Sunday, 29 May 2016

Lifestyle: #VoiceOff Challenge

I was recently contacted by the lovely Nicola, from The Exeter Deaf Academy who invited me to take part in their #VoiceOff challenge. I am a big supporter of local charities, so I jumped at the chance to take part in their campaign to raise some money and awareness for a wonderful cause.
If you aren't familiar with The Exeter Deaf Academy, they are a charity who run a residential school and college for students throughout the UK, 40% of which are from Devon and the students range in age from 4 to 24 years old. 
The main aim of the Deaf Academy is to enable deaf people to acquire language skills, develop socially, emotionally and excel educationally. Their vision is to see deaf people valued by themselves and their society, to build confidence and education, and also to help with good and appropriate employment and housing.
They also have an outreach program to support deaf students in mainstream schools and colleges too.

I think The Deaf Academy is such a wonderful charity, they support their students in everything from language skills to housing, all while building their confidence and independence for when they leave full-time education.

#VoiceOff Challenge
I have signed up to take part in the Ultimate #VoiceOff challenge, which involves switching off your voice for 24 hours. It's different from a sponsored silence in that you can find fun, alternate ways to communicate, such as texting, miming or even signing. I talk all day every day (I'm the biggest chatterbox), from answering the phone at work, to chatting with my boyfriend about how our days have been - my voice is the main way I communicate with the people around me. So I can only imagine how difficult it must be to not be able to communicate through speech - trying to share your opinion or simply asking a question becomes a mammoth task.
Voice Off day is on the 15th of  June, and I will be working all day. (I work in a hotel)
I have already informed my Manager that I will be unable to answer the phone, or speak with any of the guests all day. I know it's going to be a hard challenge, as my job does require me to speak with our guests, workmen, visitors and colleagues and I answer the phone multiple times a day.
My workplace are being very supportive, and my Manager has told me that he will be happy to answer the phone for the day!
I am going to be communicating via text message, gestures, writing down messages and pictures, and I will attempt to mouth words to see if people can understand me. I will also be wearing a badge on the day, provided in my fundraising pack to let the people around me know why I won't be speaking for the day.

I will be getting all of my work colleagues, friends and boyfriend to sponsor my #VoiceOff challenge, to hopefully raise some money for The Exeter Deaf Academy. 
The sponsorship money raised will all be going straight to the Exeter Deaf Academy to support their projects, such as family support and counselling services and the development of a social enterprise to provide work experience opportunities for young deaf people.

I will be documenting how I got on with the #VoiceOff challenge here on my blog, along with my thoughts on how it felt to switch my voice off for 24 hours and also to let you know how much money I have raised for such an amazing charity.

If you also want to take part in the ultimate Voice Off challenge, and raise some money for a brilliant cause or to find out some more information - click here to read the #VoiceOff FAQ's. 

I hope you enjoyed this #VoiceOff challenge post.
If you would like to support my Ultimate Voice Off Challenge, and help me to raise some money for the Exeter Deaf Academy - that would be amazing!
Here is the link if you would like to sponsor me!

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*I am not being compensated or paid for taking part in the #VoiceOff Challenge, I am simply taking part to raise money for a good cause!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Lifestyle: Sleep Easy

I have been struggling to get a good night's sleep recently. I keep stirring in the night, waking up bursting for wee thinking my bladder may or may not explode at any second, getting up hours before my alarm, and feeling so drained of energy after working all day that I've been having afternoon disco naps. So I thought I would share with you some of the steps I have been taking, to try and get some much needed shut eye.
Evenings are always my time to get everything done. I usually work my way through my to do list for the next day, maybe squeeze in a workout, binge watch my YouTube subscription box, write up blog posts and have a where did the last hour go? quick scroll through Twitter. 
I like to try and get everything done by about 9.00pm, which leaves me the rest of the evening to relax.

I've recently started doing at home yoga once a week, in the evenings. I find it so difficult to switch off from the world, my head is so full of lists, schedules, doubts and worries, that it's nice to take half an hour to sit, stretch, breathe and lose myself - all while strengthening my body at the same time.

I love having a hot shower in the evening - oh how I wish I had a bath! At the moment I've been loving the Lush Twilight shower gel I received for my birthday last year. It has a lovely lavender scent, which feels so calming and really clears my mind. I then do my skincare routine, and if I'm feeling rather fancy I might pop on a face mask or paint my nails.

Comfort is definitely key in my eyes. After showering I'll whack on some cosy pyjamas, and maybe my dressing gown if it's a chilly evening and settle down on the sofa with a cup of green tea.
I love fresh bed sheets - there is no better feeling than sliding into a clean, fresh bed and cocooning yourself in those sweet smelling sheets. Pure bliss.

Ian, my boyfriend and I, don't get to spend much time together during the day as we both have full time jobs, friends and commitments. So we always make sure we spend some quality time together in the evenings. After ten is our time - we curl up on the sofa, pyjamas on, with all the snacks and settle down to watch our current Netflix obsession. Some of our favourites are: Person of interest, Chuck, White Collar, Dexter and Warehouse 13.

Phone Free Zone 
I try, emphasise on the try, to not check my phone after 10.30pm. I find it's a good time to switch off from the online world. It's nice to spend an evening with your loved ones or even solo, without refreshing your instagram feed every five minutes and missing half an episode of How I Met Your Mother because you were liking a picture of someone's cat. However cute it may be...

I love a good cup of tea. I always make myself a green, peppermint or camomile tea before bed, as I find it relaxes me, settles my stomach and helps me to drift off. My current favourite is the PG Tips strawberry cupcake green tea - deeelicous. I'm always on the hunt for new teas, so if you have any recommendations please leave me a comment below.

