30.12.15

Doddle Says Relax: Secret Santa Challenge

In the spirit of all things Christmassy, and the fact that I had yet to watch Elf (which officially marks the start of christmas for me!) I agreed to take part in a Bloggers Secret Santa, hosted by Doddle.

The Doddle Says Relax campaign was launched in a bid to give people back some time to relax at Christmas by avoiding queues and the pain of missed deliveries! Doddle is a parcel company who aim to make sending and receiving parcels easy with locations in popular train stations, shopping centres and even universities which are open late, and mostly 7 days a week so you can send or collect your parcels at a time that suits you!


Doddle recently launched a 'runner' service exclusive to Londoners. All you have to do is take a photo of the stuff you wanna send via the Doddle Runner app and a Doddle Runner will pick it up from wherever you are, then package and post it using a next day delivery service from a Doddle Store.

So this was the basis of our Secret Santa style challenge! 

What Santa Sent 

I was chosen to shop for the lovely Georgina, of Georgina Does. Lucky for me, I have met Georgina quite a few times and even spent a whole weekend with her on an #ActiveHen! I had a budget of £30 worth of John Lewis vouchers and no idea where to begin! I spent a couple days going through Georgina's blog (again, as I already follow her) then I gave up and dropped her some hints in the hope she would give me some inspiration!

Photo credit: @GeorginaDoes on Twitter
It literally was a doddle to send these gifts off to Georgina! ...albeit with a few hiccups along the way! It seems there were a few things you can't send via Doddle which includes glass and "food"; there was a thing about items you couldn't send on the app but I assumed it would be similar to an airport and surely if the stuff got delivered to me in the first place, they could send it on?! BUT, you live and learn! At the end of the day, georgina was happy, so I was happy too ;)

What Santa Sent To Me

Unfortunately, I missed the delivery of my gift before Christmas on the 23rd as I left to spend a few days in a hotel in London! So when I returned home on the Sunday I still had one more card and set of presents to open!

My gift came from Gemma, of Gemsies. Gemma came good on our brief around relaxation over the holidays and purchased for me a REN Body Kit (chocked full of travel sized body washes), a set of bath fizzers packaged as christmas crackers, a tinned candle and a mug and bauble set.


So I'll basically be recreating my last evening at the hotel; a hot bubble bath by candlelight, with a reggae soundtrack (thanks Spotify - best purchase I've made this year!!) with a mug of hot chocolate by my side! I honestly can't remember the last time I had a bath at home, but it really was the most relaxing experience I've had in a long time!

***

Thank You to Doddle for putting together this little challenge! The runner service and delivery itself was definitely no stress; just had to get our heads around the challenge organisation! I love the simplicity of the whole process and am even looking into using Doddle for my new business - Borrow My // Blender - in the near future! 

So how have YOU been relaxing over the holidays?! 

Elle :) x

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p.s I STILL haven't watched Elf! Nor drunk any mulled wine... so technically Christmas is NOT over for me! Sorry peeps! haha! 

28.12.15

Elle Loves ...December '15 Foodie Edition

It's been a while since I did an 'Elle Loves' post and I'm cutting it fine for December 2015! I realised when I looked at my list of things I wanted to share that they were ALL food related so I've made this a Foodie Edition


1. MuscleFood* 


Waaaaay back in (late) October, I took delivery of a box stuffed with MuscleFood goodies. Since then, I've been making my way through the contents and noting my opinions so I could share with you!

...I've been aware of MuscleFood for a couple of years ..so it was great I finally got a chance to find out about their products for myself!

What I received:

2 x 6oz Great British Hache Steaks
2.5kg Premium Skinless Chicken Breasts
Extra Lean British Beef Mince
Chicken Breast Sausages
Prutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Very Low Fat Pork Sausages
Strawberry Protein Crunchies
Protein Peanut Butter Pralines
Sugar Free Strawberry Sweeties
Tuna, Onion & Olive High Protein Pizza

...and the pizza was the first thing that got eaten! 


The entire pizza only has 630kcal is high protein, low carb and gluten free! So you can go all out and eat the whole thing (I mean, if your macros allow) or eat half and add some salad!

One great thing about the MuscleFood products is that you can freeze them. Upon arrival (my mum kindly) separated the chicken breast into bags of 3 and popped them in the freezer. I ended up with 4 bags of 3 chicken breasts (which could feed me for 3-4 meals per bag!). I tend not to buy chicken breasts much these days as they just don't taste that great and come out chewy when cooked. I used the MuscleFood chicken to make Thai Green Curry, Peanut Butter Chicken, Mum's Homemade Chicken Curry and Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas.

Mix 200g of prutella, 1 large egg, 1/3 cup of oat flour and a dash of baking powder/ Bake at 175 degrees (fan assisted) for 20 minutes. Cut into 10 squares (I eat 3 squares in one go totalling 243 calories. Winning. 

