Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Give-away No. 10: Modern Girl's Guide!

Hey everyone! I can't believe it's the last day of May already. Really? How is this happening. I swear it was Christmas yesterday. I wish time would slow down a little and let me catch up. Although it's been quiet around here over the past week or so (I've been working crazy hours) I have a long list of posts lined up so stick with me. I've been reviewing some interesting new beauty products and look forward to sharing all that with you. Additionally, there's a photo roundup of May coming shortly (>> Feb and March <<)

Now, on to today's post. Yes, you guessed it, another give-away! See, I really love you guys.

The Prize: ONE copy of 'The Modern Girl's Guide to Fabulousness' by Bethanie Lunn. I own this book and highly recommend it to women of all ages - there's something for everyone. As I'm finding it increasingly difficult to read fiction (instead opting for autobiographies, or more often than not, reference books that teach me something) this little lifestyle 'bible' hit the nail on the head for me.

There's a great little write up on Amazon which explains what's on offer: "The Queen of fabulousness, Bethanie Lunn, offers you an A-Z guide on fun things to do, exciting places to go, what to wear, where to dine, shop and beautify, while avoiding wasting your money on disappointments. She's tested everything first so that only the best is recorded in this heavenly little black book!"

Interestingly, for girls like me who live outside of London, there's still plenty to learn and discover. This would also be super useful for all my US and Canadian readers to peruse prior to visiting the UK! Before I scoot off... you can find Bethanie's own blog here!

The Small Print:

♥ Only entries from Followers via Google Friend Connect (Blogger) will be counted. Sorry guys but if you follow by RSS, twitter or bloglovin' it will not count. Hit the Google 'Follow' button in the left sidebar before submitting your comment and before tweeting the give-away.
♥ To enter leave a comment on this post.
♥ For an extra entry tweet this: Check out Sofia's latest give-away! http://tinyurl.com/3hu7s3m @sofiasjournal
♥ For one more entry just LIKE my Facebook Page and leave a little comment on my wall :)
♥ Give-away closes at 11.59pm GMT on Monday 6th June 2011.
♥ International entries welcome.


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Friday, 27 May 2011

My Best iPhone Apps

I've owned an iPhone for a little over six months. During that time I've downloaded (and subsequently deleted) a plethora of applications. I'm now left with my favourites - a handful of brilliant apps that enhance my life. I'm not in to games, so you won't find those here and my list isn't particularly groundbreaking or exciting. But below are those I use often and find useful. Don't forget to leave a comment telling me your faves too!

1. iBooks (FREE). Who needs a Kindle when I can have iBooks for free. When friends learn that I read entire books on my iPhone they turn their noses up and insist they couldn't do that. Well, maybe. But try it and see! So far I've read 3,096 Days (10/10 - so well written), Confessions of a GP (6/10) and Madeleine (8/10). There are numerous free books to download too (usually classic literature). One feature I LOVE is the ability to download a sample before you commit to purchase. Like many men, my boyfriend falls asleep the moment his head hits the pillow so reading on my phone has been awesome - I can snuggle up in bed and read for as long as I like without a lamp to disturb him.

2. Piggie (FREE). This simple little app has great reviews and has consistently been voted one of the best free finance apps. I recently decided to track all my spending in the hope of becoming less wasteful and thus be in a position to build up savings quicker (saving is a goal listed on my 30 before 30). This app allows me to record what I spend when I spend it. It's quick and easy to use and has helped me to achieve what I set out to achieve. I've set myself a total monthly budget and tracking my spends as I journey through the month ensures I stay within that! Hooray!

3. AroundMe (FREE). This is a really neat location app that most of you probably know of. I've used it many times to track down the nearest petrol station, ATM and pharmacy. Similarly, you should check out Location Me! (also FREE) which immediately tells you your GPS location at the click of a button. I haven't had cause to actually use this but imagine it could be a lifesaver (think car breakdown, or even worse, car accident).

