Friday, 22 June 2012

Quick Update... Succeeding in my University Degree and Travelling Across the Globe...

Hi there!

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I have a pretty good reason.... I've been so busy accepting my 2.1 degree (!!!) from the University of Birmingham and packing for my USA adventure that I really haven't had much time to write which has made me very sad. HOWEVER, I'm now sat on the top bunk at my West Hollywood hostel, Banana Bungalow, filling you in on my most recent goings-on.

*This is what a 2.1 student looks like when she's going out for lunch...*

That's right readers, in spite of my 2.2 from my second year of university (which carried over as 25% of my overall degree classification) I managed SOMEHOW through hard work, determination, and enduring a soul-less existence for a year, to achieve a 2.1. I was absolutely gob-smacked with my success as I had really lost all hope of getting a good grade, purely because I found final year to be nothing but incapacitating pressure. But I guess the pressure must have worked for me for some reason as I magically managed to get a degree classification which reflects my abilities and the hard work I have put in. My parents were very happy for me, and we're all very proud. And surprised, and thankful to whatever greater being allowed this to be. Thanks readers once and for all for being here for me and waiting for me while I had to take that long blog-break all those months ago. I guess it paid off!

As I say, I'm now in West Hollywood and I've been awake for just over 26 hours so far as today was my travel day. I'm going to grab me some shut eye in a minute as I'm absolutely exhausted and I'd like to get up tomorrow morning to take the fantastic *sarcastic eyebrow raise* Los Angeles public transport system to Venice Beach. Haha, not looking forward to navigating the buses but the beach should be incredible.

I was really nervous about coming here last night when I was packing in Stoke-on-Trent. However, now I'm here I can see I really had nothing to be frightened about. I've always loved my own company and meeting new people and roaming around, so I feel a bit like this trip is going to be one of the best things I've ever done in my life. Of course, I've only just got here and my positivity may be something to do with the Taco Bell induced euphoria I'm enjoying at the moment... But watch this space!

Over the next few days I'd like to post up a few different items on my To-Do List. But I'm not sure if I'll have time/energy when there's so much else to do... Forgive me if I'm a naughty blogger while I'm away. I absolutely promise *pinky swear* that if I forget to post or don't have chance to do so as frequently as I would like, I will make a note every time I have a post idea and  get them all typed up for you when I'm back. Expect shopping hauls, backpacking-inspired beauty tutorials, travel reviews and more.

Love and snuggles

Thursday, 14 June 2012

HauteHaul Pre-Vacation Purchases Part 1 Primark, Topshop, River Island, Miss Selfridge...

*The Primark blouse and Topshop skirt 'in action' pre-Sherry Counsellors gig*

Long time no see Youtube! It feels like just yesterday I finished up with my university exams and came off my excruciating blog break, and yet I'm already getting ready to go on another break from my channel... Forgive me! This time I'm only going for 5 weeks, and this is solely because I'm not sure how much filming/editing I'll be able to do as I trek across the USA in the back of a mini-van. However, if I do have time/internet access I promise I'll update my blog and channel as frequently as possible!

So this is Part 1 on my Pre-Vacation Purchases haul in which I focus mainly on the items of clothing I've bought in preparation for my trip. I will be posting a Part 2 which will include all of the essential toiletries I've bought very soon. Then who knows, its likely I'll go on another bit of a spree at some point over the next week or so in which case I'll post a Part 3 :)

For those of you who have been backpacking before, you may be thinking, 'WHAT? She's planning on taking wedges with her??? What use is that flowery mini-skirt going to be in Yosemite??? She's surely not going to wear a midi-skirt to take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon???' And I salute you for your rationality. However, I am in fact going to do my VERY BEST to try and take these new bits of clothing away with me. Otherwise, what would I wear on my 4th of July in Vegas??? How could I wow the straight-talking fashion-forward New Yorkers? Would I even fit in with Los Angeles's 'beautiful people' without the assistance of my sexy little Primark blouse? I think not. So stop bugging me! :p

Keep an eye out for my Pre-Vacation Purchases Part 2 and let me know if you have been backpacking before? Do you have any capsule wardrobe tips for a glamour girl? What would you take to the other side of the globe if you only had a backpack? And more importantly, HOW would you cut down on your makeup collection in order to avoid carrying a big huge pink train case packed to bursting with MAC lipsticks across the national parks of North America?

In order to be aware when I post new things, you really must follow, subscribe and like my pages! Here are all of the links...

Please follow me on Twitter at:

Click 'Follow' on my blog which has tons of reviews, beauty-fashion-lifestyle features and more:

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Also check out my facebook page at:

Sherry Counsellors Blog Post in which I wear the fury pink skirt:

Blog post in which I style up the light pink midi-skirt:

Victoria's Vintage blog:

Finally, here is the link for the Joe Gilligan Trust:

Please rate, like, follow, comment and subscribe and I promise there will be loads of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, culture and gossip material going up on here each week :)

Thanks for watching, guys and I'll see you soon!

