Baked Parmesan Zucchini Recipe

Pinterest recipes are notorious for looking absolutely amazing in theory but in practise can be another thing altogether; I think we've all seen those Pinterest fail posts where things haven't quite turned out how they should be so I thought it would be an idea to start a little 'Pinterest Tried and Tested' series on Girl Up North because I'm quite up for a bit of experimenting and I think it'd be quite fun.


The first thing I've tried is a recipe which I have actually adapted for those of you who are following the Slimming World plan, although I would imagine that it works just fine if you do it the exact way shown by Damn Delicious. The recipe looked fairly easy without any complicated ingredients so off I trotted to the supermarket.


- 2 Courgettes (the recipe says 4 but I knew it would make way too many)
- 30g grated parmesan
- 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsbp garlic salt/granules/powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fry Light

If you've clicked over to Damn Delicious you'll notice that I haven't included some of the stuff they did, this is purely because I decided I didn't need them as 2 herbs was quite enough to give it flavour especially because parmesan and garlic are both quite strong flavours themselves.



- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees

- Combine the parmesan, thyme, oregano, garlic granules and salt and pepper together in a bowl. 

- Cut the courgettes in half and then quarter them to make chunky chip sized pieces. I found I had to half some of the quarters again because they were a bit too chunky and I was worried they wouldn't cook through properly. Line a baking tray with tin foil and spray with fry light to stop them sticking and lay the courgette pieces out with as equal spacing as you can manage.

- Spray the courgette with Fry Light making sure that each one gets some kind of coating because that will give your parmesan mix something to stick to. 

- Sprinkle on the parmesan mixture as best you can (I found it was better just to dunk the ones which weren't catching much into the mix itself)

- Put in the middle of the oven to bake for 15 mins (or longer if you feel they need it). I checked half way through to see how they were doing and sprinkled the left over mix over them. 

- Once you are happy that they are cooked through, put them under the grill for 3 minutes to brown them off.

And there you go, baked parmesan zucchini!


Were they nice? Hell yes!

I ate a plateful of these as a 'small snack' because they were just too good not to finish off while they were hot. These are a great way of getting a veg onto your place without it being boring and bland and I was really surprised at how well they worked. They were tender but crispy when you had your first bite - basically everything I was expecting and more! I'll definitely make these again in the very near future and I can 100% say that these really are as good as they look on Pinterest!

Slimming World Information: 
If using the 30g parmesan as your healthy extra A choice these would be totally free and they count as one of your S foods! If you don't want to count it as your healthy A then it would be 6 syns for the whole lot (or obviously if you were sharing it in half would only be 3... you get my drift).

Being Yourself Online

I saw an article the other day about a bloke who had made up an elaborate lie through various social media channels about his life; he claimed to be this high flying, champagne drinking, ladies man when really he was still living at home with his parents with a very normal job making fake deals with actual business men and living totally out of his means. It got me thinking. The internet must be absolutely ram jam full of people lying, not to the extent of that guy but just being a little bit false to please the masses. I know I personally tone down a lot of my swearing and I've learnt to keep quite a big chunk of my feelings and opinions to myself because I just sometimes cannot be bothered with the backlash it can cause... but keeping it in really does frustrate me sometimes and it makes me wonder whether I just mix in the wrong Twitter circles?!


We all know that negativity is not good, and nobody wants to read the tweets of a serial moaner because negativity tends to breed negativity, but surely nobody can be happy ALL of the time! I'm a bit of an oversharer which I think is one of my downfalls because I probably say things I shouldn't and voice opinions that aren't too popular. Then I look at the 'super popular' bloggers and vloggers and see nothing but positivity and I can't help but thinking 'really? is it really possible to be like that all the time without ever really showing any weakness'. I remember once when Zoe Sugg (Zoella) posted a video on secondary YouTube channel of her crying because 'it had all got too much' for her and that really started to pull me back into her little YouTube fan base because I thought actually yes she is like me, she is being real but she even felt like she had to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the video to 'warn' her viewers that it wasn't '5 minutes of happy time'. I think that's really, really sad that she feels she has to justify showing people that she's sad.

