Wednesday, 21 September 2016

tB Cooks: Homemade Fish and Chips

Wonky but wonderful!
Any person in the UK will tell you how amazing fish n chips is, especially the closer you are to the sea as the fish is so fresh and the chips so fluffy. 

But why can we not enjoy this at home? Let me show you how I like to make my own homemade fish n chips.

What you will need: recipe makes two portions

  • fish (of your choice - here I have used plaice) 
  • 1-2 pieces of frozen bread (putting it in the freezer the morning you are set to cook this is fine)
  • Potatoes - King Edward or sweet potatoes are the best - here I use sweet potatoes
  • Any other veg of choice - for me, I love brocoli
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil and paprika
  • 1 egg
  • plain flower (about half a cup)
  • 1 lemon
  • sauces to serve
Equpment needed:
  • Baking tray
  • 3 bowls (for flower, egg and bread crumbs)
  • fork (to whisk the egg)
  • A blender (to make your breadcrumbs)
  • plates and cutlery to serve
  • sauce pots (if you have them, or give it a healthy dollop on the plate.)
Step one
Preheat oven to around 180 degrees. chop sweet potatoes into chip like shapes. (This does not need to be neat, the more rough they look the more rustic I say!) Then you have a choice... either pre-cook the potatoes in boiling water and then drain before fluffing them up in the colinder, or be lazy and stick them straight in to the oven once coated with seasoning. Your choice. Both work well, but the uncooked chips may take longer to cook. Anyway, once you have made your choice, coat the potatoes in oil and season well with salt, pepper and a healthy load of paprika. Put in to the oven for around 30-40 mins. Cheeking checking on them and turning whilst cooking. 

Step Two
Blend the frozen bread to create bread crumbs and set aside in a bowl. Meanwhile beat the egg and put in a separate bowl, then you are ready to coat the fish. Take your fish and dust with flower, dunk it into the egg and then cost it in your bowl of breadcrumbs. Repeat with second fish fillet and put on to a lined baking tray. Put in to the oven after the chips have been on 15-20 minutes, and leave it all in for 20-25 minutes. 

Step Three
If you are like me and love a bit of green with my food. wash and chop your greens and put in to boiling water on the hobb for around 8-12 minutes depnding on whether you like them a little crunchy or super soft. Meanwhile, cut your lemon into wedges and place on to the plate and prepare your little sauce pots. I like to fill mine with ketchup, mayo and bbq. 

Step four
Remove the chips and fish from the oven when they are golden brown. Arrange on the plates with the broccoli, lemon wedge and your favourite sauces. 

et voila! Tasty and comforting on a chilly autumnal evening. 

Hope you enjoyed this - let me know if you gave it a go!

Much Love,
Alissa Marie


Sunday, 11 September 2016

tB Reviews: Aladdin the Musical

For some Bank Holiday fun, two weeks my mum, sister and I went to see the new hit West End show – Aladdin, at the Prince Edward Theatre London. Now I had extremely high expectations of this particular show as did my sister. Because being the hardcore Disney fans we are, we needed a nice bit of romance, magic and all of the wonderful songs that Disney has to offer.

I must admit I had very mixed feelings about this one. I cannot say I didn’t enjoy it, but I felt it lacked the class of many of the other West End Productions I’d seen. Let me try to explain myself. So imagine a Christmas panto minus the dame and with a budget of zillions and you get some idea of this musical extravaganza. For those of you who are unaware of the story, Aladdin is a poor boy who falls in love with a princess, Jasmine, and, with the aid of a genie, outwits a wicked vizier to win her hand.

Trevor Dion as the Genie. Photograph: Deen van Meer/ Disney

My favourite character hands down has to be the genie, hands down, played by Trevor Dion Nicholas who was also the original genie in the Broadway production in 2014. He treats the audience as if we were guests at his private party, cart wheeling around the stage and dazzling during the show’s biggest number, 'Never had a friend like me.'

