Thursday, 23 July 2015

Be Unstoppable! #LikeAGirl

I hate being female sometimes, I mean we have a lot to deal with don't you think? Whether it's having a paddy with the wardrobe, cursing the mirror on a daily basis, fighting that stress related breakout or surviving a wax appointment, we have a lot to contend with on a day to day basis.

I had an email about a current campaign going on with Always called #LikeAGirl and I wanted to share it  with you. Reason for this because right now with the run up to the wedding, all those things previously mentioned are in the forefront of my mind and it reminded me of hang ups during puberty. Now that I am the age I am, I can look back and see how far I've come. I wasn't true to myself back then and felt very boxed in and dictated by others around me, that essentially is what the Like A Girl campaign is all about.
The Always Puberty Education Program launched in the UK over 30 years ago and is designed to help support teachers and their students to embrace puberty, with confidence and long term commitments to the education of young people around the world. Going through puberty is such hard work, I remember it clearly and looking back wondering how I managed to get myself through it. I used to do lots of activities, but I quit, I started feeling very self conscious about my looks and dreaded social situations and in the end secluded myself.

 Last year, Always launched the #LikeaGirl campaign, challenging the negative perception of what it means to do something “like a girl”, so often used as an insult.'You're such a girl', 'don't be a girl about it', 'you fight like a girl', 'you throw like a girl', 'you run like a girl'... sound familiar? I'm not even sure how that is even an insult but for some reason it is. 

The reason I am writing this post is because this year, Always has launched the next exciting phase of the global campaign, unveiling an exciting global partnership with Ted-Ed to produce a series of educational videos that will be spread worldwide. As a girl who lost all my confidence I want to promote this campaign to show girls you are unstoppable, and that life has no limits regardless of gender.

According to research from the Always Confidence Study it show the following:

·         84% of UK girls who felt society puts girls into boxes said it had a negative impact on their lives
·         Almost all girls (88 percent) feel there is pressure for girls to conform to the way a girl is supposed to feel and act.
·         59% of girls lose confidence at puberty. Many never fully recover.f
·         The vast majority of girls (69 percent) who believe society puts girls in boxes believe that if society stopped pressuring girls they would be more confident
·         Girls are almost twice as likely as boys to say they did not feel comfortable doing an activity in school because of their gender.

Crazy isn't it? It truly is time girls took charge...

If you're interested to find out more about the campaign, have a look at Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones actress) speech about how she copes.

Get involved with the hash tag #LikeAGirl and join the conversation.  Watch the videos and feel empowered like I did/do. Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I can't attend a weight training class does it? My younger self may have thought so... but not now.  

*Written in collaboration with Always*

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Get On Ya Bike!

The other day when driving home we spotted two old (I mean old) Raleigh bikes that someone had dumped outside their house. Obviously as we need more bike ahem, we asked if we could take them. Nick was over the moon as I have my old Raleigh called Gertie, he wanted one to go with it and now had one from 1986 called Walter. 

With the Tour De France currently en route it is the perfect opportunity to embrace two wheels and get cycling. It isn't as scary as you may think, but if you're nervous get to grips with local cycle paths, quiet roads and maybe find a local SkyRide to give you that extra confidence boost. 

I used to think cycling was either one extreme or the other. The Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish people of the world who whizz about in lycra, or old Doris or Derek who pushes off the floor in order to get the bike going before pottering down to the local shops. I have discovered there is something past these stereotypes. Cycling can be quite fashionable especially with these lust of vintage frames to make a cracking beer bike or  simply for an eye catching ride... not to mention it's great for fitness too!

What do I suggest you need for cycling...

1. A Bike
Always a good start when cycling otherwise the rest may be a little tricky! With this you need to decide what kind of bike? Road bike, mountain bike, hybrid bike, e-bike, bmx bike, foldaway bike, vintage bike... there is a lot more than just two wheels as the possibilities are endless. If it's a simple back and forth, start with something cheap and build from there, bikes can get super pricey so make sure you enjoy it before you start cleaning out your bank account. Have a look on Gumtree, eBay, freecycle and local news bulletin boards, many people will be doing clear outs and you may get a free one. If you want a new one Decathlon do some good models for reasonable prices too, but shop about first before diving in.

2. A Helmet
I've got into numerous twitter arguments about this, many stating that it doesn't make a difference if you wear one or not. That's pure crap, always wear a helmet. I lose a lot of respect for anyone cycling without a helmet.  I know it crushes your hair but between that and getting your head crushed with out one... I know what I'd prefer. You don't have to just get the boring ones, if you have a vintage style bike you can get some vintage style helmets too. 

