Friday, 28 February 2014

February Wins!

Its the end of another month! Which means its time for me to round up my monthly wins, which are extremely small, but one of those is a fairly big prize, so all is not lost!

At the beginning of the month I was lucky enough to win a nights stay for 2 people at a hotel on the outskirts of Manchester...



This it the hotel which looks pretty impressive. I always stay in chain hotels, or hotels that have hundreds of rooms, so this is something a little different but I can't wait. The prize includes champagne on arrival, afternoon tea, champagne in our room, a 3 course meal later that night (again, with wine on ice) and breakfast the next morning.. I think I'm gonna walk away from there feeling pretty stuffed! But stuffed in a good way, cos it's all free ;-) (Approx value - £200).

The other prize I won was a Pixi Lipbalm (worth £12). I've heard of this brand before, and I know its only been around for a couple of years but I've always wanted to try some of their products, so this was much appreciated.

 I've had to use a stock photo because my phone is playing up...sorry!
 
So these are my February wins... I'm hoping for some good ones in March now!
 
 
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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Pretty Positives #8

It never seems 2 minutes before I'm writing yet another week of positives!

* I finally started cracking on with decorating the hallway. I've been wanting this done for so long, we've had the paint for approx. 3 weeks and its just been sat there, unopened. The stubborn part of me told myself not to be the first one to start painting because I've painted pretty much every room in this house, and why should I spend my days off painting? 'Cos after all, there is 2 of us that live in this house. But then the other part of me thought of the whole 'cut off the nose to spite the face' thing. I've only spent approx. 3 hours painting this weekend but you can be sure I'll be giving him an errand list on his days off. Either way - Project Hallway has begun!

* This is a bit of a random one, but a few weeks ago, I went outside into my driveway and something felt bare about my garden.. I felt... exposed. Then realized that the house that backs onto us has cut their ginormous tree down. Yep, the tree that gave us a lot of privacy from various houses at the back of us. Now I hate it. Hanging the washing out, getting in and out of my car, just stepping one foot into my back garden I feel like all eyes are on me, despite having a 6ft fence at the back. I'm probably over-imagining it, cos lets face it, who wants to stand at their window upstairs and watch me.. but still.. I'm a private person and even though I have no intentions what-so-ever of sunbathing topless in the garden in the summer, I still like to feel like no-ones beady eyes are on me. So getting to the point of this positive - I thought we were going to have to shell out for some form of privacy - whether that be a few conifers (that wouldn't be an instant result anyway) or some form of trellis, I don't know. Luckily, my brother has recently moved into a new house and is re-vamping his garden. Apparently there is a load of criss-cross style trellis that they don't want, so they're passing it onto me for my dad to put up. Although it wont give complete privacy, it'll hopefully distort their view for the time being. And what's better - its free! A positive save for me!
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Source - weheartit.com


* I did some baking at the weekend. For the most part I've given up on baking because 90% of the time, whatever I attempt to bake turns out wrong. I do everything it says in the recipe, I measure everything out etc.. in the end I put this down to our oven, because it either burns the top of the cake and doesn't cook the middle, or I check on the cake and everything is looking hunky-dorey, then literally I'll go to it 5 minutes later and its burnt to a cinder. However last night I was craving something sweet, and knowing we didn't have anything in, I decided to make use of my baking items instead. I 'baked' cornflake tart. That too burnt a little, however I managed to salvage it by picking off all the burnt cornflakes. Either way, I did something useful with my time what would have otherwise been spent in front of my laptop.

* I have gone 2 whole months without buying any beauty items that were 'non-essentials' - i.e. items that I buy 'just because they look pretty' or 'were on offer' or 'because everyone else is raving about it so I need to try it too'.. the excuse list is endless in my head. I've only bought 2 beauty related items, a foundation and a base coat for my nails, both of which I actually needed because I had ran out.  Along with that, I haven't bought any shampoo/conditioner or bath/shower related items (i.e. shower gel/bubble bath). The fact that I received a box full at Christmas is helping! But my aim for this year is to 'live off'/rely on gifts/freebies/hotel freebies when it comes to bath products. I'm going to be sad when my stock starts dwindling because I love knowing I have a box full to the brim of products, but at the same time, I get a buzz from knowing I'm saving money.