The songs themselves are a mixed bag: the big romantic number ‘A Whole New World’ is completely upstaged by the carpet. Not that I would say the carpet is particularly magical. It’s a rigid and thick apparatus that fly’s quite quickly around the stage distracting the audience from possibly one of the best known Disney love songs. In order to disguise the fly ropes holding the carpet up they have made the scene very dark, which is very fitting with the animated classic, but it was hard to actually seeing anything much with that little lighting.

Dean John Wilson and Jade Ewen as Aladdin and Jasmine. Photograph: Deen van Meer/ Disney

Dean John-Wilson, however, is very a likeable and sensitive Aladdin; and Jade Ewen is a fiery and somewhat spoilt Princess Jasmine. Both of whom were good (not great) but I could not ignore the extremely strong Americanised accents really preventing me from truly believing in their performances. But I enjoyed Don Gallagher as the scheming vizier, Jafar, who brought comic relief styled very much in a pantomime way. He was however to my satisfaction, very much like the Jafar in the Disney animation even if he was slightly more amusing and less scary.

Overall Aladdin was a very enjoyable experience for a Sunday afternoon. I wouldn’t say it is worth possibly going to see for a few more months yet (wait till the prices come down a little), but then I feel at a more affordable price it’s a fun show and will certainly put you in a cheerful mood to start your Monday off. What it isn’t is a serious, high flying West End musical to rival The Lion King or Les Miserables. So be sure to know that before being disappointed.

Do let me know if you have also been lucky enough to see this musical and let me know if you agree or disagree, as I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.

Much Love,
Alissa Marie

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

17 stress busting top tips – if they work for me, they'll work for you!

Image result for stressed
Picture courtesy of

Everyone goes through stress at some point, and it is nothing to be ashamed of or complacent about. Stress can occur at work with deadlines or a nasty boss, at home when you are worried about a friends or loved one, or even within oneself such as worrying about your own ability and your lack belief in yourself. Whatever is causing it, stress will look different to everyone and it could be that it makes you very tired, very grumpy, or you may feel very emotional and upset. Firstly, I know it is easy for me to say – but try not to worry. It will get better. This has been something I have been telling myself for the past two days as I am trying to look and apply for new jobs, sort two of my best friends birthdays, organise dress try fittings for my role as Maid of Honour, get my work done to very tight deadlines, ensure I am keeping up with my blogging commitments of two articles per week,  and on top of that viewing houses and arranging mortgage meetings. (Cor – it looks mental when I write it all down!?) Stress won’t last, but I will. I am strong, I work hard and I will be okay. And you know what? So will you! I have compiled some of my own top tips as well as some of my favourites across the web. I hope that these help you to break free from your worries and find your smile again.

1. Try doing some breathing exercises: Sit still and focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply for eight seconds, then exhale slowly for eight seconds. Repeat this five or six times. It helps bring more oxygen to the brain. (You can do this at home or at work. Just find somewhere quiet to go so you don’t look mad at your desk!)

2. Stretch. Being stress will tense all of your muscles, setting of headaches and goodness knows what else! Try lowering your chin down, slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder to release tension in your neck and shoulders. If lying down, starting from your toes and working upwards. Squeeze and tense each muscle in turn before relaxing them. This technique really helps me, and afterwards always seems to help me fall asleep!

3. Make faces (try imitating Jim Carrey) in a mirror to stretch out tense facial muscles -- and provide a good laugh, too!

4. Be optimistic. Think of ways to turn difficulties into opportunities.

5. Count your blessings. (I love this one!) Make a list of everything you're grateful for and keep it handy for when you need reminding. (I like to stash mine in my purse.)

6. Find a stress-free sanctuary. Go to a spot where you can find some peace and privacy, even if it's a bathroom cubicle.

7. Go for a 20 minute walk. Getting some fresh air will not only boost endorphin's through exercise but will also get you some fresh air and help to clear your head. Feeling better already?

8. Visualise. Breathe deeply and think of a place that gives you comfort: a private beach, a garden, a cozy room, you bed? Be creative and get taken away!

