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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Exploring Morocco | A Day In Marrakesh

Aside from the delightful experience of traveller's belly (ohmydays it was the worst), our holiday to Morocco was pretty incredible. It was an entirely different place to go on our travels and neither of us had ever stepped foot in Africa before. Morocco is a holiday location that's growing in popularity, not just for holidaymakers but one place businesses can treat staff with as a corporate reward.
Koutoubia Mosque Tower
Koutoubia Mosque Tower
As part of our holiday, Thompson or now know as TUI, offered several day and half day excursions whilst we were there at a very reasonable price. We both paid around 960 Moroccan Dirham each which was about £75 for a full day out (6am start), two meals and a guided tour around Marrakesh. Pretty amazing deal if you ask me.

Now I'm just going to start right off the bat here. Marrakesh is a place you want to go to once. It's great to experience the city, to explore the medina and the weirdly wonderful souk but I can imagine it's probably too much if you're there for your entire holiday. When we sat down to book the holiday, there was a resort in Marrakesh that we were looking at. Obviously, we could have just remained in the resort but the city is pretty intense so I'm glad we stayed in a quieter area that was Agadir.
Medina
All the photos and places we went too are probably a little too much for just one blog post, so I'm going to save all the other places we visited on the tour for future content. Instead, I wanted to focus on the souk, the food we ate and the medina we ended up in towards the end of the trip.

Before setting off to Marrakesh at 7 IN THE FREAKING MORNING, we made sure we'd packed our essentials that were recommended for our day out - suncream, lots of water and suitable clothing. I'd been told by the TUI rep that I should wear something covering the shoulders and down to the knees. Surprisingly though a lot of the women on our excursion were wearing much less, which now looking back on, I wish I'd done too because boy was it hot.
Medina side streets
Souk
Souk Shops
Moroccan Lights
We arrived in Marrakesh for around 10.30am and headed straight towards the souk. We had a guide (of course I've forgotten his name) who told us we'd be exploring half of the souk in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. 

Walking through the souk, we were regularly beeped at by drivers on motor scooters like the ones below. They'd occasionally have three or four people on one scooter which would probably break all of the laws back here in the UK but I think they're a little more relaxed in Morocco. The souk walkways weren't the biggest in width and at times we were almost hunched over, walking through tiny sections of the souk. I couldn't get over just how big the souk actually was, so much so that both myself and Sam had no plans to go in their during our own free time without the guide.
Motor Scooters
Restaurant Sign
Marrakesh Rooftops
Restaurant Area
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the food and looking at my pictures, I get less and less active on the camera as the day goes on. We visited two places for our lunchtime and evening meals. The first was a place called Dar Nejjarine and seemed to be a popular place to bring large groups of tourists. As we were in a big group, we definitely stuck out like a sore thumb.

The food was very heavily vegetable-based which is great for health nuts. If I'm being totally honest though, I wasn't thrilled with our food. I'm always one to try new cuisines and although I fully immersed myself in tagine land, I never really went back for more after our trip to Marrakesh. The medina was beautiful and I'm so happy we just sat in an upstairs cafe and people watched. From the snake charmers, the ladies who tried to henna every woman passing by and the random man with teeth on a table, there was so much life and noise going on for the couple of hours we were there. It only got louder as more street artists turned up and the medina got busier with the set up of the evening market stalls.
Above the medina
Medina of Marrakesh
Medina of Marrakesh
Medina of Marrakesh
Medina of Marrakesh
Snake Charmers
As the evening wound in and the trip was coming to an end (because it was gone midnight when we got back to the hotel), we headed over to the restaurant that would serve us the evening meal. This place was definitely everything you would imagine a Moroccan dining experience to have. A traditional band playing various melodies, all the tagine and finally a belly dancer balancing a plate of candles on her head. Normal right?
Restaurant Chandelier
Marrakesh guide
Marrakesh was definitely one of those bucket list destinations to visit and I'm so glad we did it even if we ended up feeling a little worse for wear afterwards. We may be back in the future but for now, I've had all the Marrakesh I can take for a while!

Have you ever been to Marrakesh? Let me know your thoughts of the city in the comments below.

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


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Monday, 30 October 2017

Quiz | Style It Like Gabby

If anyone was OBSESSED with Love Island this year, then you'll have heard of Gabby Allen. She's currently the other half of Dr Marcel (former member of Blazin Squad) and it's safe to say that this girl had great style during the popular reality television show.
Red Frill Jumpsuit
Photo credit - Sam Griffiths (I promised to credit him this time)
Which means that it comes as no surprise that Gabby managed to land herself a big fashion collaboration deal with Quiz. Now you may have read my last review with Quiz for their #LostInSummer campaign. Considering I don't normally shop with Quiz, I was pretty impressed by the quality and style and it's no different with this collection. 

