28 August 2015

Summer 2015

Summer, the few months where university doesn't exist and the few months where I should have plenty of free time to get stuck into my summer plans. This Summer has definitely been the busiest yet, so much so that I completely missed my July roundup so I'm combining the past two months into one Summer related catch up.

Not long after I returned from Barcelona we received the keys to our new home, as it was a renovation project we spent a lot of time helping Lee's dad out with the work. Pulling carpets up, ripping the kitchen and bathroom out, knocking down walls, building walls, opening new doorways, closing off doorways and much more, the house was stripped back to a shell ready for us to put it back together. After only 5 weeks of work we're almost set to move in, just a few finishing touches and the sorting of the bills, it's all very real now. The transformation has been incredible and I will definitely be posting some photos in future posts, I just can't wait to make it our own. 
In the middle of all that my 20th birthday happened. For the first time, my mam couldn't be there as she was sunning it up in Greece but we did have a family meal before they left. Lee started the day off with a delivery of flowers and present opening in bed. The weather was pretty dull but we did make a stop for ice cream by the coast before hitting the shops, finishing the day off with a pub meal. Fast forwarding a few days, I met my friends for birthday celebrations with a meal at Frankie and Benny's and they did the dreaded 'lets tell them it's Rachael's birthday' thing, so out came the cake and on came the happy birthday song. Of course I totally appreciate it but it's fair to say I was very embarrassed, at least the girls got a good laugh out of it!
I've mentioned the Lake District a few times on here as it's one of our favourite places so we ventured there on a day off. The weather was beautiful and there were families setting up camp by the lake for the day with their BBQs and there were plenty of people taking a swim. We got ice cream and found a walk which took us alongside the lake and up to some pretty amazing caves, one with stepping stones taking us into the darkness, lots of fish darting back and forth in the water beneath us, it was pretty cool. Typical Lee decided to take us off route, leading the way on top of one of the caves and we walked, and walked, stopping every so often to take in the amazing views. Before we knew it we were on top of a mountain, out of breath and in desperate need of water so we made our way back to the car, ending the day as we always do, with a takeaway.

Other than that, I've spent time with friends, usually just chilling with a takeaway but we also had a meal out at the local Indians and I hosted a Mexican night for two of the girls, although they ended up doing most all of the cooking, I took charge of cocktail making. I attended my friend's dads 40th which consisted of an 'adult' bouncy castle, sumo suits, cocktails and then we wandered over to our local village for more drinks. I had a night out with work which was well overdue, I got to catch up with one of the girls who left a few months back which was really nice. More recent things; I went to an actual Next home shop for the first time and fell in love with so much, their copper kitchenware is so dreamy! We watched The Best of Me on Netflix the other night and I would 100% urge everyone to watch it, it's a chick flick but so much happens in the movie and I guarantee you will be in floods of tears by the end. I also went to see Paper Towns after a lunch date with the girls and I was actually pretty disappointed, it wasn't that bad but it wasn't great, I'm guessing it's aimed at a younger audience despite the sexual references as when the lights came on we realised we were surrounded by girls way younger than us! I've also been working, trying to find a placement for next year which is proving more difficult than I imagined and nursing a broken iPhone, it's fixed now but I did loose everything from October last year due to my iCloud being full, never again will I not transfer my photos to my laptop! 

I have definitely rambled on for long enough but there we have it, a roundup of my Summer 2015, now there's only 3 small weeks between me and the start of third year and dissertation stress. 

Rachael x

28 July 2015

Exploring Barcelona

Back at the end of June, me and the girls jetted off to sunny Barcelona for 5 days to do some relaxing, sight seeing and cocktail drinking as an end of second year getaway. Barcelona itself can get pretty pricey for accommodation so because of the good deal, we ended up staying in a town called Mataro, a 40 minute metro ride from the bustling city of Barcelona. Mataro is a beach town and our hotel overlooked the pretty port, I was slightly hesitant on our arrival as it isn't a very touristy place at all but as the day went on I realised how nice it was to actually be in with the locals. This made for the perfect mix between a relaxing poolside/beach holiday and a city break. So, as well as soaking up the sun by the pool we ventured into Barcelona to do some touristy things on one (and a half) days as travelling meant we only had three full days there. The metro system is thankfully really good with clean and air conditioned metros, I would definitely recommend it as your main mode of transport if you're visiting. Our journey from Mataro to Barcelona passed many beach towns which made for a journey more pleasing to the eye than the darkness of the underground. 
We chose a bus tour to transport us around the city which was a great way to see everything with multiple stops. We chose to spend our time in the city seeing all of Gaudi's beautiful work, including the incredible unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia which is just as gorgeous inside, his park, Park Guell and two of his buildings, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera. We took an audio tour around Casa Batllo which definitely highlighted the amount of detail and thought that had gone into his work. Barcelona is definitely the city of amazing architecture, no matter where you look no two buildings are the same, the quaint little streets were my favourite with their picturesque balconies. Our second visit into the city was the evening before we left and we spent a while wandering the streets in the search for the Arc de Triomf which was unfortunately rather unsuccessful, so we headed along the beach finally reaching the Hard Rock cafe to fill our tummy's with a tasty burger and a cocktail. We took in the sights one last time when the sky was darkening and the fountains in the main square were lit with the prettiest colours before heading back on the metro. I loved our time in Barcelona, it was the most relaxing break and I would definitely like to return to do some more exploring one day.