Love and snuggles
gabriellasofia x

ps. I apologize profusely for my lack of concentration (hence 'ummmm' noise) and constant sniffing throughout. I've been kind of poorly with a cold for the past few days, plus I haven't recorded a video in what feels like AGES so I'm a bit off my game. And I know my hair looks terrible, but as I say, I'm poorly, so let me off, yeah?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

2012 Summer Adventure... USA Road Trip Playlist

If you aren't aware already, I'm going to be heading off to the USA on the 21st of June for five weeks all by myself. I'm going to be travelling from Los Angeles in California all the way across the country to Manhattan in New York. I'm going to be hitting up major cities and national parks alike, and with the United States being such a huge country, some days I'm going to be travelling for up to eight hours, so naturally I'm going to need a fantastic playlist of songs which will remind me of the amazing experience in years to come. Here are just a few of the songs I was thinking of adding to the list:

*Venice Beach Los Angeles... I wanted my LA playlist to remind me of sunny weather, US teen dramas like 90210 and fun parties!*

Los Angeles

Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
Californication by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Beverly Hills by Weezer
California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas
California Girls by The Beach Boys
California King Bed by Rihanna
California Gurls by Katy Perry
God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
Leaving Jesusland by NOFX
Route 66 by John Mayer
Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
Hollywood by Madonna 
Surfin' USA by The Beach Boys
Hotel California by The Eagles
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air by Will Smith
Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys
Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
California Love by Tupac
Help Rhonda by The Beach Boys 
Hey Hey We're The Monkeys by The Monkeys
California by Phantom Planet
Surfin' USA by The Beach Boys
Lala Land by Demi Lovato
Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys

*I always thing that San Francisco is quintessentially 'cool' so I picked some songs which strike me as suiting the city!*

San Francisco

San Francisco by The Mamas and The Papas
All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow
Under the Bridge by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses
Don't Marry Her by Beautiful South 
Rock You Like A Hurricane by Scorpions
With Or Without You by U2
Fake Tales of San Francisco by Arctic Monkeys
Don't Stop Believing by Journey
Hey Soul Sister by Train
Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who
Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones

*For my Yosemite/Bishop playlist I've focused mostly on the fact that Yosemite is supposed to be one of the most beautiful and serene places in the USA. So I chose super-chilled yet remarkable songs.*


Fireflies by Owl City
Hawiian Air by Friendly Fires
Coffee and Cigarettes by Michelle Featherstone
Jealous Guy by Gavin Degraw
God Bless the Child by Michelle Featherstone
Glad by Tyler Hilton
I Don't Wanna Be by Gavin Degraw
Hallelujah by Kate Voegele
Light Years Away by MoZella
When the Stars Go Blue by Tyler Hilton and Bethany Joy Lenz
Wish You Were by Kate Voegele 
Always Love by Nada Surf
The First Cut Is The Deepest by Sheryl Crow
For Blue Skies by Strays Don't Sleep
Lie In The Sound by Trespassers William
Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2

*Death Valley (so named because of its dangerously hot temperatures) is supposed to be boilingly hot. As I don't do well in super-duper hot temperatures, I decided to choose some fun and cheesy songs which will hopefully cheer me up...*

Death Valley

Feeling Hot Hot Hot by Buster Poindexter
La Bamba by Los Lobos
Fiesta Caliente by Los Illegales
Jump in the Line by Harry Belafonte 
Disco Inferno by The Trammps
Hot Stuff by Donna Summer
El Taqui Taqui by Los Illegales 
The Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte

*Las Vegas is known for being a 24 hour party. So I naturally chose a bunch of my favorite party/night out songs, and a few which will hopefully boost my confidence in the casinos!*

Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley
Leaving Las Vegas by Sheryl Crow
Luck be a Lady by Frank Sinatra
You Better You Bet by The Who
Sweetest Thing by U2
Benny and the Jets by Elton John
Paradise City by Guns N Roses
Love on Top by Beyonce
Who Are You by The Who
Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley
Waking Up in Vegas by Katy Perry
Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz 
Tik Tok by Ke$ha 
Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

*I imagine myself standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon in awe of how small I am in comparison the amazing sites... so I chose some songs which make me feel on top of the world because of their awesomeness. Don't mock my choices.*

Grand Canyon/Monument Valley/Mesa Verde/Durango

Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World
Missing You by Tyler Hilton
Speed of Sound by Cold Play
The Good Kind by The Wreckers
Kill by Jimmy Eat World
Re-Offender by Travis
Fix You by Cold Play
Feeling A Moment by Feeder
23 by Jimmy Eat World
Everybody's Changing by Keane
Viva La Vida by Cold Play
Crystal Ball by Keane
Paradise by Cold Play
The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

*I'm totally aware that New Mexico isn't Mexico. However, as a half-Latina I wanted some Latin on my iPod, so I went ahead and put these tunes into my New Mexico playlist. Close enough!*

