Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Twenty on Twenty

Today marks my twentieth birthday, and now that I am no longer a teenager (cries) I feel like I'm in a good position to look back on my twenty years to see what I've learnt.

  • If you don't want or enjoy the same things as your friends that is ok. 
  • Balance is always key. Always. 
  • As tempting as it is, don't spend all your money on clothes and other inessentials. There are always other things that will bring you more happiness. 
  • Your age does not define your abilities. 
  • Live in the now, not the future or the past. 
  • Always be humble and kind. 
  • Comparison really is the thief of joy. Comparing yourself to someone else really will make you miserable. 
  • A good night's sleep can solve almost anything. 
  • Regular exercise is important and will make you feel incredible. So force yourself to do it even if you don't want to.
  • You really do get to a point where you don't care what other people think. 
  • It is important to make a bit of time for yourself on an everyday basis. Even if it is just a quick soak in the bath. 
  • The more effort you put into something, the more you get out of it. 
  • It is really easy to keep plants alive, no matter what people say. Just remember to water them. 
  • Friendships come and go, it's not the worst thing in the world. 
  • If you want something, ask for it. 
  • Ditch the makeup wipes. A good skincare routine is essential. 
  • Everyone feels scared about growing up at some point, no matter how much they might hide it. 
  • Having a driving license changes everything.
  • It is incredibly difficult to eat Ben and Jerry's off a plate. #firstworldproblems
  • Nothing will ever be as hard as life as a teenager. Nothing.

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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Recent Beauty Buys

I love a good beauty haul, and it's been a rather long time since I last bought anything beauty related. When I noticed I was running a little low on my moisturiser and my everyday perfume was getting dangerously low, I decided to have a little browse through Feelunique, and restocked on my moisturiser, picked up a new perfume, and generally treated myself to a few things (with my student discount obv). As I'm recently getting back into blogging, I thought this post would be nice and simple to ease my way back into things. So here we go!

Firstly, I picked up my beloved Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser for Normal/Combination skin. I've used this nearly everyday for the last 2-3 years, and I can't live without it! I usually purchase the monthly deal from Liz Earle's website, but I was only low on the moisturiser so I just thought I'd pick this up. I know it works out more expensive in the long run, but I've been really trying to use up all my products and just keep what I enjoy using. Speaking of enjoying, I received a little 'try me' sample of the Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture perfume a while ago, and I immediately fell in love. I wouldn't usually buy something from a brand like Juicy Couture, but the perfume speaks for itself. Yes the packaging is a little too tacky for my taste, but I'll probably lose the lid in a week anyway. Plus the 30ml bottle was on offer for £18.50 so it was a win win really. 
Since we have started getting the odd few days of sun, I thought it important to pick up an SPF designed specifically for the face. I have recently read Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes, and she says it is vital that you wear a facial SPF, so after consulting with my fave beauty blogs, I picked up the La Roche Posay 50+ Anthelios XL. I have fair skin and burn like crazy, so I thought I'd take better care of my skin this summer to avoid looking like a lobster. If I do end up catching the sun a bit too much I bought the Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist. I heard Vivianna Does Makeup talk about it in a skincare video or something or other, and I thought it sounded perfect for my skin! I've used it a couple of times already and tbh save your money. It doesn't smell too nice and doesn't have any noticeable effects. #sozaveda

And finally, I caved and bought the Nuxe Réve De Miel lipbalm, and HOLY SMOKES IT'S GOOD. It is some sort of miracle worker that gives you new lips overnight. The price was the only thing that put me off but seriously, put the Vaseline in the bin and buy a pot of this - you will not regret it. I promise! Plus it looks cute on your bedside table, and tastes delicious if you're into eating lipbalm.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Two Years On: What I've Learnt

Yesterday marks my second year blogging anniversary. Whaaaaaaaat. I can't even believe I'm saying this! Two years have absolutely flown by, and there hasn't been a moment where I regretted hitting publish on that Friday afternoon. There has been the odd occasion where I've thought I'd had enough, and that I wanted to delete my blog. But then I think about what I've created, and I think why the hell would you want to delete something you've spent countless hours working on. It's funny because the other day I was sat thinking about how long ago that Friday seems, and how much I've changed over the past two years. And on Monday, the craziest thing in the world happened, and I somehow managed to hit 2000 followers. TWO THOUSAND! Madness! So in honor of these two years, I wanted to share a few tidbits and reflections. Things I’ve learned from the past two years, and what I hope to remember for the year ahead. 
  1. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to take a break.
  2. Spreadsheets are everything. How did I manage to keep myself organised over my first year? Like seriously - excel has become my best friend.
  3. Taking fashion photos on your own is bloody hard.
  4. HTML will always be terrifying and it's perfectly ok to pay someone to sort it out for you.
  5. As with anything in life, blogging will always have it's ups and downs.
  6. Blogging events are hella scary.
  7. It's good to be different.
  8. People don't get angry when you're late putting up a post because you've had one to many cocktails the night before.
  9. Blogging is a hell of a lot of work.
  10. Keep things fresh and blogging won't get boring.
  11. If something doesn't feel right, don't do it.
  12. It's nice to be nice.
  13. The blogging world is a place to grow.
  14. It's not about being the best. It's about being you.
  15. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. 

