Friday, 22 December 2017

How to Balance Your Workout with Your Diet

How to Balance Your Workout with Your Diet
Image via Unsplash

Guest poster and fabulous fitness blogger at, Sam Olivier, shares her wisdom on something that many of us (me included) have struggled with: getting the balance between workouts and dieting right.

‘Tis the season for reflecting on our decisions in the past months and making new promises for the upcoming year. Let’s not call them resolutions, but lifestyle changes, because that is precisely what they are – your need to improve your wellbeing and it’s a process that will last a lifetime, not a single year. And as the pinnacles of healthy living, well-tailored nutrition and exercise go hand in hand in order for each separately to take any effect on any aspect of your existence, not just weight loss.

Unfortunately, sticking to your fast food choices while going to the gym will have as little effect as eating all healthy but never moving a muscle. So, in order to avoid the pitfalls of random binges and slumbering around all winter-long with the promise to “start on Monday”, if you strike the right balance between these two aspects of wellness, you’ll be able to jump on the bandwagon of continuous personal progress.

Define your meal plan

It’s not just about the calories. Not everyone is looking to shed a few pounds, many of us simply aim to have more energy, improve our immune system, get rid of bloating, or boost our skin health. So, the amount of your food does matter, but it still isn’t the only aspect of your diet to care for – craft a rich meal plan to include enough micro and macronutrients every day based on your needs.

Infuse your days with movement

Exercise, or a healthy life for that matter, doesn’t start or end in the gym. Do your best to move more every day: take the stairs, stretch in the morning, walk or cycle to work, have walk and talk meetings, dance more, jog with your pooch, instead of a coffee date head for some rollerblading or volleyball. Just keep your mindset in motion!

Think fresh and whole

Make small tweaks to your diet, such as swapping fried eggs for boiled, or going for a fresh salad instead of fried veggies. In general, ditching processed foods that contain too many chemicals, additives, synthetic fragrances and aromas will help your body transition to a clean eating regime of fresh and whole foods. The less processed they are, the better they are for your mind and body!

Less sugar, more water

Energy drinks, sugary juices and sweetened coffee are your health’s worst enemies – they pump your body with energy only for a brief time-window, only to make your mood plummet very quickly, making you sluggish and drowsy. Reward yourself with a glass of water every time your reach for a sweet treat or opt for sugar-free coffee, and you’ll soon realize how much your body loves H2O!

Do your homework

Before you join a gym and find yourself puzzled by the basics, you should spend some time learning about your best exercise options, look for quality gym wear online to keep your workouts safe and comfortable, decide on proper warmup and cooldown routines, find protective gear and other essentials. Outline types of exercise, numbers of sets, reps and rest periods, HIIT sessions and strength-building. Only then can you walk into a gym and rest assured that your workouts truly count.

Seek guidance from experts 

If everything you’ve read online has only made you feel even more confused, don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from experts. After all, that’s what they’re there for! Ask your close friends or family if they can recommend someone, or find someone with experience, but a certified personal trainer can be of great help both in helping you define your current physical abilities and setting the right milestones to track your progress as you go along.

Don’t fear the weight room

Most ladies stick to the cardio section, for various reasons, very few of which make any sense. If you’re healthy, haven’t suffered an injury, haven’t had a surgical procedure or anything so severe, your body will benefit from added resistance. Start small, increase gradually, and don’t be afraid of compound movements such as the deadlift and the squat, because they are incredible for burning fat and building strength.

Define your why, not just your how

A psychological element that often determines how committed we stay to our new lifestyle choices is the reasoning behind them. Why are you doing this? To gain confidence, be healthy, have more stamina, be happy about your appearance? Whatever your motivation may be, it needs to resonate with you, and not be some vague “I should have better posture” idea, because it will fade away. Making these changes is hard enough as it is, so make sure there’s passion to fuel you when challenges arise.

Visit Sam Olivier's website at


Sunday, 17 December 2017

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals
Image via @kateanne
Although this is a very merry time of year, we often forget about the many wild animals of the world who are tortured for entertainment, killed for their skins or other body parts, or who have their environments detroyed. Not only that, but the pets who are abused, neglected or abandoned, with no loving family to take care of them. 

