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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Competition time! Win with Sweaty Betty...

Some of you may or may not follow my other fitness-y type blog over at AmIReallyRunning? but for those of you who don't (naughty naughty people) there is a competition to bag yourself £150 worth of Sweaty Betty vouchers....

Here are the details:

Being part of Sweaty Betty’s new fitness collective, The Fit Crowd, is an incredible experience - being part of something that is pushing boundaries for women in fitness is something that is really close to my heart. As a self proclaimed runner who is taking some much needed time off running, I am still getting myself out there and cycling every day and pushing my all round fitness with cardio box and body combat classes aswell as throwing in home workout dvds! 
Now as a little bit of a treat, because you lovely ladies are still getting out there and working hard DESPITE the terrible weather and feeling of wanting to eat the earth (cake anyone?) Sweaty Betty are offering you a chance to win £150 worth of vouchers to spend on getting glam during your workouts in their ‘SWEAT AND SNAP CHALLENGE’
All you have to do is simply show us your favourite work out outfit and tweet he picture to @SweatyBetty_UK using the hashtag #TheFitCrowd it really is as simple as that! Now go forth, get your fitness gear on and get tweeting!
*competition open until 31st March*

Now get yourself snapping and tweet away! The easiest competition EVER!

Monday, 25 March 2013

On the radar: Boo and Boy - Keeping things personal

I'm not an art lover, I'm more of a wordy person, I guess it goes without saying as I have a blog right? but for me, the written word explains who I am. I dont buy art work: pictures of fields, flowers or naked bodies and I dont really know my Cezanne from my Renoir but what I do like is typography... and lots of it. I love seeing big bold words, putting it out there how I'm feeling, or about who I am, I dont like mincing my words, I'm a complicated person, and typography prints get me and they display it well. I work in organised chaos and by that I mean I like working around stuff that makes me smile, laugh, remember and inspire. Around my workspace I have random photos, postcards and special words and meanings - I wont win any awards for my style, but it is very me.

On my radar lately is typography prints with a difference, a personalised difference.

Boo and Boy is print perfection and was born out of love from Mr and Mrs B (the lovely Laura from Are we Nearly There Yet? blogger fame) Boo and Boy have a simple philosophy that works: creating design pieces that bring you closer to friends and loved ones. I loved the quirkiness of this site and their designs. For me, I've seen way too many typography pieces that try too hard to teach me about the meaning of life and it's lessons, when in fact Boo and Boy  do they opposite and let me create pieces of printwork that celebrate me, my life and my vices (gin anyone?) it's different. Aside from the quirkiness and nice prints, this website feels personalised whilst creating your personalised print.

I am the lucky owner of my own Boo and Boy print and I have a print that pretty much says it ALL about me...

I adore moustaches, I am the owner of moustache shoes, necklaces and now my own print, and all I need now is my own 'tache... oh wait..
I love my Boo and Boy print because it gets people talking, it screams 'ME' and well, after I get it lovingly framed (which you can do via the website) it will go pride of place in my workspace - inspiration guaranteed.

I have already set my eyes on the next personalised prints: 'My Only Vice' where I can personalise my vices (I am the proud owner of too many) and 'Tea - making life easier one cup at a time' because lets face it, its TRUE.

Aside from treating yourself, which I really think you should do, Boo and Boy is so perfect for those pressie ideas - no more naff, throw-away presents. And to make it that little bit more enticing (like you need a reason) you can claim 10% off every order with FREE postage just by entering the following code at the checkout: B&B-RB-10+P&P valid until 30th April 2013 so go go go!

What do you think of typography prints?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Tried and Tested: Soak Yourself - dream baths?

I have spoken repeatedly about the 'thing' I have for baths. I mean the depth of love I have for baths, some people haven't ever experienced - for me, it is proper 'me' time, the one chance I can switch off the laptop, leave the phone in the bedroom, light some candles and just relax.