Gabby's collection is a mixture of party dresses. From the very glamorous to the more sophisticated numbers that are sexy, but still acceptable for family meals.

I picked a jumpsuit (because I freaking love jumpsuits, especially when they're in red), some frilly black heels and a white top with floral embroidery. I saw that Gabby had styled the jumpsuit two ways, one on its own and then another with the embroidered top which looked great. It gives the outfit two looks which I like.
White Embroidered Top
Floral Embroidered Top
Frill Red Jumpsuit
Embroidery has been a big trend in fashion this year and it's got no signs of disappearing anytime soon. This simple white top suddenly becomes interesting and I love how bold and bright the roses are in contrast with the white.

The frilly heels are probably my favourite out of the three pieces. I've been needing some new black heels for a while and these are the perfect replacement. They even came with some replacement heel studs which is often the reason we chuck out our heels, so Quiz is saving a girl some money here.
Close up of floral embroidery
Black frilly heels
Gabby's collection is stunning and I've already seen a few bloggers showing off and raving about the pieces like my good friend Faded Spring. I don't really have any negatives with any of these pieces as they fit well, right down to the shoes. And that's a surprise considering my dodgy wide feet.

Make sure to check out the full collection and tell me in the comments below what your favourites are!

*Disclaimer - I was gifted this clothing in return for an honest review. All words are my own.



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Friday, 27 October 2017

The Wedding Planning Checklist

It's still hard to believe that I'm now engaged. I keep staring at my ring lovingly like some love sick puppy - which I am.

Thank god that my friends got me an actually Wedding Planner because suffice to say, I would probably be lost without it. I've already looked through my wedding magazines, cutting and pulling out inspiration for what I'd love for my wedding. There's so much to think about and it's gotten me pretty excited yet extremely nervous.
Wedding Planner
Considering it is the engagement season, I thought I'd share with you my checklist for the big event. Having a check list is something that I need to have because guaranteed I would forget something major if I didn't have a list. Some of these are so obvious I know but you'd be surprised at how forgetful I can be.

☐ Throw an engagement party or two
Pick your bridesmaids and groomsmen
☐ Determine a budget
◻ Decide on type of ceremony
◻ Choose a few wedding date options
◻ Compile guest list for wedding service and reception
◻ Research wedding venues and visit them
☐ Find caters
☐ Consider hiring a wedding consultant/planner
☐ Look into guest accomodation
◻ Choose a theme for the wedding/colour schemes
◻ Plan invitations
☐ Send out Wedding RSVP's
◻ Go bridal dress shopping
◻ Groom's outfit
◻ Bridesmaid dress shopping
◻ Groomsmen outfits
◻ Book photographer
◻ Book a videographer if wanted
◻ Book florist for bridal flowers, button holes and table arrangements
◻ Order cake
◻ Consider venue decorations
◻ Work out table plan and place cards
◻ Research honeymoon and book it
☐ Organise travel insurance
◻ Sort transport if required
◻ Picking wedding vows
◻ Choose and buy the rings
◻ Decide on gift list
◻ Sort out menu options
◻ Book music/band/DJ
☐ Book wedding insurance
☐ Pick music choices for first dance
☐ Decide on favours
☐ Arrange hen & stag parties
☐ Book hair and makeup trial runs
☐ Book hair and makeup for the day
☐ Book nail/beauty treatments for wedding day
☐ Gifts for wedding day
☐ Apply for marriage license
☐ Rehearsal for ceremony
GET MARRIED!

Hopefully, I've included all of the requirements that are needed for a wedding.

The Wedding Planner that I got from my friends is so helpful because it's got a twelve month planner within which is great for getting certain tasks done in time for the day itself. The other sections include compiling a guest list and organising stationary. The wardrobe section allows you to take measurements for yourself, the groom and all the ushers and bridesmaids. The wedding day section covers the venue and reception details, including the food and drink. Table settings, the wedding cake, music and entertainment are also included.

Towards the back you have organising the honeymoon and creating a gift list. Lastly, there's a contacts and notes section for any important phone numbers and notes you'd need to make along the way. 

I will definitely be taking this along to every wedding-related appointment that I have in the future. 

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



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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Pamper Night | with #MiraMoments

A few weeks ago I was invited to a pamper night with Mira Showers. They were promoting their new range and wanted to encourage us to enhance our everyday routines.
Mira Moments
I never used to use any bath or shower products in my daily routines, which is crazy I know. Now though, with the advice given to me by Mira, I've incorporated a few additions to my morning and evening routines that I thought I'd include with you.


