Sunday-gram #5

Week 5 of this returning feature. Are we liking it or are we not too bothered? Reading your feedback in the comments really helps me to determine what you like reading on on my blog, so do let me know :-) 

So, let's take a look at what I've got up to this week!
lunch with mum · natural history museum · quick sugar fix · james bay luvin' · being such a girl · selfie with albus dumbledore · my sister a.k.a lorde's twin · cooking spicy chicken · roshe runs outfit · another random selfie · albus chilling · date night selfie · friday night bed bliss · saturday morning flowers · albus zzz'ing 

1  Me and my mum went along to the Natural History Museum this week. It's super, duper lovely spending time with her and we often find ourselves adventuring in unknown areas in London which are new to us. We got some chocolate for the train home so naturally, I chose a Reese's bar which was naughty but nice! If you missed Monday's post on our day out together, be sure to check it out here.

 I finally got my little paws on James Bay's album Chaos And The Calm this week. I actually sadly set alarms and reminders about its release date and then found myself heading straight into town on the 23rd to pick it up. It's fast become my most listened to album at the moment but I don't see myself getting sick of it any time soon. Look out for my post on it it in more detail next week!

 I have done an awful lot of cooking this week for the family including a lasagne and spicy chicken with rice. I find cooking quite fun as it doesn't just allow me to cook yummy food but I also  find it's a way to leave my work and office and focus on something else for the evening. Is this a sign of getting old?

 On Friday night, I travelled into the city to meet a gentleman for a glass of rosé (or a beer in an extremely tall glass if you're this gentleman), which was super lovely. The place we was at over-looked the O2 arena and the Thames and was quite stunning infact. I love finding cool, new places! - Anyway, so I decided to wear my new printed silk blazer (not quite a blazer but not quite a cardigan either - gawd knows what you call it), white Topshop Joni jeans and my favourite pointed flats, ever; with a classic black clutch and Topshop's lip bullet in On The Town; a purple toned baby pink matte lip crayon. 

Yesterday, I reached 800,000 page views which is beyond amazing. I don't say it very often but I honestly appreciate every single person who has followed this blog for almost four years. Whether you've read my rambles, commented on posts, tweeted or emailed me; it honestly means the world to me. I put so much into this blog and despite everything (the hiatus I had when my domain changed names and the lack of inspiration for posts a while back), you lot have stuck around and not got bored so for that, I thank you! Yes, YOU!

 So, today the clocks have gone forward an hour which means we all lose an hour's sleep BUT it means Summer is fast approaching and I can't wait! I am bored of wearing trousers, jeans and layering (I know - I didn't think I would say that either). I'm longing to whip my legs and playsuits out!

Hope you are all having a good weekend? Mine's 50/50. Half was spent yesterday just catching up with work stuff and spooning the cat (he loves it okay..) and today I should (I type this at 3am), be back in London on a new adventure.. maybe.... possibly. More on that next week! *winks*

Fresh Tulips & Susie Watson Designs

I have been buying myself a fresh bunch of flowers every week recently to cheer up my dresser and just make my bedroom look a little more fresh and vibrant. I picked up these tulips in Sainsburys for £3. It's the little things which can make you so happy!

The bottle is from Susie Watson Designs which I simply love as it looks more like a bottle (hence the name, duhh!), rather than a plain old boring vase. It comes in a range of sizes (S, M, L) and this is the large one for reference! Delivery was super quick too! There are so many handmade bits for your home on the site including bedding, wallpaper and candles so definitely worth checking the site out. Nothing excites me more than supporting brilliant British brands :-)

Other honourable mentions: Sainsburys notebook, James Bay Chaos And The Calm, Viktor Rolf Flowerbomb perfume and a china camera money box.

How are you all spending your weekend?  I feel like this week has completely rushed by and it never seems like that anymore since I packed in my job and went freelance full time. Time can drag! I actually always lose track of what day it is usually!

I appear to be working on stuff all day today and need to change my work website around but have another great Sunday planned this week, yayyyyyy.

