Nomination for the Liebster Award 2017!

Having started blogging again properly only this year, I have only recently become familiar with this little thing called the ‘Liebster Award’. So when I was nominated, I needed to do some thorough research on what exactly it was. Now I’m all clued up, and here we are!

For those who don’t know, The Liebster Award is an award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome, which is completely lovely!

Thank you to Life Of Lynda (http://www.lifeoflynda.ie) for my first Liebster Award nomination! I have read a lot of other bloggers’ posts to help me and they look really fun – to write and to read! Its an opportunity to see a different side of bloggers, and as I haven’t really done a more chatty post in a while (although I have a few planned), I thought I’d give it a go! Lets get started!

Life of Lynda’s questions:

1. If money wasn’t an object and you could only choose one would you travel the world and stay living where you are or move someplace new and where would you go?

This is a difficult one, because there is nothing I would love more than the opportunity to travel the world. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to move somewhere new. And in a world where money is no object, there is only really one place I would want to move to. New York. What a shock! Okay, maybe not. I’m a town girl, and have always loved the hustle and bustle of city life. There are plenty of cities in the UK that I love too, but NY is just the most beautiful place I have ever visited and I love it. I won’t bore you much more. I have written a blog post about it too, so if you haven’t been and want to see what all the fuss is about, or you have and you want to relive the magic, go and check it out!14117917_10154052714102858_9033267360339865851_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. If you could go on a shopping spree with one blogger, who would it be?

I’d love to go shopping with Hannah Gale (http://hannahgale.co.uk). I have only been blogging again properly since July but in that time, I have followed her blog and YouTube channel religiously. She has such a sense of style and as soon as any fashion related post pops into my email, I just have to read it! Its a rare occasion when I don’t find myself with a need for pretty much all of the things mentioned, particularly knitwear or jumpers, owing to the looming Autumn season. Apparently I’m not the only one either. Through Hannah’s blog I actually found a jumper that I love, but its been so popular that I haven’t yet been able to get my hands on it! Sad times. To be able to go shopping with her would just be fab, I admire her a lot and she just seems like an all-round lovely person!

3. Whats your favourite accessory?

I’m hoping that this means fashion accessories! I have two accessories that I love the most. This is great because I only picked them both up on a whim this Summer! The first thing I have to mention are these sunglasses from River Island. Before this pair, I only really had one pair (how criminal), that I wore everywhere. I’d just never really thought about having another pair, you only have one face right? BUT I think these are just too pretty. I love the gold with the leopard print detailing around the rim, I think its so cute! I can be certain that I am going to be living in these through next Summer.

The second thing is a necklace from Forever 21. The one that I actually have isn’t on the website at the moment, but I have found a link to a similar one here. Its so simple, but still so pretty and works with any outfit, smart or casual. I love it!

4. What are your favourite trends at the minute?

My favourite trend at the moment would have to be flatforms. For those of you who don’t know, they are like more casual type of wedges. I wear them literally everyday and I’ve featured my fave pair in my ‘Pleats are Here to Stay’ post. I could talk about them for England here, but I won’t bore you again. If you want to read more about what they are and what they look like, you can click here. The long and short of it is that they are the best shoe discovery I have ever made. I have literally been buying them like they are going out of fashion (I just chuckled at my own joke, oops). Well, they will at some point, so I need to be prepared for that moment. I have them in most colours but still not enough to work with every outfit I currently own…. So yes, I do need more.

5. Where would you like to be in 10 years?

The scariest thing about this question is the realisation that in ten years I will be thirty. Throughout my twenty years of life so far, I’ve never found or settled on a career path. I’ve had many desired careers over the years, yes, but none that I have pursued into adulthood. Until this year, since which time this little blog of mine has become my favourite thing! I love everything about it. Writing things down in my own little space, spending hours putting together the perfect flatlay, taking photographs and of course getting involved in the lovely blogging community. I just love how free you can be with it. I’ve seen it open so many doors for different bloggers and that is so exciting to me! This blogging journey (however short it may be thus far) is shaping up to be a great one, and I hope that continues in ten years time.

6. Whats your favourite thing about Christmas?

More to the point, what’s NOT my favourite thing about Christmas?! I love the build up to it (although I always feel a little deflated once it has been and gone). The decorations, buying presents, giving presents, Christmas songs, Christmas baking, Christmas lights, daily advent chocolates…. The list goes on. Its so magical and I just love everything about it. And that’s before Christmas Day! I would say that my favourite thing about Christmas Day itself is probably my Mum’s roast dinner. It is HUGE, but so delicious and without it, it wouldn’t be Christmas. I love that it brings the family together to celebrate, sharing those cheesy cracker jokes, all of which you probably know the punchline of, wearing the hats (yes, we always wear those awfully flimsy coloured paper hats, why not), and just having fun. This Christmas will be slightly different for me this year, as I am taking part in Blogmas! This is a big thing for me but I’m very excited to get started. This year, I’ll be able to document and share all of the things that I love the most about Christmas with you. YAY! If there are any particular things that you would like me to post about during Blogmas, please let me know!

I’m very aware of how many times I’ve said Christmas in this small little paragraph, so don’t worry, I’ll stop now.

