12 Top Job Interview Tips

Job Interview Tips

Today I’m going to share with you my top interview tips, in the hope it’ll help to organise you, and help you feel ready to smash your next interview!

I’ve had many interviews across the years, from my first little job after uni (The White Company call centre!) through to my current role working in marketing for premium kitchen appliances company Fisher & Paykel.

I’ve been working in marketing for a good few years now, and I have changed jobs now and again to better myself. Whether that’s for more money (usually the reason) or to find a better working environment. Firstly, don’t worry if people are frowning upon your reason to leave your current role. Only YOU know how you feel in that job, and what you’re looking for.

As mentioned above, my usual reason for leaving jobs has been to better myself salary wise, as in many sectors it seems the only way to gain a suitable raise to be able to attain better mortgages, save more money for the future, pay increasing bills etc. At the end of the day we go to work to make money right? I have also left roles to do something I enjoy more, or simply because the company failed to pay me on time – not cool! This happened in two of the marketing roles I’ve had. Not great when it comes to having bills to pay…

So don’t ever let others tell you what to do with your career. Trust your gut instinct.

Research the company

An obvious one, but certainly important. Get obsessed with the company. What do they do? Have they implemented anything great recently that you could talk or ask about in the interview? It’s worth checking the news or blog sections of their website or even their social media accounts.

They’ll be pleased when you show the effort you’ve made to learn about them.

Be ready for various interview types

Interview types vary SO much. I’ve had really relaxed, informal styles – my favourite of course! Through to pretty formal ones with presentations to prepare and present, and ones with random tests. Even one where I had one room to go in with a presentation to present, and then I had to pop into a room next door to then be further interviewed by two more people. Interviews really do differ from company to company.

So when applying for roles, be ready and open to be interviewed in different ways each time. Just give it your best and take it in your stride as much as possible. I know, easier said than done sometimes, but all you can do is try your best.

Just be yourself

Have you gone through life so far without making a single mistake? I didn’t think so. We all make mistakes. We have all messed up somewhere along the lines.

So when it comes to job interviews, I try to get my head in the mindset of “this is me, this is what I know, take it or leave it”. Obviously I am always nervous to an extent in every interview, but I try to make myself remember that it’s genuinely not the end of the world if I’m not the right person they’re looking for.

All you can do is go in, be yourself, say what you can do, what you have experience of and what you’d like to get out of your next role. If it’s right for them, then great. If it’s not, no worries. It’s on to the next one…

Take examples

In marketing, I can easily take in examples of content I’ve written, or other marketing materials etc. that I have created over the years. Be sure to save down or write down examples from your current role now, even if you’re not actively job hunting, as they may help you in the future when you’re interviewed.

If you finished college or uni not that long ago, do you have pieces of work you’re proud of that you could take in?

I had an A3 folder filled with assignments I’d received good grades on, creative work I’d completed etc. – and I received praise from interviewers for simply bothering to bring this in, being told that no one else had bothered to do so, and therefore it made me stand out.

Think outside of your career

Are you a blogger? Or do you do any other exciting things outside of work where skills can transfer from that to the role you’re applying for?

Being a blogger has definitely helped me in my career. I’ve been able to show examples of successful write-ups and show why they have been successful. For example, I wrote for a local company in recent times and they were so pleased with my writing that they offered me the chance to run their social media for them. I declined, but I did bring up that success in my current job’s interview to prove the power of my writing.

Can you think of anything like this that you could draw into your next interview?

Dress the part

I don’t dress ever so formal when it comes to interviews, because I’m not the kind of girl to wear a power suit to work each day. Usually I’ll simply pop on a pretty, comfortable dress, tights or nice leggings, a smart but comfortable cardigan or soft blazer jacket and boots.

That’s my style, that’s what I feel comfortable and confident in, and therefore I can be myself.

It may differ from sector to sector and probably level of role too. It’s probably best to go on the smarter end of what you think is best for the job you’re going for, than to be underdressed and look scruffy!

Social Media

Depending on your area of work, you may find it useful to have a LinkedIn career profile.

Ensure it’s up to date and looks great as your potential employers will be likely to look this up, and first impressions do count! Whilst you’re looking for a new role, make your profile public – you can always make it private again once you’ve secured a new job.

What about your other social media accounts? How do they look publicly?