Oh, and before I forget.... I appear to be fast approaching yet another milestone on Bloglovin so thank you ever so much! I also just reached over 2,500 Twitter followers too which is crazy as I ramble and rant on there so much by hey ho! I have TWO giveaways in the pipeline so if you're a new reader who's stumbled across my blog, make sure you pop on over to my Bloglovin to be in the know of when the giveaways go live :)

Argan Dew Hair Mask & Hair Oil

So, let's talk hair. My hair cannot function without a hair oil due to the bleaching upkeep I have to do to keep it blonde.  I LOVE being blonde and I don't want to go back dark any time soon so I don't mind having to look after my hair that little bit more. Saying that, if I find products that work well for me, it's not as much effort as it sounds.

Argan Dew are a hair brand company based in Israel. A rare oil called Argan is extracted from the Argan tree that can only be found in Southern Morocco. The oil is known for having healing properties which is why Argan oil is now so popular in hair products. It works wonders!

I received two samples each of both the oil and the replenishing hair mask which was good because not having full sized products meant having a few samples I could give a fair review.

The hair mask is a thick cream which you leave on wet hair for five minutes; although I know some people prefer to apply masks on dry hair but I haven't ever tried this. I was pleasantly surprised to see that after washing it out my hair was tangle free and easy to brush through. It also seemed to make blow drying a whole load easier!

I also used the oil which I find I could get two uses out of one sachet due to my hair now being shorter. The one thing I LOVE about this oil is that it's not super thin and therefore doesn't run and become a mess. It is quite a thick oil which sinks into the hair straight away. An immediate shine is visible too which is something I was so surprised about considering I am blonde.

Both products have a really lovely smell; almost like cocoa butter. I have since then used my other remaining samples, in-between washing my hair, with no other oil products. Once again the oil sank into my hair straight away and made it a dream to blow dry and straighten. I would 100% would (and will!) purchase the full size products as I feel I now need them in my life.

Even better, I have a 20% discount code for all of my readers! :) Just head on over to the website by clicking here and enter the code argandew to receive 20% off your purchase.

A London Trip: Brunch At St Barts Brewery

(22nd March. 11:30am. Be ready to leave an hour before!)

Those were the only details I told my mum.

I decided to play mother's day a little differently this year. Whilst traditionally, all daughters and sons buy their mum's flowers and boxes of chocolates which last five minutes; I wanted my gift to be a little different. 

My mum never really has the time to sit down and think, let alone adventure around in the city we happen to live in. So, I took to Groupon and found a good enough deal for brunch and cocktails for two in a modern and airy little pub called St Barts Brewery; a two minute walk away from Barbican tube station. 

Oh, and it was a surprise. Right up until I opened the door to the pub itself...

The Groupon booking itself was pretty straight forward and offered us 4 different choices on the menu for brunch. Whilst I guessed my mum would pick the salmon choice, we both ended up ordering a fry up brunch. I couldn't quite face the fear of demolishing black pudding so let the old girl have it on her plate instead.

Together with the food, we had champagne and OJ cocktails which were simply DELICIOUS and most definitely the naughtiest beverage for before noon!

We then finished up with our bellies full of food and drink and had a little mooch around the area. We came across St Bartholomew's Church which was stunning and found a little back alley in which my mum shot my outfit photos for me.

(Ironically, my last post)

Whilst thinking of something for us to do in the afternoon, it suddenly hit me like a brick to the face. Not that I know what that feels like... but figure of speech and all that...

My mum absolutely loves anything and everything to do with history and dinosaurs. So, what better place to take her than the Natural History Museum?! Located just outside of South Kensington tube station, the building itself is stunning to look at and truly something special.

Being a Sunday, it was rammed full of annoying little children and tourists which is the main reason I didn't get too many photos. However, I did film a mini (and I mean mini) vlog so you can come along with us for the day and see what we got up to! :)

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. 
The Groupon booking was paid for with my own money and St Barts Brewery were unaware I was a blogger.

Coca-Cola roller-coaster

"Yes! I'll schedule this post for tomorrow and then that means I can get up early to hit the gym and then run some errands in town".. said my inner thoughts.

