Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Blogging New Year's Resolutions


I did a post at the start of the year on my New Year's resolutions for 2016, but as I've mentioned before, this year has been far from normal for me. I really don't want to make personal resolutions for 2017 because I don't want to put too much pressure on the year itself; so instead I decided to write a list of things I would like to achieve for my blog in the next 12 months.

1. Invest in a decent camera - quite a standard one for wanting to take my blog to the next level, but I think it's about time that I get around to buying a good camera. I'm pretty in love with the Olympus Pen (not so much the price) but if anyone has any recommendations, then I'm all ears.

2. Start a YouTube channel - I'm not sure whether anyone would actually want to watch me and my high-pitched, squeaky voice, but YouTube is something I have wanted to do for a really long time. I'm not sure what type of videos I would find the most interesting to make, but I feel if I don't do it next year, I never will. I also like the fact that the YouTubers I love, enjoy watching their videos back months/years later as it's a good reflection of the little things that happen in your life that you ordinarily may have forgotten.

3. See blogging friends in other circumstances - At the moment I mainly only see my blogging friends at events and on social media, but next year I really want to push getting to know them out of a 'work' circumstance and the person behind the blog. I do have a couple that I see for coffee/dinner now, which is one of the main reasons that this is in here because I've loved getting to know them more, but there's more I would love to get to know on a personal basis too.

4. Take part in more chats - I used to take part in loads of Twitter chats throughout the week, but once my working hours changed, I found fitting them in really hard; and now I'm not even sure when half of them are! Next year, I really want to start making time for them, as it's a great way to keep in touch with other bloggers, be part of a community and discover new people & blogs every week.

5. Don't be scared to say no to an event - With my blog not being the biggest, I sometimes overcompensate and say yes to quite a lot of events based in Manchester. Recently, I've not been as bad, but next year I only want to say yes to the ones where I know I will meet the right kind of people, or attend something that I know will benefit me and my audience.

6. Don't feel as though you have to accept every opportunity - The same goes for this one too. Because I want to work with as many brands as possible, as I think it's great exposure, I usually say yes without factoring in how long the post will take me, or what I'm really going to gain from it. I've felt in the past that some of the posts look a bit haphazard and don't run in parallel with my audience so I only want to agree to work with brands that will fit with the theme of my blog and that I know I'll enjoy working with.

7. Do more regular posts - Something I've wanted to do for a while that I know other bloggers do is a sort of weekly round up of the things I've enjoyed in the past week ideally uploaded on a Sunday or Monday when more people are at home relaxing. I've not decided how I want to do it yet, or whether it'll be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, but watch this space!

8. Learn the ins and outs of the blogging world - I'm not massively into tech, I'm less that up to speed when it comes to the admin, complicated side of websites and blogs, I've only recently learnt what DA is and you get the picture... but next year I really want to understand and learn about that side of blogging. I think it'll not only help me with upping my 'blogging game', but also in a work sense - so if anyone has any blogs or articles that might help, then please send them my way!

What are your New Year's resolutions?

Happy New Year!

xx

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Travel | Why You Should Go To Norway


If you follow me on Social Media, you might have noticed that I went to Oslo at the end of November with my good friend, Africa. We'd been toying with the idea for a while of going on a winter European break, and after putting the dates we were free into Skyscanner, we found ourselves booking flights to Oslo's Torp Airport for £30 return (thank you Ryanair!) The airport itself isn't Oslo's main one (and technically, it isn't even the second biggest...) and is about a 1h 30 coach ride away; but when the flights to get there are so cheap and quick, it didn't bother us at all. I've never really thought about going to Norway before, but the country was absolutely beautiful and the people were so friendly.

I'm not sure how much you know about Oslo, but it has a reputation as being one of the most expensive cities in the world (especially for alcohol) so we went prepared. After researching some of the cheaper places to eat in the city, so we didn't splurge all our money on the first day, I felt as though we were well equipped for our 3 day stint. We booked Oslo Apartments through booking.com which only cost us £65 each for two nights, so already we were onto a winner. Also, after discovering at the airport that Norway isn't in the EU, we found ourselves boarding our 7am flight with two litre bottles of alcohol to see us through for only £22. If you want my advice, you'll do the same...

Because we went to Oslo at the end of November, we knew it was going to be cold, so I packed plenty of layers, jumpers and tights for the time we were there, which is also a little tip if you find yourself visiting in winter. After arriving in the city, we tootled off to pick up the keys to our apartment and then headed back the other way to drop off our bags via the Christmas market. The market itself was nice because it wasn't overly big, but had enough stalls to suffice the average bratwurst need (except not us as Africa is a veggie!) as well as an ice rink, carousel and Ferris Wheel.

After dropping our bags off, we ventured back into the city to find some food and get our bearings. As our apartment was on a road just off Karl Johan's Gate (the main shopping street) we were right in the midst of all the shops, bars and restaurants so it didn't take us long to figure out where everything was. In order to save money, we decided to visit a local supermarket (which I'm pretty sure was called kiwi) and stocked up on bits and bobs for the next couple of days. The one thing I found quite interesting about Oslo was how clean it was as a city, even though it was quite busy: I have been to Scandinavia before (Iceland back in 2009) and I remember that being the same.

After watching the sunset and stocking up on supplies, we went back to the apartment and started getting ready whilst obviously listening to Abba (I know, wrong country, but kind of close) having a few drinks, and eating lots of random food that we'd picked up. A couple of hours later, and slightly more merry, we walked back into the town to go to the Ice Bar which had been recommended on Trip Advisor, but unfortunately Africa had forgotten her ID so they wouldn't let us in. We stayed out for a bit, but after a 5am start, we got back to the apartment about 11pm.


