Love Jenuine

 

Finding out your pregnant is so exciting (for most), but once the news has settled in, and your reading up on everything you need to get for your new arrival, it can be a daunting task.

As a self-confessed shopaholic, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to buying new baby clothes, but once i started doing some research i realised, i needed to furnish a whole new room, there were gadgets for everything, from breast pumps to nappy bins, to a nasal aspirator. Where did I start?

Once I had got some advice, from other mums, my own mum and the midwife I made a list of the priority items we needed. However to create this list you still have to answer some questions.

How are you going to get the baby around, will you use a pram or sling?  do you need a carseat? or two?

Where will the baby going to sleep?

Are you going to breastfeed?

I decided we needed some help, so where better to go than The Baby Show – the biggest national baby event, it would have everything under one roof, and we could just take the challenge head on. This also suited my other half, as he could just do it all in one day.

The Baby Show has most of the top baby brands, but it also has smaller stalls for independent brands, which I found better for once you’ve had the baby as then tend to be clothing brands or gadgets you don’t really need till the baby is 6-months+.

The bigger brands will have plenty of offers on the larger items such as your travel system, your nursery furniture. For example we got our Mamas + Papas travel system (pram base, with buggy top, car seat and isofix base) at 30% less than the RRP.

I did my research prior to going, otherwise it can be totally overwhelming due to the volume of exhibitors, and the range of products offered – plus many are the same, so you get bombarded with sales jargon.

Below are some suggestions if you’re thinking of going:

    1. 1. Get early -bird / advanced tickets if you can, this works out 25% cheaper

 

    1. 2. Make a list of the priority items you need with an approximate budget, and try and stick to this list. Our list included:
      1. Travel System
      2. Nursery Furniture
      3. Bottles / breastpump

 

    1. 3. Research which items such as travel systems, breast pumps will be best for you, depending on your needs.
      1. Sign-up to which.co.uk for £1 to look at each product comparisons and reviews
      2. Check-out Mother & Baby awards for top products
      3. Check-out Madeformums.com reviews section – these reviews  are by parents

 

    1. 4. Never take first price, always try and negotiate – luckily my husband is in sales, so he was a pro

 

    1. 5. I would recommend going in your second trimester, as it is a long day, and can be exhausting if you’re late in your 2nd or 3rd trimester

 

    1. 6. Take your mum if you can. I took mine, and she was great at preventing us from buying gadgets that we just didn’t need – we were getting drawn in by lots of sales people!

 

    1. 7. If it’s your first baby, and you do know the gender, be careful not to buy anything that you couldn’t use if you’re planning a second. You don’t want to spend £,000’s on pink furniture or pram, and then have a boy second time around

 

    1. 8. If you really want some bargains, go on the last day. Sometimes they will sell off stock they have there, or they will be desperate to meet a sales target, so you can negotiate.

 

    1. 9. If you do buy larger items, make sure you aren’t expected to carry them around for the rest of the show.

 

  1. 10.Take water and snacks if you can, as it is super expensive, and also the queues are long, and seats few and far between

My best buys:

Medela: This is an american brand of breast pump and bottles – focused on going from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. It is now stocked in the UK so much easier to buy, but their discounts are amazing. I got most of my kit at 50% off, and since it has been used by me, two friends, and i am getting ready to use it again (with new bottles and teets obviously)

Snufflebabe Nasal Aspirator: I had never heard of this one, but it was a godsend – this is used to clear a baby’s nose if they have a cold, or are bunged up

Nappy Bin: You can usually get them 50% off at the show – this is an essential!

Travel system: If you know which system you want, you can go in and negotiate off the RRP. I had it narrowed down to two options, and we went and tried each one. Looking at how it collapsed down, could I manage it alone and would it go in the car easily, and most importantly how much room was there for my shopping! Always make sure you get a cup-holder – I didn’t with my first one, and as coffee is staple to a new-mums diet, trying to push a buggy one-handed is no easy task.

Nursery Furniture: I got a Mothercare nursery set, at roughly 35% off. You order and pay a deposit, and then it is delivered 6 weeks before your baby arrives. This is something you could order once the baby is here, as you don’t actually use the cot till they’re 6 weeks +, but the deal was too good.

