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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Goodbye 2016

Goodbye 2016. You've been pretty crap for many of us. However 2017 might be a little better (and hopefully we won't lose anymore iconic celebrities).

Tonight I shall be sharing my last night of 2016 with my nearest and dearest. Every year, we normally meet up with the same friends but this year I have the addition of my family coming down to London to celebrate and bring in the New Year. Central London is possibly the worst place to go on NYE but we're planning on dining in a pub nearby Waterloo which will hopefully be close enough to see the fireworks.

2017
January I believe is going to be a month of changes but will be for the better. For a while now, I've felt quite low and lost my sense of direction. I've kept these feelings quite close to me and have really been struggling to find the motivation to do anything and it's certainly taken a lot out of me to carry on as if everything is ok when it isn't. I don't want to make this a 'woe is me' blog post but I'm happy that this chapter of my life is ending and that I can move on to new and exciting times!

At the end of the day, as long as you have people around you who love you and accept you for who you are, then you really can't go wrong. This statement definitely rings true for the past six months and not only that but my blog has provided me with so many opportunities that 2017 feels like it could be a good year.

So raise your glasses to 2017 and I hope that you are celebrating it with loved ones and seeing in the New Year full of hope and positivity for whatever is ahead.

Are you excited for 2017?






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Friday, 30 December 2016

Yearly Blog Round Up - 2016

Oh 2016, you've been pretty pants haven't you? You've taken some iconic celebrities away from us, spun us into a political nightmare and the world is in such a violent state that I just want to crawl under my bed covers and watch repeat episodes of The Big Bang Theory to make life seem a little better. 2016 for my blog however has been pretty epic.
UpYourVlog logo
It's crazy to see that I've nearly written five hundred blog posts, with 300-odd of those being this year alone. My blog has become my way of escaping from the dull life of adulthood. I must admit, it's not great at the moment and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this, especially those recently having graduated from university. Life isn't plain sailing once you leave the safety net of education, instead you get a big slap in the face (which is in the form of a student loan letter telling you how much you owe) and a nice cold welcome to the normal and boring world that is real life. I'm going off topic right now - sorry! My blog has grown so much over the past year that I wanted to share with you a few of my personal highlights and some of my favourite blog posts of 2016. So here's my top five!

The Skinny Rebel Workout

Fitness photo
It was the start of the year and the post-festive bulge of 2015 was evidently showing around my plump thighs and food-baby belly. Train Dirty invited me a long to a taster session of their Skinny Rebel Workout that they were 'touring' as it were, around hotels in London. A great concept for those business people on the go, wanting to stay fit but not necessarily liking the idea of working out alone in a hotel gym. Dean - the camera shy but incredibly cool instructor - put me well and truly through my paces and let me tell you, it was probably one of the most intense workouts I've ever done. It was 45 minutes of non-stop exercises and they were BRUTAL. Highly recommend it though, even if you just want to look like Bane* for 10 minutes. 

*Read the blog post to understand my point. ;)

Living In A World Of Violence

Man standing on rock
This year has certainly shown us how violent humans can be to one another. To think of someone taking another one's life angers me to no end and unfortunately it's a human error that so many seem to have. This blog post for me was like an angry letter to the world. Living in London and being a prime target for terrorists still petrifies me, as I'm sure it does for everyone. There's now so much terrorisation going on all over the world that the comment I made at the end of the post 'one day we'll all end up knowing someone who's died at the hands of violence' cannot be more true. When will it stop? I'm putting this blog in this yearly round up because I like writing about topics that question, that give you my readers pause for thought. Stuff like this needs to be talked about more - I mean it's better than just doing nothing right?

Greasy Hair Fix

Updo Hair Style
I mean this is a bit of a self-indulgent one but hey I think these photos are pretty awesome. I think around this time, I was just getting the hang of taking better photos? I also wanted to show off a few hairstyles that I'd experimented with and now seeing this, I want my long hair back. Don't get me wrong, there's many epic benefits to having shorter hair - I use hardly any shampoo and conditioner - but having long hair gave me more ways of styling it. This greasy hair fix tutorial is probably one of my favourite beauty blogs as I really feel it's a helpful tutorial to those out there with long enough hair to do it!

