Recreating seasonal hot drinks at home.

I love hot drinks and have at least three cups of tea each day. To some that may seem like loads or to some it may seem like hardly anything at all. A warm drink is like a hug in a cup so when the Autumn/Winter months roll around, the red cups in Starbucks come out to play it can only mean one thing; seasonal drinks time!!

I love a gingerbread latte, the subtle warmth and spiciness makes me feel so cosy. Or a black forest hot chocolate puts me in the wintry mood instantly. In an effort to save money because those £3 coffee shop treats do add up!! I’ve decided to try and recreate these at home for a fraction of the price, you can make them just how you like them, to impress family, friends and guests at home plus you could put it in a funky travel mug for commuting to work or college.

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore TK Maxx/Homesense and they stock SO many gorgeous homeware pieces and such an interesting foodie section. I used to be a little bit sceptical of the food section in a TK Maxx, where was it all from? How long had it been there for?? But then I thought if I thought the same about foods in an actual Supermarket would I actually want to know that answer? Probably not!

They stock so many wonderful teas, coffees and so many syrups too. They have such a huge variety of them as well so you’re literally so spoilt for choice. Most supermarkets and even some coffee shops like Costa stock bottles of syrups you can add to your hot drinks to make them that extra bit more decadent.

I want to share with you a simple, easy way of making barista style drinks from home and you don’t need any fancy machinery. I got ya covered!

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So for a super rich hot chocolate I usually measure the milk out in the mug I’m using and warm it in a pan with a split vanilla pod and the seeds scraped out on the hob. Bring it to the boil and then add in 1tsp of cocoa powder and 40g of chopped dark chocolate shards per serving. Stir it all together off the heat and whisk it vigorously til it’s frothy on top. If you wanted to add a syrup you could pop one or two pumps into the bottom of your glass/mug/travel mug/shoe/I do not mind what container you use. Or you could put it straight into the milk before you warm it.

To make this extra decadent you could use equal quantities of cream and milk or if you want it extra chocolatey try using a chocolate milk with the same quantities of chocolate shards, cocoa powder and cream.

To make a white hot chocolate just don’t add the cocoa powder and substitue the chocolate for white chocolate instead. If you’re aiming for mad gainzzzzzz try using a skimmed milk or oat or coconut mylk with a scoop of chocolate/unflavoured/vanilla protein powder and some chocolate and cocoa powder.

If you’re like me and are lowkey obsessed with the black forest hot chocolate, use your normal hot chocolate and add a pump or two of

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Ok so this was the one that I was most looking forward to because it is super simple to get a frothy coffee at home. Without any technical thingymibobs and you can totally show off to your guests with your fancy pants coffee. If they want a ultra tricky macchiato with camel milk welllllll you’ve come to the wrong blog but I can teach you a simple way to make a latte.

So not too dissimilar from the hot chocolate, I pour milk into the cup/mug/glass whichever receptacle of choice measuring out how much I’ll need. I usually fill it about 3/4s full. I love a milky coffee.

I boil the kettle and add a teaspoon of coffee granules into a mug. At that point if you want any sugar, syrups, jazzy bits etc now is the time to add that in. Fill the cup about a third full and mix it altogether making sure all the coffee granules have fully dissolved and it’s smooth.

Going back to the milk bit,  you can either warm it up in the microwave first or wait to shake it up first. I actually then put it into a protein shaker or the breville active blender (use some sort of bottle or container with a lid that can also go in the microwave) and shake the milk up for about 30 seconds until its grown frothy and bubbly on top.

If you’ve warmed up your milk first you can then shake it up and pour it into the glass or if you haven’t you can then warm your shaken up milk in the microwave until hot.

Pour the milk straight into the glass and then quickly pour the coffee on top of that. Careful not to knock out any of the lovely froth. If you want to make better coffee art then I do, as you pour the coffee, pour it narrowly down one side of the glass and then filter it off into the middle and it’s supposed to make a heart shape.

 

If you want to get your hands on some syrups or extras or even find some great places to get some teas/coffee granules/syrups other than supermarkets, tea shops or the OG TK Maxx I’d recommend:

Next Day Coffee

Discount Cream

The Protein Works

Skinny Mixes

Verde Coffee

Cardiff Sport Nutrition

Syrups and Stuff

You can also try Amazon or just using food essences or even more naturally with herbs and spices, I love popping in a cinnamon stick. So yum!

MUCH LOVE. X

Blogger Recognition Award #3

Hiya you! Yes you! This whole blogging thing is a bit mad sometimes isn’t it? Look at me typing away right now as if we’re actually having a conversation, cos to me we are having a conversation right now, like two middle aged women catching up on the high street. Plus you guys are my pals, my internet friends, some of the coolest people I know and why wouldn’t I want to stop and say y’alright love to you!? Anyway enough about me and that weird ramble…How are you? Have you had a good week? TELL MEEEEEE?!

I’ve only been nominated/tagged in another Blogger Recognition Award haven’t I?! This was from Michael who I actually began chatting to from a twitter chat, I think it was the CBeeChat actually which is on Monday evenings! It was really great fun to chat to likeminded people and make new Blog connections and friends. He has a really great blog (just here, give it a read, love it, inhale it, all the above) which I’d really urge you to check out plus he is active across his social media channels so feel free to send him some LOL gifs on my behalf please and thanks.

It sounds really cringe, probably massively so to everyone else, but it does genuinely warm my heart when I get nominated or mentioned for anything for my blog or even a #FF on twitter or Instagram. It makes me feel so proud that I am getting recognised by my lovely fellow bloggers among the blogosphere.

Anyway! So if you’re new around here or new to the blogging biz, the Blogger Recognition Award is basically an idea that started up (I should really have looked more into the history surrounding this before I started chit chattering on about it) in order to recognise, celebrate and share 15 of your favourite bloggers to let them know how brilliant they are. Share why you started blogging and two tips you’d give to newbie bloggers. I really wish I came across this type of post when I first started blogging.

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Why I started blogging:

So this is a short story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I became the creator of a blog called What Abbie Says….LOL sorry about that it had to be done. So I started blogging back in 2012 actually on a completely different blog page under a different name and I was only 17 at the time and I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Not that I really do now to be honest! I used it as somewhere to share my thoughts on everything from nail varnish to my Topshop hauls to why I decided not to go to University. I took a bit of a backstep from it as life kind of got in the way and then I restarted here last year. From the beginning I never really thought of blogging as something more than a hobby or something to do to share my thoughts and feelings on pretty much anything that I wanted. I’m passionate about writing and creativity and have always wanted to be a writer of sorts. I’ve never really given it much consideration about if this could ever become a full time thing or give me a fixed income. Obviously if it did it would be amazing but I’m not holding out much hope at the moment!

If I had to share two pearls of wisdom with a new blogger:

  1. Have fun. Don’t worry about keeping up with the others in terms of what your blog should look like, what you should write about, how you should photograph things. It is your space, make it yours and as long as you’re happy with it, babe you do what you want! If you want to talk about model airplanes DO IT, if you want to write about why peanut butter is so much better than almond butter then DO IT (and you’d have my complete and full backing on cos peanut butter is honestly the glue that holds my life together)
  2. Self Promo. This is something I really need to get better at and usually post a link to a latest blog post once or twice onto my twitter page and that’s it. To get the best engagement for your blog, be your own showman and PR and leave a link on you Instagram bio if you want other bloggers, PRs and brands or readers to find you that way then it’ll be so much easier. Similarly sharing your blog links via Pinterest or Bloglovin’ does wonders in getting long lasting views!

I’m going to nominate a small handful of wonderful bloggers that I follow. These guys really deserve so much more credit and praise and I wish I could promote them or be a cheerleader for them day in day out but I might look like a bit of a weirdo and like a crazy fan. Which is half true. No shame. Well without much further ado. I’m going to tell you about some of the best internet people this side of Shane Dawson.