We take so much from animals, and not all of us give enough in return. So, this Christmas, why not think about purchasing a gift or two from one of the UK's many wonderful animal charities, and tick a good deed off your list? There are lots of useful gift ideas available, from cosy slippers to power banks. Browse through my list below and click the links to go directly to the charity website.

Note: NONE of these links are affiliate links. I have no desire to make money off charity.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals
1. Colour Changing Nail Polish Kit, £7, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Why settle for one colour of nail polish when you can get a polish that changes with your mood? This kit contains polishes scented with peach, vanilla, mint and cherry - so your nails can smell nice too! Plus, look at the super cute little characters on the front.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

2. Hot Cookie USB Cup Warmer, £9.99, Blue Cross

Hate that feeling when you realise you've forgotten to drink your tea - well, worry no more! This keeps your drink warm at 50 degrees Celsius whilst plugged into your laptop, so you can enjoy your hot drink without a care in the world.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

3. Power Bank, £13, Born Free

We rely on our phones so much these days, that the thought of them running out of battery is, frankly, terrifying. This handy, bag-friendly phone charger comes with a micro-USB and can hold enough juice for one full charge.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

4. Mindfulness for Every Day, £8.99, Dogs Trust

With our increasingly busy lives, mindfulness is something that we should all be practising on a daily basis. This book from the Dogs Trust contains simple mantras, tips and stunning imagery to help you de-stress and minimise your anxiety.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

5. Large Organic Jute Bag, £6, Marine Conservation Society

If you've seen Blue Planet II, I don't need to tell you that we need to drastically reduce the amount of plastic we use, otherwise we will destroy our oceans as we know them. This jute bag is made with organic material, and is sturdy enough to carry your grocery shopping without the need for a plastic bag.
10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

6. Pug Purse, £3.50, National Animal Welfare Trust

If you know someone who loves pugs (hint, me, if any of my friends are reading this!), this pug purse will be a perfect gift. It's 11x15.5cm, which is ideal for coins, notes and cards, or small items of makeup.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

7. Latte Mug, £7 each, RSPB

If a latte is your drink of choice, then this is the mug for you. It's 400ml, which is tall enough for a super long, cosy drink, and comes in a handful of beautiful designs.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

8. Bay Tree, from £25, RSPCA

This bay tree is sure to add a touch of architectural foliage to your garden, and doesn't need much trimming. However, when you do trim it, make sure to add the leaves to your cooking for delicious flavour!

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

9. Fluffy Dog Slippers, £15.99, World Animal Protection

With the days and nights getting colder (has it snowed where you are yet?), now is the perfect time to buy your loved one some slippers. After all, no one likes cold feet. And these dog shaped slippers are too cute to pass up!

10 Christmas Gift Ideas That Will Help Animals

10. Elephant Tagua Nut Necklace, £25, WWF

Did you know that around 55 elephants a day are killed for their tusks? The horrific ivory trade sees these beautiful, majestic and historically and environmentally important animals brutally mutilated and left for dead. It makes my heart ache. But the WWF has created these necklaces from sustainable tagua nut to imitate the colour of ivory - showing that there really is no need to harvest ivory for decorative (or any other) use.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Christmas Eve Party Outfit Idea

Christmas Eve Party Outfit Idea

Christmas Eve is so exciting: the festive atmosphere, the fact that most of us [not me unfortunately] don't have to think about work for the next two days, the anticipation of a lovely day of relaxation and food (emphasis on the food) igniting the air. Sometimes Christmas Eve can be more exciting than Christmas Day itself. So what could make it even more special? Dressing up, of course (hey, you came to this blog for fashion, right?)

I was gifted this very pretty Tobi velvet romper which comes in black and features a raised red velvet floral pattern. This colour palette is perfect for a winter night out! On the website, the model is wearing just the jumpsuit and some strappy heels, however since it's SO COLD here I've paired mine with a black, long sleeve turtle neck top worn underneath the romper, plus some tights and some red suedette block-heel shoes from New Look which are out of shot. You can find similar ones here, but you could also Dorothy this outfit up with some glittery red heels - because Christmas.

