Sunday, 19 November 2017

All The Random Things I'm Currently Loving

I always enjoy reading monthly favourite blog posts but I feel like writing them requires a certain level of organisation that I don't have. By the time I even think about writing a monthly favourites post, it is already half way into the next month. Also I am a creature of habit and tend to stick to the same products that I have been using since I was a preteen. So, instead of writing a monthly favourites post, I decided to write a post about all the random things that I have been enjoying lately - and I even managed to pick some things that aren't edible which is even more surprising.

Body Shop Matte Clay Skin Clarifying Foundation
Some of you may remember that a little while ago I wrote a post about making ethical consumer choices and how I wanted to start by swapping my go-to beauty products for cruelty free options. My foundation was one of the first things that I was keen to explore other options with as I had been repurchasing the same product for years so I was definitely ready for a change. I liked the matte finish of this foundation especially as it didn't appear cakey on my skin as many matte foundations do. It is a good medium coverage and blended really nicely. Also, as a pale girl, I was really excited that they had some good light shades and there were even shades for people with lighter skin than mine which is a revelation as I usually just have to go with the lightest shade and still end up looking orange.

B. Protected Anti-Pollution Primer
I started using this primer a few months ago because, admittedly, I misread the price and thought I was getting a really good deal (tip: make sure you are reading the price for the product you want to buy and not the one next to it on the shelf). Because I am a massively awkward person, I begrudgingly paid for this primer. Happily though, this primer actually turned out to be really good. I love the consistency as it is quite thick so you really feel like it is a creating a good base for your foundation. I haven't had issues with caking that I constantly used to get since I switched to this primer and, despite being a thicker formula than the products I was used to, it doesn't feel heavy on your skin. It blends well and creates a really nice base. I think I will even repurchase this product - on purpose this time!

Nivea Watermelon Shine
This is a product that I have been repurchasing for years and I had completely forgotten about until I found it sitting around in the back of my drawer. I love the watermelon scent of this lip balm and it gives a slight pinky-red finish to the lip but it is quite subtle which is what I look for in a lip colour. It is not intensely moisturising but a good product to use regularly as I find that products like Vaseline are overly moisturising on my lips and then my lips start getting chapped when I am not using them.

YSL Touche Eclat Glow Shot 
This product has been an absolute treat for me as I am very much someone who uses high street makeup products. My auntie very kindly bought me this when we went shopping together and I was beyond excited to use it. I loved the pink colour as I feel like it really complements my skin tone and the shine is glorious. I am still learning how best to apply this though as I am not used to using a highlighter that isn't a powder.

Superdrug Deodorant
Back on the cruelty free side of things, I recently tried out this deodorant and I was really impressed with it. I usually stick to brands like Sure but I haven't even noticed any difference since switching to this cheaper version - which is definitely a good thing. Why spend more on a non-cruelty free item when you can get just as good results with this?

Scope Charity Shop
This is a bit of a random one but I have been loving picking up some little bits and pieces for bubba from Scope. Of course their stock totally depends on donations but I always seem to find things that are in good condition and are reasonably priced in their shops.

One great thing about having moved to London is that the Poundlands are much bigger here - thrilling, I know. I recently picked up the flowers and the notebook you see in the picture from Poundland and I find that they are the absolute best for cheap blog pic props and you can afford to change your props more regularly as it is just so affordable. Also their Halloween stuff is second to none.

New Look Houndstooth Scarf
I picked this scarf up from New Look because I was pretty unprepared for the temperature drop that has hit the UK recently and I felt like the blood in my veins was slowly turning to the consistency of a cherry Slush Puppy. I was impressed by the price and the cosiness but also because it was giving me Hannah Gale vibes and she is an absolute icon so it had to be purchased.

Greenwich Market
I may have mentioned my newfound love for Greenwich Market in my blog post about moving to London but I wanted to include it here as well. I am a huge market fan and have always loved going to places like Borough Market and Camden Market. Heck, even church fetes and jumble sales. If it has stalls, I am there. So, when I discovered Greenwich Market right on our doorstep, I was so excited and I have been there a fair few times already. I mean, there are some really good food stalls there and I am a hungry person with a lot of time of their hands.

What have you been loving lately?

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Blogger Spotlight: Kelly from Maverick Baking

Starting us off on our Blogger Spotlight series, we have the lovely Kelly from Makerick Baking. She runs a blog about something very close to my heart - food! Just scrolling through her blog to create these questions had my mouth watering. She posts loads of tried and tested recipes and restaurant reviews as well. Her blog is definitely worth a follow and she even has a YouTube channel if you feel like having a bit of a bake-along with her or want to watch her review some chocolate (why don't more people do chocolate reviews?!). Kelly is an all-round good egg and definitely worth a follow!

What first got you into blogging?
I’d finally discovered that I had passion for something. I was baking once or twice a week and really wanted to start sharing pictures of my creations with my friends and others on social media. While a Facebook page was fine for a while, people were starting to think I was a business and didn’t really “get it”. So instead, I decided to jump right in at the deep end and start a self-hosted food blog, sharing my pictures and recipes for anyone out there to try! 

What advice would you give to someone starting a blog?

I’d tell them not to worry about trying to be perfect from day one. I’m not ashamed to say that I started my blog as a teenager, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My website design was terrible and my photos were worse. I didn’t know blogging was a viable hobby let alone a career! Ultimately, it’s your space, and you should feel free to post whatever you like, improvement comes with experience and time. 

Do you have an all-time favourite bake?

Now THAT is a tough question. I’d probably say that the bake I’m most proud of and enjoy making the most is my triple or quadruple chocolate brownies. They’ve taken years to perfect, and I can genuinely say (after eating hundreds of brownies from loads of places in my lifetime) that they are the best brownies I’ve ever had. 

How does Aberdeen compare to other parts of the UK?

It’s certainly very grey thanks to all the old granite buildings. Most people don’t think to visit here, as Glasgow and Edinburgh garner much of the attention of tourists in Scotland, however I think it is an underrated city. While we are nowhere near as bustling and cosmopolitan as larger cities, we have a lot of great quality local restaurants and businesses, and a very different attitude from other parts of Scotland. Hint: Glaswegians are much more friendly, and less cynical!

Have you had any major baking disasters?

Too many to name to be honest. I’ll give you a few painful examples. Many times, I’ve forgotten to grease a tin and lost an entire cake or batch of cookies that have welded themselves to the metal. I’ve also been known to find an entire cheesecake has dripped out of the bottom of the tin it was cooking in because I didn’t seal it tightly enough. As I never follow a recipe properly (hence the blog title) I have also found myself with many burnt, ugly or just plain bad bakes that were barely redeemable! 

What made you decide to start a YouTube channel?

I really like eating, I really like baking, and I really like talking, so it only felt right. There aren’t nearly enough Scottish voices on YouTube, and I felt I wanted to add to the small number with a channel that is both useful and entertaining.

What was your biggest achievement of 2017?

On the blog side, I saw a lot of growth and finally hit my first 1000 followers on a social media site. In my “real” life, I graduated from Aberdeen University with an upper second class honours Law degree, and that wasn’t easy!

Name 3 of your favourite bloggers:
·         Sally’s Baking Addiction – this lady is the undisputed Queen of US baking right now!
·         Chocolate Covered Katie – an unbelievably creative and unique cook, making healthified junk food.
·         Domestic Gothess – an alternative girl making beautiful food

I hope you enjoyed our first ever Blogger Spotlight. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one which should be up within the next week. Also be sure to go and show Kelly some love on her blog, YouTube, and social media channels!


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Things I Wish I Had Done At University

There is a slight sadness to this autumn that I never imagined I would feel. This is the first autumn that I am not returning to a form of education since I was 4 years old. For me, autumn is so connected with the smell of sharpening pencils in a school classroom, stocking up on notepads and new highlighters, laying out my school uniform, and a certain sense of excitement over what was in store for me in the coming year. As I progressed into college and university, a lot of that sentimentality remained. I still found myself stocking up on new notebooks at the start of term and investing in new pieces for my autumn wardrobe to debut at lectures. Autumn and education are so interconnected in my mind that now that I am out of education, I don't quite know what to do with myself.

Looking back, there are quite a lot of things that I wish I had done whilst I was still at university that I can't really do now. There are so many opportunities that I missed out on because I felt too shy to put myself out there and do them. I wish that I had kept in mind how university doesn't last forever and that I should make the most of it whilst I'm there.

So, in an effort to encourage my student readers to make the most of their time at uni - and just to indulge in a bit of nostalgic reminiscing - I decided to put together a little list of all the things I wish I had done at university.

