Personal blog by Ashleigh Dougherty. Read with a pinch of salt and a cuppa' rosy lee.

22/08/2015

What's In My Travel Backpack?


As some of you may or may not know... me and Josh are off on a Europe travel holiday as of TODAY and we couldn't be more excited! Obviously, we have only just got back from Greece but I am definitely more of a city holiday type of person so I am super excited!


I haven't been on a road trip holiday since I was a young child when my parents used to own a big caravan which we travelled across Europe in every single summer holiday. I miss those days! This time round, we are driving to France and spending two nights there. France is one of my favourite places I have ever been to. I have been around 6 times and got the opportunity to visit Paris a few years ago. Did you catch my travel blog post on Paris? Then we move onto Switzerland for three nights there which will see us first time skiing in the only summer ski slope resort. I'm quite worried about this as my balance is all over the place and I can't even ice skate! Then we move onto Germany for two nights which is a place I have wanted to visit for years but not somewhere my family has ever planned of visiting. Finally, we drive up to Italy and stay there for a week. I have been Italy but only for a long weekend for a family wedding so I never really got the chance to explore.


The lovely people at Fitness First kindly sent me over the most ideal backpack for travelling with some Fitness First gym passes which I used to join at my local gym to tone up my lumps and bumps ready for my summer holidays. I'm admittingly usually a fashion over comfort kind of girl but I know this time round that it is incredibly important that I travel not only properly but lightly to avoid strain and back pain. I thought it would be fun to show you what is packed into my travel backpack!


Are you off anywhere this Summer? :)
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21/08/2015

Solution To The Best Night's Sleep

I always used to find it difficult to sleep properly and now I know the exact reason why but I was always too lazy to see to the problem. The littlest changes can make a huge impact when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. This could be turning your mobile or iPad off before you sleep, keeping your window open during the night or even treating yourself to some brand new bed covers.

On this occasion, it was something a little different that kept me tossing and turning during the night. The lack of elevation. I have four pillows on my bed, two on each side but they are admittingly years old and as flat as pancakes. This meant that for me to even consider an okay sleep, I would need my head to rest on THREE of these pillows.

When Time4Sleep got in touch to ask if I was interested in trying out some memory foam pillows, I couldn't turn down the offer. My sister has a memory foam mattress so I know memory foam is just about the comfiest thing ever!


I received two of their Cool Touch pillows which upon arrival were in separate protective carrier cases and retail at £40 each. The Cool Touch pillows are made out of a fabric which 'breathes'. Upon lying down, the heat and moisture generated by your body will evaporate and your body will be kept cool throughout the night. As soon as I opened them, I felt that they were incredibly soft to touch and my hands sank into them so I seriously couldn't wait to try them out that night!


I have been using them every single night for a good few months in order for me to be able to give them a fair review. I wasn't sure if they would start to go flat after a while or if the comfort would start to wear off. However, I am happy to report that they have still kept their shape and texture and are as good as new! I now find I only need to sleep with the one pillow as opposed to two or three and get a brilliant night's sleep without waking up in the night uncomfortable or in the morning with dreaded neck pain.

I now understand that the bedding you have is the most important thing when it comes to getting the most perfect night's sleep and I can't believe it's taken me so long to figure this out!

*Pr samples
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18/08/2015

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups Chocolate Cake

Reese's peanut butter is one of my favourite things in the whole wide world. Infact, when ever I see the famous orange wrappers in a supermarket, I get a little excited and end up treating myself to way more than I should!

If you want to find out how to make this delicious (but extremely naughty!) Reese's peanut butter chocolate cake, let's dig in...


Firstly and quite obviously, you are going to need a few packets of Reese's peanut butter cups*... or 10 equalling 30 cups in total. However, 20 will do you just fine. I got mine from A Quarter Of who are an online retro sweets retailer with over 650 varieties of different sweets. It's heaven for any sugar lover!


Next, you will need the following ingredients to make your naughty chocolate cake...

  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 75ml crème fraîche
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 100ml cold water
  • 200g butter (cubed)
  • 200g plain chocolate

To make the chocolate fudge ganache on top, you will need:
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salted butter
  • 150g plain chocolate


Now it's time to get baking! The routine was fairly easy! I followed a recipe in an old bakery book that was hanging around looking a little dusty and the outcome looks rather yummy!

