Monday, 19 March 2018

Lee Stafford Bleach BLEAch BLondes Hair Care Review

Lee Stafford Bleach BLEAch BLondes Hair Care Review

When I was in comprehensive school, the hair care brand that I lusted after was always Lee Stafford.   From its very first launch, the bright, bold, pink packaging on the shelves reeled me in.  I bought my first bottles with my pocket money when I was about 13/14 and I've been using it on and off ever since.

Lee Stafford are the brand that I've bought products from for the longest time and I love that they constantly deliver fabulous results after every wash.

Lee Stafford Bleach BLEAch BLondes Hair Care Review WhatLauraLoves UK Beauty Blogger

My hair is naturally a mid blonde but it is warm toned whereas I prefer my hair to be a cooler blonde.  I've gone for a variety of different cool blonde looks over the last couple of years since I've been going to the incredible Loreal Pro salon, Frances Marshall in Sunderland.

Up until last month, I was getting a full head of pre lightener (the none scary name for bleach) with the L’Oreal Metallics Ash Blonde Colour (INCREDIBLE- 3 parts tone to one part colour) with my Smartbond treatment in.  From my last visit, I've started to have a darker ash blonde colour applied throughout my hair with just a few highlights across the top section, followed by a toner and of course, the L'Oreal Smartbond treatment.  Frances Marshall use Smartbond in EVERY colour to keep the hair bonds as healthy and strong as they can be when you're having colour treatments!  These salon professional colour and toning products neutralise the warmth in my hair and give my hair the ash blonde colour and tone that I love but maintaining that at home is really important so that I can enjoy my colour for longer.

Since my hair naturally kicks out a lot of warmth, I've really had to try lots of different silver/purple shampoos and conditioners over the years to see what works for me.  There are plenty of posts on my blog on shampoo and conditioner recommendations for ash blonde hair and today I'm going to share with you another that I've used for a good couple of years now, ever since I saw Mikhila talk about it on Twitter and Youtube and thats the Lee Stafford BLEAch BLondes range from Boots.

Lee Stafford Bleach BLEAch BLondes Hair Care Review WhatLauraLoves UK Beauty Blogger

Since going to the salon is a luxury, in between visits I use a range of products to keep my hair looking and feeling its best; generally thats a colour toning product once a week with nourishing hair care in between.

The Lee Stafford BLEAch BLondes hair care range is absolutely fantastic for prolonging my colour and never fails to make my hair look beautifully ash blonde.

The BLEAch BLondes Shampoo and Conditioner is a genius range that was created especially for hair that is bleached whether that's a full head, highlights or a fashion colour.  It promises no more brassiness, fade or breakage, just beautiful blonde hair that dazzles and shines.

Lee Stafford Bleach BLEAch BLondes Hair Care Review WhatLauraLoves UK Beauty Blogger

The BLEAch BLonde Shampoo is a moisturising shampoo that lightly tones, refreshes and restores my blonde hair to the beautiful pure ash salon colour I love.  I use it as I would any other shampoo; massage through wet hair and rinse.  Sometimes, if my hair is looking particularly warm, perhaps if I've been out in the sun on holiday, then I'll leave it on for a couple of minutes but not any longer.

Usually when you leave blonde shampoos on longer than you directed, you get temporary violet tones, however, I found out by mistake that with these products you get a temporary pink tone to your hair. In all fairness, I actually really liked the effect this gave to my hair and it was perfect for a week or so before it washed out during the summer, but to combat this make sure you follow the instructions carefully. Lee Stafford are hair experts and know what they are talking about!

This shampoo contains purple pigment that prevents blonde hair turning brassy, or canary yellow. The combination of Lee Stafford's Pro-Blonde complex of panthenol, chamomile and moringa seed extract, are a fusion of multi-tasking ingredients that help keep hair squeaky clean, while encouraging natural shine to truly glow so that it doesn't feel stripped or dry after use like some toning hair care ranges can. This shampoo offers 21st century colour protection, which promises to help stop your hair colour from fading with heat styling, sunlight and damaged caused by UV.

Its amazing how much your hair colour can fade even from just straightening it as the heat causes havoc so even if you're not wanting to be ash blonde like me, if you hair is coloured then you really need to be using hair care that prevents colour fade.

After the shampoo, I apply the the BLEAch BLonde Conditioner which helps to ensure the hair colour is locked in and stays moisturised, sleek and silky soft. Using this as part of the BLEAch BLonde regime helps to ensure your hair looks healthy, glossy, sleek and smooth.  I love the way my hair feels after using this conditioner as it leaves it feeling so soft without weighing it down and causing my oily hair to become greasy more quickly!

