Monday, 30 November 2015

November Lookback

It doesn't seem like two minutes ago since I was writing my October lookback, and yet here we are - kissing goodbye to November... I can't say I'm sad to see it go either!

Yep, this month has been kind of..sucky. I say that without an inch of self-pity, just pure fact. (Okay, maybe a tiny bit of self pity.) The worst part has been this last week - having been stuck in bed with the worst bug known to man...the only plus point is that thanks to said bug, I've lost so much weight that I don't need to worry about the pre-Christmas diet. #winner

Okay, so November wise - lets be recapping' ya..

Firstly, I broke up with my boyfriend. That truly sucked, especially because I would have loved to go through the long haul with him. Watching the fireworks on Bonfire Night with tears falling down my cheeks was not one of the best memories, but hey ho. We *almost* sorted things out...I say almost but lets say, honesty and loyalty is needed for a relationship and there was a night where that clearly wasn't a priority for my ex. So alas, there was to be no more trying again and I'm back to being single - which is fine, because quite frankly, I'll never understand men anyway!

It's looking like November was a month for 'B's! Yep, twas my birthday and I turned the ripe old age of 28. I have no idea how this has happened because I still don't quite class myself as 'adulty' enough to actually qualify as one...apparently being an adult is just googling how to do stuff anyway - who knew? Mumma and Dad Writes treated me to some new perfume and two new Pandora stacking rings for the celebration, which cheered me up no end...(being newly single makes your birthday suck)

Oh there's nothing in life that can't be solved by my two favourite men - Ben & Jerry. And when I finally managed to get my hands on their brand new Cinnamon Buns (oo-er) I couldn't have been happier...boyfriend who? I've been looking for this ice-cream for weeks and finally tracked it down and indulged myself. Also these amazing new Cadbury's brownie bites were discovered at the same time, and good Lord, they are better than...most things. Probably my all time favourite Cadbury product now - and that's saying something!

As you all know, I'm a full on stationery addict, and this month has been all about the planners for me. I've been getting organised and have been sent some amazing planners from amazing brands and I'm going to use them all slightly differently next year - can never be too organised right? I had a particularly lovely Friday evening spent watching Once Upon A Time while decorating my MAMBI Happy Planner with all of the bits and pieces in my latest planning haul. Glass of wine, good TV and a bit of crafty time and I'm a very happy lady.

I have been loving making and uploading YouTube videos, I've done six this month and I'm pretty chuffed with that. I still feel so new to vlogging but I'm loving every minute. I think my favourite video this month had to be my Sephora 'Kissing Stories' review which was for an amazing set of glossy lip crayons from Sephora. It was really fun to film and you can check it out here if you haven't already...

And lastly, here's my Instagram overview for November..

Hope you've had a great November,  leave me links to your monthly lookback for November below!


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Through My Christmas Keyhole

The day finally arrived...

The day that the tree went up in the house of Lady Writes! *shakes my jingle bells*

I love Christmas. I really love Christmas. It's my favourite time of the year. And I always like to have my tree up and my house decorations ready on/by December 1st. But seeing as that is a Tuesday this year, it meant that we needed to do it today so we were ready for the 1st. I don't know who was more excited - me or my five year old!

Every year when putting the tree up, I must have Christmas music on. It's a rule. I also must have one of my Christmas candles burning, so those are the first things that I unpack when I get everything out of the cupboard. Without these two ingredients, festive mood of the highest level will not be achievable - and where's the fun in that?!

I must admit, this year after having a whole week of being poorly, my patience isn't what it usually is and the tree lights just wouldn't quite go how I wanted them to.. The result was that the whole lot nearly got dropkicked out of the patio door. Note for next year - when putting the tree up, ensure there is wine in the house.

However after a gazillion attempts, I got the lights just right and we cracked on with the baubles. Now. I am one of those women who coordinates her Christmas tree colours to her living room. Yes, I am she. I have no shame in this. However, it took me years to find just the right shades of cream, green and mink/silver baubles to perfectly match my wallpaper. Since I found the perfect colours, I swear I treat those balls with so much care that anyone would think they were small children to be nurtured and protected. I can't have them breaking after it took me years to find just the right ones now can I?!

