Digital PR executive by day and fashion & lifestyle blogger by night. Forever Miss Vanity is a blog that shows you can lead a glamorous lifestyle on a budget and highlights my search to find unique places to eat and visit, fun places to shop and my tips on looking and feeling your best.
When I first started Forever Miss Vanity, my aim was to make it a beauty blog. I used to be incredibly passionate about beauty, skin and hair care. I used to spend a large proportion of my salary on beauty products and wouldn't think twice about splashing out on Chanel, Bobbi Brown or Nars. As time went by, I started falling out of love with beauty. I found products weren't as good quality as they used to be and so many things on the market felt too similar. Nothing really stood out to me and the further invested I became with vegetarianism and veganism, I also realised that there are too many big beauty brands testing animals.
These days I find it hard to get excited over makeup, but one thing I do love in body and skin care, even more so if it is vegan and cruelty-free. Recently I Love Cosmetics got in touch and asked me if I wanted to review some of the products and after seeing the bright colourful packaging and the fact that they are cruelty-free, I leapt at the opportunity.
I Love Cosmetics is a British beauty and skincare brand, established in 2009. Their four core values are fragrance, fun, refreshment and authentic. The fragrance is the heart and soul of their collection, they pride themselves on being fun, the aim to be authentic and every one of their products should be refreshing.
Glazed Raspberry Bath Salts - £8.00
One of the first products that I was eager to try was the Glazed Raspberry Bath Salts and they did not disappoint. All of the 'Glazed Raspberry' products smell incredible and these bath salts made it feel like you were soaking in a tub of raspberries. My skin came out feeling incredibly soft and refreshed.
Glazed Raspberry Body Wash - £6.50
I have been using this body wash for a few weeks now and it is a delight to use. The raspberry scent lingers on your skin for hours after your wash and the bottle looks great in any bathroom.
English Rose and Exotic Fruit Body Wash The English Rose and Exotic Fruit body washes are travel sized and I'm currently reserving these for when I next go on holiday. The English Rose is a sophisticated scent and not overly floral and the exotic fruit has a really juicy orange scent.
Violet Dreams Diffuser - £15.00
As well as skin and body care, I Love Cosmetics has recently started selling candles and diffusers. The Violet Dreams diffuser smells lovely, but for £15.00 I was rather disappointed that the scent didn't stick around long enough.
Vanilla Milk candle - £15.00
The Vanilla Milk candle smells lovely and makes me think of cake. It has a really delicate smell that gently fills the air with a gorgeous, lingering aroma once lit. The candle has a burn time of 40 hours and I can see myself getting a lot of use from this over the winter period.
My life has been quite hectic lately (in a good way though). I've left one job, started another, been on holiday and started again. Whilst I've enjoyed all the excitement and the hustle and bustle of a busy life, it has been difficult to keep on track of everything - from scheduling time to go to the gym, to writing entries on here. When leading a busy lifestyle, it's incredibly important to learn how to effectively prioritise - not only so you can stay on top of your workload, but also so that you don't burn out or miss out on the things that you enjoy.
I've always been told that I have pretty good organisational skills both inside and outside work and that I'm great at prioritising, so I decided today to put together a short post on my top prioritising tips.
Make a note of your most urgent and non-urgent tasks
One of the easiest ways of figuring out what tasks you should prioritise is to create three columns and write down your urgent tasks in one and non-urgent tasks in another and the deadline besides them. Highlight the tasks that you need to do straight away so that they stand out and create a plan on how to tackle the rest.
Create a timing plan
Even if you haven't been given a deadline, it's always important to set one. Setting deadlines gives us a date or goal to work towards and gives us the kick we sometimes need to get tasks done. Be realistic and don't pressure yourself too much, unless you have left something until the very last minute.
