Friday, 16 December 2016

The West Coast Drive; Trip of a LIFETIME

At the end of September my husband and I flew out to San Francisco to do the West Coast Drive. This is something we've wanted to do together for years and was probably the best holiday we've ever been on. I recorded a tonne of footage but all of it is on my GoPro as at the moment I'm lacking a computer powerful enough to handle the editing (I'm using a tablet!). I need to see if I can borrow a PC from somebody. We started the holiday with a few days in San Francisco and did pretty much every touristy thing out there. We rode the tram, walked down to Pier 39, took a tour around the Redwood Parks and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. I love San Francisco and it's just as magical every time I'm lucky enough to visit. Amazing seafood too! We picked up a Convertible Mustang (*ladyboner*) from the city centre and headed down the coast to Monterrey. Monterrey Aquarium is the best aquarium in the world and I can't rate it highly enough- definitely worth a visit if you can make it!


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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Becoming an Introvert


Your usual stalking can resume; I'M BACK! I always said that I would blog for as long as it felt like a hobby rather than homework, and it was getting to feel like a chore so I took a little break. Is 3 months a 'little break'? Either way it felt good. I'm not saying I'm now bursting with ideas (quite the contrary) but it feels like fun again.

Absolutely loads has happened in the past few months and most of it has been super positive. I got a new job which I'm still getting to grips with. It's the same company but a bit of a tougher set of responsibilities which after 2 years in my old role I was ready for. It's a lot more challenging than my previous role but will be good for me in the long run. The only problem is that I don't think that the fact I'm so introverted is at all helpful when joining a new team of lovely people.

Up until recently I would never have described myself as shy. I don't know if I am 'shy' in the conventional sense of the word. I love meeting new people and I don't find it difficult to make conversation with people at all. I don't feel nervous walking into a bar on my own. I don't get anxious if I have to eat my lunch alone in a cafe. I can talk to a room of people confidently without much effort at all. Why am I all of a sudden finding it so difficult to be myself in work?! I've always been a believer in the "Don't talk just to be heard" mantra. I find it difficult to be around people who are consistently loud. I find myself shrinking into the background more and more (and enjoying it there!) until eventually I'm left out of things. As the weeks and months have progressed its become clear that I need to find my manballs (soz feminists), and not sink into the familiar sensation of being constantly overwhelmed by tiny things. I think this essay is essentially written instruction to myself that I'm going to try to be a better me after the Christmas break. Sorry that you had to read it.

Work aside, things are amazing. The house makes me SO happy because it's finally exactly how I want it to be (clean and covered in Christmas shit from head to toe). This past 3 months has been a real awakening for me in terms of relationships (in a good way!). There are some people in the world who honestly and sincerely listen when you talk, and take time out to check on you, and I've found that invaluable over the past few months. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Life feels different but it feels good. I MISSED YA'LL. More blogposts on topics that nobody cares about on the way... xx

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Monday, 12 September 2016

BRB

I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and to be honest blogging is literally the last thing I have time for right now. In my case, blogging is definitely more of a hobby than homework, and I'd rather announce that I'm taking some time out than post shit content for the sake of it. Normal service will resume once I've got some more time on my hands, probably in October when I'm back from California. More on that later! Love you all xx
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Thursday, 25 August 2016

DFS Sofas: A Comfortable Review


I recently purchased a couple of 3 seater sofas from DFS. That sentence implies that this was a casual purchase, but actually this was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me for about 6 months. I had been BEGGING my husband to let me have new sofas as I was so sick of my old one, but I did have my doubts about DFS. I do see the occasional moan on Twitter, and the constant "DFS Sale" adverts can be a bit unsettling, but I honestly have to say that I am SO HAPPY with the sofas.

I bought 2 of the 3-seater sofas from the Revive range, both for the living room. I bought them in cream with the view to accessorizing them with a few throws and cushions. I got the sofas on finance via the DFS website which meant that they were totally interest free (why don't more companies offer this?!) and I was given an estimated delivery date as soon I had signed the finance agreement online (which took minutes and was super simple).

The store phoned me around 10 days later to let me know that the sofas were finished (they are made to order rather than being pre-made and stored in a damp warehouse for months) and to confirm a delivery date. And do you know what? THE DELIVERY ARRIVED ON THE CONFIRMED DELIVERY DATE! The delivery team was totally amazing and very clean. I was petrified that I would end up with scratches on the wall and mud traipsed through the house but the delivery guys were very polite and put down sheets to avoid making any mess at all. They fully assembled the sofas and treated them very well, and they took away all of the packaging after carefully unpacking them.