Christmas Eve Party Outfit Idea

Guys, I can't stress this enough. I'm indoors in these shots but please wear a coat when you go out. I know it's annoying to carry it about when you go into a bar or club but just take a pound for the coat-check service and store it there - you'll thank yourself later.

If you are looking for coats, there are so many great options available right now. Monki has some nice oversized pieces if you really value your warmth, but if you're keen for your coat to match your look, try River Island, Zara or go for another piece from Tobi.

Christmas Eve Party Outfit Idea

I've also belted this romper at the waist with a spare black and gold belt I had lying around. I felt that this needed cinching in a little, as my hips are on the larger side in proportion to the rest of my body and so rompers tend to look a little block-like on me.

Otherwise, the fit is great. I'm a size 8 and I picked a size Small, which I would say is great for a size 8 up to a 10. When you take it out of the packet, it does look a little small, but there is actually quite a lot of room as the waist is quite stretchy.

Christmas Eve Party Outfit Idea
This cup is not full of gin
What do you think about this outfit? How do you like to dress on Christmas Eve?
Want more? Read my last Christmas Day Fashion post with another beautiful piece from Tobi!



Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Day Outfit Idea

Christmas Day Outfit Ideas 2017

With temperatures dropping and Storm Caroline wreaking havoc throughout the UK, I'm sure a lot of us have firmly packed away any trace of summer clothing and begun swathing ourselves in various incarnations of the chunky knit, fulfilling our collective need for that hygge sensation. I'm one of those weird people that kind of likes this weather; I'm definitely not a warm-weather person. I live for cosy outerwear in soft fabrics and dark colours - and deciding what to wear on Christmas day (my favourite day of the year) is one of my guilty pleasures.

Christmas Day Outfit Ideas 2017

Comfort is always a priority on Christmas Day - it's a day for relaxing, which you can't really do in a smart or formal outfit. I like to wear clothing that is warm and easy to move around in, so that means avoiding tight jeans and definitely no heels (I save that for Christmas Eve and New Year).

However, although comfort is important, I like to stay fashionable - even if I'm just at home with the family. Call it high maintenance, but when I'm looking back at photos in twenty years' time, I don't want to think, 'God, what was I wearing?' I kind of like the idea of my future children enthusing about how fashionable I was.

Christmas Day Outfit Ideas 2017

To fit both of these criteria, I've decided that jumper dresses are my go-to Christmas outfit. No faffing around with pairing a top to a bottom - your look is already completed in one piece. You can find these lovely garments in a wonderful range of winter colours (seeing as they're generally quite out of place in a summer wardrobe), and this Tobi jumper dress* is ideal for me. It's a gorgeous red wine shade which goes well with black, or you can add even more colour with a festive emerald green.

Christmas Day Outfit Ideas 2017

I'm wearing mine with an H&M coat (similar here) and bag (similar here), as well as some cosy knee-high boots - and, obviously, tights are a must. I've read recently that you can get cystitis from being too cold, so I'm wholeheartedly valuing my feminine health here.

I love wearing my hair down and curled during this time of year. In the summer, the curls in my hair drop almost immediately due to the humidity, so I like to take advantage in winter. Plus, I've just had my hair dyed back to a very dark brown from its previous green state, so it's looking far healthier and shinier!

Christmas Day Outfit Ideas 2017

Christmas Day Outfit Ideas 2017
* Gifted for review

What do you think about this outfit? How do you like to dress on Christmas Day?
Want more? Read my last winter fashion post which includes another beautiful piece from Tobi!



Thursday, 7 December 2017

Upcycling a Wooden Cabinet with Rust-Oleum Furniture Paint

Upcycling a Wooden Cabinet with Rust-Oleum Furniture Paint

I've had this cabinet in my family for well over three decades. It was bought secondhand, so it's probably much older than 30 years, and I think it was once part of a set. I remember it being in my parents' house when I was little, before being given to my sister, who then gave it to me.

