29 June 2017

The App Map

I was twenty when I got my first mobile phone.  (Whispers) eighteen years ago now.  I remember that it was a Nokia 3210 and I thought that it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Back then, you had calls, texts and the now famous Snake game.

Over the years phones got smaller and smaller, then larger and larger.  The technology improved until we have reached the point now that there is more technology on our phones than what was used to send us to the moon. 

These days, our phones are our worlds, holding everything in them that we hold dear.

We have reached the point where you can do anything on your phone. You can run your business from it, you can blog from it, you use it to capture all the moments of your life and share your thoughts with the world.

When it comes to the apps that we use, there are some that are staple needs like your email and a good camera app whilst others are tailored specifically to your needs.  Here are my go tos, with my beautiful Simba as a backdrop.  

I have my social apps like Twitter and Facebook, my email apps and my banking apps in top place.  Pixabay for my blogging is an essential as well as my music and the clock which wakes me in the morning with Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols.

Carphone Warehouse recently did a study of what apps people used on their phones across Britain, looking at ages, genders, incomes and where you live in the country.  

It is quite interesting to note as the statistics for the tops five apps for women do not include anything that I have on my phone.  For men, the top apps include Wifi Analyzer and Steam which is a gaming app.

Breaking the stats down into my age range of 35-44, the most popular apps are Kodi and CBeebies, whilst looking at my income bracket, that changes again to Facebook and a mobile banking app which looks more like me.

What does this study tell us?  That we are a diverse nation that uses mobile phones to tailor our lives to the way that we want them.  Surprisingly, for the people earning over 100k, one of the most popular apps is Farmville which is something that they share with the lowest earners in the East of England.

Check out the study on the link above, it is really interesting to note.

*Collaborative piece

28 June 2017

5 Things To Do Every Day To Feel Empowered

The process of spotting fear and refusing to obey it, is the source of all true empowerment.

- Martha Beck

Feeling empowered is one of the greatest feelings in the world. As women, we should always feel strong and in control. But feeling empowered can be hard to master and sometimes we need a little help.

One of the (probably first) ways that I actively empowered myself was when I was invited to an overnight blogger event in London. I was terrified. A combination of my social anxiety and the worry about having to travel and traverse London on my own was daunting. Not to mention a social gathering with nobody that I knew.

What I did to combat this was to break everything down into sections, Meticulously planning the travel arrangements and times. I printed out the route from Manchester to London so I knew what stops I would go through. I had a map of how to get from the tube station to my hotel. My subway passes were purchased ahead of time. I contacted someone who said that they were going to the event to meet up outside of the event. I planned each step of the journey and event and made them into sections. After each section was completed, my confidence grew more and more.

Empowering yourself is a process and some of the things we do each day can contribute to that feeling. Here are some ideas that could help you to feel empowered:

Don't Be Afraid To Promote Yourself
Every one of us has a skill of some sort. The problem is that many of us like to hide our talents under a bushell instead of promoting and using what we have. Each time I write and share a blog post I feel proud of myself for doing it and simultaneously slightly guilty for putting myself forward. To counter that, I push forward a little more.

Do A Form Of Exercise You Like
Exercise can help you to de-stress, as well as feel stronger and happier. People look at exercise all wrong, and think that it’s for those who want to shed the pounds. Instead, look at it as a way to make you feel like your best self. I love to walk my dog Simba after work when I come home. It is just me, my little puppa and my thoughts. It invigorates my mind and is something I really enjoy.

Dress However You Like
Don’t listen to anybody who says you can’t wear what you want. Wake up in the morning and put something on that makes you happy, whether it’s a crop top that shows off your curves or a pair of ridiculous trousers that brighten up your day!

My sense of style breaks "the fat rules" in that I do not conform. I wear a busy, bright patterned dress every single day. It is part of who I am and gives me a sense of self.

When I know that I am going to have a particularly trying week at work or I have organised a night out that I am nervous about due to my social anxiety, I set up reminders on my phone to hit me just at the right moment.  Just simple phrases.  You can do this.  You are enjoying yourself, just take a moment.  You are enough.  You know that you can do this.  It may feel silly at first but it really does work.

Empowering yourself does not happen overnight, but step by step, section by section, you will one day feeling like the confident women you always knew you were.  

