29 April 2016

What Has Your Sofa Seen in its Lifetime? My Sofa Story

Deciding on a new sofa is a huge decision, when it's such a big piece in your home (and something that will be so well used!) it's important to get it right. I bought my sofa in March last year, and it was something I researched a lot before making my final decision. Despite the fact that I have a desk, loads of my blog posts get written up while I'm sat on the sofa; I lay around reading books on it in my spare time and enjoy cosying down and getting into a really good box set while sitting on it every so often too. I watch tv in the evenings sat on the sofa and make Skype calls and phone calls for hours on end to my friends while sat in this spot too- and so I wanted the perfect piece that I could really relax on.

One of the most important things to me when I was choosing a sofa was finding one that was comfortable, the one I had previously looked the part but wasn't nice to lie on and so this was my number one priority. It needed to be large (while still fitting into the space in my living room) and have deep seats that you could sit right back on and get comfy. As well as being comfortable I of course needed it to look nice too, and wanted to find something that was neutral and plain enough for me to be able to dress up with different pillows and cushions over the years- as well as have the flexibility to change my decor without having to buy a whole new sofa. Another important thing was that I needed it to be practical, having two dogs that like to jump up and sit with us in the evenings meant that the material had to be very hardwearing easy to clean too. Finally it had to fit my budget, and after copious amounts of searching I eventually found this one which fitted the bill perfectly. 

With April being the most popular month to up sticks and move house (something I have done myself recently) handmade furniture manufacturer Distinctive Chesterfields decided to conduct some research into what kinds of things your sofa sees over the course of it's life. If you think about it your sofa sees a massive portion of your home life, whenever you're just relaxing at home chances are you'll be sat on it. Some of the things they found out were that the average sofa will go through one house move, seat 284 visitors and see you through 78 hangovers (I've spent one or two killer hangovers on mine, good job I hardly drink these days because I just can't handle it any more!) You'll also rack up 232 movies and a whopping 4380 hours of tv time while cosied up amongst it's cushions. Only 11% of people surveyed had owned their sofa for over ten years, but those who did had invested in a good quality and sturdily made piece. The average sofa lasts for around eight years but Distinctive Chesterfields last for an amazing twenty if taken care of properly, and so it goes to show that it really is worth investing in quality. While interior trends come and go, classic pieces never go out of style and so if you choose well your sofa will easily be able to adapt through various decor changes. 

What kinds of things has your sofa seen? How long have you owned your sofa?

27 April 2016

How to Style a Messenger Bag for a Casual Night Out

Guest post: written by Dana Hughes

As the archetypal woman of the 21st century, you know that travelling light is almost never possible. In this day and age, we are almost always on the go and as a result we need to be able to carry all our essential items practically, but stylishly as well. This versatile canvas bag is the must-have item of this season when it comes to carrying all your beloved possessions in a classical, but practical fashion, as it can be incorporated in a number of different outfits, depending on what you have planned. After working tirelessly all week, rocking all variants of high-heeled shoes and formal outfits (trying to match your company’s strict corporate dress code) you can finally feel excited about the weekend when you get to tuck all these items away and let your fun personal side take over. It’s Saturday morning, you’ve called up your girls and you’re ready to go on a casual night out to have some drinks and perhaps even go bowling. Have you figured out what you are going to wear?

Denim Is Timeless

Image courtesy of Pixabay
It’s safe to say that we’ve all seen fashion trends come and go throughout the years, but there is one that has persisted relentlessly despite all the high competition against it: denim. Its unmistakably casual, yet grungy appearance is precisely why we’ve chosen this look as our number one choice and why we think it would be perfect for a casual and free-spirited night out with your best friends. What it says about you is that you don’t necessarily feel the need to show off in front of anyone, but on the contrary, you feel comfortable enough with them and with yourself to not have to put on a glam show. This type of denim shirt works perfectly with a messenger bag and you can complete this look with some flat ankle boots or even some ballet pumps.

