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Thursday 31 December 2015

2015 Reflection & 2016 Blogging Goals

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and you had a wonderful Christmas! I still can't believe how fast Christmas and the festive season just flew by and how it is New Years Eve today...someone pinch me, please! I have been a little quite over on my blog purely because I honestly haven't had much energy and motivation throughout December, I guess this is something we all face at some point. I thought it was probably best I sit back and enjoy these few days I do have off until I go back to work in the New Year and then jump straight back into everything with full force in 2016. I just wanted to write a little post reflecting on some of my milestones this past year and of course, set myself a few blogging goals moving forward into 2016. If you would like to read my 2015 New Year post you can do so by clicking here.

WOW! 2015 has been a heck of a year indeed with some major I guess we'll start right at the very beginning. I began the year by starting my first ever full-time job and I can't believe a year has flown by already. I work in the Cloud Marketing BU for one of the world's leading technology companies and I can honestly say that I have loved every second of it. I never knew what was in store for me after graduating in July 2014 but I feel like fate just rolled out the right cards for me on this occasion. There is never a dull moment when you work in the technology industry, it is very fast paced and there is always something going on. I feel so privileged to be part of the Cloud BU and I have already learnt so much. I manage all of our digital presence amongst a few other things - we have a Cloud blog so if you would like to stop by and read something a little different you can do so by clicking here.

Around June / July time I decided to enter a competition with House of Fraser and the competition was all about creating a look based on your ultimate beauty icon. It was so fun stepping outside of my comfort zone and throwing myself into something a little different. I was on my way to an event with work when I got an email from House of Fraser saying that I had actually won the this day I still can't believe it! So, becoming the House of Fraser Beauty Ambassador has definitely been one of the best milestones this year. I am so looking forward to working with House of Fraser on some amazing things during 2016! You can see my full entry post here.

Another major milestone this year was definitely my Dad surprising my Mum and I to a Birthday trip to New York! I honestly still can't believe this actually happened and I got to spend my Birthday in New York City. It was the most perfect trip and we tried to squeeze in as much as possible, however, I will definitely need to go back at some point to do a few more things off my bucket list. I had been previously (around 6 or 7 years ago) but when we went I wasn't old enough to appreciate everything...especially the shopping and everything you can't purchase in the UK. Also, it was the end destination on a three way trip to Las Vegas and Mexico across three weeks so we were so exhausted by the time we got to New York. This was the first time I had ever celebrated my Birthday outside of the UK and honestly, it felt so weird yet so exciting! I still haven't posted about my trip or hauled anything I picked up so if this is still something you would like to see then please let me know.

The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards...oh, I couldn't leave this one out! I never thought in my right mind that I would be shortlisted a third year in a row...let alone walk away with an award! Honestly, I don't have the confidence in myself or my blog to be able to say I am worthy of these types things...I am such an unlucky person haha! It honestly still feels like a complete dream to me and I still can't believe I can finally say I am an award winning blogger haha! According to Cosmopolitan, this year's awards had the biggest voting count EVER with numbers in excess of 64K - WOW! I just want to say another huge thank you to everyone who has been there and supported my blogging journey and of course to anyone who took the time to vote for me - it means the world to me. As you know I didn't place in the Beauty category but I did walk away with Highly Commended for 'Best Use of Photography' and I am over the moon. If you read my blog you will know that one of my blog New Years resolutions was to improve my photography and receiving this award makes me that tiny bit closer to achieving my goal. I have definitely walked away feeling so motivated and I can't wait to get back into my blogging routine in the New Year and bring you some fabulous new content. Another highlight from the evening was definitely meeting so many like-minded people within he blogging industry and of course, finally meeting India from The Jewel Beauty (my blogging bestie)! You can read my full post on the awards here

A Few of My 2016 Goals

Goal #1: Start YouTube & Weekly Vlogging. Starting a YouTube channel is something I have wanted to do for many years now. I have sporadically uploaded a few videos (you can see these here) but for some reason getting into YouTube hasn't been an easy road for me. I definitely feel like I have achieved something this year with uploading a handful of videos but I want to be consistent and upload regularly. I need to snap out of whatever is holding me back and stop letting excuses get in the way of something I have dreamt of doing for years now. So, if there is anything you would like to see in particular then pretty please let me know. I am also on the hunt for a vlogging Camera, so far I have narrowed it down to the Olympus Pen and the Sony A5100 - I would love to hear any recommendations and suggestions though!

Goal #2: Transform my Fitness Routine. I know this is a pretty cliche New Years resolution but it is something I feel I really need to work on. I just want to become a healthier version of myself...not necessarily lose weight but tone and change my diet. I have decided to join a slimming club in the New Year to work on my diet and go to the gym, at least, one to two day a week (baby steps). I used to be so much fitter when I was younger, partaking in a sport 4-5 days a week including gymnastics, Karate and swimming. I can't even remember why I stopped but I guess we all have to start up again from somewhere - wish me luck :)

Goal #3: Increase my Fashion & Lifestyle Posts. I have always wanted my blog to be Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle based, however, I know the majority of the time it sways towards beauty...what can I say, I have a beauty addition haha. Never-the-less, I really want to work harder and create some more diverse content for you all. I want to start creating more outfit, lifestyle and travel posts. Yet again, if there is anything you would like to see in particular pretty please let me know.