Take A Selfie
A selfie is a signal that we want to be seen, that we feel confident. Whether you’re taking a picture of your makeup masterpiece or the incredible outfit you’ve put together that day, just do it! Take that selfie, take a thousand of them.  Embrace that face that is uniquely yours and recognise the beauty within it.  For tips of how to take that perfect selfie, check out the selfie guide

Tips and Tricks: The Art of Creating Excellent Selfies

Credit to Mary at MyTrendyPhone.co.uk

25 June 2017

Do you DIY?

My mum and I have been living alone together for a couple of years.  Neither of us have ever been DIY minded and previously, my step dad used to take care of any jobs that needed doing.  My brother is an electrician and my brother in law is a joiner so we have always had someone at hand to do jobs around the house.

We try to be as self sufficient as possible when it comes to things that need doing now.  It is the typically British way of not wanting to put someone else out.

Funnily, I remember the exact moment that I became more DIY minded.  We had purchased a wrought iron table and chairs for our little balcony outside which needed assembling.  I remember my mum saying to me "We had better get a man in to fix this up for us".  Me, being the feminist, was incensed by this suggestion and spent the next few hours putting the pieces together myself.

I admit, there were quite a lot of swear words involved as I had never done anything like this before; particularly when I put a chair leg on backwards, three times.  But I got there in the end and we like to sit on our balcony now with a glass of wine in the sunshine.  (I confess very gingerly the first time just in case it all fell apart!)  On a clear day you can see for miles and miles over the tops of the houses beyond.

I try to help around the house with jobs that need doing as much as possible.  My mum, despite her earlier comment, is a very independent woman and will always try to do jobs that at her age, I would prefer that she did not do.

Safety has to be a priority with DIY and jobs around the house.   Making sure that your rooms are well ventilated when you paint (especially if you have animals).  Buying a sturdy step ladder that will not fall over if said animal decides to run into it when you are on the top step.  Thinking about things like asbestos in older buildings when you are renovating which can lead to mesothelioma which I have talk about previously. 

Slater and Gordon Personal Injury have commissioned a survey into the dos and don't of DIY and how you can be safer when carrying out your jobs.  Click on the expansion box on the image below to take a look.

*Collaborative piece

22 June 2017

We Are The New Media

I must start by saying that my thoughts are with those who have lost friends, family and loved ones in the horrific fire at Grenfell Towers.  The footage and words from those who witnessed it is nothing short of the stuff of nightmares.

We do not know as yet how many died in the fire.  At the present time 79 people are listed as missing and dead; although reports have suggested that this may raise to treble figures. 

As they always do (and do not receive enough recognition for), the firefighters of London risked their lives trying to save people trapped in the tower, many of whom who had heeded the advice to stay in their flats.  Our emergency services should be commended, not only for their actions at Grenfell, but also after the London and Manchester terrorist attacks.  It takes a special kind of brave to run into a life threatening situation which others are running from.

Last Friday night, my only plans were to have a glass of wine, watch The Last Leg and generally have a relaxed night, away from social media (for once).  But then I saw the protest at Kensington Council offices on mainstream media and wanted to know more.  The real story.

The thing is; the mainstream media is increasing unreliable in getting the true story out there.  You receive limited information, usually aligned to someone's agenda when in fact, there is a lot more to the story that is not shown.

With this in mind, I searched the #JusticeForGrenfell hashtag and came across a periscope showing footage of around one thousand people marching across London. 

I have been given permission to share the Periscope footage by the man taking the video, DJ S.K.T who is an international DJ and producer of house music.  He was on his way to Notting Hill when he came across the march and decided to join and record .  He has asked me to confirm that he is neither a protester nor an activist.  He wanted to film to show people what was happening in a non-partisan way, which I think you can tell from the footage below.

The people on the march were from all walks of life.  The old and the young.  People from many different ethnicities, race and religion.  Men, women and (the occasional) child.  It was a peaceful march with minimal police presence. 

As I am sharing the periscope with permission, I will leave my own political views aside on this post but I can confirm that the march was full with people who were marching for justice for Grenfell, people who were angry at Theresa May and pro Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

The footage starts when DJ S.K.T came across it at Oxford Street and continued through Marble Arch, Edgeware Road, Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and ended up in Kensington for a vigil for Grenfell.  3.5 miles in all. 

