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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Recipe For A Perfect Night In*


As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, I feel my inner grandma coming out in full force. From September 1st onwards, you can find me camped in the living room nestled under a huge blanket with my hair tied up in a messy bun, barefaced, and wearing my most comfortable pyjamas (which may or may not be Christmas themed and made of fleece). Until April, I only emerge to make cups of tea and renew my stash of sugary snacks. Going 'out out' is something alien to me in winter months - I mean, which club allows you to wear Christmas fleece PJs anyway? Because of this, I have become a seasoned professional of the whole cosy night in game. So, I have joined up with TV giants Panasonic to share with you the components of a perfect night in.

A 'cinema at home' set up
Everyone loves going to the cinema. I mean, the excitement of seeing a brand new film on a big, crisp screen whilst munching on popcorn is second to none. But going to the cinema takes effort - you have to put on a bra and actually leave the house. That's why I love the concept of a cinema at home set up. Dim the lights, make some popcorn (salted popcorn with chocolates mixed in is amazing), and fire up the big screen. I have had my eyes on the Panasonic HDR 4K TV lately. The display looks really crisp and clear with a real focus on showing great detail and depth of colour and tone. It is a slimline, widescreen TV and it looks really sleek and modern. Much better than trying to balance your laptop on your lap alongside all your snacks.

Enough snacks to feed an army
Snacks are a huge part of a night in. Whilst on a night out, you may indulge in an extra large doner kebab with garlic mayo but night in feasting is a whole other ballpark. Think Doritos stacked up like a mountain on a plate and smothered in salsa and cheese paired with wine (if you're fancy) or a coke float (if, like me, you're not). Nothing brings a group together like the communal thowing off of inhibitions and eating whatever you want. Pizza dipped in ketchup? Do it. Mixing sweet and salted popcorn? You animal, I love it. Melting marshmallow onto digestive biscuits in the microwave? You are a culinary genuis, my friend.


Great company
The majority of the films I watch are with a tiny baby who likes to give her own special commentary (which is difficult as she can only communicate through screams) but, back in my uni days, I loved watching the most embarassingly soppy films with my flatmates. Nights in are just made to be shared.

A movie marathon
Nothing says night in like committing yourself to watching every Harry Potter film in a single evening. Or dragging out the 90s and 00s classic girly movies and miming the key scenes just to make sure everyone knows you are the Cher Horowitz of the group. But my all-time favourite film series to watch is Bridget Jones. It is funny. It is romantic. It is an all-round feel good film. Heck, even my husband liked it.

Pampering
Whether your friends are staying over or you have just waved them goodbye, the perfect way to end a night in is with a bit of pampering. If your girls are staying over (which is advisable after all that rosé), get out the face masks, paint your nails, maybe play on your single friend's Tinder. If not, dive straight into that bath tub, chuck in a bath bomb, and maybe bring that big bar of Galaxy chocolate along to keep you company (yknow, just in case you get lonely in there..).

What are your favourite things to do on a night in?

This post was sponsored by Panasonic
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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Blogger Spotlight: Alice Rose from AliceRose.co


Alice Rose runs a blog called AliceRose.co and focuses mainly on beauty and lifestyle. My favourite posts of hers are her opinion posts - she isn't afraid to talk about anything from body confidence to politics. Also her beauty posts make me want to jump straight into the car and head to Boots with my bank card in hand.

What first got you interested in blogging?
I wanted a space to write what I wanted about whatever I wanted. I loved reading beauty and fashion blogs and had a lot of time on my hands once I graduated from university.

What tips would you give someone just starting out?
Start with whatever you have. Camera, editing software, props. Everyone starts somewhere and its better to learn as you go. And blogger chats. That's where I got my first followers and best blogging friends!

If you could only use one makeup brand for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Charlotte Tilbury.

Do you think it is important for bloggers to share their political beliefs?
Absolutely. Even if you purely blog about beauty or food or fashion its still important to use your platform to at least encourage others to engage and care about the world and others.

What has been the best part of 2017?
I've had a bit of a tough year so I'm hoping the last 4 months are the best bit!

Where would be your dream holiday destination?
I really want to travel around India; My mother lived there for a short while and it would be my dream to spend a month or two there.

