Sunday, 25 February 2018

5 Songs That Changed My Life

Music has a funny way of bringing up old memories. Like how 'The Cha Cha Slide; reminds me of school discos where I'd wear my most sparkly dress, my hair would be sticky with blue hair mascara, and I'd be ecstatic after eating one too many Dib Dabs. Or how Beautiful Girls reminds me of secondary school and warm spring lunch times sitting in a circle on the field with my friends gossiping. Through music, we relive the good and the bad. The awkward teens, the first loves, the wedding dances. Music is a part of all of our lives and expresses something deeper than words ever could.

These are the songs that transport me back to certain places. If my life were a sitcom, these would be the background music.

Ivory Road - King Charles
This is a serious zeitgeist song of my teenage years. I remember going to my first ever gig with my best friend back when we were in sixth form to watch King Charles perform and staring at him dreamily as he sung this song. We had come across his music when one of our friends at a Christian camp kept playing his songs and we soon fell head over heels for this musician. I mean, what 17 year old doesn't love a man that twirls his moustache, has a wild mane of black hair, and a rebellious attitude? This song started my love affair with folk music and more alternative styles than what you find in the Top 40.

A New Day Has Come - Celine Dion
This song takes me back to the early days of my relationship with Isaac. He would always sing it - sometimes when we were laying next to each other he would sing it to me. As we were long distance for most of our relationship up until the past year, I spent a lot of my time listening to this song and thinking of him. It reminds me of the days when I would sit in my room looking at his pictures and dreaming of our future together. It symbolises how much I missed him when we were apart and how whole I felt whenever we were together.

Blessed - Elton John
This song means a lot to me because Isaac used to sing it when I was pregnant and I feel like it really symbolises all the feeling we had as we moved towards becoming a family of three. It encapsulates all the feelings of nervousness we had as first time parents taking on this huge responsibility but also the determination we had to give the child the best of us - to share our love with her and always try to do what's best for her.

A Thousand Years - Piano Guys Cover
This is the song that I walked up the aisle to. This is the last song I listened to as a single woman. It represents so much. It is a song of change and marks the start of a new chapter in my life. My movement from being a single woman to a married one. It always makes me feel a little bit emotional when I hear it as it represents so much. 

Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses 
Growing up, my dad would always play this song. He was a big Guns N' Roses fan. And this was his favourite. I like to think that this is how he felt about me and my siblings. Now that I am a parent myself, I feel like something has shifted. Once my dad was playing this song in the car as we drove along country lanes with everyone squabbling in the back of the car about whose turn it was to choose the next song. Now it is me playing this song as I hold my child in my arms. 

So, now I want to tell you all how you could be in with a chance of winning an opportunity to see your faves perform. It's pretty simple. All you have to do is buy a promotional pack of Bodyform sanitary towels that have this peely sticker on the front from any major supermarket, peel back the sticker, enter the code here, and see if you have won. Bodyform are giving away loads of amazing prizes. From once-in-a-lifetime VIP European music festival tickets to £500,000 worth of music gig vouchers. Just another way they're making your period a little brighter*. 

Jacket - Topshop (here)
Watch - Accurist (similar)
Top - H&M (similar)
Headphones - Typo (here)*

Which musician would you absolutely love to win the opportunity to see perform?

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Mother's Day Gift Guide

This year will be my first year as a mother. And you all know what that means. I will be expecting the full works on Mother's Day. Granted, my daughter will only be 4 months old but that's really no excuse. But this year I also really want to do something special for my mum. Being pregnant, having a very long labour, and having many sleepless nights with a newborn has shown me how much my mum did for me. And it has made me feel so grateful to her. The fact that she never once complained and was so selfless in looking after me makes me feel so proud to call her my mother. And, in all honesty, I will be happy if I am half as good a mum as she has been to me and my siblings. 

