Thursday, 17 October 2013

90. Lifestyle // 21 before 21 FINALE

Some of you may know that I turned 21 on Tuesday, October 15th! I celebrated - in style, of course - in Amsterdam with S, and returned home to a lazy day filled with DVDs and cake, followed by a yummy Indian takeaway with my family on the Wednesday evening. It's been perfect! I will be writing up a post soon about my mini break, and there will be a LOT of photos, so keep your eyes peeled.

Those of you who read my blog religiously (does anybody?! please tell me if you do!) will know that I embarked on a challenge (one of many...) earlier this year; 21 before 21. The challenge is simple: you set yourself 21 tasks to achieve before you turn 21, or 30 before you turn 30, and so on... I set myself this challenge way back on June 8th, meaning that I had 129 days to tick off, at least, a few goals. I've updated each month and now, time is up. So, let's see how I got on...
Green = completed
Red = failed
Health & Beauty
Lose another 20lbs (or reach a weight at which I'm genuinely happy)
erm, yeah, so this didn't happen... I think I maybe gained a pound or two instead, oops!
Stop biting my nails
so this happened... and then didn't... and then did... lets just say it's a work in progress...
Give up smoking
this one was harder than I thought! Any tips are more than welcome!
Get my hair in good condition
literally 834454032 times better thanks to a few hair products which I will be reviewing soon
Reach 50 followers on Bloglovin and 10,000 page views
okay, so I beat my Bloglovin target (thanks guys!) but I'm nowhere near the page views... yet
Attend a Bloggers meet-up or events
despite being invited to several, I've not managed to make any due to anxiety and money issues
Get a proper blog layout
I had this lovely design created for me earlier in the year, but I'm looking for a revamp!
Friends and Family
Arrange my 21st birthday celebrations with friends
*sob story* hardly anyone responded - boo, you guys! - so this didn't happen
Have an amazing time in Amsterdam with S
been there, done that, got that hat
Have enough money saved for a deposit
as mentioned, the whole moving-in-together thang has been put on hold
Read and review one new book each week
yeah, so I managed 5... I'm a busy lady!
Watch and review one new film each week
this one was just too easy
Cook or bake something new each week
I lost track but I'd say I got about halfway there!
Save £600 towards Amsterdam and flat deposit
obviously managed the Amsterdam part but the flat? Not so much
Do not go overdrawn or miss any card payments or bills
don't even talk to me about money... *angry (at myself) face*
Material Matters
Buy a good camera
Treat myself to a Kindle or tablet
Buy or create one item for our new home each week
The Boring Stuff
Pass theory and practical test
well, this is happening... but it just hasn't happened yet!
Find a job that meets my needs, e.g. hours, income, challenging
totes achieved
Pass first module with a minimum overall score of 70%
passed each assignment with an average of 75% #dork

So, as you can see, I achieved 9 1/2 (yeah, I know, does that 1/2 really count? Can't I just round it up?) and failed 10 1/2 of my goals. A bit of a mixed bag, eh? What I've learnt is that I'm pretty good at the easy tasks: buy a camera, watch a film, have a nice holiday... but when it comes to the more challenging goals such as don't go overdrawn, read a book every week and pass my driving test, I've struggled. What does that say about me?
A work in progress.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

89. Guest Post // Food Blogging Exposed

Today's post is a brilliant guest post from a lovely blogger, Samantha, over at Planet Bake Life where she blogs about all things yummy! I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to stop by at Sam's blog to check out some of her delicious recipes!
Food Blogging Exposed: 5 Expectations vs Realities
So this has been a whirlwind year for me! I’ve been blogging for about three years now on and off but this year is the first time I’ve sat down and blogged seriously. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and when I saw a few bloggers doing an Expectation vs Reality post I knew I wanted to do something similar. So here I am!
1// Expectation: Everything will turn out perfectly the first time round even if it’s a new recipe.
      Reality: Stuff flops. You will end up with half risen cakes, uncooked biscuits and burnt loaves. That’s just life and it’s no different in baking. You have no idea how many times I’ve taken biscuits out of the oven when they were meant to be cupcakes or how many cakes have leaked uncooked batter out of the sides. Don’t let it put you off!
2// Expectation: You’ll post every food picture and 20 000 people will like, retweet and comment on them all.
      Reality: You’re going to have to work hard for admirers and you’re going to take 100 000 photos and end up posting 4 of them before you get bored. There is no way around this. Just because something is out there doesn’t mean everyone will find it. The internet is a big place, your photos can get a bit lost.
3// Expectation: Every recipe and post will be loved and people will call for your place as head chef with EVERYTHING.
      Reality: There are a lot of food blogs and you are a very small ripple in the pond. Ripples can become waves but not overnight. You have to work hard on everything you do to create an audience. Not everyone will love your recipes and you won’t be the next Joy The Baker in the blink of an eye. You should write your blog because you love it and not for what you can get out of it in the end. If you get freebies, get paid or even make a living off your blog eventually then that’s cool but you should still enjoy blogging for blogging.
4// Expectation: You’ll use only the most expensive and top quality of ingredients available to mankind.
      Reality: Food is expensive. Even if you can afford truffle oil and vanilla pods on the daily, maybe offer an alternative on the blog for those that can’t? Sure, baking that cake with the most expensive butter will add a different flavour but it’s not strictly necessary and you can always put an alternative in your recipe. It’s important for people to feel like the recipes are accessible and that will help engage them with your blog.
5// Expectation: Every reader will be your friend.
      Reality: Not all bloggers are created equal. There are those that will sneer at all you do because they’re jealous and mean spirited but that’s ok. You’ll learn who your true friends are and you’ll make amazing connections with genuine people who love what you do. These are the people to appreciate and spend your time on. Just like in real life, make friends with people who are positive influences on you.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

