Monday, 31 October 2016

A NEW PUPPY and DOUBLE BIRTHDAY! 🐢

I had so much fun at my sister's house just over a week ago! I went to celebrate my niece's 4th and sister's 30th birthday, plus I was surprised with a new family addition of Tess the Goldendoodle!

On day one, we went swimming! I was so excited to record some fun water footage and take some pictures of Hallie but there were signs up everywhere saying no photography. Honestly, I was a little annoyed about it but really I think it's just a really stupid policy.

Afterwards, we headed back to their house and Hallie introduced me to Tess. She is seriously so sweet and sassy; she's so full of energy and just the perfect dog for Hallie. I can't believe how well trained she is already: she sits, catches and is starting to lie on command!


At 6pm, Vicky, Jay and Catherine set off to a party while I babysat Hallie and Tess. I love spending alone time with Hallie. I just feel so much happier and at ease. I just love spending quality one-on-one time with anyone but, without a doubt, Hallie is my favourite.

Way later, than expected, dad and Jess showed up. I introduced them to the new addition and then after quickly saying hi to Hallie, I put both of them to bed, while we stayed up, had tea and then watched Casualty.

On the Sunday, dad went to help Catherine pack up the house. I'm still in shock that she has moved to Brighton. It's such a fun area of England that I've never been to before and I'm amazed she's made the move. I wish her all the happiness there, near the beach.

Of course, while they were out, and Vicky was getting ready. I let Jess get have some one-on-one time with Hallie while I played outside with Tess. I just love little things!


When they'd almost finished, we went to the pub for lunch and I got my craving of fish and chips satisfied. On the way back, dad and I called at Catherine's to finish the last of the items and then headed back to chill for the rest of the afternoon. It's so fun seeing Hallie play and become more boisterous.

Without a doubt, my favourite part was surprising Hallie and Catherine(!) with birthday cake. Earlier, Vicky and I had nipped to the shops and picked up two cakes. I really wanted a chocolate cake but Vicky wanted a pretty cake for Hallie and went with the minion. If you watched the video, you'll see Hallie really loved it! I just love how surprised Catherine was for her because she wasn't expecting it at all.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out the two vlogs on my YouTube channel. They are so much fun, with not only a new puppy but 2 birthday cakes too! :)


What a fun weekend!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Hallie Turns 4! πŸŽ‚

I can't believe my little baby niece is 4 today! FOUR!

I'm a sobbing mess in bed today but I hope she's having the best day with her mummy and daddy celebrating, while I'm working in hospitals.

I quickly but together some pictures of this last year in a JesssFam styled birthday montage.
Hallie your energy is contagious. Your fun loving personality is awe inspiring; your love for animals is wonderful to see; your sweet embarrassed face is the cutest. I love your dedication to TV, I love watching you in the bath, I love your sweet shoulder hugs and I love your funny picture face.

I love you so much, my cheeky monkey!

Tongues and Pouts

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

"AIR" October Birchbox: Unboxing and Review 🌫

This month's Birchbox theme was "What's Your Sign?" and there were 4 different box designs based on your birth sign. I actually really liked the Fire box design!

  • Earth: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn 
  • Air: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius 
  • Fire: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius 
  • Water: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces 

I'm not going to lie. This month didn't go quite according to plan. I received my box 4 days late and then the box was damaged and indented while when I opened it, one of the products was opened and leaked everywhere ruining all the products and of course the keepsake box. I contacted them and after a long almost 2 week wait period, the box finally arrived with useable goods!

OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum® Collagen Booster - £47.00
Love the product and love the smell but defintely not worth the price. It's makes my skin feel tighter and smoother but I probably wouldn't get much use out of it as I already have my evening routine worked out. 

Lord & Berry 20100 Maxi Matte Crayon Lipstick (Intimacy) - £12.00
Without a doubt, my favourite item this month is this lipstick. It's easy to apply, subtle yet pigmented, long lasting and smudge-resistance. It also has no taste nor smell so it's perfect!
Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Magic Touch Body Cream - £19.50
This is perfect for after a long shower. It's not thick so it feel very much lightweight which I love and it has a fresh, floral scent.
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray - £39
When I first saw this I thought I wouldn't use it because I don't use dry shampoo but I tried it on my flatmates hair and oh my gosh! It is defintely a texturising spray and perfect for those up-hairstyles on clean hair because it gives it that extra grit it needs to hold styles. I probably won't ever purchase this unless I'm specifically going to a fancy occasion because it is very expensive but I do think it is pretty incredible and the formula is clear so it disappears instantly.
Number 4 Fluoro5 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil - £18.40
I feel like I've been given so many different hair oils from Birchbox since I started my subscription and honestly, I'm kind of over them. I rarely use them because I don't think it makes all that much difference - if any - and at the end of the day, it adds extra oil when I'm trying to prolong my hair between washes.

