MY SUMMER READING LIST

Some of you will know by now that I’m the ultimate hoarder when it comes to books. As a kid, I always had my nose stuck in a book and things are still exactly the same now that I’m an adult! Aslan and I have been planning a few trips for this Summer, and over the past few weeks I’ve been buying books like crazy in a haste to make sure that I have enough reading material for the next few months! I read throughout the whole year, but during the Summer I get through a ridiculous amount of books every week. To me, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as heading out to the garden or strolling down to the park with a good book. Not only that, but with many a long haul flight ahead of us the only way I’m going to make it through the next few weeks is with a collection of novels in my hand luggage. So many of you guys are always asking me what I’m reading and what books are on my wish list, so I thought I’d put together a little blog post to tell you about some of the books that I’m looking forward to reading in the Summer sun!

‘How To Stop Time’ by Matt Haig

First up on my reading list is ‘How To Stop Time’ by Matt Haig. I cannot tell you how excited I am to read this book! In this story, Tom Hazard ‘may look like a normal 41 year old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries’; he’s actually 439 years old! Sounds amazing right!? This book is all about Tom’s adventures, but also describes how despite all that he’s seen and all that he’s done, all he craves is an ordinary life. There is an organisation that protects its people by constantly moving them to new areas and providing them with secret identities, the only thing that they ask in return is that Tom never falls in love. Now I can’t be the only one who’s already trying to guess how this story is going to unfold…surely Tom’s going to fall in love and end up living the rest of his life as an ordinary man just like he’s always wanted?! Who knows! All I know is that I’m super excited to get started on this book and I bet I’m going to get completely sucked into the storyline.

‘Stay With Me’ by Ayobami Adebayo

‘Stay With Me’ by Ayobami Adebayo sounds like its going to be a real tear jerker. The book tells a story about a woman called Yejide who is desperately hoping for a child with her husband. Sadly, Yejide and her husband find themselves unable to conceive and so his family insists that he finds himself a new wife who will bear his child. The story sounds absolutely devestating and completely heart wrenching so I know I’m going to be shedding a tear or two along the way. I’ve heard that the novel covers love, sacrifice, grief and forgiveness, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Yejide to find happiness in the end.

‘Exit West’ by Moshin Hamid

From what I’ve heard ‘Exit West’ by Moshin Hamid is an intensely sad but surprisingly uplifting tale of two lovers. Nadia and Saeed meet and fall in love in a city that has been overcome by civil war. They wish for nothing more than to escape their city together, but they find themselves feeling hesitant to leave the place that they have called home for so many years. What makes this story so interesting is that the entirety of their lives has been ‘normal’, they used smartphones, engaged in social media and even met at an evening class about identity and branding. However as their homeland becomes more and more violent and people are starting to be killed, they find themselves having to seek refuge. I think that this book seems especially relevant in today’s world so I’m sure it’s going to be exceptionally interesting.

‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami

‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami is a collection of seven short stories; all of which follow the theme of ‘men without women’. The men’s stories are all different, but one thing that ties them all together is their feeling of loneliness. Each story touches upon each man’s need for a woman in their life and I think it sounds so interesting! I’ve recently gotten into reading short stories and I think that I’ll probably devour this book in no time at all. I’m intrigued by this one!

‘The Past’ by Tessa Hadley

I’m SO excited to read ‘The Past’ by Tessa Hadley. In this book, four adult siblings meet to spend three hot summer weeks in their Grandparents cottage in the country. Each of the siblings brings along their wives, children or partners, and the story uncovers their tense relationships with each other. Bound together for 21 days, the siblings discover and rediscover each other’s traits and come to realise that their sibling bond has changed since they were children themselves. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book but I love reading about groups like this and learning more about their relationships with each other. The blurb on the back of the book ends with the sentence ‘Over the course of the holiday, a familiar way of life falls apart forever’ so I’m sure ‘The Past’ will be a good summer read.

‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ by Madeleine Thien

Described as a ‘powerful and fascinating’ novel, ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ by Madeleine Thien is a book that I’ve been dying to read for a while. I’m constantly trying to read books that will tell me something about the world we live in, so I feel like this is going to be really interesting and teach me about an issue that I should definitely be more aware of. Back in 1991 in Vancouver, Canada, 10 year old Marie and her mother invite Ai-Ming into their home. Ai-Ming is a young woman who fled China during the Tiananmen Square protests and as her relationship with Marie grows stronger she begins to tell her about her family and their lives in China. In all honesty I don’t know enough about the cultural revolution in China and I feel like it’s an issue that I should definitely learn more about. The reviews say that the book really speaks for the Chinese people and tells us about all that they have endured under a communist regime. It definitely seems like it’s going to be a heavy read but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

‘The Lonely City’ by Olivia Laing

As soon as I read the blurb for ‘The Lonely City’ by Olivia Laing I knew I had to get my hands on this book. What initially drew me to this book was the fact that the main character, Olivia, moved to New York for love (something that I also did when I was 19 years old!). Unfortunately, Olivia’s relationship ends suddenly and she finds herself alone in a city that feels completely alien to her. The story is all about Olivia’s struggle with loneliness, and how that lonely feeling grew so immobilising that it eventually takes control of her entire life. I find this story so intriguing and I just know I’m going to be rooting for Olivia to overcome her loneliness and find her happy place. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a page turner.

