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As a kid, everyone wants a pet. Be it a hamster, cat, dog or reluctantly accepting the utterly shoddy compromise of a goldfish (we have all been there).

Growing up, I managed the hamster, I convinced my mother with the cats (shout out to Jachibo, Princess and Rogue) and I even got the goldfish (goodbye to my sickly fairground win).

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My years of begging did not work when it came to a dog though. Oh, and I begged relentlessly. However, only when I secured full freedom, as a fully-fledged adult and graduate, did I get my little pug puppy.

Rudy (known frequently as little bork – he borks, not barks) came bouncing into my life with a bump. Make that numerous bumps, he is a floppy little thing for something so sturdy looking.

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As he has settled these last few months I have convinced myself that he is half whippet (or half something). Pugs are hyper, whatever may be said about the breed being lazy, I object wholly. My little munchkin has boundless energy and he needs long walks each day.

Pugs require a lot of time, love and affection. For all intents and purposes, they are lap dogs, and very needy of those closest to them. As I type, Rudy is leaping all over me with his toys and will continue to do so for the rest of the evening. It’s kind of like having a toddler.

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On that note, be aware. They can be stroppy and manipulative little things, proving to be rather smart indeed. They will try and catch you out if you give them the slightest opportunity and you will give them it often, no doubt about it.

True manipulation is seen whenever food is in the vicinity. Pugs need good quality food. The main reason for this? Other than the fact that you love them unconditionally? Well, it is certainly not pretty or pleasant fact, but, they fart. A lot. It isn’t nice, but it is the truth.

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Therefore, good food is a must, it maintains their weight, keeps them healthy and ensures the result of their bowel movements remain ‘consistent’ and a little nicer to deal with. You will thank me for the heads up.

Be wary that pugs are also greedy. This little fella has ravenously gobbled through my cats food more than once now (much to the distress of my boyfriend, I find it all pretty hilarious). Rudy has a special affinity towards eating moss too. Maybe it is the pug version of kale, perhaps he is simply trying to remain trim.

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Aside from the minor annoyances (like eating through our PS4 and laptop wires), pugs are quite possibly the best breed of dog in existence and head tilts will forever remain the cutest thing ever.

If you dream of having your own snorting, snoring and snuggly friend, then remain cautious that they are a lot of effort. You get out exactly what you put in when you choose to love something right. For further pug information, have a look here.

What is your pet like? Have you ever considered getting a pug?

Stephanie xox

What to pack when travelling - The LDN Gal

Suitcase essentials for your next holiday

I recently got asked by Age UK, what would my suitcase essentials be if I were to go on holiday.

As I am off to Australia for Christmas, this question could not have come at a better time, and it got me thinking (and far more excited) about what I will need to be taking.

Obviously, it is dependent on the holiday, are you going on a weekend city break? A week or two away somewhere sunny? Or are you venturing away for longer?

You have to think about the climate, what season is it going to be? Are you going to be sweltering or freezing?

These are my suitcase essentials for travelling:

So, what do I need to take on holiday with me?

All travel documentation

First of all, remember your passport and ensure that it is valid for the duration of your trip! You will also need all travel and health insurance documentation, personal identification and visas. If travelling in Europe, be sure to bring along your European Health Insurance Card.

If you have a student card, it can come in handy for discounts for tourist attractions.

Also be sure to have a copy of all relevant emergency numbers. Have a copy of contact details for your bank, travel insurance provider and emergency contacts at home.

Travel money (home and destination currency)

Another thing to remember is to have travel money for your destination country and money for when you return home.

Remember to take along your debit and/or credit cards in case of emergencies and a secure wallet to keep everything in.

Holiday clothing and accessories  

Remember to bring clothing and accessories for the climate you are traveling to.

Most noteworthy, remember underwear, tights, sleepwear, swimwear and accessories. Don’t forget bags, belts, jewellery and watches but be careful with heavier items such as shoes.

If you are doing sports outdoors, remember specialist sporting clothing.

Above all, remember to bring some outerwear just in case it gets chilling in the evenings.

Sun protection

Whether it is hot or cold, sun protection is key. Be sure to pack sunscreen, after sun, sunglasses and insect repellent.

Beauty and hair care essentials 

There is nothing worse than forgetting your beauty and hair care essentials on holiday. Make space for your makeup, wet wipes, nail varnish and a nail file.

You do not want to forget your hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, hairbands, shaving gel and razors. Optional extras include straighteners, curling tongs and tweezers.

Personal care essentials 

Even more important are your personal care essentials. Toiletries such as shower gel, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash). Remember, these things can be carried in hand luggage if 100ml.

You’ll want to make space for antiperspirant, perfume, female hygiene and sanitary products and any relevant prescription medication (painkillers are a must). Towels are often provided but you may want a beach towel.

