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One of the main challenges that has come with going back into full time education is remembering that not all 'free time' is actually 'free time'. Although I have always been a doer and not one who loves wasting their days doing 'nothing', the realisation hit quite quickly that I cannot chose to do whatever I want all the time anymore, I actually have to use my free time to do work, and in the evenings when I come back from uni! This is SO completely alien to me as before I would just come home and do whatever I wanted, whether that be sorting things out in the house, spending the weekends with my family and friends, or literally sitting on my bum and watching Netflix.

Although I know that I really want to be on this course, I won't lie and say the motivation to get the work done has come at the drop of a hat. Especially with having days at home for 'self directed study'. I am soooo not used to having full days at home on my own, so to start with days at home literally felt like the weekend and a free for all, and trying to keep myself on track with work rather than sorting out my washing was a bit of a challenge!

At the start of the course I was like 'I am going to revise every single spare moment I have for this first exam....' and when it came to it I then remembered how much of a procrastinator I can be! Getting in to the swing of revising definitely took some time, and to be honest after sitting my bioscience exam and managing to get 78% I am pretty proud of how I eventually got back into the revision way of life!

During my first placement which finished in May, I got an even better taste of what the next three years will look like, and not just the lecture/clinical skills within university side of things. Although I already had an idea of what it would be like, I had not experienced being on placement full time with exams to revise for and placement documents to fill in. I am soooo fortunate that I am not working on top of this, as I know some students do, but the six weeks of this were so tiring, not like when I worked full time and my days off were actual days off!

Talking about working on top of the degree, that is one thing that I have actually felt guilty about these past 4 months. Although I do get a student loan, it certainly isn't the same as earning a salary, so I have had to be much more careful with money, I think this topic could actually warrant its own post! But not working along with these days at home has left me with some sort of 'I don't work' guilt at times. Whilst I know that I will be able to survive this degree much more easily without a part time job on top of it, I can't help but feel a little bit bad when I am at home studying and think that I maybe could fit in a part time job, but I know that stressy head me would NOT enjoy trying to fit in a job as well! I love being able to spend time with my family and sleeping too much!!

What I have really realised over the past five months though is that I am SO glad that I have made this decision. Going back into full time education absolutely petrified me and I was convinced for quite some time that I just wasn't clever enough or able enough to get through this degree, but I think I am just about realising that I can and will do it!

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TRANSITION FROM FULL TIME WORK TO UNIVERSITY

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This post contains a gifted item from Simba and an affiliate link.
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I have ALWAYS loved my sleep. My Mum often recalls how easy it was to take me out as a baby and young child as I would fall asleep whilst being out and she could transfer me to my cot without me waking, and honestly I am pretty much still like that now! I remember joking as a child that if I could marry my bed, I would... bit weird?? But seriously, I really really love being in bed. And once I am asleep, I am asleep and there is no waking me, literally... I can even sleep through my alarm clock!

A few things I have noticed as I have gotten a bit older though, is my inability to fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow, and waking up from sleep feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead, rather than wanting to bury myself back under the covers and not resurface. I am never ever going to be a morning person, that is something that I have come to terms with as fact, rather than convincing myself that I can train myself to be, but any help I can get to get a better nights sleep to make me feel that bit more refreshed in the morning is certainly welcome!

And that is where my new best friend comes in... seriously, it is my new best friend. I was soooo beyond myself with excitement when I new I would be getting a brand new Simba Hybrid Mattress. With a mix of pocket springs and memory foam, I was so excited to get rid of my current mattress and test drive a Simba Hybrid Mattress. Having had my mattress for over 10 years, it was absolutely about time for a new one, and possibly the reason for me tossing and turning to get to sleep and not waking up feeling my best. I had also never had a memory foam mattress before, so was keen to feel the difference from my standard spring mattress!

There was a part of me that was sceptical about seeing a huge difference in my sleep, and I don't know why because WOW has it changed so much with this mattress! I honestly cannot get over the difference in how quickly I fall asleep, I was definitely a bit of a fidget and would spend ages trying to get to sleep before. Not only has the time reduced it takes for me to get to sleep, but my quality of sleep is far far better than before too. I wake up feeling actually refreshed, unlike before when all I would want to do is crawl back in to bed to get an extra bit of sleep.

For anyone struggling with sleep, whether that is getting to sleep, staying asleep, or quality of sleep - think about your mattress! I honestly did not think there was anything wrong with my old one. Yes, it had a few stains and was a fair few years old, but to me it was still comfy and did the job... although it was obviously wasn't doing a very good job as my sleep has improved more than I ever thought it could! And don't forget, you can get £75 your first Simba Mattress purchase here!*

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Dreamy nights with Simba Sleep

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Our meal was gifted to us by The Ivy Cambridge in celebration of the Month of Inspiration.

Having been to The Ivy, Cambridge twice before for breakfast and once for lunch, the only meal left to go for was Dinner, so I was delighted when they asked me to go in celebration of their 'month of inspiration' to mark Isaac Newton's birthday menu. Isaac Newton, best known for formulating the laws of motion and universal gravity, was a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.

If you know me well, you will know that food is one of my favourite things ever, so I was very excited to experience dinner at The Ivy, and was lucky enough to be able to take Matthew along with me as well, so you will see his food choices below too!

As part of their month of inspiration, two cocktails have been added to the menu. Firstly, the Seedlip Spicy Apple, incorporating Seedlip Spice, apple juice, pineapple juice, egg white, gingerbread syrup and shaken with a red chilli and a star anise. And secondly the Newton’s Flute including Calvados, lemon juice, maple syrup, a dash of Peychaud’s bitters and topped with Apple cider. Of course both Matthew and I went for the latter, and it was so delicious, really light and perfect as a drink whilst we waited for our food and during our starter.

For starter I went for the Tempura prawns with salt and pepper squid, which was divine!! Perfectly crispy and not too heavy. Matthew opted for the Crispy Duck Salad, which was also delicious! Both good sizes for a starter as they weren't too filling, but didn't feel like a teeny tiny plate either (teeny tiny is obviously great terminology).

For main, I really fancied something traditional, and had heard great things about the Ivy Shepherd's Pie, and it did not disappoint. I also added a side of sprouting broccoli, as it is my absolute favourite! The Shepherd's pie was sooo full of flavour, and the mash the perfect kind of creamy! Matthew chose the Monkfish and Prawn Curry, as he wanted to try something different and his was amazing!! Definitely a good choice!

And finally for dessert I chose the chocolate bombe, which I have had before and had to have again because it is SO tasty. The cold ice cream and hot caramel sauce are soooo delicious, and I would eat it every day if I could! Matthew chose the cappucino cake which he thoroughly enjoyed and that too looked amazing!

The service we received at The Ivy Cambridge was amazing, our waiter was super attentive without being too much, and really lovely with it too. He ensured that we got a beautiful apple which encased a note inside telling us if we had one something for dining during the Month of Inspiration, unfortunately we didn't, but if you dine there up until the 8th February you can be in with the chance of winning one of the many prizes, including Afternoon Tea or a bottle of The Ivy Champagne! He also presented us with a notelet with which to write a quote/note to hang from the Inspiration Tree, installed for this month, which can be read by diners, a really lovely touch.

