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Friday, 31 July 2015

WRITING || I'm Not Ready For My Other Half.

I feel like I always start these sorts of posts of with, 'I read something the other day that really inspired me', but it's so true! There are so many great, young female writers out there that never fail to perfectly encapsulate my shared hopes and fears. The article, 'I'm Only 22. I Don't Want Someone Else To Be My Whole World'', actually appeared on my Facebook News Feed and I couldn't resist giving it a read. After all, from the title alone, I sensed it would be my kind of article - and I was right. It got me thinking.
I am 20 years old and write a blog. I am 20 years old and study English Literature. I am 20 years old and single. These are all very straight-forwards facts about me but you'd be surprised as to which one people choose to focus on. And maybe even more so when they find out it's my choice - after all, doesn't being in a relationship mean that you have your life together? No. At least, not in my experience.

I am 20 years old and also a self-confessed hopeless romantic. My favourite books are usually love stories,  my favourite movies tend to revolve around a couple, and the music that really speaks to me usually has something to do with having your heart broken. Yes, I love all that cringey stuff. I love getting flowers from that special guy and those butterflies in your stomach when he messages you first thing in the morning. I've been in that euphoric state where everything is happy and wonderful because you're with a person who makes you feel secure and loved. It's amazing.
But I'm also all too familiar with the agony of waiting for him to call, the near-constant fighting that makes you realise that you two aren't perfect, and battling the pain of not seeing them everyday because you know they're no longer good for you. If you've experienced all this then it can sometimes be hard to think of romance in a positive light.
But I do, I promise I do. I still know that there is someone for me - as horrendously cringey as that sounds (I may be a hopeless romantic but I am definitely not soppy). I know there is because when I get to a certain stage, I trust that I'll prioritise my love life. But not now. I'm not ready yet.
I'm 20 years old and I have a tendency to obsess about boys - and I know for a fact that I'm not the only one. Does he actually like me? Is he going to call? Why hasn't he texted me back? To be honest, I'm just bored of it all. In the past year alone, I've been more upset about boys then I have been happy just dating the guys I've been 'seeing'. I don't have the energy and/or the time to wonder what they're thinking. For where I am right now, I just don't care. And I shouldn't be ashamed of that - which is not to say that anyone in particular is shaming me but it does feel like I'm constantly surrounded by couples pledging the force.
One very wise internet lady who is also a favourite blogger of mine, Hannah Gale, once wrote that 'if a boy likes you then the whole relationship/see each other thing will feel easy'. It's probably the best romantic advice I've ever read and something I always think of if I'm ever wondering about a boy. My foolproof way of knowing that a guy isn't worth your time is whether I feel the need to talk to all my girlfriends about it - if so, then I listen to a hell of a lot of Taylor Swift and try to forget about him. It has about a 90% success rate.
I know it's a cliché but I feel like this time in my life (i.e. being a student and just generally being young and devoid of much responsibility) is precious. That I need to pursue my passions and what I want to get out of life. Because I know what I'm like in relationships and I'm the girl who gives her all to the other person - which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you ask me. I'll always be a feminist but that doesn't mean I'm not a damn good girlfriend when I want to be. But for where I am right now, I have a lot of other priorities to keep me busy. I want to be the best student/friend/daughter/sister/blogger I can be - and I don't want to risk a guy ruining that if I'm totally honest. Because in previous experiences, they have a tendency of messing up my plans.
I hate the expression 'my other half' - and that's not because I'm a bitter single person, no - it's because it suggests that you need someone else to make you 'whole'. And I'm a pretty well-rounded person in my own right! I feel like after some trials and tribulations, I'm finally where I should be - I'm studying a subject I adore at a university I love, I'm keeping to a regular blogging schedule, I'm working to earn some money over Summer, and I'm blessed to have so many wonderful friends both at home and at uni. I'm exactly where I need to be and I don't need any one else to 'complete' me just yet. And just rolling with the clichés here but I so desperately want to travel, and unlike the Kodaline song ('Brand New Day' - yes I'm a Irish music nerd) I want to do it alone. Maybe it's because 'Eat, Pray, Love' (above) is the book I always turn to when I'm feeling down about men. Of course I miss the intimacy of a relationship and often wish I had that special someone waiting for me when I finish work in the evenings - but in the larger scheme of things, a relationship is not something I'm ready to hand myself over to just yet.
I'm 20 years old. Fact. There are so many experiences I've yet to have. When I look back over the past few years, it's astonishing to think how much I've changed. And these are the years where I need to be a little selfish in order to find my feet. So a relationship isn't on the cards for me right now - I want to stand still and just 'be' for a while. There's no time limit on my break from the dating game, maybe it will take the right guy to sway me. But whenever I do 'settle down', I want to take comfort in the fact that I was independent and secure enough to spend a little time just focusing on myself. Knowing that I'm my own 'other half'.
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Thursday, 30 July 2015

BEAUTY || I Want To Be 'Miss. Kensington'.

