- I got to meet this adorable little guy earlier this week, and you can read more about him here
- Not a morning person? Fear not! This post might help, with six ways to make mornings that little bit easier...
- Stuck for inspiration? Here's a few blog post ideas for every single day in February
- Winter lighting sucks. Fact. Improve your winter photography with these five easy tips!
- Applying for university can be stressful, trust me, I've done it three times now. Open days are a big part of the experience and here are some ways to make the most of them
- I've had my blog since I was fifteen years old, so I like to think I've grown a lot as a person since then. Here's why it's important to grow with your blog
- I'm on a hunt for the best things to do and see in New York City and I absolutely loved this post with Laura's snapshots from her trip
- Maintaining relationships is an important part of life, even more so in blogging. This post has some great advice about attracting, improving and maintaining PR relationships for your blog
- I have an ever growing list of series I want to watch, a lot of which I managed whilst recovering from surgery! I loved Olivia's post on how to make time for TV
- How good do these cookies look? So easy to make as well!
- Fii has Korean Beauty down. I always enjoy her posts & videos explaining Korean beauty products, and found this in depth explanation of sheet masks particularly handy
30 Jan 2016
28 Jan 2016
Back in June I left the Apple world behind and turned to the dark side, upgrading to a Samsung Galaxy S6 as opposed to the latest iPhone. Whilst being the owner of an iPad and an iPod I'm in no way anti-Apple, but as far as phones go I know that the Samsung Galaxy S6 was the right choice for me. It suits me better, the battery lasts longer and the customisations allow me to refresh and update whenever I feel like it!
I'm one of those people who believes that your phone can be an accessory, which is apt as it's rarely left behind and so features in just about any outfit I wear. When I first switched from an iPhone I was pretty disappointed at the lack of cute cases available for my model and I missed my darling Hugh Laurie phone case quite dearly. Luckily, GoCustomized offer a range of personalised phone cases for the majority of makes and models, so true to my unending cat lady tendencies I've now got this funky transparent number keeping my precious phone safe! If, like me, you're struggling to find a case you love then you can make your own Samsung Galaxy S6 case over on their site - perfect if you want something a little bit different.
As an avid phone user I have a multitude of apps that I use on a daily basis, so I thought I'd share a few of my absolute favourites that I can't bring myself to quit.
- Instagram - This is totally obvious, but Instagram is one of my favourite social networks and you'll pretty much always find me browsing a feed full of daschunds at any given moment. I love following new people on Instagram, so leave yours in the comments and you can follow me here.
- Snapchat - Again, this could probably be considered a social network, but it's not quite as widely used as Instagram. I didn't used to be in to the whole Snapchat thing, but now I'm totally hooked on seeing little behind the scenes snippets of my favourite bloggers' lives, as well as sending horrific selfies to my best pals. If you use Snapchat you can follow me at "dougallpants", my totally embarrassing username which I now can't change...
- Yelp - As you've probably realised by now I love food, and finding new places to eat is one of my favourite things to do! Yelp is jam packed with hidden gems in the city with trustworthy reviews from real life people, so is my go to when I'm on the hunt for a foodie fix.
- Afterlight - This is the only app I have ever paid for in my life. Well, that I remember paying for at least! It was roughly 79p when I first bought it and seeing as I use it most days I think I've got my monies worth. This is one of the best photo editing apps I've used, it's so easy and works perfectly for what I want!
- Wunderlist - Obviously this list was going to contain some sort of organisational tool, as I'm forever trying to keep on top of my strangely hectic life. Wunderlist is essentially a to-do list app, which syncs across multiple platforms and devices, as well as allowing for numerous lists to be on the go at once. An essential for a list lover like myself!
- Citymapper - Citymapper doesn't get as much use as my other apps, but it's one I will never delete from my phone as it's just so useful. I first discovered it when I was visiting London last year and it made getting about a total breeze. Providing details for various transport methods, down to what entrance of the station is most convenient for your journey, as well as estimating taxi costs and the calories burned it's the perfect app for exploring new areas.
- 1010! - Okay, so this is totally not useful at all, but it is an incredibly addictive game that everyone needs to play at least once in their lives. If you've ever got a spare minute to waste while waiting on your bus then this will most definitely keep you entertained!
And now for the fun stuff. GoCustomized have very kindly provided a voucher code worth £20 for me to give away to one lucky winner! So if you fancy getting your hands on a personalised phone case for your tech then check out the widget below. Good luck!
Terms and Conditions
- This giveaway is open to UK entrants only
- One winner will be chosen at random via the Rafflecopter widget below
- Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below and the winner will receive a £20 voucher code for GoCustomized
- Entrants under 18 must seek parental permission before entering
- No purchase necessary
- Once drawn, the winner will be contacted via the email provided and have 24 hours to respond due to the timely nature of this prize
- All entries will be moderated and duplicate, false or incomplete entries will be deleted
- The giveaway will run from 28.1.16 to 4.2.16
This post contains a press sample
26 Jan 2016
|Cat hair is the bane of my life.|
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain - available here
I remember first spotting this book in the airport a few years ago not long after I'd first been introduced to the term introversion through one of the many personality tests floating about on the internet. According to this test, and just about every single test I've taken since as well as real life social experiences, I've got some very strong introvert tendencies - which doesn't surprise me in the slightest.
