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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

K2A - Foaming Face Cleanser

Am I jinxing it or could the sunny weather be finally gracing the beautiful country that is the UK? Trust it to turn to torrential rain and bitterly cold winds from now on..soz guys, my bad.

With our bedroom fan on all night and officially set to option 3 (the highest setting), I feel as though Summer is definitely coming and with that, I wanted a change to my skincare regime. At the moment I've been using Garnier Micellar Cleanser to remove my makeup and slap on some La Roche Posay K+ Cream to soak in whilst the fan blasts it's heavenly cool bliss over my body.  But I feel as though I'm missing something and that's where this foaming face cleanser comes in from K2A Skincare.
Cleanser and packaging
K2A packaging
I wanted something gentle, that smelled good and left my face feeling calm and clean. K2A's Foaming Face Cleanser is made up of natural ingredients, and none of their skincare range is tested on animals. Containing Feverfew, Red Seaweed & Bergamot Oil, this almost golden-like elixir turns into a whippy soft cream that foams up every time you rub it over the skin. I genuinely stood in the mirror for about 10 minutes proving this point to myself, much to my fascination. I know right, sad.

Now I just about go all cray cray for natural ingredients because finally, the beauty world is starting to confuse us less with all those pesky elements that we have NO CLUE as to what they are. Bergamot Oil is more commonly found in perfumes and deodorants but it is also an antiseptic and even is used as an antidepressant.  
K2A Bottle
I absolutely love the smell of Bergamot Oil because of it's sweet and citrusy smell. One of the cleanser's other components, Red Seaweed is actually one I'm not familiar with when it comes to seeing it in beauty products. Seaweed, of course, is packed full of nutrients, minerals and antioxidants and it's these antioxidants that help nourish the skin and keeps the protective barrier of your skin strong

The final ingredient is Feverfew. One that you would probably go...err whah? and then Google to find out what it is. Which obviously is something I definitely did not do... 

Feverfew is commonly more known as the white chamomile and helps reduce swelling and redness in the skin, something that's probably pretty handy for the hot weather and all that sunburn us Brits are likely to get at some point.
Face Cleanser up close
Face Cleanser rubbed on skin
The bottle contains 150ml and is £19.00, which to be honest is pretty good for a product that's probably going to last you through until the end of Summer. I'm definitely going to be using this for the rest of the season and it's the perfect balance for what I'm after during the hot spells!

Make sure you check out their range here.

*Disclaimer - I was gifted this product in return for my own honest opinion. 






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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A Day In Richmond

So last weekend, we went to Richmond to watch one of Sam's friends play the lead role in Footloose The Musical as part of it's UK Tour. It stars Pop Idol finalist Gareth Gates and Maureen Nolan from the band, The Nolans. We decided to head into Richmond a lot earlier on in the day as this was actually my first time in the town and we wanted to have a little explore, as well as a bite to eat.
Richmond Theatre
Richmond Theatre
We arrived in Richmond in the mid-afternoon and immediately went to seek out a coffee shop. We came across Coffeology which seemed very trendy and hipster. It was a cute little space, with very delicious-looking cakes (most going for the healthy alternative). They unfortunately didn't do syrups so I couldn't have my go-to Caramel Latte. Instead I went for a Chai Latte which was actually super delicious.
Signage
Coffeeology Shop
Photo credit - jaybeecee

I loved the rustic feel to the shop too and if there were spaces we probably would have sat down. However, it was a Saturday afternoon so unfortunately we had to have them to take away.
Coffee Cup
With hot drinks in hand, we meandered around the shops buying a few candles for the flat and wandered on along the river. It was actually a very pretty day, slightly windy but still warm in parts. Lots of afternoon drinking was going on at the pubs that we passed but Sam had been recommended a place called Steins to eat and drink so we headed there. 

Steins is a Bavarian outdoor restaurant which actually used to be an ice-cream parlour. They converted this into what it is today and we decided to go for two German inspired dishes. I went for the Currywurst which was absolutely delicious and filled the gap just nicely. We also went for a Stein of beer/lagar each which upon reflection was not the greatest of ideas - seeing as we were seeing a theatre show in a few hours. However, I think the food beforehand soaked up a lot of the alcohol.
Steins Restaurant
View of Richmond River
Before and after drinking
Currywurst Meal
Suffice to say, you can tell the beer had hit Sam in that before and after photo!

We then stumbled onto Richmond Theatre to watch Joshua Dowen (follow him on Twitter here) play Ren in Footloose. The show was amazing and I loved every bit of it. We'd seen Joshua before play in a smaller theatre so to see him perform in a 900-odd seat theatre was a very proud moment!

Make sure you check out if this musical is coming to a town near you. 

Have you ever been to Richmond before? Let me know in the comments below.


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Monday, 29 May 2017

Highs & Lows | Week 5

Oh what a week right? The recent attack is just another reminder of what a cold world we live in. However, they are the minority and with each attack, we get stronger and we get more determined not to let this stop us from living our lives to the fullest. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered from the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester.

