Lola and Behold in February

This month I am more than a little bit excited by the prospect of not one but potentially four holidays in the pipeline! Holidays are what get me through the tough times at work, so I'm very pleased to finally have something to look forward to. I've booked a trip away to Turkey for next month, as well as being lucky enough to get a place on a blogger trip to Center Parcs in June. 10 female bloggers in the same place for a whole weekend - exciting and terrifying in equal measures!
The workload has really ramped up over the last month, and all of my evenings and weekends are beginning to look a lot like this. I am resenting the fact that studying has to come ahead of the blog, but fortunately it's only until June and then I can properly immerse myself back in this little online world. I am actually really enjoying the opportunity to study again, which I really didn't think I would, but I can't say that I'll be too upset when I finally get my free time back!
I couldn't help but include a picture of one of my beautiful cats - I have a feeling this will be a monthly occurence! When work gets tough and I find myself getting stressed out, half an hour in the company of two cats who don't have a single care in the world (other than when they are going to catch the next unsuspecting mouse), brings me gracefully back down to earth with a gentle thud.
As well as endeavouring to try out new hobbies and activities to broaden my mind and keep me busy, I am trying to remember not to neglect the old hobbies. I've played the piano for as long as I can remember, but I hardly ever play anymore. I decided to sit down and play to myself the other day, and before long found that a whole hour had whizzed past. It allowed me to completely disconnect from the stresses of life, and remind me why I used to love playing so much. I really must do it more often. 
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a tea party at White Stuff in Brighton. The shop was beautifully decked out with tea party props, crockery, nibbles and tea, to accompany their new vintage tea party-inspired collection. As well as getting to check out some beautiful items of clothing after close and chat to the staff about the inspiration behind the collection, it's always great to have an opportunity to meet up with my favourite Brighton bloggers. Those ladies always lift my spirits!
I managed to try my hand at some embroidery at the tea party, thanks to Mollie Makes and Kate. I actually found it surprisingly straight-forward and relaxing, and as I have a lot of old embroidery thread lying around from my 'lets make loads of friendship bracelets and wear them stacked up my arms' days, I may experiment with this a bit more. Here you can see mine and Sophie's finished designs - not bad for about half hour's work and never having embroidered before!
The items in the new collection were absolutely beautiful, and having to choose just one or two items to take away was very difficult! I spotted some shoes which I absolutely loved, although you can only see the back of them here! They were a pair of gorgeous cleated court shoes, which would be great to go with a pair of woolly tights whilst the weather is trying to warm up - I'm desperately trying to move away from wearing boots!
Speaking of woolly tights, I couldn't resist these gorgeous black tights with rainbow flecks in - I love a good pair of thick, woolly tights, and these discrete flecks of colour add a little bit of life to an otherwise boring outfit. They are great quality, and I will no doubt be picking up some more tights in the future from White Stuff! White Stuff were kind enough to give us all a very generous gift card, so I picked up these tights and the white floral top in the middle of the picture above.
I spotted Sophie's nails at the White Stuff event and I couldn't believe how detailed and pretty they loked! She got them done by Poppie at She-Nail; Poppie previously worked for Wah nails and is extremely talented - a quick look at her website is testament to that! I can't wait to try She-Nails for myself - definitely recommended if you're in the Brighton area!
At the weekend I decided to spend the day out shopping. For me, this is a big thing, as I absolutely detest shopping. I'm okay if there's no one else around, such as at an after-hours blog event (hallelujah for blogger events!) or I can shop online, from the privacy of my own home, but in general I just hate crowds and people. I took myself off somewhere fairly quiet, and picked up some new threads. I finally managed to get my hands on the perfect pair of Topshop jeans - I have noticed that over the last few years they have done away with real denim and replaced it with my arch-nemesis, jeggings. But finally, I found an actual pair of real jeans. I've been making a conscious effort to get rid of things I don't need anymore or will no longer wear, so have been going eBay crazy. It is so satisfying getting sales - if you would like to see an eBay tips post for sellers, please let me know!

Another thing I needed to get was a new phone, so I got a slight upgrade from the 5 to the 5S - I still haven't quite got over the novelty of unlocking my phone with my THUMB!

I couldn't resist a quick look in Pandora, which inevitably ended in the purchase of two new rings - I am completely obsessed! I've got a real thing for nice bits of jewellery at the moment - there are some stunning and very classy watches at Market Cross Jewellers which I wouldn't mind snapping up when finances allow!
This week I was lucky enough to be in print, which was a very exciting moment for me - wahey!
Lately I've been trying out some skincare products from Sk:n Clinics* which are absolutely fab - the ranges are all colour-coded, for instance purple for anti-ageing, and green for correcting products, making it really easy to pick out the right products for you. I've also been trying my hand at fake tanning (something that I am a complete car crash at), and the one thing I was really excited to try was these Solait Self Tan Wipes. I had seen these mentioned on another blog and it said how easy and fool-proof they were to use - they obviously hadn't bargained on this fool, because my hands ended up as brown as the packet and I had straight lines all down my arms and legs. My next job is to try the Brown Cow Gradual Tanning Gel*, which is apparently a favourite of Gwyneth Paltrow's!
I've made a few discoveries this last week - the first is Halo Eye Makeup Remover Pads*, which I received in the #NYLdnMeet goody bag - these are fab! They are so gentle on your eyes, and mean that I don't have to go to the effort of using cotton wool and remover for my eyes and then something else for my face - I just use these on my eyes and then cleanse my face, and job done. I've since scouted out some economy equivalents from Tesco, and think these will become a firm favourite in my stash.