Annoyingly, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding introverts and they can often be passed off as shy or rude. Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking sets out to bust these myths, whilst also highlighting the true strengths of introversion that are quite often overlooked. Whilst it's increasingly difficult to speak from each and every person's stance on the Introvert/Extrovert spectrum Cain does her best to investigate the "Extrovert Ideal" and the impact this has on our daily lives, no matter what our own personality type.
I genuinely thought I'd love this book, and I did really enjoy it, but I found it quite heavy going at times. It was full of very sweeping generalisations as well as a lot of repetition, which in a way emphasises her point, but on the whole it made me feel like the book could have been a lot more succinct. I struggled to understand the supposed evidence for her points and it felt considerably more like an argument based on personal anecdotes as opposed to the all inclusive, all knowing account of introversion that it seemed to be guised as.
I can't say that it wasn't interesting, and it did help me understand my own personality a lot more, but ultimately it just didn't grip me in the way I had hoped it would. I think I'd recommend it to anyone who struggles to understand how introversion works, as it does clear a few common misconceptions and highlight the fact that it is much more of a spectrum as opposed to two defined camps.
It encouraged a lot of self reflection, which isn't always a bad thing, but at times it did make me feel like I was in the wrong for needing time to recharge after social interaction, which appears to be the opposite of what it actually intended to do. All in all, it was a mixed bag. An interesting read and it explained a lot of my habits, but nothing ground breaking and it didn't induce some sort of life changing epiphany for me.
Next month, we're going back to fiction with a hint of romance to celebrate Valentine's Day. Mhairi McFarlane is one of my favourite authors, and despite having read It's Not Me, It's You once before I'm excited to read it all over again for our February #SassyBooks! You can find out more about #SassyBooks here and if you're taking part be sure to join our Facebook group so we can all keep in touch.
Check out the other #SassyBooks reviews over on the hashtag here!
Have you ever read this book? If so, I'd love to hear what you thought in the comments!
25 Jan 2016
1. The post holiday blues have well and truly taken over, but I had an absolutely amazing time in Berlin - see what we got up to here - and I'm excited about planning future adventures.
2. It has been so cold at home recently, with a touch of snow last weekend, which totally justifies spending my days off hiding inside snuggled up in my onesie.
3. I've lost count of how many times I've mentioned my new camera, but I'm so in love with it and just seeing it makes me happy. Knowing that I've worked and saved to put money towards a big purchase like that, despite my shopaholic tendencies, is a good feeling.
4. I'm back at work now! Okay, so that's not necessarily a happy thing, but being at the point where I'm able to be working again is a really nice change to how last year ended and feeling relatively "normal" again.
5. On a similar note, whilst my fitness isn't quite back to how it was before, I'm seeing progress! It'll be hard work getting my stamina back up but I'm looking forward to my fitness journey.
6. My best friend moved to New York on Friday and I miss her so much. Luckily, every cloud has a silver lining and I'm planning on going over to visit her in June!
7. I've been trying to adopt a more positive attitude recently and find it makes a big difference. It's strange, but sometimes just looking at things in a new light makes a world of difference.
8. Brightening up my workspace with some pretty fresh flowers from Appleyard London is putting a smile on my face when I sit down at my computer each morning!
9. I'm always grateful for the fact that I live in such a beautiful area. I can be in the centre of Glasgow in a ten minute train journey, but also have the countryside right on my doorstep. It's a pretty great mix, which is something I'll always yearn for.
10. I've been sitting staring at the screen for a few minutes trying to think of a tenth thing to include, and whilst this isn't very specific at all I'm just happy that things are good right now. Not everything is perfect, but I'm grateful for the things that are and just feeling a whole lot better about life in general.
23 Jan 2016
- This is a really interesting read on the development of fashion blogging
- Bloggers can often be misinterpreted as dishonest, particularly when it comes to sponsored posts, but Amber nailed it when it comes to honesty when being paid
- I'm a firm fan of a good night's sleep, so if it's something you're lacking then maybe give these five tips for a better night's sleep a try
- I don't think I would have minded living alone at university, especially after reading Fii's post about her experience
- Want to do a bit of tidying up when it comes to your blog? Here are five little changes that make a big difference
- I fell a bit short of my reading goal last year, mostly due to the last couple of months being a total write off, but I'll be using these tips for meeting reading goals to help me get there this year
- Have a peek at some of the upcoming beauty trends for the year in Andrew's brilliant round up
- If you often feel like you don't deserve your success, then check out this all too real list about Impostor Syndrome
- Having a bad day? Rhianna has shared 28 ways to make your bad day better - definitely one to bookmark for the future!
- Blogging is a learning experience that's full of prior misconceptions, check out Joe's post all about the things he's learnt from blogging
22 Jan 2016
My boyfriend turned 21 back in December and as a little surprise for him I booked a few days away in Berlin after his exams last week. We've both visited the city before and absolutely loved it, but we had never been together so both of us were pretty excited to go back.
Getting a new camera just before jetting off to Berlin has resulted in a lot of photos, but I've tried to narrow it down a lot for this post... Tried being the operative word. It's pretty photo heavy so I've tried to break it up a little bit, but I just loved testing out my new Canon G7X whilst away! I'm thinking about posting a full review of it soon so if that's something you'd be interested in seeing then let me know and I'll move it up the to do list.