Casual Does Not Equal Boring

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos
Nevertheless, just because you’re not hitting some major A-list party tonight and simply going for a casual drink night, that does not mean your outfit should be boring. In fact, this is the moment where your personality needs to shine through and where you need to let yourself go crazy with all sorts of patterns and fabrics that you would not necessarily mix between Monday and Friday. Since most messenger bags typically come in Earth colours, this means that if you want to step out of anonymity, you will have to pick bold, dominant colours and patterns for the rest of your outfit. This can mean anything from a floral shirt, such as the one above, a red cotton skirt or perhaps a much funkier combination of colours, which could include a sunny shade of buttercup, one of the trending colours for spring 2016

Timeless Staples for Those Rainy Days

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos
You might be one foot out the door and notice that the weather has suddenly turned against you. This is no reason to panic though. With the right selection of clothing, such as the one pictured above, you can still enjoy your night and even bring a touch of mystery to your look. Pair a wide brim hat with an oversized raincoat, add a marine-coloured scarf around your neck and you’ll be all set for the rest of the evening. So there you have it: our top three choices for fashionably wearing a messenger bag on a casual night in town. We hope you enjoyed our selection and look forward to hearing your suggestions for how you would match this classical item on a fun, casual social night with your friends.

20 April 2016

Celebrating National Pet Month

Did you know that April is National Pet Month? In celebration of this Ocean Loans have given me a very generous £50 to take part in their pet campaign, where I've had the chance to shower my dogs with treats and toys without having to worry about finances. As a self confessed crazy dog lady this makes me very happy- pet shopping is my absolute favourite! Seeing how excited they were when they spotted everything was just the cutest thing, they're truly spoilt for choice and now have a stash of goodies that will last them for ages.

There's no doubt that owning pets is expensive, and having bigger breeds bumps that cost up even further. When you're buying for bigger dogs everything from their food, collars, leads, beds, even worming and flea treatments costs so much more- and it's no different when it comes to toys. High quality and hardwearing dog toys don't come cheap, and so it was really nice to be able to fill up a basket at Pets at Home without having to worry about the budget. While I wanted to get a mixture of things, I made sure to get a couple of quality pieces that would stand the test of time. The Nerf Infinity tug of war toy (£12) is something my boyfriend has been wanting to pick up for a while as he plays tug of war a lot with the dogs, but with them being such strong breeds (especially Bowser, a rottweiler/ mastiff cross) the rope style ones dont last for five minutes. This is a really solid piece made of durable rubber and the infinity style gives you and the dog both something to hold onto. The Boingo Ball (£8) is another toy we've had our eye on for a while, the rubber on the outside makes it really tough so great for strong chewers, and to also withstand being thrown around the garden. The Nylabone Dura Chew (£12) is another great piece; both dogs love chewing bones but as they can be a choking hazard due to small pieces breaking off they can only ever have them while they're being supervised, whereas this is something they can have when we go out too. It's designed for powerful chewers and so far is standing up to that claim, both dogs have had a good chomp on it and have hardly left a mark on it. This seems to be Romeo's favourite so far, probably due to the fact it's bacon flavoured! The solid rubber ball and hoop (£4 each) are great hardwearing pieces for the garden, they already have a couple of smaller sized versions and they get played with every day so these were an easy choice. 

The smaller pieces we chose were the plush soft toys, a teeth cleaning chew toy (great for smelly dog breath!) as well as some treats and bones. Both dogs have been in their element since getting their paws on this haul, seeing them happy and content with all of their new goodies is the best feeling in the world! National Pet Month encourages responsible pet ownership and the importance of companion animals, however not all animals have caring families and there are still far too many in shelters waiting for their forever homes. If you'd like to get involved and donate or help to raise money for the charities and shelters that care for these animals, check out here for more information.

Will you be treating your pet during National Pet Month?

18 April 2016

Kiko Haul: New Products and Packaging!

Products from Kiko Cosmetics*

Now we're in spring I've been updating my makeup bag, and have been on the lookout for my spring staple products. I've tried a few products from Kiko now (many of which have ended up becoming all time favourites!) however I'd never actually tried anything from their regular cosmetics lines and had previously always fallen for limited edition collections. However their current generation of products have been given a modern makeover with gorgeous gunmetal packaging, and I was all for finding out if they were as good right across the range. Here's what I thought!

Weightless Perfection Wet and Dry Powder Foundation: £13.90
I was so excited to get my hands on this, I'm almost finished my Kiko Modern Tribes powder foundation from last summer and since it was limited edition I had no idea how I'd get it again or if Kiko would release a similar product. While it isn't identical (I find it has a slightly lighter coverage, although it is buildable) however it's a great replacement and a gorgeous product. I know this will be especially good for over the summer, perfect for when you want a bit of mattifying and coverage without putting anything too heavy on the skin- it even contains SPF 30 too which is an added bonus. This comes in a massive range of colours from very light to very dark as well as a mixture of cool and warm shades so no matter what your skin tone you're bound to find the perfect match here. 

