Life Lessons and Back from Hiatus

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Well it’s certainly been a while hasn’t it. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind lately what with working full time and running around the country for various things and it’s certainly been an eye-opening experience, so I thought I’d share a little about what I’ve learnt from these recent weeks.
Firstly I had the interview for the job of my dreams which I came tantalisingly close to, which was the epitome of a double edged sword. Although it would’ve taken a lot of sacrifice it would’ve been the biggest stepping stone to getting the career I want, but the silver lining was that despite my disbelief I now know that at least I’m capable of getting myself on that track.
The next week was a blur of Birthdays (guess who’s finally 22) and interviews, by the end of which I’d managed to land myself a social media internship. Perhaps it was a result of my eagerness to prove that I was still moving forward, that I eagerly accepted the role without properly considering the overall requirements. The following weekend I headed to Manchester to see one of my best friends which was a chaotic yet lovely trip, which combined good food and friends (not to mention a few blog photos)!
But when I came back and started the internship, although the nature of it meant that luckily I could work from home as I had explained that I had a full-time job, I found that a lot more was expected of me than initially indicated. I worked at it for a week but it meant that I was at my job all day then working for the internships all night before heading to bed to do it all over again. I was putting so much work in at both jobs that I was burning out and without any feedback or encouragement I was really struggling. Considering the amount of work I was putting in for the internship for no pay or even contact, I felt that I was being put in a position where I was being taken advantage of, and gaining no experience or chance to learn in return. After a lot of thought I decided that it wasn’t worth it and that I had to quit, as I was burning out and as a result things that I loved like this blog were being abandoned.
It’s weird that you can learn so much in so little time but that’s why I wanted to write this post as I guess as this is my place on the internet where I feel I can write about these types of things. Plus I don’t know whether it’s a result of being 22 and a full blown adult now but I’m proud of the fact that although it was hard, I was able to make the decision to quit and have faith in myself that it was worth the risk. Only time will tell whether it was the right choice but it’s something that I would definitely preach as a life lesson to anyone my age or anyone who is struggling to make their way that as cheesy as it is, there’s nothing more important than knowing your own worth. It takes a lot of courage to not being afraid to make the hard and scary decisions and fingers crossed that this time it pays off for me in the end. But at least in the mean time I’m looking forward to getting back to the things I love namely this blog. Thank you for reading this little ramble, I know it’s a little more personal than the things I usually write on here but I hope that it’ll be something to relate to or some help if any of you are ever in a similar situation. Now to get back to the job search…

Lush Treats From Oxford Street

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The other week I was lucky enough to not only see my best friend from university, but to spend the weekend with her in London. We are both compulsive beauty addicts so of course one of our first ports of call was the flagship Lush store, and boy it didn’t disappoint! With three stores of pure Lush goodness and that heavenly smell that no matter where you are tells you there’s a Lush nearby, it was pretty much every beauty fan’s dream. Not to mention that there are new and special versions of Lush products that are available only in that store! Although I could’ve happily spent hours (and hundreds of pounds) there, I managed to limit myself to just the four of the newest and prettiest products that they had to offer so I thought I’d tell you guys what I thought in case you need some inspiration next time you’re over.
DSC05277On the shopping list: Melting Marshmallow Moment Bath Oil,

                                 Shark Infested Custard Bath Oil,

                                 Intergalactic Bath Bomb (yes that one),

                                 Milky Bath Bubble Bar.

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First up the Milky Bath Bubble Bar which is literally the bath version of a milk bottle sweet. It’s actually got milk in it, which mixed with a little orange oil and cocoa butter makes it perfect for a calming, relaxing and moisturising bath. Not to mention it makes loads of bubbles and the silky moisturising layer it gives to the bath makes it the perfect cure for dry Winter skin.22

When talking to the lovely lady in the store she noticed I’d already picked up the Milky Bar and suggested pairing it with this Shark Infested Custard Bath Oil (which fyi is one of the twenty of these oils exclusive to Oxford Street). The smell of the two of them combined is like some magical dessert of my childhood  with the milk bottle and custard smells combining to create a deliciously creamy, sweet scent. Not to mention the bath oils melt beautifully into the bath while the custard smell is so completely and brilliantly English, and the vanilla strip representing a shark fin is perfectly whimsical.

