Thursday, 31 December 2015

My 2015 Look Back

This year has been a roller coaster for me. *Bursts into Ronan Keating, Life Is A Roller Coaster*

I've loved, lost, grieved and made memories that have marked this year as an all rounder - a year that's given me experiences of all sorts. I can't hate on 2015 too much though, because for all the negatives, there have been some positives too!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Lady Writes 2015 Awards

So, with it being the end of the year, there is no better time for me to share with you some of my top brands/finds/experiences from 2015. So, I decided to do my own little awards ceremony...well, blog post - same thing!

This year has been one of discovering lots of new brands, products and things to love. I've tried a lot of new beauty products and experimented with things I wouldn't usually dare to change (I'm talking foundation, nothing else!) So I wanted to take the time to celebrate in some of these findings and hopefully introduce some of you to some amazing new products and brands for 2016...

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The London Rocks Collection - Buckley London

Jewellery. It's my fashion love. Jewellery can complete any outfit and can quite often be the thing that makes an outfit go from being standard - to outstanding. Jewellery is the thing that decorates clothes - and adds that edge that makes you stand out from the crowd. My current statement style is wearing a basic top, with no pattern or decoration with skinny jeans and heels. I then use amazing pieces of fashion and costume jewellery to adorn the outfit and be the thing that draws the attention.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

What Santa Left Under My Tree

This year we celebrated Christmas early with my family - two weeks ago in fact - because they were off to the States to spend Christmas there. I blogged about it and you can read all about our early Christmas celebrations here.


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day Bargains

Boxing Day.

The only day of the year that I would even contemplate getting up at an insane hour and not feeling like I could drop-kick everything in sight... Did I mention that I'm not a morning person?!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Kimoji - The Truth According To Lady Writes

So today something happened that is rare in my life.

I expressed an interest in something Kardashian. I actually feel a little bit dirty for saying that out loud..

Today the queen of entrepreneurship succeeded in sucking me in and I *gulp* downloaded her new Kimoji app. Yes, I know! Don't hate me.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

My Jewellery Shopping Experience With Fraser Hart

Christmas is the time of year for sparkly things, isn't it? Ladies, I know you agree. And gentlemen, I know you do too - seeing as I saw most of you in Fraser Hart yesterday picking said sparkly pieces for the ladies in your life.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

Lady Writes Celebration Competition

Getting back into blogging this year has been the best thing to come out of 2015 for me.


What's Your Minimergency?

My handbag is sacred territory. It holds my life in it and that's not even an exaggeration!

I live an extremely active life - I'm not talking mountain climbing on a daily basis, but I work full time, I'm a single mummy and between blogging, friends and general day-to-dayness, well, my life is busy! So, I need to always be prepared and covered for all eventualities which means my poor handbag houses practically everything from my massive can of hairspray to Disney themed plasters - most of which have fallen out of the box and live in the abyss at the bottom.

I realised recently that most of the things I carry in my bag take up so much space and I don't actually need full size everything in there. After lugging my handbag round the shops and coming home with shoulder ache from the weight of it again, I decided enough was enough and I started trying to find a way around having to carry a full to the brim handbag.

That's when I found out about Pinch Provisions.

Pinch Provisions are an amazing brand who's mini care kits are full of emergency essentials. Never heard of them before? Well they've just launched in the UK and I couldn't be more excited! Welcome to the UK Pinch Provisions!
Their Minimergency kits have solved all of my handbag cramming problems and allowed me so much more space in my bag - no more achey shoulders from carrying the weight of all those things I have to keep with me.
Their kits are tiny, and looking at them you wouldn't believe that you get SO much inside something so small. You get 17 beauty and health essentials for those everyday emergencies that could potentially catch you out, and all come in the cutest and most fashionable little zip bag.

