Friday, 31 July 2015

Be true to yourself | Lifestyle

This will be the first time I've discussed this topic on my blog, sexuality. Specifically my sexuality. I married a man and had a baby so general presumptions are that I'm straight, when in fact I'm bisexual. When you meet someone initially you don't say 'hi I'm Michelle and I'm bisexual' just to set facts straight, but I wish it was that simple.

I'm writing this post because I've been reading things recently about being trapped in a situation where you feel you are unable to be 'you'. I would hate to be living in a world where I felt that I couldn't be 'me' as a person, and had to hide from everyone. I couldn't imagine how draining that would be on a daily basis to pretend to be someone else. In fact, it scares me.

My sexuality has never defined me as a person either. I came out when I was 19 to my mum with the words 'I think I might be gay' and asked her to tell my dad for me, I was too embarrassed. My parents have always been supportive of me and have met both my previous girlfriends and boyfriends. I've always been out in the workplace and never had a problem either. Perhaps I'm just one of the lucky ones who hasn't suffered persecution at all; apart from the occasional 'eurgh look at that lesbian and her girlfriend' comments from childish teenagers.

I must admit, sometimes it can be hard to be accepted with friends. I've lost a lot of gay friends because I've had a boyfriend and 'turned straight', and I've lost of a lot of straight friend when I've had a girlfriend and 'turned gay'. The usual 'you're just greedy' or 'you can't make your mind up' comments are always thrown around too. Mostly I just shrug it off and have a laugh because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter to me. Nowadays, my friends are my age or older, we've all grown up and become more accepting and generally couldn't give a damn what I or anyone else did.

A couple of questions that I've been asked too:
How do you know you're bisexual? Generally because I fancy both men and women.
How does it feel to be bisexual? I'm not sure how to answer this, because ultimately it feels like 'me'. I didn't just wake up one day and decide that I wanted to try anything new, it's always been a part of me and I've known I've liked both sexes since I was around 10. Obviously trying to work out my feelings when I was younger was pretty hard and that took it's toll until I was around 19/20, but that's all part of being a teenager and discovering yourself.
Are you greedy? Well no I'm not actually. Generally like the population, if I see someone and fancy them, I fancy them. It's not rocket science either.
Do you just want attention? Not really, like I said in paragraph one. If I did want attention I'm quite sure the first thing I would tell people was my sexuality, but like I've mentioned again, it doesn't define who I am as a person.
You must like threesomes? This is such a personal question I've been asked lots. I've never had one. And it boils down to the whole 'no I won't sleep with your girlfriend and you can't watch' either. I'm not down with all that kinda thing.
You must cheat on your partner or sleep around? Yet again, no. I've never done that. I do have a tendency to swap sexes once I've had the opposite. For example, had a boyfriend, split up, want a girlfriend, etc.
Do you prefer one sex to the other? Yes I do. I'm not sure whether this is me or whether this happens with most bisexual people, but I do have a tendency to sway towards men. I feel better stability in a relationship with a man but that's because my past experiences with women haven't been that good. Although to be honest when I was in my teens and early twenties my relationships with men weren't that good either. It's safe to say I haven't found the right person yet.

Ultimately, you fall for someone who you like, and that's how the cookie crumbles. I just wish the world was an easier place to live in, without persecution, and so that people really could just be themselves, and not have to hide from the world and create a separate persona; because I've never felt the need to do this for myself. Like I said earlier, I must just be lucky.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Back to College Stationery Wish List #1 | Lifestyle & Stationery

So as the title suggests, I'm going back to college in September! Some of you might already know from Facebook and Twitter that I applied to study a Level 2 Diploma in Hairdressing, had a college interview earlier this week and was offered a place on the spot. Of course I had to accept, which means a whole new range of stationery for me to get my mitts on. I've already picked up some stationery for my next University module in October, but decided that I would have to have more...

This is the life of a stationery addict.

And because I'm a stationery addict, I've decided there will probably be more than one stationery wish list post. I've already bought a couple of items from this post (namely the Lamy Safari pen, the Kate Spade paper clips and the ban.do agenda) however, there is so much more than I want. I'm never satisfied.

I've seen a couple of blog posts recently where everyone is jumping on the ban.do and Kate Spade stationery wagons, and of course mine is not too dissimilar, but I thought I would mix it up a little with Paperchase who quite often get forgotten about in the stationery world. They currently have a 3 for 2 offer on their stationery at the moment so I might have to stock up; I mean who doesn't need a pink pony USB stick?!


You can thank me later for all the pretty things soon to be in your life...

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Birra Moretti Gran Tour (30th July - 1st August), Leeds | Lifestyle

I'm really exited to share with you a passion of mine, food; and what better of a way to celebrate this than heading to the Moretti Gran Tour over the next couple of days in Leeds. Essentially, the Moretti Gran Tour is an Italian street food festival, displaying foods from various parts of Italy. Of course I'll be heading down to the opening media evening tomorrow where no doubt my eyes will be bigger than my belly. This is the first time the Moretti Gran Tour has been to Leeds, and I'm hoping it will come back for many years to come.

Who will be there?

