One day, about a year ago now I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram (as you do, what’s with it being 2pm and then all of a sudden it’s 5pm?) and honestly I was getting fed up seeing the same kind of posts, showcasing the same kind of clothing from the same kind of brands. All of a sudden something super quirky and colourful caught my eye. Joanie Clothing’s Instagram had me hooked from the get go! I had seen some fellow bloggers posting about their clothing but honestly hadn’t paid too much attention but now I was in love. I spent ages looking through the website and was in love with how inclusive the brand seemed to be. When I say that I mean it’s not just another brand who caters to slim, fun loving Size 8’s.
The opportunity to be sent some items from them was given to me and I honestly squealed, I was so excited. I knew my following would respond well to this style of clothing, I was a little bigger than I am now at this point and I was always getting asked the best places to shop for clothes for plus size girls that weren’t fugly, basically. While I have been gifted as a PR Product the following items I am going to show you, it by no means my review is tainted. All views are my own and truly wouldn’t be sharing if I didn’t believe in the brand.
I think that it’s so important for brands to cater to all sizes – or at least more sizes than 8 – 12. Joanie Clothing’s sizes range from an 8 to 22, which for a brand that’s online is incredible and they have a comprehensive size guide for anyone who is unsure of what size to get!
I want to showcase some of the items that I have been very lucky to receive, they are constantly being worn and the quality of their clothes is insane.
(All links used are Affiliate Links, which mean I make a small % of money from the sale. AD/PR PRODUCT)
I’m a very busy person, not actually doing anything overly important but I never let my brain relax. I’m pretty certain this is some form of defence mechanism as I don’t want to allow my brain to switch off so that it can deal with the real problems. I keep myself busy so I don’t embrace the inevitable.
Since being in lockdown I still, have been very busy. Oh yes, always creating videos, editing videos, have to walk the dogs, have to to study something new, do a new course, have to do this have to do that. All of a sudden, on Tuesday my brain came to a screeching halt. My body wouldn’t move, I couldn’t lift my head and it’s like my body was forcing me to think. To think and understand my own brain. All I could do was cry, everything made me cry. I felt numb, forced to look at myself in a new light.
I’ve been very triggered recently by what I see online and honestly the littlest things can send me off on a rampage! I love social media, I love creating content and it genuinely makes me happy to create. It’s what comes after what’s posted that the problems start. It’s that damn voice. That voice that says I’m too fat to wear that. That my face isn’t pretty enough for someone to watch me do makeup. That my editing isn’t good enough. That other people have nicer feeds than mine. That those followers shouldn’t be following me. I’m a fraud, posting away when I feel like this. The list is endless I swear.
For as long as I can remember I have been very self conscious of the way I look. Honestly, from when I was a young girl and my mum would pick out clothes for me to wear and I didn’t like them but I HAD to wear them. From being in school and feeling insignificant among the other girls who had nicer hair, better teeth, skinnier legs and a tan. Not just the girls but the boys too, told me I wasn’t pretty and all the shit that usually happens in school. I mean, everyone has their insecurities but it’s only recently that I’ve learned that not everyone focuses on their insecurities quite so much as I do.
It actually really does just get in the way of life sometimes and I know that sounds dramatic. I’ve cancelled on events with brands because I can’t face looking at myself in the mirror long enough to get ready to go. I’ve been standing in my own house while people are there waiting on me to leave and I have crippling anxiety about leaving looking the way I do, wondering whether my hair is okay, my makeup is okay, my dress is okay, does my ass look super super fat in it? When we’re getting a photo before we leave the house (classic) I’m constantly thinking about how I’m going to look on the camera. Anyone else have their photo taken and immediately demand to see it? I take it and I zoom, I analyse. That photo will haunt me the rest of the evening while I’m supposed to be out having a great time. It’s exhausting. All my life, I have always been the larger friend. In every friend group, everyone else has always been slimmer, fitter – I’m like the DUFF. It’s a difficult thing to accept, when we’re all together my brain is going a million miles per hour wondering if people are seeing what I’m seeing. If a group of people are walking past and thinking it’s a shame that these amazing, gorgeous goddesses have me beside them. I know how that sounds, pathetic right? But that’s what my brain does.
I will say however, that posting on Instagram, contrary to what people think about social media has helped me come on leaps and bounds. Don’t get me wrong, my demons are very much still there, but it helps me. Every so often I have to do a cleanse of who I follow, it’s not because I don’t like the person or what they’re posting, it’s just because I don’t like the way that it makes me feel. For example, recently I unfollowed a lot of fitness accounts or people that are posting about their fitness constantly during lockdown. It’s totally fine, you post away if that’s what you like to do and if it helps your mental well-being I am all for it. What happens though, is that even though I am exercising myself, I find it completely triggering and cry. Like, just sat there tearing up because some sexy girl is lifting barbell. Is that normal? I very much doubt it.
I never really took the time to understand what’s been going on in my head for the last, let’s say 20 years but I think the time has come to accept that something isn’t right. I just assumed that everyone felt this way, that this is just a normal girl brain telling yourself you aren’t good enough and to a degree, it probably is – as I said we all have our insecurities. As it turns out, my insecurities have just gone a little too far. I’m not at this stage going to drone on about what I have or don’t have, and in no way am I looking for the kind of attention seeking messages ‘oh but you are pretty’ or ‘omg Danny DeVito I love your work.’ I simply wanted to share, and I’m sure I’ll share more another day. For now, if anyone has any similar anxieties to mine I would love to listen, together we can grow.
They say ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and my God, are they right.
Who else looks at their wardrobe and mutters under their breath (or shouts) ‘I have nothing to wear’? I was the exact same. I used to be very quick to purchase new ‘in fashion’ items that I would have worn once and cast aside almost as quick as I bought it. About a year ago I made a conscious decision to be a smarter shopper when it comes to fashion. I wanted to be able to create something capsule wardrobe like where I can mix and match a lot of my outfits so that I have endless clothing options to wear.
One thing I focused on creating was a colour scheme. I always opt for neutrals and so I have a lot of whites, browns and greys in my wardrobe. I also wear all black everyday for work so this alongside the other colours creates easily combined outfits. That’s not to say that I stop wearing bright colours when I want to but the colourful items I pick are more carefully thought out.
