Travel Bucket List

As I recently uploaded my travel list for 2018, including a few places I'm less likely to get to this year (a girl can dream though, right?), I also wanted to share a few places I'd love to visit more in the future (although, near future would be fab)!

Switzerland- Interlaken I've never been particularly bothered about visiting Switzerland but as I was supposed to visit last year, it has made me more determined to go. Budapest had never been on my list and turned out to be one of my favourite places so the thought of missing out on somewhere else with the potential to capture my heart makes me more intrigued and excited to replan a trip. I'd love to go to Interlaken as originally planned but anywhere would be great to explore as it seems like an interesting country in general.
Italy- I would love to visit Lake Garda, it looks a beautiful area and Italy itself just seems to be home to so many amazing, gorgeous locations as well as the most delicious food! There are a number of Italian areas I'd like to visit but Lake Garda has to take the number one spot. I've also had Sicily recommended to me which has definitely made me want to visit the island even more than I already did. The diverse food and culture seems incredibly appealing and like an amazing place to visit, particularly in Summer.
Croatia- I already mentioned my desire to visit Croatia in my last post but I wanted to go a bit more into detail as there are so many different places I want to visit within the country as well as a few things I'd love to do. I really want to go to Omis and do the zip wire they have there as it seems like a lot of fun with an incredible view. I'd also love to go to Plitvice and explore the national parks with their beautiful lakes and little waterfalls as well as going to Zadar to hear the sea organ. As for other locations, I'd love to visit Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Zagreb.
Rio de Janeiro- This used to be top of my travel bucket list and although it has slipped down, I still think it would be a great place to visit! I'd love to experience the carnival in Rio but the city as a whole seems to be bright and full of energy. The high crime rates do make me more wary about visiting the area and as a result, it's not somewhere I'm looking to go to in the near future but something I'd look into more in years to come.
Caribbean- The Caribbean looks so beautiful and although I have Jamaica to look forward to, there are several other islands in the Caribbean that I think would be amazing to visit!
New York- This city isn't highest on my list but it seems like a place you have to experience for yourself. I'm yet to find someone who's been and not loved it, so I'm sure I'd be the same. I love the shopping culture but like a lot of people, I would most like to go around Christmas. Max Brenner, the chocolate bar/restaurant also looks like a place I'd have to visit if I did go!
Northern Lights- Not a location as such but I would love to travel somewhere where I could see the Northern Lights as I think it would be an amazing experience. I know it isn't always possible to see it as I've tried once before and couldn't but it would be exciting to eventually see them.
New Zealand- I'd be really interested in visiting New Zealand as the culture seems so different to here... it looks like a beautiful, adventurous country which only makes me more intrigued.
Prague- I've heard a lot of good things about Prague... it appears to have a lot of beautiful architecture as well as an amazing cafe culture that I'd love to experience.

I'm sure there are plenty of other locations I could put on this list but that completes it for now. Have you been to any of these? If so, what did you think? I'd also love any other recommendations you might have.

I hope you enjoyed this post, perhaps it's given you some travel inspo? If you did enjoy this post and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload.

I will also be uploading various travel videos on my YouTube channel, so if you fancy subscribing so you get to see those as they go live, you can do so here.