I appreciate nothing more than a good lipstick. Except maybe a good coffee - but even that gets pushed to the sideline when a new lipstick comes my way. I can only apologise to my family and friends who had to put up with me lusting over the latest Charlotte Tilbury x Norman Parkinson 'Miss. Kensington' lipstick. I saw Alix of I Covet Thee wearing it in a video back in February - yep, a whole five months ago - and it became my life mission to own it. Queue numerous waiting lists, competitions, and a failed trip to Fenwicks in Bond Street and I finally managed to get my hands on it through an online exclusive.
Colour wise, it's not the most exciting of purchases which is always the danger when you buy online. I'm usually one to reach for a bold lipstick - because is there anything prettier than a bright pink shade looking back at you from behind the beauty counter? But 'Miss. Kensington' is a much more muted, peachy pink shade, less like me. I'm going to fulfil the blogger stereotype here by saying it's a 'your-lips-but-better' kind of shade. It's the lipstick I always reach for when I'm playing up my eyes with either a cat-eye flick or a daring eyeshadow. Or for days like today, when I'm just trying to put a quick make-up look together.

As part of the Matte Revolution range (read my 'Amazing Grace' here), 'Miss Kensington' is of such great quality - as you'd expect as it's not exactly the cheapest option out there. Although, I would query whether it is what you would call 'matte' - the NARS lip pencil alternatives are like nothing I've ever tried in their mattifying longevity. But I have to say, I do love the creaminess of the Charlotte Tilbury offerings - they glide onto the lips, stay put, all the while remaining seriously moisturising.
And while this is all well and lovely and I've been using nearly everyday since it arrived on my doorstep, there was one small issue early on. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to finally have my hands on this limited shade and I went to work the next day feeling pretty damn trendy. Until disaster struck and the bullet somehow fell out of the packaging and onto the shop floor. I had to play it so cool in front of customers but inside I was crying. I'm not exactly sure why it happened and for a while I couldn't get it to reattach but after a few hours it somehow sorted itself out. Phew. Now I make sure to be extra careful with it. Disaster averted.

I know I say this about most products I review but I'm just in love with it. I can wear it for a more everyday 'I just whipped this lipstick on' look and also in the evenings paired with a bold cat-eye flick. Totally worth the wait and all the hassle. Let's just say, you know you love a product when you're scared of using it up too quickly. If only 'Miss. Kensington' wasn't limited edition. Sigh, it just means I'll have to stock up! I'm waiting for payday to try more of the Norman Parkinson collaboration because if this lipstick is anything to go by, the rest will be just as good. Plus, this lipstick makes me feel straight out of 1960s London, so surely that's a win?
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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

VIDEO || Beauty Blogger Turned YouTuber.

Yesterday I had the day off work, I was lying in bed when I thought 'Hey, why don't you use today to start a YouTube channel?' and things kinda spiralled out of control from there. Queue ten short videos later, loads of umming and ahhing, and mini panic attacks later, I finally hit publish. This is scary stuff, it's like when I signed up to Blogger all over again! But I thought, look how well that turned out - it took me weeks to finally write a blog post and I'm so happy I did. Sounds like a cliché but sometimes it's good to face your fears. So I've finally added my little channel to the big YouTube world. Eek!
Like I outline in the video, I just wanted to film an introduction to my channel outlining the kinds of videos I'll be making. So far I'm thinking vlogs, hauls (because I'm going to New York in two weeks and that can only mean one thing - Sephora), and more beauty/fashion-related content.

Thanks so much for watching and be sure to subscribe if you enjoyed! x
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Sunday, 26 July 2015

DIARY || Sun, Sea, and the Cornish Coast.

If you've been checking up with the ol' blog the past week then you'll know that I've been on the annual family holiday to the Cornish coast - generally having a chilled out time not doing very much at all. Absolute bliss if you ask me, as much as I adore living in London I'm a firm believer in getting out of the city for a little headspace. Queue daily dog walks on the beach, middle-of-the-day naps, and plenty of reading time, I'm back home feeling pretty happy and rejuvenated. But like I promised in Friday's post, here's a little photo diary of what I've been up to the past week. Because I did that city girl thing of taking hundreds of photos of the sea just because I could. 
As if any of my readers didn't already know about my unhealthy love of hydrangeas - they make up practically the entirety of my Instagram feed. But they were absolutely everywhere in Cornwall! I couldn't tell if they were native to the climate of if people just share my obsession. Either way, I wasn't complaining. 