Taos/Santa Fe/Carlsbad

Bidi Bidi Bom Bom by Selena
Halo by Bethany Joy Lenz
Como la Flor by Selena
New Mexico by Johnny Cash
El Chico Del Apartamento 52 by Selena
Beautiful Day by U2
Baila Esta Cumbia by Selena

*I took the opportunity of being in Texas to play my first bunch of songs which remind me (but only stereotypically) of the Southern States. This playlist is just a bit of fun really :)*

Fort Stockton/San Antonio/The Alamo/Houston

Cotton Eyed Joe by Rednex
Karma Chameleon by Boy George
Is This the Way to Amarillo by Tony Christie 
Rawhide from Rawhide
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynard Skynard
Sweet Child O Mine by Guns N Roses
Sweet Home Alabama by Kid Rock
Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison 

*As I've never been to New Orleans before, I wasn't quite sure what to choose for this city. However, I just went ahead and chose some souly-dancy tunes because that's what I think I'll want while I'm there.*

New Orleans

Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows
Dancing in the Street by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas 
Flip, Flop and Fly by The Blues Brothers
Johnny B Good by Chuck Berry
Roxanne by Sting and The Police
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love by The Blues Brothers
Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan
Gimme Some Lovin' by The Blues Brothers
My Blue Ridge Mountains Boy by Dolly Parton
Shake Your Tailfeather by Ray Charles and The Blues Brothers
Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits 
Jailhouse Rock by The Blues Brothers
The Saints Are Coming by Green Day and U2

*This is probably the playlist that I'll enjoy the most because the Memphis and Nashville are two cities which represent two of my favorite musical genres: Rock n Roll and Country.* 


Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks 
Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood
Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette
All Shook Up by Elvis Presley
Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
Standing Outside the Fire by Garth Brooks
Don't Forget To Remember Me by Carrie Underwood
The Beaches of Cheyenne by Garth Brooks
Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley
Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood
Jolene by Dolly Parton
Small Town by John Mellencamp
Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley 
The Battle of Nashville by Johnny Cash
The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks
Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp
Wide Open Spaces by Dixie Chicks
Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley
Unanswered Prayer by Garth Brooks
Ballad Of A Teenage Queen by Johnny Cash
Country Roads by John Denver
Beautiful Memphis by Johnny Cash
9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
I Wonder by Kellie Pickler
That Summer by Garth Brooks

*My Washington playlist kind of hinges on the fact that I love so many bands that rebel against government! Not very patriotic to the USA but I can't help it. And, I included Crazy in Love by Beyonce because I saw Barrack Obama dancing to it on Ellen and loved him.*


Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 
60% by NOFX
We Didn't Start The Fire by Billy Joel
USA-Holes by NOFX
Crazy in Love by Beyonce
Seeing Double at the Triple-Rock by NOFX
Dear Mr President by Pink
The Marxist Brothers by NOFX
Mr Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
The Man I Killed by NOFX
The District Sleeps Alone by The Postal Service
Benny Got Blowed Up by NOFX
Kissing the Lipless by The Shins
Leaving Jesusland by NOFX
Life in Technicolour Part 2 by Cold Play
Getting High On the Down Low by NOFX
Jesus of Suburbia by Green Day

*So many cool songs that mention New York City so I included some of them plus a few songs which I felt would be perfect to finish my trip on!*


I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
Moving to New York by The Wombats
America by Razorlight
Waterfall by The Stone Roses
English Man In New York by Sting and The Police
Hey There Delilah by The Plain White T's
For the First Time by The Script
We Are Young by Fun
Baba O'Reilly by The Who
Angel of Harlem by U2
Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5
Alone by Heart
Buck Rogers by Feeder
The Mixtape by Jacks Mannequin
Mixtape by Butch Walker

So that's my provisional playlist of songs for my trip! I've literally spent the past three hours with my dad and sister coming up with these songs and I'm obviously going to come up with a bunch more over the next week and a half, but its good to have a provisional list. My blessed little sister has agreed to take care of my iPod for my in terms of loading all the songs on as its so time-consuming and she's doing it as a kind of 'going away' present. She'll add a few songs which she thinks I'll like too as a surprise, so I can't wait.

Can you think of any other songs which should be on my playlist? Are you laughing at my (so-called by my sister) 'terrible' taste in music? Have you ever been on a trip like I'm doing?

Love and snuggles

Sunday, 10 June 2012

University of Birmingham Graduation Ball 2012

You may have spotted from my Twitter account that I have recently finished my degree this year, and the University of Birmingham decided to throw together an event for us to celebrate the end of university which was very nice of them! 

The event was called 'Grad Ball' which was a bit misleading to be honest as when I imagine a ball, I imagine something a bit like prom but even classier. I'd imagine a ball to take place perhaps in our university's Great Hall with all the ladies sporting floor length gowns, perhaps there'd be a band playing, a very nice sit down dinner with a pianist playing background music, a few ball dances and that would be it. Maybe my expectations were far too high for the event. Nonetheless, me and my friends did have a nice night, it was just a lot less formal than I would have liked...

