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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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Why I'll Never Be A Mummy Blogger


Lately, I have been considering my brand. I am cringing that I actually just wrote that but, what I mean is, I have been considering which direction I should take this blog in. Whether I need a niche. Whether I should just continue under the umbrella term of 'lifestyle blogger' or if my blog needs something new. I have been experimenting with different kinds of posts and asking a lot of questions on social media about what you guys want to read more of. I have been loving writing more opinion posts (basically it is a great excuse for me to just rant) but I have also been considering how having a baby will impact what kind of things I will want to write about. Will I automatically become a 'mummy blogger'?

Don't get me wrong, I love parenting blogs. All I seem to read these days is posts that include cute, little bubbas and I am an avid fan of a whole host of YouTubers who document the trials and tribulations of motherhood. But something is holding me back from the idea of becoming a full-blown mummy blogger myself. Although I have been blogging for years and sharing places I have visited and big life events, I still think of myself as a fairly private person. I don't feel hugely comfortable sharing much about my relationship with my husband or pictures of my friends and family and I feel like this will probably extend to my daughter too.

Of course, I have every intention of sharing pictures of my bubba on social media and I will probably share some here as well but I won't be making her the central focus of my blog. She will, of course, be the central focus of my life so this will probably transfer into my writing but, by labelling myself as a 'mummy blogger', I feel like this puts a certain pressure on me to produce content based around my daughter which oversteps a line that I would feel comfortable with. As much as I love to share snippets of my life on this blog and have really enjoyed documenting my pregnancy, there are certain things that I want to share with just my husband and our immediate family.

I will continue to share parts of my life on this blog and you definitely won't go without pictures of my daughter. I will continue to document my pregnancy and continue creating baby related content but I have decided that much of my daughter's life and our relationship together will remain private.

What do you think of parenting blogs?
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Saturday, 21 October 2017

How I Achieved The Softest Baby Bump In The World (Probably)


During pregnancy, strange things start to happen to your skin. One minute everything is normal and you're just sat waiting for your pregnancy glow, the next your chin has transformed into a mountain range of spots and you have dry patches in the weirdest of places. Your bump seems to be bigger every time you look at it but you are also ballooning in areas you never expected (I mean, my wedding ring is now so tight that it leaves white marks on my sausage fingers). It is definitely important to take care of your skin during pregnancy as it starts to stretch out to make space for bubba and I have found that I feel better about myself too when I am moisturised to within an inch of my life.

Over the last 35 weeks, I have tried lots of different lotions and potions to keep my bump (and the rest of me) silky smooth but I always find myself going back to these 4 products. So, I wanted to share with you all my all-time favourite pregnancy moisturisers.


Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks
This product is one that I hugely associate with pregnancy as my mum used it when she was pregnant with my three younger siblings so it was the first product I reached for when I fell pregnant myself. I love the cocoa smell and how it leaves my bump feeling so smooth. It is quite a thick cream which I like as pregnancy tends to make your skin feel drier than usual. Also I have been using this daily since I found out I was pregnant and I haven't had any stretch marks appear on my stomach yet so either this is a coincidence or Palmer's are making magic lotions. I like to think it is the latter.


Boots Baby Oil
I feel like borrowing your kid's baby oil is such a typical mum thing to do but there is no arguing with the results. I like to use a couple of drops of this in the bath alongside a bubble bath or rub it into damp skin when I am just getting out of the shower. Also it is perfect for sensitive skin since it is formulated specifically for babies so you know it'll be gentle on your skin.


Simple Light Moisturiser
I have been using this moisturiser since I was a teenager and it has never done me wrong. It has seen me through the worst teen spot breakouts and winters of dryness and now it is standing strong through the changes pregnancy are making to my skin. I find that my face tends to be quite oily - especially around my nose and chin - and pregnancy hasn't changed that. I also tend to get spots on my chin and on my cheeks quite a lot. I like that this moisturiser doesn't aggravate my spots because it is quite a delicate formula and, as it is a light moisturiser, it lets my skin breathe and doesn't clog up my pores. I would highly recommend this product to anyone with sensitive and/or oily skin.