21 Jan 2016
Highlighters have been a recent love of mine and I'm hunting high and low to find the perfect glow getter for a few weeks now. Trying to find the perfect product means testing so many different formulas, tones and finishes as well as scouring the shelves for those supposed dupes of coveted high end highlights. As a beauty lover, I relish in the process, but it can be a daunting task! I was given Benefit's High Beam as a gift at Christmas, so thought I would compare it to it's low cost counterpart Technic High Lights which is available from Fragrance Direct. At a mere tenth of the price - £1.99 compared to £19.50 - I was keen to find out how High Lights would fare up when measured against High Beam.
At first glance, it's obvious that the packaging is incredibly similar with the only major difference being the inclusion of volume on the High Lights bottle. High Beam is a slightly taller bottle, but as it contains 15ml of product in comparison to High Lights' 12ml this makes sense. Both have brushes attached to the lids, which always comes in handy!
There's a clear difference in the tone of product, with High Beam leaning more towards a warmer, almost peach shade and High Lights having cooler, slightly lavender tones. High Lights also seems to have a chunkier glitter dispersed in the product whereas High Beam has considerably less obvious particles and instead has more of a sheen to the product.
In terms of formula, High Beam has to be a winner for me. It's got a much more substantial, thicker consistency which makes it a bit easier to apply in comparison to High Lights somewhat runny formulation. Both blend really well and have a similarly dewy finish, however like before the glitter particles are a lot more obvious in High Lights, even when blended.
Since trying them both out it's become clear that they each boast a pretty impressive staying power, without slipping or fading throughout the day. Despite the tone difference in the bottle they look really similar on the skin - minus the glitter - which considering the price difference is pretty incredible. Obviously there are some differences, but for me they're minor and totally overwhelmed by the price you're paying. Both are brilliant products, so it's good to know that I have an alternative when I don't feel like using the pricier of the two!
Have you found the perfect highlighter? Tell me your secret!
This post contains a press sample
19 Jan 2016
After talking about my fitness journey last week I thought I'd share a few of the things that I deem necessary for those occasions that I actually exercise. Whilst it's not essential to have the latest and greatest of everything, there are certainly a few things that it helps to have when working out.
So simple, yet it can have such a big impact. Water is an essential part of daily life - not just when exercising - but working out can cause you to lose a lot of the fluids your body contains and they'll need replenished somehow! Dehydration affects your muscles, so if you don't keep your fluid levels topped up then you'll most likely find yourself struggling with cramps. Personally, if I don't drink enough water I'll often wake up in the night with agonising leg cramps and it'll take a couple of days for the pain to fully subside. It sucks, but it does a great job at reminding me to drink more water! This is a really great article about why hydration is so important and the impact it can have on your body.
One of the things I'm probably lacking most right now is motivation. Not just for exercise, if I'm being honest! There are so many different inspiration sources when it comes to finding some motivation to get off my arse and work, but a big one for me is definitely having the right playlist. There's something about the right selection of songs with the right beat that helps me get in the "zone" when it comes to exercising and at the moment I love the playlists available on Spotify. I'm going through a bit of a throwback phase at the moment so have been listening to a lot of noughties pop and eighties pop-rock anthems to get me going.
Hygiene & Beauty
Much like water, hygiene is always pretty important and it's something that I suppose comes naturally with exercise. Aside from my usual shower gels, lotions and potions I always like to keep a strong deodorant & antiperspirant in my gym bag alongside a packet of make up wipes, bobbles and kirby grips for my unruly hair. I don't wear make up when I work out because I hate how it makes my face feel, so having a way to make sure every last trace is gone is a must have for me.
A Method That Suits You
Different people like to exercise in different ways, it's just human nature. What works for you won't necessarily work for someone else and vice versa. Try to test out lots of different ways to work out in hope of finding the method that suits you. Finding something that feels fun for you is probably the best way to go about it, as you don't want it to feel like a chore!
There are so many different classes, gyms, clubs, sports, DVDs and even YouTube videos out there at the moment that I think you'd struggle not to find something you enjoy. I don't always have the patience or attention span for long winded workouts at home, so I really enjoy Charlotte Crosby's 3 Minute Belly Blitz and other shorter routines.
I can't stress the importance of proper shoes enough. Your feet absorb the impact when you run, which in turn can cause joint pain or injury, so making sure your feet are supported correctly for whatever activity you're undertaking is a big part of looking after yourself.
You don't need to spend a fortune on the right shoes, but it's important that they fit properly and provide enough cushioning, grip and support where it's needed. All of my trainers and running shoes are from Nike, but as I live down the road from a pretty well stocked outlet I've never paid more than £20 for a pair. It's worth checking out discount shops such as Sports Direct or looking online for previous models if you don't want to splash out on the latest as soon as you start!
The Right Gear
Now, this applies on two levels. Much like having proper footwear, it's important to have the correct clothing based on your activity of choice. For example, a sports bra is so incredibly important... unless you want saggy boobs that is? Didn't think so. If you're going to be outside make sure you're prepared for everything the weather can and will throw at you. You don't want to be caught unprepared!