7. Summer or Winter?

I love Winter, purely for the cosy vibes. I live for the Winter nights when I can cosy up, shielded from the cold, wind and rain, in my PJ’s, under a blanket by the fire. I’m a bit of a sucker for a hot water bottle too – the more cosy the better!

Having said that, I don’t cope well at all in the cold. Right now in the UK we are in that kind of transitional weather where its totally unpredictable and I hate it. On the whole, I get grouchy and shiver a lot. Mind you, this is often down to withdrawal symptoms from my Summer wardrobe. Yes, really. I simply refuse to believe that it is cold. It is not, and I will wear a sleeveless top, or my absolute fave dungarees if I want thank you very much. Summer clothing just makes the shopping saga so much easier, and means my wardrobe is more versatile, unlike winter, when its just sleeves, jumpers, cardigans etc etc.  Aside from the fashion (which did I mention I love a lot), I also love Summer because it means sun. I always need more sun in my life. Give me all the vitamin D! It makes me so happy, I love feeling the warmth of the sun on my face! Also, I pretty much always have cold feet, particularly in the Winter, so the Summer brings welcome relief that finally I am able to walk around freely, my feet feel a much warmer and I am actually comfortable! So, in answer to this question, summer, summer, summer!

8. Whats your favourite Book/Film?

This is an easy one for me. My favourite book has to be ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls. I won’t give away too much in case any of you want to read it, but its based on two characters, Dexter and Emma, who met at University. The story starts on 15th July 1988, and revisits their lives on that same day throughout the next 20 years.

Most of all, I love the way its written. Each chapter explores the next year of their lives and how their careers and relationships have developed in that time. It was so gripping for me, because you ‘miss’ a little bit of their lives between each chapter, so I found myself wanting to read more, to find out exactly what had changed in the ‘hypothetical’ year that had passed. The ultimate story focuses on how the two characters are bought together, but I love how emphasis is also placed on the who characters as individuals. David Nicholls writing style is so personal, and he explores relationships between characters so deeply, which really helps you to connect with them.

If you enjoy reading romance novels, then I’m sure you will love this book. I had never cried at a book before, but I found myself shedding a tear or two. I shed even more when I saw the film – which I watched straight away after finishing the book, so I advise having tissues! There is so much more I could say about it, but instead I’ll just say that I completely fell in love with the story and I couldn’t put it down.

9. Whats your favourite colour?

Its difficult to choose just one, so I’m going to give a mention to both of my faves.

I’m quite a fan of the colour aqua. Not the fluorescent blue kind, but with more of a green tone. I have always loved it, so much so that its the colour of one of my bedroom walls, as well as being featured on my laptop case, and who could forget, my blog format! So you could say that there is a bit of a running theme…..

But its lovely and odd as it may seem, its kind of calming for me, because it reminds me of the seaside and I love the sea.

My other favourite colour is rose gold. I will admit that I don’t own as many things in this colour, but if you have read my recent Zoella review blog post, you will know that I received the rose gold vanity case, which I fell totally in love with. The colour is just so pretty and I love how versatile it is. It works well with a lot of different colours, and anything I see in this colour becomes immediately more attractive to me. But I manage to restrain myself (mostly).

10. Facebook or Instagram?

I would say I prefer Instagram. My Facebook these days is just full of memes and although I often find myself chuckling at them, I do prefer looking at something a bit more exciting. I love scrolling through Instagram and seeing what people are posting, particularly flatlays and lovely outfits! Aside from that, I like that its really easy to use, and I can share a photo almost instantly. A lot of bloggers I know have recently had issues with Instagram, and almost fallen out of love with it a little. But I have to say that I haven’t lost faith in it yet. And anyway, I prefer using it just to enjoy posts right now, rather than to promote my blog.

11. Whats your favourite sport to play or watch?

I don’t actually play any sports, but I would say my favourite to watch is probably Gymnastics. I think its so underrated, and should have a lot more coverage. When the Olympics comes around, I am glued to it and I am filled with an overwhelming sense of disappointment that I am not that flexible! I have always said that in another life, I would want to be a gymnast. It would be so much easier and it would make for an interesting mode of transport – literally, I would flip everywhere!

My Questions:

1) What countries/places would you most like to visit and why?

2) What’s the most important thing that blogging has taught you?

3) What do you do when you are struggling to come up with post ideas?

4) Do you have any pets?

5) Who are your favourite bloggers and what is your favourite post of theirs?

6) How do you most like to spend an Autumn day?

7) Who inspires you?

8) What is your favourite book/film?

9) What is your favourite quote?

10) A ‘fun fact’ about you?

11) What is your proudest achievement?

 

I would like to nominate:

Elliebowsandsparkles – elliebowsandsparkles.blogspot.co.uk

Laura Jayne – laurajanerogers.wordpress.com

Corinne & Kirsty – corinneandkirsty.com

Forever September – foreverseptember.co.uk

Its Fine The Blog – itsfinetheblog.com

Pint Sized Beauty – pintsizedbeauty.com

Safffy Dixon – saffydixon.com

Lucie Seviour – lucieseviour.wordpress.com

Styled By Eva – styledbyeva.com

Itsactuallyhan – itsactuallyhan.wordpress.com

Happeningwithhannah – happeningwithhannahblog.wordpress.com

I’m really looking forward to reading your responses!