Rachael x

10 July 2015

June 2015

June, a pretty lovely month which managed to sometimes feel like summer up here in the North. June was the first full month with no uni, no exams and no looming deadlines and it feels so good. Apart from working, my June has involved spending some time with both myself and my loved ones as our summer unrolls.

The month witnessed me make some naughty purchases with a new camera purchase, the Samsung NX3000, which is very different to the standard cameras I have previously owned but I'm loving playing around with it. I purchased our first piece of home ware for our new home, some cute and totally unnecessary heart shaped serving bowls and I made a rare venture into TKMaxx at a new local branch, leaving with the most beautiful notebooks and a Mario Valentino bag, oops. Also, with a bikini body in mind, I signed up to a new gym in June and have a new found love for spinning classes. Another highlight of June was my good friends returning home for the summer from uni, the first thing on the agenda was to meet one of them for some pub grub and a catch up later followed by a fun day of holiday shopping with two of my girls, planning our Barcelona trip and refueling over a burger and milkshake from the Fat Hippo Underground. It was my first time there and I really enjoyed it, the burger and fries were really good for a relaxed lunch stop and the chocolate milkshake had me craving for weeks.

Lee celebrated his 20th birthday in June. The day began with a McDonald's breakfast before a drive to Kielder for another long, relaxing bike ride, this time stopping at a pretty lakeside restaurant for a tasty burger to top up our energy levels for the cycle back. If there's any excuse to eat a lot of bad food, a birthday is definitely one so we chilled for the night with some Ben and Jerry's and a rather large takeaway. On another occasion, our friend made us a delicious homemade curry one night, so we chilled with drinks and Netflix and many laughs were had at another of our friends new homes as we watched the boys attempting to put together flat pack furniture, I can confirm, it wasn't a smooth process. Later in the month we met their gorgeous baby girl, it's amazing/totally scary how fast we have grown up. At the end of June me and two friends jetted off to Barcelona for some exploring and relaxation, dedicated post to follow.

I hope you had a lovely month of June.
Rachael x

1 June 2015

May 2015

I'm going to start this post in typical 'end of the month post' style and say HOW is it already June and in true British fashion, WHY is the weather still awful. It's the 1st of June, it's 9 degrees and the heating is on, it's raining and it's windy. Like most, May has consisted of assignment deadlines and endless days of revision and exams, I spent most of that time listening to Disney playlists on Spotify and making mental lists of all of the fun activities I could do after exams. If your exams are still on going then good luck! However, my second year at uni is now over and I have that great sense of freedom that I was counting down the days for. Saying that, I did agree to work for the majority of the time between the end of my exams and the end of May but June will be the month for my summer plans to start.

Something pretty exciting did happen in May which I have kind of held back as it hasn't happened in the conventional way, me and Lee are moving out! It's something we have spoken about for a while now, after being together over four years, and after having a look around we bounced back and forward between the decision to go for it by renting and the decision to hold off and save for a little longer for a mortgage. The decision was made to wait another year or two but we have been incredibly lucky as Lee's dad and his partner decided to help us out. They had planned on buying a second home, so that's what they did, and we're going to rent from them for a great price. Even better, it's a renovation project so we get to get in on the action and work together to plan our own home. It really does seem like a dream and many hours have been spent browsing for home ware inspiration, all we need now is the keys!

The photo above was taken on a day out to Kielder, a super pretty water and forest park. We decided to challenge ourselves and hire bikes for a 6 mile bike ride through the forests, I can confirm that this was the first good amount of exercise I had done in a while and some of those hills burned my legs like crazy. However, at the same time, it was so relaxing to be out in the fresh air with nobody else around. Also in May; I had my first Ikea experience, we ate too many pizzas and too much Ben and Jerry's, we watched a lot of Pretty Little Liars, my grandma came round for Sunday dinner as I had a rare Sunday off work for revision purposes, I joined some work friends for a catch up at the pub, we discovered a lovely Indian buffet restaurant on Newcastle's Quayside for a friends birthday which was followed by a few of us heading into town for the night and Lee treat me to food at our local country pub/restaurant, returning home to ice cream and Lee Evans on Netflix. To celebrate the end of exams, me and my mam had an afternoon of shopping, ending with food and cocktails at Las Iguanas and later on, more food was consumed at the pub, catching up with one of my besties. Bring on June, hopefully with some nicer weather, I hope you had a good month of May.