I aren't popular by any stretch of the imagination, I just tootle along at my own pace, writing about what I want to write about but I still feel quite pressured to be positive and often feel like I shouldn't be tweeting about negative things because of what people might think of me. I want portray the real me because that's what I like to see in other bloggers, I want to know that it's not just me that struggles to be positive all the time and to be honest I find those who are upbeat no matter what quite fake and transparent (oops there I go again with my opinions). Some of my favourite bloggers are Bethany Worrall, Big Fashionista and Qworter Life Crisis and they all have one thing in common; they're honest and they don't tend to hold back with what they say. I feel like I can really relate to all three of those ladies whereas there are lots of bloggers who I feel totally different to even though they're the same age as me. Maybe it's because they're aiming at a younger audience (similar to that of Zoella) or maybe it's because they are genuinely different to me in their real persona.

I sometimes think it takes a bit of fakery to become a successful blogger/vlogger; whether it's buying things you can't afford to make it look like you live a more luxe lifestyle than you actually do or never mentioning the times when you actually feel really quite down and maybe a bit depressed... there's obviously something that is pleasing the masses because the vast majority of super bloggers/vloggers seem to have this perfect life where everything is all sweetness and light. But then I am aware that lots of popular bloggers have touched on the subject of anxiety and the impact it has on their life but I can't help but point out that depression affects a total of about 121 million people in a period of 12 months ( so I do wonder it's never really touched on in the blogosphere.

Low Syn Sweet Treats on Slimming World

You've probably heard me mention before that I don't see the Slimming World plan as a 'diet', it's a change for life which I intend to continue for the foreseeable future because I think it's a realistic, sustainable way to eat. The most important part of the Slimming World plan is that no food is forbidden and you're actually encouraged to enjoy your 5-15 Syns per day so that you never feel deprived of anything. Of course, there are some things which are 'better' choices to make if you're fancying something sweet (or savoury) but ultimately you can have anything as long as you count it in your Syns. 

I've put together a little list of my favourite sweet tweets which are all under 5 syns each so there's absolutely zero guilt and you could either just have one or even have a few to satisfy your sweet craving! Even if you're not on Slimming World you can basically say that these are all under 100 calories so they're there to be enjoyed without feeling like you've ruined a healthy eating regime!


- Mikado Sticks (milk, daim or white chocolate) 0.5 
- Oreos (original & chocolate cream) 2.5
- Pink n' Whites 2.5 (put them in the microwave for 30 secs - 1 min and they're even more amazing!)
- Flumps 2 (break one of these up and put them in a hot chocolate - lush!)
- Cadbury Treat Sized Dairy Milk, Caramel, Crunchy or Flake 4
- Cadbury Treat Sized Fudge or Chomp 3
- Cadbury Highlights Hot Chocolate
- Aero Mousse Orange & Chocolate

These are all really good if you've got a craving for chocolate because you can team them up together to make it feel like you're having a really big sweet feast without actually going over your Syns for that day. 

5 Easy Healthy Food Swaps

It's no secret that I live a lot healthier lifestyle than I did a couple of years ago; don't get me wrong I love a good burger as much as the next person but my eating habits have changed for the better in general which I believe has contributed quite significantly to my 6 stone weight loss.

Sugar for sweetener
I used to be a 2 sugars in my tea/coffee kinda girl but now I always have sweeteners on hand both in tablet form and in a jar. I use it in place of sugar wherever possible because it's Syn free on the Slimming World plan.

Oil for Fry Light
Instead of using a glug of olive oil to stop stuff sticking to your pan, give it a couple of sprays of Fry Light which is just 1 calorie per spray and doesn't make any difference to the taste of the food (in fact I think it's great because there's no left over oil at all).

Whole milk for semi skimmed/skimmed or almond milk
I've just recently bought a carton of almond milk just to try it and I find it surprisingly nice! I think it would be great on cereal or used to make porridge with; I can't speak for what it's like in a cuppa but I'll be trying that one day too. If you're not keen on the almond milk idea then skimmed/semi skimmed contains a lot less fat than whole milk and to be honest I can't stand whole milk in tea and coffee so I never have it in the house.

White bread for wholemeal bread
A bit of a no brainer really, they say that white foods are very hard for the body to cope with and I'd say that 90% of people I speak to say that white bread especially leaves them feeling bloated. I'm a massive lover of crusty bread slathered in butter but having it too often wouldn't be overly good on the old waistline! I now very rarely buy any white bread unless it's a special occasion, for example I allowed myself a bacon sarnie on white bread on Christmas Day morning. I used to say I hated brown bread but now I actually think it's really tasty and after 18 months of not eating white bread very often I can't say I really miss it!