DSC05294Although I initially picked the Mmmelting Marshmallow Moment because of its remarkable likeness to a real life sweet, as soon as I realised it was the Snow Fairy scent (which is my all-time favourite) it went straight into my basket.  Although I’ve had pretty much every Lush product ever with this scent this is by far my favourite as the bath oil formula creates a really strongly scented bath, while the cocoa butter and shea butter means it’s a lot more moisturising as well.
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And finally it’s the big one, possibly the most famous Lush product to be released in recent years, the explosion of colour that is the Intergalactic bath bomb. With peppermint, cedarwood and vetivert oil it’s hard to pinpoint the scent amongst the heady scents of the shop, but once you get it home the freshness of the scent really hits you. Its invigorating scent is reflected in the multitude of colours that spread across the water leaving you with a bath that truly looks like a snapshot of a galaxy. Not to mention the popping candy and glitter enveloped in the bath bomb made it one of the prettiest and most enjoyable baths I’ve ever taken.DSC052832

I hope you enjoyed this post and it gave you an idea of some of the amazing products available from the new store and I highly recommend you give it a visit and try something new. Or if you’ve already been please let me know your recomendations!

Leopard Print Shoes Two Ways

DSC036612Leopard print shoes are one of the most must-have A/W items this season with everyone from New Look to Net-A-Porter bringing out their own versions. From Beyonce to Fearne Cotton, to Harry Styles there’s nothing like a pair of leopard print shoes to make you instantly cool. But animal print is also one of those things that if not styled correctly can look a little Pat Butcher so I thought I’d share with you a couple of the ways I thought they can be worn for a casual everyday look.
DSC036842DSC036692Jacket: Topshop (similar here), Shirt: Jack Wills, Jeans: Topshop, Shoes: Primark.DSC036882 DSC036912

I love this combination because it combines both my favourite leather jacket and jeans (where would we be without Jamie Jeans), but the shirt gives a slightly smarter element as well as bringing a dash of colour to the outfit. Plus did I mention the shoes were only £4!  DSC036982DSC036992 DSC038202 DSC038372

My second look is a more casual basic look with my favourite breton print dress, my Rayban wayfarers and the classic life saver of black tights. I’d also wear it with my cropped denim jacket (which I may or may not have forgotten) and just a dash of casual red lippy.

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Dress: H&M (similar here and here), Sunglasses: Rayban,

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I had a couple more ideas for how to wear this (so tell me if you want to see those anytime soon) and was surprised at just how wearable these shoes are. Granted I don’t think I’ll be reaching Sienna Miller or Harry Styles level of cool quite yet but it’s definitely encouraging me to try some new things and take some risks when it comes to some of my fashion purchases.

Take a Break You Deserve It

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Raise your hands if you’re guilty of overworking… yep me too. I am one of those people that finds it almost impossible to turn my brain off, instead choosing to worry and stress about every little thing going on in my life. It reached a peak during my final months at university when I was struggling to juggle work, university exams and trying to find a job as well as day to day dramas. It left me unable to sleep or relax and created huge tension in my back which resulted in a doctors trip and physiotherapy. It became clear to me that although this was a time of great change in my life and many important things were happening it was ridiculous that at the age of 21 the stress of it was affecting me so badly. The physiotherapy was the last straw as I decided something had to be done as living under so much self-enforced stress wasn’t healthy for me mentally or physically. I would like to mention now that I am by no means any sort of expert on this topic but I just thought that I would share with you guys what worked for me in the hope that it might be helpful for one of you now or in the future.

The first thing I tackled was sleeping as I knew that with a decent night’s sleep I’d at least be able to tackle my issues with a clearer and more rational head. I decided to stop reading university related articles before bed as this often left them plaguing my mind as I slept, and instead chose one of the many fictional books I had gathering dust on my bookcase. This helped almost immediately as my mind was occupied on the fictional events on the page not to mention it majorly improved the subject matter of my dreams as well! I also stopped using electronic devices in bed as I read that the blue light they give out is a major issue in achieving deep, peaceful sleep (here’s the article which will better explain it than I ever will). I stopped using my laptop in bed and limited myself to one Instagram check before I started reading to make sure there was enough time for it to not affect my sleep as much, and the improvement was incredible.

Exercise was the next big one as I was often spending all day either at the library or running around at work, giving me very little time outside. I started by attempting at least a half hour walk outside every day which slowly increased to an hour or two or even a short run. It gave me time to think outside of the stuffy work environment, as well as giving me some fresh air and a chance to enjoy the nice weather. This provided me with an escape and a chance to gain some perspective, as well as helping to tire me out just enough to help improve my sleep.

