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Where were you this time last year? Day to day life is so busy that I think its often easy to forget just how far you’ve come in a short space of time. Last Easter we had just got the keys to our first home and we were rushed off our feet decorating. When I read that post back it really hit me that our life has seriously moved forward! A year ago our house was simply bricks and walls: in twelve months we have filled it with possessions, endearing memories and made it our loving home.

Throw it back to TWO Easters ago in 2016, I thought my life was never going to start. I was coasting along and yeah I was happy enough in my own way but there was such a huge gap. But that is what I’ve come to embrace about this funny old world because even when something is missing, it only takes one thing to change it all.

I try my best to always remember that, and I like to reflect back on how my life has changed in the last few years and feel thankful for each day that I am able to say my life is happy, healthy and full. So with that in mind I have had a truly lovely Easter this year enjoying our home we have built, eating good food in even better company.

How was your Easter? <3

Eyebrows are a pretty big deal in today’s beauty world and as much as I can appreciate the look and importance of a good brow – they have never been my favourite thing. In fact filling in my brows is probably my least favourite part of my entire beauty routine. As my overall makeup skills have improved over the years (thank goodness!) I’ve grown more confident in what I know I like and what suits me, but I rarely feel 100% with my eyebrows. This could be down to the fact I opt for a more ‘natural’ look or it could just be because I’m not that great at doing them. Either way I decided to try something totally new and a brand I knew took their brow products seriously was of course Benefit.

Brow Zings is one of the most iconic eyebrow products on the market and its always been something I meant to try but never got round to. Benefit recently relaunched Brow Zings along with an entire host of other brow products and so I thought what better time to finally give it a go? Along with the launch were several new shades and according to their website my shade was 2 Light so I went ahead and ordered that.

I have only used this a handful of times so far, but the first thing I noticed straight away was the shade. The shade is not at all right for me, which I’m a bit annoyed about to be honest because if the colour is off the entire thing doesn’t really work. I find the product in particular the wax gives my brows this orange tinge and in general the colour is completely unlike anything I’ve been used to (for reference my go to is Mac Fling for a perfect match.)

Even Oliver noticed immediately something had changed as he commented ‘your eyebrows look different.’ Was this a good or a bad thing? Either way I wasn’t really looking for ‘different’ rather just an improved version of what my eyebrows usually look like, and I definitely wouldn’t say they are yet.

I decided the next time I used the product to completely avoid the wax, and opted instead just for the powder which is pictured on the right. However to my disappointment even the powder alone still manages to create this unnatural orange tint. Meh, it just isn’t right for me one bit and each time I’ve used it I like it less and less.

Generally speaking, I find warm tones best for me being that I have warm blonde hair and yellow undertones to my skin cool toned makeup does not sit well on me. However my eyebrows are an exception to that rule! My natural brows are dark and slightly ashy toned therefore applying Brow Zings in 2 Light which is extremely warm was never going to end well.

The biggest annoyance I have in this scenario is the fact that according to Benefit’s website ‘what’s my shade’ I selected the right option and it doesn’t suit me at all. The lighter option still looks quite orangey and the darker would have probably been too cool toned. My conclusion in this is that Benefit despite their fairly large range of shades, do not in fact have all blonde haired people covered.

On my eyebrows – Brow Zings 2 Light

The new silver packaging is… alright. I’m not mad on it I have to say and although I never owned the original product I think a nice black compact would have been miles smarter. Included in the new compact is a miniature pair of tweezers (unpictured and unused so I have no comment on those) and a small double ended brush that folds out. I happen to quite like using the brush, on one end is a slightly angled edge and on the other a small rounded brush, the angled brush is designed for the wax and the other side is to fill powder in with.  The angled end has quite a lot of movement as sometimes these angled brushes can be a bit stiff and I like the fact its small so you’re not going to make too many errors with it.

Benefit Brow Zings in 2 Light is not the right shade for me despite Benefit’s website saying it was and in no circumstance will I be able to make this product work. Therefore it has been a total waste of money, time and effort on my behalf.

The grass definitely wasn’t greener in this case, and I’ll be going straight back to Mac Fling with a new found appreciation for it.

Last Spring I purchased a Fitbit Alta (review here) because I wanted a slim fitness tracker and watch for my gym workouts. It didn’t take long for me to be somewhat underwhelmed by the Alta as it wasn’t exactly the fitness watch I had expected. My mum decided she wanted a Fitbit just to start tracking her steps so she purchased the Fitbit Alta HR and we did a swap and ever since I’ve been using the Alta HR so I thought I’d do a comparison and review on the products having tested both.

What does the Fitbit Alta HR do?

Fundamentally the Alta HR is virtually exactly the same as the Alta minus the fact it has a heart rate tracker.

  • Tracks your steps. If you wear it from morning to night it will accurately track every single step you make in that day.
  • Displays time /date. Simply move your wrist towards you or tap screen once.
  • Tells you the distance you’ve been in miles/km. Tap twice.
  • Sends you alerts to move. Detects periods of inactivity and vibrates along with a message to get you taking some steps.
  • Smartphone call/message alerts. Sync your phone to the device and your Alta will notify you of new calls messages on the screen.
  • Monitors your sleep. Keep it on at nighttime and supposedly this monitors your sleeping patterns.
  • Detects your heart rate. At the back of the wristband is a small device that displays your heart rate.

A year on I still stand by my original opinion that these devices are glorified pedometers as they really don’t DO that much at all. The wristband is paired up to your smartphone and you download a free app that stores in a lot of the data such as your resting heart rate and so on and so forth, however the actual Fitbit itself does very little really. In my original review I breakdown some of the Pros and Cons so I won’t repeat myself again as they remain the same for the Alta HR.

Do I recommend the Fitbit Alta HR?

So the question is, do I think this thing is any good? And the answer is actually yes I do. I wear my Fitbit almost seven days a week and have been for the last ten months and I love it for the fact it simply gets me moving. Even if I’m having a lazy day if I’m wearing this I usually always end up doing a lot more steps than you would imagine! The number on the screen really encourages me to get up and move, throughout the course of the day I think ‘just do some steps’ and surprisingly it all adds up. Particularly since I have stopped doing such high cardio based workouts instead opting for strength training, I think the consistent low impact walking has really complemented my current fitness routine well.

As I mentioned in the first review of the Alta, if you’re looking for an all singing all dancing fitness tracker this watch certainly isn’t for you. It simply doesn’t do that much, but what it does for me happens to work. If you are looking for a fitness tracker to help you on a daily basis to keep active this could be what you are after. However I think they would be even better if they were slightly less expensive – the money doesn’t exactly justify what the product does.

Have you tried the Fitbit Alta HR? Do you wear a fitness tracker? 

Pugs are pretty high profile little dogs now days. Its not uncommon to spot these short, four legged canines being walked out and about on the streets and merchandise with these wrinkly faces on is rife in all kinds of different shops. Small, undeniably cute and full of character: its very easy to see how pugs have rose to popularity in the last few years. Back when we got our Polly in 2012 this wasn’t the case at all, this really goes to show the scale in which pugs have suddenly become one of the ‘it’ dogs, which is all very well if you are 100% committed and educated for the good and the bad with these pickles! And this post is going to be exactly that, so whether you are thinking about getting a pug, already have a pug or maybe just interested to learn about this breed then continue reading…

The Good.

Pugs are loyal and extremely affectionate.

The bottom line is pugs are highly sociable creatures that strive off both human and pedigree interaction. These guys are going to be your new best friend, they make incredible companions to any family or household. Once you have a pug you have a little extra shadow following you around. Pugs just like being with people, they like being involved, they like a fuss and they like attention. They are very cuddly and enjoy lap-time snuggling.

Small dog, BIG character.