Goal #4: Work on my Instagram. I know numbers are definitely not everything but I honestly feel like my Instagram has been stuck and not progressed at all this year. It would be an absolutely dream to hit 10,000 Instagram followers during 2016 and I would love to develop it into an almost 'blog' in itself. I want to post content more often and interact with other Instagrammers a lot more.

Goal #5: Use Snapchat More: I started using Snapchat properly this year and honestly it is still so new to me. I want it to be a regular social platform like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where I can share daily snaps and vlogs. I haven't been able to video myself on there yet but it is something I want to work toward in 2016 - I am still a little camera shy haha! Until I get my hands on a vlogging camera I guess I will be vlogging from here - so if you would like to see what goes on behind the scenes then you can follow me at 'SophiaMeola'. Don't forget to leave your usernames in the comments section also :)

Goal #6: Invest in my Future. This isn't a big blogging goal but I thought I would include it. This has been a pretty big decision that has been playing on my mind throughout the majority of 2015. I want to start thinking about my future more and I want to start investing where I can. I have decided that I want to purchase my own property in 2016. Purchasing a property is not a simple task and obviously, there are a lot of hurdles in between, especially as I will be doing this all by myself. I can't wait to see if this becomes a reality!

Goal #7: Attend More Blogging Events. During 2015, I found myself declining so many blogging events and honestly it made me so sad. I think it was a combination of things; timing, commitments, confidence, anxiety and so on that kept getting in the way. I am such a shy person and sometimes travelling alone to an event is very daunting, especially when there are friendship groups already formed and you feel so intimidated to go up and talk to them. I really hope this is something I can conquer as I would love to meet so many more bloggers and brands next year!

I hope you all enjoyed diving into my 2015 reflection and talking about some of my 2016 goals. Honestly, 2015 has been full of highs and lows but they have all been part of my journey. I feel so incredibly blessed to have so many special people in my life and I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for me. I have learnt so much over the last year and I want to start 2016 as I mean to go on. If you have stuck around to the end then thank you so much, I know this was quite a chatty post. Here is to an amazing and safe New Years Eve and an amazing entrance to 2016! Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me via my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to ready every single comment...they really make my day!

What are your 2016 goals?

Lots of Love

Wednesday 23 December 2015

A Few of my Christmas Traditions

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and are all having a wonderful Christmas week so far! Christmas has to be one of my favourite times of the year and I know as soon as my birthday passes in November I can officially start getting ready for the festive season! I have so many fond memories throughout the years growing up and I would probably say I am still a big kid at heart when it comes to Christmas! So, there are less than 2 days until Christmas is officially here and I have teamed up with New Look to share some of my favourite Christmas traditions with you all.

Firstly, the Christmas Tree. I am super traditional when it comes to putting up and decorating our Christmas tree and this year was no different...other than the fact I was later than usual putting it up this year (whoopsies!). As we are still in the middle of some home developments we actually never got to put a Christmas tree up last year which I was totally devastated about, so there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make an even bigger effort this year. I decided to go for a gorgeous gold theme and I used a mixture of new decorations and some favourites from my childhood that I use every year without fail. I just love walking into my lounge and seeing my glistening tree - it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Secondly, The Christmas day outfits. So, this will vary slightly every year, however, during the past few years we have all opted to wear super fun and cosy Christmas jumpers. I just think it is such a fun concept and it is great seeing the whole family get involved! Last year I had this super cute grey polar bear jumper so, this time around I wanted something a little more traditional, something that screamed Christmas! New Look very kindly gave me the opportunity to pick a Christmas jumper from their range here and I decided on this fabulous Black Penguin Fairisle Christmas Jumper*. I love the overall design and how there are actual bells attached to the jumper itself - it went down a treat on Christmas Jumper Day at work last week! Not only jumper, but we also have these really cheesy Christmas-themed glasses with Reindeer, Snowmen and Santa Clause on that just seem to get everyone in the festive spirit. My Mum first purchased these around two years ago and they have since grown to be a tradition in our family - they also make great photos haha!

Thirdly, Christmas Day and the feast. There are usually around 10 of us at Christmas (my parents, aunty, uncle, three cousins and grandparents), none including our dogs Bella and Rolo who are pretty much part of the family too - so I guess that makes 12. We usually take it in turns to host dinner and this year we are hosting around the Meola household - yay! I am so excited to have the family round and just spend some quality time together. I am Italian so whenever there is food concerned we tend to go to the extreme with a selections of meats, every vegetable you could think of and, of course, a variety of super scrumptious deserts. Christmas is probably the only time I will eat none stop and not feel at all guilty about it - it is Christmas after all haha! Also, another tradition is our Christmas Eve dinner where we all come together just like Christmas Day (this is being hosted at my Aunty and Uncles this year) and it is pretty much a mini Christmas feast minus the meat and we usually have fish. Now, I am not a lover of fish so I usually opt for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio which is Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Garlic and Parsley - one of my favourite pasta dishes!

My final tradition to share with you today is my Christmas Eve routine. When I was younger this used to be a lot different. Throughout the day all I would think about was Santa Clause and making sure I was in bed before midnight! Ohh, how I miss those days! Since then I have never had a traditional Christmas Eve routine in the sense that it changes every year. The last two years I worked on a Chanel counter in Debenhams and retail around the Christmas season is pretty hardcore - long hours with tonnes of wrapping and running around on your feet all day. This will be my first Christmas in my new full-time job and word on the street is we finish early - woohoo! I can't wait to come home tomorrow evening and just relax, start a mini pamper routine and just start to enjoy my 10 days off over the festive season. All I know is, my Christmas Eve will include dinner with my family (I feel so blessed to have them in my life), a pamper routine when I get home, some fresh Pyjamas and an early night ready for all the festivities the next day!