‘Aliens: Is There Anyone Out There?’ by Jim Al-Khalili

Last but not least the book that I’m most excited to read over the summer is ‘Aliens: Is There Anyone Out There?’ by Jim Al-Khalili. The minute I saw this book on Amazon I didn’t hesitate to add it to my basket and check out right away! I’m literally obsessed with anything to do with aliens and space so of course this book had to make its way into my collection. The book answers the questions that all of us alien enthusiasts are dying to know; What do aliens look like? Where would they live? Would they be conscious beings? What would happen if they came to Earth? I’m actually SO excited to finally sit down and discover more about a subject that absolutely fascinates me. Not only that, but just when I thought I couldn’t love this book any more I opened up my amazon box to find that the side of the pages are actually GREEN. Mind blown. Defo get this if you’re as alien obsessed as I am.

Let me know if you guys like the sound of any of the books that I’ve mentioned! I think out of all of them I’m most excited to read ‘Aliens’ by Jim Al-Khalili and ‘How To Stop Time’ by Matt Haig. Also if you have any recommendations of books that you think I might like then please leave a comment down below and tell me what you think I should read! I’m always looking for new books to add to my collection.

SHOP MY READING LIST (PLUS A COUPLE MORE THAT I'M EXCITED TO READ!)

  • MATT HAIG 'HOW TO STOP TIME'

  • AYOBAMI ADEBAYO 'STAY WITH ME'

  • MOSHIN HAMID 'EXIT WEST'

  • HARUKA MURAKAMI 'MEN WITHOUT WOMEN'

  • TESSA HADLEY 'THE PAST'

  • MADELINE THIEN 'DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING'

  • OLIVIA LAING 'LONELY CITY'

  • JIM AL-KHALILI 'ALIENS'

  • DURGA CHEW-BOSE 'TOO MUCH AND NOT THE MOOD'

  • ELIF BAUTMAN 'THE IDIOT'

BOOKS: HEALTHY EATING

I’ll be the first to admit that the art of cooking is not yet a skill that I’ve acquired. Despite the fact that it’s a running joke with my family and friends that I’m useless at cooking, the shelves in our home still seem to be overflowing with recipe books (Aslan is the chef)!

Over the past few months I’ve been making a conscious effort to introduce healthy changes into my lifestyle in an effort to improve my fitness levels and get on track to being the best version of me that I can be. I’ll be honest, eating healthy is something that’s never been easy for me. I mean, does anyone really get any sense of enjoyment from chowing down on a pile of leaves? (I know I don’t!) Although I’m not the type of person who’s going to eat kale 7 days a week, I am aware that eating the right things has a positive impact on the way that we feel, and that’s something I can really get behind. I’m not saying I’m going to give up the chocolate digestives that accompany my nightly cup of tea, or banish the Saturday night pizza in front of the TV, but making small changes to the way I fuel my body throughout the day is something that I’ve been embracing. That’s why for this blog post, I thought I’d share with you a handful of the books that have been making this change in lifestyle slightly less of a chore and more of something that I can really enjoy.

‘The Art of Eating Well’ – Hemsley & Hemsley

This book is my saviour. The Hemsley sisters know a thing or two about food that not only does good, but tastes good too. With a philosophy that a healthy gut leads to a healthier and happier mind, body and soul, this was a book that just had to become a part of my cookbook collection. Split into chapters according to mealtimes, ‘The Art of Eating Well’ makes introducing wholesome ingredients into your day to day an easy task. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Hemsley sisters and they are absolutely lovely! Definitely check out their café inside Selfridges. 

Joy McCarthy ‘Joyous Health: Eat & Live Well Without Dieting’

Any book that promises to make you ‘feel fabulous every day’ is a winner in my eyes. Packed with recipes for healthy burgers, pancakes, curries and brownies, this book was bound to be an addition to my book collection. The food is tasty, comforting and wholesome, and while the burgers might not be as good as the ones down the road at Byron, they *almost* hit the spot when you’re craving something a bit naughty. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Amelia Freer ‘Cook, Nourish, Glow’

The thing I love about this book is that its recipes are full of ingredients that we usually have lying around in our kitchen cupboards. There’s nothing that frustrates me more than opening up a recipe book to find that I don’t own any of the components needed to whip up one of its recipes. ‘Cook, Nourish, Glow’ is full of simple recipes that don’t require a lot of faffing about to whip up. This one’s a keeper.