9. Have a tech free zone or turn off your tech for a few hours. Sometimes it is just the thought that you may get a call or text that has us worrying. To properly switch off – turn them off!

10. Have a banana. It'll boost your energy and replace potassium, which is depleted quickly during times of distress. (This is something I did not know before. But from experience and a whole bag of bananas later – I can tell you it really does work!!!)

11. HUG. I love hugs. Go find a friend, family member or partner who will give you an amazing hug. Human contact helps to make us feel safe and happier. Also hugging yourself can help to comfort you too. Who knew?!

12. Make yourself a cuppa. Long hard day? How good does it feel to sit and unwind with a really good cup of builders tea. (If any of you guys aren’t from the UK, you may not understand the significance of a really good tea – but trust me. It’s a life saver!) Or for herbal drinks, I also love a good cup of Chamomile tea too!

13. Minimize your self-criticism. Delete the chatter in your head and choose constructive ways to look at yourself and the situation. One way of doing this is to try and focus on what you're doing instead of how you're doing.

14. Keep a stash of de-stressers on hand. This could be a holiday snap of your favourite spot, a book poems or a letter from someone you love. Or for the less gushy types, how about  an item that's guaranteed to give you a good chuckle: maybe a hilarious picture of you and you friends on holiday, or a video of your mum dancing at your sisters wedding….. anyone? Oh just me then!

15. Try using calming scents. Essential oils such as lavender, geranium, petitgrain, sandalwood, neroli, ylang-ylang and bergamot are supposed to help soothe and relax. Combinations of these oils can be used in either spray, roll-on or diffuser form, or as a few droplets added neat to your pillow or a hanky.

16. Find a stress busting pal. Work with your friend to help cheer each other up in times of need. How about trying the "5 x 5" method? You each take five minutes to talk about your problem or whats worrying you and another five minutes to work on a solution. Then swap!

17. Get a massage. (This is possibly my favourite one haha.) Whether you pay for a full blown hour long full body massage, or ask your partner to give you a quick 15 minute neck and shoulder massage. They will have the same effect – and you will feel so much more relaxed and ready to tackle the world. Better ye, use some of the oils I mentioned in point 15 and you are sure to feel and smell awesome in no time.

I hope you enjoyed these top tips and that some of them prove helpful. Let me know which ones are your favourites, and which ones you like to use.

Breathe everyone. Only two more days till the weekend. WE CAN DO THIS!!!!

Much Love,

Alissa Marie

Sunday, 4 September 2016

5 Top tips for getting through Monday morning

Image result for sleepy cartoon

A number of articles suggest that Tuesday is the worst day of the week – but why does dragging yourself out of bed and in to work seem that much harder on a Monday? With rain forecast for tomorrow’s weather, get reading my top tips below for a much better wake up.

11) Don’t turn that alarm off. As much as you want secretly tell yourself, having an extra 5, 10, 20 minutes will not help you rise and face the world. Instead roll of bed and get yourself into the shower – this will wake you up and help you feel fresher and in a better place to start the day. (Warning: take the shower too warm and you may find vertical napping a new problem.)

22) Use good products. In the shower use a good body scrub to rid your sleepy skin of the dust and cobwebs, and polish your morning skin to perfection. A good choice is the scrubs by The Body Shop and Sanctuary Spa. (Cherry and peach are our favourites!) For the face, try the range by St. Ives, which are tailored to all skin types. All it will take is 5 minutes maximum, and it will leave you more awake and feeling fresher. What’s not to scrub?

33)   Eat. As much as you’re feeling slightly… bleugh. Yes bleugh! You need to try and fuel your body for the day. The best options would be porridge with fruit and seeds thrown artistically on top, or perhaps some scrambled eggs to keep you full till lunch. But don’t have time for that? Down a glass of water, Grab some almonds, a piece of fruit, and a yoghurt to give your body the boost it needs to get you to tea time at 11am.

