23 December 2015

You Are Not Alone

Christmas.  A time of swapping presents, seeing family and having fun.  A time when everyone is supposed to be happy and jolly.  A time where complete strangers who never normally speak to you will say Merry Christmas.

One of the things about Christmas however is that expectation to be happy and jolly.  Problems do not stop just because Christmas starts and sadness does not disappear underneath a sprig of holly.  With 1 in 5 of us suffering from mental illness at some time during our lives, sometimes, we all need a little help.

This year I am using my last post of the year to join Kellie from Big Fashionista in posting telephone numbers for people who may be in need.  You are not alone.

MIND
Website www.mind.org.uk
Tel No   0300 123 3393

Samaritans
Website  www.samaritans.org
Tel No      116 123 

Alcoholics Anonymous
Website   www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk 
Tel No     0800 9177650 

Stonewall
Website    www.stonewall.org.uk
Info line 08000 50 20 20 
London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
Tel No    0207 837 7324

SANELine
Website   www.sane.org.uk
Tel No     0300 304 7000

Papyrus, Prevention of young suicide
Website  www.papyrus-uk.org 

National self-help body for the Transgender community
Beaumont Society
Website http://www.beaumontsociety.org.uk
Information Line 01582 412220

Childline
www.childline.org.uk 
0800 1111

Depression Alliance
Website   www.depressionalliance.org

Refuge
Website   www.refuge.org.uk
Tel No     0808 2000 247

Beating eating disorders
Website https://www.b-eat.co.uk 
Help line 0345 634 1414
Youth Line 0345 634 7650

Shelter
Website  www.shelter.org.uk
Tel No    0808 800 4444

NHS Direct
1111 

No Panic
Website http://www.nopanic.org.uk 
Tel No  0844 967 4848
Youth helpline     01753 840393

22 December 2015

Fabulous Coats

When it comes to winter, I think of two things when it comes to clothes.  The first is warmth.

Cosy jumpers, decorative scarves; gloves to keep your hands warm and toasty socks in bed at night.  Surrounding yourself with these items during the winter months will ensure a warm and comfortable time.

When it comes to coats and jackets however, I like to add a little glamour and luxury.  There is no reason why you cannot be both warm and look glamorous.  So here are some of my favourite elegant and glamorous coats to see you through the next few months of the cold.

Best of all, all of the coats I have found are on sale!

Biba Luxe Leopard Faux Fur Coat
£139.40


Alice & You Faux Fur Coat
£60.00


Jane Norman Beige Bonded Fur Collar Jacket
£35.00 



Oasis - The Great Coat
£77.00

Uttam Boutique Contrast Kimono Coat
£55.00


14 December 2015

3 Things That Can Ruin Your Gap Year and How To Avoid Them

It usually takes time and effort to scrape together the funds for a gap year, and these adventures take plenty of planning too. So, the last thing you want when you finally set off on your globetrotting trip is for something to ruin your experiences. Here are three things that have the potential to spoil your fun, and some top tips to help ensure they don’t.

1) Sickness

When you’re away from home, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health. After all, if you get sick when you’re abroad, you might have to bring your adventures to an abrupt end. There are lots of potential health threats to watch out for too, from stomach bugs caused by poor hygiene to tropical diseases. Before you set off on your travels, it’s important to do some research to establish what risks you are likely to face. Depending on where you’re going, you might need to get vaccinations to protect you against diseases like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, tuberculosis, rabies and Japanese encephalitis. You may also require protection from malaria. There is no vaccination to guard against this disease, but you can take anti-malarial medicines. For example, you may be advised to take a course of Doxycycline malaria tablets. This treatment offers protection from one to two days after you start the course, so you’ll need to begin taking the tablets before you enter at-risk areas.

More generally, pay careful attention to food and water hygiene and make sure you don’t overexpose yourself to the sun. If you’re ever in doubt about health-related issues, you should be able to find reliable information and guidance online. 

