Thursday, 23 May 2019

Ways To Take Your Blogging Game To The Next Level

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When you first start a blog or if you're thinking about starting one, you don't always know what to expect. Although blogging has been around for some time now, when you're a newbie you often feel unsure of what you're doing. As long as you're enjoying creating your content, that's all that really matters. When you put in the hard work, your blog will begin to grow organically & opportunities will start to flood your inbox. If things are going really well you might consider turning your blog into a business instead of a hobby. Taking your blog as a serious business can actually be a lot of fun & it doesn't have to be a big deal or a lot of pressure. Sometimes you think that in order to take things to the next level, you have to put in a lot more time & effort. However you can continue to do it with the same passion & enthusiasm as you are now, just with a few simple changes to get some incredible results.

It's important to remember to work smarter, not always harder. That's quite often the difference between blogging for fun & blogging as a business or earning money from your blog. Most of the time, you can still put in the same amount of work (or perhaps a little more) but notice that the results you're getting are just infinitely better. When you've been blogging for a while you naturally become more knowledgeable & have a lot more experience in order to propel your blog to the next level. Blogging is an ever changing industry so there's always new things to learn & new ways to improve your results. Here are a few handy hints to help you to develop your blog & achieve professional success.

Set Goals For Yourself
Setting goals gives you a clear purpose of why you're doing this & what you want to achieve. I'd highly recommend coming up with a set of goals for blogging because they give you a reason to keep going when you feel like giving up. You can always go back to your goals & remember why you started blogging in the first place. Goals hold us accountable, especially if we share them with others. You might have a huge goal to strive towards like earning enough money to give up your regular job or it might be something much smaller like being able to pay for your weekly food shop using your blogging income. Come up with a positive statement or mantra & use this as motivation.

Create A Better Brand
Something that a lot of new bloggers often overlook is that you need to think about creating a brand for your blog. What is your blogging niche? Do you want to provide the best makeup swatches or inspire people with your stylish outfits? Do you like sharing delicious recipes or documenting the lives of your children? There's nothing wrong with being an all-rounder but there are some clear benefits to having a distinct topic for your blog. You can target specific clients & show them that you're a specialist in that subject. Plus you'll only be writing about stuff you love which makes the whole process so much easier. Also think about how the way your blog looks represents your niche. You might decide to use different styles of photography for each subject. Colours, fonts, imagery - all of it matters.

Redesign The Blog
To help you make sure that you're creating the brand that you want & bring it to life, you could also think about redesigning the blog. Sometimes your old blog design might not look all that professional, nor does it suit your niche or what you're trying to achieve. You may find that you can improve your blog design to better suit your brand. When you do this, you'll feel so much more professional because of it. There's plenty of wonderful designs on Etsy that you can customise to your heart's desire or you might commission a web designer to make you something truly unique. If your blog looks good, it'll showcase your content in the way that it deserves.

Come Up With A Marketing Plan
Next you'll want to make sure that you have a plan for your marketing. This can seem quite daunting as there are so many different areas to focus on. When it comes to your social media, you'll want to be strategic about it. Make sure you post regularly, even if you don't have new blog content to share. Tag brands that you've featured on your blog because this can be a great way to find new contacts. Try to include SEO in all of your posts. Simple things like adding alt tags to your images & correctly naming your photos can make a huge difference. You may also want to start a newsletter to further interact with the people that love your blog. You can offer something in exchange for their subscription such as a free E-Book or some Photoshop Actions for them to download.

Get Your Name Out There
If you want your blog to be able to grow, it needs to be known. In order to be successful, it's important to get your name out there into the world. Brands won't offer you any opportunities if they don't know that you exist. So as you're coming up with your marketing ideas, make sure that you know how you're going to deal with your own online reputation management or get help with it. You can do this with social media but there are other PR tactics to consider too & that's why it might be a good idea to enlist the help of an expert.

Work With Experts
As blogs become bigger businesses, many people have started to hire others to help them out. If you become really successful you might want to hire an assistant to go through your emails or edit your photos. Not many people are quite at that level yet but you might still want to think about working with experts to help you grow your blog. This could be a graphic designer, a web developer, a marketing consultant or even an accountant, to help you with all the behind the scenes stuff. That way you can carry on creating content without being bogged down with the finer details.

Monetise In New Ways
When it comes to levelling up, you'll definitely want to think about how you can make more money. To do this, you need to consider diversifying the ways in which you do it. Are you using affiliate links, advertising or sponsored posts? If not, can you use all three to take your earnings up a notch? Personally I've found the most success from sponsored posts & affiliate links. Most of the time brands approach me for sponsored posts but I've recently started sending out pitches & it's not as scary as it sounds. Choose some brands that you love or are planning to feature on your blog anyway & ask them if they would be interested in working with you. Make your pitch personal to the client & explain what you can bring to table. Give them examples of your best work & tell them about your experience. Include some of your personality & finish with a subtle call to action. An easier way to do this would be to create a media kit with your stats & rates. It'll make you look really professional to boot!

Take On Freelance Work
One of the ways that many bloggers earn money is by offering freelance services. You might think that you can only make money from the blog itself but you can also use your skills & experience to find other work. This is where the idea of being a freelance writer can come in. You can write for businesses or media outlets & these often tend to pay better than sponsored blog content. Another thing to consider is registering for freelance job boards such as PeoplePerHour, UpWork or Fiverr. They might only be small jobs but they can certainly set you on the right path when it comes to making connections, building your portfolio & getting references. You never know, a client might really like your work & hire you for a much bigger project.

Create A Product
Another idea for you here is to launch a product. This could work in one of two ways. You could think about downloadables such as E-Books, online courses or design services. Some people are willing to pay a lot of money for your photo editing secrets. But another thing to consider is making merchandise. A lot of YouTubers come out with merch but there's nothing to stop bloggers from doing it too. Maybe you like the idea of creating t-shirts or notebooks or anything else related to your niche? I'd love to design a set of enamel pins based around makeup or skincare products. Let me know if you'd be interested in buying some haha!

