It's Zora's 1st birthday!


Hey there peeps! It's been a while, huh? Life has been hectic with the move to the states so naturally, the blog has suffered. I'm back with cute puppy pics to make up for it though!My little pup Zora turns one today so In honour of that, I wanted to post a few photos of her from the last year as she grew into the gorgeous girl she is today.

Also, because I'm basically a crazy dog lady now, I had a doggie birthday party for her with some of our friends (both human and canine) that we've made here in Utah (Today I was literally that "no I can't come out cause it's my dog's birthday" meme). 

We had pupcakes (doggie cupcakes - recipe below) and partybags filled with treats for Zora's puppy pals; the 4 corgis - Clementine, Maddie, Lily and Benji plus a baby English Bulldog, Herb and his baby Yorkie sister, Fox. (Clearly it's time for me to channel this energy into a human baby)!

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Pupcakes recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup oats, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1 egg, 1 banana, 1 cup grated carrots, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup honey.
Mix wet and dry ingredents separately, then combine.  Fill cupcake sleeves and put in 350F/ 175C oven for 20 mins.
Then put some creamy peanut butter into an icing bag and ice the cupcakes. Top them off with a pretty dog treat and voila! They went down extremely well with our guests.

So let's start at the beginning; I first met Zora on a rainy day in March. I was just getting back from a 2 month long stay in the states and the day after I landed, I drove to Wales to meet her litter. When I got there, I had to make a very hard choice between Zora and her sister as they were the last girls left to find homes. When walking into a room full of adorable puppies, it's natural to feel like you could never choose just one but as soon as I sat on the floor, Zora came over to me, sat in my lap and gazed right into my eyes for the next few minutes (that photo above was taken in that moment). I knew then that I'd found an old soul in her and my decision was made for me. She still does the staring thing and although it's probably just a quirk of hers, I like to think they're loving gazes that she saves just for me.

Raising a puppy is a lot like having a newborn baby at first. I sacrificed about 6 months of lie ins and Zora still gets me up much earlier than I did before she came. Looking back, I realise that she was quite a handful and it took a good few months for us to get to know each other but once we both settled into a routine and she learned the rules, she became a real joy to have.

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Puppy tip: It definitely helps to have a routine in place when you first bring a puppy home and being consistent with commands and praise is the most important thing. They learn SO quickly when you keep your training constant and uniform. I think if I'd been stricter about my consistency when Zora was younger, she would have gotten to the point we're at now a lot faster.

It's been a lifelong dream of mine to have a dog and I was so thrilled that the right time had finally come for it to happen last year. Having her with me during the move to America has made me especially grateful for her too, as it's like bringing a piece of home here with me and her company means I don't miss home as much as I might have without her love and cuddles. She's had a pretty exciting life so far, and there's a lot more adventures to come for us yet. Not bad for a little cocker spaniel from Wales!

Let me know if any of you try the pupcakes recipe for your dog. I don't know many people that are as dog crazy as me, but I know for sure I'm not the first person to have a birthday party for their puppy. No different from having a party for a 1 year old baby if you ask me - neither of them know what's going on really!

Oh and this post wouldn't be complete without a tribute to Zora's favourite sleeping position from day one...


Simple skincare for clearer skin.


I've had a strict skincare routine since I was about 12 years old. My mother is very big on taking care of her skin and body, so naturally when I reached puberty she sat me down, handed me an 'Oil of Olay' (now just Olay) toner & facial moisturiser and told me that I must cleanse, tone and moisturise my face every night.

She must have drilled it in hard because to this day, no matter how late it is, I can't go to sleep without doing just that.

The products I used have changed over the years and I'm always on the hunt for better skincare products (so if you have any recommendations, let me know!) however the routine has remained the same... Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise.

My skin is far from perfect but I can say that I don't often suffer from break outs, which I think has everything to do with my nightly skincare ritual. If you have sensitive skin like mine or are in the market for some new skincare products, here's what I'm currently using for each step of my routine...

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CLEANSE.