Vixxy

Laura

Shay

Kamilah or K (I don’t know which one she prefers but either way she is VERY cool and I stan her pure existence)

Kate

Lyd

Ar (After days of an extensive search turns out that’s just a nickname and there’s me with my Dorset twang pronouncing it like ARRRRRRRRRRRRR)

Hannah

I adore each and every single one of these gals. I am so truly thankful for blogging and social media for being weird and wonderful but for also introducing me to such fabulous people like these brilliant girls.

MUCH LOVE. X

 

Winter Warmer Bean Chilli.

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Chilli con Carne is one of my all time favourite dishes to eat and also to make. It’s so versatile and you can change up the whole meal with different sides, different ingredients and different spices every single time. Also in my opinion it makes it one o the harder dishes to recreate as I’m always adding in different little bits every time I can never go back and make the same bowl of it. Everyone in my household eats meat apart from me but whenever I cook I always like to do something non meaty for them. Hence why I decided to treat them to this fab bean chilli this evening. I should add that I’m not one of those hardcore veg heads that force everyone to eat tofu and quorn (I mean I am trying *very* hard for them to all try a Linda McCartney sausage even just a tiny bite but no such luck so far.)
The great thing about chilli is that there is so much room for personalisation, if you like yours with some spice and a bit of kick then you can add as many chillies and chilli flakes as you like, I’ve heard of some people adding a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate to make the mixture smoother and creamier or even a dollop of marmite to give it that salty, well marmitey, flavour.. If you can’t face a meal without meat (my sister to a t) then you can add some diced bacon or pancetta. The possibilities are endless.
So I thought I’d impart my wonderful knowledge and wisdom of this with a fab chilli recipe because it is so ridiculously easy to make and is so tasty and warming especially in the coming colder months.This was to die for and literally a one pot dish. I honestly thought they were a myth or clickbait seen on Pinterest.
I’m not one for complicated recipes if I have to flambé anything I’m out, this one pot dish is super duper simple there’s literally no room to go wrong.
 Oh I should also add that these measurements may seem proper huge but this made 12 portions so was perfect for leftovers the following day, lunches or even popping in the freezer cos you never know when you might need an emergency bean chilli??

You will need:
  • 1 large carrot.
  • 1 large celery stalk.
  • 1 medium red onion.
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped. I roasted it as well so it was easier to squish with a back of a knife. I’m getting proper technical here, watch out Gordon Ramsey.
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes.
  • 1 tblsp tomato puree.
  • 1 tsp chilli powder.
  • 1 tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 1 400g tin butter beans.
  • 1 400g tin kidney beans.
  • 1 400g black beans.
  • 1 small tin baked beans (cheating IKR but it works).
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves.
  • sweetcorn.

HOW TO:

To start off I finely diced a stalk of celery, a carrot and a small red onion and fried it off in the pot with a good glug of olive oil, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Once that had cooked through and turned a more translucent colour which took about 10 minutes. After that I poured a tin of chopped tomatoes into the pot. Leaving that to simmer a bit, I actually used my handheld immersion blender and just blended the mixture a handful of times. That was more for my personal preference as I didn’t want big tomatoey lumps. (also what I look like on holiday. A big tomatoey lump..)
From there I added in all of the spices and the bay leaf. I never really thought much about cooking before but you are really building flavours upon flavours. That way you can taste a bit see if you need to add anything else or realise your culinary expertise that you’ve made a pretty banging pot of flavours so far.
To save time and energy I use tinned beans. You can use dried beans but it just takes a bit longer as you have to leave them soaking overnight aaaaaand I couldn’t be bothered for that. Sooooorrry.  So yeah where was I? I added in all my funky tins of beans. Even my baked beans, ok I know the whole of Texas and Southern American states will be wanting to burn my kitchen down for that but in my opinion it really works. I had put a sprinkle too much chilli into this and when I say a sprinkle it was practically like a truck had reversed up and dumped a whole skip full of the stuff. Plus I  really needed something to reduce it’s thickness and flavour.
I throw that in the pot. Not literally that would be messy and not to mention reckless. Pls don’t throw anything on my recommendation. Yeah so add in all the tinned things or the beans you’ve been soaking overnight, if you do that…I just want to say I’m already so proud of you. Leave it to simmer gently over a low heat for like 20 minutes, enough time to peg some washing out. I sound like Bree Van Der Kampf but that is genuinely what I did.
In that time you can come back stir it all through and be delighted with the delicious smokey smells filling your kitchen as we speak. And that is literally your one pot chilli done. I don’t even know if I can call it a chilli? Maybe like a bean stew would be more appropriate.
If you want to make yours a bit thicker, I mix a spoonful of polenta (or flour whatever suits you) with some water until it forms a slurry like that consistency and then combine that with the chilli. If you mix the flour or polenta or whatever thickening agent right into it it can create just lumps and pockets of flour and that is really not ideal.  (I’m using some cracking terminology here aren’t I)
Once made you can either eat it immediately, don’t even bother putting it in a bowl just grab a spoon or ladle, depending on your mood and eat it ALLLL. Or heat it up just before serving, y’know whatever you’d rather.
SO hey presto. You made yourself a delicious, heart warming, good for the soul bowl of food. I’ve served this to the meatiest of all meat eaters and they even went back for seconds. I’m fairly certain lions on the prowl for their next slither of food would rather eat this than their usual prey (once again, do not hold me to these ridic claims)
So sit down with a good book and a big spoon or gather round the dinner table for some wholesome home cooking. You can serve this with rice, cornbread which I made for the first time today and it is absolutely divine. On top of a jacket potato or even batch prepare on a Sunday for a whole week of meal preps If you’re that way inclined. I am forgetful and lazy I don’t think I’ll ever be a meal prepper unless it’s cooking a pizza and separating the leftover. cold slices for work lunch. Jokes there’s never any leftover slices. This is great family food as you can lay the table with guac, salsa, tortilla chips and sour cream and all dig in and have a Texan feast.
MUCH LOVE.

Blogtober day five.

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I won’t lie to you, I very nearly forgot to post my blogtober day five post. Just when I thought everything was coming up Milhouse and I was in the swing of things I had this thought niggling away in the back of my mind that I’d forgotten something. So you’re getting some unscheduled, completely fresh content right here. Think of this like when a comedian or singer or performer goes off script at a gig, showing their actual, usually proper sweaty personality and it either makes the whole show or leaves you cringing like mad. I’m hoping it’ll be the former and you’ll think I’m even more ruddy cool than to begin with. But seeing as I just used the word ruddy I’m not off to a great start.

It’s currently half past eight on a Friday night you’re probably thinking, is our number 1 hun writing this in an uber on the way to the club????? Well you’re half right. I am well on my way to my second bar. Bar of Dairy Milk Caramel it is for that matter. Yup you’re right, when Kanye West was singing ‘Damn they don’t make ’em like this anymore’ he was in fact talking about me. Alas I am not a cool kid, I am at home slapping them keys on my laptop in front of the telly watching Gardener’s World. 23 going on 80.

I’m such an old aged pensioner at heart. I live for nights in, I’m always wearing knitwear and feel the cold plus I’m crap with technology. Or technology is just rubbish with me. I think the only reason Apple has made so much money is singlehandedly because of me and the amount of wires, cables, plugs and chargers I seem to be constantly buying. Let’s just cut the middle man out now and call it Abble. My phone is so broken it’s laughable now. It switched itself off today whilst full of battery life. When it turned back on again it was all in Arabic. HOW?! It has a mind of it’s own I swear and clearly mine thinks it should be sunning itself on the beaches of Dubai instead. So after about half an hour of Gemma screenshotting the English to Arabic words I needed to get my phone back to settings I could actually read and pronounce we fiiiiiinally did it. If you’re wondering who Gemma is. Gemma is my fabulous blogging friend who has this beaut of a blog just here. I’ve known her for years and I have all of this mad blogging world to thank for coming across her.

