My colours run for you

It is crazy how January just disappears before we even know it. Today was 'one of those days' for me, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. After being financially and emotionally challenged all bloody day I have retired to bed feeling a bit exhausted and sorry for myself. I am truly and utterly defeated! So in a bid for some sweet dreams and a better day tomorrow I thought it was a good time to remind myself of some nice moments and nice people I've had making me smile this month. Above is a little montage of me on a lazy sunday I had hanging with Ashley. This girl takes the most amazing photographs. But I told her she'll have to get me good and drunk before I let go of my sheepish smile. Ashley has got me shooting on raw and totally manual settings on my SLR. I'll get the hang of it eventually but she has the patience of a saint and promises me practice makes perfect.

Surrounding myself with creative people really gets my inspiration flowing when I feel a bit deflated. As well as Ashley, another super talented person (who I will boast that I also happen to be related to) who I have been in awe of this month is Greig. I went to see his band Skippy Dyes play at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut at the start of the January. I do not have a musical bone in my body, but Greig is an absolute master of the guitar. It is absolutely awesome to watch. Plus he plays the sort of music that I love listening too. The lyrics from this post title are from one of his songs. He actually has such a disgustingly beautiful collection of guitars, that if you saw them you'd never feel guilty for being a shoe or handbag addict for the rest of your life. Turns out boys can be JUST as bad!

I spent a very bright and early saturday morning at the Scottish Ballet HQ in Glasgow, watching some rehearsals for the Nutcracker (which I saw in December) ahead of their tour. Seeing the dancers up close and personal without the big fancy show costumes on showed off their strength and technical skills even more. It was so impressive, and really interesting afterwards when we got to have a q&a session with two of their principal dancers, Sophie Martin and Tama Barry. The passion and commitment they have towards their career is absolutely admirable. They pretty much dedicate their whole life to dancing. So between a photographer, musicians and dancers, I've had quite a few sources so far this year to boost my inspiration levels. I will never be as nimble or toned as one of these amazing dancers, but it did give me a wee kick up the behind to get a plan together addressing my own fitness this year. Groupon kindly gifted me with a £30 voucher and I had been keeping my eye out for something exercise related.

I like Groupon because it always gets your juices flowing with ideas that are a little bit different, or that you wouldn't normally stumble across. I saw some great national deals regarding boot camps (not as scary as it sounds, promise) and it was only a matter of time before a Glasgow based one popped up in my daily deals email.

I feel like the gym bores me and that I have done every available fitness class under the sun, so I was keen to try out these 30 minute long, intense indoor work out sessions. The deal for Fit Body Boot Camp was £27 for 4 weeks. *The only negative thing I would say is that in my excitement I gathered that this would be 4 weeks worth of bootcamp classes, but realistically you are getting 4 classes for this price, and to see any results you really want to be doing at least 3 classes a week. So once I had booked I felt like they were going to be over by the time I started properly getting into it. To be fair though, the discounted price is perfect to give you a taster. I used two of the classes last week, and I'll be using my final two this week. I was hooked after class one...

*EDIT - My apologies for giving the wrong information above - I found out tonight that my 4 weeks contain UNLIMITED classes! Result :)

After my first session I was SO sore. Could barely walk the next day! Means something must have started working though, right? The trainer Claire who has worked with us so far is amazing. She did my nutritional evaluation with me beforehand too, setting out my goals and different meal plans I should try to work from. It really is as simple as getting the right balance, and everything in moderation.

