Monday, 25 February 2019

Wagamama Blogger Event: An Evening Of Mindfulness (And Noodles)

Disclaimer: the meal was complimentary

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely people at Wagamama in Princesshay, Exeter invited me and a few other bloggers along for an evening of mindfulness - and a massive amount of food - to celebrate their latest charity partnership with Mind.

Mind are the leading mental health charity in the UK and they campaign to improve services, raise awareness around mental health, and promote understanding. As 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in our lives, their work is hugely important. And that is what makes this partnership so awesome - you can enjoy your steamed buns and wash it down with some delicious juice all whilst helping an amazing charity grow and reach more people that need them.

In 2019, Wagamama intend to help fund an additional 8000 infoline calls by donating 25p from every sale of their Super Green and Power juices. That is 8000 more people being helped by this partnership and, hopefully, 8000 people whose lives will be turned around by the work of Mind and the people who work for them.

Now on to the second most important thing - food chat! I had never actually been to Wagamama before but I knew that people are crazy for their katsu chicken curry. I didn't know much else about the food they served there though but, I can safely say, I do now. We were stuffed to the point of explosion with starters, sides, mains, deserts, and drinks of all varieties. Let's just say that I had a good taste of everything they serve. And my fave were their steamed buns - omg they were so doughy and soft with gorgeous brisket inside - and also their brisket ramen is amazing (and oh so instagrammable). Also their dessert menu has most of the classic desserts on their but with a bit of a twist. I went for the coffee ice cream that came with chocolate sauce and toasted sesame seeds on top. Absolutely divine!

They have also introduced to their restaurants little colouring sheets and pots of pencils to their tables to encourage people to put down their phones and occupy their minds in a bit of good, old fashioned colouring. Now I haven't done colouring in since I was at primary but it was a bit of a revelation to just completely switch off and focus on something like that. And I think it will do the world of good in our crazily fast-paced world to just remember to slow down for a minute and relax.

I am deffo late to the Wagamama fan group but, oh man, do I love that place.

You can read more about Wagamama and their partnership with Mind by clicking here


Thursday, 21 February 2019

Why It's OK To Have An Unproductive Day

I am a doer. I love doing stuff. Having a full schedule is something that fills me with joy and I pretty much always have a new idea or new project that has sprung up out of nowhere and taken over my whole life. I wasn't always like this though - ask my uni housemates who can vouch for the fact that they very rarely saw me unless I was skulking out of my room to answer the door to a takeaway delivery person because I spent so much time sleeping/watching reruns of trashy TV. But, over the last few years, I have caught the motivation bug in a big way. And that comes with a whole new world of guilt - and not the kind of guilt that you feel when you miss 3 days worth of lectures then get a message from a distant relative saying how proud they are of you. I am talking about the unproductive days guilt. The 6pm 'ah I wish I had gotten those pictures taken earlier rather than sitting around eating cake' kinda guilt. The guilt you get when you have only ticked off three things from your extensive two page to-do-list and now all you want is to go to bed. 

But I have recently come to terms with the fact that having the occasional unproductive day is totally ok - healthy, even. Sometimes when your brain just can't think of another blog idea or Instagram caption or exciting new concept for a blog series, it is because it is exhausted and is trying to tell you that it needs a break. And you probably need a break too. 

Our society always wants us to be on. We have to always be chasing the next big thing or working on something new and exciting. We often feel defined by what we are achieving so it is easy to get caught up in overworking ourselves and justifying it by calling it hustling. And, when we compare where we are with someone who is where we want to be, we allow that comparison to fuel our desire to work and work until we burn out. But it is only now that I have learnt that hustling is not the same as overworking. Hustling is knowing where you want to be, focusing on it, and working to achieve your goals. It is not forcing your brain to work harder than it can. And it is certainly not beating yourself up for having a day off to just relax and enjoy yourself - and enjoy the company of the people in your life. 

So, here I am, telling you to have a day off. Go to the Chinese buffet and eat as many prawn toasts are you can manage. Laugh with the people you love. And don't think about work. Your to-do-list will still be there tomorrow and your dreams will still be achievable even if you sign off from hustling for a day. 

Your future is as bright as the sun was in these pictures.