2. Yummy Yogi Cookie Cutter  



I'm not sure anyone loves these as much as me! I think they make really cute gifts (all year round) for your baking yogi friends and just are a little different to whats already out there! I wrote a whole post on the Borrow My // Blender Blog which you can read {here} along with an awesome recipe I shared from Deliciously Ella.

3. MighTea Toolkit from BRITA* 



When the weather had gotten a little chilly earlier this month, I decided that tea was the healthiest way to stay warm from the inside out. So when I got an email informing me that the Health Council in the Netherlands recently advised people to drink 5 cups a day I wondered if I could match this! 

BRITA kindly sent me over four delicious blends created by BRITA ambassador and tea expert Jane Pettigrew which help combat winter ailments, such as sleepless nights and dry skin. Lemongrass and ginger is especially great for detoxing and helping to shift those christmas pounds! My all out favourite was the Lemongrass and ginger; I virtually had 2 - 3 cups per day till the box ran out! I'm not a huge fan of Redbush but my mum is and she enjoyed her cuppa's while visiting me and carried the rest of the box home! I still have the Green Tea which I am aiming to drink more of as I know it has many benefits! the breakfast tea is lovely too; a little strong but that's solved by adding a dash of milk!



4. The ProteinWorks*


I picked up a few products from The Protein Works this month to help support me on my quest to drop a few kg and increase my protein intake. I've been using their Protein Brownies as a sweet treat when needed which comes in at 112kcal per serving! It tastes pretty similar to their Protein Truffles which I tried before but a it denser and more moist like an actual brownie.

I've also been eating their Tropical Protein Granola splashed with almond milk probably every other day; usually opting for a 60g serving which comes i at 268kcal, sometimes topped with fresh fruit.


I've been using the chia seeds in smoothies and the tub came in handy for my first event for Borrow My // Blender in the Almond Butter Milkshake Smoothies. I'm saving the Beef Jerky for when I'm travelling around town and need a healthy snack to keep me going. Just need to reserve some time to experiment with the bag of Vitafibre that I have; I think that calls for some more baking in the New Year!

AND, they're currently having a New Year Sale with up to 75% off! Check it out!




What food products have you been loving over the past month?! What's on your wishlist to try?! 


Elle :) 


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p.s products with a *, I received complimentary either for review or just by chance (yes, this happens!) but as always all opinions are my very own! 

25.12.15

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas...


Hello! 

I wanted to take a moment out of my day to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! 

I hope you're enjoying your day! I sure plan on doing so! ...I'm spending Christmas 2015 in a hotel in the centre of London. 25th December is one of the most beautiful days to be in the City as it's virtually traffic free and the streets are considerably less packed! We'll be taking a stroll along the River Thames to our dinner reservation then enjoying the rest of our day with no commitments! 

See you after the holidays! 

Elle :) 

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23.12.15

In My Skin || End of Perfect7 Challenge

Back in October, I shared with you that I would be taking part in the Perfect7 Challenge with Seven Seas. Here's a quick recap (or you can watch the video and read the post):

Seven Seas Perfect7 conducted some research and identified 7 healthy habits of younger looking people - 

1. They drank more than 2 litres of water a day 
2. They didn’t smoke 
3. They ate a lot of oily fish (2 or more portions a week) 
4. They drank less alcohol 
5. They ate less refined sugar 
6. They ate high levels of fruit and vegetables 
7. They had a positive attitude

They tasked 7 bloggers to take on ONE of the habits over 7 weeks and share our journey! My new habit will be to consume two or more portions of oily fish each week during the 7 weeks. During this time, we'll also be taking the Perfect7 Woman Supplement. 


The plan was to keep a "skin diary" and a little log of the food (especially which oily fish) that I consume. 


When the challenge started, I was pretty frustrated with my skin. I didn't understand why when I am 31, I still suffer from blemishes and spots. What makes it worse is that each time I get a spot, I am left with dark pigmentation which takes weeks and weeks to disappear. 

In the first few weeks, I think I went a little overboard with the oily fish challenge. I stuffed my face with salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna. By weeks 3 & 4, I branched out to try pilchards and trout; then I kinda fell off the "recording what fish I've eaten" wagon! But, I did continue to make a concerted effort and I'm sure I hit my target of 2 or more portions each week. 


During the 7 weeks, I took my Perfect7 supplements each and every day! I have also been using African Mango Extract too, which according to the reviews helps with skin issues. With any such challenge its always hard to extrapolate and say that a caused b or vice versa so anything I share with you here, I'm not directly attributing to any one source. 

