Wednesday, 28 March 2012

What We Love Wednesdays!! Guest Blog: Martha & Ladies in Rock!!

Welcome to a special Guest Blogger edition of What We Love Wednesdays!! Today, our favourite little rock star (and workmate), Martha Mayhem, has kindly agreed to give us a break from our usual cheesy pop-filled playlists, and replace it with some edge! Rock on, Marth!!


Hi everyone, I'm Martha: good friends and colleagues of the legends that are Laura and Sarah. I play guitar and sing in a female rock band called Gasoline Thrill.

Laura & Sarah have very kindly let me guest blog their WWLW today on my all-time favourite subject. Any guesses what that is? Girl rockers, of course!

I’d love to share with you my Rockin’ Women Top Ten - so without further ado, lets ‘Blog and Roll’!!!

1. Joan Jett

Back in the 1970’s, rock and roll has just been established: there were female musicians, but only a few genuine female rockers. Joan Jett bucked this trend and played rock at a time when it was more fashionable and widely accepted for women to pursue gentler sounds like soft-rock and disco. In the process, she recorded several major hits and became an icon to future femme-rockers like L-7 and Bikini Kill.

Joan co-fronted the ‘70s girl group The Runaways before achieving stardom after leaving them in 1979 to start her own band The Blackhearts. She hit the big time in 1982 with ‘I Love Rock and Roll’, a snarling hard-rock update of an obscure glam rock song. It became an instant rock anthem and stayed at the Number 1 spot on the pop charts for seven weeks. [L&S note: ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ was then covered by the great Britney Spears in Crossroads, which is where we know it from!! Sorry Marth, just couldn’t resist! ;D ]
By the 90's, Joan Jett had become a cult idol to a group of young, all-female rockers who regard her as the original "grrl-rocker".  And one of my faves, she is still rocking today. Hell yere!

2. Debbie Harry (Blondie)

Debbie Harry ushered in a new wave of rock and roll when she arrived on the punk rock scene in the mid 1970s. Best known as the front woman of Blondie, she inspired women everywhere to hack their hair off, reach for the peroxide and sing along to hits such as ‘Hanging On The Telephone’, ‘Heart Of Glass’, ‘Call Me’, and ‘Rapture’. A beloved gay icon and strong advocate for LGBT rights and gay marriage, Debbie Harry (& Blondie) is still just as relevant today.

3. Courtney Love

Courtney Love my personal fav. for being the most controversial and outspoken female rock star. She is the lead vocalist, lyricist, and rhythm guitarist of the group Hole, formed in 1989. At my first Hole gig at Glastonbury 1999 she told the audience for F*** off and that it was America who the war, (not the best idea to a group of Brits) but added to the excitement of the show.

Love was married to Kurt Cobain, frontman of the grunge band Nirvana. In the early 1990s, she became known for popularizing the fashion style “kinderwhore” characterized by torn babydoll dresses and smeared red lipstick.

Throughout her career, Love's wild stage antics and subversive feminist attitude have polarized audiences and critics, with Rolling Stone once calling her "the most controversial woman in the history of rock.”

Love has advocated for several causes, including stricter gun control laws, feminism, and gay rights; during a 1997 award speech at VH1's Fashion Awards, Love said "I feel that keeping gay people in the closet with our actions and attitudes is cruel and tacky, and most of all, it's boring. I think we need to respect each other and ourselves, and who we are, and what we are, and not be afraid to be what we are, whether we're gay, or straight, or... insane."

Another special mention for Courtney for helping to encourage more girls to play the guitar by donating hers to lucky members of the audience at her shows!  

4. Brody Dalle

Brody Dalle is an Australian born American singer, songwriter and guitarist. She rose to fame as lead singer/guitarist for the punk rock band The Distillers and currently fronts Spinnerette.

In her late teens, Dalle started a band of her own, Sourpuss, which developed a solid fanbase, and played alongside Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth at Australia's Somersault Festival.  There, she met Tim Armstrong, the frontman of the punk band Rancid, when she was sixteen. She saw him packing up the drums backstage, and the two quickly fell head-over-heels in love with each other. Despite Armstrong being 13 years her senior, and Dalle initially lying about her age (but who hasn’t?), the couple married shortly after Dalle turned eighteen. She moved with Armstrong from Melbourne to Los Angeles, California and there founded The Distillers.  However, they divorced in 2003, and Brody is currently married to Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme.

