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True Sustainability is Capitalism's Worst Nightmare

Everywhere I turn lately, there are adverts for sustainable products. Even big brands are cashing in on the trend. With consumerism the main culprit for our problems with waste and ocean plastics, I started wondering if I really did need to buy even more stuff in order to be kinder to the planet. The answer is: I didn't. Capitalism lied to me.

'Sustainable' and 'zero waste' are the hottest buzzwords of late. And if ever there were a trend I could get behind, it's this one. From David Attenborough bringing plastic waste to the forefront to Greta Thunberg's amazing climate strikes, and more recently the calling out of fast-fashion brands. It's no secret that humanity's addiction to consumer goods and high-carbon travel has spiraled out of control. 


Fruit in a produce bag


Beware of Greenwashing


Our high-consumption culture is a product of the capitalist world we live in. If everyone truly stopped buying things they didn't need and Marie Kondo-ing their homes to create space for even more stuff, how on earth would Jeff Bezos and co. make any money? So, as they are designed to do, huge companies are now bombarding us with adverts for "sustainably sourced", fair trade or zero waste products. 

Often these products are "greenwashed". The Cambridge Dictionary defines greenwashing as: "behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is". We've all seen some form of this or another in recent years.

What is true sustainability, at least from a consumer perspective? 


Corporations are commodifying frugality and low-impact consumption, something many people have done for years while being branded tightwads and hippies. and it's a slippery slope. Sustainability should be accessible to everyone, not just people who can afford fancy water bottles. It's a pitfall I've fallen victim to so many times recently, but watching the fantastic YouTube videos made by the fabulous Jhánneu, I realised I didn't need all this extra stuff to do my bit...

The most sustainable items are the ones that you already own. 

Clothing


How many items of clothing do you own that you just don't wear? Maybe it's because you're saving it for a special occasion, or you don't feel like anything else goes with it. Or was it super trendy a few years ago, but now not so much? 

I've recently set myself the challenge of picking out more of those long-forgotten pieces and thinking of new ways to wear them. The result is that I feel like I'm wearing a whole new outfit but in reality I've spent nothing and my carbon footprint has gotten lower by not purchasing new items or travelling to buy something second-hand. I even repaired something the other day. I know, revolutionary. 

I also downloaded a free iOS app called Save Your Wardrobe to help me document items as I wear them and put together new outfits. I absolutely love it. Give it a try for a week and see if you can fall back in love with something from your wardrobe! 

Food


You've probably heard before that in the UK we throw away 7.1 million tonnes of household food waste every year. This is bad for three reasons: 
1.This rotting food produces a huge amount of greenhouse gas which is released into the air.
2. Much of this food is still in the packaging, which goes to landfill and doesn't break down. 
3. We have a huge problem with food distribution. While we have a huge surplus of food that's going off before we eat it, people in the countries that produce it for us are poor and starving. That's a heavy discussion for another day, but this article is a great bit of further reading. 

We've all forgotten about something in the fridge for a week only to find it mouldy and soggy on closer inspection, it's easily done - but I've managed to avoid it for the most part by doing a meal plan for the week and adding all the things I need to a shopping list that I stick to. 

In an effort to reduce food miles I've also been growing some veg in the garden. It's not always cheap to get going depending on what you want to do, but you can turn tiny little 99p seed packets into loads of food with a little effort. Even a windowsill is enough space to get started. 

Another great option, if you have access, is a zero-waste store or farm shop. Take your containers in and fill them up whenever you run out of anything, so you don't create any packaging waste (bonus: it's quite fun to do).

Health and Beauty

From shampoo bars to tongue scrapers, there are thousands of 'zero waste' or natural solutions to personal maintenance out there to purchase. I've wasted so much money on things like washable cotton rounds to remove makeup, artisan soap, and trying to replace every plastic bottle in my bathroom cabinet with a glass one. Was this the most sustainable thing I could've done? Definitely not. I own plenty of flannel face clothes, and there's nothing wrong with working your way through the plastic-packaged products you already have and opting for something more eco-friendly next time.

And yet, our social feeds are chock full of people who've cleared out tonnes of half-used products to replace them with low-impact options. It totally defeats the point and creates tonnes more waste.

How can we avoid consumerist pitfalls and make the transition to low-impact, sustainable living? 