In addition to these five items, they included a 6th bonux item in the form of a full size Eyebrow Brush for £1.99. It works perfectly well and sturdily made me nothing special as it is the same as all the others I have worn. 
In the picture I am wearing the lipstick.
Overall, if it wasn't for the damage and late delivery, I would really like this box! I don't like the fact that it is another drawer box and this time they gave us no warning but I like the design, which even glows a green-tinge in the dark. If it wasn't for the lipstick I would be disappointed but the lipstick defintely makes it worth it! 

Do you want your own Birchbox Subscription? There is no better time than now to sign up. Click here now and on the link below to get £5 free to spend at the Birchbox Shop as a bonus! I love getting a little surprise present in the mail each month. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Jamie Lawson Tour! / SECRET SHOW STORIES 🎀

On Wednesday 19th October, I went to see Jamie Lawson in his UK, self titled tour at the O2 Brixton Academy.

Click here to see his support act, Calum Scott.

Click here to see Jamie Lawson's set highlights.

I can honestly say, I 'wasn't expecting that'! Haha I joke but honestly I was really surprised.
I bought two tickets as it was my cousins 19th birthday present but it turned out she couldn't make it so I ended up taking my flatmate instead. I had tried to sell it but it didn't but I'm so glad! I usually go to concerts by myself, which is totally fine, but this one was a little different as all the audience tickets were seated so no one really talked to each other, other than who they came with.

When they first sent the email saying that they'd been changed to seated I kind of blew it off because I'd figured, no one would be seated for the whole concert anyway. Given all the others I'd been to, I was on my feet the entire time anyway but no...I was proven wrong as apart from a fair few standing ovations, everyone EVERYONE, stayed seating for the duration. It's such an odd concept to me but I guess most of the songs were incredibly slow.

Calum Scott was the support act and I am so glad he was. I think it's safe to say I've had a wide mixture of opinions on support acts but he was incredible. While Sophie and I were waiting for the show to start, we looked him up and while I didn't know the name, I did know his big hit and I love it. All the other songs were just as impressive and at the end of the set, I even felt compelled to stand up, with most others, and give a standing ovation.

Seriously, it was just him and a small band with a cello (I think), keyboard, guitar and back vocals and he just stood there and sung. I got goosebumps and honestly, I was more impressed with him than Jamie.

The only negative I have is that the cellist (again, I think) couldn't really be heard. Neither the instrument or her voice and the sound system was totally off. But other than that, totally sublime.

After a brief break, Jamie came out. Honestly, the stage set up was a little creepy with old furnishings decorating the stage. When the intro started I was a little concerned as to what I'd signed up for. It was just plain odd. The whole concept was just so weird and I was seriously doubting my enjoyment for the rest of the set but then that all disappeared and the songs started playing.

With a rather large backing band, Jamie definitely wasn't playing solo but still he shone. For most the songs he switched between the acoustic guitar and electric guitar, thanks to the guitar handler.

The lighting was really interesting. I'm always intrigued by how many different emotions and feelings they can create from such a small selection but I loved all the little details especially the 'twinkling stars' on the red background.

Jamie seemed very grateful to everyone and consistently thanked the audience for coming and supporting him. He also kept reminding everyone to sing along. Of course I already was but I don't really think it's that sort of movement to be honest and most people just sat taking in the lyrics and melodies.

That is one thing I love about his music. It's all very deep and meaningful and full of heartache. But instead of shouting the message at you, you can either listen in bliss or delve to get a deeper understanding.

If you're into order and peacefulness, I would definitely recommend seeing him on his few remaining tour dates. I've already seen him twice (as One Directions support and at a signing, meet and greet at FOPP) and still love him!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

How to Talk About Abuse πŸ’­

When I receive an application from a guest poster, I look at their blog. I try to gain a little bit about the person and then I look at what they want to write about to see if it fits in with my own idea for where I want my blog to go. Often, the person doesn't know what they want to write about so I offer suggestions about what I would want to hear from them.