88. Beauty // The Procrastinating Beauty Blogger Tag

The gorgeous Liberty over at Liberty Loves Make Up was kind enough to tag me in this very fun beauty bloggers tag. The tag was created by The Beau Bow! At the end of the post I'll be tagging three of my favourite beauty bloggers, so keep your eyes peeled!


1. You must copy and paste these 'rules' onto your post when you write it.
2. You must state that this tag was created by 'The Beau Bow'
3. You must thank the person who tagged you at the start of your post, and at the end state who you tag and remember to let them know.
4. Title 'The Procrastinating Beauty Blogger Tag'
Name a beauty regime that you rarely do...
Exfoliating and moisturising! I do remember to moisturise my face and neck most days, but I can hardly ever be bothered to moisturise my whole body... it just takes so long! Again, I exfoliate my face with face scrubs and washes but never my body. I guess I'm just too lazy!
Is washing your make-up brushes something that you do regularly?
I'll be totally honest here; no. I tried recently to wash my foundation brush with baby shampoo but it didn't work at all, so I'm not sure where I went wrong with that! As for eye shadows and the like, I have a few different brushes so as long as I use certain brushes for lights and others for darker shades, I'm okay!
How long will you last with chipped nail polish?
Urgh, I hate it. That's not to say that you won't see me wandering around with the worst chipped nails on the planet, because you will! But as soon as I see one little chip, I try my hardest to pick it all off. It's disgusting; there's always a trail of little bits of dried up nail polish behind me, when I've been picking at it! I normally have to wait until the weekend, when I have a bit more free-time, to completely remove it though.
How long will you put off buying/replacing a beauty product, even if you need to?
I very rarely run out of beauty products as I tend to go out and get replacements just before they're all used up, especially with foundation and powder as I can't live without them. Seriously, I couldn't even leave the house! When it comes to products like blusher, eye-shadows or kohl liner, I could probably leave it a couple of weeks.
What is your worst beauty habit?
I draw my eye-brows on with a pencil, and I use face wipes... both of which, I believe, are frowned upon by the serious beauty bloggers! I'm hoping to buy myself some proper eye-brow shaping products next month, and I'm also toning it down on the face wipes now that I'm using Senzimi cleanser daily.
Name something non-beauty related that you put off doing all the time...
Oh my God, I could be here all day! I guess the main thing that I put off, or least like doing, is the dishes! I absolutely detest washing dishes. At home, we have a dishwasher which isn't so bad, but at S's there isn't one which means one of us always has to do the dishes! Thankfully, I tend to do the cooking and S will do the dishes in return, so it's usually not so bad.
When going out somewhere, do you leave getting ready until the last minute?
It depends where I'm going but, as a rule, definitely not. I suffer from quite bad anxiety, which mainly rears it's ugly head when I have to leave the house or go somewhere that I'm not familiar with, or with people who I don't feel comfortable around. So, for me, getting ready is a calming process where I can get my thoughts together and really prepare myself, mentally, physically and emotionally, for what's coming. For those reasons, I like to give myself plenty of time to get ready.
Can you commit to spending bans?
For me, a spending ban is pretty tricky but I can manage to cut down on clothes and make-up fairly easily, it's the little things like snacks, DVDs and bottles of wine that I struggle with! 
How organised is your make-up and nail polish collection?
All of my make-up is squished into one make-up bag that I carry with me everyday, as I split my time between my family home and S's house, so it's not very organised at all - but at least it's all together! The products that I don't use very often are stored in a box in my cupboard, or in a little pot on my chest of drawers. My nail polishes are all lined up next to my television so they're easy to find, but not organised in any special way! I am hoping to get more organised with my products very soon.
I hope you enjoyed reading my answers, I'm going to tag:
Ella at Hello Ella

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

87. Travel // Travel Wishlist

I love travel, and I love wishlists... Yup, it's a travel wishlist!

