Birch Box- May

Here’s my monthly review of the contents of my Birch Box,

Have to admit, I was a little disappointed with the May box, I don’t think there’s anything I’m going to immediately be buying full sized versions of. But luckily my June tin (?!) has arrived and has more than made up for it.

So here’s the lowdown on my May products:

Benefit Hoola Bronzer: This is a product I already use a lot when doing full make up. It’s the first bronzer I’ve ever had so don’t have much to compare to but I do like it. It’s easy to apply, stays put and really makes a difference to my face. I much prefer the powder to the cream version and will continue to use this in the future.

Spectrum Collections, the Bomb Shell Make-up Brush: I’m not really into the whole brush thing. The products I use that require a brush come with their own which I use. So initially I thought this obviously great quality brush was wasted on me. I have however been using this to apply my blusher and it does work very well and makes it easy to apply evenly. I’m not sure I’m going to start buying whole brush sets but I do appreciate this one and may purchase again in the future.

Luseta Beauty Keratin Smooth Conditioner: I really like the Luseta hair products and this one is no exception. It left my hair really smooth and shiny but is a bit too heavy for frequent use. To get your hair looking good for a special occasion however, it is definitely worth a go.

Doucce Luscious Lip Stain, Steaming Red: We had a choice of colour for the lip stain , so, true to form, I opted for the Steaming Red. However, when it came it’s not what I would really describe as ‘Flaming Red’. When compared to my friends, who chose the pinkier more natural option, they were actually very similar. It’s a very matte colour which I’m not used to and initially did feel quite strange and dry on my lips. However the colour did last a while and I did get used to it. Was also good to try a different colour as I am so loyal to my Mac ‘Last Minute’ stain and need to start experimenting with different colours.

Greenfrog Botanic Botanical Bodywash- Geranium and Peppermint: I do love a natural, environmentally friendly product. This smelt fresh and clean and did the job shower gels are meant to do. I wouldn’t rush to buy it again but its certainly not bad.

Katie x

A Good Summer Read.

With summer now just weeks away I thought it might be time to start planning some Summer reads. I always read the most over the summer and love getting lost in a good book during down time while holidaying or travelling.

I’m looking for some recommendations of what to read while road tripping around France this summer or maybe what would be good to listen to on Audible while Maxie chauffeurs me from city to city. 💁🏻

In exchange here’s my list of must-reads and must haves for your bookshelves!

Us-David Nichols.

I read this on holiday in Sorrento in 2015. It was in the first few weeks of texting Max and I remember spending most of the week lying on a sunbed going from being engrossed in this story to being engrossed in mine and Maxie’s whatsapp conversations. It’s one of the stories that will stay with me forever, its beautifully written and had me crying, laughing and wanting to hug Doug. It’s a story about love but not a love story, more like just a story about life, it’s so relatable and true to life and relationships we’ve all witnessed before. It really is just beautiful. One day by David Nicholls is also one of my favourite stories and I’m currently reading Starter for Ten, but for me Us trumps them all.

The Versions of Us- Laura Barnett.

I picked up this book in a hostel book swap when I was in Perth in 2016 and read it while travelling. Just like Us it’s so relatable and the characters are so absorbing and real I felt like they were my friends. It’s split into three stories, all about the same couple but different versions of where their lives could have taken them if they’d made different choices. All the versions have happy parts and sad times and times you feel like shouting at the book because they’re making the wrong choices. It definitely appeals to my philosophical romantic side of always wondering ‘what if?’. I just absolutely loved this and it’s the perfect holiday read. Such a beautiful and effective way of story telling it kind of had me mad I didn’t have the idea first.

Room- Emma Donoghue.

This is not really light hearted and summery but definitely one of the books everybody needs to read before they die. It’ll have you thinking about it all the time and feeling quite emotional but wow its worth it. I just couldn’t put it down. Must be one of the best books ever written? I won’t say any more. Just read it. Don’t cheat and watch the film, it’s good but not as good. It’s best to watch the film after.

Funny Girl- Nick Hornsby.

I love Nick Hornsby, High Fidelity is another one of my favourites but as a summer read I loved Funny Girl more. It’s set in the 60’s which is perfect, I love anything retro. It’s all about Barbara, a beauty queen who’s dream is to make it in the world of comedy. It’s funny and real and easy to read. A perfect beach read.