When I recieved Jennifer Peacock-Smith's application, I went to her self-titled blog and was immediately intrigued by her opening statement:

"Writer, Blogger, Chronic Abuse Survivor & WIP (in all ways). This is the blog about all the pieces of my broken life, heart and soul. My journey of hope, loss, abuse and a TCK finding a Tribe and somewhere to belong."

I wanted to know more about her journey because I was interested in her story and because I'm nosey but with the response I got back from Jenn, I've learnt so much more about how to talk about abuse from a victim's perspective. The story doesn't just stop and as more and more time passes, the story will change and evolve but here Jenn shares her thoughts on how even though the story needs to be told, they are never simple.

Hannah asked me to talk about my story of chronic abuse and asked some questions which are so valid and vital to any story: what happened? how did you overcome it? how did you become strong again, to be the person that you are today?

I love that she asked me these questions, but the problem comes in the answers. They are so broad and overwhelming and painful and complicated… But all stories of any kind of abuse are stories that need to be told and none of them are simple. 

As human beings we like to see things in boxes. We like to see things through our own filters and we like the short versions. I get that, I truly do and most stories do have some level of a short version. “I got lost in the woods for 3 days and got frostbite and third degree sunburn” captures the basics of someone who was lost, suffered and was eventually found alive. But, it misses the tragedies along the way; the dehydration and the close calls, the unbearable cold in the night which caused frostbite or the searing heat of the day which caused blistering sunburn. 

Unlike stories of a single incident (acute traumas which are huge “one off” events), chronic traumas (smaller events but many of them occurring over a long period of time) are harder to explain. We all know what it feels like to be hungry, to be freezing cold and to get sunburn. To go through all this is something hard to fathom but most of us can imagine it and empathise with it. Missing a meal every day over a long time is a different kind of pain but I think that most of us can imagine that as well, ...and that the chronic nature of it would also have an impact.

On the surface, we can’t all relate to abuse however, or at least we don’t think that we can. We do know what it is like to have our feelings hurt, but often we are comforted and consoled by someone who cares for us. There is a combination of knowing what it “feels” like, but also not seeing it as abuse as such.

In this day and age of awareness, if a child went every year to a Sunday School camp, looked lost and frightened much of the time, but blossomed and looked happy as the days progressed and then at the end she refused to get on the bus to go home, alarm bells would go off. If year after year when it was time to leave camp, she curled up on her bunk bed and wouldn’t come out of the room, if she sobbed and cried and begged to not be sent home, someone would be asking some pretty big questions, especially if it was happening year after year.

But back then, when I was that little girl, they gave me a hug, told me that I have lovely parents, that I mustn’t be silly and popped me on the bus anyway. Part of the problem was that there weren’t alarm bells to go off, because if you had a roof over your head and happy parents who sent you on camps and put food on the table then what did you have to complain about? There was no alcoholism or divorce and everyone was fed and “healthy”. All the right boxes were ticked and so everything had to be perfectly fine.

The bigger part of the problem, I guess, is that I didn’t have the words even when I did get the chance to speak. Just like on that bunk bed when the wonderful lady came to console me and send me on my way. 

How does a child explain what loneliness and isolation and neglect of your heart and soul is? 

I didn’t even know any of those handful of words said right there, never mind their meaning. I am not broken and damaged because of a strong swift force that came along and turned my world upside down. Instead, I was broken and damaged by a constant set of waves, like being in the ocean too deep, where you never quite get to catch your breath before the next wave hits you. You spend your life gasping for air and surviving, without ever actually learning how to swim. My story is that of a long list of waves. From the outside looking relatively benign, but on the inside beating me up pretty badly. Emotional abuse is something that only as an adult I am able to put words to and my story is one that I am only now starting to tell for myself, before I am able to tell it to the world. But to the few who have read bits and pieces, they have all related to one way or another.

My journey to healing has been extremely long and hard, and I am not quite there yet, but I have learnt that in order to be heard, I need to tell the story as a whole. I am not there yet, and I am hoping to have it published when I do, but it is not just about sharing my story. It is about encouraging others to find and own and eventually tell theirs. My story is ultimately a redemption story, a survival story, and it is also one of the costs of survival. 