There was actually a dinner on offer, but the tickets would have cost over £70 to go to the meal and considering the terrible reviews we'd heard from previous years me and my friends decided to give the dinner a miss. Instead we went to Jamie's Italian at the Bullring for a nice lunch and spent the early part of the evening getting ready and drinking wine. 

The weather was terrible and we were all having a nightmare because most of us were in floor length dresses or suede shoes, and we'd heard the event was to be held outside. This put a bit of a downer on the getting ready process as we were worrying that all the time we were spending on our hair would be a waste because of the rain, plus I was a bit concerned that all my mascara would get rained on so I'd be panda-eyed all evening. Regardless, I did my face as nice as I possibly could and hoped for the best...

*I used my Guerlain Lingerie de Peau foundation, shaded in my eyebrows as usual, used my Nars blusher in Orgasm with a coating of the Orgasm Illuminator over the top, created a basic smoky eye with my Urban Decay Naked palette and used my Topshop lipstick in Vamp with a No7 clear gloss over the top*

My friends all looked lovely, and some lads from over the road came round for some pre-drinks so it was a great opportunity to grab lots of awesome photos...

*You may recognize the red dress I have on as being my sister's prom dress... It was just too pretty to never be worn again, so I nicked it for the night! So sweet of her for letting me borrow it :)*

After rather classily strapping our vodka bottles to our legs with surgical tape so we could smuggle them in, we hopped into our taxi protected by our Poundland umbrellas, before walking the red carpet right outside the sky-scraping clock tower for which our university is famous.

*Red carpet looks nice, but the reflective jacket in the background lowers the tone somewhat...*

We headed straight into the bar marquee, holding our dresses up so they wouldn't brush the wet floor. The bar marquee was full to the brim of people I know from my course, from my work and from my past three years of accommodation. It was the perfect place to catch up with everyone and my friends all looked so brilliant. 

By this point we were all dying for the toilet, so we put up our umbrellas once again and headed over to the portaloos (yes, portaloos, at a 'ball'). Once we'd finished up, we spotted a photography tent, so went and had a couple of 'professional' photos snapped. Not sure how they'll turn out to be honest because the whole thing seemed a bit chaotic! After having our pictures taken we headed back to the bar tent, where the queue was about ten people deep just to get a drink. It was at this point when we realized Maverick Sabre was playing on the stage outside, but because of the rain (and the fact that there was now a queue to get back into the bar tent) we decided we'd have to give it a miss. Sadly, because of the weather (AGAIN) we didn't get a chance to have a go on the funfair rides, which was gutting as I love thrill rides!

*Wish I'd gone on this*

*And this...*

*And this. Stupid weather.*

After a little while, I heard Skepta performing so I headed over to the main stage with my umbrella and got a few pictures. The sound and lighting guys kindly let me hang out under their marquee for a little bit which was nice as them as the rain was torrentially pouring by now and although the staff were handing out free plastic ponchos they weren't long enough to protect my floor-length dress.

*Skepta IS IT???*

*There's too many men too many many men...*

I was a bit disappointed with the performers to be honest as in past years they've been much better known. For example, they had Ellie Goulding once! But Skepta gave a good show so I can't complain much. After watching Skepta I went to the Bandaoke tent which I thought was a great idea. Basically, there is a band and they know a set bunch of songs for the ball-goers to get up and sing. Me and my friends spent the rest of the night in Bandaoke and had a fantastic time dancing along to cheesy (and terribly sung) Eye of the Tiger, I Will Survive and more 80's tunes. It was a brilliant way to spend the last couple of hours to the night!

There was also a Silent Disco, but I gave this a miss as I was having too much fun in Bandaoke and I didn't want to brave the rain again, so stayed in the tent where I was. 

The night was a lot of fun and my friends and I really enjoyed it. Plus, the decoration and lights were beautiful. However, there wasn't enough planning regarding the weather and because of how bad the rain was there should have been gazebos marking the paths from tent to tent as the rain hindered us from making the most of our £45 tickets.

*Look at how pretty the building was lit up! I wish the ball had been in there instead of in the cold and wet outdoors...*

It was a great way to have our final hoorah before finishing uni for good. Results day is next Thursday and I think it was a good idea to have the 'ball' (which should have been a 'fest' instead as it would have been way more accurate) before our results come out because everyone was feeling pretty carefree. 

Have you had an end of year or graduation ball? How do you think they could have planned for the weather so that we didn't feel ripped off? How can I make my face not be shiny??? No matter how much powder I use I still shine a bunch! Grrr.

Love and snuggles

Culture Shock: What I've Been Listening To: Sherry Counsellors

Since my dad has a couple more music events planned for the next couple of months I've been hitting up the Stoke music scene once again. It's quite funny really, because I've never ever been into seeing unsigned bands playing live until this year, yet now its one of my favorite night-time activities. The sounds are much more raw than you get at signed-band concerts, the crowds are more intimate and friendly and the drinks are cheaper! 

