My Paperless Post Review!

Hi guys, I know I’ve been quiet recently and I plan on starting fresh coming into the new year with my posts, but first I want to talk to you about a cute collab I’ve done with Paperless Post!

As we all know, taking action against the impact we are having on our environment is probably one of the most discussed topics of our time and we are all starting to think about the effect of our everyday actions & purchases a little more.

I decided instead of sending my family a Christmas card this year or my sister her birthday card, I was going to send an e-card instead. There are other online services I had in mind but I thought I would try Paperless Post and I was more than impressed!

Paperless Post is an online card service that allows you to customise your card with different templates, backgrounds, fonts, colours & more! They do flyers & invites as well as cards and have loads of designs to choose from.

With templates crafted by collabs with brands such as Kate Spade New York, Rifle Paper Co & The New Yorker, Paperless Post aims to connect people and allow their users to share the most important events in their lives with loved ones, through gorgeous designs sent straight to their email!

Getting Started

After creating an account I was gifted some coins to get started but what you would usually do is navigate yourself to this little bit here and purchase some coins to get going.

Then you pick from the homepage what you want to send out! Got a birthday coming up? Need an elegant wedding invite? Want a cool flyer design for your email subs? Whatever you need, Paperless Post has a fabulous template waiting for you!

Once I got my coins I went across to the homepage and from there you can choose what kind of post you want to send. I had already done Christmas & birthday cards so I’ve chosen a New Years Eve card to send out!

From here you can filter out templates and pick one that suits what you need it for, I went with filtering out designers and picked one by Kate Spade New York.

What’s so awesome about Paperless Post is that not only can you customise the card you can also change the backgrounds, the envelope lining & the stamp! There’s a selection of backgrounds you can choose from to customise your card and then you can get straight into adjusting the flipside of the card.

You can change so many aspects of the text to what you think will suit best, as well as add logos or motifs to your design which you can also change the colour of, I went with some love hearts and changed them to rose gold.

You can then edit the envelope to your needs by pressing the arrow across, I found Paperless Post so easy to navigate!

I wanted a glitzier envelope so changed it up a bit!

It’s New Years Eve, it’s supposed to be fabulous! Once I had this nailed exactly how I wanted it to look, I changed the stamp & the postmark for the final touches.

And it was ready to go, all you do then is click ahead to add your recipients like I did below, and no, that is not my families actual email address so don’t even try it you cheeky lot!

You can then either press send now and get it going or schedule this to be sent a certain time & a certain date, which is great for birthdays that you want to get ticked off ahead of time!

What I love about Paperless Post is that you can also get a preview sent to your email address to check it all looks how you want before you give it the all clear.

My experience with Paperless Post couldn’t be easier, the designs were so stunning and so easy to edit and change to suit what you want. I’m going to be using it all year because it’s so easy and the response I’ve had to my current cards has been so positive, my sister loved hers!

So if you fancy 2020 being the year to ditch the paper cards and start sending out some gorgeous customized designs OR you just want to create something special that has a personal touch to it, for whatever occasion you wish to celebrate I would 100% recommend giving Paperless Post a try and you will probably love it just as much as I do!

Click here to head across and browse around, create an account & get started!

Autumn Styling

Quick Coffee Read

I haven’t done a fashion post in a while so I thought I would put a little piece together, which has a look at what I’m wearing this Autumn. Let’s get right into it shall we…

Browns & Burnt Oranges

A classic palette right here, it’s not Autumn without burnt oranges & browns. One of these tops is from a charity shop and the other I’ve literally had for about 3 years. Autumn is my favourite time of the year, I only ever really buy new clothes for it, but also hang onto pieces that I’ve had years gone by (if they still fit!)

Shout out to Megan Hess for one of my favourite books, I’ve shown it some love on Twitter before & highly recommend this for some serious inspo!

Deep Green & Pisatchio

Green is literally a colour that suits everyone from epic brights to muted olive, I love having it in my wardrobe. I think it’s such a versatile colour that has a bit of a stigma. I’ve been wearing my green jumper over a brown leopard print turtle neck a lot recently, which not only keeps me warm but looks fab. Pisatchio is also one of the colour trends for Autumn so get stocking up!

Nudes & Browns

Nude is a colour I’ve started wearing more of recently and I’ve found it quite easy to tranisition into. When it comes to what I want to wear, I take trends into account but also like to make my outfits a little bit different in some way.

Introducing the scarf I have been obsessed with this past month, mainly on a nude base with pops of bright colour and a mix of pattern, which shouldn’t work but they do!

White & Pale Blue

This is more of a winter based palette yes, but we are heading in that direction guys & galz. I am all over my favourite pair of trousers, a high waist, wide leg check print with that light blue weaved in there. I love pairing a fun pair of bottoms with a simpler top, I bought this Tommy Hilfiger from eBay about a year ago. Because the design isn’t complicated, it compliments the patterned trousers well.

I don’t think ripped jeans are gonna go away anytime soon but they will not be wearable for winter without freezing your legs off, but don’t you fret. I’m not quite ready to put them on the back burner yet so keep yourself warm by putting a pair of tights on underneath.

The magic of denim is that it’s just such a perfect base to build on, keep it simple with a black pair or add some jazz with patterns or glitter for that special occasion.

Make sure when doing this to consider the top half of you, fashion is always changing as more and more people start to break the ‘rules with clashing pattern being acceptable for example, but it has to be done right. For example, because there is so much going on with that jumper I would stick to just black tights here.