Love, Steph x

2018 Travel Plans

There are so many amazing places to see and as last year brought a few travel adventures, it's only made me more excited to travel and more eager to book new trips. 2018 already holds a number of planned trips and I'll hopefully be adding to the list in the near future. As March kicks off the travel plans, it seemed an appropriate time to share them with you (although I did also visit Slovenia in January which was a great trip).
Disneyland- I have booked to go to Disneyland this year and as I didn't end up going on my interrail trip last year, I am very much looking forward to going in 2018! I haven't been to Disneyland Paris for almost 15 years so I'm excited to see what it's like after such a long time. As a huge Disney fan (aren't we all!), experiencing the magic of Disneyland is like nothing else and a feeling I can't wait to relive.
Jamaica- What I imagine to be a highlight of 2018... I am going to Jamaica for a friend's wedding where I'm also a bridesmaid. I can't wait to share the day with the bride and groom in such an amazing setting. However, not only will I have the wedding to look forward to but also the time we'll be spending there as a family- sipping drinks in the sun, reading by the pool, dipping in to cool off... sounds like heaven!
Amsterdam- After visiting Amsterdam twice last year, I'm looking forward to going back with my course to see more of the city and experience Journalism in a different country. It'll be good to see some of the sites I've not yet visited as well as return to some of my favourites.
Sziget- I visited the Hungarian festival for the day last year and had an amazing time, seeing so much of the island but leaving a lot to be discovered. I'd also love to explore more of Budapest as it's a city that well and truly captured my heart. I would love to be able to go back again this year for longer and although this might not be possible, I hope to make it happen.
Croatia- Although this is less likely to happen than the other trips, I hope I manage to plan a trip to Croatia as there are so many exciting things I planned to do there last year. I really hope to go back and eventually do all of the things I would have done originally which, I doubt will happen this year but if possible, I'd like to visit and at least see the country, perhaps ticking a thing or two off of my list.
Iceland/Italy/New York/away for 21st- With it being my 21st this year, I'm hoping to do something special to celebrate the big birthday. One thing I'm considering is a trip somewhere but as it's in the cooler months, I'm still deciding where to go... Italy is currently my favourite option but Iceland and New York aren't far behind so if anybody has any thoughts on these places or has any other recommendations, please let me know in the comments as I'd love your input!

Have you been to any of these places? If so, what did you think of them? Have you got any travel plans this year? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did and you want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload.

Love, Steph x

Kingsman The Golden Circle

With its recent DVD release, it seemed like an appropriate time to share my love for Kingsman The Golden Circle and perhaps encourage anyone who hasn't seen it yet, to give it a go!

Kingsman is a franchise like no other... The first seems to be a film that no one had heard of and everyone loved. By that I mean, I know no one who saw it in the cinema, I don't even remember hearing the name or hearing whispers of the trailer yet most people I know have watched it and of those people, only one didn't love it (and he has a very different approach to films). 

The humour blended with the action makes for an exciting story that you can't help but love. It's bonkers, absolutely ridiculous and yet it works. You can definitely expect the unexpected in both films- perhaps even more so in The Golden Circle which, contains everything you could possibly imagine! The British charm mixed with the crazy stunts is intriguing as a viewer and makes forgetting the film a very difficult task. 

Taron Egerton shows versatility with his ability to play (and play so darn well) as various forms of Eggsy- how one can pull off the scruffy look and the suited, classy spy so well? He puts the wink in cheeky chappy. 

Colin Firth is as lovable as ever in both films and definitely adds a bit of class to the movie. 
I must admit, I'm not a huge action film fan, although I do love action comedies, but I know I'm not alone when I say this film is great nonetheless. The fact that I watched the film because my best friend really wanted me to, and she watched it because her sister really wanted her to and we then encouraged my housemate to watch the second (having never seen the first)- it speaks for itself. You know a film is good when word of mouth makes it a success rather than expensive marketing or advertising. 

The emotion, excitement and humour fed into The Golden Circle makes it an ideal watch. 

Let me know your thoughts on the movie or any recommendations you may have! If you enjoyed this post and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload. Thank you for reading this post.

Love,
Steph x

Veganuary: Switching to Cruelty Free Cosmetics

With January bringing about goals and resolutions, it’s the perfect time to make a step towards a lifestyle change… Dry January, joining a gym or how about becoming a Vegan? January, or Veganuary, as it’s also known, is not only good for trying a vegan diet but it could be the perfect time to start swapping your cosmetic purchases to vegan or cruelty free.

According to Soap and Glory’s Frequently Asked Questions response, ‘it’s important for you to know that no retailer or manufacturer can categorically state that ‘none’ of their raw materials or ingredients have- at some time in the past- been tested on animals.’ With this in mind, there are some beauty brands that host a Leaping Bunny logo, have signed the PETA pledge or avoid testing on animals or including animal products but don’t associate with a cruelty-free organisation.

