The Quest for my Perfect Smile

There any many things I wish I had been better at in my 20’s. Taking my make up off every night (no matter how many cocktails had been consumed!), saving money, even considering my career more carefully. Perhaps those subjects can be addressed in future blog posts. But another area I probably neglected was dental care. It’s hardly the most glamorous side of beauty but OMG is it important. To state the obvious, you only get one set of (adult) teeth. Not only are there massive health implications of not caring for your mouth but cosmetic and financial too (even NHS charges for dental work can be astronomical!) So when Sensodyne contacted me offering to make me part of their Pronamel campaign it inspired me to share the steps I take in my quest to keep my smile healthy (and mine is far from perfect, so it is a work in progress still!)

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Brush, floss and use mouthwash daily.

Hardly revolutionary I know. But the choice of products is really important to me now. Gone are the days when I simply buy the cheapest option available and now I pay attention to the ingredients and benefits of the product just as I would with skincare. I reviewed a toothbrush a while back (here) and am still using this now (having replaced it 3 monthly of course!) The Pronamel products sent to me by Sensodyne have also been added to my list of favourites and I have repurchased them multiple times. The mouthwash is the first one I’ve used that doesn’t make my gums feel like they are on fire while still feeling effective and tasting minty fresh. As for the toothpaste, it is the first one I’ve used for sensitive teeth that actually tastes decent and doesn’t feel like you are brushing your teeth with powder. The enamel protecting formula clearly works too as at a recent trip to the dentist I was complimented on my enamel!

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6 monthly dentist appointments.

Yawn right?! But if you want your teeth to look good when you do yawn, that is how often you need to go! My dental practice now allows you to book appointments six months in advance meaning I can make my next appointment each time I visit, and pop it in my iPhone diary so that I don’t forget to turn up!

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Use straws!

Even supposedly healthy drinks can damage your enamel and so many have the tendency to stain. Now, I have not researched to see if using a straw to drink from definitely helps but it seems logical right? I’ve even been known to sip coffee through a straw (be careful with this one though!) but generally I use this method for drinking fruit juices and smoothies.

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Look after your lips.

Because your smile is not just about your teeth. I’ve spoken about my favourite lip care products countless times on my YouTube channel and here on the blog but here’s a quick reminder. The ELF lip exfoliator is the best I have found for the price and smells amazing. When it comes to lip balm and treatments I recommend a lanolin based formula, especially for those with dry and sensitive skin. My favourite are Dr Lipp and Lanolips.

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Flattering make up products.

It’s well known in the beauty world that a blue toned red lip colour does wonders for making your teeth look whiter.  Favourites in my collection include Mac Ruby Woo (a classic) and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Red (also a classic).

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Gym Wear Wish List 2017

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With all the retailers jumping on the January bandwagon for fitness, it has been a great time to shop (or window shop!) for gym fans. So today I am sharing my top picks from the workout wear that has caught my eye this month…

Ivy Park Logo Crew Neck Sweatshirt – £28

Cover ups are just as important as what is underneath! And I don’t just mean in terms of style, I need something warm to cover up with when leaving the gym and getting hit by the cold winter air. I love the quality of Ivy Park gear since first trying the brand when it launched (first impressions can be found on my YouTube channel here) and this dark grey colour will go with (almost) everything in my work out wardrobe.

Victoria’s Secret Incredible Sport Front Close Bra – £33.18

I own a couple of Sports bras from the brand already, and the high impact ones are excellent for keeping everything in place while remaining comfortable! Even better, this front closing option means you don’t have to be a contortionist to get in and out of it. Surprisingly great size range too (32A – 40DDD). Worth every penny.

Red Herring Teal Racer Back Vest – £16

I love a slogan on my gym tops to keep me motivated and this teal colour has me longing for spring. The unusual racer back also gives it an added edge making it great value for money.

Nike Metcon 3iD Customisable Trainers – £135

Yep, you read that right these trainers are customisable. There are countless options to make them personal to you and I spent ages on the website choosing this pair! You can chose the colour, patterns, laces and even add logos and initials. Nike are by far the most comfortable trainers I can find (I have three pairs already!) so all things considered the price is totally justified.

Sweaty Betty Navasana Mesh Crop Leggings – £65

Mesh flooded the work out wear market last year and it looks set to stay. I can see why, as the mesh not only adds to the style but is functional too – allowing for more breathing space during a sweaty session. The geometric pattern on this Sweaty Betty pair are also bound to be super flattering.

