Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Favourites

Hi everyone! Sorry for not blogging as much as usual, I've been so busy over the last few weeks getting reading done, essays written and dissertation planned ready for Christmas deadlines! Term ends on Friday, so I will be blogging a lot more again within the next few weeks.

Here are my November favourites - not all are Beauty related! I hope you enjoy, and if you post a November favourites, comment below with the link as I would love to read them all!

Save the Children Robin Christmas Jumper I haven't actually worn this yet, because I think it is against the law to wear a Christmas Jumper before 1st December (not the fairisle ones, they're OK, just the full on novelty ones!) But this is a firm favourite of mine for November because I really can't wait to wear it. I'm holding a Christmas Jumper fundraiser round my house for Save the Children which I will be blogging all about afterwards, so it will be perfect for that, and I'm so glad some of the money I spent on this jumper went to the charity. Everyone who knows me knows I have an obsession with bird prints so Robins are perfect for me, and I love the pom poms!

2-in-1 Cuticle Trimmer I have the world's worst cuticles, especially in winter. They seem to grow so quickly and get quite painful when they are dry, and make my nails just look awful! I've tried every cream, oil and cuticle pusher under the sun, but this 2-in-1 trimmer is definitely the answer to my cuticle crisis. I was a bit nervous as it is quite sharp, but if you apply gentle force as you push along your cuticle, you remove so much more than any other cuticle product I've tried. I would definitely recommend this if you suffer with dry and overgrown cuticles.

Kate Moss Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick in '107' I do love pretty lipsticks, but I am not the most confident person when it comes to branching out and wearing anything more than a subtle colour. I saw this Kate Moss lipstick in Boots though, and thought it was about time I started wearing whatever I like, and I'm so glad I did. I love this berry purple-red colour and think it is perfect for Autumn/Winter. I've received several compliments on this and feel it really adds the perfect final touch to my make up.

Glade Honey and Chocolate Candle In the last few weeks or so I've really developed a candle obsession. I saw this in Tesco on offer for £2 when doing my weekly shop, and when I smelt it I just had to buy it! It smells so dreamy, and I think Honey and Chocolate really compliment each other well. I'm not a huge fan of Christmassy candle smells in general (although I am lusting over the Yankee Candle Angels Wings one) but this still has that warm and rich Autumn-Winter smell perfect for a candle at this time of year.

Take That and Olly Murs tickets I haven't actually received my tickets yet so couldn't include these in the photo, and they aren't really a product you would typically find in any blogger's favourites, but I just wanted to scream from the rooftops that within the last fortnight I've managed to get tickets for my two most favourite music artists. After spending a nervous hour or so before the 9am ticket release sat refreshing ticket master, I managed to get both within 10 minutes of them being released - which any Take That fan will know is unbelievable! (On the last tour it took me 6 hours at my computer to find some tickets). I'm really really excited, and they are both within a fortnight of each other in May 2015 so even though I'll have exams around then, I've still got things to look forward to.

I hope you enjoyed reading my post - if you would like regular updates, please follow me on Bloglovin', Instagram or Twitter - the links are posted below. I'm a few followers off 200 on Twitter so I would appreciate your help in getting me to hit the next big round number!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Liebster Award

So the lovely Chloe from I See Chloe (link to her blog here) nominated me for a Liebster Award, so I'm extremely chuffed as it is my third nomination overall!

First off I'm going to answer Chloe's questions, then I'm going to pose 10 questions myself for bloggers I nominate to answer. I think this award is a great opportunity to learn more about us bloggers but also to enhance that real 'community feel' that I think you get as a blogger.

Chloe's questions to me

1. Do you still see yourself blogging in a year's time? I really really do. I'll (hopefully) have graduated and started working full time, and so I would love to continue blogging through such an important transition in my life. I actually think I'll have a lot more time to blog as well, and a lot more things to blog about! At the moment I'm a poor student with a huge workload, so I just don't get to do as many of the things that I would like, that I would love to blog about.

2. What made you choose your blog theme? E.g. beauty/lifestyle I chose to write a lifestyle blog because the original aim was to keep my family and friends all over the globe up to date with what I was doing, and so I could record everything for me to look back on and reflect upon. I've eventually moved into beauty as well now I guess, purely because I am addicted to make up and spend so much of my money on it! So I feel I might as well as share what I've learnt from products to help others.

3. Do you have an embarrassing story about your younger self? If so, what is it? I think the most embarrassing thing about me in general is that I was always bloody naked as a toddler! On the beach and around the house, you just couldn't get clothes on me for the life of me it seems! I just think I was a bit of a free spirit haha.

