Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Lifestyle Gadget Hacks

Everyone wants their home to be a relaxing personal space, where they can forget the cares of the day and enjoy some tranquillity. We surround ourselves with beautiful things, whether it's furniture, make-up, pictures, an amazing TV or a pinterest-worthy kitchen. But now it's the 21st century and we can fill our home with a lot of devices that are not only easy on the eye, but also functional, making a genuine difference to our quality of life.
 
 Unfortunately, many of us suffer from allergies, my Mum being one of them! Whether they're caused by dust mites, mildew or mould, they're certainly a pain, resulting in runny eyes, sneezing, skin rashes and in the worst cases, asthma. Some areas of your home, such as the bathroom or kitchen, with limited ventilation, can suffer from a build-up of moisture, leading to mould and mildew. One gadget which can solve this is a dehumidifier, which reduces humidity levels and makes your home less susceptible to allergens. They run quietly and are not disruptive to your life in any way. Dehumidifiers will also get rid of the musty smell of mildew and will also mean your clothes, soft furnishing and other items will not develop mould. In turn, this will improve the climate for your respiratory system and skin, so you will feel more comfortable in your home.  Also, you'll find your washing will dry quicker, your cereal and bread won't go stale as fast and you're less likely to find rust on any metal equipment.
 

 
 
Another new gadget you might consider is a wireless key finder, if you're forever losing your car keys! Adam is TERRIBLE for putting his keys down in the most random of places. So this nifty little thing, helps find lost keys at the push of a button. The lost key finder comes in two parts, comprising a receiver to attach to your keys and a transmitter. When you lose your keys, press the buttons on your transmitter - which you should keep somewhere safe, of course - and the receiver on your keys will beep and flash to locate your keys.
 
If you have children (or perhaps young pets!), get peace of mind by investing in a baby camera monitor. This compact, portable monitor, which can be carried anywhere in the house, comprises a digital, wireless communication link to produce a 2.4-inch video of your baby's room, so you know what they're doing at all times.
 
 Improve your lifestyle with some hi-tech gadgets and you will reap the rewards right away!
*Sponsored post

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

'The Other M' Handbags

With London Fashion Week upon us, there are accessories, clothes, shoes and styles everywhere you look! So what better way to introduce you all to a new and exclusive handbag range... 

All designs from The Other M are LIMITED EDITION and exist in 40, 60 or 80 units only. Ever. Whatever happens! So a The Other M bag is, always, truly exclusive unlike others so called "limited edition” products. Not creating 100’s of the same bag means that for most people that buy them, they have a gem - a hidden article that once they’re gone, no-one else can get their hands on! 


Made from the best Italian leather and crafts, The Other M bags are definitely a key piece in your collection - whether it be spring, summer or winter. Launched in July this year, a few months retail have seen the increase of this amazing brand, dedicated to capturing what it is women (and men!) want from Handbags and I’ve already got my eye on one... The Bayard & Grenelle designs are unisex models, The Other M will always have some limited edition designs that cater to the male market too.

One of the things I love about The Other M’s handbags is the uniqueness, you really don’t see anything like the styles you see from The Other M and not to mention that all handbags will help support the busy, dramatic life of their owners thanks to a set of included items such as a useful plexyglass table hanger, a small torch and a universal power bank! How amazing?! Every bag also comes with its serial number and certificate of adoption. They really are exclusive pieces with unique personalities. I think the bags also suit various types of people, what I noticed about most of the designs is that they could be amazing changing bags - all be it, expensive ones but youdefinitely be the most glamorous Mum around!





Ranging from £300-£450, the bags are definitely one you’d treat yourself to, but in comparison to Micheal Kors and similar bags, the price really isn’t too bad, especially or the quality and exclusivity of them. So make sure you head over to their Facebook and Instagram accounts to see some of the beautiful handbags that have been created! And go on... Treat yourself! The Other M wants to make having a The Other M bag fun and even though it is a premium brand, it does not taking itself too seriously!
 *Sponsored post

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Tips for Starting University

A lot of you may be starting university this week, it’s something I did back in 2011 and although I was 21 when I started, a lot older than all the 18 year olds that were starting university, my aim was similar to theirs... I was there to get a degree. However, I didn’t plan to I go out and get drunk every night, I’d had 3 years of that beforehand - I was there to make a career for myself. I applied to 4 universities to do a Sport Education type of course 1) Liverpool John Moore 2) St Marys Twickenham 3) Leeds Met 4) Brunel University. Because I never did A-Levels, my college and Personal Training NVQ were all I had to give me my UCAS points which came to just under 280, this ruled out Leeds & Brunel and then unfortunately, Liverpool had dropped their course but offered me a place on the Physical Education Studies course. After taking a trip up to Liverpool to visit one of the tutors and discuss if the course was right for me, I decided to go with Twickenham as it was more focused on the things I wanted to obtain from it, i.e. becoming a PE teacher. 