Well, that failed.

P.S BONUS POINTS if you know what song the title is from. If you don't, sort ya life out! It's my favourite song at the moment. 

She Keeps Me Up - Nickelback.

 Yesterday, I took my mum out for a post mother's day treat (more on that soon!). We adventured around central London and found some cool back alleyways to shoot in. My style at the moment is very minimal and I hardly ever steer away from a black and white colour scheme.

T-shirt: Monki / Jeans: Vintage Levi's / Trainers: Nike Air Force 1's 
Coat: Primark / Bag & Belt: New Look / Watch: ASOS* / Jewellery: With Love*

I picked up these black vintage levi jeans a while back and they are without a doubt my favourite jeans at the moment. The only thing I do hate about mom jeans though is that they seem to take away my butt from me and elongate everything. 

Let's stop talking about my butt now.

Air force 1's are probably well minging to the majority of people but I got these for twenty quid and always wear them with outfits that are 80% black. I just love the minimalistic and chilled vibe they give off in an outfit. 

The coat/cardigan or "coatigan" is my most recent purchase; an absolute steal at just £18 from Primark. I'm not the tallest of people so longer pieces can sometimes look like I'm a five year old who's just discovered her mumma's wardrobe. However, this one sits perfectly on me.

Ok, then it was time for a 60 second break so I could have a little dance.

If you can't dance on a Sunday afternoon in a back alley in the middle of central London with people behind you probably thinking WTF; then when can you?!

Ok, enough dancing.

The necklace and bracelets are handmade and sent to me as a gift by a very talented babe called Gemma Malster from her jewellery range called With Love. There is something so nice knowing you are wearing something completely handmade. Definitely check out her Facebook page to see what else she makes!

I was actually really cold. The things us bloggers do!

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I'll be blogging some really yummy looking food me and my mum had. Oh, and we partied with dinosaurs and tigers.

More on that tomorrow ;-) Peace out!

Sunday-gram #4

car travels · grandad's chocolates · cream soda · coat and sneakers · signed gift · miserable selfie

In all honesty, I have done absolutely nothing this week other than mope around feeling sorry for myself. I realised earlier this week that March has been such a cruel and long month for me, so I am overly excited for April to arrive.

Today, I am out and about in London for a post mumma's day treat for the old girl which means I should hopefully have some nice stuff to share with you next week. Maybe even a new outfit post? My last one was actually shot by my Mum and seemed to go down so well!

I think I am going to start back at the gym again next week. I need some kind of escape from my bedroom/office and need to start getting into more of a routine. I generally work from 9am right up until 1/2am (with a Netflix break somewhere in-between), which isn't good at all! I read someone's blog post recently (cannot remember who!?) and they mentioned their routine is getting up early, hitting the gym and then returning home, showering and starting blog work. I think I might do this?

...(I probably won't).

Hope you've all had a brilliant weekend? Mine's consisted of Netflix, one's own company and pizza. Again. 

Second Time Lucky

We all have those things in life that we said we would do and it's usually the case of never completing them, putting them off or simply giving up. Well, mine is a mixture of never completing a certain thing because I gave up and therefore have been putting off doing it again. 

What the heck am I on about? Let's swiftly scroll on down...

I decided to learn to drive when I was 19. I was having a rough time and wanted something to concentrate on as a distraction to all the negativity going on in my life. I did the whole process myself: sent off for my provisional, found an instructor, paid for over a year's worth of weekly lessons and started revising for my theory.

I grew confidence every week on the road and it got to the point that my instructor told me I would be ready to sit my test soon so needed to hurry up and crack on with my theory. However, it all changed one day on 23rd November 2012. I woke up, got ready as usual and put on my driving shoes (a pair of battered old vans that had seen better days but I still have them.. shhh!) and met my instructor outside my house. The lesson itself was fine and everything was going smoothly until I was waiting at a junction to join onto a dual carriageway. There was a van fast approaching so it wasn't safe for me to pull out so I waited like a courteous driver.

What happened next?

Crash. BANG. Wallop.

