Monday 27 April 2020

Four blog posts you should read in lockdown

Today I decided to do something a little bit different, and share with you all some of my most loved bloggers and posts I’ve been reading recently, but with a little twist. Rather than just sharing a list of names and links, I’ll be sharing some of their recent posts that are relevant to now. Be it advice on how to cope, some movie inspiration, or some yummy treats you can whip up in your kitchen I’ll be sharing content to (hopefully) help you manage the current craziness of this world.

First up is Leo, from Leo The Anxious Teacher. Much like myself (and many others I’m sure) Leo is finding that the days since lockdown begun have blended together, making it difficult to keep track of time. With time having very little meaning at the moment it can be difficult to stay productive and keep our minds active. Whilst there is obviously no pressure to be productive at all, if all you manage to do today is brush your teeth and drag yourself to the sofa to watch Netflix that’s absolutely fine, sometimes it’s a good way to pass the time.

If you want to fill your days with a little more productivity, or perhaps just feel a little better I would recommend giving her post “My top 5tips for being productive during isolation” a read. From suggestions as simple as remembering to get dressed all the way up to Open University courses there’s a range of ideas to suit how productive you’re feeling that day.

One of the suggestions given by Leo is to start a bullet journal. For inspiration, suggestions on supplies or even just to look at some beautiful and colourful images, I’d recommend you head over to Hello Bexa. Her posts are always packed with vibrant colour and her latest post, a stationary box swap is just perfect at the moment. Not only do you get to have some time doing something creative, but a stationary swap means you and a loved one can gift each other a batch of stationary supplies, keep in touch and bring some joy to each other.

Next up is a guide to the perfect pamper night by the lovely Esther Wyse. If you’ve managed to have a full and productive day why not reward yourself and unwind with an evening of self-care? If you’ve not managed anything productive, you deserve a pamper evening too. Rewarding yourself for achievements both big and small or simply being kind to yourself is something I endorse, plus a little relaxation will help set you up with a calmer mind-set. If you fancy some snacks during your chilled evening, Esther has also recently shared a recipe for banana bread, which having tried over the weekend I can confirm is amazing!

Something that Esther mentions in her post is to choose your film ahead of time, so all you need to do is press play when it comes to your pamper evening. I myself am sometimes guilty of scrolling through Netflix for hours and hours, and then not being able to watch the film I’ve eventually chosen because it’s too late  in the evening by then. If you are the same, or perhaps stuck for suggestions on what to watch the lovely Jordanne over at Life of a Glasgow Girl has put together a list of girly movies to watch.  

I always opt for a chick-flic or ‘girly’ film if I’m in need of some easy watching, something that doesn’t take too much brain power and I can relax to. With her list of 432 movies you’ll be sure to find something to watch in this extensive list. If a girly movie isn’t quite what you fancy Jordanne has also put together an extensive list of TV series to watch on Netflix as well, which includes a range of genres.

So, if you are looking for some new blogs or posts to read, especially now that we’ve all got some more time on our hands I highly recommend checking these out.

What are your favourite posts you’ve read recently?


Friday 17 April 2020

10 Things I'm Excited For

With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, I feel it’s important to try and stay as positive as possible. Not the easiest thing to do given that this somewhat shitty situation doesn’t feel all that positive a lot of the time. Pandemic and lockdown can feel a little over whelming at times, and I feel that giving ourselves things to look forward to can help give some positive focus for the future. After all, as much as it can feel like it on some days, this isn’t going to last forever. There will be a point where all this becomes a memory to look back on and is no longer our present.

That being said, it is our present right now, and one thing I’m trying to do it focus in all of the things I’m looking forward to. Things I’ll be able to do when this is over and life has returned to ‘normal’. Whatever normal that may be.

Go for a walk with Katie
We only live a few minutes’ walk away from each other, and used to go on little walks in the woods together when the weather was nice. We’re both going on walks every now and then, but obviously not together at the moment. Whilst I am still enjoying my walks solo, I do miss having the time for us to catch up so that’s something I’m looking forward to picking back up when this is over. Who knows, we may even have new routes to show each other by then!

Hug my friends
I’m a very outwardly affectionate person, so not being able to go near my friends when they drop food off feels very strange to me. I’m actually excited for the day I can go out and give them a hug.

See Maria
Maria has been one of my closest friends for over a decade, and just before all this kicked off I went to see her as she was hosting a Body Shop party. All the bits I brought arrived at her house just after lockdown so she’s holding onto them for me. So when all this is over I get a large haul of new products AND I get to go spend some time catching up with one of my best friends.