Elizabeth is Missing- Emma Healey.

Another book I read while travelling in Oz. I bought this to read on the plane after reading a lot of hype around it. I don’t think it was what I expected but I did love it. It’s very clever and gripping but at the same time not too intense and deep, it’s very cleverly written. If you want a light summer read that’s not a chick-lit, give this one a go!

Paper Towns- John Green.

I think John Green books are meant to teenagers but that doesn’t stop me from loving them a lot. I’ve read them all but think this one grabs the top spot. I read this while living in Italy as a nanny and remember being so hooked I had it in my handbag all the time and was permanently hoping for a free 5 minutes to read a few pages. I think the fact it’s set in Orlando, where I used to live helps a lot, I could picture it all really clearly which made it seem more real and absorbing. The story line is so clever with so many twists and the characters literally have you feeling like they’re your best friends. It’s the right balance of light and funny but also gets you thinking. Definitely worth delving into the teen section of Waterstones to purchase and give a go. Other John Green books I would really recommend are An Abundance of Katherines,Will Grayson, Will Grayson and of course, if you’ve just woken up from a 10 year coma and haven’t read it yet, The Fault in our Stars (maybe not on the beach though, unless you’re open to sobbing like a toddler in public).

Billy and Me- Giovanna Fletcher.

Because I follow her on every media platform, like sooo many people, I feel like Gi is one of my best friends, so when she started releasing books I was straight in there. They really are light-hearted chick-lits at their very best and Billy and Me is my favourite. The easiest books in the world to read, so relatable and perfect for reading on a sun lounger with a cocktail.

Other Books to have on your shelf:

Love Letters of Great Men.

In 2008 I feel very deep into the Sex and the City rabbit hole. I went to see the movie and then spent the rest of the summer watching all the seasons, reading the books, listening to the movie soundtrack and buying all the merch. I was just obsessed and kind of still am. The Love Letters of Great Men book that Carrie borrows from the library in the movie didn’t actually exist until a few months after the film was released. But as soon as it was out, I had it, and read it front to back and back again. Those were the days when I was 16 and full of hope of fairytales and romantic men. It really is a beautiful read and I still pull it out a lot to have a flick through when I’m feeling all soppy and emosh.

The Jane Austen Collection.

I am a Jane Austen nerd. I love them all. They bring out the soppy romantic in me and have me dreaming of living in those simple times. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are my favourites, I think I’ve seen every film and TV version of them and are the books I have on my shelf. I’d be lying if I said I’ve read them cover to cover. Jane was quite a wordy writer. But I do like to have a flick through them every now and again to find my favourite quotes.

Parenting the Sh*t out of Life- Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka.

This is my favourite to pick up and read for a giggle but it also has parts that are so moving. I follow both Mother and Papa Pukka on Insta and they really make me laugh. You don’t have to be a parent, or planning a baby, to enjoy this.

Not that Kind of Girl- Lena Dunham.

I don’t think there’s a girl in the world who can’t relate to this memoir. It’s laugh out loud funny. I just love it. I have favourite parts I love to read over and over. It’s life-affirming, hilarious, and just brilliant. I suggest every girl 18-40 reads it at least once. Or about 30 times like me.

On our bookshelves we also have a ridic amount of cookbooks. We are constantly buying cookbooks for eachother and have afternoons where we sit and read them all and put markers on the recipes we’d like to try. I’ll do a cookbook edition of this post in the next few weeks!

I have a thing with children’s book too. I have a whole section of children’s books on my bookshelf. There’s something so wonderful about how simple and magical they can be and I love the beautiful illustrations. Ones with meaning also make lovely presents and keepsakes for a special occasion.

When it comes to buying books I am very passionate about where I buy them from. Although guilty of the occasional quick Amazon prime purchase I do feel a lot better when I’ve bought from a book shop, particularly independent ones. Although more expensive I love to support small businesses and book shops are a dying tradition that we must not lose. There’s something so magic about a good bookshop and gives you a feeling you can never get from ‘adding to basket’ on Amazon.

Let me know your suggestions for what I should be reading this summer. Do I join the Insta hype and read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?

Katie x

Fragrance your Autumn.

