Health and Fitness Update 04

I want to make these blog posts regular, maybe every 7-10 days or so to allow me to check in on how I'm doing and share progress and news.  My problem so far is how to check in and talk about progress if I haven't specifically lost any weight, and how to do that without feeling like a little bit of a failure.  I've been thinking of tying the update to a specific day, like a 'Fitness Friday', but I think for the moment it's better to just keep them sporadic but regular.  I hope people are still enjoying them, I know it's a relatively new theme for my blog but it's becoming a bigger part of my life so it makes sense for me to give it some airtime on here.

I guess I should give myself a little bit of a break from being disappointed about having not lost any weight this week in that I've actually been a bit poorly; I've been off work for a couple of days with the mega-lurgy, i.e. bunged up with cold, fuzzy head, sore throat, feeling like walking to the top of the stairs is an effort akin to running a marathon.  So it's no surprise that I haven't been out pounding the streets in the morning or going to exercise classes (though I did manage one run on Tuesday).

I have been doing what I always do when I'm not up to running though - reading running magazines, buying new running gear (bought an awesome Nike running vest from Sports Shoes ) and generally resolving to get out there as soon as I'm well again.  I've even subscribed to Women's Health and I'm determined to join the gym and fit in a few Personal Trainer sessions to help with my other fitness goals.  I just need to kick this cold out and for my ankle to be a little stronger than it currently is.  I have a 10k (Bournemouth Bay) at the end of March so I want to make sure I'm ready for that.  I keep looking back on when I was running longer distances last year and getting so cross at myself for spraining my ankle.  This run in September still remains my longest run {below photo} but if my ankle agrees, I'd really like to try running 10 miles sometime soon.

The other thing that's new is that I've decided to give up refined sugar for lent.  This week I decided to try and 'wean' myself off it so it's not such a shock to the system come next Wednesday.  I've also decided to keep a diary of everything I eat so that I can identify where my slip-ups are and keep trying to improve it. On Monday I was so shocked at the sheer amount of things I actually put in my mouth! It seemed like a lot.  On Tuesday night after only 48 hours with no sugar (except for there may be a little bit in the rosé perhaps?) I had such a bad headache and could not sleep all night - it made me wonder if that was my body getting withdrawals from sugar! My headache lasted all the way until Wednesday morning when I couldn't resist some cupcakes someone had brought in for their birthday.  Hmm.

I've italicised the items with sugar in that I've eaten so far this week, and underlined the one bit of exercise I've done.  You'll see on the Thursday diary that it wasn't really a great day all round but in my defence I felt really poorly and was craving stodge! (Just a quick note by the way, I've tried using My Fitness Pal but it really doesn't work for me as I find logging lots of fresh ingredients a pain in the bum! Logging things in my notebook however really is working for me!)

Monday: B: Smoothie with peach, pineapple, coconut milk and frozen banana / L: Avocado on onion and chive bagel / S: Skinny Popcorn, salt flavour / S: Apple / S: Handful of pistachios / D: Haddock chowder with prawns, sweetcorn, haddock and matzo crackers / D: 1/2 glass of sparkling Rosé with 1/2 glass Sprite Zero

Tuesday: B: Fried egg on rye bread / L: Salt beef and mustard sandwich on brown bread / S: Apple / S: Handful of salted cashew nuts / D: Homemade burgers with salad and wholemeal pittas / D: Small glass of white wine

Wednesday: B: MyProtein pancakes with blueberries / S: Cupcake / L: Avocado on seeded toast / S: Handful of cashew nuts / S: Banana / E: 3.7km run / D: Pie Minister low calorie chicken and ham pie, small portion of mashed potato and onion gravy / S: Small pot of lemon cheesecake

Thursday: B: Fried egg on rye bread / S: Creme egg / L: Avocado on onion and chive bagel / D: Fish and chips

Friday: B: Protein shake/smoothie with banana, almond butter, wheatgrass and flaxseed / {So far at time of posting}

I would really welcome any feedback on my diet as I am trying to understand more about how to lose the belly fat and improve my nutrition so any thoughts would be great.

I'm hoping that the refined sugar-free diet will improve my health and that the cravings won't last for two long (is this going to be me....?)