You are able to dine under the ‘Inspiration Tree’s’ beautiful, leafy canopy until Friday, 8 February, and both cocktails are also available during the same time period.

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DINNER AT THE IVY CAMBRIDGE

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First and foremost, for a long long time I thought about it almost everyday, and if that isn't a sign I don't know what is?! While there were parts of my Marketing job that I liked, I knew that I didn't want to be sat at a desk every day. By nature I am not a particularly jealous person, but when I saw people from school, people I knew and people younger than me going into their nursing degrees, or graduating, or getting jobs in hospitals, I couldn't help but think 'I wish that was me!', so it just got to the point where I knew I had to get up and do something about it, else time would fly by way too quickly and before I knew it it would be too late and I'd regret not making the decision. As cliche as this may sound, I have always had it in my head that I want to help others. For me, a job that I know will have an impact on others lives and is hugely rewarding, is the kind of job I have always wanted to be in. I love being around people, and am normally one of the most talkative in a room, I never run out of things to talk about! And for me, Nursing was perfect for that. A job where I can help people when they need it the most, talk to people all day long, and meet people from all different walks of life. For a while now I haven't felt that anything I do has particularly fulfilled the want to help others, yet I knew that I could get that fulfilment through Nursing. The more I thought about the job, read about it, and watched hospital documentaries the more drive it gave me to do it. Another huge factor for me was age, at 22 I know that it will still be quite easy for me to study and juggle my life around my studies/placement. Not that ANY age is too old to study, but I know that for me personally if I left it for in the future when I may have my own children, I would 100% struggle to juggle home life with studying. Having said that, there are people on my course who do have children and have done access courses previous to this degree and managed that, so if you do have children and are thinking of studying, GO FOR IT!! Despite all the positive thoughts towards wanting to be a nurse, one of the biggest set backs for me was the fear of failure. In fact this was THE set back. I’ve never dealt well with it, being hugely competitive with myself, so pairing that with a previous bad experience at University, the thought of failure again was unbearable. I would literally talk myself out of applying, convincing myself that it was better if I didn’t go as then I couldn’t fail. The best way for me to overcome this has been talking, trying to rationalise why I feel like that, and how to manage those feelings. And also realising, how can I fail if I don’t even try?! So how did I actually decide to get the UCAS application in and get the ball rolling? I'd had a bit of an up and down year last year and for one reason or another came home one evening feeling SO deflated and a huge failure, and I'd had enough. I knew I wanted to succeed, and after toying with the idea of being a Nurse for so long, I just got home and thought stuff this, I'll go for it! No one else could apply for me, no one else could make the decision to quit my job, it was all down to me! So I did it! In all honesty, I have never been that fussed about having a degree just to say I have one, I am of the opinion that a piece of paper with a qualification does not define you as a person, but the only way for me to be a Nurse is to get one, so that I am doing! Whilst I literally did just come home one evening and thought right I'm going to apply, it took me a very long time to get to that point! Just over three years in fact...!! I completely trust the timing of it all, and have had wonderful experiences before starting this degree, but honestly if you want to become a Nurse and apply for a degree (or any other course), the only person stopping you is you! I hope this has been somewhat helpful, and I cannot wait to share more of my journey over the next three years!" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

MAKING THE DECISION TO STUDY NURSING AT UNIVERSITY

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Make A Start comes in, with plastic free starter kits! The best thing to recognise, is that you are not going to be able to completely overhaul your plastic use in one go - but making a start is better than nothing. Instead of getting a takeaway coffee cup every time you visit your local coffee shop for your caffeine fix, have a reusable coffee cup! Not only is this reducing your single-use plastics, it'll probably save you a bit of money in the long run as most coffee shops are now taking a bit of money off the cost of your coffee if you bring your own cup. A reusable coffee cup is just one of the fab products that you can find in a Make A Start plastic free starter pack*; which arrives with you just three working days after you order. The products included are:
  • Stainless steel water bottle: this bottle can be used for hot or cold liquid, and trust me it keeps that temperature for a LONG time! For anyone that saw on my social media, I recently slept out for charity. To keep me warm I filled this bottle at 9pm with tea, and the next morning at 8.30am there was still some in it, which was still perfect tea drinking temperature!
  • Reusable sandwich bag: Great for work, or your child's packed lunch instead of plastic sandwich bags. You can wash this like you would do all of your normal dishes with washing up liquid, and you can put snacks in it too if you don't eat sandwiches.
  • 2 Bamboo Toothbrushes: These have been great for travelling as both Matthew and I have electric toothbrushes, so it means we don't have to buy plastic toothbrushes just for times we travel to visit family or go away.
  • Pack of cotton buds - I use TONNES of these. Either for my ears (gross) or if I make a mistake with my makeup, so knowing that I am not chucking away plastic upon plastic by using a plastic free version is great.
  • Reusable vegetable bag: This has saved me money!! Having this vegetable bag has made me even more aware of the fruit and vegetables I am buying in the supermarket. For example, without even thinking I used to pick up a bag of 3 onions for 85p with all of the packaging around it, and had never even questioned how much it would be to buy them loose. Instead, 3 loose onions cost me 30p... every little helps and all that, and loose veg means no plastic! These bags make it so much easier to ensure that I'm not then putting loose fruit/veg in the plastic bags you can get out go the boxes in the supermarket to protect it from any bashing around.
  • Muslin Cloth: This is perfect to use instead of baby/makeup wipes. I use a muslin cloth every day to cleanse my skin, so having another spare one is perfect!
  • Bamboo reusable coffee cup: This coffee cup has come EVERYWHERE with me since I've had it. I personally think it looks  far prettier than the single use ones you get in coffee shops as well! It is the perfect size for me keeps the contents warm enough for me to not have to gulp it down quickly.
So there you have it! A fab plastic free starter pack to get you on your way to being plastic free. If there are a few things that take your fancy on there but you wouldn't necessarily want them all, then take a look on the Make A Start website as they also do bespoke boxes, and sell individual items too! They are also selling a Christmas pack, to ensure that all of our present waste is recyclable and environmentally friendly, as SO much waste is created around Christmas time. Small changes add up to huge results!   *This starter pack was gifted, but as always all views and opinions are my own." target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

MAKING A START ON BEING PLASTIC FREE

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What I also think a lot of us must learn to do, is give ourselves more credit for just the little things we do to 'adult'. I mean, making sure that all of your washing is done, feeding yourself 3 times a day, keeping your house clean, paying all the bills AND socialising can often feel like a full time job in itself! And don't get me wrong, I LOVE the independence, I've always been a very independent person, so looking after myself and financially supporting myself were things that I just wanted to do without question. However, I often think that this strong independent nature is what weirdly makes me feel lost. I'm so independent to the point that it makes me somewhat impatient. I want to prove to myself that I can remain independent, provide for myself and achieve the idea of 'success' that I have in my head. But when I'm not sure what I want to do to achieve this idea of 'success' is when the frustration appears, and the lost feeling reinstates itself in my brain. And what defines success anyway? I know for me, being completely and utterly happy within myself and the people I am surrounded by is the top priority for my life, and success shouldn't define my happiness - something I have written about before. However, I still know that I shouldn't ignore the burning desire to achieve in my life, but rather learn to trust the process, and understand that everything happens for a reason. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is my life, and I will get to where I am meant to be at exactly the right time. Talking of the right time,  what I am slowly realising day by day, is that I am not meant to have my life sorted by 22. In fact, I am not meant to have my life sorted by any age. As cliche as it sounds, I've seen over and over recently, that we all have our own timeline, and that statement is nothing but true. We don't need to ensure our lives follow a strictly laid out path, but what I do want to ensure is that I never regret anything. We do things in that moment in time, because it feels right for us. What is right for us now, might not be what is right for us in 3 years time - but if anything, I know that in my twenties now is the time to do what I want, to try anything that is within my reach, to take every opportunity both little and large, but also know when something isn't worth my time. I want to take care of myself, both physically and mentally, as ultimately nothing is more important than my health. I want to be spontaneous, but also not feel guilty when I want to stay at home in my pjs and watch ALL the Netflix. Ultimately, what I want us all to know is that there is no rule book. We are all doing just fine, MORE than fine. And by supporting each other through this sometimes overwhelming and underwhelming whirlwind, we CAN get through this!