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So Autumn is well on it’s way in and I couldn’t be more excited. Autumn is for cosy nights, fluffy pyjamas, blankets, slipper socks, hot chocolates, brilliant TV and of course, Candles! As I may have mentioned previously I am a candle and home fragrance fanatic (I think I get it from my Momma), I don’t feel like I’m properly ‘home’ till I have a candle on And Autumn/Winter is my favourite scenty season. So here’s a list of my current favourites to inspire you to fragrance your autumn and get cosy!



Lolly Rocket- Maple and Coffee Bean.

Have you ever seen a more perfect looking Autumn candle?! I first found this small business when another blogger shared some photos of their candles and I knew I had to have one! They do candles with lots of different quotes but this Autumn quote one really caught my eye! There’s a choice of Maple and Coffee Bean or Pumpkin pie. I’d usually lean towards the pumpkin pie but I thought I’d be brave and try a new scent. And I absolutely love it! It smells like the Starbucks in Magic Kingdom and is so strong when burning. It’s the perfect kitchen candle and I had it burning this morning while we were having brunch. I’ll definitely be ordering more from Lolly Rocket!

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So Soy- Caramel, Patchouli and Honey.

I talk a little bit more about the benefits of burning soy wax in my later section on wax melts but I do love burning soy wax. This one smells divine. I ordered it out of interest mostly as the scent sounded interesting. It isn’t how I expected it to smell but so much better! Like a really delicious mens aftershave but subtle and calming. This is one for people who don’t like too overpowering scents. It also comes in the prettiest packaging! (Available in 3 different sizes from the So Soy website).

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Yankee Candle- All is Bright.

I feel like a bit of a sell out talking about Yankee, its so cliche. But this one I couldn’t resist, I cant explain the scent, its kind of citrussy but I would say it’s the perfect Autumn/Winter scent for none spice lovers (I am most definitely a spice lover but can understand how it’s not for some people). Yankee candles so always burn so nicely and give off a lovely scent so keep your eyes peeled for this one!

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Mintoshi- Carrot Cake.

I love, love, love this one. It smells exactly how you’d imagine but not as sickly! It’s so comforting with a really good scent throw and looks so pretty burning. Mintoshi is a small business based in Wolverhampton and their candles can be ordered through their Etsy shop, their customer service is fab and once this one is burnt out I’ll definitely be ordering more!

 

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Matalan- Mandarin and Amber.

I picked this up a few weeks ago as it was a bargain and I couldn’t resist the really pretty autumnal jar. The smell is nice enough for the price but really I’m just all about the jar.

ALDI- Luxury Candle Jo Malone Dupes.

I’ve seen so many mixed reviews about these on Insta. Some adore them, some saw they smell like cat’s piss…. I am a fan. They smell like Jo Malone and cost less than 4 quid. It would literally be rude to complain. For the price they are really good, they burn so evenly and cleanly and release such a lovely smell. They are availalbe in Pomegranate Noir, Blackberry and Bay and Lime Basil and Mandarin. If you’re a candle fan/ Jo Malone fan and see them in your local Aldi it’s definitely worth picking one (or 3!) up!

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Bloom Candles- Clementine and Prosecco.

Bloom Candles are available online via their website and their candles come in the cutest little jars! Their scents are fresh and lovely give off a lovely scent when burning. They also do their own range of melts and diffusers and for a really sensible price.

Skandinavisk- Fjord and Hygge.

Maxie treated me to these for our anniversary, I think they arrived a bit smaller than he had imagined but they are quite an expensive brand! I love anything Scandi so they were a perfect gift! I love their packaging and their really fresh, clean scents.

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Woodwick- Pear Cider.

This has been my first ever woodwick candle after years of sniffing every one in shops. They’re the brand that are famous for the crackling wick, it took a while for me to get used to the crackling to be honest, can’t thinking I’d left a tap dripping in the kitchen but once I’d got over that the crackling did it make it feel very cosy and comforting! This is a perfect autumnal smell as it’s a bit spicier and deeper than you’d expect from the description. It does give off a lovely scent throw when it’s been melting a while. I’ll be trying more woodwick candles I think!

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Olivia Blake- Wild Pumpkin and Nutmeg.