On a more technological level, there are so many gadgets and gizmos about these days that can help your exercise process. Apps like My Fitness Pal or the 30 Day Challenges provide a place to track your progress, much like activity tracking gadgets such as a Fitbit or a Jawbone. Whilst they're not entirely essential, they do help for some people. I find that having a step counter built in to my phone encourages me to walk about a bit more in an attempt to beat my records!
Aesthetically though, I do like pretty gym gear. It may be shallow or narcissistic but I find that having "nice" clothes makes me more likely to want to put them on. I just know that I'll bump in to anyone and everyone whilst I'm huffing about like a sweaty betty, so I may as well do it in style. Nowadays you don't need to spend a fortune to get cool gym gear as so many high street retailers offer their own ranges. At the moment I'm loving the range of sportswear available at New Look as it's both affordable, practical and aesthetically pleasing! It covers all my bases. Plus, as a bit of an Instagram fiend it helps to have fun slogans to filter just so the world knows that I am in fact doing a bit of exercise. Because if you don't share it on Instagram, did it really happen?*
What are your exercise essentials?
This post contains a press sample
18 Jan 2016
In my family I'm known as the serial over-packer. No matter what the occasion or destination, I will most likely have as big a suitcase I can bring jam packed to the brim with potential outfits, their inevitable accessories, several footwear options and of course enough make up to power a small editorial photoshoot.
I blame it on my indecisive nature, and my unending obsession with buying new clothes.
Normally my tendency to over-pack isn't too much of an issue. Sure, I'll be complaining about lugging my ridiculously heavy suitcase around and I more than likely won't wear half of the clothes I take with me, but it works for me.
Unfortunately, a city break with hand luggage only proves a bit of a challenge for chronic over-packers like me. Add in the extra factor of the forecast being well below freezing every single day we're in the city, and my hatred for being cold, there's an extra challenging element thrown in there too.
The starting point for most of my packing is always the basics - think jeans, plain tops and lots of grey. In a step away from my usual attire I've opted for mostly high neck, almost polo like styles for that little extra bit of warmth. One of the pieces I think is going to see the most wear throughout our time away is the grey high necked light knit peeking out in the photo above which cost me a mere £2.90 in Primark. I've picked up a black one too, as I just couldn't resist that price. I'm trying to pick things that I can easily mix and match to maximise potential outfits, so hopefully avoiding too many bold pieces will help in this.
I'm planning on mostly wearing jeans when we're away, and sadly my ripped knee skinnies have been left behind in favour of my beloved Frankie jeans from Dorothy Perkins. Best jegging style jeans ever, seriously. I have popped in my new Clueless-esque tartan skirt and my black faux leather skirt for evenings, when I'll be pairing them with some thick tights and a big fluffy jumper for warmth. I envy the kind of people who have cold weather dressing down to an art form, but I doubt that will ever be me. I did buy a really cute hat with a fluffy pom-pom though, so there's that.
We're going to be doing a lot of walking in Berlin, so sensible shoes were a must. I'd intended to rely on my favoured Adidas Gazelles for the trip as they work with basically every outfit I own without compromising on comfort, however they're not really warm enough. Especially when you like to wear them with those annoying little footsie socks like I do... The Gazelles are still coming, mostly for travelling and on the off chance the forecast was wrong, but I think I'll be opting for a pair of flat boots for the majority of the trip.
(brooch from Claire Barclay Draws)
Downsizing my usual make up collection to something that will fit in a small make up bag, including brushes, and make it through security unscathed was always going to be a challenge for me. I've tried to make the most of the multitaskers in my stash, such as a lip tint that doubles as a blusher, a priming moisturiser and a full coverage CC cream with lots of SPF in an attempt to maximise space.
At any given time I will more than likely have a box full of sample sized products somewhere in my house and holiday time is where they really come in to their element. I always try to take the smaller sizes of products away or depot in to containers that I'll be happy to throw away at the end of the trip. It might seem like the space they take up barely makes a difference, but if I'm chucking out an empty cleanser, toner and moisturiser that makes room for at least one souvenir!
Another thing worth mentioning is thinking about the products you'll more than likely be able to buy at the airport or at your destination. Whilst this doesn't always work for that perfectly refined skincare routine or your favoured concealer, it does come in handy for staples like toothpaste and deodorant.
Obviously things like currency, passports and your forever-tangled charger collection are relatively important when going away, but one of the most important things for me is having a way to document the trip. Maybe you like making a journal full of your ticket stubs, or maybe you have oodles of artistic talent and can sketch out the scene in seconds, but for me I like taking photos.
This trip will be the first "proper test" of the new addition to my photographic line up, the Canon G7X. I toyed with this purchase for a long time, but ultimately I know it was a damn good decision. I needed something that packed a powerful punch and was on a similar level to my SLR, but with the added aspect of a small portable size that's easy for travelling around with. Most bloggers seem to favour the Olympus Pen series, but as I already own an SLR and numerous lenses for that I didn't want to buy in to yet another lens based system. Luckily, the G7X is a pretty powerful little point and shoot that I'm really glad to have in my arsenal.
I find there's something really romantic about film photography and the choice to capture that one specific moment in time, as opposed to taking hundreds of selfies on my phone just to get the *perfect* angle. Paddy bought the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 just after Christmas and I'm really excited to use it to document our trip - and the rest of our year!