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Zoella – Jelly & Gelato Range Review!

Those who know me well will know that I have been a Zoella fan for a long time. I have purchased products from her previous beauty ranges before and loved them, so when the Jelly and Gelato range came out, I just knew I had to test it out. Mostly in the past I have managed to find time to pop into my local Superdrug and smell the products, but this time (aside from seeing the packaging and Zoe’s introduction video), I was going in completely blind. So blind in fact, I had no idea what I was buying – I challenged my sister to order some products for me based on what she thought I might enjoy. So, when the package arrived at my door, it was a total surprise. Having tested them out (pretty much straight away), I just couldn’t resist sharing with you my thoughts on the range.

Vanity Case

I have lived under the impression that I am an organised person. Its something that I have always been very proud of. So initially, despite that I loved it, I was slightly worried that it would be lost on me. I decided instead that I was going to use it for storage purposes. That was until I decided to move all my make up from my current make up bag (also Zoella, the pink one with the guinea pig on if you are interested), into the vanity case. I forgot how much make up I actually owned. You know that annoying thing you sometimes do where you shove everything to the bottom of the box and forget about it? It was very much this kind of situation.

Sitting here now, I can safely say that this was a product that I didn’t realise I needed, nor how much I would appreciate. Having used it successfully for the first time today, It has quickly become one of my favourite things to have received in my Superdrug package. It is quite large, so its not the most travel-friendly of bags, however it is very deep. This is great, because it means that the entire contents of my make-up bag now fits perfectly in one case – and there is room for more! Contrary to my first thoughts, it is not bulky and it is really easy to retrieve things from inside. The zip is really handy for this too, as its really quick to open and close the case.

I adore the design – I am a big fan of rose gold so one look was all it took for me to fall in love! The cream compliments the design of the bag really well and the polka dots are so cute! If you haven’t already guessed, I love love love it!

Body Pudding

I am so bad at moisturising. I know that I should, and when I do I feel so much better, but it just feels like such a chore for me. Over the years, I have purchased moisturisers, with good intentions, convincing myself that yes, this time I WILL use it (because I need to), and yes, I will finish the bottle. Years later, I am ashamed to say that neither of these things have happened.

I opened the tub wondering if this one too would meet the same fate.  I was so wrong.

Seriously, where has this product been all my life?! The thing I love most is that its not just your normal moisturiser – it has the tiniest pink beads embedded into it, which disappear once you rub it into your skin and release moisture. The formula is amazing and I am not exaggerating when I say that my skin felt completely moisturised all day. The Elderflower and Pomegranate scent is particularly lovely in this and lasts really well. Not to mention that the whole thing just looks like a tub of whipped ice cream. Sounds great, right?

I can safely say that I am now a moisturising convert. Its something I am sure I am going to be obsessed with – definitely worth a repurchase!

Cream Scrub

I have purchased body scrubs before and they are always one of those things I forget that I have. Its only when I start using them that I remember how much I enjoy them. So when the cream scrub arrived in my package, I told myself I was going to make a conscious effort to try and use them. I was so aware of this in fact, that I used it before remembering that I wanted to take a photo of the inside for this blog – oops!

The first thing I noticed (and loved) about the scrub was the colour. Its a really striking orange, which is lovely and reminds me so much of a sorbet! The combination of this and the packaging makes it appear as quite a luxurious product. It smells divine too – if you aren’t keen on a stronger scent, then this would work well as it is a lot more subtle than some of the other products in the range.

The scrub made my skin feel soft, and I enjoyed using it a lot. But, I did find that to do this, I had to use quite a large amount of it at one time. The beads in the scrub are very small, so its quite gentle on the skin. I prefer a grittier body scrub, so this was a little disappointing for me, as everything else about the product I really liked.  Nevertheless, this won’t stop me using the product. Personally, I think actually using a larger amount of the product will pay off, as the more you use, the grittier the scrub becomes. Whatever your preference, the scrub feels great on the skin and leaves it feeling moisturised.

Shower Shake

Who doesn’t love a good shower gel?  Especially one with packaging as cute as this – the little straw detail is just adorable. My house has gathered quite a collection of shower gels. The difference with this one over the shower sauce (which I also tried out), is that it is a moisturising shower cream. This was the first of the shower products that I tried, and I have to say, I was a little skeptical to begin with. Compared to a shower gel, the consistency is quite unusual. But it certainly fulfils its purpose in terms of the moisturising. It lathers quite well and it left my skin feeling so soft and shiny! The Elderflower and Pomegranate scent really came through in the Shower Shake also made me feel so fresh.

This product is definitely something I will be adding to our ever-expanding selection. For somebody like me who moisturises much less than I know I should, Shower Shake is a godsend! I’ve heard its also great for shaving your legs which I am yet to try but if it works well, this is a bonus.