Over the 7 weeks, my skin has improved a little. I'd say I'm still in the same position as I originally started but a little more happy with my overall skin condition. I've made an effort to ensure I remove make up at night and have been using more natural products such as coconut oil. 

Although I focused on one lifestyle change, I feel like a few of the others apply to me anyway as I don't smoke, I don't drink much and I like to think I have a positive attitude etc. I think that combining all of these changes would have the most impact in terms of results. 

Where do I go from here?! I recently learnt that Lush (a store I have never shopped in) sell amazing skincare products so I plan to pop in there and check out what they may have for me! I also read that sometimes your skin is a reflection of your gut health and taking pre- and pro-biotics is a good way to help clear things up so this is something that I will be looking into! 

Will I continue supplementing?! I for sure will use the rest of my samples (I think I had 3 months in total) as I think sometimes you need to give something quite a while to really see the changes possible. I think this challenge was a great opportunity to really be mindful about what I was eating in general and catching patterns of having more spots after eating greasy food like pizza. 

What else do I commit to?! I'm committing as always, to drinking more water, keeping an eye on my refined sugar intake and really caring for my skin. 


Before I go, maybe you're thinking you'd like to try this for yourself?! So I'm offering one person the chance to WIN 6 months supply of the Seven Seas Perfect7 Supplements to take on their own challenge as week 4 (and the final week!) of my advent series! 

Entry is via the rafflecopter widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
What skin issues, if any, do you suffer with?! What are your skincare secrets?!

Elle :) 

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21.12.15

Sport'n Style || SB In The City


A few weeks ago, I popped along to the Sweaty Betty Spring '16 Press Day at their Soho Boutique and fell in love with all the colour inspired by Rio De Janeiro (RDJ), the 2016 Olympics and rainforests. I took a nosey through all the collections, and was truly inspired to get active! 


It seems that London somehow thinks it is RDJ when it comes to the weather right now! It's almost Christmas Day and we're having weather thats reminiscent of Spring! I used the opportunity to get outside and take some photos of this gorgeous outfit from Sweaty Betty comprising of the Anusara Yoga Vest in Coral Candy and Zero Gravity Pinnacle Tights in Concrete Print. 




The first time I slipped on this tank was a bit of a giggle! I somehow put it on sideways and stood in front of the mirror wondering how the design could be so flawed! Once I got it on the right way, it was a perfect fit; soft, lightweight and flattering. I especially like that the front isn't cut too high or too low. I also like the way the back forms the 'teardrop' opening as an extra design detail. 


I've been keen to try the Zero Gravity tights for a while as I've heard good things about them! Being someone that wears her lycra for an entire day I have high standards! I need the length to be just right so they don't cut off the circulation at my ankles, for the waist to be high enough to flatter my stomach and allow me to keep my dignity when teaching and demonstrating all in addition to being breathable and able to cope with sweat! Making my butt look great is an added bonus right?! All of this is basically what I got. 

So don't mind me over here, hanging out on a windowsill in the City of London. They said these tights were a wardrobe weapon to amplify my confidence. 

Check out the Sweaty Betty website for more of their wardrobe weapons and a cheeky peek in their sale section (the tights in this post are currently IN THE SALE!)

Do you shop in Sweaty Betty?! What do you recommend from their range?! 

Elle :) 

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17.12.15

Pamper Yourself During The Holidays

With just over a week to go until Christmas, for me, things seems to be a little calm (and a little warm?! in London). I took a few days off my retail job in the last couple of weeks in order to recoup and build up my energy! During that time, I decided on a few things I would do over the holidays to ensure I stay feeling "well" and thought I'd share them with you for week 3 of the advent feature!


1. Indulge Not Over Indulge 
I'm not gonna say no to the odd cake, biscuit or mulled wine but I am going to be mindful about what I put in my mouth. I plan to continue using MyFitnessPal (MFP) up to a point; currently, I have a couple "off plan" (as in not inputted) days on MFP and that's how I plan to continue. It's great to have an idea of what I am eating each day but when I go out, I don't want to be the one in the corner looking for the next nearest equivalent in MFP in order to be super specific!

2. Stay Active 
Ever noticed that when you take time off work, you get ill?! That's because when you suddenly reduce stress, your immune system relaxes and gives all sorts the opportunity to attack you. Staying active over the holidays is a good way to reduce stress and keep your immune system strong. I don't have any particular goals of how many sessions but I am technically in Half Marathon training albeit a little bit lax!


3. Have Some Me Time 
I'm lucky enough that I have my place to myself so I get to come home to peace and quiet each evening. I also currently get a complimentary cinema ticket each week which I plan on using; taking a couple hours out each week to just sit down, watch a film and enjoy the moment. Your me time could be reading a book, watching TV, cooking, or going for a walk! You know yourself best and you know how you like to wind down!