The last is a much simpler one and I think the most universal and that is simply just taking the time to relax. Whereas before I would feel guilty about taking a long bath or some time out to have a cup of tea and read a magazine, by emphasizing to myself that I deserved it slowly allowed me to relax and enjoy it. It was difficult to begin with but once I’d acknowledged all that I had achieved and accepted the fact that no matter how much my brain may have been whirring away no work was being done for the next half hour, it helped to alleviate the stress massively. It also helped physically as I hadn’t realised how tense my body had been until I was able to relax and loosen up. Not to mention once you’ve learnt to enjoy the act of relaxing it becomes a treat that you can look forward to and actually helped my productivity as I wanted to feel that I had deserved my reward. My current method as you’ll see is a hot bath with an assortment of bath bombs and bubbles, lighting a candle (my current favourite being my Jo Malone) and reading my book with my bath pillow at the end of the day.

It’s like they say in one of my all time favourite films Zombieland “Enjoy the little things” and I think that’s what I’d recommend more than anything. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a coffee with friends it’s the little things that make the bad things not so bad, so don’t be afraid to make the most of them because it’s the only life you’ve got. I know this is a little deeper than my usual posts but it’s something I really wanted to write and I hope you enjoyed it or it at least encouraged you to take a break because you deserve it.

Summer Party Family Style

As my family lives far and wide across the U.K. it’s not often that we all manage to get together in the same place. But with my great Uncle’s 70th looming, him and my Aunt decided to celebrate with a big blow out to make the most of the sun with good food and good company, and boy they didn’t let us down.

We arrived and walked round the corner of the house into what must be as close as England is going to get to being a tropical paradise!

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While the children made the most of the pool the rest of us relaxed in the sun and had a good old fashioned catch up.

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For once in my life I forgot to photograph the food which should tell you just how good it was! They had laid on enough for a small army with everything from hams, salads, fresh bread, salmon, and anything else that you could possibly want.

But a special mention has to go to the wine which I did manage to photograph, which had been flown in all the way from the Alps! Crisp, fresh and fruity it was a perfect accompaniment to the delicious feast.

DSC03278DSC03281  DSC03286  After all that feasting we decided to wander around the tropical paradise (and take a few photos as well).  DSC03311 DSC03312

Hidden behind these Hydrangea’s which had me swooning they were so beautiful, I discovered a little hideaway from all the craziness, squirreled away in the tropical forest.
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What I wouldn’t give for one of these in my back garden as my own little office/ reading nook.

Swooning over, I couldn’t help but strike a pose against the beautiful flowers.DSC03361Dress: Zara (Similar here, here and here), Denim Jacket: Topshop (similar here), Bag: Kate Spade (similar here), Sunglasses: ASOS, Pumps: Topshop.

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Usually I am the type of person who dreads these sorts of ‘smart/casual’ occasions as I often end up either too smart or too casual, but this recent Zara purchase has saved me. The more eagle eyed of you will recognise this as the dress I graduated in which emphasises just how versatile it is, not to mention how obsessed I am with it! Paired with my favourite Topshop denim jacket and pumps and my Kate Spade Saturday bag which I picked up in New York shortly before they closed, I think I’ve finally nailed the smart casual brief.
DSC03408DSC03398 DSC03412  After all that ‘hard work’ there was nothing left to do but enjoy the rest of the day, which is already one of the highlights of my Summer. I’d love to know if any of you have any tips of how you strike the balance of that dreaded smart/casual dress code and your favourite ways to have fun with your family this summer!

Summer Reading List Recommendations

DSC02654Nerdy as it is, one of my favourite things about Summer is the freedom that it gives me when it comes to my reading, with no school work or set reading to distract me. Not to mention the opportunities there are to read whether it’s on a beach break, a city escape or simply in your own backyard, it’s the perfect way to relax while finally getting round to read that book you’ve had on your nightstand for months. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you some of the books I’ve been loving that I think are perfect for a summer break no matter where you’re headed.

The Goddess Guide                                                                                                                      It seems now the markets are overwhelmed with lifestyle guides but this is my absolute favourite and one of the originals. From picking the right pair of jeans to secret city spots it is the perfect guide for any modern woman, not to mention it’s so beautifully designed it’ll be one of the prettiest reads you read this summer. It’s a great alternative for people who aren’t big readers or aren’t a fan of the traditional novel and it’s so interesting you’ll find yourself rereading it again and again.