Take one step at a time
Take one step at a time and try not to rush through activities. I always schedule my day out hour by hour so I know exactly what I'm doing and can stay on track of the time. I find that wearing a watch is less of a distraction than checking the time on my mobile phone. This gorgeous watch from Nordgreen* is one of the latest in my collection. It is sleek, sophisticated and perfect for wearing in the office. If you're in the market for a new watch, you can get 10% off by using FOREVERMISSVANITY10.
Do the tasks that you are dreading first
If you start with the tasks that make you the happiest, you will put off the ones that you don't really want to do. The best thing you can do is get the 'worst' tasks ticked off your list first.
Don't stress yourself out
Stressing yourself out leads to procrastination and anxiety and in the end, it is counterproductive. Try to stay calm, think logically and if you're struggling, reach out to your colleagues, friends or family for advice.
Focus on the end goal
Always focus on the end goal to help get you through your workload and think how much easier life will be once you get your task out of the way. Once you have done have your urgent tasks, you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and a weight will be lifted on your shoulder. Getting your smaller tasks done will make you feel great that you are making progress.
It has been a while since I've written a blog post, but so much has been going on in my life. Two weeks ago I started a brand new job working for a remarkable charity and I'm loving every second of it and in between my new full-time job, house decorating is in full swing. We have brand new doors, the garden has been landscaped and is ready to shape into the garden of our dreams, we have priced up a kitchen and we've selected a colour for our hallway. Today I thought I'd share some items currently on my home wishlist to give you some inspiration if you're planning on doing a bit of decorating or looking for inspiration.
Wooden bath caddy
When I'm feeling stressed, I love nothing more than taking a magazine into the bath with me, lighting some candles and relaxing in some hot bubbles. Bath time is my 'me time' and it gives me the chance to reflect on everything going on in my life. I've always wanted a wooden bath caddy as I always drop my magazines in the water and I would love something to keep my bathroom space organised. This bath caddy from Dunelm is super affordable, it's extendable and it is crafted from natural bamboo.
Round bamboo mirror
I have been looking at mirrors to fill a space on the wall in our hallway once it is decorated and I've fallen in love with this round bamboo mirror from Maisons du Mode. It is quirky and a little bit different to any other mirrors that I've seen. The mirror has taken its design inspiration from the 1960s and 70s and has a true retro, vintage vibe.
Pendant lamp with plant holder
I'm loving having plants in the house right now. A few weeks ago I went on an IKEA spree and came back with a bonsai tree and some cacti and I'm absolutely having them around the home. It's strange how plants can make us feel so relaxed and in touch with nature. I discovered this pendant lamp with a plant holder whilst browsing the Amara website and I desperately want it in my home.
Neom candles have such a powerful scent and they can really liven up a room. I love how you can go to the store and have your scent tested so that they can match the candle to your current mood. With the nights beginning to get that little bit darker, I'm desperately in need of some new candles to light. I've currently chosen the calm and relax candle because my life is so busy right now (in a good way) and I think this will help me wind down on an evening.
Smeg Dolce & Gabbana Kettle
Last, but definitely not least on my wishlist is the Smeg Dolce & Gabbana kettle. Ever since I saw this design, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. The colours are striking, the pattern is beautiful and it's a real statement piece. I very much doubt that my husband would allow me to spend £400 on a kettle right now, but it is definitely staying on my wishlist.
There's nothing I love more than having a picnic in the sunshine with lots of food, drink and the people I care about the most. Picnics are a great way of enjoying the great outdoors, whether you're going on a long hike in the countryside or looking to relax somewhere close to home. When you live in urban surroundings, it can be difficult to find somewhere with a plot of land, but many cities do have wonderful parks like Park Square in Leeds, you just need to hunt them down.
Robinson's recently challenged me to enjoy a picnic in my favourite inner-city park. To help us enjoy our picnic in the sunshine, they kindly sent me a picnic hamper and a few samples of their Refresh'd drinks. This wasn't the first time that I had actually tried their drinks - I've been a fan of them awhile and couldn't wait to try more flavours. I find them incredibly thirst to quench and as someone who likes to monitor their health, I like the fact that they are made from natural spring water and real fruit and have only 55 calories per 500ml - compared to other alternatives on the market that are full of sugar, which I actively try to avoid.