I am and probably always will be a Radox bath kinda girl - I have tried all their variations and think they are good for the more everyday baths but come a Friday and after cycling to and from work all week, and several cardio box classes later, my muscles are well and truly calling out for something more (new legs possibly?) I got a tweet from the lovely people at Soak Yourself asking if I'd like to give their new bathing experience a go, you dont have to ask me twice!

Soak Yourself was thought up by Jackie Hope in 2006 with the aim to get us to remember how important it is to look after ourselves and allowing ourselves to have some 'pamper time' to recharge our batteries and reconnect with ourselves, an ethos I can mostly def get on board with, and from this ethos Soak Yourself has created handmade pamper boxes, with ingredients soured solely from the UK for us to literally do as they say: take time out. I often find myself going at a million miles an hour with everything in life, that I have regular crash and burn intervals, and since the beginning of 2013 it's been happening almost weekly. Soak Yourself has come at a time when in fact I really do need to make allowances for me.

I was kindly sent the 'Muscle Soak' box which is made up of rejuvenating salts and oils to soothe limbs and restore tired bodies - and yes, its suitable for you men too! Along with a box that was ram-packed full of goodies, it came with a full instruction booklet telling you how to create the 'experience' I like the whole idea of turning my boring bath into an experience.  Firstly it smelt so amazing: kind of spa-like, but strong scents of eucalyptus  lavender and rosemary hit me, and yes, I totally done that whole 'big sniff' into the box thing. Following my bath Ritual instructions was easy, in fact I totally enjoyed getting myself in this proper 'relaxation' mood, I even kicked out the ever so nosey HTB when he asked what the hell I was doing as I was lighting candles, sprinkling all sorts in the tub!

Along with the lovely essentials oils, salts, leaves, you get a rather gorgeous candle and holder AND, you'll have to know me to realise how happy this made me, but 4 Early grey teabags to make yourself a brew whilst taking part in this relaxation! Happy Sarah. Now on to the nitty gritty, did the product work?

A resounding yes.

As far as creating a 'time-out' and an 'experience', it worked wholly and fully. I feel I allowed myself to spend that time just for me instead of the normal 'quick in, quick out' bath routine. As for the products helping sore, tired muscles? Yes and YES! I have never actually taken a bath that has made my legs especially feel like new. I struggle with real tightness in my muscles and a build up of lactic acid but this bath made my muscles feel fresh and rested.

Soak Yourself brings taking a bath to a complete new level: I love the ethos, I love the product, the effect - everything. All boxes are priced at £40 - I get that this is a little more on the expensive side than say buying a High Street bath foam, but you really do get a personalised feel and a real reason to take time out for yourself, and 50 pence from every box is going to be donated to children's charity TLC based in South Africa. In the range they do boxes titled:

  • Blanche the blues SOAK - banish a down day, revitalise your senses and boost your mood
  • Broken Heart SOAK - a big, warm hug in a box to help you heal and embrace a positive future
  • Feeling Groovy SOAK - a calming and soothing chill-out-out soak to help you release, relax and let go
  • Full Moon SOAK - a renewal ritual to celebrate the cycles of life and prepare you for the month ahead
  • Love SOAK - a sensual bath ritual to deepen your connection with the one you love
  • Remedy SOAK - Relief from the symptoms of colds and flu, to help ease you back to better health
I cant wait until pay day to treat myself to another box - even though I'm on a self-imposed spending ban for the wedding I think paying just £40 for this treat is needed in the run up!

What do you do when you take time out for you?

*Even though I was sent this Soak Yourself box FOC, all views are my own and I really did love it*

Friday, 22 March 2013

What they don't tell you...

I am still deliriously happy about being engaged, it's a really amazing feeling that has, without a doubt, cemented my feelings and relationship. We are full involved in the wedding process now, with the deposits paid on the church and venue already I am having a period of relaxation now before the other various, hundred million other things need to be done. However, along with the many things people have told me and are telling me about wedding planning, no-one has told me about the sheer pressure I am feeling and pressure I am currently putting on myself to look my best in a wedding dress.