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FEELING LOST IN MY TWENTIES

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Ironically, I am also guilty of letting myself down. I cram too much in and don’t put myself first by not allowing myself enough time for self-care… Ahh, self-care, the word I see thrown around like confetti, and one of those phrases I believe is easier said than done. We relate it to slapping on a face mask, jumping in a hot bubbly bath with a cup of tea. But the self-care I’m talking about is more than that, more than just quick fixes, but more about the time we give ourselves to unequivocally put ourselves first. To stop stressing about doing this and doing that, or being this and being that. Accepting that no matter how hard you try, you won’t always be someones cup of tea. But that it really doesn’t matter, and being you is the best you can be. I remember something my Mum told me once, which has stuck with me and will forever… "You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be one person who doesn’t like peaches", and I don’t think this has ever felt more prevalent than now, and something that a lot of us probably need to tell ourselves more than we do already. This post was seemingly more difficult to write than I first thought. So I hope the intentions of it have been relayed to all of you that have made it this far! This is not just a kick up the bum to myself to put me first, but also to each and every one of you that feels the same, and resonates with even just a bit of what I have said. Life is so fast paced, and spending more than just a second to take a step back and give yourself the room to breathe is always going to do more good than anything else.

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LEARNING TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST

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Viva Skin Clinic on Old Street for his latest Chemical Peel Treatment, Glow Peel. The two main benefits of this treatment are exactly what is says on the tin, all of the glow and in only half an hour. And for someone who works full time and doesn't always have the time for a full out facial - this sounded perfect! What is a chemical peel? A chemical peel consists of a chemical solution applied on to the skin and causes the top layer of the skin (epidermis) to peel off. It might sound slightly scary, but the process is actually really manageable, without looking like a snake who is shedding their skin! The process When I arrived at Viva Skin Clinic, I was welcomed by Dr Rupert and the receptionist, who asked me to fill out a medical form to ensure that it was safe for me to go ahead with the Chemical Peel. It was all fine, so I went ahead into the consultion room and spoke to Dr Rupert about my skin. My skin is senstive and naturally quite dry, which I combat with using a lot of moisturisers/masks/oils, but every now and again, dependent on the weather, my T-Zone can get slightly oily. I also have quite high pigmentation in my skin - which you will see from the pictures below! Dr Rupert explained that the peel is aimed to target the texture of the skin, so it will be much smoother, as it is the deepest form of exfoliation, so will reveal fresh and glowy skin - but will not help directly with my pigmentation as it is so high, but I should notice a slight reduction in redness. This was fine with me, as I knew what I was signing up for before I went, and hadn't expected it to combat any pigmentation issues. The consultation process was around 10 minutes long, and it was then time for the actual chemical peel process. The process was really simple and literally consists of the chemical solution being brushed onto your skin. With the Glow Peel, there are 3 stages. As each step is applied onto the skin your skin does start to heat up, and does feel weird, but there is no pain at all. If you have ever been embrassed and felt your face go bright red, it actually feels very similar to that! Once it starts to cool down, the next step is applied... and so on until the 3 stages are complete. I actually had the solution applied twice, as Dr Rupert thought that it was enough for my skin and would work well without needing the third. That probably comes with having sensitive skin, and I trusted Dr Rupert's opinion, as he is the professional. The actual chemical peel application took around 10 minutes, so it really is the kind of treatment you can pop and have done whenever, rather than having to book a morning or afternoon out of work! Straight after the treatment, my skin looked quite frosted, and my skin slightly redder and tighter than normal, which was expected! I was told to leave it on for around 5 hours before washing it off, and then just applying moisturiser as normal. For the next few days I tried to keep my skin as clear from any makeup as possible, and just applied a good SPF and my normal every day Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser. It is important to apply an SPF after a chemical peel due to the skin being much more sensitive, so if you decide to go for one - definitely ensure you do that! Anyway... onto the results! Day 1 and 2 I had the Chemical Peel done on a Tuesday evening, and the Wednesday and Thursday after the peel, not that much happened. My skin felt quite dry and tight, and I could tell that there was a layer forming to peel off. On Day 1 there was absolutely no peeling, and Day 2 a very minimal amount on my chin. I tried to explain the feel of it to Matt, who said 'ohhh is it like when you have one of the peel face masks on, and you've left it on for too long and it needs peeling off?' and that is EXACTLY how it felt. Slightly uncomfortable but not awful. Day 3 and 4 Friday was when the peeling REALLY kicked in, and I couldn't wait to see the fresh skin appear. Most of the peeling was around my nose, mouth and chin area at this point, and the fresh skin appearing was SO smooth. My cheeks still felt somewhat tight so I knew that I more peeling was to come. On Saturday (day 4), I did pop a slight bit of makeup on as I went to meet a friend for brunch, and when I came home I honestly couldn't get it off fast enough. I knew I had been told not to wear it for a reason, my skin was super itchy, so I slathered it in moisturiser and listened to the advice for the next few days!! Day 5 and 6 Day 5 definitely brought out the most peeling, with small but a lot of small flakes around my cheeks and into my jawline. This was not itchy whatsoever and I knew it really was coming to an end now. Plenty of moisturiser to keep my skin hydrated and steering clear of makeup did the trick, and by day 6 there was very minimal peeling, only some around my hair line and jaw line. Day 7 onwards... Day 7 showed absolutely no signs of any more peeling and I felt extremely chuffed and smug with the results. As Dr Rupert explained, there was no difference in the pigment of my skin, but the glow and smoothness was on another level. It is 100% the best I have ever seen my skin before, and am impressed that I did in fact see a reduction in the pigmentation of my skin. On day 8 I applied my makeup, and found myself not applying as much foundation/concealer as I normally would as I felt so much more confident in the natural appearance of my skin - which is a HUGE thing for me, I amt the first to cover up my skin with makeup! Not only that, but my makeup applied like a dream, as it had the smoothest base to be applied to. [caption id="attachment_3072" align="alignnone" width="861"] I am wearing makeup in this picture, unlike the others - however not as much foundation/concealer as I normally would![/caption] My overall thoughts I would without a doubt recommend this to anyone considering it, and looking for a quick but effective treatment. It is so convenient to be able to just pop in for around 30 mins and have a treatment that leaves your skin so refreshed and glowing. What is important to remember, is this isn't a 'cheap' option, costing £200 for the treatment. However, the price is very competitive, especially as you are receiving the treatment from a trusted professional within a top London clinic. If you do want to invest in a treatment like this - I would 100% say GO FOR IT. The results are so incredibly worth it, even more so if it is for a special occasion, and you will be well looked after by Dr Rupert at Viva Skin Clinic. I also spoke about this treatment in a recent vlog - so if you want to watch that and actually see my skin then head over to watch it here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEP4VXq3OWA     *This treatment was complimentary - however all views are my own, and I decided myself to write this blog post to give a further insight into the treatment/results." target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

