Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Eness cosmetics - perfect gifts!

How's your Christmas prep going?!

We have the tree up, everything else is a work in progress but the tree is up! Thankfully we have finally been paid.....was November a super long month for anyone else? And so the shopping can begin.

A while ago we were invited to check out a new store opening in Birmingham - Eness. The easiest comparison to make is that it is like a Bodyshop, except way less overwhelming and prices are much better value. The store is divided in ranges and then each range is divided into products, so if you love a flavour you can buy the whole range of products easily.

It's all so pretty
Products include nail cream, hand cream, body powder, body lotion, tissue oil, deodorant, foam bath, body wash, body spray, soaps, hand wash and scented candles. They have a men's range too. Body lotions start at £4.50, nail creams £3.50, Body Butters £5, tissue oils £6 - all affordable in our book.
The prettiest range of all

We thought now would be an appropriate time to mention the store in case you were looking for any family friendly gifts for Christmas (or any occasion). We ended up bringing home the Strawberry body lotion, some Rose Tissue oil (great for scars / stretch marks etc) and the Diamonds body lotion because it was so pretty. The products smell delicious and have lasted really well.

Eness are a ethically responsible company that focus on making products without cruelty. To the earth or to animals. Even better because the company actually work to protect black rhino's so your purchases support a greater good!  

You can check out the full range available and the Christmas deals on the website here! (See if you can spot yours truly on the news page!)

Birmingham is their first UK store and it's well worth checking out if you are in the city, but they have plans to expand - not that you need to wait as you can buy online. Perfect for Christmas - see :)

Anyway if you try it let us know and if you have any great idea for gifts or shops to check out leave a comment - we love random suggestions!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Magical Lantern Festival Birmingham

It's almost Christmas right? Well Birmingham is certainly in full festive mode. The German market is up and open in the city centre. The Christmas lights have all been turned on in the surrounding areas. And now the Botanical Gardens are glowing with lanterns. It's all so pretty.

This is actually the first year the Magical Lantern Festival is in Birmingham (there are also events in Leeds and London). It officially opens on the 25th of November but we were lucky enough to attend the preview night.

Covering the 15 acre site at the Botanical Gardens a trail guides you from display to display. The set up is gorgeous and when you aren't looking at the beautiful lights you are able to enjoy the stunning surroundings. We will be back to check out the Botanical Gardens during the day at some point!

There is a clear Chinese theme, so keep your eyes peeled for the star signs and pandas. You'll also spot Santa. And in true Birmingham fashion there is even a bull just like the one outside the Bull Ring.

Our favourite was the fairy dress for sheer beauty and scale it was impressive. 

These are just a small selection of the lanterns on display as we didn't want to show everything in case you do go.

There is plenty of food available - you can even get flavoured marshmallows that can be toasted over a fire. Our favourite was a raspberry and champagne. We also really wished we had been able to try the nutella & marshmallow or the white chocolate & jam sweet crepes but ran out of time.

There is also a tea room at the venue should you need to warm up after walking around.

A couple of things to think about if you do plan to go. Parking! There isn't much so if you do drive look to park on the street (not right outside the gardens). Alternatively there is parking advice here: TRAVEL. 

What to wear! Waterproof footwear is essential as the trail takes a slight detour through areas covered in leaves and it is already a little muddy.

If you do go let us know what you think. The event runs until the 2nd of January. Adults tickets are £13.87 (inc booking fee), children are £9.62 (inc booking fee).

Christmas is coming!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Do it for the dogs!

So I mentioned in a post the went up a few weeks ago (here) that while in Boise for a wedding Laura and I signed up to do See Spot Walk, a charity walk raising money for the Idaho Humane Society.

It's not an organisation that we had ever heard of or seen much about until Julia - Laura's school friend - donated a art work to them to promote the walk. We loved the t-shirt design so much that we were happy to sign up just for the t-shirt.

In signing up we got reading about the great work the Society does and wanted to find out if we could help on the day. It turned out that they needed dog walkers to accompany the dogs that were available for adoption so we signed up.

In all honesty I had no idea how the day would go, part of me feared that I would want to leave with the dogs and part of me feared I would spend the day in tears. In fact both those fears came true but I pushed through knowing that the money we donated and the time we were giving were benefiting the Society and therefore the dogs.

We picked up Rudy from the dog carrel. He was sweet, excitable and desperately wanted to be friends with every dog and human he could find. Compared to Bisbee, Rudy was a big dog. Where Bisbee struggles to reach my hip Rudy had no issue reaching my face. By the end of the 2 mile walk I was exhausted.

