Tuesday, 27 October 2015
As if it had fallen from the sky out of nowhere, autumn hit me on the head without notice. Having just gone into a full time job, I'm at my desk writing most of the time, which means I barely get the chance to look outside and take a second to see what's happening around me. Before I knew it, leaves were turning stunning shades of golden yellow, sienna and crimson, pumpkin spiced lattes and hot mulled fruit had popped up on the menu at Starbucks, and everything was starting to smell just a little bit like cinnamon.
This time of year, I love to invest in a high quality, sturdy and practical coat to see me through to next year's winter months. I had been searching for at least a month, watching out for designs that caught my eye, but the shops seem to only sell coats when you're really desperate for them - and then they hike up the prices, it seems.
I had my eye on one particular coat from Marks & Spencer: a wool mix in grey and camel, cuts off at just-above-the-knee and has two large front pockets. I saw it in store, but did they have my size? No. So I made it my mission to find the coat online when I came home. But did they have my size? No.
So that little bubble swiftly burst.
A few weeks later, during a birthday day out to Westfield Stratford, I dragged my unwitting boyfriend over to the pyjama section in H&M in the hopes of finding some decent (and reasonably priced) nightwear - low and behold, there dangled from the knickers stand (in true slapdash shopper style) a long, tan wool jacket. And guess what? It was my size.
I did my usual 'try it on, carry it around the store for a bit, look for similar/better options, put it back, try it on' act until dear boyfriend got a tad fed up, and finally bought it. I've been wearing it almost every day since... #PurchaseOfTheYear
Sunday, 25 October 2015
I know, I'm English but I'm calling autumn 'fall' (don't hate; I just do weird things sometimes), but fall seems to more aptly epitomise the way that the temperature changes, the way the sun dips a little sooner than usual, and especially the way the trees shed their pretty red and yellow leaves.
I think we can all agree that the months of September, October and November can be very beautiful and full of change, so to celebrate, I've put together a list of some of the most beautiful places to visit during this very special time of year. Maybe it'll even inspire you to indulge in your wanderlust!
1. Blackwood Forest, Hampshire, England
This was the location of one of my most recent holidays, which I actually took during autumn last year. I stayed with Forest Holidays (a tad like Center Parcs but more relaxing and with less children), and it was one of the most fulfilling weeks I've ever spent on holiday in the UK.
I spent the mornings walking my dogs on the trails marked out throughout the woodland, snapping photographs of the sunlight falling through the branches of the trees. It was a magical experience, and I can't wait to go back.
Image c/o clry2
2. New England, USA
Located across six states, New England is THE place to visit for that fuzzy fall feeling in America. The legendary fire-toned foliage here must not be missed, and is so popular that several websites even track the journey of the season throughout the region.
The harvest festivals here are also particularly festive - ideal for discovering the best of autumn fruits and vegetables, and sampling the delicious produce in fantastic homemade recipes. New England will definitely be atop my list for my next holiday destination!
Image c/o Brendan Campbell
3. Pitlochry, Scotland
In this burgh in Perth and Kinross, you can find some stunning waterside trees, making for stunning photographs over the rivers and lochs. Explore the area whilst hill walking to get the perfect views over the surrounding glens, or hire a boat to get a closer of of this stunning natural scenery.
Image c/o Sigfrid Lundberg
4. Skane, Sweden
Sweden has always been a place that I've been dying to visit, and Skane is a region of undeniable beauty during autumn. The trees turn beautiful shades of burgundy, auburn and crimson across untouched valleys, and the towns are naturally festive with charming traditional Swedish architecture.
Image c/o alberto r. motterle
5. Salzburg, Austria
The fourth largest city in Austria, Salzburg is renowned for its baroque architecture and stunning location by the river Salzach. In autumn, fiery trees contrast with white houses lining the riverbanks - with the Austrian Alps in the background, this coulen't make a more perfect shot.
Image c/o Otger
6. Ordesa National Park, Spain
Rolling across 156 square kilometres, this protected area in the Pyrenees has some of the best hiking trails in Spain. Here you'll come across waterfalls, canyons, meadows and cliffs, all framed by a mix of colourful trees. If you have a moment, pop down to one of the surrounding towns for Spains annual grape harvests.
