Wednesday 16 September 2020

Holiday Reads

Queenie is a book focused on a young woman trying to live her life and page her career in journalism. It discusses her prejudices towards her race and her struggles with modern day relationships. She has a lot of challenges in her love life and work life, and I was engrossed in her story. Queenie is a strong, out-going character who strives to overcome all obstacles which may face her.

The prison doctor follows Dr Brown as she tells her insight into being the duty doctor inside Britain's biggest female-only prison. She helps women who have and are facing many battles such as drug and drink addictions as well as abuse. Prison can be a place of shelter and a place away from harm for many and somewhere to recuperate. It is a real eye-opening book as it delves into the different stories of women and how they are trying to create a new start from themselves on the outside. 

An almost perfect holiday follows Em, Maggie and Olivia all in dire-need of a break. They all find themselves in a little village of holiday cottages which shares an outdoor pool. They end up chatting and opening up about their own reasons for escapism to the countryside. The story line is engaging and moves at a good pace with lots of unexpected additions to the characters. There is lots of drama as well as laughter and different secrets along the way, however all in all the women are brought together in a very unexpected friendship develops.

The little book cafe follows three women - Tash, Emma and Amy who are all in need of a break from work. They all live in a small village and build their friendship around the book club at the local cafe. Their love of books and cake brings people from the community together. It is three short novels who follow the three main girls on their own adventures and relationship turbulent along the way. 

One stop is a lovely book written by fellow blogger Laura Jane Williams.  Daniel notices Nadia whilst on his commute to work and writes an advert on the local newspaper. After weeks and weeks of missing each other on their daily commute, they finally reach out to each other and arrange a death. The recent death of Daniel's father means he is called away by his mother in a moment's notice and Nadia turns up thinking she has been stood up. She is 

Someone we know is a great novel by Shari Lapena who also wrote the couple next door which I reviewed previously. In this book a teenage boy starts to break into houses within his neighbourhood which is all fun and games until his mum finds out. Then a local woman is founded murdered and as the whole community tries to discover who was involved and in what way. This was favourite book that I read on my holiday I was gripped from start to finish. The twists and turns had me gripped and I was totally engrossed page to page. 


Sunday 24 May 2020

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer

I have been meaning to put up a review of this Fenty Beauty primer for so long. I have had it for over a year so I can definitely say I have put it to the test. Everything which I tried from Fenty Beauty so far I have loved. I opted for the pro filt'r hydrating primer as I have dry skin. This is advertised to target dry patches on the skin. It has a lightweight texture which I love as it feels really thin when you apply it to the face. I don't usually opt for thicker primers as I feel as though they often sit heavy on my skin. This acts as a really good addition on top of my moisturiser and blends together effortlessly. The selling point to this primer is that it creates a "filter-like blurring effect" to the skin.

This product contains grape seed oil and sodium hyaluronate which are brilliant for hydrating all skin types. It feels silky smooth and fresh which is exactly what my skin needs. This bright and lovely weather which we have had for the past few weeks has been such a pleasant surprise. But, it has left my skin uber dry. I am yet to treat myself to the Fenty foundation it is on my treats list. However, I have tried the concealer and I really love it (I reviewed it if you fancy a read).

It isn't cheap at £24 I got it as a present, I am not sure I would rush out to buy it again. I think I am basing that view solely on the price tag. I have really enjoyed using this. From testing many primers over the years I have learnt that I much prefer a cream over a gel consistency. Cream primers just seem to sit and mesh with my skin so much better. They also sell this in a mattifying version if your skin sits more on the oily side. Overall, I do really like this primer from Rihanna's Fenty Beauty range and if you're wanting to treat yourself you won't be disappointed.


Wednesday 13 May 2020

Happily Ever Headbands

Back in February my sister and I decided to create a headband business called Happily Ever Headbands. It had been an idea which we had early last year on our first visit to Disneyland Paris. We wanted something different to the classic ears, and wherever we searched we couldn't find what we were looking for. Therefore, we decided there was a gap in the market for what we wanted to make. We have been making lots for friends and family. We have lots of Disney inspired headbands which are personalised to whatever the customer may like. We originally made one for each princess or theme. Since then we have had lots of requests for many different headbands inspired by a variety of different movies which we have loved making.

We have since branched out into simpler headbands which can be worn on a more everyday basis. This has included the use of gems and pearls in a variety of different patterns, which has opened a whole new scope to our designs. We have made many styles which a customer can simply opt as it comes, but we love for people to get their creative juices flowing and allow any changes to an original design in any way which they prefer.

The pricing of the headbands are all headbands with a thicker band are £6.50 and all thinner bands £6.00. We then add on a standard fee of £1.50 for 2nd class postage.

