Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Are you BBQ Ready This Summer?

WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Lifestyle Blogger

Summer is here – at last! Which means that the smell of BBQ’s is in the air and one thing is for sure, it’s certainly contagious! Having a BBQ means getting all your friends and family together, eating and drinking the long, summery evenings away and enjoying the sunshine with those you love most.  However if you're the one cooking and hosting it can also mean lots of preparation and hard work…

With the World Cup being on as well as Father's Day, we had a BBQ over at my Dad's house last weekend (you can check out what I wore above- everything is linked at the end of the post).  My dad is a self professed King Of The BBQ with king prawn and shrimp skewers and ribs from Antony Worrall Thompson's barbecue book to name but two dishes.  There's always so much work that goes into one of my dad's BBQs but he has it down to a fine art now from the food and cooking to the garden decoration and seating.

To kick start your dining al fresco this summer, I'm going to share some helpful tips and ideas of how you can get your garden BBQ ready this summer.

You want your guests to stay as long as possible, right?  Well, just because it gets dark at the end of the evening doesn’t mean you all have to say goodbye. Some well placed garden lighting will show your guests that they don't need to leave early.  LED garden lights are really popular right now as they create a great atmosphere as well as save you a fortune on your lighting bills. You can check them out here.

Make sure you have adequate lighting on your tables and around your seating areas too. Got some empty jars and a few tea lights? Why not make your own lanterns by painting the jars in different colours.  Candle light is always great for setting a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere – ideal after a busy afternoon in the sun, drinking, eating and having fun.  Whatever holder you choose, I'd really recommend citronella candles because they deter flies and other bugs which can be so annoying when you're sat outside trying to enjoy yourself!  I've got some for my balconies from Home Bargains.

For the darker areas of your garden you could also try some solar powered garden stakes or fairy lights.  These will look great on summer nights as they will illuminate the plants and garden paths.

If you’re planning your BBQ in your yard or your garden is just a little boring then adding a splash of colour can make a huge difference.  Think brightly coloured planters and plant pots; you could paint these yourself or head to your local garden centre or discount home store as you'll always find something to pick up there.  You could even up cycle your existing garden furniture and paint it a bright, summery colour to make a really positive first impression and a great focal point in your outdoor space.

If your garden furniture has seen better days then you could invest in a new set, especially if you're going to be out in your garden a lot this summer as you'll definitely get your use out of it.  There's loads of options available on the high street, online and on retail parks so check out your local discount home stores and supermarkets to see what you can find before you splash out.  Making sure your guests are comfortable is important so ensure theres plenty of seating and provide picnic blankets to sit on too.  I always find that lots of outdoor cushions go down a treat too, as will providing blankets and shawls to cover up with, should the evening become cool.

Check your BBQ the day BEFORE your guests arrive and make sure it’s clean and useable. Many of us are in the habit of opting to clean the BBQ the next time we use it… which sometimes means a year later!  Plan your BBQ menu and try to take note of everyone’s preferences – especially those with allergies like myself who can't have dairy. Now all you need is to put your drinks on ice and wait for your guests to arrive.

Happy BBQ-ing beauties!


Monday, 18 June 2018

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The statement jacket is vital to any wardrobe.  It can completely transform your look, taking it from great to fabulous in an instant.

When you're heading out of the front door, your jacket may be the last thing that you pull on but its one of the first things that other people see making it a make or break piece when creating a first impression.

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

When you're curating your wardrobe and putting together your outfits for the day, don't leave your jacket until last; it should be as integral to your outfit as anything else that you're wearing, often even more important than other pieces.

Someone once told me that when you go for an interview, wear a brightly coloured, well fitting jacket to make a lasting first impression so that once you've slayed your interview, you'll standout and be memorable against even the toughest competition who also slayed theirs!

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

For me, while patterns and prints have been all the rage in previous years, this summer its all about the bold, blocks of colour when it comes to statement jackets.

For me, the Simply Be Double Breasted Jacket with Gold Button Detail is the ultimate colour blocking piece for summer.  It's oversized, bold and a piece that gets people talking for the right reasons.

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The striking green colour adds a statement to any outfit and those gold buttons are the most gorgeous pop of metallic colour, complimenting the green hue perfectly.