4. Planning, Preparation and Pampering 
Hands up who has done all their Christmas shopping?! ...truthfully, I don't "do" Christmas. The only gifts I bought were for the Secret Santa's that I seemed to have to take part in and for my mum!

If you're looking for something unique... I'd love to introduce Buyagift:

Buyagift is the UK's leading provider of experience days and gift experiences. If you're looking for a unique birthday gift or an extra special Christmas present, or just a novel way to mark your own special occasion then Buyagift offers an exceptional choice from which to select. By purchasing a gift experience for your friend or loved one you are not just giving them a thoughtful present, but also a wealth of memories to enjoy for years to come. A unique Buyagift experience day really is the gift that keeps on giving. From helicopter flying and cookery lessons to supercar driving and even personalised presents, Buyagift have everything that you could possibly need to make someone's special occasion absolutely unforgettable. With over 4,500 gifts and experiences to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect gift for even the most discerning loved one, whether they're an aspiring gourmet or a high-flying thrill-seeker.

Buyagift have kindly given me a discount code to share with you all for 23% off their 'Pampering' collection of experiences. Use code: KEEP23 (code expires on 25th December 2015 and is valid on pampering category on;y - click here for category). 



AND, as if that wasn't enough, they are also offering ONE lucky reader the chance to win a Champneys Luxury Spa Day with Breakfast, Lunch and Treatment for Two!! Entry is via the rafflecopter widget below and is subject to the Terms & Conditions stated. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So go forth, and pamper yourself!

Elle :)

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14.12.15

Thoughts On Friendship: Why You Lose Friends When They Become Parents

Image Credit: Eulanda Shead, #ThePhoto101

Why You Lose Friends When They Become Parents

I'm a member of a number of blogging networks which all provide different things from opportunities, events to just being a kick a** community. One thing I decided during the year though was that if I were to be a member of a network, I needed to be actively engaged.

One network I joined in my early days of blogging was the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. I qualified in Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness and figured, not being a mother yet, this was one way to engage with a community of mums to find out what was going on from their point of view. When they sent out the information for #Blogest15 I booked the day off work and signed up as a treat to myself. I had no idea what to expect but I felt I needed to be there.... to find out if there was a place for me.

To be honest, the day wasn't what I expected ...but in a positive way. The theme of the conference was really about good writing whereas I assumed it would be about the nuts and bolts of blogging (some parts were covered though).

One of the main things I learnt from the day, came from the first session all about Motherhood and Creativity. They were essentially asking the question, do you lose all creativity when you become a mother?!

One quote from the panel really stuck with me; Meera Syal said there was an old saying that when you give birth, two people are born - the child and you, as a mother. She said that basically, you will never be the same again. And this is where it begins.

In my experience, I'm not as close with some friends now as I was before they had children. I'm not totally sure why this is because I love children and am more than happy to spend time with my friends... along with their children. Maybe some parents assume that their friends without children won't understand?! ...I understand if you cancel an evening out because your child is sick / the babysitter has cancelled / you just want to get an early night. What I didn't get before was that you saw yourself as a different person to the one who became friends with me at school / college / university / at work.

Then, Shappi Khorsandi made a comment in her comedy sketch later on about choosing friends. It's like, when you choose a friend at 5 years old, you kinda stick with that person through thick and thin, all through the years of growing up and still once you both may or may not have had children. But other friends from later life, maybe they aren't as "sticky"??

I was definitely in a minority group at Blogfest even though there were 99% women in attendance! The other 1% were made up of the dads who had to sit through a little bit of dad bashing during the first session. I did meet one other girl in attendance who was not a parent. I suspect, in fact I know, that many people would've looked at me and maybe thought I'm not even old enough to be a parent yet! Ha!

Image Credit: Eulanda Shead, #ThePhoto101

What Friendship Means To Me

This year, I decided that for my birthday, I wanted to stay home, in my pyjamas all day and if anyone so wished, they were welcome to pay me a visit (and I would be hospitable!). The day before, I was in London Town so welcomed anyone who was around to join me for lunch. To me, a birthday is no big deal; if you have a genuine friendship, you shouldn't / wouldn't be just seeing each other on their birthday each year.

I remember when I was in my teens and I thought that friendships actually were forever! Then as I grew older, I lost friends due to changes in priorities from both aspects. In my early twenties, I realised I wanted more than shopping, clubbing and alcohol fuelled holidays. I started to enjoy exercising, eating out and early nights! I've been lucky in the sense that some of my friendships have evolved along with my life and they really are the one's to be valued and nurtured. If you don't hear from your friend for a while, it's not because they don't care; we all know how crazy life gets. And speaking for myself, I know that certain people are always in my thoughts!