Unless you like a large dog, pugs are the perfect size. Personally I would only ever have a small dog for many reasons: I can walk them with control, I can pick them up and dry their feet (yeah I love my pugs but I also like my home too –> more on this below) they aren’t so enormous they can eat food off the kitchen counter or just generally cause havoc like I imagine some large dogs can do. However don’t mistake pugs for a little dog, because their personalities are huge. Honestly, pugs are like people they are so quirky and unique – their characters will steal your heart and fill your life with endearment.

Pugs are intelligent creatures.

Pugs sometimes get a bit of bad press for being stupid and they are far from stupid. Yeah pugs can do some silly things but on the whole they are very smart. So smart in fact this can be a good and a bad thing about them because on the one hand they are trainable but on the flip side if you have a tendency to be soft they could pick up some not so good habits. Consequently they do require stimulation of some kind: a garden to run off steam in, toys to play with or some kind of reward based training from time to time to keep their brain ticking.

They make adequate household members.

Generally speaking pugs make pretty decent household members. As I said above they are trainable so if you are committed you can set the rules out. Obviously there are going to be some exceptions occasionally but start as you mean to go on and you should be pretty safe in keeping your home in order. Due to their size pugs aren’t at any risk or ruining your furniture, they are also in my experience not at all destructive dogs ie they don’t chew or destroy your house! As I touched upon above, because of their size you can easily access muddy or dirty paws and get them cleaned quickly so its not all over the carpet or furniture. Apart from the shedding these things do make pugs pretty adequate and respectable household members.

They don’t require huge amounts of exercise.

Pugs are happy with one short (20-30 min) walk a day. Pugs would also happy with two short walks a day. If its absolutely pissing down with rain, pugs would be very happy to not have a short walk a day, in fact my pugs would be extremely unhappy if I took them on a small walk in the rain! They kind of fall in to whatever is on offer. If you took them on a short walk, great that’s perfectly fine! Feel like a nice long walk? Also great!! But at the same time they aren’t desperate to get out for miles each day.

The Bad.

Pugs can be very stubborn.

Oh boy, believe me this is not an understatement. Pugs will test your patience from time to time. They are very relentless over certain things and they don’t forget a bad habit! If you are busy trying to do something and they decide they want attention a pug will do everything in its power to get whatever it wants. Example: shutting a door because there is something behind that door where flat little noses perhaps don’t belong… they will want to get behind that door and see exactly whats there. And they will push your limits to get there at ALL costs unless you physically bring them away or tell them no. Example two: they want to be let outside… two mins later they want to be let back in. Repeat this cycle a few times over! It can be irritating if you aren’t in the most patient moods. Although in their defense I find this often tends to be worse in the hour leading up to dinner time where they are most stubborn and naughty.

Eye problems are common.

Those big, beautiful eyes unfortunately come with a whole host of problems. Sadly its not unheard of for pugs to experience some kind of issue with their eyes during their lifetime – predominantly ulcers. Its heartbreaking to witness. Plus it ultimately requires extra care and attention on the owners behalf: often eye problems result in frequent vet visits, regular treatment of medication and sometimes even surgery. Just to add insult to injury, literally in this case, consequently there are some hefty vet bills at the end of the day too!

Pugs shed hairs.

Uh oh. These lovely soft coats do come with only one problem – all the hairs they leave behind. You know where a pug has been because there is usually a fine trail of hairs! Black jeans are a no-no near a pug. And generally anything too dark will just attract attention to the hairs. However in my experience our black pug Peggy has a MUCH thinner coat than our fawn pug Polly, there is hardly any sign of Peggy’s black hairs! Not sure if this is true for all black pugs but its worth checking out if you are dead against a dog that sheds. Truthfully unless you are very house proud its nothing a hoover round every other day wouldn’t keep at bay especially if you have light floors or furniture the hairs will hardly notice.

They have greedy tendencies.