Quite often I see people using Facebook on the public setting, meaning that anyone can see everything they post. It might be worth checking to see how yours looks, what your privacy settings are set at in case you want to hide what you say and show from the entire outside world.

Alternatively, your social media might be a great way to show how fab you are! For example, if you’re a blogger, they may see all your beautiful images, the lovely content you write etc. Definitely give it some thought.

Prep for the standard questions

When have you gone above and beyond in your job? Or to help a customer?

What is your weakness? (You know, the one where you say your possible weakness but spin it to show the silver lining of it).

Can you think of a difficult hurdle in a previous role and how you overcame it? I’m sure there are articles out there if you search online that list the most commonly asked interview questions like these.

Think about those key times in your career so far where you’re really pleased with a result you achieved after implementing something, or difficult moments where you dealt with it smartly to get a good result etc.

Prepping for these questions will leave you feeling much calmer when they spring these types of questions on you. And hey, once you know your examples you’re set for every interview going forwards.

Any questions?

At the end of the interview they may ask you if you have any further questions. And one brilliant tip I picked up a few years ago was to ask them what their best moment has been at the company so far.

You might get an “ooh, that’s an interesting one” reply, but honestly, everyone loves talking about themselves and their experiences. We all do. So it’ll look great that you’ve turned the interview round to be about them and not just you.

It’s also a great way to find out more about the company and the people you will potentially be working with. I’ve asked it in every interview in recent times and I think it’s gone down really well!

Be prepared

Take a copy of your CV, and make sure you’ve read it through before the interview as you’re likely to be asked questions about each role and what you did in each one.

Take a notebook – maybe have a few questions written down inside it for when they ask if you have any questions. You can also make notes in the interview of anything you feel is key to note from what they tell you.

Be on time

I usually aim to go into the building about 5 minutes before. This will give you time to sign in at the premises if you need to and give the receptionist time to tell your interviewer that you have arrived.

This also allows them to start the interview on time, which I’m sure they will appreciate if they have a busy day of work, meetings and interviews.

Nail your communication skills

I’ve been told that I have good eye contact with people, which is a great way to show that you’re listening and wanting to take in what they say.

When answering the questions, aim to answer them in a descriptive way, but try not to waffle on too much. Be succinct.

Strive for a balance between listening, answering and engaging. It should have a conversation style flow, rather than answering questions quickly and shortly as if you’re on mastermind.

..lastly, good luck! I hope this has helped you to get prepped for your next interview. The main top number 1 tip is to simply be yourself. At the end of the day we spend so much of our time at work, it has to be right for both parties.

*Thank you to LOTD who gifted me this gorgeous bag, which is just perfect for work and everyday life! It’s really amazing for just £10, a true bargain that’s for sure. I’d definitely recommend checking out their website at www.lotd.com for really lovely fashion at really affordable prices.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog


Learning the art of Flower Arranging at Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

On the weekend, my mum and I were invited down to Marks and Spencer in Milton Keynes, to take part in a one-to-one flower arranging session at their newly revamped flower section, aptly named “The Flower Shop”.

Marks and Spencer is most definitely one of my favourite high street stores. I adore their cruelty free beauty and toiletries collections, and I spend a small fortune in there when it comes to Christmas presents each year. Of course their fashion is lovely too. If you spot me out and about in my pink coat, it was a Marks and Spencer Christmas Eve online sale bargain that I grabbed at 50% off!

When we arrived at the Milton Keynes store, we were greeted by a lovely lady called Emily, who is one of the flower arranging experts in store and she taught us all about how to arrange flowers and create a beautiful bouquet.

Mum and I were allowed to each pick our favourite bunch of flowers from their selection in store, then Emily took the bunches apart to show us how to put them together again.

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Each and every stem was laid out on the table. The next step is to take the lower leaves off the stems to leave you with a fresh flower, and make it easier to piece the bouquets together.

Emily showed us how they initially take one main flower to use as the focal point of the bouquet. The other flowers are then added in a spiral around this main flower, and it continues until you have completed your bouquet.

Once you’re holding your completed bouquet, it’s a good idea to pull up a few pieces to add a variety of heights in your bunch.

When you’re ready to tie your flowers together, you can take an elastic band, place it around one of the thicker stems, pull it up towards where your hands are holding the flowers, then wrap the entire elastic band around the stems about twice, and then fix it into place by wrapping the other end of the elastic band around another stem. (Not sure if that made sense, I’m sure you could YouTube that technique if you’d like to give it a whirl!)