Shade Fusion Trio Blush: £10.90
The pigment of both of these is amazing, you really do just need a tiny dab. Pink blush is never the most flattering on me but actually both of these shades look nice on and are really wearable providing you don't apply too much. I think I can detect a slight sheen but the overall finish is pretty matte, so you get a healthy and natural looking flush without looking like a glitter ball. The formula is so soft and blends beautifully into the skin, they're enriched with vitamin E and argan oil making them gentle and beneficial for the skin. Because they're trios you can create lighter or darker shades, or mix them together on the brush. I'm amazed that these only cost a tenner as both the packaging and the product itself feels much higher end.

Invisible Lip Liner: £5.90 // Lip Primer: £8.90
This is such a great little duo, they create the perfect base for lipstick and because they're 'invisible' they go with any shade. They are especially handy to prep the lips with when you've got a darker lipstick that likes to smudge or bleed from the lip line. The primer creates a base for the product to grab onto and last longer, and it also neutralises the lip colour (a bit like a concealer) so the lipstick applies more true to colour. 

What new products are you loving this spring?

11 April 2016

My House Move & Five Tips For Moving House

(fyi my move looked nothing like this cute scene. It was more like my boyfriend drowning in flat pack furniture and me running around like a headless chicken, shouting with messy hair and a bright red face).

Back when I was at university I moved house quite a lot, and as stressful as that was it was nothing compared to moving house as a fully fledged adult. When you own all of your own furniture and appliances, have pets and years worth of accumulated possessions moving house really is hard work! I did it recently and now I'm at the other end and fully settled in I wanted to share a few of my tips and my experience of moving house this time around. Me and my boyfriend moved together to a new city which also added a few of it's own challenges into the mix, but if you're planning on moving soon here are some things to consider!

Start as Early as Possible
I appreciate this isn't always possible especially when you're renting, I know it wasn't for us! Although we'd been looking for a while, when we finally found a house we liked they wanted us in there as quickly as possible and so everything was a bit of a mad rush. But if you have a moving date that's well in advance it's so worth starting everything as early as possible. Packing up non-essential items, phoning around to make sure everywhere has your new address and the date you'll be moving in. These kinds of things will always take longer than you anticipate, especially when you're having to make phone calls and send emails and then chase things up a few days later. Luckily lots of places have change of address forms online now, but you always get one or two that like to be difficult and want letters sending off instead. Or even worse, insist they need you to phone up and then make you sit on hold for half an hour. Annoying! Get quotes for things like van drivers/ van hire/ removal companies (depending on what type of service you're after) this can be quite pricey so don't let it be a cost that catches you out. Plus they tend to get booked up quickly too so make sure they're available on your moving day.

Pack an 'Essentials Kit'
Before you start packing things away, I highly advise putting a little essentials kit together. I used a small hand luggage sized suitcase for this and found that it was the perfect size. Useful things to include are kitchen essentials including a tea towel, washing up liquid and cloths, a couple of plates, mugs and pieces of cutlery- the kinds of things you'll need be able to eat and drink on the day of moving and that evening. Bathroom essentials including a bath towel and a toiletries bag and additional items like a mobile phone charger, bin bags and basic tools like a screwdriver and tape measure. A change of clothes, pyjamas and a makeup bag will also come in handy. I also had all of my ID and paperwork in here as well which you'll need if you're signing a tenancy etc. Have a think about the kind of things that you're going to need to have on hand over the move, it saves having to re-open and dig through boxes to find things you need immediately. With everything else going on when you're moving, having these kinds of things where you need them saves a huge amount of stress. Have this all ready to go ahead of time and keep it with you, and make sure it doesn't get loaded onto the van with all of your other boxes.

