Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Does your personality coincide with your star sign?

Bet you didn't know that Fifi McGee has a twin bro, eh? You learn something new. I've been persuading him to do a duo blog with me... "Twin style with Shamie McGee", but he's having none of it ;) he's got better things to do than prance around taking photos and writing about himself online. Who would do such a thing?! ;)

Him and I were born March 14th a minute between each other, making us Pisces. Pisces are known to be the most spiritual star sign, and that I back. My intuition is razor sharp and the level of spiritual activity I've played witness to in my life would make even the strongest sceptic believe. I'll save the haunted house stories for another time ;)

There we are as wee kiddies with Dad's old Ford Cortina in Ireland. Classic family shot!

We've always been a pretty compassionate duo, very empathetic and understanding of other people's sensitivity. Another typical Pisces trait. But as a water sign, with a supposed natural love and "at-one-ness" with water, we couldn't be far from Pisces if we tried. The two of us have no idea how to swim, never have, never learned, and whilst snorkling in the Great Barrier Reef sounds like great thing to do, that's definitely the last thing you'll ever see us tick off the list! Our Irish roots, love for hills and fields makes us show more Cancer traits, but nonetheless to some extent the stars alignment when we were born had an impact on our personalities. If it didn't, we wouldn't be so similar, showing the same traits right?

What do you think? Do you show traits of your star sign?

Pandora have a cool Zodiac Wheel that outlines different personality traits for each star sign. Have a read through the app and see whether you're anything like what it outlines. It's spooky how accurate it can be. Take my beautiful sister for example. She's a Virgo through-and-through. Sensible, classic clothes, light fragrances and understated jewellery. 

She also LOVES Pandora (Caroline, look away now if you're reading this!). As her birthday is around the corner, and with her heavy Pandora bracelet jam-packed with charms and memories, she's always been easy to buy for, more so now that Pandora have launched a competition to win one of 5 charms from their new Essence range every month. Now, there's a perfect opportunity to enter for yourself or for a Virgo/Libra loved one.

I'll definitely be entering for my sister, will you?

This post was in collaboration with Pandora. I was under no obligation to write this post, all words my own. As someone who loves the brand, I wanted to share this brilliant opportunity to win some beautiful charms! Good luck everyone!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Our beautiful new kitchen tiles (Before & After photos)

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

If you've just bought a new home (or if you've EVER bought a new home before) you'll know exactly how slow it can be working through that never ending long list of things you need to change and get fixed. Unless you're lucky enough to have bought a stunning new-build, like my fabulous sister! I'm very impatient, and a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my house. I want things done NOW but haven't yet faced facts that dolla don't grow on trees :(

Getting some kitchen tiling done was surprisingly low on our priority list seeing as we have more pressing matters like leaks to fix and a fire place to install! yay! But seeing the walls behind the cooker get repeatedly splashed by bacon grease, I'd had enough. Bring in the tilers, fast.

It's a pretty hot trend on pinterest at the moment to marry white tiles with black grout. There's something all too clinical about white tiles with plain ol' white grout, and as our kitchen has quite a 'country' vibe with an island sink (not pictured) and stable back door, Neil & I knew going down the pinterest route would round up the look perfectly.

We worked with British Ceramic Tile on this look, flicking through their catalogue of really beautiful patterned and colourful tiles. They have every colour you can imagine. It was hard not to be tempted to abandon ship and go down the pattern route with all the fab tiles on offer, but we had a vision and decided to see it through.

We opted for Laura Ashley's new Artisan tile range for their glossy uneven charm. Here's how it looks...

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

It's made the whole kitchen feel much more complete and homely. Not to mention it makes a brilliant backdrop for displaying my cacti and papping my baking posts. What dya think?

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

I've gotta say, choosing tiles is TOUGH work. They really change the appearance of a room, and unless you have an exceptional imagination, it can be really hard imagining exactly how the finished result will look.