Another shout to Victoria Harrison (she recently got married, you will know her as @inthefrow) the author of the book here ‘The New Fashion Rules’. One of my favourite influencers and inspirations as she is from Manchester and started out doing a fashion degree!

Thanks for reading, let me know what you’re wearing this Autumn in the comments!🍁

How To Organise Your List

Mind Organisation Exercise From A Recognised Leadership Course

Taught to me by Josh

Okay guys, I’ve been so excited to share this with you because it’s honestly changed my mindset and has helped me so much in a short space of time.

I literally did this yesterday, so it’s fresh in my mind and I’m still playing around with it. Grab the sticky notes and get ready because I’m about to show you how to organise your list!

An important thing to note is something Josh told me yesterday, he can tell me many ways to help me organise myself, but it doesn’t mean they will help me learn. I am such a visual leaner so this is a great tool for me and I hope you guys can benefit from it too!

First step is to start to write your tasks/thoughts/jobs/ideas anything that you want to sort out on the notes, and get them up. Don’t think about it too much or give it any order at all, just get them out of your head and onto the wall.

That was my first issue, trying to the put them up in order because that’s naturally how I wanted it to be, but I ignored the pain and carried on.

You want to change your thought into a physical thing, to help you get away from that cycle in your brain of thinking you’ve got to do this and you’ve got to do that, then this task next and then this other task.

It’s like you are riding a bike downhill, it’s out of control but you don’t stop and think about the problem, you’re still peddling and not slowing down.

You have to keep it quite fluid in terms of what you want to get out of this process, if you plan too much ahead that defeats the purpose. We are learning how to organise your to list, but visuals are very important for getting the thought out initially, you can arrange it later, clear your mind now.


I started with my social media tasks, the scheduling of content to start. Write down the task and the time it takes, nothing else just yet, no days or anything like that.

Because I wasn’t sure how this was going to be organised eventually, I timed the tasks in terms of how long this would take me in the course of a week.

It doesn’t have to be a time either, it can be an importance ranking measurement for example, such as using the traffic light system. I know I have limited free time during the week so this was my focus, yours may be that you need to clarify in your mind what is the most important task.

To start off with it was really hard, naturally I want to write it all out in an order to actually get it out of my head so that I don’t miss anything, it had to be organised already if that makes sense. But once I was on a roll, more and more tasks just came to the front of mind and onto the paper!

I also included personal tasks such as the gym and me time, It got a little sad and ridiclous when I actually looked at the personal time in my week compared to everything for the blog/freelancing business.

That no exageration by the way I promise, I work 9-5:30 mid week and I lie in as much as possible in the morning, so I do a lot of quick morning tasks on my 40 minute commute. By the time I’ve got home I try and fit in the gym which is the one thing I won’t sacrifice at the moment, never go on holiday.

Then it’s trying to find some time for us to watch Netflix and eat dinner, but the laptop or phone is always on and in use for extra jobs that I try to squeeze into my precious evening hours.

‘See friends’ is literally if I have plans, I see my work friends everyday and me and my best friend try and catch up once a week considering we now live on the same met line. But if there’s no plans, I just cram in more of the work instead of any me time…one hour is lucky.

Because I am still figuring this business out it’s very hard to organise something you are new too. You are unsure of every single task because you are still learning them, as you can see Pinterest marketing is the newest one.

The last few months have been me just doing everything as soon as I read it so it’s done and I don’t miss out on anything. It’s exactly why I’m doing this, because I barely have time to do anything else during my average week and it starts to get tough.

So I’m halfway through the task and shock, feeling a little stressed that I might be missing things. So far, I haven’t learnt how to organise my list, just how to stress myself out a little more. I go to grab the notebook and in all honesty, start to doubt the process.

As every week is different, it’s hard when your muddled to keep it generic and you start to think of things like “if the post and social media theme for the week beginning the 13th of January 2020 isn’t on there IT WILL ALL FALL APART AND IT WILL ALL BE FOR NOTHING.

When I get pull it back ponder the wall, I start to break it down to see what I might have missed from the list. This can also help you think of tasks you might not have done before, so you can then add these on.

By this point you are ready to start the first breaking down of tasks, suddenly as if by some miracle, it just clicks and the whole process makes sense.

Once you start to organise it into groups and get into the swing of things with that, you will be on a roll and moving sticky notes back and fourth.

I decided to firstly organise it by type of task which was graphic design, website upkeep, research, analytics, social media scheduling, content writing, engagment/connecting and life.

It really did all become clear so fast and you wonder how something so bloody simple like sticky notes on a wall can also shock you into actually realising how disorganised you were before.

You should then keep breaking this down until it is in categories you are happy with. I decided to change this into days of the week, I had an idea of what days of the week certain tasks needed doing so that gave me a starting point to move around again.

Just want to add that at this point, ignore the time on my notes now as they are incorrect, no one is going to spend 2 hours on Twitter on a Thursday constantly tweeting about their latest blog post in one sitting…I hope.

Because of limited time mid week evenings I gave myself a little bit less on those days thinking that was all the time I had for it.

It was then interesting to see how much I actually was going to leave until my Friday nights & Saturdays off. Meaning I would have no life as all the big, time consuming jobs wouldn’t be spread out and I would just have to get them done that day.

My nature is to just get things out the way in one go, I am unfortunatley a rusher and in other areas of my life I have had to manage this too.

You need to make sure you are organsing tasks in a way that will benefit you and manage your work fairly to yourself, you might not think you need chill sometimes, but you do.

I knew I couldn’t do 4 hours of tasks every mid week night and still have all the big time consuming jobs every Friday & Saturday, that’s like working 2 full time jobs with no life and next to no sleep, that my friends is called burn out.

