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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Let's eat! Brunch at Grain Store, Kings Cross

I have been working in London quite a while now so I have been doing my best to try and explore it whenever I get the chance. I've been so pleased with how many places I've been to, and the memories I've made, but the one thing I've realised is that no matter how often I go out for food, there will always be somewhere else on my wish list. It's really nice because I often go somewhere after it's been recommended to me, and I've found that this means that i'm pretty much guaranteed to go to somewhere good. So to continue the recommendation thread, I've decided to create a new series on my blog called Let's eat! It would be so amazing if I shared information about a great place I've been to and then I get feedback from someone else saying how much they also loved it too. After all, that's what is so fantastic about the blogging community! 
To kick off the series, I thought i'd tell you a little bit about Grain Store, King's Cross. Based in an old warehouse, this restaurant has been imaginatively transformed into a modern, yet industrial space with eclectic designs and natural lighting. When you walk into Grain Store you feel an instant buzz in the air because of the big open space, busy staff and tables filled with chattering diners. The open kitchen also makes you feel a little like you're involved in the whole dining experience as you can hear the sounds of pots and pans moving around in the kitchen over the top of the soft jazz style music coming from the speakers. It has a very relaxed and friendly vibe and the waiter we had made us feel very welcome, despite the obvious madness from how many people they had in that day. Amazing how often this doesn't happen!
I went for lunch with three of my friends as a belated birthday treat, and it definitely was that. Although some of the dishes were a little above my normal brunch price range, the dishes were inventive and filling. One of the things I really liked about their menu was that it was especially accommodating for vegans and vegetarians. Although I am neither of those things, I always like to see a good selection on offer in case I want to avoid meats. On this day I went for a crushed avocado on toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, with dukkah and basil oil, and i'm pleased to say that it tasted light and fresh. This is very unusual as my normal go-to brunch dishes often make me feel like I need a nap afterwards as I'm so full up. It isn't surprising that the dish was so light though because everything that passed us by was filled with colourful wholesome foods, so it's evident that chef Bruno Loubet sees seasonal vegetables and healthier options as a crucial element to a good meal. Safe to say, we had a lot of happy bloggers round the table.
If you're looking for a place to go for a chilled drink, brunch or dinner (the menu looked yummy for that too), then i'd recommend Grain Store, King's Cross. It is definitely one of those places you would have to plan a trip to as it does get very busy, but if you want a catch up with a special friend, or family member then I would suggest you head over and check it out. If you want to find out about more of the delicious places I've visited then keep an eye on my blog as I continue the Let's eat! series. Lots more to come soon!
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

365 Pages

I hate to be one of those annoying people, but...hasn't the last year flown by? It's scary to think how much has changed in 365 days since the last time we celebrated the New Year, but I'm sure a lot of people will agree with me when I say that I am very glad to see the back of 2016! As much as it terrifies me how quickly time has passed me by I realise how important it is to put a line under certain aspects of 2016 and really try my hardest to relish the opportunities that come my way in 2017. I know it is a lot easier said than done, but with a bit of positive thinking, I am sure I can achieve it. After all, who knows what will happen?
Albeit controversial, in recent years I have begun to not believe in the concept of New Year's Resolutions. I know that sounds really grumpy, but I hope that with a little explaining, you will begin to understand my reasoning. I am fully supportive of people looking at a New Year as an opportunity to analyse their wrong doings or failures from a previous year in order to learn how to prevent themselves from making the same mistakes in the future. However, I'm really not a fan of people looking at a New Year as a way of escaping from certain decisions or behaviours that they are ashamed of...or worse, using a New Year as an excuse to not make positive changes in their life sooner. Every year we set these resolutions with the idea that we want to become better human beings, but I will never understand why this has to have a specific starting point. Yes...mentally, a New Year can seem like a good time to start a different approach to life...but at the same time, I believe that you should want to make positive changes to your life every day of the year, rather than just from the 1st of January each year.
Unsurprisingly I don't have any proper New Year's resolutions this year, and instead I am setting myself an ongoing challenge to improve as a person 365 days of every year in my work, social life, relationships and family situations, and also mentally. As cheesy as it sounds, every day is a new opportunity, and you don't need the calendar to roll over into a New Year to tell you when you can make positive differences in your life. I've seen so many incredible people around me make big decisions over the last year, some have succeeded and some have failed...but the best thing about all of that is that they have tried. I am humbled that I get to share my life with so many motivational individuals on a daily basis who clearly don't realise how wonderful they are. So why don't we all follow in the footsteps of the people who inspire us most and become better individuals for every page of our ongoing book called life. 
Outfit: Dress - Primark, Sleeveless Jacket - Newlook, Boots - Primark, Necklace - Walmart
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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Exploring your own city