Below I have listed my go to wardrobe items that hopefully will give you some help when it comes to being a smarter shopper!
I am a sucker for a shirt with a collar. It’s a disgrace how many I have that are the same style, honestly! I find them so easy to wear and so it makes them the perfect wardrobe staple. A nice blouse will be one of the only things I will buy each season for example, this season the puff sleeve trend is full steam ahead and so I have bought a few. When this trend dies down I’ll still be able to wear the blouses/shirts layered underneath blazers, etc.
Similarly to blouses, I am addicted to polo necks but I genuinely think this is because if I have a dodgy tan I can always reach for a polo neck. They always look classy and my love for them started when I seen Cameron Diaz rock a white polo in The Holiday with a pair of skinny jeans, heels and an oh so fabulous coat. They are super sophisticated and even though I have a large chest, I can’t help but reach for them on a near daily basis.
Pretty much every store out there has a range of polo necks, I always head to Stradivarius or New Look for the ones I would wear all the time and again, sticking with my colour theme I have them in nude, black and white/cream. I do however have my eye on the Marks & Spencer Pure Cashmere Roll Neck Jumper, £89 – they just feel so so soft and it would be such an investment considering how much I wear them.
I feel like I wear everything with blazers these days, but these styles of high neck tops are great for under them so that you don’t get too stuffy or sweaty and your blazers are still comfortable to wear!
I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – blazers are the way forward. A versatile blazer will be your wardrobe’s secret weapon, it will match everything and my favourite thing about them is you can layer over outfits you have already worn to create new outfits. Wear them open, wear them closed with a belt, wear them draped over your shoulders, wear them any way you want and they will always look classy. Speaking from experience you are better buying block colours for your blazers ie. just black, camel, white, etc as you’ll get far more wear out of them. I have made mistakes the past and bought patterned blazers that got no more than 2/3 wears.
I feel like there’s been a lot of Topshop spam so far but I like it and that’s where my little short legs can shop easily. As someone with a short leg (28 inch) Topshop is the easiest place for me to purchase jeans to suit. My friend Maria Macfarlane is the Personal Shopper in Topshop, Victoria Square Belfast and she sorted me RIGHT out with a jeans dilemma. For any of you that are local to Belfast, I highly recommend hitting her up – it’s completely free for an appointment and she will help you create a perfect wardrobe while picking things that are perfect for your style and shape!
I had never been one for jeans when I was younger, I always preferred skirts and dresses but since Alexa Chung came floating across the pages of Heat Magazine with her cool and collected style, I had been trying to find THE pair of jeans. Enter Jamie Jeans. I have these in blue and black and with jeans I find I have an endless array of interchangeable outfits. Jeans are one of the only items that it’s deemed socially acceptable to wear on repeat over and over again and these Topshop ones wash and wear so well that it’s well worth the price.
When I am not wearing jeans you can find me 90% of the time in cigarette trousers usually paired with a cute pair of boots. Again, I find you’re better opting for block colour or a timeless pattern to see you through endless combinations. Shocker – I usually am wearing black or nude.
I always try and opt for trousers with belt loops as it adds a little something to the garment and a belt ca change up the appearance of an outfit. H&M have a great selection of trousers especially in their workwear area, so comfy and again they wear really well.
I honestly don’t know how I would get through last minute nights out, dinner dates with the girls, daytime drinking sessions and work without a pair of leather leggings. If you have not yet purchased a pair I highly recommend these as they will change your life. I recently bought these ones after seeing them on India Moon and I have never looked back.
Two words – Dr Martens. The closest you can get to slippers while looking like a shoe. Once you make it through the fluffy sock wearing stage these shoes will take you anywhere. I swear, I have had all my Dr Martens for years and they look as good as the first day I got them – except my Oxblood Chelsea Boots as honestly, they just about made it back from a Saturday night Limelight excursion.
These are without a doubt my favourite pair, you can wear them with any outfit I have listed earlier and will always look good. Whether you are opting for a daytime look or evening look – Dr Martens are awesome.
That’s all for now, trying to keep to the basics. Thanks for reading and you can follow me on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
*some of the links in the post are Affiliate Links which mean if you purchase anything using the link I may make a small commission*
Wow, it has been a hot minute since I sat down. to write something for you all but today I had the most wonderful experience that I just had to write about it. For those of you who don’t know I am from Northern Ireland and I used to live in a town called Banbridge. Banbridge is home to a stunning little boutique store called Walk in Wardrobe. Owned by a stunning girl called Laura, she and fabulous team are there and have the most amazing array of clothing I have probably ever seen.
I was kindly invited down to have a nosy at what they have to offer in store and I was not expecting to fall in love with so many pieces. I am definitely made for Autumn, especially when it comes to selecting an Autumnal wardrobe so today, I was in my element.
Before I get into anything I wanted to share that the lovely gals over at Walk In Wardrobe gave me a discount code for you guys to use, you can enter ‘CJ15’ at checkout for a limited time only to get 15% off!
Let’s talk about experience first before I get into the stunning clothing, from the second I walked in I was greeted with friendly and inviting hellos. This just sets the tone for the rest of the day as I was waited on hand and foot, I’ve honestly never experienced the depth of interest from someone in a store but Walk in Wardrobe is so much more than a store as I came to realise.
Everything in the store is expertly merchandised and laid out so it’s easy for you to see. On the ground floor lies the majority of the occasion wear so if you’re looking for something for a wedding, christening, etc then it’s perfect! The top floor then is where I fell in love with everything I touched and it’s home to the majority of the casual wear.
I picked a few of my favourite items and placed them on a rail and proceeded to act like a kid in a candy store while trying on such amazing pieces. If you follow me on Instagram then you will probably have seen these already on my stories but I wanted to have somewhere that you can revisit if you want to see them again, plus everything will be linked below the outfit. You can view them below –
Before I even came into the store I knew I wanted to try out the Black Biker Leather Jacket, £74 as I had heard so many great things about it. I built this outfit based on the leather jacket but the truth is, with a leather jacket you can wear ANYTHING. FYI, this jacket is faux leather. I picked up the Penny Tan Paperbag Waist Trousers, £59 and they were an instant hit for me, beautiful fabric and really comfy. They were a little snug round the hips and stomach for me, but that was to be expected as I have wide hips! The Heidi White Blouse, £56 was a natural addition to this outfit as honestly, nothing beats a smart crisp white shirt and to liven everything up a bit I couldn’t not try the Leopard Print Heels, £39 – a perfect daytime shoe. The heels are Goldilocksish as they are not too big and not too small.
