Viking Arty Party with Viking Direct

A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to the Viking Arty Party which was an early Christmas shindig organised by the lovely people at Viking Direct so I thought I'd take the opportunity to show a few snaps of what we got up to and also share my top picks from their website.

The event was held in Leeds which had us northern bloggers doing a little happy dance because even now, events held up north still aren't common. We all met up in the upstairs room at Lambert's Yard for mulled wine and a little natter before the festivities got underway. I was firstly absolutely made up because I finally got to meet Kellie (Big Fashionista), who I have 'known' in a virtual sense since I first started blogging in 2011 and I was equally as thrilled to learn that we'd be doing some calligraphy lessons! My creative skills aren't exactly my strong point so I was a little nervous that I was going to make an absolute hash of the workshops but I was surprised how easy things were once the instructions were kindly broken down for those non-crafty folk out there like me! I managed to make some mini Christmas crackers with some help from Tea & Crafting and I got some really handy calligraphy tips from Joyce from Artsy Nibs. It was a really lovely afternoon also complete with some amazing turkey and stuffing sandwiches (obvious essential for any Christmas party!)

Essential Daily Products

Daily essentials can sometimes be a bit overlooked when it comes to sharing the things you love and use regularly, mainly because that can of deodorant or whatever just isn't quite as pretty as the latest Naked eyeshadow palette is it? But ultimately, the basic stuff you use every day needs to be stuff that you actually like and stuff that works for you so although I don't have a huge daily routine of products, this is mainly what I use every single day...

The Body Shop Tea Tree Night Lotion £10.00 (The Body Shop)
Lancome Hydra Zen Moisturiser £41.00 (Feel Unique)

Admittedly, the Tea Tree lotion has come out in force again just recently because my skin has decided to have a bit of a tantrum and numerous spots have decided to appear on my chin. Tea Tree oil can be good for targeting particular spots to help clear them up but this gel-like lotion provides light hydration while calming your skin so you don't get the dryness that sometimes come with clearing spots up. 

The Hydra Zen is what I use in a morning before applying makeup, it provides just the right amount of moisturising without making my face look oily. It also helps to reduce any redness and soothes sensitive skin. I really struggled to find a moisturiser that was suited to my face and I discovered this through a little mini I got in a Christmas set so although this is quite pricey it's worth it for me because it works. 

Caudalie Vine Body Butter £21.00 Feel Unique

Although I do use the Caudalie Body Butter on a daily basis I'm now using it rather sparingly because I'm almost out of it and I really do like how this smells. It's really thick and creamy and is perfect for putting on after a shower because it absorbs really quickly but still makes your skin feel nicely moisturised. There's no stickiness which can sometimes come with using a butter and the scent is quite light but really distinctive. 

One of the newest fragrances from Dove is Pear and Aloe Vera, I wouldn't have normally gone for a fruity kind of scent but this really surprised me with how nice it smells and it does a good job of keeping you fresh throughout the day!

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes £2.00 Boots

A very, very old favourite. I rarely ever stray from Simple face wipes simply because I know they suit my skin and they are moist enough to be really refreshing when you just need something to wake you up in a morning. I know removing makeup with face wipes is supposed to be a cardinal sin but sometimes a full on cleansing routine day and night... ain't nobody got time for that. 

Why You Should Visit New York at Christmas

It's September, X Factor is starting soon and shops are starting to change their displays... so surely I can mention the C word without being shouted at?

Anyway, technically if you were going to take my advice you'd need at least a few months notice before you could do it so here goes...

This time last year I booked a trip to New York with my best friend, Kayley. On a bit of a whim really, we both decided we wanted to go somewhere and found a fairly good deal for 3 nights between Christmas and New Year. To be fair, NYC is amazing at any time of year but the bright lights, big city thing gets ramped up around the festive period (from mid-October onwards, really). Even if you've been to New York before, the Christmas season is truly a sight to behold and you can have so many amazing experiences and see so much more than you can at any other time of year.