I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I usually go to sleep around midnight, as that's the time I start feeling tired and ready for my bed, and I get up any time between 6.30am and 7.30am, depending on what shifts I'm working, or if it's my day off I usually lie in until around 8.30am. That gives me about seven to seven and a half hours of sleep, which for me is just right.

Light's Out
My last tip is the most important. For me, total darkness is key for a good night's sleep.
Draw your curtains, drop those blinds, turn that pesky hallway light off and starfish!
Sweet dreams.

I hope you enjoyed this 'Sleep easy' post, What are some of your tips for a good night's kip? Maybe you a yoga fan too, what are some of your favourite ways to unwind in the evening?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Lifestyle: Positive Vibes

I like to think that I am a positive person. I've always been a glass half full kinda gal and you will usually see me with a big smile on my face and a ridiculous cackle to boot - but sometimes other people, difficult situations and my anxiety (I don't talk about it much here on my blog, but it is something I have privately been struggling with for a while now) can bring me down, until all of my positive intentions go right out of the window. 
Once you get into that negative state of mind, it can be difficult to pull yourself back out - but I always try to lift myself up again. 
Here are a few little tips that I use to get those positive vibes flowing, and try to get back to my happy self.
Crank up the tunes
Music is a huge love of mine, I always have some form of tune playing in the background be it dancing around to the radio in my kitchen, going for a walk with my headphones in or having a car sing-along with my boyfriend.
Here are some of my favourite feel good songs that always put a smile on my face whenever I hear them (even when I'm feeling particularly low) hopefully they'll put a smile on your face too!

Send me on my way - Rusted Root (90's kids, you'll probably remember this one from Matilda!)
You make my dreams come true - Hall and Oates
Buddy Holly - Weezer
If it makes you happy - Sheryl Crow
The Longest Time - Billy Joel (If you watch How I met your mother, you'll get me!)
I believe in a thing called love - The Darkness
Cool for cats - Squeeze
Waka Waka - Shakira
Hey ya - Outkast
One week - Barenaked Ladies
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis

Fresh air
Walking is one of my favourite things to do - just going for a brisk walk can give me a fresh perspective and helps to clear my mind. It's just me, the beautiful surroundings, my feet pounding away and my thoughts. Perfect.

Sleep it off
Naps are a gift from the gods. It's amazing what a twenty minute power nap can do to boost your mood. Sometimes you need to just switch off from the world, curled up with your cosiest blanket, in your favourite pyjamas. Snooze away.

Social media free zone
As much as I love social media, it's nice to take some time for yourself offline every now and then. Read your favourite book, flick through a magazine, watch a few episodes of your current Netflix obsession, soak in a hot bath or grab a cuppa and a slice of cake with a friend. Social media can sometimes be the cause of negative feelings, so it's nice to log off and enjoy some well deserved you time.

Sweat it out
I love exercising, I find that it helps me to relax and also takes my mind off any negative feelings I might be dealing with. It doesn't have to be an hour long slog in the gym, just fifteen minutes of yoga, stretching or even dancing around your living room is enough to get that blood pumping, and releases those delightful feel good endorphins.

Chocolate is the answer, who cares what the question is
Sometimes only chocolate will do - fact. I'm not talking about 'eating your feelings', but the odd bar of chocolate while enjoying some quality time with my other half, best friend or even solo while watching Friend's re-runs can really brighten my mood!
Check out my top five favourite bars here. #drool

I hope you enjoyed this 'Positive Vibes' post, Do you struggle with anxiety too? What are some of your top tips for getting back into a positive mindset?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Health: Five Favourites

Ah, chocolate - the answers to all of life's questions are hidden in the smooth, decadent layers of each piece. Just kidding, but it's pretty damn delicious isn't it.
Dark chocolate is my favourite. I love the bitterness and rich flavour - it satisfies those sweet cravings without giving me a sugar crash. I find that sometimes when I overdo it on the sugar (looking at you Easter!) I get a headache and just end up feeling a bit rubbish to be honest.

So with all of that in mind, I thought I would share with you my top five favourite chocolate bars, that will keep your sweet tooth well, sweet - and are much better for you than a slab of Dairy Milk. Win, win.
Dark, with a kick of lucuma (which has an almost butterscotch/maple syrup taste to it) and a subtle hint of coconut. I love the combination of flavours, and the coconut doesn't overpower the bar - simply delicious.

Super dark, with a rich flavour. A square or two of this is more than enough to satisfy your sweet cravings. I love that Lindt chocolate bars have the biggest squares (the bigger the better I say!) as it makes having a couple of squares seem like so much more - the perfect after dinner treat.

Milky, creamy and just delicious. If you are a fan of milk chocolate but want to be a bit healthier, I'd definitely give Ombar a whirl. Their chocolate is so creamy, and tastes just like milk chocolate but without the sugar overload. It's dairy free, and suitable for vegans too - a winner!
I'm desperate to try their buttons too, mmm.

This one is a bit Marmite. The chocolate has a soft, squidgy texture to it and doesn't have that 'snap', which might not be to everyone's taste. I always keep my chocolate in the fridge regardless, but I'd definitely recommend storing this bar in the fridge, as it hardens up and has a lovely rich taste to it.

Super sweet almost white chocolate taste, with a strong vanilla flavour throughout. This is the perfect bar if you're not a fan of dark chocolate, or are making the transition to raw. It has the creamiest texture, and just melts in your mouth. I love that it comes in a handy 22g bar, which is perfect for taking on the go and helps to keep my portion sizes in check. (I could easily nibble my way through so many bars!)

I hope you enjoyed this 'Five favourites' chocolate heaven post, What is your favourite chocolate bar? Are you a dark chocolate lover like me?

I'd love to know. leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx