Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Vintage Kilo Sale, Leeds: The Tips | Fashion

You may have seen last week over on Instagram that I was the blogger for the Vintage Kilo Sale in Leeds. It's not my first time to this event so I knew what I was looking for, and how I would go about getting it! The event is always packed because, as the title suggests, you pay by the kilo for the items you buy. One kilo costs a low price of £15, and at this event there were shoes priced at £5. Unfortunately all the shoes in my size were sold out, bummer!

I did pick up a couple of beautiful outfits from the Vintage Kilo Sale, so keep your eyes peeled for an outfit blog post to come shortly. Mostly consisting of pleated skirts and everything in polka dot print, right up my street.

Here are a couple of tips for going to a Vintage Kilo Sale:

1. Pick which time you want to go: From 11-12am the event costs £3 for early bird entry, bearing in mind there is a considerable queue outside so be aware of this in case the weather is pretty dull or raining. From 12noon the event is £1 entry, and is open until 4pm.

2. Make sure you check the rails twice, or three times: I often go back to a rail for another look when it's a little less crowded as you can have a good rummage. It's also often worth checking rails for items that have just been hung back up by people who have changed their mind, you never know what you might find.

3. Try things on: Wear something thin such as a vest top and leggings and you can try things on over the top. At this event there was a little area for changing but you might be waiting a while. There were lots of people trying things on over the clothes they had on, it's quick and easier that way.

4. Make sure you don't put anything down on a rail that you want: Because someone will run off with it, I can guarantee it.

5. Put your clothes in your bag prior to paying: And put the coat hangers in the box. Be a sport people. No one likes looking through a rail of clothes when there are single coat hangers clinging on to clothes for dear life. Also, it's much easier for you to carry everything around in your bag.

6. Be courteous: Don't knock people out of the way please. This is extremely important if you're there on crutches (as I was last time I went to the event). I understand everyone wants to pick up a bargain, but barging people out the way is not the British way.

7. Have fun: And pick up some super bargains on the way!

Usually a kilo consists of around 3-4 items of clothing, depending on your clothes size and the weight of the items you're purchasing. I think £15 for 3-4 items of vintage clothing is an absolute bargain. Plus, if you buy over 10 kilos of clothing, the price goes down to £10 per kilo!

Leeds is done for this year however, have a look on the Judy's Vintage Fair website here for other Vintage Kilo Sales happening around the UK for the rest of the year. I can't wait for them to come back next year!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Fighting summer hay fever and sensitivities with Optrex | Beauty

Summer is finally here (I think?) so what comes with the high pollen count and summer sun? Yes, hay fever. I never used to suffer from hay fever until a couple of years ago, but do have sensitive eyes and sinusitis frequently so end up with dry, itchy eyes most of the time. It's really difficult to find a product that keeps these symptoms from bay except from Optrex, and I was delighted when they asked me to trial and review a couple of their products. 

Now what I remember about Optrex is being terrified as a child when it came to using the eye wash, and I think that's put me off using eye products. The same applies with eye drops, I'm a constant blinker and find it really difficult to drop them in as my eyes close and stay shut! I had to really will myself to using these products as I was a little afraid due to aforementioned problems, and concerned that they might sting a little bit as normally if anything gets into my eye it hurts, a lot. That was until now. 

I received four products from the Optrex range; the Multi Action Eye Wash, ActiMist 2 in 1 Tired and Uncomfortable Eye Spray, Eyedew Sparkling Eye Drops, and my favourite product, the Rehydrating Eye Drops. 

The first product I was eager to try was the ActiMist 2 in 1 tired and uncomfortable eye spray as you just spray this on closed lids, no dropper required! Phew. This is super easy to apply, just close your eye and spray once on each lid. I noticed they worked really quickly, and left my eyes feeling soothed and less itchy. What's even better about this product is that you can apply it over your make up and it won't smudge! 

The Multi Action Eye Wash, as mentioned above, is something I remember from my childhood. You place a little of the solution in the eye cup, pop over your eye and tilt your head back to give your eyes a good clean. This is always a product we have in the house just in case we get anything in our eyes, even though I'm always hesitant about using it. I did, coincidentally, end up with an annoying eyelash stuck in my eye so whipped this little blighter out. Super easy to use, and I don't know why I got myself all freaked out about using it, but I manned up and got on with the job. Quick little rinse out, with no stinging may I add, and my eye was clean and fresh once again. 

The Eyedew Sparkling Eye Drops are a product that I'm not too fussed about. The idea behind this product is that it gives sparkle to dull eyes, and makes them look a little bit brighter. Unfortunately as I wear glasses you can't really see the effect of the product, so I don't think it works well for me. Perhaps for someone without contacts or glasses, it might work brilliantly so don't take my review here as gospel. 