4. Are you more of a morning person or a night owl? ABSOLUTELY a night owl. I struggle to get to sleep any earlier than 1am and every morning I feel like someone is standing on my head, and really struggle to get out of bed.

5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? This is an idealistic question, so I'm going to give it an idealistic answer - I wish people didn't die. I know there are bad sides of this, because evil people would just live forever and conflicts would be so much more difficult, but I just think death and loss is the absolute worst thing in my life. I don't think you are ever ready for it, even though we all know it's a part of life. Death is the thing I'm most scared of in this world - not just my own, but everyone I love around me.

6. What is your favourite thing to see on a blog? Personality in blog posts I think is my favourite thing. Some blogs are sooo good at doing this - I think Louise at Sprinkle of Glitter's is one of my favourites for this reason!

7. Jeans or skirts? Definitely jeans, skinny jeans at that! Everyone always comments on how funny I walk, and I feel conscious that it is more noticeable when I wear skirts!

8. Have you ever dyed your hair? If so, what colour? I've dyed my hair non-stop since I was about 11 now. Originally it was blonde with bits of red in, then I went solid blonde, then brown with blonde streaks, then solid white blonde, and now more of a natural brown with blonde highlights. I'll continue to do it forever because I hate my natural hair colour!

9. Where do you usually find your blog post inspiration? Often random ideas just pop into my head, or when I've done a successful shopping trip or had a really amazing day out I mainly love to blog about those kinds of things. I also get ideas from blogs such as Zoella's, Sprinkle of Glitter's, Faye's Fix and Meg's Boutique because they're some of my favourite blogs.

10. Twitter or Facebook? Definitely Twitter. I've really gone off Facebook in the last year or two, and find that it is now just used to Facebook stalk each other who we don't like, spread gossip, or to show off about the amazing things we have bought or are going to see/do. I'm just as guilty of doing it. I just use it now to stay in touch with friends and family at home. 

My questions to my nominated bloggers
1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
2. Would you ever appear on a Reality TV show? If so, which one?
3. What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
4. If you had to be a Disney character for a day, who would it be and why?
5. Which three famous people (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?
6. What made you decide to start a blog?
7. What would you say your secret guilty pleasure is?
8. Name a beauty product you couldn't live without
9. Which celebrity would you say is the 'best dressed' or you get the most fashion inspiration from?
10. What is your favourite perfume/body spray?

I nominate:

Let me know when you've posted your answers on your blogs as I would love to read them

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Christmas Tag!

The most Christmassy photo I have taken so far this year - at the Birmingham Christmas Market last weekend

12 days after today and my Christmas holidays will officially begin! I am so excited now, I really am a big kid when it comes to Christmas. I just love having the opportunity to spend so long at home!

I spotted this tag over on the Make Up Savvy blog (here) and couldn't resist posting my own version as the Christmas mad blogger that I am!

1. What is/are your favourite Christmas movie/s?
I love spending evenings watching Christmas films, so this is quite difficult but if I had to narrow it down I would say... Home Alone 1 and 2, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Such classics!

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
We open one little present on Christmas Eve each in my house, but open the rest on Christmas morning. I couldn't imagine not opening them on Christmas Day, I love waking up, going downstairs and everyone just sitting together opening them all!

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
Not really, every Christmas I've ever known has been so special, and each is unique in it's own little way. Nothing in particular really stands out for me! My favourite part of Christmas Day is opening the presents as a family, then going to see my nephews and nieces open theirs - and Christmas Dinner of course!

4. Favourite festive food?
Pigs in Blankets! Every year I get absolutely addicted. I'll eat them for breakfast with a fried egg, in a sandwich and obviously with a Roast Dinner on Christmas Day. My Mum always jokes that she's stocked up before I come home.

5. Favourite Christmas gift?
I have been so lucky in my life to receive some really amazing Christmas presents, so I find it difficult to pinpoint just one or two. I'm grateful for any gift I receive and love the effort people go to when choosing presents for me. Within the last year or so my favourite presents have probably been tickets - last Christmas I got tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London, this Christmas one of my presents is a ticket to see Matilda in London (notice the theme haha!) and this year I'm also getting TAKE THAT TICKETS which is just the best news ever because I am the biggest fan in the world!

6. Favourite Christmas scent?
Lush's Snow Fairy, Yankee Candles Angel's Wings and Glade's Honey and Chocolate are my favourite Christmassy scents this year!

