Friday, 24 November 2017

Holland and Barett beauty kitchen

As much as I go on about the importance of looking after yourself, taking time to relax, I am guilty of sometimes working myself to the point of burn-out. This month alone I have moved house, gone on holiday, dealt with a bucket load of stress at work, been so poorly I've ended up in A&E, and been a 24/7 shoulder to cry on for a very close friend with their personal issues. I'm not going to lie, I'm physically and mentally exhausted! If there is one thing that makes it possible for me to instantly relax and unwind though, it has to be a good pamper night. I was super excited then when I heard that Holland and Barrett were opening their ‘Beauty Kitchen’ with a range that almost felt made for me – “Chill me”.

100% natural, 100% effective, 100% affordable are the promises of the Beauty Kitchen, available both online and in selected refurbished stores. It comes in 6 different ranges ‘Love me’, ‘Inspire me’, ‘Wake me’, Refresh me’, ‘Spoil me’, and my favourite, ‘Chill me’, which has strong scents of lavender and rosemary – my favourites! I was lucky enough to be sent a little goodie box from the beauty kitchen to try.

The chill-me hand soap is a beautiful spectrum of different shades of purple, it has a relaxing scent of lavender that is strong and long-lasting, resistant to other strong scents that can sometimes take over (I’m guilty of getting coffee on my hands most days). What is even better about this is how soft it leaves your hands after use, I have now got it next to my kitchen sink to help moisturise my hands after the abuse they go though cooking and cleaning.

My bath was made perfect with the bath-bomb, I tried it after my first run of three years – so I desperately needed the relaxation! It dissolved quickly turning my bath the same colour as parma-violets, and smelt gorgeous. It wasn’t as strong as other bath bombs can be either so I could wash my hair without risking it getting greasy. The best bit? The bomb is split into two halves meaning you get double the use for the same money.

My absolute favourite was the 60-second manicure. I like to take a break from my acrylics once every few months to let my nails recover from the damage of having them done. Usually this means I take weeks of buffing and moisturising to get them back to normal and to get them growing again. With the use of this, it took just two weeks. The product is like an oily exfoliating scrub that buffs away ridges, moisturises nail beds, and stimulates growth in 1 short minute. 

I was so happy when I learnt that there was a store local to me in York that stocked the products so that I could go and try out some more goodies. The new layout of the store looked fantastic, and the staff were amazingly helpful in going through the different products and what they can be used for. I definitely think that Beauty Kitchen lives up to its promises, and their products are now something I now use every day. If you have a beauty kitchen store near you pop in and see what you think! (if not, then the products are also available online)



Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Rosannah Style Party

Image isn't everything, but when it takes only 7 seconds for us to form a first impression you are more likely to be judged by your outfit than your kind-heartedness and your volunteering, which is something we all worry about in professional situations like job interviews and important meetings. To be honest before I started university my wardrobe is something I very rarely considered, and the idea that different colours could suit people in different ways was something I had never comprehended - that is until I had an incident with a yellow dress that made me look like Orville crossed with a canary that made me vow to sort out what I wear! 

Thankfully, there are people who understand style, and have businesses that can offer you a colour consultation and a 'style party' to get you started on understanding what suites you. I turned for help at Roseannah,  a fair-trade company in Orchard Square, Sheffield. Rosannah sells a selection of accessories, clothes, scarves, jewellery, that are fairly traded and ethically sauced, with the proceeds going towards helping restore lives affected by the horrors of human trafficking, through charities in the UK and abroad. Their mission is to restore lives affected by poverty in developing countries and enable people to take control of their lives through trade, education, and economic independance

The owner of the company, Rachel,  also hosts Style Parties, where people get a colour consultation to see what shades and tones suit them best, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to one with some lovely bloggers a few months ago. 
Roseannah ethical style
Roseannah ethical style
Roseannah ethical style

The shop is possibly one of the most photogenic places I have ever visited, it is pristine in clean white which makes all the colours of the stock stand out. Against one wall there are large floor-to-ceiling mirrors with chairs in front of them, which is where the consultation took place. As I took a seat in front of the mirror Rachel started with a silver and gold piece of material lay next to my face, we were told to see which colour made subtle changes to my face - such as making me look younger, taking away my dark circles, and making me generally look healthier. We then repeated the process with warm and cool shades of red, blue, and pink. It turned out I suit "cool bright" colours best, and it was amazing to see that wearing them colours next to my face could actually make me look like I had a face lift!