I hope you all enjoyed diving into a few of my Christmas tradition, I would love to hear some of yours! Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me on my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to read every single comment…they really make my day!

Lots of Love

*PR Sample

Sunday 20 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide | NEOM Three Nights of Peace Mini Bath & Shower Oil Collection

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and have had a fabulous weekend! I seriously can't believe that it is almost has just come round so fast this year. I absolutely love the festive season and I love nothing more than going out and buying all the wonderful people in my life something, I absolutely love wrapping presents. The last two Christmases I worked on a Chanel counter and I must have wrapped over 100 perfume bottles and I never grew tired of it...I just love making things look presentable and pretty! I thought today I would share with you a little treat from the Neom Christmas Collection that I think you are just going to adore. NEOM are a brand I have always admired and the few products I have tried from their range I have always been incredibly impressed with. To me, their products always seem so classic and I adore how everything is organic with the combination of having glorious holistic properties due to the high essential oil content in the scents. As a brand, they strongly oppose using harsh ingredients and want to be able to offer a beautiful collection of 100% natural fragrances for the mind and body, that are free from artificial ingredients, all with therapeutic benefits. Every scent has been designed to make you feel good and that is something I absolutely love about the products they offer.

The Three Nights of Peace Mini Bath & Shower Oil set* is a collection of three beautiful bath oils made with the highest percentage of the purest possible essential oils, which not only smell wonderful but have true therapeutic benefits for the mind and body. Combined with skin soothing organic safflower and vitamin E, your skin will be left gently scented and perfectly soft. To use simply pour the contents of one (or how much you would like) bath oil into a warm bath before getting in and relaxing. As the aroma fills the room, breathe in through your nose for 7 seconds and out through your mouth for 11 seconds and repeat 3 times. The essential oils will be absorbed and the therapeutic effects will begin to work. Have no fear because you can also use these little beauties in the shower as an extra bonus. Add a small amount of the oil to your decolletage when entering the shower to create the most perfect scented shower experience. I also love doing this whilst I am at my desk at work or home to help me wind down after a long day.

The Bath & Shower Oils

The first Bath & Shower Oil in the collection is the Neom Scent to Instantly De-Stress which is part of their therapeutic range. With 24 of the purest possible essential oils including lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood, it has been expertly blended to help reduce stress levels. The second Bath & Shower Oil in the collection is a 100% natural Neom Time to Unwind fragrance which is also part of their therapeutic range. With 9 of the purest possible essential oils including guaiacwood and rose, the oils in the fragrance have been blended to help you unwind and focus. This is one of my favourite scents and I love placing a small amount on my neck whilst working at my desk to help me get into blogging mode and unwind from a stressful day. The third and final Bath & Shower oil in the collection is their tranquility scent which is part of the therapeutic Neom Scent to Sleep range. I have the Perfect Nights Sleep Pillow mist in this scent and it has grown to be my favourite out of the entire range - you can see my full review here. This range is curated from 19 of the finest and purest possible essential oils including English lavender, sweet basil and jasmine, all sourced for their unbeatable sleep-inducing properties.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with this gift set and for £14.95* I think it is totally worth it for the quality you are receiving. You also receive a free voucher code to download the Neom Ultimate Sleep eBook which is originally worth £9.99. The expert-led eBook is packed with tips and advice to help you understand the science and the art behind great quality and quantity of sleep. I have downloaded mine and I am completely hooked, I definitely need advice when it comes to sleep as my patterns are everywhere. The packaging is super adorable and I love how compact it is without wastage. The overall design fits in nicely with the entire Neom line, however, I adore the added touch of silver sparkles for a more Christmassy feel. As the name suggests these oils are supposed to last three nights, one Bath and Shower Oil per bath / shower per night - I sometimes wish they were a little bit bigger so they would last a little longer, however, it all depends on how you use them. Also, this set is a great way for you to introduce yourself or someone else to the line before committing to the full sized versions. I just love mini products!

I hope you all enjoyed this Christmassy post, I would love to know your thoughts on the Three Nights of Peace Mini Bath & Shower Oil Collection. I think they would make a lovely gift or stocking filler this festive season and you still have time to get yours orders in before Christmas! Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me on my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to read every single comment…they really make my day!

Would you give the Neom Three Nights of Peace Mini Bath & Shower Oil Collection a try? You can check out the full Christmas Collection here.

Lots of Love

*PR Sample

Sunday 13 December 2015

Pukka Winter Wellness Challenge

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and have had a fabulous weekend. It is no secret that I always feel a little worse for wear around this time of year...quite frankly it's all down to the fact I am working super hard and my immune system is being tested...especially with this winter weather. I was a premature baby so when I was younger I was always unwell, as I have grown older I have become stronger, but sometimes your body just needs a little helping hand. I remember the Christmas before last I was working Christmas hours on a Chanel counter in Debenhams and there was this nasty virus going around...I honestly thought I had dodged the bullet but nope...lucky Sophia caught it and I was so unwell. I lost my voice (which has never happened to me before), I had a high temperature and I was just feeling really lousy - it is inevitable around this time of year. So, when Pukka contacted me in regards to taking part in their Winter Wellness Challenge I just had to give it a try...anything to ensure my immune system and body is fighting fit for the upcoming winter months.

