January Instagram Roundup

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hello Everybody!
I'm back with another roundup for you. I didn't post on Instagram as much as I would have liked this month, but I'm still happy with how my pictures are coming out. Now that I'm getting back into reading I've had a lot of fun taking snaps of the books I'm reading and some of the covers are just stunning. As you can tell, my love of vege bowls continues! I also started my Baking With Ro series this month using the Nerdy Nummies cookbook, which has been a lot of fun. 

Here's my Instagram if you want to follow along : )

What did you guys get up to in January? 
Steph x.

How I Stay Motivated to Work Out

Saturday, 30 January 2016

I know from experience that it can be hard to stick to a fitness routine and to stay motivated when life gets busy. Somehow, over the last couple of years I have managed to find ways to stay motivated and feel even more determined than ever to work hard. Seeing as those new year resolutions are still hanging around, I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks for staying motivated to work out:

Fitspo on Pinterest
Staying inspired in all aspects of my life is really important to me and it keeps me going whenever I'm in a slump. Combine that with my love of Pinterest and I can be both entertained and inspired for days. I love everything from quotes, recipes, work-out fashion, and even fit Instagram girls who have made it. While you shouldn't focus your energy on other people's progress, it can be great to keep a goal in mind and say to yourself "that's gonna be me." Here's my Fitspo board

Seeing progress
This is probably the biggest motivator for me. When I started noticing how small my waist had got and how my clothes began to sit better, I knew all of my hard work had paid off. And that was just 4 days a week at the gym for two months! It almost becomes an addiction after that, and before you know it you're being called a gym-bunny (true story.)Yes, it does take time to lose weight and tone up, but just think of how great you will look in a year? The time is going to fly by anyway, so you might as well be getting sexier at the gym!

Living a healthy lifestyle
Feeling great doesn't just come from working out. They do say that abs are made in the kitchen and it's quite true. No matter how much you go to the gym, you're never going to get them if you're stuffing your face with processed foods all day. There's really only four rules to it:
  • Get enough sleep every night
  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat clean foods
  • Exercise regularly 
And that's all you have to do to live a healthy lifestyle that will make you feel great! I found that once I committed to exercise, I couldn't stand treating my body badly. I eat foods that give me energy and stay hydrated to make running easier. It's shown me what my body can do and now I have a new respect for it.

Having a good relationship with my PT 
I honestly owe a lot of my success to my personal trainer. Without him, I would just be stumbling along, having no idea what to in order to get the body I want. Personal trainers are an absolute god-send when you're new to a gym and they'll help boost your confidence quicker than you think. Mine knows that if he sets me a program, I'm going to do it and I'm going to work hard. He sees me committing to my work outs, so he's more likely to take me seriously and help me along. Best investment you can make for your fitness. There's no way I can disappoint him now!

Appreciating my body for what it is right now, not what it will be
As much as I'm aiming to look like the girls on my Fitness Pinterest board, I know that it will take a whole bunch of time and hard work to get there. I've learned to appreciate how far I've come already and how great I feel, rather than punishing myself for not being perfect. It's like that quote "If you spend all your time looking up at the mountain you have climb instead of the steps in front of you, you'll never get there." So choose to be happy and proud right now.

Buying cute work-out clothes 
Who doesn't love showing off a new outfit? I recently found one that shows off the jaguar tattoo I have on my ribs and I was so pumped to go to the gym so I could wear it. I also have a pair of New Balance tights that are super-comfortable and super-flattering. I always feel great wearing them, which is so important when you're working out. Go shout yourself something new when you are feeling a bit low on motivation and you'll be excited to work out again. Ditch the old t-shirts and feel great in something new!

A good playlist to get you moving
The first step for me is just getting to the gym. But once I'm there I have to stay motivated whilst working out. This is why I absolutely have to have my own music with me so I can get the right songs going. I have such a mixed playlist, but they come in handy at different stages in my routine. Salute by Little Mix always gets me into beast mode when I start, then there's various pop/hip-hop/electronic songs to keep my pace going. A good playlist can work wonders!

