Dear Anoushka,

I sit here and write this letter to you because I see you struggling with dealing with things and I want to tell you everything will be ok. I am proud of what you have achieved over the 34 years of your life. You have grabbed the bull by the horns and you have never rested on your laurels. You have taken everything that life has had to throw at you and although you didn’t think that you were dealing with things, you really did.

Dear Anoushka - A letter to my self (

To my 18 year old self.

Being thrust into adult life and desperate to fit in with those who I thought were superior to you, taught you to be yourself. Although you didn’t know it then, you would grow to flourish in life. You thought you were an outcast; being tall and go forbid fat. If I was as fat as you thought you were back then, I would be a very happy person. You developed skills that you didn’t know you had. Courage and bravery and started on the road to self confidence on not caring what people thought of you. You’d been through some tough times and made some questionable choices but you had fun. You experienced the things that young adults should experience; clubbing all weekend, working hard for a living and starting to become an independent young woman. You didn’t go to University, but you thrived by working and being part of a team with a lot of responsibilities. Of course, going out and partying sometimes took over but you reigned it back and cleared your overdraft. I am proud of you.

Dear Anoushka - A letter to my self (

To my 22 year old self.

That day when you went home to tell Mum that you were heading off to live in the Balearics was very daunting, but you did something that you needed to do. You needed to be independent and live alone, meeting some amazing people on the way including your best friend Matt. You developed as a person, you became strong after dealing with situations you didn’t think you would have to deal with. You confidently dealt with deaths and serious issues in your career abroad and you did this with integrity and tenacity. You returned home after two years ready to start a new career and ready for what your next challenge would be.

Dear Anoushka - A letter to my self (

To my 30 year old self.

Over those 8 years, you have made me incredibly proud of your achievements. You started a career that you loved and fulfilled an ambition. You also took it upon yourself to start University and completed a six year part time degree, in three and a half years whilst working full time. You learnt to be self motivated, and even more organised than you already were. You dealt with a break up that unfortunately had a huge impact on your life and although it made things difficult for the future, you used the experience to be more aware and guarded of being hurt in the future. You made a house a home and you made some incredible friends. You started writing a blog because you had a passion and that passion has led to some amazing opportunities in life. You’ve travelled the world and experienced things that you would never have experienced if you didn’t grab the bull by the horns. You also hit some intense lows in your life, but rather than hide it away, you took the first step of admitting it to yourself and taking steps to change things for the better.

To my 34 year old self.

This last twelve months haven’t be easy, but you have dealt with things with aplomb. You have fallen down, but you have dusted yourself off and got back up, no matter how many blows you have been dealt. You’re dealing with some vicious demons in your head and you’re dealing with them in a way that I am proud to be you. Having a poorly family member puts things into perspective that life is too short and you never know what life has to throw at you. Deal with what is going on, and deal with it in your own special way. You can rant, you can avoid it, you can be rational or even be irrational but you have a close network around you who will support you to the very end.

To my future self.

Take chances, live each day as it’s your last, work hard to gain your independence back. Ignore the haters, forget that they need the gossip to get through their pathetic lives. Open new doors, start new challenges, be positive. Trust few, love hard and have a small circle of those who you can rely on. Be passionate, be strong, be you. Continue to say how you feel – if people don’t like it, it’s their problem, not yours. Don’t be afraid. Don’t hide away in bed when you think it’s all too much – put on your big girl pants and show them that you are a force to be reckoned with. Carry on keeping that damn cat alive although he will be the death of you. Keep your friends and family close. Keep your enemies closer. Find new things each day to thrill you. Have a mid life crisis. Get tattooed, get pierced, do something each day that scares you. If you want to dance round the house to Steps on loud, do it. If it makes you happy, do it. Don’t stop doing something for the fear it will offend others. You are amazing. You have achieved more so far than others ever will. Stop worrying about the little things. Deal with each obstacle with poise and grace. Be zealous, be controversial, be yourself. Be you.

It’s very cathartic to speak to you as a younger self, and even more so to my future self. It’s time for a new chapter, and a new door will be opening very soon. I don’t know what it will be, or how you will get there, but you will. You will succeed in all that you do.

Love, Anoushka x

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I really don’t want this post to be a woe is me kind of post but I wanted to write my experiences and document things down so I can look back at how things have changed in my life over the last two months. Going forward, I want to be able to see how things have improved and changed and hear from others about their experiences and how others are dealing with their chronic pain. I honestly never thought that I would be in a position where my life would change to an extent where I would be on constant medication, struggle to do menial tasks and feel like I’ve lost my independence. Let’s take it back to the beginning and what has happened.

Chronic Back problems

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do struggle with bouts of depression and anxiety which is controlled by medication. Most of the time I get through each day without it becoming too bad, however one particular evening, I was in a horrible slump. Tearful with nothing to pin point it on, a general low feeling and not wanting to get out of bed, I took myself off for an early night with the intention of hoping that a good nights sleep would help the fatigue side and lift my mood. I stayed in bed til around 1pm that next day, and was forced out of bed as Thomas the cat was miaowing for food. I shuffled down the stairs, still feeling a bit pissed off, in my pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown. I could tell I was in a bad mood as I was slamming things around in the kitchen. Opening the cupboard to reach for his box of food, I bent over to pour the food in his bowl. The most horrific sharp pain shot up my back. It had gone into spasm, and it’s probably due to how stressed and tense I was. This wasn’t the first time it had happened but I knew from previous experience that if I got on all fours, with my back straight, it generally would right itself in a few minutes. No such luck this time, and I was in absolute agony. I had to try and lie on the floor, which was a task in itself and because I was so uncomfortable on my front, I managed to turn myself and lie on my back. Big mistake. I was absolutely frozen solid. It took me around an hour or so to slowly inch myself from the kitchen to the hall, with the intent of being able to try and use the stairs to pull myself up. I couldn’t get further than the kitchen door and I was having spasms all down my spine and left leg. With regret, I had left the key in the door and the safety chain across, so my neighbours wouldn’t have been able to get access to rescue me.

After around an hour of being half in the kitchen and hall, I knew I had to get an ambulance to come and get me. The emergency services were amazing. They stayed on the phone whilst the ambulance turned up, as well as the police who had to break my front door down to gain access to me. I was a sorry sight, lying on the floor in my pyjamas with one slipper hanging off my foot and tears rolling down my face. I was pumped full of morphine whilst I was taking gas and air to try and relieve the pain. It took three paramedics to get me off the floor before I was taken to hospital to be prescribed some more drugs and get checked out.

It took three days before I was able to move around without my back going into spasm. The doctors gave me a huge prescription of medication including Gabapentin which is a mild epilepsy medication which is being used to stop the shaking in my left side, plus strong pain relief and Diazepam to relax my muscles. I’ve gone from hardly taking medication to having up to 12 tablets daily to control the pain, spasms and shaking.

A physio assessment confirmed what the Doctors had hinted at, and that is a slipped disc that is pressing on my sciatic nerve causing the severe weakness in my left side. Even now, 7 weeks later, I am still struggling to hold things in my left hand and stand for long periods of time without my left leg shaking uncontrollably. With physio exercises to help with stretching my hamstrings, which has been causing me problems in bending over, I have slightly improved with getting around although I won’t be doing any cartwheels anytime soon.

I have an MRI coming up to see what the actual damage is inside, and I’m just hoping that it is just a slipped disc and nothing worse. The thought of having to have back surgery in the future terrifies me and I’m hoping that once we kn ow what it is, it can just be controlled with pain medication.