Your camera, mobile and laptop 

Most importantly, be sure to bring along your camera, mobile and laptop. This is to record all of your holiday memories and adventures online. You may want to contact family back home if on longer ventures and update your blog.

Make sure that your phone has the relevant data plan to ensure that you aren’t charged too much while abroad. You may also want to bring along some headphones.

Note, that you will need to remember to bring all chargers and the relevant travel adapters. Batteries can come in handy too.

A notebook and pen

Bring along a notebook and pen as you never know when you may become inspired. Be sure to pack all relevant stationary too.

Before you head off, double check uour luggage allowance. Some baggage restrictions are very specific. Also, be sure to keep space for all the goodies you bring home with you!

Be sure to keep your valuables in your hand luggage. Although it rarely happens, suitcases can go missing or get damaged in transit.

What do you always pack? Are you off anywhere nice this summer?

Stephanie xox

Me Benefit Gimme Brow-vertEveryone has something they must do as daily as part of their beauty routine, or they simply do not feel right.

For me, it is my eyebrows. Some may find that strange, but I just feel shoddy without them coloured in.

This is why I have been very excited to try out the Benefit Cosmetics, Gimme Brow* brow-volumising fibre gel.

I have been a ‘Benefit girl’ for many years now, so I had a lot of faith that this would be another one of their wonder products, especially in light of its 2013 Allure best of beauty award.

Being a (somewhat ginger, I blame the Irish in me) brunette I opted for the medium/deep shade, there is also a light/medium alternative.

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Benefit claims an, “innovative brush-on fiber gel that adheres to skin & hairs, creating brows where before there were none. It builds easily for thick, lush arches, thanks to a tapered brush for blending & precision tip for shaping.”

I have to say, I was very impressed with Gimme Brow. I usually swear by my Beautiful Brows Kit and I was concerned about it running out, but Gimme Brow is totally on the same level.

If anything, it is nicer to have it in a gel format as opposed to powder when it comes to application.

Gimme Brow is super easy to use, you can layer the shade on subtly, or add pressure to your strokes to take full advantage of the shade (as I do, dark and intimidating eyebrows seem to be a thing with me).

I applied as recommended, in short pressing motions, combing across the length of my brow and using the tip of the brush to define shape.

 

 

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For a more natural look, it is advised you “start at the inner edge of your brow and move outward. Repeat to add more volume.”

What I like about Gimme Brow, is that it lasts throughout the day and as promised, was water resistant, natural-looking and buildable. The latter quality being the most appealing, as it is suitable for all intended looks.

Currently Benefit are hosting their Bold is Beautiful campaign, raising money via their brow waxes for women’s charities Look Good Feel Better and Refuge.

100 per cent of the money raised will go to charity and you’ll also receive a full-sized Gimme Brow of your own! If that isn’t an incentive, I don’t know what is!

The campaign only has a day remaining so be sure to get your eyebrows waxed to perfection and donate to an amazing cause!

What do you think of the new Benefit Gimme Brow? What item of makeup can you not leave the house without?

Stephanie xox


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Last year, Benefit Cosmetics Brow Arch March campaign raised over £146,957 for charity and returns with a brand new “global philanthropy project”, the Bold Is Beautiful campaign.

Get a brow wax at a Benefit counter this May and 100 per cent of proceeds will go to charity! To find your nearest store search here.

Promising to be “bigger and better” than ever, Benefit are working alongside charities Look Good Feel Better and Refuge in order to raise as much money as possible this year.

Look Good Feel Better “helps women and teenagers combat the visible side-effects of cancer treatment, through their free confidence-boosting skincare and make-up workshops, masterclasses and self-help materials.”

Refuge “empowers women and children who experience domestic violence to rebuild their lives free from violence and fear. Via a network of services they provide life changing support to over 3,000 women and children every day.”

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So far, the Benefit team have managed to raise an astonishing £189,000 with over 31,739 eyebrows already waxed, shaped and filled to perfection this month.

With only three days left of Bold is Beautiful, be sure to get down to your nearest Benefit cosmetics booth to support and donate to this great cause.

100 per cent of proceeds will go to both Look Good Feel Better and Refuge and you’ll also receive a full-sized Gimme Brow of your own!

After all, doing the greater good and your eyebrows should always be your first priority.

Will you be partaking in the Bold is Beautiful campaign? What is your favourite Benefit product?

Stephanie xox

Saying Goodbye to Toxic Relationships | The LDN Gal

How to say goodbye to toxic relationships

Sometimes in life, it is necessary to rid yourself of toxic people, be it in a platonic, romantic or professional relationship. Unfortunately, family can prove a little tougher to deal with.

If a relationship is no longer bringing you joy, then how are you truly benefiting from it? Holding onto toxic people and toxic relationships only prolongs your own pain, and at times, you truly need to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself first.

