My 5 top tunes of 2019

It was Christmas Eve….

If you’re not imagining The Pogues lead singer drunkenly slurring these lines from Fairytale of New York, there’s definitely summat wrong!

Whilst I’m finishing up my final working day in the office for the year, take a look at some of my favourite tunes to bop around to in the car and make fellow drivers (sometimes passengers) cringe with embrassment for me…

Sucker – Jonas Brothers

Wasn’t a Jo Bro fan before, definitely am now! This song is so flippin’ catchy and makes me wanna hit Nick’s high notes and clap along to Joe’s Bridge. I’m a sucker for this.

Old Town Road – Lil Nas X and Billy Rae Cyrus

Such a chilled out yet boujee song “driving down Rodeo in my Mazarati sports car” anyone? Welcome back to the charts Mr Billy Rae Cyrus (though I still have a nostalgic soft spot for Achey Breaky Heart. Shhh.)

Bounce Back – Little Mix

Random fact, the singer of ‘Back to Life’ (the song sampled on this track by Soul II Soul) is Alexandra Burke’s late mother.

The lyrics make little or no sense throughout (who knew a dose of vitamin D would help you slide into your fave denims? Jesy Nelson, that’s who.) but the beat is hella catchy and I know the chorus cos it’s easy and I’m onld enough to remember it from the first time round.

Taste – Tyra

I feel like Tyga would be appalled that I’m a fan of his track, but it’s exactly my musical taste (taste… Crap joke alert, ha). I always try, and fail, to get Offset’s bit right!

7 Rings – Arianna Grande

I don’t know how the girl has managed to combine a modern R ‘n B beat with a 1960s tune originally sung by a nun, but she has and I’m here for it. I think one of my most used phrases this year has been “you like my hair? Gee thanks, just washed it”.

Honourable mentions to the following tracks:

– Break up with your girlfriend I’m bored, Arianna Grande

– Bad Guy, Billie Eillish

– Dance Monkey, Tones and I

– Beautiful People, Ed Sheeran

– Good as Hell, Lizzo

And that’s my year in music done!

Thanks for reading

J xx


Testing the ALDI festive tipples range

Bit late in the day to pick up festive booze? Nah! And technically, you could have most of this at any time of year….

Yup, that’s right – for the first time in about 5 years I’ve decided to see what else is out there for my Christmas delectation that’s not from Marks & Spencer….

Traitor! Nope. I live closer to ALDI, they posted a leaflet through my door showcasing their range which peaked my interest, and I’ve done a blog post in M&S drinks for the last 4 years or so, so it’s definitely time to mix it up

Spiced Plum & Clementine gin

I still wouldn’t say I’m a gin lover (although you will remember that I liked it before it was cool) but I’m drinking it more by default as people around me are.

This doesn’t taste like gin at all, the infused plum and orange flavours are great, almost like you’re drinking something non-alcoholic. When paid with lemonade, garnished with an orange wedge and served over ice, this makes a pretty nice drink all year round.

Candy Cane gin liqueur

A drink like this can go either way can’t it – either a delicious minty treat or summat that you’d rinse and spit after brushing that you bought on sale at the pound shop (the reviews on the ALDI website are pretty polarising).

If you give the bottle a shake it shimmers which definitely gets you in the Christmas spirit before you’ve even had a drop!

If you wanted to go full on cocktail with this drink, there’s a recommended recipe on the ALDI website

Ballycastle Chocolate & Orange Irish Cream

Basically the ALDI own version of baileys, which I love, and as you’ll k ow from my previous post all about orange flavoured chocolate this is a flavour combo I’m rather fond of.

As well as being served the more traditional way as a short over ice, which is how I’ve been enjoying it, this would be the perfect edition to a nice warming cup of hot chocolate to give it an extra little kick (you could use this recipe I posted a couple of years ago and simply sub this is in)

There’s still time to pick these up before the festivities kick up another notch at the weekend, so happy drinking (but responsibly and for enjoyment) during the most drunken time of the year!

Thanks for reading and seasons greetings,

J xx


Is Nanoblading right for you?

About 9 months after I had my last microblading treatment (you can read about my microblading experience in full here) my eyebrows had considerably faded, to the point where I was back to using product in them each day. It was time to get booking in the next round of procedures. But this time I wasn’t 100% certain that the same procedure was the right thing for me and my awkward ass skin. So I did a little exploring to see what other options were out there.

During my research stumbled across nanoblading, which I thought could be a good technique to consider.

What’s the difference?