44)    Walk this way. Sitting snuggled between two burly commuters or propped up against the window for a nap is dangerous of knocking you off of your high and making you late for work. Instead try and get the blood flowing and get off of the train or bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. Come rain or shine it will do your body good and help you to focus on the day ahead. Problem solved.

55)    Keep hydrated. Throughout all of this, you need to be keeping your intake of water high. Without it, our bodies very quickly go into hibernation mode and it can cause tiredness, headaches and can cause you to eat more in order to keep your strength up. That’s a one way ticket to weight gain – and no lady actively wants that!

I hope you found some of my top tips helpful. Do you have any that you can share with me?

With that in mind, I think I’m gona go prepare my food for tomorrow, get out my clothes ready and get a good old early night!

Enjoy your weeks guys!

Much Love,

Alissa Marie

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

tB Cooks: Smoked Basa in Lemon and Paprika

This is so simple and literally one of the best dishes ever! JB has a couple of friends who are really into fitness. I would say I am a fitness fan, but I am nothing compared to these two super buff cross fit guru's! So having them round for dinner was a big worry for me, until I remembered this awesome and super quick little recipe that not only had them impressed, but is incredibly healthy too.

The finished meal

Okay so I perhaps need to work on my presentation. But once people taste this, they will not care how you've chosen to serve this. 

What you will need:
- Smoked Basa Fillets (These are from Sainsbury's and come in a beautiful yellow colour.)
- Spring onions
- Smoked Paprika (you can use normal, but I love smoked paprike the best.)
- Fresh Spinach
- Microwavable Quinoa (you can make this from scratch - but theres no harm in cheating!)
- 1 fresh lemon per two fillets of Basa
- Kitchen foil
- baking tray
- Sharp knife and one table spoon
- 1 sauce pan

1) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
2) Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the Basa fillets. Put the fillets in to foil and on the baking tray. Include the remains of the lemon for more flavour and lightly dust with paprika. Finely chop the spring onions and sprinkle them on top. Put in to the oven for 20-25 minutes. (Keep checking.)
3) When the fish is almost done. Put the spinach into a saucepan with a little bit of butter and saute for a few minutes until wilted and yummy!
4) Microwave the Quinoa as per the packet instructions (2 minutes) and cut the avocado to your own preference.
5) Serve! Sprinkle more paprika as needed.

One super tasty dinner - and incredibly healthy too!

Before cooking...

I really hope you enjoy this recipe, and that your friends are just as impressed as mine! Let me know how it turns out or if you have flavoured it with anything different!

Much yummy love,
Alissa Marie

Monday, 29 August 2016

Happy Days: Mega Nyx Haul

Okay so you know I said I'm trying to save?! Well that all went completely out of the window yesterday when I stumbled across an almost deserted boots, where I didn't have to bob, weave and dive around the Nyx counter. It really gave me an opportunity to have a proper rummage through and to try out a number of their products at my leisure. The result? I couldn't help buying way too much! So let me share the bits I have pick up along with a review of the bits I've already tried this bank holiday

For your face...

Nyx Shine Killer - matte primer
I have tried a fair few matte primers in my time as I'm a person who does tend to get a little shiny as the day wears on. So I picked up this matte primer without expecting too much. However the clear, velvet like serum that I smoothed across the back of my hand really did seem to effortlessly matteify my skin but also seemed to help brighten it. Which is odd because the primer does not claim to brighten skin, nor does it have any shimmery pigments to it. But so far, I'm impressed. And retailing in at £xxx I thought I should give this one a go! Let me know if you've already tried this, and share your top recommendations for any others you think I'd like. 

Nyx's Matte Finish Long Lasting Setting Spray
I have never used a setting spray... (pause for all of your horrified gasps). I don't know if they work or if they are worth the investment, but i thought I would give it a go. If these turn out to be any good, I will re-update this blog post to tell you. Wish me luck!

For your eyes...