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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Decadence, a Marc Jacobs Review


I wanted to write a quick post to let you know how AMAZING the new fragrance by Marc Jacobs is! It's called Decadence and I've been obsessed with it since Feel Unique started shipping out testers with their general stock in July.




I have been looking for a new fragrance for ages. I usually use Giorgia Armani Code for Women, but it's pretty heavy and is more of a special occasion scent. I've fallen out of love with a few of the perfumes I used to use on a regular basis (DKNY Apple, Chanel Chance, Ralph Lauren Romance) and I was looking for something new (luckily my husband noticed the 900 hints I dropped over the course of two weeks...).

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Social Media: How to Enjoy Your Social Platforms Again



Twitter is my favourite social media platform, by far. It's very personal: you choose exactly who to follow and what sort of content you are interested in. You can pick Twitter up any time of day and find new and engaging content. I love that my feed looks different even if I refresh it 5 times in 1 minute. Twitter is the best place to expel your persistent urges to tell everybody about your day, whether they find them interesting or not. So, how can you make your Twitter experience better?

  • Twitter is NOT PERSONAL. Oh, that girl you sat next to in English in school is on Twitter? WHO GIVES A SHIT. If they aren't posting content that you are interested in then don't follow them. Twitter is essentially a newsboard with news that is completely tailored to you. I follow and unfollow new people every single day on Twitter, depending on what they're posting. It is a feed for YOU, so be selfish with it. 
  • Twitter does not facilitate comments, or "feelings" towards tweets. You are able to 'Like' tweets (Like has replaced Favourite, which always felt like too much of a commitment!) and you are obviously able to retweet other tweets. You aren't able to use those awful Facebook "Sad" or "Angry" to emote sentiment towards a tweet. Twitter is much less about 'conversation' and doesn't invite people to offer their opinions on your content. This is great if you, like me, aren't really interested in what people think about your tweets. Basically, don't be scared that you have to be funny and interesting on Twitter. You don't have to try that hard. I know loads of people that DO care what you had for breakfast this morning, myself being one of them :)


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Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to Survive the "Work Night Out"


 1. DON'T OVERDRESS

It can be difficult to know what to wear. It's tempting to throw on your Friday night finest with skyscraper heels, but take a minute to think about what kind of evening you're heading to. Is it a pub? You'll need flats... Is it a bar? You might need to prepare to face an outdoor seating area. You don't want to be the girl that everyone is waiting for as she totters between venues in the rain...


 2. EAT DINNER

Let's be honest- a work night out in Britain will include alcohol every single time. It's easy to get swept up in the evening and head straight from the office to the vodka. THIS IS A BAD PLAN. If you wouldn't go out on a Saturday night without eating a meal beforehand then don't do it on your work night out. You'll end up leaving early, with 'Trish from accounting' responsible for finding a cab that will take you home. You giant mess.


 3. DON'T DRINK TOO MUCH

This is by far the most cringe thing you can do on a work night out. I've seen it 900 times. The new girl decides that she's going to be "the one that can drink you under the table". 2 hours later she's crying in the smoking area and she's given the boss her entire life story. Did you know that she can do the splits? YOU DO NOW. THE GLASS COLLECTOR KNOWS. THE FREAKIN' BAR STAFF KNOW. Don't be that guy.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The George, Winnersh, Reading | Food Poisoning?


The George is a Chef & Brewer pub situated on the riverside in Winnersh, Reading. It used to be an adorable little venue with lots of British character and lovely staff. I had my graduation dinner there back in 2011 and to this day I remember exactly what I had: a trio of mini British pies with butter mash potato and fresh vegetables. It was delicious.

We decided to visit The George last night at around 6pm. It was near enough empty except for a few old couples at the back. We were seated at the back of the restaurant at a table overlooking the river which was lovely. We ordered a couple of Appletizers. Service was pretty slow but we weren't in a rush so we didn't really mind waiting for menus and drinks etc. However, the meal itself was a hugely disappointing experience.

I ordered the Farmhouse Pate. It was a bit sad looking. The pate itself was fine but definitely not fresh and had obviously come from a packet. On the menu, the pate is served with "toasted bloomer". A bloomer, according to Wikipedia, is a crusty loaf with rounded ends, and typically with several parallel diagonal slashes across its top. I have been generous enough to illustrate a bloomer below...


This is not what I was served. I was served one piece of toast (like, '20p a loaf from Tesco bread' toast) that was miraculously both burned and cold. It came with a slab of butter. The last time I visited The George the pate was served with melba toast which is delicious. This starter was like something my little brother had created in food tech class because he had been asked to.
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Monday, 25 July 2016

Standing Still


The past month has been interesting, to say the very least. In some ways I've had a really good month and in other ways I've had a pretty tough one. I'm smiling today, which is what counts I guess.