My journey has already been more costly than I could ever have imagined, but by the same token, everything that I have lost, I learnt that I never really had in the first place. We all have a deep desire to be needed, wanted and loved by our parents. I had to let go of that need in order to rise above the squashed broken person that they had made me into and in the process I lost my parents: they have disowned me. In many ways, it was one of the greatest costs of all in life, but as my psychologists keep reminding me, I never really had them in the first place.

I have learnt recently in therapy that there are two very distinct parts of me; the broken frightened damaged me and the strong independent determined me. These two parts have fought through my life to see who could win but without understand them, they both did in different ways and at different times. 

This is something that I didn't choose, I believe that it is just something that I was given; a determination and drive, a faith that is real, deep and strong and with one person or another by my side, cheering me on along some of the way. I have tackled this the same way that you eat an elephant; one bite at a time.

I love all her metaphors and similes!

Like Jenn says so many times, the story is a long and hard one and I'm so glad to see how far she has come. With that, like many sufferers, the story is not easy and it takes time to become okay with sharing. I hope that she is one day able to share it as a whole.

To read more and follow along with Jenn's story, go and read her blog on all things writing, including EDS (her condition) and chronic champions. Additionally, she loves her creative section and is on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest too.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

October 2016 - Secret Scent Box: Unboxing and Review 🌹

I've been very lucky recently and I won on Instagram competition with Secret Scent Box. I, of course, received the Women's Box but I found it really nice that they also did a Men's Box.
So when I received it, I was really impressed by how quickly it was delivered. I got it just a couple of days after it was announced I'd won so straight away I was pleased. The Secret Scent Box is a UK fragrance box subscription that "lets you discover new designer and branded perfumes or colognes" for £15 a month.
I received the October box and I love how cute the packaging is. It comes in a really high quality black box which is very simple and perfect for travelling with jewellery, I've decided. The 3 perfumes are well packaged and will not break as they are safely tucked away into little slots.

I really liked how they colour coded the bottles and then gave brief descriptions of each scent with an idea of the type of occasion it's appropriate for plus the bases for the smells.

  • Stella McCartney - POP: soft, feminine smelling and currently my favourite!
  • Dolce & Gabbana - 3 L'ImpΓ©ratrice:
  • Guerlain L`Instant Magic:
I actually really like the idea of getting a surprise 3 samples each month because I don't wear much perfume and often, by the time you've reached half way to the end of one big bottle youre kind of bored and over it. 

Either way, I will defintely keep this in mind for the future! If you sign up for your own box, you can get 10% off your first box when you sign up for their mailing list (SECRETSCENT!) and please let me know if you do! Tag me in all your pictures :)

Monday, 17 October 2016

Justin Bieber: Purpose World Tour! / SECRET SHOW STORIES 🎀

I had so much fun at Justin Bieber's concert at The O2, London on Wednesday 12th. It was amazing. It was incredible. It was everything that I dreamed...

Supported by The Knocks, I didn't think they were very good at all. The first support act was on very briefly but was so much better. The Knocks just had no stage presence and their songs weren't very catchy. Being an electronic duo it wasn't my sort of music either. Click here for the video or watch below.
Justin, however, defintely got everyone off their feet and made me dance and sing along! Click here for the video or watch below. 
I wasn't a massive fan of Justin Bieber's music before his last album 'Purpose' was released. For those who have been living under a rock, it's amazing! I didn't hate his music before but it wasn't incredible. 'Baby' was catchy but this last album was filled with hit after hit. Either way, I was defintely glad when he played 'Baby' and literally screamed!

I've actually seen him twice now as I went to Capital's Jingle Bell Ball 2015 and he played there. Click here for the video. Last Christmas was when the album was blowing up and I was thoroughly addicted to the whole album and kept playing it on repeat constantly. Given the fact it has been quite a while since the release, I haven't listened to the album as much so I didn't quite have all the hype I had last year but I was really excited to see what he did with the set up. I was even more intrigued when I saw the timetable for the night because he was going to be on stage for nearly 2 hours with a short interval break in the middle.

I have to say, I'm very impressed with the night as a whole. I was kept thoroughly entertained. I was on my feet, dancing and singing along. I loved the massive variety in stage set up and all the little bonus pieces, plus having not looked into the previous performance on this tour, I found myself constantly being shocked and amazed by new things coming out. 

