Blog Tour-The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

Hi guys! Today is my turn on the The Secrets You Keep blog tour and I'm so happy to share this book with you. 
I'd been in a bit of a reading slump-even my trusty Philosopher's Stone was feeling like a chore-until this book arrived on my kindle. I thought The Secrets You Keep was gripping, and fast paced, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. 

The Secrets You Keep


You're Beautiful?

It occurred to me the other day that the word "beautiful" makes me uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong though, when my partner, or in fact my mother, say it I can kind of stand it- they are biased, they have to appreciate my "beauty" and they really know me. But when a stranger says it, it feels different somehow. Almost like my brain tries to fit my image of myself into the image of what society deems beautiful.


30 Years to Know Me

The funny thing about getting older is it's almost always a catalyst for reflection. I don't know if it's because I finally hit the big 30- honestly an age I wasn't even sure I'd make it to at one point- or if I'm just feeling particularly introspective at the moment, but for whatever reason I sat down on my break at work a few weeks ago and just started trying to figure out who I am. Now don't read that and think "Uh-oh is AJ about to pack in her job and go all "Eat, Pray, Love" on us?" I can promise you that while I would love to spend my days communing with nature, and smoking weed I have no plans to in the near future. But I do want, for lack of a better phrase, "to find myself". 


What I got for my 30th

So you may have read my post about what I wore to my 30th birthday dinner, then again you may not have, and thus you should totally do that when you are finished here! If you did you will know I promised to do a follow up, What I Got kind of deal...GUYS I got a frigging LOT of stuff. Like I was genuinely stunned with the generosity and love I felt this year #sospoiled. I mean I've always been spoiled not gonna lie but it turns out turning 30 notches that up a level (lifehack). So what did I get??

From my Parents

My Life in Movies Tag

I love a good Tag. Maybe it's because I'm a a total over-sharer and will jump at any excuse to answer questions about myself, or maybe it's because it's a great way to get to know other people!

The wonderful Danielle from Underland to Wonderland  tagged me in this one, and as it combines my two favourite things- movies and me- I couldn't wait to give it a go.

So without further ado let's take a trip through my life via the medium of movies :-D


My 30th Birthday Look


I promised on Instagram I would do  a little post about my 30th birthday. A what I wore, what I did kind of thing so here we are. 

This year's soiree was quite a bit more subdued that previous years'-there were no costumes, no crazy themes, no 3 day benders in Newcastle. It was just me and my favourite people, having dinner in my favourite hotel, and drinking into the wee small hours, and it was fabulous! I loved it, and as a reformed party girl I think I might have been missing a trick all these years (who am I kidding I loved every minute of those too)! 

So what did I wear? 
Well my absolute favourite piece of my whole outfit was this last minute addition...isn't it gorgeous 😒

Yeah so I managed to totally bugger my arm the week leading up to my birthday so this beauty is my new accessory de jour! Luckily for my mood the outfit underneath this bad boy was so perfectly me.







 I spent about 20 minutes picking dresses to try on from the sale (ya girl's not made of money you know) rail at New Look only to spy this dream on the way to the fitting room. Honestly I don't think there is a single other item of clothing that sums "ME" up quite so perfectly. Annoyingly this one has actually been added to the sale since I bought it *sob* and can be yours for £24. Thankfully for my bank account the shoes were in the sale when I got em and they are actually surprisingly comfy. Damian picked them though so I can't take all the credit-they aren't online anymore but these are quite similar.

I know as a blogger I am supposed to document everything but I think I maybe took a maximum of 3 photos all night so I don't actually have one of me all dressed up :-/ but I did take this one in the dressing room when I bought it!



Time for Makeup:

I am totally obsessed with my Anastasia Beverley Hills palette that I picked up when we were in Florida so that is the base of every single makeup look I have done recently! If you've never heard of Manny Mua I highly recommend checking out his tutorial for these eyeshadows he's a genius, and even I can follow his videos. 