I was delighted that British Ceramic Tile were more than happy to post me as many tiles as my fussiness demanded. If you're picking and choosing tiles in the future, make sure you have the tiles right there in front of you and prop them up against the wall. You wouldn't believe how different some looked online both size-wise and colour. I'm overall SO pleased with the look though. Laura Ashley tiles... and in my experience, ALL homeware are fantastic quality, and I can't rate British Ceramic Tile highly enough.

Don't forget to follow me up there in the corner if you liked this post :)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My 24 hour digital detox... on a rowing boat

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Hola amigos. Bit of a different post for me as a few weeks ago I was challenged by Insurance2go to do a whole 24 hours IPHONE AND MAC-LESS! Shock horror.

Yes. The newest campaign on the block is for us bloggers to retreat from all things digital. No facebook, no twitter, no texting, no calls and, wait for it, NO FLAPPY BIRD.

At first I thought it would be easy. I'm not usually glued to my iPhone, the odd text here and there, some flicks through twitter and posting to instagram, certainly not like other people who need their phone right beside their plate of chips in a restaurant, eyes darting when the screen lights up.

Or so I thought...

After trying - and epicly failing - at doing the digital detox whilst camping with the girls (it was hard even when in the wilderness without signal!) I managed about 12 hours and missed people at home so much that I wanted to know everything was ok so caved.

It beat me up pretty bad. I didn't want to be that kinda person, cradling their phone instead of soaking in the camping atmosphere, so I decided to give it another shot and challenged myself in a more 'routine' kinda day.

Neil and I visited Barcombe Mills, a sleepy town in Sussex and the 24 hours went a little bit like this...

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

00:00am Fifi sound asleep dreaming of tartan blankets and blogging

08:00am Up at the crack of dawn I usually reach for my phone before I even say good morning, to check the time, twitter and emails. Instead I spent the morning making up a picnic for Neil & I's plans, doing some cleaning and flicking through some interior mags, making notes on all the period furniture I wanna buy for our new home.

12:00pm Neil & I hit the road for the postcard-picturesque town of Barcombe Mills. There's nothing better than doing a digital detox whilst lapping up the great outdoors. I found that I was much more engaged in conversation, chatting away to bar staff at the Anchor Inn, whereas usually I place an order of drinks and immediately look at my phone to tide over the awkward silences. 

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

13:30pm After a nice hearty brew at the pub, we hired a rowing boat for a 'romantic' row down the river Ouse right beside The Anchor Inn. Sounds a lot more romantic than it actually was. I spent the whole time TERRIFIED of our boat capsizing clutching to my lifejacket, getting stuck in overhanging branches and screaming when dragonflies flew too close with nowhere to run. Still, at least I didn't have my phone with me to worry about if I had to unexpectedly dive into the river ;)

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

15:00pm All this boat action made me forget about my digital detox and after some belly aching laughter climbing out of the rowing boat, we took to the riverbank for a well deserved picnic. It was this point I started missing my phone. The picturesque scenery was just TOO instagram-able. But I stood firm and promised myself I'd share some of Neil's photos on instagram the next day. The world wasn't about to end! Hoorah!

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

17:00pm On the drive home we took a de-tour to adventure around the local village. Not much to see bar some cute pubs we'll definitely be returning to for Sunday lunch, and sure enough, we found ourselves a little lost in the country roads. At this point I was wishing I brought my phone with me for emergency access to satnav. It's amazing how dependent and lost I felt without Google Maps in my life. Neil ended up having to pull in and navigate on his phone given his Chief Map Reader was out of action! Good job too, I'm the world's worst map reader.

20:30pm After some light din dins when we got back, we settled down for the eve. This usually cues me setting up The 4400 (a Netflix finest) on my Mac / Chromecast - but not tonight. No digital means no Netflix :( which is another part of modern technology I'm massively dependent on. Instead we watched Lord of The Rings on Blu Ray. Yep. We actually put a DVD into the playstation. And there was me thinking DVD's were extinct! It felt so good to watch a film in stunning quality besides it collecting dust in the cupboard.