Name 3 of your favourite bloggers
coloursandcarousels.com - Charlotte blogs about so many different topics and she does really down to earth, watchable vlogs.
beautybythebunny.com - Angela's photography is just beautiful and I really trust her opinion.
shonalouise.com - Shona blogs about disability, lifestyle and beauty and its really opened my eyes to a lot of issues.

I hope you enjoyed reading Alice Rose's answers. Be sure to go and show her some love on her blog and all her social media channels!

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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Introducing Ava



On the 8th of November, my entire world changed. Exactly two weeks before my due date, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She weighed just 5lb 4oz and we decided to name her Ava Ruth Musinguzi.

It has almost been a month since Ava first arrived into this world and I feel like everything in my life has shifted and she is suddenly at the centre. She still doesn't appreciate how amazing sleep is and she has a scream so loud that I convinced the neighbours are one more fussy night away from calling child protection but when I hold her in my arms and she looks up at me, my heart feels like it could explode.


We have certainly had some struggles already. The labour was long and exhausting. It took 24 hours from the time my waters broke to when she was born - about 7 hours of which I was fully dilated. But, thankfully, she managed to fight her way out just before they wheeled me off for an emergency caesarean. The moment they put her in my arms was like no other. I remember gently poking her squidgy cheeks as she looked up at me and thinking that she was the most amazing thing that I had ever seen. We then spent the first 5 days of her life on the antenatal ward recovering. My husband was by my side throughout everything and was an absolute blessing. Thankfully now Ava is fit and healthy. She has a very good appetite and I can certainly vouch for her lungs being in excellent working order.

I am excited for the adventures our family of three are going to have. I love watching her grow and learn every day and I can't wait for us to share a life together. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call her my daughter.

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Sunday, 19 November 2017

All The Random Things I'm Currently Loving


I always enjoy reading monthly favourite blog posts but I feel like writing them requires a certain level of organisation that I don't have. By the time I even think about writing a monthly favourites post, it is already half way into the next month. Also I am a creature of habit and tend to stick to the same products that I have been using since I was a preteen. So, instead of writing a monthly favourites post, I decided to write a post about all the random things that I have been enjoying lately - and I even managed to pick some things that aren't edible which is even more surprising.

Body Shop Matte Clay Skin Clarifying Foundation
Some of you may remember that a little while ago I wrote a post about making ethical consumer choices and how I wanted to start by swapping my go-to beauty products for cruelty free options. My foundation was one of the first things that I was keen to explore other options with as I had been repurchasing the same product for years so I was definitely ready for a change. I liked the matte finish of this foundation especially as it didn't appear cakey on my skin as many matte foundations do. It is a good medium coverage and blended really nicely. Also, as a pale girl, I was really excited that they had some good light shades and there were even shades for people with lighter skin than mine which is a revelation as I usually just have to go with the lightest shade and still end up looking orange.

B. Protected Anti-Pollution Primer
I started using this primer a few months ago because, admittedly, I misread the price and thought I was getting a really good deal (tip: make sure you are reading the price for the product you want to buy and not the one next to it on the shelf). Because I am a massively awkward person, I begrudgingly paid for this primer. Happily though, this primer actually turned out to be really good. I love the consistency as it is quite thick so you really feel like it is a creating a good base for your foundation. I haven't had issues with caking that I constantly used to get since I switched to this primer and, despite being a thicker formula than the products I was used to, it doesn't feel heavy on your skin. It blends well and creates a really nice base. I think I will even repurchase this product - on purpose this time!

Nivea Watermelon Shine
This is a product that I have been repurchasing for years and I had completely forgotten about until I found it sitting around in the back of my drawer. I love the watermelon scent of this lip balm and it gives a slight pinky-red finish to the lip but it is quite subtle which is what I look for in a lip colour. It is not intensely moisturising but a good product to use regularly as I find that products like Vaseline are overly moisturising on my lips and then my lips start getting chapped when I am not using them.

YSL Touche Eclat Glow Shot 
This product has been an absolute treat for me as I am very much someone who uses high street makeup products. My auntie very kindly bought me this when we went shopping together and I was beyond excited to use it. I loved the pink colour as I feel like it really complements my skin tone and the shine is glorious. I am still learning how best to apply this though as I am not used to using a highlighter that isn't a powder.