I've also heard that white bread and alcohol is metabolised in the same way as sugar is, so maybe I should give those up too? It's a bit of a minefield to be honest, I need to decide on whether things like sweeteners are okay (if not my protein shakes and Sprite Zeros are out) or things like Agave Nectar, which I put in smoothies but apparently is not actually very good with you.  One thing that I do know for sure is that I'm going to continue eating fruit, as any diet where you can't eat fruit seems a little crazy to me.

In terms of fitness, I do really want to get focussed over the coming weeks - I have a lot of fitness equipment at home like my spinning bike, kettlebells, hula hoop, resistance bands and so on, that need to be used more. I was doing some research on DDP Yoga this morning after seeing a friend that looks amazing after doing a lot of it, and I found this video.  If that isn't going to get me motivated to meet my goals, I don't know what is (SO worth a watch).

Your thoughts and support on any of what I've posted today would be massively appreicated - have you tried a sugar-free diet? Do you have any advice on my diet - what can I change or add? Or any great recipes? And do tell me about your health and fitness goals and what you're doing to get there!

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A Payday Wishlist

It's been quite a while since I did a wishlist - I always like to enjoy any Christmas presents I received and anything I treated myself to with Christmas money at least for a couple of months before I go on another spending spree.  But it's payday tomorrow and I must admit I've accumulated a little list of things I'd like to purchase.  As ever I have a major fashion split personality, I think I'll forever be concurrently lusting after pretty dresses and then more casual items like chunky boots, leather lackets and casual tees.  Without further ado, here's the pieces that might be getting a little slice of my bank balance over the coming days.

001. This beautiful lamp from lighting at French Connection (£65) is a bit lovely and would look perfect in my 'beach hut' conservatory.
002. I've been eyeing up these Zara combined leggings (£19.99) for some time now and I think it might be time for them to finally be mine.
003. This Glamorous grid-print shift dress (£32) isn't available until next week but I might have to pre-order it, I think it's the perfect dress to transition into Spring with as I think it would look great with tights or bare legs (a girl can dream!)
004. I love the colours on this Hype raglan/baseball tee (£21.99), I think it would be super comfy to wear with jeans for a casual weekend look.
005. This bicycle dress from the new Emily and Fin range at Kiki's Boutique (£59) is just perfection, I'm in love! So many other lovely dresses in the new range too.
006. Another casual weekend piece, I love this 'Springtime sweatshirt' from Sugarhill Boutique (£45), the embroidered flowers are so pretty.
007. I have been after some more chunky cut-out boots for ages and I love these ones from Boohoo (£35).
008. This Nancy Dress from Boden (£89) is so, so lovely, the cut and the print are perfect for dreaming of summer-y days!
009. I love this studded biker jacket from Missguided (£84.99) - I think it might have just sold out so I'm hoping for a restock!

What's on your wishlist this week?

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20 ways to find calm when life is busy

I think life is busy for most people at the moment and we've become used to juggling multiple balls at once - our jobs, our relationships, our friendships, our hobbies (and many of us know what a demanding hobby blogging itself can be) and sometimes the weight of multiple to-do lists, errands and all of those other things that bounce around our brain and wake us up in the middle of the night when we realise that something has dropped off our radar. Sometimes life can get so busy that it feels impossible just to stop even for a few moments, take stock and find a few moments of calm.  I've been learning lately just how important doing that is, and I thought I'd share with you my favourite ways to find a little peace when life gets chaotic.