In terms of pain, I’m constantly aching but I am having pain everywhere else except where I’ve damaged my back. Whether its down to using other muscles and over compensating so I don’t injure the area again, I don’t know but I have never had my body ache so much. The weakness in my left hand side is still quite bad, although not severe, and unfortunately my back has since gone back into spasm. I keep getting told off because I’m not resting enough, but I also need to be active to stop seizing up. The medication is making me sleep more than I’ve ever slept before and I feel drowsy most of the day, with a clouded head and muggy thinking. Almost as if I’m drunk, I can’t formulate sentences properly and I keep forgetting things moments after thinking of them. My body feels stretched and although walking is good for me, I feel like after a while my gait changes like I can’t hold myself up. I’ve invested in an orthopaedic V shaped pillow which has been an absolute god send for keeping me propped up as well as holding me in place whilst I’m in bed. I wake up each morning feeling like I have bubbles behind my forehead which I have been told is a side effect of the Gabapentin and should settle soon but could take up to three months before the side effects start to subside. How long I will be on this medication, I do not know but because it’s a medication that alters cognitive processing, I’m not allowed to stop taking it without consent off my doctor. I’ve also developed what can only be described as a sprain in both my left ankle and left wrist and I’ve been wearing a support bandage to compress it to help. I’ve also got a trapped nerve in my groin which is very awkward, as I just want to rub it to relieve the tingling but you can’t do that in public!

The strength, or should I say weakness in my left side is really hard to deal with. I can’t lift, carry or grip anything without shaking and it’s had a huge impact on daily chores that I can do. For example, washing the pots has now become a military operation as I can’t stand still at the sink as well as lift things in my left hand without having strong tremors run through my leg. Even filling the kettle is painful. I can’t hoover as I have a Hetty and can’t bend or find the strength to be able to push it along the carpet. Even the simplest of tasks like taking a shower and washing and drying my hair have proved to be quite difficult, although it is getting slightly easier as the weeks go by. The most annoying thing is not even being able to hold my DSLR, and you know how much I love my photography.

The worst thing from all of this is that I feel like I’ve had my independence taken away. In the last 7 weeks, I’ve left the house just 10 times and the majority of those have been with friends or family as I feel like I have lost my confidence in getting out and about myself. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place because I need to keep moving but I have to plan it out as if I do go out, it wipes me out with fatigue for the next day or two. To say it’s driving me mad is an understatement. It’s going to be a long recovery process I know, but I will get there – that I’m sure of!

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This post has been playing on my mind for a few weeks now, however in light of recent situations it has come to the forefront of my mind and given me a lot to think about. Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. To me, I find success in completing my to-do list, for making sure all my laundry is done in time for the start of the working week and for keeping money in my bank account past the 10th of the month. Other success comes from different areas in life and one of these successes is of course my blog. A blog that started out as a small hobby, where I put in writing my opinions on make up that I had bought. Not expecting anyone other than my Mum to read it, I can now say that after nearly four years I have written around a thousand blog posts on make up and beauty, travelling, fashions, events and other things that I have felt the need to talk about. Not only that, but I have also amassed a strong readership, loyal followers, and a great working relationship with not only some of the biggest brands in the UK, but across the world. People often tell me how lucky I am to have so many products sent to me, but I’ve always said that my success isn’t down to luck. It’s down to sheer hard work and consistent fine tuning of a small hobby that has grown into a personal success.

Anoushka Loves bedroom

For those who do not blog, I suppose that from the outside looking in, it seems like all I do is play around on Instagram and Twitter, throw up a blog post every now and again and share the amazing products that have been delivered on a daily basis. For the outsiders, they don’t see just how much work goes into creating just one blog post. Historically, you’ll have seen that up until my back injury, I was posting almost every single day. Each blog post takes me around 3 hours from start to finish. Designing a photography background for the product placement, taking images, editing them before watermarking them, writing said post, editing and proof reading, plus the smaller things like social media promotion to ensure that all my efforts don’t go to waste and that people actually read it. A full time job in itself, all whilst having a full time job. Not only that but the inspiration and creativity involved to create posts that people want to read and share. Having a muggy head filled with medication has really scuppered this recently and I’ve not been able to find the words that I want to say, which pains me as I love to write. I’m not succeeding as of yet, but I’m sure that I will be back on track soon to be able to.

My success of my blog to people who don’t blog does lead me to an unfortunate situation, and one that may cause some controversy. Most people that I know who don’t blog are very proud of me. They champion all I do, and what I have gained through my hard work and dedication and they know that I am still humble of everything. People know that I actually don’t like talking about my blog, let alone when people start to read it in front of me. It makes me cringe. I suppose maybe it’s because I treat it like my own personal diary of thoughts. There are some people though, who seem to take great pleasure in trying to bring me down because of what they perceive to be my success. They are the people who don’t see me working through the night if I have a deadline, they don’t see my sobbing because this little hobby has got to much and I’m under immense pressure – which I have since learnt to let it go! They also just see what they want to see. Now, I’m not throwing the word jealousy into this, because I don’t believe that personally I have anything to be jealous of. I work hard, I work hard in an industry which I’ve wanted to work in since my mum taught me to do a smokey eye aged 9. People are appreciative of my opinion, my recommendation, my knowledge of the industry yet there are still people who don’t understand the blogging world who will try and take me down and speak poorly of me because I am doing something that I love to do and putting the work in to it. Believe me, when I see other people’s lives on social media, I also feel a pang of ‘I wish’, or ‘I’d love to do that’. But, what is stopping you? Why are some people so intent on letting other peoples success be a measure on their own lives.

This then makes me think about recent events for those within the blogging industry. It has all come to a head over this Easter weekend that there are a certain amount of bloggers who have been cheating the system by essentially buying followers or using an automated bot to increase their following. Some of the peoples names that have been outed have really disappointed me. As I have been championing their success, and being proud of all they’ve accomplished, it has gutted me that their success has been built on cheating the system. You may be thinking ‘oh well, it’s just a few followers’, however when a brand comes to choose who they are working with, it is a sad state of affairs but yes, follower numbers play a huge part in being chosen for outreach. The more followers, the more people will see it, but when those followers are fake accounts, where is the return on investment? When people like myself may be passed over because I don’t have enough followers compared to the girl who has been using bots to grow her Instagram by 200 new followers a day, it’s an unfair comparison. Sadly, it’s the world we live in yet my aim for success doesn’t have cheating the system in mind. My success comes from hard work and trying to grow my social media by using a strategy that is honest and although hard work with the current algorithms, it is working. The authenticity is there and that is more noticeable than ever in times where people are cheating. I have never wanted to be famous. I don’t want to be Insta-Famous and I most certainly would define my success on Instagram by cheating.

It does concern me greatly at how being ‘famous’ takes over the morals that I have personally built my blog on. I am proud to say that I am known for being straight to the point, for being outspoken and most of all being honest. People trust what I say and the amount of people who tell me they want my opinion before spending hard earned money on products spurs me on the most. With the Instagram cheating, the people involved who aren’t even holding their hands up and admitting what they’ve done, my words for you are these – You may think you may have the success now, you may think it will all blow over, but all it has done is tarnish your reputation. Spending X amount of years building a personal brand built on honesty and respect has all been removed overnight. I hope your success of being famous on Instagram is worth it.

Success – an accomplishment of an aim or purpose. If your aim is to cheat, well done. You’ve succeeded. If your purpose is to belittle my hobby because of your insecurities, you’ve also succeeded. But, has it been worth it? My aims have been completed with results way higher than I could have ever expected. Success. It definitely comes as a price, it’s just how you deal with it that counts.

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It feels like it’s been a long time since Manchester has had a new restaurant and bar opening that I’ve been genuinely excited about. Having seen the pre launch images of Grand Pacific, I was even more certain that I had to pay a visit to the newest Living Ventures project, based in the building of the old Reform Club on Spring Gardens, at the top of King Street, Manchester. The building itself is beautiful and totally in keeping with its neighbours on Spring Gardens and King Street. The Grade Two listed Venetian Gothic style building is quite captivating, with it’s turrets, beautiful long windows with exterior balconies and winged beast carvings above the main entrance. For Living Ventures to bring this building to life, it had to be out of the ordinary, and I really do think they’ve captured the essence of the building with the new Grand Pacific.