I decided to start to move things around a bit more and spread out the jobs over the course of the weekdays, cutting some tasks and moving some from Saturday to midweek.

In terms of social media, it helped putting different themed content on certain days e.g #MotivationalMonday on a Monday (obviously) to make Saturdays scheduling easier.

I played about a bit until I had a more organised weekly ‘skeleton’ schedule visually in front of me and decided it was time to get this all down in a list to make it extra clear.

If you are like me this step is super helpful, because now I have this basic list of tasks that need to be done every week for the blog/business to run, regardless of personal plans.

I made morning and evening sections, leaving space to add anything I might not have thought about. I noticed how much free space I had mid week to play about with even more in the organised list, so made sure it was fair for each day.

Unfortunately Saturdays are always going to be the biggest days for me to get jobs done, but I can 100% do more midweek than what I had been doing.

I also do want to be able to have more of a life, some people just need a little more structure and I guess I’m one of them. Obviously there are things here you need to do everyday, such as social media engagment and new blog promo on threads, so there’s a list for that too!

Sundays unless otherwise stated should be free days, these are mine and my boyfriends days to do something a bit fun (Ikea counts.) I also want to fit in more me time so I can feel like an actual human woman sometimes and not just a zombie.

I honestly really have benefitted from this task, I feel more at ease and less guilty not sitting staring at my screen all day (I work in SEO, so I literally spend my LIFE looking at a screen at the moment.)

Key things to remember!

Yes, every week will be different, I think this is why I doubted this task could help me and started to stress. Maybe Tuesday next week something could happen to change that idea or I have to be somewhere next Saturday so that fucks up all my big jobs for the week blaaaa blaaaa, STOP.

Think of this as what I called it before, a skeleton list of important tasks that are required each week for your blog/business/whatever to function.

We are learning how to organise your list so you can flesh it out as you go, so each week you will need to write a new list – a small price to pay for a clearer head! You may also work month to month (you guys give me life) and you write this every month instead.

The basics for it to function need to be in this list, because then you panic if they are not. As an example, say you NEED to publish a Facebook post every day of the week to promote your latest blog post, you don’t know what it’s going to say word for word yet but you know it NEEDS to be posted or you can’t market your work.

If anything, you now have a weekly organised list where you can add a task because you know you have the free time to do it on a certain day.

Some things that are relevant this week, might not be next week and everyone’s idea of what is most important will differ. When you flesh out our list, you can then add a theme or content and then this can be transferred to whatever you use as resources for your business.

I use Google Sheets for my content ideas and then Hootsuite to schedule some of these, so there’s a few more steps involved after this.

Now obviously, you can’t do this every week to plan your time…unless you want too lol. So keep the list so you can copy it across to the next week and pick a day to rewrite it, I find Saturdays a good reset day.

Remember, you can’t control everything but you CAN organise your list of jobs so that the important things that ARE in your control are ticked off, for everything else my dudes, you just gotta take each day.

5 Toxic Ingredients in Your Make Up

Do You Know What’s In Your Make Up Bag?

I switched to an all natural skincare routine about 3 months ago. When I did my guest post for Roccabox – My 10 Step Natural Skincare Routine, I had already done the bulk of my research into skincare at that time and had begun my work into make up.

Ingredients are essentially similar, there are a couple of exceptions such as 1,4 – Dioxane which is found in products that foam, not something you want with your make up! But for the most part, you can look for these ingredients in both your skincare and make up.

There are more ingredients to look out for than what we have in this list. These are just some of the worst and most common ingredients you will find, so make sure to read the lists on the back if you can. Another thing to add, I have tried for a while to find make up on the UK high street that has little to none of these in – it is HARD.

If you choose to read more into this you can find there are a lot of make up products/brands online that are free from a lot of nasties, but they are on the pricer side. You can argue it is 100% worth the investment but unless you making enough disposable income, for most people like me it takes time to fully transition so don’t panic if you can’t change everything across straight away.

Phenoxyethanol

Used as a preservative in cosmetics to limit bacterial growth, it is linked to high risk skin irritations including lungs, organ system toxicity & impact the nervous system. It can be found in foundations, lip gloss, concealer, lip balm & mascara and they can be especially bad for nursing mothers and infants. When looking at the label you are keeping an eye out for Phenoxyethanol, 2-Phenoxyethanol & PhE.

Retinyl Palmitate

Retinol is a chemical name of the micronutrient vitamin A, it can be very harmful when added to cosmetic products in certain forms. One of them is Retinyl Palmitate, but you are also looking for: retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl & tretinoin. It is commonly used in foundations and is a possible carcinogen, can cause organ toxicity & changes in the body on a cellular level.

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide is used in a variety of products and is especially dangerous in pressed and loose powders where it can be inhaled. It is designated by The International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen with possible increased chances of lung cancer upon frequent inhalation. You are either looking for the regular name or TiO2, remember to be cautious when looking for powders for blush, foundation & bronzer.

Butylated Compounds

Linked to several health concerns, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives that are linked to organ system toxicity, development toxicity & cancer. When reading the labels you can look for the names above in bold, you can find these in various make up products especially lip products.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

These ingredients are built around fluorine and can be found in pressed powders, bronzer, blush, mascara & lip balm. On the ingredients list, you are looking for other names like Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl Ether, DEA-C8-18 Perfluoroalkylethyl Phosphate & Teflon, mouthful.

“PTFE is generated using another fluorinated compound, perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA), which may leave residual amounts of PFOA in the final ingredient.” It is these small amounts that have been linked to cancer, mammary cancer & reproductive toxicity.

