Sunny Disposition

As you're probably reading this, I'm in bed, ill from work, loaded with a cold so it seemed extremely fitting to post an outfit that reflected my mood. This jumper has got to be the most snuggly thing I own and was an absolute steal of only 5 euros when I was in Italy back in July last year. It's such a relaxed oversized fit that it's comfy no matter what and it looks great with so many different cut and washes of denim. It seems as if the April showers have come a few months early as it has been non-stop raining for the last few days but I've got to be honest - I'm still kind of holding out for some snow because that would be great to get a couple of snow days across the UK, right?

H&M Jumper (similar) | Asos Belt | Levi Vintage Jeans via Oh Lover Vintage |
Poor Boy Vintage Saddle Bag via Asos Marketplace (similar) | Topshop Leather Clogs (similar)

- A.
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Favourite Photography Posts 2016

Happy Friday guys! I promise all these "2016 review" posts are finishing today, but I couldn't not mention my favourite photography posts from the past year. I love taking photos. It's something I try to make time for on a weekly basis and although I'm in no way a professional or even use professional equipment, I always pack my point and shoot into my bag and try to capture moments as much as I can. So because of that, I thought I'd share what my favourite photo posts of 2016 have been to take and to upload and write about.

Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli Interior
Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli

I thought I'd kick things off with one of my Rome travel posts. This trip to Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli was possibly my most favourite part of my trip to Rome because it was spontaneous, unplanned, yet perfect. I love architecture and religious art and this church was so picturesque and gorgeous to look at it was the best thing to take lots of photographs of. As I mentioned in the post, it was just by chance that we paid it a visit and it was so quiet due to being at the top of the biggest staircase I've ever had the displeasure of climbing so it was just such a breathtaking experience to have (no pun intended).

Brian Griffiths Bill Murray Exhibition

Next up is one of my earliest posts from 2016 and although I wouldn't say it's my best photography, it was a trip to an art gallery so I was super happy to get photos whilst I was there. Brian Griffith's Bill Murray-themed exhibition was a dream come true for this Murray lover and although I didn't fully understand the style of art or what it represented, the gallery was pretty cool all the same. The Baltic art gallery in Newcastle also had a giant Bill Murray plastered on the side of the building for ages and I honestly think it improved the city for a wee bit.

Horse at Rainton Meadows
Rainton Meadows and Joe's Pond Nature Reserves

This posts photos were happy spur of the moment shots to be honest. This was a trip to a couple of nature reserves with one of my best friends and I hadn't planned on taking any photographs whilst we were there because the sky was so grey and overcast I thought we wouldn't be there for very long. However, the sun came out and so did the animals so naturally, I had to try and get some pictures of them in the sunshine.

St Catherine's Hill
St. James Hill Cemetery

By now, you guys might have realised that I really like graveyards/cemeteries. There's just something about them that is so peaceful and picturesque so I love taking photos in them when I get the chance. One of my favourite ones is a one I used to walk through every day to go to and from university and although it's often got a lot of human traffic passing through it, it's still a calm space and has amazing views across Winchester if you stand in the right spots. I have taken countless photos in St. James Hill Cemetery, but these are the first ones I've shared on NB.

Ostrich at Animals Inside Out
Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out Exhibition

One of my most recent posts and definitely one of my most trickiest to photograph has to be my trip to the Animals Inside Out Exhibition at the Life Centre in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I loved this exhibition because it was so informative and a great chance to take some photos. As someone who doesn't have a DSLR and doesn't spend a lot of time doing "proper" photography, I realised I wish I had more time to learn because having a DSLR in this exhibit would have been amazing, but I think the photos I managed to get are still pretty good if I do say so myself.

Beamish Museum Part One and Part Two

Back in March I paid a visit to Beamish Museum with my mam and little brother for a day. Beamish Museum is an awesome place to have on my doorstep back at home but I don't visit it enough at all. So we decided as we were all free at the same time we'd spend the day there and oh my goodness, it was one of the coldest and most bleak days ever. We ended up leaving early and headed to the pub for some warm food and to sit by the open fire, but before that, I did get some photos I was happy with.

Why I love Winchester - Architecture

I feel like this post is a bit of a cheat post to include because it features photos from lots of different posts on my blog. However, that's exactly the reason why I should include this post here because it includes some of my favourite pictures of my home and possibly some of my best.

Newcastle - My Favourite City

If I'm including a post about Winchester then it's only right I include a post about Newcastle. This was one of my first posts of 2016 and although if I was to do a photography post of Newcastle again I would include more photos and a bit more detail, I did enjoy wandering around the day I took these and the weather and views were wonderful considering it was December!

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Why Coconut Oil is E V E R Y T H I N G

Just so you're aware, this is going to be a basic bitch post and I couldn't give a monkeys. Coconut oil seems to have shoot to stardom during 2016 and guys, if you don't have a tub of it in your life, you need to go out and get one asap. I know some of you will be sat there right now, rolling your eyes thinking "she's jumped on the same bandwagon every other white girl who blogs has" and yes, yes I have but my goodness - I promise you it's a good bandwagon to be riding. I've been using coconut on and off for years and each time I start using it again I realise there's more and more uses for it that help look after your body both inside and out. So I thought I'd share with you guys how I like to use my mahoosive tub of it and what benefits I've seen come through as a result of it.