I jazzed it up with the stunning Savannah Teddy Coat, £219 which I instantly fell in love with, such a soft material and it just screams luxury. This is definitely a piece that you will wear time and time again which makes it worth the money! When buying your items you should always try and remember what your cost per wear will be, and with this it is timeless and your cost minimal per wear.
Just showcasing another way to wear these trousers then, this time opting for the Rachelle Red Polo Neck, £54. This item comes in several shades so if you aren’t rave enough to rock the red there are plenty of options for you. At first when I looked at the price tag I did think to myself, ‘Gosh, £54 for a polo’ but the second that I put it over my head I felt instantly comforted and honestly would have paid more for the polo. This polo is delightfully light so it can be easily tucked in to shorts, skirts, jeans and trousers alike without making you look too bulky on top. I have a larger chest and a thin knit like this is perfect for me.
I had seen the Tina Tan & Red Coat, £179 on the Walk in Wardrobe’s Instagram recently and knew I had to try it out, I though it would be perfect for over these trousers. I was immediately attracted to the colours in the coat as I knew it would go with so much of my wardrobe. Literally any colour of jeans, countless trousers and considering 98% of my wardrobe is camel and black it would have been a good fit for me. I paired this outfit with the cutest White Trainers With Star Detail, £59 for a more dressed down look.
This Cara Mustard Paisley Print Shirt, £49 was one of the first things I spotted when I was in the store and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to pair it with something equally as loud just to make a real impact and so when Roisin showed me this Savannah Mustard Pleated Skirt, £78 I knew it had to combine it with the shirt! You could wear this skirt so many ways however, and with more colour than you think! It would be beautiful carried into Spring/Summer as well with beautiful white jeans, so another key investment piece! I’m a firm believer that you can wear bright pattern shirts for any occasion, whether it’s day drinking with the gals, out for a romantic dinner and you could even dress it down for the office.
The blazer. Let’s discuss this stunning ‘Arabella Green Velvet Blazer’, £89. This is on my Santa List. From the second I put it on OMG I felt so cool! I was with my Dad when he found a green velvet blazer and bought it and I remember thinking ‘oh my God I want my own blazer’ and this is it! It’s such a flattering shape, nipping in perfectly at the waist and has enough detail on it to make it look more expensive that it actually is! For £89 you might want to invest in a classic colour like black but truthfully, this green colour is a statement piece and would be easily worn to jazz up any daytime outfit. The long and short of it is – I want it. Teamed with another pair of stunning trousers, the ‘Cara Green Paperbag Trousers’, £69 fit perfectly and hugged in just the right way. Again, worn with trainers for a dressed down look but these ‘Cosmopolitan Black & White Trainers’, £49 were my fave! I thought they were so edgy and cool! To keep it light and on the more casual side Roisin grabbed me a super cute cami, the ‘Cherie Stone Animal Print Cami’, £32 but I also wanted to demo how to dress up the trousers as well so I paired with a stunning blouse which you can see below.
You can really see the details in these trousers now and it nips in at the waist. The ‘Savannah Emerald Tie Neck Animal Print Blouse’, £64 is another perfect item for me as someone with a large chest as it has a pussybow detail, which means that you don’t have to deal with buttons popping open. Any chesty ladies out there, definitely get investing in a blouse like this! It’ll change your life!
Another one of my favourite pieces I tried was definitely this ‘Arabella Trench Coat’, £98. I feel like I have said this about every item but this is truly a statement piece, that will last season to season never mind year to year. If I hadn’t already bought a short trench coat recently then this would’ve been going home with me on the bus. A trench coat can be thrown over anything, and I do mean anything. It’s that perfect jacket for when you want something light but don’t want to be too cold, want something dressy without being too dressy, want a casual ‘throw it on ‘ jacket. There is nothing that a trench coat can’t do. This is probably one of my favourite trench coats I have seen for a long time, close second was one from Zara but the length was absurdly long, this is perfect length! I teamed this up with a beautiful ‘You Are Lovely Scarf’, £29. A lovely camel and reddish tone scarf which is perfect for adding a little pop of colour to your outfit and sits perfectly over the trench coat adding a little something extra. Underneath is the same red polo and Walk in Wardrobe’s ‘Leah Black Bum Lift Skinny Jeans’, £54.
#obsessed with the dress. Roisin, who works in Walk in Wardrobe helped me out so much when I was in store and I asked her to pick out something that she loved that she thought would suit me. As I am a shortie she lifted this stunning dress out, explaining that the slit in the leg will make for a taller slimmer appearance and the faint animal pattern on the dress makes it a little more interesting than just another LBD. Not to mention the puff sleeve, which is pretty cool. Check out the ‘Carla Black Puff Sleeve Dress,’ £259.
Don’t forget discount code that you guys can use, you can enter ‘CJ15’ at checkout for a limited time only to get 15% off!
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you liked the clothes – I am obsessed with them!
Recently I have received some messages with questions about how my gymming has been going and what I have been up to since I last posted about fitness.
I started going to the gym around March time and you can read my first post about it here. Basically since then not much has changed however, I have gotten more consistent with going to the gym and I am still with my Personal Trainer. I haven’t hit my goals yet, but I am well on my way there.
Today I wanted to write about my brain in relation to getting up and going to the gym. I figured that as soon as I started seeing results that my motivation would grow and grow and I wouldn’t need to force myself to go. It’s quite the opposite. If anything I am struggling more with finding motivation to attend the gym and go to my classes, etc. but what keeps me going is how I feel after. I may feel like shit before I go or before I even leave the house, but what gets me up and at it is how free and good in myself I feel when I walk out of the gym knowing that I have accomplished something. That is the feeling I have been focusing on for the last few months. That is what keeps me motivated.
I will put together a list of what I do in the gym if that is of interest to anyone, more so to anyone who is a gym novice and maybe wants a few quick things that they could add into their own gym routine.
It’s not just going to the gym though, I have spent a lot of time looking into my diet and making changes to each meal to make it a healthier version. Now, I am no nutritionist and I genuinely know nothing other than the basics when it comes to food but I have tried to familiarise myself with the foods I should be eating and what I shouldn’t. I have stopped reading into fad diets and shakes and bullshit teas and created a healthy , enjoyable meal plan for myself.
