Cornwall. We went back to the Eden Project, celebrated Julie’s birthday, took many trips to Morrisons, hired a pedalo (much more hard work than you’d think!) and ate loads of great food. We also tried our hand at herding sheep, with surprising success!

View

The view from our cottage.

Moving house

You might remember, a long time ago, I announced that we’d found our dream home. Well, it turns out, not quite. In fact, the second house we came very close to buying didn’t end up being our dream house either, despite having a perfect little Wendy house in the garden for Josh. But you know what they say, third time’s the charm. I couldn’t be happier in our new home, it’s honestly like a dream come true. I’ve turned it into a bit of a Christmas grotto, as I always planned to. Sadly, we had to do away with the second Christmas tree as someone couldn’t quite contain himself.

Marty in the Christmas tree

Closure

Some pretty big stuff came to a head this summer. I was able to finally close the door on a huge and horrible chapter of my life; it was a strange feeling. To an extent I found closure and acceptance, though there is still a slight, simmering anger beneath the surface that won’t quite fade. I know this is all very vague, but I will be delving into the whole mess in my book (damn, that feels so weird to say!). For now, all I will say is that it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I am ridiculously proud of myself for keeping a cool head and getting through it like a damn boss.

So there we have it

What a year! I’m so excited see what 2018 brings…and to kick some ass!!

Woman looking out at beautiful view

Ah, the good old bucket list. We’ve all heard of it – the extensive list you create of things you want to do (before you kick the bucket). There are so many benefits to starting one. Whether you’re a secret daredevil, a wild thrill seeker, a crazy party-goer or a heedful adventurer, you can probably name something you would love to do in your lifetime. So, get your climbing boots on, stuff a luggage bag with all your travel essentials and experience the most you can. You’re in for one hell of a ride!

1. You’ll have amazing memories

Before we settle down in a relaxing nursing home like Porthaven, we need to feel satisfied that we’ve done all the things in life we’ve wanted to do. It’s wonderful to have those once in a lifetime memories of visiting the Grand Canyon, running a marathon and eating a whole pizza made in Italy, even if you know the story a million times, you need to tell it to the grandchildren. Just remember, memories are with us forever, not possessions!

2. You won’t forget anything you want to do

Nobody has a perfect memory, which is why creating a list is an efficient way of keeping track of the activities/things you want to do. It also acts as a way of keeping track, where you can put a huge tick next to whatever you accomplish and feel fantastic about it! There’s also a choice to make your bucket list online, check out websites like Bucketlist to get inspiration and unique ideas.

During all the excitement, planning and busier life this will create, it’s easy to skim over your self-care regimen. Make sure you consider your health and physical condition before embarking on another adventure!

3. You’ll feel more productive

It’s not just your goals; it’s your dreams too. That’s why writing them down on paper is important – it makes them more realistic and doable. They may seem far-fetched at first, but once you start achieving some, the others will seem like a piece of cake. You may also want to do things which are more academic and intellectual such as writing a book, composing a song, learning how to play a musical instrument or mastering a new language. In this case, you’re boosting your skills, increasing your brain power and having fun!   

4. You gain a sense of purpose

Too many of us waste our time on unnecessary things. Ultimately, we realise this and feel like our life has had no purpose, asking questions like ‘why have I spent so much time watching TV?’ and ‘why is my life so boring?’. It doesn’t have to be like this! Even if you’re sticking to a budget, you can still have a separate account for saving money. From starting a bucket list, you might even discover your dream job, and it will change your life for the better.

5. You’ve lived life to the full

Last but not least, you can say that you’ve tried your best at life and experienced as much as it can throw at you! More likely than not, when you get older, you’ll have no regrets about things you’ve always wanted to try doing.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a third party, but I love the message behind it!

Ah, the internet. What wonderful gifts it has given us. Thanks to Google, a wealth of information sits at our fingertips. Social networking sites let us connect with people all over the world, in an instant! We live in a glorious age.

But for all its treasures, the world wide web can often expose us to much, much darker things. For example, cybercrime, Donald Trump’s Twitter account and photos of other people’s disgusting food creations.

The great pineapple on pizza debate has divided people for centuries (probably), and I suspect is what spurred on this recent trend of doing unholy things to pizza.

