Competition | Win Free Tickets to the Grand Designs Live Show, CLC World Resorts

22 Apr 2017

I may, or may not, have neglected my blog a bit recently and I apologise. I have struggled to juggle my full time job, living my life and writing a blog. Anyway, more on that another time!

To make up for the lack of posts, I have a little competition for you guys! I have partnered up with CLC Media to give one lucky reader two tickets to the Grand Designs Live show at The ExCel, London. Showing from the 29th April to the 7th May, Grand Designs Live offers interior inspiration from Grand Room sets, interactive cookery demonstrations and much, much more. So if you are looking to spruce up your home, this may be the one for you!

How to enter

If you would like the chance to win two tickets to Grand Designs Live, all you need to do is let me know what you look forward to seeing the most at the show! Please enter via the raffle copter below so I am able to contact you after the competition has closed.

The competition will close midnight on the Wednesday 26th April. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Competition details form part of these terms and conditions.
• Entry is open to residents of the UK except employees (and their families) of CLC World, its printers and agents, the suppliers of the prizes and any other companies associated with the competitions.
• The entrant(s) must be aged 18 or over. Proof of identity and age may be required.
• Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification.
• The competition opens at 12am and ends at Midnight on the 26th April. Entries that are incomplete, illegible, indecipherable, duplicated or which contain profanity will not be valid and deemed void.
• To enter, applicants must leave a comment for a chance of winning
• All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition.
• No responsibility can be accepted for entries lost, due to computer error in transit.
• The prizes are as stated and comprises of two tickets for Grand Designs Live (valid between the 29th April – 7th May) to be awarded to one winner. The prize is not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.
• Prizes are subject to availability and the prize suppliers' terms and conditions.
• Prizes will be posted to the winner within 48 hours of them providing their postage details.
• The winner will be announced by Rafflecopter on the 27th April.
• Entrants must be prepared to be able to organise their own travel to Grand Designs Live on a date between the 29th April – 7th May , in the case that they are selected to win the competition.
• The promoters reserve the right to amend or alter the terms of competitions at any time and reject entries from entrants not entering into the spirit of the competition.
• In the event of a prize being unavailable, the promoter reserves the right to offer an alternative prize of equal or greater value.
• The winner(s) agree(s) to the use of their name, photograph and disclosure of county of residence and will co-operate with any other reasonable requests by Carissa May and/or CLC World, relating to any post-winning publicity.
• Unless stated otherwise the winner(s) will be drawn at random from all correct entries received by the closing date stated within the promotional material.
• Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner(s). If the winner(s) cannot be reached within 24 hours of being notified of their win, or they are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant drawn at random, or in the event that the promotion is being judged, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the runner(s)-up selected by the same judges.
• Confirmation of the prize will be made in writing/via online correspondence to the winner(s).
• Failure to respond and/or provide an address for delivery, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize.
• Where applicable, the decision of the judges is final based on the criteria set out in the promotion and no correspondence will be entered over this decision.
• Competitions may be modified or withdrawn at any time.
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The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year by Sue Townsend

15 Feb 2017

Last year I set myself a new year’s resolutions of reading 18 books in 2016, yet I read a grand total of 8 books. I love to read, yet I barely have do not make the time. Therefore this year I have set myself a more realistic target of 12 books, one a month. My book of choice for January was The Woman who went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend. I picked this up without any idea what the book was about, but because it was by Sue Townsend, bestselling author of Adrian Mole, I had high expectations.

The Woman who went to Bed for a Year is a story about 50 year old Ava who has decided to retire to bed for a year. Her twin children have just left for University, Brian, her husband, has been having an affair for years and she has just had enough. The book started off well, I was intrigued to find out how she would spend her time in bed, there was a story line developing about the twins University life and Brian was openly spending time with his lover. Unfortunately the stories failed to develop momentum and so I was never really gripped.