Superdrug Deodorant
Back on the cruelty free side of things, I recently tried out this deodorant and I was really impressed with it. I usually stick to brands like Sure but I haven't even noticed any difference since switching to this cheaper version - which is definitely a good thing. Why spend more on a non-cruelty free item when you can get just as good results with this?

Scope Charity Shop
This is a bit of a random one but I have been loving picking up some little bits and pieces for bubba from Scope. Of course their stock totally depends on donations but I always seem to find things that are in good condition and are reasonably priced in their shops.

Poundland
One great thing about having moved to London is that the Poundlands are much bigger here - thrilling, I know. I recently picked up the flowers and the notebook you see in the picture from Poundland and I find that they are the absolute best for cheap blog pic props and you can afford to change your props more regularly as it is just so affordable. Also their Halloween stuff is second to none.

New Look Houndstooth Scarf
I picked this scarf up from New Look because I was pretty unprepared for the temperature drop that has hit the UK recently and I felt like the blood in my veins was slowly turning to the consistency of a cherry Slush Puppy. I was impressed by the price and the cosiness but also because it was giving me Hannah Gale vibes and she is an absolute icon so it had to be purchased.


Greenwich Market
I may have mentioned my newfound love for Greenwich Market in my blog post about moving to London but I wanted to include it here as well. I am a huge market fan and have always loved going to places like Borough Market and Camden Market. Heck, even church fetes and jumble sales. If it has stalls, I am there. So, when I discovered Greenwich Market right on our doorstep, I was so excited and I have been there a fair few times already. I mean, there are some really good food stalls there and I am a hungry person with a lot of time of their hands.

What have you been loving lately?
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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Blogger Spotlight: Kelly from Maverick Baking


Starting us off on our Blogger Spotlight series, we have the lovely Kelly from Makerick Baking. She runs a blog about something very close to my heart - food! Just scrolling through her blog to create these questions had my mouth watering. She posts loads of tried and tested recipes and restaurant reviews as well. Her blog is definitely worth a follow and she even has a YouTube channel if you feel like having a bit of a bake-along with her or want to watch her review some chocolate (why don't more people do chocolate reviews?!). Kelly is an all-round good egg and definitely worth a follow!

What first got you into blogging?
I’d finally discovered that I had passion for something. I was baking once or twice a week and really wanted to start sharing pictures of my creations with my friends and others on social media. While a Facebook page was fine for a while, people were starting to think I was a business and didn’t really “get it”. So instead, I decided to jump right in at the deep end and start a self-hosted food blog, sharing my pictures and recipes for anyone out there to try! 


What advice would you give to someone starting a blog?

I’d tell them not to worry about trying to be perfect from day one. I’m not ashamed to say that I started my blog as a teenager, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My website design was terrible and my photos were worse. I didn’t know blogging was a viable hobby let alone a career! Ultimately, it’s your space, and you should feel free to post whatever you like, improvement comes with experience and time. 


Do you have an all-time favourite bake?

Now THAT is a tough question. I’d probably say that the bake I’m most proud of and enjoy making the most is my triple or quadruple chocolate brownies. They’ve taken years to perfect, and I can genuinely say (after eating hundreds of brownies from loads of places in my lifetime) that they are the best brownies I’ve ever had. 


How does Aberdeen compare to other parts of the UK?

It’s certainly very grey thanks to all the old granite buildings. Most people don’t think to visit here, as Glasgow and Edinburgh garner much of the attention of tourists in Scotland, however I think it is an underrated city. While we are nowhere near as bustling and cosmopolitan as larger cities, we have a lot of great quality local restaurants and businesses, and a very different attitude from other parts of Scotland. Hint: Glaswegians are much more friendly, and less cynical!


Have you had any major baking disasters?

Too many to name to be honest. I’ll give you a few painful examples. Many times, I’ve forgotten to grease a tin and lost an entire cake or batch of cookies that have welded themselves to the metal. I’ve also been known to find an entire cheesecake has dripped out of the bottom of the tin it was cooking in because I didn’t seal it tightly enough. As I never follow a recipe properly (hence the blog title) I have also found myself with many burnt, ugly or just plain bad bakes that were barely redeemable! 


What made you decide to start a YouTube channel?

I really like eating, I really like baking, and I really like talking, so it only felt right. There aren’t nearly enough Scottish voices on YouTube, and I felt I wanted to add to the small number with a channel that is both useful and entertaining.


What was your biggest achievement of 2017?