There were no groups, no Antifa.  No agendas and no wish to do or cause harm.  It was people in unison, in peaceful protest.

Yet, despite the major TV networks watching and in some cases commenting on the periscope, the march was barely shared or even mentioned by anyone.  The angry protest at Kensington Council was played over and over again, yet no footage of the peaceful march which lasted around two hours was shown.

I woke up on Saturday fulling expecting there to be talk of the march in the news and the media.  Yet there was nothing.  I woke to find Saturday Kitchen trending on Twitter instead of the people who stood up and marched to make their voices heard.

People are no longer content to let the major TV networks and newspapers tell them what to think.  They no longer care to be shown only heavily edited and some in cases prejudiced information.  They want the real story, what really happened and this is why it is important that videos like this are shared.

I saw people from around the world commenting as the footage progressed.  The world is watching.  Maybe it is now time that the world saw us for what we really are.  Unedited. 

Because it is when things are at their worst that the people in this country come together.  When we are together, in unison, we are unstoppable.  That British spirit is in all of us. 

It is the spirit that arranged a clean up crew on Twitter after the London riots of 2011. 
It is that spirit that makes us come together and do everything we can after the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. 
It is that spirit that started the relief and help for the people of Grenfell Towers when the towers were still burning.
It is that spirit that made an elderly lady in a mobility scooter travel from Ilford to Finsbury Park to apologise to the people at the mosque and the Imam who stopped people from hurting the terrorist (alleged at this stage while police investigations are ongoing.

We are in the digital age now and it is time that we show people who we are.  Not just the bad, because there really is so much good.  If you wish to donate to the people and survivors of the fire at Grenfell Tower, you can do so here ArtistsForGrenfell

16 June 2017

Get The Most of Your Vacations

I realised last month after my best friend's anniversary that I had not been abroad for six years. The last time was her wedding in Cyprus. This has been due to a lack of planning as much as a lack of funds.

The thing about travel is that it can be pretty expensive, so it’s best to get as much as you can out of it as you can. In one of my previous posts I talked about wanting to go on a holiday alone next year. This has now progressed into possibly visiting a few different areas (or countries!) during a couple of weeks time period. This is something that I really, really want to go and as such, I have been doing a lot of research.

The thought of travelling alone is both terrifying and exhilarating to me and I want to ensure that I am have the best time possible. Here are some of the tips that I have been picking up to plan a travelling trip in the best way - ensuring that you get the most possible out of it.

Do your research

When people talk about doing research before travelling, they’re usually thinking of the sort of research you do when you’re building an itinerary. Going on Yelp to find local businesses, looking at Google Maps to find the routes you need, et cetera. But the sort of research that really helps you get to know a place on a deeper level can involve reading more about the history of the destination, or even reading fiction from its writers. Visit travel blogs that have odd anecdotes about vacations in the area are worth a read! These things help you get a feel for the culture before you arrive, which can increase your empathy and sensitivity once you’re at the destination.

Don’t build a hectic schedule

One of the most common mistakes with any sort of vacation is the building of a really busy itinerary. People think of all the attractions they’d possible want to see then create a day-by-day, even hour-by-hour schedule to make sure they can fit it all in. But not only are these itineraries pretty hard to stick to most of the time, but it also puts you in a bit of a rush when you’re there. This, of course, is a mistake. To get to know a place much more, you should really slow things down. Less is more when it comes to itineraries; spend more time at your chosen destinations, and allow for some leeway so that you don't see just the touristy things, but nothing about the area or its people.

Interact with the locals more

If you really want to get to know a place as much as possible, then is there really a better way of doing it than by spending more time with the locals. If you’re visiting a foreign country, then this may mean that you have to learn a bit of the local language. (Don’t just assume they’re going to know how to speak English, even if you’re going somewhere like Germany or France!) If you have the time, then see if they’re willing to share interesting stories about their lives in this place. At the very least, you should be able to get recommendations for places to visit that the guidebook doesn’t even mention. Speaking of which…

Don’t rely on the net for all your info

One of the reasons why speaking to the locals is such a good practice is that you’ll get more suggestions of places to visit, or a better feel of where the locals like to eat and drink. A lot of people rely too heavily on the Internet for this sort of information. That five-star review on Yelp tells you a lot less about a given place than you might think - and the same goes for a one-star review! Another reason that the Internet can be a little unreliable is that most people end up going directly to a business’s website to find out more about it. This doesn’t always give you the most balanced and fair view of the place.