Green is one of my favourite colours as an adult, despite the fact that I never actually liked the colour at all as a child.  It's funny how your tastes change as you grow up isn't it?

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

One things for sure, a double-breasted blazer will NEVER go out of fashion.  The shape is a total classic, oversized or otherwise and that makes it an investment piece for your wardrobe that you'll be able to pull out year after year.

The quality as you'd expect from Simply Be is great and I find the fit perfect too.  This jacket can be worn buttoned up which feels too restrictive for me, open which is usually my preference and also over the shoulders which I'm actually swaying more towards... there's a couple of jackets that I've started to wear in this way in the last month or so which is causing me to believe that my tastes maybe changing.  I usually would leave that look to the Fashion Week attendees but maybe I can rock it up in Newcastle too?

What makes this stunning jacket all the more wonderful is that 30% of the purchase price is donated to Breast Cancer Now so if the popping shade doesn't lift your spirits, the feel good charity donation certainly will!

When wearing a jacket as statement as this, I think its best to keep the rest of the colour palette fairly neutral with your outfit.  For me that means monochrome but that black and white doesn't need to be boring.

The Simply Be Sleeveless Ruffle Top for starters is a great twist on a plain black top.  It's pretty, girly and perfect for summer.  Effortlessly pop it on with jeans, denim shorts, printed culottes or work trousers or tuck it into a skirt and you've instantly given your everyday look a fun twist.

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Then theres the Simply Be Chloe Distressed Skinny Jeans which are quite simply, a dream come true.  I've been wanting to wear a pair of ripped jeans for years now but I could never find any that fit me well enough; I'm so much larger around my tummy than on my legs that to be able to find jeans to fit my tummy means that I end up with the look of wide leg pants regardless of what leg style I choose.  However these Chloe jeans have totally changed the game for me as they're actually proper skinny jeans and fit more snuggly on the leg all the way down to the ankle than any other skin jeans I've had.

They're super soft and really stretchy so they feel as though they moulded to my body and they're so comfortable, I feel like I'm not even wearing them.  So they're mega comfy, actually skinny... what else?  They're ripped to perfection in all the right places; nothing revealing or silly and they look awesome when they're on.  Then there's the fact that they're white.  Oh man do I LOVE white jeans, they look so lush on, especially in summer and even more so when I'm tanned.  Just check out this WhatLauraLoves Instagram photo as evidence!

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Put all these pieces together with the addition of my fave espadrilles of the summer from River Island and you've got one killer outfit.  The green statement jacket makes everything POP dontcha think?

SHOP THE POST- use code WLV10 for discount on all Simply Be orders except sale & outlet.

Simply Be Double Breasted Jacket with Gold Button Detail // Simply Be Black Sleeveless Ruffle Top // Simply Be Chloe Distressed Skinny Jeans- Regular Length // River Island Espadrilles // Gold Fever Hair Extensions fitted by HJ Extensions

Do you have a statement jacket in your wardrobe?  What colour would you love?  How often do you wear green?

*Thank you to Mark at My Digital Life for taking these photos, you absolute legend.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Making My Rented Apartment A Home While Saving To Buy

Returning home after a long day at work, running errands or socialising is one of my favourite feelings in the world.  It's coming up to a year since I moved into my apartment and the comforting feeling of being home only gets stronger.

As an anxious person, I don't cope too well with having lots of mess, boxes piled high or disorganisation around me.  I'm easily overwhelmed and the more stressed I get, the less I seem to be able to get anything done.

I knew that when I moved into my flat, I'd need to get as much sorted as I could as quickly as I could and that's exactly what I did.  I did loads of research online to find the highest quality essentials for my bedding and kitchen but for the best possible price and with the help of some friends, I painted, cleaned, utilised what I already had and put everything away as best I could.  Within 2 weeks my apartment felt like a home and over the last year, I've slowly added to the decor and furniture.

Quality for the best price has been very important to me throughout this process because while I'm on a budget, I'm buying for investment because these pieces are going to be with me for a long time.  I'm renting the place that I live in right now but I'm saving as much as I can so that one day, I can buy my own property.  I want my apartment to feel like a home and I'm so happy there but I would like the long term financial security of owning my own property eventually and I'm working so hard to achieve that goal.

