Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Body Shop Christmas Blogger Event

I recently attended my first proper blogger event! Very exciting!

I haven't been to The Body Shop for ages, for no real reason, I've always liked their products but haven't really been shopping in Aberdeen that much recently with the flat taking over my finances! So I thought this would be a great opportunity to reacquaint myself with some old favourites and their new Christmas range.

I was introduced to Ginette who showed me around and told me all about The Body Shop including their War Child campaign to bring education to children in war-torn areas through sales of certain gifts from their Christmas range.

Talking about their Christmas range, it's fantastic! 

The gift sets are really nicely packaged and there are plenty of sizes, prices and smells to choose from!

I really wanted this musical tin and their advent calendar which was full of fantastic products, but I had set a budget before I went in to stop me from spending too much on myself!

And these were too cute for me to use!

They also have three wonderfully festive ranges based on three delicious scents - Frosted Cranberry, Glazed Apple and Vanilla  Brulee. It's a tough choice...

Whilst I contemplated my purchases, Charlotte introduced me to their new beauty lines including their new Nutriganics range where every product is at least 98% organic.

She showed me a few of her favourite products throughout the store and the new season's make-up range, including the super cute lip and cheek doll!

Then it was my turn for a makeover! I love getting my make-up done and I always ask loads of questions because when I try it myself I want it to look as good!

Charlotte did a great job and gave me a nice subtle but pretty look. She used Shimmer Waves in Bronze to contour my cheeks, then an All In One Cheek Colour and an All-In-One Instablur Eye Primer before applying colours from the Warm Shimmer Cube Palette and some liner to my eyes.

Chuffed and feeling pretty I did some shopping and collected my goodie bag before sashaying home!

So here's my haul (almost):

I forgot to include the Vitamin C Microdermabrasion in the picture, so I'll start with that. One word review - WOW! I've used microdermabrasion products in the past and this one is great! The particles are so tiny and you can really feel them working on your skin. It leaves your skin tingly and feeling flushed but be gentle or it can leave you feeling a bit raw!

The Vanilla Brulee Hand Lotion and Glazed Apple Body Butter smell delicious and give the usual luxurious feel that you'd expect from The Body Shop, but they both seem to be sold out online!

The Peppermint Cooling Foot Spray is fantastic for my weary pregnant lady feet! It leaves your tootsies smelling great and feeling fresh and cool.

My sample of the Nutriganics Softening Cleansing Gel Oil is long gone, but you apply it to your skin as a gel to remove makeup before adding water and rinsing off and my skin loves it! It really softens and leaves my face feeling fresh and clean.

The Born Lippy Pomegranate Balm has a really soft red tint and isn't sticky like some sticks I've tried recently.

The Red Musk Perfume Oil has a great tobacco scent, which sounds a bit weird, but smells great! It includes a dabber to apply it to your neck or pulse points.

And the one product that caught my eye as soon as I arrive at the store was the Vanilla Brulee Sparkler, which is a superfine glitter spray that smells amazing and looks fantastic!

The Body Shop have had fantastic deals running up to Christmas and their current promotion is £15 off when you spend £30. With free delivery when you spend only £5 it's a great opportunity to get those last minute gifts or treat yourself to some of their fantastic products!

Let me know what your favourite Body Shop products are or what you treat yourself to this Christmas!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Pregnancy Update: Baby Bird At 20 Weeks

20 weeks already! Whaaat?!

In the tradition of naming the baby after the fruit it's the size of, this is me and banana!

We recently visited the midwife and got to hear banana's heartbeat! It was nice and strong but there's a lot of wriggling going on in there! Next week we have our 20 week scan and we can't wait, although it's weird to think that's the last time we'll see baby before it arrives!

How I'm Feeling

I'm feeling good! The nausea has gone completely, I'm a bit tired and have twinges in my back and belly at times, but I'm generally feeling pretty good! I'm starting to feel some movement in there too!

What I'm Wearing

Mostly just work clothes and cosy pyjamas! This month we are wearing Christmas jumpers to work which is way comfier and much more fun than my usual uniform!

