30 December 2016

Life & Blogging Goals of 2016: In Review

Another year is on the horizon, and it’s hard not to use the old ‘where has the year gone’ cliches.  This year is one that has been notorious for it’s cruelty, with social media bursting with ‘worst year ever’ memes.  However, has it really been so bad?  On a personal level, it’s time to take stock and celebrate all the little achievements this year. Personally I moved to London and got a flat with my boyfriend, two big things that have changed my life for the better, but how did I do with my other goals? Let's take a look:

Make Friends- This was a big one for me as I was moving to London and starting again, and if I’m honest I don’t think I did a great job.  Yelp was a huge help for me at the start of the year, but now it’s disbanded I’m feeling alone again, and a lot of the friends I had made haven't kept in touch.  Hopefully if I work on it I can gain some close friends this year.

Work Hard- I have but as always I could do better 2017.  Both in my personal and work life. Learning to code is a big one for me to help with my day job.

Make the Most Out of Being in London- I honestly feel like I really did this for most of the year, then around September I got a bit lax.  I think this was partially due to me saving money for the traveling I did at the end of the year, and partially because I just got out of the loop. In fact I have a new vlogging series starting based on seeing more of London, more on this soon!

Be healthier- This started off well but realistically, it’s failed. I feel more unhealthy then ever and I’ve put a lot of weight on.  This NEEDS to change in the new year!

See more live Music/ Theatre- Theatre wise this has probably been my biggest success. I’ve seen loads this year, at least two shows a month and a fair few gigs too!  Money permitting I’d like to see more gigs in the new year.

Blog Goals:
Live Outside my Blog- This is hard to quantify but I think on the whole this came true this year.  Finding a work/life balance isn't easy and I think working with companies less and concentrating more on what I want to write has helped cut out some of the stress so I can enjoy life.  However, not working is something I still really struggle with, so I need to learn to just let myself relax.

Give my Blog a Makeover- This has been done although it' not finished, it will probably always be a work in progress.

Improve my Instagram Photography- I don’t even know what my Instagram follower number was last year as it was so bad I never recorded it. I think I have improved my images this year and it’s really helped push my Instagram on.  I can still improve as always but it’s great to be able to actually see a change.  I said if I passed 1000 followers I’d be happy, and I’m currently at 1381 so a success!

Be More Social on Social Media- Well I still never find the time to join in official chats but I do enjoy just talking on social media more then ever, especially twitter. I love the community there!  I stated that if I managed to hit 2500 I’d be really happy and I’m currently at 3257 so I’m over the moon really! However, it’s about people not numbers, and that's why I enjoy using twitter so much.

Carry on Blogging and Have fun with it!- I have and I do!  Changing my focus slightly and realising what about blogging I enjoy has really helped towards this, and it will be an ongoing challenge.  

So there you have it, a mixed year but that’s life!  What are you most proud of for achieving this year?

28 December 2016

New Look Pizza Express, Clapham

Pizza Express is a high street staple, bringing their take on traditional Italian pizza to the British Isles.  Recently the Clapham branch had a bit of a re-vamp, so I was invited down to take a look.
The restaurant itself looks refreshed, with a relaxed, family style.  The decor is what I would call ‘classy hipster’, with exposed brickwork and halogen bulbs giving a warm and inviting glow to the restaurant, however not so great for photos as you will see!  The back of the restaurant had a different feel, with darker decor and bright, white lighting.
Onto the food. I started off with the Dough Balls Doppio, a twist on what I would guess must be one of Pizza Express’s most popular dishes. These dough balls come with pesto and pestorissa as well as the regular garlic butter.  The dough balls are hot and plentiful, but unfortunately a little soggy on the bottom.  The pestorissa was tangy and the Pesto was pretty delicious and you can never go wrong with dipping these bad boys right into garlic butter!  My other half had the Classic Italian Antipasto for one and again, the portion was plentiful and the ingredients were fresh.
I couldn’t resist getting a pizza, and my love of spicy food drew me straight towards the American Hot, Romana style.  It was a little too oily for me, especially for a thin Italian style pizza, but the base was really good and it was impressive to see the chiefs hand-making and shaping the dough in the kitchen.  Harry went for the calzone and unfortunately he did not have such a good experience.  The filling was sparse and soggy with barely any sauce to give it flavour, I don’t think he would order it again in a hurry.
Onto desserts, always a favourite of mine, and I think these were the star of the meal.  I went for a Christmas special of Jaffa Profiteroles.  They were lovely light and sweet but could have had a much stronger orange flavour.  Harry went for the Honeycomb Creme Slice which was delicious, light and smooth, with a good crunch and flavour balance.  We will definitely be back for this one!