The biggest change I have made is actually eating breakfast. For someone that loves food so much, I honestly don’t know why I skipped a meal. If I would have eaten anything, at most I would have had a Belvita bar which is basically a glorified biscuit. What’s crazy is that at the time I would have thought that a Belvita biscuit was healthy but now that I am familiar with macros and what I should and shouldn’t be eating in terms of carbs, etc now I know better.
I have become obsessed with porridge. Like, I get genuinely excited by porridge. I used to think of porridge or oats as something that people in prison would have eaten because it look so uninviting but oh my GOD, I was wrong. I love mixing different things into it to jazz it up a little, like banana and a spoonful of Nutella, or some berries and honey, or peanut butter and anything. The list goes on. One of the mistakes I was making with my diet is shockingly, I wasn’t eating enough and to be honest I’m still not but I am getting better!
If I have a little more time to make my breakfast I love some sourdough, avocado, bacon medallions and poached eggs. A few months ago that would have sounded like too much effort and my worst nightmare but now I swear, it makes me salivate. Before, when I would have had breakfast I would have had pancakes or toasted soda drenched in butter or cheese, still sounds great but these other things I am eating are making bigger changes and keeping me fuller for longer.
I could keep going about what I have been eating but that’s another post for another day.
Similar to my most recent fitness related post Gym Update – One Month In I have laid out my results in the same way – like before and afters.
Weight Starting weight 89kg – 14.01 stone Updated weight 76.2kg – 11.9 stone
Measurements Neck – 37cm – Now 35cm Chest – 113cm – Now 101cm Waist – 97cm – Now 89.5cm Hips 116cm – Now 105cm Thighs – 70cm – Now 63cm
If you are starting a fitness journey, I highly recommend writing your results down somewhere and measuring yourself. When I stand and look in the mirror I genuinely don’t see much of a difference but when I look at the above results it’s clear to see that there is a difference.
Having a well edited wardrobe gives me some serious joy and today I was sitting looking at my clothing (is it just me that does that?) and I love the wardrobe that I have created over the last few months.
I am used to walking through stores and paying out for exuberant and unique items that are stand out pieces. These are great at the time however they are items that do not last and can’t be worn season to season. Essentially what I decided to do was create a kind of capsule wardrobe for myself. What is a capsule wardrobe you might ask? It is a phrase coined by Susie Faux in the 70s and describes key pieces that you can wear time and time again without them ageing. She describes it as having “2 pairs of trousers, a dress or a skirt, a jacket, a coat, a knit, two pairs of shoes and two bags” that co ordinate in colour and you can mix and match easily. No disrespect to Faux but I probably have at least triple that amount right now with no intention of changing, but the point is that’s how many items it takes to completely transform your wardrobe.
My favourite place to shop for a new wardrobe on a relatively minor budget is H&M. I’m a sucker for earthy and neutral tones as they work so well together and I am trying to stay away from buying so many prints. Each season I have decided I am going to purchase a few statement pieces and maintain my colour neutral wardrobe. I have picked my top faves from H&M that will easily transform your wardrobe too.
If you have followed me for awhile, or even take a glance down my most recent instagram posts it’s clear that I have a love for white shirts, but I love having crisp shirts and tops like the previous post and then casual shirts like this. I especially love the button details on this shirt to make it a little more interesting. Plus, this is from the Sustainability range!
A classy body that comes in both black and white can be easily interchangeable from outfit to outfit. Worn under a blazer or worn along tucked into a skirt or trousers these styles of tops make a nice change to shirts.
I have a ridiculous love for wearing khaki green. There’s something about so nice about khaki and for someone like me who’s day to day wear doesn’t extend too far past black and white, the khaki is nice for something different.
Basic Tops, Price Varies
You know all those little tops that you have lying around that you can’t find a home for? The stringy tops, the basic cotton blends and the tops that go ‘under things.’ I get all mine religiously from H&M. Sure, the likes of Primark, New Look, M&S etc do all the same types however, I know and trust that my H&M ones last for years. Years. That’s why I keep going back.
So, Mom jeans. I am a very curvy gal and had sworn off Mom jeans after I had a break down in the Topshop changing rooms trying to squeeze my thicc thighs in. Until now. I decided to give these guys a try considering the price as well I almost thought it was too good to be true. Ahh they are amazing and so so comfortable. I was stuck in the skinny jeans rut for ages and I am so happy to have these as alternative. Plus, there are belt loops. This is very important to me.
I don’t know why, but it had never occurred to me that I could have a pair of tan colour jeans. Do you ever be in a jeans mood and the standard blue or black pair just aren’t cutting it for you? Enter these. They are a great alternative when you’re in the mood for jeans but not jeans.
I have the black ones but my mission is to own all three colours. I am in love with this style of trouser as I love things that can be dressed up or down. Wear a pair of brogues and a blazer with this and you’ve got a work outfit, slap on a pair of heels and a bodysuit and you’ve got yourself a ‘drinks with the girls’ outfit.
After a Rimmel Sun Shimmer incident in 2008 I swore I would never wear white trousers again. Fast forward 11 years and I gasped at not only these trousers and the fact that they come in every colour under the sun, but the fact that they are £12.99. I am still reluctant to wear white trousers at times however, at this price I couldn’t not pick them up. White trousers are so classy and look amazing!
I’m not hugely into skirts only for the reason being that I am short with a larger hip area so they tend not to be the most flattering thing on me. With that being said, I like to have a few skirts on reserve as wearing trousers and jeans can get very boring very quickly.
Even though I don’t wear a lot of skirts, I just have to have this skirt in my wardrobe. Not only do I wear it in work a lot as we have to wear black, it’s easily worn with a pair of tights and boots and is another great staple to carry from season to season.
Not typically a plain go to item but I like to have the odd thing that’s different in among the wardrobe. I would love to wear these with a plain white shirt (duh, do I wear anything else?) and cute little boots and a jacket.
I used to walk past these styles of dresses and not give them second thought. Now? I live for them. I have a few of these in different colours and while I find them a little on the basic side they are so easy to jazz up with some simple styling tips. Slip a basic white tee underneath, wrap a black belt around the middle – otherwise my curvy ass would look like a sack of spuds – some booties and even a hat if I was feeling adventurous.