Walking up to Grand Pacific, I noticed a lot of pineapples within the design and decor, including on the door handles to the entrance to the building. Although pineapples seem to be massively in fashion with the blogger community at the moment, they actually represent something more than just the fruit. Here’s some pineapple history, just for fun. Pineapples originally began as the fruit of the wealthy, with them being used on table centrepieces. Pineapples also were once an expensive dessert, whilst rooms that had pineapple motifs carved into furniture were seen as being luxurious and welcoming, which was more commonly seen in Colonial America. The Colonial theme is quite apparent within the interior of Grand Pacific. With pineapples representing the assets in which we base a home, it’s a perfect symbol for Grand Pacific; warming and welcoming, good hospitality and friendship.

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Heading up the dark wood curved staircase, I was absolutely blown away by the opulence of the interior. Dark walls, dark wood tables, with gold accents and a huge palm tree leaf chandelier above the bar area, it’s resplendent. Heading to the bar, there are plenty of high tables to sit on, or you could mingle at the long bar and watch the bar staff create incredible cocktails including the Grand Pacific Signature – Wax Seal. The whole place screams high society, and I can’t help but think of the words of the great F.Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby – “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” With the music pumping, but not loud enough that we couldn’t converse, the atmosphere was electric. Whether it was due to being the launch night, or because Grand Pacific is the place that Manchester has been crying out for, it’s really took a hold of me.

Sitting down at a cosy table for two, we didn’t need to peruse the menu as both myself and my sister had already decided on the food around three days before our visit. The food has an Asian fusion vibe, with the dining menu having a tag line of ‘a mesmeric voyage of tastes from distant shores’. I started with the Thai fishcakes with a pineapple dipping sauce whilst Paula had prawn and mussel Laksa. Service from ordering our food to getting the starter was fairly quick and the food arrived on the table with an expert presentation. It was noted that they did take a note of who ordered what so it was presented to the correct person upon arrival. The Thai fishcakes were really tasty with chunky pieces of fish mixed with the potato and spices. The pineapple dipping sauce was my favourite; an explosive combination of sweet chilli with a subtle sweet yet slightly tart kick from the pineapple. The fishcakes were served with a fresh slaw and a tempura battered vegetable fritter. It was more than adequate for a starter and actually quite filling. The prawn and mussel Laksa looked incredible and the attention to detail on the presentation was impeccable. Noodles with a citrus labne were topped with butternut squash and edamame bean, and a generous portion of prawn and mussels, topped with roasted peanuts.

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

The wait time between our starter and main course was getting on for a good 40 minutes from having our starter plates removed, however the service staff were attentive and filled up drinks, changed napkins and cutlery over and engaged in conversation. The wait time wasn’t particularly an issue as we were having a great time and it could be put down to a very full restaurant as it was the launch night.

When the main course arrived, I was really hungry and looking forward to it much more since there was a considerable wait. I had spotted the Lamb Massaman curry on the menu prior to my visit and I was practically salivating by the time it came to the table. Served in individual dishes rather than the usual mix of sauce and rice on the plate, the Lamb Massaman came alongside Forbidden Rice and Gunpowder Potatoes with two pieces of naan bread. In China, Forbidden Rice is actually black rice, however this was a mix of both white and brown rice. It was seasoned beautifully and I couldn’t place the flavours that it was seasoned with, but it was certainly moreish. The Gunpowder potatoes were very tasty with both white and purple new potatoes being used, alongside sweet potato cubes that were topped with sliced spring onions and chilli peppers. The lamb curry can only be described as a food orgasm. I have never tasted anything as delicious as that curry. The lamb fell apart as soon as it hit my mouth whilst the massaman curry sauce was rich in flavour, smooth in taste and had enough of a kick of spice to bring the Asian taste to life. The only thing that let the dish down was the naan bread; it was slightly floppy with no particular taste or texture like naan should have.

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Whilst I had the curry, Paula had the Tempura Szechuan Sea Bass with crispy noodles and pineapple and cucumber garnish. From what Paula said on the evening, the fish was cooked perfectly, with a light and crisp batter, whilst the noodles were quite dry alongside the fish. The dish needed a sauce of some kind to make it easier to eat as the cucumber and pineapple, which tasted great with the fish, wasn’t enough to eat alongside two whole fillets of sea bass. A soy or Hoisin dipping sauce would have been a great accompaniment.

Although there should always be room for dessert, we were both pretty full to busting, so we ordered something light and fresh to finish off our evening. The Pineapple Carpacchio was served with a scoop of coconut ice cream and a sesame twills, topped with pistachios. The tartness of the pineapple was offset by the maple syrup drizzle whilst the coconut ice cream was so incredibly creamy that you would think that it was frozen coconut milk. It was a perfect palette cleanser, and an ideal dessert to take away the pang for something sweet at the end of the meal.

There’s a lot of attention to detail right down to the delivering the bill to the table, which came in a hollowed out book. It’s very meticulous with the ‘first class service’ that it’s apparent that they are going for. I do hope that this doesn’t start distracting from the food and the little things like service time in between courses. Grand Pacific reminded me of the Titanic; the luxurious and over the top designs, the monogrammed napkins, the intricate designed cutlery. It’s very well thought out and quite beautiful, however I do feel like they could be a victim to their own success if the little things aren’t ironed out. Our server for the evening was very apologetic over wait times, and again I have no reason to complain about his attentiveness but if this was a paid for meal, I would be a bit annoyed at having to wait for such a long time. I’m really looking forward to going back to try out the Sunday roast, and see how that fares compared to other places within Manchester.

* The meal was provided FOC however we paid for our drinks. All opinions are my own.

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A rainy Sunday in Manchester isn’t a rarity, but finding a cosy nook to have a top notch Sunday dinner is. With Manchester containing a plethora of bars and restaurants, with new places popping up all of the time, it’s very rare to find a place that gives that warm and cosy feeling without making you feel like you are being rushed. With a rise in ‘hot desking’ and finding a comfortable spot to work away from the office or home, The Refinery in Spinningfields has captured the essence of hygge whilst serving delicious food and amazing cocktails. I visited one rainy Sunday and I was reluctant to leave.

The Refinery has taken a trendy bar, an open plan kitchen and the comforts of a lounge to create a modern, relaxing space that wouldn’t look out of place on a Pinterest mood board. With a Scandinavian vibe using plush sheepskins, and relaxed lighting from ultra modern lamps and candlesticks, the whole vibe of The Refinery is that of comfort and feeling at home. Dining with Keeley from Phat Cupcake, we had our Sunday dinner in the lounge. Sitting on sumptuous couches, at a copper table with a marble top, it’s probably the most blogger-esque place that I’ve visited.

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

Having planned a long lazy grazing day whilst we caught up on all the gossip and what life has had to throw at us recently, I started with a hazelnut latte made with soy milk before trying a Monkey Business smoothie. Banana, pear, ginger, almond milk and maple syrup make this a truly delightful drink to the palette. Thick and creamy, without any dairy, it’s nice for someone like myself with a intolerance to dairy to be able to choose something off the menu with ease.

A Sunday dinner was the only thing on my mind, with the beef option jumping out to me straight away. I also asked for pigs in blankets which do come with the chicken dinner which they gladly obliged. It’s a long time until Christmas and I do love a pig in blanket. I was not expecting the sheer size of the food that was presented to me. A case of my eyes being bigger than my belly, I did wish that I hadn’t had a smoothie as I was lacking in room. I like to leave an empty plate so I did my utmost best to demolish the thick and juicy slices of beef which were cooked to a medium rare perfection. With roast potatoes that melted in the middle, and a delicious selection of vegetable including roast parsnips, carrots, broccoli and red cabbage, it was a very good rival to my Nanna’s Sunday dinner. Gravy, horseradish and Yorkshire pudding that were as big as your head, it really was the epitome of Sunday lunch.