The challenge was mainly focused around their very own Elderberry and Echinacea tea, which was a variation I had never tried from Pukka before. Elderberries are hugely effective at maintaining a strong immune system because of their anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. There are lots of research studies that support the protecting properties of this super fruit and champion them as a great way for you to fight off viruses during the winter months. During this challenge, we had to stick to a selection of tips from Sebastian Pole who is the co-founder of Pukka Herb's and also a master herb smith across a 2 week period.

Tip numero uno; Move over Echinacea, Elderberry is the new superfood. To make the most of the protective properties elderberries have to offer, and introduce some of their natural goodness into my diet, I had to incorporate one teaspoon of Pukka Elderberry syrup up to three times a day. The syrup itself didn't have a bad taste at all which made incorporating it into my daily routine so much easier...there is nothing worse than dreading to take something that tastes quite yucky. What does Elderberry Syrup do? Elderberry juice, manuka honey 14+, trikatu and thyme, along with other herbs in the syrup, have been used to help support seasonal health. This concentrated broad-spectrum syrup contains the highest organic grade, sustainably cultivated herbs, carefully selected to bring you the full potential of nature's goodness. Whilst taking the syrup I definitely noticed an increase in my energy levels which was made waking up in these dreadfully dark mornings so much easier which I thought would never be possible.

Tip number two; Stay hydrated. This is easier said than done for me because I definitely don't drink enough water or any other hydrating liquids than I should. As the months get colder, many forget it is important to drink lots of warm water and stay hydrated. It is paramount to maintaining tip-top health because when hydrated, your body finds it so much easier to flush out toxins and fight bacteria. One way to drink lots of water and simultaneously help you stay warm in the winter is to enjoy some tea...and lately I have been enjoying the Pukka Elderberry and Echinacea tea. For a double boost I sometimes added a teaspoon of the Pukka Elderberry Syrup for added flavour and to ensure I had my daily intake from tip number one. The tea itself reminds me of your typical herbal tea and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only thing I wasn't 100% sold on with this tea is the slight hint of licorice taste which stems from the licorice root used in the formulation. I have never been a lover of licorice, however, everyone is different so don't let my opinion put you off.

Tip number 3; Get rest. This is another easier said than done tip for me...I definitely don't get enough sleep as I should and my sleeping patterns are pretty much everywhere. Late nights and early starts can really take a toll on your body if you don't get enough hours of sleep. The body is said to repair and rejuvenate itself when it rests, so it's imperative that we give our bodies the chance to do so. They say seven to eights hours sleep a night is perfect for letting your body's cells, tissues and organs repair themselves and keep your immune system strong. I will put my hands up and say I totally failed this part of the challenge. I work full-time Monday to Friday and I am usually up around 5am every morning as part of my weekly routine. I usually get home around 6pm and, to be honest, I don't usually get to bed until around 11pm and I don't actually fall asleep until gone midnight - not the best sleeping pattern in the world, but I haven't been able to shake this routine - it is something I am definitely working on though.

Tip number 4; Keep exercising. When it's cold and wet outside it's tempting to stay indoors and sit in the warmth (ohh how I know the feeling), but do try to incorporate some kind of exercising into your weekly routine. It's not just to keep fit, but to build your army of antioxidants that will help you fight the viruses that are everywhere during the winter season. Around the time I started this challenge I had just joined a 7-week personal training bootcamp and next week will be my 7th and final week in the program. I can honestly say that the combination of exercise and all of the other tips have really helped me change my lifestyle around is amazing to see your body change when you alter the tiniest of things in your daily routine. I have already signed up to the next bootcamp which takes place in the New Year so I am excited about this new journey.

Final tip number 5; Massage yourself. The cold weather often brings with it aching joints and frozen muscles. To offset this seasonal tendency, massage yourself with warm organic oil. Pukka have an active oil which is perfect for this...simply apply and then finish off which a hot shower. To be honest, I don't suffer from this as much at the moment *touch wood*, however, I have noticed that some morning when I over stretch I can trap muscles in my legs...had anyone else ever experienced this? It is seriously the most painful thing ever but once the muscle loosens it feels so much better.

Overall, I really enjoyed taking part in the Pukka winter wellness challenge and I have discovered some new products that I will definitely be incorporating in my daily routine...I mean there is no harm in taking syrups and drinking specially formulated teas like these on a daily basis when you know they are working behind the scenes to keep your immune system in tip-top condition. I am quite proud of how well I took to the challenge and I am excited about how it has changed the way I feel. I mean, I know I didn't stick to all of the tips religiously, however, just incorporating the tea and syrup alone made such a huge difference. Pukka also gifted me this cute tea tin which I will be using for work from now on. I will make sure to pack it up so I can enjoy some yummy tea throughout the day at work also. If you would like to give any of the products mentioned in this post a try they can be purchased at independent health food stores and The Elderberry Syrup has RRP of £12.49* (100ml) and the Elderberry and Echinacea Tea has RRP of £2.39* (20 sachets).