Sugary drinks to sugar free drinks
It makes sense to switch from regular Coke to Diet Coke; I made the switch 18 months ago after being an avid fan of the sugary fizzy stuff after insisting that I 'didn't like' Diet Coke (the reality was, I just preferred normal Coke) now I enjoy the taste of Diet Coke and wouldn't dream of buying the sugary version. The same applies to any other drinks you drink; check the cordial you pick up off the shelf and the flavoured water you think you're drinking to be good. Some of that Volvic flavoured stuff contains more sugar than you'd think!

These little changes can seem like quite a big change in terms of taste when you first make the switch but trust me, stick with it and after a while you won't dream of going back to the other stuff because it'll just feel 'wrong'. I feel much better in myself for making these changes and not just in terms of weight loss; my skin looks much better with fewer outbreaks and my stomach never really feels bloated at all. 

Interview Tips: How to Make a Good First Impression at an Interview

Job interviews are some of the most nerve wracking times of our adult lives; so much can be riding on the impression you give a potential employer in the 20 minutes or so that you're sat in a room with them. As an employer myself I can tell you that first impressions are absolutely everything. Before you even open your mouth you will be judged by the panel so appearance plays a massive part in how they perceive you before they even really know anything concrete about you...


Try and inject some colour into your outfit
A plain black and white get up would be absolutely fine, but try and show your personality through colour a little bit. I'm not suggesting that you should go in with your brightest yellow tights on with a lime green skirt, I'm simply saying that a little bit of colour not only breaks up an outfit but I just think it looks a little more approachable than being totally conservative with black and white. Maybe a red shirt under your jacket or a navy blue dress with black tights instead of a suit.

Make sure your shoes are clean, tidy and appropriate
It might like an obvious one but if you're wearing black shoes you'd be surprised how they can start to look dirty and tired. Make sure they're properly polished and clean and if you're not good at walking in heels, don't wear them because you'll end up looking daft when you're walking like Bambi on ice!

Stand/sit up straight
No matter how nervous you are, don't slouch. It makes you look like you are totally unconfident and not ready for a challenge... how can you expect someone else to believe in you if you don't believe in yourself?

Make eye contact
This sort of goes hand in hand with standing up straight; don't look at the floor make sure you make eye contact with whoever is on the panel as soon as you walk in, smile and look at them otherwise you'll look unapproachable and uncomfortable.

Sit still and speak slowly but fluently
When I'm nervous I have an awful habit of bouncing my leg up and down (sounds very weird, and it looks even weirder, haha) and I stutter horribly if I don't get my breathing under control. Sit comfortably but with good posture, clear your mind and think about what you are being asked then answer clearly; open your mouth properly to talk  and don't try and get your words out too quickly because that's when you're likely to stutter.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interviews, obviously there's so much more to interviewing well as a whole but the first impression is absolutely key. Not every interview will be a successful one but don't worry too much, because although it's disappointing to be turned down, there's always another job you can apply for. A good place to start when applying for jobs would be an online UK job search* website like City Calling which makes applying for jobs so easy because you can upload a CV and apply for whatever job takes your fancy and they'll also let you know when new vacancies arise which might be of interest to you.

The Best Jeans on the High Street

After spending the best part of 5 years wearing leggings and other elasticated 'bottom wear', actually enjoying wearing jeans is still a novelty for me. Since losing weight I very rarely wear anything elasticated simply because I don't need to anymore! I'm slowly working my way through various high street shops deciding which jeans I prefer; I've already decided that my favourite fit is mid rise skinny/slim and mid wash is probably my preferred colour (but I'm still open to changing my mind on that one). 



When I joined Slimming World my ultimate non-scale goal was to be able to get into a pair of size 12 Levi's jeans so before Christmas Jason took me to the Levi's store in Meadowhall and treat me to a pair of Demi Curve slim fit jeans. At £85 they are very pricey compared to what I'm used to paying but everything about them just screams quality; the fit, the denim and the feel of them is totally different to any pair of jeans I've owned before... I think I might do a full post about my Levi's because there's so much more to be said about them!