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

23:00pm Similar to my first try at going phone/laptop free, it got to about 11pm and I suddenly got paranoid people have been trying to get in touch with me, that something serious has happened and I'm having a whale of a time none the wiser. This is what made me fail the previous try, so I talked myself round and fell asleep reading a book. 

Come the morning I was a happy lassy again, checking tweets, sharing photos of the day before and replying to emails. The detox was a real eye-opener for me. I thought I could easily go weeks without my mac and iphone, but I feel like my bad sense of direction and addiction to sharing photos on Instagram makes me totally dependent on it. Vive le apple!

How do you think you'd get on? Have you given it a go?

Disclaimer: I was approached by Insurance2go to do this challenge and as a thanks, was given a super cute Nexus 7 so I never have to go technology-less again! I was under no obligation to write or feature this and all thoughts are my own. 

Photos by Neil W. Shaw Photography (psst, he also does weddings!)

Friday, 29 August 2014

How to spruce up your student home with just £20 | Back to Campus

As jealous as I am that all you student folks are on your long summer holidays at the mo, I'm not so jealous about you having to up sticks from your cushy, the-fridge-is-always-full-of-nice-food, family home to student accommodation at the start of the academic year.

I suppose student homes don't have to be bare walls and mouldy curtains, though. With the right high street finds, it's really easy to pimp out your shared space or halls on a budget. HomeSense (possibly my favourite home store on the high street) challenged me to put together ideas for sprucing up a student house with just £20 to spend and here's how I got on.

Jesus, there was a heap load of nice stuff to buy at cheap prices. I thought this was going to be difficult but I ended up having to leave loads of stuff I wanted behind!

Make it cosy with cushions

Cable knit duck feather cushion, £11.00, HomeSense

What do all the enviable bedrooms you see on Pinterest have in common? Yep, they have a stack load of gorgeous mis-matched cushions dotted as far as the eye can see. The single best way to make a room look more homely when you're far from family in your uni days is to stock up on soft cushions. Don't be afraid to layer up pattern and different textures, and go overboard! This one I picked up in HomeSense is packed full of duck feathers and makes a lovely addition to my ever expanding cushion collection. Dunno where I'm gunna find place for them all...

Get sophisticated with candle stick holders

Silver plated candle stick holder, £5, HomeSense Sale

If you're doing an evening soirée and would rather avoid strongbow-fuelled house parties, opt for more sophisticated homely look with cheap candle stick holders. They look great as a centrepiece at dinner or for jazzing up console/bedside tables. This one was just £5 in the HomeSense sale... one of those purchases where you palpitate with joy when you see the price, and dart to the till point.

Be creative with storage

Pastel orange bowl, £3.99, HomeSense

You've probably seen the beautiful Moroccan-inspired pattern bowls trending in interior land at the mo. They're a great addition to your bedside table.  For me, my pet HATE is seeing random bits and pieces all over window sills, shelves or desks. Y'know those things that you obviously don't wanna throw out but they just don't have a home anywhere? Like jewellery, plectrums, coins, matches, lighters... the list is endless. Well fear not OCD friends. Pick up some patterned bowls and cram the lot inside to make a house look spick & span in seconds.

Reckon I did well? Quite a lot of stuff for £20 I think. And if you have a whole house to fill, you could always keep £20 aside every month to go wild and add to your interior collections. It's always a slow process making a house look like a home, especially if you're on a tight budget, but I definitely recommend starting at HomeSense when you're on the market for unique finds.

Disclaimer: HomeSense gave me a gift voucher for this post but I wasn't obliged to write about them nor the topic. All my own creations :)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Camping in Tonbridge

Neil just got a new car, hoorah! This means countless trips out to Sussex villages, country pubs, picnics by rivers and o'course some obligatory drive thrus. Last weekend we took her out for a spin to Forgewood Campsite on the border of Kent/Sussex, pitched up for the weekend and celebrated Neil's birthday around a campfire in the forest.

