Friday, March 16, 2018

Top Picks For Spring 2018

*collaborative post

It might only be March, but there’s been plenty of great things to get excited about this year so far. If you’re looking for some great recommendations to get you excited about spring, then you’ve come to the right place. From movies to books to fashion and beauty recommendations, here are some top picks for spring 2018 for you to check out.

Image: Pexels

Movie: Black Panther

Forget Oscar winner Shape of Water, this month everyone is flocking to see the latest Marvel installment, Black Panther which features an incredible cast made up of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and others. As the final Marvel film before the Avengers: Infinity War arrives in April, Black Panther is a thrill-a-minute. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 97% thanks to the films engaging storyline and well-developed characters. It’s already made $1 billion worldwide, so it’s definitely one to see this month.

Music: The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

If you haven’t been to see The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Arguably the best musical film released in years (sorry, La La Land), it is accompanied by this incredible soundtrack which has been riding high at the top of the UK chart for some weeks now. Some of the standout tracks include ‘This is Me’, ‘Rewrite the Stars’ and ‘From Now On’. It’s a feel-good soundtrack that will uplift you and make you smile, so make sure you check it out on Spotify now.

Book: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

If you’ve read the heartbreaking Me Before You and its sequel Me After You, then you’ll have been looking forward to reading the next chapter of Louisa ‘Lou’ Clarke’s life, which sees her venture to New York for new adventures while juggling a long distance relationship. It’s another fantastic book from Moyes that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. If you haven’t read the first two novels, make sure you check them out.

TV: The Bold Type (Amazon Prime)

While The Bold Type was released in the US last year, it’s just made its way to the UK, where it’s already become one of the most-talked-about TV shows of 2018. The Bold Type focuses on the life of three friends, Jane, Kat and Sutton, who all work at glossy, glamorous, Cosmopolitan-esque magazine Scarlet and is inspired by Joanna Coles, former Cosmo editor-in-chief. Offering a more realistic and modern take on what it’s like to work at a magazine in 2018, the series navigates some important issues. A real Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City; you’ll be left wanting more after you devour this box set.

 App: Final Fantasy XV:  A New Empire

If you’re looking for a fun app to pass the time, particularly during your long commute, then give the latest Final Fantasy game a try. The series is a much-loved set of games that was originally released in 1987, and the latest installment has now been adapted into a mobile game. Be your own hero and take on a powerful empire in Final Fantasy XV, allowing you to play as different characters as you battle, hunt for treasure and encounter other players along your travels. The series has always been great for people who don’t like to play traditional games, with plenty of good storytelling mixed in to keep you hooked. Download the app and check it out!

Skincare: L'Oreal Paris Smooth Sugar Nourish Cocoa Face and Lip Scrub

L’Oreal has released some incredible new skincare products in recent years, including its fantastic range of Clay masks. This newest release is centered on exfoliation with this hard-working face scrub that not only gives you smooth, refreshed skin but also works as an effective lip scrub. The cocoa scent smells good enough to eat, and it’s the ultimate pamper product for your skincare routine. A bargain at £9.99, this is one skincare product you’ll want to add to your bathroom shelf.

Makeup: Charlotte Tilbury Brightening Youth Glow

Who doesn’t strive to achieve a youthful, glowing look in the mornings? With so many great illuminating products on the market today, it can be difficult to pick the right one. Charlotte Tilbury’s latest release is a brightening primer product that helps to blur your pores and give you a radiant glow - idea for photographs. It’s easy to apply, works with all skin tones and can be worn alone or with foundation to help you achieve a perfect complexion. Approved by beauty editors, this looks set to be a standout product for helping you to boost your base and give your makeup that star quality. It might be a little pricey at £38.50, but a little will go a long way as you make this an essential part of your beauty routine.

Recipe: Chocolate Chia Pudding

If you’re trying to enjoy healthier eating this spring, you might already be craving some sweet treats. Beat your sugar craving with this recipe for a healthy chocolate chia pudding from BBC Good Food. It’s a recipe that is easy to make, is completely vegan-friendly and it’s low calorie - making it ideal for those who are watching their weight. Whip up a batch and leave in the fridge for a tasty treat without the guilt!

Fashion: The denim skirt

The denim skirt is one of those items that returns season after season, but it’s even more difficult to escape its impact this season. A great item to take you from winter to spring, there are plenty of great ways you can wear this fashion staple. Team it with a classic t-shirt or sweatshirt for casual cool, or pair with an evening top for date night or drinks with the girls. There are plenty of styles available to suit all figures, while the midi and maxi lengths offer a change to the typical denim mini. Take a look at some of the photos from the ILFWDA show at London Fashion Week for more great fashion inspiration and a look at some upcoming trends.

It might still be early in the year, but there’s plenty to get excited about with these great picks!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A Celebration of England’s Diverse Adventures

*collaborative post

First thing’s first: any talk about the virtues of England has to make some mention of the weather. So yes, all in all, the weather here can be rough sometimes. But if you can look past those drizzly days and overcast skies, you’ll find there’s much to keep visitors and natives alike entertained for, well, forever! With the abundance of cheap flights operating to Europe and across the globe, it’s not hard to see why so many people opt to leave these shores when it comes to having fun. But let’s take a look at what’s on offer; you might just rediscover why so many people across the world love good old blighty.