Next was the first shop I bought a pair of size 12s from and I have to admit that since that day I've fallen out of love with Next jeans a little bit; they used to be my absolute favourite but I dunno, they just didn't seem to be as comfortable as they used to be. 

New Look is probably my go-to shop for jeans at the moment because although they're not what you'd call top quality, they are functional, affordable and come in lots of different styles and colours. My favourite styles are skinny and super skinny; super skinny tend to be more stretchy and therefore a tighter fit whereas skinny have a little bit of stretch but they aren't as tight fitting, especially on the waist. At the moment I have three pairs from here; some black skinnies, some blue supersoft super skinny jeans and a pair of dark acid wash skinny ones; most New Look jeans come in at between £20-£25 which isn't bad at all I don't think.

A new addition to my jeans collection this Christmas was a pair from Dorothy Perkins; initially I had some jeggings but they were a short leg (I need a regular) and when I went to exchange them I found I actually preferred the 'Bailey' super skinny jeans. They're still not my favourite pair because I find them quite difficult to get over my calves (which, despite my weight loss, are still bigger than your average!) but on the whole the colour is nice and they fit perfectly on my waist. 

Finally, I added a pair of Zara jeans to my collection the other day when I was shopping in York... I still took a pair of size 14s as well as the 12s into the changing room with me because I think I still find it hard to believe that I'm actually a 12 (and I was unsure if they'd be small fitting). These ones have a bit of rip detailing on them and they were only £17.99 (down from £35.99) so I couldn't exactly say no could I?! All in the name of research and all that...

Nail Polish Collection - Nude and Brown Nail Polish

After having a sort out of all my makeup and stuff the other day I thought it would be a good idea to show you all my nail polish collection. Although I would imagine my collection is tiny compared to some, I still have enough to annoy my husband (one day I'm going to show him someones full collection video on YouTube then he'll be thanking his lucky stars for my 'small' hoard of makeup!).

Nude is probably my favourite shade of nail polish because it's so wearable and I actually think it's quite flattering to wear (if it's at all possible to 'flatter' your finger nails, ha). Brown is quite a weird one I think because as a young girl you couldn't think of anything worse than painting what can only be described as 'boring' on your finger nails but as a woman I think brown is anything but boring! I tend to prefer darker browns to light browns but nevertheless I think brown is a staple shade that every woman should have in her nail polish collection. 



Obviously I have my favourites within the collection and some have been used more than others; I find that I don't really bother with the more brick coloured browns (Nubar 'Moire' and Maybelline 'In Your Flesh') but I'm a total sucker for the lighter nudes (Barry M 'Lychee' and Models Own 'Naked Glow'). I bought Essie Topless and Barefoot purely because it was a blogger favourite a couple of years ago and although I like the colour I aren't keen on the formula and my bottle still has the smaller brush which makes it really difficult to apply. 

Bee Good Skincare for Combination Skin

There aren't many things/brands that I rave about continuously and I like to think that I'm quite selective in what I say I 'love' on my blog because I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that something is brilliant when it's really not. But Bee Good honestly is a brand which is too good to ignore in my opinion. 


It's obviously not the first time I've mentioned their products on my blog; I was first introduced to them when I was kindly sent a sample of Bee Good Cream Cleanser which I still love to this day and will continue to repurchase until the cows come home because it takes makeup off excellently but it's also gentle enough for my sensitive, blemish prone skin. I've also been using their daily moisturiser for the last couple of months and I've also fallen totally in love with that because it provides just the exact amount of moisture that my skin needs without making my skin look too oily and it doesn't block my pores or cause blemishes (if anything I'd probably say it calmed my skin when I started using it). Both their cream cleanser and moisturiser have a really lovely luxurious but soothing scent to them but I don't feel that they're over-scented like some skincare products can be. 

Obviously the fact that they're a British company is another reason why I love Bee Good as a brand. Also, they never test on animals, they don't hurt bees during the process of making their products, they never use synthetic colours, mineral oil, silicone, SLS/SLES or parabens AND they plough a share of their profits back into beekeeping causes and the education of young bee farmers.