Bubble T Bath Pearls
When I'm not stealing baby oil from bubba, I love using Bubble T's bath pearls. They are filled with oils so you just drop a couple into the bath and they pop open and release all the oily goodness into the tub. They smell amazing and they leave my skin feeling so smooth after a long soak. They recently started stocking these in Superdrug too so you should definitely check them out - they also do teabags that you put in the bath which I am yet to try but am intrigued by. 

Have you tried any of these products? What do you recommend?
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Monday, 16 October 2017

We Moved To London!


If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I recently moved from Devon to the big city of London. Just writing that seems slightly crazy to me. My husband had been wanting to live in London for a while now and things had always got in the way of that. First, I had to finish my degree in Cardiff. Then, just a couple of months before I was set to graduate, we found out that we were expecting. At that time, we thought that there was no way now that we would be able to follow that dream and live in London. I mean, babies don't really mix with the fast-paced, working flat out, heady excitement of the capital. But then we stopped and asked ourselves 'why not?'. So, here we are one week into our new lives living in Greenwich.



When we first got here, I didn't know what to expect. I felt quite anxious for the first few days - everything you see on the news and the worried comments made by loved ones about how you'll be murdered in your sleep get into your head more than you care to admit. Honestly, I haven't adjusted to this new lifestyle yet and there are times that I want to jump on a train and return to the quiet, slow-paced village life that I was accustomed to in Devon. 





It is definitely a big change but I have tried to focus on enjoying the little things. I have been walking a lot more and taking the buses to different areas nearby. I went to Greenwich Market and I browsed the stalls and bought myself a pulled pork toastie (mostly because it contained gherkins and mustard which the baby seems to love) and a cranberry and raspberry juice which I devoured sat beside a huge ship on the waterfront. The other evening, I travelled into Covent Garden where my husband was working and we walked around looking at the big lights and eating McFlurrys.



I feel like London is a whole other world. There is so much to do, so many people, so many different areas. It is intense. I can understand why people are desperate to exchange their London life for a more relaxed one in a leafy suburb in Kent. But I can also see why so many people are drawn to London. Some days I have woken up feeling excited to jump onto a bus and tour around the city sipping Starbucks coffees and pretending to be a tourist. Other days I wake up and the constant hum of traffic and people is too much and I start to dream of the life we had in the Lake District where you go walking in the mountains and dip into family run coffee shops and everybody knows everybody. But I think only time will tell if this is the right place for us. For now, I am focusing on enjoying everything London has to offer.


Would you ever live in London? Where would you say is the best place to live in the UK?
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Friday, 13 October 2017

Changes I'm Making To My Instagram

The early Insta days

When I first joined Instagram back in January, I had just moved to the Lake District to live with my husband for a little bit whilst I was on Christmas holiday from uni and wanted to share all the pictures I was taking at the time. I was then on a break from blogging and didn't feel hugely motivated to return to it but I was missing the feeling you get when you share snippets of your life with others and are able to share in some of their memories too. At this time, I loved sharing pictures of the scenery and I was very much into cooking as well - I was on a bit of a health kick so I had followed a fair few fitness gurus. I would post often twice or even three times a day usually using just my basic Sony camera phone and occasionally my Nikon bridge camera which is what I use for blog pics. I wanted to share pics that looked nice but the memories were the most important part for me.

My most staged period

Almost a year later and I feel like I have lost the original reason why I joined Instagram. I feel pressured to produce perfect content - even at the cost of it having much meaning. My pictures started to become more and more staged and I found that I was no longer sharing things that meant a lot to me. As long as I was sharing something pretty, that's all that matters, right? But even as I pushed to give my rather modest following what I thought they'd want to see, I noticed that likes were dropping. I wasn't getting as much engagement as before. My followers were dropping like flies.

