Tuesday, 21 August 2018

HOME & LIFESTYLE | HOW TO SAVE WATER AROUND YOUR HOME

I can't believe it's been a month already since I started the water saving challenge with Yorkshire Water! If you missed the previous posts, Yorkshire Water challenged me to try and save water around the home just by changing my daily habits ever so slightly which I've actually found fairly easy which surprised me!


The 4 Minute Shower - This was the one that I thought I'd find the most challenging but it was, in fact, a lot easier than I thought. I honestly think the only reason why I was spending longer in the shower was because I wasn't thinking about water consumption but as soon as it was at the forefront of my mind, miraculously, I was able to do things far quicker! If you order a water saving pack from Yorkshire Water it actually comes with a little egg timer that you can stick on the tiles so remind you of the time you've got.

Making Hot Drinks - I used to fill the kettle with way more water than I actually needed which actually meant that I ended up tipping away some of the water because, I don't know about you, I won't use water that's been stood in a kettle overnight because I'm convinced it's stale or full of limescale. So now I use the mug I'm going to drink out of to actually put the water into the kettle so I'm only putting in exactly what I need. Not only does this save me water, it also saves on electricity because naturally, a kettle with a lot less water in takes less time to boil.

Doing the Laundry - Being on my own I don't use my washing machine every day but what I was guilty of was washing twice a week, only filling it half full of clothes before I turned it on. This was obviously a totally unnecessary waste of water and I've found it surprisingly easy to wait until I've got a full load to actually turn the washer on. I have plenty of clothes so it's not as if I've been without clean clothes to wear and I can imagine that cutting down to one wash per week on average that I've cut down my average daily water usage by quite a bit!

Watering the Garden - Just before I started this challenge I bought a sprinkler because my garden was looking so yellow, sad and dead because it had been so relentlessly hot in the UK. However, Yorkshire Water recommend that you don't use a sprinkler or a hose pipe to water your garden because it's hard to control the water you're using. I actually haven't watered my garden at all during the past month and because we finally got some cooler weather with some rain showers it's not actually doing too bad now. If you do want to water your garden, the best thing to do is use a watering can so you know how much water you're using. Alternatively you could invest in a water butt which recycles rain water which can be used for watering the plants/grass. Another little tip is to Leave your grass a little bit longer which helps it to stay greener as the sun doesn't scorch it whereas shorter grass tends to go yellow quicker as it burns.

Washing up while the water is hot - This was the most challenging part of the whole month. I used to fill the washing up bowl with hot water and leave the pots to 'soak' for what I thought was 5/10 minutes when it actually turned into more like 40 minutes by the time I'd plonked myself on the sofa and forgotten about them. Obviously this meant that the water was cold by the time I got to it and no use for washing the dishes in. So over the past month I've stopped the laziness and I've been doing the washing as soon as I've put the water in the bowl - not once have I tipped it down the sink and refilled it. I'm quite proud of myself actually *insert smug emoji*

So there's 5 tried and tested tips on how to save water in your home. It's not a case of making massive changes, it's just a few little tweaks to bring your daily water consumption down. Although we have had a little bit of cooler weather in the past month we still haven't had enough rain so just by reducing your water usage a little bit, collectively we can make a big difference to the impact on water sources around Yorkshire. Not only would you be helping the environment, if you're on a water meter you could also be saving yourselves some money which, with Christmas in the not so distant future, should come in handy!

*post in collaboration with Yorkshire Water

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Monday, 20 August 2018

LIFESTYLE | 5 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU'VE GOT A BIT OF 'ME' TIME

Just recently, I've heard/seen a few people say that they've had time to themselves but had no idea what to do with it which I guess is a symptom of how stupidly busy we all seem to be nowadays especially when you really start to adult keeping small humans alive etc. etc. We're all juggling one thing and another but it's SO important to actually take a step back now and again and actually enjoy the 'spare time' we have rather than using it as an opportunity to 'get stuff done'.

Stop worrying about that bit of ironing that needs doing, get rid of the guilt and look after yourself for once because everyone deserves some time to concentrate on themselves:

Get comfortable, sit down and enjoy a drink - How many times do you actually make yourself a drink then actually sit down and drink it. Your me time can be as simple as changing into some comfy pyjamas, making yourself a drink and actually sitting down to enjoy it.


Pyjama Bottoms £20.00 Hunkemöller*

Look after yourself - This can be as simple as having a bath, putting on a face mask, painting your nails, giving your hair a deep conditioning treatment or even shaving your legs. If you're so preoccupied with looking after everything and everyone else you are naturally going to suffer one way or another. I'm not suggesting that looking good is the answer to feeling good but just spending some time concentrating on your own body can be so therapeutic.

Start a bullet journal - I've loved writing since I was little, so much of my money would be spent on new notebooks and stationery and nothing has changed now aside from the fact that bullet journalling has become a thing. If you're not familiar with bullet journalling it's basically described as the 'analogue system for a digital age'; it's a place where you can get organised (or pretend to, in my case), record your thoughts, learn about yourself, set goals and even doodle if that kind of thing takes your fancy. I'm obsessed with pinning bullet journal ideas on Pinterest which is where I get most of my ideas from so have a look on there, grab yourself a fresh new notebook, some colourful pens and pencils and get bullet journalling!

Watch something on catch up - Busy lives often mean that we get home from a day of running around chasing your tail to grab something to eat and just flop straight into bed meaning that before you know it, you've missed out on your favourite TV series or that drama that you really wanted to watch. You don't necessarily have to do this through a paid for service like Netflix; BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all have dedicated catch up sites where there's hundreds of episodes to watch. There's even older classic box sets on the Channel 4 on demand website like The Inbetweeners and Green Wing so there's bound to be something for everyone.

