Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Wanderlust: My Ultimate Travel Wishlist

Image of Ultimate Travel Wishlist
If you happened to read my 5 Reasons to Visit Abu Dhabi post, you'll know that a couple of years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would get out there and see more of the world. Since then, I've been lucky enough to experience Dublin, New York, Budapest, Abu Dhabi and Dubai; the travel bug now flows through my veins and you'll regularly find me trawling Expedia for the cheapest holiday deals. There are so many places I want to visit but here are my top ten travel destinations:


1. Reykjavik, Iceland - Possibly the most blogger cliché destination ever but I've been desperate to experience Reykjavik for at least the last 3/4 years. I'd love to trek around the Golden Circle to witness the wonderful waterfalls and glaciers, go whale watching and wallow in the warmth of the Blue Lagoon. Seeing the Northern Lights would be an incredible bonus too!

2. Stockholm, Sweden - My sister's friend has recently moved out to Sweden and she keeps sending me screenshots of his Instagram with photos of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. I'd like to spend a whole day wandering around Stockholm Old Town, cram in as many museums as possible (ABBA museum is clearly top of the list) and eat my way through the Stockholm Food Tour.

3. Sorrento, Italy - Considering I have an Italian name and I can't go a week without someone asking if I have Italian heritage, I'm ashamed to say that I've never stepped foot in this beautiful country. I was browsing destinations the other day and the pictures of Sorrento took my breath away. All I'd want to do is book a luxury hotel with a balcony looking out on to the stunning coastline so I could sit and bask in the sun with a glass of top notch Italian wine in my hand.

4. Santorini, Greece - I've never been to Greece and I can't say I've ever had a huge desire to visit the mainland. I don't have a clue why but it's just not somewhere that has ever appealed to me really. Santorini, however, is a completely different story. It looks cosy with gorgeous boutique hotels and the most insane Instagram worthy views. I'd love to take the hiking trail from Fira to Oia along the winding staircases and watch the sunset over Santorini.

5. Salzburg, Austria - So, this destination was inspired by Becky after reading about her adventures in this post 48 hours in Salzburg.  I need to experience The Sound of Music Tour so I can pretend I'm Maria Von Trapp and intensely annoy my sister by screeching out the tunes at the top of my lungs. Festung Hohensalzburg would also be a must see for me too as I'm a huge history geek and who wouldn't want to visit a fortress on top of a hill?


1. Varadero, Cuba - This place looks like a Caribbean paradise with bright white sand and crystal clear ocean. The stuff of dreams. There isn't much to do here apart from lounging around on the beach and drinking cocktails out of a fresh coconut but quite frankly, I couldn't think of anything better. Get me on that plane.

2. Montreal, Canada - A trip to Montreal would be the perfect opportunity for me to practice my perfectly fluent French language skills (just kidding, I can just about manage "bonjour" and "oui"). As previously mentioned, I'm a history geek and I'd be in my element, there are so many beautiful buildings and the architecture looks so impressive. The Notre Dame Basilica looks particularly up my street. If I was visiting Canada, I'd make sure I booked to go during Winter so I could have an authentic freezing cold Canadian experience!

3. Tokyo, Japan - My Uncle has been to Japan on several occasions for work and keeps telling me that I have to book a trip. I'd love to roam around the Japanese Gardens, visit the sacred temples and just generally experience the busy, fast paced way of life in Japan. Culture is important to me when I'm travelling and I think the cultural aspect would be completely satisfied here.

4. Seattle, USA - When I was on the flight back from New York, I got chatting to a guy who was flying back from Seattle; he spent at least an hour telling me how much he enjoyed his travels and his enthusiasm really sold it for me. Venturing to the top deck of the Space Needle to capture the breath-taking 360 views would be majestic and I'd want to spend another day browsing Pike Place Market and sampling all of the freshly prepared food.

5. Auckland, New Zealand - I couldn't write a wanderlust post without including New Zealand. I've heard so many incredible things about this country; you only have to Google it and I can almost guarantee it'll be added to your own travel wish list. Obviously I'd hop straight on a ferry to Waiheke Island, better known as "the island of wine" (I mean, the island was pretty much made for me!) and enjoy their wine tasting tour. I've also heard on the grapevine that you can bungee jump from Auckland Harbour Bridge just in case I was feeling in a particularly daredevil mood...

Let me know in the comments if you've visited any of these places or if you have any recommendations on where to stay/places I need to visit!


Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Male Bloggers You Need to Know About #2

As part one of Male Bloggers You Need To Know About was one of my most popular posts to date, I thought I'd treat you all to part two. As we move into 2017, I have no doubt that the male blogging industry will continue to grow and pick up the pace as it has in 2016. I'm so pleased it's now seen as the 'norm' for men to also enjoy cleansing, toning, moisturising and makeup! Here's some more handsome fellas you should be following:

The Everyday Man Male Blogger
The Everyday Man is written by John who has firmly established himself as one of the frontrunners within the male blogging industry over the last (nearly) 5 years. If you're a fan of suave suits, bright pink socks (you'll have to check John's Instagram below to know what I'm referring to), health & fitness, music and travel, The Everyday Man most certainly won't disappoint. The travel section is my particular favourite as it satisfies my own wanderlust. I'm not envious in the slightest when he posts his worldwide adventures on Twitter (ha!). John has also worked with some incredible brands throughout his career and I think that's testament to his capabilities as an honest, credible blogger. Definitely one to check out.

A Bloke's Eye View Male Blogger
I've followed Carl over at A Bloke's Eye View for a pretty long time now, in fact, I'm sure he was one of the first male bloggers I discovered when I started blogging myself almost two years ago. I enjoy the three f's on his blog - family, fashion and food. He's got the most amazing shoe collection to go with his dapper suits and also documents his adventures with his gorgeous wife and two beautiful children. Carl's writing style is honest and open which is something I really appreciate; I think it allows his readers to engage with him as a person. I expect there will be more good things to come from Carl's blog in the very near future.

The Middle Aged Man Male Blogger
The Middle Aged Man created by the lovely (middle aged) Robbie is a relatively new blog that has gained rapid popularity within the blogosphere in just 7 months. You'll be hard pushed to find a topic that his blog doesn't cover from lifestyle and travel to fashion and male grooming. The Middle Aged Man does not shy away from open and honest reviews and his post discussing the 'manscaping' debate is one of my personal favourites. I can't wait to see what Robbie's blog has to offer this year, definitely one to watch.
Mr Luke Christian Male Blogger
I've only recently discovered Leeds based blogger Luke, the owner of Mr Luke Christian, but I'm already a big fan. We bonded over a love of the brand Kiehl's, which features heavily in the skincare section of Luke's blog so I've enjoyed reading his opinion on those products. If you're also looking for fashion tips or want to up your game with a smart and edgy style then Luke is definitely your man. I love the outfit he is wearing in the photo above! I'd also highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel too as his outgoing personality is hilarious! One to watch in the blogging community right now.

Let me know in the comments who your favourite male bloggers are...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder

Image of Rodial Instaglam Deluxe Contouring PowderThere seems to be a little bit of a luxury beauty theme going on in the last couple of posts; definitely not intentional but I do like to treat myself when I work hard and get a little extra bonus. Who needs a mortgage anyway, eh?! I've been keen to try out the Rodial makeup range for a while so here's my thoughts on the Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder...
Having pale skin makes it incredibly difficult to find a contour/bronzer that isn't way too dark, harsh and/or overpowering. I've tried and tested countless products that, more often than not, leave me looking like a glittering tangerine. Not really the overall look I'm aiming for if I'm completely honest. Rodial, however, have really delivered with this deluxe contouring powder.
Picture of Rodial Instaglam Deluxe Contouring Powder
The packaging is beautiful as you would expect from a high end brand; a silver, metal case with a soft leather lid really gives the desired luxurious effect. It's definitely a great addition to my dressing table and I always make sure it's on display! It's also got a really handy mirror in the lid too so is ideal for popping in your handbag when you're on the go.
The brand describe this contour powder as a "universal shade to suit all skin tones" but I'm not sure that I would agree with this entirely. The cool tone is incredible for pale skin, it seemed to just adjust to my skin tone and blended to perfection but it is extremely subtle. Although I can't speak for people with darker skin tones than mine, I feel that it would be almost impossible to achieve a contoured look with this ashy shade. Rodial must agree with me as they have recently released a dark shade with red undertones that would be much more suitable for olive-dark skin.
This contour powder is designed with the customer in mind - you really don't have the be a contouring pro to get to grips with it, it's pretty much fool proof and so easy to work with. Besides the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (another of my favourites), it's one of the only contouring products I've tried that that doesn't leave you with that 'muddy' look. It's a soft brown, matte shade (not even a tiny hint of shimmer) which I absolutely adore and it's buildable so you can opt for a natural shadow or dramatic definition. The longevity is brilliant and I didn't need to reapply once throughout the day. It's expensive at £52.00 but it's impressed me so much that I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase.

