Saturday, January 31

Turtle Bay Restaurant & Southampton Bloggers Meet Up ♡

Today I had the very lovely pleasure of hanging out and enjoying lunch with these gorgeous girls and fellow bloggers from Southampton! Technically I'm from Bournemouth but this is about my 3rd/4th time I've been invited along and I always thoroughly enjoy them!

We visited Turtle Bay Restaurant in Southampton, somewhere I hadn't been before. It's a gorgeous little Caribbean chain with a great vibe and food to match. I opted for the Pulled Pork Bun and scoffed it quicker than you can blink! They use a brioche bread with some sweet potato fries on the side and it was well worth £7.95 for lunch. I also chose the Berry Smoothy (why they spell it with a y I don't know!) which again, I definitely could have indulged in a second one, it tasted like drumstick sweeties!

We chatted about all things blogging, Netflix and plans for 2015. I'm super excited for Jess organising a Southampton Fashion Show later in the year, so look out for that! Natasha is expecting a little baby girl and wedding planning at the same time, so it was lovely to hear how her pregnancy was treating her. Samantha's hair is no longer pink and she's started a YouTube channel, woo hoo! Faye also has a channel which you can check out here. Plus, it was the first time I'd met Connie and Catherine who were equally as lovely as everyone else. These are some of the nicest girls I've ever met and can honestly class as friends now!

Overall it was a very lovely catch up and I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Thanks girls, until next time!


Thursday, January 29

Primark Haul 2015 ♡


Monday, January 26

The Konjac 100% Natural Vegetable Sponge

I've had this product for a couple of months after I received it in a goodie bag at a Southampton bloggers event. There's been so much hype about electronic cleansing brushes recently but I've still stuck to using my Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish and the muslin cloth it comes with. As this is a little step up from a muslin, I thought I'd give it a go and share my thoughts!

What is a Konjac Sponge?
It's made with 100% natural konjac fibres from the root of the amorphophallus konjac plant, which is a naturally rich edible plant. The net like structure of the sponge gently massages and stimulates blood flow for new growth of skin cells and to help leave it feeling extremely soft, clean and refreshed.

What are the key benefits?
It gently exfoliates, r
efines pores and conditions the skin. It's also gentle enough for the delicate eye. I really love the fact it's kind to the environment being 100% natural, colouring free and biodegradable too!

How do you use the sponge?
Easy! You just rinse and massage straight onto the skin in small circular movements. A cleanser is completely optional however, I do prefer using it with my Liz Earle cleanser personally. You then hang in a cool and ventilated area to air dry! It'll need changing every 1 - 3 months.

How did your skin feel?
Not too much different from my muslin cloth however, I've much prefered using this. The shape makes it really easy to hold in the palm on my hand and it gently exfoliates without feeling harsh or scrubby on my skin. I don't take my makeup off with it however, I can go over my eyes with my cleanser which feels super nice. I've also used it on the tops of my arms as I have little red bumps called Keratosis pilaris. There's no cure for this, so I have struggled to find products which are gentle enough to exfoliate with and this is just perfect for my upper arms too!

Who would you recommend it for?
All skin types to be honest! I have dry, eczema prone skin and it didn't dry mine out at all.

How much is it?
It's £7.99 on Amazon and you can read more about it on their website here too!


Friday, January 23

Pre-Travelling Wishlist #1 | Trek America

Most of you know by now that I'm off to see the West Coast of America in June & July with a company called Trek America. If you missed it, I wrote all about it here - Trek America Adventure. I've started to compile a packing list and am currently having an absolute field day adding items to my basket on Amazon that I'd like to buy (I don't even care that it's six months away). In the countdown to the big trip, and to share my excitement, I'm going to be posting pre-travel wishlists with you!

1 | First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask
Okay, so I won't actually be taking this to America with me however, winter is the perfect time to prep my skin ready for all the rays I'll be catching! As I
'll most likely be wearing no make up 99% of the trip, I've been on the hunt for a new face mask to kept my skin glowing. I've heard amazing things about this one and know oatmeal is such a lovely ingredient on my eczema. I think I'm going to buy this on payday.