Text/ring somebody you've not spoken to in ages - Friends and extended family are among some of the casualties of a busy life because we just 'forget' to get in touch with them. One week rolls into the next and before you know it, it's been 2/3 months since you've spoken to some of your friends and family. We are all guilty of this at some point in our lives I think. Rather than worrying about them being annoyed out the fact that you've not been in touch just remember that they're probably in a very similar position to you and hearing from you might be just the pick-me-up they need that day.

There are so many more things you can do with a bit of me time but the most important thing for me is to actually make sure you allow me time. Don't feel guilty; look after number one for once.

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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

TRAVEL | 5 PLACES YOU NEED TO VISIT FOR A ROMANTIC GETAWAY

Travelling has always been a huge love of mine and over the past few years and I think that getting away with your boyfriend/girlfriend is definitely one of the best things you can do to spend some quality time together. I personally like to go places where there are things to do and see should you wish to go exploring; I'm not keen on just laying in the sun, I love to get out and about to see some of the local sights and culture so I tend to choose places that have plenty to keep me occupied for a week or so:

kelly-springs-apopka

Orlando, Florida
I am personally a huge Disney and Universal fan and I think they're perfect places to spend time with your significant other, especially if you enjoy a thrill ride or two however, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Orlando was a holiday just for kids and Disney fanatics but there's so much more to the area than the theme parks; there are some real natural gems in the Orlando area that are perfect for exploring on a romantic getaway such as Kelly Springs which has a natural 'lazy river' that you can float down as well as BBQ areas to enjoy something to eat while you're there.!

new-york-at-christmas

New York, New York
I guess you could say this is kind of a cliche couples holiday; proposing at the top of the empire state building and whatnot but New York truly is one of the most amazing places you'll ever visit. Don't get me wrong, it can be a very tiring break away but you'll come back with so many memories (and probably a shedload of insta-worthy photos). My personal favourite is to visit New York at Christmas because not only do you get to see all the usual sights but everything looks better with Christmas lights all over, right? You'll need to wrap up because the weather won't always be on your side but I personally can totally overlook the weather just to experience a horse and carriage ride around Central Park.

kefalonia-beach

Kefalonia, Greece
Greek islands in general are among my favourite holiday destinations but I enjoyed Kefalonia in particular because it's a quiet island with lots of different beaches to explore and because the southern beaches are known to be nesting habitats for loggerhead turtles you can see some real natural beauty while you're there. Although the habitats are heavily protected, you might be able to catch a glimpse of a turtle in Argostoli Harbour at around 11am when they go to looking for food from the fishermen bringing in the morning catch.

Maldives-beach

The Maldives
For me, the Maldives is the ultimate destination for a romantic getaway just due to it's relaxing and tranquil nature. There are so many absolutely stunning places to stay with white sandy beaches nearby and private pools and if you're looking for something a little different while you're there, there's plenty of opportunity to go on some exciting trips and excursions: you can even choose to be stranded on your own island for a day! It doesn't always have to be super expensive to visit the Maldives either; Destination2 have lots of different options to suit all budgets on their website www.destination2.co.uk so you should be able to find something within reach without compromising on luxury.

venice-gondola-ride

Venice, Italy
One of the most romantic things to do is take a gondola ride through the Venetian canals while you admire the beautiful architecture of Venice. I find the place itself absolutely fascinating how everything is built around a labyrinth of waterways! The cuisine has always tempted me as well with all the freshest seafood and fish on offer and who could resist some proper fresh Italian gelato?!


Where would be your destination of choice for a perfect romantic getaway?

*collaborative post
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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

FOOD & DRINK | DOES LOW CALORIE ICE CREAM ACTUALLY TASTE LIKE ICE CREAM?

Low calorie ice cream seems to be one of the latest things to hit the UK from across the pond, with a few different brands popping up offering seemingly 'low calorie' ice cream meaning you can eat the whole tub and feel relatively no guilt. Now I wanted to put a couple of these to the test because I had my doubts as to whether a low calorie ice cream would taste as good as a 'normal' ice cream. 

If you like ice cream then it'll be pretty easy to plough through a tub this size in one sitting especially if ice cream is your go-to comfort food when you're fancying a treat. If you were to do this with a tub of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie this would mean that you had consumed 855 calories which is nearly half of your recommended daily calorie intake *insert shocked emoji here*. I was genuinely shocked by that and you can tell why Ben & Jerry's don't shout about the 'calories per tub' like these brands do...

low-calorie-ice-cream

To be totally honest before I met Kev I never really ate ice cream but since being with him we've often bought a tub as a treat. However, we quickly realised that the treats were becoming a little too frequent so we needed a lower calorie alternative. 

We decided to pick up a couple of tubs of two different brands of low calorie ice cream; both brands seemed to have a full range of ice cream flavours at under 400 calories per tub. Both brands claim to be high in protein and lower in sugar which naturally you would assume as the calorie content is pretty much half of what is in Ben & Jerry's. 

Because I can't seem to make a decision, Kev chose the flavours. Breyers seem to stick to a more 'traditional' range so from theirs he picked up classic chocolate and mint chocolate chip and from Halo Top, who have a slightly wider range of flavours with non-dairy options as well; he meant to pick up chocolate and salted caramel but picked up cinnamon bun by mistake *insert eye-roll emoji*

halo-top-ice-cream


So first of all let's have a look at Halo Top: out of the two the packaging has a more premium feel than the Breyers tubs both in colours and design and also for the fact that they have a foil lid whereas the Breyers tubs don't.

