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GUEST POST: How to be P-Awesome


Hello, my name is Buddy and I'm a two year old Jack Russell terrier. I'm the undisputed king of my house, and my human subjects live to serve me. As I've got life so well figured out, I've been asked to write this guest post, advising you on how to become a majestic son-of-a-bitch, just like me. (That isn't rude because I am literally the son of a bitch.)

How to: Get everything you want
You want something? Wee on it. You heard me. Every time you wee on something, it automatically becomes yours. By this technique, I own every single bush within a 2 mile radius of my house. It's super effective! So if you want that lovely new desk planner in Paperchase, just do a little wee on  it and claim it as your own. Nobody else is going to want it once you've done that! Sorted.


How to: Deal with your enemies
Everyone has enemies. My arch nemesis is a blackbird that always sits on my garden fence, singing away. What a menace! I hate him! I deal with this fiend by incessantly barking at him. I keep on barking, even if he has departed some ten minutes ago. I recommend that you take the same attitude towards your enemies. If you can't bark as well as me, just screaming blue murder at them works too.



How to: Have the best of everything
Steal your friends' possessions! Even if you have the exact same toy as your friend, theirs is better somehow. You don't know why or how, but that is definitely true. You should always attempt to steal whatever toy it is that your friend has, and guard all of the toys in your bed. Even though you can only play with one toy at a time, you need to have all of them. If your friend tries to take a toy back, growl loudly at them to show them who's boss. 


How to: Woo your beloved
I am a real ladies man. The girls just love me! The fact that I'm the only boy dog in a house of female dogs has absolutely nothing to do with it. I like to woo the ladies by sniffing their butts. They can't resist me! I recommend that you waltz up to your would-be lover, wag your tail, and then take a good sniff at their butt. They'll be putty in your hands! You can thank me later.

Life can be ruff if you're not as p-awesome as me, so I hope that this post will help you! 🐾

If your dog does any of the same daft things as me, please share in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x         Buddy


#SaveTheBees*



If you're a lover of avocados, blueberries, oranges, and even fresh cotton t-shirts, listen up! The humble bee plays an incredibly important role in fertilising the crops that allow these commodities to be grown, and make it to our tables (and wardrobes!). Bees are the world's biggest force of crop pollinators - it is thought that we rely on them for one third of the food we consume each day!

But our friend the bee is under threat! Some species of bee are approaching extinction. Increased pesticide use has driven their numbers down, as has a decline in the growth of pollen-rich plants and flowers. Since I live on a farm, the productivity of which is very dependent on bees, I am well aware of the importance attached to these tiny insects. So, in order to (hopefully!) convince you that saving the bees is a very worthy cause, I'm going to be sharing with you just a couple of things that we would lose if the bees were to die out. Firstly, there's a recipe for some mouthwatering honey and orange muffins, and to accompany them, some delicious honey and spring water drinks from the lovely people at Just Bee*.


Let's kick things off with a recipe! Here's how to whip up a batch of deliciously sticky honey and orange muffins!

You will need:
Plain flour (1 cup)
Baking powder (2 teaspoons)
1 egg
Orange juice (¼ cup)
Grated orange rind (1 teaspoon)
Honey (½ cup)

Method:
Step One: Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius, 170 degrees in a fan oven, or Gas Mark 5. Place your muffin cases inside the tray.
 
Step Two:
Sift flour and baking powder together and mix thoroughly. 

Step Three:
Using a grater or a similar tool, zest one orange. This should provide you with one teaspoon of rind. Then cut the orange open and extract the juice. Don't use orange juice from a carton for this - it won't taste right!

Step Four: 
Mix together the orange juice, the zest, the egg and the honey. Combine this with the flour and baking powder mixture.

Step Five:
Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon. This is essential as it will ensure that there is plenty of air in your muffins - this will help them rise in the oven as they bake.

Step Six:
Transfer the mixture into the muffin cases. I used a jug for this job as it helped to minimise any mess!

Step Seven:
Place the muffins into the oven and cook for around 12 minutes, until they are golden brown on top. To test if they are cooked, remove them from the oven and press the top of the muffin gently with your finger. If the muffin bounces back, it's cooked. If it doesn't, place it back in the oven for another couple of minutes.

Your muffins should look like the ones in the below picture once you pull them out of the oven!