Feel free to add your best buys, or tips for going to the baby show.

The next show is March 3rd – 5th @ Excel London, or 19-21st May at Birmingham NEC.

Good Luck!

 

 

 

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So I’ve been away for a while, nearly 16-months to be exact, and 2016 has been my most challenging year yet, and here’s why….

On the 27th December 2015 we lost my Grandad to a stroke, in January we had an almighty party to say our goodbyes, and what a fantastic send-off but such a sad way to start the year.

January also brought the news my agency had a lost a large contract, this later led to the agency closing (which i believe was for the best), therefore I was made redundant. Having worked at this agency for 8 years I knew nothing else…but maybe this is the change I needed.

Three weeks before my wedding a dormant cyst on my shoulder became infected and I had to have emergency surgery and was left with an open wound. Not only wouldn’t this be healed by the time I got married but it involved daily trips to the Drs to get my dressing changed, which my husband-to-be had to master so he could do it for the duration of our honeymoon. Plus I couldn’t drive or exercise and struggled managing harry as I couldn’t lift him.

May arrived and our wedding was amazing! It literally flew by, it was worth all the stress and chaos. We had an amazing day, we got very drunk with all of our favourite people. Our honeymoon was the trip of a lifetime, we flew to Hawaii (This place truly is paradise) , flew back to LA, drove up the west coast in an open-top-mustang to the Big Sur, and on to San Francisco. Couple of days sightseeing, and then back to our little boy.

The first four months of the year had been totally overwhelming, and not until we went on honeymoon had I stopped, then did I realise I didn’t have a plan….I always have a plan…..sh*t!!!

After 4 weeks at home with Harry, an opportunity came up a stones-throw away from home (well in comparison to my previous 90 minute daily commute), it was part-time and right up my street. However things can never be that simple…..Not long after my second interview I found out I was pregnant (we basically got pregnant the weekend of our wedding, not part of my ‘non-existing plan’ –  whole other post coming!).

So, I went for my third interview, but I couldn’t walk-away without saying something. I was shaking I was so nervous, but that proved to me how much I wanted this role, and I couldn’t go ahead unless I was 100% honest. I dropped the bombshell and left them to discuss, and later that day they offered me the job,  it was a 6-month freelance contract but with the opportunity to go back once the baby was born! AMAZING!!!

At our 12 weeks scan we got high-risk for Down Syndrome again, we opted for the harmony test, which Wrexham NHS offered for free (Only some NHS offer this service FOC – and only if you’re high-risk).  Thankfully we got the all clear.

As we are soon to be four, we definitely needed a new house. Our house has been perfect for our little family and a great first home, but with a fourth member on the way, we need more space. We found an adorable cottage (that we had to fight off lots of other people for) that has been extended to more than double the original size. Its just what we were looking for – something full of character, but with lots of space! Its perfect, and fingers crossed we should be moving in January 2017 – a great start to a new year.

This year has been beyond challenging (though I wouldn’t change anything about it) with the above being a very very brief summary of my ups and downs, but there’s something I haven’t mentioned in here, that has had a huge impact on my life and that’s anxiety and depression. This I need to write about in my next post so stay tuned…

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As my previous post was so long trying to cover my actual 90-day plan, I also wanted to reflect on my take-out from The Body Coach, so here are my thoughts…

Is this plan worth the £147 you pay? YES.

For me, this was a small fee to pay (which I paid over 3 months at £49 per month). You get a personalised plan, a set menu and food list, and an education in nutrition, fitness and cookery.

Is it as straight-forward as it seems? NO

The way Joe presents the plan on his website and through his Instagram account, it makes out that the training isn’t time intensive, and you can do it at home. I agree and disagree with this.

Yes, you can do it at home no problem, but he does recommend that you do your exercise fasted (meaning as soon as you wake up), but also expects you to drink supplements 30 minutes before starting to train. Therefore I was getting up at 5.30am to drink my supplement, and then start training at 6am, to be finished by 6.30am to either get to work on time or have it completed before my 18-month old got up. With the warm-up and cool down plus your 20-25 minute HIIT workout, it was at least 30 minutes per session sometime longer, opposed to the 20 minute work-out described.