Another thing worth noting was the staff, some members were friendly and helpful but others unfortunately were not.  Although nice, some seemed a bit clueless about the basic runnings of the restaurant, and I was shocked to see the chiefs behaving unprofessionally, throwing paper towels across the restaurant and generally trying to wind up the other staff members.  I’m all up for people having fun at work but it seems an odd choice if you have an open plan kitchen.  

Have you been to a Pizza Express recently?  

21 December 2016

A Touch of the Sliver Screen with Lindy Bop

Is there any better reason to get your glam on then New Years Eve?  The whole winter season is full of glamour and glitz and New Year's Eve is the accumulation of this!  It’s the night where, if you wish, you can get dolled up to the nines and strut your stuff. But you don’t have to break your budget to do it.  Lindy Bop has recently released the Silver Screen collection to bring an element of 1920’s inspired, timeless class to your home, without costing a fortune.  Here’s my pick from the collection:
This Anastasia soft grey dress is stunning in its details.  The floor length gown drops straight down from the waist, creating a dramatic look  The sheer mesh outer layer covers a silver/grey inner layer to add movement. The real star here is in the embellished bodies.  The sequins and beads adorning this 1920’s inspired design are both of a really high quality, and physically beautiful to look at.  The added beading around the waist sets the whole dress off and is very flattering to the wearer.  
The beaded trim detail extends to the back of this piece and the sleeves, so no detail is left out. The key hole front and peek-a-boo back add further stylistic elements, however unfortunately because of my short body these do not quite sit right on me, and instead gape. An issue for my fellow short bodied friends as with the amount of detail in this dress it may be difficult to adjust.  It also definitely trails on the ground for me at 5 foot 2, so heels were a must.  
The sleeves are another thing I love about this dress as they are very flattering if you have larger arms like me, and the way they drape makes me feel a million dollars. It’s a small part of the dress that makes a real difference.  This sheer mesh also extends to the back of the dress, giving an elegant yet sexy look.  
The true Silver Screen days may be long past, but with this new Lindy Bop collection maybe we can go some way to making us feel like we still live in these glamour days. What do you think of their new collection?
Dress sent for review, all words and opinions honest and my own

19 December 2016

Be #HyggeHappy with this Hygge Kit Giveaway

Hygge is taking the blogging world by storm right now, and with its ethos of cosiness, togetherness and simplicity it's easy to see why.  Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word for the feeling or mood that comes from taking pleasure out of the ordinary.  A lot of people have narrowed it down simply to the idea of cosiness, and while that can be part of hygge, it isn't that simple.  Hygge can be any small thing that you enjoy just for its own sake.  For me it can be binge-watching Netflix with my Boyfriend, taking time to stop and just listen to music, or climbing into a clean bed with clean PJs after a shower.  All these things are simple pleasures that make me happy.

A lot of the time in life it can be hard to give ourselves time to appreciate these moments, and it is important.  Why not make it a new years resolution to switch off the electronics once a day and just enjoy something really small.  A chat with your partner, a candlelit dinner without your phone, or reading a book under a blanket before bed.  I know it's something I should do more of, maybe 2017 could be the year of hygge!  Where we appreciate the moments, and the people we are with.

To help myself, and you, live a more hygge lifestyle the sleep specialists and bed retailer Bed Guru have written a guide to living a hygge lifestyle.  They have also put together a kit full of things to help transform your bedroom and appreciate these little moments.  Here is what it includes:
A soft, snuggly blanket
There are few things better than cuddling with a blanket, especially on a cold day, watching the rain fall out of the window.

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness book by Marie Tourell Soderberg
Marie is a danish actress who grew up with the concept of hygge.  In this beautiful book she shares her thoughts and tips on how to live a more hygge lifestyle.

Heart shaped fairy lights
It's amazing how something as simple as fairy lights can transform a room and make it feel more magical and relaxing.

A Yanke Candle gift set
Candles are synonymous with hygge and I can see why, I love lighting a candle with dinner, or just when I'm watching a film or reading.  The warm light and beautiful scents are instantly relaxing

A box of Thornton's chocolates.
The perfect way to complete the cosy affair.

To enter and win your own Hygge kit identical to this one, simply follow the instructions on the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

16 December 2016

Vintage Inspired frames (and 50% off Discount Code!)

Glasses have become increasingly fashionable over the last few years, and now that you can get them online, it’s often cheaper too.  In fact, for probably the last 5 years or so, since I started wearing my glasses more regularly, I have only ever got my eyeglasses online.

