Wednesday, 31 August 2016

4 reasons to keep blogging when everybody else is doing it too


I've written a few posts in the past providing an insight into some of the tips and tricks I've picked up on in the three years I've been blogging consistently, but this isn't one of them. This post is intended more to address the fact that (as many people keep reminding me) everyone and their mother has started a blog or a YouTube channel. Young women everywhere are snapping their meals for Instagram posts, registering custom domains and filming monthly favourites videos.

It's not easy to stand out and cut through the noise, but as the hobby becomes more and more popular it's worth remembering that competing for pageviews doesn't have to be your only aim. People regularly ask me why I still bother to do it when there are probably hundreds of thousands of other bloggers out there trying to do the same thing, but luckily for me I can think of plenty of reasons to continue.

It keeps your creative juices flowing

My very first blog started way back when I was at university as a place to share my poetry and short prose. Things have changed a lot since then but I still use my blog as a place to be not only creative but productive. I love getting my camera out to shoot a post and planning exciting content as much as I love the writing side.

You get exciting opportunities

I had been blogging furiously three times a week for at least 6 months before my first opportunity to collaborate came along. I was invited over to the High Tea Club in Cambridge to review their menu. Looking back it felt pretty special to have been able to go, and I've worked with brands like Thorntons and Multipower since then too. It really opened the doors for some amazing experiences, from cocktail making to massage treatments. It takes some hard work to get noticed but once you do it's very much worth it.

You make amazing friends

The more you get involved in the blogging community, whether online or offline, the more you grow to appreciate it as a special place to be. I've met tonnes of lovely people like Pippa and Lauren through local events and meet up groups - it takes up half my social life some months and I wouldn't have it any other way. I used to hate meeting new people as I'm awkward as hell but blogging has helped me to embrace it!

You can see yourself making progress

Having an archive of blog posts to look over isn't just the chance to have a big ol' cringe fest at your pre-2013 flatlay skills and 'What's in my bag' posts. It's an opportunity to see how far you've come, how your life has changed, your skills have improved and you've continued to stick at something - I find it really helps boost my confidence. It's also a great thing to have on your CV for those very reasons. Use it as a tool to motivate yourself to keep going.

So if you're struggling with motivation, post ideas or making time to get shiz done, don't forget to remind yourself that blogging has more to offer than being a mere popularity contest. 

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The nude lip edit



In case you couldn't tell from the title, this post is a bit of an ode to the humble nude lippy. In my teens I never bothered with lipstick at all, but over the last few years I've gotten into a habit of wearing it every day. While vampy reds aren't really for me when it comes to daytime wear I now have a decent collection of muted tones at my disposal, from warm browns to cool mauves. Here are my faves...

The 'Your lips, but better'

This phrase gets thrown around a lot, but I just love that slightly more 'done' look you can achieve by using a product that's only a shade away from your natural lip colour. 

My all time favourite for this is the NYX Soft Matte lip cream in Abu Dhabi - it's beautifully pigmented, matte without being drying and lasts until at least lunchtime before any kind of top-up is needed. It's the perfect low maintenance product. 

For a little more va-va-voom I love the Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker glosses. They really plump your lips up, to the point that it actually tingles, and leave a subtle pink colour. Bonus: its also not too sticky.

The MAC ones

Although I have a few other MAC lipsticks these two are the ones I'd recommend investing in the most. Velvet Teddy is probably the most popular shade of recent years and I can totally see why. It's a matte finish and I'd describe it as a browny pink, that leaves lips looking full. 

Persistence is far more brown in kind of a 90s chic way. Again it's pretty matte and I feel like it would probably suit just about anyone.

The pinky purples

I don't always have much luck with pinker lipsticks, but there are two cool-toned products that I use very regularly. 

Last year while in Paris I discovered the wonder product that is the Sephora Cream Lip Stain. The shade 13 Marvelous Mauve is by far my favourite of these and I do find them much longer lasting than the NYX version. It's highly pigmented and withstands eating and drinking virtually all day. They can be drying so I do apply a lip balm half an our before I get ready.

A product I go back to time and time again - and a line that's always proven very popular in the beauty world - is Rimmel's Lasting Finish lipstick. The shade 08 is a gorgeous pinky hue with a semi-matte finish, but isn't too warm.

A shout out also needs to go to Rimmel's The Only One lippy, which although a newer product is also very wearable. The shade 700 Naughty Nude is about as pink as I ever go, with the formula also less matte than my other choices. It's a great one for summer as it's a little brighter than most nudes.
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Saturday, 27 August 2016

How to stay fit while recovering from an injury


Those of you who follow me on social media will know that I spend the spring on a major gym hype. I took up the popular Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (aka BBG) and it was definitely working. I loved the high intensity exercise - one of the only ways I can ever break into a proper sweat - and I loved that I could see results changing every day from about weeks 4-9.

