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Friday, 17 November 2017

Why I Don't Feel Body Confident

It's a contradiction don't you think? The title and then the photo below of me posing. These photos were taken during our stay in Morocco, in the beautiful Hotel Riu Palace Tikida Agadir and looking at this photo, I appear confident.
Woman in swimsuit
I found it difficult to write this post because I didn't know what angle to write this from, I just know that I wanted to write about it. Body confidence is something that has always been feed to me and to others in the media growing up. Whether it's on the covers of magazines or passed down to us by friends or family members, it's what our society thrives on. Whether it comes from a place of good or bad.

Growing up, I had the best metabolism going, I could eat a shit ton of food and I'd often get asked, where does it go? Well that's the absolute luxury of being a kid.

But for me, going to university changed everything. I ate a serious amount of junk food, I binge drinked on a weekly - who am I kidding - daily basis and before I knew it, I'd piled on a few pounds. I remember my mum seeing that change for the first time. It shocked her and she expressed this concern verbally. That's the first time that I lost my body confidence.
Sunbathing
Now by no means is it my mum's fault. In fact, I think that it came from a place of love and unfortunately no one else could have really told me that because it would have hurt my feelings. And let's be honest, I was surrounded by students all in the same boat. Suddenly I was very conscious of my body. Before, I never looked at myself and thought about my body. For me, I was super slim, was regularly active with sports at school and I was by no means the person I am today.

Since leaving university, I managed to lose quite a bit of weight through discovering the gym. I grew stronger, my body was firmer and I felt confident. Body confident. That was until blogging started and I lost more free time during my mornings and evenings. Every spare moment I have goes into my blogging and that unfortunately meant no more gym time.

I'm probably the heaviest I've ever been now. I've been desperate to get some new jeans but I don't want to because I know I need a size 14 and I have never been a size 14. We're told to love our bodies and to learn to love those bits we're not so keen on but on the other side of the coin it's the complete opposite. We're hounded in print and online to look a certain way and that living outside of these boundaries doesn't get fair enough representation.
Swimsuit
Could I change this viewpoint for me over time? Of course, I'm not a sheep. I don't like being told that I can't do something because I can if I put my mind to it. I may not be body confident now but being in your mid twenties is stressful. You're finding yourself as an adult like everyone else is.

So the point of this blog post? I guess I don't really have one. I think that body confidence is something we can only find ourselves. I also think just because someone doesn't like your body, doesn't mean you have to change because of it.


What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.



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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Gingersnap Light Box | Christmas Gift Ideas

This Christmas, I wanted to share with you as many different gift guides and ideas because you have to admit, shopping for your friends and family can sometimes be so difficult. The worst are those that say 'oh just get me something small' or 'oh no you don't need to get me anything' - it's literally the worst response you could ever give someone who really doesn't enjoy shopping for others. 
Letter Box
I mean, I like treating people but sometimes, my creativity lacks a little when it comes to gifts. Sometimes I actually surprise myself and get it spot on.

Anyway, I'll stop because I'm blabbing. Lightboxes have fast become a quirky and totally millennial way of decorating your home or an event. This one has letters and even cooler - freaking emojis! Well, they're definitely going to go down well with pretty much every person in your family. If not, well they ain't a basic bitch like I am.

This one, in particular, is from Gingersnap. You may have noticed my bestie used one at her wedding in my blog post but this one is actually a smaller version of what she had. I got sent the Gingersnap Letter Light Box along with a separate set of emojis that you know, just give me life. 

I actually took these photos not long after I came back from my holidays where I got proposed to, so you can clearly see how lovesick I was - sorry, still am...
Letter Light Box with letters behind it
Close of letters
So aside from the fact this gift is in the kid's section *cough* adults can be big kids too, I freaking love this so much that I have it right on my bedside table, ready to light up as a nightlight.

The backlight on this thing isn't tame either. It pretty much blasts out so much light that I could easily do some night reading without having to even lean towards it in bed. I think it's perfect for kids who may be afraid of the dark (and I'm talking about all ages of kids) and a perfect stocking filler at £18.00.

The emoji set that I received is £7.99 which is a little creative addition, especially because everyone is obsessed with using emojis - even your cool nan who doesn't know that the ice cream emoji is actually a piece of poop.

Do you know anyone who'd enjoy this as a Christmas gift? Let me know in the comments below.

*Disclaimer - I received this product in return for an honest review. All words are my own.


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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Bird Of Smithfield

Despite where I find myself today, I still feel very grateful whenever I get invited to an event or I'm given something to review. Bird of Smithfield invited myself and a guest (I took Sean, my bestie and housemate combined) to experience what this gorgeous venue has to offer.
Outside Bird of Smithfield
Now I'd be lying if I said that this place was easy to find. I think it would be if I came from Blackfriars station as it's along the same road as the underground but I came from the opposite direction, went down a dark subway and genuinely thought I was about to get jumped on by a mad man.

