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Monday, 31 July 2017

Highs & Lows | Week 14

This week's been pretty full on. It's been a week where we've spent lots of time with friends and we've also drunk a lot! As I'm writing this, it's Sunday and it's the last time Love Island will be airing for 2017 (if you don't watch Love Island - well done for having a life). We've got an exciting couple of months up ahead including our well deserved holiday at the end of September. The blogging business for me is going very well at the moment and I've managed to put myself a week or two in advance with blog posts. I'm slowly finding the balance between blogging and having a social life. YES LADS!
Friends

Highs ↑


Double Dating


So two of my best friends got together just over 6 months ago. They're made for each other and the other day, we spent a day with them, taking part in their Alphabet dating game. They each get a letter of the alphabet, taking it in turns and centring the date around that letter. Hannah had the letter D so she did Dungeons and Dragons and made it a double date. We had so much fun and we slept like babies when we got back home on Saturday evening.

Sgarmes Friends


You may have seen them on BBC's Pitch Battle but Sgarmes was a singing group I was part of during some of my time at university. I made some amazing friends from the group and a few came down to London the other day. We spent the evening with them and didn't get back until around 3am the next morning. Never doing that again! Drinking and staying out till 3am, I mean...

London Dungeons


The London Dungeons is a place I've wanted to go to for so long! And it definitely didn't disappoint. It's worth the money and even though it's fairly pricey at £27, the experience is worth it. I wouldn't go back again though as it's one of those things to do once. I think the next time I'd go is if my family goes or when I have my own family.


Lows ↓


Hangover for days


I know I've mentioned this before but every time I get a horrible a hangover it seems to last for days. It's obviously a sign of getting older and not being used to the university lifestyle anymore. Sad times!


What were the highlights of your week? Let me know in the comments below.


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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Interracial Love Endures Everything

Today's post comes from a new guest blogger Nancy Cooper. Love has no colour, it has no age, no disability and no gender. Unfortunately it would be naive to think everyone's views on love has changed. However, there is such a beautiful defiance growing in numbers every day, to show others that love isn't traditional, it's changed for the better. Give this a read and be sure to share the love.
Hands together
Today we see that humanity has really changed its treatment of interracial relationship. As everyone realizes love hasn`t any limits and laws, it was wrong to make them in the first place. Of course, you know there were periods in our history when interracial love was forbidden and was considered as something unacceptable and immoral. But this resistance to confining to what was seen as the norm, courageously got through such difficult periods and now luckily, all this is behind us.

Today we have an incredible opportunity to live in a tolerant society because finally, people have understood that it doesn't matter who you are and what your skin color is. It doesn't matter for love where you are from and what your creed is! Today anything is possible. People of various ages, different social classes, nationality and religion can fall in love without any superstition and condemnation. Love – desirable or unexpected, equal or one-sided, sensual or chaste – rules the world and makes it so fabulous.

I think it's great. I think love, in general, and interracial love particularly is beautiful. Love inspires us to do crazy things and makes us happy. And I know a lot of wonderful interracial couples that live in love and harmony. They stay together and really care about each other no matter what. Nothing can stop them. As proof, you can read famous interracial love quotes or, for example, cute quotes about black love and ensure that the difference in skin color, worship or place of residence isn't a barrier to such an eternal and splendid feeling as love.

One more striking example is a more wider variety of interracial love films. They are so popular and it's even trendy to talk about romantic relationships. The best examples of the films which tell us the love stories about the wonderful power of love battling prejudice are The Bodyguard, 2 Days in New York and Loving. Bodyguard is a real classic of interracial love films. It is a romantic thriller film about a hard working professional bodyguard, Frank Farmer, and about the love story which emerges between him and his client, Rachel Marron, a famous singer.
The Bodyguard
Photo credit 
A historical drama Loving based on a true story, namely, a judicial process of Loving against Virginia can leave nobody indifferent. This is a touching story of Richard and Mildred Loving that were sentenced to imprisonment for interracial marrying. Comedies also bring this theme up with 2 Days in New York. A classy romantic comedy about an artist, Parisian Marion, in the midst of her midlife crisis and her son comes to New York and starts a cozy relationship with a DJ Mingus. But suddenly their relationship is put to the real test when Marion's relatives from France come to New York on their vacations. Oops, what a surprise!