'Glow To Go', Chemical Peel @ Viva Skin Clinic

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Bill's was the restaurant Matthew and I went to on our first ever date when we met each other in Guildford 3 and a half years ago! It fast became one of our favourite places for breakfast, and whilst living apart we would often meet there for a cute little breakfast date to catch up, so it most definitely holds a special little place in our hearts. When I was invited to the Cambridge branch, I jumped at the chance to go and decided that we should try out their lunch menu, as we have had breakfast there more times than I can remember, but lunch only once or twice. We both arrived VERY hungry and 10 minutes early (not like me at all) to an extremely busy restaurant, but were quickly shown to our seats by the lovely Alina, who then passed us on to Hector who would be looking after us during our meal. Hector handed us the menus and gave us time to have a think about what we would like to drink. He came over to check if we were ready and was more than happy to help Matt when he wasn’t quite sure on which drink to choose. I opted for a Gin and Tonic (standard Frances) and Matthew for the Bill’s IPA – which he was very pleased to see once he got, is brewed by Adnams, one of his favourites. Neither of us planned to have starters, but upon noticing the Crumbed Halloumi Sticks, we quickly changed our minds – absolutely cannot turn down Halloumi! I also had Hummus on the brain after noticing a hummus recipe written on one of the chalkboards, which are scattered around on the restaurant walls; so we also ordered the Flatbread, Hummus and Nicoise Olives. The starters arrived in good time, giving us the chance to settle in, chat and have a drink, but not too long that we were questioning where our food was. We soon dug in, and I honestly want to go back and eat the starters all over again now I am writing this post and thinking about it! The Crumbed Halloumi Sticks were OUT OF THIS WORLD. Dipped into the garlic and lemon mayo, it was the kind of taste that makes you feel all warm and comforted inside – and I was impressed with the portion size, despite me never wanting them to end! Please if you make a visit to a Bill’s restaurant yourself, try these – they are revolutionary! The flatbread, hummus and olives were a perfect accompanying dish, just enough for the 2 of us without being too full for our mains. Just before our mains arrived, AlIna noticed that I had finished my drink and came over to ask me if I wanted another of the same, but did mention that there was another Gin they served called Monkey which was her favourite but was served with lime rather than grapefruit (grapefruit is my favourite fruit served with Gin). We spoke a bit about Gin after I realized that she was a Gin lover too, so decided to go with her recommendation, which arrived just as our mains arrived too. The Gin was not a disappointment, and worked so well with the lime slice, a great recommendation! For main, I opted for the Baked Caper and Herb Crusted Cod, which is served with a warm lentil, kale and fennel salad. I also asked for some sweet potato fries as I know they are so delicious at Bill’s so couldn’t resist! My fish was cooked to perfection, and melted in the mouth. The salad worked so well with the fish, and was delicious – and of course the sweet potato fries were an added bonus! Matthew had the buttermilk chicken burger, which looked amazing. He certainly seemed to enjoy it as it did not touch the sides! He asked to change the sweet potato fries to normal fries, which was no problem at all, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. We were both really happy with our choices and both pleasantly full! For pudding (I LOVE that they call it this, as I always say that at home rather than dessert), we decided to share the warm mini cinnamon doughnuts as were both very full. I actually had this exact pudding on our first date, so I knew what to expect which I think actually made me even more excited because I knew what was coming. The doughnuts come in dish with sliced strawberries, and a pot of hot salted caramel sauce, and hot melted chocolate. My favourite sauce is the salted caramel, and Matthews the chocolate – which works perfectly, although dipping them in both, is drool-worthy! We were certainly set up for the day after this meal – and were super impressed by the service and overall experience. The whole team were incredibly friendly and attentive, even down to when one of the bar staff noticed Matt taking a picture of the bar he posed for him! Unfortunately it made Matt laugh so much that the photo is literally a big blur, but we did get another photo of him when we spoke afterwards, so thanks for the entertainment! We couldn’t help but take pictures whilst inside as the décor in Bill’s has always been one of my favourite things about every branch you go to. It has a rustic feel to it, and the kind of restaurant where you feel comfortable in your weekend casuals, or dressing slightly smarter – Bill’s is 100% a winner for every occasion. Nothing was too much for the staff and I left so happy knowing I had such a lovely experience and attended to well despite the volume of customers in the restaurant at the time. All of the customers around me also received their food in great time, amazing service for a busy weekend lunchtime! I would recommend booking ahead, we were sat fairly close to the arrivals desk and I noticed most people who arrived had pre-booked, and I didn’t ever see an empty table for more than a few minutes. I cannot wait to take a trip back to the Cambridge branch, and probably go back for breakfast, as I haven’t had breakfast at Bills since we moved from Guildford back in August last year! A trip is definitely on the cards!     *Our meal at Bill's was complimentary, however as always all views and opinions are 100% my own." target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