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

 

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

It doesn’t matter how much you eat, you can always make room for dessert, and my choice was Pecan Tart. As I was so full, I really didn’t make the most of it and left at least half. For what I did eat, it was good however it was slightly burnt however the inside was moist and gooey with chunky pieces of caramalised pecan in a soft shortcrust pastry casing.

Finishing the luxurious lounging, a cocktail was in order. It was Sunday after all. The Tiki Punch cocktail was served over ice in a copper tiki cup which was very Instagrammable. The only downside to tiki cups however is they freeze your hands with the amount of ice. Sat curled up on the deluxe couch, I could have been mistaken for being in my own home. Good food, great company and opulent surroundings make The Refinery something very special.

Once I’m back on my feet, I feel like The Refinery will be a place where I will be spending plenty of time with my laptop and a warming latte or even a bottle of red whilst I catch up with friends and get some work done. It’s surprising how much more motivated you are to do work when you’re not in the house.

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

Once the weather is a bit better I’ll be looking forward to sitting outside on the terrace with the sheepskin furs for comfort and the additional blankets to keep warm in this questionable UK weather that we have. If you are local to Manchester, I really do recommend that you call in, if not for a Sunday roast but to experience the homely feel that The Refinery has to offer. You can also read Keeley’s review and she her thoughts on The Refinery.

*Meal provided in return for review however my opinions are 100% my own.

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‘I wish I was thin.
I wish I was pretty.
I wish my thighs didn’t chafe when I walked.
I wish my boobs were smaller, my stomach flatter, my ankles were slimmer.
I wish I was someone else.’

I feel like I’m constantly doubting myself, knocking my own confidence and damaging my self esteem because I can’t reach to the impossibly high standards that I’m trying to set myself all the while striving to keep that confident façade that I’ve built up as a barrier around me for so long. Impossible goals and unrealistic standards. I’ve had a huge blip this week and I’ve felt like everything that I do or say isn’t right. I feel at the bottom of the pile, surrounded by people who may not have it all but make the most out of what they’ve got, and I can’t do seem to understand why I can’t do it myself. I feel useless, like I’m an after thought, a back up plan, a second choice.

Let's Get Real

Not only in life, but within my blog and creative outlet where I can create images and construct prose that wouldn’t give off any indication of how I feel. A perfect flat lay, a selfie of when my winged eyeliner behaved, a curated and filtered shot of the latest makeup. It’s all so constructed but yet, another barrier to hide behind. I try not to go into too much detail of my life. After all my blog is about makeup and pretty things, and who wants to hear about things that don’t fit in with the niche? I feel like I’ve fallen out of love with my blog at the minute. I’m not happy with the design and layout, but haven’t got the passion to rectify it. I hate my images, yet I can’t be bothered to try and improve them. Maybe because all the blogs I’m reading recently are all to such a high standard that I just feel inferior to the glossy images taken by personal photographers instead of with a camera on a tripod in a mirror. Beautiful destinations that people are jetting off to, a photo crossing a busy road in downtown Manhattan whilst swinging the latest designer bag. Everything feels to such a high standard that I can’t, not that I want to, compete. I just can’t seem to do it.

I try to make myself happy. I do what I want and when I want. I have a great job, great friends and to most people, a great lifestyle. But, when you have this constant drone in your head, it becomes difficult to appreciate things. Mindfulness, hygge, appreciating the smaller things in life is all well and good, but It’s bloody exhausting. Everything is exhausting. Maybe I’m writing this as a cry for help to myself, a memento of just how low I’ve gotten to write a post like this. I doubt I’ll post it. It’ll sit in my drafts as a reminder that I do have somewhere to let it all out instead of bottling it all up. My thoughts and feelings are my demons and until I can stop being so hard on myself, the longer they will stay.

I’ve always spoken my mind, and I’d rather be prided on the fact that I say how I feel than lie to fit societies standards. Unfortunately, people don’t like the truth and would rather live in a sugar coated world. Sure, it works both ways and the cold hard truth, although tough to deal with is harsh and yes, I can see how people don’t like it. But? What you see is what you get. I’d rather be known as the person that says it as it is, than the person who is two faced and loves you to your face but slags you off behind your back. I’m honest, I’m truthful, hell I’m blunt as it comes but you know what – you’ll always know where you stand.

I’m going through some crappy mental health issues right now and this façade is so difficult to keep up with. I want to cry majority of the time, I don’t care about anything or anyone. I have no reason to see a future right now and I’m sick, absolutely sick to death of trying to fit in when I quite clearly don’t. I’ve never been as unhappy in my life and all the fake smiles and fake happiness will never fix this.

A chemical imbalance my doctor calls it. I call it a unreliable, exhausting, weight bearing mind mess and I’m done with it all.

Over and out.

NB – Sometimes we just need to vent and get thoughts and frustrations out. It doesn’t mean that this is the end or that things are too much. It’s about dealing with issues in the best way possible. Of course, The Samaritans are always there if you feel that you are struggling to cope. Call 116 123 from any phone.

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It’s not often that I’m in country, and it’s also not often that I get chance to have a much needed weekend off so I can catch up with everyone who works a Monday to Friday job. One person who I miss dearly as I very rarely get to see her, is my Mum. Grasping an opportunity of a rare Sunday off together, I decided to take her out for dinner at a place where we had both never eaten; Jamie’s Italian in Manchester. Situated at the bottom of Hotel Gotham on King Street, the site is a former bank with beautiful huge windows, exceptionally high ceilings and still features the original vault downstairs.

The restaurant itself is split into a bar area, which not only holds bottles of wines but a huge selection of cured meats, before splitting into the dining area with an upstairs mezzanine. During the day the bar area reminds me slightly of a school canteen with rickety wooden table and a stand of Jamie’s Italian merchandise. Taking time to have a pre-dinner drink, it gave the perfect opportunity to take in the beauty of the interior of the building. Manchester really does have some of the most incredible architecture, and the King Street building is one of top five commercial buildings to be built in Manchester. Previously home to the Midland Bank, designer Luytens has created a majestically stunning building, that would’t be out of place on the streets of New York.

Moving into the dining area, we were seated downstairs rather than on the mezzanine level, which has a more comfortable and cosy atmosphere. I do like to people watch and it was nice to see other Mother and Daughter duos coming in for nibbles and a glass of prosecco. The waiting staff were attentive, and kept check of the table even with a busy turnover, and although the time between courses could have been reduced, it was nice to be able to sit back and have some much needed catching up.

Having never been to Jamie’s Italian before, I was really looking forward to my meal and having previously browsed the menu, I had a fairly clear idea in my head as to what I wanted. Starting with Jamie’s famous planks, we shared the classic meat plank at £6.95 per person. A selection of meats and cheese including Fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata piccante, with mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino & chilli jam, pickles, olives and purple slaw. Personally, for nearly £14 for two of us to share the plank, I don’t think it was a great value for money and although the meats and cheeses were delicious, I think there could have been a bit more to it. That being said, I have never had buffalo mozzarella like the one I had at Jamie’s. It was like cream in the middle; unbelievably melt in the mouth with a soft, smooth flavour.

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Going to a restaurant usually means that I will have a steak and being a creature of habit means that I don’t try anything new these days. It’s very rare that I would choose a pasta main dish, but stepping outside of the norm led to me choosing the Jamie’s Italian Famous Prawn Linguine. Available in two sizes, I went for the larger after asking the advice from the waiter, who insisted it wasn’t a huge bowl. If you can’t hack a large amount of pasta, the smaller bowl will be enough. I couldn’t even finish all of mine, and this girl likes to eat. A vast amount of buttery linguine in a sea of tomato, fennel, saffron and chilli with a substantial amount of garlicky prawns and langoustine tails topped with fresh rocket. I was overfaced with the amount but I made a good dent into it, but the carb coma soon caught up with me. The pasta was quite stodgy in the centre and tasted slightly waterlogged but the spicy tomato sauce offset this with its delightful chilli kick and light consistency, whilst the seafood was juicy without being overpowering.

