Sunday, 18 December 2016

Inviting A Stranger Over For Christmas Dinner?

Some of you may be very confused and shocked by the title of this post, and if you'd have suggested this to me a couple of years ago I would have probably run away in terror (stranger danger). But last christmas my family and I invited a stranger into out home to share Christmas dinner - and it was quite honestly one of the best Christmases we have ever had. There were last arguments from my grandparents, we were forced to get dressed (and not stay in our pyjamas all day) and made much more effort to chat! 

There is a big emphasis on spending time with family over the festive period, but what does this mean for those who have no family? Well last year Bisto launched a campaign where you give up a spare chair for the elderly and share your Sunday lunch with someone who would otherwise be eating alone. Sunday dinner is the one meal we all look forward to, where we sit down with firiends and family for good food and conversation. Yet for 1 in 7 older people, it is one of the loneliest times of the week, with over one million elderly people going days without communicating with anyone. So you can imagine how loneliness is a massive problem, especially around the festive period. 

I live in the countryside, in a very small and rural village that is probably made up of around 180 people - 90% of which are elderly. We get on with pretty much everyone at our end of the village, but very rarely venture down where the majority of the older residents live. My grandma (who also lives in the village), likes to go to the local coffee morning and regularly chats to a lady who's husband had died several years ago. My grandma being my grandma, instantly invited here over for Christmas dinner as soon as she found out that she usually spends the day alone. She didn't stop to think about the logistics, or the fact that she wasn't even hosting the dinner (my mum always has everyone over to my house and we cook for everyone), she just invited her along!

At first we were all a bit skeptical, we hardly knew this woman, yet she was going to be sharing our special day with us. Eating our food and joining in with our little family traditions. I remember being terrified just before she arrived, I thought she might ruin the day. I thought everyone would feel too awkward to talk, and what if she didn't like the food! What would we do then? But as soon as she arrived the day just seemed to flow. We got her a drink, we gave her a present, we sat down for dinner. Conversation flowed and she loved the food - she even asked for a few of our recipes. She stayed, watched a film with us, we gave her a little doggy bag and she went home! We enjoyed having her over, and she enjoyed being with us! I'm pretty sure she's coming back again this year!

So all I'm saying, is just spare a thought for those who aren't as fortunate as you this Christmas. I'm not saying that you have to scour the streets looking for someone to have over for Christmas dinner, but if someone you know (or even someone you don't) happens to mention that they are spending the day alone, just consider sharing your day with them. 

Would you ever invite a stranger over for Christmas dinner?



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Friday, 2 December 2016

What's Going On: An Update

In all honesty, I haven't written a post since August. Not out of laziness or lack of effort, or anything like that. I've just been too busy. I'd scheduled quite a few posts to go up as I knew that I wouldn't have much time to rave about my latest purchases, or tell you what lipstick I probably haven't worn all that much - but those are fast running out and I am now in my final year of university finding it very difficult to get things done. Finding the time to go do simple things like going to the post office, catching up with friends, or even loading the dishwasher is becoming increasingly difficult. The last three months or so have gone by incredibly fast, and I can tell how long it's been since I last sat and wrote to you as the Blogger platform has had a bit of a makeover whilst I've been absent. So I thought I'd write you a little somethin' to let you know that I'm still alive (barely). 

Since we last spoke properly, I've had an MRI scan. I've been diagnosed with this, that, and the other.  I've cried. I've made some big lifestyle changes. I've had meltdowns. I've paused and resumed physiotherapy. I've started ankle classes to strengthen the muscles around my ankles. I've had interviews. I've applied for teacher training. I've got rejected from teacher training. I've lost a stone. I've driven to remote locations and just sat screaming where no-one could hear me. I've bought more clothes than I should have done. But most importantly, I've found some happiness in the chaos that is my life. 

My chaotic life is being somewhat dominated by assignments at the moment. I'm just starting my equivalent of a dissertation, and almost 99% of my time is spent reading journal articles and textbooks. Listening to podcasts, and watching TED Talks from people that lecturers tell me are important. At the moment one of my main priorities is finding participants to take part in my research study. Which I thought would be a lot easier than it is. So if you're a student willing to fill out a couple of questionnaires for my research study that will take no longer than 15-20 minutes please get in touch by leaving me a comment/email/tweet! Or if you know anyone that would be willing to help me out - send them my way! I BEG YOU. 

What's happened in your life recently?



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Sunday, 20 November 2016

An Ode To Pink Blush

It feels wrong writing this post at this point in the year, when pink toned blushers were made for the spring and summer months. I've been reaching for blushers a little more recently. With the cold weather setting in, I've found my skin looking a little dull and blush has added a little glow to my complexion. So today I thought I'd share my top picks with you!