Niomi Smart ‘Eat Smart’

Although I can’t seem to get my culinary creations to look quite as beautiful as the photos in Niomi’s ‘Eat Smart’ cookbook, the final products still taste pretty damn special. If you’re a snacker like me, you need to get this book simply for the ‘Sides & Snacks’ section. When 4pm rolls around and I need a little something to help me make it through the remaining hours until dinner, the first thing I reach for is Niomi’s houmous recipe; just throw a tin of chickpeas together with a couple of garlic cloves, one beetroot, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon before blending it all together in a food processor, and hey presto, a simple recipe for someone like me who isn’t the most advanced of chefs. I like to chop a carrot into sticks along with a couple of my favourite savoury crackers and use these to scoop up some of that delicious garlicy goodness, yuuuuuum! Who knew ‘chips and dip’ could be so healthy? Niomi, I love your book!

Michael Gregger ‘How Not to Die’

This book fascinates me! ‘How Not to Die’ tells us about how nutrition can prevent disease and transform our genes so that we can live a longer and healthier life. Sounds good, right? Although abiding by this book completely is not something I think I could do, taking bits and pieces of advice and following that in my daily diet gives me faith in knowing that I’m taking the right steps towards looking after my body. The nutritional advice is scientifically proven, so you know that you can trust everything you read within this book. However as diets go, I wouldn’t say that this one feels particularly attainable and anyway, where’s the harm in a donut every once in a while? Everything in moderation as they say…

David Frenkiel & Luise Vindhal ‘The Green Kitchen’

I’ve never been a huge lover of veggies and I find myself on a constant mission to learn to love anything leafy and green. ‘The Green Kitchen’ by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindhal is made up of entirely vegetarian recipes, so whenever I pick up this book I’ve got no choice but to indulge in something packed full of that veggie goodness. If you already own this book you’ll know that the photography is enough to tempt even the most picky of eaters to introduce more greenery into their diet, it truly is a feast for the eyes. Lettuce, I will learn to love you.

Madeline Shaw ‘A Year of Beautiful Eating’

Madeline Shaw’s ‘A Year of Beautiful Eating’ is an undeniably gorgeous book. What I love about this book is that the recipes are tailored for the seasons, which means that its never too hard to get your hands on the ingredients that you need no matter what the time of year. There are around 100 recipes in this book and there’s such a great variation of tastes and flavours within the dishes. Aslan and I have only tried a couple of the recipes so far but we’re definitely excited to try more! We’re unashamedly addicted to ramen so we’re excited to try Madeline’s chicken ramen recipe. Yum!

  • DAVID FRENKIEL & LUIS VINDHAL 'THE GREEN KITCHEN'

  • AMELIA FREER 'COOK, NOURISH, GLOW'

  • JOY MCCARTHY 'JOYOUS HEALTH: EAT & LIVE WELL WITHOUT DIETING'

  • NIOMI SMART 'EAT SMART'

  • HEMSLEY & HEMSLEY 'THE ART OF EATING WELL'

FATHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE

Father’s Day is right around the corner and since most Dad’s are notoriously hard to buy for I thought it would be helpful if I put together a Father’s Day gift guide to give you guys a big of gift-spiration. I’ve tried to come up with a good variety of gift ideas, so no matter whether your Dad is a total foodie, a style KING or a fitness freak, I’ve got you covered. I’ve also made sure to list the prices of every product within the blog post simply because I think it’s really handy to know how much things cost if you’re sticking to a budget. (P.S. Don’t forget that Father’s Day doesn’t have to just be a celebration of the Dads out there. If someone has been a constant figure in your life and shows you love and support every day, then that’s worth celebrating too!)

Food & Drink

If your Dad is anything like mine, he’ll appreciate any gift that consists of booze and coffee. I’m not much of a coffee connoisseur but this tin of Cartwright & Butler ‘After Dinner Coffee’ caught my eye as soon as I saw it. I think its always nice to treat a loved one to something that they probably wouldn’t think of buying for themselves, and a fancy tin of coffee is exactly that. I also spotted this super cool ‘Whisky Wedge’ which I think is SUCH a great gift. The Whisky Wedge is a kit which allows you to create the perfect sized ice cube for a glass of whisky (it comes with the ice mould and glass). It’s super easy to do and apparently the shape of the ice wedge means that it lasts for longer than your average cube and keeps your drink ice cold! We’re big cheese lovers in our family so when I spotted this set of cheese knives on the Oliver Bonas website I just had to include them! Again, this is the kind of thing that my Dad would probably never buy for himself but is something that he would be thrilled to receive. If you fancy going the extra mile Oliver Bonas also have a selection of cheese boards (like this cool black marble one) to complete the set.