Their skincare is more suited to those with normal or combination skin but they also do a range of hand care and lip care so even if their facial skincare isn't suitable for you, you could always try one of their other ranges. Every single product is under £20 so they're very purse friendly and they also have an offer on at the moment where you get a free travel sized cream cleanser when you spend £10 or more so there's another reason for you to try Bee Good! 

My skin is quite selective when it comes to what I put on it so in my eyes, for me to really rave about a brand/products as much as I have with Bee Good, it speaks volumes really. 

How Much Does a Dog Cost in the First Month?

Following on from my post about what it's like to own a dog, I thought I'd do a little checklist for what you'll need if you decide to become a dog owner because I did mention the kinds of things you'd have to think about but I didn't really go into detail. Obviously you could do things on a smaller or bigger budget but I've done an estimated cost of what it would be for your first month of owning your own little bundle of dog joy.


- Food & Treats £8.00 
I buy Jasper dry and wet food and mix them together; I use Pedigree and supermarket own brand mixer biscuits and he gets a full tin and a cup of biscuits every night for his tea. Then he gets treats during the day as rewards and just for when he's got his cute face on.

- Collar & lead £15.00
There are lots of options for these; it all depends on personal preference really as to what you buy. You want a collar to be comfortable for your dog so always make sure it's not too tight or too slack; you might want a regular collar and also a body harness to use for when they're actually out walking. Then there are different kinds of leads: retractable and regular one length, again it depends on personal preference but I have both because I like a one length one for street walking and a retractable for longer walks where I can let him go a bit further away.

- Chipping/Tagging £25
In the unfortunate event that your dog was lost or stolen, the best way to get them back is to have them chipped so that they can be scanned and identified at any vets and hopefully returned to you in good health. Obviously you could have a tag on their collar but who's to say that this wouldn't fall off? A chip is under their skin and should be there for life.

- Vaccinations £30 (approx)
There are all sorts of nasty diseases your dog can contract if they're not vaccinated. They need to be vaccinated twice; once at 8 weeks and again at 10 weeks and then they are allowed to be walked safely at 12 weeks old. It is recommended that you get your dog a booster vaccination every year and you need to make sure you do this especially if it stipulates this as a requirement in your pet insurance policy!

- Insurance £10.00 (approx)
I have the best level of cover for Jasper which obviously comes at a price but like with any insurance you can get different levels of cover depending on what you're prepared to pay for both in premiums and in any vet bills which might occur and also the older your dog gets the more your premium goes up (which makes sense, because your dog technically becomes more of a 'risk' to insurance company). The best thing for you to do would be to have a look at some companies like Argos* to get a quote and to see what different types of cover they do.


- Food bowls £8
I've tried lots of different types of bowl and I find that metal ones are generally the best; they're easy to clean and they're sturdy. I actually got a double diner bowl on a stand so that he couldn't chase it around the room once he'd finished.

- Bed and/or Crate £25
Dogs need somewhere to call their own, not only a place to sleep but also a place to 'get away' from anything that might be going on in the house. Believe it or not some dogs can get a little overwhelmed especially when there are screaming children around or lots of people talking and making general noise and they like to be able to have a bit of 'me time'.

- Toys £10
Stimulation is key with dogs; if they're stimulated enough they are less likely to destroy anything of yours so make sure that they have some toys to keep them occupied. Jasper has a proper little collection; at the moment he has a blankie, a fox, an octopus, 2 balls, a rope, a pheasant and a duck.

- Poo Bags/Poop-a-scoop £5
As I mentioned in my other post, dog ownership isn't all glamorous and unfortunately your dog has to get rid of whatever goes in its mouth and you have a duty to clean it up both in your garden and in public so you need a ready supply of bags and a scoop to help you deal with the situation.

- Gates £20
There's only one way to stop a dog going somewhere in your house and that's to shut it off from them. Baby gates are definitely your friend when keeping places off limits; Jasper has free run of our house but we did start with all good intentions as we had a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs to stop him coming up but that's gone by the by (because we're too soft).

- Grooming products £15
At the very least you're going to need a brush and some dog shampoo. Don't think it's ok to use human shampoo on dogs because it can really irritate their delicate skin; you don't have to spend a fortune but it's important to make sure that you get special dog shampoo.