We walked with Laura's school friend Kelcie and her dog and even with 3000+ other dogs around Rudy stayed close and well behaved. He was clearly happy to be out and about and won us over quicker than we thought. He had two tricks that he insisted on performing - sit and lay down - for treats and when I had to walk him on stage for the adoption mutt strut he added 'smother me in kisses' to his repertoire.

When it was announced that any adoption made that day would have the fees covered both Laura and I burst into tears - unfortunately it happened just as I was about to go on stage. Sadly we don't know if Rudy found his forever home that day but we did see a few other adoptions agreed. We are planning to stay in contact with the Society to follow Rudy's story. If we were based in Idaho we know we would have taken him home in a heartbeat. I think Bisbee is secretly relieved there is an ocean separating us.

To anyone who has adopted a shelter dog - thank you. We had always planned to rescue a dog until Laura was bitten by a dog in Thailand, that changed things. Understandably Laura gets nervous around energetic, bigger dogs and we wanted to know exactly where our first dog had come from so we could be confident from the start. Who knows when it comes to our next dog we may be able to do things differently. Until then we will support and donate in any way we can.

While we appreciate that many of you reading this live no where near Idaho we wanted to highlight the cause of dog protection. We understand there are many situations that lead to a dog needing to be re-homed and are grateful to everyone who volunteers in some way - you are stronger that Laura and I.

By the end of the walk we sat in the car and cried for a full 5 minutes, feeling somewhat helpless that we could do no more and sad that Rudy would be heading back to the shelter. We are terribly emotional dog owners - poor Bisbee often has us crying on her declaring our undying love.

Even the MASSIVE cinnamon bun didn't make me feel that much better.

I mean even this advert made to make you smile brought a tear to me eye.... a happy tear but still. I need to get a grip!

Do you volunteer anywhere? Or have a rescue pup?

We donated our first fivers (the UK launched a new plastic £5 note and you donate your first one to charity) to Birmingham Dogs Home and the Dogs Trust. This is a short video from them full of feels.

Maybe make your Christmas present request a donation for somewhere or make a donation on behalf of someone - i'm sure every little bit helps.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Focus on the positives!

Is the nightmare that Trump is President-Elect over yet?

What a week it has been....what a roller-coaster of emotions. It's been almost a week and I still don't feel as if it has sunk in.

I am simultaneously seeking news while wanting to afford anything new to feed into my fears.

What if it's not that bad....he did say that Gay Marriage was law of land and he won't seek to change that.....but then Pence is involved and he has voted against every bill protecting gay people and actively supports gay conversion therapy (I thought that was buried along with the antiquate views).

One thing is for sure I am not ready to accept the new-normal. I can't dismiss the awful comments that have sparked the wave of behaviour in 'Trumps name' - here's just a few examples I've seen. The USA seemed to have come so far only to be set back years by a nonchalant voting public. I mean I am still reeling from the fact that 43% of voters didn't vote!!!!

However life has to go on and if you can't beat them then you have to focus making any bit of difference you can locally. I am glad that the aftermath is not full of acceptance. I hope the anger, frustration and shock continue to make people want to take action. Whatever this President-Elect has planned I am not sure I am for it.

On the brighter side of life though I am forever glad to the people who have decided to flood the internet with Joe Biden and Obama memes. Poor Laura must be sick of me shoving my phone in her face to show her another.....but seriously....how can you not smile?!
Hopefully you can read this selection.....

And rather than wallow in devastation we have decided to throw ourselves into Christmas. As you'll know from many, many previous posts Laura LOVES Christmas and needs no excuse getting the prep started. And while I am the more reserved one I can't help but want to focus on  the fundamentals of Christmas - family, food and joy!

Here's a post about our favourite Christmas things....A Very Merry Christmas

Can you spot the lesbian couple?

As we never do things by halves the first of our many Christmas activities was a trip to the Ideal Home Show Christmas event. Hosted in London and Manchester we decided to head north. With our free tickets in hand (courtesy of the amazing Sam KA) and indulgence in the wonder of Christmas. From the snow covered entrance to the stunningly beautiful trees the welcome was nothing short of a wonderful winter land. Then the choir started and that was it Christmas was a GO......Ho, ho ho :)

After a food refuel and map scoping session our route through the exhibition was planned. Food followed by gifts and gadgets finishing with decorations. Within 3 hours we were done, laden with goodies, warm from the exercise and ready for a sit down. Thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly exhausting.