As much as I love coordinating my tree, I'm not quite ready to banish the festive red and green from my house forever. So we have lots of little bits and pieces in traditional Christmas styles and colours which I group together underneath my feature wall. These are a mixture of things I've made myself and things I've bought over the years - and I love them all, even if they don't match the decor...

Two of my favourites are the large snowman and Santa figures I have which I stand on the table in the lounge. They really don't match anything (which drives me nuts) and they are so big they really aren't practical (especially because their legs extend and they then become the same height as my son) but I bought them at a Christmas fair in London and I love them, so without fail, these guys are always strutting their stuff at Christmas. My little man loves them and they are super sweet...but the table is behind the sofa, so in the evenings I don't have to look at how badly they clash...yes, I'm Christmas OCD okay?! Oh and then there's my Gingerbread shop house light, which looks so cute when lit in the evenings - I love this and at least it matches the snowman!

This year I also wanted to Christmas-up my twiggy tree, which is more of the neutral white/cream shades which matched the tones I have on my feature wall. I keep a matching star on the back of my door at Christmas, which is right next to the twiggy tree, so I bought some seriously cute mini decorations in the form of wooden hearts and mini stitched hearts to match. (They were ridiculously cheap from The Range - in fact, I highly recommend you get to your latest shop and have a look - they have some really lovely, inexpensive Christmas bits at the moment). And I'm so pleased with how cute it looks, I'm tempted to even keep a few of the neutral coloured hearts on it after Christmas. You know, just because...

I have loads of random bits and pieces to keep my house feeling festive, but these are just some of them. And yes, you guessed it, I'm Christmas OCD when it comes to matching. Oh we'll, could be worse right?!

 I hope you're excited to put your tree up too!


Friday, 27 November 2015

Top 5 Photo Apps For Bloggers

As a blogger I'm constantly taking and posting pictures. Whether it's for my blog posts or my social media - I'm always snapping away. And because of this I am always looking at new photo apps and keeping an eye on changing photo trends for inspiration. Whether it's apps for adding text layovers, new filters or special effects - I'm always keeping an eye on the App Store to see what's new and worth trying.

So it's fair to say that I've tried plenty in my time. I've found some stinkers, I'm not going to lie! Some that sound like the perfect app all in one, only until I download it and realise that it doesn't do exactly what it says on the tin. But I've also found some really fantastic ones too, and quite often they are the lesser known apps as well.

In my blog and social media photography I use a mixture of apps to help me achieve the results that I want. And I wanted to share my top five with you, so that you can give them a go as well to achieve quirky and unique images for your blog.

1. Infuse
This app is a great all rounder. It's got the capacity to do loads of different things - even with the free version. At a basic level you can merge several images over the top of each other for a really quirky look to give you a modern edge.
I discovered this app while looking for something to place text over my images, and there is a great selection of fonts to choose from, all separated by topics - for example: English Rose (romantic style) and Doodle (handwritten style).
It also has the option to add really quirky stamps on top of your images, which include shapes, quotes and other cute things, although the selection is very small without having to pay for the upgrade. You can adjust the opacity and the size of them to suit your image too - check out some of my free favourites...

Another fab thing about this app is the special effects that it offers. I'm a fan of the bokeh effect and this app offers loads of different versions which is great because previously I had to download separate apps for different versions, so it's nice to have them all in one place. Again, you're in control of how opaque you make it, depending on the style you want. You can also pick from stars, hearts, circles and lots of other shapes, as well as glitter and other styles as an overlay.

bokeh overlay in silver hearts
The downside to this app is that it leaves a watermark on the bottom right corner of your image when saved, but if you can live with that (you can easily crop it out) then I recommend giving this one a go for a quirky edge to your images.

2. Pic Stitch
This app isn't multi use, but it is fantastic at it's main focus - stitching images together. I found this when looking for an app to create a collage of images. This has so many different layout options to choose from, and you can even make your own layout, which is then permanently saved for future use.