Each Minimergency Kit contains:
Double Sided Tape strips x5
Bobby Pins x2
Breath Drops
Sewing/Mending Kit
Dental Floss
Clear Nail Polish
Hair Spray
Nail File
Lip Balm
Clear Elastics
Stain Remover Towelette
Nail Polish Remover
Deodorant Towelette
Earring Backs
Safety Pin

I can think of an occasion where I've needed every single one of these items and been caught short. I think that's why I over cram my bag full of stuff - I don't want that to happen again! But now I've got my Minimergency kit, I know I'm covered and I keep mine with me every day.

Not only do they provide you with everything you need practically, they also have the most funky designs for the bags themselves. As you all know, I'm a huge Kate Spade fan, which is why my go-to Minimergency kit is white and gold stripes - it's got that designer look to it, which I love. I've also got the fuchsia and gold, and that one is perfect for my more girlie days.

Size wise, these will fit in to the smallest of bags - so you can even ensure that when you're on a night out without your usual sized handbag, that you're covered for everything. In fact, Pinch Provisions have a slimline kit too, for those nights where you've only got a tiny clutch bag. So there is no reason you can't take your Minimergency kit with you whatever every occasion.

The kits are only £16 each which I think is an absolute bargain for how much you get. There's a huge range of coloured and patterned bags to pick from so there will be something for everyone, but the contents are the same inside them all - so you know exactly what you're going to be prepared for.

I have managed to replace all the heavy and bulky items in my handbag with one Minimergency kit and I'm so pleased - the kits are cute, handy, fashionable and practical and my handbag is no longer weighed down with full sized items that I don't need in that quantity.

Something new to the UK market, but I can guarantee these will take off as well here as they have done in the states - where they've sold over 2 million already. They're just that unique.

Follow Pinch Provisions:
Twitter: @pinchprovisions
Facebook: Pinch Provisions
Instagram: pinchprovisions

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Adult Colouring With Lisa Jayne Design

Something I've loved this year is how adult colouring books have become a 'thing'.

I've always enjoyed sketching and doodling, and whenever my son and I have a creative and crafty day, I always enjoy colouring in his colouring books far more than I should...until adult colouring books became a trend all on their own.

My guilty pleasure no longer needed to be a secret as lots of my friends also began to invest in a colouring book or two and a set of colouring pens and pencils. There's something incredibly girlie and reminiscent about walking into a stationers and coming out with a pack of colouring pens just for you - and knowing that now adult colouring is a 'thing' that it's completely okay.

So, having worked through several colouring books this year I was on the look out for a new one when I found one by Lisa Jayne Design, it's her amazing 'Sketchbook Doodles' colouring book. Lisa is an artist that I've rated highly for a while now because her style is exactly the sort of thing I love - doodle, sketch and very natural.

I couldn't resist this colouring book for several reasons - firstly, for all you hardcore colouring book fans - you'll appreciate this - each page is left blank on the reverse. Now, that may sound like an irrelevant fact but it's actually what drew me (get it!?) to this colouring book. Even some of my lightest pens will bleed through the pages of previous colouring books. This isn't too much of a problem, it's more of an inconvenience because it means you miss out on the reverse page design. But Lisa's book solves that problem and still gives you an entire books worth of pages to enjoy.

Another reason I love this colouring book is because it's got a good mix of intricate and detailed patterns and some more simple doodle style layouts. This is great because sometimes I don't have the mental energy for the detailed patterns but know that I can still sit and have a little colouring session with the TV on and a glass of vino.

Adult colouring seems to have been something that's picked up pace more now that top therapists are saying that colouring actually helps to lower stress and anxiety levels. Using a colouring book as a method of escapism, and loosing yourself in something unrelated to life problems is apparently a reason why so many adults are now revisiting their youth and investing in a colouring book - and Lisa's book is one with a thoroughly calming affect.

I wanted to give you a quick slideshow of the inside, so please have a watch of the video to catch a glimpse of what's included in the Sketchbook Doodles Colouring In Book...

Another great thing about this colouring book is the price - it's only £8 and it's a great size for keeping in your bag. Based in the UK too, Lisa ships worldwide though her Etsy shop and website. So, if you're looking for a way to remove the stress from your life after shopping, wrapping, cooking, card writing and family frivolities this Christmas, then I highly recommend you invest in one of these colouring books - the little girl in you will thank you for it! It's my newest favourite colouring in book!