I adore these films and love re-watching them. What films do you prefer? Please let me know in the comments below.




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Friday, 28 July 2017

Digital Detox | ASUS Zenbook 3

Could you go a whole week without the Internet? PAH! Neither can I, but this was a challenge the people at Currys/PC World had asked of me, along with several other brave bloggers.

It seems like such a long time ago since we lived without the internet but I was determined to try and resist the clutches of social media, the world wide web and more importantly my third arm. No, get your mind out of the gutter, I mean my phone. Naughty sausage.
ASUS Zenbook 3
The challenge is in partnership with ASUS and I was given a pre-paid card to use over the two weeks. The tasks were as follows,

Find out what the weather is doing over the course of the week
Check your bank balance one evening at home 
Book tickets to go and see a film that has just come out 
Keep on top of the week’s news
Plan and meet your friends for drinks after work one night. 
Go to a new restaurant or a bar that you’ve not been to before and get there and back without using a map app or your computer
Find out what the scores are for a sports match e.g. football or Wimbledon

Now the first week was definitely tough for me, especially as I panicked the night before, about all the things I use my phone for but even so, I gave it my all.

Week 1


Check the weather


The first task on my list was to check the weather. Now normally, small things like this can be done so easily on my phone. A quick Google search would be able to show me the day's weather no matter where in the world. But instead, I had to watch the 10pm news in order to see my local weather. 

I actually enjoyed watching the news as it's really something I no longer do on a daily basis. We have so outlets in which we're able to get the information quicker, that the traditional ways of watching a weather report have become almost obsolete. 

I did get a bit nostalgic though when the ITV news came on because when I lived back home, the news was always on when we sat down as a family to have dinner. So it's definitely something I didn't think I'd miss.

Checking your bank details


With online banking on my phone, I hardly ever have to walk into a bank. It's crazy to see how reliant we become on our gadgets especially when it comes down to our apps. Normally checking my balance would take seconds but as I had to do this without the Internet I decided to call my bank's telephone service.

At first, I was pretty nervous that I'd be put onto a real human being and they'd ask me a million and one security questions that I'd made up several years ago like 'what's the postcode of your second address in Aberystwyth?' and I'd have no clue and sound like a fraudster. However, it was pretty simple as it was an automated service. I had my balance within a few minutes which was a lot quicker than I initially assumed.
Walking with ASUS Zenbook 3

Booking tickets to a film


This one was pretty difficult because normally I'd just book theatre and film tickets online. Myself and my housemate Sean planned to meet up near Leicester Square for a bite to eat and we then headed to a nearby Picture House cinema. We'd never been before so it was a new place to explore. We booked the tickets via the box office and picked the film from what both myself and Sean had seen over the past few weeks. Spiderman: Homecoming was one Sean was desperate to see and as a Marvel fan myself, we went with this one.
Picturehouse listing
Picturehouse cinema tickets

Keep on top of the week's news


As a regular commuter in and out of Central London, the daily newspapers are free and are the best way of getting the rundown of everything happening in the world. For me, this was probably the easiest of all the tasks, considering I tend to read the Metro every now and then when I'm not socialising on my phone.

I think this was also a task in which I noticed a lot of people attached to some sort of electronic device. It made me feel pretty sad to see so many friends and couples not engaging in conversation and both myself and Sam are also culprits of this. If anything, this has definitely made me be a little more attentive to others in social scenarios because admit it, no one likes taking second place to a piece of technology!

Meet friends after work


Meeting friends out is definitely a task for Google Maps especially when I'm in an area that's new and I have no clue as to where I'm going. I did get a little lost en route, but we managed to find our way successfully to our friend's place of work.

I think what I got from this challenge was how awkward we can be with paper maps, I mean it's not difficult to navigate but we're so used to that little blue pointer guiding us from A to B that we've sort of lost this navigation skill that was taught to us when we were kids.

Go to a restaurant without using a map app


Again, being in London we did have the advantage of having so many different places to choose from, so we had no difficulty in not picking up Google Maps. We went to a steak house and celebrated Sam's Master's degree in style, ordering up a bottle of fizz and chomping down on some delicious sirloin steak.