Eat out
It’s not frequent that Mike and I actually eat out. We tend to either cook at home or have a take away, but I’m excited for an out of the house date night where we go somewhere.

Get some more tattoos & piercings
It’s typical that now is the time I’m coming up with more inspiration and ideas of tattoos I want. I had my next piece, for my forearm planned out already but I’ve added loads more for various parts of my body. The same goes for piercings. I keep playing with the idea of snake bites or a single side labret piecing, as well as plenty in the ears and maybe even another one on my tongue? It’s an ever growing list, and I can’t wait to get some of them ticked off.

Get married
Due to lockdown our UK wedding has been pulled, this was going to be the legal bit in the registry office but the pretty side of the wedding, with the dress and the vows and the wedding party and such hadn’t been pulled but is still very much at risk. It’s likely that we’ll have to rearrange both of them for…. Some point in the future. Whenever we are able to I suppose. We’ve obviously been excited to get married for the past year, so that period of excitement is just going to have to extend a little longer.

Have a night out at our old haunts
There are many places we love to go on nights out in Norwich, and obviously they are all closed at the moment. Hopefully they’ll all be able to re-open and when they do we’ll be there!

Go on a holiday
We haven’t actually had a holiday abroad for a few years now, but it was something we were wanting to do this year. Obviously we’re going away to America with our friends, although the dates might change, but we’d also like to go abroad just the two of us.  

Have a girls night
As much as we are still in regular contact I do miss my girls. We’ve all decided that when everything is safe we’ll have a girls night together. I’m meaning the type with loungewear, crappy films, loads of snacks and a few bottles of wine. Although we’ll probably have a night out on the town to throw some shapes together too.

Spontaneous adventures
A lot of the time Mike and I will just decide out of the blue to do something or go somewhere and then just do it. Other than Boots we don’t have any commitments that really restrict us so we can just get up and go. Obviously we can’t at the moment, so I’m looking forward to being able to get back to that.

There are obviously many, many more things I’m excited for, but there’s my top ten that I’m really looking forward to at the moment.

What are you most looking forward to?


Monday 13 April 2020

Sigma Brush Cleaning Bundle

Ah.... brush cleaning... my least favourite job. I love having fresh new make up brushes to use, but I always find it a massive effort to get them that way. Plus, as I would typically wear make up daily, I always find myself needing something from the not quite dry yet half of my brush collection.

Given that we are currently in lockdown and I’m no longer leaving the house, I’m giving my skin a break and not wearing make up at the moment. This means it’s the perfect time to stop procrastinating, pull out every brush I own and restore them back to being clean, shiny and new. As my existing brush cleaner was quite old, and not quite strong enough to properly remove my more stubborn make up, I decided to invest in some more and went for the Sigma Beauty brush cleanser trio. 

The price was a little more steep than I would typically go for a cleaner, at £33.95 from Beauty Bay, but don’t forget, it is a trio, so works out at a little over £11 per cleaning item.

Item number one of this bundle is the SigMagic Scrub. This is a two in one product all on its own with a solid soap like scrub which works together with the silicone texture to really help dislodge tougher make up. It’s essentially  a bar of soap with an in built cleaning pad. It also has three little suction cups on the bottom so you can secure it to the inside of your sink while cleaning.

Next up is the SigMagin Brish Shampoo Liquid. This is the original formula, designed with the thought of every day cleaning in mind.

Last but no least is the SigMagic Brush Shampoo Foam. This is essentially the same formula as the liquid, but in a foam form, which is probably more practical for me in terms of a quick clean, as it can be applied directly to your brushes.

So how do they work? The all natural formulas work to gently dissolve bacteria and product build up, which will not only help with make up application, but also helps your skin as you aren’t using dirty brushes on it. 

When I came to clean all my brushes I put a couple of squirts of the liquid formula in a clean jar and topped up with warm water. The liquid bubbled up, almost like a washing up liquid and I dumped my dirtier brushes straight in to soak. I was amazed (and slightly disgusted) at how quickly the water changed colour as the formula immediately set to work at dislodging my make up, along with whatever grime was lurking in my brushes.

For the majority of my brushes, just soaking them was enough to get them clean. All that was needed was a thorough rinse under the tap and they were perfectly clean and ready to be put on the windowsill to dry. Some of my denser brushes, or one rather mucky foundation brush that had been lost in my makeup draw for who knows how long needed a little more love. For these I switched to the foam, along with my textured silicone brush cleaning pad which worked a treat at removing the final traces of makeup.