Whilst clearing out my room I found this VO5 Plump it Up Lotion*, which is incredible for adding volume. I can't believe the difference it makes, and that it's been sat at the back of a drawer for so long!

I picked up the new Bourjois Silk Edition Powder from Superdrug, which is a dream to apply, as well as two of the new Barry M Speedy Quick Dry polishes, in two completely gorgeous shades.
Finally, at the recommendation of a fellow Laura, I have been completely immersing myself in podcasts and audio books. I have just finished Serial, and was so hooked on it that I can't wait for the second series. I'm really enjoying a bit of down time on my commute whilst listening to podcasts, and am currently looking for some new series to try. If you have any recommendations, leave them below!
So what have you been up to this month?
*This post contains a sponsored link


#MySmileMatters - 17 Thoughts You Have When You're Not Happy With Your Smile

1. If I cover my mouth, no one will look at my teeth, right? Or will they just be thinking I'm covering up food in my teeth?
2. Oh wait, will people actually be able to hear me talking through my hand?
3. Ahh, look at that girl with those damn straight pearly whites. Why don't mine look like that?
4. Oh gosh, there's beautiful, gorgeous, red-carpet teeth everywhere I look. Stop taunting me!
5. Perhaps if I turn my head slightly for this photo, my teeth won't look so bad?
6. I must check that photo. I must see how bad my teeth look. Or not. Maybe I don't. Maybe it'll put me in a bad mood for the rest of the night... No really, I'm overreacting. They'll look okay.
8. They don't.
7. Why, oh why did I stop wearing my retainers all those years ago. If only they'd still fit and my teeth hadn't moved so much!
8. Maybe if I whiten my gnashers, it'll detract from the fact they're not as straight and perfect as I'd like? The brighter they are, the more people will be blinded when they look at me, right?!
9. Perhaps I need to learn to 'smize'. All the celebs do it, so it must work.
10. Damn, this 'smizing' makes me look like I'm in pain. I must. not. smize.
11. If I wear heavy, gothic eye makeup, no one will look at my mouth. Maybe that's what I'll do.
12. Look at all those beautiful lipsticks! So many pretty shades... but how can I possibly wear lipstick without drawing attention to my teeth?!
13. Why didn't I make the most of free dental care when I was a teenager. How much is it going to cost me to sort my smile out?! Time to start entering the lottery.
14. I'm being hard on myself - my teeth are fine. Find some more important things to worry about. The problems with my teeth are minor. No one will notice. But I notice.
15. No they're not. Every time I pass a mirror I have to practise smiling in a way which won't make me self-conscious!
16. Damn my smile.
17. Perhaps I could get a bew smile at Oasis Dental Care, because #MySmileMatters.
In all seriousness, eyes and teeth are the first things I notice in people. I used to have a beautifully straight smile, but I made the mistake of neglecting to wear the retainers my orthondontist gave me when I was still at school, and my teeth have since all moved. My teeth no longer close together properly, and it winds me up no end. The two things that bother me about myself are my height, which I cannot change, and my teeth, which I can change. I am constantly aware of how my teeth look, and it affects my confidence all the time - especially when I start talking to someone new with perfect teeth, I feel the need to close my mouth and respond with murmurs and head nods instead of normal human conversation.

I've looked into various dental procedures, but Invisalign appeals most due to the discretion of the retainers (my years of train tracks are long gone!) and the ability to see the planned results before you proceed with the treatment. Unfortunately adult life, bills, and debts get in the way, and finding the funds to correct my smile would probably involve selling my soul. I would absolutely love to win the #MySmileMatters competition, as it would boost my confidence no end, and make me a very happy bunny indeed. I would love to share my journey on this blog for others thinking about going down the same route.
 *This is my entry to the Oasis Dental Care #MySmileMatters competition


How to Declutter Your Wardrobe

Living in rented accommodation, and having moved around six times in as many years, keeping my belongings to a minimum is an absolute must, to ensure that come moving day I'm not taking with me a whole heap of clothes and belongings that should have been long gone. I also find it quite a cathartic process to go through all of my things whilst I'm packing them into boxes, and decide which things need to go. I like to employ my usual 'three piles' method:

Anything that I just can't bear to part with goes straight to pile number one. This will include things that I regularly wear, items that can be worn for special occasions, and things that have sentimental value - I just can't get rid of my school leavers' prom dress, despite the fact I'd never be seen dead in it again!

I like to be brutal with pile number two - if I'm really not going to wear it, it gets resigned to the 'to go' pile. The infographic above is particularly helpful in going through this process! If the item of clothing hasn't seen the light of day for months on end, it needs to go. If it's the wrong size, I need to be strict with myself - am I really going to lose two dress sizes to squeeze back into the pre-university pair of jeans?! If it's just not to my taste anymore, into pile two it goes.

Anything from pile two that's in good condition, barely been worn and cost a fair amount, gets put on eBay. If I can even get a couple of quid to go towards some new threads, that's better than nothing! Anything that doesn't sell can then go to the charity shop or friends. Any items which are too old and weathered to sell or give to away, I consider whether it can be used as gym or lounge wear. Old, plain T-shirts are particularly good for chucking on to go to the gym. Finally, anything that's left over needs to be dumped in the bin.

How often do you declutter your wardrobe? Do you use this method?

*Post written in collaboration with Eco Movers


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