The Maze Runner                                                                                                                           I was a big fan of the film last year and before the release of the second installment this Autumn I thought I’d try to get ahead of the curve and start the books. I’m a massive young adult book fan and since The Hunger games I’ve been searching for the perfect replacement and I think this is it. We start with Thomas who arrives in a glade who has no idea who he is or his past. He’s welcomed by a group of boys who live together in the glade which is at the centre of a mysterious giant stone maze. They too have no idea of their past of what has happened to the world outside. Every day they try to explore the maze but have to make it back by sundown before the doors to the maze close and the monstrous Grievers patrol. Then one day a girl arrives and everything changes. It’s one of the most gripping young adult books I’ve read so much so I devoured the first four books in record time, and perfect for those who like a bit of escapism in their reading.

American Psycho                                                                                                                            This is by far the weirdest book on my list as it’s definitely one of the most violent and gruesome books I’ve ever read, but also one of the most profound. The novel is a stark comment on the capitalist consumerism of society which was highly controversial when it was initially released, but has since then become a cult classic, It follows the murderous investment banker Patrick Bateman as he struggles to control his insanity as well as his fascination with his material possessions. I really do feel the need to put a disclaimer on this as it’s the most sickening book I’ve ever read in regards to the detail on how Bateman dismembers women, so I really wouldn’t recommend it for those under 18. But the deeper meaning to be found in the novel means that if you can move past the violence, there is an incredible comment being made about society as a whole that makes it a great holiday read for those looking for something a bit different.

The Great Gatsby                                                                                                                         I thought I’d include a classic for the more old-fashioned readers amongst us and this is my absolute favourite. It’s perfect for those who want a lighter option before they start tackling the more heftier classics, not to mention it’s one of the easiest classics to read. It has love, murder, beautiful imagery as well as a deeper discussion on the American Dream and perfect for those who like a bit of history in their fiction.

Paper Towns                                                                                                                                  Another young adult read I’d recommend before the movie comes out later this year which is a perfect choice for those who were a fan of A Fault In Our Stars. It’s about Quentin “Q” Jacobsen who after a mysterious night with his old childhood friend Margo Roth Spiegelman finds out the next morning that she has disappeared and sets out to find her. Unlike The Fault In Our Stars this is more of a mystery story, but again a story that every teenager will be able to relate to in one way or another. I’d definitely recommend it for any John Green fans or for a reader wanting to try one of his novels as it’s one of the easiest and most enjoyable reads I’ve had.

Yes Please                                                                                                                                       If you don’t know Amy Poehler by now then shame on you. Star presenter of the Golden Globes with Tina Fey for the past three years, past SNL cast member and star of the brilliant Parks and Recreation she is a pretty damn funny and impressive woman. She was already one of my number one woman crushes but after this book she moved to number one, as it is one of the best celebrity books I’ve ever read. It doesn’t take the form of a usual biography, instead she uses her past experiences as anecdotes to explain what she’s learnt from them in the funniest way possible. It’s the perfect book for those who aren’t a fan of fiction but still want a laugh along the way.

So there’s my selection of my favourite summer reads, I hope you like them and that I’ve maybe given you some ideas of some new books to try. If you have any favourite books that you like to read on holiday let me know as I’m always on the lookout for new books to try. But more importantly, enjoy your summer where ever you’re going!

Summer-Proof Makeup

When it comes to Summer you seem to only have two choices makeup wise, either go completely bare-faced or strip it down as best you can so as to avoid the dreaded smudge when you inevitably wipe your face. I … Continue reading

The perks of being a poor (soon to be) graduate

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As a result of finishing university and leaving my lovely well paying job to my tiny, sleepy home town means I’ve had to become extremely creative when it comes to keeping myself amused while I try to get a job. Seeing as many of my friends seem to be in the same boat I thought I’d share some of the ways that I’ve found are most effective when it comes to staving off madness, in the hope that it might help some of you guys too. Although I have to warn you it’s a wordy one so better grab a cup of tea and get comfy because you’re in it for the long haul…

Exercise                                                                                                                                    Now for any who knows me this point will show just how bored I have become, as I am one of the most unathletic people you will ever meet. But since my move to warmer climates I have been trying to make the most of it and have been taking my bike out for a spin. I’ve even been on the odd run! Now while I am extremely lucky to be living in an especially green and picturesque town making said exercise much easier and more enjoyable, the effect I’ve noticed to my peace of mind is so great that I would encourage everyone, no matter what your local settings to take it up. Plus if you’re lucky and tan, it’s an excellent way to up your vitamin D intake!

