Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Style Inspiration | El's Fashion Fix

This month in my style inspiration series I'm excited to be featuring Elise from El's Fashion Fix! I've been reading El's blog for a while now and every outfit she posts gives me major style envy! Her outfit posts are always a delight to read as she is so lovely and always so smiley and happy in her pictures! She's kindly let me use some of her pictures for this post so please note that all the photos below belong to El.


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Sunday, 26 June 2016

6 Days of DIY

What do most people do when they're off work? Go on holiday, hang out with friends, have a bit of chill time etc etc. And what do we do when we have time off work? DIY of course! I went back to work on Thursday after some time off which included a nice weekend for Nick's birthday and also six days of hardcore DIY. If you haven't read my blog before then you won't know that Nick and I are currently renovating our first house. I wanted to show what we got done in the time because six days really isn't that long and I'm so pleased that we worked all the way through them (literally 9am-9pm!) because it just goes to show what we can actually get done if we put some effort in! Sorry for the quality of the pictures, I only decided I wanted to do this post after we'd done the work so the first few are from snapchat!










We got the wooden floor sanded and varnished, the walls painted, coving put up, shelves installed and painted and the fireplace and all the woodwork painted too. The room is now pretty much finished apart from a few last touch ups! I'm not sure if I'll do a proper transformation post on this room because it's actually our guest bedroom, but we're going to be using it as a living room while we decorate downstairs! 

What do you think of our six day transformation?

Amy x
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Friday, 24 June 2016

Off The Shoulder


As I was writing the title for the post I mis-typed it as 'over the shoulder' and instantly the phrase 'over the shoulder boulder holder' popped into my head and made me lol - anyone else used to be obsessed with the Georgia Nicholson books? I kind of want to take a trip down memory lane and read them again, but something tells me they probably wouldn't be quite as good as I thought they were at the time. 

Anyway...this outfit. I love the off the shoulder trend that popped up everywhere as soon as we saw the slightest hint of sun, but I have quite broad shoulders so it can be difficult for me to pull off. I think I just about get away with it with this top though because it's quite floaty. Plus I would probably have bought it anyway because I love the pattern and the colour - red is my favourite colour but I hardly ever wear it anymore, I guess I've got more safe in my old age! 

The good news is that I've managed to do an outfit post without wearing white trainers, the bad news is that I am yet again wearing my Joni jeans, but I guess it just goes to show what my real wardrobe staples are. I couldn't really wear this top with anything else because it's so floaty I felt like I needed skinny jeans to offset that. 

Let's talk about the shoes...these are from last summer and were my absolute favourites then and they've resurfaced and become my absolute favourites again. They're so comfy for wedges and so supportive too and I can actually manage the 40 minute walk to work in them without hobbling/crying. Plus I like the height because it makes my legs look a little less like two little stumps!






Top - New Look (here)
Jeans - Topshop (here)
Shoes - Asos (old)

What do you think of this outfit? Are you a fan of the off the shoulder trend?

Amy x

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Why We Need More Understanding of Disability


I want to clarify straight away that it is totally fine not to understand disability and that's kind of the whole point behind this post - that there seems to be a lack of education and/or experience in society surrounding disability, which has resulted in a lot of people feeling completely out of their depth when they find themselves in situations involving disabled people. 

I wanted to write this post after hearing a statistic that really horrified me - 90% of pregnant women have an abortion after finding out their baby is at high risk of having down syndrome. I can't say how accurate this figure is, just that it came from a down syndrome campaigner. At first I was appalled, but after chatting to a few friends about it I realised that as someone who has grown up around disability I was jumping to the conclusion that women were doing this because they just didn't like the idea of having a baby with down syndrome, when in fact they're doing it because they're downright scared. And why are they scared? Because they have absolutely zero knowledge or experience of disability. Obviously I'm not saying you shouldn't have an abortion if you want one, but the fact that people are so uninformed is a big issue and must contribute significantly to this figure.