We cannot wait until we can go to Walt Disney World and take lots of photos of our designs. We absolutely love receiving pictures of our customers wearing and loving their designs. If you want to see any of our creations then the best place to find everything is on our Instagram page - Happilyeverheadbands. If you have any enquiries about purchasing a headbands you can direct message the Instagram page or email us on

Thanks for the continuous support


Wednesday 6 May 2020

Beauty Bay's Thirst Trip Rich Moisturiser

Since the start of the winter this year my skin has been super dry. When you've had combination skin for years after have an oily t-zone and acne, adapting your skincare routine takes a while. I was on the lookout for a new every day moisturiser as my holy grail from Kiehl's had ran out. I am not really a sucker normally for clicking through links from my emails, but I received an email from BeautyBay about their new skincare range and I instantly clicked the link. I was intrigued by their Thirst Trip Rich Moisturiser as I always need something that adds some hydration in to my skin. This contains oat lipids which contain ceradmides, research tells me that these help to retain moisture but not clog the pores of the skin. I am happy to report that I have been using this pretty much every morning for two months and it's a really good skincare product. Although the consistency is rich and thick, it has a light texture which easily soaks into the skin. I can feel that it has actually done something to my skin and it gives my complexion some life and a little glow.

I have enjoyed using this cream as it does what it says on the packaging. It is a no frills product, with not a lot of ingredients which I think is sometimes for the best. For just £7 I think this is a steal for 90ml of product. I think this is fine for normal and dry skin, I would not have used this when I had oily skin. This has enticed me to try further from their range as they have so many great products on offer and all ranging from £6.


Sunday 26 April 2020

Netflix Picks #5

So lockdown has sent me into a deep spiral of endless Netflix. Everyone is finding a way to get through this unique time.

Love is Blind was released just as lockdown started and it was perfect to binge watch. I love trashy reality tv and this did not disappoint. It is a new way of dating, but it is very unrealistic, however it is an interesting watch. Contestants are put into 'pods' where they can only hear  and speak to potential dates through the pod. They then have to try and decide who they have a connection with. When they are sure they have found the one, they then propose and they finally get to meet in real life for the first time. After this, they are whisked away to Mexico to get to know each other more, and see whether they can really work as the ultimatum is at the end of the series they will decide whether to get married or not. There is a lot of drama and the wedding days are full of surprises.

Too Hot to Handle is also a dating show. A number of the hottest people get put together thinking they are on a retreat, however they are really there to resist temptations to win money. It is revealed to them that they have potentially 100,000 dollars to win. Every time any couple choose to physically make contact they will loose money. The aim of the show is all about building a real connection. It is full of scandals and twists and turns. They will definitely be bringing a second series of this out.

I absolutely loved Cheersquad which I wrote about in an earlier Netflix picks post. They have brought out Cheer which is about a college school called Navarro which is known for being very successful. It follows the team as they try and balance college life with cheer. They are essentially competing to win the national competition. It really highlights just how much work goes into being a cheerleader, and the amount of time and risk it goes into being the best. You see their journey to get to nationals and find out whether they manage to win or not.

Next in Fashion was something which I had on my to-watch list for ages. Hosted by Tan France and Alexa Chung, it has vibes of Project Runway but it has its own twists which I really enjoyed. It takes contestants from around the world, and they compete in weekly challenges to create clothing to represent each weeks theme. They then hold a runway show and judges decide who they want to take through to next week. I really loved this, I was fascinated at watching how to take things from nothing to a beautiful creation. I instantly text my best friend who works in fashion to ask her to teach me how to sew! Maybe I should add that to my lockdown to-do list.

The Trails of Gabriel Fernandez is an eye-opening and tear-jerking series all about a young boy called Gabriel who is essentially beaten to death. The series follows the police as they investigate what happened, whilst highlighting the flaws within the social services department. His older siblings open up about the torture and violence which existed within the family dynamic. It follows the trials and verdicts for sentencing for those identified as his killers. Before I worked in my profession I was blind sighted to what actually goes on in terms of child abuse. I cried watching this as it definitely has harrowing parts to it.


Sunday 5 April 2020

18 months Post Roaccutane

I cannot believe that it has now been 18 months since I finished roaccutane. After being on it was over 8 months it pretty much consumed the whole of my 2018. However, it was the best thing I have ever done for myself, and that is no exaggeration. I sometimes forget just how bad my skin was. When you are living with it in the moment, life just goes by and you learn not to let it bother you. It was a big risk, and it was difficult at times. In all honesty, after the process had finished I was absolutely terrified that in a matter of weeks my skin would return to its previous spotty self. I have not had any cystic breakouts since I have come off it. My skin used to be the worst around my time of the month when my skin would rage. I have had a few minimal pesky red spots around my chin area but nothing which a little bit of concealer can't handle.

