Valentines Day With Love Layla

Valentines Day, let's be honest as a single person sucks, beyond belief. It is a day (and even more for the run-up to it) of being reminded your single, seeing everyone around you getting engaged, being all loved up and getting presents. I've been there. I am also happy to say this year seems like it'll be the first year I am with someone I truly care about. I am one of those people who want to buy all of the loved-up shit for their partner, I can say I think I've changed. Two years ago the idea of Valentine's day made me want to chuck up (a lot), I thought my friends were soppy gits, but it turns out I now feel that way too. To a certain extent. I as a person wouldn't be me without a bit of humour in the mix. Which is where Love Layla comes in. Love Layla is a family run business who specialise in cards (specifically) the rude and offensive kind. They make cards based on what people think rather than what they actually say. Like, saying I love you and you're my world on a card, is great and all but, a card with a true story behind it like "everyday I fall more in love with you... except yesterday you were a twat", it makes me laugh and it is so much more memorable don't you think?  

The range of Valentines Day cards they have on site is HUGE, there are so many different choices, it is super difficult to decide on just one. The cards range from the slightly more PG ones like "I wouldn't want to watch a box set with anyone else" to a variety of other stuff (not for the faint-hearted, I warned you first) if you wanna check out these amazing cards, you can check out the Valentines Day range here. All of the card designs are unique, and you won't find one like it on the high street. Everything from the way the cards are made, to the little graphics on each of them, you can tell a lot of thought goes into them. Love Layla started as a husband and wife duo at home in their office, and it was named after their daughter. These cards and other products (gotta remember those balloons and badges too) are fun, new and exciting. If you're up for a laugh and so is your other half, I'd recommend checking out Love Layla. P.s. You only have 14 days til the 'big day' so you better get buying them (quickly!) 

Which is your favourite card? 

*In collaboration with Love Layla, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I mean common, these cards rock! 

*Collaborative post

Stationery haul with Mustard!

T-rex lunchbox
Mustard Stationery
Rainbow sticky notes

Stationery is one of my loves in life, and my collection is forever growing (and I doubt it will ever stop) I have more notebooks in my house than I could probably fill in a lifetime, just about every coloured pen going and don't even get me started on cute erasers and sticky notes. Recently I was contacted by the PR team at Mustard who offered to send me a bundle of their goodies and when it arrived the next day I was so impressed with what was in the package. Mustard for those of you who haven't heard of them is a brand who sell cool stationery and gifts, and they're a little bit different to the *normal* which made them even more appealing to me. They have some great collections on site including t-rexmarblelucky cat and rainbows and unicorns. As well as having some amazing gift items such as lights, coffee cups and even clocks. 

When I opened the package I was drawn to the t-rex lunch box immediately, the colours are amazing and I am forever buying new lunch boxes for work, it clips together and is sturdy which is always something I am always on the lookout for after *that* incident when my bag suffered the full force of my garlic pasta, from experience it is impossible to get the smell out of. The lunchbox has two compartments, a large one and a smaller one. I'd be likely to put the pasta in the big compartment and some snacks in the other one. The lunch box is airtight so perfect for crisps/crackers (another thing I hard to learn the hard way, I would not recommend crackers that have been exposed to air. Plus there is no chance of your lunch getting confused with anyone else's. 

Next thing I noticed was the amazingly bright bottle from Froot infusing bottle, I am a huge fan of lemon and lime water or even cucumber, it gives a refreshing and fun hit to normal water. The bottle itself is 800ml which is a pretty decent size and again like the lunch box feels sturdy, leakages are also something you do not want in your bag. It's simple to use, by popping the fruit in the tube attached to the top compartment then pour water over it, enabling you to have flavoured water on demand. The only downside to the bottle is it is a little heavy, and quite bulky so you would need a fairly big bag to put it in.

The rainbow sticky notes were the next thing I found in the package, I am one for hoarding sticky notes all over my desk at work, along with a range of bath and body works hand sanitises. The cool thing about these sticky notes is that they stand up on their own. There are a variety of different sized sticky notes. Great for adding a pop of colour to your workspace. 

Marble stationery
Marble stationery

Marble has been a huge trend in the last couple of years and it doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. Mustard has an amazing Marble collection, containing everything from sticky notes to lunch boxes and coffee cups. I was sent another lot of sticky notes, however this time in the form of a giant block of sticky notes (650 to be precise), great for us bloggers who love to quickly jot ideas down. I don't know about anyone but I love to stick them everywhere to fill with post inspiration and ideas. I was also sent some lush mini notebooks with Marble covers, which a great for carrying around on the go to jot things down. Overall I think Mustard is a fabulous place to locate 'unique' stationery and great gifts.  