“If we can’t defend this great evil, we must outdo it,” say the anti-pineapplers. “If we can’t convince the naysayers, we must distract them,” say Team Pineapple (go #TeamPineapple!!).

And so, the war rages on, as more and more people continue to test the boundaries of all that humanity holds sacred. The humble, yet perfect creation we call pizza.

As an keen pizza aficionado myself – and someone who never shies away from a weird food challenge – I made it my mission to sample all of these strange and beautiful creations. It’s not always been an easy journey. In fact, at times, it’s led me down some very dark paths. But what can I say, I didn’t choose this life – it chose me.

The pea and mayonnaise pizza

Described as the ‘abomination’ that unites anti-pineapplers and #TeamPineapple, this didn’t actually look so bad to me. I didn’t cook the mayonnaise onto the pizza (I’m not a lunatic), so I basically just tipped a can of peas onto a Margarita pizza, garnished with a drizzle of mayo when cooked and hoped for the best.

The verdict?

Delicious. Would (and have since on many occasions) eat again. I even tracked down the creator of this tasty little number, so I could thank them personally.

I also cheerfully responded to a great deal of backlash.

— Melissa Boyle (@geekmagnifique) March 2, 2017

Rating: 5/5

GlassesGlassesGlassesGlassesGlasses

Pizza dipped in milk

Sure, I like a nice cold glass of milk to dip my Ginger Nuts in, or Oreos if I’m pushing the boat out. But hot, savoury food? I wasn’t too sure. I know some people have cold milk with their dinner though, so while I found the idea bizarre, I could sort of see how it had evolved.

Here goes:

The verdict?

Meh. A truly unremarkable experience. The best thing I can say about it was it wasn’t awful.

Rating: 1/5

Glasses

The Swedish banana pizza

So this is an actual thing that appears on menus in Sweden, apparently. Naturally Twitter got wind of it, Buzzfeed wrote a post about it, and I swiftly decided it needed to get in my face.

Despite being obsessed with all things Scandinavian, it’s safe to say I had very low hopes. I don’t like cooked banana or curry powder, so a recipe that calls for both of these things to be thrown on a pizza? Nah, you’re alright. But, I’d committed to this culinary expedition of mine, so I couldn’t exactly back down, could I?

Besides, I was starting to get a bit of a reputation.

Guys, I’m about to do weird things with pizza. pic.twitter.com/zDdHkTfZwF

— Melissa Boyle (@geekmagnifique) March 5, 2017

People, as I’d come to expect, were very supportive and encouraging.

Here it is, in all its glory:

The verdict?

I’m sorry Sweden, I love you very much, but you’ve really screwed the pooch with this one. It’s just awful. I couldn’t even bring myself to swallow it, so I did something I never thought I’d do: I SPAT OUT PIZZA. There are many controversial toppings out there, but in my opinion this is the worst to ever besmirch a pizza.

Hella nope.

Rating, in minus figures: 5/5

GlassesGlassesGlassesGlassesGlasses

Seriously guys, I can’t stress this enough. DO NOT EAT.

Strawberry pizza

It wasn’t long before the flurry of confused and angry tweets simmered down and it seemed my brief but illustrious career as a weird pizza taster had ended as quickly as it started. My stomach (and Dave, who was starting to eye me with suspicion and fear whenever I entered the kitchen) thanked me.

But alas, it would seem there is no limit to our imagination where pizza is concerned, and pretty soon people were at it again, putting things on pizzas that don’t belong there.

This time, strawberries. As usual, the internet was divided. Some branded it an abomination (apparently that word gets used A LOT when it comes to pizza), while others suggested it could be an interesting twist on the Hawaiian pizza. I was more inclined to agree with the former.

It was time for me to rise to the challenge once again.

As you can see, being in this line of work has hardened me; after the banana pizza debacle I learned it’s safer not to cover your whole pizza with your topping of choice.

Smort!

The verdict?

This one was genuinely a puzzler. Initially I thought I hated it. The texture of the cooked strawberry was weird and the various flavours mixed together weren’t doing it for me. But, my gut told me to persevere (well actually, my gut was screaming ‘ABORT MISSION’, my intuition however, told me to keep going) and after two or three bites I was quite enjoying it. The sharp tang of the strawberries complemented the cheese, in the same way sweet chutneys or grapes make a nice addition to a cheese board. I’d possibly eat again.