I got the idea from Amy at Cocktails in Teacups who wrote a wonderful wanderlust wishlist of places in the UK that she'd like to visit. I thought I'd do my own version of the top 3 places that I am desperate, and I mean desperate, to see.

1. New Zealand

If you followed me way back when in May, you'll know that I took part in the Blog Everyday in May challenge. One of the topics I had to write about was my travel dreams. I chose New Zealand. It may seem a pretty standard choice; good weather, hot guys, cute accent... but it's somewhere that I 100% have my heart set on moving to. As you'll know, I'm a big fan of lists, planning and organisation; I have a 10-year-plan which involves emigrating to New Zealand with S. It's a dream of both of ours; he visited when he was 18, for a month, and stayed with his extended family over there. He's told me so many amazing stories about the place and, through my own research (which, sadly, hasn't involved actually visiting!) it's led me to the conclusion that it would be an incredible place to live. Someone want to lend me £10,000, yeah?
2. Thailand
Thailand looks like a pretty immense place. I'm not talking about the cities - although I'd love to see Bangkok, but probably only very briefly! - but the beaches. Oh my God, the beaches. White sand, dazzling blue seas, hammocks, cocktails... I could go on and on. Not to mention the food?! Imagine spending a fortnight staying in a beach hut, sipping cocktails on the beach, swimming in the ocean... and then trekking through the National Parks, exploring the cities and experiencing real Thai life... Well, a girl can dream!
3. Germany 
A slightly much more realistic travel dream of mine is to visit Germany. There is so much that I want to see; from where the Berlin wall once stood, to the horrors of the concentration camps, right up to the beautiful mountains of Bavaria (seriously, Google Neuschwanstein Castle!) I think the German culture is so misunderstood and, in reality, it looks like a gorgeous place; very clean, lots to do and such a mix of modernity and traditionalism, in terms of architecture, food and so much more. I'd love to spend Christmas in Germany, it's a genuine dream of mine, as I picture it as just the perfect place: curled up next to the fire in a log cabin in the Bavarian Alps, opening presents and sipping hot chocolate (perhaps with a shot of Jagermeister in there to liven things up!)... Perfect. You can find out more about German Christmas traditions here.
If you could visit anywhere in the whole world, where would it be?
*All images are sourced from Pinterest*

Sunday, 6 October 2013

86. Recipes // Hearty Chicken Pie

Now that it's officially Autumn, I'm looking forwards to trying out some heartier comfort food recipes. The first of these is a hearty chicken pie, but not just any chicken pie... it's a chicken, leek, mushroom and bacon chicken pie. Yum.

Saturday afternoon was my first ever attempt at making puff pastry. Well, at making pastry of any type to be honest! I read a few different recipes, received a couple of tips from helpful Twitter-er-er-er's (?!) including James Morton from Great British Bake Off *swoon* and, kind of, mixed them all together... It didn't exactly go to plan, let's be honest here, it wasn't really puff pastry in the end. It was more like shortcrust pastry, but the fact that I made some form of edible pastry is good enough for me. 

I won't be sharing my pastry recipe as, to be honest, I sort of winged it. I chucked some flour and butter in a bowl, mixed it a bit, rolled it a bit, folded it a bit, chilled it and then rolled it out again... it was very haphazard, and I don't know how it even managed to work! So, let's focus on the filling of the pie instead which was delicious (not that I mean to blow my own trumpet!)

Please excuse the burnt edges and the poor quality phone-camera photograph...


400g chicken breast, diced
1 large onion, sliced
2 large leeks, thickly sliced
Handful of button mushrooms, sliced
180ml white wine
150ml double cream
1tsp mustard
1tsp dried taragon
150ml chicken stock (hot)
300g bacon lardons or sliced bacon
Black pepper to season
1 egg


1. Heat the oil and fry the onions and leeks until softened,
2. Add the chicken and bacon and fry until browned,
3. Add the mushrooms and fry until slightly soft (not browned though)
4. Pour in the chicken stock and wine and simmer for 5 minutes,
5. Pour in the cream, bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes,
6. Add any seasoning; e.g. the taragon, mustard and black pepper,
7. Leave to cool for 20-30 minutes,
8. Once cooled, pour into a pie dish and cover with pastry (shop bought or homemade),
9. Heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 200-220 degrees celsius,
10. Brush the top of the pie with egg and snip a tiny slit in the middle for the air to escape,
11. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top

Serve with mashed potato and vegetables.

I really loved this pie; it is honestly one of my favourite savoury recipes that I've cooked and I was really pleased with how it came together. It went down a real treat with S, my mum and my brother. I just wish I'd taken more photographs before it was scoffed!