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Opening a little present each is probably the main one, but we also go to my oldest brother's house to have a Roast Ham dinner with him and his little family which is always great. I also tend to have a really amazing breakfast - including of course, pigs in blankets, and we tend to just stay in in the evening wrapped up watching all the Christmas Specials!

8. What tops your tree?
I have a mini tree in my bedroom, but it is so small nothing tends to balance on top unfortunately. On the main tree in our house though, we have this really big old fashioned Santa which is so cute! If I could choose a tree topper I would probably have a sparkly star or angel.

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
I actually asked Santa for a car when I was six! He started choking he was laughing so hard, and my family thought it was hilarious. At the time I was so confused, but looking back I can't believe I asked for a sports car, when the kids in the queue in front of me had asked for a Barbie or something. Trust me! My excuse is that Mum had been banging on about wanting the car for months to my Dad, and so I feel I was actually the most selfless child, because the gift would obviously have gone to my Mum! Unfortunately Santa couldn't fit a soft top into his Sleigh that year...

10. What is the best part about Christmas for you?
Definitely overindulging on all the food. I think I'm going to love this even more now I've been on a healthy eating kick for the past few months. I also just love seeing everyone - being away at uni makes me so sad sometimes, and I am such a homebird without a doubt. For Christmas I get four perfect weeks off, and everyone is so happy because it's Christmas so it's just a really lovely time.

If any of you bloggers reading this decide to post your own, please comment in the link below as I would love to read your answers. If you don't have a blog, please feel free to post your answers in a comment below!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lush Coventry Christmas Blogger Meet Up

Yesterday I attended a christmassy Blogger Meet Up organised by the very lovely Emily from Drained Beauty. It was one of the most fun evenings I've had in ages, and was just such an incredible experience for me.

Lush in Coventry very kindly opened the shop after hours for a handful of bloggers from the Coventry and Birmingham area, specialising in Beauty, but also Fashion and Lifestyle. It was really nice meeting people who enjoy the same hobby as you and who you can chat away to about beauty routines and favourite products and things.

After a mingling session with drinks and nibbles, we all were given the opportunity by the very lovely staff at Lush to make our own bath bomb. I was sooo excited by this, as I love making things and love Lush, so I guess it was a match made in heaven! We were allowed to make the Cinders Ballistic Bath Bomb, which not only has popping candy but cinnamon leaf oil, so it is very christmassy and relaxing!

We then wandered around the shop, trying out various products. The staff were incredibly helpful, and I can honestly say it was difficult leaving the shop without buying one of everything. I told them about my dry and sensitive winter skin, or the fact I'm worried about my hair thinning out and not growing as much, and they literally had a cure for everything! My favourite picks were:

The Christmas Hedgehog Bubble Bar I'm a huge fan of the Lush Bubble bars. you basically crumble part of them under running water and they create an endless stream of sweet smelling bubbles. The Hedgehog is not only the cutest thing I've ever seen, but is made from Shea, Cocoa butter to moisturise your skin and essential oils including rose and ylang ylang, which was just the perfect combination for me.

Pearl Massage Bar One of the staff kindly gave me a hand massage using the Pearl Massage Bar and I'm seriously kicking myself for not buying it. It was the first time I had tried any of the massage bars, and I found that it was not just relaxing but also so much better to many moisturisers I've tried. No water is required, you simply rub the massage bar up and down until it melts into your skin, and then follow this up by massaging it in. It left my skin feeling really refreshed and glowing, and there was no sticky after-effect at all. Again, this was a rose scented product, you're probably noticing a pattern here in my tastes and preferences...

Ro's Argan Body Conditioner Again, I would have loved to have bought this product there and then, but instead I thought it would be more sensible to add things onto my Christmas list. You basically use this in the shower, rubbing it into wet skin and then rinsing off, almost like a shampoo or conditioner on your hair. By the end of the evening, my skin felt thoroughly refreshed, and I was so thankful of how friendly and helpful the staff were.

Reindeer Rock Soap Out of the soaps on offer, this or the Honey one were definitely my top picks. The staff were absolutely wonderful and gave us all a free sample of this, and I can't wait to start using it. Not only does it have a reindeer print all over and so is perfect for the Christmas period, but it has a lingonberry scent, which was just beautiful!

Northern Lights Bath Bomb This is another Lush product that has gone on my Christmas list (sorry Mum and Dad!) Harry at Lush demonstrated this product, and I just couldn't believe how pretty the water became. The bomb fizzes away to reveal blue and neon green tints, and while the colours are sharp, the scent is very subtle, with a jasmine and ylang ylang base, which I thought was perfect for when all you want is a nice hot relaxing bath after a long day!