Being at least 1-2 stone overweight, but comfortable with my figure (or so I thought) I have since turned into a one-women obsessive about how I will look in a wedding dress. I have well over a year before I am doing the 'walking down the aisle' thing, yet there is a part of me that cannot stop thinking about how I can rid myself of that 2 stone and fast.

Don't get me wrong, most of the pressure is coming from myself: it is me who is telling myself that I am not to even try a wedding dress on until I have lost a stone, it is me who is repeatedly staring at other women's wedding photos just wishing that I could look like that/be that slim. Everyone tells me that I will look beautiful blah blah blah but the truth is, the prospect of being the centre of attention on this entire day is leading me into a complete and utter dieting mental tizz. I have never ever been very good at taking a look at myself in a mirror: I don't particularly like what I see, but on my wedding day there will be people there who will see me, me and my HTB will be the focus and there is nothing I can hide behind (I don't suppose I can get married hiding behind a big duvet can I) I am there in all my white wedding gown glory...

The pressure to measure up to have a wedding that is on par with others, to look as good, is high. I don't care what you say, it is. I wish someone had told me how all this white dress stuff would make me feel, perhaps I could begun to slap myself into reality, or perhaps I would've put down that extra bit of cake, but mostly I am shocked that ultimately, I'm not as happy the way I look even though I originally thought I was, which to me is a real shame. I know some of you will think I'm self absorbent,  full of myself and being self centred, but the reality is, with a past history of detesting what I saw in the mirror, the thought of being judged by others (and yes I know people will) on a day that is really all about love, causes me so much stress that I ever knew was possible. The urge to look perfect has most definitely reared it's really ugly head.

Tell me I am not the only one?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Wednesday Wanted: Looking for Spring...

Time to bring back the Wednesday Wanted - a bit of everything that has caught my eye lately. This weeks versions seems to loosely based around Spring, Easter and all things yellow. It screams positivity.
1 - Yellow Balloon Necklace - £30.80 - Nokike at EtsyI have fallen pretty badly in love with all things yellow - to me it's just such a fresh and new colour and teamed with this statement necklace you cant not want this. This is the type of necklace that will make any outfit. I want to wear it with simple jeans and white tee.
I love these thinner textured jumpers, they are ideal for Spring and for when the Winter woolies are a little too warm. I like the casual-ness of this jumper and think it'd look great with a neon pink statement necklace.
3 - Rapiti Ceramic Hare statue - £25.00 - Habitat
Yeah, I couldnt resist adding something remotely rabbit like in the list ,but I know from experience its hard to have something 'rabbit' orientated that doesnt make you look  bit sappy. I love the decorative nature of this statue, its quite arty. For only £25.00 its a nice fresh take.
4 - Floral Boucle Coat - £79.00-  Topshop
I have been staring at this coat for weeks now and I still want it. Completely not something I'd normally go for but there is something really refreshing about the fresh print. 
5 - Easter Cookie set - £4.99 - LakelandEaster is another time to get my bake on and this year instead of my fave cupcakes, I'm thinking of giving some Easter cookies a go! This set is a bargain!

As well as wanting the above, this Wednesday I've been thinking mostly about:
- going to finally collect my engagement ring on Sunday and my fear about losing it
- my motivation levels: how does one manage to juggle everything
- non stop reading of author Julia Williams... her books take me somewhere
- peoples grammar: after reading one too many applications to work with me, I've found out I'm some kind of spelling freak
- wondering when I should undertake the so-called Spring cleaning...

What's on your Wanted list?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

On the Radar: Clarks on trend

I have completely and utterly fallen in love with Clarks and their latest Spring/Summer collection. I'm a real sucker for all things pastel coloured and Clarks seem to have every trend: Statement colours, Laser-cutting, Neons, Prints, sculpted designs and stack heels, under one belt with this latest collection. I thought last years range was good but they really have 'upped' their game, I even saw some recently advertised in my latest Red magazine and nearly fell over myself when I saw they were Clarks! Here are my top picks:

With this new collection, Clarks are well and truly on my radar!

Are you a fan of Clarks and this collection?

