- Saturday, 24 January 2015 -

DIY: 5 fun uses for Washi Tape!

Hello my lovelies! For as long as I can remember, stationery has seized me; prior to returning to school, I'd be on a mission to hunt down the cutest pencil case possible for the new academic year, and even to this day, Paperchase is my Disneyland. I have oodles of stickers, umpteen gel pens and more notebooks than sense - it's a fully fledged addiction. A few years ago, washi tapes arrived on the scene in a wonderful wave of colour. Usually used to decorate diaries, planners and notebooks, I have plastered them all over my life, intent on injecting colour wherever possible. They're a lovely way to spruce up an old scrapbook, breath life back into an old piece of furniture or even just use as a page placeholder for your favourite book, and unlike sellotape or duct tape, they don't mark any surface so you can use them here, there and everywhere! So, here are a few of my favourite fun, quick and easy uses for washi tape...

1/ Tealights: All it takes is one strip of tape to transform these otherwise unadventurous tealights into cute and colourful centrepieces. I love dotting these around the apartment, adding a spontaneous splash of colour, giving the lights a new lease of life. I purchased a pack of 30 tealights from Poundland (for a pound, funnily enough) and am even tempted to give these rejuvenated lovely little lights out as gifts!

2/ Pots: I have countless neglected pots lying about the place, pencil pots and plant pots, all without a purpose; beauty pots so boring and bland, that they were simply cast aside the first day I got them. Why not spruce them up with a strip of tape? It's a cheap, easy and effective way of redoing and reusing your unloved items.

3/ Chargers: After so long, my chargers usually start to display a lot of wear and tear from being hauled around. Scratches and marks begin the materialise as the charger gets uglier in appearance. If you find yourself using extension leads, this is also a fun and creative way to make things a bit more colourful. In todays day and age, we have chargers for just about anything, all frustratingly identical - why not mix things up a bit and colour code them?

4 & 5/ Notebooks and pencils: If you're any bit like me, you'll always find yourself in possession of an excessive and unnecessary amount of notebooks; books that were bought at the start of the year with a fistful of good intentions, only to be left to gather dust in a corner. I think that if you add a personal touch to something, it automatically feels more special. In addition, I also like to decorate my pencils with washi tape. I've never been a fan of the HB pencil colour combinations, so I just stretch out a strip of tape longways and neatly roll it around my pencil. Displayed above is the before and after of my pencils and the difference the decoration makes!

Have you ever used washi tape? 


- Sunday, 18 January 2015 -

Stress Less

Hello my lovelies! With the weekend finally upon us, it's important to relish those deliciously rare moments of relaxation and take time to unwind. Have that cheeky lie in, lounge around in your pjs, binge on Netflix - it's vital to grant yourself some me time and recharge those batteries. I'm what you could describe as a 'chronic worrier', never switching off and guilty of turning things over and over again in my mind. Having a regular sleeping pattern eludes me and I've never experienced the mythical bliss of NOT having something to worry about, like my mum always says; if I've not got something to worry about, I'll find something. Sound familiar?

Practice mindfulness: In order to combat the swirling soup of worry and dread in my head, I actively practice a method called Mindfulness. Ever lie awake at night, completely consumed by your own thoughts? Attacked by the "I should haves" and the "what will I dos"? Mindfulness means to live in the moment, when you're lying in bed waiting for precious sleep to envelope you, there's not much you can do to remedy these anxieties. So tell yourself to stop it, that it's time for sleep and embrace your other senses instead: listen to the wind outside, feel the cooler side of the pillow, drink in the darkness around you. This technique can be applied anywhere - perhaps you're washing the dishes and you find your mind straying to thoughts of bills, bills and more bills, try to focus on the task at hand: the warm water against your skin, the splashing sound, because right now there's no point in worrying. 

Gain perspective: Like any other teenager undergoing their gruelling GCSEs, stress seemed to follow me around like a dark cloud. Obsessed with wanting to do well, my brain refused to switch off. That was until one day I gained perspective when a close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer - losing sleep over impending exams seemed petty in comparison to a person's life hanging in the balance. Thankfully, my friend recovered but it planted a seed in my mind, that there's more to life than worrying. When you find yourself stuck in a rut, it's important to zoom out and gain some perspective, will what's worrying you now be worrying you in a week or even a year's time? Identify the source of your worrying and try to think of the worst possible outcome, and accept it. For example: you don't have a job so obviously you're going to run out of money and become homeless and probably end up freezing to death on the streets, but what about all that you DO have going for you? Would your friends and family really allow that to happen?