Taking a peek inside my blush drawer, the majority of my blushers are pink toned. Some of those edge more towards the berry side of things, but they are pink toned nonetheless. My current favourite pick is the Charlotte Tilbury Chic To Chic Blush in 'Love Glow'. This two toned blush provides a variety of looks from just one tiny (but actually quite big) compact. You are supposed to 'swish and pop', but you can use one shade or the other, or a combination of the two! 4 looks in one product makes the price a little more bearable. If your budget doesn't quite stretch to Charlotte Tilbury, then the No7 Natural Blush Tint Powder in 'Soft Damson' is perfect. This was my first ever blush and I've lost count of the number of pans I've gone through over the years as I wear it almost every day. 

If you're looking for something with more of a berry tone, I cannot recommend the NARS Powder Blush in 'Sin' enough. The pigmentation, the formula, the shade range. BEAUTIFUL. And maybe a slightly better option for this time of year? Maybe. Another longstanding favourite is the Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush in 'Cherub'. I just love the formula! I should probably wear this so much more than I actually do, but I've been reaching for it a lot more recently as it is perfect for when my skin edges more towards the drier side. Another one that's perfect for when my skin gets a little drier is the Clinique Cheek Pop in 'Berry Pop'.  It has a cream to powder formula making it absolutely perfect for the winter weather, and although this particular shade doesn't scream 'winter' I just can't help but reach for it when I'm missing the summer sun. 

And finally, the most recent addition to my collection, the Japonesque Velvet Touch Blush in 'Shade 3' is a current favourite of mine. I remember being so shocked the first time I applied this as it is SO pigmented! It's probably one of the most pigmented blushers I own! Plus the packaging is completely gorgeous so obviously it appealed to me on an aesthetic level! 



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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

My Handbag Essentials

I haven't done a 'what's in my bag' style post in forever, in fact I'd say it's been two years! So instead of showing you all the crap that I carry round on a daily basis, I thought I would tell you what I can't go without. Depending on where I'm going, I can either carry a massive bag or a cute little across body that I struggle to fit anything in - but usually it's on the smaller side. I tend to opt for black leather cross body bags (#obsessed) as I find they go with just about everything. For university I use a big leather shopper bag (also black like my soul) because those books aren't going to carry themselves. 

A purse // Obviously you need a purse, unless you plan on paying for everything with smiles. For my birthday I treated myself to this GORGEOUS Michael Kors Bedford Navy Large Zip Around Purse (see similar here). I wanted it the moment I saw it, and when it went into the House of Fraser sale it was mine. I got it for £59 reduced from £130 so I was pretty pleased with myself! #savvy I don't think I've ever loved a purse so much in my entire life. 

A phone // I like many, never go anywhere without my phone so obviously it made it onto my essentials list. With my phone, I like to make sure that I have a pair of headphones for when fellow commuters get too much to handle, along with a portable charger. I use the Anker Powercore+ Mini which is nice and small to fit inside any handbag. 

Keys // Who wants to spend hours locked outside their own house? NOT ME. If I plan on leaving the house to go anywhere, obviously I need my keys. Mine look kinda boring, with a few keyrings to jazz up my Morrisons Match & More card. 

Beauty // I never go anywhere without beauty products. I always carry around a lipstick (or 20), and when I remember a powder compact with a built in mirror - hey I even throw in a powder brush if I'm feelin' fancy. Even though I'll always forget to apply it, I like to keep a lip balm in my bag incase my lips get a little dry. I often have some form of brush or comb, and I try and keep a nail file around for those nail emergencies. 

Emergency // I'm that person that carries something for all occasions. Cut yourself? I have plasters. Allergies? I have antihistamines. Headache? I have painkillers. You name it I've got it! And how anyone can go anywhere without an emergency granola bar in their bag is beyond me. I'm currently obsessed with the Nature Valley Honey and Oats Bar - delicious is an understatement!

The other crap // Obviously it wouldn't be a handbag related post if there wasn't a load of random crap in there too. My handbag wouldn't be my handbag if there wasn't 8249474 used train tickets, tissues with lipstick blottings on them, and 7 empty granola bar packets in there somewhere.

What do you always take with you wherever you go?



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Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Fluffiest Scones You'll Ever Make

I love scones. As a young child I used to bake them with my grandma almost every weekend so my grandad could have fresh scones with a cup of tea in the afternoons. As I've grown up, I bake them less and less, but I still enjoy making them now and then. I've been experimenting with a couple of different recipes over the last couple of years, changing quantities and adding different ingredients, and I've finally found one that gives me perfect scones every time. The secret is to add extra baking powder into the flour, as it makes them extra fluffy and delicious. 



Start off by preheating your oven to 200C. Tip the self-raising flour into a large mixing bowl (no need to sieve), and mix in the salt and the baking powder. Make sure your teaspoon is level when measuring out the baking powder as you can taste it if you use too much, but you want enough of it because this makes the scones nice and fluffy.

