2015 Highlights

Thursday, 31 December 2015
It's unbelievable how quickly this year has flown by! It only seems like two minutes ago since I was sipping a glass of rose on my mum's sofa, seeing in 2015.

When I first started planning this post, I thought I might struggle to find highlights of the year that I wanted to share. Not because it's been a terrible year, just because it wasn't an overwhelmingly amazing one. But as I started looking through photos from January up until now, I found I was spoilt for choice! Some pretty amazing things have happened in 2015, and it's posts like this that remind me of how lucky I am.

My 21st birthday
I didn't have all that much planned for my birthday this year, but it turned out to be one of the vest ever. I had pre-birthday drinks with my uni friends (which turned into pre-birthday Sambuca shots... somehow), and then spent my actual birthday with Luke and my family. It snowed like crazy on my birthday, but he still took me out for lunch and a couple of glasses of wine, just the two of us. I then had a yummy Chinese for dinner with my family, and they made me an incredible Frozen birthday cake!

Valentine's Day
My first Valentine's Day with Luke! We spent an evening doing what we do best, stuffing our faces with food and drinking cocktails! Now that work/uni is so crazy for both of us, time together can be quite rare, so lovely evenings like Valentine's Day are now extra special.

Ross' birthday night out
This was probably the night which started my friendship with all of my work colleagues. A huge group of us went on a night out with Sheffield for Ross' birthday, and we had such a fun night, featuring a few too many tequila shots, lots of dancing and somehow stumbling out of a taxi at 6am! I guess to me, this is when some of my closest friends were cemented, and that's why this is such a special night for me.

On the 9th May this year, little Eloise Grace was born, my god sister. (Before anyone says a god sister isn't a thing, she's my godmother's little girl, so yes, it is a thing.) A god sister is one of the best jobs you can have because it's basically like a cool auntie and sister rolled into one! I can honestly say I haven't adored a little one so much since my sister was born. She's now seven months old, and one of the most beautiful, clever little girls you could ever meet, and full of personality! We've had so many amazing memories so far and I've loved watching her grow up.

My friend Mollie first dragged me to salsa at the end of July, and I couldn't have been more dubious. The thought of dancing, and potentially falling over in front of strangers put my stomach in knots. But, I quickly fell in love with it! I've seen myself improve, grown in confidence, and made some new friends, plus it gives me some real quality time with Mollie. I can't wait to see how much better I can get next year!

York is one of my favourite cities in the whole world. I love how it is steeped in history, and full of beautiful architecture and cute little shops. I spent a day there over the summer with Mollie and her friend Britni, who was visiting from America, and we had the best girly day, drinking coffee in cute tea rooms and going around on an open-top bus seeing the sights!

After a stressful semester at uni, a family holiday was just what I needed. My family and I travelled down to Devon for a week, which has been our favourite holiday spot all through our childhood and remains so up until now. This year, we stayed in a beautiful lodge on a golf course, and spent the week relaxing on our little patio in the sunshine or visiting beautiful seaside towns. It was so lovely to unwind and spend some time with my family.

Beckie's birthday weekend
Beckie is one of those friends that you can go a good couple of years without seeing but when you do, you pick exactly where you left off, as if no time has passed at all. I managed to get the whole weekend off for her superhero-themed birthday celebrations back in September, involving a garden party and a night out in Lincoln. I loved catching up with Beckie and meeting some of her friends, and we all got on as if we'd known each other for years. (This was also the first night out in about six months where I'd been in a busy club and not had a panic attack, yay!)

Meadowhall Retail Awards
Anyone who knows me fairly well will know how stressful my little part-time job can be. But this night made it all worth it. I went along with my managers and Ross, where we got dressed up, took full advantage of the free wine, and won the award for Best Home Department! It was such a proud moment, just because we all work so hard and the department often gets a tough time for being a bit rubbish or boring. (Clearly Meadowhall shoppers don't think so!)

Manchester Fashion Industry Autumn/Winter Fashion Show
My very first event as a blogger! I've done a separate post on this, but any day where I get to spend a bit of quality time with Fii is always fab. Despite being ridiculously nervous, I soon settled into it and actually really enjoyed myself, and even got chatting to a brand! Which I would never have been confident enough to do this time last year. Now my plan for 2016 is to go to a lot more events, and maybe even meet some of the bloggers that I've been chatting to on Twitter for the last eight months!

I actually really struggled to narrow this post down to ten highlights! It's really made me realise what a fantastic year I've had. I've started my blog, my confidence has grown, I've met new people and I've improved my mental health enormously. Not bad going!

What have been your highlights for 2015?

Sian Kathrine xo

Counting Hope

Sunday, 20 December 2015

I've only been blogging for eight months, but it's already opened a lot of doors for me and enabled me to get involved in some awesome projects and collaborations. But I never anticipated such an amazing opportunity as Counting Hope when an email came flying into my inbox recently.

The email came from a young man named Andy Green, who was looking for my help with the non-profit organisation called Counting Hope. He'd found me through Twitter, had a look at my blog and decided that I was the right person to work with.

Counting Hope is in its infancy at the minute, but has an incredible vision. It all started when Andy was on a family holiday on Sal Island in Cape Verde. Although a beautiful island, the people there live in absolute poverty, with families barely scraping by, next to no medical care and schools with crumbling walls and no where to safely store food for the children to eat.

The devastating poverty that Andy saw inspired him to start Counting Hope, with a mission to empower people through education. For me, education is one of the most powerful tools in the world, so when Andy told me this, it really struck a chord with me.

What makes Counting Hope different is that the idea is to make Sal Island self-sufficient rather than simply throwing money at them. The end goal is for the people of the island to say "hey, thank you very much for your help, but we're okay now, we can take care of ourselves!" The island relies heavily on tourism, but only a tiny proportion of the profit from the tourism industry goes back into the community of itself. But, Andy wants to help to provide people with the tools they need to source exports and build safer, more efficient schools and hospitals.

After exchanging a few emails, Andy and I met to talk a bit more about Counting Hope and where he wanted to go with it. We had a really good two hour chat and I was so inspired by his vision. The kind of work that he wants to do is so important, and it was so refreshing to hear about someone who wanted to make a real change rather than just sending a cheque and forgetting about it.

So where do I come into it all? My job for the time being is to get the word out, starting with this post. The more people who hear about Counting Hope, the more it will grow and we want to achieve as much as we possibly can. In the next couple of months, I'm going to be getting in touch with newspapers, radio stations and anyone who can help us raise awareness of Counting Hope and its goals.

In the New Year, Counting Hope's first event will be happening in Grimsby, which will be an amazing opportunity to start raising some funds and get people on board. In the meantime though, a bank account has just been opened and the first committee meeting has just taken place, and I'm so excited for the project to hit the ground running!

Now, my lovely readers, what I would love for you to do is help me spread the word. Andy is a remarkable guy, he's started this project at just 18 years old, and Counting Hope is one of the most refreshing and inspirational projects I've ever come across. I'd love nothing more than to see it get off the ground. If you could simply pay the website a visit (countinghope.org), and retweet or share this post. I'm going to be getting more content out there as soon as I possibly can, so keep your eyes peeled for that, and pretty soon you'll be able to donate and help us raise some money to send some resources over to Sal Island.

I really hope you can all get on board and support Counting Hope in any way that you can.

Sian Kathrine xo

Gothic Romance

Saturday, 19 December 2015

As far as fashion events go, Manchester Fashion Industry's Autumn Winter Show is a pretty big deal. And when it's your very first event as a blogger... Cue the panic.

Luckily, I had Fii on hand to stop me from melting into a puddle of nerves.

For those who don't know, Manchester Fashion Industry put on two shows a year, striving to put the city, and the north as a whole on the fashion map. They invite people from across the industry, including bloggers to their events, and this season, the theme was Gothic Romance.