3. Road Safety
As I mentioned you may be a bit nervous about cycling on the road, so start with local cycle paths but please don't just use any old pedestrian path. It is frustrating for people walking along it, but as a cyclist it is extremely frustrating seeing a grown adult weaving their way around people when the road is nice and quiet.  I know there are some bad cyclist out there who, for example ride with headphones in, don't have a helmet, ride in the middle of the road or my biggest pet peeve is getting to a red light going up the pavement then down the other side. How are you ever going to be respected? On the flipside drivers can be bad too. I have been cut up and nearly knocked off a few times due to silly mistakes by car drivers. One of my biggest suggestions is when you come to a corner, move yourself into the middle of the road as a lot of drivers try to overtake on a corner. We both know you shouldn't do that but some people are just idiots. So basically be alert, be aware and take care. 

4. Invest 
You will need some bits on hand to maintain your bike. You can't expect your bike to be fine if you don't check the tires or give it a polish every so often can you? These bits can be bought in packs at relatively cheap prices from places like Halford or even Home Bargains. Next thing I believe is an absolute must and that's a bike carrier, reason is because it allows you to find some fantastic rides off the beaten track. I took my mountain bike with me camping recently and found a beautiful reservoir to cycle around. We only have a little car so you can get a good bike carrier that fixes onto the back of the car, you can get a variety from places like Tesco Direct so you don't need one to fix onto the roof if you don't want it to.

5. Clothing
Cycling shorts are nobodies best friend but after cycling for a significant amount of time, those padded shorts will be your best friend. I hate my thighs with a passion but after rebelling twice on long rides I quickly got to the point of not caring what I looked like... as long as my tush wasn't suffering from saddle sore I was all about those cycling shorts! You can get some amazing cycle sets but many of them will cost you. I don't like spending loads on them so I always watch out when Aldi have their cycle related offers, you can get a set for under £20 which I've recently done and it's amazing.

If you're looking to get out on two wheels my advice is to play it safe and stick to cycle paths then gradually head onto roads from there. I will say it would make me a better driver if I could drive still (later life epilepsy) so you are very aware of your surroundings. I adore cycling and love nothing more than zipping about on my bike... so get out there and get on ya bike!

p.s any locals who fancy a leisurely bike ride with a coffee and cake stop get in touch!

Monday, 20 July 2015

How to revamp your dining room

I purchased my first home two years ago and when we bought it we knew it was going to be a significant amount of time before we actually started to do it up. It needed/needs some serious work! Don't get me wrong it is livable but with the previous owners love of textured wallpaper... I think we'll pass on that! So a sort out is most certainly on the cards.
With my wedding drawing very close, (ahem Sunday 26th July) I want to focus my mind on something other than weddings and start planning on finally investing the pennies on making this house our home. 

I was introduced to an app and a website called Homify by a friend which is purely inspiration for, well, living and home decoration. For example you know when you buy a specific 'home' magazine for ideas of how to redecorate, this is that but instantly at your fingertips. It saves the money you'd spend on buying copious amounts of magazines and with 40,000+ ideas you're not going to get bored or run out of options.
Soap Designs at Homify

Inpuls at Homify
As I have been using Homify I wanted to share some of my personal ideas on how to revamp your dining room. The subtle cheap ways to do it are endless but things such as investing in one statement piece, creating a minimalistic area or even having a spring clean to de-clutter... the list is pretty endless. For me I've taken a look around my dining room and cringed. Weeks of using my over sized pine dining table as dumping ground for washing and wedding bits, my poor dining area is less for eating and more for collecting... it needs to change! Admittedly it won't always be like this but it did make me realise perhaps I do need to shake things up a bit. 
Make a statement

We currently have a lounge/diner at the moment but we have plans to separate them again, so we're looking at a smallish space to play with. One thing that will go is this six seater dining room table as it is far too big for what we need, (only two of us) so it will hopefully open the space up a lot more when that is gone. For making a statement I took inspiration from this Homify picture and immediately fixated on the over sized clock. A huge clock would look spectacular, I've seen numerous in TK Maxx and The Range that I'm eyeing up but the one above is my ultimate lust.

Reis London LTD at Homify

Give it Personality

I love a good sideboard as they're perfect for storage and style but I think having some kind of bar area would be great too. My mum and Dad have a fold away bar from Thailand which is amazing, it is hand carved and folds away neatly but opens up to be a very dramatic piece. We want a wall completely dedicated to a book shelf, we've even considered making part of our lounge/diner split with a book shelf too. We have two book shelves in the lounge at present so with these gone it'll open up that room as well.
Alongside furniture just by adding colourful or patterned accessories as well can really make a room, plus you honestly don't need to spend the earth either.