Calories-wise the chocolate comes out at 10 more than the Breyers chocolate and the tub is actually 473ml rather than Breyers which is the usual 500ml and let's look at the full breakdown of nutritional values in comparison:

Nutritional Values Per Tub
Breyers Chocolate 
(500ml)
Halo Top Chocolate (473ml)
Calories
310
320 
Sugar
22g
22.4g
Protein
20g
19.6g
Fat
8.4g
10.8g
Salt
0.44g
1.12g

The values are pretty similar, although you are getting 27ml less ice cream in a tub of Halo Top than Breyers so that's something to remember. I did wonder whether they'd pack this low calorie ice cream full of artificial sweeteners but thankfully, both brands use Stevia, an organic sweetener which softens the blow somewhat but I can't find any information about specifically how much sweetener is used in each of these tubs. 

Anyway, onto the taste test...

breyers-low-calorie-ice-cream

On first impressions, Halo Top is easier to scoop from the tub whereas Breyers is spoon-bendingly hard to get out unless you leave it to melt for a little while on the kitchen side; I did wonder whether this was due to a lack of something that higher calorie ice creams usually have - maybe more cream or something. 

I'm going to compare chocolate on taste because that seems like the fairest way to truly tell which one I prefer. To me, Breyers looks more appetising because it's a darker brown colour whereas Halo Top is surprisingly light brown and looks are not deceiving in this case because I actually prefer Breyers chocolate and here's why:

Halo Top chocolate ice cream (and the cinnamon bun one, actually) tastes quite powdery in my opinion; it doesn't have that creamy texture that you expect from ice cream, and the chocolate flavour isn't very strong at all. The cinnamon bun flavour does have more flavour to it but that's possibly because cinnamon is a naturally stronger taste so it comes through more easily. Cinnamon bun also has some cookie-dough-like pieces through it which did make it taste slightly better but in all honesty cinnamon isn't my favourite flavour and I was a little gutted by my silly mistake (the tubs are very similar so make sure you double check the flavour before you buy!).

Breyers chocolate is a lot creamier and has far more flavour than Halo Top; it doesn't have that powdery texture at all and tastes a lot more like higher calorie ice cream. It is harder than the Halo Top as I mentioned earlier which means it's not as easy to scoop out but I can totally overlook this and use a stronger spoon for the sake of a better flavour payoff. The mint chocolate chip is also pretty amazing and has plenty of little chocolate chips in it; it's whiter than you usually find mint chocolate chip ice cream, presumably because they haven't used artificial colourings to make it green but it's still a really minty, enjoyable ice cream.

Both ice creams currently £5 per tub in Tesco but you can often find them on offer. You can also buy both brands in Asda and Sainsbury's. I would personally recommend Breyers out of the two and I can definitely say that this low calorie ice cream definitely tastes as good as calorific ice cream. 


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Friday, 3 August 2018

HOME & LIFESTYLE | A LOOK INSIDE THE NEW JYSK STORE IN DONCASTER

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you might have seen that they've very recently opened a JYSK store in Doncaster and you'd be forgiven if you were left thinking 'what the heck is JYSK' because they are a fairly new retailer in the UK and at the moment they've got stores as far down the country as Coventry so if you're any further south than that you may have a little longer to wait before they open one near you! But all I can say to that is high five to the retailers who see some real potential in the north of England! Anyway, I digress...

JYSK is an international retailer who specialise in 'everything for the home' and the name 'JYSK' is actually meant to be said as it's spelt not as a series of letters; the word in Danish actually means 'anything or anybody from the Jutland Penisula' (mainland regions of Denmark) but more specifically it's associated with modesty, thoroughness and honesty. So when you're saying it just remember it's not J-Y-S-K it's JYSK.

The store they recently opened in Doncaster is their first 'Concept 3' store which means that it differs from existing stores in that it's more home and lifestyle led in the range of products. This is the first time I've ever been to a JYSK store though so I was excited to see what they had...



On first impressions the store isn't actually very big at all, I expected it to be a lot bigger especially as I expected lots of displays of the products and furniture in action. However, despite the size they've actually used the space really well and managed to showcase lots of their furniture whilst not overcrowding the place. They have everything from storage drawers, wardrobes and shelving to beds, sofas, dining sets and garden furniture; along with lots of other home accessories and essentials.

What I also noticed immediately was the price-point; everything seems very affordable but the quality doesn't seem compromised. The layout of the store suggests that the products would actually be more expensive than they are which makes a nice change! They have lots of opening offers on in store but even the 'normal' prices seemed very reasonable.


They have a whole section of the store dedicated to beds and mattresses which is separated off from the rest of the store to give it a more bedroom-y kind of feel. As you can see all the beds and mattresses are there for you to try out which is perfect because who wants to buy a mattress without trying it first?! I certainly wouldn't!


I couldn't help but absolutely love this VESTERVIG bunk bed even though I have zero use for it as I don't have any kids but it's absolutely perfect for anyone that does and again the price is so reasonable; for the frame PLUS mattresses for both the top and bottom bunk it's only £369; I would have loved something like this as a child!

As you can see behind the bed they have a range of wardrobes which are, again, all very reasonably priced and there was a darker wood triple wardrobe with mirror called the VEDDE which I had my eye on and it was just £225.



Another price I could not believe was these chairs; the grey fabric ones are only £45 and they are so sturdy; I've known similar ones be priced at double that if not more so if you're looking for an affordable dining set then I definitely recommend JYSK because you can mix and match the tables and the chairs. For example you could get the HALLUND table plus 4 of these type of chairs for just £255! Again, you can see how they've sectioned this bit of to be able to show lots of their products in-situ which is helpful for getting some inspiration.




Unsurprisingly, the sofas were also very affordable and I liked the way they used the available space to actually showcase what they look like paired with some of their other furniture because sometimes matching up different furniture is half the battle because I get stuck to know what will go with what.



Onto accessories and I can safely say that their bedding is the one; I was particularly drawn to that RINGSTIND printed duvet cover; it's 7.5 tog which is perfect for when the nights start to get a little cooler and a double is only £25.