For someone who hasn't had any experience around those with disabilities it must be so difficult to know how to act around people with disabilities, never mind begin to understand them so I think it's really sad that people aren't being given the knowledge they need. Women can be in a situation where there is a chance their baby may have down syndrome and they're still not being given enough information.

I think people who do have experience of disability are quick to judge those who don't and I've learnt over time to see it from a different perspective. When I was younger I glared at any other child who dared to stare at my sister, but now I realise it's natural curiosity for a child to be interested in something they haven't come across before. Only a few years ago Nick admitted to me that the first time he saw my sister eat he felt a bit sick (it can be a messy affair!). If he'd told me that at the time I would have completely flown off the handle at him, but when he told me I understood that yes, for someone who hasn't seen Bethany eat before, it's probably slightly off putting.

The fact that I've grown used to people not understanding disability doesn't mean I think people shouldn't. I think there needs to be better education, particularly around mental disabilities that a lot of people don't know how to deal with and better integration within society (in Hull a lot of mainstream schools are now twinned with SEN schools, which I think is great).

I don't really know how to end this post because basically I've just moaned about a problem and not really worked out how to solve it. But I suppose what I'm trying to say is, let's be more tolerant of each other - if someone doesn't understand disability don't jump down their throat because it may just be lack of experience and alternatively, if someone has a disability why not make the effort to better understand it?

Do you agree with any of the points I've made in this post? (If I put them across clearly enough!)

Amy x

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Fitness: C25K Running App


I've touched upon fitness before on this blog and if you read my Fit February series you may remember that I attempted (and miserably failed) my running week (post here). My attitude to health and fitness has really changed this year  and I'm focusing on eating and exercising to keep fit and healthy rather than to lose weight as I've tried in the past, which just made me miserable. 

Since the weather has got a bit (emphasis on the word bit) nicer I've been wanting to exercise outside rather than do my YouTube workouts indoors. On a whim one evening in April I downloaded the C25K app (the free one with the orange logo) and vowed to start the very next day. 

The aim of the app is to get you running 5k in 8 weeks and it is aimed at people who haven't run before and who aren't particularly fit. It starts off by building your stamina using interval training to ease you into running, with each week challenging you to run a little further before taking a break. You're supposed to go three times a week, which really is doable! The app is so easy to use as it tells you when to stop and start, plus you can still listen to music on your phone at the same time! Also, if you feel out of your depth you can repeat days until you complete them. The only bad point about the app is that it doesn't have GPS and works solely with time so once I started the longer runs I used Map My Run at the same time to track how far I was actually running.


Week 1 | 5 minute warm-up walk, 60 seconds of jogging followed by 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. As someone who was already exercising I found the first week fairly doable, as you get such big breaks in between running. I would imagine this could be challenging if you haven't run before, but definitely still doable!

Week 2 | 5 minute warm-up walk, 90 seconds of jogging followed by 2 minutes of walking for 20 minutes. Again, I found this week fairly easy because even though you increase the amount of time you're running for you also increase your rest time. I wouldn't say it was any more difficult than the first week, just different!

Week 3 | 5 minute warm-up walk, 90 second jog, 90 second walk, 3 minute jog, 3 minute walk then repeat. When I saw this pop up on the app I thought it was a huge jump up to 3 minutes, but you get a three minute walk afterwards which was nice! It was a bit of a challenge, but I found the run actually went faster when I was running for longer chunks of time!

Week 4 | 5 minute warm-up walk, 3 minute jog, 90 second walk, 5 minute jog, 2.5 minute walk, repeat. I was definitely ready to stop after 5 minutes, but again I found that running for longer chunks of time made the whole run feel shorter and by the end of it I felt like I could probably do more. Also at the very end of week 4 a nice little message popped up congratulating me for getting halfway through! 

Week 5 | This week is different every day, building up to the end of the week when there's the first big run of 20 minutes without stopping! It does seem like a big jump (and feels like one!) when earlier in the week the longest you've run for at a time is 8 minutes! I could have easily stopped after 10 minutes, but I kept going and even though I was so tired and red faced it felt like such an achievement!