Can you do it all from home? YES and NO

I was also a little annoyed about the variation of weights in Cycles 2 and 3. If I were to buy all of the weights needed, especially as you are expected to increase and decrease the volume of KGs in Cycle 3, you would need a whole family of weights. I had started this plan so I could do it at home, and didn’t have to sign-up to a gym. Now I have finished, and I do want to continue to workout, I will probably look to invest in some weights, and actually set-up a home-gym, but that’s beside the point.

the body coach collage

The above two points were the only two cons for me, there were plenty more pros:

Is it another fad diet or truly a lifestyle / mindset change?

Even though I have moaned about the above points, there are so many pro’s to doing this plan. I have been truly educated on the various food groups, and what is good for my body, and why it is so important to refuel your body post exercise. I hear and see all of these fad diets, which I have also fallen victim too , and see that they are never going to be sustainable. I do treat myself now and then to a glass of wine, or a piece of cake or (dark) chocolate, it might even be once every couple of days, whereas I had those treats multiple times a day prior to this plan. Now when I do have them, I enjoy them much more!! Since starting this plan, I can’t remember the last time I walked in to a shop, and bought a chocolate bar, such as Wispa or Snicker. This would be something I would do every time I filled my car up, or each time I popped to the shops at lunch.

This ‘mindset’ change, really hit me when I went food shopping a friend, and they picked-up completely different foods for me. My shopping list is predominantly meat and veg, I don’t go near any pre-packaged, refined foods, I swan through the bakery sections, no cheeses or desserts. In fact the majority of our food shop now comes from a local farmers market, where we get everything fresh, and cheaper.

I have also learnt to cook, and actually enjoy thinking about what foods I can have, and what sauces, or marinades I could add to them. Most of the recipes are based on TBC menus, but I know how to mix them up. I eat a lot more fish and eggs than I previously did, and include a wide variety of veg with every meal – sometimes even for breakfast. My whole outlook on food has changed.

I would advise anyone of thinking of doing this, listen to Joe when he tells you to prep. Week 1 of Cycle 1, I didn’t do this, and it was time intensive every night, and not the best way to kick off the plan. For the remainder of Cycle 1, I pretty much cooked everything in bulk batches, and it saved a lot of time, and made it much easier to stick to the plan. Come Cycle 2 and 3, you get to know the meals, the healthiest ways of cooking food, as your mindset is changing, prepping just becomes part of your day-to-day life, whether that is physically cooking or mentally preparing your meal plan for the days / week ahead.

Finally, I have an exercise schedule and a goal. Previous to TBC, I would run a lot, and do some HIIT training with FitStar, but I would never know what I was aiming for. I would just do it in the hope some weight would fall off and I would be super slim again. Now I have a focus every session, and each session I try to push myself harder with heavier weights or more intense HIIT sessions.

Would I recommend people to do this? DEFINITELY YES.

The fact this is tailored to your body, your strengths and weaknesses. It would never be unachievable for anyone. It isn’t a fad diet, it is a mindset change. Even though I didn’t get the final results I wanted, I have made huge progress. I never thought I would start to see the definition I had at 18, but I can. I actually have a shape to my biceps, no more bingo wings!

I have also seen lots of people drastically change their bodies. One being my elder sister, who in Cycle 1 alone lost 12 inches across her body! I can’t wait to see her results of Cycle 2 and 3.

If you have any specific questions let me know, or tweet me @jenuine_1 .

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Its been a while since I wrote on my blog….5 months and 2 days in fact. However I have good reason. Back in April I decided to sign up to ‘The Body Coach’ AKA Joe Wicks. Joe is a strong believer that through eating the right food at the rights times, combined with short bursts of training, anyone can look super lean, and feel great for it, without it taking up too much of your precious time.

This ticked all the boxes for me. I couldn’t be doing with tons of time in the gym, and hours slaving over a hot stove. With the promise of a ‘hot bod’ in 90 days and a personalised plan for a £150 (which I paid for over 3 payments interest free), how could I refuse. I had two beach holidays looming, and near enough packed away my treadmill never to be seen again.