The most important thing to remember is that no one person is going to get through life without creating any waste or doing something detrimental to the environment. What's more helpful is to strive to make small improvements in some areas of our lives and try to get the most out of the items we already have at our disposal.

I have no doubt that we'll be bombarded with marketing over the next few years for the latest zero-waste products. While it's great news that brands and manufacturers are paying attention to trends, they're cashing in on them too. We must actively try to consume less, rather than allowing them to influence us into consuming more while thinking we've done a good deed. 

And that doesn't mean never buying anything ever again, either. We can't all go and live in caves and fend for ourselves for all eternity! It just means making sure your purchases are informed - do you know where it comes from and how it's made? - and considered - will you get good use from this item, or is it a faddy impulse purchase? 

Asking myself these questions over the last few months has totally changed my spending habits and I've been able to invest in fewer, higher quality items that will last. I think that's a benefit worth reaping. 




Things I've Learned as a First Time Veg Grower

Cambridge, UK
Growing Veg for the First Time - Veg in a Raised Garden Trug

At the start of this year, before Coronavirus was even a word on our lips, I headed to the garden centre to pick up my first batch of seeds, compost and trays. To say I was unrealistically optimistic was an understatement. I'd done a bit of reading up and was convinced my tiny garden trug and a few pots would bring a plentiful harvest to the table. Oh how wrong I was! Here's what I've learned in my few months as a first time veg grower...

I think the most I'd ever grown in my life until that point were the obligatory cress and sunflowers back in primary school. Our garden is pretty small, and we have a dog who loves to nibble, so planting directly into the ground or building huge raised beds simply weren't an option. 


If you're starting from scratch, set aside a little budget

I started off my seedlings on the windowsill and while they were growing I invested in a wall-hugging trug from a brand called Veg Trug. It was expensive, but it meant I could grow off the ground and it's something solid and sturdy that should last me years. I needed the tools and compost to get me going too.

You can grow veg from other veg, and regrow vegetables from stubs!

Growing from seed or purchasing young plugs at garden centers is one way of starting off your patch or trug, but I found out that you can also grow potatoes by planting old ones, sit leeks, lettuce and other off-cuts in water. It's a great way to reduce waste and it's cool to watch, too.


Growing Chamomile Flowers in Pot

Honestly, half of your seedlings ain't gonna make it

It's true even of veg that only the strong survive! Some won't even germinate. If you want two courgette plants in your garden, seed at list 6, if not more, and thin out the small or floppy looking ones as they grow and you'll be left with your very best plants.


Herbs Growing on Window Sill

Patience is a virtue

I put some of my herbs out too early, without hardening them off, and they died a slow and miserable death. Have a google about what you're growing and note the best way to care for your young plants, or you'll be holding a tiny memorial service around the compost bin before you know it. 

I'm now looking impatiently at my potato shoots in their pots and willing my squash to flower. Good things come to those who wait though!

It's really rewarding, and actually quite relaxing

I've started looking forward to going out to water my plants each morning, and I don't even mind picking pesky little bugs off the leaves either. It gets me outside and gives me something to work towards. There's something almost ancient about it.

Other than the herbs (which now live on my windowsill) and some spinach leaves, I haven't harvested a whole lot, however I picked my very first courgette yesterday! It's teeny tiny, but I can't wait to roast it with some root veg and even if it tastes terrible I'll enjoy knowing that I created it from a seed. 

Lavender Plant

The other thing I've been doing is growing certain plants for herbal/medicinal purposes. I've started a small lavender planter so I can dry the flowers and add them to bath salts for extra relaxing aromas, and the chamomile flowers currently drying on my windowsill will be going into a tea pot soon.


I want to do so much more

Although my skills definitely aren't up to snuff enough for an allotment yet, I'll be looking to grow even more next year. You can get big pots really cheaply (or second-hand, even better) and grow just about anything in them. I'm hoping to try my hand at carrots, strawberries and peppers next year, and planning to get some kind of mini greenhouse or nursery in on the mix. I've definitely got the bug!

If you're even slightly interested I'd recommend purchasing a book or a few issues of Kitchen Garden magazine (my fave), and choosing some seeds to get started with. It doesn't matter how much space you have - even a windowsill or small patio is enough if it gets sunlight! Good luck!








Lockdown Thoughts




Things I miss, in no particular order...

Going to the cinema. The smell of overpriced popcorn lingering in the freezing cold air-con treated atmosphere. Buying pick 'n' mix and finishing it before the film's even started.