Cut the butter into small chunks and rub in until the mix looks like fine bread crumbs. Top tip - shake the bowl to see if all the butter has been rubbed in as the larger crumbs rise to the top of the bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Measure the milk into a jug, and add bit by bit into the dry mixture. Part way through, add in the vanilla extract and stir into the mixture. Carry on adding in the milk until the mixture is quite wet (but not sloppy). Use your hands to 'knead' the dough until all the liquid is absorbed and it is no longer wet - the dough should be smooth. If you have added too much milk, mix in a little more flour - but not too much. 

Tip onto a clean work surface and use your hands to pat the dough until it's just over an inch thick. Take a smooth cutter (they give a better rise), roughly 5cm in diameter, and cut out your scone. Repeat until you have 12 scones. Place the scones onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and use a pastry brush (or your finger) to brush milk over the tops of the scones. Be careful not to let it run down the side of the scones as it can burn when in the oven. 

Place on the middle shelf of your preheated oven, and after 15-17 minutes they will be nice and golden! I usually find that most of them are done after 15, but one or two need an extra couple of minutes to finish off! If you can wait long enough, allow them to cool and enjoy with clotted cream and jam. If you don't manage to eat them all within 10 minutes of them coming out of the oven, you can freeze any leftover scones. When defrosting, allow to thaw thoroughly and pop in a low oven (approx 150C) for a couple of minutes to warm through.  

As always, I love it when you send me photos of your baking on Twitter - so if you make these please send me a snap!




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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Basics: Google Analytics

Oh Google Analytics you confusing little thing you. When I first discovered it I was so hopelessly lost, with all the numbers and graphs, I had no idea what I was looking at. So instead I stuck to the stats provided by my old friend Blogger, and ignored those provided to me by Google Analytics. After years of trying to get on with it, I finally feel like I understand the sheer basics. So I thought I'd write this post especially for those of you that are in the same boat I was, in the sheer hope that it gives you even the slightest clue to what you're looking at. 

Audience Overview // When you first open up Google Analytics this is the first page that loads up. You can recognise which page this is by the fact that it has a big graph and lots of smaller boxes. The smaller boxes tell you various things and you can select a period (and even compare it to a previous one), and it will show you several figures such as the number of users, sessions, page views, and page views per session:  

Sessions // If you don't understand what sessions are, think of them as visits. One session is where one person has visited your blog without closing the tab. If they happen to close your website and then reopen it, you class that as another session, so you would have two (and so on).  

Users // Google Analytics tracks each individual user by their IP address. So each user is a different individual. So if 100 people read your blog, you will have 100 users. 

Page views // This is the total number of pages visited on your website. 

Pages per session // I feel as though this one is pretty self-explanatory. It is the average number of pages someone views when they click onto your website.

Average session duration // Again pretty self-explanatory, but the amount of time someone spends on your blog per visit.

Bounce rate // The rate at which someone clicks on your blog and then 'bounces' back onto the page they were previously viewing. 

New session percentage // The percentage of new visits compared to returning visits. 

Acquisition // Acquisition is basically where all your traffic comes from, or how you 'acquire' it. I find this really useful as it allows you to see which social media platforms you should concentrate on. For example, if you get most of your traffic from Twitter but only tweet once a week, you should start upping your Twitter game. 

All traffic > Source/Medium // This handy little page gives you a list of all that websites that have directed traffic to your blog. It will most likely mention the likes of Bloglovin, organic Google searches, and direct traffic.

Behaviour // Behaviour is useful for getting to know what people are doing whilst they visit your blog. 

Site content > All Pages // This is where you can see what is most popular on your blog. This page displays the most viewed pages on your blog. Usually the homepage (e.g. www.charlottesophiaroberts.co.uk) is displayed first followed by a forward slash ('/').  

Behaviour > Site Speed // Allow not as important as some of the other statistics available on Google Analytics, site speed allows you to see how long it takes to load your website on someone's device. Ideally you are supposed to make sure that your website loads in under 6 seconds. Any slower than this an you may want to consider reducing your image file sizes and getting rid of any unnecessary widgets. 

How do you get on with Google Analytics?


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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Meet My Plants

If I am completely honest, I thought I'd be slightly lazy with today's post and stick to pictures as the theme of the post is quite self explanatory (and because I'm one busy lady this week). It's probably quite well known that I LOVE plants. I have quite a few, and I thought I would be completely different and 'alternative' and do a little post introducing my favourites to you! I have others that aren't in proper pots which I may introduce at a later date, but these are my named plants. I even have each of their names written on the bottom of their pots!
First up are my miniature cacti and succulents from Ikea. This are quite a cult favourite as they are pretty cheap and come ready to go in cute little pots. After painstaking hours of research, I have come up with names for most of them, but I am not 100% as I have just been going off photos from cacti identification websites - so if you know the actual species plz help a girl out. 