A lot of the dresses that I have are louder in prints as I don’t wear them just as often. The ones I wear all the time are black for work and if I am honest, all look the same. I am enjoying the mindset of having items that I can mix and match and so am trying to stay away from dresses as they always look the same!
I have an addiction to buying jackets and coats and Joel really is going to throw me out of the house if I come back with any more. That being said, I wear the same 3 jackets on rotation. I just can’t part with the jackets I have collected. Why? Anyway, I do have last years version of this jacket but this year’s is nicer. Can guarantee I’ll come home with this and then be homeless.
Any kind of jacket that has multiple pockets for all my lipsticks and packs of gum gets my vote. This jacket is firmly on my wishlist for my wardrobe, I have sworn that I’ll get rid of all my other jackets if I get this one. Khaki in a jacket will go with all my trousers and other outfits which is amazing! Will I stick to my word and get rid of them though, that’s the thing…
If you do not have a biker jacket or leather jacket in your wardrobe I am telling you now, you need one. I have had my leather jacket for years. It’s my go to for running to work, when you need a light jacket, throwing over a dress for a night out and just to match general outfits. Obviously there are many colours that you can get, but to me a classic black biker jacket is where it’s at.
As I mentioned, sticking a little belt around a dress makes all the different and accessories add dimensions and layers to the most basic of outfits creating chic and stylish looks. I have so many belts it’s insane, but all you really need is a black one and a brown one. Maybe a nice gold one too…
Love, love, love this bag. I am not one for small and dainty little bags. I carry a lot of crap – mainly tissues and lipsticks – and this is such a good looking bag. I also like it – I am in fact purchasing as we speak… anyway, I like it because it’ll match the entire wardrobe. It is such a melt having to change your bag depending on what outfit you’re wearing and so this way, you’re always prepared.
And there you have it! My favourite items to turn your wardrobe around, all from H&M. What way do you shop for your clothes and what are you statement items in your collection? I’d love to know!
As a Make Up Artist I am forever getting messages about the products I use, how I use them, what I use on clients and what’s in my kit. This post will be an overview of my die hard products that are never too far away from my kit.
My make up and my kit make up are separate so that I know I can literally get up and go the morning of a wedding or day of doing makeups. Not only that, but it’s good to keep your make up and kit make up separate in terms of hygiene. I wouldn’t use an eyeliner on someone that I use on my myself for example, even with cleaning it. Perhaps that’s just me, but I like them separate.
The products I use I like them because I trust them, I have used them for years, they suit a large variety of skin types and are easily packed up. I would love nothing more than to pack up every type of highlighter and bronzer I own but I would need 3 suitcases. It’s important to pick the best of the bunch and keep it compact.
Hygiene Before you even think about touching someone’s face or going near a make up product please make sure that you have a hygienic set up. In one zip lock bag I always have – Spray bottle of water – Spray bottle of alcohol – Brush cleaner – Hand sanitiser
You can pick up empty spray bottles anywhere, I grab mine from Boots as you can get different sizes and some even come in packs. Hand sanitiser is one of those products that can smell so strong and I hate the thought of someone smelling that on my hands so I use The Body Shop Sanitisers in my kit. They have so many wonderful scents, I love the Satsuma one! They are £2.50, in a small enough size that will fit neatly without taking up too much room and they are usually 3 for 2 as well which is amazing!
Tools & Accessories In addition to your hygiene you should of course have the following in your kit – Clear travel bags. I get mine from eBay as I didn’t want to spend too much on them as I bag everything! You can also get them from the likes of Boots, Superdrug and even Primark! – Disposable Mascara Wands – you can again, get these anywhere. I get mine from Mac, because I’m boujee but you can’t them from Sallys, Amazon, eBay, etc – Sharpener (I sharpen and alcohol pencils before every use) – Brushes, of course this goes without saying – Eyelash curlers – I live for the Charlotte Tilbury Life Changing Eyelash Curlers – Small scissors – Metal Palette (I have a My Kit Co one – it’s great for mixing foundations) – Tweezers – Eyelash glue – Cotton pads & cotton buds
Skincare I do be genuinely shocked when I see make up artists start to work and they go straight in with primer or foundation. What. Are. You. Doing? I always use moisturiser, don’t get me wrong it doesn’t have to be anything fancy! Just use some type of skincare before applying, the make up will glide on so much better and the skin will look and feel fresher. Again, I have a zip lock bag with travel size cleanser, toner and moisturiser as well as a pack of wipes. I stock up on the No. 7 wipes when. they have the £5 off vouchers in Boots!
Primer Some people love primer, some people hate it. I am one of those people that love it and I have many to prove it! For years I used the Smashbox primers but I fell out with them when they stopped doing the blue one! I now use the Make Up For Ever primers. They have one to suit every possible skin type and I do own most of them!
I would highly recommend for anyone even just starting out if you got the Mattifying Primer and the Hydrating Primer as most people can fall into the dry or oily category and at least that way you have something to suit the majority. If you feel like you want to expand The Smoothing primer gets rid of pores like nothing I have ever seen! They do mini 15ml sizes, £14.50 of some of the primers too which is a great way to try them out however, the larger 30ml size, £26 is better value. I have 30ml of the Mattifying, Smoothing, Hydrating, Nourishing and some of the Radiant primers as these are great for different skin tones, then a 15ml of the Redness Correcting Primer. Primers genuinely last me a really long time and unlike foundation where I find everything runs out at once, primers I will only need replacements every few months.
I also have the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter’s. While not technically primers or foundations, they are more of a complexion booster so if a client is asking for nice glowy skin you can bet that they have this all over their face. I currently just have shades 1, 3 and 5 but plan on expanding because it’s just SUCH a beautiful product.
Foundations I have a hard time committing to one foundation. Like I have a few variations in my kit but can never decide if I want to just have one type of foundation to keep it simple or to cover my back have a few different formulas. All my foundations are Mac Cosmetics, I trust them and I know how to work with them. I can make them thicker, make them lighter and I know they work well with the primers. If you are just starting out, to save on expenses get familiar with the foundations you are interested in and get a few colours that you can mix to suit everyone but, please get a shade to suit darker tones. You don’t want to get caught out and not have the right shade for someone!