THE CAKE

  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/170C.
  2. Grease your cake tin.
  3. Melt the butter, chocolate and water together in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the mixture is smooth and creamy, leave it to cool down.
  4. Melt the Reese's peanut butter cups in a separate bowl. This may take a while but eventually they will melt!
  5. Sift both the flours and cocoa powder into a bowl and mix in both types of sugars.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the 3 eggs and crème fraîche together and then add in the chocolatey butter mixture.
  7. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture and keep folding until all the final mixture is smooth.
  8. Finally, add in the Reese's chocolatey mixture and make sure everything is evenly mixed together.
  9. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and smooth the top using a bread knife or spoon.
  10. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, occasionally checking on your beautiful creation.
Now leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes and then remove from the cake tin onto a wired rack.


THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl but make sure not to burn it!
  2. Add the double cream into the chocolate but off the heat.
  3. Add in the vanilla extract and mix everything together. 
  4. Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes so it thickens up.
  5. Now spoon the ganache on top of the cake.
Optional: Go crazy and add extra Reese's cups all over your chocolate cake.

Yum, yum.


There we have it! A super, duper yummy looking chocolate cake with a Reese's peanut butter cups twist! I can almost taste it between my lips! Infact, I may go have another slice now before someone eats it all!

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17/08/2015

Why I Stopped Learning To Drive

So you know what it's like when you're sixteen and 3 months away from turning 17; you can finally apply for and receive your provisional driving license within a couple of weeks. It's funny how that little green card can make you seem more adult than ever before. When I received mine, I was so excited to start learning to drive. However, college got in the way and this meant I was a poor student for what seemed like the longest time ever.

I finally had my first driving lesson with a cool instructor called Jeremy when I was 20; slightly later than I had planned but better late than never, right? We found Jeremy via the internet and he was reputable but you do have to be SO careful when finding the perfect instructor for you! I have heard so many horror stories!


Cutting a longer than long story short; I learnt to drive for AGES. Infact, I had well over 40 lessons and was told I was ready to sit my driving test as soon as I felt ready in myself. Truth be told, I hadn't even sat my theory test yet so this was the only thing stopping me doing my actual driving test!

I remember waking up one wintery morning and telling myself that I was ready to bite the bullet and just do it. I had a driving lesson that morning at 10am so got ready and waited to be picked up by Jeremy. I was so excited to finally tell him I was ready and that I would book my theory test that afternoon for the next few weeks. I had revised so hard and knew I was ready for both.

However, bang, smack, wollop

On that actual driving lesson, I was waiting at a 'give away' sign, front of the queue which was a slip road joining onto a dual carriageway. All of a sudden, another vehicle smashed into the back of me and I lost complete control of the car. I remember everything slowing down and I just forgot what I was doing. I took my feet off the pedals and before I or Jeremy knew it, we was rolling slowly into the middle of the dual carriageway with loads of oncoming traffic. Jeremy had to slam his foot on the break and panic settled in. I was in a daze and couldn't move or speak.


Thankfully, we was all okay and there was no damage to anyone involved. The bumpers on both cars were a little damaged but it was completely the other drivers fault. He admitted he was driving too fast and wasn't looking at the time he was driving because he was distracted by his children. I am so lucky in a way that I was only a learner driver and didn't have any responsibility with the aftermath of the crash.

When I do actually pass my test (it may actually happen one day!), I will make sure to get More Than Young Drivers Insurance which covers 18-24 year olds which is a telematics type of insurance. A black box is installed into the car; helping young people to drive safely whilst saving themselves up to £750 on their car insurance. Only problem is, I'm getting old!


So, that's why I never bothered to sit through another lesson and it's now been almost three years since this happened. It sounds ridiculous how your confidence can be knocked and shot down after three whole years; but it did. I am only just starting to feel truly ready again to get out there. Everyone close to me has a car and can get from A to B in no time; yet I suffer with stuffy tubes and overpacked buses.

I have no idea when I will get back into a car and face my fears but when I do, I won't let anything stop me!
Disclaimer: In collaboration with More Than but all words and photographs are my own.
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13/08/2015

Bluebeards Revenge Cuban Blend Beard Oil

It's always nice to have a bit of variety on a blog, right? Well, I think so.

Shockingly, according to Google Analytics, the majority of my readers at the moment are male. I'm sure you guys don't want to read about women's fashion and beauty all the time?!

When Bluebeards Revenge got in touch asking if Josh wanted to review some beard oil, he just couldn't contain his excitement. What a cutie. Yep, Josh has a beard which just keeps on growing and growing and growing...

Now, I know as a lady that it's extremely vital for me to keep my hair well nourished to keep it looking shiny, smooth and well manageable. I have never really thought about the difficulties amongst men who are growing beards and moustaches. Credit to you guys, 'cause I don't think I could have a bushy monster growing on my face!


However, fear not because some wonderful man or woman got ahead of the problem and invented beard oil; to nourish, keep the shine and make beards more manageable. Now men can look pretty too!