I first smelt this when on a day drinking trip to York and popped into TK Maxx. They only had it available in 1kg and after much deliberation I decided I couldn’t carry a 1kg candle in my clutch bag around the bars of York. So, I was very excited to find this is a normal size in the Homesense in Leeds. It is an absolutely perfect Autumn fragrance and I love to just sniff it when it’s not lit. When burning it isn’t very strong which I wouldn’t usually mind but I love the scent so much I wanted it to stronger! It is however very much worth the £5.99 I paid! TK Maxx and Homesense are so underrated on the candle front, I’ve had some really lovely candles from there!

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Yankee Candle- Wild Mint.

Another mini Yankee shoutout for the perfect kitchen smell masking scent! Not much else to say about this one really. It does the job!

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Primark – White Tea and Violet.

This is one of those candles they have on the shelves by the checkouts in Primark you usually just walk past but you know, are actually pretty good…for a pound. This scent is perfect for a bathroom! I wouldn’t say they’re the best things in the world but I will say you may be pleasantly suprised!

 

Quick tip for candles: Always burn right to the edge every time they are lit to prevent tunnelling and wasting a lot of the wax. The scent also won’t throw as far in a colder than average room this is particularly true with wax melts, they wont reach their full scent potential until they’re at 80c which is difficult for a little tealight to do on its own if the room is really cold!

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Now- on that note- let me confess something- I am a wax addict.

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I mean, it’s not out of control. But it could certainly be creeping onto the addiction scale.

I first got into wax melts when I started up my own Etsy shop last year and started connecting with other small business owners, I love the idea of buying something that is the outcome of someones hobby and getting something lovely in return. The vendors I use repeatedly (I’ll list in a minute!) use Soy wax which is vegan, environmentally friendly and burns cleanly, it also holds a lot of scent (amazing value for money) and is very easy to clean if you have an accidental spillage (clumsy problems).

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So a bit of an obvious one but to melt wax you need a wax burner, they are now available all over, home bargains, tesco, wilkos, amazon and some very pretty ones are available on Etsy! I have a beautiful one from Natyshas Vintage Home. And you obviously need tealights, I go through so many! I tend to stock up on hundreds whenever I’m in Ikea. Some vendors sell their wax in individual melts and to be able to get a good whiff you need to burn 2 at a time, however recently most vendors have switched to wax pots. I like this as they are very easy to store and the plastic tubs preserve the scent for a long time. With these insert a fork into the wax to snap it into two and then once more to get quarters. Insert a quarter at a time into your burner. Each quarter or two melts tend to give 8 hours of scent before it starts to burn off. Tubs average around £2.20ish each for 32 hours worth of fragrance so a bit of a bargain really! It’s also fun to mix the scents! The wax can be stored for up to a year after it’s been made before it starts to lose its fragrance and it’s sometimes good to leave the wax few a few weeks after purchase to let it cure, this stops the fragrance burning off quickly.

The choice available online from small businesses is amazing and I’m currently in my element as this week they are starting to release their Autumn and Christmas fragrances. Here’s a list of of my favourites:

Cleaves Candles- Their is so much hype around this vendor and it’s so deserved, her scents are amazing and give off the right amount of scent. She does a restock once a month but can literally sell out in minutes! You have to be so fast! She also has a social facebook group called Cleaves chat and mingle which you can join to sell, swap and buy wax! I received my parcel of Autumn wax from Cleaves this week and it’s perfect! My favourite Cleaves scent used to be Magnolia and Orange Blossom but it might have just been beat by Frosted Pumpkin!

Wax Melts by Francesca- Her scents are as equally delicious. She uses Beeswax which is also really good for the environment (save the bees) and holds scent so well! I’m signed up for her monthly subscription box which a great way to try new fragrances I wouldn’t really choose myself and is great value for money! She does lovely dupes and special collections along different themes.

Make Life Vintage- I love her Lavender blends and Jo Malone/ White Company dupes. They also look prettier than I ever knew wax could look!

Aromatic Soy- They do really great value scents and their Etsy shop is always well stocked so no stressful Restock nights trying to check out with stuff before it sells out! They do a Coconut and Mimosa wax which I really love and one the best Lush Snow Fairy dupes I’ve smelt!

Scented Wax Boutique- I first tried this vendor when I won one of her giveaways, her wax is lovely and so pretty! I particularly love her Spa Relaxation and Almond Macaroon!

