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

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

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Currently Loving

I'm trying to stay away from the more traditional monthly favourite style posts, so I thought I'd do a currently loving kinda series, with posts as and when I feel like them. I mean, how on earth is one expected to have so many favourites each and every month. Like I mean I only own so many things! It's been a quiet few months for me recently, being confined to four walls for the whole summer (read about that here) has meant I've worn the very basics in the makeup department. I mean I don't really want to be turning up to physiotherapy looking like Ru Paul now do I? 

So face-wise, I've been sticking to light bases like the Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint. It gives quite a medium coverage, but looks and feels so natural - like you're not wearing anything at all! In terms of shade, I have 'Bare' which according to Liz Earle 'suits most alabaster complexions', and I think it's safe to say that it would suit most low maintenance vampires. Speaking of vampire suitable products, I've been setting the skin tint with the NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder. I've not tried a loose powder before and I'm so mad at myself for that! But then you could say I was waiting to meet the man powder of my dreams. And it's safe to say I have! The first time I applied it I just couldn't help but stare at myself in the mirror - it left my skin looking so smooth! In terms of staying power it lasted as long as my usual powder, which has pretty decent longevity fyi. 

After having a massive beauty clearout, I've been expanding my Essie collection because yanno Essie. The last time I was browsing the aisles of Boots I picked up the shades 'Eternal Optimist' (dusty pink shade) and 'In Stitches' (brown toned pink). Both of which have been alternated on my toes since the day I bought them #obsessed. I currently have on 'Eternal Optimist', and it has received compliments from all who have had the pleasure of seeing my feet. 

What have you been loving recently?

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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Learning To Be More Independent

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will” - Charlotte Brontë

Independence. Something we crave more and more as we grow older, but something little of us know how to actually achieve. I don't consider myself totally independent, but I do believe that I have the ability provide and look after myself. I wouldn't say that I felt independent until I started university in 2014. Up until that point I completely relied on my mum. Living in a rural village with no transport links, I relied on her to take me everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Moving to a university just outside of the bustling city centre, I suddenly had the ability to go anywhere I wanted - at any time. So here I am offering my advice on how to become a little more independent. 

Learn to drive // This ones a bit of a biggie, although I realise it isn't for everyone. Learning to drive has played a massive role in my quest to become more independent. I passed my driving test (first time woo) when I was 17, and it took me ages to save up and be in the position to afford my own car. I was able to purchase my little car around a week before my 19th birthday and I honestly don't know how I survived without one. I now have the ability to go anywhere I want when I want, and it has made my life so much easier - even if I'm always the designated driver. 

Master transportation // If driving isn't for you, I would advise mastering some form of public transportation - either buses or trains. I hate buses with a passion and I am terrible when it comes to getting on them. Knowing which bus to get on, how to buy a ticket, and where to get off - I just struggle with it completely. But trains. I am the master of trains. I know Leeds train station like the back of my hand and I know what trains come in at what time, what time they leave. I know which trains are the busiest, the length of each journey, and pretty much everything there is to know about commuting via train. 

Get a job // I don't have a job at the moment (plz someone hire me), but I do my fair amount of volunteer work. I have volunteered in a high school for a year, and it is amazing how much independence it brings you. A job gives you valuable work experience, and a steady income allowing you to save up for the bigger things in life. Driving lessons? A car? A flat? All of which give you independence! 

Manage your money // This one links in with the point above, as it means you will be able to develop a sense of financial independence. Can you really afford that ASOS haul?, is that perfume going to push you into your overdraft? Set a budget and stick to it! Put any spare money into a savings account and save towards something special! My savings account is currently dedicated towards saving up for a house/flat deposit - I know I have nowhere near enough at the moment, but every penny helps!

Learn to cook // Do you really think successful business people eat takeaways and ready meals every day? No. Learning to cook puts you in control of what goes into your body. Buy a recipe book and try whipping up a few meals. You might enjoy yourself, and you will almost certainly enjoy the food you make!

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