Write A Book
Now this may not be the case for you but if you love blogging because you really love to write, then maybe you've always wanted to write your own book. If this is the case, you may find that you're actually put off from doing it because it feels like such a distant dream. But as you're building your blog, & essentially your online presence, you may find that it's the perfect time for you to think about writing that book. While you will need to actually get to writing, find yourself an agent & aim to get published. You could even publish it yourself via Amazon as the Kindle book market is growing all the time. There are so many bloggers, YouTubers & even Instagram influencers that have come out with books now so there's no reason why you can't write one yourself.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask

Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask
Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask Powder
Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask* - £23

Face masks will always be the most fun way to treat your skin at home. I really enjoy trying them out, especially when they're as unique as this one. Not only does this mask come in powder form, you get to peel it off your face! The Algae Peel-Off Mask from Ultrasonic Beauty is designed to tighten & lift your skin. It is suitable for all skin types but has been specially formulated to treat tired, mature skin that has started to show visible signs of aging. This mask would be great for anyone with dry, dehydrated skin, wrinkles, loose skin, signs of fatigue or enlarged pores. It can also be used to soothe the skin after professional cosmetic procedures. I'm only 30 but sadly I have to admit that my face has already started to look puffier & saggier than before so I was rather keen to slap it on my skin & get peeling!

Inside the tub you get 200g of powder which you mix with water to create the peel-off mask. You only need to use a little bit each time so there's enough in here for several applications. The only other powdered mask I've tried is the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay which I mix with apple cider vinegar to create a supercharged clay mask that will eliminate all impurities from deep within your pores. Mixing masks up yourself can be a bit messy but it's also kinda enjoyable. Much like the Aztec Secret mask, this one has a very short ingredient list but it's packed full of nutrients to rejuvenate the skin. As the name suggests, the star ingredient here is algae in the form of spirulina. This blue-green algae is an extremely rich natural source of essential vitamins (A, B1, B2, B12, D, E, K) & minerals including zinc, sodium, calcium, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium & magnesium. When used topically spirulina intensively moisturises, reduces inflammation, tones the skin & encourages cell turnover to promote a more youthful looking complexion. As well as your face, this mask can be applied to the neck & décolletage so that they can also benefit from the firming & lifting properties. We often neglect these areas when using skincare products but they tend to be some of the biggest telltale signs of age, since the skin on our chest area is very thin & sensitive.

Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask Mix
Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask Applied
Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask Peeled

The instructions recommend using 2-3 tablespoons of the powder mixed with water to create a thick paste. However they don't tell you how much water to use. Personally I found that a 1:2 mixture of powder to water worked best. It kinda looked like thick green glacé icing once I found the right consistency. Another thing to bear in mind is how much of the mask to apply to your face. If you put too much on, it'll take forever to dry down. If your application is too thin, the mask will crack & won't actually peel off your skin. You want a nice even layer of product to truly benefit from the mask & make it easy to remove. The amount I tested on my hand was perfect & peeled off in huge chunks so I knew exactly how much to use on my face & neck. The wet mask mixture feels extremely cooling & refreshing on the skin. About 20 minutes after application, the mask will harden to a rubbery finish providing an instant lifting & firming effect. It doesn't feel tight on the skin like a clay mask but I definitely noticed that firming sensation. I then peeled the mask off starting from the bottom first.

As long as your application was decent, the mask is fairly easy to remove. It comes off in chunks rather than one huge piece but it's still really satisfying to peel it off your skin. There was a powdery line around my face where the edge of the mask had been but this is easily removed with a flannel & some water. After peeling off the mask you're left with super fresh, well hydrated skin that looks visibly lifted. It also leaves the skin feeling much softer & gives it such a healthy looking glow. The algae mask almost acts as a skin serum, helping to regulate the acid mantle. This increases elasticity & improves skin tone. It helps to smooth out fine lines & soothe irritation, minimising pores & imperfections. In terms of results it's very much like a sheet mask. You'll notice an immediate difference to your skin but the effects aren't particularly long lasting. Overall, I was really impressed with the Ultrasonic Beauty Algae Peel-Off Mask. I was amazed at how quickly it had de-puffed my skin & brightened up my complexion. It does a brilliant job at making the skin feel firmer & more hydrated whilst also minimising the appearance of pores. This mask is definitely worth checking out if you want younger looking skin without resorting to cosmetic procedures!

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

April Favourites

Josh Wood Colour Renewing Shampoo For Brunette Hair Prone To Frizz
When I dyed my hair back to brown, I needed to get some new products to help maintain the colour. Being brunette is much lower maintenance than platinum blonde but when you use a darker dye over bleached hair, the blonde bits will inevitably start peeking through over time. Using the wrong kind of shampoo & conditioner can make the colour fade even quicker. To keep these chocolate tones looking fresh I picked up some of the Josh Wood Colour products specifically for brunette hair. They contain advanced UV filters to prevent fade as well as saffron & turmeric to keep brunette hair looking glossy & vibrant. The shampoo & conditioner for brunette hair prone to frizz are a dreamy duo that have made my hair look healthier than ever before. They make my hair feel really clean & soft whilst keeping frizz in check. I love how gloriously shiny my hair looks & I'll definitely be picking up some new bottles this week as I've just ran out!

Soap & Glory Bubble In Paradise Refreshing Body Wash
Soap & Glory make some fabulous shower gels with utterly gorgeous scents. I normally go for their Sugar Crush Body Wash because I love the fresh citrusy notes but a couple of months ago I couldn't find it in any Boots store for some reason. In it's absence I decided to try their Bubble In Paradise Body Wash. This product is part of their Call Of Fruity scented range which is their exotic new fragrance with mango, papaya & coconut. It's such a lovely tropical scent that completely fills the bathroom. The formula is really creamy & feels moisturising on the skin. It lathers up well so you only need to use a tiny amount & having a shower with this beaut body wash is a great way to start your day.

