Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle

Autumn Essentials…

Autumn; the sun begins to cast a golden glow on the crisp frost creeping over the fields, the vibrant colour of the leaves on the trees begin to turn a fiery red – it’s the beginning of a chilly (and rainy!!) yet magical season, and a real favourite of mine. Shops start stocking up ready for Halloween, fairy lights begin to appear, casting an exciting sparkle as the evenings get darker, spicy wintery drinks start to appear in coffee shops… What’s not to love?! To celebrate the first weekend of Autumn, I thought I would share with you my Autumn favourites, from food, through to beauty products, through to general day-to-day Autumn delights.

Food 

To me, Autumn sparks the end of summery salads and invites the start of warm, hearty lunches and dinners. I thought I would share with you one of my favourite go-to autumnal dishes. As you will have seen from last week’s blog post, I’m trying to minimise the amount of meat and dairy in my diet, and I’ve been making lots of delicious meals from Lucy Watson’s ‘Feed Me Vegan’ cookbook. I’ve also been searching around for some other vegan recipes, which fill that hearty-dish-shaped-hole in my stomach, especially for during the week when I’m at work.

Vegan chilli

This one is super easy to make, and the best thing about it – make it in bulk, and freeze it! That way, you are always prepared for weekday lunches. I stumbled across this  One Hour Vegan Chilli. I absolutely love chilli – for me, this is the perfect autumnal meal, as it warms the soul and makes you feel good inside, whilst staying on the healthy bandwagon. It’s super easy to make, with loads of veggies, low price ingredients, and you essentially just throw everything in the pan and let it simmer for 40 minutes.

Vegan One hour chilli

Herbal teas

The only thing I can critique about this wonderful season, is it’s usually when all the bugs come out, the dreaded flu epidemic takes over the country, and I come down with some sort of terrible cold/sore throat. One of things I find keeps those colds at bay are herbal teas – full of natural sources of goodness, and generally tasty. The season always triggers the delicious autumnal flavours to come out of the woodwork, which make you feel all warm inside and excited for the season ahead. My current favourites are the Pukka and Twinings herbal teas, as they come in such a huge variety of flavours. A current favourite is the Pukka Apple and Cinnamon flavour – Cinnamon always makes me think of Autumn and the lead up to Christmas, so this is one I certainly get excited about!! The sweet tang of the apple also balances the spicy taste of the cinnamon. Another favourite is the Twinings Ginger Bread Green Tea – the sweet scent and taste actually makes you believe you’re eating gingerbread, so allows you to stave off those sugar cravings!! Last, but never least, is the Pukka Green Tea flavoured with Sweet Vanilla – I find that Green Tea on its own can sometimes leave quite a bitter taste, so the addition of the vanilla completely masks this, and makes for a lovely after-dinner cuppa.

Teas and ntebook

Beauty & Fashion

For those who know me, I’m not the most colourful and vibrant when it comes to my wardrobe. The furthest I stretch to in summer are light pastel colours (which are as close to cream and grey as they can be!!), and in the autumnal months, my favourite go-to colours are camel and burgundy (which is actually quite ‘out there’ for me!). They both really reflect the colours of autumn – the leaves turning to a deep red as they fall off the trees, and the golden sun in the mornings reflecting off the sparkling frost.

Jumpers & Slippers

Again, another reason I love Autumn – it’s the beginning of snuggly clothes season!! I picked up this gorgeous knitted jumper from New Look recently – it’s light enough to be able to wear a coat over the top, yet still warm enough to feel snuggled up and autumnal. The wide turtleneck allows you to snuggle deeply into the jumper, whilst allowing room for the fresh air at the same time if it’s a particularly sunny day. The perfect Autumn combination.

And of course, nothing makes you feel more snuggled and warm at home, than a great pair of slippers. These Emu Australia slippers are the perfect autumn/winter slippers – the woolly interior keeps your feet toasty and are hugely comforting for moseying around the house in.