I have Studio Fix in probably too many shades… Pro Longwear as well as Face & Body. These foundations see me through every type of make up that people want, whether they want something sheer, full coverage, matte or dewy I have got you covered.
I have tried concealer after concealer and the best one that I have tried that suits a wide variety of people is the Make Up Revolution Conceal & Define Concealer, £4. Now, there are SO many different colours which is amazing for a brand to have but it doesn’t mean you need to own all of them. One of the key things about being a Make Up Artist is that you need to make do with what you have so just aim to have something light, medium and dark at first. Then you can add to your collection.
Contour Contour isn’t something that I do on everyone so I don’t see the need in having loads of products for contouring and highlighting so sticking to the basics is key. I am in love with the Technic Cosmetics Colour Fix Cream & Powder Palettes which retail for £6 online but you can grab it cheaper in stores. I recently picked up a few in Franklins for £2.40! They are great not only from a price point of view but genuinely really good products! I used to use the Anastasia Beverly Hills which are amazing of course too, but I don’t seen too much of a difference to warrant paying £42 compared to £6 or less!
Powder Loose powder is just a no go for me for generic make ups. They are messy, they get all over your kit and are annoying. I am all about the pressed powder life. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder, £34 gets my vote every single time and I carry all 3 shades. It is the most perfect powder, I am in love. I actually get excited for the powder stage to watch the powder work it’s magic. It effortlessly sweeps over pores, making the skin look super smooth without looking too ‘powdery’ and ensures an all day lasting finish.
Bronzer I have a bit of an obsession with bronzer so when you look at my kit this is probably the one messy, unorganised – still in a clear zip bag though – part of my kit. I find new bronzers from different brands and just die over them and I always end up buying two of each. One for me, one for the kit.
I would be lost without my Nars ‘Laguna’, Mac ‘Give Me Sun’ as well as a few other Mineralize Skinfinish’s and my Chanel Soleil de Tan. I do however have Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion, £30 bronzers in all shades so I know I have at least one bronzer to suit everyone but I can’t stop buying new ones…
Blush I love blush. One thing I learned was that one blush doesn’t suit everyone. So I have a wide variety of blushers as I find it’s what awakens up a make up and transforms a persons complexion.
I have created Mac palettes as I love the inserts that you can buy that fit 6 blushers in a palette. It makes life so much easier when packing up a kit as there is already so much to pack! I definitely use these the most as they sit so well on top of the other products I use. My favourites and most used are Peaches, Swiss Chocolate, Fleur Power & Melba.
Brows I am a creature of habit for eyebrows and I like to do a certain style. Of course, on request I will do whatever the client wishes but I like to use pencils and brow gels. I try and stay as far away from thick gels or pomades as much as possible.
In terms of brow gel, one of my favourite Charlotte Tilbury products of all time are the Legendary Brow Gels, £18.50. They fluff the hairs up perfectly without looking too fake and ensure that it stays all day.
Eyeshadow I have gone through many phases of eyeshadow in my kit, from carrying what felt like a hundred single eyeshadows to carrying a hundred palettes. I have since downgraded the palettes I bring with me and keep it as simple as I can. I have my favourite bridal type palettes and my weekend palettes and they seem to cover me for just about everything. I mainly use – BPerfect Carnival Palette, £39.99 – I cannot remember what I did before this palette came along. Seriously. – Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette – Mac Cosmetics Palettes that I have made – I live for these – Mac Cosmetics Pigments, Doll Beauty Pigments, Urban Decay Glitter Liners & Helen E Glitters (these are everything)
Eyeliners I love gel liner and try to use it above liquid liner when I can. I find it lasts longer and I don’t have to worry about it crumbling. I have a few favourites but I always tend to opt for Inglot’s Gel Liners and I have quite a few colours – you just don’t know what someone will ask for! 77 (Black) and 96 (Brown) are among my most used and of course Inglot’s Duraline is never too far away in case they dry out a little. Side note – if you haven’t purchased Duraline before, I highly recommend you try it. It has so many amazing purposes, but I especially love it for mixing with gel liner.
Mascara I don’t really worry about the mascara I use as not only do I have the disposable mascara wands but most people want eyelashes applied. I love the Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara, £10.99and this is generally what I’ll have, unless I have received little mini mascaras which are so handy for your kit! Anytime I am buying anything at a make up counter I always ask for mascara samples – if you don’t ask you don’t get!
False Eyelashes I love all eyelashes, even the most strangely theatrical and dramatic lashes. That being said, typically I am working on bridal party make ups so I aim to keep my lashes on the more natural and fluffy side. I use individual lashes a lot either on their on or on top of strip lashes and I love the Eylure Individual Lashes as you get small, medium and long lashes in the one box as the majority of other brands you have to buy a whole box of the same size.
For strip lashes, I have Ardell Demi Wispies as you can buy them in packs, so it saves you a little money! I change up my lashes each time depending on what’s on offer but I always go back to the Ardell’s.
Lip Liners Mac. Rimmel. Charlotte Tilbury. No others will do! I pick up the odd lip liner from other brands here and there but I just use them on myself, I love these brands of lip liners for the kit as they are great on everyone.
I love Mac due to the colour range, Rimmel’s are super creamy and so great on maturer clients and Charlotte Tilbury just because, they are Charlotte Tilbury. Most used/highly recommended shades: – Nude Mac ‘Spice’ & ‘Boldly Bare’ | Rimmel ‘Tiramisu’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Hot Gossip’ & ‘Iconic Nude’ – Pink Mac ‘Soar’ & ‘Edge to Edge’ |Rimmel ‘Eastend Snob’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Pillowtalk’ & ‘Pink Venus’ – Red Mac ‘Cherry’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Kiss n Tell’ – Plum Mac ‘Nightmoth’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Bad Romance’ & ‘Love Trap’
Lipsticks Similar to the lip liners I have the lipstick in shades to match. I’ll admit, I have an unholy amount of lipsticks but to make it easier to carry I have depotted them and melted them down into palettes. You can get empty lipstick palettes from anywhere but mine are from Mac £2, of course!