Anyway, I've decided to start a new feature called 'Culture Shock' in which I'll do my more lifestyle-type posts with reviews of gigs, movies, books, theater performances, album releases and more.

*The Sugarmill from outside, looks a bit like an abandoned warehouse or something*

So for my first post, I want to tell you about the gig me and my dad went to last night. The Musgraves were playing at our local music venue, The Sugarmill. The Sugarmill has a bunch of bands playing each week, some are signed, some are not and the diverse range of musical genres makes The Sugarmill a mish-mash of different types of people. Its a really friendly venue and it has the most beautifully renovated upstairs terrace bar which makes it feel quite cosmopolitan for rough-and-ready Stoke-on-Trent. 

*The Sugarmill's roof-top bar at night time*

To be honest, I probably wouldn't have gone to the gig if it wasn't for the fact that one of my favorite local bands, the Sherry Counsellors, were supporting. This five-piece band performed at my dad's music festival, HippyHaze, at Easter and I was hooked. So me and my dad threw on our glad-rags and headed out for a night of musical pleasure...

*Yeah, I go on nights out with my dad. And what?*

Sherry Counsellors are an indie band with a difference. Slightly older than your usual indie rock'n'rollers, these guys are able to throw all of their past musical experiences into one fantastic hotch-potch of catchy guitar riffs, throbbing beats and meaningful lyrics. Not to mention that if you have a penchant for older men, like an antique bottle of wine their ages make them all the more delicious! 

*Aren't they pretty??? The band's image is so smart and clean-cut which I love as they all wear collared shirts, ties and sharp suit jackets. And the bassist wears a kilt. Very cool.*

Each and every song sounds different which is enhanced by the fact that the band swap roles every now and then to mix things up a bit. My favorite songs are the mellow Fortunas Fool, the rocking Aveline and the risque She Rides (the lyrics to which are practically pornographic and with the passionate vocal stylings of Keith Mellor the song is one of the sexiest I've ever heard!) 

*Aveline by Sherry Counsellors. Subscribe to their youtube channel already!*

One of my favorite things about this band is the use of trumpet in a couple of songs. You don't really get that in many indie bands these days where its usually like, 'If you don't play guitar, bass or drums then you're NOT COOL'. Plus, the band always look like they're having a great time and they sometimes go for a cheeky stroll around the audience while performing which I think is a nice touch. As someone who knows practically NOTHING about the technical side of music (bar vocals), I can't really comment on the guitarists, bassist or drummer's work, but from where I'm standing they all seem very talented. 

To find out more about Sherry Counsellors, check out this video:

*They're oh-so-down-to-earth.*

Hope you love them as much as I do! If so, please like their facebook page, subscribe to their youtube channel and let them know that you want them to come play at a city near you. We need to support unsigned unique bands like Sherry Counsellors a lot more because they're the future of the industry, so get clicking :)

Also supporting The Musgraves were young alternative rock band In The Cards. If you like Paramore, you'll love these too! 

What do you think of Sherry Counsellors? Do you support your local music scene? Have you been to any unsigned-band gigs recently? I'm always hunting for something new to listen to so let me know if you've got any favorites!

Love and snuggles

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Haute Body: Elevate Fitness Zumba

As you all know, I'm really into trying out new health foods and fitness classes as often as possible, so imagine my delight when the lovely Steven from Elevate Fitness got in touch inviting me to a complementary Zumba class!

Zumba in a nutshell:

1) Latin beats
2) High-impact aerobic cardio
3) Shimmying and shaking your jiggly bits in such a way that you actually feel sexy rather than obese

ZUMBA Fitness Class

Naturally, Zumba is hence right up my alley. I've been wanting to try it since the January before last when I first heard about it, probably because I adore dancing for fitness, my mom is Latin American so the sassy style of dancing really appealed to me and I love working my body hard.

So how did my experience go? Well, let's just say I was not at all disappointed. The beautiful instructor, Amy, led the mixed-gender group of about twenty of us in a blood-pumping warm-up to some awesome throbbing beat with brass instruments thrown over it. I was exhausted after the warm-up and realized that I really should have gone for a wee before the session started as I was now desperate. I dashed off for a couple of minutes and rejoined the group later. Throughout the hour-long class, we worked through a handful of songs to which Amy gave us a few counts of aerobic choreography which involved jumps, box steps, grapevines, hip thrusts, body rolls and more. The atmosphere was very relaxed with everyone laughing and smiling, also, we were allowed to grab a few mouthfuls of water and were encouraged to work at our own pace. I never felt uncomfortable in the group or bullied by the instructor which I have at exercise classes in the past so I was really happy!

Amy - Class Instructor

*Isn't Amy pretty???*

Elevate Fitness offers a range of classes including Bokwa, Boxfit, Kettlebells and more so they're definitely worth checking out. Zumba runs on Tuesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 7pm at the Quality Hotel in Hanley, and on Wednesdays in Northwood at 7.30pm. One of the best things about Elevate Fitness is that you can pay as you go, which makes the £4-an-hour lesson really flexible if you know that one week you won't be able to make it, or another week you want to go twice.