After running for our train (seriously though, why would you put Platform 2C before Platforms 2A and 2B?!), Fii and I spent a lovely, but very windy and rainy day in exploring Manchester, checking out the Christmas markets and drinking a lot of coffee!

When your cup of green tea is bigger than you are...

 The event itself was held at a beautiful restaurant and bar in Manchester city centre. When we arrived, we were greeted with a welcome cocktail (in which the ratio of vodka to mixer was definitely leaning more towards vodka. Which was by no means a bad thing.)

This is where I apologise for having no photos of the fashion show itself, I had really tall people stood in front of me for the whole thing! But the clothes that were showcased were absolutely stunning, from beautiful dresses to elegant jumpsuits and tailored suits for the guys.

After seeing the incredible outfits that everyone had turned up in, I felt so underdressed! But I adore this little lace dress that I picked up from H&M especially for the night. I've already got so much wear out of it since because it's so easy to dress up or down!

Thanks to having a 9am workshop on Monday morning, we couldn't go to the After Party at the Milton Club, but judging by the pictures, it was an incredible night!

But I loved meeting new people and soaking up the whole atmosphere. Manchester Fashion Industry sure know how to put on an elegant night! Thank you for having us! I can't wait to start going to more events!

Sian Kathrine xo

Coconut Lane

Thursday, 17 December 2015

I love shopping on websites that sell cute, quirky bits and pieces. Hunting down things that I wouldn't necessarily find on the High Street is a lot of fun, especially when it comes to looking for Christmas presents (and it's a brilliant way to procrastinate from doing coursework!)

When the lovely Charlotte at Coconut Lane got in touch asking me to do a post for them, I checked out their website and instantly fell in love! They have a whole array of fab pieces, from prints to go on your wall to phone cases to jewellery. And I'm a sucker for pretty things, so I just had to get myself some jewellery from their range!

I went for the Heart and Wing ring and Moon & Star necklace, and when the parcel came through my letterbox I was so excited to see what I'd ordered! I adore how dainty and adorable they both are, I've never been one for statement jewellery so this style suits me perfectly! The ring looks lovely alongside the Pandora rings I already wear every day, and I've had so many compliments on the necklace!

Whether you're a jewellery fan like me, need a new phone case or fancy treating yourself to some quirky accessories for your home, I couldn't recomment Coconut Lane highly enough! The products are of brilliant quality and so reasonably priced!

The fab people at Coconut Lane have been kind enough to give me a discount code to share with my lovely readers! Just head on over to coconut-lane.com and if anything takes your fancy, pop in sian20 at the till to get 20% off EVERYTHING! You lucky lot!

Have you ever bought anything from Coconut Lane? What do you think of the website?

Sian Kathrine xo

Oh Christmas Tree

Sunday, 13 December 2015

This year, I have been so ridiculously excited to put my Christmas tree up. Ever since I moved out of my mum's house, I've been living in student housing, so I've only had enough space for a tiny tabletop tree and DIY paper snowflakes. Cute, yes, but I've always wanted to have a full-size Christmas tree.

Well, now I've moved into what I call my "grown-up house", it's been the first year ever that I can have a proper tree, with baubles and fairy lights and everything! My friend Ross and I spent an afternoon shopping for the tree and the perfect baubles to decorate it, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you!

I went for a gold colour scheme with a hint of light purple/mauve, I just think it looks so classy and fits the theme that's already in my living room perfectly! The tree itself came from the Range, it's a slimline one because I only had a narrow space to put it in, and is a bargain at £24.99! I got for warm white fairy lights to go around it to fit with the theme of the tree, I didn't want to go for anything too blindingly bright! The lights also came from the Range at £9.99.

Most of my baubles came from Next, their Christmas range is just stunning this season (plus staff discount hollaaaaaaa)! I picked up a pack of 20 in different shades of champagne and mauve colours, which are a steal at £6! The heart shaped bauble pictured above is part of a pack of 12, all gold, which were absolutely perfect for padding out the decorations a little bit.