As I am new to London, everything seems to be so shiny and exciting to me. Moving to a new city can be incredibly terrifying to some people, and I totally understand that, but recently I have noticed that I have a new found confidence in myself that has only come along since moving to London. I am experiencing so many new things, and my sense of curiosity is definitely growing on a daily basis. I am so grateful to my lovely friends because I am learning so much about the best bars, best restaurants, best shops...the list goes on. I have always believed that you should give other peoples' recommendations a go, and I am pleased to say that I have not been let down so far. London is such a ginormous place so I know full well that I will constantly be discovering a different gem on every corner for as long as I live here! 
'Real Londoners' apparently don't travel to certain parts of the city very often because they think they are too touristy (Oxford Street is a perfect example of this) but as everywhere is exciting to me, I get a weird thrill from the hustle and bustle of the busy areas of the city. I'm sure I will begin to hate the slow walkers, selfie takers, luggage holders etc in no time, but for now, I am going to relish in the madness of this new, wonderful city I am living in. It's very easy to move somewhere new and then only learn about the places near to where you live or work...after all, this is where you spend the majority of your time. However, if you change your mentality a little, then life can become so much more interesting, and you will experience things you wouldn't have otherwise. One of the best things my parents taught me about their younger lives in London was - 'Everywhere in London takes an hour'. If you take on this attitude, then you find that you aren't so lazy and you haven't got that little voice in your head preventing you from trying new things purely because of the time it takes to get from A to B. With this new attitude, I have found that I have a huge list of things I want to experience in London, and hopefully I will be able to share some of those moments with you on my blog over the many years that I'm sure I'll be living here. 
A couple of weekends ago I ticked off one of the items on my list - The Sky Garden. Although it hasn't been around for a huge amount of time, I had heard such incredible things about it and knew that it would be worth the hype. So many people I know have said that it they thought it would be really touristy, but I was so surprised at how enjoyable and relaxing it was! To go along to the Sky Garden you need to book tickets, and although they are free, they can be a bugger to get as you can only book three weeks beforehand - and as you can imagine, the tickets go very quickly! We went along on a busy Saturday lunch time, but it wasn't overcrowded or loud - instead they let in the perfect amount of people and we were able to walk around leisurely, grab a drink at the bar, sit and enjoy the greenery surrounding us, and walk round the four sides to look at the gorgeous views outside. On a clear day you can see for miles, and even with my little knowledge of London, I was still very impressed. After a busy week at work, I was so looking forward to my Sky Garden visit, and I left feeling really happy and relaxed at the experience I'd had for an past hour. Whatever city you live in, there will always be more things that you can explore - so get out there and make the most of it!
Outfit: Sleeveless Jacket - Newlook, Shirt - Market, Leggings - Primark, Shoes - Market
To check out what I got up to during my day out in London visiting the Sky Garden, take a look at my vlog on my YouTube channel...
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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Clashing Time: What I've learnt from my blogging friends