That's when I realised that I had lost the whole point of Instagram. It isn't about posting perfect flatlays or stressing about which filter suits your grid best, it is about sharing a part of your life. It is documenting memories. Creating a photo journal to look back on. With this in mind, I decided that I was wasting too much time obsessing over how my grid looks and whether my photography is good enough. Yes, I'll probably never make it to the explore page but I want my Instagram to feel like a part of me and a reflection of my life rather than something that is staged and generic.

My latest posts

So, I decided it is time that I cut myself loose from this pressure to produce perfect content. I have started posting whatever I feel like. My captions have become longer and more chatty. I don't post at any specific time of the day or push myself to post everyday. I post what I want when I want. And that is how it should be.

What are your thoughts on Instagram?
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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Things I Wish I'd Been Told In The First Trimester


The first trimester can be a crazy time. You've been hit with the news that you're going to have your own mini me in just nine months. Your hormones are sending you into overdrive and you may or may not have just been sick because you smelt someone cooking eggs. We have all been there and I am here to say that there is light at the end of the cradling-the-toilet-bowl tunnel.

It is ok to be scared
When I found out I was pregnant, I was living in a shared student house with my husband and I hadn't even graduated yet. We had big plans to travel the world and experience all the crazy things life has to offer. Admittedly, when I found out I was pregnant, I felt scared. I didn't feel like it was the right time to start a family. 7 months later, I am nothing but a vision of excitement at the thought of having a baby. I'd say that it is natural not to immediately feel excited. Having a baby is a massive step and a complete lifestyle change. You may not feel an immediate connection with your unborn child. You may struggle at the thought of making compromises and changing how you envisioned the next few years of your life. But, trust me, it doesn't make you a bad person if you aren't immediately excited. It doesn't make you a bad parent if the people around you seem to be more happy about your news than you are. These feelings will come.

Eat what you can manage and don't feel guilty about it
For the first few months of pregnancy, I felt this real sense of guilt that I wasn't providing my little one with what she needed in terms of nutrients. The problem was that I couldn't manage anything that wasn't mega salty or just carbs. The only thing slightly nutritious that I was having was fresh orange juice - I drank gallons of the stuff. But all I wanted to eat was toast, chips with multiple sachets of salt, and salted tortilla chips. I tried to push myself to eating food that was good for me but it made me feel sick so, most of the time, I stuck with what I could manage. I'd say that a healthy diet is important but morning sickness and cravings often hinder you from eating what you know you should be. For now, eat what you can manage. Drink lots of water and try to sneak some fruit and veg in if possible. But, most importantly, take your pregnancy vitamins (the ones that contain folic acid). The sickness will go once you hit the second trimester then you can focus on improving your diet.

The morning sickness WILL eventually stop
Usually around the 14th week of pregnancy, your symptoms will die down and you'll start feeling a bit better. By 20 weeks, you should feel pretty much back to normal. The first couple of months of pregnancy were definitely the most difficult for me but things majorly improve in the second trimester. Just think that your body is experiencing something completely new - you are growing a human! Rest up, eat whatever you like, boss your partner around, and get as much sleep as humanly possible. 


Calling 111 is better than googling your symptoms
Those first few weeks before you're assigned to a midwife can be really scary - especially if you're a first time mum. Everything is completely new and the temptation to google every symptom is ever-present. My top piece of advice is to call 111 which is the non-emergency NHS number and talk to one of their advisors who will tell you whether it is worth you arranging to see a GP, dropping into the maternity ward at your local hospital, or if what you're experiencing is totally normal. Calling this number is a lot more reliable and an easy way of putting your mind at ease.

Don't feel scared of telling people about the pregnancy
I know that this definitely isn't applicable to everyone but when I fell pregnant at the age of 21, I was sure that my parents would be really annoyed about it. So sure that I didn't actually tell them until I was 18 weeks gone. Looking back, it's ridiculous that I was so scared to tell them because my family are all really excited about the baby. I'd say that if you think someone will react negatively to the news, just bite the bullet and tell them. If they do react badly, I am sure they will eventually come round - who wouldn't love a little bubba? But keeping your pregnancy secret isn't a good idea because you need people around you to support you and it is important that those you spend time with know you're pregnant in case you start feeling ill or anything. Also, equally importantly, declare your pregnancy to your employer as early as possible. I told my employer when I was only 2 weeks pregnant as I worked night shifts and my job involved long hours on my feet. Once he knew that I was pregnant, I was allowed more breaks, had to do less heavy lifting, and was offered some day shifts as well.