In all honesty whilst the process was happening I always had an end goal. I did not anticipate how I would feel in the pending months after it had all finished. In March 2019, I went for a three month follow up appointment with my dermatologist. He was really happy with my skin, and said that if I was going to have a major outbreak it would have hopefully have happened by now. I am still a little dubious every day that I will wake up and my skin will have to started to erupt. It is like anything in life, you learn to live with things. Having acne is what sprouted my love of makeup and the start of this blog. I saw all these girls with perfect skin and there was no one I could really relate to at the time except Em Ford (mypaleskin). She has been on her own battle with acne for years and I could relate to her so much. My favourite part of being acne free is in that in the summer I now leave the house with nothing on my skin. Previously when it was hot even though I had grown a lot with my self-confidence, I always put some concealer or foundation on before stepping out the door. I think as you grow into your 20's and people realise it is no longer just teenage acne, people are genuinely confused by the idea of adult acne.

One of my friends who has had her own health battles said she didn't know me pre acne treatment. I said I'd show her a picture when it was at its worst and I was just starting my treatment. I found it very strange showing her those pictures as it was a distant memory. I felt as though all those years which I battled with my acne had just disappeared. It has definitely changed my life for the better. I know people have much worse health conditions, and I very much accepted in the end it was just some spots on my face. I count my blessings that all it took was some medication to get mine sorted and that some people don't respond to roaccutane at all. I think as I am a success story I would always recommend it, but before I went on it I did a lot of research and my dermatologist laid out in black and white the high chances of some of the side effects. I had had this acne since 13, so 10 years on it was just an experiment for me as my dermatologist had said it was time to try it. I had literally tried every cream and antibiotic available with minimal results. I have written a full diary of my roaccutane journey from the start, during and after which outlines clearly the dosage and process at each point.

Now 18 months on, and approaching 26 I definitely have found a new confidence in myself. It is so strange as I still naturally gravitate to full coverage concealers and foundations. I have also had to adjust to my skincare choices as I have gone from having oily skin to very dry skin that needs all the moisture it can possibly get. It makes me feel a little emotional as I know how deep down during the whole time of having acne, I just tried to ignore it on a daily basis. All mine stemmed down to after all those years of trying different options was a diagnosis of polycystic ovaries. Once that was confirmed with blood tests and an ultrasound, the dermatologist knew the hormonal cause of my acne and the treatment could start. There is a tiny part of me who wonders why it took 10 years of dermatology testing, for a GP to determine my underlying condition. However, in the grand scheme of things it all got completely sorted in the end. I am so grateful that it worked so well and that I am still acne free.



Friday 20 March 2020

Remaining Positive

With the outbreak and overwhelm of the last week, I think it's very difficult to remain positive. The prospect of the unknown and also the feeling of knowing things have a potential to get a whole lot worse can be frightening. I have put together a little list of how I have being trying to keep a positive outlook and ways to keep my mind from wandering and worrying.

My number one has been keeping in contact with family and friends. This is the time where we all need to be checking in on each other and seeing if anyone needs a hand. My friendship group messages have never been so wild. There is no doubt there is an overall sense of worry and rightly so. People are terrified for their own families. The hardest thing that I have found is having to cancel all social gatherings. The way that my friends and I have overcome this is by using video chat. We have being using an app called Houseparty where you can have as many people as you want in the chat and also play games. Tonight we have a wine and video chat planned and I cannot wait.

It may sound obvious but reading has been an escape from reality. I have always loved reading, but I had massively got out of the routine of picking up a book. I bought myself some new books and every night before bed I have dedicated 30 minutes to reading. I have found it has massively reduced my anxious thoughts allowing me to sleep a lot easier and for longer.

I have dedicated some time during social distancing to start refocusing and dedicating time to blogging again. Finding something which you enjoy doing and most importantly something which you can focus your mind on can give you a sense of achieving. My biggest barrier has been that all my hobbies e.g. dancing have cancelled their classes meaning you can feel a little bit lost, which can easily lead to boredom and anxious thoughts. This could be the time to take up classes on YouTube, or like myself have put in my diary days where I going to get some fresh air whether that be going for a jog or just a walking around the local country park.

This is probably the most important of them all and definitely the hardest. Staying off your phone could be a daunting thought, but I have found that I have had to physically take myself off my Twitter feed. Honestly, this is the most damaging to your mental health. I think as I work on the front line of the NHS I know what to believe and what not to. However, I really worry for people believing so much untrue information which is re-surfing constantly on the internet. I have had family members and friends contacting me daily with worries as to what they have read. I understand how easy it is to be pulled into believing everything you read. I am not saying to not go on any social media, but I have actually found that Instagram has been the only platform which has been some form of escapism. Twitter and Facebook has been wild. A brilliant idea if you want to properly escape from it is to mute or ban all hashtags and word associated to the epidemic. It will probably leave you feed very bare, but it will allow for your mind to be free for a little while.

Even though I am carrying on with my daily work routine, whilst at home I have created a new little routine and I would encourage you to try and find one to suit yourself. Mine involves not staying in bed scrolling in the morning. Each night before bed I have made a to do list of what I need to get done the next day, and also a list of extra things I could get done over the week. This has kept my mind focused and actually leads to productivity. When I wake up I look at my to do list and organise it into a chronological order of rough timings for the day. Throughout the day I then re-look at the list and tick it off as I go which gives some sense of achievement.