The staff then talked us through all of the various Christmas gift sets, which not only contained all of the amazing Christmas range on offer, but were wrapped so nicely. You definitely wouldn't need to wrap these gift sets - I think they make the perfect gift for anyone of any age. The Snow Time Gift Set had glow in the dark wrapping paper which I thought was pretty cool, but my favourite was definitely the Jingle Bells gift set - and yes it has real bells on it! For under £30 you receive two reusable bubble bars which will last for endless baths, The Comforter bubble bar, the Golden Wonder bath bomb which is A-MAZ-ING by the way (definitely check it out next time you're in Lush), the Luxury Lush Pud and the ever so cute Christmas Hedgehog.
I would definitely recommend checking the Christmas gift sets out online here

I then purchased a few things - mainly Christmas presents for other people so I won't list the items specifically on here! But one of the things I bought was a Lush Wrap Knot - I hadn't heard of these before but they are so pretty! For around £4, you receive a silk scarf type material which can be used as a scarf, headband, or to wrap the Lush goodies in, either for you or for a gift for someone else. And wrapping paper that doubles as an accessory sounds pretty cool to me! I purchased the Bambi scarf, because I have a bit of an obsession.

I had such an amazing evening, as I'm sure you can tell. A big big big thank you to Emily from Drained Beauty blog for organising the event - you did an amazing job and I think it was clear that everyone had a great time.
Also a big thank you to The Blogger Programme for the goody bags that we received - being a part of the Blogger Programme has really helped me connect with other bloggers and businesses, and I've really fallen in love with blogging as a result. I can't wait to review all of the free goodies on here!
And FINALLY, a HUGE thank you to Lush in Coventry - you were so accommodating and friendly, and I am so grateful that you allowed me to try so many amazing products and to receive all the samples and free products that we did. Several of you really made me giggle, and you really took my tastes into account when showing me products, and also recommended products based on my skin type or that were good for my beauty dilemmas. If any of you reading this are ever in the Coventry area, definitely stop by! I am so ready for Christmas now, and my Christmas wishlist has grown that little bit longer thanks to Lush!

Do you have any Lush products you would recommend? I think my love of Lush is literally bordering on addiction!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Guide to Student Well Being

If you are not a student- I still encourage you to read this. Many of the tips will be extremely useful for anyone who gets stressed or anxious :) I am just writing this as a student, because 95% of the stress and worry I face is the side effect of being a student - exam and essay deadline stress, increasing workloads, balancing work-social life, missing home too much... and so on.

As a Student Blogger paid by my university (a different blog - I'm not paid for this one), I decided to attend a course with the Student Support Services at my uni to discuss Student Wellbeing, my own experiences, and also to learn about the various things we can do to improve our wellbeing. This can be seeking further help, but can also be as simple as many home remedies, or techniques to try by yourself at home.
There is an awful stigma attached to the idea of 'wellbeing' and 'mental health'. It is important to remember that you are not alone in any feelings you have - the entire student experience can be extremely stressful. We are under pressure (both externally by society, but let's face it, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves too!) to get the best degree possible, to do hundreds and thousands of extra curricular activities and to have a job, all to look good on your CV so at the end of three years, you either get on to an incredible Masters programme or land ourselves the perfect job. Student culture seems to have become this rigid perfect plan for a lot of us, and it is important to discuss student wellbeing.
A lot of people define wellbeing as being 'happy'. I would have agreed before I attended the course earlier. But let's face it, no one is 100% happy 100% of the time! Wellbeing is about realising your full potential, being able to balance high challenges and stress with engaging in activities we enjoy, and having a social life.
We were asked to discuss our own wellbeing, and it got me to thinking which activities in my life allow me to thrive, and which activities give me the balance to stop me becoming too stressed and unwell. I am a member of a Dance Society on campus, and also help to run the Politics Society. I've also taken up jogging since summer and I'm really enjoying all of these activities. It is nice to break up reading with a nice jog, or to see my friends and to do something meaningful. Sometimes it's great I guess to just finish an article, and ring my parents to see how they are. Little things like this are well and truly BRILLIANT for maintaining a good wellbeing.
How to monitor your own wellbeing - have you noticed changes to...
  • Your sleep routine and subsequently your energy levels?
  • Are you lacking motivation? Procrastinating?
  • Are you no longer enjoying hobbies and activities that used to make you really happy?
  • Are you focusing all of your efforts on one aspect of your life at the expense of everything else? E.g. are you focusing too much on your academic work, and not seeing your family and friends, and is your house a mess?
  • Finding that you are not as effective in your work as usual?
Top Tips
  • The NHS 5 ways to feeling good - connect with others, be active (exercise!), take notice of your health and emotions, keep learning, give time to yourself.
  • Be realistic - break the jobs you need to do into small manageable chunks. Timetable, but include "me" time and allow for spontaneous fun plans!
  • Celebrate your achievement
  • Seek support when things aren't going to plan!
  • Make one change at a time - don't try correcting everything that may be going wrong at once. There is a tendency to feel over pressured and you concentrate on the negatives
  • Talk to yourself the way you would talk to others
  • Try not to compare how you FEEL to how you SEE others. You don't know how they are feeling and what is going on with them because you are not in their shoes!
  • Stay hydrated and eat a healthy, balanced diet with an occasional diet!
  • Ask yourself, have you already tried to remedy the problem you are dealing with yourself? If this failed, then maybe it's time to seek Student Support Services' help!
I hope you found this blog post useful. Over the last few weeks I have been stressed to the max, and I think it is difficult sometimes to say 'no' to extra commitments and responsibilities and to try and find time for yourself to just relax and enjoy yourself!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Birmingham Christmas Market