Shops and window displays

Christmas shopping in New York, can it really get any better? All the decorations and Christmas ranges seem on another level to what we have in the UK so even if you were just window shopping and only buying a few bits it's amazing just to be there. It does get VERY busy, especially on the streets but for me that just added to the atmosphere.

The displays in Macy's windows are a sight to be behold and the sheer scale of some of these stores has to be seen to be believed! America really does go all out for Christmas and NYC is no exception.








Huge Christmas trees and light shows

Probably the most well known Christmas tree is the one outside the Rockefeller centre near the ice rink, now I wouldn't necessarily recommend that particular place for ice skating because it gets really stupidly busy but you absolutely must see the tree lit up and all the decorations that are around it, you can get some amazing photos. There's also a free light show on the front of the SAKS store (you can see this and the Rockefeller tree at the same time, bonus!) which happens every 10 minutes between the hours of 5-11pm so there's plenty of opportunity to catch it.






Ice skating in Central Park

I'm just going to put this out there, I am an absolutely shocking skater, I can't do it to save my life. I did it purely for the Snapchats and Instagrams! I'm so pleased I did it though just to say I had aswell, it isn't free but it's not ridiculously priced; during the week including skate hire it's around $25 but at weekends and actual 'holiday' dates it is a little more expensive. Wollman Rink in central park is much, much bigger than the one at Rockefeller and therefore far less crowded which I much preferred.


How to Save Money When You Shop Online

Collaborative post

Nowadays, everyone is turning to the internet in a bid to buy items of all types. Internet shopping has a myriad of advantages. For example, you don't need to travel to the store, and the products are delivered right to your doorstep. Not only that, you have a wide range of products to choose from and multiple merchants whose products you can sample. Then there's always the issue of costs. The debate of century is whether internet shopping has significant cost advantages over shopping in bricks and mortar stores.

Turns out it does


The vast majority of products you can buy in a real word store are cheaper over the internet. This covers all products, from medication to furniture and lingerie as well as electronics. The reason online stores can do this is that they benefit from not having to pay for costs such as rent and
electricity. In addition to that, online stores use automated systems for the purposes of shopping and therefore do not need to hire a big team to run things from the background. Most online stores in the UK try as hard as they can to keep operational costs down, and those advantages trickle down to the consumer.

Online stores generally lower the cost of items in several ways, the most popular is the use
of discounts on specific products; they knock off a small amount of money from the
marked price. Discounts can be as little as 3% and as large as 30%. These shops also provide
vouchers and coupon codes and obviously these can be used to lower the overall cost of your 'basket' whilst making you think you've got a really good deal because you had a special 'code' (I know that generally works for me when deciding whether I really need to buy something!). Flash sales are also popular way for online stores to lure you in; they'll lower prices significantly for short bursts of time to try and get you purchasing because you worry that the price won't be that low for very long.

Looking past all these sales and discount codes, another thing you should do before taking the plunge and just purchasing the product I'd recommend shopping around to make sure that you find the best deal; the fastest way of doing this is to use a catalogue comparison site.

An Easy Way to Print Photos from Your Phone

In an age where everything is digital I think everyone is guilty of not bothering to print out photos but to me printed photos are the best ways to document memories. As much as I love my phone and my Macbook, I still love to have a photo in my hand to either put in an album or stick on a wall so when Cheerz got in touch to ask if I wanted to get some photos printed I quickly picked some of my favourite Instagram snaps to display on my office wall at work. You can get a range of different print formats but I went for a selection of 3 different types; square, retro polaroid and strips (not pictured):


I teamed them with an inspirational quote print which came with a Yoohoo monthly stationery box. I've had lots of people comment on my little piece of wall and I'm really pleased that I found such a novel way of printing out photos!

Featured products: 
Square prints £0.35 each
Retro prints £0.35 each

Thomas Cook Long Haul Flight to the United States Review

I like to think that I've become well travelled enough now to know what constitutes and good and bad flight, especially when it comes to long haul travel. Let's face it, nobody wants to sit on a plane for over 6 hours but if you're wanting to visit further afield then it's a necessary evil.