We were staying in Sheffield overnight so the journey back from Manchester took us via the Peak District. That part of the world is always so beautiful and the scale is breath taking. We took a short shopping break at a new outlet village to stock up on dinner food and then did the final part of the journey comparing purchases.

On Sunday Christmas phase two happened. A Christmas Crafternoon. The KA's are always amazing hosts but if there is one thing that will make Laura over-joyed it's the opportunity to craft. It turns out that like us the KA's have a craft box....Laura was too excited.

Laura's handy work
As a non-crafter I took to the dog sitting role as if I had been born to it. While I tried to be 'present' in the activities my lack of commitment to a task and frustration when it doesn't look like it should makes me a terrible partner. Thankfully with friends who share the interest I could make a swift exit for a dog walk.

Back home we received delivery of our 7ft Christmas tree - a promise I made to Laura last year after 5 years of a 'small' tree placed on a box. I am nervous and excited to see the new tree fill our lounge. As with most things I know Laura will make it work....I will just have to be of assistance in getting it to a position.

Our next event is Euro Disney in Paris at the weekend for the Christmas celebrations, the Minnie ears are down and there has been a ridiculous amount of Disney gear purchased - check out our other social media accounts for the updates!

How's your Christmas prep going?

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

How did this happen America? #imstillwithher

America, America, America.....

What can I say that hasn't already been said.

It's terrifying, shocking, disappointing, sad, upsetting......

The world in which Trump is president is scary.

Hate won. Anger won. Those who want to 'take back their country' (although i'm not sure who has it) won. The bigots, racist, sexist, homophones won. The biggest bully won. And not by a small margin. Trump got his message out loud and clear to the white, male voters who made all the difference.

The devastation is pouring out on Twitter, on Facebook, on the news - it's everywhere. It's worse that Brexit. It's way worse that Brexit. This isn't just a European tragedy this is a worldwide tragedy.

On a side note isn't United States a somewhat ironic name now right?! I mean if the #CalExit in 2019 is a real thing then what is the USA without California?!

And yet when Trump took the stand to give his acceptance speech was I the only one shocked to hear how....how democratic it was?

He spent the first few lines praising Hillary. He spent the next few lines stating that 'Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people' (Sounds rather like 'stronger together!!!')
Then he went further.... 'It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country......It is a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people -- and serve the people it will.'

And he finished with 'No dream is too big, no challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach.'

If you want to read the who speech it's here: Donald Trump victory speech

Who knows if the promises made in the speech meant anything. I challenge his and Pence's beliefs - I dream of a world of acceptance whomever you love, whatever religion you believe in and whatever the colour of your skin. Lets hope my dream is not too big and my challenge too great!

So can love still win? Can the changes and developments we have seen in recent years still move forwards?! I hope so. I hope that Pence idiot gets no where near gay marriage. I hope that the number of people who have seen the light and realised that a world where individuals can love whomever they want ONLY creates more love increases. I fear that I am naive when reading articles like this.

I hope that those in minority communities integrate further rather than isolating themselves. Whether Donald believes it or not the evidence is clear that immigrants are not bad people. In fact all as Americans are immigrants and they built a GREAT America I think history shows that America needs them.

As Michelle Obama said we have to go high when they go low. America is at a real low so hopefully those who don't share Donald's opinion can take the high road and focus on making a difference locally. The time will have to come when love, kindness and acceptance trumps hate again. It just has to.

If anything hasn't this campaign shown that ANYONE can become president? That it doesn't take a lifetime of dedication, that if you have a few solid ideas that appeal to the masses you are good (a few million $$$$'s would also be beneficial). It's a scary thought but if an idiot can be elected then surely that opens the door for someone with commonsense and decency to sweep in when 2020 rolls around.

Our condolences America. May Trump's version of progress be slow (Brexit style) and may the greater good trump this evil.

And if all else is failing today and you are need of a smile these are my favs from today.....

Monday, 7 November 2016


Laura voted for Hillary. If I could vote, I'd vote for Hillary. If I had no clue what was going on purely based on everything that has come out of Donald Trump's mouth, I would vote for Hillary.

As a British/American couple we couldn't let this American Presidential Election pass without adding our thoughts to the millions, nae billions of articles written about what is possibly the scariest election in our life times.

I know you're sick of it, we are all sick of it, and so be warned - this is a ranty post.