* I did a good deed this week. One of my colleagues who is currently studying for a Masters degree in being a practice educator for social work students - she's dyslexic, so since last September, I've been proof-reading her work, which can often be difficult, because its not so much spelling errors that I'm dealing with (they're easy) but its her sentence structure and when that's wrong, whole paragraphs don't 'go anywhere' if that makes sense. This happens a lot in her work so its often time consuming. Anyway, to cut a long story short she was edging closer to her deadline and for reasons that I wont go into on here, I had to proof read an essay that had already been proof read by someone else that was afraid to be 'harsh'. I offered to proof-read this essay on my weekend off, to help her out. I usually begrudge doing anything work-related on my days off, and refuse point blank (not that I normally get asked but!). So I spent approx. 3 hours of my Saturday helping someone else out. However I will make sure I don't make it a regular habit! haha.

I think they are all my positives for this week! I began this post believing nothing positive has happened apart from the decorating, and I've managed to come up with a few hefty ones!

What's been your main positive for this week?

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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Home Decor: Project Hallway #1

If you've been a follower of my blog for some time now, you may remember this post that I did on my 'dream hallway'. Here you can see all the pretty items that I would accessorize it with once completed.
Fast forward 4 months and the project is finally starting to happen! The Parisian mirrored night stand from Dunelm Mill that I've been lusting after since we first moved in 2.5yrs ago.. I finally have! It arrived last week - It's not quite the same as the one in my collage, but very similar - I went for this one instead..


Stock Photo - Dunelm Mill - £129.99

 

I wouldn't normally spend such an amount on a table that will just sit in the hallway but I've never wanted something for such a long time - Usually I decide I 'love' something only to go back to it a few months later and decide I don't like it - but my love for this hasn't stopped, so I know its worth its price tag! This will house a few glass jars that I have purchased from Dunelm Mill. I've actually bought a large glass trinket box with a lid that I've decided is going to be used for throwing our keys in as we come through the door, because usually we just throw them on the side in the kitchen. This would also be the perfect place to house a bunch of colour fresh flowers, to really add a pop of colour to the hallway. I had in my head a cute little lamp sitting on here to light up the hallway, but eventually realized that the nearest plug is across the hallway, so regarding wires, this isn't happening! I'm trying to think of an alternative for lighting though, I'm looking at fairy lights as another option, but trying to think of a way to display them.

There's been a bit of a change around regarding the walls. I originally wanted silver/grey wallpaper, and found some gorgeous ones in Laura Ashley. However after being reminded how hard it is to decorate the stairs/landing area, and that we'd probably need a painter/decorator in to help us, I decided against this idea to save money, I begrudge paying out when I know I could do it myself, even though it would be hard work. I was then going to go with the plan of wallpapering the wall that you face as you're coming up the stairs, as a 'feature' wall, but then decided that might look a bit odd. So we've decided to just paint over the wallpaper that is already on the walls (which is currently cream) and turn everything white. I still wanted a grey/silver theme going on so I may paint the staircase a silver tone, as well as the doorframes.

I've also been looking at Roman Blinds.. I've never had to shop for blinds before, so didn't really how expensive they were! However these will give me the perfect opportunity to bring together the colour scheme a little more..

I predict its going to be a few weeks before Project Hallway is completed yet we're having to paint around working full time (and I get bored of painting very quickly!). That together with the dingy lighting often means I either have to wait till the weekends, or have a lot of touch ups to do! I refuse to book any time off work to spend decorating!

Here is what my hall way looks like currently. Again, ignore the dingy lighting. It was night-time and we have those horrible energy saving bulbs that I really need to change!

Once all the painting is complete, I intend on taking up the laminate flooring and laying a cream carpet down. You might also be able to see on this first photo that I've already begun painting..


 
This is where I intend on putting the mirrored table - In the corner where the ugly electric box is, to hopefully hide it!
 

Upstairs landing - As you can see, the current Roman blinds have random 'lighter' stripes across them where they have faded in the sun.




I can't wait till its all finished!

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

February's BirchBox!

 
 
So this is the first month that I've gone down to 1 beauty box a month after cancelling my GlossyBox last month, so I was hoping for a good box to help with my withdrawal, and it didn't disappoint.


Birchbox always seem to hit it right when it comes to variety. There's the perfect mixture of all products rolled into this box, so lets see in a little more detail what I received.

Gilchrist & Soames Shower Gel. When I first saw this I had a feeling it was going to smell a little herbal-y (if that's even a word?!), and I wasn't wrong. If you know me, you know I do prefer a sweet smelling shower gel as opposed to something more spicy, however unfortunately my friend who I normally swap items with at work (she's partial to a spicy smelling shower gel!) has gone on maternity leave *sob* so it's not as easy to swap items anymore. I will perceiver though. Full size this is £13.75.

