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28/08/2016


Evening guys! I hope you're having a great Bank Holiday weekend. First of all I just want to apologise for not posting last weekend but it was for a good reason. In case you hadn't notice when you viewed this, I have a new blog layout! We're still working on the logo, but in the meantime I decided to go for a little revamp and refresh it up just a little. I hope you like it as much as I do, please let me know. I'm currently in a really good place right now and genuinely looking forward to planning what my next post will be. Not only that but my love of photography has been reignited and I am finding myself permanently attached to my Olympus Pen e-pl7 at the weekends. Hopefully you have been able to see through the images I have been posted on my social media channels recently. Of course it's not essential but I've also investing into buying new props and backdrops to help my images look as aesthetically pleasing as possible. I just have a pool of ideas floating around in this little mind of mine and I am so excited to transfer it to lens and PC, so to speak. With all that being said I would love to have feedback from the most important people. You. I've been out of the blogging game for a while now, and I need polishing up. So, I would appreciate all the help I can get. Please share to me what would you like to see more of. Is there anything you like or dislike? Honestly really is the best policy.

You may be reading this thinking that the image has no relevance to the content and you would be absolutely right. But I needed a perfect excuse to photograph my new Aspinal of London Marylebone Mini Tote so I took it. It's so beautiful isn't it? For me it's such a classic piece, and I know that regardless of what trend comes in or out of fashion this will always complete a look perfectly. Don't get me wrong if I had spare cash lying around for a new Gucci Dionysus handbag I'd definitely add one to my collection. But, low and behold I'm living my champagne lifestyle on a lemonade (with a touch of prosecco) budget. 

How to do date night on a budget

14/08/2016

Whether you're at the start of a exciting new relationship or like me, in a long term relationship, date nights are incredibly important. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting dressed up, sliding my feet into a beautiful pair of heels and spending time with Liam. Whether that is with a slap-up meal being wined and dined, or as casual as heading out for the day wandering through fields picking our own fruit, I am just as satisfied. That being said, both force us to open the purse strings. In reality, for us, we both can't really afford to spending every day off we have together especially as we have just got back from an expensive holiday not too long ago, and are looking to save to move out together next year. Thus I thought I would share how you can still have great date nights on a tighter budget.

Supermarkets are your best friend - For those evenings when you can't be bothered to wash your hair or even get out of your pyjamas, having date nights sitting at a table with a great meal can be just as enjoyable as spending over £50 for a meal out at a nice restaurant. One of our favourite meals to have together when we are having a date night are either a tapas or cheese board. The above photo including the wine cost us £15. Yes that's right, £15. The key to how I managed to save so much money on this meal was to shop around.

Lidl recently released a new 'Taste of Iberia' range with a huge variation of Spanish delicacies starting from 59p. It's such a shame that some people avoid supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl or try and distance themselves from them when in European countries they are all you see. It's the best way to get some culture into your meals and for me (Liam took some convincing) it just shows that cost doesn't always guarantee taste. Almost all our meats were from here and the cheese too and they tasted so, damn, good. I only picked up a few bits of the range for our tapas night but I could have bought so much more. FYI this post isn't in collaboration with Lidl, I just really like the supermarket.

Not only just for for evenings, an awesome alternative for those days when the sun is shining is to head out and have a picnic together. Picnicking in the park is an adorable and inexpensive classic. Get yourself to the supermarket, grab some of your favourite ingredients to make fingers sandwiches, some sweet treats and a nice bottle of bubbly (or non-alcoholic alternatives are always great too) and you'll both be good to go. 

Netflix and chill - Take that as you will, but Netflix or Sky Movies are a great alternative to spending quality time together; watching a movie, rather than paying what can be up to £30-40 (if you buy snacks, which I definitely do) for a trip for two to the cinema. When you have had a long day at work it can be hard not to just want to just curl up on the sofa, alone, and spend hours catching up on what everyone else has been up to on social media. The best way to avoid this is to agree that for both of you it will be a no phone zone for the duration of the film/series. Power off, relationship on. What is also another positive, again if you're anything like me for those days where getting out of your pyjamas was something definitely not found in your to-do list, it's a great way to get yourself positioned under the duvets, have yourself a little cuddle and spend some quality time together. 