2 | Vapour Reflex Reusable Plastic Water Bottle

I don't particularly want to carry a big water bottle on the trip so when I discovered this, I thought I'll be perfect! It stands up when it's filled with water but folds and rolls up small when empty. I like the fact it's got a clip on it too so I can secure it to my backpack whilst we're walking places. Ingenious! 

3 | Moleskin Travel Journal
I've been looking at apps that might be handy however, I don't think they quite beat physically writing down my travels. This Moleskin one has a little pocket at the back to store tickets, postcards and other miscellaneous notes which I really like. I'm going to try and write what I've done every single day and this is one of the nicest journals I've found so far.

4 | Anker 2nd Gen Astro Portable Charger
Currently reduced from £89.99 to £29.99, I'm VERY tempted to pick myself up one of these.
I'm going to be staying in hotels, motels and hostel type accommodation each night so I'm sure I'll be able to find a plug however, we've got a few long car journeys and I want to guarantee that my phone will stay charged. According to my brother, the fact this is 16000mAH (no, I've not a clue either), means it's a good one.

5 | GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition Adventure
My brother already owns the first generation GoPro and we absolutely love it. We've used it skiing, surfing, swimming, you name it, and I'd LOVE to document some of my trek using one. They don't come cheap though so although I'd love a brand new one, I might have to search for a second hand one on eBay, haha!


Wednesday, January 21

5 Lessons I've Learnt About Starting A New Year. ♡

Last year, I started a new series on my blog called "Lessons I've Learnt". It started after the success of my breakup with my ex and the lessons I learnt in love, and more recently, the lessons about life in general too. So today, as we're now almost a month into 2015, I wanted to share five new things that I've learnt about starting a brand new year. You might be able to relate to some, but either way, I'm really feeling the positivity!

One ♡ Let go of the past.
Possibly the most overplayed song of 2014 but my favourite line in Frozen's 'Let It Go' is "I'm never going back, the past is in the past". It reminds me to stop being so hung up on things that you cannot change. Starting a new year has really given me the strength I needed to finally let go of all the things that pulled me down the year before. By no means do I regret the relationships and career changes I had as they taught me so much, but I'm ready to leave those things behind me now. Onwards and upwards.

Two ♡ Use time to build your goals.
In previous years, I've made massive lists of all sorts of resolutions I've wanted to achieve but reality is, I never actually complete the list and by March I've normally thrown them all out the window anyway. This year, I've decided to get rid of putting pressure on myself to achieve them and instead, build realistic goals as I go along. I might even make a 'vision board' with thoughts, ideas, motivational quotes and pictures. Pinterest has been great for recently though, especially using the app before I go to sleep. (ps. You can follow me here!)

Three ♡ Get out of your comfort zone, at least once.
I've noticed that I'm getting much better at this and with a new year, I'm going to push it a little bit more. I always feel such a sense of achievement when I do something that no one else (including myself) thought I'd ever be able to do. Which is why I booked myself on a trek around the West Coast of America for two weeks in June! It's going to be amazing and I wrote about it here - Treak America Adventure.

Four ♡ Working hard pays off.
At the end of last year I left my full time office job for a part time one elsewhere so I could focus on my blog and YouTube more. With the start of 2015, I've been really motivated and setting my own goals, one of which being to upload a new video twice a week. So far, I've been doing really well and I'm starting to see the hard work pay off. I don't expect YouTube to ever be my full time job (amazing if it ever was!), but it's all the behind the scenes opportunities that are coming my way that make me really, really happy.

Five ♡ Stop searching for love.

It's actually quite hard for me to admit this but for a girl who's always been in and out of relationships the last five years, I've never liked being single. However, with the start of a new year I've decided to put aside thinking I'm going to find 'the one' and come to terms with the fact that the right person will come along at the right time. There's loads of great things about being single, so I've stopped feeling sorry for myself and realised that this is a good thing for me. For now.