Although some brands don’t test on animals in Britain, where it was banned in 1998, they do sell to China where animal testing is a legal requirement and therefore are not considered a cruelty free brand overall.

Each individual has a different perception on what cruelty free is so with the help of this post, you might just find the right brand for you. Whilst some brands are PETA registered, their parent company isn’t classed as cruelty free so it’s up to you to decide which brands you want to shop with.
Soap and Glory
Although not on the PETA list, Soap and Glory say, ‘we absolutely do not test our formulations on animals, however we can’t say that each and every ingredient that goes into them has not, at some point historically, been cleared for human use, by animal testing.’ Offering a range of skincare, bath and body products as well as makeup, it might be a brand worth checking out if this meets your needs.

Bare Minerals
Despite the fact that the parent company, Shiseido, is not cruelty free, Bare Minerals is PETA approved and offers a number of beauty products. The brand creates a range of mineral-based cosmetics ‘powered by nourishing, skin-loving minerals… with purity in mind.’

NYX
As an official member of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, despite its parent company, L’Oreal, choosing to sell in China, NYX has a number of makeup products ranging from primer to mascara to metallic lipsticks. At a drugstore price, the brand originating from Los Angeles is now available in most large Boots stores.
Urban Decay
Another pledge for PETA’s cruelty free campaign, Urban Decay are slightly pricier but worth the extra splurge with a host of popular eyeshadow palettes as well as many other incredible makeup products.
The Body Shop
Offering vegan brushes as well as a number of body and face products, The Body Shop was sold to Natura Brasil in 2017 which is also reportedly a cruelty free brand. As the ‘first global beauty brand to fight against animal testing in cosmetics’, not only are their products cruelty free but they actively fight to bring an end to animal testing and currently have a petition to help this cause available here if you’re interested in signing it. 
LUSH
The popular bath products brand is well known for being cruelty free but, did you know they also sell a number of makeup items as well as a few scents? LUSH state that they ‘do not buy raw materials from any company that tests anything on any animals’ and that ‘materials purchased by LUSH do not contain animal derivatives that are unsuitable for vegetarians’, the full policy on animal testing can be found here.
Arbonne
As a vegan certified brand with cruelty free formulas, the company offers botanically-based skin care products as well as makeup, hair care and general personal care. Arbonne ‘have been on a green journey for 37 years’ and do not support animal testing. To get your hands on the products, you go through an Independent Consultant who will help wherever possible and will organise your order. Keri Wood, an Arbonne consultant can be found here.

Tropic
A brand that works in a similar way to Arbonne, with ambassadors on hand to help with enquiries or to place an order from. Tropic don’t test on animals ‘or cause them distress by using derivatives such as lanolin, beeswax or honey.’ Certified by The Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International, they offer skincare, bodycare and makeup! Vanessa O'Neill, a Tropic consultant can be found here.
Advice from others:
"For cheaper makeup I go to Superdrug. Makeup Revolution, Barry M and ELF have vegan products and Superdrug do student discount. Another place to look is TK Maxx and Home Sense as they sometimes get vegan ranges in- they regularly have Sukin and Faith in Nature. Vegan fairs are a great place to try and buy makeup and skin care and you are supporting ethical vegan companies that way... I tend to spend more on foundation as I find the cheaper ones do not last well. I really like the Kat Von D lock it foundation as a little goes a long way. It is expensive at around £27 but the assistant there gave me a good tip to mix it with a little primer so it lasts longer and gives a lighter finish." -Alison Townsend

Switching to vegan or cruelty free makeup doesn’t have to happen all at once either, "after deliberation I used up the products I already had purchased and then phased in cruelty free alternatives over time." -Jennifer Dudley

"I try my best to be cruelty free with my cosmetics, it’s been difficult though. I often find that Amazon has the answer when I can’t source things! Superdrug has sorted my lotions and potions needs." -Casey Brennan

With so many cruelty free beauty brands available, it may not be as difficult as it first appears. There are still plenty of other options out there too. The likes of Liz Earle, YesTo and Too Faced all offer cruelty free products as well as a number of other brands so for a list of companies supported by PETA, you can look here.