Jumper and slippers

Skincare

As the frosty air and chill hits, it can be really hard on our skin and for me certainly, it can really dry it out. So it’s important to make sure you’re looking after your skin, keeping it fully moisturised to protect against the autumnal chill. I’ve pictured below my current favourite skincare products – for my morning routine, I’ve been using the Ren Evercalm Cleansing Milk which wakes up my skin, followed by the Garnier Micellar Water and The Body Shop Aloe Vera Soothing Day Cream. At night, I use the Lancome Bi-Facil Gentle Eye Make Up Remover, followed by the Lancome Gel Eclat cleanser and Tonique Confort to remove my base makeup. Just before bed, I apply two pumps of the Ren Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil, following by the V-Cense Revitalising Nightcream. This really leaves my skin feeling moisturised and healthy, and gives it that ‘glowy’ look throughout the day.

Skincareproducts

Autumn Nails

To complement the colours of Autumn, it has to be a burgundy nail!! My favourite at the moment is Chanel Rouge Noir. I find their nail polishes are extremely light, perfume-free and easy to apply, along with being long-lasting.

Polish

So there you have it – my Autumn favourites, I’d love to hear what you love, and your go-to favourites for this magical yet chilly season!

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Health, Lifestyle

‘Feed Me Vegan’ by Lucy Watson. The Review!

So after the long-awaited delivery, last Thursday, Lucy Watson’s ‘Feed Me Vegan’ cookbook finally arrived through the post. I’ve been really looking forward to receiving this book, for a multitude of reasons. First of all – I love Lucy Watson. Alongside her great sense of style and serious eyebrow game, I admire how strong-minded she is, and how she fights for what she believes in and voices it. Second of all, after recently watching the Netflix documentary ‘What the Health’, it really exposed a lot around the meat and dairy industry, and not only how cruel it is to animals in the processes it follows, but also how bad it can actually be for our health. So I wanted to try to tone down the amount of meat and dairy in my diet. This isn’t something I have found particularly difficult – I love veggie food anyway, and I will often be the one who picks the veggie option when out for dinner. When I saw that Lucy was releasing this cookbook, instantly I knew I had to buy it, as this would instil me with an entirely new armoury of recipes to try, which were meat and dairy free for me to enjoy.

One of the first things I loved about this book, was the introduction. It gives great insight into Lucy’s childhood, her relationship with animals, and why she made the choice to go Vegan. There is nothing ‘preachy’ about her writing; it’s simply an explanation as to why she has made the choices she has, and has some encouraging words for what she hopes to achieve with her book. Again, she’s not telling everyone ‘you must go vegan’ it’s simply there to be an eye-opener into what’s going on in the meat and dairy industry, and if this book can help us make healthier choices, then it’s done the job.

Recipes

One of the biggest factors for me when cooking, is time. I have what you would call a typical working week – a 9-5pm job, I don’t usually get home until around 5:45, and by the time I get in the door, the last thing I want to do is slave over the cooker for hours on end with more ingredients than you can count. I also don’t want to be spending over and above my weekly food budget. Within her book, Lucy has an entire section called ‘Feed Me Quickly’. And this section is perfect, for just that. Minimal ingredients, minimal time, and you’re still sticking to a healthy and clean diet. The majority of ingredients, as you can imagine are fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, and a few dairy/meat replacements. I have placed some of my favourite recipes so far down below, so you can see what I’ve been cooking, the time it has taken me, and of course, how it tasted!!

Miso-Glazed Aubergine

This one is perfect for those of you who get in from work, really can’t be bothered and just want to throw something in the oven (I often have those nights myself!!). The ingredients are very minimal, and the time it took me in total from scouring the cupboards for my ingredients, through to sitting down and eating, was around 35 minutes. That’s pretty good going, if you ask me!!

Aubergine Ingredients

First of all, I cut the aubergine in half, scoured it and popped it in the oven for 25 minutes. Whilst this was cooking, I mixed together the white miso, the mirin and the caster sugar, and left this on side. At this point, I curled up on the sofa for 20 minutes and watched the first half of an episode of Homeland – ideal!!

Aubergine in pan and miso

When the aubergine was ready, which was true to the time in the recipe, I took this out of the oven, brushed over my miso/mirin/sugar mixture, and popped this under the grill on a high heat for 5 minutes. Whilst this was caramelising and crisping up, I chopped my spring onions.

Finishedaubergine

As you can see, the result was pretty great. And to my surprise – extremely tasty!! The glaze gives it a lovely sweet taste, and mixed with the salt, sesame seeds and spring onion, hits your taste buds with rich and natural flavours. A new favourite of mine for the ‘lazy work night’ kind of meal!