Brody has helped influence a new age of punk looking girl rockers.

 5. Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth)

Kim Gordon is a brash and enigmatic female member of Sonic Youth, which started out in 1981, influenced by the drone-rock culture that emerged from the ruins of punk rock.

From its conception, Sonic Youth began producing music that has been described by some as "perfect noise". By tuning their instruments to achieve sounds never before produced as or considered music, Gordon and her bandmates began to make a name for themselves on the underground scene.

Lyrically, Gordon has become a voice of feminism without becoming subsumed by the movement. While publicly dealing with issues such as rape, anorexia, sexual harassment and supermodels, she has somehow been able to maintain a certain reserve.

She was given the title of Godmother of the Riot Grrl supporting the Washington (USA)-born female punk movement that has fostered groups such as Bikini Kill and L7.

6. Donita Sparks (L7)

Donita Sparks headed up the Los Angeles-based all-girl punk band known as L7. They were a feisty live act with a good amount of decent songs some of which my band cover at our live shows including Shitlist. (next time you are p**sed off with someone, listen to this song, you will feel better I promise!)

Despite L7's reputation as hard-partying rock & roll animals, they also had a keen sense of political and social activism, and helped found Rock for Choice, a series of benefit concerts to support pro-choice movements in the USA and Canada, as well as playing other benefits for Greenpeace and Act Up.

Donita is infamously remembered for dropping her trousers on the set of the UK television show The Word during a live taping of their song ‘Pretend We’re Dead’. During an outdoor performance by L7 at the 1992 Reading Festival in England, she retaliated in anger at some fans that were throwing mud at her by removing her used tampon onstage and throwing it into the crowd! I’m sure that shut them up!

7. Ann Wilson (Heart)

Ann Wilson is lead singer of the American female rock band who first found success in Canada. With line up changes aplenty, she and her sister Nancy were the only consistent members of Heart.

Other female led rock bands have been trying to imitate Hearts success for decades. They were extremely popular in the 1970's, where they used hard rock and folk music backgrounds to create a unique sound that has continued to be played on classic rock radio stations everywhere. They have sold over thirty million albums worldwide and continue to play today.

Laura actually introduced me to Heart – proving she is not all Britney Spears and the Bee Gees!!

8. Skin (Skunk Anansie)

Skin is the lead singer of current alternative rock band called Skunk Anansie. She is one of the very few female rock stars still out there currently gigging so I follow them round UK and Europe to see their shows. Last gig was in Bulgaria where she jumped into the crowd backwards from the drum kit! Now that rocks!!

 Skin describes their music as ‘clit-rock’ -- an amalgam of heavy metal and black feminist rage. Skin is an out and proud lesbian, and supports many LGBT causes. She began singing in high school for a classmate's band after considering the offer for over a year. Six years after that band broke up the members of Skunk Anansie met one another by chance. Their name was taken from the West Indian folktales of Anansi the Spider-Man, with a slight change of spelling and "Skunk" added to make the name nastier.

The group played its first gig at London's Splash club in March 1994, and recorded its debut album, Paranoid and Sunburnt, at a haunted house outside the city. The band's first single was called ‘Selling Jesus’ and three years later Skunk Anansie returned with ‘Post Orgasmic Chill’. 

They have enjoyed chart success with ‘Weak’ which resulted in them being asked headline Glastonbury Festival in 2000, one of my all time favourite gigs!

9. Gwen Stefani

Gwen Renée Stefani was the lead vocalist for the rock and ska band No Doubt. The band's diamond certified album Tragic Kingdom helped launch the ska revival of the 1990s, and ‘Don’t Speak’, the third single from the album, set a record when it spent 16 weeks at the number one spot on the US charts.
Stefani performs and makes public appearances with four back-up dancers known as the Harajuki Girls dancers. She is married to fellow rock star Gavin Rossdale, lead vocalist of the band Bush. Gwen is a vegan, and is a big supporter the Save The Children charity’s Japanese Tsunami fund.