To the left there is Cornelius, which I believe to be a 'Cereus Jamacaru Monstrosus'. Then in the middle there is Clive, which I can't even guess a species because I have never seen anything like him since, and the CactiGuide.com turned up no results. And finally there is Oswald, who could either be a 'Discocactus zehntneri' or a 'Eriosyce engleri' - but I have no idea because Oswald looks like pretty much every single cacti species ever. #typical 
On the left is Eugene, which I believe is an 'Austrocylindropuntia vestita' (bit of a mouthful lol). Then there is Sigmund (named after Freud bc of his shape obv) which I think is a 'Stenocereus stellatus'. And finally there's Lorelai, a potential 'Micropuntia tuberculosis rhopalic' which is my favourite of the lot!
Onto plants that I actually know the names of, I have a gorgeous spider plant that I named Sid. Specifically Sid is a 'Chlorophytum comosum' which is a good variety, as the colour of the leaves fade when it needs watering. My mum has one of the same variety in the kitchen, but she used to have another one that looked really weedy and pale, so she got rid of it and bought one like Sid. 
Finally we have Esther, a 'succulent crassula' which was originally three times the size of what she is now, but she developed some kind of fungus, and I was only able to rescue and treat this much of her so the pot looks a little empty now. Then there's the geniously named Spike which is a 'succulent haworthia'. My mum actually named Spike, but I liked it so it stuck! And thats it for now!

Do you have any plants?



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Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Eye Edit

I think it's safe to say that I have a slight addiction to eye makeup. Approximately half of my makeup collection is made up  of various eye products, and it's crazy how just a quick swipe of eyeliner or a neutral eyeshadow can change your appearance completely. One of my favourite ways to switch up my everyday makeup is to mix and match with different eyeshadows (all neutral of course), and if I'm having a bad skin day I even throw on some winged eyeliner to detract from my skin crisis. 
Eyeshadow // I never really used to wear eyeshadow because I never understood what you could really do with it. But then entering the world of beauty I learnt all about cut creases, inner corners, and blending out. Throwback to five or six years ago and ask me about eyeshadow, I'd probably have no idea about the words that were coming out of your mouth. All I needed back then was a liquid eyeliner (and lots of it), but now... eyeshadow has taken over and its all I ever really wear. My usual go-tos are the Charlotte Tilbury quads (particularly Dolce Vita and Vintage Vamp), and the Maybelline The Nudes Palette. 

Eyeliner // I've had a love affair with eyeliner for the last nine years or so. It all began with a brown eyeliner pencil from Claire's, and I gradually moved onto liquid eyeliner. I've tried a fair few over the years, but my current go-to is the Soap & Glory Supercat Eyeliner. I really didn't think I'd like it when I got it as I've never really got on with felt tip style eyeliners, but shockingly I fell in love with it!

Mascara // Again I've been using mascara for the best part of 10 years. It began by being clear, then I switched to brown, then electric blue (circa 2008), and then black in the latter years. I had a longstanding obsession with the Soap and Glory Thick and Fast Mascara, and although I still use it occasionally, I discovered ones I enjoyed using more. On a more day-to-day basis I use the Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara, and for more special occasions I use the Max Factor 2000 Calorie Waterproof Mascara as it helps hold more of a curl.

Tools // I've been using an eyelash curler ever since I heisted my mum's aged 12. And although that one is long gone, I've only ever owned two since. I bought a No7 one from Boots when I was about 15, but when that broke I upgraded to a NARS one that is now my holy grail. I've had it for three years now(??), and it still looks (and feels) as good as it did when I first purchased it. In the last five years or so I've also gotten really into makeup brushes, and I swear by the Real Techniques collection. They sell every brush you could ever need, and I own very few from other brands.

What is your favourite eye product?



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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Making The Most Of Your Time

With the start of the academic year looming, and the horror of being in my third (and final) year of university well on it's way, I thought I better take a look at my schedule to see if I am making the most of my time. Although I am quite good at procrastinating, I try to make sure that I make the best use of my time - creating schedules that allow for plenty of time to binge watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. 

To do lists // To do lists are one of my favourite ways to make sure I'm being productive enough. I tend to make them most days, but if I have a strict deadline I step them up a notch by adding time limits for each task on the list. By doing this, it helps stop you running behind schedule, so you can move on and come back to less important tasks when you have a bit more time. Adding time guidelines enables you to make full use of your day, so when you have a spare moment you can see whether or not you have the time to complete something of your list. 

Diary // Although not everyone likes to use a physical diary, I couldn't live without mine! I've tried using iCal and Google calendar, but I always end up reverting to my trusty planner. I use the Busy B academic diary (which I have spoken about here), and I wouldn't be without it! 