What was your favourite piece of this Haul? 

Prices of products featured-
T-rex lunch box £10 
Marble memo block £8.00
Marble sticky notes £6.00
Rainbow sticky notes £6.00
Froot infusing bottle £15.00
Marble Notebooks £6.00

*Contains PR samples 

9 Hacks for surviving student life AD

Student life; some of the best and worst times of your life, amirite? Like, on one hand, you get to live with your friends, party a lot and for most of us, we get to explore a new place. On the other hand, we have to manage money, make those friends, do a ton of uni work and learn your way around a new place. There are so many things I wish I had learned before going to university, like how to make a bed. My time at university was mostly spent Googling a variety of things I didn't know the answer to like making a bed or finding out how long you cook something for. Google is your best friend whilst at university, you get your references from there, do research on it and even find out where the closest takeaway is. For this post I decided to include 8 of the best hacks/life tips I learnt whilst at university and some of them are pretty damn useful and others not so much, but I thought they were useful and some of them I still do. I'd love to know in the comments what life skills and hacks you picked up from university! 

1. You can use a mug for basically everything.
Ok, so not everything, but a lot of stuff. A mug is an underrated tool in the kitchen, in my opinion, you can use it to make drinks in obviously but you can also use it for making cakes, scrambled eggs and of course as a bowl to drink soup out of. 

2. The microwave is your best friend. 
The microwave like a mug can be used for so much stuff, you can use it to make ready meals, make just about everything in the food cupboard and even heat up pizza, the morning after the night before. A great hack with pizza is if you put a small cup of cold water alongside your pizza and it stops the crusts going chewy, let's be honest. Nobody wants this. 

3. Make lectures easy with Trint
When you're in a lecture at 9am, barely able to keep your eyes open the last thing you want to do is write notes. This where Trint comes in, you record your lecture on your phone and then it will transcribe it for you on to your laptop at a later date. This is great for being able to hear back your lecture and for being able to read back through everything and taking parts to look into further detail. 

4. The wooden spoon hack. 
When cooking pasta it's a pain when you have to stand around and watch it, to make sure that it doesn't boil over. When in university one of my friends taught me the wooden spoon hack and still to this day I do not have a clue how it works but it just does. You put a wooden spoon across your pan and the water will not boil over. Magic right

5. Keeping the fridge clean. 
Cleaning the fridge is a grim job, especially when it's full of gone off and when stuff has leaked everywhere, ew. An easy hack I found online is to cover your fridge in clingfilm, looks a little odd, however when it comes to cleaning it, it's somewhat easier, you just peel it off and put it in the bin.

6. PayPal is a life saver. 
When you're out with your friends and one of you gets a round in and you need to pay each other back, it's just an annoyance to carry cash and who even does bank transfers anymore? PayPal is the easy way to send money to each other in a few seconds, would totally recommend it for bills too. That way you can easily keep track of who has paid and who hasn't and what's left to pay. 

7. Clean your keyboard with a post-it note. 
This hack has changed my life, cleaning your keyboard properly is a pretty momentous task as it involves taking all of the keys off your keyboard, cleaning it out and then putting them all back on. With this hack, you can get the crumbs and dust out with a post-it note. All you need to do is slide it within the keys and the sticky side should catch the dust and crumbs.

8. Keep track of your spending. 
There are so many apps these days to help you with your spending. When your student loan 'drops' you live well for the first week and then have to survive on 20p noodles for the rest of term (we've all been there) however if you have a money managing buddy, advising you of what your money looks like as well as what you've spent it on, it may make you think twice. 

9. You NEED Cards against humanity.
Honestly, this game is a life changer, it's known as the party game for horrible people. However it sure does get the conversation flowing, makes people laugh and feel a little bit more at ease and you can never really get bored of playing and as it's like a whole new game each time you play with different people. With loads of expansion packs too, there is always plenty more to add to the game. 

What is your top life hack? 

*This post was written in collaboration with Trint, however, all thoughts and experiences (sadly) are my own. 