I just wanted to say a great big 'Thank You' to Steven, Amy and Elevate Fitness for the free lesson which they kindly gave me. I must also say that all of my opinions expressed in this post are totally my own and nothing to do with the fact that I was gifted the lesson.

Have you ever been to a Zumba class? What's your favorite type of dance for fitness? Have you ever been to an exercise class where you've felt uncomfortable?

Love and snuggles

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

DEBATE: 'The Royal Family is Irrelevant in Today's Society and the Diamond Jubilee is a Waste of Money' Discuss...

Just two days ago, I posted 60 Years of Royal Fashion... Can Jubilee've It? in which I definitively stated that I have 'virtually no interest in politics or the monarch as a ruling body' before launching into a list of some of my favorite outfits that the Queen has worn across her life thus far. However, I'm sick of hearing people whine, bitch and moan about how much money has gone into a celebration which has been labeled by some as 'medieval' (which is just incorrect), 'archaic' and 'irrelevant in today's society'. So I was having a wonder about how I feel primarily about the Royal Family in general, and then about the Diamond Jubilee itself. This is what I came up with:

The Royal Family

I understand why when looking superficially at the idea of having a Royal Family some might think the tradition is out-dated and hence irrelevant in today's society in which most countries don't 'need' a Queen. Of course our Royal Family is a tradition of the United Kingdom which means that some people automatically ask, 'Shouldn't history be kept in the past?' But I would argue that we are very lucky as a nation to have the opportunity to preserve a history for which we are renowned world-wide.

*The Queen's not-so-humble abode. Remember, she only actually lives in a little corner of it.*

Naturally, some believe that its simply 'not fair' that the Queen and her family just happened to have been lucky enough to have been born into their charmed existence and that they do not deserve what they get. Again, I'd have to say that this is a very materialistic way of looking at things. Yes, the Queen lives in Buckingham Palace in the center of London. Yes, her and her family get to travel across the globe on a regular basis. Yes, the Queen and her family are often seen wearing a variety of jewels and expensive designer garments. No, we don't see the Queen or her family riding the tube on their way to a nine-to-five job. No, the Queen doesn't have to buy her food shopping from Aldi because its been a particularly 'tight week'. No, the Royal Family don't have to be snapping photos and home movies of their special days, because the BBC does that for them.

*Kate Middleton wearing THAT Zara dress*

BUT its not all drinking champers on the Royal Throne. Imagine being born into a family in which you KNOW you'd be almost disowned if you didn't take over the family business. Imagine giving up Christmas Day with your family to make speeches to millions of people you don't even know. Imagine not being allowed to hold hands with your husband in public because it's not the 'done thing'. Imagine not being able to sit with your poorly grandpa in hospital but having to put on a brave face for the country. Imagine not being able to go anywhere without ten tonnes of security. Imagine your every move from what you say, wear and drink, being under constant scrutiny. Its surely not easy, and the freedom which we take for granted is sacrificed by the Royal Family in order to allow our country to preserve our heritage.

*Prince Harry leaving Mahiki after a particularly heavy night on the lash... We've all been there...*

To anyone who says that the Royal Family as it stands now is regressive and irrelevant in modern day, I'd totally disagree. Prince Phillip has stood behind and supported his wife, the Queen, since 1952 which is admirable considering the lack of rights for women at the time of her coronation. Prince William doesn't just roll in 'undeserved' wealth, but actually WORKS as an RAF Search and Rescue Pilot, just like any other man who does the same job, regardless of his ancestry. Princess Catherine shops in Zara. Prince Harry boozes in Mahiki. Heck, the whole family were grooving along to the likes of Will.I.Am and Jessie J at the Jubilee Concert last night! Meanwhile, each and every one of the core family gets actively involved in charity work, and more specifically, The Prince's Trust, which among other work assists underprivileged people nationwide to access opportunities which might not have been available to them otherwise in the economic recession. So I would argue that the Royal family is progressive, rather than regressive, extremely relevant to society and significantly more understanding and empathetic than the corrupt leaders with whom they are unjustly compared.

The Diamond Jubilee

Any occasion which unites the nation for a celebration is fine by me, and the Diamond Jubilee has done just that. So the Thames River Pageant cost a million squillion pounds, the roads have been closed for four days and BBC1 has been hijacked with Royalty-related coverage. But its been worth it, in my opinion, to be part of a historical event which will be spoken about for hundreds of years. And where the money is concerned, if you consider the amount of money the Queen has made for the country over the past 60 years of her reign, in tourism alone, I think it was the least we could do to honour the second-longest reigning monarch of our country. If you don't want to go to a party, or watch some of the countries biggest musical legends so far at the Jubilee concert, or even have a lie-in for your Bank Holiday day off work, then by all means don't. But don't for one second pretend its for any other reason than your general Grinch-ishness, love for attention-seeking controversy and lack of patriotic spirit.


