Brand Focus | Yes To Cucumbers!

This Thursday is national cucumber day! You might think, why would anyone celebrate national cucumber day? but if you knew how good they are for you and for your skin you'd definitely want to celebrate. The amazing team over at Yes To got in touch and asked if I'd want to trial some of their Yes To Cucumbers! range as part of the Cucumber Day celebrations and already being a huge fan of the Yes To face wipes it really was a no-brainer. 

So to fill you in on what Yes To stand for in their own words "We say Yes To innovative, natural, fun and efficacious beauty solutions from head to toe, free of the nasties and filled with the goodies." their products are split by ingredient each focusing on a different skincare concern. So tomatoes are for blemish prone skin, grapefruit battles dullness and cucumbers is for sensitive skin. I'm a huge advocate for using gentle skincare, when I had horrendous acne 10 or so years ago, switching some 'acne' specialised products to super gentle sensitive skin care is actually what saved my skin. Plus this cucumber range is all vegan and organic which as you'll know if you've read my vision posts in the past is really what I'm trying to focus on using exclusively this year. 

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I was so kindly sent the biggest box of goodies from Yes To and my sister and I had the best afternoon getting stuck into a full skincare pamper routine. Starting with the micellar water to take off our makeup. I'm obsessed with this bottle, you just flip up the lid, take a cotton wool pad and push down and it applies the product straight onto the pad. Genius. It smells really fresh and gets my beloved waterproof mascara off with ease. The cucumber scent is so calming, it's something I first noticed when I used this, lovely and cooling on the eyes and although there is some residue left it's quickly absorbed and because these products are 95% natural ingredients anyway I feel like there's no harm and god knows my under-eyes can use all the hydration they can get. 

Which is where these amazing masks and treatments come in, I was so pleasantly surprised at how many different types of masks the range has! Powder-to-clay masks, sheet masks, cream sleep masks, 2-step eye treatment packs, as you'll see in the photo below I instantly went for the super-hero style green under-eye patches which were so cooling and really depuffed my under eye bags. I was far too excited to do this but normally I put my eye patches in the fridge to cool for a bit so if you're going to use these I'd recommend it for maximum cooling results. Really looking forward to trying the other face masks, and I love the idea of buying a bunch of these and using them for a girls night in. I know my mum, sister and I will be planning that very soon. 

If you love the eye patches, which I'm sure you will, then Yes To also have a cooling eye gel in this range so you can feel the benefits morning and night. In the summer especially I think it makes sense to switch a heavy eye cream for a lighter more cooling gel, hotter nights and more long evenings spent in the local pub garden can leave you looking tired and puffy the next day. Each pump was actually really generous so I've just been using half a pump for both eyes and it's so refreshing, it does feel a little tacky as it dries but I haven't found it to be an issue at all. 

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As you can see I was looking very lovingly at these cucumber wipes, I've relied on Yes To wipes for years, because they don't burn, they're full of good ingredients and just get the job done. I nearly always pick up a pack of these before a holiday or trip because although I much prefer micellar water on a day to day basis, lugging around a great big bottle and a packet of cotton pads can be such a faff! So these are much easier and are about as eco-friendly as makeup wipes can be, plus I love the packaging, it feels fun. I know I'm a sucker but I'm also a marketing graduate so I think it's allowed! 

These wipes come in a pack of 30 or 10 and are so affordable, I think makeup wipes are one of those products that you get what you pay for and with Yes To! because so many of their products are full of natural ingredients you can be sure that it's going to get the job done. They're available in Boots and I'd highly recommend spending some time on their website because with so many different 'flavours' of wipes to choose from you want to make sure you're getting the ones that are best for your skin type. 

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On the cleaning side of their product range Yes To! have some gorgeous but gentle products for all you sensitive-skinned babes. My favourite is the calming clay mask, its a reasonably runny pale grey mask that's packed full of cucumber extract to soothe and nourish sensitive skin. I'd say this is perfect for 'bad skin' days when your skin just feels overwhelmed and it seems like no product will help, apply this all over and let it sooth and calm your skin. It doesn't feel chalky on the skin as it dries which I love and left my skin feel balanced and soft after. Fun tip - I always leave an old foundation brush in my toothbrush pot to apply my face masks with because it's less messy than using your fingers and. I find I waste less product which is always a bonus. 

The cleanser is such a good everyday staple, it looks like a relatively standard gel cleanser but the cucumber extract is so cooling and it feels really velvety on the skin. It gently lifts impurities whilst soothing to leave your skin gently cleansed without irritating. Skincare routines can become so complex these days that it's nice to strip things back and have a good reliable, non-irritating cleanser to rely on and that's what I like this for. Would highly recommend if you have acne prone or sensitive skin. 

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So there's my ode to cucumber extract featuring Yes To!'s cucumber range, which I would highly recommend, regardless of your skin type I think we could all do with reaching for something a little more sensitive every now and then. Which of these products do you think you'll try? My favourites have to be the calming clay mask and the cucumber wipes, amazing quality everyday staples with adorable packaging but without the gross price tag, not to mention how good they are as a company at giving back to the environment and sourcing their ingredients as best as they can, I 100% applaud any beauty company who are trying to be greener and with the majority of the Yes To product range being certified vegan it's easy to do your part to. 

What to watch | My favourite movies

Ok so one of my great loves in life is film, I've seen probably hundreds over the years and its something I love to share with friends and family. Certain films hold such lovely memories of who and when I first saw them. They hold iconic moments that we all quote on a daily basis, songs that make us want to laugh and cry and characters that inspire endlessly. 

So I've decided to start a "what to watch" series, with my recommendations and recommendations I've had from others on the perfect films to watch for any occasion. Girls night in? Want something to make you howl with laughter? A thinker? Something based on real life? Over the course of the next few months I'm going to compiling it all and I'll make sure to include where you can watch them online as well to make things even easier. 

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I do go to cinema quite regularly so every now and then I might throw in a film review for something new but mostly it's going to be about existing films and things you can watch in your own time in the comfort of you own home. If you have any guides you'd specifically like me to write then absolutely let me know! 

Today however I'd going to give you a rundown of some of my all time favourite films. These are classics in my eyes that I could honestly watch a thousand times over and never get bored. Warning - it is a mixed bag, from thrillers to Disney classics but hopefully that means there'll be something for everyone. So grab your laptop and some popcorn and settle in because I guarantee there'll be something here you'll want to watch. 

The heart-warmer | My best friends wedding

Where do I start. This is potentially my favourite film of all time, it's got everything you could want from a film. You can't help but love Julienne and feel for her a little bit, I'm sure we can all relate to watching someone we love (or loved) with someone else. The fashion is amazing, Julia Roberts look like a 90's queen throughout and Cameron Diaz looks so young she's almost unrecognisable! However the highlight is Rupert Everet, he absolutely makes this film. Expect a laugh a minute, an ending that will make you say aw and an EPIC soundtrack! 

The motivator | Legally Blonde

Ok I'd happily talk about this film all day. What starts off as a seemingly standard rom com type film actually delivers some quality life lessons. Elle, played by Reece Witherspoon is a seemingly clueless college graduate who followers a man to Harvard in the hopes of winning him back. As you can imagine she gets way more than she bargained for, but this is a great film if you're motivation is feeling a little low and you need a feel good pick me up. Plus she's hysterically funny, you'll finish this film instantly wanting to listen to the sound track and I don't blame you, the song from the opening credits I actually listened to in the gym the morning of a job interview last year and it gave me such a boost for the rest of the day.

