Gaga for Gingham

Gingham is so prevalent this season it’s practically a neutral. Never has looking like a tablecloth been so en vogue but I love it! My obsession started with with a pair of trousers from Primark, escalated into buying about 5 gingham tops (they’re all different, I promise) and now I’m even looking at gingham shoes. I have to remind myself that once summer is over, all items will be resigned to the back of the wardrobe so I shouldn’t go too mad but I just can’t resist. Here are a couple of my favourite recent outfits featuring this popular print.

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This checked, embroidered beauty is from Zara which is my fashion mecca at the moment and it’s so comfortable. The jeans are an old Urban Outfitters pair but ripped jeans are everywhere right now and the mac is from Topshop last year. The espadrilles (another fave of mine) are also from Zara.

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This cold shoulder top doesn’t translate as well on camera but looks better in real life. (photo editing tips are welcome!) It’s from H&M which is good for gingham on a budget. Another one of my favourite recent buys are these pink culottes from New Look which have the added bonus of not needing to be ironed. They also have an elasticated waist and plenty of room for an expanding gut after a big meal. What more could you want? These espadrilles were from River Island last summer but New Look have a wide selection at the moment.

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The Struggle between Insta-Perfect Life & Reality

I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve always found it difficult to keep my Instagram content balanced between decent quality blog worthy images and more personal ones with family, friends and on nights out. I did touch on this in a previous post but I feel like things have got worse rather than better. When people unfollow me I can’t help but take it personally and feel like my content is at fault and isn’t always at a ridiculously high quality or similar enough to the successful bloggers or influencers. It’s easy to beat myself up about not putting more work into all of my posts, even though I have a full time job and want to do other things with my free time aswell as working on my blog and social media presence.

However, without wanting to sound like Ali G, I’ve always been one to keep it real and for my social media to reflect my real life, warts and all as it were. Also, to be honest I rarely have somebody around who can take good quality outfit pictures for me when I’m out and about. It seems to be a case of real life getting in the way of capturing the type of images I feel that would get the most engagement. Sadly, I don’t just happen to be BFFs with a professional photographer and most of my weekends are spent rushing around to wherever I need to be (on trains mostly) or resting as everyone needs a break sometimes. I don’t look like a model, I can’t wear body con and I have down days and times when I struggle to face the World so my life may not be ‘Goals’ but I prefer to be completely relatable.

It’s like a large amount of fellow bloggers, influencers or young people have a certain checklist for following people and if you don’t meet that criteria they hit the unfollow button. Without wanting to offend those who post the stereotypical blogger type content listed on the tongue-in-cheek checklist I’ve compiled below, it seems that if most of your pictures don’t follow these particular descriptions then it can be difficult to retain followers. It’s pretty brutal but it won’t stop me staying true to myself.

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I’ll admit I occasionally post images like these myself when I’m in the position to take them or have them taken (minus the Victoria’s Secret one of course) but it seems that if every single photo isn’t like this it’s a turn off for some people. This actual blog post doesn’t look perfect either and this sums up what I’m trying to say really. (in a roundabout way) Real life isn’t perfect and what really matters can’t always be captured in a Instagram post. I want to enjoy life the best I can in the moment, rather than being a slave to my feed and agonising over what I do and don’t post because of what image it may project to others.

Review of Too Faced Sweet Peach Eyeshadow Palette

I’ve been wanting to treat myself to a new eyeshadow palette to join the ranks alongside my Urban Decay Naked 3 and various Make Up Revolution palettes for some time. Having been impressed with Too Faced products, such as the Better Than Sex mascara previously, I had a look in my local Debenhams to see what was on offer. There were about 3 palettes to choose from but the wearability and prettiness of the shades in the Sweet Peach palette sold it for me, along with the addictive peachy smell!

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The packaging is really cute and I love the magnetic clasp, which makes a satisfying sound when closing the palette. I’ve used four of the shades so far and I’m impressed with the silky smooth texture and the pigmentation. Some of the lighter shades show up better when using an eyeshadow primer but you can build up and blend the colour pretty easily. The smell is probably the best part as I could just sniff the palette all day!

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Here, I am wearing a mixture of Just Peachy and Candied Peach in the crease and Georgia on the lid. Even the shade names sound good enough to eat! Apologies, this isn’t the best picture and my work makeup is usually rushed but I plan to add more to the post in a week or so. I just couldn’t wait to share how much I love it!

Beside the Seaside

I’ve lived in the Southend area for nearly 6 months now and I can now honestly say that I love where I live. Nowhere is perfect or without its issues but I’m much happier and more relaxed here than I was living in London. As I said before I’m in London often enough anyway but it’s nice to come home to somewhere which is usually pretty quiet. Today probably isn’t the best example though as I hear people outside the local pub getting into the bank holiday spirit(s) but hopefully it’ll quieten down tonight.

Last weekend we jumped on the train and went to Leigh-on-sea which is a lovely place to go on the hottest day of the year. There was a great atmosphere as everyone was outside enjoying the weather and the seaside is so picturesque. When I lived in London everyone flocked to the limited parks on a sunny day which never did my hayfever any favours and there was never any space as everyone had the same idea. Although Leigh was busy it wasn’t unpleasant.

