4 Months Down – What Are The Chances???

Back at the end of January I updated on my progress against my objectives / resolutions for the year and had assumed I would be doing that every month. However, here I am at the end of April, a third of the year through and this is only the second time I am checking in. I’m ashamed to say I had totally forgotten about some of my objectives as I was focussing on others far too much. Here comes my update for where I am now; I’m glad I’ve done it and it’s reminded me to drive forward with some of my other objectives which aren’t so reliant on money to achieve!

  • Weight 9st7 (or less) by March – somehow have managed to reach 10st…oops!
    • Once again I am still at 10st. I did briefly drop to 9st 9 or so but I was really unhappy and put it all back on. With the threat of summer looming, I am now pushing forward with this one. In all honesty, I’ve done well to keep at 10st given how much I have been eating!
  • Weigh no more than 9st at the end of the year
    • As above
  • End the year with £3,500 credit card debt or less (fair chunk to pay off to reach that!)
    • My strategy on this has changed following my car disaster. I ended up selling the car for far less than I paid for it so the only thing I could do was to use the money to pay off a chunk of my credit card. On this basis, I have achieved this objective but on the other hand, my total debt is still higher than I would like. I do however have to say that the £750 car I drive now is awesome for it’s price; get yourself a Ford Puma if you’re on a budget – they rock! Luckily I bought mine off a friend so I knew it had been really well maintained for the last few years.
  • Read 10 new books
    • So far I have read 2, neither of them particularly intellectual but they were fun. With holidays in the summer, etc. I expect this to go up quite considerably.
  • Star in at least 1 theatre show
    • I didn’t go to the auditions I mentioned in the January post. I have however very recently landed a part in a play called Relatively Speaking which will be on in June 🙂 It’s a new theatre for me as well so it should be a great experience
  • See 12 theatre shows
    • This one is super fun. Have so far seen an amateur show at my local theatre (Neverwhere, was awesome) and went to see Cirque Du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall which was spectacular! (January update)
    • I have booked to go and see The Wizard of Oz in London on 9th May so I am still on track with this one and will get the bf involved in a bit more theatre soon. (April update)
  • Spend 3 weekends away with the bf
    • Finally we have 1 booked in. We are heading to Devon for the bank holiday in June and will be visiting the donkey sanctuary while we are down there. It took a little bit of persuasion to get this in the diary but it’s been done and hopefully we will get the others booked in too.
  • Eat in 6 new restaurants
    • I had totally forgotten about this one but luckily I have started on this path. So far I have eaten at a Yo! Sushi for the first time (first time in a sushi restaurant) and at The Greyhound in Berkshire with my daddy which was super yummy. With holidays, etc. this one should definitely happen.
  • Leave the country 3 times
    • Trip to Budapest booked for July, super luxury as well 🙂 (January update)
    • Holiday to Marrakech booked in with the girls for October; we had a  minor setback with booking but it’s done and I’m excited! (April update)
  • Exercise for at least 1.5 hours per week (up from 0 hours)
    • I am not yet there with this; I was for a few weeks but then have been so busy I haven’t managed it. I am taking a pole class on Mondays for an hour and I had been combining it with a 45min aqua class on Wednesdays but that one has dropped off recently. I’m hoping to start that up again this week…
  • Make my eBay store self sufficient by June (i.e. have enough profit to buy next lot of stock)
    • CLOSED – so many people had the same stock it was just too hard to make a good profit so I figured it was best just to have that time back and take on some other work instead (which I have done).
  • Have a trip to NY booked in (actually have at least deposit paid)
    • This one’s for later in the year
  • Make and try 3 home made beauty products
    • Nada! Have however inherited a heap of non home made products from a friend who is emigrating. The pile of products I have in reserve is MASSIVE. I will use them all though…eventually! (January update)
    • I plan to get on this next week when I have some time off. Have bought some tea tree oil to add to a scrub I have seen on someone’s blog so I’ll be reviewing that soon 🙂

All in all I am doing ok but I had definitely forgotten some of what I was meant to be focussed on. I’m pleased I have some big plans in place but I need to start doing the basic things like reading more, etc. I set these objectives with the aim of keeping a balance and that’s exactly what I need to do; stop just thinking about big things and get into the smaller stuff as well. I also think it’s interesting how many things have already changed from my original plan; a reminder that flexibility can be the key to happiness sometimes!