Highs ↑

It definitely feels wrong to even celebrating the highlights of this week but then again, that's just what these cowards want us to feel. So celebrate your wins and live your lives in honour of those who have lost theirs.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - On The Town


So myself and Sam visited the Regent's Open Air Theatre the other night to see On The Town, starring the all-singing and all-dancing Danny Mac, alongside the talented cast of the show. The performance was fantastic seeing as it was only in it's preview stages (and had also suffered a cast member being injured - see here). The lighting was amazing, especially as it was lit to work alongside the natural daylight. The set was amazing and the actual theatre as a whole was so cool, especially when you could hear the birds chirping ever so often.

Feeling Political


Definitely feeling good about politics at the moment - which is something I'd never hear myself saying. I hope the party I'm voting for wins and I think it's so important to vote which is only something I've recently realised myself. 

Lows ↑

Manchester Attack


I think we've definitely become used to hearing about terrorist attacks, especially within the past year or two but it still brings it home when it's right on your doorstep. The Manchester attack that took place on the 22nd May '17, has hit hard but the determination to not let it stop us from living is definitely evident. I think it's even harder when it involves young kids too because these are individuals who haven't even had the chance to live yet and it's been cruelly snatched away from them by people who think they have that right. But you will not defeat us. Love always wins and triumphs over hate every time.

Wedding Dress Struggles


Just to warn you before you jump to conclusions, no I'm not getting married but yes I'm having issues finding a dress for my friend's wedding which is NEXT WEEKEND! Trust me to leave it last minute. I have recently got one from Misguided but its #waytoobooby for a day service. I'm going to have to do a last-minute shop next week and hope to Jesus that he leads me to the perfect dress. Come on Oxford Street, find me a dress!

Funeral Time


My great, great uncle (I know right?) passed away recently from dementia the other week. It was hard to hear especially as I'm really close to my Aunt. I also see dementia as being one of the worst diseases out there. It must be so hard to see your other half/family member or friend losing their memory and having to deal with them not recognising who you are. So, as much as I hate them, I need to go to the funeral to support my Aunt and give her as much love as possible.

Tell me about your week in the comments below!


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Friday, 26 May 2017

Father's Day Gift Guide


Darren Redman. Yes - my dad. 

This dad is beyond one of the best. He's caring, laid back and is C-R-A-Y C-R-A-Y. I often ask myself where I get my weird sense of humour and I only have to spend a few hours with daddy Redman to realise where indeed it comes from...

In preparation for Father's Day, I thought I'd share some gift ideas for the parental figure in your life. Whether it's biological or not, be lucky to have them!

For The Dad Who Likes A Pamper


Shaving Kit
Shaving Kit
Shaving Kit
Shaving Kit
In this ever-changing industry of beauty and fashion, you can now get a subscription box for all things shaving. Why not treat your papa to a box stuffed full of products to preen and prep his beard (or lack of). The Personal Barber offers only the finest of shaving products and this box came with a razor, replaceable blades, a face scrub, facial moisturiser, shaving brush and a honey fragranced shaving soap that smells so delicious, I'm tempted to eat it. The subscription starts from £24.95 a month so it's a great little taster for your dad to trial out. Buy the box here.

For The Arnold Schwarzenegger Dad


Dumbbells
My dad has recently been obsessing over the gym and to be honest, I'm pretty jealous that he's got the motivation to go. If your dad is a lover of all things metal, how about bringing the gym home? For example, the Bowflex® SelectTech® Dumbbell gives you 15 weights in one! With an adjustable weight range of 2-24kg, this dumbbell gives you the same powerful results you’d get from 15 pairs. Massively space-efficient, it’s a fantastic home fitness solution.

For The Fashionable Dad


If your dad has more clothes than you do - I mean then something is wrong y'all! There are so many options out there from the usual high-street stores to the more quirky options. If your dad has more holes in his socks than...a wheel of holey cheese then you can sign him up to a sock subscription box. Yep, there's even a subscription box for socks now.

For The Movie Buff Dad


4K TV
If you want to splurge out, 4K TVs have become a major game changer. Panasonic's range is high-spec and the quality is out of this world. I've seen a lot of these TVs in the flesh and they are mind-boggling. Who knew that technology could become this advanced?! 

4K Ultra HD TVs don’t just look much sharper than their HD counterparts, they allow more colours to be displayed than ever before. Thanks to so-called Wide Colour Gamut 10-bit displays and HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology they are capable of conveying more colour than has ever been possible before before. This extended colour space allows an Ultra HD TV screen to more closely replicate the kind of vibrant hues you see at the best digital cinemas. Which is why 4K Ultra HD TVs look so cinematic. - Panasonic

For The No-Fuss Dad


Those dads out there who want no fuss are possibly the hardest to shop for. I mean why can't they just give us a clue?! For this type of dad, sometimes it's best to think about who you dad is as a person. Anything from hobbies, to his lifestyle can hopefully give you a clue of what could be a great gift. It doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg, gifts that come from the heart are, of course, the most special.

How do you celebrate Father's Day? Let me know in the comments below.