I am no way trying to brush everything which is going on under the carpet. However, it is so important to look after both our physical and mental health. As things unravel and things change on a daily basis there it is definitely an overwhelming prospect of the unknown. I think this is why worry starts to build as we do not know what is going to happen next. If you are feeling lost or are filled with constant worry please reach out to someone.


Wednesday 4 March 2020

My 10 minute everyday/work makeup routine

I feel as though my makeup routine since I started working as a nurse has slowly got less and less. I wake up at 6.30am and head out the door just after 7am.

I normally start by applying the Too Faced hangover primer I tried a sample size of this and loved it so took the plunge and bought a full size. It works really well with my very dry skin adding an early morning boost which is exactly what it needs.

Primark's glow foundation was one of my greatest finds of 2019. The beauty industry talks about dupes a lot and this is a perfect example. This is a great dupe of my holy grail sheer glow foundation from Nars. It really is a steal for just £6. I have been using this for over a year now on a daily basis, and I recommend it to my friends all the time.

In 2019, Fenty Beauty was the year that it took the brand to new dimensions.  Their stand out product is their pro filt'r concealer. I absolutely love this for adding brightness. I put it under my eyes as who knew that turning from 24 to 25 had such an effect on those under eye bags. I love the consistency of this, it is thin, light and their shade range is absolutely superb. Rihanna knows that there was a gap in the market and has filled this void well and truly.

The Sephora natural finish concealer was a find at the start of the year, and every time I or a family member had visited a European city in 2019 I asked them to pick me one up. I had read a review before going on a Sephora trip so I thought I would give it a try. The formula is a little bit thicker than the Fenty Beauty concealer which is great for covering blemishes. It is still light and easy to apply. The applicator is fantastic as it is flat and wide and speeds up the application process.

I have been a Beautyblender lover for years, but the Real Techniques real complexion sponge has recently taken prime spot in my foundation application routine. It is light and what sets it apart from the Beautyblender is its unique shape. It is round at the top like an arrow shape, but also flat on one side. I do a little combination of dabbing both sides to get the perfect coverage.

I saw someone on Instagram using this MAC blusher and I instantly bought it. It is a gorgeous pinky shade with a subtle shimmer through out it. I no longer apply powder in my everyday makeup as I found it dried out my makeup and takes away any kind of glow. I have being using Mac's blush in fairly precious for months now. I love the light amount of luminosity it adds to my face. Highlighter is not a part of my daily routine as the lights are already bright enough at work without my face dazzling like a disco ball.

I have been using this from Benefit religiously for years. I am yet to find an eyebrow product that does the job better than Benefit's goof proof eyebrow pencil. The formula is light and easy to apply, I have tried many eyebrow pencils which have a heavy formula which can be dry and causes tugging when trying to apply. This has a more waxy texture to it allowing a very quick application. It also comes with a spoolie which is always helpful for brushing the brows through and getting an even application of product throughout the eyebrow.


Wednesday 26 February 2020

Charlotte Tilbury Lustre Lipgloss

So from the pictures you can see just how much I love this lip gloss from Charlotte Tilbury. It is definitely well loved and well used. This is part of their lip lustre line. I love the formula of these, you can tell that they have taken time and effort into making this perfect, which is what Charlotte Tilbury does with every release. It is light on application, not sticky and not too thick. I have tried and tested lots of lip glosses over the years, and I have found the main downfalls are often how thick the formulas are and how they often dry to feel tacky on the lips. I wear this lip gloss over the top of many different formulas of lip sticks. The shade is Blondie and it a light pinky shimmer with a slight nude and golden undertone running throughout it, which makes it very versatile. This feels light and smooth on application, it does have a slight stickiness to it but I think all glosses need stickiness to an extent. The finish is high shine and it is definitely a 'glossy' gloss. I also really like the doe foot applicator as it makes application super easy and fast. It also has the little curve at the top to help with accuracy.

It is 'that' lip gloss which lives in the bottom of my handbag and I can pull out on any occasion. I have always preferred a gloss or satin type finish to all lip products. I think it pulls together a look and makes me feel ready for whatever occasion I am heading too. In terms of pricing Charlotte Tilbury is a high end brand and this lip gloss costs £19. There is no denying that £19 for a lip gloss is expensive. However, every now and again we all deserve a little treat and I had wanted to try one of their lip glosses for so long. Therefore, one pay day I treated myself and I do not regret it one bit. I bought this at least two years ago and I wear it on a frequent basis, and there is somehow still a good amount of formula left in the bottle.