Rachael x

5 May 2015

5 Easy Tips For A Healthier Lifestyle

1. Start slow
I think the biggest mistake that's made is the sudden 'I'm going to cut out this huge list of foods starting from tomorrow and exercise every day'. Rushing into doing everything in one go will often end in you feeling like you're totally hating on the change, if you're not feeling happy whilst doing it you're going to be way less motivated and are quickly going to go back to your old ways. This is why it's also important to not completely deny yourself of treats, never allowing yourself things you enjoy isn't going to go down well. I've found it much easier to change a few small things at a time, my lifestyle isn't super healthy but I do believe that those small changes can still make a difference to your health.

2. Water
I know we hear this SO many times but water really does have it's benefits and is so much better than other sugar filled drinks. I used to completely refuse to drink water, even when I was suffering sun stroke in Florida one time! However, I now pretty much only drink water on a daily basis and rarely drink fizzy drinks (I don't even crave them), I found water was one of those things that was easy to 'train' my body to like, probably due to the pretty neutral taste and non offensive texture or smell. Hot lemon water is really good too and has tons of benefits so I make sure to have a mug of this each morning. It's a good idea to always keep a bottle of water on you as a reminder to stay hydrated.

3. Switch it up
A simple way to get some more goodness in your life is to switch from white (refined) carbs to brown (complex) carbs, this goes for bread (we eat wholemeal seeded bread for extra goodness), pasta, rice and even switching to wholegrain cereal can benefit you. Personally, I think brown carbs are tastier, it's worth a try.

4. Breakfast
I've never been someone who doesn't eat breakfast, I can't function properly without it! I found ditching sugary, chocolate based cereals easier than I imagined as I found a new love for porridge. Since that day I've had porridge pretty much every morning, I seem to be able to eat the same breakfast for as long as I want without getting sick of it. I opt for plain porridge to cut down on sugar and add one whole sliced banana and a dollop of peanut butter. I team this with a mug of hot lemon water and my multivitamin (another new addition to my routine) each morning and it makes for a pretty enjoyable breakfast, allowing me to get some fruit in there as I really don't like eating fruit by itself. If you prefer variety try changing up your toppings or trying more savoury options such as a poached eggs and avocado combination.

5. Snacking
Don't get me wrong, I still crave all things chocolate and if I really want it I will have it as I don't believe in completely denying yourself of the foods you enjoy. However, I have found a few things that I would recommend to make healthier snacking that little bit easier. Graze boxes: I've been signed up to these boxes for quite a while and have a post on them here if you'd like a little more info, they're great for healthier snacks, especially when you want something to throw in your bag, their flapjacks are the best! Nakd bars: I first tried a Nakd bar after hearing so much about them and opting for a healthier lunch choice at uni; a Boots meal deal consisting of a wrap from their Shapers range, a bottle of water and a cocoa delight Nakd bar. I really didn't think I would like them to be honest as the main ingredient is dates and I have a thing with textures, dates definitely aren't my favourite in terms of that. However, I was so surprised at how nice they are! The Boots in town only stocks the cocoa delight one which I love and a berry one which never took my fancy but I was desperate to try some other flavors as I know there's a huge range so I was thrilled when Natural Balance Foods contacted me and asked if I'd like to try a mixed case of 18 Nakd bars. They have a huge range of benefits such as being dairy, wheat and gluten free and I love how they have minimal ingredients, many contributing to one of your 5 a day. They're similar to cereal bars in a way but are definitely way more satisfying, I feel as though they fill me up pretty well. I wasn't sure if I'd like the range I received as the majority were fruit based but once again I was pleasantly surprised at how much I do like them! I just wish Nakd bars were more widely available in supermarkets.

Rachael x

1 May 2015

April 2015

*10 points if you can spot me in that photo 
April was the month of eating far too much chocolate and a nice three week break from uni. I must admit, I spent most of April seriously stressing about deadlines and exams, I don't know what's happened to me, I've gone from someone who was so relaxed about exams to a serious stress head! To try and relieve the stress I made quite a few plans with friends as a few were home from uni for Easter, maybe a little too many plans and a lot less uni work. 

The Easter weekend was a pretty good one, I worked the Friday, Saturday and Monday but we had a work night out on the Saturday to celebrate a birthday and the fact that for once, we were all off on the Sunday as the cafe was closed. It was SO good to have a chilled Sunday off considering I often work all weekend, every weekend. It began with a long lie in, then my grandma visited and I had my first Sunday roast in so long, topping it off by sitting in the sun in the garden and later on, we may have gotten pizza. 

I actually finally ventured into the world of exercise classes at the beginning of April with my friend, we decided on spinning and wow, what a burn! It was named beginners spinning and I may have been a bit too cocky thinking it was going to be easy as I was kind of regular gym goer. It wasn't easy. I did enjoy it though, we just haven't been back as we were only on a short term contract whilst my friend was home for Easter. I made the most of her being home by making plans, even if they were just gym sessions or study dates, we did have a nice pub lunch one day and a BBQ too and along with another friend, we booked a holiday! We're jetting off to Barcelona at the end of June for four nights, it feels so good to finally have something booked to look forward too, any Barcelona recommendations are very welcome! 

