Five interior items that I'm loving right now

It has been a while since I've written a blog post, but so much has been going on in my life. Two weeks ago I started a brand new job working for a remarkable charity and I'm loving every second of it and in between my new full-time job,  house decorating is in full swing. We have brand new doors, the garden has been landscaped and is ready to shape into the garden of our dreams, we have priced up a kitchen and we've selected a colour for our hallway. Today I thought I'd share some items currently on my home wishlist to give you some inspiration if you're planning on doing a bit of decorating or looking for inspiration.

Wooden bath caddy 

When I'm feeling stressed, I love nothing more than taking a magazine into the bath with me, lighting some candles and relaxing in some hot bubbles. Bath time is my 'me time' and it gives me the chance to reflect on everything going on in my life. I've always wanted a wooden bath caddy as I always drop my magazines in the water and I would love something to keep my bathroom space organised. This bath caddy from Dunelm is super affordable, it's extendable and it is crafted from natural bamboo.

Round bamboo mirror

I have been looking at mirrors to fill a space on the wall in our hallway once it is decorated and I've fallen in love with this round bamboo mirror from Maisons du Mode. It is quirky and a little bit different to any other mirrors that I've seen. The mirror has taken its design inspiration from the 1960s and 70s and has a true retro, vintage vibe.

Pendant lamp with plant holder

I'm loving having plants in the house right now. A few weeks ago I went on an IKEA spree and came back with a bonsai tree and some cacti and I'm absolutely having them around the home. It's strange how plants can make us feel so relaxed and in touch with nature. I discovered this pendant lamp with a plant holder whilst browsing the Amara website and I desperately want it in my home.

Neom candles

Neom candles have such a powerful scent and they can really liven up a room. I love how you can go to the store and have your scent tested so that they can match the candle to your current mood. With the nights beginning to get that little bit darker, I'm desperately in need of some new candles to light. I've currently chosen the calm and relax candle because my life is so busy right now (in a good way) and I think this will help me wind down on an evening.

Smeg Dolce & Gabbana Kettle

Last, but definitely not least on my wishlist is the Smeg Dolce & Gabbana kettle.  Ever since I saw this design, I haven't been able to get it out of my head.  The colours are striking, the pattern is beautiful and it's a real statement piece. I very much doubt that my husband would allow me to spend £400 on a kettle right now, but it is definitely staying on my wishlist.

What is on your interiors wishlist?

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Urban Picnic in Leeds with Robinsons Refresh'd

There's nothing I love more than having a picnic in the sunshine with lots of food, drink and the people I care about the most. Picnics are a great way of enjoying the great outdoors, whether you're going on a long hike in the countryside or looking to relax somewhere close to home. When you live in urban surroundings, it can be difficult to find somewhere with a plot of land, but many cities do have wonderful parks like Park Square in Leeds, you just need to hunt them down.

Robinson's recently challenged me to enjoy a picnic in my favourite inner-city park. To help us enjoy our picnic in the sunshine, they kindly sent me a picnic hamper and a few samples of their Refresh'd drinks. This wasn't the first time that I had actually tried their drinks - I've been a fan of them awhile and couldn't wait to try more flavours. I find them incredibly thirst to quench and as someone who likes to monitor their health, I like the fact that they are made from natural spring water and real fruit and have only 55 calories per 500ml - compared to other alternatives on the market that are full of sugar, which I actively try to avoid.

My favourite drink has to be their Raspberry and Apple as it is deliciously fruity, but I also really enjoyed trying out all the rest of the flavours too - Apple and Kiwi and Orange and Passionfruit. I'm always on the lookout for new drinks to enjoy when I'm on the go - especially on the way to work in the morning, so it's great to find a set of drinks that fit into my healthy lifestyle, and they only cost £1.29.

Along with the drinks, I was given this gorgeous blue picnic matt from John Lewis,  a Bluetooth speaker from Tesco (which has the best sound quality I've heard from such a small speaker) and a gorgeous pink rucksack from Swedish company Kanken. I've never been much of a rucksack person, but this rucksack is very feminine, fits lovely on my shoulders without looking bulky and is really comfortable. I can see myself going on lots of countryside walks in the future and taking this with me as it is very lightweight and looks really stylish.

