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Sunday, 29 January 2017

January 2017 in Books: Frazzled to Girlboss

January 2017 in Books, Reading, Bookworm, Book Blogge, Harry Potter, Girlboss, Mindfulness, Good Vibes Urban Outfitters Pillow, Tumblr Room Decor, Salt Lamp, Nasty Galaxy, Bedroom Decor

Reading is my happy place, best with a blanket and tea. I'm grateful that January 2017 has given me plenty of time to read. Though, honestly, I'm not sure how with two major work deadlines and a minor ME meltdown when my body realised it wasn't on a permanent vacation. How've you been?

This month I've been on quite the Potter-a-thon demolishing the remainder of The Chamber of Secrets,  The Prisoner of Azkaban and, with just a few hours to go, The Goblet of Fire. This is mainly due to three things:  Stephen Fry, Audible and the ability to listen to my audiobooks just about anywhere.

They joy this has given me has been exquisite. I wholeheartedly encourage you to re-read your childhood favourites. Especially if it's a book that resonates with you as much as Harry Potter does with me. I remember my Mum reading it to me and my brother when we were tiny, the water-logged copy I held onto after drowning it in my book bag when I was seven, the aches and pains I used to get from rushing to get from cover to cover in under 12 hours - this was pre-internet era for me and was out of pure joy rather than for fear of spoilers. I have fallen in love with the characters all over again with the kind of wisdom only age can bring.

I also re-read Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso and remembered all the reasons I feel so kickass after reading it. In the paperback version, there's a particular paragraph about feminism that I really relate to. Like me, Sophia never thought being a girl was something she had to overcome and she believes the best way to honour the past and future of women's rights is by getting shit done. There's also a beautiful quote by Leonardo da Vinci on page 152 that reads:

...People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Though, I did skip a few pages and dip in and out of the sections that make the most sense to me and light a fire under my ass. I loved hearing Sophia's voice in my head again so much that I immediately purchased Nasty Galaxy from my phone as I worried over the forty or so pages I had left. Though, was left with the sense that, although Nasty Galaxy is perfect for your Instagram feed, it's not a page-turner that can absorb you for hours. It's a coffee table book that you'd flip in and out of. So, I headed out to my local supermarket in what I thought passed as acceptable attire - my PJs paired with my oversized khaki jacket - to purchase something I could sink my teeth into.

That book turned out to be A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax - as seen on bloggers social feeds everywhere. I'm finding it really illuminating as I, like Ruby, struggle with my inner hatred of anything remotely related to self-help. As they mostly make me want to fall asleep or throw things. The most mindfulness I've managed to achieve is a light, spring clean of mental clutter using apps such as Breathe. Which, though handy, don't help me relax after anything more than a bad morning. Consequently I'm both excited and sceptical to get onto the 6 week mindfulness course.

The last two books I've picked up this month are on SEO and mapping out and building websites. Since graduating from my degree, the shininess has worn off all this free time I now have and I miss learning new things. Though I can only stick at them for 20-30minutes a day - the time it takes me to usually run out of sticky highlighting strips. I've truly missed the feeling of learning something that does not involve a hashtag, newfound GIF site or latest social media trend.

What books have shaped your 2017 so far?

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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Social Media Detox: Why I Click Unfollow


Social Media Detox Why I Click Unfollow Twitter White Flaylay Phone Nasty Girl Nasty Galaxy Sophie Amoruso Palm Leaf 50mm Lens Blogger Blogging

Let's talk about the social media detox. Unfollowing those I no longer engage with is one of the best things I've done for my social media feeds since content scheduling. Because it allows me to stay connected with the bloggers and blogs that I love without having to scroll endlessly through updates that no longer peak my interest, after being on Twitter for six years. It's perfectly normal, like your makeup and fashion choices, things change. I don't want to be seen still wearing blue eyeshadow because it's the polite thing to do.

The downside is, there's no easy way to do it. You have to spend the time and go through each and every profile you follow and evaluate them. Release your inner X Factor judge and let lose. Am I finding this content engaging? Do I recognise the username, profile picture, blog URL or any of their latest updates? Am I inspired by their style? If the answer is no to all of these questions, should you really stay following them?

From halving those I follow on Instagram and Twitter over the past month, here's why I'm most likely to hit the unfollow button. Though, I don't pretend to speak for the masses, so get your keyboard ready and leave me a comment of why you hit that little blue button.



I'm Following you on Multiple Platforms

You don't need to follow everyone on every platform. Not following a blogger, friend - or, if you're lucky, both - on every social media platform doesn't make you a terrible human being. Whilst I either love you as a person or love the content you create, I don't need to see the same piece of content going live on five different networks because I met you at that press event three years ago. My number one piece of advice to you is:

Pick the platforms that interest you from the bloggers you love. Stay engaged and unfollow the rest.