Follow Lisa Jayne Design:
Etsy Shop: LisaJayneDesign
Instagram: lisajaynedesign
Facebook: Lisa Jayne Design

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

5 Things I Want To Make Time For Next Year

As it's approaching the end of another year, I'm starting to think about my plans and goals for next year. I read an awesome blog post by Liz over at Lipstick and Confetti  who wrote about things she wants to make time for, and it inspired me to write my own post. After reading hers I began to think about the things I want to achieve and the hopes I have for next year, and while reflecting on this year I've come up with five things I want to make more time for in 2016..

1. Cooking/Meal Planning.
I am rubbish at meal planning. Between working full time, being a single mummy and running my blog, I'm barely able to stretch my culinary skills past the basic level. No matter what anyone says, cooking for one person is a pain! My son has his dinner separately, and so when you're cooking for two, it's easier and you make more effort. But every night after a long day at work, all I want to do is put my feet up and bury my nose in some blogs - not slave over the cooking. So, the first thing I want to make more time for is cooking. I want to get a slow cooker and meal plan every week. That way, I can put my meal together before work and then come home to something nutritious and healthy - rather than chicken salad or stir fry every night! Seeing as the work will be done in the morning, I won't feel too knackered to cook when I come home. Plus it will be cheaper than buying fresh salad ingredients every night on my way home.

2. Exercise.
That dreaded word. I got really in to the gym and loved going until mid way through this year when I couldn't afford the membership fee anymore, and was struggling to go after work as the nights drew in and I felt more and more tired. And yet going to the gym made me feel better and feel more healthy, and I felt the benefits mentally and physically too. I found it was an amazing stress reliever as well. I also feel like I've rounded out a little bit now, so the gym will help to banish those body insecurities a little bit more too.

3. Reading.
I read a lot of blogs. I love blogs and I know so many amazing bloggers *waves* and I love to spend hours reading their latest posts. As part of my job I have to flick through the daily papers online, so I keep roughly up to date with news stories too. Plus, in a social media world, we're never very far from reading the odd personal interest story either. But the type of reading I want to do more of next year, is the good old fashioned type. You know, with a book. Well, not with a book. With an Amazon Fire, but you know what I mean. When I went on holiday, I read two books and absolutely loved every minute. Both made me howl with laughter on my sun lounger and I realised it had been months since I'd finished a book. I want to make time to read more and to enjoy it again. I bought an Amazon Fire specifically for this, so I hope having that will motivate me to actually do it and discover some really amazing authors again.

4. My parents.
I'm really close to my parents. I speak to them almost every day and they only live 20 minutes away, and yet somehow in the midst of busy life, we can go for weeks and weeks without actually seeing each other. I am so grateful to have parents who I can class as friends too, so next year I want to make sure that there's less time in-between our family meals and more opportunities to spend time together. I also want to make more time to visit my Nan. I grew up really close to my grandparents and since my Grandad died it's just my Nan. She's not far away, and she's getting on a bit now, so I want to make sure I see her more next year too.

5. Travel.
As a single mummy, I'm not going to just up and leave my gorgeous little man to travel the world - I wouldn't ever want to leave him for anything! But I do want to make more time to visit new places - there are so many cities in the UK that I want to visit and explore - The Shambles in York being the top one. I just want to spend a whole day roaming around and enjoying the scenery of somewhere new. I've got a list of British places, and one of the perks offered by my employer is hotel vouchers for next year. So I feel like with the vouchers, I've been able to ease some of the financial burden and can look forward to some long weekends away getting lost in beautiful places, drinking tea in tea rooms and exploring. You're never too old to get lost! And what's that amazing saying? "Not all who wander are lost"...

So those are the five things I want to make time for next year, what would you like to make more time for in 2016?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Gifts For The Unicorn Lover In Your Life

I really enjoyed writing my 'Gifts For the Fox Lover In Your Life' post, and so I decided to work on a couple of other themes. Now, these aren't random themes. No, my friends, some of the people in my life will actually be receiving gifts this year for Christmas from this very blog post!