Nanoblading involves a tattoo machine making precise brow strokes, but these can be applied in various different directions to produce a fuller and even more natural looking result. With microblading the hair strokes are applied using a manual needle (i.e. No machine to power it) but the strokes only go one way. It still gives a more realistic look, but is restricted due to technique.

My new brow kween

For my next round of treatment, I went to see Lesley Wilks. I was impressed by her website and treatments lists in the first instance (she also does LVL and dermaplaning which are other treatments I want to explore this year) however after my initial consultation (and a wee bit of Instagram stalkin) I discovered that she has quite the client list! As well as many loyal locals she regularly travels to give treatments to celebrities, which recently included Scary Spice herself, Ms Melanie B.

I think all this means I was in pretty good hands!

I want to make it clear that I have no issue with my previous brow lady whatsoever,I didn’t return to her for 2 reasons. Firstly, because she doesn’t do nanoblading and I wanted to explore this as a alternative to a simple top up, secondly because she only works part time and her hours are simply not compatible with times I can be free around my current job.

Initial consultation

Lesley invited me to her salon for an initial consultation a few days after reaching out to her for advice, and we had a pretty in depth chat. I told her all about what I’d had done before, why I felt it didn’t 100% work for me and what I was hoping for from my new next round of procedures.

I found Lesley both very reassuring and honest – she explained what she thought would stand the best chance of working for me this time around, however she was also very clear that this came with no guarantees as ton how my skin would take to it, whether hairstyles would remain perfect and how long the pigment may last on skin before further procedures may be required.

From this consultation, we concluded that nanoblading would indeed be the best route to take, and booked the treatment in for 3 weeks later.

The transformation

After microblading and before nanoblading

I was warned in advance that the discomfort level was a teeny bit higher with this procedure, so I was given a few minutes of pre-numbing cream to help ease this. I look so pretty…

During the treatment my eye area kept flickering involuntarily which could have hindered the straightness of the strokes, but luckily it didn’t seem to. I could have opened my eyes, and at times it felt like they were just going to fly open, however I was paranoid about seeing what was going on (there was really no need to be worried and the tattoo gun was above my eye line and I wouldn’t have seen anything)

After treatment 1

As you can see they look pretty full and textured, this is because of the multi-directional strokes nanoblading can create. Lesley also did add in a few microblading strokes to help create depth to the overall look.

Pain-wise, nanoblading nicks a little more so can be a little more painful before numbing. If you have a low pain threshold like me, you’re going to need to find a way to go to a happy place and breathe through it at points, but it’s bearable. The sensation and noise also feels different – like a bee buzzing around you and a vibration the same as any tattoo gun feels.

Aftercare and healing

As wit microblading you’re not supposed to get your brow area wet or sweaty for the first couple of weeks after the treatment. During this time I also made sure to sleep on my back so that I reduced the risk of areas rubbing away during the scabbing process.

You’re not going to believe this, but I managed to f**k it up within 24 hours. I completely misheard Lesley’s instructions, and gave them a firm but gentle wipe with a damp cotton pad the following day before applying tattoo nourishing jelly (which is really good btw). I wasn’t supposed to do that! Luckily paranoid me had already sent a little video to Lesley to ask her how I was doing, to which she politely but firmly told me to never do that again and just use the jelly. Shit.

I genuinely thought I’d effed up good and proper here, but luckily it wasn’t a problem. Lesley very kindly let me pop in on Day 5 so that she could have a little look at them and give them a good firm clean for me. That way, I could leave them to heal for the next 5 weeks until I saw her again.

After 6 days

Treatment 2

(I’m a bit rubbish and forgot to get proper photos of this stage)

Because my skin had taken to this treatment much better than microblading there wasn’t much additional work needed in the second appointment – the left tail needed some redefinition as it had faded more (this is the side I sleep on so I thought that this might happen as it did with microblading) as well as the bulbs with that being a problem area. Because I’m quite cool toned and that’s how the colour had taken on my skin, Lesley used a slightly warmer shade to add a bit of extra depth.

For the aftercare treatment this time I got a creamier formula that was like moisturiser to apply sparingly for the first few days after the procedure. After that it was just the usual keep ’em dry for two weeks and then go about normal business.

After treatment 2 with 7 weeks healing

What’s the verdict?

They’re blooming brilliant! The colour is stronger and the overall shape has been redefined. The bulb section has held so much better than it did with microblading, although the defined lines still don’t seem to want to take in this area they still look better than they did before. I definitely struggled with pain more during this procedure because of my low pain threshold, but I’m prepared to tough it out again for the end result.

So, is nanoblading for you?

