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Children’s Halloween cake topper looks much ruder than planned

halloween cake topper
A lovely cake with a not-so-lovely message (Picture: Facebook)

Don’t you just love a cake fail?

Whether it’s a peacock wedding cake that looks ‘like a turkey with leprosy’ or one that’s leaning to the side and covered with inedible glitter, there’s a (slightly mean) part of us that just loves when someone’s adventures in baking and decorating go horribly wrong.

Maybe that’s because it helps us feel better about our own kitchen disasters.

This particular mishap isn’t down to a lack of culinary skills, however.

Instead it’s all due to a cake topper that looks like it says something rather rude.

A photo of a Halloween themed cake, complete with dripping frosting and some happy ghosts, was shared to an Australian cake-shaming Facebook group (yes, there really is a shaming group for everything).

While the cake itself looks pretty lovely, the person who posted it explained that the words on top are supposed to say ‘trick or treat’… but they look quite a bit like they say ‘f*** off’ instead. Blame how close the r is to the T.

 Children's Halloween cake topper appears to say something MUCH ruder than intended
Can you see it? (Picture: Facebook)

Don’t worry, you’re not imagining things – thousands of people on social media see the swear word, too.

But the good news is that most of those who’ve seen it far prefer the idea of a ‘f*** off’ cake. Look at those rude little ghosts.

‘Absolutely love it, the f-word makes it better,’ said one commenter.

Another said: ’10/10 I love this cake for all the reasons it is a fail.’

The good news for the baker (whoever they may be): there’s no need to start from scratch. Either play the insult off as a deliberate trick or sneakily ditch the topper entirely. Easy.

MORE: An easy guide to non-sexy Halloween costumes

MORE: Gory daddy daughter zombie photoshoot wins Halloween

MORE: Ordinary terraced house transformed into horror display for Halloween

Couple pose for their wedding photos in front of California wildfire

Couple on their wedding day in a vineyard
The Kincade fire burnt just miles away from this couple’s vineyard wedding (Picture: KMR Photography)

A sunset wedding might be the dream for many brides and grooms but for this couple, the smoky orange sky in the back was a sign of tragedy.

Katie and Curtis Ferland from Chicago, Illinois, had planned for the perfect day at Chateau St. Jean vineyard in Sonoma County, California.

But the special occasion was clouded by the Kincade wildfire spreading behind them.

The fire burned 54, 298 acres, destroying 94 buildings and forcing 2,000 people to evacuate their homes.

On the morning of their wedding the bride and groom had to move to a hotel after their Airbnb lost power.

Their plans for the rehearsal dinner had to be changed as most of their vendors and staff were forced to evacuate.

But the show went on as Katie wed Curtis. Photographer Karna Roa had the idea to capture the bride and groom with the fire burning at the back.

She explained to Metro.co.uk that this was the ‘new normal’ for California’s wine country.

An air tanker drops retardant while battling the Kincade Fire near Healdsburg, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. The overall weather picture in northern areas is improving as powerful, dry winds bring extreme fire weather to Southern California. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The fire began on 23 October but the exact cause is unknown (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The picture – which saw Katie and Curtis wearing face masks while donning stoic expressions, was inspired by a famous painting.

‘The image was created in the style of the 1930s painting American Gothic,’ explained Karna of KMR Photography.

‘The original painting by Grant Wood depicted normal life in 1930 in the United States.

‘As the couple stood in the vineyard with masks I wondered if this was the “new normal” for the California Wine Country in 2019.’

She then posted the images on social media where they went viral. Users said the picture was ‘powerful’.

Karna hopes to show people just how prevalent wildfires are in the state which has been plagued by at least nine wildfires since last week.

‘I do hope this is raising awareness of the California fires across the nation and world.

‘This is the fourth wedding I’ve shot that was threatened by wildfires. This is the first time I’ve created an image like this.’

Despite all the obstacles on such a special occasion, Katie and Curtis felt they sent a strong message with their image.

The next morning, the wedding party had to be evacuated and moved to San Francisco where they could continue the celebrations.

MORE: Inseparable kids who say they’ll be together forever stage fake wedding photoshoot

MORE: Couple slammed for Handmaid’s Tale themed wedding photos

MORE: Curious raccoons interrupt couple’s wedding photoshoot

Mixed Up: ‘Being stopped and searched by police taught me to identify as black’


Adu Lalouschek is a producer at Culture Trip. He says he identifies as both mixed-race and black, but he knows society views him solely as a black man.

‘My mum is Austrian and is of Czech and German heritage. My dad is Ghanaian, specifically from the Ashanti region,’ Adu tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Both my parents were the first in their families to settle in the UK. They both came to London in the early 70s and have seen London change through the generations.

‘My mum came to study art and felt London, especially at that time, was the place for her to freely express her creativity. My dad was a poet and a musician who integrated himself into the early Black-British art and cultural movements.

‘When I talk about my family history, both strands feel completely different.

‘My mum comes from a creative family, my dad comes from a traditional Ghanaian background.

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. Mixed Up Natalie Morris
‘Being a young, black kid with an Afro in suburban Vienna – I stood out’ (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

‘Both histories have fascinating stories and figures to draw inspiration from, whether that be hearing stories of my Grandmother walking for six-weeks from what is now the Czech Republic to Vienna after WW2 with just a suitcase, or about my rich family history in Kumasi, Ghana.

‘I can probably count on one hand the number of people I’ve met in my life with the exact same mix as me – not that I ask every mixed-race person “where are you really from?”.

‘That said, I feel being both from West Africa and central Europe is now increasingly more common.’

Adu says that when he was younger, he felt the internal friction of his mixed heritage a lot more; he puts it down to figuring out who he was. But he says growing up in London helped to accelerate the rate of his own self-acceptance.

Adu as a baby
‘My mum came to study art and felt London, especially at that time, was the place for her to freely express her creativity’ (Picture: Adu Lalouschek)

‘I was exposed to many different cultures and had an appreciation for the breadth of different identities,’ Adu tells us.

‘As a kid, I used to visit my Grandmother in Vienna twice a year, and while I loved visiting our family there, being a young, black kid with an Afro in suburban Vienna – I stood out.

‘At school in London, even though my first name is Adu, many people were shocked when I told them I was Ghanaian. Many assumed that I was of Afro-Carribean heritage and would always ask how my parents met.

‘As I’ve grown older, the way I view identity has evolved and I’ve learned that I’ll never be able to summarise myself in one word or phrase and that’s okay.

‘If I were to try to now, I guess I could say I’m a Ghanaian-Austrian filmmaker, who was born in Vienna but is as London as they come. Try that for small talk.’

Adu has always struggled with the question of which side he feels more closely aligned to. He doesn’t feel comfortable picking ‘sides’ and finds it frustrating that he is expected to.

‘Another way to look at this,’ Adu says, ‘is that whenever someone asks me where I’m from, my response isLondon”. If probed further I would say Ghanaian-Austrian. I’m not one without the other.

Adu as a child
‘My whole life I’ve been aware of myself as black, and my experiences tie into that’ (Picture: Adu Lalouschek)

‘I do, however, identify as black and feel a strong connection within the black British community. That’s because my whole life I’ve been aware of myself as black, and my experiences tie into that.’

As a teenager in London, Adu was stopped and searched by the police on a number of occasions, and he says it had a direct impact on his formative years, and how he saw himself in the world.

A study earlier this year found that black people in England and Wales are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police. The figures were released after home secretary Sajid Javid recently made the controversial powers easier for police to use.

‘When I’d hear the police talking on the radio and refer to me as “IC3” or “young black male” there was no ambiguity to how I was viewed in society,’ explains Adu. But he also says this isn’t the only way he relates to being black.

Adu as a child playing the piano
‘As a creative, my work is influenced by my experience and varied upbringing’ (Picture: Adu Lalouschek)

‘I have so many positive experiences for how my blackness has shaped the way I view the world, and being mixed-race goes hand-in-hand with who I am today.

‘As a creative, my work is influenced by my experience and varied upbringing. If anything, being mixed has been an asset to me.’

Alongside the benefits of being mixed, Adu, like a lot of mixed-race people, experienced an element of internal conflict when he was younger – he had to do some work to come to terms with his identity, but he realises this is a consequence of the problematic ways society understands race.

‘I dealt with racism in white society and the privilege of having lighter skin within the black community,’ says Adu. ‘I always had a nuanced understanding of how identity and privilege shift, depending on your environment.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever met someone from a minority background who hasn’t experienced racism at some point in their life; be that overt or covert.

‘We live in a majority white society that is still coming to terms with its minority population. You can see that with issues like Brexit and the Windrush scandal. I am also fortunate to live in the melting pot of London, where MLE (Multi-Cultural London English) is the predominant language of the younger generation.’

Adu says that one of his goals is to use his professional position to be able to improve levels of diversity, particularly within media – which is still an overwhelmingly white workforce, even in London.