So, through the summer of 2011, preparations began, I was making lists of what I was going to take, sorting boxes, I sold my beloved little car *sobs hysterically* and was getting books which I thought would help with my studies. I moved down to uni on 11th September 2011 and I must admit, it was a little daunting but I couldn't wait to start my life in university, getting the thing I wanted most... A career (although this all changed when Millie arrived but that's a whole new story)! Now, if you're starting university, you may have all these questions about what's going to happen when you get there, how do you make new friends, getting to know the area etc... Well, fret no more. I have put together a little list of things to do when you get to uni to help make you more comfortable and to settle it quickly:

Be friendly - I know it's kind of stating the obvious but a smile goes a long way. You will probably find that 2nd and 3rd years will be helping you move into halls / helping you find your way around so don't forget to smile and thank them, maybe generate conversation. At least when you're settled in, you have a familiar face to say 'Hi' to around uni. 
Tip: Bake/buy a cake(s) to offer round to your fellow housemates, that way you have something to approach them with rather than daft or awkward questions.

Leave your door open - When you're moving in (or even once you're settled) leave your door open so that everyone in halls knows you're there! If one of you need something, it's less scary knocking on asking them and also, when you walk past, say hello and ask what course people are doing - I found this to be a starting point for all conversations!  
Tip: Buy or make a sign to put on your door letting people know if you’re in or don’t want to be disturbed etc - you’ll get people wandering around at all hours so unless you’re not a sleeper, this may be ideal.

Take part in what ever is going on - On our first night in halls, we had a halls meeting and all went for dinner together. It was a great way of seeing who we lived with and you will probably find someone that you instantly click with and will continue to be friends with for the duration of your stay. But throughout the first week there will be so much stuff going on that by the end of it, you’ll forget that you never actually knew any of the people you’re with!
Tip: Take earplugs - some events will go on most of the night and if you’re having a break, you’ll need some sleep and trust me, things can get pretty noisy when people are coming back at 4am!

Don't be afraid to ask questions - If you have a halls mentor or a ‘buddy' (normally a 2nd or 3rd year) don't be afraid to ask them questions. Whether it's about travelling home, going out, places to shop etc - they are there to support you, not just to make you extremely hungover! If you live quite far away, it’s worth asking them about the nearest train station, bus timetables etc so that you know where you need to go if you want to go home. 
Tip: Get your mentors number, if you ever have a question and they’re not around then at least you can text someone familiar!

Make the effort - I know this one sounds a little pushy but you have to remember, some people may not be as open as you are, others may be a little too open but friendships only work when both people put the effort in. Everyone will be in the same boat on the first couple of days so try to stay away from cliques or judging people before you get to know them - you never know... they could be your best friend in a couple of weeks time! 
Tip: If nothing has been arranged, put up a notice in your common room/area for everyone to come together that evening and arrange a dinner to get to know people!

Don't feel pressured - There will be things going on that you may not be comfortable with; drugs, drink, smoking etc, but don't feel like you HAVE to do something because everyone else is. I actually only went to the local nightclub about 3 times because the student scene just wasn't for me and I'd rather use my money to come home at weekends and see Adam. At times I felt lonely because everyone else would be going out but at the end of the day, I wasn't going to force myself to go out just because everyone else was, I sat and pre-drank with people but then would go back to my room once they headed out. I don’t think I was the only one though so that reassured me.
Tip: If you’re ever in doubt, maybe just arrange something else with one of your friends who also isn’t really feeling it, you can guarantee there will be someone else apart from you that doesn’t want to go out 7 nights in a row!

Most importantly, Be yourself! It's easy to get wrapped up in a little white lie when you meet a bunch of new people and if someone is bragging about their brand new Mini that's sitting in the car park and that they are planning 3 holidays during first year, don't feel like you need to lie to compete with them and look better. At the end of the day, these people you meet at university will be your friends for at least 3 years, maybe more, and will find things out about you in their own time. Don't try to be someone you're not! 

Monday, 7 September 2015

KH Hair Salons - Review

If you’re a regular reader over here at Not Your Average, you will know how much I like to change my hair and vary style, colour and even length. I was kindly invited to visit a local salon, KH Hair Ashby de la Zouch, for a spruce up and treatment of my hair a few weeks back and I thought I’d let you all know how it went...