Lighting 


I decided that bath times should be about relaxing and that means lights off and candles out. When it comes to the change in weather, Autumn and Winter make me want all of the baths. I bathe a lot more in the colder months and therefore having a good storage of candles will help with lifting my mood and creating the perfect ambience.

Essential Oils


I cannot tell you enough, how good essential oils are in the bathtub and in the shower. I love using bath oils because they infuse the bath water in this heavenly scent which remains on your skin for the rest of the day. The same goes for when I'm in the shower, a few drops of lavender oil rubbed over my skin helps relax my mind and makes getting to sleep much easier.
Essential Oils

Music/Reading Material


A good playlist or book can really make your bath time extra special. I love soaking in a bath for as long as possible. If this means getting out of the bath and looking like a shrivelled prune, I'm ok with it. Creating a bathtime playlist or having your favourite book by the bathtub is a must.


Comfort


There's nothing quite like having a fluffy dressing gown to wrap yourself up in after coming out of a bath or shower. During the Winter, stepping out of the shower into a cold room makes me want to just crawl back into the warmth of my bed. Now, I have this gorgeous white dressing gown that will keep me super snug whilst I'm doing my makeup in the morning or doing my blogging during the evening.
Fluffy Dressing Gowns


Post Bathing Lotions


And last but not least is my lotions and potions. I've surprised myself by improving on my morning and nighttime skincare routines, so much so that I've started using body lotions after bathing. A top tip is to put the body lotion bottle in the bath or shower with you so when applying it, it's warm and not freezing cold. I've been using The Organic Shop Vanilla Whipped Body Cream which is a luxurious cream that smells like vanilla yoghurt. So yummy that I kind of want to taste it.

How do you enhance your daily shower and bath routines? Let me know in the comments below.




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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Bridesmaids | Bridal Fashion

Since getting a hamper full of wedding themed goodies from our best friends, I've suddenly become very conscious of just HOW MUCH PLANNING there is when it comes to a wedding. Yes, it's basically just one big party but it's a party that requires SO many details. So many details.
Wedding Magazines
Now that we've told everyone, I'm already getting totally ahead of myself - much to Sam's terror - and I've already organised the way I'll be asking my bridesmaids if they would like to be my bridesmaids! Another thing that I've been thinking about is the bridesmaid's dresses. 

Yes, I get it, I'm probably not going to get married for another 2-3 years but this girl has to plan otherwise I'll leave everything till the very last minute. So even if this is a little premature, it's good for me because it relieves any anxiety I may have about planning this thing and it's also good to have this ready for when I actually need it. I also think it's nice to be able to share my thoughts and ideas for those who regularly read my blog.

Picking a bridesmaid dress is a difficult one because your bridesmaids are not likely to be all the same shape or same size. Colour is also important because certain colours might look good on one person but then completely wash out another. I want my bridesmaids to be as comfortable as I want to feel. 

Length


Bridesmaid Dresses
Christina Wu | Tidetell | Coast
Pinterest has now become my best friend. There are endless pages of bridesmaid dress ideas and I had no problem finding varying lengths of dresses. I spotted these three that I instantly took a liking to. I think floor length dresses on bridesmaids are much more of a wintery option. Our initial plans would be to have the wedding around Summer, so something which shows off the legs a little more is perfect. 

I love the daring slit cut of the Christina Wu dress. I think it's different and not something I've seen on bridesmaid dresses before. The Asymmetrical shape of the dresses in the middle is something that I really like. It's not fitted and more free-flowing so it would likely suit everyone's shape. The last one is actually a combo top and skirt. I loved the length of the skirt because it isn't too long or too short. The length would also show off the stunning footwear I'd be putting them in.

Shape


Bridesmaid Dresses
One Shoulder Maxi Dress | Bridal Fashion | Emerald V-Shape Dress
The top half of the dress is probably the trickiest because we're all differently endowed. Some of us are big and some of us are small. I know that a sweetheart neckline would mean potential flashing for me and my boobs. I love the one shoulder option because it keeps the bad boys in place whilst maintaining some shape to the top. 

I also love the V-Shaped neckline because it has the traditional two straps whilst keeping everything in place. It also works for every cup size. The other option is to just have a mixture of styles which I also like the idea of but then I also like things being uniform and consistent so.... 

Colour


Bridesmaid Dresses
Colours can really make or break a dress on a bridesmaid. The shape and fit could be perfect but the colour could clash with the woman in it. Coast have some gorgeous light pink numbers like the one on the left. I love the pastel colours and I think it's very much on trend with a lot of weddings at the moment. 