I love all of these products so much, so imagine my despair when half way through the night Fiona told me that Estee Edit were shutting and I wouldn't be able to get my beloved Flash Illuminator every again :-O! Apparently I don't like to make it easy for myself because my favourite lipsticks are only available from the US and customs charges are a bitch!! 
On birthday night I wore:
  • Urban Decay All Nighter in 1.0 (this stuff oxidises about 2 shades darker so shop down a shade or two), I actually like to mix in a touch of liquid highlighter with my foundation to give my face an all over light. 
  • Estee Edit Flash Illuminator
  • Sleek Soltice
  • Modern Renaissance: Golden Ochre mixed with Burnt Orange, Venetian Red, and Vermeer. 
  • Kylie Cosmetics Koko Collection 2 Shade Bunny with a dot of Sugar Plum gloss on centre of bottom lip. 


I was going to do a bit about what I got too but it turns out that I was spoiled this year, that I have enough to fill a whole other post! So stay tuned for that if you are into that sort of thing. 

I also absolutely promise that the next time I do my makeup, or wear this outfit I will make a concerted effort to take decent photographs for you all. Or at least take some before I'm drunk! 

What did you do on your last birthday? Did you know that W7 Cosmetics have come out with this amazing dupe for Modern Renaissance? Can anybody find me a replacement for my Estee Edit illuminator 😭?

Summer Snooze with Adjustamatic

I have a big, beautiful comfy bed, but due to chronic pain I also have a makeshift bed on our big comfy couch. I can't actually remember the last time I had a decent night's sleep.  As I toss and turn every night, trying to get comfortable enough to sleep for even just a few hours- I wonder "does everybody have this much trouble sleeping?" So I do what I always do and turn to Twitter, and it turns out I'm not alone, especially in the summer!
Let's pretend I said in and not on the summer lol.
As you can see an overwhelming majority of respondents have their sleep pattern altered in the summer months.

Probably the last time I had a good night's sleep. (Disclaimer: It's a toy gun, my big sister told me there were escaped prisoners in the area!) 
Here's a few reasons I couldn't get to sleep this month:

  • it was far too bright outside even my eyemask didn't help
  • birds are bloody chirpy at this time of year
  • it was ROASTING!
  • Too many blankets
  • Not enough blankets
  • Too many pillows
  • Not enough pillows
  • Sneezing fit because the pollen gets fecking everywhere
  • A fly got in and buzzed round my head for an hour
  • Pretty Little Liars Finale-okay not summer related but man the wait was tense *haha*
The folks at Adjustamatic are also thinking about our sleep this summer with their #SummerSnooze campaign and have created the fab Infographic below for you to peruse.

How's your sleep in the Summer? I'd love to hear about all the things that have kept you awake.Sound off in the comments, or as always come and chat to me on twitter.
Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time when producing this post. As always the content within is true, personal, and endorsed by myself. 






Summer Makeup Trends 2017

It's been a while since I've done a beauty post but I have a couple planned for the next month or two so thought I'd get the beauty ball rolling with a look to the coming season.
Whilst Summer in Britain might actually only last a few days (and may actually already be over-down south anyway, it's not been nearly as hot in Scotland *sob*) it is one of the most inspirational times. Trends are everywhere, and with so many opportunities to show off a look it's a great time to try something new. 

I grew up watching my mum paint her face on every morning, same face every day, and it was classic, and it worked for her. But I think sometimes it's nice to mix it up a bit, so this summer instead of my usual beauty regime I'm going to try out every one of these trends...who's with me?

Nails
It's summer so of course we're leaning towards brights. This year we seem to have come over all 80s, and I love it! Nail technicians are seeing a rise in requests for neons which we all know go great with a summer tan (be it real or fake). What is new for Summer 2017 is the styles though- at lot of designers sent their models down the runway with negative space, or marble being the focal point of their nails. I'm one of those bloggers who loves a bit of marble as I'm sure most of us are, so why not ask your professional nail artist to create some marble magic using Mambo Beat and Banana Clips from the CND Shellac Collection from https://www.ellisons.co.uk/nails.html.
Top Tip: HAVE FUN. Nails are such a great canvas to experiment on so grab the brightest brights and just play about with whatever takes your fancy this summer!