img credit: freshexchangeblog

001. Do a ten minute yoga video.  Try Beginner Yoga with Tara Stiles.
002. Try meditation - the Headspace or Calm iPhone apps are great for talking you through meditation and helping you find peace after, or during, a busy day.
003. Go for a walk.  Try and clear your mind of the anxieties and worries of the day and focus on the walk itself - the smells, sounds and sights of the neighbourhood or wherever you choose to meander.
004. Sort something out - restore order to a pile of books, clothes or magazines.  (I find this really cathartic when things feel chaotic, even sorting something small makes me feel like I can tackle the bigger things).
005. Tick a 'quick win' off your to-do list, then put a big red line through it and enjoy the sense of achievement.
006. Take a bath or shower with your favourite bath bomb, shower gel or treatment.  Give yourself time to completely immerse yourself and relax.
007. Make a cup of tea - preferably a warming, nourishing herbal tea like camomile or peppermint.  Allow yourself to really enjoy it - no gulping it down now!
008. Make something with your hands - draw a picture, bake a cake, sew something, knit something, write a poem, take a picture - whatever your chosen creative outlet is, find a little time to create something.
009. Get your diary out and schedule in some 'you time'.  Think about what you'll do on that day.  Commit to it.
010. Phone a friend or relative you haven't spoken to in a while.
011. Or better still, write them a letter.
012. Go on a scavenger hunt.  Find interesting items, scraps, pieces of nature.  Stick them into a scrapbook or collage.
013. Read a book.  If you're not currently reading one, read a chapter of an old favourite, or a poem you enjoy.
014. Get in your pajamas and slippers, even if it's 3pm.
015. Learn something new - try HowStuffWorks, Instructables, or try the YouTube Education channel.
016. Perform a Random Act of Kindness.  Some ideas for acts of kindness here.
017. Listen to some calming music.  Try the Workday Zen playlist on Spotify.
018. Lock the door, turn off your phone and have a Netflix/Lovefilm/box set marathon.
019. Plan an adventure - something as small as a day trip or as big as your next holiday.  Read a travel blog, buy a travel magazine or pick up a Lonely Planet and allow yourself to dream about what it will be like to visit your chosen destination.
020. Light a candle, lower the lights and drift away...

My favourite candle to burn to help me find peace and calm at the moment is the wonderful Neom Tranquillity Candle*.  It certainly does what it says on the tin!  With scents of lavender, basil and jasmine it is utterly heavenly and not only is it instantly relaxing it's also perfect to burn before bedtime to help you drift off to sleep.  The best thing about this candle is that it really fills the room completely with its divine scent and it lingers for days after you've burned it.  I've never known a candle with such a strong, lasting fragrance before and it's such a unique scent and difficult to describe just how gorgeous it is, it's so soothing and definitely very, very calming.

Neom Tranquility Candle Neom Tranquility Candle Neom Tranquility Candle

It is the perfect accompaniment to planning our next adventure...
  Neom Tranquility Candle

What's your favourite way to find calm when you're going through a busy period?

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Neon Nikes

I hereby bestow bloggers everywhere with a handy tip - if your boyfriend comes home early because it's too windy to go windsurfing, this may not be an ideal time to ask him to take blog pictures.  Just so you know.

You may think it an excellent opportunity, because it is light outside (i.e. the weekend, the only possibility for blog photography until about May) and it is not raining (i.e. the first day this has happened in about three weeks) and you have your cool new neon Nikes on, but it is not.  Maybe it will start off well with some casual poses....

Trainers Outfit Post

And that cool pose you thought showed off your flashy new kicks well....

Trainers Outfit Post

But eventually you will end up having to literally hold onto your hat as a minor hurricane whips around you and your scarf threatens to blow off.

Trainers Outfit Post

And in the end, holding onto your hat, your hair and your scarf, frankly becomes a bit too much.

Trainers Outfit Post

So you venture inside for a much more photo-friendly atmosphere.... Serious face now, mmkay?

Trainers Outfit Post Trainers Outfit Post

I mentioned my new neon Nikes (I can't find them anywhere but on eBay to link to them - they are Nike Free Advantage Mesh Caf's if anyone is interested) in a previous post as I bought them with a Gunwharf Quays gift card I got as part of their Spring styling challenge.  This outfit is a little wintry but I'll be wearing them throughout the spring and summer, I think they're such a fun colour, not to mention blimmin' comfy, which is always a win with me. If I wear heels to work my ankle (yep, still milking that sore ankle - not literally, obvs), is sore by the end of the day so I'm embracing comfy footwear at the moment, though obviously not wearing this particular pair to work - they are a bit too jazzy even for workwear! I do really enjoy the 'running shoes' trend, though anyone can run in shoes like this has stronger ankles and feet than me! I bought another new pair of Nikes today which I'm sure will be popping up in an outfit post soon, I had to try and sneak the orange box past Tom when I got home from work but unfortunately he spotted it.  Pretty soon I'll be needing a nice new wardrobe (something like this one would suit me fine) just for my shoe collection... A girl can dream eh?