I wouldn't say I'm a unicorn fan, although personally speaking - who doesn't actually like them?! I am the biggest fan of anything cute and pretty and unicorns fall in to both of those it's safe to say that some of these are going on my very own Christmas list this year...

My personal favourites include:

'I poop glitter' pyjama's. Everyone gets pyjamas at Christmas, it's like a law and these are particularly to my taste - and my humour! Personally speaking, I think every Unicorn lover should have a pair of these, because quite frankly, why wouldn't you? And these are only £24.99 from one of my favourite shops - Chicks Rule. Bargain.

Then, seeing as we're on the topic of loungewear, a nice new pair of unicorn pyjamas would't be complete without some matching slippers now would they? And personally speaking, I find these to be very understated. I think they're even subtle, wouldn't you agree?

Then what unicorn fan would be without a unicorn cup to enjoy their daily beverages? At only £4.99 I think this one is a bargain and unicorns would be proud to adorn it - right? Technically yes, this did come from the children's section, but hey, who cares.

Now, a true unicorn fan wouldn't be ashamed to step out of the house with unicorn themed attire. So this bag is perfect for holding your daily bits and pieces. Described on the Selfridges website as "A little bit mad' - it certainly is. But hey, for £28, I think it's quirky and unique.

In this day and age, we all have mobile phones, and what better excuse to dress yours up as an actual unicorn?! I'm totally crushing on this rubber case from Asos. It's only £15 and you'd feel like you had your very own unicorn with you in your handbag. Yes, you might look slightly insane when talking on the phone, but who cares?!

Now, for the true unicorn lover in your life, stocking fillers are a must this Christmas. What about this cute little unicorn necklace? Sweet and simple, and hey, maybe you can even make wishes on it?

And last but not least, what about a unicorn pen. You just remove the unicorn's backside to reveal the pen and away you go - your writing needs forever to be fulfilled with the end of a unicorn (literally). Only £5 from Paperchase.

So, there you have it - your gift guide to buying for the unicorn lover in your life! Which is your favourite item?


Monday, 14 December 2015

Our Early Christmas

This year Christmas is very different in the Lady Writes household. Having spent almost every Christmas with my parents since I was born, this year is the very first Christmas that it's going to be just me and my little man on the big day. In the evening I will be popping over to my best friends parents to spend the night drinking and party gaming it away, but during the day it's just the two of. The pressure of cooking a Christmas dinner as excellent as my mum's is looming, and I break out in cold sweats just thinking about it.

Anyway, my parents and brother are off on holiday for the whole festive period so we marked today as our early Christmas Day in order to still spend some time together as a family. So at lunch time the little man and I bundled up and we headed over to Mama and Papa Writes'. Yes, I was singing 'Driving Home For Christmas' on the way. It seemed like the appropriate soundtrack, even though they only live 20 minutes away..

My mum is the queen of entertaining. She's the hostess with the mostest and outdoes herself every time we have a family function. Moreover she's the most amazing cook so I was careful to near starve myself in anticipation of the spread I knew she would be putting on! We weren't having a Christmas dinner, but a buffet of cold meats, cheese etc - which is my favourite type of meal, especially on a Sunday. I think I ate so much I may not need to eat for a week now, but hey, that's kind of the law at Christmas right?
Naturally, Christmas wouldn't be right without bubbles would it? And after some bad news this morning about someone dear to me having only a short while left to live, I made a mental toast to them and used the bubbles to try and put on a happy face for my little man again - after all, Christmas is magic when you're five!

Obviously the presents were the key part of the day for the little man - duh. He's all about "Farmer Christmas" and once we convinced him that we had cleared it with the big man that he could have his pressies from Nanna & Grandad, he couldn't wait to get stuck in. Even though he's only five, he took it upon himself to distribute the gifts out from underneath the tree, making sure that everyone got theirs equally. He's so structured - I wonder where on earth he gets that from?! *ahem*

Being a single mum, it's not often I get to treat myself and this year my family did it for me! I was spoiled thoroughly and got loads of lovely bits and pieces and here's a little snapshot of a few of my treats...

