Monday, 26 September 2016

Cosy Places to Eat this Autumn

autumn, leicester, east midlands, restaurants, cosy
I'm finally coming around to the idea that its time to say goodbye to Summer, and welcome Autumn. Now, I love layering up, buying pretty boots and going all plums and berries with my makeup. But I'm not a fan of the cold, I just don't function well in cold weather. Brrrr
So when I go out for some food on an Autumn evening, it's important that the place I'm visiting is cosy and warm! How bars and restaurants change the ambience in colder weather is SO important.
Personally, after I've just ran from the car in the pouring rain [most likely in heels] I want to be able to relax in a lovely, cosy and warm atmosphere while I wait for my food.
One of my most favourite places to eat locally is Bills in Highcross, Leicester, if only for it's cosy and warm atmosphere and decor.
autumn, leicester, east midlands, restaurants, cosy


Bodega Cantina based in St Martins, Leicester also has a cosy ambience, is always lovely and warm and has lots of comfy seating to relax in.
autumn, leicester, east midlands, restaurants, cosy
I'm also a fan of The Cookie on Leicester's High Street, it always feels warm and welcoming, especially upstairs in their intimate cocktail bar with it's cosy curtains, low lighting and candles.
autumn, leicester, east midlands, restaurants, cosy


What makes a restaurant cosy?

So bar and restaurant owners, take note. Here are my top 3 musts for a super cosy place to eat in Autumn.
1. Firstly, and probably most importantly, it MUST be warm! There's nothing worse than being sat shivering waiting for my food. I want to be greeted by a wave of warmth when I walk in! So whack that heating up this Autumn! Don't forget to check you're getting a good deal on your business gas bill!
2. Comfy seating. Nobody wants to sit on a cold, uncomfortable chair. I'll have a blanket too if there's one spare... just kidding! ;)

3. Good lighting. It's amazing how lighting can play a part in how cosy a place feels. Low lighting and candle light helps create a romantic, cosy atmosphere. But don't turn the lighting down too low, I'm a blogger and need to photograph my food, my dates food and a bit of your decor too! ;)
What about you, what do you think makes a place cosy?


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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Primark open brand new store in Fosse Park, Leicester


Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester



The end of August saw a brand new store opening in Fosse Park Shopping Park, Leicester as part of their multi-million pound investment programme. Previously a BHS, and before that a Toys R Us, the new owners are budget fashion retailers, Primark.

Primark currently operates in 11 countries, employing over 32,000 people here in their 169 UK stores, offering great wearable and affordable fashion.

I was invited along to their press launch for a sneaky peak before the store opened to the public.


Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester
Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester
Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester


Personally, I think Primark has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, the quality of the clothing is so much better than it was previously. They're great for 'seasonal purchases'; if you're looking for something to last you for a 'season' rather than a wardrobe staple to last you for years.

Listening to the opening speech from the new store manager, I was humbled to hear how they work extremely hard to ensure responsible sourcing, better working conditions and they're sitting comfortably in their top 5% place in the list of Ethical Trading Initiative member brands.

We were invited upstairs into the staff quarters for refreshments when we first arrived which was a really lovely space, brightly decorated rooms filled with natural light and modern features, with bowls of Primark sweets at every turn! ;) Employees all looked happy, comfortable and really excited for the launch.


Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester
Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester
Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester


The new Fosse Park store showcases 2 floors of the latest trends in women's, men's and children's fashion, footwear, accessories, lingerie and homeware. I loved the fact that all the women's fashion was on the ground floor, with men's, children's and homeware upstairs. This makes things so much easier to find. 

The store was set up beautifully, it was bright, clean and spacious unlike other Primark's I have visited in the past. I loved the look of the changing rooms, all shiny and new with floor to ceiling mirrors! You know how I love me a full length mirror ;).


Primark, Fosse Park, LeicesterPrimark, Fosse Park, Leicester

Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester


I adore the blog props homeware section at Primark, they have the cutest bits and everything is super affordable. I'm often popping in to pick up some quirky bits for the house, or more often than not, for blog props. I think I started a little trend with the gold pineapple candles, I got a little excited when I saw them and made sure all the ladies I was with saw how cute they were and I'm pretty sure they all threw one, or even two into their basket! I also loved the look of this gold 'LOVE' LED light for my dressing room!