The next day started with us eating strawberry yoghurt in bed, trying to find an English TV station (and failing...) before heading out to Joe and the Juice for a smoothie. Another tip... ask what is in your smoothie before you order one with ginger because your Norwegian is more than substandard... After this we went back to the markets and bought tickets to go on the wheel, but as the queue was quite long as this point, we decided to come back in the dark. I'd read on another blog that the guards change at the palace every day at 1:30pm so we went to go and watch this outside the palace in the sunshine.


One of the places we had researched that came up as not being too overpriced was a pizza parlour called Mama Pizza, which just happened to be round the corner from our apartment. We went here and shared a vegetarian special and a margarita, which were both huge and delicious. The whole meal cost us about £30 (for two drinks as well) which we thought was quite reasonable for the quality of the food. After zoning out in a pizza coma for a good 30 minutes, we went to walk up the opera house which lies on the harbour where you can see the most amazing sunset.


After a quick outfit chance, which mainly involved putting on more layers so I would be able to feel my legs, we went back to the markets to have our go on the Ferris wheel. From the top we had a great view of an ice skating performance going on below, but that did mean they stopped us at the top for a good 5 minutes. From here we took a walk into Grünerløkka, the Northern Quarter/Shoreditch version of Oslo and had an expensive, almost pint, at Brew Dog and then onto another retro bar round the corner. After we had a little buzz on, we had some of the best Mexican food I have ever tasted, at a restaurant called Mucho Mas... and Mucho food there was! We shared some nachos and dips, and I had a chicken burrito, and Africa got mushroom enchiladas. We got speaking to the owner, who happened to have relocated to Oslo from Nottingham, (small world eh?) who came over and gave us even more nachos.


Once we came out of yet another food coma, we had a walk to the Mathallen market to have a look round as it had been highly recommended. The market itself is basically a huge food hall with loads of different cuisines around the edge and upstairs, and a communal seating area in the middle. It was absolutely packed so we took ourselves on a walk back into the city, without Google maps because my phone had decided to turn itself off by this point. When we got back to the apartment we chilled and watched some stuff on the iPad... and I may have Facetimed Simba.

On the final morning, we had to pack and be out by 11 so we wandered about the city again and ended up in a cafe for a couple of hours eating delicious blueberry pastries and drinking lots of tea. After this we dropped our bags off at the apartment's reception so we were free to explore. We went back to Grünerløkka to have a look around in the daylight and back to the market for some lunch. We found a Japanese ramen takeaway where I got a salmon terriyaki noodle box (Africa had tofu) and then went back out into the brisk winter day to have a look around the shops and bars that we didn't see the night before.


As we still had time to kill, we thought this would be a great opportunity to go to the ice bar with ID and to kill some time before we had to get the coach. I've been to a few different ice bar's in my time, and I think this one might have been my favourite, mainly because you didn't have a time limit on how long you were in there, and because the sculptures, chairs and tables were more impressive. On our walk back to the reception, we stopped off at another bar (funnily enough, ran by another Brit) which was lovely and warm and cosy.

From here we picked up our bags and made our way to the coach station, went back to the airport and back to  England. Overall, I had such a good time in Oslo, and I would definitely like to explore more of Norway and Scandinavia in general - I quite fancy Stockholm next!

xx
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Monday, 12 December 2016

My 9 Favourite YouTubers

Back in September I wrote this post about my favourite bloggers, and today I thought I would do a follow up post about my favourite YouTubers - the people I subscribe to and go and watch time and time again. Although I love reading blogs, I find myself completely fascinated with watching even the days they film just sat at home doing nothing, and I'm sure I'm not the only one if their figures are anything to go by!




I first started watching Lily's videos back in the days of 'Beauty Chat' with her good friend Anna (who featured in my favourite bloggers post). Ever since then I always make sure to catch her latest videos in my subscription box before anyone else. Recently I really enjoyed her wedding video and think her and her husband Rich, are one of the cutest, most genuine couples out there. Although I enjoy her sit down chatty videos, her vlogs and trips out and about in London are my favourites.




After reading her book, Bloom, I really enjoyed the way it was written, and admired the journey Estée has been on to get where she is. I've enjoyed her main channel videos for almost a year, but recently discovered her vlogging channel too. She's a real cutie and I love her accent! 




I've been a fan of Niomi for a while and my favourite videos are her vegan recipes and cruelty free make-up tutorials. Her marathon training tips also inspired me to do the 10k in September although she made 4 times the distance look easy... 




Lily was recommended to me by a friend who knew I would love her cat (which is the main reason I get recommended most things in life...) I love the fact she is someone who is in to high street brands, fashion for 'real' girls and isn't afraid to say it how it is. 




I discovered Josie's YouTube channel after she did a collaboration with one of my favourite bloggers last December. I started watching her Vlogmas videos that she created every day on the run up to Christmas and since then I have admired how much of a hard worker she is. Plus she has an adorable sausage dog called Dexter which a reason to watch in itself.




As I mentioned before, some of my favourite videos to watch are those where the people literally film their every day lives and Jim (husband of YouTuber Tanya Burr) is no exception. I found his channel through his sister's Pixi Woo who do makeup tutorials. These types of videos are light-hearted enough that you can binge watch a few whilst you are getting ready or just want a bit of a chill. 




I've loved Lucy ever since she stole the show in Made in Chelsea back in 2012. I love the fact that she has a no nonsense approach to pretty much everything she does in her life, and her videos are no different. Although I am not a vegan myself, I find it interesting to see what she stocks her fridge with, her favourite recipes and her reasons for becoming vegan.