The controversial choice | The Wolf of Wall Street 

Leonardo Dicaprio must have had a ball filming this. Based on a true story around investment icon Jordon Belfort, it follows his rise through the ever competitive Wall Street scene. What I love about this film is that it's clever, not in a well done mr Belfort way but that I find the whole thing really interesting to know how he did it. Amazing cast, it was a break out role on Margot Robbie and also has Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Great for some laughs and a bit of escapism. 

The thinker | The Circle 

If you're going to watch any of the films on this list I'd recommend it be this one, it's quite black mirror because it's very close to the reality we live in now. Tom Hanks and Emma Watson star in this film and it's definitely a thinker, Emma's character gets a job at a very large powerful tech conglomerate and gets herself involved in an emerging new project that isn't all it seems. A good watch, but I'd recommend watching it with a friend because you're definitely going to want to talk about this after. 

The musical one | La La Land

Quite a recent film, but a favourite none the less. If you've read my blog before you'll know how much California holds a place in my heart and this film is basically a giant advert for LA. The soundtrack is beautiful, Ryan Gosling plays the piano, John Legend has a cameo, it's a cracking experience start to finish. I actually saw this is the cinema three times when it first came out, I just could not get enough. What I love about this film is that it's fantastical enough to feel like an old school movie without losing any realism, there's iPhones and Uber but there's also old school jazz clubs and tap dancing in the street. LOVE, if you haven't seen it already then put it on the list. 


Now bear in mind this is only a snippet of my favorite films, I promise to share lots more of these top 5 style films posts in the coming weeks. I've just checked and apart from Legally Blonde (which is so good you should just invest and buy the DVD) all of these films are on Netflix. I'll watch a film normally 3/4 times a week so have built up quite the knowledge bank of good flicks. Hopefully, that you'll benefit from these posts and come back to them later for reference because there is nothing more annoying than not being able to decide on a film because you've already seen them all. My intention was for these guides to offer some movie marathon inspiration. 

Brand Focus | Jurlique Rose Moisture Collection

When it comes to skincare I'm all about focusing on the active ingredients because I find it gives the best results. In 2018 I've changed up my skincare focuses to try and incorporate as much natural or more eco-friendly products as I can. With Summer coming swiftly round the corner I've been on the look out for a mist I can keep in the fridge to keep my moisture levels topped up at all times and provide a bit of refreshment. The products in this post have kindly been provided by Jurlique, having admired their products for years and being a fan of their kind to skin approach to skincare I am very excited to be sharing these products with you. 

A bit about Jurlique before I give you all the details on these amazing rose products, started in Australia the purpose of Jurlique was to harness the power of mother natures botanicals and put them to good use. Their mission statement is simple, to bring people back to nature. Check out their website to learn all about how all their products are completely sustainable "from seed to skin". Personally I love that ethos and makes me feel much better about using the products. The glass bottles are also a lovely nod to sustainability, completely recyclable and reusable, plus they look gorgeous in the bathroom.

Now on to the products (you're going to love this) 

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The Rose Moisture Plus collection is designed to "Intensely hydrate and protect against environmental damage with our Rose Extract and Antioxidant Complex to enrich the skin." the main ingredient here is the rosehip oil which is proven to work wonders on your skin. It's a very pure source of vitamins A, C and E which are vital for brightening and protecting your skin. It helps tissue retention to help heal pigmentation and acne scarred skin. It also allows your skins cells to retain more water than normal which aids a healthier complexion but also minimises fine lines and wrinkles. Basically it's up there with some of the best ingredients you can use on your skin and should be considered a skincare supernova when it comes to natural ingredients that pack a punch. 

Rosewater Balancing Mist 

As I previously mentioned a face mist is what I was on the look out for to add to my routine and I've found an absolute winner. This is a very fine mist that doesn't coat your face or leave it too wet which makes it perfect for putting on over your makeup. It's meant for restoring tired looking skin and adding moisture back into your skin, the rose water leaves your skin feeling really soothed and balanced. Not that you ever should but I imagine if you ever get sunburn this would feel amazing. It's also packed full of antioxidant properties to improve the quality of your skin as well as nourishing. One of the key ingredients is marshmallow root extract which is a powerful hydrator, the plant itself contains a thick syrup like liquid that's really hydrating on the skin. It also contains aloe vera leaf which is what makes it so soothing and helps to calm any irritation. I love that this isn't in a huge great bottle, its definitely handbag sized which I am all in favour of as I can have it in my handbag for mid-afternoon top ups. Although Jurlique do have some absolutely incredible limited edition face mists that come in bigger sizes and the packaging is unreal.

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Rose Moisture Plus Lotion 

This product really surprised me, I'm used to rose based creams and lotions feeling quite heavy on the skin and potentially a little oily from all the rose extracts, however this lotion is super lightweight but still leaves my skin feeling silky. Something tells me this is going to become another summer staple. Described by Jurlique as "A lightweight moisturising lotion that provides dual benefits of hydration and protection keeping skin soft, soothed and balanced." it has most of the same benefits as the mist but this obviously is more hydrating. A nice addition to the rose extract is turmeric root extract, which is a brilliant skin booster for reducing the visible signs of aging and brightens the skin by combating dark spots and discolouration. As if that wasn't enough it's also good for battling the effects of pollution, which since I've lived in cities for the last 4 years and probably will continue to for quite some time, is music to my ears and these days I feel battling the effects of pollution is something we all need to look at more. I've been taking two pumps of this at night and putting it on top of my serums and eye creams and what I quite like is that the lotion itself isn't super firm in consistency, it's more liquid than what I usually use and which makes it not soak in immediately but leaves the skin feeling cool . I top this with some of the rose mist and call it a night. 

Moisturising Cream Mask 

I know everyone loves a face mast these days but controversially I don't think a lot of the masks on the market are actually doing that much good for your skin. A good treatment should contain more than just lots of lotions and oils, it should have 2/3 hero ingredients that really pack a punch on your skin and when used twice a week actually make a difference to your skin. There are very few masks that actually give instant results, however, I will say that this Jurlique rose moisture mask does have a significant impact on the texture of my skin. You know those 'bad skin' days where things just feel a little oilier than usual and the texture goes a bit scratchy and lumpy? It's very tempting to grab the nearest scrub and start going at your face but after using this mask for the past few weeks I'd recommend grabbing an effective hydrator like this. 

The benefits of this are it offers deep tissue hydration to soothe and balance the skin, the main warrior in this mask is macadamia oil, which is very similar to the skins natural oils and sebum so it's more easily absorbed. Rose Gallica flower extract is what makes your skin so soft after even the first application, it makes your skin cells more supple and by being so hydrated you'll be left with a touchable soft, more healthy looking complexion. It's recommend to be used either as a 10 minute treatment or as an overnight mask. Personally I slather it on as soon as I've taken my makeup off at 6/7pm and then just take a warm cloth and wipe off the excess at 11pm right before I get into bed. Smells heavenly and feels like a proper at home pamper, perfect for a mid-week pick-me-up or a Friday night in.

You can find Jurlique products online and at most of the UK's beauty retailers and high street stores. Check out their website to learn more about the Rose Moisture Range as well as their other collections. http://www.jurlique.co.uk 

Wisteria Hysteria

With the bank holiday coming up I thought I'd share how I spent my last bank holiday. Isn't it amazing how an extra 24 hours feels like a week and make the biggest difference. Earlier this month, having had enough of city life (at least for the weekend) I packed up and went to stay with my parents for some sunshine, some much needed catchups and a pitcher or two of Pimms. My boyfriend actually ended up packing up his exam revision and joining us on the Saturday night which made it extra lovely. Never again will I ignore the weather forecast and decide not to pack shorts, stupid decision as I ended up spending the weekend roasting in my jeans! This weekend I assure you my short are top of the packing pile and definitely coming with me. After spending most of Saturday and Sunday lazing in the garden which felt like a Mediterranean getaway with such gorgeous weather, we had a BBQ and talked all about our summer plans.