The initial inspiration for this recipe came from Jamie Oliver's chicken and leek pie recipe which can be found here

Saturday, 5 October 2013

85. Beauty // Sleek Face Form Contouring Palette

I have a big face.
There, I said it. It's out there in the open... my face is huge! I have chubby cheeks, a big chin, no real definition; it's not great.
I first heard about contouring when I had my make-up done at the Benefit counter earlier in the year; my make-up artist managed to completely change the shape of my face. I had cheekbones! I had a jawline! I had everything. I vowed that, come payday, I would return and purchase some products that would stop my moonface. But I didn't. I totally forgot.
That was until somebody on Twitter (sorry, I can't remember who!) mentioned Sleek. I'd never heard of Sleek before so I was slightly dubious. However, I googled the company and found lots of brilliant reviews, in particular for their Face Form contouring and blush palette. I quickly popped it in my basket and a couple of days later, it arrived.
As you can see, the packaging is pretty nice (the images look like chunks of chocolate or fudge, *drools*). It comes in a small cardboard box which - unfortunately - is quite hard to get open (well, I struggled...) and in the end, I had to rip the end off as I couldn't get the palette out of the box.

The palette itself is exactly as you'd imagine: sleek. The colours inside are gorgeous! I went for the Light 373 palette, as I'm fairly pale but have rosy cheeks so I'm by no means Snow White. The blush is a beautiful rose shade, the contouring powder itself is a deep, rich golden-brown and the highlighter is, well, white, I guess, although mine is now slightly pale pink as I used to same brush for my blush and highlighter: rookie mistake!

I've been using this palette for the last few weeks but most days I only use the blusher. Why, you ask? Well, I'll be honest. I'm not a huge fan of this palette. I don't know whether it's the way I've been applying it, or if it's my skin, or the brush I'm using or whether - well - it's the product itself, but it just doesn't seem to work for me.

The blusher is great but, to be honest, it just does the same as any other blusher, except it has a little more sparkle, but the contouring powder makes my face look dirty. Seriously, it looks like I have sideburns when I use it. I watched a tutorial online of how to use it and, even when I followed the guide step-by-step, it still looked the same. The highlighter, on the other hand, makes my face ridiculously shiny! I had been applying it down the centre of my nose and above my cheeks, but after a couple of days of use, I decided not to bother.
Another issue that I had with this product was that, when I wore it, it was extremely obvious. I looked as though I had caked on another 739532 layers of make-up, and that is not a good look. Even by the end of day one, my make-up looked cracked and, well, just weird.
I'm really disappointed and disheartened by this product as I was expecting to absolutely love it. I think it'd be better - for me, personally - on a night out where the lighting isn't quite so bright, but in the daytime it just doesn't look right on me, I'm sorry to say!
You can purchase the Sleek Face Form contouring and blush palette from the Sleek website for £9.99, if you want to give it a go yourselves.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

84. Travel // Sedbergh, Cumbria

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend four wonderful days with my mother, visiting my grandparents at their beautiful home in Sedbergh, which lies on the edge of both the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. It really is just heaven on earth; a peaceful haven. I thought I'd share a few photographs from my trip.

This was the perfect opportunity for me to test out my new camera. The weather wasn't particularily bright, but the skies were very atmospheric which you will see in several of the later photographs.

This cute cow was adorable. I shot this from quite a distance but I'm happy with how it came out!

Mum and I went for lots of walks, with Jess (my grandparents gorgeous border collie), along the bottom of the Howgill Fells.

The colours of the rolling hills around my grandparents were perfect for some intense, atmospheric shots, but not quite so nice when you're walking up little paths and lanes late at night by yourself. Yorkshire Ripper, anyone?

Watching the cows coming in for milking. This was terrifying. I had forgotten how huge cows are close up!

I also spent a lot of time in my grandparents garden, looking for bright and beautiful photographs that I could snap. I was pleased with how these two came out!

As well as the incredible scenery, I was treated to lovely meals out and a spot of shopping with my Grandma too! We visited Kendal where I bought some gorgeous, cosy winter boots. We also visited The Bath House (check out their website, their products are gorgeous!) which was full of brilliant goodies, including Earl Grey lip balm and Gin and Tonic bath salts! 

If you're ever heading into Cumbria or Yorkshire, I'd also recommend stopping at the Westmorland Service Station, at Tebay, which has the most delightful farm shop, pond and cafe, selling some amazing produce. 

We visited an amazing gastro-pub named The Pheasant Inn in Casterton, where I had baked pan fried hake, butternut squash puree, roasted peppers & buttered new potatoes which was just delicious, and after shopping one afternoon, mum and I popped into Duo in Sedbergh where I had this scrumptious hot chocolate.