Roseannah ethical style

After the consultation I got chance to nosey around the shop. As Roseannah works closely with charities around the world which work to empower the workers and pay a fair wage, all their products are ethical, fair trade, and sustainable. What's more is that, unlike a lot of charity products which you can buy, they are also so stylish and fashionable enough to wear with pride - especially with my new wardrobe! If you want to check out Roseannah they can be found in Orchard Square, upstairs, next to Starbucks, or online here.


Friday, 13 October 2017

Beautiful Things - Crochet the easy way

As I was growing up we had a beautiful crochet blanket that my great grandma had made, it lived in my room and was my absolute favourite thing. Easily over 100 years old, it brought me so so much comfort. I wanted to create my own for my kids in the future, but back then I wouldn't have known where to start. Fast-forward a few years, still when I was a much littler, much cuter Kate, my grandma taught me how to knit. I thought I had ‘got it’ and I spent hours and hours sat clicking needles, determined to make my mum a little scarf for her birthday (I thought I'd work my way up to the blanket)– Little did I know at the time that my grandma was fixing my shoddy work between visits, and the scarf I eventually presented to my mother was more of a sign of nanna's hard work and talent than my own. 

In fact, I only discovered this truth when I tried knitting again in university, only for it to unravel on me and fall apart. I put the needles down for good when I spent an entire evening watching Youtube videos trying to crochet a small owl yet could not physically make them become circular… Needless to say I’m not naturally creative and crafty – but what I lack in ability I make up for in determination. (Turns out the owl instructions were in American as craft-guru Claire from Beautiful things explained to me later on).
Beautiful Things crochet kit.
Photo property of Claire Mackaness.

Fast Forward a few months, I was scouring twitter for something new to try and stumbled upon a new way to learn how to crochet. Beautiful Things by Claire Mackaness is a small craft workshop in Essex which hosts classes for anybody who wants to learn a new craft, from dress-making to knitting. Thankfully for us northerners they also offer a virtual course online which consists of a 90-minute tutorial video, and access to an exclusive Facebook support group. I signed up for the semi-virtual “Crochet the Easy Way” course, a pinch at only £25.

I have to admit, I was a little sceptical to begin with. I am not creatively gifted in the slightest, and I have already spent HOURS of my life watching very confusing tutorials on the topic in the past, the last thing I wanted to do is waste even more of my time and energy only to end up with another ball of tangled wool. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.

The video tutorial was really easy to follow – even for somebody as clumsy and left-handed as myself. I soon found myself making stitches without really over-thinking the motions that I was going through. By the end of the session Claire had the viewers make a crochet rose. I would obviously post a picture on here of mine had I not taken it apart to use the wool as part of my childhood dream of making a blanket, which I'm now one step closer to doing! (I will totally post a picture of the blanket when I finish it, its gonna be huge!) 

I would definitely recommend these virtual courses for anybody who has always wanted to learn a craft, but been a little confused where to start, or what to do. Even better – if you are closer to Claire why don’t you pop in and pay a visit? 


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The story of my worst ever date

Alright, Story time…
Around this time last year I was sat in hospital after an operation feeling utterly sorry for myself. I had only broken up with my ex a few days earlier, my family was miles away, and none of my friends could get off work to be there for me. I was completely alone, and on so much anaesthetic and pain medication that I was completely helpless. Needless to say this was not the perfect time for me to be making any decisions, but in my desperation to never be lonely and vulnerable again, I somehow found myself swiping my way through Tinder. A few days later my phone pinged telling me I had a new match, let’s call him Adam. His picture wasn’t exactly my usual type, but he wasn’t awful looking and was amazingly sweet when we were messaging and getting to know each other, so I gave him a chance and we arranged a date. When the date rolled around he seemed eager, driving 50 miles to pick me up and take me out, it almost seemed as if I had found a rare gem amongst the horror stories of Tinder. 