So I signed up and literally hit the ground running on April 20th. You do three cycles over the 90 days, each cycle has a different purpose. Cycle 1 is about melting fat. My first HIIT session (You have to do 4-5 of these a week), took 25 minutes, but I thought I was going to vomit It was so hard, and that was doing the ‘Basic HIIT’ you-tube video. The first week, I had caffeine withdrawal, I was bloated as the meal portions are so large, I just couldn’t physically eat it all, however the meals did taste pretty good.

During Cycle 1 I struggled with cutting back on lattes and chocolate, they are my weak points. My energy levels did increase hugely within a week, but come the end of week 3, I couldn’t see much change in my shape, and I was starting to feel quite demotivated. I emailed my personal coach, Gemma, who gave me a good pep-talk. Plus I had read from others doing The Body Coach (TBC) that week 3 was always their lowest point, so I knew I wasn’t alone. FYI Instagram is a great way to find others who are doing the plan, check-out mine to see more pictures of my experience.

I was so surprised by week 4, I could feel the difference in my clothes, which really spurred me on. End of Cycle 1 arrived and I was so excited to get on this scales and get my tape measure out, but I hadn’t lost as much as I had of hoped. I weighed in at 1lb less, but had lots 3.5 inches from around my body. I got straight on to cycle 2.

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Starting Photo / End of Cycle 1 Photo

Cycle 2 was harder for me, they introduced carbs for entire days on training days. I had this fear what I had lost before, was going to go straight back on, as I didn’t eat a huge amount of carbs before I started this process. You are also given a list of ingredients apposed to a menu of set meals, and I am really crap at thinking up new things to cook, so I actually ended up just making most of the meals from Cycle 1, and now and then I would have a go at something new.

What I loved about Cycle 2 is you are introduced to weight training called GVT. However this did mean, unless I wanted to go out and spend a fortune on free-weights – even though TBC suggest you can get them at low cost from eBay etc – I don’t have time to scourer the net searching for cheap deals or second hand goods. I decided if I was going to continue and see this through I would need to sign-up to a gym, even if just to see this plan through.

It was towards the end of Cycle 2, that I started to see a difference in the tone of my arms and legs, and a little on my torso, but again not as much as I would like. I still felt I had fat to melt, especially on my back, and that even though I was training 4 times a week, burning up to 600 calories a session, and eating all the right foods, I was gaining muscle but not loosing any more weight. My measurements confirmed my fears, I had lost no weight, but had lost another half an inch from my waist, my hips and my chest.

I had a holiday to ibiza for two weeks between Cycle 2 and 3, I took my training kit with me, not expecting to train much, but I did manage one session – which was better then none. I tried to stick to mainly protein and vegetables as my source of carbs, week one was better than week two. This holiday was one of my main goals for doing TBC. I wanted to be confident when I was by the pool or by the beach, but I also wanted to enjoy our time off as a family. it was our first family trip to a hot country, and my first two week trip for nearly 20 years. I didn’t want to be restricted by a ‘diet’, so I did treat myself to ice-cream, cold beers and bowls full of pasta, but I was still always conscious to not have more than one meal of refined carbs, and I didn’t see that as a bad mindset to be in, I certainly didn’t feel like it prevented me from enjoying my holiday any more.

I picked up Cycle 3 when I got back.

Thank-god I was back to carbs post-workout only. Cycle 3, followed a similar format to Cycle 2, just less carbs, and a choice between a set of ingredients and a set menu. Most days I went for the set-menu, or the menus I had been given in the previous cycles. Also my weight training changed to DTP. I could barely walk after my first session, but it felt amazing! I was enjoying this even more than Cycle 2. You have 4 workout days, Legs Abs and Core, Shoulders, Arms, Chest and Back. They were killers, but each week got easier, so each week I pushed myself harder. (My first attempt at Leg day reminded me of going in to labour!!!).