Nyx's Jumbo Eye Pencil Crayon
Now I'm not a huge one for eye shadow, and only use various nude and brown shades when I do. But I saw these crayon like shadows and just had to give them a go as when testing them on the back of my hand they were highly pigmented, really good creamy colours and defiantly stayed put even as I was trying to scrub them off with a tissues. Therefore to go with my blonde hair and blue eyes, I stuck to very natural and earthy tones. I also wanted shades that I could easily blend together to create a cool and effortlessly easy smokey eye.

The colours I bought were
617 Iced Mocha - Is the shade in the back of the photo, a darker smokey eye type shade.
625 Sparkle Nude - is the shade in the foreground of the photo below, perfect as a day time colour or base to use with the darker shade for a night out brown smokey eye.

Again I have not yet tried them on my lids yet, but on my hand they went on really easily, blended well and then stayed put during the rest of my shopping trip!

Nyx's small felt eye liner
I normally use liquid liner from Rimmel, but thought I would try this style of liner out to see if I could finally master a cat flick due to it pointed end and felt tip like quality. Not sure how easy it will be to master, so any helpful hints - please all throw them my way. However from trying this on the back of my hand it is highly pigmented, extremely black and will hopefully make my eyes - POP!

Nyx's Big and Loud Lash primer
I have only ever used a lash type primer once before and that was with the duel ended L'oreal mascara which was a hit back in like 2004, before we even properly knew about primers. So I cautiously picked up this little product and turned it over several times , reading the label back to front to try to work out whether this is something that my make up bag desperately needs! Again i am yet to use it but wanted to share my purchases with you all. I shall update you as soon as i have used it.

For your lips

Soft Matte Lip Creme and Long Wear Lip Liner
Okay so these are things I have already tried and I can tell you they are brilliant! Nyx's soft Matte Lip Cream and Nyx long wear lip liner. They are both highly pigmented, non-drying, come in a range of great colours and really do stay put for hours even if you've been eating or drinking. The last time I went on a day outing with my friends, I applied the lip liner as a lipstick at around 7.00am and didn't need to reapply till around 3.00/4.00pm! 

The colour I already had in my make up bag was Milan - SMLC11 a gorgrous summer pink. That is bright, cheerful and looks great on every skin tone. The others I bought in this haul are;

Madrid - SMLC27 - It looks like a brown colour from the outside of the tube, but it actually comes out as a very nice burnt red. I plan on wearing this on a night out for drinks after work to take my outfit from day to night.

Copenhagen - SMLC20 - It is a rich purple type colour. It will be fabulous for those long, dark winter months that i am dreading so much. But this this lip colour... i know i can get through it.

Istanbul - SMLC06 - This is a lighter shade than my Milan one, and therefore a little more natural. It is more of a baby pink colour and therefore will be my go to work colour. Subtle enough for work, but still absolutely gorgeous. 

As well as these, I also bought a giant crayon in pillar box red for my lips. This is an essential for any make up bag. I recently lost my Rimmel lipstick on a night out and so thought i would give this a go. After having tried it out on my lips - it looks fantastic!! I love it already!!!

Istanbul - SMLC06

Madrid - SMLC27

Copenhagen - SMLC20
Nude Shoes Lip Liner -  SLLP14
Finally my brows...

Nyx's Tinted Brow Mascara and Nyx's Sculpt and Highlight Brow Contour
I bought these two to complement each other, a blonde pencil to fill in my brows and give them a solid and defined shape and a mascara to set them in place and take them up a notch. I plan on using these before work tomorrow, so will update you on how they look!

I promise to update you guys on which products I love the most. In the meantime - get in touch with me to let me know your favourite pieces and lets share top tips too!

Much Love and Happy Bank Holiday!

