Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Christmas Gift Guide - For Him


Now, I don't know about you but I find men the hardest to buy for when it comes to Christmas. They don't have Amazon wishlists ready to throw at you the way girls do and its easy to fall into the boring trap of socks and novelty t-shirts (not that these ever go unappreciated). 

I've had a browse and tried to think a little more outside the box with this gift guide. Whether you're buying for your boyfriend, dad, brother, uncle or grandad there's hopefully something to suit any taste or budget!



Under £30
2. Remote control helicopter, £25.00, Boots

Under £50
3. Crew neck cable knit jumper, £32.00, Asos
4. Reiss luxury mens collection, £35.00, Boots
5. Jack Spade leather card holder, £45.00, John Lewis

Over £50
6. Crosley Cruiser turntable, £79.99, Argos

Has this post inspired your Christmas shopping? Let me know what you think!
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Christmas Gift Guide - For Her



Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the inspirational women in your life, and what better way to show them how much you appreciate them than by nailing their present. Whether you're searching for the perfect prezzie for your mum, gran, sister or best bud, I've found some great gifts I wanted to share with you all in this guide.

To be honest much of this also reads as my letter to Santa for this year, so I'm secretly hoping someone I know 'irl' will get the hint! I've sort of divided them into rough price brackets, and I've kept fairly conservative with prices ranging from £9-£95 as I know that most of us aren't superstar vloggers making six figures. If I could buy every lady in my life a Chloe bag then believe me I would but let's be real!

I've tried to think outside the box as I love giving and receiving unique things, but have also included some classics like Soap and Glory and Olivia Burton because they just make ideal gifts.

Under £20 
1. Sass & Belle Copper Jewellery Stand, £9 (from Asos)
2. Bomb Cosmetics Mistletoe Kiss Gift Box, £12.99
3. Sass & Belle Awesome Cushion, £17.00 (from Asos)
4. H&M Pizza Pyjamas, £17.99 
5. Soap and Glory gift box by Philip Colbert, £18.00 (from Boots)


Up to £100
6. Urban Decay Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette, £38.00
7. Kate Spade Pearl Reverse Drop Earrings, £50.00
8. Olivia Burton Winter Garden Watch, £80.00 (from Selfridges)
9. Viktor Rolf Flowerbomb EDP 50ml, £74.00 (from Selfridges)
10. Lush Spa Hard Days Night Treatment Voucher, £95.00

Has this post inspired your Christmas shopping? Let me know what you think!

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Monday, 23 November 2015

My new favourite nail polishes


I've found a new make of nail polish to shout about and it's made my very happy. I love my nails looking 'done' but I'm too fickle to invest in gels because I like a new colour every week. That said, crap nail varnish that chips like crazy is also not all that convenient. 

Rimmel nail varnish has always featured in my collection because of their fab colour range, but the Salon Pro varnishes trump your classic 60-second speed dry paints by a long shot. I've been trying out the shades Urban Purple (a vibrant purple-magenta that's perfect for autumn/winter) and Soul Session (a soft pink from the Kate Moss shade range that's not too girlyfied), both of which only require 2 coats and dry fairly quickly.


When paired with a base and top coat these varnishes will easily last the working week, and I'll then repaint at the weekend so my hands are looking fresh for work on Monday. I don't know if that has something to do with the lycra that's in the formula but it would make sense. Not only this but they're a total steal at under a fiver each. Lush.

Have you tried the Rimmel London Salon Pro polishes?

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Saturday, 21 November 2015

The best pieces of advice I've ever been given


When I was younger I honestly thought that at age 23 I would have gotten everything figured out. To be fair, I also thought by this point I'd be married to a rich man with several of my own published novels floating around in Waterstones. Lolll. Thinking about it now this was obviously quite an ambitious vision. The truth is, feeling a bit lost doesn't really stop - ever. Luckily I've grown up surrounded by people that also totally get it. Adulting is hard but I've been given a few great nuggets of advice from people along the way, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Always make time to do things you enjoy - I get massively stressed over the silliest things. I always have. That said, Mat has always pushed me to switch off and sit and do something I love for a bit to take my mind off of things. I used to think he was crazy - what could possibly be more important than completing/stressing over the task at hand? Turns out it's really helpful to take a step back and to give a bit of time just to yourself.