Having said all that, I do struggle to convey these sentiments in a gift. In all honesty, it's not really possible but at least you can make your mum feel extra special for one day. My favourite kinda gifts to buy are ones from the heart. Ones that bring up old memories or relate to private jokes - they show how much you listen to them. And chocolate, mums love chocolate. Ooh, or a coffee machine. Mums need coffee. Especially if you have younger siblings that your mum is still running around after. Or something a bit more special. Something like this Clive Christian perfume is a luxury Mother's Day gift that anyone would be delighted to receive. I can speak from experience that just spritzing on a little perfume makes me feel a lot more put together and fabulous than I otherwise would. 

So, these are my top picks of cute things you can find online to give as gifts. 

The best thing about buying gifts online is that you can buy from independent businesses. I feel like this is super important as it means so much to a small business if you support them. And I like to think that my money that is going to them in return for a gift will, in turn, be used for a gift for their mums. I mean, it's a nice thought that your money is going to an actual person rather than a faceless corporation. So, if that's what you're looking for, have a click on the links for 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9. They are all products from small businesses run by very lovely ladies. 

To all my readers who are mothers, I wish you the most amazing day. You are actually heroes and are doing an excellent job. And people celebrating Mother's Day with their mums, I hope she likes her gift and she feels as special as you want her to feel. Have a great day!

What are you buying your mum for Mother's Day?

Monday, 19 February 2018

Adding A Touch Of Class To My Wardrobe

Since I gave birth to Ava, I have got into a rut of wearing the same type of outfit every day. One size 12 pair of Primark jeans that I managed to squeeze my clearly size 14 body into, a funky jumper (lately I am really into my orangey brown glittery one from H&M), and a beat-up pair of burgundy trainers. I mean, it is convenient. Practical. Doesn't take much thought. But it is also becoming mind-numbingly boring. Every time I log into Insta, I see bloggers killing the outfit game. They wear combinations of clothing items that I had never even considered but somehow really work. And it makes me inspired to try to be more daring in what I wear. I want to be one of those bloggers who wear leopard print jeans to Tesco just because. Or are courageous enough to wear blue lipstick just on a normal, every day basis.

So, when Cari's Closet got in touch, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with them. Their site is full of gorgeous dresses in every colour, style, length, and fabric you could imagine. I mean, they have serious princess dresses over there. After a lot of scrolling through their site, I eventually chose this 'Bella Cut Out Gown'*. I loved the colour and the cut out detail on the sides. Also I was interested to try out a maxi dress as I am very much a midi dress kinda girl.

When the dress arrived, I was very impressed. It came in a box. My wedding dress didn't even come in a box. I know, small minds small pleasures. When I opened it up, it was a lot more silky than it looks in the pictures on the website - and I love silky things. I felt like a 1940s film star. The length was a little long for me - which was expected as for my teensy 5"3 self - but I loved the high neckline as I feel like it makes the dress look really sophisticated. A pair of heels soon solved the length problem anyway.

Overall, I would highly recommend Cari's Closet - and not just because they sent me a super cute dress. Their website is well laid out, easy to use, and their dresses are actually gorgeous. If you are looking for bridesmaid dresses, a dress for a big event, or even a well-priced wedding dress, this is a great place to shop.

Here are my other top picks from their website that I am definitely looking for an excuse to buy (invite me to things!! Please!):


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Spread The Love This Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day means different things to different people. For some, it is a time to shower your other half in love. You spend the weeks leading up to it painstakingly organising every detail of that big romantic gesture you have planned. Your house has more flowers in it than a florist shop and there is probably an excessively large cuddly toy sat somewhere in the house that will later relocate to the loft. For some, it is an excuse to crack open the Malibu and get your Beyoncé on with the girls. Others, like myself, simply spend the day in their PJs watching all the soppy films on TV eating chocolates (that we bought ourselves) and generally not making much of an effort. Probably a takeaway pizza will emerge at some point during the course of the evening.