Sammy (aka Beauty Crush) is one of those girls who I'll never tire of watching. She has the bubbliest, warmest personality that really shines through on YouTube and has been pregnant for the last few months which has just made her even more adorable. Her and her fiancé are incredibly cute together, as are her pet dogs.




Keeping on the topic of cute dogs, personable girls and charming other halves, how could I not mention Fleur De Force... She has become one of the biggest brands out there having written two books and released a range of makeup and eyelashes.


If you have any recommendations of YouTubers you think I would like, please leave a comment! 

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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Travel | 24 Hours in Paris


I'm not usually one to jump on the bandwagon for Blogger competitions, but when I received the invitation from Accor Hotels about where I would love to spend 24 hours, I caved. At the moment I am loving writing about travel and I feel like I have incurable Wanderlust anyway, so why not join the two together and write this post?

The city I chose is a city that I could actually visit if I win this competition so cross everything for me please! And that is the city of love, the beautiful, the mesmorising, one and only, Paris.

It's strange that seen as France is so close to us, I have only been twice in my life; once on a school trip and once when I was visiting my Uncle in Jersey and we went for the day. It's one of those countries that is steeped in so much history and natural beauty that I have always wanted to go back, but never found myself booking to go there. I have been to Paris once before, but because it was with school (and we were only 14) I have always craved to go back and sit drinking wine on the banks of the Seine, visit the Sacré Coeur and climb up with Eiffel tower without someone in the year above who thought it would be a good idea to do it in high heels... *side note, it wasn't and she only got half way*

And here is how I would spend 24 hours there...

Knowing me I would probably book the earliest arriving flight in the country (most probably Ryanair to some obscure sounding airport that isn't remotely near Paris, but claims to be...) to make sure I got the most out of the day. Either that, or arrive on the Eurostar, clutching my hand luggage in some high(ish) heels, faux fur, bright red lipstick, big sunglasses and maybe a cheeky Fedora, equipped with a map from Gare du Nord to get the real Parisian experience.

After arriving in the city, I would make it my mission to find a true French bakery in order to eat delicious pastries for breakfast, because let's face it, that is basically a rule when you go to France. About a 15 minute walk from the station, I would visit Rose Bakery on Rue Des Martyrs, which I read about on 'Time Out' Paris as doing some of the most delicious baked treats in a cute little cafe setting. Not being a massive coffee drinker usually, I would make an exception whilst in the French capital, and get myself a very tall, sugary coffee to go, to fuel me for my journey ahead.


When I usually visit a new European city I tend to see the sights by jumping on a tour bus; but with only 24 hours in Paris I would definitely take on the city by foot, discovering all the gorgeous architecture, hidden gems and beautiful side streets that you miss when you zoom past (I use the term 'zoom' loosely as double decker buses are not known for their speed...)

After refuelling from my early start, I would then make my way over to Sacre Coeur to take in the morning views of Paris. Having taken the perfect Instragram snap of the beautiful, crisp winter's day, I would make the hour long walk through the city, to the Arc De Triomphe.


After a few snaps of various angle of the second most famous Arc (little bible joke for you there...) I would take a wander down the Champs-Élysées, visiting the French boutiques, quaint bookshops and window shopping at the designer shops. By now I would probably be getting hungry (I mean it is me...) so would pop myself down outside in the winter sunshine and have something to eat, just people watching and taking in the world going by (maybe with a cheeky glass of Prosecco). One of the restaurants I would try and get into is Brassie L'Alsace, mostly because of the reviews I've read on Trip Advisor and the fact that I do quite enjoy a bit of French cuisine. From here I would continue on to the Lourve, through the Jardin Des Tuileries, past the Grand Palace, Petit Palais and the Place de la Concorde.


Once I'd had a nosey around the Lourve and saw the Mona Lisa, I would make it my mission to go to my first Sephora on Rue de Rivoli, about a 5 minute walk away. After undoubtedly spending too much money on all the amazing brands we can't get here in the UK, I think it would be about time to have a much needed sit down, and what better place to do that than on a river cruise down the Seine. By this time in Winter, I can imagine the sun would be setting, making it the perfect time to see the Eiffel Tower lit up in front of my eyes, which is something I have always wanted to see... call me a cliche!


One thing I have always wanted to do in Paris is put a padlock on one of the many bridges over the Seine so I would make sure to do that before the 24 hours came to an end. Also, what I would try to fit in is seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge, being a badass chick and all (hoping you get the reference...)

Because it would take me around an hour to get back to that part of Paris, I would probably treat my feet to an Uber, making me feel hella fancy getting a taxi in a foreign country (but wondering how much I will be charged on my card because of the exchange rate - lame, I know...)


After needing possibly another coffee, but also most probably slightly tipsy from sipping wine with dinner (pretending I totally have the money for this lavish lifestyle) it would unfortunately be time to head back to the airport or train station to get back to rainy Manchester to end what would be quite an eventful, jam packed tour of Paris!


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Thank you to Accor Hotels for inviting me to write this post and making me fangirl over this beautiful city which now I cannot wait to visit! The competition closes tomorrow but if you would like to read any of the other entries of this competition, search #AccorHotels24hrs on Twitter. The first prize is a 9 night stay for two across Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, all of which are incredible cities of Europe - so cross your fingers for me! 

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Beauty | My Top 14 Winter Products


Winter is a time of year that can wreak havoc on your skin, and here in the UK, we're in the midst of it. Going from hot to cold throughout the day is never good for the old pores, and chapped areas seem to increase in their size and numbers when the temperatures plummet. Today I've rounded up 14 of my Winter saviours that I can't live without in the colder months.