I have never been given this level of support and advice from any fitness classes or gym I've been to before. Always just a sort of 'here you are, here's how to use this one and that one, now on you go and get on with it!) The owner Riccardo provides you with a range of really helpful documentation to reference to alongside your classes. I am certainly going to continue with the boot camp once my final classes have run out. It will work out a little bit more than what I would be paying for the gym every month - but the personal approach and constant positive motivation Riccardo and his staff give you is something that you can't put a price on. He has a lot of inspirational success stories on the website, and encourages everyone to take a before and after picture. Soooo, there is my before! I am currently 9 stone 11lbs and would love to be 9 stone by my 24th birthday in June. I am fed up of crash diets and stupid fads. I want to take a positive approach and healthy change to my lifestyle as a whole. Eating well, exercising well, and still enjoying an odd afternoon tea at the weekend. I will keep you updated with my progress the further I go on, and finally I have to thank Groupon again for its eternal eclectic-ness, and landing me on such a little hidden gem that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. How do you go about boosting the inspiration/motivation levels in your life?

Ayden x

Will you get old fashioned with me?

“I do not care what car you drive. Where you live. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If your clothes are this years cutting edge. If your trust fund is unlimited. If you are A-list B-list or never heard of you list. I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you truly own. The only thing I will remember you by. I will not fall in love with your bones and skin. I will not fall in love with the places you have been. I will not fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from your extraordinary mind.”- Andre Jordan

I feel like I knew everywhere and nowhere to start when I began writing this post. This is my competition entry for something pretty spectacular being held by Haagen Dazs, to win a weekend in Paris for you and your other half by submitting an image (or series of images) that you feel represent 'Love' or 'Romance'. The meaning of both of those words have changed considerably for me in my transition from a teenager into a young woman, and even more so in the last 2 years of my life.
These years have seen me at my very lowest and darkest point regarding love and relationships (and also my emotional/mental health and relationship with myself) all the way through to the highest of highs. The epitome of happiness and being comfortable in your own skin. Loving and trusting yourself fully before you can choose to do the same to others. The photograph above is me emmersed in that very moment which I am trying to describe. It was taken just after midnight on new years eve, at Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik.

Yes there are bokeh lovehearts and myself and John kissing, at night in the cold winter air which automatically seems like an obvious picture to choose. But I started off with so many more in this post, and ended up editing and deleting them down until only this one remained. I take a silly amount of pictures and feel blessed to look back on a photographic timeline where I can pick out some really heart warming (and tear jerking) moments from our relationship so far. Beautiful moments like John holding my best friends baby in the hospital and stuck in a trance like gaze. It welled me up because I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful a father John is going to be one day. Funny moments where friends have caught us together on camera on a night out laughing at each other insanely, and being big geeks completely unaware that anyone else is watching. These photos never fail to crack me up, but warm my heart at the same time because I have never laughed so much in my whole life (including AT myself) as I have until I met John. 

Then there is the moment that I experienced in the picture above. I made the start of our relationship so hard for John. I had serious trust issues after a bad experience in my last relationship that combined with other things, drove me to having an absolute physical and emotional breakdown. I have been building my life back together, brick by brick since that dark time those years ago. And I was still a little stand off-ish and full of negativity and doubt when I met John. But his love, patience, and honest approach to life has helped me become the woman I've always known I could be deep down. I have never been more myself than what I am in this very moment. Our new years eve in Iceland was our first holiday together, and just a few days after our year anniversary. There was a real magic in the air as we sealed the welcome of 2013 with a kiss.

So, all of the above is the reason why I will hold this picture so close to my heart for as long as I live. It depicts a turning point for me where I realised I had shed such a skin and really let go of any emotional baggage that was ever stopping me from being the open and loving person that my soulmate deserves. Love and romance are flowing through my veins like never before, and I really do feel alive ♥

Ayden x

Rainy day song

A really special parcel arrived by courier this week, and it wasn't for me - it was addressed to Dexter (he did need a little bit of help opening it though)

My lovely Ragdoll kitty won a competition not so long ago called Pets Win Praises, where he impressed the judges at Money Supermarket with a video of his favourite game - fetch! Above is his prize hamper full of goodies, which I cannot thank Rach and Louise enough for putting together for Dexter. He is a very lucky boy. Big hugs and thank you from us both ♥