I hope you all enjoyed this lifestyle related post and diving into the winter wellness challenge. If you found it interesting I would definitely recommend you taking part in your own little challenge...if you do please let me know, I would absolutely love to hear about it all. Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me on my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to read every single comment…they really make my day!

Lots of Love

*PR Sample - Not Sponsored

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Breakfast with Alpro | Simply Plain with a Touch of Almond & Coconut

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and you are having a great start to the week. Not so long ago I was contacted by Alpro to give their Alpro Plain with Coconut and Almond a try, I have collaborated with Alpro previously and working with them has really opened my eye to how quick and easy it is to incorporate a healthy alternative into you breakfast or daily meal routine. You can see my #AlproTops post here and my Alpro Soya Simply Mild recipes here. Even though I struggle (yes I admit it) to keep on top of a continuous fitness routine I am slowly getting there, especially with the help of great healthy alternatives like Alpro products.

Alpro Simply Plain is packed with the plant powered goodness of soya and it a great alternative to natural dairy yogurt. It is delicious alone or paired up with some healthy toppings and is packed full of protein, calcium, and vitamins B12 and D. Now, Alpro have combined the most on-trend plant-based ingredients to create two new taste sensations that will bring your breakfast bowl to life. If you are looking for a unique twist to the typical plain yogurt then look no further. Beautifully smooth and delicious, Alpro Plain with Almond offers, as the name suggests, a delicate hint of almond, whilst Alpro Plain with Coconut adds a tropical twist to create the taste of summer in a bowl. Both are naturally low in fat, low in sugars and are packed full of plant will never feel guilty about it tasting so good!

Before Alpro contacted me, I had actually tried Simply Mild with Coconut before and it was my daily go to for a while as it was so convenient for work and eating at my desk. The great thing about yogurt type breakfasts is that you can simply eat them at home (which I did on this particular day) or pack them up in a little container for on the go (which is what I do for work). Ever since I have been on my little health kick I have tried so hard to incorporate more plant-based products like Alpro into my diet. I thoroughly enjoy the Almond and Coconut Milk variations so giving the Simply Plain yogurt a try was a real treat! I highly recommend you check them out.

Overall, I was completely impressed with the Alpro Soya Simply Plain and I am so looking forward to incorporating it into my diet more. I really hope you enjoyed this post and I would love to hear what you thought and if you are a fan of Alpro products. Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me on my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to read every single comment…they really make my day!

Lots of Love

*PR Sample

Sunday 6 December 2015

3 Things I am Thankful for | The Home Edition

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and you are having a wonderful weekend so far. I am planning on having a super productive Sunday and getting back on track with my blogging duties...oh how I have missed my little space on the internet. As I mentioned in my previous post the last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me with many highs and a few lows. I guess life is a serious of peaks and troughs, but it is all about how you embrace them and move forward. I know thanksgiving has passed and it is not something that is hugely celebrated in the UK, however, it is something that is growing in popularity here and I absolutely love that. So, after some reflection I thought I would share 3 homely things I am thankful for.

1. My Family 

This was a super easy one for me and without a doubt I am incredibly thankful for my Family. Firstly I am thankful for my parents, who have brought me up, taught me values, loved me, supported me and, of course, cared for me my entire life. I just couldn't imagine a life without them...they are a big inspiration to me. I was also blessed with a large family and they are all so supportive, caring and, of course, loving. I am an only child, but I was so lucky to have grown up with my Aunty, Uncle, 3 Cousins and Grandparents living in the same street as my parents and I...we are all in walking distance of each other and I wouldn't want to change a thing. I have incredible memories from growing up and we are constantly making new ones.

2. My Home

I am thankful that I can wake up every morning and have a warm roof over my head and also the fact that after a very long day at work I have a loving family and home to come back to. I am blessed with a wonderful bedroom where I love to seek refuge and shut myself off from the world, but I also have a beautiful blogging space / beauty office where I can be creative and pursue my blogging dreams and goals.

3. My Relaxing Weekends

I am thankful that I can take the occasional weekend off and just switch myself off from everything. Relaxing weekends vary but I am blessed with the fact that I can have endless cuddles with my Yorkie Bella (who is actually sitting on my lap whilst I am writing this post), I have functioning wifi so I can write content for my blog, I can watch typical Saturday night television with the family, order a takeaway, live in my pyjamas and whack the heating on full blast.

Like I mentioned before I have so much to be thankful for in my life...but at home I would say these are the three most important to me. Sometimes these simple everyday things are taken for granted so it was nice being able to have a little ramble to remind myself how truly blessed I am to have these wonderful things in my life. I hope you all enjoyed this simple yet sweet post showcasing some of the things I am thankful for. I would love for you to get involved also so don't forget to share your own...I can't wait to read them. Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me via my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to ready every single comment...they really make my day!

What are you thankful for?

Lots of Love

Sunday 29 November 2015

I Won a Cosmopolitan Blog Award!

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well and you have had a wonderful weekend so far! I am a little late on the bandwagon writing up this post as the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards were over a week ago now, but the last few weeks have been unlike any other and I wanted to sit down and write this post properly for you all. If you follow me on my various social media channels and if you read my previous Cosmopolitan Blog Awards blog post then you will know that I was shortlisted in this year's awards. I said it in my previous post and I will say it again, I never thought in my right mind that I would be shortlisted again this year and for two categories, I lack so much confidence in myself and my blog to be able to say I am worthy for awards like this. I work full time so blogging doesn't always have my full attention, but I just love having my little space on the internet to be able to write away, share my thoughts and meet like-minded people. Being shortlisted for awards doesn't happen very often for me...I swear I have the worst luck in the world but I feel so blessed being part of the awards this year. So, if the title of this post didn't already give it away...I am incredibly proud to announce that I actually did it...I WON a Cosmopolitan Blog Award and here is the full story!!