1. Vaseline (Rose and Almond Oil) 

Vaseline becomes my saving grace when the temperatures start to get a bit colder and I love that this one has a slight rosy tint to it if I'm just not feeling lipstick that day. If I'm going out out or to somewhere when I quite fancy a bit of a stronger colour, I'll usually apply this before I start my makeup so they have a bit of time to absorb the rosy goodness and make it easier for my lipstick to stay put.


2. Soap and Glory Hand Food - £6

Without sounding like a middle class aristocratic woman, this hand cream smells absolutely divine. I usually carry this round in my handbag as it's the perfect size and then I'm ready for all occasions. I find this one is slightly thicker than some others I've tried, but it doesn't leave your hands feeling greasy or risk you dropping your phone after 0.265 seconds.


3. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (Madrid) - £5.50

If you're looking for a deep red/berry shade for the Winter months then look no further. I found this shade in my local boots and after swatching about 6 slightly different versions of it, I treated myself to this one. It's a little bit darker than something I would usually go for as a pale girl, but I feel like you can get away with shades like this when the festive season starts. One of the reasons I always go back to NYX is because of the applicator: I find that you don't need a lipliner because you can be quite precise, and they last for hours without needing to reapply (ok that's two reasons...)


4. Aveeno Daily Moisturiser - £7.65

I tend to suffer from quite dry skin in general, but more so when the weather gets colder. I started using Aveeno a few weeks ago and I already love how soft it makes my skin feel. I usually it as an all over moisturiser after showering and secretly hope that it'll turn me into Jennifer Anniston.


5. Aussie Reconstructor Oil - £9.99

I don't know if anyone else finds this, but my hair hates winter. I have dry hair in general, but I think the mixture of being in the cold and then going inside to heating doesn't do it any favours. I find this Aussie oil doesn't make my hair look greasy when I use it, but I tend to only use it on damp hair and then blow dry. 


6. Sally Hansen Miracle Cure - £9.99

Is it just me who finds their nails don't cope well with the cold weather? I was bought this as a present a few years ago and loved it, but only reaffirmed my love of it recently as it isn't a cheap product, but I really think it works much better than others I've tried. Treat yo self!


7. Urban Decay Naked Palette - £38.50


I tend to reach for this Naked Palette more than the other two in general, but especially when I want a more goldy, smokey eye look for Christmas. For everyday makeup I tend to use 'Buck' and 'Naked' all over the lid and normally leave it at that, but for a more festive look, I go for 'Sidecar' and 'Half Baked'.


8. Benefit That Gal Primer - £22.50

I received a sample of this a couple of months ago but kept it in my 'sample box' (cringe) as I was in the middle of another primer but I picked it up the other day to give it a try and loved it. I've only been using it for about a week, but I will definitely be purchasing a full size one when I've run out of the current one.


9. Garnier Ultralift Day Cream - £10.49

Ever since a beauty therapist told me you should start using anti-wrinkle cream at 25 (I'm 26 and apparently late to the game...) I've been on the hunt to find one that I like. Although I haven't noticed a drastic change in my 'fine lines and wrinkles' (although at this point I'm hoping this is more of a preventative measure) I do love how thick this moisturiser is and nourishing on the skin.


10. Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream - £25

I've tried all measure of products to get rid of my dark circles, and although this cream doesn't specify that it does that, I've really enjoyed using it for Winter puffiness. I tend to get quite sore, red eyes when its cold, and this is a good cream to use when you just want a bit of soothing. I tend to mainly use it at night after I've taken my eye makeup off.


11. Nivea Eye Makeup Remover - £3.89

I picked this up at the end of summer when a lovely woman in Sainsbury's recommended it to me after my usual Simple one was out of stock. I usually don't take my mascara off every night because quite frankly, it takes me too long and I'm lazy, but with this dual effect formula, it literally takes seconds. And bonus... I don't wake up with mascara smeared all down my eyes.


12. Revlon Primer - £12.99

Until I tried this as I had read some positive reviews on people's blogs, I had never really tried anything by Revlon. It's one of those brands that you see in Boots but never really feel the need to wander over to because you know what you like, but in all honesty, I really, really love this primer. It's not as heavy as some of the other ones I've tried, which I really like, goes on easily and lasts all day.


13. Original Source Shower Gel - £2.30

Original Source have done a lot of work recently with some familiar faces in the blogging world, but it was actually my boyfriend who picked this up (manly right?) If I can say one thing about this shower gel it would be that it smells good enough to eat, but please don't... I don't want to get in trouble...


14. LUSH Snow Fairy Shower Gel - £7.95

Keeping with the topic... What can I say about Lush that you don't already know? If you haven't smelt Snow Fairy before, take this as your warning that you just need to! 


I'd love to know your favourite Winter essentials!

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Food | Wren's Christmas Kitchen


It won't come as a surprise to you that like most other 20-something girls, I absolutely freaking LOVE Christmas... but if you know me personally, you'll know that the love starts around July.

One of my favourite things about Christmas (apart from the festive drink choices, watching Elf on repeat, markets, mulled wine and general festiveness) is the food! I'm not talking your traditional Christmas turkey dinner on the 25th, but more so the cheese boards, the salamis, the puddings, the camemberts for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the yule logs, the *omg this market has waffles* waffles, the crepes, the fudge etc. etc. you get the picture.... I bloody love Christmas food!

When I was contacted to take part in this campaign, I thought, why the hell not? It brings together my love of baking (not cooking... I hate cooking) with Christmas! The brief asked for a twist on a Christmas classic so I got my thinking cap on (and maybe asked some of my friends to help/text them over and over again until they gave me an idea, thanks guys!!) and took to the internet.