Pulse Light Clinic

Before and after photos
UGH. I cannot recommend this treatment and place more. I attended Pulse Light's Clinic just around the corner from Goodge Street underground station and they were celebrating their launch of a second clinic in London. I was invited along and after getting a patch test on my upper lip, they offered me four treatments for FREE! If anyone knows me, they might have heard me mention on occassion that I was quite conscious of my upper lip hair. It wouldn't be as much of a problem if I didn't have such dark hair. The results after four treatments were incredible and I'm making it a 'to do' on my New Years beauty list to get the final treatments to completely remove the hair. Even now though, the hairs are a lot less prominent than they once were.

Pandora Spring '16 Collection

Pandora charm
I pretty much freaked out when a company got in touch and asked if I wanted to work with Pandora to promote their new Spring '16 range. This is probably my biggest company that I've worked with to date and it was definitely a personal choice to say yes to this project. I've always loved Pandora and they sent the most beautiful pandora charm that I gave to my mum for her 50th birthday. I still cannot believe it happened and therefore it has to feature as one of my favourite posts of this year.

The Moretti Gran Tour

Boyfriend standing under Moretti stand
I mean this was the day that I found out a got a new job so this is one of the main reasons why this is in my favourites. The Moretti Gran Tour is an annual event in London that showcases some of the delights we have right on our own doorstep. There was enough Moretti Beer to sink a ship or three and Sam was delighted with the free tokens we got to spend on food and beer...lots of beer. Opportunities like this have purely come from my blog and I'm forever grateful for what this blog brings my way.

I CUT MY HAIR FOR CHARITY

Before and after haircut
This year we found out some pretty awful news from a close family member, that she had breast cancer and that it was serious. She now needs over £150,000 to get the treatment she needs and luckily she's had her first round thanks to the support of friends and family, as well as the donations that now come in from far and wide. I decided to cut my hair and donate the proceeds raised to Katy's fund, giving my 12 inches of hair to The Little Princess Trust (I've now got a certificate and my inner child is beaming with pride). The fund raised over £600 and along with gift aid, it will make a huge difference to Katy's treatment. We all have to be selfless and hair is hair, at the end of the day it'll grow back. It was so worth it to raise that money and give away that hair to two people who need all the help they can get.

It gives me great pleasure to see what my blog's achieved over the year of 2016. What will be in store for 2017 I wonder?! Let me know in the comment below what you think of these posts!






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Thursday, 29 December 2016

8 Ways To Celebrate New Years Eve

New Year's Eve is an exciting time but with the planning and craziness that is Christmas, the countdown to the New Year can sometimes go unplanned. So here's 8 ways to celebrate NYE if you've currently got no plans.
Sparkler

1. Throw a house party

If you live somewhere that allows it, why not throw a house party at your place? Gather friends and/or family members for the evening and enjoy the fireworks on the television from the comfort of your own home. In the past, me and my friends have gotten together and we've all put £5-£10 in the kitty to pay for a spread and drinks to last us for the evening. Great way to save money and to guarantee everyone stays together.


2. See the fireworks

This year, myself and the family/friends are braving the elements and everyone who'll be in London this year, for New Year's Eve. We haven't bought tickets for the areas where you can see the fireworks, instead we've booked a pub meal and we'll try and get as close to the action as possible. I can already visualise it being crazy but as long as I'm with those closest to me, that's all that counts. Check out your local area to see if anyone's holding a fireworks sesh!

3. Visit another city/country

I'm not saying you have to go to the other end of the world but going just out of your hometown for the evening or weekend sort of resets your batteries and will get you pumped for the New Year. New places you haven't been to before will make the occasion all the more special. There's always some last minute offers online, just be sure to keep an eye on your travel as there's always likely to be problems over the festive period.

4. Splurge out on a once in a lifetime event

NYE only comes round once a year so why not splurge out? Perhaps 2016 for you has been a fantastic year or an absolute diabolical one and either is a perfect excuse to really go out with a bang this year. In London, there's packages for most places in the big town such as The Shard where they offer a 360 degree view of London, a complimentary glass of champagne and goodie bag, whilst being entertained by a DJ all for just £195pp. Jesus.

5. Pop down to your local pub

A local bar or pub that you usually go to, might be throwing open it's doors for the special night so if you don't want to push the boat out too much, glam up and get yourself down there for a few bevvies! Also if you live within walking distance of your local then there's no worry about having to get back or ordering an expensive taxi.
Two glasses of fizz

6. Put your feet up and stay in

With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, you may find one more evening of stuffing your face and drinking the fizz just too much. Why not stay in, put your feet up and watch a couple of movies either on your own or with loved ones. I think this is one I want to try one year!