2) Running out of money

Another sure fire way to spoil your trip is to run out of money. Budgeting for gap years is notoriously tricky, and you’ll have to be savvy if you’re going to make your money last. Firstly, be realistic when you’re working out how much cash you’ll need to fund your travels. Being overly optimistic about how far your money will stretch is a recipe for disaster further down the line. Meanwhile, try to pay for most of your major travel costs upfront so that you can ensure you won’t end up stranded in some far flung location.

Create a spending plan too, and keep a record of your expenses as you go. This will show you how quickly you are working through your resources and help you to identify where savings need to be made. Make sure you keep your money secure as well. For example, don’t carry large sums of cash around. It’s much better to use travellers’ cheques and prepaid cards. In addition, it’s useful to have an emergency fund that’s separate to your regular spending money and that you can use in the event of unexpected problems.

3) Missing home

Right now, the thought of getting away from everyday life at home might be one of your major motivations for hitting the road. However, when you’re thousands of miles away from family and friends, you may surprise yourself by how homesick you feel. It’s normal to miss the comforts of life back home from time to time, especially if things aren’t going to plan. To stop this getting in the way of having a good time, make an effort to keep in touch with loved ones by scheduling regular video chats and using email and social media. 



Your gap year could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the world and expand your horizons, and by following advice like this, you can ensure you make the most of it.

*In collaboration with Lloyds Pharmacy

11 December 2015

Hello, It's Me

Hello little blog.  It's me.  I'm wondering if after all these months, you recognise me.

OK, so I am shameless stealing Adele lyrics here, but the question remains true.  But I have been here, posting, writing; and yet I haven't.  The me that loves to do fashion posts has been absent, the writer who loves to rant has been gone; the woman who pours her heart out through her blog has been MIA.

Victoria the ghost writer has made some appearances, but in general, my heart has been gone from this blog for many, many months.  Why is that?

Well, it has been a bloody hard and horrible year with not many highs.  A long hospital stay followed by the death of my step dad, the aftermath of that and me wondering how I could have lost both my dad and step dad before I'm even 40.  Drawing inward.

"They say time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing"

I have to be careful with my heart.  I know how easily I can fall into sadness and when dark days can turn into dark periods.  Under times of stress I have to be especially careful. I have had to be strong, I could not fall under the spell of sadness.

I have not been unable to understand why my passion for writing has been gone.  I have not been able to understand why I have pulled away from friends, stepping in now and again but remaining distant.  I could not understand the need that roared inside me to ensure that I told my mum I loved her so often.  I could not understand why my joy for life seemed to be on mute.

After much soul searching and facing up to truths, I now understand.

I have been on pause.  You know when something huge is about to happen in front of you, you freeze, hold your breath, draw your body inward?  That has been me.  I have put myself on pause, thrown a safety net around myself and anchored in.  Because I have been scared of what comes next.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex cannot see you if you don't move and that is how I have been treating that fear.  Do nothing, and nothing bad will happen.

I have not been writing, although I have wanted to, because I write with my heart and my heart has had a cage around it, keeping it safe.  I have pulled away from my best friends because they know me so well and I wasn't ready to see my reflection in their eyes.  They know what I am like and because they are amazing, they have waited.  Knowing.

I have told my mum that I love her every single day not because I adore her, which I do, but because somewhere inside me was saying "What if she dies too".   Losing my dad when I was younger and losing my step dad this year has made me pull her so close, because my heart is in no state to deal with that kind of grief.

I am improving now.  I am writing again finally and the words are flowing freely through me again, like they always have before.  There comes a point where you have to take that jump and continue living again, fully; not on safety mode.

Most people would not press publish on this post.  It is deeply personal and a working through of how I have been feeling.  A "Dear Diary".  But I believe that it is important to document your feelings, remember how you felt and how you brought yourself through it,  It is a marker in my life that proves how strong you are,

Writing has always been therapeutic and I am finally ready to let it heal me.  My sparkle is coming back and I feel more like myself again.  Hello little blog of mine, I have missed you so much.



Tips to Protect Your Data

I remember when I was first introduced to emails and the internet, many years ago now.

