It's a (Diary) Date

Wednesday, 21 January 2015
I can finally post about my beloved 2015 diaries, after scouring everywhere to try and find the 'perfect' diary to no avail, until two lovely blogging pals (Maxi and Charissa) came to my rescue and got hold of my dream diaries for me. Needless to say, I am in stationery heaven right now.

I always believe to get off to the best New Year possible, you need a damn good diary. Being an avid stationery hoarder, I usually have two or three on the go at one time (one for work, one for life and one for blogging, naturally) and I find this works well for me. I usually get a couple of diaries over Christmas, but this year, however, I was left diary-less. I felt a hint of trepidation as I welcomed in the New Year, fully aware that without my diary, I am a dis-organised fool.

However, I am now armed with my diaries (half way through January, better late than never) and raring to go. There is something so satisfying about going through those first few fresh pages, neatly writing in diary dates and upcoming birthdays, events and suchlike. I probably sound like a stationery-obsessive, but I know I'm not the only one who feels like this!

So, what are my weapons of choice for battling the year ahead? After wanting a Kate Spade diary and searching high and low for a cheaper alternative (Kate Spate ain't cheap y'all) I've actually ended up with one Kate Spade-inspired diary, and one ACTUAL Kate Spade agenda. I know, I know - the stuff dreams are made of. I am in a metallic striped, perfectly printed heaven right now.

The first Kate Spade-esque diary is a sweet A6-sized affair with gold and white stripes, and pastel pink detailing. It is a girly girls dream and is actually pretty thick - it comes with a big section for addresses and notes too. It's the perfect size for your handbag, and even has a cute little slot at the back for popping bits and bobs (important things like receipts, or, in my case, stickers) in. The best thing? It's currently in the sale for £3 at M&S - but you might have to hunt it out if you want one - they're out of stock online unfortunately!

The actual Kate Spade agenda I got is in the Medium size (around A5) and is a gorgeous book-print. Being an avid reader I adore this print, especially as tonnes of the classics are sitting on the shelves. It's emblazoned with a gold metallic '2015' and inside it actually begins in August 2014 - as it's a 17-month agenda - which is slightly annoying but for the price I paid for it, totally worth it. Charissa snapped me this up from a shop in Newcastle for a mere £6 (talk about a bargain!) and I'm so excited to have some Kate Spade stationery in my life at long last. Inside there are cute quotes and month-to-view as well as week-to-view sections, a pouch like in the M&S one for bits and bobs, all in a gold spiral-bound form. I LOVE IT.

Are you in diary heaven right now? Let me know I'm not the only one who gets this excited about diaries...

The Ultimate Multi-tasking Face Palette

Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Semblance Multi Facet Palette - £45 (currently in the sale for £22.50!)

If you travel a lot or like to have all your make up 'go to' products with you at once, you'll know what a pain it can be lugging everything about - I've lost count of the amount of times I've ended up a broken blush at the bottom of my bag, or eyeliner all over my purse... not ideal. So, after receiving the Multi Facet Palette in Semblance as a Christmas present, I thought it was about time I told you about this uh-mazing multi-tasking face palette.

I've got a couple of multi-tasking palettes - and to be honest, none of them ever really did it all - until this beauty from Illamasqua came into my life. I find most 'multi' palettes just feature a tonne of mismatched, hard-to-wear shades - but not Illamasqua's Semblance Palette. This baby has everything you need (bar mascara, lippy and foundation) to get your look perfected. It comes with eight fab products - a cream highlight, a powder blush, a shade for contour, an eyebrow colour, three eye shades and even a liner shade. The best thing about it? All of the colours in here are shades I wear regularly, and so since getting the palette it's been used a great deal.

Lately I've been wearing the two shimmery eye shadow shades on my eyes and think they look amazing together (I've had lots of compliments too). In terms of formula the eye shadows blend beautifully and are really nice and easy to work with. The eyeshadow shade is fab - it's their infamous Eyebrow Cake in Thunder, which is a great powder that stays put all day. I'll admit I've not really used the liner much, but it is what it is and it's great that Illamasqua have included a liner in the palette - it's a seriously blacker-than-black shade too. The contour shade is the most perfect shade to contour with for me, and it's so nice to have a go-to contour shade now, instead of having to faff around with dark foundations and concealers. I'm not a big fan of cream highlights which is a shame as this is a stunning shade, but I find it needs layering up to get the kind of highlight I like - it's very subtle. Finally, the blush shade is incredible and a tiny bit goes a long way - I cannot wait to rock this shade with a tan over the summer months.