So that about sums up my attempt at packing light, which will hopefully serve as inspiration if you're a serial over-packer like myself. Do you have any tips for minimalist packing, or are you the kind of person who takes everything but the kitchen sink?
16 Jan 2016
- Looking for new places to promote your blog post? Look no further.
- This song is a bit too catchy for my liking. Warning, it'll be in your head all day.
- Bloggers working for exposure is a hotly debated topic at the moment and I thought Georgina's post on the topic was really insightful.
- I don't spend enough time in Edinburgh, so I'm going to take some time this year to properly explore and visit some of Olivia's recommendations.
- HTML can be intimidating, but here are a few easy tips that come in handy
- It's the time of year for crash diets and jam packed gyms, if that's you then be sure to read Christy's post: Dear Dieters.
- I've been thinking about the future a lot recently, which to me means thinking about getting on the property market. Nicole shared a really helpful post about the Help to Buy ISA that I think is worth reading if it's something you're thinking about too!
- Those droolworthy food shots aren't always what they seem...
- I absolutely loved Sam's post about why it's okay to be in love at a young age, having been with my boyfriend since I was 14 I could really relate.
- Why forcing yourself to stick to typical working hours doesn't always do that much good.
- Having a clear out? Here are five key areas to de-clutter.
- Finding your feet in the world of fashion is a big task, but it's important to find your own style.
- Blogging on the whole has changed my life, and here are some blog posts that changed Morag's life too.
- That damn Mercury is in retrograde again! So far I've not been feeling the effects too much, but here's a handy guide on how to survive Mercury Retrograde if you're struggling.
- I've added these three inspiring reads to my list of books to work my way through this year.
- Sometimes I care too much about what people think, but this post really made me reconsider the way this impacts me.
- Finally, Becky's blog turned four years old recently and she shared what she's learned throughout her journey.
15 Jan 2016
For the past few weeks I've been harping on about my reader survey, but the time has finally come for me to delve in to the results and share how it helped me. This year I received nearly a whopping one hundred responses, which is double the number of responses I had last year, so thank you so much if you took the time to fill it out!
About the Readers
I can't stress enough how useful a reader survey has been for me over the past two years as it helps me get a better insight in to what readers want to see, and how I can fit that in with what I want to do! Plus, I'm totally nosey so I love seeing where you're all from and how long you've been hanging out here. Surprisingly, the majority of the respondents had been reading my blog for over 12 months, which totally blew me away. Less than 15 respondents had been here for a month or less, and then there was an even split between 1-6 months and 6-12 months. This makes me very happy as I'm glad to see that some people stick around!
I wasn't surprised to see that the majority of my readers are based within the UK, but some of the other countries mentioned included Hong Kong, Canada, Sweden, Croatia, Spain and the USA. Apparently, half of my readers are aged between 20-29, just over a quarter between 18-20 and the rest are either 17 or younger or 30 or older. This isn't all that much of a surprise for me, because I figured that my blog would have the most appeal for people in a similar age bracket to myself. Only two people who filled out my survey are male, which I guess makes sense for a beauty and fashion blog.
One of the most interesting things for me was to see the other blogs that my readers visit on a regular basis. This year there was a huge variety mentioned, but a few of the names that popped up regularly included: Water Painted Dreams, The Sunday Girl, Dorkface, Becky Bedbug, Robowecop, Kate La Vie, Beauty and the Boy and The Black Pearl Blog. I'm pretty flattered to be included with some amazing blogs like theirs!
Content on Colours & Carousels
Okay, on to the more content based stuff.
So 93% of people responding to the survey said that they enjoyed the lifestyle content, which was a pretty huge number in comparison the other options (fashion, beauty and recipes) which each got roughly 35%. Something that was mentioned a lot in the "other" section was travel, which is pretty good considering it's something I want to include a lot more of in the future so I'm glad it went down well. Ginger also got a mention or two, which is fine by me.
When asked what they'd like to see in the future a lot of people mentioned more personal posts, which again is something I plan to include, with particular requests for university, opinions and rants. Suits me! A few people mentioned the Burgerthon and more reviews of places in and around Glasgow which I'm very happy to say are definitely coming. The Burgerthon had to take a bit of a break over the past few weeks because of my health, but it'll be business as usual soon. As well as the return of the Burgerthon, I'm also considering resurrecting my blogging tips series from a more personal aspect - i.e. more about my own blogging process and experiences - so if that's something you'd like to see then let me know!
Basically, the next few months are going to consist of lots of lifestyle, lots of food, hopefully lots of travel, some interiors, some personal rambly chatty posts and the usual beauty & fashion content that you know and (should hopefully) love. I'll never be able to limit myself to just one "niche", but it seems like people get that!
Before I start to wrap it up, here are few comments I wanted to respond to from the general feedback section:
"I've actually really loved your posts this year. I did write constructive criticism last year but you've taken it on board." - Thank you so much! I'm really glad you think so. I tried my best to take on everything that was said last time, so it's nice to know that it worked.
"I love when you recommend other blogs, you have never recommended one that I don't love reading! so thank you!" - This is one of my favourite things to do, so comments like this make me smile!
