Slimming World Journey: Weeks 1-3

As you are aware if you follow us on Instagram, I am now trying Slimming World as part of my plan to lose the desk chair arse I have acquired over the past few years. So far, so good. I mean, I still have ass but the numbers on the scales are going way down.

Here are the results so far:

Week 1: -5.5lb loss

Week 2: -3.5lb loss

Week 3: -2lb loss

Needless to say I am pretty chuffed with the results! I know the first week of any diet is always the best and is usually the biggest loss, but I am hoping to maintain a 2lb loss a week – but any loss will make me happy!

Considering that the only thing I have changed is my meals – and I am now eating breakfast which is a meal I haven’t eaten since I was 10, I think this is pretty good going.

I literally don’t do any exercise – I have an office job, I drive everywhere, and the furthest I walk is upstairs in my own house.

I do intend to include exercise into my new lifestyle, but I don’t want too much too soon and end up burning out and giving up like I have done so many times before. I will soon be walking from the car park for work rather than catching the park and ride bus, which saves me £24 a month and means I will be walking up a very steep hill for 1.6 miles a day.

Hopefully this will keep me on track before adding an actual gym routine a few times a week!

But for now, my first few weeks on Slimming World were very easy with just small adjustments to what I used to eat – I don’t feel deprived or like it is an actual diet.

In these three weeks I have still had a whole weekend from dieting for a hen party in Manchester complete with Nando’s, Wetherspoon’s breakfast, alcohol and a cheeseburger at 2am as well as the odd takeaway or two.

For example, my usual order from the chippy is a chicken and mushroom pie, a cone of chips and a scallop with a can of Fanta and usually a slice or two of bread, whereas now I have a cone of chips, fish with the batter taken off, mushy peas and a Diet Coke. But with this, I will usually eat an apple and a nectarine before my dinner so I don’t eat so much and still get my Speed Foods in!

For those who think a crash diet is the way to lose serious lbs you’re right, but it’s the worst thing to do if you actually want to maintain your weight loss (and I imagine that you do).

I have tried many diets from juicing, to 5:2 to Atkins, to point blank 800 calories a day, and I can firmly tell you that none of them are sustainable.

Slimming World is the food lover’s diet, and as I say there is initially no exercise involved, unless you really want to you don’t actually have to – but it helps.

If you are looking for a change in your life, I firmly think this is for you – don’t wait until Monday, or next week, start now and visit your local group. I’m so glad I did, I just wish I’d have done it sooner.

Are you on Slimming World? We would love to hear about your journey, and new recipes would be hugely appreciated.

You can follow my food diary on Instagram, and I would love to follow yours!

– love Carla x

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SimplyCook: Restaurant quality food at home

The internet is inundated with goodie boxes being delivered to your door, from beauty to food to stuff for your pets, it’s hard to know what’s legit, what’s worth the money and what isn’t.

I stumbled upon SimplyCook by accident, but I am glad I did. Here’s the details:

What’s in the box?

Firstly I’ll point out the box fits perfectly through a letter box, and it took two days to arrive – now that is service!

There are four individual boxes inside, each containing ingredients for some VERY tasty food, along with four very simply recipe cards.
simply cook

Each individual box has three separate pots of spices/herbs/pastes to make something delicious, and it contains enough to serve two – although if you upped the other ingredients I don’t see why you couldn’t get them to serve four.

chicken tinga

I started with the Chicken Tinga – very simple and I already had in the kitchen everything I needed to make it. I’m no chef, but the recipe cards are definitely idiot proof – they are so simple any one could do it!

From covering the chicken in a paste…

chicken tinga copy

To adding herbs to some oven-baked tomatoes to make the tastiest salsa!

All in all it took around 40 minutes cooking time, but in the end we had these beauties:

chicken tinga wrap

And they were beyond tasty! We also had Goan Fish Curry (but the bf doesn’t “do” fish so we swapped it for chicken) and it was the best curry I honestly think we have ever had.

The flavours are just amazing, so much so we have attempted and failed miserably to re-create it to no avail! The next few pics are a bit of food porn for the foodie in you…

goan curry

curry2

There is no way I could have created the flavours in these meals on my own – simple yet so tasty and flavourful.

goan curry finished

Finally we tried the Vietnamese Pork – this was unlike anything I have ever tried, it was sweet and delicious.

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As I said, there are four recipes per box and only three in this post… Let’s just say a very overexcited cat may have somehow chewed through the box and the plastic tubs. I was not happy!

Overall, I will definitely be buying one of these in the future. I don’t necessarily think one a week, but one a month would be ideal. At £8.99 a box with free delivery this really is a favourite and one I will be returning for again.

I couldn’t recommend them enough – and what’s more, all of the meals are calorie counted and are very low in calories. I am on a Slimming World journey and I found it easy to work out syns and still enjoy the meals!

Have you tried SimplyCook? We would love to hear your thoughts!

– love Carla x

*This post contains a press sample kindly provided by SimplyCook.com

Recipe: Mint Aero Birthday Cheesecake

Mint Aero Cheesecake 3

As it was the boyf.’s birthday a few weeks back, I thought I’d don my chef whites once again and attempt to make a cheesecake that he’d been eyeing up online for a while.

I’ve made a cheesecake before and it was actually a success, but I cheated slightly by using a pre-made base. This time I was going all out by making everything, and I can safely say although it went down a treat with the birthday boy, I never want to smell another mint Aero for as long as I live…

Mint Aero Cheesecake 1

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 4oz digestive biscuits (around 12 biscuits)
  • 3oz melted butter

For the cheesecake:

  • 320g soft cheese (Philadelphia or the like)
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 250ml whipping cream
  • 2 large  mint Aero bars
  • 1 bag of mint Aero Bubbles (optional)

Method:

1. Place the digestive biscuits into a food bag, seal and than bash the living daylights out of them until finely crushed

2. Tip the biscuits crumbs into a bowl and slowly add in the melted butter, mixing as you go

3. Line your tin with clingfilm (easy way to get the cheesecake out later, always thinking)

4. Evenly cover the bottom of the tin with the crushed biscuit mix

5. In another bowl (obvs) mix together the Philadelphia and the icing sugar

6. Whip up the whipping cream and add to the Philadelphia mixture

7. Grate the two large Aero bars

*You will hate your life as you get covered in melted minty chocolate, but stick with it*

8. Add 3/4 of the grated Aero to the Philadelphia mixture

9. Spread the mixture onto the biscuit base, sprinkle the rest of the grated Aero on top and decorate with the Aero Bubbles

10. Leave in the fridge for at least 12 hours to ensure it’s fully set

Et voilà! A mint Aero cheesecake fit for a birthday cake replacement 🙂

– love Stef x

Poundworld Beauty: July 2015

poundshop header

Hello!

As you are all very aware by now I love a good bargain, so I thought I would share with you my cracking deals once again.

First up, the Elegant Touch fake nails:

nails

I get SO excited when I manage to find these as they retail from £6.99 each, so to get all three for £3 is brilliant!

Next was the Sally Hansen Hard As Nails nylon treatment – this stuff is fantastic for strengthening nails.

I use it as a basecoat and you can really feel the difference. It is something I would pay full price for, its RRP is £4.75 in Boots at the moment, so again for £1 I’m well in!

hard as nails

And finally, probably my favourite part of this haul as I have NEVER seen the full size bottles sell for less than £3 is Aussie Luscious Long Conditioner:

aussie

Any female knows how good this stuff is, and the smell is incredible! I did hunt for more bottles or the matching shampoo but to no avail, but again this was an amazing find!

Head on down to Poundworld and grab yourself some serious beauty bargains!

– love Carla x

Gym wear review: Skechers Flex Appeal

As you know, SWHH tends to focus on the normal struggles of normal twenty-somethings (well, as normal as myself and Miss Regan can get) and with those struggles comes the constant attempts at maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.

You’ve read about our juice diets, various 30-day fitness challenges and now the Slimming World journey my co-editor is currently embarking on. As for me, I feel for the first time that I’m very much in a good, controlled and happy place when it comes to my health and fitness.

I’ve managed to find a routine that doesn’t feel like a laborious chore and I’ve changed my diet to accommodate a few things that I never thought it would… Yes people, I’ve boycotted the blue WKD and instead embraced the world of fruit juice *gasp* and even *faint*

That aside, I’ve also stuck to going to the gym four days a week, trimmed my food portions and upped Denver’s walks so we both have a bit more cardio going on – and it’s working. But, because of new said lifestyle, I’ve had to say goodbye to my old gym attire and welcome some new hardcore gym bunny clothing (yes, that sentence just happened).

First up are my new trainers. These are the Skechers Flex Appeal in pink (obvs) and despite not being a girly girl, I absolutely LOVE them!

Feeling like an utterly cool late-90s Britney, I’ve always had a slight soft spot for the American shoe company, although I didn’t know that they actually make damn good trainers.

Yes they’re pegged as a ‘running shoe’ and you all know by now that I ain’t no runner, but in terms of going to the gym and taking the dog out on his walks, these are the most comfortable trainers I’ve ever worn. The memory foam insole is genius, moulding to my feet so that every time I put them on it’s like walking on a pillow and the mesh fabric sends a lovely breeze of fresh air through to keep everything nice and cool.

Skechers Flex Appeal, £58.99, Cloggs

If I were to take up running (and when I wear these, the really ambitious part of me thinks I can) they would definitely be the shoes I would wear. Having abnormally thin feet, I’m also often plagued with the delight that is ‘new shoe blisters’ but they didn’t even fall foul of that fate, which in itself is miraculous.

The saying ‘Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life‘, (which I live by FYI), is in this instance true. Looking more the part and feeling unbelievably comfortable have been key to the maintaining of my new regime.

I’m also fairly certain that good ol’ Cinders would be rocking a pair of these beauties if you stumbled across her at the gym…

– love Stef x

Slimming World: Week 1

It is no secret I need a good diet. I have tried everything from Atkins, gluten free, meat free, 5:2, juicing to plain old starving myself. Some of it works briefly, some not at all, but what I have learnt is that none of it is sustainable. The only one I surprisingly felt ok doing was the juice diet, mainly because I was drinking so much I was never hungry,but you can only do liquids for so long, so every now and then I’ll do a three day juice cleanse to re-set my body if I have had a particularly bad week but other than that, these “diets” for me just don’t work. And right there is why, they were diets and not a lifestyle change – which was what I am in desperate need of. So I joined Slimming World. All I can say is wow. I can eat so much food it’s not a diet, and I am finding it SO easy!

What is Slimming World?

I would basically call it the food lovers diet, simply because you can eat so much, you can have naughty treats (Syns) and not feel guilty, and it is incredibly easy to maintain. It has changed now and gone are the Red and Green days, instead it is Extra Easy and Extra Easy SP. It is all about Food Optimising and combinations of food that speed up your weight loss whilst keeping you fuller for longer. It is broken down into three basic categories: Free Foods, Healthy Extras and Syns. You need to incorporate all three for this to work, for you to maintain and not feel deprived of food.

Free Food

Free Foods are the best bit – you can have as much as you want, no weighing, measuring or calorie counting. Free Foods include:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Meat Replacement
  • Eggs
  • Rice and Pasta
  • Beans, Peas and Pulses
  • Some dairy products

Basically pile your plate high with pasta or potatoes if you fancy it -it’s all about what you eat with it that makes it work, the important bit being Speed Foods marked with and “S” in the bible you get for joining. For example, you want Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, go for it pile on the pasta and the meat, your speed food will be the veg you have with it, and make the sauce with passata to keep it Syn free!

Healthy Extras

Healthy Extras are the bits you can’t eat so much of, but you must still have one of each a day. You will have an “A” choice (hexa) being dairy foods high in Calcium such as cheeses and milk, and your “B” choice (hexb) will be items high in Fibre such as some cereals, bread, canned soups, nuts and seeds. This was a tiny struggle for me as I always use mozzarella cheese as my healthy extra A choice but I can only have 50g a day and anything else dairy I use my Syns for. Sounds adequate for some, but cheese is definitely my favourite thing in the world so it is hard to weight it out and put the rest away.

Syns

Syns are the good bits of food you really love, chocolate, crisps, naught cereals, ice lollies, alcohol and basically everything I have way too much of. The way it works is you have 5 to 15 Syns a day so you don’t feel deprived, so if you want a jam and cream doughnut you can have one, but it will cost you 12 Syns! You can be flexile with your Syns, so if you want to save them for the weekend you can, but always set a new goal to stay within your allowance and keep you on track.