Personally I never rely on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp because every single person has different wants, needs and preferences. Someone's version of a perfect place might be another's version of hell!

Get yourself a guide

A lot of people are put off of the idea of getting a guide, or going on tours, because it seems to impose some sort of strict schedule on them. But if you’re going somewhere fairly exotic or adventurous, or even if you’re simply going to a city where you don’t know the language all that well, then hiring a guide might help you see much more of your destination. Don’t assume that guides all work on commission for nearby tourist spots - many of them will be multilingual locals who are pretty much willing to aid you in whatever you fancy doing. There are a lot of other reasons to hire a guide on vacation, but the potential to learn much more about your destination is definitely one of the most important.

For myself, I think that this would be better if there are a few of you travelling together. On a solo holiday you might feel like you had hired a friend for the day!

Go solo

I am told (and I hope) that people really do underestimate how good solo travelling can be. Whether it’s because of a lack of independence, fear of safety, or even financial constrictions, most people simply don’t consider the idea of going to a new destination without a trusted friend or family member.

But a solo adventure actually forces you to come out of your shell and interact more with the place around you. This is what I want. It helps you feel a lot more familiar with the location much faster, because you’re simulating the experience of simply wandering around just like you might do at home.

There are businesses like Just You - Solo Travel that provide packages and plans for those who don’t quite know how to go about it and need a little help. In general, solo adventuring is one of the best ways to get the most out of your vacation - so don’t dismiss it!

Keep the camera in your pocket

Don’t see most of your vacation through a camera lens, or through the screen of your smartphone. I’m not saying don’t take pictures - because you absolutely should - but your first instinct when you see something astonishing shouldn’t be to reach into your pocket. This actually alienates you from the experience somewhat; it forces you out of that immediacy and turns you into a different type of observer. Really take the time to look at things with your naked eyes; this is where the priceless moments of any vacation are found.

As an example of this, last year I saw someone say that they had missed the experience of their child seeing Disneyland for the first time, because she was so concentrated on getting the right photograph to capture the image. In doing that, she missed the moment.

Look first, take photograph later!

*Collaborative piece

15 June 2017

Create The Illusion of a Bigger Bathroom

Oh to have a bathroom like that. Ours is ultra tiny and we are always trying out new ways to make the space look bigger and create more room. If you have an ensuite bathroom, then you're very lucky. There is something so elegant and suave about having your very own bathroom.

Like with a regular family bathroom. if it's a little smaller than what you wanted though, don't splash the cash on expanding it right away, as there are many different tricks that you can do in order to make it appear a lot bigger than it actually is.

Here are a few things that we have tried out.

Use the same floor and walls
Whether you prefer a tiled finish with marble, or maybe wood is more your style - whatever it may be, if you use the exact same material on your floors and your walls, it will create the illusion of a bigger bathroom because there is no dead end as there usually would be.

We now have a pale grey sparkly floor and a grey matching door. This has definately made it look like we have more floor space that we actually do.

Furnish wisely
If you try and fit in large pieces of furniture into a small bathroom - it's obviously just going to look even smaller. So stick to the things that you really need and try not going overboard. That doesn't mean you can't add your quirkiness; you just need to prioritize. Remember that vanity units are great for storage, so the more you can get in there - the more space you will have on the outside.

The only thing using the floor space in our bathroom now, apart from the necessities is a corner washing basket that fits in perfect between the shower and the sink.

Add accessories
Accessories are a great way to add more to your bathroom without having to spend much. It can really improve a dull, compact space, by brightening it up and adding some personality. Even just going as far as adding a little plant in the corner, or on the windowsill will make a difference. A mini bonsai plant would be perfect.

The mirror trick
Many interior designers use this trick all the time because it really does work. Mirrors reflect light, which creates the impression of space. So when strategically placed, your room could actually end up looking double the size. If you have a window letting in natural light, put the mirror facing it so more light will be able to bounce off.

We have mirror in our vanity cabinet and also a huge one on the opposing wall, which really creates the illusion of more space.