Most used/highly recommended shades: – Nude Mac ‘Honeylove’ & ‘Viva Glam II’ & ‘Peachstock’ | Tom Ford ‘Sable Smoke’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Kim KW’ & ‘Pillowtalk’ – Pink Mac ‘Creme Cup’ & ‘Snob’ | Estee Lauder ‘Desirable’ & ‘Powerful’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Liv It Up’ & ‘Velvet Underground’ – Red Mac ‘So Chaud’ & ‘Ruby Woo’ | Estee Lauder ‘Envious’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Walk of Shame’ & ‘So Marilyn’ – Plum Mac ‘Rebel’ | Tom Ford ‘Casablanca’ | Estee Lauder ‘Irresistible’ | Charlotte Tilbury ‘Love Liberty’
I don’t have a whole pile of lip glosses in my kit as I tend to use clear or light glosses over lipsticks. I have recently started using Charlotte Tilbury ‘Collagen Lip Bath’, £25 on everyone as it makes the lips look unbelievably plumped and full as well as deliciously glossy! I have a few odd coloured glosses from all over the place but I use the Lip Bath most often.
NYX Matte & Dewy Setting Sprays, £7 are my go to, I love them! For anyone who is oily of course gets the matte spray which helps to tone down shine. Anyone who is dry, yes you guessed it – they get the dewy spray. I recently started using the Iconic London Setting Sprays, £20.50 but they are extremely dewy and only for those that like a good glow!
This was believe it or not, a quick overview of what is in my kit. If you have any questions about anything I use or if you use something in your kit for clients I would love to hear about it – maybe it’s something I could use myself!
Here we are again, another instalment in my Top 5 series where I, yes you guessed it, list my top 5 products in a category. Skincare is a tricky one to get advice on over the internet so I would always recommend that if you are looking a new serum or moisturiser, etc to go in and visit your local store and get some samples or more information from the guys and gals that work there. Everyone’s skin is so so different and can change on the regular and so these creams may. be my favourite creams, they may not work for you. That being said, I am obsessed with all of these and would definitely recommend them for anyone with skin similar to mine!
Kiehl’s Ultra Face Cream
If you follow me on Instagram it is no secret that I love this cream. It’s relatively affordable, I would say middle of the road price. It’s a wonderfully light cream so for those of you who don’t like anything too thick or heavy then this one is perfect for you! With 24 hour hydration this cream is perfect for dryer skin types but is perfect for everyone. For me personally, I just love how this product feels, it melts onto my skin and leaves my skin looking nice and healthy. It’s one of the products that Make Up by Mario swears by and uses it on his clients before makeup. For that reason I now have a tub that lives in my kit, if it’s good enough for Kim it’s good enough for me. You can also get it with SPF30 – I use the one without in my kit as we don’t want flashback!
Available in 28ml for £16, 50ml for £24.50 and 125ml for £45
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream
Well, what can I say about this multi award winning, fantastic, loved my models and celebrities, luscious, gorgeous and hydrating cream? It has genuinely changed up my skincare regime for the better and if I HAD to pick it would probably be named my ultimate favourite. It’s the cream that I know I can trust and that it’s going to do exactly what it says on the tin. The cream itself it packed to the gills with Hyaluronic Acid which is going to seal and lock in that moisture leaving your skin supple and dewy. Vitamin E makes dull and tired skin happy and healthy while Vitamin C brightens and evens complexion.
Charlotte first curated her ‘magic’ cream when she was working backstage and doing makeup for models. Think of models skin, yes they are gorgeous but they are busy, up late, at that time perhaps didn’t have the best diet, etc so that has an effect on their skin. Charlotte created something that she knew would completely transform them before they got their make up on and so, this cream is the ultimate backstage secret product to make your skin Hollywood ready.
Available in 30ml for £49, 50ml for £70 and 150ml for £180
Estee Lauder Re Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Transformative Energy Creme Rich
24. Karat. Gold. That’s what is in this cream. I mean, a whole host of other things too, but when I use this cream I feel so smug because I am essentially rubbing gold on myself. Plus, the gold adds radiance, so winning. This cream is so velvety and I swear it changes the texture of your skin immediately. Black Diamond Truffle extract helps to firm skin, ticking the boxes for any of you that are concerned with ageing. If you have the chance to try out this cream – or any of the other products in this range you should take it, they are outstanding. Also, it comes with a gold spoon so you can spoon out the exact amount that you need for you face… like, hello? How extra!
Available in 50ml for £280
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, £28
This cream is my OG, original, first ‘proper’ face cream I ever used. It was life changing and every now and then I always go back to it. As well as the Kiehls, it lives in my kit for clients as it’s perfect for the body, cuticles and works wonders for dry lips – just don’t lick it or swallow it! Elizabeth Arden got the name ‘Eight Hour’ from a die hard client who used the cream on a child’s grazed sore knee and eight hours later it was magically better! So if it can help a child’s knee, it can help my dry face!
No secret that I have dry skin, but every so often my redness in the centre of my face and cheeks flares up and that’s when I pull out this cream for my face. It is amazing at calming down my lil rosy cheeks and I find it really soothing! The fact it’s so versatile makes it a shoo-in for my Top 5.
Available in 50ml for £28
La Roche-Posay Nutritic Intense Riche
The odd time my skin can be sore, especially in Winter when the harsh elements irritate the skin. If this happens to you or you have skin that is easily irritated then look no further than this intense cream. It is so comforting and soothing and doesn’t sting when it is applied. You know that tight skin feeling when you get out of a really hot shower? If your skin feels like that then this cream will be perfect for you.
Available in 50ml for £16.50
What are you go to face creams? I would love to hear and maybe try them out myself. As always, you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
If you like this Top 5, click here to view other posts in the series
Today I was invited to the media press conference for the Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition which is situated in the TEC Belfast which as of tomorrow – Thursday 11th April – will be open to the public.
I am a long time fan of Game of Thrones, having read the books before the TV Show was even a thing and oh my GOD, I enjoyed this exhibition so much. Whether you are a super fan or haven’t even watched the show, I can guarantee you will enjoy walking around this exhibition. If you haven’t watched it, this exhibition will make you want to watch it! From King’s Landing to the Kingsroad, from the North to Castle Black you can immerse yourself in these fantastic props and memorabilia from one of the world’s most loved TV shows.