Last but not least, (and little wearily) I tried the rehydrating eye drops after I had a slight allergic reaction to a new make up brand I was trying out. I do suffer from sensitive eyes, and this can be triggered more so by mascara, eye liner and eyeshadow (which is more to the point why I rarely wear the stuff!). I had cleansed all my make up off and popped on my evening skincare routine when I remembered I had the rehydrating eye drops to use up after opening them. They are so easy to drop into your eyes (I have no idea why I was worried now) but a little tip is to look up and tilt your head back and drop them into the corner of your eye, blink a couple of times and you're done. They worked really quickly and left my eyes feeling soothed and rehydrated. This has been my favourite product out of the four, and I will definitely be repurchasing. 

All these products are excellent for those of you who wear glasses like myself, or spend hours looking at a screen (smartphones class as screens too!). We spend so many hours a day glued to our devices that our eyes are bound to have a little wear and tear, and these products are definitely the best to restore them to their best condition. Also, the drops and spray are also really effective and work when wearing contact lenses too. 

Optrex Actimist 2 in 1 Tired and Uncomfortable Eyes* - £12.79
Optrex Rehydrating Eye Drops* - £3.11
Optrex Multi Action Eye Wash* - £5.35
Optrex Eyedew Sparkling Eye Drops* - £3.40
(All prices from the Boots.com website)
This blog post has been written in collaboration with Optrex but all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Friday, 26 June 2015

My morning skincare routine feat. NSPA | Beauty

I've been struggling for years to find the perfect skincare routine. I find an amazing one that I can actually stick to, then I use all the products and find them unavailable to buy in the UK market. Such as happened in this blog post here. For a couple of years I used Clinique face products and found that a pretty good regime however, they really used to dry my skin out so I stopped using them.

That's when I found out about NSPA products and absolutely fell in love. I love how cheap these products are, the fact they are brilliant dupes of higher end and more expensive products, and that they work brilliantly with my skin type. I was first introduced to the Oil-Free Moisture Gel in a beauty blogger swap a couple of years back and have used it on and off since then. I'm completely hooked now and I used this every morning in my skincare routine.

I have oily and dehydrated skin and these products help keep my oil, shine and sebum at bay whilst fully hydrating my skin. I also have incredibly sensitive skin and I am allergic to a lot of products, especially around my eye area, and I can safely say all these products work wonderfully for me.

NSPA Hot Cloth Polish
Normally I liked to exfoliate every morning, but since using the olive oil cleanser from the blog post above I've become hooked on using a cream cleanser. For step one in my cleansing process I use the Hot Cloth Polish and muslin cloth to clean my skin. This works wonderfully and leaves my skin feeling clean and hydrated in the morning. I also use the same cleanser to remove my make up in an evening, and it really works, even on stubborn mascara and eye liner.

NSPA Double Action Youth Serum
I've been using this morning and evening before applying my moisturiser to give me that extra boost of hydration. I have extremely dry under-eyes and this gives me that extra boost, leaving my skin feeling firm and incredibly hydrated before applying the extra hydration with my moisturiser.

NSPA Oil-Free Moisture Gel
A wonderful dupe for Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturiser Gel. This is a nice, thick formulation that sinks in leaving my skin feeling fresh and hydrated without being oily, leaving residue and keeping my oily skin at bay throughout the day.

All these products have been paid for by me and this is in no way a sponsored post. I just love NSPA products. I also love their price tag, and the fact they are quite frequently on offer at 2 for £8 at ASDA. Meaning I can stock up on thee products as frequently as I need to, whilst also trying out other products they have too.

I can safely say that I love this as my morning skincare routine, and I'll definitely keep using these products whilst they are easily available to me. The formulations are incredible dupes, their customer service is fantastic, and overall NSPA are a brilliant beauty company.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Get a taste for Northern Europe with a trip to Sweden | Travel

Holidaying is something many of us look forward to each year. If you’re an experienced traveller, you’ll most likely have a system in place for when you go away. Things like, choosing your destination and packing your essentials will be second-nature to you. But how about a change this time? How about holidaying somewhere you’ve never been before? Step out of your comfort zone and open your mind.
Sweden is a country of outstanding natural beauty and serenity. It’s Northern Europe’s most sparsely populated country. This allows you to enjoy peaceful, picturesque surroundings. If you’ve never visited Sweden before now is the perfect chance to do so. There’s so much on offer for those with wanderlust. Whatever you enjoy doing there’s no doubt Sweden will have something to offer you.
View the Northern Lights
One of the things Sweden is most famous for is the historic Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. This is the name for a breath-taking natural light display visible in the skies of the Northern Hemisphere. There are packages dedicated to enhancing your experience viewing the Aurora Borealis in Sweden. This is an unprecedented, once in a lifetime opportunity you can’t let pass you by. Make sure you go visit the acclaimed Northern Lights as one of the first things you do when you reach Sweden.
Go Ice Fishing
If you’re looking for a practical experience on your holiday, that’s also packed full of culture, then try ice fishing. This is the process of fishing through a hole in the ice, and it’s a very popular pastime in Sweden. This is a very hands-on experience, and it doesn’t necessarily require special equipment. There will no doubt be opportunities for local ice fishing expeditions. So make sure you enquire about this, it’s an important experience to have.
Whale Watching
Of course, no trip to Scandinavia would be complete without a whale watching tour. How often do you get the chance to be up close and personal with these majestic creatures? This is the ultimate way to observe whales in their natural habitat. You’ll have the option to go with group tours, or to choose a more intimate, customised tour. If you want to open your mind and experience all that Sweden has to offer a whale watching tour is an absolute must.