KH Hair is an East Midlands based chain with a total number of 22 premier Hair Salons that all have award winning stylists and a whole range of treatments available. My local salon is literally 10 minutes drive from my house so if you’re based in or around the East Midlands, you can find your nearest salon here or take a look around the Ashby de la Zouch salon here. Each salon uses Wella products with various other brands available to use and will identify what treatment will suit you on a consultation if required, so even if it’s a top-up colour, a quick trim or a deep conditioning, they will tell you what’s best for your hair. 


On my consultation, Emma (the senior stylist) decided that my hair would benefit from a tidy up trim, a strengthening treatment and also a toner to help bring the blonde out in my hair and hide the brassiness. I completely agreed, had a patch test and then booked myself an appointment - that day, I arrived and was swiftly greeted by a receptionist and Emma came over to take me over to my seat. We quickly discussed what was happening to make sure I was still happy with it and headed over to the sinks. The salon isn’t too big so you don’t feel cramped or crowded with 10 other hairdryers going or people talking constantly. First, was my toner - it was a Wella product that was gently applied to my whole head, focusing on the ends which is where the orangey tones were, it was left to set for about 15 minutes whilst Emma continued to chat to me. When that was rinsed and shampooed, a strengthening treatment from Sebastian was used to help repair my ends as they had been dyed and dyed, over and over. Once this was done it was back over to the chair for my cut! 

I always find getting my hair washed and cut so relaxing, I love it when people do my hair! Back at the chair, Emma combed my hair out and trimmed the ends as agreed, she also made my fringe a little fuller so it swept across more of my face rather than feathered round it on one side. A blow-dry and some straightening later and it was done! The blow-dry was quick and simple, no fancy curls - just how I like it but I was asked how I liked it dried... Emma also straightened it for me and curled the ends slightly to give it a little movement as we were going out for lunch that afternoon. The toner had completely lifted the blonde and it was a lovely ashy colour compared to the orange-blonde that it was before and the cut was neat and tidy!







I’m pretty happy with my usual hairdresser but I would definitely book to come back to KH Hair again so I think in future, if my usual is fully booked, I’ll be calling here for an appointment! I was so pleased with the results and now, even after 2 weeks worth of washing my hair, the colour is still the lighter, ashy blonde that it was when I left!

The salon also offers a bridal service, hair extensions and lots more treatments so if you’re not in need of a cut or just want a pamper, then check out their price card to see what’s on offer! 

Friday, 4 September 2015

Banksy’s 'Dismaland'

As you may or may not have heard, Banksy and various other artists have created the ultimate ‘Bemusement’ park in Weston Super Mare - housing art of all kinds that creates the Dismal experience that is ‘Dismaland’. Rumours started about 2 weeks ago and the doors opened last Friday to locals of Weston but with tickets not on sale until the following Tuesday, questions were being asked as to whether it was all a hoax or not. Well, we managed to bag ourselves some tickets and headed down last Thursday. For £5.00 a ticket - why wouldn’t we?!  If you’re hoping to get yourself some tickets, I’m afraid they’re all sold out for now - you may be able to grab yourself some more later this week but just keep checking the website for details... 






















A quick summary though as I’ve been asked a few times what it was like... 
  • Because the tickets were so cheap, it justifies the 2 hour car drive there and of course, you can still make a day of it by spending some time on Weston pier etc BUT if you have a long old drive, I’m not too sure if it’s totally worth it. 
  • Don’t turn up without a ticket - we still had to que even though we had tickets and there was a hefty que for the people who didn’t have a ticket. If you’re prepared to que for 3+ hours then be my guest, but if you CAN get a ticket then I highly recommend it. 
  • It’s a bit controversial so don’t take impressionable children/teenagers unless you’re prepared to explain what it is they’re looking at i.e. dead immigrants in the boats, the Orca jumping through the hoop & numerous signs with the word ‘fuck’. 
  • The art is amazing - how it’s all been put together is incredible and it’s well worth seeing, even if it’s just to say that you’ve been and have the photos to keep for yourself. 
  • We spent 2 hours in there and didn’t even do/see everything so it’s worth heading down if you’re prepared to spend a bit of money doing everything i.e. Golf, Ferris Wheel, Carousel etc. 
  • It’s not in anyway a mockery of Disneyland although it does have certain features of Disneyland that have been re-created in a different way. 
Are you a fan of Banksy and his pieces? 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Beauty Trends at Highcross, Leicester

Living where we do in the East Midlands, means we’re under an hour away from 4 pretty decent shopping cities, 1 of them being Leicester. Whilst shopping in Leicester's 'mall', Highcross, there is a fabulous new app that can be used to assist your day which has handy beauty tips if you’re looking on stocking up your make-up, offers and discounts for shops and restaurants, and any events happening soon. The PLUS app is like having your own personal shopping partner and one of the best things about the Highcross PLUS app is that the more you use it, the more personalised it becomes and it will better suit your needs every time you visit. The Highcross PLUS app has lots of different features including an interactive map of the shopping centre, labelling shops, restaurants and bars and has a list of opening times for the centre too!
 

