Not to be Sniffed at

If you’re a scent commitment-phobe like me, then purchasing samples of fragrances provides the ideal opportunity for you to try before you buy and perhaps dip your toe into a world of scent that may have otherwise been financially out of reach. I tried Fragrance Direct UK because the site had good reviews and they stock brands I wanted to try such as Byredo, Tom Ford and Essentric Molecules at reasonable prices but there are other websites that may be worth a try and Ebay also have perfume samples available. The samples come in a purple velvet pouch and arrive pretty promptly.

I did originally take a picture of the bottles before they were empty but there was a problem uploading the files so I had to take new ones of empty bottles

The original fragrance is decanted into spray bottles and you can choose your sample size from 1ml up to 5ml, with some fragrances offering 10ml options. Prices are dependent on the scent but most start at around £4 with a 2ml sample costing around £5.70. It isn’t something you could do every month but as someone whose fragrance collection features mostly autumnal or wintery scents it was perfect for me to order a few samples to try for summer without committing to a full bottle.

I like quite niche brands and don’t want to always smell like everyone else but as these brands more often than not have a rather hefty price tag it’s good to try a few of them out before parting with cold, hard cash. The perfumes I’ve tried so far are Gypsy Water and Pulp by Byredo, Molecule 01 by Eccentric Molecules, Eau de soleil blanc by Tom Ford and Jardin d’Amalfi and Virgin Island Water by Creed. I love them all but there are a couple of clear favourites, one being the unique Molecule 01 which I ended up purchasing a full 30ml bottle of this month. Byredo’s free spirited Gypsy Water is definitely going on my birthday list but I’m equally in love with the burst of ripe fruitiness that is Pulp. Creed’s Virgin Island water is the perfect light summer fragrance with notes of coconut and the Tom Ford scent reminds me of suncream with a sensual edge so is ideal for summer nights.

Whilst I’m here I should really address the lack of blogging. I just haven’t felt inspired to write, I’ve felt a bit lazy and life has taken over. I also feel like Instagram has replaced blogging for many people and I’m sad to admit that. Maybe we just don’t have the attention spans to sit and read a blog post anymore? With this in mind, I’m not sure how many people will actually read my little blog but I suppose I shouldn’t let that stop me doing something I enjoy. Is anyone else still blogging on regardless?

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City Social: Fine Dining with a view

Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I tried City Social for the first time to celebrate our anniversary and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Located on the 24th floor of Tower 42 in Old Broad Street, it boasts fantastic views of the City below. All of the staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating so we felt very well looked after.


Our waiter, Alex suggested I try cocktail pairing to match my drinks to the courses I ordered. The mixologist Nelson russled up two tasty martini based cocktails to compliment my seafood starter and main. Both had citrus elements but the second cocktail was my favourite as it reminded me of lemon meringue pie.

To start we both had scallops with truffle, celeriac, pickled pear and shimeji mushrooms which was delicious. For my main course I had fruit of the sea linguine with shellfish veloute which was rich, creamy and full of flavour. Desert was the best mango sorbet I’ve ever tasted followed by another cocktail.

They also gave us a chocolate cake with a Happy Anniversary message which I thought was a nice touch and extra desert is always a bonus. I couldn’t fault our experience and will definitely be returning one day for another special occasion.

Is Disco having a revival

Is disco making a comeback? It would seem so. Remnants of the genre began creeping in early last year and over the past few months I’ve noticed that there are more than usual new releases in the charts that either come under the disco umbrella or are influenced by disco. examples include Purple Disco Machine, Adelphi Music Factory and Lizzo to name a few. Some of the greats from the era such as Nile Rodgers & Chic and Chaka Khan are also releasing new material to add a touch of nostalgia your playlists.

There are various reasons for the apparent resurgence of disco, the current political climate being one of them. Why not escape the doom and gloom of Brexit by having a good old fashioned boogie on the dance floor? (Why do I feel like someone’s nan after writing this sentence?!) Disco is about having a good time, letting your hair down and leaving your cares behind which is definitely something that I can get on board with. Different styles of music also have cycles of popularity and the time has come for disco to have it’s turn in the limelight again.