Pad Thai

This book is also filled with plenty of other recipes, and one which I made from the ‘Feed Me Feasts’ section, was Pad Thai. I absolutely adore Thai food, so I was really hoping this would live up to expectations. Again – the ingredients weren’t complex in the slightest, I could see the health benefits of everything going into my food and the nutrients they held, which made me very excited to try this one.

Pad Thai ingredients

One ingredient which I was extremely apprehensive over, was tofu. I’ve never tried it before, and it wasn’t something I could ever see myself liking. It doesn’t really have a scent to it, and the texture of it, I discovered was quite rubbery; so I was extremely worried that this was going to turn out to be a complete disaster. When the recipe asked for the tofu to be crumbled, which I found was surprisingly easy (basically just squashing it between your fingers!!) it looks like scrambled egg, which made me feel even more concerned about how this would turn out. However – I was pleasantly surprised. When sautéed with the onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric, it turned golden and crispy, and mixed with all of the ingredients, absorbed all of the flavours and tasted absolutely delicious.

Stir fry veg in pan

Time

In terms of time, as this wasn’t in the ‘Feed Me Quickly’ section, I prepared myself to be spending at least over an hour prepping and cooking this, through to sitting down to eat. However again – a pleasant surprise. Once I’d prepped all my ingredients, which took around 15/20 minutes, then through to cooking time, I managed all of this within 45 minutes! Which is perfectly achievable for a weeknight meal.

Padthaidone

And voila! This was the finished product on my plate. The addition of the peanuts gave that delicious nutty taste to complement the soy and the vegetables, and to my delight, I’d made enough for a second serving for my lunch the following day. The only thing I would probably do differently is not be so over-zealous with the lime – it made the dish slightly too sweet for me, so next time, I will definitely be holding back on that… and maybe adding more peanuts as a treat!

And finally…  Feed Me Sweet Treats!!

I have a real sweet tooth, and I often find myself reaching for the chocolate on an evening, so I want to be able to still treat myself, but in a slightly healthier way. As well as this, my boyfriend has a particular fondness for jam – so I decided to make these delicious jam biscuits, as at least that meant I wouldn’t scoff them all by myself!!

As per all of the other recipes I’ve tried so far, the ingredients were fairly minimal and easy to find at the supermarket.

Jam biscuits ingredients

In terms of time, this one did take longer than the others, however this was mainly due to the fact that once you’ve made the dough, you need to leave it to set in the fridge for two hours. Other than that, it took me all of 10-15 minutes to make the dough. Now I didn’t have a whisk, which the instructions do say you’ll need, however I found I managed to make the dough just as well using a spoon and my hands to mix!!

Dough

Once the dough was ready, I kneaded this and cut my circles out with a cookie cutter, as instructed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a cookie cutter small enough to cut out the hearts… so as you can see, these are a tad misshapen! I popped these in the oven for around 7-8 minutes, and then left these to cool on the side before adding the jam.

Biscuit halves

And voila!! My delicious jam biscuits!! They tasted absolutely yummy, and they were definitely favoured by my boyfriend as well. I will definitely be making these much more often.

Jambiscuits

As you can see, I’ve had lots of fun this week experimenting with these recipes. And I must say – this book has exceeded my expectations. Whenever I have made Vegan meals in the past, I have always felt that something on my plate was missing, and I wasn’t getting the nutrients or enjoyment out of the food like I should. This book has given me some great and tasty recipes where I feel completely fulfilled with what I’m eating, and again it has given me some great quick and simple recipes to enjoy during the week without sacrificing taste. I haven’t even noticed this week that I have been eating Vegan meals – which is definitely a positive sign!! If you haven’t already done so, I would certainly recommend purchasing this book, and if you already have, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which recipes you would recommend!

 

 

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Should you opt for separate social media accounts for blogging, or do you utilise your existing platforms? 

When I started blogging, which was just under two years ago now, one decision which I was deliberating over for a long time was how to promote my platform. Essentially, the big debate was; do I create completely separate Twitter and Instagram accounts in order to promote my blog content, or use my existing accounts where I already have followers? It was something I did a lot of research into – there were pros and cons for both. One of the cons of creating new accounts, was the fact I’d have to build up a completely new network of followers to keep engaged. One of the pros was that I wouldn’t irritate or annoy existing friends or connections with constant posts about my blog, which they necessarily didn’t want to see, as well as the fact I could still keep all my personal accounts private. On the flip side, by using my existing account I could use my existing network to promote content to, or by using a new platform I could create a solid ‘blogging network’.