I have cared for many people during my childhood, adolescence and even adulthood. Entering adulthood, I have come to realise that sometimes you just cannot make things work when it comes to relationships, and if your friends are not supportive – are they really your friends?

Life can be difficult enough without having to worry about those who are meant to care for you dragging you down.

There are many different types of toxic relationship, someone can be mentally damaging towards you, emotionally and on the worst end of the scale, physically. At the end of the day, abuse is still abuse no matter what form it takes – and it is not acceptable.

Advice - Saying Goodbye to Toxic Relationships | The LDN Gal

The benefits of saying goodbye to toxic relationships

If you have someone in your life that undermines you, tries to compete with you, is unnecessarily jealous or envious of your successes, clouds you with their negativity (every day seems to bring with it a new tragedy), gossips incessantly about those around you (take this as a general rule, if they gossip to you, then they most likely gossip about you), are not supportive of your goals, act possessive or are incessantly needy of your  and everyone else’s attention (all friends are there to offer mutual emotional support but relationships should not leave you feeling burdened or be one-sided), are inconsiderate, critical, prove to be a bad influence (we inevitably become influenced by our environment) or are at times are just downright manipulative, then get rid. Immediately.

Bonds can deteriorate, and once someone begins to grate at your patience and sanity, they are not worth hanging on to. With friends you should never feel wary, you should be able to be open-minded without feeling conflicted or irritated. If you find yourself dreading to see a friend, making excuses to avoid doing so and feeling drained if you do eventually meet, then it all becomes pretty self-explanatory.

All relationships are complex and require a bit of give and take at times, but if your relationships are starting to drain you and stop bringing you emotional reward and joy, then it is a drastic warning sign to let that person go. Do so without speaking badly of them, as negativity never breeds happiness. Friends should make you happier and help you to escape or solve your problems, not cause them.

Healthy relationships are the only relationships you need, surround yourself with those who value you and you will soon start to feel a lot better in yourself. Your relationships should bring out the best in you and they reflect upon your own character. So remember, “you are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with. So, be brave enough to let go of those who are weighing you down.”

Have you ever experienced a toxic relationship? How did you let that person go? 

Stephanie xox

Ello-vert

I am undeniably obsessed with all things social media. The amount of time I spend on my Samsung Note 3 and PC each day would shock and/or disgust most, so when I heard of Ello I was desperate to get my own account and thus be in on the ‘hype’.

Dubbed the “anti-Facebook”, Ello is a “simple, beautiful and ad-free social network” that came to my attention during Autumn 2014 (becoming public in August 2014). It doesn’t have advertisements and it won’t utilise and profit off your data (although its revenue has come under speculation with its popularity boom).

To create an account, you must be invited. It is an exclusive affair and a tedious wait for an invitation (it is still in the beta stage) as I know too well having only just accessed my account.

I am going to be honest, I signed up earlier today and was rather baffled by the website at first, can something be so simple it is impossible to navigate? Thankfully no.

I eventually got the hang of things although it did take me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to upload my profile picture. I cannot even blame the mediocre internet connection for this one, it was a simple drag from my documents and drop into place affair.

Saying this, I genuinely had to watch the tutorial (which sounds as if Stephen Hawking narrated it himself) beforehand and this has never happened to me on any other social networking site before. Ello is not as user-friendly as its veteran competitors.

“Next, pick a profile image, make it a hot one” had me giggling to no avail as I customised my header to a lovely floral print with ease (drag and drop again, it does come in handy).

Ello is very minimalist in design and features (like Marmite, you will either love this about the website or loathe it), customisation isn’t a strong point.

I soon got into the swing of things and began to add people with similar interests to me. On Ello you have your ‘Friends’ and ‘Noise’ steam alongside your notifications (lightning bolt icon) upon the left-hand side of the webpage.The ‘Friends’ stream holds your contacts feeds (recommended, related, random and search) and the ‘Noise’ stream allows you to select the posts you wish to see from your chosen people in an easy and accessible feed.

Anything that catches your eye along the way while browsing Ello can be shared to your own page easily, they have also recently enabled users to add music and videos to their feeds. The website seems to have elements of Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook in a wonderful social networking combination.

You have your personally decorated feed like Tumblr. Like Twitter, you seek people out who you do not know but who hold similar interests to your own and unlike Facebook you can avoid the hundreds of friend and family requests (exclusivity and a degree of anonymity have their strong points).

Ello proves to be a lot of fun once you begin to understand it. I plan to continue getting used to it and update it with anything that takes my fancy.

If you would like me to invite you to Ello then let me know via stephanie@thoughtsofawannabejournalist.com or via my Twitter @Stephmulz!

Whoever said plain meant boring eh?

What do you think of Ello? Profound or just plain? 

Stephanie xox