Meet my June Advertisers

June is a happy, happy time, because for us lot in the northern hemisphere, the 21st of this month signals the official start of summer! Woohoo! Towards the end of this month, I have my final written and oral exams for my Masters course, which will be a pretty nerve wracking time, so please send lots of positive vibes my way!! I won't be abandoning you in terms of blog content though, as I have plenty of treats scheduled for you! These include another recipe, a picturesque day out post, and something superhero themed (I kid you not, it's an eclectic mix this month!) I also have a whole host of fabulous new advertisers to share, so let's introduce them!

🌹 www.jennyinneverland.com 🌹

It's my pleasure to introduce one of the most well respected and hardworking book bloggers out there as my first June advertiser: Jenny from Jenny in Neverland! If Jenny has reviewed a book, I know that I'll be reading her honest and open thoughts. She has been blogging for over four years and she is known throughout the blogosphere for her trustworthy, honest reviews. Jenny doesn't limit herself to just books, she also blogs about lifestyle, featuring everything from her days out and Disney loves to Formula One and mental health. With Jenny's blog, you get a real sense of authenticity and personality. Reading her blog is like chatting with a friend and I wouldn't have it any other way! 

My June picks from Jenny's blog:
  1. Define Success On Your Own Terms
  2. Some Things I'd Like to See in Fiction
  3. Judgement in the Blogosphere
 Follow Jenny on Twitter and Facebook

🌹 www.debrabow.com 🌹

I have definitely said this before when writing my advertisers posts, but it's well worth saying again - it is so easy and so wonderful to advertise your friends! My next advertiser, the fantastic Debra Bow, certainly falls into that category. Debra writes a truly stunning beauty blog - whether you're in the market for new mascara, foundation, or just want to check out some new skincare options, Debra has so much expertise to advise you! Her reviews are always super thorough and honest, as well as providing you with some gorgeous photos! She recently took on the challenge of blogging every day in May, which produced some awesome varied content, showcasing not just beauty buys but her recent holiday to Portugal too! Debra's blog comes very highly recommended.

My June picks from Debra's blog:

🌹 www.overpeachchic.com 🌹

 
Following on from this, I'm proud to introduce the lovely Abbie as my third June advertiser! Abbie's blog is an eclectic mix of everything that interests her, including book reviews, chit chat posts, and monthly favourites. She has recently decided to branch out into Disney blogging more regularly, which you can probably tell from her gorgeous new blog logo! I personally can't wait to see where Abbie's Disney blogging journey takes her, as I'm a massive fan of Disney myself. I always love the personal, unique writing style of Abbie's blog, and I'm sure she's going to absolutely kill it! Head over and give her a follow right away!

My June picks from Abbie's blog;

🌹 www.just-belle.co.uk 🌹

Next, I'm proud to introduce the lovely Izzy! Izzy covers a wide variety of topics on her blog, but every post is accompanied with stunning visuals and beautiful, flowing text. Izzy's travel posts are among my favourite topics to explore on her blog, she never fails to make me want to visit the cities she has spent time in! Izzy's talents extend to more than just blogging, as she's also a YouTuber, sharing travel guides, hauls, and beauty product reviews. She is also a total sweetheart on social media, such a pleasure to engage with every single time. If you don't follow Izzy, you're missing out BIGTIME!

My June picks from Izzy's blog:
  1. Seven Pet Peeves with Blogging / Social Media
  2. A Personal Experience with Body Shaming
  3. VIP Opening at Cosmo World Kitchen
Follow Izzy on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

🌹 www.thehelsproject.com 🌹

Of all of the people with whom I've made friends via blogging, Helen has to be one of the best. Always kind, sweet, and helpful, she's a truly genuine angel and her blog deserves about a zillion more followers than she currently has. Everything on Hels's blog is bright and colourful, but her posts are still candid and thought-provoking. She shares life as a Mum and her mental health story, and lifestyle posts, beauty, and fitness. Her writing style is fluent and gorgeous, and it's easy to spend hours trawling through her posts. Helen's son, Dougie, is also the cutest thing on the planet, so if you don't follow her on Instagram, you're missing out on a truly adorable little face!

