Welcome to my new kitchen

It's official. We finally have one room completely finished in the house. The kitchen was the most important thing to me in the house. I love to cook and wanted a space I could really lose myself in and one that became the hub of the house. You can often find me on a Sunday with flour in my hair and every utensil filthy as I spend the day working through my never ending supply of cookbooks. Thanks to my dad who did a spectacular job fitting it, a family friend who look time out to do our work tops and thanks to Connor who planned every last detail, I got the kitchen I always dreamed of. Scroll down to the bottom to see where everything is from. So what did it look like before?

The layout was the first thing that struck me. It's pretty small but it didn't seem like they were making the most of the space. I also didn't like the fact you had to go through the living in order to get into the kitchen. It was pretty bland and painted this awful yellow colour which gave me a headache. It looked like hadn't been updated quite a few years, the flimsy cupboards had seen better days and the cooker was disgusting. That was the first thing we threw out.

I've always wanted a red and grey kitchen. It's one of my favourite colour combinations. I'd been collected small red appliances for a few years and we decided to go for the full statement of investing in a matching fridge and dishwasher. Best decision ever! Once we had our colour scheme confirmed, we drew up some plans to decide the layout. Like I mentioned earlier, the space wasn't utilised very well so we decided to block up the existing door and reopen the door in the dining room (the kitchen is originally an extension.) After it was plastered and our spotlights were fitted, it was time to tile the floor.

I wanted a white tiled floor to help brighten it up as I was afraid to many dark colours could make it seem smaller than it was. We opted for grey grout as we didn't want to spend all our time scrubbing the floor. I'm a very messy cook so it really would be very time consuming. For the wall tiles, I wanted a lighter grey and fell in love with these flecked hexagon tiles from Topps Tiles*. After seeing a honeycomb pattern on Pinterest, I immediately knew I wanted to recreate this at home. We used white grout to help make the grey stand out. They create a great contrast with the charcoal grey units and I couldn't be happier with the end result.

Despite knowing they would be a nightmare too keep looking spick and span, I had my heart set on light oak worktops. We bought our from DIY Kitchens and oiled them three times before we used them. I feel they create a 'country' style kitchen but yet still help it feel modern. We live in a 1950's house and I didn't want to go too traditional. The Belfast sink has been my dream and is a great talking point. Every one always comments on it when they walk through the door. I was adamant I didn't want traditional kitchen door handles so spent a good few weeks scouring the internet. The octagonal handles caught my eye and I love them so much. I feel they really help jazz the kitchen up.

Thanks to the size, we are pretty limited on cupboard space. I have a lot of crockery and a lot of cookbooks. This is where shelves came in handy! I've always loved the idea of having crockery on display as I feel it helps to make a kitchen feel homely. I've got my favourite cookbooks on the top shelf and will rotate them. After all I do have 156 books to thumb through! We ordered some brackets from Ebay and my dad made us some shelves from an old scaffolding board - which will match our dining room table eventually.

I love an accessory but didn't want to make the worktops seem to cluttered. Believe it or not, this is me being a minimalist! I love anything Orla Kiely as you can tell by my cake tins and utensil pot*. I've tried to pick patterns with a hint of red or grey in them to help them tie into the kitchen.

Finally, I once again always knew I wanted to have a range cooker but we wasn't sure if it would look a bit too large for the space. In the end I managed to get my way and we went for black. I felt that stainless steel just looked to industrial and black was going to age a lot better than any other colour. I didn't anticipate how much of an effort it is to keep black cookers looking spotless!

Let me know if you have any questions - would be more than glad to answer it. Renovating a house is tough business!

Grey kitchen units:  DIY Kitchens
Belfast sink: DIY Kitchens
Solid oak work tops: DIY Kitchens
Silver octagonal door handles: Bombay Duck
Solid oak draining board: Amazon
Utensil pot: Orla Kiely via Hurn and Hurn*
Copper jars: H&M and Homesense
DIY shelves: Brackets from eBay/ shelf made from scaffolding boards
Silver taps: Victoria Plumbing
Grey hexagon wall tiles: Topps Tiles*
Grey wall radiator: Soak
Red fridge: Swan
Red dishwasher: Swan
Red microwave: Swan
Black range cooker: Leisure
Red kettle: Kitchenaid
Red stand mixer: Kitchenaid
Red blender: Kitchenaid

The pressure to do it all - it's ok to say no

Hot pink coat: ASOS (similar)
Black ruffle shirt: Zara (similar)
Distressed blue denim skinny jeans: George at ASDA (similar)
Gold pointed midi heels: ASOS (similar)

As much as times have changed over the years, there's still the age-old expectation of being a women and what it entails. It's something that I've been thinking a lot about since I've entered the last year of my twenties. Social pressures increase and people start implying and making comments about issues that I really have no interest in talking about with them. Everyone and their uncle Jack seems to have an opinion about everything you should be doing. The pressure almost becomes unbearable.