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A trip to Gunwharf Quays

A couple of weeks ago, on a particularly sunny Saturday morning, my friend Kate and I made a little trip over to Portsmouth to go shopping at Gunwharf Quays.  For those of you that don't know, Gunwharf Quays is an outlet shopping village situated around a marina with 90 outlet shops as well as tons of restaurants, bars and even a hotel, casino and nightclub.  In my youth we used to get the Gosport Ferry across and go out in Jongleurs, but these days I usually visit looking for bargainous clothes or homewares.  It's about an hour from me but well worth the journey as it has some great shops and really nice lunch and dinner spots so it's perfect for a day out.

Kate hadn't been before so when we arrived I gave her a bit of a tour.  It was such a beautiful day that walking around the Quays and seeing all the yachts and boats bobbing around in the harbour was a real treat.  Sometimes shopping trips and particularly retail parks and villages can feel a bit soulless but I love that Gunwharf has the quayside, getting a blast of sea air is always nice when you're moving from shop to shop!

Gunwarf Quays

Before we got stuck into some serious shopping, Kate and I always take time to have a pre-shop cup of tea to browse through the shopping guide, select our key shopping destinations and have a bit of a natter.  It was about 10.30, which Kate thought was too early for cake and opted for a muffin, but I couldn't resist the delicious looking Red Velvet Cake they had at Caffe Nero (I have been dreaming of it ever since).

Gunwharf Quays

Gunwharf Quays had kindly giften me a voucher to pick up some Spring-themed goodies, so along with hunting around for some general bargains, we were also looking out for some key Spring trends like florals, pinks, lace, pleats and embroidery.  Gunwharf has a real mix of shops, from high street favourites like Gap, M&S and Next, to more niche brands like Joules, Vans, Jack Wills and Fred Perry, and then premium brands like French Connection, Hobbs, Jaeger, LK Bennett and Kurt Geiger.  They also have homeware brands like Cath Kidston and Le Creuset.

We had a good mooch around for a couple of hours - we must have gone in almost every shop, eyeing up some pretty dresses and knitwear in Jack Wills, some shirts in Superdry and picking up a lovely lace panelled t-shirt in Gap.  After all that shopping we needed to stop and refuel, so we headed to Italian restaurant Carluccio's.  I'm sure by then we had walked the equivalent of several miles, so we rewarded ourselves with a glass of wine (Kate) and a bellini (me).

Gunwharf Quays
Gunwharf Quays Gunwharf Quays

Please excuse my rather messy hair - Carluccio's is right on the Quayside and it was a really windy day, it looked better than that before I left the house, promise!

We had Arancini Di Riso to start - crispy rice balls, one with pesto and one with ragu sauce.  They were absolutely divine.

Gunwharf Quays

I then had Gnocchi Al Gorgonzola - gnocci with gorgonzola and spinach, and Kate had Penne Giardiniera, penne pasta with courgette, chili and fried spinach balls with parmesan and garlic.
  Gunwharf Quays
Gunwharf Quays

Again they were both absolutely delicious, and cooked to perfection.  The staff at Carluccio's were very attentive and helpful, I was really impressed with the service as well as the food.

We did cast an eye over the dessert menu but we were both much too stuffed.  We then cast another, longing eye over the amazing cakes and desserts in the shop.  Don't those meringues look incredible?

Gunwharf Quays

We then did a little bit more shopping and I kept my eye out for some more Spring trends.  Knowing that the running shoes/sports luxe trend isn't showing any signs of disappearing any time soon, that neon colour splashes seem to be making an appearance again, and ticking off the 'pink' trend, I couldn't resist these trainers from the Nike outlet.

Nike Free Run 6.0 Nike Free Run 6.0
Nike Free Run 3.0s, Nike Outlet Store {bought with Gunwarf Quays Gift Card*}

They'll definitely be popping up in an outfit post soon, I can't wait to wear them!

All in all we had an amazing day at Gunwharf Quays, it was the perfect girls' day out.  If you're within a couple of hours' of Portsmouth I'd hugely recommend checking it out.  They're also holding an exclusive 'Treat Yourself' event on March 27th which I'll be attending, I can't wait!

Have you been to Gunwharf Quays before?