Week 6 | The first 2 sessions of week 6 take you back to interval training, which felt quite easy after doing the big run and was quite nice to go back to. The third day is another long run at 22 minutes without stopping. This was a challenge, but I completed it again and at this point was feeling so good about myself!

Week 7 | Week 7 is pretty brutal I'm not gonna lie! It consists of 3 25 minute runs with no walking and I didn't find it got any easier as the week went on! I did keep track of my pace though using Map My Run and managed to improve my pace slightly each day so maybe that's why it didn't get easier! 

Week 8 | This week again consists of three long runs, 2 at 28 minutes and then one at 30 which is supposed to be your 5k. I actually did slightly over 5k on my final run, but found it a massive struggle! I was so tired and definitely could have stopped halfway through (and would have if I hadn't  wanted to complete it so bad!). 


I'm so chuffed that I achieved my 5k - it's the furthest I've ever run without stopping and I'm determined to carry on running and keep my fitness up. I would definitely recommend this app as it really does work! For me I think it worked psychologically rather than physically - I think fitness wise I probably could have run 5k before doing this, but I never would because I didn't think I would be able to, plus I would have stopped as soon as I got tired, whereas the app kept me going!

Since finishing it I've been going running twice a week and I have to admit I haven't actually achieved 5k again and am tending to run between 3 and 4k. I'm aiming to get my pace up and hopefully eventually 5k will feel comfortable enough for me to start training for 10k! 

Do you run? Have you tried this app? Would you?

Amy x
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Friday, 17 June 2016

All Wrapped Up


Enter my new favourite outfit - a wrap top (which is actually a body i.e. the comfiest thing to wear with anything high waisted) paired with a wrap skirt. I don't own anything else like either of these and I really don't know why I haven't ventured into the world of wrap tops before because they're so flattering. I wouldn't usually go for a body because whenever I think of them I just imagine Beyonce wearing one by itself and unfortunately that's not really me...however picking this one up has made me realise just how useful they are for wearing under high waisted things - no double checking you're all tucked in and this one has poppers so you don't have to get completely undressed when you go to the toilet (sorry if that's TMI but I feel like many of you will understand!).








The skirt is one of those scary ones that's just held together with a little button and the tie that you do up yourself so there is a slight fear when I put this on about whether it's actually going to hold up all day, but so far so good. I love the stripes and the colours and luckily for me it goes with the top perfectly. I also like the length of the skirt because it's work appropriate which ultimately means I will wear it more!

Yet again I'm wearing my babin' trainers from Tu, which dress down this outfit nicely meaning I can wear it alla the time! I think this might be the third outfit post in a row I've worn them in, but I really am wearing them so much because they're so comfortable and didn't even need wearing in.

I've been getting a bit braidy recently and this hairstyle was an attempt to channel my inner Daenerys Targaryen, although I couldn't look less like a mother of dragons in these pictures if I tried.

Top - New Look (here)
Skirt - New Look (here)
Trainers - Tu (here)

What do you think of this outfit? Do you wear wrap skirts/tops?

Amy x

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

My Most Worn Spring Outfits


I did one of these style posts for my most worn winter outfits (here) and I really enjoy looking back at what I've been loving wearing throughout the past few months so I thought I'd do it again for my most worn spring outfits! Most of these are pretty casual as I seem to have been dressing down a fair bit recently!

Double denim



I've been absolutely loving this denim parka jacket I picked up from Tu back in April. It's so easy to wear and the perfect spring cover up which, let's face it, is definitely needed in England! I've been wearing it with my black Joni jeans from Topshop, a pair of white trainers and then any one of my many striped tops!