Now that we've cooked up some sweet treats, it's time to think about what we're going to serve them with! I was lucky enough to receive some delicious drinks to sample from Just Bee, in three yummy flavours: Apple and Ginger, Blueberry, and finally, Lemon and Green Tea. Just Bee drinks are made from spring water, enriched with a single drop of honey. The flavours are subtle, light, and very refreshing. I selected the Apple and Ginger flavour to accompany my muffins. I enhanced the thirst-quenching qualities of the drink by making my own ice cubes using the Apple and Ginger honey water, and serving it with a slice of lemon. As well as being the perfect complement to my muffins, Just Bee drinks are low in calories, free from any artificial sweetners, and high in natural antioxidants - all thanks to the honey content.


By now, I hope you agree that saving the bees is an important cause -  not just because of all the delicious treats that bees provide, but because of their impact on global agriculture as a whole. 

But what can you do to save the bees? Just Bee drinks can help! They can provide you with some FREE wildflower seeds so that you can plant some bee-friendly flowers in your garden, providing our buzzy friends with a vital habitat! Get a free pack of seeds sent out to you by filling out this simple form.

Are you a friend to the bees? Have you tried Just Bee drinks? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Until next time,

A x

*This post contains samples that were sent to me for review.

Growing Up as the Home Schooled Kid

"Abbey?"
"Who?"
"Abbey - you know? *whispers* The home schooled kid?"

Welcome to the first 16 years of my life. I never went to school. I was the weirdo that was taught at home by her Mum alongside her two siblings. Every time I met someone new as I was growing up, I had to regurgitate the same answers to the same questions. I even began to predict in what order they'd be asked - they were almost always identical. "Why don't you go to school?" "Who teaches you?" " Is your Mum a teacher?" "How do you take exams?" And sometimes, even "Is there something wrong with you?" Well, I can assure you now, there's absolutely nothing right wrong with me. 

I'm here today to share my growing up experiences in collaboration with another wonderful blogger, Abbie from AbbieChic.com. Abbie approached me, asked if I'd like to collab, and of course I agreed! Starting here, we'll be writing monthly posts together called the Ab Fab Collab. You can read Abbie's post here, it's all about how being in your 30's doesn't necessarily mean that you have to grow up! It's a great read, so click to her blog once you're done with mine.


Anyway, back to me being weird. Until I began attending sixth form at the age of 16 in order to take my A-levels, "weirdo" could've replaced "Louisa Rose" as my middle name. To help you understand my childhood and how I grew up, I've answered below some of the main questions that I was faced with during this time. I hope that they give you some insight into what my lovely, non-standard life was like while I was growing up, and I also hope that some unflattering stereotypes of homeschooling can be dispelled!

Why were you home schooled?
I was an early starter. I was reading and writing from a very young age (I won a handwriting contest when I was three), so my parents thought that it made no sense for me to start school at age 5 with all the other kids and sit through years of being taught what I already knew. Instead, I learned at my own pace at home, with my Mum supporting me through every subject. My Mum is incredibly intelligent so she had no problem tutoring me to a high standard. I took my first GCSE (in French, in case you're wondering) just before my eleventh birthday and came out with an A. Home schooling allowed me to pursue my interests and learn as fast or as slow as necessary.

Did you have a social life?
YES! It is such a misconception that home schooled kids have no social skills. Pretty much every night of the week throughout childhood I attended some kind of youth group or club. Swimming, gymnastics, music lessons, Girl Guides, kickboxing - I did it all. I had just as many friends as the average school kid, although I was always the weird one. At some stage I think I decided just to own the weird kid persona. Sometimes I did have the overwhelming desire just to be "normal", but now I'm ever so glad that I wasn't. Growing up as the home schooled kid made me who I am today and I wouldn't change that.

Why did you decide to go to sixth form?
I wanted to experience the sterotypical education system, just to see what it was like. I went to a rather crappy sixth form, where many of the teachers couldn't care less (so long as you scraped a grade C), and at times I wished that my Mum was still teaching me. However, I wouldn't give up the friends that I made there for anything. I met three people that stuck by my side through one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of my life, and those three still mean the absolute world.

Me, aged 5, on holiday in Gran Canaria


Was transitioning into sixth form and uni difficult?
These transitions are probably hard for pretty much anyone who goes through them. I was frustrated somewhat at sixth form because of the slow pace of the lessons and the fact that I'd only get to study a subject for an hour at a time. I was used to spending a whole day on English, then a whole day on History etc. at home, and getting really into it, rather than carving my day up into 1 hour lesson blocks. It didn't take me long to adjust though. At uni, you're expected to be an independent learner, and my experiences learning at home really helped me with this.

Was it hard to be disciplined at home?
The fact that my Mum did such an excellent job with making learning fun meant that I woke up every morning really excited to start studying! We had a structured school day, where we started lessons at 9am and ended at 3.30pm, like most schools, but we were able to pick our own timetables and do whatever subject we felt like every day, provided that we got everything done. It worked really well and that love of learning that I gained whilst growing up has never left me!