Get Organised and Pack Well
Packing is boring, and it's so tempting to shove everything into boxes with no thought just to get it out of the way. But if you do this step properly, you'll thank yourself later on. If you make sure all clothes, bedding, pets bedding, soft furnishings etc are washed and neatly folded into boxes it means you wont have to do a load of washing when you get to your new place. Make sure fragile items are properly wrapped, and consider taking all valuables/ electrical equipment yourself instead on putting them on the moving van. Make sure there's nothing that could leak or cause a hazard (ie sharp objects poking out of boxes) and use packing as an opportunity to declutter. Only pack and bring with you things you actually need and use, and create piles to be thrown away or sent to charity. Unpacking is already stressful and time consuming as it is, making sure everything is clean and organised before boxing it up saves no end of hassle when you come to get organised and unpack all of your stuff.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time To Clean
I pride myself on being a clean person, I keep my stuff tidy and organised and for the most part actually enjoy cleaning. But cleaning our old empty house after all of our stuff was removed still took ages, way longer than I imagined it would. Before handing your keys back you'll need to make sure things like floors, windows and windowsills are cleaned, inside and on top of kitchen cupboards, any appliances that came with the house. Bathrooms, the kitchen and the gardens/ outside space. You'll need to dismantle any light fittings you have up, remove blinds, hanging baskets, plant pots etc. These are things I hadn't really given much thought to, it was only once everything else was removed I could see how much was still left to do, so is something to be aware of! Don't forget to fill in any holes in the walls from where things were hung up, and any scuffs and scrapes in the paintwork from moving furniture. It's the little jobs always seem to take the longest.

Consider Your Pets 
Having someone to look after your pets while you pack and move is the ideal solution, we didn't have this luxury when we moved and it was a bit stressful having the dogs messing about and jumping in the way when we were trying to get things done. Always consider your pets safety, on moving day when the door is going to be open for a lot of the day make sure they're secured in a room and there's nothing in there that could be dangerous including dismantled furniture or heavy boxes that could fall. You'll need to work out how you'll be getting them to the new property too, we had a 45 minute trip down the motorway to consider and since both dogs are not great in the car we had to purchase a couple of things to make it as safe as possible. Our biggest dog travels in the boot so we bought a metal boot guard to stop him from trying to jump over the back seats, and our smaller dog was in the back seat strapped in with a harness and a proper doggy seat belt. This was possibly the most stressful car journey we've ever done, but luckily we all made it safely to the new house.

Have you ever moved house? What advice would you give to someone moving?

10 April 2016

2016 Runway Accessory Trends to Incorporate in Your Outfits

Guest post: written by Heather Carlson

The second month of spring has just kicked off in a grand style. Now that the weather’s warmer and the sun shines brighter, there’s no better time to whip out our best outfits or, why not, to go on a mini shopping spree and acquire some new additions. But even in the case of “old” garments, they are best complimented by accessories from the latest collections. And, believe me, this spring 2016 runaway collection is so innovative and quirky it’s difficult to not fall in love with it.

Earrings Everywhere
Earrings are the star accessories of this year’s spring line-up. Big designers have exhibited on the runway some definite trend-setters and, this year, it seems like it’s either “go big or go home.” Simplicity and minimalism have been ditched in favor of shoulder-duster earrings – long and decked in the glow of eye-catching gems, like the case of Oscar de la Renta, or rocking nonconventional and abstract shapes, which was the case of Prada’s earring choice. Other houses have opted to promote asymmetry as this season’s ruling theme. The Roberto Cavalli runway was rich in outfits assorted with a single earring (that perfectly fits the shoulder-duster trend), something picked up by the presentations of Loewe or Emilio Pucci. Another way in which designers said goodbye to matched earrings was by, well, mismatching them. McQueen, Celine, or Marni, among others, chose to flaunt shoulder-length earrings that don’t resemble each other even the slightest bit. 

Chokers Are This Season’s Hit
Traditional pendants and necklaces have been traded for chokers tightly coiled around the neck. By using this thematic as the foundation, designers have constructed creative designs that incorporate florals, tribal embellishments, pearls sparkling amidst ribbon gleams, and iridescent gems, twisted and reinvented in a way that makes them the starlets of any apparel. 

White in Power
Bags have never been easier to match with an attire, now that a considerate portion of designers have flaunted bags painted in the simplicity of white. Houses of the likes of Miu Miu and titan Louis Vuitton have opted to incorporate in their attires snow white bags, whose biggest advantage is the very simplicity that the rest of all the grand and eccentric accessories have chosen to abandon.