Maybelline Dream Urban Cover Foundation
IT Cosmetics are so annoying. They've made one of the most gorgeous looking foundations of all time & yet they refuse to fully expand the shade range. 12 shades is nowhere near comprehensive enough & when drugstore brands like Revolution manage to bring out 50 shades of foundation, it just makes IT Cosmetics seem like they don't care. So when I heard rumours that Maybelline's latest foundation was a dupe for the Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream, I went out & bought it immediately. Maybelline are yet another drugstore brand who have a very inclusive range of foundation colours & 100 Warm Ivory is a perfect match for me. I use their Fit Me Matte & Poreless Foundation in the same colour so I knew it would be a safe choice. The foundation has quite a liquidy formula & it feels very lightweight on the skin but it still delivers in terms of coverage. I wouldn't say it's as full coverage as they claim but it certainly does a excellent job of concealing any redness & hiding the vast majority of my skin imperfections. I love the healthy natural looking radiance it gives to my skin & the smooth satin finish. The foundation provides SPF 50 & is enriched with antioxidants to protect against pollution. This is definitely my base product of choice for this Summer. The extra sun protection is always welcome & it lasts all day long on my skin. I don't think it's a perfect dupe for the IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream because it's not as moisturising & gives more coverage but it's still a brilliant foundation.

Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturiser
I used to be really obsessed with Origins skincare products but I kinda fell out of love with them as newer brands such as The Ordinary began to emerge. One product I always meant to try is their GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturiser & I recently got this little sample bottle from a beauty box. I'm a big fan of gel formulas because they work really well for oily/combination skin types. The lightweight formula provides just the right amount of hydration & sinks in really quickly so you can get on with applying your makeup. It has a gorgeous orange sherbet scent which makes it a joy to use. If your skin is looking a little tired then I'd definitely recommend trying this moisturiser. It's fortified with panax ginseng & coffee bean to instantly energise the skin giving you a healthy looking, vibrant glow. It really perks me up in the morning & has an immediate effect on the brightness of my complexion. I never looked this good without makeup until I tried this moisturiser. For super soft radiant skin, Origins GinZing is a wonderful product.

Nu Skin Nu Colour LightShine Lip Plumping Balm in Pink Tinge
I still haven't 100% decided if I want to get lip fillers or not. I've found a fantastic aesthetic practitioner to perform the procedure but I'm just worried it won't look right on my face. Until I fully make my mind up I've been trying out different lip plumping products to achieve a similar but less permanent effect. One of my favourite products I've discovered is this Lip Plumping Balm from Nu Skin. This lip balm feels silky & deeply moisturising on the lips. Rose hip oil is one of the main ingredients so it's rich in fatty acids. These fatty acids help the lip balm to improve the elasticity & moisture levels of the skin whilst giving your lips a full & even glow. There is a slight tingle when applying the lip balm because it contains menthol which improves blood circulation. It doesn't quite give you Kylie Jenner lips but it adds a more natural plumpness. This makes it a great base for lipsticks because it gives your lips a smoother appearance, so anything you put on top will be less likely to sink into fine lines. It also looks really pretty used by itself because it tints your lips with a soft baby pink hue.

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Thursday, 28 March 2019

Brunette Bombshell

Brunette Lob
Brunette Hair
Dark Chocolate Melt Hair

Having spent the last decade as a blonde, this year I decided that it was finally time to rejoin the dark side. Personally I think I look a lot prettier as a blonde & I loved being able to use pinks, purples or silvers to change it up whenever I got a bit bored. But when your hair is naturally as dark as mine, there are so many downsides to being platinum blonde. I hated the upkeep as my hair would only look good for a matter of weeks before I needed my roots done again. Sitting in a hairdresser's chair for over five hours was beyond annoying. Olaplex wasn't a thing when I first started getting my hair bleached so I've had to put up with ridiculous amounts of damage, breakage & chemical burns. My hair would never grow past a certain length because the ends would always look like straw & require cutting. Not to mention constantly staining the bathtub purple with toning shampoos! Basically it was a lot of work & although I did love the look, I've gotten to the point in my life where it became way too much effort. I wanted something super low maintenance that would cut my hairdresser trips down to the bare minimum.

That's how I ended up with this delicious dark chocolate melt! I went to Niché Salon in Huddersfield where Michelle gave me a rich all over colour with some free hand ombré for perfect subtle tones. It's a lot darker & warmer than my natural colour but I love it. I've had to change up my makeup a bit & go HAM on the bronzer most days because I can look a bit too goth without that warmth in my face. I think I need to get some new brow products though because ABH Medium Brown is a little too light & ashy for my current hair colour. Michelle also cut my hair into a blunt lob with some shorter pieces at the front to frame my face. I wanted more of a Bardot fringe but maybe I'll save that for next time. At least she cut off most of the blonde so my hair feels really thick & healthy for the first time in years. Anyway I'm really happy with my new low maintenance hairdo. I'm sure some people won't recognise me as I almost look like an entirely different person! Maybe that's a good thing?

Josh Wood Colour Renewing Shampoo Conditioner Brunette Hair

Of course, new hair requires new haircare! I always used purple shampoos & deep conditioning masks to maintain my blonde locks but brunette hair comes with a completely new set of challenges. As my hair is no longer dried out from all the bleach I have to wash it a lot more often to avoid looking like a grease bomb. But washing your hair all the time can mean that your colour fades a lot faster. There's still a little bit of blonde towards the ends so I don't want it the brown to fade & look brassy. There are quite a few products marketed specifically towards brunettes out there but a lot of them have really bad reviews. I spotted these Josh Wood Colour products in Boots & having checked the reviews on their website, they seemed like the best option. I decided to pick up the Renewing Shampoo & Conditioner For Brunette Hair Prone To Frizz (£10 each). They also do a shampoo & conditioner for fine brunette hair. I went for the frizzy one because my hair is feeling a lot thicker these days. I also like my hair to look really sleek & polished.

The Renewing Shampoo & Conditioner have been specially formulated with shade-specific ingredients to leave your brunette hair feeling clean, radiant & lustrous. They are suitable for all brunette shades because they're not colour depositing products. This means that they won't make your hair any darker but they will keep your colour looking fresh. They also won't stain your bathtub! The products contain advanced UV filters to prevent fade as well as saffron & turmeric to keep your hair looking glossy & vibrant. They have a slight herbal scent which won't be to some people's taste but I quite like it. I really love these products because they make my hair feel so clean & impart such a beautiful shine. They keep my hair feeling velvety soft & have definitely helped to lock in the colour. You get a professional finish at home & that's exactly what I wanted!