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Why the internet is awesome

I remember the first time I used the internet - a group of us huddled around a computer at a schoolfriend's house, listening to the sound of dial-up and the contrasting silence of our collective anticipation as to what exactly we were going to do once it connected. When we got the internet at home ourselves a few months later I felt that a whole new world had opened up to me, and there was no better sound than the AOL 'You've Got Mail' sound alongside a flashing yellow envelope (I realise that I am probably far too old for many of you to also remember that!) I grew up finding friends via AOL profiles, making newsletters, chatting in Yahoo chat rooms (A/S/L anyone?), downloading music on Napster, building webpages on Geocities and writing blog posts on LiveJournal and Xanga.  To be completely honest with you, I didn't have masses of friends at school (I know, looo-oooserrrr), so I found myself rushing home to write newsletters I could send to groups of friends on AOL, or writing on my Xanga blog.  I guess not much has changed!

img credit: memoryglands.com

The truth is that it's difficult to imagine life without the internet now.  We take it for granted in so many ways, and in a way I'm glad that I lived, even only for a little while at an age where I was old enough to understand it, in a world where it didn't exist.  In a world where to look up a word for an essay I had to drag the Oxford English Dictionary off the shelf (or go to the library to get a book out to do research), in a world where if you wanted to see a friend you'd ride round to their house and knock on the door, or where if you wanted to phone a shop or restaurant you had to look them up in the Yellow Pages.  

Of course my nostalgia for what was probably a 'simpler' time, doesn't mean I don't have immense appreciation for the innumerable ways that the internet has made our lives better (or a raging Twitter addiction).  Barely a day goes by when I don't praise the internet for a way it has made my life easier or... well, better.  Today I got in the car to go to a running shop when I had no idea where it was or how to get there, knowing that I could Google it en route (I was a passenger by the way!) and look at it on Google Maps.  Last weekend my friend and I went to a burger joint where they take your name and number and then text you a link where you can see where you are in the queue until it eventually sends an automated text to let you know your table is ready (this blew my mind).  I do my food shopping online, my clothes shopping online, I never book a holiday without checking Trip Advisor, or buy any beauty or skincare product without reading blog reviews.  I really do do almost all of my shopping online, whiling away hours on ASOS, watching the catwalk videos to see how something will fit, hunting for bargains on eBay and making impulse online purchases based on getting wardrobe envy over other fashion blooggers.  I dislike the hustle and bustle of the British high street, or the fact that it's almost impossible to find what you're looking for (and when you do, you then find out it was cheaper on the internet).

And let's not forget the fact that I basically live my life online via my blog, instagram and Twitter - I instagram my meals, tweet my runs, blog my outfits, track my calorie intake, put my holiday photos on Facebook and generally share an awful lot of details of my life on the internet.  In fact, by the Rosie bum indent on my office chair, the collection of teacups on my desk and the fact that I almost never watch television, I'd say that I spend an awful lot of time cruising around the world wide web.

img credit: 9gag.com
I sometimes feel slightly guilty at the amount of time I spend on the internet.  When I see the pile of dog toys under my office chair and Bodhi doing his puppy dog eyes at me from the hall, when Tom and I spend an evening in different rooms (he is a telly addict and I am an internet addict!) or when my book goes unread for a few nights because I'm lying in bed doing the cycle of checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, then Twitter again.  On Valentine's Day we had an evening of no phones and no computer and it was really nice to escape for an evening, and of course, I didn't miss any tweets or emails that couldn't wait until the following morning.  I am promising myself that at least one evening a week I will try and switch off from the internet and enjoy a little 'me time' or have a date night.  But until then, I will be spending all my pennies on ASOS, tweeting what I've bought and blogging photos of me wearing it.  I just can't help myself....

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Health and Fitness Update 03

This week has been a funny old week for health and fitness.  My weight has stayed mostly the same (I put on a lb but I'm back to last week's weight today) despite some mostly healthy eating.  Last week I had bags of motivation and was feeling excited about exercising and eating good food, but this week I feel tired and lacking any kind of 'get up and go'.

