Thursday, 21 November 2019

AD Making the most of free resources

As a freelancer, there are many different resources that I need access to. In traditional employment, the company tends to pay for software and programmes to make your job easier but as a freelancer, that rests on you and you alone. For example, photo editing software and design creation software can be reeeeaaaalllly expensive and if it's only a minor part of your job, as it is for me, it isn't always worth splashing out on it!

Managing your money as a freelancer can be difficult - you've got all these things to think about like stashing money away to pay your tax bill, and putting money in your pension so when you're old and wrinkly you're still able to survive. They're just absolutely not things we're taught about in school, either, so you're relying on trial and error or stories from those who've been doing it longer than you. But you also want to go on holiday and eat out with your friends and treat your loved ones at Christmas - so if you can make savings when it comes to design software, stock photos, website hosting and more then absolutely DO IT.

There are plenty of FREE softwares you can make use of as a freelancer or blogger. One of these is the site Font Bundles, who offer a huge variety of free fonts for you to use and enjoy. I thought I'd take the opportunity to show you three alternative logos for my blog that I made with fonts from Font Bundles; it's so easy to do, and allows you to explore your creative side without spending money on something that you ultimately might not end up using.

If you're looking for easy ways to create logos, or add something special to graphics you're creating for social media - such as pins for promoting blog posts on Pinterest, or making graphics for Instagram - then using free fonts is a good way of doing it. It allows you to play around with different styles and create different looks/vibes until you find exactly what it is you're after.

The fonts come with a premium license, which means you can use them for both personal (like making a poster for your new book club) and commercial (on your blog, or in a social post you're being paid for etc) use. Many free fonts don't allow you to use them for commercial use, so this is a definite bonus!

To make the above mock-up logos, I used Canva which is another free software that comes in SO handy as a blogger and social media manager. There is a free 14-day trial for the pro version, which I've tried, and it's worth it to be able to upload your own fonts - you can then just cancel the trial, and you've made some fab logos without having to spend a penny. Other free software I rely on includes Trello, Unsplash and Toggl; it's so handy to have programmes like this that help you do your job, keep track of what needs doing/has already been done...

What free software do YOU use in your job/hobby? I'd be interested to know!

This post was written in collaboration with Font Bundles but
all words & opinions are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more info.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Wroclaw, Poland | day two

Thursday 7th November 2019 - 14,301 steps
Read about day one HERE

After a bit of a slow morning we headed to Vincent again for breakfast, because we knew it would be good, and then we walked round to St Elizabeth's Church. This is just outside of the main square, and has a viewpoint over the city - wherever I go, I seem to walk up a bunch of stairs to get a view over the terracotta rooftops. There were 300 steps, and it cost 10 zloty (around £2) each to walk up. The views were phenomenal and I'm so glad we did it, even though the steps were so steep and it was such a killer!

We came back down and had a drink in the bar opposite - just coke for me, because I was still recovering from all the steps - then headed back into St Elizabeth's to see the interior of the church, which is lovely. Our next stop was to head to the River Oder (which runs through Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic). We walked through the university quarter to get there, making a mental note of some cool bars and looking in souvenir shops.

On our way to the river, we stopped in the lovely Barokowy ogród Ossolineum which was the most perfectly relaxing place to sit for a while. Then we carried on our short journey to the river, which was lovely - we walked along it until we reached the National Museum, a stunning ivy-clad building that was sadly closed when we got there.

After deciding we would return the next day, we walked back towards the main area of the city admiring buildings and cracking jokes as we went. We stopped for a drink in the lovely Rej's Pub - it was around £4-5 for a double vodka lemonade & a beer, and there was all sorts of film memorabilia on the walls. A quiet, tucked-away kind of place but definitely worth popping in for a drink (it's on Kotlarska) if you're nearby!

By this point we were hungry because we'd not really eaten lunch, and we decided on an early tea to make room for all the vodka later on. Our eatery of choice was Viviere Italiano, with its Vespa in the window and extensive list of Italian dishes. I started with soup and some gluten free focaccia (the best I've ever had) followed by a lovely gluten free pizza. It wasn't particularly expensive, and the food was fantastic although it did come out at weird intervals so we were never all eating together, really. But what can you do?

We nipped into Zabka for some more vodka, pop and crisps then headed back to the apartment to freshen up and play some more card games. Our night then went something like this: Art Cafe Kalambur for a drink (very busy, full of art students, strange little indoor terrace with cushions to sit on), Pub Paka for another drink and then on to Kombinat, our regular haunt, for many drinks including their homemade raspberry vodka. Then I got home and threw up.

It was a great day despite my vodka-induced vomiting, and I'd definitely recommend Viviere Italiano and the bars we visited. Climbing the church tower is a must, too!

For my top 5 things to do in Poland's capital, CLICK HERE

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Homeware gift ideas 2019

This might seem like a strange category for a gift guide, but I personally am at that age where my friends are moving out, starting families and becoming homeowners. Not me personally, but you know. Other people. Anyway, all that stuff is really expensive - so gifting someone some nice homeware is a great idea, I think...

Table the motion

When the team over at Top Furniture offered to get involved with my gift guides, I was thrilled. We're actually redecorating our living room, and I let my dad pick out this Country Oak Lamp Table*, which has a drawer and a shelf. It's so sturdy, and I think the price is spot on for such a nice piece of furniture. Something like this is definitely the sort of present a new homeowner would appreciate, especially if you let them pick out the perfect piece! GET IT HERE FOR UNDER £120

Lap it up

Ever since I started working from home, I've told myself I need a lap tray or laptop table. But of course, I've just put off getting one/forgotten about it/been skint. VonHaus sent me the most perfect bamboo tablet and laptop table*, which is such good quality and looks stylish too. I've used it every single day since it arrived, so if you're buying for a blogger or someone who works from home - or event just someone who loves to binge Netflix shows in bed - check it out. GET IT HERE FOR UNDER £15

Get cosy

My room is a bit cold, and we all want to save on the heating bills anyway - so fleecy bedding makes the PERFECT Christmas gift. I got mine from B&M for around the £20 mark, but it had sold out in my local store last time I was there. However, you can get it from all sorts of places now such as Next and Dunelm - and it's so cosy. Plus it looks gorgeous!

Making memories last

I absolutely love photos - I have so many printed out, stuck in albums or hanging around my office. When the gang from Treat Republic offered to send out an oak photo cube, I knew I had to get it personalised for my mum and dad. You can get text carved into it, and then of course you print out photos to go in the squares. I haven't actually had the photos printed yet, because I'm a bit useless and I've been SO busy, but I got it with their love of cruising in mind. I thought they could use it store ticket stubs and passes from cruise excursions, and have photos from their past cruises in the squares. Such a cute and inexpensive personalised gift idea! GET IT HERE FOR UNDER £25

Let it burn

People just love candles, don't they? Me included, to be fair, and you can get really nice ones no matter what your budget is. Yankee Candles are iconic, and Home Bargains do fairly similar ones. Jo Malone candles are proper luxury stuff, and Asda do really good dupes of their scents. You can also get handmade candles on Etsy and from local gift shops, and some other lovely candle brands are Baylis & Harding, Woodwick and Celtic Herbal.

It's time to face the music

A record player makes a really cute Christmas gift. I got mine for my birthday, but I love it - and I love scouring the charity shops to expand my record collection. You don't have to spend a lot, either! Mine's a Goodmans one from B&M, and you can get them in places like Argos and John Lewis too. They look cool, they're functional and t's just an all-round solid present for someone.

Cuddle up

Are you ever too old for a plush toy, really? Shop Disney have such a wide range of amazing Disney plushes which can either be cuddled (like my medium sized Tigger is, when I feel sad or tired) or displayed like my large (and personalised!) Beast is. If someone has a particular favourite Disney character, you can't go wrong and they're always on offer around Christmas!

If you have any other homeware gift ideas, leave them in the comments below! I'd love to know your thoughts on the above, too.

For my beauty gift guide, CLICK HERE

Friday, 15 November 2019

Wroclaw, Poland | day one

Wednesday 6th November 2019 - 12,234 steps

As you may know, I've recently been to Wroclaw in Poland. It's a lovely city in the west of the country, on the Oder River, and I went with my other half and two of our friends for 4 nights/3 days. I thought I'd do a wee travel diary of our three days so you can see what we got up to, and what I'd recommend about the city!

We started the day at Vincent Cafe for some breakfast - they had a really wide range of food, and the price was reasonable. After eating we decided to just go for a wander and get our bearings; the buildings are all so beautiful, it was nice to just soak it all in. We stumbled upon Duza Czarna, a record shop above a book store, and spent ages flicking through old and new vinyl. I picked up an album of Polish Christmas carols, and a 7" single by Creedence Clearwater Revival - it cost me the equivalent of £3 for both.

Our next stop was the beautiful Park Staromiejski - so peaceful with a little aviary in the middle, benches to sit on and plenty of trees and plants to admire. It comes out onto the promenade, so we walked along that snapping photos and admiring the view until we came to Galeria Dominikańska - the mall. We all needed a wee so we went inside, then ended up in a little bar in there called Lulu's where we paid 97PLN (under £20) for 3 beers, 2 vodkas, a cocktail, a croissant and a soft drink. The cream cakes looked incredible, if you're into that.

We headed back towards the old town, where we explored the alleyways and hunted for the tiny dwarves that are dotted around the city - they're tiny brass figures and there are over 300 of them, and they're SO cute. We found ourselves in Malgosia Bar, where we paid £3.82 for a pint and a double vodka lemonade - it was practically pitch black in here, which was odd, but we just had the one and then decided to head back to the apartment for a freshen up.