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





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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Engagement Ring 101 – Your Guide To Creating A Custom Ring

Engagement Ring
Image by DELLAPHOTOGRAPHY via Flickr
Engagement ring shopping is a scary prospect for most people, especially if you want to find a unique, one-of-a-kind ring to pop the question with. So, we’ve made things easier with our guide to choosing a custom engagement ring.

1. First, do research.


It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different engagement and diamond ring terms, prices, and qualities, as well as styles. The best place to start is online by browsing a broad range of different designs. If you know that your fiancé-to-be has her heart set on a specific shape, you can cut right to the chase and start looking at that shape. Make a list of the styles and shapes you and her like so you have a good idea when designing the ring.


2. Make an appointment with a jeweller.


Having a set appointment is a good way to ensure the jeweller has the time to meet with you. Have your information ready and even take your future fiancé or a family member or friend along with you. You and the jeweller can go over your short list of desired shapes and styles. It’s worth noting that sometimes what you have in mind won’t translate well on her hand, so be prepared for a few things to possibly change during the appointment. Jewellers like Simon West Fine Jewellery offer one of a kind handmade diamond engagement rings in Melbourne so you can surely find the perfect ring for her.

3. The shape of the centre


You need to have a general idea of the shape your beloved will prefer. For instance, narrowing down your top picks to oval and cushion makes it easier than going through shape after shape when you meet with the jeweller. At this point, you don’t have to think about the budget, since the price will be determined by the quality and size of the centre diamond and then worked towards your budget. Once you pick a shape, try it on her hand, if she is shopping with you, and compare it to other options.

4. Pick the style.


Take a look through the different styles the jeweller offers if you don’t have any in mind. Here’s what to consider:

  • Colour of the metal – Do you want yellow gold, rose gold, platinum, white gold, or another type of metal? What suits her skin tone? 
  • Double edge or single halo – If you want extra sparkle, a double edge halo adds an additional trim of diamonds to the edge of the halo. For something simpler, go for a single halo.
  • The attachment – This is how the diamond and halo will connect in the shank. For a classic design, choose a 4-stem attachment, and for more stability and flow, add a cathedral which acts as shoulders to connect the halo on either side.
  • Setting height – How high do you want the halo to sit off the ring? 
  • The band – Choose your desired style for the band.



5. Finger size


Make sure you have her finger size to ensure the ring will fit snuggly and the diamond remains upright. Once you have these steps in place, you can start planning the proposal!

*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post.




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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Next Thing You Know - Starbuck Theatre Company

Starbuck Theatre Company was established in September 2014 and is run by Artistic Director, Sarah Pavlovs. The company is an exciting Midland's based Theatre Company, with a Youth Theatre Company for 4-21 years old, which trains in acting and musical theatre in Worcestershire.

I went to see their production of Next Thing You Know which was performed by the adult section of the company. I'd seen them before in a performance of The Guide To Being Single, a new musical comedy which had a similar storyline to this one.
A couple in love
Next Thing You Know wakes you up to the reality that life passes by within a moment. Before you know it, you've got a full-time job, a partner who wants to settle down and the prospect of hangovers that last a lifetime. The story follows Waverly, played by Sarah Pavlovs herself who has just recently got a promotion from the law firm she works at. As a result, she's in a position where her acting career could be in jeopardy. Struggling to figure out what she wants, her partner Darren doesn't understand why it's so hard. Darren is an aspiring writer (played by Jack-Scott Walker) by night but works in sales by day alongside Casanova Luke played by our good friend Alex McDonald-Smith

The cast including Dru Stephenson who plays Lisa, Waverly's partner in crime and recently turned lesbian, took to the stage at Camden's Etcetera Theatre, which is an intimate space above a pub called The Oxford Arms.

The Space


The space was obviously very small so this possibly limited the way the performers could move about on stage. The direction was well thought out though and they made good use of entries and exits, distinguishing the scenes well with the lighting. The lighting, however, did at points come on a little late but was well handled by the actors who waited patiently until the lights came up. 

The Music


The music was very well done considering there was only a piano on stage and the strings were I believe somewhere behind the stage. Considering this was only three instruments, the music filled out quite well and it didn't feel empty. The Musical Director was Chris Corcoran who was a talent on keys and definitely deserved a round of applause for his performance at the end of the show.

The Cast


The cast was a small but talented bunch. Their performances were played with emotion and the songs within the show were a variety of slow and upbeat numbers. I loved the 'Hungover' number and Alex McDonald-Smith singing 'Morning After Omelet' was hilarious and full of visual innuendos. Luke was a typical casanova character who found it easy to chat and bed women, whereas his work colleague Darren, found it extremely difficult. Alex made his character Luke very likeable even though he was a little bit of a douche bag. I've known Alex from university so there's one comment I will make and that's...corpsing. He knows he does it so he needs to kerb the habit!