I guess in truth, I do search for motivation in the numbers on the scales, which is the wrong way to go about it.  Or even just in the way my clothes feel or what I see in the mirror.  This week I've noticed my clothes feeling a bit tighter - work trousers that fit me a couple of months ago are now too small and even my winter coat is a stretch to zip up.  I know I can't expect to see results within a couple of weeks but I can feel a little bit of a knockback to be doing what I perceive to be all the right things and yet increasing in size not decreasing.

I've found myself feeling really overtired and rundown lately so on Wednesday I took the day off to have some chill time and tick some things off my to-do list.  I decided to start the day with a run, as well as booking to do the Nike 'We Own The Night' 10k in May with my friend Nicole which I'm super excited about.  I was hoping to do a 10k that morning since I had the luxury of time and a hot bath waiting for me, but it was something of an eventful run!

It started off really well with me bouncing along, feeling really positive and enjoying being out running.  It felt like a 10k was possible; my legs felt okay and my breathing was better than it usually is (I struggle with being able to regulate my breathing when running and run with a blue inhaler).  About 15 minutes into my run I came across this cheeky little chappy who ran across the road to greet me and then jumped up to say hello.

After searching around for the owners (and pausing my GPS watch!) I concluded that he was lost and phoned the number on his collar.  The owner said he must have escaped from her back garden again, but she was several miles away and had to send a friend to pick him up.  We waited patiently on the bench on the green for a little while before he was collected.  He was such a lovely dog, I was secretly a bit disappointed I didn't get to take him home, I think Bodhi would have liked him!

I then tried to run on to the beach but the only road to our nearest beach was flooded, and having already run through a puddle and soaked my trainers I decided not to wade through flood-water.  It was lightly drizzling but with beautiful blue skies and blazing sunshine, creating this beautiful rainbow that I ran towards for some time.  I didn't find a pot of gold though sadly...

In the end I managed 7.5k before I decided it was probably time to call it a day.  I'm very conscious of the fact that my ankle is still tender from my sprain in October and I don't want to overdo it.  It was very slow (as you can see from the time) but still a really enjoyable run (though my legs did hurt for the rest of the day!)

My trainers are looking a little bit tired at the moment and I've had to put some gel heel inserts in to stop my heels and calves from hurting after longer runs.  Tomorrow I'm going to go to a local running shop (Up and Running) to try and get some advice on some different running shoes.


Last Friday I started a new yoga class with Hannah via a Living Social voucher for 10 classes.  It was very different to the other class I've been going to with a lot more focus on the spiritual side of yoga and a long relaxation/meditation session at the end.  It was a very new experience - practising relaxation under a fluffy blanket in a church hall, with the wind and rain lashing against the window, candles and incense burning and a man gently snoring away next to Hannah!  I think I prefer the other class for the fact that the teacher spends a lot of time focussing on form and helping you get into poses whereas this is a much larger class which I think makes that difficult.  Still I am envisaging that this will be me and Hannah on Southbourne beach come the summer!

I've also been really enjoying discovering new health and fitness blogs this week which are helping in my battle for motivation.  Pumps and Iron's 450-rep workout has made me add a gym ball to my shopping list and I'm planning to try the routine next week.  I'm also getting major body and fitness inspiration from Lydia Elise Millen and I loved her fitness FAQ this week.

How are you getting on with your health and fitness goals this week? How do you find motivation (and can you give me some!)?

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A little kitchen makeover

Our kitchen has always been a little thorn in the side of our otherwise, mostly, lovely house.  In fact I refused for some time to even come and view the house when it was for sale because I thought the green kitchen was so hideous.  In the end this was the house we picked (for that little word that has a lifetime of DIY behind it - 'potential') and we have come to accept, if not love, the green cupboard doors, green work surfaces and general higgledy piggledyness of the layout.

When we first moved in there was grotty, tired lino on the floor but Bodhi's claws soon put paid to that.  When he was a puppy he would scratch at the kitchen door in the night and during the day if we went out, until eventually a small hole he'd dug in the lino turned into a very big one and we had to rip it all up. Underneath the lino was the same original floorboards that extend through into the lounge.  When we moved in we sanded and varnished the floorboards in the lounge but we hadn't yet done anything to them in the kitchen and they had begun to look very dirty and unloved, not to mention that the gaps and holes between them were gathering dirt from the garden through the back door, stray bits of dinner that had fallen onto the floor and other general muck that was almost impossible to get out.

