Inform. Inspire. Innovate

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Christmas Tree Delivery in London

Christmas is definitely the most magical time of the year. Maybe not so magical now we're adults and actually have to work pretty much up until the big day, but I always like the plan a month of fun activities to get in the Christmas spirit. What could get you in the mood more than decorating the Christmas tree?! 


When I found out about Fantastic Services and their option to get a Christmas tree delivered in London, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out. The perfect tree is a big deal and I have to say I was dubious about what would arrive. Would it be too big? Too small? My biggest worry was would it be thick and bushy enough? My absolute biggest pet hate is a sparsely branched tree with big gaps. So obviously. the inquisitive side of me just had to give it a go and see if it's worthwhile trusting someone else to pick the ginormous tree that stays in our living room for a whole month.

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Thursday, 2 November 2017

How To Get Motivated and Keep Motivated to Exercise

Getting into a routine in the gym can be such a hard feat, especially when you're not a natural gym bunny. I'll be the first to admit, it wasn't that long ago that I had never stepped foot in a gym in my life, always ducked out of P.E lessons at school and the only kind of exercise I got was dancing the night away in a nightclub at Uni. Since leaving Uni and getting older (eww), I've realised the weight just doesn't stay off like it used to so I have gone from not even knowing what a gym looks like inside, to practically living there.

How To Get Motivated and Keep Motivated to Exercise
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Monday, 2 October 2017

Wedding Dress Shopping at Windsor and Eton Brides

Since April, my life has been consumed with all things weddings, and of course the most important thing on my mind right now, is the dress. The dress, THE dress I've dreamed of my whole life. I've had a Pinterest board of my dream dresses for the past year so I pretty much know what I want but boy did I underestimate how long it would take me to find the perfect match. 

As exciting as wedding dress shopping is, and it truly is exciting to feel like a princess trying on all of these amazing gowns, but in all honesty, I've found the process very stressful and overwhelming. So far, I've been to four wedding dress shops and the experience at each of them has been completely different, which has made me realise how important a stress free environment is for finding your perfect gown. 

Two of the four dress shops I've visited made me feel so pressured to buy a particular dress to the point that I actually felt sick at making the decision. One of them said I should cancel all of the other bridal appointments I had arranged that day and she would actually give me money off a dress to do so. Now, I don't like feeling forced into anything, ESPECIALLY when I'm paying thousands of pounds for what I feel is the most important dress I've ever worn. 

Appointments like the one mentioned above really made me realise how important it is to find a bridal shop I felt comfortable in, and as soon as I stepped into Windsor and Eton Brides, I felt that. There were so many things I absolutely loved about the appointment, I felt absolutely compelled to write this post and encourage any other bride to be's to visit them for a calm, stress free appointment. 

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Instagram Algorithm, Shadow Banning and Pods Explained

I think we can all agree that there's a general consensus throughout the blogging community right now that Instagram is going down the pan, but I couldn't disagree more. With the new(ish) changes to the algorithm, I personally think people's issues with the platform are because they don't fully understand how to use it, or what the algorithm is actually doing. This in turn is made even worse by so many people spreading incorrect information over social media. 

Every day I'm seeing people getting so upset with the platform and I'm also seeing others discussing information that quite frankly, is completey incorrect, which is why I wanted to write this post. I'm not saying I'm an expert on Instagram at all. I don't have loads of followers and it's not a platform I particularly try really hard to grow for my blogs sake. I just like sharing my own photos, and like looking at others. I feel like I understand how the algorithm works so I wanted to share this with everyone to try and reduce all of these myths that are flying around.



First things first, Instagram is not out to 'screw us', this is a phrase I'm seeing on a daily basis (and worse). Think about it, Instagram is, at the end of the day, a business. Without their customers i.e US, they have nothing, so it's only in their best interests to create a platform that meets everyone's needs. The new algorithm hasn't been created to affect any of us in a negative way, it is meant to make the customer experience better. 

So let me explain how it works...

The new algorithm works by taking into account our activity on Instagram, and giving us more of what we like essentially. If we like a certain type of photos, similar photos will show on our feed and discover tabs. If we like/comment/interact with certain people's photos and accounts regularly, the more you will see them on your feed. If you regularly check someone's account, the chances of their photos appearing on their feed is higher. Instagram is trying to do the thinking for us, by showing us the photos they think we'll like. 