Food Diary

That may all seem a bit much for someone who has no clue what Slimming World is, but I promise it is way easier than it sounds! Here is a typical weekday for me, as I work in an office it can be easy to pick at food, but I have managed to rope three of my colleagues into joining so it is much easier for me now!

Breakfast

1 slice of wholemeal toast (hexb) no butter (because gross!)

1 poached egg (you can have as many as you want, it’s Free!)

Mushrooms (Speed food)

Grilled tomatoes (S)

Baked beans (Free)

Then in the car I will eat an apple (S) and a nectarine (S)

Lunch

Jacket potato (Free)

Baked Beans (Free)

50g grated mozzarella cheese (hexa)

Salad – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion red pepper and carrot (all S)

Strawberries and an apple (S) in a mullerlight (Free)

Dinner

Turkey breast steaks with lemon, garlic and Italian herbs (Free)

Sweet potato fries made with Fry Light and salt (Free)

Roasted vegetables (S)

Snacks

I generally pick at blueberries during the day at work, and at around 3pm I have a cup of tea (1/2 syn)

with 2 jaffa cakes (5 syns)

Day finished with 5.5 syns out of 15.

I am a creature of habit, so I actually eat the same things most days for ease, unless I want a lie in then of course I have two Rocky Road Hi-Fi bars (which are AMAZING but only available for purchase from the class, but I hear you can buy them from Ebay!) and my fruit on the way to work. All diet drinks are FREE, so I drink a LOT of Diet Coke!

Weight lost

This is the exciting bit, I have done no exercise at all, and literally the only thing I have changed is what I eat, and I actually never used to have breakfast so now I eat even more! I went to my first weigh in on Wednesday and lost 5lbs!

Whilst writing this I am nearly through my second week, and I have had a sneaky go on the scales and I have got say I am VERY pleased with the results so far! I have a few recipes I want to try so stay tuned and follow my food diary over on Instagram.

If you are on Slimming World and have any tips or recipes you want to share we would love to hear from you!

love Carla x

 

 

Places to visit in Shropshire: Greenfield’s Farm Shop

greenfields

I have lived in Shropshire for 15 years and I am sad to say I am only just appreciating it now – from the Ironbridge Gorge to the Victorian town of Shrewsbury, there really is  a lot to appreciate.

So as summer has finally arrived, we decided to grab some goodies for a picnic and what better than organic, cruelty-free food?

I am a foodie and very much a meat eater, but I absolutely do not agree with the cruelty of battery farming that can come with it, so obviously a farm shop is the best place to go, and what a treat!

Behold, Greenfield’s – a tiny piece of heaven for any foodie!

greenfields2

The fresh fruit is mouth-wateringly colourful…

fruit

fruit2

They even have freshly baked cakes with locally sourced ingredients.

cake

There is a deli counter full of meats, cheeses and everything else you could possibly desire…

cheese

deli

deli2

And every flavour of jam you could ever dream of!

jams

basket

We left with freshly made pasties, sandwiches and fruit. Our only problem was to decide where to tucker down with our goodies.

In the end we settled for our own back garden, since we have lived in our new home for nearly two months and never actually spent time in it!

IMG_6273copy

If you ever find yourself visiting Shropshire, I seriously recommend paying Greenfield’s a visit, they have two shops on Telford, and one is just a 60-second drive from Junction 4 of the M54.

The food is delicious and the staff are so friendly – I’ll be heading back soon for a homemade cheesecake!

– love Carla x

Poundworld Beauty Bargains

poundshop beauty

As much as I love a pound shop haul, I do get a teeny bit annoyed when I think back to being a teenager, where I spent many hours in Boots looking at the shiny beautiful make-up counters full of things I just couldn’t afford, with no option for bargains.

Pound shops have definitely progressed in the last ten years, and I find that teenagers these days are now skipping the awkward phase of “finding make-up” simply because everything is much more affordable.

Anyway, let’s crack on with the haul:

First up a re-purchase from my last pound shop haul, Clearasil’s Superfruits Refreshing Pads are my new favourite thing!

clearasil poundshop

I use these after I have wiped my make-up off but before any serums and eye cream. It is amazing for getting up any last bits of foundation I’ve missed and has a textured surface to remove dead skin.

The smell is a little strong but I can deal with that as it has definitely cleared up my skin – I absolutely recommend this!

Next I wanted to try out some new face wipes, and when you come across brand like Nivea, you can’t really go wrong.

nivea face wipes

Fragrance-free is always the best for your wipes as I find those that are heavily scented really sting the eyes – not a good feeling!

These are brilliant – they remove waterproof mascara and all of the other lotions and potions I put on my face, leaving it feeling refreshed.

I wandered on over to the beauty counter and after much digging, found an absolute bargain:

wake me up

I am a new convert to Rimmel’s Wake Me Up Range, so when I saw these I had to snap them up.

I’ve seen them in Boots (I think) for around £4, so to get two shades for £2 is just bargainous!

I have an olive complexion which means in the winter my skin looks almost grey, and in the summer I am really very brown. So with these, the pink will be perfect for winter and the peach sits lovely under the Wake Me Up Foundation in the summer.

They are very subtle tones, and now I have used them I would purchase them at full price.

Finally, while rooting through a bargain bucket, I did indeed find a bargain, my FAVOURITE fake nails in the best possible finish, pink glitter!

elegant touch nails

I have had these before, and they retail at £7.99 a pack so I don’t really need to say any more!

Although these are the sticky tab ones which I find just do nothing for me, I do have my trusty stock of Elegant Touch Nail Glue which keeps them on for at least a week!

So there you have it – a £5 haul that would have a retail price of at least £20, can’t say fairer than that!

Thanks Poundworld!

Have you picked up any good deals lately? We’d love to see them!

– love Carla x

Shopping: The Birthday Haul

My 26th birthday came and went *sob* but at least I got some beautiful gifts. I am a serious lover of candles, make up and all the other typically girlie things you can think of, so when I cracked open this little lot I was a very happy girlie!

 

I am a lover of the Real Techniques brushes, and up until the big day I only owned the Core Collection, so I was SO pleased to unwrap these beauties! They are a perfect mix of brushes, and with the Core Collection, I feel I have a complete set to do my make up, and it makes my morning routine that little bit more exciting.

The lovely purse was courtesy of the bf, and I am in love with the colour! I love a bright purse, and I like that I don’t have a bag in that colour, so things don’t get too match-matchy.

Next the Lily Flame candles, they smell DELICIOUS. I have roughly a million candles dotted around my house and they are mostly of the Yankee variety (see gifts 6 and 7) but I came across Lily Flame and I fell in love. They are hard to come by in the shops but Very.co.uk  have started selling them and I couldn’t recommend them more! They make the house smell incredible, and when the candle has burnt down, just leave the lid off the jar – it is better than any air freshener!

Estee Lauder is one of my favourite make up brands, and the perfumes are just as lovely. Beautiful is one of my favourite scents in my more “grown up” collection of perfume.

Yankee Candle – really need no explanation.

Next, my lovely Ted Baker bag. I have been after a nice casual shooter for a while and this fits the bill. There’s a zip compartment inside for valuables, but my favourite bit is the fact it is wipe clean – my bags don’t generally stay clean for long!

And finally, this is by far my favourite gift:

personalsed notebook

I am so very pleased with my new notebook! I have notebook after notebook of endless scribbles and musings, but this is my absolute favourite, courtesy of a Miss Keeling, and although you can’t tell from the pic, it’s embossed gold and is just so lovely!

Well that’s my little lot, and I had a very happy birthday.

– love Carla x

 

The dogs that change lives #5 – Hounds for Heroes

The last of my dogs that change lives series saw me and Big Les attend Crufts 2011, where I’d arranged to meet Allen Parton.

I already knew of Allen thanks to his book about Endal – a dog that was quite like no other. This is their story:

Allen Parton & EJ – Hounds for Heroes

Allen Parton & EJ - Hounds for Heroes

Two years to the day that he lost his beloved assistance dog, Endal, Allen Parton sits at a Crufts stall, set-up for his new charity, Hounds for Heroes, alongside Endal’s successor, three-year-old EJ.

Allen has come a long way since his injuries in the Gulf War, which robbed him of his memories and left him severely disabled.

Not only does he have his charity, created to help train dogs to assist the injured British service men and women, and a second book coming out, but also a movie of his life with Endal is in production, with a recent Oscar-winner cast to play him.

He says: “The Endal movie is definitely happening. They have Kate Winslet playing my wife and Colin Firth is playing me – filming is eminent.”

But books and films aside, Allen’s mission is to show that there are nearly a million injured service men and women in Britain, left to battle on through trauma, disability and bereavement long after a war has ended.

“Everyday I have to wake up and bring the wheelchair to my bed, and although I don’t remember the incident, each day since has been a struggle.

“We launched Hounds for Heroes in April 2010 and our main aim is to educate the services about us. We set out to raise £100,000 to enable us to buy and train five puppies to meet the specific needs of their owners,” Allen says.

“This is because I realised most charities and their assistance dos are aimed at a 48-year-old woman suffering from MS, who can be trained to open and close washing machines.

“What marine really wants a dog that can use a washing machine?”

The philosophy behind Allen’s charity is to remove the sense of disability and replace it with a feeling of ability, taking away the stigma of using canine assistance.

He says: “We are about ability not disability, solutions not problems. Our dogs will have jackets with embroided medals on and in the colours of each armed force, so that they become a badge of honour.”

Having an assistance dog is a powerful thing, not just for the injured veteran, but for the families as well.

“We have a client who was injured in Bosnia and we were chatting over the phone about him having a dog, and his children ran to their mum to ask why their dad was making a funny noise – it was the first time they had heard him laugh.”

But Hounds for Heroes would not have existed had it not been for Endal, the dog that Allen often claims saved not only his life, but also his marriage to wife, Sandra.

“Endal found me in a place that I shouldn’t have been in and he dragged me further away from that.

“I was lucky enough to be brought back to my wife, as I had no memory of her or my children, but we fell in love again. It was through the love of Endal that brought me back to them,” he says.

EJ, Ikea & Endal - Hounds for Heroes

“Someone once described my life as a jigsaw puzzle blown up in the Gulf War and every day, he went off and got another piece of that puzzle and brought it back to me.

“Although I’m not the person who went away, he made sense of what was left.”

Labrador Endal hadn’t received any assistance dog training other than a year of puppy socialising, learning how to behave in different situations, such as on public transport, and general manners like sit and stay.

Allen says: “People thought he was a fully trained dog but he wasn’t. He was just very intuitive, comprehending my every wish and need.

“To this day we’ll never know how he learned certain skills, like how to put me in the recovery position.”

And it was that particular skill that brought Endal to the nation’s attention when he and Allen were struck by a car in 2001.

“Endal got up knowing to put me in the recovery position, cover me with a blanket that was under the remains of the buckled wheelchair, crawl under a car to retrieve my mobile phone and try to wake me.

“When that failed, he limped off to a nearby hotel to raise the alarm, and for that he won the Victoria Cross.”

On March 13, 2009, 13-year-old Endal had to be put down after suffering from a stroke.

Allen says: “For a long time it was like Groundhog Day because I would forget Endal had died, and so every morning I had to grieve for him, which was quite hurtful – a rawness that he wasn’t there.”

Since then, Labrador EJ, short for Endal Junior, has been Allen’s partner in crime, assisting him without fault.

“When I took EJ on at eight weeks old, he and Endal had a year together, which for me was very important.

“Even from very early on, EJ would watch Endal and when I would fall unconscious, he just clicked that it was a serious sign and took over – the skills were transferred and it was a lovely learning curve.”

EJ has since mastered every command and skill that Endal did, including using a cash machine, retrieving items from supermarket shelves, pulling the plug out of the bath and operating switches and buttons.

Allen says: “EJ knows what he is doing – he really is on the ball and has taken to lead. As a one-year-old pup, he was doing everything that Endal had done, and I didn’t see that coming. I hadn’t realised how much EJ had learned from him.

“We do live quite a choreographed life,” he says. “I just know that when my hand goes down, he’s by my side. He’s constantly there on a physical level and very much on an emotional level.

“I thought I was lucky with Endal, but I am truly blessed to have EJ.”

The dogs that change lives #4 – Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

The penultimate piece of my 2011 dissertation on the dogs that change lives was the story of three incredible canines:

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

Nearly nine million people in the UK suffer from an invisible disability, which can leave them feeling isolated and lonely – its name? Deafness.

One in seven adults will experience some form of hearing loss, and learning to live with this disability can have a devastating effect on a person’s life.

Many sufferers say they lost their sense of security, confidence and independence when they lost their hearing, often becoming withdrawn, as they find it increasingly hard to communicate.