I think I'm swayed towards burgundy because of my Auntie's wedding way back when I was a child. I love the deep colour and I think it looks so good against a white dress. I also love the dark regal blue as it's something a little different and one colour I wouldn't have thought I'd prefer.

Material


When it comes to material, I do like chiffon. I think it's the one material that feels comfortable to wear for long periods of time and would fit nicely with any style of a bridesmaid dress. Satin to me feels a little out of fashion now and would probably be quite heavy and annoying.

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

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

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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Optrex ActiMist | For Dry Eyes

A few months back I visited my local opticians for my annual eye test and as I'm pretty much blind as a bat anyway (I'm like -6.5 if you wear glasses/contact lenses), I didn't expect there to be any change in my eyes.
Optrex Mist
Turns out though that my eyes were slightly drier than normal and this was because I've been wearing my contact lenses for too long during the day. The optician even went on to tell me that my eyeballs could start to form THEIR OWN BLOOD VESSELS which could result in serious damage to the eyes...

Well I mean thanks mate, what a way to scare a girl. Optrex is a brand that I've certainly come across before in particular with the eye drops but I've never had to use them and I've always thought that I wouldn't be able to use anything other than my own contact lens solution in my eye.
Optrex Mist
The ActiMist 2-in-1 Eye Spray works by spraying it over the eye when closed. The solution then absorbs into the eyelid and onto the eyes to provide almost instant relief from dry eyes. We used this so much during our trip away in Morocco because of wearing our contact lenses all day.

The spray normally costs £15.99 but is currently reduced to £12.99 on Superdrug. Is it worth the money? Yes. It has certainly provided instant relief to my eyes and Sam's found the same results as he tends to suffer with dry eyes a lot more than me.
Optrex Mist
My only issue with this though is the size. Considering we've only been using it for a little over a week, we've nearly ran out. This is something both me and Sam would want to use on the regular, so I was a little disappointed to see we'd gotten through nearly the whole bottle.

Aside from the size though, this eye spray does what it says on the tin. There's a few other sprays that are for other symptoms relating to the eyes such as watery or tired eyes. They also have brightening eye drops which I would be interested in trying.

Make sure to check out the range. Have you tried Optrex before? Let me know in the comments below.


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


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Monday, 23 October 2017

Staying Healthy Whilst Travelling

Our recent holiday to Morocco was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. We had so much fun and not to mention Sam proposing to me on the first evening. Our day out to Marrakesh was an eye opener and it was quite an intensive day. Watching over the medina and getting a fully immersive experience of the souk was something I'll never forget.
Marrakesh Medina
Medina of Marrakesh
Unfortunately though, we managed to catch Traveller's Belly (and no this isn't a made up illness - it's a thing), which is caused by bacteria and we think in our case, not washing our hands thoroughly. 

I had been pretty prepared for our holiday, packing a First Aid Kit - which granted only had the bare essentials - but was a lot more health conscious than other holidays I've been on before.  Getting Travellers Belly was unexpected though extremely common with a lot of travellers who visit parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and Central and South America. It's an infection that unfortunately is pretty easy to get. So it got me thinking, what tips could I recommend for staying healthy whilst travelling?  

Take plenty of tablets for various symptoms


We took one pack of paracetamol. A basic, Tesco's branded pack of 16 at 500mg. Of course, it says on the pack that it treats moderate pain of varying symptoms such as headaches, migraines and fever but I've found that different pain relief including nurofen and ibuprofen have all worked better on specific symptoms.

Drink plenty of water but avoid having it by the tap


Tap water and ice are two common causes of getting Travellers Belly so try and avoid these if you can. Myself and Sam were downing cocktails filled with ice on a daily basis, not thinking that this could have been a probable cause of the infection. Stick to bottled water and say no to ice in your drink.
Inside Marrakesh Gardens

Use alcohol wipes or hand sanitiser gel before meals


Why did I not take any hand sanitising products?! The thought never even crossed my mind to take alcohol wipes or gel. One thing you'll find in Marrakesh is the lack of soap and clean water in the bathrooms. Most of the building's bathrooms aren't well kept so don't expect to find hand pumps filled with soap or nifty 10-second hand dryers in there. 

On top of this, we had both our lunch and evening meal in Marrakesh, which meant we didn't wash our hands enough between meals. Particularly when going out on day trips and taking part in outdoor activities.

Have a good balance when it comes to food and drink


We definitely indulged ourselves when it came to the all-inclusive option we opted into. And saying that, I think we overdid it on a number of occasions. Although it is tempting to just gorge out on food and drink, make sure to maintain a healthy balance of what you are eating. We managed to get a lot of fruit and vegetables onto our plates during breakfast, lunch and dinner which I think helped us when we were ill. 