"I absolutely love the youtube side, however sometimes the music inserts play louder than hearing the voice, so maybe finding a volume balance between the two would help develop the videos. x" - Thanks for the feedback! I'm always worried about getting the right balance with the music on my videos, so I'll definitely work on that one.
"More on your cat please. And maybe you could do some more savoury recipes that you could test on your family at tea time." - Okay, mum!
"LOVED your thoughts on travelling alone. LOVE your photography. For me there's nothing I would change, I've really enjoyed reading your blog after discovering it via Insta :)"
"Really enjoyed the day trip vlogs, you have a natural talent for youtube videos and should stick to it despite the effort they take."
"Just more chatty posts really. Your writing is great and you seem to be lovely; this shines through and makes it really enjoyable to read x"
These three are such huge compliments to me, so thank you so much.
Honestly, the general feedback section did make me tear up a little bit. So many kind things were said and it was a little bit overwhelming. I'm prone to not giving myself enough credit sometimes, so to hear that people actually value and enjoy the work I do means so much. UGH EMOTIONS.
So this is getting a little bit long winded now and I'll just cut it off here before I ramble on for pages about how much I love you all. A massive thank you to everyone who took the time to fill in the survey and even read my blog in the first place. You are the best. x
14 Jan 2016
I feel like my life is a never ending quest to be more organised, but recently I've started to feel a bit more on top of things. The past few months haven't been too busy as I'm only working part time at the moment, so I've had a bit more time to spend working on things like my blog... or the latest series of my chosen show. In 2016, however, things will hopefully be changing and *fingers crossed* I'll be returning to university. In light of this I've been trying to properly nail my organisation for both my life and my blog, and at the moment I'm feeling pretty happy with the systems I have in place when it comes to this little space on the internet!
A lot of my organisation relies on writing things down, I just work better that way. I'll never be the kind of person who has a completely digital calendar because I just forget to check it! I am a devout fan of to do lists, so my to do list pad from That Lame Company comes in very handy on a day to day basis. I keep this on my desk and start a new list every day, carrying over anything that still needs completed from the day before. I also use a weekly desk pad from the same shop to give me a rough overview of what I have on that week and when I have some time to spare. Having everything written down so that I can quickly see what needs done or any commitments at a glance really makes things easier for me!
I used to plan the majority of my blog content using an editorial calendar I fashioned out of a spreadsheet, which was colour coded to show what posts were published, scheduled or needed writing. This worked pretty well for me as it helped me figure out what I needed to do for my content for the month ahead, so I've got a similar system going on at the moment using Google Calendar. I have a calendar for personal, work, blog posts, YouTube videos and one for blog events which means I can quickly switch between views to focus on one area at a time or I can see them all at once to figure out how it all fits in together. It works for me at the moment and allows me to access my calendar on the go using my phone or at home using my computer, but I still like writing things down...
So I bought a blog planner.
More specifically, I bought The Blogger Journal by Stephanie from Cocochic. I'd spent so much time investigating different planners both in general and those targeted at bloggers, but none had really clicked for me until I found this one. The Blogger Journal is jam packed with space to plan your blog posts, track your stats, keep a note of your income alongside motivation quotes, blog post ideas and monthly goals. It covers all the bases I need, but doesn't take up a ridiculous amount of space and could easily fit in my bag if I'm working on the go. It's already made a pretty positive impact on how I work so I'm glad I decided to pick it up.
Another "planner" I picked up on a whim is the Badass Blog Planner by Sarah Morgan. This had been sitting in my Amazon wishlist for a while, and after I received a voucher for Christmas I decided to finally try it out for myself.
This isn't really the diary style planner that I had expected, it's more a book of practical worksheets that aim to help you define goals for the year based on what you want to achieve, what has worked well in the past and what your readers react to. It's quite interesting and I've found it a useful tool in setting my aims for the future. There are some handy tips in it too, but nothing ground breaking. There are probably hundreds of the worksheets kicking about online, but having them all compiled in one book makes them more accessible for me! Alongside my reader survey this has helped me properly cement my potential ideas based on what the stats say work well, and what my readers have commented on.
I'm planning on going in to a bit more detail about what exactly I have planned tomorrow when I'm discussing the results of my reader survey, so if you want to hear more about it then make sure to come back tomorrow ;)
Do you have any specific systems for organising your blog?
I'd love to hear about what works for you!
12 Jan 2016
The start of the new year coincided quite nicely with finally being cleared to exercise after my surgery, so whilst I suppose this is a "resolution" of sorts it's also something that was always going to be on the cards as soon as I received the a-okay, health wise. I've never been a fitness junkie, but since I started running a couple of years ago and then training with AG Fitness Training last year I've started to really enjoy exercise. Being stuck in the house for nearly two months has taken it's toll, especially with the addition of the inevitable Christmas treats, so I'm actually really excited to get working again.
As well as exercising more, I've decided to try and improve my general well being with a slightly better diet and a sunnier outlook. I love cooking, so its something that I want to do a lot more of this year. I know I can't commit to healthy eating, but I feel like healthier eating is certainly possible. I'm going to make sure I take time to look after myself, physically and mentally, be that taking a half hour out of my day to go for a walk somewhere quiet, or spending an evening tucked up in bed reading a book. Obviously I want to tone up & maybe lose the extra weight that Christmas gifted me with, but I know that won't come without a lot of work and some long term changes.