In recent years, Gwen has stepped away from the Rock and Ska she was better known for and launched herself as a solo artist verging on the more pop side of the spectrum. Fingers crossed for a No Doubt revival!

10. Samara Kain

I couldn’t finish this list without including singer, songwriter, guitarist and frontwoman of Gasoline Thrill! Extremely talented and passionate, Samara has been in the music business for some time - playing in a variety of bands since moving to London from France. She has been in a range of creative roles including modelling, alternative clothing, featuring in TV shows, presenting and interviewing bands, to freelance writing for alternative magazines, appearing in music videos and even had a stint at music PR. She has appeared in a number rock/alternative bands including Kain, Nemhain & Catfight, before starting Gasoline Thrill, the band which I am a part of. We have recently released an album titled Burn with a new single (and brand new music video!) titled ‘Not Afraid’.

So there you have it! Hope you’ve enjoyed my Top Ten Female Rockers, and hopefully you’ve picked up a new band or artist to listen to!


This is how we know Marth - much smilier!! :)
Thanks to our wonderful friend, Martha Mayhem!! We didn’t realise there were so many amazing, strong, talented and beautiful women in rock out there!

Who would you add to this list?

To hear more of Gasoline Thrill (and the gorgeous Samara, Martha and Monica), here are their details!

GT photos from their FB page

Love, Laura & Sarah xo

Friday, 23 March 2012

SFFF - We've Got That Hawaiian Feeling!

So SFFF has been somewhat AWOL through March so apologies for that. You may have seen that we have been busy on a Big Egg Hunt mission and celebrating our 3 year anniversary. As Spring has officially arrived and March draws to a close it’s party time. Our friend Martha turned 30 earlier this week and is having a Hawiian themed party so in honour of this SFFF has taken a Hawiian twist!

The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii. It is the most isolated population centre on the face of the earth. Located 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines. Or in my language a 17 hour flight from London, 11 hour flight from New York or a 7 ½ hour flight from Boise. And from east to west Hawaii is the widest state in the United States.

Hawaii was first ‘landed’ in 1778 with the arrival of British explorer James Cook. Originally he named the islands the "Sandwich Islands" in honour of his sponsor John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. He published the islands' location and reported the native name as Owyhee. This spelling lives on in Owyhee County, Idaho, after three Hawaiian members of a trapping party killed in that area. Check out the Idaho link!!!

Cook only visited the islands twice. Upon his departure during his second visit in 1779, a quarrel ensued, involving Cook's men taking temple idols and fencing as "firewood" and The natives then took a small boat belonging to Cook’s ship. Cook then abducted the King of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and held him as ransom aboard his ship for the return of the boat, a tactic that had worked for Cook in Tahiti however Kalaniʻōpuʻu's supporters fought back and Cook and four Marines were killed as Cook's party retreated to the beach and launched their boats. Not the best ending!

It was down to Cook's visit and the publication of several books about his voyages, that the Hawaiian islands received a lot of European visitors: explorers, traders, and eventually whalers who found the islands a convenient harbour and source of supplies. Early British influence can be seen in the design of the flag of Hawaii which has the British Union Flag in the corner. Heck yes to the British link!
Nowadays more than one-third of the world's commercial supply of pineapples comes from Hawaii- you know your tropical when that’s true.

There are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet. Vowels: A, E, I, O, U Consonants: H, K, L, M, N, P, W!

The Hawaiian Islands are the projecting tops of the biggest mountain range in the world. Not something I ever knew! In fact they were formed when under-sea volcanoes erupted thousands of years ago to form the islands. And it currently sits on Haleakala Crater (Ha-lay-ah-ja-lah), the world's largest dormant volcano!
Hawaii was the 50th state admitted to the union on August 20th, 1959 and it has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) The time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time. And for anyone in the UK the clocks will go forward by one hour on Sunday 25 March as British Summer Time begins for another year- yippee! The official time changes at 1.00 am, moving forward to 2.00 am across the UK.

