Saturday, 31 December 2016

My 2017 goals (because resolutions suck)


New Year's resolutions suck. 9 times out of 10 they involve saying what we won't do, rather than what we will do. Resolutions also tend to be huge, far-stretching targets like stopping smoking, loosing X stone, buying a new car etc. They don't take into account the journey to achieving those aims, or the incremental steps to success along the way that should be celebrated, and that sets us up to fail. That's why this year I've set myself a series of smaller, more achievable goals that when put into action should yield better results.

The Blog

  • I'm going to be making sure to schedule my posts and tweets - I get busy at times and actually forget to promote my posts to my followers which isn't doing the work I put into the actual post justice!
  • I'll be making a conscious effort to create more chatty, opinionated content. In the past I've been afraid of putting too much of my personality out there so it'll feel weird, but I feel more confident about doing it now.
  • I've kind of cheated on this one since I ended up doing it yesterday!! I've now created a media kit for my blog, and will be keeping it up to date.

Life

  • I'm making an effort to call and text my friends and family more often. I'm terrible at this, especially during the week when I get home from my long commute (a 104 mile round trip) and just flake out on the sofa. 
  • I fell off the reading wagon hard when I finished university and although I do still read, I don't make much effort to set time aside for it. Instead I end up scrolling Twitter and Instagram. In 2017 I'm going to read a book a month (something I know I can achieve if I put my phone down for a couple of evenings a week). I'll also review them for you on here.
  • I've tried hard over the last year to drink more water, but lately laziness has gotten the better of me. Not this time! 2-3 litres a day, every damn day.
  • I've already mentioned my long commute into work, and getting up so early has really taken its toll in the winter months. Getting up 15 minutes early will be painful at first, but hopefully it will stop me from rushing around, allow me to eat breakfast (I never used to skip it!) and I'll actually look put together when I leave the house!
These are modest goals and I have the best intentions, but I'll be sure to post an update in a couple of months to keep myself in check!
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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

What 2016 has taught me


Now that Christmas has just about been and gone (I'll be sad when the Heroes and Celebrations finally run out!) I feel like this is as good a time as any to reflect on the past 362-ish days. Brexit and Trump aside, for me personally this year as been the hardest yet. From a difficult living situation to being diagnosed with painful dry eye syndrome, to my work relocating and struggling with my mental health, I won't be sad to see the back of 2016.

BUT, in the business of trying to be balanced, there have been a lot of highlights. Three amazing getaways to the Isle of Wight, Amsterdam and Turkey really helped me learn to relax a bit, countless shenanigans with friends have reminded me of what's actually important, and I've somehow despite all the stress going on managed to build my self confidence up quite a bit!

Here's what I've learned:

Looking after yourself is important

Being in pain 90% of the time changes you. I have a new found respect for people that live with far more serious health conditions and disabilities and still manage to absolutely smash life. Since being diagnosed with a chronic condition I really have to take care of my eyes and body. There are days when my eyes burn so much I hate to even open them, when I want to cry but when I do it stings like acid. I'm still working on it but getting enough rest, the right diet, fresh air and keeping my stress down are all very important in managing flare-ups. It's time consuming, but it's also helped my mental state to no end to just shut off for a day every now and again to look after number one and chill.

Hobbies should be fun

That probably shouldn't be much of a revelation to most, but mid-way through the year keeping up this blog began to feel like a chore and an obligation - it just wasn't enjoyable anymore. I realised though that not being so hard on myself for not posting to a strict schedule and taking the odd week off actually left my mind free to dream up more creative post ideas, and posting slightly less often means the content is better quality. It's fun again, and more of you are reading my posts. It's a win-win!

Sometimes you just need to sling it in the 'Fuck It' bucket

This year I realised that the little niggling voice in my head holds me back sometimes. Whether that's through lack of confidence, fear of being judged, of upsetting someone or getting hate, I was keeping my own valid opinions bottled up inside. And that's not just in a personal respect, but a professional one too. I've learned to say 'Oh, fuck it' more often and just say what I'm thinking. As a result I think I'm more self-assured, people actually respect me more and others have a better idea of who I am.

I don't need the latest blogger 'must haves' to be happy

Last year I spent way too much money on fad products and trend-led fashion pieces. The thing is I was never satisfied with my purchases, because they were right for someone else but not for me. This year I spent more time researching my purchases first and only investing where I actually wanted to. That also involved choosing more classic makeup and clothing so that the stuff I spend my hard-earned cash on will stand the test of time.

I am actually capable of talking to strangers

I've been to quite a few blogging/PR events and meetups this year and I can safely say it's helped me massively with my fear of talking to people I don't know in a social setting. In pushing myself to talk to people outside of my usual bubble I've made some lovely new friends and become genuinely excited to chat with new faces at these things. Who would've thought?