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Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Annabelle Minerals

Annabelle Minerals

When I first started getting into makeup as a teenager I found myself rather intimidated by the thought of using a liquid foundation. Somehow it seemed so grown up & way too heavy for my young skin. For one of my first attempts to cover up the abundance of spots on my face, my mum bought me a compact of MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation as powders seemed like an easier alternative. However I soon found that MAC foundations only made my skin worse, whether that was because something in them broke me out or I just wasn't removing it well enough I'll never know. So I started to look into mineral foundations because the natural ingredients are supposed to be better for your skin & provide coverage without clogging pores. I used Lily Lolo & Bare Minerals products for quite some time but I think I eventually stopped wearing them because they always ended up looking a bit too powdery on the skin. In more recent years I have purchased the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder & still use the discontinued pressed version to freshen up throughout the day. But these days I almost always reach for a liquid foundation. Most major beauty brands don't do mineral foundations & I think we've all become so accustomed to watching YouTubers apply liquid foundation with a BeautyBlender that most us of probably don't even consider using mineral makeup anymore.

Annabelle Minerals recently sent me some of their products to try out & since then I've been having a bit of a mineral powder renaissance. I think when you stop using mineral makeup you forget just how good it can be & I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with these products. Annabelle Minerals are a Polish cosmetic company who have just launched in the UK & as such it can be difficult to find reviews written in English. The power of mineral makeup comes from their ingredients. They formulate products containing only four mineral ingredients - mica for illumination, zinc oxide to mattify & treat minor blemishes, titanium dioxide for good coverage & sun protection as well as iron oxides to give them colour. This combination of ingredients helps to perfect your base without skin irritants such as parabens, talcs, artificial colouring, silicones or preservatives. Their products are also vegan & cruelty-free.

Annabelle Minerals Face Powders
Annabelle Minerals Coverage Foundation Sunny Fairest, Mineral Blush Nude, Radiant Powder Pretty Glow
Annabelle Minerals Coverage Foundation Sunny Fairest, Mineral Blush Nude, Radiant Powder Pretty Glow Swatch
Annabelle Minerals Packaging

I received three base products from Annabelle Minerals. These are the Coverage Foundation in Sunny Fairest, the Mineral Blush in Nude & the Radiant Powder in Pretty Glow. All of their base products are packaged in a durable plastic pot that comes with a moveable sifter to prevent spillage. In each pot you get 4g of product, which doesn't sound like much but is actually a really decent amount. They also have 10g pots of the foundation available to purchase if you want it to last even longer.

Annabelle Minerals Coverage Foundation Sunny Fairest
Annabelle Minerals Coverage Foundation Sunny Fairest

Let's start with the foundation. Annabelle Minerals have created mineral foundations with three finishes to suit all skin types - Coverage, Matte or Radiant. There are 22 shades to choose from with four different undertones. Unfortunately the colour range doesn't go very deep but I do appreciate the amount of undertones. I have a pale yellow undertone so I knew that I would be best matched to one of the Sunny range. Sunny shades were designed for women with warm undertones. They have strong notes of lemon yellow with distinct hints of gold. I received the Coverage Foundation in Sunny Fairest (£11.75) which is ideal for women with a very fair, warm toned complexion dominated by pastel yellow & white hues. At first the powder looked almost Simpsons yellow but it actually suits my skintone really well. For reference I wear NARS Siberia or MAC NC10.

The Coverage Foundation comes with an increased amount of titanium dioxide to fully conceal any discolouration, redness & skin imperfections. This also means that it gives you UVA/UVB protection with SPF 15. The formula is meant to provide full coverage & is suitable for most skin types, even those with dry skin. If you haven't tried a mineral foundation before, they are so easy to use. You just pour some of the product onto the lid, swirl your brush into the powder, tap off the excess & buff it onto the skin. The foundation looks best a few minutes after application, when the minerals have had enough time to melt into your skin. Unlike some mineral foundations, it's not drying at all & it doesn't look powdery. When I first applied this foundation I was amazed by how well it covers. Although I have a yellow undertone, I do have some surface redness in my face & this stuff immediately balances out my complexion.

The coverage is buildable without looking cakey or like a mask. When I use this foundation I don't have to use any concealer at all. I just use a smaller kabuki brush to concentrate the foundation in the areas that need a little more attention. The result is very natural looking with a subtle luminosity. The foundation feels really lightweight & comfortable to wear. It seems to smooth over my pores & doesn't gather in fine lines. I was surprised by how long it lasts on my skin. I have combination skin with an oily T-zone & it only starts to break down around my nose after about 8 hours of wear. My forehead gets a little shiny too but otherwise, it looks pretty flawless after a full day. I love the way it looks on my skin so I'd definitely recommend this mineral foundation!

Annabelle Minerals Mineral Blush Nude
Annabelle Minerals Mineral Blush Nude

When I first saw the Mineral Blush in Nude (£12.50) in the pot, I wasn't too impressed with the colour. It just looked really boring at first but as soon as I swatched it on my arm I fell in love. Blending it out on the skin transformed it from this almost brown looking powder to a fresh pretty pink. I love the colour so much & it looks absolutely beautiful on the skin. It features delicate pearl particles to illuminate & even out your cheeks. The blusher is very buildable & it gives such a natural flush of colour. I think it makes my cheeks look bright, perky & youthful which is certainly a welcome feature now that I'm in my 30s!

Annabelle Minerals Radiant Powder Pretty Glow
Annabelle Minerals Radiant Powder Pretty Glow

The Radiant Powder in Pretty Glow (£17) is such a lovely way to set your makeup. Although it looks fairly pigmented in my swatch, it becomes transparent when blended over your foundation. The Radiant Powder doesn't provide any additional coverage or alter the colour of the foundation at all. It simply imparts a luminous glow which makes the skin look fresh & well rested. I still felt the need to use my regular highlighter on top to make my skin extra glowy but I really like this finishing powder. It would be ideal for dull, tired complexions with fine wrinkles. I love the way that it almost airbrushes the skin for a naturally flawless finish.