I think I've learnt a lot already to be honest, how do you feel about a new year? Does it give you any new found inspiration?


Saturday, January 17

New Baby Unisex Gift Ideas | Under £20!

Someone asked on Twitter for gift ideas for a Maternity present and it gave me loads of inspiration as once upon a time, I was a manager in a baby and children's shop and used to sell these things all the time! Although I don't have children of my own, and my blog isn't normally aimed at parents and children, lots of my friends are approaching an age where they're getting engaged and having babies, so I'm pretty confident in sharing my knowledge and that these would make great little gifts for a new parent.

Skibz Dribble Bibs - £8.00
We all know babies go through lots of clothes and bibs, so a really practical present is a dribble bib. I used to sell loads of these from a brand called Skibz, they're of really high quality and fasten nicely with a popper at the back. They've won a ton of awards and rightly so, they're gorgeous. I was continually told that they wash well and are super stylish and cute on too! I'd 100% buy one of these myself for a new parent.

Sophie La Giraffe Original Teether - £11.88
I can't even begin to tell you how many of these I used to sell. Babies won't need teething toys straight away however, Sophie La Giraffe is one of the best. The long legs and top of the head get the molars at the very back, it's made of 100% natural rubber and is so affordable too! Even if someone else gets this, Mum and Dad will need a few for the car, handbag, cot etc. I once had a lady waiting outside my shop before I had opened asking "Please tell me you have a Sophie in stock, we lost ours and he hasn't stopped crying all night, I'm desperate!".

Daisy Roots Bunny Baby Shoes - £11.95
I really love this brand as they come in a gift box and make such an easy present. Babies kick off their socks all the time, so pram shoes are really practical. Daisy Roots sell all different designs so if you do know the sex, take a look because they have some really cute ones. They're made of a super soft leather and have a non-slip sole, so you could even look at buying a big pair in size 6-12m or even 12-18m for when they're starting to walk instead too.

Happy Horse Rabbit Twine 3 - £17.70
Babies get gifted lots of toys but some people really like buying and giving them. Therefore, I've included the best seller from my store, the Twine Rabbit from Happy Horse. Again, a great brand for all different toys but this is absolutely adorable. It's got no beaded eyes so is super safe for a newborn and I guarantee that he or she will probably end up loving it. To be honest, I even wanted one for myself it's that cute!

Natures Purest Organic Cotton Bodysuits - £16.50
This is another brand I'd sell a lot, especially if you don't know the sex. They sell a great range of dressing gowns, sleeping suits and gift sets however, if you're looking to gift some clothes these little bodysuits come in a pack of three and are so practical. Mum can mix and match them with any outfit and the best part is that they're made with 100% natural and pure cotton. They're also packaged beautifully in a little gift box, so you don't even have to worry! 

I know it's a bit of a miscellaneous post on my blog today however, I really hope this gives you some inspiration if you don't have children and aren't sure what to buy! Let me know if you're a mummy yourself and what you think in the comments!


Sunday, January 11

Roxy Long Haul Ultraviolet Suitcase

I'm off to America for almost three weeks in June with Trek America (find out more here!) and after lots of research and recommendations from friends, decided to buy myself a new case. I've always prefered the hard 4-wheeled type cases for my beach breaks abroad, but due to the nature of having this lifted on and off a van and needing quick easy access every so often, I was on a mission to find the perfect girly suitcase and what better brand to go for, than Roxy!

I first saw this when Victoria from InTheFrow mentioned it for her own Trek America trip. I was worried it might be too big, but I really wanted something that I could fit a lot in (without hopefully ov
erpacking) and still have space if I wanted to bring anything home too. I've had a smaller Roxy case in the past and it's still going strong, so I didn't hesitate to trust the brand. Plus, it's SO pretty!

I went for the Ultraviolet colour because in all honesty, it was a choice between two at only £57.50 (half price), whilst the other colours were £80.50, all reduced from £115.00! It's from their
 S/S '14 collection but it's the exact same style case (long haul) and once I got it in person, I literally fell in love! It won't show any dirt but is still eye-catching enough for when I'm collecting at baggage reclaim and during my travels.