The car jolts forward. My head bangs onto the wheel. My instructor shouts. Everything slows down and I totally forget I am in control of the car and take my feet off the pedals. The car starts rolling forward onto the dual carriage way until my instructor slams his foot down on his pedals and puts the hand brake on.

Initial thought: What the heck just happened?

A guy who obviously wanted to get home for his lunch or down the pub wasn't looking where he was going and crashed right into the back of my vehicle. He was immediately in 'I AM SO SORRY' mode and my instructor kept reassuring me that I did everything right and the whole thing was the other driver's fault. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
Who remembers my tweet?

Almost two and a half years on, I haven't got back into the driver's seat purely for that scary experience; so I feel like I have wasted so much time and money on learning to drive for absolutely nothing. There are people much younger than me passing their tests every day and it makes me feel ashamed of myself. Even my 18 year old sister has her first lesson booked in next week!

I really would love a second chance to give driving my all, for once and for all! I want to get it all out the way, pass within the next year and buy a small, little, cute car. I am at that age now where it's becoming essential to need to drive. We are possibly moving house soon and I need a car to get me to photography locations.

I am currently blogging and shooting full time so have all the time in the world at the moment to do this. If I don't do it now, I probably never will.

Ocean Finance asked me if I wanted to get involved with a campaign called "Second Time Lucky". It's all about giving yourself a second chance to do something you have always wanted to do but have never done for whatever reason. 

Is there something you would love a second chance at doing? Have you always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon? Maybe you want to take your Mum away on holiday? Always wanted to learn how to do your makeup and want classes? You could win the ultimate prize of being able to do just that! Just fill out this little form and get your friends/family to vote for your entry! There will be one main winner and 7 runners ups!

With a little bit of confidence and self-belief, we can do it together :)  What would you love a second chance at doing? Let me know below!

Dear Ashleigh; This Is Your Life

Dear Ashleigh,

You're 16 and you're about to leave school without a clue what you want to do in life. You will grudgingly submit your sixth form choices in a week's time and within six months, you're going to hate your life. You're going to hate the people you used to hang around with. They've changed and you will need to face facts that your friendship is dead. Don't try and make it work any longer. You're going to hate your psychology lessons and fail your assessments. However, you will bloomin' love your photography lessons.

October 2009, you will look at who is in your life and following on from talking to that gorgeous boy for two whole years, it will be time to take control of your friendship but 'more-than-friendship-kinda-friendship' and tell him to meet you. It will seem scary but trust me as I write these words looking back on your life; it will be worth it. 

You will still be 16 when you fall in love for the first time and currently (as a 22 year old); the only time. You will get butterflies, smiles and be an all round happy person. He will understand you, grow with you and make you a better person. 'T' will be your first love, you're his and nothing will ever change that. You will also now officially quit sixth form and find happiness in knowing you're no longer studying subjects to please your parents. Your college application to study BTEC Photography is now in the hands of the important people, so sit back and get ready for your acceptance letter. Be patient.

30th September 2010 will be the day that you will have been at college studying Photography for a whole month. It will be alright and you will make friends but not necessarily friends that will stick around forever. The same day is the night you start your first shift at work. This will be your job for the next three years; working in a cinema. The pay is shit, the people are morons but it's your income. It will be tempting to pack it all in but don't. Keep at it.

June 2011, you will discover your first blog. What is this? An online diary? A website? People comment on stuff you write?! This will amaze you and within a month, you start up your own blog. Ironically, it's the blog your twenty-two year old self is currently writing this on. So, keep at it. It will seem like everything is moving pretty slowly but give yourself six months and you will have done well. 

Let's forward in time a little...

It's now March 2012. Your relationship is about to come crashing down and it will be unfixable. Your heart is going to break into a million tiny pieces and it won't patch itself back up for a very long time. You will feel alone, broken and like you're the only person in the world who is unhappy. It will seem like there is no point in life anymore or that there is any light at the end of the tunnel. However, you will spend quality time with your family and in return become closer and more attached to them. He doesn't care. It's time to move on; for good. You are in the midst of applying for Universities, although you was certain two years ago that you would never go. 

