Tuesday, 29 March 2016

8 inspirational workspaces for bloggers, writers and creatives

Living at Mat's parents house at the moment means I don't currently have a desk to work from. With two of us in a small room there's just not space! That hasn't stopped me from lusting over beautiful workspaces on Pinterest. I'd actually pay to work from spaces like this. Is there an Air B&B for that? 

Here are my faves:

1. Chic and simple

You can't go wrong with light tones and metallic accessories. I love the geometric shapes that are carried through the furniture and print.

2. Organised

I'm so much more in sync with my schedule and workload when I can see it in front of me. This organised individual has it down, with a chalk calendar on the wall and a decent amount of storage space. Drawers and folders don't have to look like ugly clutter!

3. Calm

The blue accents, soft furnishings and plants give this desk area so much chill. A large print or wall hanging is ideal if you're not working near a window, so you have something to look at while you're thinking.

4. Wanderlust

This is probably my favourite workspace of the bunch purely for the colour. The map print is beautiful and the mix of wooden furniture and bright tribal print suggests this person is vibrant and has a sense of adventure!

5. Rustic

This is a slightly more masculine/neutral space so would be ideal if your desk setup is in a shared space or needs to blend into another area like a living room. The shelving has been used so creatively, forming a little cubbyhole you can use get immersed in your projects.

6. Fashionista

This is such a cool space - I love the arrow light! I can imagine this as the space of a blogger or fashion journalist. It's fairly simple in terms of the wall colour and furniture but the cushion, light and pinboard can easily be switched up as trends and seasons change.

7. Girly

This would be an ideal setup if working from your bedroom, which at least from my point of view tends to be the most feminine space in a house or flat. The flowers and prints have a personal touch about them. If like many you're still living with your parents it's nice to have a space you can put your own stamp on with art and decoration.

8. Blank canvas

Sometimes white spaces can be great for creativity. It's not totally lacking in personality but there are no busy distractions to stop you from getting sh*t done.

How do you organise your workspace?


Sunday, 27 March 2016

My top 3 things to do on the Isle of Wight

I have to admit that when Mat said he'd booked us a trip to the Isle of Wight I wasn't immediately sold. See, I'm not really the kind of person who enjoys holidaying in the UK. I like city breaks, new cultures, warm weather and sand between my toes. Surely there's nothing to do on a little old British island? I pictured old people and nature enthusiasts rambling the hills in waterproof macs.

I can now readily admit that I was wrong - I had a great time on the Isle of Wight and the rural, local feel of everything gave us the right balance of 'home from home' and discovering something new. We stayed in a traditional B&B but you can also camp or caravan if you wish and there are also spa hotels dotted around. One thing you'll definitely need is a car or at the very least a push bike (although be prepared for a real uphill struggle on some roads).

We got up to lots but here are my top 3 activities too do on the Isle of Wight:

Monkey Haven

Let me start by saying that while it took an age (thanks to loads of rush hour car accidents) to drive down to the ferry, once you're on the Isle of Wight everything is so close - nothing is more than 45 mins drive away. After a 15 minute journey we reached our first stop, Monkey Haven

Monkeys are probably my favourite animal, but seeing them in cramped zoo conditions always makes me sad. Monkey Haven however is actually a rescue centre. These primates have been kept as illegal pets, used as photo props and generally severely mistreated to the point that they cannot go back into the wild. 

Hearing the keepers tell stories about where these animals had been rescued from seemed a world away from their large, immaculately clean enclosures and the happy behaviour they were displaying. It really was a lovely place and the monkeys, meerkats and owls were all enjoying themselves!

The Garlic Farm

This place was off down one of the scariest craziest roads ever (I'm definitely not a country girl), but once you get past that then nestled in a little valley is the Garlic Farm, If you don't like the taste or smell then it's not for you, but if like me you put it in everything then step this way. Even Mary Berry has been here!

