Share the love... Small acts of kindness

It’s all about the positive vibes. Filtering them into our lives and radiating them out to others. With so many simple and easy ways to share the love, it’s easy to bring joy to the world around us, working both inside and out. So what are the simple things we can do to share the love and brighten the mood?

Smile

It’s simple but effective. Sharing a smile can lift the mood of those around you as well as giving yourself a boost. It’s easy to do so there’s no excuse not to.

Compliments

When you see something you like about someone, be it an outfit, an action or a personality trait, let them know. You might just give them the lift they need that day. Perhaps you could give an unexpected compliment... something most people wouldn’t notice or point out!

Encourage and motivate

So many people concentrate on tearing others down either subtly or directly so why not be that counter person who builds others up instead, helping them to fight the insecurities, challenges or negative comments?

Learn how to change your own emotions

We all have bad days but if you can find a way to pick yourself up and get through, you might be able to help someone else. By doing the same for them or offering advice, they may just be able to change their mood and create a positive attitude... it could even be an ongoing benefit!

Listen

Offering a friendly ear even if you can’t help the situation may just be what someone needs. Be an active listener! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of actually being listened to, knowing your words really matter to someone.

Pay it forward or backward

If you have the means to do so, you could make a stranger’s day by paying for their product. Perhaps at a drive through or petrol station, you could pay for their order without seeking gratitude, so when they go to pay it’s all done, it might even start a chain!

Offer a helping hand... literally!

Giving an emotional boost can be a huge help but so can a physical help. You could help someone move, give them a lift or help out with some work they need to do, anything you can do to make things easier.

Greetings

A simple hello, wave or smile to greet a neighbour or colleague can be a great start to the day or to the interaction, giving you both the satisfaction and positivity you need.

Applaud achievements

Success is great even when kept to yourself but it’s often better when someone acknowledges your achievement. Why not be that person for somebody else? A simple ‘well done’ can add to that proud feeling of success.

Learn to laugh with others

They say laughter is the best medicine so why not give yourself and those around you a healthy dose? Bonding over a funny moment can bring you closer together as well as putting a positive spin on a difficult day.

Be kind, grateful and polite

It seems so simple but being kind to those around you is such an important thing. Even through life’s challenges, remaining kind, grateful and polite can have a ripple effect amongst those around you, encouraging more positive behaviour.

Limit complaining

It’s so easy to complain to others when things don’t go to plan but too much can be damaging to all parties involved. Spinning things into a positive verbally can change your outlook mentally.


Making some of these small changes can not only have a positive effect on those around you but also yourself, it may be the change you need to make!

Have you experienced these from someone else? How did it feel? Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments so we can help each other out!

Don't forget to follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner if you like what you see and want to see more from me!

Love,
Steph x

Azul Sensatori Negril: Hotel Review

From the moment we stepped onto the bus to Azul Sensatori Negril, we were welcomed warmly, setting the tone for an amazing fortnight in Jamaica. I don't usually review hotels here but it left such a pleasant taste that I can't not share my experience! (Perhaps I'll do more in the future?)

Food and Drink

As a vegetarian, I normally struggle finding food I like and can eat when abroad so, often end up eating salad and chips every day. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself able to choose from an array of dishes both in the a la carte and buffet restaurants. Breakfast was particularly great with everything you could ever want- I was a big fruit, egg and bagel fan myself- although not all together, I hasten to add! The hotel had 7 different restaurants so you never feel like you're eating the same foods or even in the same environments but if you do find one suits you better, it's good to be able to go back to with no limitations.


Gym

The gym was incredible... one of the biggest hotel gyms I've come across. It had enough to do various full workouts without having to think too much out of the box. We went 6 times in total giving a good rotation between arms, legs and core and even managed to vary the routines within the focus which proved the high quality of the gym. Like everywhere else, it was kept clean and generally well maintained, offering towels, fruit and water for guests.
We also liked to reward ourselves after a workout with a stop at the smoothie/cafe/dessert bar in reception to pick up a Banana Nut Blast Protein Shake which, I highly recommend if you find yourself visiting!
The hotel also offers the likes of pilates and boot camps on the beach but we didn't get round to trying these out... maybe next time ;)