There was a date night at our usual county pub/restaurant and another at the cinema to see Fast and Furious 7 which is incredible. I was never really that into the previous ones but Lee loves them so I went along and it totally surpassed my expectations, the ending is super emotional. We also had a catch up with our two closest friends involving a burger and a brownie at the pub followed by drinks one night and a pizza and movie night the next. The end of the month was spent frantically trying to finish my last few assignments and dog sitting Lees dads gorgeous dog, at least dog cuddles made it easier. I am now one presentation, one assignment and three exams (20 days!) away from Summer and all I can do is make multiple mental lists of all the things I want to do once I'm free. I hope you had a lovely April.

Rachael x

24 April 2015

Whitewash Teeth Whitening Gel

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that for a while now, I have been craving a nice white smile. If you read my '2015 - Looking Forward' post you may remember that one of my goals for this year was to get those white teeth I've wanted for so long. My teeth have been a work in progress for a good 3-4 years now as my mouth was seriously overcrowded and I had two very prominent 'fangs' so braces were a must. I had 4 teeth removed and wore my braces for almost 3 years. I'm so pleased I went through with getting braces, they're not pleasant but so worth it. I did however, get mine taken off before I was 100% happy which I do regret but they're still pretty straight and I still wear my retainer almost every night.
Anyhow, the next issue was the colour. I don't smoke, I don't drink tea or coffee, I don't drink red wine or eat a lot of curry but my teeth have always been dull and quite yellow, especially nearer the gums. There's so many salon based treatments out there and products you can buy online or off the shelf but I've always been apprehensive, hearing stories about salon treatments being illegal due to their use of an unsafe amount of bleach or teeth damaging procedures. Finally I bit the bullet and paid the price for an at home treatment from my dentist as it was the only option I 100% trusted, despite it costing a lot more than other options. I paid £250 for the Whitewash Teeth Whitening Gel treatment.
This involved 3 dentist visits; The first was to get impressions of my teeth for the creation of the trays. If you've ever had braces you'll know that getting impressions is pretty disgusting but it doesn't take long and is a necessity, basically involving a gooey substance being pressed in trays against each set of teeth for about a minute, which will then set after removal. The second visit was to get my kit. Everything comes packaged nicely in a white box which includes the clear and flexible trays, a box to keep them in, 4 syringes filled with 3ML of 6% hydrogen peroxide each with a cap on and four applicator tips as well as 3 detailed information booklets/cards. My dentist also gave me my impressions to take home (eww, so strange) and a tube of Sensodyne paste in case of any sensitivity which is a common complaint with whitening. The third visit was a check up to see how I was getting on and the rest was all completed at home.
I'm hoping that many dentists will stock Whitewash or a similar system so that this post will be helpful. The brand also offer whitening strips but I was told that, although they are a cheaper option, there isn't as much of a difference in teeth colour compared to the gel. They have another type of gel treatment too which uses carbamide peroxide, containing slow release ingredients allowing for overnight use. Your dentist will discuss the best option for you.

Onto my treatment, Whitewash states that the hydrogen peroxide gel is fast acting, working very well for heavily stained teeth. The formula includes potassium nitrate for desensitisation, calcium and fluoride for remineralisation and soothing aloe vera as well as having a high water content which prevents tooth dehydration and fade-back. It's an easy system to use; prior to use teeth must be clean, however, you shouldn't brush immediately before the treatment, I would wait 20-30 minutes after brushing before applying the gel, then you simply take off the cap on one syringe and screw in the applicator, load the amount of gel stated by your dentist into the trays and place them around your teeth, applying gentle pressure, and leave them for 90 minutes (I would often do 2 hours). The trays should be cleaned after each use with a soft brush and water, ensuring your not destructing the shape and not using warm water (or they will melt!). Due to the gel residue left on my teeth, after each use I would gently brush my teeth with water.

So, this is an easy to use, well presented and well explained system which can be done at home. I found the trays really comfortable to wear and there was no strange smell from the gel, I would only be able to taste it when removing the trays if I had applied quite a lot of gel, but it wasn't an unbearable taste. I did however find that it was hard to maintain this routine every day which is recommended as you need a good 2 hours - 2 and a half hours free at home which doesn't interfere with meal times (dedicating over 2 hours to not eating isn't easy for someone who is constantly hungry like myself haha). When I was coming home from uni or work, eating, getting ready and then going out for the night it wasn't possible to do the treatment which is why the whole thing has taken a lot longer than expected (My first treatment was on the 6th of February and my last was the 15th of April). It is a long process but it doesn't take much effort and Whitewash do state that whitening that is done slowly and steadily will produce longer lasting results. Another thing to bare in mind is that during the process of bleaching, teeth will be more susceptible to staining from things like smoking, red wine, coffee and curry so if you're a smoker or a bit of a coffee addict, treatment will not be anywhere near as effective. Luckily this hasn't been a problem for me. Thankfully I suffered from very minimal sensitivity during the treatment with just one occasion when the cold wind got to my teeth, this will vary for everyone though so do be cautious if you already experience frequent sensitivity.