Before I reached the end of Cycle 3, I had a boozy girls holiday in Tenerife, so I did an extra two weeks to compensate for the volume of carbs and alcohol I had consumed. I guess I was also holding out for some extra weight to drop off, or toning to happen, but I came to realise, I wasn’t going to end this plan as toned and lean as I had hoped. Come my final measurement day, since day one, I had only lost 1lb, 0.5 inches from my chest, 2 inches from my waist and 1.5 inches from my hips (I some how managed to but weight back on my chest which isn’t a bad thing!). However my none scale victory of being between 1 – 2 dress sizes smaller trumps all of those.

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Starting Photo / End of Cycle 3 Photo (4 months later!)

At the end of the day, I feel like I have lost weight, I am a hell of a lot fitter, I am much more educated on what I should and shouldn’t be putting in my body, and last but not least, combined with this and having a baby, I have realised how precious my body is, and how important it is to take the best care of it. I may not have the results I want yet, but I haven’t given up.

If anyone is considering signing up to The Body Coach or have any questions, just let me know, or check out my next post ‘Does The Body Coach really work?’ for my pros and cons of the overall experience and whether I will be continuing with my plan.

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04. 04. 2015
Being one of three sisters, I naturally always compare myself to my siblings. I am the middle child, and growing up, both of my sister had lovely long locks, whereas I literally drew the short straw, and had a very short bob, with a blunt cut fringe!

So since the age of 14 I have been on a mission to grow my hair as long as I could. I am now 31, and until three weeks ago, I had continued that mission. These photos have all been taken in the last 12 months, and looking back on them now, I can’t believe how long my hair really was.
LONG HAIR

I’ve always been a girly girl.  I adore shopping for shoes, clothes, accessories, and then getting home to style everything together. However growing up I was never into make-up. Fifteen years ago we didn’t have access to You Tube tutorials or bloggers and my big sister didn’t really wear make-up, so for me, growing my hair, and having envious long locks was my way of prettifying myself, and i guess hiding my lack of make-up expertise.

So why haven’t I changed my hair in 17 years? On reflection of writing this post, I admit I hated having my hair tied back because I thought I had a fat face, and hated my side profile, and so having my hair long, framing my face would slim my appearance, and without it, I felt like another Plain Jane.

So for the past 17 years, I have avoided the hairdressers, I would leave it years between cuts. It is only in the past 2 years that I have really started to look after it (and thats mainly as I need the regular colour to cover my greys). I’ve had lots of colours, had highlights, ombre, but the length has remained at the bottom of my spine.

It has only been in recent months I really felt the need for a change. I envied people who would have the balls to just cut it all off.  I was fed-up of my hair, the lack of style, the length was weighing it down,it looked lifeless, and I dreaded washing and drying it. I am a  mum to a 16-month old, and work full-time, I can’t spare an hour just to sort my hair.

I think the need for a change is also down to how much more relaxed i feel about my looks. I am a lot more accepting of who I am, my features and my shape. I am finally experimenting with make-up, contouring, and colours and having so much fun, and in doing this realised that I could make a lot more fun if i changed my hair. I wanted something clean cut, a defined style.

I made the leap, and cut 7inches (at least) off my hair, and went for a much more modern cut. I lived with this for a week, but I wanted even more definition, and chopped another 1.5inches off. I can wear it straight, tied back or curled (and they stay!!) So many options, and it takes me 15 minutes in the morning. Best decision i have made in a loooooonnngg time!
ATTEMPT NO.1

THE FINAL CUT!

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Worst case scenario…..it will grow back!
For 17 years my hair was my comfort blanket, what’s yours?
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For the past nine years I have worked in creative agencies where myself and the majority of my colleagues wear whatever we like to work. You could rock-up in shorts and a t-shirt in December – as my Creative Partner has done on many a cold winters day – or you could dress to impress and wear a suit. The key rule is that I just have to make sure that I dress well when attending client meetings, but even that will vary depending on the client.

So basically when it comes to dressing for office days, we have free reign. This has meant I’ve never really had a definition between a work wardrobe and a weekend wardrobe. Not having a uniform, or a dress code has resulted in me shopping lots of looks and clothes and getting bored with them very quickly. Having a uniform would have actually been easier, and probably saved me a lot of money, not to mention a lot of time in the mornings. But in saying that, the shopping-obsessed fashion girl inside me does believe that choosing your daily attire is a strong form of self expression.