As a woman I do feel there is the pressure to absolutely boss it at work, give our all to both family and friend relationships, keep our homes ticking over as well as be independent and do the things that matter to us. We're expected to literally be superwoman and there's something wrong with us if we don't fulfil it. But there are only 24 hours in a day. And sometimes, this really just isn't possible. I feel like the pressure society puts us under makes me do a half-arsed job. I feel like I'm not actually giving anything my full attention and as a result I find myself running around like a headless chicken.  Then I feel like even more of a failure because nothing is being done to the best of a ability. It's so hard to hold your hands up and admit that you really can't do everything.

It's ok to re-evaluate, take a step back and say no. It doesn't make you lazy, it doesn't make you unappreciative and it doesn't make you a failure.  Think about what is important to you and not about what is important for society. If you don't want to do the washing up for a week and would prefer to go out to the pub with friends, then that's your decision. Who cares if your house is a little messy when you're living your best life enjoying the two for one bottles of prosecco on a Monday night?  It's ok to prioritise one thing above the other. It's also ok to ask for help if you need it. We all need a little helping hand at one point or another. It's what makes us human.


How to do a gallery wall in your living room

Corner sofa: DFS*, Grey floor lamp: IKEA, Custard Cream cushion: Nikki McWilliams, Wire lampshade: IKEA, Mustard throw: H&M, Grey, navy and mustard cushion: Sainsbury's, Gin cushion:  Matalan

We first came up with the idea in Copenhagen two years to start collecting prints from every city we visit with the view to create a gallery wall when we moved out. We haven't managed to pick up a print in every city but we've got a great collection so far. I love having a mementos from trips we've been on as I'm a sucker for picking up a souvenir. They catch my eye and I'm immediately taken back to that walk along the river in Derry or the music festival we went to in Budapest. Here are my tips on how to create a gallery wall in your living room.

1. Choose a theme
We went for travel as it is something we're both so passionate about. If I'm honest, I never stop thinking about where to go on holiday! By choosing a theme I feel it helps to inject some of your personality into your house. Everyone always comments in the gallery wall when they visit and it's an immediate conversation starter. My friend Hannah has a music wall filled with posters from her favourite bands and gigs. It looks great and really does sum up her personality.

2. Pick different sizes
We've gone for a variety of sizes in prints in different colour frames. It helps to make it so much more interesting and much more of a statement. You want your gallery wall to make an impact as soon as you enter the room. Our frames come from both IKEA and Wilko. As we have white walls, we opted for a trio of colours to help make the prints stand out.

3. Lay them out on the floor
Before you take the plunge, make sure you lay them all out on the floor. Take pictures of different combinations so you can really study them before making up your mind. It's a big commitment to put a hole in the wall so make sure you 100% know what you want.

4. Leave room to add
If you choose a big space, arrange the prints so that it looks finished but also has room to add some more. I feel like a gallery wall is an ongoing project that can be added to as and when you fancy. We arranged our prints in the middle so we have enough room at the sides and below to add some more. We going to keep an eye out for some postcards on our next trips to try and fill some of the smaller spaces.


Not being a Girl boss doesn't make you a failure

Beige oversize mac: ASOS (similar)
Skinny jeans: George at ASDA (similar)
Red gazelles: Adidas (similar)
Red checked scarf: Accessorize (similar)
Burgandy rucksack: Fjallraven kanken via ASOS

Girl boss is one of those buzz words at the minute. Women all over my social media timeline and in real life seem to be absolutely bossing at life. They're setting up businesses, choosing to work for themselves and climbing to the top of the career ladder. Without seeming to take a breath, they're at the top of their game and doing it with ease. I love seeing women do well, it gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

But I'm not a girl boss. Most days I feel like I can barely keep my head above water and I'm drowning thanks to poor time management skills. I don't really have any side hustles unless you count making an extra £30 a month on eBay selling my old clothes. After working 9-5 every week I just don't have the capacity in my brain to think about anything else. I can barely sometimes find enough energy to write on this blog even though once I settle down, it's one of my favourite things to do. I'm not an over-achiever, in fact it could be said that I'm probably a little bit of an underachiever because all I long for is a quiet life. Working to the point of exhaustion tends to be a badge of honour. I don't get enough gratification from working that I feel the need to own this badge.

But most of all, I don't want to to be a girl boss. Work really isn't the be all and end for me. I don't think I really want to climb to the very top of my career ladder. It may be lack of ambition but all I ever wanted was to have a job that I enjoy going into work every day in the career that I always dreamed off. That's always been enough for me. I've never been motivated by money and never wanted the insane responsibility that came with a large wage packet. I work hard, I try to do everything I can to the best of my ability so I know I gave it my all but I don't want work to define me.