I’ve always said that there is a special compartment in your stomach and no matter how full you are, there is always room for dessert. The Epic Chocolate Brownie certainly was epic with a generous serving of brownie covered in salted caramel ice cream and caramelised popcorn. I do have a sweet tooth, and this rounded up the meal beautifully. The brownie was perfectly done; crispy chocolate on the outside that melted into a gooey centre, whilst the salted caramel ice cream was mouthwatering. The popcorn tasted slightly stale but we can forgive that as the brownie was so delicious.

For my first visit to Jamie’s Italian, I was relatively pleased with both the service and the food. I do think it’s expensive for what you get which is the only thing that would put me off from going back especially when compared with other food establishments I’ve eaten in recently. Overall, my bill for the two of us including one soft drink each and a bottle of water, with a sharing starter, a main course and a dessert each came to £75 which to me, is an awful lot to spend on a Sunday afternoon. The food was good, but was quite a way away from being of exceptional taste, however I do feel that as a chain restaurant, it does lack the authenticity of going to an independent Italian restaurant. The waiting on staff couldn’t have been anymore helpful, and that alone gives me good reason to revisit, as well as experience the beauty that the restaurant is set in.

* I was provided with a gift card to review the menu at Jamie’s Italian. All opinions are my own.

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Although I’ve lived in my house for numerous years, I’ve always been a bit lax when it comes to decorating. It’s never really been high on my list of priorities, as I’ve been quite happy with the plain magnolia walls and the furnishings within each room. I blame Pinterest mainly, because ever since I’ve been getting inspiration from there, I’ve really started to step back and notice just how much my house could use a lick of paint. When Inspired Wallpapers approached me with a decorating challenge, I gladly accepted. My spare room was going to be updated into a serene and tranquil space where I can take time out to chill, and more importantly, have a space for my blogging paraphernalia which would free up space in the lounge. From simply hanging my chosen wallpaper, I have accessorised and created not only a beautiful space, but one that is ‘so blogger’ that I’ve been inundated with requests where each item is from. So, for all my blush pink, pale grey and copper lovers out there, you can thank me later!

Half of my spare room is taken up by hanging rails packed full of clothes and bookcases stacked with shoes and bags. As it’s a work in progress, I want to update you with this at a later time. Keeping the bed as a focal point, I wanted a comfortable area in which I could laze around and get cosy. How to Hygge has really come into force with the textures and fabrics that I’ve chosen, alongside the lighting and soft furnishing.

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

Sticking with a colour scheme that won’t date, a mixture of greys and pale pinks keep things feminine, with the copper accessories adding a modern twist to an otherwise classic colour scheme. I’m itching to get a day bed for the room but until then, I am keeping my bed which has come with me from my family home. The grey and beech of the bed frame are in keeping with the colour scheme and the rest of the furniture in the bedroom, and a string of rose gold heart fairy lights twisted around the headboard give that extra touch. For ultimate cosiness, brushed cotton is my favourite. Not only does it feel amazing but it’s so warm. This Collection Brushed Cotton Single set in Blush Pink was only £12.99 from Argos. Using different shades of grey, I’ve added a Heart of Home at Argos Single fitted sheet in Dove Grey, and dark grey pillowcases from Primark. A pair of lined curtains in charcoal grey finish off the essential bedroom items.

To dress the bed, a grey sherpa throw £5, and a cream heart shaped cushion from Primark caught my eye as soon as I saw them. Primark Home has some really gorgeous things in at the moment, and I find myself popping in quite frequently to see what’s new on the shelves. They have a huge selection of accessories and fairy lights as well as the blogger favourite trinket dishes, ring holders and cacti in copper pots. What I have loved the most about creating a new space, is finding some really fantastic homeware websites. Rooi; a luxury living website has been the source for the most gorgeous faux Mongolian Fur Cushions in pink and grey*, at a really reasonable price of £24.95 per cushion. The faux Mongolian fur is almost like the real thing, whilst the cushions are plump and feel great to snuggle up into.

No bedroom is complete without a bedside table and when I spotted this amazing copper geometric framed table with wooden top from Maisons Du Monde, I knew it would complement everything in the room whilst giving a modern edge. The ZigZag table is only £26.99 but shipping is £7 as it comes over from France. I would advise to have a good browse and see if there is anything else that you need as now I’m kicking myself for not getting a few accessories that I wanted, and I totally object to spending £7 on shipping. For the bedside table, accessories such as potted plants and vases, light up decorations and trinket plates have been sourced from Homesense, Primark, B&M Bargains and New Look. With items like these, going into store is ideal as they rarely show up on the website, especially with places like Homesense which has such a high turnover of stock that it’s like an Aladdin’s Cave.

Two of my favourite pieces in the revamped room both happen to be lighting; a bedside table and a ceiling light. At the moment, both items are showing as out of stock, but it’s worthwhile checking back frequently as I did get them very recently. The Iconic Lights Industrial Talisman Lamp with marble base, £20, is every bloggers dream. It seems that Aldi released this lamp prior to Christmas and every one has gone mad for it. Since buying this last week, I have been asked so many times as to where it’s from as it’s so photogenic and fits perfectly into the the colour scheme of the room. The Rustic Globe Bulb, £6 is from Wilko, and complements it beautifully. For the ceiling light, I fell in love with the Wilko Copper Cage Pendant, £12. I wasn’t intending to get this but when I saw it in real life, it looks so expensive and gives that bijoux New York loft feel, especially when combined with another one of the Rustic Bulbs from Wilko.

All in all, I’ve redecorated and dressed a room for under £200, included lighting and made it into such a beautiful space. I keep finding myself coming into the room just to sit amongst the cushions, so I am utilising the whole space as a dedicated blogging space/wardrobe.

*Contains PR Samples

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Do you ever just stop and think ‘woah, where am I heading in life’? It’s becoming more and more frequent for me at the moment, and sometimes I just need to let it all out and get some much needed head space. I’ve taken four weeks off my blog. My blog that I have carefully curated and nurtured for nearly four years. After Christmas, where I was under immense pressure to get so many products featured, I knew that taking some time out would be good for me, and my mental state. No pressure, no stress, no crying into my pillow because I had a deadline I didn’t think that I was going to meet because I’d been called out. It’s been pure bliss to have this head space and to be able to breathe. Life is really too short to stress, so 2017 is going to be YOLO. Or, ROLO if I carry on eating sweets like am doing. You only live once. Yes, you do. Facing each moment head on, tackling those things that haven’t made me happy, and changing things in my life to suit me and not others. Being spontaneous and a little bit crazy, grabbing life by the balls. If I want it, get it – I work hard enough to justify it.

You Only Live Once Anoushka Loves

You Only Live Once Anoushka Loves

My goal for 2017 is to create a happy space around me, and first on the list is updating my home. I’ve lived here for nine years now and although I love it, I needs a juhz and a lick of paint. I’m a single gal, but you know what – I can decorate, I can paint, I can gloss and I can wallpaper. With some help of course, but I can do it. My first project has been my spare room which is well on it’s way to becoming a tranquil space of blush pink, pale grey and copper hues that is giving me deep joy every time I walk past it. The next on my list is the lounge. Again, fresh paint and some fancy wallpaper will make all the difference, and I’m so tempted to splash out on a fancy Panasonic 4K TV because I deserve it.