Never one to skip pass the foodie details I'll run you through the menu, a huge greek salad with lots of olives and feta, a tomato and mozzarella salad topped with some basil from mums garden (yum) From the BBQ we had chicken drum sticks, burgers and lamb skewers which were seriously tasty. All finished up with some baby new potatoes in mint. We were all completely stuffed by the end of lunch but there's just something about BBQ food that means you can't just have one portion. Also how cute are my mums strawberry glasses! She gets them out every summer and they are perfect for pimms. 

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Having no garden at my flat here in Birmingham means I'm back home again this weekend and this time I'm taking my flatmate Jazz with me. We plan on doing very little apart from sunbathing on Saturday and writing up a few blog posts here and there. Fingers crossed the forecast stays as lovely as it is because it's set to be a scorcher! My mum is a brilliant gardener and grows her own produce every year in her kitchen garden [julieskitchengarden on instagram - if you're not following you definitely should be because she's almost at 10,000 followers!] so spending time in our garden with the amazing wisteria and roses that bloom every summer always feels extra special, we've had years worth of school prom photos in front of these roses and every year they bring back such good memories. 

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I am absolutely loving having the new blog and name and I hope you are to, all your lovely comments have meant so much because it took me so so long to put together. I'm hoping to strike a balance between more structured editorial style product posts and chattier diary style posts like this one. I used to do nothing but diary posts when I first started and there was something really nice about going away for the weekend or doing something different with my day and then sitting down to write about it. We'll see what works but if you have any requests for content you'd like to see over the summer let me know! 

Brand Focus | Antipodes Skincare

If you've been seeing any of my posts over on my instagram then you'll know one of my New Years resolutions is to try and be kinder to the planet and that includes using more natural skincare. With Spring well and truly blossoming I thought it was the perfect time to share with you an all natural skincare brand that has well and truly stolen my heart. Antipodes is a brand that I've always had my eye on trying but never got round to it, I remember seeing posts on the Manuka honey mask three or four years ago and absolutely loving the packaging as well as the 'taken from nature' ingredients list.. 

Antipodes got in touch asking if I wanted to take my natural skincare challenge to a new level and overhaul my routine with them, the products in this post were kindly gifted but having used the products for just over a month now the opinions are completely my own. My skincare routine before was not hugely thorough, I'd use a cream cleanser on makeup free skin, a serum and a moisturiser or oil before bed and an eye cream. For reference my skin type is combination and although I wouldn't class myself as acne prone anymore, I definitely have a couple of blemishes every now and then. 

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Hallelujah Cleanser 

For me this is the star of the show, this rich and creamy cleanser is made with lime and patchouli and not only smells amazing but left my skin really thoroughly cleansed without drying it out. No residue in sight, I like to slightly wet my skin and take a big pump and gently massage all over my face and neck. Often I'll do this before I'm going to get in the bath and then leave it on whilst I soak to really let my skin benefit from all the natural oils and nutrients. Other superfood ingredients include, avocado oil (if you think you love it on toast just wait till you've put it on your face) Kawakawa leaf and Macadamia. The Macadamia is what gives it it's deep cleansing abilities, but it's perfectly balanced by all the amazing oils and extracts. Also it comes in a beautiful glass bottle that really makes this a wow product for me (no judgment, I'm not the only one who takes packaging into consideration when buying a product) but what I didn't think of at first is that the packaging is recyclable! Unlike plastic tubes this glass bottle can either be refilled with something else or recycled. Genius. Although this cleanser is not as strong as the ones I normally use I can tell my skin is thanking me for it. At night my skin feels softer and more moisturised than when I use a foaming cleanser, over the last month I have been using this morning and night and I even pumped some into a travel tube to take away with me. Good if you have sensitive skin but still want a deep clean or if you have dehydrated skin in need of a healthy boost of nutrients. 

Avocado Pear Night Cream 

As the seasons are changing my combination skin tends to be oilier and drier in places than usual, I prefer to balance things out my using a deep cleanser to purifying my t-zone and then pop on a nourishing night cream to help my skin heal overnight. Especially with the snow and harsh temperatures we were having back in March my skin felt almost raw from the wind. That is where this incredible night cream comes in, this isn't an exaggeration when I say this night cream has to be the thickest most heavy duty cream I think I've ever used. Enriched with Manuka honey this night cream brings natural radiance to the surface whilst also being full of natural anti-bacterial properties whilst the avocado oil deeply nourishes. This blend of oils has been proven to stimulate synthesis of collagen production in skin cells by up to 92%. Amazing for battling pre-mature ageing (not that I'm worried about ageing at 22 but by keeping my skin well hydrated it never hurts to be prepared) . As you can see from the image above this is a super rich cream, again in their glass jars so its good for the planet as well as your complexion. 

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Jubilation Body Cream 

You might have remembered me mentioning the Antipodes body creams in my Christmas gift guides, these body cream are so luxurious and perfect for taking away with you because they're the perfect size. I'm a firm believer in active ingredients in skincare, especially things like body creams are not going to be their best once they've been open for eight or nine months. It feels much wiser to have a smaller amount of product and be able to use it up whilst it's still fresh and the ingredients can actually do what they're designed for. I'm going to plan a whole post on active ingredients, what they mean and what to look for. These creams feel so luxurious to put on and sink in just enough to not feel sticky when you put your clothes or pyjamas on. A beautifully balanced dose of Vitamins A, C and E provides the ultimate daily nutritional skin boost, the more you use it the better your skin looks, body care is so often overlooked but as the days heat up its just as important to get your limbs glowing. 

Rejoice Light Facial Day Cream

Ok so I'd like it known I am full in love with this metal packaging, I think it's so different and it means you can really get every last drop out of the products and again, the packaging is fully recyclable. A gentle, light and non-oily facial day cream. Packed with rich avocado oil helps perfect a healthy, plumped skin tone and help to decrease the appearance of fine lines. Manuka flower oil, renowned for its health benefits and anti-bacterial properties, promotes the a blemish-free complexion. Again I'm a huge fan of this day cream, it is slightly heavier than what I normally wear but the benefits to my skin are that much better as well. There's a distinct almond smell which isn't my favourite but it doesn't linger which is what you want for a day cream, not a fan of smelling like almonds all day but with the natural scent coming from the oils it does make applying the cream feel more luxurious. 

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Apostle Brightening Serum 

Ok so this is the product that took me the longest to love, the Apostle serum is a dark red in colour and quite a thick watery gel like consistency. Bizarre description I know but those of you who have used this product will know what I mean. I used this serum for a few days in a row and wasn't in love with how it felt on my skin, it's quite thin so I felt like it sunk in too fast to be doing any good. I picked it up again after reading the back of the bottle "helps correct dull, blemished or uneven skin" SOLD. Although as I mentioned my skin isn't as blemish prone now, I do struggle with scarring from acne and discolouration. This has been back in my nighttime routine for about two weeks now and I feel like Im already starting to see a difference in the clarity of my skin. In the summer I love turning up the glow and maximising my skins brightness and this serum is doing wonders. Exfoliating enzymes from the superfruit kiwifruit and soothing Vinanza Oxifend from pinot noir grapes are amazing at promoting cell turnover in your skin and sloughing off any dead skin cells. Stay tuned but this might just be my favourite serum yet. 