Adu as a baby
‘My parents are from two different continents, but my experiences have also been greatly informed by being from London’ (Picture: Adu Lalouschek)

As part of that journey, Adu is making documentaries about Ghana, his father’s birthplace, and discovering the links to his lineage at the same time.

‘Going to Ghana for the first time as a teenager and re-connecting with my heritage completely changed my viewpoint on everything,’ says Adu. ‘I intuitively understood what returning to my father’s homeland would mean for my identity; I felt whole.

‘Making documentaries in Ghana about everyday people and their lives, was a way for me to help others to connect to their background and see Ghana in an authentic light.’

Authenticity is important to Adu, as is individualism. He doesn’t want to be lumped into a collective group. He tells me that he wants people to understand that his mixed heritage is unique to him, and him alone.

‘Although I can empathise with the experiences of other dual-heritage people, we don’t necessarily share the same background or life experiences,’ he explains. ‘My parents are from two different continents, but my experiences have also been greatly informed by being from London.

‘I might have more in common with my Asian friend in Bethnal Green than I do with a Jamaican-Irish person who I’ve just met.

‘Identity is important to acknowledge, and I am proud of difference, but people can’t be so easily put into boxes.’

Mixed Up

Being mixed-race is so much more than just black and white (Pictures: Jerry Syder)

Mixed Up is our weekly series that gets to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.

Going beyond discussions of divided identity, this series takes a look at the unique joys, privileges and complexities that come with being mixed-race - across of variety of different contexts.

The mixed-race population is the UK's fastest-growing ethnic group, and yet there is still so much more to understand about the varied lived experiences of individuals within this hugely heterogenous group.

Each week we speak to the people who know exactly how it feels to navigate this inbetween space.

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Friends tell me I’m not “black enough” but I won’t change who I am’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘You don’t have to be white to be English – I’m proud to represent modern England’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Don’t tell me to pick a side – I am mixed-race, so I am both’

How to effectively double your annual leave in 2020

Drawing of someone writing an email on their laptop
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Is it a little soon to be planning your holidays for 2020?

Perhaps, but we like to think of it as being super-organised rather than procrastinating important stuff to browse flights to Japan.

If you’re in the advanced booking boat with us, it’s time to get strategic.

As is always the case, there are certain sneaky ways to make your annual leave feel like more days off than it actually is.

How, you may ask, do you do that without just pulling a load of sick days?

Simple (ish) – book in your days off around Bank Holidays so you can get big chunks of time off rather than just a few spare days.

One guide effectively turns your 28 days annual leave (that’s the UK average, FYI), into 60 days off… including weekends.

To be clear, this is not at all a magic trick to actually give you more time off, but a technique to use if you want to stack your holidays together.

Okay. Ready? Get out your calendar and note this all down.

How to make the most of your annual leave:

December 2019/January 2020 

Take a 14-day holiday by only booking seven days off by requesting days off around the festive period. You’ll want to book off 23 December to 5 January.



Take an 11-day holiday by booking five days off: 9 April to 19 April. This is right across Easter so you’ll get some freebie days.



Booking off 8 May to 25 May will get you an 18-day holiday while only using 10 days of annual leave.



Book off 29 August to 6 September to have nine days in a row off by booking four days off.



You can have an eight day holiday by booking two days off: 28 December to 4 January.


Total annual leave taken: 28

Total days (including weekends) off: 60

MORE: How you sign off your email could say something about your personality

MORE: Should you read work emails when you’re on holiday?

Want to get paid for being a ‘fur butler’ to Kitty the dog?

Mountain dog in the snow
Meet your new boss (Picture: kittythebernese)

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

That adage couldn’t be truer if your job involves working with dogs. It’s a good thing, then, that a job listing has just opened up for a ‘fur butler’.

The St. Regis Aspen Resort in Colorado is looking for someone to take care of its resident Bernese Mountain dog, Kitty.

Kitty is the hotel’s mascot and he (yep, not a girl) needs some serious pampering. The job of the fur butler is to cater to his every need.

As part of the listing, the day-to-day activities include walks, airport greetings, playdates, and more.

But if you’re the kind of person who prefers four-legged friends over humans then you probably won’t mind answering to his beck and call too much.

Let’s face it, we love dogs and they love us so what better boss is there to work for?

Dog in the snow
You’ll need to tend to Kitty’s every beck and call (Picture: kittythebernese)

The job isn’t just suited to dog lovers, as the butler will be in charge of the entire Pet Programme.

The lucky candidate will get to look after all the pets staying at the resort.

Bonus points if you’re a snow bunny as it is a ski resort. You might even get to do some snowboarding and sledding in your downtime.

But the main role consists of taking care of Kitty.

A job description has been posted on Facebook, saying: ‘The Fur Butler’s success is rooted in a deep passion for animals, service, uncompromising standards, the ability to anticipate needs, and impeccable interpersonal skills.

‘The Fur Butler will be expected to be comfortable and calm with pet restroom activity.

‘We’d add that you probably need strong inter-species skills too’.

Oh, and you’ll have to take lots of pics of Kitty too. Staying in a five-star hotel, chilling with some dogs – you probably don’t need that reminder to take lots of pics.

If all that’s got you saying ‘yep, it’s for me’ then shoot over an email to kitty@stregis.com.

Good luck.

MORE: Get paid £770 to watch Disney movies every day for a month

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Four-time cancer survivor shares how being diagnosed while she was pregnant changed her life

celebrity makeup artist Susie Lee after being diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time
Susie Lee has been diagnosed with cancer four times (Picture: Susie Lee)

Susie Lee, 43, is a business owner, skincare expert, celebrity makeup artist, and the mum of an eight-year-old.

She’s also a four-time cancer survivor, with her second diagnosis coming while she was pregnant with her son. Susie delayed chemotherapy out of fear for her baby, and ended up having to cope with the combination of treatment for cancer, looking after a newborn, and postpartum depression all at the same time.

She survived, created her company, ECHO VIE, and now shares her story to show others they can make it through their darkest times.

‘It was very difficult,’ Susie tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I have to be honest and say that thoughts of suicide would creep through my brain.

‘It was all too much and I felt like I was drowning… I just wanted it all to stop.

‘But I would imagine a black pond and only allow myself to dip my toes into the bad thoughts. I would not allow myself to plunge into the water, for fear that I wouldn’t get out.

‘The only thing that kept me sane was my baby. He helped me get through that time.’

Celebrity makeup artist susie lee
The first time Susie was told she had cancer was while she was in university (Picture: courtesy of Susie Lee)

The first time Susie, from Chicago, was diagnosed with cancer she was 20 years old and between her third and fourth year at university.

She often had coughs and colds but assumed that was just a symptom of living in dorm rooms among loads of other students.

But then she noticed a small, painless, swollen bump on the left side of her neck, close to her collarbone. Susie went to get it checked but was dismissed as just getting over another cold.

That was until one doctor gave Susie a chest x-ray, which revealed a growth in her chest.

She underwent surgery for the removal of the node as well as radiation.

The second diagnosis came over a decade later, when Susie was six months pregnant with her first child.

susie with a bald head after going through chemotherapy for cancer
The second time, she was pregnant with her first child (Picture: Susie Lee)

While on a babymoon to Mexico, Susie noticed that the underwire of her bra was poking into her chest and causing her pain. She dismissed it as just your standard irritation from a cheap bra, but days later the bump was still there.

She made an appointment for a checkup and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘When I felt a lump in my breast, I thought surely this is something normal that happens to pregnant women,’ says Susie.

‘But I did have a gut feeling that something was not quite right.

‘I went straight away to get it looked at with an ultrasound. In the same afternoon, I had a core biopsy which confirmed that it was breast cancer. I was in complete disbelief and went
numb. I was absolutely devastated to find out that I had cancer, again.’

Being pregnant added a new layer to Susie’s concerns.

She tells us: ‘Before, I only had to worry about my own body, but this time I had another life to worry about… it was awful.

celebrity makeup artist susie lee during treatment for cancer
The makeup artist decided to delay chemotherapy until after giving birth (Picture: Susie Lee)

‘To add insult to injury, I would have loved to drink myself into a stupor, but my usual coping method was not an option.’

Despite her doctor recommending immediate treatment, Susie made the difficult decision to delay chemotherapy until after the birth of her child.

She had to have a lumpectomy while pregnant, however, and needed to be awake during surgery.

‘I had to really meditate and focus during the surgery because I wanted to keep both our heart rates down, because I could have gone into spontaneous labour,’ Susie explains.

The doctors ended up inducing her baby two weeks early in order to start treatment. Thankfully the baby was healthy.

A month after her first son was born, Susie began treatment.

susie with a shaved head following chemotherapy
That meant she had to deal with chemotherapy while also raising her first child and facing postpartum depression (Picture: Susie Lee)

‘I chose to delay treatment by a month,’ she says. ‘We were planning a bi-lateral mastectomy after birth, but I wanted to be able to breastfeed.

