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On Saturday, Charles and I headed down to London to watch the annual Pride parade. We managed to get a front row spot on Oxford Street so we had a great view of the day’s events, and to top it off the weather was beautiful and sunny. This year Pride came one day after same-sex marriage was made legal in all 50 US states, which made the day feel extra special. The atmosphere was so positive and happy, and everyone looked like they were having a fantastic time celebrating. By the end of the afternoon I was covered in confetti and stickers, and had a huge smile on my face.
One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) leading one of the parade sections. The film Pride, which tells the story of how and why LGSM was formed, is one of my favourite films, so it was fantastic to see the group out in force, over thirty years later, especially considering the similarity between our current political climate, and that of the 1980’s.
Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos, and they’re not the best quality as I was using my phone, but here are a few of my favourites from the day.
We also went to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, which was an amazing and overwhelming experience. I’m hoping to go again during July, and I also plan on reviewing the exhibition, so check back soon for that.
Did you go to Pride this year?
I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety lately for various reasons, so to remind myself of the good things I have going on, I’ve decided to take part in a tag that I’ve seen doing the rounds lately – 50 Things That Make Me Happy. Making this list has actually helped me feel a bit better and shift my focus away from the negative, so I tag anyone who’s been feeling a bit down in the dumps lately!
So in no particular order, here are my 50 things…
1. My fiancé, Charles.
2. My pet rats, past and present.
3. Cooking, and trying out and inventing new recipes.
4. Spending time with my family.
5. Seeing my friends.
6. Going to gigs. I love that feeling of being in the same air space as my musical heroes, and hearing them sing my favourite songs live.
7. Taking photographs. Whether it’s a snapshot for Instagram, or a shoot with my DSLR, photography is a definite passion of mine.
8. Being outdoors. I try to get out as much as possible as it makes me far happier than being cooped up inside all day.
9. Theme Parks. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you get from a massive rollercoaster!
10. Eating out at my favourite restaurants.
11. Being appreciated at work. It’s always nice to hear some good feedback, either from a manager, a colleague, or a student.
12. Running for charity. I try to complete an event every year. This year I’m doing the Race for Life.
13. That feeling of buying and wearing new shoes and clothes.
14. Glastonbury. The town, not the festival. It’s a beautiful place.
15. Dublin. Another of my favourite places.
16. Watching wildlife. Squirrels, foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, everything. I especially have a thing for birds. My mum likens me to Bill Oddie…
17. Volunteering. I recently did some volunteering at the local wildlife hospital and I loved it.
18. Chocolate, cake, puddings, pastries, ice cream. All the sweet food.
19. Chilling with my favourite TV shows.
20. Mine and Charles’ takeaway and movie nights.
21. Getting home from work.
22. A good cup of tea.
23. Coca Cola from a cold glass bottle, especially on a hot day.
24. Finding a bargain. It makes getting something new feel that little bit sweeter!
25. Going to carboot sales. See above.
26. Books. The way they look, the way they feel, the way the smell, the stories within them.
27. Watching Grav3yardgirl videos.
28. Listening to my favourite music. In particular, Kate Bush, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo and Mike Oldfield take me to my happy place these days.
29. Fireworks. And bonfires. And Bonfire Night in general.
30. Halloween. It’s one of the best days of the year.
31. Going to the cinema.
32. Writing. Blogging, scribbling in my journal before bed, jotting down stories. Love it all.
33. Saving money for a house. I smile every time I see my savings account balance go up.
34. Weekend breakfasts. They usually consist of pain au chocolat, croissants, fruit toast, or something like that. Yum.
35. Storms. Thunder and lightning reminds me that I’m part of something big and powerful, and it’s amazing.
36. Walking and hiking.
37. Geocaching. It’s been a while since I last did any but it’s a lot of fun.
38. My mum’s cats.
39. Boxing Day. I like it more than Christmas Day and Boxing Day lunch is one of the best meals of the year.
40. My birthday.
41. Family and friends’ birthdays.
43. Foot and back rubs.
44. New Walk Museum in Leicester. It’s been one of my favourite places to go since I was a kid.
46. People showing that they care, with a gesture, a question, a smile etc.
47. Getting a good night’s sleep. They’re rare, but damn do I appreciate it when I get one.
48. Winning things. Competitions, games of Monopoly. S’all good.
49. Swimming in the sea.
50. Camping. Feeling the grass on my feet, the fresh smell of dew in the morning, watching the sun set, cooking breakfast on a camping stove. God I love it.
