Home | Buying our first house

As we now are celebrating being in our home two years (where did that time go!) it got me thinking about the whole buying process. It all seemed so stressful at the time but now that I look back here is the advice I would give my younger self. 

Be prepared to sacrifice 

If you’re starting to save for your first home, like we did, I took a long hard look at my monthly income and outgoings, and this was the daunting start to our process. This allowed me to calculate my bills and my disposal income, shockingly I had more disposable income than I thought, by no means a millionaire, but multiple trips to the shops and online orders seemed to take a large proportion of my salary. That’s the first thing I cut back on, not completely but sacrifices had to be made. 

Save, save and save some more

Although I’ve just said I didn’t completely cut back I was very concise of what I bought, I became more aware of disposable fashion and make up and things had only to be bought for a purpose. There is much more than a deposit, there is solicitors fees, furniture and installation charges. It really racks up so be realistic with the money you can save keep that in mind for your mortgage payments. I went to a mortgage advisor to workout our budget and what were affordable monthly payments. One thing I will say was that with our salaries they were willing to give us more than we originally thought, we could have gone for a higher mortgage with higher monthly payments and probably a bigger house but really we wanted to make it manageable. Only do want you can afford, it’s important to be able to live and enjoy your new home. 

Compromise is key

Whether you’re buying on your own, with your partner or with a friend. Once you have an idea of budget, make a list of things that are ideal. Now go through this list and look through the things that you would compromise on. For us location, south facing garden and car parking were essential. It would have been ideal to have a semi detached, separate dining room, downstairs toilet but unfortunately this was not possible so we had to compromise and what’s important is, for us this is our first home, it’s unlikely we or you will stay there forever and the next house, once you get some time under your belt and maybe a little more saving, you will be able to incorporate these desirable into your essential list. 

Don’t let looks get the better of you

If you walked into a shop that is beautifully decorated and tidy you’re more likely to buy right…it’s the same with houses. The difference is there is only 1 house and lots of buyers. If an estate agent thinks a house has potential they will do an open day. That’s what happened with the first house we bid on. If a house is well decorated, you can see yourself living there. That’s exactly what we thought and although we set a budget there were multiple bidders and we seen ourselves go £12,000 above our budget and £16,000 over the asking price. What were we thinking, we got carried away and I just hope that the other buyers could afford. No matter what, when the furniture is removed and the rooms are bare, it looks completely different and then you will want to reprint walls and change things around. Interiors are not worth blowing your budget, you can and will make improvements as you go along. 

Try not to get emotionally invested 

My dream home is a old house which we can renovate. We viewed multiple houses and fell in love with this one which looking back now was completely impractical, particularly for our first home. We were sale agreed but knew it needed a lot of work and a couple weeks later we got a complete building survey, our dreams were shattered. The house was in such bad disrepair beyond our naive eyes. It need completely rewired, the chimney was about to fall in, repointing on the outside, wood root, a second damp course and to top it all off asbestos. Our surveyor (who was lovely) and we met him at the house while he was doing the survey gave us some pretty good advice. Without £40,000 before we moved in, it would be impossible for us to make the house liveable, all before we even lifted a paintbrush for the internal. This was a tough blow, we were devastated, because we were emotional involved in the house. We were annoyed that we paid £800 for a survey that proved this wasn’t our dream home, really we should have been happy, we identified the problem and saved ourselves a painful and stressful journey but at the time it was difficult not to think that we had wasted that money for a survey. That’s the trick the survey was vital for us to know that was not a sensible investment. 

Don’t be afraid of professional advice

We took advice from anyone who would help and not my mum or dad but professional advice. We went to a mortgage advisor, who proved to give us a better rate on our mortgage than going directly to the banks. We also took advice from our building surveyor on that and the house we eventually bought. Our solicitor who helped us along the way, I called a lot and I’m sure he screened some of our calls but he knows this process inside and out. Other than signing a few documents and giving them a read (I’m probably doing them no justice) but he gave us so much help. Your solicitor works for you and in this case represents you so use their knowledge and expertise. Remember the estate works for the seller of the property so if you have any problems, get advice and help from your solicitor, they are the best person to represent you. 

Be patient

This process takes time. Finding the right house takes time then conveyancing takes even more time. It’s so easy to say this once it’s complete but it’s so important to be patient, you can rush people along, and be sure to keep them on there toes chasing but there will be a lot of back and forth so don’t let that get you down. Once you get the keys and unlock the door of your new home for the first time that feeling is amazing and no one can take that achievement away from you then. 

Lashings of Love, 

K xo

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Home | Burn baby burn

From my last post on our wooden floor which we finished back in August, the wood burner seems to be a long way coming. Just picking a stove can be difficult, waiting for it to arrive and then a fitter it’s a well thought through process. It all started last year when there was smoke coming back down from our chimney into our living room, I came back from the gym one night and it was so bad that Chris has all the doors and windows open, it was extremely dangerous. We had chimney sweeps out to clean the chimney and check there was nothing up there so I thought a wood burner was a great solution. Truth be told, this was how I sold it to Chris. After months of reading Country Living, I knew I wanted a wood burner from day one. Our fireplace was deceiving, like many of the fittings in this house, but this is the blog post for that rant. The fireplace was actually a heavy duty plastic, not stone like it would initially have you believe. This made it extremely difficult to clean, the black soot stuck to it, some would say it made it look worn, me, dirty. I cleaned as hard as I could but it just never looked clean. I knew there was so work to be done before we could install it.

Once the wooden floor was done, I went to the Stove Yard, outside Belfast, it came highly recommended from my Auntie who got her stove there a few years back. Thankfully they are open on a Saturday until 12.30pm so we called in on a Saturday morning. They are experts in the burner industry, we wanted a multi-fuel stove as we burn a lot of coal not just wood, without even seeing our room they were able to give us an idea of the size of burner we needed, 5Kw, which is the heat the burner will produce. This is more than enough for our small room, we didn’t even know the energy level of our fire at that time. They arranged for an installer to come out to do a home check to see that we were suitable and give us a price. The fitter called out a few days later, we had no idea of the extensive work that was required. The chimney had to change from 8″ to 6″ and they fitted a lining to that to reduce the width, we also needed a carbon monoxide detector, even though we already had one but it had to be in the room, building regulation changes and not to mention the stove itself. The best part of getting one fitter was that they do everything and I mean everything. Getting this done was going to a two day job, remove the old fireplace, dig out the hole for the new stove, plaster and fitting. We booked it, 6 weeks was all we would have to wait. Now lets talk cost, the cost of the stove was around £550, we didn’t go for a brand name, although a Charnwood would have been right up my street, the one we choose had a good warranty and there was good feedback on it. We would have looked more into the differences in the branded stoves but we don’t intend to stay in this house forever so we wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing but didn’t break the bank. The cost of the remainder of the parts and the labour was £1200 so a total of £1750, of course you can spend more if you want a more expensive stove but for our purpose this was fine.


Six weeks rolled around pretty quickly and we began clearing out the furniture in our living room, apart from the sofas, we just threw some plastic lining over them. I couldn’t wait to come home and see the progress after the first day. I was so pleased to see the old fireplace gone and the hole was prepared for the stove, the stone was laid, it looked good. However there was dust everywhere. It was difficult to understand how every inch of our house had dust in it, I suppose there were parts of our wall coming out so I shouldn’t complain. I couldn’t wait for it to be finished. The day day we came home and it was all done, we were both delighted. The fireplace looked bulky and now the wood burner looked much nicer, it made the area look bigger. Now to start with the clean up. We spent that evening cleaning the floors and hoovering (I’ve never emptied the hoover more in my life). We had to wait a week until we could get it painted so for one week we continued on with minimal furniture in our living room and our spare bedroom completely packed with whatever wasn’t in the hall and living room.