Reading                                                                                                                                      As much as I have enjoyed my degree it has meant that the amount of what I call ‘fun’ reading has steadily declined over the years as I’ve tried to keep up with my workload. I came back home with over 30 unread books which were added to the many more I was unable to take to university in the first place, so I decided to make the most of my literary freedom and try to tackle the mountain. I’ve barely even started but already it’s made me realise just how much I love reading and has meant I’m finally getting round to reading those books people always tell you “you have to read”. So don’t be too surprised if there’s a Summer book guide appearing soon.

Home Projects                                                                                                                           An inevitable result when you come back home with eight huge boxes of belongings and nowhere to put them, I decided to tackle my room and update it from the Twilight posters (yep I admit I loved it) of my youth to something I little less mortifying. Although I am the least crafty person ever I’ve enjoyed being able to plan and decorate my room and uncovering some hidden gems that I’ve kept from childhood. Although there has been a throw out worthy of an episode of Hoarders, I’ve also found some items worthy of a home which has led me to attempt scrapbooking, but more on that later. Not to mention how nice it is to have a new, adult feeling room that is not only a lovely place to work, but a space of my own to relax and unwind in.

Reconnecting                                                                                                                            One of the hardest parts of moving to a university in a different country is that travelling home became a pretty expensive procedure. Although I was extremely lucky to have some best friends who made the journey over, there were some equally good friends that I never got to see. So now with all of us heading home for the foreseeable future at least, I’ve really enjoyed catching up with them all and whether we’re going out for a coffee or having a cosy night in, it’s become one of my favourite ways to spend my days.

Get Outdoors                                                                                                                                 I am a sucker for sunny days especially as they’re so rare in the UK, so when the sun pokes its head out I try to get out as much as I can. As well as my bike and my (very rare) runs getting me outside, I’ve been on the lookout for events in my area like the local town festival which is free to attend with free concerts and cheap rides and attractions.Having a look in your local paper is the best way to see what’s going on in your area and you never know, you might be surprised by what you find!

Write!                                                                                                                                         As a graduate intent on finding my place in the ever-changing, highly competitive world of publishing and journalism this is the most important item on my list, and one I’m actually really looking forward to doing. I’m planning my posts on here properly this time to attempt to ensure regularity as well as trying to make the most of the weather to up my photography game to hopefully make this blog better for you guys as well as for me.

This is only an initial list as I know I will most definitely lax on at least one of these (let’s face it it’ll probably be the exercising) but for the mean time I feel lucky enough to have this time to relax and refocus on what I want. I do hope this list helps give some of you some ideas of ways to enjoy the Summer without breaking the bank, and if any of you are in the same boat please do share any of your tips and we can try to keep our sanity together!

When You Get The Sads

tumblr_naulxpkFiP1r31h9jo1_500It seems to me that one of the main downsides to the sun disappearing means that we all tend to get, as my Mum used to call them the ‘sads’ a lot more. While Winter is full of some of my most favourite things such as Halloween, pumpkins, warm cosy socks, open fires and hot chocolate, it’s also full of colder days and nights, grey skies and rain, which can sometimes make the good things just a little bit harder to remember. So when the times get tough, I get my sound of music on and try to remember my favourite things. So here they are and I hope they might help and inspire you to find your own winter warmers to make the season just a little less sad .

  • My favourite food- Currently a toss up between Tesco’s garlic mash potato or M&S’s creamy chicken pie, or if I’m lucky enough to be at home my Mum makes the ultimate creamy chicken risotto, hmm. But comfort food is a well known phrase for a fact as I have never had a mood that couldn’t be at least slightly improved with some good food.
  • Anything cosy- fact, being warm automatically improves my mood, so I grab my fluffy slippers, bathrobe and blanket and bundle myself up nice and tight. When you’re cosy everything seems a world away, perfect for dealing with sadness or stress.
  • A little touch of escapism- whether it be through music, film, TV or a book, if you’re feeling crappy then there’s nothing like escaping and just letting yourself get lost in something outside of your current reality, at least for a little while.
  • Relaxation- whatever your own personal form is, mine is a bubble bath followed by a cup of tea surrounded by candles, everyone needs to de-stress. This is a key part of my beat the blues formula, as calming yourself down is the first step to making yourself feel better, and looking at your issues with a clear and relaxed mind makes everything a lot easier to deal with.

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
C. JoyBell C.