Where music leads fashion often follows and I detect a disco influence in some of the current Spring/Summer trends. The maximalist look is a nod to the extravagance of the era and dressing up to the nines for a night out. Sequins are a disco staple and there was a smattering of sparkle across the SS19 catwalks from the likes of Prada and fashion magpie, Halpern. The sartorial influence of the 70s decade in general also seems to be popular with the return of tie dye, ditsy florals, waistcoats and a beige colour palette. There are even whispers that disco pants are set to make a comeback so with this in mind, I’ll be getting my glam on and dancing my cares away under a disco ball. See you on the dancefloor…

‘Tis the Season to be Busy

Christmas is definitely my favourite time of year but I feel like the older I get, the less time I have to actually just enjoy it. (The joys of adulthood) In between full time work, getting all the Christmas shopping done, the festive nights out and catching up with family and friends it’s not easy to carve out some time to just chill with a scented candle and watch Christmas films. Work doesn’t usually get any easier in the build up to Christmas, it’s often the opposite as the deadlines become tighter and you have to pull together to cover people who are on annual leave. They didn’t gear us up for this during the last week at school when we’d be winding down and spend most of our time making cards and decorations or watching films. How I miss those days…

Even though its supposed to be a joyous time of year, the pressure to get everything done and have the ‘perfect’ Christmas can often leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s important to take time out for some rest and self care. Although it’s temping to overstretch yourself, say no to certain invitations if you need to or just show your face for a short time then go home to relax. 

I have plans for every weekend in December but I’ve tried to keep at least one day or evening free during each weekend which may end up being filled with Christmas shopping but I hold out hope that I’ll get a few windows of time to relax and get into the spirit. Planning out your days in a diary or calendar is a good way to get organised. For example, you could allocate one or two evenings each week to online shopping which is what I plan to do. I also write lists of what I plan to buy for people and cross them off once that item has been purchased. 

Whatever you do to make the festive period more manageable, make sure you take time to live in the moment and enjoy time with your loved ones. 

Sustainability in a Throw-away World

As a blogger, there’s pressure to always have the latest must-have items, even if it’s just for the ‘gram. How many of us have bought something that’s ‘of the moment’ worn it once or twice then got bored of it once it’s gone out of fashion? I’m definitely guilty of this but this attitude isn’t exactly sustainable for either my bank balance or the environment.

There is currently a large discussion around sustainable fashion and the damage that fast fashion, as the World’s second biggest polluter, causes to the environment. If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I attended a Lucky Things meet up earlier this month where founder Sunita, along with stylist Fatima Truscott discussed the disadvantages of fast fashion and encouraged us to shop our own wardrobes, only buying items that we truly love. This started the ball rolling for me and it gathered pace after watching Fashion’s Dirty secrets with Stacey Dooley not long afterwards. The sheer level of pollution and environmental damage linked to the fashion industry, as demonstrated in the programme was shocking and left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth.

Whilst I love fashion and being on trend, looking after our planet is vital so I’m making a conscious effort to buy less and make better choices when shopping. There are various ways you can still enjoy fashion but limit damage to the environment. I’ve been raiding my wardrobe and styling old items in new ways. Often trends are cyclical so if you love tartan and still have some pieces from a few years back you’ll still be on trend wearing said items now. It’s also made me think more about my own personal style, rather than just wearing fashionable items for approval from others and those Instagram likes.

Buying vintage and second hand clothing is a good way to get your shopping fix and it also means you’ll probably have something that most of your friends don’t have, which reduces the risk of ‘twinning’ on a night out. Personally, I’ve never thrown clothes away and always donate, sell or recycle what I no longer wear so this won’t change but I’d also like to organise a clothes swapping event at some point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I will give into temptation and buy the odd fashionable high street piece but only if I really love it and plan to keep it for a few years then donate or recycle it once I’m finished. Seeking out sustainable and environmentally friendly brands or lines within brands I already love, such as Join life at Zara and the H&M Conscious collection is also on the agenda.

If we all make small changes it can make a big difference to the World we live in

Popping my WordCamp cherry

I’ve been using WordPress for my blog for the past 2 1/2 years now but I never really thought to attend a WordCamp. I decided to accompany my boyfriend to WordCamp Brighton to see what it was all about. I thought it would be mostly full of developers with knowledge far greater than my own and that I would feel a little bit inadequate and alienated but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whilst many of the attendees and of course the speakers and organisers have a great deal of knowledge and expertise, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

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I went on the Friday after travelling to Brighton Thursday evening after work. There were various talks and workshops going on throughout the day and you could choose which ones you wanted to attend. I found the workshop ‘Finding the Words to Press’ hosted by Tess from Mind Doodle very useful and enjoyable. It got me thinking about how to come up with ideas for blog posts and also what I’m planning to achieve with my blog.

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The venue was in the centre of Brighton which is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for some time. For me, Brighton is almost an amalgamation of London and Southend on sea. Its vibrant, lively and cosmopolitan like London but also has the seaside town vibes of Southend where I currently live, only on a grander scale. For example, there are arcades and rides in Southend but in Brighton they’re all on the vast Palace pier which we enjoyed strolling along on the Thursday night not long after we arrived. It’s a place I’d definitely like to go back to.