I finally made the decision to create separate accounts, one of the reasons being that I didn’t want to annoy connections and friends, but also that I was extremely nervous about my blog. What if people saw it and made fun of me? What if people didn’t like it? I’ve always been quite a self-conscious person, and putting my own content out there, something that’s authentically mine, my interests and my views on something, for all to see, is actually pretty terrifying.

Further down the line, and I’m still going back around in circles as to what would be best. I have found it extremely difficult to keep two accounts going – whenever I post a photo, or tweet, I automatically share it on my personal account and have to admit, I’ve neglected my blogging accounts. Which to be fair, may have affected the engagement I have with followers on those accounts (or they’re simply scrolling past because my posts are boring.. which is entirely possible!!).

It’s a debate I’ve seen a lot in the blogosphere and on social media generally, and it’s something I’m still trying to fully make the decision on.

I’d love to hear from other bloggers out there – do you keep your accounts separate and find this works better for you, or alternatively do you find it works best using your existing network?

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Lifestyle

Home Renovation… Part One!!!

So as I mentioned in my New Years blog, me and my boyfriend, Marcus, have finally purchased our own house!! After a gruelling and painfully drawn out six months, where at times we thought it was all going to fall through and we were never going to get there, on the 5th April, we FINALLY got the keys (see below for the cheesy obligatory ‘we-are-about-to-enter-our-home-for-the-first-time’ snap!!).

House photo 1.jpg

As I mentioned previously, this is definitely a project home. The décor is rather dated, and as soon as we walked in, we could both see the potential that the house could have – from knocking walls down, building new rooms and reconstructing the garden, we couldn’t wait to get our hands dirty and start working on it – which we have been doing for the last 10 days! I booked the week off work, which also happened to fall on the Easter weekend (so an extra 2 bank holiday days off – bonus!) meant I was able to fully get invested in working on the house. Now whilst it may not be the most relaxing time off I’ve ever had, and certainly not glamorous (no lounging around by a pool drinking wine, unfortunately) it has actually been a fantastic stress reliever, and knowing that this house is all ours and the hard work we have been putting into it, makes it all worth it.

As a bonus, it’s also a great workout – carting bucketfuls of rubble to and from the skip on a daily basis, stripping wallpaper and hammering out skirting boards meant I didn’t feel the need to hit the gym so much as I knew I was doing a lot of physical labour – and I certainly felt this every morning, waking up with a new part of my body aching!!! I’m also certain I’ve developed an even more unhealthy addiction to caffeine, and there is no way I’m ever going to get every bit of dust that has lodged itself in my hair out, nor am I ever again going to have nice nails!!

Skip Stuff

We’ve also had some great help from family members, and as you’ll see from the pictures, also two little mischief makers named Merlin and Oscar who manage to get themselves into the majority of pictures!!!

Merlin and Oscar

So this is what we’ve been getting up to for the last ten days – and whilst I’m under no illusions this isn’t going to take a hell of a lot longer (after all, it takes days to rip everything out, however I know it will take four times as long to get it exactly how we want it!!) I can’t wait to go through the next phase of starting to pick out our furniture, colour schemes and general décor. Head over to my Pinterest if you’d like to see my ideas evolving, and I’ll be updating you with another blog post soon to show you how we are getting on!!

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Health, Lifestyle

2016.. A Review

So what can I say about the year 2016… well, I would say that it hasn’t gone quite as swimmingly as I’d have hoped.. as I’m sure most of you’ll agree, and from what I’ve seen from some of the fantastically thought out meme’s that have been circling the internet, 2016 hasn’t exactly been the best year all round. We’ve lost many well-known influencers of our time, and after many political surprises, it has been an odd year, and myself, like most people are quite glad to see the back of it. However, even though there have been some peaks and troughs this year, I still thought as an end to the year, and to begin 2017, it would be quite nice to do a review of what has gone well, what maybe hasn’t gone quite so well, and what I’ve learnt along the way.