Spontaneity is heading up high on my list of goals. I need to turn ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’. So many times have I stayed in, inside the comfort of my home and then backed out of events and meet ups because a small attack of social anxiety hits me, or I decide that it’s too cold outside. I am full of excuses and I need to stop it. It’s the year of the yes, and yes I am doing it. What is spontaneity? Does booking a flight to the other side of the world, on your own, class as being spontaneous? Well, I think so. Nervous as hell, doubting myself to the max yet feeling proud as punch that I’ve arranged flights, hotels, transfers and spending money for Sephora in just a few months. If I can do this, I can do anything.

Rather than having target based goals to achieve, my ultimate goal in life is to be happy. After struggling with mental health for several months, I’m finally in a place where I can step back and take stock of the situation and deal with things appropriately rather than sweating the small stuff. Being of a logical mind, analysing every little thing was creating problems rather than solutions and i’m not one to shrug things off with a f*ck it kind of outlook, so instead I am to not carry the world on my shoulders. It’s not worth it.

You only live once can be misconstrued into thinking that a wild and hedonistic lifestyle is the way forward, but to me it’s more about taking what life has to throw at you and turning it into something special. Follow your dreams, and what your heart is telling you, but still making sensible decisions in your head. Don’t be afraid, be brave. Earn it and spend it how you like, it’s yours. Stop justifying why you can’t, and embrace why you can. Staying in because it’s cold? Wrap up warm and stop being soft. I, as an adult, still have a lot to learn, but I will get there. I have to, because you only live once. Make it a great one.

*Sponsored Post

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Living in Manchester has it’s advantages. It’s a big city with an extraordinary amount of bars and restaurants, with new eateries popping up left, right and centre. Although I like to try new places, I always find myself back in my favourite haunts. One of those places happens to be Artisan, located in Spinningfields, Manchester. A thriving and bustling area, filled with high end luxury shops and some fabulous places to grab a cocktail or four, Spinningfields is the area to be in when heading out. Artisan opened in 2013, within a 12,000 sq ft industrial space. Bare brick walls, and a laid back vibe, it’s cosy and comfortable with no element of pretentiousness. Warm and welcoming, artwork covers the stripped back walls, whilst you dine in front of two wood burning ovens that take centre stage. I called in for a catch up with a friend last week and took full advantage of the new menu.

Seated by the window, I relaxed into a plump cushion whilst perusing the menu. Traditional English fayre, handmade rustic dishes and food served straight from the fire. Whilst deciding on food, we nibbled on olives and crispy kale, which was absolutely delicious. Sipping on raspberry lemonade, the conversation was flowing, whilst our very attentive waiter Greg ensured our experience was to the highest standard.

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

I delved into a classic starter of chicken liver and rum paté with golden raisins and chia seed butter. Served with thick slices of toasted granary bread, it was comforting and filling. The flavours of the paté danced on my tongue, whilst it’s smoothness complimented the rough texture of the toast. A beetroot salad intensified the flavours, with its sharp yet vibrant tartness. Steph chose the prosciutto and watermelon salad with a beetroot dressing, that looked really fresh and mouthwatering.

Artisan is famous for it’s wood burning ovens so it was natural that I was to choose something straight from the flame. Handmade flatbread topped with beetroot, avocado and Gorgonzola jumped straight off the menu. I do have a bit of an obsession with avocados and I may indulge in them rather frequently, but they are good for you. As avocados are quite bland, the robust and aromatic flavours of the Gorgonzola melted perfectly together, with just the perfect amount of sweetness from the beetroot. Popular with everyone, a bowl of sweet potato fries accompanied my flatbread. The paprika salt which coated the fries gave them a warming and slightly spicy finish. A casear salad with poached salmon was the meal of choice for Steph, and I would almost certainly order this for myself next time.

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Unbelievably, we managed to fit in dessert and I was really tempted by the chocolate brownie but at the last minute, I changed my mind for the pistachio meringue filled with lemon Chantilly cream. Decorated with rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate, I definitely made the right choice. The sweetness of the strawberries were offset against the tartness of the the rhubarb and light zest of the lemon cream, whilst the pomegranate and pistaschio flavours, although subtle, worked really well together. As the meringue was so sweet, the tangy bursts of pomegranate popped in the mouth. It was simply divine. Steph chose the classic lemon posset, which looked extremely indulgent.

If you are heading into Manchester this weekend, I really do recommend that you head to Artisan, whether it be for a cocktail at the 20ft long bar or to indulge in some beautiful food. With reasonable prices, a casual yet trendy setting and right in the heart of Manchester, Artisan is in the ideal location for a mid shop stop. You can find Artisan on The Avenue North of Spinningfields.

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*Meal provided FOC however all opinions are my own.

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It seems that this year it’s all about blending and juicing, and with the amount of products on the market, it’s a bit of a minefield when looking for a gadget that gives you what you need. Having toyed with the idea of getting the most out of my fresh fruit and veg, I didn’t really know which route to go down, and my browsing history was awash with searches for the best blender, smoothie maker and juicer. Having limited storage space in my kitchen was also something to keep in mind and I found a lot of the units were bulky. I was totally stuck. From my needs, I found that a juicer was best suited and the new Panasonic Slow Juicer MJ-L500 had recently been released to the market. A juicer that not only made juices, but came with the option to make frozen desserts. As my vegetable intake was far higher than my fruit intake, I thought I’d be able to make use of a juicer, more than a blender.

Panasonic Slow Juicer

Panasonic Slow Juicer

Panasonic Slow Juicer

Panasonic Slow Juicer

Panasonic Slow Juicer

Panasonic Slow Juicer

The Panasonic Slow Juicer is quite a heavy unit, with several parts that slot together to build the juicer. Opening the box on the first day that I received it, I was almost unsure that I would be able to put it together, yet it was extremely easy. It’s quite a compact unit when assembled, which helps with my lack of space, and it breaks down into easy to store sections.

The juicer works by using a centrifugal juicer which crushes the fruit and veg slowly to release the most amount of juice, and keeping a higher amount of vitamins and minerals compared to those juicers which masticate the fruit. The fruit goes into the top of the juicer, the unit quietly crushes the fruit and sends the pulp out of the waste outlet, whilst fresh, rich juice trickles into the container. It’s quite interesting to see just how little waste comes from the fruit, yet all the bits that you wouldn’t want in the juice get removed.

For this post, I made a berry based juice. I added apples, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries which were heading towards their end of their days into the juicer, and watched how it pulped out all the seeds, pips and other bits into the waste container, leaving me with a thick and rich juice. It was so thick that it reminded me of a smoothie rather than a juice.

Breaking the unit down to clean it was a job that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to, but the device comes with a handy toothbrush style brush to ensure all bits are removed from the juicer and the outlets. Sometimes, having something that is difficult to clean, it puts you off future use, however the juicer has been frequently used.

Being dairy free, I have also found a new found love for fruit sorbet and the Panasonic Slow Juicer has been a god send in this weather. I’ve been cheating with pre-frozen fruits, which I usually use for my overnight oats, yet if I was to be on the ball, I’d simply chop my chosen fruits, freeze them and use the frozen attachment and function for fresh and tasty sorbet.

The addiction to fresh fruit juice is becoming quite apparent and as I live locally to a Farmers market, I’ve been buying more fruity that I ever have before, just to make fresh juice. My fruit intake is up and I can really tell the difference from my fresh juice compared to buying pre packaged fruit juice in cartons.

I love my juicer, and I look forward to creating new fresh recipes and sitting on the couch with a bowl of freshly made sorbet. Heavenly.

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*Juicer provided by Come Round

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I wouldn’t usually dedicate a blog post to something like hand soaps but when I first saw these colourful Carex soaps on a friends Instagram, I was very intrigued. Usually, I buy all my hand soaps from Bath and Body Works in the USA and I love the different fragrances that they have to offer, but finding a collection of hand soaps that are all intended to smell like childhood favourite sweets is just amazing. Carex, the home of hand wash have created Fun Editions; five soaps that all smell like sweets and they smell good enough to eat.