How long have you been blogging?

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Reading List - Number 3

Now that I've finished university for the summer, I have endless hours to sit and read in the garden. I always look forward to having ~6 months to relax and read all the books that I haven't had the chance to enjoy over the rest of the year. Over the last couple of months I have been splurging on loads of books ready for the moment I submitted my last assignment. So again, I thought I would share with you another instalment of my 'The Reading List' series. These books are the ones at the top of my list and the ones that will probably get read within the next fortnight!
The Society of the Crossed Keys - Stefan Zweig // The Grand Budapest Hotel was recently added onto Netflix, and out of sheer exam revision procrastination I watched it. AND LOVED IT. As soon as the credits went up I went online to seek out the book on which it was based. At first I was a little confused as it didn't seem to be based on one particular book and rather a collection of short stories. I bought the collection in the hopes that it will tell a similar story to the film, and I can only let you know how I get on with it!

The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger // A book I have been meaning to buy for forever. The Devil Wears Prada used to be one of my favourite films and I have watched it countless times. I was actually sorting through my Amazon wishlist when I found it hidden away and it immediately went straight into my basket! I'm sure I will love it as much as the film, and I will keep you posted on my thoughts once I start reading it!

Emotional Agility - Susan David // This book has been floating around my Amazon basket since its release in April, and I've actually had it saved under the premise of doing some academic reading. It has very recently made an impact on the blogging community and I finally picked it up so I can read it over the summer. If you didn't already know I'm a psychology undergraduate and I take an immense interest in anything related to mental health. Although this book deals with a potentially complex subject matter, it seems to be an easy and compelling read. Of the many books I've read on emotional intelligence, this is the one I have been the most excited to read.

Forensics, The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid // I've always been interested in crime. TV programmes, books, films - you name it I've probably watched/read it long before you've even heard of it. At the start of the year I selected my final year modules and of course Forensic Psychology was at the top of my list (with Business Psychology at the bottom obv), and I thought I would get a head start by reading this. The book discusses anything and everything to do with crime. The books charts centuries of development in forensic techniques with references to well known crimes and atrocities. From first glance, the book covers a wide range of subjects from toxicology, fingerprinting, blood spatter, and DNA, to facial reconstruction, and digital forensics.

Bridget Jones Mad About The Boy - Helen Fielding // I've been having a bit of a clear out recently and I found this stuffed at the back of a drawer. I've only recently finished re-reading the Edge of Reason, so it feels like the perfect time to get stuck into the final installment of the Bridget Jones series. Plus I clearly have to read it before the film version comes out in September!!

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote // One of my all time favourite films.  I love anything with Audrey Hepburn in, and I wanted to read the book it was based on. I thought for ages that I already had this book, but it turns out not! I remember picking it up in Waterstones almost 2 years ago to the day, but I clearly didn't follow through and purchase it! The other day I was browsing through the Penguin Modern Classics collection list, and it reminded me I still needed to read it - so here it is on my list!

Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov // I'm quite a fan of classic novels. I've read quite a few in my lifetime (lmao makes me sound about 87), and again this is one I have been meaning to pick up for a while. It's about a pervert, who becomes obsessed with 12 year old Lolita and the book follows him on his quest to 'possess' her. It looks like a bit of a controversial read, but I can't wait to get into it nonetheless.

I have masses of time on my hands so if you have any recommendations of what I should read next, please leave them in the comments!! 

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A Guide To Surviving Your Second Year At University

Around a year ago I shared with you my advice for getting through your first year at university, and I felt it only fitting to update my post in time for those of you who are about to start your second year. Some of you may have had a tough time over the last year, and I can relate, but it would be an understatement to say that it is going to get harder this year. So lets cut straight to it...

Only be there if you want to be // Again this is a no brainer. If you are only at university because you feel it is the right thing to do, drop out. You may have completed one year, but if you really didn't enjoy it there is no point staying on for the rest of your course. Even if you decide later on that you wish you had stayed, most places allow you to pick up where you left off, which is a good option for those who still aren't sure.