I have a few close friends who are going through some testing times right now. Testing is the most polite way I can think to phrase it. It's hard to know what to do, or what to say, and the most frustrating thing for me is being unable to help. My instinct is to throw myself into the situation and try to find ways to distract from what they are going through but unfortunately a glass of wine and a weekend away isn't going to provide the remedy they need. As I get older I feel like the post-breakup heartbreak dramas are becoming less common and now I feel like when things go wrong they go seriously wrong. I realise I'm being vague but it's not my place to go into detail.

I think that I've been so affected by what is happening to my friends because it just puts my own life in harsh perspective. I've spent a few hours awake at night getting myself worked up about things that will likely never happen and I can't seem to switch off at night properly.

I was poorly last week and spent most of my time on the sofa with cold and flu tablets. It was the hottest week we've had in the UK for years so naturally I got the flu. I hate being off work but actually in hindsight I can admit that I needed a bit of a rest. My job has pressures that never feel overwhelming but are constant, and so can be draining.

In general, it would be ridiculous of me to claim that things are anything other than good. My husband finally relented and let me order two new sofas for the living room which I'm super excited about. The living room was the last bit of the house that I wasn't pleased with and I'm looking forward to getting it "how I want it". I've also bought a breakfast bar for the kitchen and I'm on the hunt for a couple of white barstools so that we can use the kitchen as more of a practical space. I think I'd cook more if we had somewhere to hang out and chat, so that will be nice. I've just arranged to have some decking built in the garden that I'm going to put the BBQ on which will free up the patio space. I'm already in love with the fact that I can sit in the garden and read a book or have a glass of wine; having an outside space is a really awesome thing.
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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Vibes


When you finish the financial year on 110% of target.


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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

I Need Your Help


It's impossible to know what to do or say when something awful happens to somebody you love. This week has really opened my eyes to the fact that actually you can develop such strong feelings for a friend that you have known a relatively short period of time.

In times of tragedy some people disappear from your lives to manage things quietly and on their own, and some people reach out to you for help. Some people pray. Some people light candles. Some people do nothing but trust that the positivity and love that they show to others on a daily basis is returned to them when they need the good karma the most.

I have a friend in need of prayers, and candles, and good karma. I have a friend that is somehow keeping all of her shit together during what is absolutely certainly the most devastating week of her life.

I don't know what you believe; actually that part doesn't matter at all. All I ask of my readers and of this amazing blogging community is that you do your thing, whatever that might be, and you do it hard, because this woman deserves the happy ending of her story. 

I'm with you always gal, you know who you are.
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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Dior 2-In-1 Prime & Conceal Stick Review


A couple of weeks ago I bought the Dior 2-In-1 Prime and Conceal stick in Shade 100 (Light). It's an innovative little product because not only does it work as a great concealer, but it also works as a primer for eyes and lips. I've been absolutely loving it this week because I've been working super long hours and suffering with some impressive bags under my eyes! I also discovered that this looks great underneath a liquid lipstick. One thing I would point out is that it doesn't really work underneath matte lip products because you need your lips to be moisturised rather than primed for the finish to look even on your lips.

Another thing the Dior Prime & Conceal stick is amazing for is touching up your makeup throughout the day. You can use it to cover dark circles, blemishes and also dark eyelids. Dior packaging is always high quality and the casing is sturdy enough to survive in the bottom of your handbag without cracking.
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Monday, 13 June 2016

Life Updates in June


I spent the past week with my family in a lovely villa in Kalkan, Turkey, and it was incredible. I don't have the usual post holiday blues that I've become accustomed to, but I think that might be because June is the last month of the financial year at work which means I have the opportunity to earn myself a pretty nice bonus payment. Is it still taboo to talk about how much money motivates me?

The holiday was perfect and it was exactly what I needed. We had a 6 bedroom villa with a private pool that was a few steps away from the Beach Club and walking distance to the bars and shops in the evening. I went with my husband, parents, siblings, Aunt & Uncle and a few cousins. I feel like I never see my brothers so it was really good to catch up with them, even if one did push me head first into a sea full of huge fish. Little bastard. I spent the week lying in the sun, swimming and eating pizzas (not at the same time).

Things are really good at the moment. I feel like I'm more in control of 'life' recently. I made the last payment on the wedding last month (note to brides-to-be: wedding bands are expensive) and I also reduced the balance on my credit card by quite a bit which has taken a huge amount of stress off my shoulders.