But there is hope in the form of organisation, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Launched at Crufts in 1982, the charity trains dogs to alert deaf people to everyday household sounds, and danger signals in the home, workplace and in public buildings.

Since its launch, it has created more than 1,600 partnerships between deaf people and hearing dogs in the UK with 750 currently working today.

Don Sharpe & Mitchell - Hearing Dogs

Don Sharpe, aged 60, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire, discovered he was losing his hearing 12 years ago, and his world fell apart.

As a qualified music teacher, he played the organ six days a week, and his hearing loss meant he struggled to adjust to his world of virtual silence.

He says: “I found myself withdrawing into my shell and became fearful of the ever increasing busy world. I tried to involve myself in charity work, but on one occasion, I was staying overnight at a university campus when there was a fire in a nearby building.

“Everybody was evacuated on the signal of the smoke alarm but I slept through it, not realising it was sounding.

“It was then that I decided to apply for a hearing dog, who would not only alert me to danger signals such as smoke alarms, but also to everyday household sounds like the doorbell.”

Three years ago, Don was matched to Mitchell, a five-year-old fox-terrier border collie cross, and life has reverted back to much of what it was before.

“Sadly there can never be music again,” says Don, “but having Mitchell by my side has allowed me to avoid much of the stresses of deafness and what was becoming a dangerous world for me.

“He is my best friend, my dearest trusted companion. I couldn’t be without him and he is a big part of who I am now.”

Hearing dogs alert their deaf owners to sounds by touching them with a paw or nudging with their nose to gain attention. By asking ‘what is it?’ via voice or hand command, the dog will then lead the owner to the source of the sound.

For danger signals like a smoke alarm, the hearing dog will alert the owner in the same way until asked ‘what is it?’ when they will then lie down to indicate the danger.

There are around 50,000 people who have been profoundly deaf since birth or early infancy, and Ken James from Brighton, is one of those people, having been deaf since the age of two.

Ken James & Zoe - Hearing Dogs

He says: “I grew up in an orphanage, feeling isolated and alone. This had an effect on my adult life and even though I am happily married with two grown-up children, I still won’t go to the shops on my own due to my lack of confidence.”

Things improved for Ken when his medical consultant suggested he find out about applying for a hearing dog.

“I got Drake when I was studying for my university degree and he made such a difference to my life. I eventually graduated and became a qualified social worker.

“Drake was beside me every step of the way and I was devastated when he passed away. I started to become a bit of a recluse again, missing callers at the door because my companion wasn’t there to let me know when the doorbell had rang,” says Ken.

“Then in December 2009, Zoe came into my life and everything changed for better. We went Christmas shopping together, which was something I would never have done without her.”

Hearing dogs, like two-year-old flat-coat retriever labrador cross, Zoe, wear distinctive burgundy jackets and leads slip, which helps to identify their owner’s otherwise invisible disability to passers-by.

Ken says: “Zoe was really calm with the crowds and I felt at ease in a way that I just couldn’t have on my own. She loves what she does and she gives so much, even teaching herself new sounds to alert me to.

“Hearing Dogs is a wonderful organisation and Zoe is a wonderful friend. I’ll be saying thank you for the rest of my years.”

As well as bringing increased peace of mind to their deaf owner, hearing dogs are also a practical alternative to technical equipment.

Nina, a five-year-old Lhasa Apso, opened up a whole new world to owner Sheila Aston, from Lancashire, who had become deaf due to an accident at work in 1966.

Sheila Aston & Nina - Hearing Dogs

Sheila, now 70, was in her 20s with a young family when she was involved in the accident, which buried her under six feet of iron racks.

She says: “The poles had gone over like skittles, with me underneath – it took a group of men to get me out. Not only did I lose my hearing but I also suffered with tinnitus, head pain, facial paralysis and even a white streak in my hair.”

A blood clot, as a result of the accident, travelled through Sheila’s body and settled in her brain, triggering the paralysis and hearing loss. Although the tinnitus eventually subsided, her hearing never returned.

“When I was working, I hid my deafness from my bosses as I knew I would be sacked if found out,” she says. “I could never go out with a group of people because I wouldn’t be able to lip read everyone well enough.”

Six years ago, when visiting the audiology department at her local hospital, Sheila was told that she needed help to cope with everyday life and the use of a hearing dog was suggested – two years later, she was partnered with Nina.

Shelia says: “I loved Nina from the moment I met her, she is such a character and is my best friend – a constant companion. She has given me back my freedom and I feel safer with her.

“I feel better with her by my side and I can sleep better at night because I know that she will alert me if the smoke alarm goes off.

“Who would have thought that one little dog could make such a big difference to my life?”

The dogs that change lives #3 – Support Dogs

The third story from my 2011 dissertation about the dogs that change lives:

Jenny Dennis & Jarvis – Support Dogs

Jenny Dennis  & Jarvis - Support Dogs

More than 500,000 people in the UK suffer from autism, and over half of those are children aged 16 and under. Although there is no cure, there is a solution that could ease the lives of thousands of families across the country.

Enter Jarvis, a three-year-old yellow Labrador cross Golden Retriever, who for almost two years has given life back to the Dennis family, after being matched to nine-year-old autism sufferer, Isaac, by charity Support Dogs.

Support Dogs is a national charity, which trains dogs to help improve the lives of people with epilepsy, physical disabilities and children with autism.

Isaac’s mum, Jenny Dennis, says: “After hearing about Support Dogs’ launching of its Autism Assistance programme, myself and my husband Phil wondered if this could be a way forward for Isaac.

“We decided to begin the application process with the hope of giving not only Isaac and ourselves a better family life, but also his twin sister, Jessica.”

Autism is a disorder of neural development, distinguished by three main symptoms; impairments in social interaction; impairments in communication; and restricted interests and repetitive behaviour.

“Before we had Jarvis, people had a tendency to stare if Isaac was reacting badly to his surroundings, and as he and Jessica got older, it became harder for her to cope with the responses of passers-by.

“Isaac’s latest thing to do is to growl at people, I can laugh it off, but for a nine-year-old girl, it’s not as easy,” Jenny says.

The family, who live in Heanor, Derbyshire, also found it increasingly difficult to have family outings due to Isaac’s unpredictable behaviour and aversion to busy or noisy environments.

“Like many people with severe autism, Isaac has heightened sensory issues. Too much noise or certain sounds disturb him and he tends to walk with his fingers in his ears or with his headphones on.

“He is also totally dependent upon us as he cannot communicate his needs and feelings verbally, and as a result his behaviour is often very challenging.

“We did on occasions have to resort to the use of a wheelchair as sensory overload meant he would sit on the floor and refuse to move – it made family outings impossible.”

Support Dogs’ Autism Assistance programme trains dogs to help children participate in social activities, increasing their independence and safety, along with providing comfort and reducing stress.

A recent study by the University of Montreal has shown that dogs can help children with developmental disorders by significantly reducing their anxiety and stress levels.

Dr. Sonia Lupien, the study’s author, said: “Our findings showed that the dogs had a clear impact on the children’s stress hormone levels – I have not seen such a dramatic effect before.”

Support Dogs

After interviews, home assessments and acceptance onto the programme, Jenny and Jarvis had their residential training, which involved Jarvis learning to take orders from Jenny instead of his former trainer, and in September 2009, she took him home.

“Jarvis came from Guide Dogs as he was not cut out for guiding, but he was perfect for our son,” Jenny says.

Autism Dogs wear a special blue jacket, which has additional securing points so that a handle can be attached for the child to hold, and a body harness to keep the child fastened to the dog so that they move together as a team.

“Isaac was a little unsure of being too close to Jarvis at first, but he took to being attached instantly. We initially started with short walks in quiet areas and have gradually increased the length of the walks as well as going to different and busier shops.

“Isaac doesn’t look disabled but when he is attached to Jarvis, people understand and recognise that there is a disability. Now, instead of staring, passers-by are more friendly and forthcoming, asking question about Jarvis and petting him.”

Since having an Autism Assistance dog, Jenny, Phil, Jessica and Isaac are now able to go out as a family whether it’s eating out, visiting friends or attending Jessica’s presentations at Brownies.

Jenny says: “We used to have to plan any activities around Isaac’s moods. Normally only one of us would be able to go out as the other would need to stay at home with Isaac, but now we can all go together as he will sit calmly and patiently when attached to Jarvis.

“It’s hard to pinpoint what it is about Jarvis as Isaac can’t communicate with us. I think it’s the safety of being attached to him – he is Isaac’s comforter.”

The difference in Isaac’s behaviour and stress levels is especially evident when a trip to the supermarket is on the cards.

“Isaac hated going to the supermarket as it’s noisy and has shiny floors – he detested everything about it.

“Before, he would refuse to leave the car and after an hour I would give up and go home. Now he jumps out ready to be attached to Jarvis and we go – it’s the little things like that which are now easier,” says Jenny.

“Isaac is definitely getting more used to having Jarvis around. He instigates chase by squealing and taking his headphones off.

“We’ve also noticed Isaac randomly stroking Jarvis, without being prompted, as he walks past him. A few times they have been sitting together quietly with Isaac touching Jarvis’ head gently.

“Having Jarvis has improved family life and we are truly blessed to have him.”

The dogs that change lives #2 – Dogs for the Disabled

Following on from the first in this special blog post series on the dogs that change lives, here is the second story from my 2011 dissertation:

Keith Widdowson & Hugo – Dogs for the Disabled

Dogs for the Disabled 1

When people think of an assistance dog, their first and usually only thought, is of a guide dog for the blind. But there are, in fact, several types of assistance dog helping not just blind people, all over the UK.

Dogs for the Disabled is a charity that creates life-changing partnerships between people living with disability and specially trained dogs.

These dogs help a person with disabilities to become more independent by performing skills such as picking up items in difficult to reach places, collecting the post and loading the washing machine.

They also become a reason to go out, giving a new found confidence to its owner, and for Keith Widdowson, that is exactly what a black Labrador named Hugo did.

He says: “Seven and a half years ago I would collapse quite frequently and I couldn’t walk without people assuming I was drunk.

“I relied heavily on my cane and would receive verbal abuse from passers-by for walking too slowly, or be accused of being a benefit cheat as I can’t work.

“They would see the cane and automatically assume I was scamming the system. I am disabled, it is just a disability you can’t see.”

Damaging his back in 1985 has led to Keith losing two-and-a-half inches from his spinal column and the inability to walk unassisted. He can also be in danger of falling unconscious when yawning due to an old boxing injury.

“My conditions and the reactions of strangers meant I rarely left the house, with my wife and son unable to leave me unattended. I felt like a burden,” Keith says.

“A friend recommended a stability dog would not only improve my life, but that of my family’s. It was the kick-start I needed.

“I wanted my family to go on holiday and not have to sacrifice travelling abroad because I can’t get insured. I wanted them to feel they could go out and not have to worry about me.”

After sponsoring Dogs for the Disabled for more than ten years, Keith, who lives in Barnsley, applied for a partnership, and in July 2003, was matched to 18-month-old pup, Hugo.

Helen Harper, an instructor at the charity’s Wakefield branch, trains the dogs and matches partnerships.

She says: “When creating a partnership, we tailor the dog’s skills for each individual owner and continue to support them throughout the entirety of the pairing. The dogs work alongside the person and they then work together as a team.

“There are three areas of an assistance dog’s training; obedience, such as sit and stay; push, pull and retrieve; and a safety element where the dog is taught to ‘speak’ to gain attention in a situation.

“These things combine to give the owner a level of independence that they have never had before.”

Dogs for the Disabled

Over 12 months, Hugo’s training and natural instincts meant he tuned into Keith’s needs, and helped to transform not only the former university lecturer’s life, but also that of his family’s.

He says: “Hugo performed tasks he’d not only been taught to do, but also things he hadn’t, like when I struggle to stand from a sitting position – he would go behind me and not only support me, but nudge me to my feet.

“Having Hugo also meant that my family could go places without me, and if I was out walking with him, people knew I needed help thanks to his yellow jacket, and would part in the street to give me the room I needed.

“He gave me the independence and confidence to go out alone, and I found that having a dog was a social icebreaker,” Keith says. “Passers-by would take the time to talk to me and Hugo, although one person did ask why I had a dog as I wasn’t blind.”

It is a common misconception that dogs are only trained to help the blind, and while Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was the first organisation to use canine assistance, dog training has spread further afield to help people with other types of disabilities.

Dogs for the Disabled have created over 400 partnerships, with more than 200 currently working in England and Wales.

Helen says: “We use Labradors, Golden Retrievers and crosses of the two as these breeds have a willingness to work for people, a great temperament, and a natural ability to perform tasks.

“The skills the dogs perform tap into their natural instincts and they are never forced to do things.”

These skills also gave the Widdowson family the chance to do something they had previously never been able to do before.

Keith says: “The best thing about having a stability dog was that my family were able to go on holiday to Austria, while I stayed at home safe in Hugo’s care.”

Much research has also gone into proving that dogs can sense illnesses and oncoming seizures in humans, something that became evident when Hugo saved Keith’s life.

He says: “The extent of his intelligence and care was proved when he alerted me that something was wrong.

“He started to bark in my face, so my wife rang to the doctor and it turned out that I was going into anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction to penicillin – Hugo had sensed it.”

In January, Keith received the news that his new stability dog had become fully qualified and was ready to be his next helper.

He says: “Stability dogs retire at ten years old and Hugo was now nine. He left us on February 20, and it is the end of an era.

“I loved Hugo and Hugo loved me. I didn’t want to say goodbye but I know he will be just fine living with his former puppy socialiser.

“It has been difficult without him and I do feel lost, but I know that although Clara, my new assistance dog, won’t be Hugo, she will improve my life once again and benefit me in a different way – and that’s all I can ask for.”

The dogs that change lives #1 – Pets As Therapy

If you live in the UK, you will have seen (or at least I hope you will have) ITV’s Me and My Guide DogFollowing the lives of ten puppies as they train to become guide dogs, the programme highlighted just how amazing these animals truly are.

Now I know this is a slight change for SWHH, but it is a subject matter that is extremely close to my heart, and hey, this is my lil corner of the internet, so I’m gonna write about it.

By now you know that I prefer animals to people, so much so that for my university dissertation, I chose to write my 10,000 words on just how these incredible four-legged creatures change lives.

I pretty much travelled up and down England to interview and see the dogs that change lives back in 2011 and here is the first story:

Bernard Perry & Sam – Pets As Therapy

Bernard Perry & Sam - Pets As Therapy

Jet, the flat-coated retriever may have won Best in Show at Crufts 2011, but there is another flat-coat winning the affections of the people across Staffordshire.

Sam, a ten-year-old black flat-coated retriever, is a registered Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog, who along with his owner Bernard Perry, has been bringing happiness to the residents and workers at Ashcroft Hollow Nursing Home, in Stafford, for over six years.

Founded in 1983, Pets As Therapy provides therapeutic visits to a variety of establishments including hospitals, nursing homes and special needs schools, by volunteers with their own friendly, temperament-tested dogs and cats.

Bernard, aged 67, from Silverthorn Way, Stafford, says: “It’s a nice feeling doing something positive. The interaction with the residents and seeing their reaction to Sam is very rewarding. It’s a wonderful job.

“My wife Kate registered with PAT first with our other retriever Cassie, but because she was teaching, there were only certain times she could do visitations, so I joined with Sam.”

Retired bus drive Bernard and Sam visit the nursing home once a fortnight, helping to bring everyday life closer to those in care, along with all the happy associations of home comforts.

He says: “The visit matters so much to the residents and the staff, they look forward to seeing Sam, but it’s not just about the dog, it’s about the people.

“On our first visit we met a lady who interacted with Sam straight away, wanting to know all about him, what colour he was, what breed, and she remembers it all.

“It gives her a picture in her mind and makes a connection between them. She can’t walk, is blind and partially deaf. The staff told me afterwards that she also rarely speaks unless Sam and I are visiting.”

Elderly residents often have to leave their own pets behind and the constant companionship of an animal that gives unconditional love is one of the most missed aspects of their lives. Having a visiting PAT dog can make that loss seem bearable.

Bernard says: “Sam knows what he’s doing when he’s on a visit. Some of the residents can’t always reach him so he will instinctively lean towards them so they can pet him.”

Pam Williams, matron manager of Ashcroft Hollow, says: “We love having Sam and Bernard come to visit us. The staff and I love to sneak Sam a few treats and give him a great big fuss.

“It’s also a wonderful sight to see how the residents react to him. He really brightens up their day.”

Pets As Therapy

Since becoming involved with Pets As Therapy, Bernard has taken on the role of coordinator for the Staffordshire area, matching volunteers to places in need of PAT animal visits.

“There are 120 volunteers in Staffordshire, with establishments waiting for dogs. My job is to find a volunteer who lives near each location,” he says.

“If there isn’t a close enough volunteer for any of the places on the waiting list, Sam and I will go just so they can experience a visit until someone becomes available – together, we’ve been all over Staffordshire.”

To become a registered PAT volunteer, pets and their owners have to be assessed on a number of things such as the temperament of the animal and the control the owner has over them.

Bernard says: “PAT volunteers have to be sociable too. I used to be nervous of people and quite shy, but being a part of the charity and going on visits has definitely brought me out of my shell.”

Volunteers and their pets can visit as many places as they want to. As well as Ashcroft Hollow, Sam and Bernard also visit Sister Dora’s Care Home in Stafford on Pets As Therapy duty.

He says: “Retired volunteers can give as much time as they want. The majority of our volunteers have jobs but do their visits at the weekends or in the evenings – it’s a huge commitment but one that makes a big difference.”

Research has shown that dogs help to promote social interaction in older people, especially those who feel isolated or are withdrawn, helping to open them up and let the barriers down.

“I also hold talks on the interaction between humans and animals and the benefits of them,” Bernard says. “People don’t realise the significance a dog can have – Sam is my my mate not a dog, he’s a friend.”

Over the years, dogs have received bad press with stories of ‘dangerous dogs’ attacking strangers and children, but Bernard and Pets As Therapy don’t discriminate against breeds.

He says: “We have all types of breeds, even those considered to be ‘dangerous dogs’ as they are not dangerous because of their breed, but because of how they are trained and brought up.

“Dogs get a bad press because of the bad press. People won’t hear about the Staffordshire bull who visits a nursing home and brings happiness to its residents, but they should.”

There are over 4,500 active PAT dogs at work in the UK who bring hope, comfort and happiness to the 130,000 people, both old and young, that they visit – there just isn’t a trophy to show it.

Beauty Haul : Boots 2015

boots

I moved house a few weeks ago, and come the weekend I’d had enough of unpacking/cleaning/tidying. The best way to “blow off steam” and generally procrastinate? Wander the beautifully lit aisles of Boots.

Here’s what I found:

rimmel wake me up foundation and concealer

Rimmel’s Wake Me Up Foundation and Concealer. I know every blogger worth her salt has already talked about this, but I had to throw in my two cents. So I’ll break it down:

My Skin: is generally dry and flaky around the mouth, chin and forehead. Just for funsies, the areas under my eyes a cheeks can get a little greasy. I have teenager skin. I’m 25. I also wear glasses which means generally any product I use cakes around the bridge of my nose where my glasses sit, so I was after something that could tackle all of these issues as well as generally even my skin tone and lose the mahoosive bags I currently sport under my eyes.

Verdict: WHY HAVEN’T I USED THIS BEFORE?!?! Seriously though, the concealer goes on a dream (I use this concealer brush from Wilko) and the foundation is just stunning. The shade I used is Classic Beige – for both items. It doesn’t cake and it really does stay all day. It buffs on very well with the stippling brush from the Real Techniques Core Collection. I am officially a convert! The foundation is currently on offer, original price is £8.99 but there is £3 off selected Rimmel products in store and online. The concealer is £5.49 – I highly recommend both of these products!

Next I thought I would try a new face powder, so I picked up this Flawless Matte Powder from Barry M.

The shade I use is medium, which really does compliment the foundation. Again, no cakeyness and it goes on with a lovely matte finish.

17 gel eyeliner

I was after a nice gel liner as I do like to sport a cat eye a lot of the time. I found this from Seventeen cosmetics and again, there is currently an offer of buy one get second half price, so I thought the Smoulder Gel Eyeliner teamed with a mascara would be the way to get the best bargain, but I have yet to use this yet so I will report back if I like it!

 The Falisifeye HD Mascara is definitely up there as one of my absolute favourite high street mascaras. I don’t know why I haven’t tried this before, but this is definitely going on my re-purchase list! It has a plastic wand that distributes the product evenly, it doesn’t flake or smudge and lasts all day. And, the most important thing for me, it doesn’t sting my eyes! I have very sensitive eyes and can only use certain mascaras as a result. This is amazing stuff and I highly recommend it!

barry m plumpy topcoat

The last purchase in my little haul is the new Plumpy Topcoat from Barry M. Well, what can I say? I am fairly certain I single-handedly keep them in business. I own every single colour. It’s an addiction. This topcoat does exactly what it says, and a Mani Monday will be coming your way over on our Instagram page – so keep your peepers peeled!

The product goes on lovely and lasts, I think Barry M have the secret formula to perfect nails without a salon price.

Well that’s my little haul, if there is anything you would like more details on please leave a comment below, or if you have any of your own favourites to share please do – we love an excuse to shop!

– love Carla x

Music Monday #7

To coincide with the realisation about leaving high school ten years ago, I thought it only fitting that this week’s Music Monday should feature a few of the number ones from 2005.

Enjoy!

– love Stef x

Steve Brookstein: Against All Odds

Arctic Monkeys: I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

2Pac ft. Elton John: Ghetto Gospel

McFly: All About You

Pussycat Dolls: Don’t Cha

James Blunt: You’re Beautiful

Nizlopi: JCB Song

Sugababes: Push The Button

Akon: Lonely

Shayne Ward: That’s My Goal

Beauty Haul: TK Maxx

 

tkmaxxbeauty

When you say TK Maxx (in the US TJ Maxx) you don’t necessarily think “that’s where I’ll get my make-up from“. So imagine my surprise when I went wandering around the store and came out with some cracking finds! I am talking Stila, Elizabeth Arden and Eyelure retailing LESS THAN HALF PRICE!

eyelure tkmaxx

I’ll start with the Eylure Double Lashes. These are by far the best falsies on the market! Easy to use, no mess, no fuss and fantastic glue! I wanted these to darken my eyes and give a really dramatic look (mid twenties crisis, anyone?) and these beauties set me back £1.99. Yep, you read that right. The RRP is £5.99. I am already winning at life!

Next up: Elizabeth Arden Double Density Volume Mascara.

elizabetharden tkmaxx

I was practically giddy when I found this! I usually find that when I come across something too good to be true, it usually is. I picked this up thinking “I bet it’s some shade of brown“, being the girl that sticks strictly to the blackest black, I couldn’t believe my luck – it was black! I had to snap it up at £5.99! This retails in Boots, Debenhams and the likes for £21.00. Now I know you can get this off some obscure websites for £7, but honestly I like to know where my make-up comes from so I generally stick to stores I know. I love this mascara, it glides on and stays put all day with no flaking.

Finally, Stila Perfecting Concealer.

stilaconcealertkmaxx

Now this I think was my best find. I did have a “moment” when I realised the only shades available were Shade C (too light) and Shade H (far too dark). I almost slumped away in disappointment, until I tried mixing the two on my hand – et voila! The perfect shade for my skin tone! This stuff gives amazing coverage, and the shades are actually ideal for me to contour, win-win situation for me! I snapped up these baby’s at £2.99 each, RRP is usually £15 each! #bargain

So for those of you adding up, the original retail for this little haul should have been £56.99, but thanks to TK Maxx I spent just £13.96.

If that ain’t a bargain, I don’t know what is!

Have you found any serious bargains? Please share below – any excuse to shop!

– love Carla x

#TBT: 10 years after High School

It wasn’t until a classmate posted a photo on Facebook of the Moorside High School Prom DVD that we all realised it had been ten years since we left the school gates for the last time.

That prom happened on 20 May 2005 and we have been out of secondary school for twice as long as we actually spent there. Yep, we’re officially old.

What’s scary is it doesn’t even feel like that day was a decade ago, but a lot has happened and whether we like it or not, we are now full-blown adults.

There have been A-Levels, first loves, first legal nights out, graduations, holidays, jobs, mortgages, marriages and babies, but I know deep down we’re all still that same bunch of 16-year-olds who really don’t feel any older…

Class of 2005 – here’s to the next ten.

– love Stef x

The £2 Primark Sequin Dress

Yep, you read that right – I bought a dress for £2. Now do you see why my love for Primark is so strong?

I even wore it to a party for a member of the boyf’s family and it actually looked nice (note there is no photographic evidence as an iPhone still defeats Momma Keeling when it comes to camera duty).

The £2 Primark Sequin Dress 1

This very pretty, very simple cream and rose gold dress was just £2 and I really liked it.

I say ‘liked’ because unfortunately the sequins rubbed my poor underarms from the moment I put it on, leaving a sore and angry red rash, which took a couple of days and the application of Sudacrem before it shifted.

But hey, it was £2 people…

– love Stef x

Fashion: Statement necklace love

I love statement necklaces. Because I don’t particularly have any fashion sense, statement necklaces help me to make what I wear seem a bit more… fashion-y.

You all know that I’m near enough Primark’s number one fan, and it’s because of their jewellery more than their clothes and shoes (although I do adore them too). I’ve even started to branch out to other shops, but only when there’s a sale.

I do, however, still look to the mannequins for outfit and accessory styling (don’t judge) or more often than not, I wait until Carla comes to visit me and she basically throws dresses, bags, shoes and the accompanying bling at me.

Anyway, now I’ve divulged my secret shopping behaviour and lack of fashion sense, let’s just look at the pretty ‘gypsy gold’ that turns me into a human magpie shall we…

1. BHS

Statement Necklace 1 - BHS

2. Primark

Statement Necklace 2 - Primark

3. Primark

Statement Necklace 3 - Primark

4. Primark

Statement Necklace 4 - Primark

5. H&M

Statement Necklace 5 - H&M

– love Stef x

The River Island Wedding Guest Dress

River Island Wedding Guest 1 FINAL

Wedding season is upon us and at the beginning of this month, I had the great pleasure in attending one of my closest and oldest friend’s beautiful wedding.

My only problem came in the form of outfit choice. The only other wedding I’d ever attended day to night was my best friend’s wedding last September, but I was a bridesmaid, so I didn’t have to think about what to wear.

Enter River Island. I ordered this dress over Christmas as it was in the sale, (although technically, the boyf. did actually pick it, not me).

River Island Wedding Guest 2 FINAL

Turns out he has cracking female fashion sense and thanks to having my wisdom tooth out and being unable to eat for two weeks prior to the wedding, I was able to squeeze perfectly into this rather fitted and rather small for a size 10 dress.

RI Wedding Guest 3 FINAL

RI Wedding Guest 4 FINAL

Paired with some navy Primark heels and a F&F bag, I thought the overall outfit wasn’t too shabby to celebrate a perfect day in.

River Island Wedding Guest 6 FINAL

River Island Wedding Guest 5 FINAL

Sam, the gorgeous bride looked absolutely stunning, my girls all looked beautiful and even the boyf. scrubbed up well. It’s also safe to say that I’ll be calling on his fashion expertise in future…

– love Stef x

How much is my face worth?

The title of this post runs the risk of immediately provoking several sarcastic responses, but stay with me – it’s not as self-indulgent as you might think.

Makeup is something we near enough all use, and buying the various products comes as second nature – but unless you’re having a blowout beauty splurge, do you know how much your day-to-day face actually costs?

Now, I rarely make that much of an effort, but when I have to leave my bed and actually see people I opt for a minimalist approach:

How much is my face worth

So how much does my everyday, minimalist face cost? £129.70 – yep, that’s right over one hundred pounds. Pounds, not pence, not Euros, pounds.

And this isn’t even noticeable, fancy night out makeup. This is bog-standard, I have to look like I care about my appearance makeup…

Let’s break it down:

Simple Light Moisturiser – £1.20

MAC Studio Fix Liquid Foundation – £21.50

MAC Select Cover Up – £15.50

MAC Mineralise SkinFinish (Medium) – £23

MAC Mineralise SkinFinish (Medium Deep) – £23

HD Brows Brow Palette – £25

Avon Glimmerstick Eyeliner – £6

Avon SuperShock Mascara – £8.50

Avon Blusher – £6

I couldn’t even bring myself to include the brushes and tools that are used for fear of taking the total past £150…

Who knew beauty could be so expensive?!

– love Stef x

Poundshop Shopping: Beauty Bargains

We all love a good pound shop don’t we? (For readers not in the UK, dollar store). Whenever I go in I can’t help but peruse the beauty aisle to see what I can grab at a bargain – and stock up on my usual favourites.

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First up, the ultimate staple in any girls beauty cupboard – cotton wool pads. They are a general all rounder – from make up remover, to toner, to nail polish remover. I have used many different brand of these and can never find one I love, until as a last resort I picked up these when I had already finished all of my shopping, but it turns out it was fate. I am fussy when it comes to what I put on my face, and I find that usually there are bits of wool left on my face, in my eyes or stuck to my eyelashes – but not these beauties!

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but there are no fluffy bits, but they are still super soft and kind on the skin. I highly  recommend them.

Next up, for the days I just cba to remove my make up properly, make up wipes.  I find make up wipes can be quite expensive and have always turned to make up remover or baby wipes for the lazy days, but they don’t quite remove mascara as well as these, and for £1 who can argue?

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I am sadly at an age where I am quite conscious of my beauty routine, I don’t want to grow old at all, so it’s time to put some preventative steps of ageing in place, and it starts with the eyes. I love a good cooling eye mask, usually the ones you whack in the fridge for 20 minutes before you lie back and relax, but I find I get very bored and last maybe 5 minutes before I take it off.

Until I saw this:

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Now I can read/blog/watch tv and freshen up my eyes! YAY!

Next I came across these Superfruits Refreshing Pads from Clearasil. I have never used them before so thought why not. Now, they smell really strong of alcohol or industrial cleaner, but are surprisingly gentle on the skin.

The individual pads are textured so help lift off grime and dead skin cells. I personally use these in my morning routine as I like to sleep as long as possible so they help to save time. I splash my face with cold water and dry off, then use one of these to freshen up before applying face cream and my make up for the day.

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Finally, probably the number one item in everyone’s make-up bag, good old Vaseline! I have tried every scent/flavour they have ever produced, but I was very excited to find the Limited Edition Paint the Town Red Lip Tint.

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Lip tints I find usually come in a pink shade, which for my darker skin tone just doesn’t work which is why I am uber excited about this. I honestly don’t think it will last too long with me!

And there you have it, a shopping haul that costs £5!

Have you got any bargains from the pound shop? Tell us where and what in the comments 🙂

– love Carla x

Primark Haul: May 2015

We all love Primark, that’s a fact. But not everyone’s lucky enough to have one on their doorstep, and since Primark don’t have a website where you can purchase everything in store (get on that guys!) I thought it only fair I share with you lovely readers exactly what you can find if you head on down today.

PRIMARK HAUL 2015

I went in looking for some new sandals, and came out with everything else instead! So first up, nails. We have had many a Mani Monday here, and it is no secret I am huge fan of the fake nails:

primark haul nails fake nails varnish quick dry

Working in an office, I can’t go too loud and lairy with my nail art, I love the french nails the most. The white ones have a pearlescent shimmer to them which I thought was a bit different, and the flowers are just pretty for spring time:

I also picked up another of the 60-Seconds Quick Dry nail polish in a pretty blue shade. You will know when I first blogged about these varnishes here I was very impressed with the coverage as well as the price, it’s just a shame there are only 5 or 6 shades in the collection and not a sprinkle of glitter in sight!

I also decided to give one of their normal varnishes a go – so far so good!

primark nail varnish

Next up was the fast drying nail spray – I have never used a spray like this before so I am looking forward to giving it a go. I also decided to give their face products a go, I usually like to stick to Boots for items like this, but since I have recently run out of my favourite face peeling mass from No7, I thought I would see if I could find a bargainous alternative:

It smells delicious (am I the only one that loves the smell of Tea Tree Oil?!) and is a HUGE bottle for the price, I’ll let you know how I get on with this too.

Finally I headed to the home department. As you may or may not know, I am moving into my first house this week with my boyfriend (eek!!) so the perfect way to avoid packing is to shop. I feel that since I will be officially living with a boy, I should have a certain amount of pretty pink girly things. My plan is if I bring them in slowly he may not notice…IMG_5934

And I was SO good in only getting two pretty pink candles:

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I tend to keep the holders once the candle has burnt down and re-use them for tealights. I also grabbed some fairy lights in a rose gold/copper ball. Like most girls, I love fairy lights but I have a genuine fear of over heating and causing a fire, but these beauties are battery operated so it’s a win-win! I think these goodies will be right at home in my dressing room!

My last little treat comes in the form of teeny tiny hair clips. I have a lot of hair, but I hate to tie it up. So I will use these to clip the bits of my face on days I really don’t have time to wash/straighten my hair:IMG_5932

And that’s it! This little lot came in under £20 and is all readily available in Primark stores now!

If you have a bargainous haul to share leave a link in the comments – we love a good nosey!

– love Carla x

 

 

 

Fiji: Castaway Island (Monuriki)

Another popular excursion available at Matamanoa Island Resort aside from scuba diving is the visit to nearby Castaway Island, known locally as Monuriki Island. Made famous by Tom Hanks, the tiny island didn’t disappoint.

Obviously a lot of post production editing went on in the movie, since the island is set in a group of three or four very close islands, and not quite in the middle of the sea as it was supposed to be. And, for those that are geographically challenged (Keeling), it is nowhere near the Caribbean.

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So we came ashore on the same beach Tom first appeared on in the movie:

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Tom Hanks In 'Cast Away'

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It was beautiful. If we didn’t already feel like we were in paradise, we did now!

Our very kind guide Ben took us on a short tour of the tiny island, and pointed out a few key areas we saw in the movie.

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castaway

Then we set off with the free snorkel gear to have another go with the new camera,

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The settings were a tad off to begin with…

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But we chased some fish anyway.

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And this little guy taunted us, and followed us until we snapped his picture.

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We had one more stroll around the island before heading back to the boat.

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Not before finding one very important and crucial guy… WILSON!!

Wilson, cast away island, fiji

Apparently when they finished filming, Tom Hanks left the real Wilson tied to a rock. Inevitably it (he?) came free and floated to one of the nearby inhabited islands, where a local boy in the village kept a hold of it!

monuriki fiji cast away tom hanks

Our time in Fiji was amazing, we only had four days but we will definitely be back. Until next time!

– love Carla x

 

The 60p, 60 second manicure (really!)

It’s been a while since I produced a Mani Monday, but this one I just had to share! For under £1 this fast drying, super pretty, gel-looking bottle of wonderfulness just had to be shared.

I am not normally one for the fast-drying formulas, I always find I am disappointed when they don’t actually *dry* in 60 seconds, but this one I put to the test.

I even set a timer:

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I applied a layer of the loveliness and waited for the time to be up, and voila! It wasn’t just a bit dry, it was properly-you-can-touch-it-and-not-leave-a-fingerprint dry. *swoon*

“Where can I purchase this amazing formula” I hear you cry, well, it is from one of my favourites actually – you guessed it – PRIMARK!

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It took three layers (and 3 minutes – woop!) to get the finished look, and for 60p I ain’t complaining.

The colour stayed vibrant and didn’t even chip over the weekend – which I spent packing boxes. It leaves a lovely gel-looking finish ad glides on – no gloopy mess!

I may just have to return to Primark for the other shades, I just didn’t think I’d be this in love!

Can you recommend any other fast drying formulas?

– love Carla x

 

Fiji: Diving with Viti Watersports

It may have rained the morning of our first real day in Matamanoa Island Resort, but that doesn’t matter when you’re diving! Now this is my third time ever diving, and I was still a little terrified! I should point out I have an irrational fear of water, I can’t swim, and the only reason I went diving, or have ever been diving, is that I know I would regret it if I didn’t go. Plus, I wanted to see a turtle.

We also took the chance to give the new camera a go underwater, and the results aren’t bad for our first time!

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The dive site we went to was called Edenville, and was more suitable for beginners. I did explain to Trevor, the very nice Londoner who works for Viti Watersports that I was a little scared, but we worked out most of my issues with a try dive in the pool the day before – and it really helped put me at ease. Freaking out when diving isn’t a sensible idea.

I have to say, the more I dive the less fear I feel, and actually it’s a very relaxing experience. And the view ain’t so bad either!

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So we swam, became one with the fish, and I waited patiently for a turtle.

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I also feel I snapped some pretty cool pics, whilst searching for a turtle…

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And then I found him!!

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Check out our Instagram page to see the video of this graceful fella!

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Towards the end of the dive I didn’t think we would see anything cooler, but the reef just kept on going, so we found another starfish to chill with!

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And of course I liked to stay a little closer to the surface… still 10 metres deep though.

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But the reef kept drawing me back in.

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In all we had a 45 minute dive and the time just went so fast. It was incredible and easily my favourite dive. For those who can’t swim don’t worry, you don’t need the ability to swim, diving is all in the legs – use your arms and you risk pulling out someone else’s oxygen! It is something I recommend, even if you only try it once.