Features include two wheels, two compartments, front pockets and a roxy lock. The dimensions are 42 x 76 x 34 cm and has a 110 litre volume capacity, plenty of space for all my stuff. It stands up without falling over and feels of really high quality. I'm pretty chuffed that I got it at half price, it'll last me for years to come!


Thursday, January 8

Booking My Trek America Adventure! | #trekamerica

I'M GOING TO AMERICA, WOOO! *sings Miley Cyrus Party In The USA*
(I swear, I'm LITERALLY jumping on a plane to LAX...)

On January 2nd 2015, I booked possibly the most exciting adventure of my whole life. It was pretty spontaneous and although is going to cost me a small fortune in total (bye life, hello budgeting), I've never been more ready my very first solo adventure!

At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to do more things just for me. It's the first time I've been single in a while and although this hasn't hindered my decisions before, I highly doubt I would have taken the plunge if I'd still been with someone (because let's face it, it's SO much easier to go away with a boyfriend on an all inclusive beach break). I originally started looking at Camp America to work and travel, but after lots and lots of research came to the conclusion it wasn't for me. I got a new job in November, I'm pretty happy there and don't want to leave to work abroad, but I still had a travel bug in me that was itchy to book something.

When the New Year rolled around, I couldn't help but really feel the whole 'New Me, New Year' thing. I asked work if they'd be flexible in letting me take three week off in the summer and being the super lovely people they are, they agreed. (I even sent them the link to show them exactly what I'm doing!). My mum was an Au Pair in San Francisco at a similar age to me now, and I've heard many amazing stories about the things she did and saw out in America. So when I pitched the idea to her, she was super keen and supportive (thanks Mummy), so I clicked 'booked', paid the deposit and it's been 6 days since and I'm STILL so giddy about it.  

"So Brogan, where are you going?!" I'm starting in LA, trekking around the West Coast of America for two weeks, before finishing back in LA. (check out the map!!) I'm going with a company called Trek America, who've been running since 1971 and are pretty well known for their camping and solo adventures.

The trek I booked is called the Westerner 2, but I went for the Budget Lodging Tour (BLT) version as I like a bed at night! The exact same trek is available if you'd like to camp; and although I don't mind being in a tent, I prefer the idea of little cabins/motels/hotels knowing that after a really long day I'm going to (hopefully) get a good nights sleep. I looked at doing the Southern Sun trek (equally as good), which goes right across America, but having already visited New York and Florida and it being a bit longer, I thought I'd keep this trek to areas I've never visited before. Plus, two weeks felt like a good amount of time.
I fly out to LA at the end of June, will be in San Francisco for the 4th July (way too excited about that) and return home 10th July. The trek itself is two weeks long but I'm staying a day before and few days after so in total, I'll be away for 18 days.

I'm going all on my own but will be meeting 13/14 other trekkers just like me. Trek America actually told me that there's two girls travelling together, but the rest of us are solo travellers too. 
We're all aged 21-27 (we'll have no problem with those drinking laws!) and we'll have a trek leader who'll be with us every step of the way. Trek America is open for anyone aged 18-38, so it's great we're all of similar ages, although it wouldn't have bothered me anyway.

I'm most excited about meeting new people, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and experiencing Independance Day in San Fran. I've watched god knows how many YouTube videos and to be honest, everything looks amazing. Yosemite National Park will be beautiful, especially as I studied it at school for so long. I've climbed Snowdonia in the UK and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, so any hiking (despite how girly and unfit I am) won't be new to me either.

This trip doesn't come cheap, but as I'm turning 21 in March and not only want to remember this as the year of adventures, I couldn't think of a greater gift to ask from my family than the experience and opportunity to travel. I'm actually really late to the game as apparently, most people booked their treks MONTHS before me, but I was happy to get some discount and the very last space. When Trek America told me I was their final passenger to complete the date for that tour, it honestly felt like fate.