So first up - it's amazing for removing makeup. I tend to take between a pea size to strawberry size lump of it (depending on how heavy my warpaint has been that particular day) and simply rub it in my hands until it melts and then slather it all over my face. As it's an oil, it cuts through foundation, concealer, powder etc. and also does an astoundingly good job breaking down mascara and dark eyeshadows and liners. It is such a gentle way to remove makeup too as it's 100% organic and natural and it doesn't irritate the skin at all.

Now, I don't actually use it as a makeup remover usually unless I'm feeling lazy and want to go to bed asap, so most days I use it as my second cleanse and daily face wash. I take a pea size amount and massage it into my face - just as a I would if I was using it to remove my makeup! Difference is, this way I know I'm definitely getting my skin squeaky clean. The nicest way to use coconut oil when using it as a cleanser is to massage it into the skin and whilst you're doing that, make sure you have the hot tap running and have a flannel/muslin cloth soaking in your sink basin. Once you feel you've massaged your face enough, ring out the flannel and whack it on your face. Tilt your head back and just let the flannel rest on your face for around one minute/until it's completely cooled down. The heat and steam from the towel and the oil are a winning combination for drawing out badness from the skin and getting rid of it. This way you can also make sure you have no oily residue left on the skin as I know it makes some folk feel uncomfortable. The heat and steam from a hot shower also works wonders too. If you're okay with the slight residue though, this helps your skin feel super moisturised and makes your face feel as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Speaking of moisturising and smoothness, coconut oil is the greatest natural moisturiser out there. If you have particularly dry skin, try using a tiny amount of coconut oil instead of your normal moisturiser and you're bound to notice a difference. It does take a little longer to sink into the skin, but if you've got the time to burn it's more than worth it. Even though I'm an extremely oily skinned girl, I've been battling some terrible dry skin patches for the last few months and this has helped out big time. If my skin is super dry in any areas, the tiniest amount of this before bed at night has instantly sent a jet of hydration into the targeted area and helped obliterate the flaky skin. I don't feel comfortable wearing it during the day because I'm oily enough as it is, but nighttime SOS rescue? I'll take it.

This lifesaving product isn't just limited to your face though. If you suffer from dry elbows, heels, hands etc. this is such a good dry skin balm. Again, you can be as liberal as you want with how much you apply, but it helps get rid of dry callous skin almost instantly. For ladies with mature skin, it's exceptionally good at battling those dry knees and elbows that unfortunately seem to come with old age (my grandma swears by it).

Another skin saving magic trick it can do happens when you're shaving and need a shaving aid. Lather your legs in this stuff and as it's an oil, it will stay on the skin even under shower water and will provide your legs with some protection whilst still letting the razor get super close and smoothly shave. As it's such a conditioning product, it also doesn't irritate the skin and I can assure you, I've got the most sensitive legs in the world when it comes to shaving and this is 1 of 2 things that doesn't make my legs break out in shaving rash. It leaves my legs feeling soft and supple too but if you wanted to make sure that injection of softness really stays there, it's also an amazing post shave balm too. And I mean, if it works on your pins, it'll work on ya man's face too, right?

Okay okay, I promise this is the last moisturising suggestion I'm going to give when it comes to this product but oh my my it works wonders on dry hair. I have really thin, really oily hair naturally so usually I steer well clear of hair products that promise anti frizz and moisture boosting but coconut oil is different. Fly away hairs? Rub some coconut oil on them. Dry ends? Rub some coconut oil on them. Limp hair that's lost its shine? Rub some coconut oil on your whole scalp and wear it as a hair mask for a few minutes. This also really helps if you suffer from a dry itchy scalp like me as it really helps calm it down and stop it from potentially flaking and getting full of dandruff. As far as hair care goes, I think this stuff can be used as little or as often as you see fit. If you've got thick unruly locks (I'm jealous) this will really help tame them too. And if you need definition in your curls yo, look no further - you definitely don't need a curly mousse/definer as guy right here will do the job for a fraction of the price.

Last suggestion I want to make is possibly the main reason everyone went bananas for coconut oil last year and that is for stain pulling. There's so many home remedies and old wives tales for how to get whiter teeth and I thought coconut oil was just another one of them but personally I've found it actually works. Now, coconut oil pulling won't make your teeth sparkling white overnight or in fact, ever, but if you've got any staining, this does help draw it out, minimise it and prevent future staining. My teeth (despite there typically English shape) are in pretty good nick but sometimes I do get more severe staining than usual due to the amount of cups of tea I go through during times of heightened stress. Swilling some coconut oil around in my mouth for around 5 minutes - or as long as I can stomach because haha, I hate the taste of coconut - honestly makes such a difference. I try to use it every morning and night after my usual teeth care routine trying to particularly work hard at it in my evening routine before bed. I take quite a sizeable lump of it and swill it around my mouth until it melts and then just use it like a mouthwash. It won't happen overnight and like I said, coconut oil isn't really a whitening product that will give you a hollywood gleaming smile, but it does keep your teeth looking healthy and I feel like it helps my gums a lot too!

So there you have it. If you think the whole coconut oil thing was just a craze I'm here to say yeah, maybe it was, but give it a go because the opportunities for using it are endless. P.S. you can totally use it for you know, cooking and stuff too like it is intended...

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