It is fair to say that yes, these ingredients can fend off bacteria and help the product perform better. But the amount of damage they can cause over a long period of exposure just doesn’t seem worth it.

Top tips for starting to go chemical free:

  1. Start by looking for products with the least amount of harmful chemicals. You will be lucky to find any with zero on the UK high street, so try for the least amount that you can to start with.
  2. When identifying chemicals, pick the lesser of two evils and look for the worst ones. Unsure where to start? Once you’ve ruled out the ones above, check out the Skin Deep Database this incredible site (and app) ranks products on different levels of cancer concern, irritation etc. The website is better for ingredients and the app for products, they cover food too!

3. Make your own! There are sooooo many online guides/tutorials on how to make your own make up products with natural ingredients! It’s the next step I want to take for a cleaner make up bag.

Michelin Star Dining at City Social in London

Quick Coffee Read

Hey guys! So as you know I’m doing 3 short reviews on our weekend away in London for our birthday and anniversary. This final review is our experience at City Social, a fine dining restaurant on level 24 of Tower 42 in London. With stunning views of the financial district and a first class service, it really was a night to remember.

When we arrived downstairs, we had to go through airport style security at the bottom of the building (I guess in today’s world, you can’t be too careful) so if anything, it was different but reassuring. After, we made our way to the fastest lift I have ever been in my life, It shot up 24 floors in seconds.

The greeting by the host was friendly and genuine, always a great start to any dining experience when someone that actually wants to be there takes you to your seat. We were given a table alongside the wall, we asked for a booth given the special occasion but you can only request these, there is no guarantee. I still had a great view – the picture doesn’t do it justice.

It took a little bit of time to get a menu to start, but we know better than to judge too harshly given our hospitality backgrounds. Once it arrived, the service there on out was impeccable. Drinks constantly being topped up, tables being cleared away (they even had a table cleaner to get up all the crumbs!)

The main menu we had seen online before we came, it was limited choices (obviously) so it was easy to pick from here in a short amount of time. The wine list however, was an actual bible, easily the thickest menu I have ever seen in my life! As you can see below there’s the inside of the menu (which is sooo nice) the contents page for the wine list, and the regular dining menu.

Still a little sensitive from the night before, we made sure to order plenty of water but still managed to go through a bottle of sparkling wine (I’m sorry I can’t remember the name, maybe if I go to page 34, section 1, part 2b of the wine bible I will find it….)

To start, I ordered the lobster tortellini with squid ink, fennel, yuzu & bisque and Josh had the Wagyu beef, braised red cabbage, chervil root & spiced honey glaze. Now, I’m not a food critic, so this review is just a gal and her boyfriend with a decent understand of what makes food nice lol and the meal we had was easily one of, if not the nicest meal I’ve ever had in my life.

The first image is the lobster and the bottom is the Wagyu. The good thing about us when we go out to eat is we share and taste each others food, so I got to enjoy a little bit of heaven trying that melt in the mouth beef. The lobster was perfectly balanced and fragrant with a pop of citrus zest in the accompanying cavier. We had warm bread to start and a couple to the left of us had the great idea of using bread to mop up the rest of the sauce. Here lies perhaps 2019’s biggest regret, as I did not do that and that sauce was the one.

I’ve never eaten food so slowly in my life, I never wanted it to end! With drinks constantly being topped up and a lively but chilled atmosphere, I was just enjoying taking everything in.

For our main dish I ordered the veal, buckwheat, Jerusalem artichoke and violet broccoli and Josh had the venison saddle, celeriac, carrots, black garlic and cep. Not going to pretend like we knew what every ingredient was, turns out that cep is a mushroom with a few different names, thanks Google.

The top image is the venison and bottom is my veal, alongside our accompaniments at the bottom, the scotch egg for josh and the stew for myself. The waiters pour your sauce on for you as part of the presentation, which is obviously stunning.

The meat really did melt in your mouth, the buckwheat was a little plain but mixed with the purees and sauces, you understand the need of having certain elements gently seasoned, so that the flavours of the main components of the dish can shine through.

As you can imagine, the food was incredible and by the time mains were over I was so sad as we knew it was coming to an end. We were given dessert menus and decided it would be a shame to not have one whilst there. We went for the Banana Soufflé, which required 20 minutes to prepare and had some dessert wine to accompany it.

Here I am with said soufflé, (the bags under my eyes with each birthday pic just get worse haha).

It came with chocolate ice cream on top (served at the table, of course) which was also quite lightly flavoured so as not to take away from the soufflé. It was a lot bigger than we thought it was going to be and when I say this was lighter than air, I do not joke. I don’t really eat soufflé and I never will again unless it is from here as it just won’t compare to how incredibly light and delicious this one was.

As you can imagine by this point we’re pretty full, then this happens…

This one called the restaurant a week ago and told them it was my birthday and our anniversary celebration, so we had two extra desserts! Such a lovely surprise but we literally could not fit them in so had to take them away in a box.

All in all, this was an experience to remember and I had the best time, slight hangover aside. The food was incredible, the service was amazing, the atmosphere was relaxed and the company wasn’t too bad either ;). A great birthday and one to remember! if you are going to be in London and it’s a special occasion, I would highly recommend City Social!

Pestana Hotel & Spa Chelsea Bridge Review

Quick Coffee Read

Hey guys, the second instalment of my 3 short reviews has arrived! The Pestana Hotel & Spa just across Chelsea Bridge is a 4* Portuguese owned hotel. Situated across from Battersea Park and near Battersea Power Station, it’s tucked away in a alcove by the main road in a nice area.