November 2013 and you're now a year and a bit into your University course. Naturally, you will choose to study a degree in Photography; studying locally at The University of East London. You are getting to know a whole bunch of new people in your class. Again, no one will be a lasting friendship. One word of advice: don't trust anyone. You will be tempted to leave about 101 times, but don't. Stick at it.

You will also begin speaking to a new boy that you work with. Things will develop between you and by mid November, you begin a new relationship. You will be with him for eleven months but, he isn't the one for you. You are like chalk and cheese and his friends don't like you but through no fault of your own. They are extroverts, you are an introvert; so naturally they think you're boring, quiet and probably a little snobbish. They will make your life hell; dirty looks, bitchy text messages, insulting notes left in your belongings. Prepare for this by keeping your head high. Oh, and dump that boy. He doesn't give a shit about your feelings. He will emotionally abuse you over time and do things to purposely make you feel worthless. He is ruled by his friends and will never change. Oh, and there's someone you will have suspicions about in this relationship. Your suspicions stand corrected - you wasn't going crazy.

Moving on into Spring 2014 and thank goodness you kissed (not literally) goodbye to that guy. Doesn't it feel good?
You're now in the run up to the last couple of months before graduation. Things are going to get hectic and you will feel like you're a failure. People (your peers) have kicked you down for the last couple of months and it's time to throw your hands into the air and show them who you are. You will kick arse at your graduation show. The stress you will go through will seem pointless at the time but it will be worth it by the time you've officially graduated and you are on that plane to New York in May 2014.  

June 2014. Sooooo, now it's that period of time where you don't really know what the heck you're doing. So, you will begin to make a name for yourself. You will start shooting professionally for model agencies and collaborating with other creatives on photo-shoots. Your contact list will start growing and people you once looked up to will start looking up to you and coming to you for advice. Beware of this.

By the time August 2014 swings around, an amazing opportunity will land in your inbox. An internship in your dream career. You will put your all into it; even giving up your part time job for it. However, it's not all that it seems so you will now fully understand the hierarchy about internships. 

(If something sounds too good to be true; it probably is...)

You will find another couple of jobs but nothing that inspires you or makes you happy. You will feel like you're doing stuff to make other people happy, but think about you for a change. What makes you happy? Well, your blog does. After being left in a rut of unemployment, you will now make the decision to start blogging and photographing full time. It's a huge risk to change your hobby into a career but it will slowly get there before you know it. Keep working hard and you will succeed.

Yours from me to me,

So readers, this is MY life. I've never made lasting friendships, I've had my heart broken, graduated with a degree, quit jobs for my dream and turned blogging into my career. I think I have done pretty well despite the ups and downs and knock backs I have had. There's still loads of room to improve though so I hope you stick around for the journey. Who knows; I may do another one of these when I hit 30?!

Sunday-gram #3

braving no makeup · waiting to get my hair done · new hair · pretty little liars and chicken · salted caramel amazing'ness · wise words from male blogger phil · blogging in chelsea · highlighter crazy · ready for a night out · saturday fun · best hangover cure · ill

Hi everyone. Remember me? I haven't blogged in a few days and feel terrible for it but know it's just one of them things and I shouldn't beat myself up about it.

I am currently writing this feeling a tad sorry for myself. I went out this weekend for the first time in ages and had a great time but I am now ill which is completely messing me up in terms of work. Hope I feel better soon! For now, I've just eaten a salad with 90% avocado and am going to catch up with emails and sneeze 322938923 times more. Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and I'll be back properly tomorrow x

RUSH Hair Salon - Loughton, Essex

I am a salon virgin. Well, I was. That was until Wednesday when the fabulous guys over at RUSH invited me down to their Loughton franchise to have my hair done. I was a little anxious to say the least. I only really started getting my hair done professionally by a mobile hairdresser in the last year and I completely trust her with my mop. I've heard many salon horror stories and didn't want to end up writing one myself!

So, what did I ask for?