When in bed, Ava had all the time in the world, yet she wallowed and did nothing. She gave up on her relationship with her husband, did not care that her mother in law was slowly dying, nor did she devise a way to fend for herself in bed - she fully relied on her family members. She was not a particularly likeable person, but then again neither were any of the other characters. The further I got into the book, the less interested I was. I kept holding out for some kind of plot twist, or for Ava to finally get out of bed. But there was nothing. Most of the characters in this book are very selfish and only care for their own wellbeing.

The ending is no better. It just stops. I was left feeling unsatisfied as there were so many unanswered questions. Looking back, the storyline is actually quite sad. Ava went to bed, yet the world still continued. Her family gave up on her; they did not try and help or support her despite the fact she was clearly struggling with some issues.

Have you read this book? What did you think?
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A Round-Up of 2016

12 Feb 2017

2016 started a little different to most years. We spent our NYE at a Mexican restaurant, where we made a list of our 2016 new years resolutions, tied the list to a balloon and let it go at midnight. Number one on my list was to travel the world more - tick, number two was to read 18 books in 2016 - this was a fail.

Overall, 2016 was a year full of many happy memories. I went to my first Secret Cinema, which was amazing, I saw one of my close friends get married, one of my close friends have a baby, I travelled to some very beautiful places and much much more. In terms of blogging, it started off well, however towards the end of the year I neglected my blog. I then decided it was time for a bit of a re branding and spent some time relaunching my new blog.

2016 in numbers

4: New countries visited.
6: Countries visited.
15: Flights taken.
17: Hotels stayed in.
41: Times I blogged.
134: Photos Instragrammed.

Highlights of 2016

- Gaining my Open Water PADI certification in Indonesia
- Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
- Hiring a cottage in the Peak district with friends 
- Watching the ATP World Tour Finals
- Attending Kellerman's Holiday Resort (Secret Cinema)

2016 Blogging Achievements

Sadly I did not work very hard on my blog in 2016 so this section is very small, however there are some aspects that I did work on that have worked out for the better.
- I finally decided to take the plunge and re brand my blog
- I hit 400 posts on my blog
- I invested more time in my Instagram account and it has finally paid off

Top 10 Blog posts in 2016

1. Olivia Burton Rose Gold Watch with Interchangeable Strap
2. Should we be using Aluminium in our Deodorant?
3. How I keep my Makeup Brushes Clean
4. The New Pixi by Petra AW16 Collection
5. 6 Blogs I loved in 2015
6. The Perfect Travel Accessories from Aspinal of London
7. My Invisalign Journey: Update - Tray 13 of 23
8. Book Review | How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff
9. Ted Baker Sweet Treats Perfume - Grace and Olivia
10. How and why you should be Double Cleansing

Thank you for all your support throughout the year and I look forward to what 2017 has to offer!
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My Winter Skincare Essentials

8 Feb 2017

Firstly, I must apologise. I relaunched this blog with the intention of blogging twice a week and yet, in January, I blogged a grand total of twice. I spent quite a bit of January travelling and therefore my blog was put on hold. Now I am back home and ready to focus on my blog!

Throughout the year I am constantly changing the products I use, and in the winter months my skin can really suffer. The long cold days can really take a toll on your skin and therefore it is important to use products that help to keep your skin hydrated.

It is very easy to forget about protecting your hands throughout the year, but I find it particularly important during the winter. Your hands are constantly exposed to the cold and the wind, and can become dry and chapped very quickly. They also age the quickest, therefore a hand cream is a must. I try and apply hand cream every day, after washing my hands and morning and night as a routine. My favourite at the moment is the Janjira Hand Cream £14 (currently half price!), which is enriched with Almond Oil and Shea Butter and is therefore very hydrating. It also has bergamot oil, ginger oil and lime oil, creating a beautifully fresh scent. It sinks in straight away and leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft.

Another handbag essential is lip balm. I suffer from sore lips year round, however in the summer months I use an SPF lip balm whereas in the winter months I use the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream £27. If you have yet to try this, you must. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the scent, however it doesn't take long to get used to. It is perfect to apply before bed, and is the only lip balm that helps to soothe my sore lips. It is also multifunctional - I quite often apply this to my cuticles whilst on the train to work!