I originally wanted to do a different kind of Christmas cookie, but when I thought more about it, cookies aren't really that Christmassy to me (but I did a batch anyway...) When I had a look around YouTube, I found this recipe for no-bake, Rice Krispie Christmas puddings which looked simple enough, and were a twist on a conventional Christmas pudding (which lets face it, no one is really that keen on anyway...) To give my puddings more of a twist, I decided to use Chocolate orange instead of regular cooking chocolate, plus I think this gives it more of a festive flavour.

Let's get started... (honestly, these puddings are one of the easiest things I have made and they taste amazing so please please do try this at home!)

You will need;
  • 50g butter (I used stork because I already had this in the fridge, but non-baking butter will work fine)
  • 180g marshmallows
  • 100g rice krispies
  • 200g milk chocolate (this is what I substituted with the chocolate orange)
  • 100g white chocolate for decorating
  • Holly decorations / red & green fondant icing



Method;
Step 1: Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water or directly in a pan like so...



Step 2: Mix in the marshmallows and stir until they have melted. (This step did take longer than I expected and I didn't think the marshmallows were going to melt, but they did!)

Step 3: Add your rice kripies in and take off the heat. Stir the mixture well until all the ingredients have combined.

Step 4: Leave the mixture to firm up in the fridge. Once firm, mould into balls and leave on a baking tray in the fridge for a further 15 minutes (I left mine for slightly longer)



Step 5: Melt the white chocolate and put in a piping bag (I actually just used a spoon for this bit as I felt it was easier)

Step 6: Pop the holly decorations on top and back in the fridge to fully set. For my decorations, I used green fondant icing and cut the holly shape out with a cutter. 



Step 7: Eat them! 



How easy was that? And they taste delicious!

If you would like to know anymore information on Wren Kitchens, or any updates on this campaign the campaign can be found here

Enjoy! x

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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Uncertainty


I didn't feel like I knew what to call this post hence the one word title... I assure you I'm not trying to be cool, punchy or original - in fact it's quite the opposite. But I think it sums up the overall feelings going around the world right now.

2016... where do I start?

What a year... To say 2016 started differently to how it's ending is an understatement: I had such high hopes for this year. 2015 was very tough on me and my family but it ended on a high with spending Christmas and New Year with my favourite people and making promises to myself for the year ahead.

I'm not massively into New Year's resolutions, but I tend to focus more on the things I wanted to achieve for the next year - I was going into 2016 with a new job under my belt with brand new challenges, wanting to put more time and effort into my blog by posting more regularly and really getting into the Manchester Blogging scene overall - some of which I feel I have done to a degree. So where did it all go wrong?

The funny thing is, not one person I have spoken to about this year is saying they've had a good time - not one. Isn't it strange? Maybe humanity as a group was meant to face a tough year to bring us all together (which in some ways it has) but ultimately, it feels as though the world is falling apart around us. I'm not into politics, and I'll be the first to admit that, but what I do know is that my generation hate living in a time of so much uncertainty and in a world where people aren't seen as equals for what they believe, what they do as a job, who they want to marry etc.

We've grown up in a time where men and women still get paid differently for doing the same job, mother's struggle to juggle their newborns with their careers and the amount of women in CEO and MD positions is decreasing... yet women have continued to fight against this regardless. Truthfully, we were so close to having a real woman powerhouse in charge of such a great nation, and it just feels as though the rug has been pulled from under our feet yet again.

But I'm not posting this to be Pro-Hillary and act like I have a degree in American politics...

It's more of an observation that 2016 has managed to not only affect me in ways that I wasn't expecting, but also the world as a whole. Life has been so hard this year, and I just hope that in the years to come, it manages to get a bit easier.

My main aspiration for 2017 is that things will start looking up, not only for me but for the rest of the world. I'm tired of feeling deflated when I read the news, or look at Social Media, and I think it's time as influencers that we do something about it. I'm not saying Social Media is the answer to everything, but as a group, our impact on other people is huge, and if used in the right way, I think amazing things can happen... Or at least that's what I'm hoping; I'm not going to single-handedly try and change the world or anything...

In my own personal life, I'm going in to 2017 without putting too much pressure on it, as I think that was one of my major downfalls this year. I'm not saying I don't have things to look forward to, because I do, but if I don't have high expectations then I can take each day as it comes and appreciate the little things that add to the bigger overall picture.

I've had some of the biggest challenges I've ever faced in 2016. Nothing can be worse than this year in my eyes.

x
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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Food | Going Vegan With Vapiano


Last month I was invited to try the new vegan special menu at Vapiano in Manchester with one of my favourite people, Hannah (her blog is over here). I'd been to Vapiano once before back in April and I'd kept meaning to go back, so when the invitation landed in my inbox, I couldn't resist!

I need to set one thing straight firstly... and that is the fact that I am not vegan, but yes... we were trying the new vegan menu. When it comes to food, I'm all about trying new things, and recently I've been trying to cut down on the amount of meat I've been eating since a lot of my close friends are vegetarian, so I wanted to feel like I was doing my own bit. 

But back to the food...

Vapiano is a really innovative take on an Italian restaurant where you watch them cook the food right in front of you after picking your fresh pasta and toppings: I'm a massive fan of watching anyone make food, as long as it means I can eat it afterwards. 

I was emailed the vegan options, but as I'm a massive foodie, we obviously wanted to try one of the many starters first. After checking with the chefs, we started with a portion of olives (which if anyone is keeping track, I only started liking after turning 26...) and the bruschetta (with no cheese obviously) and a mojito, because what's a Monday night without a cocktail?