Mum and I each had a go at putting together our own bunches. It’s certainly trickier than you think. I found myself concentrating hard on what colours and shapes to put together, whilst trying to hold it all together when adding the new pieces in. Here’s a snap of our bouquets, mine on the left and mum’s on the right.

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

When you have your flowers nicely secured, it’s time to trim those stems. Usually when I receive flowers, I end up sitting on my kitchen floor with my scissors struggling like mad to cut the stems. Emily had these super easy-to-use secateurs which made cutting the stems a breeze. So I’ve definitely added a pair of those to my wish list!

Top tip: Emily told us that it’s best to cut the stems on a slant, to help prolong the flowers’ life.

Once everything is tied together and looking beautiful, it’s time to wrap that bouquet. Emily cleverly folded the tissue paper and cellophane around the flowers and created a little “bubble” by the bottom of the stems. This bubble is able to hold a little bit of water. So once tied, wrapped, secured and placed into the box shaped bag, Emily made a little hole between the flowers and carefully poured a little water into the bouquet to ensure they are carried away with their water-filled bubble – how clever!

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Every bouquet also goes away with feed to ensure your flowers stay looking their best.

The Flower Shop within Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes is filled to the brim with the most gorgeous blooms. You can choose from a vast array of flowers, plants and gifts. From teeny tiny little pots, to taller bigger plants. Whatever the occasion, they have something for it I’m sure. I just love receiving flowers and plants for birthdays.

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

Flowers Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

The very generous team at Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes also gifted us some rather delectable sweet treats to enjoy too. The packaging on these is absolutely stunning! (See piccy below). So bright and beautiful. I love it.

On Mother’s Day we tried each of these (with Dad’s help too!) and they are all delightful. The Handmade Nougat is the softest, tastiest and quite frankly the best nougat I’ve ever had. The nougat flavours include pistachio, hazelnut & sour cherry, raspberry & almond.

The Rose & Violet Creams are lovely, the rose ones taste a bit like Turkish delight, and the violet flavour is like a subtle Parma Violets taste (I love Parma Violets) – so if you love those flavours, you’ll love these. They’re a really yummy and quite uniquely flavoured treat to enjoy.

The Peach Bellini Truffles are quite chocolately but definitely have a peachy taste to them, very creamy too. A real indulgent treat. A perfect accompaniment to a glass of fizz – mum’s choice of fizz for Mother’s Day was Asti.

We loved the Sea Salt Caramels, they had a nice smooth filling and a good balance of the caramel and sea salt flavours. The chocolate outer was a decent amount of chocolate too, no thin chocolate layers here!

Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles…as with everything else, these too were an absolute delight. They’re dusted with a lovely coating of freeze dried strawberries. Inside is a whole load of truffly goodness. It’s an indulgent chocolate but not too heavy compared to some. I’d happy receive a box of these as a gift.

Sweets from Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning! If you’re after a blooming lovely treat for yourself or a loved one, I really recommend popping by The Flower Shop within Marks and Spencer Milton Keynes. I think you’ll be really impressed with how the area has been revitalised.

As mentioned, they really do have a huge selection from smaller blooms to bigger plants, so I’m sure you’ll find exactly what you need. If not, the Flower Shop team can order online for you right there in store. Perfect.

Plan your visit to the Milton Keynes Marks and Spencer store online here: www.marksandspencer.com

*Thank you again to the lovely Marks and Spencer team for inviting both myself and my mum down to this one-to-one flower arranging session, we had such a wonderful time and picked up some brilliant tips.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

Celebrate Mum with Prestige Flowers this Mother’s Day

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers

The beauty of the unexpected. I’ve never sent any surprises through the post to my mum, or anyone actually, so when Prestige Flowers offered me the chance to send my mum a beautiful bouquet to celebrate Mother’s Day, I jumped at the opportunity. My mum loves flowers and tending to her garden, so I just knew she would love this.

The flowers arrived at my parents’ home whilst I was at work today. As soon as they arrived my mum rang me to say she thought she’d email me to say thank you, but decided to call me at work instead to thank me personally for the flowers. She was absolutely thrilled to receive them.

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers Combo teddy and chocolates

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers Combo teddy and chocolates

The beautiful flowers arrived with a gorgeous little teddy bear and a very welcome box of chocolates to enjoy. Doesn’t it all look so lovely?

