Thursday, 20 July 2017

Disney Pre-Holiday Wishlist

Some of you may know that for Katy’s birthday present, the two of us are heading off to Disneyland Paris in September. Having never been since I was a baby, and Katy never having been since she was around 6 or 7, it’s safe to say that we’re absolutely uncontrollably excited about the whole thing. The one thing that Katy really wants to do, and I’m more than happy to comply with, is dress in her to toe Disney for the day that we’re in the park, and so I’ve been keeping my eye out for bits and pieces that I really want to buy prior to us going. Without further ado, here’s my pre-holiday haul wishlist.

1: Peter Pan Dress - £12.99
Looking back on this dress to get the link I can see that they only have an extra small left which has broken my heart slightly, but it’s still definitely worth an honourable mention. This is so pretty and, for a dress that essentially has a film scene on it, it’s still pretty understated. Disneyland Paris in December is going to be pretty cold, I’d imagine, and so I would have to pair this with a thick but really pastel coloured cardigan, but this would look so cute, no doubt about it.

2: Jack Skellington Lounge Pants - £14.99
Okay I can’t wear these into the park, but Katy got some sick Disney pyjamas for her birthday and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to have some matching one. Unfortunately these aren’t a matching set, but they’re so cute (and actually pretty affordable!) that I’ll definitely look past it anyway. These are absolutely beautiful, and you know they’re going to be good quality when they come from Disney themselves. It’s true that the Disney Store don’t do a lot in the way of adult clothing, but what little they do do is so gorgeous that it’s worth paying that extra money for.

3: Snow White Large Poison Apple Locket Necklace - £85 
I’m slightly obsessed with the poison apple from Snow White and I really don’t know where it came from, because I’m not a big fan of the story at all. Still though, I’ve had brilliant jewellery from Disney Couture in the past, and it was really lovely to see this on the site as something a little different from the dainty silver or gold jewellery that they normally stick with. This is something unique, something big and expensive, but something that I’ve definitely fallen in love with since the moment that I laid eyes on it.

4: Disney Crew Socks - £9.99
These are so expensive, but I really, really like them and I knew Katy would the minute that she saw them (I was right, she just pointed them out as I was putting this post together). I know that these are pointless because unless I’m wearing a skirt or dress you won’t be able to see them, I know that these are expensive for socks that traditionally aren’t really even that comfortable to wear, but does that make me love them any less? No, no it does not. These are so cool, and keep an eye on my twitter because I’ll almost definitely buy them before we go and post them on there.

5: Disney Mrs Potts and Chip Crossbody Bag - £59.99
This is ridiculous, and actually almost ugly the more that I look at it, but I just don’t care - I love it so much. It wouldn’t go with any outfit I can imagine putting together for Disneyland Paris, people would think it was gaudy and my mum would shout at me for spending so much money on something so in your face and ugly, but I still really do love it.

I’m absolutely made up with finding these bits and pieces and I’m hoping I can craft them together into some kind of beautiful ensemble, though I’m not sure how well that will really go. Please do let me know any Disney bits and pieces that you’ve seen so I can add them to my list!

Sammy xo

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Finding 'The One' - How To Pick An Airbnb

It’s like a running joke that Katy and I always pick amazing Airbnb’s when we go abroad, and it’s not untrue - but this isn’t just a magic inkling that I have when it comes to randomly clicking on pages of holiday homes, but rather I have this down to a knack. Finding the perfect Airbnb isn’t luck or guess work, but rather it’s a set of ideas, knowing where to look for information and being willing to compromise, though admittedly that is the one that I personally struggle with most. I’m always on holiday so I will chuck my Airbnb code in the bottom of this post, purely because if you sign up through it and book a house we both get money off - it’s not a sponsored thing, but rather a ‘please help me fund my travelling’ thing. Feel free not to click it though, except where noted at the bottom, all other Airbnb links are just direct links to the site.