First of all, I thought I would look at the New Year’s Resolutions that I set for myself at the beginning of this year, and see how well I managed to keep them…

Eat clean and experiment with my cooking so I can enjoy healthy and delicious meals

I’ve been really good this year with experimenting with my cooking – not necessarily trying out wild and outrageous foods that I would never normally eat, but more so that I’ve been creating meals from scratch, with some exciting new recipes. One big influencer of this for me, has been Madeleine Shaw. She has such a positive outlook on food, and how it not only affects your physical body, but also how your diet can affect you mentally. I really struggle with anxiety, and one thing that has helped me with keeping this under control is focusing on eating well and keeping my body nourished. I’m sure you’ll have seen in some of my previous blog posts as well as my Instagram feed, the different recipes I have been trying out and experimenting with.

Now I won’t lie, I haven’t been completely on the band wagon with eating clean and healthy all the time. I have definitely drank far too much alcohol this year. Usually, I will eat clean during the week, and on the weekend is my allotted time to have a few well-deserved drinks and a few naughty snacks. However, this year I have found myself on several occasions having a mid-week tipple, which has inevitably led to bad food choices, such as morning bacon rolls to make my day at work more bearable, as well as heavy carbs such as pizza and pasta etc. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing I’m treating myself because I do think that you need a break, and when you really feel like you need the garlic bread, you should damn well have that garlic bread! But for me, I know that I feel at my best when I’ve been sticking to a clean diet, and this keeps me on track. I have also noticed that my biggest anxiety flare ups have been when I’ve had a heavy weekend in terms of alcohol and bad food. The bad food choices have also led to weight gain, bad skin and generally feeling a bit down in the dumps, so I know that in order for me to feel good again, feel positive and in control, I need to get my diet back on track.

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Catch up with friends at least once a month

Now this one, I have done much better than I thought I would!! I have made the time to catch up with friends, and whether that’s just going for a coffee on my lunch break with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, right through to spending a weekend away with my old uni friends, I’m really pleased with how well I’ve done here. This one was really important to me, especially as the majority of my really close friends lives quite far away, so I wanted to ensure I made a conscious effort to see this through, and I’m proud to say I have and I definitely feel better for it.

Get more sleep

Now I may have slightly over committed here…!! As someone who loves sleep, I definitely think I have taken this one to a whole new level!! During the week, I used to stay up until gone 11pm, and wake up in the morning feeling groggy and lacking energy. This year, I do think I have been much more sensible, and am generally in bed by 10pm at the very latest. Other than this, my weekends are absolutely my favourite time to get some well-earned sleep in – I allow myself at least one day on a weekend where I lie in for as long as I possibly can – as well as a few mid-afternoon naps sneaking in there!

Don’t take things too seriously (I’m a serial worrier)

Now this one, I haven’t completed to its full potential. Unfortunately, due to the fact I am quite a sensitive person, an over thinker and a serial worrier, I knew this one was going to be tough, as this is pretty much ingrained in me – however, I think this is more of a long term resolution that will take time to achieve, and I need to put certain measures in place in order for me to do this, such as making more time for myself and practising mindfulness. So I don’t necessarily see this one as a failure – but more of a working progress for me to actively build upon.

What else have I achieved this year? 

Other than looking at my resolutions and how well (or not so well) I did at keeping them, I thought it would also be nice to actually look at some of the key things that I have accomplished this year that weren’t necessarily in my resolutions.

Finished my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing

This has been an absolutely gruelling two years. Whilst my friends were out partying, and colleagues were heading down to the pub for some after work drinks, I was cooped up in an office tuning into some webinars and burying my head in a text book. Whilst everyone was chilling out on the weekend doing fun things and relaxing, I was heading into the office to hammer out my latest assignment. Whilst the world was sleeping in on a Sunday, I was up at dawn with my laptop, with only caffeine to get me through. I sacrificed the majority of my free time for this, and I’m so glad that after all my hard work, I achieved this, with merit, at the end of it. It sent my anxiety through the roof, and at times I thought about packing it all in as I simply didn’t feel it was worth it, but I’m so glad I stuck it out and now have a great qualification to help further my development for the long term.

My sister got married

This was one of the most wonderful days to date, as I watched my sister marry my now brother-in-law. It was the first time in for as long as I can remember that my whole family spent the entire day together, and it was such a lovely occasion.

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We bought at house!!