Only you can change something you're unhappy about - My mum has told me this on countless occasions. It definitely holds true. If you don't like your job, find a new one. If a friend is taking advantage, ditch them. If you feel like a slug, change your eating habits. Nobody is going to do it for you.

The important people in your life will always support you no matter what - My dad is like the human embodiment of this statement. I swear me and my sister could decide to go into the circus clown business and he'd still be there for us all the way. If someone is nay-saying about a decision you've made or a career path you've taken, then they don't understand what's important to you. Stuff 'em.

What are the best pieces of advice you've ever heard?
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Monday, 16 November 2015

Nice things to think about


A hug at the end of a long day

The feeling of holding a warm mug in cold hands

Messy morning hair

Friends you can count on

Small acts of kindness




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Friday, 13 November 2015

Why I'm addicted to Fallout 4


Usually I hate apology posts. You know the kind: "oh sorry I haven't been blogging I've just been super busy/mildly ill/lazy" (delete as appropriate). I don't feel like anyone should be such a slave to their blog and readers that they need to ask for forgiveness every time they opt to spend a week or so in the real world dealing with real issues. This is just a website guys.

This week however I do want to talk about the reason why I haven't posted anything for 5 days - I've gotten addicted to Fallout 4. Really badly. And I wasn't going to even acknowledge it but I know there's still a stigma around girls and gaming. This game really changes that. It's a game changer. Pun intended. I tried SO hard not to say that.

I've always played games of some description. From Gameboys (good old Mario Tennis) to PS1 to Sims and beyond. I wouldn't describe myself as a girl-gamer as such as I don't do it religiously, but I am definitely a girl who enjoys a game. In college I spent my evenings playing Call of Duty in the dark. 

Since uni though I've all but grown out of gaming. There's always dinner to be cooked, family to see, blog posts to be written, stuff to be tidied, gym classes to go to. I've also struggled to find a game that actually grabs my attention enough that I'll go back to it after all those real life adulty things get in the way. It's all war games and robots and macho-men - not that I turn my nose up at those things, but nothing felt like it was marketed towards me. 

I knew all about the previous Fallout games of course, having watched Mat play them through and having had a go myself. They always seemed interesting, and stylish. The latest installment breaks the mold and raises the bar set by other game franchises, because not only does it feature the option of playing as either a man or a woman, but the female character isn't a complete joke.


Yep, ya heard me. You control her looks and proportions, so there are no massive, sculpted butt cracks and boobs protruding into shot, and it's pretty clear from very early on that she's a strong, independent 200+ year old badass that don't need no man. Also both the man and woman wear identical tight blue suits (X-men styley) so there's nothing to complain about in terms of unfair representation in the fashion department.

Couple this with a really cool environment (set 200 years after a 1950s-retro-style America is devastated by nuclear war) and an awesome story development system that's just a little bit different to most open-world games, and I'm nothing short of hooked. It's beautiful and exciting and pretty addictive.

I know there are girls out there who might read this (most of my readers are ladies) and be baffled at the very idea of gaming. It's not everyone's cup of tea. That said I think more can still be done to make these big, blockbuster games more accessible to women. Too often we see them sexualised or presented as weak - Fallout 4 shows it doesn't have to be that way. 

So yeah, a game has totally taken over my life this week. Since Tuesday night I've literally just come through the door after work, fed myself as quickly as possible and then played until way past bedtime. The best thing? I don't regret it one bit. I'm sure normal service will resume as soon as I realise I haven't washed my hair for 5 days and should probably do something productive. 

Do any of you guys play games or are you put off by them?


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Monday, 9 November 2015

4 ways to make your blog look and feel more professional


Get a professionally designed template - When you're first starting out, paying for a professional blog design is probably not on the radar. As you become more established though it could be a worthwhile investment, especially if you're not in a position to design your own. A slick, user friendly blog will give the impression that you mean business, and make visiting your site a pleasant experience for readers. I recently installed a Blogger theme from Pipdig - it was really easy with no messing about with HTML needed. I was up and running within half an hour, it's very customisable and I'm already seeing positive results in the form of increased traffic and longer site visits. Go for something clean and organised so that people can easily navigate content.