Outfit (*affiliate links):
Jacket: Primark (similar)
Trousers: Primark (similar)
Scarf: Primark (similar)
Bag: Primark (similar)
Shoes: Primark (similar)
Top: Topshop (similar)

Monday, 18 February 2019

Curly Girl Tries: Hello Curls Define & Reshape Curl Primer*

*product was gifted but all opinions are my own

When it comes to haircare, I feel like I have been winging it my whole life. As a teen, I would use whatever shampoo and conditioner my mum bought (usually Loreal) and then brush it a lot. I would occasionally spritz the ends with a little detangler when it was feeling dry (aka always) and let's not go into my straightening phase. It may have already become apparent to you but, yeah, I had no idea how to deal with curly hair and I was doing everything wrong. It was only when YouTube came around that I came across curly hair routine videos and actually got some idea of what I was supposed to be doing. I threw my paddle brush in the bin and invested in some different oils to try on my crispy ends.

Since then, I have experimented with all types of products. I have dabbled in the more specialist side of curly hair products but I found that most of those products are too heavy for my hair and just weight my curls down. I have also tried more mainstream products that people say are great for curly hair like Aussie but I found most of those a bit lacking in the moisture department. Basically, my hair is a whole drama queen.

So, when Noughty Haircare got in touch about their new curly hair product, I was excited to give it a go. I had previously tried their range for wavy hair and liked the formula but didn't find that it defined my curls quite as much as I would have liked so I wanted to see how this product would work as it is more catered to my hair type than the wavy range.

I have used this a few times over the last few weeks and I can safely say that it is a great product - especially for £8.99. It is vegan, cruelty free, and 97% natural which I love but also it does help define my curls. I would say that, as this is more of a water based kinda spray, it is great to rejuvenate your curls between washes and stop them from getting dry or from falling out. It has a gorgeous scent so I love that about it too but I would say that it probably isn't moisturising enough for me to use directly post-wash unless it was in conjunction with my usual oils and mousses.

Overall, this product would get an 8/10 from me because it does give my curls more volume and bounce between washes but it isn't enough of an all-rounder that I could retire all my other products and only use this one. It does enhance my current routine though and it makes my hair look better than it was looking before so I will definitely keep this product in my rotation and possibly repurchase it in the future too. And, I have to add, it is awesome to see more vegan-friendly product become available to us curly girls.

Shop other Noughty products here (affiliate link)

Friday, 15 February 2019

Berlin On A Budget: My Tips And Tricks*

I am going to let you guys in on a little secret. It is a bit cheeky and you have to promise not to tell my husband, ok? Here goes: I had a holiday romance and I think I may be in love...with Berlin! Gotcha! 

Yes, we went back to Berlin once again for another trip but, this time, we were on a slightly tighter budget than last time. But I think we made it work? We had such an amazing time and returning to Berlin outside of Christmastime let me see more of the city itself and experience what it has to offer year-round. And it was just so much more relaxed this time as we had covered most of the tourist stuff on our last trip so this one was just dedicated to doing what we want, wandering around, and eating as much doner kebab as we could fit into our bellies. 

This time, I felt like we budgeted a lot better and, as it was our second time in Berlin, we knew what was worth paying to see and what we would rather save our money on. 

(*gifted ad) When I was planning this trip, I contacted the Berlin tourist board about the possibility of a collaboration and they kindly replied saying they would gift me one of their Berlin Welcome Cards for the duration of my trip. The card I was gifted costed $34 (£26) and covered my transport in central Berlin (zones ABC) and Tegel Airport. It also gave me up to 50% off on selected activities, restaurants, and experiences. I used mine to get 25% off on my admission to Berlin Zoo. Having this booked in advance was such a lifesaver and, for the same cost as a transport card for these days anyway, it is worth looking into - especially if you intend to visit all the museums and attractions. Without having to pay hardly anything more than you would for just the transport ticket, you get all these reductions and, here's the best bit, it covers up to three kids as well. So, you are already saving money on the transport alone. If I visit Berlin again, I would buy one of these myself - especially as it makes it so easy knowing your transport is fully covered for your trip and that there are no surprise charges.

Choose a hotel with breakfast included
Last time, we chose a hotel that didn't include breakfast but ended up spending so much more money on snacks throughout the day as we were hungry. This time, we chose to stay at the Hampton by Hilton in Alexanderplatz that cost $220 (£190) for three nights and included a buffet breakfast. After filling up a lot at breakfast, we didn't end up buying so many snacks throughout the day and it gave us a chance to fill up Ava's bottles with milk, juice, and pick her up a yoghurt to eat later on. Chances are, if you make the most of breakfast, you might not even need to have much for lunch then it will only really be your evening meal that you have to fork out for (see what I did there). To find the best hotel, I find that using Trivago works best as it has a filter to only show hotels that include breakfast then sort them by 'recommended and price' to find a cheaper but still nice hotel.