Going to a yoga class. In an actual studio, with actual people. Feeling the collective sigh of relief when it's time to flop into Savasana and let go, if only for a minute.

Being turfed out of the local Spoons at closing time and heading en masse to the kebab shop. Burning my mouth on sizzling hot spicy potatoes on the toddle home.

Hugging people. My parents, my sister, my gran, anyone. Not having to stop myself when I impulsively reach out to touch someone's arm.

Proper decaf in a proper mug in a proper coffee shop. With cake, obviously. Also, there are dogs there. And people from the village who always smile at Polly.

Sunday things. You know the ones. Plods around the garden centre for no reason in particular. The smell of your roast cooking while you wait at your table in the pub.

Driving, nowhere in particular, with the windows down and the music so loud the speakers crackle.

A pub quiz, but like, a real one. You know what I mean.

Taking Polly round to someone else's house and watching her bound around with joy at her new surroundings.

Being squashed in like sardines at a gig only for someone to light up a massive spliff right in front of you and obscure your view the whole time, but it's ok, because I love this song and I can feel the bass moving through my bones.

Excitedly writing something (anything) in my calendar.

People. Just people.


On slowing down and finding fulfilment in the quieter moments of life

Slow Living Home With Plants and Ikea Kallax Storage

Being 27 for me so far has mostly been about feeling like I'm stuck. I've done most of the stuff I spent my early twenties working towards. I bought a house, took on new responsibilities at work, gained an extra qualification, and even brought home a puppy. All of that brought with it some stress and threw plenty of hurdles my way, but I always felt like I was working towards some clear milestones. Now all of that is over, everything's lost momentum. Half the time I don't know whether I'm coming or going, and as much as I'm trying to work out what the next 'thing' is for me. That 'thing' made itself vary apparent a few weeks ago.


My Constantly Active Brain

I'm well aware that in always-on culture it might be seen as unhealthy for me to always be seeking the next goal. Us millennials are definitely known for our chronic sense of unfulfillment. But without something important to work towards, I'm not sure I know who I am. Since I was a kid I've always been achievement-oriented. I may not have been the class genius but I was always willing to put in the work. It gave me structure. It gave me self-esteem.

I've been no different in my career or my free time as an adult, from completing a post-grad diploma to taking online photography courses, blogging and even trying to perfect my chaturanga on the yoga mat. Productivity has always been the aim of the game. But lately, most of my extra-curricular activities have come to a natural halt, my energy levels are low, and I've no idea what to do next.

Always having something on the backburner has fuelled me through life so far, and if I'm honest, has probably been the one thing that's stopped me from going over the edge when my anxiety disorder strikes. When I give myself too much time to think I get into a rut and start to worry. I've always been unsettled by the idea of doing absolutely nothing in my spare time (unless it's by a pool, that's different!).


Battling Burnout

Recently it's gotten a bit ridiculous. On my weekends I'll fill every hour I can with mindless tasks. There are only so many times you can de-clutter the wardrobe or re-arrange the bookcase. I've even said no to some social occasions recently because they don't feel like productive ways to spend my time, which on reflection is really a surefire way of isolating myself and ending up feeling drained.

But I now: I just can't handle being bored. If I allow my brain to be freer, horrible thoughts creep in. Thoughts that I'm not spending my time wisely, that if I'm not careful I'll fall behind in life, that I'm good enough. I become so restless in my need to divert or distract from those feelings. But I've been so tired lately that my body can't catch up. I have to slow my brain down and learn to enjoy the 'space in-between'. I need to learn to just 'be'. In this modern life, we are rarely satisfied with what we have and where we are. If we're always chasing some perfect ideal or far-off goal, how can we possibly enjoy the present?

Band T Shirt Look

Small Steps

Over the last couple of weeks, I made some subtle changes at home. I've been scheduling in time to play Sims 4 in my pyjamas, taking hour-long baths, ignoring the odd household task I've placed so much importance on being completed perfectly, been out for leisurely brunches, gotten ready for bed at 6pm, pottered around in the garden with the dog in the sun - basically just existing like a normal human being who needs a bit of a rest and some breathing space. This might all sound really silly to some of you - I bet this is how you spend most weekends! But for someone who creates lengthy 'to do' lists out of nothing and then stresses about being able to complete them, lest I waste too much time sitting around stewing, it was actually hard to do.