 

 

17 in 2017 – setting achievable goals

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New Year’s resolutions are so passé. Goals (or #goals) are the way forward! Last year I teamed up with a group of bloggers/vloggers and we set ourselves 10 achievable tasks for 2016. I actually loved the experience. I didn’t achieve them all, but reflecting on why has given me new focus, and being able to tick so many off the list has definitely given me a boost. Leah XL is leading the way with this year’s version ’17 in 2017′ (because we like to aim high!) Some of us will be writing posts, and some making videos. They will all be linked at the end of this post, so make sure to go and give them some love (and tell them I sent you!)

1. Go to New York

I thought why not start big?! I have wanted to visit the big apple for as long as I can remember, and my husband and me have been planning a theoretical trip there for more than three years! I want this year will be the year we finally get there.

2. Keep going with the fitness

No specific goal. No specific aim for weight/muscle mass/exercise frequency. Just to keep up my motivation and work out often enough to make me feel good.

3. Speak to my sister every week

My ‘baby’ sister is moving to Australia in 6 days time *sobs*. I know how easy it is for time to pass before realising you haven’t been in touch with someone for a while, so I want to make sure I am in touch with her on a regular basis. As with my goals last year, WhatsApp will be my best friend!

4. Eat vegetables with every meal

I got inspiration for this one from my sister in law, Rachel (her blog is linked here). When she signed up to the gym I go to, the personal trainer set her a challenge to eat vegetables with every meal. I eat A LOT of vegetables but rarely with breakfast, especially during the week when I am working. Now is the time to change that!

5. Save for Christmas

Every year I make the same mistake. I get to November and realise I don’t have enough money to buy everybody’s Christmas presents. Cue a mad rush every December payday! I always tell myself that due to all my bills, there is no other way of doing things. But in truth I just need to be more organised. I have opened a new savings account dedicated to Christmas so no more excuses.

6. Reach 1000 subscribers on YouTube

Engagement is what is more important to me so I would rather have more views, lots of comments and a community feel on my channel, but subscriber numbers is the easiest measurement to monitor. I am sitting at 858 as I write this so hope I can get to 1000 by the end of 2017.

7. Read 3 books

Leah set herself this task last year. I thought it was a great one, so I am stealing it! I love reading, but just don’t do it enough. I used to commute on the London Underground for 90 minutes a day, giving me the perfect opportunity to get lost in a book. I drive to work now, but I want to find time to get back into reading so something else will have to give!

8. Invest in a new camera

I film all my videos and take most of my blog photos on an almost 3 year old basic Sony compact camera. It has served it’s purpose but I am now seriously lagging behind the times. I feel I could really improve my content with better quality pictures so 2017 needs to be the year I invest in a new camera. Look out for better quality photos and videos around March time, when I hope to have saved enough money for one!

9. Buy less coffee!

I love coffee. I also work next door (almost) to a Costa. I dread to think how much I spend in there in a year! I cut down for a while, after I bought a Dolce Gusto machine and was taking coffee with me. I got out of this habit, so need to get back into it again. I got an amazing Friends themed travel mug for Christmas, so now is the perfect opportunity.

10. Keep my capsule wardrobe going

It has been over a year since I decided to give the capsule wardrobe a go (and I blogged about it along the way). I have found a way to make the concept work for me which, in a nutshell, is seasonal rotations and a ‘one in, one out’ policy. I want to keep this up.

11. Go to an official blogger/vlogger event

I could pretend I have been invited to countless events but I haven’t! I have been invited to some, but have never been able to attend as they have been during my working hours. I would love to get more involved with the whole blogging scene, network more and see what really goes on at an event!

12. Visit more UK cities

Following on from last year and my successful trip to Bath, I want to explore more UK cities. York is on my list, and I would love to see Edinburgh again. Any other recommendations in the comments please!

13. Donate more

I think most of us could do more when it comes to charity. I regularly donate to charity shops and there are certain things I always do (such as donate to the poppy appeal), but I want to make donating to charity a more regular thing. Even if it means putting a little change in the charity boxes every time I walk past them. It all counts.

14. Complete another ‘fun run’

I loved doing the Pretty Muddy 5K by Race for Life last year, and I would love to do something even more challenging next time.