4. Photography. Oh, you just knew there would be some Photography apps, didn't you?! I've tried pretty much all of them by now and three stand out:

Instagram (FREE). My all time favourite app. I find it so hard to believe this is free. I just love it. Take photos with your iPhone then alter the effect and border to your taste. See what I mean here: Instagram Easter. You can also share your images with other users all around the world and see theirs too!
Color Effects (FREE). Make your images look funky! Basically, this app allows you to change the colour of anything in a photo. Popular ideas include making a portrait photo entirely greyscale except for the lips which are made bright red. Cute!
Photosynth (FREE). Again, it's quite unbelievable that this doesn't cost a dime. Allows you to create panoramic images. Essentially you take, for example, three images across a landscape which join up - you capture far more than one traditional shot or even a wide angle lens. Clever! I'd love to try this out on the New York skyline.
5. Trip Advisor (FREE). Just arrived at a new city for a weekend away? Enter this app and choose 'Near Me Now' and you'll be met with a list of restaurants, bars and things to do etc within your locality. The best bit - they all have user reviews to help you make your decision.

6. Shopping. I can't help myself. In my defence, I've been browsing not buying. I like to keep up with the trends even if I'm not succumbing to them. When I do purchase, I always go through TopCashback to make a little saving.
7. P Tracker Lite (FREE). Sorry to gross out any potential male readers (are there any?) but this is an invaluable app for women. Allows you to record and track your monthly cycle and therefore predict your period due date. It's password protected for your privacy.

8. Met Office (FREE). I feel about 90 years old including this one. But it's a well known fact that, in England, we love to talk about the weather. As the weather is so unpredictable here keeping a close check on the five day forecast can help you plan. For example, I've made a mental note that anything below 14 degrees (Celsius) is uncomfortably cold for me so I check my app and know to leave the house in warm boots and a jacket if this temperature or below is likely. It's also prevented me being caught out without an umbrella. Oh dear, I'm almost falling asleep as I right this. How mundane. I am officially old.

If you liked this post and found it useful how about clicking the cute little SU button (below left) to submit it to StumbleUpon so more people, just like you, can read it!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Inspired by Anthropologie

Sometimes I come across something so pretty online that I have to share it here. Pinning on Pinterest isn't enough. Leslie at A Creative Mint (a beautiful design blog) took a series of photographs inspired by a recent Anthropologie shoot for her Color Me Pretty column over at Decor8 (another awesome design resource). Leslie thought it would be fun to create some images using colours noted in that shoot - dark orange, gold, deep blue, tan. The results are gorgeous, don't you think? I love it all. All of it.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Travel Series: Safari

For the benefit of new readers, my Travel Series is a place to share my photographs from some of the most interesting and memorable places I've visited in recent years. I still haven't booked a holiday for 2011 yet, so I've enjoyed compiling these posts. The promise of more travel, somewhere, someday, is enough to make me daydream and smile. You can view the entire series so far here (see also: Marrakech, St Ives - 1 and 2 and New York).

all images via Sofia's Journal.

I'm sure it didn't take you long to click on to the fact that this was no African safari, what with the ever present wire fencing, concrete and corrugated iron. These photographs were actually taken at Knowsley Safari Park a few weeks ago. Having a strong dislike for traditional zoos I enjoyed the day a whole lot more than I thought I would. So, if, like me, a trip to the Masai Mara is beyond the confines of your current budget I highly recommend you take a trip to your nearest safari park. The work they do towards breeding programmes and related conservation campaigns is really important and should be supported. The animals appeared to be happy and healthy so whilst it sure is a shame they're not all roaming the plains of Africa their presence here has tremendous purpose - by way of educating us on the plight of their species.

Have you been on a safari?

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Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Sunday Click List (No. 13)

You have until 11.59pm GMT tonight to enter my latest give-away! Go enter!

For the benefit of new readers ~ 'The Sunday Click List' is a fortnightly feature where I share a selection of my favourite online hot spots that I've been clicking on during the past 14 days. You can view the entire series HERE - enjoy!
Just Little Things. I recently came across this blog which is the same concept as my 100 things project. The blog was created on 30/12/2010 and is updated daily with one little thing we should appreciate. I smiled when I read no. 358 as I'm forever losing things!
♥ Lauren's article - Managing Depression Without Medication - a must read if you're susceptible to clinical depression or even just feel low more often than you'd like. A great place to start for anyone who doesn't know where to start.

♥ Proof that dreams really do come true - Gala Darling's 'Dreams Do Come True'. An inspirational insight into what can happen when you decide, commit, work hard and believe. Your future is yours for the making!

Bloglovin'. I often include a link to Bloglovin' at the bottom of my posts but I've never formally pointed out it's virtues. I'm sure most of you know and use Bloglovin' but for those of you who don't here's a little nudge - consider setting up a free account and you'll find hundreds of the best blogs on the web. I find it so useful - you'd be mad not to take a look at it. You can follow Sofia's Journal here.