I have been after a ProBlo set for ages and my mum kept trying to get me one but they were sold out, she even set an alarm on her phone on the day they restocked to ensure she remembered to get me one - aww bless her heart. And finally, after months of pining after it, I've got one - and I can't wait to use it! (Yes, I'll blog about it!)

I also got two bottles of perfume, one of which is my signature scent - Thierry Mugler 'Alien' and seeing as I had run out, this was especially gratefully received - thank you Mama and Papa Writes!

I also got two pairs of pjs and two pairs of slippers from Next - which is my favourite place for pjs right now...

And the latest DVD boxset of Nashville which will be fully binged upon over the Christmas holidays.

The little man has reached an age where he's all about big boys toys and my brother clearly couldn't wait to indulge him in a mahoosive Nerf gun. This bad boy shoots three 'bullets' at once, goes practically the length of the entire house and has made me realise that my days of Thomas the Tank Engine are on their way out in favour of toys like this.

He also got a Ninja Turtles play set the size of a table (!) and a Ninja Turtle dressing gown which he took such a shine to that he wore it all afternoon over his clothes and he is of the impression that he's going to be wearing it to school tomorrow. I haven't the heart to break it to him yet that he won't be!

My Nan also joined us for the day which is normal for Christmas. I'm very close to my Nan and grew up spending lots of time with her and my Grandad before he passed away. So we always like to make sure she has a nice Christmas as well. I managed to get a photo of me, my Mum and my Nan, which is rare but is so nice to have one picture with all three female generations in our family.
Although we celebrated early, the main thing is that we spent some quality time together as a family. Ultimately the food, the bubbles and the pressies are always nice but Christmas is about the ones we love and the ones who love us. And I'm so fortunate that I get to call this mad bunch my family.

So from me and mine, to you and yours - Happy Early Christmas!


Sunday, 13 December 2015

My Christmas Cards 2015

This year I wanted something a bit different when it came to my Christmas cards. I didn't want the usual cute looking Christmas tree, or snowy looking scenery - this year I wanted something bold. Something that would make a statement. Something that would be hard for my friends and family to forget. Something that would make them laugh until their sides hurt..

You will have seen my recent blog post about my #happymail from Brainbox Candy, and you'll know that I class them as one of the most unique gift brands in the UK. So, when it came to searching for something quirky in the card arena, I knew they would be the place to look.

They have a range of Christmas cards called Turkey Sandwich and I don't think I've ever come across cards quite so hilarious! As I've said before, Brainbox Candy are the gift brand for people with a sense of humour. So if your friends and family are easily offended, then I recommend that you go elsewhere - and stick to the snowy scenery versions. However, if your nearest and dearest can appreciate a good laugh, then these are for you (and them!)

Priced at £2.50 each, if you sign up to the Brainbox Candy newsletter then you get a voucher code for 10% off your first order as well, so you can stock up and save a few pennies at the same time.

Now, the nature of these cards is far from PG12. So, don't say I didn't warn you! I howled with laughter when mine arrived, and keep sniggering as I imagine my family opening theirs on December 25th. I know they will fully appreciate the sentiments!

I have to admit, I kind of wish I was getting one of these myself this year, rather than giving them out as they are exactly my humour and sum me up perfectly. But maybe my friends and family will read this and take the not-so-subtle hint?!

If you're looking for cards that will ensure they're never forgotten then get yourself over to Brainbox Candy and make a purchase.

Website: Brain Box Candy
Twitter: @brainboxcandy
Facebook: Brainbox Candy
Instagram: brainboxcandy


Saturday, 12 December 2015

Cocoa Brown Tan Review & Competition!

I have pale skin. Really pale skin. Often described as 'lily white' pale skin.

So because of this, I've spent the last ten years using fake tan. I've spent more money than I care to remember, trying different brands and techniques. I've been through the spray tan phase, the £ name it, I've tried it. And in all my ten years of tanning, I've never found my perfect fake tan system...until I was recommended Cocoa Brown.