Visit Stockholm
When you’re in Sweden, you’d be remiss if you didn’t make plans to visit Stockholm, the nation’s capital. Sweden is such a diverse country, and Stockholm will provide you with plenty to do away from the icy tundra’s. For instance, you might decide to venture into medieval Stockholm and take in the most ancient part of this wonderful city. Then, of course, you might decide you want to sample some of the local cuisines, before taking a ferry ride to the archipelago.
Whatever your holidaying persuasion, there’s no doubt Sweden has plenty to offer you. You’ll be able to enjoy the delight and culture of a big city like Stockholm. However, you’ll also get to experience some of the great, snowy wide open, with visits to the Northern Lights, etc.  

Saltaire Arts Trail | Lifestyle

At the end of May during the Bank Holiday weekend we headed into Saltaire to meet up with a friend and have a walk around Saltaire Arts Trail. I don't visit Saltaire enough to know what events are going, but apparently this has been running for years and I didn't know! We popped into Saltaire a couple of days before for a visit to Salts Mill which is where we first discovered the event running over the weekend. The Monday was quite a nice (dry!) day so we decided to head over and see what was going on.

Saltaire Arts Trail is what is says on the tin, a trail of art around Saltaire. You actually get to head into people's homes to discover local artists and handmade items. It's such a lovely experience to follow the trail around the beautiful terraced houses in Saltaire, and we had loads of fun. The main highlight for me was being able to walk into people's living rooms and have a sneak peek of their furniture and decor, I'm huge on lifestyle and interiors so this was such a nice experience! Victoria Hall was open to a maker's event and lots of artists had their own stalls selling their artwork. There were so many interesting pieces that I can't put my finger on just one. I did end up taking a lot of photos so this blog post will be image heavy even though I've narrowed them down quite significantly.

A couple of my favourite pieces had to be the printed jars, and the artist let me take a chocolate bourbon biscuit too! The wire birds were so delicate and absolutely stunning, although they were a little pricey (too much for me to buy one!) they would look absolutely stunning on anyone's shelf. Last but not least, are they amazing yet creepy baby-dogs.

So much work went into this event, and it looked to be such a huge success! There were loads of people walking around and visiting houses. I'll definitely be heading over again next year, and will try and make a more conscious effort of visiting every house this time! I did have Dexter with me so it was quite awkward trying to take him in every home with me. As you can imagine, small fingers love to touch everything.

Easy tips and ideas for throwing the best birthday celebration for your friend | Lifestyle

Recently, a close friend of mine told me she was turning thirty but didn’t have any celebrations planned, so I decided to step in. She’s been a fantastic friend to me, and I wanted to do something to show her that. So I decided to organise her a surprise birthday celebration.

In case you fancy doing the same for a friend of yours, I thought I would share my party planning tips with you.

birthday cake 2.jpg

Choose a suitable date
The first thing you need to do is choose a suitable date for the celebration. Ideally, you either want to choose a Friday or Saturday, so that no one has to worry about getting to bed early because of work.

One thing I would say is don’t plan the party for the actual day of their birthday. Your friend may have other ideas about how they want to spend their birthday, so plan the celebration for the weekend before.  

Pick a venue
The venue you choose will depend on how many people are on the guest list, for a smaller party, celebrating at your house could work well. For a larger event, you may need to hire a larger venue, such as a restaurant or hall.

Perhaps you would like to plan your celebration a little further from home, such as at a restaurant in Blackpool or Bristol. If you choose a venue that’s far from where you live, you could always organise hotel rooms so that you could stay there overnight.  

Send out invitations
Once you have set a date and chosen a venue, the next step is to create a guest list and send out the invitations. Although you are organising the celebration, it’s important to make sure that you invite the right people.

Unless it’s a surprise party, there is no reason you can’t get your friend involved in the guest list planning. At least find out whether she wants the party to be for just friends or friends and family, as this will give you an idea of who to invite.

It’s also worthwhile checking with your friend, to make sure that there isn’t anyone she doesn’t want to come along. If it’s a surprise, ask her partner of other friends if they can think of anyone, she wouldn’t want to include.

Organise a cake
It isn’t a celebration without a cake. If you are unsure about the type of cake your friend likes, try to find out. You can either get the topic of her favourite cake subtly into the conversation or you can ask her outright. Either way, it’s important to find out what her favourite cake is so that you can make or order it.

If you are a good cook and have the time to bake a cake, then there is no reason not to make the cake yourself. If you don’t have the time, choose a good bakery and put your cake needs into their hands.

Organising a birthday celebration for a friend is a lovely way to show them that you care. While it can be stressful organising a party or meal, if you are organised with your planning, it doesn’t have to be.