Set aside time to plan your week // I like to spend my Sunday mornings laying out and planning the upcoming week. It helps me remember appointments and deadlines so I don't end up missing things. As this post goes up, I will most likely be sat in bed with my week planner, my calendar, and my diary seeing what I have to do up to next Sunday! 

Prioritise // There are only 1440 minutes in each day, so make sure you prioritise the most time sensitive tasks to make sure you get them done. Take blogging for example, don't write a blog post due next months, when you haven't finished tomorrow's - it's just common sense isn't it really!  

Stay focused // The second you get distracted it the second your day's work will probably grind to a hault. So make an effort to move any unnecessary items out of the way so you aren't tempted to give them your undivided attention. My personal distraction are my phone and the internet. Although some tasks require the use of the internet, I try and make sure that I don't end up scrolling through ASOS for 3 hours at a time by adding internet filters - blocking me from mindlessly checking Facebook and the likes until I turn them off. 

Slow down // Although this may seem counter-intuitive, it is extremely important when doing a major task like an assignment, or an application etc. By slowing down and not rushing, you minimise the chances of making silly little mistakes - which in the grand scheme of things makes tasks quicker as you don't have to spend time correcting a tonne of mistakes!

How do you make the most of your time?



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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Workouts For Complete Beginners

I haven't always been that into exercise, and even after a year of pretty regular exercise I'd still consider myself a beginner (maybe intermediate if I was wearing the rose-tinted glasses). I'm sure there are many of you out there who would like to create some sort of routine, but have no idea where to start, or what kind of exercise to do. So I thought I'd share some of my favourite beginner level workouts with you, so you can reap the multitude of benefits that regular exercise brings!

Yoga // I've always been interested in Yoga, but it's something I've never really done until recently. After messing up my ankle, I've been trying to incorporate more low impact workouts into my routine and Yoga was one of the first things that sprung to mind. After a long search for online Yoga classes that are for complete beginners, I found Yoga With Adriene on YouTube - and she has a lot of videos that are suitable for all levels. Plus she uploads a new routine every Wednesday, so there are plenty of different routines!

Swimming // Swimming is one of my preferred methods for getting some exercise as I don't really see swimming as a workout as such - but it definitely is! Swimming works almost every single muscle group in your body, so is perfect for toning up any problem areas. You don't have to mega fit to reap the benefits of a couple of laps in your local pool, plus it does wonders for those with stress and anxiety issues as the water provides a really calming environment. 

DVDs // If you don't fancy being watched by other humans, it is perfectly acceptable to workout in the comfort of your own home. DVDs are an excellent way to squeeze in a workout wherever you can, as you don't have to take time out of your day to travel to the local gym. On a morning before university, I like to get up 20 minutes earlier than I need to and fit in a quick cardio workout before going on to get ready for the day. I highly recommend Davina Mccall's DVDs as they are tailored to work different areas of the body, and she has the exact same reactions to her personal trainers as you do watching from home. My current favourite is '5 Week Fit', which comes with a 5 week training schedule packed with different workouts for different days!

Running // Probably not one of the most exciting workouts, but one that requires no equipment or an expensive membership fee. There are dozens of different 'couch to 5k' apps that help you gradually build up your stamina until you are able to run 5 kilometers. You can make running more exciting by picking different routes - you could run through fields, or next to a river, or even through the centre of town. Whatever floats your boat!

Cycling // When I say cycling, I don't necessarily mean a hardcore spin class - unless you want to partake in that sort of thing (good luck to you). A little cycle around your neighbourhood, or the local park can be enough to work up a sweat! 

Online fitness classes // If you're a beginner because the thought of a gym makes you want to curl up in a ball and cry, why not try a fun fitness class? In today's world you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home to get a good workout! I've tried a few online boxercise and Zumba classes and loved them! I quite like the Popsugar fitness videos - and if you don't fancy boxercise of Zumba, they have plenty of other fitness videos on their channel. 

What do you like to do to keep fit?



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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

How To Create Light & Bright Images

You all know how much I like my photography, and if you haven't already guessed - I like it light and bright. I have honestly lost count of the number of emails and tweets I've got over the years with people asking for advice on how to work their camera, or for how to create brighter photos. I always struggle giving advice with the former because yanno, there are like 242396496 types of camera out there, but I thought I'd write a post on the latter in the hopes it would save me a bit of time when replying to my emails.

Location // Not always an obvious one, but choosing a bright place to whip out your camera is crucial for getting light and bright images. As I've mentioned before, I tend to take my images on a windowsill as I find it the best for natural lighting. Try out different locations until you find one that works for you - hey I've even taken some of mine in the bathroom before! There are endless possibilities! 

Backgrounds // Pale backgrounds are obviously the ones to go for in this instance, and I find whites, neutrals, and pale pinks the best. If you choose a room with light decor, it will enable you to create a brighter image, as pale surfaces reflect light better than dark ones. 