Shower Sauce

After testing the Shower Shake and absolutely loving it, I was really eager to see how the Shower Sauce compared to it. It has the consistency of your normal shower gel, so if the idea of a moisturising shower gel does not wash with you (awful pun intended, I’m sorry), then I think this product will definitely be more up your street.

I was really impressed with how well it lathers on the skin, more so than with the Shower Shake. I only needed a small amount of it and when I rubbed it into my skin, it created a really lovely foam. It left my skin feeling really nourished and smelling incredible. I don’t think the scent lasts as well as it could, but despite that, my skin feels soft and just lovely for hours after use.

And who could forget that lovely shade of red! I think it works really well with the summer vibe of the range and the likeness to strawberry sauce is uncanny! Had I not known it was a shower product, I would have been fooled into thinking it was the real thing. Alas, I do know and as a result, this ‘sauce’ will not be eaten! But it really takes me back to my childhood and having strawberry sauce on ice cream, which I love.

Gelat’Eau Body Mist

I love using body mists and perfumes and have a few different ones in my house. Saying that, I am very selective with the perfumes that I use. When I find a scent that I like, pretty quickly it is gone. I think the reason that I am so choosy is mostly because of the wear. I have found many perfumes that I like, but upon trying them out, I find that they don’t last very long. And I am not one of those people who carries around a mini bottle of the scent in their handbag – those people really have their life together!

So when I tried the Zoella Gelat’Eau Body Mist, good wear was one of the things I was looking for the most. I have now used the body mist a couple of times and I have to say it is super! On both occasions, I was out for a long period and I was continually catching a whiff of it. Oddly, this WAS one of the scenarios where I felt like I had my life together.

Another thing I loved was that I didn’t have to use a lot of it at one time – each spray was so generous. Maybe this is the secret behind why it lasts so long…. BUT at least that means I got to smell glorious for a little more time! I have heard many conflicting reviews about the scent, but without knowing what it was like, it was difficult to form an opinion. I would say that compared to the other items in the range, the scent of the body mist does appear to be a little stronger, and its probably not everybody’s cup of tea, but if like me you’re a fan of a fruity, fresh scent then you will love it! To me, it completely screams summer. Although I am looking forward to Autumn, inevitably, there will be times when I miss being able to wear dungarees and my favourite sunnies, eat ice cream and do everything quintessentially summer. In those times, this scent will be a great comfort!

And I couldn’t finish this section without mentioning the packaging! This is probably a bold statement, but I really do think that out of all the ranges, the design of this range is my favourite. The pastel colours of the body mist bottle really compliment each other and match the summery feel perfectly. Basically, this body mist is a win and long may it remain in my (small) perfume collection!

If you have tried the Jelly and Gelato range, I would love to hear your thoughts! If you haven’t tried it yet, you can shop the range here. Also, if there are any products not mentioned here that you love and think I should try, let me know –  I will probably love it so I will want it in my life ASAP!

A Year On…. My Fave Five Adventures in NY!

Without doubt, New York is the best place I have visited so far. That may not be surprising to you, as it is widely spoken about in the media in this way, being given names like ‘The Big Apple’ and ‘The City That Never Sleeps’. It was these kinds of reviews that gave New York such prominence in my mind and placed it right at the top of my holiday list.

It certainly did not disappoint and since visiting, I have fallen in love with it even more than I had. So it seems fitting that a year on, I share with you what I loved most about the city, and my fave five adventures whilst there!

Macy’s Department Store

My first fave has to be our visit to Macy’s department store. Its funny, when you see it in TV shows, it looks big, but I was not prepared for the real thing! To put it in perspective for you, we spent HOURS in there – all morning and into the early afternoon – and we didn’t even go to all eleven floors!

We did have a thorough look through as much as we could, and it was crazy how much there is. Everything from clothes, shoes and accessories to brands, handbags and homeware! And did I mention the replica set of Central Perk from the sitcom Friends? I could have bought plenty of things if it weren’t that I had to fit it in a suitcase (and a plane) home. But the thing that blew me away most is the floor piano. You read that right, a floor piano (a GIANT one at that). As if it couldn’t get any cooler, its the original floor piano that was used in the Tom Hanks movie, ‘Big’. Remember that moment in the film where Tom plays a tune on that floor piano with the manager of the store? I had a little go at playing it myself, but unfortunately it didn’t quite match up to his rendition. It was still great fun!

Macys

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The Empire State Building

This just had to be on my list – it is one of the most talked about NY attractions, and was one of the most exciting things I did during my trip! It even looks exciting from the outside – its ridiculously tall (as you would expect) and has a bright red carpet at the entrance. Pretty hard to miss! The inside was incredible. For such an old building, it was so modern and full of character! The combination of the marble floors and the colour scheme, which carried through the entire building made it look so elegant – its one of the most instagrammable places ever! The queues there move pretty quickly so you won’t be waiting too long, just the right amount of time for you to get that perfect shot! Soon after that you are escorted into a lift where you are taken up to level 80, and then the first observatory level on the 86th floor.

I don’t think I was quite prepared for the view that would greet me on the other side of the doors. I stood in awe for a really long time. It was quite something. The view was a real wonder to behold, and I couldn’t see the end of it! We didn’t go up to the second observatory floor (the 102nd, at the very top) – you need to purchase another ticket for that – but if you can, do it! From both floors, you definitely get to see New York from a completely new perspective. I would advise you to take a camera!