Changing my program 
I'm someone who will get bored easily and I can't just do the same thing everyday (which is why I run on different days.) I work with my PT to keep my routine new and I get excited to go back to try it out again. Work on something until it becomes easy, then set yourself a new challenge to help your progress. You always want to be happy with how your fitness routine is, if not, change it up!

I hope those tips were helpful! They all work well for me and I'm incredibly happy with my current lifestyle. Always remember that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so just stick it out for 3 weeks and you will be on your way! 
Do you have any fitness goals? How do you stay motivated?
Let me know in the comments!
Steph x.

A Few Of My Favorite Things - Janurary

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Hello Everybody!
The first monthly favorites of 2016! It is going to be a little different on my blog this year, since I don't try enough makeup in a month to focus just on beauty it's going to be a big collaboration of items instead. Sound good? Cool! So here's a general mix of everything I loved in January, from skincare to snacks and work-out fashion!

Goodness Everyday Cream Cleanser 
This brand has become my go-to for skin care, so when I ran out of my First Aid Beauty Cleanser I decided to replace it with this one. It leaves your skin feeling so soft and nourished, which its perfect way to start or end your day. And no wonder, since it's full of apple extract, chia seed, avocado and coconut oils to keep your skin feeling lovely. You get quite a big tube as well, so your money will go far with this one!

Maybelline Baby Lips Candy Wow "Raspberry"
This one has had permanent residence in my handbag all month long. It's one of the best tinted lip balms I have tried and I find the packaging really cute. It leaves a really lovely pink color doesn't dry out my lips. Definitely trying more from this range.

Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation 
My beloved Maybelline Fit Me foundation is now running out, so I went on the hunt for a replacement. I have never tried a foundation by Rimmel before (gasp!) but I have to say that this one is amazing. The formula is thick, yet it feels so light on your skin. It also survived a work shift better than any other product I have tried. If you're looking for a matte foundation to try, I highly recommend this one.

Mini Bagel with Chocolate Peanut Spread

My new favorite snack! I was watching an old Zoella vlog where she was having bagels with Nutella on them, so I blame Zoe for making me crave the same (still love her though.) To save me committing to an entire bagel, I found these adorable minis. I also spotted this Mother Earth Chocolate Spread that I wanted so I thought why not make it a winning combo!

Making my own popcorn
I had a major craving for these the other week and have been obsessed since. I didn't want to get popcorn that was covered in greasy butter and salt, so I ended up making my own! I found this Jamie Oliver YouTube video for a healthy recipe and loved it. He coated his in Marmite, but I'm a Vegemite kind of girl and it worked like a charm. 

Stella McCartney Adidas Tights

I had one of those "I don't know what I want to wear" days as I was heading to the gym. Naturally, I raided my Mum's closet and I remembered she had these tucked away (She never wears them, so it's fine!) Compared to all of my other black tights, these are a nice change and I'm in love with the design. Quite comfortable too!

Lorna Jane Sporty Sister Tank

I swear it was written in my destiny to find and buy this top. On a recent trip to the mall, I had an urge to go into one of the sports stores to see if they had any new Lorna Jane gear, when I found this gem. It was the last one on the rack, exactly my size, and the sides are open so I can now show off my jaguar tattoo! The material feels amazing (like everything in the LJ range) and it's just a lot of fun to wear. You gotta treat yourself every once in a while, right?

Spartan Fitness Daily Calender 
If you read my Fitness Bucketlist post, you'll know that it's a big goal of mine to complete a Spartan obstacle race at some point in the next few years. I spotted this at the calendar stall the other day and just knew that I had to pick it up. It's filled with fitness advice, recipes and motivational quotes to keep me working hard through the year. The race is pretty intense, so I need all the help I can get! 