- Flea and tick treatment £30
As I mentioned in my previous post, the supermarket stuff won't touch fleas and ticks; you need to buy it from a vet. We buy Stronghold which only does fleas and we deal with ticks by extracting them as and when we need to (which admittedly isn't very often but he does get them, especially in summer when he's been in long grass). From what I hear, fleas have become immune to Frontline so it's a lot less effective than it used to be even though it always seemed like the leading flea treatment. I can highly recommend Stronghold though, it really does the trick for Jasp.

Estimated total cost: £201

So that's approximately what it would cost you during the first month of owning a dog, on top of whatever you have paid for them. Don't get me wrong, Jasper is 100% worth it for me and I don't regret getting him at all but I know that for some people the cost would be a real deal breaker. Please don't be fooled into thinking that getting a dog is cheap and easy. I really hope I've made things a little clearer for anybody considering getting a dog (if it stops one dog from going into a dogs home due to someone making a mistake then that's mission accomplished for me!).

Illamasqua Freak Gift Set

It's not very often that I get a proper good bargain in the sales; everyone seems to always get there before me where the really good deals are concerned but I was lucky enough to get hold of one of the Illamasqua Freak perfume gift sets on offer at Boots for a fraction of the original price. I've been wanting a bottle for the longest time but never been able to afford to splash out so I couldn't say no to this little set...


In the gift set there was a 30ml bottle of Illamasqua Freak, a nail polish in the shade 'Raindrops' and a pure pigment in 'Furure'; both pieces of makeup are full size which really surprised me and I only paid £13.50 for the lot!! As you all probably know, Illamasqua isn't cheap makeup so I couldn't believe this was such a steal on the Boots website. 

Freak is a very unique scent and I would imagine it's a bit like marmite; you'll either love it or hate it because it's so different. It's a heavy scent which is firstly what draws me to it because I like a fragrance which is easily recognisable when I've got it on, I think it's the frankincense which comes through the most for me which gives it a really oriental kind of scent (exactly what I like). 

The Illamasqua pure pigment in Furore is absolutely perfect for me; it's a peachy beige high shimmer metallic which is perfect for using as an eye colour and as a highlighter. It can be used wet or dry to create some truly beautiful looks. I never thought I'd be able to make pigment work because the high shimmer makes it look unwearable to me but I'm so glad I've got this because I think it'll become a staple in my night time makeup routine.

Illamasqua Raindrops nail polish a light grey/blue jelly finish nail polish with tiny little flecks of glitter to give it a gorgeous finish on your nails. It's a perfect winter/spring shade and I can't wait to actually try it out on my nails. It's only £5.80 to buy separately on the Illamasqua website at the moment which is an absolute bargain in itself!

Basically I got over £50 worth of gorgeous beauty products for a quarter of the price! Unfortunately, this particular gift set is no longer available on the Boots website but keep a watch on the individual Illamasqua Freak 30ml bottle because it was only £10.50 and the words 'currently out of stock' would suggest that it might come back in stock, although I obviously can't guarantee it'll be so cheap!

Perfume That Smells Like Holiday

There are certain scents that trigger memories in my mind and coconut is always one which conjures up thoughts of being somewhere hot on a beach. I absolutely love the smell of anything coconutty so when I was scent a bottle of 'Fresh Coconut' from The Library of Fragrance I couldn't wait to see what it was like... 


If you haven't already heard of The Library of Fragrance, they're a newly launched company who have created a 'library' of 101 different fragrances which are mainly based on every day things which we sometimes wouldn't even think of making into a perfume; like Apple Pie, Lemon Meringue and Ginger Bread. I actually really love the idea and there are some really intriguing fragrances (as well as some which make me go a bit weird, like Play Doh and Pizza!). Boots stock a smaller (but still quite extensive) selection of the most popular fragrances which happens to include Fresh Coconut*, the one I'm talking about today.

The best thing about blogging about this fragrance in particular is that I don't have to bother about 'top notes' and 'base notes' and all that complicated stuff that I can never get my head around when i'm trying to describe a perfume because if you smell from the bottle this just smells exactly like Malibu (as in the drink). In fact I wouldn't even need to compare it to Malibu because this just smells exactly like you would expect; of coconut! The scent is much less powerful once it's settled onto your skin and it becomes a much more subtle coconut fragrance. 