15. Finish watching Peaky Blinders

We almost got to the end of series one, and absolutely loved it. Then randomly, we just stopped watching. I have no idea why. If you are yet to see it and a 1920’s gangster drama sounds like your thing – watch it! It is worth it just for Cillian Murphy to be honest!

16. Finally sort out contact lenses

I have worn glasses for years and I am not particularly a fan of how I look in them. I keep meaning to sort out contact lenses but never seem to get around to it (because – boring!). I must get them sorted this year.

17. This one is a secret!

It is personal and just for me but something I have been thinking about for ages, and have decided that 2017 will be the year I take the plunge. If I do, I promise to blog about it!

 

The others…

Leah XL

Leahs’ video

The Clare Necessities

Clare’s post

 

 

10 Achievable Tasks for 2016 – Final Update!

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Happy New Year everyone! I have been a bit absent from the blog for a while, mainly because all my efforts were put into Vlogmas over on my YouTube channel for the last part of the year. What better way to kick off January than by reflecting on the 10 achievable tasks I set myself at the beginning of 2016? I got together with a group of vlogger/bloggers for this challenge (here) and gave you an update in August (here) and I was doing OK! We plan to set ourselves some new challenges for 2017 (all to be revealed very soon!) but for now I am rounding up my progress from 2016.

1. Contact friends and family every day – ACHIEVED!

I was happy in August when I posted an update that I had achieved this, and I am pleased that I have kept it up. I would like to have more old fashioned long phone conversations in 2017 but WhatsApp is definitely a godsend for busy people!

2. Reach 200 followers on Bloglovin – so close!

For me, growth on Bloglovin has been extremely slow and despite setting what I thought was an achievable target, I am still a few followers off 200. But, that’s OK! Like I said in August, this is simply a hobby and I only write when I have both the time and inspiration, so I am not expecting to hit the big numbers. On the plus side, I have seen increase in traffic to my blog month on month. Those numbers may still be minuscule to some, but as long as I am writing content that someone wants to read, I am happy 🙂

3. Start a weekly make up rotation – Still going strong!

I have kept this up all year! It has been a great way to get good use out of my make up, use up some products and re-discover lost gems. I highly recommend it for anyone who has a large make up collection.

4. Renovate our bedroom – NOPE!

We are terrible at spending time and money on our home and despite having lived here for almost nine years we still haven’t renovated our bedroom (as we had planned to when we first moved in!) However, we have bought new furniture, had our plug sockets relocated (thank you Father-in-Law!) and got quotes for plastering so, you know, progress!

5. Make time for Headspace – still a fail!

I explained in August that this was a fail from the start as I haven’t used the app at all this year. I wanted to use it regularly to help me relax, unwind and sleep better. In August I was colouring regularly instead but to be honest I haven’t really kept that up since. Maybe 2017 will be the year I finally learn to relax!

6. Visit a different UK city – ACHIEVED!

I had already achieved this in August, having visited Bath the month before. I fell in love and will definitely be going back. I would love to explore more of the UK in 2017 too.

7. Restart social media free nights – kind of?!

Going ‘unplugged’ for one night a week was my original goal. It hasn’t really been a routine I have gotten into BUT we do make an effort in our house to say “right that’s it, no more screen time tonight” at a certain time to make sure we actually talk to each other. I spend a lot of time on social media, partly due to this blog and my YouTube channel so I find it important to disconnect from it all now and then.

8. Listen to 5 albums – ACHIEVED!

I wanted to do this to rekindle my love for music and it worked! I have actually listened to more than 5 albums in 2016. I have been bought a few by my music-mad friend, and signed up to Spotify which has helped. My favourite of the year is still We Come From the Same Place by Allo Darlin’ (who have since announced they are no longer making music – boo!)

9. Eat less takeaways – ACHIEVED!

I haven’t cut them out completely but am often only having them once a month now, which is a huge improvement from 2015! My diet has had a bit of an overhaul in general and I have seen the benefits. I am no angel – I still love my coffee, chocolate and desserts in most formats, but on the whole am making much better food choices and feel so much better for it.

10. Try a new gym class – ACHIEVED!

By August last year I had tried Boogiebounce and Anti-gravity yoga, and I still go to these every week. I have since tried a couple of new classes at the gym including Bodypump (ouch!) and definitely get the most intense burn when working out in a group.