After a year of searching, going from house to house on the weekends and evenings, me and my boyfriend have finally found our own house that will be completely all ours. I feel like this is jinxing it slightly as it hasn’t completely gone through yet, but I’m far too excited not to tell you all about it. As someone who is a lover of interiors, home-ware, and real ‘project homes’, as is my boyfriend, we both really wanted a house that we could completely strip back to the bare structure and rebuild so it was our perfect home, exactly how we want it. For so long it didn’t seem this would be able to happen, as all of the houses we saw were either far too expensive, or the wrong location, wrong size etc. We’d just about given up on finding this, until one evening we just decided to go and see a house, that we didn’t even think we’d like. We both absolutely fell in love with it, and we have finally got that dream home (almost!!). So I cannot wait to get the keys and focus on building this up, so you can look forward to some blog posts and pictures on this as it progresses next year!

Travelled to new places 

Another way my anxiety affects me is when I travel. It has caused me to not enjoy my holidays sometimes. It’s incredibly frustrating because I do really love the idea of exploring new places, and I don’t want to miss out, so I’ve been trying to overcome this by travelling to as many places as possible in the hope I will get used to it!! This year has been a good year of doing this, through several mini breaks I’ve managed to fit in with friends, family and my boyfriend. These included a romantic trip to Paris, which I blogged about earlier this year, a couple of great holidays to Portugal which has become my new favourite relaxing holiday destination, as well as a long weekend in Dublin and some lovely day trips to the likes of big cities such as Birmingham and London. I want to continue to do this next year, and one of the first things I have booked is Glastonbury, which I am SO excited for!! Now don’t get me wrong – it has still been quite tough for me visiting these places, and not every moment has been wonderful as my anxiety seems to catch me out of the blue at the worst of times, but it is something I am working on, and I’m so proud of myself for pushing through these moments, and coming out the other side feeling just a little better every time.

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Looking ahead…

As I said at the beginning of this year, I don’t want to set myself up for a fall, or encroach silly resolutions onto myself that I know I won’t be able to keep. I’d rather set some general resolutions, which aren’t so strict and that I can look at them in a positive way and be excited about, rather than be filled with dread at the thought that I’m going to have to give something up. So here are the general goals/resolutions I have set myself for this year:

Blog at least once a month

Blogging is something that I have found I really really enjoy doing. I love creating my own content, on areas that interest me, using my own photos and completely finding my own platform and outlet to be creative. I haven’t been great this year at keeping up regularly with my blog, and I really need to ensure that this year I MAKE the time to sit down, plan my blogs and find time to write them too. Too many times, I’ve been in bed about to go to sleep and have a sudden idea, and so I don’t forget it, quickly sit up for 20 minutes and write a rough draft, or I’m out and about and think of an idea, but then I busy myself with something else and completely forget it. I really need to put some time aside to develop these ideas, and ensure I keep up with my blog as much as I can.

Budget better

Now this year I managed to completely clear my overdraft from my university days, which I was so so happy about. It completely lifted a weight off my shoulders, as I knew that I was debt free in terms of my general day to day bank account. However, I made the rash mistake of applying for a credit card – my reasoning behind it was for any unplanned emergencies where I needed to pay for something, or if I was booking a holiday that I could pay off over a couple of months. This seemed relatively sensible at the time, however I’ve ended up using it for everything, so I’m pretty much in the same position I was in at the beginning of the year!! So in 2017, I plan to budget much more effectively in order to pay this off, and get that worry off my shoulders.

Make more time for myself

This is something I really need to do more of. I need to look after myself a lot more than I am currently doing, and set aside time to completely relax and chill out – whether that’s taking a relaxing bath to reflect on the day, attending a yoga class to relax myself and bring about positive energy, getting myself lost in a book – this is about taking my own time to be calm, self-reflect and ensure that I am feeling as relaxed and positive as I can be, and wind down in the best way possible. Again, this is something that should help to keep my anxiety under control, and I know from experience this has worked previously, so I am really looking forward to spending more time looking after me.

Start and end the day with a positive thought (write it down!)

I started this at the beginning of this year, and actually this really did help. Even if it was just 2 minutes of sitting there and reflecting on my day, thinking about what I was grateful for, really made me feel much better. It helped clear my mind about everything bad that may have happened that day as it helped to focus my mind on the good, so I really want to ensure that I practice this again. It really does only take 2 minutes to do, so I have no excuse not to stick to it!!!

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So there you have it – my year in review, and what I hope to achieve for 2017. I’d love to know your thoughts, and any resolutions you might have also.