It was great to have a bit of a blow out meal and with having no use of the internet, it stopped both myself and Sam from picking up our phones and instead we engaged in actual conversation. Go us!
Prosecco
Steak and chips

Catch up on the sports


For the sports (and for anyone who knows me, I'm not that much into watching or keeping up with any kind of sport), I thought my dad could probably help me out with finding out some scores. Also, with Wimbledon going on, I did actually watch it during my lunch break. So another simple task but like most could have been found a lot quicker with just a simple search on Google.

For the second week, I was given the ASUS Zenbook 3 to try out and to do all the tasks again after being back with my good old friend - the internet. This week was much easier although it was slightly strange having access to everything again. I noticed that I was a bit hesitant to check my social media which is possibly a positive reaction as I do spend a lot of time glued to my technology. The guys at Currys/PC World and ASUS wanted to know how I coped without the internet and how I managed with it after going cold turkey for a week.
Natalie browsing on ASUS Zenbook 3
At first, I was pretty nervous. I realised there was so much I used the internet for that would make it more or less impossible to do without it. One thing that I just couldn't do was not checking my e-mails. As a semi-there full-time blogger, I needed to make sure I was checking my emails daily because of working on ongoing campaigns. This was something that I just couldn't avoid.

Throughout the week, I had to stop myself from clicking on my social media apps and I certainly noticed people's addiction to their phones. I completed the tasks well but they all took a little to a lot more time than it would have done if I had the use of the internet. Living in a fast paced city means my time is limited and we're constantly looking for ways of saving time. I think in some instances, the internet would have aided the tasks but in others, it might not have made a difference. 

Using the ASUS Zenbook 3 was very unusual especially as coming back to having the internet, I'm used to working on my MacBook. The Zenbook 3 is smaller, more light weight and is so quick! I loved the little travel pouch it came with and it's so much easier to carry it around with you on the tube and on public transport. I'm not a big fan of Windows 10 but overall this little zenbook packs a punch.

Emotionally, I'm definitely happier in myself, having taken some time away from the digital world. I think it's important to step back from social media because a lot of it creates this intense and often false lifestyle that we are all trying to make happen in our own lives. However, it can be pretty damaging to our mental health and monitoring your time on the internet is not just something kids should do, it should be us adults as well.


Do you think you could do a digital detox? Let me know how you think you'd get on, in the comments below!

*Disclaimer - This post contains PR samples and is a collaborative post with ASUS & CurrysPCWorld. All words are my own.


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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Top 5 European Holidays | Win A Summer Holiday Kit

School's out and for many families, friends, couples, your next door neighbors. They're all jetting off on their Summer holidays. If they are British and have a thirst for sunshine, they'll be travelling abroad, probably making the most out of their European passports whilst we still have the chance to use the fast lanes...

With our holiday just around the corner (who am I kidding, we haven't booked it yet and it's not till the end of September), I thought I'd pick out the best five spots in Europe to holiday this Summer. I've partnered up with Contact Numbers UK to give you the chance to win this essential Holiday Kit to take with you on your Summer holidays. I know, I'm such a babe. If you haven't booked yourself a trip away, do it! Don't let money stop you!
Holiday Kit

Mykonos


This is one place that myself and Sam are currently thinking about. It's one of those dreamy Greek islands that's known for it's popular summer time party atmosphere and it's stunning clear blue seas. You can get some great deals with Thomson Holidays both in advance and last minute. All the Greek islands are worth exploring and with over 6,000 of them to see, you'll be spoilt for choice.

Sunglasses

Rome


Having been there myself, I can personally vouch that this city is beautiful and if you want an active holiday to sightsee, Rome is perfect. With streets steeped in rich history, there's so many little B&Bs located all over the outskirts of the city centre to suit all budgets. Some highlights would be the Pantheon, the Colosseum and of course Vatican City.

Pineapple Tag

Barcelona


Barcelona is another one of those cities where there's plenty of sightseeing and with that comes plenty of walking! Known for it's art and architecture, the famous Antoni Gaudi's creations can be found littered all over the city. The weather is especially hot during the Summer with average temperatures hitting around 30°. TAKE ME THERE NOW!