Unfortunately we lost my lovely Grandma one month ago as she succumbed to old age, as I guess we all will. I visited her in hospital a few times and never once heard a moan or complaint out of her. Whilst it was very sad for everybody, I'm glad that she's not in pain anymore. In the past month my family has really rallied together to make sure that my Grampy is coping and that all of Nans things are in order. It made me think a lot about how lucky I am to have a huge family around me, even if I don't see half of them nearly as much as I'd like to.
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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

TMI Review: The Mooncup!


If you are subject to sudden boughts of extreme cringiness or you happen to know me in real life then I'll apologise in advance for this TMI Review of...


Like every other woman on the planet, I bloody hate my period (pun intended). It hurts, it always comes when I don't want it to, and I've yet to find a way to say "I'm staying at home to cry and bleed" to my boss without getting the sack. The worst part (and sorry again to those of you who know me in real life) is the awkward desk to office bathroom dash with a secret tampie stuck down your bra, or the "FUCKING EW" part that comes when you need to change a sanitary pad in a meeting (not DURING the meeting of course. I should make it clear that I don't do that).


A couple of friends had been preaching to me about The Mooncup, along with other menstrual cups. I did my research, watched a few YouTube videos and was immediately turned off by the idea because I'm quite a squeamish person and this seemed a bit hippy to me. I didn't like the idea of having 'a cup' that I would need to change, especially when thinking about my desk job and using a public bathroom. It just doesn't seem practical, right?
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Dating Through the Ages... #MarriedLife


When I was young I watched a billion romcoms about dates; broken stilettos, 'foot pops', late night pizza; it was all so magical and romantic. It occurred to me that dating does somewhat change the longer you and your partner are together though, doesn't it?


YEAR ONE

OHHHH the year one dates. The YEAR ONE DATES. A lot of effort used to go into a year one date. Outfit planning started the evening before, and the restaurant was always something romantic and exciting, maybe even borderline expensive. Year one dates were about learning all you could about your new man and finding all of it 100% captivating and insightful... "Oh you don't think we should remain in the EU? That is SO FASCINATING!"

  • Outfit: Dress, heels, Mums posh fur lined coat
  • Dinner: Some sort of fish dish that you didn't 100% fancy but comes with vegetables rather than chips
  • Units of alcohol consumed: 1 small glass of wine


YEAR TWO

Year two is somewhat 'less' when it comes to forced romance but a lot more when it comes to 'weird'. It's definitely still Proper Date Night territory, but conversation about work and weather have been replaced by conversation about whether his sister ACTUALLY likes you, and what animal you would be in your next life. I'm going to be a cat, obviously.

  • Outfit: Jeans, heels, blouse
  • Dinner: Steak with mash potato and some token tenderstem broccoli 
  • Units of alcohol consumed: 2 small glasses of wine

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Thursday, 5 May 2016

Who Should You Vote For at UK Election Time?


Deciding who to vote for in any election can be a confusing process. In my experience, many of the parties seem to preach some ideas that I wholeheartedly agree with and some that I would strongly disagree with. I found this Election Analysis Tool and the results give you a very good insight into which party you most closely align with in terms of their mandates. If you find any of the questions confusing, click on "Other Stances". I found quite a few of my answers in this section...


My results were really insightful, and the tool creates handy infographics so that you can take a look into which policies align you with which party. I imagine the 2016 assessment is on the way, but the 2015 is still pretty relevant if you're interested!
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Golden Ball in Maidenhead; A Roast Review


A couple of Sundays ago my husband and I headed over to Maidenhead with my brother and sister to hit up some sweet sweet hangover Toby Carvery. They were absolutely rammed. We got there and realised that nothing on Gods green earth could justify a 1.5 hour wait for a Toby Carvery, so we decided to try the Golden Ball Pub & Kitchen over on Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead. I called ahead to let them know that we were coming & the staff were very accommodating and friendly even at 5 minutes notice (which is all we gave them!).

The Golden Ball is a lovely British pub serving beers, real ales and an amazing selection of stunning British food. It has a large and welcoming outside seating area and it is also dog friendly which gives the venue a comforting, homely feel.

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15 Photos That Will Give 90s Kids Serious Nostalgia


GOOD GOD THE FEELS. Also, how did we make it to adulthood with all of these choking hazards in our bedrooms?!





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Thursday, 14 April 2016

GIVEAWAY! Urban Decay NAKED2 BASICS Palette...


I'm running my first ever giveaway on Reviews at Random! I wanted to pick something that was absolutely worth winning, so I chose an Urban Decay NAKED2 palette. I'm absolutely obsessed with mine and it's full of gorgeous matte neutrals, all in 'Never Seen Before' shades. To enter, simply find the GIVEAWAY widget to the right of this post in the sidebar (or at the bottom if you're a mobile reader!) and Tweet to win. You can Tweet multiple times to boost your score, the winner will be chosen at random!