I'm sure after all that rambling all you're really interested in is if it worked. The answer is yes, it did. My teeth are definitely a few shades whiter but they still look very natural, friends and family have noticed and complimented my whiter teeth which is always a good feeling. I'm not going to lie and say I love them as I do think they still appear on the yellow side and the contrast is still there between the more white shade nearer the end of the teeth and the more yellow shade nearer the gums.  I was never expecting a Hollywood smile, I just don't know if I could've gotten the same results from something cheaper like Crest white strips. However, it's one of those things that is hard for you to notice yourself as the change is so gradual, it's not until now when I look at the photo comparisons that I realise that there is actually quite a difference! The first three photos were from various times before the treatment whereas the two other rows of photos were actually taken on the same day with about an hour between them, showing that they can look different shades in different light! It is recommended that they are topped up once a year, with subsequent treatments costing around £20. I really do apologise for this essay of a post but I hope it was useful, any more questions just give me a message via email or Twitter! Have you tried any teeth whitening products?

Rachael x

30 March 2015

March 2015

It seems as though this March isn't too different from the last after reading through my March 2014 post. A rather slow month with not much going on apart from looming deadlines, exams and a dissertation proposal all due in less than two months. I do have three weeks off now though to crack on with it all so I can't complain too much.

Other than that March has thankfully involved some nice occurrences such as a lunch date with my mam and grandma, a rarity now that I work every Sunday which was previously our day to catch up. Me, Lee and friends spent a night at our usual country pub and restaurant (The Snowy Owl) which seems to have been mentioned so many times on this blog, the chicken pie is just too good, not to mention the peanut butter cheesecake. I also visited a friend at her uni town of Stockton which involved my first experience of bingo (we didn't win a penny), cocktails and rather good full English breakfast. I celebrated a friend's birthday at Prezzo with a pulled pork pizza, moving swiftly onto the pub for drinks and lastly, the month ended with a reunion night out now that some of my friends are now finally home for Easter.

More good things in March include; sorting out my wardrobe and actually managing to get rid of some unloved items for once (I like to hold onto things), eating too much pizza and too many creme eggs/mini eggs (you know it's a problem when you're eating mini eggs for breakfast), buying myself some bright yellow tulips, the movie 'Begin Again' (such a feel good movie), light mornings and sunshine, starting Pretty Little Liars, 20% student discount on ASOS, ordering Instagram prints for my scrapbook and finishing an assignment in good time for once.

A bit of a short one this month! I hope you've had a lovely March.

Rachael x

16 March 2015

25 Facts About Me

1.  I'm Nineteen and a summer baby - 13th of July '95.
2.  Currently a second year psychology undergraduate student.
3.  My middle name is Sian.
4.  I am not a morning person AT ALL, I do however, love the snooze button.
5.  I am SO bad at making decisions, even the most simple ones.
6.  I'm not a fan of change.
7.  I've always wanted my own doggy friend, although I am unfortunately allergic to most breeds.
8.  I LOVE to make lists.
9.  I am a major daydreamer.
10.  I'm pretty small, around 5' 2" I believe.
11.  I've been with Lee over 4 years now, making us only 15 when we got together.
12.  I'm not very good at having conversations, or making friends. I secretly don't really mind though.
13.  Similarly, I really dislike answering the phone or talking on the phone at all.
14.  I love stars, a clear sky is my favourite.
15.  I have no concept of time. Consequently, I am THE worst at being on time.
16.  I'm scared of spiders, so scared that I often dream about them being around me.
17.  Nothing is complete without mayonnaise or garlic mayo.
18.  Pizza is my favourite food, I'm talking big fat greasy takeaway pizzas.
19.  On the other hand, I HATE mushrooms, tomatoes and strawberries.
20.  I have never broken a bone  *touch wood*.
21.  Heart radio station is my guilty pleasure.
22.  Lazy days are the best. Pyjamas, no makeup, snacks and movies.
23.  I'm an only child, but have always wanted a sister.
24.  I love the infinity symbol and quite fancy it as my first, and probably my only, tattoo.
25.  I also really love long journeys.

Rachael x

9 March 2015

My Reasons For Blogging

Although I have only been blogging on this blog for almost a year, blogging has been in my life a hell of a lot longer with the many blogs I have owned previously. I seem to have a habit of creating something, loving it, hating it, and deleting it. Recently there has been a shift in blogging with more of a focus on producing a brand and a business rather than a hobby which I think is totally amazing, no ones going to say no to making a career out of something they love. I do feel like I've lost my place a bit though, I don't want to build a business from my blog, definitely not yet anyway so I've been thinking about why it is that I blog, I'm not an aspiring journalist and don't have one particular passion.

