Thursday, 31 January 2013

Diary Entry: Bedroom Inspiration!

This week has been absolutely amazing for me so far! I have finally managed to secure a year-long internship, booked a holiday, got amazing marks in both pieces of coursework, and had some lovely times with my friends! I won't tell you exactly which company that I'm going to be working for just yet as I want to wait until I've signed the contract before telling the world - but if you really want a hint, then this company is 6th most powerful brand according to Forbes! Guess from that! ;)

Seeing as I am going to have to move house because of where the job is located, it's only natural that I've spent the day looking around for some bedroom inspiration! Any excuse to buy new stuff eh? ;)

I'm really loving floral, pastel-coloured rooms at the minute, with lots of whites and pretty little trinkets and stuff dotted about. I know I won't have any control over the colour of the room, but hopefully it's at least a plain magnolia-type colour so I can do something with it. I guess with any rented property (or at least from what I've found from living in student houses) the best way to add a personal touch is going to be in the bits you can bring with you - I'm thinking candles, a pretty beside lamp, and some cute storage boxes! My main aim is that my bedroom is lovely and relaxing, so I can come back from work after a long day and just chill out with a book and a cup of tea.

1. Natural Embroidered Floral Cushion ~ Debenhams ~ £16
2. Cream Cutout Porcelain Tea Light Holder ~ Debenhams ~ £13
3. Small Rounded Peacock Patterned Perfume Bottle ~ Debenhams ~ £15
4. White Sculpted Stand Table Lamp ~ Debenhams ~ £65
5. Wooden Set of 5 Standing Frames ~ Debenhams ~ £26
6. Paris Print Trays (set of two) ~ Next ~ £12

As I was typing this up I've noticed that pretty much everything is from Debenhams! I've been having a mooch around for a few days for little bits and pieces, but nothing I've found has really gone with the image I have in my head - just going to have to keep looking I guess haha. I've tried to keep the colours quite neutral so it would create quite a peaceful, calming atmosphere as I can sometimes find it hard to sleep if there's too may bright colours around.
I absolutely adore everything that I've managed to find so far - especially the lamp. The little Paris Print trays would look so cute to store little bits and pieces like earrings, loose change or something in, and whilst I doubt I would be putting any perfume actually IN the perfume bottle, it does look gorgeous!

I can imagine that I'll probably be doing more of these style posts at some point - they make such a change from the usual posts from me, and it's always nice to be able to talk about other things that interest me, or things that I've been doing lately. :)

Hope you're all having a good week my lovelies - it's almost the weekend!
Don't forget to sign up for #FebruaryFocus - it starts tomorrow! :)

Friday, 25 January 2013

#FebruaryFocus Challenge!


Have you made New Year's Resolutions this year which you're struggling to stay on top of? Or maybe you want to start a new challenge and are looking to find some other, like-minded people to share your experiences with!
I've been working super hard over the past couple of weeks to put together a new blogger 'challenge' for you lovely lot to indulge in. I know quite a few people who started off their new year with the best will in the world with lots of eating healthier and fitting in more exercise goals, but who for one reason or another are now falling off the bandwagon a little and need something to give them a little help to get back on it again. :)

What is February Focus?

I know from my own experience that nothing motivates me more than getting little treats and rewards along the way, and having people to chat to about how I'm getting on makes everything so much easier. So I've been spending my week getting in touch with companies and bloggers to put together my newest feature, February Focus!
Every week I'll have a little giveaway for you all to reward you for your progress (no matter how big or small!) from some great brands, and I'll also be posting every day or so with recipes, exercises, and lots of other hints and tips to help you on your way from bloggers, companies and myself.
I've also decided to run a #FebFocus Chat on Twitter on Monday's 8pm-9pm (GMT) so we can all chat about how we're getting on and share recipes, fitness tips and get extra motivation from people who are in the same boat as you! It doesn't matter what what stage you're at in your quest for a healthier lifestyle, all that matters is that you have goals you want to achieve. :)

Sounds Great!.. How Do I Sign Up?

If February Focus sounds like something you fancy giving a try, all you have to do is either give me an email or comment below with:

  • Your name
  • Age
  • Twitter name
  • And most importantly, what your goals are!