Carex Fun Editions

Carex Fun Editions

Carex Fun Editions

When my parcel of Carex Fun Editions arrived, I couldn’t resist opening them, just to see how they smelt. Whilst sat in my neighbours house, we all had a good sniff and excitedly started reminiscing about days gone by and the conversation littered with ‘it smells so good’. I have three of the scents; Bubblegum, Strawberry Laces and the new Love Hearts. Out of the three, Strawberry Laces in my favourite scent, with Bubblegum evoking the most memories. The new Love Hearts scented soap is actually the nicest of the three, when used to wash hands. The scent isn’t too overpowering like the other two and my hands feel so clean and moisturised, without being dried out.

Carex is well known across family homes for removing dirt and killing 99.9% of bacteria. As it’s dermatologically tested, it’s suitable for all the family to keep skin soft and clean. I’ve started to decant my soap into little bottles to take to work with me, because I find the hand soap at work to be really harsh and drying on my skin and I need to keep my hands clean all of the time. I’ve also been using these handy anti-bacterial hand sanitisers and Strawberry Laces wipes for those times where I’m not near a sink. Handy to keep in my bag, or pocket of my work uniform, on the go hand washing is easy.

I do like love it when everything is clean and sparkling, especially now keeping clean smells like my childhood. Thanks Carex!

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Beauty_Blogger_Awards_logo_2016_v2

*Contains PR Samples

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Every month I am receipt of one or two beauty subscription boxes, most noticeably Birchbox and Cohorted. I love the suspense of seeing what is in each box, and the thrill of finding new products that I may not have tried before. Each subscription box is made for each and every person who has an interest in beauty. Type The Hype have come up with a clever little box, which is made exclusively for the bloggers that they work with. If you haven’t heard of Type The Hype before and you are a blogger, then you must sign up. Type The Hype bring big brands such as Elemis, Bliss and Chi Chi London to us bloggers and are basically a middle man to create a working relationship with each brand. The Type The Hype Bloggers Box has been created exclusively for bloggers and packed full of goodies from brands that they work with.

Since receiving my box, I have been very hands on. Not only have I been pleasantly surprised by the contents but I have also, in true blogger style, reviewing and trying out the services and items in the box. In terms of actual products, I received four beauty products; two sample sizes, and two full size items. A new brand to me is Minty Coco, a brand that specialises in handy sachets for oil pulling. Of course, I went straight to the bathroom to give them a try. With three sachets, that contain enough oil for one use, I started off small and tried half a sachet that had been warmed up in my hand. Oil pulling is a very unique concept. Using the oil, you are to swill it around your mouth each day for at least twenty minutes. The process is designed to draw all the impurities out that stain teeth, leaving your smile looking pearly white. My teeth aren’t particularly stained as it is but I like to give things a try and see what I thought. The first try of Minty Coco and I literally gagged. It’s very strange to have oil in your mouth that is being swished around without swallowing it. It’s also a very weird sensation that made my jaw feel achey. Perseverance is the key, and I feel that my mouth felt fresher. I haven’t seen any improvement on the shade of my teeth with the use of the three sachets but I wouldn’t be put off from trying it again.

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

Type The Hype Bloggers Box

The sample size products include a Kerastase shampoo and a Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Eye Gel. As they are samples, they aren’t big enough to review in detail but the shampoo made my hair feel incredibly soft after washing and as I have used the Bliss face wash before, I know how good the range is so I would be really tempted to buy a full size eye gel.

The Elemis Smart Cleanse Micellar Water has become a standard part of my cleansing routine. At £24 a bottle, it isn’t cheap but it is ultra effective at removing eye make up before I cleanse my face properly. Not only is it brilliant as eye make up removal, the handy pump is great for touching up any make up mishaps, as well as a quick freshen up of an evening when make up wear is minimal. Although it can be used as a cleanser for your whole face, I do find that a full cleanse with a cream cleanser is better for the skin as the Elemis does leave skin feeling slightly tacky. A great addition to the box, it really does shift eye make up in an instant. I also love the addition of a 20% off voucher in the box for my next Elemis purchase.

As well as beauty products in the box, there was a gift voucher for £10 off at Treatwell. I am obsessed with Treatwell and I book all my beauty treatments online using the Treatwell app. My nails were due a new set, so after booking at my local salon, and using my special code, I got a full set of nails for nearly nothing. Treatwell, formerly Wahanda, searches local salons in the area for specific treatments that you are looking for. Gone are the days of having to search for a salon and ringing someone up to book an appointment. There was also a Treatwell emery board in the box so I can keep my nails in tip top shape in between appointments. I also spotted this cute little Jones + Jones nail file set in the box, which has swiftly been put in my handbag. Featuring a nail file, smoother and buffer, this will come so in handy if I get any snags or need to smooth down rough edges whilst i’m out.

I’m starting a healthy journey in the bid to lose weight and tone up and this £10 voucher for Results With Lucy will really help me on my way. Results With Lucy has been taking the world by storm with lady friendly HIIT sessions and exercise sessions to complete in the comfort of my own home. The plans start at £39 so the £10 voucher will come in handy with a beginner session. I hope that I get to update you on my journey soon.

I’ve heard a lot about Shoe Licks, the innovative way to pimp your heels using a foiled or patterned piece of sticky backed plastic. I did want to show you a before and after of a pair of pimped up heels but I found them really difficult to use and didn’t manage to complete my shoes. Such a shame really as they are a really good idea to update a pair of shoes. The idea is that the back if the shoe that has a great pattern or colour when you walk instead of a plain colour. I may have to try these out again and see if I can do them properly.

Finally, one of the items that I was really excited to see was a blog planner notebook. This week to a page notepad helps you plan out posts using the week tracker then has a to-do list of things that you can check off such as social media promotion, seo and analytics. Very clever and also very useful.

This Blogger friendly box from Type The Hype is such a good idea to try out the brands that you could be potentially working with in the future and I’m really impressed with the contents. It’s a lot more developed than other subscription boxes in that it thinks of things that we want to use, like the notebook and urges you to try new services and products with the discount vouchers. I’m really pleased that I had chance to try the box so it’s a huge thank you to Type The Hype for letting me get involved.

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As an air hostess, people often ask me just how do I keep my skin hydrated with all the flights I do, and what are the best products to take on board a flight to keep themselves feeling human after a transatlantic journey. The answer may change depending on who you ask, yet for me it’s simple. Moisture, moisture, moisture. I’m going to take you on a journey today. A journey of my can’t live without, most wanted and holy grail items that I use l whilst at work and whilst travelling to keep optimum skin hydration.

My number one item to keep your skin and body hydrated is of course water. I try to drink three litres a day, every day. It may seem like a huge amount but when you can visibly see the difference that water makes to your skin and body, you’ll be a convert. Try adding fresh ginger and lemon to a bottle, or even infuse water at home. My favourites are cucumber, mint and lemon infusions and raspberry and blackberry using fresh fruit. Whilst at work, I use a sugar free flavouring to help that last litre go down. The benefits on my skin are very apparent. My skin looks plumped up, fresh and healthy. I feel energised from not having sugar and in general I feel awake and alert.

The Air Hostesses Guide to Skin Hydration

The Air Hostesses Guide to Skin Hydration

The Air Hostesses Guide to Skin Hydration

The Air Hostesses Guide to Skin Hydration

Flying can take its toll on your skin, and working in an environment where dirt and pollution is high, my ‘at home’ skincare routine is in depth. I remove all my make up post flight with a cream cleanser, followed by a cleansing oil to rid my skin of any impurities. For the last ten years I have been using products by Estée Lauder; Micro Essence, Advanced Night Repair and Revitalizing Supreme moisturiser. Each product is very rich, and gives my skin the nourishment that it needs whilst helping fight the toxins from the pollution and helping to battle signs of ageing. This is where seven hours of sleep also helps!