Make use of public transport
The public transport system in Berlin is great - and runs almost 24 hours per day. There is an underground (U-Bahn), overground (S-Bahn), trams, and buses that all run really frequently. I would go as far as saying it is quite like the London transport system (apart from its less crowded and the lifts actually work at the stations). So, I would say that, if you want to save money but still explore the city, opt for public transport. You can get travel tickets for a day or a 3 day one for $34 across Zone ABC. It may be slightly more difficult to navigate at first but it is cheaper than those tour buses that set us back about $26 each for two days last time.

Pack and wear your thermals
This may sound like a bit of a weird one but pack your damn thermals. Germany is cold - and I thought I knew cold after living in the UK but I was wrong. And, when you are cold, you end up going into coffee shops every five minutes just to warm up. Or buying a hot drink to walk with. Or buying a scarf because you have basically turned into a walking ice pole (guilty). Strange as it may sound, little expenses add up and being cold makes you buy unnecessary things. So, for the love of God, wear enough clothes (I only wish I could go back in time and tell myself this when I packed mostly shirts and midi skirts for this trip).

Choose a hotel close to the things you want to see
On our first trip, we chose to stay in a lovely Movenpick hotel on Potsdamerplatz which was ten minutes walk from just about everything we wanted to see. This time, we knew we would be travelling around a bit more as we wanted to explore more than just the tourist attractions so we went for Alexanderplatz as it is such a central location - and that meant it had great transport links too. Doing a bit of research of where the things you want to see are and also how accessible different hotels are in terms of frequency of trains and buses and how far the hotel is from a train station saves on forking out extra money on travel once you get to your destination - and means you get to spend more time enjoying Berlin rather than walking down the street screaming bloody murder at Google Maps as it takes you walking in a loop for an hour when you just want to find the station (can you tell I am speaking from experience?).

Don't impulse buy souvenirs 
On our first trip, I panic bought a fair few bits and pieces that I didn't really want nor really need. Ofc I am not saying you shouldn't treat yourself to something but I am saying don't let that last day panic buying take control of you or your wallet. Buy stuff you actually like. For me, I like buying snacks and postcards and maybe a cute item of clothing or some makeup from a German brand. Don't deny yourself the little things you want to take back with you but maybe think a little before you buy it because you can't get a refund when you are a two hour's flight away.

Consider a stop-over
On our return flight with KLM, we had an hour stop-over in Amsterdam but I extended the stop-over to five hours free of charge when booking so we could have a few hours to explore the city. And it was such a great decision. Sure, you have to go back through security and everything but it gives you at least 2.5 hours of free time to explore a new place - totally for free! If you want to see more of Europe when going to Berlin, consider doing this (but be sure you have the correct visa to be able to leave the airport - Schengen will cover most of Europe).

Give street food a go
My final tip is to give street food a try as it is often much cheaper than having a sit down meal and, in my opinion, isn't half bad either. Last time, I did a whole post on my fave places to eat in Berlin but, this time, we definitely ate a lot more doner kebabs (they're big in Germany) and I am definitely not complaining. We also had things from an Indian food stall in a shopping centre and some currywurst and chips outside a train station. Although we did spend a little more trying the cheeseburgers from Burgermeister (absolutely insane!) and a sit down meal in Hofbrau on Alexanderplatz which was a traditional German experience and my introduction to what I intend to make a lifelong relationship with Mezzo Mix (AKA coke mixed with Fanta).

Have you ever visited Berlin?

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Why Mum Style Is Important To Me

A month after I gave birth to Ava, I went for a hair cut. I had been wearing it up for months - day and night - and I only really took it down to wash it. It was an inconvenience to me. It kept getting in the way when I was struggling with an underweight newborn who didn't want to breastfeed and washing and styling it took up a lot of precious spare time. I decided to get almost all of it cut off because a huge knot had formed at the back due to my slap-dash approach to haircare. At that time, I very rarely wore any makeup and I was still wearing maternity jeans and a jumper that my bump had stretched out. My style was practical and functional - but it wasn't me.