I also spent some of today googling where to go on a ghost hunt in my local area. Because I’m not already incredibly barmy enough I thought why not add claimed by a Demon king into the mix cos y’know it’s something to do and something to add to my CV/tinder bio. I’ve always been a bit fascinated by anything paranormal and as I was on the phone to my friend telling him all about the sleepover in an abandoned asylum I was just about to confirm he did remind me that we may either be scammed of our money or dragged around the room by our feet by Caspar the unfriendly ghost. Needless to say it wasn’t booked and will probably just spend our Halloween night drinking gin and stalking people on Facebook we used to go to school with. Something equally as scary I imagine.

When I put into digital words like this it does make my day sound a bit mental no wonder my brain was turned into fluffy marshmallows and I couldn’t remember Blogtober. I’m only five days in and the word Blogtober is already annoying me. It’s not a nice word and its an even more annoying noise. Try saying it…try it. I also feel like I’m really clogging up everyone’s feeds/inboxes and timelines with all my new posts and I feel quite bad about that. I hope I’m not annoying anyone! But I also hope you’ll all be dead British and polite about it all and not tell me the actual truth whether it is getting on your wick. But I’ve gained more engagement and followers in the last five days than I have in the last two months and for that I am eternally grateful. So thanks you absolute babes I adore you all. Especially you. Don’t tell the others ok?

My plan for this post was to write random facts about myself that aren’t like cliche random facts like that I prefer dogs to cats and baths to showers because in my opinion that’s just kinda normal to me. How can you not like a cuddly puppy or a nice warm bath to soak into all night long. But like fifteen little ditties that you might not know, or you might not want to know who knows? Ok here goes.

  • I am 23 years old and I still struggle with my left and right. Embarassing, childlike, random I know all of the above but I get so confused and still have to make an L shape with my finger and thumb with my hands to figure.
  • I am a certified loser and I am totally, ridiculously ok with that. It used to bother me but now it just bothers me that all of a sudden it is now COOL to be weird?! I spent my youth accepting it and now all of a sudden it seems everyone is listening to Morrissey and sinking into a conspiracy theory hole on the internet for 6 hours. K.
  • I’ve never liked my name. I feel like it isn’t really me but I wouldn’t change it because I don’t think people would call me by my new name.
  • When I was younger I used to want to be a banker as my dream job. Not like a high flying city banker on Wall Street. I just wanted to work in Barclays on my High Street. Maybe it was the dashing neckerchiefs I liked or the overriding thought that you got to take home the spare money at the end of the day. Maybe I had a premonition at a young age of what bankers actually do. Who knows.
  • I have been vegetarian since last November and it unnecessarily annoys me that veggie burgers very rarely have gherkins in them.
  • can believe it’s not butter.
  • I think nutella is overrated and overused. Don’t @ me.
  • I am obsessed with stargazing. Staring at the moon and the stars. I think it’s beautiful that wherever you are in the world you and 7 billion others still see the same moon.
  • I am scared of the dark. Whiiiiiiich brings me back to one of my original statements how I’ll be eaten alive by a demon ghost soon.
  • When I was little my nan would always let me and my sister watch Titanic whilst we were staying over. But she’d stop the film just before the boat hit the iceberg. Obvs I am aware of the real story now. 
  • If I had to live anywhere in the world it would either be in Paris or Italy.
  • I am very much a do then think type of person.
  • I very much enjoy deep discussions with people (Idk why the aesthetic is better in a car at 2am) I love deep chat.
  • I am an actually quite a cultured swine and would love to spend my days travelling, going to the theatre and art galleries. It’s not all cocktails and cakes with this bird.
  • I am secretly not so secretly obsessed with a little something I like to call Old Age British Phrases. They usually make little to no sense and you’re not entirely sure what they mean. My nan is a queen of them for instance she’ll say something like Don’t trouble, trouble, until trouble, troubles you. Which literally makes about 0 sense but to her it is gospel.

So congratulations. You’re now in my brain, how does it feel? Invigorating I bet. Thanks for reading all of this it genuinely warms my little weirdo heart having you all in my life.

MUCH LOVE. x

Is Arm Candy legit?

chanel bag set uoSome people love shoes, some people love jewellery, I love handbags. I have done since I was a child and I genuinely had the biggest collection of bags for any normal teenager. I must have drove my parents bonkers with it! I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with designer handbags as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have that sought after item, the best of the best?! Shortly after I created this blog I entered in a competition to win a designer handbag of my choice. If I’m being completely honest, after I entered I completely forgot about it until a week or two went by and I got a call from an unknown number up in Manchester. At the time I was getting so many scam calls that as soon as I saw this flash up I remember tutting, rolling my eyes and thinking ‘Nope I CBA with this’ so actually declined the call. Little did I know it was actually Rob from Arm Candy ringing to say I was the closest guess (I was one out I believe) and I had won a Chanel handbag. Aka the bag of my absolute dreams.

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A few minutes had gone past and I then get a notification on my mobile with a voicemail, baring in mind at this point I was still thinking it was some dodgy company trying to convince me I was owed PPI. I remember thinking the cheek of this one, not only trying to scam me, but to leave a voicemail too!?! Clicking play and putting it on loudspeaker, my mouth genuinely fell open as I heard ‘Congratulations you’re this week’s winner Abbie! You won your Chanel handbag’. So much so I had to replay it about 87 times, making sure it wasn’t someone I knew pulling the most convincing prank with the most convincing northern accent I’d ever heard!

Needless to say, I rang back within about 0.0003 seconds and still couldn’t quite believe it. I still live at home with my family and when my parents and sister came through the door they were even convinced it was too good to be true. After much emailing back and forth I arranged to meet Rob and Gary in a hotel bar in my town. We had some building work at home and also just in case this wasn’t legit I had my mum and sister with me! After a quick chat it was time for me to open the big black Chanel carrier gift bag i’d been eyeing up the whole time and when I did, It was even more perfect than I  imagined!

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There’s a handful of reasons as to why I decided to write this post today, for one, I feel like I go on about my experience with them and can’t stop going on about it. I am typically not a lucky person yet still won. I think they’re ruddy fantastic. Secondly, I get quite a lot of page views on the original post I wrote about my experience with arm candy (here) and a lot of emails and questions about them. Whether it’s about their authenticity, if they’re legit or whether there is a sure fire way to win! If you hadn’t heard of Arm Candy until today (well babe where ya been?) it’s a competition site where in which you select the dream designer handbag of your choice, guess the numbers of sweets or candy in a jar and if you guess the correct number or the closest to it you win. Easy as that! You can see why some people deem it too good to be true?! It certainly sounds it. But I can totally promise you it’s 100% legit. So much so I’ve put together, along with the help of the lovely Rachael aka the marketing marvel over at Arm Candy, a little Q&A with all the most frequently asked questions I receive and what Arm Candy is really all about.

How did the idea of Arm Candy Handbags start?

Rachael: Well we knew that girls love handbags! And lots of people aspire to own a designer brand. Most people might be unable to purchase one with the big price tags, so we wanted to help make those dreams a reality and provide people the opportunity to win one – but with a bit of fun!

How did you decide to have a competition of counting sweets in a jar?

R: The name came first, so then the game came quite easily after that! We knew that we wanted our competition to be a game of skill, and with “candy” we instantly thought of sweets! So guessing the number of sweets in a jar seemed a fun and fair game, that’s easy to understand.

Do you get these made up in shop or do you do it yourselves?