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I’ll admit, there were some talks and conversations throughout the day where I didn’t fully understand what was going on but its made me want to learn more and also engage with the community. It may have been my first WordCamp but I have a feeling that it won’t be my last. I’d definitely recommend it to fellow bloggers who use WordPress as you’ll gain an insight into how it works, get inspiration for your blog and also meet some lovely people.

From Blogger to Influencer: How the Blogging Landscape has transformed since 2010

When I first started blogging at the end of 2010 there were far fewer bloggers and it was only just starting to become popular. I used my blog as a place to showcase my writing and share my life aswell as any bargains I’d found, within a space that didn’t have a character limit. Over the years blogging gained momentum quite rapidly and fast forward to 2018 and every other person seems to be blogging. This coincided with the rise of social media and its eventual takeover and spawned a new type of blogger: the influencer. The influencer typically looks a certain way, travels to exotic locations various times per year, often wears expensive designer clothes or accessories, looks Kardashian level flawless with rarely a hair out of place, regularly visits cafes, bars etc that provide the prettiest backgrounds for their images and portrays a life that most can only dream of. (Life goals if you will)

Blogs used to be a backlash against the glossy magazines with their picture perfect aspirational lifestyles. I enjoyed reading blogs because I could often relate to the voice of the person writing and could see myself going to the same places, wearing the same kind of outfits and living a similar life. The world they blogged about was attainable for the everyday person and it was refreshing for the stories of ‘normal’ people to be out there in the public domain. There are still bloggers out there keeping it real and posting relatable content but they aren’t getting the recognition they deserve and are becoming further few and far between. The cookie cutter influencer takeover seems to be drowning out the voices of many other bloggers who need to be heard.

It’s as if most of the successful, mainstream bloggers have become just like the people in the glossy magazines who I struggled to relate to. The blogosphere in a sense has almost become what it originally set out to challenge. The painstakingly set up and professionally photographed and edited photos wouldn’t look out of place in a high end magazine and as aesthetically pleasing as they are, I just can’t fully relate to them. I understand that some blogs are a brand and they need to portray a certain image in order to sell the products they are promoting and I also appreciate the level of work and skill that has gone into these posts but I feel like things have gone slightly too far. It makes me feel like my blog and social media posts, featuring pictures taken by my boyfriend of high street outfits (most of which aren’t brand new) or about me living day to day life just don’t cut it in comparison. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

For me, part of the appeal of blogs was reading about the ‘girl next door’ and giving a voice to ordinary people with ordinary lives. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost sight of this. There is room for all types of bloggers and I’d like to see more reality, diversity, everyday locations, pared back beauty and just variety in general. This isn’t a pop at the bloggers who have made a successful business out of their blog or social media. it’s more a plea to give everyone a chance. Try to make sure your feed is a mixture of different types of content. If more people followed smaller bloggers who post varied content then everyone is more likely to get the airtime and recognition that they deserve.

P.S. I’ve purposely left any pictures out of this post. If you read until the end then thank you for your time 🙂

 

Fashion recycling & style on a budget

In the past, once the new season looks land on the high street I pick a particular trend (or 2) and purchase various items that fit under that umbrella. Last summer the trend of choice was gingham so I promptly stocked up on dresses, tops and trousers featuring that small, distinctive style of check. This summer though things are changing. I’m trying to save money for boring but important adult things so I can’t spend as much on clothes as I usually do. I’ve still bought some new pieces but most of them are from Primark or were under £25 in the sales. I usually wear these with items that I’ve had in my wardrobe for at least a year, often a few years, to bring those pieces up to date. The Miss Selfridge skirt below is something that’s been in my wardrobe for 3 years but when worn with the blue, floral tie hem top from Primark it becomes a pretty current outfit.

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Sometimes I do a Kate Middleton and recycle a full outfit, especially for work where there aren’t usually any photo opportunities. My colleagues often comment on how many different outfits I have so cutting down on buying any more is probably a good idea! The orange dress below was a Topshop buy around 3 years ago but I still wear it every summer, especially on holiday. I love the colour and it’s a classic shape. Dressing for this crazy heatwave has been a struggle though. We’ve just had air conditioning fitted in work but as I walk to and from work I don’t want to wear anything too warm or heavy.

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I also should mention the fact that this is my first blog post in about two months. I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired as of late and not always like my usual self. Its also easier to just post the odd outfit pic on Instagram rather than thinking about and writing a full post but I have missed it. Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed so maybe making an effort to do it more often will make me feel more like myself.

The outfit below is one of my favourites, mainly because I love the bright print on the Zara top (only £19.99 as part of their beachwear range and probably even cheaper now in the sale) and the yellow sandals were a bargain £4 in the H&M sale! Worn with a simple white vest and skirt which have been in my wardrobe for years creates an on trend look with a bit of an edge.  Have you bought many new pieces this summer?