One of my favourite things about my apartment are the balconies.  I've only decorated one as of yet but it gets so much use as it opens out from the lounge.  I bought the Tärnö table and 2 chairs from Ikea for the bargain price of £35 and 2 of the dark grey Justina Chair Pads for £4 a piece to give the chairs some added comfort.  This summer, I bought a big citronella candle in a light red glass jar to go on the table and some wine goblets for 79p each from Home Bargains which I'm discovering is a great place for homeware.  I love dining outside but I'm always so worried that I'll drop and smash my crockery so my dad has given me the plastic garden plates and glasses that I'd bought years ago for his house as he doesn't use them.

When I get the extra cash, I'm thinking about buying just one relaxation chair for the other balcony, perhaps one that reclines so that I can sit out there and read when the weather is good.  I like to have a slow morning, write and have breakfast and I think that it would be lovely to create a space where I could do that too.

Now I can use my balcony for dining, drinks with friends and for working on my laptop so it really is a great extension of my apartment for work, play and relaxation.  I really feel the value in having outdoor space and its something that I'm looking forward to having even more of when I buy a property.

I've always fancied the idea of having a kitchen with a living space that opens out onto the back yard or garden and its definitely on my tick list of things that I'm looking for when it comes to buying a home.  I'm keeping my options open though as if I see somewhere that I love that doesn't have the access to the outdoor space that I want then I can always get a quote from a bifold door online designer and create the exact look that I want.

It'll be so amazing to sit out on a patio with some plants and maybe even a BBQ.  The great thing is that I'll be able to take the all of the things that I've bought for my apartment with me and because I've not scrimped on quality and they're precisely my style, they'll suit my next place too.  However for the time being, I'm so happy in my apartment that I'm in no rush to buy anywhere.  When I've got enough money saved up and the right property comes along, it comes along but until then, I'm so happy in my home.  Who knows, maybe in the future I'll move in with my boyfriend!


Black Slogan Embellished T Shirt With Lattice Detail // Fern Distressed Denim Shorts use code WLV10 for discount (not valid on sale or outlet)

How do you utilise your outdoor space?  Whats your favourite thing about your home?

*This post has been written in collaboration with Direct Bifold Door

Monday, 11 June 2018

Paul & Joe Skincare Routine Review

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

At long last, I am sharing my review of the Paul & Joe Skincare line with you all.  I say at long last because I've been using it since winter 2016, after meeting up with the Paul & Joe team.  While I had intended to write about it long before now, life got in the way and now I'm onto my first and second repurchase of some of these products!

Paul & Joe are well established in the fashion industry and I've used plenty products from their makeup range too which is inspired by the current seasons trends however this was my first time delving into their skincare line.  The packaging looked simple and clean but pretty and as with everything that this brand produces, A LOT of thought has gone into each and every product.  Nothing is slap dash which I love about Paul & Joe, there's not a hugely extensive product line because each item takes so long to design, create and develop.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLovesThis skincare collection, inspired by the blue skies and olive trees of Italy, is designed to revive tired and dull skin which mine definitely has been over the last couple of years; its feeling exhausted!  The capsule skincare collection consists of a Cleansing Cream, Facial Oil, Herbal Lotion and Facial Cotton pads, all of which harness the powerful benefits of olive oil, along with powerful formulas packed full of ingredients such as polyphenol, oleic acid, and vitamin E.

A morning and evening skincare routine from Paul & Joe begins with the Cleansing Cream (also available here) which effortlessly removes all traces of make-up, dirt and impurities leaving my skin clean and feeling soft and smooth. Formulated with olive oil, this cleansing cream is rich in consistency and has a super soft, velvety texture that is a delight to apply.  I'm a firm believer that taking care of your skin is like an act of self care and massaging something like this into the skin feels so indulgent!

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Whether I'm wearing a really light base or a much heavier foundation, it is able to remove it.  Waterproof mascara isn't a problem with this cleanser either; perhaps the olive oil within the formula helps to break down the products.  Either way, my skin is left feeling clean, soft and hydrated.

A little goes a long way with this cleanser.  I use about a 10pence piece amount and massage it quickly between my fingers before applying it to my face and neck in circular motions before rubbing it off with a warm, damp face cloth.  I like to double cleanse at night if I've been wearing heavy makeup through the day so sometimes I'll use a micellar water first (I'm currently using one from Matis) and other times I'll just use the Cleansing Cream twice.