Comparing yourself to others is a complete waste of time

The moment I realised I'll never be able to wear eye makeup again hit me quite hard. I've always been very into eyeliner and eyeshadow and I felt like overnight a piece of my identity had been stolen from me. I would break down if I stumbled upon makeup tutorials, hoard mascara 'just in case' things got better, stare intently at other people's eyeliner out of jealousy. But then I realised that this is just something I have to work with. You have your cat flicks, I have my lipstick instead. That doesn't mean I can't own it just as much. Now I finally feel at home in my own skin. You can apply this to literally any aspect of your life. Everyone is different, and comparison is the thief of joy - don't let it steal your happiness or self confidence.

I feel like I've learned more in the last year than in the 23 that came before it, and I've come out slightly battered and bruised but all the more stronger for it. Here's to looking after number one and owning the things that make me different in 2017!

What did 2016 teach you?







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Sunday, 18 December 2016

The best (and worst) things about Christmas


Christmas is probably my favourite time of the year, but it can also be stressful. If you don't really dig the festive season and you're surrounded by people in Santa hats branding you a Scrooge, then the pressure to enjoy yourself can actually be even more of a downer. I love Christmas, I really do, but I thought I'd bring a balanced argument to the table of why sometimes, I just can't be bothered to "ho ho ho" my way through it.

The worst things about Christmas

Hangovers
I'm not 18 anymore, and neither is my liver. I don't really enjoy getting absolutely steaming but Christmas Eve and New Years Eve always feel like day-long drink-athons. I enjoy a trip to the pub like anyone else but wow do us Brits go hard. There's nothing like trying to choke down your Christmas morning Bucks Fizz with a gurgling tummy and stinking headache.

My bank balance
I'm about as good with my money as Augustus Gloop was at staying away from that chocolate fountain, so I always end up dipping into our house savings at this time of year. I really don't begrudge spending money on a good time, but like many of you, I literally never learn. After living off of Quality Street and leftover wine for a week that late December pay day is a lifesaver.

The shortest day
Back when I was an antisocial student the dark nights were a perfect excuse to stay in and watch One Tree Hill re-runs with my housemates, but now I find it totally depressing. There is no amount of hygge snug-ness that could persuade me that the sun going down at 4pm is a good thing. I miss summer evenings sat outside with a cold drink, and Christmas week is also the darkest.

Christmas cards
Don't get me wrong, I like to receive the odd Christmas card and I'm grateful to be thought of, but I just cannot get my act together on this one. I always do them at the last minute so have to hand deliver them anyway, or I'll somehow manage to forget someone and probably offend them. A couple of years running I bought lovely Paperchase ones and forgot to do them at all! It must be even worse if you're a parent - 30 of the bloody things? No thank you.

The January blues
This one I'm sure most of you can relate to. I don't get Christmas week off work but things are definitely a lot more relaxed over the period (and there are often mince pies and sweets scattered about the office). Stripping all the decorations down in January and putting the early alarms back on makes everything feel so bare and deflated that I always feel a bit down in the dumps. The struggle is real, people.

And the best things about Christmas

Food
These lists are in no particular order but man is this top of the list. I'm a foodie through and through and if there's one thing I love its a proper Christmas dinner. Shoutout to my mum who's got this thing down this year! Pigs in blankets are God's greatest gift to the world.

Friends and family
Some people find the social occasions that revolve around Christmas a nightmare but I quite enjoy them. Maybe I've gotten a bit soft in my old age but I like surrounding myself with my favourite humans. And yes, you're kind of forced to get together with relatives you've not seen all year and mates you might not have spoken to in a while, but there's something wholesome about making the effort to do it at Christmas time. 

The pretty decorations
I was definitely a magpie in a former life. There's nothing that says Christmas more than a set of twinkling lights and reams of garishly coloured tinsel. The cheesier the better. And High Street Christmas lights also have this way of making me feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside and like I might be in the cast of Love Actually or something.

Christmas films
I would watch them all year if I could. Elf, Muppets Christmas Carol, National Lampoons and Krampus to name but a few. I even noticed there are TV channels dedicated to them all December. They're the one thing that helps me get into the Christmas spirit no matter how grumpy I feel.

Gifting
All the consumerism that surrounds Christmas gets a bad wrap (geddit?) and I don't believe in spending hundreds and hundreds of pounds on people just because it might have been Jesus's birthday one time, BUT I really like the giving part of Christmas. I like how even the smallest of presents can light up someone's face, I like that it's the time of year when people do more to give to charity and help those less fortunate, I like that people try really hard to find the perfect gift for someone they care about. It's just so damn nice to give things to people. If only we were as selfless all year round!