Park Square in Leeds is a five-minute walk from the train station, situated in the financial district of Leeds. It is well kept with lots of beautiful flowers and seating and it is surrounded by Georgian buildings, giving you the sense that you have stepped back in time. The square has seen a wealth of history over the years and was home to brewer Joshua Tetley, the inventor Sir Clifford Allbut who invented the thermometer and renowned surgeon Berkley Moynihan, known for his pioneering surgical techniques.

What I love about Park Square is that it is in the heart of the city centre and attracts so many people from different walks of life and with different interests.  During my visit, I saw students hanging out with friends, people on their lunch breaks and at one point a surge of Pokemon Go fanatics. Despite being in the city centre, the park remains quite tranquil and is a bit of a hidden gem, it's a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, whilst still enjoying the company of the residents of Leeds.

The sunshine in the UK is expected to last until September, so you have plenty of time to assemble your picnic kit and hunt down your favourite places. I know this picnic definitely won't be my last this summer.

*This is a sponsored campaign, but all views and thoughts are my own.

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Five things that they don't tell you about being a homeowner

After a year of saving up for a house deposit, back in April, my husband and I became homeowners for the first time. It has been an exciting few months, planning out every room, turning these four walls into somewhere special that we can call our own. However, there's also so much that we discovered about home ownership that we naively never thought about. Owning a house definitely outweighs all the cons listed below, but for those looking into buying their first property, I thought I would put together a few of my key learnings from the last few months.

There's so much you have to teach yourself

Unless you want to spend a fortune on hiring plumbers, builders and general tradesmen, there's so much that you will have to learn and teach yourself when you buy a home. From picking up a paintbrush for the first time to wiring up lights and flat pack furniture. Don't worry, in time you will learn to distinguish between different pipes, screws and bolts, but in the first instance, it can be overwhelming. It's hard to imagine a life without Pinterest and YouTube tutorials giving us a heads up. 

Building supplies are expensive

Building supplies can be incredibly expensive and soon add up. I was shocked to discover that on average it can cost  £200 just to hire a skip to get rid of all our rubbish and since doing up our garden, we've already needed three of them. Whilst paint and wallpaper for inside the house can be bought at an affordable price, items such as taps can be more expensive than you originally think. Always compare prices to find the best ones to suit your budget and whilst sometimes it can be tempting to cheap out, always think long-term and consider quality or price.

You will begin to find flaws in almost every part of your home

Once you are settled in your home, it is likely that you will begin to find little annoyances, but the best thing about being homeowners is the fact that most of them are rectifiable. The worst thing is that you will become obsessed with D.I.Y and constantly be striving for a perfect home. Every day I'm finding new things that I would like to change.

You will probably experience buyers regret

Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make, therefore it is normal to have some doubts - even after you have moved in. Once the thrill of being a first-time homeowner wears off, you may begin to discover a few bugbears, but it's important to remember that no house is without faults and you fell in love with that house for a reason.

Your house won't be Pinterest ready straight away

When you spend months planning out your dream home on Pinterest, when you eventually do move in, you just want everything done straight away so you can see your vision come to life. However, it's not as simple as it sounds. To make a masterpiece, things do take time and you would be surprised how long even the simplest of activities such as painting a room can take. Unless you're ready to commit several hours a night on top of holding a full-time job, your dream may have to take longer than you anticipated, but at least you know it will be worth the wait.

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What I've learnt from my recent digital detox

If you asked me last year if I could go a week without social media, I would have quivered at the thought. For the last seven years my life has revolved around social media, so much so that I've spent family occasions glued to my phone, missed out on spending time with my friends as I was too concerned about picturing the moment than speaking to them and every evening instead of enjoying precious time with my husband, I would be on my phone from the moment I got home to the time I went to bed.

Social media is a great way of staying connected, but at times it can turn into a bit of an obsession and really affect a person's mental health. I got to the point where I began comparing myself to other people, getting FOMO seeing people I cared about spending time with others and not me and I turned to Instagram filtering my life to make everything look perfect when it wasn't.  This isn't social media bashing - I love social media and it is such a large part of my life and my job, if it wasn't for social media, I would have never built a successful blog.

I never intentionally went on a digital detox, it just happened. One day I just decided to log out of Instagram and put my phone down and hours later, I realised that I didn't feel the need to check my phone anymore. Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks and I began enjoying the pressure-free, digital free life.  I spent the time that I would have been editing photographs or on social media, learning how to cook, going out with my friends and husband and not worrying about curating the perfect Instagram shot, it was liberating.

