Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Goals: SMASHED!


What a difference a year makes.

As I sit here and type this, I can't quite believe how much of an incredible year 2015 has been for many reasons.

I'll not go into them all on here but essentially, I started 2015 feeling pretty low.   It really says it all when you start the year with a dry shampoo review doesn't it?

I was dealing with pain and anxiety as a result of an accident; finding the right combination of tablets to help me and dealing with the side effects was far from easy.  I'd been dropped by my best friend for no apparent reason which crushed me as I'd never envisaged us not being a part of each others lives and that seemed to put a dampener on many of the happy things that 2014 brought and I was feeling unsatisfied and unsuccessful in my work.

However despite the above and more that I don't think I'll ever share on here, I had this underlying, steely determination to move forward that I hadn't felt before in my life.

I realised that I'd been focusing on the negatives rather than all of the happy, positive things that had happened to me and the great, fortunate situation that I was in.  When I think back to 2014, I actually had some of the best moments of my life so far that year and those memories should be treasured rather than overshadowed by the negatives.

My mindset had to change.  I knew the power of positive thinking because its application had really helped me in the past and so I decided to pick something to focus.  That thing was my blog.

At the beginning of the year, I set myself some goals that I wanted to achieve  to do with my blog and social media and I've stopped at nothing to achieve them.  While I didn't post about them, I wrote them doing in a note book and I feel a massive sense of achievement in reaching my goals.

There were three things that I wanted to achieve this year:
1. Hit 10,000 followers on Twitter
2. I wanted to reach 2000 followers on Bloglovin
3. To blog and publish a new post every single day.

I decided to skip writing posts reflecting on the previous year and my goals for the year ahead and just threw myself into it.  I think focusing on what I wanted to achieve has really helped me as I've smashed my goals and couldn't be happier.  I have to admit, I still cant believe that I managed to put up a new blog post everyday as it takes me so long to write each one.

It is such a great feeling to be ending one year in a completely different frame of mind to the way that you started it and I'm so excited for 2016.

Whatever you experienced in 2015, good or bad, learn from it and use it to set your goals for 2016.  Work hard, play hard and reach for the stars.

If you're heading out tonight, stay safe and enjoy yourselves.

Lots of love xxx

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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Ladies, I'm in love.

With a nail polish.

Behold the beauty that is Smith & Cult.

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Smith & Cult are a brand new nail polish that launched in the UK earlier this year.  They're owned by the same company as Oribe and I first heard about them when they launched in store at Space NK.  However at £19 a nail polish, they're certainly not the cheapest on the market and I always like to try something out before I commit to buying it but with a nail polish, thats pretty hard to do.

Then I discovered that they're now being stocked at the fabulous Hooker and Young salon in Ponteland and you can have them applied as part of their great range of nail services.  I was sold and off I went to the salon to have my nails done.

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Choosing a polish wasn't easy.  There's so many available, the shade range is not only massive for a new brand but its also absolutely beautiful.  I wanted a seasonally appropriate shade yet there were so many that were catching my eye that would be perfect for the summertime.

I can already tell you now that I'll definitely be back before my summer holiday as that coral shade is calling my name!

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

The great thing about Smith & Cult polishes is that they're all formulated without the chemical nasties that you still find in many nail polish brands.

Their 5-Free formula ensures that their nail polishes are free from Dibutyl, Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor.  So not only do they have a great shade selection but a fantastic formula too.  Plus the packaging of the bottles is so beautiful.  All of the lids are hammered by hand so they all have a slightly different look to them.

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

The beautician explained that the Smith & Cult manicure is often thought of as day to night nails as they have lots of creamy polishes and lots of glitters too so many people like to layer them to take their look from day to night.  That's exactly what I decided to do as I was having my nails done just before my trip to Poland and I wanted them to suit both my evening and day time outfits.

After I had picked out the colours that I wanted, the beautician got to work on my nails by filing them and removing the excess cuticles.  I like to keep my nails super short with typing a lot but since I have large nail beds, I don't feel as though it is at a detriment to the appearance of my nails.

The Smith & Cult Basis of Everything base coat was applied to my nails followed by two expertly precise coats of the first polish that I had chosen which was the stunning Stockholm Syndrome.  This colour is described as an elephant grey.  It looks grey but has a slight purple tone to it as well in my opinion, and it is incredibly highly pigmented and creamy.  While it could have been left at one coat if you were painting your nails at home in a rush, two were applied for a completely opaque finish and I was super impressed with how smooth and even the result was.