Your profile isn't Visually Appealing

Like most bloggers, I'm a sucker for visual appeal and tend to lean towards those accounts that kick ass when it comes to their aesthetic. Though I do appreciate a piece of good content and will stick around if all you post are 140 character limericks about your favourite breakfast food, pretty photos are always a plus.


Content. Content. Content.

Whilst I wholeheartedly encourage self-promo in the bloggersphere, make sure to show your personality in between! If every update I see from you is a call to action, I'll head over to your profile to remind myself why I followed you in the first place, even if your flat lay skills are on point.


All I see are Giveaways

Giveaways are great. Who doesn't like free stuff or a few new followers? But if it's all you ever retweet, I'll be heading to the unfollow button before you can finish the T&Cs.


Babies, Babies, Babies!

Okay, bit of a personal one. I have a rather sizeable fear of pregnancy. So, whilst I wish you and your new bundle of joy the best, the second I start seeing the baby scans or pregnancy pain related tweets, I am outta there. It's not you, it's me. I still love you and the content you produce over on your blog, I just don't want your normally warm and fuzzy updates making me freak out on my lunch break. Hit me up when that baby starts to toddle. Though niche, the same principle applies to any blogs posting trigger-worthy content.

What makes you hit the unfollow button? Let me know in the comments below! To read more posts in my #BloggingHacks series, click here.
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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Advice I would give my Fifteen year old Self

Dear fifteen-year-old me, Get your nose out of that book and your head out of dramaville. I've got some advice to give.
Advice I would give my 151 year old self
Dear fifteen-year-old self,

Get your nose out of that book. I've got some advice to give.


On Fashion

Remember the time you wore those velvet patterned legging to school and everyone made fun of you? They come back into style and everyone who made fun of you wears them. You find this very funny. Keep your individuality when it comes to fashion. It serves you well. You'll follow some trends and stay far away from others, but it's always on your own terms.


On Being Yourself

Though you may be full of angst and self-doubt, right now, you are always unapologetically yourself. You never bend to peer pressure and, though sometimes dramatic, tell everything like it is. It's a trait that people will like and dislike in equal measure.


On Friends

You'll never have many friends. The ones you do have end up long-time veterans who know you better than yourself. You treasure the time you have together when you're all grown up and at different ends of the country.

Stop trying to please everyone. Listen to your gut.



On School

Spoiler: You study like a boss and kick ass with your GCSEs but struggle at A-level because you put too much pressure on yourself. This is not okay. Some things you'll just never be good at, even though you find them interesting. Pocket your drive to succeed in them and use it to pursue the things that you're actually good at. One day, it really pays off.


On Dating

You'll never date. Shocker. There's this one time you're tricked into a non-date that you liked so much you end up non-dating for the next serval years. You choose Universities in opposite directions and, although it's sometimes hard, relish the freedom of it all.


On University

Don't be pushed into attending the school-recommended University. Go with your gut. Continue to laugh at the thought of following your boyfriend's path in life.

University will help you grow as a person. You'll find most of your subjects interesting but the wealth of knowledge you gain outside of the classroom is just as important. Use your free time to sleep, study, learn and have fun.


On ME

You should *really* enjoy your next 5 ME-free years. Get up early, stay up late and being active af. We can worry about the rest later.


On Growing Up

Your twenties turn out to be the most you ages yet. Whilst everyone's worried about stopping partying and getting old, you're busy settling in.

See you in eight years.


Like much of my life on social media, today's blog post has been inspired by a hashtag. #WhatIWouldTellA15YearOldMe has kept me entertained for hours on this lazy Saturday.


Let me know what advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self in the comments below!

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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Makeup Brush Cleansing: Four Ways

Makeup Brush Cleansing, Brush Cleaning, Real Techniques, Cosmetics, Beauty

From your hand to the Real Techniques Cleansing Palette, I talk the pros and cons of makeup brush cleansing so you can get the best clean for your buck. Over the years there's been four gadgets I've used to clean my brushes read: when I started to clean my brushes that is. I must have owned my first proper set for *cringe* years before I found out how to properly clean them. Yikes.

Method #1: The Trusty Hand


A perfectly acceptable way to clean your brushes is to use your hands with a few drops of brush cleaner or ordinary soap. I personally use a large bottle of Dr Bronner's Peppermint Castile Liquid Soap that will most likely outlast the brushes in my collection. However, I've read a few posts that say cheap, ordinary bars of soap will work just as well if you're just starting out. You then wet the brush, add a few drops of soap to the palm of your hand, swirl, rinse and repeat. -  being careful to avoid getting water at the join of the bristles and handle, as this may loosen the glue and cause shedding

I use this same technique across the rest of the post.