And most importantly... did you sometimes study in your pyjamas?
Obviously! I mean, who wouldn't if they had the opportunity?!

If you have any more questions about growing up while being home schooled, do comment below and I will answer. Don't forget to check out Abbie's growing up post as well!

Until next time,

A x

The Ultimate Lazy Girl Manicure*

I'm totally hopeless in the nail department. I once tried to paint my nails bright red and ended up looking like an extra from a horror movie. That's why I was thrilled to get the opportunity to try out Dinki Belle's nail wraps, which promised 14 day wear and a fast and simple application process.


Everything that you need to apply the nail wraps is provided in the packs from Dinki Belle. You receive a set of 20 individual nail wraps, an instruction card to tell you how to apply them, and a set of utensils, which comprises a nail file, and some plastic and wooden tools. All of the items are packaged together in a pretty pink tulle bag.


The design that I chose was 'Mint Dream'. I loved the combination of patterned and block-coloured wraps, which I thought would look lovely when applied! As well as their obvious aesthetic qualities, I was attracted to these nail wraps after reading an article on Dinki Belle's site about the health benefits of choosing a nail wrap over traditional nail polish. To summarise the article, which you can read in full by clicking here, there are many toxic chemicals present in some nail varnishes, which although legal, can be damaging to your health. Dinki Belle's nail wraps are free from any such chemicals and are therefore much safer to use.

But now, onto the fun stuff! How did the nail wraps hold up in my test?


Appearance
I'm sure you'll agree that these nail wraps look awesome! When I showed my new nails to my Mum, she couldn't believe that they were stick-on! I have had loads of compliments since applying the wraps, with many people commenting on what a professional job I did with them. I can take no credit for this whatsoever, it all goes to Dinki Belle!

Ease of Application
If the most useless nail person on planet earth (that's me by the way) can do this, you can do this! The application process was SO easy. All you do to apply the wraps is peel off the back, stick them to your nail, and file away the excess. I sat down planning to spend an hour putting the nail wraps on, and I was finished within 15 minutes. All the tools were provided with the kit, which means that you don't even have to scramble about the bathroom in search of a nail file! Perfect if you're lazy, like me.

Fit 
If you have small child hands like me (no exaggeration - I wear childrens' gloves in the winter), you may find that some of the wraps are just too big for your tiddly fingers. All you need to do to fix this is to cut down some of the larger wraps to fit your nails. This wasn't difficult at all and took only moments.


Durability
This was my big worry with the nail wraps, I was afraid that as soon as I plunged my hands into some soapy water, off my nails would come! I am happy to report that this was not the case! I subjected the nail wraps to baths, showers, washing up, and many tasks which would have chipped regular nail polish such as household cleaning. No damage was sustained by the nail wraps at all, they didn't begin to peel, and they didn't crinkle at the ends. I was genuinely impressed.

Removal
This was quick and painless, and didn't involve soaking your hands in foul smelling acetone, as is the case with plastic stick-on nails. You just peel off the nail wrap when you're finished wearing them. Dinki Belle say that you can use nail polish remover if you find the wraps a little stubborn, but I found that simply peeling them away worked absolutely fine.

Price 
These wraps are very budget-friendly too. One set costs £6.99, but you are able to do multiple manicures with each set. I will definitely be able to get another full set of nails out of my leftovers from this kit. If you live in the UK and you place an order with Dinki Belle online to the value of £10 or more, you get free shipping too!  

The verdict?

To browse Dinki Belle's full range, click here. Let me know which of their designs is your favourite in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x


* This post contains samples that were sent to me for review.

Level up your snail mail



There's no better feeling than when a cute letter from a fellow blogger drops through your letterbox in the morning! That's why I'm part of the #beechat snail mail programme, which pairs up like-minded bloggers who send handwritten letters to each other. As bloggers, we naturally all love stationery and pretty cards and envelopes. But instead of shelling out half your wages in Paperchase, why not make some beautiful envelopes of your own? You'll be surprised at how quick and easy the process is! What's more, you probably have everything you need at home already! 

You will need:
I like to make my envelopes out of used gift wrap - it's a great way of recycling that beautiful wrapping paper!



Method:
Step One: Lay out the gift wrap patterned-side down on your table. Then take your plain envelope and gently tear it apart at the seams, making sure that all of the little tabs lay flat. Place it on top of the gift wrap. You can secure it in place with paperclips if you like. Next, take your pen or pencil and trace around the circumference of the envelope.