Annabelle Minerals Eyeshadow Lollipop, Lilac, Cappuccino
Annabelle Minerals Eyeshadow Lollipop, Lilac, Cappuccino
Annabelle Minerals Eyeshadow Lollipop, Lilac, Cappuccino Swatch
Annabelle Minerals Purple Eyeshadow

Annabelle Minerals have some truly lovely mineral eyeshadows. Some of the colours are so stunning & as soon as I saw these pretty purple shades on their website I knew they would fill the lilac coloured hole in my makeup collection. Here we have Lollipop, Lilac & Cappuccino (£9.75 each). My absolute favourite has to be Lilac, it's such a fun pastel purple shade & it's really pigmented too. I used it all over my lids for a bright pop of colour & it looks utterly gorgeous. Lollipop is a much lighter & sheerer pastel violet so I wouldn't use it on it's own. In this makeup look I used it to highlight the inner corners & my brow bone, the effect is quite subtle but very sweet. I was surprised by how much I liked the Cappuccino shade, it's a staple coffee brown colour that naturally enhances your eyes. I think I'll probably get the most use out of this colour because it's a great eyeshadow for everyday wear. Here I used it mixed with Lilac to slightly darken the shadow underneath my bottom lashline.

I was really impressed with these eyeshadows. The loose eyeshadow powders feel silky smooth to the touch & have a shimmery satin finish. I was worried that they would be messy to use but there was hardly any fallout & they blend out so easily. My eyes can be quite sensitive & water a lot depending on which eyeshadows I use but I'm happy to report that these didn't irritate them at all. I'd never really considered trying mineral eyeshadows before but the natural ingredients definitely agreed with my eyes.

I also received the Mini Kabuki Brush (£9) to use with the eyeshadows. The brush is excellent quality & the handle feels really sturdy. The densely packed bristles are soft & flexible, allowing you to sweep eyeshadow all over the lid with minimal effort. I used it to blend the foundation underneath my eyes too as it's the perfect size for concealer.

Are you a fan of mineral makeup? Have you tried any products from Annabelle Minerals before?

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Saturday, 23 March 2019

Keep Yourself Confident In The Way You Look

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Feeling confident in the way that you look is easier said than done but each one of us has a reason to feel beautiful. What is that reason? You are already beautiful! Every single one of us is beautiful in our own way. No matter what you look like or any of the things that you usually worry about, you need to remember that you can be pretty like you, not like someone else. Even the most objectively attractive people can feel like they're not good enough at times & I think that social media has a lot to answer for in this respect. Sometimes it can be really difficult to look in the mirror & not start picking out all of your flaws or take a selfie & not Facetune it to death. But the more comfortable you become with your appearance, the more confident you will appear to others. So if you're looking for ways to get this feeling of confidence, here are some ideas to help you out!

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Comparison truly is the thief of joy & at times comparing myself to others has really knocked my confidence. Instagram can be a great place to get beauty & fashion inspiration but scrolling through your feed can also be a very toxic way to spend your time. You might be feeling perfectly fine until you come across someone with perfectly clear skin or an impossibly skinny waist & wonder why you can't look the same way. This train of thought can really damage your mental health & possibly lead to disordered eating, wasting money on cosmetic procedures or using apps to make yourself look unrecognisable. Chances are that the people you envy on Instagram don't look that way in real life either & the manipulation of photos can manipulate your sense of self. If using social media is making you feel so awful about your natural appearance you need to just delete the apps for a few days & stop engaging with that content. Don't follow people who make you feel bad about yourself & don't let what other people are doing affect you.

Practice Self Love Every Day
Learning to love yourself can take a long time but it can hugely boost your confidence. There are lots of simple ways you can practice self love, some of which can be done on a daily basis. Taking care of yourself shows the rest of the world how you deserve to be treated. Being kind to yourself about your appearance is pivotal to your own happiness & when you feel happy, you'll feel more confident too. It's easy to focus on the things that we dislike about our appearance so take the time to appreciate the things that you do like. Maybe your skin is looking really clear or your nails are long & strong. Write a list of these qualities that you can read whenever you need a quick pick me up. Learn to cherish all the things that your body does. Sure your arms might be a little flabby but they allow you to hug people, draw, write & carry things. You might not have a thigh gap but you can dance, run, jump & skip with your legs. Our bodies allow us to do so much & should be treated with respect, not self-loathing. We can be so harsh on ourselves that it verges on bullying & it's vital to take the time to fight this negative self talk.

Get Enough Sleep
One of the most important things you can do is ensure that you are getting enough sleep! It doesn't matter what your reasons are or how difficult you find it to get to sleep, it is essential that you get the rest your body needs. When you do this, you will find that you wake up feeling refreshed & your skin looks better than it has done in ages. Once you notice this, you are immediately going to feel far more confident in the way that you appear & that's just the start of it! If you do have trouble getting the right amount of sleep, there are a few hacks that you can try. Having a warm drink before bed, taking magnesium supplements or diffusing lavender oil in the bedroom can all help to promote natural sleep. Another helpful tip is to remove all the electronics from your bedroom so that the blue light doesn't disturb you. You might be thinking that you don't have a blue light but this is something that your electronic devices are constantly emitting which has been linked to difficulty sleeping. As such, this little trick is well worthing trying if you are trying to get the recommended hours of sleep in!

The Perfect Smile
Another thing that you should look at is your smile. It might be the case that you already love the way you look when you are smiling, a lot of people do because that's when we all look our best. It really is true to say that nobody looks better than when they have a smile on their face! But for some, they just don't feel confident in the way they appear. In fact I never smile with my mouth open in photos because I don't want people to judge me for having crooked teeth. Like I said, self love can be difficult & my teeth are the thing I struggle with most of all. That is where a company like Instasmile can help you. Providing you with the perfect smile is what a service like this can do for you, which will do wonders for boosting your confidence. You might not realise it now but once you feel beautiful when you are smiling, you are going to radiate confidence & the whole world is going to look at you in a different light!

Exercise Is Always A Good Idea
Finally, keeping fit is an excellent way to ensure that you feel good about the way you look. It doesn't have to be about weight loss, going to the gym is also fantastic for your mental health. When you exercise, the sweat clears out your pores giving you that refreshed glow that people are always talking about. But you will also notice that you start to look at yourself differently. It only takes eight weeks to see a difference & if you want to feel confident, you should certainly consider hitting the gym to tone up. I love the way that exercising makes me feel. I'm addicted to the rush of endorphins I get after a Body Pump class. I enjoy being able to lift heavier weights & pushing my body to do different things. I like that sense of fatigue in my muscles & being able to feel a little bit more muscle definition each week. Even gentler classes like yoga & pilates can have a strong impact on your body. I hardly ever run on a treadmill because it doesn't make me feel good about myself. Exercise should be something that you enjoy & when you start noticing those small changes in your body, your confidence levels will skyrocket.