I use this app a lot to show multiple images in one picture. It's free and completely meets my personal needs for a pic stitching app. However, collage wise it's not so great because the images can only ever be positioned as a square or rectangle - none of the fashionable scrapbook collage styles are possible. But as far as it goes, I use this a lot and highly recommend it as a foundation app for your photos.

3. Mint Coco
One of the most girly photo apps and I love it! It's so pretty! And as you know, I'm all about the pretty things in life!

This app is a firm favourite for playing with pictures if you're looking for a collage app. You can only have a maximum of four photo's, but you can chose the layout completely. You can rearrange, resize, re-shape and twist and turn your images until you're happy with the layout, you can bring them forwards, send them backwards - everything - all with the free version. Then you have a wide range of options to compliment your collage as well. Firstly backgrounds - there are three pages of free choices before you have to pay for access to the rest. Included are cardstock styles and more natural looking styles like wood and hessian.

You can also add text to your collage, although my opinion is that the amount of fonts available for free is very small, and you can only choose from four colours which is quite limiting. You do have a good selection of stickers and stamps to add to your collage, there's alphabet, hearts, postage stamps and various other choices available in the free version.

To upgrade only costs $2.99 but I highly recommend doing so because the sheer volume of extras in backgrounds, fonts and stickers is amazing and you'll be able to have so much more fun and it also gets rid of the annoying watermark too.

Overall - a real favourite and lots of fun.

4. Font Candy
A fantastic app that's great for adding wording to your images. This app lets you add your own wording, with a good selection of fonts and a great selection of colours too and various filters etc. However what makes this app special is that it also offers pre set quotes to overlay on top of your images...

There are many different categories of quotes and shapes to choose from including Christmas themes, autumn, birthdays etc and each file is filled with sayings and little graphics to use on your images. You can then adjust them to your required size and placement as well as opacity. It's really lovely and you can make some sweet graphics.

There is also a section where quotes are categorised by theme too, so within seconds you can create your very own quote meme's which is great for Instagram if you like that kind of thing - and this is all on the free version too.

I think this is one of the best typography apps I've found for making quotes and inspirational images and you can do so much without having to upgrade to the paid version, although the watermark is quite large, so difficult to crop out without removing a huge chunk of your image. But if you can live with that - go for it!

5. Wefie Stickers
Seriously, this one is addictive!

I've found myself sniggering away at the hilarious images you can make with this one - it's sheer fun! It's sole purpose is adding stickers to your images. I wasn't sure at first, as it does take some time to get used to it, as sometimes the stickers you add to your images don't quite save where you leave them (basically sometimes they are slightly off). So it takes time to get used to it, and is something I hope the developer will iron out soon.

Other than that, you can have hours of fun! The free version is adequate, but this is one I have paid to upgrade to the full version - and I'm so glad that I did! There are so many stickers to choose from, and you can create some really cool graphic style images with their cartoon version themes, like I did below to announce my latest competition winner...

Then there is the purely comical side of things - the hilarious hats, make up sections, bows, facial hair choices - just look at what you can do!

There are great options for adding sparkles, lights, snow affects etc and for fading your corners out. And the firework options look fab in the edges of an image too.

Cartoons, neon signs, funny body parts as well as quotes and sayings - this one is a firm favourite of mine.

So there you have it, my top 5 apps for bloggers - how many had you heard of, and do you think you'll be downloading any of these?

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Why I Loved The 90's!

Being 28, I was obviously born in 1987 (Don't tell anyone).

That means although technically I'm an 80's child, I clearly have no recollection of the 80's, other then the photographs that show my mum's crazy big hair and weird clothes. So I class myself as a child of the 90's because after all - that's when I grew up, when I really started to learn about the world and make memories.

Such a great era (oh God, it wasn't that long ago!) to grow up, amazing films, the music was so fab (Spice Girls - yeah!) and I feel like there was less 'bad stuff' in the world - or at least, maybe we were just shielded from it a little more. Anyways, the 90's were amazing as a child and here are some of the reasons why, and the reasons why children born now are sorely missing out!

So in the spirit of #tbt here's why I loved the 90s...

I can't start a 'I loved the 90's because...' post without starting with Barbie. Yes, I was your stereotypical little girl, I was obsessed with Barbie. Okay, I'll be honest, I was full on OBSESSED with Barbie. I had Barbie, her friends, family, houses, cars, accessories - the whole shebang. To this day, my parents still bring up how much I loved Barbie, but personally I blame them - they encouraged it by buying me the dolls! In fact, please don't ever ask my parents how old I was when I stopped playing with them either... ah-hem. My Dad takes great pleasure in telling anyone who will listen that he used to cry with laughter standing outside my bedroom door listening to me play with my Barbie's because for some weird reason, I made mine always have American accents!? I have no idea why.

Speaking of Barbie's and my Dad, when I found out he threw them all away (I was about 20 at the time and hadn't lived at home for about two years) I didn't speak to him for about 2 months - I was so bereft as I wanted to keep them (not to play with - I swear). Plus now, when I look at how much they go for on eBay, I cry all over again - they're classed as vintage now apparently.

Oh God, I'm even getting excited remembering how much I loved Sabrina The Teenage Witch! One of my childhood favourite programs, but at the time was only available on Sky, so if you didn't have it then you couldn't watch it. Fortunately we had Sky so I would spend my TV time indulging in a bit of teenage witch action. Not like the witch and superpower themed programs of today, this one was 'nice' with nothing scary and I remember actually crying when Harvey and Sabrina finally got together in the very final episode. Sorry for the spoiler there if you missed it - but hey, you've had a decade to catch up!

Then there was Sister Sister - another firm favourite. I loved this and remember getting grumpy with my mum once or twice because it made me really want to trade my younger brother in for a female twin. Apparently that wasn't possible - boo.

I also loved 'Are You Afraid of The Dark, Round the Twist and Baywatch - God how could I forget Baywatch?! The original version was obviously way better - and then there was Knight Rider and Saturday evenings watching Gladiator...oh the epic days of 90's TV...

And then there are the films - oh the films! At the risk of sounding like my Nan - they don't make films like that anymore! There are just so many to list, many of which feature the amazing and sadly now deceased Robin Williams. He really was the star of some of my all-time favourite films like Mrs Doubtfire, Hook, Jumanji etc.

Other greats that I still love watching now are Hocus Pocus (watched it last week - still love that film) and I didn't realise until recently that the one and only Carrie Bradshaw (A.K.A Sarah Jessica Parker) was one of the original witches! Carrie really did have to kiss a lot of frogs eh?!

Others to remember would be Matilda - oh Matilda! I LOVED that film - still do. And one lesser known but equally as fabulous was Harriet The Spy - anyone remember that one? And the one we all watched but never told our parents - Drop Dead Fred.

Long before the days of Kindles and Apple apps that mean you never need to read a hardback book in your life (if you don't want to), books were cool. Going to the library for the latest in Goosebumps series was considered tres cool in the days of school. Even better when they released the versions where you could choose your own ending - but you always read both and went with the one you liked best anyway. Many a late night was spent with a torch and a Goosebumps book under the duvet listening out for your parents footsteps on the stairs telling you it was way past bedtime.

Then there was The Worst Witch books - these were fab, especially when it became a TV program too. Everyone watched it and read the books, and we used to play games in the playground pretending we were at witch school too. Every morning at school when you were waiting for the day to start, you would sit and read until everyone had arrived. If you had a 'Worst Witch' book you got the knowing glance from your peers of mutual appreciation for Mildred Hubble and her weird stripey socks.

And don't forget Jacqueline Wilson - the living legend!


Who doesn't remember Dream Phone?!

Sleepovers with your friends weren't complete without hours of Dream Phone fun finding your dream date. I swear this is one of the reasons I have unrealistic hopes for the way my future boyfriends look. Yeh, cheers for that Brad, if that is even your real name...