Opera Gloves and Mitts
One of winter’s most common accessory has made the transition into the cherry blossom season and is now an inclusion highly favored by Gucci, especially, who has opted to clothe the hands of its models with stylish and elegant gloves. Whether they’re gleaming through a layer of golden, providing a pinch of traditional elegance through knitting, or whether they’re silken and elbow-length, these gloves are a trip back in time. In contrast with Gucci’s elegant simplicity, Louis Vuitton came out with a pair of unconventional black mitts this year, garnished by white leathers that constitute the perfect detail which makes these mitts scream of toughness and rebellion.

Crown Jewels
After chandelier earrings, opera gloves, and pearly ribbon chokers, the look of refined elegance cannot be complete without something that reminds of a modern princess. Crowns, tiaras, and general head accessories of the same area are extremely sought after and they’re as versatile as they get. Whether you’re opting for a flower-decked headband, a small tiara adorned in the scintilla of fine gems, or a Xena-like forehead band, they’re a puzzle piece that fits right in with the other established trends on this list.

In Conclusion… Big, Bigger, and the Biggest
This season leaves no room for displays of modesty, with almost every accessory on this list being a representative of the word “superlative.” Chanel really went all out with one of its attires, perfectly illustrating this spring’s fondness for extravagance. Other than the inclusion of the already talked about choker love, this apparel includes another major hit of the season – chains. Not specific to a single category of accessories, chains are very popular additions, whether they’re crafted into a pair of earrings or annexed to a handbag (remember, plain white). Other than the ones already mentioned, big trends that have been promoted on this spring’s runway were multiple cuff bracelets, a plethora of rings, a return of brooches (fitting right in with the grand thematic), and bizarre, luxurious face decorations. Regardless of which one of them will make the cut as accessories to your next outfit, one thing is clear – abandon all minimalism and get ready for a surrealism of fashion.

05 April 2016

Five Reasons Why I Love Hair Extensions

I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with extensions over the years. As much as I've always loved how they looked and the versatility the gave me with my hair, it got to a stage where I found I was relying on them to feel 'normal' (like a true addict- ha). Luckily after growing out my hair I did break that cycle and now that I'm not wearing them all the time, when I do have them in I can appreciate the added benefits they have. Here are five reasons I love hair extensions!

1. They Make Your Hair Look Longer and Thicker
The first and most obvious one; hair extensions make your hair look longer and thicker. This is great if like me your hair grows at a snails pace, or is naturally very fine and lacking in volume. Before extensions were readily available you basically had no choice but to make the most of your natural hair or wait for it to grow, whereas these days it's so easy to be able to accentuate and boost what you have or try out a different look altogether. Depending on what you're doing you can change up your look in a matter of minutes simply by clipping a few wefts of hair in. 

2. They Can Help to Disguise a Bad Haircut/ Hair Disaster
I've had more hair disasters than I should probably admit over the years, the worst was when I was eighteen and decided it would be a good idea to bleach my hair from black to blonde in the space of about three days. My hair never really got back to a decent standard until I was well into my twenties, but the first few months especially were a bad time because my hair looked atrocious. Thankfully I was able to hide the car crash of a hairdo pretty well with extensions, when they were applied and my hair was straightened it looked deceivingly healthy. I dread to think what I would have done without them, I'm far too self conscious so would never have just embraced it and probably would have become a recluse until it was sorted out! If you've had a dodgy haircut or a bleaching disaster has left you with a lopsided 'do, popping in a few hair extensions will at least disguise the problem until you've had the chance to sort it or grow it back out.

3. Gives You The Ability to try Different Hairstyles
I grew up missing out on all the cute hairstyles people were wearing at the time, attempting things like a plaited bun with my fine and lightweight hair just looked ridiculous at the best of times. Now when I see voluminous plaits, messy buns and thick and full ponytail styles I know that I can still give them a go thanks to my trusty extensions. A whole world of hairstyles that I'd never have been able to try previously opened up!

4. Adds Instant Glamour For Special Occasions
This is one of my favourite things about hair extensions. If I'm going somewhere special and want to look nice, I know that adding in some long extensions will instantly make me feel more dressy and glamorous. If I'm having a day where I feel a bit ugly and disgusting then I know I can clip in my extensions and look a million times better, and when I'm going out it's nice to have that added bit of confidence that I get from long hair.

5. They're Easily Accessible and Affordable
Go to a high end salon and you're looking at at least a few hundred pounds being spent. However you can buy a decent set of extensions for way less than this, and looked after well last a really long time (mine tend to last me for the best part of a year- which is a lot longer than a cut and colour would last!)

Do you wear hair extensions?