Beach

I'm usually the last person to spend time on the beach, the sand sticking everywhere, the salt water and the sea creatures... it's just not for me so I was a little apprehensive when I realised there were very few sunbeds around the pool and instead were all on the beach. With encouragement from others, I did find myself entering the sea and actually going to the furthest point within the closed off section within the first hour of settling on the beach. Although it was terrifying for someone afraid of the sea, like myself, I ended up enjoying it and paved the way for the rest of the holiday. The sea was so clear that it helped to reassure me, the salt water wasn't irritating (unless of course, it got into the eyes or mouth) and the depth was manageable throughout the whole section and actually, remained pretty shallow going further out too.
The beach activities were also a lot of fun with paddle boards, kayaks, sail boats, a floating bike (kinda thing) and a 'big mabel', there was plenty to choose from. As a premium guest, you could use the majority of the non-motor activities for no extra fee and could even use the sail boats if you've had lessons before or can pay for one lesson and then use them for no extra cost for the remaining visit. The 'big mabel' was particularly entertaining which allowed up to four people to sit on the inflatable seat and be pulled along by a boat. Whilst some guests fall in and some stay on, I think this mostly depends on the drivers and whether they want to tip you in, we had said we didn't want to go in and they stuck to this whilst my brother and dad fell in on their go. It was terrifying at times but so much fun and something I'd love to do again!

Staff

The staff were incredible, they certainly made the hotel and the experience better. As a whole, they were friendly, attentive and good at what they do. The bar staff made great cocktails both on and off the menu, many of which would also be good to talk to as well; the chefs clearly knew how to make delicious food; the housekeeping staff ensured rooms were kept clean as well as other places around the hotel; the maintenance staff kept the hotel in tip top condition, regularly topping up paint, checking things are functioning and fixing anything broken; the waiters and floor staff ensured you were looked after throughout your meal; the entertainment team put on great performances that differed from a typical all inclusive to show the likes of fire dancing, excellent singers and bands, musical quizzes, trapeze artists and many more; the sports staff helped you access the likes of kayaks, paddle boards and even a boat ride to the island; lifeguards ensure the beach is well kept and safe; you even get a welcome and send off with a group of staff... the whole staff community is just amazing. They really know what they're doing and encourage smiles whilst they do it. Of course there are a few exceptions like with everything but for the most part, they really add to the experience.

Room

We stayed in the premium section so although I saw one of the other rooms, I only saw it briefly so can't comment on specifics related to that (although it did look fairly similar). The room we stayed in had a king size bed, sofa area, table and chairs, tv, two large wardrobes, a safe, mini fridge (items at no extra cost) and an ensuite room with a shower. The balcony area had a view of another hotel building, the pool area, the beach to one side and a water park to the other (I don't believe this is in use anymore). All in all, the room seemed to be of high quality and well kept (check the video down below to see the room!) It certainly made for a lovely stay.
 

Concerns

The only real issue we found was with the premium section as it was originally sold to us as being adults only which resulted in one particular guest not being able to attend however, when we got there it was not the case at all... the premium section, beach and pool area had plenty of kids around which was pretty annoying given the circumstance. Originally, members of our party moved from one building within the section to another due to excessive noise which again wasn't great. We also found it difficult to get sunbeds within the premium section sometimes and found supposedly exclusive areas to not really be exclusive as well as there being less available to us as we had believed based on original bookings/enquiries. As lovely as the rooms were, I don't believe it to be worth the extra money as there is very little difference in what else you get and the rooms elsewhere are just as nice- plus you can get adults-only rooms if that's what you desire. The exclusive features mentioned aren't really that exclusive as other guests have the same opportunities either deliberately or accidentally. However, it's important to note that this is a misselling from the UK rather than a fault with the hotel in Jamaica. Within the premium section, certain rooms are also rather noisy as well but this depends on the room and I suppose the guest's awareness/sensitivity to the noise.

You can see more of the room and hotel generally in my video below...


If you fancy seeing the wedding we went out for, you can see that here...


And if you want to see the final video including the things we did outside of the hotel, you can see that here...


Azul Sensatori Jamaica was an amazing hotel all in all and made for an excellent holiday destination as well as being a beautiful setting for the wedding. It's definitely somewhere I'd love to go back to so highly recommend it as a destination if you're looking for a Caribbean break. Although it's all-inclusive, it doesn't lose the 'Jamaica' feel and wouldn't be the same if it was picked up and placed elsewhere.