There are four counties in Hawaii (Kauai; city and county of Honolulu; Maui; and Hawaii). Each city has a mayor and council in charge.

There are no racial or ethnic majorities in Hawaii J Everyone is a minority. Caucasians (Haoles) constitute about 34%; Japanese-American about 32%; Filipino-American about 16% and Chinese-American about 5%. It is very difficult to determine racial identification as most of the population has some mixture of ethnicities.
Honolulu is the largest city in the world -- at least it has the longest borders. According to the state constitution any island (or islet) not named as belonging to a county belongs to Honolulu. What that really means is all islands within the Hawaiian Archipelago, that stretch to Midway Island (1,500 miles northwest of Hawaii) are part of Honolulu.

Then there’s the whole reason why people LOVE Hawaii and that’s the beaches! More than 100 world-renowned beaches ring Honolulu. Kind of makes my stay in Manly seem a million miles away. The island of Oahu draws more visitors than any other to Hawaii. One-third of the state's best surfing beaches are on Oahu.

So I hope where ever you are I hope you wake up to sunshine tomorrow…..

Enjoy you weekend

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What We Love Wednesdays!! We Scream For Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!!

When you think of Ben & Jerry's, what is it that springs to mind? For us, it's evenings snuggled up on the couch watching chick flicks and eating B&J Cookie Dough. It's waiting in the queue for 30 - 40 minutes on Free Cone Day at the Manly Beach location in Sydney for a free scoop, answering a few questions to get free SWAG, and lining up again to get another. It's Laura's Mum buying a pint of Cherry Garcia every year for Laura's yummy Christmas dessert. 
Now, there is a whole new thing to think about when you hear the name 'Ben & Jerry's' - marriage equality. 

In the UK, Ben & Jerry's has partnered with the Stonewall Foundation to rename their Apple Pie flavoured ice cream to 'Apple-y Ever After' in support of gay marriage in the UK. Awwww, right? The motto for the flavour is our favourite 'Because everyone deserves a piece of the pie!' Their website states that civil partnerships are second best, and all Ben & Jerry's fans deserve marriage! 

This week, B&J representatives went around London toting a giant wedding cake with two Ken dolls on top as grooms, and handed out free samples of Apple-y Ever After! What a great way to advertise the ice cream and the cause, and we want to thank Ben & Jerry's for taking such a strong stand on the issue. If more companies were like them, we believe we wouldn't have so far to go in the battle for equal rights. 

This isn't the first time Ben & Jerry's have stood up for gay rights - in the USA, they have also changed their flavour 'Chubby Hubby' to 'Hubby Hubby' with a picture of two grooms on a cake on the tub. In fact, Ben & Jerrys was among the first to extend benefits to their unmarried domestic partnered employees - over 30 years ago. They are such an impressively forward-thinking company!! 

We read an article by a columnist for the Telegraph who complained that he doesn't like his food to tell him what to believe, and that Ben & Jerry's are blatantly pushing the 'Buy me or you're a bigot' 'gay propaganda' in his face. We think this is an idiotic and ignorant attitude to have. Neither one of us actually like apple pie - and besides this first tub to try it, we probably won't buy the flavour itself again (we are Cookie Dough & Half Baked people). However, we don't think there is anything wrong with a company wearing its values on its sleeves - so many companies secretly support causes, whether they be for the good of the world, or to spread bigotry and hatred *cough Chick Fil A cough*, its refreshing to have a business stand up for what they believe in, despite the potential loss in earnings from non-supporters. We believe that more people will take notice of B&J's efforts in a positive way - buy their ice cream, or at least see that the issue is a big one and not something that will be going away anytime soon. We've said before that the more mainstream figures/businesses/people come out in support of gay marriage/equal rights, the more the average Joe will think 'Well, if all these people support it, maybe I should re-evaluate what I believe' *cough Sarah's parents cough*. It certainly looks that way from B&J's Facebook page, which from what we saw has hundreds of support messages and thank you's, and one lonesome rant from a backwards Christian named Glenda Sue or something who hypocritically wrote such hateful things on Ben & Jerry's wall, but has a profile picture of her and a young Mexican child from one of her many missions there. It's a shame someone who does so many good deeds can so easily be so hateful (and un-Christ-like?) towards those who have done nothing to hurt her. Sorry, rant over. The point is, they have received overwhelming support from the community, and hopefully will be the first in a long line of companies doing something similar. 