So, my rough aim is to get back in shape, and I have a few ideas of how I'd like to do that. Sharing my goals is something that makes me feel quite vulnerable, because I'm always second guessing myself and wondering if I'm being silly or over ambitious, but having them out there in the open also helps to motivate me because people will know about them... Here goes!
- I'm going to lace up my trainers, head outside and start running again. It's been so long since I last ran that I know it'll be difficult to start with, but running helps me clear my head and I love how it makes me feel. I'd really like to work towards running a 5k at some point this year, which isn't a lot for most people, but I think it's a good starting block for me.
- I'm going to finally open that fitness DVD I bought last year. I'm going to dust off Just Dance, find my Wii Fit board and drag my kettlebell out of the cupboard. I can't afford a gym membership right now, but I'm not going to let that stop me.
- I'm going to try new ways to work out. I enjoyed Zumba, so I'll maybe try Glow Fit. I like the idea of yoga and pilates, so PiYo is on my list of things to try. Aqua aerobics has always appealed to me, and I've just discovered that my local leisure centre has an Aqua Zumba class! I want to keep things fun and mix it up so I don't get bored.
- I'm going to swap takeaways for an evening in the kitchen. Takeaways are easy, but cooking can be too! I want to build up a collection of easy to cook recipes that do me more good than that pizza will. I'm not going to deny myself my favourites, but figuring out alternatives and the best quantities is sure to make a difference.
Are you on a fitness journey just now? I'd love to hear what your plans are, and your ultimate goal!
11 Jan 2016
Top - Primark; Skirt - Tu Clothing at Sainsburys;
Back when I was in school I was always jealous of the people who rocked up in their Hunter wellies whenever the snow started to fall. Living in Scotland, wellies are a pretty essential part of my wardrobe, especially in winter. Somehow this year we've managed to escape the snow - much to my dismay - but it has been incredibly wet and windy so my usual shoes aren't quite cutting it. It makes such a difference to have a good pair of wellies that actually support my feet and don't cut the circulation off by cutting in to my strangely large calves! Cloggs have loads of their Hunter boots in the sale now, so I'm toying with the idea of adding these burgundy beauties to my shoe collection. Now that I can actually get out the house again I'm planning on wrapping up warm and heading off down the towpath for a cosy country walk... with lots of cups of tea to warm myself up with afterwards.
Last week I finally got the all clear from my doctor and am finally fit to return to normality after a pretty hellish two months following my operation. The recovery was far from smooth, with a double whammy of infections leaving me pretty much housebound for all of December, so I'm really glad to see the end of that! I'm still struggling to get back to a normal pace of life, but I'm back at work now which is actually kind of nice... Ask me about that again in a week and I'm sure it will be a whole different story!
At the moment I'm mostly yearning for the weekend, which is unusual as a retail employee, but on Sunday I'm flying off to Berlin for a few days! I booked it back in October as a surprise for Paddy's 21st which was in December, so I feel like I've been waiting forever. Berlin is one of my favourite cities and I'm so excited to be going back. It's looking pretty chilly over there at the moment so I need to stock up on lots and lots of layers so I don't freeze when we're exploring the city. I bought a new camera last week (!!!) so this will be it's first proper test run, and I'm sure I'll have lots of photos to share when I get back.
If you've visited Berlin recently I'd love some recommendations for things to visit/do/eat whilst we're in the city! When I last visited it was a few years ago, so I have a rough idea of a few things we'll do but some other pointers will always come in handy.
4 Jan 2016
To round off my round ups it's time to pay tribute to those bits and pieces that don't quite fit in any one category. Sure, I could have gone on for weeks with individual posts dedicated to my favourite candle scents, my preferred methods of being able to see, how I choose to carry all of my crap around with me... I think you get the point, but instead I decided to squish it all in to one post and deem them to be my "lifestyle" favourites. I feel like my real lifestyle favourites should include air, having a roof over my head and a fridge (half) full of food, but hey - that's blog life!
My beautiful Ted Baker bag hasn't really left my side since I got it for my birthday and surprisingly it is still pretty clean! It's the perfect size for me as it can accommodate my tendency to carry everything but the kitchen sink with ease. It's sturdy and just downright beautiful, with a pretty little printed clutch as a bonus.
If you watched my 2015 TV Favourites video, which you really should have, you might have noticed me mention the nifty Now TV box. As a Virgin Media customer I used to miss out on a lot of programmes that Sky had claimed for themselves, but this box has given me access to hundreds of incredible shows and movies such as Fortitude, Wayward Pines, The Blacklist & every episode of Modern Family ever. It keeps me busy, that's for sure!
It just wouldn't be a favourites post if I didn't include some sort of candle, so my choice for the year just has to be Flamingo Candles. Having had a fair few candles & wax tarts from them throughout the course of the year it's safe to say that they are some of the best value for money in terms of delicious, room-filling scents. Particular favourites included Rose & Marshmallow and the Vanilla & Spice scent melt. I think 2016 will be the year that I finally join their subscription service The Melt Crowd as it seems like brilliant value!