Next we opted for the Zuaa Caramellata, which was a creamy risotto rice with a homemade sauce of Hokkaido pumpkin, orange juice and coconut milk, with a hint of vegan white wine, ginger, sesame & lime and was absolutely delicious. I'm not sure whether I've ever had anything with pumpkin in it before, but I would hands-down chose it again! We also shared the Con Cipolle Balsamico vegan pizza, which had a homemade tomato sauce, with balsamic shallots, courgette, aubergine, fresh basil & rosemary, and although I did miss the cheese, it was gorgeous, and I would definitely have it again! We also shared the strawberry spinach salad with fresh spinach, strawberries, red onions, pine nuts and home-made raspberry maple dressing (and usually has goat's cheese).



When we'd finished the meal, we just assumed there were no vegan desserts as most of them had milk chocolate or cream in, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that they did have two options on the menu, but by this point we were almost out of the door - we'll definitely be back though in the near future to try them out! 

I would highly recommend Vapiano if you're looking for a different kind of meal in the city centre that is full of flavour, fresh ingredients, in a cool and relaxed setting, and I'm already dreaming about what I can have next time (probably something with cheese!) 

Visit their website here - Vapiano 

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Thank you to the lovely staff at Vapiano for treating us to a thoroughly enjoyable evening with complimentary food and drinks. 
All views are my own. 
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Monday, 10 October 2016

Let's Talk About Mental Health


If you are new to my blog, you might not know about my history with mental health. It's not something I like to openly talk about, but it is something that I have mentioned on here in the past. Last year I wrote this post about my anxiety at the time, and although things have changed, for better and worse, no two days are the same.

Mental Health as a whole is still quite a taboo subject, and although more and more people are admitting to being a sufferer (celebrities included) there is still so much that can be done to encourage people to take the steps they need. World Mental Health Day is a good start to raise awareness for people suffering in silence to get the help they deserve.

Since finishing Uni, I've found that a lot of people in the world of work shy away from talking about Mental Health because its seen as a difficult topic to approach: I've had managers who really didn't get it, team members who knew exactly what I was going through, colleagues who spoke openly to me about it and others that had no idea. All in all I've had a mixed bag of experiences.

To me, anxiety really is a funny one. It can creep up on you when you least expect it, or can be there day in and day out, which can be completely overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes things make it better, and sometimes things make it worse. It can encompass you as a whole making you feel like you can't escape, yet make you feel so empty inside.

Like I said, it's odd.

I've found that during my adult life my anxiety has been very up and down, not for any particular reason, but I almost feel as though because I have so many distractions - my job, my blog, my friends, my family, my relationship etc - I shouldn't have the time to feel anxious, yet I still do.

These last few months I have had a really bad time with anxiety attacks through what has happened in my personal life, and that has made me feel quite trapped in a vicious cycle of up and down emotions. Maybe if you met me now, you would never think I was an anxiety sufferer; perhaps thats a good thing? but it is something that I deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes it stops me from doing things; other times it gives me the kick I need to break out of my comfort zone... but it is always lurking there.

A lot of people I know aren't aware of the fact that I suffer from mental health issues (unless you have been reading my blog for over a year) which can sometimes make me feel as though they don't know the real me, the full package (but that's probably me overthinking it). I know in my day to day life I can be full of energy and raring to go, but other times I just want to stay away from everyone, which is the side a lot of people probably aren't aware of.

I've heard a lot of times that life is too short to feel anxious, and in a way, I do believe that's true especially if it stops you from living your life to the fullest. I won't lie and say that I live every day by that rule, but I know in my heart of hearts that there are people out there who are willing to help me and listen when I need them the most, pick me up when I'm down and I find real comfort in that. Some of my closest friends suffer from anxiety, and some don't, yet I know I could turn to any one of them for support and they would never judge.

I don't feel as though my life will ever be free of anxiety, and that's something that I've come to terms with (I'm sure a lot of people would agree) but I'm a firm believer that you should never suffer alone - life is hard enough as it is!

One thing I will say is although is there is no magic cure, and I can't click my fingers and make it go away, don't ever think your problems are meaningless and don't be afraid to open up.


Where to find help & answers;

Anxiety UK
Mind
NHS
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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Beauty | My 5 New Makeup Faves Under £10


It's been a while since I've done a makeup post hasn't it? Well lets change that!

Makeup is one of those things. Most girls love it (most guys don't get it) but it's a big part of many girl's lives. I love reading beauty and makeup blogs and some of my favourite bloggers fall into this category, but it's one I find slightly harder to write than others. I would say I'm a bit of a beauty junkie - I'm by no means an expert, and most of the products I use are high-street ones, but I thought I would do this post as an update on some of my current favourites (all found in boots and all less than £10 FYI!)


1. Rimmel Scandaleyes Liquid Eyeliner - £5.49

I've been using up random liquid eyeliners that I have in my collection as I was a bit reluctant to buy one as I've never really been wowed by one. I went into boots a few weeks ago to have a bit of a nosey before I met a friend, and I found myself at the Rimmel counter. There was a good range of liquid eyeliners, but this one caught my eye as I preferred the tip of it. It was in between the thinnest and thickest ones and had a flat top instead of a tip so it's easy to angle when you're doing your flick.



2. Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation - £8.99

Sticking with the Rimmel vibe, I had to mention this foundation. I've always been a L'oreal girl as I found their Rose Ivory is the perfect shade for my see-through skin, but I've noticed that with the change in temperature recently, my skin was breaking out a little bit more, so I decided to opt for something that had a bit more coverage, yet wasn't really cakey. I tried a few on the back of my hand, and went for this one... I won't lie, the main reason was because it smells like watermelon! (How could I not?) but the coverage is really good, buildable and doesn't feel any heavier than what I'm used to.


3. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (Copenhagen) - £5.49

I really don't think you can go wrong with something that has been so highly recommended by the whole beauty blogger crowd for the last few months, especially when the price tag is only £5.49, which is a lot cheaper than some other matte lip creams on the market. I knew I would like this one as I've already got two more (Istanbul and Milan) but I wanted a more day time one, so opted for the shade Copenhagen (the strange thing was, I was also wearing a Copenhagen t-shirt I got from Primark...) I love this more natural shade, and I've constantly got it in my handbag. It stays on for most of the day, but the application is so quick and simple that you could easily do it without a mirror, especially because the colour is quite similar to my lips. 


4. Rimmel Cream Blusher (Majestic Pink) - £5.49

I needed a new blusher ever since I smashed my Benefit one on the floor back in July and have been trying my hardest to get anything out of it. I'd never tried a cream blusher before as I wasn't sure how they would apply on my skin, but this one is so simple, and the colour isn't too pink (which can be lethal with my skin tone) so an overall good purchase. I've been using my fingers to apply this as I prefer it to a beauty blender and it means I can use as much of the product as I need to, but also build it up. 


5. Rimmel Scandaleyes Mascara (Extreme Black) - £4.99 

I've used this mascara for years and it's always been a favourite. So why is this in your new beauty favourites you ask? Well recently Rimmel improved the formula of this mascara (and you can definitely tell) so technically I'm classing this as a new fave! At first I was like 'well if it ain't broke, don't fix it' (except less gangsta) but the team at Rimmel have done a great job with improving this already great mascara! This mascara has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember, and the colour is even more black than it used to be. A definite recommendation if you're after a new one. 


I hope you have enjoyed this beauty post, and I hope to start doing more of them! xx

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This post contains PR samples.
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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Learning To Unwind


I feel like recently I've become one of those people who finds it hard to take time for themselves in the week and really have some quality time to myself. I know it might not seem like a big deal at all, and in reality I like keeping busy, but there has to be something to be said for a weekend of relaxation. And as autumn draws closer, I feel like people will start to wind down a bit before the run up to Christmas.

Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to the beautiful Mottram Hall in Cheshire with Spaseekers for a day of leisure with a group of blogger girls. Being a lover of spa days in general, I of course said yes and tootled off for the day.

If you haven't heard of Mottram Hall, it is part of the Q Hotel chain and is about 20 minutes from South Manchester, or about 35 from the centre. It's nestled away in the beautiful little village of Mottram St. Andrew. As you drive up to it, you are welcomed with a beautiful tree lined and golf course, and a gorgeous Grade 2 listed building.

As I was pretty early (obviously) I had a little wander round the grounds as it was a really lovely sunny morning, and through the hotel. The reception, bar and one of the wedding suites were full of guests as there was also a wedding on that day, and the overall decor was a mixture of greys, silvers and light blues.

I was taken through to one of the meeting rooms, and met Sammy who was a representative from Net Booster, who had partnered with Spaseekers for the day. We had a chat over a glass of bucks fizz and waited for the other girls to arrive before been taken into a room to meet with Maria from 'Beautiful in Colour' who spoke to us about the types of colour we should be wearing for our skin tone and hair colour. I found out I was in between a fair and warm dominant, which meant that the colours that suited me best were navys, greys, browns and beige - nothing that I was wearing that day!

After the talk with Maria we had afternoon tea in the Carrington Grill, which was amazing. As someone who lives on sweet treats and cake, I find it hard to believe that this is only the second afternoon tea I have ever had, and as the picture shows, there was a good mixture of sweet and savoury, and it was delicious! I definitely need to go back again!

After afternoon tea we went back to the meeting room and had a makeup lesson from Chloe Johnson who showed us how to do a transitional day to evening look on one of the girls, and it was absolutely flawless. She used a mixture of high-street and higher end products, but the end result was gorgeous. Think a smokey eye with a gold tint and dewy, highlighted skin which looked amazing. I always love watching people have their makeup done, and this was no exception - Chloe was a true professional!

After the makeup lesson, the hotel manager gave us a guided tour of the hotel and the grounds. As I mentioned before, there was a wedding on that day, so one of the suites was made up for it and it looked beautiful. We were also shown the spa, pool, golf course and club house, all of which were lovely and made me really want to be a member of somewhere this posh over the local leisure centre any day!

After the tour and a couple more cakes that were left over from the afternoon tea, me and four of the others girls went to the pool for a jacuzzi and sauna. Outside they had a decked area with two thermal rooms called the Brechalbath and Stonebath, which were the only two in the country. The one that we opted for smelt of wood chips and wasn't overly warm which you would expect from a regular sauna, but it gradually increases your body temperature. We stayed in there for about 20 minutes just chatting as it turns out that the four of us were in a similar line of work.

After the sauna, it was time to go home back to reality. The theme of the day with unwinding with Spaseekers, and that I definitely did. It was lovely to be around like-minded girls who were just there to learn and relax with one another and I came away from the day feeling really tranquil and in good spirits. A few months ago I would never have gone to a blogging event by myself, especially when there was no one there who I knew either, so this was an accomplishment in itself, and it might not seem like a big deal, but I'm really proud of myself for doing it.

This whole experience gave me a fresh perspective of how important it is to take time away from our busy schedules and just sit back and relax. Whether thats in a spa, having a walk with your family or chilling at home for the night: You need to take time out for yourself.