 Take action: Stress is often a signal to do something. That bubbling of butterflies you get in your stomach when a deadline is looming could be a prediction that your procrastination has gone on long enough. So, take action and break down the task into little sections making it doable, not daunting. Another useful exercise for minimising stress is actually allocating a set time to worry, say you finish work on Friday and afford yourself an hour to mull over everything that's bothering you, maybe you could use that hour to write down your feelings or even chat through your worries with a friend. This way, throughout the week you're giving yourself permission to enjoy some peace of mind until your allocated amount of "worry time" arrives. By postponing worry, we save ourselves from needless mental wear and tear, and when the end of the week does come around, usually what we were worrying about seems trivial or has been solved.

Love yourself: When it comes to worrying, we're our own worst enemies - we talk ourselves down and doubt our own ability, letting negativity ensue. Do you ever find yourself playing the agony aunt and giving your friends and family amazing advice, only to wonder why you can't do that for yourself? It may sound crazy but do talk to yourself, if you catch yourself spurting sinister thoughts, try to turn them around, for example, you're stressing over the fact that you've gained a few pounds over the holiday period, instead of letting your mind spiral into a pit of self-loathing, tell yourself that this weight is only temporary and that everyone is in the same boat battling the post holiday bulge. Also try to allocate some much needed 'me time' at least once a week, where stressing isn't on the schedule, you'll find your mood lightened if you just give yourself a break.

What're your tips and tricks to stressing less?

- Wednesday, 14 January 2015 -

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette

Hello my lovelies! Over the past few days there's been a bit of a lull on the blog, primarily due to the fact that I flew back to England in preparation for my second semester of university. After spending what seemed like an eternity in bed after my surgery, it feels rather pleasant possessing a purpose again! Naturally, I felt that such a feat should be duly rewarded with a spot of shopping and that's when I got my grubby little mitts on the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette. Deliciously packaged and feeling like I've won Willy Wonka's golden ticket, the eye shadows are made of 100% natural cocoa powder, deeming them worthy of vegan approval.

Shaped like an actual bar of chocolate, the palette presents a magnetic clasp making opening and closing effortless. Upon opening, you're greeted with the sweetest aroma imaginable, making it very difficult not to lick the palettes contents. The eye shadows are charmingly christened after various chocolate themes leaving my mouth watering, anything from "White Chocolate" to "Crème Brûlée" enticing you to smear them on your lips as well as your eyes. The colours appear very versatile, ranging from neutral nudes to pops of purples and pinks, rendering the colour combinations endless.

Top Row L-R: Gilded Ganache, White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Black Forest Truffle, Triple Fudge, Salted Caramel, Marzipan, Semi-Sweet

Bottom Row L-R: Strawberry Bon Bon, Candid Violet, Amaretto, Hazelnut, Crème Brûlée, Haute Chocolate, Cherry Cordial, Champagne Truffle

After swatching the shadows, I find that they offer a gently pigmented consistency without appearing too bold and overbearing. After a days trial run wearing the eye shadow, their longevity is impressive, with no smudging or fading in sight - after a gruelling 6 hours in uni, I come home to find that the eye shadow has not budged an inch and is still as bright as when I first applied it that morning. After exhausting my Naked 2 palette for over a year, I feel well and truly converted to the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette, making it my new go-to eye shadow source!


- Friday, 9 January 2015 -

Tips and Tricks: Growing your Readership

Hello my lovelies and a very happy Friday to you all! Although blogging is first and foremost a hobby for me, there's no denying the little thrill that runs through you upon discovery of a new follower. It's humbling, as if all your effort is justified and let's face it, it spurs you on. I like to think that as your blog grows you grow with it, developing skills, making friends, opening doors. I would also like to point out however that in no way, shape or form does a number categorise you as more or less of a blogger than anyone else, have you 10 followers or 10,000, your blog is a unique footprint on the sandy shore of the internet. I understand the obsession of reaching 201 and craving a more rounded 250, as everyone needs a bit of a confidence boost now and then, so here are my top tips in reeling in the readers...

You had me at hello: Social interaction within the blogging community is imperative because you want to be seen as making friends, not followers. Your readers want to see that you're not a mere robot cast behind a computer screen, so let your personality and passion shine through. The likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are brilliantly beneficial resources when it comes to reaching out to readers so don't be afraid of a little interaction. Blog chats, regularly hosted on Twitter are a tremendous source of traffic, as you get to connect with the community.

Help me help you: Identify those looking for guest bloggers and get in contact. Posting on another persons blog gains excellent exposure, elevating your name and growing a wider audience in the process. If you're also willing to spend a bit of money for the cause, most blogs offer advertising in exchange for acknowledgment, such as giving your blog regular recommendation through social media or linking your blog's url at the end of one of their blogposts. For as little as a pound a month you can raise your blog through the ranks.

Know your niche: In my experience, readers tend not to return to a blog that is chaotic with inconsistencies, it's true that you yourself should be your own niche but do take the time to discover who YOU are. For example, in real life I enjoy all things cute and quirky, so it should be only right that my blog reflects those idiosyncrasies with the inclusion of hearts, flowers etc - keeping your blog constant with also keep your audience constant. 

