Friday, 29 November 2013

Fashion Fridays... Dear Santa!

This week I've managed to complete most of my Christmas shopping! It's the first year I've been totally organised and I'm very proud of myself. Plus I saved a fortune on delivery charges thanks to Amazon Prime's free 30 day trial! Obviously I can't reveal all my secrets as my loved ones might read this and I love surprising people with thoughtful gifts!
This week's Fashion Friday is going to be my wish list to Santa. Some of these things I have a genuine hope of opening on Christmas day, some are only plausible in the fantasy world where I own a yacht but what's life without a dream or two...
My first wish is for the Babyliss Curl Secret. This is a very clever contraption which appears to be able to drastically reduce the time it takes to curl your hair.
From what I've seen, the barrel kind of slurps up your section of hair then spits it out all lovely and curled perfectly. I love, love, love having big curled hair but it takes me so damn long to do that I so rarely do it. If I had this beasty machine I like to think I'd do it all the time and be in a state of permanently fabulous hair-ity!
The second thing on my Christmas list isn't the most exciting but something I've been lusting after for a while. It's the funky Nike Free TR III Printed training shoe.
They're just so different and fun and everyone in my gym has a pair except me! I don't really need them as I already have two pairs which perfectly match everything else but sometimes it's nice to have the option to change up your outfit, even in the gym!
My first ridiculous wish are for these epic Hallie shoes by Kurt Geiger. Although I find a stilettos beautiful to look at, I know that paired with my clumsiness, they'll result in disaster for me. Especially after wine. So I prefer to totter around in something a little more substantial like these lovely leopard print things.
hallie, black/other shoe by kg kurt geiger - women shoes occasion
I'm surprised at the high volume of open-toe shoes this Autumn / Winter season! I hate having cold feet and I'm not a fan of tights with open shoes but I'd brave frozen tootsies for the sake of looking vivacious in them!
Lastly we come to the most ridiculous item on my wish list. I am currently on the search for the perfect new handbag as mine is dying a slow death. After much searching online, I have found it! Unfortunately it costs £1560. Just take a look at this heavenly Yves Saint Laurent Sac De Jour!
I want something that isn't black; something that's going to stand out against a dreary grey winter day! This totally clashes with my coats and all of my clothes but in an utterly fabulous way. But unless I win the jackpot on the lottery this week, gazing longingly at this picture and daydreaming will have to do!
                                                         saintlaurent, Classic Small Sac de Jour Bag in Orange Leather

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Workout Wednesdays... A new beginning


I have discovered during my fitness journey that I'm really bad at the diet side of things. I'm also bad at remembering what I'm supposed to be doing on each day. I've hit a real plateau in my progression and decided it's time to Eat Clean, Train Dirty and Get Lean.
There is so much information on weight training / diet / fat loss / health on the Internet. I've found that's a problem. There's too much information. Too many conflicting opinions. Too many contradicting articles. Trying to learn everything from the Internet with no real guide or structure can be just as bad as not knowing anything, I think.
I follow various health and fitness accounts on the different social media platforms and the one that is consistently praised and recommended by the social media fitness sphere is LDN Muscle. Created and run by four (beautiful) young lads, LDN Muscle has it all. Blogs, diet, exercises, apparel, the works.
Before you read my rave review of LDNM, please bear in mind, I have not been asked or paid to write this post. The guys don't even know I'm doing it. I've chosen to write about this as part of my Workout Wednesday theme and narration of my life.
They also produce and sell a multitude of digital training guides called Premium Programmes. Specifically for men, there are a wide variety, ranging from the Natural Bulking Bible to the Leg Torture Pack. Lads, whatever your aims, they have a pack for you. If you're unsure of which would be best for you, tweet them or facebook them or email them. They're wonderful at replying and full of really helpful information and advice.
The thoughtful lads at LDN Muscle have realised that it's not just men who want to train insane. They've collaborated with each other and some of their female guest bloggers to create a pack especially for women wanting to lose fat and gain lean muscle. All herald the Bikini Fit Guide!
With 34 pages of intense advice and direction, I think this guide is going to drastically change my training and, hopefully, my body! It has information on: diet, including a sample week menu plan; exercise, with different training types and picture descriptions of all exercises; supplements, including what / when / where / why / how to take!
To quote their website:
"The price of your comprehensive ticket to bikini bod glory? Just £29.99. To put that in context, these days that could would buy you;
- A 30-45 minute session with a PT. Once.
- Half a bottle of perfume.
- A top you’ll wear twice."
So I figured I had to at least try it. It's payday today and I'm feeling good so I went ahead and bought it. I've glanced through briefly at work but will devour it in full at home.
I've set a date to begin my new regime - Monday 2nd December. I'm going to fully embrace every aspect. I'll be sticking to the diet as tightly as I can and training exactly how they say. I'm going to record a before and after of weight / measurements (and maybe even pictures) from Sunday and then after 6 weeks and see what results I get!
I'm nervous and excited. I'm always scared of failure, as we all are, but I'm excited to discover what fabulous body I've been hiding for so many years!
And yes, I know it's ridiculous to start a new plan before Christmas but if I don't start now, I never will. I'll always find some excuse to prolong it and avoid success!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Manic Monday... Life update.