Is anyone else out there still working on their new year’s resolutions or has everybody given up by now!?! x

Where to Eat (Posh Pub Grub) – Berkshire

I’ve had an absolutely fantastic couple of weeks and finally I have internet and TV again so I can finally update you on what’s been going on and pass my recommendations on to you!

Last week my lovely dad took me out for dinner, partly just because he could and partly because  he was lonely while my step-mum was away. It was kept secret from me until we arrived but his destination of choice was Anthony Worral Thompson’s The Greyhound which is just outside Reading, Berkshire. I’ve heard from friends and family before that the food there is good but had never got round to actually going myself so I was quite excited.

The Bar Area Where We Sat (Taken from The Greyhound website)

Once inside, the venue is split into a bar area and a restaurant area; we were sat in the bar area because they allowed dogs in there so we took my parents’ little bear with us. (He was missing his mummy even more than my dad was!)

Firstly, I must say the service was fantastic, our waiter was really friendly and attentive from the moment we walked in the door. Although, and I must make this clear, I didn’t feel like I was being watched or under pressure as I sometimes do with waiters who are overly attentive. Not only that, but a plastic tub of water was brought out for the dog almost immediately which is a thoughtful touch; often you have to ask for that.

Secondly, we had AWT himself in the kitchen which was nice to see. So many celebrity chefs open establishments and I always wonder just how often they even get round to visiting them. Thirdly, there was live music; we had a singer with a beautiful voice singing Nina Simone, etc. which really added to the atmosphere, making it really relaxed and also ensuring you could have a conversation without feeling everyone else was listening.

Finally I must of course mention the food! There was a set price menu which you could have 1-3 courses off, all 3 was only £14 which is great value. That’s a bit of an early bird deal before 8pm though. There is also the proper restaurant menu and then there is the pub grub menu. Sadly I didn’t think to take any pictures but I can remember what we had and it was delicious!

To start we shared the Chilli-Salt Squid with Spring Onions from the main menu which was amazing! The squid wasn’t chewy at all, the chilli was strong without being overpowering and there were a lot of other flavours also thrown in to make it just that bit different to everywhere else. I highly recommend!

For mains, dad had a fish curry which had fish cakes and big juicy prawns in it. Even the rice was really well flavoured! I had a steak and ale pie with mash, veg. and gravy and it was divine. The pie had a lovely, rustic, homemade feel to it and tasted like love had been put into it. I can’t find those on the website menus so not sure which menu they came from – I think it was the pub grub menu which is only available for lunches or on Wed and Thurs evenings.

I’d like to say we stopped there but we did have dessert. Again, our menu differed slightly to what’s on the web but dad had an almond panettone type thing with custard. Not the sort of thing I would ever order but it was fantastic. It was sweet and full of homely flavour whilst also remaining quite light so it didn’t sit too heavy.  I however, went down the fully chocolatey route: chocolate brownie with chocolate tart and chocolate ice-cream! It was rather rich but all very tasty; the tart was my favourite as the base was really sweet and cut through the richness of the chocolate somewhat.

All in all, it was a very pleasant meal and somewhere I would love to go back to for a lazy Sunday lunch. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend a visit. For the quality of food, the pricing is very reasonable so you should definitely check it out. Oh and don’t forget, it’s dog friendly too! x

Review – Clynol Color Care+ Silver Shampoo

A while ago I stumbled upon some special offer online to buy the Clynol Silver Shampoo for just £3 and being me, I couldn’t resist the bargain. Luckily for me, I do actually have blonde hair so it wasn’t one of those “bargains” that you never end up using.

Just Can't Escape the Flash!

Since then, I have used the shampoo several times and have been meaning to get round to reviewing it because I absolutely love it!

The first time I went to use it, I squeezed the bottle and this happened:

OMG, I have to put that on my hair!?!

Even the bottle itself can't handle that colour!

Just look at the shocking deep purple of that shampoo! I know that silver shampoos are always surprisingly purple as I have used them before but this shampoo is really intense and quite thick too. I was more than a little bit worried about ending up with a blue rinse!

