22
Jun
2016

My Current Favourite Beauty Products

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I haven’t that many beauty posts recently and although my blog used to be predominantly about that, it’s much more varied now.  I have had a few people telling me that they would prefer me to post more about beauty and less about fitness and food, but my blog is a reflection of my lifestyle.  My lifestyle has changed and grown and I will always stay true to who I am in the present.  I am passionate about fitness and nutrition so there will be a lot of posts on that subject, but I also want to share all of the awesome products I use which really work for me. So today’s post is a run down of a few products which have impressed me in the last month or so.

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Xen Tan Transformation Ultra* – Now this first one is a bit controversial because although it’s a fantastic product, it’s extortionately expensive in my opinion (£49.99 for 236ml).  But I really liked it and thought I’d leave it up to you guys to decided whether you love a good fake tan enough to spend that amount. The up side of this product is that the tan lasted a good 2 weeks on me whilst most self tanners only last about 5-7 days.  So I guess that’s reflected in the price given it’s longevity. It gives a really nice medium-dark tan but still appears natural. It faded really well – evenly with no patchiness or streaks on application. It’s so easy to apply with a mitt and because it only has a very slight guide colour, it won’t ruin your bed sheets if you decide to sleep with it on.

Windle & Moodie Thickening Cream – I was first introduced to this product after it was used on my hair at Linton & Mac salon in Aberdeen. I’m not usually one for styling creams as more often than not, they weigh down your hair and give it a greasy look.  I have fine hair and prefer products to be ultra lightweight.  However this thickening cream is absolutely fantastic and gives great hold.  It feels a bit gloopy and sticky as you apply it but it disappears once you’ve blowdried your hair, leaving it lightweight, manageable and soft to the touch. It gives really good volume too so it’s a massive winner in my b look and I now use it every day.

The Sanctuary Wonder Body – It’s that time of year when you’re going to be putting more skin on show and preferably you want it to look healthy, soft and radiant. That’s where this product comes in. It gives your skin that healthy gleam but in a really subtle way without being glittery or overly shimmery.  It just makes your skin look really nourished and healthy. It also won’t rub off on your clothes leaving weird stains because it’s only slightly tinted. Often if I’m wearing a skirt I slap a bit of this on and I’m good to go!

Rodial Instaglam Airbrush Primer* – I’m very fussy about primers because I hate it when they interfere with the application of my foundation. Sometimes they can cause your foundation to not adhere properly or they rub off as you’re applying it. Very annoying indeed! However this primer doesn’t feel overly ‘silicon-y’ and it just seems to blur out everything, perfecting the skin’s surface. My foundations go on like a dream when I apply this first and I never need as much concealer. It’s lightweight, hydrating and it just really helps to make your skin appear flawless.

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Urban Decay Revolution Lipgloss in Liar* – I’m much more of a lipstick kinda girl than lipgloss as all too often the formulation is sticky and seems to collect on certain areas of your lips.  But this lipgloss is simply divine! It has a wide variety of shade options with a nude to suit every complexion and this Liar shade is perfection on me. It’s a gorgeous everyday colour that keeps my lips hydrated and looking plumper.  I love the packaging too – it seems the brand keeps on getting better year on year.

Nip + Fab Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Shot* – When I feel like my skin needs a hydration boost and a bit more nourishment, I reach for this little bottle.  I apply it after my cleanser and before my moisturiser to keep any dryness at bay.  I feel like this extra step keeps my skin looking and feeling a lot healthier and smoother.  It has a plumping effect too and I love that the brand is placed at a more affordable price point.

MaxFactor Skin Luminizer Foundation – I’ve spoken about this foundation before because for me, it beats any of the higher end natural skin-mimicking foundations that are out there including YSL and Charlotte Tilbury offering. This affordable little gem gives a really natural, subtle finish and adds a gorgeous glow to your complexion. It has medium coverage and evens out skin tone beautifully without making your makeup look heavy.  It lasts really well and is particularly great for normal and dry skin. I’d say if you’re skin is on the more oily side, you’d have to keep on top of the powder application as it is a glowy type of base. I’ve gone through 6 bottles of the stuff now and a few of my friends now use it daily…it’s that good! (I use the Natural shade in winter and mix in the Golden shade for summer).

Orly Epix nail polish in ElectroPop* – I had been looking for a nail colour like this since forever so I was really excited to try this. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those nail polishes that is super easy to apply, quick to dry and lasts really well. Pretty much the dream, right? The colour is just as impressive as the bottles suggests and it’s perfect for the summer months!