I met a lady recently while working (the Dani to my Elle!) and she really reminded me that you just never know how someone is feeling. She gave me some amazing insight into one of my most valuable friendships and really allowed me to come from a place of love and listening when spending time with that friend rather than from a place of 'already knowing' and judgement!

Image Credit: Yonkel Chamberlain, #ThePhoto101

On Making New Friends As An Adult 

Is it me, or is this really, really difficult?! As a kid, you choose your friends based on who is sitting closest to you or who plaits your hair the best. Then we get all grown up and we care about what these people think / say or do a lot more. We want friends who share our passions, who are cheerleaders for us in our lives and who support you on rainy days and not just when the going is good! ...But how do you approach someone as an adult that you think you would like to be friends with?! How do you allow people to get to know the 'real' you before / after they have judged / perceived you in their own way?!

If you've read all the way up to this point, then thank you! Please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments or connect with me on social media! The holidays are the perfect time to slow down and give some thought to life and how it's all working out; these are my thoughts on Friendship.

Happy Holidays! 


Elle :) 

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11.12.15

Behind The Screen: A Day In The Life of Borrow My // Blender


Just over a couple of months ago, I went form having an idea for a small business to actually making steps towards this becoming a reality. I came across a random tweet which spoke about The Prince's Trust (TPT) helping young entrepreneurs starting out in the big bad world of working for themselves. I enquired and realised that I had 3 weeks before I would be "too old" to be eligible for the programme; so I pestered TPT via email, phone and text until I was booked onto the Exploring Enterprise workshop just 2 days before my cut off date!

The workshop went through what it meant to be self employed, the basics of writing a business plan, organising finances and tax returns and opened our eyes to being self employed. Lucky for me, being almost 31 (at the time) and having been part self employed for about the past 5 years I was already a little enlightened.

Since the workshop, I've been assigned a mentor who I meet on a monthly basis to go through my progress and also guide me in the right direction.


So guys, I want you to meet my new venture - Borrow My // Blender (BM//B) - for Education, Entertainment and Elevation. BM//B (will soon) offer the rental of high end kitchen appliances which you wouldn't find in a standard kitchen - Entertainment. BM//B also allows you to Elevate your events by offering a pop up smoothie station at events - you can catch us at our first event on December 20th at lululemon Covent Garden.

I thought I'd use today's post to give you a little 'behind the screen' of a day in the life of me getting started with BM//B. It'll be great to look back down the line and see how things change - and I'd also love to inspire anyone out there who has an idea in their mind which they would like to bring to life and wonders how!

Friday 4th December 2015 

9am - 1230pm; I attended a food and catering workshop at TPT offices in Liverpool Street, London where I got to meet a few industry experts, a group of young entrepreneurs who were all at very different stages of their business, plus a guy - Luke - from PACK'D who launched through TPT and came to share with us how his business idea had come about and where they were heading!


1230pm - 100pm; I popped up the road to the moo.com store in Shoreditch to pick up my business cards which were hot off the press!

130pm; time to hit the office for my (part-time, temporary) 9-5 job!

230pm; popped along to the bank to meet their Business Manager who set me up with my own business account. This is imperative for me to keep my incomings / outgoings for the business separate to my personal money and also to help me keep (better) records for my annual tax returns. My new debit card should be coming through my letterbox in the next week or so!

Evening; I spent a little time catching up on emails, chasing deliveries (where are my smoothie cups?!) and reaching out to my favourite brands for support / collaboration opportunities! I also spent a few minutes on the BM//B Instagram to see what everyone is chatting about, post an image and comment where relevant to spread the name about!


To date, I still have LOTS to work on! The website is an ever evolving project and I need to get going on my Business Plan. I'm also test trading the rentals side of the business to gather feedback whilst working out the logistics of delivery and payment. I'm busy working on recipes too to use at events and planning how best to get everything done on the day as well as ordering supplies! Then I'm posting on the blog around twice a week which is part of the Education side of things!

...I will always be looking for feedback and opportunities to work with brands that align with the BM//B goals so feel free to share with me here or contact, through the BM//B website or via my social media channels!

I'm so excited for this journey and even more excited to share it all with you!! 


Elle :) 

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7.12.15

Behind The Screen: My Blogging Tool Kit & November 2015 Report

After almost 3.5 years of blogging, a lot has changed! I take my blog quite seriously as to me, it's an extension of profession, career and passion. It's my online CV, my online fitness diary and my creative outlet where I'm able to share what, how and when I like! ...who wouldn't want to make the most of such an opportunity?!


Recently, some of the blogs I follow have decided to take a break and many others are considering the same. My advice? Do whatever works for you! Blogging has luckily never been a burden for me; I recently reduced my posting schedule to 3x per week to allow me more time to work on my imagery and quality of content.  So I thought I'd take this opportunity to take you Behind The Screen to see what tools I use to create my content.