Marble nails, summer nails, nails, neon nails, summer trends 2017, trends
Neon Marble Nails. Photo Credit: Jenny Nagorski 
Skin
This summer it's all about the glow. Highlighter has been big news for a while now but this summer it's set to take centre stage. It's time to relax your contour, put down the bronzer and make your highlighting palette the star of the show. This look is all about being hydrated so try using things like coconut oil, face mists, and even lip balms to add some shine to your skin. 
Top Tip: add some liquid highlighter to your foundation and dab on with a damp beauty blender! 

dewy skin, dewy, summer trends 2017, summer, trends
Dewy Skin. Photo Credit: Clarins
Lips
Your face isn't the only thing calling out for some shine this summer. Lip gloss is set to make a comeback. After a few seasons of Matte Lipstick running the show (thanks in part to lipkits from a certain Jenner, and amazing drugstore products from Sleek) it's time to pick up the gloss again, and add a little moisture to your pout. I know what you're thinking though "ugh but lipgloss is so sticky!" well Bare Minerals have come to the rescue with their new Buttercream Glosses, all of the shine-none of the stickiness. 
Top Tip: feeling a bit more daring this summer? Try colour blocking your lips. A red on top and an orange on your bottom lip with a touch of gloss in the middle, will really make any look pop. 

lip gloss, lipgloss, street style, summer 2017, summer trends summer makeup
photo credit: Getty
Eyes
Hands up if you just can't when it comes to lining your eyes? I am genuinely in awe of everybody with these perfect lines, and flicks, and cats eyes! When I try I always have to have micellar water, and 100 cotton buds on hand to fix my mistakes-and I almost never get both eyes looking anywhere near the same. Which is why I am so excited eye makeup is going a bit grungy this summer. It's all about the kohl and the smudge folks. All you need is a pencil and a finger and you too can nail this summer's biggest eye trend. 
Top Tip: draw a hashtag on the outer corner of your eye, then dab on some vaseline and smudge inwards-perfect addition to any smokey eye, or as a standalone look a la Balmain.

smudged liner, eyeliner, balmain, summer trends 2017


What are some makeup and beauty trends you predict will be big this summer? Are you like me and a bit reluctant to step away from the contour stick? Let me know in the comments OR on Twitter.

Happy Summer 😘



Disclaimer: This post contains collaborative content or PR samples. All thoughts and opinions are true and personal. 
                                                    

My Perfect Glasses Experience

I have such a weird relationship with glasses. On the one hand I need them for reading and looking at computer screens, but on the other I see adequately well without them. Granted wearing them does reduce my book/screen related headaches BUT every pair I've ever had has given me headaches by pinching the side of my head (it's a fibro thing, I'm extra sensitive)- so you can see why I'd begrudge wearing them full time. And if I'm not going to wear them full time why on earth would I want to spend a small fortune on a pair? So, because I am my own worst enemy I didn't wear them, the headaches came and I persevered...in my defence painkillers are a lot cheaper than glasses!
However I must now admit that I am a changed woman, and it's all thanks to the folks at Perfect Glasses.

At first I will admit I was pretty sceptical about buying glasses online, and with the prices being so low I was convinced I was going to receive a pair of shoddily put together glasses that looked nothing like the picture.


Walden Electra from Perfect Glasses
 Well colour me pleasantly surprised because not only are the glasses sturdy, they are also comfortable, I can see perfectly through them (I ordered standard reading glasses but prescription sunglasses and sunglasses are readily available) and they look almost exactly like the image on the website! Because I am a terrible cliche I ordered a white marble pair, with a gold nose bar and when they arrived they were slightly on the grey marble side but honestly they are so pretty and I can read Harry Potter for the 9000th time, so I don't really care haha. 



The best thing about shopping with Perfect Glasses has to be the prices. With some pairs starting at just £9, and designer glasses like these Fendi bad boys going for just £173 (including prescriptions and coatings), even the cheapest shopper can find something to suit. My beautiful pair are called Walden Electra and came to a grand total of £29 and that's not too bloody shabby. They came in a protective case too so there's no penny pinching going on as far as I can see.

Fendi fabulousness



All in all I could not be happier with my first foray into online glasses shopping and have been telling everyone who asks just how great my experience has been. So if you're looking for new glasses, that don't cost the earth, from a company that could not be easier to work with, head over to Perfect Glasses. I'll be heading back as soon as I've recovered from the post Florida money chasm lol.

Disclaimer: This post contains sponsored content or PR samples. All thoughts and opinions are true and personal. 