Today I have had the most Christmassy and wonderful day ever. Me and my flatmate hopped on the train to Birmingham, which is not far from our uni at all, to spend the day shopping in the Bullring and browsing the German Christmas Market and the Craft Market.

We decided to eat at the Handmade Burger Co. for a late lunch, because it is somewhere we have both wanted to try in ages, and neither of us have one where we live at home, or near us at uni. It is an AMAZING Burger Joint, the meat is such great quality and the burger wasn't greasy at all. The chips were seriously chunky and were very similar to chip shop chips, they were so yum! We both ordered the American Cheese, which was 100% Prime Scottish Beef burger, with Cheese, Onion Rings, Gherkin, Lettuce, Tomato and Red Onion, with a side of chips. We both had bottomless cokes as well, and it came to roughly £14 each which we thought was extremely reasonable for the quality of the food. We were so stuffed we couldn't manage a dessert, although the Banoffee Pie Sharing Sundae looked amazing.

The market was as lovely as always - we had been before in our first year of uni. There are lights everywhere, and the stalls are within these little Christmas Cabin type buildings. There are German Stalls selling every kind of food imaginable - from pancakes and crepes with Nutella or Kinder, to marshmallows covered in chocolate - and no word of a lie, the marshmallows were so big one would barely fit in an adult hand! Hand decorated chocolates, coffee beans to eat in every single flavour from caramel to vanilla to blueberry muffin! And best of all, the most amazing doughnuts ever! My flatmate and I purchased a Jam doughnut covered in Icing Sugar for our supper (the healthy eating WILL start again tomorrow). There were hot chocolate stands, winter Pimms, mulled wine, and huge tankards of German beers being carried around by visitors. 

There were lots of Christmas decorations on sale which were absolutely beautiful and unique, and lots of fairy lights and general homeware. There were several stalls selling precious stones which was  really nice but I was good and resisted most of the things! I purchased myself a Christmas tealight holder which is stunning. I've really developed an obsession with candles recently. I would upload a photo, but it's all tissue papered up! I've never seen anything like it, and honestly - if you are into unique little treasures and live near Birmingham, the German Christmas market is definitely for you! 

The Bullring is great to shop in - Selfridges, New Look, River Island, H&M and the Disney Store had so many things in I could have purchased, but I was so good! At this point we were exhausted and fairly cold, so trudged off to the train station with hot chocolates each. 

I have definitely over indulged today which will require an extra long jog tomorrow, but it has been a lovely day and I am sooo in the mood for Christmas now

Friday, 14 November 2014

What A Difference 1 Year Can Make

I am sooo sorry I haven't blogged in a week or so - I have been extremely busy with uni work as of late but I promise that there will be a corker of a post in the next few days because tomorrow I am going to Birmingham Christmas Market for an entire work-free Christmassy fun day out! I know it's only November, but me and my flatmate have been stressed to the max lately and just fancied a nice little day out! 

I decided to write this post when I was looking through photos from my holiday to New York from September 2013. I've mentioned on here before that I'm on a mission to lose weight and get fitter, and I couldn't quite believe the change that has happened!

I know one year is a long time and people probably do this in half the time, but for me this was such an achievement! I am an absolute foodie and it has been a real struggle changing my eating habits, eating out less, and taking up running because I am no natural Mo Farah I can tell you that now! I believe we all come in different shapes and sizes, and we are all the perfect versions of ourselves. But that photo on the left just wasn't me. I didn't feel comfortable, confident and I had given up on so many things that were once important to me, including dance.