Fit a sunken bath
We have a walk in shower only instead of a bath, but if you prefer a bathtub instead of a shower, think about how much space you could save if you install a sunken bath, let alone how fancy it would be. The same kind of thing goes for sinks too; you can find a variety of undermount sinks at Tap Warehouse that fit in with your cabinet or countertop, so you have a lot more room.

Think within the box
If you have a lot of products that you can't throw out, but very minimal space to use in the bathroom (and your budget is a very restricted one,) then go basic. Buy a box, and put everything in it. There are plenty of nice looking boxes out there on the market that are made out of wicker or wood, that look really pretty. So it's not as brutal as it sounds - but it's efficient enough for now.

Stack it up
If you're thinking of adding an open cabinet, instead of going wide - go high instead. This will save you a lot of floor space to move around in. As long as you can reach what you need, this is a great option, not only for your bathroom but for any area within your home.

Befriend the shelves
Shelves are a brilliant way to save space and also add to the atmosphere. If you want to be a little ‘out there’, then don't go for a neutral colour, choose a bright blue or orange instead. Invisible shelves do just what the name implies; they look as if they're floating on the wall, so this, paired with a pop of colour will look pretty damn cool.

Don't clutter it up
We all know that there is nothing pretty about clutter. It makes a room look messy and disorganised, and if you have a relatively small space to deal with - it's not going to help the situation. So don't leave out your makeup brushes, nail varnish or hair spray on top of the countertop - find a proper home for it all. Not only will this look a lot neater, but you will also avoid losing your favorite beauty blender.

*Collaborative Post

13 June 2017

Why I'm Done With Online Dating

* This is a bit of a read

I never thought that online dating was for me.  I always wanted that chance meeting in a coffee shop, eyes meeting across the street; a friend that turned into the one you love.  That never happened for me and I decided what the hell?  Give online dating a whirl.

Tinder was never going to be for me,  The idea of swiping left or right (I never figured out which way was which) just on the basis of someone's face seemed superficial to me.  If you are looking for a partner, it has to be based on personality too.  This is a person you are, hopefully, going to spend the rest of your life with.  Tinder is for hook ups, nothing more.

My commitment to online dating was dubious at best so I chose a free dating site, Plenty of Fish.  I filled out my profile, was as honest as I could be and added the photos.  I decided in advance that the "Hi" messages were not going to get a reply. The people with the "fill out later" profiles were of no interest.

I have had more "Hi"s than I can count.  Some with more of a reply who were basically looking for a hook up.  Some who blatantly copied and pasted their auto first message.  I lost interest and only went on the site now and again.

I met my first online date after weeks of talking and finding more about each other.  He seemed like a nice guy and was really into me, which is always good.  I will call him T.  We lived over an hour away from each other but he was happy to come to me, which was a good sign.  We met in a local pub and within the first five minutes he was telling me that he had very severe anger issues and had been referred to a psychiatrist.  Great.

We messaged a few times after but I had no interest in meeting again.  I had no desire to have any kind of relationship with someone with anger issues.  The anger issues came out when I told him I could no longer commit to messaging him as my step dad had died.  He went ballistic.  Goodbye.

I went on the site less and less, dabbling occasionally on weekends but the messages I received were still the usual.  I went on a few more dates but there was a mutual no "click".  Then I got a message from, we will call him S.  S sent a great first message and his profile, actually filled out for a change was interesting.

We talked for around three weeks, first on the site and then moving to WhatsApp.  We had similar interests, a similar outlook on life and I really liked him.  We agreed to meet in Manchester which was a middling distance between us.

On the Saturday before our mid week date, I realised that there was something inaccurate on my profile; namely that when I created it, I was not smoking and now I am (yes  I know, bad Vicky).  I thought it was only fair that I let S know this in case he changed his mind about wanting to meet with me.

S was the kind of person who was texting me morning, noon and night, every day. If he didn't hear back from me after an hour, he would send another text to see what I was doing.  *Edit* on reading this paragraph after I typed it, I realised just how much of a red flag that is, and wonder how the hell I didn't think that at the time.

I did not hear back from him for the rest of the day, which was unusual for him but I figured maybe he wasn't into a smoker.

Just after midnight (when he starts his night shift) I got my first message.  Incensed that I had not told him previously, not believing that I did not know what my profile said as "he knew what was on his profile, every minute of the day!.  He demanded that I explained myself.