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Next, it was time to add the statement glitter polish, Vegas Post Apocalyptic, to my thumbs and ring finger.  This is a sparkly polish packed full of ultra fine holographic lavender glitter in a clear base which would look great on its own but looks even better when layered over a complimentry shade such as Stockholm Syndrome.

My nails were topped off with their clear top coat, Above It All, and I was able to sit for a few minutes to allow them to properly dry before gathering my things to leave the salon.

The result is stunning.  My nails looked so neat, perfected and pretty.  I was over the moon with my manicure and the service at Hooker & Young.

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

I'm not sure if it was the base coat, nail polish itself, top coat or the application method but I was genuinely shocked at how long my nails lasted.  Usually polish lasts about three to four days on me before I need to remove it and reapply yet the Smith & Cult polish lasted a full 8 days on my nails with very minimal signs of wear.  In fact, I only removed it because it was Christmas Day and I wanted to paint my nails with a festive red polish.

Here you can see my nails on day 8 of having this manicure:

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

The results speak for themselves don't they!  Especially as I was so busy exploring Poland and less than careful with my nails during the time that I had my manicure.

I'm so impressed with this polish brand and particularly the great service that I received at Hooker & Young.

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

Smith & Cult Manicure at Hooker & Young, Ponteland

I absolutely LOVE the Smith & Cult manicure that I had at Hooker & Young in Ponteland.  I'd definitely head back for manicures in the future, especially if I'm going to a special event or away on holiday.  I love that I can have my nails done there and purchase the bottle of nail polish to take away with me for further applications.

If you're not in the area, the Smith & Cult polishes are available to buy direct from Space NK and Selfridges but it would be such a shame to miss out on the fabulous manicure at Hooker & Young so if you are in the area, do head there to try out their services.  I assure you you'll not be disappointed.

Hooker and Young Ponteland can be found at 13 Bell Villas, Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE20 9BD and you can book an appointment on 01661 821004.

What are your favourite Smith & Cult nail polish colours?

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

15 Things I Learned In 2015

whatlauraloves wearing scarlett and jo

Today I thought I would share with you 15 things that I have learnt in 2015.  Of course, there are plenty more but these are the ones that have stood out to me the most and had the biggest impact on me

1.  You'll never get what you want if you don't focus on it and work hard.

2.  Clear out your things once in a while.  No one needs that much jewellery; holding onto things you haven't worn in years only clutters your space and mind now.

3.  Stand up to bullies.  They soon shut up.  You tried ignoring them as a kid, that didn't work and it doesn't now either.

4.  Procrastination only steals happiness from your future.  Get stuff done now and feel successful for it.

5.  If people don't want to hear the truth, they shouldn't ask for your opinion.

6.  When you put your mind to something, you can do it.  Use that feeling of being successful to inspire your future goals.

7.  Some friends are out to use you.  Recognise when you're no longer needed and don't put yourself in a position where you're trying to hold onto something that's not there anymore.  You haven't got time for that.  You have plenty of loyal friends.


creme brulee dessert hilton garden inn hotel krakow

8.  Crème Brûlée is a fabulous dessert.  Never mistake it for creme caramel again, you've been missing out!

9.  Some people will never like the way you look.  That's a problem with their eyes, not yours.

10.  Stand up for yourself.  You're not a wallflower.

11.  You're a lot stronger and self assured than you think.  The madness of some of this years events have proved that.

12.  Its never too late to tell someone you miss them.

13.  Always ensure your brows are on fleek.  Your outer appearance will thank you for it.

14.  When you're feeling overwhelmed, write a list.  Tidy your space and have a nap.  Waking up is a fresh start.

15.  Do what makes you truly happy.

What have you learnt this year?

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Monday, 28 December 2015

Starting 2016 with Bio-Oil

Bio Oil Stretch mark, scar, uneven skintone skincare oil

Pretty soon, I'm going to be starting 2016 with Bio-Oil.  Not just with their fabulous skincare oil but with the lovely little planner that they sent over to me; thanks guys!

I wanted to pop up a quick post today to tell you all about their oil as I've been using it on and off for years now.