The painter arrived on the Wednesday and we picked our paint that weekend. Because our floor is such a dark wood, we wanted to keep the walls really light so we went for Farrow & Ball Strong White, this did become slight confusing for our painter who has strong white for the walls, white wood paint for the skirting board and white emulsion for our ceiling, there really was a lot of white paint. The colour was It’s the first time we have got a painter and I would highly recommend it, no mess, no fuss, just remove everything and that night we came home and it was all done. Our painter did bring 3 others with him so no wonder it was done so quickly. We began to move the furniture back and then we went to Donegal, living room still not finished, oh well, the fresh air of Donegal will help me forget about the work from home. As we put the furniture back in, we measured up the living room and made the decision on the sofas, that weekend was the last of the Laura Ashley sale so thankfully they are coming on the 8th December, but we’ll take them earlier if you need us too Laura Ashley.

With a long weekend on the cards, the last thing we needed to do for now was to get a mantle piece. As always, I made Chris put his DIY hat on. I had an idea for the mantle and we bought two shelves and we placed the second shelf below so it looked more than just a shelf.

We cut out grooves to make it more interesting and then painted it white. It was done, now just for Chris to put it up. I went up to do one eyelash appointment and to my surprise when I came down Chris has finished it by himself, I couldn’t wait to get it decorated.

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Now it’s all done, we are just waiting on our sofas and we also need a new dining table and I’ve promised Chris that is all we are doing to the living room. The next stop is the stairs, which we need painted and then the carpet put down, I’ll maybe wait a few weeks before I mention that. Time to get our current sofas cleaned and sold to make way for what’s new. As I am finishing writing this, I’m currently drying my hair in front of the wood burner on the first night that I have really seen what granny would call as the turn in the evenings (that’s darker evenings) and its bless being nice and warm, in my PJ’s by the stove, my new favourite thing.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Travel | More Strand & More Stripes

Spending time away from home can be nice. After a week of living with no living room or dinning room, it was a welcome relief to put the house back together on Friday and head away from the ever mounting dust to the fresh countryside air. Getting away from it all really is the best way to relax.


Last year Chris and I headed to Malin in Donegal for a weekend away with our friends and their children, we enjoyed it so much last year we had to do it again this year. I have to say I was really looking forward to the break, feeling completely remote. Chris luckily had the day off on Friday so he packed the car, did a shop to bring up some food and then came to collect me from work so we were straight on the road. From Belfast, Malin is quiet far and the house we were staying in doesn’t allow dogs, so Piper heading to mums for a holiday, treated like a princess no doubt. We arrived to the house at 8pm, the kids headed to bed, time for a glass of wine and dinner, it’s the weekend so lets unwind.

The house we stay in has more than enough room for 6 adults and 5 kids, with everything you could need, including a hot tub. After a long week, a dip in the hot tub is perfect. The run into the hot tub on a cold October night really is bracing, no more so than when you have to get out and dry off. Luckily there is an aga in the house (the dream) so once your back in the house, its nice to warm up by the aga before heading to bed.

Saturday morning, Chris and I lay in, no help to our friends who were up with their kids. You can tell neither Chris or I are parents, we didn’t even wake up to the sound of the kids in the morning, we were in a deep sleep. After a good nights sleep it was time to brace the great outdoors. Driving through country roads where you barely meet another car and there is no traffic lights, parking is at the side of the street, free from traffic wardens and an jams are from meeting a tractor on a windy road. It’s refreshing.

We made our way to Genevan Waterfall for a walk but unfortunately due to the adverse weather we have been having recently it was closed as bridges have been destroyed and the trail isn’t safe. Thankfully the guys found that out before we all started to trek up. We then made our way to Pollan Bay for a walk on the beach, it was brisk, but I loved seeing our friends kids play in the sand, despite the fact I was standing around freezing, running around playing with kids sure does get the temperature up. Then time to head back to the house for a leisurely lunch.

After lunch we drove to Malin Head for a walk, the most northernly point in Ireland, now here was where you really needed your coat, the winds were so strong. It was amazing to go for a walk along the edge of the island, at the point where lots of families said good bye to their relatives as they made there way to the US, somewhere I have been back and forth to lots, this was the last time these people seen the Emerald Isle. On our way back, we spotted a heart made of stone with C&K, no no, don’t get carried away, Chris isn’t some kind of romantic, nor would I want him to be, but some other couple must have made it when we were on our walk!

After a fast paced walk back to warm up, we drove back to Malin and we enjoyed a Guiness (with a dash of blackcurrant, the only way I can enjoy a Guiness) and games with the kids, its unbelieveabe how competitive we can all be. New favourite game dobble, well lets just say the kids showed me up, and I wasn’t even trying to let them win, more practice needed. We made our way back to the house for the evening.

Saturday night, Chris made chilli for burritos and tacos, not your typical Irish dinner. Storm Brian had descended to Donegal so there was no way I was journeying out into the windy night to get into the hot tub. Wine by the aga is much nicer, not to mention the chat all night was so good. I went to bed on Saturday night and realised I had hardly looked at my phone, now that is detox, not only when you know you shouldn’t look at your phone but you don’t even want to because you’re having such a great time.
We woke up on Sunday morning had breakfast, tidied the house ad although the others made their way to the beach we went to mummy’s house for Sunday lunch, there is no greater treat than someone cooking for you, especially on a lazy Sunday. We popped Piper into the car and drove home for a relaxing afternoon in the house. I started writing this blog post while Chris unpacked the car, I think I played a good card there. This really was weekend bliss, fresh air really is good for the soul. Until next year Donegal!
Lashing of Love,
K xo

Life | It’s ok not to be ok

This last couple of weeks have been a struggle. Things peaked on Monday when I was in terrible form in the office (sorry to my colleagues). Not even my lovely friends could cheer me up! Do you ever get those weeks where you just feel…unsettled is probably the right word. Nothing goes right and when this happens, I’m sensitive to things that are being said to me and I’m extra clumsy and if I drop one more thing I’ll sit on the ground and have a little cry.

It’s hard to point my finger on what’s making me unsettled but I know I’m just not right. I’ve often thought I have SAD, seasonal affective disorder, a feeling of down which comes with the change in the seasons, the winter blues. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the shorter evenings, more time spent in the house. Just this morning we were talking about how much darker it was. The struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The motivation to go out for a run. No more flowers around…generally the change in routine. Depression is serious, and by no means am I making little of it and the change in seasons can have an impact on everyone with varying degrees of severity. Is this the only reason I’m unsettled, probably not! It’s a multitude of stress rather than just one thing. I’ve had a chest infection for the last 3 weeks, my house is turned upside down again, I’m busy at work and now a family member is in hospital, lots of things to contend with but hey that’s life, lots of things to juggle. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, I’ve seen one of my great friends struggle with significantly more on her plate but we’re all different and deal with things completely differently. Their strength gives me strength.

The point is in the past I’ve given up and moved on but this time I’ve such a will to keep going. Desire to succeed is my sole driving force. Social media can often make us want to live up to the happy go lucky life all the time, but the reality is that it’s not real, everyone has down days, but these down days make the good days even better!

And what’s really important is to being able to distinguish when your unsettled and unhappy. There are so many things in our lives that can make us unhappy and well that’s just not nice, I’ve been there before, bad job, bad relationships and even bad places to live. So things can make us happy for the short term, but it’s really important to find out what are the things that make us unhappy and that’s when we need to fix it. What’s even more important is know that you can talk to someone, let them know exactly how you feel.

The last time I felt this unsettled or stressed, I thought rather than change something in my life why not add something, enhance myself instead of running away from the things I’m afraid of. That was 2 years ago when I first starting lashing, in all honesty I thought it would just be my friends and family, I never thought I would meet lots of you lovely ladies.

I suppose the point of this ramble is that’s it’s ok to feel like this sometimes. It’s world mental health day so there seems no better time than the present to open up and discuss how we feel. I’m not quite back to my normal self yet but I’m sure I soon will be! *insert mum singing Bob Marley* don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright!

Lashing of Love,

K xo

 

Travel | 48 hours in Barcelona

Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination for people across the world. Particularly it is renowned for the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí, honestly I didn’t have a clue who he was before we went, time to Google.