My favourite drink has to be their Raspberry and Apple as it is deliciously fruity, but I also really enjoyed trying out all the rest of the flavours too - Apple and Kiwi and Orange and Passionfruit. I'm always on the lookout for new drinks to enjoy when I'm on the go - especially on the way to work in the morning, so it's great to find a set of drinks that fit into my healthy lifestyle, and they only cost £1.29.
Along with the drinks, I was given this gorgeous blue picnic matt from John Lewis, a Bluetooth speaker from Tesco (which has the best sound quality I've heard from such a small speaker) and a gorgeous pink rucksack from Swedish company Kanken. I've never been much of a rucksack person, but this rucksack is very feminine, fits lovely on my shoulders without looking bulky and is really comfortable. I can see myself going on lots of countryside walks in the future and taking this with me as it is very lightweight and looks really stylish.
Park Square in Leeds is a five-minute walk from the train station, situated in the financial district of Leeds. It is well kept with lots of beautiful flowers and seating and it is surrounded by Georgian buildings, giving you the sense that you have stepped back in time. The square has seen a wealth of history over the years and was home to brewer Joshua Tetley, the inventor Sir Clifford Allbut who invented the thermometer and renowned surgeon Berkley Moynihan, known for his pioneering surgical techniques.
What I love about Park Square is that it is in the heart of the city centre and attracts so many people from different walks of life and with different interests. During my visit, I saw students hanging out with friends, people on their lunch breaks and at one point a surge of Pokemon Go fanatics. Despite being in the city centre, the park remains quite tranquil and is a bit of a hidden gem, it's a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, whilst still enjoying the company of the residents of Leeds.
The sunshine in the UK is expected to last until September, so you have plenty of time to assemble your picnic kit and hunt down your favourite places. I know this picnic definitely won't be my last this summer.
*This is a sponsored campaign, but all views and thoughts are my own.
After a year of saving up for a house deposit, back in April, my husband and I became homeowners for the first time. It has been an exciting few months, planning out every room, turning these four walls into somewhere special that we can call our own. However, there's also so much that we discovered about home ownership that we naively never thought about. Owning a house definitely outweighs all the cons listed below, but for those looking into buying their first property, I thought I would put together a few of my key learnings from the last few months.
There's so much you have to teach yourself
Unless you want to spend a fortune on hiring plumbers, builders and general tradesmen, there's so much that you will have to learn and teach yourself when you buy a home. From picking up a paintbrush for the first time to wiring up lights and flat pack furniture. Don't worry, in time you will learn to distinguish between different pipes, screws and bolts, but in the first instance, it can be overwhelming. It's hard to imagine a life without Pinterest and YouTube tutorials giving us a heads up.
Building supplies are expensive
Building supplies can be incredibly expensive and soon add up. I was shocked to discover that on average it can cost £200 just to hire a skip to get rid of all our rubbish and since doing up our garden, we've already needed three of them. Whilst paint and wallpaper for inside the house can be bought at an affordable price, items such as taps can be more expensive than you originally think. Always compare prices to find the best ones to suit your budget and whilst sometimes it can be tempting to cheap out, always think long-term and consider quality or price.
You will begin to find flaws in almost every part of your home Once you are settled in your home, it is likely that you will begin to find little annoyances, but the best thing about being homeowners is the fact that most of them are rectifiable. The worst thing is that you will become obsessed with D.I.Y and constantly be striving for a perfect home. Every day I'm finding new things that I would like to change.
You will probably experience buyers regret
Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make, therefore it is normal to have some doubts - even after you have moved in. Once the thrill of being a first-time homeowner wears off, you may begin to discover a few bugbears, but it's important to remember that no house is without faults and you fell in love with that house for a reason.