This is how it normally goes; I go to the high street for an eye test (I usually go to a local place rather than a big company as it’s only around £5), I then take my prescription and hunt online for the style I like.  The truth is it's so much cheaper online and the options seem almost endless, so when GlassesShop.com contacted me to see if I wanted to grab a new pair from their site, I had plenty of options to choose from.  They sell a whole range of prescription sunglasses and glasses in many styles, choosing which pair was difficult!  If you struggle with the amount of choice too, the website allows you to upload a picture of yourself and it will place the glasses on your photo to give you an idea of whether they will suit you. There’s even a live chat function if you have any questions while you are browsing.

Now I already have another pair of vintage style glasses that I use for work you might recognise from my Yelp 50's party post, so this time I wanted a larger pair for when I’m at home. If I'm wearing my glasses at home it's normally because I'm working on my blog or playing PlayStation. so I wanted something larger and comfortable, but I still wanted to keep the vintage feel.
After much debate I chose these Clifford Wayfarer glasses. At $49.95 they were a real steal, and I love the large frames and tortoiseshell colouring. They remind me of the style you see parents wearing in the 50’s.  

Once you've chosen your style, just fill in your prescription and you are away, they will deliver them right to your door!  If you want to get your own pair of glasses I have a special code just for you guys!  Just enter GSHOT50 on the site for an incredible 50% off and free lenses on both glasses and sunglasses (sale frames excluded).

Where do you get your glasses from?

14 December 2016

Vlog: Christmas Decorations Haul 2016

You might have noticed I've been giving vlogging a go of late.  In my second ever vlog, I share with you some of the Christmas decorations I've picked up this year, and predictably a lot of it is Disney related!  I've got items from Disneyworld, Times Square and the high street!


12 December 2016

Disneyland Paris Rogue One Cinema Tickets Giveaway with AttractionTix

I wasn't joking when I said it's the season of giveaways, was I?

My Boyfriend and myself are both HUGE Star Wars fans, so we've been following the Season of the Force announcements pretty closely. If you haven't already heard, Season of the Force is an event running at Disneyland Paris between 14th of January and the 26th of March 2017.  It includes a whole host of new entertainment including two new shows, Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration and Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away.  As if that wasn't enough there is also the First Order March and Storm Trooper patrol, which join the already popular Jedi Training Academy to create a pleather of fun for any Star Wars fan! I saw some these in Disney World Florida this year and they were incredible, the music and special effects were mind-blowing, so I'm sure the Disneyland versions will be just as good!

If you want to go see them for yourself, you can jump onto AtractionTix and grab your tickets ready to go! To help promote this new event, Attractiontix have given me two Rogue One cinema tickets to give away!  I've already got my midnight release tickets ready to go and now you too will get to see the new film. First, here are a few T&C's:

The cinema tickets expire on December 31st 2016, so they must be used before then.
The tickets can be used to view a standard 2D film showing at any ODEON cinema in the UK and Republic of Ireland EXCEPT the following cinemas: Leicester Square, The Lounge at Whiteleys, BFI IMAX.

To enter just follow the Rafflecopter below, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

8 December 2016

Moments: November 2016

Gosh is it really that time of year already!  I know it’s a cliche but my god does this year seem to have gone fast, so much has happened!  I’ve enjoyed having this monthly diary to share with you guys and remind myself of what I’ve been up to every month.  However, I feel like it needs a shake up in the new year.  If anyone has any ideas on how to do that I’d love to hear them!  Here's to November:

I’ve Visited

New York!
I booked this in March as a gift for Harry’s 30th birthday so we’ve had a long build up!  Much like I said with Florida, there is simply too much to sum up easily here so expect many posts over the next year with reviews, tips and sights.  We did all the usual touristy stuff and got to spend Thanksgiving there too, it’s a wonderful city!
The Natural History Museum
The Kensington area of London contains a lot of world class museums that also happen to be free.  Because of this, it seems to be my go-to place to visit with friends from out of London when we just want somewhere to hang out.  The Natural History Museum is a favourite of mine, it’s my third time seeing the dino’s this year. it also was the first place in London I saw with its Icerink set up for Christmas.
The Science Museum
The science museum is one of the other museums in this same area, so I also came here with a friend this month. The museum is ok but it's not one of my favourites.  
Harry’s Nan lives here in this beautiful part of the country.  It’s only my second time visiting but it’s beautiful here, I’d love to get out and explore the area more next time if the weather is good.  