Pretty Little Melts- She released her Christmas collection in August and I jumped straight on the band wagon and ordered some. They smell lovely and she does each fragrance in heart melts and tubs which I like as although I do like the tubs I love having packs of melts to fill my tin!

Rosie’s Wax Melts- She was the first soy wax vendor I ever tried so I feel quite faithful to her! She does regular restocks and her Autumn collection is lovely! All the pumpkin and spice!

Vendors on my ‘To Try’ list: Halliescents, Georgia Lee Candles and Rose and Thistle Wax Patisserie and Oh So Smelly (She literally lives down the road from me so would be rude not to order soon!).

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Reed Diffusers- I do love a diffuser, I have quite a few scattered around the flat. Next are great for diffusers and my go-to place for ones for the bathrooms. They are great value for how long they last and really do make everything smell a lot nicer! I became a bit complacent to them but went away for the weekend and came back and could really smell them again and they’ve been going since we moved in 4 months ago! In my lounge I have a White Company Pomegranate diffuser. Max bought be this after a few months of really unsubtle hints. It does look so pretty but the smell it gives off is beautiful and comforting and can still smell it as much as the day I opened it (but not in an overpowering way). I also love that they so diffuser refills as it also seems such a waste to just recycle the glass! I’m not one to obsess over labels don’t think the more expensive is always the better but in the way of reed diffusers I do think it’s worth splashing out a bit for a lovely long lasting scent that you don’t get sick of. Saying that, I picked up 2 Aldi Jo Malone dupe diffusers the other day so will report back on them!

I’m also really loving my Molton Brown Coco and Sandalwood room spray. This is quite expensive but the scent lasts for ages and smells amazing even when used sparingly! I love giving my lounge a good spritz of this although my lounge probably isn’t worthy of the lovely scent!

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So there we go! That’s mainly what my flat will be smelling like this Autumn! Stay tuned for a Christmas candle post in the next few months!

Katie! x

20 facts about me.

Hey everyone,

So I thought I’d copy some other blogs I’ve been looking at and do a 20 facts about me post to introduce myself a little bit more. This took a lot of thinking about, especially as I didn’t want to choose really obvious things, 20 is quite a big number!

Also using this post to share these photos of my dream dress! I’m going to a couple of weddings this summer and found this dress in Marks and Spencers to wear for them. I love the style and colour and it’s the comfiest dress to wear. It’s so silky it feels luxurious but for a highstreet price! I’m a big fan of anything from M and S, their jeans, pants, christmas wrapping paper, melt in the middle chocolate puddings…

 

So here we gooo….

1.
October- November is my favourite time of year and I’m getting giddy at how close it is getting. I love the cosy nights, Christmas buzz, watching Strictly Come Dancing religiously every Saturday night, adding pumpkin to every dish and making everything smell of cinnamon. I also feel a bit more comfortable fashion wise when it’s cold, I love boots, thick tights and chunky knits.

2.
I missed this season last year as I went travelling around Australia and New Zealand in a campervan with my friend Sophie. It was tough going at times but we had an amazing time and saw the most beautiful places (writing a blog post about it is on my to do list!).

3.
I lived in Italy for year from 2014-2015 working as an Au Pair and English teacher just outside Milan. I’m still really close to the family I lived with and they feel just as much like my family as my actual family. I learnt Italian at night school while I was there, I can follow conversations in Italian but don’t really have the confidence to try joining in!

4.
I used to work for Walt Disney World in Orlando. I worked for 2 summers in 2013 and 2014. The first year I was a Housekeeper at Old Key West Resort and the second year I worked in Animation Courtyard in Hollywood studios, seating guests for the shows, spieling the health and safety rules and quite often parking strollers.

5.
The summers after working at WDW I did some travelling in America with my friends, lots of amazing memories and very drunken times were had (will never be able to look at a fireball shot again in my life).

6.
I’m a really big fan of Craft Beers, love trying different ones, especially local brews. My boyfriend designs beer cans and bottles and I love going to a bar and seeing his designs behind the bar (look out for the Bad Co collection!).

7.
I never have any idea what’s in the charts at that moment. I’m a bit of an old soul when it comes to music! My spotify playlists are full of old songs and I only listen to Radio 2. I love the Beach Boys, Carole King, Chuck Berry and Frankie Valli. (But I do really really love anything by Little Mix after a few drinks).