I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right hand corner to see when I next upload. Thanks for reading!

Love, Steph x

P.S. Sorry for the delay in uploading this, it's been pretty busy recently but I'm trying to get back into it over Summer and start regularly uploading again! Once again though, I am generally more consistent over on my YouTube channel so if you want to see what I'm up to there, you can click here!

Travel Bucket List

As I recently uploaded my travel list for 2018, including a few places I'm less likely to get to this year (a girl can dream though, right?), I also wanted to share a few places I'd love to visit more in the future (although, near future would be fab)!

Switzerland- Interlaken I've never been particularly bothered about visiting Switzerland but as I was supposed to visit last year, it has made me more determined to go. Budapest had never been on my list and turned out to be one of my favourite places so the thought of missing out on somewhere else with the potential to capture my heart makes me more intrigued and excited to replan a trip. I'd love to go to Interlaken as originally planned but anywhere would be great to explore as it seems like an interesting country in general.
Italy- I would love to visit Lake Garda, it looks a beautiful area and Italy itself just seems to be home to so many amazing, gorgeous locations as well as the most delicious food! There are a number of Italian areas I'd like to visit but Lake Garda has to take the number one spot. I've also had Sicily recommended to me which has definitely made me want to visit the island even more than I already did. The diverse food and culture seems incredibly appealing and like an amazing place to visit, particularly in Summer.
Croatia- I already mentioned my desire to visit Croatia in my last post but I wanted to go a bit more into detail as there are so many different places I want to visit within the country as well as a few things I'd love to do. I really want to go to Omis and do the zip wire they have there as it seems like a lot of fun with an incredible view. I'd also love to go to Plitvice and explore the national parks with their beautiful lakes and little waterfalls as well as going to Zadar to hear the sea organ. As for other locations, I'd love to visit Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Zagreb.
Rio de Janeiro- This used to be top of my travel bucket list and although it has slipped down, I still think it would be a great place to visit! I'd love to experience the carnival in Rio but the city as a whole seems to be bright and full of energy. The high crime rates do make me more wary about visiting the area and as a result, it's not somewhere I'm looking to go to in the near future but something I'd look into more in years to come.
Caribbean- The Caribbean looks so beautiful and although I have Jamaica to look forward to, there are several other islands in the Caribbean that I think would be amazing to visit!
New York- This city isn't highest on my list but it seems like a place you have to experience for yourself. I'm yet to find someone who's been and not loved it, so I'm sure I'd be the same. I love the shopping culture but like a lot of people, I would most like to go around Christmas. Max Brenner, the chocolate bar/restaurant also looks like a place I'd have to visit if I did go!
Northern Lights- Not a location as such but I would love to travel somewhere where I could see the Northern Lights as I think it would be an amazing experience. I know it isn't always possible to see it as I've tried once before and couldn't but it would be exciting to eventually see them.
New Zealand- I'd be really interested in visiting New Zealand as the culture seems so different to here... it looks like a beautiful, adventurous country which only makes me more intrigued.
Prague- I've heard a lot of good things about Prague... it appears to have a lot of beautiful architecture as well as an amazing cafe culture that I'd love to experience.

I'm sure there are plenty of other locations I could put on this list but that completes it for now. Have you been to any of these? If so, what did you think? I'd also love any other recommendations you might have.

I hope you enjoyed this post, perhaps it's given you some travel inspo? If you did enjoy this post and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload.

I will also be uploading various travel videos on my YouTube channel, so if you fancy subscribing so you get to see those as they go live, you can do so here.