Pros: It's free.
Cons: Time consuming. Depending on the size of your collection - or the dirtiness of your burshes! - it can make your hands quite raw and chapped.


Method #2: Makeup Brush Cleaning Glove


After a few incredibly dry hands, I decided to up my game and try a brush cleansing glove. You can pick up a really cheap one on eBay for 99p, but I know other brands like Makeup Revolution have them too. In my case, the cheap eBay makeup brush cleansing glove, fitted onto my middle three fingers and allows me to clean anything smaller than a blush brush with ease. But became a bit fiddly when using my bigger brushes like my Real Techniques Powder Brush. Overall it gave a much better clean than my hand, thanks to the ridges moulded into the glove.

Pros: Cheap and effective.
Cons: Time consuming.


Method #3: Makeup Brush Cleansing Spray


Brush cleansing spray is still a staple in my collection. I mainly use it for swapping between colours without having to change my brush, making it the perfect travel companion. Just spritz a spray or two - depending on the brush size - directly onto the brush and wipe across a paper towel until the deposit becomes clear.  Unfortunately, it won't do to cleanse your entire collection. Can you imagine how much paper towel you'd need?! My favourite budget brush cleaning sprays are by Makeup Revolution, and P.S Love... at Primark.

Pros: Allows you to swap between colours without using multiple brushes. Great for travel.
Cons: Time consuming. Messy. Not very environmentally friendly.


Method #4: Makeup Brush Cleaning Mats


Brush cleansing mats have changed my life. I'd personally recommend the Real Techniques Cleansing Palette as it's easy to use and incredibly robust. However, as per, there's also an eBay makeup brush cleansing mat for ~£1.30 that you can suction into the bottom of your sink that would work well for eye brushes. Though I'm not sure it'd be up to the task of your stippling foundation brush. These work like using your hand, however the added texture to the base of the mat allows for a deeper clean that's not only time saving but helps keep your brush bacteria free.

On my first brush cleaning session with the Real Techniques Cleansing Palette - to the Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets audiobook - I cleaned two thirds of my collection in half of the time it used to take me to do a quarter. It's that good.

Pros: Really quick. Give a great clean.
Cons: Not enough time to listen to Harry Potter.

What technique do you use to clean your makeup brushes?

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Monday, 9 January 2017

iPhone Apps to Kickstart your 2017

Apps to Kickstart your 2017, Apps to Download, iPhone Apps, App for iPhone, iOS Apps, Fitness Apps, Health Apps, Working Out App

From working out to apps that encourage new habits and healthy eating. Here's how you can stick to your New Year's Resolutions and kickstart your 2017.

Get Organised

Aside from the good, old Reminders app that I would struggle to last a week without, my iPhone is full to the brim of organisational and automated apps that allow me to streamline my life, both on and offline. You can read about some of my favourite picks from 2016 here.

Streaks is a habit-forming app that works on the principle of encouraging you to repeat a specific behaviour so you don't break your streak. You're essentially competing with yourself. Which, sounds mad but the reviews absolutely rave about it helping people quit certain sugary foods, or even smoking altogether. Though I've has less success - I sometimes forget to log the damn thing - it's definitely encouraged me to get going by increasing my step count or do the laundry before I run out of clean socks.

Last year I slimmed down my bulging wallet and now opt for a handful of cards in a small holder. However, this does often mean that I forget one of my hundred store loyalty cards. And, obviously, I need those precious points. Enter Stocard that allows you to scan to store loyalty cards for hundreds of stores from booths to your local corner shop and add them into Apple Wallet with ease. You, and your next shopping spree, are welcome.


Get Healthy

Move Sum is my latest app obsession. Using my Health app data it displays how many active calories I have burnt in the form of some of my favourite foods - pizza slices, medium fries and doughnuts. As I'm writing this, it's 7pm on my rather lazy Sunday and I've burnt off just half of my usual Starbucks. However, on a good day I can see my sugary mid-morning snack disappear by the time I clock out.

I drink like a fish. Water, coffee and tea - in that order - according to the My Water app. I regularly max out my recommended 1.4l which clears the skin, helps me avoid the dreaded afternoon dip and maximises my brain function. What more could you need after the Christmas binge? Logging my latest cup is oddly addicting as I watch my intake rise on the Health app too.

Back in 2015, I purchased an Up Band and have regularly checked in and out of the Up Smart Coach app to log my calorie and macro intake ever since. It's not something I do on a daily basis, though I commend those who do, but it's nice every once in a while to check that I'm meeting my macro targets. What's even better is that I recently found out I can use it with my Apple Watch too.