There's also the Lee Stafford Moisturising Treatment from this brand to use once a week if you feel as though you're wanting a deep hair treatment for extra moisturise and repair.  I haven't used it before but I've been told great things from a fellow ash blondie!

Lee Stafford Bleach BLEAch BLondes Hair Care Review WhatLauraLoves UK Beauty Blogger

In addition to the shampoo and conditioner, there’s also the Lee Stafford BLEAch BLonde Tone Correcting Conditioning Spray.  You simply spray the lightweight mist onto damp hair after every other wash and comb through which is easy to do as it feels quite conditioning and almost detangling in the hair.

This spray contains violet pigments that are designed to combat the brassy yellow tones that I don't love and it just leave a much more icy, cool look on platinum and ash blonde hair.  It isn't strong enough to use on its own without a toning shampoo and conditioner but really boosts the effect of these and the appearance of the hair when used as part of a colour protecting and toning hair care routine.

I absolutely love Lee Stafford products and the BLEAch BLonde range is one of the best, super strength ones out there in the shops and the one that I consistently go back to.  It never fails to make my hair look beautifully ash blonde!

The full Lee Stafford range is available at Boots and they often have 3 for 2 offers on, so you can get the full routine for less.


If you love this post then perhaps you'll like my other Lee Stafford posts:

What are your favourite Lee Stafford products?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

How To Set Goals To Improve Your Life & What Works For Me // with Plus Size Spring Outfit Inspiration

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

When I first drafted this post, the new year was fast approaching and if you are anything like me, then you'd have been looking ahead to your goals for 2018.  Not everyone thinks upon a new year as a fresh start but I like to.  January 1st marks the first page of a 365 day book for me and in 2018, I fully intended to seize everyday.

Now we're into March and I'm chuckling to myself because life really does have a funny way of working out for the best if you work at it; sometimes its about being a little selfish and sticking to your guns.  Despite some awesome highs, January was a massive let down for me and it saw the things I wanted to achieve, especially around my stress levels, anxiety and well-being becoming heightened rather than improved however I kept my focus in my career and private life, looked to the positives and low and behold, by the end of February, I was singing my way into March a much happier, more fulfilled me.

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

While I don't want to speak too soon, I really feel as though things in my life are looking up for me and I'm the happiest I've been in a really long time across the board.

I've had my eyes opened to those who don't have my best interests at heart and have streamlined my inner circle of trust, been freed from work that was holding me back and causing more stress than it was benefitting me financially and I've finally taken a day off.  Life feels great!

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

The key really is to set specific goals for the aspects of your life that you want to work on, track and monitor them closely and to never lose sight of what you really want. 

Its so easy to get carried away with setting too many goals and making so many resolutions that they become unrealistic.  A couple of years ago, I decided to scrap all of the lists of resolutions I'd tried and failed at and made the resolution to NEVER make another bloody new years resolution again.

Instead, I set one very clear goal and smashed it.  Keeping focused on that one goal enabled me to change my life for the better over the last two years and although I've faced some of the toughest challenges of my life so far, I really believe that I'm living my best life now.  Perhaps one day I'll write all about it on my blog but for now, I'm continuing on my journey with my next goals which all feed into my overall aim in life; to be happy.

At the moment I'm focusing on creating a work/life balance and a big thing that will enable me to achieve that is being stable financially.  I work so much that I finished last year really craving just one day off where I could wake up without my alarm and I really wanted to experience the feeling of being bored because to be quite honest, I can't remember the last time I actually was bored and didn't have anything to do, worry about or think about!

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

From what I've learnt, when choosing your goal for the year ahead, I'd really suggest focusing on your life now and what you want to do to improve your life for your future happiness.  Instant gratification is all well and good but how do you guarantee that happiness in the years to come?

Striking a balance between living and enjoying your life now and continuing to love it in the future is key.

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

Once you've decided on what it is that you really want and need in your life, then you need to look at the steps that you can take to achieve that goal and when, realistically, you'll be able to achieve it by.

Don't set yourself up to fail by giving yourself too short a timespan to achieve your target.  If, for example, you want to learn a new language then think about it this way; you didn't learn English overnight so you're not going to become completely fluent in a new language after one class either.  Anything that you really want in life requires hard work, dedication and focus.  Stick at it because in the end, you'll thank yourself for it.