Why don't some people's photos show on my feed?

If someone's photos aren't appearing on your feed, there's two things you can do. Firstly, go to their profile and turn notifications on. This will alert you every time they post which means you'll never miss a thing. But of course, we can't do that for everyone. If you want someone to start appearing on your feed, you just need to start interacting with them more. It may take doing it a couple of times for Instagram to work out you'd like to see their posts but manually go to their profile and like and comment on their photos. If you do this a couple of times, I guarantee they'll start appearing on your feed. You also have to continually interact with their content for it to keep appearing. Trust me, it does work, I've tested it on loads of people. 

Why is our feed out of chronological order?

One of the biggest changes Instagram has made recently is to change our feeds out of chronological order. Since this change was first released, Instagram has made an update to it which I've definitely noticed, for the better. The whole point is Instagram is meant to be showing us the photos they think we'll like near the top, regardless of time. I personally think this change has helped my interaction from followers. Before the update, I used to get likes and comments on photos for quite a short amount of time after posting but now the time I post doesn't really matter and the likes and comments seem to come in for a much longer period of time. This means that my content is appearing on people's feeds for a lot longer than previously with the chronological order. 

Whilst I understand we don't want to be seeing people's breakfasts at dinner time and we want to see what people are posting today, not yesterday, in terms of the time in which our content is shown on our follower's feeds, this update has really helped with increasing interaction on my posts. 

How can I be seen more by my followers on their feeds?

The simple answer to this is to encourage our followers to interact with our photos. Once they start liking our content, it'll be more likely to be shown on their feed. The best way I've found to do this, is by interacting with their content too. Taking time to follow, like, comment on other people's profiles is often reciprocated and it's a circle of increased interaction for both parties. 

This is a social media platform at the end of the day, and this requires social interaction from both sides. We cannot expect to never interact with other people's content but expect them to like and comment on ours. 

Are Instagram pods helping to beat the algorithm? 

For those who haven't already heard of them, an instagram pod is a private group chat of members who make a commitment to like and comment on everyone else's content. Some have very strict rules like every member needs to like and comment by XX time, otherwise they're removed, and others are more relaxed. So based on what I've said above, this is the reason Instagram pods were born. People think that if they're in a pod, it's grauratneed engagement, making their post look popular, and making them feel better about having higher 'engagement' and that their posts will show on more people's feeds. 

But do they really help increase your engagement? Not really. An instagram group can only have a maximum of 15 people (I think it's 15 any way), so yes, due to those 14 other people liking and commenting on your content, you may have a few more likes and comments than normal, and your content may appear on those 14 people's feeds more often, but it's probably not going to help you reach new audiences, which is meant to be the goal isn't it? Instagram knows that the same people are liking every single photo, every single time, and that the popularity of that photo is contrived, and not natural engagement. 

Most importantly however, instagram isn't silly. Like any website and social media platform, they are completely against inauthentic engagement and they're already putting rules into place to stop this. There are limits on how many times you can like or comment within a certain time frame to specifically stop this behaviour. I've seen plenty of bloggers who are in pods have a short term ban on instagram due to overuse. Everyone I've seen so far be banned on instagram has been involved with pods - not a coincidence. These rules put in place are already making it more difficult for people who are in pods to like and comment on everyone's posts regularly. My personal opinion is that at some stage, people who use instagram pods will be punished by Instagram. We've seen it happen with Google and people selling and swapping links, so I wouldn't be surprised if Instagram follows suit. 

Personally for me, being in a pod means fake engagement. We shouldn't need to TELL people to like and comment on our content, they should do it if they genuinely do like it, and it be of their own choice. It's pretty obvious the people who are in a pod because every single photo has the same kind of comments from exactly the same people each time, and it doesn't look good, and Instagram is on to it. 

Shadow banning

Another issue currently hitting many influencers is 'shadow banning'. Basically the issue of our posts not showing when certain hashtags are used, which therefore decreases our overall visibility and decreases our potential engagement. I've seen a lot of people say they've been shadow banned, and when I look on their profile, they're using the same irrelevant hashtags all the time. I'm not saying it's the case with everyone, but this is just one of my observations. 