I mentioned this cute little store in my last post when I cited an oversized slouchy sweatshirt as the heart of a good holiday, obviously. Watershed is such a find as it stocks 'Obey' and 'Vera Monda' which I've only ever seen online at ASOS. It's got that trendy, surf chick look down to a tee (no pun intended) and if I lived down in Cornwall, I would only ever shop here. Slouchy yet feminine t-shirts with skinny jeans, yes please. And did I mention how much I love my sweatshirt? "It's all kinds of soft and snug and I love it and will live in it forever" pretty much sums up how I feel about this store. 
And if the store itself wasn't cool enough, upstairs there's a trendy, monochrome café that makes the most delicious coffee and blueberry-banana smoothie (a LydiaLulu creation, naturally) I've ever tried. Oh, and there's also a barber's hidden up there too. With really friendly, helpful staff and the resident Jack Russell, Buddy, this store is a must-visit if you're ever in Newquay - I'm wishing one would open up in London, I'd keep it in business through my killer-coffee habit alone!

The calorie-bomb that is the 'Xtreme Hot Chocolate' at the Beach Hut on a sunny Wednesday evening. It's just about tolerable if it's a once-a-year treat, right?

The little haven of eco-cottages where we spent our week, only two minutes walk from the beach, we love it there.

A trip to Cornwall wouldn't be complete without our yearly breakfast at Jamie Oliver's 'Fifteen' restaurant overlooking the beach. Although making our reservation always means waking up before 9 - which is totally unheard of in my family - the food and general lovely atmosphere more than makes up for it. This year I went for eggy bread with a side of fruit, a raspberry melon smoothie and plenty of cups of coffee - always a given ha.

Already missing that view - sitting on the balcony with a good book and a view of the sea is my idea of a dream holiday. My Mum, Sister, and I also got pedicures done at the hotel on our doorstep and of course I had to choose Essie's 'Mint Candy Apple' because beauty blogger stereotypes. 
I'm also currently rereading 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' for a 'Children's Literature' module I'm taking in September. I read it during my first semester at my last university and found it so incredibly moving - it's one of those books everyone should read at least once but I'm really struggling with it the second time round. It tackles such important social issues and has often been cited as the book that initiated the American Civil War which makes it quite heavy going. I find I have to be in the right mindset to really get into the plot and understand the characters - I'm going to pace myself with this one. Maybe it'll be easier now I'm home.
And on a side note, after dropping my phone in the sink seconds before leaving the house for Cornwall, I finally have a replacement! And just in case you're ever in the same situation, the rice trick is no guarantee - looking it up on the internet afterwards, apparently hoovering the liquid out is the most effective way of drying your phone. Who knew? Whatever happens, I'm was itching to get my phone back because a beach holiday is just brimming with Instagram opportunities! Yeah, I'm a little bit of a social media addict - I blame the blogosphere. 

A part of me is a little sad to be back in London, I could happily stay in Cornwall all Summer long - but doesn't the saying go 'too much of a good thing turns bad'? Either way, I always cherish our time there. For now, it's back to reality - at least for a couple of weeks before I'm heading to New York, eeek! Anyway, enough rambling from me.
Happy Sunday! xx
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Friday, 24 July 2015

BEAUTY || The Beachy Holiday Post.