I like to start with an idea of what’s most important to me and Katy for the trip. Is there somewhere we particularly want to go to? Somewhere we want to avoid? Do we want to be able to walk into town? Do we want to be close to the airport if we’re getting in late at night? I consider all of these things and then adjust my expectations accordingly. If I want to be in the city centre, near a huge tourist attraction, able to walk just about everywhere - I’m going to pay more than if I stay in a tiny, homely neighbourhood near the airport where I have to get trains or taxis in every day. Once I have both of these ideas formed, if I can’t decide which seems most optimum, I consider the expense of the city centre apartment compared to the cost of travelling each day, and tend to opt for the cheaper option.

Don’t be fooled by people with creative writing degrees writing all about their house - you can fall in love with flats with mould and shit views based on description alone, so ignore that save the list of amenities and head down to the comments. If a host is lying about how close they are to the city, whether they provide coffee on your stay and whether you can walk to your nearest McDonalds, there’s absolutely no doubt that the comments will out them. This isn’t a bad thing, as it goes the other way too - one apartment seem too far out? Check to see how people got around, because maps on Airbnb can be really deceiving, and even if they’re not, people are usually more than quick to let you know if the stay was worth the effort of travelling, and they also typically tell you how they did get around, which gives you a better idea for your own trip. 

One thing I’ve started doing lately is also considering the weather. Whilst a ten minute walk to a metro station then five stops on the train would be absolutely fine in Germany in October, in Portugal in June it meant I sweat my make-up off every single day before we even made it into town. If the weather if going to be unbearably hot, or very very cold (and Katy and I have definitely done both extremes), make sure you tailor your choice to be either very close to the city centre, or almost immediately close when it comes to the public transport that you’re going to need to take. Anything in between height of Summer and height of Winter holidays definitely does allow for more flexibility, so just bear that in mind if you hit the height of humidity, or the first snow fall.

Finally - don’t opt for an Airbnb based on the price it shows you on the search page, because these can hugely vary. Some houses are very cheap for just one night or so a year, and this shows on the search page, or some greatly increase the price if you change your group size from 1 to 2 people. I find it best to put my needs in, but then before falling in love with a place, click on the house itself and check the rundown on the price to check you aren’t paying extortionate prices for cleaning fees, single night fees or any manner of other extra. This can definitely save you a serious amount of money, so don’t get lazy and book without checking (I’ve done it in the past, and you’ll kick yourself when you realise how many beers £40 can buy you in some parts of Europe).

Essentially, Airbnb is a godsend, but it’s also a learned art, and I’ve just passed my tips on to you so hopefully you can make the most of your trip using Airbnb. Like I said, not sponsored (though if you have any collaborations, hit your girl up) - but if you want to use my link to sign up and save us both some money, you can do so here.

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Toni and Guy Glamour Serum Drops

I know I regularly talk about my long princess hair, and in fact so many of you comment on it whenever I post a picture of myself; but the truth is, it’s in pretty shit condition. I’ve never had hair in bad condition before, but last year the ends were bleached, and as this has grown out, my hair has gotten incredibly long and I haven’t gotten around to having it cut - the end of my hair particular look absolutely awful. I could have this cut off, admittedly, but I just never seem to get around to doing so, and so good haircare (like, good enough to make it look as if I’ve had a hair cut in the last year) is a saviour for me; and that’s where Toni and Guy Glamour Serum Drops come in.

This tiny glass bottle (seriously though, it has some gorgeous packaging) packs a serious punch, claiming ‘high shine and polish’ but honestly delivering that and so much more. I have oily skin and even oilier hair, so I have to be really careful about what I put on my hair or I can be dry shampooing from three minutes after putting the hairdryer down - but a bit of trial and error means that I have this one down, and I can use it to get sleeker, shinier and healthier hair without too many issues in terms of oily hair - which is something to celebrate when this stuff will only set you back £8.25, which really isn’t that bad.

This is a really ‘thin’ oil as they go, and rather than feeling oily and greasy on your hands, it definitely leans more towards feeling glossy, if any of that makes sense to you, sitting at home on your laptop, or on the tube on your phone not physically feeling this in the way that I am. Though not a dry oil, it feels much closer to this than to the alternative, and if you overload your hands with this, it’s definitely one that you can simply wipe off with a dry cloth, rather than having to use alcohol gel or water to stop everything slipping out of your hands for the next three days like you’ve opted to live in the world of Tom and Jerry.