Possibly. I’ve learnt that no one procedure is right for everybody – we all have different skin that changes and accepts/rejects the things done to it differently. Just because it’s cool and looks fire on one person doesn’t mean it will on anyone. It could be the best option for you, or one of the many others could be a better fit.

Cost

I paid £395 for the procedure and 1 top up, which was £50 more than I paid for microblading (1 treatment and up to 2 top ups). This was paid in 2 installments – £100 in advance at the consultation to secure the first appointment which was non refundable, the remaining £295 was paid at the end of treatment one. There was nothing to be paid at treatment two.

I perceive there to be more work involved in the nanoblading procedure, both in terms of the amount of strokes made and the additional placement precision, so I was happy with this small uplift in cost to get a better result.

My advice if you’re considering more percent brow solutions

  • Visit a reputable practitioner that offers a variety of procedures. If you have choice you have options, and if you have options you’re going to stand the best chance of being pleased with the result.
  • Be open an honest in discussing what you want from your procedure – how you want the end result to look, details of any previous experiences etc. This gives your practitioner the best chance of recommending the best way forward.
  • Ask questions and make sure you 100% understand exactly what you need to do before you leave the salon. Write them down and say them back out loud to be clear.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


LIFESTYLE/ 5 THINGS FOR 2019

We’re into yet another year – another chapter of our lives where we promise ourselves a bunch of stuff will happen that’s better than what we’ve done before…

Last year I posted 5 Things for 2018 which were some of my most popular posts of the year (the final one is here if you want to see how I got on) so I thought this would be a great thing to repeat for 2019. There are things I want to do and apparently pledging to do them on the internet helps me think about doing them a bit more! So, here goes…

1 – shop in my own closet 75% of the time 👖

Quick disclaimer: I haven’t watched ANY of the documentaries or read any articles about fast fashion and how wasteful the clothing and beauty industries are becoming. However, I have noticed for a number of years now that the way I spend money on these items isn’t very responsible at all, and I would like to work on changing that. At the start of last year I committed to a January spending ban which was a bit unrealistic and not the right way to go about things; this time I am simply resolving to make more considered choices for the sake of both my sanity and bank balance.

2 – get a home bar 🥂

When we moved into our house 6 months ago we promised ourselves that this would be one of the first things we did so we could enjoy some lovely summer parties at home. Well, that didn’t happen (though we did have a couple of nice gatherings anyway) but this year it will because we have the intent, a plan and a load of bar-related utensils given as Christmas gifts!

3 – Un-join the gym and get outside 🌳 Further disclaimer: this is not a recent pic of my, it’s about 3yrs old, I added it in as it shows me doing exactly what I want to start doing again.

Most people join the gym in January, right? Not me! I’ve just given notice on my membership – for a variety of reasons I wasn’t going and getting stressed about not going, and I managed perfectly well with getting regular exercise pre-gym (although I must point out that I was at uni and not working full time during this period). I used to love getting outside, going for a walk and clearing my head a bit, so that’s what I plan to get back to doing again. There will need to be a few changes to my old habit this time to accommodate for work and also finding some new routes now I don’t live in the same place, but I’m confident I can make it work if I start small and build.

4 – Get out of the house more

But you’ve just said you’ll go outside more, I don’t get it? You make be thinking. Well, the Mr pointed out to me a few weeks ago that I’ve put myself deep in hibernation mode for a fair number of months now. Partly as I’m loving being in my new home, partly because I haven’t been making an effort to leave the house, partly because at some points I haven’t felt able to leave the house and function as part of society other than go to work. I need to do a little bit of work to enjoy life more throughout, from the little things to the big – adding the weekly date nights back in, a few more nights away, coffee dates with friends etc.

5 – Dranks out, drinks in.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but a little less conversation and a little more action is needed! I have long considered myself as ‘not much of a drinker’ (although “mid twenties Jenny” would fall down laughing at this, “early twenties” and “late twenties/early thirties” Jenny were virtually teetotal) however if you’ve checked in on my Instagram account over the last 12 months you’ll see that I definitely can’t say this right now…I don’t know why I haven’t curbed this as I really want to, so I plan to put myself back in positions where I can easily not drink but still have fun.

I’ll post my first proper ‘how I’m getting on’ update around March time, though any major updates will probably be in their own posts and on my social media channels.

If there’s anything similar that you’re doing are do share it with me, it definitely helps keep things on the right track when others are aware of goals to encourage and support.

Wish me luck!

J xx


BLOGMAS 2018 / Day 7 – munching through the GLUG festive menu at ATOM Brewing Co.