 
 



 
So, using the app, I set off to Highcross to get my hands on some of the upcoming seasons' beauty trends. I wanted to try and get both high and low end products, showing that there are shops for all budgets and you can get similar products to keep up with the various trends. First up, I headed to John Lewis to see what mascaras they had. Lashings of liner and bold lashes are what's on trend next season and so with the help of Benefit's “Rollerlash” mascara (£19.50), I think I'll be hitting the nail on the head with that one. For the cheaper option, I made my way to Boots using the PLUS app and picked up a Maybelline “Lash Sensational” mascara (£5.99 RRP £7.99) – both look like they have a very similar wand and you can see the difference in both of them below...

In addition to liner and lashes, colour is up next. Metallic Copper eyeshadow is going to be big next season, I love Copper shadows anyway so I actually struggled to find something I’d not tried before but then I came across an eyeshadow in Debenhams, in MAC; “Antiqued”(£13.00). A perfect mix of gold and bronze shades giving a gorgeous copper look. The beauty expert was also so helpful by helping me find exactly what I was looking for and even offered if I wanted to try them out but I'd already done my make-up for the day and was pretty happy with it, haha! If MAC’s not your thing though, for a little less money you could always use a blend of New Looks’ Pure Colour Eyeshadows in “Biscuit” (baked shadow) (£3.99) and “Chestnut” (£1.00 RRP £2.99) to give that same metallic, copper look.

 

 

 

 


 

 
So, we've got the eyes down, now lets move onto lips. Gloss is coming back so forget those nude lipsticks, it's all about clear, glossy lips. Or, if you're like me and gloss isn't your thing, you'll be extremely happy to know that Matte Red Lips are IN and what brand is best for lipsticks – MAC. Yep, so after MUCH deliberation and a hand full of swatched lipsticks (you can see the stains in the pictures), I went with “Russian Red” (£15.50). As for the cheaper alternative, I don’t think I could have got anything better than Toyshop’s Matte Lipstick in “Hazard” (£8.00), it’s pretty much identical to Russian Red but a little more velvety. The Topshop lipstick range actually really impressed me and the sales assistants were so friendly too! I’d definitely recommend popping in to have a look at their beauty range if you have a chance.

 
Now, moving onto the rest of the face, adding a bronze glow with a hint of blush to the cheeks is the perfect way to accompany the shadow on the eyes, so with Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed palette (£22.50), this is going to give you exactly that all in one go! You can use the 3 colours separately or a mix of them all to give a lovely shimmer to the face. But, if thats a little out of your budget, a mix of Collection’s Bronze Glow Mosaic in “Sunkissed” (£2.99*) and Blush in “Bashful” (£2.99*) are the perfect dupe and a fraction of the cost!*2 products for £5.00

 

 

 
 
 
  
We had been wandering around now for a while and we wanted to grab something to eat, so using the offers in the app we managed to get something to eat to keep us going and I made my way to get my last item. Hair accessories are really common but you never really see them used in winter, unless it's a hat. There are so many to choose from at the moment, with feathers and flower headbands being two of my favourite. I had a quick look in both Accessorize and Urban Outfitters but it was this Metallic looking leaf cut headband (£3.50) from Claires Accessories that caught my eye.
 


 

So after a very successful shopping trip, with shops stocked full of the latest Beauty Trends and the shopping centre so easy to navigate, I highly recommend that you down load the PLUS app for Highcross Leicester now – for beauty tips, news and offers to use this weekend! (Apple download) (Android download) And remember, download it before you get there so you can take full advantage of any offers that are valid. I know I’ll be using it every time I go - we all love a good deal, don’t we?! 

Offers currently available in and around Highcross-
1.       Free 200ml body lotion at Lancôme, Debenhams. Purchase La Vie Est Belle 30ml or above fragrance and receive a complimentary body lotion.
2.       Free 15 minute make-up consultation at Givenchy Debenhams. Visit the Givenchy counter at Debenhams and book an appointment to receive a complimentary make-up consultation.
3.       10% off at Boots No7. Take 10% off your purchase when you spend £25 on any Boots No7 products.
I’ll be back with more posts covering Highcross, so stay tuned.
 
*I have been lucky enough to work with Highcross to produce this post.