Your body is going to change in crazy ways 
I've spoken a couple of times on this blog about pregnancy body confidence (here and here) because I think a lot of women struggle with how their body is changing during pregnancy - I know I have at times! But it important to keep in mind that being able to carry your child is such a privilege even though it might not seem like it when you're battling morning sickness and feeling so exhausted that you're tempted to take five naps a day. Remember why you are doing this and think of each change as a step into a new world.




Research what financial support you're entitled to
If you're in the UK, you'll be entitled to some means of financial support depending on your circumstance. The best way to identify this is by dropping into your local Jobcentre, reading up on the GOV UK website, or chatting with your employer.


Every pregnancy is different
This is a great thing to keep in mind when you are reading up on pregnancy forums or being given advice. What is right for you and your baby might not have been right for someone else but don't let their advice sway you. Your body knows what is best for your child - and knows far better than someone on an online forum. Also people seem to love to try to scare pregnant women with graphic tales of their workmate's cousin's friend who literally split in half during childbirth. Take this stories with a pinch of salt and talk to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Don't buy maternity clothes too early
When you're in the first trimester, you probably won't be showing much - if at all. I'd seriously advise saving your pennies and not buying any maternity clothes yet. I am now 33 weeks pregnant and I am still wearing regular tops and jumpers with maternity jeans. Only buy maternity clothes when you feel like you need them because you can't be sure how big your bump will be and how much weight you will gain - or even lose in some cases.

I hope you found these points helpful and I would love to hear which things you wish you had been told during the first trimester.
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Friday, 6 October 2017

10 Things You Need To Start Carrying In Your Handbag


I am a rather disorganised person. I never text back or reply to emails quick enough. I am always late to pretty much everything. And I have missed more buses than I care to admit. But one thing that I try to be organised in is my handbag. For me, the worst thing in the world is when you stick your hand into your bag to find something and are met with a sticky hell of melted sweets, cereal bar crumbs, and stray five pence pieces. For that reason, I routinely sort through my bag and keep everything in order. And after years of being a handbag wearer, I like to think I have learnt quite a few things about what is absolutely necessary to carry in your handbag. It would be rude not to share this wisdom, right? So, I have made a list in the hope that I can help free someone else from their own sticky, oaty handbag hell.

Sweets and/or mints
This may seem counter-intuitive seen as these are the very culprits of the melted sweet situation but a handbag just isn't the same without them. It is really important to me that I have mints on my person at all times. Mostly because I really like garlic. Also little mints and sweets are a great way to bribe small children into behaving/stopping screaming about being hungry.

Plasters
I can never tell if this is excessive or just a really great idea but I never go anywhere without a plaster in my bag. 90% of the time, you won't need them but do you know how many good wife points you get when your husband scrapes his ankle and you just whip out your plasters and have him bandaged up in seconds? It's a lot of good wife points, I can assure you. So many it could even result in you being given choice of what to watch on Netflix and being bought chocolate. Worth it.

Face wipes
You never know when you'll end up staying out late or, more likely for me, spilling something on your top. Face wipes are perfect because you can use them for all the usual wipe jobs but they're also there if you need them for removing makeup or if you forget to pack your cleanser.

Ketchup
I am pretty much the British version of Beyoncé - I may not carry hot sauce but I do always have ketchup to hand. I like to keep those little sachets they give you in McDonald's just in case I am ever caught short on the red sauce front. Also this is another one which is perfect for when you are out with kids because kids can never have enough ketchup. Feel free to swap this for your preference in sauces.

Water
It seems pretty obvious but, guys, please carry water in your bag. You'll all get dehydrated and turn into human versions of prunes. I don't want to see that happen.