Overall I think this palette is fantastic and a must-have 'on the go' product. It makes putting on my face in the morning that little bit easier as everything is in one place, and it's the perfect palette for frequent travellers - I go back to my parents' house most weekends so it's nice to be able to through this in my bag and be good to go.

Have you tried any of Illamasqua's Multi Facet Palettes? Let me know what you thought!

My #SimplyBeReal Moment

Monday, 19 January 2015

A little while ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Simply Be to see if I'd be interested in working with them on their #SimplyBeReal campaign - a campaign which focuses on the fact that fashion doesn't always go to plan, and that we can learn to celebrate these 'real moments' and show that we're only human after all. As part of the campaign, I was asked to retell my ultimate 'real moment', which was then turned into the beautiful illustration you see above, by the lovely Eleni from Fall Into London (having met her at an event a while ago I was seriously chuffed she was chosen for my illustration!) 

So, you want to hear about my #SimpleBeReal moment? Here goes... 

Okay. So. I'm a clumsy person. I mean, really clumsy. And, if something awkward/embarrassing/horrendous is going to happen clothes-wise, it usually happens to me. Clothes "situations" happen much more often than not when you're a clumsy clothes-wearer, and I've definitely had my fair share. There was the time I spent the day walking round with my shirt on back to front, the sorry episode of builder's bum I experienced when walking to uni one morning thanks to a pair of ill-fitting jeans, the sad case of the massive-hole-in-tights, the broken bag situation just before I walked into an interview, and, of course, the not-so-Marilyn-Monroe-moment. I think that one is probably my favourite.

I'm sure we've all probably had the occasional Marilyn-Monroe-wind-up-the-skirt situation in the past, but this one tends to stick in my memory more than others. I was happily wearing a brand new floral co-ord; a gorgeous pink top and high-waisted flowy midi-skirt, and so stepped out with my boyfriend to take some outfit pictures. Whilst my boyfriend was being all photographer-y, I was getting my pose on, awkwardly as ever. Although I've been snapping outfit pictures for years now, it's only recently I've ventured out into the world of public outfit photos, as opposed to taking them in my room or back garden. Now, public outfit pictures are a whole other kettle of fish - I totally envy those who can pose away whilst passer-bys look at you as though you're stood there starkers, without as much as batting an eyelid, but I'm just not at that level yet. 

So, I go through the usual stages - POSE! - Oh, someone's coming - STOP POSE. POSE again! - Agh, another person, let's just pretend we're photographing the trees... and on it goes. On this particular occasion, however, I felt like I was coming into my own and so I was more than happy posing away as people walked by. It was a windy day however - and just as some people walked by, what goes and happens? That's right - a WHOOSH of air and up goes my skirt, revealing my not-so-fetching arse to the world. I tried to play it cool with a Marilyn-esque giggle/pose, but neither were convincing and ever since then I have reverted back to my previously shy and retired outfit posing. 

I'm sure I have many more fashion mishaps to come, but that one is probably my personal favourite. When I re-tell it back to people I like to put a bit of a glamorous, Marilyn spin on it, but I think we all know it was just a case of me being my usual clumsy self! 


Do you have any #SimpleBeReal moments you'd like to share? I'd love to know I'm not alone in my awkwardness! Also - follow the #SimplyBeReal hashtag on Twitter to take a look at all the hilarious stories (and beautiful illustrations!) 

How I Beat the Blogging Blues

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Being a blogger in this day and age is tough. Blogs have gone from being little private spaces on the internet that about five other people read, to having huge, mass audiences, and being constantly open to criticism. Adding to that, a new blog pops up every day, and so the 'blogosphere' becomes more and more competitive, with every blogger striving against each other for the next viral post, the next brand collaboration, the next 'blogging trip'. It can be a race to get product reviews up before anyone else, a struggle to meet blogging deadlines, and a constant battle to get the best content.

And you know what? Sometimes, because of all this, it starts to feel a bit shit. As happy as you are for other bloggers doing well, it does nothing for your own self-esteem. I think we'd all be lying if we said we never felt jealous of other bloggers, or wondered why everyone else was getting the big breaks apart from us. Hell, I feel like it all the time. As proud as I am of my blog, there's a big part of me that always thinks that it's rubbish, that I'm no good, that my blog is nothing compared to the "big bloggers" and that there's really no point even trying to compete.