Last month I was lucky enough to be picked to be a Pride of Oven Pride blogger, meaning I'll be working with them over the coming months as part of campaigns and blogger challenges.  We frequently use Oven Pride to keen our oven looking nice and clean, but the rest of the kitchen rather lets itself down, so I was really excited to find that their first blogger challenge was to spruce up your kitchen for a fresh start in 2014, via the help of a £50 High Street Voucher. Although I was tempted to treat myself to a new smoothie maker, or some pretty new crockery to go in the cupboards, I thought this was a great opportunity to do something worthwhile with the money, and get started on a project we'd been meaning to do for some time - operation kitchen floor.

I bought an orbital sander, some wood filler and a big tub of floor paint, and Tom got to work filling all the holes in the floorboards.  I only thought to take a picture after he'd done all the wood filler but by the amount of it on the floor you can tell just how gappy and unkempt it was! Apologies for the messy kitchen - did not intend for my fox lunchbag and Tom's jar of sourdough to make an appearance in this blog post!
  Kitchen beforeBefore

Tom did some more wood-filling and sanding on Sunday afternoon whilst I was in London, we then had to call out a gas engineer as when we moved the cooker it smelt very strongly of gas.  The man that came very helpfully pointed out that the gas hose hadn't been properly fitted by the previous owners, in another example of just what a botched job most of the things in our house are!)  After that was fixed, the first coat of paint came down, meaning Bodhi has been sleeping upstairs all week to allow it to dry overnight, which is a real treat for him!

We've been doing a new coat of paint in the morning and evenings and I think it's pretty much there now! We just need to lay down a metal divide between the kitchen and living room so it looks more natural where the paint ends and the natural floorboards begin.  What do you think?

Kitchen After Kitchen Kitchen Kitchen Kitchen

I think it looks lovely, it certainly feels cleaner and more 'finished'.  If anything I think it looks a bit too perfect, I'll be quite glad when day to day wear and tear makes it look a little more distressed.

A huge thankyou to Oven Pride for allowing us (I should probably say 'give us the kick up the bum we needed') to take on our kitchen project and getting it one step closer to looking like a normal kitchen! My Mum has suggested getting some white knobs for the cupboards and I think we'll eventually get some new cupboard doors and a work surface from Ikea but as they say - Rome wasn't built in a day!

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Going dotty - Orla Kiely for Clarks

If I had to list my favourite fashion and footwear brands, Orla Kiely and Clarks would definitely both feature very highly.  Orla Kiely for her dreamy dress designs (which I must admit are more often swooned at from afar rather than hanging in my wardrobe, though I hope to rectify this soon), and Clarks for their amazing shoes and boots, which do feature very frequently in my shoe-drobe and are my go-to brand for comfy but stylish shoes.

So the Orla Kiely x Clarks collaboration was an absolute dream come true for me, and one I couldn't wait to get my hands on.  When the SS14 collection arrived I was lucky enough to be sent a pair of the Orla Marianna heels (£120*) and I must admit, they didn't disappoint.  They are such an utterly beautiful shoe, and totally comfy to boot due to the dual cushioning and platform sole.  I just want to wear them all the time!

I teamed them with my spotty Marks and Spencer's dress, I picked it up in the sale just after Christmas and it's a real favourite of mine, I love the pearl collar and the tie-waist.

Orla Kiely x Clarks Orla Kiely x Clarks Orla Kiely x Clarks Orla Kiely x Clarks Orla Kiely x Clarks
Orla Kiely x Clarks

shoes: orla kiely x clarks, £120* // dress: marks and spencer, £34.99 {sold out}
hat: charity shop

I'll definitely be whipping these beautiful shoes out of their Orla Kiely printed bag (I'm a sucker for shoes and bags that come with their own bags...) and getting a lot of wear out of them over the coming months, I've already established that they also look great with bare feet and skinny jeans (I think they go pretty well with my tattoos too if I do say so myself!)  I know I'm getting a little ahead of myself in terms of planning my shoe-drobe but I also can't wait until the A/W range is released, I can only imagine the beautiful designs that will be unveiled!

Have you seen the Orla Kiely x Clarks collaboration? Are you a fan?

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