Heck, I might even put strawberries on the whole damn thing next time.

Rating: 3/5

GlassesGlassesGlasses

So there we have it

My foray into the strange and wonderful world of disgusting internet pizzas has come to an end (for now). But watch this space, because I’m always on the lookout for strange foods to put in my face.

Which reminds me. I’ve got some doughnuts to make.

Hummus doughnuts tweet

Wish me luck.

EDIT: While looking through my old tweets, I came across this. So I guess this is happening too.

Help.

I’ve never done one of these posts before, but I thought it would be fun to put together a list of things I’d love to find under my tree this year. For me, it’s not about spending a fortune, I just love finding the perfect gifts to make my loved ones happy. In fact, some of my favourite presents (both received and given), have been thoughtful, inexpensive ones. I pride myself on being somewhat of a gift-giving wizard and have achieved happy tears on a few occasions, which is quite honestly the most wonderful feeling.

Ever since I was a kid, folding down the pages of the Argos catalogue and losing myself in the sparkling wonder of the Boots Christmas gift set aisle, I’ve loved making a Christmas wish list. It doesn’t matter if I don’t receive anything on it, it’s just fun to do.

So, without further ado, here is my Christmas list for 2017. Yes, it looks like it was made by an 8 year old and no, I don’t care.

Mermaid blanket

I know I’m super late to the party here, but I’ve wanted one of these for ages. I can just picture myself snuggled on the sofa with Dave and the kittens, with toasty warm feet and mermaid-like splish-splashability.

Kangaroo pouch cat-cuddling hoodie

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to ABSOLUTELY NO ONE that I want, nay need, one of these.

Rose gold Moderno organiser

I’m a sucker for beautiful stationery and anything that promises to help me be less of a flailing mess. This ticks both boxes.

I will likely use until March and then forget all about it, but LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS.

Lush Christmas goodies

I’m not a massive bath-lover. I’m a bit weird about being in water full-stop (specifically having my feet in it). Hot tubs are a no for me. Swimming? Well, swimming can just do one.

But now we’re in the new house and I finally have a lovely bathroom, I really want to turn it into a little oasis of calm – and I really, really want to start liking baths. What better way to achieve this than by indulging in loads of gorgeous, festive Lush bath treats like this little cutie?

Snowman

Lush, £4.25

iPad Pro

One of my plans for 2018 is to add new designs to my Honeybee Cards range. I’ve been asked by a local bridal boutique to design some wedding ones (SO EXCITING!) and I also want to do some seasonal MH ones, for those who might find the festive period hard. Oh, and I’d like to perhaps sell some of the designs as prints, so let me know if that would be of interest to you!

So the plan is to kit myself out with a design tablet (I’ve also looked into Wacom ones, but would take any recommendations!) and really build Honeybee Cards in a big way.

Obviously, I’m not expecting anyone to get me such an expensive gift, but this is a wish-list after all.

Olympus Pen

One of my other goals for next year is to seriously improve my blog photography and work on my Insta game. I know this camera just screams BASIC BITCH, but I’ve heard plenty of good things about it from blogger friends. Plus, it’s pretty.

Priorities.

Sushi class

You probably know I’m obsessed with sushi. Dave and I have had a go at making it before, but we can never seem to get the rice quite right. There’s a great local cookery school called Flavours, that offers sushi classes (among many others – seriously, if you’re in Bournemouth, definitely check them out!) and I think it would be great fun to actually take a proper class and build on our sushi skills.

Perfume

Perfume is one of my favourite things to get for Christmas. I always like to have a new fragrance for a new chapter in my life and 2018 is going to be a huge year in terms of exciting projects. I love looking back on different times in my life – starting new jobs, certain special occasions – and being able to associate a scent with that time.

This is actually a perfume I’ve worn before (it was my ‘starting a career in marketing’ perfume), but I’ve decided I’d like it to be my fragrance for next year too as it’s just so gorgeous.

My 2018 scent is going to be Gucci Bamboo.