MacBook Air
Number one on my list has to be my laptop. I never owned an Apple computer before this, and quite frankly I don't know how I lived without one! The capabilities on this allow me to do so much that I was unable to do on a PC.
- editing videos on iMovie allow me to edit videos to share on Instagram, YouTube and the blog
- I am able to create PDF documents with a couple of clicks making invoicing look more professional
- sharing images between my iPhone, iPad, camera and laptop

image credit: http://www.olympus-europa.com/s/PENgeneration/photo-shoots-pen-stories/my-shoulder-bag-design-story/

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Camera {link}
This one has been the talk of the blogging town over the past few months. I took the plunge in August of 2015 and haven't looked back. By no means am I saying this is the camera for everyone, but right now, it's the one for me. I love the ability to take images in different image aspects including 1:1 ready for Instagram; being able to transfer directly to my phone making high quality in the moment Instagram imagery and the fact that it just looks so damn good! I also invested in a 45mm lens which takes stunning shots especially of stills. I also use it for filming workouts and the Vlog I recorded a couple months back!

I've considered writing a review of the camera, and I may well do; just not right now! But, if you have any questions about it, just leave me a comment here or Tweet / FB ? Instagram me!

Velbron EF-51 Tripod {link} 
After reading a lot of reviews about tripods (I know, not the most riveting subject), I opted for this one and picked it up in-store while I was out shopping. I thought it was really good value for money and it seemed sturdy. It moves in pretty much every direction I need it to when filming; so far, I'm pretty happy with my choice.

When talking about the PEN camera though, a lot of people are quick to point out that when on the tripod you can't use the flip down screen. Yes. That is true. But, honestly people, we're just getting greedy now, huh?! You are able to see yourself through the app on your phone, and maybe its because I'm not a pro youtube-r but I don't really care for watching myself, talk to myself on camera?!

Rolson Tools LED Camping Light
I try to take most of my pictures during daylight but if I do need a little extra brightness I use one of these camping lights which cost me about a fiver. I even used it, once, to go camping at Bestival!

Habitat Cato White Desk {link} 


Starting a new business and taking my writing a little more seriously was the greatest excuse to create a little work space at home. I bought this desk mainly due to the size (just 45cm wide) and that it's white and will look amazing in photos (just like the inspirational workspaces seen on Pinterest!).

All I need to get to make this the perfect workspace is an iMac Desktop (for a bigger screen, faster processing and more storage) and this sheepskin rug from John Lewis.

WISHLIST: flat lay backgrounds & wooden chopping boards 
I plan on popping down to my local DIY store this week to check out what wallpapers etc they have which I can buy cheaply and use for flat lay backgrounds (even I am getting a little bored of my flooring in pictures!). Oh, and one of those wooden chopping boards which look amazing in food photos!

...Now, to quickly cover some of my stats from November before I leave you to your day... 

Statistics; November 2015 

Google Analytics


October vs November

Users 1,866 vs 1,539  (-327) 
Page Views 3,865 vs 3,216  (-649) 

After two consecutive months of decreasing numbers I had hoped for no change or an increase, but at the end of the day, the numbers mean less and less as for me, it's more about engagement and enjoyment personally with what I am writing about... I have focused more on social media in the last month (Instagram specifically) as I've been enjoying working on my photography and I'm happy with the results...

FB page likes - 691 vs 706 (+15) 
IG followers - 1163 vs 1282  (+119) 
Pinterest followers - 563 vs 592 (+29) 
Twitter followers - 2605 vs 2712 (+107) 
BlogLovin' followers - 243 vs 251 (+8) 

Affiliates Programmes & Other Advertising
- 1st November - 31st November 
- £5.80 total 



I've been working hard to build relationships with the brands I am signed up to on Affiliate Window (AW); I reached out to Abel & Cole who told me they "had no budget left" ... but the idea I pitched to them was "...lovely...". Well, no content, no affiliate sales in my eyes; something a little extra beyond the fact that I get an A&C box delivered weekly would be far more interesting! 

I collaborated with OS Maps to create some advent content earlier this month through a a facility on AW where you add an opportunity for brands and then they reach out to you if they are interested. I'm still in conversation with some other brands to create advent content but we're kinda running out of time, eh?! 

If you're interested in joining an affiliate scheme it costs about £5 to join AW but you can make that back really quickly (if you try!).

Collaborative & Sponsored Posts
- £100

A few months ago I made the decision to increase and standardise my fee for such posts. I haven't accepted any sponsored posts in November and posted one collaborative post which involved recipe creation (so therefore my time, expenses were covered). 

Other work and consulting
- £80 

I did some writing for the GROKKER blog this month. The plan is to be a regular contributor to their blog which is what I am looking for; to build and maintain relationships rather than just throw my name around the internet! 