On the way we hit up the little general store, Zabka (they have these all over Poland) to get some essentials for the apartment. We paid 54PLN (just over £10) for 4 big bags of crisps, 2 bottles of pop, a bottle of milk, a big bottle of water, loads of sweets and 4 cans of beer. I also hit up Tiger, as is customary for me when I'm on holiday, and got us some playing cards which none of us had remembered to bring.

Back in our apartment (we stayed HERE, by the way, and it was less than 30 seconds walk to the old town square - it was lovely, despite the 7 flights of stairs, and cost us £67 each for the whole 4 nights which is an absolutely bargain I reckon) we played cards, drank some vodka and beer and listened to a lot of Nirvana and the Beatles.

For dinner we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe, a firm favourite of mine, which had Les Paul's actual Les Paul and Frank Zappa's platform boots but, mostly excitingly, a hand written Johnny Cash setlist. I had a gluten free cheese burger and then we headed off in search of another rock bar we'd heard about. We didn't find it but we did stumble upon Czupito, which sold the weirdest selection of shots - more like mini cocktails, really - and then we found Neonside, which resulted in a bit of a photo shoot for us all. The pictures turned out well though, to be fair! We ended the night in Kombinat, which became our favourite bar, for more vodka.

Keep your eyes peeled for what we got up to on day two of our trip!

Want to read about my trip to Gdańsk? CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Beauty gift ideas 2019

If you know me, you'll know I love beauty - my stash of cleansers is slowly taking over the bathroom, and my office drawers are crammed full of lipstick, foundation and various eyeshadow palettes. With that in mind, I've tried out some bits that I think would make the perfect gift for the beauty lover in your life...

Mirror, mirror in my suitcase

As someone who travels fairly often, I know the struggle when it comes to trying to do your make-up in really shoddy hotel or Airbnb lighting. When Modern Mirror Designs reached out to me to see if I wanted to try their portable Hollywood X-Press Personal Make Up Mirror, I knew I had to give it a go - and what a game changer! It's much bigger than using the mirror in a palette, and the light around the edge (you can change the setting to whatever you want) makes doing your make-up a doddle. BUY HERE FOR UNDER £30

Bang tidy

I have 5 drawers full of make up and skincare in my office, and I keep a select few in a make up bag in my room which is where I actually get ready. However, I've recently found that the 'select few' products just aren't enough, and I like to have choices. So I needed a bigger make up bag in my life! I was in touch with the team at Beautify and it seemed like the perfect moment to try their Grey 2 Tier Make Up Case. It's velvet with rose gold zips, and it's just absolutely stunning. Definitely the perfect dressing table accessory, it fits loads in and feels really good quality. Such a good gift for beauty lovers this Christmas! BUY HERE FOR UNDER £30

Kiss and make up

Buying make up can be difficult, but when you get it right it's such a good gift. I'm not the sort of person to just buy myself some luxury make up, but I really do love a fancy lipstick and expensive foundation. Without further ado, here are some of the best luxury make up products (in my humble opinion) that you could treat your beauty-lover to this Christmas...

💄DiorSkin Mineral Nude Luminizer
💄Zoeva Cocoa Blend Eyeshadow Palette
💄Gerard Cosmetics Scented Setting Spray
💄Juvia's Place The Nubian 2 Eyeshadow Palette
💄Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Lipstick
💄Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops
💄Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick

Double, bubble, toil and trouble

Bath/skincare products are a sure fire winner at Christmas. If whoever you're buying for has a favourite brand, then you definitely can't go wrong! Pre-made gift sets are ideal, especially if whoever you're buying for has a favourite brand. For example, Baylis & Harding offer something different for everyone: as well as the usual bits they also have a range of men's products, and the Beauticology range is perfect for teenagers. They sent me loads of their gift sets, and everything looks so well put together and smells amazing to boot.

Soap & Glory are a brand you can't go wrong with at Christmas, too, whether it's standalone products or gift sets! Some of my favourite products from them are the Righteous Butter*, the Sugar Crush shower gel and the Hand Food hand cream. Find the range HERE starting at just £3.

This year, Wilko have got some cracking gift sets - you can pick up branded ones in there from the likes of Nivea, Dove and Lynx, but their own brand ones* are great too. The packaging is really pretty and you get a good range of body butters, shower gels, scrubs and more. Starting from £2, you can pick them up in store or online.

So there you have it - plenty of beauty gifting options for Christmas 2019. Let me know in the comments what your perfect beauty gift would be!! P.S when you're Christmas shopping make sure you have some sort of cash back extension on your browser, because you're basically just getting free money back for your purchases. Use Quidco but there's also Top Cashback - just a little tip.