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

Being knowledgeable about whatever it is that you want to achieve is really important because it'll enable you to make more informed choices and plan the steps towards your goal more effectively because you'll know exactly whats involved in achieving it.

Take it slow and do your research.  For example, if you're trying to eat more healthily or perhaps you're wanting to save money by eating or preparing food at home rather than going out, have a look online and consult others for the best way to do things.  For me, I used to spend a lot of money eating out so when I needed to rein that spending in, I started researching the best meals to make at nighttime for dinner that I could then enjoy cold on the move or reheat the next day for my lunch, then I looked at the Tupperware that would be the best option to carry it in but for the best price so that I could keep my spending to a minimum and not sabotage my financial goals.  Its generally not a good idea to ruin one goal while trying to achieve another!

Another example was when I was doing my first big food shop for my apartment.  The first one is always more costly and far larger than you expect it to be because if you're starting from scratch then you need all of the essentials that you wouldn't necessarily buy every week like sea salt, cooking oil, herbs and spices.

My focus was on creating healthy, delicious meals that were dairy free while sticking to a budget so that I could achieve my financial goals.  To help me, I decided that if I was starting fresh then I would buy only the things that I really needed to create the meals that I would usually make, rather than buying a jar of a random spice that I'll only use once before it'll sit unused in the cupboard for the rest of eternity.

Since I found out that I am dairy intolerant, I've really had to pay close attention to what is inside the food that I'm eating and I buy far less processed food than I ever have because they often contain so many unnecessary ingredients.  I'm so much more aware of the advantages of different types of food and ingredients too and make healthier choices when I'm doing my food shopping so that I can be more relaxed with my choices when I eat out as a treat, seen as though when you eat out you have less control over what is used in your food.

I'm not getting any fat into my diet from milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream, so I have to increase my intake of fat from other sources such as red meat, oily fish, avocado and the oil that I use for my cooking.  When I'm making my meals at home, I use rapeseed oil a lot of the time because it has less saturated fat than a lot of other cooking oils and it is higher in unsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats so it is better for me while still increasing my fat intake.  There are so many rapeseed oil benefits over using other oils but I wouldn't have known about them and how they could help me to achieve my goals had I not done my research first.

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

Visualising your goals really helps too whether thats with a vision board with images of what your life will be like when you've reached your goal, how you'll feel and what your goal will look like to you, a chart if you're more of an analytical person or a spreadsheet; use whatever works best for you.

The great thing about having something visual is that you can see at a glance where you're up to and how far you've got to go.  If saving money is your aim then even simply drawing a piggy bank divided up into different milestones that you can colour in when you reach each one can be a great motivator.

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

When you've broken your goal down into the steps that you need to take to achieve it, you need to make sure that each of these mini goals is tangible and timely.  That is to say, they need to be something that you can track and measure so that you know whether you're on course to completing them on time.

More importantly still, you need to be able to see if you're not getting to where you want to be so that you can reassess your goals and get back on track.

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

I find that setting smaller goals as part of a bigger objective actually motivates me even more because I feel increasingly successful with each little goal I hit.  The more successful I feel, the more I'm spurred on to achieve the next goal.  Its all about mindset!

Don't forget to reward yourself when you achieve your mini goals but make sure its not counterproductive to your end goal.  For example, if like me you're trying to become more financially secure, don't reward yourself by splashing the cash on an expensive handbag just because you've hit your savings goal!  Positive reinforcement is great but don't lose sight of what you want to achieve overall!

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves
When I used to make resolutions, I found that they'd become a ticklist for the things that I was going to fail at in the first week of January and by March, well I'd have usually punished myself with negative self talk and would be in an even worse place than I was before the year had even begun.

Don't make the same mistakes as I did in the past.  If your 2018 hasn't got off to the best of starts, draw a line under it and focus on the future; its yours for the taking!!

Goal setting and plus size spring fashion by whatlauraloves

Streamline your goals, focus on whatever you want to achieve this year and SMASH IT!

Let me know how you get on :)  Oh and if you love my springtime outfit, you'll find all of the links below.


What are your goals for 2018? How are you getting on with them so far?  What spring outfits are you most looking forward to wearing?

*Photographs taken by Mark Dawson at the beautiful The Alnwick Garden

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

How I Remove My Body Hair; Legs, Intimate Area, Arms & Underarms

How to remove body hair

Around this time of the year, I start to see lots of memes popping up about hairy legs and letting our pamper routines fall by the wayside over the winter months.  Theres nothing wrong with that at all, hey, its our bodies and we have the right to be as hairy or hair free as we like.