Costs / Outgoings
- iCloud storage upgrade - £0.79
- Business cards - approx £50 (includes BM/B

So... anything I've missed that you'd be interested to know?! 

Do you have blog goals that you are working towards?! Have you blogged about blogging?! Share your posts with me too! 


Elle :) 


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4.12.15

5 Proven Ways To #FuelHappiness

At this time of year, it's easy to get caught up in all the madness of Christmas and forget about those much less fortunate than ourselves. I watched the John Lewis Christmas advert - Man On The Moon ....and cried. Then Aldi brought out their spoof and I really didn't think it was all that funny; I felt John lewis had bothered to remind us of such an important issue and it was swept under the carpet for the sake of a quick joke.

But. What I am all about this Christmas is in line with the lululemon campaign - Fuel Happiness.


They said:

We want you to be happy. Like, can't-believe-this-is-my-effing-life happy! So we did our research and learned that there are small things we can do every day to boost our moods and truly flourish. When we choose to practice these happiness habits, we realize that one small change can ignite a ripple effect that can in turn affect our entire community. Why not start now?

#FuelHappiness


One particular tangible part of this campaign is the #FuelHappiness deck of cards. I posted about them on Instagram and was so surprised at the level of engagement and how interested everyone was in them!


So I thought I'd take the opportunity to share a few more of the cards here. I picked out 5 of my favourites all with tasks of varying lengths depending on how much you want to commit to actually fuelling happiness! Have a try, and let me know what you think!


GRATITUDE || 2 minutes 
Add this one into your morning routine and you should feel better about waking up. 
***
Take two minutes to write down three things you're grateful for in the last 24 hours. Maybe you had great conversation after sex last night (lululemon's words not mine! lol) or you loved the taste of your kale smoothie this morning. It can be something big or small, but try to be as specific as possible. 

PURPOSE || 20 minutes 
When your goals line up with your core values, you pursue them with more passion, purpose and satisfaction. You should probably take 20 minutes for this one. 
***
Think deeply about 20 things you value. 

For example, loyalty, creativity, adventure, autonomy, kindness, integrity, fun, freedom, etc. 

Now, narrow your options to ten values. Once you've doe that, narrow your core values down to five. Now, check and make sure your goals line up with your values. 

PURPOSE || 60 minutes 
Set aside an hour for this because the results are powerful. 
***
Draw three circles big enough to write several bullet points in. Label one PURPOSE for things that bring meaning to your life, another FUN for things you love to do and the other TALENTS for things you are good at. Write 5-10 things in each circle. 

Once you've completed this exercise, draw a three-circle Venn diagram and begin looking for things on your list that overlap. Place words that show up in multiple categories in the cross-over sections of the Venn diagram. The more things overlap, experts say, the closer you are to your sweet spot (a.k.a your purpose or mission). Anything you can put in the centre?


PURPOSE || 7 days 
Channel your her creativity - this quick, seven-day challenge will light up your life. 
***
For the next seven days, photograph something that brings meaning into your life. Is it your partner? Your work? Your tattoo? Share your project on social media or print out a collage and hang it up. Daily reminders of what gives our life meaning helps to bring lasting fulfilment into our lives. 

PURPOSE || Take all the time you need for this one 
Research shows that imagining a great outcome in the future actually helps it come true. Take all the time you need for this one. 
***
Picture your life in 10 years. The constraints of time, money and knowledge have completely vanished. Who is the best possible you? What do you do everyday? What do you care about? Who do you care about? What brings your life meaning? How do you feel? Take some time to write your vision down. 

Different ways to create it: 

  • Describe a perfect day in your life 10 years from now. 
  • Someones writing you a thank you letter, what do they say?
  • Describe just the facts (resume style). 
  • Make a vision board 
***

Currently, I am in need to updating my vision and the related 10 year, 5 year, and 1 year goals that go with it. I absolutely smashed the last two sets of one year goals that I created for myself and I'm at the stage right now where I am ready to create more for my future! 

And in the spirit of goals, and #fuelhappiness, if you're based in London, you can join me and my new business - Borrow My // Blender - at lululemon Covent Garden on Sunday 20th December for complimentary yoga followed by hand crafted smoothies! Take a look at the {event page} and I hope to see you there! 

So which of these tasks are you going to take on?! What are the little things you already do to #fuelhappiness??! 

Elle :) 


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30.11.15

REVIEW: Withings Activitè Pop

For the past couple of months now, I've been wearing this new activity tracker as if it could tell the time and looks like a watch. Which it does. Besides that simple pleasure, it does a few more interesting things beyond. Here's my review; what They Say about the Withings Activitè Pop versus what I Say and how it has actually worked for me!

POP YOUR HEALTH || Featuring the latest tech and a timeless look, Actvitè Pop helps you embrace healthy habits while complementing your style. TRUE STORY.

