Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Does wearing makeup make me less of a feminist?

The answer to the question I've used to title this post is both complicated and not - I really don't think wearing make up could ever make you any less of a woman, any less real, any less anything. There is no set criteria for what makes someone a feminist other than wanting equality and harmony between the sexes. The real issue lies in why we would ever have made such a ridiculous claim to begin with. There's been a lot of talk over the last couple of weeks over the relationship between make up and feminism, and while I really don't care to write an evidenced-based essay on which side of the fence I fall, I thought I'd talk a little about what it means to me.

As a twelve year old with a very, very oily T-Zone and a monobrow to rival a werewolves, I found myself purchasing cheap W7 powder and lipgloss from a local market stall. My friends and I would sneak this on during lunch at school. It made us feel a little more comfortable, just a little more grown up.Prior to this I only really had those cheap, sort of pretend make up sets that I would apply strictly at home and pretend to be a Spice Girl or a member of S Club 7. Cool, huh?

During my early teens I got a little wacky with make up thanks to a gothy stage, with white face powder (I know, ridiculous), black and red eyeshadow a la My Chemical Romance and as much chipped black nail varnish as I could get my hands on. I also finally tackled the wolf brows and embarked on a MySpace selfie series to rival all others. I enjoyed using make up more like face paint and yeah I was a tad weird but I feel like that period of self expression is something I needed to go through. It helped me identify with a culture.

I mostly moved on from this once I hit year 11 and Sixth Form, and actually went really minimal for a while in terms of not really bothering with eyes and lips. Even in my first year of uni I didn't go particularly overboard and always stuck to cheap brands like 17 and Rimmel, which a few years ago weren't exactly game changing with their products.

The rest of uni was spent too wrapped up in books to be wholly bothered by make up, but I did develop a signature look involving winged eyeliner that made me feel like I'd at least made half an effort and kept a little of my former edginess.

These days make up is partly about making my skin look its best - the stress of working and moving as well as some baaaaad eating habits have not been kind to me and I have to admit I long for the virtually spot free if slightly shiny skin of my late teens. I do enjoy experimenting with different looks though and have been investing more in quality products but I don't ever take make up too seriously.

I know there are probably are people out there whose relationship with make up is a little unhealthy, but what that has to do with feminism is totally beyond me. Wear make up for you, nobody else. If you do that you really can't go wrong!

How do you feel about your relationship with make up?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

5 things I've learnt this year so far

I spotted this post by Rocio over on Let it Be Cosy and I couldn't resist pinching the format. We're getting towards the end of the year now and looking back I've definitely learnt a lot. From changing jobs to moving in with my boyfriend, 2014 so far has been challenging but rewarding.
  1. Change doesn't have to be scary. I would never have thought this time last year that I would've left my miserable old job for an exciting new work opportunity, or that I would be living in Cambridge. And yet here I am, it didn't hurt too much and things can only get better!
  2. I can bake. Kind of. I've made a few successful desserts and biscuit batches this year. I'm working towards making things like granola bars and healthy snacks though as I've developed a humongous sweet tooth. 
  3. Yoga is the way forward. For the last 6 month's I've been practising a couple of times a week and not only has my balance improved but it helps me feel calm AND I can now touch my toes which even as I child I couldn't.
  4. I am definitely an introvert. Moving in with Mat and not having my own bedroom all to myself to hibernate in has helped me learn how badly I need time completely alone to recharge. Most of the time I can slink off with a book to reboot and look inward a little but I'm still finding the balance.
  5. I'm not that bad a driver. By which I mean I've been behind the wheel for almost a year and haven't hit anyone or lost my no claims bonus. All jokes aside I was very nervous to learn to drive but it's probably the best thing I could have done in terms of independence and exchanging my 3 hours a day spent on public transport for some extra time relaxing.
What have you found out about yourself this year?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Feeling the Burn: How to Make Your Candles Last Longer

Candles can be expensive, but with the dark nights creeping in they feel like the perfect way to snuggle up and keep the home feeling nice and warm. Whether your candles cost you £2 in Primark or £40 in Jo Malone, it can be hard to get the most from then and it's disappointing when burn times don't live up to their claims (insert joke about getting on your wick here). Since investing in the to die for Melt Autumn candle however I've picked up a few tips and tricks to avoid disappointment.

The first burn is the deepest - Literally. The first time you burn a candle creates the indentation that future burns will follow. The first time you light a new candle try and burn it for as long as possible - a good couple of hours if it's a big candle.

Trim ya wick - Every time you burn your candle, trim the wick before you light it. A long wick causes the wax to burn away too fast so cut it down to 4-5mm to slow things down. Don't cut too short though, or the wick will drown and the flame will whither away!