You've probably noticed my blogging is rather sporadic, a post here and there, I don't take the best photographs and don't have the most captivating writing style. Truth is, I blog because I hate the thought of, at some point in the future, forgetting memories no matter how small they are. It's a bit of a strange paranoia of mine and I do record my whole day, every day, in a draft blog post, picking out the highlight's and piling them into one monthly roundup post. I feel the need to take photos in every slightly significant moment and will always be disappointed if I don't take enough. In reality, I'm not very good at living in the moment and as Chrissy put it, there's a good chance that I'm documenting my life away. On the other hand, it certainly is nice having something to reflect on and a place where all my achievements and memories are documented, which is why my monthly roundup posts are often my most consistent and I love being able to look back on those. They help me live with more intention, reflecting on what I should do more of and identifying my goals, hopefully inspiring any readers to have a similar mindset. I think blogging is perfect for introverts like myself, we may not be all that great at real life conversations so it's nice to have your own space to escape to and write. I think I just need to focus on enjoying moments in whole rather than thinking about how I'm going to document or talk about them.

In terms of my other posts, I love putting them together and having a chat about things outside of my 'online diary' type posts. I enjoy it. That's why I've decided to expand this blog a bit, I have my Project Life scrapbook now, enabling me to match experiences with photos of friends and family which I don't do on here as I don't want to be plastering their faces online without their permission (as very few know about this blog). Not going to lie, I do get caught up in the whole modern world of blogging which unfortunately has brought with it a lot of self comparison and a constant need for improvement, causing myself to question whether to keep blogging at all. I do want to though, for now, and I'm going to throw a little more lifestyle into What Rachael Wrote with new posts (involving lots of lists) documenting other things in life and I may try and split my monthly roundup posts into smaller posts throughout the month. To be honest, I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this, so I'll leave it here. I'd love to hear your stories about why you blog.

Rachael x

2 March 2015

February 2015

February 2015 was a little quieter compared to the craziness of February of 2014, marking one year since passing my driving test and getting two jobs, one voluntary. I've come a long way since then and one year on from beginning my voluntary role as a peer mentor I was lucky enough to be nominated and one of three shortlisted for volunteer of the year at the Northumberland's Finest awards. I may not have won but I certainly feel honoured to have been shortlisted and the evening itself was so inspiring, hearing stories from young people doing great things, being acknowledged by the duchess of Northumberland and other people who seemed rather important.

Lets talk about V day, because this year was pretty lovely. Bit of background knowledge, Lee isn't one for flowers or cards. So, this year was different as I woke up to the most gorgeous delivery of roses accompanied by a lil teddy, some chocolates and not one, but two cards! Safe to say I went to work smiling, cringe. I decided to get a little more creative this year and bake him some vanilla cupcakes using my trusty Mary Berry recipe book and I think they went down well, note to self though; don't use those hard edible balls for decoration in future, they hurt your teeth. After work, we made last minute plans with our two friends to double date it at a popular, inexpensive Italians (Sambuca's), surprisingly getting seated and served immediately - it was lovely.

Also in February, I enjoyed learning more about happiness in a new uni module, eating the most delicious chocolate croissant paired with a hot chocolate on return from a cold day at uni, upping my weights at the gym, eating my first Sunday roast in months, finally getting round to getting the last of my Project Life supplies, making enchiladas with Lee and actually eating at the table for once and seeing The Theory of Everything with him one night (I loved it, so thought provoking). I feel as if I did a lot of catching up with friends in February which is always a good thing, I met my mamma in town for lunch during a day of uni presentation prep, caught up with two of my girls on pancake day, which of course meant going for pancakes (Nutella obvs), followed by shopping and more food and even more pancakes on my return home. There was a night out with work, drinks with a group of our friends who hadn't gotten together in a while and last but not least, a major highlight of Feb involved standing metres away from The Script at their show in Newcastle with one of my best friends, it was such a great night, I just love the atmosphere at live shows.

Overall, a very good month. I do want to acknowledge the fact that obviously it's never all perfect, we found out that one of our old friends has passed away which was pretty awful and there was that one day where absolutely everything went tits up, but it's never nice to focus on the negatives so I'll leave it at that. I hope you had a wonderful February.

Rachael x

6 February 2015

Lush Valentine's and Other New Bits

After using up all of my Christmas Lush bits there was a huge Lush shaped hole in my life, my baths just weren't the same so the ever so pretty Valentine's collection was the perfect opportunity to stock up. I didn't feel like I needed anything other than bubble bars/bath bombs (there is also a soap, lip scrub, lip gloss and shower gel in the collection as well as another bubble bar, Lonely Heart, which I skipped because it's a little too glitter-tastic for me). The Unicorn Horn bubble bar is definitely the prettiest in every aspect with it's gorgeous colours and the lovely lavender, neroli and ylang ylang essential oils creating a relaxing scent. Heart Throb is a bubble bar (or bubbleroon) which has a gold glitter filled center and claims to turn the water bright red. It contains moisturising shea butter, vanilla, frangipani and geranium oil. Bath bomb wise, Floating Flower promises a rainbow of colours, created with jasmine, ylang ylang and cypress oil. For some reason, Love Locket doesn't seem to currently appear online, however, it is a huge bath bomb big enough for three baths with a hidden bath bomb inside filled with paper hearts and shiny red agar seaweed hearts, cute! The scent is similar to the others with vanilla, jasmine and neroli essential oils, I can safely say there isn't a scent I don't like and I'm so excited to have some Lush goodness back in my life.