Visit the hotel's website here.

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Thank you to Spaseekers for inviting me to this event. 
All views are my own. 
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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

7 Blogs I'm Loving Right Now

I've seen a lot of these positive posts going round the Blogging world at the moment, so I thought I would give it a go and spread a little bit of love. I've listed some of the blogs I keep going back to time and time again for my daily fix - some new discoveries and old - but hopefully you will be able to take something away from this!



Ok, I might be slightly bias here because Lily is a good friend of mine, but she's also a fantastic blogger and Youtuber. I met her back in April, and since then we have grown closer and closer. She looks like a model, and is only 18 if you can believe it, but her writing makes you want to know more. Expect lots of instragram-worthy travel destinations, legs to die for, and general updates of life as an up and coming blogger.




After going through a recent rebrand (previously Vivianna Does Makeup) Anna's blog is definitely up there with one of my favourites. I'll admit that I first found her through her Youtube channel (when her and Lily Pebbles used to do Beauty Chat) but since then, her gorgeous photography and relatable content have completely won me over. You'll find lots of beauty, fashion and travel tips and the occasional foodie post too! 




There's no way I could have done this post without a mention for this absolute mega-babe and one of the main reasons I got into blogging. Think hilarious lists, fashion for real girls, beauty tips that won't break the bank, food porn, and a healthy dose of her two cats and you'll be forever hooked. Always one I come back to, AND she even donated to my 10k run. What a girl! 




Ok another slightly bias one as Hannah is one of my best friends, but before she was, I used to read her blog all the time. Her fitness posts I find very inspirational, and she's recently been talking more about body positivity, exercising the mind and dealing with anxiety which is refreshing in a world full of Pinterest-perfect content that some other bloggers publish. She also won the Vuelio award for best Newcomer! 




A professional blogger, Youtuber, model and overall sweetheart. Liv's blog is beautiful on the inside and out, and her style is effortlessly cool (she has a pretty cute dog too, Maggie!) With content so glossy it looks like it belongs on the pages of Vogue, 'What Olivia Did' shows it pays to have a photographer boyfriend (and model good looks!)




I'm really lucky to have worked with Gabi in the past, and can confirm that she is as chic in real life as she is on her blog. Her style is affordable, yet she seems to make everything look incredible and straight off a runway! If you need inspiration of where to eat in Manchester as well, you've come to the right place... 




If you don't want to live the life of a London blogger before you visit Gemma's site, you definitely will afterwards - a mixture of blogging events, high-end beauty, travel and fashion all rolled into one. Definitely one to check out if you already live in the big smoke as there is a section dedicated to London itself, as well as fashion, beauty and travel. The choice is yours!


Let me know your favourite blogs in the comments! 
I'm always looking to discover new ones x
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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Give Yourself A Break


This post comes as a result of yesterday's migraine, and my body's attempt to tell me to calm the f*** down and take a break...

I have suffered from migraines since I was 14 but they are very sporadic and have no real trigger; I can go a year without having one, or I can have 3 or 4 in a month. But this isn't a post about migraines... it's more of one to teach myself a lesson and stop getting so stressed about the little things.

With everything that's happened this year, it's fair to say that life has been more stressful than usual - these were things that were completely unexpected, life-changing and you guessed it, stressful to say the least. Stress is a funny thing because in all honesty you might not even know you are suffering, and then bam, you body flips out at you and encourages you to slow down. It's no real surprise then that I have been suffering from migraines a lot more in the last few months than the past couple of years.

Sometimes as an adult it's hard to take a break - we have limited days holidays, work 5 days out of 7, and so weekends feel wasted if we don't cram-pack all the things into them that we can't do Monday-Friday - that's my way of looking at it anyway - but we also need time to regroup, relax and wind-down.

As a person, I have a very reactive temperament, meaning that if I get something in my head, I usually have to do it or research it straight away. I guess in a way its a coping mechanism to keep myself busy with suffering from anxiety, but it's something I only really became aware of this year. Sometimes it can be apparent, but most of the time people won't even realise it, and it's something I've sort of self-diagnosed. To be quite honest, I'm not even sure if its a real thing, but understanding that side to my personality has helped me to become aware that sometimes I need to listen to my body.

You might be wondering how this links to being stressed, but in my eyes, if I didn't have such a reactive personality, I probably wouldn't wind myself up so much with unreachable, unattainable thoughts, therefore wouldn't get as stressed, and here comes the 360... probably wouldn't suffer from as many migraines.

It's completely understandable for us to strive to have a perfect life, perfect relationship, perfect job, etc. we are constantly striving to update everyone else with the foolproof, instragrammed, social media-ready life that we are pretending to live, when in reality life isn't perfect or beautifully filtered. But it's what we're used to.

Striving for perfection does not equal happiness. We need to cut ourselves some slack. Life is already hard enough as it is without getting worked up about things that you can't control, and sometimes it's ok to want to get away from it all - something we should never feel ashamed about.

We live in a world now where everything is so immediate. We can get the news instantly, get a taxi whenever we want, get food delivered 24/7 (that one being the main priority) yet sometimes all we really need is right there in front of us. We need to stop punishing ourselves for not being the best, because quite frankly, that's not going to get us anywhere.

And in all honesty, we need to give ourselves a break. Whether its a night off, a weekend of country walks or a holiday. These little experiences help us to not completely lose our minds as twenty-somethings. Sometimes its good to step back, take some time, and remember that you are only human - needing to take a break from work life, social life or even just life in general does not make you weak - it helps you cope.

xx
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