It got me to thinking about how much I have changed within one year and how incredibly happy I am. On a daily basis I forget how fortunate I am and how proud I should be of all the positive changes I have made. 

This time last year, I was unhappy in so many ways. With my living arrangements at university, with my appearance, with how I was treating members of my family when I was feeling stressed, and how bad a friend I had been to some of my closest friends. I felt I was surrounded by some people (not all) who were not right for me and did not help me to be the best version of myself. I'm not trying to blame the way I became on anyone else at all. It was my fault. For allowing myself to become unhappy and to move within the circles of people that weren't right for me. 

I am now looking after myself far more. More days out, healthier food, making time for exercise. I (hope) I am being a better friend. I am reconnecting with people I lost along the way a few years ago, who make me happy and who I hope will be with me forever. I'm doing things I want to do for me, for the first time ever. I'm spending more time with my family, particularly my parents, Nan, brothers and their wives, and their children. I'm picking my nieces and nephews up from school, working with them, playing their crazy imaginary games for hours and hours, having my hair done by a four year old because she's a hairdresser today, but being a child in her class when she feels like being a teacher. I bought a car and found a new freedom. I grew my hair out again. So many little things that make me just feel like the person I'm supposed to be.

I know this is going to be so cringey and embarrassing for some of you to read. But all I'm really trying to get across is that I think it is so important to take a look at your life, and ask yourself: Are you happy? Or are you just comfortable? A year ago, I was just comfortable.Not comfortable in the sense that you enjoy how life is going. I was just doing things on a daily basis 'to get me through'. I didn't ask myself if what I was doing was right for me or making me happy. Instead I was just doing what I thought was expected of me, or doing what I thought would make others happy. But when someone asked me this very question, I didn't know what to reply. No I wasn't happy. I WANTED to get back in touch with people. I WANTED to remove certain individuals from my life. I WANTED to be the best auntie in the entire world. I WANTED to be able to jog, and do yoga, and go swimming, and dance. I WANTED to have movie days with my Mum like we used to. I WANTED to be confident enough to talk in class and not feel like everyone is judging my accent or my appearance or my comments. 

Take a step back, and ask yourself the same question. Ask yourself if there are any changes you think should be made to make you the best version you can possibly be. It can involve a lot of hard work if the list is crazy long like mine was. But when you get a year down the line, maybe even only a few months down the line, you'll look back and be so proud of yourself for making so many positive changes.

The best part about my transformation for me, was when my Mum looked at me and said "I think the old Shannon is back".

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide for Parents

Hi everyone! So my blog post featuring my favourite Boots Christmas gifts went down really well with you all it seems, and I was asked to do a gift guide for parents. I think shopping for parents can be tricky, and so while I've given some ideas here, I think like any person, shopping for Christmas should be about buying a gift that is suitable for them. If your Mum is a complete bookworm, then buy her a book by her favourite author or a Waterstones voucher? These are just gifts which I thought were pretty cool, and I have tried to get something for every type of Mum/Dad here.

I haven't really shopped around, because generally I stick to a few shops that I like, but there are hundreds of gift websites out there these days - googling 'christmas presents for mum/dad' and the results are never ending!

Gifts for Mum

1. Sanctuary Home Sweet Home Fragrance Gift Set, £18 at Boots
When I was in my local Boots the other day, I noticed this gift set and just thought it was the most amazing thing ever. If you have a quick second in Boots, I definitely recommend opening this up to see - you will find a layer of tissue paper with a lovely poem on about making a house a home. My Mum is obsessed with candles, pot pourri and general home scent products, and I felt that this was a luxurious version of this. I want it myself for at uni!

2. Make your own Lip Balm Kit, £15.75 at Not on the High Street
When I spotted this, I thought it would be perfect for Mums. Not only do you get the fun activity of having a craft session (which maybe you could do together one afternoon with some chocolates and a good film on) but you get your very own lip balm at the end! I thought this was a really unique gift and that can mean a lot to anyone receiving presents.

3. Jamie Oliver Pasta Essentials Utensil Set, £18 at Boots
First things first - I don't want anyone to think I'm being sexist here by placing the kitchen items in the section for Mums. I am a feminist through and through and don't want to give off such an impression! If your Dad is the main chef in your house, then this would be perfect for him - it just turns out that my Mum does most of the cooking, and we only eat Italian when my Dad is away because he isn't keen. Some may think this is boring, but for a family that eats a lot of Italian pasta dishes, I thought this was presented really nicely and contains everything you could ever need.