Get organised // I said it last year and I'll say it again now, YOU NEED TO GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. If you haven't found a way to manage your schedule during your first year, then god help you for September. If you thought last year was hectic, you need to have a flick through a dictionary. Second year steps up massively. You'll probably have more assignments, they will most likely be harder, and will most definitely count towards your overall grade. Try keeping a diary, buy a desk planner, write to-do lists, and prioritise what is the most important. 

Compete with yourself // Try and set some goals to build on the grades you got over the last year. If you got 60% in a module, aim for 65% this year. Competing with yourself can keep you motivated, and will hopefully allow you succeed. 

Find a group of friends that 'get it' // This is probably the most important piece of advice I could ever give any one. I would NOT have survived without the support of my friends. We have inside jokes, and a lot of them revolve around everything being 'on fire'. On Facebook Messenger our group chat emoji is the little fire icon instead of the usual thumbs up. If you don't have anyone to support you in your meltdowns, to rant to, to stress with, and generally cry to - you will have a much harder time this year. Having a group of friends that 'get it' will really help you! Plus, friends that stress together stay together.

Create a budget and stick to it // I'm sure many of you made a budget last year, and this year it will be more important to tighten your belt. It is a little known fact that you get considerably less student finance during your third year of university. This isn't the case for every student, although it isn't worth risking not being able to get by in your final year. 

Get to know the library // This is vital. If you haven't stepped foot in your university library to date, then you have serious issues. You will need to learn how to sign out books, where past exam papers are located, how to access journal articles etc. If you haven't been in your library, I'd get some major advice from a friend or get in contact with your course's library assistant if you have one!

Get advice from a third year // This links in with the point above. This year a third year told me where all the exam papers are kept in the library and I wish I knew her name to thank her for her golden advice. Remember those above you have experienced everything you are experiencing, and the majority of them will have regrets. Just make sure you follow through on the advice they give!

Back up your laptop // FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST DO IT. The chances of losing your work may seem slim, but believe me it can happen. It didn't happen to me this year, but it has in the past and believe me it is the worst thing that could ever happen. Ever. 

Invest in a student travel card // I'm a commuter. I don't live in a student house, I travel to and from Leeds every day that I'm in university. Before going back in September, have a look at student rail/bus cards and see if they are worth investing in. For me it worked out cheaper to buy my tickets as and when I needed them, but for some it can save you £££s over the course of the year! Some travel companies sell combined rail/bus discount cards which can be extremely useful if you travel regularly!

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Recipe: Iranian Shirazi Salad

For me it is finally starting to feel like summer - I've just about finished university and I'm ready to collapse and do nothing for the summer holidays. I'm rather partial to a salad, especially when it comes to summertime, but sometimes you just fancy something a bit nicer than iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and a few slices of cucumber. And last summer, whilst looking for a new salad recipe to try out, I stumbled across the Iranian Shirazi salad. With just a couple of simple ingredients, you'd think it would be pretty bland and boring. But you'd be wrong. This is up there in my top 5 salads that I've ever eaten (alongside a gorgeous apple and rocket one that I'll probably end up sharing at some point!) - and I've eaten a lot of salads. 

Makes: 4-5 servings (as a main meal or 6-8 as a side salad)

  • 2 cucumbers (or 4 Persian cucumbers if you can get hold of them)
  • 4 medium salad tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion
  • Handful of fresh mint - finely chopped
  • Juice of a large lemon
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
Step one. 
To a large bowl, add the juice of a lemon and the chopped mint. 

Step two. 
Chop up the cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion into really, really small cubes, and add to the bowl. Mix really well to make sure all the veggies are coated with the lemon and mint, and can absorb the delicious flavours! Traditionally everything is chopped up really small so you can have a taste of each ingredient in every mouthful. 

Step three. 
Season with salt and pepper - I don't add salt to pretty much anything, so I just used the pepper and I thought that was more than enough alongside the fresh veggies, the lemon and the mint!

And there you have it! A delicious salad! As always, please let me know if you have a go at making this and tell me whether or not you liked it!

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

How I Got Over Chronic Stress And Made Myself Happier In The Process

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I have just returned after some time away from blogging as I was feeling incredibly stressed, and it was starting to affect how I lived my daily life. Some of you will be sat reading this thinking that I'm a drama queen, but when you've had a constant eye twitch for the best part of 6 months, higher than normal anxiety, and difficulty concentrating on anything for longer than 5 minutes - you know you need to get your stress under control. Over the last few months I've been trying different ways to help manage stress, and I've found a few fun and easy things that have really helped to drastically reduce my stress levels and make me happier. 

Exercise // It's a well known fact that exercise is an excellent stress-management technique, and it can do wonders for your health. Over the last 6 months I've been exercising regularly, and besides actually enjoying it (surprisingly), I've found myself feeling a lot happier and more relaxed. A quick 15 minute workout in the morning leaves me feeling energetic and focused throughout the day. It has helped me set better goals and has left me feeling more productive. 