Your house won't be Pinterest ready straight away
When you spend months planning out your dream home on Pinterest, when you eventually do move in, you just want everything done straight away so you can see your vision come to life. However, it's not as simple as it sounds. To make a masterpiece, things do take time and you would be surprised how long even the simplest of activities such as painting a room can take. Unless you're ready to commit several hours a night on top of holding a full-time job, your dream may have to take longer than you anticipated, but at least you know it will be worth the wait.
If you asked me last year if I could go a week without social media, I would have quivered at the thought. For the last seven years my life has revolved around social media, so much so that I've spent family occasions glued to my phone, missed out on spending time with my friends as I was too concerned about picturing the moment than speaking to them and every evening instead of enjoying precious time with my husband, I would be on my phone from the moment I got home to the time I went to bed.
Social media is a great way of staying connected, but at times it can turn into a bit of an obsession and really affect a person's mental health. I got to the point where I began comparing myself to other people, getting FOMO seeing people I cared about spending time with others and not me and I turned to Instagram filtering my life to make everything look perfect when it wasn't. This isn't social media bashing - I love social media and it is such a large part of my life and my job, if it wasn't for social media, I would have never built a successful blog.
I never intentionally went on a digital detox, it just happened. One day I just decided to log out of Instagram and put my phone down and hours later, I realised that I didn't feel the need to check my phone anymore. Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks and I began enjoying the pressure-free, digital free life. I spent the time that I would have been editing photographs or on social media, learning how to cook, going out with my friends and husband and not worrying about curating the perfect Instagram shot, it was liberating.
My mental health improved One of the biggest improvements I saw since stepping away from social media was that my mental health improved. I felt like I didn't have to be someone I'm not anymore and live up to the Instagram perfect life. I could relax and sleep better on a night without checking my phone at ridiculous o'clock too. I learnt who my real followers are Since taking a bit of a blogging break, my engagement across social has dropped tremendously - it is like starting from scratch all over again. I've lost a lot of followers and only get a handful of likes on Instagram now, but the people who are liking my posts are the ones who have stuck around for months or years and supported me through every step I made. I'm happier to have those people in my life, than a dozen fakes.
I'm beginning to love life again
Social media took me to quite a dark place after I experienced some horrible comments from trolls. It made me doubt myself and I became quite paranoid of the people hiding behind a screen name - do I even know them and if not, what do they have against me? Thankfully time is a healer and my time away has made me realise that the people who made those comments were just jealous of my life and right now I'm in a happier place than I've ever been.
It has made me reevaluate my blog for the better
My break from social has made me reevaluate my blog for the better and take a thorough look at the content I'm creating. It has made me realise that I would rather write about what makes me happy and what could be helpful for other people than write content just for the sake of it.
I can look forward to my life off my screen
The time I spend offline has given me the chance to focus on my life off screen by learning new hobbies and taking a closer look at my career. In the last few months, I've been able to spend more time cooking, I've made some improvements to the house and I've recently accepted a new job.
There's nothing more thrilling than walking around old landmarks, discovering the history behind them and trying to picture yourself in the shoes of the people who once walked there. One of the most exciting parts of a holiday for me is sightseeing, learning about the culture and being immersed in a world so much different to my own. Instagram is often filled with exotic snaps from faraway countries, giving the illusion that most of the best landmarks are on the other side of the world, but this isn't always the case. You can travel less than four hours to places like Spain, Bulgaria and Greece and see some pretty amazing sights.
Earlier this year I bought my first ever home and for the last twelve months, I have barely left the country due to saving for a house deposit. Now that one of the biggest financial hurdles is out of the way, I can't wait to get back into travelling and discovering new places. Today I've teamed up with Holiday Gems to give you the low down on some of the best landmarks across Europe and to show you the top five I've picked out for my European bucket list.
Greece - Parthenon
Greece is somewhere that I've always wanted to visit, but never really had the chance. I love Greek history and the food and my friends all rave about it. I'm hoping that the next 12 months will finally allow me to visit some of the Greek Islands and in particular, visit the Parthenon - a former Greek temple that was built in 447 BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena.