I had my initial scepticism but never one to turn away from a tan brand that I've not tried, I decided to give it a ago - and I'm now faithfully using this daily, and have no intentions of using anything else again.

Using several Cocoa Brown products I've finally - after a decade - found the perfect tanning system. So let me tell you my little secret about how I achieve the best tan results I've ever had..

Step 1:
Firstly, it's imperative that you exfoliate before tanning. If you don't, those areas prone to tan build up (for me it's my wrists and elbows) are going to look ten times worse if you've not exfoliated. So, the first step is to fully exfoliate using Cocoa Brown Tough Stuff. It's a 3-in-1 body scrub which has the texture of sand/grit and smells like cucumber - it's divine! Tough Stuff prepares your skin for the tanning Cocoa Brown products by removing old tan and fully exfoliating your body. So, thoroughly use this as step 1.

Step 2:
Apply Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Mousse. This is the true tan product of the range and is a self-tan designed to develop in one hour. Now, I don't achieve the results I want within only one hour, so my step 2 is to leave this on for three hours during the evening to let the tan fully develop. It does say in the small print on the can that 3 hours is the maximum time it can be used, so just don't exceed that or you might be facing life for the next few days resembling a dorito!

Step 3:
After allowing the 1 Hour Tan to develop for three hours (confusing huh?!) then wash it off, and apply Cocoa Brown Night And Day Tan. This is also a 2-in-1 product, as when you apply it, it acts as an instant tan, and then when washed off it's a gradual tanner too. So, as part of my perfect tan system, apply this after your three hours using the previous product and go to bed in it, leaving it on for 8-10 hours. In the morning, wash it off and then apply another layer to wear underneath your clothes. As this is an instant tan, it's not sticky, it doesn't smell - AT ALL - and so, it's very easy for wearing during your day-to-day routine.

The results! (No filter or anything!)
Step 4:
Once you've had your second application of the Night & Day tan on for another 8-10 hours, wash it off and...voila! You're done! The colour is natural, bronze and sun kissed (as shown in the photo above). It's not harsh and fake looking, it's more of the holiday sunbathing look as oppose to the fake orange tans you can sometimes see. From this point, you've achieved your perfect tan colour and every other day just apply another layer of Night and Day tan. On the the third day I recommend you exfoliate with Tough Stuff, and again on the seventh day. However the seventh day should be viewed as your new starting point - this is when it's time to remove all the tan, and start the process again. It achieves the best results this way.

As with all fake tan products, application is key to achieving the results you want. Both of these tan products are in mousse form so it's really easy to apply. I recommend you use a Cocoa Brown Tanning Mitt for this, at approximately £3.99 they're a bargain and I can't fault mine. It helps me to apply the tan easily and quickly and it's machine washable too, meaning that the mitt doesn't get dried out with tan product and need replacing frequently.
Application method is simple - apply in circular motions, starting from the chest working backwards to your shoulders and back, then your face, then arms and hands and working downwards. A tip I always recommend is to apply an extra layer of tan to the face at the end of your application stage. This is because wearing and removing make-up daily will wear the tan down quicker on your face than anywhere else, so to avoid your face looking pale and your body looking like a sun-kissed goddess, just apply a little more to your face.

If you follow this simple system using the products I've recommend in this method, you'll achieve amazing results too. This brand is cost effective and still manages to provide results better than brands charging over triple the price.

Because I love Cocoa Brown, and I want to share my love for them, with you, I'm running a little competition for you to win all the items discussed in this post! This way, you can win the perfect fake tan routine for yourself! Included in the prize for one lucky winner is:
Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan
Cocoa Brown Night & Day Tan
Cocoa Brown Tough Stuff
Cocoa Brown Tanning Mitt
PLUS Cocoa Brown Instant Tan Bronzing Gel in Matte - which is another Cocoa Brown product which is being raved about, but I have yet to try!

To win all these goodies and open a very pink and girlie package full of tanning goodness, just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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