Alissa Marie

Sunday, 21 August 2016

tB loves: Zara Autum/ Winter collection

Zara Autumn/Winter 2016

HEY GUYS – [quick apology that I have not posted consistently over the past 2 weeks. I have been manic at work and home, so I really have struggled to get any decent content together. Hopefully things will quieten down, and from now on and I will try to go back to my usual two posts per week. One thing I couldn’t ignore though was the incredible new collection at Zara….]
As a woman in my mid-late twenties I sometimes find it sometimes hard to dress my age, finding something which is still young and carefree but at the same time effortlessly glamorous and sophisticated. Know what I mean? 
Well praise the Lord, as many of the pieces in Zara's new collection can help. With luxe embroidery, casual but quality tees and stylishly tailored pieces, Zara is on top form to be the first stop for all of your Autumn/ winter conundrums! 
Lets start with the incredible coat and sweater above:
£38 -
This fairly thin but luxurious looking sweater from Zara is perfect for those autumnal evenings. Dress it up with a nice chunky gold necklace, or a delicate little silver chain for the perfect day look. Paired with these luxe trousers and trainers - you have a cool look for work as well as after work drinks.
£89.00 -
How is this coat £89.00?! Quick and get to Zara ladies as if this a mistake - they will not leave it on there for long!!!! I love a nice monochrome hounds tooth type jacket. Sophisticated British tailoring at its best. Literally tempted to abandon this article now to head on over to Zara!

Speaking of monochrome... loads of the other pieces I am loving seem to be black or white with the exception of the killer accessories.

This mustard golden embellished bag is absolutely gorgeous. As a self confessed bag addict, I am always on the hunt for new gems and this one really caught my eye. It's the perfect warm mustard colour for A/W, yet boasts these fabulous gold charms and insect motifs! Plus at £29.99 it really is a complete steal, and there seems no reason why I should not have it! 

 The amazing Biker boots to the top of this picture are £89.99. But with that very thick heal and great buckles, I think it will really keep in shape and that they will last a long time. Similarly the amazing red calf boots seen just hidden underneath the cream coat and trousers are retailed at £169.00. So ladies, we can either wait till sale time, or we save save save and take the plunge. They are statement footwear and won't look right with everything. But with black or blue jeans and a cool graphic tee, you will truly look a million dollars.

I really am so excited by all of these amazing finds. I am only awaiting pay day to see what I can possibly allow myself to spend when I am saving ruthlessly for a house. However I can live vicariously through you all - so go go go and let me see all of the beautiful things you buy.

Enjoy the Bank holiday weekend guys!

Much love,
Alissa Maire


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

My top tips for getting an 'A' for effort every single time.

Can you put your hand up and say that you honestly put 110% into your relationships with your friends, colleagues, family and partners? That you frequently go above and beyond to help them, look out for them or make them smile? 

I thought as much. Yet some of you may be thinking, it's not possible to put 110% into your relationships! I would argue that although it is difficult, time consuming and often draining to do so - we can all certainly do more than we currently do. I can hear some of your thinking... 'But why?! What do they do for me?' Or 'I'm so busy and barely have time for myself! I can't spend any more time on other people!' Again, I am here to tell you that you can and how it is possible. I am no expert by any means, on how to juggle your many commitments and mates, I'm here to tell you how I try to put in max effort and how I get max return. As you will find that the more effort you put in with the people in your life, you will inevitably get more out! 

So how do we do this?

1) Get organised! As little miss mentally organised who buys Christmas cards for the next year in the January sales, I know that by getting organised and getting in there early I am saving myself hassle by ticking things off my list ahead of time. You can get into the habit of planning ahead, although you may insist you don't want to, but it is a fact that when people are prepared and organised they are less stressed, more focused and happier. Go out, get yourself a small pocket sized notebook and carry it with you wherever you go. I love these ones from Zazzle or Not on the High Street which you can have personalised with your name! Or if you prefer, use your notes section on your mobile. That way you always have your planner at your fingertips and can easily stay on top of everything you need to remember. Now you have a planner and you've pushed your level of enthusiasm to overdrive after your morning latte, think about all of the important things you have coming up over the next year and most importantly all of the things your nearest and dearest have coming up over the next year.... Your mum's 60th birthday? Best friend is getting married? Sister is trying for a baby? Another friend is buying a house? Several more are moving up the career ladder? Right, jot all of these down and then arrange them into a rough timeline across the year. You are off to a great start! (Okay so I know we cannot always guess what we will be up to/ what your mates will be up to, but this is a full roof way to ensure you at least have your eye on the ball for all of the obvious stuff. Meaning that when other things do crop up, you aren't as stressed and can deal with it swiftly and efficiently!) Right from your list you can now see that auntie Mavis is turning 88 next month, and you have to start paying for a hen party. Ta da! You are already on your way to making yourself more efficient and putting in my effort into the people you love. 