This was a time when Ask Jeeves was your go to for information and I think my first internet search was "how to cook a chicken".  I remember emails being described to me as being "like a text message, but on the computer".

Roll forward to 2015 and our entire lives are on the internet.  We share our photographs, do our banking, talk about our lives, chat with friends.  We rely on virus software to keep our emails save and on websites to have adequate security to hold our passwords and bank accounts safe.

Keeping our identity safe has never been more important than now.  We had have photographs stolen and shared to the world from the ICloud,  hackers who infiltrate your business emails; doxxing by individuals who share your address online and on a larger scale, groups like Anonymous.

So what do we need to do to keep our identity and data secure?

Data Label recently commissioned a study into how to avoid online scams and you can find the infograph below.

10 December 2015

The Age Factor

Age and how you perceive it, is a funny thing.

I remember being 13 and thinking that I couldn't wait until I was 18 and I could do what I wanted. 18 was the epitome of cool to me then.

I remember turning 21 and feeling that I was "old" now.  25 was full of "shoulda, woulda, coulda" with what I should have done and be doing with my life.  Turning 30 filled me with dread.  40 was, and still is at my present age of 36, an unknown but daunting prospect.  But why is it a daunting prospect?  

What I have come to realise however over the past couple of years is that age does not matter.  

The only problem with whatever age you happen to be is the limitations that we and society as a whole place on us.  Our lives are governed by this invisible set of rules and regulations of what you have meant to achieve, be and look like at various stages in your life.

I remember being told when I was around 26 that I had better get a boyfriend soon because "You don't want to be left on the shelf".  A man said this to me in all seriousness; like I am nothing more than a thing to be bought, sold or discarded.

At 30 the kindly advice people went up a notch.  "You are getting older now, you need to get married and have children before you can't have any"  Apparently the fact that I have never wanted children nor have (yet) met the right man means nothing against the milestones and rules that we apparently have to obey.

At 40 you are told that you are "over the hill".  Well I don't know about you, but some of the most vibrant and fabulous people I know are in their 40s,

Fast forward a few decades and you are in the winter of your life.  Twin sets, purses, iron grey perms, slowing down.  Why?  You are old, not dead!  My mum is living proof that your 70s can be fun and fashionable.  You do not have to give up and change who you are just because you are a certain age.  Rock it!



Age: 36   Amount of Fucks Given: 0 




8 December 2015

Christmas Gifts

I like to start my Christmas shopping early, ideally in mid November before things get scarily busy in the shops.  I am a planner when it comes to gift buying and I always try to buy things for people that are treats, something a little different or something that they would not buy for themselves.  That is what a present is all about!

Here are a few of things that I have come across whilst present buying this year that I loved and took note of.  

Happy Jackson Earphone Case - £8.95 found here
Novelty Eye Mask - £3.99 found here
Bath Glass Wine Holder - £6.95 
Memory One Line Per Day Diary - £11.95 

Picture Quote from Alice in Wonderland - £12.50 found here

These are all of the stocking filler type of price gifts which most of the women I know would to receive, but would not usually buy for themselves.

I also came across a post which showed the most extravagant, expensive and blow your mind gifts which you can find here from Currys.  

Can you imagine spending 50 million pounds on a diamond for a seven year old?  Oh how the other life!


Surprise in the Post

Sometimes the most exciting things come through the post, the best of which are things that you never expected!

When it comes to the winter months I adore anything that is fur and soft to the touch.  Enter my new clutch bag from Helen Moore, which was a gift from 32Red

This a great piece to have to add to your winter clothing collection.  It can add a touch of luxury to an outfit and is just the right size to keep your "night out essentials".  Plus, who can resist a pom pom?




3 December 2015

Shoe Gift Guide with Jones Bootmakers

Ladies’ gift guide

Struggling to find the perfect present for the lady in your life? Jones Bootmaker has created a great ladies’ gift guide, showing you what to buy every type of fussy females. Read on to sort your Christmas shopping in one fell sweep!

