LIFESTYLE: Winter Wonderful

Sunday, 10 December 2017
If you asked me to describe the last part of this year, I would have to say that I feel like I'm in a snow globe (and not just because of the weather). There have been some huge changes in my life and I feel like someone has taken my life, shaken it up and now everything is just beautiful, just as a snow globe is. 

On the 1st November, just as the UK was getting colder, Matt and I flew to the Dominican Republic. The holiday almost didn't happen as the country had taken a battering with the devastating hurricane's this year, of course we would have been gutted, but what was more upsetting was seeing the devastation and all the people and animals who suffered in this. 
Little did I know that I was going to be coming home with more than just a tan from this holiday. I've been completely unaware that Matt had been planning to ask me the most amazing question I've ever been asked. And so, in the Dominican Republic, on the 4th November at around 9pm, I said "yes!".
We have been completely overwhelmed by the messages, cards and even gifts(!!) of congratulations, after nine years together it's just such an amazing feeling to be engaged. I still can't quite bring myself to look at wedding magazines yet though, and that's because last month (the day after we came back from holiday) four new paws were added to our household. 

Meet Marli

The week before we went on holiday we were approved to adopt Marli from Newport City Dogs Home. You don't have to have known me long to know that welcoming a dog into my home is one of my biggest dreams and even a few weeks on I still can't believe that I'm typing this with her asleep at my feet. 

Let us wind back about 7 weeks ago, a black poodle was found straying in the city of Newport and taken to the dogs home by a member of the public. The poodle was in a very bad way (I can't really look at the photos still), emaciated and fur so matted she could barely walk, the staff thought she was an elderly dog. 

The poor, sweet dog had to go under a general anaesthetic to be shaved down to her skin, freeing her body of the matted fur that caused her so much pain. Underneath was a very skinny, weak and frightened dog, but she was alive. 

I've volunteered for Friends of the Dogs Wales for nearly four years and this was the first standard poodle I'd ever seen in out pound. Due to Matt's allergies we have had to wait for a standard poodle to come in as we would both never want to buy a puppy. 

We knew this could be our chance of welcoming a dog into our lives and it all seemed to perfect. Our new house, I've always wanted a black leggy dog, Matt needed a poodle - so we spent the next week getting to know her and making sure we had the strongest application ever. 

 I'm not ashamed to admit I cried when we were told she was ours, in that moment I'd just heard the words I'd always wanted to hear "she's yours". This was before going on holiday so we had to wait 3 weeks before bringing her home, she was also still in season so couldn't leave the pound anyway!

There are now going to so many photo opportunities that I want to get printed and some made into canvases, like these, from this winter. Us walking up our local mountain, Marli curled up by the Christmas Tree and her first time seeing snow. I can't wait to start building all these memories. I'm 99% sure that next year all our family will be getting a 2019 Marli personalised calendar.....

*Collaborative post

LIFESTYLE: Good customer service #AtYourService

Friday, 24 November 2017
Customer Service can mean such a wide variety of things to different people. For some, it could simply mean someone just doing their job - what they are employed to do and nothing more, or those who go above and beyond.

I'd like to think that I fall into the latter, just as I want to receive good customer service - I want to be the one that provides it too. 

Usually people are filled with dread when they have to phone up their providers and either upgrade contracts or renew insurance. From the stereotypical being on hold for hours to a "computer says no" person, it's never usually a nice experience. However, my two favourite examples of good customer services are from both these providers and are both a similar story.

With both my providers it's really easy to get hold of a person. I don't have to wait for hours (or what seems like hours) on a menu list, endlessly pressing numbers until I find someone. When I do speak to them the person on the other end of the phone is really friendly and a great communicator. I've never left all call feeling confused or with more questions than when I started. Perfect! To top it all off, they are really prompt and I never feel like they are speaking from a script. Aside from the competitive prices, it's a real reason why I've been with both for a number of years. 

CCSN, a website where you can find any telephone number for providers you need to speak to (bloomin' handy if you ask me!), recently ran a survey all about good customer service and came up with the below infographic based on the results!

All too often these days bad customer service is shouted about, but no one seems to celebrate the good!


CARDIFF: Meet TV Antique Experts!

Sunday, 8 October 2017
* Charity Press Release

Antique experts and television personalities Tom Keane, Eric Knowles and Paul Hayes will be in Cardiff on Sunday 15 October staging a charity valuation in aid of Marie Curie.

Well known for their appearances on programmes such as The Antiques Road Show, Cash in the Attic and The Antiques Road Trip, the three experts will value prized possessions in return for a donation to the charity.

Held in the Great Hall, of Howell’s School, Llandaff, the experts will be on hand from 11am until 4pm. The event has been organised jointly by the Marie Curie Penarth Hospice Development Board and Howell’s School Llandaff, which recently raised £6,660 to pay for a day’s care at the hospice as part of the charity’s ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign.

Principal of Howell’s School Llandaff, Mrs Sally Davies, said that the school’s fundraising effort had been a huge success following a launch earlier this year.

 “From the three year olds in our nursery to our upper sixth students and staff, the whole school was involved in raising money for Marie Curie, which is such a worthwhile charity,” she said.

Entrance to the event is by a donation to Marie Curie (minimum of £5 per family) which will entitle you to bring as many items as you like for valuation.
Tom Keane said: “We are all looking forward to a great day at what will be our first charity valuation event in Cardiff.  There is no need to book in advance, but please remember that valuations will be on a ‘first come first served’ basis and that heavy furniture and very large items cannot be accepted.