I massively failed at creating my Geography Sunday post to share yesterday! I've had a manic weekend and literally couldn't find the time!

Friday I decided to indule in some "me time" and totally chill out on the sofa and relax for a change! Saturday I went on a mad cleaning frenzy and spruced up my house a bit.

I then went to an awful yoga class. Apaprently I don't love Ivengar yoga. Mean teacher, no flow, not fun at all. The swim / sauna / jacuzzi after was heavenly though!

Saturday night I worked at McClusky's nightclub to help out a friend who was short staffed! I had such a laugh on the bar and the place was rammed with lots of young girls hoping to glimpse the beautiful Danny Mac (aka Dodger in Hollyoaks)!

I went to bed in the early hours of Sunday morning and, before I knew it, my family (mum, brother and nephew) had arrived to visit me for the day!

My nephew is the light of my life. I never envisaged being able to love someone so wholly and completely as I do my little piglet. I could go on all day about why he is the cutest, sweetest, funniest, most adorable boy on the planet but I won't...

In the morning, we headed into Kingston to do a spot of shopping & show Riley the Christmas bears singing show thing in the Bentall's centre. Apparently he quite enjoyed it. This was his reaction...

We went back to my flat for some lunch and then decided to brave the cold and get some and exercise in Richmond Park. Both my brother and nephew were totally dumbfounded by the deer in the park (or reindeer as Riley insisted they were called).

Seeing the world through a child's eyes is just so refreshingly beautiful. Everything is so new and fun and it makes you remember the little things and forget all the big worries for a while.

My family are RUBBISH at having photos. I'm the only one who can pose. My mum always looks crazed and my brother usually looks bored or murderous. Or we actually produce a nice photo but the useless cameraman (aka my brother) fails and makes it blurry, like this one...

Rubbish photos aside, I had the most beautiful day with my family. My family are friends to me too and that's a beautiful thing. When the baby tells me he loves me or even just talks to me, my heart melts and my world is whole again. I'm filled with love still that I hope will last until Christmas when I can be with them all again!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Fashion Fridays... Festive frocks!

Most people who know me will tell you that I'm a bit "bah humbug"; I refuse to accept the Christmas period until it's actually December. This year, I'm trying to be organised (and spread my finances further).  I've already bought around half of my gifts and have the rest in mind. I'm in the process of setting my budget for the following month when I [finally] get paid on Monday and I'm factoring in the need for pretty things for Xmas Parties.

Hence this weeks' Fashion Friday post. I need an outfit for various occasions: an office party locally; Christmas night out with friends at Candy Bar; a company party in the City; Christmas Eve drinks at a very flamboyant house; Christmas day with family and friends; Boxing Day with the piglet. Whew. Writing it all down makes it seem like a marathon of parties and outfits!