‘So a month postpartum, we began chemotherapy. Every step of the way I had to make really difficult choices for treatment.

‘Some of my doctors were really pushing me to proceed with chemotherapy during pregnancy, but I just couldn’t allow that to happen. We can only have a glass of wine occasionally, but you can pump me full of toxic chemicals and it’s ok for the baby? I was skeptical. I chose to wait until after birth.

‘I knew that it was caught early, so I gambled with time and made the decision to have the experience that I would never be able to have again. I really wanted to breastfeed, and I’m happy that I had the opportunity.’

The months that followed were hard.

Alongside dealing with all the ways her body had changed thanks to pregnancy and labour, Susie was faced with side-effects from chemotherapy that made her ‘completely miserable’ – all while raising a newborn and battling postpartum depression.

The immense challenges she had faced pushed Susie to make some changes.

susie lee during treatment for cancer
Going through treatment radically changed Susie’s outlook (Picture: Susie Lee)

The mum had long used makeup as a tool to enhance people’s unique beauty and inspire confidence and was overjoyed to be able to continue her work as a makeup artist after giving birth.

Getting pregnant and dealing with cancer for the second time made her consider the impact of products she was using on health. She changed up her diet, cleaned out her personal care products, and became more critical of everything she purchased, avoiding highly processed food and beauty items containing any dodgy chemicals.

Plus, chemotherapy had wrecked Susie’s skin. She needed ultra-nourishing skincare products that were all-natural, actually worked, and that made her feel good.

Struggling to find products that met those requirements, Susie began making her own in her kitchen. At first, these natural skincare items were just for Susie and her family, but soon she began using them on set during work, and people asked if they could get their own.

That’s how ECHO VIE, Susie’s holistic skincare line, was born.

echo vie founder susie lee
It also changed her view on beauty and led to the launch of her skincare business, ECHO VIE (Picture: Susie Lee)

Her experiences with cancer helped not only to create her business, but changed the way Susie sees her own beauty – and how she views every other part of her life.

‘I am trying to be as gentle as I can to myself and my body,’ Susie tells us. ‘I am not keen on needles and surgery because of all that I’ve already endured.

‘My experiences have helped me to create deeper connections to the people around me, especially my son. I spend as much time with him as I can; and not time where he’s doing one activity, and I’m mindlessly on my phone.

‘We have conversations, laugh and play together. I’ve spoked to him about cancer and death, which sounds so morbid, but he seems to understand.’

Unfortunately, Susie’s experience with cancer didn’t end after the arrival of her son.

Not long after finishing chemotherapy, Susie felt another lump. It was removed, tested, and came back positive for cancer.

Then, in April 2018, Susie was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time. More surgery followed.

echo vie founder and celebrity makeup artist susie lee
Susie is now the owner of a business, a mum to a son, and a four-time cancer survivor, (Picture: Susie Lee)

Today Susie continues to live life to its full potential, knowing full well just how fragile it can be.

She shares her story openly with her Instagram followers in the hope that she’ll show others struggling that they’re not alone and inspire people to live life to the full.

‘It’s crazy that it doesn’t matter how many times it happens, nothing can prepare you for the avalanche of thoughts that take over your brain when you’re told you have cancer,’ Susie says.

‘I’ve learned that no one is guaranteed a long life, so you must live each day. I care less about what people think of me. I try and take care of my mental, emotional, and physical state of being.

‘After my second time going through chemotherapy, I felt like time was so precious. I didn’t want to waste any of it.’

Do you have a powerful story to share? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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The best last-minute Halloween costumes for pregnant women

One woman dressed as an avocado, one as a tamagotchi and one as a cat with a ball of wool. The Halloween costumes are for pregnant women.
Use your bump to be an avocado, Tamagotchi or cat playing with wool this Halloween (Pictures: Instagram)

Thinking up a Halloween costume can be difficult at the best of times – but what if you’ve also got a baby bump to consider?

Mums-to-be who want to get in on the spooky spirit might find that their normal go-to costume doesn’t fit anymore.

But there are lots of things you can do that make the bump part of the costume, creating a really quirky costume.

Most of these ideas just need a few things that you should have lying around at home, so you can put something together tonight ahead of the 31 October tomorrow.

We’ve picked out some of the best Halloween costumes for pregnant women that others have shared on Instagram to give you some inspiration.

1: Be a true millennial and dress like an avocado, using your bump as the stone.

This one just needs some cardboard, painted green, with a hole cut in it. Wear something brown for that stone colour.

Some even turned it into a cute couple costume with their other half going as the toast.



2: The bumpkin

For a really easy Halloween look, grab some paint and use the round shape of your bump to create a pumpkin.


3: The baseball

Again, using the bump in the costume, wear a white t-shirt, draw on lines with a white marker and throw on a baseball jacket, hat and some Converse. An easy but comfortable look.


4: The Tamagotchi

All you need for this one is some coloured card, some string and some comfy plain clothes.


5: The fried egg

Like the avocado, this one uses the bump as part of the costume. Take some card, paint it white and wear yellow to make your bump the yolk.


6: Beer pong

A great costume for a group, mums-to-be just need a black skirt and jacket with a white coat underneath.


7: Cat with a ball of wool

Update this Halloween classic by sticking wool to the area around your bump.


8: Rey and BB8 from Star Wars

Combine two characters with beige material, a belt, a white top and some felt shapes stuck to the t-shirt.


9: Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball

Recreate the classic Miley Cyrus video. Cut a hole around your bump in a black top, wear over a grey top and stick a barbie doll to a necklace.


10: Gumball machine

Wear red on the bottom, add pom poms around your bump on a white top and draw a price sign on a bit of paper.


11: The Golden Snitch

Another cute couples costume – paint your bump gold and add some cardboard wings. Your partner can dress as Harry Potter or another Hogwarts student to complete the look.


12: The mummy

Play on your mum-to-be status with this cute costume. Add bandages around a black top and leggings, with eyes cut out of paper on your baby bump.


MORE: Children’s Halloween cake topper looks much ruder than planned

MORE: An easy guide to non-sexy Halloween costumes

Starbucks’ Christmas cups have a release date – and it’s soon

Starbucks' Christmas cups
You know what that means… Christmas is almost here (Picture: Starbucks)

There are a few ways you can tell that it’s almost Christmas.

Your diary starts to get dizzyingly full, every sandwich in Pret features a sickly dollop of cranberry sauce, and of course, Starbucks releases its Christmas cups.

It’s a festive staple and you can’t really start to get excited about the holidays until you have a limited edition Sturbucks cup permanently attached to your hand.

The good news is you don’t have long to wait until you can get your hands on one. The other good news is that this year’s designs are really cute.

The vibrant, glittery, textured designs are so good you’re going to want to invest in every single one. And you’re probably going to end up drinking more caffeine that your body can handle.

In America – they get some really cool cups: The Iridescent Cold Cup is back for a second season in Bling Platinum, and this time there’s also a neon pink version. We love the debossed logo.

Starbucks' Christmas cups have a release date - and it's soon Picture: Starbucks
We need to touch these (Picture: Starbucks)

The plastic Cold Cup in Mirror Glitter Gold has a gold mirrored finish and white glitter accent, perfect for your ice Queen winter aesthetic.

If you’re after something a touch more vibrant, the Green Confetti Tumbler is bursting with multi-coloured holiday cheer, and we love it.

Starbucks' Christmas cups have a release date - and it's soon Picture: Starbucks
Nothing says Christmas like multi-coloured confetti (Picture: Starbucks)

But don’t worry, the cups available here in the UK are fabulous as well.

The cold cups come in both blue and red glitter, for a hint of sparkle with your festive Frap. But our favourite has to be the design with the snowy day design with adorable, frost dusted trees.

Snowy Day Cold Cup design
This is the cutest (Picture: Starbucks)

There will also be a timeless range of reusable festive cups – keep it classic with red, or opt for something edgier with a black cup emblazoned with the slogan; ‘Peace Love Coffee.’

Reusable Cups
We need every single one (Picture: Starbucks)

But when can we get them? We hear you cry.

Well, according to rumors in the secret Starbucks Facebook group, the release date for the holiday cups in the US is Thursday 7 November.

But the UK designs are available earlier and will be in shops on Tuesday 5 November.

Not long to wait, yay!

This is also thought to be the same day that Starbucks’ Christmas drinks arrive too – and yes, that means the iconic red cups.

Time to get out your festive jumper. Halloween who? We’re getting ready for Christmas from now.

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Easyjet trialling new way of boarding the plane that could make it much faster

passengers boarding an easyJet flight
If the trial works, queues could get shorter (Picture: Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Getting on a plane always takes much longer than you expect.