I have mentioned in the past how much Dexter loves Dreamies, and amongst the treats and toys and plush new cat bed, the hamper contained 30 packs of them so that's easily over a years supply! Here he is enjoying some Dreamies and cat milk in his awesome new bowl :)

I laid everything out on the bed and Dexter started wandering between it all, as if saying 'this is my haul?!', having a right good sniff and choosing what he wanted to play with first. I am still not going to go overboard in the amount of treats I give him, and recently have been using them as a sort of teaching tool so I don't want him to start taking them for granted. After the success of fetch, I've managed to teach him recently how to sit nice, and give me a paw. I know he isn't a dog - but he absolutely loves it. As an indoor cat he doesn't get to go out and explore the world as most cats do, so essentially my house is his wee kingdom and I want to make sure he gets as much excersize and stimulation as possible. Maybe that's why he's picked up these tricks so quickly, he's just a total sponge for information (or maybe he just REALLY loves Dreamies...)

I'm certainly a cat person and not normally a huge fan of dogs but Ashley's pup Indie, and Claire's wee lady Lola are definitely swaying me. My favourite advert on tv just now is the new one from Pet Plan (and it actually includes a rather fluffy and gorgeous looking Ragdoll cat) In their past 36 years they have helped more pets through accident and illness than any other pet insurer in the UK. Since I work in film and tv I thought it would be fun to share this behind the scenes video of the advert being filmed, with super talented Steve the Jack Russell!

I have just finished a week of filming down at BBC Dumbarton on a project with the Musical Theatre and Digital Film & TV students from my old uni. They get the use of River City while the cast and crew are still on holiday for the winter, and I got brought in as the art department. It was great fun, but so cold filming outside and I feel like I could hibernate now for the rest of january.

I have some time off now so looking forward to some nice plans my diary has lined up for me. I wish I could just relax and laze about when I have a free day, but I always end up giving myself the biggest to do list. Certainly my own worst enemy at times.

I have started off the year feeling refreshed and inspired, and there are so many films I want to see and new music suggestions I want to fill my ears with. I also feel excited about writing again, and I must admit that blogging isn't the easiest thing to do when your heart just isn't in it or you've had a shit day. I've been offered some very kind opportunities with different companies and PR folks over the past year or so, which I am so grateful for, and it is madness because I started this blog as a diary and wasn't even aware of the presence that bloggers have and their relationships with other businesses. All in all, I don't have a bloody clue what I am doing as a 'lifestyle blog' - but I know what I am doing as ME. And that is what I am going to continue to do.

One very important person in my life who has helped me feel comfortable in my own skin and excited about life is John. With Valentines Day next month I was hoping to do my next post as a competition entry to win us something a little bit special in February. John would enjoy a cosy candle lit dinner, some stylish Armani Underwear and loveheart shaped chocolates as much as any other fella would. But you know me, my nature doesn't tend to let to do things in halves (own worst enemy with the list that is never ending, remember?)

Ayden x

January Sales Secrets Challenge

I returned from Iceland with a little bit of spending money left, so I exchanged it back to pounds and decided to head out and see what was left of the January sales. I wasn't getting my hopes up as I knew that most of the real gems would probably be long gone. Which is absolutely crazy considering I only got back on the 3rd! But so many shops start their sales on Christmas eve now - never mind Boxing Day, and certainly not even waiting until January! Some shops will open at 7am, which seems like a trip for the most hardcore bargain hunter, especially since you can do your sales shopping online now from the comfort of your pj's.  

Most Wanted, which is the lifestyle magazine from, got in touch to see if I fancied hitting the sales with a budget of £80 and seeing what bargains I could find. Challenge accepted!


Tshirt, £7 reduced from £14 @ Topshop

Skirt, £10 reduced from £20 @ Topshop
Shoes, £20 reduced from £50 @ Office

Jacket, £25 reduced from £48 @ Topshop
Bow headband, £2.50 reduced from £6.50 @ Topshop

Necklace (actually a headband) £1.50 reduced from £5.00 @ Miss Selfridge

So for a t-shirt, skirt, shoes, jacket, necklace & headband...