Bio Oil is a specialist skincare oil that is famous for the amazing effect that it has on skin.  It helps to improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks and un even skintone, while hydrating and moisturising the skin.  It is that well known that it has become the No.1 selling scar and stretch mark product in 20 countries since it launched globally nearly 14 years ago!  So many women use it when pregnant to help to prevent stretch marks as well!

Bio-Oil combines plant extracts and vitamins within an oil formula, as well as their breakthrough ingredient called PurCellin Oil which makes the consistency of the Bio-Oil lightweight and non-greasy so that the plant extracts and vitamins can be absorbed into the skin with ease.  I love that they have a full ingredients list on their website here so that you know exactly what you're putting onto your skin.

I first reviewed Bio Oil years ago where I talked about the incredible result on a scar on my arm.  You can read the post here.  Since then, I've just used it on and off but because I test out so many products for my blog, I never really have the chance to just use the one product.  This means that the results that I get from using the Bio Oil are varied but the one constant is how amazing it makes my skin feel when I use it.

I started using a new bottle on my arms a couple of months ago and I'm really happy with the results on the stretch marks on my arms but there are still some improvements to be made.

One area that I haven't tried Bio-Oil on for a prolonged period of time is my tummy which is a big problem area for me.  I have lots of stretch marks and while they're not particularly dark in colour and I never really get my tummy out, they are noticeable to me and something that I'd like to diminish the appearance of if possible.  So from the beginning of January, I'm going to use this fresh bottle of Bio-Oil every single day and chart my progress at home to see what difference it makes to my skin.  I'm sure I'll update you when I've finished the bottle so check back for my empties post!

SHOP HERE

Do you have any stretch marks?  Have you used Bio-Oil? What results have you seen from using it?

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Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sun Believable Expert Tan Scrub Me Body Exfoliator Review


Girls, I know the cold weather may have set in but I'm sure many of you are going to be wanting to look bronzed and beautiful this party season.

Don't worry, I'm in the same boat and I've found a product that will be great at ensuring your tan fades evenly between applications and comes off fully at the end.  This will leave your skin ready to apply a fresh new layer of tan now that Christmas is over and you're getting ready for the New Years Eve celebrations.




The Sun Believable Expert Tan Scrub Me Body Exfoliator is packed full of exfoliating particles that are designed to slough away dead skin cells and false tanning build up from the skin.  It is a salt free scrub that is made up of natural walnut shell and Ecuadorian ivory palm seed set in a gel.  It also contains Acqua Biomin Gem which is a blend of precious gems, diamond, pearl, turquoise and opal proteins which work together to leave the skin feeling smooth and prepared for the application of false tan.

I would suggest using this scrub to help to gently but effectively buff the skin to get rid of dead skin cells before you apply your tan, while your tan is on your skin to help it to fade evenly (I'd suggest using it every other day in the shower) and on your last day or wearing your tan to get rid of the rest of it so that your skin is completely smooth ready for your next tanning application.  I love the scent as its lightly awakening and quite zingy thanks to the blend of essential oils of Sicilian lemon and lime in the formula.

The scrub doesn't dry the skin out at all or leave it feeling tight.  In fact, the Acqua Biomin in the formula has actually been found to increase the skins hydration by 24%.  I find that it works best when you shower first, then step out of the stream of water, buff it into your skin in circular motions to increase the abrasiveness and then go back under the water to wash it off.


You can pick up a bottle of the Sun Believable Expert Tan Scrub Me Body Exfoliator here.

Will you be tanned for New Years Eve or are you rocking the equally beautiful pale English rose look?

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Saturday, 26 December 2015

WhatLauraWore: Navabi Plus Size Fashion

Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry

2015 has definitely been the year where my style has evolved.  It has grown up in a lot of ways and if you'd said to me a couple of years ago that I'd be wearing all black on the regular, I'd never have believed you.  Now, its quite a usual occurrence for me and thanks to Navabi plus size fashion, I've been able to add another all black everything outfit to my wardrobe.


Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry


Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry

One of the most comfortable pieces in my wardrobe right now has to be the Gozzip A-Line Pocket Dress.  I love the relaxed, wide a-line cut of the dress which enables it to fit a number of sizes.  It is very much a throw on and go piece that you can dress up with some accessories equally as easily as you can dress it down for a casual but put together look for everyday wear.  The shape is fabulous because it feels like a swing dress and falls beautifully.