Stamps
This may be another slightly excessive one but I carry stamps in my purse. Yes, I have had strangers comment on this - apparently, I 'must have been a girl guide since I'm so organised'. But sometimes you need to pick up a card for a birthday at the last minute and don't want to walk all the way home to get a stamp then walk back to the postbox so it is just easier to carry stamps with you so you post the card as soon as you scribble down the address. Right? Ok, I know this one is a stretch but you never know when you'll need a stamp.

Pen and paper
Yes, everyone has a phone on them at all times but in a whimsical old-world kinda way, I like to carry a pen and a small notebook to jot things down in. Also a book is a good shout for when your phone runs out of battery but still don't want to have to interact with other human beings around you (because why would you?). Also phone batteries hardly last any time so maybe another good idea is packing a charger too - if you're feeling organised.

Carrier bag
Since what was arguably the biggest British controversy of our generation - the introduction of a five pence charge on carrier bags - I have become militant about carrying a carrier bag with me everywhere. No-one is getting their hands on the five pences I have peeled off the bottom of my bag.

Lipbalm
This is another one that you'd assume everyone would carry but you'd be surprised that not so many people actually do. I couldn't survive without having lipbalm with me everywhere I go. I carry about 3 different varieties with me - including an apple spice one because I am at one with the seasons.

Concealer
I find that all of my makeup manages to cling to my face throughout the day pretty well. All but my base. I find that my foundation starts to rub off in certain areas (especially my chin and nose??) which transforms me into some kinda impressionist white and pink mosiac. So, I always carry concealer to dot on those areas that I have the most trouble with.

So, there we have it: my 10 things that I always carry in my handbag. Of course, I always carry my purse and phone too but I wanted to share the more random items I swear by. I'd love to hear what you guys carry in your handbags and if anyone else shares my obsession with handbag organisation.
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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Visiting London On A Budget


I have the privilege of being married to a rather spontaneous man. When he suggested at 11pm on a Thursday that we go to London the following evening, I wasn't surprised. But what I did consider was how we would manage to stay in London for a whole weekend on our rather modest budget. Sure, we had stayed in London many times before and we have never been rolling in cash but with a bubba on the way and a house move on the cards, our budget had never been this tight. It is now Monday afternoon and I am back in Devon after spending a full weekend in the big city. I have to say, I am rather impressed by how well we managed to cut costs without scrimping on fun. So, I decided to put together a post of tips and tricks on how to save money when visiting the big city.


Know where your priorities lie
This is my biggest piece of advice not just in this post but in life: know what you are willing to spend more money on. Consider which things are most important to you. Are you desperate to try that fancy restaurant you've seen on everyone's instas? Do you really want to see a certain play? Or are you a bit of a hotel snob who loves a good king size bed with feather covers? Personally, I love to explore all over a city and wander around taking in the sights (and getting a lot of pics!) so I knew that public transport would probably be an area where I'd spend most of our budget. To balance this out, we decided to go with cheaper options when it came to accommodation and food.

Consider a hostel or budget hotel
If your main priority is seeing the city and you aren't going to even be at the hotel for more than the few hours you spend there sleeping, I would highly recommend booking a hostel or a cheap hotel. At the weekend, I booked us a budget hotel which was only 3 minutes walk from Victoria station and right in the heart of Kensington. I booked this at about 9pm for the same night for the sum of £50 per night. This included a breakfast consisting of cereal (better than nothing) and the room had a TV and there was wifi. The room wasn't anything special but the price for such a central location really impressed me. And the fact that this was a last minute price - if we had booked in advance, we could have got an even better deal. Most hostels in London average at about £18 per night but it possible to pay for a private family room in a hostel which usually costs about £40 per night. I would highly recommend using Trivago to compare prices and don't listen too closely to what the reviews say if you are looking at budget hotels.