As you can probably guess by the posts title, the date did not live up to my expectations. The first warning sign was the car. As I perched on my garden wall in my favourite summer dress waiting to be picked up a lime green boy racer sped past with its music blaring sped down my road, did a U turn, and pulled up. I was internally screaming for it not to be my date… needless to say, it was. I nervously got in the car, pushing aside the empty fast-food wrappers and cans of lynx, and ignoring the fact he let out a rather loud fart as I got in. I tried not to let my heart sink as we went towards the city centre to see what he had planned. 

Turns out, he hadn’t planned. We wandered through the city centre aimlessly for a while discussing options, appreciating the sunny weather, generally making small-talk until he asked if there were any Italian restaurants nearby. I was impressed, I hadn’t expected him to remember my favourite food, so I reeled off a few delicious independent restaurants I’d tried before until he finally settled on one. Once we got into the restaurant and got seated things slowly got worse… I was careful to go for an option that:

A. didn’t stink (I hadn’t written off a good night kiss at this point), and
B. couldn’t go straight down my dress.

I ended up settling on the Risotto, while he went for pizza. When I went to order a glass of wine with the meal he interrupted and said I would have a coke. What mate? No alcohol? I don’t even like coke unless it’s diet! Waiting for the food to arrive we got given some of the kids colouring packs by the waiter. This was the moment he could have redeemed himself and drawn something cute, maybe the two of us eating on our first date you’re thinking? - you’re wrong. The boy drew ‘Ebola on a plate’ and proceeded to turn the finger-puppet figure into a trans, heroin-addicted prostitute… then put it on the wall for everyone to see. I sank further and further down my chair wanting the ground to swallow me up. When the food arrived I sat trying to daintily eat my choice, only to look up and see him rolling up his pizza and devouring huge chunks at once. He ate the entire thing in under 5 minutes, only stopping between mouthfuls to let out the occasional loud burp. I finished my meal eating alone while he proceeded to tell me how him and his friends had a Facebook page where they try to out-offend each other. The waiter couldn’t stop laughing, I wanted nothing more than to escape. Ask Italian, please put windows in your toilets for me to climb out of next time?

When we left the restaurant he decided he wanted dessert, and decided we should head to a nearby ice cream parlour. Ok, at this point the date was doomed anyway and I should’ve just made my excuses and gone home, but I really like ice cream. You’re probably thinking the date couldn’t get much worse? You’re wrong. We sit at the ice cream parlour and it slowly fills up with kids popping in on their way home from school, the guy gets increasingly racist, and increasingly loud. I was beyond embarrassed and trying to get him to shut up whilst eating my way through brain-freeze to get out of there as quickly as possible.  The burping and farting didn’t stop until the moment he dropped me off at home… at the end of all that he leaned in for a kiss outside my house. I have never got out of a car so quickly in my life.

So fast-forward a few hours and I was left at home crying down the phone to my best friend about how awful the date was and wondering if I was destined to be single for the rest of my days. Needless to say I pretty much gave up on Tinder that very moment. If I was gonna find love, it wasn’t amongst the guys I was finding on Tinder. 


Saturday, 26 August 2017

How to fit your workout to your budget

When I was young I would live on sweets and junk food and stay relatively slim ignoring the promises from my elders that “one day it would catch up with me”. Little did I know, they were right! Being a little older now my lifestyle has slowed down, rather than spending my time running around with my friends I am spending the majority of my time either behind the wheel of my car, or behind my desk at work. Needless to say, the weight is catching up with me.

I’ve always been a little intimidated by gyms, and with trying to save my pennies for moving house at the end of the year I was beginning to think that my ideas of losing weight and saving money were completely incompatible. With a little digging I have found that there are options for every budget when it comes to getting fit, and even some ways to make money whilst you drop pounds!

Personal Trainer sessions
  • These usually involve exercises completely tailored to you, your goals, and your abilities. 
  • You can go at your own pace as much/little as you want. 
  • You will be shown the correct form to each exercise so you don’t get injured.
  • The PT is your own personal cheerleader. 
  • The sessions may also include dietician advice and guidance.
  • The PT will be fully qualified and have the knowledge and experience needed to help you - this should mean they are qualified to help if you have any special medical conditions that may effect your fitness. 