Seeing as I've been on the Cornish Coast for the past week, this post is a little overdue - guess I've been too busy dog-walking and taking daytime naps. Sorry not sorry. But my travels isn't exactly news if you're following me on Instagram, I wish I could say I'm sorry for binge-posting pictures of the beach and smoothies but in all honesty, I enjoy using VSCOcam too much. They'll be a whole Diary post up on Sunday documenting just how beautiful it is down here -  but today I wanted to focus on no-fuss beauty and how to truly unwind on holiday.
This idyllic beach setting is perfect for taking a step back from hectic London life but not so great when it comes to playing havoc with your beauty regime. Salty sea air and fine hair just don't mix. Plus with all the dog-walking and sunbathing that's been going on, wearing a full face of make-up, contouring and all, just seems a bit out of place. I can say with authority that I'm never going to be a Newquay surfer chick, but I've perfected my beauty routine so I can at least look like one!
Make-up wise, I've kept things very simple. The Naked palette stayed at home - I've never given it any thought before but it's possibly the least portable thing I own! -  and to my absolute delight, I discovered a tester of the NARS Tinted Moisturiser in the depths of one of my beauty bags and my skin loves it. Will definitely be purchased come pay day.
I've been getting a lot of use out of the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water while I've been down here because it's fab at melting away any dried mascara or forgotten foundation. It also leaves my skin feeling so fresh and clean which is ideal for this kind of laid back, relaxed holiday. A micellar water is also a bit of a lazy girl alternative to properly cleansing your skin as you get the desired effect with zero effort - I've fallen fast and hard for this dream product and have officially given up the face wipes... for the Summer at least! This particular micellar water is also really cheap, at just £4.99 for a bottle which *claims* to last 200 uses (I'd say more like 100 - the packaging makes it impossible not to spill excess), but Boots usually has it on special offer so it's worth keeping a lookout. 
I hardly ever post about anything haircare-related on the blog just because it's not my area of expertise in the slightest. My thick blonde hair is a bit of mixed blessing - of course I'm lucky to have such fine hair but it can be a bit of a nightmare to manage at times. This side plait has become my signature the past few months but that's as far as hairstyles really go for me ha. Add salty beach air into the mix and my hair is nawt happy. Which is why I've really been enjoying using the Orofluido 'Zen Control Elixir'*. When we first arrived in Cornwall on Saturday afternoon, I could feel the change in my hair almost instantly - sea air has a very drying effect which is great for some ladies (just look at the success of the Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray) but not ideal for me. So that night I made a point of applying this elixir onto the ends of my damp, clean hair and brushed it through with my beloved Tangle Teezer, i.e. the miracle brush that can handle my crazy mane. Of course, the results aren't dramatic but I did notice a change in how my hair responded to the sea air the next day. It stayed hydrated and smooth despite the crazy winds down on the beach. And this stuff smells all kinds of gorgeous, I can only describe it as a kind of vanilla, floral scent. I love getting a waft of it as I swish my hair around - full-on Disney Princess stuff here. My only criticism is the application, you have to shake the product out to only get a few drops of the serum. I know you're only supposed to apply a little as this stuff is pretty concentrated but I personally have so much hair that I think I would have benefited from a spray applicator. Food for thought, I still love this stuff and it's salvaged my hair this holiday. 
After the success of the Australian Bodycare Blemish Stick which I reviewed a fews week back, I was really intrigued to try the Tea Tree Oil Shower Wash* and Body Lotion*. What can I say, I love the smell of tea tree oil and find it really wakes me up in the shower. It makes you feel so energised and as tea tree oil is an antiseptic, you feel squeaky clean and wide awake. The body lotion is very lightweight and great for a speedy shower. I suffer from eczema on my legs and this is one of the only products, along with Cetaphil, that doesn't aggravate it and leaves my skin silky smooth. Fuss free and refreshing, a winning combo for a laid-back holiday.
You can take the girl out of London, but you can't take away her nail polish obsession. Don't worry, I know that a love of a good manicure isn't reserved for city girls but there was zero chance I was going to spend a week without 'Lilly Road' gracing my fingertips. 
Beauty favourites aside, here's what I've been enjoying in the daytime - because a holiday is all about giving yourself a break and lazing around with a good book... at least for me it is #englishstudentlife. I'm already onto my third book ('Uncle Tom's Cabin' for my Children's Literature Module) but raced through Marina Keegan's 'The Opposite of Loneliness' and 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. If you're a young woman interested in writing than 'The Opposite of Loneliness' is a total must-read - I'd heard about it around the blogosphere and finally got around to reading it last week. I'm already resisting the urge to re-read, Marina's writing is accessible, articulate, and she has completely captured the voice of our generation. Her prose is beautiful and although it's tragic that we'll never get to read any more, we can at least celebrate the legacy she left. Such a moving selection of essays. And 'To Kill A Mockingbird' speaks for itself, I can't wait to finally study it. If you read my latest Diary post, then you'll know all about me dropping my iPhone 6 in water about two seconds before leaving the house for Cornwall. Three trips to the Carphone Warehouse later and all is good and well, even indulged in a new phone case as my last one died alongside the phone *sobs*. But while I was in Newquay, I couldn't help but notice this fab little storefront called the Watershed. More about it on Sunday but I bought this oversized baby blue sweatshirt and it's all kinds of soft and snug and I love it and will live in it forever. Plus, when I pair it with denim shorts I look like a beachy chick and I kind of like that. Come September I can see myself rocking it to Monday morning lectures because it's more socially acceptable than pyjamas but just as comfy. 
I haven't been keeping track of how much I've written, looks like this post will be slightly on the longer side! Maybe words are coming more naturally now that I'm so well rested, who knows. I'm back to reality on Saturday morning and I'll be sad to leave - this place really is a little corner of heaven. But I'll be heading back to London rejuvenated and rested - oh the joys of a beachy holiday!
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Thursday, 23 July 2015

BEAUTY || Ode to Lilly Road.