  • The Pizza Fella - Friarielli pizza from Naples
  • Ipsum Vintoteco - Arrosticini from Abruzzo
  • Tigellae - Fusilli with pulled pork from Modena
  • Arancina - Pizza Alla Palla from Lazio
  • Pasta E Basta - Gnocchi with slow cooked pork shoulder from Valle D'Aosta
  • Brio Gelati - Geleto 
  • Arancini Brothers - Arancini from Sicily 

The Pizza Fella, Ipsum Vinoteca and Tigellae will be serving specialty cuisine from all over Italy, alongside live music and the opportunity to enjoy Birra Moretti. Each vendor will showcase authentic cooking methods and share signature regional dishes they are representing, such as a pizza from Naples, lamb from Abruzzo, gnocchi from Pasta E Basta, plus a host of others.
I think I'm mostly excited about trying the arancini balls, I've seen these pop up quite a lot on My Kitchen Rules Australia (yes, and what?! I watched all five season of that bad boy), although pizza from Naples is possibly the best thing in the world. All in all, I can't wait for this event. 
Not only do you get to sample some of the greatest Italian dishes, this time the Moretti Gran Tour will incorporate masterclasses too, so you can learn to make pasta etc. 
Advanced tickets are priced at £10 plus a £1 booking fee. This includes two Birra Morettis, two dishes from any vendor on-site and a gelato. Tickets can be booked at www.designmynight.com

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Body Shop Event, Skipton | Beauty

A couple of weeks back I headed over to Skipton for the Body Shop's very first blogger event. It was intimate, which I absolutely loved, and gave me chance to talk to the staff about their products. Something that I find incredibly essential when you head to a meet up. Only four bloggers attended at the timing didn't suit everyone, but this was a great time to chat to chat to everyone and get to know each other. I already knew Beth from BethTinkerbell, and we popped for a quick coffee and cake before the event started.

I haven't been to Skipton in a long time (probably around ten years since I worked there!) and didn't even know they had a Body Shop, so this was a nice surprised to be invited. When Shannen, the store manager asked to join the Yorkshire Bloggers Facebook group and sent out invites, I knew I had to go. It's rare that events happen closer to my home, and that I don't have to travel into Leeds all the time, something of which I can't do very often now.

When we arrived, we were treated to a beautiful hand massage with some of their newest products. First of all we were asked if we wanted to try the Virgin Mojito or the Fuji Green Tea range. I know what the Mojito would smell like, mint obviously, so decided that I would opt for the Green Tea; and I'm so glad I did. It was beautiful and refreshing, bitter and very unlike their common fruity ranges. First of all my hands were introduced to the body scrub and then on to body butter. My hands felt refreshed and soft. I suffer with a lot of eczema and dry skin, so this relieved them without aggravating my sensitivities.

I was then treated to a quick cleanse with the Chamomile Cleansing Butter, one of my favourite products, which removed all traces of my make up and thick eyeliner with one quick swipe, leaving my skin soft and well cleansed.

We then headed over to make overs. I haven't used Body Shop make up products in quite some time so it was a refreshing change to be introduced to some of their newer products. As always, I love their bronzer. Light in shade and well pigmented, leaving a natural bronzed glow. I was also introduced to the Honey Bronze Highlighting Dome and had to come home with one of these gorgeous cream to powder blushes. It suits my complexion perfectly. Also highly on my product list (and another product I had to come home with) was the Universal Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick. Although this comes in sleek black packaging and looks very dark purple, it's a pH balanced product that will change according to the pH in your lips. On my lips it's a perfect fuchsia, and with it being a velvet texture, comes across as more of a balm and leaves my lips feeling very soft and moisturised.

I was introduced to so many new products, some of which I came away with and some of which are on my 'to buy' list, and a real ethic of what the Body Shop is all about. Since the 90's, it seems to have lost it's way to buyers, but with their new collections and new spins on old products, I definitely think they will find their way back into everyone's lives.

There will be another blog post shortly featuring my goody bag and items I picked up when I was there too, a real treat for all my beauty readers.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Little Fingers Baby Foods ~ A Review | My Motherhood Diary

When babies start to wean it's imperative they have the right diet and right foods. I recently attended a HENRY (Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young) course at my local Children's Centre, and although Dexter is much too old to be weaning, I learnt a lot about first finger foods and introducing different textures and flavours to babies.

When Dexter was young, I was lucky that I had an Annabel Karmel app for my iPhone and made a lot of his purees and finger foods myself, but they are very time consuming and involve a lot of ingredients, so many that I was making more trips to the supermarket for him than I was doing myself. Little Fingers Baby Food helps to alleviate that problem.

Little Fingers Baby Food offer delicious and nutritious organic baby foods which are freshly handmade, frozen to keep extra fresh, and delivered to your home. They are based in West Yorkshire however, are branching out and are available in some local stores too.

When Little Fingers popped over a couple of treats for Dexter his eyes lit up and immediately started grabbing the packaging. After a little chat with Little Fingers, and on her exit to the door, he jumped up and followed her out! Definitely wanted more snacks.

So what did we get?
Squash Bites, Apple and Sultana Mini Cakes, Lentil and Cheese Fingers, and Courgette Bites.
All come frozen and packaged well, with a very good date on them for the freezer.

First of all we tried the apple and sultana mini cakes, obviously I had to have one too. They are the perfect size for little hands, and he wolfed it down quickly. They tasted absolutely delicious, and are a quick and easy snack to grab either at snack time or on the go. Secondly we had a mixed dinner of squash bites, courgette bites and the lentil and cheese fingers with sweetcorn and peas. Again, gone within a few minutes! I love the fact they are the right size for him to feed himself, and he really enjoyed all the different flavours. It's something a little different to what he would normally eat, and they are ideal to keep in the freezer when you need a quick snack or an easy dinner.

So what did we think?
Dexter loved each and every one of the bits, and ate them quickly. You could tell by his expression that he was interested in each of the flavours too which is essential when babies start to wean. Not only do these bites help Dexter him feed himself (which is a huge relief to me) it also encourages coordination and independence too.