Shadow banning is again, another way for Instagram to be cutting back on on people trying to cheat the system and people who spam. Examples I've seen of people being shadow banned are those that use popular hashtags on irrelevant posts. For example, #KylieJenner is a popular hashtag, there are almost 10 million posts on instgram using this hashtag, but are all 10 million posts actual photos that have any relation to Kylie Jenner? No. See the point? If you're posting a photo of make up, but using the hashtag #luxurytravel for example, Instagram sees that as spam because you're purposely using irrelevant hashtags in order for your content to be seen on popular hashtags, hence why you get shadow banned. Same goes for all the people that use #like4like #l4l etc - Instagram sees this as spam. 

So how not to get shadow banned? Use relevant hashtags and don't overuse them for the sake of it. Basically use hashtags for the reason they were intended; to allow people to search for relevant content. 

How can I use the new algorithm to grow followers?

Like I said, I'm not an expert on Instagram at all, but from my observations, talking to other people about the platform and from doing a lot of online research, the best advice I can give is hard graft. Everyone knows instagram is a hard platform to grow but it is possible,

  • Post regularly 
  • Post unique/your own content - don't copy other people's photos or take things from Pinterest
  • Use relevant hashtags, and not always the same ones - unless they are completely relevant to the photo
  • Follow/comment/like other people's photos
  • Don't use any kind of automated system or bot
  • Don't overuse the platform to the point that Instagram might think you're spamming
  • Promote your instagram account on other social media platforms
  • 'Follow trains' on Twitter and Facebook are a great way to find and interact with new bloggers
Problems Instagram still has to face

Of course Instagram isn't perfect and still has many issues to face, more so than any other platform in my opinion. There is an extremely large amount of people using bots and automated systems that really needs to stop. These systems either follow loads of people then unfollow them straight away, or mass like  and comment on photos. I'm sorry to say that even some of my friends use them/have used them, which upsets me greatly.

There is a large amount of people buying followers, which is something I've also seen a lot in the blogging community but I know the rest of us are waiting for the day when we wake up and those bloggers followers have completely dropped overnight.

I think there is a general mistrust in Instagram. It is a very hard platform to grow a following on, which is why a lot of people have turned to underhand tactics. A few years ago Instagram got rid of thousands of dead/fake accounts and so many people lost thousands of bought followers overnight, I'm just waiting for the day this happens again.

The point is, Instagram IS trying to make the platform a better place for all of us. They are trying to stop spam and stop people cheating the system so if we play the game right, we should have no problems. For now, the best we can do is support each other and use the platform in the way it is intended.

Feel free to leave your instagram links below.

Love Lauren xx
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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

What it's like to fly Business Class with British Airways

If you follow me on any kind of social media, particularly Instagram or read my life update blog post, you'll know how much I've been travelling this year. It's literally been crazy. I feel really lucky to have a job where I get to see the world, especially when they're places on my bucket list. Sky high on my bucket list was flying business class on a long haul flight and back in June, I got the chance! 

What it's like to fly Business Class with British Airways
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Friday, 11 August 2017

British Afternoon Tea Scone Recipe

It's only been in recent years that I've found my love of scones, and I have no idea why I went so long without them! I've only ever had freshly baked scones from going for afternoon teas, and it had never really crossed my mind that shop bought scones would be any different. 

This Easter I wanted to serve scones, cream and jam for dessert on Easter Sunday but when I picked them up at the supermarket, the scones felt really heavy, thick and doughy. Scones to me are light and fluffy so I decided to make them myself, which was definitely the best decision!

Yet again, another really simply recipe for you to try at home. These scones may not look as perfectly shaped as they did in the supermarket but they were light fluffy and even better, warm!

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Homemade Iced Bun Recipe

I'm going to start this recipe off by saying IT IS NOT EASY. I found this online with a big ginormous title saying 'Easy Iced Buns'. I was completely duped because they were not easy, and they took a looooong time. But, but but but, when they were finally done, they did taste amazing.

So if you have the patience, keep reading!