Before I start this post declaring my love for the miracle product that is Nails Inc's 'Lilly Road', I just have to clarify something - I haven't misspelt 'Lily' for 'Lilly'. Nails Inc have this quirky thing of naming their polishes after streets in London which, as a born-and-bred Londoner, I think is really cute. You can only imagine my delight when I was walking down Duke Street near Selfridges last week when I realised that I was wearing 'Duke Street' on my nails. What can I say, I'm easily amused.
Way back in March when this polish made it into my shopping bag, 'Lilly Road' was every inch the impulse purchase. At £14 a pop, Nails Inc isn't exactly student-budget-friendly. But I was in that dangerously 'spendy' mood and like I do every time I buy something beauty-related that's a little too far out of my price range, I justify it to myself by saying 'at least it gives me something to blog about!' And four months later, I've certainly gotten my money's worth - this will be it's se third post and there have been too many Instagrams to count. Like I always say, 'when in doubt, go with Lilly Road'.
My nail polish obsession is something that's pretty well documented here on the blog (if you type 'nail polish' into the search bar, you'll see what I mean!) but I'm usually pretty fickle when it comes to the polishes themselves. I've never really had a colour I always come back to - if I get bored, I buy a new one. It's a money-wasting habit if ever there was one ha. 
'Lilly Road', along with 'Duke Street', is the only polish I take off and then reapply immediately. In the beauty blogging world, this is the definition of commitment. But when you find the perfect colour (i.e. a shade that goes with any outfit and treads the line of being feminine without being too 'pink') combined with a truly mesmerising formula and you have the dream that is 'Lilly Road'. The wide brush also makes application so quick and easy, I can paint my nails with eyes fixed to the computer screen watching Netflix - 'Everybody Loves Raymond' is my current poison of choice. If I sit and down and do my nails properly, base coat and all, I find that 'Lilly Road' usually lasts me the best part of a week before I need to top up the manicure. As a nail polish junkie, this is pretty good going. Especially as my job in retail largely consists of crushing boxes, cleaning, and scouring in the stockroom - it's not exactly manicure-friendly work. 
But if I rush the nail-painting process, like I did on Friday night when I panic-painted my nails before leaving for Cornwall the next morning, then the varnish is obviously not as durable. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my nails and when I woke up the next morning with smudges, it wasn't long before I was buying nail polish remover in our remote holiday destination and starting all over again. But isn't it worth it for the perfect manicure? 'Lilly Road' is the most beautiful, neutral shade of pink - the above photo has enhanced its pink tones, it's actually a much cooler shade. As part of 'The New White' range, I think it adds a touch of classiness to my ever-expanding nail polish collection. I can't get enough of it and it's fast become my trademark. This might even be the first time I finish a bottle of nail polish - my varnishes usually dry out before I get a chance to use them all up. 
One of my favourite things to do at uni is painting my friends' nails while having girly chats and listening to cheesy music - i.e. sticking to every cliché in the book! But even amongst my friends, and I'd say we all have our own unique style, 'Lilly Road' has been a favourite. It's one of those universal feminine, easy-to-wear colours and for that, I have to say it's my all-time favourite polish. Who would have thought? 10 years of collecting nail polish and I've found The One - 'Lilly Road' was worth the wait. She's a total catch. 
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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

BEAUTY || Dr. PAWPAW Magic - Take Two.