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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

How to Avoid Buying a TV License, Legally!


I've never had a TV license. I once payed towards a shared license we used at a student house in 2009, but this is only time I've ever paid any money towards a TV license fee out of my own pocket. I use my TV every day, mainly to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or to play Xbox games. Am I breaking the law? HELL NO.

I was living in my first house in Reading after my Uni graduation when a License Inspector first ever knocked on my door. "According to our records, you have not purchased a television license", droned the man. On this occasion I let him into my house to actually see that my TV was not hooked up to an aerial or any sort of Sky dish etc. He marked his form to say that I was "compliant in not owning a license" and we didn't hear from anyone again.

However, since I've moved into my new build house back in 2014 I've received 3 letters stating the corporal punishments in store for me for not paying for a TV license. These letters are pretty threatening and pretty bold, and I can understand why some people would just pay the TV license fee if they had any doubts at all that they were in the wrong. My letter stated the following:

  • We can apply to a court for access to your property.
  • An officer can take your statement under caution: anything you say to the officer can be used against your in court.
  • You risk a fine of up to £1000 plus legal costs
  • If your property is found to require a TV license you will still be required to purchase one

Dramatic, right?
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Monday, 11 April 2016

Fitbit Alta: an Honest Review


There are so many fitness bands on the market; the leading market manufacturers at the moment are Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin & the Microsoft Band. When Fitbit announced the Alta I really liked the look of it because it's the first one I've seen that is small and slimline rather than bulky with a large display. I don't wear a watch, and I hate the feeling of bracelets and watches, so I knew if I was going to buy a band I needed it to be lightweight so that I could forget about it. 

I went for the Fitbit Alta in plum. It costs £99 direct from the Fitbit online store, and it arrived on my doormat weeks before the pre-release shipping was even announced which was amazing. 



The Alta makes a great first impression. It ships with a small slimline charging cable which is great for charging in the office or on the go. It was very easy to set up simply by downloading the Fitbit app from the Apple App Store and enabling Bluetooth on both the band and my phone. The band takes information about your height, weight, age and other factors and optimizes targets based on your answers.
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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Review


I am so fickle when it comes to foundation. I have really sensitive combination skin which means that any foundation I use needs to be a liquid one that I can press powder over the top. However, I don't want it to be too pigmented with too much coverage; I tend to go for something light with SPF protection. For the past year I've been using the MAC Mineralize Moisture SPF Foundation. It was okay, but the product itself was slightly oily and wore off quite quickly with any exposure to "weather". Weather happens quite a lot in England. I thought I'd try the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation after reading a tonne of very positive reviews from people with combination skin. I have to say that I absolutely love it.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Clubhotel RIU Tikida Palmeraie: Marrakech by Night


On Friday I returned from an amazing week in Marrakech, Morocco. We stayed at the RUI Tikida Palmeraie which is a gorgeous hotel that has won a TripAdvisor Hall of Fame Award every single year since 2011. We stayed there for 10 days back in 2014 and completely fell in love with the city, so when I noticed that Thomson were advertising a week all inclusive for an excellent price we thought we would take a risk with the weather. The risk definitely paid off- we had a week of beautiful sunshine (zero rain!) and temperatures floated within the 25 degree range which was perfect for me as I'm pretty much allergic to strong sun and high temperatures.

The Edge of the Atlas Mountains on the Flight In

We flew with Thomson Airways and the flight out from Gatwick took a measly 2 hours 50 minutes due to some lucky tailwind. A typical flight between London and Morocco takes around 3.5 hours. The whole travel experience was super easy- the flight out was at 7am which wasn't particularly thrilling but it did mean that we had checked into the hotel by 12 mid day and were able to drop our bags off and grab some lunch and sunbeds.

The rooms at the RUI Tikida seem to be entirely comprised of twin rooms. I noticed a few Suites on the room upgrade list that possibly had double beds, but the standard issue room at this hotel comes with twin beds that are pushed together. It's not a huge inconvenience but it would be nice to choose whether you want a double or twin room and there were plenty of couples staying that I'm sure would have generated enough demand. Aside from this, the rooms are both spacious and clean. We had a room on the ground floor in a building that was behind the huge pool. We also had a little terrace area with a table and chairs that were lovely in the evening when the sun was at the right angle. Our room had a small but adequate television and a large clean bathroom which was lovely. One thing that I didn't enjoy much was the bedding that the hotel use. We had white bedsheets which were pressed and perfect, but on top of these sheets the hotel wrapped a sort of brown fleece type blanket around the bed. A blanket was definitely welcome because the temperature dropped significantly at night, but the fleeces are quite old and dirty looking. On close inspection I decided that they were definitely clean and smelled freshly laundered, but they weren't too inviting to climb under. I think a refresh may be in order!