Incredible, cheap ways to enjoy the Summer | Lifestyle

Summer is the best time to get out and about, even if there might be the occasional risk of getting caught in a shower. Even if you're not going on holiday, you can do lots of things in the evenings and at weekends to have fun. Whether you're on your own, with friends or a partner or have the kids with you, you can find things to do. However, it can get expensive if you aren't careful. If you're strapped for cash, you don't have to stay inside and give up on enjoying the summer. You can have a good time on your own, with your friends or with family, and you don't have to end up penniless. Here are some of my tips for having fun without spending too much.

Explore Your Local Area
A lot of people yearn to get away from home in the holidays, but I say there's no need. Many people don't know their local area as well as they think, and you might realise you still have a lot to explore. Maybe there are some tourist attractions you've never visited or some new places to go to in the next town over. Even going for a short walk or drive can help you discover a new pub or cafe, where you can sit outside and enjoy a drink.

(Image credit from James)

Save on Events and Activities
You might think you have to avoid any structure events or activities if you want to save money. But there are lots of things you can do for little money or even for free. If you wish to buy event or attraction tickets, look for ways you can reduce the price. Sometimes all it takes is going on a particular day or as a group. There are also lots of free events or activities you can do, especially if you live in London or in another large city.

Have Fun in the Garden
If you have a garden, it's a great place to have fun alone or to invite all your friends around. Do some gardening or sit with a book and a cold drink if you want some peace and quiet. Or you could hold a garden party or barbecue. To save on food and drinks, get everyone to bring something so that you aren't paying for everything.

Make the Most of the Outdoors
As well as your garden, there's a whole world outside that you can explore. If you're trying to get fit, walking or riding your bike are excellent ways of getting out and having fun. You can go alone, take some friends or make it a family day out.

Share the Costs
Going out with friends is one of the best ways to spend less. You can split the cost of petrol, taxis or other expenses, so none of you are spending too much. If you're with your kids, you could team up with other parents. For example, two mums and two children could get a family ticket in a lot of places.

There are so many ways to have fun in the summer, and you don't need to spend a lot. So get out there and enjoy yourself.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Oat Cookies in a Kilner Jar | Lifestyle

I've been having lots of fun cooking again since being back on the Weight Watchers plan. It's so easy to fall into a rut of eating the same things over and over again, as well as having a couple of takeaways a week. Naughty Michelle.

I've done quite a few recipes this week, but my favourite has to be oat cookies. The recipe I used from the Weight Watchers website makes 16, and they are 3 ProPoints each. Yummy deliciousness and a super low points value too. I prefer to 'spend' my points on sweet treats when I can.

You can easily make this recipe gluten free too, just swap the plain white flour and porridge oats for gluten free versions and hey presto.

For the cookies you will need:
35g sultanas
1/4 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
60ml of vegetable oil
80g light brown sugar
1 medium egg
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
75g plain white flour
140g porridge oats

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 160/150 fan assisted. Place baking parchment on the baking trays, or use a couple of sprays of low calorie spray to prevent the cookies from sticking.

Step 2: Beat the oil and sugar together with a whisk, then add the egg and beat in again.

Step 3: Sift in the flour and ginger, then fold in the porridge oats and sultanas until all combined.

Step 4: Either roll 16 small balls of cookie mixture, or spoon on to the parchment paper; and then bake for 15-18 minutes until brown.

And there you have it! Just leave the cookies to cool on a wire tray (if you can wait that long!) and serve with a lovely cuppa tea. For a variation you could also add nutmeg and cinnamon. I love cookies that taste like Christmas, and it's never too early to celebrate. Ahem.

To store the cookies you can either place the cookies in an air tight box, or in an air tight Kilner Jar like I have. I like to recycle my jam jars, and baby food jars, and you may recall seeing my crafty blog post around Easter up-cycling those too. If you haven't, it's definitely worth checking the post out here. When I've eaten all the cookies I'll more than likely use the Kilner Jar to store my stationery supplies in as I love the shabby chic look. At the moment I'm collecting all the Douwe Egbert's Orla Kiely coffee jars for my desk.

Have you ever thought about up-cycling and re-using your old jam jars, as I say you can check out my post above for inspiration, but why not have a look at the Jam J-art website from Think Money for further ideas?

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Think Money but all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Keeping fit at home | Lifestyle

You may have seen from Instagram that I've joined the gym. Not only have I joined the gym but I've also joined Weight Watchers. My weight isn't an issue for me, and I'm happy in my skin however, my health has deteriorated over the past couple of years with my ME relapse and current spinal and nerve damage I have from a back problem. I've been encouraged to do yoga and strengthening exercises to build up my muscle and core strength again.

I'm lucky that at the moment my health is stable and sufficient enough to enable me to get out of the house and attend the gym, although having a small child and limited childcare does post a problem too. So what can you do about it? Why not workout and keep fit at home?

Sure there are plenty of DVD's out there, but what type of equipment can you have at home? I think plenty of us are guilty of owning an exercise bike or treadmills that make lovely wardrobe space or extra hanging space, but there are plenty of small pieces of exercise equipment you can have. Small pieces of exercise equipment are ideal to just whip out when you have a few extra minutes or your little one is having a nap.