I know that one day soon I am going to cave and I will buy another shade to add to my collection. My sister owns Ibiza Nights which is a lovely pale nude shimmer. I have got my eye on Pillow Talk which is the best seller out of the range, it is a mid range pinky nude. Although, I might have to wait until a special occasion to buy it as I have got many lip glosses on the go currently. I feel that Charlotte Tilbury has definitely made a stamp on the beauty industry, and this lip gloss has definitely got my approval.


Wednesday 19 February 2020

In a world where you can be anything, be kind

A few weeks ago I started to write a post about women pitting themselves against each other purely based on their looks. I only wrote a couple of paragraphs and then I decided not to continue. This year I wanted to ensure that all the heavy feelings which I feel I get off my chest as soon as possible to stop it building up inside me. I can be hot headed and I am trying to be less reactive and let myself thoroughly think about my actions, so I have no regrets. I think this an approach we need to undertake as an online community. If you have any source of social media, you have to be responsible for what you write. When I first got Twitter, Facebook and Instagram way over 10 years ago now, the internet was a very different place. From my perspective, it was a more positive place; however there was a lot less responsibility in what we wrote. In that aspect I think we have moved forward. Where we haven't made any progress is the nastiness that people choose to write online.

In the light of Caroline Flack's death it has taken a bigger toll on me than I ever expected. I was on a galentines night out with my work friends when we all woke up to the news. We were literally all floored and in these short few days later I am struggling to process just exactly how she must have been feeling. I just cannot fathom how we can allow this to happen time and time again. You don't have to have liked or even known Caroline to accept that some kind of change has to happen and fast. It will be a few weeks of sorrow and tributes and then the media will be finding someone else to circle on a daily basis stopping someone from being able to leave their own front doors.

We now live in a society of cancel culture, and I feel as though it has become such a toxic place to be involved with. When I first started blogging back in 2013, the internet was such a different place as to where we are now. I can't remember everyday seeing on my timeline, someone slagging another person off not even a celebrity but a standard Joe Blogs who has said something slightly controversial. People tend to jump on the bandwagon and set fuel to the fire and within an hour a whole hate campaign can be started against someone, this usually stems from a tabloid story which has provided a completely biased and unjustified point of view. I used to buy gossip magazines and then one day I thought as a forward-thinking female why would I ever want to be involved and be contributing to a culture of picking at another woman's flaws and putting them in the worst dressed category. These small changes and distancing yourself from this type of source can be really refreshing for your thoughts. I recently realised that I had been following lots of people on Twitter who consistently have something to say about any bit of gossip that might arise. It has been noticed and talked about quite frequently about how toxic the blogging community has become, and this is what saddens me the most. I started blogging to meet friends, and be involved in discussions about things with people who shared similar interests. It's very much okay to unfollow anyone who you feel may be spreading consistent hate or is ultimately having an effect on your mental health.

This for me all stems down to just being a little bit kinder. In my every day job role I see on a daily basis the effects of online bullying and the harrowing realities of teenagers attempting and committing suicide as they have no way of coping. When I started high school nearly 15 years ago now, social media was just emerging and I feel that within my social group it was used as a way to interact with my friends. However, apps didn't exist and you couldn't just get on it with a click as we do now. We had top ups on our phones and to use the internet it cost, it provided you with a break away from the online world. Now, this doesn't happen. We don't give ourselves breaks from social media, and we have all fallen down a rabbit hole. The rise of memes in the Twitter world has taken online bullying to another level. I am not acting innocent in any way saying I haven't had a private little giggle on the group text with my best friends about something relatable. Imagine though everyday constantly being tagged in something negative about yourself and having to block users consistently, it must become draining. When you are in the limelight there is to a degree as expectation that you are going to be featured in the media, but I really don't think I would have the strength to constantly battle the negativity which is found daily online.

I was thinking in depth as to what I could do to contribute to this change which is so necessary within society. I can't imagine how it must feel to spend your day being a keyboard warrior or consistently trolling someone. We need a forward movement in spreading a little more kindness, as things have to change we can't allow ourselves to continue like this. I feel helpless to some degree as to what I can do to help. Deep down I take pride in knowing that I do not spend my days spreading hate. On Instagram, I wrote a post about how lucky I feel to be surrounded by a group of girls who cheerlead me on in all I do and how grateful I am. I often show my appreciation to these girls as they have helped me through a lot. Imagine having no one to talk to, and all you read everyday is how people want you to die. No matter how strong you are, this will start to chip away at you and there is no doubt that your thoughts and feelings will start to alter. I am a very sensitive person and I myself have experienced people publicly staring and pointing at me due to my looks. I don't know when or where my strong-minded resilience to block out these people came from, but boy am I glad it did. I literally do not let anyone's negative thoughts or words to process in my brain. I literally let it in one ear, and straight out the other. There is no doubts this took time, but I normally just tell myself what sad lives they must lead, and I am sure they are fighting some demons of their own.