My love of the miracle beauty balm, Dr. PAWPAW*, is no secret round these parts. I couldn't rave about it enough in last month's review. A product that moisturises, softens, and soothes nailbeds, dry skin, spots, any skin irritation, and also serves as a dreamy lipbalm is a winner in my books. Naturally, I started off with the Original Balm to get a sense of this miracle balm and all its wondrous uses but received these two tinted alternatives at the Catalyst PR event last week. Let's just say, it wasn't going to be long before they appeared on the blog. Dr. PAWPAW is just that good.
 The idea with the tinted balms is that they're used for cosmetic, beauty purposes whereas the Original non-coloured balm is a bit of a one-size-fits-all kind of product. I can't lie, I was so excited to try the colours based on how much use I get out of the Original.
Marketed as a cheek and lip tint, the coloured balms can be built up in intensity depending on how bright a colour you're after. The products themselves are a lot more vivid than I was expecting - based on the original balm which is obviously a totally neutral shade, I assumed the peach and red would be a lot more muted in tone.
As you can tell from the above snap, these colours certainly pack a punch. But the great thing about them is that they are super sheer and easy to blend out. Like I wrote in my latest diary post, I'm currently on my annual family holiday to Cornwall which means I try and keep my make-up light and natural - because who wants to wear a full face of make-up for dog walks on the beach?!
 So the timing of these balms have been great - they add a nice subtle flush to my cheeks, provided I don't apply too much, and just a tinge of colour to lips. Of course, you can build the colour up to almost mimic a lipstick but I personally prefer the more natural, dewey look.
Out of the two colours, I'd say that I prefer the red on my cheeks and the peach on the lips. Again, it's a very natural look I've been loving and the red can sometimes feel a little 'much' for my personal taste. But each to their own, I'm sure I'll be testing it out with a slightly different finish in mind once I'm back in London or holidaying in New York.
I don't think these colours have quite pipped their Original Balm predecessor because that product is magic in a tube and you can use it for just about everything you can think of! But I do really love these alternatives and find that these colours are quite unusual and so easy to work with. I can see myself getting a lot of use out of them in coming months and if it means that I have to go into Urban Outfitters to stock up, then that's just something I'll have to do. Sense the sarcasm: I have to actively avoid UO for the sake of my bank balance these days but if you don't believe me when I sing Dr. PAWPAW's praises, then trust Urban Outfitters to back a trendy, must-have product any day. But seriously, Dr. PAWPAW is a dream - trust me on this one.
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Sunday, 19 July 2015

DIARY || Blogging, Books, and Cornwall.

It's been a funny old week, starting off on the wrong foot and concluding with an exciting blogging event and our family holiday to Cornwall. All I can say is I'm tireeeed and very happy to be in one of my favourite places in the world.
To paraphrase the rubbish stuff, I got off to a bad start with multiple shifts back-to-back, breaking my beloved Tiffany's necklace in the same day that I realised my super trendy Topshop pinafore (i.e. the delivery that was going to brighten my crappy day) had been sent to my old address in Southampton. Oh and like the clumsy fool I am, I accidentally dropped my iPhone 6 in water minutes before we had to leave the house for Cornwall yesterday morning and it's showing no signs of life - hence the silence on the Instagram/Twitter front. Queue an impromptu trip to Carphone Warehouse tomorrow, not the greatest start to the holiday!
But not having a phone for a day has made me realise just how dependent I've become. As soon as we arrived at our destination, I was itching to check my emails, Twitter, and Facebook messages. Who knows, maybe this is the universe trying to tell me to take a break. Especially as I have a tendency to repel technology! Let's just say, after the crazy time I've had, I was very ready to get out of London yesterday morning. And hey, it can always have been worse and I'm excited to spend the next seven days relaxing in the Cornish sunshine *fingers crossed*
Rubbish stuff aside, I've actually had some pretty exciting things going on this week. On Friday I headed to Central London for the Catalyst PR Autumn/Winter preview. It was great to hear about the latest products from the experts behind the brands and I came away with some really exciting things to try out and review. Plus the ladies in the Catalyst team were lovely and it was so nice to actually meet some other bloggers and bond over our shared love of beauty. Also, how beautiful is Cavendish Sqaure? Della of DellalovesNutella, her twin sister Maria, and I spent the early afternoon chatting over coffee and swooning over how pretty this little square is. I couldn't quite believe this little haven is just seconds from the hustle and bustle that is Oxford Street.

After the event, I whizzed to Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus to pick up some uni books to read in Cornwall. If you're a bookworm like me, then this store is Mecca. Or at least the equivalent of the Oxford Street Topshop for fellow shopaholics. The largest bookstore in Europe, I spent the best part of an hour perusing the floors and diving into blurbs. I've already finished Marina Keegan's 'The Opposite of Loneliness' - and I'm consequently singing its praises to everyone I know - and began 'To Kill A Mockingbird' today as soon as we arrived in Cornwall. I don't remember the last time I was this excited to read a book. And don't judge me, I'm twenty years old and studying English Literature at university but have yet to read this American classic. Its appearance on my 'Suggested Reading' list for a module I'm starting in September and the release of 'Go Set A Watchman' has seen me finally take the plunge. I'm already hooked.