Food, glorious food…don’t care what I looks like…except yeah I kinda do, can’t be putting no messy meal on the ‘gram! Haha.

My work colleagues and I are in the midst of a super busy December, but we managed to fit in a meal with a couple of drinks on 30 November where we sampled the ATOM Brewing Co. GLUG festive menu.

We booked before the menu had been finalised so we also had starters as well, but as they’re not available on this menu I’ve left them off (I had a kind of bubble and squeak Pattie if your interested, serviced with a poached egg and the crispiest bacon I have ever seen in my life.

Main courses

I opted for Turkey Katsu curry with rice and Asian inspired salad, which is delicious as it looks.

The sauce came in a cute little mug on the side to pour over, everyone thought it was really amusing that I tried to scrape out every last little bit on to my plate. I just really like a decent amount of sauce with my curry!

There are also some delicious sides – Brussels sprouts (obvs) crispy roast potatoes, root veg and celeriac. They were also nom and very appropriate to the season. Possibly slightly less so to the curry, but the potatoes made for great dipping fodder in my sauce.

Also on the menu was ‘sheperdless’ pie – a veggie take on the classic winter dish. The one pictured was a smaller (but still very decently sized) version as a starter that I’m told was very filling and yummy.

The most popular dish ordered was this giant pigs in blankets interpretation – giant German sausage, wrapped in bacon and served with sweet potato fries.

The general verdict I got from this was a overall a bit ‘meh’ – nobody could quite explain why this was, and I didn’t try any, but I’m to,d the fries were delish.

Then came dessert.

This, my friends, is a half pint of Cointreau hot chocolate served with toasted marshmallows cream and chocolates. Immense. The Mr and I served chocolate and Cointreau parfait at our wedding reception, so I was already sold on this combo. I’m going to try and get the recipe for this and create it for a future post, so keep your eyes out for that.

Main courses are all priced at £11 (I’m not sure if all the sides come with them as we ordered from a slightly different set menu) and desserts are £5, which is pretty reasonable for the quality and time of year. I’d definitely give it a go if you’re looking for last minute plans for a small group or a date night.

See you tomorrow,

J xx


BLOGMAS 2018 / Day 2 – weekly fashion faves, 5

I didn’t want to be neglectful of this post in the #blogmas season, particularly as this is usually when people start to dress up a bit more. People have be bringing it this week!

Victoria Beckham

Normally VB dresses in an ultra chic style that I can’t personally relate to, however this look i can get on board with! This look is totally 70s and very striking due to the colour and print, but still her usual chic because each piece is really well tailored (since it’s VB own brand and costs hundreds per item , I’d kind of expect that).

Emma Roberts

Where has Emma Roberts been hiding herself? Why was Scream Queens Cancelled? I haven’t seen her around for ages, but this standout Chloe suit will keep me quiet for a little bit. I’d swear this was street style at NYFW because this is such a frickin cool ass look, however I can be a sucker for “matchy matchy-ness” so a black bag would’ve finished the look off for me.

Jesy Nelson

Yassss Jesy!! Not loving the ankle chain as it doesn’t make a lot of sense, BUT overall it’s and on trend, a flattering fit and kind practical now the weather is colder. I would definitely wear a variation of this look.

Beckie Ione

I’ve know this babe for a few years and I can tell you that she always looks this fab. She throws everything together so effortlessly, as well as having on point makeup at all times. Great inspo.

See you tomorrow,

J xx


FASHION, FOOD & FUN/ What I got and did for my Birthday (2018)

“You’ve got to grab 35 by the balls and say ‘hey, world, I’m 35!’” Samantha Jones, Sex and the City (2001)

I don’t quite have Samantha’s confidence in ageing, but I hope someday I will! For now I’d simply like to share the positivity of my latest birthday, which is the wonderful thought and gifts I was lucky enough to receive.

Usual disclaimer: I’m not trying to brag about anything, I enjoy reading these posts by others (so if you have one, link me to it in the comments) and my birthday wish list post has proved pretty popular so I thought enquiring minds would want to see if anything from the list appeared…spoiler: my mother-in-law bought me the pretty blue jumpsuit, but it had to go back before the day as my boobs wouldn’t fit to even the biggest size. WTF??

Additional disclaimer: many of the photos were taken on my Huawei phone in portrait mode and haven’t been filtered in any way.

Breakfast al fresco

As I was off work, I started my day by chilling on our very sunny patio with a brew and Pop Tarts. This has become a bit of a traditional birthday breakfast for me – one year I’d asked the Mr to get me some as a treat and it’s kind of stuck around ever since. The mug was a recent impulse buy from the New Look home rang – it gives me total Oliver Bonas vibes but was so much cheaper.