I don't know whether it's because of my age, or just my preference in aesthetic, but I really don't like the dark wood on this cabinet. I don't think I like it in any situation, in fact. I just think it looks quite dated. Maybe it'll come back in fashion - who knows - but, for now, I've decided that the dark wood look just doesn't work for me. Some of you might think it's a travesty to 'upcycle' such an old piece of furniture, but I say that you should love every piece of furniture in your home, therefore if you don't love dark wood, upcycle it.

I knew straight away that I wanted to paint this cabinet a light colour to give it a new lease of life, and also to fit in with my decor. After looking at many different paint colours and finishes (and consulting my partner who, as a teenager, was the go-to paint guy at our local Homebase), I decided on Rust-oleum Chalky Furniture Paint in a soft, light Winter Grey. The paint has a super matte, chalky texture to it - definitely not recommended if you're going to be using the surface of the cabinet a lot, as scratches will be pretty obvious.

I started off by laying down an old blanket (as I'm in a flat, I had didn't have the luxury of doing this outside), and parking the cabinet on top. I used a sanding block with a fine grain to remove the shiny varnished finish, then went straight in with the paint. The great thing about this paint is that you don't need a primer, and you'll only need a maximum of two coats.

Upcycling a Wooden Cabinet with Rust-Oleum Furniture Paint

I bought a 50mm brush and a tester pot roller set with a plastic tray as I didn't need a huge roller, however, I found that it was much easier to use a brush with this paint as I couldn't load enough paint onto the roller to achieve an opaque layer. It was also far easier to use the brush on the more detailed areas on the front of the cabinet, but I would recommend rummaging around for an even smaller brush for very fine details.

Upcycling a Wooden Cabinet with Rust-Oleum Furniture Paint

After the first coat, I left the paint to dry for four hours before reapplying. Following that, although the paint was touch dry after two more hours, I left it overnight before moving it into its place in an alcove in my flat. One 750ml tin was more than enough for two coats. I'm not sure what I'll do with the rest - can anyone suggest any new projects for me?

I'm super happy with how this turned out - not only is it an extra bit of storage for my living room, but it's also a very pretty piece of furniture which fits in with my decor. I've laid out the costings below:

Rust-Oleum Chalky Furniture Paint, £12.99
Rocket Sanding Sponge, £1.49
Tester Pot Roller Set, £2.15
50mm Paint Brush, £1.50

TOTAL: £18.13

What do you think of my upcycling? Let me know what you've upcycled lately!

Upcycling a Wooden Cabinet with Rust-Oleum Furniture Paint



Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Hair and Makeup at Darren Scott Salon, Maida Vale

Hair and makeup by Darren Scott Salon, London

When I got an appointment booked in with Darren Scott at his salon in Maida Vale, London, I was fangirling like crazy. Darren has worked with Katy Perry, AlunaGeorge and Jourdan Dunn, so of course I knew that I would be in more than good hands.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I had this booked in specially for my birthday last month - and I wholeheartedly recommend booking with Darren if you have a special event coming up.

I already had some ideas in mind of how I wanted my hair and makeup to look when I showed up at the salon. I had seen a hairstyle on their Instagram profile which I though was really fun and different, so I asked Darren if he could recreate this on my hair and he was more than happy to! He started by washing my hair using gorgeous Shu Uemura products, then curled it and set the curls using (lots and lots of) clips. He left some hair out to create the braids and buns on top of my head, which were the fun, finishing touches to this style.

We then moved onto makeup. Now, I don't usually get my makeup done professionally (I generally prefer to do it myself, even for photo shoots), but I was so floored by how perfect my makeup was when Darren did it. I genuinely don't think my skin has ever looked better. I asked for a dewy base with a black smokey eye and eyeliner flick, and that's exactly what I was given - I couldn't have been happier.

I noticed that Darren used the Laura Mercier Radiance Primer - the product which made my skin look super glowy - and also Stila's Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Molten Midnight for my eyes. I've now bought both of these myself and they've definitely become makeup bag staples (although I'll probably never be able to recreate my makeup to Darren's amazing standards!).