So I'm obviously going to change my mind a hundred times about what I'll wear (as I always do) but I need various options for the various occasions.

I'm aiming to be as fabulous and frugal as possible combined. So I think one dress for the City party and Christmas day is doable. Then I need a couple of versatile separate pieces that I can create a few looks for different other occasions. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

I'm thinking something like this lovely piece from H&M (below, left) for the sparkly fun dress? Jazzed up with some feature jewellry and low heeled boots I think.

Blue (Blue) Blue Twist Front Wrap Dress  | 291483040 | New Look

 I also love the colour of this dress from New Look (above, right) but I'm not sure how flattering it would be on my small(ish) bust. I love the look of the material and the strange cut to it. I'm determined to not get something black; I want to stand out in the winter crowds!

I have a nice black skater skirt from River Island which is already a solid part of my wardrobe so I'm thinking of getting a fun top or two to wear with it for a couple of my other festivities.
I've found a few beauties from River Island that I think could work well. Maybe a nice, simple cami to be teamed with some epic jewellry (below, left) or a little more casual purple statement tshirt (below, middle) or even a really bold statement cropped tee as the skirt is high waisted (below, right).

I've got a couple of weeks before the party season kicks off so I'm hoping I'll get more inspired and find some more cool pieces before I end up ransacking my wardrobe in a panicked stress!
The one thing I do have planned is Boxing Day. It's going to be more like Christmas Day for us; jsut me, my mum, my brother and the baby.
I want to my brother to be Santa and have the piglet as my Elf so I think I'm going to get them these!

and maybe I'll have something cute that I can wear more often like this

I am a Super Girl, after all!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Workout Wednesday... Back on the grind

Last Wednesday, I came home from work to a letter from my gym saying they are going to close permanently as of the 20th December! There's two VA gyms in my area, "not financially viable", "we regret", blah blah blah.
I was devastated. I love my little gym. It's not huge and it's not over-subscribed. It's full of friendly staff and members and there's almost always something that you want free. The yoga classes have become a staple in my life and part of what keeps me sane. The facilities are well-kept and the luxury of having a jacuzzi etc is a lovely bonus in a somewhat dreary world.
I struggle to adjust to changes that I don't initiate so I was worried that the loss of my life line was going to make my world fall apart. I am also a drama queen, occasionally.
Luckily, the lovely bods at Virgin Active realised that this would ruin several people's lives and have created a special transfer membership for us to the other, swankier, bigger VA gym in Kingston. For only a slight increase in price, I get access to almost twice as much as before; two jaccuzzis, double the size of gym, double the size of the pool, twice as many classes and more.
So I don't think my world is going to fall apart. I think it's going to be a challenge getting myself into a new routine with the classes etc but there's more classes that will help me to achieve my cardio goals as I really fail at it on my own! Plus a friend of mine trains there so he's gonna be my buddy from time to time and help me when I've lost motivation! I'm almost at the point of being excited about starting at the new gym too and I'm hoping the change will create fresh motivation in me!
Back to the current routine...
I was still poorly with a chest infection last week so I decided to give myself a good rest to recover and not hit hardcore cardio or weights. I went to a lovely Dynamic Yoga class as a tester at the new gym and for a really gentle swim after but that's literally all I did all week!
Sunday afternoon came; I was fully recovered and itching to get my hands on some heavy metal so I took the opportunity and went so hard my arms still ache today! 

I definitely noticed the setback that the sickness and time off caused. I'm weaker than I was two weeks ago and quite annoyed about it but it's made me more determined to get back to where I was and progress from there.
Sunday was biceps / chest day and I definitely felt the burn! Monday was legs day and I squatted hard and, magically, at a deeper angle than I have before! Tuesday was yoga and a good chance to stretch out the burn and clear my head.
I've set myself a challenge for the next week: attempt a spin class! I'm a little scared but I definitely need to up the cardio and the fat burn!
What challenges do you set yourselves? I'd love to try more challenges and shake things up sometimes!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Geography Sundays... Arkansas

Continuing with my "places I'm confused about" theme, this week I bring to you... Arkansas.