When I hear of a blogger getting an awesome brand deal, or being whisked away to some far-off exotic destination to spend four days being photographed in bikinis that another brand has paid for whilst drinking cocktails and getting paid for it, I get a bit miffed. I love that blogging has taken on a life of its own that means so many of my blogging pals can go off and experience these things, but a sinking feeling inside of me always thinks, 'Why not me?!' 'What's so wrong with me that they didn't choose my blog for that?' and these thoughts go round and round in my head until I eventually get mad and stop looking at the dozens of Instagram posts with a sponsored hashtag, and instead feel a little bit like giving up... I'll never compete, so why bother?!

It's the same when I start looking at numbers (which is never a good idea for me, I was always terrible at maths). I'll see a blog that started 6 months ago already has more followers than me and start to wonder what the hell I'm doing wrong. Or my post that I'm really proud of won't get any comments, whilst all some other blogger has to do is post a selfie and their comments are in the hundreds. Sometimes I'll pop on over to the 'popular' page on Bloglovin' and see which posts are doing really well, feeling disheartened that I rarely find mine in there. It's crap, and it honestly makes you question everything.

Don't even get me started on the size thing.... at least five times a day I think to myself 'If I lost weight, my blog would do better. I just know it would.' which really, is the most ridiculous thing anyone has probably ever heard uttered - but I can't help but think there is some truth in it. Being surrounded by so many slim, stunning girls, who also have extremely successful blogs, can only ever make you think a bit like maybe that's the key to success. I know it isn't, but when you're in a hole of doubt over yourself and your blog, you can't help but think a tad irrationally.

When I feel like this, and it does happen more often than not, I have to take a step back. I have to remove myself from 'the blogging bubble', and put things in perspective. Why did I start my blog? Because I wanted to write, because I wanted to make a career out of writing and I wanted to get my writing out online. I didn't start it to become popular, I didn't start it to become the next 'big blogger', I didn't start it to become 'internet famous' or even to make a living out of it (hell, when I started blogging, earning money from your blog wasn't even a thing). I started it because I'm passionate about writing and I wanted to share that. I wanted an outlet, whether anyone read it or not, to get my thoughts out and have them somewhere for the world to see, if it wanted to.

And I should be proud of the things I've achieved through blogging. I have a following I never dreamt of, a platform that now thousands of people read, as well as all the amazing opportunities I've been given through this little space on the internet. Whether it's receiving a product to review in the post, being invited to an event, or even being whisked away on a blogging trip (I still cannot get over the fact I was flown over to the MTV EMAs in Glasgow back in November), I appreciate every single thing my blog has given me. Okay, so I'm not getting millions of hits a day, nor am I making a career out of my blog like so many others, but you know what? That's okay. I never set out to do any of those things, and the things I did set out to do, I've already achieved.

So, when I start to feel down about where my blog sits in the already over-saturated world of blogging, I remind myself that it's not a competition, that I've already achieved so much from my blog and that things can only get bigger and better. I also remind myself that even the 'big bloggers' feel like this sometimes, and that to some people, I myself am a 'big blogger'. Finally, I remember the most important thing about blogging at all - that I blog to inspire, empower, and enlighten, and I should be proud of the amount of people who feel those things through reading my blog. I don't blog to bring other people down - I do it for the love of it, to bring people up and make them feel better, and so that, in itself, is a reason to be oh so proud of my little space on the internet.

Occasion Wishlist

Saturday, 17 January 2015
Occasion Wishlist
1. Heine - £149.90
2. River Island - £50
3. Accessorize - £45
4. ASOS - £35
5. Monsoon - £169
6. River Island - £15
7. Miss Selfridge - £99
8. Accessorize - £39

Okay, so whilst I'm well aware we're still in the depths of winter (have you had snow lately?!) I'm also quite excited about the prospect of spring. Spring means pastels aplenty (which you all know I'm a fan of) but it also means... wedding/event season! Yes, that's right - kicking off from around April time the wedding/prom/event season comes underway and I couldn't be more excited. I have a few weddings to attend already, and obviously proms and balls etc. take place around May time, so if you have an upcoming 'posh frock' event coming up, I think there's nothing wrong with being a little extra prepared, and scouting out your outfit early! 