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

Four Looks From Femme Luxe

Femme Luxe Animal Snake Print Biker Jacket

Shopping for clothes online can be very hit & miss. It seems like there's a new fashion brand popping up every week & what you see on a website isn't always what you get. When you first buy from a new brand it can be impossible to tell what the sizing will be like or whether the material will be cheap & nasty so I always appreciate honest reviews. I've been on the lookout for cute, on-trend pieces at affordable prices & in that respect Femme Luxe seemed to tick all the boxes. They kindly offered to send me four different pieces to review. Their style of clothing is very similar to the sort of thing you often see on Missguided, Boohoo & Pretty Little Thing so I wanted to see how they compare.

Femme Luxe Animal Snake Print Biker Jacket
Femme Luxe Animal Snake Print Biker Jacket
Animal Snake Print Biker Jacket - Pearl* (£21.99)

Biker jackets are one of my favourite ways to add a bit of an edge to any outfit & you'd have to be mad to leave the house without one in this weather. Whenever I find a jacket I love, I will wear it to death & that's exactly what happened to my faux leather jacket from Primark. To be fair I'd had it for ten years but I literally wore it on every night out ever. It was a staple piece in my wardrobe & as soon as it started disintegrating I started searching for a new one but the only leather ones I liked were £300 from All Saints. So when I spotted this snake print biker jacket on the Femme Luxe website, I knew it'd be an awesome on-trend alternative. I wasn't quite sure which size to get as it comes in S, M & L but their size guide only covers numerical sizes. I went for the Medium & luckily, it's a really good fit. I only ever wear biker jackets undone but if I do zip it up, it's exactly the right size. The overall fit of the jacket is quite slouchy & it's really comfortable to wear. The only thing I'm not too keen on is the belt buckle as it looks a bit messy hanging off the jacket so I just tucked it into the pockets. This was definitely my favourite item that I received as I'm really into snake print right now & it works with so many different outfits. Here I've styled it quite simply with a black smock dress from The Whitepepper & some white snakeskin flats from All Saints.

Femme Luxe Wine Loungewear Tracksuit Set
Wine Loungewear Tracksuit Set* (£14.99)

Femme Luxe have some really cute loungewear sets so I decided to order a couple of those. The first one is this burgundy long sleeved top with matching leggings. I am obsessed with burgundy, I wear this colour constantly & I think it suits me really well so getting this set was a no brainer. I ordered size M/L (12/14) & it's a good fit on me. I wanted something comfy to wear around the house & to be fair that is what I received. However this tracksuit is so thin & see through, I couldn't possibly wear it out of the house even just to take out the bins! There's fashionable loungewear that you can wear out of the house & then there's loungewear like this that you can only wear as pyjamas. You can completely see my underwear through it & it's so unflattering around the crotch area. I'm sure the trousers are more see through than the top so they look ever so slightly lighter in colour & it's a bit weird. They would be passable as pyjamas but I would never wear them for anything else.

Femme Luxe Black Off Shoulder Loungewear Set
Black Off Shoulder Loungewear Set - Blake* (£15.99)

The second one I ordered was this black off the shoulder loungewear set. Despite being the same M/L (12/14) size as the burgundy set, this one was a lot tighter. The trousers were okay, again a bit unflattering around the crotch but at least the material was a lot thicker. I wasn't aware that the top was cropped when I ordered it but I don't think it makes my stomach look too bad. The top didn't fit very well though as I struggled to make it actually be an off the shoulder top on me. I think it looks okay overall but I'm far too self conscious about my belly to wear something like this outside. This style of tracksuit would look amazing on someone who is a size 6 but I'm a 12 & it just doesn't sit right. You could definitely wear this out with heels & a duster coat if that's your kinda thing. I prefer loungewear to be a casual thing though I just wore it with my Adidas Superstar trainers.

Femme Luxe Mustard Extreme Polo Neck Oversized Jumper
Femme Luxe Mustard Extreme Polo Neck Oversized Jumper
Mustard Extreme Polo Neck Oversized Jumper - Amber* (£13.99)

The last item that I ordered was this oversized yellow polo neck jumper with some huge bell sleeves. I think that mustard jumpers look really nice with brown hair so I had visions of me wearing this & looking super fashionable. Sadly, as you can see, that was not the case. The jumper is extremely oversized & I didn't want it to completely swamp me so I ordered the S/M (8/10). Everywhere fits really well apart from the neck. The neck was so tight that it felt like I was being strangled by this jumper. I'm pretty sure it pushed all the fat from my double chin further up so my face looks rounder than ever. The colour is fab & the fabric is decent but I don't enjoy looking like a Boohbah! I wore it with some black Molly jeans from River Island & ankle boots from Topshop which I feel were good style choices but the jumper just lets everything down. It had so much potential but I strongly dislike this jumper.

Have you ordered anything from Femme Luxe?

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Wednesday, 6 March 2019

February Favourites

Heimish All Clean Balm, Pixi Retinol Tonic, Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray, Jordana Ticia Cosmetics Lipgloss in BonBon, Peaches & Cream Loose Eyeshadow Pigment in Gatsby

Heimish All Clean Balm
Double cleansing is such an essential part of my skincare routine. I use sun protection every day regardless of whether I'm wearing makeup or not so it's the only way to ensure that everything has been properly removed before I go to sleep. It's been quite a while since I last used a cleansing balm but the more I heard about Heimish's All Clean Balm, the more I knew that I needed to give it a go. In this beautifully designed tub you get 120ml of thick, white cleansing balm & a little spatula to hygienically scoop out the perfect amount of product. All Clean Balm undergoes a three step transformation from a balm, then to an oil & finally to a cleansing milk. This allows it to get rid of every last trace of makeup without leaving any residue on the skin. The balm is really gentle & has a lovely herbal scent. It doesn't sting my eyes or blur my vision at all. It's basically a dupe for Banila Co Clean It Zero but with better ingredients, a natural fragrance & more product for your money.

Pixi Retinol Tonic
Retinol is a wonderful skincare ingredient with the power to combat both acne & wrinkles. The trouble is finding a formula that your skin can tolerate & a product that doesn't cost the earth. I normally use The Ordinary's Advanced Retinoid 2% but I fancied trying out Pixi's Retinol Tonic as their toners tend to be pretty darn good. This toner features a unique time-release retinol that helps to smooth & soften the skin alongside powerful antioxidants & botanicals to soothe sensitive skin. I do wish Pixi would tell us the percentage of retinol they use in this formula but I'm guessing it's fairly low as the toner is gentle enough to use every day without irritation. It has a faint scent of lavender & feels very refreshing on the skin so I find it really pleasant to use. The formula is quite hydrating as it hasn't dried out my skin at all & that's something you have to be careful of when introducing retinol into your skincare routine. My skin has been looking really smooth & bright lately as this toner has helped to plump up any fine lines & fade hyperpigmentation. I enjoy using this every day as a gentle retinol solution because using something hardcore can often be a mistake. If you've never tried a retinol product before then this would be a great way to start.

Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray
I first heard of this product back when Kim Kardashian bleached her hair white blonde. Her hairstylist, Chris Appleton, said that Dream Coat was his secret weapon for fighting frizz & keeping her hair looking super sleek. As a result, Color Wow couldn't keep it in stock but luckily I managed to snag one of Marks & Spencer's beauty boxes with a deluxe sample bottle inside. This innovative spray coats each hair with a heat-activated waterproof shield that locks the cuticle down & seals in moisture whilst stopping humidity from wreaking havoc. It's almost like a raincoat for your hair! The product feels really lightweight & gives your hair the most incredible shine without making it look or feel greasy at all. I generally like my hair to look sleek & polished so this has been my go-to product to spritz on before a blow dry. I'm obsessed with how beautifully glossy it makes my hair look as the shine is simply unreal. I'll definitely be repurchasing this wonder hair product to protect my locks from the great British weather!

Jordana Ticia Cosmetics Lipgloss in BonBon
Recently I've found myself gravitating towards lipglosses again instead of matte lipsticks. I went off them for a while because I don't like having to touch up my makeup & my hair always gets stuck in them. It's so much easier to pop on a matte liquid lipstick & forget about it because you know it'll still be there eight hours later. But glosses just look so pretty! I love these ones from Jordana Ticia Cosmetics because unlike other lipglosses they are ultra pigmented & stay put for hours. They have a creamy texture with no tackiness & provide a high shine finish. They're also vegan, cruelty-free & have the most deliciously sweet scent. I have eight of them but BonBon is currently my favourite colour. It's such a pretty soft pink shade. The high pigmentation means that you don't have to wear a lipstick underneath but I love pairing it with one of my Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheats for some extra definition. The colour of BonBon is very close to Pillow Talk so I either use that or Supersize Me if I want something a tiny bit darker around the edges. I feel like lipgloss is coming back in a big way & these ones are some of the best I've tried!

Peaches & Cream Loose Eyeshadow Pigment in Gatsby
Peaches & Cream are a Liverpool-based beauty salon who have created their own fabulous range of makeup. Their products are extremely popular with Instagram MUAs & they are probably best known for their brilliant loose eyeshadow pigments. I actually used to be quite scared of using pigments because I tend to hate anything messy but this brand has completely changed my mind. As long as you use a good primer & the right kind of brush, pigments are really easy to use & you can create some truly spectacular looks with them. You simply can't achieve the same finish with regular eyeshadows & their loose pigments are all about the glamour. One of their most popular shades is Gatsby which is an ultra fine, pale champagne gold sparkle. It's utterly gorgeous on the eye & instantly adds a bit of gold glam to any look. I love doing a cut crease with Gatsby on the lid, the colour is incredibly versatile & goes well with so many other eyeshadows. Loose pigments might be a bit messy but they really do take your makeup to the next level.

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Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Heimish All Clean Balm

Heimish All Clean Balm - £14

At the end of each day I always look forward to pampering my skin with an array of wonderful skincare treats. Cleansing balms are one of my favourite ways to start off the process by gently removing my makeup. The way that everything melts off your face is so satisfying to see & it's a chance to indulge in a bit of facial massage. The latest addition to my nighttime routine is this All Clean Balm from the Korean brand Heimish. I recently started using this product to double cleanse my skin followed by the CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. Double cleansing is a staple part of any Korean skincare routine. It doesn't matter whether you wear a lot of makeup during the day or just a light layer of sunscreen, everyone should be double cleansing at night. It's the only reliable way to properly remove any oil-based products from your face & clean away any sweat or dirt your skin has produced throughout the day. Double cleansing ensures a deeper clean that can help to reduce breakouts & provide the perfect starting point for the rest of your skincare routine. I've worked my way through quite a few Korean skincare products but hadn't tried a cleansing balm yet. I had originally planned to purchase Clean It Zero by Banila Co. It's something that people really rave about but then I noticed that they had changed the formula a few months ago & some people were very unhappy with the new version. However this led to the discovery that some of the people who founded Heimish used to work at Banila Co & apparently took inspiration from Clean It Zero whilst improving the formula to create their All Clean Balm. Of course I only want to use the best quality products on my face so I went for the Heimish balm instead.

Heimish All Clean Balm comes in this beautifully designed white plastic tub with a pink tropical leaf print on top. I really like the packaging, both in terms of form & function. It comes with a flip top lid & a little spatula to help you hygienically scoop out the perfect amount of product. The tub contains 120ml of cleansing balm & as you only need a small amount each time, it should last for a few months. The thick, white balm inside the tub has a fairly solid consistency but it soon melts down to a smooth & silky oil once applied to dry skin. I was previously using the Bravura First Cleanse Oil to remove my makeup but the one downside to oil cleansers is that they can be quite messy. This balm does the job just as well but without running or dripping everywhere when you're massaging it into your face. All Clean Balm has a lovely herbal scent which adds a slight aromatherapeutic quality to the product. It's quite subtle but that's because the fragrance is entirely natural. I'm not really a fan of artificial scents in skincare or makeup because they can often irritate my skin so I appreciate products that smell nice by themselves. The cleanser is made from a base of shea butter & coconut fruit extract to inject some moisture into the skin during the cleansing process. It also features lots of other fabulous fruit & flower extracts to brighten the complexion.