Ingredients
500g white bread mix - this was my first mistake - I bought bread flour, not bread mix... back to the shop I went. BUY BREAD MIX!
100g caster sugar
1 egg
350g icing sugar
Sprinkles and food colouring

Instructions

Pulse together the bread mix and sugar in a food processor or table-top mixer. While the motor is running, add the egg and about 250-300ml lukewarm water, until a soft dough is formed. This may have been my second mistake, because I was lazy and didn't use a mixer, I did it by hand. Which was okay, but I'll be using a mixer next time!

Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 5-10 mins. What the original recipe doesn't tell you, is that the mixture is sooooo wet at this stage its virtually impossible to knead. I made the biggest mess ever, but still, I tried.

Leave in an oiled bowl, covered with oiled cling film, in a warm place until doubled in size – about 1 hr.

Divide into 20 even-sized pieces, shape each into a sausage and place on an oiled baking tray. This was my biggest issue as the dough was sooo wet I found it impossible to shape into anything sausage like so I ended up just dumping what I could on to the tray. In hindsight, I should have added more flour or less water to make the mixture more manageable - we live and learn!

Cover with oiled cling film and rise until doubled in size again. Okay so ours didn't double in size, and to be honest we were both bored and hungry by this stage so they went into the oven after rising a little. I'm a bad baker, I know.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Remove film and cook buns on top shelf for 8-10 mins, until golden. Golden, I burnt ours...

Decorate when completely cool (otherwise the icing will melt and run off and you'll end up in a big sticky mess). To decorate, mix icing sugar with a little water until stiff but spreadable – add food colouring, if you want to sass them up and sprinkle them like you've never sprinkled before

So, in all honestly, my iced buns were a little disastrous, but mainly because I didn't read the recipe in advance and was being extremely inpatient when it comes to proving. As they still tasted good even with me messing up almost every step, the perfectionist in me wants to try them again and do it properly this time because they'll be sooooo good if done properly... I'll keep you updated.

If you're brave enough to try this recipe, let me know, I want to see photos!!!

Good luck!

Love Lauren xx






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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

M&M Cookie Dough Bar Recipe

If you’ve followed any of my recipes before, you’d know they are usually very very simple, because my skills in the kitchen don’t really go beyond shoving everything in a bowl and putting it in the oven. That being said, as simple as these recipes might be, they always turn out delicious so who needs a crazy complicated recipe anyway?!

These M&M cookie dough bars were an instant winner when I first made them so it’s definitely a recipe I’ll be trying again. They’re soft, slightly gooey, not quite a cookie but not quite cake, the perfect in between.



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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Best Pool Floats of Summer 2017

There's no denying that creative and unique pool floats are the big thing of the summer. I know I for one, am obsessed with them and have already started a quickly growing collection. My mermaid tail, which I have to admit is one of the best floats I've found so far was a massive hit on social media so I wanted to put together a post of all the best floats I can find so you can all get ready for your summer holidays.

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Monday, 17 July 2017

Things no one told me about getting engaged...

If you read my previous post about my blogging break, or follow me on any kind of social media, you will know that in April, Luke and I got engaged. It was partly a shock and partly not. I knew it was coming at some point this year, but at that very moment, I could not have been more surprised to see him down on one knee. I genuinely thought he’d fallen over!

As I’m the first one of my close friends to get engaged, I didn’t really know how I would feel or what to expect. I was sat on the plane earlier this week going to work in Amsterdam and it got me thinking about everything I’ve thought and felt in these last few months and that’s when I decided to write it all down, particularly the things no one told me…


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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Kiehl's Skincare Consultant and Product Recommodations for Dry Skin

I recently spent the weekend in my hometown of Reading visiting my parents for Mother’s Day and taking Jenny to Nirvana Spa. Whilst in the Oracle I noticed a new shop had opened up and was really excited to see it was Kiehl’s. I’ve heard a lot about their skincare and have read review after review but having never visited a shop or seen the products in real life, I’ve never purchased anything.

Whilst having a browse in the shop, the sales assistants asked if we wanted to have a skin consultation. I was a little reluctant as we didn’t have much time before needing to leave for the spa but we agreed as we both wanted to learn more about the brand and their products.