R: We started out purchasing from local sweet shops, however we thought it would be more fun to make them ourselves! By doing them ourselves, it means we can create jars around certain themes, add lots more variety of sweets and make them look more exciting!

Who counts the sweets? 

R: Every Monday morning after the competition close two members of the Arm Candy team will conduct the official count and film it for its authenticity. One person counts and the other keeps a tally, so we can double check our count.  And don’t worry we wear gloves when counting the sweets for health and safety reasons, as one thing that not many people know, is that the lucky winner gets to keep that jar of sweets to enjoy!

Would you ever post a video of the sweets being counted after every weekly competition comes to a close?

R: Yes as we film all of the sweet counts, we post them to our Arm Candy You Tube channel each week so people can watch them if they wish! We recently even did a Facebook live count which went down really well! We think everyone loved real-time nature to see how close they were to winning! As it was such a success, we’ve decided to continue using Facebook live for the first Monday of every month.

What happens if no one who enters comes close to guessing the correct number?

R: The great thing about Arm Candy, is that there will always be one winner each week! It is rare that someone doesn’t guess the exact count, but if that does happen then we go to the closest guess. Also if there is more than person who guesses correctly, then they all go into a tie break process where they have one guess with a new jar of sweets. The tie breaker that guesses correctly from the tie break jar then is the winner! The best bit, is that everyone who is in the tie break, get a £50 Selfridges voucher so they can still treat themselves to something nice!

Several people think these competitions seem too good to be true! What do you think it is about Arm Candy that makes people question its authenticity?

R: I think it’s the fact that you can win your dream designer handbag for as little as £2! And as it’s a game of skill, everyone has an equal chance! We’ve even had people win on their first ever time of playing! We’ve also had people question our winners videos, whether they are real or staged with actors. All those videos are very much real people, winning their dream designer handbags. Everyone reacts differently when they are on camera and we have some that are over the moon ecstatic and some winners who are very shy and don’t react in that same way. We respect all our winners and never force them to act in a certain way, we try to keep everything as natural as possible.  

I get a lot of pageviews on my blog post about winning my chanel bag (seen here ) from last year still from people wondering if this is legit. What can we do to prove to people this is very much real? 

R: I believe the winners are the most important thing here! Without them, we wouldn’t have Arm Candy! People believe other people! We try to post as much content about our winners, as we do about the designer bags and the competition itself. That’s also why we personally hand deliver each bag to wherever the winner is within the UK. We like to do this, not only as we love to meet our players and the lucky winner! But also to make sure we get some natural content to prove that we are a real competition, and that we are genuinely giving away an authentic designer handbag, to a real person!  

Would you ever think about branching out and stocking watches or purses?

R: We definitely have thought about the future of Arm Candy and whether that involves branching out into complementary items. In the short term, we do plan to run special one-off campaigns that will include bonus prizes such as these.

Or even a men’s selection?

R: We have considered a man’s version, and we’d need to offer the right product as designer handbags might not appeal to the masses of men like they do for females! We have lots of exciting enhancements in the future of Arm Candy… watch this space!

How do you choose which bags to offer?

R: The Arm Candy team like to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world of fashion, not only from the designer brands themselves, but what styles key bloggers and influencers are wearing. We try to provide a range that is suitable for many ages, styles and taste! We always love to get feedback from our fans as well, if they would like to see a particular brand or style on the site, we’ll always try our best! We currently only offer styles from iconic designers, however we are very interested to look into offering bags from up and coming designers and more unique styles on our site, if the Arm Candy fans would be up for it!

Which is the most popular?

R: By far Chanel is the most popular brand – when its available to win. We are limited on the number of times we can offer Chanel on our site, otherwise we’d love to have it available for our fans to play to win every single week! Aside from that, the other most popular brands are Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. There collections are always gorgeous, and we always try to have a few different styles available to win.

I think it would be really exciting if you could add a feature so when you enter, you could input a phone number or the details of a family member or friend. So when the winner guesses the correct amount and wins, you could liaise with that person and surprise the winner with the bag of their dreams at work or wherever! Is this something you’d ever consider? 

R: It’s a great idea, and one we have considered as we’d love to be able to surprise the winner! However, the majority of the time we have a tie break situation, so we have to call the winner to tell them that they are in the tie break and give them the opportunity to provide their tie break guess. In this scenario, unfortunately having a surprise wouldn’t work for us at the moment, but it is really something we would like to try and incorporate in the future.

If you feel excited about the opportunity to win your own designer handbag, then we’d love you to play along with Arm Candy and you could be our next winner! Play along by clicking this link here!

AND if this isn’t reason enough to take a chance at winning the designer bag of your dreams for less than a price of a takeaway coffee, if you enter this week and you guess correctly, your dream bag will be hand delivered to you by none other than Jack Fowler aka New Jack from this years Love Island?!

Thanks so much for reading ya little hun, I hope you enjoyed this Q&A as much as I enjoyed doing it? ALSO, I hope you’re enjoying the fact I’m on here much more often. I’m thinking of doing Blogtober but I also said that last year, so we’ll see!

MUCH LOVES. X

37 Things I hated about working in retail.

If I was Prime Minister or Queen or Emperor of the World or whatever I shall be called, one of the first things I’d do is banish those ridiculous false eyelashes people stick on their headlights on cars. In what world is that a good look? I’d also add in way, waaaaay more bank holidays and maybe have one bank holiday Friday cos that sounds like a treat and a half. But more importantly, I would make sure everyone would work in retail or the service industry or just maybe deal with the general public for a couple weeks at least. It would be like jury service except that I’d just stick you on a till in Boots for a fortnight. I’ve worked in retail since the age of 16 and good God does it make you lose complete faith in humanity. You can always tell who’s worked in an industry like that and who hasn’t in the way in which they treat those that do.

1.With customers you can get The Good, The bad and The rude. With less cowboys and more buttheads than you can shake a stick at. Some people you can just tell have never been the other side of the counter before so think nothing of speaking to you like you’re an actual sewer rat. You notice that people will complain about just about anything, making you want to take a step back and actually reevaulate all the actual problems in the world because Steve wants to return his Pick N Mix because it didn’t have a very good mix of things in it. ERM. I have no words for this Steve. You picked it N you mixed it so don’t blame me for you being a dummyhead. Also totally a true story. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had customers speak down to me or snap at me or shout. For instance one man told me I had single handedly ruined his Christmas because we didn’t sell gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Good job I’m not bitter about it and moaning still 2 years on…👀.

2. We don’t often get that Friday Feeling you humble braggers post all over your Insta Story. Cos We have to work weekends. But we do often get the joy of a midweek day off which is just great. Unless you want to see your friends who are busy. Working their 9-5 jobs and are free at the weekend. When you’re back at work. K Den.

3. When people assume that you, the 10 hour weekend sales assistant frankly give a toss about the store pricings or the layout or the fact that Susan can’t find the jumpers which were right by the door last time she came in but now there are flip flops and kaftans there yet we only had a 36 hour heatwave in the UK?!?!

4. Promo Change. URGH. 2 words that will fill a retail worker with utter contempt. I used to hate doing promotion changeovers in my store. Baring in mind, I was a manager of a store that has almost as many different sales, promotions and in store events as it had staff coming and going. I would have rather covered my face in honey and stuck it in a bees nest.

5. Actually scrap that. There’s so many different jargon phrases and words that are often flung about; that outside of the retail world I don’t think actually means anything. Promo change, audits, blipbays, planograms, SKUs, ASMs, RSMs, ACT, IPB. It sounds like I’m singing the lyrics to ABC by the Jackson 5 really badly.

6. Working with people who use way too much corporate slang. I worked with a guy who basically developed his own I-only-speak-business-speak-cos-I’m-a-massive-bumhole language. Rather than telling the rest of his team something he would “cascade that information down to his field management team”. Or he’d call you boss or champ. He’d act like he was the wolf of wall street trying to pump you up by screaming down the phone buzzwords at quarter to 8 on a Tuesday morning. Basically he belongs in middle of the sea. On his own. For a very long time.