This has a really distinctive, and very typically Toni and Guy, scent - it’s not unpleasant at all, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin describing it. It’s quite a heady, strong aroma and if you’re sensitive to scent, you’re definitely going to want to use less of this on your ends than I do because it can knock you a little bit sick throughout the few days between washes. I find it best to leave my hair damp, absolutely douse the very ends in this oil and then dry it. Though if you leave this to dry naturally it will still work, it definitely looks much sleeker if you dry it yourself, as you might expect from the general condition of your hair when you compare the two.

It goes without saying that this stuff is a good choice for an emergency fix, and so it’ll likely still work wonders on normal hair that just needs a little shine boost. Definitely avoid your roots when dousing this on your hair, but stick to just your lengths and your hair could have a whole new lease of life for less than a tenner (which is considerably cheaper than a cut, blow and colour). If you’ve got any miracle hair tips, please do leave them below.

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies - however all opinions are my own. Please view my disclaimer for more information.

Monday, 17 July 2017

What If...

Growing up you always feel like the queen (or king, or non-binary ruler) of everything, don’t you? I know that I did - but a huge part of that helped that I was the best at a lot of things; I could write the fasted (and the neatest, my year 4 teacher used to give me balloon animals to prove it), I was good at maths, I even played every game in rugby (admittedly, there were only 2 girls on the team and it was compulsory to play two girls on each team, but I just don’t feel as though that was really the point). When I started high school, I was placed in the top 3% of my year group and labelled gifted and talented in English, Maths and Science - I was the top, and I guess that I thought it’d always be like that.

Since I was around 16 though, I’ve coasted. I get bored easily, have grand ideas, get restless, lazy and annoyed that my dreams don’t usually match up to the reality that I’m living. I’ve worked mediocre, low paid jobs, I’ve used all of my money to travel and I’ve gotten myself into debt that I’ve only just started to get myself out of - and every step of the way, I’ve felt like it would all just fall into place one day, that somehow fate would intervene and I would become the person that I was meant to be (which usually tended to be rich, with all white Ikea furniture). 

But now I’m starting to think, what if I just… don’t?

What if I don’t just have it all fall into place, what is coasting is going to come back and bite me on the arse and I’ll never do better than I am now? What if I end up taking a university course that doesn’t help me at all, what if I never pay my debts off and as amazing as the holidays have been, they all start to add up to not being able to afford a house or a family when it comes to me wanting them. I worry all the time about the what if’s, and it’s so overwhelming, and suffocating, and difficult to cope with. I try not to put too much pressure on myself, but I’m nearly closer to being 30 than being 20, and there’s something really scary about that, something that makes me feel like my life is somehow unfulfilled and I should be working harder, being someone, doing something.

I know everyone hits their pace in life at a different time, and I even logically know that if I don’t hit it at all, that’s still fine - but since being in recovery, and getting clean, I definitely feel as though I’ve wanted more from myself, wanted to push myself more, wanted to make sure that getting healthy and being able to do great things wasn’t in vain - now I can, I feel like I definitely should, or what’s the point? I’ve talked before about great being the enemy of good, and it’s definitely reared it’s ugly head again in the last few months. Don’t get me wrong - I’m happy with my life now, engaged to Katy and travelling to all different places, but I just feel as though what I've done isn't enough, or perhaps that I’m not.

I’m working on trying to get rid of those ‘what ifs’, but if anyone has any tips, they’d be gratefully received. Similarly, knowing that other people feel the same is comforting, so please let me know if I’m not the only one.

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Things You Need To Do In Nuremberg

You might not know if you don't follow me on Twitter (shameless plug right there) as I've been away from my blog for an age anyway, but this week Katy and I have gotten back from Nuremberg in Germany. New countries always seem incredibly exciting to me, and so I was ready to drink in absolutely every sight, building and tourist attraction anyway but Nuremberg was really something special; like modern life suspended in some sort of odd fairytale bubble. It felt like we saw just about the entire city on foot, trams and in taxis and so, before I forget, I thought I'd share my top things to do in Nuremberg.