Otherwise, when I have to actually dress properly and leave the house, my pre-maternity wardrobe has crossed over and my uniform of black skinny jeans, tops and cardigans is still there, just with cosy big sections for the bump!

What I'm Eating

My appetite is pretty much back, although I'm still eating smaller portions. Current favourites include drinking milk and eating nuts. I'd include mince pies, Christmas cake and stollen in there, but I do that every year at this time!

I'd still love to hear from fellow maternity bloggers (I've already heard from a few) so feel free to get in touch! Also let me know if there's anything I've missed that you'd like to know about or how this compares to your experience!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Pregnancy Update: Baby Bird At 15 Weeks

A couple of weeks ago I announced that Allan and I are going to have a baby. I've found that reading blogs with maternity timelines is really helpful and gives me a rough idea what to expect along the way so I thought I'd do one of my own!

So this is me and Apple! We've been naming the baby based on its size and it's grown from a lime to an apple in three weeks!

How I'm Feeling

I'm now in my second trimester which means all the yucky symptoms of pregnancy should be mostly gone, but I've been really lucky and only had a few, very short periods of nausea throughout the day and these are pretty much gone.  I found that eating gummy sweets helped me through those waves, which Allan thinks is just an excuse for me to eat more sweeties! I do love sweeties, but that's just a happy coincidence! The main triggers were brushing my teeth and catching a whiff of a strong smell.

What I'm Wearing

I've just started wearing maternity trousers to work and it's SOOO much comfier! They also make my bump look like a bump and I don't feel like such a wee fatty! I've already packed away most of my wardrobe because it doesn't fit me anymore (WWWAAHHHH!) and I'm starting with a few essentials like over-the-bump skinny jeans and leggings and some tops I've bought in the sale or from eBay.

What I'm Eating

In the early days I was eating a LOT. I had a bump but it was more of a food baby than an actual baby! Now my tastes are more refined and I'm eating smaller portions of better food. The sweeties have reduced and now I'm eating a proper breakfast of cereal, a small, healthier lunch and in the evening I've taken a real shine to Ready Brek. I think it's because it's quick, hot and pretty non-offensive in the taste and smell categories. I'm also eating Babybels and drinking loads and loads and loads of diluting juice, I'm super-thirsty right now.

It'd be great to hear from fellow maternity bloggers (I've already heard from a few) so feel free to give me your deets or suggest any in the comments in below. Also let me know if there's anything I've missed that you'd like to know about or how this compares to your experience!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

My Year Of Change & The Double Whammy

Hi! You may have noticed I've been a bit absent recently (unless you follow me on Instagram!) but I have good reason (honest guv). Things have been...different lately.

Here's a wee recap:

This time last year I was single and had just moved into my own cosy little vintage home with my guinea pig Panda. Within two months I met Allan and four months later he moved in. When it's right, it's right, y'know?!

A few weeks later we welcomed Woody, a little furry friend for Panda, and then six months later in August we added the kittens Jack and Meg to our not-so-little family!

In July I was made redundant, which was a horrible time, but I luckily started a new job and things got back on track!

Now for the update:

We went on our first holiday abroad as a couple a month ago and had a fantastic time in Puerto De La Cruz in Tenerife. Then the most wonderful thing happened. At the foot of Mount Teide Allan asked me to marry him! Squee!

We knew we had to make the most of what would be our last sunshine holiday for a while because at that point we knew that I was 7 weeks pregnant!

We've just had our 12 week scan and our little peanut is now as big as a lime! We are so excited to finally be able to tell everyone about our first baby, it's been so difficult to keep it to ourselves! Phew!

This last year has been pretty amazing but I know the next 12 months will hold a lot of new adventures and I can't wait to share them with you!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

More New Additions!

It doesn't seem that long ago since I told you all about our last new addition Woody the guinea pig, who is now a not so little 6 month old and squeaky champion!

But now we have two more pets! I introduce to you, for your viewing pleasure, Jack and Meg!

We took these little bundles of fur home with us in June, and they were a great distraction whilst I was off work for a few weeks (see Redundancy And Me). I can't believe how much they've grown already!