My June picks from Helen's blog:
  1. Saturday 17th September 2016
  2. Mental Health : My Story
  3. All the Little Things : May
Follow Helen on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

🌹 www.tarajoyandrews.ca 🌹

Creative confidence is the name of the game with my penultimate advertiser, Tara. Tara is a Canadian blogger, illustrator, and designer with her own (utterly fabulous) Etsy store! She specialises in exquisite animal illustrations, and every pet has their own unique personality, which Tara conveys in her blog posts about each new creation. I think this is such a wonderful idea as it really brings her work to life! Tara and I have a lot in common as we are both snail mail enthusiasts, and Tara has some fantastic DIY snail mail projects on her blog which I will definitely be trying out! Her inspirational posts about confidence are also not to be missed, just what you need for a pick-me-up!

My June picks from Tara's blog:
  1. Eliminate the Word 'Aspiring' From Your Vocabulary
  2. You Are Not What You Do
  3. Fear is a Liar, You Can Achieve Your Dreams!
Follow Tara on Twitter and Instagram, and check out her Etsy shop

🌹 www.vickychatter.wordpress.com 🌹

Last but by certainly no means least, I'm pleased to introduce the wonderful Vicky! Vicky founded her blog in 2015, and she has been posting about advice, health, and food (to name but a few topics) ever since. My favourite aspect of Vicky's blog is how openly she discusses her life experiences, such as gaining confidence in the gym, and her relationship golden rules, to inspire and help others. Tasty recipes are another of Vicky's fortΓ©s, everything from smoothies to cocktails is covered on her blog! Vicky is super-active on Twitter and you can always find her sharing outfit inspiration and makeup to die for on there as well!

My June picks from Vicky's blog:
  1. STOP - Why It's Good to Take Time Out
  2. 25 Relationship Rules
  3. Life Update
Follow Vicky on Twitter and Instagram

Will June be a good month for you? What content should I be looking out for on your blog? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Until next time,

A x

Summer Styling with Unicorn Born


How would you describe your personal style? For me, the buzzword is eclectic. I can't really seem to stick to just one "look", although I really envy people who can! However, when it's not just a jeans and jumper day and I do make an effort to look nice, it's great to have a mix of things in my wardrobe so that I can dress to reflect my mood. Sometimes I like looking like a fairy who has just stepped out of the enchanted forest, and other days, I enjoy trying something a bit more daring to show off my inner Catwoman.

Just how mix-and-match my style really is was showcased when I was offered the opportunity to test out some beautiful handmade chokers, created by Fee from Unicorn Born. Naturally, the items that I chose were polar opposites: one delicate pink crochet piece, and one black, vampy number that wouldn't look out of place on Morticia Addams.

Being an Unapologetic Blogger

I see this happening on social media all the time. Bloggers apologising and expressing how bad they feel about not having a blog post up on time, not blogging in a few weeks, or missing a post in their upload schedule. So today, I've decided to talk about why saying sorry is completely unnecessary. Get ready to be unapologetic.

Luxe Interiors for Less*


Spring might be well known as a time where people have a big clean out, but it also provides an excellent excuse to give your home a fresh makeover too! Whether you live in a rented flat, student digs, or own your own home, there are always ways to give your space a luxurious feel. Fully redecorating isn’t always an option for everyone, so if your home interiors are looking a little tired and dated, here are three top tips on how to achieve a brand new look for less!

 πŸ’Έ Shop around for Bargains πŸ’Έ

If you’ve been browsing blogs, Pinterest, and catalogues for some interior inspiration then you’ve probably seen some furniture or a look you’ve fallen in love with. With this in mind, it’s easy to buy a piece of furniture from the first place you see it. However, it’s often best for your wallet to shop around before you buy. Scour discount sites or eBay, you may find the same item for less! Sometimes furniture shops have a clearance or ex-display stock so it’s worth asking. Local Facebook selling pages can also have some really great deals if you're prepared to sift through the rubbish!

On a really tight budget but good at DIY? Sign up to Freecycle or Gumtree to find items for free that local people are giving away. You can find really interesting, vintage bits of furniture that (once given a lick of paint and some new handles) can be transformed into a unique, one-off piece for your home. Another benefit to upcycling is that, not only is it cheap and individual, but you can learn new skills and make something that has your stamp on it.

πŸ’Έ Invest in a Statement Piece πŸ’Έ

If you’re happy with the overall look of your house but it feels like it's lacking a little va-va-voom, you could use your budget to buy a single statement piece to breathe some life into a room. Personalisation is a big trend at the moment in interior design and there are so many options for all price ranges. You can create cushions, personalised with your photos for a tenner or a canvas with your choice of photo or quote for around the same price.