The salmon shirt 


I'm not a pink person, but this blouse from New Look has probably been my most worn item this spring. It's just so easy to throw on and, like most blouses, just makes it look like I've made more effort than I have! I wear it with either my Joni jeans or my Jamie jeans from Topshop and as an outfit it goes with pretty much any pair of shoes so I'm able to decide depending on the weather!


The check shirt


As I said I've been big on casual and comfy clothes this spring and this shirt from H&M has been perfect, again on days where I don't want to make the effort but I want to look like I have (can you see a theme emerging here?). I really want to pick up some more of these in different colours too. Also I promise I don't literally wear my Joni jeans all the time, but I just happen to be in all of the pictures so far!


The casual culottes 


These are a more recent addition to my wardrobe, but I've worn them so much already and I think they'll continue to be a staple throughout summer. They're from Topshop and they're just so comfortable and floaty so perfect for days when we actually get some decent weather!

Which outfit is your favourite? What have you been wearing throughout spring?

Amy x
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Sunday, 12 June 2016

How I Stay Organised




I did a post last year talking about how I juggle blogging with a full time job (here), but today I wanted to write about how I juggle everything. I'm still not the most organised person in the world, but recently I feel like I've finally got on top of juggling a full time job, my blog, renovating a house and keeping fit and healthy (mostly!). I recently had the opportunity to contribute to Pow Wow Now's Ultimate Guide to Flexible Working which is really helpful for busy bees like me and is full of tips from people in similar situations. Building on that, with a little help from the team at Pow Wow Now who sent me a lovely box of goodies to help me through the working week, here's a little lowdown of how I stay organised throughout the week: 


Work | I always make sure I have my work shifts written down in my diary because staying organised means knowing what I'm working so I can fit the rest of my life around it! I work very varied shifts so planning is key to making sure I get everything else done. Once I've got my work shifts in my diary it means I can sit down and plan my week around them. Because I plan lots of things in my diary it's good to colour code (#whatageek) and I got some coloured gel pens* from Paperchase in my goodie box that will be perfect for that!


Blog | I schedule pretty much all of my blog posts at least a week in advance. I know there are a lot of people who think that blogging should be spontaneous and not too planned, but I would barely post anything if that were the case for me! I tend to use my weekends to make sure everything is finished for the week ahead and it really puts my mind at ease knowing I've got the whole week scheduled! I keep a to do list for each post to make sure I've got everything I need in it and that I've proof read it before I've hit schedule! I used to make my blog to do lists on little post-it notes, but now I've been sent this Paperchase Notebook* I'll be keeping them in there instead (no more post-its going missing!)


House Renovation | Aside from my blog this is the only area of my life that I keep a to do list for. Sometimes I think to do lists are too much pressure (I feel like a failure if I don't get something crossed off!) so I try to make them as realistic as possible. We tend to work on the house when we've both got a free weekend so I'll make a list of the things we're hoping to get done that weekend. Lists really are my best friend when it comes to the house renovation because I also keep a log of how much we've spent, how much money we've got left and a separate log of each room!


Health and Fitness | On a weekend I sit down with my diary and plan my meals and workouts for the week ahead based around what shifts I'm working that week. I plan my meals for the week based on whether they need to be something I can take into work or cook at home and I plan my workouts for the days where I'm working the shortest shifts. Because I'm so busy it can be difficult to stay healthy as quite often I'm just after something quick and filling so I was chuffed to find some Nakd bars* in my box, as they are one of my favourite snacks and are so easy to throw in my bag for fuel throughout the day. It's also so easy to binge drink tea and coffee at work (and at home for that matter) and in a bid to drink less caffeine I've been taking my own herbal teas into work so I'm really excited to try this Jasmine Pearls tea* from Teapigs - and how cute is the little box?!

How do you stay organised throughout the week? I'd love some more tips if you have any! 

Amy x
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Friday, 10 June 2016

Girl Power

I feel like my style is getting more and more pyjama like with each post I write and I think today's is about as far as I can push it without actually wearing my pyjamas outside...