They're about 13 weeks old now and causing a riot! They're little explorers, looking, sniffing and licking everything in sight and everything that can be moved has been moved, mostly until it reaches an edge and falls on the floor! The curtains have been climbed, the flowers tipped over, the toilet roll completely pulled out all over the bathroom, these little cuties get into everything! But they are so adorable I can't get angry with them.

Jack (left) likes to sniff flowers, hide in bags and playfully paw at guinea pigs. Meg likes to walk at your feet, chase her tail and suckle people which is a lovely but painful way to show affection. They both like to investigate cupboards, sleep on the amp or the towels in the bathroom, and they both love the smell of feet.

I was always a dog person with no interest whatsoever in cats but these tiny dudes have changed my mind. I'm 100% on board the Kitty Committee!

The kitties and piggies feature quite a bit on my Instagram, and I'd love to see your pets whatever they are, so share some links below!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Redundancy And Me

In April, the day we left for our weekend away to Aviemore, I was told that I was at risk of redundancy. Our trip away had actually been postponed to that weekend, which turned out to be pretty serendipitous.

I had suspected that it may happen. The company had made a few people redundant in the months prior, and there were going to be big changes which directly affected my work. But despite that, I still felt a bit numb.

Initially I was told it usually took around 3 weeks, but that deadline passed and I asked for an update, then that deadline passed and I asked for an update and so on and so on until 11 weeks had passed and enough was enough.

That Friday afternoon I went to speak to my HR department and burst into tears. I'm a pretty positive person, nothing much gets me down, so it was as much a surprise to me as it was to my colleagues. I was clearly affected by the whole thing much more than I'd realised.

The following Monday I went to the doctor and broke down crying again. I hadn't realised the symptoms until my GP joined the dots. For weeks I hadn't been sleeping well and I had blamed that for my tiredness, lack of energy, short temper and migraines, when they were all signs of stress.

Luckily during my three week sick leave period my company had finally come to a resolution and last week was my final week. I had a lovely send off from my colleagues of the last six years and despite all that had happened I was able to leave feeling positive about my new start.

I have a new job, which I start tomorrow. I've loved being a full-time Web Developer, but this has given me a chance to try something different. As of tomorrow I'm a Clothing Manager for Tesco! I'll still do some freelance web work but I'm looking forward to a more active job with a good team and new challenges. Most importantly,  I feel much happier and the stress has gone.

I know that redundancy and its effects vary from person to person, and that I'm lucky to have another job to go to, but I thought I'd share my story in the hope that it might help someone.

One thing that helped me greatly was the redundancy section of which tells you what to expect in a clear, simple way.

Here's some helpful advice I learnt/was given:

Take notes and where possible get things in writing as this will help if your case goes to a tribunal. You should receive minutes of any official meetings throughout the consultation period, but if you have any questions it's a good idea to email them or take notes. Ensure you read minutes carefully and highlight anything that doesn't tally with your account.

Consult any friends who work in HR or law as they know the process and your rights and can answer any questions without bias.

Start looking for alternative employment straight away. Until your redundancy has been confirmed you can't assume anything, and having a new job to go to is usually more important than a payout.

Look after yourself. The whole process can affect your health more than you think.

Have you been made redundant? Do you have any advice for others?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My Mini-Adventure To Aviemore

Recently I decided to treat Allan to a surprise weekend away. We were meant to visit a friend in Inverness a couple of weeks prior but were let down at the last minute (grrr!), and we both desperately needed a break away. I know that Allan loves Aviemore so that's where I took him.

He picked me up from work on the Friday night with no idea where we were going. He kept trying to guess as I guided him in the right direction and I had to keep my poker face! But when we drove into the resort his wee face lit up!

We stayed at Highlands Hotel in the Macdonald Aviemore Resort, which I chose because it has a swimming pool, spa, cinema, restaurants, and it's just off the main street.

It was quite late when we arrived so we took a quick walk into town for something to eat and found Super Panther, which is just an awesome name!