On the blog side, I saw a lot of growth and finally hit my first 1000 followers on a social media site. In my “real” life, I graduated from Aberdeen University with an upper second class honours Law degree, and that wasn’t easy!

Name 3 of your favourite bloggers:
·         Sally’s Baking Addiction – this lady is the undisputed Queen of US baking right now!
·         Chocolate Covered Katie – an unbelievably creative and unique cook, making healthified junk food.
·         Domestic Gothess – an alternative girl making beautiful food

I hope you enjoyed our first ever Blogger Spotlight. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one which should be up within the next week. Also be sure to go and show Kelly some love on her blog, YouTube, and social media channels!

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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Things I Wish I Had Done At University



There is a slight sadness to this autumn that I never imagined I would feel. This is the first autumn that I am not returning to a form of education since I was 4 years old. For me, autumn is so connected with the smell of sharpening pencils in a school classroom, stocking up on notepads and new highlighters, laying out my school uniform, and a certain sense of excitement over what was in store for me in the coming year. As I progressed into college and university, a lot of that sentimentality remained. I still found myself stocking up on new notebooks at the start of term and investing in new pieces for my autumn wardrobe to debut at lectures. Autumn and education are so interconnected in my mind that now that I am out of education, I don't quite know what to do with myself.

Looking back, there are quite a lot of things that I wish I had done whilst I was still at university that I can't really do now. There are so many opportunities that I missed out on because I felt too shy to put myself out there and do them. I wish that I had kept in mind how university doesn't last forever and that I should make the most of it whilst I'm there.

So, in an effort to encourage my student readers to make the most of their time at uni - and just to indulge in a bit of nostalgic reminiscing - I decided to put together a little list of all the things I wish I had done at university.

Taken advantage of the free language courses
At my university, the language department offered free language courses and you could also take a proficiency test at the end of it which gave you a qualification in that language. I did study German in the first year of uni but I dropped it when I went into second year. I did intend to do the free language course in German so I have at least something to show for it but I got a bit lazy and next thing I knew I was graduating. Lots of unis offer free language courses and they always have a wide selection to choose from - gone are the days of only having French or German to study. My uni offered everything from Russian to Japanese. Even if you don't become an expert, learning a few phrases is a lot of fun and a great thing to add to your CV (yes, I am aware I sound like a career advisor).

Made the most of student discount
They say that you don't appreciate a good thing until it's gone and that is definitely true of student discounts. I miss all the offers and savings to be had. I miss the cheaper rent. I even miss student loans and grants. Being a graduate is super expensive. So expensive that I think they should introduce a graduate discount system so you continue to have discounts for the first year after you graduate - just whilst you transition into a career and stabilise yourself.

Gone on a cheap, international trip with the uni
My uni was always running cheap trips to different places across the UK and the world. I wish now that I had taken advantage of the opportunity to travel so cheaply (and get out of some lectures). 


Studied harder for assessments
Looking back, I really didn't put as much effort into my studies as I could have done and I do regret that now. I think I would have found the course a lot more enjoyable if I had actually engaged with the books we were assigned more and put more hours into researching for assessments. I may also be a little bit bitter that I didn't achieve the 2:1 that I had hoped for. 

Gone to town more on the room décor
There is nothing I love more than reading a good old room tour post but they also make me wish I had put more effort into my own room decoration whilst at university. All the photo prints, motivational postcards, and posters I see adorning corkboards put shame to the timetable and print out of German verb conjugation that I had pinned to mine. I also feel like maybe I would have been more motivated to work if I had actually been able to use my desk rather than making it into a wasteland of dirty laundry, crumpled receipts, and seminar hand outs that probably should have been filed away.

Joined societies
I feel like I could have been involved with so many more things and met a lot more people if I had joined societies. Some of my flatmates were involved with so many different things and they always seemed to be off out somewhere fun. I kinda wish I hadn't missed out on those opportunities myself.

Prepared for seminars
The amount of seminars that I attended on novels that I had not even opened is laughable - and kind of tragic. I feel like maybe I would have gotten more out of my university experience if I had actually engaged with the material I was meant to be studying rather than hurried searching the book on Wikipedia on the way to class.
 
What would you do differently if you went back to university?
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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Can High Street Perfumes Compete With High End Fragrances?