Monday, 18 March 2013

What's on your menu? Kirstys Wheat and Gluten Free Meals

A part of me hates to be featuring a 'Ready Meal' as part of my 'What's on your menu?" segment but in truth, I am the girl who pretty much lives on ready meals. I know it's not essentially healthy and there are many drawbacks.. I know, I know but in reality I hate cooking. Give me a cake or bread to bake and I am away, but hand me a frying pan/saucepan and tell me to cook you dinner? well, you'll be waiting a long time.

I have tried pretty much every Ready Meal range out there, and I know that most are not good for you. Ever since deciding to try and cut out wheat and gluten thanks to my constant problems with IBS I have had to stay away from the ready meals and move to home cooking, which is something I do not relish. Thanks to my inability to try and cook anything other than well, toast, I was really excited to see a new range of ready meals in my local Sainsbury called 'Kirstys' It was a completely new range and for some odd reason it wasnt even in the ready meal section but near the pies (mmmm pies) anywho, the range was a selection of ready meals that were all Wheat and Gluten free and dare I say it, the recipe's looked really really good. In the range there was:

Aduki Beans, Courgette, Pinto Beans, Apricots, Peppers Carrots, Chick Peas and Sweet Potato in a Moroccan Tagine style sauce mildly spiced and flavoured with tomato, mint and coriander served with a Quinoa, Brown rice and Puy lentil mix

Gluten Free Sausages in a rich onion gravy with carrot and sweet potato mash

Lean Minced Beef with carrots and peas in a rich gravy topped with a sweet potato and carrot mash

Marinated Chicken Breast and Peppers in a medium spiced Tomato and Coconut Tikka Massala sauce.

Succulent Chicken Thigh marinated in coriander, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper cooked in a Spanish style tomato, pepper and smoked paprika sauce served with vegetable and brown basmati rice

In Sainsbury they were on special: 2 meals for £4 so I purchased the Sausage and sweet potato mash and the Spanish Chicken. 

On Saturday evening as the fella was away and with only me to cook for, I decided to have the Spanish chicken for dinner and I can safely say it was gorgeous. The chicken thigh tasted really good and normally I'm a breast only kinda girl, the sauce was punchy in flavour and not too tomatoe-y like some standard ready meals. The rice had alot of flavour and was really filling, infact I would say the rice was enough for two portions! I had half a gluten free naan bread to mop up the sauce it was that good!

I was really really impressed with this ready meal range and I cant deny I did kinda feel a little more smug with myself knowing that the meal was free from any added nasties and I didn't wake up with the normal (dreaded) IBS pains that I normally do. 

These meals are ideal for the lazy cook and for when you're home late or dont have time to cook a fresh homemade meal. Go to Kirstys website HERE to find your local stockist.

Friday, 15 March 2013

'On a budget' The 5 day flash sale at Baukjen

One of my absolute favourite clothing brands Baukjen (see me in one of their dresses here) have a fantastic 5 day flash sale, yes five whole days of discounts across parts of their range - and trust me, it's a good one!

Open to the UK and the US, on each of the following days your can save money just by simply entering a code! Here's all the info:

Log on to: www.baukjen.com  and find the Flash Sale link

Friday 15th March 2012 - Save 44% by entering code: SAVE44 at the checkout
Saturday 16th March 2012 - Save 39% by entering code: SAVE39 at the checkout
Sunday 17th March 2012 - Save 34% by entering code: SAVE34 at the checkout
Monday 18th March 2012 - Save 29% by entering code: SAVE29 at the checkout
Tuesday 19th March 2012 - Save 24% by entering code: SAVE24 at the checkout

Simple as that! All codes need to be entered at the checkout by 23:59GMT each day! You cant get better than that! My Sale picks:

Go forth and shop!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

On a budget: Mid-season Sale at Whistles

For those of you who are on a tight budget - I salute you! Ever since deciding to set a wedding date my purse strings have been much cut off with the desperate attempt for me to save for all things wedding-y and let me tell you, it's hard work! And so a new section of articles on the blog 'On a budget' was born. I think the name says it all really, but I hope it to be full of blog posts with money saving tips, looks on a budget, the latest sales and various other budgeting tips.