It's ok to not want to do it all. It doesn't mean you're a failure.


The skincare products I always repurchase

Thanks to my job I get to raid beauty sales pretty often which is heaven for this product junkie. I'm often trialling lots of products because I can't stop myself for picking them up for a couple of quid. So I know when I actually buy something full price after it has run out that I'm on to a skincare winner. These are the products I have bought time and time again with my hard earned cash.

Philosophy Purity 3 in 1 cleanser
I swear by this and have been buying it for years. It's gentle on my skin, removes every inch of make up and a little goes a long way, meaning the bottle seems to last forever. Good news for my bank balance. Thanks to working in the city, my skin needs all the help it can to stop it from drying out. That commuter life! I use it every morning and it really does keep my skin feeling soft. That's all I want from a cleanser!

Garnier Skinactive Micellar Cleansing Water
I switched over to this a couple of years ago when I was having a bit of a poor month and couldn't afford my usual Bioderma Micellar water. I've never looked back. It great for my sensitive skin and I can use it whilst I have contact lenses in too. I only need to gentle sweep it across my face to remove make up - even stubborn mascara. My skin always feels so fresh and clean.

Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask
This is my holy grail. I suffer from blackheads which I blame on commuting into London. But this beauty really helps to keep them at bay. I try to use it about twice a week and find a medium thick layer really works its magic. Let it dry completely for it to have maximum impact, I know how easy it is to get bored and wash it off when not quite all of it has hardened. I notice the effect almost immediately the next day.

No7 Early Defence Day Cream
I always think No 7 is an unsung hero. The range is always so gentle on my skin and I feel like it really works. I've been using this moisturiser for a good couple of years and despite trying other ones, I keep coming back to it.  When I don't use it for a few days I really notice tightness in my face. Which proves to me it does what it says on the tin!

Pixi Glow Tonic
Admittedly this is a very new addition to my skincare collection. I finally took the plunge after giving in to all the hype. I'm wishing I did it sooner! I'll definitely be buying this time and time again. Glycolic acid is said to be great for combating blackheads, which is something I mentioned above I suffer with, and with scarring.


Four tips on how to style your kitchen shelves

Since I've moved out I've discovered I REALLY like rearranging shelves. I love giving all my useless but pretty trinkets a place and seeing it all come together. A couple of weeks ago my dad very kindly made me some shelves out of scaffold boards with the handmade brackets from eBay for my kitchen. It's probably my favourite corner of the house. Here are some tips on how to style kitchen shelves, in my very humble opinion of course!

Use colour
Originally I wanted to have all my glasses on the shelves but it didn't look right. It was too monotone against the white wall. It really needed some colour to help make it pop. I found that cookbooks are a great option for this as they're naturally colourful. Try not to put too many block colours together and break up any white products.

Store things you need
We've popped our coffee cups and our jar full of coffee pods on the shelf. It makes a lot of sense as the coffee machine is underneath it so we won't have to keep walking to opposite end of the kitchen to use it. You want it too look pretty yet practical. Otherwise what's the point? I did want to put all my grains and pulses on it but it makes much more sense to display these bits and bobs near the cooker.

Put the least used things on top
There's nothing worse if you're a lazy girl like me then having to keep stretching up to the top shelf for the things you use the most. So you'll want to put infrequently used bits on the very top. I decided to put my favourite cookbooks on top as they're something I only dig out at the weekend. The sugar, flour, cups and coffee pods are often used everyday in some capacity.

Improvise with bookends
Need somewhere to put those random decorative pieces you bought because you thought they looked nice? They work great as bookends. I treated myself to this gorgeous copper pineapple ice bucket from Oliver Bona with a birthday voucher from last year. I won't ever use it as an ice bucket but it looks really nice on display, it's pretty heavy to keep books up straight too.

What's on my shelves?
Red retro scales: Wilko (similar), copper pineapple: Oliver Bonas, gold and glass jars: H&M (similar), grey handleless coffee mugs: H&M (similar), Linen small candle: The White Company*,  selection of cookbooks: Amazon, brown glass candle: Earl of East*, swan measuring spoons: birthday gift

Do you have any tips on how to style kitchen shelves?


A letter to my 18 year old self as I turn 29.

29 huh? That seemed so old and yet here we are. Entering the final year of our twenties. It is going to fly by.

Life isn't exactly how you imagined it 11 years ago. But then in a way, I think it's better than you could ever have imagined.

That boy you plucked up the courage to ask out at Sixth Form? Well he's still around despite the fact you were so sure you were going to go your separate ways once you went off to Uni. You never did move away to Greenwich, instead you choose to stay at home and go to a local university. Now you own a house with that lanky, blond boy who used to make your heart flutter in his skinny jeans. You picked a good egg all those years ago. He's kind, thoughtful, ages like a fine wine and makes one heck of a spreadsheet which helps to keep your spending in check and allowed you to get on the property ladder.