Don’t worry, you still have time to order for Mother’s Day from Prestige Flowers! Their fantastic delivery service means you have the option for Next Day delivery if you order by 9pm the day before. Or you can choose Saturday or Sunday delivery options too. They even have a selection of flowers that are available for same day deliveries if you order by 3pm.

Phew. Mother’s Day saved.

I genuinely feel that flowers are such a wonderful gift to give. I love a bouquet filled with different colours and shades, different styles of flower, you can truly appreciate the beauty and uniqueness in every flower. There’s nothing better than seeing a fresh bouquet sitting pretty in your home, whether it’s adorning a table or a fireplace, they really brighten and refresh the home so easily and elegantly.

Prestige Flowers Mother's Day Flowers

The great Mother’s Day Combo bundles allow you to get everything you need from Prestige Flowers. A cute teddy bear, chocolates or even a bottle of bubbly can be ordered with the flowers. They each come with a vase too, so there’s no need to worry about how they will be displayed in the home.

The bouquets are arranged by highly skilled British florists, so you will be guaranteed to receive gorgeously arranged flowers. They’re also running a competition at the moment – every Mother’s Day order will be entered into a competition to win flowers for a year. Imagine!

If you fancy something a little different to a bouquet of flowers, they also have a lovely selection of Mother’s Day plants and gifts as an alternative. A little something for everyone is on their website.

Besides Mother’s Day, Prestige Flowers provide flowers for all occasions, silk flowers for ever-lasting floral beauty in your home, Haute Florist for that touch of luxury and a huge collection of hampers.

It would be lovely if we all had enough time in our busy lives to head to a local florist and piece together a bouquet in front of our very eyes, but sadly that just isn’t the case in these busy days. So it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to order flowers online and know they’ll arrive quickly, safely and beautifully to your recipient. Prestige Flowers also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee for your peace of mind, which is great to know if you’re like me and always want to make sure you’re giving the best quality of gift.

I just want to thank Prestige Flowers again for gifting these to me, well, to my mum! We were so impressed with everything and wouldn’t hesitate to order from them in the future.

So if you’re in a rush and need a beautiful gift, and quick, for your mum (or any other special lady in your life!) for Mother’s Day or any other upcoming occasion, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with a bouquet from Prestige Flowers.

Discover the Mother’s Day collection at https://www.prestigeflowers.co.uk/mothers-day-flowers

*The bouquet, teddy and chocolates were gifted to us from Prestige Flowers, but of course as always, the thoughts and writing regarding the items are most definitely mine.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

Spending Valentine’s Day at Home

LOTD wrap over velvet dress

These days it seems like there is so much pressure for people to impress, to splash the cash and buy the best. That restaurant you tag yourself at to show off to your friends on Facebook, or to get the most perfect picture or idyllic lifestyle image to share on Insta. It’s time to enjoy the *real life* reason behind Valentine’s Day.

Yes, events such as Valentine’s Day have been commercialised these days and don’t I know it…I work in marketing after all. But this doesn’t mean you can’t go against the grain and make a pact not to spend if you don’t want to.

At the end of the day, YOU are the one in control of your pennies and if you’d rather spend that money on something else. That’s totally your prerogative.

Ian and I will be spending Valentine’s Day at home this year. No cards, no presents – just us, a bottle of something lovely, a good steak dinner and an equally good movie. That’s all we need and more. After all, surely the best gift you can give this Valentine’s is your time?

LOTD velvet wrap over dress

LOTD velvet wrap over dress

Velvet wrap over dress by LOTD (gifted)

You can still make it special by getting dressed up, throwing on a lovely dress, a little makeup if you fancy it too. If it makes you feel lovely, you needn’t be going out anywhere to wear your Sunday best! It’s also 100% fine if you want to sit in your joggers and get super comfy, with no makeup and your hair up in a messy bun.

So make a night of it. Simply enjoy being you. Enjoy each other’s company. That’s all you need.

Now, I must be honest, just 10 days after Valentine’s Day is our 3 year anniversary. We will be heading out for a lovely meal then, so we’re certainly not missing out on a meal out this month.

We’ll save our pennies for our anniversary meal and the money we would have also spent on Valentine’s Day can go towards even better things, such as our next home, holidays, etc.