Poolside View
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Monday, 21 March 2016

The "Get to Know Me" Tag


1. Do you have a middle name?
Yup- Elizabeth. With a "Z".

2. What was your favorite subject in school?
Either English or ICT. Loved my Geography teachers but still couldn't tell you what continental drift is.

3. What’s your favorite drink?
Pinot Grigio.

4. What’s your favorite song at the moment?
Lush Life- Zara Larsson.

5. What would you name your children?
I'm not telling in case I need to use them soon & people be all like "Oh ew I hate that" & then I have to cut them out of my life.

6. Do you participate in any sports?
Running for the bus when I'm late for wine.

7. What’s your favorite book? 
Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird.

8. What’s your favorite colour?
Green.

9. What’s your favorite animal?
Elephants, they're sooo cuuuuute.

10. What’s your favorite perfume?
Armani Code for women.

11. What has been your favorite holiday?
My honeymoon in Thailand was the best 2 weeks of my life! Also a huge fan of New York.

12. What is the most money you've spent on one thing?
That would be my house. Thank God for mortgages.
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

5 Ways to Save Money Literally Right Now


I'm currently undertaking a long and arduous task: I'm paying off my debts.

2015 was by far the most expensive year of my life. I was in the first proper year of home ownership, I got married, I went on honeymoon. I racked up a fair amount of debt across the year which comprised mainly of secured debts like 0% finance agreements to pay for wedding rings, for example. I'm now paying those debts back which feels really good but it's meant that I've had to really look into what I'm spending money on with much more detail (turns out that the the majority of the spending went on "literally pointless crap" and that I'm pretty much a magpie with longer hair). I found a few simple ways to save some money that I thought I would share:

  • Switch up your energy providers: You might have been with BT Broadband for a few years because the speeds are good. Are you sure you're still getting the best deal? Call up and ask them when you can switch providers or tell them that you're looking at going elsewhere because their pricing isn't competitive. Sky just reduced my bill from £40 a month to £27 a month for the same service because I told them I was going to Virgin. (Useful hint: you can get the same speed broadband from pretty much any provider: the fiber or telephone lines are the thing that dictates the internet speed, your provider may just be capping it as per your contract).
  • Close down your store cards: I am the effing Queen of impulse buying. New lipstick on the Benefit Twitter page? It's mine. Going out this weekend? New outfit for Sian. Shutting down your store card credit lines means that it's more difficult to impulse buy all that pointless crap that you regret buying as soon as it arrives. It means that to buy something you have to have the actual money in the bank, and that always hurts a little bit more doesn't it? 
  • Have a 'Sit Down Look' at your outgoings: Sit down at a PC and create an Excel spreadsheet that lists every single outgoing you have. Use a pen and paper if the thought of using Excel formulas puts you off. List out everything that you pay for on a monthly basis: your phone contract, car insurance, road tax, credit card direct debits, your home insurance, Netflix and your store card payments. Yes, it's going to be bloody terrifying, but you'll also be able to take a holistic view of your outgoings and identify your problem areas. I recently realised that I was spending £20 per month on insurance that I had no use for. I was also able to work out that I could quickly pay off a few store cards to give myself more of a disposable income for next month. Yes, it's dull, but it's the most helpful thing I've done this year. 
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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Sigma Travel Kit- Mr Bunny Brush Review


I got the Mr Bunny Travel Brush kit for my birthday and I wanted to make a very quick post to let you know how amazing it is. I've never been one for spending loads on makeup brushes. Don't get me wrong; if I could afford to spend a couple of hundred quid on the MAC Kabuki brush kit I definitely would. But I can't. *sob*

Sigma brushes have been featured in so many blogs and vlogs and are firm favourites of the likes of Zoella and co, and after some careful research I realised that they pretty much had exclusively 5 star ratings on most reputable online beauty stores. I decided to give them a go and asked my husband to get them for me for my birthday.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

How to Make a Light String Collage


A couple of weeks ago I purchased a stack of photos from the Cheerz app. Cheerz is an app that allows you to link your Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox and iCloud photos in order to edit them and then get them shipped to you at home. There are loads of apps that do this but Cheerz is my favourite by a mile because the photos come out so perfectly printed; the quality is excellent. The prints ship really quickly and in cute rainbow packaging. It's also very good value, so that helps!