But all jokes aside, this restaurant and bar would be hard to find but easy to stumble across if you went a-wondering down some side streets. I arrived before Sean as we were both coming from work and before taking a not so subtle picture of the outside, I stepped into a beautiful modern dining area. There was a few people sitting down, but it was relatively quiet.
Restaurant Interior
I was quickly greeted by Diane, who was the front of house host and was sat down at a table reserved for me. I was offered the cocktail menu which to Diane's surprise, I picked one out pretty quickly - I'd actually looked prior to see which one I wanted. Turns out it was the wrong one me and Sean decided on but it still tasted great.

The cocktail, In The Meadows, came out fairly quickly. It was a gorgeous citrusy cocktail with dandelion bitters sprinkled along the top. I was told by Ben, one of the barmen, that these were fresh dandelions that are actually picked by the manager herself which I thought was a nice personal touch. Once Sean arrived, we headed up to the restaurant upstairs. The venue consists of a lower basement floor which is a bar. The upper floors hold the restaurant and a private event space sits on the top floor.
Bar & Cocktail Menus
In the Meadows cocktail
In The Meadows
The dining area was light, modern and had a mixture of abstract and genre art. There wasn't a huge amount of tables and chairs which made the space more intimate.

Our waiter was a gentleman called Lorenzo who was probably one of the best waiters both myself and Sean have ever had. He was extremely attentive from the get go and made sure to describe every dish we were eating as well as answering any questions I had regarding the restaurant itself. 

A few others filtered in during our meal but I was surprised by the lack of patrons. According to the staff though, there days tend to fluctuate with the weekend being the busiest. That also being said, both the top floor and basement floor were booked out to private events so I suppose that what was lacking in numbers in this area, makes up for it in the others.
Interior of restaurant
Interior of restaurant
First up on the menu was some traditional bread and butter. This was homemade, fresh out of the oven with a choice of unsalted butter and seaweed butter. The seaweed butter was met by intrigue not only by myself but by a few others who were there also.

The bread was deliciously warm and with the seaweed butter soaked into it, it gave a whole new perspective to the usual bread and butter we tend to expect. Out next came our starters. We decided to go with two different options so that we were able to try as many dishes as possible.

I went for the Isle of Orkney Scallops which were melt in the mouth. I've had scallops in the past but they've always been quite dense and rubbery. These were the opposite, with a tasty artichoke puree and sprinkled black truffle. Very luxurious.
Bread and butter
Bread & Butter (including seaweed butter!)
Scallops
Isle of Orkney Scallops
Scallops
Sean had ordered the chicken and mushroom terrine which was covered in an assortment of grilled scallions and hazelnuts. This was a cold starter but had a rich taste. The crunch of the hazelnuts complimented the dish very well and was a favourite for Sean out of the two.

Much to our surprise, we were then treated to an extra starter which was the Roasted Foie Gras on a bed of sweet and sour plums, topped with an almond crumble and plum sake glaze. This one blew the scallops out of the water. It was mouth-watering and I could have happily ate that every day for the rest of my life.
Chicken Terrine
Roasted Foie Gras
Roasted Foie Gras
For the mains, we both went with the same choice. Both myself and Sean are steak snobs when it comes to getting the cooking time right. We both like it rare, with Sean always requesting for blue rare. The steak came with mushrooms, a spinach base and straw potato grated on top. 

It was beautifully cooked and seasoned and I really couldn't fault it. If I could be picky about anything, then it would be that there was quite a bit of fat but sometimes that's just what is expected for certain cuts of meat.
Steak
As we finished off our mains, the thought of another course was a struggle. One of the barmen, bought up our dessert cocktails which included the Cointreausensual, a chocolate orange flavoured cocktail and Memories of Last Summer which was similar to a sours. 

The desserts were just too much for me but Sean managed to finish off his Lemon cake which was a palette cleanser that also fitted perfectly with the chocolate orange cocktail. I had a Chocolate Brownie Sundae and managed a few bitefuls. The chocolate was a little too rich and bitter for me but mixed in with the semi melted marshmallows was a heavenly mix.
Dessert Cocktails
Lemon Sponge Cake
Chocolate Brownie Sundae
Their A la Carte menu is a wonderful mixture of typically British dishes with a slight twist. The average price for a Starter is around £11, Mains are a little pricier on average at £25 and desserts are between £6-£10

I was extremely impressed with both the drinks and food we were served but the biggest appeal that the venue has, is it's staff. Everyone was extremely warm and welcoming and I feel that this is the factor that really sells a place. Thank you Bird of Smithfield for having us.

What do you think of Bird of Smithfield? Let me know in the comments below.

*Disclaimer - I was invited along for a complimentary meal in exchange for a review. All words are my own.