Here are a couple of tips for exercising at home:

  • Don't worry about buying expensive weights and dumbbells, using a bottle of water or tins of baked beans will work just as well. 
  • Spend a couple of minutes walking or running up and down the stairs. 
  • Belly dancing is a great alternative to fitnesses DVD's, it's more fun and great core stability for the back. 
  • Try dancing around to some music! It's a great way to get your little ones active and involved as well. 
  • Jogging on the spot. 
  • Circuit train in your home by different exercise activities in different rooms. 
  • Buy a trampoline, not only can you use it to keep fit, but small ones make excellent indoor toys for the small ones (under supervision of course!). 

If you prefer having exercise equipment at home or extra exercise inspiration, it's worth checking out Fitness Warehouse. Cross Trainers are excellent for working different areas of the body, as are gym/yoga balls and fit bars, but obviously you need to decide if you have the room and the inclination to use one. Wobble Boards are ideal for core strength, balance and stability and take up very little room under the bed, the same applies to exercise/power bands.

Exercising at home has both pros and cons; it's easy and simple to do and keep up to, but yet there are many more distractions at home. I procrastinate all the time, with University work, gym, chores, basically anything, so for me the ideal solution to exercising is to get out of the house when I have the motivation. Overall, it's best to find out what works for you and your abilities.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Fitness Warehouse but all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Summer Holiday Staycation | Lifestyle & My Motherhood Diary

With the schools closing and summer holidays vast approaching, many people are looking to book their last minute holidays. I know with the weather in the UK at the moment, most people will be looking for an escape out of the country to hot beaches and lands afar, but what about thinking of a staycation in the UK? There are plenty of areas you could visit, and quite a few on my list that I haven't visited myself. I thought I'd compile a little list of places you could visit that would suit all the family.

I've never been to the south of England, and when I re-read that back it sounds so ridiculous. I'll travel to the other side of the world regularly but not even explore my own country! There are so many places 'down south' that I would love to visit down there.

To me, Somerset doesn't seem to be too dissimilar to Yorkshire. It has beaches, beautiful greenery and some gorgeous attractions. Although it's a lot hotter down there! I'm a big foodie, and Somerset is famous for it's cider so on the list would definitely be a visit to a cider mill. Cheddar Gorge looks absolutely amazing, and would make such a lovely walk, but don't forget to be careful with the smaller ones. I, probably like the cider mill trip, would prefer to go on these trips without a child however, there are some super family attractions in Somerset. Brean Leisure Park would make such a wonderful family day out, with rides, a waterpark and other amenities in the leisure park, everyone is catered for, even the adults if you're into a spot of golf. I'm a huge fan of aquariums, so the Seaquarium would be right up my street. There's nothing more relaxing than walking around with the fishes. And if you're looking for somewhere to stay, why not have a look at Tor Farm's log cabins? Log cabins nowadays have gone way over my expectations, and these ones even have hot tubs!

Devon is another place 'down south' that's on my list. Yet again as with Somerset, it's beautiful and boasts amazing coastlines and hot weather. There are so many beautiful arts and heritage attractions in Devon itself, such as Buckfast Abbey and Powderham Castle. Woodlands Family Theme Park has plenty to keep the family entertained, as does Milky Way Adventure Park if you have younger children and toddlers. Exmoor Zoo will keep the whole family entertained and will definitely be a winner for everyone! Dexter is a huge fan of animals, and although he loves the zoo, I think World of Country Life would go down a storm, he loves petting animals and getting close to them too.

Do you think you'll be saying home this summer and having a staycation? I'd like to say yes, although this 'summer' weather is detracting me from the UK at the moment! Oh dear.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Tor Farm but all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Friday, 19 June 2015

How To Revamp Your Look In Five Simple Steps | Beauty & Fashion

Sometimes, we all need a change. If you haven't changed your sense of style in the last three years, now might be the best time to start. When you get used to a certain look, it stops being fun. We are young - we deserve to have some fun with our fashion sense. If you are not sure where to begin, never fear! I know how tricky it can be to reinvent your look but it is possible (believe me). Follow these five oh-so-simple steps and let's get started.

Step 1: Restyle your hair
Sometimes, people never change their hair style, but that makes no sense. If you always have your hair a certain way, now might be the time to change it a little. Why not try out some new styles at home? All you need is a hair straightener to restyle your hair to perfection. You could try a straight poker style or even some soft curls. When you shake things up a little, you will see that it makes a massive difference to your appearance.

Step 2: Get some new threads
Treating yourself to some new clothes doesn't have to cost you a fortune. I adore all things vintage, and so I spend a lot of time in these shops. Remember, buying things that are the same style as the clothes you already wear is pointless. There is no point having twenty dresses that look the same. Instead, experiment a little. Look for new styles that you've never tried before now. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can't pull a certain style off. You can. Anyone can wear anything and look fantastic. All it takes is a little confidence.

Step 3: Sort out your skin
If you have neglected your skin care routine, you've made a massive mistake. You should never let your skin get dry or it will begin to get flaky. When you put your makeup on, you will still see the dry skin beneath it. No, you need to take some serious action. You can make a moisturising face mask to wear. When you use the mask, you will find that it helps to put the moisture back in your skin. If you have beautiful, glowing skin, you will find that you always look your best no matter what.