My hair is blonde as you will know. If you didn't already know that then you are either a new reader (in which case, hello and cheers for stopping by!), or you simply just scroll past my face every time I show it. Don't worry, I don't blame you.
So, in terms of my hair I decided to go blonde from a medium to dark brown around 6 months ago. I'm not going to say it's been an easy transformation because it hasn't and anyone who reckons you can go from dark to blonde in a day and have shiny, healthy looking locks by the end of it is either telling porky pies or is Kim Kardashian. I have a mobile hair dresser who each time she does my hair, refreshes it through doing highlights. The last few weeks before I get my roots done, I find my hair can look quite yellow and tired so it was truly time to really treat my hair to an experience like no other.

RUSH has a chain of salons already but is now expanding. A shiny new one in Loughton, Essex, opened up at the end of the last year and is owned by franchise manager, Jack. Upon arrival, I was greeted by Jack who told me he would be doing my hair. Very pleased to say the least!

At first, Jack asked me what I wanted done. Apart from the obvious being my roots, I showed him a few pictures of a clean almost white blonde on Perrie from Little Mix and then a 'LOB' hair cut (see here). He gathered the materials and then began to lather my roots with bleach. He left this for half an hour whilst I read the latest issue of Cosmo Mag. I kinda reminded myself of the scientist in Back to The Future...

Jack then started colouring the ends of my hair which is when I began to look a little less professor like, haha.

This was left for 20 minutes or so which gave me time to finish that article on how men feel when they've been dumped. Quite an entertaining read, I must say...

Next it was time for the more exciting bit! Jack took me into another room which was very spa like. Marble walls, relaxing lighting and peace and quiet. I got a whole load of intense hair treatments using Kerastaste products (SO good!) and I was even treated to a head massage; which by the way was the nicest thing ever. Then, I learnt head messages are good as they relax the scalp to prevent hair loss. So, any near balding men reading this? Go get a head massage!

After my treatments, another stylist at Rush washed it all off and then I returned to the chair with a towel on my head ready for my new cut!

Jack clarified with me how much hair I was happy with getting chopped off which I was very pleased about. I knew from this point on I probably wouldn't have to write a horror story about the stylist who cut 7 inches of hair off instead of 2 inches. Anyway, as you will know from my last hair post (read it here), I had already initially got a LOB cut but it was the safer version. I wasn't 100% I wanted to cut all my hair off so I got about five inches cut off and then decided if I wanted it shorter, I would get it re-cut.

Jack said it would look nice if the back was cut short and the front of my hair came around gradually a little longer. This meant it's at that right 'short but long length' and is still long enough to put up and to curl/wave... something I was very persistent about.

After my cut, he then blow-dried my hair wavy which I have never been able to get the hang of doing myself.. just me?! He then went over the waves with the GHD tong which was released around Christmas time and takes just SECONDS to create the perfect wave.

This was taken just seconds after having my hair transformation done. I was very happy about it but as always with new hair, it's not until you're home and you can style it yourself that you feel completely happy with it.

After sleeping on the waves, I would have in any other case just worked with that kind of look the next day but I had a major meeting in London yesterday so needed my hair to be perfect! Therefore, I washed my hair again the next day using a shampoo for blondes and re-styled it myself. I created waves using my hair straighteners and then used the texture spray by Charles Worthington to create more tousled, effortless waves. I am completely happy with my new hair and am so glad I decided to get the LOB chop. It only took five minutes to dry and ten minutes to wave!

So, here it is...

I have denied the big reveal since I got it done as I didn't want to show it off until I was 100% happy with it and now I completely am!

What do you all think? I am really happy with it! I do have plans to eventually go a little ashier/silver ready for the summer but at the moment I think this new barnet of mine looks a lot more grown up, sophisticated and ready to take on the world!

A huge thank you to Jack and the team down at Rush hair salon in Loughton for taking care of me for the day and turning my hair from a yellow, rooty mess into something completely fresh and new. I can't vouch that all Rush hair salons are amazing, as it all depends on the stylists themselves, but if you are local to Essex, then definitely pop in. Or just travel there! Loughton is on the central line :)

Yay to my first ever hair salon experience. It's been a successful one!