This is basically how I dress on a weekend unless I'm doing something nice (and let's face it, my weekends are usually full of DIY, housework and supermarket trips). I just like being comfortable on a weekend and this ensemble (yep my outfit is comparable to an orchestra) is about as comfy as it gets.

The t-shirt isn't my usual style, but in a moment of Spice Girls nostalgia I ordered it. Nick even calls me 'Amy Spice' when I wear it which basically makes my life. It's also really soft and was only £8 so it would have been rude not to...

The trousers are really old from New Look and I love the print as well as the fact that they go with everything all the while feeling like I haven't even changed out of my pyjama bottoms. I usually wear trainers or some other comfortable shoes on a weekend and although you can't really see these ones particularly well in the pictures they're the same ones from Tu that were in my last outfit post (here).





Top - Boohoo via Asos (here)
Trousers - New Look (old)
Trainers - Tu (here)
Bag - Primark (old)

How do you dress on a weekend? What do you think of this outfit?

Amy x


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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Spring Favourites

Each season I round up my favourite products I've been using - here's what I've been loving during spring!


The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter | This is probably up there as my number one favourite product this season and I've been using it to remove my make up every day. It's so good at removing make up (including eye make up) but so gentle at the same time - I think it's the only make up removal product that doesn't sting my eyes! The scent is very subtle but so calming if you're using it before bed and it just feels nice to use.

Lush Cup o' Coffee Face Mask | I did a full review on this product here so I won't say too much about it, but I will yet again tell you how amazing it smells. It makes my skin so soft as well as making it look healthy and awake.

Rimmel Lip Liner in Spice | I bought three Rimmel lip liners when they were three for two a while ago, but this one is by far my favourite. It's the perfect base for almost any colour lipstick, but is also lovely just on it's own. I've mainly been using it as a base for nude pinks to make them look that little bit more vibrant although I have worn it on it's own a lot too as it's a lovely colour!

Lush Salted Coconut Hand Scrub | I've also reviewed this product in full (here), but basically this is a DIY-er's dream because it sorts out your hands so well (which if left to their own devices would just become a dry crusty mess...).

What are your favourite products at the moment? Have you tried any of these?

Amy x
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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Office Transformation


After the bedroom (transformation post here) we moved on to decorating an office as Nick has recently got a new job that means he works from home quite regularly, plus I can also have an official blogging space!

Before



When we moved in this room was fully wallpapered and carpeted (in scarily bright colours!). There was a blocked up chimney breast in there and a big airing cupboard where the boiler was kept. There were also foam ceiling tiles (hardest things to remove!). Lack of wall space and the presence of the big window meaning this is a nice bright room meant it was the obvious choice for an office!

During

Firstly we had the gas heater taken out and replaced with a radiator. After stripping the wallpaper off we discovered that the walls weren't in great condition and that the chimney breast hadn't been properly blocked up. After toying with the idea of opening it up we decided we didn't need the hassle so blocked it up properly ourselves and put an air brick in. We got the walls re-plastered and also replaced an old horsehair wall with plasterboard. On ripping the carpet up we were pleasantly surprised to find the floorboards weren't in too bad a condition and seeing as we had already bought a big rug for the room we decided to just sand these down and varnish them. At this point we discovered a lot of woodworm marks in the floorboards (at which point I panicked) BUT top tip if you live in an old house, these marks are usually decades old and the woodworm itself is long gone. A quick way to check is the lay some paper down over the wood for a couple of weeks and if there are no marks in the paper there isn't any there (hooray!). We painted the walls and jazzed up the airing cupboard with some beading.

After







The colour on the walls is another Wilko number called Oatmeal. My mum made the blind with some fabric we bought from Dunelm. The desk, rug and chair are from IKEA, as is the blanket box we've had for a while. My favourite little area of this room is around the radiator. We bought a radiator cover and painted it white then decorated it with a couple of plants, my favourite big clock and a picture of the two of us (aw).

What do you think of our office space? How do you/would you have yours decorated?

Amy x 
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