I don’t know whether it is my new role, an effect of returning from maternity leave, or maybe I am just growing up, but I decided that it was time for a make over – on my wardrobe! I knew I needed to separate my clothes; I needed a work wardrobe and a weekend wardrobe. The good thing about a wardrobe make over was that it wasn’t really a case of buying anything new (no more spending!) but just selecting items from my wardrobe that are appropriate for work. I have certainly narrowed my colour palette down over the years to more muted colours, mainly black and maybe a hint of grey or mink.

My work wardrobe needed to be practical, smart, with some casual thrown into it.
Here are the staple items I chose for my Work Wardrobe:

shoes

Shoes: It’s winter so I currently live in boots. They’re both comfortable and smart. Mine are over the knee, and worn with black leggings or black jeans can still be professional. I also have a pair of leopard print Chelsea boots which are ideal for the office, and possibly a meeting with one of our more quirkier clients. They go perfectly with an all-black outfit. I have one pair of black leather heels that I got for £40 reduced from £80 in the John Lewis January sales (a trusted brand), they have black patent bows on the front, but not over the top.

Black Bottoms: I have two pairs of thick leggings and two pairs of black jeans, one denim and one waxed denim. I wear these most days to work, with either my knee boots or ankle boots, or on a really casual day, white converse. These are an absolute must have item in my wardrobe. For suit days, I have a black leather pencil skirt, great for nipping in the waist with a plain shirt.

Tops: I keep my tops quite simple, muted colours, long jumpers, t-shirts or shirts. All of these can be dressed up or down, with the right accessories. I like to layer as well. H&M or Primark vests are great for wearing under all my tops.

Dresses: I am not a huge dress fan, but have a number of shift dresses, most are black or muted colours mainly for client meetings. I typically team them with my favourite M&S jacket, tights and either my boots or black heels.

Outerwear:I have two coats i tend to alternate between, an M&S steal, reduced from £70 to £20! It’s perfect for winter as it is three-quarter length, black and white asymmetrical pattern and collarless. I also have an oversized boyfriend coat in Pink from Topshop. This is perfect for adding a pop of colour to a dull day. If it is a super casual day, I will wear my Zara padded fur hooded coat, especially if it is freezing.

PicMonkey Collage
Accessories: The bag – always a big investment for me, I need a sturdy leather bag that can withstand being dragged and thrown around whilst still protecting my Mac Book Air, notepad, documents and both my phones. I am lucky that my mum bought me a new gorgeous Jack French classic leather tote for Christmas which my laptop fits in it perfectly. I am also a hat fanatic, and so this Ted Baker Fedora comes out a lot especially for client meetings, and when I am traveling around London.

I am 8 weeks in on rotating my new Work Wardrobe, and so far I am not bored, now and then i throw in a random coloured top. I actually like that I know what I am going to wear most days, and I don’t have the panic every morning looking through what’s been cleaned, ironed and is appropriate for my day. I imagine once it gets warmer I will need to tweak my work wardrobe to reflect the summer weather, but at least that is something to look forward to and I can start to think about what key items I may want to invest in.

My Weekend Wardrobe

I have always tried and tested styles and colours, taken risks with out there trends, but only in the past 18 months have I started to understand what works for my body shape and my skin tone. I’ve realised I love basic clothes and then enjoy having fun by dressing them up with coats, shoes, bags, jewels and accessories. I see it as a plain canvas, that I can dress up or down. So during the January sale I picked up a couple of basic items to keep me going till spring:

I went to Zara and John Lewis and spent £110, and all of these items were less than 50% of their original price. Now that I had items I was only going to wear over the weekend I was really looking forward to how I could style them, what necklaces, what coat, hat, bag, everything. Eight weeks in, I still wear at least two or three of those sale items, and I look forward to it. Bar a trip to Primark for some basic vests, I haven’t bought any new clothes since. I am on a role, so let’s see how long I can last (i am aiming for April), and hopefully save for my ‘Big Wish List’ items. Fingers crossed!