The Home Alone house goes up for sale. Click on that link and you can view a video tour of the interior. Totally reliving my youth here. For a cool £1.5 million it's yours.

Lark + Linen documents her travels in India. Gorgeous and lovely fellow blogger Jacquelyn recently returned from a trip to India. She has updated her blog with the most beautiful photos and words: India Part I, II, III and IV (and see more on her Facebook page). I'm in awe. Talk about inspiring. Makes me want to book a plane ticket. Now.
♥ And finally, a selection of newly discovered (and very cool!) blogs to follow: Pretty Shiny Sparkly, Hello Vanny, Oh, Mishka, Frou Frou Fabulous, Just an Ordinary Girl on the Move.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend lovely readers!
Be back tomorrow with the next installment of my Travel Series.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Primark Summer Collection 2011

It's hard to believe the stores have only one more phase to release before the huge summer sales begin (mid to late June). At that point we'll see autumn/winter clothes filter through and we'll wonder what happened to summer. My favourite season is always too short! Some new images were released by Primark this past week - a snippet of what's in store now and throughout June. I particularly love the brown chino shorts pictured right, below and the teal coloured satchel bag.

1. Belted Linen Shorts £10 / 2. Lace Skirt / 3. Floral Trousers £14 / 4. River Scene Skirt £14 / 5. Chino Shorts £10

1. Large Fringe Bag £8 / 2. Brown Clutch £8 / 3. Teal Bag £6 / 4. White Giant Clutch £8 5. Faux Leather Satchel £8

1. Colour Block Dress £17 / 2. 50's Prom Dress £25 / 3. Colour Block Dress £17

1. Sequin Jacket £15 / 2. Pleat Front Top £10 / 3. Scenic Vest Top £6 4. Limited Edition Lace Top £17 / Fringe Top £10

What are your views on Primark this year? Leave me a comment and share all! Does anyone else think the prices are edging up slightly? Does it still represent value for you or do you prefer to shop elsewhere? Are you still piling your basket high at every visit or do you try a different approach and be extremely selective over what you purchase?

To view past collections click here.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Give-Away No. 9 (Closed)

One of my sponsors, Lovely Little Charms, has kindly offered to host a give-away here this week. One lucky winner gets to choose one of the two rings pictured. I love the quirky, retro styling of these rings and I think either would make a great addition to your collection!

The Small Print:

♥ Only entries from Followers via Google Friend Connect (Blogger) will be counted. Sorry guys but if you follow by RSS, twitter or bloglovin' it will not count. Hit the Google 'Follow' button in the left sidebar before submitting your comment and before tweeting the give-away.
♥ To enter leave a comment on this post.
♥ For an extra entry tweet this: @sofiasjournal Check out Sofia's latest give-away: http://tinyurl.com/6y7427b
♥ Give-away closes at 11.59pm GMT on Sunday 22nd May 2011.
♥ Open to UK & Northern Ireland Residents Only

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

2011 Beauty Wish List

I'm trying very hard to save pretty much all my disposable income right now as I work towards one of my 30 Before 30. My savings account is most definitely thanking me but I'm a little bored with my current beauty routines. I guess the thrill of buying and testing out new products will never leave me. I thought it might be therapeutic to create a beauty wish list - the things I'd immediately order should a lotto win transpire. You know, just for fun. What's on your beauty wish list?

Moroccan Oil £30.45 @ HQhair.com. I've wanted to try this forever. The hairdresser used it on my locks during my last appointment and I felt like it made a positive difference. I also just plain love the look of the bottle.

Marc Jacobs Daisy £48 @ boots.com. I've dropped numerous hints so hope I might actually own this stunning summer fragrance come my birthday in June.

Redken Satinwear £12.55 @ feelunique.com. It's been ages since I tried a new blow dry lotion. Redken products have never failed to impress me and I love that this one is a heat protector too.

Sigma Brush Kit $99 @ sigmabeauty.com. The Sigma brushes I've tried so far are now firm favourites so I'd love to own the entire kit.

Nars Blush £20.50 @ HQhair.com. A cult classic that often tempts me come payday.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation £29. Those of you who've been long time readers will already know that I adore Bobbi Brown. Like, really can't get enough of it. The Natural Finish Foundation featured in my March Favourites but I feel like 'Skin' might be a lighter option for hot weather.