I am just so sad that it has taken yet another person's death for us to think about the absolute need for change. We choose how we use our social media platforms and we choose whether we choose to be kind or not. We are presented with these life choices and we choose whether to spread hate or comment on a trolling feed, or whether we share someone's achievement and champion on a campaign for change for women. This the opportunity for us all to make some changes if we need to, if you have said things in the past which you regret look forward with a new perspective and strive to change. We all make wrong choices at some point, but its ensuring we don't make those choices again is where the progress happens.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. This quote has resonated with me and had been swirling around my brain. I have been thinking about my impact on how the words I say can affect others. I think this is where we need to place the emphasis on the impact of our actions. I promise being kind and sharing a bit of love can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. We can use our kindness to help those who need it most, who may need a glimmer of hope in their lives. We have a choice about what choose to share and do online and let's all choose to be kind. Get rid of negativity from your timeline, and spread some positivity.

If you are struggling or going through a hard time, or you know so someone who is, I know it's so easy for everyone say to just reach out. I really think that is somewhere you can start so I will leave a few numbers and websites of charities who you may feel can help you.

Mind - 03001233393 /
Samaritans - 116123 /



Friday 7 February 2020

How I am planning on budgeting and saving in 2020

For 2020 I have made goals about what I want to achieve and where I want to go. I am going through some kind of mid-20 crisis and it has been a light bulb moment in where and want I want to be spending my money on.

I have tried to look at my wage each month and look at the areas where I can definitely make savings and places where I am spending and essentially wasting money. I have made end of year saving goals and also have adjusted it depending on what is happening in my life. For example, I am lucky enough to be going to Florida in May and it is going to be a holiday of a lifetime. Therefore, I am paying off the holiday and want to have money to spend whilst I am. However, after that from the mid until end of the year that it where I am looking at being able to save the most money.

I think you have to really look at the finer details looking at exactly what is coming in and going out. My monthly wage changes slightly each month. I have created an average which is a nice round figure which I can work off. My first tip is using the notes app on your phone. I have a list off all my out-goings that I pay month to month. I total at the bottom what I will have left. I then look at my calendar as to what social events or other things I have going on in the month and list those. Next to each item I give myself a budget, for example a meal out with my friends £20. I then finalise the total costs. You can then see what if anything is left over whether this is £20 or £200. That is your target for the end of the month. After this every time I pay the bill or buy something it goes on the list I deduct the money each time. Once you have done it for one month you will realise exactly what you are spending your money on.

Patricia Bright is the queen of all aspects of money. This YouTube video she did on her channel - The Break Platform on how she budgets her salary is fabulous. She uses an excel spreadsheet which lays out clearly exactly what she has coming in and out of her wage. She gives hints and tips as to what areas you can make little savings, and she talks about how should always be investing which is something which has never crossed my mind. She makes reference to how she suggests spreading your money around so you always have pots which you can dip into where necessary.

I think it it always good have an approximate end of year goal whether it is £1000 or £10,000. It is important to stay in your own lane and stay focused on your own goals as it can be easy to compare yourself to others. My end of year target is to have saved at least £5,000 to put towards my house savings. I have looked at all my outgoings and realised it is a realistic goal. There is no point saying you want to save a huge sum of money if you are literally going to have absolutely nothing left.

One saving tip which I have been doing since I qualified in my job three years ago is whatever I have left at the end of the month I move into my savings. Whether this is 10p or £100, I move it over in my savings so that each month I start on a clean slate. This means each month I can go through and make the list which I mention earlier, and budget for that month on what I have earned. I love doing this as you realise that you can actually make more savings than you realise.

Another way how I make little savings here and there is using apps. One which I have loved to the latter end of 2019, is an app called Airtime Rewards. You can attach all of your debit and credit cards to your account and if you shop in an shop which is attached to the app you can a reward to your account this may vary from 1%-15% cashback. Once your account reaches £5 you then cash it in and it takes if off your next phone bill. If you are wanting to join if you enter my code: WRPHF3MJ then we both get 0.50 added to our accounts. Other little saving regimes which I use all the time are the good old supermarket clubs. Tesco is always me favourite as there is nothing better than getting your clubcard vouchers through the post. I have found myself shopping in Morrison's recently so I have recently signed up for their points regime. It is so much easier now you can upload these cards to your phone so you don't have to carry them around with you. I also love the good old Boots and Superdrug cards as you can collect points and spend them. These little amounts of money add up and for real little effort.

So here's to 2020 and making the goals a reality. Let's stay in our own lanes and smash those savings goals!


Wednesday 22 January 2020

Disneyland Paris at Christmas

How lucky was I that I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland Paris at Christmas. As soon as we got back from our first ever trip in February we literally booked this trip a few weeks later. We had the disney blues bad. We thought what could be better than going and combining both disney and Christmas.