It doesn't matter if the line that you draw is super messy! This will end up inside the envelope and you won't even see it!
 Step Two: Lift off the plain envelope from the gift wrap. If you've traced it correctly, the outline of the envelope should be there on the gift wrap. Now cut out the outline that you have just created. Flip it over and it should look something like the image below! 

You should now have the outline of a beautiful, colourful envelope!
 Step Three: Fold down the tabs at the side of the envelope, as shown below. Put some Pritt Stick or double sided sticky tape onto these tabs, then fold up the bottom section of the envelope and stick it to the tabs.

Make sure not to get glue anywhere but on the tabs, or you won't be able to put anything inside the envelope!
Step Four: Your envelope should now look something like this! Now you can stick a label to the front, which will allow you to write on the recipient's address. Once you've written your letter, use more double-sided sticky tape to seal the envelope, or a fun sticker, if you have any lying around.

Looking good!
You can use pretty much any paper you like for these adorable envelopes. They're super eye-catching and effective, as well as being lots of fun to create! Once you get into the swing of things, it's easy to make several envelopes in no time at all.

Wouldn't you love to see one of these dropping through your letterbox?
 If you don't have any gift wrap around to use, never fear! You can decorate plain, boring envelopes with a set of marker pens and pencils! Simple designs such as the bunting or the brightly coloured teardrops I've created below are the most effective. Just don't forget to leave space for the stamp!

Which is your favourite?
If you were inspired by this post to create some envelopes of your own, please tweet me a picture, or tag me on Instagram! And if you're interested in joining the fabulous #beechat snail mail programme, head to their Twitter page and send the lovely Charlene, who runs the account, a direct message.

Until next time!

A x

A day out: The Royal Norfolk Show

The end of June saw me pay a visit to the annual Royal Norfolk Show, a two-day event which showcases the agricultural and pastoral heritage of the wonderful county of Norfolk. A friend of mine had scored some free tickets, so naturally we headed down to make the most of them. A farming show might not be the obvious destination for two twenty-something girls looking for a day out, but as I grew up on a farm in rural East Anglia, the show has a lot of appeal! And even though 'Naaaafolk' is supposedly the in-breeding capital of the UK, nobody asked to check how many extra toes we have on the way in, which was nice (I have six on each foot, FYI).

This entire blog post isn't about tractors, I promise... 

Livestock 
A summer show with the majority of the attractions being outside can only mean one thing - it's going to piss it down with rain all day. That's exactly what happened to us! By 12.30pm, the rainclouds had well and truly rolled in, forcing us to take refuge in some of the livestock tents. Really this was no bad thing! We got to meet some adorably fluffy prize winning bantam chickens and some sheep dressed more stylishly than us!

One of the fluffiest chickens you'll ever see...

The cows were seriously impressive beasts as well, and you could tell that a lot of hard work had gone into preparing them for the show. Each was immaculately turned out with a beautifully coiffured coat. A brief break in the rain allowed us to watch some rosettes being awarded.

Shopping
As well as animals, the show offered a lot of shopping opportunities! The Joules tent was so rammed that we struggled to get in, but we had a good browse through the lovely Seasalt tent. I could easily have spent way too much money here, they had a gorgeous selection of clothing - as many stripey tshirts as you could wish for! As well as clothing there was an art auction (the prices of which made our eyes water) and some crafting tents selling local produce.


Cocktails


A real treat was in store for us in the Be At One cocktail tent! We were invited in from the rain to have a go at making our own cocktails, completely free of charge! The mixologist showed us how to make the perfect Mojito Especial, with mint stalks, lemon and lime juice, sugar syrup, soda water, and Havana Club Especial rum.


 


Although we were both total cocktail-making amateurs, each of us managed to create a delicious drink, just what we needed to perk us up after sheltering under our brollies all afternoon! We also entered a competition to win some more free cocktails from Be At One - keeping our fingers firmly crossed!

Thanks to the lovely ladies from the Be At One tent who took these photos for us!
 
Food
Of course, we couldn't leave without stopping off in the food hall. There was lots of fresh local produce on offer, from hog roasts and sausages to all of the sweet treats imaginable! A firm favourite of mine was the Chocolate Fondue Company stand, which offered marshmallows, strawberries, and waffles drizzled with Belgian chocolate! These were absolutely delicious, if very messy!

Truly scrumptious!

I only learned after we'd left the show that we had actually been there on the same day as the Prince of Wales and Camilla! We didn't run into them, unfortunately, so nothing to add to my 'Why I Should Be Famous' post today...

Have you ever been to a show like this? Tell me in the comments.

Until next time,

A x