What are 50 things that make you happy?
A few weeks ago the Highcross in Leicester ran a two-day Spring Beauty Fix event, so I headed down on the Saturday to see what was going on.
I decided to get there early so I could appreciate the event before the centre got really busy, and already there was a buzz around what the Beauty Fix had to offer. There were several displays featuring this season’s fashion trends, with a colour consultant on hand to advise on the best colours to suit your style throughout Spring. I had a quick browse of the rails and spotted a cute dress covered in polka dots, which happens to be my favourite print for clothing, so I’m hoping to see more dotty items in the shops soon!
Another stand which caught my eye was the Beauty Amnesty, which invited shoppers to discard five unwanted items of make-up, in exchange for a £10 gift card to be spent on beauty items that day. A great deal considering several brands were offering discounts, and brands such as Nails Inc, Urban Decay and Hotel Chocolat were all giving beauty advice during the event!
There were also many offers to be had on the day in stores, and several freebies up for grabs. Rituals and Decleor were offering complimentary skincare consultations, and Rituals, YSL and Clinique also had free samples and items to give away.
Whilst at the event I also managed to do a bit of shopping, and whilst browsing Debenhams’ beauty offerings I spotted Ghost’s Eclipse fragrance, which I decided to treat myself to. Ghost perfumes are my all-time favourites, and Eclipse’s light floral and fruity notes will be perfect for the coming warm months. I also headed over to H&M as I wanted a new dress, and managed to get a lovely grey number, as well as some cute mouse slippers.
Overall it was a fun day, and I’m looking forward to the next event that Highcross puts on, as they’re always enjoyable.
Last week I was lucky enough to receive some yummy Lindt Easter treats, via the lovely people at Degustabox. I love Lindt chocolate, so this came as a welcome surprise! I was sent a large classic Gold Bunny, as well as a Lindt Gold Bunny Story Book, which is absolutely adorable.
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without a Lindt Gold Bunny. The foil wrapper, red bow and little bell are iconic, and the thick, creamy chocolate is delicious. I always think Lindt’s bunnies are a little bit more luxurious than your average Easter egg, so while they’re great for kids, they’re also ideal for grown ups.
The Gold Bunny Story Book is like an Easter version of an advent calendar, but isn’t dated, so you can open doors and enjoy the treats as and when you wish. The book is quite large, and tells an interactive story whereby you have to seek out the hidden gold bunnies, and open the corresponding door when you find one. The book has eleven doors, each with a treat behind it, and in total you get fifteen treats. Three mini gold bunnies, two lambs, two chicks, three hollow eggs, and five small solid eggs, which is a decent amount of chocolate. Each treat is made from Lindt’s signature milk chocolate.
I hope you’ve all had a lovely Easter so far, and I hope you enjoy the bank holiday tomorrow! What treats have you been enjoying? Did the Easter Bunny bring you one of his gold babies?
*This Lindt Gold Bunny and Lindt Gold Bunny Story Book were sent to me via Degustabox for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
The last couple of months have been ridiculously busy and stressful for Charles and I, what with us both starting new jobs and moving house. This weekend was the first in many that we had time to spend on ourselves, doing whatever we wanted, so that’s exactly what we did! Seeing as Friday was pay day, we spent Saturday shopping, eating in our favourite bar, and in the evening we went to the annual bonfire and fireworks display at the local park.
A relaxed weekend called for a relaxed outfit, and as there is finally an autumn chill in the air, and I was spending most of the day (and evening) outside, it had to be warm too!
These red embroidered trousers are a new purchase of mine. They’re by a French label called Blue Rags, but I actually got them from Everything5Pounds. Most of my wardrobe is black, but I like to add a splash of colour here and there, and these trousers are the ideal shade for Autumn. They’re incredibly soft and comfortable and the detail of the embroidery is stunning. I also ordered a pair in black and I’m so glad I did as they’re a real statement piece.
My Dr Martens Lauren boots are another new purchase. They have that buckled biker look that I adore, so they match my biker jacket, but they’re not as clumpy as a lot of my other Dr Martens. I’ve been wearing these a lot over the last few weeks, casually with jeans, but also with my work dresses, and I think they look great. I walk to work so it’s essential that I have a warm, comfy, waterproof, sturdy pair of boots for the winter, and these tick all the boxes.
A few weeks ago I spotted a breakfast craze on Instagram of something called overnight oats. I’d never heard of them before, but they looked delicious and I couldn’t wait to give them a go. Overnight oats is basically just cold porridge, made overnight in the fridge. All you do is mix one part rolled oats, with one part liquid, sweeten it with whatever you choose, then leave it in the fridge overnight to do its thing. The oats absorb the liquid, and in the morning you’re left with plump, moist oats that are ready to eat without any cooking. You can then top it with whatever you want, and enjoy. My basic recipe for one person is half a cup of oats mixed with half a cup of semi-skimmed milk, but I’ve seen people use juice and nut milks too. Also, if you prefer your oats wetter or drier, you can add more or less liquid accordingly.
My favourite thing about overnight oats is how experimental you can get with them. I’ve had oats almost every day this week, but each bowl has had a different topping, which has stopped me getting bored of my breakfasts. They’re also really filling, and where I’d usually be feeling hungry by about 10:30am, I’ve been full until lunch, which for me is a big thing!
Here are a few of my favourite toppings so far…
Caramel Banana Crunch
Sweetened with: 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Topped with: Half a large banana, Lotus Caramel Biscuit spread, and granola.
Fruity Yoghurt and Blueberries
Sweetened with: 1 tablespoon of raspberry, cranberry, and blueberry yoghurt.
Topped with: Raspberry, cranberry, and blueberry yoghurt, and a handful of blueberries.
Sweetened with: 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.
Topped with: Half a large banana, and milk and white chocolate spread.
Strawberry Coconut Crunch
Sweetened with: Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Topped with: Chopped strawberries, granola, and desiccated coconut.
I have quite a few toppings planned for future overnight oats too, including maple syrup and chopped pecan nuts, apple and cinnamon, and even Oreo biscuits and peanut butter. Definitely more interesting than Cornflakes!
Have you ever tried overnight oats? If so, I’d love to hear your recipe ideas!
I was recently offered a £10 voucher in exchange for a review of takeaway.com, and on Monday after a nice relaxing day, my fiancé and I decided to use the voucher to order pizza.
The takeaway.com website is really simple to use, and is pretty much foolproof, as you are guided through a four stage ordering process. On the homepage you are met with a text box for you to enter your postcode, and once you hit search you are given a list of takeaways that are registered on the site, and which deliver to your home. My postcode brings up 34 results, and you can choose which type of cuisine you specifically want, so there are plenty of options to choose from. There’s even an option to only show vegetarian takeaways, which for veggies like me is particularly useful!
Once you’ve made your choice (we went for a local pizza place we’d never tried before called Tushba Pizza), you are shown the full menu for the takeaway, including any meal deals or special offers, as well as delivery costs, the minimum amount for delivery, and the payment methods they accept.
Tushba does buy one get one free on all pizzas, which is great as it meant my carnivorous fiancé could have a meaty option whilst I settled for their vegetarian pizza. We also ordered a large portion of chips to share, and the whole lot came to just under £14. To add items to your order, you just hit the ‘+’ symbol next to the item, which then lets you choose how many you want of each thing. Then, when you’ve added everything you want, you can submit your order.