As my sister is a teacher and I am a nurse trying to find a weekend in December where we could go was proving impossible. We managed to find some dates and booked to go from the 21st- 23rd. With our previous two trips we have always got on the first flight available out and then come home on a late night flight. This time we got a flight from Manchester to Paris at 06.10 and the flight took 55 minutes. We then got our luggage and got on the magic bus which took around an hour. We then arrived at the hotel which was the Hotel Cheyenne (post here). We checked in, and dropped our luggage off as we couldn't get into our room until 3pm. After this, we headed straight into the park and we were in there for about 09.30 which I think is pretty good going. It is such a short flight you can still have your entire first day.

We had made a bit of a schedule as to what we wanted to do each day. This day was dedicated to meet and greets in the main park. We were really excited about the meet and greets, but as always the queues can be big. We queued for Thumper and it was definitely took way over an hour. The most exciting thing on the first day was the parade. My sister had seen sneak peeks of the parade, but I wanted to save it to see it for myself. It was such a fabulous parade and they definitely went on all out with theming. Everything was as you would expect Christmas themed, but it was really magical. There were lots of new characters on the parade who I hadn't seen previously, which is always exciting. It completely got me into the spirit and I watched it twice on the first day.

Before we went this time we had fully prepared ourselves that it was going to be sooooo busy especially as it was the weekend before Christmas. To our surprise it was the same kind of busyness as at Halloween. The queues for the rides were big, but a few of the bigger rides were down due to the heavy spouts of rain. As always we took advantage of the fast passes and used the disneyland app to keep up with the waiting times of each ride.

There was no denying that they have decorated Main Street amazingly as they had a huge Christmas tree at the start of the street. It looked incredible and as soon as you walked through the gates, and it put an instance smile on my face. My sister and I did however find that some areas had no decorations at all and it didn't give me the same excitement the entire way round the parks. It was slightly disappointing and I think there was actually more decorations when we visited at Halloween (post).

My sister and I decided to treat ourselves to breakfast with the characters at Plaza Gardens. It was a lovely experience. We met lots of characters including Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie, Minnie Mouse and Donald and Daisy duck. The experience did however feel a little bit rushed as it was a very quick picture and they move on. With some of the characters if you were not ready and waiting, you literally missed your opportunity and there was no going back. Overall though, we had a fabulous time and I would definitely book and treat myself to a character breakfast again on another visit.

We booked onto a full board meal plan for this trip. If you book through the disneyland website itself you can build your holiday and adapt it to what you want. I think I would always opt for some kind of meal plan whether it is half board or full board. There is no denying that the food is expensive, and even if you eat at the counter service rather than the restaurants you will easily spend 50 Euros each on food a day. The meal plans are normally less than this for and you can eat in the restaurants and fill your boots.

On the last day we decided to treat ourselves and eat at one of the Disneyland Hotel's restaurants called Inventions. It was another character meal and it was such a special end to the holiday. The food was incredible at this restaurant, it is part of  the premium meal plan and you could tell. On the standard meal plan which is what we opted for each meal has a worth of 35 Euros. You can exchange this worth in and pay the difference. I think we had to pay an additional 35 Euros which is a lot and I would never have paid 70 Euros. However, with the meal already being half paid for it was one last treat to us.

In 2019, I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland Paris three times. We went for the first time in February and were instantly hooked. If you have read my recent travel plan post, you will know that my sister and I have booked to go to Walt Disney World Florida at the end of May and I couldn't be more excited.



Wednesday 15 January 2020

Hotel Cheyenne at Disneyland Paris

When we went to Disneyland Paris back in February we stayed at the Hotel Santa Fe and we loved it. This time when booking to go at Christmas there was literally no difference in price between the Cheyenne and the Santa Fe, so we decided to go for somewhere new. This trip was for 2 nights and I have to say we spend very minimal time in the hotel.

In comparison to the Santa Fe there really isn't that much difference between them. The differences are the theming of the two hotels. I was interested in staying at the Cheyenne as its theme is western and the rooms are decorated surrounding Toy Story. My favourite disney character is Jessie so I thought this would be cute. On arrival, I loved how the outside of the buildings looked as they are in blocks spread out around the site. Initially I loved it and I couldn't wait to get to our room. However, when we entered our room I was a little underwhelmed. I thought that the rooms looked a little dated. The rooms are never massive but they fit everything in that you need. I thought it looked quite plain and could do with a refurbish. My sister felt the same way.

On this trip we opted for the standard full board option so we had breakfast in the hotel. The breakfast was really lovely, as it was on our last trip. It offers everything which you can want. It has cold food options, hot food, cereals and pastries. It definitely sets you up for the day and you are able to fill yourself up. If you are going with children, even the fussiest of child would be able to find something to eat. The breakfast in the hotels open really early so you are able to get in, eat, and get into the parks for 8am to be able to take advantage of your extra magic hours. My little tip would be that if you want to meet a princess at the princess pavilion, we always get to the park for 8am and head straight there. The queues for the pavilion can be soooo long. If you go and it is less than an hour then you have been lucky. They normally vary from 75-90 mins.