Dust off those old board games - One of my own personal favourites, you will be surprised that even as an adult, countless hours of fun can be found from playing board games as a date idea. Maybe not the greatest idea if you are looking for more of a traditionally romantic setting; as you enter the house to You and Me by Lifehouse finding with rose petals scattered everywhere and only able to see by candlelight. Instead you may find yourself arguing over who's turn is next, or how that was the property you needed to start buying houses. Many a time has this happened in the McAneny-Hopkinson household. Liam is adamant I'm cheating every time we play. The reality? I'm just better at Monopoly than he is. Board games are a really great way of injecting a bit of silliness to a date night, plus you could also have a double date this way as well.

Explore the beautiful outdoors - There is so much to be seen simply from just placing your two feet out the front door. Why don't you both wake up early one morning, put on some comfortable footwear and just go for a walk together. This is perfect for dates that don't lend themselves to real conversation; use the walk to get to know each other and the date for having fun. The days of scavenger hunts may feel long over, but they don’t have to be. You have no idea what you might come across. Plus, they’re easy to organise yourself. Simply make a list of a few things you both may have been wanting to see or do, and head out to find and experience them all.

And that is that. My tips to still having great date days/nights together without breaking the bank. In addition to that too, I think it's exciting to do things together with your better half that are outside the box. Some of the best moments I have had with Liam have where we haven't spent a penny. After all, love doesn't cost a thing. Let me know your thoughts and if you think they may come in handy for you, or if you have some great ideas to add to inexpensive date nights.

Weather Appropriate Workwear

07/08/2016


If you follow me on social media you may already know that recently I changed jobs. My role requires me to dress more professionally than I have previously, however it's quickly became apparent that "workwear" is marketed as simply a white shirt, black trouser and blazer combination, and not much else. I already mentioned in a previous post (which you can read here) that although I have always prided myself on being smartly presented, it is important for my personality to show through. Which made me realise how difficult it can be for the more fashion-savvy individuals to find weather appropriate workwear without being perceived as looking too casual.  


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When you are working 8-9 hour days, being comfortable is absolutely essential. Not only that but when the sun makes an appearance you need to make sure sweat-patches are an absolute no go. All the items featured above are made from lightweight fabrics; cotton, crepe and grosgrain in the hope of keeping the perspiring to a minimum. Quite a lot of people tend to disagree with me but when I am investing the amount of money I do on clothes each month I don't want to dedicate it to two days I have in the week as it's not cost-effective. For me nearly every item I purchase is something I can wear for all occasions, whether that is for work, lunch with friends or a cinema date with Liam. Therefore I feel as though all the items in my workwear wish list can be worn outside of work too.

My favourite item of all those shown above has got to be the floral a-line mini skirt from Topshop. Such a versatile piece that would be suitable for all seasons; whether that is with a thick knit jumper, tights and heeled boots or with a crisp white shirt and lace-up shoes, it will look amazing. For the amount of detail and quality of the fabric too I think £39 is more than reasonable. I can't wait to pick it up on my next pay day. Do you agree that these would pass as acceptable workwear choices? What are your thoughts? I'd love to know, let me know in the comments below.


Alternatives to the Ruffled Shirt:

Alternatives to Gold Brogues:
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Copenhagen in three days

31/07/2016



City breaks are absolutely my favourite kind of holiday. Although beach holidays are great, I love taking the opportunity to learn about other cultures and see the world in the best possible way than within four walls of a complex. Not only that, but in my experience they are usually cheaper too (win-win, right?). My last city break was to Rome in September, which I posted about here, and I thought this time rather than just sharing my photos and a summary of what I got up to I'd give you a better insight into some tips and tricks that really helped us make the most of our holiday, without breaking the bank.

Booking with Airbnb - Some of you may be thinking what is Airbnb? Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people with rooms to share with people who need a place to stay. What really sold it to me was how it offers a different experience from standard hotels. I was lucky enough to have a friend who knew someone originally from Copenhagen, who was able to help us and guide is in the right direction to know where was best to stay. This helped us refine our search to her recommendation of Frederiksberg; which is seen as a quieter district of Copenhagen, yet still within the central region. Airbnb has a variation of homes for every price point leaving you with SO much choice (seriously, if you don't believe me have a look).