Beauty Protector Oil. This claims to battle UV rays, heat and breakage. Its no secret that I'm not a hair person, however I have been forcing myself to use more products on my hair, and I've really got into hair serums and oils of late, so although this didn't excite me too much, its nice to add to the collection. Full size - £16.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner. I'm assuming this is a full size product that I received (worth £12), however me and liquid eyeliners just don't get on. I can't for the life of me apply them. I've tried many a times and failed each time. I envy those girls who have perfectly lined upper lids that look so effortlessly applied. The funny thing is, I don't even have a shaky hand, I just can't apply them, full stop.

Leighton Denny Nail Polish 'Coconutty' (this was a full size item worth £11). I love a good nail polish, and was glad that I received this colour because I was only thinking last week that I no longer have a pale brown polish due to my previous one going gloopy. Its actually a surprise that I only owned 1 pale brown polish, because I have duplicates of every other colour going! This one is perfect, with a subtle yet pretty gold shimmer running through it. Can't wait to try this.

Urban Veda Exfoliating Facial Polish (full size £8.99). The word 'polish' excites me, don't ask me why. I think its because it puts visions in my head of walking away with gleaming freshly primed skin. I have yet to try this out but looking forward to giving it a go.

Last but not least - this months lifestyle choice - a Green & Blacks dark chocolate bar. This is only a mini one, so is perfect for work.. it is dark chocolate, and is 70% cocoa so is very rich in taste (I've had one before). So I think its either something I'll save for when I'm in serious need of a chocolate fix and we have none in the house (!) or like I said, to take to work with me. This isn't something I would normally pick up from the shop, but dark chocolate is always a good one to have if trying to cut down on chocolate, because you never want as much!

Overall, pretty happy with this months box! A few products that I would give or take but for the most part, some ones that I'm looking forward to trying!

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Pretty Positives #7

I've had quite a mediocre week these past 7 days and nothing massive is standing out to me that is a positive. However, as always, I will dig until I find something!

* I had a day off work on Friday - Its become tradition that ever since I've been with Mike, if he's not working, I'll book Valentines day off, and that's exactly what I did this year. And for once it actually felt like I'd had an extended weekend off, even though it was just one extra day.

* I received a gorgeous bunch of red roses, delivered to my door, complete with 2 balloons on Valentines Day. We also went out for a 3 course meal that night, which Mike had actually booked himself (Which is rare occasion for him to do anything like this! ... Ok, so I did have to ask him to book somewhere but sshh).

* I got a compliment off someone who said that I am a genuine listener and that they really appreciated me listening to them offload and taking in everything that they had to said. It made me feel good inside because now I'm getting older and I'm in a long term relationship, its not often I hear compliments anymore. It's amazing how a few words can uplift your mood (only if I know they are genuine though!).

* I've ate out a lot this past week and if I'm not eating out I've been sat in cafe's having nice drinks. They are the pros to my job! I've enjoyed it but I'm not sure my bank balance has!

* Me and Mike went for an hour walk on Sunday. This is the first time we have done this in so long. We walked a route that me and my friend have previously jogged (which actually feels a lot longer on foot than in a car when we used to park up!). It felt nice just to get some fresh air, look at all the cute (but expensive!) houses, and, for the majority, be in an open space with not a soul in sight. I will admit the wind was a little cold on the ears, which began to almost give me brain freeze, and my damn feet started to burn towards the end but luckily at this point we were on our way home.

That's it for this week! Small positives but they were there!

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Valentines Nail Art!

I've got lots of little gems, sequins and glitter in order to do a tonne of nail art, but I just get too lazy and never bother, so this Valentines I thought what better time to put my little heart gems to good use..

I received this little pot as part of a Christmas present (from Avon). Some may say the colour contrast is a little garish but I wanted to be sure the gems stood out!




For the polish I used Essie's 'Bikini So Teeny'. Also please excuse the none filed nails!

This is a really easy and quick yet effective way to jazz your nails up for any last minute special occasions! I will say I was glad I was only out for a couple of hours for a meal on Friday night as these gems unfortunately didn't last that long on the nails! However I used just the wetness of the polish in order to attach them as opposed to nail glue, so feel free to use this instead for a more stronger adhesive!

I hope you all had a nice Valentines, and if you are still yet to celebrate then enjoy!

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Pretty Positives #6

Ok, so I'm struggling to think of positive things that have happened this week, but I accept that because I know that from time to time, my weeks go from one extreme to another in the fact that a million and one positive things could happen one week, and the next week could be pretty dismal, but that's life...
 