Flag of Arkansas

I recently discovered that Arkansas and the place I thought was spelled Arkinsaw are the same place and that whoever created the place had a very strange way of saying what they spelt. Cue raucous laughter from my colleagues.

I genuinely, my whole life, thought they were two different places. I told my twitter followers this and the response was quite evenly divided. Half thought the same as me, half thought I was a moron. Oh well. My mum tells me I'm clever so I don't care. I don't need validation from the Internet. (I do really, hence why I blog. Please love me.)

Anyway, with my new found knowledge of the truth I thought I'd investigate some more and found some lovely little nuggets of knowledge for your noggins.

Residents of the State's capital - Little Rock - are called Little Rockers. I love the mental image this creates - lots of babies dressed as Elvis having a party. Fittingly, Little Rock is the home of Connie Hamzy - perhaps the most prolific groupie of all time, allegedly bedding several rockstars and was propositioned by Bill Clinton in the '90s!

Probably the most prominent Arkansawyer of all time is the late great Johnny Cash. Born and raised in Kingsland, Cash went on to become one of the most famous American musicians of all time and his legacy definitely lives on ten years after his death.
I'm sure that Arkansas has a lot more cultural offerings for us but we don't want to overload on facts.
I think this is definitely a place that I'll visit in my dream tour of the USA!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Fashion Fridays... Forget festive

Firstly - this is me loving life and celebrating my birthday at McClusky's last week! A terribly cliched picture but it made me laugh when I saw it the morning after (which was a truly terribly morning. I'm too old for hangovers now). To my right is Not my sister, before you ask; it's my Partner In Crime, Daniella, who happens to look a lot like me but, as far as we know, we're not related.

Anyway, onto my fashion Friday...

Last week, I posted about the epic necklace that my housemate got me for my birthday. Sadly, when I went to put it on with the birthday outfit, it fell apart! I was really gutted as I'd actually planned my outfit around it (a green silk cami and a highwaisted black skirt and my Louboutins of course).

Yesterday I went to exchange it for a new one in River Island. Disaster struck again; they didn't have any in stock. So I had to spend a long time deliberating and browsing the various ridiculous shiny things they have there before I settled on this awesome alternative!

The picture doesn't do it justice - it's huge and shiny and wonderful and I also Love it.

On my wish list this week is this beautiful faux fur coat. I definitely cannot afford it and there's also no point in having a coat like this in a country of rain but a girl can dream. In my dream, I'm running between fabulous parties in New York and being Carrie Bradshaw.

Image 1 of Unreal Fur Two Tone Short Fur Jacket In Cream and Black

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Workout Wednesdays... Woe is me

My poorliness from last week is still lingering, now in the form of a chest infection. Thus, I'm giving myself a break from my regime and not exerting my body in the hopes of getting better.

I did, however, manage a lovely revitalising yoga session on Saturday which left me feeling quite uplifted. Note - coughing in Downward Dog causes you to fall on your face.

Seeing as I have no update on my new workout plan whatsoever, I think I'd quite like to waffle on about how much I love yoga.

I never thought I would get into yoga as much as I have. I'm not a particularly spiritual person, nor am I very good at letting go of my mind and being 'in the moment'. I've tried yoga classes on and off over the years and never really got into it.

I don't know at what point I realised I love yoga. I started going again earlier in the year after joining my new gym (Virgin Active Kingston, thoroughly recommend it) and something magical clicked. I go for an hour on Tuesday evenings and again on Saturday afternoons and find myself really looking forward to it.

The classes are mixed up every time so I'm constantly challenging myself but definitely noticing improvements. My strength in my arms is improving slowly which means I've got a better foundation for some of the poses and I can really feel a difference in my tight hips which is pleasant.

I'm also finding that the two one-hour sessions are the only part of my week where my brain isn't running at a billion miles an hour. I constantly have a hundred thousand different thoughts in my head, even when I'm running or lifting weights. For some reason, when I'm doing yoga, I'm so centred on that moment and focused on my breathing and the feelings in my body, that it's all that I think about.