I’ve Read

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
This is a booked I picked up from work and read at the start of the month.  A children’s book but the mysterious world and characters make it suitable for adults too.  I really enjoyed the cold harsh environment and the connection with the animals that seems almost magical.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
A book I chose purely because of the cover while knowing nothing about it, luckily I really enjoyed it.  The book is essentially that of a middle-aged man going through a breakup and a midlife crisis.  The lead character is so lovable, relatable and enjoyable to read you can’t help but root for him. A really joy to read.
Top 10 New York City 2016
As I was heading over to NYC this month we of course got chance to finish this book.  As an overview this could not be better!  It gave us such a good starting point of places to visit based on area and interests, I’d really recommend it to anyone starting to plan an NYC getaway.
Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
Well, what to say about this.  It is a controversial book to say the least, and it was one that was recommended to me by a friend several years ago.  I am pretty open minded when it comes to mine and other's bodies, but this actually made me feel sick!  It’s shocking and crazy and I want everyone to read it just so I can talk to someone about it.

I’ve seen

Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre
This classical musical I saw for the first time on Netflix this year.  It is one of those examples where you don’t think you know the songs until you watch it and realise there are so many classics in there!  Seeing it live was plenty of fun, the lead has so much energy it was unreal!  A great, light-hearted show.
Fireworks at Alexandra Palace for bonfire night and Day of the Dead parade
Bonfire night is one of my favourite nights of the year, it reminds me of cosiness, bonfire toffee, hanging with friends and family and it means Christmas is just around the corner.  This year not only was I in London for the first time, but I had my parents and a few friends over, so we all headed to Alexandra Palace to see the fireworks.  It was busy, but the fireworks were beautiful, and the added Day of the Dead parade added a great atmosphere to the night.
Trainspotting at The Vaults
If you have seen my Trainspotting post or vlog you will have seen my thoughts on this one. A wild, fun show!
Dave’s band
My friend Dave’s band played at a pub in London, I had a good time checking them out and the other bands on.  I need to see more live music.
Putting Words in Your Mouth, Roundhouse
This performance has changed my life.  I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  It’s a recording of three gay men who are members of UKIP, talking about their lives and what lead them to their beliefs, being mimed by three male actors of colour.  It isn’t what you think it will be by this description either.  It opened up thoughts about the world and myself that I never knew existed, it kind of tore me apart to be honest.  

I’ve been up to

Hanging with friends
I’m feeling sort of lonely and friendless down here at the moment, so it’s kind of strange to think I have actually hung out with quite a few of my northern friends who’ve been nice enough to come and visit me this month.
Showing my parents around Balham
They finally came to see my flat and my little area of London.
Hanging with Harry’s family
A few times this month we’ve had the opportunity to see each other and hang out which has been really nice.
Decorating for Halloween
Trick or treaters did not come to my third floor flat, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the night!  I loved having the flat decorated for Halloween, it felt so cosy!
Youtube channel re-launch
A long, long time ago before I blogged tried booktubing.  I failed, however recently I’ve decided to give it another shot!  I’ve reopened my channel, my first video is live, and I have a few more just waiting to be edited!

I’ve eaten

This is one of the things I really wanted to try in NYC and a quick look on Yelp made me find a really high rated place really close to our hotel, and OMG it was so good!  A whole post on NYC food will be coming up!
Thanksgiving dinner
My first and possibly only Thanksgiving dinner, right in NYC.  It was a bit of a poshed up version but it was seriously tasty, I’d happily have what basically seems like a second Christmas dinner every year.
Meat liquor
You guys know my addiction with this place by now so when my friends came to visit I had to take them here.
Magnolia bakery
A New York staple!  I went for the key lime pie cheesecake over the usual banana pudding though, and boy was it good.
NYC Diner

I went to a NYC diner one morning and had a stack of pancakes with bacon and syrup, delicious!

So there you have it, on to December and Christmas!

6 December 2016

Tis the Season to Do Battle: A Day Out Paintballing in London

Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, endless shopping streets — London has it all. But why not spend your time doing something a bit more unique?

For many people, a day out in the UK’s capital will consist of exploring the many different sights there are to see and spending some well-earned cash in the variety of shops. While this type of day is very popular, others may want to opt for some out-of-the-box thinking and spend their time doing something more exciting…  

...And it doesn’t get much more exciting than an adrenaline-fuelled day of paintballing in London.

Never Been Paintballing Before? Not to Worry

If you’ve never tried paintballing before, you’re bound to be a little bit nervous before you step out onto the battlefield. You’ll take your baby steps, fire a few shots at a nearby tree for some practice, and soon you’ll get to grips with how paintball works.

After your initial burst of child-like adrenaline and nerves have worn off, you’ll soon realise that you don’t have to be a fully-fledged veteran to enjoy a game of paintball. Sure, you’re bound to feel the inevitable sting of a paintball at some point, but this simply gives you all the more reason to go into stealth mode.