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Too Faced Love Flush Blush in How Deep Is Your Love* – I am a big fan of Too Faced as a brand as I use their highlighters, eyeshadow palettes and lip products A LOT. This absolutely beautiful blush looks just as good on your face as it does in the packaging. The colour screams summer and adds that lovely peachy glow to your cheeks. It’s not shimmery or glittery and looks really natural. I’d say this shade is best for medium skin tones but there’s some other pretty shades in the range. You can definitely judge this book by it’s cover!

MaxFactor Colour Elixir Lipliner in Brown Nude – I had been looking for a cheaper alternative to the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lipliner and this one is a pretty good dupe! It’s creamy, easy to apply and it lasts really well for a cheaper product.  The brown nude shade is fantastic for slightly overlooking the lips without looking obvious or weird. It’s the perfect base for any nude lipstick.

Mac Lipstick in Brave – If you’re looking for that slightly darker 90’s nude lip then this is a fantastic shade to go for without going too brown in tone. I find that the really brown shades just drain my complexion and make me look ill. This satin finish lipstick lasts really well and isn’t too harsh in tone for the daytime.

*PR products

 

9
Jun
2016

Review of Sweet Deceits Baking Kits

I love baking some sometimes with all the food prep I have to do for my lunches for the week, I find it difficult to find the time to bake as well.  The thoughts of getting all the ingredients out, measuring them and getting out various apparatus and bowls, not to mention all the washing up afterwards isn’t a very appealing thought.  So when I discovered Sweet Deceits, a company who make healthy dessert kits, I couldn’t wait to see if their “deceivingly good for you” tagline was deserved.

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I picked up the Chocolate Fudge Brownies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Raw Caramel Slice kits to try from this online store for £7.99 each.  I do think this is pretty pricey for a dessert kit but it’s not something I’d be buying every week…more something I’d make to mix up my usual snack routine.  There’s always a premium attached to health foods anyway and because this is a convenience product, it’s to be expected. Either you spend the money or the time I guess.

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All of the kits are gluten free, dairy free, contain no refined sugar, have good fibre content and 100% natural ingredients. I found the kits incredibly easy to use – it’s literally the most simple task to make them and takes no time at all.  They even provide the trays to make the dessert in so there’s minimal mess or washing up. You can melt a lot of the ingredients in the microwave so there no need to mess around with pots and pans.

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The brownies in my opinion are the best of three kits I tried.  They are very rich, chocolatey, fudgey and just plain delicious. They taste very sweet so you really only need a small piece. They would be incredible with some salted caramel almond milk ‘ice cream’ or with some crunchy peanut butter drizzled on them! They really don’t taste like a ‘healthy snack’ and you feel like you’re treating yourself. You get a minimum of 8 slices from the kit but I ended up getting 12 out of mine as I cut them smaller. They aren’t something I’d eat every day but they’re great for when you get that craving for something sweet.

Per 35g serving: Energy 616kJ, 147.4kcal, Fat 7.4g, of which saturates 7.1g, Carbohydrate 17.0g, of which sugars 14.4g, Fibre 1.5g, Protein 2.3g, Salt 0.1g

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I found that the Peanut Butter Cookies were too sweet for my liking – I think the natural sweetener was just too overpowering for my taste. It’s all down to preference though and other people may think differently.  The raw Caramel slices were nice but I did find that the date ‘caramel’ filling was really dense and I would have preferred a more squidgy texture for that particular dessert. It tasted good but just didn’t have the texture I would have liked.

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So if you fancied trying one of these kits, I’d definitely recommend the Chocolate Fudge Brownie one! They also do Jumbo Oat Flapjacks which I would love to try as I think they could be a winner.

3
Jun
2016

Skincare: Where To Spend And Where To Save

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If I’ve learnt one thing over the years of being a beauty blogger and trying out products from the full spectrum of cheap to expensive, it’s that dishing out more money doesn’t always equal a better result. I think we can all get caught up in the sparkly advertising that promises us the world and more. It’s also very possible to overload our skin with things it really doesn’t need and can lead to irritation and allergic reactions. We are sold this idea that the more money we spend and the more products we have, the better our skin will be.  We live in a society of excess after all so it makes sense that this filters through into our beauty regimes.  But maybe it’s time we all stopped to ask ourselves whether we really need all of these state of the art lotions and potions. Maybe the key to better skin is more about our lifestyle – what we eat, our exposure to the sun, how much water we drink, whether we smoke and how much exercise we get.