Minimise shadows // Unless you're into moody dark images, shadows are your worst enemy. A single shadow has the ability to ruin a great photo, and it's key to try and minimise them if you want to create light/bright images. If you're photographing with natural light, it's important to make sure you are doing so at the right time of day. Personally I find early morning/late afternoon the perfect times to take any images, as the sun isn't as high in the sky. Another tip is to keep larger props towards the edge of the viewfinder so they don't cast a shadow on any other props!

Exposure // If you own a DSLR, you'll probably know all about exposure. But if you don't, exposure determines what is picked up by the camera's sensor. It is controlled by three different camera settings - ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. These three settings combined (forming the 'exposure triangle'), give an exposure value that is specific to each image. Play around with the camera settings, and see if your images come out brighter. 

If all else fails, edit // Sometimes, no matter what you do - your photos turn out as dark as Marilyn Manson's eyeliner. In this instance it's important to use some sort of editing software. Personally I love Photoshop but there are many other alternatives out there! A lot of my friends like to use Lightroom as they find it a lot quicker to edit with, but I find it a bit more complicated than it should be so it takes me forever. If your budget doesn't extend to software costing ~£1000, there are many cheaper options. For example, you can subscribe to Photoshop/Lightroom from as little as £8.57pm! Plus there's the 30 day free trial if you've never used it before!




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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Back To University Goals Revisited

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but tomorrow I start my final year of university. MY FINAL YEAR! I really don't know where the time has gone, and I just know this year is going to go just as fast, if not faster than the previous two years combined. This time last year I set myself a few goals for what I wanted to achieve over my second year, and seeing as I start back tomorrow I thought this be the perfect time to reflect on my progress and set myself some more goals for the year ahead. Last year the majority of my goals focused around being more prepared for assignments, and not spending all my money on ASOS. I can honestly say that I achieved all of last years goals (even if I wasn't as successful with the ASOS one); I started all my assignments in good time, I started revising for my exams months in advance, and I looked a lot less homeless and didn't turn up to any of my lecturers with sopping wet hair. As for this year, I want to set some serious goals because the level of my success determines whether I graduate with a First or with a 2:1. 

Keep organised // I mentioned last year that I wanted to be more organised and I'd really like to carry this through into this year. It's amazing how more productive you can be if you actually know what you're supposed to be doing. I've repurchased the Busy B academic diary, and I'm ridiculously excited to write in all my assignments and things as it helped keep me nice and organised last year! 

Take breaks // Remember at the start of this year when I took a break from blogging? Well that was all due to the stress caused from my first semester back last year. As the year went on I found ways to cope with my stress, and I've learnt the hard way that it is important to take regular breaks. I need to remember this for the year ahead as I have a feeling that this is going to be the most stressful year of my life! #bringiton

Remember the end goal // Since I was first introduced to the idea of going to university I have wanted to graduate with a First class degree. I managed to get through first year with a good 2:1 without even trying (ok there was some trying), and last year I averaged at 68.5% which was 4% higher than the year before. As long as I try my hardest this year and pull out all the stops, I am in with a serious chance of scraping through university with a First class honours degree!

Statistics // Last year I developed some sort of crazy understanding of statistics and it made my life so much easier (hello 95% in my statistics exam)! I hope to be able to keep this up because I'll need that knowledge for my major research project!! So my plan is to keep on top of all my recommended reading because I have definitely noticed the benefits to actually doing it. 

Eat well & exercise // My university geniusly added a Starbucks near the main entrance last year, and sometimes it was just too hard to resist a venti hot chocolate with cream. And although I usually workout most mornings before uni, I felt quite guilty for the amount of times I got a Starbucks just for the sake of getting one. So for this year I plan to carry on exercising regularly (once my ankle permits obvs), and to maybe get back on track with my 'diet'. 

Have you got any goals for the year ahead?


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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

My Favourite Lush Shower Gels

You all know how I love a bit of Lush, heck 'bit' is an understatement - give me allllll the Lush! But one of my most recent obsessions is their shower creams. And in the year since I first discovered them, I have grown quite a collection. Now don't get me wrong, I don't use these for every single bath/shower - I only use them when I'm ill, it's a special occasion, or as a post-workout treat. So I thought I do a post sharing my favourite picks!
The Comforter // The Comforter was obviously the first shower cream that I ever bought. Slightly fitting after it's bubble bar companion was the first product I ever bought from Lush way back when I thought the tooth fairy was still a thing. I've probably bought 3 bottles over the space of a year, and I love it more and more with every use. I honestly can't see myself getting sick of this scent anytime soon!