Avoid a breeze - Drafts can cause an uneven burn and eventually lead to the collapse of the candle. Try to burn candles away from windows and doorways, and rotate them a quarter turn each time you light.

Go it alone - Putting candles side by side may make your space look like a magical fairy grotto, but the heat from a neighbouring flame can cause the candle to become unstable on one side and lead to collapse. If you must burn more than one, try to space them out as much as you can.

Now go forth and enjoy a snuggly, candlelit evening or two!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Coping with Anxiety

To many who know me it's no secret that I've struggled with Generalised Anxiety Disorder since my mid-teens. It's something that has ups and downs, good days and bad days, and it's something that I feel I've finally learned to manage as well as I can. I thought I'd share with you some top tips for coping when anxiety and panic try and get the better of you.

Take a step back - Worried about a particular situation? Take your mind off it for a while and give your nervous system a rest. Whether it's stepping away from your desk for a solo walk, reading some fiction for an hour, going for a run, anything goes. Just do something that will clear your head. Whatever you do, don't just sit there. I find that if I can break the cycle of anxious thoughts in my head by distracting myself with something else for a bit, when I come back to the issue again I feel a little calmer and can look at things more rationally.

Talk it out - It can be really, really hard to talk about anxiety and the things that make you anxious. In the past I often felt that people would think I was silly or weak, and give me the dreaded 'buck up and deal with it'/'there's nothing to worry about' response. Get around this by telling a few close friends and family members about your struggles. If they know how you think, they can talk through it with you step by step and reassure you, as well as getting to understand what you're going through. You don't have to suffer through anxiety alone.

Do the things that scare you - Sometimes jumping in head first can change you. A few months ago I got into a bit of a state over my future and wasn't happy in my job. For a year I had just let things happen. I had become stagnant and vegetative and felt helpless to change the position I was in. Eventually, after I realised how much it had damaged me, I decided the only way I could make my life better was to just get out there. I applied for one job that I really wanted, brought as much energy and confidence as I could muster to the interview and boom. I'm now back on track in a job I love and gaining confidence. It was scary and I definitely panicked about the whole thing, but biting the bullet and moving on to something else was well worth it.

Get off the internet - Google, WebMD and Patient.org are my worst enemies. I'm prone to being a huge hypochondriac. Headache? Brain tumour. Feeling sick? Tropical flu. A bloodshot eye? Definitely Ebola. I have trouble resisting the urge to look up even the most minor symptoms. For me this stems from horrible migraines that I've suffered with for over a decade that slightly resemble a stroke. It's meant I am never convinced I'm OK until something has passed, and I've developed a bad habit of Googling the crap out of things to try and reassure myself. I still take some reminding but resisting this behaviour is key to not getting myself in a panic. Anxiety is often the product of maladaptive, obsessive thinking and breaking the cycle and changing bad habits are key to managing it.

Write it down - This is one I don't do very regularly, but when things get really tough I find that spilling my worries onto the pages of a private diary make them seem a little smaller and more manageable. I don't just write a list of concerns or worries, I also match them with baby steps I can take to tackling or getting over them.

Look after yourself - It can often be easier to just get busy and let life sweep you along than to slow down and deal with things. Just remember that you only get one life, there's only one you, and you need to take care of your wellbeing. Pamper yourself once a week, eat well, eat naughtily at times, watch funny films, see friends. Just don't let your happiness become a secondary citizen to your anxiety.

If you're struggling, don't forget that there are organisations out there like Mind that are specifically dedicated to helping people through difficult times with mental illness. I hope these tips go some way to helping you cope in the long run, wherever your anxiety stems from and however bad things are. I see my anxiety as something that will probably always be there, but as something I don't have to let rule my life.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

What's in my October Birchbox?

I always look forward to a Birchbox delivery - they just seem that little bit more superior than other subscription boxes - but to be reminded that it's October already was a bit of a shock!! My favourite month of the year always goes quickly, but luckily this month's box was on hand to help me slow down and look after number one.

This month's theme is Work It! and has been created in association with breast cancer awareness organisation Coppafeel, so is pretty pink and girly! I got stuck straight into these products as they are all things I'd use, so I was grateful for that. The idea of this box is to help us focus on our inner wellbeing with a little pampering to help us shine. There's also a handy leaflet about boob checking which everyone should read!

Cattier Pink Clay Face Mask (full size £4.25) I received two of these individual masks and wasted no time using one of them as soon as I got home on Friday to find my box had arrived. The clay helps with any oiliness but is far from stripping, as the mask is packed with aloe vera to soothe and calm.