Date night with Ristorante AD

As much as I like going out to restaurants for 'date night', nothing quite beats a quiet night in with a pizza, finding something to watch on Netflix (I have some great recommendations, btw) and chilling in bed in your comfiest pj's. I am a huge fan of ordering takeout pizza, I am pretty sure my local pizza place is now on first name terms with me and know my order off by heart. However looking at my finances and my obsession with pizza growing, even more, it was time to find a cheaper alternative. Sometimes though, those takeaway pizzas from the back section of your local supermarket don't quite cut it. In recent years there has been a huge demand for supermarket pizzas that taste like the real deal.

This where Ristorante come into this, if you don't know who Ristorante is, then where have you been? Ristorante is one of the only frozen pizza companies who have a mushroom only pizza (my fave!!) as well as offering gluten-free pizzas and a variety of other classic pizzas like pepperoni, four cheese and cheese and tomato. Recently Ristorante has brought out a limited edition pizza called the Bianca Deliciosa. A pizza topped with a creamy white sauce topped with onion and bacon, essentially it is a carbonara on a pizza. Smells like one too. I am a huge fan of the number of pizzas in recent years having a creamy white sauce base as opposed to a tomato one, it mixes things up for sure.

So for our date night this week, we headed to our local Asda and picked up two pizzas to try, both pizzas cost us a fiver, so pretty good going. We also stocked up on a variety of sweet treats and drinks (because a date night wouldn't be complete without treats!) and headed home, dependant on the oven you have, the pizzas take around 11 minutes to cook to perfection. What I noticed about these pizzas as opposed to some other frozen ones is that they didn't fall into a sloppy mess when trying to take them out of the oven. They were easy to cut up and we tucked in. The Bianca Deliciosa tasted and smelt just like a carbonara on a pizza, the smell of the bacon took over the house and took me back to being 10 years old and my mum cooking carbonara for tea. The base was thin and crispy and wasn't too heavy on the stomach. The ease of the pizzas doesn't mean you need to sacrifice any of the quality and they're also super purse friendly. The pizzas seem like a great idea to get in for when you are having friends over or to have a chill night with your other half.

Which pizza from their range would you most like to try? 

*No pizzas were harmed in the making of this post, this post was in collaboration with Ristorante, however, all thoughts are my own. 

24 hours (ish) in Manchester.

Manchester, my old friend I have missed you. It's been several years I've visited Manchester despite living less than an hour away. It's been more of an anxious thing why I've stayed away for so long, cities seem to have become a thing of the past, however now I am going to make them a part of my future. Hence the 24 hours in Manchester post you are about to read, although it wasn't exactly 24 hours more like 27, it just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? So Wills present to me this year was an overnight stay in Manchester along with some shopping (present goals right there!) So we spent a little while searching the web for 'quirky' hotels in Manchester near the centre and we came across Ibis Styles which was smack bang in the middle of the centre, perfect. Ibis Styles caught my attention straight away with the weather theme, in lounge sits a large deckchair and a huge pair of sunglasses oh and also multiple umbrellas on the ceiling. We were sold. So we booked our tickets and 6 days later, we were on our way. 

Our check-in wasn't until 2 pm and we arrived just after 12 so we decided to go seek out some lunch, me being me I was certain I knew the way to where I wanted to go, but ended up in the wrong direction, oops. After about an hour of walking, we settled down to eat some lush pizzas in a place called Insolito, which were huge and a margarita was only £7.50, so with some drinks lunch came to under £20, and we were stuffed for hours. The manager was so lovely and it was super quick service, and I can imagine on an evening the atmosphere would be buzzing. After our pizzas, we popped into a few little stores on the way to check in, including a couple of vintage stores one with a sale of 1kg of clothes for £15, bargain! I also ended up in one of my favourite shops Cyberdog, their shops are always an experience, although photos are not allowed in their stores, else this post would be full of their photos. After this, it was finally 2 pm and ready to check in. I was excited to see what the hotel had in store for us. 

We were greeted by a lovely friendly receptionist, who asked us which floor we'd want to stay on which was pretty cool, I decided to go for one of the middle ones, so we would still have a view. We popped in the rain themed lift and made it to our room, the room is spacious, has a super large shower and the bed was so comfy. The cute pieces of decor around the room really topped it off. The cloud-shaped table was my favourite! We dropped off our bags and went out to explore more. At around 6pm we met my friend Greg who made the move to Manchester for university and never left (don't blame him!) and he became our tour guide for the rest of the night. We went to a Mexican tapas place called Wahaca which had some lovely decor and great service, although some of the food blew my head off *I am awful with spicy food*, it was a great atmosphere and you can pay your bill via an app which made it super easy to leave after we'd finished. 