Throughout my appointment with Darren I was made to feel welcome and comfortable. We chatted about hair, work and my birthday weekend plans, and he made sure that I was happy with the final look. Of course, we took some selfies at the end of my appointment to show off my new style! To see the process of how this look was created, watch the video below:

Visit Darren Scott Salon at:
117 Shirland Road, Maida Vale, London W9 2EW



Monday, 27 November 2017

Hygge: Cosy Fashion for Winter 2017

Hygge: Cosy Fashion for Winter 2017

It's autumn 2017, and I think by now we've all seen the word 'hygge' appear in some shape or form. If you haven't, hygge is a convenient Danish word (pronounced hue-guh) for something that has a certain cosiness to it. It's a little more than a feeling - although that's what we, as the non-Scandinavian variety, tend to pigeonhole it as - hygge is more like a state of consciousness, where you're relaxed, secure and contented with the present moment. It has a simplicity to it: hygge can be the act of lighting candles in your living room, or slowly sipping a cup of hot chocolate in your favourite chair. You can even find hygge in a homemade stew, or a dressing gown that's been hanging in the airing cupboard.

For many of you reading this blog, fashion might be the way to achieve a sense of hygge this winter. Take the humble chunky knit; a quick Google search drums up 22.7 million results for this phrase, and you can spend hours scrolling through thousands of chunky knit jumpers, scarves and cardigans on Pinterest - I think I even saw a skirt on there once - which means that plenty of us are on the fashion hygge bandwagon.

Hygge: Cosy Fashion for Winter 2017

If you've been on the search for the perfect chunky knit jumper yourself, you'll have probably spied the hundreds of imposters on the high street. The ones masquerading as chunky when in fact they're thinner than the ice you're standing on when you don't reciprocate your mother-in-law's Christmas
card. Either that, or they feel so synthetic that you'd become worried about standing next to an open  flame (there goes those candles I mentioned). What we all want is a proper chunky knit - one which engulfs us but at the same time looks premium quality and super chic, like February-New-York-Fashion-Week-street-style chic.

When I picture my perfect chunky knit jumper, it most definitely has an absurdly long turtle neck which I can bunch up to my ear lobes, as well balloon sleeves that are big enough to look deliberate, but small enough to fit under a coat if needed (no one wants to look like they've forced their arms into a jacket that fit them perfectly fine the month prior). Finish off the look with a warm neutral shade and I'm sold.

Hygge: Cosy Fashion for Winter 2017

Is it too late to mention that I'm describing the gorgeous Tobi jumper that I'm wearing in these photos? I have to admit, I'm just a little bit in love with this. The silhouette is perfect, and the rips up the sides are a surprising addition to the aesthetic. Not only does it look cosy - it feels cosy. I've been wearing this both with coats and without, and I've felt nothing but toasty. Here, I've coupled the jumper with a pair of black, pinstripe, wide leg trousers from Bershka, some black, heeled ankle boots (which you can't see due to the length of the trousers), a black bag from H&M and some pink tinted glasses from zeroUV. This is a semi-casual look which I wore to go to the cinema with my boyfriend; however, I could easily wear this to work and feel both stylish and comfortable.

This is just one way you could wear this jumper, but I've also paired it with ripped, light blue denim jeans and white plimsols, as well as black skinny jeans and thigh high boots. The thing about chunky knits is that they're versatile - throw one over a sequin mini dress you bought last year, et voilá: you've got a whole new outfit.

What would you pair with a chunky knit jumper? Let me know in the comments below!

Hygge: Cosy Fashion for Winter 2017



Sunday, 19 November 2017

How to Make Your Nail Polish Last Longer

Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer by Jen Lou MeredithAfter trying gel nails, I have to admit that I went off regular nail polish for a long time. I didn't see the point in wearing it - I could get gel nails at my local salon for £15, along with a manicure, and the results would last two weeks. No chipping, no fading, no waiting for the polish to dry. 

However, it was a while before I realised that, actually, gel nails are a lot more impractical than I thought they were. £15 every two weeks racks up to £390 a year. £390 spent on nails. You could buy a holiday with that. On the other hand (quite literally), one bottle of Roxanne Campbell's Nail Lacquer - my new favourite option - will set you back just £10 and last you a good 20-30 applications.

Not to mention, I'm so fickle when it comes to colour. One day I'm all about the neutrals, the next I feel like Nicki Minaj performing Super Bass at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Show, so as you can imagine sticking with one colour for two weeks can leave me itching for a change.