I hope you find this post helpful, if you have any advice or recommendations, feel free to share them in the comments to help myself and others! If you did enjoy this post and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload. Thank you for reading this post.

Love, Steph x

2017 Highlights and Achievements

Wow, 2017 has been a crazy year... after a pretty crap 2016, this year could only really improve and whilst it's had its challenges, it's certainly had its awesome moments and all in all, been a big step up and perhaps one of the best years. So this post is dedicated to my highlights and achievements this year!
I hadn't realised quite how much I'd done and achieved this year until it came to editing my 2017 wrapped up video which consequently, is now one of my favourites! It shows all the amazing things I've done and even made me emotional looking back at it all. I'd love it if you check it out below and let me know what your 2017 highlights are or your plans/goals for next year! (You could also hit that subscribe button if you fancy seeing more videos!)

Finishing first year- it may seem like an obvious one but I've got to acknowledge the completion of first year as at the very start, I did doubt that day would come or at least arrive having lead to so many amazing things. I then really hated the first part of second year and again doubted that I would finish second year however, this soon changed and I ended up enjoying a fair bit and enjoyed working with new people and those I already knew.
Flatmates- I've had a great year getting to know and spend time with the people I live with both last year and this year. We've had some great moments both out and spent in the flat/house which has made my university experience what it is. They're some of my closest friends and people I hope to spend time with in many years to come. Long may our sofa chats continue!
Coursemates- 2017 has been a great year for forming new friendships and developing existing ones. There are some great people on my course and I've loved getting to know people better and spend time together both in and out of lectures.
Ice hockey- One particular outing I really enjoyed was the Varsity ice hockey game we went to at the start of the year. I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did but the whole atmosphere and sport itself made a fun evening! As a big winter sports fan, it's definitely something I'd want to watch more although I haven't actually watched it since then so maybe I'll have to plan more in 2018!
Nights out- I've actually enjoyed going out more this year, clubbing is still definitely not my favourite thing but I enjoy it more than I did and can have fun without the nerves/anxieties I used to have surrounding it which may seem like an odd achievement but to me is an achievement as it shows progress even if it's not completely changed. It's also created some enjoyable memories spent with some of my closest friends.
Living alone- although I love being back home and spending time with my family, one thing I think I've done pretty darn well this year is living alone. I manage to shop, cook, clean and just generally look after myself without any real issues which is an achievement worth acknowledging from time to time. It's obviously helped by the people I live with that make things easier and enjoyable.

Travel

Majorca- spending a couple of weeks in a villa in Majorca with my family was amazing. We had a beautiful villa in a lovely setting. Relaxing by the pool, exploring Pollenca, spending time with family and having a fun day at the water park all made it a much needed break and lead to a great holiday!
Vidcon- Vidcon was incredible, not only did it tick something off of my bucket list but it exceeded my expectations. Exploring Amsterdam with Kim and Cally was a lot of fun and then to spend two days surrounded by creators and general YouTube community was amazing. I had the best time, learnt so much and got to meet people I love to watch so all in all, it was like nothing else and was well worth the experience!
Interrailing- it may not have gone to plan but I did see, do and achieve a lot in the week I did of interrailing! My cousin and I had some funny moments including a number revolving around transport. I also got to see Amsterdam again and visit places I hadn't the first time around... House of Bols was a particular highlight although it was a cool experience generally. Budapest was a definite highlight of 2017 as I absolutely loved the city and loved exploring it at my own pace, seeing exactly what I wanted to see without relying on anyone else or a map to lead the way. The fact I saw all I wanted to see and even climbed the hill to see the city from a different view despite my fear of heights is something I am particularly proud of as I usually rely on others to encourage me to ignore the height element. Seeing my mum and Gemma in Budapest was also amazing especially the awesome cocktails in the Tiki Bar! I also went to my first festival in Budapest and had an amazing day! It was so cool seeing the performances, exploring the island and generally make the most of our day at Sziget.
Sorrento- when interrailing fell through and I found myself back home, my best friend and I planned a last minute short break to Sorrento. It was such a beautiful area to explore and enjoy even if just for a short while. We also had some delicious food including one of the nicest Arrabiatas I've ever had (and I've tried a lot of them!) as well as one of the best Pizzas... they truly made incredible food!