Make sure your imagery is up-to-scratch - The biggest blogs out there usually boast some of the most beautifully composed photography on the web. If you want to really up the quality of your visual content then there are two options. One is to get to grips with a decent camera. This doesn't necessarily have to be an SLR, but choose something that allows for some kind of manual mode and has plenty of mega-pixels so you can get the crispest images. The second option is to look at using royalty-free stock images. There are lots of sites out there that offer images under what's known as a 'creative commons license' whereby you are free to download, edit and use the image for whatever purpose you want. My favourites for this are Pexels and Unsplash - no cheese here, just good, eye-catching photography.

Proofread eeeeeeverything - I mean everything. Headers, tags, captions, tweets, the lot. There is nothing worse than going onto a chic-looking blog only to find a spelling error in the first sentence you read. A well-written, perfectly proofed blog post just screams professional. That's not to say a few occasional errors won't slip through, but reading, re-reading and having someone else read your posts before putting them live could save you many a faux pas. I'm fairly hot on my spelling but just managed to find 3 typos in this post

Purchase a domain - This was something that I did fairly quickly as I noticed I always felt more drawn to and trusting of the blogs I read that had their own domains. Having '.blogspot' or '.wordpress' in your url suggests you may be a fairly new blog or not too well-established. You can actually buy domains really cheaply from places like GoDaddy and there are plenty of tutorials available to help you link the new url to your blog platform so you should be ready to go in no time.

Have you found anything else helpful in making your blog more professional? Share your tips in the comments below!
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Thursday, 5 November 2015

A simple 5 product face



There will always be days where you might find yourself either in a rush, or without the tools you need to go for a full-on made up look. I recently found this out the hard way when trying to change up my morning routine and get to work earlier, without sacrificing the precious commodity that is sleep. With this in mind I thought I'd share a simple, easy to apply makeup menu that consists of just 5 products. I can apply all of this in 5 minutes or less, so it's idea for throwing into my bag for use at the gym or touch ups after work before heading to meet friends.

Base - I'll never be a 'makeup free' kind of girl. If other humans are seeing my face I'll be damned if they see it totally naked. Plus I need something to keep oil at bay. The tinted moisturiser from Claudalie's Vinoperfect range in 'light' is just perfect for this, giving a light coverage and smoothing out any redness or imperfections. A little tip - it's a lot cheaper to buy in France if you're over there and is available in almost every pharmacy. I think I paid the equivalent of £15 whereas here it's about double. Luckily it's a worthwhile investment regardless as this stuff lasts forever!

Concealer - I'm rarely without spots thanks to both hormones and my insanely oily skin. I used to rely on Collection's Lasting Perfection concealer but found it got cakey towards the end of the day, however I recently discovered the Seventeen Stay Time concealer and I can safely say it provides the same thick, long lasting coverage but doesn't actually feel or look cakey on. It's also great under the eyes or on any general redness.

Cheeks and lips - I can cheat a bit here since there are so many products out there that can be used on both cheeks and lips. I really like using Posie Tint by Benefit to add a little colour and glow without getting too full on.

Brows - I recently discovered the Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper gel in mahogany and it's probably the best match I've ever found for my dark brows. It's great for a more natural look than pencils give and helps thicken and fill in gaps. It's also so quick and easy to use - no forehead splodges here.

Eyes - When it comes to eyes, all you need to add a little pop is a decent mascara. I tend to prefer more budget friendly offerings as I go through loads of the stuff and brands like Maybelline and Rimmel have some really good ones. At the moment I'm back to the Seventeen VaVaVoom mascara in waterproof black (I said my skin is oily!).

What are your go-to products for a quick 5-product face?
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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

November Goals



So I made a last minute decision yesterday, and at the start of each month I'll be sharing a few goals for both my blog and life in general. Better late than never! Each post I'll also review last month's goals so that I can keep a record so-to-speak of my progress, and if I haven't hit a goal I can think about why. I have tried monthly roundups and other weekly/monthly post formats before and they aren't always easy to keep up - either I totally forget about them (oops) or I run out of things to say. That shouldn't be the case with goals as there will always be something to improve. A writer/blogger's work is never done!