I have to say a huge thank you to LOTD who gifted me this beautiful black velvet dress. If you are saving the pennies this year, I’d really recommend checking out the amazingly affordable fashion available on the LOTD website. I was so impressed by the quality of everything I received from them considering how little they cost. This dress is just £12, can you believe it?

Check out all their collections at www.lotd.com

I have a few other pieces from LOTD that I’ll be sharing with you guys very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for those lovely things too!

So… Happy Valentine’s Day! Remember that the day is whatever you wish it to be. A fancy meal out or a takeaway at home, it doesn’t matter. What matters is time spent together.

The gorgeous dress in this post was gifted to me by LOTD, but of course my thoughts are mine as always.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

A yummy & healthy snack discovery

Getbuzzing protein bars

You guys may have heard me waffling lately about how I want to get healthier in 2018 after a rubbish year for health last year. I’ve joined a gym, I’m eating relatively well…still with the occasional treat of course. But one thing I’ve really been trying to hunt down lately is an array of tasty and healthy snacks.

I’m trying to find snacks that fit into my busy lifestyle of working full time, trying to keep on top of blogging, running a home and fitting gym time in too – you guys get the drill! Life is busy.

So it was pretty lovely to discover the snacks by getbuzzing lately and find out how awesome they truly are.

First up, these snacks are nut free. Yes not one nut in sight. The company goes to great lengths to ensure nuts are kept well away from their bars, if this is something that’s important to you, I’d recommend reading their about us page *here* where they explain all. The bars also have no additives, preservatives or colourings, just good stuff. getbuzzing even have a collection of gluten free bars too.

They have a huge range of flavours and even have a range of higher protein bars too, which are great for gym goers. So there’s definitely something for everyone. I mean, HELLO Mint Choc High Protein flavour! *insert heart eyes emoji* ..this is my favourite so far alongside the Wowbutter flapjack. Yeap, they even have moreish flapjacks too. Flavours include –  banana, wowbutter (yes, still nut free & delicious!), mixed berries and date & seed. To think these bars are all made with natural ingredients is pretty impressive.

Ian was eyeing up these snacks all last week and asking me over and over if he can eat any yet. He’s been really into the gym lately, and to be totally honest he’s done amazingly well. So the protein bars definitely caught his eye when they arrived and he’s so impressed by the way they taste.

Getbuzzing date and seed bar

It’s so good to find another healthy snack alternative that is so easy to throw in your handbag for a shopping trip or to stash away in your snack drawer at work.  Variety is the spice of the snack life I think.

Ian and I have both been so impressed with the flavours we’ve tried so far. They’re honestly so much more delicious than we thought they’d be.

You can find out more about the getbuzzing range of bars on their website www.getbuzzing.co.uk ..they’re most definitely worth a try.

Thank you so much to the getbuzzing team for letting us try your lovely snack bars for free. As always, all my thoughts are most definitely mine (or Ian’s).

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

A Rather Fruity Tea Party

Fruit Tea Party Ideas

Fruit lovers unite! If you’re looking forward to all the parties 2018 is going to bring, here’s a little inspo in case you’re in need of some fruit themed party food ideas.

Last weekend Ian and I had a rather fruity tea party for two and it was so lovely!

I mean, who doesn’t love fruit? So I thought wouldn’t it be lovely to give a twist to the typical tea party full of afternoon tea inspired cakes and put a bit of a fruitier and therefore healthier spin on things. But of course still with a little bit of cake, because a life without cake is not a fun one after all.

So welcome on in to my rather fruity tea party, pull up a seat and pour yourself a gorgeous glass of cloudy apple Pago fruit juice. The perfect accompaniment to a fruit based party!

Pago cloudy apple juice

The lovely people at Pago sent us a case of their beautiful cloudy apple juice to enjoy, which then inspired me to put together this fruity little feast. This drink is absolutely gorgeous – Ian was pretty blown away and kept saying how nice it was. He was like a broken record, which is a good review of the drink in itself I think!

The Pago cloudy apple juice is 100% juice which has been pressed and not filtered, to ensure it retains all its goodness. It also has a boost of vitamin C, which is perfect for me right now as I’m just getting over a cold.

Pago are makers of premium fruit juices and they have a vast array of flavours to try. So if cloudy apple isn’t your jam, how about trying mango, pineapple, rhubarb and pear or even tomato juice.