The place and staff are lovely, but the food was a bit mixed. Unfortunately Allan's food wasn't great, but mine was good. They did have some delicious looking baking though!

We headed back to the hotel with some snacks and fresh milk (that's the first thing I do, no-one likes those little milk pots they put in hotel rooms) and the driveway was lit up all pretty!

The breakfast at the hotel was great. They had everything, cooked breakfasts, cereal, pastries, even continental stuff like cheese and cold meat, and even granola. That's my new gauge for whether breakfast is good or not: Is there is granola and yogurt?

We headed to the Cairngorm Ski Centre with the intention of going for a walk...

...but not very far into it the weather turned and we headed back to the car.

At this point it turned again and the sun was shining! The joys of walking in Scotland!

We decided to head to the Glenmore Cafe, which is also known as the Squirrel Cafe because of the feeding area they have for wildlife. We didn't catch any squirrels, but we did see plenty of pretty birds!

It's pretty rustic and has lots of interesting things to look at whilst you enjoy your food.

Afterwards we took a walk on the beach at Loch Morlich and it was beautiful! The sun, the beach and the loch against the snow tipped mountains = priceless!

Next we headed to the Highland Wildlife Park to see all the lovely animals. Allan was trying to make friends with this camel and it came right up to the car to see him!

This hefty guy was just sat at the side of the road, watching all the cars go by.

I wonder how the guinea pigs would feel if I took this red panda home?

But the most spectacular of all the animals were the tigers. We saw a crowd gathering and people looking through the glass then walking away. What they didn't see was the mummy tiger lying on a bench at the back.  We stood for a moment and then she came forward...

What a beauty eh? (Obviously I'm not talking about my messy hillwalking hair!)

She went away again so we moved to the window overlooking their enclosure. All of a sudden we heard the most amazing loud roars in stereo and out they came, mummy, daddy and the two kids ran out and grabbed and tussled with the meat they'd been left.

We saw lots of other animals, but it's always hard to take good pictures from behind the glass and wire fencing. But there were wolves and wildcats and wolverines, owls, artic foxes and monkeys. You drive round half of it and walk around the rest. It was very weird seeing polar bears in a green field!

After a swim, steam room and sauna, we headed up to get ready for our evening meal. You see, this weekend was also our six-month anniversary! Don't we scrub up well?! I have no idea why this picture has come out so dreamy looking, I haven't even tampered with it!

We ate at Giovanni's within the resort and it was very tasty!

I was sooooo stuffed after a three-courser, I almost had to be rolled back to the room! But there was just enough space left for a little celebratory drink! What a lovely anniversary!

The next day we had another delicious breakfast and a dip in the pool before heading to the "Green Loch", so called because, yes you guessed it, it's a loch full of green water! It's so beautiful and peaceful there.

The walk there and back was really lovely too.

On the way home we popped in to visit Allan's friend then it was time to head home.  The closer we got the sadder I felt. I had such an amazing weekend that if we'd taken the guinea pigs I could have stayed there forever!

Monday, 5 May 2014

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. Another month, another charity bake sale! This time I decided to put my new machine to the test with some chocolate cakepops. The fun bit came when I was holding two dripping chocolate coated pops with nowhere to put them, but then I had a brainwave...stick them in the colander!

2. Allan cooked tea for my parents and he did a great job! Mum brought us these Bunny biscuits, she knows me too well!

3. As a reward I made us biryani for tea, the best bit was making poppadoms!  These were a Pataks ready to cook kit. You just stick them in hot oil for a couple of seconds and they puff up. Awesome!

4. There's a new patisserie opened in Aberdeen called Almondine, specialising in macarons. Leanne is up from London just now so we popped in for some tasty treats.

5. We also headed to our local comic books shop for Free Comic Book Day...

6. ...had a delicious tea at Wagamama (I always have Saien Soba)...

7. ...and laughed our heads off at Bad Neighbours. It was so much funnier than I'd expected! Oh yeah, and Zac Efron.

8. We went for a walk on Sunday and saw these tiny tadpoles in a puddle swimming about!

9. Allan put Panda in my hood and he was so happy and cute in there!

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Maira Gall