Every week I'll be picking people who I think I really think deserve a mention - whether it's because they tried something new, lost a few pounds, or managed to beat their personal best at the gym. So if you've accomplished something that you feel proud of, however small - I want to know!
As well as having the giveaways throughout February to help spur you on, there will also be one at the end of the challenge for the person/people who have managed to achieve the most in relation to the goals that they set at the beginning of the challenge - so the sooner you sign up, the more chance you have of winning! :)
Depending on how many sign up, I may also award another prize for the person who contributes/helps other participants the most during February on things like the Twitter chat, in the comments on blog posts etc!

If you do sign up, don't forget to spread the word - the more people that join, the more everyone will get out of it all! I've created a little button which you can add to your blog's sidebars to show that you're taking part, and to help let other people know about February Focus. If you could link it back to this post, it would be amazing! :)


Hope you all like the idea, if you have any ideas for topics you'd like to see posted then let me know in the comments below or give me a tweet - or if you'd like to do a guest post on what motivates you, or have a story to tell then give me an email.

Can't wait to meet you all! See you at the first February Focus Twitter chat on Monday 4th. February 2013 at 8pm - don't forget to use the #FebFocus hashtag! :)

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Body Progress + Moving Forward

Not going to lie - I was pretty petrified of posting these photos on here for the world to see, but after seeing Jayne's post earlier today and seeing her talk about how she's changed I felt it was something I just had to pluck up the courage to do.
I am by no means done with my transformation but when I put my 'starting' pictures next to my most recent photos, I couldn't help but smile because I could actually see a difference! I definitely think that progress photos can be one of the best ways to see how far you've come over time. These photos are over a period of around six months - and although there are probably a lot of people who have come a lot further than me - I can't help but feel extremely proud of myself that I have come from a solid size 12, to being in between an 8 and a 10!

Moving forward with my mission to a better body (and most importantly, continuing with my healthy lifestyle!) I will carry on with my Intermittent Fasting which is something which has worked out really well for me so far, and I will also be adding heaps of cardio to my weights routine so that hopefully - combined with my 4-day-a-week training schedule with the Coventry Cougars - I will be looking awesome in no time. I'm thinking rowing machine intervals, HIIT at my local park and aiming to actually be able to run 10K will help the last bits of fat melt away no problem.
I am currently stuck with 25% body fat which over the next few months I will be hoping to get down to around 12-15%. I've been told is achievable as long as I'm super sensible with what I eat, and stay on top of the cardio so fingers crossed that as time passes, I'll be able to report back with a few successes and maybe even another set of progress photos if I don't chicken out! I've also made the decision to post monthly progress reports from now on so keep a look out for those as well! :)

I've seen Sandra's latest competition in partnership with Moneysupermarket.com over on her blog, where one lucky person will be in with a chance of winning some SmartScales and a FitBit activity tracker by talking about how they have/are going to 'Get Fit and Feel Epic!' Although not my original intention as I had been planning to post this anyway, I've made the decision to submit this blog post as my entry into the competition as well so that hopefully I can help keep a better track of my progress without having to use those god-awful scales at my gym. ;)

Good luck for everyone with their 2013 health and fitness goals, I wish you all the best! If you have a story or experience you'd like to share, email me on thebarbelle@gmail.com and I might feature it on my blog! :)

Friday, 18 January 2013

My Diet in a Day #1

A new little series that I thought would be quite interesting for you. A lot of my friends ask me what I eat, or what they can eat to stay healthy - and although I'm still learning, I've definitely picked up a few yummy recipes along the way! As some of you may know, I do Intermittent Fasting*, which means that I only eat within an 8 hour window. I've decided to eat between midday and 8pm so I miss breakfast, so sorry if you don't get many breakfast options!


I guess the fist one could technically be classed as a little breakfast-y... But only because there's eggs involved! For my lunch I made salsa-baked eggs using my own homemade salsa. These are so simple to make - all you have to do is spray some oil into a cupcake or muffin tray and add a dollop of chunky salsa into each slot you are using, before cracking an egg into each and popping it into a pre-heated over for 8-12 minutes! To go with them, I piled my plate high with heaps of yummy veg such as green beans, spinach and carrots, and shredded a bit of turkey ham on the top. DELICIOUS. And to make it even better, each salsa-baked egg is around 90 calories!