Get a day travel pass or Oyster
Being a village girl, I find the transport in London to be incredible. The frequency of buses, trains, and tubes always surprises me. And it is not too expensive. You can pick up a daily travel card for £12 that covers most of London and allows unlimited travel on all forms of transport within the city (excluding cabs, of course). Or for £33, you can get a weekly travel card. The other option is picking up an Oyster card or a Visitor's Oyster Card. I have a regular Oyster card which I prefer as it's pay as you go and travel is free after your sixth journey. It depends how much you are intending to travel once you arrive in London but if you want to hit the shops in Oxford Street, explore Borough Market, take some outfit pics in Kensington, and head into Soho for a night out, I'd recommend picking one up because those taxi cab bills soon add up. 

Free attractions
One of the best things about London is that there is a wealth of free stuff to do. The city is full of museums and galleries that only ask for donations including the Tate and Tate Modern, V&A, British Museum, and The Natural History Museum. Also lots of the famous landmarks such as Trafalgar Square are free - walking around central is a great way to explore the city without parting with any cash. But my all-time favourite thing to do in London is explore the markets. My favourite is Borough Market but Camden Market is also really vibrant and exciting - although you may end up spending a little bit of money on some delicious snacks because who could resist? 

Independent restaurants
A great way to save money as well as trying something different is by eating at an independent restaurant. Venturing out of the centre is a great way to cut food costs. My best tip for finding cheap but delicious food is to eat at Lebanese or Turkish restaurants - for around £30, you can pretty much fill an entire table with a range of tasty dishes.


Explore outside of central
When we visited London, we travelled out to places like Lewisham and Croydon to explore parts of the city that we had never been to. Of course, I love doing all the touristy things that you find in the more central locations but you get more of a feel for London if you try places that are a bit off the beaten track. Also it is so much cheaper.

Megabus
If you're travelling to London from within the UK, be sure to check out the prices for Megabus. If you book trains years in advance, you can get good deals but Megabus is shockingly cheap even if you book it the same day. My husband and I booked a one-way ticket from Exeter to London and paid £17 for both of us. One woman on the bus told us she got a return for £8 for the same journey as she had booked in advance. Admittedly, it takes a bit longer than the train and there is the chance of running into traffic but once you've got your headphones in and have found some blogs to catch up on, the time tends to go a lot quicker than you'd imagine.


Voucher apps
Voucher apps like Vouchercloud are a great way to find some discounts ready for your trip. If you're savvy, you could accumulate a few different vouchers for restaurants and attractions to use on your trip - especially if you know where you'll be staying and which restaurants you'll be close to.

Trainline
Trainline is a great website for getting discounted train fares. I only discovered it last week when I booked train tickets for my husband and I from Bristol to Exeter for £19 which would have cost £34 if you had bought them on the GWR website. Also if you are desperate to ride the rails, be sure to book far in advance to get the best deals.


What are your London travel tips?
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Monday, 25 September 2017

Maternity Clothes and the Self-Confidence Crisis


TW: eating disorders

Over the last few months, my self-confidence has started to go downhill. I don't feel as good about myself as I used to. It sounds shallow but I miss feeling attractive. I feel like it has crept up on me over these few months and now I am feeling the full effects.

For most of my life, I have struggled with my weight. Last year, I reached the weight that I had always fantasised about achieving but doubted I ever actually would manage. I was a small size 10 - I liked to tell myself that a size 8 would probably be a better fit. Granted, I had treated my body so poorly to get to this point and, looking back, this weight loss feels more like a low point than an achievement. I realised that the problem was my self-confidence, not my size. I wasn't any happier as a size 10 than as a size 16. Heck, I think I was less happy because I felt like I hadn't achieved enough. I became obsessed with the tiny pocket of fat on my lower stomach. I would spend so much time in the mirror charting my 'progress'. I realised that if you don't love yourself at the size you are now, you won't love yourself once you've lost weight. It isn't a miracle solution to all your problems.

For months, I worked my way through my obsession with weight loss and focussed on giving my body what it needed rather than restricting myself. I wanted to get back to being the kinda girl who would order a chocolate cake in a café and not be adding up the calories in my head. With help from my husband, I got back on track and I was in a happy place. I rediscovered my love for takeaway pizza and I deleted the calorie counting app from my phone. Then I found out I was pregnant.