Sarah Pavlovs who played Waverly was someone I definitely could relate to. Being an aspiring actor myself, the prospect of having a full-time job and limiting yourself to time you can give as an actor can be extremely daunting but sometimes it's necessary. Sarah had some beautiful moments within the show which really brought back home the message of the story that sometimes life doesn't always pan out the way you want it to. Sarah definitely took her character on a journey of self-discovery and you felt for her every step of the way.
Friendships
Dru Stephenson who played Lisa was a light-hearted relief to some of the more grittier moments. A singer who plays in a local bar and dreams of finding true love, Dru played the character very well and had the comic timing of her lines down to a T. In the end, Lisa moves away to find love and you do feel hopeful that the character will go on to find someone. I think for me to feel this as an audience member, means Dru performed her character very well.

Jack-Scott Walker played Darren and his character definitely experienced the highs and lows, going from being in a relationship where he was ready to settle down to suddenly finding himself single and alone. Jack distinguished this very well and I loved his scene with Luke where they were trying to pick up women and Darren was failing miserably. He stayed true to his character till the very end so you felt like you wanted to give his character a triumphant pat on the back for getting Waverly back.

The Singing


The singing had all the right emotion that you could wish for and I much prefer a performance that's gritty and full of emotion than something that's super polished but has little to engage with as an audience member. Their harmonies were very well placed and I thought the space was perfect for their voices as it allowed them to sing without the use of microphones.


I caught up with Sarah after the performance to ask her a few questions about how she felt the show went. Take a read below!

What were your reasons for picking this musical?


When choosing a musical I always pick one that I personally have a passion for or that touches me in some way, be it through the story, characters, or music. If I'm going to hopefully make an audience love it I want to give it the time and love it deserves. I'd done 'I love you because' (written by the same team) a couple of years ago and was lucky enough to be in touch with the writer Ryan Cunningham. He'd suggested 'next thing you know' as a future show. It appealed to me and seemed right for my company as it's another small cast fringe show (I always wanted to do this type of show as I like bringing new musicals or 'not well known' musicals to more audiences. I also love working with a small cast and building good relationships where we all know each other well enough as people and performers we not only enjoy the experience more on the stage but also then can have believable connections for an audience) I think there are moments in NTYK that most people in the audience can relate to- the idea of growing up and making choices, not wanting to look back with a view of 'I could have done that' . I especially liked the friendship in this show between Lisa and Waverley. The more we explored the limited script (that was the hardest part at first - to develop the characters as much as we could as scenes are so short) Lisa came out as gay at 24 leaving Darren to be a lesbian- he has been with Waverley for 4 years (they are both 28) having first got together one drunken night in the toilets at the bar. This meant that actually Waverley and Darren maybe drew comfort from each other over this apparently shocking news, or she was in some ways his rebound he's been scared of losing ever since. the show also has some great comic moments. I like how some songs are so relatable to the audience- be it hungover, or with 'the way to get a girl' pretending you're in a relationship, as a few of my newly single male friends have said recently how true it is that you only seem to be able to attract other when you're in a relationship! However what I also liked about this show was that it isn't just a quick fix happy ending. There's a line at the end which says 'dear god please tell me what comes next' which shows how really we're all just trying in life to make the right decisions, and even though Waverley has chosen Darren, and given up on acting, and Lisa is moving away, and Luke is newly single- none of them really are certain they've made the right choices.


What were some challenging moments that you or other cast members found during both the rehearsals and the performance?


It was such a quick turn around at the venue - get in at 6, show at 7, show finishes at 8.29 and out by 8.45. It would have been nice to 'bed it in' a bit more. As we were told on the day we couldn't use an exit we'd used the previous day in our 2-hour rehearsal so we had to restage a couple of bits very last minute.

I suppose the only other challenge in rehearsals was my ridiculous giggling fits! And that actually is something I also love about this company- how much laughter is in the rehearsal room and the bonds we make. Everyone involved in every show in Starbuck, from cast, lighting, sound, band- Everyone is important and we all get on, and I'd like to think the audience can take at least a little of the joy we have making the pieces home with them from the shows.

What did you think of Camden and the Etcetera theatre?


I've done all my shows in small fringe venues in the Midlands and London (previous ones include the Old Joint Stock, bham and Tabard Theatre Chiswick) I like taking the shows to different fringe venues to allow different audiences to see the pieces, with venues I think the shows may fit. We did NTyK previously at the Worcester Arts Workshop which is like an underground cavern studio space none of the cast has ever performed in Camden. And the place with its boho exciting feel for me drew me to it as it seemed to fit Waverley's arty idealistic view of life, of wanting that buzz to continue.How did you find performing in a small space?

What’s next for Starbuck Theatre Company?


For us adults, we're performing NTYK again on Nov 3-4 at the Old Joint Stock in Bham. We haven't chosen a show after that yet, but I'm in chats with a couple of people about a few potential shows and projects. Although we also have a fundraiser on June 10th in Worcester.

What's been the most recent piece of theatre you've seen? Let me know in the comments below.