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Summer #OOTD - Long Sleeve Deep Plunge Playsuit from Boohoo

It’s finally that time of year when my wardrobe becomes lighter, brighter and more fun. As much as I will always love my trusty all in black outfits for those days when I don’t really want to think about what to wear, there’s so much I love about the vibrancy of my summer wardrobe. I’m definitely more of a summer girl which is why every year, around this time, I fill my wardrobe with so many beautiful spring and summer clothes to see me through the next 6 months. Hooray to not having to wear a big thick coat and scarf every day which covers up a nice outfit.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go on a blogger holiday to Lanzarote so of course my wardrobe needed updating before I went. I knew it was going to be warm in the day but more chilly at night so I searched my favourite online clothes website Boohoo for the perfect outfits. 



My new favourite playsuit, Ada Long Sleeve Deep Plunge Wrap Floral Playsuit is my latest addition. I fell in love with this the second I saw it, and even more so when I tried it on. I always struggle with anything that is floor length as I’m only 4’10 so everything is super long, but as this is only long at the back, it’s absolutely perfect. I know I probably should get it taken up a bit as it drags on the floor but it feels so sassy like it is when the wind gets under it the sun shines through the sheer fabric.

The playsuit has a zip on the side which makes it easy to get in and out of, and a plunging neckline. It does have long sleeves but the material is light so it definitely doesn’t feel too hot. 






As I'm off to Jamaica in just a couple of week, let me know if you have any recommendation of places to get some good summer clothes!

Love Lauren xx

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Friday, 10 March 2017

Career Guest Post: Working as a Pub/Restaurant Manager

Name: Ayla Ackroyd Johnson (Ayla Johnson on Social Media)

Blog: Anxious Agony Aunt

Industry: Hospitality 

Job title: Assistant Manager of a pub/restaurant



Description of job role & industry: 

Helping to run a pub and be a good team leader for your colleagues. Hospitality is a great industry to start off in as it really helps to give you a confidence boost & set you in the right direction.
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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Career Guest Post: Working as an Actress

For most the idea of a sick day, lounging in bed and binging on Netflix, although not entirely enjoyable, is a welcome relief from the daily grind of work. But for me, as I write this from my sick bed, I am desperate to find my way back to work. And that’s because I absolutely love my job. So when Laura from Blonde Vision was seeking Guest Bloggers to write for her Careers feature I jumped at the chance.

I am lucky enough to be a working actress. I am currently one of the ensemble actors in the West End production of Les Misérables, and I quite frankly have to pinch myself on a daily basis.




I, Kayleigh McKnight, goofy 25 year old girl from a tiny town on the borders of Essex, have somehow wangled my way into show business.
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Career Guest Post: Working as a Digital Marketing Strategist

Name: Poppy


Industry: Marketing and Advertising

Job Title: Digital Marketing Strategist

Poppy May


Brief description of job role and industry:

I work at a digital agency in London which is a place that helps businesses and people alike really get a hold on their online presence, be it through web design, development or online marketing. My job is to basically take care of all of our clients social media channels and other online content. I create content as well as analyse their outcomes. I then proceed to improve the content in various ways to get more traction. 

An average day consists of recording the progress of campaigns I am managing through various analytics reports, writing blog posts, sending out social media updates and creating email campaigns. I pretty much spend all of my time online but I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Career Guest Post: Working as a Social Media Manager at The Fashion Retail Academy

Name: Chloe Blake


Industry: Fashion

Job Title: Social Media Manager at The Fashion Retail Academy

Chloe Blake

Brief description of job role and industry:


My role includes managing all of the FRA's social platforms, assisting with events, creating direct mail campaigns, advising on fashion courses + careers, managing all general queries relating to the FRA, speaking to our alumni students, blogger outreach and much more.

An average day consists of...My day will normally consist of catching up on emails first thing over a matcha latte, checking our applications to see what courses need focusing on promotion wise, schedule social media posts, read the latest fashion news, see what's happening around the academy in search of content for our social media, meeting with potential students at the FRA showing them around or helping out at our open days!
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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Gunns Designs

So first of all let me start by saying that Jack didn't pay me to write this post, nor did he even ask me to write this (probably because he doesn't ask anyone for anything, ever). It's written out of my absolute awe of Jack's talents and my want to spread the word so that his talent can be recognised. Because if anyone deserves to live their dream, it's Jack. 

