I wish I had Santorinian marble tabletops to talk all my blog photos on, how gorgeous is this. I was packing to go home on my recent trip to Santorini then had an idea to write a Summer Holiday Essentials including all my must have items for a trip in the sun. Hopefully this will help you if you’re going to be packing for a summer holiday any time soon. I envy you if you are, I need another holiday already.

Summer Holiday Essentials

A damn good book, or ten – I don’t read much at home at all but when I go on holiday I can get through a book a day. I bought The Girl On The Train with me, if you haven’t read this already, you really should.

Your favourite pair of sunnies – I usually take one ‘designer’ pair then a couple of cheaper pairs so I don’t look the same in every photo. I don’t like to take all of my best sunglasses with me in case my luggage gets lost of something. These are a pair of Tiffany’s from a couple of seasons ago that I adore.

Make-up for the no make-up make-up look – I try to wear as little make-up as possible on holiday to give my skin a bit of a break. I always bring concealer, mascara, lippy and a palette like the Makeup Revolution Golden Sugar. This is perfect for creating a natural, glowing, bronzed look.

Flip flops – I live in flip flops over the summer, whether it be abroad or in the UK. I usually buy a new pair of Havainas every couple of years and by the look of these, they need replacing soon.

Face masks – I like a good pamper when I go on holiday. I always ask for a bath in my hotel room so I can relax after a long tiring day on the beach with a face mask. I bought a sample of the Exuviance Clay Mask and a 7th Heaven Papaya Hair and Roots Mask.

Invisibobbles – I always carry a couple of hair bands with my when I’m by the pool. As much as I love my hair down, the sea breeze gets on my nerves after a while so it’s nice to have these handy.

Playing Cards – Sam and I have a tradition where we buy a pack of playing cards from every country that we visit. We choose ones with photos of that place on so these have 52 photos of Santorini. We try and keep away from technology as much as possible so we usually play a few card games in the evening (sh*thead and rummy are our favourites).

Salt Spray – I usually take a salt spray with me on holiday but I decided to try Paul Mitchell Ultimate Waves this time and this is now one of my favourites. You just add a little of this to your hair after getting out of the bath/shower/sea/pool (you get the idea) and you will have lovely beach waves.

Suncream – Obviously, what’s a Summer Holiday Essentials post without suncream, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t include Aftersun in this photo too. I like taking Piz Buin Tan and Protect with me, I’ll use a mixture of this and standard factor 30 cream. The only thing with oils is they’re very very oily, obviously again, but I’ve always got to shower and wash my hair after using  tan accelerating oils and I don’t like washing my hair more than 2-3 times a week.

Something to remove make-up – I find Micellar Water the easiest way to take my make-up off on holiday, I use a couple of cotton wool pads and make-up wipes away easily. Whatever you do, don’t take make-up wipes, you skin will already be dry from the sun exposure and make-up wipes will make this 10x worse.

Moisturiser – I lather myself in moisturiser twice a day when I’ve got my arms and legs out. This makes my skin feel lovely and have a natural glow, it can also slightly protect it from sun exposure and rehydrate it in the evening. I loved this Cuccio Lavender moisturiser.

A go-to pair of shorts – I almost forgot these as you can’t see them in the photo very well, they’re under the sunglasses. But you need to have a go-to pair of shorts that you can quickly slip over bikini bottom on the beach or by the pool. I love these Motel White Lace Shorts.

Are any of these your Summer Holiday Essentials? Do you have anything you have to take when you go abroad?

Ami xxxxx

 

 

It’s so hard being a blogger in the current online word, even harder being a ‘smaller’ blogger trying to stand out among the crowd. I’ve been blogging for nearly nine years now and I’ve seen the ‘blogosphere’ evolve in ways you couldn’t even imagine. I’m still kicking myself that I deleted my first ever blog, I would have loved to read back through that now.

It’s taken this long for brands to start to realise just how much a blogger can help them, I’m getting less of the ‘we’d love to help you out by letting you feature our products’ emails, but trust me, I still get the awful ones. 90% of the time, when brands realise the potential of working with bloggers they immediately try to get in contact with the ‘biggest’ blogs out there. I wanted to put this together to show you, brands, how we, smaller bloggers can help you too.

Brands: How Working With Small Bloggers Will Benefit You

1. We work just as damn hard, blogging doesn’t come easily to anyone, I’m not going to say we work harder because we don’t. But we do have to work much harder to get the opportunities in the first place, and once we get them, and I’m speaking for pretty much every blogger I know, we will work damn hard to make the content exactly how YOU want it, so maybe, just maybe, you’ll want to work with us again in the future.