But then my knees started to bother me a lot. The plan contains a lot of jumping, and as someone who'd never done that kind of exercise before it revealed a weakness in my body that totally took me by surprise. I'd gone from lazy runs and the occasional set of squats and deadlifts to full-on eat-your-heart-out fitspo in a matter of weeks and it was just too much too fast.

Admit defeat

I'm stubborn and during my 9 weeks attempting BBG developed a 'no pain, no gain' attitude that kept me exercising through my knee pain until it hurt every minute of the day whether I exercised or not. Ultimately I ended up turning weak, sore knees that needed some special attention into full-blown tendonitis on both sides. And it hurts.

Whether you've pulled a muscle, are suffering with a particular joint or have an old injury playing up, drop the hard-man act and admit that this is your body telling you to slow down a little. Maybe even a lot. It was depressing, I have always used fitness as a way of getting all my stress out. It benefited my mind much more than my body, and not being able to do it and have that feeling that I was succeeding at something really, really got to me.

Think about what you can do, not what you can't

I did very little exercise bar walking in the first two weeks after succumbing to patellar tendonitis, and it did me no good at all. Try to find other activities that you can use to keep fit and maybe even help your condition.

For me knees I've taken to swimming instead of running, working on my arms and abs at the gym instead and then supplement this with daily stretches and light strengthening exercises to help my crummy legs. It wasn't until I took this approach consistently that I saw any let up in the pain. The last few weeks have gone from constant pain to the odd twinge and a little soreness at times so something is definitely working!

If you aren't sure what you can and can't do with your injury then make sure you ask a gym trainer or physical therapist. A combo of some moves from one of my gym PTs and some I found on the web has helped me no end. You can also wear sports tape to work out if you know how to apply it, but be warned it will only support you during the activity, not provide a miracle cure once you've taken it off.

Eat right

Before me knees took me out of action I was doing a lot of exercise and kind of used it as an excuse to treat myself a few times a week. Now I'm not burning as many calories doing HIIT and weights I've notice my muscle mass has decreased and some of that cellulite I really hated has crept back.

Stepping away from the pizza (last night notwithstanding), keeping up my protein intake and curbing fat and sugar is something I'm now throwing myself into after seeing these unwanted changes. I particularly like the Body Coach's lean meals, and when I miss breakfast at home and am tempted to buy a bacon butty from the sandwich van I've been grabbing a Multipower Protein smoothie* instead, especially on workout days - my personal favourite is the Raspberry and Blueberry flavour.. They contain 26g of protein but very little sugar or fat, unlike some brands who pack their smoothies and breakfast drinks full of the sweet stuff.

Foam roll the pain away

One of the best things I've done as a result of developing tendonitis is take up foam rolling. The idea is that by moving your muscles over the ridges they get a deep massage and are encouraged to relax and repair. Part of the reason I developed my problem in the first place is that all of my leg muscles are very tight (that'll teach me for not stretching after long runs!) and this has really helped to supplement my other stretches.

It's not exactly the most comfortable thing to do as you've kind of just poking yourself with hard foam multiple times, but like a good back massage this is what actually makes the difference. I picked mine up for under £5, so they're pretty cheap to buy online, so why not give it a go?

Have you tried any of the above in your recovery? Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments box!

*Products marked with an asterisk in this post have been sent to me for review purposes, however it was my choice to feature them and all opinions are very much my own.
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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Summer holiday reading list


In just over two weeks I'll finally be off on my summer holiday to Turkey! As I've got back into reading the last few weeks (warm evenings sat in the garden really do help) it was of course time to pick a couple of new books to take with me.

I doubt I'll get through all three over the week but a solid one and a half would be the most I've read in a long time. I feel like life and the internet just get in the way sometimes so this is the ideal opportunity to unwind.

I've tried to aim for a little variety here as I sometimes get fixated on one particular genre for a while which can get boring. Here's what I went for:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I can't always get into psychological thrillers. I really didn't get on with Gone Girl and there are few others I've even entertained. This story however intrigues me! It's being adapted for the big screen - anyone else feel like they've run out of original storylines for films? - so I want to read it before I see it.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - This definitely isn't my usual kind of choice but reading the reviews the story sounds so enchanting and mysterious. I don't tend to go for emotional reads as I always end up crying and getting the pages wet so cross your fingers for me!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I have very high expectations for this book! I love an element of fantasy or magic and got quite into Neil Gaiman last year. It's the subject of so many book clubs that I felt entirely left out having not read it!