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Picture taken by Emma Frances Instagram @emmajdesign8

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TIP: If you’re interested in visiting Macy’s and the Empire State Building, they are so close to each other, you can do them both in a day! We visited the two attractions across two separate days, which meant extra time, walking etc… If you see them on the same day, that means extra time to explore other things.


Times Square

Times Square is exactly like the movies. By that, I mean, every billboard and flashing light is just as incredible as you imagine it to be. In fact, better.  We happened to stay in Times Square during our visit and it is just completely buzzing with life, at any time of day. I’m a town girl, so this kind of thing is so unusual to me, but I have now fallen under the spell and love the hustle and bustle of city life. And in a place like Times Square, it seems even more magical than that of cities at home.

Here, there are quite a few attractions close by, so there is plenty to get up to. I visited many restaurants and shops, took a walk through Times Square at night and even saw Matilda live on Broadway. This was one of my favourite childhood films, so to see it come to life in this way was mesmerising – I even started listening to the musical album before our NY trip so that I could sing along to the songs – how sad is that?! But it was brilliant! Times Square certainly was one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced, and truly adds some meaning to the reviews I had read previously – New York really is the city that never sleeps.

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Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty has become an infamous symbol to many. Its hard not to come by her in some way at some point in your life time, even if that’s just seeing her on the TV or in films.  Until a year ago, this was the only way I would come by her, but I would instantly feel a sense of excitement, being able to get a glimpse into the Big Apple, and what it has to offer. Having felt this, I couldn’t come all the way to NY and not see her in all her glory.

And glorious she was. Its difficult to say much more than that, because its only now that I realise that words, photos and shows featuring Lady Liberty do not do the real thing justice. We took the boat over to Ellis Island, where we stood right beside her (and took a selfie or two!) There are so many things you can do during your visit there, including a souvenir shop and an ice cream van (with HUGE ice creams). You can even buy a ticket to go to the top of the statue! Plus if that wasn’t enough, you can stay as long as you want to!

If you don’t fancy Ellis Island, you can just go on the Yellow Taxi boats, complete with a tour guide, and admire the view from afar. We did this too, and it was so interesting -they revealed some little known facts about Liberty and her history. I have never looked at her in quite the same way!

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Central Park (& Central Park Zoo)

This was the final stop before the journey home. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to visit so this was really exciting for me! Unsurprisingly, I didn’t manage to make it around the entire park in the short time we had left, but nevertheless I was lucky enough to be able to ride through what I did see on a horse and carriage, which made it a little quicker. From the moment I arrived in New York, it was clear that this mode of transport was not unusual – they were pretty much everywhere! Central Park is so atmospheric and it offers some spectacular views – so many that I never quite knew where to look! But Patricia the horse and her handler were quite the chauffeurs!

Specifically, we headed to the Central Park Zoo. I have visited quite a few, but none quite like this one!  It was a maze, there were so many sections with so many different species of animal….. thank goodness for the map we picked up on arrival! We made our way around most of the zoo before leaving and I ldid so having had an up close view of two grizzly bears and taken many photos! One of my favourite things about Central Park generally was how pretty everything was.  The park is entirely manmade, and it was whilst I was admiring its many views that I realised what a complete sanctuary it is. If I was lucky enough to return to New York, I know that this would be one of the first places I would go to, so I can explore it even further!

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This trip has really opened my eyes to how big the world really is. I have fallen in love with the USA and would love to visit other states and counties in the future. Please tell me any places you have visited and enjoyed, as I would  love to know! And I would love to hear all about your experiences in New York – what did you enjoy most? And is there anything else that I should do if I were able to go again?

Pleats are here to stay!

I’ve never been one for dressing adventurously. Shopping was always a bit of a sticking point for me – I’d find stuff I loved to wear, but never know what to wear with it. But when I did, I would wear it into the ground. The same top, trousers and shoes. Yep, boring.

This has been a regular occurrence for a long time, and I don’t know why, but recently when shopping, something clicked. I’ve started to find a style that I love, and its GREAT. The funny thing is, this new style is so un-me. Previously, I would have completely ignored these things on the rail, and gone for the same old. And now, I am enjoying new outfits – ones that allow room to be worn casually, but also are smart and super comfy.

Sometimes I have found myself sporting some outfits that appear to be a very unusual combination. But its great to try something new. I truly believe that the right outfit can give confidence, and I feel like since finding these particular outfits (in particular the trousers), I have been oozing with it. Its so diverse, as with the right shirt it can really showcase the smart or casual side of it. I have paired the trousers with two different tops to show this. I love them both and I hope you do too!

The Trousers– I never thought that I could get so excited about a pair of trousers but here we are. These are from the Topshop brand Oh my Love. And oh my, I do love them! They are pleated all the way through, which means that they drape well and don’t cling to my legs. This is great for the summer weather as I never get too hot, and they have an elasticated waist, which I am totally a fan of. I love jeans, but some days, they are way too tight and uncomfortable. Also, as I am petite, I often struggle to get trousers of the right length, and these are perfect. As if this wasn’t enough, they are black, so they can we worn with pretty much ANYTHING – I have a feeling I will be living in them. I have also purchased another pair of these that are quite similar! They add such style to an outfit, and I think are a staple for any wardrobe!