Perhaps you have a dull colour on your walls? If you don't have the time, money, or inclination to redecorate, loads of bloggers with Etsy shops sell cheap prints to brighten up your room. Taryna has one of my faves - she sells everything from bright and colourful Disney prints to stunning Harry Potter watercolours. For something at the higher end of the budget, you could invest in a Hollywood mirror with lights, like the ones at Pebble Grey*. These will make you feel like a real celeb, as well as providing the perfect lighting for makeup application.


πŸ’Έ Top-Up with Texture πŸ’Έ

An easy way to create a luxurious look in your home is to mix up the textures you use in a room. Once you have a colour scheme or a running theme through, you can start thinking of how to incorporate different textures to add layers and depth. Don’t be afraid to mix wood with soft fabrics, a thick faux fur rug on a hardwood floor and it instantly makes a room feel warmer, more cosy, and very well put together. Fluffy throws can be purchased from Primark for a knock-down price, and you can raid B&M Bargains for real-looking artificial flowers that will never wilt and die! These can be contrasted with metal candle holders, which you can buy inexpensively from H&M!

Where are your favourite places to buy homewares? Do you have any budget-friendly stores to recommend? Hit up the comments below and let me know!

Until next time,

A x

*This post is sponsored by Pebble Grey

My Travel Essentials: Hand Luggage*


Without a doubt, one of the most annoying holiday expenses is paying for a checked bag on the aeroplane. You can be charged as much as £40 to put a bag in the hold, especially if you're flying with a budget airline. However, travelling with just hand luggage can be a real challenge, especially if you're spending a full week or two abroad. But last summer, my friends and I took this challenge on! We went to stay in Northern Ireland for a week and we had a fantastic time! Today I thought I'd share with you the products and sneaky hacks that enabled me to get the most out of my hand luggage holiday!

First on my list of essentials the foundation - you need the right bag. Maximise the amount of swag that you can squeeze in by using a bag that fits the hand luggage dimensions exactly. Usually these are 55cm x 45cm x 25cm, but check with your airline before you travel, as this can differ. The perfect bag needn't be expensive, however! You can get lightweight, decent quality mini suitcases from Primark that will do the job! Pick a lightweight case with external pockets - that way you can stash your headphones and glossy magazine of choice in there for easy access, ready to keep you entertained on the flight.

When packing your clothes, the old 'roll, don't fold' rule is still a golden one to follow, but you can take it one step further! You can buy packing cubes in various sizes which will fit into your mini suitcase, that will really allow you to squeeze in more stuff very tightly! If you're a total cheapskate like me, you can also do this with carrier bags! Roll up your clothes and place them inside carrier bags, then tie up the bags tightly, squeeze out as much air as poss and VOILA! More room for those totally necessary pairs of shoes....


One of the biggest difficulties I faced when I was travelling with hand luggage only was definitely the limited amount of liquids that you can put in your carry-on. You can take onboard containers of up to 100ml, provided that their total amount does not exceed 1 litre. If you have an extensive makeup or skincare routine, choosing which products to sacrifice can be a nightmare. But not so if you switch out your usual liquid products for solid alternatives! LUSH and other cosmetic retailers offer solid conditioners, and you can even buy solid cleanser from Pixi on ASOS! The liquids rule shall trouble you no more with these sneaky alternatives!

Another important tip is to downsize on your tech as much as possible. My bulky SLR camera takes up an enormous amount of room in my hand luggage, so much so that I had to leave it behind for my trip to Northern Ireland *sob*! Choosing a compact camera that still packs a punch in the image quality department is therefore a wise decision. Recently I've been eyeing up the Panasonic CSC Camera* - with 6k photo capacity and the world's first 4K video recording, all in one easily portable device, it's the travel blogger's dream come true! So if you're in the market for a new camera, why not check this baby out?

Finally, something that I always ALWAYS forget to do before I go travelling, which takes up absolutely no space at all is to download some apps to play on during the inevitable long wait at the airport. The beauty of modern tech is that you can play a million different games on the same device without having to take along CD-ROMs or GameBoy cartridges (am I showing my age here??!). I'm an old-school board game lover, so one of my favourite apps is Yahtzee, which you can play by yourself or with your travel buddies. If you have any good game apps to recommend, please let me know in the comments below!


