Friday, 28 February 2014

Exercise at home - I need your help!

As you may have already read on here and over on twitter I'm moving house soon which is a fresh start for me. When I'm settled I want to include exercise into my daily routine. There isn't a gym close to my house and I don't want to be running on my own, in the dark, in a dodgy area of Newport so I'm looking for great ways to stay in shape at home and on a budget. I want to spend money furnishing the house and not on equipment.

Aside from eating a healthy and balanced diet which I plan on doing, you also need regular exercise in order to live a healthy lifestyle and as I become older health is more important to me that losing weight. I will be focusing more on activity than counting calories. I know I'm going to need to invest a small amount in some kit (I already have an exercise bike, yay!) but literally nothing else so here are some of my ideas of what to get, please let me know if you have any suggestions:

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As well as exercising at home I'm hoping to get outdoors on the weekends more too. My boyfriend enjoys swimming and this is something we can do together and I want to explore the areas surrounding Newport like Caerleon, Usk and the Wetlands. I need a warm and waterproof coat as well as a comfortable and supportive swimming costume and I'm going to head to Peter Hahn for these as well as utilising items I already have.

exercise at home

I thought of a few exercise ideas for the home:

Walking and staircase exercise - I'm going to be living a good half an hour away from the train station so all that walking will really add up. I've only got a pair of Vans or hiking boots as far as practical shoes are concerned and neither of these are great for power walking to work. I'm thinking of something classic like these Puma Suede shoes which I can then swap for pumps once I'm in work or even keep on if I'm wearing a skater skirt and t-shirt.

Cycling - I have a exercise bike at the new house so it would be a shame to not use it.

Dancing - I'm thinking of YouTube videos and tutorials for this. Can you recommend any?


Light weight lifting - Are there any charts you have found online with great weight ideas? I'm going to invest in a small set of weights so I can use them when I do the 30 Day Shred as the ones I use now will be staying home with my brother. OnlySportsGear have got some reasonable priced kettle bells so I might treat myself to some of those. 

Squats  - Maybe this time next year I'll have buns of steel? Wishful thinking but I've seen some great squat challenges on Pinterest that last for a month. Inceasing the amount I do each day with some rest days.

Crunches - Boring but I'm sure I will see results.


Instead of going to the gym I'm hoping to mix and match these exercise routines to save time and money.

I would really appreciate any recommendations of Pilates/fitness/workout YouTube channels or fitness blogs that you find inspiring as this isn't my area of expertise at all.

Gemma
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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

OOTD - Damart Coat

damart coat

Coat: c/o Damart
Dress: ASOS
Necklace: Dorothy Perkins
Shoes:  c/o Clarks

Damart recently asked me if I wanted to style something from their collection and they very kindly sent me this smart tweed coat which is rather chic. It's traditionally a brand aimed at mature women but they have plenty of classic items that would suit people of any age. The plus side of buying items from stores aimed at a different age group means you're less likely to spot someone wearing the same thing as you. Items will be a little more timeless and last more than one season like this trench coat. Another plus point about companies aimed at a wider age group is a wider range of sizes. Damart stock clothes in sizes 10-26. I normally have issues buying coats because I like to size up so can wear layers underneath and a lot of brands only stock up to a size 16 which means I can't.

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The collar is detachable which is a nice touch but I love the faux fur so will be keeping it on.

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I added this necklace to add some interest and a splash of colour.

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Sookie stood in every photo I took of this outfit and when I wanted to have a photo cuddling her she kept on turning away, little diva.
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Have you ever shopped at Damart before? If you want to take a look at other bloggers wearing Damart head over to their Pinterest board.

Gemma
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Friday, 21 February 2014

Fat Frocks' Big Adventure

You may have already seen my big news on twitter but I'm telling you all again anyway because I'm so excited... I'm moving in with my boyfriend in about six weeks time. It's a big step for me, I'm more than a little nervous about not seeing my family all the time and moving to another town but I'm already getting carried away with home decor ideas. I've got a Pinterest board on the go for all the things I want to get for the house. The rent isn't too high so it won't stop me saving for my own home like I mentioned in a previous post (this one will be rented) but it's going to be such a big adventure for me. I can't wait!
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Illustration of me, Martyn, Sookie and Buttons by Rai

I've never lived with a partner before and I can't say my experience of sharing a house at university was amazing so I've been trying to think of ways of keeping the peace and not losing any of the excitement from our relationship. I'm definitely going to try and do the following things:


Set realistic expectations - What are the daily routines that I need have accommodated? I like to spend a bit of time on my own and have loads of clothes, records and shoes so we have agreed that the spare room will be my dressing room and where I can hang out when I want to blog or read.