I would definitely recommend them to all parents who are about to start weaning, and to those who have hungry toddlers too!

You can buy Little Fingers Baby Food direct from their website here, delivery is only available around the Huddersfield/West Yorkshire area, and products start at a couple of pounds per packet.
This blog post has been written in collaboration with Little Fingers Baby Food, and may contain product sample(s); all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Clash of the prints feat. Radley Bloomsbury | Fashion

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know I'm certainly no stranger to clashing prints. Actually, I think I only tend to wear clothes that have clashing prints nowadays, but anyway, this was one of my latest outfit posts. I took it last week before the dreaded summer cold/tonsillitis hit me and made me nestle away to watch numerous seasons of House, MD on Netflix. We all know this is my current obsession and won't end until the eighth season.

One of the main features of my outfit, and what I think holds the outfit together perfectly by adding a pop of bright colour to it, my gorgeous Radley Bloomsbury. I never used to be a fan of Radley bags until I saw this one, I've always been put off with the large dog tag however, the dog is so small and cute on this that it looks really amazing. The Radley Bloomsbury is from their heritage range, and looks very similar to a hat box. I think this is what really attracted me to the bag, as well as the gorgeous bright turquoise colour. The bag is large enough to fit my purse, keys, and phone. It comes with internal compartments to fit your phone in however, I have an iPhone 6 Plus so mine doesn't, but the bag opens very well (not fully) so nothing falls out. The bag also comes with a dust bag to keep it protected at all times.

It looks very sleek and chic, and comes in two other colours: grey and midnight blue. Both are absolutely gorgeous and would match my wardrobe down to a tee. I've had a look at a couple of their other bags in the heritage range and I must admit have been really pleasantly surprised. Not a brand I would have initially bought from, but definitely wouldn't overlook next time. I'm a sucker for a good quality leather bag, and they meet all my needs.

It's easily become my go-to grab bag, now Dexter is older and I can store his nappies and wipes in his new buggy, I have no need to cart my enormous nappy changing bag everywhere I go. I have so many things in my wardrobe that will work so well with this bag, and it definitely fits in with my prints and vintage themed wardrobe.

My outfit consists of New Look Inspire black joggers that I picked up in the sale a couple of months back, teamed with (yet again) a New Look Inspire black square print top, also picked up in the same sale, along with my trusty Primark jacket that cost me £3 a couple of years back, yet again in the sale. The shoes are just standard £4 black ballet pumps from Primark. Can you see a theme going on here? All of these are old season clothes so aren't available online.

Also, yes my hair is blue, but this was a complete accident. I bought the wrong hair dye that I presumed was the one I needed only to discover after I had applied it as a tint, that I'd used the 'colour shot' for extra vivid grey colour. Only I'd used that as a colour, not a shot. It's fading to a sea-green that I'm not too keen on, so I think I'll be going pink/lavender again next week.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Radley London, and may contain product sample(s); all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

On my way to being fit and healthy | Lifestyle

If you remember reading my 'Life Lately' post recently, you'll have seen that I'm on my way to a new fit and healthy lifestyle. After numerous medical problems last year, both my ME and back/pelvis problems being a couple, I've had to completely alter my health and fitness plans.

So what am I doing to get this healthy lifestyle?
Well first of all I'm doing Weight Watchers. As I mentioned in that post, I've lost 8.5 in a month which I don't see as a bad achievement, and it's definitely something I can stick to as well.

Besides the weight loss kick, I've been getting myself more active:
- Taking Dexter on really long walks up some of the glorious Yorkshire hills. Trust me, pushing a pram and a child up the hills near where I live is a feat in itself, they are steep, long and incredibly tiring. However, we both really enjoy being outside so I'm vouching to do this more often. Especially now I know that the iPhone takes note of my steps using the Health app, and transfers this to my Weight Watchers app for activity/pro-points. It's a win-win.
-  Going back to the gym: This is mainly for core strengthening and building muscle and strength back in my leg since my accident last year. Although I am really enjoying being able to go back to the gym, it's unfortunate I can't do as much as I used to do, but I'm working myself back up to my goals again which is pretty fun and challenging.
- Mummy and baby yoga with Dexter!: I've just been searching YouTube for good videos on mummy and baby yoga and I've found some really good ones. Yet again, this is something we can both be doing together and we thoroughly enjoy it.
- Yoga on my own: I've been using the Jillian Michael - Yoga Meltdown [DVD] now and then, and wow, it definitely gives me a good workout. It's intense, but definitely works. Rather than doing this daily I've been doing it every couple of days, sort of when I can be bothered really. It's an extra to the gym.
- Blogilates: Ok so I'm trying to do the POP Beginner's 2.0 plan and I pretty much only managed to do half of day one's video. I'm still trying to do this and get the moves correct before I move on, but boy is it proving hard however, I'm still exercising and that's good to me.
- Bellydancing: This is one of my favourite workouts and has been for years. I'm currently using the Belly Dance For Beginners [DVD] [2010] and thoroughly enjoying it. It's great to get your core strengthened and your hips moving. It's really hard on the arms though, they need a good working out. It can be pretty frustrating though as I struggle with coordination and can't quite master the shimmy move yet, but I'm sure practice makes perfect as they say!

What improvements have I noticed?
Amongst the weight loss, and being able to breathe and walk a lot further, I've noticed a reduction in my back pain, my posture is much better, and I can definitely feel my core strengthening; something that is incredibly important to me at the moment. Oh and I can plank, and raise on to both my arms and shift my weight back again. This is a major thing for me as I can't even do a press up. I know I carry a lot of extra weight, but gosh I'm so excited to see how my strength improves over the course of the year!