During our stay we visited Ashdown Forest, the home of Christopher Robin & Winnie-the-Pooh, played Pooh sticks on Pooh Bridge and took a long country walk stopping off for lunch in the nearby town of Hartfield... an absolute hidden gem of Sussex. Never knew we had such quaint rows of cottages and pubs virtually on our doorstep, it reminded me of the Shire :D

The campsite we stayed in sits in acres of idyllic countryside that you're essentially free to roam around. Not sure if most of it is private land or owned by the National Trust, but there are walks all across the vicinity with forests to explore if you're more of an off-roader. We took a pit stop in the evening sun, put down a tartan blanket and enjoyed a bottle of Lindeman's red in a field with not a soul in sight! 

It was such a relaxing weekend, and a really cool way to celebrate Neil's birthday. Next time, we'll definitely be bringing a whole group of pals with us since this was a last min thing, no one could make it. Can't wait to discover more camping spots around Sussex. If you've been to any, let me know!

Thanks to Lindeman's for supplying the Shiraz for our trip, it was absolutely delish! 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Cocktail makin' home-warmin'

It's a little bit crazy that Neil & I have been all moved in to our humble abode for almost 3 months now. The place is slowly but surely feeling more like a home and as comes with every house purchase, we finally started work on some parts of the house in need of TLC.

Before the whole place got a thick coating of dust from plaster works, we decided to throw a casual house warming bash and welcomed a few of my nearest and dearest for a night of cocktails, drinking games and serious levels of 90s tunes.

Not one for throwing 'themed' nights, I decided to make this one a bring-a-bottle soiree where we all lined the living room table with our favourite mixers, spirits, fruits and cocktail paraphernalia galore to cocktail freestyle it. 

My cocktail of choice obviously HAD to involve copious amounts of gin and lime. I'm a sucker for G&T's, they let me have twice the fun with a fraction of the hangover.

World Duty Free & leading mixologist Charlie McCarthy recently collaborated to bring together some exclusive cocktail recipes to do a summer drinks festival in style, and in light of this I was stocked up with  Hendricks Gin - exclusive to world duty free and me, hell yeah. So if you're heading on holiday this year, don't forget to splash out on booze in the duty free on your return journey to party away the holiday blues. 

In a bid to switch up my usual G&T favourite I went for my own take on the Hendrick's Floradora, using double the measure and less of the raspberry syrup.

It went down an absolute treat that's all I remember! Can't wait for round 2 once the plaster's dry and the place is looking less like a building site!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Interior bargains #7: More love for supermarket home buys

Aldi Vintage bed spread £24.99

Another one of Aldi's finest. Last week I featured Aldi's vintage cushion covers (one seen right there on me bed) and this week I've gone even more floral mad with this vintage bed spread from their new collection. Ok it's £25. Some wouldn't really call that a high street 'bargain' - but when you compare this to the price of say Holly Willoughby's scalloped edge bedding (which I ADORE, by the way) it seems like a damn good compromise. Scalloped blankets are beautiful, aren't they?

And I'll have you know this is a sensible buy too! Perfect for all those times you have friends drunkenly fall asleep on your sofa, perfect for rolling up as an added layer when you go camping, and even more perfect for making your room look as feminine as physically poss without your other half complaining. It's one of those 'will never go out of fashion' finds and I've seen similar stuff in the £50 mark, so BARGAIN IT IS!

Now all I need is a little cat to curl up with on it.... 

Happy shopping :)

Disclaimer: I was gifted this duvet spread from the Aldi press team but all opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to write a post about 'em. 

FYI - striped duvet cover is from M&S (Similar to this) Bed frame is from Dunelm Mill a loooong time ago, and everything else is probably picked up from Kemptown Flea Market. 
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