Not only does the whole place have a mouth watering garlic scent but there's tonnes to do - from farm walks to tastings. There's also a shop and (my favourite part) a restaurant. We went for lunch and I had a ploughman's that came with a gigantic bulb of roast garlic.

Mat went all in for a burger which had some serious garlic mayo and some garlic fries which was dreamy. Needless to say even the next day we both absolutely stank, but it was worth it!

Carisbrooke Castle

I've been to a few castles before on school trips and stuff but Carisbrooke is probably the most 'in tact' I've ever seen, probably thanks to the fact that parts of it were lived in even until the 1920s. Charles I was held here as prisoner before his trial and execution and you can see his (creepy) quarters. I'm such a history geek that I even knew what kind of castle it was - motte and bailey seeing as you asked!

We turned up on the first day of the season, so it wasn't too busy, and it was also a bloomin' lovely day. We actually took our coats off, ate lunch outside at the cafe, and caved in to the strategically positioned ice cream van.

As you can see from the photos I took with my beloved Olympus Pen, the buildings, grounds and views from the walls are just stunning. It was a clear day and we could see for miles and miles. Mat was actually born nearby before his parents moved, and we could see his old house!

I almost forgot to mention that the castle is home to some cute rescue donkeys, who lend a helping hand in daily demonstrations turning the wheel that operates a deep well. Back in the day they actually made prisoners and work donkeys turn the wheel for hours on end but these little guys only had to do about 60 seconds. Make sure you catch it if there.

There's plenty of other stuff to get up to on the Isle of Wight, to the point we could easily have spent another week there! We also went to the Needles, had a walk along a beautiful but wet and windy beach and did some shopping in Newport. There's definitely something for everyone.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

I swear this stuff just slipped onto the sales counter

Until this weekend I hadn't been properly shopping in aaaaages. We're saving for a house deposit and after moving out of Cambridge the shops aren't quite as on our doorstep as before. It's great for controlling my spending but the little town of Royston gets boring pretty quickly, so I headed for a solo shopping spree just like old times.

My main aim was to come back with a bag suitable for the spring, as all my bags are either black or very light in colour - I needed a middle ground and this number from River Island fit the bill. It's the perfect size for daytime use out and about as I can comfortably fit my camera, purse, brolly and makeup bag in with a little room to spare. The light brown, dusty type colour goes with so much of my work wardrobe too.

I also picked up a grey high-neck swing dress in the Topshop sale, which I can't find on their website. I haven't bought anything of theirs for years now aside from nail varnish but this is such a good fit and can we worn quite casually. Plus for once it's actually long enough to cover my butt without heading to the Tall section, The struggle is real for those of us with long bodies and short legs!

I also impulse bought some Nikes because not only does it seem like the trendy/basic thing to do at the moment but they are so, so comfy. They didn't have the exact ones that I wanted and they make my feet look gigantic but who cares when it feels like you're walking on clouds?

I can't go shopping without heading into Tiger and Boots, but who can? I grabbed a Collection nail polish from their 7 day wear range which I've yet to try, a well as a Natural Collection mascara that is probably the least irritating for my currently crazy sensitive and constantly sore/inflamed eyes. The little dish and notebook from Tiger were bought purely for the patterns, I won't lie.

Have you indulged in some retail therapy lately?


Sunday, 20 March 2016

What are your Lush favourites?

I'm a huge fan of Lush, but when I first started buying from them their huge product range was a bit daunting! Over the years I've built up a repertoire of go-to products that I keep repurchasing and almost always have in the cupboard. There's something about the natural ingredients that just work with my skin so well. I thought I'd share my absolute favourites.

Tea Tree Water - This toner water is so soothing on angry, acne-prone skin and also helps oil production. It's naturally antibacterial so I think that's where the main benefit comes from. I've used many a harsh toner before and they've all made my skin angry or (more recently) aggravated my blepharitis. This is gentle but still gets the job done. Apply either by spraying all over or onto a cotton pad. I currently have a large bottle but you can get smaller ones instore which are perfect for handbags and weekend getaways.