Beach Towel

Paris


If you want somewhere romantic, Paris is your perfect destination. A popular spot for many tourists, I cannot believe that I still haven't visited Paris myself! The Eiffel Tower is that one landmark that I've always wanted to see in person and with so much tasty food and wine, France is the place to get your food binge fix.

Pool Float

Dubrovnik 


One that I hadn't even thought about until I saw another blogger go recently is Dubrovnik in Crotia. Known for it's distinctive old town and gorgeous views, this city is fast becoming a popular tourist spot. I think this is also a place I've been looking at for mine and Sam's holiday so keep your eyes peeled for a holiday post to find out where we decided to go!

Fancy winning this holiday kit for your Summer holidays? Make sure you enter below. Open to the UK only and closes on the 10th August at 6.30pm. Winner will be announced over Twitter and notified by e-mail. UpYourVlog holds no responsibility for the distribution of the prize and is handled by Contact Numbers UK.

*Disclaimer - This is a collaboration post with Contact Numbers UK. All words are my own.

WIN A SUMMER HOLIDAY KIT



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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Wacky Interior Design Trends for 2017

We all know someone who just can’t handle the modernist vibe. This could even be yourself! With creative colours, amazing wall art and some wacky furniture out there today, why not dabble in the world of wacky interior design? Below are some of the craziest design trends we’ve seen so far this year…
Interior

Rounded Furniture 


This trend stands in defiance of modernism. Rounded sofas, chairs, and even worktops are hitting the market this year, and it seems people love it. It’s as though the 70’s blasted its way into the future and found a little niche in today’s interior design world. Think expanded chesterfield sofas and rounded cushions in a neutral tone.

Gothic Interiors 


All. Black. Everything. And if it’s not black? Think dark greys and blues. It seems a lot of interior designers are stepping away from the light and airy feel that minimalism offers and are opting for the dark side. In magazines such as Vogue, you’ll find deep blue chesterfields and dark wooden furniture plastered all over the covers, paired with matt black lighting fixtures. If you already have a large space, dark colours could compliment it perfectly this year. If your space is on the small side, you might be best sticking to light and airy colours in order to give it a more open concept feel.

Bright Window Decorations 


It seems crazy coloured curtains and blinds are back in the mix this year. We’ve seen our fair share of wacky wooden blinds and curtains with bright patterns. Back from the 2000’s are also the abstract patterns you thought you had seen the last of…

Wooden Aspects 


We’ve seen hints of wooden features in the past. Usually mixed with granite or marble, the wooden look creates the perfect balance of country life and modernist design. However, it seems as though the wooden trend is taking off, with Swedish influences finding bathrooms and kitchens all over the UK and Europe. 

Foliage Wall Designs 


Taking influence from Japanese and Chinese culture, the foliage wall art trend is proving to be the wackiest as of late. Instagrammers are swapping their wall art for framed succulents and foliage. The amazing beauty of this trend is that you can promote air flow in the home AND have it looking pretty at the same time. 
Plants
What are your favourite design trends so far this year? Any that missed the list? Let us know below…

*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post, written by Gina Kay Daniel.




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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

8 Ways To Save Money Quickly

With today's current lifestyle, trying to save money can be difficult. With Summer in full swing, there are lots of parties and opportunities to be out spending your hard earned dollar. Whatever you may be saving for, trying to save anything each month from your wage can be tough so I've put together a helpful guide that hopefully will help you save money quickly.

Consider before you buy


Ever bought something that you got on impulse? It's the little voice in your head that's constantly saying 'treat yo self girl'. Well, unfortunately listening to that voice all the time can end up with a lot of unnecessary spends - not that we shouldn't treat ourselves every now and then. Whenever you are thinking of buying something, ask yourself whether it's something you need and not want. Ask yourself, can I get a cheaper alternative? And also, will this bring any value to my life? If your answers are uncertain, resist the splurge.

Set up a direct debit/Paypal account


Saving money when you have an online banking app can be near to impossible when you have the ability to transfer money easily. Setting up a separate bank or Paypal account where you can transfer money that isn't linked to your online banking can help you save a lot more successfully. I've got one set up that has my takings from blogging in and it's starting to mount up considerably because I just don't touch it.