Primark, Fosse Park , LeicesterPrimark, Fosse Park, Leicester
Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester


I had a great morning at the launch, the area manager proudly showed us around every area of the store and after the official opening, customers were met by applause as they excitedly entered the new store. 

I'm confident that customers will love the new look contemporary store. I was certainly pleasantly surprised!


Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester
Primark, Fosse Park, Leicester



Are you a fan of Primark?


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xxx


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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

To my Best Friend on your Wedding Day




To Jemma,

So, you're getting married on Thursday.  Raahhhhh. I'm so so excited for you!
I've been crazy excited for you since you began planning your special day and I've loved sharing the journey with you, from dress shopping when you first asked me to be your bridesmaid and we found your perfect dress, to your Hen Weekend in Liverpool, which I hope you loved!! :) 

I couldn’t be happier for you as you start the next chapter of your life with Scot. You're just perfect together, you compliment each other and I can see he makes you so very happy, which makes me happy! You’re both very lucky!!

Our friendship only started 2-3 years ago when we met in a pregnancy group and we've pretty much spoke every single day since! I'm super lucky to have you in my life and call you my best friend. We put up with each other's moods [and let's face it, we both have one now & then haha], you know pretty much everything about me and I always turn to you when I need to talk, vent or just need some honest advice. I know you'll always tell me exactly how it is and that makes you my very bestest friend! :)

I am thrilled to be standing by your side on one of the most important days of your life. 
I want you to remember to:

Stop stressing. It’ll all come together and it’ll all be amazing. I promise.

Take the day in slowly, as all the craziness of emotions, dresses, photos, flowers, kids and everything else going on around you... breathe and take everything in, enjoy every moment. Make memories that you'll remember forever. 

Remember this day is about you & Scot. Everyone you love will be there to celebrate with you as you start your next chapter. But remember to take some time out just the 2 of you!

I’m proud of you, and a little jealous! But don’t take the piss if I cry! [out of proudness, not jealousy of course, haha!!]
The sun will be shining and it'll be a beautiful, most perfect day; all of the hard work you have done will certainly pay off and I can’t wait to be by your side. 

Have the most amazing day. 
I love you muchly xxx
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Friday, 9 September 2016

Summer Update

Hi guys,


It's been a while since I did a bit of a life update on what I've been up to so I thought I'd aim to do some seasonal updates, you'll have to let me know what you think and whether you like this kind of post from me.


So, SUMMER
Summer is my most favourite season of the year, and although it wasn't amazing, I don't think we had a bad one. We had some lovely hot, sunny days and warm Summer evenings to enjoy! Taylor is so much happier when he's outside exploring so we loved the sunny days spent in the garden. 




June

Our June days were spent enjoying toddler classes, swimming and visiting new places during the day while Daddy was at work and Bradley at school, and my evenings were spent working. The weather was mainly rainy which wasn't great but we did get a few sunny days to enjoy the garden and a few trips to the park. 

I met up with my friends in Birmingham for some bridesmaid shopping which was fun, we didn't end up deciding on a dress but we got a chance to see what styles suited us and what fabrics and colours were best. 

I got tonsillitis and it totally ruined me. I've suffered with it many times before and it completely wipes me out for a few days!!

It was also our annual Mummy's Weekend Away with a few of the ladies from my pregnancy group. We headed down to Bristol and had a fab time. Road trips with my best friend, Jemma are my fave. We have such a giggle and catch up en route! It was great to see the girls, we ate pizza, got ready and headed out for cocktails and dancing. In Popworld obviously! ;)

It wasn't a great month for Bradley at school, he started to be a bit silly and get himself in trouble. His end of year report wasn't great, neither his parents evening so I was very disappointed. Academically he's fine, he just needs to grow up and stop being a class clown! 

I managed to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight this month which felt good. I still have half a stone to lose before I hit my goal and I need to tone up a lot but I'm getting there. 


My most popular post this month was Losing Weight with Gravitate




July

We started to get a bit more sunshine in July, just in time for Bradley to finish school for Summer. We had lots of trips to local parks to enjoy the good weather.