Accessories

My Dad isn’t really the ‘shopping’ type, so every now and then on Father’s Day I like to treat him to something stylish that I think he might like. If I’m buying him some clothing or an accessory I’ll try to keep to a reasonable budget just in case he doesn’t like what I’ve picked out. I found this super cool messenger bag by a brand called Rains on the Topman site and I think it’s such a great present! The bag is £60 which I don’t think is too bad considering that it’s so practical, really great quality and looks a lot more expensive than it is (it’s also made from weatherproof material so it’s fab for the outdoorsy Dads out there!) Again, this is something that my Dad would probably never buy for himself but if he were given it as a gift I think he’d probably wear it to death! Another Topman bargain that I found was this gorgeous watch. I’ve seen some watches by a brand called Unknown on the ASOS site and I think it looks like something they would design (but it’s literally a fraction of the price at £28!). Like me, my Dad is somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to sunglasses so when I saw this pair by Vans I just had to pop them into the gift guide! These sunnies have that classic Ray Ban vibe but they’re only £20! Let me know if you think your Dad could rock any of the pieces I’ve picked out.

Gadget Gifts

As with tasty treats, you can never go wrong with a gadget as a gift. My Dad is super into his music so I just know that it would make his life if he were to receive something like this Kreafunk Bluetooth Speaker or these Urban Ears Wireless Headphones. These gadgets are slightly more on the pricey side of things but if you want to treat your Dad to something super special then they’re really great. Whilst on the Harvey Nichols website I stumbled upon some pieces from the Native Union range and saw this funky portable charger. A portable power bank is something that I always make sure to take with me whenever I’m travelling, so if your Dad is always on the road then this would be fab! Apparently there’s even enough juice in this baby to give your phone 3 hours of extra talk time and 2 hours of extra internet usage. For a cheaper alternative, this Fresh and Rebel Power Bank is a great choice and looks super sleek.

Fitness Accessories

If your Dad is super into fitness then a Fitbit is guaranteed to go down a storm! In case you don’t know, the Fitbit is a fitness watch which keeps count of the steps you’ve taken, distance you’ve travelled and calories you’ve burned. If your Dad is always at the gym then a funky water bottle is the perfect gift. You guys know that I love my Swell water bottles so I had to include this teakwood version in the gift guide. This one is a 9oz bottle so it’s the perfect size to chuck into a gym bag or backpack. If you’re feeling super generous then you could treat your Dad to a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost sneakers. My Ultra Boosts are literally the most comfortable sneakers that I’ve ever owned so if your Dad is super active then I’m confident he’s gonna love these!

Grooming Products

My Dad hasn’t jumped on the beard bandwagon just yet, but if ever he does I’ll definitely be getting him this super cute ‘Damn Handsome Beard Kit’ by Men’s Society. Within the tin your Dad will receive a mini beard oil, a tin of moustache wax, a beard comb and a pair of scissors. This is such a great token gesture and looks really special. Of course I had to include some kind of shaving tool within this gift guide so I chose this Babyliss 6 in 1 Grooming Set which includes various different trimming heads and attachments. If you really want to go the extra mile then you could treat your Dad to something like this super cool Herschel wash bag to store all his Fathers Day goodies in. I think grooming gifts are great gifts to buy if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired. I found some really great Father’s Day options on the Feel Unique site and in the Men’s section on Cult Beauty.

I hope my Fathers Day gift guide has given you some helpful gift inspiration! Dads are notoriously hard to buy for but I think I managed to find some unique items that I’m sure most Dads would love! Let me know if you’ll be treating yours to any of the things that I mentioned! And if you have even better ideas be sure to leave a comment and help us out!

  • Swell Teakwood Water Bottle

    Stay hydrated

  • Fitbit Fitness Watch

    Keep track

  • Charbonnel Et Walker Whisky Truffles

    Chocolatey yumminess

  • Corkcicle Whisky Wedge

    Ice ice baby

  • Men's Society 'Damn Handsome' Beard Kit

    Fix up look smart!

JAPANESE STATIONERY HAUL

Most of you will know by now that I’m a liiiiiitle bit obsessed with stationery. Call me crazy, but to me there’s nothing quite as satisfying as opening my stationery drawer and seeing my washi tape collection lined up in colour order (I know, I’m weird). As well as being overly excited to discover all the makeup and skincare products that Japan had to offer me, I was also so keen to check out all the amazing stationery stores that I’ve heard so much about. Let me tell you, Japanese office supplies made all of my stationery dreams come true…

My boyfriend Aslan isn’t as stationery obsessed as I am, but as soon as we set foot inside our first Japanese stationery store, even he had hearts in his eyes. Japanese stationery is, in my opinion, some of the best stationery I’ve ever laid my eyes on, so amazing that it makes the offerings at Paperchase and Tiger look measly in comparison (and as many of you will know, I’m a big fan of both of those stores). One thing I noticed about the stores in Japan is that they literally have testers of EVERYTHING which is so helpful, especially when you’re on the hunt for the perfect pen. I know I’m starting to sound a bit crazy, but I’m so particular about the pens that I use and with so many options to choose from, the Japanese stationery stores had my back. Three way, four way, neon and brush, you name a type of pen and Japan has you covered. Goals.