Communicate - Communication is going to be crucial in maintaining a happy, stress-free home. I will need to chat about any small problems before it snowballs and arguments ensue.I think I'm pretty good at this and tend to speak out as soon as I'm annoyed but some things aren't worth saying or upsetting someone over so I need to get that balance right.

Compromise - I've got a lot of bad habits and being constantly attached to my phone and laptop is one of them. I know that I'm going to have to agree to keep this to a minimum so Martyn doesn't feel ignored and I'm going to invest in an alarm clock to keep the bedroom a phone free zone. I'm also rubbish at ironing and hate doing the dishes so I'm happy to clean and do lots of cooking if Martyn takes on those jobs.

Be myself - Living at home means that I can hide my more crazy side from my boyfriend but he's going to see this when we live together, my unflattering fleecy owl pajamas and much more. He's going to realise that I love trashy shows like Fashion Police more than The Bridge and that it takes a lot of make up for me to look presentable. I don't think there's any point trying to hide this because it will all come out in the end. I definitely want to make sure our time together is still fun and plan date nights and time away from the house.

Maintain a balance -  Just because we will be living together it doesn't mean that we need to spend all our time together. I'm going to miss Sookie so much so I know I will be going home to see her and the rest of my family all the time. I'm definitely going to make weekends all about seeing friends as Martyn has to work then. I also go away a lot at weekends visiting blogger friends and this isn't going to stop.

Have you got any co-habiting tips for me?



Gemma
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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Launching People

Calling all musicians, photographers, film makers and food lovers. Samsung and Sky1 need you for an exciting project! ‘Launching People’ is a new programme to help launch people’s potential through technology, whatever their stage in life. With the hope that  people with a  passion, ambition and a hungry mind, will have a launch pad for their bright ideas and change their lives in a positive way.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Launching People is an exciting new mentorship programme that seeks to find undiscovered British talents in film, music, food, and photography. They want to invite people with drive and fresh, innovative ideas to team up with Britain’s brightest and Samsung’s best technology, and take part in a documentary series that could launch their career. Sounds good, right? There are so many talented food bloggers and fashion bloggers blow me away with their photography skills so I hope I see some of you guys on this programme.


THE MENTORS

samsung launching people judges


Film: Idris Elba, award winning actor, producer, and DJ
“I want a story that’s inspiring.”

Music: Paloma Faith, singer-songwriter,performer and actress
“I’m really looking for something we’ve not seen in a British artist before.”

Food: Gizzi Erskine, leading pop up chef and food writer
“The simple ideas can be the best.”

Photography: Rankin, world famous portrait and fashion photographer
“I want to know what they do that’s different, that’s interesting.”

They will act as mentors as they help food lovers, budding film makers, musical game changers and picture takers launch their brilliant ideas. The mentors, together with Samsung will be looking to find people with extraordinary potential and original ideas. The chosen candidates will work with one of the four inspirational mentors to collaborate on a unique project. Their journey, from meeting the mentors to the launch of their project, will be captured in a television series, LAUNCHING PEOPLE , produced by Fresh One, part of the Jamie Oliver Media Group, for Sky 1 HD and will air in the spring. I wish I has some musical ability because Paloma Faith is one of my all time favourite people and it would be pretty cool if she was my mentor.

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HOW PEOPLE YOU GET INVOLVED?

To apply you need to make a 2-minute video all about you and your ambition. This is your chance to show off your passion, your personality, and your project idea, to get the attention of the mentors. Then they just need an image and a bit of copy and you’re good to go. You can find out more and upload your submission at: LaunchingPeople.co.uk


UP FOR GRABS

Two opportunities for everyone:
1. The mentors will select four candidates with whom they’ll work one-to-one. The chosen protégés will spend 2-3 weeks together, working closely with their mentors in a house fully furnished with Samsung’s latest technology on their personal projects, building towards a grand launch event and making their ideas and ambitions a reality.
2. And the public will get to vote for one winner in each category to receive £500 for personal tuition and Samsung technology up to the value of £2000.

I wish all the entrants the best of luck and if you upload a video entry do let me know so I can check it out.