7. Go Ice Skating

I love seeing all the ice skating rinks that are set up all over the country around Christmas. We haven't managed to go this year but I believe that a lot of Ice Rinks are still open on New Years Eve so why not find an ice skating rink nearby and get skating! Whether you fall on your bottom several times or you shown off some show-stopping moves, I'm sure you'll be able to celebrate your efforts with a mulled wine or cider afterwards nearby.

8. Have A Games Night

A lot of families tend to play various games over Christmas. Most of the time, they end up in tears with our family but they can provide us with a moment to play together and it always makes me feel super festive.
Fireworks

What are your plans for New Years Eve? Let me know in the comments below!






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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Fitness Tips For 2017

I know, I know...thinking of doing exercise after the Christmas food binge does feel like an impossible task but working out can help to pull you out of that sluggish feeling, so you feel prepared for 2017. I've been working on my New Years Resolution bucket list and I've made an important point to work on feeling more healthy. Over the past few months I've suffered with low energy which I think comes from the late nights and actually not going to the gym. I always find a good workout sessions makes me feel so much better! So here's a few fitness tips to help you ease into 2017.

Don't Overdo It

A woman stretching
The worst thing you could do after avoiding the gym during Christmas is to go back and as my housemate would say 'go balls to the walls'. HA! What I've learnt from working out with Sean (my housemate) is to separate the workout. For the first session back, I'd try an ab focused work out and something cardio related which can be running on the treadmill, cycling or rowing. The stair stepper is also a great one to use! By taking it slowly and easing yourself in means that you won't burn yourself out and lose the motivation to go back again. However, listen to your body - you may be a regular gym goer, so do as much as you can without overdoing it!

Warm Up

Man getting out of pool
I still fall victim to this, normally when I'm on my own in the gym in that I don't warm up properly. Warming up is definitely important to the whole work out process as it loosens up the muscles and get's them ready for whatever exercise you're doing. It also avoids any injuries and strain that you'll be putting on your body, in order to reduce the post workout muscle ache! However I think leg day is the only workout where I'm always overworking the muscles and therefore am unable to do anything with my legs for the next 3 days...

Spend More Than 20 Minutes Working Out

Picture of clock
Gym memberships can be very expensive and for anyone who regularly goes the gym, January is the month where EVERYONE gets a gym membership in order to stick to their New Years Resolution. Most of the time it never lasts but when you do end up doing a workout, whether it's in a gym, at home or outside - spend more than 20 minutes exercising. I believe 20 minutes is the point at which you actually start burning calories so on average I spend around an hour or so working out. It is a hard task but once you've done it, you'll feel so much better than just doing a very quick and lacklustre session.

Adapt Your Eating Habits

Apples
Unfortunately, just working out isn't enough if you are looking to tone up or lose weight. It's important to also adapt your eating habits. If you aren't eating in moderation and consuming just junk food, no matter how much you work out, you'll probably still feel sluggish and won't have the same energy as you would to work out if you ate well. Start by moderating the amount of food you are eating and then cut it down if you find yourself overloading your plate. It's more to do with moderation than anything. Also eating foods rich in energy and protein will help perk up your energy levels, increasing the motivation we all need to get off our butts and work out.

Give Yourself Praise

Raspberry Heart
Doing exercise, especially after the festive period is tough enough, without the hassle you end up giving yourself. If it's your first time working out, don't be disheartened if you don't start seeing results. It takes time and more importantly, you need to do it at your own pace. Comparing yourself to others isn't what you want from this. Feeling healthier, fitter and doing it in your own time is what will help you reach your desired results.

Are you planning on hitting the gym for 2017? Let me know in the comments below.






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Monday, 26 December 2016

Snapshots Of Christmas

Christmas Day passed by in a blur of scrumptious food with loved ones, the traditional family game and lots and lots of alcohol. Christmas for me is no longer about the presents, it's more to do with the time you spend with loved ones because sadly life is precious and we have to appreciate those around us who love us. These are just a few snapshots from our Christmas Day.
Christmas Day Makeup
Dear Santa Pyjama Top
As I'd mentioned in my blog the other day, I went with my Christmas Day makeup which was all about the shimmer and red lips. I also wore my 'Dear Santa I Can Explain...' pyjama set. We woke up at around 8.30am which is now considered a lie in compared to previous years when Alfie was still young enough to believe in Santa. As my grandparents alternate between us and our Auntie's for Christmas dinner/tea, it was just the five of us for the dinner and then they came later on for the buffet tea.
Christmas tree bauble
Table laid out
Window decorations
Mum and brother
We visited our next door neighbours and watched their kids open the remainder of their presents, some of which were an updated version of what I used to get as a kid. Who knew that Furbies for example, had become so technologically advanced?! After the visit, we sat down to eat the iconic Christmas Dinner and like always, it didn't disappoint.
brother
Christmas Dinner
I mean look at how beautiful this looks?! I think most people look forward to the pigs in blanket and I do love the massive amount of stuffing I tend to load on my plate. YUM.