Check back in on 8th January to see what goals I am setting for 2017…

 

 

Getting to know Charlie Feist

When Emma, from Charlie Feist, got in touch with me back in June via Instagram the brand was yet to launch, but I was immediately drawn to their aesthetic. I waited patiently, following their Instagram like an excited child waiting for Father Christmas. I wasn’t disappointed when their first collection dropped in September. I am now the proud owner of one of their backpacks, and very much doubt it will be the last! I’ve been so impressed by the Charlie Feist and by Emma’s professionalism, passion for the brand plus her understanding of what blogging is all about, I am proud to say I am now a brand ambassador having signed up to their affiliate programme.  Keep an eye out on my YouTube channel for an unboxing video, coming later this week. But for now, let’s get to know Charlie Feist in my interview with Emma…

Click here to shop with Charlie Feist!*

Tell me a bit about yourself and the brand Charlie Feist.

We are team of two full-time staff and with 3 part-time members not counting the fulfilment team at the warehouse. I manage social media marketing for the brand while the founder of the brand; Subal looks after the design and production end of things.

How and why did you come up with the name Charlie Feist?

During our preppy wardrobe days of structured navy blazers and crisp blue oxford button-downs, we were obsessed with Hunter boots. And we thought that rubbery material would be perfect to make a backpack since it’s waterproof and hardy. We began researching around the lifestyle of a hunter. Looking at several images of hunters, we began noticing that almost always a dog would accompany them. What followed was a weeklong research of names of hunting dog breeds. After going through several of the usual suspects and variations of spaniels, beagles, etc. we stumbled upon the “Charlie Feist” which is named after a hunting dog. Immediately we fell love in with the name because it kind of has the sound of a human. Both Subal and I are WAY too self-conscious to have our own names plastered on the product!

As a start-up company I remember you getting in touch with me earlier in the year. What has been your progress? Can you talk me through the stages?

It’s become almost cliché to disregard the “build it and they will come” adage. But this is disregarded for a reason especially in 2016. To think that our product is SO good that it could bubble up from all the noise out there is ludicrous. From the get, we were amply clear that we couldn’t launch to crickets. We knew that when we opened our digital doors, we needed to have a warm audience who was excited about the launch. With this in mind, we began talking about the brand on Instagram.

What is the history behind the brand?

The idea of a well-designed backpack has been with us since 2014, but it was only in 2015 when after many failed production samples, we finally created the product that we could stand behind.

One of the first things I noticed when you got in touch is the minimalist yet luxury feel of the brand. From what sources have you drawn inspiration?

It’s funny you say luxury when the starting point of the brand is £59! We always wanted to keep our price accessible since we wanted more people to enjoy our products. When designers get asked the question about where did they get their inspiration from, you probably hear a long-winded answer mostly involving an era that you wouldn’t have heard of and it goes above the heads of most people. I won’t do that. Our inspiration is the works of great brands like Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and a bit of Zara and River Island! Having said that, these different elements have to be combined to form an aesthetic that appeals to you. I think a lot of designers work in this way, but are some a bit afraid to talk about it.

What has been the most difficult part of the Charlie Feist process?

For us, the part that we don’t control has been most difficult for us, i.e. manufacturing. Finding factories that can make a quality bag has been a big challenge. Since none of us comes from a design or fashion background, we literally had to rip open bags just to learn about different materials and fabrics. Certainly a test of persistence.

What has been the most rewarding moment?

Getting a quality bag made! (Playing off your previous question!). But that would be at micro level. At the macro level, I find myself doing the thing that I truly love. I have started to love Mondays. No more TGIF or ‘live for the weekend’ anymore. The level of confidence and zest for life that I find in myself is certainly the biggest reward.

What are your goals and plans with the brand? Where do you see the brand in 5 years time?

For the moment, we are focusing 100% on making beautiful utilitarian backpacks. Five years is such a long time to predict where we will be!

How important is the vegan element of Charlie Feist to you? How do you see the brand also appealing to non-vegans? (like me!)

 This is a great question and we get asked this all the time. As animal lovers (especially puppies), we could not allow ourselves to use animal products such as leather or fur in our product. However, we don’t resort to in-your-face marketing or shaming those who don’t share our belief. We don’t judge anyone’s dietary choices.

Name a person or a company who inspires you.

COS is an inspirational brand as their art direction is always on point and they have a very clear understanding of who their customer is.