 Outfit total= £66
(Actual outfit worth = £143.50)

I am really happy with my finds and for the price I got them. Would I have spent the original price on these items? Some yes, but some probably no. I like them all, but I don't think enough to pay another 50%+ of the money total. That's quite a chunk!

Personally, I am still undecided on whether I prefer exploring the sales online or in person on the high street. Of all my items above, the t-shirt, skirt and jacket were bought online, and the rest was bought in store.

Shopping online pro: Often a bigger selection of items and sizes, able to browse quicker and cover more shops than you would on foot, online sales tend to go live before they do in store.

Shopping online con: The BIGGEST bug for me is sizing. I will never buy something from a shop without trying on a few different sizes first, so why would doing it online make me feel any different. As the 'popular' sizes sell out fast come the sales, you may end up choosing something in a slightly bigger or slightly smaller size just for the sake of a good deal. Which sometimes can work out for the best (the drastic jump in size from different high street shops is horrendous at the best of times) but sometimes, not so great. I was happy with the fit of my jacket (10) and tshirt (12) but the skirt (12) fit around my thighs and is quite baggy at my stomach and waist as I have been loosing a wee bit of weight recently. If I had tried this on in store I wouldn't have taken it. But since it was online and there are no other sizes left, I've just kept it because it is 'here now anyway'.

Shopping in store pro: Tends to limit a lot of the above regarding sizing, and I think it's actually easier to keep a track of your budget and basket as you are not spending so easily with just a click. A trip to the changing rooms is like an X Factor elimination session for me. I see what I've picked up in a much clearer light and can be quick to ditch as soon as I have realised that style or that size does not do anything for me. Half the things that reach the checkout on my online shop are likely to have been ditched from the basket that is physically weighing my arm down in the shop.

Shopping in store con: Sometimes with a busy shop and packed changing room you can still get harassed enough to make quick decisions without really thinking. I picked my necklace up thinking it was just that, and only realised when I went to wear it that it was actually a headband. The big elastic strap at the back and sticker that said 'headband' on the tag should have given it away. But this was hidden in plain view for me because it was only £1.50.

♥ ♥ ♥

I think there are so many more reasons for and against both, and everyone will have their own opinion and what they like and don't, so I think you just need to do what works for you personally. As a female I want shopping to be fun and not a big silly stress! I'm much more savvy with my spending and my clothing needs these days and I want it to stay that way. Whether I was to hit the January sales online or on the high street, I'd initially write a wee mental list of any specific things I'm looking for and my budget for the day. But it's always that typical thing of when you go out on the hunt for something and actually wanting to spend money, you never see anything! I tend to want all the things in the world when I have no money to spend and no real need for anything.

Main pro: I think grabbing a bargain in the sales provides you with the perfect chance to perhaps broaden your horizon a bit and go out of your usual comfort zone, by trying pieces or styles that you wouldn't normally go for. 

Main con: I think it also sends some peoples sensibility out the window, and we end up in a crazed frenzy buying things we don't need, that don't fit, or that we will end up not actually wearing.

With my £14 change, I could have forced a final spend on a Cath Kidston purse I've had my eye on in the sale which is £20. I like it, but I REALLY like a current non sale one in stock, which is £26. To stay closer to your budget, would you take advantage of the one that you're getting a bargain on, or would you pay that little extra to buy the one you actually prefer?

Enough talking from me! Look at this lovely picture the very talented Neil Slorance did of me, John and Dexter for our anniversary :) I wanted to share the digital copy on here, and John has the original  framed in his room. I'll also be sharing a bit more of an insight into my relationship over the next 28 days, as tomorrow I embark upon an 'alterna-valentines' project called Tokens Of Affection. Using the hashtag on instagram and twitter #tokensofaffection I will be documenting the everyday things that make my relationship special and glue me and John together. And before you feel all sicky and romantic and vomit everywhere - I don't live with John and don't see him every day, so I'll be breaking our pictures with any other little displays of lovelyness going on in my life from other people too. So check out the main blog post at Ask Her Friends, and I hope you enjoy following the eclectic range of people taking part.