Seeing as we spent our days at primary school focusing more on our stationery than our spelling (or I did anyway) it was a given that if you wanted to be cool you had to have the latest stationery brand. A big one while I was this age was Lisa Frank - remember that?! Bright, bold, lots of pink - perfect for girls! If you didn't have a large amount of Lisa Frank stationery then there was no way I was trading pencil cases with you for the day...

Then there were the Yikes! pencils - these were so cool when you got a little bit older, and the boys loved them too. Come stationery shopping in the summer holidays for the new term, I always remember thinking up ingenious ways to try and convince my mum that the pencils I needed HAD to be Yikes! didn't work, I had to buy them with my pocket money. But it was worth it - ever the stationery lover hey.

As I will tell my son when he's old enough to ask, just because I grew up in the 90's, didn't mean we had no gadgets - oh no. We had some of the coolest gadgets around. We had the very first selfie takers - well kinda...who remembers the Nintendo Camera and Printer? You know the ones, the Printers would print in such awful standard but they were the one thing everyone wanted to have, despite the fact that they needed about a million wires to work.

Then there was Dear Diary - the electronic diary which was supposed to be the safest way to keep all your secrets hidden - like why you're best friend wasn't your best friend one day, but then she was again etc. These were great until you forgot the password and they were a nightmare to reset. In the end you gave up trying and just started again - sealing the fate of your secrets to the abyss of the good old Dear Diary.

So, now I'm nicely walking down reminiscing lane, and I hope you are too! If you fancy walking further, check out my Pinterest board dedicated to all things 90's below:

Follow Lady's board The little girl in me on Pinterest.

Do you remember these, or have you got any others that you are particularly fond of?

Happy #tbt all!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

If I was Prime Minister

So, just in the name of having a bit of fun, I decided that although I know nothing about politics, I could do an amazing job at being Prime Minister. Here are some of the laws I would bring in:

1. Socks with sandals would be illegal.

2. Duvet Days twice a year. So if you woke up and just wanted to stay in bed, you could use one of your fully paid Duvet Days!

3. People who smoke get smoking breaks at work. So I would introduce social media breaks so we could check our Instagram and Facebook with a nice brew for five minutes too.

4. Greasy hair would be a crime against fashion, punishable with instant, police enforced dry shampoo rugby tackles.

5. Men would be forced to wear a neon sign above their heads if they are cheaters, players, mummy's boys or commitment-phobes - so we could see them coming.

6. Junk mail senders would be fined a gazillion pounds per letter.

7. Feminine hygiene products - Tampons - would be free!

8. Bullies and mean people would be forced to shave their heads - just because.

9. People who don't use their indicators when driving (especially at roundabouts) would be forced to surrender their license forever. Just because.

10. Builders bum, the top of the bum crack being on show - both would result in community service and compulsory braces for life.

11. Bad spelling, grammar and text speak would be banished and anyone found using it would be arrested by the Grammar Police.

12. Couriers would be forced to stand in the rain for one hour solidly for every time they leave a parcel outside in the rain.

13. Gym membership would be free for everyone.

14. On everyone's birthday, a full band would turn up in the morning and sing 'Happy Birthday' to you.

15. The Xfactor would be banned. Forever.

16. Girls wearing shorts that don't even cover their bum cheeks would be forced to wear maxi skirts for the remainder of the month.

17. Sports of any sort would only be allowed to be on TV between 2am-5am. Sports would no longer be allowed to overrule the soaps, or any other program. And can only be watched when it wouldn't interfere with decent TV.

18. Men who don't pay for, spend time with, or step up as parents (when separated) would be branded as such. Probably on their foreheads.

19. All single parents would win awards.

20. People who abuse the benefit system would be given smarties instead of money.

21. The working week would consist of two days. The weekend would last for five.

22. Going to the cinema wouldn't cost more than a mortgage payment.

23. People who discriminate would be segregated. (See what I did there?!)

24. Every house would be built with a 'special' tap. That just poured Gin.

25. One day a year, all make-up would be free.

So, those would be my laws...what do you think, would you vote for me?