Image c/o ActiveSteve
7. Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
A picturesque country in its own right, Canada is home to the colourful city of Mont-Tremblant. Here, you can ski at the year-round Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, whilst enjoying the terrific foliage and the bold-coloured roofs of the city buildings. I recommend the zipline tour across the forest to get the best view!
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
'London by the sea', they call it - and you Londoners are really going to hate me here - but I think Brighton's better than our beloved capital. Why? Because it has all the positives of a vibrant urban atmosphere (exciting nightlife, quirky shops, fantastic restaurants and cultural sights) but it's right near the sea and, being from a seaside town originally, Brighton felt a little bit like home. I tend to feel like London is another world in contrast to where I've lived, whereas Brighton is familiar, twee and a little bit bonkers in places.
The reason I say that 'all bloggers should visit Brighton', is because this fantastic town has so many photography opportunities, plenty to write about, and it's a social media lover's heaven. I posted a few images on Instagram with '#Brighton' in the caption, and immediately they were bombarded with likes and comments from fellow Brightoners, other tourists and even other independent shops within the area - not that I'm constantly glued to my notifications feed, but it's always nice to get positive engagement, especially from people who can relate to your content.
Brighton also has one of the largest blogging communities in Britain (just check the hashtag '#BrightonBloggers'), not just in fashion, but in beauty, food, crafts, politics and lifestyle - so you'll be in good company!
If you're going to visit Brighton, it'd be a sin not to to take a wander down the Lanes - it's the city's historic shopping district, where you'll find an assortment of jewellers, clothes shops and cafes, amongst other establishments. These cobbold streets are narrow and intimate, but so pretty, and always lined with pastel bunting hanging delicately above the paths.
Foodwise, I recommend Bill's - I know, it's a chain restaurant, but it's soooooo good - which is situated in an old bus depot on North Road. It's pretty easy to find, and has a warm and welcoming atmosphere; try the Buttermilk Chicken - you'll thank me later. And, if you like speciality teas, pop into the Bluebird Tea Co on the bustling Gardner Street for friendly, knowledgeable customer service and fantastic brews to drink in or take home.
Finally, relax in Plateau with a glass of wine and friends. A cosy French restaurant and wine bar, this place is ideal for a sophisticated end to the evening - and the waiters really know their stuff. I sampled a delicious gin and tonic (I know right, how can a gin and tonic ever be delicious? But this one rocked), while my [more cultured] friends enjoyed glasses of white. A perfect end to a fantastic weekend away.
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Whether you are an employee in the creative industries, run your own business or go freelance as a writer, illustrator, designer or whatever, time management is the most important aspect of 'getting things done'.
However, we all know that creatives can get a little distracted from time to time dreaming up new ideas and generally getting inspired, and this might eat into hours that could be spent cultivating projects that have already got some foundations behind them.
So how do we make sure that we don't mix up the time spent daydreaming with the time spent 'doing'? There are several small and easy alterations you could make to your lifestyle in order to manage your time more effectively, and fulfil your true creative (and entrepreneurial) potential.
1. PLAN OUT YOUR DAY
Whether you stick to it, or not, set aside ten minutes each morning to plan out your day (ON PAPER - because we don't need another reason to look at a screen). If you've got a typical 9-5, split your day in half and plan your working hours either side of lunchtime, noting down what you're hoping to achieve during each time period.
If you work from home or are lucky enough to have more flexible office hours, try to give yourself a routine and stick to it. Fit in regular breaks, and make sure to take them at the times that you've noted.
2. UTILISE DEADLINES
The word 'deadline' doesn't just refer to your boss giving you until tomorrow to complete what seems like a thousand mammoth tasks - give it a positive meaning by noting down deadlines for each upcoming task, and reward yourself when you've completed the task within the time limit.
Generally, if we know that we've only got a certain amount of time to finish a task, we'll procrastinate less.