So that's my brand roundup of everything I've tried from antipodes so far, my skin is loving their products and I think next I'd like to look at their face masks and mists. The Antipodes products are luxury feel, which wholesome ingredients and an environmentally aware packaging which also happens to look super luxe on your bathroom shelf. If you're going to try one product for me it would have to be the Hallelujah cleanser, unless you love a good night cream in which case I challenge you to find one thicker or better packed with goodness. 

The difference a day makes

It's happened to the best of us, you've procrastinated one time too many, had that early night when you should have stayed up working and suddenly your work has piled up and you're feeling very overwhelmed. Feels like it's impossible and you've stretched yourself too thin, whether you're a student or you're a studying professional or a part time blogger, part time boss (yes I'm looking at you), it happens, we're human. 

I've always found when I'm revising or working that taking myself away from the desk in my room and getting out the flat can give you a lot of perspective, especially when you're weeks deep in a big project. I was searching for the perfect coffee shop or library nook to go and work in and that was when I discovered on instagram the most amazing space, right here in the city centre. Amazing decor, full of inspiring professionals and a view that could rival most swanky hotels. Sound amazing? thats because it is. Alpha Works is a hot-desking facility, with rentable office space and boardrooms available for use to all it's members. However after visiting I discovered is it so much more than that. Alpha Works has it's own community of super friendly, motivated individuals who are all killing it in their own right. I spent some time there using their facilities and I was so impressed. The attention to detail is amazing, everything is accounted for, including a rather special coffee machine, which is unlimited for members and makes the cappuccinos of dreams. 

Alpha Works feels like stepping into google HQ or your 'cool' friends trendy apartment. The decor is so dreamy, clean and airy with an industrial feel, and everywhere you look there were people typing away, having meetings, brain storming or on the phone, all absolutely bossing it. Talk about motivation. 

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A feature of Alpha Works is that on each floors there is a full kitchen ready to use, whether its preparing your lunch or grabbing another cup of coffee, this place feels like the biggest home office. There are also huge open plan offices that are either rented out by companies or are available to hire for meetings, whatever you need a business space for Alpha Works has got you covered. As a blogger and digital marketer, I'm constantly looking for inspiring places to work and Alpha Works for me has to be the top place in Birmingham for branching out of your local starbucks and taking your work more seriously. 

Memberships are available on a daily pass, monthly unlimited pass or private office basis and the team are so friendly and helpful that if you get in touch they'll be able to guide you to the membership that will best work for you. With the spec the space is done up to, I'd be more than happy to bring a client here for a meeting but working here solo was an absolute dream for getting your head down. Did I mention the view they have from the 19th floor? Panoramic sights of Birmingham that you can just get completely lost in (the perfect distraction) 

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I am a firm believer that a day is all you need to change things around, write that to do list make yourself a plan and get yourself down to Alpha Works, after a solid day of getting your head down I doubt you'll find anyone who doesn't feel better.

If you're looking for somewhere in Birmingham that's really central, has panoramic views, a seemingly endless amount of nooks and rooms to sprawl out and work at, then Alpha Works is the place. Such a great space with a great team behind it. come for the beautifully designed work space but stay for the atmosphere that's nothing short of invigorating. 

To learn more and get in touch with the team, visit their website - http://www.alphaworksb1.co.uk

Spring Fashion

With this weeks heatwave I am thrilled to be switching out my boots and tights for cropped jeans and sunglasses, it might not last but let's enjoy it whilst it lasts shall we? H&M have just opened their new flagship store in Birmingham and it is HUGE! I went for a wander and picked up some summer shirts that are going to take me from beach to boardroom to well....Brindley Place. I saw a photo of these gorgeous blossom trees on instagram about a year ago and have been waiting for them to bloom again ever since and on Monday, having checked the instagram geo-tag, they were in perfect bloom so I grabbed my favourite new shirt, my boyfriend and we took a walk after work and were not disappointed. 

From my previous fashion posts you'll know I'm a comfort over everything kinda gal and working in PR I'm often running around so mini skirts or high maintenance shirts just aren't going to cut it in my daily wardrobe. This shirt from H&M was only £8.99 ( I know... you're welcome ) and this green colour immediately caught my eye. Not a colour I normally go for but being blonde and having recently fake tanned I thought I'd go for it. It's a soft cotton, that it slight see through in the wrong light so for work I put a cami on underneath but day to day it's fine without anything, I think the relaxed fit is really flattering and doesn't cling around my boobs which if you're a larger chested girl like me you'll know the struggle is REAL. 

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Isn't it always the way that all your clothes break/wear out all at once?! I found myself in desperate need of new jeans and am super happy with these high-waisted skinny fit from TOPSHOP. Their Jamie jeans are my favourite fit and it's solved so many issues being able to walk into topshop and pick up my size in any of the Jamie colours or styles and knowing that 9/10 times they're going to fit. It's taken a long time but from the foreseeable future I will not be shopping for my jeans anywhere else. These Jamies are a mid-wash, super soft and stretchy but they're slightly cropped and have a frayed hem on the bottom. Great for spring and summer and despite my occasionally nippy ankles are going to make a great transitional piece as the seasons change. 

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Another new addition to my S/S wardrobe are these amazing trainers from next, yes that's right I might be 22 but I can't pass up glittery star trainers. I know you'll call me crazy but they're actually quite subtle, as with all next shoes they took a little wearing in but now they're so comfy and having a pair of trainers back in my life is so much easier than wearing loafers everywhere. Statement trainers are everywhere at the moment I'm personally such a fan that something so comfy and covered in glitter can still be considered fashionable. 

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I think my new pieces will see me through the next few months of Spring and I'll start to buy more summer clothes as the weather warms up, but for now this is my spring uniform. Really hope you're all enjoying the new blog and the new design, I'm hoping to post more fashion content because although I've shy'd away from fashion content before, purely because I don't find my own fashion to be particularly groundbreaking, but as a friend mentioned to me recently what I am good at is finding comfy essentials that work for season after season, so that's what my fashion content will be. Fashion for the everygirl, nothing out there and outrageous but outfits you can actually wear. 

Dont forget to check out this shirt in H&M - HERE, I have it in this green and white, the blue and white and the pink (slightly overkill I know) but with 20% off with UniDays they worked out to be the same price as one normal blouse and that's my spring work wardrobe sorted

Where I look for new beauty inspiration

Being a bit of a beauty junkie,6 I'm constantly looking for the next 'it" product and with the beauty industry forever growing there is a constant barrage of new products to get excited about. I tend to try and stick to a routine for at least six weeks so I can feel the benefit of the product but unless a product really wow's me I rarely repurchase products because I'm always trying new things. When it comes to finding beauty inspiration either for new products or for new ways to use my current makeup collection. 

As well as Instagram inspiration for my own photography, getting inspired by how products are being displayed because without looking at it or swatching it in person it can be hard to get a feel for the consistency of the products through photos but magazines like Glamour or Cosmo  are well practised at beauty photography and work with the best in the business. 

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Magazines 

InStyle, Glamour and Stylist are some of my favourite magazines for beauty inspiration. Whether its product reviews, new releases or just the gorgeous full-page advert spread, I love flicking through the pages on holiday or over a weekend with a coffee and a face mask. I'm a fan of reading up on celebrity and model skincare routines, with the heavy makeup their skin goes through they always have some top tips up their sleeve.

What I also love about buying a magazine is that you can keep it as a permanent reference, especially the limited edition seasonal mags that do the bumper beauty issues having a collection on my shelf or dressing table is nice to flick through and look back on. Having the magazine open while I’m getting ready is an excellent source of inspiration. 