I have always been a big believer that you should never been ashamed to ask for help. If you are fortunate enough to have people around you with more knowledge and experience than you, then don't be a fool - make the most of that! When bloggers come on to the scene I think they feel immense pressure to know everything all of a sudden...photography, content creation, scheduling, the lot. That is completely unrealistic! I still don't know everything after over 7 years of blogging, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
A couple of months ago my beautiful friend Kat from Laydey Katabella organised the #InstaPrettyParty for a few of the lovely Camb Meet Up bloggers. We went to Wild Frost Cafe in Ramsey and spent the afternoon chatting, drinking tea, eating cake, and most importantly - taking pictures. Kat had set up some tables with everything you could need for an instagram photoshoot. There were decorative backgrounds, fake flowers, straws, printed information sheets and a whole lot more. We spoke for about 10 minutes about how she uses these items to take her own instagram pictures and then taught us about angles, lighting and colour schemes. Not everyone takes pictures in the same way, but it is so interesting to learn how and why other bloggers create their instagram feed.
I don't think that you need to attend a mini bloggers event to learn about how bloggers organise their Instagram feed, but instead simply just ask! I have had such a great response from bloggers over the years and I don't intend on stopping any time soon. If you are especially impressed by the way an Instragram picture has been edited, or are interested in a certain item in a picture..just go ahead and ask them about it! It is such a compliment to be asked questions about your work, so bite the bullet and give it a go. You may not always get an answer, but more often than not, you will hear something. Twitter is fantastic for all kinds of networking, but I have found it most useful for asking questions. All bloggers had to start somewhere, they didn't just start as perfect as they are now - remember that! I have been fortunate enough to learn so much from my blogger friends over the years, so I'm here to tell you a few of the key things you should know.
Create long term goals
Although I don't have it specially written down in a notebook, I have my long term goals locked away in my brain. I, unlike many people, simply have the long term goal to continue enjoying doing my blog. Some people want to make money from it, some want to make friends through it, but mine really is to just not lose the thrill of doing it. Obviously it is absolutely fine to not have long term goals, but I think it helps to guide you whilst you're on your blogging journey.

Have some form of content plan
As I haven't been posting very much recently you would think that I don't have a content plan - believe it or not, I do! My only difference is that unless there is a specific deadline for the post to be written, then I don't put dates by it. I have a notebook with the posts I need to do in chronological order and I try to stick to this as much as possible. With so much content out there, it isn't easy to ensure that you're posting about all that you want to, so by having a content plan means that you can get your head around what you want to upload. 

Try and only post good photographs
Now this sounds pretty obvious, but when you look through your images and you don't have that many good ones then you are stuck with a predicament. Do you shoot them all again, or do you post fewer images? I will always say the latter. I love a blog post with lots of images, but if you aren't proud of all of them, then don't post them. You should only be putting out content that you feel happy for people to look at.
Buy your own domain name
As much as this wasn't a big deal back in 2009 (in fact it was quite a popular thing to have .blogspot.com in your blog URL), in order to look professional in 2016 it is really important to get your own domain name. Even if you don't think your blog is going to be anything big, if you want to work with brands then it does add an element of respectability to have a .co.uk or .com URL. I have had lots of problems over the years with domain name purchases, but if you either google it, or know someone with some form of web skills then you can get a domain name bought and synced to your blog in no time!

A good mobile site layout
If you are just starting out then the layouts that come free with a blogger or wordpress account are fantastic. There seems to be quite a bit of flexibility with them nowadays which means you can change things about until you like it. One thing I have learnt is that when you start looking into analytical website data, then the amount of people coming to your site through their mobile (because they have clicked on a link through social media) is very high and it means that you MUST have a layout which displays well on a phone. I bought mine from pipdig for about £30 and I love it. It may seem like an annoying financial outgoing, but it makes a huge difference to how your content is displayed - and therefore affects whether visitors will come back. 
To finish off my post I thought I would detail a few other things that i've learnt from some of my amazing blogging pals. I don't think you need to follow all of these, but they sure have made a difference to me...
- Be honest - make sure you would say what you've written in a post to a person in real life 
- Get a camera you feel comfortable using - don't just buy what is the trendy camera at the time. If you can't use it properly then what is the point?
- Buy a spare camera battery - this has saved me so many times when i've realised that I haven't charged my battery in my camera enough, or have taken so many pictures that i've run it down completely. 
- Buy an external hard drive - blog pictures and videos are normally very big files, if you want your computer to run at a good speed then do not store all of this content on there. Grab an external hard drive and keep it all safe on there (and don't forget to back it all up).
- There is no such thing as too many memory cards - if you keep an extra one in your bag at all times then you never have to worry.
- A portable charger will change your life! For every day life, and for events, this will make life much less stressful.
To check out what happened at the #InstaPrettyParty watch my vlog on my YouTube channel below. Let me know what you think! CTx
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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Clashing Time tries Nivea Post Shave Balm as a primer