Reading // I loooooove reading. I always have a massive stack of books on my bedside table for me to read through. Infact I have just placed a little book order on Amazon this afternoon. I know it sounds cliché but reading can transport you to another world. You don't have to read fiction books, an autobiography or even a cookery book could help distract you for your everyday worries. 

Art // I've always been creative. I took creative GCSE subjects, creative A-Levels, and since then I've just abandoned my creative roots. Taking an academic degree I simply haven't had the time, but the other week I found one of my old sketchbooks and since then I have been doing a lot of quick (and some not so quick) drawings. Even if you aren't so good at drawing, with all these adult colouring books on the market there is something for everyone!

Putting the phone down // For the last few months I have been locking my phone away in a drawer for entire weekends. 48 hours without a phone glued to my hand. You'll be surprised at how relaxed you feel by Monday morning. I know some people think 2 days a week without your phone is a little drastic, but I really enjoy those 2 days. I'm not strict with myself, so if I'm going out somewhere I make sure I take my phone with me in case of an emergency, but I make a conscious effort not to sit and scroll through my social media. Try putting your phone away from a couple of hours in the weekend and see how you feel afterwards. I guarantee you'll feel better. 

Scheduling some 'me time' // I made it my New Year's Resolution to set aside 15 minutes of each day to spend some time with myself without any technology. I'll sit with a few candles lit, read a book, draw, flick through a magazine, or even write all my thoughts down on a piece of paper. Every Sunday night I set myself up for the week ahead by running a hot bath, lighting a bucket load of candles, grabbing a Lush bath bomb and relaxing in the bath with a good book. Spending a bit of time doing something I enjoy makes my day 110% better and I look forward to that moment in my day. 

Listening to music // Music can be exceptionally relaxing. It doesn't have to be whale music or anything ridiculous, just the sound of a band you love is enough to calm you down in the most stressful of moments. I love to pop my headphones in on the train or blast my radio whilst cruising down the motorway. 

Being around water // This one may sound a little stupid, but there is a reason many people like to relax by going on beach holidays, or taking a hot bath at the end of the day. Water has a very calming effect, and research has shown that it induces a meditative state. Being around water gives our brains a rest from overstimulation. Besides having a looooong relaxing bath filled with every Lush product imaginable, I've recently got back into going swimming regularly and I love how relaxed it makes me feel. I used to go swimming 3/4 times a week until I was about 14, and used to compete for a while when I was in school. I get excited when I smell the chlorine just walking towards the building from the carpark, and I look forward to it every week. I take one of my sisters with me, and we even get a cheeky donut or croissant to eat on the way home. 

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

My Makeup Collection: Primers & Concealers

For the final installment of this series, I thought I would combine both primers and concealers as they are both base products, and I don't have many of either to warrant separate posts. These particular areas of my makeup collection are rather small as I have spent the last few years trialling different products, and managed to find the ones that work best for me and the ones I enjoy using. 

I'll start of talking about concealer as it is a pretty important product in my makeup collection, as it covers a whole multitude of sins - from breakouts to tired eyes, it gets me through the day looking less like an acne-prone zombie. Like I said, I have spent YEARS trying out different products, and now I think I have managed to find the best ones out there that work well with my skin. My all time favourite concealer is the Collection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer. This is the concealer that I always have a backup tube ready and waiting for the day I run out, as it is a staple in my everyday routine. I have been using this concealer on and off since I was about 12/13, and it has been an everyday staple for the last 3 or 4 years. It boasts a 16 hour wear, and I can definitely agree that it lasts a hell of a long time. I can put this on at 6am, and it will still be pretty much intact by the time I'm taking my makeup off at around 8pm. It is super-high coverage, making a perfect option for me and I know I will use it for years to come!

A more recent addition to my collection is the Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer. I think this is an excellent all-round concealer, and is perfect for covering up the signs of a late night. I wouldn't say it was the best in terms of coverage, but it is pretty good! This is my favourite product to take with me on the go - I always have one in my car AND in my handbag for those little touch up emergencies! I honestly couldn't be without it! The Soap and Glory Kick Ass Concealer is another that is great for on the go touch ups. The handy little compact comes with two different concealer shades, a mirror, a setting powder and a powder pouffe. The concealer itself is pretty heavy duty and is the one I turn to when all else fails.

In terms of primers, I'm not too fused. I mainly apply them to keep my makeup on longer. So whatever the claims of a product I'm not too fussed. I own the Body Shop All-In-One Instablur and the Body Shop Tea Tree primer, but my favourite by far is the Benefit Porefessional. It is slightly tinted so I feel it offers a bit of coverage (which I seriously need atm). But if you're on a budget then the effects of the Instablur are pretty similar!

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