Step 4: Restyle your makeup
Sometimes, people fall into the same old habits when it comes to their makeup. If you never change your style, you will always look the same. You might want to try something bold like heavy eyeliner and red lips or something subtle like nude makeup. Check out some beauty tutorials online and see what you can find. You can follow some of these guides to get immaculate makeup. There are loads of YouTubers out there who should give you all the advice you will ever need.  

Step 5: Get body confidence
The last thing you need to do when it comes to revamping your look is change the way you feel about yourself. When you have body confidence, it shows. Everything you do seems more confident than it was before now. People will see that you are comfortable in your skin, which makes you attractive to them. Read some guides online about how to get body confidence. If you follow the advice you find there, you will start feeling amazing about the way that you look.

Now that you know what to do, you can start revamping the way you look. Before you know it, you will look like a completely different version of yourself. Sometimes, all it takes is a makeover to cheer you up!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Re-Live the Tour de Yorkshire with FatBirds | Lifestyle

I can't believe it's a whole year since Le Tour de France started began in Yorkshire. If you've forgotten all about it (and how can you if you're from Yorkshire?!) you can read all about it in my post here. During the month of May we re-lived it over again with the Tour de Yorkshire but unfortunately as it wasn't near my hometown I didn't venture off to see any of the race. It was still spectacularly beautiful and thrilling to have such an event in Yorkshire. 

With their being such a buzz about the Tour de France, and again this year with the Tour de Yorkshire, there has been such an big uptake in cycling. Locally, a few more cycle groups have been created, and people are definitely paying a lot more interest to the sport. Cycling is such a good way to keep fit, and if it wasn't for the problems in my leg and my pelvis I would definitely be partaking rather than going to the gym. You get to explore the countryside like you can't in a car, whilst keeping fit, and seeing more of the great outdoors than you would normally. 

And even if you don't want to do it competitively, what a great way to get the whole family out and about to keep fit. There are several companies in Yorkshire offering cycling holidays, and there are lots of cycle routes and parks for you to explore, for all abilities and varying levels of intensity. 

FatBirds have a great range of bikes and safety equipment to go with them. They also offer advice on what bike would be best for you personally from men and women's bikes, to offering advice on what style of bike to buy, along with information on all the technical side of things too. Not only do they sell professional cycles, but they have bikes for casual cyclists too. FatBirds offer a complete service. Not only do they sell cycles, but they have a huge range of cyclist clothing, DVDs (so you don't have to cycle if you don't want to!), and can cover you with the nutrition side of things too. They also have a huge range of children's bikes, starting from a 7 month old balance bike so you can start them off early! And as your little one grows up, there is no need to use them as an excuse not to cycle as they have a large range of children's seats too. The whole family can enjoy themselves!

I hope this blog post inspires you to think about alternative ways to keep fit. It's certainly given me food for thought instead of going to the gym all the time!
This blog post has been written in collaboration with FatBirds but all content and images contained within are my own.

Creating a statement with summer jewellery | Fashion

It's no surprise to my loyal followers and readers that I love a statement piece of jewellery. Statement necklaces are my game, and the bolder the better. What better way to make an outfit, or tie a couple of staple items together than wearing a simple piece of jewellery?

Summer is no different (although having a small person who likes shiny things trying to pull them off every five minutes isn't good) although this year I've been experimenting with colour combinations. I absolutely adore anything rose gold and copper (much like every other blogger in the world!) but I've been finding it hard to find a large, bold statement necklace. Whilst having a browse on the t'internet I found the fabulous folks over at Market Cross Jewellers, and some of their pieces really have me excited. The key pieces I've picked out for you in my wish list are something a little different and out of my comfort zone. I am a big person, with a big personality, so I tend to pick something large to reflect that however, Market Cross Jewellers have such beautiful, unique and delicate pieces that have made me think twice about my style. These picks are staples in anyone's jewellery box, and are timeless pieces which will match any outfit.

I always think it's nice to tone down jewellery in summer anyway, I mean who wants to lie on a beach in a bikini wearing a Mr T necklace and having some serious tan lines? Not me for sure. At least this way I can still accessorise without being too over the top. Oh and warm, no one wants to have hot jewellery!

Okay okay, so I know my wish list isn't strictly all necklaces, but the rose gold. So much rose gold. I did have to team a couple of other items with it, and yes, one did have to be a Michael Kors watch. I know these were incredibly popular with bloggers last year, but I haven't bought one... Yet. I don't generally wear watches and the price tag is a little high for me, but one can dream right?

If you order from Market Cross Jewellers they offer free UK delivery on all orders over £100, and lower costing items starting from just £4. See something you want but weary of the cost? They also offer 0% finance options too, with an instant, online decision. Fancy popping into their stores? Well if you're Yorkshire based they have tonnes, the nearest to me being Skipton. I might have to head out for the day to have a look at some of their MK watches...