We booked a double king deluxe room and it was on the 9th floor (finally, life has given me a hotel room NOT on the 1st floor so I have some sort of view!) Check in process was easy, we had a free bottle of Prosecco with our room and breakfast was included, happy days.

Spa, sauna, gym & pool are also all included, you just have to pay for treatments seperatley. We wanted to get our stuff and get ready for Cocktail Week soon as but I had to stop Josh from unpacking anything until I took some pictures.

There was a little space where you could make hot drinks with a separate tap above the mini fridge, anywhere I can make coffee is a plus in my book. Straight away we notice the bathroom blue light, Josh is not a fan but I like it in a fun, tacky kinda way.

The bath had a slope which can be a blessing and a curse, especially for tall people like Josh. It was clean and well presented with fresh towels & robes (no slippers </3), the only thing we thought was a little odd was the window between the bathroom and the bedroom. The person on the outside of the bathroom has control over the blind which is even funnier, basically you have no choice if someone wants to see you naked.

The room was very spacious, with a decent size and comfy bed. A large desk for all of my make-up, straighteners, hairbrush, life. TV of course, big ass mirror but the smallest light which wasn’t really much use in the end.

The wallpaper behind the mirror was very love or hate, we did like it although I didn’t like all the furnishings. I dislike brown carpet very much, I understand this is to avoid stains but when you have a white leather chair and this bad boy below, you kind of defeat the purpose…

All in all, greeting and check in was 5/5 & room 4/5 – I’m having to remove a point for no overhead light which means we’re relying on multiple lamps which I don’t think is necassary and that unattractive white leather sofa.

We didn’t have have breakfast until Sunday morning and I have to say It was pretty flawless. There was LOADS of choice, whatever you prefer to have for breakfast it was 100% there. Feeling a little hangover hungry, I had a classic English Breakfast to start with some continental in the mix, then some fruit & a croissaint after.

Now, I know what you are thinking…are those Babybels? Well yes, yes they are. Which means I was the HAPPIEST person alive because I am obsessed with Babybels. I had so many, it’s an odd breakfast addition but I am here for it.

All together breakfast was 4/5, I have to remove a point for the scrambled egg which just was not nice. Even Josh agreed, he usually tells me if I’m being dramatic which is a lot of the time, but I’m never fussy with food. They were just so mushy with zero flavour, I didn’t even know you could get scrambled eggs wrong but they were so wrong. I thought it could of been a one day thing but they were the same the next day, so I did give them another chance!

Sad Time – Why We Didn’t Go To The Spa

Saturday night we got back from City Social and I asked reception how it worked with the spa, do we book on the day or do we book before as we wanted to go Sunday morning (understand this will probably be short notice, so I asked about Monday too).

The person on reception responded quite confidentially that we don’t need to book, we can just go there in the morning and have a treatment. I had to ask twice as this didn’t seem right, but she assured me so going with it we went to bed ready to spa the next day.

After breakfast we head downstairs for treatments, I asked for a price list and say we are there to have a treatment that day. The spa reception lady proceeds to tell me you can’t book on arrival for any time that day and it has to be in advanced and they are fully booked that day. I told her about my conversation with the hotel reception the night before and she said the hotel reception and spa reception are totally different and they don’t how it works down there.

So, you don’t communicate with upstairs at all and the hotel reception are telling people the wrong thing? I was obviously frustrated as one of the main reasons we booked this hotel was to have a spa day, review or not I needed a massage. She also told me that she doesn’t know why she told me Monday would be okay because the therapist isn’t in.

For a 4* hotel with spa, to not even communicate with eachother is a bit ridiculous. In the end after after speaking with a manager (I know, don’t judge me) they did offer to try and sort me a treatment that day which was really good of them but it was just too short notice in the end.

So I wanted to finish by saying they did do their best to solve the problem, I just wanted to let them know guests are getting told something different which can impact the visit, especially if you booked for the spa!

In the end, the hotel was really nice, the staff were attentive and friendly and it was clean and we had some of the best sleep ever. I am giving the hotel 7/10, if we didn’t have the spa situation this would have been higher without a doubt but it did put a downer on our last full day.

London Cocktail Week Review

Quick Coffee Read

We had bought tickets before we realised we could have got them for free for this event, but hey ho! We arrived around 3pm and it was quite quiet, naturally, so we thought it best to get a little bit of food before we started. There was a selection of food stalls so we grabbed something before we hit up the first bar for a drink!

As we are heading back to the stands, we go past Aviation American Gin stall, which happens to be partnering up with Revolution Bars Group. Me and my boyfriend worked for the company for the best part of 7/8 years, he still does but I left earlier his year. We know two of the bartenders as one of them used to work with Josh in Manchester and the other was on what the company calls ‘The Openings Team’ who go around all the new bars before opening and train the staff before the launch night.

It was sooo lovely to see familiar faces, so after a hug and quick catch up, they made us two of the cocktails on their menu. Aviation American Gin is by Ryan Reynolds, there was a large cardboard cut out of him there, one of multiple reasons this cocktail/stand was one of my favourites.

I chose the ‘Rosie & Gin’, a mix of Aviation American Gin, Hibiscus Syrup, Fresh Raspberries, Pineapple, Strawberry Puree, Pineapple Juice & Elderflower Tonic. Refreshing, fruity and strong on the gin, that can only be a good thing!

Next, we made our way around to the Monkey Shoulder Whiskey stand, we had seen it on the way in and it looked like great fun.