True.
* I'm getting used to my new car. The whole sensitive brakes and steering is a new one for me so they've taken a bit of getting used to. I've also discovered that my car has a lot more fancy gadgets than I originally first thought. I'm talking heated windows and seats, a fancy light that you can pop on if you're walking away from your car in a dark dodgy car park somewhere, maybe? I probably will never use half of these but its nice to know that they are there.

* I've finally bought a Parisian Nightstand that I've been after from Dunelm Mill for SO long. I've had my eye on it forever, and have been waiting for it to come down in the sale, but its never budged, so I've accepted defeat. It is a little expensive for what it is, but when you've wanted something for that long, you know its not an impulse buy that you'll late begin to hate. I don't have it in my possession yet as I've ordered it to be delivered, but it will take pride place in my hallway once we get it decorated.

* I've started reading a fresh new book this week (Jodi Picoult's 'The Storyteller') and I'm loving it!

* I've been eating more fruit this week as I was noticing my diet wasn't including a lot of fruit and veg. My favourites at the minute are Pears and Mango's. I've been cutting mangos up and taking pieces to work with me for my lunch and I've been really enjoying them. We've been having a few bowls of strawberries for after our tea sometimes too, admittedly these have been with cream & sugar but still.. its fruit :-p

* I've been exercising a little more by doing some dancing.. just round the house but it works up a sweat which is what I aim for. I've told myself to play more music round the house too because it lifts my spirits and makes me more motivated. I have known this for a long time but often forget how it makes me feel till I play it again. Because of this, I've told myself to invest in some form of radio for the kitchen. I did have a CD player in there but I didn't like the way it looked so took it away :-p I've noticed my boyfriend spends more time on housework when music is playing so I think its a win-win situation!

What are your positives for this week?



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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Primark Spring Purchases!

I only ever tend to have a splurge in Primark if I'm either away for the weekend or on a shopping trip out of town. Our local Primark is pretty small, therefore it never has any decent stock in, and all the best bits get taken over.

It has also become tradition for my boyfriend to buy me a Primark voucher to go towards my birthday/Christmas presents, which he usually fills with £75 so I can have a bit of a spree.

On Tuesday I took a day off work to go with my mum to Lincoln so of course I checked out their Primark, and managed to come away with a few bits.


 
This cotton dress I picked up in the sale for a mere £5. I thought it'd be suitable for work paired with some black tights and a slouchy cardy thrown over the top. However, Primark being Primark and their ill-fitting clothes, this is fair too tight round my arms (to the point of me having to shout my boyfriend to come help get me out of it!) so this is going back.


 
This is a similar (possibly same?) dress to the one above (although the material feels a little softer/silkier, so I'm not sure!). I absolutely love this and how it looks on me. You know when you get a clothing item that either the colour or pattern seems to make your face 'pop' - well this dress does just that. Love it! - £8




I love my slouchy cardys - I find them so versatile so I had to pick up this spearmint one when I saw it. They had a variety of colours but I love pastel colours in the spring/summer, it reminds me of gorgeous spring mornings when the winter coats are being thrown to the side and we're all getting brave enough to venture out in just a jumper... ahhh. - £12


I've been eyeing up these PJs for a while now. They're a really nice light cotton flimsy material so are really comfy to wear (I'm a little fussy on my PJ material!). These are cuffed at the leg too, which means no trailing for us shorties! - £6




These were more of an impulse buy. I aim to have a few fairy lights dotted round my house cos I think they look so pretty. However when I got these home I realized they were white LED lights, which I didn't really want (I wanted the yellow ones!). So for now I've hung them round my dressing table...
 
 



I haven't had much luck with handbags as of late. I bought one from Forever21 when I was in Vegas over a year ago - Shortly afterwards, the zip broke. I then purchased one from New Look - The zip broke within 2 days of me having it. I then got one from H&M whilst I was in London in December, and guess what? THE ZIP BROKE! People kept asking me if its because I was putting too much stuff in my bag, which wasn't the case. I was never 'fighting' to get the zip done up, they were just crap zips, obviously! I then bought another bag in the Next sale in January, which was a bit of an impulse buy because I was annoyed with my current handbag situation. I soon discovered that this said bag was so impractical - It was deep that I was having to literally dig and fumble around for everything, and because the lining was black, I couldn't see inside the bag properly (even in the brightest of places) so I was having to get my phone light out to use as a torch.. it was just.. not good! I spotted this bag in Primark which ticked all the boxes. It was big enough for work, it had a zip across the top as well as a long shoulder strap. It feels really sturdy and is so far doing the trick! I don't usually go for taupe coloured bags, but I thought decided I was getting a little tired of black. So for £12, I hope it lasts longer than the others!