I won’t lie, my hands did end up with something of a blue/purple tinge to them but that washed off within a few hours so it wasn’t too bad. My hair however was so much brighter. Using the shampoo, it lathered well and really made my hair feel clean and stripped of the slime that some products leave behind. Once I’d dried my hair, I could really see my highlights again and it felt light and bouncy as well as looking brilliantly blonde.

This product is so much better than others I have tried; it usually retails around the £10 mark but if you look online you’ll find it for more like £5 plus postage which is really not bad for something you only need to use every now and then. I’ve been using mine weekly and it’s really made a huge difference to how clean my blonde is. It even came in handy when I had my home hair dye issue, it really toned down the orange! (Check out my ombre hair dye experiment, complete with video!)

If you’re looking for something to stretch out the time between highlights or just to liven up your colour a bit, I seriously recommend this product, it is superb. I have another of their shampoos to try out and will be letting you know how that goes soon. x

Nail Strengtheners on Trial

Hello friends! Sorry for being such a bad blogger but last week was mental – so many hours spent working! This week I have no internet so can only post sporadically but will do my best to catch up as I have quite a lot to talk about 🙂

I’m sure I have mentioned before but my finger nails are unbelievably weak and bendy which consequently means that nail polish chips off in a nanosecond and even gels such as Shellac only last a few days. In my world this is simply not good enough; I am far too vain and judgemental to be walking round with scruffy nails.

I tend to go through phases of trying various nail treatments or trying to cover them with polish constantly so they are stronger and the layers stick back together but I get fed up and end up peeling them which makes them even worse. This time, I have decided to tackle the problem from the inside out as well as the outside in. My skin is also looking pretty shocking at the moment as a result of too many late nights and too much chocolate so I bought the following tablets to help as a friend has used them before and said they are good.

From the Inside Out

At £14.95 for a month’s supply, these aren’t the cheapest supplements ever but they are meant to really help tackle any nutritional deficiencies which affect the nails. With my dodgy gut, I know that nutritional deficiencies are definitely playing a part in my problem so I have my fingers crossed that they’ll have something of a positive impact – update on that to come in a month!

I have also purchased Save the Nail T0ughen Up Base Coat for £7.50 which I think is a fairly new product and is one which is designed as a treatment you apply every day for 7 days then remove and start again.

From the Outside In

My camera, especially on my phone isn’t that great so the quality of the next picture isn’t as good as I would like but I also wanted to show you the current state of my nails so you could get a feel for what I am dealing with. This is them looking relatively good:

Current State

If you look carefully at my index and ring fingers, you can see some of the peeling and that’s not a particularly bad case. Sometimes my nails end up paper thin due to the peeling!

Anyone out there got any good tips on how to get your nails on track from this point? (Mine have never been long or strong, I used to be a biter!) If not, these are the products I will be trialling in conjunction with each other for the next month and will post some more pictures then to let you know how I’ve got on and properly review the products. x

The Empty Space You Never Knew Was There

This gloriously long bank holiday weekend just gone, the bf and I were once again dog sitting, however this time it was not my parents’ delectable Miniature Schnauzer, it was a friend’s Beagle. Meet Harry:

Harry - Such a Handsome Boy!

Now I have to admit that compared to the Schnauzer, Harry was a handful. He jumped all over my furniture, left muddy paw prints on my leather sofa and left fur EVERYWHERE! (The Schnauzer doesn’t malt at all!) That’s not even mentioning the walk we went on with said Schnauzer when Harry disappeared into the woods for a good 10 minutes – just long enough to make my dad and I panic that we had really lost him. I could also mention his vile bottom activity, vomiting, stealing other dogs’ toys, keeping us awake at night…but you get the picture!

However, he was so happy to see us every time we entered a room; he snuggled into me on the sofa and generally looked so adorably cute at all times that he had a really calming effect on me. The Schnauzer also has the same effect – and he’s a puppy so has that cute puppy innocence going for him as well.

Both dogs get away with murder and thoroughly mess up my life whilst they’re here but they’re so worth it. As soon as they go I feel sad enough to cry, like someone has stolen part of my core being. It really makes me wonder how I get by day to day without a dog to lavish my affection on and how people live without animals in their lives.