Cotton On Water Bottle
I have been searching for a new bottle for a while now, with no luck. They're either too big or the top is annoying to drink from. I'm like the Goldilocks of drink bottles! On my weekly hunt for new gym-gear I found this one and it's perfect! It's 950mls, so now I can measure my water intake each day. 

Ignite Me, Tahereh Mafi

I finally got my butt into gear and finished the Shatter Me series, this poor book had been sitting on my shelf for over a year...and it was fantastic! I was honestly glued to this book for the three days it took me to read it, and the scenes between Juliette and Warner was leaving me a bit breathless. The character development was amazing and I forgot how great the writing is structured for some of the really intense scenes.

Little Book Owl 
If you hadn't noticed, I have become obsessed with reading books again and have been trying to find recommendations for what I should read next. I started watching Caz a while ago and rediscovered her YouTube channel this month, and I forgot how much I loved it! She is such a natural and her reviews are really great (no spoilers!) so I have been watching so many of her videos for reading inspiration. Love her!

Like I said, a bit of a mixed batch this month! January has definitely started 2016 on a high note for me. I have to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me get to 200 followers this month! I'm well on my way to making my year goal of 500 and I'm thankful to everyone who reads my blog <3

What have you been loving in January?
Steph x.

Anna Saccone Neckalce & What it Means to Me

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Hello Everyone!
I have a nice personal post for you today, we all love those, right? If you don't know who Anna Saccone is, she is an amazing YouTuber who has her own channel, as well as being a part of her family daily vlog channel, the Sacconejoly's. I absolutely love watching Anna's videos, she just a very real and honest person. Her baking videos always help me unwind after a long day and her fitness videos have been really inspiring.

When Anna released her line of zodiac necklaces I was so excited! They looked amazing and she explained how much effort she put in to make sure that we were getting excellent quality. The only reason I did not buy one right away was the price. I had recently moved from full-time work to part-time, so my money was being spread thin. Thankfully when Christmas came around my parents offered to buy one for me (bless them!) and I didn't even care that it wouldn't be shipping in time for the 25th.
 It was honestly worth the wait because this necklace is stunning! The quality is amazing and you can tell it's going to last for such a long time. I'm not a huge fan of gold, although I am warming up to it, so I went for the silver and a 60cm chain. If you're wondering, it's the Sagittarius star sign and I'm really loving it's design.

There are a few reasons why getting this necklace meant a lot to me. For starters, Anna has become a big inspiration to me. She is exactly who I want to be like in the future when it comes to family and career. She makes an effort every single day to put make up on and wear a nice outfit, which always makes you feel better. I think it's easy when you have kids to forget about yourself, but Anna seems to find a really good balance #momgoals. She also runs a successful blog along-side her YouTube channel, which always inspires me to keep working hard on my own blog. She built her career doing what she loves, and is now inspiring a new generation to do the same.

I have also been interested in astrology for the longest time and believe there is meaning to it. Usually when I read personality types of my sign they are always spot on! For example, Sagittarius hate drama, you can't corner us or we will run, and we are really observant. That sums me up pretty well! Which is why I will proudly wear my star sign.

You can buy Anna's Zodiac necklaces on Stilnest.com and they are worth every penny!

What YouTubers/Bloggers inspire you the most?
Steph x. 

Weekly Snaps Diary #6

Sunday, 24 January 2016

All I need for relaxing afternoon off work: coffee and a book.

My bookshelves had become way too messy in these past few weeks so I had to spend a good chunk of my day rearranging my books. Now I'm one happy (and kinda-organized) bookworm.

It's been raining for four days! Why Christchurch? I desperately need to take blog photos, but the lighting is terrible #bloggerproblems

If you saw my post, you'll know I made galaxy cupcakes! I used the recipe from Rosanna Pansino's cookbook Nerdy Nummies. They were a lot easier to make than I thought and taste amazing!

I made my own gnocchi for dinner! It's just Ricotta cheese, flour and an egg.