  • They can be really bloody expensive, I've seen prices as high as £1700 for 8 weeks. at 3x per week - that's £70 per session, or enough for three high-end gym memberships.   
  • It can be difficult to find someone who you work well with and trust, this is especially important if you do have a condition that needs to be taken into consideration during your training. 
  • You often have to pay upfront, which can be difficult when the prices are so high. 

Contract gym memberships
  • This often includes a number of free sessions with PT's to get a programme drawn up for you to follow.
  • Gyms hold a huge variety of classes which gives you a chance to try new things, and interact with others whilst getting fit. 
  • Some gyms have fitness assessments to measure progress and health, Nuffield Health have a full health MOT (and even have a reward scheme for those who reach their goals) 
  • You get access to great equipment that you would never have the time/space for at home. In the case of 'specialist' gyms like Cross-fit you also get access to some great training and advice to go with it. 

  • Sharing with other members in peak times can mean fighting for equipment, waiting around to get on a specific piece, and occasionally wiping off others sweat when you get there. 
  • The PT's aren't specialised, they won't necessarily know how to work around injuries or other conditions, they will not include diet advice, and some may not yet be qualified (but will likely be working towards a qualification) 
  • Often the program a PT gives you isn’t custom to your needs, it is an off-the-shelf plan that they have given to half a dozen other people regardless of their goals. 
  • You will get tied-up in a membership for up to 12 months, if you are definitely going to use the membership for this time then it will be worth it, but we all know your enthusiasm may fade and you'll be left with a £50-a-month bill for something you aren't going to use. (Pay-as-u-gymcan be a way of getting into the nicer gyms without the contract)

P-A-Y-G Gyms
  • These offer cheap no-frills access to the same equipment that are at every other gym, they usually have a low monthly rate, and no contract.
  • They are likely to have classes to help you mix things up a bit, though occasionally these will mean paying a little extra.
  • The PT's at these gyms (like The Gym and Pure Gym) do a certain amount of work for the gym in exchange for being able to use the facilities to train their own clients, this means they're all qualified and there is usually a veriety of specialisms at each location. 
  • Sometimes the PT's offer group PT sessions at a really low rate, pure gym offer group sessions for up to £5 per time, and usually have enough time for the PT to hear everyone's individual needs and interests and cater the session to them - a great way of seeing if you like the trainer before getting 1:1 sessions. 

  • The PT’s work for the gym in exchange for being able to use the space with their own clients, you’re unlikely to get a free programme done by any of them, which you could get in bigger gyms. 
  • Cheap and cheerful can mean sweaty and crowded at peak times.
  • You definitely won’t get any diet advice, and may even see sponsored “supplement” products in the vending machines that aren't  necessarily good for you.

DIY Fitness – Aps, online programs, books
  • These are cheap, free, or could even make you money! If you're with Bounts you can earn money by being fit, going to the gym, or even just tweeting, and Diet Bet can help you raise money as you drop pounds.
  • Can do whatever you want, whenever you want - there are hundreds of videos on youtube, community teams, and books which can be used to get fit. 
  • It can be done in the great outdoors! The forestry commission have “wild running” routes that you can take to for training, and a free 6-week programme for you to follow. "Run Forest, Run!”

  • You are your own motivator, and a Come Dine With Me marathon with a bottle of wine can look a lot nicer than a run in the park.
  • There’s no professional on hand – If your form is off or you aren't doing what is right for your goals it may be too late when you finally figure it out, or worse – you could get injured.

Hopefully this has helped you consider some of the options available to help you get fit before you jump-in and spend a fortune! Do you have a budget fitness secret up your sleeve? 


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

What really happens at a festival

Festival season Is synonymous with summer isn't it? From the moment Radio1 start harping on about their 'Big Weekend' we know that months of sunshine, barbecues and live music is just wound the corner. Hundreds of thousands of us pack up our tents and go and party away our weekends in muddy fields to catch a glimpse of our favourite bands, and our social media feeds fill up of amazing pictures of these celebrations. It is hard not to get envious while you sing along from the sofa watching it live on BBC3, wine in hand. This year I went to Download, and with festival season coming to a close I'm going to share some of the thoughts we all have at some point over these festivals, (especially if you camp!).

