Sunday, 28 June 2015

Life Lately - Home & Holiday & Work

Sitting down and writing this post made me realise just how busy June has been for me. I've been to see the Manics, Lemuria and had some blogger mates come and stay with me. I've been on the most wonderful holiday to Austria with stunning scenery (lots of posts about this to follow) and Martyn and I have been busy adding some new bits to our home and making it feel a bit more cosy.  There's also so big news but I'll leave that until the end...


I'm not going to share too much now because I'll cover it in a later post but Zell am See is truly beautiful. You get these kind of views all day long and you almost get used to them at the end of your holiday. I was so sad to leave and I can't wait to share my photos (once I've cut them down from 400 to 10)


I tend to cook a few tried and tested recipes and stick to the same old dishes which can be a tad dull so I decided to try out a food subscription box. HelloFresh deliver weekly boxes of ingredients, with recipes, so that you can cook simple meals from scratch. HelloFresh Boxes can be delivered on either Tuesday or Thursday, and the ‘classic box’ contains enough food for three/five meals. You can also get family boxes, and a vegetarian box. Recipe cards are included, and they are also viewable ahead of time on the web site. The recipes change each week, and with the classic box you can choose which meals you would like to be delivered. All the meals can be cooked in 45 minutes or less, with most usually taking around 30 minutes. I LOVED my HelloFresh experience and used a discount code to purchase mine so I got £20 off. If you want the same deal use the code PEYMC6. It was nice to try something new and all the ingredients were good quality. 


There is something special about receiving a bunch of flowers, they can instantly cheer you and a room up. I always have a bunch of flowers in the kitchen to brighten the place up but I've been adding a few pots plants to my home recently because they have a much longer life span. When Flora Queen (a specialist in international flower delivery) asked me if I would like to review their service I chose a plant to add to my collection.  Flora Queen work with a florist local to the recipient and I was delighted to receive this lovely 'Calming Elegance' peace lily. I think choosing a plant worked in my favour because you get what you order and there's no chance of flowers being damaged in transit and my plant is looking fantastic a few weeks on. They deliver to over 90 countries and my experience of FloraQueen would definitely make my consider placing an order as a gift in the future. 


Martyn and I have picked up some new shelving from Ikea and are trying to declutter. I'm hoping by getting rid of some things I no longer need some of my treasured items will get pride of place and fun items like the framed cross-stitch below will stand out more. I'm also really excited about the new fridge that we ordered, I think that's a sign that I'm fasting approaching middle age, right?


So I've been away, been to some gigs and spruced up my home but the biggest thing that's happened to me in June is that I've got a new job! I've been working in the library sector since I graduated so it's going to be a bing change for me. Circumstances mean that I needed to earn a little more to pay all the bills and it's always good to have a change after such a long time. I will be working for a train company in their customer service department and manning their twitter account. So the next time you are super annoyed that your train is delayed think before you tweet ;)

Gemma
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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A day in Cardiff

I tend to go to Birmingham and London to hang out with my blogger mates so it made a nice change for someone to cross the Severn and let me show off the lovely capital of Wales. I probably should have got up a little earlier rather than having a lie in because we had to cram a lot in to one day but we still managed to take in some of the main sights. I'm so glad we made the most of the sunshine last weekend when Hannah and Steve came to stay with me and Martyn because it's looking rather grey at the moment, we were very lucky with the weather. I took them to my favourite spots, for a bit of record shopping and to see some lovely architecture before the main event at night. The reason for the visit was to see the Manic Street Preachers play one of the best albums ever in its entirety but I'll get to that later on...

Cardiff is home some wonderful Victorian Arcades and indoor market. The Central Market is a Grade II Listed building and is the best place to head for some record shopping and Welsh cakes. 

this is a photo of Cardiff Indoor Market


this is a picture of Kellys Records in Cardiff

Welsh cakes, still warm mmm



We crammed in a whistle stop tour of Cardiff Bay just before the gates opened at the castle for the gig. It's had a huge urban regeneration project which transformed the city’s old docklands. They were originally used to ship coal out from the Valleys but are now a mixture of modern architecture and renovated historic buildings. On the eve of the First World War in 1913, coal exports reached their peak at over 13 million tonnes. At this time the international price of coal was struck in the Coal Exchange building and it was here that the worlds first £1 million pound deal was signed.
We took a look at the Senedd – the Welsh Assembly’s parliament building, the red-brick Pierhead Building and the white wooden Norwegian Church where author Roald Dahl was christened, which is now an arts centre and cafĂ©.