We decided to go for Maria and Marco's apartment and it could not have been more perfect for our stay; we had a great selection of cafe and restaurants nearby, and it was only a five minute walk to the metro line to take you into the livelier areas of Copenhagen also. It is also a great way to get tips from a local too. Maria was incredibly helpful leaving us plenty of information sharing her favourite restaurants/hot-spots with us that might otherwise have gone under the radar. As we had kitchen access, it gave us the freedom of going to the supermarket and stocking up on plenty of snacks and breakfast supplies, not only helping us save some money but meaning if at the end of the night we just wanted put our feet up and chill with toasted waffles and chocolate AND a takeout pizza then we could. Giving us a little bit of home from home. Bliss.


Sharing is caring - Even with a little more money in our purse thanks to using Airbnb, be prepared, Copenhagen is not cheap. I exchanged 300 GBP which gave me 2700 DKK for three days, sounds a lot right? Wrong. If you are anything like myself on a city break, I just want to spend, spend, spend. However, Copenhagen had a higher cost of living than I had already anticipated, after being warned by others. After the first day we realised each meal was costing us approximately £20-25 each, so we had to come up with an effective strategy so we could still try all the great food Copenhagen had to offer without stopping us from doing everything else we wanted to do. Everything we would buy we would share, automatically cutting our costs on meals by 50% and I'm sure my waistline was grateful also. An app that has always benefited me greatly when travelling has to be Foursquare. Free to download, Foursquare helps you find the best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit in any city in the world. With ratings from locals it helped us hugely discover restaurants that were not only cost-effective but also served delicious meals.

One meal we knew we had to try; as they are a huge part of the Danish diet, had to be smørrebrød. These open faced sandwiches were a perfect opportunity for us to try so many different varieties that can served without judgment of one plate between two. With the use of Foursquare we decided to visited The Royal Smushi Cafe and what a true haven we found. One of the dreamiest cafes I have ever had the pleasure of dining in, the interior consists of a long room with chandeliers hanging from the wallpapered ceiling, and is adorned with objects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, in a style the cafe calls "Funky Baroque". The walls are graced by some enourmous portraits, and marble-top tables. A bloggers delight. What appealed to us to try the classic Danish dish here, was how they have created a modern, fresh take on the classic open-faced sandwich. They combine Scandinavian ingredients to create bite sized sandwiches, in delicate portions that aesthetically evoke sushi. Although the cafe was slightly on the pricier side than others, it was just too adorable for us to pass up. We shared each dish and enjoyed each and every one, I would highly recommend visiting if you appreciate paying a little more to enjoy the interior and atmosphere the cafe has to offer.



Buy a Travel Guide Book - Without a travel guide and no knowledge on Copenhagen myself and Beca really would have struggled to organise our time successfully. We wanted to embrace everything Copenhagen had to offer, so with the use Lonely Planet Pocket Copenhagen we were able to do this. Managing our expectations on what key areas such as Tivoli Gardens and Nyhavn would cost us to visit, it was a great way to delegate our money so we weren't put in a position where we had no money. Not only did it have a tear-away map of the city, to help us keep our bearings, it provided us with the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries can be found too.



Where to visit - Kongens Nytorv and Strøget are the place to be if you want to do some real shopping. Bursting with cutting-edge Danish fashion brands and interior design shops it was almost enough for me to hand over my card to the cashier and tell her to take all my money. No-one embodies effortless daywear quite like the Scandinavians, with their uncomplicated palettes, simple separates and luxe tailoring. Known for their sporty, casual and effortless style, the Danish are the masters of combining minimalism and functionalism pieces without sacrificing on style. Especially when you are walking over five miles a day, putting comfort first year-round is essential. Flats are 100% the footwear of choice in Copenhagen; think white trainers, sleek plimsolls or a pointed pump.
Nørrebro is an area you must get yourself to if you are into small design shops. Head for the streets Elmegade or Jægersborggade. In Elmegade we found the most amazing vegan ice cream parlour Nicecreamcopenhagen. All handmade with fresh, natural and organic ingredients we ordered the acai and peanut butter bowls to taste. Even though it is healthier than "normal" ice-cream it is one of the best ice creams I have ever tasted. Although it was was quite expensive at 59 DKK (£6.50 approximately) to think it was just for a bowl of ice-cream, however it was huge and definitely filled us enough to last us until dinner time.