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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Highs & Lows | Week 4

So with the UK Elections coming up soon, I had to bump this one forward a day. However, can you believe that I'm actually keeping this up? To be honest I rather enjoy it just because it's one of the only things I'm being consistent with so far! Go me!
Man holding drinks

Highs↑

New Glasses


So I bit the bullet and went into Specsavers (where I've recently started their scheme) which entitles me to free frames anywhere between £25-£45. I've also gone for the super thin lens because I'm pretty much as blind as a bat and a normal lens would pretty much create the heaviest glasses in all the land. So £95 later, I've got some thick chunky black frames on their way to me for this Friday. I'm so excited to actually start wearing glasses again because I want to be able to give my eyes a little rest from wearing contacts all the time.

A Day In Richmond


Myself and Sam visited Richmond on Saturday and for me, it was the first time. We shopped for candles in Zara Home, brought coffee from Coffeology and had a couple of Steins of beer/lager at a placed called Steins. Expect to see a post up of our day out sometime soon! We also went to see one of Sam's friends play Ren in Footloose The Musical which was fantastic and I highly recommend you book it if it comes to your town!


Next Thing You Know


We saw Sam's old drama teacher from school perform 'Next Thing You Know', a musical as part of her drama company Starbuck Theatre. It was performed in a small upstairs pub theatre in Camden and it was a great show with both great music and singing. It's great to see theatre from up north, making it's way into London theatres no matter how big or small they may be. Expect to see a review of the show too soon on UpYourVlog.


Lows↓

Recovery Process


It was one of my best friend's hen do last weekend and it's taken me this long to actually recover from it. I don't mean that I had a 7-day hangover but I've been exhausted, a lot more than usual. I'm looking forward to the wedding in a couple of weeks but I might need to have the prepare myself for another week of recovery! Dammit, I'm ageing too quickly!

Too Much Alcohol


I definitely need to have a dry spell on the non-drinking waggon because I am consuming a little too much alcohol at the moment. I don't think it's great for my fitness either, especially as I'm trying to get back to the gym. I think I might have a dry month of just not drinking but with so many occasions coming up, when do I start?

RuPaul NO!


If you don't know what RuPaul's Drag Race is then you're missing out on life itself. A drag queen competition that's more or less a mickey take of America's Next Top Model, has been my favourite show of all time for the past two-three years. I've watched all the Seasons and currently on Season 9. Now I have been rooting for Valentina since the beginning. She's gorgeous and steals the show for me. However, in this week's episodes, she had a knockback and ended up in the bottom two where they have to 'lip-sync for your lifffffeeee'. She didn't know the words and I was heartbroken for her when she left.

Damn it RuPaul, bring her back!

That's all for this week! What have your highs & lows been? Let me know in the comments below.





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Monday, 22 May 2017

Think Of Your Future - 22nd May '17

Voting.

A couple of years back, if you'd asked me if I voted I would have turned around and laughed in your face. I mean not maliciously of course but in that 'ha are you kidding me?!' sort of way.

Don't get me wrong, I know that women have fought and died for the right for me to vote but I was so adamant that my vote counted for nothing and that our government was a load of toffs who couldn't be trusted. #itstruethough
Poll Cards
I still believe that we as a generation don't have enough representatives for our concerns and our worries for the future in parliament at the moment. Instead, it's in the hands of the older generation who to be honest, won't be the ones who have to deal with the repercussions of their actions.

But before I go ahead, I have to say that I am not the most political person - hell I'm the opposite. If there's a news story about the running of our country involving any parties, I tend to just skip ahead and read something a little more light-hearted like the latest bad tattoo on MTV's Just Tattoo Of Us (this show is the bee's knees jus sayin').

So when did all this change? When did I decide to vote? It was actually last year when our nation was given the choice to stay or leave the EU aka Brexit. It was such a close run in the polls that when I went to bed that night, I hoped and prayed that we would still be in the EU the next morning. Turns out though that we'd lost and yes I did vote to stay in the EU.

I was angry and frustrated. It was the first time that I'd actually felt so passionate about something politically motivated. I was distraught that some friends and family had voted to leave. Surely being united was better than being apart?

What made it even more laughable was that those people who voted to leave (and those who sat on the fence) said we should just 'move on' and 'let's all just unite together as a country'.

Er no, let's not. We were and still are clearly divided as a country because the votes were so close to being a 50/50 split. After all this came out, I saw a staggering 28% didn't vote. That's about 13 million people. 
Infographic
But how could I be angry? Only the year before, I was part of that percentage who didn't vote. And I get why those people didn't. I really do.

Recently I saw a tweet where bloggers were planning on spearheading a campaign to get more young people voting and I really wanted to get involved. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for because this is your decision. What I would tell you, is to do some research. Find out more about those parties in government and make a decision on what you feel rather than be influenced by others.

With so much information being thrust in our faces, it is hard to make sense of it all. So if you do find yourself a little overwhelmed, there are quizzes like this one, that can help show you which parties support your views.


So please use your vote. It's important that you have your say and as silly as it may sound, your vote does count. Registration closes tonight at 11.59pm so make sure you do it now by clicking here.

Remember that this is your future so make sure you decide on how it pans out.