Ibiza - Es Vedra
If you're an avid reader of my blog, you will know how much I love Ibiza and the iconic landmark Es Vedra. I've been to Es Vedra several times, but I love it so much that it will always be somewhere that I want to visit again and again. Es Vedra is a small island off the Ibiza mainland and is host to many myths and legends, according to geologists it is one of the strongest centres of magnetic forces in the world. Whilst you cannot board the island, many boat trips circle it and host swimming sessions around it and it makes for a wonderful day out.
Bulgaria - Rila Monastery
Bulgaria is a newcomer to my European bucket list. I didn't think much about travelling here until I saw that one of my friends had visited and I began Googling it. The country has lots of amazing architecture and the Rila Monastery is just one of the amazing examples. The monastery was founded in the 10th century and is now a World Heritage Site.
Mallorca - Palma Cathedral
I visited Palma when I was quite young and I remember walking by the cathedral, but for some reason, we were quite limited on time and we couldn't spend as much time there as I would have liked. One day I really want to return because it is such a beautiful landmark and Palma is also a wonderful, stylish city.
Barcelona - Sagrada Familia
Barcelona is again one of those places that I've always wanted to visit but never got around to it. So many of my friends and family keep telling me to take a trip there and I'm hoping that I won't let another year escape me without a visit. The Sagrada Familia is a listed World Heritage Site due to it being constructed by world-famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.
When I mention to people that I'm vegan and that I cannot eat milk chocolate, I'm often confronted with shocked and confused faces. "How can you live without Cadburys", they say and, "how can you even like dark chocolate." The truth is, before going vegan I never really liked dark chocolate. I would always avoid the Bournville in the box and I would sniff my nose up at dark chocolate even though people told me all about the health benefits. However, since becoming vegan I've discovered there's a lot more to dark chocolate than people realise and a lot of variety.
With the booming vegan market, there are more companies than ever before offering vegan chocolate from small independent stores on Etsy to the big established chocolate brands such as Hotel Chocolat. Vegan chocolate has also become a lot more experimental - gone are the days where vegans were just given the darkest, most bitter chocolates in the tin, there are now vegan 'milk chocolates' made from coconut milk, creamy vegan truffles and vegan honeycomb minus the honey.
A new brand that I have been excited to try is The Slabb. The Slabb is an online chocolate company owned by Holly & Stuart and as well as selling dairy chocolates, they have an extensive vegan range with a variety of unique flavours. In January, Holly and Stuart launched a Kickstarter campaign called the #100Slabbchallenge, to create 100 different flavours of chocolate this year, with each chocolate being limited edition and the 'Vegan Party One' is one of the chocolates I was given to try.
The 'Vegan Party One' is a rich dark chocolate topped with party favourites such as party rings, sprinkles, jam and vegan marshmallows. It is a fun party bar perfect for a girly night in or for those looking to add a little bit of fun in their lives. The ingredients complement each other perfectly with the party rings adding crunch and texture and the jam adding extra sweetness to the chocolate - it was great to see a vegan chocolate that had a lot of character and it isn't just the standard 'dark chocolate'. The party edition would make an ideal present for a loved one as it is so colourful, unique and charming and the packaging is girly, yet sophisticated. These bars retail at £5.50 which I think is a bargain for such a unique, limited edition product and I can't wait to hear about the next vegan chocolate they create.
After a long, emotionally draining twelve months of saving, two weeks ago my husband and I officially became homeowners. It has been a strange process for us as we haven't been down the traditional route of buying our first home, our landlord several months ago came up to us and said he was selling the house we were renting and we just didn't want to leave. We have a lovely spacious garden - enough room for a house extension, the neighbourhood is lovely and quiet and five minutes one way we're in the countryside and another five-minute drive in the opposite direction and we're in the main town, it's a very convenient location. Knowing how much we wanted to buy the house we have been living in and waking up it seeing it every morning put a lot of pressure on us - when we started saving we had no savings in the bank and we only had a few short months to get enough money for a deposit. But we did it, with the help of a Help to Buy ISA we were able to put down a 9% deposit (which we worked day in and day out to save for, with no help from our relatives) and twelve months later the deeds have been handed over and the house is officially in our name.