While the pot it comes in isn't ideal when my nails are long, there's a little spatula that comes with it which makes scooping the product out much less messy and keeps it more hygienic.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

After cleansing, the next step in the routine that the brand recommends is to apply a small amount of Paul & Joe Beaute The Oil onto a cotton pad and sweep it over the skin in upwards motions.  This product helps to promote skin repair and restoration by encouraging a healthy turnover cycle for a soft, firm and lustrous complexion.

It is absolutely STUNNING and quite unusual to find a product that works in this way but in an oil formula, I find.  Please don't get me wrong though, it doesn't feel heavy, oily or greasy at all and it doesn't clog the skin or sit on it.

The Oil is made up of a blend of plant-derived oils which include the ancient olive tree olive oil and olive squalene, which penetrates every cell of the outer layer of the skin, making it ultra nourishing.  It helps the product to reinforce the cellular lipids that enhance the skin’s ability to retain moisture. It is also infused with antioxidants to help maintain the balance of the skin and provide essential moisture.

This is very much one of those have to try it to believe it products.  Everything from the texture to the impact it has on the skin is beautiful!

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Next up, is the Paul & Joe Herbal Lotion which you apply onto the skin after using The Oil and again, with the Paul & Joe Cotton Pads but this time in a rolling pressing motion.

It felt a little strange at first applying this to the skin after an oil but man alive, it works so well.  The Herbal Lotion gives the skin a replenishing boost of moisture and leaves it feeling and looking hydrated, nourished and incredibly smooth.

The ingredients in the Herbal Lotion are plant derived and infused with olive oil, olive leaf essence, lemon fruit extract and organic fennel essence, all of which help to regenerate the skin cells and repair UV-induced damage to the skin.  I love the way that my skin looks radiant after using this and it gives my complexion a beautiful natural glow.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The cotton pads that I talk about using are the Paul & Joe Facial Cotton Pads (also available here) which work really well with The Oil and The Lotion steps in the routine.  When I first got these to try, I thought that they were going to be really expensive but actually when I came to repurchase them from Beauty Bay, I didn't think that £3 was a bad price at all.

While the products work just as effectively with other cotton pads, these ones are especially good because I feel as though less product is absorbed into the pad and wasted.

They enable the Paul & Joe skincare products to be applied to the skin most effectively and I like to save them for use with only these products.  They're made up of a couple of outer layers with fine fibres that reduce friction on the skin and then they have a soft fibre inner layer which gives the pads a bouncy texture so they don't disintegrate with use. These layers allow the cotton pads to dispense any oil and lotion that has been absorbed into them which means that you're getting the optimum benefits from the skincare you're applying.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

In terms of the Paul & Joe skincare routine, that's it.  3 simple steps with 4 products, if you count the Cotton Pads.  However if I'm using them as part of my morning skincare routine then I'll also pop on an SPF afterwards.

The one that I used throughout the winter months was the Paul & Joe Limited Edition Suncream in SPF 10.  They do have a higher SPF formula however I haven't tried that one although I'd like to as I do usually prefer an SPF 30 or 50 even for in the UK but I think that an SPF 10 is fine for use during the cool months when the sun isn't as strong.

This suncream has a a smooth and creaming formula that leaves the skin feeling moisturised, soft and smooth but most importantly, protected and it prevents redness induced by UV-rays too.  It feels lightweight on the skin and doesn't leave it looking shiny or greasy, or clog your pores which is something I'm always talking about when it comes to SPF; its so important to use one like this that is specifically designed for the face so that it doesn't cause spots.  SPFs are designed to stay on the skin after all so even on days when I'm not wearing any makeup, I'll always double cleanse when I've used this.

Paul & Joe Skincare is available from Beauty Bay and Amazon as well as other shops online such as ASOS and Selfridges but the products go out of stock SO quickly because they're in such high demand.  My best advice is to head to their website here and you will see the stockists linked and you can click over to see if they have the product you're looking for in stock. 