Josh received both the 'Classic Blend' and 'Cuban Blend' beard oils. However, he has thoroughly enjoyed using the 'Cuban Blend' so that's what we have decided to write about together :)

A quick difference is that the Cuban Blend is all about nourishing the beard and the Classic Blend has a manly smell to it. Both bottles have 50ml of product and are priced at £9.99 each.


Josh loved using both but favoured the Cuban Blend a little more than the Classic Blend. He says he has definitely seen an improvement in his beard since using the oils. For someone who never bothered caring for his beard in any way, shape or form; he is now incredibly devoted to making sure he slaps on some oil on his bushy face before heading out to start his day.


If you are looking for something super simple that will tame that hairy monster on your face; then the cuban beard oil is the beardin' right one for you!

He totally recommends Bluebeards Revenge beard oils to any guy who is looking for a saviour for their beard... however big or small! Size doesn't matter as they say... 


Josh has also said he is definitely going to buy some replacement oils for when he eventually runs out which may be soon as he's already gone through one bottle!

You can get your hands on the Bluebeard range from some stockists or online. Find out where your nearest stockist is here!
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12/08/2015

ASOS x Coppafeel! Breast Cancer Collaboration

Let's talk boobs. Not literally about boobs (other than boobs being boobtastic), but about the risks of us ladies (and men!) having boobs.

Coppafeel! is a London based breast cancer awareness charity that focuses on supporting the awareness and early detection of breast cancer. We should all be aware of breast cancer and how important it is that we check our breasts regularly. So, now there is a handy little way to remind us to check them...


A few Christmases ago, a kick in the face hit me and all of my family and it was the thing we was dreading the most. My Nan was diagnosed with breast cancer. No form of cancer has any history in my family so we wasn't expecting to hear such devastating news. You just don't ever expect these things to happen to you or the people around you that you love.

My Nan had gone for a routine check up with her doctor when they found some abnormal test results. A study was taken out on the results and we had to wait for a few weeks for the doctors to tell us whether it was good or bad news. We all kept positive and I held my fingers and toes crossed for what seemed like an eternity. It didn't matter how much praying we did though. Unfortunately, the results came back positive for breast cancer and it seriously ripped our family apart. I am sure most of you agree that grandparents are usually always the rocks of the family. My Nan and Grandad are two people who I (even to this day), expect to be around forever. Of course, I know it's impossible for anyone to be immortal but when you are about to lose someone;  it really does put everything into proportion and makes you stop and think. I realised I could lose one of my favourite people in the world.

My Nan soon went into hospital and they removed the tumour successfully. Even though that was good news for her and us all; she still had to go through months and months of painful and tiring radiotherapy. For someone who used to have so much life, she was now not the same person and was out of it most days. She grew uninterested in just about everything; even Coronation Street!

Gradually, she came off the chemo and radiotherapies and was on the road to recovery. This was until they did another test to make sure all the cancer had gone when they found more abnormal results but this time in her heart. She was now diagnosed with an aneurysm which is a build up of blood vessels which balloon in size. Too much pressure makes them burst which causes a heart attack.


The wonderful doctors managed to sort this but then the aneurysm ruptured again a few weeks before Christmas last year. However, this was the time we all saw her at her weakest. Forty five years of smoking meant that her lungs were collapsing in on her fast and her heart was failing because of this because the blood vessels had no oxygen. The doctors told us there wasn't much hope and that we needed to prepare ourselves for the worst. I went to visit her once and once was enough for me. My little nan was just a crumpled body of bones with grey skin and she was losing her hair. She couldn't eat, go to the toilet or speak properly. She was even hallucinating during the night.

We all come together as a family and kept strong. A part of me had a little bit of hope left inside of me and I prayed and prayed. The day came when she went into theatre and had open heart surgery. It was torture for us all not knowing whether the operation was successful or not. It was a 50/50 chance and even then; her lungs and heart had pretty much given up on her.

She pulled through the operation and now has a five inch sized scar across her chest. She was bed ridden for months and there was a sadness in her at not being able to do things for herself. She needed help washing, eating and using the toilet. Her hair has only just started growing back and she's only just started feeling like herself again.

If it wasn't for her having the routine check up, we wouldn't have known she had breast cancer. If it wasn't for the checkup results of her breast cancer, we wouldn't have known she had an aneurysm in her heart which could have burst at any point and killed her.

I now feel SO strong towards raising awareness of breast cancer because I know what it's like to see someone I love deteriorate right in front of me.
Coppafeel! have teamed up with one of my favourite fashion brands ever to raise awareness of the importance of checking your boobs for any abnormalities. ASOS always do IT right don't they?