I've tried a couple of new (to me) things out in my exercise plan, but have you seen some of the latest fitness crazes? If you head over to SimplyHealth's blog here, they've compiled a list of some of the hottest fitness trends for this year. I mean come on, who doesn't want to try anti-gravity yoga?! That sounds right up my street, oh and underwater cycling is something I'd give a go too. I've yet to try water aerobics so that might have to be the first on my list of classes to attend at the gym.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with SimplyHealth, and may contain product sample(s) and affiliate links; all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

The Ideal Summer Jewellery Collection | Fashion

Are you looking to get some awesome accessories for your outfit this summer? Does the idea of wearing lots of jewellery make you feel more amazing when out with the girls? Then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been following fashion trends for a long time, and so I’m the perfect person to offer advice this year. Take a read through the suggestions below, and I’m confident you will select only the most appropriate items for 2015.

Silver Bracelets
Plain silver bracelets are very popular at the current time. That is because they go well with most outfits. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing jeans or a dress, an item like that can help to add something special. Just ensure you learn a little about silver before making your purchase. The infographic we’ve published on this page should assist you in getting good deals.

Gold Neck Chains
Necklaces and neck chains are essential if you want to draw attention to that area of your body. A wise man once said there is nothing more mysterious than a woman’s neck. Gold is the material of choice for most fashionable ladies this year.

Diamond Earrings
Unsurprisingly, diamond earrings are still very much an in-demand item. The only issue is that they can cost a lot of money to purchase. To save yourself some cash, it’s always worth looking at online auction websites. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about sizes because most earrings will fit everyone.

I hope you manage to get some stunning jewellery this summer. Maybe you could ask your partner for a present if you are strapped for cash? Enjoy!

 (Infographic Credit Love Antiques)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Sprinkle Business Cards with Fast Print | Lifestyle & Stationery


You may have noticed that I frequently change my blog layout and theme, although this time I'm really happy with the sprinkles! It just means that each time I try something new, use a new font or have a new blog layout, that I need to update my business cards, and this can be a costly deal.

When FastPrint contacted me asking if I wanted to review one of their services, I jumped at the chance of the prospect of new business cards*, something that I definitely needed to have back in my life. Something that would reflect the wonderful blog layout that has become fondly known as sprinkles.

FastPrint do offer a design service, so they will meet all your needs and requirements, but I had already designed the cards quickly myself as I knew exactly what I wanted and needed. Not only do they offer business cards http://www.fastprint.co.uk/business-cards/, they have stickers and labels, banners and flyers and leaflets too.

There are several options of business cards you can choose: gloss, matt or UV. I opted for the matt cards as I didn't want anything too shiny. The overall order was very simple to process, it's quick and easy to upload your design and they have step by step instructions on the requirements of your design. For an extra £15 on your order, they will design your business cards for you! Cards start at a low price of £20 for 100 business cards. The cards are high quality, thick, and very well printed with no blurring or pixellation.

Should I change my blog layout again (and more than likely I will do at some point in the future) FirstPrint would be the company I would choose straightaway. From initial ordering to printing and dispatch was very quick and easy, and they cards arrived within days without any problems.

If you're looking for new business cards or other printable for your blog or small business, I'd definitely recommend them. I mean come on, just look how amazing my sprinkles business cards look!

This blog post has been written in collaboration with FastPrint, and may contain product sample(s); all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Tips for keeping your bedroom tidy | Lifestyle

I probably have one of the messiest bedrooms, and have done since I was a teenager. In fact, I'm a messy person full stop. To say I'm organised and like to keep things in their places, it never lasts very long. Time4Sleep are looking for the UK's messiest bedroom, and currently have a competition running on their blog where you can win a storage bed of your choice up to the total of £500, which is an absolute bargain!

As mentioned above, I'm really, really messy. I tend to keep my room tidy and organised for a week or so and then it's a complete mess again with nothing to be found. However, I've been thinking of little ways that I can better store beauty and stationery products so that they aren't left lying around for little hands to grab.

Here are a couple of useful tips for small storage solutions:
For lipsticks, I keep them in a gorgeous Orla Kiely coffee jar. I ended up collecting all three of these jars and each has a different purpose. They are an excellent size to keep lipsticks in, and you can always see your favourite shade at a glance. I keep my brushes in a pen pot which I picked up from Wilko's a couple of years back, in the same range there was also a letter rack. As you can see this is where I keep my foundation and eyeshadow palettes.

I am also a planner and stationery addict, which means I have lots of post it notes and stickers lying around. I think the best small storage solution for these is to keep them in a beautiful My Little Box beauty box. I no longer subscribe to subscription boxes as I have far too many, and too many products to use, so I've decided the boxes are a perfect size for my stationery bits and pieces. You can also see that I like to use leftover jars. You may recall my blog post earlier this year when I did a little DIY on the smaller baby food jars, where I keep my paper clips and drawing pins. I also use the larger ones for pens and pencils.

Lastly, as you can see I use one of my other Orla Kiely coffee jars to store post it notes and page flags in, it has multiple uses and also works well as a book end too! I also have a Kate Spade box from a previous purchase (I love the colours!) that I use for stationery supplies, always a touch of beauty to my desk.

So what do you think about my storage solutions? Do you have any handy ones you could recommend? Or do you think you have the UK's messiest bedroom?