Cramming that amount of people into a small space means you need to queue just to get through the gate, then to get through the doors of the plane and then still wait behind someone while they organise their belongings as they stand in the narrow aisle.

Easyjet and Gatwick airport have teamed up to trial a new method to try to make boarding much quicker.

Instead of boarding passengers all at once, separating them into just front and back, they’re trying to board them depending on whether they are in the window, middle or aisle seats.

Staff are trying a range of sequences to test which is the fastest and most relaxing.

Patterns include seating people from the back row to the front, window seats first, followed by middle and aisle seats.

Anyone who has booked priority boarding and people who require special assistance will still board first but the idea is to reduce the time it takes for the remaining passengers to get on board.

Initial results show that they could reduce boarding times by up to 10%.

If a particular method is successful, they may use it for more flights in future.

Abhi Chacko, Head of Enabling Technologies and Digital Innovation at Gatwick Airport, said: ‘We want to explore whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room and when boarding the aircraft.

‘Early indications are that this new technique has the potential to reduce the overall boarding time.

‘By communicating to passengers better and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passenger rushing forward at any stage.’

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‘Pathological eater’ had to wear XXXXXXXXL clothes after his weight rocketed to a third of a tonne

Photos of Victor Gutierrez at his heaviest
‘Pathological eater’ Victor Gutierrez’s love of burgers and burritos saw his weight balloon to almost a third of a tonne (661lbs) and forced him to wear size XXXXXXXXL clothing (Pictures: Jeff Rayner/Metro US)

A ‘pathological eater’ had to wear XXXXXXXXL clothes after his weight ballooned to almost a third of a tonne.

Victor Gutierrez, 34, was forced to shop in specialist stores for 8XL garments and get his aunt to make his pants after tipping the scales at 661 pounds.

Victor, who works as a gas station clerk in San Clemente, California, was so big he struggled to fit his stomach under the steering wheel of his car.

He also required a seat belt extender to buckle himself in safely.

Victor’s shoe size swelled, and his weight also caused him crippling pain to the point where it hurt just to stand up – or even stay sitting down.

Photo of Victor Gutierrez with a friend
Victor Gutierrez grew so heavy it even hurt him to sit down. He would have to psyche himself up for the walk between his truck and front door after finishing a shift at work (Picture: Metro US)
Photo of Victor in front of the Hollywood sign
Victor, from Los Angeles, would eat McDonald’s several times a day washed down with fruit juice and said ‘water was my enemy’ (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)

Victor told Metro US: ‘I had to buy shirts at big and tall stores.

‘And my pants were made by an auntie because the ones from the big and tall stores no longer fit.

‘The biggest size they had in pants was a 70 waist, and I was bigger than that….I felt like a monster.’

Victor says his weight ballooned thanks to an unhealthy diet, and worries about a brother who was regularly in and out of prison.

He explained: ‘My fiancee called me a pathological eater.

Photo of slimmed-down Victor Guitierrez
But Victor has dramatically slimmed-down undergoing a gastric sleeve operation, and now weighs just 280 pounds (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)
Victor pictured giving the thumbs-up
Victor was told he was too heavy for a gastric bypass operation, but eventually found a surgeon in Mexico who agreed to perform gastric sleeve surgery (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)

‘I would have a hamburger combo meal by myself, and then half an hour later my mother would call me, ask me out to eat, so I could go out and eat again and have another burger or meal

‘I drank fruit juice, sugary fruit drinks. I would never drink water, ever. Water was my enemy.

‘For breakfast I would have McDonald’s – two sausage McMuffins with egg, a breakfast burrito, two hash browns and an orange juice.

‘For lunch I’d have a breakfast burrito with fries and soda, sometimes two burritos.

‘My weakness was was bread, pastries, muffins, cheesecake.’

Victor pictured in a pair of his old jeans
Victor says he loves being able to buy cheaper, normal-sized clothes in regular stores – and says he no longer ‘feels like a monster’ (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)
Victor poses in one of his old shirts
Victor is now down to a size ‘XL’ – and says his shoe size has also shrunk as his weight has decreased (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)

Victor said working night shifts in a convenience store gave him easy access to food and soda, and that he didn’t notice his weight creep up.

But his size had a terrible impact on his general health, as he explained: ‘It would physically hurt to even be on my feet.

‘After work I would stay in my truck parked because I had to build up the courage to walk 15 feet to my front door, it was so painful.’ Victor also neglected his social life, and would stay in his room and refuse to see friends because he was so self-conscious about his size.

Victor finally decided to do something about his weight after developing pockets of fat on his legs, and being warned by doctors his weight would kill him.

He attempted to organize a gastric band – a procedure which sees the stomach pinched to reduce its size – but was told he was too big to undergo the surgery safely.

Victor pictured cooking himself a healthy meal at home
Victor has swapped his old diet of burgers and burritos for lean meat, eggs, fish, rice – and lots of vegetables (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)
Victor shows off one of his healthy new meals
Victor’s stomach has dramatically shrunk in size, meaning each meal he eats now weighs just four ounces (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)

So Victor instead found a surgeon in Ensenada, Mexico who agreed to perform a gastric sleeve operation – where part of the stomach is cut out.

He went under the knife for the $4,500 surgery in March 2017, and began losing weight almost immediately afterwards.

Victor, who now wears a size XL, said: ‘I first started to notice the weight drop off after a month.

‘I started following a very active plan – eating high protein.

‘I started weighing out my food – four or five ounces per meal, and walking 20,000 steps a day.’

Photo of Victor and fiancee Taryn Lee Thompson
Victor’s weight loss surgery also helped him meet fiancee Taryn Lee Thompson, who has undergone a similar procedure. The couple plan to get married in 2021 (Picture: Jeff Rayner for Metro US)

The dieter swapped his old junk food-laden diet for spinach chicken salads, hard boiled eggs, lean beef with rice and snacks of yogurt and cucumber.

Victor was thrilled to see the weight drop off and his overall health improve, with compliments flooding in from family members and customers at the store where he works.

The slimmer now weights 284 pounds, and says he may celebrate reaching his goal weight of 270 pounds with a tattoo.

He even met his fiancee Taryn Lee Thompson, 37, in a support group for other slimmers, and is now saving to have excess skin left over after his weight loss removed by a surgeon.

Victor, who plans to marry Taryn in 2021, said: ‘I feel fantastic.

‘I still can’t believe it.

‘My fiance says “I can’t believe you used to be 661 pounds.”

‘We watch these TV shows about obese people all the time, and I can’t believe I used to be like that.

‘It’s unbelievable how well the surgery has worked. I don’t recognize who that person is. It’s not me anymore.’

Do you have a US news story?

Contact Metro’s New York newsdesk on (+1) 212-4029-055 or email jimmy.mccloskey@metro.co.uk

Woman accidentally sends manager an animoji of herself as a hungry pig asking for a Chinese takeway


Ready to laugh at someone else’s deep shame?

Makeup artist Issie Carmody experienced a deeply embarrassing – but hilarious – text-based mishap, sending an animoji of herself as a hungry pig to her new manager.

You really need to watch and listen to the video above to understand just how funny a message it was to send to your boss, but essentially Issie turned herself into a pig and asked for a Chinese takeaway in a message intended for her boyfriend.

Unfortunately Issie had another chat going with her new manager, who she had known for just two days. She sent that animoji clip to her boss instead of her boyfriend.

The good news is that Issie shared the video online, writing: ‘Guys I’m actually f** mortified.

‘I recently got a new manager at my work, and I’ve known her for two days!”

A WOMAN accidentally sent her new boss video of herself as an animated pig begging her boyfriend to get a Chinese takeaway. Make-up artist Issie Carmody had known her boss for just two days when she misdirected the toe-curling clip. The 22-year-old used an app to turn her face into that of a pig and then repeated the word "Chinese" in a variety of voices. Issie, from Corsham, Wilts, shared her "idiotic" clip on social media, admitting: "Guys I?m actually f****** mortified. "I recently got a new manager at my work, and I've known her for two days!"
The secondhand cringe is oh so real (Picture: Issie Carmody/Deadline News)

‘I wanted to send my boyfriend an Animoji of me as a pig saying that I wanted a Chinese.

‘Well, I’ve sent it to my new manager and it’s the most idiotic video I have ever created.’

Issie realised her mistake immediately and messaged her boss to apologise. Thankfully her boss saw the funny side and replied: ‘I hope he gets you one.’

And even better – Issie’s boyfriend did indeed pick up a Chinese takeaway, which she proudly posed with in a follow-up photo, captioned: ‘Guess who got her Chinese finally.’

All’s well that ends well, especially if sweet and sour sauce is involved.

Issie celebrates the arrival of her Chinese takeaway
Issie eventually did get a Chinese takeaway (Picture: Issie Carmody/Deadline News)

Issie said: ‘I realised almost instantly that I made the mistake!

‘I was already talking to my boss about work so the conversation was already up.