Every morning before work, after cleansing, I quench my face with a hydrating toner like the Jurlique Rose Water Toner before applying my favourite Perricone MD Hyalo Plasma cream. The hyaluronic acid within the gel cream retains moisture in the skin and also leaves skin feeling like glass. It’s great to apply makeup over to give a flawless finish.

Treats for the skin include twice weekly exfoliation using Origins Original Skin Clay Mask and these handy one use face mask pods from Nügg Beauty.

Whilst on board an aircraft, I have four key products in my liquids bag which I use daily. A facial spritz from Kiehls, Elizabeth Arden 8 hour hand cream, NUXE Lip balm and eye drops. When my skin is feeling parched and in need of refreshment, without ruining my make up, the Kiehls In Flight spray is perfect. The lavender and geranium scent is soothing and calming not only on the skin but for the mental state. A good lip balm helps keep lips feeling supple and wearing matte lipstick isn’t an issue if lips feel smooth and hydrated. As I’m constantly prepping my skin, I try not to forget my eyes and keep them lubricated using drops. They’re a must for contact lens wearer. Finally, a good hand cream is necessary. Dry air, harsh washroom soaps and manual labour on board means hands get the brunt of the job. A good cream brings back that bit of luxury we need.

These products are my old faithful items that have been discovered throughout my flying career, and ones that I hope will continue into the future. As long as your skin is getting the moisture it needs, you will stay hydrated. Look for products that are rich and nourishing for post flight, soothing and refreshing for mid-flight and packed with hyaluronic acid for an extra boost.

You can find my top tips for travelling on the MYA Blog – why not take a look.

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Sometimes, something just has to give and when life is getting in the way, it’s time to take a step back. Although my blog is an outlet to share everything I love about make up and beauty, it’s also an outlet to talk about the real life stuff. I have been struggling lately, struggling in a way that sometimes I just can’t explain how I’m feeling. Run down and tired, tired from work and tired from life in general. My health isn’t at its optimum right now, and although I can pin point what is going on with my fatigue, rectifying it isn’t as easy. I work full time and when I’m firing on all cylinders, I am blogging my thoughts on a daily basis. My blog is an escape mechanism and I love seeing my posts going live and receiving the reception that they do. But, my life isn’t that perfect blogger led life, in fact it’s far from it. Social media makes it so easy to manipulate the life that people think I lead, and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s hard to keep it up.

Mindfulness  Dani DiPirro Gratitude Living in the Moment book (1)

Mindfulness  Dani DiPirro Gratitude Living in the Moment book (1)

Mindfulness  Dani DiPirro Gratitude Living in the Moment book (1)

Mindfulness Dani DiPirro Gratitude Living in the Moment book

My health is my main concern right now, and although things have become easier over the last few weeks, I have been having a tough time with my mental health. With a history of depression and anxiety running through my family, it has been inevitable that things will affect my own mental state, and it has needed to be addressed. Having a good chat with my doctor, she recommended an alternative approach to the medication that would just numb the thoughts and feelings.

I have to take the bull by the horns. I need to realise, in my head, that nothing is as bad as what I think it is. I’ve been quite open about it to my closest friends and family, I’ve even shared my thoughts and feelings on Snapchat for the world to see, but what I haven’t shared is how I am using mindfulness techniques to help combat my issues and bring my mental state to back to how it should be.

It’s a vicious circle when it comes to battling tiredness and fatigue. My B12 deficiency is playing havoc with my body right now. All I want to do is sleep, and I’m forever feeling tired. Nothing can change how tired I’m feeling and of course that causes issues with how I feel. Even though it would just be easier to throw the towel in and fall asleep whenever I’m tired, I have to keep myself awake and use proper relaxation techniques to wind down. Not only does this help with getting quality sleep rather than a stint of 12 hours, it keeps me mindful.

Mindfulness. A term which often gets bandied around, but what does it really mean? Mindfulness is a state in which you are aware of your surroundings, focusing on the present moment whilst acknowledging and accepting your own thoughts and feelings. A therapeutic way to really understand your conscious and to enable you to pinpoint the base of the issues. It’s natural for people to get stressed and feel anxious but when these feelings make you a different person, it’s time to combat them. I cannot pinpoint where the stress comes from, I can’t understand why I get so anxious that it leads me to having panic attacks and I cannot understand why I get into states of feeling so low that I can’t pull myself out of it. To the outside, I am a bubbly person, with a great job and a blog that brings me opportunities that I would never be able to do normally. So, why would I be depressed and anxious? I ask myself this every single day.

There are so many books out there that fall into the category of ‘self help’ but what I really need is to be inspired. I’ve found two books by Dani DiPirro which are designed to help focus on what is really important in life. Living In The Moment and Gratitude are the first two books from DiPirro, which will eventually be part of a full series. DiPirro, a life coach, has been featured on The Happiness Project, Psychology Today and Forbes with her work on the power of positive thinking and helping others live more happily. In each book, a collection of inspirational quotes, bring that power of positive thinking to the forefront of my mind and I read each quote and focus on what is happening in front of me, rather than dwelling on what my mind is constructing. Each day I find a relevant quote and slowly, they have helped make me feel more relaxed, and a lot more balanced. It’s quite amazing how simple mindfulness as a technique is.

From there, I have taken time each day to have an hour where I relax. Soothing music, jotting down notes in my positivity journal and even spending time working on my grown up colouring book have all helped in bringing my sky high thoughts back to the ground where I can work on each thought logically and like an adult.

Mental health is a very touchy subject and what works for one may not work for another. For the three years of having my little corner of the internet, it is a subject that I have never even touched on, mainly due to not wanting to share but also because it seems like such a common issue that it’s almost like it’s taken for granted. This is probably the only time I will talk about it, and hell I may not even publish this post but just talking about it makes me realise that I am strong, and I can do this.

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A woman’s work is never done, and in between unpacking, cleaning and general household chores, I rarely get the time to enjoy my much needed days off. I am a woman on a mission, and that mission is to find items that reduce the length of time that I spend on household jobs. A helping hand around the house is one – believe me, you need one too. And then, there’s the ever growing ironing pile. A job that is never as bad as it seems, when you start cutting into the pile, but the thought of doing it makes you feel ill. My life has been changed with the Morphy Richards Atomist Iron, the newest innovation in tackling the laundry pile with its vapour mist technology.

I have never owned an iron like this, and over my adult lifetime of living solo, I have spent a grand total of £20 on one iron that did the job. Or so I thought. When it comes to ironing, the only things that I take my time with are my work uniform pieces. Everything else usually gets a quick rub over so it’s presentable. Can you imagine having an iron that not only gives a quick rub over but leaves clothes looking steamed yet with no pressure or over exertion on your part. It’s quite amazing. The Morphy Richards Atomist Iron is simply amazing, so I feel I should get technical as to why.

Morphy Richards Atomist Iron

Morphy Richards Atomist Iron

Morphy Richards Atomist Iron

Morphy Richards Atomist Iron

The Atomist uses vapour mist technology for ultimate crease removal. The iron unit is quite large, and contains a water tank as well as the resting plate for the iron. It looks incredibly futuristic with the iron being practically see through and using a thermoglass soleplate that not only heats up quickly but helps to glide across clothes with ease. Rather than using steam and spraying methods like traditional irons, the misting spray penetrates through clothes quickly, reducing ironing time as creases are removed in seconds. There are several heat settings for various fabrics and they do heat up very quickly – I almost scorched a top on the first use! Although the unit is quite large, storage is easy and the cords can be inserted into the base unit to save space.

I’ve never looked forward to doing my ironing, and now I am making light work of my ironing pile. There’s nothing better than putting on a good film, making a brew and sailing through the laundry at a rate of knots. Armed with my spray starch and ironing water, I’m actually looking forward to my afternoon of ironing. Who knew!

The Morphy Richards Atomist Iron is on special offer at Debenhams with 20% off its original retail price.

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