Love, Steph x

2018 Travel Plans

There are so many amazing places to see and as last year brought a few travel adventures, it's only made me more excited to travel and more eager to book new trips. 2018 already holds a number of planned trips and I'll hopefully be adding to the list in the near future. As March kicks off the travel plans, it seemed an appropriate time to share them with you (although I did also visit Slovenia in January which was a great trip).
Disneyland- I have booked to go to Disneyland this year and as I didn't end up going on my interrail trip last year, I am very much looking forward to going in 2018! I haven't been to Disneyland Paris for almost 15 years so I'm excited to see what it's like after such a long time. As a huge Disney fan (aren't we all!), experiencing the magic of Disneyland is like nothing else and a feeling I can't wait to relive.
Jamaica- What I imagine to be a highlight of 2018... I am going to Jamaica for a friend's wedding where I'm also a bridesmaid. I can't wait to share the day with the bride and groom in such an amazing setting. However, not only will I have the wedding to look forward to but also the time we'll be spending there as a family- sipping drinks in the sun, reading by the pool, dipping in to cool off... sounds like heaven!
Amsterdam- After visiting Amsterdam twice last year, I'm looking forward to going back with my course to see more of the city and experience Journalism in a different country. It'll be good to see some of the sites I've not yet visited as well as return to some of my favourites.
Sziget- I visited the Hungarian festival for the day last year and had an amazing time, seeing so much of the island but leaving a lot to be discovered. I'd also love to explore more of Budapest as it's a city that well and truly captured my heart. I would love to be able to go back again this year for longer and although this might not be possible, I hope to make it happen.
Croatia- Although this is less likely to happen than the other trips, I hope I manage to plan a trip to Croatia as there are so many exciting things I planned to do there last year. I really hope to go back and eventually do all of the things I would have done originally which, I doubt will happen this year but if possible, I'd like to visit and at least see the country, perhaps ticking a thing or two off of my list.
Iceland/Italy/New York/away for 21st- With it being my 21st this year, I'm hoping to do something special to celebrate the big birthday. One thing I'm considering is a trip somewhere but as it's in the cooler months, I'm still deciding where to go... Italy is currently my favourite option but Iceland and New York aren't far behind so if anybody has any thoughts on these places or has any other recommendations, please let me know in the comments as I'd love your input!

Have you been to any of these places? If so, what did you think of them? Have you got any travel plans this year? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did and you want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload.

Love, Steph x

Kingsman The Golden Circle

With its recent DVD release, it seemed like an appropriate time to share my love for Kingsman The Golden Circle and perhaps encourage anyone who hasn't seen it yet, to give it a go!

Kingsman is a franchise like no other... The first seems to be a film that no one had heard of and everyone loved. By that I mean, I know no one who saw it in the cinema, I don't even remember hearing the name or hearing whispers of the trailer yet most people I know have watched it and of those people, only one didn't love it (and he has a very different approach to films). 

The humour blended with the action makes for an exciting story that you can't help but love. It's bonkers, absolutely ridiculous and yet it works. You can definitely expect the unexpected in both films- perhaps even more so in The Golden Circle which, contains everything you could possibly imagine! The British charm mixed with the crazy stunts is intriguing as a viewer and makes forgetting the film a very difficult task. 

Taron Egerton shows versatility with his ability to play (and play so darn well) as various forms of Eggsy- how one can pull off the scruffy look and the suited, classy spy so well? He puts the wink in cheeky chappy. 

Colin Firth is as lovable as ever in both films and definitely adds a bit of class to the movie. 
I must admit, I'm not a huge action film fan, although I do love action comedies, but I know I'm not alone when I say this film is great nonetheless. The fact that I watched the film because my best friend really wanted me to, and she watched it because her sister really wanted her to and we then encouraged my housemate to watch the second (having never seen the first)- it speaks for itself. You know a film is good when word of mouth makes it a success rather than expensive marketing or advertising. 

The emotion, excitement and humour fed into The Golden Circle makes it an ideal watch. 

Let me know your thoughts on the movie or any recommendations you may have! If you enjoyed this post and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload. Thank you for reading this post.

Love,
Steph x

Veganuary: Switching to Cruelty Free Cosmetics

With January bringing about goals and resolutions, it’s the perfect time to make a step towards a lifestyle change… Dry January, joining a gym or how about becoming a Vegan? January, or Veganuary, as it’s also known, is not only good for trying a vegan diet but it could be the perfect time to start swapping your cosmetic purchases to vegan or cruelty free.

According to Soap and Glory’s Frequently Asked Questions response, ‘it’s important for you to know that no retailer or manufacturer can categorically state that ‘none’ of their raw materials or ingredients have- at some time in the past- been tested on animals.’ With this in mind, there are some beauty brands that host a Leaping Bunny logo, have signed the PETA pledge or avoid testing on animals or including animal products but don’t associate with a cruelty-free organisation.

Although some brands don’t test on animals in Britain, where it was banned in 1998, they do sell to China where animal testing is a legal requirement and therefore are not considered a cruelty free brand overall.