I responded, telling me I wouldn't be spoken to like that, especially after being honest.  I said that I no longer wished to meet and, not knowing how best to end the message, finished with "take care". Turns out that telling someone to take care is not the best idea.

From just after midnight to the time when I eventually blocked him completely at 3.30am, he proceeded to call me every variation of the whore that he could think of.  A "man like him would not be told to take care by a girl like me" apparently.

I don't know how many messages I received.  One probably every five minutes for a good three hours.  By the end, the combination of insults and thinly veiled (almost) threats, I was scared.  What I should have done is save the conversation, screenshot the worst of it and ring 101 the next day.  Hell, I could even have reported him to his employers considering that he was doing all of this on work time.

But I didn't think.  I was scared.  The level of rage directed at me was overwhelming and I will be honest,  I felt really scared for a few days.  Even though he knew what town I lived in but not my address, I found myself jumping at sounds outside when I let the dog outside.  He was a self professed "techie" and he knew I blogged.

Along with blocking him on WhatsApp and blocking him from POF, I also deleted my profile.  It is too easy to hide your true self on the internet.  I know that my personality is more exaggerated on the internet when I talk on Twitter or speak on my blog.  Because on here, I am unfiltered.  This goes the same for people who wish to hide their true selves.

I consider myself as having a lucky escape.  If I had not messaged him that day, I would have met up with him the following week.  If we had clicked,  I could have found out his true self when alone with him, heaven forbid at his place or somewhere on our own.

So I am done with online dating.  My match, my soul match if I ever find one will have to find me in pre internet ways.  I no longer trust the face on the internet.

12 June 2017

Tips To Make Your Skin Glow This Summer

When it comes to skincare, my face can be sometimes problematic.

Although I have been lucky in that I have clear skin, I am frequently guilty of neglecting it, using soap and make up remover wipes rather than really looking after it.  

The issue for me is that my face sometimes reacts to products and there does not seem to be any indicator as to why.  If my skin decides that it does not like a product my face immediately goes bright red and sore.  Not a good look.

My skin is at its best when I use micellar water to remove my makeup and maintain a twice daily cleanse, toner and moisturiser routine.  I use micellar water from the pound shop which does the job perfectly.  I also use the Boots Essentials Cucumber cleanser, the Clinique No 2 Clarifying Lotion and the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel which is the best product I have ever used. My face feels like it is saying thank you when I apply it.

I did also try out the Clinique facial wash but unfortunately, it does not agree with my skin and turns me into a cherry tomorrow.

Now is the perfect time to spring clean your skincare and one of the ways I want to look at my skincare is from a nutritional point of view.

Your skin consists of billions of cells. Each cell is an organism that requires oxygen and nutrients in order to thrive.

While many creams exist to moisturise and help the anti-ageing process, it is possible to improve the condition of your skin from the inside with the right nutrition.

I have just completed a one month course of Lumity which I will talk about in a separate blog post, but here are some of the things that you can do on a nutritional level to improve your skin.

The Science Bit
Skin can be subject to damage from free radicals, particularly if exposed to strong sunlight. There are 25 types of collagen in the body and, along with elastin, they give skin texture and structure. Free radical damage causes collagen and elastin to break down, which leads to wrinkles and skin losing its firmness. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and coenzyme Q10 can protect cells from the damaging affects of these toxic chemicals.

Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, however this vitamin is easily destroyed by cooking and food processing. Levels of vitamin C are also reduced by factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol and certain drugs such as antidepressants and oral contraceptives. As a result, supplements are a great way to ensure that you get enough of this vital nutrient. The Recommended DailyAllowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 60mg/day of 120mg/day if you are a smoker.

Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance which can be obtained from the diet, however most is manufactured within our bodies. Our ability to do this decreases from our mid-twenties, making supplements important. Coenzyme Q10 plays an important role in producing energy in our bodies and is also a powerful antioxidant. This means it protects the skin from free radical damage and promotes effective skin repair. Coenzyme Q10 has been proven to reduce the depth of fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Given that I am a smoker, taking a daily Vitamin C supplemental alongside some Coenzyme Q10 pills is something that I am going to implement into my daily life.