I'd love to join an actual yoga school but I really can't afford it unfortunately so for now the two sessions at my gym will have to suffice but I'm so glad I found a love of yoga.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Geography Sundays... Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Whilst helping a friend devise a quiz this week, I stumbled across the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. For once, I actually knew something that someone else didn't about a place! She thought it was a current real place that you could visit. I knew that it's mostly discussed in mythology and no one knows if it's real and / or it's location. Score for me!
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (HGB from now on) are considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World - alongside: the Great Pyramid of Giza; the temple of Artemis; Statue of Zeus at Olympia; Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; Lighthouse of Alexandria; Colossus of Rhodes - but it's the only one that's location  has never been determined, a bit like the Lost City of Atlantis.
There's been several depictions of HGB over the years but most show a lush, Utopian paradise with beautiful vegetation and flowing rivers, like the one below.
The lack of evidence of its existence has caused most historians to refute any of the writings of it by the likes of Quintus Curtius Rufus (no, I never heard of him before either).
Various writers have described it as a myriad of cubes, immensely wide with the grossly thick walls and they also place a lot of emphasis on irrigation.
Still to this day there is no archaeological evidence of it having ever existed. It is possible that there is proof lying under the Euphrates (river) but it is physically impossible to excavate it to investigate.

What we do know is that it's most likely location is in the Middle East, specifically in either Hillah or Nineveh, both in Iraq.
One of the most common tales of the HGB is that Emperor Nebuchadnezzar II create them for his Persian Wife Queen Amytis as she missed the lush waters and greenery of her homeland.
Whichever location, for whichever reason, I'd like the believe they did exist and that it'll be a mystery that we never get to the bottom of. Sometimes, life is good with a little extra mystery!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Fashion Fridays... Birthday goodies!

Yesterday was my birthday! I don't like to admit to how old I am very often but I am now officially 26! I definitely don't feel that old. It's a strange sensation, ageing. I still feel like I did when I was 23 yet now I would be in the "Overs" category on X Factor. Holly is over the Hill. Brilliant.

Anyway, to cheer myself up, I bought myself these shiny earrings. Yes, they're big and tacky and a little chavvy but they make me smile. And they were half price in the New Look sale so I'm double happy about them.

I got a few very shiny lovely things. I think I'm probably quite an easy [predictable] person to pick presents for so people always do really well in choosing things that I love.

My mumma had me a necklace made in the gold souk in Bahrain. It's a beautiful, delicate gold chain with my name inscribed in Arabic on the pendant. I absolutely love it. Me, my mum and brother each have our own with our name in Arabic on and it's another lovely little tie between my lovely little family.

My brother and my nephew got me lots of goodies from Boots: this set which comes in a gorgeous gold bag and smells Divine; these glam glittery polishes perfect for the upcoming festive season; these lush, deep hues which are already adorning my toes; and this set, perfect for creating many looks for the many events coming up soon!

My housemate did a grand job too! She got me these lovely things.


The bling-tastic necklace is a River Island god send and I can't wait to wear it this weekend! The spangly varnish is a Barry M beauty and will definitely be part of my birthday outfit! 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Workout Wednesday... Weekly update

I thought I'd give you a little update about the events of my week, mostly fitness related but also some fun too!

Last week I started my new workout plan. I missed Thursday's workout due to gorging on food and entertainment at Kingston's night StocktMarkt and then an open mic night at the Rose Theatre.

My housemate (Conny) and I went on a little gourmet adventure. To start we devoured a mixed cheese and meat plate from the Social Club van. For mains, we had the world's most beautiful burger from the lovely lads at RareStr'eat and naturally for dessert we simply had to share some churros from these lovely Spaniards.
We then went to Mosaic at The Rose Theatre Cafe where we were thoroughly entertained by the brilliant Bits & Box lads and of course the ever beautifully crazy Tankus the Henge gracing us with their eclectic mix of gypsy funk jazz!
From the fun to the hard work...