I didn’t end up needing the scrub in the end, so will probably use that for quick cleans, while the other two will be more for deep cleans. Given how easy and hassle free the cleaning process was, I won’t feel nearly as reluctant to do it on a much more regular basis. What’s more is once they had dried, my brushes were soft and fluffy, in the way that new brushes are. I’ve used brush cleaners in the past which have left my brushes kind of clumped together, which has subsequently meant I’ve thrown the brushes away as they were unusable.

All in all, my brushes have come up like new, with very little time or effort required, and now I have a full set of beautiful clean brushes to use. This makes this set a very worthwhile purchase in my book!

What products do you use to keep your beauty tools clean? 


Thursday 9 April 2020

Why Getting Out For Your Daily Exercise Is Important

To start off, I feel that I need to caveat this post by saying that I am not suggesting that you go outside for anything more than your one form of daily exercise. If you are one of those people lounging around in parks with your friends, or going to the beach amongst massive crowds of people, or having people over to your house to socialise; shame on you. Not only are you putting yourselves and others at risk, but you are prolonging the lockdown for everyone else. Few people like being confined to their homes, unable to see friends and family, but it is a necessary evil.

With that out of the way, let’s get to it. Within the UK the current ‘lockdown rules’ state that you can go outside for some form of exercise either alone or with members of your household once a day. When I was first sent to start working from home all the way back on the 17th March, I didn’t go out at all. I had my shopping dropped off by friends, and I wasn’t going outside for anything else.

This was fine for the first week, but as you would expect I slowly began to get more and more stir crazy. My sleeping pattern started to fall all over the place, with me staying up until the early hours because I wasn’t tired and couldn’t get to sleep. In the mornings I was struggling to get out of bed, probably because of my late night and poor quality sleep. On some days I was dragging myself out of bed just 10-15 minutes before I was supposed to be logged onto my computer and working. This meant that the start of my working day was sleepy and not particularly productive, as you would expect. Not to mention I was breaking my rules around working from home because I hadn’t even got dressed.

Sleep and work weren’t the only things I was suffering with. I was starting to suffer with lower back pain, as well as feeling generally lethargic and tired during the day. I record my daily steps on my Fitbit, and most days I was barely breaking 2,000 steps, which is significantly less than normal. All of this lumped together, along with the generic stress of what’s going in the world started to have a negative impact on my mood.

Our home backs onto a woodland with lots of various walking trails running through it, so one day when the sun was out I decided to pop out for a walk to get a little exercise and fresh air. I’d started off listening to music as I walked, but my phone died as I got onto one of the trails. I’m glad it did, because it meant I could enjoy the tranquillity of my walk. I didn’t come across a single person, and other than the odd bird chirping away or the rustle of leaves it was silent and peaceful.

That evening I slept far better than I had for the previous few weeks. Since then I’ve had a couple more walks and I’m really enjoying them. I’ve been going alone, which has been a nice way for Mike and I to have space from each other for a small amount of time. Not that we don’t enjoy each other’s company, we do, but I always feel that a little time apart is healthy in any relationship.

With more regular walks my back pain has started to subside, so I would imagine it was caused by inactivity along with lots more time sitting. My sleep is better as I’m feeling tired when it’s time to go to bed. I’ve even been hitting my daily step target on the days I’ve been out. Given that I’d usually be in the gym in the evening and am quite an active person, I’ll probably start switching up some of my walks to runs, to keep my cardio up, which will make me feel even better.

Now I know I’m lucky to live in close proximity to walking trails, and that a lot of people don’t. even so, I would still recommend you get out of the house for your daily exercise. Even if you weren’t an active person before, you probably still covered some ground walking to and from work or whatever mode of transport you used. You probably moved around a lot more at work than you are now if working from home. You don’t need to go on a long run or cycle, it can just be a short walk around the block, and it’ll do you some good.

I’m not suggesting daily exercise so much from a fitness point of view - although that is of course good too. Ultimately if isolation means we gain a little weight, it doesn’t matter, we are in the middle of a pandemic after all. For me, my daily walks are my chance for a tiny pocket of escapism, to help with my mental wellbeing, something that is very important for us all.

On the basis of how much it has helped improve how I’m feeling, I would suggest any one who hasn’t been using the allowance of a walk outside their home to do so. It goes without saying that you should adhere to the rules that come with it, and maintain good distance if you do come across other people while you are out and about. I would also recommend against touching anything. For example, I’ve been avoiding the paths that require me to go through a gate, simply because I have no idea who might have used it before me.

A simple walk outside might not fix all the anxiety a lot of people are feeling at the moment, but if there is a chance it will help, even just a little, it’s worthwhile giving it a try.


Saturday 4 April 2020

March Look back | 2020

I think it’s safe to say that March was a… let’s say turbulent month for many people. The start of the month was pretty normal for us here in Norwich UK, with the only real concern being that we had enough loo roll, which was the subject of many jokes at the time.

We kicked off the month by deciding to do something a little different, so myself and some friends went shooting (paper targets) set up a little fire and pulled out the camping gear which has been away since the end of summer. There’s something I find rather therapeutic about cooking outside on an open fire, and we all did a pretty good job with the shooting. I even won a few rounds (shameless bragging there) although didn’t do so well with a bow, as I wasn’t quite strong enough to draw it all the way back.

The following weekend I went to visit my good friend Maria for a Body Shop party. It was lovely to have a catch up, eat some cake and try out some lovely products. Naturally I have purchased a few bits, although it’s likely that I’m going to be waiting a little while for them. Luckily, the lovely consultant, Becky sent me away with a couple of sample pots for some of the items I wanted, so I’ve got a little bit of product while I wait for the full size versions.

Then, on the 16th of March, the UK government made the announcement that social distancing was now required. That meant pubs, restaurants and cinemas were to be heavily discouraged from that point on. A few of us got together that evening and went to Five Guys and then the cinema as little bit of a ‘last hurrah’ before everything went into shut down.  I’m very glad that we did, because everything seems to have escalated since then. That was the last time I left the house for anything that wasn't work, and that too changed very soon.

The following day I was instructed to work from home for the foreseeable, as my asthma puts me into the ‘high risk’ group. I had a strange last day in the office while our IT department ran around desperately trying to find me a laptop, and when one couldn’t be found it was decided that I would have the desktop and monitors from my desk instead. So I now have my full office set up on my dining table. I have worked form home in the past, so it’s not new to me, but it is for a lot of people. If you are among those working from home for the first time, I put together a little post with some tips, which you can find here if you fancy a read.

I had a bit of a wobble towards the end of the month, and that was because of our wedding. I was hopeful when I caught up with you that things would calm down and run smoothly, but then everything changed drastically in a very small space of time. It's looking more and more likely that we can’t get to America for our wedding, but we were hopeful that the legal side which was to take place here in the UK could still go ahead.

One of my colleagues who was getting married in the same week as us had his wedding ceremony cancelled, so had a little cry. Partly because that’s terrible news for him, but also because our ceremony is in the same city, and I feared that the same fate would meet our wedding too. Sadly that became the case, and on the 24th March we received the news that ours was cancelled as well.

It made for quite a sad evening and I had another little cry, but I’ve reminded myself this isn’t forever. This isn’t cancelled to never ever, ever happen, it’s just being postponed. We’re in the process of moving the American side of our wedding, so we’ll just have to incorporate the UK side in our re-shuffle too. As hard as it is, I’m determined to try and stay as upbeat and positive as possible.

For the remainder of my time I’ve been trying to keep active, both mentally and physically. I’ve re-potted some of my house plants, and planted a few new seeds as well, all of which are coming along nicely. I brought some paint, and started to up-cycle a few bits and pieces. I’ve even dug out my yoga matt and got into a little bit of a workout routine with it. Oh and the Netflix, I’ve caught up on so much Netflix!

It’s been a strange time, and it doesn’t look that April or the near future is going to be exactly 'normal' either. That makes it even more important to check in and take care of each other. That friend who seems to be struggling, call them. That friend that seems to be fine, call them too. Look after each other, take care, and remember that this weirdness isn’t forever.


Wednesday 1 April 2020

April Goals | 2020

My goals for March started off pretty well, and then for obvious reasons, certain roadblocks were hit that has made some of them a little more difficult to achieve. Even so I still cleared a lot of them, although I’m going to have to get creative with my April goals.

First things first, let’s have a look at what I managed last month;

Drink more water

Given all the time I am now spending at home, this has been pretty easy to achieve. I’ve been trying to ration my coffee, as I don’t know when we can get more so I’ve been switching to water instead.

Treat myself to a bath bomb once a week

I’ve managed this as part of my Sunday routine! Although I’m glad I cut some of the larger ones up, to get more uses out of them. It means they’ll last me much longer, as I don’t know how many weeks it’ll be until I can get more.