Gunns Designs, hand drawn prints
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Raising Awareness of Parkinson's with #ReadEatBlog

Charity has always been really important to me and something I always try and incorporate into the blogger events I organise via LDN meet up. I feel very strongly that as bloggers we have a platform and a voice to raise awareness of causes, events, charities that are important to us. Personally, I also like to get other people involved in my love for charity by raising money at LDN meet up events and volunteering together. 

Whilst I have previously run many charity focused blogger events, I raise awareness on social media but my blog always gets forgotten about which is something I vowed to change in 2017. 


Raising Awareness of Parkinson's


This weekend I finally put on an event that I've had the idea for for over a year but have never got around to actually organising it. The idea behind #ReadEatBlog was for a group of bloggers to meet up in a casual setting, a pub or restaurant and everyone brings along a book (or books) to put in a sack. We then spread all the books out and for however many books you added to the pile, you got to take that many home with you, so the idea is that everyone leaves with new books. Of course the most important part of the event was that everyone who attended donated an amount to charity. 

The charity for this event was chosen by Becky as Parkinson's. I'm so delighted to say that the 9 of us raised £71.50 between us for Parkinson's which is so great. I'm really proud of everyone's generosity for the cause as their work is so vital. Research costs so much money, they really do need every penny to continue their work. 

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition caused by the lack of dopamine because some of their nerve cells in their brain have died. The lack of dopamine means movements can become slower and other symptoms can start showing signs. 
Symptoms

Main symptoms of Parkinson's include, tremor (shaking), slowness of movement, rigidity (stiffness) but can also include other symptoms such as, bladder and bowel problems, falls and dizziness, fatigue, speech and communication problems, swallowing problems, hallucinations and delusions and memory problems and many more. 

Scale of Parkinson's

There's currently no cure for Parkinson's and we don't yet know why people get the condition but one person in every 500 has Parkinson's. That's about 127,000 people in the UK. Most people who get Parkinson's are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too. 

Where does our money go?

Parkinson's are currently supporting over 50 groundbreaking Parkinson's research projects worth over £20million across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to work towards more understanding and eventually a cure.

Here are just a few examples of how our support can make a difference to the work that Parkinson's does:

£5 could pay for a week of nutrients to grow brain cells in the lab for research.
£14 could pay for one of their helpline advisers to give someone newly diagnosed the support and information they need
£20 could fund an hour of care from a specialist Parkinson's nurse
£40 could pay for an education session in a hospital ward
£250 could fund a day of research

For every £1 donated, 80p is sent on making life better for people with Parkinson's and 20p is spent on raising the next £1.

World Parkinson's Day

11 April 2017 marks 200 years since Parkinson's was first recognised as a medical condition. To mark this day, Parkinson's are asking everyone to unite and raise awareness about Parkinson’s by using the hashtag #UniteForParkinsons. Just using the hashtag on social media on the day will help, but for more ideas of ways to get involved visit www.worldparkinsonsday.com.

Help and more information

For help and information on Parkinson's, please see below for their contact details.

Call their confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303
Or email hello@parkinsons.org.uk.
See what help is available in your local area.

Thank you to everyone who came to #ReadBlogEat, There will be more book related events coming to LDN meet up as well, of course, as lots more charity events. 

Please take a moment to read up about Parkinson's and spread the word about #UniteForParkinsons

Love Lauren xx
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Monday, 20 February 2017

Wolf & Whistle SS17 OOTD

Wolf & Whistle is a brand I've known of for a while after finding them on ASOS when looking for swimwear for a fuller bust, but there is so much more to the London based brand than can be found just on ASOS. 

If you go directly to their website, you'll see their full range of absolutely beautiful pieces from dresses, to jackets to skirts. It is blindingly obvious that each design is constructed with the end consumer in mind making clothes that are comfortable, practical, beautiful and wearable. But the clothes are only the start of the things I love about Wolf & Whistle. 

wolf and whistle Floral flutter sleeve playsuit
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Friday, 17 February 2017

Recipe: Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Fudge Icing

If you hadn't already seen plastered all over my social media, it was recently my best friend Charlotte's birthday so what better way to celebrate than with her favourite thing - chocolate orange! I really enjoy baking (although it's not so much fun when 1. I'm doing it on my own and 2. I'm on a diet), and wanted to give something new a go. My Chocolate Orange Shortbread recipe went down really well and a couple of people even tried it themselves which makes me super proud and that squirmy type of happy so hopefully everyone likes this recipe just as much!