Arguably our favourite things from our entire stationery stash are these adorable little erasers and let me tell you, there’s something pretty special about these babies. ‘Why are these erasers such a strange shape?’ I hear you ask…well my friends, let me tell you. The reason that these erasers are shaped this way is because in comparison with your average, pebble shaped eraser, these ones have lots of sharp corners which means that you can erase more precisely! It can’t just be me and Aslan that think that’s incredible, right!? Anyway, these are so simple and probably won’t excite anyone else but the two of us, but I can’t wait to use try them out!

Something that you might not know about me is that I also have an unhealthy obsession with pretty pieces of paper. To me, there’s nothing quite as exciting as walking into a store and seeing shelves upon shelves of all different types of coloured paper, so obviously these cute little squares of foiled paper just had to make their way into my suitcase. I used to be such a crafty human and loved making all sorts of different bits and bobs that were inspired by things that I’d seen on Pinterest, but over the past few years I’ve just not been able to find the time to sit down and get my craft on. I picked up these paper cuttings because I really want to set aside some time to get creative and start making things again, so hopefully I’ll get some use out of this souvenir soon.

Japanese stationery truly is as amazing as you would imagine it to be, so if you ever find yourself in the country, make sure you stock up on a few stationery essentials. If you liked this haul definitely make sure you head over to my channel to watch the entire video where Aslan and I show you all the amazing stationery that we picked up during our trip. Also don’t forget to check out my blog posts all about the makeup and skincare items that I picked up over the two weeks that we were in Japan. I had so much fun discovering all the unique and exciting stuff in the stores!

P.s. Don’t forget that the vlogs from our Japan trip are over on Aslan’s channel! Go check them out!

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE MENTIONED!

  • Pilot 'Ball Knock' Gel Ink Pens

    Scribble away

  • Roller Stamp

    Make your mark

  • Moimoi Scissors

    Now these are incredible

  • Stapleless Stapler

    I'm pretty sure this is magic

  • Life A5 Notebook

    Write write write

GIRL POWER WORKOUT

As part of my #PersonalBest journey, I decided that it might be fun to invite some of you guys to come and work out with me and join me on my mission. Last week, 30 of my wonderful viewers came along to a beginners HIIT workout class at the Adidas Women’s Studio on Brick Lane. I was a little intimidated by the idea of a HIIT workout but I actually had so much fun and felt amazing by the end of it!

The HIIT workout class took place in the STUNNING Adidas Women’s London Studio on Brick Lane. There’s something about working out in a beautiful space that makes exercising feel so much more enjoyable, and the great thing about the Adidas Studio is that all of the sessions that they offer are completely free of charge! Definitely check it out if you fancy mixing up your normal workout routine!

I love going to workout classes because exercising with other humans makes me feel so motivated-it really feels like you’re a part of something. I just don’t seem to push myself as much when I’m working out on my own, so being surrounded by a group of people who are all pushing themselves makes me feel super inspired and more willing to work my body harder for longer. Working out with my viewers is something that I’ve actually never done before, but it was such an AMAZING experience because I really felt like we were working as a team. Everyone who came along to the class had varying fitness levels which was great as we worked together to help motivate each other. It was such a wonderful experience to see women supporting each other in a fitness environment.

The workout was led by fitness QUEEN Esmée Gummer and quite honestly, I don’t know how I would have made it through the class without her! Esmée is an exceptionally fit person; just a few years ago, Esmée was told that she may never walk again after she was paralysed due to an operation that went severely wrong. Esmée defied all odds and is now one of London’s best and most renowned fitness trainers and quite frankly, she’s amazing! This was the first HIIT class that I had been to and Esmée made it such an enjoyable experience (despite the fact that the workout was SUPER TOUGH), she encouraged us all to kick ass with her infectious, positive attitude. Big thanks to Esmée for supporting and inspiring us!

Not only do I have Esmée to thank, I also want to take this opportunity to say a HUGE THANK YOU to every single one of the strong, kickass women that came along to work out with me! It was so motivating to see you all pushing yourselves and supporting each other, I’m so touched that my viewers are such wonderful human beings and powerful WOMEN! Also thanks to my wonderful Adidas family for curating this event and providing us with the most beautiful environment to work out in!

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO LIFTING WEIGHTS

*This post is sponsored by Adidas. I am an Adidas Ambassador.

Most of you guys will know by now that I’ve been working on my #PersonalBest journey for quite some time. If you’re new to my blog and don’t know what that hashtag means, basically I’m working on a mission to become a healthier and fitter human by throwing myself into new and exciting workouts and different forms of excercise/healthy food. So far I’ve given rock climbing a go, kicked butt in spin classes and taken things down a notch by enrolling in a pilates class. So many of you have joined me on this #PersonalBest adventure and it’s so exciting to see you guys getting involved and working with me on this mission. I’m not the fittest human in the world (nor do I claim to be) but I’m really trying my hardest to push myself to get up and get active. Trust me, getting out of the house and down to the gym doesn’t come all that easy to me (sometimes I just want to sit on the sofa with some tea and biscuits!) but I can guarantee that once I’ve finished my workout I always feel so much better for pushing myself to make the effort and get to work! I never thought I’d say this, but now I understand that exercise is healthy for not only the body, but the mind and soul too.