Next, is a serum. My skin suffers the most in winter, so a concentrate is a great addition to my skincare routine. The Odylique Superfruit Concentrate £33 is an organic facial oil that contains rose hip oil, sea buckthorn and pomegranate. As you can see from the picture, the concentrate is orange, and it does in fact apply to your skin orange. As I use this in the evening I do not find this to be a problem, and once it sinks in there is very little residue left. The concentrate helps to boost moisture, renew cells and collagen, and most importantly keep your skin looking radiant - a must in winter!

Like most, I tend to neglect my body in the winter. My legs are rarely on show, same as my arms, and therefore I make less of an effort to keep them looking great - lazy, I know. I do however, ensure that I apply moisturiser after every bath or shower. It is good to use a rich moisturiser that will keep your skin hydrated for longer. The Body Shop Shea Body Butter £6 is my favourite, although thick it sinks in nicely and has the most gorgeous scent. If you have not tried the Body Shop body butters then you are missing out!

Lastly, I like to switch up my eye cream. My go to winter eye cream is the Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment £22.50, which I have actually just run out of!! This rich hydrating eye cream transforms into an oil like consistency when applied, and works to restore the natural moisture of the skin. I have really noticed a difference in the application of makeup when using this, my concealer seems to last much longer. You can read my full review here.

What are you winter saviours?

Please note this post contains PR samples, but as usual these are my honest opinions.

What I got for Christmas | The Book Edition

4 Jan 2017

Last year I set myself a target of reading 18 books over the year. I failed. Miserably. This year I have set myself a more realistic target of 12 books. I have a whole book case full of books that I haven't read, however I love receiving books as gifts, especially ones that have been recommended. This year I received a variety of books from different people, some which will count towards my 12 books once read, others that are more for fun.

When I am not travelling, I love to travel vicariously through others. So what better than a Bill Bryson book - the king of travel. Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, as you may have guessed is all about the driest, flattest, hottest inhabited continent, Australia. I have yet to read a Bill Bryson book so I look forward to tucking into this one and wanderlusting over Australia. 

I also received The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman from my Secret Santa. The book is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who face a moral dilemma when a boat washes ashore holding a dead man and a crying baby. Having struggled to conceive after many attempts, they decide to keep the baby and live with the consequences. It sounds like a real tear jerker, so I will save this for when I have a bit of time at home.

From my parents I received If it Fits, I Sits - Cats in Awkward Places as they know how much I love cats. This includes some very cute pictures of cats getting into the most troublesome situations. This is a nice book to pick up when you need a little pick me up as you can't help but smile. 

Lastly, I received Lonely Planets Best Ever Photography Tips. This little book includes 55 tips to help improve your photography, including 10 golden rules of travel photography. If you know your stuff then this isn't for you, but is great for beginners like me. I love that the book is small enough to carry with you when travelling, and will come in handy when trying to get that perfect shot!

I also received an Amazon Gift Voucher, which I am looking to buy a few more books, so please let me know your book recommendations!

What books did you receive for Christmas?

New Beginnings

1 Jan 2017

Five years ago I launched Vanilla Crush, a blog about all things beauty. Whilst I still love writing about beauty, in those five years a lot has changed. I have moved out of my family home, my Wanderlust is stronger than ever, and most obviously - I am five years older. I now spend my days researching new travel destinations, hunting down the perfect coffee table and spending most of my money on candles.

To be frank, I have out grown Vanilla Crush. I had been contemplating a name change for a while now, but it never quite felt right. Having taken some time out from blogging, I feel it is now the perfect time for a new beginning. So, this is the launch of Carissa May.

Carissa May will still include posts about my favourite beauty products and all things beauty related, however the focus will no longer just be beauty, but travel and lifestyle too. I do hope you like the new blog and I look forward to writing about some new topics.

I would love to hear from you if you have been with me since the beginning!
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