My In-Flight/Hand Luggage Essentials

Hello my lovelies,

So, in just a few days, I’m off on a big school trip, to China! It’s extremely exciting, and I’m looking forward to experiencing some of the amazing things that Beijing has to offer, and also to receive confirmation of the negligible nature of my Mandarin skills (I’m taking GCSE, but you can’t tell…). I’m going slightly crazy with planning and lists (you know what I’m like!) and am slightly swamped in to-do lists, travel sized toiletries, and the odd stray sock. But one of the things that I’m most looking forward to is the flight (sounds stupid, when you think of all the incredible things I’ll see when I get there, but shh…) as I love flying, especially long-haul. So today, I thought I’d share my in-flight essentials with you guys, particularly for a long-haul overnight journey.

   

 Lip balm. I like to keep toiletries to a minimum, because of all the hassle of plastic bags and security etc., but I’d say that a good lip balm is a must. The air in planes is so dry and artificial; it’s really not good for your skin, and mine often ends up horribly dehydrated. My lips are usually the first to go, so I always make sure I have a something with me (usually Nivea Essential Care), to keep the cracking at bay. I wouldn’t go for something at all pigmented – when you’re in a plane, the last thing you want to be worrying about is falling asleep and smearing pink all over your hand/face/clothes/the wall.

A good intense moisturiser. In the same vein, with all the people breathing the same air in and out, my skin always ends up horribly tight, so I like a reasonably thick moisturiser, to really give it a boost, and keep it hydrated.

Hand cream. You know that weird feeling when your hands get a bit dry, and get a really nasty texture? Maybe you don’t… Well, I can’t stand it, and so I’m never far from a hand cream, even on a plane.

Mascara. I really can’t be at all bothered for makeup while travelling – my skin has enough to deal with – and usually I don’t bother putting any on when I get off the plane either, but sometimes, if you’re running on half an hour of sleep, and you have to face a full day because of the time difference, you just need that lift. That’s where mascara comes in. The last thing you want to be doing is attempting to blend foundation, or construct a smoky eye, but whacking on a couple of layers of mascara can take you from long-dead corpse to living human being, quickly and easily.

Hair brush and scrunchie. Is it just me who’s hair has a full on freak-out every time they step on a plane? While flying I just whack it up in the messiest of buns (and not the “messy-but-perfect” type, trust me), but when you arrive, the best way to become presentable is to pull a brush through it, and then go for the fail-safe high ponytail, just to be on the safe side.

Book. Pretty obvious, but you need entertainment, and it’s best not to rely on airline films: not all planes have screens, sometimes the film selection is atrocious, and watching screens for hours gives me a headache. It’s good to give your eyes a rest, tempting as it is to try and plough through as many back-to-back films as you can. Personally, I love to read, and so I wouldn’t go anywhere without a book. Great for airport delays/waiting for connection flights, too.

Notebook and pen. Inspiration strikes at the weirdest of times, so why not 30,000 feet up in the air? I also really enjoy just putting pen to paper, and writing out my thoughts, fragmented and bizarre (and sometimes worrying!) as they are. This is also the time that I usually write the first entry of my holiday diary, in which I record thoughts/events/experiences every time I go travelling. I love having the memories to look back on.

Mints. Let’s face it, none of us are at our most hygienic on a plane, and sometimes it’s just too much effort or there’s too much of a queue to bother going to the tiny toilet and brushing your teeth. Bad breath and a “dirty” feeling mouth are unpleasant, however, so I always bring mints with me, to keep my mouth feeling fresh, and stop the people unlucky enough to be sitting next to me from passing out. Gum’s great and all, but at least with mints you don’t have the dilemma of how to get rid of it when you’re done.

Scarf. Temperatures fluctuate like crazy on planes, but more often than not it’s freezing. Because of this, I find it handy to bring a big scarf, which can be used as a pillow, or wrapped round me for warmth, like a blanket.

Oversized cardigan/jumper. Always go for comfort over style on a plane, and oversized is the way forward. It’ll make you feel more at home and relaxed, and I’m definitely more likely to sleep curled up in a huge jumper and leggings than struggling with tight crop tops, or restrictive jeans.

Hand sanitizer. Planes aren’t the cleanest of places, and it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll get a chance to wash, so hand sanitizer is my hero. So many germs in such a small place, and I always feel better if I can keep myself feeling at least relatively clean.

iPod and earphones. Snuggle down with music, and forget where you are, and all the random people surrounding you. Get really comfortable, and I find that that’s when I’m most likely to manage to snatch some sleep.

Fluffy slipper socks. Cold feet = no sleep is my new mantra (it’s not, but it almost rhymes, so I had to include it somehow!). Again, I prioritise my comfort here, and want to keep myself feeling snuggly.

Some kind of sweets. That popping in your ears at takeoff and landing can be really nasty, so I always take a packet of sweets to suck on, which really helps. Boiled sweets are the best, but they’re not always the nicest, so anything you can suck on will work – wine gums, fruit pastilles etc.