I think it's a bit weird to be including a pair of glasses in my favourites, but my Telford frames from IOLLA have been one of my must have accessories throughout the year. I shared a bit more about my experience with IOLLA in this post, and in my opinion they've totally revolutionised the glasses shopping experience. I don't see myself trading these frames in any time soon but I know that if I do I'll be going back to IOLLA!
That Lame Company first came in to my life in the form of The Big Box of Lame, and since then it's been a whirlwind love affair. I also treated myself to my phone case and The Winter Box of Lame (photo here) which was once again jam packed with wonderful pieces! It's clear to see how much effort goes in to these boxes and the rest of their products, so I'm determined to keep supporting That Lame Company throughout the year. They've been pretty key to organising my life thanks to my weekly calendar deskpad and my to do list desk pad so I'm excited to treat myself to a few more bits when my bank balance has recovered from December!
I make no attempt to hide my love for Claire Barclay Draws, and everyone knows it! Not only did she design my blog header, but I also have a considerable collection of her work and have added a couple more pieces since Christmas... oops! Much like That Lame Company I just adore Claire's aesthetic and am obsessed with her work. She's insanely talented and I can't wait to have a flat of my own to fill with even more of her prints!
What else did you love in 2015?
3 Jan 2016
I don't think I'll ever be a "signature fragrance" type of girl. I like to mix and match, so I change my perfume with my mood. Because of this, I have quite a little collection of perfumes on the go, and whilst most of them are by Katy Perry I do branch out every so often to find something else I love. Although saying that, I did just buy her latest perfume without even testing it purely because it was down to a tiny £10 in the sale... luckily it smells pretty good.
Insolence by Guerlain has been a long term favourite ever since I "borrowed" one of my mum's samples. I posted a little review here back when it finally made it's way back in to my life, but to summarize this is possibly the strongest perfume I've ever owned and boasts serious staying power. It smells nearly exactly like Parma Violets, but slightly more grown up, and is definitely my fragrance of choice for a special occasion.
One of my more recent treats has been Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent which is the perfume I turn to when I want to add a splash of luxury to my daily routine. Whilst I don't find it anywhere near as strong as Insolence, this sweet perfume is deepened by the addition of a subtle note of coffee. This scent is gorgeous on so many levels and one I find myself reaching for more and more.
There are a few fragrances out there that claim to be unisex, but I've always found them to be a touch too masculine for me. Calvin Klein ck2 is available exclusively at World Duty Free until February, and if you're looking for a scent that can only really be described as fresh then you'll need to check it out. With a somewhat "minimalist" scent, it's incredibly light but not to the point that it's unnoticeable, making it perfect for daily wear.
If you remember my Tuesday Ten posts then you might remember The Library of Fragrance and their array of delicious sounding scents (original post here). Earlier in the year I made my first purchase from the range in the form of the Moonbeam scent, a somewhat "creamy" floral that is beautiful for every day, but the real winner for me has been the combination of Sunshine and Cherry Blossom. Pairing the two together perfectly conveys those warm summer days spent basking in the garden with a book in hand, exactly the sort of thing I want to remember when the weather outside is a little bleak to say the least! I didn't think it was possible to capture a season so perfectly in a fragrance, but this combination does it effortlessly.
Did you have a signature scent for 2015, or did you mix and match like me?
This post contains a press sample
2 Jan 2016
I think 2015 will be fondly remembered as the year I figured out what kind of products worked for my skin, with it being considerably more manageable than previous years and in much better condition on the whole. As well as a few key products, upping my water intake has made a huge difference and it's a habit I'll be doing my best to keep up for the foreseeable future.
The Magnitone London Full Monty brush only came in to my life recently (full review here) but in such a short period of time it's made an undeniable difference to my skin. It was an absolute no-brainer to include it in my favourites of the year! It's totally revolutionised my skincare routine and boosted the impact of all of my other skincare gems, so I'm excited to see what continued long term use will bring for me.
So many cleansers come in and out of my life, but two in particular have stuck around for considerably longer than the others. The Camomile Cleansing Oil from The Body Shop has been a firm favourite in my routine for well over a year now (full review here) and I still haven't found a cleanser that melts off my make up quite so well - although the balm from the same range comes close.
I'm always harping on about my love for exfoliators and the real highlight this year has been the Bee Good Honey & Camelina cleanser. I struggled to find an exfoliating product that did the job well but was also nourishing for the skin, until this came along. It totally ticked all the boxes for me and I'm on my third tube now!
Before November, I felt like the only blogger who hadn't jumped on the Kiehl's bandwagon. This changed - obviously - when I received my first Kiehl's product in the form of a Klout perk. Now, the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream has become a staple part of my evening routine and I can see this huge pot lasting for months. Whilst I find it a bit too rich to be my daily moisturiser, a generous coating of this in the evening leaves me with baby soft skin the next morning. It's not sticky, doesn't leave any annoying residue and helps give me that healthy glow I'm always after.
The one product that solves every spot dilemma for me is Lush's Grease Lightning. This little gel is nothing short of a miracle worker when it comes to fighting those annoying little blemishes - no matter what stage they're at. Nothing else works quite as well for me, so it might not be a surprise to say that I have one of these in the bathroom, by my bed, in my makeup bag and one in my suitcase too... It's that good.
What skincare saviours have you loved this year?
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