The party princess

Does she crave the shine of the disco ball? Is she often spotted on the dancefloor? If so, make her Christmas and invest in her most essential item: a pair of party-ready shoes!

This season, it’s all about metallic court shoes. Offering the perfect level of shimmer for any disco diva, the heels are ideal for dancing the night away over the festive season. The Jones Bootmaker Cerys court shoes are ideal, as they also nail this season’s must-have reptile-inspired trend.
 For an extra stocking filler, why not buy her a pair of cushioning insoles to keep her dancing for longer without the dreaded aches and pains?


The office style queen

Shopping for an office style queen? Take her from the boardroom to bar with a pair of our black patent tasselled loafers. Our Jones Bootmaker Genara loafers, for example, tick all of the boxes for this season’s trends. Tassels? Yes. Fringing? Got it! Pointed? Yup! Is there anything these shoes can’t do?

The casual chick

If your recipient lives life at a million miles an hour, they’ll need a pair of footwear that can keep up with their lifestyle. Whether it’s maintaining their yummy mummy status during the school run or enjoying a lunch date with friends, a pair of casual-cool ankle boots make for an ideal gift — the Jones Bootmaker Orchid ankle boots are a perfect choice.


The functional female

You don’t have to wear sky-scraping stilettos to make it onto the best dressed list — flats are stylish too! Give her the gift of fashion and function this year and purchase a pair of stylish ballet pumps. These Jones Bootmaker Gartree flats are an ideal choice, as they are comfortable and boast a high-shine finish — perfect for nailing this season’s hottest trend. They’ll complement almost any outfit too, making them a truly great investment. 

The laidback lady

Does your recipient prefer a night in to a night out? The couch to the cocktail bar? If so, we have the ideal present for her: a pair of slippers! An absolute staple Christmas gift, they’re perfect for those that like to hibernate during the colder months.

These Sheepskin Duchess slippers are an ideal choice. Their super-soft lining and trim make them perfect for keeping feet warm during the colder months. 

My Current Favourites

27 November 2015

Shoes for the Party Season

We are once again approaching the Christmas season.  A time where presents are planned and bought, nights out and get togethers are planned and the annual work Christmas party fast approaches.

It is nearing the end of November when I usually start to look for something to wear for the party season.  I usually try to wear one dress from last year, but to a different event, and buy something new.  One thing that I do like to buy every year however are party shoes.

When it comes to the party season, finding the right style of shoe to carry you through all the events and parties is a must have.  Something classical but stylish that will go with anything.

I have picked out a few of my favourites that are available this year, some of which are also happily on sale!
These strappy shoes from Office will add a sexy edge to a basic black dress or complement a more colourful outfit
 
 These sparkly court shoes from Carvela are the perfect pairing if you have dresses of different colours or patterns

 These iridescent numbers from Dune are quite right for adding a touch of colour and sparkle to your outfit whilst still being understated.  
You can't lose with these simple court shoes from Dune with silver bows,  Classically elegant and would look great at the office party.
Then of course, there are the shoes that you find and fall in love with.  These are my absolute favourites for the party season and worthy enough of planning the rest of your outfit around.
You can find these from Head Over Heels


What are your go to party shoes?


24 November 2015

My Stylish Mum

I was recently contacted by Daxon to see if I would like to work with them and feature my mum's style on my blog.  

I have talked about my mum before on this blog.  How she embraces life, how she maintains a sense of fun and youth and how she is still so stylish; even at 75.  She loves to play with accessories and always looks a million dollars.  No grey perms and twin sets for her, she is a bubbly beautiful blonde whose style I have always emulated.

We recently went for a makeover session together at the +Charlotte Tilbury counter at Selfridges and here is what she wore for the day.


 photo 1-C360_2015-11-24-14-21-44-833_zpsu8bmrrsl.jpg

 photo 1-C360_2015-11-24-14-23-25-942_zpsorw5wwle.jpg

 photo 1-C360_2015-11-24-14-20-43-868_zpsbhr6hgvp.jpg


 photo 1-C360_2015-11-24-14-27-31-489_zps1wll3bgy.jpg

Hands up how many of us wants to look this good at 75?  I know I do!