Want more Paul & Joe?  Check out my other review posts:
Pearl Foundation Primer // Mulberry Spice Lipgloss // Autumn Makeup // Spring Makeup


What products have you tried from Paul & Joe?  What skincare would you recommend?  I'd love to know what you have in your current routine!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Makeup Doesn't Give Me Confidence

Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves Yours Clothing Summer Outfit

How often do you wear makeup? Does it make you feel more confident?  

Recently, I was asked how much more confident wearing makeup makes me feel and the honest answer is, it doesn’t.  I've never been someone who has felt as though I've needed to wear makeup in order to feel confident in everyday life, I've always just worn it if I've wanted to or if I've had the time to actually apply it, as is quite often the case.

When I was at school, a lot of girls wore makeup because their friends were but I'm not one to conform in that way in an educational or workplace setting.  Others wore it to cover spots and acne scarring which thankfully, I've never had to deal with to any great extent.

When I first started going out clubbing, I was really getting into makeup and loved how creative it made me feel.  Admittedly, I used it in order to make me look more mature and also to express my creativity because back then, it was virtually impossible to do that with the extremely limited selection of plus size clothing that was on the highstreet for young women.

Back then, I wouldn't have gone out to a bar or club on a night out without wearing makeup so I guess there was a time when it did matter to me because I think on an evening out, it was the done thing and made me feel dressed up and included so I wouldn't have gone out without it.  Perhaps I felt worried as though I would stick out for not being as dressed up as everyone else, I don't know but these days, its totally different.  I'll wear it if I want to and I'll step away from the dressing table when I don't want to, my confidence isn't determined by either.

It's funny how things change as you get older.  I don't enjoy getting ready and putting on a face full of makeup quite as much as I used to and I don't like the feeling of wearing thick make up like I used to either; I much prefer to be able to see my skin and features and to be able to touch my face without worrying that I've smudged my makeup!

However I do still love the freedom and creativity that makeup brings to the table.  I love that I'm able to enhance my features and to create different looks that complement my outfits, lifestyle and mood.  Most of the time, I don't wear makeup during the day and whether or not I wear it on a night out is something that I feel really indifferent about.  I do like to put some on for nights out in town as its not a weekly occurrence like it was in my late teens and its nice to sort of differentiate my look from my daytime appearance but at the same time, I'm quite happy going out just as I am without any makeup on.  My friends are there to see and interact with me, not to judge me on what I am or am not wearing.  I don't need makeup to feel confident as I'm comfortable, confident and happy in myself already.  Plus, I actually like how I look without makeup.

Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves Yours Clothing Summer Outfit

I also love to be able to go for a curry on Ocean Road without worrying that I'm going to smear a bold lip all over my face and I'm sure my boyfriend much prefers it when I'm not asking if my lippy is smudged every 10 minutes haha!  These photographs were taken on our most recent curry night and as you can see, I'm makeup free and confident.

Wearing my gorgeous White Smock Blouse With Lace Ladder Detail and Floral Print Cropped Jeggings, both from Yours Clothing gave me a little boost though, not of confidence just of the happy feeling that comes with a new outfit that you feel great in.  These pieces are perfect for the UK summer and pair so well with my girlie Alexander Wang Rockie bag and Michael Kors sandals.  Its a cool, laidback summer outfit that looks gorgeous with freshly washed hair and a hydrated, fresh complexion.

A lot of people say that they like to go makeup free every now and again to let their skin "breathe".  While the top level of skin is actually dead so it doesn't technically "breathe," I totally get what they're saying.  I love the feeling of not having anything sitting on my skin; its so refreshing, especially when my skin is hydrated and nourished.

I do love to look after my skin though and always have so I'll never be without my skincare on a daily basis.  I also like to enhance my eyes with semi permanent eyelash extensions and brow grooming on a monthly basis which give my face a little boost and make me feel as though I'm wearing makeup when I'm not really.  I wake up in the morning, quickly do my skincare and when I look in the mirror, I feel good to go.

3D Russian Volume Eyelash Extensions from Essential Beauty Washington on WhatLauraLoves

I've been going to Essential Beauty in Washington for more years than I care to remember.  Deb is simply fabulous at all styles of eyelash extensions, especially the ones that I have applied; 3D Russian Volume which give a gorgeous, fluttery look.