A few people recommended visiting a secret bar called The Washhouse, which from the outside looks like an old styled launderette, you arrived and used the phone advising of your reservation (as you have to book in advance) but behind a large washing machine door, there was a completely different story. A candlelit room, with around 10 tables and a huge bar, we were greeted by one of the owners who sat us down, and ran through the menu with us and left us to ponder our choices. All of the cocktails are unique to The Washhouse which made it feel that bit more exclusive. Greg and Will picked their choices, however I was a little more clueless, I was asked my preferences on alcohol to try to determine my ideal cocktail, in the end I went for 'life's a beach' and we were told little stories on each of the cocktails, they were all created from personal parts of their lives which added to the experience. The cocktails came out and described to us in detail about what each part of the cocktail was, mine included 'sand' made out of gingerbread which was amazing and Greg got his marshmallows toasted in front of him. I'd totally recommend visiting this place as it's quirky, fun and they have some pretty damn good drinks. 

 The final stop of the night was to a bar, which was recommended to us by Greg, called Hold Fast located in the Northern Quarter. The bar was fairly busy for a Thursday night, they have a huge range of cocktails as well as plenty of other choices. I went for a raspberry vodka and Pepsi which is one of my faves and we headed to a table. Our table was situated next to a large variety of board games, which I thought was pretty cool. We ended up playing 5 rounds of Guess Who and Greg beat me on all of them, I guess I am easy to read? Then we played some Jenga, the bar also has a DJ and games consoles. We had a super fun time at Hold Fast and it's a great way to spend an evening. Overall I had a fabulous time in Manchester and definitely want to go back soon and explore. 

What are your favourite things to do in Manchester?  

4 ways to help you feel better! AD

January is one of the worst months of the year, am I right? Despite it being my birthday month I still despise it. Pretty much everyone is broke, the weather sucks and the Christmas blues have well and truly set in. January feels like such an isolated month as there isn't much to look forward to for a while. However, fear not. I am here today with a post of 4 ways to feel better (or at least somewhat) during these times. Let me know in the comments what helps you through January. 

I am one of the worst people in existence for getting sick, it always seems to happen to me, at the worst of times of course. I recently decided to invest in a rather large amount of vitamins, including vitamin c and iron. With the help of an expert at Natures Best, I've been able to find out what vitamins you do need for your body to function at it's best.

Natures Best says:
"Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin. This is because we need to expose our skin to sunlight in order for our body to manufacture it. Having a good level of Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth, as we need it to absorb calcium and phosphorus from our foods and also helps to support our immune system. This is particularly important as we age. We do get around 10% of our Vitamin D from food and sources include eggs, butter, milk, cheese, meat and fish." For someone like myself who is a huge fan of staying indoors and I don't have the best diet, this is something I really need to take this into consideration.

Natures Best recommend Vitamin C also-

"We all know that vitamin C is important for our immune system function but did you know it’s also needed for collagen formation and to support healthy bones. When we think of getting our vitamin C from the food we often think of the citrus fruits. It’s important to note that it is also found in vegetables such as red and green peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus and dark leafy greens. Cooking does destroy some of the vitamin C content, so a great way to increase our intake is through smoothies that are easy to swallow and absorb. Making a smoothie a day for either breakfast or a snack is a nice easy way to increase our nutrient intake. Vitamin C can also be purchased in supplement form, and the powdered version could be added to smoothies for an extra antioxidant boost."

Read your favourite books:

I am not the biggest reader in the world, however, when it comes to novelty books I have a rather large stash, with everything from Mr Greedy Eats Clean To Get Lean to The Gummy Bear book. I have a massive stash and not only do they look good, they're an amazing pick me up and can be read just about anywhere. Firebox and Urban Outfitters are my favourite places to pick up unique books. 

Treat yourself (I mean what else are sales for?)
I am a firm believer in the sales and some of the bargains you can pick up, Accessorise always has one of the best sales for jewellery and I would highly recommend checking out the Paperchase sale as again it always has some great bargains. The sales are a little raked over now, some stores still have some awesome buys still to be had, as well as reducing them further. I am always one who checks out the sales and this year I even browsed the sales in store, including Next! 