Buying a new perfume is one of my favourite things. When I am stood in front of that big glass cabinet filled with shiny bottles, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop picking out a selection of penny sweets with their pocket money. I bought my first ever perfume when I was thirteen with money that I had been given for my birthday. I remember the woman who had served me in the shop passing me down countless bottles to spritz and the slight light-headedness that followed from inhaling too many scents. I eventually decided upon Gucci Flora because I loved the light, floral scent and the flowery packaging. It all felt so sophisticated and worlds away from stocking up on Charlie body sprays in Boots which was what I was accustomed to. Since then, the novelty of perfume buying has not worn off. I remained faithful to Gucci for a few years and tried a few different perfumes from their range. I then ventured into other brands like Dolce and Gabbana, YSL, and Bulgari but I never chose anything that didn't boast a designer label.

However, that all changed last Christmas when my husband gifted me a bottle of Zara Femme. He told me how he had actually served a customer at his work who was wearing this fragrance and loved it so much that he asked her where she had bought it. I was touched by the fact that he had gone to so much effort to track down the perfect scent but the designer perfume snob in me was panicking. What if it doesn't last as long? What if it smells cheap? My head was buzzing with doubts about wearing a high street perfume. Thinking back, it seems ridiculous as I wear a full face of high street makeup and all of my clothes are from the high street but perfume was something that I had always thought of as being luxurious and high end. You can imagine my shock when I ended up loving the perfume. All of my doubts were totally unfounded. The perfume lasted just as long as my designer fragrances and I received so many compliments on the scent.

So, when I was offered the chance to review two high street fragrances, I leapt at the opportunity. As someone who has recently seen the light and realised that there are some real fragrance gems to be found in high street stores, I wanted to put these perfumes to the test and see how they stacked up.


Monsoon Rose Gold*

I wouldn't be able to call myself a blogger if I didn't have at least a slight obsession with everything rose gold so I was certainly excited by this product. The packaging is really nice quality and I can't wait to display it on my dressing table alongside my other perfumes. In terms of the perfume itself, I was really impressed. In fact, I have every intention of repurchasing this once I have finished it. The scent is quite a warm and slightly musky scent which just screams sophistication to me - I feel like this is how Kate Middleton smells.

Monsoon describe it as having 'top notes of sparkling lemon, soft fruit and ozonic scents are layered with velvety rose, tuberose, neroli and cyclamen, and underpinned with base notes of Eastern woods, vanilla, mosses, musk and balsamic amber'. 


Personally, this is the kind of fragrance that I have always wanted to own but never committed to because I always opt for sweeter, more traditionally floral fragrances. It wasn't overpowering but the scent definitely wore well throughout the day and I could still smell it on my wrists before stepping into the shower in the evening. For £24 for a 30ml bottle or £35 for 100ml, I would say this fragrance definitely gives high end perfumes a run for their money both in terms of price and quality.  


Accessorize Love Lily*

On trying this perfume, I was surprised by how different it was to Monsoon's Rose Gold perfume. I would say that this perfume is better suited to a younger person and would be perfect for someone who is just starting to experiment with perfumes. I would definitely have loved to receive this as a Christmas or birthday gift when I was in my teens. The scent is very sweet and floral but the vanilla undertones save it from becoming too sickly. It described on the Accessorize website as being 'sweet and vibrant' and having notes of 'raspberry, orange, jasmine, and vanilla'. I would say that the raspberry and jasmine notes are the strongest which contribute to the sweetness of this scent and make it perfect as a fun and playful daytime scent.


In terms of packaging, this product is a real winner. The box is a beautiful, vibrant pink and I love the flower design in the cap of the perfume bottle. For just £19, you get this large 75ml bottle which would be the perfect addition to any dressing table. Although this product isn't something that I would personally repurchase for myself as I feel like this product is too young for me, I can appreciate that this is a great deal for a good quality product and I wouldn't hesitate to buy this as a gift for a younger female relative.

Clearly, the high street is putting up a good fight when it comes to the competition with high end fragrances. Products like Monsoon's Rose Gold show that you can get a good quality product for a fraction of what you'd spend on the designer brands. Also the high street makes perfume accessible to women of all ages and products like Accessorize's Love Lily are perfect for teenage girls who want to experiment with scents but have a more modest budget.

What is your favourite perfume? Do you prefer high street or high end?
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