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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

How To Stay Out Of Debt This Christmas

And all of a sudden it's nearly December. It's that time of year where we spend, spend and spend some more. We get tap happy with our contactless cards and we rack up huge bills on our credit cards, leaving us strapped for cash during the new year.
Presents
We do this every year and you'd think that we would learn a lesson, but the bright lights of Christmas displays in shop windows and the endless sales and discounts on items, makes it hard to resist. I myself have found that splurging out is way too easy and you tend to buy a little too much so I thought I'd share a few tips on how to keep out of the red this Christmas.


Budget


The most obvious thing to do is to budget what you're going to spend. That way, you don't get tempted to veer off on a spending spree online or in the shops. No matter how big or small this budget may be, make sure to list this out in some way, whether it be a spreadsheet or a simple list (I find Wunderlist is my go-to favourite)

Also think about how much you'll want to spend on that person and how many people you plan on buying for. Don't just buy for every man, woman and their pet. Be stringent and only buy for those that you really want to treat. Also if you buy for someone who doesn't buy you anything back (excluding small children who have no money!) - cross them off the list for next year.


Group Your Gifts


Couples and families are the worst when it comes to gift buying. You can't just buy for one person when they have another half or a whole throng of family members. If you're strapped for cash or just looking to save some pennies, group gifts if they're a couple or have a fairly big family. Festive hampers are always a crowd pleaser and you can some great ones from John Lewis and M&S that won't break the bank.


Put It On Your Credit Card


Credit cards are definitely dangerous for the inner splurger but it can actually help a lot if you want to spread your costs. If you have a credit card, perhaps spend half the amount on your credit card and the other half with a debit card. 

The worst thing you can do is sign up to multiple buy now and pay laters which you're likely to forget about. If you've not got a credit card yet, find out more to see if it's the right financial aid for you.


Find The Dupes


Many bloggers within the industry talk about dupes and we often use this when we've found something that's cheaper than the original. 

The shopping industry is overflowing with a whole host of companies and whether you're looking for high-end makeup, designer bags or a specific toy that your child HAS to have, there's always a cheaper option or even a suitable alternative. Most of these can be found online, so spend an afternoon traipsing through the web. You'll probably save a lot. 


Go 'No Presents' This Year


Considering that gift giving isn't really what the festive season is about, you can tell your friends and family not to buy you anything this year. This can give you a way out of buying presents for them but you could always do something which allows you to share the festive feels regardless. Go for a festive walk or put on a Christmas spread. Christmas is all about sharing it with loved ones so that doesn't mean you have to spend an arm and a leg on presents.


Did you find these tips helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post. All words are my own.




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Monday, 13 November 2017

Bloc Hotel | Gatwick

Sam and I agreeing to stay in a hotel the night before our flight was probably the best idea ever, as we got to stay in the most gorgeous airport hotel. Situated right next to the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport, Bloc Hotel is a modern, millennial's dream accommodation. And when they say that no other hotel will get you closer to your flight - well they weren't wrong.
Runway View
Combining the latest technology with sophisticated and contemporary decor, we checked into their VIP suite using our contactless check in card - so swanky. We'd been very graciously upgraded to be provided with the ultimate experience which included A GOD DAMN RUNWAY VIEW.

Bloc Hotel has two locations, one in Birmingham and this one here in Gatwick, a busy hub for business and tourists travelers alike. Everything within the room was controlled by a panel at the side of the bed. The most exciting feature, which provided several minutes of joy for myself, was the electronic blinds that plunged the room into darkness. The view of the runway was simply magical. Myself and Sam spent much of our time, gazing like children, out at the planes coming in to land and taking off.
Bloc Hotel Reception
Control Panel
Bathroom Mirror
Bathroom Lotions
The windows are soundproof, which is of course needed considering the hotel is on the runway. Everything about the suite is modern, the rainforest/monsoon shower, touch flush toilet and alternative mood lighting for when it's time to wind down for bed. The TV comes with a free Sky package and the Wifi is easy to connect to.

My only worry staying at this hotel, was the lack of food service but because it was a stone's throw away from most of the restaurants within the airport, this wasn't a problem. The hotel had several offers within the terminals both before and after security. We had our dinner at Giraffe and then got 25% off breakfast the next morning as Bloc guests.
TV
Bloc Hotel Bedroom
Runway View Night
Bloc Hotel Coffee
Natalie drinking coffee
Natalie drinking coffee
Rates of the rooms are surprisingly good value for money and you're getting the comfort and ease of mind, knowing your right within reach of the terminals for your flight. No worry of rushing to the train station, missing your connections or your flight.

Thank you Bloc Hotel for letting us stay at your hotel and for kicking off our holiday in the best way possible. We'll be back!

*Disclaimer - I got a discounted service as a media guest. All words are my own.



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