Twilight // This is probably one of my top three shower gels from Lush, but annoyingly you can only buy it as a 100ml bottle in the 'Relax' gift set! Last month it was available online as a Lush Kitchen exclusive, but was sold out within minutes so I wasn't able to get my hands on a bigger bottle *cries*. It is the shower gel form of the Twilight bath bomb, and my oh my does it smell good. Forget that, 'good' is a massive understatement - it smells I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E!

Snow Fairy // I'd not tried this cult classic before last christmas, and I'm already making space to stock up when the christmas range is released later on this year! It has the same scent as the Candy Mountain bubble bar which is another christmassy favourite of mine (and another I'll be stocking up on when it comes out). Snow fairy has a rather sickly sweet smell that some people can't stand, but again it's in my top three Lush shower gels. It smells rather like candyfloss, and I have loved using it over the course of the summer!

Prince Charming // A limited edition for Valentine's day that, like Snow Fairy is only released for a brief period of time every year. As this isn't as popular as other limited editions, you can usually buy this for months after Valentine's Day - as I am writing this it is still available to buy online. This one is on the sweeter side, and smells like fresh pomegranate seeds and vanilla, so is perfect for the transition in and out of summer. 
It's Raining Men // This is one of my favourites when I'm feeling a bit under the weather, as the soothing smell of honey is the perfect pick me up! Because honey is one of the main ingredients, it has antiseptic properties which make it perfect for cleaning yourself up. If I'm feeling particularly fancy, I use it as a shampoo to wash my hair. Many people don't realise that you can actually do this with Lush shower gels, but trust me you can! 

Beautiful // This is probably the sassiest of all the shower gels I own. Packed with peaches, apricots, and enough glitter to out sparkle a unicorn, you can't not like this! It's the kind of shower gel that puts a smile on your face as soon as you pick up the bottle. It also has a certain muskiness to it so the gentlemen out there may like to try this one!

Don't Rain On My Parade // I LOVE the colour of this shower gel, the dark forest green! Divine! Plus the Funny Girl reference is a hit with me, heck any musical reference is a hit with me. With blueberry, vanilla, violet, and ylang ylang it smells slightly like Johnson's baby oil so it feels like a bit of a throwback to the 90s!

Yummy Mummy // Probably my least favourite in my collection, but I still like it nonetheless. It was a mother's day release earlier this year, and I all intentions to give it to my mum, but I simply didn't have the motivation. I couldn't bare to part with it! It has a slight shimmer to it, but nothing like 'Beautiful', and has a fruity/floral scent. I'm not sure if I would buy it again next year, but I will certainly enjoy using the rest of my current bottle!

What is your favourite shower gel?


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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Currently Trying

 I've been a bit naughty and bought a couple of new beauty bits recently, and I've been trying them out over the past month or so. I haven't really bought any beauty product for a while, but after running out of a few bits I decided to try something a bit different. Some of which I'm loving, and some of which I'm not completely sold on. 
After months (possibly even years) of deliberation, I finally took the plunge and purchased the Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm. At £9.50 a pop, I had to find out whether it was worth the price before I picked it up. I really wish I'd bought it earlier as it is hands down the best lip balm I've ever used. It feels so luxurious to apply, and isn't at all sticky. I like to apply it when I do my skincare routine before I go to bed, and by morning, my lips are like new. I'll will definitely not be switching back to cheapy chapsticks! Speaking of not cheap, I had a bit of a skin crisis and went browsing the internet for anything, and I mean anything. I found a couple of blog posts about the Estée Lauder Clear Difference Advanced Blemish Serum, with people noting that it has completely altered their skin. On a whim, I bought it and to be completely honest, I won't be repurchasing it when mine runs out. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting it to work miracles, but I hoped it would do something. I'm used just over half of it, and I really don't think it has done anything for my skin. It feels nice to use, but if there are no visible benefits I don't see the point. 

Another product I'm not too sure on is the Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist. I bought this after Viviannadoesmakeup mentioned it on her Youtube channel, and I was sure I would love it. But I don't think I do. I'm not too keen on the smell - it's very 'botanical'. As long as a product doesn't smell like vomit, I don't usually mind what it smells like - but I really do not like this particular scent. Similar to the Estée Lauder serum, I'm not sure it actually does anything. I'll keep trying it, but again, I don't think I'll be repurchasing. Something I will most definitely be repurchasing is the NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder. This is the first loose powder I've ever tried, and my oh my I love it. Besides being one of the messiest products I own (seriously it gets everywhere) it wears well and looks flawless. It minimises shine in the most natural of ways, and most importantly keeps things exactly where they should be. 

Have you tried anything I've mentioned? What are your thoughts?