What are your hand luggage essentials? Do you have any packing hacks to share? Spill the beans in the comments!

Until next time,

A x

*This post is sponsored by Panasonic

Abbey Bakes Choc Chip Cookies

In need of a hump day treat? Girl, I've got you covered. What could be better to lift your spirits than a batch of delicious homemade cookies? I certainly can't think of anything I'd like more! Seeing as I haven't shared any baking posts on my blog since January *gasp* when I guided you through my scrummy fruit scone recipe, I thought it was high time that I provided you with some more mouthwatering treats! Today, I'm sharing my tried and tested recipe for chocolate chip cookies, so get ready to DROOL.

A Taste of Modern Japan at KOKO, Sheffield

If you're looking for a blog post to make your mouth water, boy have I got a treat in store for you! I recently visited Sheffield in order to watch the semi-final of the World Snooker Championship, which provided the perfect opportunity to explore a new city and check out some of its independent eateries. Top of my list was KOKO, a Japanese restaurant that promises a truly unique dining experience. Their ethos is to incorporate Japanese cuisine with flavours and cooking styles from all over the world, providing an innovative taste experience. So, have they succeeded? Let's find out!

🎌 Surroundings & Atmosphere 🎌

 
When we pulled up at KOKO, I was really surprised at how small the restaurant is - there were only around ten tables! The decor was immaculate and minimalist, with a red and black theme running throughout. There were some classy modern twists on traditional Japanese decor, including lanterns and bamboo panelling. Everything was spotlessly clean and the small dining area had a very warm and friendly atmosphere with loads of other smiling customers! KOKO is located on Eccleshall Road, a short distance from the centre of Sheffield, it took us just 10 minutes in a taxi to reach the restaurant from our hotel in the heart of the city.

🎌 Starters & Drinks 🎌

 
After perusing KOKO's extensive selection and really struggling to choose our dishes, Chris and I opted for the restaurant's four-course set menu. We kicked off with a glass of vibrant green Midori Prosecco for me and a cocktail for Chris. Our appetiser of Miso Soup and Edamame Peas was first to arrive. I have tried Miso Soup before and was distinctly underwhelmed, but this was not the case at KOKO! The soup was lightly textured and made with flavourful stock, with finely chopped spring onions and succulent tofu pieces, meaning that I drained my bowl of its very last drops! Our bowls were whisked away and replaced with our starters: duck gyoza for Chris and prawn and lobster tempura for me. Both of us were incredibly impressed at the lightness of these dishes; the prawns broke apart and melted in the mouth, the batter was fluffy and had a delicate consistency. Everything was served piping hot and a lot of effort had clearly gone into the beautiful presentation.

 πŸŽŒ Main Course & Dessert 🎌

For the main course, my fish marathon continued with the Kawaii sushi selection, which included six salmon and avocado rolls, two pieces of tuna and salmon, one shrimp, and one kaisou gunkan. The quality of the fish was top-notch and the portion size was incredible! You will certainly never leave KOKO feeling hungry. I really enjoyed the variety included on the plate. The warmth of the perfectly-cooked rice contrasted beautifully with the cold fish, meaning that each bite was textured and moreish. Chris also went down the fish route with a salmon fillet, grilled in butter garlic sauce with black pepper, paired with thin rice noodles. The fish flaked perfectly when touched with the fork. Chris's only negative comment was that the noodles could have been more flavoursome.

Now for dessert! Before I'd even arrived at KOKO, I knew exactly what I wanted for pudding. That dark chocolate, whiskey, and coffee mousse had my name written all over it. And I definitely wasn't disappointed, the mousse was rich but served in the perfect portion which allowed you to enjoy the flavour without being overwhelmed. Chris chose the white chocolate and pistachio cheesecake, which was whipped to a gorgeous airy consistency and flavoured with the perfect amount of nuts.
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 πŸŽŒ Service 🎌

A word has to be said about the very friendly, welcoming, and attentive staff at KOKO. From the moment we stepped through the door, we were made to feel very much at home by manager Neil. The speed of service was brisk, and we were never left waiting long between courses. An extra special selection of chef's treats were served to us in between every course, which proved to be incredibly tasty morsels: gyoza and sushi rolls. I can't imagine how complex a task it would be for the kitchen and the waiting staff to keep on top of all of these elements whilst still providing service with a smile, so I take my hat off to the incredible team at work at KOKO! 
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I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to KOKO and I would highly recommend the restaurant to anybody visiting the Sheffield area! A huge thank you goes out to Stuart, Neil, and the team for making our visit so memorable.