Let me know in the comments if you've tried any of the Rodial make up range!

Monday, 9 January 2017

2017 Goals & Why I Don't Like Reflecting

2017 Goals Blogging Lifestyle
Reflection is a strange thing for me. I know it seems natural at this time of year, as the abundance of blog posts would indicate, to look back and reflect on the prior year but, quite frankly, I just don't like it. Maybe it's just me but reflecting, whether it's a positive or negative memory, makes me sad. I openly admit I'm a glass half empty kinda girl so I find myself focusing on things that I didn't make the most of, didn't achieve and the things that I didn't do. 2016 has been and gone and that's that. It's the only way my prone-to-overthinking brain can cope with any sort of underachievement, I guess.     

Although I'm fiercely ambitious, I'm also not really one for setting goals - or should I say setting goals and putting them out there for the world to see. Posting them online means that people will be able to see when I've failed, you see. I don't cope with failure very well (if you hadn't already realised!). I'm very aware, however, that having something to work towards in life is important so these are a few things I've been working on in the last couple of months that I want to continue throughout 2017. If I achieve them, then great but if I don't, that's fine too.

Reach 6K followers on Twitter, 1K on Bloglovin' and 1K on Pinterest I'm still of the opinion that number of followers is not everything; it's much more important that you get enjoyment out of blogging and doing what you do rather than boasting 100K followers that you don't even engage with. However, it's good to have a couple of small goals just to reach your next level. These numbers aren't huge but they'd be a great achievement to me personally.

Increase engagement with bloggers Talking to other like-minded bloggers is one of my favourite aspects of blogging so I'll be making sure I do more of what I love. I want to involve myself in chats, debates, comment on more posts and share more of the posts and blogs that deserve recognition within the blogosphere. Since I started blogging, I have rapidly reduced the amount of time I spend reading other blogs so I'm determined to get back into it.

Work with one brand I love Despite blogging for a year and a half, I have worked with a really limited number of brands to date. This isn't something that bothers me as that's not the reason I blog nor is it something that I expect, however, it would be a real privilege to collaborate with at least one brand this year that I'm really passionate about.

Use my blog as a platform to discuss important issues This is probably the goal I would like to achieve the most this year. I briefly mentioned this here in my Francesca Jayne: Blog Rebrand & New Direction post but I want to use my blog to talk about much more than lipstick; I want to include topical issues too. I'm a firm believer that if we are lucky enough to have the freedom to do so, we should use our voices for the greater good so that's what I'm going to attempt to do.

Complete the elite management programme In early December, after hours of researching & collating facts, figures and data then attending the most intense/nerve wracking interview with the Managing Director, I was accepted on to my company's internal management programme. I was successful along with 12 other candidates out of 6,000 people in the company so I'm absolutely over the moon. I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity but I'm not going to say that I'm lucky to get on it. I've worked my arse off, day in, day out for the last 4 years to get where I want to be and I know I deserve my place. It's a 12 month intensive training course with senior managers and I'll be working from London more frequently. There is quite a history of people dropping out due to the pressure so my aim is to ensure that I see this programme through to completion.

Work less This seems rather contradictory following on from the previous point but I think society as a whole need to learn how to achieve more of a balance between working and living. At the moment, my work load is equivalent to roughly 2.5 jobs, I never take a break throughout the day and I'm always working unpaid out of hours. 2017 will be the year that I will learn to be more selfish with my time. I will focus on getting the most out of my career for me and saying 'no' a lot more to the people who try to add unnecessary pressures to my working life.

Self care As I'm sure most of you will know, working full time and blogging often means that self care is pushed right to the back of the queue. I've been working on this quite a bit recently, taking some me time and keeping a healthy mind. I will immerse myself in as many boiling hot Radox bubble baths, treat my face to numerous face masks (pictures of me wearing said masks will obviously be posted on Twitter), drink more water and allow myself relaxing beauty treatments on a regular basis. I'm going to try and reduce my social media usage and read more books too!

Continue to travel Travelling is my haven - it's the only time I feel that I can truly relax and switch off from the stressful realities of life. I want to explore even more countries and also make the most of the amazing country that we live in. Myself and my sister already have a trip booked to Belgium in March and we're hoping to fit in another couple of countries before the end of the year if we can!

Let me know in the comments what you're hoping to achieve in 2017...

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