7. Working weekends or bank holidays. Like I get that this is kinda part and parcel of working within this sector but one Christmas time the only day I had off was Christmas Day and that was just because my shop was closed.

8. It felt like a slow torture method how many times over Christmas I heard Mariah Carey.

9. My store had an instore music system that would play the same songs, the same adverts at the same time everyday. I was in a real life Groundhog day but with more Sugababes.

10. Although one of my secret joys was seeing people, usually blokes, panic on Christmas Eve. I feel sorry for whoever had to open a jar of Cod Liver Oil as a christmas present from their terrible husband one year. I did try and suggest the hand and nail cream set instead, honest!

11. Wearing full uniform and customers still ask if you work here. Nah I’m just a huge fan of this place love! Just like football fans dress up as their fav players I’ve come into town dressed as my favourite shop assistant today. GO TEAM.

12. When you ask a customer if they’d like a bag and they point to their wife saying she’s over there.

13. Serving customers and they’re on the phone is a controversial one. I’ve been in a cafe where I put my phone on mute and to the side of the counter and the woman still refused to serve me until my conversation was officially over. SHOUTOUT TO PUMPKIN RAILWAY CAFE’S. I swear they’re all a load of poop. But I’m not overly bothered or I wouldn’t kick off if someone used their mobile really quick, I don’t really want to make small talk with you anyway but pls just pay with your card and go and don’t make me wait til you’ve finished chatting with your pal to acknowledge me, cos that’s just rude.

14. Customers who want to complain to the manager and PLOT TWIST it’s you. I went from sales advisor to manager in the store I’d been working in for two years previous in the space of about a month. So I could kinda understand how some shoppers got confused how the shop assistant overnight became a manager but y’know I was just as confused. Oh and at the age of 20 or 21 I was the youngest on my region just for my own humble brag there. I know I may have youth on my side Janice but I’m the captain of this ship. Sadly that ship was the titanic BUT I WAS STILL THE CAPTAIN.

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15. Y’know when it’s unbearably hot and stuffy in a shop, there’s no air conditioning and you customers sweat and moan about the rising heat so leave after about 23 seconds? Think Primark in the late 90s early noughties when it was always unbearably hot inside, clothes were strewn everywhere and it looked like you just walked onto the set of Earth Song. Yah someone has to work in that fiery heat. I was that person once upon a time. When I was a manager we had a spare temperature probe for the fridges and I left it on the shop floor just to see how hot it actually was in there. It would get up to the high 20s or 30. Which is lovely if you’re sipping pina coladas on a beach in the Bahamas in that temperature; not so much when you’re working. My area manager said it wasn’t that hot or I should buy a fan. So my training coordinator suggested I dip the end of the thermometer in some boiling hot water so it looks much hotter than it really is, so they’ll have no choice but to buy us top of the range air conditioning. Shortly after he did a surprise visit to come see me and needless to say, he was a bit shocked/surprised/concerned to see we’d been working in 68 degree heat and none of us had combusted.

16. One thing that used to really irritate me, maybe that’s just because I’m easily irritated was that a customer would come in every week and ask for the same thing but pronounce it wrong everytime. Quinoa being pronounced keen wah is a prime example.

17. I don’t know if anyone else suffered this but I used to get people mistaking me and my shop as the tourist information desk ALL. THE. TIME. Baring in mind I still have to double check my left and right with my hands I don’t think I’m the best person to ask for directions to Stonehenge by electric bike, Sir. When I worked in Bath a lady grabbed me by my elbow (I thought it was an odd way to get someone’s attention too but it actually worked) and simply asked me to tell her if she was going the wrong way. She gave no more information. She just said that…Depends, if you’re trying to get to the Roman Baths, no you’re not. Take a left by the man painted silver covered in pigeons if you’re trying to get to Mozambique…then yes ma’am you’re going the wrong way.

18. Customers who try and tell you how to do your job. Urgh get on tills if you really want to help me out Karen.

19. People who make that joke like you’ve never heard it before “hehehehe if it’s not scanning it must be free right???? Hehhehe”. Get in the bin.

20. PEOPLE WHO COME IN TO BROWSE JUST AS THE PLACE IS ABOUT TO CLOSE. I understand you may have been working all day too but we don’t often get paid if we have to stay later. I like you but I like earning money for being in work more.

21. People who complain once they’ve consumed nearly all of their food/drink/whatever. The fact you ate all your food apart from one spoonful even though it was too garlicky??? Your case is now invalid. Go home. Have a lovely life. Goodbye.

22. Whoever made the phrase the customer is always right was wrong.

23. People who complain about pretty much anything they can in general can be so taxing and sometimes they take it way too far. I was in the Lush store near Christmas time in Bath and a couple went IN on the girl serving them both. They were screaming, shouting and the poor girl cried. Looking back I actually kinda regret standing by and doing nothing as I have also been on the receiving end of sociopaths like that. But me and my friend did stick around to see if she was ok and luckily all of her team and her manager basically told the customers to do one. In much more eloquent terms obvs.

24. Having to face up shelves, so they look dead neat and tidy and then someone has the nerve and audacity to BUY something from said bay. You wouldn’t cut a slice out of Mary Berry’s cake before she finished icing it would you?! Also I used to call facing up pulling forward but apparently that sounded dead raunchy for the shopfloor.

25. Loyalty cards. Ok I could literally write a whole dissertation on the drama these things cause. Same with the products we try and sell you on the till or even the 30 billion receipts that seem to come flying out the till at the end with your shopping. I just wanna say as a retail worker and also a customer in shops I totally get how annoying it is to be practically interrogated when you just want to buy some pants. But we HAVE to ask you that or we get shouted it at. It becomes a part of a salespersons routine and script. Where I used to work they wanted at least 75% of all customers to be signed up onto their loyalty scheme and you’d be heavily pressured to ask every single person who walked through their door. If you didn’t or you didn’t get the amount of sign ups your boss would want you’d face a grilling. We are human and know that you get asked that in every shop so please just be polite and say no thanks. Same with getting an email or receipt asking about your service instore that day.Like we get it, it’s annoying we care about whether you have a loyalty card just as much as you do. Believe me, probably even less. A lot of shops and restaurants have taken away the monthly mystery shopper element so the general public can scrutinise your performance instead and mark you down if you didn’t ask them open questions or greet them within the first 15 seconds of them coming into a store. :))))))))))))). That often gives us a commission based bonus which makes up our full salary. Is it any different to tipping a waitress for good service in a cafe?

26. Same thing with coupons that have expired. Most of them have a barcode which literally will not work once scanned past the expiration date so pls don’t shout at me because it’s been a matter of hours since it ran out.

27. I don’t really understand why name badges are a necessity to be honest. Some may say it gives a more personal shopping experience but this isn’t Harrods and you’re not my Mum so you don’t need to beckon me over by my full name like I’m a naughty child.

28. Unruly kids that run around like the place is a playground. Sometimes breaking stuff and the parents just sort of give you that awkward laugh/don’t blame me look.

29. People who think you have any control in this company. I used to get customers asking me to send letters of complaint to head office like I was going to boardroom meetings every Friday. You wouldn’t pop into Currys with a problem with your laptop and ask them to dial through to Bill Gates to see if he knew a solution.

30. Partners that bicker at the till. Pls no. I served a couple that had a full on domestic at the till over whether they wanted a second one for half price. She walked out of the shop in the end. Would loved to have been a fly on the wall in their house later. If she ever returned home that is.

31. When customers cards get declined it actually gives me mad anxiety. I always used to make a joke and blame it on the card machine saying it’s playing up a bit but some people would straight up, look them in the eye and scream their card got declined. AGAIN.