Pugs just love food. All food. Even food they aren’t allowed they will want. If there is food about chances are there will be a pug within ten centimeters of it. So its very easy for them to be overfed and therefore get overweight which leads to more health complications due to their flat noses. People say its a vets favourite thing to call a pug overweight – mostly because pugs are greedy and will eat whatever is feed to them. Keep their diet under control, it may seem mean but its actually the kindest thing you can do.  A healthy weight to aim for is around the 6kg mark- their ribs should be faintly detectable under their coat and they should fit comfortably in a medium sized harness.

Sometimes they stink…

I wanted to be brutally honest with this post and so I had to include this because for me its honestly one of their worst qualities. However without going in to too much gory detail, pugs do every now and then release bad smells from their anal glands. Do your own research because I’m finishing right there!

So there you have it – a brutally honest run down of all the good things and maybe the not so good things about pugs. For me the good qualities always win over the their ‘bad’ qualities although I think it is important to acknowledge all these traits especially if they can be educational for other people.

Would you ever consider getting a pug? Or do you have a pug already? If so, did you nod your head to some of these qualities I listed above?

With our wedding round the corner in less than six months I naturally have a million and one thoughts darting round my head about our big day. The majority of them I expect are all pretty natural pre wedding jitters but I thought it would make for an interesting read especially when looking back on these once we’re married and hopefully wondering what all the fuss was about. And when I say pre wedding jitters I don’t mean apprehension about committing to marriage because in both our eyes we’re basically married anyway… its mostly the pressures of the day itself that I personally have the most concerns on!

We can’t control everything.

As much as we can plan, arrange and bloody well work our butts off for the day to run as smoothly as possible I have to learn to accept some things we can’t control. This isn’t as easy as it sounds for me because I do tend to like being in charge of getting things in order. Predominantly the weather is my single most worrying issue. Being that ours is an outdoor wedding venue it puts an extreme amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the weather God’s to perform to their best ability. But lets not be naive, this is England I’m talking about here so my expectations aren’t exactly high, I can only spend the next six months with my fingers crossed for a decent day.

Will it really be ‘the best day of our lives?’

Its supposed to be the biggest and best day of our life. That in itself puts immense amount of pressure on my shoulders. However I can’t help but worry that its often the over hyped things that sometimes end up being underwhelming. And for that reason I almost feel scared to over hype it! I’d rather play it down and then be exceptionally overwhelmed by the day. Obviously I’m doing everything in my power to try and ensure that it will be a truly wonderful day however I’d like to think we will live a long life together – so will this be the best day of our lives? Who’s to say that this one day really will be the best one?  Has something gone wrong or have we failed if we don’t think its the best day of our life? Right now I feel pressured by the fact it needs to somehow live up to this expectation. Maybe its just my thought process over thinking the situation and when the time comes it will just naturally be the best day of our lives…

What will it be like having all our families in one place?

Our wedding is going to bring such a mixture of people into the same place that right now its really hard to imagine what it will be like. Oliver and I have had this conversation a few times now as we have both tried and failed to picture what it will feel like to have all our family and friends in one place. Its nice in a way that a wedding is the rare opportunity to have a moment like this and we’ve both said it will be quite an experience: lots of our relatives meeting for the first time, family members travelling from across the world to be here for our wedding day and people seeing each other again after many years.

Saying goodbye to my surname is going to be bitter sweet.

I’ve been Grace Blossom Tree for almost twenty-six years now. I’ve come to love my quirky little name in that time. Its certainly been a conversation starter over the years whenever I’ve had to disclose my full name! And as much as it is completely my choice to take Oliver’s surname when we are married, I think I am going to find it a little sad to let go of my maiden name. However the thought of having a new name soon makes me feel giddy with excitement so I’m sure I’ll get over it.

Wondering what comes next…

Aside from the obvious step forward possibly in the next few years, what comes after the wedding? Our relationship has grown quickly from strength to strength, we’ve gone through so much in a seemingly fairly short space of time that I wonder what it will be like to not look forward to the ‘next big thing’ or so to speak. But then again, I’m very much my mother’s daughter, with a forward thinking mind so I’m not afraid things are going to ever be dull in our life together!

What are/were your pre wedding thoughts?