4. No 7 Instant Glamour Kit, £18 at Boots
Perfect for Mums on the go, or who never allow themselves to relax and pamper themselves! My Mum loves wearing make up, but says she never has time. With this mini little set and guidance on how to create effortless looks, I thought this was lovely for all those Christmas parties over the festive season.

5. Champneys Oriental Opulence Collection, £12 at Boots
Every woman in my family LOVES two brands: Sanctuary and Champneys. This set contains the perfect sized minis for if your Mum travels, and is presented so nicely.

Gifts for Dad

1. VW Campervan Wash Bag, £25 at Not on the High Street
One of my main considerations when buying gifts for my Dad is - Is it practical? Not only is this practical but it is really cool! It is available in various colours. It is really spacious and I think considering it will last forever, the price tag isn't too bad.

2. Initial Cufflinks, £16 at Not on the High Street
Considering how expensive cufflinks can be on the High Street, I think these are really reasonably priced! I thought these would make a really nice gift if you are getting married, for your Dad to wear while he is walking you down the aisle! Or just generally if he is a businessman or goes to a lot of formal occasions.

3. Self Stirring Mug, £9.99 at Getting Personal
My Dad drinks more tea than anyone I know, and I figured he must get bored of making a cup of tea sometimes! Behold, the self stirring mug making it a little easier for you. Perfect for the lazy Dad, or just generally a Dad who is a bit slow and grumpy in the morning. I think any little nifty-gadgety presents like this are perfect for Dads, my Dad always loves tinkering with things like this on Christmas Day!

4. Champneys Spa Essentials Grooming Kit for Men, £16 at Boots
Rather than your bog standard Deoderant/Body Spray/Shower Gel gift set this Christmas, why not spend that little bit more and get your Dad a Grooming Kit. Champneys is an amazing brand for both genders, and I think this or their Shaving Regime Kit this year are perfect! It's slightly different to the million and one other toilletry sets your Dad will probably receive (if he is anything like mine) and also, all men I know shave - where as some I know really complain about the body sprays in the set and don't use half of the stuff!

5. Man Tin, £8.99 at Getting Personal
I can't even count how many times in one day my Dad says 'Where is this? I can't find this - you must have moved it'. We also have a drawer in our kitchen which is full of loose screws, the odd screwdriver, duct tape, a pair of gardening gloves, receipts and old bills, and so on! I think this tin is perfect for Dad's to keep bills, maybe car keys, and any other of their random and pointless things (like bulbs that only fit the lamp you threw out about 10 years ago but you keep, 'just in case'). Let Dad's live in comfort of the fact that they can keep it all in a hidden away tin that your Mum can't nag at!

I hope you found this gift guide for parents useful - obviously everyone is different so it may not suit you exactly, but I hope it's given you some useful ideas! As always, let me know what you think in the comment box, I'll reply as soon as I can :) If you have any good ideas, please let me know because I'm struggling for a few more bits and pieces to get my Dad!

Friday, 7 November 2014

How to Clean White Vans/Converse

Let's face it, we all love white Converse, Vans, Keds and so on. They look amazing when they are brand new, and are sooo comfy. But they pick up dirt like a magnet, and any little mark on them just makes me want to cry! So as I was washing them this weekend, I thought I would share the entire process from start to finish with you, so your white trainers can be as sparkly and new looking as mine. I only use everyday cleaning products you'll find around your house, so this will cost you virtually nothing!

What you will need

Washing up liquid
Vanish Oxy Action Stain Remover (I'm using a Wilkos one to save pennies)
A cheap/old toothbrush - I bought two from Wilkos for 18p

1. Fill a washing up bowl with warm/hot water - you will be sticking your hands in and out so don't burn yourself! Put two scoops of Oxy Action Stain Remover in and swirl it around until all the little bits have dissolved. Remove the laces from the shoes. If these are dirty I would recommend just binning them and buying new ones, it's a lot easier than trying to clean them. 

2. Soak one trainer in the bowl.

3. With the other shoe, take your toothbrush and squirt some washing up liquid on the brush. Scrub in small circular motions around the rubber on the bottom of the shoe first. Every so often, wipe away at the shoe with an old towel to remove the excess dirt where you have been scrubbing, and so you can assess how clean it is and whether you need to keep scrubbing or not.

4. Switch the shoes over, and while you're soaking the other shoe now scrub away at the rubber on the other shoe and keep wiping.