32. Customers to demand you check in the stockroom for a product you don’t even sell. I spend more time in this place than I do at home nothing comes through these doors without me knowing sis. Guilty of walking in there, staring at the empty room, waiting a good amount of time and then coming back out and telling you there’s none in stock.

33. Customers who don’t take off their sunglasses inside. It wasn’t cool when Kanye did it, it’s not cool when you do it in a service station Starbucks.

34. Work colleagues are your fam. Like love ’em or hate ’em they’re there for you. Unless you need them to cover your shifts over a Bank Holiday Weekend.

35. You kinda realise how dumb some people are. Not just some people you work with but the general public. There was one guy I worked with who may possibly be the dumbest/most fascinating person I’ve ever met. He could have a feature length series on either the Discovery Channel or You’ve Been Framed. He never had a dull weekend and would always come in on Monday with a great albeit odd story to tell. Whether that was how he fell OFF a bus and bruised his entire face (it was awful but he looked just like Freddy Kreuger) Or how he was texting a girl he was seeing, tried to type ‘Hello’ but his phone autocorrected it to HELP all in caps lock and then his phone died. He got home and charged his phone to see about 17 missed calls, 20 messages and several v angry voicemails.

36. When a customer tries to give you change after you’ve put through the amount on the till. Like I’m sorry hun I’m not rainman how am I supposed to work out your change now you’ve given me MORE money?! I know you think you’re trying to help but maybe I’m just a bit thick.

37. Customers that don’t clean up after themselves and expect you to *just* do it because you’re paid to. Please ctrl alt delete yourself. Like I know I work here but you don’t need to make my job even more difficult or annoying.

All I ask is that if you read this and you aren’t already, please be more kind, forgiving and mindful of retail staff or service staff. OR just people in general y’know. It’s nice being nice 🙂

BE KIND ALWAYS. X

The Handmade Fair @ Bowood House. *

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The weather has been absolutely glorious in England this weekend and it looks like the sunshine will be staying put for a little while yet which makes me and I’m sure the rest of the UK want to stand up and rejoice!! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Rewired PR to an event at Bowood House in Wiltshire at the weekend called The Handmade Fair. The event was over three days from the Friday to the Sunday and was blessed with the most fantastic, sunny weather. As soon as I heard about this I really liked the idea of this fair. Created by Kirstie Allsopp as a great way to get more people into arts and crafts as well as uniting art, craft and handmade lovers far and wide which I really like. This is the ultimate creative day out whether you want to brush up on your skills from experts or if you want to dabble at something new and uncover a hidden crocheting talent there really is something for everyone. There’s plenty of things going on at The Handmade Fair whether, like me, you’re happy ambling round The Shopping Villages. They’re all bursting at the seams with handmade products and full of people  are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality by the talented makers and creators. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle you can always head over to The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes marquee’s where you can learn a new skill or two hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts. Oh and did I mention they had some magnificent street food vans dotted around too? I could have gone around twice collecting my £200 for passing GO everytime. I really loved how inclusive this event was. Since going vegetarian back in November it has been somewhat tricky for me to find foods when out and about that I really like and get excited by. But there was so much choice here from homemade ravioli, to a specific vegetarian/vegan food truck called Eats Shoots and Leaves (I LOVE a good pun, especially a panda related one).

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Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, not too far from Chippenham, sits a Grade I listed Georgian country house also known as Bowood House and Gardens. The Fair was held in the Gardens and you have to give The Handmade Fair team their credit for picking some of the most stunning locations. From Ragley Hall in Warwickshire in May to their later dates of being in Hampton Court Palace in September. Such an ideal way to make a weekend of it by visiting the Fair and spending another day having a nose around the house and gardens!

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My sister and I set off on the Saturday morning just before 10. It was a gorgeously sunny and only took about an hour from my house despite getting a tiny bit lost as I thought I knew better than the directions on my phone. Apple 1 – Abbie 0.  As soon as we parked up and got our wristbands from the desk we practically bounced on inside. The staff on the gates and checking tickets were all so friendly, happy and welcoming, asking us if we needed any help or wanted to know where to start and gladly pointed me in the direction of the RewiredPR tent so I could say a quick hello to the lovely team that made this possible. This was my first ever blog related event and I was feeling a bit anxious/nervous about it all. My sister helped me put my mind at ease and so did the PR team. They were so lovely and I found it really nice to meet the people or the person behind the emails and put a face to a name. So with that I went to go for a wander around the site armed with my phone and my camera as I was worried all my storage would be gone in a matter of five photos and a boomerang.

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My sister and I are both big foodies so were naturally drawn to the Artisan Marketplace marquee. It was like someone knew I was coming as it was filled with delectable sweet treats, cakes and several different gins. Naturally I had to sample them all and I was actually surprisingly taken with a coffee infused dark rum from Cornwall.

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As a lover of gin I can safely say how happy I am that it appears to be really having a ‘moment’ and is the ‘in’ spirit of choice. I know a few people who don’t really like it or find the scent of it quite woody or ‘piney’ in their words. But I think with so many different tonics available, flavoured gins and even flavour pairings you could add different herbs and spices, fruits or even a slither or cucumber to give it a rounded, cleaner taste if the taste of juniper isn’t for you!

From the same stand my sister and I purchased some savoury biscuits which were so incredible. We bought three boxes and they didn’t even last as long as 24 hours from unboxing as soon as we got them home. They were from the same company as seen above called Popti and they may be the most delicious biscuits I’ve tried. I love the packaging it’s so simple yet the choice of bold colours makes them really stand out on a shelf. They have a good variety of different flavours which you could snack on, on their own or even as an accompaniment to cheeses. If you ever come across this brand I urge you to try them they were so moreish and buttery. They honestly tasted like a savoury shortbread or something. INCRED. Also the lady we spoke to was so kind and lovely!!

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I even tried a small sample of moonshine. I did read the leaflet and the gentleman selling these did explain what moonshine *actually* is but other than a delicious and smooth alcohol they made in the prohibition era I still can’t quite remember. I tried one that tasted just like ameretto and could have easily drunk that neat all day long.

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A variety of different cheeses were also on offer and I tried a charcoal cheese which was mild, creamy albeit being rich and black in colour. If you had your eyes closes and weren’t any the wiser you wouldn’t have had any idea I don’t think as it didn’t have that overpowering smokiness sometimes charcoal can give. This type of thing would look great on a cheeseboard. BTW this chap is totally caught off guard but I’m living for the pose I might make that my go to pose in photos…White gloves optional.

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These marshmallows were incredible from a company called Grown Up Marshmallows.  I’ve loved marshallows since I was a child and I love seeing the different flavours or the gourmet ones you can get now. I tried the dark chocolate and raspberry one and it was amazing, it was soft and gooey but still had some chewiness to it. To me it tasted just like a normal, regular marshmallow if it wasn’t for the fact the sign and the lady talking to me said it didn’t contain any gluten, fats or egg I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

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I’ve never in my life seen so many different ways with garlic as I did on this stall. Garlic butters, different types of garlic mayo, whole garlic bulbs, pureed garlic, garlic oil even to garlic beer?! All freshly grown from their Isle of Wight farms.

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I love these Mighty Fine nuggets of joy so much. My sister got me a peanut butter flavoured pouch for my birthday but my one true love is dark chocolate and it goes so nicely with their honeycomb I had to get this one especially as it was a £1 cheaper than usual shop price. Mighty fine you really are mighty fine.