Whichever category you fall into, it has to be said that February is all about one thing - luuurve. Mainly romantic love but I think we should expand this holiday and make it about all types of love. The type of love I want to focus on this year is love for your fellow man. So, I have put together a list of things that you and I could do to celebrate this season and to show a little love to one another.

Donate to a food bank
Being someone who has actually used a food bank before, I can affirm that food banks are so necessary in our society and I feel that they are really testament to the generosity and goodness of the general public. You can usually donate at your local supermarket. Make sure you donate long life foods such as UHT milk - nothing fresh that will go off quickly. Great things to donate, alongside the general pasta and rice, is tinned fruit as often people on low income are unable to get enough fruit and veg into their diets. Also little treats like chocolate are great as these are the things that people on low incomes often have to forgo so it is nice to receive a treat like that.

Put together hygiene kits for homeless women
If you can barely afford to feed yourself, buying sanitary products is often not an option. A great way to spread love in your community this Valentine's is by putting together hygiene kits and donating them to homeless charities to be distributed amongst the women there. The kits could include a variety of sanitary products, wipes, hand sanitiser, tissues, and a few mini toiletries.

Donate to charity shops
People on low incomes often rely on charity shops to buy clothes - both for themselves and their children. Donating to charity shops not only gives these people products to buy but also gives money to the charity itself. Donating things like baby clothes, bibs, blankets, and other baby things after you have finished with them allows other parents to provide their baby with these items which they may have not been able to otherwise.

Donate breastmilk to a milk bank
This is a scheme that I only recently heard about but would have loved to be involved in - if my milk supply had been enough. The donated milk goes mostly to hospitals to help feed premature or ill babies. You just sign up online and they will send you out a starter pack. Every donor is required to have a blood test before donating to ensure that they are free from any disease that could be passed through the milk. You can find out more here.

Sign up to be an organ donor
This is an easy way to do a great amount of good. You might even save a life. If you're in the UK, you can sign up here or talk to your GP.

Offer to babysit
Being a new mum, I can really tell you how much this one means. If someone in your family or a close friend of yours has just had a kid or just hasn't had a break in a while, offer to babysit. It is lovely just to have some time out either with your partner or just by yourself.

Check in on elderly neighbours
Loneliness amongst the elderly is a huge problem in the UK especially those who have mobility issues which stop them from being able to get out of the house as often as they'd like. If you have an elderly neighbour, why not pop over - maybe even under the guise of asking if a parcel has been dropped off there - and introduce yourself. If you already talk with them sometimes, stop over and ask if they need anything from the shop or if they'd like to come over for a cup of tea.

Donate blood
This one may seem a little scary - I never liked having my blood taken but, after giving birth, I have no fear left. Donating blood is another way to make a great deal of difference to someone's life - especially if you fall into a rarer blood group.

How are you spending Valentine's Day? What tips have you got for brightening up someone's day?

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Indulge Beauty Event

Last week I made the trek down to London for an event at Indulge Beauty in Westfield Statford shopping centre. This was a big deal for me as, not only was I travelling into London alone and spending the whole day away from Ava, this was my first ever event. I had been invited to events before but I had always felt too shy to attend them. But I decided that, since this year I am bringing my A game, I had to push myself to go. So, through some sheer miracle, I actually managed to get up, dress in something that wasn't jersey and possibly maternity, put on a full face of makeup, organise Ava (well, instruct my husband to do so anyway), and be out of the house on time to catch the bus to the train station. My mum met me at the station and took Ava home in her pushchair - in all honesty, I felt kinda sad to see her go and, in all honesty, I spent a lot of the day on the phone asking my mum to put the phone to Ava's ears so I could talk to her and hear her cooing away. Once I arrived in London, I realised that I was very hungry so I made a quick pitstop at Soboro Bakery and got a delicious orange cake and a large coffee before jumping onto the tube. After two tubes, and a lot of panicking as I thought we had come off the tracks but actually it was only another tube train passing us, I was finally at Westfield Stratford.