Quiet Sunday Mornings

OK, so this might not be the most rock and roll entry on the list, but it’s still something worth cherishing. Of all the times of the week that can be described as quintessentially English, then this might just be it. There’s nothing better than waking up to the sound of the radio, having a hearty breakfast, and then going for a walk in England’s beautiful countryside (ideally with a dog by your side). It gets even better if it’s a sunny spring day or when the autumn leaves are on the ground. It’s something that some other countries don’t get to enjoy, and which many of us take for granted.

On the Weekend

Of course, you’ll only be able to fully enjoy the freshness of a Sunday morning if you’ve gone without one of the staples of English life: heading to the pub on a Friday or Saturday evening with a group of friends. There is nothing more English than a pub; indeed, the best way to describe it came from an American tourist, who said a pub is “a community living room.” Doesn’t that just fit the bill nicely? If you’re lucky enough to live close by to a pub that dates back hundreds of years (and there are quite a lot of them), then you’ll know just how cosy they can be - especially when the weather outside is anything but cheery.

Into the Cities

There are cities in every country of the world, but not many can match England when it comes to having so many different cities with their own atmosphere, located so close to one another. Liverpool and Manchester, for example, are both fantastic, but in their own unique way - yet you can drive from one to the other in 35 minutes or so. And we can’t not talk about London, which might just be the “world’s city”; you can do anything and everything there, usually at any time of the day. From some of the world’s best museums to shows, it’s a city that can match any city in the world.

Rural Life

We like to think of England as being pretty industrial, or built-up - but in fact, only a small percentage of the land has been built on, and that includes all buildings, roads, and everything else man-made. That means that there’s a lot of green space out there, and dotted along those green spaces are beautiful small villages and towns. Most people in England never even think to visit them, but it’s well worth making an effort. If you’re looking for an easily accessible entryway to this kind of life, head to the Lake District. It has stunning walks and many a picturesque town that is perfect for enjoying a Sunday roast dinner.

Group Adventures

Cities and towns are something that you go to see, or which you contribute to the atmosphere just by being there. But England also offers a lot by way of fun adventures, and especially so if you’re part of a group. There are rounds of golf everywhere, and there’s some pretty amazing surfing located on the west coast, too. If you’re looking for something a bit more competitive, then you can try paintballing or go-karting. There’s never any shortage of fun outings to have with your friends and family, no matter which corner of the country it is that you call home.

The Music Scene

If you travel overseas, you’ll quickly discover something that the rest of the world has known for a long time: England’s music scene is amazing! Whatever music you like, you’ll find the very best of it represented in concert halls up and down the country. Of course, everyone knows the massive bands that England have given to the world, but it goes beyond The Beatles, Rolling Stones, et al. From pop to electronic to hip-hop, England’s latest generation are doing some pretty amazing things. Check it out!

Getting Involved

England is a privileged place, and this we know because there are so many activities that you can do. If you like singing, then you can get involved in a local choir. If you like acting, then you can join the local theatrical troupe. If you like hiking, then join a hiking group and explore the great outdoors. The English are a sociable bunch, and they like to share their passions with others. Whatever activity you have a vague interest in, you’ll find it well represented.


Sporting Matches

Here’s another thing about England: the English are crazy about sports. Rugby, tennis, golf, athletics - they’re all part of life for millions of people. But the big one is, of course, football. Each week, hundreds of thousands of people set off from home to watch twenty-two men try to kick a ball into a net. It sounds a bit silly when it’s broken down so much, but just go and see a match - the atmosphere can, at times, make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Just don’t talk to the fans if their team doesn’t win. 

That’s just a small selection of the fun activities to be found in England, so get out there and explore what’s on offer - you won’t be disappointed!

Sunday, March 04, 2018

10th Blogiversary

Well here I am. Ten years ago today, I started this blog. Doesn't a decade go by fast? 

I had planned to write something special for this milestone, but alas, I'm not feeling great again. I got a reprieve of a few days, but now I'm feeling kind of icky again. Icky....(smile) I guess it's the only way to describe it. We've had a very harsh cold snap of freezing temperatures and snow. I think that walking home the other day in the cold wind has perhaps pushed me a couple of steps back in my quest to get well. Oh well, that's life. I won't make this milestone for my blog about my not feeling well. That would be a real downer. (smile) After I write this, I'm going to go have a lie down and give myself a bit of TLC. I'll be fine. 

This inclination to know when to take a rest is something that has grown increasingly within me during this past decade. Blogging and life side-by-side have ushered me into some healthier ways of thinking so I'm grateful for that. When I started this blog I was ten years younger and I still hadn't quite realized the true value of being kind to myself. It's not that I hated myself at all, it was just that I didn't think of what I needed enough. I was a giving person then and I'm still a giving person now, but I also have learned that if I don't give some time to myself then I'll have nothing to give to anyone else. I know that this isn't groundbreaking stuff in the scheme of things in the world, with so much going on, but this has been life-changing for me. 