2) Get a bday and events planner and stock up on cards. Okay for the not so crazily organised amongst you this tip may seem like a step too far. But trust me it's a god send! These planners are arranged month by month and allow you to list those who's birthdays/ anniversaries fall each month and you simply slot cards into them for specific people. That means you are never caught out and will never again be late for a friends birthday! Check out these cuties from A Place for Everything and Busy B.

3) Get a diary. I love this sophisticated personalised one on Not on the High Street. Or for the technologically advanced, use the calendar app on your phone. Don't just include dates to meet your friends, but make sure you write in little things that they've told you including; interview dates, their dogs birthday, or their brothers wedding. That way you can remember to text them a quick little message so say you've thought of them. Again I know this sounds a lot of effort, but it will make your mates day that you thought of them. Plus once your on top of this, it doesn't feel like a chore any longer and will in fact become a doddle.


4) Finally hop to it! Now you have your plan it's all about the execution! So next time you are in town/ doing your online shop grab a card for auntie Mav's, and get money out of your bank to save for the hen do. Going to a friends for dinner? Pick up a little gift before you go! Having a plan is only as useful as how you utilise it. So check it and update it regularly to stay on track! It will also help you to manage your money and spread the cost of expensive excursions. 

A little effort goes a long way, and as you up your game so will those around you. Hey - but what if they don't appreciate your effort? Then they were never really friends to begin with, and you should focus your energy elsewhere! You will always have those people who never give but take all of the time. But this doesn't mean you should be one of them. Lead the way, and show people how good it is to give, and I am sure you will get it back. As I personally really do believe that you get out what you put in.

Much love,
Alissa Marie

Thursday, 11 August 2016

My Top tips to showing gratitude

So as some of you will know, it was my birthday last week, and the message of love and thoughtful gifts I was given left me pretty bowled over with gratitude. So many people took the time to wish me well and to think of me and I wanted the thank them all and to make sure they know how much a appreciate them. 

But with everyone being so busy, and due to having limited funds, I know that many people just don’t know what they can do to show the people they love how valued and appreciated they are. Well here are my three top tips for helping to show gratitude.

First things first - never ever assume that people know how grateful you are. Even granny who sends you £20 every birthday and Christmas. She may be family, but never assume she knows how much you appreciate the security and cushion created by her £20, or the fact that with her help you can now afford that new bag you've been saving for. Pick up the phone, give her a call and thank her for her generosity. It will absolutely make her day, you will feel great for having done it and your gratitude won't have gone unnoticed. Hey - because of your good manners you may even get more next year!

 Take the time to send a text/ email/ or best yet a card to everyone who went of out of their way. I appreciate sending over 10 cards might be a little costly, so choose your recipients wisely. Did your Mum, Dad and Best friend do the most? Okay they get the royal treatment and a card! Buy a pack of thank you cards, as its much more cost effective, plus you have some stashed away for last minute acts of kindness. Then hand them out if possible. I live further away from my family now so I always post them. It may cost me a little more, but what is 80p for family who have put in so much love, thought, money and effort for you? For others, compose a generic message which you can quickly and easily add some personalisation to and message them via email, text or whatsapp. Honestly – it will make them feel a million dollors knowing you liked their gift and that you value their efforts.