I'm personally of hair free persuasion all year round; aside from my head and brows, I like to be as hair-free as possible.  Being hair free makes me feel cleaner, more perfected and ready for any outfit be it a bikini on a last minute holiday, my swimming costume for aqua fit or a dress for a night out.
Ever the beauty buff, I've tried loads of different hair removal products and techniques.  While I'm always up for trying out more, I've really got my routine down to a fine art.

For my intimate area, I don't mess around; I go the full Hollywood at The Little Waxing Company in Sunderland.  Sophie is Kim Lawless trained and the best around.  I've been going to her for years now and I doubt I'd ever trust anyone else with my lady garden!

Soap and Glory Scrub Exfoliating Gloves

For everything else on my body, I use a combination of shaving and hair removal cream.

It all starts in the shower with a good exfoliation.  I like to leave my skin product free when I'm shaving so that my razor isn't clogged up with excess oils.  Instead, I use the Soap and Glory Scrub Gloves to exfoliate my body.  They might be a little more expensive than other exfoliating gloves out there but they do the best job which is why I've been repurchasing them for years; I think its the way that they're textured as they have little bobbly bits on and they're thicker than the other exfoliating gloves that I've seen too.

After a quick rinse under the running water, I pop these gloves on, add a little shower gel and get scrubbing all over my body in circular motions.  They really great at sloughing away the dead skin and leaving my body feeling super clean and smooth.

Nair Hair Removal Cream and Post Hair Removal Balm

For the actual hair removal, my go-to brand for YEARS now is Nair.  I've reviewed their products in countless posts like this one all about my favourite hair removal products and this one all about upper lip hair removal but in todays post, I'm going to share with you another fave and thats the Nair Cleanse and Shave Triple Action Cream.

I love my underarms and legs to be smooth and hair free at all times so I'll run over my lower legs with a razor up to just above my knee every three or four days to keep them silky smooth and my underarms more or less every time I shower.  Granted shaving doesn't last as long as other hair removal methods but its quick and easy to do when I'm in the shower and it enables me to keep on top of my hair removal routine.

The new Nair Cleanse and Shave Triple Action Cream is really easy to use and makes shaving my legs comfortable and pain free as it reduces friction, ensuring that the razor can glide over my skin, cutting the hairs rather than me!  To apply, I simply smooth the creamy gel like consistency onto my skin and shave off, its really that easy.  It doesn't burn or irritate my skin and I get the really close shave that I love with it.  Using a shaving gel, foam or cream is important so that the hair doesn't clog up the razor and when I'm using one as swish as the Friction Free Shaving razor, I don't want to do that!

Friction Free Shaving Monthly Razor Subscription Review

If you don't know about Friction Free Shaving then get to know because they're a seriously awesome company; a razor subscription service designed to keep you fully stocked with a fresh razor each week.

Signing up is easy; you receive your chosen razor plus enough razor heads for a month and then on a monthly basis, Friction Free Shaving send out 4 German-engineered razor refills so that you can shave with a fresh one each week.  The razor and the heads are superb quality; I was thinking they wouldn't be up to much with being disposable but they're far from it.

There's several different ones to choose from, I have the rose gold one which is the world's first metal razor that has been designed especially for women.  The razor handle is weighted to give you the best feeling of control and comfort while shaving and it has a full 90-degree pivot head which enables it to move to fit the body's curves and contours.  The gorgeous rose gold finish is chrome plated to prevent it from rusting and it's even engraved with my name on it, now that's swanky!

The Rose razor has a lubricating Vitamin E strip and 6 stainless steel blades that are diamond coated to help the razor to glide effortlessly across the skin without tugging, cutting it or causing razor burn.  Theres even a styling bikini blade thats built into the back of the cartridge to tidy up any hairs that you're looking to keep; for me this isn't necessary but it is great if you're wanting more precision.

I cannot recommend Friction Free Shaving more highly.  Aside from the great idea of having fresh razors delivered on a monthly basis, they're actually the best razors for women that I've used.  Up until I tried them, I was actually using a mans razor because I felt as though they were so much better than all of the women's ones that I'd tried.  All of the points above with regards to the design of the razor are things that I've come to find are essential and its only when you go from using really bad, poorly designed one to an awesome one that you really see the difference!  Using Friction Free Shaving has given me the closest, smoothest, most comfortable shaving result I've ever had from a women's razor.