Monday, 13 July 2015

Afternoon Tea at Jeanette's Cakery, Saltaire | Lifestyle

Last month, after Dexter's little lip accident and his very first surgery, I headed over to Jeanette's Cakery in Saltaire for a little treat. Lots of bloggers and friends have recommended I go, and I've been meaning to for years but have just never gotten around to going. Even though I live 15 minutes away. I'm a bad afternoon tea fan I know.

And what did I have? Well of course I had to go for afternoon tea! I think afternoon tea is my most favourite meal ever. I love tea, cake, cute finger sandwiches and the array of small cakes that come with it. Their afternoon tea is an absolute bargain at only £8.95! Served from 12pm every day, you get a selection of finger sandwiches, a homemade scone with whipped cream (yeah I know right, not good unless it's clotted!) and jam, one of their handmade cupcakes of the day and a pot of tea. The sandwich fillings I opted for were egg and rocket mayonnaise and cheddar and apple plum chutney. Instead of the cupcake for some reason I had a caramel slice and a little strawberry mousse which was delicious. I also opted for the Earl Grey tea, delicious. Oh, and their milkshakes looked absolutely divine so I had to try the peanut butter flavour whilst I was there.

All in all I had a wonderful afternoon tea, for a fantastic price, and the service was fabulous. I even treat myself to one of their cute tote bags too! I would recommend calling them first and booking a table, I was lucky that when I called them they had a slot available half and hour later.

Life Lately | Lifestyle

I've been neglecting my blog, it's been a plethora of sponsored posts and reviews lately. However, I feel a little more connected and feeling refreshed with my blog, so thought I would post a little lifestyle update on where I am with my life lately.

Some of you may have seen on my Instagram that I joined Weight Watchers around a month ago. It was more of a pressure from my GP/pain management team in relation to losing weight for my chronic nerve pain and problems I've been having with my back and my pelvis for the past year. Since being a member this time around (I've done Weight Watchers on and off for years) I've lost 8.5lbs. I'm really proud of this achievement, and I'm definitely going to keep up with it. I've also joined a gym, mainly for core strengthening and muscle tone from where I've lost strength in my left leg and lower back, but I've been doing a little bit of Blogilates, yoga (with Dexter too!) and bellydancing at the same time. I feel a lot better in myself, although at the moment I'm in bed with a raging cold and tonsillitis.

You may have also seen from various Instagram photos, and maybe a few Tweets on Twitter that I'm no longer in a relationship, I'm now a fully fledged single mum, and it's been hard to adjust to that side of things. Not that anything has changed for me or Dexter, but the feelings that become associated with it. I don't really have much to say on this now, but I think overall it will change my blog and where I'll be leading it.

I'm thinking of a blog re-brand. I love the layout etc, and I'll definitely be keeping that, sprinkles are a true representation of everything colourful in my life, and really remind me of washi tape. I'm thinking something more generic for my blog title and URL, something that incorporates all I have to offer rather than giving off the vibe that my blog is solely fashion.

I've been watching a lot of House, MD lately; and it is by far my favourite series. I'm currently on season five, with three more to go, and I'm already feeling the jitters of it ending. Amongst this I have Pretty Little Liars on the go (what was with a week's break huh?!) and I've finished season three of Orange Is The New Black. So much love right there. My love for Gossip Girl has been reflected in my love of stationery, and I'll have a couple of blog posts coming up soon with newly acquired Blair Waldorf inspired stationery.

Speaking of stationery, I think my blog will incorporate a lot of this now. Planning has become essential in my day to day life. Although having a small person means I can't fully adhere to strict timing and scheduling, it does help me organise my day and having a to-do list in my Erin Condren Life Planner means I can get on track with daily chores and activities I need to get done. I've also recently purchased some blog planning stickers to help me get on track with blogging, and I'll have another blog post on that too soon. I'm also thinking of creative ways to use my Filofax Finsbury for University this year.

Speaking of University, I've passed my latest art's module! I'm really glad that I only have two modules left, and will be really relieved when my BA Humanities is over. However, I'm thinking of staying on afterwards and getting back into law by studying their graduate Law LLB. This means I'll only have four modules to study, but means I have another four years of University. A whole six more years in total. It does seem a lot on my plate however, I've been thinking a lot about the future and having to pretty much provide solely for Dexter so returning to law is where I think my future lies. Believe it or not, most of my working life up until the most recent few years has been legal based, and I've gained a lot of experience in different disciplines, I have really enjoyed working in private client and conveyancing though, and would hope to return.

Lastly, I've been enjoying photography a lot more. I've been going on long walks with Dexter and enjoying the scenery, the leaves, the beauty that we have in Yorkshire. I took the photo above whilst on a walk with my new fabulous Maclaren x Orla Kiely pushchair (she is a babe) past the local nursery and Children's Centre. The nursery children had painted a wooden fence behind the bars, and in turn slopped paint everywhere. It reminded me of a beautiful Jackson Pollock painting and so I decided that photo this would be a beautiful reminder to me of the future.

Lumia 640 XL ~ a review | Lifestyle

You may have noticed a few weeks ago on Twitter and Instagram I mentioned I was excited yet slightly apprehensive to be trialling the Lumia 640 XL for a period of two weeks. Excited because before I bought my iPhone 6 Plus, a Lumia is the other phone I was looking at, but quite anxious about swapping before trying it out, so I left it and bought the iPhone 6 Plus. And apprehensive because I had no idea what I should be expecting from trying out a different smartphone than one I have been used to for so many years.

I was really pleasantly surprised when the smartphone arrived, beautiful packaging then revealing the neon orange smartphone inside. What grabbed my attention first, beside the colour, is how light the 640 XL really is. It is considerably lighter than the iPhone 6 Plus, even though they are the same size. The screen on the Lumia 640 XL fits the whole phone, so is a little larger than the iPhone 6 Plus.