Quality over quantity: Even though keeping a regular blogging routine is important, as it lets your readers know what posts to expect and when, never feel that you should just churn out a post for the sake of it. Never settle for second best, as your readers will quickly pick up on the quality inconsistencies and begin to lose heed. Try not to force your posts, if the timings not right, it's not right and if you're feeling a lull in inspiration, take a step back, take a break and breathe, you'll soon find your mojo again. Whenever I hit a dry spell, I seek inspiration and ideas from all sorts: books, magazines and of course one can never forget the holy grail of the internet.

Facts tell, but stories sell: When writing, it's important to inject your posts with a personal touch, add humour, include metaphors; don't let your blog become a stagnate series of facts and figures. A beauty blogger once told me that if her readers simply wanted a general gist of her reviews, with factual information and no more, then they're better off visiting the Boots website. People read blogs because they can see a bit of themselves in the writing, because we're personal, relatable and honest. Don't let your blog become just a series of words and phrases, it's your corner of the internet so make it your own!

- Wednesday, 7 January 2015 -

Review: Lush Cupcake

Hello you lovely lot! I've always been prone to a pimple or two, and have tried every cream, balm and lotion imaginable in the avid hope of putting these blemishes as bay. Having masked myself with makeup all throughout my teenage years, in my twenties I realise that a good skincare routine is just as important as good oral hygiene or undergoing the dreaded "trim" at the hairdressers every 6 weeks - because let's face it, we all want to know what Keanu Reeves and Patrick Stewarts secret to eternal youth is. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I received a jumble of Lush goodies for Christmas, and amidst the array of shiny new products, Lush's Cupcake was the one that caught my eye first.

Now, I'll admit, I was hoping to open the pot to discover a pink fluffiness, typical of your average cupcake, however what I actually unearthed was something far sweeter. Lush have basically concocted a tub of chocolate that we're to smear all over our faces, and let me tell you dear readers: the experience is glorious! To be kept in the fridge to preserve all the ingredients, you apply the face mask cold, which in truth feels quite refreshing. After about a minute or so of application, the paste will harden and become a smoothened shell all over your face. Whilst the cocoa butter calms any agitated areas, the peppermint and spearmint work their magic preventing any pimple from rearing their ugly heads. I could have honestly left the mask on all day as I smelt like a sweetshop, however as time goes on, the mask does begin to cake - that coupled with the fact that my dog kept licking it off - you know when it's time to remove it with some warm water.

My skin automatically felt smoother and smelt delicious! Any redness that was previously visible has now disappeared and I'm happy to report that there's not a breakout in sight! I would urge you however to use the mask just before you head to bed, giving your skin time to settle overnight. It's funny though isn't it, how eating chocolate can supposedly break you out, yet slathering yourself in it can ironically do the opposite? 

Have you tried Lush's Cupcake face mask before?

- Monday, 5 January 2015 -

Bookishly: A Tea, Book and Stationery Subscription

Hello my lovelies! This past week has had me feeling lost in a limbo between clinging on for dear life to the holidays and embracing the reality of returning to a routine. As the Christmas spirit slowly slips away for another year, I've been enjoying having a snoop at what everyone received over the holidays. I love studying their sprawled exhibition of presents, detailing who got what and the various stories behind the gift. Feeling inspired, I wanted to show you all one of my favourite presents, possibly EVER, and I can tell some of you are drooling already.

Bookishly is a monthly subscription catered for bookworms and tea lovers alike, delivering to your door a vintage book, a selection of stationery and some lovely tea to enjoy them with. Each month a lovingly wrapped parcel will be popped through the post carrying a vintage book with the genre of your choice. I absolutely adore how worn and tattered the book is as it looks like it received a lot of love in its lifetime, it also states at the back that it was a mere 35p to purchase when it was first published! The brew to accompany with your book is a white tea, however in the months following you can expect to receive anything from chai tea to earl grey! My subscription also held a selection of beautiful cards: one for Christmas, one for New Years and one displaying a lovely literary quote.

It's no surprise that subscription boxes have taken the blogging world by storm, ranging from food parcels to beauty boxes, it's a very lucrative and popular business. But in my entire year of blogging I never once came across something so enchantingly unique as the Bookishly subscription. Upon glancing at its original packaging, I was actually reluctant to open it as it was wrapped in map-print paper and tied up with some lovely striped string. Nothing pleases me more than picking up a book and inhaling the pages, especially with vintage books, where you can smell its history and imagine its journey from then to now. So, be you a book lover, tea enthusiast or stationery fiend, I urge you to sign up to this monthly subscription and kick back with a book and a brew and maybe some stationery too.