Vote Vote Vote!

Today we stand on the precipice of yet another chance to vote. Yet another chance to make our voices heard. Yet another opportunity for us to be disappointed, or elated.

I'll be honest with you- I'm a bit tired. I'm tired of all the arguing, I'm tired of the biggest voices not being used, or being used in the wrong way. I'm tired of the lies, The Daily Mail, The Sun, and if I'm being completely honest, I'm tired of being on the losing team!! 
I was so excited to vote in the Independence Referendum- then my heart broke when I realised we'd lost. 
I was so excited to vote in the EU Referendum- then my heart broke when I realised we'd lost.
I was also really excited to vote in the recent local council elections- not just because my friend was a candidate, but because our city needed a change. But then my heart broke all over again when I realised that we'd lost AGAIN!
I keep voting, and I keep having my heart broken BUT the most important part of that sentence is that I KEEP VOTING! In spite of every loss I keep traipsing along to that wee church (which is so much further away from my flat that it looks on the map 😂) and I keep placing my vote. 

Voting is the KEY to a better future-use it! (or this was last minute I had no relevant photos haha)

The right to vote is so important! The chance to have your say, the chance to make a difference- it's all right there in front of you and all you have to do is make an X in a box. That's literally all you have to do. It was less than 100 years ago that women were chaining themselves to railings, and throwing themselves in front of horses, so they could have a chance to vote. Less than 100 years later and somehow we take that right for granted! 

I've heard all the excuses of course:
  •  "I don't understand politics so I don't get involved."
  • "One person's vote isn't going to make a difference."
  • "It's not going to affect me anyway so why should I bother?"
The fact of the matter is , if you don't understand politics, enough to make a decision, it's time to educate yourself! I'm not asking you to go out and get a degree in politics, I'm not asking you to do anything that's particularly taxing at all. I'm saying talk to people, listen to the ones that DO understand politics, read manifestos, ask questions- get educated! 
"One person" is never just one person! There are probably 1000s of people thinking exactly the same thing, and let me tell you 1000 votes could be all the difference. Never think that you can't make a difference because you are just one person-bees are freaking tiny but without them we'd all be fucked! 
Now as for the last one...I want to say if you fall into this category then kindly take your "I'm alright Jack!" attitude and bibbidy bobbity back the fuck up off my page please take a second to think about how selfish that sounds- here I'll help:
"I'm alright none of this affects me so I don't mind if school children have to go without food at lunchtime."
"I'm alright so it doesn't matter to me that disabled people are having to crowdfund the very things they need to make their lives just bearable."
"I'm alright so why should I care about the fact that that lovely nurse that kept granny company, in her final moments, has to use a food bank to feed herself and her family?"

I could go on and on, but I wont. Instead I'll remind you that the world can turn on a dime- what is your normal today could change in an instant.
Between the last election and this one I have gone from being a perfectly "alright" healthy 20-something, to someone who attends the hospital a minimum of 8 times a month, takes around 22 pills a day, and can't wash her own hair, hold a pen, or walk to the end of her street without a considerable amount of pain. 
I was "alright" then but hundreds of thousands of people weren't, so I voted for them. Is it unfair of me to ask for the same common courtesy?

I don't intend to use this post to tell you who to vote for-only you can make that decision-although I think it's quite obvious who's box I wont be crossing when I get to the polls. I just want to remind you that it is so important to exercise your rights, please please don't waste your chance.


20 Years of the Boy Who Lived

It is said that there are two certainties in life: Death, and Taxes- well I hate to disagree with whoever said it first , but they missed one thing off that list! You see, in my life there are actually three certainties: Death, taxes, and my love for Harry Potter. 
As you read this I am probably standing at the entrance to Diagon Alley (FYI I'm in Florida, I'm not deluded) with tears of joy streaming down my face. My Ravenclaw scarf is wrapped around my neck- despite the fact it's 34degrees here-and I'm grasping a mug of ice cold Butterbeer in my hand. And dear readers, I am pretty certain that I have never been happier. 

I know some of you are probably thinking that it's really strange that an *almost* 30 year old woman is still such a big fan of the Boy Who Lived, but you see, we grew up together! The first book- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone- was released almost 20 years ago, just 8 days before my 10th birthday, and you don't just turn your back on a 20 year relationship (unless it's toxic, always walk away from toxic)!