Have you read any of these or do you have your own recommendations? Let me know below in the comments!
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Thursday, 18 August 2016

6 quotes to inspire you when things get a bit too much

It happens to us all. Whether you're feeling burned out from work, you've been unwell, you have money worries, issues in your relationship or are just feeling down in the dumps or demotivated, nobody is immune to a slump. 

There's a lot of pressure these days to live the perfect, insta-worthy life, so when things don't go right we tend to beat ourselves up which can make the situation even worse! When I feel like I'm heading south mentally I try to tear myself away from the Netflix and Ben and Jerry's, put on my big girl pants and visit Pinterest for some motivation and inspiration to pull myself together. 

If you're going through a rough patch or just need some encouragement, here are 6 of my faves.







Want more? Why not give me a follow over on Pinterest?
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Sunday, 14 August 2016

The only drugstore contour and highlight you need


I'm the first to admit that there are some beauty trends I just don't 'get'. Blue lips? No thank you. Glitter partings? Nah. Contouring I can kinda get on board with, but as someone of limited skill I find it hard to know where to put the stuff, and every highlight I've tried until now has looked ridiculous against my skin tone. That's where these two products by Seventeen come in.

I've spoken about the Define and Conquer contour kit in the past, with the matte bronzer being something I use every day to warm my complexion and attempt to sculpt some cheekbones with. It's a great formula that blends well and stays put all day. While that part is perfect for me, the highlight side of the kit doesn't do much at all. Maybe I'm paler than I thought, but the powder seems pretty much translucent on my skin and doesn't do much at all.

After some searching I've finally found a budget friendly highlighting product that's somewhere between non-existent and 70s roller disco. Also by Seventeen (I swear this isn't a sponsored post - they're just killing it at the mo), the Skin Wow Primer can be used under or over your base, as an illuminating primer or a highlighter. I use it mainly on my cheekbones and nose. It's liquid but doesn't upset foundation or concealer if you blend over it. It has a light shimmer but you won't sparkle like a member of the Cullen family.

At £5.99 each (and currently £4.99 thanks to a special offer) these products really are purse friendly and an ideal starting point if you're not familiar with the concepts of contouring and highlighting. The kit even comes with a little diagram of the ideal places to use each shade so there's not much that can go wrong!

Have you gotten into contouring and highlighting, or do you just stick with the basics?
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Thursday, 11 August 2016

The handbag under £30 that does it all


I'm a big fan of H&M clothing - it's very affordable, but also boasts better quality pieces than many budget high street brands, with a good balance between chic basics and more fashionable pieces. One thing I'd never tried though was their handbag range.

With plenty of styles on offer and virtually every item coming in under £30, I was spoilt for choice. After saying farewell to my coveted River Island work bag a couple of months ago I'd been hunting for a replacement, but wasn't into anything in their current range, so I made that my goal.


I settled on a fairly large, sturdy bag that's reminiscent of the original Zara City Bag - there's an open central compartment, and on each side a long zip pocked. I went for classic black as I knew I'd be using it for work, as well as possibly travelling or shopping. A bag for all seasons and purposes.

Despite only costing £29.99 it's a well designed bag, with sturdy grab handles and an optional long strap for when you just need to sling it over your shoulder and run for the bus or train! The gold detailing is well thought out and the material doesn't feel to cheap or plastic-y and holds its structure well even when packed full.

The central compartment is big enough for most laptops as well as A4 notepads and folders so is ideal for work or study. There's a tiny inside pocket for those secretive girly bits, and the two large side pockets have plenty of space for makeup, books, tablets etc. I particularly like this set up as I can usually be found rummaging around in a full bag hunting for something I've lost in there. This feels much more organised!

It's certainly a bigger bag than I'd usually pick, but there's space for everything I need, even my camera and lenses, which is something I've probably been needing for a while! I've used it for work of course, but the picture at the top of this post was taken at the weekend by my friend Sophie - I feel like it just kind of goes with everything!

Jeans: New Look (similar) | Bag: H&M | Top: F+F (no longer online but there are plenty more to choose from!) | Shoes: Primark  | Sunglasses: Primark (old) | Bracelets: Next (old) | Photo by: Sophie
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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Defining success in your twenties


A couple of weeks ago I published a post about having found my inspiration in blogging once more, and a big part of having found that drive to go out and create without fear has been letting go of comparison - trying to stop measuring the success of my blog by pageviews and instagram likes. 

Writing that post and seeing the positive feedback from you guys got me thinking about other aspects of my life. Like most of my readers I'm at a bit of a weird age. It's been a few years since I left university, but not quite long enough that I feel like an established and put together adult.