I found it really difficult to use the phone initially, although the OS runs just as fast as the iPhone I couldn't seem to really navigate myself around the phone to use it's full functions. Sadly, although it did get a little easier, this was the same at the end of my two week trial period, perhaps I didn't manage to use it to it's full ability and check out all the features that the phone had because I still had my iPhone to hand.

I found the Twitter and Instagram apps very dated and quite awkward to use. There was some lagging when refreshing Twitter and posting Tweets that I wasn't keen on however, it did work very well. Instagram on the other hand wasn't as good, it's the beta version being the very first issue of the app without any updates so there weren't many editing and filter options which let the Lumia down. Also, I found that a lot of my apps I use on a day to day basis weren't available for download, and trying to set up emails was a complete nightmare for me. I'm pretty tech savvy and even I struggled to set up the email account for my own server, so yet again left that on my iPhone.

When I headed to the Body Shop Skipton event I decided it would be the perfect time to try out the camera. Having heard amazing things about the 13mp Carl Zeiss lens and optics (one thing I was eager to try as this struck me as one of the main selling points) but felt indifferent about it. I wasn't really let down, but I wasn't wowed either. The camera took really nice photos however, the screen didn't show them up incredibly well which was unfortunate. They weren't as crisp and clear to view on the screen as I would have liked. Overall, as you can see from the image below, there wasn't a lot of difference between the photo quality, although the iPhone 6 was a little clearer, but lets be honest, for the price you are getting an absolute bargain of a camera.
I was so looking forward to trying out Cortana, I think this is what drew me to the phone in the first place, but I couldn't get her to recognise a single thing I said. I even had my mum try, and yet again, she had no idea. We don't have strong Yorkshire accents, and I even tried a mimic a London accent (like my mum!) but that didn't work. On this point she really let me down.

What I did like about the Lumia, and probably it's saving grace for me, was the integration with Facebook. I enjoyed the group updates and chat notifications instantly, and admired how the Lumia worked with this service. However, I don't really use Facebook that often, so yet again although it was a lovely feature, it didn't really work for me.

If I could do the review again I think I would definitely box up the iPhone for the two week trial period. Having it with me at all times proved hard to really get to grips with the features of the Lumia which was a shame, but for me I needed to have that security of something I could trust and use. I wasn't sure if the Lumia would let me down. Unfortunately, hands down, for me the iPhone 6 Plus wins. I'm too stuck in my ways to change all my technology to fit another way when it works for me.

All in all, the Lumia 640 XL is a fabulous smartphone for someone who is just starting off, for someone who has other Microsoft products, and incredibly reasonable for the price at just £184.98 which is a considerable difference in price from the iPhone 6 Plus that I currently own. It's a shame because I just wanted to love the phone, but it just didn't happen for me.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Galénic Aquapipe Intensive Hydrating Elixir | Beauty

 You may have seen my recent skincare regime blog posts here and here, and that I'm using a serum both in the morning and evening. Lately I've been trying out the Galénic Aquapipe Intensive Hydrating Elixir* which can be bought from the Farmaline website here

The website boasts that the Hydrating Elixir 'is an intensely hydrating serum that quenches and plumps your skin to restore its elasticity and beauty. With a patented wild berries fruit complex that adds a water reserve in the skin, no long will your skin feel tired, dry or dehydrated.' 

I would have to agree with this. I've been using the Elixir for a couple of weeks now, both morning and evening, in my skincare routine and have noticed a difference in my skin. It used to look incredibly dull and I had very noticeable dark circles under my eyes and dry patches. Since using this product my skin looks a lot fuller and has more elasticity, and is certainly more hydrated. You may have seen from my other blog posts that I suffer from a lot of allergies and sensitive skin however, this product has been really great to use and I've had no side effects from it. 

The only downsize to this product is that I've only been using it for a couple of weeks and I'm quite a noticeable way through the 30ml bottle. At £15.68* it's not the most expensive of bottles, but it looks like I would be going through a bottle a month so might not be a cost effective product. It certainly works though, but I'm sure that there would be a product out there for a lower priced that works in a similar way. 

As I mentioned above, the Hydrating Elixir has come from a Belgium online pharmacy called Farmaline. They stock all kinds of European cosmetics and beauty products, and it's great to get hold of some of the well known French brands at brilliant prices. I've received products from them before, and they always come in a short shipping time and are excellently packaged. 
This blog post has been written in collaboration with Farmaline, and may contain product sample(s); all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Prescription glasses from Glasses on Spec | Beauty

I've been wearing glasses for over ten years now, and I really am incredibly dependent on them. Although I wouldn't say I was completely blind without them, I do really struggle to see anything. I can make out shapes, but they are pretty blurry, and almost every year over the past ten years I've had to have new prescriptions glasses due to prescription changes, although every time I go the optometrist reassures me that my eyesight will probably remain the same. How wrong they are!

Have you ever had an eye test? Here are a couple of reasons why you should maintain your eye health even if you don't think you have trouble with your sight:
- Your eyes won't hurt if there is something wrong, it's always best to keep up your eye tests every two years just to check for any eye conditions.
- Symptoms for eye conditions aren't usually seen until there is a problem, regular eye health checks make sure that anything is picked up early enabling quicker and more effective treatment.
- And if you do have trouble with your sight, regularly check ups make sure you have the right prescription, you could be doing more damage to your eyes if you don't.