Use voucher codes


It's insane, the amount you can save with discount and voucher codes online and in-store. Websites like dealsqueen offer over 100,000 voucher/discount codes for many recognizable high street and luxury brands. Getting 10 or 20% off an item may not seem a lot but if you're a regular shopper, it could save you hundreds of pounds a year.

Sell your stuff


I cannot tell you how much eBay has helped in the past with making a little profit with your old, unwanted stuff. Put aside a day where you can go through your bedroom - or house - bit by bit to hunt for those various items you never use and are just gathering dust. There are also various other selling sites such as Music Magpie, Gumtree and even Amazon that now have a platform for individuals to set up their own online shop. This is perfect if you have a small business on the side and want to reach out to the big wide world.

Loans


Sometimes, when unexpected emergencies crop up in our lives, fast cash is something we may need. Companies that provide small loans are helpful if you need money quickly. However, making sure you have the funds available in the future to pay off this loan will avoid any nasty financial problems you may have to face. Always look at the small print and never take too much. If you feel uncertain, trust your gut.

Set a reasonable goal


Setting a reasonable goal can help you maintain your savings because saying you're going to save up £10,000 in six months, for most people, it's probably not likely. Instead, start off by saving £10-£20 a week and commit yourself to doing this for the next six months. You'll be surprised at how much you've saved by the end of it.

Get a side job


Becoming self-employed was probably the best thing for me to do as a part-time blogger. As blogging earns a fair amount of money, I can use my expenditures on my blog to save me paying too much tax for effectively having two jobs. Whether you are doing nannying, working in a bar at the weekends or housekeeping, go self-employed. Keep your travel receipts and anything relevant to what is required to do the job. Also, get yourself a good accountant to do your tax return. All these extra pennies earned will get you closer to your savings goal.

Surveys


There's plenty of online survey sites out there but very few actually pay out a decent earning. Global Test Market is one that I've found to be the most beneficial. Signing up is easy and after filling in your profile, the site assigns you to plenty of surveys of varying lengths. The more surveys you fill out, the more points you get. And you know what points mean? PRIZES!

The website gives you the opportunity to redeem your points for PayPal credit and I managed in over six months to make around £40 through the site. It may seem a small amount but I only probably filled out about 30-40 surveys over that time. If you have a lot of spare time in the evenings, dedicate some time to filling out surveys and you can probably make some serious spending money from it.

Food


Dining out in restaurants and buying your lunch from various food chains on a daily basis is probably one of the main reasons your money is disappearing. When the average Londoner spends around £2,500 on lunch a year, you never think that that small amount of money every day can total a ridiculous figure. Preparing your food and cooking in bulk can save you a lot of money in the long run. When it comes to eating out in the evening, try to look for deals and don't over splurge too much on extras, including alcohol. We all know that when we get a little tipsy, the plastic tends to get contactless happy.


Do you have any tips on saving money? Let me know in the comments below.

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


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Monday, 24 July 2017

Highs & Lows | Week 13

I've finally gotten back into the gym! I've been twice this week and although it was only 30 minutes each time, I am making progress. We also took part in a 5K charity run with giffgaff money, which was a first for me as I've never done a 5K run before!
Giff Gaff group photo

Highs ↑


5K Squad Goals


I actually did it. After weeks and weeks of me saying I'd not been to the gym, I went and did a 5K run. I managed to run nearly a half of it continuously but the other half was a little stop and start. I'm so proud of myself and my friends who took part and we tried to raise a bit more money and awareness for my Auntie who has breast cancer. If you can give anything please do! 


Lows ↓


No more Love Island


I cannot believe that Love Island has come to an end. At the time of scheduling this post in, I'm currently sat watching Friday night's episode. It's been a fantastic series with so many twists! From surprise returns to a whole new villa, myself and many others have enjoyed perving on other people's lives. Bring on Love Island 2018!

Tragedy in Kos


It's such a shame to hear of the tragedy in Kos from the earthquake that happened late Thursday night. With Kos being a popular Greek island to holiday in, I had a few friends who were over there and thankfully are all safe. With plans for myself and Sam to go to one of the Greek islands ourselves, we had our reservations. However, it's nature's doing and it's very rare that it happens. My thoughts go out to all those who have been injured and for those two who sadly lost their lives.