I wanted to do something a bit different as I already have about 40 frames that I need to get mounted on the walls at home so I created a light string collage in my guest bedroom for less than £22. I picked up a pack of mains powered festoon fairy lights in 'warm white' from Amazon for £16.99. I also picked up a pack of mini white wooden pegs for £1.99. Finally, I bought some clear Command Decorating clips (the clear ones) to fasten to the wall; these were £3.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Be My Valentine Chalkboard Kitchen Organiser


I'm obsessed with Etsy. I think it's fun, simple and a really friendly community to work with. I had been lusting after a kitchen organiser for weeks and as soon as my kitchen was painted in December I placed an order with LEBUFurniture. I asked for a large chalkboard and cork board organiser with a mason jar and mail holder. I also asked the creator of these lovely pieces, Mr Burgoyne, whether he would be able to include a small hook underneath the mail holder so that I could hang a calendar from it because I didn't want to put a hole in my wall.


LEBUFurniture allow you to choose the size and colour of the organiser. I went for large because I wanted both a chalkboard section and a cork board section. I also had a large empty wall free in the kitchen which I knew would be a perfect home for this. I chose a solid white paint finish as my kitchen walls are silvery grey with white skirting boards. The board arrived within a few weeks (each piece is custom-made depending on your requirements so don't expect any next day delivery) and I have to say that the quality is excellent. An added bonus is that these manufactured and shipped from the UK (from my very own South Wales to be exact!).
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Monday, 8 February 2016

February Detox: A 5 Step Feel Good Gameplan


I've been feeling pretty run down lately. I've literally been getting home from work, putting sweats on and climbing under a duvet to eat a takeaway. Some call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD for short!) but in my case it's purely a shitty and ineffective coping mechanism that I'm blaming on bad weather.

Every now and again I go through a day or a week or a month where I just treat myself really badly; I drink too much, eat too much (of all the wrong things), I don't exercise and I don't really see or speak to people if I can help it. I'm the opposite of a 'picture of health' all year round and I've noticed that these 'binge months' are starting to effect me much more than they used to. I guess it's a vicious circle because the more I neglect what is good for me the worse I feel.

I'm going to try to nip this in the bud this month before the anxiety increases to the point where it starts to become a bigger problem than a few nerves before a meeting. This is the gameplan:

  • Stop drinking fizzy drinks: Let's be honest, I'm already a case study for diabetes and it runs on both sides of my family. This should be pretty easy despite the fridges of free fizzy drinks we have in the office as I don't drink many anyway (3 cans a week, if that). Sometimes I kid myself that a Coke Zero isn't bad for me, but we know it is. We knoooowwwwww.
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Thursday, 4 February 2016

10 Things School Should Have Taught Us About 'Credit Scores'


Your credit score is what potential lenders use to work out whether they can lend you money. When I was in Uni I didn't really worry about my credit score because I assumed it was for people looking for bank loans or mortgages. I didn't realise that in fact I'd been slowly building up a credit profile since I got my first phone contract at 17. Now, at the grand old age of 25, my credit score is something that I check on a monthly basis because it's so important to me. Thanks for teaching us about photosynthesis Mrs Thomas, but wouldn't it have been a bit more useful to know this stuff...?!

  • Your credit score is checked if you apply for a loan on a car or for a credit card, for example. Did you know it's also checked when you apply for a phone contract, store card, energy provider (the guys who sort your gas and electric bills) or even for your car insurance?
  • There are different types of searches. If you use a price comparison website such as Confused.com or CompareTheMarket.com they will assess your credit score even if you haven't decided to go ahead with any of the quotations. This type of search is called a 'Soft Search' and won't necessarily affect your credit rating but it will leave a 'Search Footprint' on your account. If you perform multiple soft searches in a short space of time this can affect your credit rating negatively.
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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Surviving "Winter Face": A Skincare Haul


My skin has been a nightmare for the past month or so, I think mainly due to the cold weather and the insane amount of chocolate and general garbage I consumed at Christmas. I found that my old cleanser (a Garnier foaming lotion) was really drying my skin out and I was getting really rosy cheeks, but not in a cute way; in a more of a "Oh cool now I need 4 different colour foundations on my face" kind of way. I wanted to highlight a few products that I invested in that saved me from "Winter Face"...


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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Why I Love My Desk Job


  • I work regular hours: Start at 9, finish at 5, every day. No "stay until the last customer leaves" crap, I can leave something and finish it the next day. Ahhhh, consistency and routine; the anxiety-riddled humans' dream.
 

  • I can wear my slippers under my desk. YEAH, DID YOU THINK ABOUT THAT, OFFICE JOB HATERS?!
 

  • I get free drinks. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, juice. I also get free breakfast. What a time to be alive. 
 

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Popular Brands Who Still Test on Animals in 2016


I recently watched a video by Emma Blackery that talked about popular cosmetic brands that test on animals. Having recently done some research into this myself, I thought I would post a useful infographic that I found on the PETA website that shows which popular cosmetic brands are testing on animals as we speak. Some of them certainly shocked me, I didn't expect to see Dove, MAC, Stila or Maybelline listed. I don't know if I'll ever feel quite the same about my bathroom! 