LUNCHING AT BILL'S, CAMBRIDGE

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World Duty Free. Pretty sure I am sometimes more excited for the shopping than the actual holiday, haha! Anyone else with me?! Having all of my favourite brands in one place, and at tax free prices is the absolute BEST. I always take the opportunity to stock up on my favourite beauty pieces, and often find myself picking something up from the MAC counter - it has been one of my favourite brands for a very long time! So after declaring my love for beauty shopping at the airport to you, I thought it only appropriate to show you some of the amazing travel pieces that World Duty Free Beauty can offer you at the airport, which they kindly sent to me just over 3 weeks ago (I don't normally do reviews so quickly with beauty products, but as only one of the items is skincare and I have used it more than enough times to get a true feel for the product, I thought I would go ahead!) MAC x 15 EYE SHADOW PALETTE I have already declared my undying love for MAC above, it has and I think will alwyas be one of my favourite makeup brands. It is the first brand I found a foundation that truly catered for my 'needs full coverage, but not drying and very pale' needs. So when I opened the box of goodies I was ecstatic to see this palette in there! It is a beautiful mix of golden/amber shimmers and mattes - RIGHT up my street! All the shadows are creamy to apply, and it has been my go to palette since it arrived, with so many compliments on how it makes the colour of my eyes pop over on my Instagram, which is very appreciated, so I know that it is a good'un! GLAM GLOW DREAMDUO - OVERNIGHT TRANSFORMING TREATMENT I have only ever tired mini versions of Glam Glow, but everything I have had has been a dreaaamm, and so refreshing for my skin. Pair that with the fact I love an overnight mask/treatment for my skin, I had high hopes for this. When I took the lid off, I was abit confused at the grey substance on one side of the split pot, but the divine smell (smells like a piña colada, but better!) soon cured that and I couldn't wait to take my makeup off and drench my skin in the hydrating goodness! The Overnight treatment has two steps, hence the two sides to the pot and feels incredibly silky smooth when applying both steps to the skin. The pearly white step is first, and this is a melt-in serum including Green Coffee and Green Tea Leaf which you apply and leave for around 30 seconds before the second step. This step leaves my skin feeling slightly tacky, but without a doubt can feel the difference it is making straight away as it does exactly what it says on the tin and melts into the skin. After the 30 seconds, you then apply the grey moisture boost, which includes Hyaluronic Acid which gets an absolute YES from me!! This instantly takes away the tacky feeling and you can really feel it hydrating straight away, which sounds crazy?! And the results in the morning are amazing!! My skin feels so much plumper and hydrated, which is a hard task for my very dry skin! I have not wanted to stop using this, but definitely need to calm down else it'll be gone before I know it - DEFINITELY pick this one up on your next airport trip! NARS AUDACIOUS LIPSTICK SET This little set was very exciting to receive, as I have never before tried the NARS lipsticks. I have, of course, tried the cult Sheer Glow foundation and a few other products which I have loved, so was really excited to give these a try. And the shades included are shades that I would pick up myself, which was a delight! The shades are insanely pigmented, and so creamy to apply - definitely perfect for a long day at work or out as the colour lasts really well and without drying my lips, which is a huge bonus. The pink/nude shade is the perfect shade for everyday, and exactly the shade I would use for everyday anyway. The other two are a bold classic red, and a deep burgundy - again, two of my favourite shades and perfect for an evening out when you are being daring and stepping away from the nude lip. The packaging is one of my favourite thing about these lipsticks, the all black is so sleek, a real winner with me. And there you have it, the three items I was lucky enough to receive from World Duty Free Beauty! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have any of these items, or plan on bagging any of them the next time you fly. And in case you didn't know you can also pre-order items to the airport you are flying from their website to pick up and pay before your flight, making your shopping experience super seamless! With tonnes of brands to choose from in addition to the three I have mentioned such as, Jo Malone, Burberry and Elizabeth Arden you are really spoilt for choice - happy duty free shopping!!   As mentioned in the post, these products were gifted. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own." target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

SHOPPING WITH WORLD DUTY FREE BEAUTY

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The Ivy Cambridge appeared in my emails, I absolutely couldn't miss it. I still feel relatively new to Cambridge in the grand scheme of things, so to get a chance to meet fellow bloggers from the area, as well as try a new restaurant in town, sounded like the perfect combination for a Wednesday morning. Breakfast for us was at 8.30, a time I am used to with work - but not a great time to battle your way through traffic in Cambridge, but I made it in good time and was so hopeful that the breakfast would be worth it! The Ivy Cambridge is on Trinity Street, completely central in Cambridge - so the perfect spot for breakfast before your shopping, lunch/afternoon tea midway through your shopping, dinner after your shopping, or all three if you're feeling really fancy! They take bookings for all three, as well as walk ins - but I would book to avoid disappointment if I were you! Upon entering I was honestly blown away by the interior. The plants scattered around give such a calming feel, which is great when you want to relax and enjoy your food. There are different sections of design that flow beautifully and work incredibly well together, a dream if you want to capture some beautiful photos during your meal! Which is definitely what I did, leading me on to talk about the food... I started off with a well needed coffee (it was 8.30 after all!) and opted for an Almond Milk Latte, and you can see for yourself how incredible it looked, and it tasted even better than that! One thing I would mention is I did ask for soya milk in my drink, as I don't drink normal milk anymore, which unfortunately they didn't have - it wasn't a problem for me at all, and they may have it now as I did go on the very first morning! But actually Almond Milk is more delicious in coffee, so I am very grateful for having it instead! We were provided with a sample menu and I quickly made my decision of Eggs Royale (one of my faves), and then proceeded to get food envy when Lizzie's fluffly pancakes arrived (they will definitely be the choice next time I am there). After guzzling my coffee down very quickly on arrival, I also decided to order a 'Beet It' juice - beetroot, apple, lemon and ginger - which was SO refreshing and the perfect compliment to literally the tastiest Eggs Royale I have ever had! The lovely ladies who hosted the Blogger Breakfast then took us on a quick whizz around tour of the building and the toilets were beautiful and very clean - always a winner with me! And the real showstopper was private dining room 'The Boat Room' - which holds 40 standing or 16 seated, ideal for a really special occasion, or if you just prefer to be tucked away with family/friends. It was the most elegant and stunning room, a real treat! Overall, I was really impressed by The Ivy Cambridge, I could not fault the service or the food, and upon looking at the menu was very impressed with the prices too! It perfectly lived up to the expectations that I had of it and more, so much so that I will be returning for Afternoon Tea or Lunch (it is proving hard to choose between the two) with my Grandparents for my birthday on 17th April - just the three of us having a delicious treat as everyone else will be at work! I absolutely cannot wait to go back, and try more of the menu. A definite gem to have joined the cobbled streets of Cambridge, and one that will be extremely popular with both residents and visitors to the city.     *My food/drink here was complimentary, but as always all views and opinions are my own.  " target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