Now, when it comes to regular nail polish there's still the problem of chips, which isn't a sight anyone wants to see. Without seeming too prim and proper, chipped nail polish just looks untidy. However, none of us have the time to sit there and reapply nail polish every time it chips, which is why you want to get it right first time.

I talked to Roxanne Campbell, founder of her namesake brand, and nail artist to the likes of Adele and Jourdan Dunn. She has worked with some of my favourite designers, including House of Holland, Acne and Karen Walker, and even recreated the national flags on the nails of competitors at the 2012 Olympics. Roxanne gave me a few pointers on how to make your nail lacquer last longer, keeping those chips at bay for 4-7 days.

Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer by Jen Lou MeredithROXANNE SAYS:

1) Wipe your nail plate with acetone nail polish remover using a cotton pad. This will remove any trace of product or oils. Nail prep is the most important step to ensure your nail lacquer doesn't chip as fast!

2) Apply one thin coat of RC Base Coat. This will protect your natural nails from staining.

3) Apply one to two coats of your chosen colour for full coverage.

4) Apply RC Top Coat. This will protect your nails, create a super-shine finish and prevent your lacquer from chipping fast.

Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer by Jen Lou Meredith

I painted my nails on a Wednesday evening, following Roxanne's instructions, and sure enough they only started to chip on Sunday - mostly on my right hand, which is the hand I use most.

If I were to add to the above tips, I would advise you to try dabbing the brush on the top edge of your nail to 'cap' off the polish. I've found that this helps prevent chipping on the top edge of the nail. Also, try not to pool the polish at the bottom of the nail as this will create a thick layer which will be prone to lifting and peeling. Follow these rules, and you should be set!

The polish I'm wearing in the image to the left is Roxanne Campbell's Nail Lacquer in Stormy Weather, which you can find on the brand's website (available here).

Do you have any nail polish tips? Let me know in the comments below!



Monday, 13 November 2017

How to Take Better Photos of Food

Today is the age of the food blogger. Sit down in a restaurant for twenty minutes and you're bound to see someone taking photos of their freshly prepared fare, whether they're a blogging pro with 20k followers or an occassional Instagrammer with a private profile. Why do we do it? Because food is the new fashion, with plenty of eateries making their dishes look Instagram-ready so that you - prior to devouring - can upload it to social to brag to your friends and, in turn, provide the restaurant or café with free marketing. Yup, everyone's at it, from New York-based Cha Cha Matcha's millennial pink and green interiors to Starbucks' name fails - make your food (or drink) go viral and customers will fall over themselves to eat it.

But because everyone has a cameraphone these days, and they're all taking photos of their food, how do you, as a food blogger, make your content stand out? Well, for every 100 blurry iPhone shots taken with flash lighting (bleurgh), there's one thoughtfully planned out image which makes you want to turn on the stove and rustle up something equally delicious (or step out to your nearest Café Rouge). In that image, you'll usually find natural lighting, interesting composition and a pleasing filter - as well as the most important part: a tasty dish.

I chatted with chef and author Anna Barnett (right, creating the perfect dippy egg at a workshop at Food at 52 with Heritage Breeds), whose moody food photos have attracted over 19.5k followers on Instagram. Anna's theme consists of mostly neutral tones with a pop of colour, like a bright orange egg yolk or a juicy green pear. Her shots of the food she cooks are often taken from above, but she juxtaposes these with pictures of architecture, interiors and even her very fashionable outfits. The main thing I noticed about Anna's Instagram account is that she's always playing with texture - a raw, wooden table here, a marble mosaic tray there - making every shot interesting for the viewer.

In this post, I'm going to go through three photography elements that Anna, and many other food bloggers, consider when they're taking their food shots. Remember these each time you take a photo of your food, and they'll hopefully help you put the 'hot' back into 'photography'.


Before you position your dish, take a moment to think about the composition of your photo. Where are you going to take the shot? Will it be on a table, a tray, or even a richly coloured ottoman with a blanket loosely draped over half of it? Decide whether you want your background to play a large part in the image or whether you want your food to do all the talking. Popular backgrounds for food photography include marble and wood, but you might want to try something different, like polished concrete or glass bricks.

