Sunday, 28 September 2014

Pay Day Haul - H&M & Primark Goodies!

The H&M website really annoys me as it shows not even half of the range they sell in stores. I couldn't find either of the dresses I picked up online to share with you all! I bought this navy textured dress for work as it looks really smart on - the skater dress cut is flattering on any figure and is definitely a favourite style. At only £12.99 this was a steal. For £14.99 I also picked up this pattered smock dress. On the hanger it looks like Homer Simpson's MooMoo dress, but on it's a swishy dream. I'll team it with ankle boots and some leggings. You cannot go wrong with H&M leggings. At £5.99 they are thick and don't bobble.

Primark have a pretty good footwear range at the moment and while I don't always trust the quality, these boots look pretty sturdy and at £10 mean I can update my autumn wardrobe without breaking the bank. I'm a size 7-8 depending on the brand so I chose these carefully - from the front you can't tell how big my feet are! I also picked up some tights and socks because things are getting a little chillier!

What will you spend your well earned pay on this month?


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Books that Changed My Perspective

It's no secret that I'm something of a book worm, but my English degree (which feels like forever ago despite the fact that I graduated a little over a year ago!) has helped me encounter some novels that I probably otherwise wouldn't have even glanced at in a bookshop. I thought I'd take some time to share a small selection of books that left a lasting impression on me and changed the way I think, in the hope that some of you will pick them up and have the same experience.

George Orwell, 1984 (1949) - A 20th Century classic if there ever was one. To me this novel is one of the greatest works in existence. Not because of it's literary prowess (the language is fairly simple and easy to understand, for good reason), but because of its revolutionary content. The first time I sat down to read this I thought I was in for a boring few hours, but I quickly became absolutely hooked. The story itself is exciting and sinister, as Winston Smith quietly rebels against a futuristic totalitarian regime and ends up exposed, captured and tortured. The work Orwell puts into constructing this future is astounding and really made me think about the government, the reliability of information and just how much we are watched and monitored. I think we could all use a wakeup call where that's concerned. This is a must read for everyone ever.

Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night & Sunday Morning (1958) - If you're an Arctic Monkeys fan you'll have already heard a direct quote from this 1950s classic. The album 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' quotes protagonist Arthur Seaton directly. And rightly so. This book explores the humdrum existence of a northern factory worker in a very working class Britain. The novel is widely cited as being part of the 'Angry Young Men' movement of the 50s and is a tale of affairs, fist fights and drunken shenanigans. For the most part it's really entertaining and quite funny, but it is also touching in it's portrayal of a working class divided by submissiveness and anger, as well as the plight of the women of this world. If you have grandparents who were young adults in this era this might make you see them in a whole new light.

Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) - This book eventually became the cult classic film Blade Runner and is one of the most popular sci-fi novels of all time. It's kind of hard to sum up the plot without explaining the whole thing but it really made me think about our relationship with technology and the way television, phones etc have turned us into zombies. It's a fairly short book and well worth a read on the train to work!

Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991) - If you've never read Bret Easton Ellis before, be prepared. This is not material for the faint of heart. This novel is one of my all time favourites and is very heavy going but makes some hard hitting points about modern life that make it totally worth trudging through. If you've seen the watered-down screen adaptation starring Christian Bale you'll be familiar with his character, Patrick Bateman. Patrick is a sophisticated, affluent wall street psychopath, who adores designer products, is rather off the rails and loves nothing more than to chop up the odd prostitute on the weekend while high on cocaine. Yep. You heard me right. It isn't an easy read but American Psycho presents an amazing criticism of the accelerated lifestyle of the American professional and the relationship between sex, drugs and violence. Again, not for the faint hearted!

Which books have left a lasting impression on you?


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Some Home Bits and Bobs!

It's no big secret that while renting is probably the best thing for Mat and I to do at the moment while we try and sort our savings (or lack of them) out, I hate living somewhere I can't decorate. We're plagued with wall-to-wall magnolia when all I want is white, white, white, and can't nail anything into the walls.

Despite this I have been on the hunt for little trinkets and ornaments that will make the place feel more homeley and reflect a bit more of ourselves. Here are a few of my favourite additions - I had planned to include more but it's been so dark and dreary over the weekend that I couldn't get any decent looking photos!

This heart decoration was from Asda believe it or not. Supermarket home ranges are getting a whole lot better and becoming a lot more affordable these days. This isn't available online but is in store for about £3.00!

No home is complete without flowers! This was from the Next Home summer range - I do like the butterfly detail but I might have to get hold of a more plain one for the autumn/winter season and store this elsewhere.