Around Christmastime, I remember going shopping for new clothes. I wasn't happy about having to buy clothes that were 5 sizes larger than my pre-pregnancy size but I felt a little better about myself - a little more like me - when I put on something that felt a bit more put together. As superficial as it seems, putting on a little bit of foundation and taking ten minutes to do nothing other than look in the mirror and style my hair or pluck my eyebrows made me feel good.

The thing is, as mums, we are almost always looking after someone else. Whether we are mums to newborns who are fully reliant on us for literally everything or older kids who need their packed lunches made and PE kits washed, there is always another job to do. Taking time out to focus on ourselves can feel a little selfish but, for me, it was so necessary.

That is why I set up the Instagram page Mum Style Files. When I see a mum who has taken time to put together a look and feels so good about themselves that she shares it online, I want to share that. I want everyone to celebrate with her - tell her how great she looks. As mums, we can be so hard on ourselves and, more upsettingly, on each other. But we should be encouraging each other. Supporting each other. Telling each other how incredible they are and how they are doing an amazing job. Becoming a mum is a massive change and we often act like we are coping much better than we actually are. We carry on because it is sink or swim but sometimes we want to know we have people by our sides that believe in us. And even if that is just by paying someone a small compliment when they make an effort, that is definitely better than nothing. 

What's the biggest compliment you have received since becoming a mum?

Outfit (affiliate links):
Sweater: Primark (similar)
Jeans: New Look (similar)
Shoes: Primark (similar)

Friday, 1 February 2019

How I Am Learning To Love The Clothes I Already Own

The clothes I buy have a pretty short life span. They start their lives hanging on a rail in Primark, have a few outings to fashion hot spots like the local soft play and Tesco, and then they retire to the back of wardrobe for a good 6-12 months before being shipped off to the charity shop. During that 6-12 month period, a whole lot of new clothes are inevitably purchased and endure the same fate. And I always thought that was ok. I mean, they end up in the charity shop, right? But it is only since light has been shone on the atrocities of fast fashion and the environmental impact of Western textile consumption (and the difficulty of actually recycling said textiles) that I paused for a minute and started to think of the impact of my actions. And it made me feel kinda shit.

There is no denying that I love buying clothes - I love the thrill of wearing something new - but that joy is so fleeting and I soon fall out of love with 90% of the things I buy. So, I have recently started being a bit more aware of my fashion choices and have tried to start making a few small changes where I can.

Build a versatile wardrobe
It was at uni that I was in the height of my spending. More money was coming into my account than ever before and, as it was my first time living in a city, I was able to access more shops than probably the whole of Devon could have ever offered me. But another big problem was that I wasn't being thoughtful in my purchases. I just bought whatever caught my eye - even if it went with absolutely nothing I owned. I had no basics or a main colour palette to work with so my wardrobe was complete chaos. So, that was the first thing I need I had to change if I wanted to shop less and rewear items I already owned time and again. I invested in more basics like plain roll necks in a few different colours and started to plan out what colours I wanted to be dominant in my wardrobe. At the moment, I would say that pinks, whites, and warm noted neutrals are king and they also work so well with pops of colour which means that I can invest in that slightly more out there piece without having to worry if it will go with anything I own.

Get inspired
When I buy something new, I usually have about two or three potential outfits in mind that would work with the item. One of those outfits usually makes it way into my weekly outfit rotation and, soon enough, I start getting bored. And then I start browsing ASOS. So, what I have started doing lately is scrolling through fashion hashtags to see how people are styling certain items. I love following instagrammers whose style is way more daring than mine as I get some of that second hand confidence and it has me looking at my wardrobe in a whole new light and coupling items I never would have thought to before. I only ever intended to pair this oversized pink shirt with jeans but now I am seeing so much more potential - tied up over dresses, open over tshirts, even underneath a fitted strappy dress. And I am having so much more fun playing around with what I already own.

Browse charity shops and online second hand shops
Yesterday, I was approached by a brand to work on a Valentines Day themed post and my mind naturally gravitated towards V-Day themed outfits. Before long, I was scouring through ASOS to find some heart shaped sunglasses. Then, as if an animated lightbulb illuminated above my head, I jumped ship and loaded up Depop - and found the most beautiful sunnies ever! And for much less than on ASOS.

Remember how that item once made you feel
We've all heard of Marie Kondo's 'spark joy' card but I want to raise you a 'remember joy' card. The feeling of joy that I get from items fades so fast but I have recently been trying to combat that by remembering why I loved a piece so much that I brought it home with me. Consumer culture wants us to constantly move onto the next big thing and constantly be chasing trends - and we need to try to fight against this a bit. I love looking at the clothes I have and remembering how I felt the first time I wore it out. And the memories I have made wearing that piece. And just how damn hot I felt in it. If I still can't summon any connection with the item, it is off to the charity shop/lucky ebay bidder.