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Market Cross Jewellers but all content contained within is my own.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

What 'is' my spirit animal? | Lifestyle

Okay, so when I first decided to write this post I was honestly confused as to what an actual spirit animal was. I've seen quite a few people mention on Twitter that people are their spirit animal, and it really confused me. I presumed a spirit animal was an actual animal, but I've been wrong on several occasions before so I could be wrong again. The only way to work this out is to hit up Google and actually see what the definition was.

Now I didn't realise a 'spirit animal' was in fact a totem generally representing traits and skills that I can learn or already have. Ok, so what animal do I think would most represent me? Well probably a fish, I mean I have short term memory problems and am pretty lazy, although I don't like swimming so that's out the picture. Oh but wait I am Sagittarius so I'm a water baby. It's getting all a little confusing for me right now. How are you actually meant to pick what your spirit animal is? I decided to do a little online quiz and see what that came back with.

Being asked questions like 'I need lots of time to recharge' and 'I would rather be engaging in arts and crafts activities' may sound like me, but I definitely don't think they sound much like a butterfly right? Although I would say I am a social butterfly, and I do like bright colours so perhaps. Yeah I don't think that's right after all. A butterfly? Nah. After thinking about it for quite a long time I've decided I'm either a cat or dog, I like both their traits. Dogs are more fun loving creatures that tend not to think before doing things and enjoy the more fun side of life, although being a cat means I can sleep a lot and be tended to frequently. It's really hard to pick between the two.

I think that's why I've always had both a dog and cat as a pet? They are such beautiful and loving creatures. Although my cat, she's not that loving. She's incredibly solitary, especially with a small person pulling her tail a lot! I guess I am more of a dog person though, purely for the 'fun' aesthetic, oh plus they are definitely more loving. I'm a dog lady, not a cat lady. And above all, I take care of my pets. They aren't just pets, they are family members, and I know lots of other folks in the UK feel the same. Taking care isn't just by having fun with them, but making sure they eat well, are walked and exercised enough (and that includes the cat!) but also to make sure they have regular vet check ups too. More Than offer great dog insurance policies, and that's always really important to factor into your budget. I know nowadays lots of vet surgeries offer policies with the group itself but those can be pretty costly, especially when you can cover your dog for as little as £8.52 per month. I know I'd rather make sure my pet was covered in case of any 'be more dog' nasty accidents! I've heard of some vet bills costing thousands for dogs breaking a leg. Ouch, and more ouch!

This blog post has been written in collaboration with More Than but all content contained within is my own.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Pregnancy & Maternity Leave Finances | Lifestyle & My Motherhood Diary

I've never blogged about the financial side of having a baby before and I think although you are aware of the fact that children do cost a fair amount, you never really can tell how much until they come along.

When I first found out I was pregnant I was in a stable full-time job, and the main financial worry for me at the time was how I would pay for full-time (or at least reduced hours) childcare so I could return to work after Dexter was born. I knew had to take into account reducing my hours and ultimately thinking about sufficient childcare that would cover not only my hours at work but my travelling time too as I don't drive and have a lengthy commute. This was proving to be a problem and I hadn't thought everything through. I could only think of trying to reduce my hours at work to around 20 hours but unfortunately due to the instability of the NHS at the time I wasn't even sure I would be able to return to my job after my maternity leave. I didn't know this before I was pregnant, but the NHS (or at least where I worked) didn't have to give you your old job back, they could redeploy you to another hospital site and job but for the same pay, and that on it's own was another worry as it was difficult for me to get to one site as it was, the other was definitely much more difficult.

Yet another problem for me to face was maternity leave itself as I didn't know there were several maternity leave packages available to me. I say that, but ultimately I felt lucky to even be employed and in a semi-stable job role at the time with maternity options, I know a lot of women don't have options and struggle a lot more than this. There were three packages for different lengths of maternity leave and payment. At the time I decided to take the six months package which from memory (I left 2 years ago!) would be three months at full wage and three months at Statutory Maternity Pay plus three months half pay of my wage. Overall I think it worked out that I would be bringing the same income in over the six months. There were a lot of options to pick from and it was hard going, working out what would be the best for my family, how much time to take off work, and ultimately whether I would return at all.

Unfortunately I had to leave before my maternity payment was due, a whole month before I would be entitled to anything, due to medical reasons. And I would receive nothing from work. Zilch. Nada. Not a single penny. I had absolutely no idea what to do because I wasn't even entitled to claim Maternity Allowance from the government as I was only a few months pregnant. I couldn't claim Job Seeker's Allowance as I would have to look for a job but unfortunately I was too ill to do so. My only other option was to claim ESA until my Maternity Allowance was due. Luckily that was only a few weeks however, when you go from a significantly well paid job to state benefits, that's when you notice the change.

From thinking all I really had to worry about were nappies, milk, baby clothes on my full time (or slightly reduced but better than Maternity Allowance) wage, I had to consider a major drop in my income and how I would deal with this.

Firstly, I made sure I had checked out all my options. You are entitled to Child Benefit when your baby is born, and then Working Tax Credit/Child Tax Credit too, so it's definitely worth looking at what you will be entitled to as well as what help you can get towards childcare as a mum. There are some pretty good websites out there that help parents find their entitlement and ways in which to claim.