Gemma
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Friday, 14 February 2014

The Brit Pack Valentine's Edition

I recently teamed up with some fabulous British bloggers to offer a huge giveaway. That's over now but it seemed a shame not to not to do something with them again as they were all such a pleasure to collaborate with and some of them are close friends. We've decided to keep our name the 'Brit Pack' and all create a post with the same theme, on the same day once a month. This months theme was an obvious choice and we have gone for 'Valentine's'.

I don't have anything heart print as I like to wear mainly darks and block colours but I certainly have enough heart accessories so this was a perfect time to get them out. I must apologise for the messy background and arm in the mirror, the storms have put a stop to any outdoor photos.The heart fairy lights were only £3 in Primark even even though I've got a set of fairy lights in my room already I couldn't resist them. You can never have too many fairy lights, right?


Dress: New Look
Shoes: Mel
Brooch: gift from Sarah

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The necklace was a 21st birthday present from my family and always makes an appearance for special occasions. The shoes are from Mel and I had a pair in black first but caved and bought the pink and red pair too as they are a bit more fun. 
 
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My lipstick is a Superstay 24 in Red Passion by Maybelline.

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The team at Ann Summers sent me a little Valentine's Day surprise in the post, I think I'm going to treat myself to a kimono style wrap/dressing gown in one of their stores so I can sashay around the house thinking I'm super glamorous.
 
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Brit Pack Button

I'm having a night in with the girls tonight with plenty of wine which is probably the best way to spend Valentine's Day. Hope you have a lovely day whatever you have planned.

Gemma
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Thursday, 13 February 2014

BT Sport Relief Challenge: Davina - Beyond Breaking Point

Davina McCall will be ‘going the extra mile’ this Sport Relief by taking on the BT Sport Relief Challenge: Davina - Beyond Breaking Point, a seven day ordeal which will see the 46-year-old attempt to run, swim and cycle over 500 miles from Edinburgh to London - entirely under her own steam. I'm 26 and haven't had any kids and have a way less demanding job so I am in awe of how she is going to do all of this.

Davina is a long-time supporter of Comic Relief and, from lifting families out of extreme poverty in the slums to supporting life-saving maternal health clinics, has seen first-hand how your cash transforms countless lives. She’s pushing herself beyond breaking point to help give a brighter future to thousands of women and girls in Kenya and also transform lives in the UK and around the world.

Starting in Edinburgh on Saturday 8th February and finishing in London on Friday 14th February, Davina will battle saddle sores as she spends over 47 hours peddling; conquer a life-long fear of open water swimming and burn over 10,000 calories per day as she expends every last ounce of energy to reach London.


You can access to Davina’s journey with exclusive up to date photos, videos & facts on the website: Davina's BT Sport Relief Challenge

She is going to need loads of encouragement to tackle this challenge so you can tweet support to Davina by  using the hashtag #Davina.

Davina will also be the voice of BT’s Speaking Clock from Monday 27th January until the 23rd March, during which BT will donate 10p to Sport Relief for every call made to the BT Speaking Clock from a BT landline.

If that wasn’t enough, BT is also declaring Thursday 13th February ‘Dial for Davina’ day, where BT will kindly donate 1p to Sport Relief for every call made from a BT home phone line, BT business line as well as every call made from a BT payphone.




£30 can pay for six young people, living with a disability in the UK, to take part in a sporting activity and every £50 raised could pay for a young girl, living in the slums of Kenya, to complete an apprenticeship programme. Davina needs the public’s support to keep her going as she goes Beyond Breaking Point. Sponsor Davina at sportrelief.com/davina
If you want to take part in your own Sport Relef challenge head to http://www.sportrelief.com/ where you can pledge to run, swim or cycle to raise money for the charity.Why not get in shape and raise some money for charity at the same time?