Events


Birthday- my birthday was a lot of fun: from cocktails with my housemates; to the surprise party my family organised; to skiing at the snowdome... all of it was amazing and made my birthday a really fun and memorable occasion.
Rob's 18th surprise- linking to surprises, my brother's surprise 18th was a lot of fun and it was great to see his reaction as he walked in to see all of his friends and family. The day and weekend was made even better by my friend, Runa, coming to stay who I don't get to see very often at all.
Madame Tussauds and shopping with mum- whilst Rob was at an audition, mum and I took the opportunity to spend time in shopping in London and visiting Madame Tussauds which was another thing I could tick off of my bucket list. Although it kind of gave me the creeps, it was such a fun trip and was a highlight of 2017.
Seeing Rob in London- fast forward a few months to him staying in London, mum and I visited for the day and had a lovely time together. It was nice to explore the area, have lunch and dinner out and watch Footloose the musical... all elements that made a great day!
Little Mix- mum and I had a lovely night seeing Little Mix and despite the long walk home, it was a fun evening. Little Mix were amazing, we had a great meal and generally enjoyed staying in Birmingham overnight.
Filming in London- it was really cool to experience filming in London with Cally and definitely wasn't anything I expected to happen this year. It was really interesting to see the filming process and to work with some lovely people!
London Made in Chelsea party- this was such a surreal day and another unexpected event. Again, it was really cool to be able to see the behind the scenes/filming process and crazy but awesome to have been able to be in the VIP area in a really cool location.

Other

Work- another change this year was starting work in the office of a school. It's been cool to work with new people and has definitely made me learn a lot so I'm looking forward to the next year! We also had a great end to the year at the work do and although I didn't expect to be going out afterwards and it did bring some *ahem* interesting events, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it.
Gym- I've enjoyed going to the gym again this year and although I haven't been as much as I'd like for a lot of the year, I'm hoping this will be easier now there's one close to where I live. I really enjoy the personal training sessions with mum and even though they're difficult, I never dread going and always enjoy the session. I'm also happy that I have been able to work on my 5km cycle and keep trying to decrease my time sometimes successfully, sometimes less so!
Giving blood- another tick off my bucket list; I finally gave blood on Boxing Day and although the wait was very offputting and the whole experience wasn't the most comfortable, it was all fine and is worth it knowing it will hopefully help somebody.
YouTube/Blog- last but not least, I've enjoyed working on both my blog and channel and although I've not been consistent with my blog at all, I've been trying to put content up across both as much as possible and have enjoyed YouTube even more towards the end of the year. Both have contributed to a number of opportunities that have helped shape this year. I'm grateful for all of the support across both platforms and hope you've enjoyed my posts this year. I'm looking forward to 2018 and hope you'll continue supporting me and enjoying my content!

I hope you have had a good 2017 and have an even better 2018. Thank you so much for reading this post.

Love, Steph x

Cruelty Free Makeup Gift Guide

Christmas really is right around the corner so all being well, you'll have your gifts pretty much sorted. For those who may be slightly less prepared and/or still struggling for ideas, this gift guide could help make decisions a little bit easier particularly when shopping for a beauty lover. 

With so many beauty gifts available at Christmas, it can be hard to work out which companies are cruelty free and which are best to avoid for those conscious of finding brands against animal cruelty.

According to Soap and Glory, ‘it’s important for you to know that no retailer or manufacturer can categorically state that ‘none’ of their raw materials or ingredients have- at some time in the past- been tested on animals.’ With this in mind, there are some beauty brands that host a Leaping Bunny logo, have signed the PETA pledge or avoid testing on animals or including animal products but don’t associate with a cruelty-free organization.