Situated in the Catalonia area in Spain, it’s easy to get to Barcelona. We flew there a few days before, spent 5 days in France and got the train back to Barcelona again for a 2 day visit. We have exactly 48 hours there. Time to get planning. We made a list of a few things we wanted to see and started a plan.

When we arrived at the train station, I opened Uber to find that it’s not available in Barcelona. What no Uber, how would we get round. Straight out to queue for a taxi and with more than 100 people waiting I. The blistering heat we knew it would be a long wait. I spotted an information desk and walked over, there was a bus tour which went straight past our hotel. Why not, find out more about the city for the same price as a taxi over the 2 days we were there. €39 each, sign me up. I always go away and do a bus tour, I’ve turned into my granny it would seem. But a few years ago Chris and I were travelling to Oxford, a city steeped in historical landmarks so a bus tour became the easiest way to get around and find out more. Since then, we’ve just always done it. For a city like Barcelona, a bus tour is essential just because it’s so big and taking taxis everywhere really wouldn’t be that cost effective. There are 3 different routes of the city so it well worth the money with buses coming to stops every few minutes. This way you get to take in the most of Barcelona and hop on and off for the spots you really want to see. We started sightseeing before we had even arrived at the hotel – result!

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We got off at the end of Las Ramblas and made our way to our hotel. Las Ramblas is a long meandering street with connects the port with the city centre. We got checked in, checked out the room, freshened up and then began to walk further up Las Ramblas to get on the next stop in the tour. It was extremely unfortunate that just over one week before we arrived a terrible terrorist attack happened on that very street with people killed and injured. I don’t really know what we expected, less people, quieter streets but it was the exact opposite, it was hard to believe such a horrible act had happened. There was hustle and bustle and the sellers on that street kept their shop doors open with many giving away free candles to add the the memorial which continued to grow at pace every day. We stopped at each of the memorial sites on our way to the Plaça de Catalunya to get on the next stop and travel around some more.


As you travel around the city on the bus you will hear Gaudi mention a lot as his works become very familiar after a while, like mosaic tiles. We then journeyed to Park Guerl another one of Gaudis works to be told we couldn’t get in until 6pm. We spent a while walking around the Park Guell and think goodness for the people selling iced water, after walking up a fairly steep hill, to find out we were going in the wrong direction and then having to walk up another steep hill to get to the park we were exhausted by the time we got there. We had a beautiful walk about the part of the park that you don’t need a ticket for. There were buskers and painters around with lots to see. Normally a walk like that wouldn’t seem at all strenuous but in the searing heat, it seemed almost impossible. We stopped for lunch just outside the park, tapas as always and a good drink of water to hydrate before heading on again. A good spray of deodorant wouldn’t have gone a miss then either!! The one stop I really wanted to make was the Sagrada Familia, we got back on the bus and made our way there to find that the next available time for 6pm, we were told to book online for the following day. Everything was booking up so fast, especially because it was the weekend. In hindsight, I wish we had booked online for Saturday but we didn’t know what time we would get there but my advice, estimate a time and work around that. We wasted most of Saturday afternoon trying to get into places which were fully booked. We got back on the bus to get back to the centre and came across Barcelona Football Club. We got off the bus to have a look and to Chris’ delight we were able to go in straight away. It would have been a waste of an afternoon if we didn’t go in and do some sightseeing so I agreed. Not footballs biggest fan I thought I would go anyway and see what it’s like. We began by walking around and reading the history of the club, honestly I was shocked how impressed I was. When they say that it is more than just a club they really mean it, it was really interesting and the stadium itself is breath taking. It’s safe to say that if I hear any news about Barcelona Football my ears may just prick up, I’m emotionally invested now, you can only imagine my interest in transfer deadline day…like what is that about! We left and missed the last bus back so we got a taxi. It’s easy to hail a cab in Barcelona, if the green light is on, just hop in.


We got as close back to our hotel as possible as there was a peaceful protest. The huge number of people who attended with flowers, candles and signs was truly astonishing. It’s amazing to see how people come together over such sadness and show such strength. They walked up and down Las Ramblas and within minutes the memorials grew phenomenally. It was amazing to see and something we will not forgot. We walked back to our hotel and watched the goings on from our balcony while we got ready for the evening and booked our tickets for the next day.


We headed to the Barcelona Square for drinks and dinner, no surprises for guessing we ordered tapas and paella from Ocaña. Truly delicious all washed down with a few glasses sangria. We walked up Las Ramblas to see what else was going on, we stopped along the way for a few glasses of wine (NOTE: why does rosè taste so much better on holiday!). We called it a night and wandered back to the hotel.

We got up on Sunday morning had breakfast and got on the road. I imagined we would have got up earlier but I think the rosé wine had taken a much greater toll. We walked around the port and then continued the bus tour to the Gothic Quarter before making our way to Sagrada Familia for the tour we booked.


We booked it for 3pm which allowed us to go up the façade 15 minutes later. We went up the Nativity Façade rather than the Passion Façade. Nativity isn’t as popular as the Passion Façade is much higher so we took what was available. The views from the bridge between the Façade is amazing, we seen the whole east side of the city. The bridge isn’t that wide and if there are a few people on it there is just about room to squeeze past them. The walk down is less than desirable. The narrow spiral staircase is one to walk slowly down, especially if you look down the middle and see just how far there is until the bottom, as you look down you’ll notice it looks like a shell, the whole way to the bottom. I’m not the greatest fan of heights and if you’re the same hang on tight to the railing. We then collected the audio guides and went around the Cathedral, to say it’s impressive would be an understatement. It’s difficult to comprehend Gaudi’s vision for this incredible building as the amount of detail couldn’t be completely covered in one tour. The pillars inside are like a forest, the stain glass windows are cooler colours on the side of sun rise as this cooler in the morning and the sun set has warmer colours. Whether you are religious or not this is definitely worth a visit, it was my favourite spot on our tour.

*insert awkward scared face


After we walked back into the town for dinner and drinks. We went to Rossini for dinner, give it a try, their tapas were much better and the paella was to die for. Earlier night for us tonight after a walk home and then off to bed to catch the early flight in the morning.

We both said that we would definitely visit again there was so much we didn’t see and only a 2 hour flight from Belfast so perfect for a weekend city break. There is an endless amount to see and just walked through the streets of Barcelona taking in the atmosphere is amazing.

So where is our next destination? Any recommendations?

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Beauty | Charlotte Tilbury just take my money!

A few weeks ago I journeyed into town after a hard days work and thought I deserved a treat. I needed to pick up a few bits and while I was there I thought I may as well have a look in the sale. What harm could that have. 

I walked with stealth through House of Fraser, straight past Mulberry (well I’d seen all there sale items online, no point in looking there). I came to an abrupt stop, right at the Charlotte Tilbury counter. I remembered a friend of mine recommended the overnight bronze and glow mask. When I seen her with no make up on, she looked amazing, glowy and tanned skin, I had to have this miracle worker. But of course I didn’t stop there. I decided to buy the all in one palette as well. £87 later I walked out, happy with my new buys…I then splurged a little more in the sales. 

But I’m not here to talk about my other purchases for it is Charlotte Tilbury that has really impressed me. I’ve bought a few things from her, mostly lipsticks and I love how every time I hear her speak she addresses us a darlings! 

The packaging is devine, slap on a bit of foil printing and I’ll pay double, it’s simple. The packaging on the overnight glow mask did throw me a little. Clearly there was a rebrand at some stage before this product was launched. On the tube a white and gold foiled sticker was carefully applied, not noticeable to the disconcerting. It most certainly hasn’t put me off. 

The overnight mask states that a thin layer should be applied over the face and décolletage, washing hands afterwards. Having very dry skin, normally face tans leave dry patches around my face but this couldn’t have been more hydrating. I woke up in the morning with a natural glow, one which I would have been happy to run to the shops with no make up whatsoever. It took the grey look out of my skin. I applied for 3 nights and left for 5 days. No funny fake tan smell either which is a huge plus for me! It wears off naturally with no patchy marks. I do my normal skin care routine with cleanser, toner & moisturiser afterwards, it didn’t notice this having an impact on it, but the glow is so natural, I doubt it would. 