Looking at the second photo, I absolutely love that they have the duvet covers on hangers so you can get a proper look at them and actually feel the texture. I hate having to buy bedding 'blind' as it were because although you can look at the pattern through the plastic, you never get a proper feel for it until you get it home and wash it. There's nothing more disappointing than finding that your pretty bedding is also scratchy bedding. Luckily, all the duvet covers I felt on the display were very soft and silky and again, you can't go wrong at the prices because they were mostly under £20 and they had some amazing geo patterns (we all know I love a geo pattern!)


There's a very good selection of cushions in store aswell with lots of different colour schemes and patters and you can also buy just the covers in some patterns which is perfect if, like me, you like to switch up your cushions now and again but you don't want to keep buying the cushions themselves. I particularly have my eye on the DUEHOE dark grey geometric cushion cover which is an absolute steal at only £3.




And onto the final part; bathroom bits (well I say final, the final bit that I'm going to cover in this post because otherwise it would be far too picture heavy!). They have a nice little selection of bathroom accessories and as you can see the glass soap dispensers caught my eye along with the matching toothbrush holders. They also had a great range of towels in different colours and sizes and surprise surprise they were very affordable at £9 for a bath sheet (I usually end up paying around £15), I also really like those guest towels in that last photo; the bit of pattern just makes them a little bit different to the norm; perfect for a downstairs toilet.

Wow, that post was long and I probably haven't covered half of what was actually in the store! Although I would love to see what a bigger store is like I am very impressed with their use of space in the Doncaster store; they've utilised it all very well without making it look too overcrowded. It'll definitely be a place I'll visit often to see what new bits they get in!

Do you have a JYSK near you?



*I was not paid to write this post, I simply asked permission to take photos and film in the store because y'know, ya girl needs something to do in her 6 weeks off


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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

OWNING A HOUSE| MONTHLY EXPENSES

Owning your first house is an absolute minefield because you never fully know what to expect especially when it comes to how much it's going to cost. I found that figuring out whether I could afford to live on my own with a mortgage was the main thing that actually worried me during the whole house buying process because I didn't really have a proper clue about what my monthly outgoings would be. 

Obviously I realise that everyone's will be slightly different and some of us will be in a better position than others with regards to monthly outgoings that we can't avoid due to being stuck in contracts etc. but I wanted to give you a rough idea of what you would need to think about when it comes to monthly expenses when you own your first home so here are my monthly 'non-negotiables' shall we say, basically the stuff that I can't avoid paying if I want to continue living in my house:


Mortgage - obviously the figure will differ massively depending on the house you're buying, how long the mortgage term is, how much deposit you're putting down but the bottom line is that this is probably going to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest expense every month.

Council Tax - again, the figure will differ depending on the size of your house and your local authority but it will probably be another fairly significant figure coming out of your account every month. Before buying a property you can check your council tax band on the government website or if you're buying a new build you'd have to ask any current residents on your development for an idea; they wouldn't be able to give you a definitive answer but you'd get a rough figure according to similar houses on the development.

Gas & Electricity - Clearly, the bigger your house and the more people living there, the bigger your utility bills are going to be and to be honest for the first few months you'll be billed based on estimations but you can get these estimations from your provider's website just by giving them a little bit of information about your daily habits. Your bills will eventually level out as they get a better understanding of your usage but do make sure you keep in touch with your provider to make sure you're on the best deal! Companies like USwitch can be really helpful if you are buying an existing build and for new build owners I would personally recommend staying with whoever the provider was before you bought the house if you're happy with the tariff because as I say it's very difficult to estimate if you've no idea of usage at all and they have no previous data from the house. Obviously the choice is totally yours but I just preferred to keep it as hassle free as possible when I moved in, I'm currently on a fixed tariff for both gas and electricity until February 2019 with British Gas but I will 100% be shopping around next year when the term is up!

Water - If you're buying a new build house then you'll definitely be on a water meter which means that you're charged for every drop you use. Some older houses don't have water meters and those who use a lot would probably benefit from the old system but if you are on a water meter you might want to look at some tips on how to save water so that you don't get any nasty shocks when the bill arrives. I'm not saying you should have a world war 2 fill line around the bath but a water meter definitely does make you think about the water you use. 

House Insurance - Another non-negotiable purely because your mortgage company will insist on this and you obviously want the peace of mind knowing that you'll be covered if anything does go wrong. Can be another slightly tricky one if you're a new build owner because postcodes aren't always recognised and some insurers won't insure on a property when they're unsure of the risk factors (fair enough I suppose) but again within a year or so Royal Mail should have indexed your address and you shouldn't have too much trouble when your renewal comes up. You could of course pay this in full if you have the spare cash but I personally pay monthly for mine. I have buildings and contents insurance, even though the only actual requirement for my mortgage is buildings, I figured it was sensible to get things covered in case of a break-in etc. 

Broadband & Phone Line - Not an absolute essential, some may say, but for me it's 100% on my non-negotiables list. I waited almost a month before I got it installed because they were rolling out fibre in my area and it was like my left arm had been chopped off (I say left because I'm left-handed). I went with BT and probably pay slightly over the odds for what I get (and I've had notification that it's going up! *eye roll*) but I prefer familiarity and reliability where possible and to be fair to them they were super efficient at getting my line connected etc. I do have (and pay for) a phone line but I don't have a phone connected to it - purely because I'd have no use for it. The purpose it would serve is to irritate me with junk phonecalls. 

TV Licence - I personally don't pay monthly for this, I paid the £150.50 yearly fee in full because I could afford to at the time and it brought my monthly financial commitments down slighty. But there are other ways to pay for your TV licence by spreading the cost over the year. Again, another non-negotiable if you watch live TV because it's a legal requirement. 