What's even better, this is not the first stand that Ben & Jerry's has taken. They make an effort to use all fair trade ingredients where possible, free range eggs, their ice cream tubs are made from 90% renewable paper stock, and all their flavours are suitable for vegetarians - they are deeply committed to reducing their carbon footprint and helping the environment. Also, a percentage of Ben & Jerry's profits goes to the Ben & Jerry's Foundation - a charity devoted to helping community members gain social, environmental, and economical justice. They have already helped countless people around the world.

And if we haven't convinced you already, then their Double Scoop Sundae, a music festival that provides free ice cream all weekend, is held every summer in London. It's full of great music peace, love and ice cream! (And it's hosted just over the river from us in Clapham!)

If more companies were like Ben & Jerry's, the world would be a much better place. This is what we need - less money grabbing selfish companies focused on their bottom line, and more willing and wanting to give back to the community and stand up for what they believe in. We will (and we hope you will too) continue to support such a wonderful, witty, and good-natured company by eating lots of ice cream. It's a small price to pay, right?

Happy eating!
Laura & Sarah xo

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The EGGcellent Mission Continued.....

Egg Mission Part 2:

For Mission Part 1 check here!!!

After a successful start to the Egg Hunt, Agent Sarah and Agent Laura had to keep up the hard work - and so on a sunny Saturday we hit the streets of London. Destination = Carnaby Street & Mayfair! If you've ever been to London on a Saturday you will know that Oxford Street is JAM PACKED and not for the faint-hearted, so on arrival we headed straight for Carnaby Street and set off in search for eggs!

Carnaby Street made headlines back in the 60's for being the centre of all things mod and the British Invasion - nowadays it's full of fashion boutiques and quirky shops - including David & Goliath- home of cute clothes and great phrases like our fav - 'Nerdvana'! Oh and of course right now you can find eggs - some hanging, all hidden and having fun. Our first egg was Sarah's favourite egg of the day 'The Post Box'! And did we mention we spotted Christian Siriano, Laura's all-time favourite contestant on Project Runway! Laura kind of freaked out about it.

Hanging out just outside Carnaby Street was Laura's favourite egg of the day - 'My Generation' with lyrics from The Who song....nice placement, as there are 'The Who' references everywhere in this area! We had the song stuck in our heads for the rest of the day...

The back streets are where you will find the unexpected side to London - the extravagant hotels are nestled quietly only a few streets away from the hustle and bustle. There are sculptures and fountains, boutiques and amazing architecture - just watch where you step, as you don't want to bump into the Bentleys or Rolls Royces!

There are SO many lovely parks in the middle of London! We chose Berkeley Square Garden to sit and catch our breath and enjoy the sun and tick off 4 eggs from our list!
From one park to another, the next stop was Grosvenor Gardens - Laura hung out by the American Embassy while Sarah ran to Hyde Park, got stranded in the middle of a roundabout and returned without any additional eggs :( Hydeparkfail.

After the brief respite, the next stop was Selfridges - again not the best idea on a Saturday - but as there were 8 eggs hidden around in there we held our breath and cracked on ;) riding the escalators to the 4th floor and back!

And then to China Town - Mission Part 1 may have had TGI's but Mission Part 2 had yummy Chinese - oh yes, after 4 miles of walking it seemed only right that we rested our weary feet - and where better than our favourite Chinese restaurant - Canton!

To finish the Mission Part 2 we headed back to Covent Garden and found a new shopping area had opened up that linked Leicester Square to Covent Garden - St Martin's Courtyard - and it just happened to have 2 eggs - yay! Our second favourite egg of the day was also in residence around here - Busby!

Once in Covent Garden we enjoyed a musical performance and did a bit of window shopping that somehow ended in us getting a LARGE cupcake doorstop *cough cough Laura*, and of course meant we could finish our egg collecting for the day.
Can you spot us in this line-up?
Mission part 2: 59 Eggs collected!
Top 3 Fav Eggs:
Post Box
My Generation

And to finish the AlphaEgg - with a London theme!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Our Wonderful, Amazing, Fantastic, Romantic 3 Year Anniversary!!