Moving on to the instant look in a palette. I’m no make up artist but I do love a new palette. It’s taken me years to allow myself other eye shadow palettes without feeling like I’m cheating on the Urban Decay Naked range. There’s no doubt I still love it, and it is a tough one to beat. In all honesty I just never felt like I needed another range of colours, I keep it fairly neutral. But this palette was different, it’s not just eyes it’s so much more. 

By combining eyes, blush, bronze and highlight, it’s the perfect palette for travelling and is perfect for when I spend a bit of time away from home every now and again. I brought very minimal make up with me last week as we only brought hand luggage with us (light packers) and it was perfect for the whole trip! Perfectly pigmented and this will be my new go to for the foreseeable. 

It’s started to make me think about anything else I’m missing from my Charlotte Tilbury collection, I’ve focused most of my time wondering about my next Sephora buys that I forgot all about the fabulous brands we have here at home. Plus the staff in House of Fraser were so friendly and helpful, if they had shown me anything else I would have added that to my basket as well. 

What other Charlotte Tilbury products would you recommend? I think it’s time for another visit! 

Lashings of Love, 

K xo

Happy 2nd Birthday 

So today I’m celebrating the Little Lash Room turning 2, yes 2! The first year was filled with twists and turns and I learnt so much along the way. I suppose this year I feel like I’ve got my sh*t together and let’s face it, things come better in twos.

Why lashing? 

This is without a shadow of doubt the most frequently asked question. When girls first uncover that lashing is not my full time job they are immediately inquisitive, and understandably so. A couple of years ago I wanted to do something just for myself, prove to myself that I can do just about anything I set my mind to. I had just finished my masters degree which I had been studying part time for 3 years so I had a lot more time on my hands so couldn’t just sit down. I had been getting eyelash extensions for a while and became obsessed with them, never having them off. I wasn’t happy in my last job and really that was the push to make me go for it, something new. I took the plunge. I went for the training and quickly became addicted to my new craft. Looking back now, I needed a lot of practice but I was content with my progress. It took a long time but I pushed myself. Fast forward 2 years and I’m fully booked every evening forweeks and months in advance and couldn’t be more delighted with what we have achieved.

Sometimes I think it’s just me doing it on my own, but really it isn’t. There are lots of people in the background. I can’t go without mentioning my friends and family who have supported me along the way, I don’t know where I would have got to with out you. The likes, shares and telling all who listen. Mummy the eternal guinea pig who will let me try out any new product on her, so I knew exactly what I was offering. Chris, the receptionist and chief tea maker, many of you will meet Chris when he answers the door to tell you that I’m running late, usually because I’ve nattered on for much longer than I should, but hey, that’s all part of the experience. I’m so grateful for each and every girl who has ever crossed my door and given me your time, you girls are my therapy and when I’m asked how I do it, my answer really is you!

I now feel like I could do just about anything. This time 2 years ago I was sitting with no likes, followers and an appointment book with a lot of empty spaces. Honestly I didn’t really know what I was doing. This is my baby and I’ve watched it grow into something way more than even my expectations.

But there is more…Guess what, there is more than lashes, I’m no longer just the Little Lash Room. Along my journey you will have seen me reach some of my mile stones, I’ve bought a house, got engaged, planning my wedding, got a puppy and now celebrate 2 years of the Little Lash Room. Where did time go hey! Did I miss anything, probably yes, I spend very little time reflecting and look forward to whats ahead. But equally every day isn’t about milestones, some days it’s just having a good old moan about life, a walk in the park or a ginsecco with friends. Milestones are just a reference point on the road to show us how far we have come, but there is a big open road ahead and who knows where that can take us!

Looking back I can reflect on where I started and what I was and how I have evolved. I’ve become a real life adult, adulting all day long. The amazing girls I have met over the last 2 years and the friendships that have flourished! I’ve found my voice. It’s not just lashes, I’m so much more. I found my passion in so many other things than lashing and it’s honestly given me the confidence to try just about anything!

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Home | Footstool Frenzy

This week Chris and I enjoyed the bank holiday off, right in the middle of the week. It was such a beautiful day, we had a few things that we needed to do outside so thought we would take advantage of the sunshine.

The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman
The basis for this project was this wooden palette. I thought I would try and making a fabric footstool for our living room. Chris and I did it together and this is definitely a 2 person job!

Materials you’ll need:

  1. Wooden palette: whatever size you want your footstool to be. I got mine from work but you can find them just about anywhere.
  2. Legs: I chose the gold caster legs to match my sofa…and my new sofa which I’m ordering soon. I bought this from eBay but you could get legs just about anywhere.
  3. 5cm thick foam: to fit the size of the surface area of the footstool…I used several thinner pieces but the thicker piece is definitely better as I used more than I expected, it worked out more expensive and took much more time.
  4. 2cm thick foam: to fit the surface area and around the side of the footstool with enough to be stapled underneath
  5. Fabric: a little bit extra then the 2cm thick foam to cover the buttons
  6. Push together buttons

Tools you’ll need:

  1. Drill
  2. Saw
  3. Hammer
  4. Staple gun & staples (lots of staples)
  5. Long upholstery needle
  6. Thick thread

How to:

  1. Once you have found a wooden palette that’s the right size or cut it to the correct size, work out how many buttons you will want and the distance they should be. I chose to put a row in each of the pieces of wood. I measured out and drilled a hole while they should be placed. You may not want buttons in yours, and if not you’ll save about half the time in making this. Make sure that you give the palette a brush down now before it’s covered. The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman
  2. Place the 5cm foam on top (where you have drilled holes) and staple, as close to the bottom of it as possible, the entire circumference of the wooden palette to ensure it stays in place. The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman
  3. Lay the 2cm foam on the ground and flip wooden palette rover so the 5cm foam is laid down on the thinner foam  then pull it really tight and staple to the bottom. The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman
  4. Do the same process for the fabric making sure it’s pulled really tight and lots of staples are added around the base. Once the fabric is added cut off any excess and use this excess to cover the buttons. This can take a bit of time depending on the number of buttons you have. Mine were by no means perfect but once they were in the fabric on the stool I didn’t notice. The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman
  5. Add the buttons by threading through the holes you have drilled. Make sure you have an extra long needle to make sure it passes easily through the foam. Leave about half of the thick thread on the sewing side so you can tie the tread on the underside. Once you have threaded the button, tie the two ends and make a large knot. Pull the thread tight and staple down. This creates the dimples in the cushion. The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman
  6. Add the legs and you’re done! Test it out before anyone sits on it to make sure the legs are secure…

The Little Little Lash Room DIY Fabric Footstool Ottoman

It didn’t take us as long as I thought it would. It’s probably one of our most successful DIY projects we have completed to date. It was not expensive to complete, definitely much cheaper than buying. My friend Lindsey has put her order in for use to make one for apartment. I’m delighted with the result and hope you give it a go.

Nothing left for us to do than to put our feet up on our new footstool relishing in our efforts while thoroughly enjoy this beautiful Sunday.

Lashings of love,

K xo

Life | Taking time

If you hadn’t already guessed it from Instagram, I spent the weekend by the sea. The beautiful tranquil sea. The sound of the roaring white horses never sounded so good, well that was until we went to watch the sunset and I heard a bottle of prosecco pop! Two golf widows headed to a part of the world that means so much to me. Fresh air, beautiful views and a dog to walk we set out on our adventures. Now I feel totally relaxed. That’s another Monday over, but why the Monday dread?

There is absolutely no doubt that life is stressful in all aspects. People feel stressed for so many different reasons whether thats work, family or relationships.  I spent most of my time counting down the week and days until I’m off and can finally relax but why.

I love my marketing job, I love doing lashes and I love doing things around the house. These are the things that drive me, make me tick. So why do I count down days and weeks when life is already so short. This year has went by so quickly and maybe that’s just a sign of getting older. Months feel like weeks and I can’t believe 2017 is already over half way through (like when did that happen)!