“But, if you want to bring along a photo on your phone and a description of anything too big to carry, we’ll still do our best to value it.”  

BEAUTY: Storing hair extensions at home

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Confession, I don't look after my hair extensions at all. Well, that might be a bit extreme as I don't exactly trash them but they are one of the more difficult beauty products to store (and style, but more on that later). 

Until I was contacted by Easiweft, this is how my hair extensions were stored...
... shocking I know, but I have never really had a place to store them properly and the only solution I could find was to hang them up in the wardrobe, but my wardrobe space is limited and hanging extensions on clip hangers seems so damaging. In the flat I never really had a place to store them in their own space, there just wasn't the space to give them their own drawer, so bundled into a corner they went.
Then when it came to washing and drying them, I tried it once and got in such a pickle I haven't washed them in years. Gross right? It ended up with me using books to hold them off the edge of my dining room table to try and dry them but that wasn't sturdy enough to blow dry with a brush. Tangle city.
Let's talk about Easiweft, a simple idea that is just actually bloomin' brilliant. A creation from Nicola Wood designed after years of working with hair extensions in a her salon. You can tell this was designed by someone who uses hair extensions regularly because, well quite simply, it's just a brilliant product. 

Nicola has made a product that is not only suitable for salons, but also for home use where you might not want to have the Easiweft in one place at all times. You can find the full fitting instructions here, but there's a suction cup method for a mobile Easiweft great for the shower, to screwing them onto furniture. The hooks are also quite deep and all my extensions (and the weight of them) easily! 

Until my dressing room is properly ready, renovating a house takes a loooooong time, I've been using lots of blue tac to stick the Easiweft to my temporary dressing table, drawers and even a wall. I've done some Instagram stories showing just show strong it is and it easily holds the extensions whilst I plait them - I've started to hang them plaited and it leaves a really nice natural kink in them which helps blend them into my hair when I wear them. 

If, like me, you are fed up (and lazy!) when it comes to storing hair extensions, I highly recommend Easiweft!

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*Sent for review, but I absolutely love it! 


Monday, 25 September 2017
There is no hesitation in my answer when I am asked what my favourite movie series is, Harry Potter and this was the first film that popped into my head when I had an email about the #LicenceToChill campaign from Chill Money asking me to think about how much it would cost to live as one of my favourite movie characters. For me it's Hermione Granger, I even have her wand.
Figuring out how much it would be to live as Hermione in her muggle how would be fairly easy but looking at how much it would cost me in Galleons, Sickles and Knuts would be a little more difficult, however JK Rowling has already done the calculations.
According to JK Rowling the average tuition on your first year at Hogwarts and all the equipment you'd need. According to her, it would cost around £40,000 for just one year - and I thought my university fees were bad (!!). Which actually did make me wonder, what if you had a letter from Hogwarts but you couldn't afford the fees? Is there a Hogwarts Student Loan? Would they not be able to go?
I'm sure that anyone who was offered to live as a Witch or Wizard would naturally say that owning a Wand would be the most attractive part. The wands have so much power, although you shouldn't chase that as we know from the Elder Wand and The Dealthy Hallows, and I think they would make life so much easier. 

I know I'm old when my first thought is I could actually wave a wand and my ironing, washing and cleaning would be done with the swish of a wand! 
What movie character would you most like to live as?

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*Collaborative Post

BEAUTY: Gel Nails at home

Saturday, 23 September 2017

This post could very quickly become an "ode to the gel nail" because, quite frankly, I love everything about them. I had my first set of gel nails whilst I was at university (over 8 years ago GULP!) and this was when gel nails was fairly unheard of. The only real brand that was on the market in salons was biosculpt and even back then you were looking at £40 a set in a local salon I went to. 

Back then you were lucky if your nail tech had more than a red and a pink - luckily mine had a whole set of crazy colours and the talent to go with it! I enjoyed many sets of nails including minx, crystals and all sorts of patterns before the cost of it all just got a bit too much.

Fast forward a few years and we are now benefitting from many more nail technicians and mobile technicians in the market, coupled with so many brands offering gel nail products - it's more accessible than ever to do your gel nails at home. 
I've used many brands over the years and have slowly but surely settled on these three as my "go to" products. Although recently I've come across a brand called "The Gel Bottle" and I'm hovering over the order button. It's more expensive that any of the brands that I currently use, but I have read and watched many great reviews.
Around a month ago I upgraded my nail lamp from a UV one to an LED one. LED lamps cure a lot faster than UV ones, but they do cost more and aren't compatible with all brands.

I picked mine up from Amazon for around £15 from the brand 'Mylee'.

Bluesky: This is a brand I was introduced to when I started to book to have my nails done with mobile nail technicians. I find Bluesky to last really well and at only around £6.50 per bottle, they are my first choice when it comes to new colours.

Semilac: Semilac is a brand that I haven't purchased much from, however I do have their builder gel and this is my first DIY version of a gel builder that I tried. Builder gels are so handy for repairing nails and creating a natural false tip when you break a nail!

Sensationail: I don't use any of the gels from this brand, I just found them too thin and that they didn't last for me. However, the primer is brilliant. This bottle has lasted me ages and helps to eliminate any oil left on my nails before adding a base coat. I forgot it once and my nails didn't last as long!

I'm not a nail tech and I learn pretty much everything from asking questions when I do get my nails done or watching numerous youtube tutorials so please research brands first before you go out and buy them.

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