We didn't actually book to eat in the Cheyenne restaurant on this trip for our evening meal. However, you can book to eat in any of the disney hotels if you want to. With the standard meal plan you can eat in the Santa Fe or Cheyenne and you do not need to pay any additional costs. If you chose to get an afternoon flight and you arrive in disney later in the evening, I think it is a good idea to eat in your hotel on arrival at 6-7pm and then if you choose to you can then head into the park for the fireworks. We did this on out first trip and it worked fantastically.

As always the staff in the hotel were lovely and the check in process was easy. From the airport, we got on the magic bus. This time we booked through Hey's Travel and you got the magic bus included in the price which was a bonus. Back in October, we got on the train from the airport and it was 19 Euros each way and it took about 20 mins. The bus takes about 50 mins as it goes to the different hotels. The Cheyenne was the second drop off so it was a really easy journey.

All in all, I would stay at the Hotel Cheyenne again. The room was clean and it provided us with exactly what we needed which was to sleep and shower. Me and my sister always love getting back to our hotel and having unlimited disney on the TV. Come on there's nothing better than coming back from the fireworks and being able to dance and sing along to High School Musical from your bed! Like I have already mentioned, I think they could do with an update and a lick of paint. Maybe this will come after they have the new Marvel hotel which is opening in autumn 2020 and to be fair looks like it is going to incredible. It is my sister and I's goal to stay at the Disneyland Hotel but unless we win the lottery, that is definitely in the distant future.



Wednesday 8 January 2020

new year, new me?

Some people love new year resolutions, some people think they are pointless. I sit somewhere right in the middle. I am a big believer in setting goals and trying to make them realistic. There is no point me pledging to save £10,000 and buy a house by the end of the year as 2020 as it is clearly not going to happen. However, telling myself I am going to try and save an extra £50 a month is a goal which can be achieved.

I really like to make a few goals and try and think as to how I am going to keep them. For example I want to continue to run as often as I can. I am making it a realistic target to go at least twice a week. With my shifts I can't say I will go every Tuesday as my rota changes from week to week, so just simply stating twice a week I can plan it and make it much more manageable.

What I do not think is achievable is wanting to implement multiple resolutions which are simply not going to happen. If you have had a really rubbish 2019 and you are in need of an urgent change and a fresh outlook, then I really believe you can see a new year as some kind of fresh page in a new book. In every day life I am a reflective person, and I often seek ways of improvements and how if something was to reoccur how I would manage/ change the situation differently. If you struggle with the idea of wanting to implement a change no matter how big or small, it can helpful to think ahead as to any if unexpected barriers do occur how you will overcome them. I do this often, but you have to try and balance a fine line of managing it without taking too much on, and being disappointed when the outcome you expected or needed does not happen.

I have been saying for years I want to start writing a diary. This is my main goal of this year. I want to mainly focus it around my work and have it as a mixture of personal reflection but also gratitude. I want to be able to look back in years to come and see how I was feeling in the moment. I feel as though I sometimes struggle with my emotions and how to express them, and I know that writing things down can be great as it feels like a relief as you leave it on the paper.

I think have been thinking a lot about my blog recently, and the direction which I am hoping to take it in. I am still unsure as to what I want to do with it, so at the moment I have decided to not put too much pressure on myself and dedicate the time to it as and when I can. I find the management of this blog quite a stressful aspect of my life. I want to get so much out of it, but at the end of the day it is a hobby not my career and I have to constantly remember myself that.

For me 2019 was the year of the to do lists! You may be thinking, to do lists have existed since time began, and you'd be correct. However, I only really incorporated them into my life in the mid to latter end of 2019, and I found they helped manage my busy days so much more easily. I would make my to do list at the start of the day, and then rearrange it in to a chronological order so I know where to start first. Honestly, there is nothing more satisfying than ticking things off one by one once they are completed. Sometimes there simply is not enough time in the day to get everything done which I would hope to have completed. I will therefore look at my list and prioritise and think what do I have to get done today that cannot roll on into tomorrow. I then underneath write an ongoing to do list - things which need to be done and can't be forgotten about, but it's not imperative in that moment there and then. Going forward the do list is definitely coming with me into 2020.

Where I am trying to go with this post is make the new year what you want it to be. If you had a really rubbish 2019 and you feel you need that fresh start then grab it with both hands and go for it. Make sure you stay in your head space and I find that constantly reassessing where you are and where you want to be, can definitely help you to keep on track and continue to move you closer to accomplishing what you set out to achieve. I also learnt in 2019 that the reassessment of goals can be imperative in order for them to be achieved. Life isn't simple or straight forward and you can be thrown many obstacles into the mix when least expected. But, however upsetting or rubbish the change can make you feel, it is about readjustment and getting back on track ensuring that that goal is achieved one way or another. One thing which I think can be the most important of all, is not putting all your time and energy into something which you are not sure of. I definitely learnt the hard way last year and accepted that many things need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Here is to making 2020 whatever you want it be.

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