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Friday, 21 July 2017

LoveMeBeauty | Skincare Treats

LoveMeBeauty's monthly beauty box is an excuse to show off what an absolute bargain this subscription service is. I've done a few of these now and every time the 'shop the edit' refreshes, I get a little excited...SO EXCITED
LoveMeBeauty products
This month's subscription revolves mainly around skin care and can we just take a moment to appreciate how amazing the free makeup bag is. The glam life totally chose me. One of the perks for this subscription is the free makeup bag that comes with every beauty box. I have about 4 now and I don't think I'll ever get rid of any of them!
Nip & Fab Pads

NIP + FAB Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads - RRP £12.95


This was a sample version of the product as it only contained around six cleansing pads. The pads are super thin and there was enough product on either side to cover the face completely. The pads are used after cleansing and it's meant to tone the skin, giving a more radiant appearance. After a few uses, I certainly noticed a difference and I'm definitely going to buy the full sized product as I want to see the results over a longer period.

Rodial Eye Masks

Rodial Dragon's Blood Eye Masks - RRP £6.00


Another toning skin care product, Rodial is a brand that I'm aware of but I've never actually tried any of their products. They are definitely on the luxury end of the beauty scale, so perhaps that's why I've not tried them out. These hydrating masks came gelled together which had me a little confused as a first timer. I wasn't quite sure what bits were the protective films and which parts were the actual pad. Once I applied them though, they felt pretty good and the pads soaked into the skin and almost looked invisible. I didn't notice any immediate results and if I'm being honest, there's nothing really that noticeable 48 hours later so I'm not sure whether this is at all worth it.

EcoTools Brushes
EcoTool Brushes

EcoTools Recycled Retractable Kabuki Brush - RRP £12.99


The first subscription I received with LoveMeBeauty was a selection of EcoTools and since trying them, I've fallen in love with the collection. The brushes are so soft and they help with blending matte eyeshadows, baking under the eye with their mini sponges and blending foundation into the skin. I am hooked! This retractable kabuki brush is perfect for setting the makeup and buffing any foundation lines around the hair line and chin.

EcoTools Micro Blending Brush - RRP £4.99


The micro blending brush is supposed to be used for concealer and initially, I didn't want to use it for my concealer as I thought it would just stick to the brush. However, it blends my concealer in so well that it's just as effective as applying it with my finger and I use the exact same amount.

Would you use this beauty subscription? If so, be sure to use NATAL0723928 at the checkout on your first order to get 30 free credits!



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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Top Tips To Keep Your Hair Healthy This Summer

We tend to forget in this Summer heat, that both the hair and head, are vulnerable to sun damage. I've noticed that my hair has suffered particularly over the last month due to both the humidity and the heat from the sun. The result is that my hair is frizzier and feels a lot drier than normal. With so many beauty products out there, what types of hair care products should we be focusing our attention on during the Summer?
Haircare Products

Indulge in hair masks


Hair masks are something I've never thought of using just because it seems like more effort than it's worth. However, hair masks should be used once a week at least, to keep your hair nourished from root to tip. Some recommendations are Percy & Reed TLC Hydrating MaskPureology Hydrate Hydra Whip Masque and Redken All Soft Heavy Cream Super Treatment.

Use overnight hair treatments


Overnight treatments are something I've been doing for a while now and I think it's probably the most hassle-free treat you can give your hair. Every time I wash my hair, I spritz some Pantene Overnight Nourishing Spray into damp hair and a 10p sized amount of Tresemme's Split Remedy into the ends. The nourishing spray gives a little life to the hair, adding a bit more shine. The split remedy lotion makes split ends look less apparent - winner winner, chicken dinner!
Overnight treatments

Seek medical attention


Sun damage is probably one of the main causes of breakage and loss of hair. Sometimes the only solution is to explore the medical options out there. It's crazy to think that treatments like Advanced Tricho Pigmentation, is one example of restoring hair and the appearance of hair. A few of my friends have tried out micro-blading after over-plucking their eyebrows and it's given them so much confidence and it looks just like hair. 