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Happiness Planner

As you know, I am a HUGE stationery fan. I just love stationery, scrapbooking and journalling. I'm a sucker for cute, pretty and lovely stationery in any form. AND when I first started getting obsessed with planning, I began to research the huge amount of planners that were on the market - and I have to say, I can't wait to tell you all about this one...

The Happiness Planner!

I'm so excited by this planner, it's unlike any others I've seen, it's unique - which is really saying something! What makes this one different is that it's designed to help you get to know yourself more, set more goals, focus on your dreams and as a result it should help you to live a more positive life.

You might be wondering how a planner can do this, so let me tell you...

The very first thing you do with this planner is to take the time to invest in yourself and record the results in the first section. (I've talked about the details and shown some of these pages in my YouTube video here). There are pages of 'self quiz' type details which you need to fill in before you start and it's so fun! You're asked to record the things that you like doing the most, what you're happy with - what you're unhappy with. The idea of this whole section is to help you get a better grasp on things, on yourself and on your plans, goals and hopes for 2016. Once you've answered all of these sections, it's actually really revealing about what areas you should focus most of your energy on, and likewise, what you shouldn't.

The planner also helps you to realise what you enjoy most by asking you in that initial section, and it then encourages of you to do more of this throughout the year - 'find what makes you happy and do that' style! Likewise it shows you where you waste time and energy, which is great for helping with time management. Especially if like me, you're constantly on the go.

Another thing that I love is that when you set your goals, there is constant prompting to revisit these goals. By recording your new years resolutions, your goals and more on the detachable printables, you can make a note of the things that you want to achieve and then, if you're feeling demotivated or have lost sight of your goals - you can revisit them to motivate yourself afresh. This is going to be great for me, because I sometimes find that I can get so caught up in everyday life that I loose sight of the bigger picture, so being able to record my hopes, goals and dreams and to keep them in my planner, means I've constantly got them with me for when I need motivating again!

Throughout the year, and on a monthly and daily basis you are asked to evaluate your happiness and record how you feel, what you've achieved etc. I love this, and with all of the other options to record your thoughts, feelings and accomplishments, I love this planner because it's like a journal too, where I can record my emotions and thoughts about everything as well as keep myself organised - win/win.

A key feature is that throughout the planner there are amazing and inspiration quotes constantly. And as you know, I love quotes as much as I love stationery, so I especially love this! It's a lovely touch, and perfect for me as I'm words obsessed!

On a practical note this planner runs for 12 months - January to December (although in their shop, you can buy a 100 day version, which is dateless - meaning you can start it at any time throughout the year). From an organisational perspective, this planner has a whole page per day - which earns it some major brownie points from me. Most planners have a week per double page, but with The Happiness Planner you get a whole day per page - which means there is plenty of space to record the things you need to remember, the appointments you've got etc. So it's excellent at giving you plenty of space to get yourself - and your life organised. There are sections specifically for your To-Do lists, your schedule, your food plans, your exercise routine etc - everything you need to get your day in order. As well as this, there are thought recording sections for what you're most excited about each day, what the good things were and what your hopes are for tomorrow. As well as this, each day starts with a quote - huge love for that!

I absolutely adore The Happiness Planner for one main reason - thanks to all of it's little extra's (daily quotes, thoughtful promptings, opportunities to record and make memories etc.) it's like a practical planner and a journal combined in one. I don't have time to write or keep a diary or journal any more. Between work, mummy duties and blogging - my days are pretty full. So this planner gives me the option to record the emotional side of life - in cute and concise individual sections. And because of that, I'm so excited to start using this, because when we reach December next year, I feel like I'll have a real tool of reflection to treasure and look back on.

As well as their planners (the 100 day version and the full year version) you can also buy Happiness notebooks and cards on the website and download extra printables to use in your planner. And there are links to the blog of Mo Seetubtim who is the mastermind behind The Happiness Planner too - so I highly recommend you check that out too.

The practicality of a planner, the personal ability of a journal, means that The Happiness Planner really is one of my favourite finds this year.

Watch my unboxing and video review here:

Find more details and buy yours here: The Happiness Planner
Twitter: @happinessplannr
Instagram: happinessplanner
Facebook: The Happiness Planner
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