I know Lush hauls have been everywhere recently so I thought I'd mix it up and throw in some other recently purchased bits and bobs. The boots were a steal at £25, reduced from £50 in the New Look sale, I was in desperate need of some new boots after my other ones bit the dust and these fitted the bill quite nicely, although they did rip the back of my right foot to shreds on the first wear. In the same sale I found this gem of a grey roll cowl neck jumper (apparently that neck is a thing) for £10, a perfect basic piece which fits rather nicely. I also picked up the REN glycolactic radiance renewal face mask from ASOS after hearing so much about it for the bargain price of £24 (now £25.50), reduced from £30 and I'm hoping it will do my skin some good. Lastly, I've been loving more simlple, dainty jewellery so this hamsa hand necklace from Topshop was a must buy and I've barely taken it off since.

What have you been buying lately?
Rachael x

1 February 2015

January 2015

I'm sure we all agree, January certainly isn't one of the best months of the year, dull seems a good way to describe it. Maybe it's because of the bitter coldness and desperation for warmer weather or the return to normal life following the party period. Don't get me wrong it hasn't been all that bad but it did set off to a slow start with exams soon following after new year, so disheartening having to even think about substituting lazy Christmas days in front of the TV stuffing my face with far too much chocolate with plain, boring, revision. I don't even know how my exams went so we shall leave it at that and keep our fingers, and toes, crossed.

Obviously our anniversary weekend away to the Lake District was the major highlight of January, four years together was celebrated in our favourite place, making more memories, even if they were as simple as a walk along lake Windemere and the gorgeous snowy views. Also, to make up for the loss of festivities and excitement, I took the 'out with the old, in with the new' phrase quite literally and made a few pretty big purchases this month, upgrading both my car (FINALLY!) and my laptop ( this Acer number - loving it). My new car is an ever so gorgeous Ford Ka Zetec in white and I am well and truly in love, it feels good to actually have a working radio and working buttons on my car keys this time. Don't get me wrong, my little Corsa will always have a place in my heart but it was time to say goodbye. More highlights come in the form of cinema trips; one to see Dumb and Dumber 2, I'm still trying to decide if it was actually funny or just very, very weird and the other to see Taken 3 which, although I still enjoyed it, it definitely wasn't as good as the previous two, there was a lack of the typical Liam Neeson action but I suppose we can forgive him considering he's now at the age of 62 (yes you read right - sixty two!).

On the surface January was a good month, with things making me smile, such as a customer gifting me with a box of chocolates after finding her lost earring and the birthday party I attended with the girls and boys from work but there's something about January that just makes it seem a bit meh, and it seems to have left me dreaming of travel, maybe this is a sign that I should start making some plans. Here's to February, please bring us some warmer weather.

Rachael x

23 January 2015

The Lake District

The Lake District has soon become mine and Lee's favourite place to escape to for a relaxing weekend and that's exactly what we decided to do last weekend as a way to celebrate being together for four years. It's not something we usually celebrate but we had been desperate to return to the Lake District for some time away from our everyday lives and thought that this was the perfect opportunity for our third visit, it was lovely to see the scenery in winter this time.
So, after a rather scary drive in the dark, on the hills, in the snow we arrived in Windermere at the most stunning guesthouse, The Cranleigh Boutique, it was somewhere we had had our eye on for ages and when they were offering a winter discount we couldn't say no. Everything about the room was perfect; a huge comfy bed, heated bathroom flooring, gorgeous modern decor, mood lighting and complimentary water, chocolates, pillow spray, lip balm and prosecco. We arrived quite late and we were in need of food so we headed out for pizza before returning to some TV in bed.
We treat ourselves to a lazy morning on the day of our anniversary before getting ready and heading out for breakfast at a nice little cafe. We then stopped by the lake to have a walk and some time in the amusements. There was a pool and spa located in a hotel just around the corner from The Cranleigh which we were able to use for free so later on, that's where we spent the most relaxing few hours in the pool, sauna, ice room and aroma room, we then headed back to get ready for some more good food, returning later to the room, snacks in hand, for another chilled night. 
On our final day we woke up to the prettiest covering of snow, however, this did mean our time was cut short as we were both worrying about the roads so decided to leave pretty early. We had a drive into Keswick, admiring the most beautiful views of the snowy hills on the way, and indulged in some fish and chips before heading home. Overall, we had the best time relaxing together.