1: Go To The Toy Museum
This was something that was very different than I had anticipated, but definitely worth a trip. There are toys right from the 1700's onwards, with cute little windy stairs, games to play on the way round and even an entire room to leave your kids in if they want to actually play with the toys, instead of trailing behind you just looking at them behind glass screens. If you're in a rush and want to make the most of your €5 entry price, definitely head straight to the dollhouse floor and marvel at tiny kitchen tiles, washing machines and all sorts of beautiful houses and cross sections. This isn't going to take up a whole day by any means, but it's definitely a lovely little building down a beautiful side street with a nice little outside cafe if you manage to go when it's not torrentially raining (we did not manage to do that).

2: Hike (I'm Being Dramatic) Up To The World's Ugliest Piece Of Public Art
Okay, it's only actually one of them, but this is a huge dead rabbit with wires in it's eyes (maybe it lights up? The nights were too long for us to hang around to find out, I'm afraid) sharing it's crate with mice. Or other rabbits. We aren't too sure. I won't ruin this by putting a picture in (you can certainly google it from that fantastic explanation) but this is easily gotten to either on foot or by tram, just be aware it's at the top of the hill if you're going when it's hot, or raining, or both. This is bizarrely ugly and placed right in the centre of the most beautiful little courtyard that I've ever seen, but it's definitely worth a trip if you've got decent weather or a tram pass.

3: Dream About Houses Between The River
You can nip into some really cute restaurants here if you're bored of jut imagining your life in one of these houses that are nestles between the two forks of the river, but honestly take the time out to marvel at bright coloured flowers on the sills of tiny little windows, and sit on the bridge and wile the time away, or even grab a Starbucks from one of the coffee shops in the world with the best view. The rivers are both beautiful, and there's plenty to do around them to make a trip down there worth it, plus on the opposite side of the river to all the shops, you'll find a beautiful little red and white striped market with everything from fresh fruit to street food.

4: Spin The Ring And Have Your Wish Granted
That market that I mentioned literally about twelve words ago? Well just behind there is a tower of pure gold. Though it might look like just a statue, though a very, very expensive one, there's a lot more to this beauty. Head over and find the gold ring amongst the black fencing that surrounds the statue and follow the kids clambering up there to get their hands on it. Rumour is that three spins of this unassuming gold ring will grant your wishes, so secure your place in the queue and make sure you get in there. Whether you wish for a happy, long life or just a trip back to Nuremberg in the future, only time will tell if the folklore is true.

If you've been to Nuremberg I'd love you know what you would recommend, as I plan to go back as soon as humanly possible. If you go to Nuremberg and try any of these, let me know your thoughts!

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Livia - An Off Switch For Period Cramps?

As someone with terrible period cramps, anything new on the market that could possibly help me get through the worst week of my month is considered a small miracle to me. I am, however, also on a constant budget and so Livia was something that escaped my grasp for a fair while given the price of it; but, when they offered to send me one to see if it worked for me, there was absolutely no chance I could resist this little box of magic (electricity) and so I gratefully accepted. You may be forgiven for thinking this is sponsored the amount I've spoken about Livia on Twitter and Instagram, but it's truly not; I'm just so fascinated by this little pink button.

Livia are describing their device as an 'off switch for menstrual cramps', which is putting themselves on a pretty big pedestal, especially for ladies like me that rely on some serious pain relief and the fact I don't have to get out of bed to work to get around the most horrendous cramps each month - so hoping for the best, but preparing for this to not work at all, I've been putting this to the test. First things first though we absolutely have to talk about the price, because this thing comes in at $149.00 (or, currently, $127.00 as it's on sale). I know that if you have cramps as bad as mine, this might seem like it's a small price to pay in order to be able to function normally during your worst cramps, but I also know that if you're as skint as me, price can be a real issue, so I thought it was worth mentioning straight up.