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Cleanser

I have used so many ‘cult’ cleansers and generally speaking, they are often a let down.  I think sometimes we convince ourselves that these products are amazing to justify the price tag we pay for them and because some magazine decided to give it a beauty award.  However, the only highly recommended cleanser that really lived up to my expectations was the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (£14).  But…I actually prefer the Soap & Glory The Ultimelt which is £4 cheaper and is often on offer at Boots. In my opinion it performs just as well as the Liz Earle product and is actually more effective at keeping my skin blemish-free.

Exfoliator

I would say that if you’re looking for a granular scrub exfoliator then you could go cheaper as there isn’t much difference over the price spectrum.  But bear in mind that granular exfoliators can be quite harsh on your skin and you’re probably better using a hot cloth cleanser with a damp muslin cloth to achieve a more gentle exfoliation.  When it comes to more chemical based/acid exfoliators I would tend to spend a little more cash as I’ve had great results from products like Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel or the Ren Glycolactic Radiance range. These can make quite a bit of difference to the clarity of your skin as well as it’s glow factor! As for body exfoliators, I really rate The Sanctuary Body Scrub which is just over £5 or the L’Oreal Exfotonic which is great for use to prep your skin for fake tan.

Toner

Toner is a product which is really better suited for people with enlarged pores and excessive oil production. Also, if you have Rosacea-prone skin, a gentle toner can help to calm this. I have used very expensive toners and haven’t found they make much difference at all because ultimately, they are really just an extra step to remove any left over cleansing product from your skin. Therefore, I would always buy a cheaper, mild toner from somewhere like Boots.

Serums

The only serum I’ve used that has tackled every single skin woe I’ve had all in a oner is the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair.  I usually baulk at the price when I have to buy a new bottle and I generally try to pick it up in duty free if I can OR on the rare occasion I’ve built up enough Boots Advantage points to treat myself! Yes it is very expensive but it also works like a dream.  It seems to hydrate, repair and clear my skin like nothing else. When I run out, I really notice the difference. On the plus side, a 75ml bottle lasts me for about a year so it does last the distance. The only other serum that impressed me was the Ren Glycolactic Radiance serum.

Eye Cream

You should definitely start using eye cream in your 20’s to make sure that area is constantly hydrated. The more dehydrated that area becomes, the more lines you’ll start to notice as you age. Look for formulations to  with ingredients like aloe vera or cucumber help de-puff your eye area, cocoa butter to keep the area hydrated, and green tea to help constrict your blood vessels to lessen the appearance of dark circles. Also remember to ONLY apply the eye cream to the orbital bone area under the eye, NOT directly below the eye or on the eyelid.  This can cause the eye cream to build up under the delicate skin and make the area more puffy! I have dark circles and this is hereditary so nothing I apply will ever make this disappear completely.  I find that when I get a good nights sleep and stay really hydrated, this makes much more difference than an eye cream. So I’d advise addressing more lifestyle factors and save on this product.

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Moisturiser

I am going to be completely honest and say that I switch up my moisturisers all the time but when I use the Estee Lauder serum, I don’t need to use an expensive night cream because the serum does all the work. I tend to use a really simple night cream because anything heavy just clogs my skin up. I’ll often just use a simple Vitamin E cream from somewhere like Superdrug.  However, for my day cream I really prefer to use something like Origins Ginzing or my ultimate splurge item is Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream as it’s simply divine.  So for my skin, I save on my night creams and splurge a bit more on day creams that protect my skin whilst I’m out and about. I have sensitive skin which can be dry in the winter months but I think if you don’t have a specific skin issue then you can go basic with your moisturiser.

Facial Oils

I don’t use a facial oil every single night because I find they can begin to clog my skin with daily use. However I do like to use it once or twice a week as an overnight treatment and I use them more in the colder months when my skin is drier. There are a lot of fancy facial oils out there that are very expensive but there are cheaper alternatives that you can add to your nightly moisturiser such as rosehip oil. If you apply a facial oil before your night time moisturiser, it actually allows the ingredients of the moisturiser to soak into the skin more effectively. The oil molecules are like tiny Trojan horses, duping the skin into letting active ingredients—like retinol, glycolic acid, and vitamin C—penetrate deeper into the skin. My favourite facial oils are Origins Skin Refining Oil and Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate.

Face Masks

I only use a face mask once a week to give my skin a boost so I can afford to splash out a little more on them. I’ve used cheaper face masks and not been hugely impressed by them.  My favourites are all on the more expensive side including IndeedLabs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask which is usually on offer in Boots, Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask and Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask. All of these have a noticeable effect on my skin.