Blogs 

No shocks here, with so many blogging babes posting amazing reviews daily there is a blog for everyone. Pinterest is a great way of finding new blogs to read; I love going back through blogs and reading their old posts. Influencers and bloggers have the best advice because they trial so many products, professionals like Caroline Hirons have great advice and completely debunk the industry by giving you the gimmick-free info on what you need to know. 

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The graduate guide to home decor

Ok so you've graduated, congrats you clever thing, you're looking to move out of home or from your student halls and find a place of your own. You've found the flatmate, you've narrowed down your apartment choices and you're already thinking about the decor * I know I definitely was* The idea of leaving your student things behind and moving into your new flat is enough to inspire many a Pinterest board. Sadly although you're now a graduate you might not have the money to start investing in a high-quality piece that can often be a lot more expensive, I've found some great shops that I go to as staples to pick up necessary things for my flat.

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TK Maxx / Home Sense

It's hardly a well-kept secret that TK Maxx and Home Sense sell the most beautiful, quirky, not one-off but feels like one-off pieces that are super affordable. I've found lots of glasses, candles, towels, and storage in there that always feels like a real find. My advice in here though is that if you find something you like you should absolutely buy it then and there because the odds are you won't find it again. I bought the cutest sugar pot in Home Sense back in October and then decided I'd like the tea and coffee pots that matched and it took me months of trying to find them, however now I have I'm completely obsessed with them.

Good for - cheap, quirky items that are cute for decoration

Avoid if - you're looking for something specific or more than one of the same item

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George at ASDA

Bizarrely not the first place I imagine most people would think to look for homeware but for the last few years I've been a fan of ASDA's bedding, it's not too expensive and is good quality fabric in nice designs and for me, it does the job. They change-over their stock quite regularly so it's good for finding unique bed sheets. I have some from here that is a soft brushed cotton and they are the coziest thing and feel so warm when you get into bed. I've only ever bought their bedding but from their website, they also have really well-priced home-ware like cushions and kitchen basics.

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Dermalogica Skincare

I was lucky enough to work with influenster and dermalogica at the beginning of the year to trial and review their new daily superfoliant, along with some other goodies. For those of you who are regular readers, you'll know my skin type is the combination and blemish prone. I don't often experience any dryness since I started using an oil into my night routine. I was skeptical at first because the superfoliant is an activated charcoal powder, and my instinct was *messy* however, I was pleasantly surprised and having used it for 6 weeks I'm excited to bring you my review. 

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I've been using the daily superfoliant, basically every day in my morning shower and I've been loving the results. To use you simply wet your skin, pour a 10p sized amount into your hand and massage into a lather on your face, you'll find as I did that at first the scrub feels grittier but as you continue to scrub it turns into a velvety foam and feels very gentle on your face. 

 

Reasons I love this: 

  • it's gentle enough to use every day 
  • no nasty chemicals 
  • good use of activated charcoal means any blemishes are kept at bay and my pores appear clearer and smaller without having to use a harsh acid or pumice based scrub. 
  • it leaves my face feeling so soft and clear, but doesn't dry it out at all. 
  • when used in the shower there is zero mess

Now onto the other star product here, the skin smoothing cream, for those of you who don't know dermalogica pride themselves on making your skin smoother and softer, that's what they go for. I've been using this cream every morning after the superfoliant and I'm 100% sold. It looks fairly unassuming it's just a white cream with no distinct smell however this feels super rich and luxurious to apply but doesn't leave your skin feeling oily which for me is huge. I tend to find that I need to be quite careful with what cream and moisturizers I use in the morning because anything left on the surface tends to make my makeup slip right off by lunch. this however sinks in whilst I blow dry my hair and my skin is just left feeling bouncy and well nourished. 

I was also sent the pre-cleanse balm and their special cleansing gel to try, the pre-cleanse balm is really lovely very similar in texture to the Clinique take the day off balm which I know is widely loved and does the job at melting down makeup and turns into a milky cleanser when you add water. I really loved this product and appreciate how a little does go a long way. The special cleansing gel to me was nothing to rave about, it is a gentle gel cleanser that doesn't foam or lather and left my skin feeling clean and not stripped but I like to have a little more oomph from my cleansers if you have sensitive skin though this could be a real winner for you.

My 2018 Reading List - Motivation, Self Love, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Comedy

One of my resolutions has been to read more for the last two or three years and this year I've collected enough books to finally put together a reading list. These books have been gifts from family or they've been books I've had on my bedside table for months and have been meaning to read, either way, I plan on conquering them all and there are some real gems in here. The plan for today is to go through these and just tell you why I picked them up, what I've heard about the book and then once I've read them I'll update this post with my review.

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Nice Girls ^Still Don't get the Corner Office / Lois P Frankel, PhD

This was a gift from my Aunt a couple of Christmases ago and I've shamefully still not read it. An absolute cult classic, full of valuable life lessons for women in the workplace. From how to navigate office politics, to how to ask for a raise or extra support with work this book is something that especially now I've graduated and am making my way into the industry as a social media professional I'm hoping this little gem will help me be wiser and more confident.

Year of Yes / Shonda Rhimes

This is my most recent purchase and although I'm only a couple of chapters deep I AM LOVING THIS. Shonda Rhimes is the mastermind behind some of the most successful TV series ever *anyone ever heard of Greys Anatomy or Scandal? ... thought so* Well this is the beautifully honest telling of how Shonda realized that she never said yes to anything. After an evening dining with the president, she came to the realization that although that evening was one of the best of her life, she'd have said no to the offer had she have been given the option. This sparks a year of change and personally, I can't wait to read more of this. She's amazing - a must read.

The Wisdom of Crowds / James Surowiecki

I bought this whilst I was writing my dissertation last year and never got round to finishing it because, despite how truly brilliant it is, I did find it quite hard going as a reader. James Surowiecki delves into societies psychology and how if given a problem to solve a large group of people would solve it better than a small group of experts. A very clever narrative on modern opinion leaders, one that will teach me some things.

Truly Madly Guilty/ Liane Moriarty

This book truly makes me feel guilty, I bought and started this book back in August! August! and as it happens every year, the holiday was over and so too was my attention span for this book. I've struggled to get back into it ever since and I'm hoping this spring I can make it happen. From the same writer as Big Little Lies and The Husbands Secret, the concept for this looks like everything I hope for in good fiction.

Beautiful broken things / Sara Barnard

Not my usual kind of read but considering the hype surrounding it I figured it was worth a go. From what I know of it, it's a tale of female friendship through growing up and figuring out who they want to be. Will update this post once I've read it if you've already read or heard of this one, leave me a comment below I'd love to know what you thought of it. 

Lean In *For Graduates / Sheryl Sandberg

If you don't know who Sheryl Sandberg is then I suggest you stop reading here and go and treat yourself to a little TED talk all about "Leaning In". Sheryl is a catalyst for change in the workplace and I remember reading Lean In for the first time when I was 17 or 18 and being completely in awe of her, not just for the topics she was teaching me about but for the way she delivered them, honest, frank, occasionally funny and unapologetically feminine. This new edition for graduates I'm hoping is going to shed some light and advice on the working world from Sheryl's point of view and honestly I have a long list of questions I'd love to get her thoughts on so let's hope this book answers some of those.

How to be champion / Sarah Millican

From one powerhouse to another, Sarah Millican popped onto the British comedy scene many years ago and for me has always been completely hysterical because she says exactly what we've all thought once but have never been brave enough to say, and I don't mean that in a clique "oh yeah we all do that" kind of way, I mean it's a laughing out loud on the train "I've thought that before but never ever out loud" kind of way and for that she is perfection. This book looks like a healthy dose of motivational-self help style life advice covered in Millican humor and I just know I'm going to love it.