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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Tips And Tricks To Boost Your Mornings

Samantha Olivier is talking about the tips and tricks to boosting your mornings here on UpYourVlog. See her last one here. She's currently generating hype before her blog goes live. You can find her on Twitter here.
Coffee Beans
Having a perfect morning routine is crucial for success. It should give you a rush of energy and lots of motivation to face the day’s challenges. More than anything, your morning routine should be something enjoyable, something that puts a smile on your face and makes you jump out of bed every morning, even on bleak December days.

If you start off on the wrong foot, groggy and ill-tempered, you are likely to continue in the same spirit for the rest of the day. If you kick off with positive energy, then the day ahead is bound to be more fulfilling. 

To help you devise your perfect morning routine, we have compiled a number of ideas you can try. Keep in mind that these activities needn’t be long – an effective strategy is to pick several that work for you and make it a habit.

Drink a glass of water with lemon


Begin your day with a glass of water with several drops of lemon. This will give your immune system a boost and supply you with your daily dose of potassium. Moreover, lemons have a range of other positive effects on our bodies - they flush out toxins, freshen your breath, help you lose weight. A useful little hack that you can do in under 5 minutes. 

Do a Short Workout


Do you have trouble summoning enough energy in the morning? If you wake up feeling heavy and dispirited, a 10- or 15-minute workout can come as a lifesaver. Free Android apps like the 30 Day Fitness Challenge can help you maintain motivation and guide you slowly towards better results. 

You’ll find both full-body workouts and exercises aimed at toning specific body parts. As long as it keeps you going, either is great. 

Watch a Motivational Video 


Motivation can be difficult to sustain. One day you accomplish your daily tasks with a sense of purpose, the next you feel uninspired. What could get you going when you hit a low point are lectures from some of the most inspiring and accomplished people in the world (try TED Talks, for example). These talks tend not only to be instructive but also hugely entertaining and they last from 10 to 20 minutes on average. Squeezing in one a day can easily slip into a habit. 

Have Breakfast    


You surely remember your mum pestering you about skipping breakfast in high school. Annoying as it might have been, breakfast is probably the only thing on this list that is essential for everyone. Eating a nutritious, protein-packed meal early in the morning gives your metabolism a boost and keeps you from overeating during the day. Even on the busiest of days, you need to make time for a bowl of cereal, a breakfast bar or something more exotic like avocado toast with a fried egg. If you still have your doubts, why not try out something new, like tasty Optifast shakes?

Create a Fun Activity To-Do List 


In the fast-paced world, we are living in, lives get hectic and time becomes an invaluable resource. Planning activities you want to do on your own or with friends allows you to make the best of each day and make some long-term plans that are just about having fun. No obligations or irksome people on this list, please! Plan activities for letting off steam and unwinding.  

Meditate for 10 Minutes 


Meditation promotes well-being and concentration by having you concentrate on your inner being. Its benefits range from relaxation and improving your focus to cutting stress and increasing self-awareness. Even a short stretch every morning is a guaranteed mood-booster.
   
There is no fool-proof morning routine that works for everyone. Mix and match these ideas to find out what gets you going and then stick to it. 

Thank you for reading Samantha's blog post and be sure to check out her social media that I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post!




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Friday, 19 May 2017

Harry Potter Celebrates 20th Anniversary

So I read recently on Cartridge Save that Harry Potter is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year. Make sure you check out the article here. I know right, rewind...the Harry Potter franchise is 20 years old! Now I know what those adults mean when they say time literally flies by. 

Whenever anyone asks what my favourite book is or what my childhood novel was, it always is and will be Harry Potter. For me, this was the first moment where I completely got lost in books. I read those books so quickly that I managed to read the meatiest one, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in just a week (I managed to read it all whilst on my hols). So I think it's pretty much had a big influence on me, especially during my childhood.
Hogwarts
I thought I'd do a little wizardry Q&A to tell you guys what Harry Potter means to me. 

What's Your Favourite Book Out Of The Series?


It has to be Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire. For me, this was where Harry really got his moment to shine. He never really lost that timidness in him, but from this point, he definitely got stronger and the games definitely made him into the fighter he needed to be for the final book.

Which Character Did You Love The Most?


I think some might assume Hermione but I actually loved Ron. Ron Weasley is pretty much the boy version of me. I can relate to his goofiness and his absolute lack of magic skills (because I know I'd be exactly the same if Hogwarts existed). But most of all, his determination and complete loyalty to his friends and to Hermione, made me fall in love with him. And I mean Rupert Grint is a gorgeous man so...

A Death You Wish Hadn't Happened?


I definitely got upset when Harry's only living relative (well to Harry, he was a relative) was his godfather Sirius Black. I hated J.K Rowling for killing off such a great character for Harry as he didn't get much of a chance to get to know him. Poor boy has been through so much already and then his godfather ends up being totally wiped out by this mysterious Veil - not impressed Rowling, not impressed. Jus' kidding! Not.

The Best Fist Pump Moment?


I mean there's been many throughout the entire series. Hermione's full-on punch in Malfoy's face was a good one and so was the moment that Ron and Hermione finally got it on. However, I think the best was when Molly Weasley said 'Not my daughter you bitch' and proceeded to blow up Bellatrix Lestrange into a million pieces during the final battle. GO MUMMY!
Props


The One Sweet You Wanted Off The Trolley Witch?