Ayden x

Vans love

Over the past few years I've noticed through regular wardrobe clear outs and ebay sales (then trips to repurchase items for empty space in wardrobe after said clear outs and ebay sales) that one main brand have always stood the test of time and my ruthlessness. I think I'm really just a big softie for the trainers I have been wearing since my teens. Vans...

Vans were set up in the mid 60's in California, and especially popular with skateboarders. Nowadays there is a bit of a One Direction inspired craze going on around Vans and Converse and I have seen so many teens wearing them again! But it's nice they've had a comeback, as the popularity boost means they are available in many different shops now with even a wider range of styles and colours. At the moment I have 4 pairs - Grey, Black, Acid Denim and Leopard Print. They have seen me through a multitude of situations:

A long days work in the film & tv industry - always comfy when I'm on my feet for hours (if Vans did a steel toe cap version I could safely wear them in the studio and in workshops too)

Running away super fast from Zombies across Glasgow (and surviving, by the way!)

Photoshoots with friends, for the lovely Kyle Gray in the middle and his t-shirt range (because black vans literally go with anything)

Roadtrips and adventures to Alton Towers with the girls (you won't see these shoes falling off my feet on a rollercoaster)

And finally I don't have a picture of me wearing my animal print ones - but here they are in all their glory. Apart from my doc martens and warm winter boots, I couldn't resist taking a pair in my suitcase to Iceland just in case. They actually weren't too bad with some thermal insoles but I only really wore them travelling.

As I mentioned earlier, they are available in so many different colours now - and when I saw they had collaborated with my second favourite feline Hello Kitty (Dexter is first, remember) I bought myself one of the backpacks from the new range:

Pretty awesome, right? My best buy of 2012 by far. But with a new year comes a new wishlist, and the following Vans from Bank Clothing.

1. Vans Cedar Apple - £40
2. Vans Ferris Hello Kitty - £45
3. Vans Tory Fleece - £45
4. Vans Quinn - £50 
(The final ones are for John, think he would look lovely in them!)

Do you have a particular brand or store that reminds you of your youth, and that you always end up going back to for quality and reliability? Not just for clothing, I mean accessories or even makeup too. I'd love to hear your stories (both good and bad)

Ayden x

The little blog of Reykjavik

Well HEY there first post of 2013 :) I got back from my holiday a few days ago and have been slowly unpacking, tidying the flat, squeezing Dexter within an inch of his life and finally spending Christmas vouchers in the sales. Had an absolutely amazing time away, Iceland really is something else.

Without stating the absolute obvious, it was pretty chilly! Normally just below freezing point with only 4-5 hours of sunlight a day at this time of year. Was lovely getting all cosy and wrapped up though.

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik. We gathered outside here on New Years Eve with hundreds of other people (lets just say the Icelandic people LOVE their fireworks, it was absolutely insane)

The Harbour. We stayed at Reykjavik Downtown Hostel which was just a few minutes walk from here.

The nightlife was brilliant, always buzzing but with such a cool, safe vibe to it. We drank white russians and listened to the retro juke box in Lebowski's a couple of nights. Also ended up bumping into Jonsi from Sigur Ros in a bar called B5! He was super friendly and posed for a picture. Very surreal :)

There is some really amazing street art all over the city. This was one of my favourites!

Would you believe that one of the most visited places to eat in Iceland is a hotdog stand? We went to see what all the fuss was about and we weren't disappointed. Also, we weren't total grubbers and had 2 hotdogs each... the extra in this picture belong to John's final surprise, Andrew and Olivia! :) They came to Iceland too and John didn't know until we were in the check in queue at the airport. He looked like he was going to faint when he turned around and saw them. I bloody felt like collapsing too as all the secrets and sneaking around was finally over ♥

Back to the very important hotdogs - here is John with his. Well chuffed!