I first started noticing problems with my eyesight when I was 17. Commuting to the city was proving a problem as I couldn't read signs in the train station, and had to be right underneath before I could focus on seeing the train platform and times. I remember after having my eye test and collecting my first pair of glasses, visiting a friend and going shopping, I was amazed at how clear my eyesight was, and how short-sighted I really was. I think I annoyed her by the end of the day after reading all the signs and shops in the distance!

However, the cost of prescription glasses soon adds up. Whilst some high-street stores offer 2 for 1 on glasses and designer frames, and have summer offers on where you can pick up a pair of prescription sunglasses for free, I still don't enjoy paying over £69 for two pairs of glasses when I will only end up wearing one set of frames at a time. My prescription changes that often that having two pairs of frames to go through would be a complete waste, and it costs far too much to have my new prescription set into new lenses for the frames I already own. My last pair of plain black frames still cost me £45.

So I've started looking for cheap prescription glasses online. You may have a couple of previous posts here on Satchels & Pearls where I have mentioned online prescription services before. Glasses on Spec (absolutely love the name!) offer cheap but quality prescription glasses from £13 including free delivery. As well as being able to order a pair of glasses from there, they also offer a reglazing service in case you wanted to buy a vintage pair of frames and have them glazed with your prescription; from only £23.50 this is one of the cheapest services I've seen so far, and that's definitely encouraging me to buy that vintage pair of Chanel glasses I've been lusting over on eBay for quite some time.

After having a look at the current range of glasses they have, I've narrowed my choice down a couple of pairs that I would love in my collection, and for the price I can certainly have more choice! What can I say? I have a thing for tortoiseshell, vintage glasses.

Why feeling beautiful can be good for you | Beauty

Feeling beautiful can make you feel confident and assertive. When you don’t feel very attractive, it can leave you feeling shy and introverted. This could even affect your chances in job interviews and make it difficult for you to make new friends. We all want to be beautiful but most importantly, we want to feel beautiful.

If you feel shy in new situations, then you may be showing that you’re uncomfortable with your posture. Our posture seems to collapse, leaving our shoulders hunched, and our necks bent over our chests. This posture is common for people who suffer from lethargy too. If you can correct this posture, it can improve your energy levels, as well as making you appear more confident.

Some people with poor teeth try not to smile. Smiling is a very important part of our non-verbal communication. If your teeth don’t look good, then visit your dentist to see what can be done. You may just need a cleaning session and a good whitening treatment. Oral health is important to our general health too, so it’s worth investing the time. Your new smile will make you appear confident, and smiling makes you beautiful.

Many of us think our faces are ugly. Often this is down to just one part of our face not being the way we would like. Noses come in all shapes and sizes, but few of us like the nose we’re born with. Many of us are also born with nasal problems like a deviated septum. A good rhinoplasty surgeon can let you know what your options are, and help you decide if surgery is right for you. It may be just the confidence boost you need.

Those of us who are unhappy from time to time may become comfort eaters. Staying sociable gives us fewer opportunities to sit around eating. A good social life keeps you active to help you avoid weight gain too. If you feel you may have ignored your diet for a while, why not make a few changes now? More vegetables with each meal or even a juicing diet can make you feel better instantly. It helps with your digestive process and energy levels. When our bodies feel good, we feel more beautiful.



To stay active, why not join an exercise class or even an amateur dramatics society? Keeping active or busy with other people is the best motivator to keep it up. Drama groups help you build your confidence too. If you like playing music, playing with a band can burn off some calories too. It’s good fun and helps you to enjoy more social situations. These are perfect opportunities for showing off your new found confidence and beauty.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but that's you each time you look in the mirror. Feeling beautiful is about accepting all that you are, and sharing that good feeling with others. We need other people to accept our company, assuring us that we're good enough as we are. Social settings help us to feel beautiful in that way. Feel beautiful today.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Stroller love: Maclaren x Orla Kiely | Lifestyle & My Motherhood Diary

A couple of months back I decided to buy a Bugaboo Bee 3, after having a Bugaboo Chameleon 3 since D was born and absolutely adoring it, I decided to make the step to a one piece folding stroller. Seemed like a good idea at the time, for travelling and all that however, since I will no longer be on my travels (or at least any time soon), I thought it might be a wise idea to have a look for a 'smaller' umbrella folding stroller. Much like the Cosatto Pixellate Stroller I once had (damn I wish I'd never sold that one!). Having had a quick look online for a cheaper stroller after deciding I only wanted to spend maybe £100 on a new one, I came across a Maclaren x Orla Kiely stroller. And my mind was blown.

I'm a sucker for a print, especially Orla Kiely, and I simply couldn't resist buying this one at £295. Much more than I anticipated spending, and with no different features than any other stroller on the market, but oh the print. It needed to be in my life. Having another look online, I've found some of the beautiful accessories that go with it. Thanks John Lewis, you always know how to break my bank.

So you can casually see me and D strolling around Leeds with our classy pram from tomorrow. And I certainly can't wait. She's beautiful, a diamond, my unicorn pram! Oh and did I mention you can buy a cup holder for her? Always a plus selling point for me.
All available from John Lewis. 

The ultimate guide to summer beauty trends | Beauty


Summer is here, which means it’s not just time to update the wardrobe and get the skirts out. Oh no! Every good woman knows they have to update their beauty regime too. What was working for you in winter isn’t necessarily going to work for you in summer. Your skin needs different things and there are plenty of new beauty trends to try out. If you want to stay in vogue this summer then follow this ultimate beauty guide.