The lashes make such a difference to how I look and I feel so happy when I have them on.  Its like looking in the mirror and having perfect lashes, every single day without having to apply coats and coats of mascara.  Even with makeup, my lashes never look as amazing as they do when I've got the lash extensions on.  They're really long lasting too if you take care of them and I only need to go for infills every 3 weeks which makes them ideal for busy bees on the go.
Before and After Microblading Eyebrows
Credits: Zwivel

I also get a brow tint and wax each month, usually by Claire at Sheer Indulgence Mobile Beauty Therapy.  Having well groomed brows lifts the face, frames it and creates a feature of the eyes.

I've even thought about having my eyebrows microbladed as I've seen some incredible results.  Imagine waking up everyday with fabulous looking brows that help your features to stand out to their absolute best!  It would be awesome but since the effect is quite long lasting, I'm definitely going to have to do my research to make sure I find someone who is the best of the best to do them for me!

However my confidence in myself wont change whether I have them done or not.  There's a lot of power to be found in loving yourself for who you are and feeling confident in yourself and your abilities.  It means that any beauty treatments are only complimenting your confidence, not defining it.

Does makeup give you confidence?  How often do you wear it?  What beauty treatments do you have done?

Friday, 8 June 2018

Is This What Happy Feels Like?

WhatLauraLoves Happy Wellbeing Simply Be Bra

You know that feeling when things are too good they can’t possibly be true?

I feel like that, as though I’m waiting for the bubble to burst because I can’t believe that my life is working out the way that it is.

When I look back to this time last year, it blows my mind how different things are now.

WhatLauraLoves Happy Wellbeing Simply Be Bra

Life has been transformed and out of the darkness has come the most beautiful light. I’m surrounded by the best people, my inner circle is filled with so much love and although life is tough, I’ve never felt richer.

Sometimes these days I literally sit and cry about how happy I feel. I know that might sound daft but I had this feeling bubbling away for months and I didn’t know what it was. It feels so overwhelming and it took me ages to work out that this is what being REALLY happy feels like.

WhatLauraLoves Happy Wellbeing Simply Be Bra

Its the feeling of constantly having butterflies in my stomach.  It bubbles right the way up to the back of my throat and creates this huge smile on my face; a sense of excitement like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Eventually I just decided to go with it and accept that this is what happy feels like.

WhatLauraLoves Happy Wellbeing Simply Be Bra
Over the last few months, I've found that life just gets better and better.

I appreciate the little things way more than I ever have like how good it feels to catch the last of the summer sun on my skin, sitting on the balcony after a productive day.

Feeling the warmth of my man's arms around my waist when I'm brushing my teeth before bed.

Tasting the freshest food and trying new recipes.

Seeing how the colour of my new Daisy Lace Plunge Wired Bra pops against my Bali tanned skin and counting down the days until I fly back.

Walking into a tidy room and enjoying every inch of my home.

Its the little things.

WhatLauraLoves Happy Wellbeing Simply Be Bra

My life has changed so much in recent years; it’s led me to believe that you create your own happiness in life. It’s a hard lesson to learn but NO ONE is coming to save you. You have to do it for yourself.

Choose to be happy, attract the good and live the life you want to lead; you deserve it!

How does happy feel for you?

Daisy Lace Plunge Wired Bra (use code WLV10 for DISCOUNT girls!)

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali

Satay Chicken at Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

A warm welcome awaits you at Apa Kabar Restaurant in Sanur.

Located just around the corner from the Bali Kembali Hotel where I was staying and chosen for that reason, Apa Kabar is an authentic Indonesian restaurant serving tasty food and great drinks with a chilled out vibe.

Whether you’re a party of one or have brought the whole family, they have the space and staff to cater to you.  Seating is outside or inside and you can take your pick.  I opted to dine al fresco with the gentle hum of passing traffic from the street, which is nice as it feels like true Bali.  The restaurant is set back a little off the road with a pavement and a couple of steps to separate it and while its not a heavily congested road, the traffic was pretty frequent while I was there.

While Apa Kabar is easy to find and get to, they also offer a free local pick up service for those staying in the local Sanur area, not necessary for me but very cool all the same.