My mental health improved

One of the biggest improvements I saw since stepping away from social media was that my mental health improved. I felt like I didn't have to be someone I'm not anymore and live up to the Instagram perfect life. I could relax and sleep better on a night without checking my phone at ridiculous o'clock too.

I learnt who my real followers are

Since taking a bit of a blogging break, my engagement across social has dropped tremendously - it is like starting from scratch all over again. I've lost a lot of followers and only get a handful of likes on Instagram now, but the people who are liking my posts are the ones who have stuck around for months or years and supported me through every step I made. I'm happier to have those people in my life, than a dozen fakes.

I'm beginning to love life again

Social media took me to quite a dark place after I experienced some horrible comments from trolls.  It made me doubt myself and I became quite paranoid of the people hiding behind a screen name - do I even know them and if not, what do they have against me? Thankfully time is a healer and my time away has made me realise that the people who made those comments were just jealous of my life and right now I'm in a happier place than I've ever been.

It has made me reevaluate my blog for the better

My break from social has made me reevaluate my blog for the better and take a thorough look at the content I'm creating. It has made me realise that I would rather write about what makes me happy and what could be helpful for other people than write content just for the sake of it.

I can look forward to my life off my screen

The time I spend offline has given me the chance to focus on my life off screen by learning new hobbies and taking a closer look at my career. In the last few months, I've been able to spend more time cooking, I've made some improvements to the house and I've recently accepted a new job.

Have you ever taken a digital detox?
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Five Landmarks on my European Bucketlist

There's nothing more thrilling than walking around old landmarks, discovering the history behind them and trying to picture yourself in the shoes of the people who once walked there. One of the most exciting parts of a holiday for me is sightseeing, learning about the culture and being immersed in a world so much different to my own. Instagram is often filled with exotic snaps from faraway countries, giving the illusion that most of the best landmarks are on the other side of the world, but this isn't always the case. You can travel less than four hours to places like Spain, Bulgaria and Greece and see some pretty amazing sights.

Earlier this year I bought my first ever home and for the last twelve months, I have barely left the country due to saving for a house deposit. Now that one of the biggest financial hurdles is out of the way, I can't wait to get back into travelling and discovering new places. Today I've teamed up with Holiday Gems to give you the low down on some of the best landmarks across Europe and to show you the top five I've picked out for my European bucket list.

Greece -  Parthenon

Greece is somewhere that I've always wanted to visit, but never really had the chance. I love Greek history and the food and my friends all rave about it. I'm hoping that the next 12 months will finally allow me to visit some of the Greek Islands and in particular, visit the Parthenon - a former Greek temple that was built in 447 BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena.

Ibiza - Es Vedra

If you're an avid reader of my blog, you will know how much I love Ibiza and the iconic landmark Es Vedra. I've been to Es Vedra several times, but I love it so much that it will always be somewhere that I want to visit again and again. Es Vedra is a small island off the Ibiza mainland and is host to many myths and legends, according to geologists it is one of the strongest centres of magnetic forces in the world. Whilst you cannot board the island, many boat trips circle it and host swimming sessions around it and it makes for a wonderful day out.

Bulgaria - Rila Monastery

Bulgaria is a newcomer to my European bucket list. I didn't think much about travelling here until I saw that one of my friends had visited and I began Googling it. The country has lots of amazing architecture and the Rila Monastery is just one of the amazing examples. The monastery was founded in the 10th century and is now a World Heritage Site.

Mallorca - Palma Cathedral

I visited Palma when I was quite young and I remember walking by the cathedral, but for some reason, we were quite limited on time and we couldn't spend as much time there as I would have liked. One day I really want to return because it is such a beautiful landmark and Palma is also a wonderful, stylish city.

Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

Barcelona is again one of those places that I've always wanted to visit but never got around to it. So many of my friends and family keep telling me to take a trip there and I'm hoping that I won't let another year escape me without a visit. The Sagrada Familia is a listed World Heritage Site due to it being constructed by world-famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.

For booking holidays to Spain* or just to learn about the different places in Europe, Holiday Gems can give you plenty of travel inspo.

Do you have anywhere booked right now?

*Collaborative post

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