With the exception of Venice, Copenhagen is one my favourite city breaks to date. As a sufferer of anxiety I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable and safe I felt regardless of what time of day it was. Usually with a capital city, such as when I visited Rome, you are sadly surrounded with lots of beggars, thieves, and people trying to sell you stuff. This would make me feel constantly on edge knowing that once it went past a certain time walking around was a no-go as it was no longer safe. For me, the constant invasion of my personal space honestly has put me off going again. This was not the case with Copenhagen at all. With its warm, sociable feeling I was able to walk around at ease and talk to others without thinking if they had an ulterior motive. What was also a mega bonus was how on every corner you could find a bakery. I definitely ate enough pastries and cakes to set up my own patisserie. Feeling a little peckish after breakfast? Grab a cinnamon Swirl. Need something to fill you until dinner time? Chocolate puff pastry sounds good. You see a theme arising here, right? Two of the best we visited were Emmerys Bakery which was only a matter of steps from our apartment in Frederiksberg and also BRØD. If you are visiting you have to try them out.


How Hairaisers gave me my confidence back

15/05/2016


I’ve already discussed in detail (maybe too much for some) that over the last year I hadn’t been feeling too great about myself, albeit people may think it's quite shallow but one of the reasons was a result of cutting my hair short again and regretting it almost instantly. With a few vocal outbursts; via social media, declaring my desire for long lustrous locks again one day in November I noticed a message enter my inbox asking me if I would be interested in wearing extensions. Now I know what you're thinking, that it has taken me a while to get round to writing this review however I made the decision that in order to write an honest and genuine review on a product which I had never used before such as fitted hair extensions, I wanted to experience the full process; from the initial fitting to the removal and subsequently another re-fit of the hair, before sitting down to write this. I'm completely aware that the experience we may have with with hair extensions can differ from each individual. I found that those with the money to buy the highest quality brands or with celebrity status always would have the hair that looked amazing, however I was also incredibly aware of how they can also be the polar opposite. Some horror stories I've heard from others of how they were left with bald patches, the hair looking unnatural or cheap-looking certainly left me with a feeling of slight hesitation to commit straight away.

The style of extension I was offered to review were the Hairaisers Blue Label Professional Weft. The usual association with a weave being one long strip of hair sewn in to the hair, this method may have the tendency to cause strain on the scalp due to the weight. In comparison the style of extension I was fitted with composes of three pieces of hair distributed evenly and then sewn throughout the hair. Using this process allows a more natural finish and blends the hair evenly.  Online they have an amazing variety of different tones and shades of hair pieces with a variety of lengths and styles; straight, natural waved or even curled. And of course it is 100% remy human hair. I definitely recommend doing your own research with any beauty treatment that could potentially cause permanent damage in order to decide if it is right for you. After a week of deliberation and weighing up all the pros and cons I was ready to take the plunge.

First Impressions

Of all the varieties and methods extensions that can be fitted this seemed to be the most natural and less damaging to my own hair. Upon the initial meeting with Hairaisers educator Tom he could see I was feeling nervous at the concept of walking into the unknown but after some reassuring words those emotions of nervousness changed to that of excitement. With this method of application you are advised to have the hair re-fitted or removed every 8-10 weeks which meant that if I had decided it wasn't for me it would only be two months to wait and I could go back to my usual extension-free self. That being said as soon as the hair was fitted the first thing I noticed was how lightweight it felt on my scalp. I had gone in with the impression that by having hair sewn in to my scalp that it would feel like someone had a weight on my head pulling me down so that was a pleasant surprise. Not only that, I was amazed with how amazing of a colour match the hair was considering it had been matched by a photo sent over to Tom with no meeting prior to the fitting. It blended in so natural and felt quite literally just like my own hair. The extensions were 16 inches in length, however I chose to have them trimmed to my desired length. The reason I chose to do this was to make the whole process from my natural length of hair just above the collarbone to longer hair not as much a huge jump, and secondly once fitted to keep the overall look to be natural as possible.