There's a few dreams you still haven't ticked off your wishlist. All those dreams of travelling the world with only a backpack, two pairs of knickers and a pair of flips flops never materialised. And you've still never made it to Thailand. But you have been lucky enough to see some places other people only dream of. That travel bug has well and truly bitten you. I don't really think you were ever cut out to slum it if I'm honest.  New York was every bit as incredible as you imagined. In fact, you're taking mum to see it later this year. So you'll have been twice!

You never made it out of your home Essex town despite it being the thing you wanted most in the world. You haven't lived in London but there's still time yet. One thing you'll realise is that dreams don't always happen overnight.

You'll finally work in London on a newspaper! Not quite the Kate Adie you wanted but you've found your passion. It took a long time to get there but you found a job you don't dread going into every day. Just keep slogging away. Interiors make you happy and you get to see your name online. Believe me when I say you'll never tire of that.

You'll never quite shake that crippling self doubt over how you look. You'll grow more confident in time but there'll still be that little voice in your head that tells you your hips are too wide and your thighs are too thick. It's hard. And you'll feel like you're in a constant battle with yourself. But make the most of how you look now. You are hot! That three and a half stone you lose will all come back on when you hit 28. Enjoy it now. It's going to be a lot harder to lose weight when you get older. Trust me, I'm struggling.

Remember that time when you voted for the first time? You come from a Conservative background but at the moment in the voting booth you went for Labour at the last minute. You had no reason why other than thinking it was the right thing to do. It will take you ten years and a certain man to make you realise exactly why you voted Labour. Would you believe you even joined the Labour Party and went leafleting in the General Election?

Life is good. You're surrounded by family and friend who love you fiercely and unconditionally despite your faults. Despite your quick temper that always lands you in hot water, your strong opinions that seem to get you in to trouble and your sheer stubbornness that causes you no end of aggro. Trust me when I say you totally lucked out when they handed out families. You have a great group of girl friends who give you the strength and courage to make your voice heard. Because no matter how much people may belittle and mock you, your voice does matter. You should always be proud of your passionate beliefs. Sometimes this passion can make you come across as not listening to other people's opinions. You'll need to work on this. But don't ever be afraid of standing up or fighting for what you believe in.

But, you're doing alright girl.

My goals for 2018

Redo our bathroom
To put it bluntly, we have run out of money for our house. We ran out of money about three weeks into this two year project! Thankfully we managed to completely revamp and finish our kitchen and living room. So our goal for the upcoming year is to rip out our bathroom and start from scratch. I hate it. The shower is so weak, the bath never looks clean, it has a weird wooden dropped ceiling  and we lack any type of floor. We're giving us until the summer/early autumn to save - and pay off the house credit card -  and then hopefully the refit will be completed by Christmas! We've got someone coming round to give us a cost this week so we know exactly how much we need to save.

Get my savings mojo back
I saved for a house and then in rebellion, turned into the worst person ever when it came to keeping money in my bank account. 2019 sees my friendship group all turn 30 as we have had a plan for the past five years to go to Las Vegas. This will obviously not be cheap! Connor and I also want to visit our friends who have moved to Malaysia to teach. We missed them this year but hopefully they're staying for a second year. Then why not try and tag Singapore onto the end of the trip as it's only an hour plane journey away? I would also like to continue our anniversary tradition and go away for a few days to celebrate. 2019 has the potential to be an epic year for travel - as long as 2018 Sophie gets her savings mojo back.

Get a hold on my finances again
My finances are atrocious. Considering 2017 was suppose to be the year that I became sensible, they seem to have gotten worse. My credit card bill makes me slightly nervous and I run out of money about one week into my wage packet. I need to get my finances in gear if I'm going to have a cracking 30th birthday year. I'm going to start selling much more on eBay, start bringing my lunch into work every day religiously  and only buy things I truly love.

Start using my cookbooks
I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks. Over 130 to be exact. Sickening I know. I love to flick through them, turn the pages over of things I want to make and make a mental list that I'll try it out at the weekend. Then I never do... Now I'm living in my own house and in charge of my weekly shop, I want to try out new recipes and become much more adventurous. I get in pretty late each nights at around 7.45 so I want to prefect those quick, simple yet delicious recipes so I don't just eat Spag Bol and Fajitas every single night. 

Read 15 books
I managed to read eight books in 2017 which to some isn't much at all but it was a great improvement to the three in 2016. This year I want to hit 15 books. I've got a beach holiday coming up which I'm hoping will provide the perfect opportunity to relax with my nose in a book. I'm also hoping to get back in the habit of reading during my commute, I kinda fell off the wagon in December thanks to feeling slightly hungover most mornings...