KMS California Free Shape Hot Flex Creme (full size £15.50) I've yet to use this but I'm hoping this sought after hair product will help me get a proper blow dry look at home! The heat activated creme comes in a decent size sample so hopefully this will last a while!

Shaveworks The Cool Fix (Full size £11.00) I read about this product on the blogosphere a while back but had forgotten about it. As someone prone to bumpy knees after shaving and the occasional ingrown hair (aren't we all?) I've already started using this and have seen a difference already.

Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm (£8.00) This full size sample is just gorgeous, A creamy, rose tinted lip balm that smells divine and is incredibly moisturising. Having recently been disappointed by Maybelline's coveted Baby Lips range I've popped this into my handbag as a luxury replacement.

Lollipops Nail Laquer (£7.00) This full size classic postbox red is perfect for a chic work look or casual weekend style. I've been keeping it dark for autumn of late but this might just make

Birchbox Lipstick Pen I was so confused by this lifestyle extra as I couldn't understand how I could apply this through the tiny nib (D'oh!), and then in my end of the week tiredness realised this was merely a cute pen shaped like a lipstick! Hopefully others weren't as confused as I was!

All in all I think this month's Birchbox does amazingly to embody its theme of help you be your best self and to really work it!

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, 10 October 2014

York in a Nutshell

Our anniversary trip to York could not have come at a better time as my new job has been quite demanding and sometimes stressful. We gave ourselves from Sunday morning until Tuesday evening to make sure we got the most out of the city. We didn't have to rush, and staying at the beginning of the week meant things were a lot less crowded and we didn't have to queue for the main attractions.

One thing I will say is that most museums and attractions charge a fair amount for entry. We paid anything between £4-10 each for things like castle towers, the Yorvik Centre, York Minster etc. Some things were better value than others. Luckily we got our train tickets fairly cheap due to booking in advance, and there is a lovely new Travelodge on Picadilly very close to the centre of York so we saved on that side of things!


We ate a cheap and cheerful breakfast at Wetherspoon's each morning as it was literally attached to our hotel, but opted to indulge a little more where lunch and dinner were concerned. On the first night we chose the Hollywood Bar and Grill on a whim and were not disappointed! A fairly priced menu, yummy food and funky cocktails helped us gear up for our ghost walk. The second night we ate at The Golden Fleece, the most haunted pub in York. Our meals were hearty and huge even if the place did give me the heebie jeebies a bit!

A trip to York is also not complete without a trip to Betty's Tea Rooms. It's pricey and a little snobby as it's a 'phone free zone' but we just couldn't resist! Another hotspot is the Trembling Madness off-licence, which boasts a truly hipster-worthy pub upstairs. The Shambles Kitchen also do some kick-ass pulled pork rolls that carry less guilt than a giant Yorkshire pudding.


York boasts a great mixture of highstreet, designer and boutique shops, and while they were by no means the centre of our trip we definitely enjoyed exploring.

My absolute favourite store was The Imaginarium, a crazy trinket and home store with faux stuffed animals, bizzare portraits and amazing scented goodies. We took home this Autumn scented Melt candle and dang is it good. The shop was an offshoot of it's neighbouring parent store, the Yorkshire Soap Company. Think Lush but quintessentially British. 


A little bit of tourism never hurt anybody, and having never visited another British city for fun apart from London I was keen to explore. The city is enclosed within an ancient wall first built by the Romans, and the buildings are a hodgepodge of ancient, Tudor, Victorian and modern architecture. The result looks pretty impressive and a stroll across the city walls is not only a must but totally free of charge. You can also walk up The Shambles, the oldest shopping street in Europe, which was probably JK Rowling's inspiration for Diagon Alley.

I can also thoroughly recommend a walk around York Minster - the place is huge and absolutely beautiful. We spent about two and a half hours here while the rain came down.in sheets. The Yorvik Centre was a short experience so a little disappointing, but still one to tick off the list!

Two free attractions I would highly recommend are the castle gardens, home to the very creepy remains of St Mary's Abbey, and the National Railway Museum, which is impressively huge and surprisingly interesting.

The Ghost Walk

By far the coolest thing we did on the trip was a ghost walk. There are loads run by different operators around the city but we were recommended the original and best. Our ghost hunt guide meets the public every night at the top of the Shambles for 7.30pm and the tour lasts about an hour and a half. He never leaves character and operates come rain or shine which is pretty impressive! It was more hilarious than scary thanks to his little jokes and tricks, but the stories told are all bonafide York ghost legends and as the most haunted city in the country you can't help but get sucked in!

If you're looking for a traditional city break that won't break the bank as much as Paris or Rome but packs in character and style, York should be at the top of your list!
© kelly anne rist

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