Before we viewed the exhibition we were introduced to the fantastic panel who answered all of our burning questions, unfortunately none about season 8! We had before us our very own Northern Irish gem, Ian Beattie who played the devilish Set Meryn Trant. We had Isaac Hempsted Wright who of course, plays Bran Stark who spoke very well and expressed a great love for his time in Northern Ireland. Our third cast member was the one and only Liam Cunningham who plays the one and only See Davos Seaworth. I’ll not lie to you, I was a little starstruck listening to these fantastic actors talking right in front of me, but I managed to keep it together and not squeal.
I was very excited to hear from Michele Clapton who is a costume designer for Game of Thrones – Emmy award winning thank you very much. The clothing and intricate designs are one of my favourite things about Game of Thrones. Even during the busiest of scenes I love looking at what they are wearing! I wanted to be in the show just so that Michele can make me a super fancy dress.
Walking around the exhibition and seeing all those costumes and outfits in real life I didn’t realise just how intricate they all are. They are absolutely beautiful and I can only imagine how long it takes to make those pieces. When asked about it Michele said it could take anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks and even longer to make just one costume. Which is insane! I don’t want to spoil what you can see there but I just want to leave some of my favourite clothing items from the exhibition.
Varys’ outfits are up there with my favourites because again, the attention to detail is just insane. Michele had mentioned that because Varys has all the whispers and all the secrets, for that reason his hands are always covered. With his hands in his sleeves, it creates an air of mystery and I always feel like Varys is hiding something! He is so mysterious!
Now, let’s discuss Daenerys. Yes she is the reason I dyed my hair platinum blonde and wore plaits. Yes, she is awesome and yes, she is an absolute boss! She’s not necessarily my favourite character but her story line in the show is my favourite. What she goes through and what she has to handle, makes her iconic and of course, she’s going to need some iconic clothing to match!
I think it’s pretty safe to say that the White Walkers are absolutely petrifying. That cold, icy skin and those pale blue eyes that could cut you in two as soon as look at you. I near jumped out of my skin walking through and seeing this figure in the exhibition.
One of the best things about this exhibition was that you can actually have your face put into the Hall of Faces like in Season 5.
Weird, but I like it.
I absolutely loved this exhibition and I don’t doubt that I will be back again soon! You can check out the website here and you can buy your tickets from here
Tickets April – May Monday – Thursday: £15 Friday – Sunday: £17.50 June – August Monday – Sunday: £17.50
Following on from my last post, I Joined A Gym I have received several messages asking questions about what I am doing, what I am eating and how I’m feeling and whether or not I have seen any changes so I thought I would post a little update.
In case you haven’t read my last post, I’ll catch you up. Basically, I woke one day and decided I needed to do something regarding my lifestyle and exercising. I joined a gym and started with a fabulous Personal Trainer, Ryan Spence and have been going there for a month exactly now.
While I am wholly aware that a month is not a very long time at all, I have learned a lot about myself and my body in that short space of time. I learned that exercising is difficult but also extremely rewarding. I have never felt as good in my life and while some days it can be hard to fight a chips craving, that good feeling that I get makes it all so worthwhile.
So, what have I been doing? I have been doing 2 PT sessions each week and attending the gym as often as I can outside of that. In my PT sessions, Ryan has mapped out exactly what I should be doing and he takes notes on weights each week on what I have been lifting, etc. I love having someone there that knows exactly what they are talking about and I am so thankful for him as he puts so much energy and time into creating this workout plan for me as well as taking a great interest in my diet and giving me lots of helpful hints and tips along the way. I have found a love for certain machines that I find fundamentally bizarre. When I think back to a few weeks ago, the very thought of a rowing machine would actually make me GAG. Now, I can’t wait to get there and have a little cardio workout on it. There are a few things that I outright just don’t enjoy doing, stair master for example. Ryan had me on it and I really, really, really struggled on it and told him – without being too much a whine, that I didn’t like it. I was scared of his response at the time, like it was really bad of me that I didn’t want to do it, but he was like ‘okay, no sweat.’ There is not point in doing something if I am not enjoying it because I’ll not get that good feeling at the end of my session. I am still learning and have no idea what half the machines are called, so when anyone asks me what I’m doing I am like ‘the thing you climb up onto and kneel on and pull up with…’
What have I been eating? The biggest and best change that I have made to my diet is actually eating breakfast. Like, what the hell why have I never done that before? Being someone that loves food so much – why on earth would I skip that meal? Working somewhere where my shift pattern changes every day it can be hard to eat at the right times of the day. For example, when I used to work 10.30-7 I wouldn’t eat before work and the first time I would eat that day would be about 12 or 12.30. Even then, it would be something straight from the vending machine and something quick like a sandwich or something from Cafe Nero, because I was lazy and it was close. Now before I start I have had breakfast, something relatively healthy and filling and my lunches are healthier choices too. Anything is better than a chocolate bar and a packet of crisps. I am still struggling to hit my calories each day and eat as much as I should be but at the same time, the things that I am eating aren’t leaving me hungry. For breakfast, I have become obsessed with oats. Like, I must have had them every day now for the last few weeks! I love chopping a banana into it and a wee teaspoon of Nutella or peanut butter in there too to bulk up a little. Even a drop of honey, just to sweeten it up! For something bigger or more filling I will have some avocado on toast with some bacon medallions and a poached egg. My lunches are more about chicken with veg and brown rice and don’t vary too much. Or I have the rest of last night’s dinner. Dinner’s haven’t seen much change as Joel and I tend. to eat relatively healthy dinners anyway. It’s more my habits for my daytime eating and be prepared to bring things to work, having it ready to go the night before that has helped me the most.
Results I had my measurements taken at the start, before I started any exercising and had my second measurements taken again last week. I can’t see any difference in myself, but looking at yourself every day, it can be hard to see the small changes. I have been taking photos of myself – before and after styles but they are not ready to be shown to the world just quite yet! In the meantime, I am happy to report that I have lost weight and my measurements are going down!
Weight Starting weight 89kg – 14 stone Updated weight 82.6kg – 13 stone
Measurements Neck – 37cm – Now 36cm Chest – 113cm – Now 104 *I did have an extra sports bra on so I think I was just squished! Waist – 97cm – Now 94cm Hips 116cm – Now 114.5cm Thighs – 70cm – Now 67cm
Isn’t it amazing what not eating shite and exercising does for you, isn’t it? I am still learning, there are probably things that I am still not doing right but the main thing is that I am progressing.