Stay in more
Finally 2018 will be the year of hermit Sophie. I really want to enjoy our house this year and I can't if  I'm never at home. We entertained friends and family from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and although at time I wanted to pull my hair out, I absolutely loved it. I've always wanted a house that people feel at home in and pop in without a second thought. I'd like to organise a few more soirées instead of going to the pub on a Saturday night.

2017 goals: how did I get on?

That's it. We're now in 2018. As I do every year, I set myself some goals for 2017. Here's how I got on...

1. Read more books
I set myself a goal of reading ten books in order to get back into regular reading. I didn't hit this but I did manage to read eight books which I didn't think was too bad going. I've got a blog post coming up articulating my thoughts on the books I managed to read.

2. See the world
I knew that I wouldn't be able to venture outside Europe this year due to buying a house but I had some amazing trips. I know I harp on about this all the time, but we really are so much to have a diverse, vibrant and bloody great continent on our doorstep. I managed to take a trip over to Ireland to see family, visited the South of France on a girls trip to see Elodie, take an incredible two week trip touring Poland, show Paris to my mum and travel to Cardiff for Gem's wedding. Not bad for a year I was supposed to 'take it easy'.

3. Look after myself from the inside out
This didn't really get started. I started off with good intentions and now? I feel like I'm two steps away from a burn out. December was ridiculously busy and I'm suffering now. I've mentioned that I'm looking to take a step back and with this,  I'm hoping I can start putting self-care at the top of my list. It's a work in progress right?

4. Pay of my credit card.
LOL. This did not happen in the slightest. If anything, it's gotten worse. But it is still manageable and I've got every intention to start reducing it as soon as possible. I'm hoping to stay in more this year, so the money I usually use to go out will hopefully be used to pay it off. I'm off to New York in March and want to have cleared a big chunk off it by then. Just in case I see anything I like!

Thoughts on 2017

Hello? Yes I'm still alive! I fell off the radar a little this month thanks to a broken camera, moving house and a broken MacBook. But my camera is in the repair shop, I was lucky enough to get a shiny new MacBook for Christmas and now I'm all moved in. December has been one hell of a month and I'm slightly glad to see the back of it and finally get settled into a routine.

I'm still scratching my head at the fact we're nearing the end of 2017. As years go, 2017 was a lot better than 2016 which I was very glad to see the back of. As most people say, I'm not quite sure how we got here. It's been a funny old year and one that's been a bit of a rollercoaster. A lot of things have been going on behind the scenes but it's been full of not only lots of tears but also lots of laughs. I feel like I've hardly stopped and life has been an unbelievable whirlwind. Life is whizzing past and I feel like I can't find the handbreak to make it slow down.

Since March, the whole year has been all about getting our house ready. It's been a long hard slog and at times I wanted to ask if I could please give it back. But it all came to head on December 1st as we finally moved in. It's beginning to thankfully resemble a home now rather than a building site. It still has a very long way to go but I feel like there is now a light at the end of a tunnel. I don't think I quite realised just how hard it would be or how sad I would be at moving out from my parents house. I came home once and cried to Connor about how I didn't want to live with him anymore after I had been back to collect some things. I just felt so overwhelmed at the situation and homesick for the home I'd spent 28 years of my life now. But now those feelings are subsiding, it still feels sad but I get so excited to come home after a day at work and do mundane things such as food shopping and re-arranging the cushions on the sofa. I'm looking forward to things quieting down and really enjoy the house as I feel like we've hardly had time to enjoy it thanks to the festive period.

As I enter the last year of my 20s, I feel so content and at peace with my life. I don't think I've ever been happier if I'm honest. Sure it would be nice to have more disposable income, to travel the world more, to lose a bit of weight and live in a house that doesn't see you covered in dust after an hour. But I'm lucky enjoy to do a job that I love, have seen places that other people only dream about,  able to eat three meals a day when some struggle to put food on the table and get on the property ladder by the age of 30. We had around 16 friends round on Christmas Eve and as I looked around, after about 1/2 bottle of gin, I felt so lucky to have such amazing people in our lives. People who have stuck around for the past 12 years through thick and thin. Life is really about who you spend it with, not what you spend it with.

I also like to thank each and every one of you who read this little ramble on the internet. I feel like I've neglected this space this year and I haven't giving it the attention it deserves. I've often thought about pulling the plug but somehow I keep getting drawn back. It's the friendships I've made, the cheerleaders who I've never met and the community that keeps on giving that make me come back for me. Thank you. Thank you very much.  I feel like I've got some of my fire back so expect much more as we roll into next year.

I'm excited to enter 2018. We have some amazing holidays to look forward too, three weddings to enjoy, the honour of being Maid of Honour for my sister-in-law, the fun of living a two-minute walk from our best friends and a two-bedroom terraced house (that still blows my mind) to enjoy.

I'm ready for you 2018. Show me what you got.