Those are all my in-flight essentials, and that will be what I’ll be packing in my rucksack (easiest kind of carry-on to deal with) for my up-coming flight. I hope you enjoyed this post, or found it in some way helpful (long shot, I know!) and do let me know what you can’t fly without, by leaving me a comment. Any tips on how to sleep while flying? I can’t deal with eye masks, but always struggle to sleep…

Lots of love,

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4 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Hello my lovelies,

Breakfast – it’s your start to the day, and it’s pretty much all that gets you through the first few painful hours of school or work, so I think we all have to agree it’s pretty important. I sure know there is no way I’d survive a full morning of school without food. Nutritionists say it’s the most important of all the meals, in fact, so it’s beyond me why some people still skip it. Today I bring you four quick and easy ideas for a healthy start to the day, that don’t require any obscure ingredients or long preparation as some healthy recipes do, so as to make your mornings as easy as possible. I promise, these are genuinely compatible with a busy, stressful morning (otherwise I definitely wouldn’t be using them!), and won’t eat up too much time.

Berry Smoothie:

1 banana

2 handfuls of berries (I used 1 handful of raspberries and one of blackberries)

A couple of tablespoons of raspberry, vanilla or plain yoghurt.

A dash of milk.

Smoothies are extremely quick and easy – just chuck all the ingredients in the blender and then drink. You can use pretty much any fruit or veg, but I find berries both the most appealing and the tastiest – I’ve never been convinced by kale and spinach. This is my go-to combination, and the smoothie produced is an incredibly colour (unlike the sludgy green of some) and extremely photogenic (priorities!). Throw in some oats for a slightly more substantial option.

 

Banana Pancakes

Some of the quickest and easiest pancakes out there, I found this recipe through Blogilates. They’re great with maple syrup or agave nectar and dried or fresh fruit.

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

Optional cinnamon (I love it.)

Mash the banana in a bowl, and then whisk the eggs in. Pop the batter in a frying pan and that’s literally it. Easiest thing you will ever cook. And if your culinary skills are anything like as limited as mine, you will love this recipe.


  
Porridge with Toppings

Porridge is pretty much the ultimate healthy and nutritious breakfast, and it’ll keep you going right through the morning. Either make it yourself (it’s really simple) or you can buy instant porridge packets, like “Oat So Simple”. It’s pretty boring on its own, so I prefer to chuck some pecans and some mixed dried fruit on the top. The fruit sweetens it enough for me, but if you’d like a bit more, a drizzle of honey works really well. Cinnamon and apple, or a sprinkling of berries are both great too.

Yoghurt Layer Bowls

Probably the quickest and easiest of the options here, this is one of my go-to breakfasts, and it’s extremely customisable for individual tastes.

Start by sprinkling some oats, granola or muesli into the bottom of a bowl – I like granola the best, for the added crunch. Then pour yoghurt all over that – natural, vanilla, strawberry: whatever takes your fancy – and top with some fresh fruit. I like a sliced banana, and a sprinkling of cinnamon (anyone worked out that I REALLY like cinnamon by now?), but berries, apple, or pretty much anything else works as well. If you have any (or have a bit more time to make some), a berry compote makes a delicious additional layer.


So there we go – 4 quick and easy healthy breakfast ideas, that are actually do-able for normal people with rushed mornings, and that I genuinely eat day to day (had the pancakes this morning). I felt like there was a need for some much more “real” healthy recipes, and hopefully these will fill that gap a little. No more excuses to skip breakfast!

What did you have this morning? What’s your favourite quick breakfast? Leave me a comment to let me know.

Lots of love,

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PS. I wasn’t quite sure how to take food photos, so I’m sorry if the pictures/composition are completely dire! I’m an absolute newbie at the whole food blogging malarkey.

February Favourites

Hello my lovelies!

Today I thought I’d share my assorted favourites from the month of February – there’s a whole load in there: music, TV, beauty. Enjoy!

Go Stationery Notebooks:

Yes indeed – ’tis notebooks I’m obsessing over first. Go Stationery ones, to be precise. Those of you who’ve been around here a bit longer will know that I absolutely adore lists, and so naturally, notebooks are a very important part of my life *not being melodramatic at all*. These were £5 each and I’ve resolved that one will be for blog notes and post ideas – the “ideas & inspiration” one – and the other – which says “blah blah blah” – will house my holiday diary. I always keep a diary whenever I go on holiday, so that I can note down memories, and then look back and relive them in the future. For this *very important* role, I need a notebook with fairly small lines, and one that won’t be easily damaged by travel. This has a plastic cover layer on front and back, so it will be pretty well-protected, and the spiral bindings are perfect: no spine to break. And who ever has enough cute stationery?