Casual Top-It was the classic shopping story: saw this online, loved it and bought it! I don’t  know what it is about t-shirts, but I buy hoards of them. And my wardrobe is not in short supply of the good old, trusty slogan tee. This is just one of them, from River Island. The trousers could appear to be quite dressy, so this shirt is great to dress it down. I love that the grey colour works so well with these trousers. And the pearly stones are a cute addition – the slogan is great too!

Smart Top-I originally picked up this top to wear for work, so I thought this top from New Look would be the perfect one to dress it up! I love to wear it tucked into the trousers, but I think it could also work well without. The long sleeves are great if the weather is slightly colder, but you could roll them up like me, as this adds something a bit extra. I also love the colours – the brightly coloured stripes add a bit of character to the outfit and make me feel really quite edgy! Plus, the material is soft and its comfortable to wear.

The shoes-For as long as I can remember, shoes have been a difficult one for me. My disability has limited the types of shoes that I can wear (including high heels), and I have spent a long time walking on my toes rather than heels, so I can wear through them very quickly. Often this made me feel like I couldn’t be fashionable. Until I discovered Flatform shoes. The beauty of them is that the sole is thicker and about 4cm taller than a usual shoe. Not only does this do wonders for a shortie like me, but they help me to walk better on my heels. These are from Deichmann. Just simple black, with a metallic silver toe. This works so well to finish off the outfit and they are so cute!

Sunglasses-In these photos I wore two different pairs of sunglasses. The black pair I bought from an independent shop, so unfortunately I can’t link them for you. I have owned this pair of sunglasses (and only these) for a long time and I never really look at sunglasses when I’m out shopping. But the blue pair from Primark are great. Again, these are so unlike anything I would buy myself. I love the colour of them A LOT, and they aren’t oversized on my face, which is great!

Bag-I’ve never been one for taking a lot of things with me when I go out. And for that reason, this bag from Primark is perfect. Its small and compact with only a few pockets, so I can fit only the things in that I need. The strap is a good length for me to put over my shoulder or across my body depending on how I’m feeling. But my favourite thing is the front of the bag. Its textured and has a gold ring feature on the front. It goes well with the grey and works well with most of my wardrobe, so I take it everywhere with me. I haven’t been able to find a link for this, but any small grey bag would be so pretty with this outfit if you wanted to recreate it!

If you love any features of this outfit as much as I do and would like to go online and have a look at them, I have included a hyperlink of the item or something similar. Shop away!

Let me know what you love from this outfit in the comments below and if you know of anything similar that you think I might love, please send me links – I always want to see them!

A Visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London

If you haven’t already guessed by the title of this blog, I am a great fan of Harry Potter.

Its funny actually – up until a few years ago, I had never seen Harry Potter. I can hear you all gasping and screaming at me from behind your screens, but yes, such was the case!

You’ll be pleased to hear that this changed very quickly once I went to see the final film in the cinema. The film was like nothing I had ever seen before, and I found it completely mesmerising. I had officially fallen under the spell.

What followed was a marathon of Harry Potter films, from start to finish, multiple times, and I am now the proud owner of countless Harry Potter merchandise and I am currently making my way through the books. I have also visited the studios where the films were made once before when I got tickets for my birthday!

The magic still hasn’t worn off.

So, you won’t be surprised to know that when I had the privilege of returning recently,  I was very excited. This time was still as enchanting as the first. The combination of film sets, costumes and props was enough to once again transport me into the wizarding world of Harry Potter and the story of The Boy Who Lived.

It took three hours to complete the tour, in which time I walked along Diagon Alley, visited Dumbledores office, took a trip on the Knight Bus, ventured into the Forbidden Forest and more. Too much more to list here in fact, so I’ll just show you some photos instead. Of course, I’ll try not to ruin the magic.

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The Great Hall – Photo taken by Emma Frances (Instagram: @emmajdesign8)

The Great Hall

The Great Hall is one of the first glimpses of Hogwarts that you see in the films, and it is also where the tour begins. Believe it or not, the set is much smaller than it looks on the films. Nevertheless, it is filled to the brim with character, the same as you would expect of an old building. You would think that its not true, but all the little details that you see in the films are there. The wall markings, carvings and pictures have all been created by set designers, and all of this has been aged to appear older than it is. Its as though it has really stood there for hundreds and hundreds of years – but this version of the Great Hall can actually be seen by muggles!

Inside are also many costumes all worn by characters who stood in the Great Hall throughout the films. This is quite interesting, as those who work at the studios reveal secrets behind the filming of Harry Potter – you’ll never look at it quite the same again!

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The Yule Ball costumes

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The Gryffindor Common Room

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The Triwizard Cup and Golden Egg

Costumes and Props

Throughout the tour are some of the genuine costumes and props used in the films. Again, they don’t quite look the same as they do on screen, but the realism of them is extraordinary. From the costumes that Harry, Ron and Hermione wore to the Yule Ball, to others worn in the Gryffindor common room, and even the Triwizard Cup and the Golden Egg, it all feels magical. They have all been put together so intricately, so much so that I sometimes found myself shocked at how they were made.