Travel plans for 2018

Now that 2017 travel plans have official come to a halt, I'm now starting to plan where I'm off to next year. It's already set to be a busy year and all of my holiday at work has been accounted for. Best start saving my pennies!

Image from Girl in Florence
We had put aside a few days to celebrate our anniversary in January with the hope of scoring some cheap flights. I've been keen to explore more of France since I went to Marseille so was over the moon to find flights for £20 to Bordeaux. We even managed to find accommodation for £105 which means we're going to go away for a grand total of £145 - £72.50 each. Our cheapest holiday yet! I've heard some great things about Bordeaux and am looking forward to spending a few lazy days eating cheese, drinking wine and experiencing the student-y vibe.

New York
This was completely irresponsible by my mum and I. But that's what makes life fun eh? Once again I stumbled across some cheap flights - story of my life -, mentioned it to my mum and before I knew it they were booked, leaving us both wondering how on earth we're going to pay for it. It's going to be tough but we're slowing building up our kitty so I think it'll be just fine. It'll be my mum's first time to NYC so we have a few sightseeing trips plans but mostly we want to pretend we're in SATC drinking overpriced cocktails and hanging out on rooftop bars. We'll be over there for St Partrick's day which will be exciting!

Photo taken from Little Miss Katy

Two of my schoolfriends are getting married in May so lots of us are heading over there to celebrate. We're staying in Palmanova near the Magaluf area which is tragic yet hilarious. I didn't think I'd be heading to Magaluf for the first time at the grand age of 29. But there's such a huge group of us going so it'll be fun to have a partying holiday. The actually wedding is at a gorgeous venue in Alaro, seriously it's so dreamy. We're not too far away from the capital of Palma so I'm hoping we can squeeze in a bus trip as we're there for a week.

Just three weeks after I come back from Mallorca, I'm off again to celebrate my sister-in-law's hen do. My poor liver! I can't say too much because she might be reading...

Northern Ireland
Finally we're be hopping over to Northern Ireland again in August for a week. So far the plan is to stay in Belfast for a few days as we've never actually visited except to drive through and then base ourselves back in Derry to spend time with family for the remainder. I'm hoping to finally visit the Giant's Causeway (fourth time lucky), spend a day on Portstewart Strand as it rained last time and see the Free Derry museum as it was closed back in January.

Am I a narcissist?

I was on the bus a few weeks ago and was listening to a middle aged couple talk about the yoof of today and how awfully narcissistic my generation are. It's all selfies and social media. We only think about ourselves and how we're too busy being vain to be of any use to anyone. We validate our lives by how others perceive us.

It got me thinking. I've been taking pictures of my mug for the internet for the past seven years. Shamelessly posting it all over social media and writing about my favourite clothes and make up. Put a camera in front of me and I'll happily strike a pose - so long as I get to take 76563543 pictures so I can choose the most flattering. So why exactly do I post pictures of myself on the internet for everyone to see?

Of course it's nice to hear people tell you like they like your outfit you've spent a good hour deciding to wear and when you hit 50 likes on that cake you've spent a whole morning slaving over on Instagram. It does give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But this isn't how I validate my life. I promise.

I've always been the one to take lots of pictures even back in the days when it was cool to take a disposable camera out to a Saturday night out in a grimy, sticky-floored club. So why change the habit of a lifetime? I post pictures on my blog and social media because I love to keep an online diary of what I've been getting up to. It's so easy to forget those little moments in life as you get bogged down with the mundane. I scroll back through my Instagram and blog with a smile on my face, remembering all the dreamy holidays, fun days out with friends and ridiculous outfits I once thought looked stylish. It's a way of hoarding my memories.

So no, I wouldn't class myself as a narcissist. Where's my iPhone? I need to take a picture of my face thanks.

A catch up: November 2017

Booking city breaks
We had planned to opt for a city break in the UK to celebrate our anniversary in January with Manchester and Liverpool being top of our list. But when I started looking into it, train prices were terrifying. Seriously what is up with the trains in this country? I decided to have a browse to see what Ryanair was offering and after scrolling past about 5 different Polish cities (I won't be back for at least five years), I stumbled across Bordeaux. The rest is history and now we're proud owners of £20 flights to France. We're looking forward to three days of stuffing our face with cheese, gorging on fresh seafood, eating too many croissants and drinking the delicious local wine. It's not a massive city and I have a few things on my list that I definitely want to see. But I am always on the look out for any recommendations - has anyone ever visited?

House gossip
The house is going full steam ahead right now and really starting to come together. The kitchen is looking lush and I couldn't be more in love with it. It's slowly becoming the kitchen of my dreams and I never realised just how excited I would be over a butler sink and a range cooker. We've got the worktops being cut at the weekend and hopefully the electrician coming in to finish off the electric then we can start tiling the walls. I already know that it's going to be my favourite room in the house.