With this in mind, I decided to put together an 'occasion' wishlist, partly because I've been looking for inspiration on what to wear to the upcoming dates in my calendar, but also because I've come across some stunning dresses of late that really need sharing. First up, perfect for proms, this beautiful dusky pink gown from heine.co.uk is to die for. I discovered this website whilst on the hunt for posh dresses, and love that it has a mix of brands on there - this dress by Ashley Brooke is lovely, and I also think it would make a fab bridesmaid dress. If you're after something a bit more after-party friendly, then River Island's cute pastel pencil dress is lovely and a bit more affordable. I've had my eye on this for a few weeks now but I know I don't have the figure for it unfortunately - too many mince pies over Christmas! 

Of course, no fancy outfit is complete without a fancy embellished bag, and Accessorize is always my go-to for these. This gold bag isn't cheap at £45 but it totally has the 'wow' factor. Obviously, shoes are important to, and for weddings and proms etc. I always think it's best to opt for a slightly lower heel - especially if you're planning on dancing until the early hours. These metallic pink shoes from ASOS are just the ticket and a really good price too. Also - sneaky heads up - you can currently get 20% off full-price items on ASOS with the code '20HAPPY' - thank me later!

If you want to opt for a lacey, high-neck dress, this one from Monsoon is stunning and oh so perfect for spring. This embellished bracelet is another River Island spesh, and would be ideal with a more plain dress to bling things up a bit. Second to last is this completely beautiful dress from Miss Selfridge, which completely speaks for itself - I mean, how gorgeous is it?! Unfortunately it's only available in a size 4 and 8 at the moment, but I'm firmly crossing my fingers that they'll get more sizes in (not that I can afford £99 on a sparkly dress, but we can dream, right?!) Finally, another embellished Accessorize bag that actually comes from their Bridal collection but I think is perfect in general for spring - it's slightly cheaper than the previous bag too! 

Have you got any 'events' in the spring that you're already planning your outfit for? Let me know! 

My 'To Read' List

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Sometimes, I get carried away with myself and end up buying loads of books, only to then have them sitting idle on my bookcase for, well, in this instance, years. I'll either try to get into one and give up, or simply forget I ever bought it. Not being one to ever like to see a book go to waste, I had a rummage around my bookcase at the books I've been meaning to read and haven't, and thought I'd devote a little post to them, in the hope it'll motivate me to read them as well as giving you some reading inspiration.

The Secret - Rhonda Byrne 
A book I bought purely because of the hype surrounding it, that in all honesty I haven't read a single page of yet. It's one I definitely need to get around to reading, as it's received mostly dazzling reviews, many of which claim it'll 'change your life'. It's not a fiction, but more of a book of self-discovery that is supposed to change your way of thinking forever. I'll definitely be writing a review of this once I've read it, as I have high hopes it'll be an eye-opener.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale - Graham Joyce
Oops. I've kind of been slowly reading this book for getting on for a good year now, but it's one that I pick up and put down and struggle to get back into. I think I'm a bit disappointed in it as I was drawn in by the title, but actually the book in itself isn't very 'fairy tale' at all - although I'm only part way through. If you've read this - is it worth the read? I rarely struggle getting into books but I've found this one really hard!

How To Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran
The queen of all things funny and female, Caitlin Moran's book 'How To Be a Woman' has been sitting on my shelf for a good year or three (during which Caitlin released another book), so it's about time I dusted off the pages (literally) and gave it a good old read. In the age of all things feminist Caitlin's book is very 'now' - asking the questions about what being a woman really means. I don't doubt this book will be a belter.

Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman 
I bought this book when I was writing my dissertation (on fairytales), but as it's a collection of lots of stories, poems etc. I didn't get round to reading them all. I know I'll love them though - Neil Gaiman's writing is fantastic and his twisted fairy tales are a must-read for any fans of the classic fairy tales. Think Angela Carter - but possibly even better.

Divergent* - Veronica Roth
I actually have the entire trilogy of these books, but knowing I'll probably become well-and-truly engrossed in it, I've not given them a read as yet. I have a feeling they'll be very Hunger Games-esque, which is obviously a good thing, as long as they're not too similar. I haven't seen the film either so don't have a clue what to expect with this one, only that it shares parallels with The Hunger Games.

Looking for Alaska - John Green
Having read 'The Fault in Our Stars' and seeing quotes for 'Looking for Alaska' scattered around Tumblr, I bought it about two years ago, but after struggling to get into it put it down and haven't picked it up since. I know it's meant to be worth a read so it's probably going to be the first book I try and finish from this list. Here's hoping it's as good as 'The Fault in Our Stars'!

Have you got a pile of books you've been meaning to get around to reading too? Let me know if you've read any of the books I've mentioned and what you thought (no spoilers please!)