So there we have it, my 2018 reading list. I've linked all of the books on Amazon to make it super quick to get your hands on them and get stuck in. If you have any book recommendations you think I'd like then please message me on social media or comment below and let me know what you think I should read next.

PUTTING A SPRING BACK IN YOUR STEP

Recently I've not been loving my wardrobe. Shocker. Its a dilemma most women will declare 2/3 times a year, normally towards the end of a season when some of their pieces are looking a little tired and they've fallen into a routine. Hi, I'm Lorna and I am 100% guilty of this. I find myself reaching for the same outfits that 3 months ago felt super cool and right on trend but now leave me feeling frumpy and bored. 

Normally I'd turn to Pinterest or instagram to find new ways to wear my existing pieces and maybe invest in a few new ones, and I'd look to either mimic or replicate other peoples outfits and styles.  With every new year I always try and clear out my wardrobe and throw away anything I no longer love or ever wear, and normally I'll find a few pieces and I'll wonder why I ever bought them, because they're just not me. So today I want to talk about how to reinvent your wardrobe to squeeze out a couple new outfits for the remaining month or two of winter but how to do it whilst looking and feeling like you.

I feel like I struggle to decide what "style" my fashion choices are, I like classic traditional pieces, like a navy wool coat or a white Oxford shirt but if I try and go too traditional I end up looking about 40 years older than I actually am, there's a fine line. I like to wear seasonal pieces and incorporate trends into my wardrobe but I've found if I try and go too trendy I end up looking like I'm trying way too hard and I just don't find it very flattering on me at all. I also find I tend to steer towards more feminine shapes and cuts, I'm not super skinny so I tend to find that anything "masculine" style tends to make me look much bigger than I am or I just find it uncomfortable - aka the term "boyfriend" styled anything is banned from my wardrobe.

Something key to feeling good in an outfit is the fit, you might love that investment piece from 3 winters ago but does it still fit you like it did? if not reinvest? Those heeled boots might be ridiculously comfy and be an dead ringer for the £1000 Chloe ones but are the heels about to break at any moment? maybe take them to a cobbler and have them re-heeled and bring a whole new lease of life into your favourite pieces.

Fabric makes a huge difference in how you feel when you wear something, last year I purchased a classic a-line mini skirt that fit like a glove and was perfect for everyday and for dressing up in the evening, but instead of a denim or a wool I bought it in a black leather which was very different to what I'd normally go for and I absolutely loved it. Sticking to styles and cuts that you know work for you will always mean you feel comfortable and you feel like you, but by changing up the fabric you're giving yourself a new lease of life, the satisfaction of feeling like a fashionista (something I definitely am not)

Sometimes it takes for you to lay out your entire wardrobe for you to know what you have, yes those navy trousers look great with that white jumper, but what about that grey blouse you completely forgot you had? I've done this a few times and just mixing up the way I wear certain things like not tucking in a jumper or switching flats to heels can make you feel like you've got a whole new outfit without spending a penny on something new.

Something else which is completely under rated is clothes swapping with your friend and family, everyone bring a bottle of something and a bag of clothes they no longer love and everyone swaps pieces or donates any that no one wants and you get to a) have a fun night in with your girls b) get a bunch of new clothes for absolutely zero money.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR DAY AROUND IN 30 MINUTES

We've all had those days, you wake up just in a funk and you can't seem to shake it. Whether it is a bad nights sleep, too much sleep, overthinking or something else, we all have bad days and they can be the hardest things to turn around. I'll admint that some days I actually enjoy just embracing my bad mood and starting again tomorrow, but when you have a full time job and a flatmate that's not always possible or kind, bad moods can spread like wildfire and even though the winter blues have hit us all HARD this week there a few tricks I keep up my sleeve for pulling myself out of a stubborn funk. 

Sweat

This is my top fix, for me if I need to clear my head or get myself pumped up a really intense workout is the best way to do that. I prefer to do a class rather than just workout on my own, normally I go for a spin class to help me feel better. Focusing on the music and the instructor is a great way to relax. Plus Elle woods said it best, exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. I've never regretted a workout and it's definitely one of the healthiest ways to let out your stress and frustration. 30 minutes later and I feel refreshed, re-motivated and at the very least I've had a 30-minute distraction and some good exercise.

Podcasts

Podcasts have become so popular and it's not a new thing, there's a podcast for everyone and every mood. Some of my personal favourites are; Coffee with Chrachel, The Guilty Feminist, At home with and the amazing Emma Gannon's Ctrl Alt Delete. Podcasts are a great way to make you laugh, to make you think and to put your rubbish day back in perspective, some of the guest speakers on these podcasts are truly inspiring people who have battled through so much to be where they are. Sometimes it feels good to wallow in your bad mood and to just allow yourself to be grumpy, but that can't last and it's not always healthy when you're out and about with other people, don't be the one to spread bad vibes. By listening to a podcast I'm isolating myself by sticking my headphones in so I know I'm not going to bother anyone else and it's a great distraction to lift your mood.

Shower

Depending on how much time you have, and 30 minutes is really all you should need, a power shower can wash away getting out of the wrong side of the bed. It can reset your day and make you feel fresh and awake. Shower thoughts are a real thing and if you're having an issue or you don't know what to do next, a long hot shower with some uplifting citrus-scented body wash can change your whole outlook. If you have the option I've been known to go and sit in the steam room at my gym and just sweat out my issues till I feel better, focusing on my breathing and my surroundings really helps make everything else seem so unimportant, obviously this one is probably not such a great middle of the day type fix but to make sure you're don't wake up feeling as rubbish tomorrow or to stop a bad day before it even gets started.

Ring a relative to tell them you love them

Nothing stops a bad day in its tracks like your parents, I don't know about you but my parents are the king and queen of putting things in perspective and giving me good advice, even when I'm trying to wallow in my misery. My best advice is to ring someone else, someone you love and ask them about their day and how their life is going, when you wake up in a grump it's very easy to look inwards and make everything feel all about you. You don't need to tell that person you're having a bad day, but checking in with them not only puts your issues in perspective but you'll get that feel good feeling for doing something for someone else.

So there we have it, my top, slightly less conventional ways to battle a bad day and with winter going strong and Christmas over it seems everyone got the winter blues, try and push your energy away from yourself and give back to someone else.

MAKING MEANINGFUL RESOLUTIONS

It's that time of year,

everyone

making plans and starting

afresh

in the spirit of the new year, personally I love nothing more than a fresh start. New year, a

new term

, new job whatever it is for me it means new opportunities and an excuse to crack out some stationary or a new planner and make some good old fashioned resolutions. I've gotten in the habit of writing my resolutions first thing in the morning on New

Year's

day, never more than 5 and I try not to overthink them, whatever is important enough for me to remember at that moment in time is what my resolutions will be. This time of year we're all bombarded with articles on what our resolutions should be and personally I find that the only way I actually stick to mine is to make them completely personal to me and to get specific. So to cut through all the rubbish that's circulating online about making 2018 "your year" as dictated to us by journalists,

here are

my thoughts on making meaningful resolutions that work for you. 