It is made of a beautifully soft jersey fabric that has plenty of stretch in it and retains its super black colour, shape and elasticity through multiple washes, ensuring that it'll always look brand new.

On the front of the dress, theres a little pocket detail which is made from a shiny woven fabric.  I probably would never actually keep anything in the pocket but it provides a nice contrast to the rest of the dress and I always think that its great to play with textures when you're wearing an all black outfit so that it isn't just a blank colour canvas.

While this dress could be worn alone, I thought it best to pair it with some plus size black leggings to keep the outfit looking daytime appropriate and I added my gorgeous ankle boots from Office.  These ones are in a black patent leather with quilting and a copper buckle and I've worn them so often since I bought them last winter.  Office have so many gorgeous styles of boots in this year, in fact, they have the largest selection that I've seen.  They're very much the place to go to for great footwear.


Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry


Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry

To keep me warm in this cold weather we're experiencing, I added what has to be my favourite clothing item of 2015 to my outfit; the MAT Leather Look Waterfall Jacket.

I have been looking for a leather/pleather jacket for so long and finally I have found one that literally fits like a glove.  I always liked the look of leather jackets worn open rather than closed but found that they were just too bulky looking and always seemed to be ill fitting.

However when I saw this one online, I decided to take the risk and order it.  When it arrived, I was literally overjoyed.  It sounds ridiculous to be so pleased with an item of clothing but please appreciate that I've been looking for a piece like this for a good ten years.

What is great about this leather look jacket is that the material is lightweight yet it still keeps you feeling warm.  It combines a smooth leather look fabric with a suede like fabric, mostly on the inside and on the long sleeves it has rib knit inserts that stretch to fit the size of your arms.  This is fantastic as it means that it holds its shape when you're wearing something this or sleeveless underneath but if you have a thicker jumper on then it'll also stretch to fit your arms with that on too.

The mix of fabrics make this a really stylish piece, as does the waterfall shape which creates a lovely contrast between the often tough looking leather style fabric and the open, floaty cut of the jacket.  Waterfall pieces are my absolute fave as they look great with so many different pieces in my wardrobe, instantly dress up an outfit and look super flattering.

I seriously cannot recommend the MAT Leather Look Waterfall Jacket enough.  It is my favourite find this year!

Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry

Navabi Plus Size Fashion WhatLauraLoves wearing Gozzip, MAT Fashion, Simply Be, Office and Mulberry

For jewellery, I opted for gold chain pieces to toughen up the look but still keep the femininity with the diamantes and I added my Tiffany ring that I bought in Mexico years ago!  My bag is, of course, my trusted Mulberry Lily in black with gold hardware.

For my first order from Navabi, I'm super impressed.  I have one more piece to show you which I'll share in another post but from the outset, I've got to say that I'm so happy with the service, fast delivery and premium packaging.

What outfits have you been wearing recently?

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Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas From My Home To Yours!

Blonde blogger whatlauraloves wearing santa hat

Just a quick post today lovelies, as I wanted to pop on here to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all of the very best wishes for the year ahead.

I've been celebrating this Christmas at home with my small family.  We started our day with plenty of gifts and I've got to say that this year, we were all thoroughly spoiled.

Taken from my Instagram
Brunch followed with a generous helping of Dip and Share Eggs which I found the recipe for online here.

Taken from my Instagram
We played a couple of rounds of Articulate afterwards which provided many laughs.  We haven't played a board game at Christmas since I was a child but since we tend to always have a mid afternoon slump of boredom, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a game to play.  We thoroughly enjoyed this game and it really got our brains working.

Since there was just the three of us and no children around, we decided to have our Christmas dinner a little later in the day so before we put the veg on, we watched A Muppets Christmas Carol which is one of my favourite Christmas films.

Christmas dinner was, as always, absolutely epic and we all sank into the sofa afterwards nursing food babies while watching more Christmas films.

Now its almost midnight and I'm about to go to bed.

I hope you've all had an absolutely smashing Christmas Day surrounded by those you love.

Do let me know what you've been up to in the comments.

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

TWITTER GIVEAWAY | St Tropez Tan Crackers


In the spirit of Christmas, I have launched a giveaway over on my Twitter account.  The winner will receive the two St Tropez crackers that are in the photo above.  One is the St Tropez Instant Cracker (worth £5) which contains a tube of their instant tanning lotion and the other is the St Tropez Express Party Cracker (worth £10) which contains a small bottle of their Express 1 Hour Tan and a tanning mitt to apply it.

All you need to do is to follow me @WhatLauraLoves and retweet this tweet here.

It is open internationally and ends at midnight on 31/12/2016.

I'll be notifying the winner via a DM on Twitter.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT | Fancy 40% OFF at Scarlett & Jo?

Scarlett and Jo Members Only 40% Discount Offer

Hands up if you fancy 40% off at Scarlett & Jo!  I know I certainly do.

This is the ONLY sale that they're going to be having.  Forget the Boxing Day/January Sales, they wont be having them.  This is the sale that you need to take advantage of and they've launched it exclusively to give back to their S&J Club Members from TOMORROW.

Not heard of The S&J Club before?  Well listen up!

The S&J Club is an exclusive members only club for Scarlett & Jo customers.  Anyone can join, you simply sign up for FREE here.  When you're a member, you'll receive exclusive benefits such as a 10% discount on all Scarlett & Jo clothing purchases until 31st December 2016 and you'll get access to some special offers from both S&J and some of their friends, plus a newsletter and event invites, some of which are free and some are available for purchase.

However for the next three days (until BOXING DAY), S&J Club members can get a HUGE 40% off Scarlett and Jo clothing.  The discount is automatically applied at the checkout providing they have signed up to the club.

If you're already a member, you can shop the sale exclusively here, if not, SIGN UP HERE FOR FREE.  Then all you need to do is to all your items to your basket and the discount will automatically be calculated at the check out.


As previously noted, Scarlett and Jo wont be doing any general sales at all so this is their way of giving back to their customers. Don't miss your chance to bag some of their stunning clothes at a fantastic discount!!


What is your favourite item from Scarlett and Jo?

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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Best Corporate Gifts this Christmas

"Sweet Porsche" by Günter Hentschel is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Giving gifts at Christmas is one of the most popular things to do at this time of the year, with the festive period well and truly settling in. But why not extend the idea of giving presents further than just your friends and family? Giving gifts to clients, whether they have been with you for a number of years or they have only just come on board, is a great way to keep up a positive relationship and to ensure there is a spirit of Christmas in the workplace as well as at home!

There are a whole host of gifts you could give to your clients or even employees as Christmas draws closer, to show your appreciation and thanks. Most gifts can now be bought online for even more convenience, with a lot of ideas now available for personalisation such as engraving or labelling. This can sometimes give that extra special touch! As long as your corporate gift is relevant to each client, you should be on to a winner.

Bring out the bubbles!
You can’t go wrong with a fancy-looking bottle of wine or champagne to say Merry Christmas to your client this year. At a time where having fun is top priority, celebrate the festive period by giving your loyal and hard-working associates a little something special to help them unwind and have a good time!

Useful trinkets
If you aren’t so keen on buying something extravagant this year, there are a huge variety of smaller little meaningful gifts you can choose to give, all of which can also be personalised if you still wanted to keep that extra touch. Something such as a bottle stopper or a personalised USB stick, while very small, can act as a gesture of good will during the festive period. This is also cost effective if you have a lot of gifts to buy for your clients or colleagues! Choose whether to give something like a business card holder, or something equally useful, depending on what you think your client would appreciate the most.

Office Supplies
While this may sound particularly uninteresting, corporate gifts should be relevant to the recipient and often this means something they can use in their daily working life. You could be creative and buy memo pads and desk tidies with a difference; novelty items for something a little different this Christmas will always bring a smile to someone’s face when they open it! Likewise, you could give them a useful present such as a personalised calendar ready for 2016, or an embossed diary to help them step into the New Year.

"Dulces - Sweets" by Guillermo Viciano is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Food hampers

Stand out in the minds of your clients; don’t forget they may be receiving corporate gifts from others and you might want to make a positive, lasting impact. While food hampers can sometimes be the same old contents like cookies, tea and such, there are so many other options out there. Why not go for something completely different and unique for your food-based corporate gift? Christmas is all about treating yourself and others, enjoying your food and spending time with loved ones; a hamper full of exciting sweets could do the job! Full of old-fashioned sweets and confectionery that you may have forgotten about, a hamper-full could really make a positive impression on your clients.

For all your Retro Sweet needs, get in touch with a company who really know their stuff when it comes to everything sweet!

What are your favourite corporate gift ideas?


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