Cardiff Bay

The bay’s most recognisable building is the Millennium Centre where I've seen musicals, ballet and comedy.
The copper-coloured frontage has a poem by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis built into it which is lit up by night. Translated it means “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration”. You might also find it familiar because lots of Doctor Who and Torchwood was filmed in this area. The bay is also home to the Doctor Who Experience


Cardiff Bay Senedd

After a afternoon of sightseeing we headed to Cardiff castle to watch the Manics. The setting couldn't have been better. It was dry and sunny, in a beautiful castle and they were playing an album that's had a huge impact on me and many other fans, The Holy Bible. I'm from the same town as the Manics so it was hard for me not to grow up aware of their success and musical legacy. It was a really special night for me and hearing 10,000 people sing along to She is Suffering was a pretty odd but beautiful moment.



We went home from the gig and watched it all again because it was shown on BBC2. We got up to lots more touristy things the next day which I'm sure I'll share later this month. I've written a few posts about Cardiff and the rest of Wales which might be worth a look if you're thinking of visiting.

Have you ever been to Cardiff before?

Gemma
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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Healthy Finances in Your Relationship

If you’ve ever been in a relationship, especially if you were married or living together, I bet that you’ve had a disagreement about money at least once. It’s one of the biggest causes of problems in relationships and differences in values and goals and habits when it comes to money can be a difficult thing to talk about. Money can’t buy you love but being open about it can be a good thing.

I can’t claim that my finances and relationship are perfect but I would like to think my partner and I share the same goals and are fairly open with each other. I think a solid relationship means that you can talk about money and financial goals. Now I don’t mean you need to know how exactly how much your partner earns or how much student loan they owe but knowing that neither person in a relationship is struggling to make ends meet is a pretty good start. I already share a home with my partner but I would like to buy a house. I know this is a goal I'm going to have to save for on my own due to my partners circumsances and I've recently changed jobs to make this happen.



At the start of your relationship talking about money might just involve saving for a weekend away together but as the relationship develops you’re likely to have to plan for buying a house together, a wedding, kids (just a dog for me), holidays and pensions and much more.


Managing your finances and your relationship can be tough but here are some of my tips to avoid arguments:

  1. Talk about money with your partner. It might not be the most romantic of subjects, but talking about things will help you plan for the future, and avoid any unpleasant surprises that could hold you back as a couple.

  2. Understand how to manage credit and debt, both individually and as a couple. This will help support any credit applications you may need to make together in the future, such as applying for a mortgage. You can check your rating if you click here. Your credit reports can become linked through a joint credit application, for a loan or mortgage – even shared utility bills. If you are linked through a ‘financial association’ and one of you has a poor history of managing credit and debt, it can have a negative effect on both of your chances of getting approved for credit in the future and at the best rates.

  3. We have all made mistakes or taken an opportunity that didn’t work out for us so try not to judge a loved one for any debts they may have outstanding.

  4. If you find yourself struggling and stressed about debt, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from StepChange, the Money Advice Service or Citizens Advice Bureau. You don’t have to struggle alone.

  5. Come up with a plan to meet your goals. Once you’re able to come up with common financial goal (a huge step - congratulations!), you need a plan to get you there. Take into account your joint income, your debt, your savings, how much you can put towards debt and/or saving each month, whether you want to cut back on certain things in order to meet your savings goals, how long you want to give yourself to meet financial goals etc
I think it is all about getting some balance. Be honest about your past and set goals together but don't spend all your time talking about something as dull as money. 

Do you have any tips for me on how to save for my first home deposit? Do you like to talk about this type of ting with your partner or do you prefer to keep it all separate? 

Gemma
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Friday, 12 June 2015

Wedding Guest Style Challenge


Dress: c/o M&Co - Shoes: Mel - Bag: ASOS - Necklace: Jewel Street





Finding the perfect dress to wear as a guest to a wedding can be a nightmare. Finding something that makes you feel good, look great and is appropriate for the setting is trickier than you think. 
Before you start looking for a dress it is essential to give the invite a close inspection. Some couples have strict rules or want guests to tie in with a colour theme. Check to see if you will be outside for long stretches of time and take a jacket or umbrella if the forecast doesn't look good. Ask the bride, or one of her close friends, if you're unsure if they'd mind you wearing white. Some brides do, some don't.I think the most importance advice I can give is try the outfit on before you leave home if you're going to be getting ready in a hotel. Check that the outfit works and that you have the right underwear etc. If you're at a country wedding it's not going to be easy to pop out and find a strapless bra or a different bag on the day of the wedding.