I think I have mentioned it on my blog before that I do not think of myself as a makeup pro. In fact, I am probably quite the opposite. I buy what I think looks good, then don’t divert away from the products unless someone recommends something, or I see something that everyone’s talking about. I am so awful that I actually only started wearing primer about 2 years ago. Can you believe it? It took me up until the grand age of 22 before I realised that primer was a good idea. Over the last two years I have tried quite a few different brands, everything from Rimmel and MaxFactor, through to MAC and Smashbox, and each time my experience is different.
Last year my friend told me that she had seen some articles online where bloggers had been raving about Nivea Post Shave Balm for men. Yes, you heard me right…for men. Apparently bloggers from all over the world were reviewing this moisturising balm as it was a much cheaper alternative to the higher priced high street branded primers. As you can buy this product for only a couple of pounds, I thought I would give it a go. If you didn’t know, primer has the purpose of creating a perfect base layer for your make up. It helps to smooth your skin and for me, it also helps to minimise the appearance of any dry skin under my makeup. Men’s shaving balm also has a similar purpose, as it aims to reduce sensitivity on your skin after shaving by creating a protective smooth layer. So surely it would work perfectly?

 My first impressions on my skin:


I wore the men’s shaving balm for a couple of days and was quite pleased with the results. When you put it on your face, it is sticky at first and then dries quite quickly when you blend it in with your fingers. My skin didn’t feel like it had a heavy layer of moisturiser on it, but instead felt like I didn’t really have anything on. You know that feeling when you touch your skin after a facemark and it feels all soft? Well this was a similar feeling. I completely understand why men use it as it must be nice to have a silky smooth face after your shave. The only thing I realised is that, as much as you don’t want to feel like your primer is an obvious layer underneath your makeup, you still want to feel like something is there absorbing it.The makeup test:
Once the balm had dried completely I went in with the makeup. Although I have recently changed my foundation (post to come soon) to something much lighter, when I tried this balm I was using the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer. This foundation provides great coverage and looks really lovely, but I found that my skin was feeling quite claustrophobic and I wanted to mix things up a bit. One of the main reasons for wearing primer is that it helps to keep your makeup on for longer, and I definitely notice a difference when wearing it. With the post shave balm I was quite pleasantly surprised as it did keep my makeup in place for quite a while, but I do have to admit that it wasn't as long as some of my other previously used brands. If I was only going out for a couple of hours then I think I would happily wear this as a primer. My issue is that I put my makeup on at 7:30am and then don't really retouch it until 6pm when I am going out after work. I need something that is a little more long lasting, but I wasn't expecting it to last all day as it was only a couple of pounds.Conclusion:
For not very much money this is definitely a great alternative to the high-street or higher end primer products that I have previously bought. Although it does keep your makeup in place for a good couple of hours, the lazy person in me would rather spend more money and ensure that I don't have to worry about my foundation rubbing off with the stresses of daily life. As it is 100ml you do get more in it than the normal primers; however, I did find that you had to use more of the product to cover my whole face. So even though you get more for your money, I think I would probably use it up just as quickly as I would a MAC 50ml prep and prime lotion. I wish someone had suggested this to me as a perfect introduction into makeup and beauty when I was younger! Have you tried the post shave balm as a primer? Let me know your thoughts! CTx
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