Are you a fan of Japanese food? What are your favourite dishes? Share with me in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

* Disclaimer: This meal was provided for free c/o KOKO Sheffield in exchange for an honest review.

Mental Health: Surviving Vs. Thriving

As of today (10th May), we are nearly halfway through Mental Health Awareness Week 2017. This year, the aim of the #MHAW17 campaign is to get as many people as possible talking about their mental health, smashing the stigma that still exists around mental health problems. The theme of this year's awareness week is SURVIVING VS. THRIVING. Rather than asking why so many people today experience mental health issues, the campaign instead aims to highlight the difference between surviving and thriving, seeking to understand why the latter is becoming less common in modern society. So, in support of MH Awareness Week, I thought I would explore exactly this theme: am I surviving or thriving?

Grant My Birthday Wish?

https://stocksnap.io/photo/377P6YRSXL

Today, on May 5th 2017, I celebrate my 22nd birthday. And the day should be all about me, right? Cards, gifts, birthday bumps - the lot! I'm not gonna lie, being the center of attention like this was one of the best things about birthdays as a kid. Coming in close behind were scoffing down as much chocolate cake as your little stomach could manage, and tearing the brightly coloured wrapping off your big pile of prezzies. But this year, I've decided NOT to make my birthday all about me. I'm lucky enough that I didn't especially need anything as a birthday gift this year (other than a Ferrari, a boob job, and a house in Monte Carlo, but who doesn't need those?!) Seriously though, I have all the material possessions that I require for my day to day life, and I am also lucky enough have a wonderful group of family and friends (online and offline) to share my special day with. That's why instead of accepting cards and presents this year, I've decided to ask everyone who would usually send me a card to instead leave a donation for one of my favourite charities.


Cards are pretty darn expensive these days - you have to shell out between £2 and £4 for a decent one. I do love receiving cards, especially in the post, but on a day when I'd usually receive so many, I can't help but think that the money spent on them could go to a much better cause. I decided to try and raise the modest sum of £50 for Dogs Trust, a canine welfare charity that is very close to my heart.

But why Dogs Trust? Last year alone, the charity cared for over 16,000 abandoned dogs. SIXTEEN. THOUSAND. In one year, just in the UK. To think of that many poor dogs suffering, in desperate need of help genuinely made me cry when I wrote my first draft of this blog post. Dogs Trust never put a healthy dog down, and work tirelessly to try to provide the highest quality veterinary care and to find homes for all of their canines in need. Dogs are some of the most incredible animals on the planet - their capacity to love is ENDLESS, and every one deserves a happy life, especially if they've had such a rough start. If my three dogs hadn't been lucky enough to come to a loving home with my famly, they might have been mistreated and ended up on the streets, needing the help of a charity like Dogs Trust - this thought alone breaks my heart and makes fundraising for Dogs Trust so important to me.


Seeing the videos which are uploaded almost daily on the Dogs Trust YouTube channel about dogs that need a home (such as the gorgeous Blue above!) was more than enough to convince me to do something a little more philanthropic for my birthday this year, that will hopefully help an unfortunate pupper to find his forever home. If you'd like to support my fundraising efforts, please...

πŸ’•πŸΆ DONATE HERE! πŸΆπŸ’•


No amount is too small, even £1 can make a massive difference. If any of my wonderful readers would be kind enough to donate, consider my birthday wish granted! A huge thanks goes out to my amazing blogger friends who have already made a donation: Helen, Beth, Kat, Rachel, Kayleigh, Sophia and Hayley - I can't thank them enough for their overwhelming kindness and generosity.

From me, and on behalf of all of the Dogs Trust pups - thank you.

A x

Meet my May Advertisers

https://stocksnap.io/photo/2RY71UDSXO
Welcome to May! Did you know that May is National Smile Month? No? Well you do now! So, get your cheesiest Cheshire cat grin ready, because you're about to meet my new (and fabulous) monthly advertisers! But first, what am I going to be offering up for you this month? You can expect a post all about my upcoming birthday, an insight into my mental health journey, a delicious recipe, and the latest installment of my Ab Fab Collab series! But now, let's start meeting my advertisers, they're a lovely bunch!

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