Coat - Daxon - £99.00 *
Red top and black skirt - Marks & Spencer
Boots - Past Season
Necklace - Next

Neither my mum nor I had ever had a beauty counter makeover before so we both excited to see how we turned out.  Alas the picture of my mum's makeover turned out a little blurry, but here was my makeover look, I went for the rock chick!


We had a wonderful day out, with the makeovers, Christmas shopping and a couple of glasses of wine to finish off the day perfectly.

Now roll on to our next day out! xx



20 November 2015

Stepping Past Our Carbon Footprint

I have been hearing a lot lately about the Government's decision to make retailers charge shoppers for carrier bags.

Many people seem to be scandalised that supermarkets and shops are now charging 5p for a carrier bag, but considering the changes that this will implement and the money that will be donated to charity, I think that this is a good and necessary change that will also help our carbon footprint. 

The figures speak for themselves.  8.5 billion carrier bags are given out on average each year.  Carrier bags are a huge problem for the environment, taking around 1000 years to break down in landfills and can be harmful to animals.

I read a few years ago about a Minke whale that was stranded on a beach in Normandy.   Whilst investigating the cause of death, it was found to have had 800g of plastic bags in it's stomach along with other packaging.

I came across the below infograph which tells us not only how to reduce our carbon footprint, but also save money too.






4imprint has a range of reusable and recycled products that could help you and 
your friends reduce your carbon footprint

In an effort to reduce my carbon footprint, I have now bought some personalised, fun and environmentally friendly bags to carry my shopping, a water bottle that I can refill instead of constantly buying bottles.  

On the more technical side, I have also invested in a bulk buy of Stylus Pens for my phone and the touch screen on my laptop.  Buying in bulk is far more environmentally friendly and can save you money in the long run too.  I cannot count the amount of pens that I have lost over the past few years and have had to replace.

How do you try to reduce your carbon footprint?




* As a result of this post, environmentally friendly bags will be donated to my local girl's football team

10 November 2015

If the Bra Fits, Wear It!

One question I see asked time and time again is where can you find pretty, fashionable bras for larger sizes?

This is a question that I have asked myself many times in the past.  Trying to find a bra in the right back and cup size that does not look like something my grandmother would wear has, in the past, been akin to finding the holy grail.

Thankfully, times are changing.

I recently came across an online store called Lingerie by Victoria Encouraged by my own name in the title, I did my usual bra search for my 46H and was pleasantly surprised to find some glorious bras in bright colours and lovely patterns.  Here are a few of my favourites from the Goddess and Elomi ranges:



There are also matching briefs available at £18.00


Matching Briefs £20.00



Matching Briefs £18.00




What I love particularly about these ranges are that there are usually matching briefs to go with the bras to make a full set.  I will never understand why more brands cannot do this as it is only common sense that most women would buy a matching set, I certainly do.

I decided to go for the black leopard print Goddess bra * and was happy to note that the colouring and pattern were just as vibrant in real life as in the photographs.  The bra is very comfortable and easy to wear.

The straps on the Kayla bra was just wide enough to give comfort without being cumbersome and unsightly.  The gore sits flat just as it should and I feel very supported, with the back of the bra sitting flat and straight on my back as it should.

For those of us with larger back and cup sizes it is especially important to get the fit right.  If you are spilling out of your cup, if the back closing is riding up your back and if the straps are digging into your shoulders, these are all signs that you are wearing the wrong bra.

I would recommending using the Butterfly Bra Size Calculator to accurately ascertain your correct size.  Do not always presume that an instore bra fitting will be correct.  If I had listened to Marks & Spencer for example I would be wearing a bra two back sizes too small and three cup sizes to small to boot!


*Denotes gifted item

9 November 2015

Simple Solutions for a Happier Life

With the modern world presenting us with longer working hours and many increased financial outgoings, it can sometimes feel like life is an uphill struggle. However, I've found that it's easy to put a little bit of balance back in my life by following a few of these small life changes.