Fatty acids and skin repair
Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 are required for healthy skin, hair and nails. The richest source of Omega 3 is fish oil from oily fish such as herring, salmon, tuna and sardines. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory, making it good for irritable, sore skin. Many people choose to take an Omega 3 fish oil supplement. Due to concern about environmental pollution in fish, it is safest to choose a supplement which contains oil from the flesh of the fish, rather than the liver.

Omega 7 fatty acids are perhaps less well known, but have a number of health benefits, including skincare. Omega 7 sea buckthorn oil capsules from Pharma Nord contain oil from a tiny berry and help with lubrication through the body, protecting the internal organs, as well as the linings of the eyes, mouth and skin. Sea buckthorn oil is one of the best natural oils for mature and wrinkled skin due to its essential fatty acid and vitamin E, C and A properties. It has nourishing, moisturising and restorative action, promoting tissue regeneration and reducing age-induced skin wrinkling and signs of premature ageing. Seabuckthorn oil also has natural sun protecting power.

The importance of blood flow
Blood supply to the skin is extremely important if the skin is to get all the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Pycnogenol is a plant-based extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree and can be taken as a supplement to improve blood circulation. This can help with skin hydration and vitality. Pycnogenol can also help to reduce wrinkles by binding with skin proteins collagen and elastin to protect from various harmful enzymes. It also rebuilds elasticity, which is essential for smooth, youthful skin. It has also been shown to reduce over-pigmentation for a more even complexion.

In terms of sun care, sunburn is an inflammation caused by free radical induced tissue damage. By neutralising these free radicals, pycnogenol helps protect the skin from the stress and damage of sunburn.

In the UK we are all guilty of forgetting to use sun cream, thinking somehow that the sun is not as strong as it is when we go abroad, which is of course ridiculous.  

So my plan for healthy, glowing skin this summer, and continuing, is to start taking regular nutritional supplements and hopefully, I will soon have skin like a goddess!

*Collaborative Post 

It's All in the Present

Giving gifts can be really hard, especially when you’re buying for someone fussy or someone who doesn’t know what they want. It’s even harder when you’re buying for someone who has everything! You might have already read this guide to buying gifts - but check it out if you’re struggling.

Image by Flickr

However, there’s a few ways you can make even the most mundane gift seem special. Because, let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Sometimes people don’t want fancy gifts like jewellery. Sometimes, they just want practical, useful gifts they can use every day - and you can find some ideas on BuzzFeed. Dads and brothers asking for socks? Mums just wanting a nice new diary? They’re good gifts, and are obviously well appreciated and used. But they just don’t seem that special. So, when you’re faced with a tough gift giving situation, here are some tips you can use to make any present exciting.

Go for the personal touch

You can’t always give someone a really heartfelt, personal gift. If you had the time, talent and money, then you might be able to spend weeks or even months crafting a delightful present. But sadly, there are few of us that can do that. But there’s a way around this. If you’re buying someone something practical or useful, but not necessarily special, why not add some personalisation? It’s a really lovely way to mark something out as especially for that person. It turns a normal, practical present into something more special. And it shows that you’ve spent more time on their special day than simply ordering something online. There’s no limit to what you can personalise - check out sites like Giftsin24 for proof of that!

Choose the premium, high quality option

If the person you’re buying for has told you exactly what they want, then why not step it up a gear? Instead of buying a brand’s standard set of socks, why not look for the premium collection? Don’t just buy a boring diary - buy one with a gorgeous finish, embossed letters and thick paper. Even when you’re buying practical presents, you can still have fun. Shop around and see what gems you can find. It can sometimes be easier to buy gifts when you know exactly what you’re looking for! And buying premium gifts doesn’t always mean spending premium prices. This blog has some nifty hints and tricks to help you save money when buying from expensive, designer brands.

Spend time on gift wrapping and presentation

Image credit: Berries

So, you’ve settled for those bamboo wool socks with the personalised monogram on the side? Perfect. Now, to give it that extra special touch, concentrate on the wrapping. None of us admit it, but part of the fun of both giving and receiving gifts is the moment before you open it. If you’re unwrapping thick gift paper and undoing soft, satin ribbon, you’re going to be even more excited by the time you get to your gift. Plus, it shows that you’ve made an effort through the whole process - from thinking up the idea, to handing the gift over. Not bad for a pair of socks, eh! If you need a helping hand with where to start, read this guide from Happiness is Homemade.

*Collaborative piece