Once you've established your background, think about props. Ask yourself, 'What would make this photo that little bit more interesting?' Maybe it's a pretty blue saucer that you found at a vintage market, or gold cutlery that you picked up from Zara Home. As Anna told me, however, try not to add in things that you wouldn't actually use while you're eating your food - it'll just look strange. Instead, try candles, bouquets of flowers or cookery books. Position them so that they're slightly out of the frame - too many props lining up with each other or with the edge of the frame can look forced.

Once you've got your props, position your dish. It's a good idea to do this last, so that you can eat it right after you've taken the photo without having to worry about my previous two points. 


Straight off the bat, Anna told me that good natural lighting is key. Why? Because it shows off the subject how it was meant to be seen - not with dodgy blue/yellow/red tones. Also, natural lighting will usually cover all areas of the photo, allowing you to achieve even tones throughout.

You might think that taking your shot outside is the logical answer, however, too much natural light can be a bad thing - especially if it's really sunny, as it can cause high levels of contrast or wash the details out of your image. Instead, take your photo near a large window, so that the light is filtered and not too strong.

If you can't use natural lighting because it's late in the day (or you've decided to have a midnight snack), use white or slightly yellow lighting to achieve a similar effect to natural light. Beware of shadows, though.


Even pros edit their photos. You might think it's a bad thing to edit, or use a filter, but it's not. As long as you're not distorting the photo so far that you might as well have stolen an image right off Google, editing is the best way to put the final touches on your image.

If you're a rookie, start off with filters. If you haven't used them before, these are presets which allow you to add a 'look' to your image without fiddling around with details. Good apps for filters are VSCO, Snapseed and Enlight.

If you want to get a little bit more advanced, try using apps like Facetune or Filterstorm Neue. And there's always Photoshop if you can afford the software.

Below are two examples of food images that I've edited, the first using DSLR and the second using a Samsung Galaxy S7:

I shot this using a Canon 600D, then used a curves layer in Photoshop to dull the highlights and lift the shadows slightly. After that, I imported it into Facetune on my phone. I cropped the image, then used the Whiten tool to remove the yellow tones from the surface. I then used the Patch tool to remove the crumbs, before importing it into VSCO to apply the A6 filter to about +10.9. 

I shot the above image on a Samsung Galaxy S7 and imported it straight into Facetune. I cropped the image to get rid of extra hands, glasses and kitchen tools, then toned the surface using the Whiten tool. I used the Patch tool to get rid of a mark on the table, then used the Details tool to sharpen the details on these wonderful Heritage Breeds speckled quail eggs.

After that I imported the image into VSCO and applied the HB2 filter at full level.

How do you edit your photos? Let me know in the comments section below.



Thursday, 26 October 2017

Nuxe Shimmering Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Shimmering Dry Body Oil

If your French is a little rusty, you'll be pleased to know that I have a translation for the title of Nuxe's bestselling product, Huile Prodigieuse. It means 'extraordinary oil' - and I've been thoroughly testing it just to see how extraordinary it really is.

I love my oils, possibly a little less than I love creams (and definitely less than I love balms), but I still love them. I feel like you can control creams a little more, whereas I always overestimate the amount of oil I use in one go, leaving me slathered, rather than nourished. Nuxe's Shimmering Dry Oil, however, is one of a few exceptions to that rule. With its spray nozzle, rather than a pump, this product limits your usage to a small spritz instead of a goopey mass of oil, allowing a smooth, non-greasy finish for your skin.

I say 'non-greasy', because this is definitely a dry oil - as it says on the packaging. It feels dry when you rub it into your skin, which is a odd sensation (a neither pleasant nor unpleasant one). And after application, it feels as if nothing is on your skin. It's that light.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Shimmering Dry Body Oil - Before and After

For those of you who love a that shimmering holiday tan, this is an ideal product for you. It screams 'hot summers on a Greek island' (minus the sunstroke, tequila hangovers and falling into the pool wearing wedges that only see the light of day once a year). The Shimmering Dry Oil not only provides you with a very light bronzing effect, it also features a shimmer - and, no, it's not glittery - which only slightly indulges your fantasy of becoming a Victoria's Secret Angel.