As I had the day off on Friday, I went on a mega gym session and did Thursday and Friday's workout back to back. I then discovered that after the two of those, both washing my hair and walking down the stairs were nearly impossible!

I also discovered that I simply cannot do tricep dips due to a wrist injury so I had to modify a lateral pull-down to work my triceps but it went OK. Additionally, watching me attempt to do an incline crunch is about as hilarious as watching a fish try to climb a mountain; I failed miserably. So I got a trainer to show me how to do some ab exercises on the TRX equipment and definitely felt the burn on Saturday!

As I said before, this workout regime is going to be a work in progress and hopefully each week I'll be able to tweak it to make it harder for me and challenge myself.

I'm feeling under the weather this week (read - man flu of death) so may not make it to the gym as much as I'd like but such is life.

And also it's my BIRTHDAY this week so I'll definitely be overindulging in too much food and booze at the end of the week!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Geography Sundays - Bosnia

So Bosnia is next on my "list of places that I thought was somewhere else".

When I hear "Bosnia" it makes me think of listening to the news growing up, around the time that the Gulf War was winding down. If we were playing a word association game, if you said "Bosnia", I would likely say "Gaza Strip". Which is a pointer of where I thought Bosnia was.... in the Middle East. In my mind, I'd grouped Bosnia with Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Considering I've been to the Middle East twice in the last two years (twice to Bahrain, and once to Dubai), I was massively shocked to discover last week that Bosnia is, in fact, in Europe, nestled between Croatia, Serbia & Montenegro.

Despite having been the biggest fan of London 2012 and a repeat offender Eurovision lover, I failed to connect Bosnia with the place in Europe called Bosnia & Herzegovina, apparently.

Google maps has shown me that it's also just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy so I'm assuming the weather's quite nice. Though I always think that Serbia is cold as I get Serbia and Siberia mixed up often too.

Bosnia's capital city is Sarajevo, which I also thought was a desert in the Middle East. Again, apparently not. Bosnia is mostly landlocked, with just 20 kilometres of coastline.

I wonder if people in landlocked countries ever feel claustrophobic. I grew up by the sea and feel anxious if I go for too long without seeing it.

The three official languages of Bosnia are Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. I didn't even know any of them were languages. I'm learning so much while writing this!

I'm afraid Bosnia has proved another place that is hard to find some fun facts about. So here is a fun picture of a recent Eurovision entry from them to entertain you...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Fashion Fridays... Bling

So I may not be the most stylish person on the planet but I do love fashion. Jewellery and shoes more than clothes but I think that is more down to my body type and not feeling so confident in a lot of things that are on trend at the moment (bodycon dresses are my arch nemeses).

My friends and family have often called me a magpie in the past - I just love shiny things! So naturally jewellery is my weakness. Tacky costume pieces more specifically. Previously I have been severely mocked for being tacky but now all the big, blingy, fake gold statement pieces are hotter than fire and everyone's suddenly stopped judging my oversized rings and ridiculous necklaces!

So I bring you Fashion Fridays. I'm fairly sure this is mostly going to be about shiny things that I've bought or dream shoes that I can't afford. Who knows what the fashion fairies will bring into my life that I'll want to share!

This week is just that; shiny rings that I acquired over the weekend and shoes that I wish I had the money and need to buy!

I bought these beauties from New Look this weekend -
Blue (Blue) 4 Pack Blue Mystical Triangle Rings | 285510440 | New Look
I think it was the big cobalt ring that caught my eye and the two either side drew me right in. I think the fourth piece in the set is a little abstract and I probably wouldn't wear it with the set but I've got a necklace it would go well with so it won't get forgotten! The set was only £7.99 so at less than £2 each, I'm super happy with this purchase. They could be worn seperately day to day or as a super set to jazz up an evening outfit and I love them!

This week's dream purchase are these bad boys...

I don't have £1670, nor a place to wear such extravagant fabulousness but I feel like I wouldn't have a care in the world if I owned these. Between Zanotti and Louboutin, my desire levels are constantly through the roof!