Admittedly, I did worry how the inevitable weight gain would affect me. I knew from the start that my body would change in crazy ways and the weight definitely did pile on fast. After only a couple of weeks, I had gone up a dress size in jeans. But I knew that there was no escaping this. I ate when I felt hungry. I gave into cravings and didn't push myself too hard with the exercise. 7 months in, I feel proud of my pregnancy body. I love my bump and I don't even mind the little extra chub I've gained because I know I need this extra weight for breastfeeding. I am proud of my body for carrying my child so well.

The problems come about when I have to try to dress this new body. I never realised how much of my identity and my relationship with my body is based on feeling good in what I am wearing. My self-confidence has been on the decline in the last few months because I just don't have anything to wear. I have tried maternity clothes but they just aren't me. I find myself wandering around clothes shops looking at the new season clothes and wishing that the maternity section was that exciting. I mean, sometimes I don't want to wear jersey striped tops and bodycon everything.


Jumper - Primark (similar)
Jeans - Mothercare (here)
Boots - New Look (similar)
Gilet - Primark (similar)

Of course, there are maternity clothing brands that are an exception to this. ASOS do a lovely range of maternity clothes and I recently picked up these jeans from Mothercare which I adore. I love seeing brands make maternity jeans that are soft, comfortable, have a great belly band, and actually look kinda cool. I love the classic blue colour and the ripped knees give me a 'I'm a cool mom' kinda vibe. On the same shopping trip, I picked up this jumper. Admittedly, it isn't as long as I would like to it be but I love the embroidered design on the arms. The best thing is that it is big and comfy whilst still looking nice. It is like a fluffy burst of autumn in my wardrobe. I paired the jeans and jumper with my all-time favourite chunky ankle boots and a gilet that definitely doesn't fit anymore and I finally feel a bit more 'me'. I feel like I have found an outfit that brings together all the autumn vibes that I absolutely love but is also comfy on my bump. When I wear this, I feel happier in myself. I am starting to feel more normal. I think I need to keep pushing myself to make an effort with my appearance like doing my makeup and not just scraping my hair back into a messy bun. 

To any other soon-to-be mums that are feeling the same, I would say that you have to be persistent in your search for clothes that make you feel like you again. Don't give up on maternity brands as they do often stock some nice pieces but also look in normal clothing shops - especially now that lots of brands are bringing out their winter jumpers which are a great way to wear a trend that is also not hugely uncomfortable. Also take some time to focus on yourself. Get your nails done, buy yourself some new makeup, pick up a swishy dress that flows over your bump and shimmy around in it.

Pregnancy can make you lose yourself. Your thoughts become focused on your little one - that's natural. But try not to lose sight of your own needs. You are still important and even though your priorities are shifting, make sure you don't let yourself fall to the bottom of the pile.

What tips would you give to soon-to-be mums when it comes to body confidence? What is your favourite maternity brand?
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Monday, 18 September 2017

Fighting The Seasonal Frizz With Noughty Haircare


The struggle is real for us curly-haired girls at this time of year. After a whole summer of fighting humidity-induced frizz, you would have thought Mother Nature would give us a little bit of a break. But, no. In come comes the wind and the rain and there goes all hope of having a good hair day. I have come to the realisation that frizz is just a part of life for me and I will probably never have perfect, frizz-free curls unless I use a whole lot of heat on my hair then never leave the house again - or even go near an open window. But that doesn't mean that I can't try to get as close to perfect curls as possible.

In my journey to reduce frizz and really bring out my curl pattern, I came across Noughty Haircare. Noughty Haircare has recently started being sold in Superdrug and they cater for hair types across the board. But here's the best part: they are 97% natural, vegan, and cruelty free. Of course, I snapped up a shampoo and conditioner from their curl range as soon as I laid eyes on them. And what sweetens the deal is that the packaging is just so pretty - I swear, these products are a blogger's dream. They even contain avocado - what's not to love?