There are of course other personal costs that will be quite different from one person to another so I'll leave that for another post but there's my roundup of all the expenses you can expect when owning your first home. If you've got any questions please do tweet me or instagram message me and I'll do my best to help!

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Friday, 27 July 2018

LIFESTYLE | 10 REASONS WHY WE'RE ALLOWED TO MOAN THAT IT'S HOT

I'd hazard a guess and say that 90% of the UK population are getting a little bit tired of this heat wave weather now; in fact I wouldn't even call it a heatwave anymore because a heatwave is only classed as such if it is hot for a period of 2 consecutive days. I now basically feel like I live in a tropical country; minus some of the things that many people have in that country to try and cope with the heat. I know there's 10% of the population who will say 'stop moaning about the weather, you moan when it's cold and rainy and now look - you're moaning that it's too hot. You can't have it every which way!' Well actually I am well within my rights to moan about the current UK temperature and I shall tell you for why my friend...



1. We do not live in a society where air-conditioning is common in most homes. If we want air conditioning or any kind of cool environment we would have to go and stand in the fridge/freezer aisles of Tesco. All we really have in the UK to keep us cool are fans. Fans which blow around warm air and according to something I read the other day fans also disturb the air around you which can flare up allergies and hayfever. Splendid.

2. Most 'ordinary' people do not have swimming pools in their back yard. I for one would like nothing better than to have a cool pool to jump into but instead we have to make do with tiny paddling pools which, incidentally, are now also like rocking-horse poo on the high street!

3. I don't own enough summer clothing; I basically buy enough summer clothes for a weeks holiday because that's usually as much as I wear anything like shorts but now I'm wearing clothes on a rotational basis just because my choice is so limited without spending a fortune on clothes. Not going to lie I do spend 90% of the time around the house wearing the self same pair of shorts and a vest or t-shirt but going out and about is another issue altogether.

4. Chub rub. I don't care how fat or thin you are, I bet you know what chub rub is and it ain't pretty or comfortable. If you wear anything like dresses, skirts or short shorts which leave the top parts of your legs naked then you will experience chub rub. The less said about it the better but, ergh.

5. I literally do not want to even look at a roast dinner. Roast dinners are my absolute fave and I've now not had one for a good 2/3 months because I just can't face anything gravy based in this weather. All I'm eating is something and salad - just give me some weather that makes me want to load up on ALL the Yorkshire puddings, please!!

6. Still on the subject of food, although I may have been eating mainly salad based meals I've certainly made up for that with the amount of ice cream I have eaten. Over the past 3 months it's been more than I've eaten in the past 3 years. I've never been much of an ice cream lover, truth be told, the odd McFlurry now and again but nothing compares to the cartons upon cartons that I seem to have ploughed through recently. So much so that I have managed to discover that Asda, Tesco and Morrison's mint choc chip ice cream all pretty much looks and tastes the same.

7. The warmth just makes me not want to do anything, I don't want to move but then if I don't move for too long I feel like I'm cooking on the spot... it's like a never ending vicious circle of inescapable hotness. The sun naturally makes you want to get out and about but any lengthy walks in dresses/skirts causes the aforementioned 'chub rub' situation; you just can't win.

8. We have to continue to work in this heat; now there are some employers who are rich and considerate enough to invest in air-con systems but I can safely say that many places don't fall into that bracket and from my experience earlier on this week - B&M Bargains definitely can't afford it because their Doncaster store is HOT (so hot in fact that some of their fridges have packed in - presumably from sucking in all that hot air!). We shouldn't have to do it; I'm one of the lucky ones, I have 6 weeks off but pray for everyone in a non air-conditioned office or other workplace who are sweating their boobs off day in-day-out... and if you work in a kitchen - god help you!

9. I'm just so tired because sleeping is pretty much non-existent in this weather. There is no cold side of the pillow, having your leg out of the bed only serves to leave it open to the creatures living under the bed waiting to grab your exposed limbs and then by the time you've finally found a suitable temperature you're woken up by the birds chirping through the open window and the chink of light through the side of the blackout blind ensures that your hopes of any sleep are well and truly dashed.

10. Being in close proximity to other people becomes unbearable; I mean I'm a little bit anal about my personal space at the best of times but even touching my boyfriend has become limited to holding hands from afar and maybe a 5 minute cuddle with the fan blowing in our direction! I can't imagine how you feel if you've got a baby (or you're pregnant!!) in this weather because, seriously, I question whether I could bare having another person stuck to me day in-day out.

So tell me now, are you part of the 90% who now hate this weather or the 10% who are still absolutely loving it?

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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

HOME & LIFESTYLE: #REASONSTOSAVE WATER SAVING CHALLENGE WITH YORKSHIRE WATER

Ok, I'm going to be a typical Brit right now and state the obvious about how stupidly, ridiculously warm it is right now. Showers in this weather are EVERYTHING. Ice cold water in this weather is EVERYTHING. Investing in a sprinkler to water my poor newly-laid turf is... well ok it's not everything but I would quite enjoy nice green grass like my next door neighbour has annoyingly managed to cultivate *insert side-eye emoji*

But (there's always a but). There's 2 reasons why I've got to be careful with how much water I use:
  1. The heatwave has meant that as a country the UK are consuming A LOT more water than usual which will soon dry up our rivers so I feel a kind of personal responsibility not to contribute to that potential shortage which would have a huge impact on wildlife.
  2. I'm all about saving money, I have a water meter which could get very expensive very quickly because I'm charged for every drop of water I use. So I'm now working with Yorkshire Water to challenge myself to reduce my water usage.
The average person uses 140 litres of water per day; Yorkshire Water want to challenge customers to reduce their consumption to reduce their consumption to 90 litres per day by following their simple advice on saving water every day and using their free water saving pack which includes 4 simple fittings to help you save water:
  • Showersave - a screw on fitting that should regulate your shower to 8 litres of hot water per minute 
  • Shower timer - does what it says on the tin really, challenges you to only spend 4 minutes in the shower (!!) 
  • Tap Aerator Kit - aerates and reduces the flow from your taps by up to 70%
  • Save-A-Flush - Saves 1.2 litres every time you flush
If your water is provided by Yorkshire Water you can order one of these little water saving packs free of charge!