Without a doubt, it had to be Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. They just sounded so good! Literally the tastiest flavours to the grim, vomit-inducing ones. They actually exist in reality so I mean I could try them out someday if I wanted to.  

What Would Your Patronus Be?


So I actually tried out Pottermore which is basically the digital heart of the wizarding world and mine came out as a Black and White Cat. I think I identify more with Penguins but hey I'll trust what the computer told me...

What House Would The Sorting Hat Put You Under?


I definitely would want to go to Gryffindor because I mean who wouldn't?! However, if it was the decision of the sneaky Sorting Hat, I would think it would put me in Hufflepuff. There go my chances of being a hero.

Who Would Be Your Favourite Teacher?


I actually think I'd love Severus Snape because, under all that darkness and cold sarcastic front, there was a caring and compassionate person inside. I also loved Alan Rickman and for me, he made Snape into the perfect character. He was everything I expected from the one I imagined whilst reading the books.

Most Memorable Quote?


I mean who can't love Hermoine's quote in the first book...

'Now if you two don't mind, I'm going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed or worse, expelled.'

It's just the delivery of these lines by Emma Watson that makes this quote my favourite and probably one of the most memorable from all the quotes in the series.

One Thing You Hope For The Characters In The Future


Now, fortunately, J.K Rowling has blessed us all with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child so thankfully we sort of know what happens to everyone in the future. I think for me though, I would love Harry to actually discover a family member he never knew he had.

What would be your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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


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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Summer Q&A with Queen Bee

Summer is well and truly on it's way. If you live in the UK however, you'd have thought we were repeating Winter - I mean it's been pretty cold here over the past week. However, I'm ever so hopeful that the heatwave is going to grace itself soon and I can finally be in my natural element. Laura Byrne aka Queen Bee had recently put a shout out on Twitter to work with bloggers and I realised that I want to collaborate with more bloggers rather than just brands. The blogging community is super supportive and I mean how cool is Laura's cartoon version of herself?! I want one!
Queen Bee Cartoon
We came up with the idea of doing a Summer Q&A, so check out my chat with her below.

What's the first sign of Summer for you?


L - As soon as the evenings began to feel longer and the sun begins to appear more often you instantly get the sense that summer is on the way. 

The perfect drink for sitting out in the sun? 


L - Oh that's a tough one. Okay, for sure if it's a crazy hot day, I would love a strawberry daiquiri - that's if I was on a sunny holiday lounging by the pool of course. 

Any holidays planned?


L - I'm so excited to be going on holidays this summer! I'm hitting the big apple aka New York! I'll have to try and not buy too much makeup. - I won't mention Sephora to Laura then!
Ireland


Your go-to beauty look?


L - My go-to make up look has to be burnt orange and red tones to create a smokey eye. The orange shadows compliment anyone with blue eyes. For lipstick I would have to go for a nice burgundy shade and for the rest of my make up I keep it nice and simple. I don't like to apply too much. 

Favourite seasonal fragrance?


L - It has to be my Victoria Secret's strawberries and champagne body spray. Im obsessed with the scent. Oh, or Roger & Gallet perfume in the scent "rose" this perfume smells divine! 

Describe your perfect Summer outfit?


L - My perfect summer outfit would be a denim jacket, jeans cause I live in Ireland and we don't get much sun, and a white t-shirt and a pair of runners just something casual. Maybe if I had an event or something, I would go with a floral print dress. 

How much (or little) SPF do you wear during the Summer?


L - We don't really get much sun in Ireland it's always raining but my foundations all contain SPF and I'm currently using the garnier mist moisture bomb on my face and it contains SPF 30. 
Ireland


Ice Creams or Ice Lollies?


L - Ice cream for sure you can't beat a 99p cone! well I always drop them all over the place so if you ever need me to hold your ice cream cone don't trust me with it. 

Your favourite Summer song?


L - Oh okay this is tough I currently have 3 picks right now and Harry Styles - Sweet Creature, Niall Horan - Slow Hands and Despacito remix with Justin Bieber.

Favourite moment from last Summer?


L - Passing my driving theory test that was a big moment for me. I do enjoy spending time with my family so we would normally go for a drive in the evenings and check out the scenery around us.


Me and Laura certainly have a few things in common (like strawberry daiquiris) and I'm totally jealous of the lush greenery of Ireland.  Make sure you follow this girl on Twitter here and her blog here.


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Why It's Ok To Lose Friends

I had a little moment of reflection the other night about friendship. Friendship is certainly important, right? It can help to have someone on your side whose fighting your corner just for you. They are there when you need picking up and they are with you, celebrating your achievements. A friendship fills you with so much love and pride that you can't possibly imagine life without them. But what happens when you lose friends? Perhaps it came out of the blue and you weren't expecting it. Or maybe you knew that this friendship was falling apart.

Well, you know what - it's ok to lose friendships in your life.