They use the best suppliers to ensure every glass is as perfect as it can be. If you head over to their website at www.pagofruitjuice.co.uk you can discover it all, and even order a case for your very own rather fruity tea party!


Fruit party food ideas…

A really simple party food that takes literally seconds to put together are fruit skewers. I bought the wooden skewers in a pack from Sainsburys, but I’m sure they’re widely available elsewhere too. Then you simply pop pieces of fruit onto the stick. I kept the same pattern across them all, to ensure they looked nice and uniform when displayed.

But there you have it, so so easy to assemble – your party will instantly look great with these! You could always have a fun little “DIY” station where people create their own ones too.

Also…how cute is this pink flamingo melamine platter plate? I bought it in Sainsburys a while ago for just a few £’s in the sale. It’s so fun and just perfect for a fruit tea party.

Fruit skewers

Next up in my very lovely hand blown The White Company glass dessert dishes may I add, we had a simple dish of yogurt and fruit. Again, such a simple and easy snack, but most definitely an underrated one.

Pick your favourite yogurt, or a healthy one if you’re being good (we opted for a protein-filled one as Ian’s all about the protein right now) and then top it up with your favourite fruit.

If you’re feeling fancy, you could always add a dash of honey, chocolate sauce, granola or a fruit coulis. The possibilities are endless with this one. We enjoyed dipping our fruit skewers into it too!

Yogurt topped with fruit

If, like me, you are yet to learn how to bake and become that domestic goddess you dream one day you will be. Then here’s a really super easy way to jazz up some shop bought cakes.

I picked up these little coconut cakes from our local Asda (keeping things on the fruit theme), added a dollop of clotted cream, a slice of strawberry for that extra bit of fruit and then sprinkled a gorgeous topping of grated dark chocolate on the top.

Again, such a simple thing to put together, but they look and taste absolutely divine. Who said putting party food together needs to be laborious? We loved these.

Coconut cake topped with clotted cream and strawberries

The fruity fun needn’t stop there! Here’s a few extra ideas to try if you fancy holding your own fruit tea party…

Chia seeds are bang on trend right now, and for a good reason. These little things might be tiny but they are mighty! They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants, iron and calcium – they’re great at keeping your energy going. So use these fab little things and create a chia seed parfait. Here’s a lovely recipe from Healthy magazine to try – *click here*.

I’m sure you’ve seen these. Next time you’re making ice, why not pop a few blueberries or mini chunks of fruit into the water to make fruity ice cubes. They look amazing in your drinks and leave you with a tasty treat once melted.

Apple and peanut butter is a wonderful and underrated combination, try dipping slices of apple into pots of peanut butter.

Instead of just fruit skewers, why not try them in a more decadent style. Use strawberries, marshmallows and little brownie bites for a naughty but nice more indulgent treat.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed my little fruity tea party post. Here’s to partying our way through 2018!

Don’t forget to check out the fab Pago fruit juices at www.pagofruitjuice.co.uk

Thank you ever so much to the team at Pago who sent me a case of their gorgeous cloudy apple juices free of charge. As always all the writing and fruity ideas are all mine.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

New Year Home Makeover

WoodWick Wax Burner

Isn’t it funny how our tastes can change in just a matter of years? When I first bought my home I had plans to make it look really cool, fun and funky. And now after years of realising how much “stuff” I own and surround myself with, I’m striving for a calm and clutter free space, and I much prefer the look of a minimal paired back style.

These days I’m much more drawn to interior inspiration that uses natural shades, whites and wooden surfaces. Every day I lust after the homes of interior queen Charlotte Valentine from The Home That Made Me and Lauren from Hunters & Heels, who has the most beautiful country cottage.

Today I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite interior possessions and show you a few that I’m lusting after right now to give my home a much needed new year home makeover! I have a mix of affordable brands and some a little more higher end. After all, there are some amazing bargains to be had out there.

My current favourite possessions…

Grey Ikea Lantern

My IKEA lanterns. I got these as a gift from Ian and they were exactly what I was after, the matte metal isn’t too “look at me” it’s simple, stylish and looks so elegant with these white pillar candles. I have two of these, each sitting to the side of the main window in the living room. They look great! I can’t find these exact ones on their website, but if you love the look of them, they are also available in white – *click here to see them*.