Don't be too hard on yourself:
This is a huge one in my book, the new year always equals a new me for most people. Whether that is a new diet, losing weight, or even just working out more. It's great to have goals, something to work towards but there is nothing worse than getting set on these goals and then if these don't go to plan, it often leaves us feeling bummed out and worse than where we started. This year I decided to take a new approach to the new year new me situation. I gave myself a smaller list of goals that I wanted to achieve with no time frame on them, less pressure always makes it easier to achieve in my opinion. Whatever you want to achieve this year, I'm sure you've got this. 

What are your ways to feel better? 

*Collaborative post

Happy Birthday to me: 23 things I've learnt so far.

Today marks the day of my 23rd birthday and I cannot quite believe it, the year of being 22 has flown by, and I can't really say that's a bad thing as that year sucked, a lot. However, some good things did come out of it, like previous years and it's a damn good feeling to come out the other side. If you follow my blog, you'll know I like to reflect a lot on my life and my blog is usually the place I come to do it. I spent ages trying to think of the correct title for this post, as I wanted to share things I am proud of, as well as things I've learnt whilst being on this planet for 22 years. As this is my birthday post I decided to make it a little different although a haul will soon follow (true blogger style) for now here is 23 things I've learnt so far and a few photos of me from when I was younger. 

1. Growing up isn't as good as it seems:
When you're a teenager and getting told what do by your parents, all you want to do is grow up and be in control of your life, what I'd give for now to have all of my bills and food paid for, as well as all of that free time. Homework is a doddle compared to university work and going to work full time. 

2. Teenage years were hard, man. 
I swear as a teenager, nothing was ever simple. If it wasn't a boy breaking your heart, it was learning who you were, dealing with growing up, losing friends, coping with your sexuality, talking to people on the internet who you couldn't ever meet. Damn. 

3. Papa Johns has the best pizza I've ever tasted. 

4. I got two bunnies in 2017, and they're amazing. I love watching them grow and their amazing personalities shine. 

5. It's important to love (or at least like) your job. 
A lot of us spend more time at work than we do at home, so it's pretty key to love/like what you do. For me, I have a little work family and they're all super supportive. I have never felt more like I fit in, and the work is pretty enjoyable too. 

6. It's ok not to wear makeup every day:
From the age of 15 until 22, I would not go out the house without some kind of makeup on, whether that be eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, foundation or all of the above. I couldn't cope with how I felt and looked. I would love to say I'm ok with how I look without as I'm not really, however it's ok to give yourself a break. 

7. I passed my driving test. (FINALLY!) 
This has been my goal since I turned 18, I have given up learning a bunch of times and have been put off tests for life, however, I managed to stay strong and get through my driving test. Despite it being damn scary.

8. I made a blog and fell in love with it. 
Since 2014 I've been writing this blog, that me and my friend tried to think of punny names for back in college, the name has always felt like me. It's fun and colourful, yet I can feature my mental health posts, I am forever worried about oversharing, but you guys, my readers seem to be ok with that. 

9. People can be the worst, but they can also be the best. 

10. Online dating CAN work. Weirdly, I've met some of the best and the worst people in my life on dating sites. However, some of the bad ones have turned into me meeting other people who I consider now to be friends. I also found Will on a dating site and he makes me happier than anyone else ever has. 

11.Skincare is important. 

12.Taking photos from below instead of above will never give you a good angle.

13. It's okay that your style hasn't really changed since your 'emo' days. 
I was forever being called an emo as a teenager, and looking back on it I did fit the stereotype, I never really grew out of it. Black is still my favourite colour to wear, dark hair and dr martens, but I love my style.

14. Changing your name is a pretty big thing to do, however I did it and it's made me so much happier, for those of you who don't know, I changed my first and middle name and you can read more about this here.

15. Mean girls is one of the best films, period. 

16. Your parents can be, right? As a teenager, like most, I would not believe a thing my parents told me about growing up, however it turns out they were mostly right.

17. Nandos do great vegetarian food. True story. 

18. It's okay to drop those who treat you any less than you deserve to be treated. Whether that be a friend, family member or partner, you deserve the world and if someone isn't willing to give you that. Drop em. 

19.You can never have enough pyjamas. 

20. You can have friends everywhere, some of my best friends are online and I couldn't imagine having them in my life, they mean so much to me. 

21. We all make mistakes. We are human. It's ok. 

22. Even after being classed as an adult for the last 5 years I still feel like I am 16 years old and pretty clueless about the world.

23. Friends has been around for my entire life and it's still as good as the first time I watched it. 

Thanks for reading my post and for being a part of my Dungarees & Donuts journey so far!