March 16, 2012 marked our 3 year anniversary together - we can't believe how fast it has gone!!

Most of our day was spent working, which unfortunately meant we were apart - but that made the evening even more special! Here's the thing - we are with each other (or at least in the same building) almost ALL of the time, so planning surprises is extremely difficult and requires great skill and sneakiness! We somehow always manage anyway. 

The day flew by, and at 5:30pm, preparation began. Laura turned her desk into a make-up counter and Sarah turned her's into a hair salon, and an hour later we were ready to go! Working in central London meant we are able to get from our office to the Southbank in 15 minutes. On arrival we wandered around the food market sampling cheeses and getting SO tempted to taste the AMAZING falafel wraps - so hard to hold on until our meal!! So we rushed to the restaurant, where we were seated early!

Top Table had suggested The Archduke, a Blue & Black restaurant that specialises in cocktails, steaks and jazz - perfect for us! Located under the railway arches at Waterloo, we were lucky enough to get a window table (Sarah requested it ahead of time) with a view of a fountain in the park over the road and a perfect place to people watch - not that we had much time for that! :)

We are impatient when it comes to presents, or at least Sarah is - so she wanted to get the gift giving underway at the first opportunity. After we put in our orders, Sarah brought out the pink wine bag - we aren't big wine drinkers, so Sarah thought this would be a great decoy to throw Laura off the scent - and it worked a treat!

First present out of the bag was a bottle of Millions - 'a symbol of how much Sarah loves Laura' Awww!

The second was a set of Russian Dolls - the reason behind this was two-fold 1) Laura has wanted Russian dolls ever since we booked our trip to Moscow last summer and 2) it was a great way for Sarah to give Laura a special message. The dolls each carried a message on their front and a note inside....

SO cute, right??
We have been talking about getting married for ages - in fact anyone who knows us is well aware of our hen/bachelorette party and wedding plans (well, you have to be prepared!!) but we have agreed that there will be no formal engagement until we have saved enough money to get the rings - how very practical right?! But we each want a proposal and we both know what kind of rings we want to get!

Sarah wanted to take the three year anniversary as an opportunity to move things one step closer after getting the idea from a close friend in Australia. After hearing about our wedding plans, Kate had emailed us saying 'congratulations on your pre-engagement' and so Sarah thought she would officially pre-propose!

Other than Laura bursting into tears (of joy!), it went down well (SHE SAID YES! Of course!!), and it just in time for the biggest prawns we'd ever seen arrive for the starter!

We are pretty sure that the waitress had no clue what on earth was going on and whether Sarah was upsetting Laura, and why there were cards and presents filling up our table!

After the delicious starters were cleared away, Laura got to give her gift to the eagerly awaiting Sarah - a beautifully handcrafted and personalised bracelet including a stone with Sarah's favourite colour - purple. And because we love any opportunity to match, Laura got one with her favourite colour stone - pink! So cute!

As we were putting the bracelets on, dinner arrived - Sarah's chicken was one heck of a big bird! and Laura's burger was 'still mooing' - just the way she likes it. In honour of Laura's Dad, Sarah even tried a bit of the burger and decided it 'wasn't that bad'! The food was ALL delicious and kept us quiet for most of dinner except for the odd 'I love you' and 'I'm so happy!!!' coming from both of us.

With dinner suitably demolished and the wine finally drunk, we thought we'd take a stroll along the Southbank. It's one of our favourite places to enjoy the view of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. Walking hand in hand we couldn't help but feel so incredibly lucky. We know that having the opportunity to live, work and be together all of the time is a privilege and we never take that for granted.

It also meant we spotted a couple of eggs in The Faberge Big Egg Hunt, but that's another story!

3 years is only the beginning of our journey, but what a start it's been. Thank you for joining us, and we hope you'll stick around to see what the future brings!!

Love always from a very happy (and newly pre-engaged) Sarah & Laura xo