To celebrate the 20th anniversary I thought I would share my favourite Harry Potter related things with you:

Favourite Book: 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The fourth book was the first I queued up at midnight for. I bought it and then read it twice, in about a week (I didn't sleep much)! This for me is where the series really got good, it's just a shame the movie was such a let down. 

Favourite Movie: 
The Prisoner of Azkaban. It's the movie that stays truest to the books. It's also the movie where we get to see Hermione punch Malfoy- and that's enough for me :-). 

Favourite Moment from The Philosopher's Stone:
"The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban." The two biggest pranksters in the universe spent an entire winter whacking Voldermort in the face with snowballs...this gives me endless joy. 


Favourite Harry Potter add-on:
I'm going to cheat here and say pretty much everything that I've ever received in my Geek Gear World of Wizardry* subscription box. Every month I receive prints, exclusive merch, a t-shirt, and sometimes even wands. I'm fast running out of space but I've never let that stop me before. I'm also a huge fan of the books by Jody Revenson- each of which is like a Harry Potter compendium, from the Character Vault to Magical Places from the Films. 

My very own key to my very own vault at Gringotts :-O


I could go on and on for ages about all the things I love about the series, and the universe that was borne from it but I have a broomstick flying lesson at 12 (again, I'm not deluded I'm at Wizarding World Orlando)! 

So I'm going to leave you with the link to pre-order the 20th Anniversary edition of The Philosopher's Stone- I'm getting mine in Ravenclaw blue, of course (here), and this pretty cool infographic, created to celebrate the anniversary on June 26th, by the folks at Cartridge Save.  Oh and a few more photos of my collection! 






I'd love to know what your favourite Harry Potter things are, or if heaven forbid you're not a fan then I'd love to know what does make you happy? Will you be celebrating the Boy Who Lived's 20th Anniversary? Let me know in the comments. And if you're feeling up to it you can check out my previous Harry posts here and here

Disclaimer: This post is a collaboration 

When Love Turns to Hate

Confession: I am an inconsistent blogger. I always have been and that is my cross to bear (I'll never be a full time blogger with this schedule haha). This year, however, I decided to do better-and I really tried-I nailed January and early February, but then I flared. For about 6-7 weeks I had absolutely no energy. I couldn't hold a book up long enough to read it, I barely tweeted in case it started a conversation that I knew I couldn't hold, I abandoned Instagram (tbf they abandoned us first) because I had no pictures left in my bank and the thought of taking more made me physically sick, and if I'm honest I don't actually remember turning my laptop on during that time. I was a broken toy. 
You've heard of the Spoon Theory, right? Well for that month and a half I probably had about 3 spoons a day, and they were all used up getting to, being at, and getting home from work. There were actually a couple of days there where my energy surged and I immediately grabbed for my notebook-but between the pain and the fibro fog, everything I wrote read like garbage. So I stopped trying! 


Somewhere around the beginning of April I began to wonder if I actually missed blogging? Would I be perfectly happy if I never updated the blog again? I genuinely considered shutting it all down, but then I realised- I love writing on the internet, I love reading other blogs, and I love a fair few bloggers. What I don't love is the pressure, the sameness, and the almost constant drama that flits around our little "community". So I'm shaking it off! 
I will no longer pressure myself to be like other bloggers, I will not feel bad for taking a break, sometimes I'll have to that's life, and I will no longer write posts just because they are expected of me (as a lifestyle blogger). 


I want to write about my conditions, about sexual assault, about politics, and feminism, about the people who inspire me, about people I fancy *cough Kristen Stewart cough*, about the things that make me tick. I want to share my experiences, be they travel, days out, or medical procedures. I want this blog to be full of me-all of me, and my life. Right now I feel it could have been written by literally anybody. 
If I'm honest this is what I've always wanted but somehow I got distracted by being a blogger. I adapted my posts to fit in with what other bloggers were writing, I wanted to be just like them, I bought into the lifestyle and for a while I loved it-and don't get me wrong I do still love being a blogger. I love the cliches, I love the events, and the chats, and the people, but I've grown to hate my own blog. What should be my favourite place on the internet has become a place I resent- and I'm not okay with that, so I'm taking back control. 