"I NEED to take an outfit for each day, makeup, shoes, food, alcohol, and all my camping gear"
We pack up enough for a small family to survive a month, put it all on our backs, drag it through miles and miles of queues and muddy fields, then probably use less than half of it. In reality we could make things far easier for ourselves by either getting the things we need there (some camping gear isn't too badly priced there - we got a stove and an air bed cheaper than Amazon), or by splitting the load with our friends and sharing when we're there. Try to pack light, honestly you will thank me on the last day.

"Oh my god that organic farm burger sounds delicious"
A lot of the food at festivals actually isn't bad, but boy oh boy is it expensive! We're talking at least £10 per meal, which can end up being hundreds by the end of the weekend. Plus by the Sunday you will likely never want to see fast food again in your life. Food is the one thing I would recommend packing, take some fruit with you and snacks at the very least. For those who are able I would even recommend pre-cooking some meals you can eat cold for at least the first few days. You can get certain things at normal prices within the venue too, sausages, bacon, and bread were all around the same price as a supermarket at download (essentials, of course).

"For the love of god get me water"
At most festivals you're talking £2.50-£3 for a bottle of pop or water, and about the same for a tea or coffee. Take pop with you if that is what you are going to drink, and I really do recommend making your own hot drinks there. What is even easier is taking a bottle of cordial and refilling water bottles each day for free. You can't take open water bottles into the arena, but you can take empty ones. Think savvy.

"These loos are really luxurious"
Ok, nobody has ever had that thought at a festival have they? Take wet wipes, take hand sanitizer, and figure out the best loos to use at each point of the day. The ones in the 'village' and arena are generally cleaned overnight and so are fresh first thing in the morning, the ones in the camping grounds are usually both in the early hours of the morning and the middle of the afternoon (when everyone is watching bands). Use this information wisely.

Get. Quiet. Camping
Seriously, you may not use it when you get there, but if you value your sleep you will need it. I spent one of my nights at download listening to people having camp sing-songs and overhearing paramedics working on a girl that had OD'd at 4am in the morning, while I was desperately trying to sleep off a combination of sun stroke and hangover. Not fun. Yeah, I'd have still had the sun stroke and hangover if I was in quiet camping, but I would have definitely had more chance of recovering from it.

Don't get me wrong here, I don't want to be a 'Debbie downer' in the slightest. I LOVE festivals and am planning on going back again next year, but now I have learnt my lessons and will be going back far better prepared.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The secret to frizz-free hair

Frizzy hair has been a curse I have lived with since I was a child. I can leave the house with it poker straight in the morning, and it is guaranteed to be looking like candyfloss before I have even made it to the car. The longer I grow my hair, the worse the problem gets, and obviously if I dare to dye out my increasing number of silver strands I'm pretty much signing myself up for weeks of bad hair days. I god sick of the daily struggle of making myself look presentable, and spent a few weeks of trying every tip the internet had to offer (August is apparently anti-frizz month too, what better time?). Thankfully, there were a few things that made a bit of a difference, and weren't too difficult to incorporate into my daily routine . 
  • Avoid washing daily - Washing hair daily strips it of its natural oils, leaving the ends dry and prone to frizz. Try to maximise the amount of time between washes and allow the hair to recover. I tend to use dry shampoo on the 'trouble spots' like my fringe between washes to help with this. When you do wash your hair shampoo from the roots down, and condition from the ends up.  
  • Blow-dry - Hair is infinitely more manageable if it has been blow-dried into style, rather than waiting until it is dried and attacking it with straighteners (guilty as charged!). Use the hood on the drier to get a smooth finish, and avoid using the top temperatures. Also, avoid towel drying as this only causes more damage. 
  • Use protection - Whether you are blow-drying your hair, or just running the straighteners through it before leaving the house, use a product that protects your hair from the heat! If you are just doing a small section then adding the product to a comb and running it through can prevent it from getting oily. 