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We had reserved a table at The Boatyard restaurant and arranged to meet up with my mum and her partner’s friends and their two children, who enjoyed an eye cream and paddling in the sea after our meal. I ordered the fish of the day which was a tasty tuna steak with salad. For dessert I chose the panna cotta which is one of my favourites.

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It was such a lovely day and I’m looking forward to more Summer days beside the sea.

Cocktails & Lunch at Olivia’s La Cala

From the end of March to the beginning of April I spent a week in Spain visiting my grandparents which also coincided with mine and my boyfriend’s 7 year anniversary. To mark the occasion we decided to try TOWIE star Elliott Wright’s restaurant in La Cala which isn’t far from where my grandparents live. After watching a show about the opening and running of the restaurant on a programme called Playa in Marbella we were excited to try it.

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We first went there on the Thursday for cocktails and it was such a nice, chilled atmosphere and not at all pretentious. The staff we really friendly and helpful and I enjoyed my cocktails. My favourite was a tropical concoction called Blue Hawaiian (below)

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We then returned on Monday for our anniversary lunch and the food did not disappoint. I chose the tempura sole with straw potato which was really tasty but there were a decent amount of options for mains along with a selection of Tapas dishes. My boyfriend and grandparents were also really impressed with their meals and although the prices aren’t the cheapest, you definitely get what you pay for.

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The restaurant has a lovely sea view which adds to the relaxed atmosphere. My outfit of choice for the occasion was a gingham top from Matalan with cropped flares from Topshop and Clarks sandals. I went for a bit of a Spanish theme to fit in with the location!

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As we were leaving, Elliott was outside on the phone so once he’d finished his call my grandad, bless him asked if he would have a picture taken with me as I was too embarrassed to ask. Elliott was happy to oblige and seemed really friendly and down to Earth. Overall, we were really impressed and will definitely return next time we’re in Spain. Its somewhere I would recommend a visit to, even for cocktails and maybe some Tapas.

A Spring in my Step

So the clocks have gone forward, the sun shines most days and the breeze isn’t quite as bitter as it was a week or so ago. It seems that Spring has sprung. I’ve seen people out and about wearing shorts which is a bit too far, especially for someone who feels the cold like me but it’s definitely time to wear lighter clothes on those days when the weather is decent. I’m obsessed with embroidery at the moment, specifically of the floral variety so I’m glad I picked up these rose detail jeans in the Missguided shop last year. I also can’t get enough of gingham and this cotton top was a bargain at £12 from Matalan. Espadrilles are a good carry over trend from last summer and these Zara ones were only £20.

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I still need to wear a jacket with this look but on sunny days a black faux leather would do. I’m looking forward to when it’s warm enough not to need one though.

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BlogConLDN 2017

I’ve only been to a couple of Scarlett London events before but they never disappoint and the latest BlogCon was no exception. Hundreds of bloggers descended on the QEII centre in Westminster, a location which has sadly become quite poignant since the terrible events that unfolded on the 22nd March but that’s a whole other story.

The space was open plan and had some decent views as you can see below.

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There was plenty of space to walk around, chat to fellow bloggers, meet the brands and have a look at some of their items and to listen to talks given by established bloggers, with tips on how to boost your blog. Unfortunately, I was too caught up visiting the brands to stop and listen which is a shame. It was a really enjoyable event and I had a great time discovering different brands and catching up with friends but the only downside for me was the 12pm start time. It takes me quite a bit of time to travel into central London now and if the event was slightly later I would’ve had time to grab some lunch beforehand. I ended up having to leave early as hunger called and my regular head pains are worse if I don’t eat properly. Here are some of the brands I spoke to at the event

 

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I remember Johnny Loves Rosie from when I was a teenager but I must say, they have really upped their game! I love the slogan clutch bags and gorgeous sparkly drop earrings that would be great for a night out or special occasion. They even have watches which are practically an essential.

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Skincare brand Exuviance exhibited at a previous event but I hadn’t tried any of their face products, only a body cream. After sharing my skin woes and kindly being given the Purifying cleansing gel and Skinrise bionic tonic exfoliating pads to try I felt hopeful that my skin would improve and after trying them at the weekend this was definitely the case. My skin looked so bright and clear and has never felt so clean! The products also have a really pleasant smell. I did break out in a couple of spots after 2 days but I imagine it’s bringing all the toxins and rubbish to the surface as face masks do so I definitely plan to stick with it.

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Chi Chi London make such pretty dresses that are perfect for weddings and other special occasions. It was so hard to choose a favourite from the rails of fairytale frocks on display but the plain pink, high necked sleeveless maxi dress just clinches it for me as it’s classic yet modern and so feminine.

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Rose is one of my favourite scents and it seems that Lola’s Apothecary agree as it features in quite a few of their products! I love a pamper and I’m very tempted to try their bath milk and beautifully scented candles and bath oils

I also spoke to a few other brands such as Trek America, sexy hair, Natural World and Lipivir and I’ll be featuring some of their products on either my blog or social media soon.