Avoid uncooked food


Which leads me onto my last point, avoid uncooked food. Food like salad may be washed via tap water and therefore may have the bacteria needed to give you an upset tummy. As much as we all love our salads (said no one ever), it's best to just avoid.


What tips would you recommend to stay healthy whilst travelling? Let me know in the comments below.

*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post with The Independent Pharmacy. All words are my own.



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Friday, 20 October 2017

I GOT ENGAGED!

I'm engaged. I have a fiancé. OH MY GOD!

We've been together for five and a half years yet I still had no idea that my partner Sam, had been putting plans in place to pop the question during our trip to Morocco. 
Engagement ring
We've always openly talked about getting engaged and it wasn't until recently that we both walked into a jewellers to get my ring finger sized. The letter K. I remember the store clerk noting down the size for him but Sam said this would be something he'd remember.

When it comes to engagement rings, there are SO many shapes, sizes and colours to choose from, that the traditional silver diamond ring isn't always the first choice nowadays. I think it's safe to say that the celebrity engagements we see in the glossy magazines and on social media, have created some influence over what we ourselves would like to wear. However, not all of us have the average amount of £489k to splurge on one piece of jewellery. Yep according to 77 Diamonds’ latest analysis into celebrity engagement rings, that's the average amount that celebrities splurge on when popping the big question.


I've always been a fan of vintage, so when I'd casually browse the shop front windows, housing all these beautiful sparkling rings, I would gravitate towards the ones that had more colour than just white gold.


One that always popped up was the sapphire stone and I really loved the Princess shape because it's the perfect middle between being too small or too big. My ring, which was from Beaverbrooks has just the one band but has an arch underneath the stone so the front of the ring is raised. A small touch but I feel like it makes a difference.
Flowers and fizz
Sunset
Where Sam proposed!
Sam's proposal came during the first evening of our stay in Morocco. We'd gotten ready (unbeknownst to me that I was about to get proposed to, I opted for red lippy - stupid choice) in our room and then headed down to the beach to watch the sunset. Now typical me, I wasn't in much of a mood to watch the sunset, particularly as it was very cloudy. Yet Sam persisted in dragging me down to the sand from the promenade, as I reluctantly took my heels off. Once settled in the sand, I was actually pleased he'd convinced me because it was a beautiful beach.

The sun broke through the clouds and Sam started talking about how we'd met and how he'd asked me to be his girlfriend on a beach in Aberystwyth. He told me he loved me and that I was his soulmate and that he'd asked my dad a question. At this point, he'd reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. I cried, he cried, we kissed, he placed the ring on my finger and - well it was perfect.
Couple
With the engagement season in full swing, the most popular date of the year being 1st December, I thought this post was well timed with the jeweller's study into Celebrity Engagement Trends

Maybe, you're currently looking for an engagement ring or need ideas on the types of rings out there that are popular. Either way, there's a big enough market out there to get that celebrity-inspired ring that won't break the bank or require you to take out another mortgage.

Are you engaged? Let me know in the comments below.

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




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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Magic Memories | Canvas Prints

I think I take after my mum when it comes to photographs. I took so many pictures during my time at university, that I must have SO many albums on my Facebook and probably lost plenty of Facebook friends in the process because of my over-excessive camera snapping.
Photos
I've always loved canvas photo frames,  they stand out and give your photos a little more life and depth, especially if it's a collection of photos hanging together. Magic Memories got in touch for me to try out their canvas prints and I really wanted to get a collage of myself and Sam through the years that we've been together. 

I wanted photos that showed our personalities and our love (blegh, this is getting too soppy) so I went with the four photos you see above.

Magic Memories are actually a US-based photography service but they ship globally including here in the UK & Ireland. The uploading of photos and assembling them onto the canvas is very simple. There's a choice of sizes to pick from, including the layout and sizing of each photo on the canvas. You can select the photos either from your own computer files or from your social media such as Facebook or Instagram.
Photos
Photos
I was slightly worried that the quality of my photos may be a little poor and therefore would appear very grainy on the canvas but when it arrived, I was surprised by just how well they came out. Even the black and white one was perfect and this was taken on an old phone.

The price was pretty reasonable at £69.15 but I don't think that included the cost of shipping. I do love the thought of having photos all over our house because they tell a story, showing fragments of your life both old and new that you can cherish and have more sentimental value than most things in your life.

What do you think of this canvas collage? Let me know in the comments below.

*Disclaimer - I was gifted this canvas print in return for an honest review. All words are my own.




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