I stopped using normal face wash products many years ago as they dry my skin out terribly and sometimes I get rashes from them. They put so many nasty chemicals in skincare products I'm honestly not surprised, so I try to use natural products as much as possible. 

To cleanse I use two things, depending on what I happen to be doing in the evening before I remove my makeup...

I shower every evening, so if I have makeup on I'll use coconut oil to cleanse my face and remove makeup. This one from Cocan is great because it's 'Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed, Organic' coconut oil, which is the best kind to use as it hasn't been hydrogenated or processed to remove the nutrients.

You might think using oil directly on your face would cause clogged pores and spots but the oil cleansing method is actually a great way to combat acne. This is based on the theory that 'like attracts like', meaning that the oil will actually draw out the other oils in your skin.

I'm not sure if using oil to cleanse has necessarily made my skin clearer, but it is definitely a fantastic makeup remover. Whenever I use the oil, there is absolutely no makeup or grime left on my cotton pad when I tone afterwards. It also adds a nice bit of moisture to your skin after using, which I much prefer over the tight, dryness that is left after using soapy cleansing products.

If I'm away overnight or just need a quick way to cleanse, my go to is bog standard baby wipes. These are a handbag staple for me as they never fail to come in handy when you're out and about. They're also so much cheaper than wipes that are marketed as 'facial cleansing wipes' and do the job just as well.

I love these ones from Boots because of the recloseable packet, plus the fragrance free option is great for sensitive skin like mine. They're also always on offer for buy one get one free, which is good for the bargain hunters. I'm sad because the baby wipes you get in the US don't compare to these at all - my mum's going to have to send me them by the box when I move!

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TONE.

I've tested out quite a few toners over the years and I can say that I still haven't found the perfect one. I think I'm going to end up making my own from some of the recipes I've found on Pinterest but for now, Garnier Micellar Water is doing me quite well and I'll definitely be using it for the foreseeable future.

Micellar water is a bit of a fad (which has actually been around for over 100 years and has been very popular in France for ages) that's gaining in popularity worldwide at the moment. The 'micelles' are little drops of oil floating around in soft water which cling on to the makeup and dirt on your face, drawing out the impurities as you wipe (similar concept as the oil cleansing method). The idea is that you just use this to 'wash' your face, with no water rinsing and no moisturising afterwards, so this stuff is marketed as a cleansing product.

I personally don't like the concept of using just this to remove my makeup but I do think it works well as a toner after cleansing to do some last cleanup of any residue before putting on moisturiser (I couldn't go without a moisturiser either!). It can be hard to find gentle toners without alcohol or witch hazel etc (my skin doesn't like these at all) so this is a great option if you're looking for something mild and good for sensitive skin.

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MOISTURISE.

Another thing that my mum is very big on is sunscreen. She constantly lectures me about using an SPF facial moisturiser, so my conscience just isn't at peace unless I've put that on my face before leaving the house.

At the moment, my daytime moisturiser is Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30. I really like the dewy texture it gives to my skin and it works surprisingly well under makeup. (I have oily skin in my T-zone so I do have to be mindful of oily lotions). This one does leave a little bit too much residue meaning that my skin isn't very matte by the end of the day, so I'm still searching for the perfect light SPF for daytime use.

My night time moisturiser is Aveeno's Eczema Therapy cream. This isn't a traditional facial moisturiser but I find that it does work well on my face. It's a little heavier, so I'm careful not to use it around my eyes, however the thickness of it means my skin is super silky soft when I wake up in the morning. 

I don't have eczema on my face but as this is fragrance free, gentle and soothing, my sensitive skin really laps it up. (Shoutout to Ty for using this and passing it on). I would like to find some moisturisers with only natural ingredients so I'm on the lookout for something that fits the bill.

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REST.

As you can see, my product selection is constantly evolving as I'm on an eternal search for things that work better. I haven't included an eye cream in this list as I only started (trying to) use one this year and I haven't been very regular with it yet. (I've got to work on that!) Oh, that's another thing I'm in the market for - a great eye cream.

Sharing is caring, so help me on my search and let me know what your favourite skincare products are and what works for you in the comments!