Taken advantage of the free language courses
At my university, the language department offered free language courses and you could also take a proficiency test at the end of it which gave you a qualification in that language. I did study German in the first year of uni but I dropped it when I went into second year. I did intend to do the free language course in German so I have at least something to show for it but I got a bit lazy and next thing I knew I was graduating. Lots of unis offer free language courses and they always have a wide selection to choose from - gone are the days of only having French or German to study. My uni offered everything from Russian to Japanese. Even if you don't become an expert, learning a few phrases is a lot of fun and a great thing to add to your CV (yes, I am aware I sound like a career advisor).

Made the most of student discount
They say that you don't appreciate a good thing until it's gone and that is definitely true of student discounts. I miss all the offers and savings to be had. I miss the cheaper rent. I even miss student loans and grants. Being a graduate is super expensive. So expensive that I think they should introduce a graduate discount system so you continue to have discounts for the first year after you graduate - just whilst you transition into a career and stabilise yourself.

Gone on a cheap, international trip with the uni
My uni was always running cheap trips to different places across the UK and the world. I wish now that I had taken advantage of the opportunity to travel so cheaply (and get out of some lectures). 

Studied harder for assessments
Looking back, I really didn't put as much effort into my studies as I could have done and I do regret that now. I think I would have found the course a lot more enjoyable if I had actually engaged with the books we were assigned more and put more hours into researching for assessments. I may also be a little bit bitter that I didn't achieve the 2:1 that I had hoped for. 

Gone to town more on the room d├ęcor
There is nothing I love more than reading a good old room tour post but they also make me wish I had put more effort into my own room decoration whilst at university. All the photo prints, motivational postcards, and posters I see adorning corkboards put shame to the timetable and print out of German verb conjugation that I had pinned to mine. I also feel like maybe I would have been more motivated to work if I had actually been able to use my desk rather than making it into a wasteland of dirty laundry, crumpled receipts, and seminar hand outs that probably should have been filed away.

Joined societies
I feel like I could have been involved with so many more things and met a lot more people if I had joined societies. Some of my flatmates were involved with so many different things and they always seemed to be off out somewhere fun. I kinda wish I hadn't missed out on those opportunities myself.

Prepared for seminars
The amount of seminars that I attended on novels that I had not even opened is laughable - and kind of tragic. I feel like maybe I would have gotten more out of my university experience if I had actually engaged with the material I was meant to be studying rather than hurried searching the book on Wikipedia on the way to class.
What would you do differently if you went back to university?

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Can High Street Perfumes Compete With High End Fragrances?

Buying a new perfume is one of my favourite things. When I am stood in front of that big glass cabinet filled with shiny bottles, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop picking out a selection of penny sweets with their pocket money. I bought my first ever perfume when I was thirteen with money that I had been given for my birthday. I remember the woman who had served me in the shop passing me down countless bottles to spritz and the slight light-headedness that followed from inhaling too many scents. I eventually decided upon Gucci Flora because I loved the light, floral scent and the flowery packaging. It all felt so sophisticated and worlds away from stocking up on Charlie body sprays in Boots which was what I was accustomed to. Since then, the novelty of perfume buying has not worn off. I remained faithful to Gucci for a few years and tried a few different perfumes from their range. I then ventured into other brands like Dolce and Gabbana, YSL, and Bulgari but I never chose anything that didn't boast a designer label.

However, that all changed last Christmas when my husband gifted me a bottle of Zara Femme. He told me how he had actually served a customer at his work who was wearing this fragrance and loved it so much that he asked her where she had bought it. I was touched by the fact that he had gone to so much effort to track down the perfect scent but the designer perfume snob in me was panicking. What if it doesn't last as long? What if it smells cheap? My head was buzzing with doubts about wearing a high street perfume. Thinking back, it seems ridiculous as I wear a full face of high street makeup and all of my clothes are from the high street but perfume was something that I had always thought of as being luxurious and high end. You can imagine my shock when I ended up loving the perfume. All of my doubts were totally unfounded. The perfume lasted just as long as my designer fragrances and I received so many compliments on the scent.

So, when I was offered the chance to review two high street fragrances, I leapt at the opportunity. As someone who has recently seen the light and realised that there are some real fragrance gems to be found in high street stores, I wanted to put these perfumes to the test and see how they stacked up.

Monsoon Rose Gold*

I wouldn't be able to call myself a blogger if I didn't have at least a slight obsession with everything rose gold so I was certainly excited by this product. The packaging is really nice quality and I can't wait to display it on my dressing table alongside my other perfumes. In terms of the perfume itself, I was really impressed. In fact, I have every intention of repurchasing this once I have finished it. The scent is quite a warm and slightly musky scent which just screams sophistication to me - I feel like this is how Kate Middleton smells.

Monsoon describe it as having 'top notes of sparkling lemon, soft fruit and ozonic scents are layered with velvety rose, tuberose, neroli and cyclamen, and underpinned with base notes of Eastern woods, vanilla, mosses, musk and balsamic amber'. 

Personally, this is the kind of fragrance that I have always wanted to own but never committed to because I always opt for sweeter, more traditionally floral fragrances. It wasn't overpowering but the scent definitely wore well throughout the day and I could still smell it on my wrists before stepping into the shower in the evening. For £24 for a 30ml bottle or £35 for 100ml, I would say this fragrance definitely gives high end perfumes a run for their money both in terms of price and quality.  

Accessorize Love Lily*

On trying this perfume, I was surprised by how different it was to Monsoon's Rose Gold perfume. I would say that this perfume is better suited to a younger person and would be perfect for someone who is just starting to experiment with perfumes. I would definitely have loved to receive this as a Christmas or birthday gift when I was in my teens. The scent is very sweet and floral but the vanilla undertones save it from becoming too sickly. It described on the Accessorize website as being 'sweet and vibrant' and having notes of 'raspberry, orange, jasmine, and vanilla'. I would say that the raspberry and jasmine notes are the strongest which contribute to the sweetness of this scent and make it perfect as a fun and playful daytime scent.

In terms of packaging, this product is a real winner. The box is a beautiful, vibrant pink and I love the flower design in the cap of the perfume bottle. For just £19, you get this large 75ml bottle which would be the perfect addition to any dressing table. Although this product isn't something that I would personally repurchase for myself as I feel like this product is too young for me, I can appreciate that this is a great deal for a good quality product and I wouldn't hesitate to buy this as a gift for a younger female relative.

Clearly, the high street is putting up a good fight when it comes to the competition with high end fragrances. Products like Monsoon's Rose Gold show that you can get a good quality product for a fraction of what you'd spend on the designer brands. Also the high street makes perfume accessible to women of all ages and products like Accessorize's Love Lily are perfect for teenage girls who want to experiment with scents but have a more modest budget.

What is your favourite perfume? Do you prefer high street or high end?

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Why I'll Never Be A Mummy Blogger

Lately, I have been considering my brand. I am cringing that I actually just wrote that but, what I mean is, I have been considering which direction I should take this blog in. Whether I need a niche. Whether I should just continue under the umbrella term of 'lifestyle blogger' or if my blog needs something new. I have been experimenting with different kinds of posts and asking a lot of questions on social media about what you guys want to read more of. I have been loving writing more opinion posts (basically it is a great excuse for me to just rant) but I have also been considering how having a baby will impact what kind of things I will want to write about. Will I automatically become a 'mummy blogger'?

Don't get me wrong, I love parenting blogs. All I seem to read these days is posts that include cute, little bubbas and I am an avid fan of a whole host of YouTubers who document the trials and tribulations of motherhood. But something is holding me back from the idea of becoming a full-blown mummy blogger myself. Although I have been blogging for years and sharing places I have visited and big life events, I still think of myself as a fairly private person. I don't feel hugely comfortable sharing much about my relationship with my husband or pictures of my friends and family and I feel like this will probably extend to my daughter too.

Of course, I have every intention of sharing pictures of my bubba on social media and I will probably share some here as well but I won't be making her the central focus of my blog. She will, of course, be the central focus of my life so this will probably transfer into my writing but, by labelling myself as a 'mummy blogger', I feel like this puts a certain pressure on me to produce content based around my daughter which oversteps a line that I would feel comfortable with. As much as I love to share snippets of my life on this blog and have really enjoyed documenting my pregnancy, there are certain things that I want to share with just my husband and our immediate family.

I will continue to share parts of my life on this blog and you definitely won't go without pictures of my daughter. I will continue to document my pregnancy and continue creating baby related content but I have decided that much of my daughter's life and our relationship together will remain private.

What do you think of parenting blogs?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

How I Achieved The Softest Baby Bump In The World (Probably)

During pregnancy, strange things start to happen to your skin. One minute everything is normal and you're just sat waiting for your pregnancy glow, the next your chin has transformed into a mountain range of spots and you have dry patches in the weirdest of places. Your bump seems to be bigger every time you look at it but you are also ballooning in areas you never expected (I mean, my wedding ring is now so tight that it leaves white marks on my sausage fingers). It is definitely important to take care of your skin during pregnancy as it starts to stretch out to make space for bubba and I have found that I feel better about myself too when I am moisturised to within an inch of my life.

Over the last 35 weeks, I have tried lots of different lotions and potions to keep my bump (and the rest of me) silky smooth but I always find myself going back to these 4 products. So, I wanted to share with you all my all-time favourite pregnancy moisturisers.

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks
This product is one that I hugely associate with pregnancy as my mum used it when she was pregnant with my three younger siblings so it was the first product I reached for when I fell pregnant myself. I love the cocoa smell and how it leaves my bump feeling so smooth. It is quite a thick cream which I like as pregnancy tends to make your skin feel drier than usual. Also I have been using this daily since I found out I was pregnant and I haven't had any stretch marks appear on my stomach yet so either this is a coincidence or Palmer's are making magic lotions. I like to think it is the latter.

Boots Baby Oil
I feel like borrowing your kid's baby oil is such a typical mum thing to do but there is no arguing with the results. I like to use a couple of drops of this in the bath alongside a bubble bath or rub it into damp skin when I am just getting out of the shower. Also it is perfect for sensitive skin since it is formulated specifically for babies so you know it'll be gentle on your skin.

Simple Light Moisturiser
I have been using this moisturiser since I was a teenager and it has never done me wrong. It has seen me through the worst teen spot breakouts and winters of dryness and now it is standing strong through the changes pregnancy are making to my skin. I find that my face tends to be quite oily - especially around my nose and chin - and pregnancy hasn't changed that. I also tend to get spots on my chin and on my cheeks quite a lot. I like that this moisturiser doesn't aggravate my spots because it is quite a delicate formula and, as it is a light moisturiser, it lets my skin breathe and doesn't clog up my pores. I would highly recommend this product to anyone with sensitive and/or oily skin.

Bubble T Bath Pearls
When I'm not stealing baby oil from bubba, I love using Bubble T's bath pearls. They are filled with oils so you just drop a couple into the bath and they pop open and release all the oily goodness into the tub. They smell amazing and they leave my skin feeling so smooth after a long soak. They recently started stocking these in Superdrug too so you should definitely check them out - they also do teabags that you put in the bath which I am yet to try but am intrigued by. 

Have you tried any of these products? What do you recommend?

Monday, 16 October 2017

We Moved To London!

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I recently moved from Devon to the big city of London. Just writing that seems slightly crazy to me. My husband had been wanting to live in London for a while now and things had always got in the way of that. First, I had to finish my degree in Cardiff. Then, just a couple of months before I was set to graduate, we found out that we were expecting. At that time, we thought that there was no way now that we would be able to follow that dream and live in London. I mean, babies don't really mix with the fast-paced, working flat out, heady excitement of the capital. But then we stopped and asked ourselves 'why not?'. So, here we are one week into our new lives living in Greenwich.

When we first got here, I didn't know what to expect. I felt quite anxious for the first few days - everything you see on the news and the worried comments made by loved ones about how you'll be murdered in your sleep get into your head more than you care to admit. Honestly, I haven't adjusted to this new lifestyle yet and there are times that I want to jump on a train and return to the quiet, slow-paced village life that I was accustomed to in Devon. 

It is definitely a big change but I have tried to focus on enjoying the little things. I have been walking a lot more and taking the buses to different areas nearby. I went to Greenwich Market and I browsed the stalls and bought myself a pulled pork toastie (mostly because it contained gherkins and mustard which the baby seems to love) and a cranberry and raspberry juice which I devoured sat beside a huge ship on the waterfront. The other evening, I travelled into Covent Garden where my husband was working and we walked around looking at the big lights and eating McFlurrys.

I feel like London is a whole other world. There is so much to do, so many people, so many different areas. It is intense. I can understand why people are desperate to exchange their London life for a more relaxed one in a leafy suburb in Kent. But I can also see why so many people are drawn to London. Some days I have woken up feeling excited to jump onto a bus and tour around the city sipping Starbucks coffees and pretending to be a tourist. Other days I wake up and the constant hum of traffic and people is too much and I start to dream of the life we had in the Lake District where you go walking in the mountains and dip into family run coffee shops and everybody knows everybody. But I think only time will tell if this is the right place for us. For now, I am focusing on enjoying everything London has to offer.

Would you ever live in London? Where would you say is the best place to live in the UK?
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