Before we head into all of the awards evening natter I wanted to talk you through my run up to the awards (this is going to be a really chatty post haha). This years awards will be no doubt unforgettable for me, not only for the fact I won but because I got to share it with one of my blogging best friends...India from The Jewel Beauty. When the shortlist was announced and I saw that we were both shortlisted I messaged her straight away as I knew this would be the perfect time for us to finally meet! After pretty much starting our blogs at the same time and talking pretty much every day these past few years, it was so lovely being able to finally meet my berrie (long story but this is what we call each other haha) and blogger in crime. We got planning straight away about what we wanted to do and we decided to make a day of it. I travelled down to London the Thursday morning and then travelled on to meet India at Paddington station. Once we had finally met it was as if we had known each other forever and not as if this was the first time we were actually meeting. After meeting we decided to head to our hotel, The Marylebone which I feel needs a review in itself - our room was out of this world and I would highly recommend the hotel to anyone! Once you walked in from the door you were greeting with a gorgeous and spacious living room which led onto another room which housed the Queen sized bed which then led on to a huge ensuite which had a shower and bath! I was totally regretting the fact I didn't bring any Lush bath bombs with me! We decided it was probably best to drop off our bags at the hotel so we could do some exploring, grab some lunch and make our way to our hair and makeup appointments.

Our first stop was Harrods and suprisingly we were both very good and didn't splurge at all haha. We literally just walked and walked for hours talking non-stop and catching up on pretty much everything. Whilst planning our trip beforehand we decided to visit Laduree for lunch - I have been a few times before but on this ocassion we had a table inside and ohh my goodness it was incredible. Everything from the decor to the food was just out of this world - if you ever get the chance I would definitely reccomend you stop by, even if it to pick up some Macaroons...which is what India and I did also haha. We both decided whilst we were in London that it would be a great idea to get our hair and makeup done - just feel completely pampered for a change. We didn't get round to pre-booking our hair appointment so we made a few phone calls whilst at lunch and managed to get an appointment at the Harvey Nichols Hershesons Blow Dry Bar. We both opted for big bouncy curls and both walked away incredibly impressed with the service and final look. I swear I have never known anyone to curl my hair so quickly and for it to look imaculate - I believe she used the Tourmaline Professional Waving Tong (which is currently out of stock *cries*) and I am seriously considering adding this to my hair tools collection. Once our hair was ready we literally jumped straight into a taxi to head over to Selfridges for our makeup. India very kindly arranged our make-up appointment and we decided on Charlotte Tilbury. This was the first time I had ever had a full face of Charlotte Tilbury makeup and I was so pleased with how everything came together. My makeup artist was Adebola and we decided to create a hybrid look featured the Bombshell and Golden Goddess. As my dress was a pinky nude shade we opted to pair the look with a similar lip...we firstly opted for the famous Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk and topped everything off with Penelope Pink. This is such a gorgeous pinky nude that I personally think would look incredible on everyone. I actually ended up purchasing the lipstick and also the brow product that Adebola used on coming your way shortly. I was so pleased with the final look and how well the makeup lasted throughout the evening.

Lunch, Check. Hair, check. Makeup, check. Once we had finished up with everything we headed straight back to the hotel, changed into our dresses and were ready to take on the night. The awards took place at One Marylebone which was absolutely stunning. I believe it was once a Church so the decor inside was stunning and added so much character. I don't think the Cosmopolitan team could have chosen a better venue, it was gorgeous. So, you've heard about my hair and makeup, now it's time for the outfit. I literally could not find a dress for the awards and I didn't actually find one until the week before. I was actually in New York at the time and I was browsing through Forever 21 when I came across THE dress. It came in a pink nude shade and also a grey but I decided to opt for the lighter option and I am so glad I did. I just checked the Forever 21 website (UK and US) and I actually can't find the dress online anymore. Hopefully this is just a glitch with all the sales currently running for Black Friday and Cyber Monday but hopefully it will pop online again soon. You couldn't really see my shoes but I opted for a pair of light pink platform heels from River Island. As my dress was long I needed something to nsure my dress wouldn't be dragged across the floor and of course so I couldn't trip over myself (I can be quite clumsy). I then opted for a mixture of of which was my camera even though I took hardly any photos that night haha.