  • Condition condition condition - I always try to do one overnight leave-in conditioning treatment a month, and it doesn't have to break the bank. Whilst you can get these done at any good salon, or buy the products to use in your own home, you can also use DIY conditioning products such as olive oil, or coconut oil. I also think it is important to condition between washes (dry shampoo can leave your hair, well, dry). Rather than use traditional leave-in sprays I have started to use de-tangle sprays finding they leave my hair less greasy looking. 
  • Trim - I used to be the kind of person who only goes to the hairdressers when the split ends took up more length than the healthy hair (I'm sorry). I couldn't accept that getting my hair cut would actually help it grow, but thankfully I saw the benefit. I still don't go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks as recommended and have a full cut & finish, because I'm not made of money, but I do try to get a dry trim in every 2 months to keep the volume and the split ends at bay. My stylist Rebecca at The hair studio no longer weeps at the quality of the hair she has to work with either! 


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Back in the blogging saddle

Starting a new blog feels a lot like getting a beautiful new notebook and not knowing quite what to fill it with. I've sat in front of many beautiful notebooks staring at blank pages over the years not wanting to ruin them by jumping in too quick, but none quite as long as this post. Maybe that's just my inner stationary addict talking though? Maybe it's the pressure of posting online after almost 12 months of absence? Truth is, I haven't been feeling myself for quite a while, so I took a step back from the Internet and let my life heal. My entire life has gone through a bit of a transformation since then and I thought I'd dedicate my first post on here to letting you know what has been changing.

Last time I was regularly active online I had been with my partner for almost 6 years. When our relationship ended so did a lot of the routine and stability I had in my life - you don't realise quite how much you depend on a person until they are no longer in your life, and I sucked at being single.

 After a few disastrous Tinder dates I found myself seeing my high-school crush for a few months, and needless to say things weren't as cute as you would first imagine. After months of getting cancelled on last minute with no explanation, ghosted for weeks at a time, and constant abusive texts accusing me of cheating on him, my self esteem was at rock bottom. Eventually I walked away. 

Then along came my Prince Charming who rescued me from the dragon on his noble stead. Ok, there was no horse. "Charming" may have been an exaggeration, and he definitely isn't a prince, but he was perfect for me. We have now been together for about 9 months and I am finally starting to feel my confidence growing again. I am not quite back to how I was before dating the fuck-boy, but I am getting there one day at a time.

Partially due to breaking up with the ex, and partially due to living so damn far away from work, I had to move out of my bedsit-for-one, and into a spare-room flat in Derby. Moving to a new city almost 50 miles from everywhere I know and love has been a little daunting, especially since moving as an adult is so much different to moving as a student, but I am finally beginning to learn my way around here and can see me making a future I enjoy. Granted, living in someone spare room in their family home isn't ideal, but it has its perks. 

Now, this is where the real roller coaster has been recently. If you follow me on any other social media you may know that I lost my job in March of this year. After promises of a career, management opportunities, and development within the business - the news of redundancy came as a complete shock to me. I have had more interviews since then than I can count, and skipped between two mind-numbingly dull temporary jobs since then. One of these had me crying alone in my car every lunch, both were no where near challenging me enough (or paying me enough!) to make me want to stay. Just as I was about to resign myself to a life of sitting at a desk 9-5.30 every day I finally got lucky and landed this job of my absolute dreams. I am now about a month in to working as an Assistant Psychologist with children, and it may be the best thing to ever happen to me. 

Now I'm gonna be honest, I haven't really had a life recently. I kept telling myself that when I got a new job I would start to settle into the city 'cause I would then be able to afford to do things, or when I move later this year I would get settled in better as I'd have my own space to entertain in. Let's be honest here, I could make up excuses to be a recluse until the end of time, introvert is in my nature after all but I need to get out there at some point. Now that I am feeling confident enough to begin blogging again I am also feeling like I can get involved in the community, meet new people, take up hobbies. Over the next few weeks and months I am going to make a real effort to settle in properly to the place I am going to be calling home.

It has been a massive transformation in my life over the last few months, and I am hoping that it continues like this and that I can continue to blog about my journey. For now I'm back, what have I missed with you guys?

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