2. Promotion, promotion, promotion – views may come easier to someone with a large social media following, all they have to do it post a link once and hundreds upon thousands of people may view the post. We, smaller bloggers will work our arses off to get our posts seen, posting on every social media platform we know, probably some you’ve never even heard of, multiple times a day. I mean, I’m still promoting content from 2 years ago. It may take a little longer to get the promotion you intended, but you’ll get it.

3. We charge laughable prices, I know it’s all about knowing your worth but I know personally, if a brand that I was devoted to got in touch, I’d promote them for next to nothing, with the hope that there will be bigger and better opportunities as my blog grows. None of us expect to be paid thousands for one Instagram post, just think, pay one blogger £1000 or 20 bloggers £50, I know which one I’d chose.

4. We’re more likely to post about your products, I know that I want to post about absolutely everything that I’m sent and surprise PR parcels make my day, my week, maybe even my year. Us smaller bloggers are just waiting for those opportunities, waiting to promote YOUR products.

5.  Link building; wishful thinking here but what if something that I’d written went viral overnight? Your link is already sitting there on my site and it would be worth 100x more. I don’t even need to be as exaggerative as something going viral, as my DA rises over the years, as my blog becomes more popular, that link that I’ve placed for you will be much much more valuable.

6. Building relationships, I’ve touched upon this in other points but working with us now will help to build future relationships. I reached out to a brand when I’d been blogging a few months, probably a little too eager but it was worth a try, they shot me down, in quite a nasty way. This year, they got in touch with me, and guess what I did, I told them I wasn’t interested. I hold grudges, and I’m sure I’m not just speaking for myself.

7. Social media following isn’t always what it seems, I personally know bloggers that have bought followers, it’s easy, I could go and buy 20,000 twitter followers right now and maybe you’ll work with me. Just remember; followers don’t mean readers.

A little side note for brands, if you give us the opportunities to work with you, please work with us. A little RT, Facebook Post, Regram, even an email to say thank you goes a long long way.

Ami xxxxx

Degustabox is a monthly food subscription box. Each month’s box is filled with 10-15 food/drink items that are brand new to the market, giving you the opportunity to try new products at a reduced price. Degustabox is only £12.99 per month including P&P and you can save £1 per month by subscribing, you can also save a massive £6 on this box* with my discount code BLDEG15.  I’m sure you’re eager to find out what was inside the May Degustabox…

Degustabox May 2016

Degustabox May 2016

Degustabox May 2016

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Barbecue Glaze – Infused with the flavours of Jack Daniel’s with added honey for sweetness, my mouth is already watering just thinking about it. This is ideal for coating chicken before barbecuing, Degustabox also included a recipe card to make Barbecue Glazed Brisket Burgers using this sauce.

Garofalo Bucati Corti – I can’t wait to use this, it looks so fun to cook with. It’s a corkscrew pasta made from high quality durum wheat.

Cranes Alcoholic Drink – There’s two bottles included in this month’s Degustabox, I got the Original Cranberry and Strawberry and Kiwi. There is also a Raspberry and Pomegranate flavour. This is an alcoholic drink made purely from crushed cranberries with added fruit juice for flavour. Sam’s looking forward to trying these.

Kallø Rice Cakes – I’ve tried the Belgian Milk Chocolate Corn Cakes before and really enjoyed them but the Yoghurt Coated Rice Cakes sound lovely too. These are perfect as a healthier lunch.

Brioche Pasquier Croissants – Anyone that knows me well will know my love for Croissants, I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are wrapped in twos to keep them fresh and free from artificial colours, preservatives and hydrogenated fats.

Get Fruity – You’ll get one of three flavours, Strawberry, Orange or Blueberry, I’m glad I received the Strawberry flavour at that’s always my favourite. I tend to keep fruit bars in my handbag for when I get hungry throughout the day, it saves me buying chocolate and snacking on that.

Beloved Date Nectar – I’ve never heard of Date Nectar before but I’m excited to try it, it’s a healthier alternative to honey made from 100% pure dates. I’m going to use this for baking in the near future so keep an eye out for my recipe, I think I’ll try flapjacks.

The Wonderful Company Almonds and Pistachios – Sam was happy when he noticed the Pistachios as he loves them. They’re a perfect snack size, I’m always buying large bags of mixed unsalted nuts and eating far too many in one sitting.

Pechkeks Misfortune Cookies – Black cookies, black humour. Yes I get the idea of these, yes they could be funny for some people but I don’t think anyone wants to hear ‘were you born that way or was it an operation gone wrong’.

Pomegreat – I love Pomegranate but it’s one of the most awkward things to eat and I’m not keen on pips or bits. This is pure Pomegranate juice, without the bits and tastes delicious. Sam and I have already managed to drink this and we only received the box 3 days ago.