I've also got a few more tips and tricks that I'll be putting into practice over the next month to see if I can make a difference to my water consumption:



Will you be trying to cut down on your water usage?

This post is in collaboration with Yorkshire Water.
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Friday, 20 July 2018

ESSENTIAL BEAUTY: KIEHL'S ULTRA FACIAL CLEANSER

Guilty as charged. For a good 12 months I massively neglected my skin, I wet-wiped it every single day and although I'm a massive advocate of wet wipes rather than nothing I realised the importance of even a half decent skincare routine when I noticed my skin looking really dull and lack-lustre. Don't get me wrong I think tiredness and stress contributed to some of that but having spoken to an assistant in Sephora she made me realise that the fact that my skin wouldn't keep makeup looking decent probably was nothing to do with the fact that I didn't use primer (still bought one though obviously because: mini sizes strategically placed near the till!!!).

Anyway, I raised my concerns about not wanting anything too heavy and oily or at the other end of the spectrum: a cleanser that would strip my skin of all natural oils because I've had one too many bad experiences with cleansers that have caused problems, mainly breakouts. After trying plenty of different types I finally settled on the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser and I've been using it for a little over a month now so I thought it was the perfect time to share my thoughts.


Firstly can I just say that Kiehl's packaging is the one. I love how simplistic and no-nonsense it is. This squeezy bottle has all the ingredients and directions for use on the front which makes up the packaging design itself.

When I first tried this in the Sephora sinks I thought it was foaming which is an instant no go for me because I'm a firm believer that anything foaming strips your skin way too much but it's actually not foaming in the strictest sense, it's a gel kind of formula which is actually really soothing on the skin. It can't be used on your eyes which is a slight pain in the bum but because I really like the cleansing action of this I'm willing to overlook it. As with most cleansers you wet your face first, squeeze a small amount of product onto your fingertips and massage into your face with circular motions. I then rinse off with clean, warm water and then remove any excess product with a clean flannel.

The Kiehl's no-nonsense approach also extends to the ingredients and the lack of huge amounts of perfume etc. is clear in the scent of the cleanser - it smells soapy as opposed to overpoweringly fragranced which is reassuring. The foaming agent is a sugar derived glycoside which, without sounding like I know exactly what I'm talking about where ingredients are concerned, means that it doesn't strip the skin like regular foaming agents do so although my skin feels cleansed and makeup/dirt free after using it, it doesn't feel like it's squeaky clean (because as Caroline Hirons says: you should never aim for squeaky clean anything, whether it be skin or hair). It contains soothing emollients (things which soften the skin) such as apricot kernel oil, avocado oil and vitamin E to ensure that your skin doesn't feel starved of moisture after washing.

For me this is the perfect cleanser to use both morning and night for my normal/oily skin and (not surprisingly) I've found that it gives me the perfect base for applying makeup. Using this has given me a new found confidence to actually try other products from the Kiehl's brand so the Ultra Facial Cream is looking like a promising candidate when I've finished my current moisturiser. It also comes in two sizes on the Kiehl's website: 75ml (£9.50) which is the perfect travel size or if you want to kind of try before you buy or they also do the full size 150ml for £16.50 which doesn't break the bank too much where skincare is concerned.

Do you have a favourite cleanser?

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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

ESSENTIAL BEAUTY: WILKINSON SWORD INTUITION F.A.B RAZOR

So it might not be as glam as the release of a new contour palette but let's be right, the vast majority of us use razors for one thing or another and we are of course in prime shaving time given that our legs are out more than ever in this stupendous UK heatwave so when I saw the new Wilkinson Sword Intuition F.A.B razor on an advert I was quite intrigued. 

As an avid user of Gillette Venus razors I did wonder whether there was something as good, if not better, on the market (I did have a brief fling with some disposables from Aldi... that didn't end well). The Intuition F.A.B razor claims to be revolutionary in that it shaves backwards and forwards (hence the F.A.B...) so I thought I'd give it a whirl.



The design of the razor handle is really comfortable to hold, it doesn't slip out of your hand because of the soft rubber and the grooved grips help to give really good control over where your shaving which is obviously essential because it moves with the contours of your body without any awkwardness. 



The razor head itself is quite substantial in size and is surrounded by a water activated gel which for me is an absolute must because I find it provides so much more comfort when shaving because it doesn't pull or graze your skin even if you don't use loads of shaving gel/foam (I actually don't use shaving gel or foam I just use foaming shower gel which works just as well with a razor like this). It has 5 blades all together which ensures that you get a smooth, close, comfortable shave.  

The 'forward and back' element of this razor does take some time to get used to because obviously the natural movement is to just move one way but once you get used to the fact that you can actually shave backwards and forwards it makes things surprisingly easier than normal razors and I seemed to get a much closer shave (presumably because it's catching the hairs both ways so even the smallest of hairs get a close shave). I find that the F.A.B razor actually made shaving quicker because you don't have to lift it from your skin until you want to wet the razor.


At £11.99 for blade refills the price point is similar if not slightly cheaper than its main competitors, the initial outlay for the razor handle plus one blade is slightly higher than Venus (£11.99). Just a quick note aswell, you need to buy the specific F.A.B handle to use the backwards and forwards blades as they don't fit any other Wilkinson Sword handles. I'd definitely recommend this razor for anyone who's looking for a slightly quicker yet still comfortable and close shave.