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This content is not sponsored. Links marked with * are affiliate links.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only way to drink water!

dsc00605eI’m keen on exercise and in the past found myself going through bottles of mineral water like nobody’s business. Not only was that expensive, but terrible for the environment. I then moved on to reusable plastic bottles. I found these prone to staining and they usually left an unusual taste in my mouth. Worse, more often than not they fell apart in the dishwasher – not great for this un domestic goddess!! Then two months ago, glass water bottles with silicone sleeves (catchy, I know) walked into my life. I’ve been using this for the gym, exercise classes, at home and at work and I’m converted! This one is by the brand Apana, which appears to be mainly available in the US, but I picked this up in TK Maxx for just a tenner. There are plenty of alternatives available on Amazon too. Read on to find out why I fell in love.

The water really does taste better – honestly it does! Fresher and it also stays cool for longer. I don’t think this is a placebo effect either. If you search BPA and phthalates (commonly found in plastic containers) there is certainly opinion out there that these can change the taste and quality of the water contained in them.

It’s (almost) indestructible – I’ve put this through the dishwasher almost every day and it looks as good as new.

Great for the clumsy ones among us – The silicone sleeve gives it amazing grip meaning even the more accident prone (that’s me!) will find it difficult to drop.

Looks as good as it performs – I don’t think I’ve ever had compliments on a water bottle before! So many people have asked me where I found it before rushing off to TK Maxx to get themselves one!

If I had to offer a down side, the bottles are naturally more heavy than their plastic counter parts so may not be ideal for some types of exercising including road running.

My Capsule Wardrobe – 1 year on

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Exactly a year ago I wrote about my venture into the capsule wardrobe concept, and I’ve been posting updates along the way (all previous posts are linked below). Now, after having given myself a pat on the back for sticking to it for all this time, I’m sharing the lessons I have learnt after 12 months and how I plan to apply the principals to my wardrobe moving forward…

Be flexible

This has to be my biggest and most important lesson and it is relevant in more ways than one. My original plan was to create a 37 piece wardrobe to be switched up each season. The weird and wonderful British weather threw a spanner in the works here, meaning I had to do the change-over at times I hadn’t expected to or planned to. I also originally planned to incorporate my “going out out” clothes into my capsule wardrobe. On reflection, I do this so infrequently that very dressy items took up valuable space in the limited collection and they were only worn once or twice over the course of a few months (if that). Moving forward, I have a few pieces separate from my main wardrobe for special occasions and plan to operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy to my main collection. I will still rotate items out of storage as the weather changes but when I am tempted by a new purchase at other times, providing I have thought it through, I will allow myself to buy it on the condition that an existing piece is rotated out and either put back into storage, sold or donated.

Layering is your friend

Talking of unpredictable weather, I have definitely realised that it is important to buy pieces that can be layered. Not only does this mean the wardrobe can outlast changeable temperatures, it also provides a bigger variety of looks meaning you are less likely to get bored of your collection.

You do develop a style

The interesting thing about having a capsule wardrobe is that when you do shop, you get very picky. Whereas a previous changing room thought process may have involved little actual thought and resulted in a lot of emotional purchases, nowadays each item is scrutinised heavily! Does it fit perfectly? Is it flattering? Will I wear it regularly? Does the shade fit my current colour palette? Is it well made and does it feel good quality? This level of scrutiny has definitely resulted both consciously and sub-consciously developing a style,  or the ‘every day uniform’ I had read so much about but never really fully understood until now!

It is still a work in progress

If I was feeling in a corny mood I would say something like “it’s a journey not a destination” and it would be true! My Summer capsule wardrobe was my least enjoyed so far (for various reasons including poor planning) but this only enabled me to make a better job of it next time around, meaning my love for the capsule wardrobe has been rekindled and that my current Autumn wardrobe is my favourite yet! I’m bound to make further errors of judgement and need to make more changes to the way I approach it (like I said – it is important to be flexible!) but to me that is part of the beauty of the whole concept – you can choose to apply the parts that work for you and adapt it to suit your lifestyle.

Previous capsule wardrobe posts…

Trying out the capsule wardrobe – the ‘Un-fancy’ way

My Capsule Wardrobe – lessons and Winter updates

3 Spring Trends – for a capsule wardrobe

My Capsule Wardrobe – the Winter to Spring transition

My Capsule Wardrobe – most worn this Summer