Don't over wash your hair


For some, the thought of not washing their hair every day is like Love Island never existing. However, washing your hair every day does strip the hair of its natural oils. As gross as it may seem, I love leaving my hair an extra day unwashed because it's of course very lazy of me but I always find my hair appears more healthier afterwards.

CO-CO Crazy


Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil or any type of decadent oil is great for the hair, especially when it's dry and fizzy. I'm currently using Palmer's Coconut Oil Spray after every wash and my hair is loving me for it. It helps keep stray hair at bay but also provides me with a waft of coconut every time I swish my hair. It's heaven.


Switch up your shampoo and conditioner


Switching up your shampoos and conditioners isn't something I actually realised could benefit the hair until I spoke to a friend who swore down switching up her shampoo and conditioner every two weeks has helped maintain the healthiness of the hair and her hair is long too! Like mermaid hair long. I recently went from my trusty industrial sized bottle of Tresseme's conditioner and leapt into Elvive's Extraordinary Oil Conditioner and my hair had a new lease of life. 
Shampoos
The scalp can become immune to a shampoo or conditioner through overuse so I recommend switching it up every once in a while to give your hair a lil refresh!

Don't towel dry your hair rigorously 


Very much over the course of my teen and college years, I did not use much heat on my hair. I avoided using a hair dryer and instead towel dried my hair vigorously. BIG MISTAKE YOUNG NATALIE. When your hair has just been washed, the follicles are very weak so any tugging or brushing of the hair will cause more hair to fall out or break apart than normal. When towel drying your hair, instead of beating it like a crazy woman on a tub of Nutella, gently scrunch the hair with the towel to absorb the moisture.

Use the right hair bands 


It's only recently that the spiral hair bands have appeared in my life and I am so happy to tell you guys that these hair bands have changed my life. No longer do I get any breakage from my hair but these bands don't cause any kinks in the hair which is also a positive. I've also found that they hold the hair up better than normal hair bands do.  


What products do you use on your hair during the Summer?

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


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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Bruzzoni Family - Luxury Toothbrushes

Apologies for awkwardly featuring so many toothbrush themed posts at the moment but I just had to show you these luxury, high-end toothbrushes from a company called Bruzzoni. Now I've never owned an electronic toothbrush before and to be honest, I never saw the fascination for them. It seemed like a lazy option that probably wouldn't have been as good as just using a normal toothbrush.
Bruzzoni Box
Now when a toothbrush comes in a box like this (which reminded Sophie, my colleague of iPhone packaging), you know it's the real deal. Bruzzoni is actually a Swedish based company but they stock their products in London's Selfridge's on Oxford Street. They also sell and ship them internationally online.

They come in two colours, one in matt black with rose gold lining and a white version with silver lining. The toothbrush comes with a separate head, a cover for the brush head, a USB powered charger and travel sleeve. It's a pretty hefty box and the contents are very luxurious for a toothbrush. That said though, this electronic toothbrush is £120.00 online or $155 so I wouldn't have expected anything less.
Electronic Toothbrush
I've been using the brush now for just over a week and I think I've been converted. Not just because it's design and packaging is dreamy but it's just so good! The USB charger is a gold square base that has a very faint magnetic pull when you place the toothbrush on top. The USB makes it easy to charge either plugged into a bathroom shaver socket or using any port which includes my own laptop!

The battery doesn't take long to charge if the toothbrush is kept on the base and you get around 40 minutes worth of usage off one charge. The battery indicator located at the front of the toothbrush handle gives you plenty of warning when the toothbrush needs a little juice.
Electronic Toothbrush
Bruzzoni Packaging
My favourite thing about the toothbrush is it's ability to indicate 30 seconds by stopping and starting and has a two minute timer to provide you with the sufficient brushing time required. The speed of the brush is insane and I can feel it cleaning away at all the areas that would be hard to reach with a manual toothbrush.

I'm really sold on this product and if you are someone who takes extra care with their oral hygiene, then this is something to really consider especially as it has a considerably long life span.

*Disclaimer - I was gifted this product and had no obligation to write a review. All words are my own.