Each individual has a different perception on what cruelty free is so with the help of this post, you might just find the right brand for you. Whilst some brands are PETA registered, their parent company isn’t classed as cruelty free so it’s up to you to decide which brands you want to shop with.
Soap and Glory
Although not on the PETA list, Soap and Glory say, ‘we absolutely do not test our formulations on animals, however we can’t say that each and every ingredient that goes into them has not, at some point historically, been cleared for human use, by animal testing.’ Offering a range of skincare, bath and body products as well as makeup, it might be a brand worth checking out if this meets your needs.

Bare Minerals
Despite the fact that the parent company, Shiseido, is not cruelty free, Bare Minerals is PETA approved and offers a number of beauty products. The brand creates a range of mineral-based cosmetics ‘powered by nourishing, skin-loving minerals… with purity in mind.’

NYX
As an official member of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, despite its parent company, L’Oreal, choosing to sell in China, NYX has a number of makeup products ranging from primer to mascara to metallic lipsticks. At a drugstore price, the brand originating from Los Angeles is now available in most large Boots stores.
Urban Decay
Another pledge for PETA’s cruelty free campaign, Urban Decay are slightly pricier but worth the extra splurge with a host of popular eyeshadow palettes as well as many other incredible makeup products.
The Body Shop
Offering vegan brushes as well as a number of body and face products, The Body Shop was sold to Natura Brasil in 2017 which is also reportedly a cruelty free brand. As the ‘first global beauty brand to fight against animal testing in cosmetics’, not only are their products cruelty free but they actively fight to bring an end to animal testing and currently have a petition to help this cause available here if you’re interested in signing it. 
LUSH
The popular bath products brand is well known for being cruelty free but, did you know they also sell a number of makeup items as well as a few scents? LUSH state that they ‘do not buy raw materials from any company that tests anything on any animals’ and that ‘materials purchased by LUSH do not contain animal derivatives that are unsuitable for vegetarians’, the full policy on animal testing can be found here.
Arbonne
As a vegan certified brand with cruelty free formulas, the company offers botanically-based skin care products as well as makeup, hair care and general personal care. Arbonne ‘have been on a green journey for 37 years’ and do not support animal testing. To get your hands on the products, you go through an Independent Consultant who will help wherever possible and will organise your order. Keri Wood, an Arbonne consultant can be found here.

Tropic
A brand that works in a similar way to Arbonne, with ambassadors on hand to help with enquiries or to place an order from. Tropic don’t test on animals ‘or cause them distress by using derivatives such as lanolin, beeswax or honey.’ Certified by The Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International, they offer skincare, bodycare and makeup! Vanessa O'Neill, a Tropic consultant can be found here.
Advice from others:
"For cheaper makeup I go to Superdrug. Makeup Revolution, Barry M and ELF have vegan products and Superdrug do student discount. Another place to look is TK Maxx and Home Sense as they sometimes get vegan ranges in- they regularly have Sukin and Faith in Nature. Vegan fairs are a great place to try and buy makeup and skin care and you are supporting ethical vegan companies that way... I tend to spend more on foundation as I find the cheaper ones do not last well. I really like the Kat Von D lock it foundation as a little goes a long way. It is expensive at around £27 but the assistant there gave me a good tip to mix it with a little primer so it lasts longer and gives a lighter finish." -Alison Townsend

Switching to vegan or cruelty free makeup doesn’t have to happen all at once either, "after deliberation I used up the products I already had purchased and then phased in cruelty free alternatives over time." -Jennifer Dudley

"I try my best to be cruelty free with my cosmetics, it’s been difficult though. I often find that Amazon has the answer when I can’t source things! Superdrug has sorted my lotions and potions needs." -Casey Brennan

With so many cruelty free beauty brands available, it may not be as difficult as it first appears. There are still plenty of other options out there too. The likes of Liz Earle, YesTo and Too Faced all offer cruelty free products as well as a number of other brands so for a list of companies supported by PETA, you can look here.

I hope you find this post helpful, if you have any advice or recommendations, feel free to share them in the comments to help myself and others! If you did enjoy this post and want to see more from me, you can follow my social media links in the top right-hand corner to see when I next upload. Thank you for reading this post.

Love, Steph x
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