Tweezerman Tweezers £20 @ feelunique.com. My current tweezers are old and blunt and my eyebrows are crying out for a sharp, high quality tool.

Bliss Fat Girl Slim £28.60 plus Slimulator £15.40 both @ HQhair.com. Both products really intrigue me.

Drop me a comment and tell me what products you're desperate for? Anyone else on a self imposed shopping ban? There's a recession you know! Have a great week girls :)

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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Things I Love Thursday

1. Jack Wills. I'm not sure how cool Jack Wills is deemed to be these days. I'm well out of the age bracket that it's targeted to so I'm just not sure. But, I stumbled across the brand again recently as I searched for loungewear and I like it! The prices are high but I think I'll check out their summer sale... anyone know when it's held? July? August?

2. This cake. I have a birthday coming up. I also love photography and own a Nikon. This looks like it was made for me. I love it!

3. Espadrilles. I'm so glad these awesome shoes are in fashion. They totally take me back to my childhood. They're fun and practical for summer. New Look have an amazing range starting at only £6.99. I just can't decide which colour to get.

4. This quote, which can be purchased framed, is just perfect. I often think something along these lines when I look at how my life has turned out so far. Except Asha Tyson said it much better than I ever could.

5. The Lake District. I'm off to The Lakes tomorrow morning for a long weekend. We'll be climbing Scafell, biking through Grizedale Forest and generally enjoying life. I took this photo during my last visit in October. Let's hope the skies are a little less grey this time.

And a few more honourable mentions: The Apprentice ♥ Thunderstorms ♥ Boux Avenue - I didn't want to leave their Trafford Centre store last night. So luxurious and tempting ♥ Evening power walks with friends - free and fun exercise! ♥ Vegetarian curry ♥ Coloured ankle grazer jeans like these.


Monday, 9 May 2011

The Art of Empathy

I wish lessons like this were taught in schools:

I wonder why some of us have a tendency to only see the worst in others?

Credit: image created by me; quote is #32 of 38 Life Lessons I've Learned in 38 Years
Another article which is somewhat related to the 'art of empathy' << click here

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Road Trip to Southport

Yesterday we took the day off work and went on a short road trip up to Southport - a Victorian seaside town situated on the coast about one hour north of Manchester. We walked up the pier, had 5 minutes of fun in the hall of mirrors, took a stroll around the shops, then found an amazing (if not a little pretentious) place to eat. V-Cafe served up one of the tastiest restaurant meals I've had in a long time. Beef burger topped with cheese and bacon plus a basket of fries. I really enjoyed it, which goes to show that a little bit of junk food now and then ain't so bad.

Kinda cool how it was presented on a board rather than a plate.

Our day out reminded me that I should make the effort to do more with my spare time. There are so many places to visit and it doesn't always cost much. It was nice to experience something new and see the seaside! Whilst the weather is so beautiful in England I really have no excuse.

Do you have any fun day trips planned? Any recommendations for interesting towns to head to north of the midlands but south of Scotland? I'm already itching to take another road trip. Have a great weekend guys!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Fashion Focus: French Connection

Having followed some all snippets of news regarding the romance of Prince William and Kate I've learnt that this is a girl who, for one reason or another, is happy to shop the high street in spite of her new status. Sure, she's no stranger to an Issa dress or two but she rocked up to her engagement photograph shoot in Reiss and left the palace the day after her wedding in a £49.99 dress by my beloved Zara (now sold out. Obviously).

I think the point I'm trying to make with this post is that you really don't need to be decked out in couture to look amazing - the UK high street is bedazzling right now. I have little spare cash to speak of (instead, I'm busily saving for my next travel adventure and rainy days) but if I did I'd be spending my time perusing the racks at Reiss, Whistles and a newly discovered label, Mint Velvet (stocked at John Lewis and not ridiculously pricey).

If you needed any further proof of how spot on British fashion is check out the current offering at another of Kate's favourite stores >> French Connection. For today only take 20% off anything and everything with code GRAZIAHS11.

Nice stuff, right?

Now, tell me, what are your favourite higher end stores on the high street? Do you think buying quality over quantity is worth it? Or do you still prefer the fast (and cheaper) fashion of favourites like River Island and New Look?

Leave a comment and tell all!