Around midday we decided to take a bit of respite and get something to eat. You’re spoilt for choice for things to eat whether you want fish and chips, sheeps milk ice cream, gourmet cheese on toast to vegan nachos. You could easily spend all day trying some of each food stall until you burst. Eventually my sister and I decided on a food truck called RaviOllie. I love a good pun me. RaviOllie was born when the chef, Ollie, had spent many years working in top restaurants in London learning every inch of the kitchen including perfecting the art of making fresh and incredible pasta. Taking this love of food and pasta he decided on putting his own stamp on things, specifically ravioli. And I’m blimmin’ glad he did. We had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli topped with Parmesan, cracked black pepper and a choice of different oils.  The pasta was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was absolutely sensational. The pasta itself was gorgeous and nothing at all like ones I’ve had in restaurants or shop bought. You could just tell the ingredients were fresh and of good, high quality as it looked and smelt so fresh and vibrant.  The filling was so creamy but not too rich, it was cheesy and delicious and I wish I could have an endless supply for the rest of my life because it is legit the most perfect comfort food.

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bowood x x

Feeling a bit peckish we found somewhere selling a pot of strawberries and cream. But this pot was like a Nigella Lawson style levelled up treat. Like Wimbledon hasn’t got a patch on this. Sweet strawbs topped with a lavender cream, vanilla mini meringues, a homemade gin and tonic jelly and mint leaves. HEAVEN. It was the perfect summery snack on a hot afternoon.

After a leisurely bite to eat and soaking up some of the rays we headed into the Shopping Village tent filled to the brim of everything and anything you can think of when it comes to the world of arts and crafts.

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The first stand right by the door took my fancy. You could buy little wooden shapes and paint and decorate them onto to things to make them look so much more decorative and ornate like this little wooden wreath as seen above. This would lovely if you wanted to design a little photoframe for someone as a gift or put a nice picture or even leave it how it is as a wall hanging. These types of things are so versatile if you wanted to make a scrapbook for someone you could make their name out of letter shapes or if you wanted to make a memory box you could decorate it with their products too. The possibilities are endless.

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I love, love, LOVE these quills that were on offer on one stand. You could learn the basics of calligraphy too as their was a workshop on that too! These would make me feel so fancy and like I was in Harry Potter.

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If fabric working or upcycling is much more up your alley there were several different stands selling beautiful prints and fabrics. I’m a magpie for pretty things, bold colours and prints and this whole section really stood out to me. As someone who would love to be able to make their own clothing I looked on at this like a kid in a candy shop. There was another stand that was teaching people to make their own pom poms which I thought was really cute. They would make such good keyrings or decorative pieces.

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This gentleman was showing an older method of weaving wool and attracted quite a crowd. It was really nice to be involved in a day and an event where people with different crafts, hobbies and skill levels came together to celebrate all things homemade. There is something special in having something that you can say I made this. Or I took the time and actually completed this and look how fab it looks!

Other than blogging I’ve never really had a long term hobby that I’ve actually loved, enjoyed and stuck with (maybe playing the recorder at primary school but didn’t everyone do that?!) So I was hoping when I went along to this I would find something that would take my eye and I would develop a new hobby, skill or love away from technology for a little bit of time per day or week.

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I stumbled across this stand selling cross stitch kits and naturally the gin related one jumped right out at me. Seeing as I got this on Saturday and today is now Wednesday and I’ve already taken it out of the box to have a go I think that’s a good start compared to other things I’ve bought with good intentions of doing and never quite getting round to doing.

If you’re a literal magpie for all things shiny and pretty just like me there were these gorgeous rings on display that look so glamorous and elegant. I love the sea themes in the first picture, in particular the rose gold seashell earrings.

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There was so much going on at The Handmade Fair it would be an enjoyable day out for people of all ages. You can book tickets in advance for places in their workshops and talks from the experts and having just had a look on their website for the Hampton Court Palace timetable (here) they have got some amazing workshops lined up from learning to do brushwork lettering to making your own beading hoop earrings. Whether you’ve always had a dream to make your own funky willow bird feeder, sew your own kimono or learn to make butterly origami, along with the help of The Handmade Fair’s exceptional team of experts it could make these dreams possible. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going to their next Fair. I really enjoyed my time here and I’m sure you would do too!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at RewiredPR for asking me along to this event I’m really appreciative of it and I really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much to all the kind people working at The Handmade Fair whether that be all the staff I met, the staff behind the scenes who made this event come together so well or all the kind creators, makers and bakers I met too. I know I’m not the only one who would say I had such a lovely time! I hope this event gets better and better upon each year with even more people going along to their next one!

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*What I wrote in this post is all 100% genuine from me and my thoughts on it all. I don’t want to mislead readers into thinking I only wrote positive things as I had been invited to attend. 🙂

100 Truths About What Abbie Says.

Hello my dearest internet pals/readers. It’s been a little while since I wrote something and actually pushed that shiny ‘Publish’ button on here but when the lovely Gareth from 16-Bit Dad tagged me ACTUALLY AGES AGO  in the 100 Truths tag I thought well what better time to get back into the swing of things. I apologise about my inactivity on here, and also for not posting this for roughly 3000 years, life has been a little bit topsy turvy for me of late with job interviews, job offers, bad job interviews and no job offers and life getting a bit crazy as it seems to usually do. I’ve got about 9 or so blog posts in my drafts some half written, some ready to publish and some of them you can tell I wrote them on a whim at about quarter to midnight on a mad stream of ideas. For some reason I haven’t had it in me to post them and let the world see, some of them are quite personal and cover topics I’m not sure I’m ready to put out there, I’m not sure whether I’ve conveyed the feelings and emotions I want to correctly put across and not going to lie, some of them reading them back, are just plain garbage. I rambled on about comfy shoes for a paragraph or two then read it back and cringed  a hell of a lot. Little Carrie Bradshaw over here; I think not.

Maybe some day soon, I’ll pluck up the courage or not give a damn about what others may think of it but for now I give to you, The 100 Truths Tag. I started writing on here some time ago now, and I realised you don’t really know that much about me yet. Some of you may follow me on various different social media platforms and usually what you see is what you get with me. I don’t take anything too seriously which can be a good and a bad thing…and that I want to eat practically everything in my path. Everyone piles on the pounds for winter though, it’s bulking season still right?!?  This tag will give you a little insight into what it’s like to spend 10 minutes in the wonderful or not so wonderful brain of Miss What Abbie Says. Continue reading “100 Truths About What Abbie Says.”

The World According to She.

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Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute and just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I became the princess of a town called Bel-Air. In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and eatin’ some push-pops outside of the school when a couple of guys who were up to no good started making trouble in my neighborhood, I got in one little fight and my mum got scared she said, “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”.

I have a super active imagination if you couldn’t already tell…But when I was a kid and even now if I watched a tv show or film religiously my brain would get it confused with my reality and the made up show. So much so one time I had a dream I was in Egypt then a few weeks later in a geography lesson at school the teacher asked if anyone had ever been to Egypt and for some weird-out-of-body-experience and reason my arm flung up into the air as if I was the one that discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb. OBVIOUSLY no one else in my class had been to Egypt in real life or in a dream as it turns out so I had to very quickly think about what I loved about the holiday. If in doubt say it was lovely weather and the Cornetto selection was much better. BUT UNLESS YOU COULDN’T ALREADY TELL and if you didn’t know well soz beauts but you’re in for a shocker, I am not Will Smith (sorry to disappoint) nor am I cool and my aunt and uncle live in a quiet village outside of the social hub of the south west of England otherwise known as Southampton. Sadly sarcasm doesn’t convert well in written word but unless you like skinny chavlads or girls that are more lip filler than woman and would start a fight with you for a tenner, spitfires or the Titanic then maybs just maybs Southampton isn’t the place for you. Soz Southampton normal people if you’re reading this.