The beauty about The Library of Fragrance is that you don't have to wear them alone, you could buy a couple and team them together to create a completely unique fragrance for yourself. So you could maybe pair up Caramel and Salt Air to create something like a 'Salted Caramel' type fragrance? They're not expensive either at £15.00 for a 30ml bottle so if you were to buy two you're probably still spending less than what you would on your regular perfume but you're getting 60ml of product and essentially 3 different scents! Boots actually have a 2 for £25 deal on the ones they stock at the moment, you can find their range here.

What it's Really Like to Own a Puppy

Owning a dog can seem very 'idealistic' in the blogging and celebrity world with all these cute little pugs and little teacup varieties and unfortunately these ideas of what having a dog is like can lead people to make bad decisions where pet purchases are concerned and ultimately can lead to a dog ending up in a rehoming centre. Before I continue I just want you to know that if you have ever given a dog up or whatever then please don't take offence to what I'm going to say; I'm writing this post in the hope that someone might read it and get a real idea of what owning a dog is like rather than being somewhat misled by these celebrity dog owners.

When Jasp was a baby, he's 3.5 now!

They need walking

I know the idea of a lovely afternoon stroll in the park with a cute little fluff ball on the end of a lead might seem very appealing, the reality of it will be somewhat different. If it's raining, snowing or whatever your dog doesn't know that and they will still need to be walked. I am guilty of not taking Jasper out enough, ideally he should be having 2 walks per day but I simply don't have the time or the energy to do that. Having said that, I have a huge garden for him to play in and he's quite happy to have me throw the ball backwards and forwards to burn off some of his energy (I say 'some' because I genuinely believe he could walk 100 miles a day and not bat an eyelid!). 

The breed plays a massive part in how much and how far they need walking; Jasper who is working cocker needs far more walking than say Blue the West Highland Terrier (who will lay down and blankly refuse to walk after so far). You also need to consider the training aspect of walking a dog; you can't just put a lead on them and expect to walk at heel. Unless you want your arm pulling out of its socket you'll need to spend time training your dog to walk properly on a lead.

They are expensive

And I'm not just talking vet bills which would be an unexpected cost should they fall ill or have an accident. I would estimate average weekly living costs of around £20-£30 which includes food, insurance, worming, flea treatment, grooming and treats. Of course, you could do it on a smaller budget than me but I make sure that he eats good quality dog food, he has adequate insurance and flea treatment that actually works. You've probably seen the high street flea 'treatments' which are about £5... these do not work (unless your dog never leaves the house or comes into contact with a flea), you need to buy vet approved treatments which are around £30 for 3 months worth of treatment. 

Then there's insurance which is a monthly cost of around £15 depending on the age of the dog and level of cover; I make sure I have unlimited access to paid for treatments no matter what happens to Jasper and I know that this cost is going to increase every year because he's obviously getting older and more prone to health problems... you don't have to insure your dog but say for an awful example that they got run over, you might have to choose between spending thousands on treatment or getting him/her put to sleep. Not something I want to have to decide between so I make sure I have good insurance. 

They are gross

They poo, they wee, they get wet, they get sick, they smell and they FART... my god does Jasper fart. You have a responsibility to clean up your dogs poo when he does it when you're out on a walk and trust me it is not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination; there's no sugar coating a bag of shit let me tell you! 

Even if you might think you have the cleanest dog in the Northern hemisphere your house will still smell of dog, it might not be a strong smell but people will be able to smell that you have a dog. They do have accidents in the house; if they're scared of fireworks they might wee and there's no telling where they might do it if you're not careful (try leaving the bedroom door open by accident and coming home to a wee soaked quilt on your bed!). 

They aren't cute and fluffy all the time either, especially when they find a nice muddy smelly dyke to jump in or a nice pile of fox poo to roll in and then you've got to bath them after that and if you've got a dog who hates baths that could be a military operation in itself. Then there's the times when he eats his tea too quickly and sicks it up on the living room floor... attractive!!

And then they can get the afore mentioned dreaded fleas... these little critters are absolutely skin crawlingly horrible to deal with because they breed at such a rapid rate! You might think you've got rid of them but then a new batch hatches from your carpet which has laid dormant because you haven't treated your house as well as your dog... ugh! Take it from me they are not pleasant but chances are your dog will get fleas at some point in their life. Also they can get ticks which are equally as ugly and horrible to deal with; they latch onto your pets skin and suck their blood (!!!) and you have to extract them in a special way so as not to leave any part of the tick in your pet which could get infected. I don't know which are worst; fleas or ticks but they're both gross nonetheless! 