Once the balm has transformed into the oil stage it feels very lightweight & gentle when working it into the skin. I think this gentleness is what makes this balm so special. Removing makeup becomes an effortless task as you don't have to rub your face raw to get everything off. There is a coolness to this soft balm as well & you can feel that refreshment on your skin as you start your cleansing. After massaging it into your skin, the balm undergoes a third transformation into a milky fluid as it emulsifies with the addition of water. This allows the cleanser to rinse off with the greatest of ease whilst removing even the most stubborn makeup. I always use it in conjunction with a cleansing mitt to make sure all the makeup has been removed. I would never normally use a balm or oil as a morning cleanser because that's just asking my skin to break out but the way that this cleanser emulsifies means that it leaves absolutely no residue on my face. It doesn't sting my eyes at all or give me blurry vision which are my pet hates when it comes to cleansers. It simply leaves my skin feeling clean & refreshed without stripping it of moisture. It also brightens & clears up my complexion. My forehead in particular has been looking very smooth since I introduced this balm into my routine & that's always been a hotbed for closed comedones!

Overall I have to say that I'm really happy with this purchase. I tend to stick to the same skincare products these days but I'm glad I took a chance on this cleanser. Before trying Heimish's All Clean Balm the only balm cleanser that I've truly loved was the Emma Hardie one but I've never repurchased it because it's such an expensive product. Investing in Korean skincare tends to work out a lot cheaper & £14 for 120ml was a really good deal. The cleanser doesn't irritate my skin or eyes, it's a piece of cake to use & it cleanses away your makeup almost instantaneously. What more could you possibly want? Taking your makeup off at the end of the day can be a lot of effort so if you like your skincare routine to be quick & easy, you will love this balm cleanser. I'm keen to try out some other products from Heimish so if you have any recommendations please leave them below!

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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Life At Thirty

It probably goes without saying that I haven't been the best blogger over the past couple of years but I'm finally back with a vengeance. Even though I was constantly taking & editing photos of products and coming up with new ideas, the posts just never seemed to materialise. I sometimes struggled to put up one blog post a month! There's currently over 140 draft posts on here with fully edited pictures waiting for me to write some interesting copy. Blogging is still one of my main passions in life but I could never find the time or energy to invest in it & that's mainly because so many awful things were going on behind the scenes at home.

I took these photos last August on my 30th birthday because if you don't take some photos with gold number balloons, did you even really have a birthday? The original plan was to put up an outfit post of me in this fab dress from Joanie Clothing & write about what a great time I had in Manchester, eating at Home Sweet Home & going on a shopping spree in Affleck's Palace. Yet again, I couldn't get the words out & my efforts were going to waste. This time it was more than just 'blogger's block', I was completely broken as a person. How could I possibly have written about frivolous stuff like makeup & clothes when my world had fallen apart?

You might remember when I wrote about my 29th birthday back in 2017. A few weeks before, our holiday to Spain had to be cancelled because Chloe had caught chicken pox at school & wasn't able to fly. The holiday was probably a last ditch attempt to save our relationship so things really went south between us when it got cancelled. But when you've been together for so long it's hard to admit that you need to split up, especially when there are children involved. My relationship with Andy has never been healthy or stable. Even when we first met, he would dump me because I took too long to text back & then beg me to get back with him. I, being a young idiot in love, always did. Things got even worse in 2018 when he decided to break up with me for good.

I thought that 2019 would be a fresh new start. Despite everything, we were still on friendly terms & all three of us stayed up to watch the fireworks together on New Year's Eve. I had planned to get my hair done for the first time since Summer 2017, get my passport & driving licence renewed, start blogging again properly, look for a new job & then get a new flat. But on January 5th, I got told that I had to move out immediately. I was completely shell shocked & my anxiety went into overdrive. I couldn't eat or sleep or stop shaking. I would give anything to be able to move back to London or Leeds as there's literally nothing for me here apart from Chloe's school. But she obviously comes first so I found a flat just around the corner from our old house, paid the extortionate agency fees & we've now moved in. I'm poorer than I've ever been in my life so please understand the sudden influx of sponsored posts. It's not great but I'm beginning to like it more with each passing day. I can hear cars driving past 24/7, some of the walls are a bit mouldy & I have no furniture but at least we're free.

2019 is the year that I start putting myself first. Due to my slave status I never got to go on any nights out as I always had to put Chloe to bed but last year I started going to drag shows. When Andy & I had our first major breakup back in 2012, RuPaul's Drag Race (& lots of therapy!) basically got me through it. I've wanted to see some of my favourite queens live ever since but I just never got the opportunity. Jinkx Monsoon has been my absolute favourite drag artist since season five first began & I finally got to see them at The Comedy Store in Manchester! It was such a fantastic night & I hope I get to see them again soon. Jinkx is even more lovely & charismatic in person. I also got the chance to go to the Dragula UK tour & it was one of the best nights out I've ever had. I loved seeing Biqtch Puddin & Vander Von Odd perform but Abhora, Meatball & James Majesty were all brilliant too. I even got to meet the Boulet Brothers at the end which was a dream come true even though my iPhone completely messed the photos. Thanks to Strongbow Dark Fruits for giving me the confidence to line up for the meet & greet! This year I plan on attending more drag shows & music gigs & video game/anime conventions because those are the things that bring me the most amount of joy in life. I'm a massive nerd & now I feel like I can finally embrace this without being judged. These things also help me to be more creative in my own work & heaven knows I've been lacking on that front! I don't really care about getting into a new relationship right now but if I do find someone on Tinder, he would have to love all of those things too because I don't have time for any negativity about the things that I truly enjoy.

My life at thirty years old is nothing like I expected it to be. I thought Andy & I would've gotten married in Vegas, I'd have an amazing graphic design career & we'd own a cute apartment together but instead I'm starting from scratch as a single mum. Thankfully I think I'm finally starting to get over all the pain & stress that the last few years have caused me. At long last I'm ready to focus on myself & I plan on making my thirties a whole lot better than my terrible twenties. After all, life begins at thirty!

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