Gemma
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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Cheap and simple tips to lift your look

I've spoken about how I'm trying to save for a house in a previous post and now I'm really trying to make an effort to save money which means buying less clothes. Buying less clothes doesn't mean that I have to look dull or not sport latest trends it means I need to dig a little deeper into my wardrobe and be inventive.
You don’t necessarily need to splash the cash to be more stylish. A few simple additions and some creative accessorising may be all it takes to lift the look of your favourite, well worn outfit. Update an old faithful and rediscover the contents of your wardrobe with the following thrifty tips. (or not, you're welcome to ignore me)

Accessorise from top to toe

Accessories can easily update a tired outfit. From a stylish hat to the perfect pair of shoes, you can really lift your look instantly with a well-chosen accessory.
From a casual beanie to a wide brimmed fedora, if the cap fits, wear it. Fashionable hats can set you apart in the style stakes. For a chic take on the accessory, team a stylish fedora with a classic and casual outfit, such as jeans, flats and a jacket or your favourite smock and biker jacket. Alternatively, channel a more casual style with a slouchy beanie and warm winter knits. Relatively inexpensive, a new hat and other chic accessories will make perfect style sense to money savers and bloggers alike. It's just a shame that I have a giant head and only beanie hats fit me, sob.


Why not consider a bright pair of shoes like in the photo above to add the finishing touch to your outfit? Pack a style punch with a statement pair of shoes in a bold colour or unusual print to really make an outfit pop.

Make more of your make-up

Why not update your existing look by experimenting with new make-up styles? A simple style tweak, such as an alternative shade of lipstick or flick of liquid liner, can help to lift a tired look and refresh an outfit choice. Experiment with make-up and outfit combinations to make bold style statements. I matched my blouse with an old lip marker I found in my make up box to create a more eye catching look for work.

Learn make-up tricks and tips online at SuperSavvyMe. Make the most of handy make-up hints from a panel of experienced beauty experts and be inspired by style and beauty ideas. Why not use the interactive Supersavvyme seasonal planner? From family life to health and well-being, enjoy helpful articles and advice and ensure you schedule some ‘me time’ to try out your newfound make-up techniques. I've also posted a hair tutorial which you might like to try as a quick and easy way of updating your look.

Accessorise in style

From bags to belts and bangles to hair bands, there are countless ways to accessorise an outfit. You can create a laid-back look or go all-out in the glamour stakes. I teamed this outfit with a gold necklace and bag to make it a little less ordinary. 

Whatever your preferred style, well-chosen accessories will complement your clothing choice and update your look with a price to suit every pocket. Do you try and rework an outfit to save money? Any tips for me?

*collaborative post

Gemma
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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Home Sweet Home

As I've mentioned on here previously I've made the big decision to start saving to buy my own home. I love living at home with my family but I really don't want to be living at home much past the age of 30 and want to give my mum the opportunity to downsize and enjoy herself with the proceeds from selling the house. There is no 'Bank of Mum and Dad' for me to fall back on, no inheritance I can spend and I really don't earn a vast wage so it's going to be quite the struggle but hopefully worth the long wait.

I've got two options open to me when it comes to searching for my first home. I can either opt for a terraced house in the Valleys with plenty of space and room to make a profit if I make a few improvements or I can opt for a smaller property, a flat in Cardiff or Newport. Living in the Valleys and not a city really doesn't bother me if there is a train station in the town and the idea of space and spare rooms appeals to me. A more modern flat would need a lot less work and would mean I'm closer to friends so I've a lot of thinking to do.

I've found a few buildings I wouldn't mind living in with a bit of character and I've already made a Pinterest board to get a few ideas together for some interior inspiration. I've also started reading blogs such as this journal because I really don't know the first thing about dressing a home . If you know of any blogs about homes and saving tips then please leave me some links.



I know there is more than just a house deposit I need to save for, buying a house it a total minefield and I've made a list of things I need to think about:
  • Mortgage arrangement fee - This can be up to £1000 or added to your mortgage.

  • Valuation fee - This is the fee lenders charge for a valuation to check the property exists and that it also offers sufficient security for the loan. This can be about £300.

  • Legal fees - I'm looking at about £500, maybe more for this.

  • Stamp duty - I might get out of this one as a flat or house in my area would be under £125,000 and therefore exempt.

  • Surveys - Definitely going to need one of these to check if the house I want to buy is sound. This will set me back another couple of hundred pounds.

  • Removal costs - I don't have much to move and have access to a van, one thing I don't need to worry about. 
  • House repairs - There's bound to be a leaky sink, painting and other odd jobs to do. Going to need at least £500 for paint, carpet and other bits that need refreshing.
I also need to think about essential extras: light bulbs, lamp shades, toilet brush, washing up bowl, door mats, extension leads etc I will be moving in from my family home and not a rented home so I have none of these things.I've got a separate savings fund for these items and I'm picking up things as I go along and storing them in the garage for the day I get my own place.I've already amassed quite the kitchenware selection from charity shops and I treated myself to some lovely Le Creuset items with vouchers I was given recently.