I also shave my arms too which I'm sure some of you may find a little strange as I've had some raised eyebrows when I've mentioned it amongst friends before.  I'd always been aware that my arms were really hairy and it wasn't something that I particularly fond of on myself.  My hair was too fair for laser hair removal to be effective and I'd tried bleaching the hair but I wasn't to impressed with the results.  I had so many people telling me stories about arm shaving and that it shouldn't be done but then I saw a video from Nikki Phillippi and she talked about how she shaved hers and one day I just thought, stuff it and shaved them.  I've never looked back.  The hair grows back slowly, its not darker or thicker or any of these rubbish horror stories that you hear.  They're just smooth and soft; I feel so confident about my arms now!

The Friction Free Shaving service itself is affordable in my opinion as the razors start from £5 a month.  The one that I have is £9 a month and there's also the option of adding on complimenting products such as a pre shave scrub, shaving cream and a post shave balm which can be sent out on a monthly basis too to keep you fully stocked.  I haven't tried these but I do use a post shave balm from Nair.

Nair Hair Removal Cream Review

For my upper legs, I always use a Nair hair removal cream.  I've used so many different ones over the years as they have lots of variations but always from the same brand, Nair.  I tried a different brand (the rival!) when I was a teenager and then again when I was gifted a tube as a blogger years ago and it left me with with sore, blotchy skin that felt burned on both occasions so I never deviate from Nair anymore.  If its not broke- don't fix it!

The one I've photographed here is the Nair Hair Remover Nourish Natural Argan Oil Shower Power Cream.  I love the shower power formulation the most because it stays on my skin while I shower until I scrape it off with the spatula or buff it off with a shower lily.  Using hair removal cream on my upper legs is so much easier for me as I can sometimes struggle to twist and reach to the backs and sides of my thighs when shaving, plus since its a large area, using the cream is quicker.

Using the Nair cream (available from Superdrug and Boots) means that all of the hair is taken care of in a quick and pain free way, leaving my skin smooth and free from irritation.  The hair on my thighs grows more slowly than on my lower leg, or so I find, so I tend to do this step once every 1.5-2 weeks and I find that that's sufficient for me.

After shaving and using the hair removal cream, I use the Nair Post Hair Removal Balm.  I smooth it onto my skin after shaving, concentrating on the areas that tend to be more sensitive or where the skin is rough like the front and back of my knees.  It calms the skin, minimises the risk of ingrown hairs, which also makes it great to use after a wax too and it moisturises the skin too.  I've found it particularly good for my underarms as the skin there seems to be drier than elsewhere on my body, presumably due to the use of deodorant.

Now all I need is for the weather to warm up so that I can get my legs out more often as at the moment, the only time they're on show is when I go swimming... hurry up summer!

How do you remove your body hair?  What is your routine?

Monday, 12 March 2018

Sharing #MyPetStory & Growing Up With Dogs

Ever since my parents first brought me home from the hospital as a newborn, I have had a fury best friend.  People often say that you're either a dog person or a cat person and for me and my family, we're definitely canine lovers which is a good job as I'm allergic to cats!

Back then, we had two labradors called Banner and Bracken who were both named after locations in the Lake District.  My dad used to volunteer as a mountain rescuer before I was born and the dogs would accompany him on many walks over the fells.  Banner was a gorgeous yellow lab with a fearless nature who once smashed straight through the front room bay window to greet my dad coming down the path and thankfully, despite being covered in claret, got away with only a tiny cut.  Bracken, the most beautiful black lab you'd ever see, was as loving as Banner but far more mischievous and would have even the most anti-dog person laughing at her antics.

It can be daunting bringing a newborn home when you have dogs but my parents have always said that it was as though the labs knew there was precious cargo on board and would stand guard by my crib, gazing lovingly at me as a little bundle inside.  I love how dogs, especially labradors are so loving and protective of their owners; they really were my dads besties and it broke his heart when they were no longer with us.

By the time I reached infant school, I had a new friend to play with.  A blue roan cocker spaniel called Tess.  She was my first experience of having a puppy and she was bundles of fun.  I remember having a pair of pink hippopotamus slippers and she'd chase me around the living room trying to bite them!

Tess was with me through all of my adventures as a kid; splashing in the river at Hamsterley Forest, playing in the sand down Seaburn beach and making friends with the farm animals at the Wolsingham Show.  From the moment she was fully inoculated, she came everywhere with us and was always a good sport; she even used to let me dress her up with a cap, sunglasses and one of my t shirts, long before any of the designer doggy clothing came into fashion!