As part of my #PersonalBest journey, I decided to get my good friend (and fitness QUEEN) Zanna Van Dijk on board to teach me a thing or two about lifting weights. Whenever I go to the gym with Aslan I’m always envious of how he makes lifting weights look so easy! I’ve always wanted to give weight lifting a go but I’ve never been sure on where I should start and what exercises I should do, so that’s exactly why I decided to get in touch with Zanna and organise a trip to the fitness studio Evolve in Parsons Green. The idea of lifting weights was something that actually felt quite daunting to me, so I thought it was important that I get an expert involved to teach me how to do it properly. I was super scared of doing it wrong and ending up with a sore back or a torn muscle, but thankfully Zanna saved the day and showed me some really useful tips on how to get started and become stronger!

The first exercise that Zanna showed me is called an Arnold Press (named after Shwarzeneger himself of course). This exercise really helps to target the front and side of your shoulders and is great for strengthening your arms and core. This one is fairly easy because you’re able to sit down while you’re doing it. I used 4kg dumbbells which is a great place to start if you’re a beginner like me. Whilst holding a weight in each hand, extend your arms over the top of your head and twist them as you go, hold it for a second before coming all the way back down and pushing the weights together. Make sure your movements are slow and controlled and don’t forget to take your time whilst coming back down with the weights too. Zanna suggests that you do three sets of 10 reps of the Arnold Press exercise, but just do what you can and build yourself up over time.

This exercise is called a Single Arm Row and apparently it’s great for your posture For this one you’ll need to make sure that you have a bench handy and position yourself so that you’re half on and half off of the surface and make sure that your back is nice and straight. Using one hand, lift one of your 4kg weights up towards your body, hold it there for a second and then release. This exercise is great for your bicep but also works to pull your shoulders back (hence why it’s so good for your posture!) Try to do 8-10 reps on one arm before switching over to the other. I found this one surprisingly easy at first, but trust me when I say that they get a lot harder!

Wanna work that booty? This exercise is the one for you! The Goblet Squat focuses on the quads, hamstrings and glutes (basically your legs, thighs and butt!). I found this exercise quite difficult but what I like about it is that it works three areas of your body in one. To do a Goblet Squat you’ll need to hold the weight up to your chest and stand up, make sure that your legs are a shoulder width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards. Now that you’re in position move your body down into a squat and as you come back up squeeze your butt cheeks together! Do 3 sets of 10 reps and your bum will thank you for it!

Again this exercise is great for your posture and it specifically targets your hamstrings and your glutes. I didn’t realise that hamstrings or glutes had anything to do with how you hold yourself, but targeting these areas actually helps to support your posture! To do this exercise you’ll need to hold a dumbbell in each hand whilst standing up straight. Once in position, take a nice big step back, stabilise yourself and then drop down so that both of your legs are creating a 90 degree angle, hold it for a second and then come back up. Make sure that your knee is as close to the floor without touching it and use your front heel to take the most of your weight and push yourself back up to a standing position. I ramped things up a notch and used 6kg in each hand for this exercise, but again just do what you’re comfortable with and build yourself up over time. Try to do 3 sets of 10 reps per leg if you can!

I found this last exercise quite tough so I’d have to say it’s my least favourite! This one is called a Plank Drag and you can amp things up by using your dumbbells or just do it with your arms if you’re not ready to tackle the weights. To do a Plank Drag you’ll need to position yourself into a plank (which in my opinion is tough in itself!) making sure that your back is nice and straight and your arms are a shoulder width apart. If you’re using weights, grab one of the dumbbells and pull it across to the opposite side. Make sure that you lock your core and don’t allow your hips to wobble, it’s important to keep your body as controlled as possible. If you’re doing this exercise without weights, you can do all the same moves as you would when using the dumbbells, but instead of picking one of those up simply use your arm to tap the floor on the opposite side. Again you should do 3 sets of 10 reps each side. This one is super tough and even Zanna described it as a ‘killer’ so if you’re giving this one a go be warned! It’s tough!

So those were the 5 beginner weight lifting moves. Huge thank you to Zanna for helping me to tackle something that I’ve wanted to try for a very long time! I actually really enjoyed these exercises and love that I’m on the road to being a stronger human! If you want to see some more advanced workouts make sure you check out Zanna’s YouTube channel, she really is a fitness QUEEN!!! Definitely make sure you watch the video that we filmed for my channel if you want to get a better understanding of how to do some of these moves. Let me know if you try out any of these exercises and don’t forget to use the hashtag #PersonalBest so that I can keep up to date on your progress!