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I work in advertising, so why not kick off the christmas season with a little post about Christmas ads!

Who has seen the new John Lewis advert?

 

They get me every year, well for the past three anyway. Monty the penguin is amazing. This one is up there with the John Lewis 2011 advert when the little boy can’t wait to GIVE his present.

I haven’t always loved JL’s Christmas adverts, looking back on Youtube I don’t remember many of their adverts pre 2010, it seems adamandeveDDB (the ad agency) changed their strategy after 2010 to focus on an individual or single character’s story, opposed to featuring multiple characters. I imagine this approach was to encourage the viewers to ‘buy-in’ emotionally, well they certainly ticked that box!

Now the John Lewis advert is out, Christmas has officially started!! Last year I loved M&S’s fairytale theme,  especially the mad hatter tea party food version, and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the traditional Coca-Cola, with the lorries through the trees.


ON searching for the 2013 advert, I have come across  the M&S 2014 Christmas advert (I think that has only been uploaded to You-tube today), they’ve lost the celebrities and have a whole new concept around fairies, and I am a little disappointed. This could be any brand, it doesn’t scream M&S to me. Don’t get my wrong, it is lovely and seasonal, and I like the part where they get the kids out in the snow, but also I like how John Lewis and M&S have previously focused on the story of one character. The 2013 advert made me go online and want to buy everything I had seen in the advert, unfortunately this year I don’t have the same excitement.

Last years surprise advert was defiantly Apple’s iPhone advert, this did bring a small tear to my eye! I liked how real and family focused this was – again following one character. I see a trend.

I wonder what advert will surprise me this year, I can’t wait to see!

I’d love to hear about everyone else’s favourites!!

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17. 10. 2014

11 years ago my life changed forever. I not only moved to Manchester, started uni, and began a new chapter of my life, but more importantly I met my best friend. Miss Katy G stood next to me in the queue to collect our accommodation keys. If I remember correctly, we were both with our Mums and we began gabbing away. We parted ways to go find our new rooms only to meet again ten minutes later as we both pulled up outside the same building and our rooms were practically opposite each other.

uni days collage

I had moved in to a house with nine other girls, but it was Katy that I clicked with instantly. Once we started chatting, we discovered we lived just 20 minutes from each other. Katy had gone to the same college as my sister and even sat next to her boyfriend in one of her classes. Small world! We became inseparable at Uni, living together for the entire duration, never missing a night out together and even working together. But when the time came to graduate, our lives lead us down different paths. Katy stayed up north in Manchester and bought a house with her then boyfriend, whilst I moved down South to start my career in the Big Smoke.

RAVERS

Eight years later and our lives are still on completely different paths, yet we still remain the best of friends. After partying my way through my twenties, I am now settled in London, living with my Fiance and our Baby Boy in our family home, attempting to juggle motherhood with my career in advertising. Katy settled down for a few years, but in 2012 she made a life-changing decision to go jet-setting around the world. She has since travelled around Asia, moved to France for 18 months, learnt the language, bagged a new French boyfriend, and both can currently be found somewhere in South America. Who knows where she will end up next (hopefully within visiting distance).

We may be miles apart, but the one thing I do know is that no matter where in the world we are, when we get together to catch up (even if that means having a cuppa together via skype) it’s like no time has passed and we spoke just yesterday. A chat with Katy is like therapy for me, she is always honest, she always knows what to say, and never fails to make me laugh! Together we’ve been through heartbreaks and holidays, house moving and house buying we’ve been there for each other through the career bumps and the career triumphs (me with a recent promotion and Katy writing her first book!) and now, even a Baby.

FINAL
I was lucky enough to get a fresh dose of ‘Friend Therapy’ recently when Katy and Greggers (the French beau) stopped over with us for a few days before they jetted off to Rio. With all the change in my life recently – going back to work, introducing Harry to nursery, turning a year older – it was the perfect timing for some much needed ‘Friend Therapy’. I needed a good old chinwag, and having Katy around for the whole weekend really did the trick. We didn’t do any overly exciting (well except for meeting Katy’s book mentor!!), just stayed in, drank lots of tea and lots of wine and played with Harry, just normal things best friends do.