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Dumbledore’s office!

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This mannequin looks so like the real Snape-scary!

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The Potions Classroom – the wand in the picture was actually moving!

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Umbridge’s office – yes it is actually as pink as it looks.

Film Sets

I even took a trip to Dumbledore and Umbridge’s offices, and the Potions classroom. Unlike the Great Hall, these sets actually look quite big.- much bigger than I had expected them to look. They were so detailed that they had been bought to life, quite literally. Some of the props used in the film actually moved, but even when looking closely, I could never really tell how. That keeps the magic alive at least.

The cat plates in Umbridge’s office didn’t move. But it is just as pink as it looks – its quite something!

More costumes surrounded each of the sets – some of them look so lifelike that it is scary!

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Brisk walk down Diagon Alley! Photo taken by Emma Frances (Instagram: @emmajdesign8)

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This was a shop I had never noticed in the films – am I crazy?

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Platform 9 and 3/4, Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley

Since last time I visited the studios, there have been a couple of additions to the sets. Platform 9 and 3/4 has been added and equipped with the Hogwarts Express. I even had the opportunity to get on and have a little peak at the inside! I’m still not quite sure how they walked along the train because the walkway is so thin! But, each of the train carriages hold different props used in each of the films. I also took a walk through the Forbidden Forest, new this year. I always wondered how they filmed this, and thought it was done outside, but its amazing how film can fool you! Its so long, and the darkness really makes you feel like you’re really outside at night. Its hard to explain what its really like, unless you have seen it yourself but if you have you will know what I mean.

My favourite part was taking a walk down Diagon Alley. This was another set filled with such a lot of character, and I saw a lot of shops that I never really noticed before. But there is one I did notice a lot – If you know me well, you will know that I am a massive fan of the Weasley family, particularly twins Fred and George. I was ecstatic to see Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes as I have always loved the scenes in their shop. In general, the detail in this set is incredible – the cobbled stones, the aged buildings, even the eerie feel!

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Taking a trip on the Knight Bus -Photo taken by Emma Frances (Instagram: @emmajdesign8)

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The Flying Car – Photo taken by Emma Frances (Instagram: @emmajdesign8)

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A sneak peak inside Privet Drive… Photo taken by Emma Frances (Instagram: @emmajdesign8)

The Knight Bus, The Flying Car and 4 Privet Drive

After stopping off in the cafe, it was onto the Knight Bus. This is one of my favourite things about the Harry Potter films, so it was really exciting to see it for real. And of course, I had to get a picture with it, because its not often you see something like it. You certainly can’t miss it, not only is it bright purple but it is huge, and very tall – I struggled to get up the step of the bus for this to be taken.. But as you can see I made it, and I was very happy about that! The only thing that would make it better is to actually take a ride on it, but it was not to be.

The flying car was also a lot of fun. In the films, Ron and Harry make this bit look so easy, and very cool. But I’m glad this doesn’t actually fly because I definitely wouldn’t have coped well. It was fun to sit behind the steering wheel and pretend though.

On my first visit to the studios, I knocked on the door of 4 Privet Drive, and had the obligatory photo, but this time was slightly different – this time the door was open to have a look inside. And we took a glimpse into the Dursley home. Much more than the detail in the other areas of the tour, this surprised me the most – the walls were covered in certificates and pictures drawn by Dudley Dursley. We took a peak into the living area – which was cordoned off because it was covered, completely in Hogwarts letters addressed to Harry – I was so surprised how many there were that I took a photo! You also get a chance to venture around the back of the house and see how it was made, which was great fun.

The Hogwarts Castle

And last, but by no means least the final stretch of the tour was to see the Hogwarts model. And it really was something to behold. It was the complete 3D mocel, which they used to film the outside shots of the castle. To give you an idea of the size, once the films were completed, it took them 2 whole months to move it to where it currently stands and put it all back together. That is big. It was a perfect end to the tour, a chance to take in all that I had seen. The castle was also placed in dimmed lighting, which made it quite atmospheric. I spent a long time just staring at it from all angles, both on the upper and lower level. And here I am in fact, after admiring it in all its glory.

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The view of Hogwarts is breathtaking – Photo taken by Emma Frances (Instagram: @emmajdesign8)

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It’s crazy that this world that was once inside one person’s head is now made real. It represents the dreams of J.K.Rowling herself but also those who have fallen in love with the Harry Potter films. Its a rare chance to get up close and personal with all things HP, and I have no doubt, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you should take a trip there and see it for yourself. Its a self guided tour (after the Great Hall), so you can stay for as long as you like… if it takes your fancy you can stay until closing time! It is so worth it.

I have been twice now and I still love it just as much as I did. Even since I’ve been the first time, there have been changes, so I am sure that each time I will find something new. And of course, each visit ends in a trip to the gift shop – which for a Potter fan like me means only one thing – more merchandise! As I said before, the magic hasn’t worn off yet, so while its still there, I have a feeling I will be back!