Having been lucky enough to visit America a few times over the past few years I've also experienced a fair few of the main long haul airlines that fly in and out of Manchester airport. One airline which has particularly impressed me when it comes to long haul travel is Thomas Cook. They're considered to be edging towards the 'budget' and 'no frills' market of air travel and we've had some really good deals with them (£750 each for week in Orlando in the school holidays which included a luxury villa and return flights and £500 each for direct flights to Los Angeles in school holidays... I had to mention that both were in school holidays because we all know how most holiday companies like to hike the prices!).

In terms of long haul travel they fly to more places than you might think from Manchester; I've personally flown to Orlando and Los Angeles with them but they also fly to the following places in the US:

Las Vegas
New York
San Francisco
Santa Clara


Our 9 hour journey to Orlando was on an Airbus A330-200 which I have to say is one of the best types of plane I've ever been on due to the seat config and the fact that the toilets are situated downstairs which for me is good because there's no funny smells in the cabin and you get a bit of a longer walk when you need to pay a visit. The seat configuration is 2-4-2 meaning that there are 4 seats in the middle with 2 either side, we always like to choose our seat especially on planes like this so that we can first of all secure a seat together and also because we want one of the 2 seats at either side of the plane near the windows. You do have to pay a little extra with Thomas Cook in economy to reserve your seat (usually around £20 each way) but it's totally worth it for us just so we can guarantee our own little bit of space where we don't have to disturb anyone to get out use the toilet.

Each economy seat has seat back entertainment with a small selection of films and TV programmes but you can pay £4 to upgrade which we paid for because although we did take an iPad I do like a nice choice of seat back entertainment. If you pay for premium economy seats you get premium entertainment included. The seat back screens are some of the newest I've seen and are very touch sensitive which means that you shouldn't have anyone behind you tapping the heck out of your seat!


Included in the price of the flight is a meal and a snack on every flight. On outbound flights to the US you get a meal designed by James Martin which are absolutely spot on. Plane food on the whole can be very hit and miss but to be fair the facilities are a little bit restricted at 36,000 feet. The outbound meals I've had on Thomas Cook have all been lovely; on this particular flight it was sausage and mash with a mousse pudding and cheese and biscuits:





Around 2 hours before landing you also get an afternoon tea package which is really lovely; 2 sandwiches and a scone with clotted cream and jam... amazing!


Admittedly, the return flight food offering isn't as good as due to US regulations they can't offer James Martin meals but it's find and edible. To be honest on a return flight all I'm interested in is trying to sleep which brings me on to the space in the seats:

In economy you get a seat pitch of 31" (the space between a point on your seat and the exact same point on the next seat), the seat width is 18.2" (the bit where your bum actually sits, don't forget you can raise the arm rest in the middle for a little more room) and the seat recline is 4.4". The seats don't look plush, they are very basic but believe me they are comfortable. They are much more comfortable than the awfully small seats I sat on when I was on a BA flight from New York!

The overall service on the flights has always been very good and although you don't get free drinks in economy you can purchase soft drinks and alcohol which is priced as it normally is on a flight (ie. expensive) so what we usually do is buy a big bottle of water at the airport and take that with us to stay hydrated throughout the flight.

Overall I can't rave about Thomas Cook flights enough, they're an excellent option if Manchester is your airport of choice as they have a great range of destinations. Any questions please tweet me or email me!

The Best Charlotte Tilbury Products

I love being able to buy luxe beauty products as and when funds allow (granted this isn't too often!) and I'd wanted to try some Charlotte Tilbury from day dot when she launched her beauty brand. I'd visited counters a few times but struggled to decide what to try as a starting point; everything looks so pretty with lots of rose gold which makes up her distinct packaging style. Charlotte Tilbury carries everything from makeup and tools to skincare and perfume but I knew I was going to focus on the makeup because I'd heard such good things. I eventually started my collection with a lipstick and the iconic Filmstar Bronze & Glow contour palette:


As you can see the packaging is absolutely superb, it really is a cut above from other brands I've tried - even high end! Everything is really solid and well made and the colours make it different to anything I've ever seen; nothing about it is flimsy and you can tell the moment that you pick it up that it's all really well made. It just screams quality. 