So that's where I stand on the whole situation... Feel free to disagree in the comments, I know that last sentence was a bit naughty and I know that some people out there are very passionate about their dislike for the Royal Family and all things monarchy-related. However, I feel passionate about not letting Scrooges ruin my extended weekend with what I feel is un-necessary negativity.

Did you have a good Jubilee weekend? Are you angry about the festivities? Can you put forth a valid, mature and unoffensive argument for loving or hating the idea of having an active monarchy?

Love and snuggles

Outfit of the Day 4th June Red, White and Blue for the Diamond Jubilee...

To match my Jubilee Nails I decided I'd go with a red, white and blue outfit yesterday when I headed to a daytime gig and barbecue at a local pub called The Potter. Since my dad's music festival in Easter (HippyHaze) I've become friends with lots of different musicians so get invited to gigs and open mic nights all the time, which is fab because having finished university last month I want to go out EVERY NIGHT but aren't much into clubbing. Yesterday's event was even more fun than usual because of the Jubilee-related festivities which meant that there were balloons and children and face-paint and bunting and hot-dogs (which I couldn't eat as I'm on a three-day pre-graduation-ball detox diet but they smelt lush nonetheless...) plus its always nice seeing my pals Dave and Jake play Titanium by David Guetta, Disco 2000 by Pulp and some of their own songs too.

Anyway, enough of how great my day was, let's get onto my outfit, shall we?

*Casual 'I'm-just-hanging-out-leaning-against-the-stair-banister' pose.*

*This little white dress was from the Topshop sale two summers ago and it was a tad longer when I bought it, but since I've worn it so many times I guess it's shrunk in the wash (much to my father's dismay) but it's still an appropriate-enough length to wear in public and in spite of the fact that the weather was not as hot and sunny as I would have liked it to have been, I figured I'd bare my pins for the world to see. Lucky world.*

*I love throwing this denim Topshop shirt over the top of the dress because it makes things look a bit more casual by covering up my arms. Plus, when the wind blows, this dress goes flying, so its nice having the security blanket of some extra material to weigh down the slightly wayward skirt! And it kept me warm in the cool weather. Multiple benefits, you see?*

*I picked these shoes up back in January of last year in the Office sale for just £20 as I was going to fancy-dress 'Moulin Rouge' for my birthday that year and I figured they'd be perfect for the event. However, at the time I didn't really expect them to wear them ever again, so I've been pleasantly surprised at how versatile they've been since! Plus, they're really easy to walk in considering that they are quite high. My dad hates them because he thinks they're too 'slutty', and my mom isn't a fan as she thinks they're too 'theatrical'. I'm mad for them though...*

Anyway, the gig went fantastically and I had a great time cheering the lads on. Better still, it was all over by about 7pm so I had time to get home in time to watch the Jubilee Concert on the BBC last night which was brilliant (apart from the part where Cheryl Cole tore Lady Antebellum's Need You Now to pieces...) so I got to see my favorites, Annie Lennox, Elton John and Paul McCartney perform. Winner.

Do you think the shoes are 'slutty'? What did you think of Cheryl Cole's performance last night? Have you been wearing patriotic red, white and blue?

Love and snuggles 

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Obligatory 'How I've Done My Nails For the Diamond Jubiliee' Post

I'm not going to even pretend that this is an original idea for a blog post, or nail art for that matter! However, I felt rather left out seeing everyone post their fabulous nail ideas for the Queen's Diamond Jubiliee, so I figured I'd spend the past half hour whipping up these beauties... 

As usual I've taken my pics on my Crap-berry so they're not the best quality... sue me. Anyway, let me tell you what I used...

*Sally Hansen French Tip Whitener, Nails Inc in The Hurlingham, No7 Stay Perfect in Betty Blues, Icing Glitter Polish in blue*

*No7's Stay Perfect in Hot to Trot, Barry M Nail Paint in Red Glitter, Icing Glitter Polish in Gold*

Basically, I used the No7 Betty Blues on my thumbs, coated over with the Icing Glitter in blue. Then I painted Nails Inc's The Hurlingham on my pointy finger with a layer of Barry M's Red Glitter over the top. For my pinkie finger I used No7's Hot to Trot with a thin coating of Icing's Glitter in Gold. 

My naughty middle finger was pretty simple too. I used Barry M's Nail Paint in Red Glitter across the whole nail. Then I painted Icing's Glitter in blue two thirds down the nail with their gold glitter one third of the way down. I did this quite roughly which was cool as it gave this starry effect.

My ring fingers took me about fifteen minutes to do, and I basically painted the white Sally Hansen colour across the whole surface, very carefully using The Hurlingham by Nails Inc and No7's Betty Blues on a cocktail stick to draw the Union Jack over my nail. This was really fiddly, and I'm surprised I managed to get both my left and right hand looking almost identical. Great success!

So there you have it, a nail design for the Diamond Jubilee. I know it could have been done much quicker, with a nail art pen or two, but I didn't have any to hand so this is the best I could do. Not bad eh? I'm pretty proud even if I say so myself!