First up is the Whistles mid-season sale. I am a massive fan of Whistles but I do have to be honest, they are a little out of my price range and I tend to only shop when the sales are on. With classic, easy-to-wear clothes, Whistles do create clothes that are of a timeless nature and will still look good 4 years down the line. However if like me and paying £100 for a top is just a little too much even though you'll get lots of wear out of it, you'll be pleased to know that they have just announced their mid-season sale - as we are half way between seasons (Winter and Spring) it is an ideal time to grab yourself a bargain to see you through the in-between stage. Here are my top picks with nothing over £60

Get yourself over to Whistles HERE 

Are you a Whistles fan?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Returning to the fail-safe...

Dressing for work is pretty much the bane of my life. I can barely remember my name first thing in the morning let alone club together my style credentials and dress like something out of Vogue magazine. Seriously, how do you girls do it?

I sometimes I fall into the 'black trousers' syndrome, which is by no means a bad thing at all. But I do have to be honest: I dont feel great in them as wearing too much black tends to make me feel a little, well, miserable. Aside from the standard black trousers, I still find myself going back to my one fail-safe piece of clothing: meet my Baukjen dress.

I used to hear people talk about a 'fail safe' item but never realised I had my own until I put on my Baukjen dress again today. My Baukjen dress is pretty much like my left hand, it is that one dress that I simply cant get enough of. I've had this dress for over a year now and can safely say this dress is worn at least once a week. Now before you all think I'm dead boring, stop. This dress is so darn versatile.
I can wear with flats or heels, bare legs or tights, with a neck scarf or statement necklace, with a long line cardigan or loose fit blazer - the list is endless.

Non black, but bright blue, my favourite combination? wearing with tan accessories, especially with my leopard print kitten heels - this dress makes me feel safe yet still attractive. The fabric holds me in nicely (just what I need) but is comfortable. I cant get away from this dress - it's perfect.

I truly believe that the reason why I love this dress so much is down to Baukjen as a brand - I pretty much adore every darn collection that comes out and for me, the look and styling of their dresses is how I'd just love to look. Don't get me wrong, the clothes are not in my budget, even more so now I'm trying to save for the wedding, but I do adore my only Baukjen dress, and until I manage to win the lottery/or had the wedding I will just have to make do with oggling their website instead, I mean check out these to 'die-for'  ideal for Spring,dresses:

What is your 'fail-safe' item to wear to work?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Keeping up with life with iPhone5

Keeping up with life is hard at the best of times, but throw in the countless ways we all live our lives through social media and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. I am often finding myself getting caught behind with it all. I am on Facebook both personally and blog wise, I tweet (alot) I post photos, I blog and write for various other sites, but keeping my head above water and most importantly staying interactive, is hugely important but oh so hard. When I am away from my laptop, a multimedia phone is a must and after approx 3 years struggling with my current phone I often find myself fantasising about the iPhone 5.

The iPhone5 is like the Queen of all phones, the leader in technology: it's the phone that makes all the others feel jealous - its the popular one. Why do I want a iPhone5 you ask?

  • 8MP iSight camera - which would be just amazing for the more random photo's needed for my blog!
  • Super speedy wireless internet - ideal for on-the-go blogging
  • 4 inch retina display with 326pixels per inch - perfect for some online shopping or picking my must-buys to feature on my site. 
I have to be honest, it's the photo thing for me. There is something so brilliant about the iPhone5 photo's with the abilities to share the photo's across all social media. There is no need to faff around! It would've certainly helped with some existing blurry photos...

The list is endless - this is the phone that I need. Available from the CarphoneWarehouse the great thing is there are so many deals to suit all, but ultimately I think the phone pays for itself. No more faffing with a phone that's battery rapidly runs out, no more struggling to get a decent picture when at a event, and most of all I love the fact that the iPhone 5 is able to reorganise your social media life all at once. 

