Monday, 29 January 2018

The Cruelty Free Makeup Brushes You Need In Your Life Right Now

The first makeup brush I ever owned was a Real Techniques brush. From the first use, I was hooked. I had previously been applying foundation (and powder somehow!) with my fingers. I was amazed by the coverage I could get with a brush and how evenly it went on.

Soon after that, the brush section decided to fully detach itself from the handle and this led me to discover Eco Tools as I tried to replace it. Despite how much I loved Real Techniques, the fact that it broke so easily - and so soon after I had bought it - put me off repurchasing and I was keen to try a brush that was better for the environment. I absolutely loved the powder brush by Eco Tools but that is the only brush in their collection that I was fully sold on.

So, desperate to find a decent application tool, I branched out into beauty blenders. And I was impressed. I felt airbrushed and my base was completely streak free. The only slight issue I had was with my eyes. I couldn't manage to get even coverage around my eyes and the bridge of my nose.

That is when I was saved. And this hero comes in the form of a vegan, cruelty free brush collection from a brand called Nanshy. Their brushes applied my base just as evenly as the Real Techniques brush had but they are definitely more sturdy. But the best part of the collection was definitely the concealer brush*. The density of the brush is perfect and it is just the right size and shape to get into all the nooks and crannies around my eyes that the beauty blender just couldn't reach.

I am absolutely sold on these brushes. Although I still use a beauty blender for my foundation and the Eco Tools brush for the powder, I have incorporated these brushes into my daily routine for everything else. I use the foundation brush* to apply my primer as it helps to spread it evenly across every area of my face. I use the concealer brush* for - you guessed it - my concealer and I love how it is able to reach into the places the beauty blender wouldn't be able to. I also use that brush to touch up my foundation around those areas too. I also love the contouring brush* as the angle helps you to get a really sharp edge on your contour.

The only brush in the collection I am not completely sold on is the stippling brush. I find the brush density a little sparse - I like a thick brush - and it doesn't leave my base as even as I would like. But I can absolutely rave about the concealer brush which is incredible and I will never part with it.

You can shop the full collection here

Have you tried anything by Nanshy?

Thursday, 25 January 2018

My Must-See Destinations of 2018*

When I was growing up, the destinations we used to travel to as a family were always quite local. I have amazing memories of caravan holidays in Cornwall or camping in North Devon. But I also vowed that when I was older, I would travel the world. I wanted to see Turkey and Egypt and all of the other countries that my classmates would tell me about. I wanted to be the girl who came back from the West Indies with a tan and a single bright pink braid in her fringe.

Now I am older  - and I have a passport - but I still haven't made it out of the country more than a handful of times. This is the year I want to change that. My main resolution for 2018 is that I want to travel more. Over the next 12 months, I want to board as many planes as humanly possible.

So, I decided to draw up a little bucket list of the main destinations I would absolutely love to make it to this year.

This may seem like an unusual destination to aspire to visit but the sheer fact that Eastern Europe is often left off of people's travel bucket lists makes me interested in what it has to offer. I have seen countless pictures of places like Australia but Eastern European countries still remain quite mysterious to me. I wouldn't know what to expect and that is what makes it so exciting. I would love to visit Warsaw and explore all the historical buildings and immerse myself in a culture very different to that of the UK.

A little while ago, I made friends online with someone living in Antigua and, based on everything they would tell me about the island, it seemed like an absolute idyll. I have never visited a hot country so I would love a week in the sun just kicking back, sipping on cocktails, tasting local cuisine, and dancing the night away.

Anyone who follows the lovely Amy on Instagram will understand why Iceland is on my bucket list. Her feed is full of beautiful pictures of the Artic and it has inspired me to want to see the Northern Lights for myself. Despite the fact that I am not the best in cold weather (and neither is my husband - and especially not my baby girl), it is a location that would be unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Koh Samui
Whilst browsing the Destination 2 website, I came across a page entitled Holidays in Koh Samui. I had never heard of Koh Samui so I was interested to find out more about it. What I discovered is that it is Thailand's third largest island, it has a strong sense of cultural identity and spirituality, and that I wanted to visit there. As someone who would class themselves as religious, I am always interested in learning more about other religious and the ways in which spirituality is a part of other cultures. There are many religious monuments and temples on the island which I would be interested in visiting as well as other exciting opportunities such as snorkelling with sea turtles. I mean, who doesn't want to snorkel with sea turtles?!

It was my good friend, and fellow blogger, Miriam who inspired this next choice. She recently went on a round-the-world trip which included a visit to Japan. Japan looks like such a culturally and historically rich country as well as having beautiful landscapes. I would be really interested in learning more about its history as well as trying some exciting new foods.

Where would your ideal holiday destination be?

Friday, 19 January 2018

I'm Not Bothered About My Baby Weight

Admittedly, the title of this post is a lie. But it is a statement that I want to be true. I don't want how much baby weight I gained to be something that I focus on. I mean, I have a new baby - I have far more important things to worry about than the circumference of my thighs or how many weeks it takes for me to fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans (they were a size 8 so weeks probably isn't the best measure of judgement - years or even decades may be more realistic).

I feel like there is so much pressure piled onto new mums. Everyone has an opinion on everything. I know this especially well because I am committing three of the worst mothering sins (apparently). I top my kid up with formula (surprise, breast isn't always best if it can't satisfy your baby's needs), I settle her with a dummy, and we co-sleep. I know, I am like a modern day supervillain. But baby weight - and how long it takes you to lose it - is a whole other level of pressure. And I hate it. Even though I try not to, I find myself comparing my body to that of other mothers. I look at the pics of Kate Middleton leaving the hospital looking radiant. When I left hospital, my hair was so knotted that it had just tangled itself into one solid mass that stuck up on my head. Not so radiant. I lap up the headlines about how long it took so-and-so to lose their baby weight. I find myself trawling through mothering websites reading other women's experiences with weight loss. I try not to think of the calories. I tell myself that I need extra for breastfeeding. I avoid old pictures of myself at all costs else I fall down the 'look how flat my stomach used to be' rabbit hole of self-doubt.

But I need to cut myself some slack. We all do. I'll never get this time again and I don't want to waste it by spending it looking in the mirror and squidging my wobbly bits critically. Who cares if I have a jelly belly anyway? Ava doesn't. She likes to dig her little toes into it when I'm holding her. As a new mum, it shouldn't matter if I have a bit of baby puke on my top or if my hair looks like a sparrow has dropped its nest on my head.

Sometimes it is nice to dress up fancy and put on a bit of eyeliner. I find that it makes me feel a bit more like myself again. And maybe returning to the gym is what makes you feel more like yourself. If so, good on you. Go out and do it. But women shouldn't feel pressured into trying to meet everyone else's expectations. Looking after a newborn is tiring enough without adding a strict count of 10,000 steps into the mix as well. If you don't feel like putting on makeup then don't bother. Go cuddle with bubba instead. You are a 'yummy mummy' with or without the concealer on your eyebags.

At the end of the day, motherhood is hard enough without putting extra pressure on yourself. I am learning to accept how my body has changed and embrace all of it.

Boots - Primark (similar)
Skirt - Topshop (here)
Jacket - Topshop (similar)
Scarf - Primark (similar)
Top - Primark (similar)

Monday, 8 January 2018

Looking Back On 2017

I would describe 2017 as 'the year I had to grow up'. It is the year I graduated from university, moved in with my husband, fell pregnant, and gave birth to my first born child. I know, I really managed to pack a lot of big life things into 12 months. I feel like I am leaving this year very different to the person I was back in January and I am excited for what 2018 has to offer.

The year started with me living in Ambleside, Lake District with my husband. This was during the Christmas holidays which stretched from the start of December to the end of January. We both worked at the same restaurant and spent most of our spare time going on long walks in the mountains together and drinking lots of hot chocolate in cafes. This was a beautiful start to the year. We also took a trip up to Edinburgh to celebrate our two year anniversary.

This month I returned to Cardiff for university and I struggled being apart from Isaac but I pushed myself to continue and finish the course. I went back to Ambleside for a week towards the end of the month to visit Isaac and to have a belated Valentine's Day.
The month started with Isaac's birthday and he came to Cardiff to celebrate it - and to move in! Soon after we discovered that I was pregnant. I didn't believe it at first (even after taking multiple pregnancy tests) but after a few weeks, I realised that the test definitely were correct.

This was a month of orange juice cravings and food aversions. I lived off of toast, salty chips, and fizzy gummy sweets. I continued to work at my job in a fried chicken shop which was working nights so that mixed with university in the day and pregnancy made me one tired girl.

This was my birthday month and finals month. I handed in my last ever uni assignments and we went on a family holiday with my parents and siblings to North Devon. Despite the fact that I still hadn't told my family that I was pregnant and I spent most of the time trying to hide it, it was a lovely time and the perfect celebration of turning 21.

This month we found out that we were expecting a girl. I also got my exam results back and attended my graduation ceremony. I felt really proud of myself for completing my course and for overcoming everything I had been through in those three years although I didn't quite get the grade I was hoping for. This was also the month we moved back to my parents' house in Devon.

This month was a relaxed one. We remained in Devon together at my parents' and went on lots of walks in the countryside. I craved McDonald's a lot and everything banana flavoured.

I spent most of this month in the bath - and we were still at my parents' house. We went to the beach a lot and explored the local area. We were also viewing house after house trying to find somewhere to move to.

This month, we decided to move to London. We wanted to experience something new and exciting - which it definitely would be after these months in the village. I also put a lot more work into my blog and Instagram. I wrote one post that I was especially proud of. And I got an infection and felt like I was about to die.

We made the move to Blackheath, London and I spent most of the time exploring Greenwich as well as Covent Garden where Isaac was working. I had a uni friend visit me which was lovely and I enjoyed the variety that London had to offer - although I was so heavily pregnant that leaving the house was an accomplishment in itself. By this point, I was very much ready for the baby to be born.

This is the month that Ava was born and a subsequent 5 days spent in the luxury of Lewisham Hospital. This month was full of changes and challenges but also was amazing to finally have Ava with us.

We decided to move back to Devon and were able to find a flat to spend Christmas together as a family of three. I also got to meet Isaac's family who came over to see Ava and celebrate the holidays with us.

I ordered the prints in the first picture from Printiki*. They print off the pictures you send them and it is very cheap and easy to do so. I absolutely love having physical copies of photos to hang up on the wall or display on my desk. Definitely worth checking out and I will be ordering more from them as I get more pictures of Ava as she grows up. I may even go the whole hog and get a photo album to put them all in. You can get free shipping with this code: N7E4W2Z4.

What did your 2017 look like?
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