For me it definitely helped that we had such a friendly instructor, that alone really did put me at ease, and I will happily recommend them again.

Have you been diving? Any tips for a newbie would be appreciated!

– love Carla x

Fiji: Matamanoa Island Resort, Mamanuca Islands

Bula!!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted about my amazing trip in Australia (three months have gone so fast), but I have been very busy purchasing my first house (eek)!

So, here it is (finally)…

From Melbourne, myself and the bf were lucky enough to travel to Fiji, or, as I like to refer to it, paradise.

We spent one evening on the mainland of Nadi, before heading out to the wonderful Matamanoa Resort in the Mamanuca Islands.

There are a few options when leaving the mainland to head to one of the smaller islands – the main two being a boat over, or a very cool helicopter. We went for the helicopter as it only took around 15 minutes rather than the boat which takes nearly an hour.

The service was provided by Island Hoppers who were absolutely fantastic. There is a weight restriction, and obviously being in Australia for three weeks we had lots of suitcases, but we minimised the stuff we would need for four days and packed just one bag – the Island Hoppers were kind enough to store our bags for us.

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The ride was comfortable and the view was incredible. The day we flew out it was raining, but don’t be fooled, it was still 30 degrees and my boyfriend still got sunburn!

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When arriving to Matamanoa we were waved in by a member of staff (whose name I wish I could remember) and she was just brilliant, and an absolute credit to the staff there.

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We had drinks in the bar waiting for us, along with a shell necklace. Happily, Matamanoa is an Adults Only resort – the main basis for choosing this place.

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Originally we had booked a Beachfront Bure but on arrival the lovely lady upgraded us to the finest Beachfront Villa!

The Villas are a short walk from the main bar, and since it was raining we were taken to our villa in a golf cart around the edge of the island.

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We swung the door open and were greeted with a stunning villa.

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Complete with beautiful flowers!

bathroomAnd even an outside shower!

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We had our own plunge pool and a view to die for. I only wish the camera hadn’t died after day two, when the sun really came out – we cleverly left the battery charger in the suitcases back on the mainland!

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This little fella came to greet us.

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We even had access to our own private slice of paradise.

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Rain or no rain, the water was amazing!

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So I took a quick dip to test out the new waterproof casing for the camera, and the sun decided to show itself. And I, being the clever cookie I am, decided to just snap some pics, without wiping away the water! Clever me.

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We stayed for four days at Matamanoa Island Resort and I couldn’t recommend it enough! Our stay included a buffet-style breakfast of cereals and pastries which changed a little everyday and was perfectly tasty.

There was a good lunch menu and an even better dinner menu – both of which changed daily. I fully recommend the Caesar salad – it’s made fresh at your table exactly how you like it.

No cash changes hands at all during your stay, they simply charge everything to your room and you pay when you leave by either cash or card.

Together we spent around $3500 Fijian dollars, which is roughly £1,140. I know that sounds a lot for four days, but that is for two of us and included excursions like diving (which cost the most, but still much cheaper than in Australia) a boat trip to Monuriki Island (otherwise known as Castaway Island) and six treatments in the spa (we were in paradise after all and had had a tough three weeks in Oz), as well as three course evening meals and lots of cocktails!

Obviously it’s not a budget holiday, actually everyone else but us were there on honeymoon, and we were easily the youngest there.

All in all, Matamanoa is a beautiful resort, the staff are brilliant – I really do wish I’d have got the name of my friend who works on the reception who greeted us, she had a brilliant sense of humour and like all of the staff, was very friendly and approachable.

I will definitely be back again (when funds allow) so until then, Fiji.

Have you stayed in Matamanoa or anywhere else in Fiji? I’d love to hear from you!

– love Carla x

Let’s Go Retro: 70s style

The SS15 catwalks were awash with 70s throwbacks of floppy hats, garish prints and lots of denim from the likes of Stella McCartney and Tommy Hilfiger.

Now we all love a statement piece, but I think this is a trend worth getting on board with, and I think the easiest way to nail the trend without looking like a complete reject is to think 70s boho with a 90s vibe – think crochet, denim and layering if you will.

Here I have grouped some of the main statement pieces to get you into this trend from some of  my favourite retailers, first up New Look:

70's Style favourites from New Look
Affordable fashion, student discounts and bright and vibrant prints, oh New Look how I love you! The block heels, the tassels, the slip dresses – there is something for everyone if you want just a hint of 70s or a proper blast from the past, an hour or two in New Look will definitely hook you up! I personally am lusting the suede mini skirt, a nice hippy top and I will be a happy bunny.
70's boho
Number two on my list is ASOS. A collection of goodies from lots of shop all in one place, they have got the trend down! I am in love with the maxi denim skirt, which can be tricky, but they have got the perfect shape so you don’t look frumpy. I’d team it with the super tasselled handbag for drinks with the girls.
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Last on my list is BooHoo. They take things to a younger hippy feel, think festival chic. It’s all about the crochet shorts and the floppy hat, all you’ll need is a cute pair of sandals and you are set. Coachella eat your heart out!
Will you be rocking the seventies vibe this summer? Let me know your favourite picks – any excuse to shop!
love Carla x

Music Monday #6

After my dream come true trip to London to see Cats, it got me thinking about how much I heart musicals – yes, not the coolest of admissions, but hey, I did used to want to be a dancer.

So, to celebrate my love of musicals, this week’s Music Monday is a selection of the finest songs from film and stage.

– love Stef x

Les Miserables: On My Own

Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat: Close Every Door

Chicago: Cell Block Tango

Cats: Memory

Grease: You’re The One That I Want

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Sweet Transvestite

Chess: I Know Him So Well

Rock of Ages: Dead Or Alive

Sound of Music: Sixteen Going On Seventeen

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Doll On A Music Box

26th Birthday in London

The blow of turning 26 on April 3 was somewhat eased by my lovely boyf. who decided to whisk me away to London for three days to celebrate (he’s very good like that).

Now I’m back, I thought I’d share a few photos with you about what we got up to and show just how I celebrated my birthday. 

We travelled down to London on Thursday lunchtime, made our way to the gorgeous Marlin Limehouse apartments, before heading to the Palladium to see Cats (my absolute dream come true, I may have cried – I’d also play Jemima FYI).

On Friday I awoke to a birthday breakfast of pancakes and syrup, got ready and travelled to the London Dungeon for an hour and a half of spooky London history. I was also locked in a cage by one of the actors, much to the boyf’s amusement.

It was then lunch at Yo! Sushi, a spot of shopping (Lush and Primark) on Oxford Street and a rainbow cake birthday treat from the Hummingbird Bakery in Soho.

Friday evening saw me taken up 72 floors for sunset at The Shard – with champagne thrown in, and an amazing meal at Gaucho on Tower Bridge.

Thank you boyf. 

Marlin Limehouse 1 FINAL

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Cats 1 FINAL

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Birthday 6

26th Birthday in London

Birthday 4

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– love Stef x

Music Monday #5

April 3rd was my 26th birthday, so to celebrate such an occasion, this week’s Music Monday is the slightly obvious birthday edition.

Here’s my pick of the best songs released in the year of my birth – 1989. Enjoy!

Black Box: Ride On Time

The Bangles: Eternal Flame

Soul II Soul: Back To Life

Madonna: Like A Prayer

Lisa Stansfield: All Around The World

New Kids On The Block: You Got It (The Right Stuff)

Alice Cooper: Poison

Beautiful South: Song For Whoever

Tina Turner: The Best

Fine Young Cannibals: She Drives Me Crazy

– love Stef x

The Bucket List: Revisited

While I still have a few months until I turn 26 (sorry Keeling!) I thought I would come back to the bucket list and see what I have achieved this last year. Depressing as it seems, the older I get the quicker time seems to pass me by. Of the 13 items on last year’s list, I have only managed two of them: 1. Seeing the New Year in Sydney sydney nye 2015 the royal botanical gardens the point view111 In last year’s post I used a stock image, this one here was taken by me. 2. Dive the Great Barrier Reef IMG_1672 Again, this beauty was taken by me, but for illustration purposes this was actually from diving in Fiji – we weren’t allowed to take pics at the GBR, boo! As incredible as it was to be in Australia as the New Year started, I still felt like I was in limbo. Although I am luckily on the right side of 30, there are still so many things I want to do, sooner rather than later. As you will see in last year’s list there was a lot of focus on travelling, and well basically, being anywhere but here in a small town, in the Midlands, under what feels like a near constant cover of cloud. I have decided to make some decisions, and I think it is time to start living my life. I am not reckless enough to just up and leave, but I am going travelling, and I am spending the next two years planning a trip that could last for just as long, or even longer. What got me thinking was a story I read recently about a nurse who worked in palliative care whose patients basically went home to die. She asked them if they had any regrets or anything they would have done differently with their lives. There was a common theme amongst the answers, and out of the top five, these three stood out to me: 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 3. I wish that I had let myself be happier. I think society has a lot to do with these responses, given that these people would have been teenagers in the 40s and 50s – a time where it was normal for a woman to be a housewife, cook, clean and breed, while the man of the house went out to work. We all know that in 2015, things are not what they were, or are they? At 25, having been with my boyf. for nearly five years (literally don’t know where the time has gone), I am hit with many questions about starting a family, getting married and “settling down”. Erm, no. While I am truly happy for anyone who wants that life, it just isn’t on the cards for us right now. I mean, it scares me that I am at an age where if I were to get pregnant my mom would be HAPPY! My ID may say I’m 25, but secretly I’m still 15. So I will start with point one, having courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expect of me. I’ll say it now, I am not having kids any time soon! I look on Facebook and there are so many people who post a million picture of their kids, or rant about their wedding plans, and I am over here like “I’m watching a DVD in bed with my cats” and I am cool with it. They have their lives, I have mine and I am happy with not procreating or making vows right now. My aim is to be happy, to do what drives me, and not what is expected of me. I want to see the world, meet new people, discover new things – I might even manage to write that book I have been talking about for so long. Believe me, I am not one of these people that is running away travelling to “find” themselves, ‘cos I ain’t lost. Life is for living – and that’s what I intend to do. So here it is, a bucket list that I intend to fulfil: 1. See the Northern Lights – I just don’t think there will be a sight more naturally beautiful than the lights. Unknown 2. Party at Carnival in Rio – Because deep down I am still a party girl. riocarnival460 3. Live in Australia – Having had a taste for the Aussie way, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. 4. Go to Base Camp – Just so I can feel like I am on top of the world. However, not looking forward to the two weeks of camping to get there. 5. See the Statue of Liberty – I have already been to New York, and we managed to do everything else on the list but that, and I always promised I’d go back. 6. Go dancing in a jazz club in Manhattan – Because last time I went I was only 19, and while I was hungover on the flight from a night in the Student Union, once we landed I was officially two years underage – boo! 7. Drive Route 66 in a Mustang – Because I have heard you just should. 8. See lions on safari – I love cats as everybody knows, so to see giant ones in the wild? Yes please! 9. Visit the Great Wall of China – Because I am a tiny little culture buff really. 10. Learn a new language – French has always been at the top of my list, I just wish I’d have paid more attention in school… 11. Visit Antarctica – The frozen continent at the end of the Earth that is only accessible a few months of the year? Man will never permanently occupy this beautiful place. 12. See Pearl Harbour – For the history 13. Write a book – Always wanted to, hopefully travelling the world will give me a story! writing 14. Niagra Falls – For the beauty. 15. The Maldives – I hear if global warming continues the way it is the Maldives will be underwater in my life time. 16. Bali – For the culture. 17. Drive the Great Ocean Road – It is supposed to be quite a journey. 18. See the Vegas Strip – I also need to see Britney (bitch) while I’m there. 19. Party in Buenos Aires – like Serena Van der Woodsen when she ran off in Gossip Girl. Not even ashamed of that reason. 20. See the Taj Mahal – being half Indian I should probably include some of my own heritage somewhere in the mix. I’m not going to lie, this list came out so fast I didn’t even have to think – there are so many other things I want to do that this list is just the start. I love the idea of going some place amazing, and sticking a pin in a map to decide where to go next. Lucky for me I will have my boyfriend and partner-in-crime with me – I wouldn’t do it without him. So while yes, we are purchasing our first house together like society says we should, it is a mere investment to fund us on our journey, and honestly, I can’t wait to see where we end up. Have you travelled the world? Tips would be greatly appreciated! – love Carla x

Things I’m Loving: Home Decor

I am very excited to announce that I am in the process of buying my first home, but to my dismay my boyfriend really isn’t in to pink. I’m no girly girl, but I do love me some pretty pink floral beauty – think romance and Paris if you will.

Since I am yet to really open his mind to home decor (and cleaning) I can but create a wish list, and slowly (or secretly) bring them home. If I put the telly on surely he won’t notice, right?

So here is what I am lusting after, while slowly pulling my hair out at the thought of living with a boy…

Home Decor

– love Carla x

SJP: Fifty and fabulous

SJP at 50

It probably comes as no surprise that my ultimate inspiration is Sarah Jessica Parker, and on 25 March, my idol turned the big 5-0.

Hard to believe really, and although this incredible woman has had to compete with an alter ego that has somewhat overtaken her, my affinity with SJP does actually go beyond Carrie Bradshaw.

From playing Annie on Broadway, dating Robert Downey Jr (*drool*) and luring children to their deaths in Hocus Pocus, to marrying Ferris Bueller, introducing the world to Cosmopolitans and creating her own shoe collection – SJP is my favourite female.

So, happy 50th birthday Sarah Jessica Parker – here’s to the next 50.

– love Stef x

Recipe: Lemon curd Swiss roll

I adore the annual delight that is The Great British Bake Off so taking part in a monthly version at work was a very easy ‘yes.’

That was until I thought about it and realised that I then had to make the various desserts listed… But hey, I made calzones – surely I can whip up a pudding?!

Turns out I can (to an extent) – here is the recipe for my first bake-off challenge, the Swiss roll:

Swiss Roll

Ingredients:

  • Butter (for greasing)
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 115g caster sugar (plus an additional 4tbsp)
  • 115g plain flour

Method:

1. Grease a 13″ x 9″ tray with buttered baking parchment

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

3. Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water

4. Whisk until pale, creamy and thick – the mixture should leave a trail when the whisk is lifted

5. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for a further 5 minutes

6. Sift the flour and use a large metal spoon to lightly fold in the mixture half at a time

7. Pour the mixture slowly into the tray using a spatula to evenly cover the base

8. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until well-risen, pale golden and firm to touch

9. Place a damp tea towel on a flat work surface and cover with baking parchment

10. Dredge the parchment with the 4tbsp of sugar (dredge means chuck the sugar all over the parchment), turn out the sponge onto the paper and remove the buttered parchment from the sponge

11. Cut the edges of the sponge off from each of the two longer sides

12. Roll the sponge tightly from the short end with the paper inside, before leaving on a wire rack to cool

13. When cold, unroll (but not flatten) and spread the lemon curd filling all over the sponge, leaving a 1cm border

14. Roll up and dust with icing sugar

Et voila! A Swiss roll that’s almost as easy as the pushing down a hill method!

*DISCLAIMER: Yes, I didn’t make the lemon curd, but what do you want from me? Do I look like Mary Berry? Baby baking steps people, baby baking steps…*

– love Stef x

Things I’m Loving #4

Things I'm Loving 4

1. 30 Day Butt Lift Challenge – with a hen do, birthday and wedding coming up, I wanted to at least attempt some form of toning. These various 30-day challenges have been the subject of many a SWHH post, but it’s because they’re amazing. Easily doable, I find that I can always stick to it for the full duration and it actually produces the desired results. (NOTE: You may end up walking like John Wayne by Day 3 but hey, no pain no gain. Yes, that sentence just happened…)

2. Johnson’s Holiday Skin – again, with all of the events that are due to happen, I wanted to make a little bit of effort and make my legs appear to be the same colour as the rest of my body. I’m massively against fake tan as I’m ridiculously lazy, so thanks to this brilliant moisturiser, a gradual skin-coloured tan builds of its own accord.

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman – I received this book for Christmas after I went wild (yes, wild) in WHSmith. I read it in a day and a half as the story completely captivated me. I’ve bought the sequel Where She Went  and I’ve asked for the film for my birthday. It may aimed more at a YA audience, but I like to think I’m on the cusp of that category still…

4. Avon Truly Radiant – again, my body is a variety of different colours so to help in making myself just the one shade, I’ve been turning to this Avon beauty. It’s a tinted moisturiser , but one that actually produces a good colour and coverage, especially as we edge ever closer to sunnier climes. Being an Avon lady has its perks!

5. Momma Keeling – okay, she may not be too happy about being referred to as a ‘thing’ that I’m loving, but the fact that she’s got a mention should be more than suffice. It was of course Mother’s Day on Sunday, so an honourable shout out to the lady that gave me life had to happen. Thanks Mum!

6. Statement necklaces – my fashion sense (or lack there of) leaves a lot to be desired. But, I have found a deep love for statement necklaces (or ‘gypsy gold’ as the boyf. likes to call them). My collection is quite substantial and I’ve found that they can actually make an outfit appear different depending on which one I opt for. They also help in making me pass for a slightly fashionable person, woop!

7. Rose gold shoes – or just rose gold anything. I have an affinity for the pinky-toned metal; watches, earrings and now shoes. The beauts pictured are from Topshop, although the pair I purchased were extremely similar from Sole Trader, and were a bargain at £10 *drool*

– love Stef x

Music Monday #4

A week after International Women’s Day, we celebrated the most important women in our lives – our mommas.

So, to pay tribute to the mothers everywhere (with a special shout out to the amazing Momma Regan and Momma Keeling), here’s your Music Monday the Mother’s Day edition:

Mama: Genesis

Your Mother Should Know: The Beatles

The Best Day: Taylor Swift

Mama’s Song: Carrie Underwood

Mama: Spice Girls

Mother: Blondie

Let It Be: The Beatles

Miss Jackson: OutKast

– love Stef x

25 facts

In just under a month I will be what I describe as, ‘officially old’. Or in other words, 26.

To celebrate commiserate this, I thought I’d jump on the recent blogger bandwagon and share 25 facts about me:

1. I was named after tennis legend Steffi Graf, which has led to me being the awkward person who has to introduce herself as “Stefanie with an ‘f'”

2. Although Momma Keeling’s first knowledge of this spelling was thanks to 1970s page 3 girl, Stefanie Marrian… I don’t take after my initial namesake, but I’m not too shabby at tennis – swings and roundabouts

3. I don’t have a middle name, so to correct the matter, in primary school I gave myself two – Olivia Louisa

4. I rarely cry about anything to do with real life, but films, TV series and anything animal-related (dogs especially) can make me sob in a second

5. Because of 4. both Eight Below and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale made me cry so much that they had to be turned off for more than an hour until I had calmed down

6. My geography is appalling – I was convinced Carlisle was in Scotland purely on the basis that Robert Carlyle was Scottish, Durham was the capital of Newcastle, and may have even asked what county I was in at uni while wearing my Staffordshire University hoody

7. Because of 6. I taught myself all the states of America and am currently attempting to learn all of the counties in England

8. I’m an extremely nervous critter and suffer from mild anxiety, which led me to have a panic attack on a night out in Birmingham because there were too many people in the club

9. My food heaven would be either seafood or steak (or both together) and my absolute food hell is fruit – I will not and do not eat any of it. Ever

10. I once asked a worker in a Tesco in Weymouth where the oatcakes were and only then realised that they were a Stoke delicacy

11. Apparently I say ‘cookie’ in a very amusing, Stokie way

12. I am amazing at doing a scouse accent and have a tendency to go slightly Liverpudlian when angry

25 facts

13. My favourite tipple (apart from champagne) is the ever so classy Blue WKD. I’m now in my mid-twenties but still love it

14. I have only been drunk around five times (if that) and my first ever hangover was last summer. I was convinced I was going to die – how do people constantly do it?!

15. I met Jimmy Carr when I worked as a Christmas temp in HMV and have interviewed McBusted, Simon Webb, Ritchie Neville, Adam Rickett, Gareth Gates and Suzanne Shaw

16. I chose to study Journalism on a whim when filling out my UCAS form. I originally toyed with the idea of being a barrister or in the police

17. I had a gap year before university, but instead of going travelling and/or finding myself, I worked as an administrator for a drain company – Eat Love Pray your heart out

18. The day I left Phones 4u is still up there as one of the saddest, most shocking days of my life, but I believe everything happens for a reason and life goes on

19. My icon is Carrie Bradshaw – writing a column in a New York apartment surrounding by lots of shoes is the dream. But with a Miranda personality instead. And Berger

20. Although my other icons are Joey Potter and Ally McBeal – deep aren’t I…

21. My biggest fears are clowns and sharks. Or any situation involving both. I have been known to scream and run away from clowns, and I don’t go in the sea or get into empty swimming pools in case the hotel has a pet shark (you never know)

22. I am exceptionally foul-mouthed. Swearing is a very large part of my vocabulary, despite it not becoming of a lady – f*@k it

23. I’ve very particular about the order of things – everything has to be either categorised into rainbow, alphabetical or chronological orders. I think it’s an only child thing… or a psychopath thing

24. My temper is extremely short – I have been known to stomp my feet in a rather fraught argument with a lecturer, use a fork as a weapon, and bounce a ballpoint pen off somebody’s head. I am, however, much calmer nowadays. Ish

25. I am happiest when I’m in my pyjamas , watching horror films on Netflix with the boyf. and the dog, and pigging out on sweeties. In other words, I’m a simple things in life kinda gal tramp

And there you have it, 25 facts about me. Now, does that count as enough to stop me from turning 26?

– love Stef x

Things I’m Loving #3

Things I'm Loving 3

1. Breaking Bad – I’m never one to watch a TV series when it actually airs and I’ve had to coerce myself into watching this (don’t judge me). But, I’m now into series two and I have to say I’m loving it – I have no idea what happens throughout its entirety but I’m intrigued – no spoilers please!

2. Ciate Fit for a Queen – this nail varnish has made me fall in love with painting my toes all over again. It came with my Mini Mani Month advent calendar and I adore it. It’s exceptionally metallic and two coats does the job easily – sparkly silver nails are mine.

3. Fifty Shades of Grey OST – last week I ventured to the cinema with the girls to watch the eagerly anticipated film. In a screen full of women, I endured the two-hour romp fest and came out feeling a little uninterested in the whole shebang. But what I did enjoy was the pretty amazing soundtrack which accompanies the movie, especially Beyonce’s Crazy in Love.

4. Primark’s Instagram – I’m very  much a Primark princess, but it pains me that the retailer still doesn’t have a website where I can buy, well, everything. Instead I have to make do with pouring over its Instagram account, which is brilliant. The outfit collections, interior mock-ups and jewellery posts make me drool – just let me buy online, please!

5. Urban Decay Oz The Great & Powerful Palettes – these were released a couple of years ago and I received them for my birthday. Coming in two varieties Glinda and Theodora, the palettes are my absolute favourite Urban Decay items. Granted I don’t morph into Michelle Williams or Mila Kunis, but a girl can dream.

6. Flares – I heart flares. Always have done and always will do. I’ve owned several pairs over the years and I’m extremely happy that they are actually now in fashion. My current pair are from Next and they scream 70s, which makes me very happy. They also require platform heels, which is another reason to love them.

7. The Devil’s Rejects – horror films are my movie go-to, and I stumbled upon Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses by chance. It wasn’t the best film I’d ever sat through, but what it does do is introduce you to a family of sadistic killers who go on to star in the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects. Normally sequels are terrible but this is so much better than the first. It leaves you kind of feeling for the murderous sods, plus the soundtrack is amazing and you’ll definitely end up with a girl crush on Sheri Moon Zombie.

– love Stef x

Music Monday #3

March 8th was International Women’s Day, so it’s only right that this week’s Music Monday is dedicated to the females who make the soundtracks to our lives:

Beyonce: Crazy in Love (Fifty Shades of Grey OST)

The Pretty Reckless: Heaven Knows

En Vogue: Don’t Let Go (Love)

Salt-N-Pepa: Push It

Shakespeare’s Sister: Stay

Spice Girls: Say You’ll Be There

Girls Aloud: Sound of the Underground

Dolly Parton: Jolene

Kate Bush: Hounds of Love

Pat Benatar: Heartbreaker

– love Stef x

Things I’m Loving #2

Things I'm Loving 2

1. Bloglovin’ app – I was at uni when I first became aware of blogs and bloggers and blogging, and it was through Bloglovin’ that I discovered my favourites. This site also helped me massively in my first two jobs as a PR and an SEO. The app is the perfect handy tool for catching up with your favourite blogs on the go – I’m (blog)lovin’ it (sorry).

2. Lush The Godmother & Rockstar Soap Stack – yes I’m a bit of a Lush lover, but when I saw this duo I actually squealed. In the store. In front of people. I have wanted both of these soaps for ages but have just never quite gotten around to buying. But, the clever people at Lush have put them together in a stack which is now sat in my room. Being looked at. And smelled. A lot (not sorry).

3. Charlotte Tilbury – another YouTube obsession is Charlotte Tilbury. Her how-to videos are amazing and her products are divine. They’ve made their way to the top of my wish/want/need list, but for now I’ll have to make do with drooling over the tutorials – if you love beauty, you should definitely check Charlotte out. Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Victoria Beckham’s gorgeous Allure cover are all recreated for your viewing pleasure.

4. River Island Gold Asymmetric Slip Dress – I heart a good ol’ sale and River Island never disappoints. This beautiful dress was just £15, (down from £45), and is very reminiscent of the dress worn by Teresa Palmer in my favourite film, Take Me Home Tonight. With a hen do coming up, this could be the outfit I’d been looking for.

5. Sex and the City – thanks to daily TV reruns, my love for Carrie Bradshaw and the girls has once again taken over. The outfits, the shoes, New York and more importantly, Berger. I loved Berger, and of all the SATC men, he is my absolute favourite. If there wasn’t a Big, I definitely feel like Berger should’ve been The One. And yes, I’m completely dismissing Aidan (bleurgh).

6. Greek yogurt & honey breakfasts – this month I’m making the conscious effort to get myself in shape. Eating will consist of healthy foods and I’ll be partaking in that strange thing known as exercise. I’ll be swapping brews and prosecco for green tea and water, and to kickstart my days, I’ll be chowing down on the delight that is Greek yogurt and honey (no sarcasm). It’s actually incredibly nice and does fill you up – if you want to be even more rock ‘n’ roll, you can add granola.

7. Real Techniques Brow Brush – by now it’s become apparent that I enjoy everything Pixiwoo/Real Techniques-related. The brow brush is something that has fallen in and out of favour, but I’m currently in a brush and eyeshadow mood for brows, so this is the tool I’ve been reaching for. The angled bristles are perfect for creating a defined brow and it’s extremely easy to use – win.

– love Stef x

#TheDress

#TheDress

Unless you were living under a rock this weekend, you would have undoubtedly seen the Twitter (and then the whole Internet/world) meltdown thanks to one photo of a dress.

Said dress was seen as either white and gold, or blue and black, and the answer divided opinion, split up families and triggered wars (slight exaggeration)…

As for me, well all I can see is white and gold – the only time I’ve seen blue and black is when I’ve looked at the actual dress on its website.

Momma Keeling saw white and gold the first time and then blue and black the second, which has led her to believe she is now some sort of special, The Shining-esque human.

Big Les and the boyf. meanwhile, decided to annoy mankind by declaring the dress was obviously blue and black, that I was of course colour blind (while they were superior beings), and that the whole thing was ridiculous.

Which it indeed was.

But, just to settle the debate, here’s a selection of both blue and black dresses, and white and gold for you to peruse, because really – who cares?!

– love Stef x

Music Monday #2

Monday has come around once again, but to get you through the start of a new week, here’s your Music Monday playlist – enjoy!

James Bay: Hold Back The River

Bon Jovi: Wanted Dead Or Alive

Jake Bugg: Two Fingers

Fatboy Slim: Rockafeller Skank

Florence + The Machine: You’ve Got The Love

Hall & Oates: You Make My Dreams Come True

Hozier: Take Me To Church

Imagine Dragons: Radioactive

Milky Chance: Stolen Dance

Nancy Sinatra: These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

– love Stef x

The Primark Biker Jumper Dress

The Primark Biker Jumper Dress

I mentioned in my lipstick post how Topshop’s Infrared had helped me to become obsessed with orange, and this Primark jumper dress is VERY ORANGE!

It’s my current, favourite item of clothing and the above outfit is one that I keep wearing – it’s perfect for Autumn/Winter as it’s just cosy enough and the biker sleeves make it a little edgy over girly.

Oh and the bling I’m wearing with it isn’t borrowed from Mr T, honest…

Jumper dress – Primark

Necklace – Primark

Leggings – New Look

Riding Boots – Dorothy Perkins

Lipstick – Topshop Infrared

– love Stef x

Recipe: Valentine’s Day Calzones

Yep, you read that right – a recipe. That I used on that sickingly forced holiday known as Valentine’s Day.

To reiterate, I actually made dough – dough. Not bought something and put it in the oven, which is what my ‘cooking’ normally consists of. And it was edible, like really edible.

Valentine's Day Calzones

Granted they’re not the most perfectly shaped calzones, but you get the drift. So, onto the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 225g plain strong flour
  • 90ml milk (body temperature)
  • 50ml water (body temperature)
  • 1tsp dried yeast
  • 25ml garlic-infused olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 200g buffalo mozzarella
  • 70g salami (sliced)
  • 70g chorizo (sliced)
  • 60g prosciutto

Method:

1. Sift the 225g of flour into a large bowl

2. In a separate bowl, mix the warm milk, water and dried yeast

3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and make a dough

4. Knead for 5 minutes on a floured, even surface

5. Making a small well in the centre of the dough, add the olive oil and knead to combine

6. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave it to prove in a warm place for two hours

*I discovered (somewhat luckily) that the above initial steps can be done the day before if needed – simply place the dough, still in its cling filmed bowl, in the fridge after proving*

7. Preheat the oven with a baking tray inside to 230 degrees C

8. Add the pinch of salt to the dough and knead again, before divided and rolling into four equal balls

9. On a floured surface, roll each ball out into 8″ circles

10. Place 1/4 of the mozzarella and Italian meat mixture (bung it all in a bowl, season and drizzle with oil) onto 1/2 of each dough circle, leaving a 1″ border around the edge

11. Use water to brush clean the edges, then fold over the sides and pinch closed the calzone

12. Bake for around 8 minutes

And there you have it – calzones fit for a Valentine’s Day meal. We accompanied them with a feta cheese salad and washed it down with a bottle (or three) of Prosecco.

Mez Bez and Paul Hollywood would be proud, I think 🙂

– love Stef x

Things I’m Loving #1

Another first for SWHH, I thought I’d share the things that I’ve recently been loving. Whether it’s fashion, beauty, or entertainment – if I’ve been wearing it, using it, doing it or watching it, it’s here.

Things I'm Loving 1

1. MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 in NW15 – since my MAC makeover (read about it here), I have not stopped using nor loving this foundation. Despite the fact that most weekdays I’m extremely lazy when it comes to my appearance, I love it so much that I’ve actually been making the effort to get ready in the morning.

2. Real Techniques Buffing Brush – following on from my new foundation fave, to apply it I’ve fallen in love with this brush. It’s perfect at doing the job with ease and provides a flawless and even finish – the only issue is you can’t buy it separately but as part of the core collection.

3. H&M Wool Blend Coat in Petrol – oh H&M how I love you, especially your sale section on your app (which works a dream, FYI). As Stoke doesn’t have a store, I often peruse the app and I ordered this coat on a whim, but it is beautiful. The colour, shape and fit – all amazing. It works as a smarter coat for meetings etc. and for £17, you can’t go wrong.

4. Lush Snow Fairy Body Wash & Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar – who doesn’t want to smell like fairies and unicorns? The bubble bar is gorgeous, turning the water a beautiful silvery colour while making my skin feel silky. Snow Fairy smells divine and lathers up a treat – bath time has never been more magical.

5. Lost – okay more specifically, Sawyer from Lost. Thanks to Sky enabling me to binge on TV series, I thought ten years after its original airing would be a good time to get into this show. And I love it. It’s completely ridiculous and honestly, I’m not entirely certain what’s going on, but what I do know is I’ve loved Sawyer from the start. I’m nearing the end now, and my crush couldn’t be more cemented – forget Dr Jack, con man Sawyer is my desert island love.

6. HD Brows in Vamp – although nature decided I would have exceptionally dark brown hair, it also decided that my eyebrows should of course be around five shades lighter. Yeah… thanks for that. But, beauty products were made to save the day, and my saving grace is this kit. Take that, nature.

7. YouTubers InTheFROW & Lauren Curtis – I love beauty vloggers and my current obsessions are Victoria and Lauren. I can sit and watch their videos for hours. In fact I do do that. Normally on a Sunday or whenever the boyf. is glued to the Xbox. They are both fantastic and enviously beautiful, but that aside, their videos are perfect for make-up lovers.

8. MAC Lipstick in Creme de la Femme – this was my first ever MAC product, and although I’m not really a pinky kinda gal, this shade is extremely pretty. I’ve been reaching for it more recently as it was ideal for Valentine’s Day and well, any other day really.

So there’s my first roundup – what have you all been loving recently? Any recommendations?

– love Stef x

Music Monday #1

As something a little different, I’d like to introduce the first Music Monday – a post series that pretty much explains itself.

I toyed with the idea of having a Spotify playlist plugin, but where’s the fun in that? There are music videos for a reason (especially when that reason is Adam Levine), so I’ve stuck with the ye olde YouTube embeds.

So, without further ado, here is your Monday playlist – enjoy the songs, marvel at my taste in music (ironically or not, your call) and above all, have a bit of a perve:

The Courteeners: Are You In Love With A Notion?

Semisonic: Closing Time

The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter

Eagles: Hotel California

Death Cab for Cutie: I Will Follow You Into The Dark

Fleetwood Mac: Monday Morning

The Black Keys: Next Girl

Clean Bandit: Rather Be

The Kooks: Seaside

Maroon 5: Sugar

– love Stef x

Hamilton Island, QLD: Cuddling koalas & Whitsunday Apartments

While in Hamilton Island we stayed in the Whitsunday Apartments, and got an upgrade for a reef view – check out the stunning view from our balcony on the eighth floor…
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Not bad, eh? We had four days on the island and made the most of it. Whitehaven Beach was a highlight for me, along with diving the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures when we went diving, so you’ll have to wait for the Fiji posts to see some diving pics (stay tuned).

We walked along the Marina most days as that’s where all of the restaurants and shops are, and well, you can see why…

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But my absolute favourite part about Hamilton Island? Cuddling Koalas!!!

Yep, you got it. Take a look at this lovely boy, who for a brief moment was in my arms. His name is Wally, and he likes eucalyptus.

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Isn’t he just the loveliest?!

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And he was quite a lump for a baby!

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But he was definitely worth waiting for!

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He had a weird smell, but he didn’t bite me, which I am very grateful for as (now here’s a fun fact) koalas carry Chlamydia! Who knew?!

Have you had chlamydia from a koala bear?

We’d love to hear from you 🙂

– love Carla x

My MAC makeover

I love makeup – nothing makes me happier than lipsticks and eyeshadows, eyeliner and good conturing (it’s the only girly thing about me).

One of my amazing Christmas presents from the boyf. was a gift card to go and get some MAC makeup and have a makeover.

*Now, this was very clever on his part – he’s not only showing he knows me very well, but also has the bonus of seeing me look like less of a tramp for a day. Well played, boyf. well played…*

My appointment was made for 25 January at the Selfridges in the Trafford Centre, Manchester (Stoke doesn’t have one, we’re not that classy)…

The makeup artist was Fran and she was absolutely lovely. She put me at ease, had beautiful makeup on (some can have a little too much on and I didn’t want that look – far too much effort), and asked what kind of makeover I was after.

Because I’m a bit dense and was too excited to be sat at a MAC counter, I hadn’t really thought about what look I wanted. In the 30 seconds after Fran had asked, I made the quick decision of a smokey eye and contouring.

MAC Makeover 1

Starting with my eyes, she worked her magic and created a coppery smokey look, winged eyeliner and false lashes (well, why not go all out, ay?). Then it was time for the base…

I knew I wanted to buy some MAC foundation and this was the perfect opportunity to figure out which shade was the one for me.

Turns out I’m an NW15, and we opted for the Studio Fix Fluid foundation, with NW15 Select Cover Up concealer and Mineralise SkinFinish powder in Medium and Medium Deep.

After a matte peach blush finished the face, we moved on to the final part – the lips.

Up until now, the boyf. had dutifully sat, took a few photos, munched on cookies and was generally well behaved. As soon as lipstick was mentioned, he chirped up and declared I wasn’t allowed to wear my ‘usual goth colour’ – hmpf.

So, seeing as my favourite deep plum (not goth) lippy was vetoed, we instead decided on a nude lipliner and coral lip. Et voila!

I was over the moon with the whole thing and couldn’t thank Fran enough. To top it all off, I bought the foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer and eyelashes before heading off for a lovely meal.

An amazing MAC makeover and an all-round amazing Sunday.

Have you ever had a makeover?

– love Stef x