Tess had the most long and fulfilled life of any dog I've known so although it was incredibly sad when she passed away, especially since she had been such a large part of my life right up until my college years, the pain was easier knowing she'd had a life filled with love.

Dogs are animals that love you unconditionally and they deserve that too.

It was a number of years later before I brought home the dog that I have now; a bichon frise called Daisy May, who couldn't be a more perfect example of the breed standard if she tried from appearance through to temperament.

We bought her from a champion breeder in Derby and I remember the excitement of the day that we went to get her like it was yesterday.  We drove for hours down the country with all of our puppy supplies in the car.  If I'm anything like I was when we got Daisy when I eventually have a child, I'm going to have to get a bigger house to store everything in!

From the moment I saw her, I knew she had to come home with us; she fitted into our family so perfectly.  Happy, playful, loyal and incredibly loving, not to mention a great little guard dog for the house that I lived in at the time.  We'd not long had our garage broken into and since I was living on my own a lot through the week and very shaken up, it pushed us over the edge to make our mind up on welcoming another dog into our family.

Daisy May was and has always been the company that I needed and the bark of protection to reassure me whenever theres a strange noise outside, at least she was once she found her voice.  When we first brought her home she was so quiet and would stay snuggled up in her bed for hours.  As she became more confident and found her bark, nothing would stop her.  She'd run around the house like a little white tornado and had a penchant for my underwear and Spongebob Square Pants pyjamas which was cute the first twenty times she did it but when she dropped a pink thong at the postman's feet, I could have wished for the ground to swallow me up!

We had three house bunnies at the time we got Daisy May and took her to the same vet for her inoculations.  They were amazing with her and really helped us with plenty of puppy tips and tricks as we were a little out of touch having not had a puppy for so long.  They recommended taking out insurance in case she ever had anything wrong with her and the first company we signed up with was actually Petplan Pet Insurancewho are the company that got in touch with me to ask me to share my pet story on my blog today.

Thankfully Daisy has never had any accidents but she did have a cancer scare a couple of years ago and had to undergo a major operation for such a little dog.  Having adequate insurance certainly gave us the piece of mind that we didn't have to worry about paying for her treatment, excess aside and meant that we could focus fully on her and her recovery.

I'm pleased to say that our vets were amazing and she had a really speedy recovery.  Getting her back to her usual self in no time was a good job because I don't know what I'd do without my little side kick!

One of my favourite memories of Daisy is actually when we took her to a puppy party at our vets.  They organise a 6 week course for puppies once they've had their inoculations and its all about interaction and getting them used to being around other dogs rather than teaching them strict obedience like dog training classes.

The puppy party took place every Saturday morning and all of the owners and dogs would sit around in a circle with their pups.  I'll never forget Daisy seeing a little pug for the first time or when she became besties with a german shepherd who was far bigger than her despite being younger.  They'd bound about the room together with Daisy running in between its long gangly legs!

Interacting with other dogs from such a young age has definitely stood her in good stead because now I can take her anywhere and she isn't as frightened of them as I think she would have been had she not got used to others as a pup!  There are so many pet stories I could tell you about Daisy May but looking back at her at those classes is definitely one of my favourite memories so far!

What is your pet story?  What pets do you have?

*This post is in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts are my own

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Taking Off With The In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

Take flight this spring and update your wardrobe with a gorgeous aviator jacket Amelia Earhart would be proud of!

Flying jackets are back and more on trend than ever before.  In leather, sheepskin, shearling or even a combination of all 3, this is one style that the highstreet loves just as much as the big name designers.  Countless celebs and fashion bloggers are wearing them right now and they're perfect for the cold weather that we haven't been able to shake off yet in the UK.

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

The great thing about buying your aviator jacket now is that its going to keep you warm and stylish while the weather is awful like this but come the autumn when the temperature drops again, you'll be able to pull it back out of your wardrobe and pick back up right where your stylish self left off.

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

Since the style has taken off, the shops are full of them once again so there's plenty to choose from and you needn't fork out a small fortune to get the look.  I love the way the Acne Studios aviator jacket looks but even if they did do it in size chunky and funky, I wouldn't have the disposable cash to splash on it.  If you do then I'm sure its a great choice as this particular style of jacket looks even better with age as you wear it in if its real leather, etc.

However for those of us who don't have the budget for the pricey designer version or simply want to put their money into experiences rather than possessions, then the highstreet and online stores have the most gorgeous styles at a tiny fraction of the price.