Last but not least, the family and I headed to Cornwall for our annual family holiday yesterday. Leaving London at 7am and we're all pretty tired. I'm writing this at 9:50pm (so last night when this post goes live tomorrow) and I'm absolutely shattered. I did summon the energy to capture some pictures before sunset but they'll be plenty more as we're here for a whole week. I haven't even been down to the beach yet!
But I really do love it here, everything is so beautiful and serene. It's so refreshing to get out of London sometimes - Cornwall always gives me a little headspace and some time to just breathe, relax, read, and blog (you can see my cringey and hilarious photo diary of last year's holiday here). I'm looking forward to a week of Literature and binge-writing blog posts - total bliss.
Happy Sunday! xx
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Friday, 17 July 2015

WRITING || Accepting Your 'Bikini Body'.

The mug I drink my afternoon tea out of has the word 'PERFECT' written across it in Times New Roman. These mugs are a bit of a running joke in my family - my Dad has 'SILVER FOX', my Mother is 'ALWAYS RIGHT', my little brother is 'WONDER BOY', while my sister has 'HIGH MAINTENANCE'. It's a bit of a ritual of mine when writing a blog post - make a cup of tea and the words will follow. So today I went to the cupboard and actually found that this mug was the perfect starting place. Bear with me.
I was inspired to write this post by an article in this month's Elle magazine. Beauty Director, Sophie Beresiner - whose career I've been following since her LOOK magazine days - wrote the thought-provoking '(Beach) Body Confidence'. This article really struck a cord with me because Beresiner grapples with that Supermodel's 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' comment and her own relationship with Bikini season. Because for so many years of my life, I also felt far from 'PERFECT'.
I am only twenty years old and I dread putting on a bikini - having said that, I've come a hell of a long way since my angsty teen years. Nowadays, I'd say I'm pretty body confident. But the fact that I'm still perturbed by two pieces of miniscule material is kind of sad, isn't it? But I speak with confidence when I say that I'm not alone. Like most girls, my teenage years were plagued with insecurity and erratic calorie counting that would never amount to anything. It saddens me to look back on all the time I spent worrying about my appearance - it took me way too long to realise that those people in the gym weren't actually looking at me. I'm happy to say that I've since grown out of that adolescent constant state of self-consciousness. I did eventually lose that puppy fat but I've also accepted that I'm never going to look like a Victoria's Secret model in a swimsuit - because hey, Victoria's Secret models don't even look like Victoria's Secret models. 
I've noticed that magazines and pop culture have also come a long way in the past 10 years. Elle is publishing pressing articles like '(Beach) Body Confidence', Vogue no longer signs models under the age of sixteen or those exhibiting disordered eating, and the rise of bloggers means that content is much more focused on the everyday, accessible woman. Young girls are being educated about misleading advertising which is so so important - I feel like I would have really benefited from that kind of reality check at the impressionable age of thirteen. On the other hand, the rise of social media has put a new kind of pressure on young girls i.e. achieving the hugely coveted and almost unnatural 'thigh gap' which dominates Tumblr and Pinterest
'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' - even typing that years after it first made headlines still sends shivers down my spine. But now that I'm older and wiser, I can say that I totally disagree. Good food is one of life's pleasures. And I'd rather be a little bigger and enjoy my sugary coffees than tiny and caffeine deprived. Because life without coffee isn't much of a life now, is it? All jokes aside, this is a topic I feel really passionate about because I've been there. Too many times to count, in fact. When I was studying for my A-Levels and stressed out beyond anything I could have ever anticipated, I used controlling my calorie intake as a coping mechanism. My life was ruled by food which is tricky when you think about how many occasions revolve around Birthday cakes, Christmas dinner, chocolate at Easter - the list is endless. But the quote that really hit home from the Elle article had to be, 'I'm only likely to be in a bikini one week out of 52, at the very most. But joyous meals with my friends? Those happen all year long. One week on a beach does not justify my turning down a cupcake.' Beresiner speaks for a whole legion of women here. In fact, I'm proud to say I'd pick a slice of Gails' carrot cake over the idyllic bikini body any day because whatever happens, perfection is unattainable. And that's a comfort really.
What I really want to emphasise here is that worrying about what you look like in a bikini just isn't worth it. And if you're anything like me, then these insecurities will fade with time. It took me seven years of self-consciousness to realise that everyone is actually so engrossed in their own internal monologues - what's going on in their day/what they're reading/going to eat for lunch/when they can go home - to notice what you're wearing. And if you're on the beach or holidaying by a pool, most people are too happy to be relaxing by a body of water to even register what you look like in that bikini. 
If you'd have told me three years ago that I'd happily consider a crop top as something of a wardrobe staple), I would have laughed in your face. For me, this was always my 'problem area'. To be honest, I'd be lying if I said I don't have my insecurities. Of course I do, and that's not because I'm preoccupied with looking like society's glorified image of the 'perfect' female figure, it's because I'm human. I have the occasional 'fat day' but those have been few and far between thankfully.
These days, I find I'm most 'body' confident when I'm feeling happy in other areas of my life. Because when I've had a bad day, it's easy to also start hating on my appearance - it makes sense really. So when I'm performing well at uni and/or at work, when I'm seeing my friends regularly, and when I prioritise time to paint my nails in the evening I tend to be more confident within myself - sometimes the little, trivial things make a world of difference. 
So relish that bikini - you're wearing it because you're on holiday, or the weather's warm, or maybe you're treating yourself to a nice healthy tanning session. And you know what? Everything tastes as good as skinny feels. So pass the cupcakes and enjoy.
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Thursday, 16 July 2015