We also headed to Devon for our family holiday. It was lovely to spend time together as the 4 of us as it's pretty rare nowadays. We couldn't have asked for better weather and it was the first time Taylor understood going to the 'seaside'. We had a fab few days and made lots of new memories. 

The following weekend was Jemma's Hen Weekend. I'd been super busy with bridesmaid duties and we'd managed to keep the whereabouts and all the details a secret. We got a minibus to Liverpool and had 2 apartments, the first night was full of drinking, eating and your typical hen do fun and games. The second day we went out for breakfast and a walk round the Albert Docks, had a jewellery making class during the day which was something different and we all loved the jewellery we made. In the evening we went out for a nice meal and headed OUT OUT. I love Liverpool, we had such a giggle playing hen dares and typically we ended up in Popworld! ;) It was a great weekend, I hope she loved it!

I attended quite a few local events and launches this month and got to catch up with the lovely ladies I've met through blogging! And I caught up with my other good friends for a movie night with face masks and a cute little picnic in the park.

My most popular post this month was South American Restaurant Bodega Cantina opens in Leicester.



August


We spent a lot of time out in the sunshine this month, long days spent out in the garden with the boys having fun.

A friend of mine works on Big Brother so Jemma and I headed down to Borehamwood for a live eviction. It was a really fun night. Was very strange being in the VIP bar and stood in the family and friends section chatting to Bear's family. And we were a bit vulnerable knowing we were constantly in camera shot! ha But it was good fun.

I had to rush back from London the morning after as I was helping out at the East Mids Meet Up [which I'll be posting about very soon!].

As Taylor, and a few of his friends all turned 2 this month we had a little play date party in the garden which was super cute and the kids had lots of fun. On his birthday we spent the day at Thomas Land at Drayton Manor. Again we were really lucky with the weather, it was a gorgeous day and everyone had fun, some family came round in the evening and he had a fab day! I still can't believe he's now two!

My most popular post this month was Taylor: My Letter to You on your 2nd Birthday


I'm a bit gutted Summer is now over. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to the sunshine. But I guess it's time to hang up my playsuits and put away the sun lotion and think about layers, leaves and hot chocolate...


How was your Summer?


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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

5 Tips to Create the Perfect Lounge Ambience for your Garden


home, garden


We all need some down-time now and then to escape the daily grind. If you have a garden or a porch, then you know that the living room and study are not the only places where you can enjoy some relaxation and in the process take your mind off the daily worries. And after all, the outdoors is where you get the fresh air and energy you need to keep up with the daily job routine. So here are five good tips for turning your garden into a perfect lounge area where you can take advantage of the best outdoor experience without leaving your home.

home, garden

  1. Firstly, check out the various online resources available where you can find appropriate outdoor furniture that can help you customise and personalise the setting to your preference. UnopiĆ¹ is a great source for all the essentials to create a harmonious ambient, providing a diverse collection of outdoor furniture and accessories with an artistic feel that grant the option of experimenting with different outdoor design ideas and styles—from rustic to ‘belle epoque’ or ‘Dolce Vita’ and many more.
  2. Knowing how to work with space is a second important element in your quest; you can never have too much or too little and there must always be a perfect balance between the two. Cluttering is no good, and empty space serves no purpose, so always leave open spaces that afford a good view of the garden and the surrounding panorama. A good bin or dispenser hidden from view behind the hedgerow is perfect for taking care of garbage and even cleaning up the garden in the process.
  3. In this respect, colour is all important and any furniture should match the flowers or immediate scenery. Coloured pots or items like candle-holders and decorative lamps will add a cozy and exotic feel to the outdoor experience, making the ambient ideal for any activity. Hand-crafted lamps and holders especially can liven up the atmosphere in the evening while dining outside, and allow you to enjoy your garden lounge experience well into the late hours of night-time.   
  4. The choice of furniture is another factor that deserves primary attention. Sofas, tables, side-desks (for placing your TV or laptop) and lounge chairs or sunbeds made of durable and eco-friendly or recyclable material aimed at supporting environmental sustainability (like wood, stone, marble, ceramic and glass) are a perfect complement to a garden summer holiday, and will help you connect more with nature. Parasols and umbrellas will protect you from unwanted heat during sun-blazing days or in the hottest part of the early afternoon, when nap time approaches.
  5. Lastly, if you are inclined to you may wish to add to the list extra (inexpensive) luxuries like an inflatable portable pool to lie in and sunbathe while sipping your favourite cocktail. All you need is a pump and your garden hose to make your garden lounge experience truly chic and make it resemble a real vacation away from home.         