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

If you're into the traditional black and tan colour ways then the In The Style Curve Leara Black Faux Fur Lined Aviator Jacket is my top pick.  Worn with knee high boots and my oversized t shirt dress as styled up in this blog post.

Sizing wise, I'd suggest correlating your shape with the shape of the jacket and you shouldn't go far wrong.  Zipped up, on the hanger, the cut is quite boxy.  My shape is far from boxy as I'm a lot wider around my tummy than I am at my shoulders which always presents a bit of a problem when I'm looking for jackets like this as if bought to fit my tummy, they tend to be really big on my shoulders and if bought to fit across my shoulders, they end up being a real squeeze on my tummy, if they'll even fasten at all.

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

Aviator jackets are made to be worn over sized which is particularly great for if you're a fan of layering clothing like I am.  I love to wear a vest top and jumper or t shirt/top and cardigan underneath my jackets and I never fasten them.  Coats that fall below my hips get fastened but for shorter jackets, I let them be cool and casually open.  Because of that, I chose to go for the In The Style aviator jacket in my usual size rather than sizing up to accommodate my tum.

I'm so pleased I did as the fit is bang on over my chest and shoulders; its roomy but just in the way that an aviator jacket should be and feels like the perfect fit when its worn open in the relaxed style that is synonymous with the styling of these kinds of jackets.  It looks effortlessly cool and I think it would look too bulky on my shape if I were to zip it up because the material is really thick.

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

Even with just my oversized t shirt dress on underneath, I was so warm wearing this jacket.

The faux suede with the shearling lining is really cosy and while theres plenty room down the arms and in the body to layer up a jumper or cable knit cardigan underneath, I don't think I'd need to unless the Beast From The East reared its ugly head again.

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

I cannot tell you how great it feels to be wearing this jacket.  Its a style that I've lusted after every time it has taken off over the years so to finally have one feels like a long time coming.

All the details from the belts and buckles to the placement of the pockets and the oversized collar feels so in keeping with the aviator style so wearing it gives me that true fashionista vibe!

In The Style Curve Aviator Jacket WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger

You'll find the Leara Black Faux Fur Lined Aviator Jacket as part of the Curve Collection at In The Style in sizes 16-24 and as you'd expect from the ITS babes, its affordably priced.

Grab one before they sell out!


How do you feel about the aviator trend- will you be getting one?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

How To Spend Less & Save More

Luxe life, on a realistic budget from a North East girl boss; that's me.  I work hard for everything I own and have achieved but being an independent woman making ends meet with an apartment to keep, while still trying to have a touch of luxury in her life doesn't come easy thats for sure.

How do you define luxury though?  For me, its having the luxury to be able to treat myself to the odd spa day, theatre trip, a holiday, meal out with friends, something for my home, a bottle of incredible smelling perfume or an accessory that I really love from time to time.  However its not without sacrifice, saving and prioritising because I'd love to own my own home one day and that isn't found at the bottom of a Chanel handbag, sadly!

I've spoken about this in the past but I gave up with New Year's resolutions years ago because they always seemed to be a ticklist for the things that I'd fail at in January.  Instead, I set myself realistic goals with tangible targets and I work at them until the life changes become habit.

One aspect of my life that I've been working on since last summer is my finances.  I've always been good with money in that I'm great at making sure all of my bills are paid on time each month, saving for tax bills etc but now I'm focusing on securing my future.

So what does that look like to me?  For me right now, that means paying off debts, saving to buy a property somewhere down the line and still being able to live and enjoy life day to day.

Champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget, you know the drill girls.  Its great while you're young and have fewer responsibilities but 'I love the finer things in life' and 'I have expensive taste' doesn't quite cut it when you have rent and bills to pay.

There's plenty to think about when you have your own place from the monthly bills and annual payments to having a little set aside to cover unexpected expenses like an appliance or tech item breaking down.  Something that I've really realised though is how much of an impact making little changes to my spending can have on my overall lifestyle.

Whether its grabbing a coffee on the go or getting a taxi rather than the bus, one things for sure- it all adds up!

One of the first things that I started doing was to cut down on the amount of meals that I have out of the house.  I'm always on the go with work and its easy to end up eating out daily.  Now I take a packed lunch with me and buy multi pack bags of popcorn or crisps, tangerines and bottled water to keep in the car for snacking on the go.  A drink from a shop would usually cost me around £1 yet I can buy a 12 pack of 500ml bottles of water from Lidl for £1.49; its a no brainer really!  I also take my own water bottle out with me from home to make even more savings... plus I get to look sassy with the slogan!