Roll on the next 11 years of Katy and Jen’s adventures!!

(To follow Katy on her South American adventures, follow her blog NotWedordead)

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12. 10. 2014

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So I have been awful at keeping my blog updated, my little sister would not be happy that I have not blogged for 6 weeks!!! In my defence I started back a work full-time in September, and have been trying to get Harry in a new routine of going to his Nanna’s and starting Nursery. Plus we had 8 family birthdays in September, including mine, so big party month!

Trying to find time to write over the past few weeks has been really hard, I have started a new role at work, and really struggled with being away from Harry four days a week, and we have had birthday celebrations most weekends. Once I lost the momentum a little, I got a bit scared of what I could write about. Guess i stuck my head in the sand.

After a month of chaos, I am ready to start the next chapter of life as a working full-time mum. I am settled in to work (in a new job), Harry is getting settled, and my sister has kindly taken Harry for a walk, so I can get cracking on some new posts, here goes…..

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So my biggest social media weakness is probably Instagram. I can’t help myself, I love looking at other peoples pictures, and I can’t resist sharing photos of my adorable little man (follow me and Harry here), but I didn’t realise how beneficial Instagram could be.

I’m sick of trawling high street shops and online sites for something different and new, only to end up in the same outfit as everyone else. I keep seeing the same styles everywhere, and I’m so over worrying that I’ll find myself in the same dress or the same top as someone else at the office? Anyone else having this problem?

Fortunately, my social media vice has saved the day. Instagram is not only great for style inspiration, but I have found it is a great platform for brands. And I’m not talking about your go-to high-street brands, I’m talking about fabulous fresh designers. I recently came across a few brands that I had never heard of before; all reasonably priced, all different styles, and all a welcomed change from my usual Topshop or River Island hauls. I was delighted! And all thanks to Instagram.

So is Instagram the new window shopping? If it is, then no more afternoons being pushed and shoved in Westfield’s, you’ll find me curled up on my sofa scrolling my way through beautiful dresses, cute skirts and to-die-for shoes. Here are a few of my fave brands whom I recently started following

Novo-London
Instagram: @novo_london
I actually came across one of their dresses on Danielle Lloyd, I loved it and thought it would be way out my price range. When I visited the site I was pleasantly surprise and I loved the whole collection. Dresses range from £75 – £100 and are very much neutral colour, symmetrical and simple.Here are some of my favourite pieces

Novo(SOURCE)

Lavish Alice
Instagram: @lavishalice
I think someone regrammed their accessories, and a dress or two, and they really grabbed my attention. I started following them on Instagram and it never crossed my mind to actually look at their site. I adore the simplicity and neutral colours with the odd bit of print and pattern thrown in. I particularly like the print dresses. These clothes are ideal for a day in the office, slip on a pair of heels and drinks in the city. Again modest prices, a dress is between £40-£60. I particularly like the Oxblood Red and Monochrome looks.

Lavish Alice(SOURCE)

Lavish Alice also have a promotion on with Now Magazine. Receive 25% discount on all full priced items, all you need to do is sign-up and use the promo code NOW25 at the check-out.

Kirsty Doyle
Instagram: @kirstydoyle
I actually came across this designer via an old school friend tweeting about her wedding outfit. Kirsty Doyle is a fellow scouser, and her style is very similar to Victoria Beckham’s, but with a more affordable price-tag. A couple of her items are a little on the pricey side for me,  but out of all the new sites I have found her designs are by far the most interesting! Plus I don’t mind spending a little extra to support a fellow scousers. Kirsty also designers and makes great bridesmaids dresses, and i think i have already spotted the one I want for my lovely maids of honour. Below are some of my favourite pieces!

Kirsty Doyle(SOURCE)

There are plenty more out there, you just need to have a good search. A couple of others I also recommend are @Kandeeshoes  have fabulous shoes and bags, their instagram is better than their site, and @Baublebar do great accessories.

I would love to hear of any other brands / designers that people have found that I can add to my window shopping list.

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