In terms of the products that I purchased, I would say that they would be well suited to wavy hair or a loose curl type. They made my hair very shiny and I felt like my curls were definitely very moisturised after using the products. They didn't exactly add much to my curl definition but I could certainly see a reduction in frizz. I would definitely repurchase the shampoo again as I like that it is paraben free and doesn't cause my hair to tangle like many other shampoos do. The conditioner was good to have to change up my products every so often but I wouldn't rush to repurchase it because I found that it made my hair feel a bit heavy although it did give it a high level of shine which I was happy about.

I would recommend these products to give your hair a lift if it is feeling a bit dull in this weather. There products seem to be really moisturising and I can attest to how they leave your hair so shiny and soft. These products would be perfect for anyone with a loose to mid curl formation and I enjoyed experimenting with a new brand.

I applaud Noughty Haircare for creating a range of natural, vegan, cruelty-free products as it is difficult to find good products for an affordable price that aren't packed full of chemicals. I hope more haircare brands follow suit.

Have you ever tried Noughty Haircare? What did you think?
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Monday, 11 September 2017

Spooky Fun At Wookey Hole


There is nothing I love more than a little bit of spooky fun. I can't handle horror but anything that has a slight novelty feel to it is an instant win with me. So, when my mum suggested we go on a family day out to Wookey Hole, I was mega excited. I mean, who wouldn't want to explore caves that are famous for once being the home of a real, live witch? Also I was pretty psyched to buy some cave cheese. They also do cave wine and cider which sounds amazing and I am really considering investing on a few bottles to put in my hospital bag for once the baby is out.

After a long journey along a lot of windy country lanes (thanks, SatNav), we finally found ourselves at Wookey Hole. This part of the day was less spooky horror, more family comedy involving a road trip and a fair amount of shouting and sulking. Kids and cars really don't mix. But once we were finally out of the car and queuing up to get into Wookey Hole, we all started to feel a little more excited. Especially seeing a few members of staff milling around with green painted faces and wearing witch costumes. And seeing a café selling ice-cream.




Due to it being super busy on that day, the man at the desk advised us not to head straight to the caves but to look around a few of the other attractions first. So, we took his advice and found a clown museum. I, for one, find clowns so creepy. Just the whole fake smile thing creeps me out. And the new IT movie being released has taught me that I am really not alone in this. I mean, who even like clowns really? The mini museum was quite interesting and I liked seeing the pictures of clowns from early 1900s circuses - those guys really take the biscuit for clown creepiness. I have not visited many clown museums in my lifetime so it was interesting to read more about the history of the whole thing but I definitely wouldn't want to be left alone in there.









We then headed through to where they had a big amusement arcade full of old arcade machines. They had been adapted to accept special tokens which you could purchase. I loved the nostalgic vibe of the whole place and I even got my fortune read on one of the machines. My sisters loved the machines that predicted their futures and, of course, trying out the old penny slots.






We then headed out to have a picnic and grab some Marshfield ice-cream from the café. I chose banana ice-cream because I have really been craving everything containing bananas lately - which is kinda strange because I usually hate banana. Full of ice-cream and snacks, we then headed into the caves.



The caves were really dark inside with only some areas illuminated with artificial lighting. We were dodging low-hanging rocks and puddles of water the whole time. Our guide told us the folk story about the witch who used to live in these caves and the coldness and darkness really added to the whole spooky atmosphere. I couldn't help but imagine what would happen if a rock suddenly fell blocking our path or if a body of water leaked from somewhere filling the whole cave - as you can tell, I am ever the optimist. For the end of the tour, we had to wear hard hats as the area had been excavated more recently than the rest of the parts and there was a risk of falling rocks - I was convinced this was the end.




Thankfully, we all made it out alive. I may have been slightly melodramatic as no-one has ever had any issues visiting the caves (that I know of anyway). We then were able to go to the gift shop and check out all the yummy cheese and other cave goodies. They even had fudge!


I would highly recommend a trip to Wookey Hole - especially if you have kids as it is a great family day out. I would love to go back for all their Halloween events to experience the spooky factor cranked up to capacity.

Have you ever been to Wookey Hole? Where is your favourite spooky location in the UK?
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