Have you checked out Primark's Spring collection yet? I have Valentines day off work so I'm already planning which city to visit so I can check out another branch to spend the remaining of my voucher!

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

January Competition Wins

Some may (or may not) know that I enter competitions as a hobby in my spare time (and sometimes not in my 'spare' time but in my most busiest times when I'm meant to be doing other things, but Sshh!)

I have been comping on and off for a couple of years now but last year was the year I began to comp seriously (and it paid off with a few really good wins inc a 7 night all inclusive holiday to Turkey and a dance class in Pineapple Studios with Arlene Phillips judging us! This also included a hotel stay, a theatre ticket, tea at The Hilton and travel expenses!).

I've been in two minds whether to do this post (for several reasons), but I really enjoy reading others competition wins and seeing photos. It helps to inspire me at times where my comping 'mojo' is at a low, so I thought I'd begin to share my monthly wins with everyone too.

I usually tend to avoid competitions based on luck, but rather go for more skilled ones which require effort. These I tend to be more successful with and feel like I've earnt the prize if I happen to win. However the past few months I've really got into twitter, and have been entering competitions through simple retweets, and have been fairly successful. No huge wins in January, but wins nonetheless that keep me going:

 
Tanning lotion - £10
 
Memory foam pillow - £32. (I used to hate memory foam mattress' & pillows but this has bizarrely done my lower back wonders!
 
Cute i-phone case - £16.99
 
Caramelised Cashews. I don't think I was meant to receive this many bags initially, but the company were late sending my winnings out because my email had been misplaced to they kindly sent me some 'extra'. Either way, these bags are worth almost £2 in the shops, so that's £8 worth of nuts!
 
 
Like I said, nothing massive but it keeps me going, and such a buzz knowing you have received something for nothing.
 
Comping isn't easy - depending on the amount of comps you enter, its extremely time consuming. I'm lucky in the fact that I don't have children yet and only really have myself to worry about. Because of this, I can put extra time into effort-based comps so I stand a better chance of winning. Comping isn't for everyone and many believe that competitions are fake. I agree, some are, but the majority are real, and posts like these prove it. I wish I had blogged about them from the start to show you all! I still have photographic prove from a lot of them so maybe sometime soon if you're interested! Entering competitions gives you that chance of winning things that you may not have been able to afford otherwise, or even have access to (I've just read on someone's blog that they won a sleepover in Hamleys Toy Shop in London!) so there's many bizarre but wonderful prizes that you'd never be able to access otherwise (another example is my dancing getting judged by Arlene Phillips... I don't even think money could buy that!).
 
Do you enter competitions? What's your best win so far? I'd love to hear from you!
 
 
 

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Pretty Positives #5

I feel I've had quite a successful week these past 7 days... here are my weekly positives:

I have said goodbye to my old car, which has been replaced with a new one that I have so much more faith in! Even though my old car had power steering, my new car feels so much more advanced with everything.  I love how smooth and effortless everything feels. Wev been saying we'd replace my old car for the best part of a year now so this really is a massive thing for me this week!

I had my hair cut! For those that don't know, I really am not a hair person, even though I have a hairdresser sister-in-law. However my hair was almost down to my bum and it was beyond annoying. I made it one of my new years resolutions to get my hair cut regularly (instead of the usual *cough*twiceayear*cough*). 5 weeks into the new year and ive already had my first cut! Start as I mean to go on and all that...

I won a pretty good competition yesterday (that I actually wouldnt have known about had I not manually searched for my name and a few keywords on twitter, which I was a little annoyed about... why couldn't they have contacted/tagged me to make me aware I do not know). However it turns out I've won a nights stay in a country hotel nr manchester, champagne on arrival, afternoon tea, champagne in our room, 3 course meal (also with wine!) and breakfast the next morning. It sounds like a lot of food and alcohol is included but im not complaining! Ill probably bypass the drink and take the food instead! I can go anytime, so we're thinking when it gets a bit warmer so we can go for a nice country walk etc.

Last but not least, I took a days holiday today from work. I went to Lincoln with my mum - my brother had a few tests to do for an interview so she wanted someone to keep her company for the day! This enabled me to go to primark and start using my vouchers up that I got for Christmas.  We also had lunch out; the change of scenery was nice.  Im always partial to a day out.

Whats been positive about your week?!


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