If any of you have visited the Harry Potter studios before, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Also, if you have visited the one in Florida, please comment below and tell me all about it. I have never been but would love to!

Banoffee Bliss…

I’ve always loved baking. It feels great to find something that I want to make and I’m constantly looking for new recipes. I love trying out new ones because more often that not, I find a new favourite, and after receiving the ‘Tanya Bakes’  cookbook last Christmas, I can safely say that is what I have done!

I haven’t tried too many recipes yet (although I plan to), but so far my favourite is the Banoffee Pie. I love eating it, but until a short time ago, I’d never attempted to make it, and when I saw it was included, I really wanted to give it a go! It was a new level of delicious, and so simple – 20 minutes preparation time and you don’t even need an oven!

To make the Banoffee pie, I used:-

  • 400g of chocolate hobnobs
  • 150g of unsalted butter
  • 1 tin of Carnation Caramel
  • 4 bananas
  • 400ml of double cream
  • Some extra chocolate for sprinkling!

Method:-

  • Firstly crumble the hobnobs into a bowl. (I crushed the hobnobs in a bag with a rolling pin, and this works just as well!) Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix with the hobnobs until covered, and press it into the bottom of the tart tin. Once this is done, pop it in the fridge to chill for around half an hour.  
  • Pour the Carnation Caramel onto the base and evenly spread. Transfer it to the fridge again for a further 15 minutes and allow the caramel to set.
  • Slice the bananas and lay them on top of the caramel. Make sure there is enough to over the whole base.
  • Now for the fun bit – whip the cream to form soft peaks and dollop on top of the bananas.
  • To finish, grate some chocolate on top of the cream and serve.

Enjoy!

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Tip:- I’ve now made this twice and in terms of the Hobnobs, I have found that less is definitely more! It produces a much thinner base, which is easier to cut.


Its my go-to dessert – great to throw together if you’re short on time and so enjoyable – last time it was eaten within two days! Perfect!

Recipe from ‘Tanya Bakes’ by Tanya Burr

 

School Struggles and how to overcome them…

I would be lying if I said that school is easy. In fact, it has put me through some of the toughest experiences of my life. That can be said for most people. But when you’re ‘different’, it reaches a whole new level. Certainly it did for me anyway. It was so surreal for me to finally see what everyone else saw, and for a long time, it felt like the world was against me.
As many of you will have moved up to high school this week, or moved up a year, I thought it an apt time to share the disability dilemmas I faced (of course, this can apply to any other career path too!). It iss important I mention that I am by no means a professional councillor, but I have learnt many things in my 19 years of life with CP, and I hope that I will be able to offer some help and advice to deal with the difficult times.
The fear of failure
I remember I used to say ‘No’ a lot to new things for the fear of failing at them. Back then, I used to think that failure was the worst thing that could happen to me. On reflection, it wasn’t the failure, it was the fear itself. This is the worst part. Granted, I am still guilty of this as a 19 year old. But one great piece of advice I have been given is to simply ‘own it’. Despite the difficulties this can pose, the best thing to do is to do it anyway. It could lead to great things. And, everyone has to ‘fail’ at something before they get it right. It isn’t a question of failing. It’s all about building a life for yourself that you’ll be content with, whatever that may be. It’s so satisfying to be able to laugh in the face of fear. But it’s even more satisfying to say, I did it.
Adapting
Without a doubt, there will be things in school that you find difficult. Whether it’s stairs, trying to keep up with people or even the never ending maths lesson. But everyone needs a challenge once in a while, even if it is in the shape of algebra or fractions! If you can’t do things ‘like everyone else’, that’s OK. It took a long time for me to accept that adapting is a part of life. I had been advised to make use of the equipment on offer at school, and it resulted in a bit of a love-hate relationship. But looking back, it was definitely a help. You’ll still get the same result as everyone else, so it doesn’t really matter how you do it. And when you win the race with your friends to the top floor because you used the lift, it will suddenly feel a whole lot better! Of course, it will take time to adjust, and you will have down days, but when you do, just remember – who needs mainstream anyway?
Fitting in 
“But I have CP, how do I fit in?” I hear you ask. The answer is, don’t! There are 7.1 billion people on this planet who are trying to do just that. But if you ask me, they’re all too busy focusing on each other when what you really need to do is focus on YOURSELF. I finally realised this in my final years of High School on a visit from a motivational speaker. For the first time in my life, I was inspired and began to believe in myself and my own abilities. So much so that I stood up in front of my whole year group and talked through my experiences. And the reception it received was SO positive. Hearing words like ‘inspiration’, ‘brave’ and ‘proud’ was so fulfilling for me, and that feeling has stayed with me ever since. Ironically, I realised that actually by breaking the mould and trying NOT to fit in, I gained more appreciation, friendships and self-confidence than ever before. As the saying goes, why are you trying to fit in when you were born to stand out?

It’s hard to believe that it has now been a whole three years since I left High School. Back then, I was unsure that the time would ever come for me to leave, but alas, here I am, with GCSE’s, A Levels, a full time job, writing this blog post. How things change. But change is good so embrace it, and make the most of the time. Good luck!