Bodycare

There are so many products which promise to eradicate your cellulite and tone your skin. Every woman has a bit of cellulite as we naturally have a higher body fat percentage compared with men. It’s a hard pill to swallow but there are currently no products on the market that alone can make those places firmer and less cellulitic. Watching your carbohydrate intake and working out regularly is still the only natural way to get a firmer body. Many of these ‘firming’ creams actually only work on a very temporary way and so they give the illusion of firming the skin for a short period. My favourite body lotion is Aveeno Creamy Oil Moisturiser because it’s awesome and keeps your skin baby soft.

Suncare

When it comes to SPF, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. Everyone should be wearing SPF on a daily basis all year round to protect from sun damage. If you are prone to break outs then look for one that’s non-comedogenic and make sure to wash it off thoroughly at night. SPFs over 30 are a bit superfluous. All sunscreens have to be reapplied after swimming or sweating so an SPF15-30 is usually fine. Many moisturisers and foundations now come with an SPF anyway so you can combine the two and save money!

So in conclusion, I have sensitive skin that suffers from dry patches and I also have mild psoriasis.  This spend/save strategy might not be the same for every skin type but this is what works for me and having tried so many skincare products over the years, I have been able to decipher which ones I need to spend extra cash on.  I hope this has helped anyone who wants to spend more wisely on skincare!

25
May
2016

Las Iguanas: Celebrating 25 Years

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To celebrate 25 years of bringing fresh Latin food to the UK, Las Iguanas in Union Square Shopping Centre, Aberdeen invited me to try a selection of brand new Latin American dishes. I’ve been to the restaurant a few times before and have always enjoyed the food – especially that tapas starter they do! I could eat that all day, every day! I’m not usually a fan of chain restaurants as they often come across as being quite soul-less and lack atmosphere.  However Las Iguanas is an exception to the rule in my opinion.
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I’ve always liked the colourful, fun vibe of the restaurant and I’ve always found it to have a good atmosphere with friendly staff.I did stop going for a while last year because I didn’t agree with their tipping policy which was widely publicised in the national media but now that they have changed their pay structure to a more fair system for the staff, I am happy to return as a customer.  I could never knowingly eat somewhere knowing that the staff aren’t getting a fair deal for being on their feet all day and night. I know this was widely discussed on Twitter at the time so I just wanted to point out that it’s been rectified.
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The award winning new menu has been designed with fresh & vibrant new starters, mains, desserts & cocktails. The tapas menu has been extended to include ‘Dadinhos’ (pictured below)- which is a popular Brazilian bar snack of crispy smoked cheese cubes served with a sticky chilli jam.
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I had this for my starter and absolutely loved it! The cubes taste like they have a mixture of potato, cheese and spices and coupled with the west chilli jam, it’s just heavenly! I could have eaten double the amount because they were so tasty! Hubby had the sticky Havana Club & Jerk BBQ Glazed Pork Ribs and despite not even being a fan of ribs normally, he said they were delicious! I think the key is always getting the right ratio of meat and fat because fatty ribs are never a good idea. I’m not a fan of raw fish in any form but there is an option of Ceviche (pictured below) – a classic Peruvian fish dish that is super healthy & great for fans of seafood.
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I started off my meal with the Miami Vice cocktail (pictured below) which is a combination of a Pina Colada and a daiquiri.  I highly recommend this cocktail because it was seriously lush! There are a couple of new cocktails on the new menu to try – the Passionfruit Batida or the King Colada but the regular classics like the brazilian Ultimate Caipirinha are still there to be enjoyed. Watch your intake of these delicious cocktails though if you’re planning on the cinema after the meal…I was a tad tipsy before going in to see the new X-Men movie in the cinema! Getting up and down those cinema stairs in the dark is no joke when you’ve been sipping on the cocktails! ha ha.
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You can take advantage of the current all day deal where selected cocktails are priced at just £3.90 each and the Brahma bottled Brazilian beer at £2.50.
It was tough deciding what to have for my main because there were so many tempting options.  I love a good chilli con carne and their new version (pictured below is served with a choice of spiced butters to stir into your dish. If you fancy a lighter option there’s Seabass presented in a light lime & achiote marinate on a bed of roast potato mash & chargrilled asparagus.

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I ended up going with the Picanha (pictured below) which is rump cap sliced steak. I had mine with sweet potato fries and chipotle dip. The steak was so tender and juicy and had a lovely chargrilled flavour which I love. I was slightly disappointed with the sweet potato fries as they weren’t as nice as usual (a bit overcooked and overly crunchy for my liking) however hubby’s curly fries were so moreish!