When we started the house buying process, I was surprised by the lack of information out there for first-time buyers. It can be a little bit of a maze and if you get stuck with solicitors like ours who didn't inform you of the steps they were taking, it was very frustrating. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be writing a few honest posts about the house buying process, but today I thought I would jot down a few of my thoughts about what I learnt from buying our first home.
It can be very long winded Firstly, the process can be incredibly long-winded, even if you're not in a chain. Once we had our mortgage approved, we assumed that the house would be ours overnight, but it took almost thirteen agonising weeks of waiting and it was an emotionally draining process, wondering each day if something was going to go wrong and we wouldn't get our home.
Emotions are high
I didn't expect to be so emotional during the process. What should have been one of the happiest times of our lives, was full of tension, anxiety and tears. In retrospect, I should have had more faith in our solicitors and ourselves that it would all be okay in the end.
You need to do research Always do your research and make note of every step you need to take in order keep the ball rolling. There had been several times where our solicitors forgot to inform us of a pivotal stage in our mortgage application and because we had done our research, we were able to give them a steer in the right direction. On the other hand, don't get hung up on some of the horror stories that are out there, there's a lot of horror stories on forums and just because it happened to someone else, it doesn't mean it will happen to you. Somethings don't always go to plan
Like everything in life, sometimes things don't go to plan and you need to make yourself aware of every eventuality. We had issues surrounding our completion date, through no fault of our own, but it all worked out in the end. The worst thing you can do is lose your stride - remain positive.
You learn who your best friends are
Buying your first home is an expensive process from saving up for the initial deposit to surveyor fees, bank fees and solicitor fees. When buying your first home it is very likely that you would need to sacrifice nights out and social events to save some cash. Luckily for me, I have the most supportive friends who were by our side all the way, but there was a few who were less supportive and didn't understand why I needed to save the money so quickly.
It's worth it in the end Despite all ups and downs, you go through when buying a house, it is all worth it in the end. The moment where you get your keys or you enter the building that is finally yours is an overwhelming experience and something to be really proud of. I know how fortunate I am to have my own home and I'm looking forward to making it a space that reflects mine and my husband's personality.
I'm not usually one for eating junk food, but when I was invited to review Knaves Kitchen in Leeds and saw their vegan junk food menu, I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. As a vegan, I'm always looking for exciting, unique dishes that challenge the perceptions of what vegans actually eat - we don't always eat salads and large plates of vegetables. Knaves Kitchen, situated in Oporto on Call Lane features a creative vegan menu, consisting of a vegan favourite 'seitan', which is a gluten meat substitute that can be made into a variety of complex dishes.
Dishes on the Knaves Kitchen menu includes lots of comfort dishes from 'fish finger wraps' to Katsu curries and onion bhaji burgers, all of which are reasonably priced and great portion sizes. Their cocktail menu is also just as creative - one of my favourites of the night being a pineapple concoction served with a side of frazzles to give it a sweet and savoury vibe.
The food at Knaves Kitchen was exceptional and the dishes that they were able to create with seitan were outstanding, you wouldn't even think half of them were vegan. Their kebab dishes were extra 'meaty', their tofu katsu curry had the perfect amount of crunch and their fish finger sandwich was heavenly especially the secret recipe for tartar sauce. The star of the show for me, however, was the onion bhaji burger, it oozed flavour, had the perfect amount of crunch and it was highly satisfying - so much so, that I dived straight in and forgot to take a picture!
If you're looking to experiment with veganism, but don't like the idea of going straight to the deep end with whole-food vegan recipes, I completely recommend visiting Knaves Kitchen - I would also suggest that those who eat meat give it a try, because Knaves Kitchen proves that life without meat doesn't have to be boring.