Choosing Slowness

Once I got going though, it got easier. I found a more chilled out wavelength and elected to stay there. My inner critic tried to force me to be busy, but my inner friend told me I needed this. My partner said he'd found me much easier to live with, our dog seemed to think I was much more fun, nothing catastrophic happened. I felt less stressed (and more productive) at work. I felt lighter, brighter and happier to go with the flow. For anyone who feels like they're always half-way down an endless list of obligations, let me tell you that the only person you have an obligation to is yourself. Everything else will fall into place if you prioritise your own joy.

Slow Living Tips and Advice Pinterest Image


What to watch, read and listen to this weekend




If you’re wondering what’s new on Netflix this weekend, looking for your next podcast addiction or planning a road trip and need some tunes, I’ve got you covered! With the nights drawing in I’ve been tucking into more and more audiobooks and filling up the bath tub to warm up and relax – is there anything better?

Watch

The King

I tend not to remember much about the history lessons I had at school, but Shakespeare’s Henry V left me with a lot of enthusiasm for one short time-period in particular. The King is a retelling of this story, but it’s much shorter, way easier to understand and actually funny in places. There’s also an epic battle that reminds me of the Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones, and it stars Hollywood’s cutest weirdos Timothée Chalamet and Robert Pattinson. What’s not to like? Watch it on Netflix.

Explained

If you like a documentary but want something more bite-sized, these short Netflix episodes are ideal. Tackling everything from pandemic diseases to animal intelligence, tattoos, drugs and more, they average about 20 minutes per episode.

The Good Place

I forking love watching this when I’m feeling rubbish – I’ve never seen a TV show as pure and innocent as this. The show is in its final season and a new episode comes to Netflix each week, so now is the time to get into it if you haven’t yet.

Read

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Over the summer I read another Taylor Jenkins Reid book (Daisy Jones and the Six) and the format had me absolutely hooked. Enter The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Told from the point of view of a journalist interviewing her for a biography, we follow the life and loves of the enigmatic and beautiful Hollywood starlet Evelyn Hugo. It’s funny and glamorous and scandalous and sad. I’d highly recommend getting both in Audible format if you can as the incredible voice actors paint a vivid picture. Both books are also being adapted for screens which I can see working well!

Refinery 29’s Money Diaries

If you’re after some shorter pieces to read when you have some downtime, I’ve been combing through the back catalogues of the MoneyDiaries section on the Refinery 29 website. Each article is a weekly spending diary of a different woman. The salaries, jobs and lifestyles of the (anonymous) writers vary hugely and it’s fascinating as someone who’s really trying to make their money go further to hear what people do with their cash, or lack of it.

Listen

Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Parts One and Two) by Foals

I’ve loved Foals since I set my Myspace profile song to ‘Balloons’, but they’ve come a long way since playing tiny venues full of teenagers. This year they’ve put out a big two-part catalogue of atmospheric alternative tracks and I can’t stop listening to it. Give it a play when you feel like chilling out.

Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad

If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts (I mean, who isn’t?) then give The Murder Squad a listen. The attraction of this series is that both hosts have a lot of credentials behind them, so you get a much deeper insight into how killers are found and caught, and why most of the cases they discuss remain unsolved. Paul Holes, a former cold-case investigator, and Billy Jensen, a renowned crime journalist, need your help to identify victims, locations and killers – can you help?

There’s plenty to get your teeth into here while stuck inside and watching the November rain fall (accidental G’n’R reference for the win). I’d love to hear some of your own recommendations as I’ve almost chomped my way through this entire list! Tweet me @kellyannerist.

Lush Christmas 2019

It's been a while since I last blogged about an event, but I wanted to share what I learned at the Lush Cambridge Christmas range launch. They kindly invited me to their event so that I could tell you all about it. I've got some awesome product recommendations for you all and my own Christmas list is getting longer!

I love giving people Lush gifts for Christmas (and birthdays!) because they're the kind of little luxuries we sometimes don't think to treat ourselves to. Plus, if you do choose to wrap them up and put them under the tree, your house will smell amazing.


The Christmas range includes soaps, bath melts (some of which are designed to hang on the tree until your Christmas day bath, various lotions and potions, and of course... bath bombs! My absolute favourite Butterbear bath bombs sadly aren't in the range this year, however the cute little bear is back in soap form and is super moisturising. Snow Apple and Yog Nog are divine fragrances I've not tried before, and of course Snow Fairy is back in stores.