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TRESemmé Heat Defence Styling Spray:

I recently bought myself a curling wand – post probably coming soon – and so needed to find myself a heat protectant pretty sharpish. I’ve never used heat on my hair before (except very occasionally a hair dryer) and so had no idea where to look or what would be good. I strode into Boots, pretending I knew what the hell I was doing, and went with my gut – I knew TRESemmé was a good brand, and so I thought it would be a pretty safe bet. Totally right. It absolutely does the job – I’ve been using the wand a lot, to get to grips with it, and it doesn’t show at all – and smells great too *bonus*. Not at all pricey either, but really does the trick. I’ve also used it a couple of times before blow drying and it creates a gorgeous super straight, super silky effect.

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Urban Outfitters Earrings:

I bought these pretty little studs a few weeks ago, for £6, when I discovered I was getting really bored of my earrings. I needed studs – damn school! – but couldn’t find nice ones anywhere, until I popped into UO and spotted these. They’re so pretty, and very practical, and I just love how the iridescent glass centres shine different shades of blue and green depending on the light. Perfect for everyday wear, and brightening up a boring day at school.

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Green & Spring Relaxing Hand Cream:

I love me a nice hand cream, especially during winter, and this is a good ‘un. I was given it for Christmas, and *what can you really say about a hand cream?* it works, it smells great; I’d definitely recommend it.

 

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The Night Manager:

This is basically my new TV obsession. It’s a spy kinda thriller, on BBC One, Sunday evenings, and I am completely hooked. Helped in no small way by the presence/face of Tom Hiddleston, who I was never a particularly a fan of, though I most certainly am now… Seriously though, it’s not just a pretty face, the series is bloody good so far, and features the amazing Olivia Colman which is always a bonus. I’d definitely recommend heading to iPlayer and catching up.

 

Skins:

Still on the TV front, Skins has basically taken over my life at the moment. I completely missed it when it was actually on (2006-2013 I think), as I was too young, but now I’m definitely making up for lost time by bingeing on 4oD, or whatever the hell it’s called now. It follows a group of teenagers in Bristol, and is very real and fairly gritty, though I probably don’t need to give you a synopsis: I think I’m literally the last person in the world to watch it! Seriously good though – I’ve just finished the second series, out of 7.

 

The 1975:

Musically, The 1975 were my main new find this month. They’re not really the style I usually listen to, but I went to see them a few days ago with couple of friends, so I thought I’d better get lyric-learning, and I’ve definitely turned into a fan. They’re the kind of band that are amazing to see live; they absolutely have the best vibe, and there was a lot of dancing. I’m now obsessed, I think. Have any of you ever seen them live?

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That’s all my favourites from last month – I know they’re quite late, but the weather wasn’t co-operating for photos, so… blame Mother Nature. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post, and do let me know what you were loving last month (or right now!).

Lots of love,

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PS. As always, all photos used are my own.

An Assortment of Awards

Hello my lovelies,

It’s awards time! I’m afraid my backlog of awards is just too big to be attempted without seriously endangering both my and your health, so I’ve decided that I’m going to completely clear the slate, and start again from now. I’m so sorry to anyone who has nominated me for awards I haven’t done; I am extremely grateful for them – they make me feel appreciated, and happy – I’ve just let my crappy organisational skills get the better of me. Surprise surprise. Totally don’t have a track record of this. I’m sorry guys.

And now, here are a few recent awards:

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Sunshine Blogger Award:

I was nominated for this award by the freakin’ fabulous Okaaythen.

1. What do you think happens after death?

Honestly, I’d like to say I think we all go to a place of sweetness and light, of marshmallows and white Christmases, cherry blossom and endless pristine sandy beaches. I’d love to really believe that. But I don’t. Harsh as it sounds, when we die I think that’s it – oblivion. It’s bloody terrifying but I think that just means you have to make the most of life while it’s here, however long or short a time that might be. There’s no point living as though there’s more to come, because what if there isn’t? Then that’s just a life wasted. *hands up if you didn’t expect this post to turn into a philosophical discussion. Me too. Always unexpected, I am*

2. Your favourite food?

Food being one of the things I love best in the world, you can believe me when I say that this is a question I have considered countless times, and it doesn’t ever get less agonising. Dish-wise, I’d say lasagne, but the individual food category is wide open: ice cream, bacon, ginger cookies, bagels, yorkshire pudding, sausages…- It goes on.

3. What’s in your five year plan?

So this is when we expose the fact that I am completely unorganised and unprepared and I basically just don’t have a clue about life. Oops… I’m winging it guys! Well, I guess the next five years are pretty much just education for me – after this year, there’ll be another year of GCSEs, then 2 of A-Levels, and then uni, with possibly a gap year in between. I’d like to study English Lit at the moment, but let’s face it, anything could happen.

4. Ten year plan?

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I gave the last one a pretty good stab, but I honestly haven’t a clue about a ten year plan. Am I meant to? Okay, let’s try: I’ll go to uni and then take a gap year, rather than one before. In my gap year I’ll save to go travelling (India, Nepal, Tibet, China?), gain some work experience, possibly in law or at a newspaper, and also live in Paris for a good few months, if my French allows. Basically the full gap year cliche. Then I’ll either do a law conversion course and become a criminal law or human rights barrister, or I’ll go into journalism. At least, that’s what interests me at the moment. Like I said though, anything could happen.

5. Do you think the education system at the moment is adequate?

In this country, yes. Or at least, in my experience. It’s not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I would call it adequate. And it is evolving and *hopefully* improving all the time. Elsewhere in the world, however, the standard of education is terrifying. I’m not going to get properly started on this now, but corruption in education, the denying of an education for girls, and the prejudice taught in some places disgusts me. A good education is the most valuable tool, and it is absolutely unfair that some people are never given it.

6. If you ruled the world, what would you do?

Crack down on institutionalised misogyny, ban war, and make doughnuts free for all.

7. What inspires you?

Nature, Amal Clooney (perfect life, am I right?) and those who stand up against oppression and injustice.

8. What’s holding you back at the moment?

A combination of laziness, insecurity and lack of sleep. It’s not ideal, but most of it is my fault.

9. What makes you happy?

The stars, strangers being nice, my family and friends, and food.

10. What colour is your hair?

This is actually a hard one for me – my hair itself doesn’t really know. It’s currently working its way from blonde to brown, so I’d say a warm light brown. I wish it would make its mind up.

I nominate:

Happyalexx

Dziey

Just Average Teen Me

Vengeance Wears Black

My questions:

  1. What is your most precious possession?
  2. If you could make one permanent change to the world, what would it be?
  3. You’re in jail. Why are you there?
  4. Top 3 favourite women in the world.
  5. If you could, would you go to space?
  6. What is your favourite memory?
  7. Fame or fortune?
  8. First musician/band you saw live?

 

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Liebster Award:

I was nominated by wideandawake, who I suggest you follow now.

1. What or who inspired you for blogging?

Reading Girl Online probably gave me the idea, but I wouldn’t say I see Zoe Sugg as an inspiration. My main inspirations are probably the lovely people I have encountered daily on WordPress, who run blogs with humour, compassion and creativity.

2. Your favorite music genre?

I’d say I listen to indie rock mainly, but I have a very eclectic style – jazz and musicals are ever-present on my Spotify.

3. What character do you despise the most of people?

If this is characteristic, then I’d say arrogance, without a doubt. Followed by prejudice, of any kind. Both are immediate turn-offs, and I have been known to literally walk away from people who display theses traits. Got no time for big egos and stupid assumptions.

4. Favorite leisure activities?

Listening to music, singing, reading, watching films, concerts, dinner out with my friends.

5. One dream you know is impossible?

To be given Gigi Hadid’s face/body. Just imagine.

6. Your dream destination?

A big bucket list holiday would be New York, and also a big trip to Asia, which I mentioned as a gap year idea.

7. Worst or weirdest habits?

Endlessly clicking my thumbs, “forgetting” to get dressed at weekends, procrastination, biting my fingernails.

8. Books you love the most?

A full post on my top 10 can be found here, though I’m already rethinking it! This is a crazily hard question for any book lover.

9. Favorite quote?

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” – the magnificent Les Miserables.

10. Best experience?

Too hard. SO hard. Possibly when I went up Mount Etna last summer – it’s an incredible place, and the feeling of being literally on the edge of the craters of a volcano is indescribable. Or possible seeing The Vaccines live in November.

I nominate:

ParisianPages

TheAmbivert123

DiaryOfALonelyGirl

My questions are the same as the questions I wrote for the previous award.

 

And that’s us done! Congratulations if you managed to slog through the previous 1158 words of this post, I seem to have got slightly carried away.

Lots of love as always,

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5-Minute Everyday Makeup

Hello my lovelies,

As you know, I’m not an organised person. I’m not good at planning ahead or scheduling things, and above all, I am not a morning person. Which means that 5 days a week, the first part of my day is an extremely stressful race against time, trying to cut every possible corner in order to avoid detention at school. And this in turn, means that makeup is not a priority of mine. In fact, often it doesn’t happen at all, but when it does, it cannot take more than about 7 minutes, and must be able to be applied while also brushing my hair, putting my earrings in and collecting the textbooks I’ll need for the day. So you could say I’ve become a kind of speedy makeup expert and today, I thought I’d share my quick and easy everyday makeup. It can fit into any morning routine, no matter how rushed, and I thought it might be helpful to any of you out there who value your sleep in the mornings and consequently don’t have the time or patience for complex blending or the precise (and often frustrating) art that is the construction of the perfect cat-eye liner. It’s an extremely natural, fresh look and just really brightens a face in the morning, and is perfect for school.

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– As I don’t wear foundation or a heavy base, I just whack on some moisturiser (Simple Hydrating Lotion) and then start with my eyes. If you prefer to do the whole foundation/contouring/powder malarkey, slot that in here, but bear in mind that it will eat up valuable time.

– On my eyes, I first create a base by swiping on a matte brown colour, nothing too dark, all across the lid. This just evens out the colour of the skin, but shouldn’t show up too much. I’ll then use a shimmery gold colour (nice and bright), sweeping it across most of the lid, as I have quite deep-set eyes and so they need brightening. Otherwise, just concentrate the colour towards the inner half of the lid, but it’s not a particularly precise art. Finally, use a darker gold colour on the outer corner, and through the crease, but not too heavily, as this is a bright, fresh look rather than a smoky eye. The darker shadow simply adds a little depth. All three shades came from my Sleek iDivine Storm Palette.

    

– I don’t usually use eye liner in this look – takes too long! – and so I’ll move straight on to mascara here, but if you have a bit more time, I’d recommend a brown kohl pencil. I use the Maybelline Lash Sensational, just on the upper lashes.

– Next I swipe on a little concealer beneath my eyes, to cancel out any dark circles, and then I blend it in quickly with my ring finger – ain’t nobody got time for unnecessary brushes on a school morning! I usually use the Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer (which is great for brightening, though I don’t really get spots, so I don’t know what the coverage is like for blemishes) but I’ve just run out, so unfortunately I don’t have a picture.

– After concealer, I’ve recently discovered the transformative powers of a little dab of blush. It can take you from zombie to actual-alive-human-being just like that, and that is definitely useful to me at 7:30 on a school morning! I love the MUA blushes – I’ve been using the shade “Cupcake” and applying a little (little being a key word here) to the apples of my cheeks with a kabuki brush, for a pretty healthy flush.

– Finally, another new find – highlighting. There is absolutely no way that I would ever attempt something terrifying such as contouring, so take it from me that highlighting is absolutely not intimidating, and pretty much fool-proof. If I can do it, anyone can. Like with blush, the key is to have a light hand, and apply in direct light, so you can see where the light would naturally hit you. Just a little bit of shimmer across the tops of your cheekbones is what we’re looking for here, not a human glitterball.

– And you’re done! I usually avoid anything too drastic on lips, as it looks very obvious, and needs touching up throughout the day, which isn’t really feasible at school. Also, lipstick on teeth is a very real problem… So I usually stick to a plain lip balm, or my Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lip Gloss in the shade “Afternoon Tea”.

I hope this was useful – this makeup has truly served me well and with practice can definitely be completed in about 5 minutes. Let me know what your day-to-day routine is, and if you have any other tips on saving time in the morning, do leave a comment! In fact, that might be an upcoming post… We’ll see! Anyway, thank you for reading, hopefully it will help some of you with your morning traumas.

Lots of love,

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Happy Birthday, Blog!

Hello my lovelies,

As I’m sure is evident from the title, IT’S THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY BLOG! In fact, true to form, I’ve managed to display my disorganisation once again – the big day was yesterday, but I’ve only managed to channel my excitement into words today. Yes, I forgot my little baby’s first birthday (can’t you just tell I’ll be a fabulous mother *sarcasm*). It’s a bit shameful, really… But here I am, a day late, to celebrate belatedly.

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It seems absolutely bizarre and a little bit crazy (but in a totally fantastic way) that My Teenage Madness is now a whole year old. It’s been a whole year of my rambling posts, nonsense rants, and pathetic attempts at fashion and beauty. A whole year of reading other blogs, meeting fabulous new people and finding a truly supportive community that make me feel incredible. Yes it’s mushy, but it’s also true. I can’t really express just how glad I am that I decided to go for it, and register 365 days ago (well, 366, but shh). If I hadn’t taken that step, I wouldn’t have realised just how fun the blogosphere was, and how lovely those who inhabit it were. And now, slightly unbelievably, there are 267 of you, and counting. Whether you’ve been around for the whole year, or just a day, or a week, you are so, so welcome here, in my strange little corner of cyberspace. 267 people who each took time to decide my blog was worth that little click of support, the virtual pat on the back – and that means a hell of a lot, I promise you. Thank you.

And so, to mark this pretty significant milestone, I decided to look over and attach some of my favourite posts from the year; some of the ones that I’ve most enjoyed writing, and those that I’m simply really proud of. It’s nice to have a reminisce sometimes.

Winter Skincare Essentials

50 Things That Make Me Happy

A Weekend In Brighton

Labels & Assumptions

Exploring King’s Road, Chelsea

Why I Love Autumn

Makeup-less and Loving It!

Kind of a Massive Rant… Sorry!

Some of these are really quite ancient, and pretty embarrassing, but what’s a birthday without a bit of humiliation, eh? Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane, and thank you once again for all your support! I’m pretty proud I’ve made it this far, and I’d say at least 90% of that is down to you guys.