I chose the ‘Ginger Monkey’ with ginger ale and an orange wedge, whilst Josh had ‘Show Me The Monkey’ with Drambuie, apple juice and mint, another great couple of drinks! Whilst we are sipping away, I’m trying to take a picture of Josh and the Bathtub Gin rep decides to come across and take one of us…of course he talks us into going over to their stand!

At this point, we’ve had a couple and because I clearly can’t handle drink like I used too (could I ever?) I’ve decided to tell him I used to be a bartender (rookie mistake, even when I bartended I was hardly the best, lol). So I’ve been tasked with making my own drink, at least he let me measure, Josh had to free pour! It turned out pretty good If I do say so myself, I can still shake a cocktail so that’s a plus.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you what was in it or what I made apart from it had Bathtub Gin, I think there was some lime in there…

After a really fun expeience at Bathtub Gin, we made our way to Makers Mark, so far so good sticking with whiskey & gin…we think. I chose the blueberry old fashioned (unreal) and I can’t remember what Josh had, as you can imagine by this point we’ve had like 4/5 cocktails in an hour so not exactly taking it easy. This isn’t a profesional review, so I’m allowed to be a little drunk…

Fast forward maybe another hour and we’ve jumped to the Coke Cola mixers and their ‘Enter The Dark’ interactive hut. We’re pretty drunk by this point and in this little intimate tasting session with like 12 other drunk people, those poor Coke reps.

Two really cool points which made this the best bit, even though I don’t really like Coke, they branded their own orange peel garnish (so cool) AND we got free bar blades, winner.

It deffo got really blurry after this guys I’m sorry to say. I remember I got Josh a bottle of gin for his birthday distilled from Rye, Bumbu had a stand with VR in which you could pretend you were on a beach in Barbados (could of stayed there ALL night) and they had straws made from pasta, genius.

All in all a really fun night, we 100% hit London Cocktail Week HARD and I still had beer fear on Sunday! Next time it’s about, get yourself involved it was a really friendly atmosphere and we had a great evening.

Sustainable Fashion Is What We Want, But How Do We Get It?

We need to teach consumers about sustainable fashion, not just tell them…

It’s December 2018, I’m in my last year at the University of Leeds and I’m nailing down ideas for my final major project. Doing a fashion marketing degree allowed me to explore so many different options for this and in such a creative environment, everyone is full of ideas. Although we are tasked to do in depth trend research beforehand, you already know what the popular choice is going to be.

Sustainability, of course. It’s relevant, important and guaranteed to ensure your hypothetical brand is going to be successful. You can see why we all wanted to cover it, myself included. To put our project brief simply, it was to create an original brand based upon trend research and market this through various channels. But what to do that would stand out? I didn’t want to create another eco-fashion brand that made their collections from factory cut off’s, that’s great but unfortunately not original.

I researched 2019 macro trends and picked three in total for this project, one of these was education. As I started doing my initial research on this, I found not only the perfect USP for my brand (winner) but an interesting issue outside of this project. 

People want to be more sustainable with their clothing choices, but they don’t know how.

They don’t know how? Really? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Or is it just obvious to me? A fashion student with 6 years of education in various aspects of the industry. A study of 1000 British adults found that 53% weren’t aware of the impact fast fashion has on the planet. Some are not even sure what fast fashion is and which brands fall into the category and that’s just 1000 people. It is no wonder they are unsure where to start.

We are a fast paced society. Rushing around, working, looking after children, studying and all the extra hobbies & life admin on top. It’s a struggle for some to find time to watch a little TV sometimes, let alone spend hours of research into sustainable fashion brands.

So, what is the solution? Do we give consumers another small, ethical start-up clothing company they can shop from? Do fast fashion retailers just keep announcing more sustainable clothing collections at slightly higher prices? Do influencers promote an eco-clothing product to convert their fans, just for a sale? I’m not knocking any efforts, but is any of this a long term solution? Are we teaching consumers anything substantial or just forcing it in their face?

An article by Fashionista back in June discussed areas of this subject with Maxine Bédat, the co-founder of Zady, a fashion brand that started 4 years ago on an ethical clothing mission. But then one day, Bédat bounced. The website & Instagram stopped getting updated and there had been no responses to unanswered questions on social media, what gives? They hadn’t struggled financially and she hadn’t given up on her mission, she had instead decided on a different approach.

“We can’t buy ourselves out of the problem”

Maxine Bédat

A quote from Bédat in the article nails it on the head, “we can’t buy ourselves out of the problem”. Starting up another online ethical fashion brand is great, but does it show people what to look for in a high street charity shop? Creating a collection from factory cut off’s helps, but does it teach someone how to up-cycle a garment they already own? This isn’t showing people a long-term solution, it’s giving them a short-term answer.

Consumers want shopping for sustainable fashion to be easy and on a budget. A 2019 report by e-commerce platform Nosto shows that 2,000 US & UK based shoppers who are aware of the impacts of throw away fashion, want to buy sustainable clothing but without the extra cost. An article by Kayleigh Moore over at Forbes covering this report says that although 52% of consumers do want the fashion industry to be more sustainable, only 29% are willing to pay the price.

Another recent study claims that 70% of workers in Britain are “chronically broke” and it doesn’t help with fears surrounding the outcome of Brexit and the impact this will have on people’s wallets. We are being careful with how we spend our money, if it’s cheap and easy then that’s the way to go. Feeding the family and paying the bills becomes a priority over 100% organic cotton t-shirts at £60 a pop, I don’t need any research to back that up.

I don’t believe another online eco-fashion brand consumers can spend money on is the answer.