Another saving I've made is on coffee.  I don't drink too many hot drinks but when I do, I try to enjoy ones at home or take an insulated cup out with me.  I used to be a regular at the Starbucks drive thru but now I reserve it for a treat as although they're lush, they're pricey especially if you're dairy intolerant!

The next area that I've saved on is my travel.  I changed from a BMW 3 Series M Sport to a BMW 1 Series Sport last summer and really felt the difference in my purse; everything from my tax and insurance to my running costs for diesel is cheaper.

However I don't always take my car when I'm going out.  I'm a lot more savvy when it comes to the mode of transport that I use now, especially since I live near to a bus station.

In the past, I'd always stick to driving everywhere but diesel and car parking can sharp mount up, especially if I have meetings all day in town.  Now I plan my schedule ahead so that if I have a week where I'll be in town most of the time, I'll leave the car at home and get a megarider ticket for the bus instead.  The weekly bus pass is ideal for me, especially as it saves a lot of money compared to buying a ticket daily.  I used to use the service when I was in college but I'd ride a lot more frequently then so benefitted more from the monthly version.  Either way, its a great way to save money.

There are certain beauty treatments that I like to keep up with; Hollywood waxing, gel nails and toes, lash extensions and a brow tint and wax.  The costs mount up but the lasting happiness I feel from having the treatments done is a huge benefit that outweighs the cost.

Still, I'm able to be savvy when scheduling my treatments.  I switched to 3D Russian Volume Lash Extensions at Essential Beauty because, although they're more expensive than standard lashes, they last longer so I can get them infilled every three weeks rather than two so I'm paying less money overall and only going once a month.  Then every now and again when I'm feeling the pinch, I'll go lash free and wear my Kiss lashes which are falsies that look oh so real.

Kiss lashes are really affordable, easy to find in Boots and Superdrug and come in a multitude of different styles so I can switch them up depending on how I'm doing my makeup.  I've been wearing them for years and they're always my go-to when I don't have my extensions on.  The Natural Flourish Blooming Lash line is my favourite because the lashes are multilayered yet are so lightweight and look really natural.  They're so fluttery, flirty and make my eyes appear really open.

Shopping around is as true for beauty treatments as it is for holidays.  Towards the end of last year, I switched nail technicians to an amazing lady with a wealth of experience who charges less than my previous place but for a better result.  She uses Gellish and it works so well on my nails that I get a good 3 weeks out of my manicure.  I get my brows done by her too as its in the comfort of my own home and really affordable.  Rather than getting a gel mani every two weeks, I now get my gel mani every three weeks, brows every six weeks and a gel pedi every nine weeks.  Its saved me a small fortune that I can save towards unexpected costs for my flat or for bigger annual costs like car and home insurance!

I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with loyalty cards over the years.  I'm a sucker for them really but there was a time when I couldn't close my purse for the amount of loyalty cards that were busting out of it.  Rather than bending my purse all out of shape, I stopped using them and now I have really streamlined the ones that I actually use.

Where possible, I use the iPhone apps as they're really handy for when I forget to bring the card with me but as a whole, the loyalty schemes that I get the most use out of are Boots and Nandos.  I save up the points so that when I'm really skint, I can still buy the beauty or healthcare products that I need and can still enjoy a meal out with my friends.  If you keep your points for when you actually need them, it feels like a treat and a bit of a lifesaver if you've got a Perinaise craving!

The trick with loyalty cards and freebies is to use the ones that will benefit you the most.  That way you're not deviating from your day to day habits but you're feeling the benefit.  The free dough balls at Pizza Express are a great example of this.  The last couple of times that I've been for a meal there (one of which you can read about in this dairy free food at Pizza Express post), they've given us a card with the offer of free dough balls on our next visit after giving feedback online.  I'm always on my phone so filling in a quick form isn't much of a hardship and it saves me the cost of a starter the next time I'm there.  Its a win-win really.  Plus they always have awesome deals on their website under the 'offers' section.

Whenever you go to a Pizza Express restaurant, always look up the individual restaurant by location on their website and check out the daily offers that they have applicable to that restaurant.  There's often great savings to be had like their express lunch for £6.95 for a pizza and soft drink, 25% off all food on a particular day or 3 courses for only £12.95 which is an absolute steal!

Thinking smarter for 2018 is a must, how will you be changing your ways to save money?
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