This M&Co dress I'm wearing ticks all the right boxes for me. It's a shape I'm comfortable in, there are so many shift dresses around at the moment and they don't suit me at all. It's got the perfect summery print and colours and has a demure neckline and hemline so it's great for a church wedding. I won't be tugging and adjusting it all day because it fits like a glove. Attending a wedding can cost a fortune once you factor in hotels and transport but this wedding guest dress comes in at just under £50 and I already owned all the accessories I paired with it so it's great if you're on a budget. I've got a couple of weddings to go to this summer so I'll be wearing this dress and alternating it with the one I wore last year, I like to make sure I get plenty of wear from my dresses.


Do you have an top tips for what to wear if you've been invited to a wedding?

Gemma
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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Beautiful UK Holiday Accomodation + Win a glamping holiday

Are you as tired of the standard summer holiday destinations as I am? Sure, the Balearic Islands can be cheap and cheerful but I think 2015 is the year to be bold and try something different. Everyone has their individual interests when it comes to booking a getaway and I like to stay somewhere a little different and in a property with a bit of character.

For those in search of a one-of-a-kind experience, renting an unusual property guarantees a really memorable holiday and I've had plenty of those right here in the UK. You can stay in all sorts now like boats, converted churches and campervans. My all time favourite holiday accomodation has to be Wendy the Aberporth Express. Wendy is the sole surviving carrriage of her type. She was built in 1908 as a LSWR  (London & South Western Railway) Sleeping Car for the Plymouth-Waterloo 'boat train'. In December 1931 she was retired from use, and in 1936 she was purchased from GWR delivered to Aberporth where she has rested ever since. She is painted in GWR colours and lots of original detail remains including the side corridor past the bedrooms. I fell in love with Wendy and dream of going back again.





I had a magical week in Wendy which sits right on the stunning coastline of West Wales. You rarely get views like this from a typical hotel. I stepped out of Wendy right on the coastal footpath and in the summer you can spot dolphins in the sea out on the veranda. I wouldn't have swapped my holiday there for any other destination in the world.


I've also been lucky enough to stay in properties with a lot of character and indiviual charm like a barn in Dorset and listed properties like the Francis Hotel.


Another favourite type of holiday for me is a camping holiday. This is perfect if you're on a budget or want to be close to nature. I found a quaint little campsite in West Wales called Trevayne. It is only about £15 a night and it has access to a private cove via a footpath on the site. I do miss a few home comforts when I camp because we don't have an electric hookup and would love to try glamping at some point. It would be great to get the camping experience but with a plug for my hair dryer and a proper bed. I love camping but after five nights of sleeping on a airbed you start to miss a mattress.


Glamping is something I've always wanted to do so I'm excited to share a fantastic competition with you today. One lucky person could win a fabulous 2 night stay at one of 35 Wigwam Holidays Glamping sites across the UK for up to 4 people. Not only that but Get The Label will also give you a £75 GetTheLabel Voucher PLUS a Glamping Survival Box which includes a pair of Havaianas and all you need for a carefree glamping weekend!



It only takes a few seconds to enter this competition so 
head over now if you don't want to miss out. Good luck!

Are you heading anywhere unusual for your holiday this Summer? Can you recommend any out of the ordinary holiday accommodation?


Gemma
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Monday, 8 June 2015

Curvissa SS15


Blouse: c/o Curvissa - Jeans: New Look 
Shoes: White low top Converse - Necklace: Dorothy Perkins




This month I was invited to take part in a blogger challenge with four other bloggers to see how I would style a item of clothing from Curvissa's SS15 Look Book. Fourteen looks in total were shot for the look book, from casual denim to on-trend 70s prints. There were some dungarees I really liked the look of and some printed trousers which I'm definitely tempted by.

This look is very different for me, I'm wearing some trousers! I'm wearing this to an IT conference today and feel really chic but but not too formal. Most IT staff are men whilst library staff (like myself) are women and I feel like a blend in with the guys with this but still stand out with my huge necklace. I've paired this with some comfy trainers but I'm going to tuck the blouse into a skirt and wear it with heels too for a more formal look.


The blouse is super light and comfortable and true to size. It's nice and loose fitting on me which is great for this mini heatwave we are having (please don't be our only sunshine this Summer). I would definitely give this 5/5 because I struggle to find blouses that don't gape at the bust.