Feeling festive
Blame it on working ten years in retail and hospitality but I'm not that much of a Christmas fan and only really start to get excited about a week before at the prospect of eating cheese and drinking too much gin. But this year it hit November 1st and suddenly I couldn't contain my excitement. Now I have my own house to decorate, my excitment is in overdrive. I'm feeling the most festive I've ever been and am LOVING it. Although my Christmas bauble habit is slightly getting out of control...

Five things I've learnt about myself whilst renovating a house

1. I am very impatient
I don't like waiting for things and get frustrated when things don't happened immediately. I'm impulsive and quite demanding if I'm honest. This has not been a straight forward process at all. It's a long seven months and it's probably going to be a long next couple of years.

2. My dad is my hero
I always knew I'd lucked out in the dad department but I don't think I fully appreciated just how amazing he is until we got this house. My dad is a roofer who works six days a week doing a pretty manual job, yet he still finds the time to come round every single day and do something to help. Even if it's just to fit a lightbulb. We really couldn't have done this without his knowledge, guidance and help. He's fitting our kitchen as we speak! He's been putting his heart and soul into our house to make sure it's everything we've dreamed of.

3. Compromise is extremely hard
Only child over here! I don't think I realised just how much I want to have my own way. If I'm honest, Connor is pretty easy going and usually just says yes because he'll do anything for an easy life. But the little rascal has not just said yes to this house. He's been putting his foot down quite often when I tell him of yet another wild idea, namely that knocking an entire wall down is a ridiculously expensive idea. And spending £800 on Farrow & Ball paint for the downstairs is insane. And refusing to pay tens of thousands of pounds so we can have a log burner. But I did get my butler sink, my range cooker, oak worktops and real wood flooring so I suppose he's not all bad!

4. I am absolutely ready to move out
If I'm honest I only really started saving for a house because I felt like it was time for me to start doing it. I've always liked the idea of moving out but I've never been in any rush. I have a pretty cushy lifestyle at home. I pay minimal housekeeping so my disposable income is pretty generous in letting me have multiple holidays a year, fill my wardrobe with ASOS and enjoy going on a new adventure each weekend. But now? I am so ready to move out and make a home on my own. I'm looking forward to having my own space and have the option of sitting on my sofa in my pants, surrounded by Dominos and watching repeats of Peaky Blinders with no one telling me I can't do that. It looks like I've finally grown up!

5. Resentment is very real
I never wanted to buy a house at home in Essex. I have a there hour round trip commute into work each day. While I'm just 30 minutes away from Liverpool Street on the train, it just so happens that I work in Notting Hill which is probably one of the further away points of London from my home. It really is just one of those things but it doesn't make the commute any easier to deal with. It's hard. Really hard. I leave the house at 7.15 and tend to get home between 7.30-8pm. Connor works in Cambridge which is 30 minutes straight down the M11 and he's usually home about 5pm - on a good day. Moving to London just wouldn't make much sense and his job means he moves locations about every three years and could be literally anywhere in the country. And it's silly to pay London prices when you're not working in the city. I know all of this and I understand all of this. But it doesn't mean that I didn't really resent buying a house in Essex. I found the perfect flat in Mile End on the Roman Road that I was desperate to view and it would cut my commute down to just 20 minutes. All I ever wanted is to live in the city. But it's just never materialised. In fact, it's only the last couple of weeks as I've seen the house become more like a home that the feeling has subsided.

Why do I keep blogging when I'm never going to make a 'success' out of it?

Blogs are full of posts about how to make money, increase your follower count and turn blogging into your full time job. I have no desire - or even the ability - to turn my blog into my job nor do I make much money. As for my followers? They steadily go up but I'm no where near in line with the big guns considering I've been blogging for the past seven years. Sometimes it seems like fun has been taken out of the blogging community as people get obsessed with numbers and making dollars. That it's only worth keeping up a blog if you're going to make it into a business.

So where do I keep plugging away, updating this little space on the internet? The simple fact is I enjoy it and I'm not quite sure what I would do if it no longer existed. It's been part of basically my entire adult life from the tender age of 21. I've documented my university degree, my first job in journalism, my first house and endless trips all over the world. 

We all measure success in different ways. Obviously compared to the blogging greats, this blog is a mere minion. But to me? Every new follower, every page view and every comment is a success. I often think the blogging boat I originally clambered on to has long sailed as the industry evolves into something I barely recognise. I keep blogging because it's something to look back on. It gives me the excuse to try new things and see new places. I wouldn't have done half of the things in my life if I didn't have this blog. It's all too easy to get caught up in mundane details of life and enter your very own groundhog day. Sleep, work, repeat. Simply this blog encourages me to make the most out of life, to push me into doing things and get out of my comfort zone as cheesy as that may sound. That is what encourages me to keep blogging even though I'm never going to become 'internet-famous'. But I'm internet famous for my mum so that's what counts eh?!