 

My new Favourite Shirt

Embroidery and gingham are two of my favourite trends for this Summer so when I saw a shirt that combined the two I had to snap it up! It cost around £30 from Zara, which have some lovely pieces at the moment. I only get to go there every so often now I don’t live close to a store but make sure I treat myself when I do.

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On this particular day I wore the shirt with leggings/ski trousers from River Island and ankle boots from Topshop but it would be great in the summer with denim shorts or over a slip dress or bikini. It would also work with jeans or leather look trousers which I’ve also worn it with on another occasion.

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I’m definitely on the lookout for more gingham and embroidered pieces to add to my summer wardrobe.

My Love/Hate Relationship with London

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love London so… Well, sometimes.

I was born in East London and lived there up until October last year, when I moved to Southend in Essex. I still go to London fairly often and love where I live but there are a few things I miss about London, other than the fact that my boyfriend and some of my friends and family live there. The biggest thing I’ve noticed with it being Winter is the darkness. London is always lit up and glows at night whereas once the sun goes down where I’m living now I’m surrounded by darkness. So much so that you can actually see the stars. That part is nice but walking home in pitch black isn’t the most fun!

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Other things I love about London along with the bright lights are the beautiful buildings, including many landmarks such as Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and Big Ben. There’s something special about the mix of old and new and the ever changing but still recognisable skyline. I also love the eclectic variety of fashion and the sense that you can be unique but still fit in. This brings me on to the shopping opportunities. London is a shopper’s paradise and I miss being able to jump on the train to Westfield in Stratford or the West End if I fancied going further afield. It now takes me an hour to just get to where I used to live and my local high street sadly isn’t a patch on what I’m used to. They don’t even have a Zara or a Lush! It’s a similar story with restaurants and I’ve been craving Wagamama for ages. It doesn’t help that I can’t drive so most places are an hour away by train.

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London may be great for visual stimulation, shopping, eating out and entertainment but not so much for space, rest, peace and quiet. As someone with anxiety I used to struggle with the noise when I was trying to sleep and the crowds practically wherever I went. My local station felt constantly like being part of the stampede scene in The Lion King and I’d feel really stressed every time I left the house. I also had lots of sleep issues putting up with less than considerate neighbours and outside noise. It seems that lots of people who live in certain parts of London want to spend their weekends partying all night when I need my sleep! It’s much quieter where I live now, although we do live near a pub and I don’t miss the noise, lack of sleep and anxious feelings at all.

Things have changed so much over the years and the London I grew up in no longer exists but at least I still have the memories and can make new ones in my new home. You also get more for your money the further out of London you go. Personally, when I eventually can afford to move out, my budget won’t stretch anywhere near towards getting what I want in London so I will more than likely stay in the Essex area. The sunsets also seem prettier here. I do like skyscrapers silhouetted against the sunset but the sun setting over the sea just pips it to the post.

 

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I do visit London often for blog events or to see my boyfriend or friends but I get to go home to a nice, mostly peaceful place so I feel like I have the best of both worlds, even if those Wagamama cravings get too much at times. I get my Zara fix at least once a month when I go and see my boyfriend, who lives not too far from Canary Wharf. My Lush addiction may be suffering but at least I’m saving money. I’m also walking to more places and getting plenty of fresh air. I’m looking forward to summer by the sea but a little part of my heart will always live in London.

The Blogosphere Magazine Tea Party

I actually attended this Valentine’s Blogosphere event over two weeks ago but life has been pretty manic so I haven’t had the chance to post about it until now. It was my first Blogosphere Magazine event but I’ve read the magazine a few times and thought it would be a great place to meet likeminded people along with interesting brands and to catch up with some of my blogging pals. The event was held at the Tropical Library in the Luminaire building in South London and even though I’ve been there once before I still managed to get lost and had to spend my last few pounds on a taxi in the end. Once I arrived I was greeted by a really friendly young lady and a sea of tasty cupcakes so all was soon forgotten!

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As you can see the decor was pretty Instagram worthy and was a great setting for chatting to other bloggers and brands, some of which are featured below

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I’m a sucker for make-up, especially bright colours so I was instantly drawn to the Glo & Ray stand. Their hot pink lipstick is amazing and looked so pigmented from the swatches I made. I definitely want to try more of their products and am planning a review of the lipstick and eyeliner I received in my goodie bag

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Samaya Skincare are a natural skincare brand whose products are designed to achieve the perfect balance. Interestingly, they have 3 different ranges designed for different ‘Doshas’ or personality types. When I took the test on their website my result was mostly Vata which seemed appropriate as it was my favourite scent out of the 3

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I’ve always suffered with dry, sore lips and anything that helps relieve them gets a big thumbs up from me. Dr Lipp Nipple Balm for Lips is definitely improving my flaky lip situation at this harsh time of year and I love the smooth texture. There is also no unpleasant taste and it’s perfect to pop on under some lipstick too. It’s also multipurpose so great for other dry skin areas.

Overall, I had a great day (despite my head pains being pretty bad recently but that’s another story) and would definitely attend another Blogosphere event in future. Also, now I’m in full time work it may be time to treat myself to a subscription to the magazine