The blog

  • Optimise my new layout - I got a fancypants new layout over the weekend and I'm in love with how much more professional it looks. There are various things I can play around with such as how things are positioned and how posts appear, so I'll be having a switch up to make sure it's super user-friendly.
  • Two Twitter chats per week - I find Twitter chats like #lbloggerschat really helpful for gaining insight, keeping in the loop and finding new blogs to read. I do sometimes miss them as most are in the evenings and much to my dismay I'm a busy bee at the moment. I've set reminders for them all in my phone so hopefully that will help me make time for them.
  • Interact with other bloggers in some form every day - I met up with some lovely bloggers from a Cambridge blogger Facebook/Twitter group last week and it was great to do a bit of networking. It can help you learn new things and grow your own readership. With this in mind I'm going to make a conscious effort to connect with other people's posts either through commenting or tweeting. I enjoy getting into conversation about things.
Life
  • Declutter my belongings - We're moving in the second week of December and as we'll be temporarily living with Mat's parents for a few months I need to dramatically reduce the amount of crap we own. There are drawers of random junk we haven't touched for months so I'm sure there will be plenty to throw away, recycle or pass on to others.
  • Read one book a fortnight (and make sure I review it) - I go through fits and starts with my reading as I get busy and then don't feel motivated to pick a book back up again and finish it even if I ploughed through the first half. I used to read a lot more than I do currently and I really want to change my habits and fix that.
  • Finish season 1 of Fargo - This isn't reeeally a goal but since finishing Sons of Anarchy on Netflix we haven't found anything else as addictive and there's not much that's interesting us TV-wise at the moment. Last week however we started Fargo, mainly as we fancied a bit of Martin Freeman, and we're getting quite into it so watch this space.
Do you have any goals for this month? How will you go about achieving them?
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Sunday, 1 November 2015

The High Tea Club, Cambridge


Photography from The High Tea Club website as my camera and the evening mood lighting did not get on well!
On Thursday evening I made my way over to The High Tea Club, a brand new concept that's popped up on Mill Road, for their press launch. You can imagine my excitement to be invited along for an event just about tea! I met up with some of the girls from the Camb Meet Up blogger group, which was lovely, and we sat down to enjoy a gorgeous range of teas and cocktails as well as afternoon tea.

The Mill Road area in Cambridge is widely known as a sort of 'cultural quarter' of the city, with various restaurants and speciality supermarkets available. Hop over the bridge however and it's all a bit gentrified, with coffee houses galore and quirky names and store-fronts to boot. It was refreshing to see The High Tea Club pop up, as its simple sign and friendly (but beautiful) d├ęcor bridge the gap between Shoreditch-style swank and that famous cosy Cambridge feel. Owner Danielle Xiao created the relaxed, modern space with this in mind, with the Club being one of the only places in town to offer such a wide range of loose teas. Her family back in China has been in the tea business for centuries, so we felt sure her recommendations on what to choose from the 55 varieties on offer would be perfect.


The 'club' is part cafe, part bar, and the menu is a fusion of Chinese and British food and drink. This means that you can opt for your standard afternoon tea stack, or venture into the oriental with dim sum. As dim sum isn't something I'd ever tried before until this point I couldn't wait to get stuck in. The flavours were divine, with our favourites being the marshmallowy, custard-filled dumplings at the bottom. The standard afternoon tea was also not to be sniffed at with an unusual range of pastries and sweet macarons to indulge in. The pastries were from a local supplier, although much of the menu is made in-house. We were all pretty hungry so it didn't last long, but either stack would be the perfect size for sharing!


Something rather unusual about the Club is that it's open until 11pm, with plenty of cocktails on offer as well as an evening menu that offers nibbles and cheese boards in addition to the classic afternoon tea and dim sum, as well as desserts. The cocktail menu is reasonably priced for Cambridge, and there are some funky tea-based cocktails on offer that I'll definitely be going back to try. My favourite thing from the menu was the range of flowering teas. A small dried ball is dropped into the water and slowly unfolds into a beautiful floating flower as it infuses. Cool or what? I can't wait to go back for more.

The High Tea Club can be found at 160 Mill Road, Cambridge and is open 9am-11pm (10pm on Sundays).

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© kelly anne rist

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