Firstly, the stage was set up so it had two levels with a pretty steep ramp between the two. This made for incredible dance routines and slick transitions as the team and Justin slid down or ran up them. On the top platform was not one, but two bands with guitars and drum sets. I quite liked the fact their was two because despite the unnecessary extra resources, it made the stage very symmetrical and balanced.

This show was defintely focussed on the dancing more than the singing which honestly I didn't mind. You would have thought people come to concerts to hear the singing but personally, I come for everything else. You can listen to the songs on the CD and that's going to be the best of their vocals on that track. I come for the talking, stage banter, dancing, stage work and the atmosphere. 

The atmosphere was incredible and everyone was on their feet the entire time. Despite my best efforts, my dancing skills were in no way a match to the dancers and Justin. I mean the energy that went into all the crisp moves was inspiring. Everything was so slick and while Justin's lack of live singing, at times not even bothering to bring the microphone to his mouth to pretend to sing, may have been seen as lazy, he still sang parts in almost-perfect vocals; he kept up with all the professional dancers and could have easily been mistaken as one. I have no idea how he remembered all the songs and all the routines and all the dance moves simultaneously. 

For one of the songs, some little children were brought on and seamlessly joined in the dance routine and it was really quite adorable. I had assumed that they were a part of the tour but it appeared they had never met Justin before the night and the spoke in English accents so he must have some children join him each night from the local area. It was actually really sweet that he took the time to welcome and introduce all of them and then they went off the stage with their handler. At the time, I was in shock that they'd just melted into the routine and looked to be a real part of it, in front of a screaming full O2 audience crowd. I'm still very impressed they didn't mess up or get stage-fright. 


Even with all the dancing and party, up-beat songs, I'm really glad he chose to slow down a few of the songs and also showcase his musical talents that I didn't know he had. A sofa came onto the stage - from nowhere - where he played the acoustic song while singing some of the quieter songs and then later, a platform with drums came on and as he played, they slowly raised to the heavens. I was really impressed that he could play both instruments with such a finesse. 


I can't deny the creativity that went into the stage set up. On top of the main area, there were so many little extras that really made the night memorable. One of the most noticeable parts was the massive floating stage that came over the floor audience. In the centre was a bouncing trampoline which the dancers included into their routines so while Justin was singing and dancing with the girls, others were dipping into the audience and back. At one point, Justin lands on his back and is almost lying on the audience; they defintely felt they were being treated, with everyone rushing around and crowding underneath to take photos. 

Even the very start was interesting because they managed to get the recorded screen image and turn it into a reality of Justin in a box. Actually, the song was 'Mark My Words' and Justin wrote the words while rising up and singing. It was backwards for the audience to read but the sparkly pen on the perplex glass box was a sight for sure. 

The lighting team did such a great job too. I know they've been on tour for the vast majority of the year and so have had a lot of practice but everything is just perfectly positioned. I liked the laser beams for some of the songs, the skateboard scene was one of my favourites but I felt it was a little lack-luster and the dome with digital explosions was very clever! But the acrobats were my stand out moment; I was mesmerized! 


Admittedly, the biggest let down of the concert was the talking aspect, or rather lack of it. In the first half he barely spoke to the audience, or even notice us, apart from the say hello London. The second half consisted of a little more talking but it defintely felt rehearsed and forced. I like that he had a little big of audience interaction and asked what people would like to hear, told some funny stories and even asked for topics to discuss. Of course, it was the very cliche ones mainly of love and heartbreak. I think the most cringe worthy part was defintely the religion joke that, quite simply, washed over mine and most of the audiences heads.

"When Jesus comes back, you’re the first to go” to the audience members sat on the very top level. It probably wasn't meant to sound as threatening but it was a bit of a shock when he said it. There was kind of a soft awkward laugh echoing and then silence. He quickly filled in by asking some questions but it made me cringe! Also, he was a little strict with his 'be quiet' comments. He defintely didn't want anyone talking over him. I don't really judge celebrities over what I see in papers and in articles because I don't feel like I know them, but if I was a massive fan of his personality I might have been a little shocked.

Having said that, he did speak a few words of wisdom. I think the most important message was not to conform to Internet. I think there is defintely a social media facade that a lot of people promote but at the end of the day, that isn't real. What's real is what people see everyday and how that aspect is brought into light in interactions. Always remember to be an individual. Be yourself.

Thank you to Justin, his team and the team at The O2 plus Sky Backstage for making my night! Despite the 'you look 14 years old' comment, I had an absolute blast! :)