On Nuxe's website they suggest mixing this in with your foundation or dabbing a little onto your cheeks and the bridge of your nose for a highlighting effect. They also encourage using it as a hair oil. However, I would stick to using this on your body. I tried mixing a spritz with my foundation and it just ruined the consistency, making it ultra fluid - and using it as a highlighter just made me look as if I had a dirty face. This could be because my skin's so light, so if you have darker skin and you've found that this works great as a highlight, please leave a comment so that others can find out!

Using it on my hair wasn't such a good idea either. My hair has very damaged ends, very oily roots and an extremely dry scalp (basically it's a mass of problems), and this oil didn't seem to do much to help. The Shimmering Dry Oil did seem greasy when used on the ends of my hair, which is strange because it works so well on my skin. I think I'll stick to L'Oréal Professional's Mythic Oil before I can find something better.

When it comes to the scent, this product puts me off. It's VERY floral, a lot like Grandma's perfume - or L'Huile de Leonor Greyl, if you've ever tried it. However, I would think the scent comes from the 95.5% natural ingredients used in the formula, including seven oils which comprise: tsubaki oil, almond oil, camellia oil, borage oil, hazelnut oil macadamia oil and argan oil. Great for your skin, not for your nose.

But hey, some people might like it.

Nuxe's Shimmering Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse retails at Boots at £29 for 100ml, or £20 for 50ml.


Barry M In The Glow Tahitian Body OilLiz Earle Superskin Dry Body OilNuxe Huile Prodigieuse Shimmering Dry Body Oil

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Live While You're Young

 Live While You're Young by Jen Lou Meredith

When do you start to get older? When are you officially 'old'? When I was in my teens, I thought that people in their twenties were old. I thought that being old meant having your life together - having a full-time job, buying a house, getting married. Now that I'm finally in my twenties, I don't have any of those things. And I know many other women just like me who also don't have those things. So where does that leave us? When are we supposed to feel like we're adults? What even is 'adulting'?

With a rocky start to my twenties, I felt like it would take a lot of hard work to get my life back on track. I tried my hardest to 'be more adult'. I tried to save as much money as possible, to shy away from socialising and drinking with my friends, and spent most of my days and evenings working or Googling things like 'best mortgage rates uk', etc.

Live While You're Young by Jen Lou Meredith

I started dressing more conservatively and speaking in a certain way in the hopes that people would take me more seriously, to make them think that I was older or that I knew what I was talking about. The truth is, I don't know what I'm talking about, most of the time. Do any of us? 

I was faking a more 'grown up' life in order to convince myself and the people around me that my life wasn't falling apart. Why? Because I was afraid that people would say to me 'look, you're [insert age here], you should really get things together and stop acting like a teenager'. I was constantly paranoid that other people were going to judge me and make me feel terrible for not leading a more successful lifestyle, because I already felt terrible - but if I could convince others that I was right on track, then I could escape judgement.

Live While You're Young by Jen Lou Meredith

After a time I realised that this way of living was just plain exhausting. Essentially, it's lying, and keeping up a facade after telling a lie is always more exhausting than telling the truth and dealing with the consequences. So I decided to own my age, and own the way I live my life. Because who writes the rule book? Who said, 'at X age you should be doing X'? Who said that you need to feel like you're under constant pressure in order to succeed in life? 

Live While You're Young by Jen Lou Meredith

Your life, your rules. And if you feel young, live young. Laugh really loud in public, eat pizza and ice cream, daydream. And, more appropriate to this blog, dress how you want. I've decided that I can wear smart trousers and a blazer if I really want to, but at this moment I want to wear a hoodie, ripped jeans and a camo jacket, and go to an arcade and take pictures of my outfit because it's bomb. 


Missguided White Flatform Trainers Missguided Chicago Graphic Cropped Hoodie Missguided High Waisted Mom Jeans Missguided Khaki Camo Embroidered Jacket
zeroUV Horn Rimmed Flat Lens Clear Frame Sunglasses

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