It got me thinking, I know a very dangerous past time for those who know me. I have worked out the problem. I get stressed. I see stress as a sign of weakness, which of course it isn’t. To overcome that weakness I need to be busy to ensure that everything is running to plan. I’ve begun to understand that stress actually means I care about what I’m doing whether that’s work, home or play. It is not that I can’t do it. It is more about my determination to prove myself right. There are just a lot of balls to juggle and I really don’t want to drop one.

I’ve found that by taking myself away from the city to the seaside over the last couple of weekends has been a welcome relief. Not that I’m anymore stressed than usual. I think I just jump from one stress hurdle to the next, I can see the build up coming, I reach the peak and then I make the jump. Escapism is key. Whether it’s an episode of Love Isand (yes I love it…no shameful ) or a weekend away. We are very lucky to have the luxury of a seaside getaway. Now I need to find other ways to relax, whether thats yoga, mediation or just a walk with Piper. When I’m at home I actually find things to do that don’t really need to be done. I just can’t sit down, but that’s the problem. I need to sit down and enjoy life more. I really think we all do. In a world where I see more of my phone screen than my boyfriend, answer more emails than calls to my family and never switch off, I think I’ve found a new way to relax and it’s just bloody brilliant. Counting down to weekends like this really aren’t too bad. Every weekend won’t be like this, but it’s good to know I’ve somewhere to go to totally relax.

Let’s all go out and enjoy life a little more! Next step is a digital detox…maybe not just yet.

Lashings of love,

K xo

Stars & Stripes (well more stripes)

A couple of weeks ago when I was in Orlando, for work not pleasure, I just happened to be staying a short distance from a premium outlet (YAY!). Of course after a long day, I just had to journey over. Premium Outlets in the US are ideal for people who love a bargain from a premium brand, like the idea of TK Maxx but who don’t like going through the rails. These shops are in pristine condition, very tidy, organised and there are lots of everything in each size. Some of the shops are huge and the entire outlet will definitely have you making your step count for the day. There are so many sales people in each shop, the cut throat world of sales in America is one which us Brits can feel a little intimidated by, if you have never experienced it, upon entry you’ll be greeted with “how are you today”, “that’s a really cute outfit” or “can I help you with anything” and these questions flow constantly throughout your time there. Some people love this, I am not one of those people. I enjoy isolated shopping, thinking on my own and when I need help I’ll ask, this culture is very different. The bargains make it all seem a little more tolerable.

Now with a limited amount of time, I had to be strategic, I first found a map at the information booth and marked out all the places I had to go to then others I wouldn’t mind visiting if I had time. This should be everyone’s first point of call, here you will receive a discount book, some outlets there will be a small charge for this, but it’s worth it.

Basically I went to all the shops that mum and I had enjoyed when we first went to a premium outlet in New York a few months ago. This one was slightly different but all the core shops I needed were there. I first went to Tommy Hilfiger. Nothing haunts you like the things you didn’t buy right? When in New York, I seen a pair of espadrilles and for some unknown reason I didn’t buy them, maybe I’d already spent too much money or maybe I wasn’t thinking about summer when I was freezing in New York, whatever the reason, I have thought about them ever since so I knew I had to try. I made a dart for the shoes and thankfully there they were, I couldn’t have been happier and despite it being 11pm at night in the UK, I called mum to confirm they were in my possession. I looked around and picked up a few things for others and moved on. No time to waste.

Next stop Ralph Lauren, I wasn’t here for myself as I think I have every colour shirt that you could find or I will ever need. I picked up a few things for Chris, mum and my brothers and went on my way. When I’m here I like to make use of gathering up some items for what I refer to as ‘The Buffer’, these are items which I gather throughout the year for Christmas and birthdays so I won’t feel the pinch, especially at Christmas.

Kate Spade was next on the list and what I needed was a light grey bag (I use the term ‘needed’ loosely). I love the leather of these bags which make them perfect for a night out. No spill is a problem. I found a cross body bag which had both a long and short strap and could be used as a clutch for only $60…now that’s a bargain no one can turn down. It isn’t as grey as I would like but for that price I almost ran out of the shop with it.

I made a few other stops, Nike, Adidas, Converse but nothing there that really interested me.

I finally stopped in J Crew and I never have been into this shop before (!) but it’s lovely, quiet a few things caught my eye. I ended up with two stripped tops. Yes you got it, I’ve added more to my breton collection. I’m a breton addict and I admit it. By this time it was 10pm and ready for me to head home and settle with all the shopping I had obtained.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Home | New kitchen 

For the last 8 months we have been planning a new kitchen and honestly for my friends and family it has been relief as it has taken a huge focus on our life for the last number of months and now it’s complete. YAY! I’m so delighted, we had our ups and downs with this development and for new home owners this had probably been the most difficult job we have taken on so far. 2 months ago if you asked if I would do it again I would have said no, now I would happily do it all over again now that it’s finished and of course now  I know what I know.

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Before

Firstly I’ll take you back to show you what our old kitchen was like when we first moved it. I called it 50 shades of green. It’s ironic that this year Pantone said greenery was their colour of the year, I couldn’t agree less. After living with our previous kitchen the colour green has absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. The green kitchen cabinet was a different green from the tiles and they were a different green on the walls, it really frustrated me.

I decided that we needed to change it but we would have to save, other rooms got the priority and we began researching how we would go about getting a new kitchen and thankfully I had friends and family who were able to advise the person to do it and all it entailed.

It all started by reading a few country living magazines and pinning like crazy. I had the luxury of seeing my aunts and friends kitchens so I had a good idea of exactly what I wanted.

Not only was the aesthetics of the kitchen important but it also had to be practical. Despite the fact I rarely, and I mean rarely, cook we had to take into account that it had to be a better solution to what we had. Initially we had an L shaped kitchen but we needed to use the space we had better and also more storage, would be ideal. We designed a U shaped kitchen for more countertop space and more cupboard storage. One of my biggest pet peeves with the old kitchen was that there was so much sitting around on the work surface so it always looked messy, extra storage would definitely help with that. Plus the colour, oh the colour, was my greatest hatred. Changing your kitchen on a budget, sounds easy right, not so much, I think this has taught us both so much.

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With completely changing our kitchen shape that involve a lot more preparation before the cabinets could even start to be made. We had to lift the whole floor, change our radiator and more some electrical sockets and add in the function for the lighting as well as remove all the tiles and completely plaster all the walls. We had a electrical but our regular plumber was off working in England so we needed to find a new one…here begins the problems.

Lesson 1
You will be let down a lot!  

Getting a plumber seems like such a simple task but trust me it wasn’t. We asked countless plumbers to come to our house and very few actually showed and when they did we had one guy who was so inexperienced we couldn’t have hired him another who couldn’t do the job for a long time and another who was so expensive we thought he was trying to price us out and chance his arm. Quotes in, now lets get the job done…not so much, we were told on so many different occasions that they would be there some not showing up at all and others messaging to say they  had to complete another job. When I spoke with one of my lovely clients whose family owns a construction business she gave me this advice, make it worth their while. These construction companies are the bread and butter for the contractors we relied so heavily on so we would always be the second preference. Perseverance is key in this game.

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Lesson 2
Your timeline is not realistic.

With let downs and changes along the way it can be an ongoing battle for quiet a while. Be patient. We thought this would be complete within 4 months but in reality it took twice that time, maybe more. Really sometimes I just wanted to give up, I’m very impatient, firstly I wanted it done before we celebrated our first year in the house (November) then I wanted it done before Christmas then I gave up setting a date for it. We had arranged and rearranged work men to come and complete jobs before a final measure of the cabinets could be done.

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You can change your mind, it isn’t too late. 