Mrs Crimbles Madeleines – These weren’t on the Degustabox May Menu so I’m not sure if they’re in every box. I love Madeleines, you can also get chocolate or jam filled ones, I’m a very plain eater so I love the ones without anything in the middle.

Degustabox also kindly sent these Morse Toad Chocolates to say thank you. I’m really fussy with chocolate (I’m a Cadbury’s only girl) but these were delicious and I had to offer them out in a meeting so I didn’t eat the entire box. I’m always making others eat my naughty food for me. You can buy these Morse Toad chocolates for any occasion and get the chocolate letters to spell out anything. I thought it was a really nice gesture.

Remember; you can save a massive £6 on your Degustabox with my discount code BLDEG15.

Do you get the Degustabox? What was your favourite item in this month’s box?

Ami xxxxx

A couple of weeks ago when I was playing around with my blog I discovered that it was running VERY slowly. Page Speed wasn’t something I thought about, I know I probably should have, but my site was running OK and that was all that was important to me at the time. It wasn’t until I did a Google Page Speed Insight Test that I discovered that my blog was scoring a mere 12/100. There’s me hoping to monetize my blog this year when I can’t even get that right… Anyway, I found that this score was mainly due to my images being far too big which was having a major affect on the loading time of my blog. I managed to increase my Google Page Speed score from 12 to 60/100 just by optimising my images so I thought I’d let you know how it’s done.

How To Optimise Images For A Faster Page Speed Insight

*excuse the photo, I couldn’t find a single photo relating to the subject. Everyone loves sweets right?

1. Firstly, check the settings on your DSLR/Camera, mine was taking photos at around 20MP which is far, far too high to begin with. Most modern cameras will have a range of picture size settings to chose from. I’ve changed mine to 2MP. I wouldn’t recommended bigger than 4MP.

2. Then, before you insert your photos into your blog post you need to compress them. I’ve been using TinyPNG which compresses photos as much as it possibly can but retains all the quality. It’s the most user friendly method I’ve found. Simply choose the photos you want to compress, wait for it to work it’s magic, download the images then insert these as you usually would in a blog post.

3. I have also downloaded two Plugins to help with image size once they’re on my blog; WP Smush and Resize Image After Upload. WP Smush will automatically compress photos, I did find the free version wasn’t as effective as doing it prior using TinyPNG but I’ve kept it activated as it will compress photos further if it can. Resize Image After Upload lets you set a maximum pixel width and height for your photos. I have set the maximum width as 700px and left the height open (0).

These steps may seem simple to some of you, but I’m hoping they will help others like they’ve helped me. I’m constantly working on my Google Page Speed so I’ll be doing further ‘how to’ guides on how to improve other aspects. Obviously a score of 60/100 still isn’t great but these simple steps improved my score by 48 so it was most definitely worth it.

I’d love to hear if these steps have helped you and whether you’d like to see more posts like these.

Ami xxxxx

 

Bake Box is a dream come true for all enthusiastic and beginner bakers . I was eagerly awaiting on the postman for this one. Bake Box is a baking subscription box which arrives bimonthly and costs just £14.99 per box packed with bakeware worth over £40. You can also get the boxes even cheaper if you subscribe for 6 or 12 months. Each box comes with 6-8 bespoke baking items and 6 recipe cards telling you exactly how to use them.

Bake Box Baking Subscription Box

Bake Box Baking Subscription Box

Bake Box Baking Subscription Box

This is their Spots and Stripes box but their current box, themed ‘Flower Power’ and contains a fabulous selection of summer themed/floral products, I think the flower cutters are my favourites. You can order this one right here. I’m going to have a go at making some of the recipes but I wanted to share the Bake Box with you first. The Spots and Stripes Bake Box came with everything you see above, I think that’s amazing for £15.00, I was so excited opening it all.

I’m going to use the Beko Swiss Roll Mat and have a go at making the Polka Dot Swiss Roll over the weekend. A Swiss Roll has been on my long list of ‘things to bake’ for a while now so I’m looking forward to finally making one. The Bake Box also came with a Decorative Swirly Silicone Bundt Mould which is so different to any bakeware the a currently own, Sam mentioned that this one would be fab for jelly too.

Another recipe I’m going to try is the ‘Fashionista Biscuits’ using the Stripy and Spotty Stencils and Round Plunge Cutters, I love how these look on the recipe card so I’m hoping mine turn out the same. The Stripy and Spotty Stencils would also come in handy for this recipe.

The last things that the Bake Box included was a Plain Icing Nozzle, Coulper and Piping Bag and a Sugarcraft Wheel Cutter which I’m looking forward to using in future baking. Piping Bags always come in handy as I’m forever breaking mine and losing the nozzles.

Have you tried Bake Box before? What is your go-to bakeware?

Ami xxxxx