5. Now make sure both shoes are in the bowl, submerged in the water. Leave them for a few hours.

6. Remove one of the shoes and wipe any excess dirt off. Now, again start scrubbing in circular motions at the canvas part of the shoe with the toothbrush and fairy liquid, wiping with the towel every so often. Do this to the entire canvas part, then put it back in the water and switch.

7. Leave them again for a few hours, and keep going until you feel that the big stains and marks have been removed. 

8. Leave them to dry, and ta-dah! The finished product! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Boots Haul

So I have travelled back home for the week, as it is Reading Week at my university. I only got back yesterday and already I have gone completely mad in Boots. I wanted to share my purchases with you because I picked up some real bargains, and when I checked my receipt I couldn't believe how much money I saved, and how many points I earned!

Oral B Pro 2000 Electric Toothbrush: £34.99 (Supposed to be £69.99)
I have been weighing up whether to buy an expensive electric toothbrush for some time now. I'm obsessed with having white teeth, but I'm not ready to commit hundreds of pounds towards professional whitening just yet. My dentist only recommends Oral B, and as I suffer with sensitive gums and teeth this will be perfect for me. It has a sensor which tells you if you are brushing too hard, and a timer.

Oral B Precision Clean Replacement Brush Heads: £11.99 (Supposed to be £17.99)
Even though the toothbrush comes with a brush head already, I thought I would stock up while everything was so cheap!

Garnier Ultimate Blends 'The Sleek Restorer' Shampoo and Conditioner: 2 for £3
I've seen this advertised everywhere, and read some really amazing reviews, so thought I would give it a whirl. Whenever Autumn hits, my hair takes a turn for the worse, falling out a lot more and generally just looking more dull and dry. The Loreal Oils collection is also amazing, but I decided to go with Garnier as it was on offer.

Lee Stafford 'Hair Growth Treatment for hair that won't grow past a certain length': £8.49
I have repeatedly raved about this on my blog, and for me it is the holy grail of haircare. I've tried to have a few months without it in a bid to save money, but as I mentioned above, my hair has started falling out quite a lot, and this is really good for treating your roots and scalp and preventing this from happening. It also smells LUSH and let's face it, I want Rapunzel hair!

Seventeen Phwoarr Paint Heavy Duty Under Eye Concealer: £5.49
Again, I've read amazing things about this on the Internet, and decided to try it out while Boots were holding 3 for 2 on cosmetics and haircare. I was a bit disappointed that my local Boots only had two shades available, but I'm hoping the 'Fair' one will be OK! I haven't been getting much sleep lately so I've got high hopes for this!

Kate Moss Lasting Finish Matt Lipstick in '107': £5.49 (but FREE on my 3-for-2)
This was on my latest wishlist that I posted. I love the colour berry in general for Autumn/Winter, and love the Matte finish. I've done a quick swatch to show you - I think it's gorgeous! From trying it on so far, it lasts forever and ever and ever (I've even done the food and drink test, pigging out on Maltesers and Coke, just for experimental purposes for you guys of course...)

Have you gone mad in Boots lately? What do you think of my purchases?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

My Christmas Favourites from Boots: Under £10

My Christmas shopping is truly well under way! I am literally so excited for Christmas this year, and can't wait to throw on my Christmas jumper and listen to the good old christmas classics wherever I go! Not to mention the films, and the food... 

I love Boots 12 months of the year, but never more so than at Christmas! Not only does their Christmas range make really nice gifts, but they're all on 3 for 2 which means you can pick up some real bargains. (Not that I'm a Scrooge or anything)

Here is a quick guide of my top picks of Boots Christmas Gifts this year, and the best thing of all is that everything you see here is under £10! So you don't even have to trawl through hundreds of pages on Boots website. Consider it an early Christmas present from me to you!

For Her
Little Miss Princess Mug and Hot Chocolate Set, £10
Soap and Glory Clean Getaway Travel Set, £10
Yankee Candle Small Jar in 'Soft Blanket', £8.39
Joules Fizzing Bath Bulbs, £6
Wonderland Cotton Tail Ceramic Cotton Wool Dispenser, £10

For Him
Mini Baileys Bottle and Glass, £6
The Jelly Bean Factory Christmas Gourmet Jelly Bean Selection Can, £6
Nivea for Men Originals Regime Trio, £10
The Handy & Useful Driver's Glovebox Kit, £8 (It is listed under Men, but I think this is good for any driver!)
Ginger Fox Coaster Games, £8

What do you think of my picks? If you enjoyed this post, please comment below letting me know, and I might do £20 and under next for you

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