When we first began all the final decisions hadn’t been made but we did had a good idea of exactly what we were going for. I had a style in mind so we had to make all the major decisions but there were details I was not sure of. Maybe because our final design wasn’t drawn on  piece of paper, there were no auto cad drawings and colour schemes, everything was kept in a folder, clippings, quotes and design ideas, nothing formal. We didn’t decide on the final colours, door design and the tiles until about 2 weeks before. Picking the colour for the kitchen was one which I thought about a lot and the Farrow & Ball How to Decorate book became my bible. I remember the days of just picked a colour I liked but this book explains exactly what colours suit which light and gives groups of colours that work together. In the end we choose to paint out bottom cabinets purbeck stone, top cabinets are wevet and the walls are painted blackened, all of which are easy neutrals. We had wooden boards painted and checked the colours at different times of the day to see how the light in the kitchen affected them. With a north face kitchen we needed a light kitchen as the sunlight doesn’t come streaming directly through the windows at any part of the day. This of course paired with a light grey marble worktop make it light and bright no matter what time of the day it is thus making it appear bigger that what it actually is.

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You will spend more than you originally budgeted. 

It didn’t take long for us to do the sums and soon realised exactly what we wanted would be way more than what we had budgeted for. We were sourcing everything ourselves rather than one contractor who does everything so its easy to get carried away. We added more cabinets, made them ceiling height and changed from a wooden worktop to a granite one, definitely an increase in budget. At the start we thought we would just make the kitchen look better, it’s not our forever home so really we didn’t need an expensive kitchen. The difficulty with this ethos is that once you go in to look the most expensive thing always looks the best. Chris got used to my eye wondering to the most expensive thing without even knowing it, he seems to think I have some sort of gift (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think it’s a gift but that’s what I like to call it!). Some things we did have to compromise on. Our washing machine and dishwasher are not integrated because we would have had to buy a small version for it to be integrated in and they were much more expensive that what we originally paid for our new dishwasher and washing machine. Really we couldn’t justify spending the same amount of money again although when we spoke to our kitchen maker he said it was something we could do later if we wanted so maybe we will get that done.

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Lesson 5
Let the dust settle.

It takes time but after each task let the dust settle and see what’s next. If your organising yourself its so important to keep in contact with everyone to let them know your timelines, we didn’t do this very well and I think that is why it took so much longer. Our kitchen maker came to our house to give us an idea of what we could do with the space, once we had a better idea we had some work to do. Firstly we had to get an electrician to move a light switch and out heating switch to make way for the new radiator. Then a plumber to get a new vertical radiator and move the heating pipes then of course another visit to actually fit the radiator. Then the electrician had to come back and wire the lights for under the cabinet cupboards. Then all of the disgusting green tiles had to be removed then we needed a plasterer to plaster the entire walls. Chris painted the entire kitchen and then we were ready for install. Getting the kitchen installed seemed like the end but it wasn’t, we could just see the light at the end of the tunnel. It then took a few days for the granite to arrive (once the kitchen is fitted they then take final measurements for install) and the electrician fitted the under cabinet lights and plumber had to return to fit tapes and plumb the sink…thankfully this all happened in the same week so our house was a complete mess. Dad then came a few days later and laid the floor. In all honesty we won’t keep this floor as now it is laid it is one of the most difficult floors to keep clean, not just because of our four legged friend but in general, one rainy day (and we have lots of these in NI!) and the floor is a mess. We are in talks (with each other of course) about getting a new floor in our living room and hallway so we may just change the kitchen floor when we do that. Even with it finished there are still things that need to be done, we need to change the microwave to a much smaller one that can fit behind the cupboard door which we had to remove to get the old microwave in. Its a work in progress and even when it’s ‘done’, its not really done!

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It will all be worth it in the end (this is the only thing that will get you through)!

 

 

The result, a kitchen not only that is aesthetically pleasing but also one I actually want to send time in. I’ve now found myself watching Mary Berry and writing down the recipe and planning it for dinner or dessert. I really have found a space which I enjoy spending time in. I even enjoy doing the dishes in out Belfast sink and I never thought I would say that, although I’m sure that novelty will wear off. Although this isn’t our forever home (we will still be here in a few years time) I think its a neutral kitchen which anyone can move into and enjoy. With real wood we have the ability to change the colour as we like, although the mention of this may send Chris over the edge if I suggest another project for him to complete. We have much more space now as well as much more light in our kitchen which makes it look it look so much bigger than what it was before. We built cupboards up to the ceiling and this has really increased the amount of space we have, although it most certainly isn’t for those everyday essentials, I can barely reach. More space has lead to a less clutter worktop which was exactly what I wanted, I’m absolutely delighted with it.

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K xo

Louboutins…worth the hype?

Last night I journeyed out in my Christian Louboutins, nothing special I know but last week someone was asking my advice for buying their first pair of Christian Louboutins. I initially wondered why, everyone’s style is completely different, and then I thought, this isn’t a new handbag, this is a pair of shoes which need to be worn there are more factors than does it look nice, can I afford it and is it practical. So are they worth the hype?

When I decided to buy my first pair of Louboutins there was no question of what I would get, the Prigalle 100, Christian Louboutins most classic high heeled pump. I decided on the nude Prigalle 100 as they are the most classic colour in my opinion and can be worn with just about any colour, black, navy, red, white the works. If this is your first pair, I can not recommend the nude colour enough as they really do go with just about everything and I can’t think of one outfit that I wouldn’t pair them with. I didn’t even consider the 120 heel height because frankly I’m not crazy and know they would not have been on my feet for a second without complaining.

No doubt they are beautiful, the stunning fine heel, shiny patent leather, the extreme pointed toe and of course the scarlet red sole, I was sold. On first inspection these are the perfect shoes, perfectly made, not a stitch out of place, and of course you would like to hope not with the cost of these.

All this being said they are sore, easily the most painful shoe I have ever had on. From the moment I put them on they pinched my feet. I would highly recommend going a half size bigger, the shoes are small fitting and narrow so that extra bit of room will definitely come in handy when you’re crippled walking. In other shoes when I go a half size bigger I notice my heel is falling out of the back but not with these, they are a snug fit, even a perfect cinderella fit if you will.

Worth the money?

At £425, its pricey and it’s where you wear them that is so important. If you fancy a night out were you dance the night away, have one too many glasses of prosecco and struggle to get a taxi home at the end of the night then loubs aren’t for you. Firstly I commend you if you can make it to the end of a night like this with loubs on. Secondly if you have bought shiny shoes then they will be get scuff marks, the high heel is so fine like a needle that the cap will come off if you walk over cobbled streets at all. If you intend to get a taxi from your home to your venue and you will have the opportunity to sit down most of the night, these are perfect. If you are buying a classic pair of shoes like these they NEVER go in the sale so don’t wait, only seasonal shoes go in the sale. I bought mine from Harper Belfast, they are fabulous, if a seasonal pair does take your fancy, they have a sale twice a year, around the first week of June and just after Christmas, although you have to be quick they have limited sizes and can only be bought in store, the sale is not included online.

The red sole – yes it gets scuffed which is heart breaking the first time you take them off however in Belfast (and I’m sure all of the UK) there are people who can add a red rubber sole. This rubber sole not only protects the sole of the shoe but also they are extremely slippery. The heel is also very delicate, I wear mine for a limited period of time and within 6 months I needed it replaced, again I have found the perfect cobbler who can fix them for me. It’s important to note that these shoes are not a life time investment, they are certainly an amazing quality but will need some TLC every time you wear them if you want them to stand the test of time.

Toe box and toe cleavage…say what!?!

Maybe I’m secretly an old women (not even a secret) but I didn’t know what toe cleavage was until someone mentioned it, I thought it was some kind of foot fetish, maybe it is but now I know its the area of the toes you can see when you are wearing your Prigalles. This is caused by the toe box, as it is very small. This small toe box is exactly what makes the shoes painful, you will feel a nipping from the toe box and really I am still waiting for this to be alleviated *prays*.

Would I buy again?

Of course I would. When I first got them, on the first night, I could barely take them off my feet were in so much pain. Does this pain deter me from putting them on at every available opportunity, of course not! A friend of mine has told me that she would like a pair for her wedding…now that is were I draw the line – more then 12 hours in these shoes, I can just about last 4 hours and thats with minimal walking around. The beauty of these shoes are sitting in a cocktail bar slowly sipping away the pain, I’m in a dream world, but honestly they are beautiful and take some time to get used too but once you do they are well worth it, well for an few hours anyway.