The First Twelve Weeks

If you pride yourself as low-maintenance and spending a bit more time and money on your hair is not something you are interested in, then maybe extensions are not the product for you. One of the main reasons extensions can end up looking matted or of a poor quality is down to how you take care of them. My attitude was to treat them like it was my own hair. Perhaps with just a smidgen more TLC. Cleansing and conditioning is essential to keeping your hair clean, soft and shiny so of course I want to do the same for my hair extensions! I invested in some essential products that I believe are the secret to keeping the hair in tip-top condition.

The first of these products had to be a Tangle Teezer. The teeth flex and flick as they glide through the hair making it the perfect brush for detangling the hair without getting caught in the threads which can loosen the weft quicker than expected. Not only this I had to make myself a new conditioning and moisturizing routine. I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t neglect your hair underneath the sew-in just because it is less visible than your extensions. I decided to purchase the Kérastase Elixir Ultime shampoo and conditioner duo to make sure I was giving my hair the best care. The shampoo left my hair full of body, revived and beautifully soft and I cannot recommend it enough. Pairing this with a quality hair oil and heat protecting spray before styling ensured that at no point I was compromising the quality of the hair due to neglecting the hair. I tried to only wash my extensions only once a week as they don't need cleaning as much as your own hair. Let's just say I've went through quite a few bottles of dry shampoo... Hey! I'm not complaining. Alternatively I would tie my extensions back and wash my own hair in-between washes so you are still able to look as good it does when you wash your full head. Although advised to only wear the hair for 8-10 weeks at a time, I had to wait two weeks longer before scheduling another appointment with Tom due to conflicting schedules. Over this period as the weft was completely loose (not detached don't worry!) I did notice that the extension becomes more visible, which is understandable as it has no control of the threads keeping it in place securely as it once did. That being said with a little bit of extra time concealing the parts that were visible with hair grips and hairspray you would be none the wiser.

Now I'm sure you're wondering what feedback did I receive? Thankfully all comments were nothing but positive comments regarding my hair. Some of my friends didn't even realise they were extensions. The only way they believed me was when I lifted up my hair to show them! The best possible reaction right? For months I went without without even wanting to look at myself in the mirror and now I'm positing selfies left, right and centre on all my channels (mainly snapchat @charissarae17). I feel like the best version of myself when my hair has been freshly coloured and styled and I feel like I am ready for the day brings me no matter what.

Lasting Impressions: To Remove Or Re-Fit?


Overall, I love how my hair looks and Hairaisers extensions really have gave me my confidence back. My hair is the best it has ever looked regardless of whether I've styled it at that moment or three days later. It still looks amazing. I have the flexibility to tie it up or wear it down without feeling restricted. However, that being said this confidence comes at a cost. I promised to be honest about my experience and there have been moments of frustration. It was annoying to me that there was some hairstyles I was unable to wear because it would have made the hair visible or as a result of where the hair was fitted made it impossible to move and position it to how I would have liked. But then on the flip-side if I didn't have my extensions fitted in the first place I wouldn't have been able to create such a hairstyle anyway. As my hair would be too short. These emotions were more from the realisation that this hair wasn't really my own. After 25 weeks of wear I am now at the second stage of the process where I am due a new set to be fitted. With my birthday not far away, in 5 weeks and travelling to Copenhagen in close succession at only 7 weeks away, I was incredibly excited to go through the emotions again of having a brand new set of locks as I did in December. However after discussions myself and Hairaisers may not be able to work with this timescale. Which means there is a high possibility I may have to get the extensions removed and go back to my natural hair, which is quite upsetting. I've become reliant on a product to make me feel good and until my hair grows back I know my approach is not going to change. I could be placed in a position where I am essentially being given an involuntary haircut at the time when I want to look and feel at my best. What am I going to do? Who knows. But I know that I can't thank Hairaisers enough for giving me my confidence back and that I have loved every minute of having the hair in and I'm hoping for a miracle so it doesn't have to go.



Spring Summer '16 at Intu

03/04/2016


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