Finally for the royal treatment. This hands down goes to my family every year, plus JB and my bestie Barney. They make so much effort to come and see me, surprise me, put on a party or really think long and hard about their gift choices. I always feel so in awe of them each birthday and Christmas and then stress how I will live up to them. But any how, I like to get a little something for these people to say a big thanks for all of their love. This might only be some chocolate for my parents and Barney, ice cream for Josh and a little plant for my sister but to show them I thought so much of their effort that I want to give them something too is very selfless and special. It only cost me around £15 to do, but I know it made their day. But if you don’t have the funds, can you make your parents breakfast in bed with a thank you note? IOU your bestie a glass of vino? Or pick up the bill for 2 cinema tickets when out with your boyfriend or girlfriend? It becomes so much more manageable over time and I know they will really appreciate it.

What are your top tips for showing gratitude?

Much Love,
Alissa Marie

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Happy Days: My Birthday!

What a week!

My birthday was actually on Thursday this week and so I was lucky enough to only have a 3 day week at work, followed by a glorious 4 day weekend! Hurrah! In that time I was completely overwhelmed by all of the love and birthday wishes that were showered on me over the weekend.

I know that I feel this way every single year, but it really does hit you by the sheer number of people who give up time during their busy lives to facebook, text or post a card saying - "Hey I thought of you - happy birthday!" I do always try to do this for my friends and family but it is worth remembering due to the pure joy i have felt over the past few days.

So what have I been up to? Well on Wednesday my lovely university girls took me to Polpo in Soho. An amazing Italian restaurant serving small tapas like dishes. I may try to do a review on this place - however I was too busy having fun that I basically took no photo's so we shall see! The staff were attentive and friendly but it has to be the knock out food that really makes this places - which is a good thing considering it is very pricey. For the three us us with starters, mains and desserts plus alcohol was over £200! But as it was my birthday I decided to treat myself. Check out the cakes my friends got me and the cute collage one of the girls made!

On my birthday itself, JB and my beautiful big sis planned a wonderful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych which is on the Strand in Central London. Wowee was this magical! Firstly the setting for the tea is in the Hotel's lobby in their dining area, which features big and impressive sculptures and large floor to ceiling windows giving it a really expensive and luxurious feel. Our waitress was very nice, patient and explained each part of the tea to us in detail. The menu for the tea included mini leak and Stilton quiches, roast beef sandwiches, egg and cress little rolls, blueberry brioche rolls, a golden chocolate egg each with cheesecake with a mango coulis in it (like a giant creme egg looking thing!),  fruit salad flavoured candy floss, cake pops, mini milkshakes, a choice of tea and a choice of alcoholic drink for a little extra - and much much more! We were so full, we had to have a doggy bag! My top tip for this place would be that if you are going to having a alcoholic drink with this - definitely go for the cocktail. You can have champagne anywhere! But this cocktail is served in a glass tea pot with dry ice, meaning this is smokes and bubbles and looks incredible. Check out my collage below for further inspiration! 

Me and JB <3
On Saturday my sister invited my close family around for a BBQ which was basked in glorious sunshine! It was 27 degrees and thankfully we had umbrella's to sit under for a bit of a break - not that JB sat under them. He loves the sun and goes the most incredible deep olive colour. BOOOO. I take forever to tan and nowadays am too concious of sun damage to sit in the sun for long. The day was amazing. My brother in law and JB manned the BBQ, my mum and sister kept the pimms topped up all day and my dad looked after the needs of my grandparents, leaving me to just chill and enjoy the day and everyone's company! I was so happy to see my grandparents, my Grandad is 88 years old now and was determined to come to the BBQ even though he was completely drained at the end of the day. He told me with a wink that I am worth it! We even had a quick game of pinata! 

Being together was the best thing in the world and really made my birthday. It really is all about the people in your life and so its so important to value and appreciate them.

I hope you all had a great week/ weekend and if any of you celebrated your birthday's too - HAPPY BIRTHDAY... Leo's rule!!! Send me some pictures of your best birthday moments! Until next week. 

Much birthday love,

Alissa Marie

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