Why do you keep blogging? 


A catch up: October 2017

House news
I hope you're not bored of hearing about that house because I still have so much to talk about. It's now been nearly eight months since we had the keys and we're at the stage of being about to have sleepovers at the weekend. Can I get a hell yeah? HELL YEAH! The bedroom is done bar the floor which can't be done until we can afford to buy a new boiler next summer. Why are those darn things so expensive?! The kitchen is painted and the tiles are laid on the floor. Next the cupboards and the worktops are due to be fitted. Then we can order the fridge so we can actually keep food in the house. Revolutionary! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to have my very own Belfast sink. It will be glorious! Yes, I've now reached the age where I get excited over a sink. Is this what your late twenties are all about?

Learning to say no
This house business has been tough on my finances. In fact it's been something I have really struggled - and am still struggling - with. I like to go out with friends, stuff my fat face and update my wardrobe frequently. But my disposable income had dropped dramatically. I know it's all for a good cause but sometimes I can't help but feel a bit bitter and resentful towards the house. But then I visit and realise just how silly I'm being and how incredible it is to say that I'm a homeowner. I've been making a really conscious decision to scale things back. I'm only saying yes to doing things a couple of times a month, starting to clear through the sheer amount of junk I own to make some extra money and trying to spend more time locally rather than running off to London every chance I get. It's still very much a work in process. And very hard work.


A catch up: August 2017

House renovations
It's hard to believe that we've had the keys to our home for five months and sometimes it feels like we're making absolutely no progress. But then I glance back at pictures and realise just how far we've come. The living room is now plastered and painted with the wooden floor already laid - our sofa is coming in September. Then we can start making it feel like a home. In one room at least! My dad and boyfriend have insulated the ceiling and laid the plasterboard  so I'm hoping to order our kitchen within a couple of weeks. Sometimes I think I made an awful mistake buying a house that needed so much work doing to it but then when I see it start coming together and think it's the best thing I've ever done. Even if my bank account doesn't agree... Such a rollercoaster!

New hair
I'm growing my hair at the moment as hoping to donate it to charity. So as a result it's been in a bit of a state but Rush* offered to help me tidy it up a bit. I only had a small amount cut off the ends and my fringe tidied up but it's made a world of difference. It looks a lot healthier already and seems to be growing even more if that's possible! Rush always has such great customer service and it's a pleasure to go and have my hair cut. They even curled my hair as I mentioned I was going to a party in the evening. It's the little touches that really make an experience enjoyable.

Weddings and weekends away
September is gearing up to be a very busy month. I'll be travelling down to Cardiff for Gem's wedding then on the following weekend we also have a wedding in London where we will be enjoying a little staycation. God bless those three day weeks eh? I've got a lunch date at Hannah's too look forward to and going wedding dress shopping with my sister-in-law. One of my friend's is also due to welcome our first baby into the group. I don't feel old enough for that! It's a good job I'm staying in for the rest of August!

Not fitting into the blogging world - and why it's ok

It's hard to believe I've been writing my thoughts down on this little space the internet for the past seven years. And what a seven years that has been. I've made friends for life and had some incredible opportunities. All down to being bored once evening in 2010 at my boyfriends house while he was watching the football.

There has also been some incredible changes in the blogging world over the past seven years. We've gone from taking photos in our bedrooms with a camera balancing on a few books on a shelf to carefully curated photoshoots that wouldn't look out of place in a glossy monthly magazine. Somewhere along the way I've forgotten how to keep up. When I first started I seemed to fit into the crazy world. We were all young girls who had found this outlet and thrived on each other's successes. We went to the same events, we worked with the same brands and became each other's cheerleaders, religiously commenting on posts.

Now the blogging world has evolved so much I almost don't recognise it - it has taken on a life of its own. It's now a full time job filled with girls completely kicking arse. And now it's become somewhere where I don't have a place. Somewhere where I feel slightly irrelevant. My blog isn't really anything. My photography isn't going to set the world alight. I don't have an amazing fashion eye to shoot magazine worthy campaigns. I'm still awkwardly posting looking at my feet. I'm no longer top of brands lists to collaborate with. Sometimes I feel like I should just call it a day. Maybe deep down I just don't want to work at it. Maybe this is why I sometimes I feel so disconnected from the blogging world.

But then I look at seven years worth of posts and I feel proud. Proud that I've managed to keep this going for most of my adult life. Proud that so many brilliant brands have thought my blog was worthy of a collaboration. Proud that over the years my content has consistently got better even if it isn't up there with the best. Proud that people still read my words I pour into this space. Proud that this blog has become an extension of who I am. It's simply something that I don't think I could ever give up. So really it's ok I don't fit into the blogging world.

Sometimes not fitting in is the most fun of all.

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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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