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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Getting Ready For University with Dunelm

The autumn weather is starting to make an appearance, and with it brings my favourite season. A season for fresh starts, colourful leaves, crisp winter air, and of course - getting ready for university. When it comes to shopping for things to fill your new accommodation, it can be quite easy to go overboard and waste money on items that will be left unused by the end of the year. With every box that gets packed up, it's easy to get carried away when deciding what you really need to take with you. It's important to make your flat look homely, but you do need to be logical and think about what you can actually fit in your car. So when Dunelm got in touch offering to help me get ready for my final year at university, I jumped at the chance! I've teamed up with Dunelm and three other bloggers, and we have each picked our student essentials from one section of their killer checklist, so freshers know exactly what they need to take with them!
I was given the cleaning section of the checklist, and I think it includes some really simple items that people often forget. I'd suggest leaving bin liners until you've moved in as you could buy them as a flat, same goes for an iron/ironing board - you won't need 6 irons! My university provided these, and I only ever saw them get used about a dozen times. Coathangers are a must unless you want to store all your clothes on the floor, as universities don't usually provide them. A clothes airer is an essential, because it saves money when doing your laundry - you don't have to pay to use the tumble dryer! From the cleaning section, my three essentials are:
Towels // Everybody needs plenty of towels to take with them to university, and you will be surprised at how versatile they can be. Besides the obvious, you can use towels to make a makeshift ironing board, as a draft excluder, as an extra blanket in the winter months (trust me, student accommodation gets cold), or even as a tablecloth for a christmas dinner with your flatmates! I took two bath sheets, 2 hand towels, and 7 flannels with me when I first moved away. Looking back, I wish I'd have taken more bath towels with me as it would have saved me a few trips to the laundrette, but these things come with experience. And when you pay per load, it makes sense to fill the machine as much as possible! When picking out some towels to feature, I couldn't decide which to get! Dunelm has so many different colours and patterns! In the end I mainly opted for the Egyption Cotton Towels in 'Lagoon' as they match my bathroom perfectly! But 'Cornflour', 'Duck Egg', and 'Grape',' also made it into my basket in flannel form! In terms of quality these towels are so soft and luxurious - I will definitely be buying my towels from Dunelm in the future! 

Bath Mat // I can't speak for other halls of residence, but the showers in my first year halls were notorious for flooding. Every time you'd take a shower, the whole bathroom floor, and some of your bedroom carpet would be soaked! So a bath mat is a must! I'd recommend taking two, to give time them to dry out between showers. Plus a funky bath mat allows you to add your own personal touch to a plain white bathroom. I picked the Bobble Bath Mat in 'Lagoon' to match the towels I'd picked out, but again there were so many to choose from! The simple bobble design makes it extra absorbent for those little flooding emergencies too! Plus, the bobbles are so squishy, it feels like you're walking on air!

Laundry Basket // When I first moved to university, I didn't think about buying a laundry basket, and it was only when I arrived that I realised that I didn't have one. I'd wanted to pick up this cotton rope laundry bag, because of its simple design and practicality - the collapsable design allowing you to fold it away for moving day, or when you have friends over to stay. But when I got into the store, it was out of stock, but whilst walking round the Curver Knit Basket caught my eye. They had a couple of different sizes and colours, but I picked up the 30 litre size in 'Blue'. The two sturdy handles make it perfect for lugging to the laundrette across campus, plus, you can use it to transport things in when the time comes to move out!
In the end, I also picked up a few bits from the Geo Skandi tableware range. Although my kitchen is full to bursting, the matching mugs, plates, and bowls were too hard to leave behind! I couldn't choose a colour, so I picked up one of each to mix and match! Plus, they were all reasonably priced, so if any of your roommates happen to drop something on the floor they are all easily replaced without burning a hole in your purse.

What are your student essentials for back to school season?




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This post contains products sent to me for the purpose of a review. All thoughts are my own and you can read my full disclaimer policy here
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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Introducing: The Happiness Boutique



Now if you've ever had the pleasure of meeting me in person (or you've been reading here for a while) you'll know that I am a big fan of simple jewellery. I'm not the kind of person you'll find wearing a massive statement necklace, a really chunky bracelet, or big dangly earrings. So when the  lovely people at Happiness Boutique got in touch to see if I'd like to sample a piece of their jewellery I was straight onto their website to see what they had to offer. I was pleased to see that they offer a wide range of jewellery, catering for both the statement piece lovers, the simple gals, and everyone inbetween. 
I picked out this gorgeous rose gold wishbone necklace, because cmon' it's rose gold. When I received it, I was shocked at how nicely it was packaged! It came parceled in a lovely jewellery box, decorated with a layer of tissue paper. There was a business card, a little care card telling you how to keep your piece looking nice, and for good measure there was even a quote that read;
I thought that was such a lovely touch, and alongside the gorgeous necklace, I'll definitely be checking out more from them! The Happiness Boutique have an exclusive collection of products that are designed by themselves in Berlin. You can check out all their wonderful pieces here.

Have you bought anything from the Happiness Boutique before?



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This post contains products sent to me for the purpose of a review. All thoughts are my own and you can read my full disclaimer policy here
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