3. LEARN WHEN TO SAY NO
If you already have plenty on your plate, don't take on more tasks than you have time for. It's true that there aren't enough hours in a day, so don't overstress yourself by scrambling to get as many tasks completed as possible in a short time frame. Plus, you're more likely to produce the work to a substandard level when you're rushed, so leave time either side to plan and proof.
Where possible, schedule the tasks for another day; unless it's really urgent, it can wait.
Where possible, schedule the tasks for another day; unless it's really urgent, it can wait.
4. ALLOCATE DOWNTIME
When you're planning your day, allocate your downtime during the periods in which you're least likely to concentrate. This is usually during the mid-afternoon slump - around 3.30-4.30pm.
If you're in an office, halt your work for 15 minutes of brainstorming. This change in activity will recharge your brain and help you concentrate for the last few hours of the day. If you're at home, you could halt work entirely for half an hour of your favourite activity, then add the difference onto the end of your day. No matter how long you work, a break can make a huge difference.
5. KEEP PROCRASTINATION AT BAY
This is one of the most difficult tasks, as creatives can sometimes get distracted if they're not careful. If social media is your downfall, try placing all bookmarks of this kind into a hard-to-reach folder within a folder; if it's difficult for you to get to your Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest page, you're less likely to want to open it up.
If that's not enough, download Anti-social: an app that will limit the amount of time spent checking social media.
Monday, 12 October 2015
Collection's newest palette, Eyes Uncovered*, couldn't have arrived on the shelves at a better time. My favourite colourway is 'Nude Bronze', which offers a selection of six beautiful metallic bronzed tones; however, you can also pick this up in 'Nude' for coffee coloured shades and 'Nude Grey' for a nighttime smokey eye variation.
The textures are incredibly soft and very blendable - you'll only need a little bit of product to achieve an intense colour, especially when it comes to the darker shades. I also found that, as the colours are so complimentary, you could easily create about four different looks using only this palette (ooh I love a versatile product!)
My favourite shade is 'Ochre' which, as you can see below, is the perfect end-of-summer gold shade. I prefer to use this as a highlight, rather than all over, as it is very intense and can look a bit like you're off to a disco if you've applied too much pigment.
The best thing about this palette? It's only £3.99 (wuuuuuut) and is available from your nearest Boots, or online. Stock up before they discontinue it!
Want to see how I use this palette to create a golden smokey eye look? Watch the video below:
*Product gifted for review
Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Working in an office alongside a fitness magazine, I kind of feel as if I should be doing SOMEthing exercisey-ish with my spare time. For a long time, that wasn't the case - I'm a massive bed potato at heart - and I hated the thought of working out, getting sweaty and losing my breath. However, sitting at a desk all day, it wasn't long before I noticed my body changing: I was slouching more, my legs were losing tone and anything I ate would go right to my stomach and make me feel slightly bloated.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to change that. I started slowly, making small changes in my diet and my activity levels, and then the ball began rolling from there. I've noticed tiny alterations in tone and even size (whether it's all in my mind, I don't care) and the most important thing is that I FEEL healthier, lighter and less lethargic. Here are my super easy tips for going from inactive to athletic in one week (note: I can't guarantee you'll become Beyoncé, but by all means have a go!).
#1 GO TO BED EARLIER
You never realise how much your body depends on sleep until it starts to show in your face, your body and even in how you function throughout the day (I can get projects finished so much quicker when I've had at least 8 hours of sleep, compared to my usual 6 and a half). People were telling me I looked tired, and it was true - I didn't look like someone in their early twenties, I looked as if I'd been on the daily grind for years.
Better yet, people who get more than 8 hours of sleep a night DOUBLE their chances of losing weight, according to the NHS. I started by going to bed half an hour earlier on my first night, then increasing it from there. Can't get to sleep? Use a meditative sleep app or read a book to relax - but try not to use social media in bed, as it drains time.
#2 CUT DOWN ON CAFFEINE
Notice how I didn't say 'cut out'; if you usually intake a lot of caffeine, cutting it out completely will only make you feel sluggish and make you crave it more. It was common for me to drink around three cups of tea a day (which probably isn't much in the grand scheme, but every little helps), and I slowly cut this down to one regular tea and two green teas. I already feel healthier!