I still have a long way to go with trying to make my wardrobe more ethical but I think that being aware of the impact of your choices really is the first step in the journey.

The links below are affiliate links

Outfit 1:
Shirt: Primark (similar)
Jeans: New Look (similar)
Scarf: Primark (similar)

Outfit 2:
Shirt: Primark (similar)
Dress: ASOS (similar)
[GIFTED] Necklace: Voice International (here)

Outfit 3:
Shirt: Primark (similar)
Blazer: Primark (similar)
Jeans: New Look (similar)

Friday, 25 January 2019

Can You Make It As A Blogger If You Suck At Instagram?

At the start of the year, I told myself that this would be my year. Despite my sudden dissipation of all ability to write literally anything (and consequential existential crisis), I set myself the task of noting down a few goals. Blogging goals. And one big one was to focus more on Instagram. And, let me tell you, in the two weeks that I have been focusing on Instagram, I have probably had more meltdowns than in my previous 22 years of life.

Almost everyday over the past two weeks, my husband got in from work faced with me looking rather bedraggled brandishing a phone filled with at least 8 edits of the same photo which I then go on to show him and explain each edit in finite detail before he even had the chance to take off his shoes. In these two weeks, Instagram has slowly become my world. Whether it is going out shooting pics with my tripod, editing said pics using multiple presets and filters to try to discover my theme (God help us, don't get me started on the damn themes), or painstakingly analysing insights to try to crack the insta code, I have been living and breathing Insta-nonsense for a solid two weeks.

And what I have discovered? I suck at Instagram. I really do. My mind doesn't work in a way where I can envision how to put components of a shot together to make it look incredible and effortless. My caption skills are hugely subpar. And I am just kinda fed up of trying to curate a feed that shows this perfect life where I wear skirts that flutter in the wind and I eat stacks of pancakes for every meal and I basically live in a hipster café in Shoreditch drinking pink coffee with rose petals sprinkled on it for literally no reason. Instagram is exhausting. Pretending is exhausting. And trying to grow your Instagram account is so exhausting is should be considered an Olympic sport.

Don't get me wrong, I love Instagram. I love the people that I follow there and insta-stories that make me snort with laughter when I'm on public transport and seeing people feel so good about themselves that they share their selfies and outfit shots online because they know they look cute. I love all that. But since I have started to focus on growing my account, it has all felt so much more convoluted. So much less like fun and so much more like trying to pretend I am always having fun.

And I do love creating content. I love shooting pics and I even enjoy editing but doing that for Instagram is a different story. In the last two weeks, I have gained followers faster than ever before. I went from being stuck at 1400 for literally months to speeding up to almost 1700. On average, I have gained about 15 new followers from each post (don't run the maths pls, I'm just an English grad) but you want to know the funny thing? Instagram is showing my content to literally no one. I went from gaining no new followers and averaging 180 likes per post to gaining followers but only getting like 80 likes per post. So it totally looks like I am just buying followers like some sneaky insta-snake.

There is just no formula to winning with Instagram. You can put in the effort and Instagram cuts your engagement by about 4x or you can chill and slowly lose all your followers.

And I know I am probably overthinking this but Instagram has become so entwined with blogging and it feels like our success as influencers is merely based on how quickly we are able to grow our account before the bubble bursts and everyone moves onto the hot new thing. And, yes, social media is meant to be fun but when your career goals are so connected with the rise or fall of that follower number, it kinda starts to mess with your head.

Instagram is great. No, really. There is so much scope for creative freedom and opportunities to build friendships with likeminded people (and look at pics of cute cats) but until our value as bloggers stops being pretty much defined by our follower count, we are all kinda stuck dancing to the algorithm's tune.

So, if you have made it this far, maybe go give me a follow over there. Help a girl out.