After arriving at Westfield, my next task was to track down the location of the event. This was definitely more difficult than you'd imagine. Westfield Stratford has 4 levels of shops and each level is huge. Also I got tempted into a lot of shops before I made it to the event (two hours after arriving at the shopping centre). It was a blessing that I didn't want to carry lots of shopping bags into the event else I could have easily spent hundreds of pounds on cute sleepsuits for Ava in fancy baby clothing shops and hundreds more on cute clothes for myself - especially in Monki and Missguided. After another pitstop at KFC to pick up a rice box (they are the best), I found the Indulge Beauty shop which was located on the lower ground floor. 

My first impressions of the store were that it is nicely designed and they seemed to have a lot of different products. I was greeted by the friendly members of staff and they explained a bit about the company and their campaign entitled 'What's Your Indulgence?' wherein they focus on everyone's guilty pleasures be it your secret crush on Ed Sheeran or that chocolate stash you have in the bottom of your sock drawer. I was impressed by the concept of the brand in that it aimed to make beauty accessible everyone and they wanted everyone to feel welcome in their store. They told me that they want people of all genders to feel comfortable walking into their shop and I think this is a mindset that more beauty retailers should adopt.

The drinks were flowing and the music was pumping. People were having their hair styled by professionals and getting their makeup done. There were team members walking around telling us about the products they have on offer and they had a lot of knowledge about the products they were selling. They recommended aloe vera gel to me to reduce the redness of my cheeks which is definitely some advice I am going to follow.

At the end of the event, I left with a bag of goodies from some well-known brands and some I had never heard of. I am excited to try these new products and I am giving some away on my Twitter - you can enter by clicking here and simply following me and retweeting.

Have you ever heard of Indulge Beauty?

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Our First Three Months

As I sit here writing this, Never Been Kissed is on the TV and Ava is watching it with me in her bouncy chair. It is strange to think that Ava has only been with us for three months. I can barely remember what life was like before her - or what I did with all my spare time. But it also feels like those weeks have flown by. She has already changed so much in this short amount of time.

In the place of a tiny, sleepy baby, I now have a slightly larger baby that smiles, tries to talk to us, and can even roll over from her front to her back when she is feeling strong. As much as I loved having a newborn, I am excited to see how Ava is developing - especially now that she is trying to communicate. Her personality is really starting to shine through. She's a mischievous little thing but also she is really loving. Around 10pm every evening, she starts watching the front door as if she is waiting for Isaac to get home and whenever she is sat with anyone else, her eyes follow me around the room.

When it comes to sleeping, we're not quite there yet. The last two nights, she has slept through the night in her moses basket but usually she will sleep in her moses basket for half the night then demand to come in the bed with us for the rest of it. Secretly, I am happy to have her in the bed as I enjoy the cuddles. I think I will miss having her in the bed when she gets used to sleeping in her moses basket all night but it also means that we will be able to sleep better as we sleep lighter when she is in the bed as we are both very cautious of her.

Despite the fact that Ava was born at a low birth weight, she has grown really well and is steadily increasing which is all down to the fact that this girl does not stop feeding. We have been combination feeding from the start but her intake has increased so much that my milk supply can barely keep up. Now we are mostly just giving her formula with only a couple of feeds on the breast each day. Although I would have loved to exclusively breastfeed her, it just hasn't really worked out for us for a range of reasons so I have decided that the most important thing is that she gets fed - be it by breast or by bottle.

Overall, the last three months have been crazy. They have been the most incredible and fulfilling months of my life. I have changed in so many ways and I feel like Ava and I have developed such a special bond during this time. Our family of three is now closer than ever and it is perfect. That's not to say that we don't argue and I don't get stressed because we definitely do, but this is my kind of perfect. When I see Isaac holding Ava in his arms as they lie together in the bed, I feel like my whole world is complete.

These three months have been so special and they make me excited for all the adventures that lie ahead.
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