8.
I first met my boyfriend when I was 11 when my friend dared me to go up to him and touch his hair (he had massive afro hair at school). I got close to him and bottled it! We got together properly when I was 23 and I haven’t looked back since (well maybe been a bit tempted sometimes when he leaves wet towels lying about or doesn’t empty the dishwasher).

9.
My favourite TV show ever ever is the Royle Family, I could watch it every night, sometimes when the TV schedule is a bit dry I do. I know every word but I still just love it. My other favourites are period dramas, crime dramas and a good documentary (especially one about a conspiracy!).

10.
I run a small business called Dirty Little Daffodil, I do family portrait cross stitches, cushions and bunting. I love sewing and crafting! My idea of a perfect afternoon is radio on, candle burning, cup of tea and getting on with some crafty projects!

11.
I’m a real foodie and love cooking, baking and eating out. My bookcase is overflowing with cookbooks but I still have such a long wish list of more! I love watching cooking programmes too and always so content watching Saturday kitchen with a bacon bun and a brew on a weekend morning. My all time favourite food hero is Nigella Lawson, she’s my ultimate girl crush and she always has recipes for what I fancy.

12.
Despite not being afraid of a bit of indulgence I am actually a qualified nutritionist! I did my degree at Sheffield Hallam University and loved every second of uni life. I am really passionate about about food and eating properly but am a firm believer in a bit of what you fancy does you good.

13.
My idea of food heaven is anything carby, I love pasta, potatoes and bread. My dream dish is pasta with chilli and prawns and garlic bread! My food hell is Melon, never liked it and no idea why! I’d probably be a lot thinner if my heaven and hell were the other way round!

14.
I think I spend more on my flat looking and smelling nice than I do myself! I love interiors and home fragrances! (I’ll write a post about these too!)

15.
I love pyjamas and loungewear, it’s pretty rare to catch me in the flat wearing anything else, comfort first.

16.
I used to have a Bernese Mountain Dog called Oscar, we all loved him more than anything. He died in 2014 but still has the biggest piece of my heart and he will always be the best looking dog to walk the earth.

17.
My favourite shop in the world is Liberty London, I could spend days in there and I’m obsessed with everything they sell, particularly the fabrics!

18.
My favourite films are About Time, The Great Gatsby and the Jurassic Park (and world!) series. 

19.
I drink a lot of tea! If I’m having a day in the flat pottering about I can easily get into double figures. I love a good proper brew or green tea. I love the taste of coffee too but it makes me feel like my head’s going to fall off and the end of the world is coming. I decided to be sophisticated and order an Americano on a date once, safe to say it didn’t end well!

 20.
I like to write a lot of lists! Of stuff to do, buy, things I have done, things I have bought. It makes me feel a lot more organised than I actually am!

 

There we go! Tah-Dah!

 

 

Number 1.

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Hey guys, so here’s my first post on my grand spanking new blog and thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce myself.

I’m Katie, I’m 25 and I just recently moved to Leeds and set up house with my boyfriend in an apartment in Chapel Allerton. Sounds very glamourous but it’s actually quite a lot of nagging each other to empty the dishwasher or take out the bin and a bit of bickering over what I consider ‘necessities’. (Kidding, it’s lovely really).

I work in a school and totally adore my job. My boyfriend, Max, is a graphic designer (he’d like me to add, although he did design my logo it’s not a real example of his work and style) and as he’s recently gone freelance I’d be so happy to forward his details to anyone who’s interested, hire him to do anything you like, he’s particularly good at hoovering and calligraphy and chopping onions.

I decided to start this blog because I missed writing so much. I’ve kept blogs before, about my time working in Disney World and my time living in Italy eating a shitload of carbs, and writing and sharing really makes me feel good and is good for my soul. When I like something, I really like something and have to share and bore people rigid talking about it so this blog will be quite a lot of that, quite a few life posts too as I set out into adult life and try to not completely mess it up. Quite literally just natter for nowt.

Hope that hasn’t completely put you off, see you soon for more!

Katie.

Please feel free to follow me on instagram @katiejade92 and Twitter @katiejade.

Also any comments or questions or anything you have to say about anything I post don’t hesitate to get in touch katiejade92@yahoo.com