This is, essentially, a tens machine in a miniature format, with the 'flower' pads being the points of contact with your body, connecting back to the pink 'box' that is the machine itself, which you use to switch it on/off or up/down. This can get seriously powerful, so I recommend putting it on and then switching it up until the top point that you can't feel it any more. This for me is the time that it works the best, whilst being the most comfortable; though it's worth noting that sometimes if you bend over or move too quickly, there is a short, sharp, static-shock type of pain. Mostly though, this is really comfortable, and the tiny clip at the back of the box piece lets you clip it onto clothes, to ensure everything stays strong and in place.

So, does this thing really work? Well, to make it fair, I did one day full painkillers like I typically would, and one day with no painkillers at all, just my Livia, allowing me to best compare them. Painkillers aren't my best friend, but I'd say with these this period they barely took any edge off at all, walking helped to ease it but I definitely still had a fair amount of pain in my back and the tops of my legs, woe is me. With Livia, that pain really did still throb in my legs, but there was very little pain in my back or my stomach, which was a real godsend; don't get me wrong, you can definitely feel at least a little pain, but this definitely cuts those rough edges of awful pain away.

Is this worth the price tag? I'd say yes - but probably not on it's own. You're going to need some painkillers around on top of this, but if you combine the both, it definitely makes for a much more manageable period overall, in my humble opinion. Nice addition, you can also buy some extra skins to customise this to outfits etc. where it can't be hidden; and it's also chargeable, so the one thing you don't need to spend out on is batteries.

If you've tried a Livia, I'd love to know your thoughts on it!

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies - however all opinions are my own. Please view my disclaimer for more information.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Missha 3-Step Purifying Mask

Until the past two years, I had always been really lucky with my skin. It was the best kind of combination where it bordered right on normal, I barely got spots unless I forgot to take all of my make-up off or had a period and I barely got dry or oily. Now though? Well, let's just say that my early twenties haven't been kind to me, and I now get incredibly oily across my t-zone, incredibly dry across the perimeter of my face, and spots bless my life every single day give or take. I'm still lucky, don't get me wrong, but I hate my skin at the moment, and so I've been trying just about everything that I can in order to get it back on track. In the last few weeks, what I've tried has been the Missha 3-Step Purifying Mask, which is a three step system to help target problematic skin.

This thing was hella cheap and came in a huge pile of sheet masks that I'd bought from StyleKorean, with this particular mask only setting me back $3.36. This one stood out to me from the rest purely because it is a three step process, and so it was a little bit more exciting than the rest of the sheet masks which is, to be honest, probably why it made the cut; I'm a sucker for gimmicks, you all know this by now. The first step was a peeling gel, which is essentially like the chemical exfoliators that supposedly pull the dry skin off as you rub your fingers into your skin; which does show a lot of flaking over the sink, but whether this truthfully is skin remains to be seem. I have to admit though, it does make me feel like my skin is softer, whether or not it really is working how they claim it is or if it's just a placebo, so I wasn't too bothered about the whole thing.

Step 2 is just a thin essence; which supposedly increased the absorption of the serum that's infused into the sheet mask, and I can't really comment much on this because it just feels like water on the skin and I wouldn't really be able to tell how the mask was without the essence. Irregardless, this didn't break my skin out and so I'll count this one as a win - it certainly did make my skin feel soft and really shiny, but it did only last for about two minutes before I put the sheet mask on, which makes it pretty much moot when you consider it that way.

Step three, the final step, was of course the sheet mask - and this was absolutely doused in serum. Though the mask was absolutely fine to wear for ten minutes, I did find myself wishing it had those ear pieces to keep it in place - it wasn't at risk of falling off at any point I don't think, but I was constantly worrying about it and fussing which made the whole thing less enjoyable, but that's definitely just a personal thing. I wore it for ten minutes, took it off, rubbed the serum in and that was that. So did it work? Well it did dry out the spots, but it definitely didn't make me feel like it was getting rid of them in the way that mud masks do - it felt as though it dragged all of the moisture out of my skin, and I didn't see enough of a result to make it worth it. For $3.36 though, it was definitely worth a bash.

If you've ever tried any masks for problem skin, please do point me in the correct direction because I need all of the help that I can get right now!

Sammy xo.