I finally got a new drink bottle! It's the perfect size (950ml) so it's not too big, yet I know I only have to drink two of these a day to stay hydrated. I like keeping track of those kinds of things; plus the writing describes me perfectly!

Oh I've missed Dan and Phil! They brought out a new Sims video this week and I have completely forgotten how funny there are. I also had another personal training session today and I'm really excited to get back and work on my dead-lifts. 

Here's my typical Saturday morning set-up: breakfast in bed while I watch YouTube, chat on Twitter and get some blog work done. I usually work at my desk, but weekends are for relaxing!

We went to the Re-Start mall to check out our favorite fitness store Lululemon. I could honestly spend so much money in there! Plus we had to stop for coffee even though it was a scorching hot day.

We drove by a new playground in the city center and decided to stop for ice-cream. It's hard in Christchurch nowadays to find somewhere bustling with people, so this was really nice.

Sunday always means baking! I tried the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Nerdy Nummies and they turned out great. I did manage to burn my fingers quite badly taking them out of the oven (oops!) but it was worth it for these. 

 I pretty much spent that remaining hours of Sunday editing posts and watching Dan and Phil Games on YouTube. A relaxing way to end a great week!

I hope January is treating you well so far : )
What was your favorite part of the past week?

Steph x.

What's In My Gym Bag

Friday, 22 January 2016

Hello Everyone! 
 I've been going to the gym for almost a year now and I'm still loving it. I go five times a week and some days I leave there for a run with my Mum. It took me a while, but I've come up with a core list of things that I always take with me. Some of them are for just-in-case scenarios, but I'm someone who needs to be prepared!

I'd like to start by pointing out that you really don't need to take that much stuff with you. Most days I survive with a water bottle, towel, and my music. So, if you're new to a gym don't feel pressured to go out and buy a bunch of accessories. You don't need them, I promise.

I really don't bring enough things with me to justify a bigger bag (I live close by, so I don't shower there.) I've used a Nike bag for years and it lasted me so long. I'm also a fan their designs and the functionality that comes with the amount of pockets they include. 

There's nothing worse than getting to the gym and realizing that you forgot to put deodorant on. No one wants to be THAT person at the gym. I always keep a spare roll-on in my bag, as well as a spray in case I'm feeling like I really need it.

Gym Towel 
Can't survive a session without one of these! (If I can, I'm not working hard enough.) I have two of these that rotate each day, my #healthie one is from Cotton On Body. These are great for wiping benches or equipment down once you're done using them too.

Water Bottle 
Again, something I can't survive the gym without. I like using metal bottles since I can keep it in the fridge and it keeps my water cold for quite a while. Thank goodness for gym water fountains too! It's so important to keep yourself hydrated.

Spare hair-ties and clips
For those inevitable hair emergencies! I make a habit of carrying these with me in my normal handbag as well, just in case. Sometimes a get to the gym and realize there's a massive kink in my hair that I have to fix. 

Because there's no point in carrying hair-ties if I'm just going to make a mess of my hair anyway (and I always do without one.) I actually bought this one when I lost my Tangle Teaser, but that has now been recovered so I keep this second one for the gym.

Music and Headphones
This is incredibly necessary, seeing as I'm really picky with music at times. There's nothing like Little Mix's Salute to get me into beast mode. Also, over-ear headphones are so great for actually staying in your ears.

Lip Balm  
Another one of these small things that comes in handy from time to time! I really love the EOS lip balms and they're the perfect size to keep in your bag.

Peanut Butter
I get that this is a little weird, but a gym bag should always carry a snack/protein source! I read a while ago that having a spoon of PB after a workout is great for starting muscle repair. Sometimes I will go straight from the gym to the park where I run with my Mum, so I need a little treat when I'm done.

My little bag of emergency supplies
I carry this bag everywhere with me and I think the gym is where I could need it most! It's full of plasters, feminine hygiene stuff, and even my calming chews in case my anxiety plays up. I started keeping a bag like this in high school, and let me tell you that it really does come in handy from time to time.