1. Prioritise Impact

Thinking about what you want to achieve, think about what is going to make the biggest impact on your life and what changes you want to make to feel like you've achieved something. Are you looking to be healthier? and is switching from dairy to soy milk going to make enough of an impact to feel like you're actually healthier? Last year I said I wanted to read 12 books, one a month, and although I didn't make that total I'm not exactly sure why I set that as a goal and what impact I was hoping to achieve by doing that? Goals have to mean something otherwise you'll get absolutely nothing out of achieving them. Something I'm planning to focus on this year is nurturing my relationships, not just romantic but my relationships with my family, friends, colleagues, clients, anyone who helps me and has a part in my life. During the latter part of 2017, I feel like I let the ball slip a bit with some people and

2. Less is more 

The boyfriend and I were talking about the 2017 and we asked each other, what's 3 things from 2017 you want to do less of in 2018 and 3 things from 2017 you want to do more of. It got me thinking that actually sometimes doing less of something can have just as much of an impact as starting up something new. For instance, last year I wanted to stop getting coffee out as much, the impact of this is that I'd save money but it also meant I learnt more about making a decent cuppa at home. I started with just aiming to stop buying coffee out for a month and then it just became a habit of making my morning coffee before I leave. Small switches to make could be walking to work instead of getting the bus, you'd get extra exercise, some morning thinking time and save money on transport, or instead of just going to the shops for a wander maybe try going to a local park or museum, small changes can make a bigger impact than we realise.

3. Baby steps 

Like I said with kicking my expensive coffee habit, breaking things down makes goals so much more achievable. A resolution doesn't have to be completely life-changing, things like "learn to make fish pie" or "try a tap class" can be just as much of a resolution as "I want to run more". I saw something on Pinterest about setting a goal for each month of the year, having different focuses for each month of the year means you'll not only set new habits each month, but it gives you more chance of succeeding by focusing on one specific task, like fitness in January or reading in August, giving back in December.

4. Make it personal 

This is the most important part of setting resolutions, there's absolutely no point in setting goals that magazines tell you or copying what your friends are doing because if it doesn't mean anything to you-you won't want to work for them. Every January seems everyone on some kind of diet or fitness kick, something I've learnt in the last year or two is that if you didn't want or need to diet before Christmas, a few weeks of indulgence isn't going to change your body forever. Odds are you'll have gained some weight over Christmas, but as soon as normality and routine sets back-in in January that'll fall right off and your body will go back to normal. Just because the world is dieting doesn't mean you need to. That applies to most things, if it doesn't work for you don't force it. Find your rhythm. 

Stepping into 2018 - Goals, Targets and Things to look forward to

2017 was such a busy year I ticked off a lot of my goals without even trying to, I completed a dissertation, graduated with a first

still in complete shock,

got my first full-time job, AND moved into my first apartment! Phew, busy year. 2018 feels different, I don't have any plans made for me, like graduating, and no major life decisions to make, like moving into my first flat. If I wanted in 12 months my life could be exactly the same, which is a comforting thought but also scary because this will be the first year of my life without any kind of full-time education. With that in mind, I have a few things I'd really like to make more time for this year, there are a couple that have been on my list for a while, here's hoping 2018 is the year. 

Taylor Swift 

Ok, so I always joked around with my family that one of the major perks of getting a full-time job after graduation would be that if Taylor Swift ever went on tour again I'd have the money to be able to go. Well ladies and gents, one stressful Friday morning and an eye-watering amount of money later, I'm going. Having been a fan for well over 10 years this has been a long time in the making and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't seriously excited, my seats are way up in the gods but I don't care, it's Taylor at Wembley in June and that's exciting enough for me. 

Flying sans parents

Something my parent have instilled in my sister and me is our love of travelling, we've had so many adventures and without a doubt as a family there are so many places left on our list, but this was a goal of mine last year and I didn't quite get round to it, but I'd really love to go travelling on my own this year. I'm not sure where yet, I've got a very long list but I'm thinking of going on a weekend break in February to stretch my legs a little before I attempt anything more adventurous. So watch this space and if you have any recommendations for me please let me know! 

Making the most of my gym 

I'm lucky that I have the most amazing gym right on my doorstep and I absolutely love being a member there, the classes are great and the trainers are super helpful. In the new year (like everyone else I'm sure) I'd really love to make the most of it, I love the classes I go to are great and I always feel it the next day but there are so so many different classes and after reading

Carlys fitness post

I'd love to see what difference I could make to my fitness if I changed things up and made more of an effort to go. 

Blogging 

A big part of 2018 for me is going to be about nurturing the blog, writing about things that truly interest me and focusing less on the materialistic side of blogging, expect a lot more career and university focused posts with some more fashion thrown in there too. I've written a content plan for the first few months of 2018 and if I can help it I'm going to try and stick to that as much as I can. I've been really lucky to work with some great brands in 2017 to bring you content that I truly love, in 2018 I'm hoping to go back to my roots and why I started this blog in the first place and I'm hoping you'll all enjoy reading it as much as I'll enjoy writing it! Any content requests please let me know by emailing

theinterndiariesxo@gmail.com

STOCKING FILLER GUIDE

Ok so far this year I've given you a full roundup of the best luxury gifts and my, bumper 2017 gift guide. The only thing left is one of my personal favourite things to shop for and that's stocking fillers! I love making stockings for my parents and my sister, normally I like to set a budget of £10-15 per person for their stocking and on top of the things below I like to include some sweets, festive chocolate and maybe something like their favourite magazine. 

Lean In Book / Bolsius "Celebration" Candle / Paperchase Filofax / Quote Mug

*some products featured have been gifted by PR 

THE 2017 CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Hi all, hope you all enjoyed my "Luxe Life" gift guide full of luxuries for yourself and your loved ones. Today I'm bringing you my ULTIMATE gift guide, looking at everything from beauty to fashion to gift sets and home decor. I'm hoping this can help you finish up your Christmas shopping and find some hidden gems. I'm trying to really push myself with my Christmas shopping to find the most personal and beautiful gifts for my loved ones this year and so far so good I'm really pleased with the gifts I've bought. Some of my favourite picks this year are a good pair of pyjamas, especially these festive ones from GAP.

The Charlotte Tilbury instant look palette, I was gifted this from my mum for valentines and it's been such a lovely piece to use and would be a perfect luxury gift for a special lady in your life. The top gift for me has to be the MAHI leather weekend bags, I've had mine since May and I've gotten so much use out of it, personally, the quality can't be topped and the personalisation option adds such a lovely touch. 

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE 2017 - LUXE LIFE

It's that time of year again! I'm so excited to be writing this post it's the beginning of a series I've been looking forward to writing all year...my Christmas gift guide. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to bring you the best of Christmas, gifts for her, gifts for you, extra special gifts and stocking stuffers galore. It's about to get very festive. 

Today it's all about luxury gifts, presents that are that little bit extra, either because of their price tag *mulberry - I'm looking at you* or gifts that have a little extra thought behind them. Let's dive in. 

Winter Woolies

With December being in in the peak of winter, there's nothing more appropriate than some snuggly woolly accessories. This is a great gift because depending on who you're buying for there are so many variations, you can go super luxe with a cashmere scarf or something really classic like my Burberry scarf pictured above, or in the other end high street stores like next  and Zara have some amazing hat/glove and scarf sets that are really affordable and perfect as gifts. Perfect gift for anyone, go for a chunky navy knit scarf for your dad, some leather fur-lined gloves for your mum, a cute pom pom bobble hat for your sister and Christmas is basically done! My personal favourite is this amazing star print cashmere scarf from M&S. I've linked below some great options that are perfect for all the family, ranging in price and style but knit accessories are things that if looked after properly can last you for years and years.

Headphones

Something we all use almost daily, at work, on the tube, at the gym, having a decent pair of headphones is not only good for your musical musings but important for your ears as well. Can be a truly decadent gift if you go for some from Bose or Sony or there are more affordable and fun brands on the market like Skinny Dip and Skullcandy that offer affordable and well-made options for a fraction of the price. I pinched these gorgeous green headphones from my flatmate for these photos, but these are great! Bluetooth compatible so there's no need for messy wires and come with a lovely carry case, perfect for the avid traveller in your life. 

Slippers

I'm a huge slipper fan. A statement that any one of my friends or family will back me up on, if I'm in the flat then these will be on my feet. Especially in my new flat which has chilly *but gorgeous* hardwood floors. Slippers make a great gift and one I've given to people many times because they can be over the top and wacky and it doesn't matter because they're only worn in the comfort of your own home. These UGG lookalike slippers are actually from next but there's so many on the market that you truly can find a slipper style to suit whoever you're shopping for. Like this flip-flop style fluffy pair  or these adorable pom pom slippers.

Handbag

This is a super luxe option and one I've spoken about before but this crossbody bag from mulberry is so versatile and can be worn so many ways I'm still completely obsessed with it. Something important to remember when buying handbags as gifts is that they are very personal items so it's best to play it a bit safe and go for classic colours like black and navy and ensure there are adequate pockets inside for phones, wallet, keys etc. but if gifted correctly a bag can be the most special gift to give, you use it every day, if you're anything like me your bag will contain most of your possessions. 

Books

This is what I was referring to when I was talking about gifts that have that little bit of extra thought, my sister once bought me a limited edition copy of Noel Streatfields "Ballet Shoes" for my birthday because she remembered it being my absolute favourite book when I was younger. It's not necessarily a copy I'll ever actually read but it's so beautiful and has such a lovely sentiment behind it that I'll keep it forever.

A book

can be so personal and I think with reading actual paperback books becoming a bit of a lost art that it's the perfect gift to give someone this year. Whether it's a thriller, a romance or an old classic a book is a portal to a whole other world, what gift could be better than that? 

Candle

I've spoken before about how attached to the scent I am, I know from your reactions to that post that I'm not the only one. It has the power to uplift you, to transport you back to a different time or melt away your troubles. I love having a candle burning on my bedside table, and my flatmate and I will normally have a least two or three dotted around the flat. The one pictured above is the classic sanctuary spa candle which you can also purchase in a bubble bath, lotion and shower gel, the best way to completely submerge yourself in relaxation. Another of my favourites is the one my mum always burns at home and that's Yankee Candle Sweet Apple, a sweet and fruity scent that smells like home, can't help but feel relaxed and cosy with this on in the background. Again this is another gift that can be completely customizable, you can go all out with Jo Malone or something cheaper from Boots or next. Wrapped in some festive tissue paper this is a lovely gift for a mum, sister or grandma. 

Monochrome Autumn Fashion

Autumn can be such a tricky time in terms of fashion, anyone else struggle with being freezing in the morning and sweltering in the afternoon? I find the only way is lots of thin layers and lots of them. Recently I did what a lot of bloggers consider a regular pass time, the promise of golden hour and amber leaves made me get all dressed up for a walk in the park. After summer has officially wound down I can't wait to reach for my darker colours and leather and wools, as much as I love summer BBQ's and lying on the beach I would much prefer getting super cosy and tucking into a Sunday roast *which is exactly what I did after taking these photos* 

The inspiration behind this outfit is my new favourite jumper from Oasis, this black white and grey tabard fit turtleneck jumper is so flattering and the perfect "smart casual" piece for Autumn. Normally I don't like this longer style of jumper because they have a tendency to make short legs look shorter. However Oasis have thought of everything and this jumper actually has slits up each side to roughly the top of my hip or your natural waistline that leaves more of your jeans or skirt exposed, therefore elongating your legs. Win. 

The second part of this outfit is one of my initially riskier purchases that I've gone on to class as a staple and that's my leather mini skirt from next. I chose this as part of my uniform when I worked at next, it wasn't overly my style and much shorter than I'd normally go for but the fit was really flattering and it looked like it was made to a really high quality. I've never regretted it, this piece looks great with a chunky jumper, with a formal blouse or just a t-shirt. So versatile and even though it's two years old it still has a great fit and adds an edgier touch to my normally quite classic outfits. 

To top this outfit off I added my beloved Topshop leather jacket, my black suede Chelsea boots and my Mulberry Clifton bag.  This outfit feels that little bit more dressed up than usual but still very comfy and wearable for a relaxed Sunday. Looking at these photos makes me miss my long hair, I've recently had it cut much much shorter and can't wait to show you all very soon. 

I'm working on this year Christmas gift guides which I'm going to aim to send live at the beginning of December, just in time to help you all out with Christmas shopping! If there are any specific styles of gift guide you'd like to see please let me know! 

All of the links to the pieces in this post are below. 

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The Only Three Handbags You'll Ever Need

It will come as no surprise that I'm a huge handbag lover, over the last couple of years I've collected some amazingly classic, keep-them-forever type pieces and I just had to share because I know that for me right now as I'm looking to invest in things that are going to last. I know that with graduation being about 3/4 months ago a lot of you will be enjoying those graduate pay slips and looking to treat yourself to some wardrobe staples.

The bag for everything - Longchamp Le Pliage Tote 

A post shared by Lorna R. (@theinterndiariesxo) on Jul 17, 2016 at 11:24am PDT

My Longchamp is so well loved, since getting it about 2 years ago I've used it every day. This is a tardis/Mary Poppins bag, anything and everything I need for whatever kind of day I'm having I guarantee you it'll fit in here. Smart enough to be the perfect work bag, big enough to be the perfect hand luggage, it also folds up to the size of a small wallet so even when I'm carrying another bag, which isn't often, I can always have it folded up ready. The leather straps are so comfy on my shoulders I just know that'll keep using this bag for years to come. Yes, they are more expensive than a regular tote but they're incredibly well made and so adaptable for so many occasions and uses. Longchamp Le Pliage also comes in a range of sizes and colors as well as coming in a leather version as opposed to the usual canvas. This would make the perfect gift or "to me, love me" gift for any busy person who's constantly on the go.

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The bag for the weekend - MAHI Leather Columbus Weekender*

A post shared by Lorna R. (@theinterndiariesxo) on Sep 4, 2017 at 3:09am PDT

This leather weekender is a more recent addition to my bag collection but I seriously wish I'd invested in something like this so much sooner. It's so universal and strong that I know anything I throw in here will arrive in one piece and unscratched. MAHI leather is made here in the UK and the craftsmanship is impeccable, made from the finest quality leather and hand-finished you can really tell the amount of craftmanship goes into these bags. I also love the option to personalize it, I had my initials put on here as a more subtle way of personalizing it but I just know this will be a bag I'll have for years and it will only get better with age. Personally I chose the Columbus style because it had a comfy shoulder strap and plenty of exterior pockets for having things ready to hand.

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The Fancy One for everything else - Mulberry Clifton

A post shared by Lorna R. (@theinterndiariesxo) on Sep 27, 2017 at 3:56am PDT

So this very special bag was a graduation present from my parents and way beyond anything I could have dreamed of buying for myself. The clever style of the bag means the chain can be removed, to wear as a clutch, shortened to wear as a shoulder bag, or left long to wear as a cross body. Such a versatile bag means it's perfect for any occasion. I love that it has three separate pockets, I think it definitely helps to keep the shape of the bag and avoids overstuffing it. Having a little something extra fancy like this in my wardrobe has made normal outfits feel so much more put together, I've really loved wearing it and again it's another staple piece that I know I'll continue to wear for years to come.

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