Wish me luck, and while I'm finding my feet please do me a favour and check out all my favourite "bloggers who write with every part of themselves": Tara, Fiona, Sarah, Grace and Tamsin.


Date Night Jewellery- A Glimpse at my Personal Collection

We all have our favourite pieces of jewellery right? Be it the necklace we've had forever, or the ring that belonged to your great-granny, or even just that cool bracelet you picked up in that quirky wee store that one time. 
The problem with favourites is that I find myself saving them for special occasions-like weddings or important dates- which means they don't get the love the deserve. So this year, inspired by a lovely gift from The Lifestyle Blogger UK I have decided to dig out some of my favourite pieces for, a not quite as special as a wedding but still pretty special, date night. 

Damian very kindly surprised me with front row seat tickets to see Curtis Stigers on the 17th and I've honesty never been more excited for date night! So in honour of two of my favourite men I put together my perfect date night jewellery collection:



This beautiful bracelet* from The Lifestyle Blogger looks great in my collection. I was going to feature this in a Valentine's post (but I got ill so that didn't happen) because I think the little hearts just scream LOVE and ROMANCE. The fact this beauty is in Rose Gold makes it my new favourite bracelet. Sidebar I was a little worried that this bracelet would irritate my skin because I have no idea what materials are in it, but so far so good-no irritation or discolouration at all so that's a win.


This cross necklace has been one of my favourites for over a decade and it still looks as good today as the day I got it. It is the perfect size for me and for date night. I don't like wearing large crosses on special occasions because I also wear my memorial necklace for our little boy and I don't like to detract attention from that, and anything too small just disappears into cleavage crevice, never to be seen again. This bad boy sits perfectly and catches the light, If date night jewellery should do anything, it should sparkle!

Don't these two go so well together?? I only got this watch for Christmas but it's already one of my favourite pieces. Olivia Burton is a watch genius, her designs are all so pretty, and no matter the size they somehow maintain a delicateness which I love-also Rose Gold and light purple may be my favourite colour combo ever! And this ring, oh my God I adore this ring. The sad thing is I think I stole this off my big sister years and years ago, and all through writing this post I am praying she doesn't ask for it back *haha*. I love the design of the ring because it's kind of high-class art deco, and yet kind of natural mother of the earth bohemian all at the same time-and I mean that basically describes me so...yeah favourite ring (excluding my wedding ring of course-but I can't even get that bugger off my finger so I don't have to dig that out lol). 

So now I've figured out my jewellery for the night I just have to decide what to wear..thank God the gig isn't for another 12days!! 

Do you guys have a favourite piece in your collection? I'd love to hear about it in the comments OR even see it if you want to Tweet me :-). 


Disclaimer: this post contains PR samples which are clearly marked with an asterix *. The origin of a product for review does in no way affect my opinion. 

These Wingz were Made to Fly

So, recently I was contacted by the the lovely Sarah and asked if I would like to feature Wingz* on the blog, and i'll be honest, I jumped at the chance! I'd been interested in the product ever since Fiona tried them out, but with saving for Florida I kept not buying myself things that I really liked! 

Anyway I happily accepted the offer and got excited about trying this interesting new item, but then the apprehension kicked in, not about the product itself but more how I would write about them in a way that was authentic to me. You see exactly a year ago yesterday I wrote this post, a post about how finally at the age of 29 I had finally learned to love the body I'm in, but here I was accepting a product that was-in my mind-the perfect thing to hide one of my flaws. 
After a lot of thinking about it I realised I was beating myself up over nothing! Nobody can be completely in love with their body, all of the time, it is possible to love your body and dislike a part of it-we are human, we are not infallible, we are fickle and flighty, and multi-faceted...and that's just another thing to love about us. So there you have it, I love my body, but I hate my arms. 

Mostly I hate the skin on my arms, it's dry and flaky, and a little scaly. Some parts are red and inflamed, others are dark and discoloured...basically it's just a damn mess, and I like to cover it up (for my own sake mind, I don't really care how other people react to my skin- I just care how my skin reacts to air, and how I react to it) and Wingz are perfect for doing just that. 

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