THE IVY COMES TO CAMBRIDGE

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Beth Sandland and Chloe Plumstead. It is a well-known fact amongst my peers that I am quite an opinionated person, but try to remain as polite as possible when expressing my views. So that is exactly what I am aiming to do here too. If you agree or disgaree with my thoughts, please feel free to comment or message me. I honestly love hearing different people’s opinions. Anyway, I best stop waffling…. I wonder how many times you have heard the expression ‘blogging is still a relatively new career’? Probably 5000 times…? Slight exaggeration I am sure, but it is still said because it is so true! When you think about how diverse and different it is to any other career out there, and how the majority of the first people to ‘make’ it a career, started out not even realizing it would be a career (how many times do I want to say career). There is no surprise that there are still questions no one has clear answers to. Like how much should I be charging for a campaign? Or should I even be charging at all? Pair that with the huge debacle not so long ago about whether the blogging industry has become too saturated (my opinion, no). Should all bloggers be in the mindset of charging for work, and only taking paid work? After all, there is no denying that the number of bloggers has BOOMED in the past few years. When I started my blog, I had absolutely no idea just how many people had blogs. I still thought I was being completely crazy starting one because no one really had one and what would people think of? Then low and behold, bloggers are EVERYWHERE. Whether their motivation is to make a career out of it, or keep it as a hobby, these larger numbers still mean one thing… competition. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make this into a cat fight, or saying so and so is better than so and so, or “don’t bother trying because you’re set up for failure”. I am one of the biggest “YOU GO GIRL” advocates out there. What I do mean is, with more competition comes having to show your worth. And by worth, I mean that if bloggers are going to try and work with brands on sponsored content, contact them about collaborating or only take on paid work, we have to be able to show the brand that their money is a good investment. One of the biggest pet peeves of mine at the moment is the emphasis people are putting around numbers not being important within blogging. I agree that we shouldn’t be completely hung up on it and let it get us down. But when it comes to brand collaborations, numbers are everything! Brands pay bloggers to advertise, which works unbelievably successfully and many big bloggers have proven it. This paves the way for many others to do the same and shows there is money to be made in influencer marketing, because it WORKS. One of my favourites and biggest blogging inspirations, Lydia Millen, proves it time and time again. For example, the By Terry serum that she adores and raves about is so often out of stock, and countless other times she has mentioned something for it to be out of stock a few days or even hours later. She has built up a loyal following and has the numbers to go with it, which is why she is smashing it out the park with her amazing opportunities. She no doubt gives brands an amazing ROI (return on investment). And essentially, this is what it is all about. Chloe Plumstead eloquently mentioned this in her post too… ‘I’ve also become accustomed to seeing influencers expecting to be paid for their effort alone, even if their content doesn’t offer any potential return on investment for the brand (the relationship has to be mutually beneficial - if they’re not making anything out of paying you for content, why would they pay you in the first place?)’   Blogs have become the place to find trustworthy reviews, a more relatable place for brands to advertise than magazines. But what is paid advertising without the readers? Frankly, it’s a waste of money. Brands invest their money in bloggers – looking to see that ROI. It may sound harsh, but it is the reality. I am by no means disregarding smaller bloggers charging for campaigns or reaching out to work with companies AT ALL. I am more emphasizing the point that you have to be able to prove that you are worth the brand investing in. I have seen people with a small following produce some of the most professional and creative content, so it does seem somewhat unfair to say smaller bloggers categorically shouldn’t be paid. Plus we can’t forget that being recognised by a brand is a gift in itself. I remember first being contacted by a brand and was over the moon that someone had recognised the content that I was creating and reached out to me. To start with the brands may not pay you actual money, but products do still have a monetary value. And if the brand then sees that you have a good influence and are able to help promote and sell their product then they will keep coming back. The more you put out quality content and show that people care about what you are saying, the more recognition you will get from brands and the more rewards they may be willing to pay you. Of course there may be times when you personally believe that what you are being asked to do for a gifted item is too much, but that is down to the individual to judge. In my eyes, there is nothing wrong at all in publishing a blog post or instagram post in exchange for a gifted item. Beth Sandland explains perfectly how she feels equally passionate about the products she is paid to promote and the ones she is gifted. Whilst also referring back to the fact that the relationship between brand and blogger, has to be mutually beneficial. “From the brand or business perspective – and of course this is speculative and purely my view based on my experiences – there has also got to be something that makes offering a free product or service worthwhile. From their view, they are paying you in kind.” And remember, despite me barking on about numbers in terms of your following for paid content – you don’t JUST have to restrict yourself to using those to sell yourself. ENGAGEMENT IS EVERYTHING. Engagement is one of the most popular words I see surrounding blogging; it’s a bloggers best friend, and the other number along with our following we are all trying to increase. As a small blogger, if you have a high engagement; make a song and dance about it to brands. It proves that people pay attention to your content; they ENGAGE with you and are more than likely listening to what you have to say. It is your brand, so use your voice to sell yourself – no one knows it better than you do.

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SHOULD ALL BLOGGERS BE PAID?

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I know for sure that it is so easy to get caught up in the whole ‘my life isn’t successful enough’ mindset, which drags you down no end. Of course, our favourite thing to say is… ‘Social media plays a great part in this’ - ironic that I will be pushing this post all over social media. How many times have you heard that phrase? Probably well into the double digits, because it is SO TRUE. I love social media, just as much as your average millennial - it is engrained into our being. We are the generation of #newjob, #firsthouse and splurging everywhere how ecstatic, happy and grateful we are for EVERYTHING. Then two days later crying into our Dominos with Garlic and Herb dip (if you don’t like the dip, WHY) about how we feel super behind compared to our peers. When will we ever feel successful and like we have achieved something? Or even remotely like we know what we are doing? But then I stop in my tracks, halfway through scoffing my pepperoni passion, and think why can’t we just strive for happiness? In fact, why do I even say JUST strive? Surely happiness should be the one thing we do strive for, above all. This morning, I saw someone tweet ‘Why does being in your early 20s feel so much like only having 5 years of your life left in which you need to achieve as much as possible? Why do I feel like I have an approaching deadline for success?’ Which I hastily quote tweeted ‘THIS’. Because the scary thing is, I have never related to anything so much recently as I did to that tweet. It is a feeling I know all too well, and frankly I don’t even know WHY I feel like that. Life has NO strict timeline, but the pressure we put on ourselves to have our lives together, and to have achieved ‘success’ to be happy, is somewhat crazy. Our lives are always evolving and changing, even in our later life. For example, both my Mum and Dad who are in their early forties (love you Mum and Dad, please don’t be mad for me sharing your age) have both made huge career steps in the past year, and I am SO proud of them. They have children, a house and it wasn’t too late for them to better their careers, but it wasn’t the definitive deal breaker of their happiness. If you have goals, GREAT! Go for it, and do it with all the passion you have, but don’t allow the process of getting there rid you of your happiness, or even define it. If you aren’t at the point you wanted to be at a certain time, don’t panic, you can still do it. No one said you needed to have bought a house by 25. No one said you need to have had children by 30. No one said you have to travel the world to ‘find yourself’. And if people are saying this, IGNORE THEM. We need to squash the idea of needing to succeed and have everything sorted right here and now. Live by your timeline and embrace it, no matter what age you are. Yes life goes scarily quickly, and we are always told life is too short, but realistically we have SO MUCH TIME. Go with your instinct, take your time, take leaps of faith and trust that putting your happiness first will ultimately lead to a life you love. Take your time to figure out what you want to do in your career, take a spontaneous city break instead of spending all weekend doing your washing, and treasure every moment with those you love and care about – because ultimately these are the things we will remember and be thankful for when we take time to catch our breath ten, twenty or however many years down the line. There are no dress rehearsals in life, so allow the you now to live and be happy, for the you in the future. Just a little disclaimer, I also include having down days in my idea of happiness. I truly believe it is SO important to allow yourself to ride through every emotion you feel and not bottle it up. If you need a day in bed to take in and process all that life throws at you, you are still choosing your happiness over letting anything else define you.

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NOT ALLOWING SUCCESS TO DEFINE YOUR HAPPINESS

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perfume* (one of my ultimate fave gifts to give and recieve) to socks! I hope you find something to inspire any Valentine's purchases!

FRAGRANCE

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FOR THE MEN

  So, there you have it! A huge Valentine’s Day Gift Guide! I am very envious of any gift a lucky person may receive from the huge array in here, and would really love to know what you will be buying for a loved one this Valentine’s (I love hearing about other peoples gifts), especially if it is something from here! Love, Frances xxx   *This post contains sponsored content and affiliate links." target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT GUIDE 2018