Grease Lightning - Continuing the tea tree theme, this spot treatment is simply the one. I've spent so much money on expensive blemish gels but they still don't really compare. It's not drying to the skin but expertly takes out redness and inflammation.

Cosmetic Warrior - I interchange between this mask and the catastrophe cosmetic one as they're both amazing on problem skin. The former is less drying than the latter and while it smells a bit weird it really does the job.

Mint Julips - I've gotten really into my lipsticks lately and while I prefer a matte look it does show up dry patches and chapped lips. This scrub tastes amazing and removes flaky skin without aggravating it. The jojoba oil leaves them so soft.

What are your Lush favourites? Any recommendations?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Ask yourself this one question to help your posts cut through the blogging noise

The world of blogging is a very saturated one at the moment. There are tens of thousands of us out there, all hoping to engage readers, many hoping to make it big. But the more of us there are, the harder it is to really stand out and cut through the noise. You can improve your writing, jazz up your photography and use a snazzy layout, but it won't necessarily make people want to click through and read your posts in the first place.

Before every post you write, always ask yourself "Am I saying anything new?". If you're a blogger, chances are whatever you're going to write about - whether it's a product review, a holiday destination, a life event, anything - somebody has already done so. But that doesn't mean you need to throw the topic out of the window.

Say for example you've recently been on holiday to Barcelona. You want to do an 'ultimate guide' style post but a quick google search reveals countless pre-existing versions from other, bigger bloggers. What spin can you add that might make your guide not only more specific, but also more useful and more likely to appeal to readers looking for this kind of information?

Instead of 'The Ultimate Guide to Barcelona' your post title could be 'The Foodie's Ultimate Guide to Barcelona', 'Barcelona on a Budget: The Ultimate Guide' or 'Solo Travel in Barcelona'. This way your post is tapping into a particular need and providing a solution.

Try it for a few weeks and hopefully you'll see more people finding something new and useful on your blog and really engaging with your posts!


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Women's Day: #PledgeForParity

So today is International Women's Day and well, I am one. That felt like grounds enough for a post, okay? I don't often touch on this kind of stuff but I am very much a feminist in my everyday life. I also feel like women are totally owning this blogging thing at the moment and kind of just the internet in general. We've found a place where (Twitter trolls and bigots aside) we can be our true selves without being interrupted or told 'you can't do that'.

I also feel like the days of 'sorry but women can't do XXXX' are very much over. From the inspiring 'This Girl Can' campaign taking hold to Emma Watson's amazing UN speech, to Google's #OneDayIWill doodle that appeared this morning, and with girls everywhere being inspired to get into more male dominated careers and sports, I feel we're making a lot of progress.

But International Women's Day exists because, admittedly, there's still a long way to go. Women are still being underrepresented and excluded from governments and boardrooms everywhere. There are still parts of the world where girls are told they cannot go to school. There are still millions of rape victims out there unable to speak out for fear of being blamed. There are still cultures that practice brutal FGM on young girls.

Each year IWD has a theme, and this year with the gender pay gap a hot topic for discussion, it's all about the #PledgeForParity. It's estimated that at the current rate this gap won't close until 2033, with total gender parity (equal pay, gender-balanced leadership etc) not on the horizon until 2095. I'll probably be dead by then, and it's just not good enough.

So this year IWD are asking men and women everywhere to make a pledge towards gender parity - whether you're a leader in the workplace who can foster an equal culture, or you're an employee who can speak out and challenge what is unfortunately the norm. Why should anyone end up worse off in life because of their gender?

I know full-well that there are men out there doing my exact job, possibly even doing a worse job of it, who were probably offered much more money than me from the get-go. That's not okay. It shouldn't be this way, but it is. So my #PledgForParity is to challenge this. To strive every day to prove my worth and encourage a more balanced approach to pay.

How will you make your pledge this International Women's Day?

© kelly anne rist

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