Soap and Glory

Although not on the PETA list, Soap and Glory say, ‘we absolutely do not test our formulations on animals, however we can’t say that each and every ingredient that goes into them has not, at some point historically, been cleared for human use, by animal testing.’ If this fits the needs of the giver and the receiver, then here’s a few gift ideas for you…

Pout-y Popper £6
Perfect for Instagram, you can get that classic confetti Boomerang to glimmer this party season and when that’s all over, make use of the two mini ‘Mother Puckers’ that plump the lips whilst giving them a sultry shine. Contents include a pink and nude lipgloss in Pink Stardust and Bare Enough, fit for any occasion!

Wash Upon A Star £8.50
An ideal gift for a wanderlust… these body washpods fit nicely in a travel bag whether you’re flying across the globe or exploring a city in your home country. With nine single-use pods and three different scents, you don’t need to sacrifice the quality for the sake of space.

Bare Minerals

Despite the fact that the parent company, Shiseido, is not cruelty free, Bare Minerals is PETA approved and offers a number of beauty gifts, ideal for Christmas.

Hello Bright Eyes eye makeup gift set £30
With Lash Domination mascara, eyeliner and a mini well-rested eye illuminator, this gift set is great for any makeup lovers. Useful for creating that well defined, eye-popping look, the products work well together for a bright eyed, luscious look.

Oohs and Aahs makeup gift set £48
For a slightly more expensive gift, the Oohs and Aahs on-the-go palette set includes signature essentials for everyday beauty. The eyeshadows, all over face colour, matte blusher, mascara, matte lip colour and a buttercream lip gloss create a variety of finishes, complimentary to one another.

NYX

As an official member of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, despite its parent company, L’Oreal, choosing to sell in China, NYX has a number of fabulous gifts this Christmas!

Vaults
With Vaults galore, you’re bound to find something for that special person, whether they’re a soft matte lover or prefer a metallic look. With prices ranging from £30 to £65, it’s entirely up to you which you go for!

City Set
For a smaller, more compact gift, NYX have a range of lip, eye and face collections for £15. Complete with eyeshadows, a blush, an illuminator and a soft matte lip cream, Berlin, Los Angeles, Moscow and London are just a few in the collection… you’re bound to find the right shade!

Urban Decay

Another pledge for PETA’s cruelty free campaign, any beauty lover would be pleased to unwrap an Urban Decay product on Christmas Day.

All Nighter Spray from £10
It’s all well and good receiving new makeup for Christmas but until you set it in place, it’s not quite complete! The All Nighter Setting Spray is not your typical beauty gift set but makes a unique present as something that people wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. With a few different sized bottles, you can pick the right one for you.

Palettes
There are plenty of palettes available too so whether they like a bold look, a warm toned palette or a smoky shadow, there’s something for everyone.

Vaults
For a more high-end gift, Urban Decay also have a few vaults on offer including UD XX: 20 Years of Beauty With An Edge for £245 (20 shades of Eyeshadow and 20 Eye Pencils) and Naked Vault Vol IV for £195 (with 3 naked palettes and complementary lip products).

With so many cruelty free beauty brands selling gift sets this Christmas, if none of these have taken your fancy, there are still plenty of other options out there. The likes of Lush, The Body Shop, YesTo and Too Faced all offer cruelty free products as well as a number of other brands so for a list of companies supported by PETA, you can look here: http://features.peta2.com/shopcrueltyfree/cruelty_free_companies_search.aspx?Donottest=8&Product=0&Dotest=-1&Regchange=-1&Country=-1&Keyword=


Thank you for reading this post. I hope this has been useful, if you enjoyed it and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload. Although my blog uploads haven't been very frequent lately (I'm sorry about that), I have been uploading pretty much everyday on my YouTube channel throughout December so if you fancy seeing content over there, you can subscribe here!

Love, Steph x
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