I'm aiming to get as much furniture as I can from Freecycle and local auctions to keep costs down and I like the shabby, antique kind of look more than sleek lines so  I'm happy to paint any furniture I can find and have it a little mismatched until I can replace it with my own new items.

Any homeowners have some tips for me? What have I forgotten and what are the major pitfalls?

*collaborative post


Gemma
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Friday, 7 February 2014

Puppy Love - Monki blouse

Shirts can make me look a little bulky but I really couldn't resist this puppy print one from Monki. It fits perfectly, has a lovely silky feeling and was only £20. I've always been a bit hesitant about wearing shirts and blouses as a bigger woman, gaping is so annoying right? I've been sizing up and tucking them into skirts or wearing them under dresses so they don't drown me.

a picture of monki puppy blouse

Shirt: Monki
Skirt: New Look
Shoes: c/o Hotters
Necklace: Gift
Lipstick: Maybelline Super Stay 24 Hour Red Passion


a picture of a statement necklace

The lovely necklace was a gift from Sarah and I thought it worked well popping out under my collar with this outfit. I always wear quite small items of jewellery so I had fun wearing such a bold piece.


I thought the outfit looked a little sombre so I added a splash of colour with my new Maybelline lipstick. I can highly recommend the Super Stay 24 hour range. It stays in place, is easy to apply and has a lovely nourishing lip balm to seal the colour in.

a picture of red lipstick

The picture below is pretty much what I want to recreate this weekend. I plan on hanging out with Sookie as much as I can, catching up on The Bridge on iPlayer, making pancakes for breakfast and relaxing. Hope you all have something lovely planned.




Gemma
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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bloggers Bake Club

At the end of January I attended the first Blogger Bake Club at Gwdihw in Cardiff and had a lovely afternoon. Who doesn't like a chat accompanied by a cup of tea and slice of cake? I'm going to try and persuade you to come to the next event because I think it's a great idea.

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Amy (master baker) from Bonjour Cupcake organised the event and made the most wonderful carrot cake with meringue frosting. She chose a 'light/healthy' theme for the January club so we all had to think of ways to add fruit and reduce sugar but still make some tasty treats. I made some rather lame cherry oat bites because my baking skills are pretty poor and I also made some seeded brown bread and brought some light cheese for a savoury option.

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All the bakes were so tasty, I ended up taking a little selection home for my family to try.

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Gwdihw was a great choice of venue as it's really informal and has a great selection of teas and coffees to go with the cake. All the bloggers who attended are lovely and talkative so if you're nervous about attending the bake club, please don't be. It was really relaxed and we would love to see a few more faces at the next event.

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I hope the wonderful Bake Club is a huge success in 2014 and beyond. Who's coming to the next one?! The theme for the event on the 22nd is 'French' so start practicing those Mille-feuille, macarons and tarte tatins.

Gemma
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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Outfit post - Polka Dot blouse

This is me trying to make a bit more of an effort for work. I'm attending a few more meetings now and doing a little less shelving so there's no need to be quite as practical with my clothing choices. I try to look a little smarter and more authoritative to distinguish myself from the students in the library as the PhD students are the same ages as me.  

I've had the black dress in my wardrobe for about three years now and it's a basic item I always go back to. The blouse was a recent purchase in new Look and I've already worn it a handful of times. Definitely a new favourite of mine and a bargain at under £20. 

a picture of a maroon polka dot blouse

Blouse: New Look
Watch: eBay
Dress: H&M
Brooch: Accessorize
Shoes: Patent bow shoes by Shellys

a picture of a map dial watch

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a picture of black patent shoes

I've had about 4/5 inches chopped off my hair (not very noticeable) so it's looking far more healthy at the moment. I'm trying to grow it and need to make sure I get regular trims so I don't need such a drastic cut next time to get rid of dead ends :( My lipstick is one of those Topshop marker pens, I bought it about two years ago and it's been lying in my make up tub all that time, totally forgotten. Oops. 

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On the weekend I hosted a dinner party for the first time and got to try out the Foodelity service which I highly recommend. Take a look at my other blog Where Are My Knees? for more details, been posting over there a lot recently. Here is a snaps of one of the tasty dishes I rustled up:

roast poussin

P.S. There are only a few hours left to enter my £100 ASOS gift card giveaway

Gemma
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