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Lifestyle

Getting into the festive season..

As the Christmas season is now upon us, the festivities and general traditions surrounding Christmas have started to begin; The chill in the air, the festive frost filtering through the fields, beautiful lights and decorations that line the streets, the bustle of Christmas shoppers, the smell of cinnamon and fresh mince pies, the grand opening of the Christmas markets, and most of all, generally people are starting to seem much jollier. There is an excited thrill in the air that surrounds Christmas, and this is what makes Christmas so magical.

Now this year, for various reasons, I haven’t been as high in spirits for Christmas – which is extremely unlike me. Ever since I was a child, I was always the annoying child bugging my Mum to get the Christmas tree as soon as Halloween was over, and picking up a Christmas accessory, however tacky every time we went shopping. I love everything about it – even now, I’m usually the first with tinsel draped all over my desk at work (much to the dismay of colleagues when it’s not even December yet) and the first purchase of the long-awaited Christmas sandwich from the supermarket. Now as Christmas only comes round once a year, I decided I really needed to snap myself out of this scroogy mood, and do as much as I could to ensure I fully embraced the festive season.

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Present buying

Now I know this might sound a bit cliché, but one of my favourite things truly about Christmas, is buying gifts for other people. I love putting a lot of thought into my gifts, and carefully choosing gifts which I know (or I hope I know!) people will absolutely love. I love physically going Christmas shopping also, as opposed to doing everything online – in previous years I have done the majority of my shopping online, and whilst this is the much easier option, and sometimes definitely the least stressful, I love nothing more than walking around the shops and fully embracing the festivities. One of my favourite places to shop for gifts is department stores– purely due to the fact they tend to deck out their entire stores with stunning Christmas decorations and play Christmas music much to my delight!

Present Wrapping

Now what comes after buying presents for your loved ones… wrapping them!! I’m the sort of person who actively seeks out beautifully colour co-ordinated wrapping paper and ribbons. I thoroughly enjoy wrapping, and making my gifts look irresistible to open. I think this comes from watching all the Christmas movies as a child, such as Miracle on 34th Street and Home Alone, where under their Christmas tree were always the most beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts. One retail store which did some beautiful pre-wrapped Christmas gifts this year, was Lush Cosmetics. They had an entire Christmas gift section, with some absolutely beautifully pre-wrapped Christmas gift boxes, which I absolutely love. Needless to say, even though I love doing my own wrapping, I simply could not resist purchasing one of these, A – because Lush Cosmetics was a perfect gift for somebody, and also I just could not resist how meticulously wrapped it was.

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Christmas Markets

Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit more, than a good old Christmas market. The smell of hot cinnamon pretzels and mulled wine, along with seeing all of the sweet little market stalls housing gorgeous homemade wreaths and intricate decorations. I don’t tend to go to these markets with the plan to make any purchases, but they are just perfect for having a mooch around and really getting yourself into the Christmas spirit. There is always such a buzzing atmosphere and everyone is generally in a pleasant and festive mood. I love nothing more than have a sit down in the outdoor seating area at the market with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, watching all of the happy shoppers bustling along and taking in the sweet scents and surroundings that the market brings.

Christmas Music

And by Christmas music, I mean cracking out the Michael Buble CD and singing at the top of my lungs in the car! Different types of music can trigger such strong moods and emotions within you, and Christmas music for me just brings out pure happiness and excitement as the festive season approaches. Even hearing the introductory tones of Home Alone 2, or the Holiday straight away brings the excitement of Christmas, and all of those different childhood memories that music can trigger –it brings back memories of my childhood, such as Christmas morning as I used to come dashing down the stairs and bursting into the living room, to see a pile of presents from Santa and hearing the Christmas music blasting out.

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Christmas Movies

Every year, I do my own ‘advent calendar’ of Christmas movies – I aim to watch at least one Christmas movie every single day of December for the lead up to Christmas, in order to feel as festive as possible. This year’s started with the Santa Claus Movie, whilst snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of tea! Again, these bring back such wonderful childhood memories of watching these movies all throughout my life at Christmas, and there is nothing better than a feel good festive movie.