Decluttering the home

I love a little taste of country-esque styling in homes, I really feel it creates a warm homely look. This cream jug from Tesco was an absolute steal, I think it was about £6 when I bought it and it was exactly what I had been looking for for quite a while. It looks lovely sitting on my wooden and cream dining table (not the table pictured). It just shows you don’t always have to shop in expensive stores to find perfect pieces.

Last year I was lucky enough to review some gorgeous WoodWick candles and a beautiful electric melt burner lamp, which looks fab at night – you can see it in the top image of this post. I’m still so in love with this lamp and I will keep it forever! (You can read the blog post about WoodWick *here*). Just pick your favourite scents to burn on the top, switch it on and enjoy all of its beauty. WoodWick have a vast array of styles and designs to choose from, so if this one isn’t your cup of tea you’re bound to find one that is.

Heart of House Stag Cushion

My Heart of House (by Argos) stag cushion. I ended up with this cute little addition after I spotted it in a sale last year. I think it cost me about £6-£8, so it was a real bargain and I’m super pleased with it. It’s a lovely quality and I love the watercolour style. Again, it just goes to show sometimes you don’t have to spend a fortune to fill your home with lovely little items. Save your pennies for the bigger more well-built items such as furniture!

What I’m lusting after…

Now it’s time to talk *wants* from little goodies to bigger investments, here’s what’s on my wish list right now.

I love *these Laura Ashley baskets* that I spotted in their sale. We’re definitely on the hunt for more storage at the moment, both in the form of some kind of sideboard in the living room and at least some kind of trunk style baskets (or something similar) for the master bedroom. I love these trunk style baskets from Laura Ashley, they’re a decent size and are £50 down from £100 in the sale right now. I love the colour and the wicker style, I think they’re really timeless and something you could keep for many years to come instead of just buying quick “it’ll do” storage items like plastic boxes.

French style arch mirror

Not that I have anywhere to put one right now, but I absolutely love arch window mirrors. They’re so different and a real statement piece. The photo above is from a beautiful place my parents and I stayed in when we visited Whitby last year, their mirror is gorgeous! Mirrors can be super expensive sometimes, but I’ve found *this lovely white one* at Dunelm if you’re on the hunt for one of these right now…

We’ve also been thinking about getting a stylish looking bin for our kitchen. So I’m totally lusting after *this simplehuman voice activated, yes, VOICE ACTIVATED bin!* I mean, can you get any fancier and hygienic? I was searching for a simple sensor bin and came across this little piece of not-so-rubbish (excuse the pun!) luxury and now I really want it. So if superhuman read this post and fancy sending me one for a review, I’m totally game! Haha :)

Another lovely little addition I’d love to add to our home at some point is a cake stand or two. I just think they’re such a lovely way of displaying both cakes and other lovely treats. I’m undecided whether I want a plain white or cream one, one with a beautiful print or something a little different like *this slate 2 tier serving stand at Lakeland*. I’d love to know what you guys have at home? I’d love for you to comment below with your recommendations if you have any. I need some inspiration!  A bigger cake or a lovely collection of cupcakes would look lovely taking pride of place in *this glass cake stand by M&S*. It’s simple, understated but still such a lovely luxury to add to the dining table, I definitely want one of these as well!

Thomas Sanderson bay window shutters(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

I’ve fallen in love with the shutters by Thomas Sanderson too! I’ve often wondered how you can add character to a newer built home, and I think these are just the ticket. When I buy a home I’d happily have some of these up on the windows, as I just think they’re such an easy yet stunning way to add character and really change the box-like look of more recently built homes. You can see all their shutters by *clicking here*. They do a really big range which is great, so if you have bay windows, curved windows or want to fit them in higher humidity rooms like your bathroom or kitchen, then they have it all. I really like the idea of fitting them to a bay window if I end up having one of those in my next home, you can see those ones *here* if you have one. The lovely Charlotte Valentine (as mentioned earlier) from THTMM has shutters in her home and I think they look stunning. Very chic.

The list of my wants could seriously go on forever! Lottery win is most definitely needed. I do hope this post has inspired you with a few ideas for your own home though. And I’d love to know what you’ve spotted in the stores right now, leave me a comment below with your amazing finds or things you’re lusting after so I can add them to my list too! :)

This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Thomas Sanderson, who have the most beautiful shutters that I will now be lusting over until we buy our house! Haha. Of course all the thoughts and writing in this post is mine as always. Now I’m off to hunt down that storage we need…

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston// Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog