- Monday, 29 September 2014 -

Sunday Snippets

Hello you lovely lot! Today's post is a quick one simply summarising my Sunday! As you can imagine, things have been pretty hectic this week as I've attempted to get back into the swing of things and regain my university routine. Needless to say, this weekend I found myself deserving of a glass of wine and a cheeky chinese as reward for finishing my first week back. Like any other morning, I started my day off with a strong mug of tea and breathed in the satisfaction of a Sunday lie-in. Not wanting to waste the day and brimming with excitement upon hearing that a vintage fair had come to town, I took the first train into the city centre. As usual, the fair had me drooling over its retro displays, kitschy accoutrements and lavish collection of clothes. Afterwards, Martin and myself popped over to Newcastle's Laing Art Gallery to take in some of the local artwork. Our visit was very pleasant as there's just something so enriching about educating yourself and feeding your inner creative. However our sophistication was soon doused by a quick trip to our favourite noodle bar! Overall, we had an uncharacteristically busy Sunday but we found it a nice change to usually sleeping the day away.

Did you have a nice weekend?

- Wednesday, 24 September 2014 -

What I love about Autumn/Fall

Hello my lovelies! I'm currently sat in a Starbucks corner praying the staff don't throw me out for overstaying my welcome. As I shakily type these words (three caramel lattes can do that to you), I reminisce of a simpler time where the wifi was free-flowing and boredom minimal. Let me catch you up dear readers: last week marked my arrival back to Newcastle, and although I'm delighted to return to canny civilisation, it came at a cost. As over exaggerated as this sounds, a house without internet is much like a heart without a pulse - dead. Martin and myself have been quite literally twiddling our thumbs until the triumphant arrival of our Sky broadband next week! 

However this little dry spell hasn't been all bad, if anything it's made me detach myself from browsing Pinterest's 'Fall' section and actually open my eyes to the real autumnal beauty around me. Since September's approach, social media, fashion magazines and the likes have been buzzing with excitement for the grand debut of cozy knitwear, darker hued lipsticks and nights in by the fire. Whether I'm out casually picking blackberries or adding that extra layer to today's outfit, it's hard not to fall in love with Fall. A few things I absolutely adore about Autumn include...

Crisp, brisk walks in the countryside with the leaves crackling beneath your feet

When you can see your breath materialise in front of you on a frosty day but you're completely oblivious to the cold because you're a human burrito of layered knitwear

Sipping that first hot chocolate/spiced latte of the season

Mentally justifying the outrageous price of a coat, because it'll forevermore be your "winter coat"

Becoming one with nature - collecting conkers for no reason whatsoever, picking blackberries and gathering a pile of leaves to otherwise entertain yourself via dancing in them, kicking them etc

Purchasing an obscene amount of seasonal Yankee Candles because it should be autumn outside AND inside!

Experiencing the glorious transition of light, summer food move on to heartier meals which incidentally must always include gravy

Whipping out your hat and scarf because they're finally considered socially acceptable accessories again

Going into human hibernation: having a blanket cocooning you at all times, stocking up on stodgy comfort food and napping until your body clock goes completely out of whack

Embracing your inner goth when fashion decides to go a little darker - darker lipsticks, darker clothes

Trying to channel your inner creative by carving impossibly difficult artwork in your Halloween pumpkin

Relishing the sound of the rain whenever you're cooped up indoors all cozy binging on your latest TV addiction

What do you love most about Autumn/Fall?

- Tuesday, 16 September 2014 -

My Top 5 Indie Films

Hello my lovelies! With the rusting leaves declaring independence from the trees, the pumpkin spice lattes growing in popularity and the comfort of home seeming ever more appealing, human hibernation appears imminent. You'll want nothing more than to wrap yourself up in a burrito of blankets with a steady drip attached feeding you your daily dose of hot chocolate (does that sound like heaven to anyone else but me!?). This weekend I succumbed to my autumnal instincts and stayed in bed binging on feel-good indie films. Indie films are regularly burrowed beneath the blockbusters and often mingle sadness with an artistic expression of life and love.

The always entertaining, infrequently informative Urban Dictionary hit the nail on the hipster head when attempting to describe an indie film: "A film made on a low, almost bare bones budget (outside the studio system), that is heralded by the underground (read:hipsters), for its usually 'new, fresh and daring' on a number of issues such as; gay life, sex, gay sex, teen angst, gay teen angst, etc. Often seen as pretentious by anyone not cultured enough to understand the 'gravitas of the subject matter'." So, get your Starbucks at the ready and have the phrase "I saw that BEFORE it was even this popular" poised at the tip of your tongue, because in no particular order my top 5 indie films are...

1/ 500 Days of Summer - Laced with quirky characters, an addictive playlist and brimming with the feel-good factor, 500 Days of Summer was probably one of the first films I wholeheartedly fell in love with. On January 8th, Tom Hansen meets Summer Finn and so ensues their 500 day relationship. The film also exhibits a lot of charming creative artwork and animation, making it oh so much harder to hate it! It's your quintessential boy meets girl scenario, and it shouldn't be missed.

2/ The Perks of Being a Wallflower - With the book being one of my all-time favourites, I was slightly dubious about the film's debut. However I was pleasantly surprised when in one of those rarer moments; a film may actually supersede a book - additionally I'd like to point out that it was probably an advantage that the film was directed by the novels author, Stephen Chbosky. The film's style is very raw and amateurish to correspond with our protagonist Charlie - the new kid in school. The film features various young adult themes such as angst, abuse, mental illness, drugs, love, and the crux of the story: friendship.

3/ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - One of Jim Carrey's more sombre roles. If I was to sum up this film in a word, it would definitely be described as deep. When sensitive Joel's world collides with colourful Clementine's, they pursue an intoxicating relationship filled with love, turbulence and self-discovery. However, as the relationship runs its course and profuse with pain, Joel attempts to erase all memory of Clementine in desperate hope of progressing with his life. It's emotional and it's beautiful.

4/ Silver Linings Playbook - You ever watched a film that you could happily watch for the rest of your life and never tire of? Yeah, well this is mine. After a failed marriage leading to months of intensive treatment for his bipolar disorder, Pat steps back out into the real world and soon gets wrapped up in the deliciously destructive personality of Tiffany. The two lost souls find solace in each other but will their incapabilities make them capable of love?

5/ Beginners - Out of the five films, this is the one you've probably never heard of. Oliver is an artist, who leads a simple life with no complications. He discovers that his father is withering away with stage 4 cancer and with this newfound appreciation for life, his father also declares his love for another man. Having the responsibility of caring for and encouraging his father's new lifestyle choices, Oliver is stuck in a rut. That is until fate pairs him with Anna. Beginners is a very moving, charming and at times, hilariously witty film (there are scenes where Oliver takes his father's dog into care after he can't look after him anymore. The dog and Oliver have actual conversations with subtitles) need I say more?

Have you seen any of the films mentioned?

- Saturday, 13 September 2014 -

Blogging Tips: Backgrounds!

Hello you lovely lot! Since I got such a tremendous response from my previous tip-themed post on how to battle the dreaded blogger's block (which you can view here), I thought it a good idea to continue this little series and share some tips and tricks with you about enhancing your photographs by experimenting with various backgrounds. Granted, I've not been on the blogging scene for very long, I have learned that good photography goes a long way and that introducing colour and little props such as flowers, excite the eyes and reel the reader in...

1/ Floor and Carpet: There's just something so rustic and aesthetically appealing about a wooden floor. It looks so homely and inviting and with the addition of the carpet, it injects a splash of colour to an otherwise overpowering bland brown background. This carpet was purchased from Urban Outfitters, I love its shabby look and how the image instantly turns boho with it included. Also bloggers, don't be afraid of layering your image with items - experiment with colour as this will intrigue your audience.

2/ White:
Along with the ironic inclusion of Naked 3 palettes and PR samples, nothing epitomises a blogger more than the colour white! White is professional, classy and clean so it's no wonder why its become the bloggers quintessential backdrop of choice. Having not grown up with any white bedroom furniture to avail of, I actually went out and bought a cheap Ikea side table instead. Additionally, as the colour white reflects light, my photographs appear much brighter and eye-catching. 