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Confidence Without a doubt, my number one goal is to build my confidence, and really believe in the content I want to create. I know that I am not at my full potential yet, that I can learn more, better my photography, perfect my writing style and so much more; but my number one goal, before anything else, is confidence within my blog. If I don't fully believe in it, how can I ever convince others to believe in it too, and I am not afraid to admit it at all... but I know I can change this! Creativity I truly believe that having my own outlet online, and being able to share it with anyone, is really special. Although not everyone will love it, no one can control your style/content. And that is so exciting!! As humans, we are a creature of habit, and I whole heartedly admit this, especially when it comes to my blog... I really want to be able to push myself with the creativity on my blog. I love creating content, and have so many ideas in my head about encorporating more fashion and travel into my blog. 2018 has definitely kick started a travel bug in me, and I am so ready to visit so many beautiful places and get creative with showing them on here! Connect If you know me well, you know I just never stop talking... ever!! I am such a chatterbox, and adore being surrounded by people I love. I have already met such lovely people through blogging, but I know that there are so many more people out there who would be an absolute dream to meet... maybe people I don't even know of yet! Blogging is a very solo act, and often just a simple chit chat with like minded people can do wonders to kick start new ideas or regain focus. I'd love for more blogger coffee/brunch meetups to happen in 2018, I really love it when people come together and support each other, supportive people are the best! This is most definitely one of the biggest reasons why I would relish at the opportunity to attend The Bloggers' Retreat, hosted by 'Twins That Travel' and 'The Travel Hack', being in an environment filled with like minded and supportive people, an absolute dream! Continual development My blog has never been anything more than a hobby, and still is. But recently, the desire to make it better than ever has really sparked in me, and the drive feels so good! With this though, I know that I need to continue to develop my skills; and as an allrounder. Within developing my skill set, I'd love to become a better photographer, and actually fully understand what to do with a camera. Clear branding is really high on my list, on my blog and throughout my social media - something I know that is really important. I know there are many more areas I can improve on, and that development is an ongoing process, which I know I can achieve with determination, and hopefully a new found confidence! And there you have it... my 2018 blog goals!! Whilst they are not measurable in terms of data, I know that I can look back and be proud of the progress I have made if I really put my mind to these four goals. I am so excited to see what is to come from 2018, not only for myself, but for so many wonderful people within the industry. The opportunites people are being given and are going out and finding themselves, are truly amazing, and prove that hard work really can reep rewards. I am so grateful to have a platform to share anything I wish on, and to anyone who reads it - thank you so much!! I am so excited to knuckle down with this, and hopefully be able to attend The Bloggers' Retreat hosted by the amazing 'Twins That Travel' and 'The Travel Hack' - the exact reason I have written this post, thank you so much for the opportunity girls! I'd LOVE to know anyone elses blog goals, or general goals for 2018!! I am so ready for us all to have a fab year! Love, Frances xxx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

CREATING ACHIEVABLE BLOG GOALS FOR 2018

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post - but all changes that are focused on ME, self care changes which I am determined will have a positive impact on my day to day life, and keep me in that springy bubbly mood, which I love! This got me thinking... if I am going to make these changes for good and stick to them, what better day to really combat this than BLUE MONDAY?!?! So today, I vow to myself to absolutely make this day a #YouMonday!   So, for my #YouMonday, I have decided to do nothing other than one of my favourite things when I come home from work... have the longest soak in a hot bath, and I CANNOT WAIT! After a long day at work, I often struggle to really wind down properly, even whilst taking a bath, so this evening I've got a little helping hand from the amazing Gemporia 'Purify' Spa Collection, perfect for winding down and purifying both my body and mind - essential for a gal like me who can never seem to stop that little brain from whizzing thoughts around her head! The collection includes (all of which smell DIVINE):
  •  Shimmer wash: This gives more of a glow than a full on glitter.
  • Bath Essence: This is a personal favourite of mine. When poured into the bath, the aroma it gives is so beautiful. It really clears my mind and helps me to relax in the bath without worrying about anything else I feel like I should be doing.
  • Candle: Now you all know I LOVE a candle, and the gemstones in this make it even more beautiful, whilst the purifying scent adds to the aroma.
  • Gemstone: The Purify collection is based around the gemstone included, and is such a lovely touch and keepsake.
  • Body Lotion: The perfect finishing touch after a bath. And most definitely helps to keep on the #YouMonday track and looking after your body!
  • Lavender Scented Pillow: I keep this on my pillow and then move it onto my bedside table when sleeping, and the subtle scent of Lavender (as someone who doesn't usually love lavender, I can confirm this is so subtle and not sickly sweet) really helps me to drift off to sleep without any tossing and turning.
I am honestly SO glad I have such a lovely little collection to pamper myself with this evening, and not only one I know that works wonders - but looks amazing in my bathroom too. All of the products are luxurious to use, and in such beautiful packaging; the glass containers really give a spa feel to it and I am incredibly excited for my future self this evening! Here is to us all turning a #BlueMonday into a #YouMonday! Love, Frances xxx    " target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

HOW TO TURN BLUE MONDAY INTO YOU MONDAY

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Paperchase Journals So, I am slighty late on the New Years post bandwagon... although, better late than never?! I honestly had such a busy and hectic Christmas, I felt like I blinked and it was gone! It felt so good just to spend time with family, and switch off from the world. Without even realising I took a very small digital detox - I still posted a few times - but not once did I find myself sat scrolling, as I just didn't have the time, and it felt so good. It also gave me the time to reflect on 2017, and wow I hadn't quite realised what a year it had been for me. 2017 definitely was one of the biggest years for me, in every sense of the word, and one of my favourites so far! When reflecting on what I had done, as I was putting together a little Insta story highlight reel (which is still on the 'highlights' bit of my page if you want to see), I also realised just how hard I am on myself... actually, no, I already knew that... but it definitely put it into perspective even more. Although a year can go very quickly, it actually is a very long time, and you forget how much can change in just a year - I certainly did! In 2017 alone, I turned 21, and had the absolute time of my life! (See my 21st vlog here). I watched Matthew graduate, which was definitely one of my proudest moments of the year! And before he graduated he also found out that he had got his first grad job, which meant we were moving to Cambridge!! Whilst this wasn't planned, it was without a doubt the best thing that happened to us in 2017 - we are both so settled here, love our beautiful new (2 bedroom, so ALL the room for sleepovers!) flat, and it has definitely been a chance for us to realise what we both want for the future. With the move, I also took the plunge and left retail after 2 years, and moved into a career in Digital Marketing. And then early December I got my first car - my beaut little Mini, which is SO amazing to have, the freedom is just incredible!! They were just a few things that happened this year, so it was definitely a good one! Gucci Leather Card Case 2017 as a whole was a year that really grounded me, and finally gave me the long awaited sense of knowing (if only slightly) where my path in life may be headed. I realised that the little things in life really are the most important. To surround myself with people I love, and to cherish every moment with them. I also realised JUST how important taking care of yourself is, and vow to myself that this is the year I will read more, drink more water, read more, and exercise as much as possible. This all got me reaaally thinking. 2017 was just fab, and this positivity that it brought to me has made me SO ready for 2018.
  • I am ready for even more changes, you can't grow without change.
  • I am ready to work HARD!! It is so true that a lot of the time, hard work really can pay off - and I cannot wait to see what I can make from hard work, both in my job and blog!
  • I am ready to take care of myself more, as mentioned above.
  • I am ready to know when to take breaks, and switch off, even from social media - it is so good for the mind.
  • I am ready to cherish every single moment, because life goes so quickly.
  • And most of all, I am so ready to stop thinking too much. This year has really taught me to just live, stop comparing myself and just be proud of every little baby step I take.
NO strict resolutions made to be measured, cos lets be honest I will never stick to them and would be automatically setting myself up for failure... instead I am looking forward to just embracing everything that life throws at me, and having a bloomin' lovely time... oh, and drinking ALOT of Gin. Love, Frances xxx
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WHY I AM SO READY FOR 2018