But they will love you totally, completely and unconditionally

No matter how you look, how you're feeling or whether you've just shouted at them for chewing your brand new shoes... your dog will love you no matter what. I genuinely didn't think I could love an animal as much as I love Jasper, in fact I think I love him an unhealthy amount. His little face completely melts me and he is the first one to come wriggling over to me when I'm feeling upset (I say wriggle because he wags his little tail and his whole body wriggles like a worm). 

Jasper brings so much joy to my life and I've had some of the best days of my life with him because he's just so funny and cute. He cuddles on command, understands way more than I give him credit for and acts like a human in ways that you can't imagine. He has little play dates with his dog friends and he has a 5 minute mummy cuddle before bed every night.

A dog will be a friend for life, they are totally without prejudice and they will love you until they day they die. I know it isn't the same for some dog owners but Jasper truly is a part of our family; he is treat like a child in our house (some might disagree with this, I know) and I can't put into words how distraught I'll be when we lose him. Because that's another thing, dogs are only here for around 10 years so that thing that you have loved and put your heart and soul into will leave you one day and I believe it'll be like I've lost a family member. 

(I realise that some of what I've said in those last 3 paragraphs might sound utterly ridiculous to anyone who has never owned a dog but I'm pretty sure that there will be many dog owners out there who know exactly what I'm talking about!)

So the point of this post is ultimately to make you think carefully about owning a dog because although I wouldn't be without Jasper for all the money in the world, some people aren't cut out for being a dog owner for one reason or another. So if you're thinking of buying a dog, think about how much you love your house; how would you react if you had a dog who relentlessly chewed anything he could get his gnashers on or one who never calmed down for a minute of the day. 

There's so much more to owning a dog than cute little jumpers and sunny walks in the park, and I really, really want everyone to understand that in the hope that there are less little woofers who are sent to be re-homed. 

Perfume Gift Ideas

After going through a bit of a perfume drought back in August I have made sure that Christmas has come bearing lots of gorgeous smelling gifts. I now have a bit of an over-supply of perfume but I definitely aren't complaining; I love to have a choice of perfumes depending on my mood. I don't actually know why I do perfume posts because I am shocking at describing perfumes but I do like sharing with you what I'm wearing at the moment...


My most favourite budget perfume has to be Zara Woman Oriental (£9.99 for 100ml), who even knew that Zara did perfume? Well maybe you did, but I didn't until just before christmas when one of my friends came in smelling of what I thought was Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb, when it was in fact Zara Oriental. The bottle is simple with no frills but the scent is very similar to Flowerbomb and it has a similar longevity which is surprising considering it's under £10! I actually got this as part of a set with Zara Woman Fruity for only £12.99... so that's two 100ml bottles for under £15, averaging at £6.50 per bottle and they both smell absolutely lovely. They're both amazing as day or night time perfumes and if these scents aren't really your thing then they have a whole range of other very reasonably priced perfumes so there's sure to be something that will take your fancy!  

I've been lusting after Lancome La Vie Est Belle for the longest time and I totally forgot to put it on my Christmas list in 2013 so I made sure I got myself a bottle this time! This is quite a pricey one but I managed to get a gift set with 10% off in the Debenhams pre-christmas beauty promotion which made it just under £40 with a shower gel and a body lotion. It is quite a strong one, I'd even go as far as to say it requires an 'acquired sense of smell' to actually really love it because it's quite overpowering especially when it's first sprayed. However, when it's settled down it's one of those signature scents that you can spot a mile off; it took Lancome 3 years to develop it so it is quite special I think. 

The final Christmas addition to my collection was another bottle of Dolce & Gabbana The One which I got from the Boots sale in a gift set for just under £30 (they don't have any left online but they might have some in store if you're quick). I actually got to like this almost 5 years ago when Jason bought me a bottle (always nice when husbands get it right without being prompted!) but I haven't had a bottle for a good couple of years. It's another floral oriental one but quite a soft classic scent at the same time; the musk in it definitely comes through for me in this one and I love it as a night time perfume. Again, it's quite a pricey one but if you can grab the set then it's well worth it!