18/07/2018 - Boots have an offer on Wilkinson Sword products where you can buy 2 for £10 so now would be the perfect time to pick a couple of these up if you're wanting to try it! Buy the F.A.B Razor here

Do you prefer refill or disposable razors?

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Friday, 15 June 2018

FOOD AND DRINK: MILLER & CARTER STEAKHOUSE DONCASTER SHARING EXPERIENCE

Steak is undoubtedly one of my absolute favourite meats. Decent steak that is. Fillet has to be my all time favourite cut, followed closely by rump along with all the trimmings and sauces. For me, meals don't get any better than that. Which is why Miller & Carter is one of my go-to restaurants for any kind of special occasion because as far as steakhouses are concerned, they have it pretty much nailed on perfect. You'd be forgiven for thinking that because it's a chain of restaurants that they will have compromised on quality one way or another but I can absolutely say the one in Doncaster is second to none. 

I have been previously but my most recent visit was with my boyfriend as a little celebration of it being a year since we met so effectively it was a bit of a treat date night. We decided before we got there that we were going to try the chateaubriand which neither of us had ever had before but I'd personally heard really good things about it from friends.

The overall experience from setting food into the restaurant to the end of our meal was so enjoyable and the food was absolutely amazing so let me get on with some food pics. (Note: I didn't take my 'proper' camera because in all honesty I didn't expect to take photos or indeed write about it but after leaving I really wanted to share my experience. The lighting isn't brilliant for photos but it is however very fitting for the feel of the restaurant.)


We started with the Taster Board which was beef & bourbon meatballs, sticky chilli-hoisin glazed chicken & duck wings, beef barbacoa mac & cheese, hand-cut nachos, buttermilk ranch dip and garlic bread. The mac & cheese really was something else. I'd never thought of putting beef with it but it really, really worked. Beef barbacoa is a little bit like pulled beef; really slowly cooked and then shredded and it comes with a number of the starter dishes but I can highly recommend it with mac & cheese. This sharer is perfect for two people, in all honesty I wouldn't particularly want to share it with more but you could probably share it between 4 as there was 4 of everything that could be portioned. 


Then the main event. The Chateaubriand which is a cut from the beef tenderloin which we had medium rare. It was absolutely delicious and came served with 2 portions of fries, 2 onion loaves (Miller & Carter's version of onion rings), 2 lettuce wedges with dressing and 2 steak sauces. To look at the board you may think it doesn't look like there's that much but trust me that piece of beef was thick! It was perfectly cooked and so tender. We would normally go for a fillet each but this didn't disappoint at all and it was really quite a nice experience to share it together. Another thing I must mention because it was so tasty was the beef dripping steak sauce. It is absolutely unreal. I'd never had it until tonight because whenever I thought beef dripping I just thought of a lump of lard and it made me wonder what I'd get if I got that steak sauce but it's actually a really rich, meaty, beefy gravy. I don't know what they do with it to get it to taste like that but it is so good!


I think because we'd saved ourselves all day for what we knew would be a huge meal we were able to fit in a pudding. Again we shared each one but I went for the banoffee pie and Kev chose the fresh berries and strawberry meringue. My personal preference was the banoffee and I think Kev would agree. The portion sizes were perfect and you could taste every little part of the banoffee pie from the biscuit base, to the toffee, to the bananas... so good!! The berry desert was also quite nice but in all honesty I would have preferred another scoop of the strawberry and prosecco sorbet instead of the meringue which was a little bit hard. 

Overall I cannot rave about Miller & Carter enough. They have restaurants all over the UK which you can find on their website and although I obviously can't speak for every restaurant but I can say that the Doncaster (Bessacarr) branch is top notch; the staff, the food; brilliant. One tip I do have though is that if you're going on a Friday or Saturday night make sure you book otherwise you run a very high risk of not being able to get a table!

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Thursday, 14 June 2018

HOME SCENTING: THE PERFECT HOUSEWARMING GIFT

I'm no stranger to a candle/reed diffuser or two; I have at least one if not more in every room of my house because I do like it to smell nice. I do think that for anyone who's just moved house either for the first time or to a different house, candles are a perfect go to housewarming present and the new Wax Lyrical Yvonne Ellen collection combines both beautiful scents and gorgeous designs to compliment any decor. 



Yvonne Ellen Votive Giftset £25.99 (Wax Lyrical)

The packaging shows of Yvonne Ellen's quirky illustrations but inside the Votive Giftset there are 3 votive candles each with a timeless, simple design which would suit any decor. In midnight blue, powder pink and grey/white they can either be split up into single candles or displayed as a trio. 

As you would expect, the scents are just as beautiful as the packaging; Wild Jasmine, Exotic Fig and Vintage Palm which are all gorgeous. My personal favourite is the Exotic Fig because the fig is nicely subtle but the tonka bean really comes through which I love... the perfect kind of fragrance for a bedroom. Wild Jasmine is more of a musky kind of scent but not in any way overpowering at all which is the beauty of the Wax Lyrical formulation because although they do fill the room with fragrance, they're not the kind of candles that would induce a headache thankfully. Finally Vintage Palm is a lovely fresh scent which would be perfect for any hallway or kitchen. Even when these candles aren't lit their scent is still noticeable which for me is a tell-tale sign of a good quality candle.

The beauty of these little votives is that whether you buy them as a treat for yourself or for someone else, it's the perfect introduction to Wax Lyrical. Each of the 3 candles is available in a larger version so if you found one in particular that you really enjoyed you could buy the full size version. All Wax Lyrical products are made in the UK with the highest quality ingredients so you can guarantee that you're getting an excellent quality product and you can be safe in the knowledge that you're supporting a British business. Also, all Wax Lyrical products are vegetarian friendly.