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Despite this, often, what I project to the outside, is not necessarily exactly what I feel on the inside. This hasn't always been the case, and I feel as I have grown older and experienced more, I have been shaped by these experiences, and definitely knocked by a few. Which in turn has taken away that ultimate confidence, and left me with a doubting little voice inside me, sometimes. I wouldn't ever say I have ever experienced anything really traumatic in my life, but I definitely lost a huge amount of confidence in myself through my university experience (read here). I almost feel as if it is a confidence I will never get back, a confidence different to how I present myself and how I talk to people, and what I say. A deeper confidence than that, more of a confidence within myself and my achievements. Talking about achievements, I LOVE the sense of achievement; feeling like you have really accomplished something, or made a difference - who doesn't love it?! I literally thrive from it, and I am always so scared of my achievements dwindling, I always want to feel like I am achieving, and I think this is where my lack of confidence stems from. With wanting to achieve all the time, I almost feel like it slows me down. I am always thinking of what I want to be doing, rather than where I am and what I am doing right now. I think faster than I live, and faster than I can grow and progress, and this desire to do well for myself almost drags me down to then thinking I am not good enough or achieving enough, because I am not living at at the point of where my brain wants me to be. Comparing myself to others is another huge downfall! I absolutely cannot help it, and I know that I shouldn't, as I have said many times before - and have even written a post about! But still... I find myself doing it over and over again. Despite knowing that I am my own person, and feeling confident with my decisions, and the directions I am taking, I still find myself comparing myself to others, thinking about what I have achieved vs. what they have achieved (there is that stupid achieved word again). Definitely very unhealthy, but one of those things I just seem to do. I think the final point for me around this lack of confidence, is focused on a lack of self belief. I very much used to be the YES person, like yes I can do that, yes I will succeed with that... the list goes on. But what I do find now, is I think over and over in my head, can I do that, will I actually manage to complete that? This definitely stems from a fear of failure, from previous experiences, and knowing how hurtful the feeling of failure can be. But I am definitely learning to push this aside. And luckily for me, that inner stubbornness and original confidence kicks in - especially if someone else puts doubt in my mind, you watch me prove you wrong!! So I just get on with it, or ask for help, but I definitely do doubt my abilities more than I used to. All lack of confidence put aside, I still do feel very lucky that I do have a solid amount of confidence, and am able to natter away at any poor soul who gets the pleasure of talking to me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and if anyone feels the same or different to me? Love, Frances      " target="_blank" rel="nofollow" class="col-xs-6 col-lg-2 product">

THOUGHTS OF AN UNCONFIDENT CONFIDENT GIRL

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Addictive Arts Perfume* range, by Clive Christian - definitely the finishing touch to my pamper routine! First off, I am incredibly lucky to be in the position where I can whisk myself and Matthew off for a night away every now and again. I really feel my happiest when I get to spend quality time with him, and with Matthew working away a lot recently, we thought what better way is there to completely relax than stay in the beautiful Shangri-La Hotel @ The Shard. With an infinity pool, gym and insane views; and the comfiest, biggest beds going - this really is a hub of relaxation, and gives me all the opportunity to chill out and recharge! On a major relaxation day, I put the term 'Netflix and Chill' to really good practise. Wrapping up in a cosy dressing gown, snuggling under the covers and selecting my favourite series, or a feel good film allows me to switch off very quickly and easily and engross myself in the film. Of course, this can't be done without a cup of tea and all my favourite snacks! I am also a huge lover of hot bubble baths, and a long soak does me the world of good. And what better place than to have a soak than here? It is so surreal having to with these incredible views - I wish I could do it all day, everyday! Whilst in the bath, I also love taking good care of my skin. I keep up with a good skincare routine anyway, but love to indulge in a really nourishing face mask and take my time, rather than rushing to fit one in an evening during my work week. Good food is without a doubt, one of my biggest loves in life. And any opportunity to not cook and really enjoy the food without having to prepare it, I'll take! After a bath, I wrap myself back up in that dressing gown, put my favourite music on, and take my time to do my hair and makeup so that I can get myself out to a restaurant for all that yummy food. As someone who is addicted to anything beauty, I find getting ready really relaxing and theraputic. I grab all of my favourite makeup products and all things necessary to do my hair, and go through the usual routine of getting ready - but probably taking 10 times longer than normal, because by this time I'm feeling super zen! Once I'm all ready, it is time for the finishing touch. Perfume. I absolutely cannot go out without applying perfume, it definitely completes an outfit for me, and one of my favourite things to indulge in. My perfume of choice for really special occasions right now - and a relaxing pamper day is most definitely one of those occasions - is the beautiful White Rose Floral scent from the Addictive Arts Perfume range. A suite of three perfume pairs, the Ecstatic fragrance from the Jump up and Kiss Me Quick pair, is the perfect evening scent for me. It had me at the mention of Pink Pepper in this scent, and is the perfect combination of floral and musk - which if you know me well, is my favourite type of scent. The best thing about these fragrances for me, is that they come in pairs, and fortunately enough, Matthew loves the Hedonistic fragrance from the Jump up and Kiss Me Quick pair, which means we can match whilst out on our date night - can't help but find this kinda cute. And now, time for dinner. The perfect end to a super indulgent, relaxing, pamper day. Already cannot wait to do it all over again! What do you love to do to pamper yourself? Love, Frances xxx

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INDULGING IN A PAMPER DAY

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  COSY EVENINGS This year, more than ever, I am finding myself so in love with the fact that this time of year means no excuses to get that door locked as soon as you're home, and settle in for the night. With Matthew and I both in new jobs, and Matthew working away a bit, the time we do get snuggled up in our beautiful new home is so precious. FAMILY TIME If you know me, you will know just how much I adore my family. I am the absolute luckiest person to have such a close knit family, and the most supportive ones going. And this time of year finds me longing even more to spend time with them. I don't even have to be doing anything special, simply being around them is enough for me. CUPS OF TEA I mean, probably one of the most British things to say. But honestly, I cannot go one day without a cup of tea, sad, but true! And when it is chilly outside, I honestly feel like the cup of tea is warming up my whole insides!! And that is without even mentioning the first sip of the first cup of tea in the morning... unreal. FLUFFY SOCKS Not even ashamed to say I am one of those that tucks my PJ bottoms into a long pair of thick fluffy socks. It feels like an absolute dream. HOT BUBBLE BATHS Autumn/Winter sees me triple the amount of baths I have. The feeling of sinking into the steamy hot water, after a day at work and the cold commute home, is for sure one of my favourites. There is something so comforting about the feeling of hot water running over my skin and the perfect winter warmer. COMFORT FOOD Winter food, is far superior to the food I eat in summer. Hot butternut squash and carrot soup, is a firm favourite of mine. And give me alllll the winter veg - carrots, parsnips and swede get a big YUMMM from me. And all of my family will agree with me on this one, nothing beats my Dads roast dinners, his roast potatoes are out of this world... another reason why family time is my fave, all because of Dads roast dinners, haha! Writing this has given me the biggest feeling of content and warmth inside. It is so true that the littlest things in life take up the most room in your heart. What little things are you grateful for in your life, during winter and all year round? This post was inspired by Lydia Elise Millen - her reasons to be happy this winter post resonated so well with me, I love winter! Love, Frances xxx

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BEING GRATEFUL FOR THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE

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