NSI Designs LTD at Homify

Work with what you have

The dining room is often the most neglected room of the house with many of us simply eating meals in the kitchen or in front of the TV. I only realised how much I don't take advantage of my own space, so just having some inspiration from these pictures on Homify has really helped steer me in the right direction. Obviously I know some of them would be way out of my league and look daft in my 3 bedroom semi, but that's the whole point of inspiration... it's to guide us to the ultimate goal. Check it and have fun!

*This post was written in collaboration with Homify - all opinions are my own* 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Yumi Summer Style | #Yumi30DaysOfSummer

Hello sunshine! I'm so pleased you've been showing your beautiful face recently. Of course with the sunshine it'd be a fashion crime not wear some kind of floral print dress, which if you know me, I do love a good floral print. Today's look comes from Yumi as part of their 30 Days of Summer Campaign, where they've asked 30 bloggers to style an outfit for a sunny day! 

Ta-da and here is mine...

Dress  Uttam Boutique Orchid Jardin Shift* / Sandals Yumi Kidderminster Sandals* / Handbag Mummy Bean's Boutique / Sunglasses Next Chunky Tortoise Shell Sunnies

I wore this look over the weekend when I went to a garden party. I think it really is ideal to wear at such event especially as on the invite it said smart casual.I don't about anyone else but when something says 'smart casual' itis such a grey area when chosing what to wear. What the devil is smart casual anyway?! I figured a classic but floral printed shift dress but to keep it casual (but quirky) I've got some cute metallic strappy sandals.

What do you think my lovelies, have you been indulging in summer dresses since the sun put his hat on? What do you deem as smart casual?! 

Leave me a comment below - love to read and reply!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Monthly Wishlist | JULY

How on earth are we already in July?! I can't quite get over the fact we are here and I'm getting married on the 26th July! This is my monthly wishlist for July with a variety of items I am loving in fashion, fitness, beauty and home. I write about too many topics to pigeon hole myself. 

I'm a big fan of false flowers, even though they may cost a bit they're obviously going to last however these ones from Next are super cheap! Whenever I go to a Next press day I always find a doorstop I love but this one is by far my favourite.  Finally a beautiful yellow Habitat bicycle ornament for my nearly decorated back bedroom.

With Wimbledon in full swing I had to add a Ralph Lauren classic in the form of a white polo shirt into the mix. Instead of classic summer pastels I've gone for statement shades and I particularly I love that shirt dress from Karen Millen in its sunflower yellow tone.  The Dorothy Perkins floppy hat is a must have accessory for festivals and a neutral toned handbag, like this one from Michael Kors.

As we are still off and about on holiday I think it's good to have some sort of beach kimono. The one I have on my list is from Forever Unique that do some stunning swimwear. Last but not least for my fashion picks are the new in, Kaleidoscope t-bar ballet pumps, with a little tea dress these will look super cute throughout summertime. 

Only one beauty item to mention this month but it's good one. The Boots Protect and Perfect serum was introduced to me a while ago but I only started using this a month back and I absolutely adore it. I'm already seeing some positive changes!

I've gone a bit cheeky this month with a Durex Wild Excitement Pleasure Kit, reason is because I'm planning my wedding night and honeymoon/minimoon- this looks perfect for those little getaways post wedding! I was rather impressed to see the amazing range Durex do to be honest, you can really plan an amazing weekend away with some items.

Last but by no means least is of course some technology I'm lusting after! This is an amazing camera for those adventurous types like me, so as I go running or mountain biking I can easily film all the action. I'd not seen one so compact before but this is the Panasonic HX A1ME that comes in orange and black, maybe I should film me running and pop it on my YouTube channel?!

Hope you like this months finds! Happy July guys and apologies if I fall off the radar... I'm planning my wedding!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Do Mums Know Best? Apparently Mine Does... #MumsKnowBest

I was sent an email from Littlewoods about their current #MumsKnowBest campaign and as part of it, (in celebration) I would tell you all about my Mum and why she does actually know best.... but don't tell her I said that!

Normally I wouldn't really want to share too much about my family but over recent events I wanted to open up. I'm getting married at the end of this month which I'm sure you will agree it can be extremely stressful. I have cried and had more arguments with people than I could of ever imagined and that really isn't me at all. Sometimes the overwhelming issues with planning a wedding can almost make you go straight back to your comforts, mine in this situation has been my Mum and so I've decided to reflect on our relationship... 