For dinner, I cooked some Quorn mince, and then mixed it in a bowl with some cucumber, tomato and spinach before sprinkling it with some light Cathedral City cheese and a little light mayonnaise. This has probably got to be one of the most filling meals EVER, and it was such a nice change to use Quorn mine instead of actual meat, and it tasted awesome too. This is quite a calorific meal at over 500 calories, but it's super low in carbohydrates and has over 20g of protein so it's amazing if you're on a low-carb diet.

Snacks-wise I didn't really need to eat anything as I was pretty full from the two meals! I did however have two protein shakes just to top up my protein levels and to keep me going til I can break my fast again tomorrow. :)

What are your go-to healthy meals? These ones were super quick to make and altogether came in at 1300 calories! If you have any recipes that you love, email them over with a picture of your masterpiece and I'll feature them on my blog. :)

Can't wait to hear from you all - hope you're having fun in the snow! :)


*If you want to find out more about Intermittent Fasting, then here is a good place to start. I'm not saying it's the best lifestyle choice for everyone (NOT DIET!), but it works for me. :)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Turns Out I'm a Bit of a Tea Pig.

It's definitely taken a million times longer than I originally planned to get round to writing this post what with Christmas, coursework, and exams taking over my entire life! I was lucky enough to be sent a HUGE amount of samples from the lovely people over at teapigs, and over Christmas and New Year I've gradually been testing them all out in between family visits, coursework, and working at Clarks pretty much every day.

I was sent a variety of flavours from their everyday brew all the way up to their more fancy brews so I've decided that instead of telling you about all of them, I'd give you the low-down on my top three.

1. Rooibos Creme Caramel



By far my favourite out of the lot, teapigs' Rooibos Creme Caramel is delicious on its own with a lovely hint of vanilla-y sweetness to it - and it's not to sickly either. When I was nose deep in journals and books for my Digital Marketing exam revision, this was the best thing ever to keep me going and it's super healthy because you don't need to add any milk to it - I can see why they call it their 'skinny desert' tea!
I have to admit I was a little dubious about trying it when I saw that it was caramel tea, but any reservations I has about it were completely blown out of the water after taking a sip. I've never seen/ heard of a tea like this before and out of all of them, this is the one I'm going to be buying as soon as pay day comes back around!

Fancy flavours aside, you can never go wrong with a good ol' traditional cuppa. I think it's fair to say that I've been in search of the best brew for a very long time and compared to teapigs' Everyday Brew, even my current favourite has been knocked off the top spot! It can be really hard to find a bagged tea that actually tastes of... well... tea.. - but their Everyday Brew can most definitely be called a proper cup'o char with a gorgeously refreshing taste to it. So nice after a hard days work at the shop!

I have a similar problem with fruit teas that I do with normal tea, in that no matter how long you leave them to brew, they still never really taste all that fruity. teapigs' super fruit blend has a gorgeous amount of berry-ness oozing from its little pyramid-shaped bag, and has a great flavour even if you only leave it to brew a couple of minutes. Whilst I love sinking back into the sofa and enjoying it warm, I can see this being absolutely perfect as ice tea on a hot summers day, and can just imagine myself lazing around in the garden reading a book and sipping on this! Super Fruits definitely equals super yummy in my books!

If you're not sure which tea to give a go from their fantastic range of over 20 blends, then teapigs even have a mix 'n' match box where you can pick 12 of their teas in as many or as few blends as you fancy,  which is perfect if you're not sure what you want your new favourite to be! I personally can't wait to try some of their more unusual blends such as their chocolate flake tea, chilli chai tea, or their popcorn tea!
They also have sets you can buy such as their Detox Cheeky variety pack which has lots of different flavours that will help you on your way with your New Year's Resolutions without compromising on taste!

Kind of starting to feel as though I'm ranting a little now so I'll leave it there, but I honestly can't recommend them enough. I also have a lovely little discount for for you lot where you can save 15% on your teapigs purchases by entering BLOGS13 at the checkout! What are you waiting for?!
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