Once I had that sorted out, I had to look at how I would manage on my Maternity Allowance (which is the same rate as Standard Maternity Pay). I had to take into account my initial baby shopping list, income and expenditure; along with the little things that you totally forget about. Here is an initial list of the 'big things' you will need to think about, and ways to reduce the cost.

Nappies - it could be cost saving to use reusable nappies, there is the initial cost but they will prove cheaper in the long run.
Baby formula - I had anticipated that I would breast feed but he was settled on formula feeding before I managed to see him on the neonatal ward and I didn't want to mess around so to speak.
Medicines - yep children get ill! However, I think there is now a scheme where if you take your child to the pharmacy rather than to the GP surgery you can receive treatment for free - so that's a huge saving on paracetamol and ibuprofen solutions.
Baby clothes: I had already bought Dexter loads of clothes in a size 0-3 but as he was a super-preemie baby even premature clothing was too big! Always try and eBay baby clothes or look for preloved ones in a charity shop, they will be significantly cheaper and babies grow so quickly! Same for selling, try eBay or bundles on Gumtree etc, or donate to charity.
Baby furniture: I only really needed a Moses basket initially, although I could have avoided this step altogether as we had a small space-saving cot that he was happy to sleep in, yet again, buy second hand!
Pram/car seat: although I recommend second hand on plenty of other things initially I bought my pram brand new and that cost a fortune but I did manage to sell this on eBay which paid for the stroller I currently have. I bought my car seat from eBay and it was in beautiful condition, it came with the base to fit in the car too making it easier to slide in and out.

There are so many other essentials that you need to buy, and quite frankly this blog post is definitely too long to add more to, but there are several really handy websites out there to have a look at if you're a first time mum.

And finally to think about when you've had your little one, is a Will and life insurance. I worked for several years in Wills & Probate law so I definitely know the importance there, but you really do need to be covered with life insurance. If anything happened, who would cover your outstanding bills? Would there be any money left over for your child? These are things that no mother likes to think about, but should be such a priority in case of anything happening. Legal & General have great life insurance packages from women starting as low as £15.01 per month. In real terms, that's a couple week's worth of nappies, but you will know there is financial stability there for you in case anything happens.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Legal & General but all content contained within is my own.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Emerald & Floral Print | Fashion

If you remember my post last week showing my latest TU Sainsbury's dress addition here, you will see that I mentioned I bought a dress prior to buying the parrot print one. That dress was this beautiful white Peter Pan collar tea dress with a floral print. I've since fallen in love with TU dresses even more and added another two to my collection, so keep your eyes peeled for those on the blog soon. They are simply beautiful!

This dress was 25% off over the Bank Holiday weekend however, I think it was priced up completely wrong as I ended up with 75% off the label price, a measly £6 was paid for this dress. The quality is fantastic, the jersey dress is really quite thick and comes down to my knees. And I honestly couldn't love it any more than I do. There are so many colour combinations I can wear with this dress, and I have plenty of cardigans to go with it. For this outfit I decided on this beautiful George emerald green cardigan, and my trusty gold sparkle ballet pumps, also from George.

Love, love, love.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Exante Diet ~ New Products | Lifestyle

I've reviewed a couple of very low calorie diets (VLCD) on the blog before, but never Exante. I did try this for myself last year and, as very similar to the others, I lost quite a bit of weight over the weeks I trialled the products. Unfortunately due to health reasons and medication, I've ended up putting that back on. Although with the products I received I did manage to loose another 6lbs in a week with the plan alone, exercise is proving tricky with my health situation at the moment.

This time around, Exante have a whole new range of products that I was asked to try. When you sign up to a VLCD plan normally you only have 3 'meals' per day, and normally including a couple of options such as snack bars and shakes. Exante have upped the ante (see what I did there?!) by allowing you to follow a VLCD plan and having 4 'meals' per day to keep your hunger at bay. Not only can you choose from bars and shakes, but now they have the option to include hot meals, scones, pancakes, gooey puddings, and pizza mix amongst plenty of other mouthwatering options!

I was kindly sent a few products to try from Exante, including the normal shakes, soups and meals; but my favourite products had to be the scones, pancakes, and gooey chocolate pudding. Unfortunately I left the pudding in a little too long and it was more a cake consistency, still delicious may I add, although it might be worth testing as you go along. My favourite shake flavour is definitely the honeycomb, although coconut is a high second place! The pancakes were really simple to make, and the maple syrup made them just as tasty as the real thing.

I really like the idea of being able to have 3 or 4 'meals' on the diet, especially now they have so many more interesting food types to offer. Before a VLCD could leave you feeling down and incredibly hungry, whereas the new Exante products have left me feeling full and curbed my hunger a lot more.

If you're interested in having a look at the diet plans they offer, you can do so here. They offer helpful advice as to the plan you may wish to follow and what would be best for you. They always have wonderful offers on so it's worth checking out if you want to bulk buy any of the products. You can pick up a variety pack for two weeks currently being sold from £60. This is a bargain price of £30 per week which normally shopping on it's own would come to more.