So, for those of us in and around the fashion industry, the brands, the students, the designers, the bloggers, the writers, the stylists, the academics & the little people like me. We have an awareness of how to be more sustainable with our fashion choices, we have an understanding of best practices. We understand the impact, we have the knowledge and the skills to pass on, we are informed.

So, I ask you to take some time to teach people what you know. If you have a friend who is “unsure” about charity shops, take them to one of your favourties and show them where to find the best garments. If you know someone that doesn’t understand the effects of that £3 t-shirt, make a conversation about it and suggest an alternative. If your partner is buying new clothes a few times a week from fast fashion retailers, just mention the impacts it can have on the planet. If you know how to use a sewing machine, offer to teach your family & friends how to upcycle old clothes into something new.

If people want to make a difference, they will and If they don’t act straight away, don’t worry. By offering your knowledge and skills, you have planted the seed of thought.

I am not perfect, but I am actively working on making my clothing more sustainable, here are some tips:

  • Charity shops – This is an obvious one. Especially in more affluent areas, these can be full of brand names at bargain prices. Whilst we are in Second Hand September, this would be the best time to start, but make sure you try and stick to it.
  • Up-Cycling – Not as hard as you may think. I understand not everyone knows how to use a sewing machine, let alone the luxury of owning one. But there are tonnes of online tutorials, guides & blogs that teach you how to up cycle with other methods & materials, no stitching required.
  • Depop – The number of people that I’ve mentioned to about Depop that haven’t heard of it, surprises me. This little app is what you would get if Instagram & eBay had a baby. An online store for new & used items all marketed with eye catching images. Make sure you get yourself something second hand, there are so many items in great condition. I’ve got half a wardrobe from here and I can tell you, you won’t miss out on your favourite brands.
  • Only buy clothes monthly – I’m only addressing the shopping addicts out there with this one. If you, like me, love to update your wardrobe on the regular then at the very least, take something out and do a swap. Take it to your local charity shop, and then buy something in there to replace it is one way to go about it.

This can seem daunting to those who have only ever shopped on the high street buying fast fashion, but it’s an easier transition than you think and you just take it one step at a time. We need to erase the stigma about all second-hand clothes being gross or tatty looking. Get rid of the idea that you can’t up cycle clothing without a sewing machine. I’m not saying that for the rest of your life, you can only buy from a second-hand shop. But if this post makes you think, makes you open your wardrobe or even come up with a change you can make to your shopping habits, I’ve done my bit.


5 Things You MUST Know Before You Au Pair In Paris…

5€ wine by the Tower anyone?

When I tell people I lived in Paris, it sounds so glamorous. Shopping on the Champs-Élysées, cocktails in the secret bars, dinner on your balcony that overlooks the Eiffel Tower…or so they think. Think shopping (if you can afford it) in Châtelet–Les Halles when the sales are on, drinking cocktails that cost 5€ for 2 on happy hour and cramped pre-drinks in your friends’ mini apartment, pretty close to the Eiffel Tower. It was some of the happiest times in my life.

How many au pairs can you fit in a box room?

I went to Paris in 2015 and it is, to this day, the most spontaneous things I have ever done. Ran off to look after children and get away from England for a little while. I was an Au Pair, who is essentially a nanny that gets paid nowhere near as well as an actual nanny out there, them gals were making bank. It was incredible, beautiful and it changed my life. Now I visit every year and have made forever friends (yes, we still all somehow meet up even 5 years later!)

But there are 100% some things I found out the hard way whilst I was there, and luckily I am going to share them with you so you don’t have to suffer, get your pen & paper hun.

Number One – Make friends before you go.

“Really? Before I get there?” Yes, really. We have this nifty thing called social media nowadays, so it makes this easier. I can’t quite remember who started it, but it was a lifesaver, having that support group of girls was amazing. You are going to a new country to LIVE there, remember this, with strangers (if you live in the family home) or on your own and having that network of girls in the same area and situation as you is so important, especially for your mental health.

This group chat was home of some crazy stories, much-needed advice, planning nights and days out so you didn’t go insane and it even helped one girl out in a VERY sticky situation. You have a tinder date? Tell the group chat girls where you are going and when you are home. Live far out of the city and haven’t interacted with anyone but children for 7 days? Message the girls and meet up for drinks. Your host family has taken a turn after you’ve said you want to live somewhere else? Let the chat know so that you don’t end up on the street (yes, this happens sometimes).

If you aren’t already in an Au Pair Facebook group, join one. Introduce yourself with something like “hey guys, I fly/travel into Paris on the (insert date here) and I just wanted to see if anyone wanted to meet for drinks?” and watch it go from there! Everyone is in the same boat here and nearly everyone is mostly super friendly.

Number Two – Research the area in which you are going to live.

By this point you have established the basics, you’ve joined an Au Pair group on Facebook, you’ve found a family that you think looks perfect, but hold your horses a minute. If you, like me at the time, have never been to Paris before, you may be a little unsure about what arrondissement is where, how close some areas are to the city centre & general navigation. Everywhere is super close to each other, right? Kind of, but also, wrong.

A lot of families live in the Parisian suburbs, still pricey but nowhere near as pricey as the city. These are places such as St Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Leu-la-Foret, Garenne Colombes & Versailles and although they are beautiful, they are 100% not as close to the city as some host families will claim they are. For my first 2 months I lived in St Germain, it was lovely and I was lucky enough to have a friend from the group chat who was close to me, so close in fact that both our host parents were best friends, so we spent a lot of time together.