Make sure you check out the following blogs to see how these lovely ladies styled items from the SS15 Curvissa Look Book:


Gemma
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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Make Me Over


Dress: New Look - Sandals: New Look - Bag: Zatchels
Sunglasses: New Look - Bracelet: ASOS - Jacket: George





My wardrobe full of black, 60 denier tights and cardigans means I always struggle in summer. I have about two dresses I can wear if the temperature is over 20 degrees and my legs are a deathly blue/white because they never see a ray of sun. Clarity Travel Management challenged me to refresh my style and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm off on holiday next week and needed a casual outfit for walks, sightseeing and eating out and something that will keep me cool in the Austrian sun (It's about 28 degrees there at the moment). Clarity TM very kindly sent me £50 of Love2Shop vouchers with the challenge to re-brand my style just like they rebranded themselves, they were previously Co-operative Travel Management. 

My first port of call for a summer outfit on a budget was New Look. The dress was £22.99 and is very light and cool. I may even pick it up in red too. I rarely buy anything strappy or midi length because I worry about my arms being exposed the length can be a bit unflattering. I chose the cork heeled sandals to give me some height and that made the dress length work really well. I've also worn this dress with some flat sandals and I've got over feeling short in midi dresses. I'm glad I bought a dress that was a bit out of my comfort zone, it wouldn't have been a challenge if I bought myself another floral skater dress would it? I added some items I already had to the outfit like my denim jacket and bag and I'm really pleased with the look. Much more casual and laid back then my normal style.

Are you going to add some summery items to your wardrobe, how would you re-brand yourself?

Gemma
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Thursday, 4 June 2015

High Summer - my travel packing tips

I never really go on traditional beach holidays, it's just not my thing. My main holidays last year were camping in West Wales and a week in Budapest where I visited the Christmas markets in -4 temperatures. I always have to pack lots of layers and anticipate all types of weather. Packing can be a nightmare and I'm always sneaking my toiletries and shoes in to my partners case because I've filled my own. Packing for my holiday this year isn't going to be any easier because I'm going camping in Austria, just outside Zell am See. It's currently about 28 degrees there but with a couple of metres of snow up on the mountains where I will be doing lots of walking. I'll also be visiting Salzburg so want to look chic in the city but need practical clothes for walking and things to relax in when we lounge around the lake. Packing is going to take some serious planning.


I wanted my lakeside apparel to have a movie star vibe, not quite sure I'll pull off the Audrey Hepburn look but big sunglasses will certainly make me feel like a moviestar. I've gone for all black so it's easy to mix and match items. I've got some sandals and a cover up kaftan from New Look and my bag, swimming costume and hat (so my pale face doesn't go red) from Bonmarche. My bag is big enough to carry a couple of books to read by the lake, some sun tan lotion and water, perfect!



I'm travelling to my holiday destination by car so I don't have to worry about weight but not packing too much will still be a concern. Here are my top tips for making the most of your luggage allowance and saving space so you can pack essentials (and extra dresses and shoes)


My top 5 packing tips

1)  Wear your heaviest clothing to travel in, airlines weigh the luggage not the passengers. I always wear any boots I want to take or a coat to the airport and pack lighter items.
2) Do some research. Some hotels provide a hair dryer, shower gel, towels etc so you won't need to pack your own. Co-ordinate with the people you are travelling with, only one of yo uneeds to take a tube of toothpaste or shampoo. You could all share.
3)  Get a lightweight suitcase or bag. You can pick up extra light ones for under £40 so not too big an investment but if you travel a lot it could mean that you get to take an extra few items each time.
4)  Be ruthless with clothes.You can wash some clothes when you are away and you always end up not wearing baout a third of what you take.
5)  Roll, don’t fold. It takes no time at all and saves space and stops iems from creasing.Use all available space so tuck socks into shoes and small items in any gaps in your case.


Doesn't Zell am See look wonderful?! I've never been to Austria before so it's a dream trip for me. I'm looking forward to exploring the beautiful mountains and Salzburg and I know Martyn is looking forward to taking a ride on this tobogganThe combination of glaciers, mountains and lakes makes this region in SalzburgerLand perfect for my holiday with Martyn this year as both of our interests are covered.

If you really need a holiday of your own and don't have anything planned yet Bonmarche have the perfect prize for you. Follow this link for a chance to win either £3,000 worth of travel vouchers or 285 BonmarchĂ© vouchers worth £25 each. Best of luck!


Do you do a lot of planning for your holiday? Is packing something you dread?

*collaborative post

Gemma
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