Christmas Decorations

I need to ensure the environment around me is as Christmassy as possible, in order for me to feel fully  festive, and what better way to do that than making the house as Christmassy as possible. Every year, I always aim to have my house decorated on the evening of the 30th November, so that as soon as I wake up on the 1st December, I can begin to embrace Christmas as fully as possible!! One of my favourite things is finding new Christmassy accessories to decorate my home with every year. One thing I absolutely adore is candles. I love the scent that fills your home, and how cosy they can make a room – this year I have a beautiful Christmas Yankee Candle, that has the scent of sweet apple and Cinnamon. I love the fact that it’s really long lasting, and when I return home from work I can still smell the scent from the previous day. And of course, what better to have than an honorary Santa in the house?! I picked this up from John Lewis, and it’s the perfect addition to go next to my Christmas tree.

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So these are the things that really do get me feeling excited and happy about the festive season, and I’d love to hear what gets you feeling festive.

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Beauty, Lifestyle

Destressing after a busy week…. Time to hit the Twilight Spa

If I have a busy and stressful week, whether that’s to do with work, studying or anything else that may have cropped up, I hate entering my weekend with that stress still weighing heavily upon my shoulders. I like to thoroughly enjoy my weekends, making them as stress-free and care-free as possible. The weekend is my ‘me time’… To truly relax and rejuvenate, so when Sunday night comes around, I feel recharged and ready to take on whatever the week ahead has in store for me.

Now for most of us, when 5pm hits on Friday, we have that exhilarating feeling that now, we are free, and the weekend has begun. We can leave work with a spring in our step and start to celebrate this next two days of bliss. For me, I used to destress by going to the pub after work, enjoying a few drinks with my work colleagues which inevitably led to dinner, more drinks and then stumbling into bed at around 12am. Now whilst at the time, I thought I was letting my hair down and destressing, in the morning it was an entirely different story. I wake up feeling groggy, a bit heavy-headed and with absolutely no energy. I’d waste the best part of my Saturday in bed, watching trash tv and sipping on a cup of coffee. The stresses of that previous week are still playing on my mind, and I don’t feel like I’m truly relaxed and ready to go. Now don’t get me wrong, to some this would be the ideal way to spend a Saturday. But for me, as quite a generally anxious and stressed person, This isn’t the best way for me to leave the week behind. This is something I only discovered recently, when I started to truly try to take care of myself , so I started to try to make some changes to the way I destress after a busy week, so that I could really enjoy my weekends. This week, I found myself lucky enough to be heading to a spa evening with one of my best friends, and to me this was absolutely the perfect way to spend my Friday night.

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As we entered the spa, we were greeted by a friendly therapist who sat us both down in the dining area, with a glorious cup of tea and handed us our complimentary robes and towels, with a list of treatments for us to enjoy. We had both pre-booked a relaxing body scrub, and I was SO looking forward to it!! We had an hour until our treatments, so we chose to relax for half an hour in the outdoor jacuzzi. I couldn’t help but feel the sense of glee that this is how I was spending my evening.

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We then took a slow walk up to the treatment area, where I was greeted by my lovely therapist for evening, and the indulged in a 30 minute glorious body scrub. This is the moment where I could truly let my mind switch off, focus on my breathing and surroundings, and truly begin to relax.

I then made my way to the relaxation room, where I was offered some refreshing cucumber and mint water, reclined on the most comfortable seats, and treated myself to a catch up on the latest edition of Elle magazine. I relaxed here for about half an hour until my friend came out from her treatment, and we then made our way to the main dining area, where we sat with yet more refreshing cucumber water and relaxed even further.

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We were then invited to dinner at the spa’s restaurant, so we got ready and made our way across the courtyard. As we walked in, we were greeted by the smell and heat of a roaring fire, candlelit tables and a warm, comforting yet buzzing atmosphere – straight away falling into the comfort of the dining chairs, we sat down and ordered a delicious dinner. We treated ourselves to some delicious haddock fish cakes (pictured below!!) with sautéed spinach and poached egg, followed by some mango and passion fruit sorbet decorated with rich berries. We devoured our delicious dinner, then relaxed for half an hour, soaking up our surroundings and truly enjoying our evening.

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I arrived home at 10pm, feeling completely relaxed, fell into bed in a blissful 8 hour sleep, and woke up this morning completely refreshed, relaxed and ready to start my weekend.

That’s my way to destress after a busy week, and for me this is sheer bliss. I’d love to hear how all of you end your working week, and enter your weekends stress-free.

 

 

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