Obviously I'm biased about all my baking, or maybe just sweet things in general, but these Chocolate Orange Cupcakes were amazing so I wanted to share the recipe with you all after having quite a few requests on Twitter! They're really easy to make, literally anyone could do it.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Fudge Icing
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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Dirty Great Love Story Review

Deep in the heart of Theatreland, beyond the headline shows, there are smaller, less well known theatres, with shows that are so underrated and often overlooked by people like me, who are probably a bit naive of places like that. 

I've been to the West End so many times to watch shows that are famous all over the world, and draw in tourists night after night. But this week, I was introduced to the other side of Theatreland's coin, a show at the Arts Theatre. 

The Arts Theatre is, an independent commercial theatre in the heart of London’s West End, providing a programme of entertainment to suit everyone. Their current headline show is Dirty Great Love Story which Luke and I had the pleasure of watching last week. 

Dirty Great Love Story
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Monday, 23 January 2017

My First Kiko Haul & Swatches

Kiko has always been a shop that I regularly walk past, sometimes have a look, but somewhere I've never purchased a single thing - very unlike me. 

After having to leave early from a recent work trip to Milan due to illness, I was sat at the airport feeling sorry for myself and decided that then was the perfect time for my first Kiko Milano haul. I mean, when in Milan and all that! 

I was in the shop a good half an hour before I settled on my purchases and I'm so happy with them, they're all now a staple part of my daily make up.

 First Kiko Haul & Swatches
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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Haircare Favourites Review and Wishlists

Whilst I know I'm not big on hair styling, and you'll very rarely see be branching away from my simple and straight blonde hair, there are some hair care products I literally couldn't live without. Some have been in my collection for many years and some are new products I've tried in the last 12 months. But all are, in my opinion, amazing. 

Haircare Favourites Review
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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Chocolate Orange Shortbread Recipe

Anyone who knows me will tell you I have the biggest sweet tooth. I'd be quite happy living off cakes, biscuits and chocolate for the rest of my life, but sadly, I'm not that lucky!

Just before Christmas, we had a Christmas Bonanza at work so I took the opportunity to get my bake on and make some Chocolate Orange Shortbread Biscuits. Shortbread is my favourite type of biscuit as it's really sweet and literally melts in your mouth - if you have a good recipe!

This was the first time I'd tried out this recipe and I have to admit, I did improvise a bit from the original due to lack of ingredients so I've pretty much just made up my own version! Baking is all about experimenting any way right?

This shortbread doesn't need many ingredients and is a perfect recipe to try to replicate for beginners but also experiment with flavours for the more adventurous.

Chocolate Orange Shortbread
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Karen Millen Belted Cape Coat - OOTD

If there's one item of clothing that I could safely say I've never felt good in, it's a coat. Partly because I'm so small, and usually they're so long and thick, I feel like a waddling penguin whenever I wear a coat. Trust me when I say Luke and I trawl every single shop every winter in search of the perfect coat.

A couple of weeks before Christmas whilst shopping at Westfield, I walked into House of Fraser and this gorgeous Karen Millen coat was directly in front of me and it was love at first sight.

It's not exactly a traditional coat as it's more like half coat half cape. I absolutely love the cape trend but don't have any as all the ones I've bought in the past were poor quality and didn't sit right on my body. But this one however, was the dream.

Karen Millen Belted Cape Coat - OOTD
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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

11 Serious Life Lessons Learnt in 2016

Paris under the Eiffel Tower

As with most of us at this time of year, I’ve spent the Christmas period reflecting on the year just past and thinking about what the coming year might bring. As the year draws to a close I always like to think about what I’ve learnt in the last 12 months and remember the lessons going forward.

So here’s what I’ve learnt in 2016;

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so don’t take today for granted

2016 has been full of loss from public figures to friends and family members, most of which came as a complete and utter shock to us. If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. The trouble is, we all think we have time. 

This year I’m starting off by writing a list of things I want to do and achieve in the next 12 months and putting a plan in place to make sure I complete most, if not all of them. I’m also trying to take more time out to spend with friends and family and treasure that time with them.
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