Did you have a lovely Christmas? Let me know in the comments below.






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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas Day Makeup Look

A BIG MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU FROM UPYOURVLOG!

As I'll be busy eating all the food and drinking all the Bucks Fizz, I knew I wouldn't have time over the festive period to write blog posts so this a post written in the past. For Christmas Day, I thought I'd show you what I would be wearing makeup wise for the festive day. As you may now realise, I have to wear the colour red so I've opted for a red lippy (much like every year). So let's get started on this Christmas Day Makeup Look.
Selection of makeup
MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder | Sephora Contouring 101 Face Palette | Makeup Revolution Beyond Flawless Eyeshadow Palette | Sleek Diamonds In The Rough Eyeshadow Palette | Rimmel The Only One Matte Lipstick | Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner | Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation | Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer | MUA Pro-Brow Palette | Collection Supersize Fat Lash Mascara

Before I apply the foundation, I apply a small helping of Lush's Vanishing Cream which is a fine cream that quickly soaks into the skin, leaving it feeling hydrated and prepped for foundation. I notice a big difference to how my skin feels when I don't apply the cream. The cream also helps keep fine lines at bay so if you're at my age where you can put off the wrinkles for a while, then this is definitely a cream you'll want!
Foundation
I apply my foundation with my Real Techniques Beauty Blender. I love this little sponge as it's perfect for applying my make-up evenly. A tip for this would be to dab the foundation into the skin rather than to swipe it over. I find it soaks into my skin more rather than just sitting on top. After applying Rimmel's Wake Me Up Foundation in the shade White Porcelain, I go in with the Wake Me Up Concealer in the shade Ivory and apply a generous amount to the under eye creating two upside down triangles. I apply a line to the middle of the nose, the space in between my eye brows and on the few blemishes/spots that are currently inhabiting on my face.
Concealer
Using my Sephora Contouring 101 Face Palette, I use a mixture of the two lighter powdered shades to brush over the foundation and concealer to create a matte finish. I also do this as it helps blend in my contouring. I use the lightest dark shade in the palette initially. Less is definitely more with this palette and I use a small amount on a Real Techniques Contour Brush, sweeping back and forth in line to where my earlobe ends. This sculpts your cheek bones, creating more depth. I also lightly dust some of it around the edge of my face and down the sides of my nose and blend in.
Contouring
Contouring on cheeks
For the eyes, at the moment I'm alternating between the Makeup Revolution Flawless Eyeshadow Palette and the Sleek Diamonds in the Rough Eyeshadow Palette. I use the left hand side below (and you can tell because of how worn down they are!) for the base of my eyeshadow. These varying shades of brown are perfect for building darkness on the outer corners of my eyes. I then normally use the glittery toffee brown to build on the inner corners of the eye lid. The Sleek eyeshadow palette also has some beautiful glittery numbers that work perfectly well with the Makeup Revolution palette.
Eyeshadow
I love Collection's range of mascaras and I believe these are the best value for money if you want mascaras that build a little body to the eyelashes. As I've been blessed by my parent's longer eyelashes, the Supersize Fat Lash Mascara is perfect for giving a bit more definition to my eye makeup.
Mascara
Highlighter is probably one of my favourite new make-up products that I've been trying out on my skin. I've found that using your fingers is probably the best way of applying this MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder. It's in the shade Pink Shimmer and adds a healthy blush shimmer to the upper cheek bones and I also like to use this on top of my eyeshadow just underneath my eyebrows. I sometimes add a little to my cupids bow and tips of my upper lip to add a bit more oomph to my lips.
Highlighter
Finally it's the finish to my Christmas Day look and the most important. I'm currently using Rimmel's The Only One Matte Lipstick in the shade Take The Stage and the Exaggerate Lip Liner in the shade Red. I just love matte lipsticks and this deep, luscious red is perfect and not too harsh on my pale complexion.
Lipstick
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and I hope you have the best Christmas with all your loved ones no matter who they are or where you are!
Full makeup look
close up of makeup






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Saturday, 24 December 2016

The Moment I Found Out Santa Was My Dad

The moment I found out Santa was my dad. Yep.
Dad
This guy right here, several years ago, broke the childhood illusion that Santa was in fact real and lived at the North Pole with all his reindeer. I'll set the scene. I was lying in bed one Christmas Eve, the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning, seeing all the presents that Santa had left for me under the tree. As a tradition, the earlier we went bed the better (my parents probably saw this as a godsend) and I'd remember getting into bed and it taking hours to actually get to sleep because I was just so damn excited!