Lots of love,

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6 Blogging Mistakes To Avoid

Hello my lovelies,

So I’ve been doing this for a while – I wouldn’t say I’m experienced, but I’ve had nearly a whole year on here to make and observe mistakes, so I thought today I’d share some of the mistakes that you should avoid at all costs, and therefore some of the things that I think make a good blog. Obviously it’s completely subjective, but I’ve read a hell of a lot of blogs, and here are some of my absolute no-no’s: the things that will even push me to hit the unfollow button. *takes a little bow as you all gasp in shock* I know. I’m savage.

  1. Putting quantity over quality. This is probably the biggest one. There is nothing worse than posting every day but badly, rather than producing interesting, engaging posts once or twice a week. There are exceptions – I can think of many blogs that post very often, but that are always wonderful – so don’t think that you can’t post frequently, just bear in mind that you don’t have to. Post when you have good ideas, however often that may be, rather than when you think you should be posting. Your content is so important, so don’t just churn out rubbish that wastes your reader’s time.
  2. Spelling mistakes. Every so often, a little slip up is absolutely fine, but constant typos kill me. They’re just so irritating and it doesn’t look like you spend time on your content. Take the time to spell check and read through your posts before clicking “publish” and I promise you will seem 1o times more professional. (Totally stressing out now that I’m a complete hypocrite and this post is full of mistakes…)
  3. If you’re going to comment on other blogs promoting your own, do it tastefully. Let’s face it. Those “This post was great! I love it! Please check out my blog” comments never made anyone check out a blog. So why keep doing it? I totally understand wanting to publicise your blog, but in my opinion, the best way to do that is actually just to be active on other people’s. Leave genuine comments and respond to posts, and you are far more likely to get people’s attention, and for much nicer reasons. Spam ain’t cool.
  4. Leaving template pages up. Common mistake, this one. Check that all your pages are ones that you have added and written on, rather than empty templates set up by WordPress.
  5. In a similar vein, not writing an About page. Basically I am very nosy – I like to know a little bit about the person behind the blog, even if they’re anonymous and to feel like they’re an actual person, rather than just words and posts. The little snippet of who you are makes the blog so much more personal, and actually “About” pages are one of the things that most often prompt me to follow a blog – there are some really quirky and hilarious ones out there. It also helps people to understand what your blog is all about, and what they can expect to see on it, and therefore if they want to see more. It’s something you can edit and update at any time, so don’t feel stressed or intimidated by having to try and sum up your blog and condense your personality into a couple of paragraphs. Just realised I made that seem a whole lot more intimidating so… oops! No pressure 😉
  6. Not interacting with the community. Replying to comments, and being active in reading other people’s blogs is so important. You’ll meet great people, find great blogs, and make a much more positive impression on people who find your blog. It’s all about give and take – you can’t expect people to read your blog, if you never read anyone else’s, and if you want people to support you when you need it, you should do the same for them. And plus, this community is bloody fabulous. So joining it will be something you will never regret.

So there we go – some common blog mistakes that I suggest you check you’re not guilty of! Honestly, sometimes it’s such simple little things that make a blog seem immediately more polished, or interesting. Obviously there are much bigger things like blog design that also play a part, not to mention the actual content, but I don’t really feel like I’m qualified to criticise or give advice in those departments, especially seeing as my blog design is truly atrocious. What I can do, however, is let you know what (as a reader) makes me cringe a little bit; just small things that are so so easy to both avoid and fix. I hope this was helpful!

Lots of love,

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PS. Just realised this was my first ever little foray into the world of blogging about blogging. How adventurous!

PPS. Featured image is mine, of course.

Spread The Love

Hello my lovelies,

The idea for this post came yesterday, when I realised that people don’t always know how much we appreciate them. I was giving my mum a hug – she’s fabulous, so why not? – and she asked, slightly surprised, what had prompted it. It made me stop for a minute, to think that she might not realise that I just think she’s generally great, and that’s reason enough, and then I realised that there are probably a lot of people in our lives who are in the same situation.

Do you actually tell your siblings that you love them? Or do you just assume they will know? Do your friends know just how important they are to you? What about people who have helped you online? An author who wrote a book that changed your life? Have you told them?

Because of this little epiphany, I’ve resolved to do much more to show people how much I love them, or how much they’ve helped me, and I think you should do the same. Chances are, your friends probably know they’re a huge part of your life, but it absolutely doesn’t hurt to make sure, and no one will ever mind being told that they are loved. Today, I challenge you to tell some people how fabulous they are. Spread the love, and brighten someone else’s day. Give people the recognition they deserve, and don’t just presume that they are already aware of what they’ve done for you.

Specifically, here are some things that I think it would be great if we could all do, today. Each one will just take a few seconds of your life, but it’ll make all the difference.