Lashing of Louboutin Love,

K xo

How to spend your time in New York

This day last month mum and I were enjoying the sights of NYC. When I came back from New York, I went to bed at 7pm and woke up the next morning at 7am, 12 hours sleep, it was almost like I was in a coma, I have never slept for that long. Clearly I didn’t miss anything in rainy Belfast and the exhaustion when I got home was well worth it. When I look back at everything we seen and did in New York, I’m so glad I came home absolutely exhausted with very little of our feet left, they truly had been walked off us both. Each day we walked no less than 10 miles with the longest day being 17 miles! In January it is freezing in New York but we hardly noticed with all the running around we managed to do. With tourist attractions and locations of interest on every corner, we journeyed out of our hotel with a map that has ended up dog-eared and folded in so many different ways. Mum is without a doubt one of my favourite people to take a city break with, every moment is precious and she really likes to get lots packed in so there was no time to settle into the room we headed straight out for a wander.

Day 1 : Thursday

Our hotel, The Wellington, was just off Time Square. We walked down at around 4pm and under the red stairs there was such a long queue for the Broadway tickets, we thought we would come back later and see if we had any chance so we headed off to our first stop, Ground Zero. Ground Zero was a subway ride away to Wall Street and all I can say is that the subway was an experience not my favourite form of transport, plus it is no London Underground. The London Underground has an amazing map and directions within are great but the New York subway was a nightmare to work out with very few staff available to answer questions. We eventually got the hang of it and hoped we were on the right way to our destination.

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Ground Zero did make us completely forget the subway experience as it is the quietest place in New York which is so peaceful. No matter what your thoughts are on 9/11 more than 3000 people died there, and the saddest thing was the women who were named with their unborn child. The size of the buildings around and the close proximity of the two buildings, it was the first time I felt that New York was small. This set a high for the trip, it was so moving and mum and I reflected on where we were when we heard about this momentous event and thinking about how our lives have changed since then. After Ground Zero we went for a walk around Wall Street and Courtland Street then got the subway back to Time Square.

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Time Square was our base point so we would always get the subway back here and then walk to our next destination. We walked a couple of blocks over to Rockefeller Centre, stopped for a coffee and watched people ice skating and took in the scale of Rockefeller Centre itself, standing at the bottom, we couldn’t see the top. It was beautiful with the evening setting in and the twinkly lights of New York City. It was here we stopped by Anthropology and I picked up a candle from my previous blog post. We then walked over to 5th Avenue and stopped in Saks. I had a look round while we were there but with the exchange rate and New York tax it really was much more expensive to buy any of the luxury items I had my eye on. We went back to Time Square to grab some dinner and this was when Time Square really took my breath away, it really looked like the city that never sleeps, in fact it was so bright, I could have put my sunglasses on. We made a quick stop to Sephora, and you can see what I bought in my last post, I really went for a tangle teezer because I forgot to pack one, and after a day of wearing I woolly hat, my hair was in great need of a good brush. After an exhausting day of walking around we made our way back to the hotel to get a good night sleep before another busy day. We grabbed a cup of tea in our hotel room and went straight to sleep…rock and roll!

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Day 2 : Friday

Friday was our main shopping day. I had asked lots of people about the outlets and did a bit of research to see which shops where at which outlet, where they were and how we would get there. After careful consideration we decided to go to Woodbury Common and after lots more research we decided to go by the bus at Port Authority. The bus is pretty cheap from there and it runs every 30 minutes from 9am with the last bus leaving at 9pm, lots of time for us to get our shopping fix. When we arrived at Port Authority we were advised by what I can only describe as the most unhelpful information desk ever…he proceeded to tell us to go in the opposite direction to buy a discount book from a random man but I refused not only because it sounded dodgy but because I had been advised that if we arrived with our passports we would get it from free the information desk at Woodbury Common…we went on our own way despite his disgust. When we eventually found the ticket desk (Port Authority is the biggest bus station in NYC) we were delighted that we made the first bus and were on our way. Woodbury Common is about 1 hour outside of New York and it’s crazy how quickly we left the high rise buildings and travelled through suburban New Jersey, I just loved looking at the different style of houses and gardens and thought about the number of people who travel into New York every single day, it really makes my journey to work seem so simple. When we arrived we called at information and as expected we showed our bus ticket and passport and got a free discount book, now it was time to see what discounts would be worthwhile and come up with a plan for how we would tackle the day. We stopped for a McDonalds breakfast and made a plan. I had thought about buying a pair of Valentino Rockstuds while I was in New York and with a Valentino in this outlet, I would have a look there, we made that our first stop. I left disappointed with the shoes from previous season more expensive than they are at home plus they didn’t have any in my size…oh well more to spend in some of the other shops. Initially we walked in 3o lots of different shops and didn’t buy anything so we decided to focus.

The sheer magnitude of this outlet is a lot to take in. I made a stop to Thomas Pink and picked up a shirt for Chris, The Cosmetic Company, which was such a good find, and picked up a few past season items, Estee Lauder Doublewear and a Mac Lipstick as well as a few gifts it really was a bargain. We went to Kate Spade and I picked up a cross body cream bag and again a few gifts for people. Things got serious when we went to Ralph Lauren, it’s a personal favourite for mum and I, not only did we pick up somethings for Chris and my brothers but we also managed to pick up a lot of bargains for ourselves, so much so that we came back again later. We skipped over to Tommy Hilfiger and it was brilliant and with a breton or two later we left and went to Under Armour, Levis and Nike. We made a stop in Jimmy Choo to have a look at wedding shoes but without a dress we couldn’t really make a purchase although we do have a better idea of what I’m looking for. Honestly we went into so many shops I couldn’t even name them all but overall I really enjoyed Woodbury Common. We left at 7pm on a full bus, meaning we had bags at our feet and our lap we had just bought so much but never the less I was glad to be on our way back to our hotel. We walked straight back to our hotel and reviewed our purchases, my feet were well and truly sore after a day of very little rest.

Day 3 : Saturday

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After a busy few days of walking more than 10 miles a day we took the morning easy. New York is like every other city or town on a Saturday morning, its got the Saturday hustle, not as busy as normal but still errands to be run. We grabbed breakfast and took a walk around Central Park, it was a really relaxing walking round, surveying all the Park Runners, dog walkers and a wedding photoshoot, taking every moment in. We kept a spot that we would be able to come out of again, the magnitude of Central Park is huge, I thought we had walked the length of it in an hour but really we had only walked the width. Signage wasn’t really great in the park but we did find our way around so it was fine.

We walked out of the park and walked to the New York City Library, it was just getting close to 10am so we had to wait outside for a couple of minutes on the steps but of course that wasn’t a waste of time, there is always a photo opportunity. Walking up the steps to the NYC Library I remember seeing this very scene in Sex and the City. I just love reading and the stories this library held, we took a walk around and see the various different rooms and the best part is that it’s free to walk around and see. We took our time walking around reading the tourist information and their was an art exhibition while we were there so we got to see something extra. Serious marble envy, the walls were amazing and the interior alone made me want to stay. There is a gift shop but nothing really we were interested in so we left and went on our travels.

Back out in to the freezing cold and we wrap up warm and got walking again. We walked around to Grand Central Station, a pinnacle point for New York and seen in many movies, initially when we walked into the Grand Hall of the station I was shocked at how small it was, although it wasn’t until we tried to find the subway that we got a little lost, it really was huge, I had completely underestimated its size.

Finally getting on the subway we made our way to the bottom of Manhattan and walked to the Staton Island Ferry Port, it was really busy with sales people and well I guest we just looked like tourists so we were hassled while we were trying to walk in. We were told it would be a 2 hour wait because we had not pre booked so we decided against it. We walked outside and walked over to the see the Statue of Liberty from the end of the Island, it was absolutely freezing so we were pleased that we didn’t do the boat tour but still got to see the Statue of Liberty.