Unlike some phones, the iPhone5 has endless options and choices for different Apps to make your life more easier and more fun! One of my favourite apps has to be Instagram which is an app that is widely used alongside the iPhone5 and I have been known to turn a little green with envy everytime I hear one of my friends talk about it... not fair!

For someone who struggles with juggling all the social things in life, I think things can be solved in one fail swoop!

what do you use to keep up?

*This post is sponsored*

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tried and Tested: Liz Earle - learning to cleanse, tone and moisturise

My skincare regime is err *ahem* not the best, I have been known to faceplant the pillow with a face full of makeup sans removing it first, but despite wearing makeup most days I am quite lucky that my skin hasn't thrown a tantrum similar to that of a teenager, but I have noticed that as the years roll on so does the texture and feel of my skin, but being a complete novice I know little about what to actually do when it involved my skin.

Thanks to QVC and Liz Earle I was offered the chance to be a proper lady and learn how to Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise properly. I have odd skin, and by 'odd' I mean awkward. I have regular flare ups, it cannot deal with any product that is too scented and I often get very dry patches hence the reason why I try to avoid using anything on my skin. I have always been intrigued by Liz Earle's products and the fella has often caught me eyeing up countless skincare sets on QVC (I'm that person)

The products that I was lucky enough to try was the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (with muslin Cloth), the Instant Boost Skin Tonic and Skin Repair Moisturiser. All these products look amazing, but lets face it I didn't have the foggiest idea what the hell any of them done but with clear instructions on the back of each product, I set to work on getting my skin in order!

Firstly, I applied the Cleanse and Polish cream to a dry, unwashed face. I still had a face full of makeup and sweatiness after I just cycled home (yeah, I am that sexy) and I must admit it did feel a little weird to be applying a cream to dry skin rather than wet. The cream went on smoothly and smelt heavenly (getting a waft of eucalyptus oil was delightful) 

After applying the Cleanse and Polish cream it was time to grab the Muslin Cloth and rinse under warm water. I did wonder why I couldn't just use any old flannel but word on the street (or back of the product) is that the muslin cloth is a far more gentler way to exfoliate that scrubbing away with any old cloth - worth a go huh?

I then used the damp muslin cloth to complete the 'polishing' part of the routine. Massaging and polishing the cream into the face. I was genuinely worried this would feel ever-so slightly scratchy but it felt really nice - much like a really deep clean for the skin. I could feel every bit of dirt/grime/makeup being removed with no nasty after-effects either. 

My skin felt all tingly and dare I say it again? but smelt amazing!

My next product was the Instant Boost Skin Tonic. Now, the only tonic I know is the one that comes with a measure of gin (what?!) however this tonic was supposed to be beneficial (who knew) with the promise to further revitalise my skin I couldn't turn this one down.

Despite its promises, this is the one product I would've never of tried or purchased myself. As my skin is silly sensitive I was instantly worried about it's alcohol content and the possibility that it might burn my face off - it didn't however (thank god) The product went on smoothly, without drying my skin out. After applying with a cotton wool pad, my skin felt so fresh and tingly and not at all clogged.

To finish, I applied a slick of Skin Repair Moisturiser. This is a really good all-round daily moisturiser that was absorbed nicely, but do be careful to not load on too much as it is quite thick. They do recommend using this after using the Skin Tonic!

Ta-Da! My skin felt amazing - really clean and fresh and really pampered. (Do excuse my face sans makeup) 

I have to be honest, this range of products surprised me. I would've never have purchased these normally - mainly through fear of what it would do to my overly sensitive skin and also because I never really understood what these products could do to benefit me and in fact I would've thought they were out of my every-day league, but thanks to QVC I have most def been reaping the benefits of really good, cleansed skin.

You can buy all these products from QVC online or alternatively you can tune in via Sky Digital on channel 640, Virgin channel 740, Freesat channel 800 and Freeview channel 16.

*I was gifted these products but all views are m own and I have shiny lush skin with thanks to them!*

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