Free Transport Service at Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

The drinks menu at Apa Kabar is pretty extensive with a range of cocktails, fruit juices, soft drinks, beers and wines available.  There’s a bar out front with comfortable chairs around it if you’re looking for somewhere friendly and welcoming for drinks only perhaps while catching up with friends back home using the free WiFi (the code was Awesome21 while I was there!) or for a night cap after your meal.

Dining at Apa Kabar is great if you want to enjoy traditional dishes, served in well presented way.  The menu is out front for you to look through and some of their most popular dishes are photographed too, which is great for tempting you to try something new.  Often a lot of people will stick with the same dishes because they don’t know what to expect from something they haven’t tried before but the photos help with that.

After a quick look at the menu to check that there was a couple of the Balinese dishes on there that I’d been missing on my plate since my last visit to the country, I ventured to the steps for a table and was greeted immediately by a happy, smiling chap in smart, Indonesian dress.

After choosing my table, I was brought a complimentary fruity alcoholic shot and a couple of pieces of garlic bread which was the perfect appetiser for a hungry solo traveller after a LONG journey from the UK!

Free Transport Service at Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

Service was chilled but efficient in taking my order and I like that I was asked whether I’d like the starter and main I ordered to be brought together or separately.  I chose the latter as I wasn’t in a rush and the vibe was so relaxed, I didn’t feel self-conscious dining alone.

Light background music playing modern chart hits from the likes of Rhianna and Little Mix combined well with the gentle chatter of other hungry travellers and sounds from the road to create an atmosphere that was chilled, inviting and accepting.  There was another solo traveller while I was there, along with a couple of duos and a few groups of around 5 or 6 people.  The ages of guests dining ranged from pre teens to retirees, which I think is a testament to how well this restaurant caters for all.

Spring Rolls at Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

In no time at all, I was enjoying a small bottle of Bintang (19,900rp.) with an ice cold glass; the perfect drink for a warm, balmy night in Bali.

For starters, I ordered the spring rolls (28,900rp.), which were crisp and jam packed with veggies.  While it may seem like a pretty standard option to pick, spring rolls really are a must try over here because they’re really tasty, very affordable particularly for the portion you receive and they’re not like the ones you’d order from a takeaway or buy in the supermarket back home.  The roll itself is thicker than the light, thin sheets the ones I usually have are made with and they’re much bigger too; the result is more crispy and textured on the outside and softer on the inside.  Perhaps it’s the difference between Indonesian and Thai or Chinese spring rolls, I’m not sure!

Two were served, each cut in half and well presented on a bed of shredded cabbage, a lettuce leaf and a slice each of tomato and cucumber.  Drizzled with a sweet and sour sauce over the top, they were full of flavour and the ideal welcome to my first meal in Bali.

Satay Chicken at Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

For my main, I picked out a dish that I had really been missing since I was last here and that’s Satay Chicken (56,900rp.).  Nothing compares to it back home and I already know I’ll be enjoying many portions of it over the time that I’m in the country!

Uniquely served over hot coals are small pieces of marinated chicken on skewers.  Perfectly cooked and succulent, they’re ideal to be enjoyed immediately but if you leave them over the coals for a little while like I did, they become a little crispier with the marinade stickier.  Absolutely delicious, especially when dipped in the thick peanut sauce served on the side.  If you think you’ve enjoyed the peanut sauce with satay chicken in the UK, then you really haven’t tried anything yet!  The peanut sauce that accompanies this dish in Bali is incredibly thick, indulgent and not to be missed!

With the chicken satay, there’s the choice of steamed rice or the fried rice that I chose to try something different and I was so pleased that it wasn’t oily when it arrived.  Served with the same lettuce, cucumber and tomato garnish as the starter and a generous handful of prawn crackers, this dish was plentiful, well presented and full of flavour.

After dining, I was comfortably full and feeling very relaxed.  I hadn’t once felt nervous about dining or taking snaps of my food on my own and I wasn’t rushed out of the door once I’d finished.  In fact, the service was a little slow once my plate had been cleared and the bill took a little while to arrive once I’d asked for it.  Usually that wouldn’t bother me on holiday as I love to relax, chill out and settle into the easy was of life in a more laid back country but at this point, the jet lag had hit me and I felt like I was going to fall asleep at the table!