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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Feral Cats Of France

When we visited Sally and Paul in France a few weeks back, we noticed a small family of kittens that Sally explained were ferrel. We then learnt that our household friends aren't in the same manner as we treat them in the UK. I asked Sally to explain a little more about France's attitude towards our friendly felines and canines. Also enjoy the most adorable and photogenic kittens I've ever seen.

We moved to France four years ago. It was the culmination of a thirty year dream for myself and my husband and we have had absolutely no regrets since moving here.

When we came here, we were already dog lovers and brought our two poodles, Milly and Lily with us. They were no problem whatsoever and they settled fabulously in their new environment. With a much bigger garden and a plethora of country walks on our doorstep, it was utter bliss!
Kittens
Kittens
It was very soon after we arrived that we realised that the French attitude to dogs and cats is so very different to ours. In fact only within the last two years, the French government has passed a law which protects cats and dogs as living beings. Before that they were considered as 'property', much the same as a cow or a sheep. Yes a living being, but with no more rights than a farm animal.

We also very quickly noticed that (especially in very rural areas) there is a huge problem with feral cats. It has since been explained to us that the majority of French don't believe in sterilising or castrating their animals. It`s a combination of culture and also finance. Although much cheaper than in the UK, vets bills here are still expensive and most people simply don't have the funds to spare to sterilise their pets. The result of this is sadly that if a dog or cat has babies then the owner will sadly either drown the young or drive off somewhere with them and just dump them because they also don`t have the means to then feed them once they have been weaned.
Girl playing with cat
Mother cat
Fortunately there are animal refuges available but these are full to brimming and they just don`t have the resources to handle the huge numbers of unwanted animals. Consequently a number of 'Associations' (charities) have sprung up, mainly founded by English people who will do anything they can to try and raise money to help these poor animals and find homes for them.

I personally  know one amazing lady who has lived here for over 20 years and has spent her time and money trying to improve the situation. When she is not doing her day job, she goes out and traps feral cats and takes them to be sterilised before either (sadly) releasing them back to the wild or trying to find them a forever home. Many of the cats she saves are unfortunately already pregnant so she has the additional expense of trying to look after several kittens or in extreme cases paying vets bills for abortions as well as sterilisation. 
Kittens
Kittens
Kittens
Kittens
But it`s not all doom and gloom, let's get back to our story with our two beloved poodles. We were persuaded to visit one of the animal refuges back in 2014 and fell in love with a gorgeous little Bichon which had been rescued along with several others from a cruel unscrupulous dog breeder. So it was that we welcomed our adorable Bella into the family. She is very much our daughter`s dog and sleeps beside her on the pillow of her double bed every night. She has grown from a terrified little scrap into an adorable bundle of fun who makes us smile every day.

Sadly our little Milly passed away last year so we were once again a two dog family. Then one evening I was surfing Facebook as usual and saw a picture of the most wretched looking apricot toy poodle. I contacted the originator of the picture to be told that this little thing had spent over two years locked in a small room with 30 other dogs before she was rescued following a tip off to the Gendarmes. Now she was languishing at one of the refuges in the area waiting for someone to fall in love with her. Well needless to say she came to us within a week of me first seeing her picture. 
Milly
Milly
We named her Molly and set about trying to show her how to be the adorable dog we hoped she would become. She spent her first three months with us just lying in her bed. She had never had any human contact, never been outside, never seen grass and was just so traumatised we began to wonder if we had bitten off more than we could chew. I am delighted to say that our patience was finally rewarded. Our gorgeous Molly now loves to follow us out into the garden and plays with her tennis ball. She has now also started tentatively getting close to our other two fur babies. She is still very skittish and doesn't really like to be touched too much but she is a totally different girl from the poor thing who arrived chez nous nearly six months ago.
Lily
Lily
Molly
Molly
Bella and Lily
Bella (left) and Lily
So that's our story. We love our life here in France and although Lily is the only one remaining of the two adorable pooches we brought with us, we have been blessed with Bella and Molly and couldn't imagine our family without them. My husband keeps saying that 3 dogs are enough. I tend to agree with him but who knows what will happen in the future. Watch this space...

What do you think of this increasing ferrel problem in France? Let me know in the comments below.


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