Jumper: Primark
Skirt: Primark
Shoes: New Look 
Jacket: Topshop 
Belt: ASOS 

Monday, 14 January 2019

Taking Ownership Of Your Online Space

As the new year rolled around, I started mentally preparing myself for January. Because January is a lot. It is a month of newness - a fresh start to set goals and reflect on what has passed over the last year. But it is also the month that diet culture really goes full force and, unfortunately, it is the month that leaves me feeling a bit rubbish about myself and my body. So, I was preparing myself for an influx of salad pics on Instagram and quotes on Twitter about how 'summer bodies are made in winter' and what actually happened shocked me. I didn't see one mention of dieting. There were no lettuce leaves in sight as I scrolled through Insta (only Body Posi Panda dancing around like the absolute babe that she is) and Twitter was much more concerned with Chrissy Teigen getting walloped in the face with a brolly to even notice that a new year had rolled in. 

Then I started to wonder what was going on. Had diet culture finally died? Had detox teas been banned? Had we all finally got to the stage where the size of our bodies isn't that big a deal anymore? Perhaps - I still haven't seen any January diet posts online - but the more likely explanation is that I have been having a bit of a detox of my own.

Instead of wasting money on repackaged laxative powders and horrible green juice, I have spent the past year or so detoxing my social media platforms. I unfollowed, muted, and blocked to my heart's content in order to remove any negative energy from my online spheres. Anyone who made me feel in the least bit bad about my body was automatically gone. Even people who I constantly seemed to compare myself with were removed. Any account that didn't help me on my journey to being ok with just being me had to go. I replaced fitness gurus and clean-eating influencers with body positive role models - and I am finally feeling the benefits of that.

The thing is, by following someone on social media, we are almost inviting them into our headspace. Their content is what we see whenever we log onto our favourite sites and, much like if someone was a guest in your home, you need to feel comfortable with them. If their content upsets you or makes you feel like you're not good enough then you have every right to ask them to leave. You own that space. You wouldn't let a dinner guest make you feel bad about yourself and then invite them back to do it again every day so why should it be any different online.

Taking ownership of my social media sites was probably one of the best things that I did in 2018. And I would advise everyone else to do the same. 

Jumper: Primark (similar)
Body: Miss Selfridge (similar)
Jacket: Topshop (similar)
Trousers: H&M (similar
Necklace: Voice International (here)*

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Shooting With A Tripod: My Top Tips

Since this blog was born back in 2013, I have used many methods to take my outfit pictures. Everything from mirror selfies to getting my dad to shoot my pics in the garden back in 2015 (you can actually see them here lol) and, more recently, coercing my husband into using all his free time taking a whole lot of photos of yours truly. Well, that is until he got busy with work and I worked out how to extend the legs on my tripod that I had owned for about a year at that point (I'm not much of a logical thinker ok). Since then, I have been taking Ava out in the pushchair with the tripod and camera stuffed underneath and shooting my shots wherever I can - sometimes even in the rain because I am one dedicated woman (who may have a slight Instagram addiction). Ava just sits there laughing at me as I twirl around in front of the camera then self-consciously pretend to scroll through my phone as people walk past but, I have to say, I have kinda got the hang of this whole tripod thing and can usually get a few good shots in under ten minutes. So, I thought I would share a few pointers.

Remember why you are doing it 
Something I have been hearing a lot lately is people talking about their 'why' and about keeping it at the front of your mind and I think that is kinda true of shooting with a tripod too - you have to remember why you're there and what you want to achieve. Personally, I am mega shy and awkward so anything where I could make myself look silly in public is a no-go area but shooting by yourself can kinda set you up for this. You almost have to embrace that you look a bit weird and just remember the reason you're doing it. Be it to improve your blog or delve into fashion more, build a model portfolio, or just get some pics for the gram - just keep it in your mind because it is so easy to let one odd look off a stranger knock your confidence and make you pack up and head home.

Know your location
Researching the location you want to shoot at is fairly important as you will probably be there alone so you need to know the place you're at and if there are any rules or restrictions in terms of photography and filming. I know places like government buildings or royal buildings sometimes have restrictions so be sure to check before you head out to shoot. And, if you are shooting in a residential area, be a bit wary of the fact that some people don't like you taking pictures outside their house/sat on their doorstep. Also knowing whether a place has a lot of people passing by and which times are more quiet can help you not get interrupted too much - and not have too many people to edit out of the background later on.

Have fun with it
Over the last four or five months that I have been shooting with a tripod, I have built up way more confidence than I thought possible. And I do enjoy taking pictures this way. I love that I have absolute creative direction over the shots and that gives me so much more opportunity to try new things. I have recently been experimenting with movement and it is still totally a work in progress but I love being able to explore new things and retake a shot twenty times over if I choose to.