Here’s what we’re wearing!

Hoodie | Tank | Crop Top | TightsTrainers

BOOKS: PRETTY BOOKS

This week I’m bringing you a selection of my favourite ‘pretty books’. By ‘pretty’, I’m referring to the books that I like to keep sitting proudly on the coffee table or popping out at eye level on my book shelves. Not only are they absolutely gorgeous to look at, they’re inspiring to read and a complete feast for the eyes from cover to cover. They’re beautiful in every way and I hope that you’ll love them just as much as I do!

‘This Modern Love’ – Will Darbyshire

Will Darbyshire is a good friend of mine, so my thoughts on this book might be a little biased. But you know me, I’ll only ever give you an honest opinion that comes straight from the heart, so believe me when I say that this one is wonderful! From cover to cover both in its content and style it is absolutely beautiful. This book is a collection of letters, stories and photographs submitted by Will’s YouTube audience from all over the globe, all of which focus on the subject of love and relationships. ‘This Modern Love’ is truly unique and relatable to everyone, everywhere. Make sure you grab a copy of this!

‘Men in This Town/Women in This Town’ – Giuseppe Santamaria

These books are so cool! If you’re a people watcher or a lover of all things ‘street style’ then these books were made for you. Giuseppe Santamaria is a photographer, blogger and art director with an eye for a style icon. These books are packed cover to cover with gorgeous photographs of the most badass people from all around the world. Each person has a sense of style that speaks volumes about who they are as a human being, it’s just so interesting to see how these people curate their outfits to showcase their personalities. These books have become a permanent fixture on my coffee table and are a huge source of outfit inspiration.

‘Nasty Galaxy’ – Sophia Amoruso

Author of #GIRLBOSS and founder of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso is the ultimate badass. She’s someone that has inspired women from all over the globe, including me! Nasty Galaxy is basically the story of Sophia’s life and how she became the successful woman that she is today. It’s jam packed full of photos, illustrations and interviews and laid out in just the most gorgeous way. Flicking through this book is kind of like flicking through a scrapbook, so it’s perfect for those moments when I’m feeling like I need some creative inspo.

Rupi Kuar ‘Milk and Honey’

Poetry was never something I was all that into until I picked up a copy of Rupi Kaur’s ‘Milk and Honey’. This book is simply wonderful. Split into four sections, each chapter holds a different purpose and takes us on a journey through some of the most bitter moments in life as well as some of the sweetest. It’s hard to tell you much about this book because you have to read it yourself to fully experience it. Buy it for yourself and see what you think. I guarantee it will change your attitude towards poetic writing.

Valentines Gift Guide 2017

Aslan and I don’t avidly ‘celebrate’ Valentines Day, we’ve never really been the couple who spends a fortune on expensive gifts or fancy dinners when V day rolls around. We both believe that you should show your loved ones how much they mean to you all the time, no matter what the time of year (cheesy or what?). However, it’s nice to treat each other to a little something on the day to show each other that we care, and after all, Valentine’s Day is just a bit of fun! For Aslan and I, Valentine’s Day usually means swapping cute handmade cards and exchanging small, inexpensive gifts that may not mean anything to some, but mean a lot to us. That’s why for this Valentine’s Day Gift Guide I’ve searched far and wide to bring you a collection of some of the cutest gifts around for £20 and under. Whether it’s your bae, your bestie or even your favourite furry friend, sometimes the smallest of gestures can mean a lot to the person you love.

I hope that my Valentine’s Day gift guide has given you some giftspiration and helped to spark a few ideas! Let me know if you’ll be showing some love to your loved ones this V-Day. Whether it’s your lover, your mother, your bestie or your fur baby, comment down below and tell me what you’re planning on treating them to this year!

New In: Stationery & Other Things I Didn't Need

Just recently I published a post all about my hoarding obsession with magazines, but what I didn’t tell you guys is that I have another hoarding obsession…and that obsession is stationery. Take me to a place that sells pastel coloured washi tape, cute stickers or scented highlighters and I’ll probably have bought the entire store before you can even say the word ‘stationery’. The thing is, I don’t even need this stuff, but I just can’t help myself! We all have our guilty pleasures, right?

On this occasion I decided to hit up two of my go-to stationery stores, Paper Smiths and Choosing Keeping. Both of these sites stock THE most gorgeous pieces and have everything you could imagine; from coffee table books to fancy shmancy pencil cases and pens. For a stationery addict like me, this is heaven! If your willpower is weak, stay well away.

I picked up a number of things on my stationery spree and I’m in love with them all! Arguably my favourite things from this haul are my beautiful new cases from Choosing Keeping. These babies make me happier than they should. Just look at the way they glisten and shine! I picked up one glasses case and one pencil case and the fact that they match makes my heart jump for joy. They’re super fragile so I’ll most likely keep these on my desk rather than rolling around at the bottom of my bag, but they look absolutely stunning and I know that they’ll be a joy to use.