The next and final page is where you enter your delivery address and payment details, and you can also pick a time for your order to arrive (we opted for asap as we were very hungry!), plus any ‘remarks’. I assume this is where you tell them if your doorbell is broken or which buzzer to press, but you could always ask them to draw a face on your pizza box or something…
The whole ordering process only takes a few minutes, and is incredibly fuss-free, so you can just sit back and relax and wait for your feast to arrive! Our order arrived in about half an hour which is pretty good timing. The food itself was hot, looked amazing and tasted delicious. The portions were also very generous, so much so that I couldn’t eat all of my pizza in one go so I had a cold pizza lunch the next day – yum!
Overall, our experience with takeaway.com was a positive one, and we’d definitely use the website AND Tushba Pizza again.
*I was given a £10 voucher on behalf of takeaway.com to review the takeaway.com website. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
Day two of the Waterstones Blogger Murder Mystery and suspicions are still running high. As part of the murder case of my ex-husband Mat, I gave the following statement to Detective Michael Scott:
“I’m not surprised someone finally decided to put Mat out of everybody’s misery, but if you think it was me, you’re sorely mistaken. True, Sophie and that bimbo Katrina saw me leave the table just before Mat was killed, but I was in the upstairs bathroom at the time, trying to keep those awful cupcakes down.”
And it’s all true. Have you worked out who did it yet? Head over to Twitter via the #BloggerMystery tag to get involved questioning us suspects, and be in with a chance of winning £100 worth of Waterstones vouchers!
Last Friday I was among a few lucky bloggers and press who got to attend the Zatchels Factory Shop VIP launch event in Leicester. For those who don’t know (and I’m sure there aren’t many) Zatchels are a fashion brand who design and create leather satchels, saddle bags, barrel bags, duffel bags and other accessories, using traditional British manufacturing methods. Their factory is located in Leicester, where highly skilled staff make every single bag by hand, and everything is made to order. Leicester used to have a thriving manufacturing industry, which many of my relatives worked in, so as a Leicester girl born and bred I like to see a Leicester brand doing so well, and I was very keen to support them on their factory shop launch day.
The event started with a chance to meet the brains behind the brand, including Company Directors Dean Clarke and Brian Brady, and Zatchels Creative Director and celebrity stylist Gemma Sheppard, who it was great to meet. We also got to preview some bags from a few new collections which are yet to be launched, and they are absolutely stunning! This pretty little thing was my particular favourite…
Once everyone had arrived Dean and Brian took us on a tour of the Zatchels factory, which had a friendly atmosphere and bright interior, what with all the piles of different leathers – it was amazing to see! We got to watch how each bag is made by hand, from selecting the leather, cutting it and putting all the parts together, right up to quality control and packing. It was so interesting to see the process from start to finish, and I can assure you that so much care and effort is put into every single product.
After the tour, we were taken to the factory shop for its official opening. There were some yummy ‘Best of British’ nibbles on offer, including Zatchels cupcakes from Bitsy’s Cupcakery and Sweet Eve strawberries, and we had the opportunity to browse the bags on offer and have another chat with the other guests and Zatchels directors.
The Zatchels Factory Shop is based at 10 Charter Street, Leicester, which is located very close to the city centre (about a 5 minute walk) and has ample parking. The shop will be open every Wednesday to Friday from 12pm until 6pm, and Saturday 10am until 5pm, and there is a mix of factory seconds and sample bags for sale, as well as quality retail products. Every bag in the shop has been graded and priced accordingly, as follows:
Grade A – Perfect Quality – Full Price
Grade B – Slight Imperfections – 30% off
Grade C – Stitching Imperfections or Scratches – 40% off
I checked lots of the bags over myself to see how noticeable the imperfections are, and even the Grade C bags are still brilliant quality (I could barely find anything wrong with them) so you really can get yourself a bargain.