This little shelf on my dressing table is slowly filling with trinkets! I love these jewellery stands as storing it all away in boxes stops me from bothering to wear it. The same goes for makeup - these mock Muji drawers I found on eBay for about £8.00 make rotating beauty products so easy.

The photo clip included in this month's Birchbox inspired me to introduce some more personal things like postcards, photographs and ticket stubs into my interior - just because I can't hang them on the walls doesn't mean I can't display them somehow. I regularly pick up little postcards in Paperchase and museums as well as when on holiday. It's a bit of an addiction.

How you you put your stamp on your home?


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Taking Stock - Inspired by Holly in Your Pocket

I spied this post format over on Holly in Your Pocket the other day and just couldn't resist having a go! I really like this kind of exercises because they're good at making you stop and think about where you are in life and what's really important. If you want to have a go let me know as I'd love to see everyone else's! Here goes nothing:

Making :: time to just chill, for myselfCooking :: my lunch! Pasta it is on a lazy Sunday, no roast today!

Drinking :: green tea

Reading :: a couple of books on meditation

Wanting :: to go on holiday!Looking :: forward to autumn and winter

Playing :: if only I had time to play my Xbox these days

Deciding :: to let some things goWishing :: for some time to think

Enjoying :: my new job - it's pretty fast paced but I love it

Waiting :: for a hospital appointment on Wednesday. Oh how I loathe them

Liking :: the chilly but sunny weather

Wondering :: what the future will hold now I'm moving forward

Loving :: living with Mat in a little bubble but still being close enough to see family and friends lots

Pondering :: I try not to ponder too much in case I get anxious over something silly

Considering :: an actual serious budget to stick to financially

Watching :: Supernatural. I'm already a huge fan but Mat is just catching up before season 10 begins next month

Hoping :: to sort out a decent gym routine I can make progress with

Smelling :: a spicy Christmas candle - it's that time of year almost!

Wearing :: a big comfy jumper

Noticing :: the leaves changing

Feeling :: refreshed

Buying :: some new foundation. Nothing special I know but I was in need of something better suited to my skin type

Getting :: Excited for the seasons changing - did I mention that already?

Snacking :: on ALL the wrong things

Hearing :: some heavier stuff I listened to a few years ago, so nostalgic

What are you taking stock of right now?

Life Lately: An Instagram Round-up!

I've been both really busy and a bit lazy lately, by which I mean real life has been absolutely mad and blogging has fallen by the wayside slightly. This weekend however I am lucky enough to have virtually NO plans! Unheard of! This means I'll be catching up on blogging, planning some great posts and filling you all in on what I've been up to lately.

I thought I'd start things off with an Instagram round-up post of the last couple of weeks - can you believe I've never done an Instagram post before? Neither could I!

1. My first Yo!Sushi experience with some good friends. 2. A good brekkie is the best thing about the weekend! 3. Our bedroom has a damp problem at the moment so a good clean and a dressing table refresh cheered me up! 4. Mat and I at a family party, can't beat 'em. 5. Delicious cupcakes from The Little Cupcake Company stand in the city centre. 6. My friend put up a projector in her room and it was awesome.

What have you been up to lately?


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Taking Steps Towards Self Love

Self Love is something of a buzz phrase around here at the moment, but it's one I find it hard to resent. After all, how could looking after number one becoming trendy be a bad thing?! I often struggle to do what's right for me, mainly out of a strange sense of obligation I have to always be doing something and to always get things finished before I sit down.

I do however think that no matter how busy and hectic our lives are, there are steps that can be taken to minimise the impact always being on the go has on our health, both mentally and physically. Recently I've been exploring ways I can achieve this and while I definitely do slip I feel a lot better for it.

Switch off - After starting a new job recently I find I'm always on the go. Most of the time I don't have time to take a proper lunch break and I often stay late to get things done. Unfortunately that's just the way it is, but being at a screen for most of the day can make it hard for me to turn of my brain and give my eyes a rest before bed. I'm trying to use my evenings for chill time and not watch too much TV or waste time gawking at my Instagram feed. I also desperately need to re-introduce reading time because lately I miss spending time with a good book. We'll see how that one goes.

Eat well - I am failing massively with this one. I find self restraint with food rather difficult and have developed a serious sugar addiction. It doesn't make me feel great! I think most people battle with this one - convenience is more important to us than what the food we choose is doing to our body. I think for me the next step is a more structured meal plan to ensure I don't end up at the office vending machine with a grumbling tummy because I've skipped breakfast again. One thing I do fairly well at is drinking lots of water. I think it's helped stop the chocolate and Doritos from erupting my skin although I do still seem to get oilier when I eat poorly.