Yay :) The lovely Olivia and Andy as I mentioned before. They were the most awesome company and we had an absolute ball together. Even when we were all so hungover on New Years Day that we just lay in bed eating crappy food and watching films. The picture above is in the Laundromat Cafe where we had breakfast and lunch on a couple of occasions.

Although food and drink in Iceland is kinda expensive, it was of a consistently high standard no matter where we went. The above was the dinner I had on our very last night, a Fish Gourmet at Grillmarkadurinn. Salted cod, salmon and monkfish. Out. Of. This. World.

The Icelandic didn't seem too crazy on their chocolate and cake, and the deserts menu was often small but always lovely. Chocolate brownie with strawberry salsa and caramelized lollypop. Again from Grillmarkadurinn. The interior design of the restaurant was beautiful and so atmospheric, with inspiration from volcanoes and other natural elements.

We had our New Years Eve dinner at The Steak House down by the harbour. My steak was almost jumping off the plate as I asked for it to be medium-rare, but it was a lot more pink than what I am used to in Scotland. Slightly out my comfort zone but still tasty though (hey hey to that large wine glass that may have helped to sway me)

Apart from awesome food, architecture and street art - I was also in awe of the cute and quirky shops in the city, especially the antique ones I stumbled across. I don't know what the film and tv industry is like in Iceland, but if I worked here I know I would have plenty of places to go and source retro props and furniture.

We also ventured a little further outside the city. Here we are at the Blue Lagoon, which is a geothermal spa with water temperatures that average 37–39 °C. This is a pretty strange feeling when the temperature outside is so cold, but it was absolutely fantastic.

I'd certainly tell people not to leave Iceland without experiencing this first! (p.s we are definitely not naked here)

We also went on a tour of the Golden Circle, which included seeing the active Geysir and Strokkur at Haukadalur Valley. Boom! The above is Strokkur, and errupts up to 30 metres every 5 minutes or so.

Crazy how a flat, bubbling pools can burst to such heights in a matter of seconds.

Gulfoss Waterfall

Thingvellir National Park

A very high ISO and slow shutter speed on a tripod, capturing what is actually the night sky. We stood in the pitch black for hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights but unfortunately they didn't appear. The weather conditions weren't right any other evening of the whole week we were there, so we didn't get to go hunting for them again. But maybe next time!

A final few favourites from Instagram (@hellorogue)

Me and my handsome boy.

An example of how cool and laid back the Icelandic people/businesses are :)

My typical day to day tourist attire. Hat, scarf and gloves (majorly necessary!) Doc Marten boots with thermal tights, Drop Dead Clothing parka, Brand Village satchel, and my Canon 1100D.

Olivia and I on New Years Eve! At night I normally changed over to my Motel fur coat (which was so cosy, but made me feel much more dressed up) I took some extra shoes including my Vans (always the holy grail) and Jeffery Campbell boots, but ended up not wearing either of them as the conditions were so cold and icy. But luckily my fur lined Doc's went with everything and kept my feet warm and dry even in the snow.

My new SLR did me very well for the trip, and I could have shared so many more from it but I think I have overloaded you all for now *You might have seen a few more if you follow me on twitter, flickr or tumblr) I made good use of my ipad too, as the Icelandic have wifi absolutely nailed. It was free and super fast absolutely everywhere! So although I didn't travel all that way to sit on facebook or instagram, it was really useful for googling locations and directions. Oh and face timing my friends and family when we were insanely drunk. All in all, a wonderful trip was had and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Iceland to anyone. I'd love to see more of the country one day, and perhaps in the summer where there are a lot of different things to do and more seasonal things to see. If you ever plan on visiting Reykjavik and want the names etc of places we visited then don't hesitate to drop me an email.

Well, that's one more place ticked off my bucket list. What's next up on yours?

Ayden x