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A Taste of Paradise at Now Garden, Punta Cana

It’s not everyday that me and my boyfriend go on Exotic holidays but this year we decided to push the boat out and book our last big, long haul holiday before we start saving for a house. Initially we wanted to go to Barbados but it was way over our budget so we picked Dominican Republic as we could get the type of hotel we wanted at an affordable price for us. After trawling Trip Advisor and the deals in the British Airways sale we chose the Now Garden hotel in Punta Cana.

After a pleasant 8 1/2 hour flight, during which I watched films such as The Greatest Showman and Black Panther we landed in Punta Cana. At the airport there was quite a bit of queuing to pay entry tax and hand over customs forms but I suppose this is to be expected outside Europe. I would definitely advise anyone travelling to the Caribbean to take a pen or 2 with you to fill in the forms as we had to borrow one on both our inward and outward journeys which can be an issue if there are none available. We arrived at the hotel quite late UK time and was greeted by friendly, helpful members of staff and a cold drink. After sorting out our room and unpacking some of our stuff we ate in the Carnival buffet restaurant at the sister hotel Now Larimar (a short, golf buggy ride away) then went to bed. The next morning we woke up to amazing views outside our room and a tasty breakfast. Most days I had toast and exotic fruit but I sometimes had bacon and yummy pastries (not together obviously!)

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The hotel grounds are immaculately maintained and there’s a real sense of luxury and indulgence. It was the ideal place to relax in the sun for 10 days after a busy (and cold) few months at work and home and I had such a lovely, relaxing time. The pool is a horseshoe shape with a lazy river either side and it was so inviting. The swim up bar and pool bar serve a variety of drinks, including cocktails and mocktails and a BBQ lunch was served every day which was very moreish!

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The first couple of days were cloudy and it rained on and off but the rest of the time we enjoyed clear, blue skies and bright sunshine which was a departure from what we’re used to in the UK. There was a choice of 6 restaurants to eat in at night, most of which were in the Now Larimar hotel. We tried all of them but my favourites were the French, the Japanese and Carnival buffet. The good thing about the restaurants and entertainment being in the other hotel meant that our hotel was fairly quiet at night. The hotel room was very clean and comfortable and decked out with essentials such as a hairdryer and even a iron. One day we retuned to the room to see that the maid had left a lovely display made from towels, a blanket and pretty flowers which was a really nice touch.

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Ah, the beach… For me, turquoise sea and white sand are what dreams are made of and paddling in the surf, looking out to sea really did feel like paradise. The only downside to the beach was being constantly approached by vendors trying to sell excursions and souvenirs but they were always friendly and they have to make a living somehow so it’s understandable why they do it. I did buy a pair of flip flops from one of them on our first day as mine broke and they were actually really comfortable.

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I would definitely recommend the Now Garden hotel and the Dominican Republic to anyone looking to go on a long-haul beach holiday. It’s a beautiful place and the people were so friendly and helpful. It was so nice to relax, enjoy the sun and surroundings, spend time with my boyfriend and switch off from the pressures of life for 10 days. I just wish we were still there now!

If you are thinking of going to the Dominican Republic or anywhere else in the Caribbean here are some tips:

  1. Make sure you take some dollars with you for entry tax, tips, items from the hotel shop, any souvenirs you may want or excursions
  2. Factor 50 sunscreen is pretty essential, especially if you burn easily like I do
  3. Mosquito repellent is also essential. I recommend the Boots 50% Deet spray as I only got bitten once in the whole time we were there
  4. Bring a pen for filling in customs forms
  5. Take as many photos as possible when you’re there as when you return they will help reinforce the amazing memories

Spring Style; It’s in the Bag

We may be into April but I don’t think mother nature got the memo as Spring still hasn’t sprung. My lighter clothes are still hibernating in plastic bags in at the top of my wardrobe and in various other locations around the house (is it just me who does this?!) but you can always rely on pastel accessories to evoke that much needed Spring spirit.

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This gorgeous baby pink Florence bag from Boutique of Molly is perfect to add a touch of the joys of Spring to any outfit. It’s just the right size for my purse, phone, lipstick and even a small umbrella for those April showers. The strap is also detachable so it makes a great clutch for a night out.

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Monochrome makes a fab backdrop for pastels so I wore my Boohoo polka dot dress to compliment the pretty pink of the bag. The gold chain detailing is a nice touch and it’s a designer dupe but a fraction of the price at £30.

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The bag has various different sized compartments that are ideal for your phone and things like make-up and travel cards. It would be a good bag to take on holiday as it’s pretty flat so won’t take up too much room in your case.

If you like the look of Florence or anything else on the Boutique of Molly site you can get 20% off with the code CHELSEYP20