Face mask

Again, tick! I wanted to start working these into my Sunday routine, which I’ve done, but now that I’m working from home I have a little more time for skin care as well. Plus I’ve not been wearing make up most days, which I feel has helped my skin as well.

Gym routine

I started off really well, and was hitting my target of 2 classes a week, and getting some regular sessions in as well. After social distancing kicked in and our gym closed, I’ve not been able to go. I have however, been able to work out at home, and have been making use of the various videos on YouTube so I have still had some exercise.

Start my America wish list

This one is a bit of a kick in the teeth if I’m honest with you. I’ve got my list together, and I’ve even started ticking some bits off it. I’ve even written a post, that shares my list… but I don’t think we’ll be going to America. Our wonderful holiday with our friends, and our wedding just isn’t going to be possible. There is a teeny tiny chance that things will calm down by the time the end of May rolls around, which is when we are due to travel, but I’m feeling more and more doubtful each day.

Period delay

I actually had some help with this, within the comments of last month’s post no less! The lovely Alice in Sheffield left a helpful comment informing that there is a pill that can be used to delay periods, called Norethisterone. Which can even be purchased over the counter from Boots with pharmacist approval. Given that I am on the contraceptive implant, I’m not sure if that will stop them giving it to me. You can apply online, but given everything that is going on at the moment I’m leaving it be for the time being. They have far more important things to do at the moment than helping me delay a period. 

Blog stats

I’m really pleased with these. It was my goal to get over 1,500 views in the month, but I actually hit over 2,000! I guess this means my April goal needs to be 2,500, especially as people will be spending more time at home for the foreseeable future. Although I have to admit, it doesn’t feel entirely appropriate to write beauty based posts. It’s just not something that’s important at the moment.

Get outside

I did get outside a fair bit at the start of the month, but this trailed off towards the end as we slowly moved closer and closer to lock down. At least the start of the month was full of walks in the woods, shooting and campfires, so I feel like I got the most out  of our time of freedom.  For now, my time outside will just have to be my garden.

Now, on for my goals for April which I will likely need to review as and when things change, but these should be achievable in the current climate.

Drink more water

Given that I’m going to be spending all of my time at home, there is really no excuse to not up my water intake. It’s not like I have to go far to top up.

Exercise at home

I’ve found some really good videos on YouTube for work outs with no equipment which are perfect for me as I only have a yoga mat. They are also categorised by how long the work outs are, and what areas of the body they focus on, so I can get a really good variety in. My aim is to do at least 5 of these a week for the first few weeks, and then look to try and build up to more.

Bath bombs

Given I can’t get any more, I’ll be stretching this to a bomb every 10 days or so. I’ve also cut all of mine into either halves or quarters depending on their size, so now I’ve got around 11 baths worth. So even with one a week that takes me all the way to June but which time we’ll hopefully have returned to something a little more normal.

Group calls and face time

It’s important to keep in touch with people during this time, so I’ll be having various group calls and face time sessions with friends and family to keep in contact. We’ve already discovered you can have an audio chat on WhatsApp with up to four people,  and most of us have access to computers and gaming consoles which allow larger groups. We’re working through various different apps and systems to find something that works well.

Keep a routine

I’m keen to maintain as much of my usual routine as possible. Given that I no longer have a 45 minute commute to work in the morning I am allowing myself to sleep in a little longer, but I’m still up and about at pretty much the same time. As per my post about working from home, a structure is crucial. I’m also being very mindful of maintaining good sleep hygiene so that I don’t fall into bad habits. Ultimately this isn’t forever,  there is a point where we will be going back to our usual jobs and places of work and I don’t want it to be a total shock to the system when that day comes.

Find some screen-less hobbies

As I’m working from my dining table, I’m in front of two computer screens Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. When I’ve been logging off I’ve either been turning to my laptop or watching Netflix. I’m mindful that this equates to a lot of screen time, so I want some alternatives that don’t involve a screen. I’ve got various colour therapy books, hard copy books and other bits and pieces to get into.

Stay positive

This is a goal to myself, and all of you too. There’s no two ways around the fact that this is all pretty rubbish for everyone, but it’s not forever. The best advice I can give is to just take each day one at a time, and pick up the phone to your loved ones as often as you can. My DMs on any of my socials are open if anyone needs or wants a friendly chat.

Help each other, be kind and remember; this isn’t permanent.

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