Fast forward and it's time to announce the winners. First up was the 'Best for Beauty' which was my first category. Unfortunately, I did not place in this category and I did feel a tad deflated (I am sure anyone would feel the same) because beauty is a huge part of my blog BUT never the less I still felt incredibly lucky to even be shortlisted and to even be in the running with some amazing bloggers. I want to say a huge congratulations again to Alice from Tea Party with Alice for  winning Highly Commended and to Brogan Tate for winning the overall category and for coming Highly Commended for Best Vlog - I adore both of their blogs and I think the awards couldn't have gone to a nicer pair - it was so deserved! Next up was the 'Best Use of Photography' which was my second and final category. I don't really remember a lot about this as I literally spaced-out with joy, excitement, name it and I was probably feeling it! The next thing I hear is 'Sophia Meola' being called for Highly Commended and thinking did they really just say my name?! Like really?! It honestly took me a good few minutes to register everything and actually start walking on stage. I remember walking up on stage (which was a challenge in itself...the step was really wobbly), completely shaking and feeling like I was on cloud 9! I collected my certificate and frame, posed for a photo (I havent seen this yet but no doubt I look like a dear in headlights) and made my way back to the crowd honestly feeling like I needed someone to pinch me. I can sometimes be quite clumsy so I am just so thankful I didn't dress was super long and my heels were quite high so I don't know how I managed that haha. The congratulations I received when making my way back into the crowd was incredible and I want to say a huge thank you again to everyone for the kind messages...I never dreamt I'd be in this position! I could ramble on and on about the evening but honestly I don't even think I have the right words to express how I was feeling that night and how I am still feeling...I am just so grateful! Then, if that wasn't enough, at the end of the night we were presented with a spectacular goodie bag housing a slection of products from Cosmopolitan. I was then also presented with a Remington goodie bag (they sponsored the beauty category) featuring a fabulous new styling tool that I just can't wait to share with you. It honestly felt like Chistmas had come early. When myself and India headed back to the hotel after the awards, we ordered some room service and dived into the bag...literally gasping with excitement at every product we pulled out!


So, did this all actually happen?! It honestly still feels like a complete dream to me and I still can't believe I walked away with an award and I can finally say I am an award winning blogger haha! According to Cosmopolitan this years awards had the biggest voting count EVER with numbers in excess of 64K - WOW! I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been there and supported my blogging journey and of course to anyone who took the time to vote for me - it means the world to me. As you know I didn't place in the Beauty category but I did walk away with Highly Commened for 'Best Use of Photography' and I am over the moon. If you read my blog the you will know that one of my blog New Years resolutions was to improve my photography and receiving this award makes me that tiny bit closer to achieving my goal. I have walked away feeling so motivated and I can't wait to get back into my blogging routine after a few hectic weeks and bring you some fabulous new content. Thank you so much again! I also want to say a huge congratulations to all of the girls who were at the awards, it was honestly so lovely finally meeting everyone. I didn't get round to seeing absolutely everyone *cries* as the night went increibly quickly but I am sure we will all see eachother again soon.

Shoutout to all of the lovely girls I met on the night! (so sorry if I have missed anyone)

India - The Jewel Beauty
Kristina - Creepers and Cupcakes
Emily - British Beauty Addict
Rosanna - Rosanna Pierce Makeup
Whitney - Whitney's Wonderland (I didn't get to see Whitney on the night but I am so proud of her for coming Highly Commended in Best for Fashion!) 
Brogan - Brogan Tate xo
Maddie - Mode Madeleine
Alexandra - Glamoclock 
Stephanie - Snapped Up  and Kate - Pure Irish Sugar representing Cocoa Brown Tan
Anjalee - Two Different Worlds 
Kacie - Rare Welsh Bit

If you have made it this far then thank you so much for sticking around and reading all the way through. This is a pretty chatty post so I really hope you enjoyed reading. Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me via my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to ready every single comment...they really make my day!

Is there anything you want to see from my blog? A particular review, Q&A or something else? I would love to hear your thoughts :)

Lots of Love

Saturday 28 November 2015

A #VerySpecialSomething Gift Guide

Hello My Lovelies, 

I hope you are all doing well and are having a fabulous week so far! Long time no speak I know, but the last few weeks have been pretty crazy that I think I needed some space to reflect on everything. What’s been going on? I will have a full blog post explaining all coming your way shortly, however, this will cover my surprise Birthday trip to New York, a personal reflection and the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards! Now, as we are heading into the festive season I love nothing more than self-indulging in a few treats, however, I also love indulging in a spot of shopping and treating all the special people in my life. I have put together a little gift guide featuring an array of products from that I know you are just going to love! The great thing about is that they stock pretty much everything you would need under one convenient website. They stock a huge selection of different brands and most of the time they have some pretty fantastic deals on offer…they currently have a 3 for 2 on a wide range of products at the moment. So, grab a cup of tea and let’s explore the website!

First up we have these Babyliss Thermo Ceramic Heated Rollers and for £29.99 these are an absolute steal! I have my very own set, which I purchased a good 5 or so years ago and *touch wood* they are still going strong. They were the first ever heated rollers I  tried and hands down they are still a holy grail product of mine that I can always turn to as they never disappoint. Give the gift of fabulous hair this Christmas with this easy-to-use heated rollers set! Next we have these gorgeous Tresor Paris Titanium White Crystal Ball Stud Earrings. These are a subtly beautiful design that makes the perfect accompaniment to any daytime or evening outfit. These earrings are set with dazzling Tresor Paris crystals and for £19 they would make the perfect gift or lovely treat for yourself. Yankee Candle is the world's best-loved scented candle manufacturer and with perfectly good reason. Each candle fragrance is carefully crafted to evoke the spirit of each season, or to rekindle precious memories and they are sure to make your home warm and inviting wherever it happens to be. This deliciously creamy Vanilla Cupcake scent will remind you of a tasty bakery with hints of lemon and buttery icing! You may think £22 is quite pricey for a candle, however, these large Yankee Candle jars offer rich delicious scents with 110-150 hours of burning time! Alternatively, you also have the option to choose between a few different sizes, which I think is a great touch. I have a few of the small jars so I can get a taste of a scent before committing to a larger size. 