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After we walked to the Dead Rabbit, where we seen the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, which was just a few streets away and was a welcome relief from the cold. Walking along a quirky street, we couldn’t have missed it, it stood out for all the right reasons, not to mention the sign at the very top of the building, worlds best bar. The street was quiet so it was a great opportunity to get some pictures and then we went in to the heat. On entry to see the sawdust on the floor and the pictures around the wooden bar, it felt like a bar from a small town at home, it was comforting after a few days in the US. It came as no surprise that this was were Irish people came to gather, when we walked in there was only one group of people sitting a mix of Irish and American but then we were later joined by another couple from Belfast who, like us, were visiting the bar for the first time. Mum and I perused the cocktail list and chose one, such a tough decision as there were so many that looked delicious. We stayed for the drinks and then left, it was starting to snow outside and we wanted to get back to Time Square to see about a Broadway Show.

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After getting lost trying to find a subway and with no cabs around we wandered around and eventually got the subway back up to the Centre of Manhattan and somehow ended up on 5th Avenue and walked past the Empire State Building, Trump Tower, made a stop in Tiffany’s, for looking only, then walked past the Paris Theatre and off into Central Park again. This time we wanted to go for a walk to see the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot and the Strawberry Fields Gardens back in Central Park. Walking through Central Park at night was beautiful and gave us a completely different perspective of just how big it is.

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We walked back to Time Square about 7pm to see if there was any chance of tickets, we went to see The Perfect Crime, an off Broadway Show. This by far was the busiest night at Time Square where we seen a proposal, multiple street artists and a multitude of selfie sticks on the red stairs. By 10.30pm when it was over, my eyes were feeling heavy and we headed home to pack our bags so we were ready to leave the hotel in the morning. I checked my Apple Watch and we had walked a total of 17 miles in 1 day and now we were really starting to feel every step.

Day 4 : Sunday

A later start than normal but we had a lazy breakfast in the Hard Rock Cafe after packing and getting ready to leave. The last 3 days had really started to take its toil on us and we definitely were not moving as quickly as we previously had.

We walked around Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue, seeing Andy Warhols Original Factory, Marilyn Monroe’s famous subway grating and Studio 54 which is now a theatre. We walked past Trump Tower and were amazed to see the level of security outside, mum had never been inside a Trump Tower before so we went in and had a look at the tacky insides. Shops were just beginning to open and we went into Diptyque and Aesop, my new favourite shop!

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We continued walking up until we got to The Met by this stage we were both so tired from our previous few days we sat on The Met steps *Gossip Girl Fangirl* and soaked up the rays. This was the first time we really seen a lot of sun and it really was such a good day we just enjoyed the sunshine, it was so warm so we grabbed a cold drink, people watched and rested for a while. We didn’t have time to go into The Met so we eventually walked through Central Park back to the hotel to collect our bags and make the journey home which was seamless.

I had such an amazing time in New York and my top tip is, do your research first, when you get there, there are so many people who are trying to sell things to you on the street plus your hotel is helpful but they have sources who they work for and more often than not they were more expensive. When we wanted to go to Woodbury Common we could have got a mini bus from our hotel which would leave at 11am and collect us at 5pm and it was $85 each whereas the bus from Port Authority just a few blocks away was $82 for the both of us plus we didn’t know if we would either be there that long or if we would require more time.

If I were to go again, firstly I would go at a different time of year, when it is much warmer and I would like to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and also take the Staton Island Ferry there and back to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty.

Until next time New York!

Lashings of Love,

Kerrie

Shopping in New York | Beauty Edit

New York is amazing for sightseeing but we also did some shopping while I was there (it would be rude not too!). I did see the usual Zara and H&M but with limited space in my suitcase I reserved the room for brands that we cannot get in the UK, I’m going to make a statement that maybe won’t sit well with some people but I don’t really like the women’s clothes in the US, other than brands that we have at home, they just really aren’t for me. I had imagined Olivia Palermo fashionistas walking the streets but I didn’t see it, maybe because it was so frigging cold! Honestly I didn’t buy as much as I anticipated (I’m sure Chris is delighted), most things that I can get at home were much more expensive in New York and when the exchange rate isn’t in our favour that really doesn’t help either. In saying all this it didn’t stop me from heading to a few of my favourite shops!

First stop Sephora, as we were staying in Time Square, where there was a huge Sephora and there is a beautiful older building which Sephora is in on 5th Avenue, the options are endless. Having been to the US a few times in the last 6 months, initially I went mad but this time I was very specific in what I was looking for. Thanks to the Anna Edit I had to try the It Cosmetics, your skin but better, a creamy full coverage with my favourite feature, a pump, to dispense the product. So far so good! Of course I bought it on the first day and couldn’t wait to try it on the second. It didn’t feel heavy but covered my pigmentation and give a glowy finish, something I’m not used to with full coverage foundations.

While in Sephora I also picked up the Becca Highlighter. I haven’t really got on to highlighters, I spent a small fortune on the Anastia Beverley Hills contour and highlighter kits and although I love the powder and the cream contour, unfortunately I have yet to use the highlighter more than a few times. My highlight doubts changed after Simone said it was the holy grail of highlighters so I most certainly had to give it a whirl. I love the consistency of the product and have started to use it differently to other highlighters -if I’m not wearing much make up I will put it under my skin to fake a natural glow…it works a treat!

The last thing I bought in Sephora was their face masks, I just love the dry skin mosturising face masks so I made sure I stocked up on them while I was away. Now I have my next few Sunday night facials sorted! I also picked up some Bumble&Bumble sea salt strap and a tangle teaser, silly me, I completely forgot to pack them but another one won’t hurt.

With the weather being so cold outside and inside being so hot with heaters my skin has really felt the consequences. It has been so dry, flaky and altogether gross! While I was in Woodbury Common shopping outlet I called in to the Elizabeth Arden to get some 8 hour cream. At only $10 I bought two, for that price it was well worth it!

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Last beauty stop, Aesop. This was a definite on my list as the last time I stopped by, the shop was closed for lunch and I was devastated. Someone had told me how amazing this brand of skincare was but with a higher price bracket, I didn’t mind, I had read such good reviews I had to give it a go. Plus seeing it around Rebecca from Roses & Rolltops house and it just looked so beautiful, it was the perfect edition to my bathroom, packaging really does mean a lot. We wandered up Madison Avenue and eventually we found it, a quaint store with no fuss, from the moment mum and I walked through the door we were in love before we had even said hello to the girl who helped us. The industrial walls with an old mismatched tiled floor, dark wooden shelves and black rails with an old sink, it was to die for. This was the first shop that I didn’t feel pressured to buy something. The girl asked what we were looking for and I told her about my very dry skin and she picked out a few items and tested them on my hands. No harsh chemicals or alcohols insight. I decided to get the Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil and the Damascan Rose Facial Treatment. They left my skin feeling clean, soft and most importantly hydrated. Since I have started used the oil every couple of days for the last couple of weeks, I have seen a huge change in my skin with no flaking and it seems to be less inflamed. The last thing I bought was the mouth wash, an unnecessary purchase I know, but I just loved the bottle, it looks so medicinal, I doubt it will be used very much just because I really just like the look of it but maybe when I start using it, I may just love it.

Not at all beauty related but I did make a stop in Antropologie *PLEASE COME TO BELFAST*. I easily could have decorated our home with the gorgeous items in store but I kept it to a minimum with very little room in my case, buying a gold initial mug and one of their candlefish candles, it’s official I’m a candle fiend! Anthropologie candles are without a doubt my favourite in terms of burning and smell, I think they burn so evenly throughout and the smell is divine around the house, I can easily smell it upstairs when it is burning in the living room (no offense Jo Malone or Diptyque, I still love you too!). I did spot a ‘Hello Lovely’ marble chopping board but it was easily 3 kilograms so it would definitely have put me over weight…I’ll maybe order it online now I’m home!

Lashings of Love,

Kerrie xo