  1. Visit a blog that you really enjoy/admire/just generally love. Leave them a lovely, really sincere comment, letting them know how great you think their site is.
  2. Comment on a post, recommending another blogger that you think deserves more recognition. We’re all very keen to gain followers for ourselves, and you see many bloggers commenting on posts to attract viewers to their own page, but never for someone else. Try that today, by recommending someone else’s blog to people you think will appreciate them, or even write a whole post listing different bloggers who deserve more love. I’m going to be doing just that very soon.
  3. Is there someone who’s really inspired you/changed your life? If they’re someone close to you, like a parent, then let them know today. Or was there a comedian who really got you through a dark time? An author who changed your perspective on the world? An actor who inspired you to do what you love and have more confidence in yourself? Write them a letter – they’ll almost certainly have a PO box or agent that you can send it to.
  4. Go give your sibling a hug. Right now. For absolutely no reason, other than that you love them. You can come back to this post in a minute. Or at least, you’d better 😉
  5. No sibling? Give your pet some love.
  6. Text your friends. Tell them you don’t know what you’d do without them, and add a lot of heart emojis to the message. You can never go wrong with emojis. I’ve just sent mine.
  7. Imagine that today was your last day on Earth. You wouldn’t want to leave knowing that there were people who didn’t know how much you appreciate them, so take this opportunity to fill them in.

I know this post is completely random, and utterly out of the blue, but I just realised how little I actually vocalise my love and admiration for people. And that definitely isn’t a good thing, because there are so many people who deserve to know. It’ll make you happy too: I’m currently watching as my phone buzzes with replies from my friends, telling me they love me too, and it’s a pretty darn good feeling.

So, off you go guys.

Lots of love,

xxxxxxxxxxxx

PS. If this does inspire you to write any kind of post, do use the tag “spreadthelove” so that I can see it, or link it back to this post, but I’m not trying to turn this into a project or award, or something.

PPS. The featured image (obviously) isn’t mine.

My Ten Favourite Books

Hello my lovelies,

Long time no see, right? 15 days, to be precise – which isn’t a great way to follow up a goals post in which I wrote that I was planning on trying to post much more frequently… Well, we’re all human, aren’t we? I don’t know why, but inspiration just hasn’t been striking, and I really just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to post (the number of times I’ve tried to start a post today is insane). I’m sure you’ll understand – sometimes we all need a little time away – but I think I’m back now, and I’m sorry for neglecting your blogs disgracefully.

Today, I’d share with you my favourite 10 books, ever – which is so hard, that it’s actually a pretty fitting punishment for my absence on here! I’m a huge reader, and so this will be a post that you can be sure has tortured me to write – there are far too many that I’d like to include, and I feel so ruthless having to chop my list down to a mere 10. *this list is in no particular order, but simply a compilation of my favourite 10 novels. It was hard enough to get it down to ten, let alone then put them in order. Have pity*

I’ll get right into it, before I lose my nerve:

*Disclaimer: this list is likely to be out of date in about a week, as I am constantly reading new books and changing my mind, so stay tuned for further book recommendation/favourites posts in the future.*

  1. Emma by Jane Austen. This is a nice easy way to start the list – I knew as soon as I started this book that it was going to be one of my favourites, and it is definitely deserving of the top spot. Some of you will know that I absolutely love Jane Austen, but this has got to be my favourite, and so I’ve decided (for the sake of variety) not to include any of her other novels on this list.
  2. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I’d be lying if I didn’t include this somewhere. Harry Potter was a huge part of my childhood – I was one of those kids who cried on their 11th birthday because I didn’t get a Hogwarts letter – and these books will always be a form of comfort reading to me. I know them so well that it requires zero effort to re-read them, so they’re perfect for when I’m ill, or sad. JK Rowling created them most perfect world, and it’s lovely still to escape there sometimes.
  3. The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Another absolutely charming series – more comfort reading. I love these books so much, and they’re a lot less well known than my previous two picks. They follow the same extended family through the 1930s and ’40s, so you see all the children grow up, and really become invested in all their lives. It’s almost like a soap opera in book form, but a lot better.
  4. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. Daphne DuMaurier’s books are incredible – so haunting and eerie, and Rebecca (probably her most famous novel) is no different. Do not read this alone at night, however!
  5. Tamar by Mal Peet. Mal Peet is hands down my absolute favourite “young adult” author. Tamar is an incredible book, though I haven’t read it for a few years, and it had me in absolute floods of tears. Read it. I also have to slightly cheat and mention another of his books, which really should be on this list – Life: An Exploded Diagram, set in the Cold War. I re-read this very recently, and it definitely does stand up to another reading.
  6. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. My all-time favourite children’s book (if I don’t include HP). It’s actually a fairly old one, from 1946, but it’s the one that made the greatest impression on me, with its host of amazing characters – Marmaduke Scarlet, anyone? It is still worth reading it, even if you’re an adult, or teen, for sure.
  7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Who doesn’t love this classic? Scout is so sweet, and has such a great sense of indignation about her, that you can’t help but love her.
  8. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. This book basically broke my heart. But in the most perfect way. It took me a while to get going with it, but hell, it was worth it.
  9. Atonement by Ian McEwan. Again, a heart-breaker (anyone seeing a pattern yet?) and one that left me literally sobbing my eyes out. You just become so invested in the characters that some of the events completely kill you.
  10. A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Definitely my favourite of the Dickens’ I’ve read. The characters are much more real and seem so much less fictional than some of his others, if you know what I mean… I just identify with them and understand them more.
  11. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Kind of breaking the rules here *rebel* but I had to give an honorary mention to this book, which was a huge challenge, but a challenge I absolutely adored. I reviewed it fully, here.