Activity Tracking || Swim Tracking || Silent Alarm || Sleep Tracking || No Charging || Bluetooth 4.0


They Said.
The watch shows you how active you are in real time and the Health Mate app suggests changes to encourage you to walk more. Ingenious time and activity dials help you decide what your next move should be.
I Say.
The Activité Pop (from hereon known as the AP) does indeed track your steps. Once you set your daily goal via the app on your smartphone, the dial, with 10 sections, updates itself as you go along to keep you informed "in real time" how you are doing. I have my goal set to 10,000 steps per day so it equates to 1,000 steps per segment on the activity dial. The time is set to the time of my phone, which is set to the time of the world! I'm yet to see it suggest changes to encourage me to walk more but I may have actually turned this off!


They Said.
AP doesn't just look good. It features a lightweight design, a PVD-coated watch case and a smooth silicone watch strap for ultimate comfort and durability.
I Say.
It does indeed look good! I've had countless compliments on my "nice watch" and have gone on to surprise people by informing them that its actually an activity tracker! I love the colour, but it has gotten a little dirty over time. I wear it in the shower most of the time and have given it a little wipe now and then, but still. So far, I can say it is comfortable and durable; the watch I wore previously would always snap open when I was teaching but the AP doesn't get in the way at all and has so far lived to tell the tale!


They Said.
Working with the Health Mate app, AP inspires you and your friends to make healthy choices. Challenge your friends! The app features activity badges, a leaderboard, healthy reminders and activity insights that are a proven way to get everybody going.
I Say.
Firstly, I'm completely friendless on the app! I don't know one other person who owns an AP! I do however like the badges when you reach certain levels of activity (not enough to share them on Twitter anymore though!). Again, I think I have turned off the healthy reminders. On days where I have a really low step count (usually a Sunday) I despise the huge sad face that it displays on the timeline but one swipe, and its deleted!


They Said.
Going for a jog? Trying to catch the bus? AP automatically recognises your surge of intensity and logs it as a run. AP automatically recognises swim. Just put it on, dive in and the watch will log your full session and record calories burned.
I Say.
I'll give it marks for running; so far I think it has gotten this right! As for swimming; I've swam once in it as it seems to have had no idea that this wasn't a shower! I spent 45 minutes in the pool and nothing was recorded as an activity. #fail. I'll still be sticking to a GPS when running though as most runners will want more stats when running that just calories burned.


They Said.
AP automatically detects when you are asleep. It keeps track of light and deep sleep phases, the number of times you are up during the night and the total duration of sleep. Set an alarm in the app to start your day with a gentle wake-up vibration.
I Say.
Okay. So I like this feature, a lot. I mostly like it because you don't have to do anything to say "I'm going to sleep" or "I have woken up". But! The caveat is that if I chill out in bed before I go to sleep or after I wake up, it thinks I'm still sleeping and logs me as having like 10 hours sleep!!! The night where I barely slept; looking at that on the screen was enlightening! ...The alarm is great too! I use it on my days off (because I can't be bothered to alter my work alarm on my Lumie Bodyclock). I think it wakes you up during a light sleep phase within a specific amount of time before your alarm (i.e 30 minutes). The watch vibrates 10 or 12 times gently on your wrist so doesn't startle you and makes no sound; perfect if you don't want to wake the rest of you household.


They Said.
AP automatically syncs to your smartphone to always display the correct time. Jet-lagged after a long flight? No need to piece together the correct time zone. Once you have landed, AP automatically displays the local time.
I Say.
This it does indeed. Which is useful. No fussing trying to change the time for a week and then having to change it back. Unfortunately for me, I've not travelled much recently so my AP hasn't had its chance to shine in this department!


They Said.
You don't want another cable or dock in your life. AP works on a standard button cell providing 8+ months of battery life.
I Say.
OMG this has to be one of the biggest pro's of an AP! Do you know how many times my fitbit needs charging and I forget?! Then it's useless for the next day as it spends half of it on charge!

The Rest Of What I Have To Say.
Here are another few things I have noticed. My step count on my AP is NEVER as high as on my fitbit. It takes a lot more to hit goal on the AP and I think that's because it's more accurate and doesn't count me brushing my teeth. This may also be down to the fact that I wear it on my non dominant hand.

I hooked my AP up to MyFitnessPal (in the hope of earning some extra calories) and immediately disconnected it after it reduced my calorie goal for the day to my basal calories and then gave me just 30 extra calories on a day I completed my 10,000 steps. I ended up being around 300kcal above what they said I should have eaten! So now I'm back to my 1500kcal per day (a little more if I exercise) and keeping my AP information to itself!

What fitness / activity tracker are you currently using?! or coveting?! 


Elle :) 

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