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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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…

 

 

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

 

10 Achievable Tasks for 2016 – Update

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At the beginning of the year myself and a group of bloggers and vloggers set ourselves 10 achievable tasks for 2016. You can read my original post here. Today at just over halfway through the year I’m bringing you an update. As you’ll see I’ve achieved some, am on my way to achieving  others, and have completely failed in at least one!

1. Contact friends and family every day – ACHIEVED! (But could do better)

In the modern age of technology there is no excuse to not keep in touch. Whether it be by phone calls, texts, WhatsApp message, Twitter, Snapchat or any other medium I am in touch with friends and family every day. So yes, I’ve achieved what I set out to (although of course will keep it up!) However, sitting to write this has enabled me to reflect and realise there are certainly people I need to make more of an effort to speak to on a regular basis so am giving myself a kick up the bum starting with calling one of my best friends for a catch up today.

2. Reach 200 followers on Bloglovin – getting there slowly

I set myself this modest target because (as you might have noticed) I am a bit of a flaky blogger. It’s a hobby and therefore I never want it to feel like a chore. This means I only post when I both have the inspiration and the time, which isn’t that often! I’m sitting at 185 followers at the moment so still have time to reach this target by the end of the year. If you don’t already follow me on Bloglovin it would be great if you click the button on my homepage to help a girl out!

3. Start a weekly make up rotation – ACHIEVED!

Every Sunday I select my makeup products for the week and place them in a basket. These are the products I use all week. It’s become such a habit that I do it without thinking. It has been a great way to discover old favourites and make the most out of my collection.

4. Renovate our bedroom – Not yet!

Eight and a half years down the line our bedroom has still barely been touched. In our defence we have had a new kitchen fitted this year (although that still hasn’t been fully completed!) What can I say, we just aren’t the home renovating kind. There always seems to be something more exciting to spend our time and money on!

5. Make time for Headspace – COMPLETE FAIL! But it’s OK

Having discovered this guided meditation app last December I was determined to use it four times a week to get some relaxing me time. Want to know how many times I’ve used it in total since writing the original post? ZERO! I even deleted the app last week to make space on my iPhone. However, I have taken up colouring as a relaxation method so although I have not technically achieved this task, I have found an alternative way to unwind so I don’t feel bad about it at all.

6. Visit a different UK city – ACHIEVED!

As I write this I am recovering from a busy but amazing hen weekend in Bath. A beautifully unique city that I will definitely return to.

7. Restart social media free nights – not quite

My aim was to have social media banned at home one evening a week and to be honest this hasn’t happened (I blame my discovery of Snapchat!) However, we are still having them occasionally and I highly recommend them – there is nothing like good old fashioned conversation to pass the time!

8. Listen to 5 albums – On track (pun intended!)

I have actually surprised myself with this one! As much as I wanted to listen to more music my lifestyle means I rarely have the time to sit and ‘just be’. But by being inspired by a friend’s passion for music, listening to an album on a long car journey and making use of Spotify I’m on my way to my target. I’ve listened to three different albums so far this year which to many of you probably doesn’t sound much but before that I can’t even remember the last time I did this. Favourite so far? We come from the same place by Allo Darlin’ – beautiful.

9. Eat less takeaways – ACHIEVED!

I’ve kicked the bad habits I slipped into at the end of last year. Takeways are now (almost) exclusively reserved for weekends and even then I’m not having them every weekend. *smug face*

10. Try a new class at the gym – ACHIEVED!

OK, the new classes I’ve tried aren’t technically at my gym but at a fitness centre but that still counts in my book. I now regularly attend a few different classes including Boogie Bounce, Weighted Hula and Anti-gravity and can honestly say they have rekindled my love for exercising. Mission accomplished!

 

 

The 5 Best Disneyland Paris Attractions for Adults (in my opinion!)

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It’s no secret that despite the fact I’m rapidly approaching my mid-thirties, I’m a die hard Disneyland Paris fan. Judge me if you like, but I find it to be one of the few places you can visit for a few days to immerse yourself in a childhood fantasy land and literally forget everything that’s stressing you out in the ‘real world’. Yes, it is probably a love or hate kind of attraction but I’m guessing that if you have clicked on this link and read this far, you are in the love camp. I’ve already posted my tips for couples planning a trip to the parks (linked here) and after I rekindled my love affair with a recent visit, now I’m sharing my favourite five attractions at the parks for adults (because like I said in my previous post, Disneyland Paris is not just for kids!)

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

This is hands down my favourite ride at the parks, and I’ve been a fan ever since I first experienced it at Walt Disney World, Florida over 20 years ago (eek!) It’s a high thrill ride where you are immersed into the fictional world of the ‘Twilight Zone’ (as in the TV movie from the nineties) that somehow has managed not to appear dated like some other rides based on films from a relatively vintage year (I’m looking at you Star Tours). It’s the only ride I still get nervous about when queuing despite having been on it more times than I can count. It’s a simple concept, as it really only involves being ‘dropped’ rather than any twists, turns or a high speed coaster scenario but the set up, theme and element of suspense make this, for me, the attraction with the biggest adrenaline rush.

Dreams

Dreams is Disneyland Paris’ end of day show. Obviously, this is a family friendly attraction but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s really just for the kids. Cliché as this sounds, it has to be seen to be believed; set at Sleeping Beauty’s castle it involves music, fireworks, pyrotechnics and water and leaves me in awe at the creativity and work that goes into it.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

I never really bought into the concept of ‘dinner and show’ events until I saw this one! Yes, you have to pay extra money on top of your park ticket and I don’t go to this every time I visit but it really is worth a look. Again, it’s fun for all the family but if you are visiting as adults without children, you are definitely not out of place; there have been almost as many couples as there have been families when we have been. Expect an hour and a half of cheesy but good old fashioned audience participation, wild west themed fun with a surprisingly good quality meal too.

Ratatouille

This is the newest ride at the parks, and can be found in the ToonLand section of the studios. It opened in 2014 so was the only ride I hadn’t tried before when we visited earlier this month. Being relatively new, and also being pretty pioneering in it’s design (for Europe anyway) it’s hugely popular so get there early or use the FastPass option to avoid queuing for well over an hour. If you are not into your ‘white knuckle’ rides you will be fine; without giving away any spoilers its a 4D, trackless ride inside a ‘Ratmobile’ based on the film. But it’s a kids film so surely aimed at children you say? We rode this several times and only once was there someone under the age of 18 in our Ratmobile!

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith

I still struggle to understand how this ride has any relevance to Disney, but I don’t care as it’s incredible! Definitely one for the thrill seekers. Wikipedia tells me that it’s the fastest roller coaster in Paris accelerating from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds allowing you to experience 3.5 G’s at the first inversion, which is apparently more than an astronaut does on a space shuttle launch! That should be a draw enough alone for coaster fanatics but what makes this even more fun for me is the cleverly chosen clips of Aerosmith music that come blasting out of the speakers under your seat and next to your head throughout the ride. You can’t help but head bang or sing along despite being thrown upside down (each of the five coasters has a different sound track too!)