I had such a fun day at the Zatchels VIP event. It was really nice to meet some other Leicester bloggers and chat to the Zatchels team, and I loved having a look behind the scenes at the process that goes into making every single Zatchels bag. All guests left with a goody bag too, which was a really nice touch. I plan on doing another post soon with advice on how to style your Zatchels bag, so keep an eye out for that!
Early last month I launched my Budget Beauty Blogger Swap. The budget for the swap was £10/€12/$16, and the aim was to buy your swap partner as many beauty products as you could within the budget – quite a challenge, but not impossible! So far, I have already seen quite a few posts from bloggers sharing their swap parcels, and everything sent and received has been brilliant.
Today it was my turn to receive my parcel all the way from Beverly Hills in LA. My swap partner was the lovely India, a US beauty blogger who runs beautynthbrains. I answered the door to the postman this morning to see him holding a box with the US postal logo on it, and I knew what it was straight away. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was really excited to see what was inside the parcel so I opened it in a hurry, and was met by this pretty pink, spiralled package, packed full of amazing products.
When I saw this little haul I was over the moon! Everything India sent is exactly my colour, and I was really happy to receive products from so many brands that we don’t have in the UK. I will be reviewing each of the products separately in the coming weeks once I’ve had a chance to use them properly, but here are my first thoughts on everything…
Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Collection in Shimmer The Night Away
I was incredibly happy to receive a Wet n Wild eyeshadow palette, as I have heard a lot of good things about them and they are highly sought after in the UK. The palette I received is Shimmer The Night Away, which features eight shimmery shades – four suitable for a smoky eye look, and four pinks and purples which are my go-to colours – perfect.
Everyday Minerals Stay Cool Matte Eyes Eyeshadow
Everyday Minerals isn’t a brand that I’m familiar with, and I don’t own many mineral eyeshadows, so I’m really looking forward to experimenting with this. The colour is a deep grey with a lovely violet undertone, which will incorporate well into my usual colour palette.
Sephora Nano Eye Pencil in Midnight Black
India and I told each other a few items that we had been lusting after, and Sephora Nano Eyeliner was one of mine. I adore bold, black eyeliner looks so this is ideal for me. I’ve swatched the liner on my hand and, as the Sephora website says, it is highly pigmented and glides on easily as it’s enriched with shea butter.
Sephora Ultra Vinyl Lip Pencil in Fuchsia Pink
Sephora’s Ultra Vinyl Lip Pencil in Fuchsia Pink was another of my requests, and it hasn’t disappointed. I wore this today and it applies smoothly and lasts a very long time. The bright pink shade is absolutely stunning, and the micro-glitter finish gives incredibly shine. I think it’s reminiscent of Barry M’s Lip Lacquer Crayon in Party Pink. Gorgeous!
Sephora Pencil Sharpener
I’ve been meaning to buy a new pencil sharpener for ages now as my old one is on its way out, so this was a great little accessory to find in my swap parcel. India must have read my mind!
Model Co Lip Gloss
Model Co is another brand that I’ve never used before. The gloss doesn’t have a name or colour labelled on it, but it’s a bright shimmery pinky red with a sheer finish. I didn’t find the gloss overly sticky when I tried it on earlier, and it has an intense strawberry scent and flavour which I love. The mirror on the tube is so handy too. I’ll definitely be using this gloss on a regular basis.
Beauty So Clean Cosmetic Sanitizer Wipes
India also sent me four cosmetic sanitizer wipes which are for cleaning cosmetics before or after use. Another nice little addition which will be carried in my make up bag for cleansing on the go.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with what I received in my swap parcel. I imagine India went over the budget with her buys, so thank you India for being so generous and sending me so many fantastic treats. I feel well and truly spoilt today! Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph everything I sent, but hopefully India will share everything in a post of her own when her parcel arrives. I posted almost two weeks ago so fingers crossed it will reach the US soon!
I plan on linking to everyone’s swap parcel posts in a blog post very soon, so if you’ve received your parcel and have blogged about it please let me know!