Rachael x

5 January 2015

2015 - Looking Forward

Following on from my 2014 reflection, here I am thinking about the year ahead. I feel at a bit of a loss with the whole resolutions thing this year considering I achieved some major goals last year, I suppose the next big thing is moving out, which is something me and Lee have talked about a lot and although we'd both love too, it's expensive and who knows if this year will be the year. We are of course only 19 and in no rush, but after being together for almost four years it would be great to have our own space. Anyway, I have no idea what 2015 has in store but I'm looking forward to it. I already have a weekend in the Lake District and The Script live in the pipeline and I've started the year with a brand new blog design and I absolutely love it, it's a pre-made template from pipdig with some minor changes, the service I received from Phil was fabulous, do you like it?

I think this is the year of focussing on the smaller things and some of my goals include;
 Get my teeth whitened - Something I've wanted to do for ages, since getting my braces off I've been so unhappy with how yellow my teeth are considering I look after them and yes it's very expensive as I'm going to be using my usual dentist (I don't trust the bleach used in salons) but I just keep telling myself it will be worth it.
 Learn to cook - This has been on my resolutions list since January 2013. This year shall be the year. I actually have a Mary Berry cookbook my friends bought me for my 18th (because they know I'm terrible in the kitchen) so it's time to make use of it, we'll say 6 recipes from there and I'll be happy.
 Make a scrapbook - Definitely inspired by Lilly Pebbles' recent video on her project life scrapbook, I've wanted to do something like this for a while and I love how clean and organised project life looks, although I have heard that Hobbycraft are quick selling out of supplies since Lilly's video!
 Buy a new car - Basically, my little Corsa is on it's last legs, it's going to fail it's MOT this month which means no insurance when it's due next month and it's not worth spending money on it as it is a very old, well loved car. I'm just so indecisive when it comes to these things, I've been car searching for months now!
 Finish all university assignments before 11pm the day before they're due - I was pretty bad at leaving them last minute last year but this year I've somehow gotten so much worse, barely starting them until the day before, resulting in some awful mornings after just a few hours sleep.
 Plan things! - all sorts of things, adventures and trips, my future etc (scary thought but more recently I've been thinking about where on earth my degree is going to take me).
♦  Get healthy and toned, try classes - the same old resolution that has appeared on every list. I did get in to a good routine for the first half of last year though so I'm determined to get that back. I may even sign up to a local gym for the summer instead of travelling to the uni one I'm currently at. I also really want to try some exercise classes this year, I'm just so scared of going alone! What classes would you recommend for beginners?
♦ No phones in the morning when Lee's here - a lot of the time he's off to work by the time I wake up but when we do get to spend the morning together, we're usually straight on our phones, checking every social media before we properly acknowledge each other, it's not good!

That turned in to a little bit of a ramble but I could go on for hours, there's something so satisfying about making lists and goals for the year ahead. What are your plans for 2015?
Love, Rachael

1 January 2015

2014 Reflection

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful night last night welcoming in 2015, we celebrated the same as last year, at a house party, and had a great night. For me, I feel like 2014 was the year of achievements, I finally passed my driving test and bagged myself both a paid job and a voluntary job all in one month (two of my 2014 resolutions completed) as well as achieving the grades which enabled me to move to my preferred uni for second year and I'm definitely way happier there.

Other goals which were created this time last year were; do one or more charity events, I ran the race for life back in July so can tick that one off. Add some finishing touches to my bedroom, new curtains, fairy lights and other bits and bobs later I can say my bedroom is now complete, although I do think a bedroom is an ever changing space so I'm sure I'll keep adding to it. I also wanted to learn to cook which has not been a success, I guess this was a forgotten goal which I never even attempted to reach. The cliche get healthy and toned was on my list too and it's rather frustrating because for the first half of the year I was in a great exercise routine and had changed my diet for the better, it wasn't perfect but I was slowly seeing changes, however, we went on holiday and it went completely downhill from there. However, I have recently got back to the gym, I can do this!

Some of the more 'deep' goals on my list were to be more motivated and step out of my comfort zone, I feel like with the addition of two jobs to my routine I've definitely had to be more motivated and I've found that a lot less of my days off have been spent in bed and instead I've been up and about being productive. I definitely found it hard at first, juggling everything, and because so many things happened at once it was quite overwhelming and I didn't give myself the opportunity to step back and praise myself for my achievements. Saying that, I do still lack motivation to do uni work and have spent many sleepless nights trying to complete an assignment for the following day. I've improved my confidence so much by stepping out of my comfort zone which has enabled  me to become way more confident as a driver and make new friends at work. The training for my volunteering role involved going on a residential weekend, with people I didn't know, the thought terrified me but I did it and I'm so glad I did.

Finally, my aim to do more fun things and to document 2014 has also been reached with the help of my monthly round up posts and I've been a bit obsessed with taking photos this year. Some highlights include our holiday to Tenerife, a trip to Flamingo Land, a fantastic stay in a log cabin, a few days spent in York and Lee's birthday surprise to Go Ape. There's definitely been lots of nice cinema trips, drives, gatherings, and meals out along the way too.

It's been a pretty great year, here's hoping 2015 follows in it's footsteps. I hope your 2015 is an amazing one.

Love, Rachael x
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