I also grabbed the gold bell hearts from Next, as well as the chandelier decorations and feather baubles. They're absolutely beautiful statement pieces for the tree, the chandelier really stands out and I just love how simply elegant the feather ones are!

I wasn't sure how much I'd find in the Range in terms of baubles and decorations, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how many pretty things they had in there! I couldn't resist this glass bauble, it was only £1.39 (so naturally I bought four), and the glitter pattern is just gorgeous. I love how it looks against the fairy lights. I also had to have a couple of these gold drop bows on my tree, they were also really really super cheap but look so pretty on my tree!

Our last stop was Asda Living, which had this amazing glass bauble! I love the effect on the inside, it looks fab when the light shines through it! The tree topper I chose was a statement gold star at only £1, and I also picked up this gold butterfly clip as a bonus... Just because I thought it was cute!

Hope you like my tree! What colours and styles have you gone for this Christmas?

Sian Kathrine xo

Lincoln Christmas Market

Friday, 11 December 2015

In between working long shifts, getting ready for our huge Boxing Day sale and university deadlines, I don't get very much time to get festive. I actually just get Christmas Day off and that's my lot. Ah, retail life. But the hardest part of my one-day Christmas is that I get very little time to be with my family.

That's why a family day at the Lincoln Christmas Market is so important. Every year, we all get wrapped up and brave the cold on the hunt for Christmas presents and yummy food!

Lincoln Christmas Market opens on the first weekend of December, from the Thursday-Sunday, one of the biggest and most popular Christmas Markets in the country. We usually go in the evenings, I just love the atmosphere of the market at night, but work rotas this year meant we ended up making the trip on Sunday afternoon. But I loved it just as much in the day!

After a quick coffee and cake stop, we ventured in to the market. Starting in the grounds of the castle, which is just such a pretty setting. The little wooden stalls were adorned with fairy lights and a lot of the staff had dressed in Victorian costumes, which was just adorable!

The market then led us out of the castle and into the Bailgate area of the city and the cathedral, which is all cobbled streets and old-fashioned shops. Although there didn't seem to be as many stalls as previous years, I thought that what was on offer was of a better quality, and I actually managed to tick off a lot of my Christmas list! There was still a little bit of everything though, from jewellery, to speciality cheeses and wines to handmade soaps to decorations.

Little sister & I
After exploring all of the stores and spending a little bit too much money, a Bailey's hot chocolate to warm up was an absolute must!

Year on year, the Lincoln Christmas Market makes me feel so lucky to have grown up in the area. It's one of the highlights of my Christmas and I definitely feel more festive having been! If you ever get the chance to visit, seize it, you won't regret it!

Where's your favourite Christmas Market?

Sian Kathrine xo

Christmas Traditions

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Every family will have those little traditions that they uphold year in, year out. Whether it's the Queen's Speech, a particular cheesy song that you just HAVE to have playing on Christmas Day, or the board games that you play. And I bet as you're reading this, you're smiling at the thought of another year of Christmas traditions that you just can't bear to break.

Well, I thought I'd share with you our little Christmas traditions, from the beginning of December right through to Boxing Day, and maybe you'll get a little insight into how we celebrate.

Lincoln Christmas Market
Always the first weekend in December, this is when Christmas really starts for us. We've been going on family visits to the Lincoln Christmas Market for years, and we love getting wrapped up and braving the cold to have a look around! We always come home feeling really festive and looking forward to the rest of the season! I don't want to give too much away about it because I'm going to do a separate post about this year's visit, but our little traditions tend to include hot pork sandwiches while we're there and a Bailey's hot chocolate halfway round to warm our chilly hands!

The Tree
At mum's house, the tree doesn't go up before 14th of December, and it comes down on the 6th of January. Twelve days before Christmas, twelve days after Christmas. It's just the way she does it. And apparently my Nanna was a stickler for it too. While my brother wrestles with the ceiling decorations (at 6'4", it's clearly the perfect job for him. Much to his dismay.) my sister and I put on our pre-selected Christmas playlist as loud as we can, wrap tinsel round our heads and waists, and dance around the house as we decorate the tree. It takes much longer than is probably necessary, but we love it!