I digress again. See, I’ve always had this problem in life, I get distracted and go off on tangents both in conversation and in my head. I’ll be doing something or talking to someone about something fairly serious and the next thing I know a random thought bubble has crash landed through my brain and we’re discussing the rising cost prices of sausage rolls in Greggs or why just WHY no one says croopy down north of the A303. For you educated folk the term “Croopy Down” is the act of squatting down but in the most ladylike fashion I believe. I remember my Nan used to say it to us when we were small little babes. Now we’re big babes we still croopy now and then. I’m hitting you up with a more thoughts and feelsy post again today, think of this like our virtual coffee date, so grab a cuppa, maybe a few biscuits, because what’s a tea without a few hobnobs and we can have a good old chinwag on here and in the comment section.

SO where do I start I hear you cry?! I think with work. Everyone always asks that question when you see a friend or neighbour it’s always “hey how are you? You look tired? how’s work?”. Since we last had a little chit chat I am now working two and a bit jobs. Which is tough. I start work at five in the morning and finish at two in the afternoon. I am suffering with all of the typical toddler symptoms of tiredness, constantly hungry just that if I throw myself on the floor in the middle of the biscuit aisle in Asda no one will pick me up and tell me it’ll be alright as they rub my back (maybs they know it won’t??? oh gosh let’s not open that can of worms.) The people I work with all tend to be really nice (there’s always one though and you get that anywhere I guess) In the daytime officey role I have, I work next to a gent from Indonesia with the thickest Indonesian accent so when he’s dictating an email or an invoice for me to send over to someone we can often get fairly lost in translation. He’s lovely but he must think I’m stupid or like a telly presenter on time delay as I have to really listen to what he’s saying. Equally doing telesales with an important client can be a bit of a challenge when he’s yelling down the phone to his wife in loud Indonesian (she’s Indonesian too I should, he’s not like a sociopath shouting at the poor love in a language she can’t even understand. Can you imagine tho?) Anyway. It’s not all bad, without sounding like a complete pretentious twonk. It’s character building and teaching me mad skillz and the more I work the less time I’m either out shopping or sat at home buying things online I don’t need (Insert frog shape jelly mould heeerrreee yeah I don’t know what I was thinking either tbh) But I am still looking and keeping my eye out for something that doesn’t have me up even before the crack of dawn and something that makes me happy. I shall keep ya updated babes.

I can’t remember if I’ve wrote on here since my birthday & day of birth but I turned 23 at the end of January. Yayhoo! I went to London for a fancy pants lunch at The Ritz with my mum and sister as my stepdad was struck down with the flu. I didn’t do anything young or fun like getting more smashed than your avo on toast this Saturday at brunch which was a bit of a bummer. I really wanted to go out and let my hair down and celebrate an important year but unfortunately my pals either didn’t want to or didn’t have the funds so I had a quiet family time instead. I’m hoping I’ll be able to plan something fun for my 24th next year and well hell if everyone bails I’m just going to head to ‘Spoons and cry into my fishbowls (yes plural, I plan on a maaaaad old night on my jack. Well as mad as you can get in Salisbury Wetherspoons…on your own as well.)

In more exciting news, I BECAME AN AMBASSADOR FOR SOMETHING SUPER COOL AND IMPORTANT!!! YES you read them caps locked letters correctly. So this fabulous, wonderful, brilliant (all the good and shiny adjectives ever) charity organisation want my face, alongside many beautiful others, representing them so to speak. It is for a wonderful mental health charity called Exhale, whom I am SUPER DUPER excited to be working with. Can ya tell by all the inappropriate big letters and excessive exclamation marks?!? Find out more info about them here as I’ll be posting on there, like things about my experiences with my mental health, stress and anxiety. How I’ve coped and tips and tricks on how I’ve learnt about managing my stresses and/or triggers. Mental health in general is a topic which is really important to me because of my experiences and also me suffering with it. A lot of those close to me do as well,  and I would love to be able to help share my experiences and if that helped someone else that would mean so much to me.

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I can’t remember if I wrote much about it on here but I went vegetarian back in November. As you may have seen in my last post I have a very gorgeous and adorable little pooch who I think the absolute world of and he basically inspired my decision. To cement all your thoughts that I’m easily swayed, I did fall victim to watching certain documentaries beforehand on Netflix and looked out of the corner of my eye to see my loyal little pal beaming up at me. The thought of anyone eating him or suchlike really broke my heart and I got a bit deep thinking about what the difference between him and a cow,fish,chicken, lamb was in my mind. Literally overnight I cut meat and fish out and have been living a vegetarian diet ever since. I’ve found it a lot easier and a lot tastier than I actually thought I would. I’ve dabbled with it in the past and only lasted a week or so but this was when I was about 13/14. I am now absolutely hooooooked on Linda McCartney sausages, other than I’ve Just Seen a Face I’d say it’s the second best thing to come out of The Beatles. I am also super impressed with how lush Quorn or any meat free meat style products actually taste. They don’t taste exactly the same but they are actually so delicious I can’t really believe I didn’t try some of it sooner.

I’ve also hit a bit of a slump in terms of the way I look and feel about myself at the moment. I’m a bit bigger than the size I wish to be and want to focus my body and my mind on healthy eating and more regular exercise (there is a blog post soon to come) This pic was a totally gorgeous and a totally healthy salad I had at the cool and quirky chain Bills in Salisbury on a summery day last year. Inevitably I do want to get back to the healthier size I was a few years ago where I felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin and in my body. Cos I can’t really change into someone elses?! Way to go Abfab making it weird. But you get what I mean? I want to be able to wear nice dresses, or skinny jeans without feeling like an overly stuffed sausage. That is my go-to feeling chub analogy at the minute.

I’ve been thinking about posting more regularly on here too. So little miss Downton Abbie can get herself into a routine with you all and vice versa. I’m thinking about posting a lifestyle/misc/random wordsy (thoughts and feelsy if you want) on Wednesdays and a more foodie related topic on a Sunday. I haven’t done anything in terms of cooking or baking that has been very exciting or pretty (unless you want to see my cheesey beans on toast on a weekday?) but I’m hoping to get back into it soon. But enough about me now, what about you babes? What have you all been up to?

Working with Petshop.co.uk *

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Up until the humble age of 19 I never owned a pet. Unless you count the goldfish me and my sister either won at the fair or got from the local pet shop. Fish as pets for me weren’t very exciting or very fun, I’m not expecting them to my little best friend that I can share all my innermost thoughts with or to jump through fiery hoops, as ridic and impressive as that would be. They were just kinda there, taking up space in their big ol’ tank on the side. Voohran was our oldest goldfish lived for what seemed like 450 years in goldfish time but in reality I think it was about 3 years in human time, which isn’t bad going for a fairground fishy. Also don’t judge the name, me and my sis were and still are weird little beings. And you try and think of a better name for a fish that refused stinky fish flakes than Voohran. What a guy. What a maverick. What a weird name thinking about it?

Other than that little guy, I never had a pet so I never really understood the love and affection you really feelI cried at Marley and Me when it first came out but watching it again being a dog owner I’m not ashamed to admit I cry Kim K style ugly tears. Or I stop the film just as they move into the last big house so the doggo has a lovely happy ending woofing and Wow’ing with Owen Wilson forevz. Don’t even get me started on A Dog’s Purpose I’m not even going to attempt that one. My parents both had pets growing up and remember them talking about them as if they were a member of the family, one you actually love and like I should add, and my sister and I always felt like we were missing out on that. So when I was 19, 4 years ago now, our lives all changed when a little ball of fluff came into our lives in the shape of Charlie, or Lord Charles or Chatsworth the Schnoodle. He is a miniature schnauzer cross toy poodle and is a little joy.

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JUST LOOK AT MY LITTLE BEAR CUB HERE!! He is ever so adorable, clever and knows so many tricks. Such a little cutie and brings so much joy. Continue reading “Working with Petshop.co.uk *”