There’s something about acquiring new stationery that makes me feel motivated to be super productive. Whether it’s starting a fresh page of a notebook or opening up the lid on a brand new pen, having new stationery makes me want to get to work and start ticking things off of my ever-growing to do list.

Those are just a few bits that I’ve acquired recently, make sure that you head on over to my YouTube channel to watch my ‘Stationery Haul video where I show you a some more of the beautiful stationery pieces that I bought! Are you a stationery freak like me? If so, comment down below and let me know which are your favourite stationery stores! I’m always looking for new things to add to my collection so I’d love to hear your recommendations!

BEHIND THE SCENES: LANCÔME

The time has finally come for me to spill the beans on a pretty exciting secret that I’ve been keeping under wraps for the last few months. The urge to tell you all what I’ve been up to and where I’ve been has been painfully tough (you all know I’m terrible at keeping secrets), but somehow I’ve managed to keep my mouth shut and wait until this very moment to tell you my exciting news! So, without further ado…I’m incredibly excited to announce that I am officially partnering with Lancôme throughout 2017 to create amazing content and exclusive behind the scenes access. Eeeeeeeeek!!

I’ve been working with Lancôme on various projects throughout the years and over that time I’ve been able to get to know the team, understand what the brand is really about and have lots of fun along the way! Lancôme is all about female empowerment, being unapologetically you and of course great beauty products. I vividly remember purchasing one of my first ever makeup items when I was a teenager; a gloriously vibrant Lancôme Juicy Tube which became a permanent fixture on my lips from the day I bought it. Over the next year I’ll be working on loads of really exciting projects with Lancôme and I cannot wait to get started!

For this post I wanted to bring you guys along and show you a behind the scenes view of my first big project with Lancôme. As part of this journey, Lancôme asked me if I would be interested in working on a video to officially announce my position as a new member of the family and of course I said YES! There is a behind the scenes video at the bottom of this post to take a peek at but I’ll be sharing the official video and photos at a later date.

I had SO much fun filming the announcement video! The whole day went by in the blink of an eye so I’m super glad that Aslan was there to capture some special moments and make sure that this memory is something that I can treasure forever. The team were so amazing and made me feel so at home in the studio. It was pretty breathtaking to realise the entire day was set up just for me…it took me a few days to let that sink in. Aslan also made sure that I had a cup of tea to hand at all times (he knows me well!), which was a life saver and helped to keep my energy levels topped up. Gotta get that tea fix!

Arguably the best part of the day was having my makeup done by the legend that is Alex Babsky. Alex is spectacularly gifted and I’m completely in awe of his talent. I’ve been a huge admirer of his work for a very long time, so to have him work his magic on my face during one of the most important shoots of my life was an absolute dream! Alex has worked with some of the most influential women in the world including Naomi Campbell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Victoria Beckham and Alicia Keys to name only a few, so to have Alex do my makeup was a real honour and something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life for sure! I had two makeup looks during the shoot; one daytime look and one night time. My daytime makeup was a gorgeous, sultry eye with a glossy nude lip, then for the evening look Alex amped things up with a sexy smoky eye, strong contour and rosy lip. I adored both looks and I’ll definitely be trying my best to recreate them by myself!

Can we talk about the drawing Alex did of me? I stared at it for a good 30 minutes and I’m still not over it. Thank you Alex!!!

As well as having the wonderful Alex with me to get my glam on, I also had my good friend Larry King on set to tame my tresses. Larry is amazing at what he does and I was so lucky to be able to have him at the shoot with me to make my hair look bomb. Not only that but having a close friend on set really helped to calm my nerves and give me an extra boost of energy and confidence. It was a blessing to have Larry by my side to make me laugh in between shots, it was exactly what I needed and he made me feel so much more at ease. He’s hilarious and wonderful!

It’s no secret that I’m not a model, so trying to look a certain way in front of a camera with a whole team of people watching isn’t something that comes easy to me! However having legends like Alex and Larry with me to do their thang on my hair and makeup gave me the confidence I needed to get in the zone and kick some butt. This is such a huge deal for me so I knew that it had to be right and I had to give it my all, hopefully you guys think I did a good job!

I can’t find the words to express just how excited I am to be working with this amazing brand! I’ve been an admirer of Lancôme since I started wearing makeup so I simply can’t believe that this is happening to me! Of course I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for you guys, so I hope you know how grateful I am to each and every one of you for making this dream come true for me. Every time you leave a positive comment or like one of my Instagram pictures it means something to me. Sometimes I wonder how this whole thing even happened to me. Surreal.

Stay tuned for loads of exciting projects coming up, I wish I could tell you all of the amazing things that Lancôme have got in store for me, but unfortunately for now I have to keep those under wraps! Stay tuned and all will be revealed in due course. In the meantime, make sure you check out one of the official photos from the day on my Instagram and also take a peek at our behind the scenes vlog from this amazing day!

Thanks so much to Lancôme for believing in me.