Me & Izzy out and about in St Germain

But I underestimated how far out of the city I was AND how much it would cost me in travel each time I wanted to go, it’s hardly a secret that Paris is pricey. I was on 80€ a week, not including my travel, living in the house and I was MISERABLE. I would constantly tell the girls how hard it was looking after the boys, how I felt trapped in the four walls with no personal space and they all lived in the city apart from the girl near me (but she wasn’t always free).

It was costing me 10€ each way, then you want to eat or have some drinks, maybe treat yourself to some nice things and before you know it, your weekly spend is gone in one day and you’re stuck in the suburbs doing nothing but complaining on Tumblr and your precious time in Paris is passing you by.

Research the nearest metro stop, is it far from your home? How long is it going to take you to travel into the city and for how much? Is your host family going to cover your travel expenses on top of weekly pay? Check this beforehand and you will have a better idea of which location is best for you and won’t suffer in the long run.

Number Three – Compare payments with your friends/other au pairs.

It wasn’t until I was living with my first host family, that I realised I was being overworked and underpaid. My host family was nice, but the boys were DIFFICULT and I mean hard work. Remember I said my host family were friends with my friends’ host family? (try saying that 3 times fast). This meant that I found things out about previous au pairs. Many had left before me because they couldn’t handle the boys and the mum didn’t really help. They were constantly hyper and they it turns out they had behavioural problems that I was not made aware of.

I worked Saturday mornings (pretty much unheard of) 11-3pm, and every weekday evening, and I only got 80€ a week NOT including travel, again pretty much unheard of ESPECIALLY if you are living so far out of the city. Whilst all my friends were having fun on Saturday mornings & afternoons, I was trying to get a very uninterested and bad-tempered 10 year old to do his homework, it was exhausting and upsetting, I was missing out SO BAD. It was only when I told the girls the amount that they said it wasn’t right, especially for the amount of work I was doing.

St Germain, you are beautiful but too far away from my friends 😦

In the end I left and found a new family (I will cover that later). But that was stressful and potentially dangerous depending on how you go about it. Ask the others in the group, do some research online and get some opinions, I actually surprise myself now how little I researched anything before I just said “sign me up!”.

Number Four – Know your rights BEFORE you agree to anything.

This isn’t a 9-5 job, there’s (in most cases) no physical contract and you’re about to move to a different country with different laws and you might not even speak the language, families take advantage of that waaaay more often than you think. I was in a chat with 11 girls, at least 5 of us changed families within the first month or so, maybe a handful had any kind of written agreement and one nearly ended up trapped in the middle of nowhere in a dangerous situation when the host mother found out she was wanted to leave and threatened her.

Get outta there gal!

Whilst there is requirements in France for there to be an agreement, hardly any family does. Why? Money. You have to be ‘declared’ as an au pair in Paris, if you are not and you require medical treatment this will cost you a pretty penny, but most families are willing to take the risk to avoid paying the Social Taxes which cost 100’s of euros a month.

Great for them but bad for you and can lead to some serious potential problems down the road. You should be getting paid a minimum of 320€ a month AS WELL as travel (a Navigo) and in some cases, a phone. There are also different rules for attending French courses depending on if you are an EU citizen or not, I didn’t have to because I’m from the UK, my American friend did.

Don’t make the same mistake I and so many other girls make. Draw up a contract before you get out there and if the family aren’t willing to do that, you can pretty much bet they are going to take the piss further down the line.

Number Five – Most importantly, stay happy, even if it means saying no.

I can’t tell you how miserable I became after that first month in Paris, this is not how things were supposed to go. I do believe I have only been truly depressed about 3 times in my 27 years of existence, January & February of 2015 was one of them. I was struggling with the boys, I HATED having to work Saturdays whilst all my friends were having fun, I was drained because every morning was a full-on battle to get the lads ready for school whilst the mum dolled herself up (looking back, I think she was struggling too, she used to shut herself in her room and play candy crush). I always went straight back to sleep after the battle mornings and spent most days doing just that, I had no money to spend during my free time, no space (the mum didn’t work so she was ALWAYS in the house, leaving the room was pretty much a no) and I felt trapped.

I lived there, where was I going to go? I had no contract and you hear the horror stories about telling you’re family you are leaving, they could have kicked me out in the street and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. But everyone kept telling me, you have to find something else, you have to leave because it is not worth the sadness. I was lucky and after some secret searching, I found a lovely new family and after they accepted me I told them my situation. The host dad was very supportive, he said that if after I had told my current host family I was leaving and they tried to kick me out, to call him and I could live with them early.

Me & the girls in the new host family

It took me over a week to pluck up the courage to tell them and I can’t tell you how scared I was. They didn’t kick me out, but they were NOT happy, the host dad said I needed to help them find a new au pair and said I had to stay a bit longer so that they can find someone to replace me. I didn’t sign a contract, I didn’t have to do shit but out of courtesy I tried to help them look, but I was not staying there a minute longer than I had too. I also had no sympathy in a way, the mother didn’t work so she was more than capable of being there until they found someone and looking back I think they got an au pair because they couldn’t handle their own children.

Conclusion

I had some tough times as an au pair, but once I moved into the city (I was a 15 minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower, awesome) and I made some memories there that I will cherish forever. My new host family was so great, I visit them every time I go back and it’s been nearly 5 years! But I found things out the hard way, you don’t have too!

Don’t be scared or put off by anything, 9 times out of 10 there is no issue and no problem, just make sure you have a plan and know your shit before you confirm anything, you don’t want to let a family down either!

There is a special place in my heart for Paris and I know I will live there again one day.

All of us in 2015 and below in 2018, some things never change.