Have an excuse
One tip I came across online when I first started was that you should tell people that you are doing a photography course and that really helped me to overcome my nerves. The fact that I had something to say that I felt was really legit if anyone asked me what I was doing gave me a bit of confidence. And no one ever questioned it.

Experiment with different angles
Shooting with a tripod is totally different to having your photo taken by someone else because the tripod can't move around and find the right angle for you - you have to do all the hard work yourself. But it also means you can experiment too. Instead of just taking head-on shots, try shots from above and below. Try out different things and keeping looking at the pictures as you take them. See what is working well and what you can do differently.

Have you ever tried shooting with a tripod?

Skirt: Topshop (here)
Jumper: Primark (similar)
Necklace: Voice International (here)*
Coat: New Look (similar)

Monday, 7 January 2019

Everything We Ate In Berlin

Yknow how most people draw up travel itineraries for a trip? Well, I do that but for food. I love searching the location feature on Instagram for the best snacks, prettiest restaurants, and most unusual local delicacies and then casually dropping them into conversation when my husband asks where we should eat like I haven't already planned my exact order in my head.

For Berlin, I only had a couple of things in mind. I knew I wanted to get a vegan donut of dreams from Brammibal's Donuts and I was also interested to try kartoffelpuffer after years of making it myself at home. Things like German sausages and pretzels were also pretty up there - oh, and I really had my heart set on getting a hot chocolate from a market in one of those mugs you can pay to keep.

Although I have done a little section on what to eat in Berlin in my travel guide, I decided I would do an entire post dedicated to all the delicious goodies we feasted on whilst away.

Brammibal's Donuts
So, I want to start with potentially one of the best things I ate in Germany - this donut. It is vegan, it is has hibiscus flavoured icing, it is huge, and the donut itself was so doughy and lush. They do so many different varieties of donuts and they change seasonally too. I kinda wish I had tried a few more flavours and at about 2-3 euros, you really can afford to.

Doner kebab
When you think of Germany, you probably think of sausages. Or sauerkraut. Or sauerkraut over sausages. But the real favourite food of the German seems to actual be the good, old doner kebab. I mean, I am already pretty partial to a kebab (even when I am stone cold sober) so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. But it was just a kebab. A pitta bread filled with long shreds of meat and salad and covered in whichever sauce you choose (aka garlic mayo unless you are actually mad). It was no different to the kebabs we have here - was still nice tho.

The currywurst and chips mountain
At the Potsdamer Platz Christmas market near our hotel, they had a stall selling these fried bread nests and you could fill them up with whatever you wanted. They had wedges, chips, or these fried potato slices and a choice of toppings ranging from pork casserole to garlic mushrooms. For 8 euros, we decided to share one and Isaac was pretty persistent about wanting currywurst (slices of sausage in a tomato sauce) as his topping. So, we had that. And it wasn't half bad. Granted, I am not a huge currywurst fan but I liked the fried potato slices.

Pretzels and other famous faces from the bread family
One thing that Germans do well is baking. Especially savoury baking. I loved the giant pretzel that I bought from the market that was seasoned with salt and pepper and tasted like a really crusty bit of tiger bread (yknow the French bread one). We also got some other bread that was similar to this at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) at one of the bakery kiosks. I can't say I know the name of it now - or even at the time - but it was lush and had that same salt and pepper flavour.

These were little donut balls which were sold at almost all of the markets and were so nice (and so moreish that I almost ate the entire cone of them before Isaac even got a look in). They are coated with icing sugar and have an almost frangipane taste. Deffo the best snack.

Meatballs at Stadtklause
I wrote about this restaurant in my travel guide but it felt right to mention it here too (since it is food and this is about, yknow, food). So, one of the evenings we were there, we wanted to try out a restaurant and Isaac was adamant that it should be German cuisine - despite my hankering for a biryani. So, we asked one of the lovely ladies at the hotel reception and they directed us to this little German restaurant about five minutes walk from the hotel. It was a really traditional tavern/pub kinda place run by people who didn't speak a huge amount of English (and also couldn't seem to comprehend any of my admittedly rusty German either - awks) but it was an authentic German experience. I ordered some meatballs with bread, pickled gherkin, sauerkraut, and mustard and Isaac had the pork schnitzel. It was an interesting meal and oh so German. I loved the bread they gave me and gherkins are my fave. But I am not a huge meat eater so one meatball was more than enough for me. Isaac loved it though!