So there it is; the empty space I never notice until its filled. Until I have a lifestyle that lets me fill it, I’ll just keep on dog-sitting as and when people are happy to let me. If you’ve never had a dog, I seriously suggest you go out there and spend some time with one, they are just awesome! x

Review – Makeup Academy (MUA) BB Foundation

As regular readers who have read my review of Maybelline’s Dream Nude Airfoam Foundation will know, I have begun a quest looking for a lighter feeling foundation to replace my Clinique Repairwear Anti-Ageing Foundation which I’ve been using for the past few years. I love my Clinique foundation but my skin has been rather rubbish recently so I’ve been hoping to find a lighter foundation for days when it’s not too covered in blemishes in the hope that it will improve a bit.

However, my start with the Maybelline  foundation didn’t go too well and I was still on my quest. BB creams and foundations are massive at the moment so I thought I’d try one of those and after some quick Googling to see what was out there, I thought I’d try the Makeup Academy (MUA) BB Foundation. At just £4 for a tube, I figured that no matter what I thought, it would definitely be worth a try. You can buy most MUA makeup in Superdrug stores but my local store didn’t seem to have any of this so I used their online shop and the delivery was really quick.

MUA BB Foundation

The first downside which I’ve noticed other people commenting on as well is that the foundation only comes in 3 colours; Light, Medium and Dark. Given my rather porcelain complexion, I figured Light would be the best shade for me. Shockingly, although I usually have the lightest shade of all foundations, the Light colour was a bit too light for me. The foundation was the same colour as the lightest parts of my skin which meant that I just looked that little bit too pale and slightly less healthy than the glow my Clinique gives me.

Applying the foundation isn’t great, it’s really quite thick and despite it being a BB foundation, I really felt like I still needed a primer underneath to help it smooth over my skin. Coverage-wise however, it really came into its own; I would never have expected such good coverage from a bargain foundation. It evened out my skin tone well and covered my enlarged T-zone pores as well. It didn’t look like that by the end of the day, I’d say you’d  need a lunchtime top-up if you wanted to look flawless for a whole day but not bad for the price.

However, when I got home that evening, I did have a few blemishes that I hadn’t started the day with. I wasn’t sure if that was just coincidence or not so I waited a few days and then gave it another go and it wasn’t as bad but I did end the day with a blemish that wasn’t there at the beginning. So, if you have blemish-prone skin, you should just keep a watch on this in case you experience the same.

The final thing that makes me question this foundation as a good choice for me is that unlike a lot of BB products, it’s not got any SPF. My current foundation is SPF 15 and for somebody as pale as me, that’s an absolute lifesaver in the summer months as I tend to burn if I so much as look at the sun.

Overall, for £4 a pop, I’d say this is a great product. However, if you’re used to the staying power of something higher quality, I’d say give it a miss. It would be excellent for someone who has good skin and only wears makeup for nights out and therefore only needs a base for other makeup and for it to last a few hours at a time.

Unfortunately for me, after trying this, I decided that sticking with my current foundation would probably be the way forward for now. However, when I went to buy some more last week, I was informed that it has been discontinued; the one I bought was pretty much the last one in Reading in my colour. Therefore, my hunt will continue so watch this space for more foundation reviews and please do let me know if you have any ideas! x

Experiment – Ombre / Dip Dye My Own Hair!

Hello again friends! For those of you who haven’t seen me on a weekly basis for the last few months to hear me moaning about my hair, I have been growing it out for 4 months whilst I decide what to do with it. My last two hair cuts have been relatively severe to take a lot of frazzled hair off the bottom; too my bleach and heat on fine hair is not good! I know the bleach is the real killer but I so love being blonde that I’ve been completely baffled re what to do with my hair.

Finally, I decided I’d follow the ombre / dip-dye trend so that I could keep a lot of my blonde but also lay off the bleach for a while. On that basis, my 4 months’ root growth was a great idea but I still felt I just looked like I had massive roots. So, finally this weekend, I purchased hair dye and decided to do something about it. Having not dyed my own hair in about 8 years, I was pretty nervous but I figured I’d be able to dye over it if it went terribly wrong.

It didn’t exactly go to plan so here’s a link to my video where you can see exactly what happened. Note that I started the video optimistically thinking it would be a great “how-to”, now it’s useful pre-dye watching to ensure yours is better!

Check it out and let me know what you think… x

My Ombre Hair…Or Not – The Video!