Next up we have a fabulous personalised gift that will only set you back £10! There really is nothing like a spot of retail therapy, so make sure that special someone in your life is ready to grab those bargains with this personalised lightweight canvas bag. With the new legislation with carrier bags here in the UK, this would make the perfect stocking filler for anyone with a serious shopping addiction. I love carrying around canvas bags in my handbag, you hardly notice they are there and eventually saving on all those 5p bags will add up…plus, it will, of course, help the environment. Ever since I picked up YSL Black Opium Eau De Parfum back in April I have not been able to stop wearing it – it is such a gorgeous fragrance! This is one of the latest released by YSL and is an ultra glam fragrance consisting of floral notes, black coffee, white florals and vanilla. I don’t think I have ever known perfume to be super affordable, so this is another super indulging product within this gift guide – 90ml which I believe is the largest bottle size is £80, however, as the formulation is very potent this is sure to last you a very long time. If you have read my blog for a while then you will know how much I adore rose gold. When I saw that Daniel Wellington created a rose gold toned coloured strap ladies watch I instantly fell in love. Daniel Wellington watches are very much loved throughout the blogging community and, to be honest, they never really appealed to me until now – the rose gold has captured my heart haha. Each watch is a stunning classic timepiece that has a delicate design, which will suit everyone’s wrist. I am a huge fan of watches and I wear one pretty much every day so for £99 this is such a great deal and would make the perfect treat this Christmas.

What would this Christmas gift guide be without a scarf?! I for one absolutely adore scarves and I would love to receive this multi-check designed one this Christmas. For £14 it comes in at a great price and the fact that it is out of stock proves how popular it is this season. It is a great alternative to a Burberry esque design and is currently on a 3-for-2 offer! There is just something so special about Tom Ford and their fragrance line. I for one have always wanted a Tom Ford fragrance, however, admittedly their high price tag has always swayed me away *cries*. This 100ml Black Orchid Woman Eau De Parfume is currently on offer with a £22 saving at £88 which sounds so much better than the original £110 price! This luxurious and sensual scent features rich dark traces of black orchid and spices to complete a modern and timeless fragrance that is sure to leave a mark wherever you go…plus, if that wasn’t enough just look at the gorgeous black and gold design! Treat somebody special to a vintage tea party with this set of vintage chic teacups. The set itself includes two ceramic cups and saucers, which are decorated with a beautiful floral print. I am a huge fan of tea and sometimes using a pretty cup and saucer just adds a special little something. Packaged in a pretty presentation box and coming in at £13 this set would make such a cute gift.

This Ted Baker Glitter Bow washbag would make the perfect gift for any beauty junkie looking for a new makeup bag this season. I have one from a few years ago and the stiff structure and plastic design makes it ideal and pretty much indestructible *touch wood*. This particular design is a gorgeous taupe shade with delicate flecks of rose gold (which of course I had to include) that I am sure anyone and everyone are going to love. If anyone friends or family are reading this post…hint hint! ;) Another Ted Baker to add into this mix is this Oriental Bloom Touchscreen pen which is a fabulous multifunctional product perfect for someone on the go or for someone at the office. If you know me personally then you will know I have an obsession with cute stationary so when I saw this special piece by Ted Baker, I just could not let it go by. At £25 it is definitely up there with pricey stationary, however, you are receiving more than just your average pen. Of course you are paying for the Ted Baker name, however, you are also receiving this beautiful oriental design with the added bonus of a stylus and matching pouch.  Next up we have the second personalise gift within this gift guide…and one Carrie Bradshaw would approve of. When a gift is personal it means so much more, so this sterling silver name necklace would make the perfect gift this Christmas. This necklace is carefully crafted in a scroll type design and can be designed to say anything as long as it is within 10 letters. At £20 this is such a great deal as I know personalised necklaces can cost in excess of £100+ depending on where you go and, of course, the metal you opt for. I was very lucky to receive a personalised 24k gold necklace from my late grandparents for my Communion when I was younger and it is something I will always cherish.

Lastly but certainly not least we have this gorgeous GHD V Arctic Gold Dry and Style Gift Set. This is the most expensive item in the gift guide coming in at £195…but oh so worth it! This gift set includes a hairdryer, GHD V gold classic styler, heat mat and artic gold gift box. The straighteners feature smoother gold plates that glide effortlessly through your hair to make straightening on all hair types and lengths even quicker and easier. Then you can also get gorgeous hair in double quick time with this air professional hairdryer. The perfect gift for any hair styling junkie or for someone striating out their hair styling journey. Either way if anyone is offering me this fabulous gift I would definitely not refuse haha!

Overall, I really hope you enjoyed this gift guide. I wanted to include a variety of different products at different prices so I really hope there is something that caught your eye. I would love to hear your thoughts on the products included and what you currently have your eye on from the website. Make sure you share your wish list via social media using the #VerySpecialSomething hashtag and drop those hints haha! Like always lovelies, if you have any questions, requests or if you just want a chat you can contact me via my social media or leave me a comment below. I love hearing from you all and I make sure to ready every single comment...they really make my day!

Lots of Love

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