Just a whole lot of sausage
This may not seem like enough food to fill 4 days - and you're right. Most of our other meals were sausage in various forms. Currywurst, Krakauer, Bratwurst - basically all of the sausages. But when in Rome!


Do you love trying local food when visiting a new country? Or are you someone who knows what they like?

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

New Year, Same Me

A few days ago, I had a bit of a revelation. This is the first year since I was a pre-teen that my new years resolution isn't just a goal weight. In fact, my appearance hasn't even made the list (and it is a pretty long list). And realising that fact just felt so liberating. I guess, I always saw a new year as a chance to reinvent myself. Whether it was back in the days of sitting in my almost entirely Bang On The Door themed bedroom noting down tips and tricks from the Angus, Thongs etc etc series on snogging, boys, and push up bras to scrolling through Instagram as a uni student thinking how I can change up my work out routine to get a bigger butt or firmer thighs or get rid of that one last roll at the bottom of my belly that just won't budge, self-reinvention has dominated every new year's resolution I ever made. And the truth is, none of my resolutions really changed me much. I still have rolls on my belly (a few more post-Christmas than I would care to admit tbh) and I never did get any of secondary school crushes to go out with me (not from lack of trying, I will tell you that much). 

This year, I am not trying to change myself. Instead I wrote out a list of things I would love to do rather than a list of things I would love to be. And I am pretty excited about them. 

So much so that I want to share a few of them here. Mostly so I can look back in a year and see how many I actually managed to achieve. 

Travel to a new country
In 2018, we travelled to Edinburgh, the Lake District, Cardiff, London, and Berlin but, in 2019, I want to do more international travel. I would love to explore more of Europe - especially places like Krakow, Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam, and more of Germany too. Maybe even New York! Here's hoping we win the lottery, eh?

Invest more time into my blog
Over the last six or so months, I have really gotten back into blogging. I have started to enjoy the whole process again - everything from brainstorming post ideas, writing posts, going out with my tripod and shooting pics, and just engaging with all you lovely people who read and comment on my blog and social media sites. I have even started to enjoy the emails too! This year, I want to have more fun with my content and take more risks. And buy a lot more outfits to shoot.

Have more adventures with Ava
As Ava has gotten older, I have loved being able to do more stuff with her. Don't get me wrong, I loved having a newborn but a little toddler is just more fun (although she runs me ragged). In 2018, we did a few fun things together like going to the Britax Roemer blogger breakfast in the summer and going camping with my parents and I am excited to do even more in 2019. I already have the aquarium on the cards and a whole lot of soft play too. Maybe even weekly swimming??

Try to live a more environmentally-friendly life
Since getting my anaemia diagnosis, I have kinda been using it as a get out of jail free card for all the meat and dairy products I could ever wish to consume. But not anymore. In 2019, I want to try to run a more environmentally friendly home and that means eating a little less meat, using a little less plastic, and just being a little more aware of how my actions affect the planet. Goodbye, pigs in blankets, you may be my last.

Have more fun with fashion
Way back in September, I wrote a post about how I wanted to take more fashion risks and, over the last few months, I feel like I have kinda achieved that. I am wearing more of what I want and less 'safe' options and I am just enjoying clothes more. In 2019, I want to carry that on and continue to have fun with fashion. I am already looking forward to spring and having a bit of fun with dresses and skirts.

Get back into baking
Back in the early days of married life, I used to bake all the time. I would make bread each week and scones and biscuits almost everyday but, since Ava came along, I have slowly stopped bothering and I let Mr Kipling take the reins for a bit. But, this year, I want to get back at it. I have a book of Jewish bakes that I want to try and I am pretty excited about it all tbh (and excited to eat it all too).

Start thinking about my career
As you guys may know, I got pregnant just before I graduated uni. I did manage to get my degree (BA (Hons) English Lit don'tcha know) but then I couldn't really use it as offices seemed weirdly adverse to hiring the lady who is definitely 6 months pregnant wobbling up for an interview in heels. Can't think why? Lol. But Ava is one now and I am still at my part-time chippy job and I have that itch to start doing something again. It is a bit of a tricky one since childcare is so expensive but I would love to feel like I were using my degree for something - whether I am working from home or elsewhere for a few hours a week.

What are your goals for 2019?

Jumper: New Look (similar)
Necklace: Voice International (here)*
Trousers: Nasty Gal (similar)
Shoes: New Look (similar)
Coat: New Look (similar)
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