The thing that impressed me most about the range is that so many of the products are free of packaging or designed to reduce waste. From naked shower gels and body lotions (solid to liquid formulas that don't require plastic bottles) to bath bombs that come in two, or even 3 pieces, they've thought of everything.


You can find the Lush Christmas range both in store and online right now - I love to get my Christmas shopping done nice and early so I'll be back again shortly. 

Every Book I've Read in 2019 So Far

This year I promised myself I'd read a lot more books. I've gone all in, with themes from crime and romance, non=fiction, mythology and even rock 'n' roll!

Since I learned to drive and said goodbye to the train commute I had turned to music and podcasts for entertainment, and my evenings are usually spent at the gym or in front of the telly. I fell into a book slump, feeling uninspired and unable to stick at any one title long enough to immerse myself the story.

So, in January, I made myself a promise - I was going to read 20 books before 2020 and get back into the reading groove.

Here's every book I've read so far in 2019, along with a few thoughts and recommendations. And don't worry, they're spoiler free!

book pages by window while reading


Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, John Edward Douglas and Mark Olshaker 

If you’re into true crime, you’ve probably watched the series of the same name. Mindhunter is an inside look at how Special Agent John Douglas used behavioural science to profile some of the most prolific serial killers in America. It’s fascinating and disturbing and gives you a raw insight into what it’s really like to sit across the table from a stone cold killer. 8/10


Normal People, Sally Rooney

I thought that this book would be a little overly ‘romantic’ for my tastes, but I’m happy to admit that I was wrong. This is a down to earth exploration of the complicated, raw emotions that come with young-adult relationships and growing up. While the characters lives are certainly more dramatic than my own, there was a lot I could identify with. A big twist towards the end of the book had me picking my jaw up off the floor. I couldn’t put this one down. 9/10


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton

The premise of this novel is as complicated to read as it is to explain. Let me attempt it: During a night of celebrations, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. The narrator, a guest at the party, must live out the day's events in the body of a different guest each time, again and again, until he identifies the killer. I expected a lot from this Sunday Times best-seller, but to be honest, it was all over the place. There are so many different tiny plot threads being strung together with very little in the way of clues or an explanation of why this is happening to the narrator. The author really wants you to work for it. So much so that I made it two-thirds of the way through and completely gave up. This had so much potential but didn’t do enough to keep me reading. 3.5/10.


Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

After enduring and ultimately DNF-ing the above, I turned to Neil Gaiman for some good old-fashioned myths. I wouldn’t say I’m a history buff, but Gaiman’s retellings of some classic Norse legends are succinct, humorous and beautifully written. It’s more like a collection of short stories or fables. If you’re even remotely familiar with the Marvel world of Thor and Loki, you’ll really enjoy learning about where their characters come from. 8/10


The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living, Mark Boyle

I read about Mark Boyle in an article somewhere and while the concept sounds extreme, I felt like there was a lot to be learned from the way he lives his life. Mark left his job and gave up all money for an entire year, relying on second-hand items, self-sufficient food and energy production and the goodwill of others for an entire year. While it’s not something I’m sure is for me, it did make me hyper-aware of all the unnecessary purchases I’ve made in the past, and made me conscious of how much waste our capitalist-fuelled lifestyles produce. A really important read. 7.5/10


Daisy Jones and The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

The premise of this book sounds pretty cheesy: Daisy Jones, a musician and socialite, joins The Six, a fictional rock band on the cusp of greatness, and drug-fuelled rock ‘n’ roll escapades and melodramatics ensue. But the reviews led me to give it a chance, and I loved it. The book tackles issues like addiction, abortion and infidelity addressed in a very real way. There’s also a little twist at the end that brought a tear to my eye. The book is structured a little like a Rolling Stone interview or some kind of rockumentary, with each character giving a journalist their view on what happened. For this reason, I’d strongly recommend getting the Audible recording. The chosen voice actors are brilliant. It’s so atmospheric and gritty that I kept having to remind myself it’s all fictional. My favourite read of the year so far. Just get it. 9.5/10


Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Everyone’s favourite true crime podcast hosts have finally released their book. I had my reservations, with many celeb/influencer book deals often leading to underwhelming ghostwritten coffee table books. This one is different. Taking it in turns to write the chapters, Karen and Georgia explore how they got into true crime and the events of their past that brought them to where they are today. Their voices are very distinct, as though chatting with a friend, and as you might expect from these two, there’s plenty of swearing! If you love the podcast, you’ll love this. I only wish it were longer as I wanted even more tales of their escapades. Again, the audiobook is a must. 8/10


American Gods, Neil Gaiman

This is a tricky one to review. American Gods has everything a Neil Gaiman novel should have: history, the supernatural, mythology surrounding the old and new gods of America, really weird characters. For some reason though, I feel like it’s missing something. The main character is a bit dense, it takes a while to get to the point of why any of the events of the book are even happening, and it feels like a much longer read than it needs to be. I’ve yet to watch the TV series adapted from this book, but I can see why the drawn-out plot would do well as a show as there’s plenty of suspense as well as a lot of travel from one place to another. I wanted to like this so much, but for me it fell a bit flat. 6/10


What's Next?

In the spirit of pushing myself to read even more I've joined a local book club! The next book coming up is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I've read some of her work before so I'm excited to see what this has in store!

Have you read any of the books listed above? What did you think of them? 

I Got a Lash Lift for the First Time – Thoughts and Before and After Photos


If you know me IRL, then you probably know that I don't really wear eye makeup anymore. I used to love a thick cat eye, but a series of allergic reactions to mascaras have lead me go bare most of the time these days. I'd been thinking about getting an LVL Lash Lift for well over a year, but as my eyes are sensitive I put it off. 

My lovely friend Yasmin offers the treatment at her home salon, based in North Cambridge. She very kindly offered to let me try out the lash lift* free of charge so that I could see how I got on with it, and share it with you guys!

The treatment is normally £35 and can be repeated every 6 weeks should you wish - or you can simply have them now and again to treat yourself. Yasmin's lash lift products are completely vegan and cruelty-free, which is a huge bonus for me as I'm trying to make sure my beauty and skincare are as kind to my skin and the earth/its inhabitants as they can be.

How the Lash Lift Works

As my skin and eyes can be temperamental, I made sure I went for the patch test a couple of days before. A small blob of each part of the treatment (the dye and the keratin solution) are placed discreetly under a small plaster, and if 24 hours later you haven't experienced a reaction, you should be good to go.

The LVL Lash Lift treatment takes around an hour - 15 mins to prep you and gently apply guards to the eyelids, then three separate solutions to curl, colour and set the lashes in place. We used a medium roller to give a good amount of lift with a natural looking curl. My lashes are fairly long and dark when natural, but need a helping hand to stay curled!

Although it does feel bloody weird to have your eyelashes in a roller, it's not uncomfortable or irritating at all. In fact, after half an hour with my eyes closed, Yas is lucky I didn't fall asleep.

My Lash Lift Result


Top: Before
Bottom: After

I'm honestly so happy with the result. Thanks to the lash lift my eyes look more open and my makeup looks more put together even without any mascara or eyeshadow. The lashes are a little darker (great if you're blonde and have light lashes!) and perfectly curled.

No filter needed with these natural lashes!

Over the next 6 weeks, they will gradually go back to normal, so it's a very low maintenance treatment. Perfect for me as with sensitive eyes lash extensions aren't an option. I'll definitely be going back to Yasmin's Cambridge home salon for another treatment before my holiday later this year!

If you're in the Cambridge area I can't recommend this girl enough! She's a boss at what she does, whether you need LVL, extensions or a spray tan. Visit Yasmin's instagram here, and book yourself an appointment here.

*This post includes products or services that were provided at a discount or free of charge. That said, I will never promote something that I wouldn't love, use or purchase myself and all views are completely my own.

Life Lately: Finding Balance, Learning Not to Give a Shit, Making Plans


I've noticed a shift this summer in the way that I've been spending my time. No doubt the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that I haven't written anything for you in a while (it's now autumn), and that I've taken a few breaks here and there from social media. It's been a bit of a revelation, to say the least.

The more time I spend offline, with friends (old and new) and family, the more I feel like my real self and the more I've let go of wanting to fit into a certain 'blogger girl' mould. I've been far less critical of myself, less concerned with trends, and much better at "self care". Living with anxiety is hard enough without the internet adding to my worries.