#3 DRINK MORE WATER
I can't stress enough how much of a miracle worker water really is. It'll help you lose weight, maintain healthy digestive functions AND aid in clearing your skin. Eight pints is the recommended amount, and that may seem like a lot, but it's easy if you set yourself a reminder every hour to grab a glass of water. Sure, you'll go to the toilet more, but that's a tiny downside compared to the benefits!
#4 EXERCISE WHEN YOU CAN
If you've got a busy lifestyle - that'll be most of you, I guess - you don't have to set aside an hour in the day for your fitness fix. Little things, like power walking from your car to your office, will help you get into the active mindset.
Why not try deskercise? Sit in your chair and squeeze your glutes for 10-15 seconds, then release and repeat!
#5 REWARD YOURSELF
Hard work pays off - so why not reward a week of thinking fit with a day off? Spend it any way you like: Netflix binge, shopping spree, pumpkin spiced latte, duvet day - we all love a holiday once in a while, so go ahead; you've earned it! But try not to binge eat, as you'll bloat yourself and it may cause irregular digestive functioning.
Monday, 5 October 2015
I accumulated a neat little shoe box of products last month, some of which I could see myself using every day and some which I knew would end up going to better homes. Unfortunately, this happens occasionally with a very small handful of products I'm given to review, as I'm very particular about what I put on my skin, and what fits in with my skin type (very dry, if you didn't know).
Want to know a bit more about these products? Check out my haul video below:
*Products gifted for review
Below are a few fantastic products, a few not so fantastic products, and a few which are somewhere in between.
Le Jasmin by Miller Harris
This is by far my favourite perfume of the year; it's earthy and ever so slightly floral, with a hint of Sicilian lemon, bergamot and mandarin, lavendar and wild rosemary, and Moroccan Jasmine, Tunisian orange flower and ylang ylang - all on top of a base of cedar wood, oak moss and musk.
I like this because it's not too floral or sickly sweet - it's more of a unisex scent that I could imagine being worn by a man or woman. The box is super pretty too, as is the simplistic and chic bottle! I see myself wearing Le Jasmin throughout the year, for years to come.
Cleansing Lotion by Garnier
This is a simple and gentle cleansing lotion by one of my favourite drugstore brands, Garnier. It's great for every day use - just squirt a pea sized amount on a cotton pad and sweep across your face.
I wouldn't say this product is anything extraordinary, but it does the job - and it's a great price (just £3.29)!
Almond Hand Cream by Weleda*
Almond oil (along with coconut, argan and even plain old olive) has enjoyed vast popularity over the past few years for its moisturising qualities. This hand cream uses almonds as its main ingredient, and does wonders for keeping skin supple and smooth - especially sensitive skin.
I have very dry skin, so this is currently going with me wherever I am!
Micellar Water by Avéne*
Like almond oil, micellar water has become a big hit on the beauty market recently. This wonder water removes makeup and cleanses skin without the need for rinsing, as it's so pure and natural.
I've found however, that this doesn't quite do the job when removing waterproof eye makeup; for that purpose, I'll stick to my oil-based cleansers.
Snail Gel by Dr Organic*
Unfortunately, I couldn't try this out because I'm just too freaked out by the concept to put it on my face. It uses 'snail secretion filtrate' as its key ingredient, which is confusing most people as to whether it's a gimmick or a genuinely effective new treatment for skin.
Apparently, snails have been used for beauty treatments for years, and the ingredient that is said to soothe and moisturise is actually the slime that snails secrete from their bodies in order to move smoothly across surfaces.
The product itself is clear in appearance, and smells a bit like lemonade; however, I just can't bring myself to apply it to my face, so I may get a family member to try it out for me!
TriAcnéal Expert Cream by Avéne*
This soothing cream possesses the ingredient, Diolényl, which is said to limit bacteria growth, reduce redness and help eliminate pimples (hence, the 'tri' in the product title).
I haven't given this enough testing yet in order to provide you with a fair and thorough review, but I will be posting something up this month with just that - keep an eye open!
Want to know a bit more about these products? Check out my haul video below:
*Products gifted for review
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