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You can order the Havana Club and jerk BBQ glazed pork ribs as a main (pictured below) if you’re a big rib fan or there’s a great selection of mexican classics like fajitas, enchiladas or you can go for a tasty Brazilian dish like XinXim which is chicken and crayfish in a lime and peanut sauce with spring onion rice and plantain.

unnamed-2I was pretty full after the start and main but I always reserve that special little bit of room in my stomach for dessert.  I feel a little put out if I can’t have dessert with a meal because lets face it…it’s usually the best part!

A new addition to the menu is a vegan friendly, boozy Mojito Jelly but since I’d had enough cocktails at this point, I decided to go with a tried and tested favourite – the Dulce De Leche Macadamia Cheesecake (pictured below). This creamy, indulgent cheesecake never fails to please me and the crunchy macadamia’s on top with the caramel sauce is just divine. I ended up not being able to finish the whole thing as it appears my eyes are bigger than my stomach!

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I always enjoy my experience at Las Iguanas and find it’s really convenient to pop into if you’re heading to the cinema afterwards. It’s also a great place to grab cocktails and tapas with your friends.  The staff are always super friendly and I like the relaxed vibe and latin-inspired music. If you try anything, make it that smokey cheese cube starter and cheesecake dessert!
To book a meal at Las Iguanas or check out their full food and drink menus click here,
*I received this complimentary meal at Las Iguanas in return for a review and as always I give my honest opinion on anything I feature.
18
May
2016

Edinburgh Girl Gains Event

What an amazing weekend I had in Edinburgh hanging out with my good friend Karlie and attending the Girl Gains event at Greenshoots.  The event was entitled The Self Love Club and it was an afternoon dedicated to learning about self love, motivation, balance, empowerment, body confidence and so many other important issues that face all of us in our daily lives.  This event was about taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and looking to others for support.  It’s a movement that encourages women to help empower each other with a support network of like-minded, positive people. This was an incredibly positive and powerful event and I came away with so much to think about.

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Girl Gains was founded by Zanna, Tally and Vic who are all personal trainers and friends who decided to start a movement to empower women. Their goal is to make “a positive change in world clouded with negativity”. In their words #girlgains is “a movement which aims to unite women and inspire them to become fitter, healthier and happier“. I am totally on board with this message and was really grateful to be a part of one of their events and meet so many like-minded women on their own personal journey to self acceptance and love. They do all types of different events from meet ups, talks, food events, fitness events etc so if you spot one happening near you, grab a ticket because you won’t be disappointed!

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There were talks from Clean Eating Alice and Abby from Curvy Living about their own journeys growing up and facing different struggles with their body image.  They both gave their top tips to developing your self love and leading a balanced, healthy lifestyle both inside and out. It was really great to hear that everyone goes through these difficult times and you don’t have to feel alone in feeling that way. Both of these women are just as lovely as they seem to be on their social media and it was a real pleasure to meet them, as well as Girl Gains ambassador, Nadia Isobel who organised the whole event like a total pro! Please check out all of their websites and social media as they are all total gems!

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I think everyone who attended this event came away feeling revitalised and recharged.  The positivity in the room was so powerful and everyone was on a high afterwards.  We enjoyed some really tasty food from Greenshoots afterwards and had a chance to chat amongst ourselves. I feel like I made some really great connections with lovely women.  I really think it’s so important to get involved with events such as this because I think we’re all guilty of being too hard on ourselves, especially when we feel we’re not eating as well as we good or working out as much as we would like.  The whole message this event promotes is to be more gentle with yourself, teaching you that you’re enough as you are.  You don’t need to lose that extra half a stone to be good enough.  It’s all about learning to live with balance and not compare yourself to other people or focusing on how you think you SHOULD look.

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So many of us battle with ourselves and spend a lot of time being unhappy with how we look but the sooner we realise that self acceptance is key, the sooner we can live a happier live, experience more positive things and get on the path to a healthy body image and mindset.

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My experience of the fitness community on instagram has always been so positive and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to meet even more inspirational women with amazing stories to tell. I think we can all learn from each other and I love the fact that there’s a real emphasis on women supporting each other and lifting each other up rather than being critical or competitive. We are all so unique and it’s important we remember that we all have something different to bring to the table.

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I haven’t vlogged in about a year and a half but I’ve decided to try and get back into it when I feel like I have things I want to share with you all.  It might only be one video a week and I’m not the biggest fan of the editing and uploading process as it’s super slow but I’ll try my best! I just wanted to share some snippets of the weekend – most of it is just myself and Karlie being silly but I hope you enjoy it and remember to subscribe, like and comment if you get a chance!