Christmas Baking
My mum, sister and I always spend an afternoon baking mince pies and maids of honour in the run up to Christmas. Again, usually with cheesy Christmas tunes on in the background! We all have our own little workstations, Mum's in charge of pastry (she let me try it one year. I was rubbish.) I've been relegated to greasing baking trays and filling pastry, and Isabelle pops the lids on and puts them in the oven. We usually get so carried away that we end up baking way too many and I'm sent back to uni with a huge tupperware box crammed full of mince pies... But I'm okay with that.

Christmas Eve
Usually Christmas Eve is very chilled out for us. Mum puts on a buffet of crusty bread, crackers, meats and cheeses for us to nibble on while we watch some sort of Christmas film in our PJs.

When we were younger, my dad accidentally let slip to me and my brother about the truth behind Santa. My little sister was only three at the time, so my parents swore us to secrecy about what we knew. So every year, we kept up the charade of putting out a glass of milk and a mince pie for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph. My sister is now 15, but we still put out the snacks every year before bed on Christmas Eve. You might think it's sad, but it's tradition, and if you can't be a little kid at Christmas, when can you?! (Maybe it's just that I don't want to accept the fact that my little sister's a grown up. Yep. That's probably it.)

Christmas Day
We still get up pretty early on Christmas Day, usually about 7am and run downstairs to open all our presents. Our usual Christmas morning film is Nativity, we all sit together with a cup of tea and tin of Celebrations (because chocolate for breakfast is always acceptable at Christmas). The day is generally spent eating, playing board games, and watching films, one of which usually being Harry Potter!

Boxing Day
Again, I've started having to work Boxing Day (bleh) but prior to that, Boxing Day was always pyjama day! Mum always makes bubble and squeak for lunch, and we have a really lazy day full of food and films... Basically the same as Christmas Day, really!

Christmas tends to happen the same way every year in our household. Sometimes I wonder if we should mix it up a bit, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Sian Kathrine xo

Christmas Wishlist

Saturday, 5 December 2015
First Row: Lipstick- Wingwoman by Benefit, Watch- Radley, Cushion- Next
Second Row: Charm- Pandora, Ring- Pandora, Eyeshadow Palette, Naked 3 by Urban Decay
Third Row: Bracelet- Pandora, Tea Set- Cath Kidston 


... Not that I'm excited or anything.

So I've put together this little wishlist mostly so that I can point my mum in the direction of this post when she inevitably rings me despairing because I STILL haven't told her what I want for Christmas. Well, Mum, here you go!

I've asked Luke for a Radley watch this year as my Christmas/birthday present. I saw this one as I passed the jewellers' on my way to work and instantly fell in love! I adore how dainty it is and it'd look so cute alongside my Pandora bracelets!

Urban Decay's Naked 3 Palette has been on my wishlist forever, and I'm hoping that this year Santa will leave one in my stocking. The colours are just so stunning and suit me down to the ground. I could spend hours testing out different combinations and creating different looks.

As well as the usual make-up and Pandora bits and pieces, I couldn't resist a couple of homeware items! Now that I'm a grown up with a grown up's house, homeware seems to be popping up more and more on my wish lists! I'd love to own a little floral tea set, not just the teapot, but the cups, saucers, milk jug, sugar pot, the whole schbang. Even if I don't use it that often, just to have it sitting on my kitchen side looking adorable would be ace.

Working in a shop surrounded by gorgeous homeware is pretty bloody difficult, I can tell you! You end up lusting after everything, but this mauve glitter cushion has to be one of my favourite Next items ever. I've had my eye on it ever since it came out, and I think it would look fab on my dark grey sofa, bringing a bit of sparkle to the room!

What's on your Christmas list?

Sian Kathrine xo