STYLE || Topshop Brand Focus.

This series has been in the works for quite a while now - looking back over my content the past few months, it's been very Beauty orientated. But nonetheless I keep buying clothes! So I thought this series would give a little insight into what I've been loving, and usually buying, from the British High Street. So this week, it's Topshop's turn to shine.
I'm having a bit of a love affair with skirts at the moment. The problem? I can't stop buying them. Anything that's miniature and A-Line inclined tends to end up with me at the checkout, clutching my tired old debit card, and skipping out the store gleefully... regardless of whether I actually need it. Which begs the question, do we ever actually need anything clothes-wise? Exactly. 
Combined with one of their Ribbed Crop Camis and you have my favourite 'I've made an effort because I'm wearing a skirt but I'm still incredibly comfy' outfit. If that makes any sense at all. To save my rambling on about them all, I thought I'd stick to my two most recent purchases so I wouldn't have to confront the reality of how much I've spent on near identical skirts... obviously.
Cami - Topshop, Skirt - Topshop, Shoes - Topshop (sold out)
 I can't lie, I didn't think the pink cami combined with a red skirt would work but it really does! The pink softens the outfit and actually enhances my pale complexion - something all fair skinned girls will understand. Although I love this skirt just for the pattern and the colour (despite a guy friend describing it as 1960s sofa fabric - thanks bro), the thing I love most about it are the pockets. Pockets! The most underrated and yet most necessary attribute when it comes to buying clothes - for me at least. My only criticism of this skirt is that it doesn't wash well and the colour has faded a tad - looks like I'll be sticking to hand-washing in future. The best thing about it though is that it can be dressed both up and down - it's definitely coming on our beachy family holiday to Cornwall this Saturday and to our more glam New York trip next month. This skirt is all about the versatility.

Cami - Topshop, Skirt - Topshop, Shoes - Topshop (sold out)
I wore this gingham cropped cami so much in my last two weeks at uni (because hello, monochrome!) that it became a bit of a running joke amongst the flat - what is Lydia going to wear tonight? Oh Lydia, we haven't seen that top in a while! It was worth the teasing, I love this top, I pair it with jeans for the day time - what do you think I'm wearing right now? - and either a black skirt or this white A-Line beauty when I'm feeling a bit fancier. It's a staple for me. 
Meanwhile, I've also been living in this A-Line skirt since being home - wearing it everywhere from errands down the road, to a trip to Wimbledon, and racing round some Art Galleries. It just feels a bit dressier than my average denim skirt (photographed in this post) and that bit more trendy. Plus, white to Wimbledon was a no-brainer. Paired with a selection of camis and cropped jumpers and you have my uniform of the moment. Sadly, it's lacking pockets but I suppose the whole white denim thing makes up for that. 
Unfortunately, my heeled sandals are no longer on the Topshop website - I couldn't find them anywhere. But I tweeted about them the day before I bought them (gotta love oversharing on social media) so you can get a clearer sense of what they look like there. I have to say, they're not the comfiest of heels but they're very sweet and summery. I can see myself styling them on our approaching trip to New York - because they just look so Holly Golightly, don't ya think?
So Topshop, keep on bringing it with your skirt game... or you know, maybe not until after pay day. Yeah that'd be ideeeeal.
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