At this point, I think I was sharing a bunk bed with my younger brother as my youngest brother had just been born. Our door was partially open and I was sleeping on the top bunk with my head closest to the door. All of a sudden the landing hall lights popped on and I heard a distinct rustling coming from my parents room. Hushed whispers from my mum to my dad were inaudible and I remember feeling confused as to why they were awake after only just turning in for the night (see, I told you it took ages to get to sleep). 

All of a sudden, I see my dad walk past our door and in disbelief I look down to what he's holding in his hands - massive bags stuffed full of presents.

No. No. No. NOOOOOO!!!
Santa Chocolate
It's Christmas Eve and my dad is holding presents that should right now be in Santa's sleigh making it's merry way around the world. Instead? My parents are sneaking downstairs with their hands full and I'm left dumbfounded in my bed. Merry Christmas Natalie!

Looking back on this memory, I have to laugh because the whole scene was hilarious. My dad trying his very best to be quiet whilst mum hurries him along the hallway.

At the time, I was devastated obviously but it's a moment that myself and my parents share and I'm always mentioning it to those when the topic of 'When did you find out Santa wasn't real?' comes up.

When did you find out Santa wasn't real? Let me know your stories in the comments below.






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Friday, 23 December 2016

Blogmas - Organic Aromas Essential Oils

You may have heard me mention Organic Aromas before on my blog but I did a blog review of their diffuser a while back. I've loved using their diffuser as an alternative to candles and I was excited when they got back in touch to let me know that they're new collection of essential oils were now available to try out.
Essential Oils
This is the Elements Premium Essential Oil Blend Collection and it costs £87.00 for a total of 10 oils which works out at £8.70 each. Yes, it appears quite pricey but you only have to use 3-4 drops of oil at a time in the diffuser and that probably lasts for a good 12 hours.
two boxes of oils
The oils are beautifully packaged and come in two different boxes labelled Awaken and Inspire. Both can actually be bought separately but I was kindly gifted both. 
Awaken Essential Oils
Awaken Collection - Harmony | Celebration | Jubilation | Butterflies Breath | Morning Bloom
The Awaken Collection is a mixture of scents that are refreshing, zingy and cleansing. I prefer these oils to the Inspire collection as it's a lot more me in fragrance.
Inspire Essential Oils
Inspire Collection - Formosa | Meditation | Welcome Home | Pacific Northwest | Ocean Breeze
The Inspire Collection is a lot more powerful and muskier in some of the blends, using heavier ingredients such as Cedarwood, Bergamot and Nutmeg. I find these oils can be pretty intense if I've got the diffuser on the highest setting but if you are like me and you need a quick blast of fragrance then using an oil diffuser is a quicker and more effective alternative to using candles.
Three Essential Oils
I've not managed to try out all of these oils in the diffuser yet but I've found a few favourites already. From the Awaken range, my top three were Harmony, Butterflies Breath and Morning Bloom. Harmony has a sweet scent with some of it's key ingredients being Lemon, Chamomile and Lime. Butterflies Breath is probably my favourite. Jasmine is the prominent scent in this one and would be great to diffuse over the summertime. Morning Bloom is the more muted of the three and not too intense. It's made up of Sweet Orange and Ylang Ylang which is a anti-depressant, leaving your spirits lifted and awakened!
Three Essential Oils
The Inspire collection was my least favourite but I still managed to find a few that I liked. Meditation has an intense smell which I think is from the cloves in the mixture. It also has Rosewood and Patchouli which are both quite strong in fragrance. Pacific Northwest has oils such as Pine, Cederwood and Patchoulli and Ocean Breeze was my favourite of the three. This contains Lime, Peppermint and Eucalyptus so it's the perfect calming and refreshing aroma.

You can buy both of these sets from Amazon here for £87.00 or they can be bought separately, with both the Inspire Collection and the Awaken Collection at £46.00 each.

What do you think of these essential oils, have you used oils before? Let me know in the comments below.






Disclaimer - I was gifted these products in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

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