‘I sent it and had a bad feeling in my gut that I had done something wrong.

‘Looking up I saw my boss’s name and that’s when I realised I made a huge mistake.

‘My heart and stomach dropped! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

‘My boss was very understanding and said that it made her and her husband laugh a lot!’

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Why do young people keep saying ‘ok boomer’?

Hoody saying ok boomer
Kinda want one (Picture: Bonfire)

The other day, a 17-year-old mocked me for my analogue watch. Apparently it was ‘old school’.

And in this way, we millennials were quickly banished to the back of the shelf, along with grumpy baby boomers calling us snowflakes.

As we get closer to entering 2020, we make the sobering realisation that the first of the 90s kids will be turning 30.

Yikes, we’re old. And nothing makes us feel older than when the young ‘uns brush us in with the baby boomers and Gen Xers.

Generation Z has been doing that with one cutting phrase: ‘ok boomer’.

Judging by the words, you’d think the dig is reserved to the generations preceding millennials but these youngsters have been conflating us all.

Anything that’s deemed condescending or opposed to their beliefs might be met with the retort ‘ok boomer’, usually reserved for anyone over 30.

‘We’re not that old’ you might protest. But when you consider that the oldest millennial is 38 (the youngest 23), it does seem pretty old to a 17-year-old born in 2006.

But no one (aged 30+) is above facing the retort. Even Barack Obama was trolled with the very phrase while advising youngsters against cancel culture.

The age range for baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z

Baby Boomers are born between 1946 and 1964 and are called so because after WWII there was a huge surge in the birth rate

Generation X includes anyone born between 1965 and 1980.

Millennials are those who are born between 1981 and 2000.

Generation Z is anyone born after 2000.

As with most things enjoyed by these digital natives, the phrase was conceived on the internet. It’s been scribbled in notebooks, pumpkins and high school pictures in America.

The popularity endures as it seems to be Generation Z’s go-to retort to dismiss older people who don’t understand their passions, whether it’s climate change, mental health or Peppa Pig.

‘Ok boomer’ is most prolific on video-sharing app Tik-Tok where it’s enjoyed in artworks, audios, and makeup tutorials.


One teenager who’s designed merchandise (the last stage of the meme cycle) told the New York Times what the words mean.

‘The older generations grew up with a certain mindset, and we have a different perspective,’ said Shannon O’Connor, 19.

‘A lot of them don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe people can get jobs with dyed hair, and a lot of them are stubborn in that view. Teenagers just respond “Ok, boomer”.

‘It’s like, we’ll prove you wrong, we’re still going to be successful because the world is changing.’

With young people becoming more and more involved in social affairs on topics such as global warming and the political landscape, it might be a good time to start listening to their criticisms of the status quo.

Lest we be grouped with baby boomers (sorry not sorry).

MORE: Teacher keeps a list of ‘Generation Z’ slang words and honestly, we stan

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When does Costa’s Christmas menu launch?

Irish Velvet coffee in Christmas background
The Irish velvet coffee is one of Costa’s festive highlights this year (Picture: Costa)

Christmas might still be a couple of months away but that hasn’t stopped your favourite coffee shops from getting in the festive spirit already.

Among those who’ll be making it feel a lot like Christmas very soon are Costa, who recently unveiled details of their special Yuletide drinks and menu for the year – with mince pies, festive cakes and of course coffees galore.

It’ll all be hitting your local branch very soon – but just when can you go and get Christmas-ed up at Costa?

Here’s when the menu launches…

When does Costa’s Christmas menu launch?

Costa’s Christmas menu is due to launch in stores on Friday 1 November.

However some of the most popular Christmas drinks are available now, with the chain confirming on Instagram that Gingerbread Latte, Black Forest Hot Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline were all available.


The chain confirmed in response to a follower that these were just a couple of favourites which have already returned to stores ahead of the festive launch.

‘Christmas has arrived early with our returning favourites back on the menu!’ they said on Instagram before announcing the trio had arrived in store before the rest of the Christmas fare.

What’s on the Christmas menu at Costa?

Costa Coffee's Terry's Chocolate orange muffin
Chocolate orange muffin anyone? (Picture; Costa)

New drinks on the menu will include the non-alcoholic Irish Velvet coffee (from £3.30), latte and hot chocolate – which all have hints of caramel and vanilla.

There’s a new festive spiced cappuccino (£2.85) on the menu also, along with a new winter character roast (25p).

Or if something a little cooler takes your fancy there’s also Irish Velvet Frostino (£3.45) and Hazelnut Praline Frostino (£3.45) joining the menu.

Tea isn’t being left out either, with a new Christmas tea (£2.30) coming to stores, as well as the return of the hot spiced apple flavour (£2.50)

What food items are new on the Costa Christmas menu?

A picture of Costa's festive cups
You can even get festive when it comes to your Christmas cups (Picture: Costa)

Visitors to Costa this year can not only indulge in their new Terry’s Chocolate Orange muffin but can also tuck into Santa Claus gingerbread (£1.95), Penelope Polar Bear cake (£2.65) and Peter Penguin shortcake (£1.75)

There’s also a British Turkey and the Trimmings Toastie (£3.95) as well as the British Turkey Feast Baguette (£3.95).

And let’s not forget the return of British Pigs and Blankets Mac and Cheese, mince pies and, for vegans, the Veggies Under Vest Sandwich and Rocky Road bites.

Will there be new cups in Costa this year?


Yup, you can expect some very nice disposable cups emblazoned with Santa, reindeers, bears and penguins.

Or if you want to go down the reusable route, the chain will be offering a collapsible silver and Costa Coffee red cup, or a tumbler in rose gold.

MORE: How to order the Pumpkin Birthday Cake latte from the Starbucks secret menu

Shar Pei who was found chained with front legs chopped off needs help to get prosthetics

Tally doing her best to walk
Tally has no front legs (Picture: SWNS)

A Shar Pei puppy who had her front paws chopped off by cruel thugs in Romania is now enjoying a new life in Britain.

Tally, thought to have been around eight months old when she was subjected to the horrific act of cruelty, was found chained to a tree stump in a town outside Bucharest.

She was unable to stand up due to her injuries but began wagging her tail as soon as she saw the person who rescued her.

Tally, a Shar Pei mix, was fostered in Romania before being brought to the UK in a two-day journey to Scotland, and now lives with a foster family in Ayr, South Ayrshire.

Tally jumping
She gets around the best she can (Picture: SWNS)

Despite her limited mobility, Tally still tries to jump up on the sofa like any other dog – and manages to get around on her stumps.

However the imbalance in length between her front and back legs is putting pressure on her spine and her hips.

A set of prosthetics to help her get around will cost an estimated £10,000 – but hopes are high it could transform her life.

Currently, there are plans to raise £600 for a specially made set of wheels which will help Tally until the money can be raised to pay for the prosthetics, which can only be fitted by Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick.

Tally in Romania
She was found abanoned and tied up (Picture: Gina McCallum /SWNS.COM)

Tally was brought to the UK by charity Shar Pei Rescue Scotland, which operates on a shoestring budget but has rescued more than 600 dogs.

Foster mum, Karen Harvey, 48, said: ‘Tally is around 15 months old, that’s why we want to get prosthetics for her – because she’s young.

‘I have got pictures of her chained to a tree with no front legs.

Tally with her family
She’s now being looked after by a foster family (Picture: SWNS)

‘She can get about in the front and back garden, by pushing herself about, and she can jump up on the couch but the imbalance is putting pressure on her spine and her hips.

‘She will end up getting arthritis.

‘We are fundraising to get her some wheels to take the weight off, but it will be about £10,000 for prosthetics.

‘It will improve her quality of life.’

Her grandson, Tyler Roach, aged nine, dotes on the puppy.

Mum-of-two Karen, who has five grandchildren, said: ‘What happened to her is horrendous.

‘Tally is such a loving girl. She just wants to cuddle and play.’

Tally with her owner
She’s incredible happy now (Picture: SWNS)

Karen had previously fostered another Shar Pei for her friend Gina McCallum, who runs the rescue charity.

Gina approached Karen to see if she could help provide a home for Tally.

Retiree Gina, from East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, founded the charity in 2012 and partly funds it herself.

She said: ‘It took about six or seven months getting her here, and she has cost about £2,000 so far.

‘We rescue a lot of dogs from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Spain.

‘All the pedigrees are quite common just now but Shar Peis are out of fashion.

Tally in her bed
Just look at that smile! (Picture: SWNS)

‘A lot of breeders are just dumping them in kill shelters, or abandoning them in the middle of nowhere.

‘It is terrible – the vet who treated her had never seen anything like it before.

‘Her bones had become infected.

‘But she’s the happiest dog on the planet.

‘When she was found, her tail just started wagging – someone had chopped her feet off but she still wanted to be around humans.’

The charity is hopeful that funding could be found through sponsorship from businesses.