Getting out and about


Simply going out and meeting people is one the best ways to put the spring back into your step. Whilst it can be hard to find the energy sometimes, I find that simply meeting a friend for lunch and discussing day-to-day activities can do wonders for my mood. This is because it seems that our actions determine our moods, not the other way around.

And this is why getting out the house can do so much in making us feel better, as it gives us a subtle shake-up to stop us getting too lethargic and dull. A little walk can be a good and quick way to refresh our minds, and it's been shown that somelight exercise can do much in making us feel better, so you can improve your mood without necessarily sweating it out at the gym!

Environmental concerns


As well as taking care of yourself, it's also important to spare a moment's thought for the state of our planet too. Without getting overly spiritual about it, I find that it's important to realise how connected everything is, so anything we can do to lessen the impact on our planet can do much to make us all feel better.

Whether it's eating a little less meat, or even taking public transport to work, environmentally-friendly habits all seem to have the dual function of caring for our planet, and helping us live better quality lives too. Our consumer choices also factor into this, which is why buying environmentally-friendly products such as electric radiators from the likes of Verismart, or even ethically-produced mobiles from companies such as Fairphone, can do much in helping us look toward to future.

Get creative


The power of positive thinking can do so much in improving the quality of our lives. I find it's a great idea to try and keep learning new things as a way to keep things interesting. Whether it's taking a dance lesson, or even learning a new language, keeping the brain active with new activities is key to lifting our moods.

I love checking out craft blogs like And Who Says You Can't which provide a great source of ideas to keep your hands busy and your mind inspired. It's all about making sure that we all spend our time doing what we want and cherishing each new day that comes to us.


*Written by Jess Walters

28 October 2015

From Paris With Love

When at home, I spend a great deal of time in my bedroom.  It is the place I go to relax, sleep (obviously) and watch television.  My bed is also my blogging office and my reading hub.

You would think that with this in mind, I would have decorated it with my personal taste and comfort in mind, but somehow; that has never happened.  My carpet didn't match my curtains, nor did my bedspread most of the time either.  My chest of drawers were peeling away on the top and my wardrobe was half inaccessible due to my bed.  It was lived in but not what you would call decorated.  I decided that things needed to change.

It started with a sign I bought from my homeware store which is practically a haven of all things decoration, called The Range.  My decided upon theme of 1920's Parisian style came from the pink vintage perfume bottle as pictured below.

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-25-11-34-42-082_zpscyyrutfy.jpg

Next I spotted a gorgeous Paris themed clock, bought for a bargain price of £12.00 from the same homeware store.

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-25-11-35-34-733_zps33wbyhff.jpg

What you really want in the Autumn/Winter months is something to cuddle up with.  As unfortunately you cannot go out and purchase a man, instead I decided to get this Paris themed throw * from Zazzle.  It is a great size and has such intricate detailing.  Not only does it look beautiful laid out on my bed, it is also warm and soft; perfect for wrapping yourself up in on a cold night with a good movie.  (I have put Vin Diesel on back order).

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-27-20-35-56-461_zpscaviptau.jpg

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-27-20-36-29-990_zps10fhohou.jpg

My tired old chest of drawers with the peeling away top has now been brought back to life with a french patisserie themed sheet (wallpaper thickness) which can be easily glued down,  I cover both of my drawers with this and it worked wonderfully, breathing new life into old furniture.  The coverings cost £3.50 per metre.

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-27-20-35-31-630_zpskdu3cst1.jpg

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-27-20-35-19-682_zps8hrji634.jpg

I finished my restyle project with a antiquey (is that a word?) looking mirror, bought for the bargain price of £20.00 as above, and a Parisian scene of a couple in love (whom I have named Marc and Sophie) which I found in the Boundary Mill Store for £25.00.

 photo 1-C360_2015-10-27-20-36-49-637_zpsmzcxzsle.jpg

All in all, I am very happy with how my room has turned out.  With buying things gradually it has been lovely to see the room slowly taking shape and finally looking like a proper bedroom!


* Denotes gifted item