Friendship book
No matter how young or old you are or when you formed the friendship. Sometimes friendships end like relationships do. It doesn't make you a bad person, it's just life and we need to learn to acknowledge it instead of blaming ourselves.

You've Grown Up


University for me was the most exciting, full-on three years of my life. I had my ups and downs, knew what it was like to fall in love, party hard (and sometimes a little too hard), put on a lot of 'uni fat' and graduated with a pretty damn good grade. But more importantly, I made friends that I know I'll forever have in my life. Unlike High School and unlike College, these friendships have been formed on some of the strongest foundations - and what is that I hear you cry? I've grown up. I've learnt to accept who I am and in turn, I've found the right friendships. I didn't expect to lose friendships from my younger years but I realise that at that time, I wasn't myself and I certainly wasn't the person I am today. 

Sometimes You Only See The Good


Friendships can sometimes turn quite toxic and like any relationship, a toxic friendship can turn both parties into someone they're not and it ends up causing a lot of hatred. Whether it's something you did or something they did, sometimes it's just better to call it quits and go your separate ways. At the end of the day, the only thing that will come out of you staying friends is more hurt and more negativity that you just don't need in your life. On the other hand, perhaps the friendship is salvageable but it needs to be built from both sides. You can't have a relationship with yourself after all - well I mean maybe you can.


You Have Your Own Life


Friendships can simply drift apart due to commitments in our own lives. Whether that's having a family, saving for a house or deciding on a change of lifestyle, people have their own crap! Perhaps it's difficult to accept this because your own life feels a little lacking - trust me I've been there. But always remember that we all grow and develop and have achievements at different stages. Live your life for you and not just for those around you. Be selfish, I dare you.

You've Moved Away


I think this is probably the most relatable for myself. Moving to London is still something I struggle with internally, especially as I'm so close to my family. A big part of me wishes that I could just move back home and live out my life where my family are nearby but that wouldn't be who I am. Moving away can mean that friendships are strained or they no longer last but perhaps they were meant for only a period of time in your life?

It's Too Much Work


Ever had a friendship where it feels like your batting in a one-man court? Yeah exactly, it's not fun and it takes a lot of work. It's hard to even call it a friendship when the only one putting in the effort to organise and see the other is yourself. In a way though, it does speak a thousand words about your friendship and whether it really is worth keeping up. I know it sounds brutal to hear but it's never nice to always feel let down and to think that there's not equal value in the relationship. Don't be afraid to confront it.

Don't blame yourself for the friends you've lost in the past. There are many friendships we've yet to forge and so many that we stand to lose. But this is just a part of life and all your friendships count for something. Whether they last a lifetime or if they appear only for a fleeting moment, that's sort of what gives our lives purpose, don't you think?

Who have been your most influential friends? Let me know in the comments below.





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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

How to Experience London like a VIP

London is a magical city, and with the right knowledge, you can get the VIP experience while you’re there. From sight-seeing to partying the night away, London should be a place to remember. So, before you go, consider doing a little planning first. If you know where to go and when to be there, you could bump into the biggest celebrities or have the experience of a lifetime. Here’s what you need to know when you’re planning a trip to London.
London Thames
Image Here

Sight-Seeing


There are many wonderful sights to see in London, with a wealth of history behind them. From Big Ben to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, you’re sure to have your fill. One experience that will allow you to have the full view is the London Eye. You could queue up with the rest of the crowd to get an authentic experience, but if you want the VIP treatment, you have to get a private capsule. Hiring a private capsule means you’ll be able to enjoy the experience alone, with a glass of champagne in your hand. You can even hire a capsule to impress your partner and romance them with champagne and chocolates as you take in the beautiful view.

A Night on the Town


What is a trip to London without dressing to the nines and visiting some of the city’s best bars and restaurants? In London, you’ll find a fantastic variety of cuisines and fine choice of wines for dining. However, if you’re looking to bump into your favourite celebrity or perhaps shake hands with a Royal, like Prince Harry, get yourself on the Mahiki guestlist. You may have noticed the surroundings on pictures the paparazzi have taken. You’ll certainly feel like a VIP here, and you’ll have some fun too!
Theatre Curtains
Image Here

Head to the Theatre


If you’re in London, you can’t miss an opportunity to visit the theatre. Whether you’d swoon over Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare productions or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is more up your street, it’s not to be missed. To get the VIP treatment you can purchase hospitality tickets for the performances. These usually include a meal close to the theatre before the performance, a champagne reception on arrival, tickets and a programme. You can find tickets here.

Brad Pitt Wax Work
Image Here

Madame Tussauds


If you happen to miss seeing your favourite celebrity when you’re out and about in London, there is always another way to get a picture opportunity. Head to Madame Tussauds and you’re sure to find a waxwork of your celebrity crush there. There are certain rules as you walk through the exhibit, but for the most part, you can take pictures next to the wax works. As for the VIP treatment, there’s no need to buy special tickets for this. You’re surrounded by VIP’s anyway!


When you’re travelling through London, the history and glamour of the city alone can make you feel like a VIP. Don’t forget to stop off and do some shopping in Harrods before you leave!

*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post.





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