The fear of Trump possibly becoming president is too much to bare. The thought of a man who hates anyone who is not like him leading America is terrifying. It's not just that we support Hillary - which we emphatically do - it's that the alternative option could be devastating. We want to make sure that anyone who see this and can, VOTES - and here's why.....

In the words of Lewis C.K. 'If you vote Hillary you are a grown up, if you vote Trump you're a sucker, and if you don't vote at all you are an asshole.'

It is fair to say the media we have seen is pro-Hillary, we are friends with mostly Democrats, we follow Democrats on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. We don't follow them because they are Democrats though, we follow them because we like the way they think. They see the world the way we do.

However besides everything that makes us Democrats, we have been watching and reading everything and anything we can on this election and even if we were not Hillary supporters before, we are now. Check out the video on our Facebook pages for many of the reasons we believe she will be the right choice for president.

Common sense says you can't vote for Trump:

Yep Trump riding a donkey, a bull and a wall!
He was shooting himself in the foot (with the lies)
Wearing a coat of may bills and the wall has Mexicans on one side!
We live outside America and can confirm that pretty much EVERYONE hates Trump. The media can't find anything to support him with. In a small East Sussex village we, alongside 80,000 other people, attended the annual 5th of November Bonfire Night parade. The parade includes effigies of hated figures in the world that year being taken to large bonfires to be burnt at the stake (like witches way back in the day). The six societies who create the effigies can pick anything to depict and through the years we have seen politicians, footballers, TV figures - this year four of the societies picked the same figure - DONALD TRUMP! As the effigies were taken through the streets the crowd booed on a level I have never heard and chanted 'burn him'. A bit literal, perhaps, but if this crowd of 80,000 hates Trump I can only imagine it to be representative of the UK and quite possibly Europe.

The world we live in does not want an individual who can so easily group individuals together only to insult them. It's derisive and it is the world that most decent people have fought to move away from. The fact that his Vice-President is an anti-LGBT, anti-woman's rights supporter is just as upsetting. While Hillary may be 'corrupt' - who in politics isn't - she has proven time and time again to be qualified and capable to do this job. While Donald throws a tantrum when insulted, she goes high. While he lies, lies and lies again she stick to the facts. While he has spent his career running beauty pageants, building hotels, firing people and becoming bankrupt numerous times, Hillary has dedicated her life to politics, to charity and to 'doing all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can for as long as ever you can'. I may not like the email scandals, the payment for support (payments made by Trump in the past) and I may not think she is the most clear conscience person BUT I am in no doubt that that she is a capable president.

I don't even see this as a vote between Republicans and Democrats anymore - I have forgotten the policies, the politics and indeed what each party wants to achieve, all I know is that a world where Donald Trump is president scares me.

Our final plea to anyone who hasn't voted is please get out and do so - your vote counts. The below graph shows the % of people in each age range that vote and as it stands our age range 18-39 has the lowest % of voters. Here's why that makes it SO important to vote....

Less than 6 months ago the UK voted on Brexit - when broken down, the majority of voters under 50 voted to remain in Europe and yet Brexit won. The reason -  the voter % of over 50's was significantly higher and over 50's wanted Brexit. Therefore the population most likely to pop their clogs have voted for us to leave Europe, so the impact will be felt less by them while those who will continue to work, grow up and want to be part of the European community will feel the greatest impact. The older people screwed us. Don't let that be the case in the USA.

Don't let bigoted, close minded, 'it was better back when' people win this election. America is GREAT, Donald's statement of 'Make America great AGAIN' is a nonsensical slogan - it means NOTHING! In summary get out and vote. If based on the younger vote this election wouldn't even be close! If you are an older voter think of the world you would want your kids growing up in. Make your decision for them.

We experienced first hand the negative impact an old, rich, homophobic white man can have on our lives when Republican Butch Otter put up €1million of his own money to stop gay marriage in Idaho in June 2014. Had he not done that our wedding would have been legal. The ceremony that we put all our savings into, the commitment that we declared in front of our friends and family would have legally meant something. Butch Otter took that chance away. Don't let Trump/Pence take that opportunity away from others.

America has come so far and made such progress. The nation of immigrants is a world leader. It wasn't built with walls, it was built on the collaboration of many different types of people. WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER.

Please don't forget that.

Join us: https://www.iwillvote.com/home/ 

Oh and please don't vote for a third party candidate - this election it really is a WASTED vote.

So in summary

And truthfully