3/ Wrapping Paper: Yes, you read that correctly! Ever found that your backgrounds have become too repetitive or you're simply sick of using the same dull setting? Why not invest in some wrapping paper to give your photos that extra pop? Try to avoid using a busy pattern (I came across a jelly bean print the other day...) as that can sometimes take away from your photos and distract your reader. I like to use simple patterns in muted colours, as shown in the image above.

4/ Bed Covers: Another background staple of the blogging world is bed covers! The countless times I've visited a blogpost because of the bed covers alone drawing me in (consequently resulting in me asking the blogger where they got said covers from). I absolutely adore it when bloggers use any fabrics in general as their background of choice, there's also been occasions where I've utilised my clothes for photographic backgrounds - remember last year's furry coat that you've recently fell out of love with? Well it's suddenly found its new life purpose!

 5/ Magazines: Another fad that's taking the blogosphere by storm is the creative use of magazines serving as backgrounds. I'll admit, the big brand name of "Vogue" or "Elle" spread across a blog photo is very striking - especially for our fabulous fashion or beauty bloggers. There's suddenly an element of activity injected into the image which is sure to catch an eye or two.

6/ The Great Outdoors: Photographing outside not only offers luminous, natural lighting, but there's colour everywhere you look - especially now that autumn has set in and beautiful berry hues and orange tones dominant the surroundings. Take advantage of fallen leaves and green grassy backdrops to give your photos that fresh, earthy feel.

7/ Props - Bits and Bobs: There's nothing I love more than enhancing an otherwise bland and boring image with a good 'ol prop! Sometimes merely showing your products alone in your photos can appear quite flat, so why not add some colourful texture like little beads or a bunch of flowers to give your images that extra oomph! It's also a nice touch to incorporate pretty dishes to exhibit your product in, or have perhaps some nice candles or ornaments lurking in the background so that your readers can better relate to you and your homely interiors. 

What backgrounds do you use for photographs?

- Tuesday, 9 September 2014 -

Too Cool for School: Schooltime Essentials

Hello you lovely lot! So, I'll admit my blogging schedule has been slightly topsy turvy recently due to my newfound laziness because hey, it's autumn now and I deserve those extra hours in bed! But with the dawning of September, also comes the dawning of realisation that school is round the corner. To anyone that may be starting anew at college, university or likewise, don't worry, that feeling in the pit of your stomach of impending doom is completely normal. As a long-time sufferer of anxiety, I understand how utterly daunting a new environment can be, but with the right attitude and proper precautions, these can honestly turn out to be the best years of your life! 

Firstly, let me state that my exemplar school essentials are in no way concrete or consistent, what I've displayed above is simply a rough guide to getting the best out of your educational experiences! 

A sturdy bag - So let's start with the basics, you're gonna need a strong, supportive bag to haul all your shit around. I'm a thorough believer that you can never go too wrong with a stylish satchel!

A purse/wallet - Whether you're attending college or uni, you're going to need a place to hold your student card. In my experience, flippantly stowing your student card in a pocket is a bad move as you're far more likely to lose it that way.

Knitwear - The amount of times I've sat in lecture halls or classes, shivering with the cold and cursing my impudence for not layering up (ahem, this applies for both summer AND winter). Stick on a hat and throw on a scarf, if all fails, you can simply slump them over that stylish satchel of yours!

Pencil case - People who survive on bringing pens alone to class elude me. 

Kindle/tablet - The more condensed form of the laptop. It's light and definitely more compact than a bulky laptop. Bring your tablet to class for note taking, or in your free time afford yourself some 'me time' and chill out with a quick game or therapeutic read. 

Glasses - Please disregard this if you actually do have the coveted 20/20 vision. Think you've marked your territory and that seat near the front is finally yours? WRONG. Class numbers are never a concrete notion, some days the place will be packed out and others it won't. So if you do ever find yourself about a mile away from the blackboard, bring some glasses for clarity. 

Drinking bottle - Water feeds the brain, right? Stay hydrated at all times and forgo having to pay extravagant prices for a bottle of pop on campus. Drinking regularly will not only keep you awake and alert but it'll also remedy that nasty hangover you've been nursing since this morning.

Lip balm/makeup - I like to carry around the necessities with me: lip balm for emergency chapped lips, matte powder to keep those blemishes at bay and lip stick, to refrain from fading. Also, although not pictured, the inclusion of tissues would be a good call also!

Hairbrush - Let me break it down for you: I attend university in the north of England i.e. where wind is a relentless element intent on making your hair look like a birds nest. 

Body spray - Discover that your timetable has you in class until late? Not had time for a morning shower? Carry some body spray at all times so you can freshen yourself up whenever necessary.

Journal/Planner - I would be completely lost without a planner. I find that I'm forever scribbling down assignments and deadlines in the avid hope of being organised. It pays off though, because come the day of handing in an essay, I WON'T be the one groaning "oh I thought that was meant to be in tomorrow".

What're your schooltime essentials?

- Friday, 5 September 2014 -

Review: Sleek Matte Me

Hello my lovelies! Let's face it, nothing brightens up your day quicker than treating yourself to some makeup! Recently, I've found myself quite captivated by matte lipsticks, with their impressive longevity and sublime chalky finish, I knew I had to get my hands on some. After initially considering Lime Crime's Velvetine collection, with each product charging over £13 a pop, I decided to cast my search elsewhere in the avid hope of finding a range more affordable. When lo and behold, I stumble across Sleek Makeup's new matte lip cream collection, and let me tell you dear readers: it was love as first sight.

Sleek Matte Me currently features six luscious colours in their collection, each one bolder and more beautiful than the last. However, wanting to tone things down in the looming autumnal months, I opted for 'Petal' - a soft, pastel pink, 'Birthday Suit' - a warm, chocolatey nude and 'Party Pink' - a vibrant, coral red. 

Seeing as the lip cream is presented in the form of a gloss, delivered by means of the traditional lip gloss applicator brush, the coverage can be amended to your liking, and I personally prefer it to the conventional lipstick. I found that the application of the cream was very smooth and that it only took a few minutes for the cream to develop into its hardened matte state. Each colour proves pigmented, with the finish feeling quite chalky. Upon eating and drinking, little to no colour slips off and there's thankfully no more of that obsessive unnecessary checking to see if the colour's fading - once it's on, it's ON. However, old habits die hard and I have noticed that if you do go to top up the colour, this can lead to a cakey layering, where little bits of cream residue tend to form in the inner corners of the mouth. 

However, all in all I was thoroughly thrilled with my Sleek Matte Me purchases. With inexpensive prices (£4.99 each), an eclectic mix of colours to choose from and a promise to stay and not stray, these will definitely be my go-to lip products for autumn!

Have you experienced the new craze of matte lip creams?

- Monday, 1 September 2014 -

A Day in Dublin

Hello my lovelies! Okay, so I think I should confront this crucial issue before continuing any further: it feels like I've blinked and been catapulted through time; it's September already!? Cue the witty originals on Facebook proclaiming they should heed Greenday's lyrical advice UGH. Perhaps it's the dawning of a new academic era, or the steady changing of the seasons, but September always feels like a new start for me. However, I was adamant to send off the summer in style so on Saturday my mum, Martin and myself took a day trip to Dublin's fair city. 

Of course we tended to all your typical touristy activities - visiting Carroll's Irish souvenir shop which had a lovely green theme goin' on, loitering around The Temple Bar pub and becoming a little too snap happy with my camera, and of course savouring some of the legendary black stuff - Guinness. In a very unfashionably Irish way, the weather was actually quite pleasant, not a whip of wind or raincloud in sight! Dublin is brimming with so many quaint little boutiques and charming cafes that no matter how many times I visit, there's always something new to explore and experience. All in all, it proved a brilliant way of reeling in the summer - to visit the capital of Ireland felt like a mini holiday in itself!

Have you ever visited Ireland/Dublin before?