Flawless Skin
When the sun comes out, most of us want to wear less makeup. Not only does it help us tan, but it looks better too. Nobody needs eyeliner melting down their face in this heat. If you want to pull off the natural look, then you need to work on flawless skin. Up your skincare routine as the summer draws in. You want to focus on keeping a clean and clear complexion. Drink plenty of water and keep your face cleansed regularly. This will all help you pull off that flawless skin look. If you’re struggling then consider investing in a BB cream or tinted moisturiser. It will give you that natural look, with a little bit of coverage.

Big Eyes
This summer it’s all about the big and bold eyes. If you’re going to be wearing minimal makeup then a sweep of mascara should do the trick. If you find that your eyes are puffy or tired looking, then perhaps blepharoplasty is the way to go. This will open your eyes up on a more permanent basis. Great for those who are worried about small peepers. There are obviously ways you can fake the big eye look too, however. White eyeliner on the inside of your lower eyelid works wonders. As does a winged eyeliner effect, which can make them look wider. Play around with different eyeshadow techniques to see which works best for you.


Strobing
Contouring was so last year. Now, it’s all about the strobing. This is a technique that focuses mainly on using highlighter where light would generally hit your face. Less of the dark and light patches everywhere, like contouring. You still need a powder that’s a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone. This is just to create a slight shadow. However, it’s far less intense than contouring. And quite frankly, I think it looks better. Practice your strobing technique in front of a mirror until you’ve got it down pat. You can then show off your new, strobed face.

Micellar Water
A must-have in any beauty routine nowadays. You’ve probably seen micellar water everywhere recently. It’s become a huge thing, especially for summer! Instead of loadsa harsh chemicals on your face, this a far safer way to cleanse. It was originally designed for Parisian women, who had to deal with harsh water on their faces. Now, it’s so in vogue all over the world. You can find them in most cosmetics stores, from just a few dollars up to a small fortune. See which one works best for you.

These are the ultimate summer beauty trends for 2015. Are you on top of them all?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Beauty Blog Sale | Beauty

It's that time again where I clean through my stash and discover a million new or hardly use products that I won't or can't use, so I thought I would upload them all in another blog sale for you.

As usual, postage and packaging to the UK (second class signed for) will be included in the price. I only ship to the UK, it makes everything easier all round.

If you're interested in an item(s) then please either contact me on Twitter or send me an e-mail. I'll let you know the price and send you a PayPal invoice.
1. Etude House Face Conditioning Fixer, brand new in packaging. £8. 
2. ESPA Naturally Radiant Tinted Moisturiser, full size, in shade 02 blush, used once. £20.
3. Seventeen WOW! 3 Way Highlighter for glow and prime, used twice. £5. 
4. Seventeen Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer in shade 01 fair, used once. £5. 

1. My Little Beauty Teint de Pêche (peach toned cream blusher), used once. £4.
2. Model Co Crème Rouge cheek and lip tint in shade Just Peachy, brand new. £4. 
3. Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Eyeshadow Palette, brand new. £4. 
4. Sleek Blush in shade 922 Life's a Peach, brand new. £4. 
5. Beauty UK High Brow all in one brow definition kit, brand new. £4.

1. L'Oreal Miss Manga Punky Mega Volume Mascara in black, brand new. £5. 
2. Collection Lengthening Mascara in ultra black, brand new. £4. 
3. My Little Beauty Mascara soin et Volume (volume and care mascara) in black, brand new. £4. 

SOLD 1. Illamasqua lipstick in shade Sangers, brand new. £6. 
SOLD 2. Burberry Kisses mini/travel lipstick in shade Military Red, brand new. £4. 

SOLD MUA Luxe velvet lip laquers in shades Reckless, Funk and Atomic, all brand new. £5 for the set. 

NARS Satin Lip Pencil in shade Marjella, used a couple of times but never sharpened. £10.

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, 40ml, brand new. £5. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Ways to revamp your living room this summer | Lifestyle

Although I've aimed this post for the current summer season, it's can easily be applied to any other time of the year too. There's something about the change in seasons that makes me want a general lifestyle overhaul and change, when I want to strip the paper and re-paint, or buy new furniture and fittings. Lets talk about revamping your living room for the summer.

Summer is here, and although this year we don't have a World Cup we still have Wimbledon and there are plenty of other sporting events that call for a new TV (or in my case Pretty Little Liars and my newly found obsession for House, M.D. marathons on Netflix!) perhaps with a new sofa, and a couple of new cushions to make the space more inviting.

My TV is on the blink, it overheats so easily making the room incredibly warm, is a little too small for my liking nowadays, and not as thin as some of the TV's on offer out there. I'm thinking it's definitely time for an upgrade, and I'm thinking about one of these Panasonic internet TV's. I need to start thinking about a smart TV, it would be so much easier for me to stream YouTube videos and Netflix too. I need to get with the 21st century.

The Panasonic Viera TV looks right up my street with enough HDMI ports for all my devices, along with it being internet ready and running apps, being super light so that I can mount it on my wall (without it falling off - anyone remember the bookshelf incident?!) and built in Freeview, something which my current TV doesn't even offer, I said it was old.

I've had a little browse around the internet and compiled a wish list of a couple of beautiful interior fittings and decorations I've found too. I'm really into the palette pairing of rose gold/bronze and mint, and whilst this is reflected more commonly in my stationery choices this season, there are plenty of ways it can be incorporated in your living space too.
Copper sequinned cushion cover - H&M - £12.99
Garden rain scented candle - H&M - £7.99
Large copper metal tea light holder - H&M - £14.99
Small copper metal tea lighter - H&M - £4.99

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Panasonic, and may contain product sample(s); all content contained within, images (unless specified) and opinions are my own.