And that's it! I find that you learn over time what to take to the gym with you and what to leave at home. As long as you remember your towel, water, music and your motivation, you can't go wrong!

What are your exercise necessities? 
Steph x.

Baking with Ro: Galaxy Cupcakes

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Hello Everyone! I'm back with more baking adventures thanks to the Nerdy Nummies cookbook, which is helping me with my baking confidence this year. I spent a whole lot of time last week watching Anna Saccone baking videos with her adorable children, a lot of which were cupcake recipes, so I've been craving them so bad all week! As usual, all credit goes to the amazing Rosanna Pansino and her team for creating these. I am simply sharing my experience with the recipe and any extra tips and tricks I learn along the way. 

These cupcakes were actually really fun and so easy to make! I thought the icing would be harder than it was, but they turned out great! Even if you haven't done much baking before, you'll still be able to create these little beauties

This is by far the easiest cupcake mix I have ever made. It's just mixing your dry ingredients, mixing your wet ingredients, then add them together and you're done! No electronics needed for this recipe, which I personally appreciate. There's no bitter chocolate taste to these or any butter, so they're great to make for kids. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Cupcake Mix: (Makes 24 cupcakes)
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firm brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (160C) and line your muffin tins with cupcake cases. I had to use three muffin tins which hold 6 cupcakes, but you can just do a second batch in the oven if you need to.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk in both the granulated and the brown sugar until evenly combined. If you still have a few lumps of brown sugar, I just used a spoon and flattened the mix until they were gone. 

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and vanilla. Then whisk the sour cream and oil. Make sure your sour cream dissolves and there are no lumps.

Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and add the wet mixture. Stir until combined and there are no dry streaks of flour. Be careful to not over-mix it!

Pour the mixture into your prepared cases until they are 2/3 full. I used a 1/4 measuring cup which got a pretty perfect amount into each. 

Bake for 18-20 minutes until your knife or a wooden prick come out clean. 

Leave to cool on a wire rack (and try not to eat them all straight away! ; ) )

I made these on a rainy Sunday morning, but didn't end up icing them until the next day. I had a few errands to do, and the lighting was so poor in our kitchen. The only problem with this was that by the time I got up my brother and Dad had eaten over half of them, so I was only left with about 7 to ice! Remind me to hide them next time.

Once your cupcakes have cooled completely, you need to make a batch of buttercream frosting that comes out nice and thick. Here's a recipe similar to the one I used, which tastes heavenly. Rosanna just uses store-bought frosting, but home-made always tastes so much better to me. Separate into four bowls and add blue, black, pink, and purple coloring into one of each. Remember to add just a little at a time.

Spoon into four separate icing bags (I just used sandwich bags) and cut one corner off. Set up a separate, larger bag with your frosting tip in a tall container.

Here's the trickiest part: Pipe a line of each of the frosting into your larger bag. Try and use a quarter of the bag for each color. I used a bread knife to flatten some of my frosting out to stop it from mixing with the others. It doesn't have to be perfect, mine certainly wasn't but the colors still came out great. I'm really sorry I forgot to take a picture until afterwards! Also, make sure you have a nozzle that is quite big to make sure the colors can come out evenly. 

You'll want to test your icing bag on one cupcake first (or just on a plate) to get it to the point where the different colors start to come together. Ice it in a spiral, going from the outside to the center. It's easiest to hole the bag at the top, to stop the icing from coming out and you having to squeeze the icing down, which might accidentally mix the colors. 

Add your decorations on top and you're done! I used some silver balls and edible blue crystals since I couldn't find any stars. 

I am so happy with how these turned out! Cupcakes are always easy to make, and it's fun to change up the decorating every once in a while. I thought the icing might have been worse, but if it's thick enough you really can't go wrong. 

Make sure to check out Ro's cookbook for more nerdy treats! I am in love with it and it's been amazing for helping me boost my baking confidence. 

What do you like to bake? 
Steph x.