It is run by volunteers but receives help from Taylor Vets in Cathkin, Glasgow.

Another seven or eight Shar Peis are looking for homes in the UK.

Gina added: ‘We are always desperate for foster homes for the dogs.

‘It’s amazing to see how well Tally has come on.’

If you want to help raise money for Tally, to help her walk properly again, you can email donations_sprss@aol.com.

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Mum creates amazing homemade Halloween costumes for little girl

These costumes are great
We’re impressed with these costumes (Picture: Siobhan Smith /SWNS.COM)

A little girl has been photographed modelling a series of amazing Halloween costumes designed by her mum.

25-year-old Siobhan Smith first created a homemade costume for her daughter Caoimhe Flynn, five, in 2015, and has only got more adventurous with her ideas.

Her first costume for Caoimhe was a granny followed by a Starbucks paper-style coffee cup, the Statue of Liberty and a Transformer.

This year the inventive mum hilariously dressed her daughter up as Glasgow’s iconic Duke of Wellington statue.

Siobhan aims to upcycle material and the most she has spent on one of her amazing designs is £25.

The childcare student, from Govan, Glasgow, said: ‘Every Halloween I try and hand make all her costumes.

Caoimhe Flynn as the statue in Glasgow of the Duke of Wellington with a cone on the Duke's head from 2019, aged 5. Little Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, is the Queen of Halloween with these incredible costumes her mother Siobhan Smith, 25, has been making for her since Caoimhe was just one year old! See SWNS story SWSCcostume. These pictures show the incredible Hallowe?en costumes created by a dedicated mother who handcrafts all of her daughter?s outfits. Siobhan Smith, 25, first created a homemade costume for her daughter Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, in 2015 and has only got more adventurous with her ideas. Her first costume for Caoimhe was a granny followed by a Starbucks paper-style coffee, the Statue of Liberty and a Transformer. This year the inventive mum hilariously dressed the youngster up as Glasgow?s iconic Duke of Wellington statue.
This costume went viral (Picture: Siobhan Smith /SWNS.COM)

‘It was a wee granny first but she was one and just walking.

‘Then the second one was Starbucks then the Statue of Liberty, then the Transformer and now the Duke of Wellington.

‘The wee granny one was all stuff I had so it cost nothing.

‘The Starbucks one was about £10 for the material and £5 for the paint.

‘Then the Statue of Liberty was about £10 for the material.

Caoimhe Flynn in her Transformers costume in 2018, aged 4. Little Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, is the Queen of Halloween with these incredible costumes her mother Siobhan Smith, 25, has been making for her since Caoimhe was just one year old! See SWNS story SWSCcostume. These pictures show the incredible Hallowe?en costumes created by a dedicated mother who handcrafts all of her daughter?s outfits. Siobhan Smith, 25, first created a homemade costume for her daughter Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, in 2015 and has only got more adventurous with her ideas. Her first costume for Caoimhe was a granny followed by a Starbucks paper-style coffee, the Statue of Liberty and a Transformer. This year the inventive mum hilariously dressed the youngster up as Glasgow?s iconic Duke of Wellington statue.
The little girlin her transformers costume (Picture: Siobhan Smith /SWNS.COM)

‘I just try and think of the most random stuff.

‘I’m arts and craftsy and enjoy a challenge.

‘She never really asks to be these, she’s quite laid back.’

Mum Siobhan was heaped with praise after making a Transformer costume last year.

To create it she used cardboard boxes she got while she worked at McDonald’s and fairy lights she bought for £5 from eBay.

She said: ‘The Transformer was tricky and something completely different.

(L-R) The Statue of Liberty and Caoimhe Flynn in her costume in 2017, aged 3. Little Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, is the Queen of Halloween with these incredible costumes her mother Siobhan Smith, 25, has been making for her since Caoimhe was just one year old! See SWNS story SWSCcostume. These pictures show the incredible Hallowe?en costumes created by a dedicated mother who handcrafts all of her daughter?s outfits. Siobhan Smith, 25, first created a homemade costume for her daughter Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, in 2015 and has only got more adventurous with her ideas. Her first costume for Caoimhe was a granny followed by a Starbucks paper-style coffee, the Statue of Liberty and a Transformer. This year the inventive mum hilariously dressed the youngster up as Glasgow?s iconic Duke of Wellington statue.
Can you believe this is homemade? (Picture: Siobhan Smith /SWNS.COM)

‘In Govan everyone couldn’t wait to see it.

‘I was doing a wee half an hour every night over five weeks to make it.

‘She was quite worried she couldn’t get back up properly and this one she thought a lot of people would laugh, but then she said she loved it.’

For her latest work, Siobhan was inspired to replicate the Duke of Wellington after a light-bulb moment when she was about to throw away Caoimhe’s old rocking horse.

The Duke of Wellington costume is the most expensive one Siobhan has made – costing just £25 to make.

Caoimhe already had a black top and black boots, so Siobhan bought a secondhand black leather jacket and a sports cone from eBay, and black leggings from Amazon.

Siobhan said: ‘I was going to throw out the horse then I thought there was something I could do with it.

‘I just painted it black and bought the black leather jacket and leggings.

‘She already had a black top and black boots.

‘I sawed the rocking bits off it and attached the wheels.

‘It was for her after school care party and she’s still got her school disco to go.’

(L-R) A Starbucks plastic cup and Caoimhe Flynn in her Starbucks costume in 2016, aged 2. Little Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, is the Queen of Halloween with these incredible costumes her mother Siobhan Smith, 25, has been making for her since Caoimhe was just one year old! See SWNS story SWSCcostume. These pictures show the incredible Hallowe?en costumes created by a dedicated mother who handcrafts all of her daughter?s outfits. Siobhan Smith, 25, first created a homemade costume for her daughter Caoimhe Flynn, aged five, in 2015 and has only got more adventurous with her ideas. Her first costume for Caoimhe was a granny followed by a Starbucks paper-style coffee, the Statue of Liberty and a Transformer. This year the inventive mum hilariously dressed the youngster up as Glasgow?s iconic Duke of Wellington statue.
This Starbucks costume is great (Picture: Siobhan Smith /SWNS.COM)

Proud of her handiwork, Siobhan posted a picture of Caoimhe dressed up on social media which went viral – receiving more than 6,000 likes and 5,000 shares.

Siobhan, who believes she now has her work cut out to beat the Glasgow landmark next year, said: ‘Most people didn’t think I could top last year’s but now they’re saying the Duke of Wellington is better.

‘I don’t know what I’m going to do next year now.’

MORE: When does Costa’s Christmas menu launch?

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Mum who breastfed daughter while high meets husband at recovery group and transforms her life

Top left; Ashley when she was an addict, bottom left; Ashley and Rylann, middle: Ashley now and right; Ashley and Jack with their baby scan
Top left; Ashley when she was an addict, bottom left; Ashley and Rylann, middle: Ashley now and right; Ashley and Jack with their baby scan (Picture: MediaDrumWorld)

At her worst, Ashley Doherty was so addicted to drugs she would breastfeed her daughter while high on painkillers and have wild parties while she was in the next room.

Eventually, she went to rehab but found herself slipping into old patterns. She promised her parents she would go to recovery meetings and really make a change.

While there, Ashley, now 29, met Jack, now 35, and as they supported each other through tackling addictions, they fell in love.

Now they are married with a one-year-old son Jackson and Ashley, from Riverside, California, USA, has been clean and sober for over two years.

She said: ‘Our relationship is so loving and so beautiful it’s something I’ve never experienced before. Neither of us could even imagine picking up a drink or drug because we know it would completely ruin every amazing thing we have going for us.

‘I now have a life I would have never imagined I’d ever have. I believed you couldn’t live life without alcohol or drugs.’

Jack and Ashley with their son Jackson and Ashley's daughter Rylann
Jack and Ashley with their son Jackson and Ashley’s daughter Rylann (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

‘I finally have confidence and I’m finally proud of myself. I’ve never felt so peaceful and so happy in my entire life. It would have never happened if it weren’t for recovery.’

Ashley first tried alcohol for the first time at 13 and she loved how it made her feel.

She explained: ‘My parents split when I was about seven years old and my mum was also in and out of rehab. Assuming those things had taken a toll on me as a little one, I grew increasingly angry and insecure as I got a little older. Alcohol and drugs helped me to numb all of those unwanted feelings and emotions.

‘After that first drink, I couldn’t stop. I drank myself into a blackout that night. The next day I couldn’t wait to do it again. I loved the warm, numb feeling it gave me. And from that moment on it was downhill.

‘Hanging around with older kids I was introduced to a lot of things early on, from huffing “dust off” and NOS, to smoking weed, and doing cocaine and ecstasy. Drinking before school in the parking lot, in class from a water bottle, leaving the school prom early to go drop ecstasy. For some reason, I never saw any of that as a problem.

Ashley at the height of her addiction (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)
Ashley at the height of her addiction (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

Soon she was chasing that feeling and using weed, cocaine, ecstasy DMT, meth, oxycontin, cough syrup and painkiller pills at parties because she wanted to feel carefree after a difficult childhood.

She became addicted and when she had a car accident in 2011, she was prescribed Norco painkillers, causing her to spiral even further.

At 21, she fell pregnant and decided to give up drugs and alcohol throughout her pregnancy, but after Rylann was born, she was given Norcos for pain and when her prescription ran out, she wanted more.

She said: ‘It was a miracle that I stayed away from alcohol and drugs that entire time. As soon as I gave birth to her and they gave me pain meds, it was back downhill again. I started abusing pills when she was two months old and continued breastfeeding the next year and a half while taking them.

‘All the while her dad was smoking OxyContin and heroin. I was breastfeeding at the time but just told myself I’m only taking a few so it can’t be affecting my daughter through my breastmilk (though I’m sure it was). I felt guilty and felt like a sh*tty mum but of course, I continued to take them.’

Ashley with her daughter Rylann
Ashley with her daughter Rylann (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

Ashley soon fell into a dangerous spiral, doing what she could to take drugs, but she also became good at keeping it from her family. Even though she now had a baby to care for, she would do anything to continue feeding her addiction.

She added: ‘That toxic relationship came to an end pretty quickly. I moved into my grandma’s guest house with my best friend because I couldn’t afford to be on my own especially with my daughter. They made sure I always had a job or was in school.

‘I was a functioning addict, so they had no idea what was really going on behind closed doors. All I was concerned about was going out and getting loaded. Pawning my daughter off on whoever would take her. Paying her dad to take her so that I was free to do what I wanted. He was still using so I knew that if I offered to pay him to take her, he would.

‘If someone couldn’t take her, I would just bring the party to me. My daughter would wake up in the morning to find me still loaded from the night before and random strangers around the house. I thank God to this day that she was too little to remember any of that.’

Ashley now with her medal showing she is clean and sober
Ashley has been clean and sober for over two years now (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

Eventually, Ashley was kicked out of school and with no money left, she knew she needed to tell her family how bad her addiction had become.

‘I  knew my dad was going to lose it,’ she said. ‘I had reached my breaking point finally and asked him to get me into treatment.

‘I stayed in treatment for 45 days. I felt like a whole new person. I welcomed the boyfriend I had when I went to treatment back into my life which was my first mistake. He got in my head and I started to believe that I wasn’t an alcoholic, I just went to treatment for pills. I picked up a drink with him, and the rest of the night is a blur. I went on a drinking binge all over again.

Ashley and Jack with their pregnancy scan
Ashley and Jack with their pregnancy scan (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

‘My family threatened to send me back to treatment but I promised I would go to meetings and get a sponsor so I did just that. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, get a sponsor and make friends at meetings.’

There, Ashley met Jack, who had also recently come out of rehab. The couple knew they weren’t meant to date but felt they had an incredible connection.

They slowly built a relationship while supporting each other through recovery and are now both clean and sober.

Ashley talks about her journey on her Instagram page @ashleydoherty.recovery and she wants to help other addicts turn their lives around.

She explained: ‘It feels so good knowing I can possibly help and inspire other addicts like myself. For quite some time I felt like maybe my story leading to recovery wasn’t as crazy as others because I never slammed drugs or ended up in jail etc and so why would people want to hear it. Since I’ve decided to just share it anyway I’ve realised how many people there are that can relate.

‘I’ve had people reach out to me to tell me how I’ve been an inspiration to them and it’s just an indescribable feeling. It just feels great knowing I can offer hope to others and show that it is so possible if you want it.’

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Last minute Halloween costumes for kids


Aldi Halloween costumes

It’s Wednesday 30 October, the day before Halloween and you’re frantically thinking of last minute Halloween costumes for your kids before tomorrow.

If none of the fancy dress options you have at home already will do and your kid isn’t keen on dressing up as a ghost ‘again’ this year, then fear not.

You may have less than 24 hours to go and next day delivery might no longer be an option but these supermarkets are still stocking Halloween costumes for kids of all ages, so you can make like Kate Middleton and grab one from the supermarket tonight if you’re in need.

Last minute Halloween costumes for kids you can buy from the supermarket

Aldi Halloween costumes for kids

Aldi has brought back its affordable range of children’s Halloween costumes this year, and although the outfits are only available for as long as stocks last, we’ve been assured there are still some left in stock.

Prices start at just £4.99 each and the costumes are available in a range of sizes from 2-10 years with designs including a pumpkin, witch, skeleton, unicorn and zombie.

Aldi kid’s pumpkin costume – from £4.99

A pumpkin Halloween costume from Aldi
(Picture: Supplied/Aldi)

Aldi witch costume – from £4.99

Aldi witches costume
(Picture: Supplied/Aldi)

Aldi unicorn costume – from £4.99

Aldi unicorn costume
(Picture: Supplied/Aldi)

Aldi skeleton and zombie costumes for kids – from £4.99

Aldi skeleton and zombie costumes for kids
(Picture: Supplied/Aldi)

Sainsbury’s Halloween costumes for kids

Sainsbury’s are stocking a range of Halloween costumes for kids this year through their clothing brand TU, and the good news is there are still some in stock for you to buy today.

The fancy dress outfits below should still be available in store, or, if your little one needs a costume for a party coming up this weekend, then you can also order them online with next day delivery at Tu.co.uk.

Blue Wicked Monster Costume (6 Months-6 Years) – £11

Tu Green Monster Costume from Sainsburys
(Picture: Supplied/Sainsbury’s)

Green Freakishly Frankenstein Costume (3-12 Years) – £12

Frankenstein Costume from Sainsbury's
(Picture: Supplied/Sainsbury’s)

Multicoloured Rainbow Wizardess (3-12 Years) – £13

Wizard costume from Sainsbury's
Frankenstein Costume

Tesco Halloween costumes for kids

Perfect for children who just don’t want to get into a full outfit (or parents who don’t want to shell out for yet another fancy dress outfit they might only wear once), Tesco have a range of simple hats and headbands in stock that even the fussiest of kids can wear to get into the spooky spirit.

Tesco’s fancy-dress accessories for kids should be available in all of their major stores and in stock until Thursday October 31.

Tesco Wings and Tutu Set – £5

Tesco Wings and Tutu Set
(Picture: Tesco/Supplied)

Tesco Kids Werewolf Mask – £3 and Gloves – £2.50

Werewolf mask and gloves from Tesco
(Picture: Tesco/Supplied)

Tesco Spider Headband – £2.50

Tesco Spider Headband
(Picture: Tesco/Supplied)

Tesco Witch Hat Headband – £1.50

Tesco Witch Hat Headband
(Picture: Tesco/Supplied)

Wicked Witch Hat Deluxe – £4

Wicked Witch Hat from Tesco
(Picture: Tesco/Supplied)

M&S Halloween costumes for kids

M&S have a range of fancy dress costumes for kids in their stores, but you can also order outfits online at marksandspencer.com that will be delivered at a time slot of your choosing the very next day if you order it before midnight the night before.

It costs £5.99 to have something shipped by next day delivery from M&S, but returns within the UK are free so if it doesn’t fit or it doesn’t arrive in time, it won’t cost you to send it back.

M&S Kids’ Dragon Ride-on Dress Up – £25

Dragon fancy dress costume from M&S
(Picture: marksandspencer.com)

M&S Kids’ Spider Dress Up – £14

Kids’ Spider Dress Up from Marks and Spencer
(Picture: marksandspencer.com)

M&S Kids’ Unicorn Dress Up – £25

M&S unicorn fancy dress
(Picture: marksandspencer.com)

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Photoshop your kid’s school photo and you’ll make them feel imperfect forever

A mother tying her daughter's hair up
My mum hadn’t done my hair with ribbons and I didn’t look perfect like all the popular girls in the class (Picture: Getty Images)

Going through all my old stuff recently in the name of decluttering I came across all my old school photos.

I was immediately flooded with the feelings I’d had after each one was taken – feelings fuelled by Mizz and Smash Hits magazines – that I was not a naturally ‘pretty’ girl.

My mum hadn’t done my hair with ribbons and I didn’t look perfect like all the popular girls in the class. My photos recorded that I increasingly got chubbier, spottier and more frizzy-haired as my image mattered to me more and more. They became a kind of ritual humiliation.

So, on seeing the recent news that one school photo package wasn’t just offering the usual 8x10s, family pack, key ring or mug options but also a retouch package with both basic ‘for blemishes’ and premium ‘removes blemishes, whitens teeth and evens skin tone’, I was briefly torn. Torn between being a mother and joining in with all the mums who are outraged by this, and also being that disappointingly un-photogenic kid.

I thought: wouldn’t you be giving your kid fewer hang ups if their school pictures were tweaked a bit? Because I’ve definitely carried my insecurities through to adulthood.

Today we are encouraged to ‘be whoever we want to be’, be that our hair colour or gender, and I no longer want the burden or proof that I was ever that kid. I haven’t finished sorting them out but my school photos are currently in the burn pile. If they had been ‘kinder’ maybe I wouldn’t have the same urge?

I also felt guilty and this led me to question my own part, both personally and professionally, in the growth of retouching culture.

Is choosing to get your kid’s school picture tweaked just the same as putting a filter on family or kids’ photos for Instagram? I’m guilty of that.

My background is as a stylist and creative director in celebrity, advertising and editorial images, which have been retouched without question. I’ve also circulated retouched publicity shots of myself despite feeling uncomfortable about it.

Pictures of Grace Woodward on Instagram
One of the best things parents can do is to engage their kids early on in their lives about retouched images (Picture: Grace Woodward)

Before this story broke, I had already felt pressure to do something about my almost debilitating guilt for my former career.

I’ve started a project called Body of Work in which I create photos using all the techniques I learnt in the entertainment industry, but with no retouching. I do the same for any clients work I take on, so I am literally putting my money where my mouth is.

I’ve also been calling out certain brands, even my favourite ones. Women’s brands – and beauty focused ones in particular – need to have more confidence in their products rather than relying on heavily editing their promotional shots, which can lead to breaking legalities in advertising standards, too.

They should be striving to make our lives better, not messing with our heads with false imagery to get us to buy stuff. I for one am sick of women being gaslit.

I recently did an experiment on Instagram, posting a selection of different re-touched edits of my body to show not only how subtle and unnoticeable retouching can be, but also how age, sex and background affect differing beauty standards.

It has become the most talked about post I’ve ever made, which confirms to me that more of us are becoming aware, or need to become aware, of the impact something as wide spread – but seemingly invisible – as retouching has.

It seems we can no longer live with our imperfect selves, probably because we just don’t see them around us anymore. But being imperfect is being human.

As adults we can buy, gym, juice, sculpt, tone or cut and fill our way to a ‘better’ us – then expect our kids to be naturally ignorant to what goes into our appearance.

The impossible desire to become more and more like our flawless avatars will ultimately make us feel more like we are failing, and that seeps into everything.

Most interestingly when talking to photographers, retouchers and magazine editors about the experiment, nearly all said they would be happy not to retouch but all the ‘talent’ they work with have specific ‘retouch notes’.

I can identify with the same, deep insecurity that for me started with my school photos. I know that I am still susceptible to retouched imagery, hence why I’m personally and professionally interested in trying to find some resilience in response to this massive issue.

I’ve even talked about a white paper proposition to government with a politicised fashion group called Fashion Roundtable about retouched images having a Kitemark. Yet I wonder if it’s enough.

As adults we can buy, gym, juice, sculpt, tone or cut and fill our way to a ‘better’ us – then expect our kids to be naturally ignorant to what goes into our appearance.

In an age when kids can already filter themselves on apps like Tik Tok and Snapchat for fun, the pretty crappy standard of photography of school photos might seem harsh compared with kids’ film, TV and music idols – all of whom are retouched. But those photos are real.

I think one of the best things parents can do is to engage their kids early on in their lives about retouched images. Have a laugh about how fake they look and question: who wants to be fake? Children generally don’t like other children that lie, and retouching is essentially lying about what you look like.

Reality, as much as it might seem harsh in school photos, is far easier to deal with in the long run than keeping up a mask of yourself forever.

I wish, when I was anxiously examining my school photos, that I’d had a family that rammed home how much they loved me exactly the way I was, and that as a girl (and now this is increasingly affecting boys) I could be so much more than just a good photo.

As parents we should proudly put up normal, natural, unaltered photos of our children on our walls, to remind them we think they are all child stars, and that they are loved.

I’ve not finished the clear out and so the big bonfire of my vanities hasn’t happened yet but writing this has made me think again about obliterating my past, mainly to show my son who, if he is anything like me and my husband, will probably have terrible acne and bad hair too. But hey, we turned out OK and we must show him so will he.

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You can buy a Big Mac for just 99p from McDonald’s next week

Picture of a big mac
Fancy a 99p Big Mac? (Picture: Getty/McDonald’s)

If you’re a fan of Big Macs and you’ve got a quid to spare, you’ll be happy to know that next week, McDonald’s is selling your favourite burger for just 99p.

For one day only, the burger, which usually costs around £3 (though the cost varies in different areas), will be available for under £1 – but you’ve only got one day to claim it.

To claim the burger, you’ll need to download the McDonald’s app and register your account details.

All you have to do then is click through to the ‘Deals’ section, where the offers will show, and you’ll be able to see whether your local McDonald’s is participating.

You’ll only be able to buy the burger in-store, and it doesn’t include fries or a drink, so you’ll have to pay extra for those sadly.

A big mac
You can get them for 99p on the app (Picture: Getty)

You also have to be 15 or over to claim the burger. Sorry, kids.

The offer is only available on Tuesday 5 November – and only 127 out of 1,200 branches are accepting it, so make sure you check the drop down menu first before going into your local store.

While you’re in there, you might fancy ordering the new sharebox of cheese and herb melts.

Described by McDonald’s as being ‘Sharebox – ‘delicious bite-sized cheese in a crunchy coating, served with a rich tomato dip’, the bites were so popular as a side that they now come as a sharing option.

Each box features 15 cheese bites and three dips and has 717 calories, and costs just £4.49 – which is a bargain if you ask us.

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Woman’s self-esteem dropped after brain tumour caused nose and chin to grow

Rebecca's chin and nose on the left are much larger than in the right, since having the tumour removed.
Rebecca’s chin and nose on the left are much larger than in the right, since having the tumour removed (Picture: MDWfeatures / Rebecca Churan)

A woman who noticed that her facial features were changing was horrified to learn it was the result of a brain tumour.

Rebecca Churan from Ontario, Canada, said her self-esteem was at its lowest when she noticed her face was changing and becoming ‘ugly’.

The 29-year-old, who works with children in deprived areas, even broke down in tears after witnessing her nose and chin grow.

Despite no immediate changes in her diet, Rebecca noticed a change in the way she looked.

Over the years, she saw more than 10 doctors to address the signs, including weight gain, fatigue, rapid growth in her feet.

Various doctors misdiagnosed Rebecca with borderline diabetes, depression and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

But earlier this year, she was sent for a blood test which measures the quantity of insulin-like growth factor in the body.

The blood test confirmed that Rebecca had a pituitary tumour which was releasing the growth hormone.

Despite not knowing too much about it, Rebecca had surgery through her nose to remove it.

Woman pictured in her bedroom
Rebecca is happier with her features since having the tumour removed (Picture: MDWfeatures / Rebecca Churan)

Rebecca had questioned her unexplained growth for a few years, particularly after her feet grew by a size and a half to a size 10, and she was sure her chin and nose were growing.

She noticed that her face was smaller in old pictures of her.

Before going into surgery, Rebecca traced the outline of her hands to see if they changed size.

Since the surgery, her hands have shrunk by an inch, her feet have gone down a size and a half, she has lost 2st 5lb in weight and her nose and chin are smaller.

‘I told this doctor that my face was changing, and I was getting uglier, and that I didn’t understand why I was gaining weight since I was barely eating,’ said Rebecca.

‘There’s barely any awareness or tools to help people recognise the signs, so many cases are diagnosed as hormonal disorders.

‘I saw the scariest photos of Andre the giant and others who had not been treated early on during the process. I was mortified, scared, and hopeless.

‘I questioned my growth a few years ago when my feet shot up half a size, but I had gained weight too and I thought it must have been caused by water retention or my borderline diabetes diagnosis.’

Rebecca in hospital post surgery
The tumour was removed through her nasal cavity (Picture: MDWfeatures / Rebecca Churan)

The tumour in the brain was then taken out through the nasal cavity. Rebecca said she was petrified of surgery but it was a better option than letting her body continue becoming disfigured.

‘After having the tumour removed, my nose and chin have shrunk, while my feet are down a size and a half,’ she explained.

‘I’ve also lost two stone and five pounds effortlessly. I lost almost an inch off the tops of my fingers and the width of each finger has gone down by about half a centimetre.’

Rebecca hopes to encourage others with an unexplainable problem to stay positive and push for answers.

She was misdiagnosed for many years and was even led to believe she was developing diabetes, but a simple blood test was all it took to uncover the truth.

Rebecca's hand measurements before and shortly after surgery
Rebecca’s hand measurements before and shortly after surgery to remove the tumour which secreted excess growth hormone (Picture: MDWfeatures / Rebecca Churan)

‘Don’t just accept any diagnosis without digging deeper and asking if something else could be causing it.

‘Never judge a book by its cover because those covers can be redrawn, just like more pages can be added to a story.’

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