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Monday, 11 January 2016

The Herrington Wedding: A Video Diary




I hope you enjoy a few shots I remembered to film over the past few months... Happy 2016!
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Thursday, 7 January 2016

How to Start a Blog


Starting a blog can seem like a huge and complicated process. It really doesn't need to be, and if you do enough planning and research beforehand you can get a blog up and running in around 2 hours. For those of you who might be interested in starting your own blog, this is everything you need to know become a bonified Blogger...

  • Choose a blogging platform. A blogging platform is essentially a basic content management system. You will use to it create blogposts and then categorize them appropriately. The two most popular blogging platforms are Wordpress and Blogger. I use Blogger because it allows a much higher level of customization (to change the way the blog looks and feels) without needing to pay for a template. I believe Wordpress is the biggest platform because it is the easiest to use, but I just couldn't get along with the limited functionality and I have enough experience of basic coding to be able to manage my Blogger site myself. Choose your platform and sign up for a free account with them.
  • Pick a domain name. This is the URL that people use to access your site. For example, mine is www.reviewsatrandom.com. If you are serious about starting a blog then you will need to pay for a domain name. You can use a free one provided by your blogging platform but it will read "www.reviewsatrandom.blogspot.com", for example, which is so ugly and also doesn't lend itself to being taken seriously as a blogger. I host my blog with Go Daddy who gave me a really good price and have a lot of additional extras you can order; I ordered a custom domain email address (sianroberts@reviewsatrandom.com). I pay very little for the privilege so it's definitely worth looking into. It's worth noting that if you don't pick a custom domain name (that you pay for) you don't own your site or content. The host can delete it if they wish, without your consent. Try to pick a name that gives a rough idea of what type of content your site might include. Failing that, pick something catchy and memorable.
  • Set up your web hosting. If you choose to use Blogger then Google will automatically host your blog for you which makes the whole process super simple. You won't need to purchase additional hosting; you can just input the domain name you've purchased and get cracking. Google will also make sure you're appropriately included in Google search results to help you get your content out to a wider audience. If you choose to use Wordpress you'll have to set up hosting with a hosting provider such as BlueHost and you'll need to pay for it. 
  • Design your blog. Think hard about how you want your blog to look. If you're going to be writing instructions or recipes you'll need a clean and simple blog design. You might want to create a colour scheme or theme that reflects your content in an interesting and dynamic way. Most recently I've opted for a very muted colour scheme but in the past I've gone full garish glitter. Blogger allows you to heavily customise your blog design and it's easy to lose a few hours of your life to the Template Designer tool. Whichever design you settle on, make sure it enables easy digestion of your content. Anything overly busy might discourage your readers from sticking with your post, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to the common "grey-scale" themes if you don't want to. 
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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

My New Years' Resolutions: Give More


  • Learn to "DIY". I want to learn to put up a shelf, paint properly and hang a picture frame on a wall. If Ben ever leaves me I can replace all of our wedding photos with photos of the cat and put them on the wall. In the shape of a cat. 
  • Drink more wine. I mean, I don't know if it's really medically possible or aligns well with my monthly budgeting, but I think it's important to have a stretch target isn't it? 
  • Learn to cook more things. And better. "More better things". I realised that the reason I don't enjoy cooking much might just be because the only things I can cook are a roast dinner, pasta or fajitas. I've got about a dozen cookbooks & I vow to use them.
  • Worry less. 2015 was a year of wedding planning, balancing family & friends, and working stupid hours to pay for everything. I somehow feel that things I would have fretted about a few months ago just wouldn't matter to me now. It's amazing what a bit of perspective can do; 2016 shall be an anxiety-free year.
  • Travel more. I want to see more of the world while I've got the chance (that sounds more ominous than it is), and this year I'm looking forward to some family holidays which makes me very happy indeed. I can't remember the last time I went anywhere with my Dad! 
  • Give more. I'm keeping up my monthly donation with Mind UK & I'm still going to be working as an ambassador for mental health in the office. I've also decided that this year I'll be donating to The British Heart Foundation on a monthly basis. The British Heart Foundation spend their research funding on understanding diseases such as angina, heart attacks, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and high blood pressure. Heart and circulatory disease takes the lives of more than 400 people in the UK each day and this cause has genuinely never been closer to my heart (no pun intended!) than it is right now. The BHF are hosting a Wear It Beat It event on Friday February 5th this year, sign up your office and give more here: https://wearitbeatit.bhf.org.uk/ 

https://www.bhf.org.uk/
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