Being More 'Present'

I've spent so much time eating, drinking, socialising, taking road trips, throwing a frisbee around, chilling in the garden, and working towards a new qualification for my job, that I just don't have the time to give to mindlessly scrolling anymore.

I'm using apps like Instragram less, but with much more intent (more on this here). I spend time following the accounts that make me feel good, and the same goes for other social media too. I've made some great memories instead of aaaaalways having my eyes on my phone. I've just gotten back from a holiday where I only took TEN photos. Unheard of for me, but I was just enjoying the rare chance to relax and recharge.

Learning Resilience

Something I've also been working on is growing a thicker skin, and learning not to take everything to heart. It's definitely easier said than done. I'm happy to admit that I've always been a sensitive person, and that taking things personally is my default setting. I'm guessing I'm not alone here.

BUT I'm continually telling myself that the way someone speaks to me or the words they choose to use are always more of a reflection on themselves than an indication I've done something wrong. I think it's working?

Personal Development

I've also embarked on a new marketing qualification, which involves a lot of work outside of my usual working hours. My evenings and weekends have suddenly been consumed by it for the last few weeks, and it's really testing my knowledge and helping me to improve my skillset. 

With any luck we'll also finally be buying our first house soon, so there will be plenty to do when it comes to moving. The timing of the move and my assignment dates are about as clashy as it could get, but I'm also aware of how lucky I am and how hard I've worked to be able to do either of these things at 26. 

I'm telling myself that all will be fine and go smoothly (fingers crossed!), and looking forward to making some serious interiors plans for when I've got a set of keys in my hands and an assignment submission receipt in my inbox.

So really, life for me at the moment has been about prioritising the things that truly serve me and setting myself up for the future. Sadly that means that blog posts may continue to be sparse into the autumn months, but I still enjoy sitting down to post every now and again so just know that I won't forget about it completely! I could never give up this space that I spent so long creating.

How to (easily) cut down on your social media usage


If you ever feel like you spend too much time on social media, then know you're not alone. There have now been countless studies into the negative affects of social media on mental health, and it has even been classed as an addiction by psychologists. So how can you cut down without a) going completely cold turkey and b) making yourself feel guilty about it?

This time last year I went from a job in marketing to going full-on social media, and while it can be a lot of fun I began to feel like the lines were blurring between 'me time' and the amount of time I was spending scrolling various social media apps. It's not good for your mental health, with comparison and F.O.M.O. having serious negative affects. It's not good for your physical health either, with a rise in "text neck", repetitive strain and poor sleep all attributed to our growing dependency on social media.

Here's how I've managed to cut right down, while making sure I am spending the time I've saved wisely.

Get an Alarm Clock. Like, a Real One. 

Remember those? Head straight out to the nearest supermarket or Argos and grab yourself a basic electronic alarm clock. When you go to bed, set the alarm and put your phone on the other side of the room. That way when you wake up there’s no danger of being sucked into an Instagram vortex. If the loud buzzing isn't for you, you can even set them to wake you up with the radio - the wonders of ancient technology! You might even leave for work on time.

Download the Moment App

This app has been a huge help in reminding me just how much time I waste scrolling my social apps. Moment tracks your phone usage, pickups and more, and helps you train yourself to be more disciplined. The app allows you to set a daily time limit and will notify you when your time is up, and you can even set yourself extended challenges to help you cut down. It’s a little hard on your battery, but you won’t need that power for scrolling anyway so it’s a win-win. Since downloading Moment I've gone from spending up to five hours a day scrolling my phone aimlessly, to two and a half hours or less most days. The time limit means I'm more focused about what I do when the phone is in my hand.


Turn Off those Push Notifications. Right Now.

How many times have you been minding your own business, only to see a message pop up from twitter or Instagram? You can't help but tap it, and suddenly you’re down the rabbit hole, totally engrossed in your feed. You blink and a hour has passed, it’s getting dark and your stomach is rumbling. Since I switched off all push notifications bar actual messages and personal emails, I’ve probably halved the amount of unsolicited scroll-athons I’ve got myself caught up in each day. You can check your apps a couple of times a day when you really have the time to and it doesn’t encroach on your life quite so much.


Find a Reaaaally Good Netflix Show

I’m not talking about binge watching old episodes of Friends here. Find something you’ve never watched before that reeeeally interests you and makes you think. For me at the moment that’s The Alienist. It's got crime, gore and psychological thrills aplenty. It’s also kind of intense and complicated, so if I look away for too long I suddenly have no idea what’s going on. And that means that I have no choice but to put my phone down and pay attention. I'm not mad about it.