Exercise - When it comes to this I do OK, I usually manage to hit the gym 2-4 times a week depending on how busy I am and how tired I feel. I definitely don't run marathons, the chance would be a fine thing. Sitting at a desk for hours and hours can really harm our health though, so scheduling an hour or even just 20 minutes to hit the gym or get outside every few days is a must.

Experience - It can be difficult to motivate yourself to try new things or indulge your inner wanderlust when working Monday to Friday and struggling to balance work, money, relationships etc. It's important to realise though that there really are more important things that work and stressing out. Go visit an old friend, save up for a city break, go on a date, try the meditation class you've been wondering about - take time to really live your life!

Some bloggers make self love look easy as pie, but don't be fooled. Eating right, sleeping well and running 25k a week is no easy but taking baby steps towards a more balanced lifestyle could lead to you making a habit of it. Why not give it a go? I know I will be.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

What's in my September Birchbox?

This month's Birchbox theme is 'Happy Days'! The idea here is that September tends to be a month filled with both nostalgia and mid-year resolutions as we think back to the way the beginning of school terms used to feel, We may not have new pencil cases but Birchbox sure makes up for that with a good selection of products. Although many beauty boxes seem to have gone out of fashion or run out of good products to give out, these guys have yet to disappoint me. A really nice touch is that this month's box can also be used as a cute DIY photo frame if you're feeling crafty!

Agave Healing Oil Treatment (full size £16) - I have always been sceptical about hair oils, mainly since wasting £8 on those VO5 hot oil things and being bitterly disappointed. This however is a wonder product. I used it this morning and my hair is soft and silky as anything. There's enough for 2 treatments in this little bottle, 3 if you've got short or fine hair. I'm not sure I would pay £16 so I'll keep my eye out for similar products in Boots et al.

Benefit It's Potent Eye Cream (full size £25.50) - This is about the cutest sample I've ever received in it's teeny tiny box and teeny tiny glass pot! Eye cream goes a long way so I think I'll get a lot out of this, but as for it's claims to reduce dark circles only time will tell.

Premae Mild Dermabrasion Face & Body Scrub (full size £25) - In no universe ever will you find me  paying above £20 for skincare. However this scrub has a lovely scent and seems a tad reminiscent of St Ives scrubs, It does the job but you could probably find better for less.

Korres Citrus Body Milk (full size £9.50) - This is my first try of a Korres product and the scent is gorgeous. I can certainly see why people like their body lotions. I have to admit I normally opt for body butters as they are richer and go further, but this was really lovely to apply and not sticky like some moisturising products.

ModelCo Lip Laquer in 'Morocco' (full size £15) - This month Birchbox let subscribers choose a ModelCo product to receive which was a pleasant change! From two shades of lip laquer and a mascara I chose Morocco. I'm drowning in mascaras and need to get them used up so a lip product was on the cards! This isn't particularly pigmented but wears very nicely with a subtle sheen and no stickiness at all. I think it'll go in my handbag as the dinky size is perfect.

Urban Fruit Smashing Strawberry (lifestyle product) - This 100% fruit snack will be going into my goodies drawer at work! It's literally just yummy dried fruit, no processing involved.

Happy Days Photo Clip (lifestyle product) - If like me you're a bit too lazy to construct your DIY box photo frame, never fear! Birchbox have given every user a handy (and cute) photo clip to brighten up your desk or dressing table. What will you do with yours?

You can subscribe to Birchbox here* for a monthly box, and don't forget to visit the store for free delivery on this month's brands!

*This link is my referral link - You don't have to click it but I will get some extra reward points if you do!

Friday, 5 September 2014

8 reasons being a pessimist is secretly awesome

Let me start this post by saying that I myself am a natural pessimist. I see my glass as half empty far more often than half full. That's not to say I'm never positive or happy, or that I'm unfriendly or horrible to be around (hopefully). It can sometimes make things a struggle but there are some hidden benefits to being a naturally negative person. Not that us pessimists will ever admit this because that would be far too jubilant!

8. You will never be disappointed with a rubbish gift because you were expecting it.

7. You probably injure yourself less.

6. You may actually live longer than your happy-go-lucky friends.

5. You will always exceed your own expectations.

4. People are much less likely to notice when you're actually feeling pretty miserable.

3. You have carefully played out every potential apocalyptic end-of-world scenario in your head for 'when the time comes'.

2. Your friends will always come to you for a good old whinge and moan.

1. You have these weird moments where you actually totally enjoy life and everything is hilarious, and that makes those moments all the more memorable.

© kelly anne rist

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