Get Moving

I have very little time when it comes to going to the gym. On the rare occasions that I do go the stars must align in order to summon me from my sofa. I have to feel motivated, be one hundred percent sure that my spoonie-self can drive back safely and have the following few days free in case I really do exhaust myself #mecfs. So, instead of spending double figured a month at a fancy gym that I know I'll go to about twice, this year I've downloaded two apps onto my phone and Apple Watch to encourage me to take just ten minutes out of my day to get fit: Carrot Fit and Streaks Workout which offer 7 minute and 6-30 minute workouts, respectively.

If you're a longtime reader of the blog, you'll have already heard me rave about Carrot Alarm and Carrot Fit is much the same principle: a terrifying robot that lives in your phone and orders you to workout, or else. Streaks Workout has a similar no-fuss attitude to workouts and positively reinforces your new workout regime by encouraging you not to break your latest streak. You can personalise your workout from a range of exercises and 6-30 minute time slots which is perfect if you're busy or unable to sustain a full workout.


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Friday, 6 January 2017

Real Techniques Bold Metals: Real vs. Fake

Real Techniques Bold Metals Makeup Brushes Beauty Cosmetics Blogger Review

Real Techniques Bold Metals - Real vs. Fake, Bold Metals Collection by Real Techniques Tapered Blush Brush


Real Techniques Bold Metals - Real vs. Fake, Bold Metals Collection by Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour

When the Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection was launched early last year, they were the talk of the beauty community. Naturally, they sold out everywhere almost instantly. So, I did what any desperate blogger would do who wanted a pretty, new photo prop, and sourced some very convincing looking fakes from eBay - spoiler: this never, ever works - and waited to see what happened post-hype.


It wasn't until the price over on the Boots - offer now finished - and Amazon websites - £10-£14 per brush - had dropped significantly that I considered purchasing the real thing. But, was it really worth the price difference?


Fake vs. Real

In comparison to the real deal, the fakes were made of coarser bristles that were less densely packed together and prone shedding. As you can see in the photos, the fakes are also bushier and less precisely cut as a result . Though, the main difference isn't something that you can see, it's something that you feel. The brush handle was so much lighter with the fake brushes and the paint started to wear off after a few uses - yes, okay I tried them for the sake of the blog!



The Verdict

After adding the Tapered Blush Brush and Flat Contour Brush to my Christmas list - thank you Santa! - I was so impressed by the feel of the real thing that I went out and purchased the Angled Liner Brush and Oval Shadow Brush, pictured above, both single eye brushes. Which leaves me with a pretty complete everyday makeup brush kit for my contour, blush, highlight, brows and shadow; alongside my Primark P.S Beauty Stippling Brush, which is still my favourite concealer brush to date showing that price point isn't everything.

Have you tried anything from the Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection yet? Or did you too purchase the controversial fakes?



Thursday, 5 January 2017

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty Compact Duo

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty Compact Duo Pressed Powder & Lipstick in Katrina, Gold, Makeup, Cosmetics, Beauty Blogger
Joan Collins Timeless Beauty Compact Duo Pressed Powder & Lipstick in Katrina, Gold, Makeup, Cosmetics, Beauty Blogger
Joan Collins Timeless Beauty Compact Duo Pressed Powder & Lipstick in Katrina, Gold, Makeup, Cosmetics, Beauty Blogger
Joan Collins Timeless Beauty Compact Duo Pressed Powder & Lipstick in Katrina, Gold, Makeup, Cosmetics, Beauty Blogger

Housed in a glamorous metallic gold compact, complete with mirror and sponge, this Pressed Powder & Lipstick Duo* by Joan Collins Timeless Beauty - stocked at M&S - is just calling to be instagrammed. It's hands-down the most beautiful compact I have ever owned; with its twenties-inspired design and luxurious feel it will be the envy of the ladies room.

Traditional powder compacts have fallen out of fashion, with most now featuring clunky, plastic packaging that you can already see shattering all over your nice, new clutch. So, when I received the press release for this beauty, I was intrigued on behalf of my oily T-zone. I wasn't disappointed. The Meticulous Pressed Powder is perfect for on-the-go touch ups for a variety of fair skin tones and doesn't create much fallout when use with a brush. Though, I would advise using a light hand if you suffer from acne or dry skin as it can sometimes emphasise imperfections.

Though, as usual, my favourite has to be the lipstick. The Tilbury-esque Divine Lips in Katrina is a hydrating and creamy lipstick in a nude pink/brown that is perfect for everyday wear. Like the pressed powder, it would suit a wide range of fair skin tones as it can be lightly applied for a rosy sheen or layered for a more pigmented look.

Overall, I love this Pressed Powder & Lipstick Duo* by Joan Collins Timeless Beauty and was pleasantly surprised when I saw the price tag! Though it's not something I would buy for myself - I prefer to pick up both products separately - it would make a beautiful gift. Perhaps for someone that is always on the go?

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