You can find the full Yvonne Ellen collection along with their other extensive range of home scenting products on the Wax Lyrical website.

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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

HOME & LIFESTYLE: WHAT TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE RENTING YOUR FIRST PROPERTY

As you may have already seen, I have recently bought my own house after a huge life change last year but I’m very aware that buying isn’t for everyone. For one reason or another, whether it’s that you haven’t quite saved enough for a full deposit, you want to trial living with someone or that you just don’t want to buy a house; ultimately you might choose to rent. But just like with buying a house there are lots of things that you’re going to want to consider when renting your first house.



Shop around and make sure you love it!

Almost all rental properties have a minimum term for renting; they usually start at 6 months so make sure that the property you rent is definitely the one for you because you’ll be paying for it for at least that minimum rental period. Don’t just jump straight into the first one you see, no matter how perfect you think it is because you need a basis for comparison. Try and fit your viewings into a fairly short space of time so you don’t miss out on the one you do like but do have a look at a few.

Check the terms and conditions

Before you sign anything, make sure you know the rules that your landlord would impose and what is included in the rental price. You need to ask whether any furniture or appliances are included, whether you are allowed to paint or wallpaper or indeed make any changes to the house at all and what procedures are if something goes wrong.

Take an inventory

So once you’ve decided on your perfect house, before you get too excited and sign on the dotted line make sure you got through the house with a fine-toothed comb. Ask the landlord or agent to allow you plenty of time to do this so you can identify anything that you would like rectifying before you move in – the carpets might not be in very good condition, the paintwork might need freshening up etc. etc. Make sure you know what you are getting before you sign anything because most properties are ‘let as seen’ which means that they may reserve the right to refuse to touch up paintwork or change things like carpets once you’ve signed the agreement.



Check details and terms of the bond/deposit
Make sure you know how much deposit you will be expected to put down and enquire about the terms of that deposit (ie. In which situations would you lose part or all of your deposit). It is also worth making sure the deposit is protected (by law if you are in an ‘assured shorthold tenancy, which you entered into before 6 April 2007, your deposit must be put into a protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it).

Get insurance!

Although your landlord or agent should have arranged adequate buildings insurance for the property, it is usually your responsibility to arrange contents and liability insurance for the time you’re renting. To cover your personal property and liability as a tenant you will need to take out separate insurance; you can either do this through someone like HomeLet who will provide up to £50,000 of cover for your contents so things like gadgets, clothes and appliances are protected against fire, theft and flood. The liability cover would protect you if you accidentally damage the property, which would result in you normally having to pay for the repairs.

Check the overall costs

So you rent sounds reasonable and you can easily afford it; but have you considered the price of your utilities, council tax and other monthly costs like broadband, mobile phone bill etc. You really need to make sure you've got all the facts before you enter into any contract. Generally with a quick google search you can get approximate figures for bills depending on the size of the house/flat and how many people are living in it but just make sure you don't get caught short!

Have you got any other tips for renting your first house?


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Sunday, 27 May 2018

FOOD & DRINK: PROPER YORKSHIRE GRUB AT THE YORK ROAST CO.

Established in 2004, the York Roast Co isn't actually a new thing to me in itself because I've been visiting York for a long time and their hot roast sandwiches have always been a favourite of mine when I've looked for something to eat either while I'm shopping or even while I'm out having a few. Roast dinners with all the trimmings have always been a favourite meal of mine so when Yorkshire Pudding wraps became a thing I was all over that and you can imagine my reaction when I was asked if I wanted to go and try one at the new Stonegate store where they have opened up a new seating area...




Unsurprisingly, the shop always has somebody in whether it's for a hot sandwich, a filled yorkshire pudding or what I went for - a Yorkshire Pudding wrap. You can of course take it away but if you want to take a minute to rest your feet, especially after a morning of sightseeing or shopping then the new upstairs seating area is perfect. Space is at a premium in York so it's actually quite nice to see that more places are taking advantage of upstairs space to offer customers somewhere to sit. 


As you can see the seating area is quite simple but theres plenty of tables and chairs and there's a bigger table overlooking Stonegate which is perfect for people watching! It isn't waiter/waitress service so you order your food as you normally would downstairs and take it upstairs on a tray. 


I daresay that this is one of the main things that lures people in - you can see all the meaty goodness through the window so effectively you see exactly what is going into your sandwich or Yorkshire pudding which I think is a real winner and I don't think us Brits can turn down any kind of roast especially when we've not slaved away over it!


The choice of meats is pork, turkey, beef and ham plus lots of little extras like roast potatoes with gravy, stuffing balls and crackling. We both went for beef Yorkshire pudding wraps with all the trimmings (veg, gravy and I had horseradish sauce) with a side of roast potatoes covered in gravy... I'll not lie, getting a photo of this kind of food that does it justice is really quite difficult but I can assure you that it was every bit as tasty as you would expect...





Admittedly it doesn't look the prettiest of things but for me that just screams Yorkshire - no heirs and graces just a good old Yorkshire pudding filled with meat, stuffing, vegetables and gravy. It was surprisingly easy to eat despite the fact that it involved gravy which can be notoriously messy and it was sooo nice! The beef was very lean and tender, the vegetables were cooked to perfection and the gravy was nice and thick (if there's one thing that makes me sad, it's thin gravy!). The Yorkshire pudding of course was the shall we say 'vessel' for all of this and it was amazing! Something different to your usual meat sandwich and it was really filling.

I would 100% recommend The York Roast Co. in a heartbeat and in particular their Yorkshire pudding wraps. They do have other stores in Chester, Shrewsbury and Salisbury so you might not be as far away from a Yorky Pud Wrap as you think!

Have you tried one yet?

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