So there we go: my ordeal is over, and I’ve *pretty much* managed to decide my top 10 books. Have you read any of my picks? What are your favourite books? Leave me a comment to let me know! Don’t forget to give this a like if you enjoyed it (I went through a lot to produce this post, remember ;D).

Lots of love,

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New Year, Better Me

Hello my lovelies,

And a very, very late Happy New Year to you all. I honestly hope that 2016 brings you all you hope it will.

I really don’t buy into the whole “New Year, New Me” malarkey (though I understand the sentiment) because if you’re reinventing yourself completely every year, what’s the point of the previous year, and all that it has taught you? Instead, I prefer the idea of “New Year, Better Me” – using the lessons of the year before, and the things you’ve discovered about yourself to develop as a person, and grow, rather than starting again from scratch.

In the spirit of this kind of growth and personal development, I thought I’d share my goals and resolutions for 2016 with you, a mixture of big and more trivial things.

  1. Drink more water. I have this weird thing where I don’t get thirsty, and this usually means that I don’t bother to drink – I’m pretty much a camel. This can’t be good for my body, skin or brain function, so this year I’m aiming to down a load more of the stuff.
  2. Read more. I’ve always loved reading: it makes me happy, calms me down, and gives me a place to escape to when things get too much. In short, it makes me a better person. But last year, I feel like my reading got rather neglected, in the face of a lot more work, and a lot more time wasted on the internet. So for 2016, I’m really going to try and bring books back into my life, properly.
  3. Run more often. As above, running makes me happier, calmer and gives me a chance to sort things out in my head, and think things over. The rhythm of my feet helps me to block other things out, and properly get into my brain – it’s very therapeutic. Being the lazy procrastinator I am, however, has led to many fewer runs than I’d like, and this is going to change. I’m going to try and get out (no matter how long for) and pound the pavements at least once a week.
  4. Live for me. This is a rather more general goal than the others, and one I really do need to work for. I have the tendency to edit my actions, speech and the opportunities I take because of what I think other people want or think of me. I need to learn to disregard others (in the nicest way possible) and live life for me, doing what I want, regardless of what that means people will think of me. It’s my life, and I don’t want to look back on this period in 10 years time, and regret the fact that self-consciousness stopped me from doing things that are important to me.
  5. Practice yoga more often. I really struggle with stress, and so a lot of these resolutions are aimed towards bringing more calm and peace into my life. I go to a yoga class once a week, but I’d like to bring it home more as well, just for a few minutes, as often as possible. It works magic on my state of mind.
  6. Blog more. Blogging this year, has been much too sporadic, and whilst I’m never going to be the type who posts every day (mine just isn’t that kind of blog) this year I’m aiming for a solid two posts a week. This will give some kind of regularity to my blog, but not be too suffocating or pressurised.
  7. Reach 500 followers. This would be an absolute dream for me, though the quality of my content is much more important to me than my numbers. I’m currently at about 217, so I think it is just about achievable, but still a long, long way off.
  8. Cut down on mindless internet usage. I’m on my phone way too often, and it takes me away from other things, that would ultimately bring me more happiness, and a calmer outlook on life. Watching endless videos, spending too long on social media, and pointless internet browsing are all going to be left in 2015. Of course there’s nothing wrong with a bit of Instagram and Snapchat, and I’ll obviously still be on WordPress, but wasting time and procrastinating online has got to stop. I have a life to live, for goodness sake!
  9. See things through other people’s eyes. Before I speak, judge or do things, I’m going to try and consider things from other people’s shoes. Before I get annoyed with my mum nagging, remember that she’s trying to help, and she honestly cares for me. Before I pass someone off as boring, consider that they could be shy. Before I laugh at a joke at someone else’s expense, think whether they’ll see it as a joke too, or if it’ll hurt.
  10. Love myself. This year, I’m going to stay positive, and cut out the self-hate. It’s the most important thing of all. Because what’s the point of empty self-loathing? Embrace what’s good about yourself, and if there are people getting in the way of that, then cut them out of your life too! Simple as. A positive mindset is all you need to be happy, ultimately. I need to give myself a break.

So, that’s how I’m going to become a better version of myself this year. What about you? Why not note down 10 things you’re going to try and improve, whether they’re big, or tiny. Or alternatively, let me know with a comment down below.

Lots of love, and the good luck for the year ahead.

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