I'm currently saving like mad to try and buy our first home, trying to put as much into this blog as possible without letting my real-life day job and social life suffer, and constantly finding myself green with envy looking at those who seem to have it all fall into place.

Jealousy is a difficult demon to exorcise. It can lead to a sense of self-entitlement, or leave you feeling utterly defeated, like your goal is just too far out of reach. Whether it's a flashy car, opportunities to travel, the dream job, 15 minutes of fame, a dream home, these things don't come easy to most. It's tempting when comparing yourself to others from afar to feel hard done by, but it's also easy to forget that hard work and determination do eventually pay off, even if not quite when you want it to.

I've never been one to just wing it, and it's hard to shake off negativity when something doesn't work out. I've taken to reminding myself that nobody is going to serve me the things I want on a plate, and that that's perfectly OK. I have plenty of successes to shout about - 24 years worth to be exact. I have a first class degree in a subject I'm deeply passionate about, am working in the industry of my choice, I have good chunk of money saved, a roof over my head, and a trip to our third country in the last 12 months just weeks away. I'm not a homeowner, or a YouTube celebrity, nor have a founded my own start-up, and while those are all amazing things, they just aren't the be-all and end-all for people my age.

The things you want won't come overnight. They won't turn up on your doorstep the day before you turn 25, or even 30. By all means work hard and give everything your all, but don't beat yourself up, don't subscribe to what the world 'says' you should be, and don't forget to enjoy the ride while you're still young. Achieving your own goals on your own terms in your own time.

How do you define success? Do you have any goals, or tend to just wing it?


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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My hand luggage essentials for a relaxing flight



It's been a while since I put together a proper travel post (unless you count my trip to the Isle of White!) but I'm gearing up for our summer holiday in September now and I know many of you will be jetting off in the next few weeks too! 

While I loving adventuring off somewhere new, I have a big fear of flying, so it makes so much difference to my experience if I'm organised and have everything in my hand luggage bag that I might need.

I haven't decided which bag to take yet - I might do a style post on that nearer the time - but I do have a little hand luggage packing list ready so that I don't forget anything. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I'm sure that you'll have your own essentials to add so do let me know once you've had a read!

The admin

It probably goes without saying but making sure you've got your passport, travel money, boarding passes, guidebooks and the likes ready before you go is a must. I tend to take a large-ish bag with me when I fly, so having a pouch, travel wallet or folder handy is a good idea. 

You can just whip that out at the check-in desk without having to rummage through everything else. I picked up a black pouch in Tiger last week, mainly because the slogan made me laugh, but also because it seems like a decent size for this kind of thing! 

I also always, always wear a watch when I fly to try and curb jet lag. It's something I picked up from my mum, who's a little bit obsessed with buying watches in duty free. I check the time difference and change it as we take off so that if there's a big shift (say when I went to Mexico for example and we lost 6 hours) you can try and trick your brain into adjusting and stop thinking about how long you've been awake for.

The entertainment

I was going to say long haul flights are the worst for getting bored, but actually short haul can be equally mind numbing as you don't usually get a seat-back TV full of blockbusters to amuse yourself with. 

I love a good book, but it can be hard to concentrate in turbulence and on night flights I always feel guilty turning the reading light on! I also like to download a few episodes of something onto my phone (PLL anyone?) and bring my trusty iPod Shuffle to preserve phone battery.

The beauty bits

I've finally gotten used to and can enjoy the advantages of going makeup-free when flying. It's not as if the paparazzi are going to snap me on my way out of LAX, and with oily skin my foundation tends to disintegrate over time anyway. If I'm feeling particularly rough I can always throw on a pair of sunnies.

These days I tend to pack a travel sized moisturiser, which I can then use as a hand cream too (you know how dry plane air is!). I also use a lot of lip balm to stop them getting chapped. Since I'm still using up stock from last year's beauty box addiction I've already pre-packed a sample of Delarom Crème Acquaconfort, which is so softening on my skin, and am also keeping the Arrow Colour Enhancing Lip Balm on hand as it's super conditioning.

Along with some deodorant to keep things fresh and my trusty 4head should the dreaded stress migraine strike, I also don't get on a plane without some hairbands or my Tangle Teezer - anyone else end up with crazy static hair mid flight? 

The comfy stuff

Who doesn't love a snooze to make travelling fly by? I do struggle to nod off but it's good to at least close my eyes and relax! I always take ear plugs with me because the whirring engines and crying kids drive me nuts, and an eye mask is perfect for an early morning take off, when the sun's coming up but you're not quite ready to greet it yet. Another cheeky Tiger steal at £4 was the flamingo neck pillow featured in my photos - no more aches and pains or trying to get comfy!

So, those are my hand luggage essentials. What are yours?



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