So I guess that this 10th blogiversary...ten years of my life, has given me the chance to look back on this part of my life. I'm so grateful that I started this blog. In the beginning, it was a means of coping with being so far away from home and trying to find my feet in a strange land. Later it grew into me telling about the places here and there that I've visited. It's also been an outlet for my love of taking pictures, long before Instagram came along. Through blogging I've also had some fun opportunities come my way like: visiting the US Embassy, going to the Ideal Home Show, and my favorite...going to London Fashion Week

My blog may not be a big thing like some, but that's okay. I just enjoy having a kind of digital time capsule of my time here in England and I like sharing what I see. I'd like to freshen things up here and offer more and this is part of my plan, but this will come in time.

In the meantime, I just want to thank everyone who has visited me here over these ten years. I appreciate this so much! Here's to another ten years and to making this space better and better!

Friday, March 02, 2018

The ILFWDA Show at London Fashion Week

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the great opportunity to attend a show during London Fashion Week, but I've been a bit under the weather since and unable to share my experience until now. Sorry for the delay. I'm feeling much better now, so I'm excited to share some of what I saw.

I attended the Independent London Fashion Week Designers Association Show (ILFWDA) on Friday, February 16th, two weeks ago exactly. Even though some time has passed, I'm still relishing the experience as if it just happened yesterday. This was my first time attending London Fashion Week and I certainly hope it's not my last. I've loved fashion since I was a young girl and I've been wanting to attend a show such as this for a long time. Being there was definitely a full circle moment. It was the epitome of how I see my life now as I hold onto the many things that I've always wanted to do, but they seem to take a bit of time to achieve....I remember this...Delayed is not denied.

This experience has reaffirmed to me that it's never too late and that I just need to go full steam ahead with what I want to do. If things are meant to be, they will be, but if they're not I'm still going to be okay. Just because something doesn't happen today, it doesn't mean that it'll never happen. I just have to do my best, let go and have faith. Seeing the creations of the various designers was an excellent reminder that we are all here to give whatever our "thing" is to the world. We may be designers, writers, musicians, nurses, doctors, carpenters, etc...whatever we do, but we just have to show up and do our best.

The ILFWDA Show was beautifully varied and spectacular. I really loved the designs from Jeff Garner and NanaLola Couture. The dresses were so elegant. I also loved the jewellery by A Touch of Gems Wirral. Below are some of my favorite looks from the show from several of the designers. I liked so much of what I saw, but there's sadly not enough room to show everything here. You can see bits of video from the show on my Instagram account in the highlights section here  and a some still photographs here. I hope that you enjoy taking a look!

Pursuing Goals

*collaborative post

I am a person who writes lists a lot in order to get things done day-to-day and I keep track of my goals in this way too. I always find that I can get my head around things better if I see things written down in black and white. Writing these lists helps me to gather my thoughts and to be a bit more precise with what I want as I look at my goals.

The first step for me is writing down my goals and next I think about the path or paths which will lead me closer to what I want. Many of my goals involve creative activities and how I can make them a bigger part of my life. As we all know, it's usually a balancing act to find time for creative pursuits alongside other things in life. But if this is what we want, then we must go for it.

For me, as I pursue the things that I want, I also am mindful of having a source of income that will help pay my bills. One of my goals is to get more of my creative projects out into the daylight because being creative gives me balance in life. I want to strike a balance where I can be comfortable financially and still do the creative things that fill me up. I am slowly but surely finding my way.

I often see a quote here and there around the internet that I like and I keep as a kind of mantra for myself. I don't know who originally said it, but it's excellent advice.

'Do something today that your future self will thank you for.'

I'm going to take that advice.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

World Book Day

Happy World Book Day!

If you have visited me here before, you'll know that I love books. Sometimes it seems as if I've been reading for as long as I can remember. By the time that I went to school, I was already reading quite well. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting on the floor as a tiny little girl and pulling one of the old encyclopedias off the bookshelf. I'd open it up and look at the pictures and then pick out the words that I knew and read them out loud or I'd write them on a piece of paper. My daddy used to read to me or I'd read to him in the evenings sometimes. I think that having access to books...the old encyclopedias and my own storybooks, definitely had an impact upon my love of books early in life. I'm grateful to my parents and extended family for giving me access to books as I was growing up. It's not hyperbole to say that books changed my life for the better and I'm so grateful.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my 10th blogiversary is coming up. This blog will be 10 years old...double digits...(smile)...on March 4th. So in honor of my upcoming 10th blogiversary and World Book Day, I've decided to share a list of my ten favorite books. This was HARD! This list could've been ten lists of ten because there are so many books that I love and picking just ten is quite a challenge. But hey, I'm going with the ten theme here for ten years :) So I'll just say that these are ten of my favorite books, but there are many, many more.

Okay, here goes, in no particular order....

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

The Wedding by Dorothy West

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Hand I Fan With by Tina McElroy Ansa

Cane River by Lalita Tademy

I Know Why the  Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

All of these books mean something special to me. They have all given me a new viewpoint about something and I relish that. As I look back over this list, I think that perhaps I'll reread them all. We shall see.

In the meantime, Happy World Book Day! :)