One of the most engaging things about paintball is that you can play the sport in whatever style suits you best. If you prefer an all-out attack approach, go ahead. Want to sit back a snipe from a distance? Find a nice spot and cause havoc from afar. Or you can adopt the ‘spray and pray’ approach; by firing so many shots you’re bound to hit something, right?

A Change of Pace

It’s safe to say that paintball offers you an entirely different experience to that of most other activities and sports. And not just because you’ll be wielding a paintball gun with the intention of shooting your closest chums.

Paintballing is also an excellent way to blow off some steam, putting you in an environment and scenarios where you can just enjoy yourself and let loose. Forget about work or any of life's stresses and embrace your inner commando!

Rally the Troops

While there’s always the option to go lone wolf and join in with a bunch of strangers, getting a group of family and friends will always be more entertaining. You can even invite younger siblings or relatives to take part, as paintball companies cater for all ages with the use of low-power paintball guns.

Another brilliant idea is to convince your employer to have paintballing as this year’s Christmas do. Not only does this give you and your colleagues a chance to bond, but it provides you with the perfect (and rare) opportunity to hunt down your boss with a paintball gun. All that overtime will seem so, so worth it for that.

Burn Off Those Christmas Calories

The festive season is upon us! At this time of year, everyone is guilty of overindulging, whether it’s one (or ten) too many mince pies or those extra glasses of mulled wine you couldn’t resist.

Anyone who has experienced it will be able to tell you that paintballing is quite the workout — a full body workout, in fact. Running, jumping, climbing, the irresistible urge to throw in a forward roll, and carrying around a weighty gun all day will all take its toll.

Luckily, the adrenaline of doing so will leave you unaware of how active you’re actually being. While you’re busy trying to win games and avoid being shot, you’ll be well on your way to burning off those Christmas calories.

A day of paintballing probably wasn’t on your to-do list this Christmas, but it definitely should be. While most people will be settling into their annual routine, you’ll be throwing an awesome spanner in the works by organising a day of paintballing in London this Christmas.

This is a sponsored post

5 December 2016

Jaguar Pace Fragrance Giveaway: Three Chances to Win!

Two giveaways in a row?  It must be Christmas!  This time I have teamed up with the wonderful guys at M&S to give you not one, not two, but three chances to win a bottle of the stylish Jaguar Pace fragrance, just in time to put it under the tree.

Now I don't know about you but I really struggle to shop for men.  Most of the men in my life are nerdy, so that makes things easier as at least we have something in common, but if not?  Well I'm totally stuck!  My dad is a prime example of this, every year I struggle to come up with ideas.

Now like quite a lot of men I know, my dad loves fast cars.  This new Jaguar Pace fragrance is based on the new Jaguar F-Pace, and the imposing design has been passed onto the style of the bottle.  The vibrant grey and blue glass bottle has a similar bold silhouette to that of the new car and is complimented by the blue-tinted perfume. The compact base is covered with a sophisticated lattice design reminiscent of the famous Jaguar radiator grill. The centre of the bottle is emblazoned with a shiny round silver insignia with the unmistakable brand sign of the legendary cat.

Sent wise, we have a stimulating trio of strong black pepper, fresh green apples and rosemary.  Great for a man who wants to make a mark!  If you want to pick up a bottle, just head over to http://www.marksandspencer.com/ where you can grab a 60ml bottle for £28, or a 100ml bottle for £44.  Alternatively if you want a chance to win a bottle, simply enter via the Rafflecoppter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!


1 December 2016

Vintage Cosmetics Beauty Giveaway

Christmas is almost upon us and it will soon be a New Year, so in this season of new beginnings and giving, it feels appropriate to host a giveaway.

Vintage Cosmetics are one of my favourite beauty companies, I love their style. let's face it, their it's totally on my wavelength!  I love the florals and polka dots, it really appeals to my love of vintage.  So when they reached out to see if I wanted to work with them it had to be a yes!  They’ve sent me a couple of products, and rather than keep them all for myself (although this is tempting) I’ve decided to pass them on to you. So there’s something to look forward to in the New Year!

The giveaway consists of two products:

Smokey Eye Makeup Brush Set (worth £16.50) *link*
This three-brush set contains everything you need to master your smokey eye looks.  Including the shadow brush, angled shadow brush and the smudger brush.

Luxury Beauty Cracker (worth £9.95) *link*

Forget your paper hats and bad jokes, this is a Christmas cracker with a difference!  It’s stuffed with beauty essentials, including full-size tweezers, duo pencil sharpener, emery board and more!

To enter and give a boost to your post-Christmas blues, simply follow the instructions in the Raffecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!
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