Amazingly, they are now stitching labels into all ASOS (own brand) bras to remind us ladies to check our boobies! I don't know about you, but I think this a fabulous idea. I think we all forget to have a little feel every now and then so a friendly reminder to do so when putting on or removing our bras will certainly make me do it! And I would rather be safe than sorry.


I was sent over some boob (this word is so great) related goodies to help support the campaign with. This included a very cool I love boobs mug and even a boobie stress ball (which I am sure is going to come in handy!)


 I am now off to lather up my boobs with my peach body wash and have a check! There's a nice thought for ya! No but really, please check your boobs!
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10/08/2015

Corfu Beach Bikinis #SplashedByGeorge


Here is the next instalment to my holiday posts and today it's all about the two B's... bikini's and the beach!

I was lucky enough to be #SplashedByGeorge just before I jetted off to Corfu so I was armed with a variety of different swimwear. I have never really been 100% confident with my body so complimentary to the bikinis; I got a really lovely kaftan beach cover up which is great as it can be worn in an outfit too!


We was lucky enough to have the beach right on the door step of our apartment. It was nice because you could spend the day at the beach and then finish off by exiting the beach, crossing the road and jumping into the swimming pool!


This particular bikini is my favourite one (and Josh's!) that I took away with me. A neon pink colour with a frill trim and a daisy print meant this little set was any girl's dream with a holiday tan!


I think our first holiday together proved that Josh is more of a swimming pool person and I'm more of a beach lover! I actually surprised myself as usually on family holidays, I am the least enthusiastic person when it comes to hitting the beach. I hate the feeling of sand on my thighs and feet! However, the crystal clear waters of Arillas in Corfu meant that I could swim far out and wash all the sand off without worrying about little monsters eating my toes down under.

(I know this probably wouldn't happen, but the mind is a powerful thing...)


I took off by myself a few times during the week and walked from one end of the beach to the other with nothing but myself, my ear phones and a can of iced peach tea. Sometimes it's nice to just spend some time on your own and have time to think and reflect on yourself as a person. Whilst it was nice to get away from the busy hustle and bustle of London; I also came home with a much better understanding of myself.

More on that soon.


I spent a long time looking for a good enough beach bag and just couldn't find one I liked. This one* is from Paper Bags Co and is a strong enough canvas tote bag; perfect for throwing in all your beach/pool essentials. I also LOVE the print!


One evening, I took a stroll along the beach and had a swim at around 7pm when the sun was  just starting to go down. It was beautiful as it was quiet, the waves were calm and the sun was bouncing off the water so perfectly.


Probably my all time favourite beach I have ever been to! I wish I was there right now jumping over the waves!
Disclaimer: Some items in this post were sent to me for my holiday posts. However, this doesn't affect my overall opinion and as always, I would never feature something that I wouldn't by myself. 
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08/08/2015

GO PRO HERO 4 HOLIDAY VIDEO!


As promised; here is my video full of go pro clips that I filmed whilst on holiday in Corfu. I hope you like it! I am off again on my next holiday in 2 weekends time; travelling Europe with Josh. Would you like to see more videos like this? Let me know below!
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07/08/2015

ASOS Morrocan Crochet


Another holiday outfit which I am seriously obsessed with! I wore this on one of the hotter days which reached a scorching 42 degree heat. I'm still so surprised with myself that I didn't burn a great deal but factor 50 at the rescue meant my skin was well protected.


SHOP THE LOOK
ASOS Morrocan Border Print Shorts* // Buy HERE
ASOS Crochet Bralet* // Buy HERE
Hat: Urban Outfitters // Shades: Matalan* // Sandals: Primark

I think these Morrocan Border print shorts from ASOS are truly beautiful. The culotte and elasticated high fitting waist meant they were the ideal outfit for ridiculously hot weather and forever growing Greek food babies.


The little crochet bra let is now in the ASOS sale which is incredible because it's on trend right now for festival season! I would be most pleased if I managed to get my paws on it for only £6.50! Be quick!


I think this was the day that we all attempted to do a super long trek into the cliffs around the beach to visit a tiny white church. However, the heat got the better of us and our walk didn't last long before we all gave up in exhaustion.

I most definitely would have come back looking like a boiled lobster.


I should probably give some credit right about here...

No but really, how well has Josh done shooting all of these photos for me? For someone who doesn't have a clue about photography; it only took him a 5 minute lesson to understand the type of shots I wanted and he was raring to go!

"Stand back a bit. That's it... no, stay there. Ok let's go over here now and I'll take some from up here".

What a sweetie.


I am seriously diggin' these flowery bushes outside our apartments. I am half tempted to get them in my garden. I think they look so pretty in outfit photos, don't you?
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