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xxx


*Written by MaryJ

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Summer Beauty Favourites

summer, beauty, favourites, skincare, bath, body, makeup, nails


Hi guys,

I haven't done a monthly beauty favourites post for the past few months, so I thought I'd do a Summer Favourites instead.
Of course, I used a lot of products over the Summer but I've chosen six of my favourite, most used products that pretty much lived on my dressing table throughout my favourite season of the year.


kiehls, skincare


Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream (£24.00)
I've wanted to treat myself to this for a while now and this Summer I finally did. It is formulated with moisturising squalane and water retaining imperata cylindrica to protect the skin through harsh weather conditions. My skin has felt amazing since I started using it, throughout the day it feels soft, smooth and super hydrated. And I'm confident my skin will be well looked after throughout Autumn & Winter, new favourite moisturiser over here!!


l'occitane, shower oil, bath/body


L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil* (£18.00)
I received this sample sized shower oil after the L'Occitane Bloggers Event I was invited to over the Summer. It smells SO good! It transforms into a lovely lather when in contact with water, which feels beautifully soft on the skin. It has that luxury feel of an expensive product! My skin feels really soft and hydrated after use, which is really important for me as I suffer with keratosis pilaris. It's quite expensive for a shower oil, so I'll be a bit gutted when it runs out, [which as you can see will be very soon, boo!] but it'll definitely be on my wish list!


soap & glory, fake tan, skincare


Soap & Glory Glow Job Sunkissed Tinted Morning Moisture Flash (£11.00)
That's a mouth full! Ohhhhhh wait!!... 
They've done that on purpose surely?? Given it that name, for that very response full of innuendo!! Anyway, moving on. I've shouted about this stuff before, but I couldn't not mention it in my Summer favourites as it has been a big fave of mine this Summer. So, Glow Job is a wash off face self tan, mixed with moisturiser. It has cheeky little magic bronzeburst beads, that burst upon skin contact releasing a subtle but buildable colour, leaving a lovely sun kissed glow, which has been perfect over the Summer months. It also includes youth enhancing raspberry stem cells which boost elasticity and skin toning vitamin e, which makes it a pretty amazing product! 


Benefit, make up, eye make up, makeup


Benefit Big Beautiful Eyes Eye Contour Kit (£25.50)
Another product I've mentioned before, but it has been my go-to palette a lot this Summer. It contains Boi-ing industrial strength concealer, alabaster pink base shadow, cocoa shimmer contour shadow and rich chocolate brown liner shadow, as well as a couple of brushes. I'm not sure it's worth the price tag for what it is, BUT it's a pretty good eyeshadow kit to reach for. The shadows are beautifully blendable and used together makes a really lovely eye makeup look. I've used it throughout for the Summer for an everyday eye look and also used it on my friends a few times on nights out. 
Essie, nail colour, nail polish, nails


Essie Nail Colour in Sand Tropez (£7.99/Superdrug)
I'm a big nude nail fan all year round, but this soft, sandy beige shade has been a favourite throughout the Summer. It's probably the name that draws me to it during the Summer months but it's such a good clean colour that goes well with any outfit day or night. I've painted my nails with this a couple of times lately as it's such a complimentary colour.


Elizabeth Arden, skincare, lips


Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant (£27.00/Boots full size)
I received this small sample a while ago in a beauty box and I've been using this on my lips as part of my evening skin routine every night throughout the Summer. It has kept my lips feeling soft, smooth and hydrated through the warm nights and I'll be happy to continue using it all year round. I'm not sure I could justify purchasing a full size when I'm on empty though, I'll have to hunt down another sample size!



What beauty products have you been loving using this Summer?


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xxx


*I was gifted this item from the brand. 
All other products bought with my own money. 
All opinions are my own.


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