What do you love (or hate!) about Christmas?
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Sunday, 11 December 2016

A chilled out Sunday, my new favourite coat and life lately


Recently life's gotten a bit.... well, weird. Back in August my work relocated so I've been doing a 100 mile round trip each day, and the dark nights and long drives are playing havoc with my energy levels and leaving me feeling run down despite the fact that I really enjoy what I do. I'm on my second cold of the season now and that's quite unusual for me. Here's hoping it's the last for this year!

I also had a bit of a health scare, which wasn't much fun. I'm still being monitored but it looks like things are actually fine, so that's good! The waiting for tests and unpleasant doctors appointments while life went on wasn't easy. I'm paranoid about my health at the best of times (do not, ever, google things). I wanted support from the people around me during a worrying time but it's just not the sort of thing you talk about. While I was waiting to find out what was or wasn't up with me the only people I really told were Mat and my Mum, and even though they've both been amazing I did feel quite alone at times. Now that I know what was actually wrong I feel like I've relaxed so much and a weight has been lifted. Maybe I'll address that on the blog at some point. We should talk more, right?

So with all that going on I've been on high alert for the last month or so, struggling to stay awake and concentrate during the day and lying awake scared to death at night. It's not exactly a recipe for joy! And that's why I've been taking things a hell of a lot slower both in real life and on the blog. I've only been making time for the things that make me genuinely happy.


These days we all really struggle to actually look after ourselves. I know that this big movement towards self care and Hygge and 'taking time for you' probably seems like a load of old crap to some, but is vital for others. Like many women my age if you live a busy life, struggle with your mental (or physical) health, have to check your bank balance before treating yourself to lunch from the M&S sandwich van (which is babin' by the way) or feel like the internet is closing in around you, then slowing down and taking stock is a very important thing. It's totally ok to not be totally bossing it every minute of the day when you're going through a rough time.

So after a boozey, stereotypically mahem-filled but really rather fun company Christmas party on Friday I took the rest of the weekend to mostly do nothing. On Saturday I lay upon my gloriously hungover deathbed force-feeding myself Pringles and brownie bites with my gorgeous new Etta French candle* burning in the background and Netflix keeping me conscious.

Then today we took a mooch around the streets of Cambridge for some hot chocolate at the Hotel Chocolat cafe, picked up the last few bits of Christmas shopping and stopped for a flippin' delicious lunch at Pho - which I won in the raffle at the CambMeetUp Christmas event last week! I even managed to convince Mat to take a few outfit photos for me as I'm loving my new New Look camel coat. With some guidance they haven't come out half bad!

Coat: New Look | Bag: H&M (from last season but this one is near identical)| Top: H&M 

*This post may contain PR samples.
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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Festive beauty favourites


December is a time for dressing up - a time for parties, family gatherings and numerous pub trips. Christmas and New Year blur into one long special occasion, and if you want to look your very best then choosing some killer beauty products is key.

I can't really tolerate eye makeup anymore (long story!) so I rely on power brows, a slick contour and bold lips to actually look in any way dressed up. No glitter eye shadow here. Sadface. Here are a few of my faves that'll definitely be helping me out this year.

Face

Christmas is a time when I always try to look my best - you never know who'll be round the corner with a camera! That means amping up the highlight and contour a little. I love my Kat Von D Shade and Light palette for this as the colours are strong and long lasting but they still look natural when blended correctly (more in-depth review here). The Seventeen Skin Wow primer also makes for a great highlighter on the cheekbones with its subtle shimmer.

Lips

December always feels like the perfect time of year for a red lip! I love the classic Mac Viva Glam 1 lipstick as the shade is so deep, but Kat Von D's Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Santa Sangre is a beautifully bright and ridiculously long-lasting formula if you need something with more endurance. It's probably the best lipstick I've ever owned.

If nudes are more your thing or you're after something more wearable for a daytime shindig, then the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Marvellous Mauve is where it's at. So pigmented, so long lasting and such a gorgeous colour - if you can get your hands on it then it's well worth purchasing! Although not quite as long lasting, I also love the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. My favourite is Abu Dhabi, a peachy brown.

Nails

Glitter is key here for extra festiveness. I love Rimmel's Glitter Bomb range as they tend to tie in really well on top of their other shades. and ORLY have some great ones too. Yes, they are a pain to remove (involuntary nail exfoliation anyone?), but they add an extra bit of sparkle to any outfit.

Brows

If I'm not attempting my bi-annual application of sensitive mascara, I pay extra attention to my brows. I'm a bit protective of them so I just pluck them myself at home rather than visiting a brow bar, and I'll always fill them in with pencil, but where they really come into their own is with the help of a good brow gel. I tend to switch between the Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Mascara just to keep longer hairs in check, and the Model Co More Brows Thickening Fibre Gel for a more dramatic look.

I'm on the hunt for more beauty bits to help me feel my best this festive season. Can you recommend any?





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© kelly anne rist

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