The main reason why I chose the Filmstar Bronze & Glow palette is because I'd heard it was really good for pale skin (to honest if CT can't get it right for pale skin who can, right?). As you can clearly see from the swatches, my skin is fair so I before I bought this palette I'd really struggled with contour because I couldn't find anything that was a match for my skin without being too orange or too brown. 

The light-medium Filmstar Bronze & Glow palette is perfect for my skin and it's a palette that will take you from day to night. I literally use this every single day and it's very buildable for a night time look without being cakey or orange. It's pricey at £49.00 but I would repurchase this in a heart beat and despite using this every single day it doesn't look I've made much of a dent in the pans at all. I would 100% recommend this for anyone with paler skin who wants to dip their toe into contouring.

A lipstick was actually the first thing I bought from the Charlotte Tilbury range and it may be surprising but I didn't go for Pillow Talk which seems to be the most talked about shade. I actually bought this particular shade from a counter and asked the assistant for a darkish nude that could be used for day and night. He recommended Very Victoria.


Very Victoria is a shade from the Matte Revolution collection of lipsticks and it really is a beautiful dark pink/nude shade. The formula is pretty revolutionary for a matte lipstick I think because it's surprisingly hydrating and doesn't feel dry even when you've worn it for a while yet it looks perfectly matte on the lips. It's stunningly easy to apply which is quite unusual for matte formulas and can easily be reapplied without a mirror - winner! The price tag is a heavy one at £24.00 but I would definitely recommend that you try Charlotte Tilbury if you're looking to treat yourself to a high end lipstick. 

Featured products:
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow in Light-Medium £49.00
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipstick in Very Victoria £24.00

Why You Shouldn't Compare Yourself to Others

I've not been around in the 'blogging community' very much for the past couple of years (the fact that I typed years there makes me feel really sad actually), but I'm really keen to get back into it in some capacity. I miss writing and I really miss having like-minded people to talk to but I'm pleased of the break I've had, I've had about a year to mature and I think I'm ready to take this blogging lark as it comes... I think.

In lots of ways I'm very pleased that my new career left me with very little time to blog because I realised that I was becoming quite a negative person where blogging was concerned and that was purely because my blog wasn't going where I wanted it to. I would regularly feel jealous of those who succeeded and wondered why I wasn't doing as well as everyone else, I felt like a lot of people were cheating their way to the top and I still to this day don't know what the secret is to success in blogging. Maybe perseverance, maybe sheer luck but I didn't have either of those regardless.

Because I'd let this feeling of jealousy consume me I lost the love for blogging towards the end and I hated feeling constantly aggrieved by others who didn't seem to be doing anything different to me but who were swimming in followers and attention from brands.


I felt like I wasn't good enough and I never would be good enough. My house isn't light and airy and I certainly don't have space for studio lighting so I never felt like my photos would be to a good enough standard and I daren't write a lot of my true feelings about things in case I rubbed people up the wrong way (be that PRs or other bloggers). I hated feeling like that, I felt like it was unnecessary stress that I was putting myself under.

I've always prided (is that even a word?!) myself on being real and no nonsense and believe me for the most part that's what I've always been but just a more toned down version (mainly because online ranting doesn't come across very well and it's very hard to convey the tone in which you're saying something in 140 characters). I've said some unpopular stuff on Twitter which I don't think has particularly helped my cause where blogging is concerned but I absolutely refuse to be fake.

I'm actually not very good at making friends initially, especially on social media but the general consensus among people who know me personally is that I come across a bit blunt and miserable to start with but I'm actually one of the most down to earth and easy to get on with people you'll ever meet. I don't know any of the hashtags or chats on twitter anymore and I'm finding it really hard to engage with people again but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

So in short what I'm actually trying to say, is that I will blog more often now but it won't be picture perfect, it won't necessarily have photos with the most fantastic lighting or immaculate backgrounds. There'll be no schedules or feeling guilty for not posting. I'll do what I can, when I can, because I enjoy it.

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