I could ramble on for so much longer about this but for now, this is part one of many blog posts to come. I'll be sharing hauls of things I've bought, my packing before I leave and of course, I'll be vlogging whilst I'm there too. I'm going to try and not live the trip through the camera (my batteries won't last anyway, haha) and will most likely vlogs bits and bobs for memories and to share with you. Either way, there's going to be loads of content. To be honest, I probably won't shut up about it. Especially on Twitter. Sorry in advance. ;) 

I'm also going to take this moment to say a MASSIVE thank you for all your incredible tweets and messages of support and love. You guys are the best. Honestly.

Here's to a New Year, new 'me', a new adventure and cracking my first new year's resolution; getting out of my comfort zone more!  If you've done Trek America let me know your tips and tricks below or join in and follow my journey by tweeting me @brogantatexo. S'laters!


Wednesday, January 7

Christmas Skiing | Les Ménuires, France

Last month, my gift for Christmas was a super incredible trip skiing with my family! I'm an avid skier and have gone almost every single year, so you can imagine my excitement getting my boots and skis back on again. It always feels so wintery to me and is one of my favourite sports.

This year, we stayed in the Three Valleys in the Alps in France; an area called Les Ménuires. It's not far from Val Thorens (lots of uni's go here!), Meribel and Courchevel. It was great for wide open red runs and we were blessed with sun and snow, but it lacked pretty tree-lined runs which we normally ski in areas of Italy. Lots of you ask my best recommendation and honestly, my favourite place I've skied is Sestriere in Italy. None the less, this was still absolutely brilliant and I loved it all!

We stayed in Hôtel Les Bruyères which was super modern, friendly and ski-in, ski-out (very convenient for lazy me after a day on the slopes!). The food was very À la carte and I enjoyed it almost every single night (including the homemade French desserts too, mmm!). I highly recommend getting yourself a French crêpe and hot chocolate if you ever visit the mountains, so so good! Les Ménuires was a super pretty town; I loved seeing all the little traditional French shops and practising my basic knowledge of the language!

I had such an incredible time that I actually filmed the whole thing for my YouTube channel, so if you missed the vlogs be sure to check the playlist out below! Plus, if you're going away yourself or would like some recommendations for things to pack skiing, I've also done a video on my top tips and essentials.

My boots and gear is all packed away now until next season (booo!), but it was a truly wonderful holiday and I only wish I was still there (rather than back to work with January blues). Have you ever skied or would like to try it? Let me know!


Saturday, January 3

Triumph Magic Wire Bra

A few months ago, I was kindly invited down to Beales in Bournemouth to be properly fitted and try Triumph's newest invention, the 'Magic Wire' bra. I was greeted by a lovely lady called Yvonne who confirmed my size and taught me about the new bra; we can apparently now say goodbye to discomfort and redness as this is designed to feel like second skin! It has an invisible integrated silicone strip in the moulded cups, that supports the contours of your bust like a regular wire bra whilst also creating a cleavage. It doesn't pinch, constrict you moving and washes so well without the problem of the wire ever 'poking' out. (I really hate when that happens.)

I was under the impression that if you're wearing the right size bra, the wire should never really be uncomfortable for you. However, I put this bra to the test and wore it to work, travelling 15 hours home from a holiday and casual shopping in town. I came to the conclusion that this really is best for casual/comfy days, or sitting at my desk at work, where I'm in a similar position for 8 hours.

Although I don't see any improved comfort in comparison to some of my other bras, it is honestly one of the comfiest I've worn. The hook-and-eye closure doesn't dig in, the lining is silky and the material is of really high quality. It's a perfect everyday bra and the shape means you can pretty much wear any type of neckline too. At £36.00, this is super affordable for an everyday bra. It has a lovely contrasting nude bow, lace underlining and straps giving it a neat, modern look and feel.

Magic Wire is available in Triumph retail stores, John Lewis, House of Fraser, selected independent retailers and online here - Magic Wire.

 *This product was kindly given to me for review purposes.
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