Monday, 8 February 2016

New Stationery For 2016

There are few things I love buying more than new pieces of stationery. I spend so much of my time working on my computer & looking at my phone but I actually much prefer writing everything down on paper. I find it quite therapeutic & it allows me to make notes freely without the confines of technology. I always used to look forward to buying new pads & pens in September ready for the next school year but nowadays I only really buy stationery at the start of the new calendar year. I've been struggling with self-motivation for the past few months but planning everything out in lists & diaries makes me feel a lot more organised and in control of my life.

One item that I buy every year & will continue to do so until they stop making them is a Frankie diary. I love absolutely everything about the way they're designed as the spreads illustrated by Sara Hingle are both beautiful & highly useful. The 2016 diary is bound in sunshine yellow cloth with grey debossed type. It comes in A5 size which fits perfectly on my desk & in my Sailor Moon backpack. As well as the spacious diary pages it also includes gift tags, tear-out forget-me-nots, sticker sheets, addresses, birthdays & a handy conversions page. You also get a pocket at the back for storing any extra stuff you need. Frankie Magazine is based in Australia so you have to import it & delivery can take a couple of weeks. I've never had any problems with customs though & it's well worth waiting for!

I started Slimming World back in September & have done pretty well so far! However one thing that I really disliked about starting was having to fill in those tiny little food diaries. There was hardly any room on the page for me to log my food properly. The concept is good as it forces you to be more mindful about what you're putting in your mouth but the design was impractical. So to ensure I continue to get some decent losses each week I decided to start a new food diary. I spent ages searching for a format that I liked & eventually I came across Lollipop Designs. I ordered their pastel weekly planner pad & it's utterly perfect as a Slimming World diary. It has six columns into which I enter my breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, water intake & syns. I also got their three good things notebook. I was mainly drawn to it because of the super cute heart design but it actually works as a great little positivity journal. It also inspired me to create a new series of blog posts focusing on three products within a certain theme so look out for that soon!

My wall calendar this year is a Slimming World one. I got this a few months ago as a freebie with their monthly magazine. Each month comes with a scrumptious seasonal recipe & I can't wait to give some of them a go! I've hung it in my kitchen for inspiration when cooking & to remind me to stay on plan when I can.

Self care is incredibly important for both your physical & mental health. If you're feeling stressed you need to make sure that you take the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Last year I went on several self-help courses & mindfulness was something that we often touched upon. One way of practicing mindfulness is colouring. It's an easy way to calm the mind & occupy the hands. The repetitive action of colouring in focuses the brain on the present, blocking out any intrusive thoughts. These kind of colouring books are everywhere at the minute & I decided to give them a try. I spotted a lightning deal on Amazon for these Art Of Mindfulness colouring books. I only paid £8 for all four books which was such a bargain! The paper stock is fairly good quality so my pens don't bleed through the pages & they feature a lovely range of illustrations. Chloe loves colouring too so we often do it together now!

I also bought some new pens & pencils to go with my new colouring books. I didn't want to use all of my fancy design pens just for colouring in (especially if Chloe's going to use them too!) so I ordered the Staedtler Triplus fineliner pens and the Staedtler Ergosoft triangular colouring pencils. Loads of people used these at uni as they're excellent quality & draw very smoothly. The pen colours are vibrant & smudgeproof. The pencils are richly coloured with soft, break-resistant lead. They're both colouring book & child friendly so I'd definitely recommend these if you're wanting to get into adult colouring books. Plus they come packaged in these really handy stand-up cases!

My obsession with washi tape is still going strong. You can decorate so many different things with them & they also look great when used as photo props. I'm always on the lookout for bold new colours & patterns. Of course I love anything sparkly so I recently ordered some rolls of glitter washi tape from eBay. They do loads of different colours but I went for gold, silver & pink glitter. They all look so pretty! I especially like using them when wrapping presents. Glitter may be the herpes of craft supplies but that's not an issue with these awesome glittery washi tapes!

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Thursday, 4 February 2016

January Favourites

BECCA Backlight Priming Filter
Strobing is probably the biggest makeup trend at the minute & I couldn't be any happier about it. I am obsessed with glowing skin & practically bathe in highlighter. It makes my face come alive & balances out a matte base. BECCA have truly mastered the highlighter with liquid, cream & powder versions of their incredible Shimmering Skin Perfectors but I've recently been loving their new Backlight Priming Filter. It's a radiance-boosting primer that really gives you that look of being 'lit from within'. It is fairly similar to their original liquid SSP in Moonstone but slightly thicker in texture which makes it a better base for makeup. The sheen this gives the skin is beautifully pearlescent, never glittery & neutral in tone. Used alone it actually balances it out my complexion & gives me that perfect healthy looking glow that only catwalk models seem to have. Often radiance primers can disappear once you apply foundation but this stuff is still clearly visible under light, medium & full coverage base products. It instantly perks up dull skin & provides the ultimate dewy canvas for the rest of your makeup.

Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel
My skin has been awfully dry lately thanks to a combination of cold weather & central heating. It was clear that I needed to make some minor adjustments to my skincare routine so I bought a couple of things to better nourish my skin. I normally use a cleansing oil followed by a gel cleanser twice a day but that's not really necessary in the morning. I decided to go back to using a balm cleanser & after avoiding the hype that follows this Oskia cleanser for so long I finally cracked. The Renaissance Cleansing Gel is enriched with pumpkin enzymes, vitamins A, C & E, starflower oil & MSM. This wonderful blend of ingredients gently exfoliates, restores & soothes providing all of the things that my skin was crying out for. The texture of this cleanser is unlike any other. It is dispensed as a pink gel, feels like balm, melts into the skin like an oil & then goes full circle, washing off with the ease of a gel cleanser. My skin is left feeling smooth, soft & hydrated without any residue. It also has a gorgeous rose scent that reminds me of Turkish Delight! I only wish I'd given in to the hype sooner.

Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate
The other item I bought to sort out my dry/dehydrated skin was the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate. I was in need of a new facial oil & considered repurchasing either Balance Me's Radiance Oil or Trilogy's Rosehip Oil. I also considered trying something new like Sarah Chapman's Morning Facial or Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate. In the end I had a look in my skincare stash & found a tiny vial of this stuff. It's been a long time since I've used any Liz Earle products but when I first started getting into skincare I ordered from them all the time & they always sent out little samples of this oil. My skin absolutely lapped it up so I splashed out on a big bottle because I preferred the pump packaging to the rollerball. The Superskin Concentrate features plenty of skin-friendly oils including avocado, rosehip, argan, lavender, hazelnut, neroli & chamomile plus vitamin E. Massaging this into the skin feels like such a treat. The natural scent is divine & helps send me off to sleep quicker. The oil is really nourishing & whenever I use it I wake up with bright, fresh & dewy looking skin. It's more of a night oil but I do sometimes mix it in with my moisturiser during the day if my skin really needs it. I just love how it feels on my skin & it's a great solution for a dull, dry complexion.

Benefit Gimme Brow in Medium/Deep
I put a lot of effort into maintaining & filling in my eyebrows. I'm definitely one of those annoying 'brows on fleek' people & want them to look as good as possible. I adore all of my Anastasia Beverly Hills products but I was drawn to this brow gel from Benefit because the tiny brush seemed ideal for defining the hairs at the front of my brows. It's easy to control & the formula is fairly dry so you don't end up splodging excess product all over the skin which does sometimes happen with the Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel. Just a few strokes deliver fuller, darker brows that still look natural. The water-resistant fibre gel adheres to the tiniest of hairs filling in gaps & keeping everything in place. It really beefs up the hairs so it'd be great for anyone with sparse brows. The Medium/Deep shade is a good match for me. It's cool-toned & not too dark so it doesn't make my brows look fake. It works well on it's own & also looks fab applied alongside my Anastasia products.

NYX Powder Blush in Taupe
I've been getting back into contouring this year & one contour product that I'd always wanted to try is NYX's Taupe blush. Often hailed as the quintessential contour colour for us pale girls, I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to purchase it. Although NYX is now stocked on FeelUnique & Boots I had to order it off eBay as NYX actually changed their powder blush formula. Apparently the HD version of this blush isn't quite as good as the original so I wanted to make sure I got the right one. Taupe is a matte cool-toned brown that mimics the appearance of a natural shadow. The pigment isn't too strong but that works to your advantage when contouring. It blends easily & you can build up the colour where you need to. It's a very flattering, natural shade that never looks muddy on the skin. The price is really affordable so I would recommend this product to contouring beginners & experts alike.

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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hello 2016!

A rather belated Happy New Year to you all! As January draws to a close I figured it was about time I made an appearance on here. I had intended on blogging weeks ago but sometimes life just gets in the way. Talking about makeup & clothes as per usual didn't feel right without doing this post first. So for me 2015 was a pretty crappy year overall. At the beginning of the year there was a lot of drama which resulted in me spending several months on self-help courses to deal with my anxiety & anger issues. I also spent some time in hospital to better diagnose my stomach problems. I felt very depressed & my weight ballooned which made it harder for me to carry on with blogging when I felt so low in myself. I'm trying my best to put self-loathing behind me so that I can get on with doing what I love. Obviously the lack of posts this month isn't great but I finally feel like I'm ready to go. Just like last year I've set myself five realistic goals instead of full on resolutions. Goals are more achievable than resolutions & I won't feel like a failure if there are any slight setbacks. Wish me luck!

Reach my target weight
Back in September I came to the realisation that I had put on quite a bit of weight. This was further cemented to me when a little shitbag at my nephew's birthday party called me 'fat lady'. I'd only gained about a stone & a half but that was enough to make me feel uncomfortable in my clothes. Every year I say I want to lose weight but this time I actually did something about it. I decided to join Slimming World & since September I have already lost one stone as well as earning my Club 10 award. I'm only 10lbs from target now & feel confident that I can get there in the next few months. I might even try to go that little bit further just so I can get my two stone award before returning to target. I've also been going to various exercise classes at the gym so hopefully I'll be getting a few body magic awards too!

Take better care of myself
My eating & exercise habits have certainly improved already but there are definitely other aspects of self-care where I don't put in as much effort. I've become quite lazy with my skincare routine lately. Terrible, I know! I haven't been wearing makeup very much so I often can't be bothered to wash my face at night. My skin has improved loads but it's important that I don't become complacent & carry on with my current skincare regime twice a day. I also stopped bothering with all my vitamins & supplements which definitely had a negative impact upon my hair, skin & nails. My immune system is completely shot at the minute & it seems like I get another cold every week. I've started taking all the pills & I already feel more like myself again. Some other things I plan on doing are more hair masks, more face masks, more manicures & more teeth whitening strips. It's those little things that make you feel so much better & we should all strive to do them more often.

Do a full KonMari-style home makeover
I love Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up & have also bought her latest guide to de-cluttering, Spark Joy. I've always been a bit of a hoarder so her books have been really helpful to me. I've already sorted through my wardrobe, cosmetics & toiletries but I want to carry on with tidying the rest of the house. When you're a parent you tend to accumulate so much extra clutter. There are toys everywhere in the living room & I've kept hold of all the artwork Chloe does at school. It's hard not to be sentimental about those kind of things but you have to draw a line somewhere. This year I plan to fully de-clutter my home using the KonMari method. Having a tidy home is really important to me but it's something I don't think I've ever managed to achieve! There's always a mess somewhere. With Marie Kondo's books by my side I'm positive that I can clear out all of the extra rubbish over the next few months. After all, a tidy house makes for a tidy mind.

Get a new job
The whole childcare situation didn't really get resolved last year so I didn't get a new job like I had hoped. At this point I'd be happy to just get a part-time retail job. It might not be related to graphic design but without proper childcare I don't think I'll ever get a full-time design position. Sad but true. Becoming a full-time blogger who accepts sponsored content is always very tempting but it's also quite lonely if you can't get to events in London & I miss being able to socialise with new people. I think it would also do wonders for my confidence & self-esteem. It's all too easy to sit in your pyjamas every day, bare-faced with your hair scraped back in a ponytail if you work from home but it's making me depressed & I need to do something about it.

Make a proper start with YouTube
I made some YouTube videos a few years ago but it was never something that I fully transitioned into. To be completely honest I hardly read blogs these days as I much prefer watching YouTube videos. It gets on my wick when bloggers don't show how products look on their faces so it can be hard to find informative reviews. It's much simpler to watch someone applying a product to their face in real time & hearing what they think about it. Although I do always make an effort to fully swatch makeup on both my arm & my face in blog photos I feel that videos often showcase products more accurately. They're a much better format for makeup tutorials so I plan on making a real go of it this year & will get a few videos filmed very soon. Of course I plan to carry on with blogging & aim to write at least 100 posts this year. It's coming up to my blog's 6th anniversary soon so I really appreciate all of you who still read my posts & continue to enjoy the content I put out. I plan on doing a giveaway to celebrate as I'm also nearing 5000 followers & want to properly say thank you. So here's to 2016! Let's hope it's a good'un!

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