What does your Jubilee nail art look like? I was thinking of doing these with pastel colours instead of conventional red-white-and-blue, maybe I'll try that tomorrow, what do you think? Have you seen any cool Diamond Jubilee makeup looks? I'm thinking of doing a huge Union Jack eye, but I think that maybe a taking things a tad too far... thoughts?

Love and snuggles

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Boux Avenue Grand Opening at the Birmingham Bullring

I have been such a naughty little blogger! Since deciding to take my horrible blog-break for about three months from February to May I had planned to avoid everything blog-worthy purely because I KNEW I would want to write about it, but also knew I just didn't have the time. So when I received an email from Laura Gallagher at Flourescent PR a few months back inviting me to the grand opening of Theo Paphitis's brand new lingerie shop, Boux Avenue, I had to decline as hard as it was.

Then one day after heading into Birmingham to return some books to my university library, I found myself having a quick mooch around the Bullring. As I came down on the escalator to the second level, I glanced to my right and there it was, Boux Avenue's shop window complete with multi-coloured balloons and a huge sign outside saying, 'Theo Paphitis will be officially opening our stunning new store'. When I saw the line, 'Temptation awaits...' I could hardly turn around and leave could I??? So I moseyed on in and luxury lingerie at reasonable prices confronted me immediately... I was in heaven!

*Sexy lace thongs with cute bow details*

*Crisp white bras with pretty ruched cups*

*Cute little petticoats with ballet slippers*

*Comfy-looking cotton hipster booty shorts with lace trim*

*This is my favorite bra in the whole shop. A powder blue-and-white-stripe balcony bra, so adorable!*

The lovely Boux Avenue staff came over to see if I wanted any help which I thought was brilliant in terms of customer service, particularly as in a lingerie shop I know some ladies can feel a little intimidated or too shy to ask for assistance. I was told about their free bra-fitting service which I could inquire about in the dressing room, and the sizing system was explained to me. If you've ever been to a Victoria's Secret lingerie shop then you'll be familiar with the system, but basically if you don't see your size hanging up, then you can pull out one of the drawers below and find a carefully-laid out stock of each style and size in stock. That way, if you ARE too shy to ask for help then you don't REALLY have to. Love it. 

The highlight of the event was meeting Theo Paphitis who was absolutely lovely. He set aside enough time for me and a few other bloggers to have a photograph and a quick chat. He seemed very happy that I'd called Boux Avenue 'Victoria's Secret but better'. Also, when I said to him, 'Good luck with this whole thing!' he smiled and said that people don't often wish him luck any more because he's already been so successful. Then he said it was nice of me to say it! I literally want him to be my best friend. Such a genuine guy.


The ONLY thing that I would have done to improve the event would be to not to have models giving away candy in lingerie. Only because, I thought they looked a bit cheap which isn't a very true representation of the company as although the prices are reasonable, the image is expensive and that's why Boux Avenue is a winner in my opinion.

Flourescent PR and Boux Avenue also threw together a lovely goodie bag for all of us bloggers which allowed us to try out a mix of the beauty and lingerie items also, and I've been immensely impressed with each of the things I've tried so far.

*Look how lovely all of the packaging was! I felt a bit like it was my birthday or something, which is exactly how you should feel when buying lingerie in my opinion.*

*Although I've found the flavour of this rose-petal lip balm quite off putting, the formula is lovely and its one of the most moisturizing and hydrating lip balms I've tried so far. Also, the pot is huge and a little goes a long way so I'm sure this will last me for ages.* 

*Boux Avenue's White Chiffon hand cream is lovely to apply just before bed because it has such a 'comfy' scent. Does that make any sense? Like, it reminds me of the smell of clean sheets. And again, its really softening which is lovely for me especially because I get stress-related eczema which can be quite sore, dry and itchy, so giving myself a little hand massage before bed with this stuff is perfect. I even use it on my feet before bed too, just to keep them nice and soft.*

*What could be inside...*

*Leopard print pink-lace trimmed panties of course! These were in a size 10 which LUCKILY fit me (I say luckily because I think 10's were the only size handed out, so, winner!) These have a really cute shape, like French panties. Super-duper flattering and easy to be matched with if you don't have the exact pattern bra as virtually any white, brown, black or pale pink one will work. 

Boux Avenue also very kindly gave me a USB stick (random) and a £20 gift voucher, presumably so I can purchase a beautiful bra to match the above panties. I haven't spent this yet, but I'm very much looking forward to doing so because I'm in desperate need of some new boulder-holders and can't wait to try out Boux's bra-fitting service.

So thank you once again to Theo Paphitis, Boux Avenue and Flourescent PR for organizing a fantastic event and generously gifting this lovely goodie bag.

Have you been to a Boux Avenue shop yet? How do you feel about their prioritizing customer service? Would you ever wear a plain black bra with these leopard print panties or am I just a weirdo for thinking I could get away with that?

Love and snuggles