Apa Kabar is very reasonably priced but be aware that 10% government tax and 5% service charge will be added to the bill, which is standard practice in Bali.  Mine came in at a total of 121,555rp. (105,700rp. plus the tax and service charge at 15% of 15,855rp.) which equates to an incredibly affordable £6.48 at the rate that I exchanged at (1GBP = 18750.00rp).

Bintang and Spring Rolls at Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

During my stay in Bali, I dined here a for a second time (those spring rolls are just THAT good!) and this time there was live music playing with a guitarist singing blues hits.

Apa Kabar is open for drinks only too, you don't have to eat a meal at the restaurant to come here.  I also sat on the high armchair stools at the bar for drinks while I worked away on my laptop and made some WhatsApp calls back home.  These chairs are mega comfortable and I could sit for a few hours on them without my legs going numb!  This is a great spot for WIFI as the connection was really strong.  The waiter behind the bar is so friendly and would often bring over nuts to enjoy as a snack and fruity shots throughout the night.  Now that's great service!

Apa Kabar Restaurant Review in Sanur, Bali on UK Lifestyle & Travel Blog WhatLauraLoves

Big on taste and atmosphere, little on price, I’d certainly recommend dining at Apa Kabar if you’re in the Sanur area!

Address: Apa Kabar Restaurant, JL. Danau Tamblingan, No. 190 Sanur Bali
Phone: 0361 – 282153, 286385
Free Local Pickup: YES
Free WiFi: YES


Thursday, 31 May 2018

How Dancing Is Good For Your Mind, Body & Spirit

WhatLauraLoves In The Style Curve Outfit

When I was a little girl, I briefly attended dance classes.  While I can't remember them, I know that I did tap as my mam has a photograph of me in a little blue frilly leotard with tap shoes on.  Very cute, even with my hair cut that looked as though she'd plonked a mixing bowl on my head and cut around it.

Dancing is something that I've loved to do throughout my life although admittedly, its been more free-styling in my bedroom or doing the Ferry Two Step in a bar since I quit those classes.  I wish I'd kept those traditional classes up because its a great hobby to have but I do still believe that the benefits of dancing can be felt regardless of whether you're dancing in a studio wearing the coolest Move U sportswear, in your bedroom or at a fitness class in the gym.

Dancing can positively impact your mind, body and spirit and its definitely a tool that I instinctively use to perk up my mood if I'm ever feeling a little low.  Its also the go to reaction when I'm excited or happy about something.  When something good happens, I always dance about; I can't help it.

My dad often jokes how my mam and I are exactly the same when we get a new outfit as we try it on and dance about in front of the mirror!

WhatLauraLoves In The Style Curve Outfit

Dancing for me is not only a great way to exercise but its an amazing form of escapism too.  With working in social media, my phone is constantly going off with notifications left, right and centre.  I struggle to switch off and be completely present in the moment but that's exactly what attending a Zumba class gives me; an hour without my phone, moving to the beat, keeping fit while clearing my mind.  Its as good for the spirit as it is for the body and mind.

A lot of people are worried that they'll not be coordinated enough for dancing but I've actually found that the more I've gone to dance fitness classes, the more my coordination, balance and agility has improved which benefits me in everyday life too as I feel more spritely day to day.  Dancing helped with my memory too as although a lot of the steps in fitness classes are repetitive, there are several different moves that go together to create the overall dance.  I've even tried Aqua Zumba which is not only so much fun but a great way to keep fit without having pressure on your joints as the water takes your weight.

These fitness classes at the gym are awesome for meeting new people too.  When I first moved to the town I live in now, I didn't know many people so going to a group was a good way to make friends with others that I shared a common interest with.

WhatLauraLoves In The Style Curve Outfit

Whatever your age, anyone can get involved in dance.  You don't even need to spend money on a gym membership.  There are so many awesome youtube channels like The Fitness Marshall and Dance Fit With Jessica that are great for following along to in your living room.  I roll back the rug and play a couple of videos through a couple of times on days where I want to be active but don't have much time.

Aside from tutorials online and classes, I love to just dance about the house in my day to day life.  Its great for lifting my mood and makes completing chores more fun!  Its one of my favourite ways to enjoy dancing along with going out with my girls of course.  While our nights out aren't as wild as they used to be, we do still love to dance!

I'd love to know how you incorporate dance into your life!

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