Self care and chill

I took myself off to my gym and had a lovely massage (using a voucher leftover from Christmas so it was super cheap) before heading upstairs for a dance fit class. A nice hot shower and blow dry later, I treated myself to a basic bitch lunch of avocado toast and egg.

Flowers and Baileys Strawberries and Cream

I like most kinds of flowers and adore having them in the house, these are Rainbow lilies which I’ve never heard of but their colour is equally as bright as it looks! They tone in very nicely with this Baileys bottle dontcha think? I’ve wanted to try this for ages so the Mr picked it up for me – first impressions are that it’s very similar to the other different flavours (i.e. You can definitely tell it’s Baileys) but I was excited to see cocktail recipes on the side which involve rum, so I’ll look forward to giving those a go.

Bags of beauty

My mum and nan came though this year! Like almost everybody else online I’ve coveted this Topshop straw bag for ages but it keeps going out of stock, so I’m super impressed that someone managed to snap one up for me! I went to a country wedding last week and this made the perfect accessory.

After a couple of initial tries I can already confirm that the Urban Decay Backtalk palette is going to be my everyday BFF, I really dig pink eye makeup for a neutral daytime look and it looks so cute with the blush and highlight to bring the whole look together.

But the new palette fun didn’t stop there; I’m now the proud wonder of the Urban Decay Beached palette! (Little aside: my mum bought me all the UD products but is currently on holiday in the U.S/Canada where she could’ve bought them cheaper, but she knew I’d be desperate to use them ASAP. That’s modern day motherly commitment! Haha.) The top half of the shades toned in perfectly with the outfit I wore to the same wedding last week and stayed put from 10am until after midnight. Can’t wait to dive into the blue shades next.

The final beauty product I got was the Urban Decay On the Run – Blur and Done which is lovely creamy texture that feels really light on the skin and literally melts in without leaving a strong colour. I need to try it out a lot more so I can figure out the best way to use it for me, but so far I’m digging it.

J’adore

I expected this Boohoo tee to be a bit more of a relaxed fit, but on me it’s much more fitted even in my regular size so I may need to swap it out. I adore the colours f this and wanna put on a bright red lip and just strut down the street in it!

Choccy treats

it’s become a little tradition for the Mr to include some cute foodie items in my birthday gifts – last year it was Popchips (nom) this year it was these bad boys and a pink Kit Kat. I can categorically say these are my new fave choccie – they have more of the velvety malteser chocolate but with a lot less crunch, but there’s still enough to make it them interest but sooooo much easier to eat. Kit Kat is yummy and has a slight berry taste to it.

A much needed chuckle

To kick off my birthday celebrations the Mr picked up tickets for us to watch Tom Allen. We’ve seen him before as a wam up for Sarah Millican but this time we had a whole hour of just him and it was gloriously funny. There’s a lot of satirical middle class material, dry sarcastic wit and impressively lengthy monologues of observational humour which both of us laughed out loud to the whole way through. Brilliant gift.

Team Huawei

I’m so excited to have this new Huawei Mediapad!! I’ve really enjoyed having my phone, so I’m hoping this will be just as easy to use and take on the move with me.

The most sentimental gift

You’re probably looking at this and thinking ‘it’s a Mrs Potts figurine, what’s so sentimental about that? They’re everywhere RN.’ Not this one.

Shortly after the original Beauty and the Beast was released (which I went to see at the cinema aged 8, because I’m that old) I bought my nan this original, bone china figurines of Mrs Potts because she reminded me a bit of her and was voiced by Angela Lansbury who she used to watch on TV. 17 years on I still remember how special I found giving this to her and always said I’d love to have it when she’s sadly no longer here, however she thought the time was now and smuggled it in wrapped in a bottle bag to throw me off. I shed a little tear over the thoughtfulness.

Pizza and Cocktails

Ah, my eternal favourite treat meal combo! We headed out to Craft and Dough where we sipped Mojitos and tucked into a half metre long pizza and fries. They wee also playing some of my favourite throwback choons from the early 00s so it couldn’t have been more perfect.

I was also lucky enough to get some money in lieu of gifts, so I’ll be doing a post-birthday haul post which I’ve done for the last couple of years which always see, to go down as well, so make sure you come back to see what I picked up. ASOS and Harvey Nichols will be in there!

I already know I have a lot of challenges facing me in my 35th year, which I’ll explain more about soon I’m sure, but I can honestly say right now that I’m ready for them.

Thanks for reading,

J xx