My Mum. I love her to pieces which I'm sure all of you reading this love yours just as much, but my Mum is like wonderwoman (I kid you not) and I can only hope to aspire to be as strong minded and caring as she. She never stops. Quite honestly how she crams so much into her life is beyond me and yet still has to cope with three grown up children (I'm the baby)!

Back to the main part of this post, Littlewoods asked me to share a nostalgic moment or some reference to where I felt that my Mum knew best. Firstly I need to point out I'd never let my Mum know she is/was right even if she was, but I'll admit she has been right quite a few times... okay most of the time about things! 

There have been so many times and even though I'd share them all if I could, there is one that sticks out because I recall her telling me I'd regret it...

Dear Mum, 

I need to confess something to you.  You're far more fashion savvy than me. I know, I know I'm a blogger that writes about fashion and style... but you may not remember, but there was a time I was rather clueless about it all. 
As a blogger this is quite possibly my biggest sin ever and largest downfall. Remember when I bought a trouser skirt. Remember those?! Exactly. Mummy Bean, you told me they weren't fashionable the first time round and that'd I'd regret it, yet of course I HAD to have one! I got it in grey and maybe wore it 5 times? None the less that was 5 times too many and I'm now finally saying to you... you  knew best... and clearly had and still have better fashion sense! 

So style guru Mum who looks fabulous everyday... you know best!

Love you lots,
Your Annie xx

Anyone else found that certain items you deemed as fashionable were in fact absolutely awful, and you wish you'd listened to your Mum? Or is that just me?! 

I'm very sure there are numerous other scenarios I could share but I felt that one was my most cringeworthy. Why I thought a trouser skirt was acceptable to wear at age 14 is beyond me. #MumsKnowBest apparently!

Thanks to Littlewoods for sharing your campaign with me today. It's come at a great time as my Mum has just swooped in to help me with a mini wedding crisis, thanks to her impeccable organisation it's all sorted now. Whatever would I do without her?! Love you Mum xx

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Canon Powershot N2 Review | Technology

canon powershot n2 review

A few months ago I was sent the Canon Powershot N2* in White (exclusive to Jessops) to review for my blog. Having carted about my last two big cameras, the idea of having a smaller compact camera but with equal quality was very appealing. Since I got it this camera has followed me literally everywhere! It's been out the country and it even joined me in Glastonbury...

What is it?
I was sent the Jessops exclusive white Canon Powershot N2 which has a screen that flips up - ideal for me when I'm videoing on the go for my YouTube channel. It also means I can take selfies of my adventures on the go too. 

The Tech Bit
You're probably wondering whether this could be a good camera for a blogger, so give high quality on such a small scale.  Let me show you the next picture I took with it...

I love this photo so much we're going to make it into a canvas. Can you believe I took this with that tiny camera?! So that gives you an idea of the quality and the images you can achieve from it.
It doesn't have a specific button to press to take photos, you can use the touch screen or press around the lens. It takes an Micro SD card which is great because it saves space plus it has a wifi button so you can share to the world wide web straight away.  Both key points.

Other important info
  • Optical zoom banding 5-5.9x
  • Megapixel banding 16 to 16.9 Megapixels
  • Dimensions 80.9 x 62.0 x 32.3 mm
  • Weight 201g
  • 8x optical zoom with wide-angle
  • Self portrait setting...aka selfie mode!
  • HD Movies 1080p
  • Built in flash
  • HDMI connection
  • Creative shot mode
  • Adaptable in any light  

As you can see from my images I've taken many snaps in numerous scenerios! Check out my pic from Glastonbury with Kanye West... I couldn't believe my tiny camera could zoom so far and still keep a good quality image.

Good and Bad

Okay so I'd be lying if I said it was spectacular and was perfect on every level, because no camera or piece of technology ever is. Whether this frustrates anyone else or not but there are two things I got annoyed with. Number 1 was the fact there was no button to press in order to capture a picture, you had to either hold in a certain area of the outer lens or touch the screen. I spent some time faffing about when trying to take pictures because I wasn't touching the outer lens correctly.  Number 2 was the fact that I took numerous photos of my hand because the sensitive touch screen would go off when trying to put the flip screen down etc.
In the grand scheme of things these aren't bad at all, but they were two areas which I think you should understand. 


I'm a huge fan of how compact it is and this is a huge selling point for me. I tend to be well known for being the 'bag lady' at press events so by cutting back on a bulky camera but maintaining quality is quite amazing! This camera has been used for filming some of my YouTube videos too such as my recent trip to Italy, plus it will be joining me on my next trip to Austria too. It's £249 which I don't think is bad for the standard and options you are getting from this camera, other cameras of the same size don't have the same quality so this is really refreshing to see. I do love my other camera but I truly love this one... and the fact it's white!