Reorganise Your Home Screen

This one is kind of simple, but it will probably have a big impact on your behaviour. I moved a couple of my most used apps (I’m looking at you Facebook, aka time-sponge) to the last 'page' of my homescreen, put more productive ones at the front, and now I hardly ever open the ones I've moved out of temptation's way.

Listen to Podcasts

This time last year I hadn’t listened to an entire podcast before, and now it’s pretty much all I do! Depending on what I choose to listen to I can keep up with current affairs and social trends, or simply be entertained. The best thing about this is that I can be very hands off and just leave it to play. Whether I’m doing housework or just relaxing, it’s great to be preoccupied without feeling like I’m vegetating in front of my phone. I love My Favourite Murder for some light serial killer entertainment (are you sensing a theme in my tastes here?) and Happy Place with Fearne Cotton to relax and unwind.

Get an iPod for the Gym

I head to the gym to unwind, get a bit of a sweat on and move my body, but I was finding that taking my phone with me for music was leading to me getting distracted by Instagram and Twitter rather than giving my brain a break. Try switching to an iPod, preferably without a screen, and see what difference it'll make to leave your phone at home or in your locker for an hour.

These are just some of the ways that I've managed to make big changes to my social media habits. Every day is different, so go easy on yourself and find what works for you - it's all about having a healthier relationship with your phone and the internet. Good luck!

Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

We've all heard tales of women using their bodies as weapons, but what if they really were deadly? What if Women were something to be feared? Naomi Alderman asks these questions and more in The Power.


It's not hard to see why this book has attracted so much attention. In an age that many are describing as a 'fourth wave' of feminism, The Power plays out an alternative scenario to modern history, one that tears down the patriarchal constructs we know all too well. It was awarded the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction last year and is by all accounts a critically acclaimed best seller.

So what's it all about?

The book centres around 4 main characters, switching perspectives every few chapters. Young girls are suddenly beginning to find that they can awaken an almost supernatural ability to inflict extreme pain on others using a kind of electrical current, generated from a previously undiscovered gland called a 'skein'. Men everywhere are terrified, and the power is beginning to spread across the globe.

The novel is presented as a historical account, book-ended by letters between its male author and his female editor. There are even diagrams of historical artifacts between chapters - read the descriptions, they're pretty clever. As each section of the book passes, we inch closer to a cataclysmic event (which I won't go into detail about for spoilers' sake). As the power provides women with the means to take control of society and governments attempt to regulate its use, underground religious movements spring up across the globe, a drug lord's daughter finds ways to take advantage of the new order, and a male journalist finds himself helplessly trapped in a country on the verge of collapse.

As much as it pains me to quote cheesy superhero films in a book review, "with great power comes great responsibility". As previously oppressed groups of women begin to realise they can easily manipulate, injure and kill the men that once kept them in chains, the tables are turned and things get out of hand. Thousands of years if sexism and misogyny are reversed in the course of only a few years, resulting in sheer chaos. After years of lying dormant, the power is difficult to contain.

The Power begins as a kind of feminist sci-fi/fantasy tale, but as the pace intensifies (and rarely lets up for more than a beat) things turn violent, and at times graphic. It morphs into a bold fable against the dangers of oppression. Let it shock you - it's meant to.

Naomi Alderman's writing is page-turning. It's action-packed enough to push the story along at lightning pace, but at times is also beautifully descriptive, slowing down occasionally to let the message sink in. It's also packed with humour and sarcasm, which balances out the seriousness and makes it a truly entertaining read. The perspectives used each have distinct personalities and voices, and Alderman uses them with finesse to imply powerful observations about human nature and, of course, gender.

Like most, I expected to read The Power and come away feeling empowered. I definitely enjoyed (in an almost sadistic way) seeing women take control in situations where they would otherwise have been powerless. But also felt as though Alderman was warning us that it will take difficult and by all accounts extraordinary events to truly chance the state of play. This is more than just a revenge story.

I urge you all (whether you're a woman or not) to read this book, if only so I can talk at length with more people about it. This is a book that forces you to hold a mirror up to the current state of play  and to question the unwritten rules of modern society. How acceptable would the atrocious acts of oppression committed against women every day in the present day be if the roles were suddenly reversed?