Over the winter months my skin has been… how shall we say… less than perfect. I’ve found many more dry patches than before, it started itching in places and I was breaking out all over my chin. I kept putting it down to the weather, but I don’t think this was the only culprit.

I follow a lot of beauty bloggers and YouTubers, and one thing they always talk about is the importance of a serum in your skincare routine, morning and night, without fail. I first heard this on Caroline Hiron’s channel, but I thought it was going to be one of those fads that never sticks around for long, so I didn’t take much notice. Fast forward a year, and here I am, raving about my own little discovery and it even got a mention in my first weekly loves post.

Being the ripe old age of 26, I’ve decided that this year is going to be my year to start using anti-ageing creams (I actually spoke to a skincare expert a couple of months ago, who said that the age to start doing this is actually 25, so I’m a bit late to the party, oops!) After trawling the shelves of boots for a good hour, I returned to my trusted Botantics brand (Boot’s own) and opted for their All Bright Radiance Serum.

I’ve always been a fan of the Botantics range, as they use natural plant extracts, the products are easy to understand, and it doesn’t break the bank (if you’re interested in an eye cream, I find this one really combats dark circles). I’ve been using this serum every morning and evening since boxing day after cleansing and toning, and I already love it.

My skin feels softer and more nourished which is definitely what it needs in this weather. At first I was slightly reluctant to buy anything like this as I didn’t want to make my skin oily, or my makeup not to blend as well, but it has been the complete opposite, and my skin drinks it up, just showing how much it was crying out for something like this! I’m kicking myself for not trying a serum sooner – I’ve been converted

If you’re in the market for a new serum, or just want to try one that is slightly more on the cheaper side, I would definitely recommend this one. It also smells amazing, which is always a plus in a skincare product.

What other serums would you recommend?

Shop the product here

xx

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I’ve had a bit of an odd week this week. If you follow me on social media, you might already know this, but I’ve had quite a bad bout of anxiety and a small panic attack towards the start of the week, and I haven’t been able to shake off the feeling of uneasiness. Saying that I’ve been looking forward to writing this post all week to have a little think back to smaller things that have made me smile. So here we are at the second instalment.

1. Making a Calendar

I didn’t know what to call this one really, but yep, I made my own calendar. Well, I say made, I actually just downloaded it off the internet, printed it, and colour coded all my plans for the first 4 months of the year. These include social plans, family plans, blog plans, important dates, birthdays and holidays. I know how much of a lame-o I sounds right now (especially with just actually writing the word lame-o) but it has helped me feel so much more control of my life (especially with how I’ve been feeling this week) and I hope I can keep on top of it and have things to look forward to.

2. Getting Organised

Following on from the first one, I feel like this week I have really managed to screw my head on and get organised with making plans for blogging, seeing friends and family, trips away and work: I even started a bullet journal! Last week felt like a bit of a blur with starting back after the bank holiday, and if I’m honest, I sort of felt like I was still in holiday mode. But despite feeling incredibly anxious towards the start of the week, I’m ready to take on January and the rest of the year. I’ve noticed as well that there is a lot of positive posts already in the blogging world about the new year, which is nice and refreshing after 2016.

3. Seeing Old Friends

This Wednesday I went to my friend’s for dinner, with another friend, both of whom I used to work with. We hadn’t all seen each other since before December, and spent most of the evening talking about weddings, holidays and babies (one of  the girls is a new mum!) It was really nice to catch up with them both, and it’s one of my goals (see how I didn’t say resolution…) to spend more time with people I don’t get to see as often. We also had a shepherds pie with sweet potato, which was something I’d never tried before and loved! Definitely a winter recipe I’ll be cooking up this month.

4. Olympus Pen

Yes I did it, I finally bought an Olympus Pen, not that I have any idea how to use it, but I am officially the owner of an actual camera! If I’m being honest, it did come last week, but I stupidly bought the camera with no lens, so I then had to fork out more money for one to go with it… One of my blogging goals for this year is to learn more about photography and cameras, and I’ve already been in talks with a friend about doing a photography course in the next couple of months. I researched this a lot about what camera I wanted, and spoke to a few different people in the industry, and the Olympus Pen came highly recommended for those who are just starting out with their photography, which is 100% me… I’m even so much of an amateur that I took it out on the first day without the battery!

5. My Homeware Post

I don’t want to use this blog to talk about my own work, but it was more of the process of writing Wednesday’s blog that I loved. I’ve always been a lover of homeware and finding new bits here and there, and this was the first time I had ever done a homeware wishlist. It helps as well that hopefully at some point this year I’ll be a homeowner, and can maybe buy a few of the things on the wishlist (or if people want to surprise me with a housewarming present, I could get on board with that too!)

6. Oxford 

This weekend I took my very first trip to Oxford to see one of my best friends who is living there until the end of the month. Oxford has always been one of those places that has been on my list to visit, but I’ve never found the time to, so this weekend was a great excuse. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and spent the evening catching up, eating amazing food and drinking, and on Sunday took a walk around the city, which was just as beautiful as I imagined. The girlie weekend was definitely needed and I can’t wait for the next one.

7. My First Trip to Zizzi

Obviously, I needed to get something food related in here! Whilst in Oxford today, we went for lunch at Zizzi after we all seemed to be craving pizza. I’ve never been to Zizzi despite the fact I eat pizza about 4 times a week, so I was really looking forward to it. Although the restaurant was really busy, we got our own booth and spent over two hours eating and chatting in there and it was the perfect end to a great weekend with two of my best friends. And the food was amazing too (I had the Sofia Rustica – chicken, pepperoni, spicy sausage, chillies and rosemary)

8. We Blog MCR

This evening when I got home I had a message off my friend Holly who runs the amazing blog Holly Goes Lightly and is the founder of the We Blog MCR group which I am a member of, asking me to be the blogger of the week for the weekly newsletter. Although it isn’t quite being asked to Buckingham Palace for afternoon tea, it did make me smile, and ended my week on a high which is definitely what I needed – so thank you, Holly!

xx

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I’m going to do a bit of a different post than what I’ve done before, and I’m pretty sure this will be the first one (but don’t hold me to that, I only went back to 2016…) Today’s post is going to be my 12 favourite homeware pieces of the moment – some of these I own, some I want and some I just think are pretty sweet. There’s a range of prices here, so hopefully something for every wallet.

In my ripe old age of 26, I find myself looking more and more towards homeware, and receiving it for birthday and Christmas presents, instead of fluorescent nail varnishes and liquid black eyeliner, and to be honest, I am a-ok with that. It almost feels better investing in something for your home, rather than a piece of clothing, but maybe that’s just me… (I’m hoping it’s not!)

Hope you enjoy and maybe even find a lil something for yourself!

Where to find them

1. Neom Lavender, Basil & Jasmine Candle – £30

2. Next Marble Effect Kettle – £35

3. New Look Metallic Cushion – £13

4. Kitchen Aid – £399

5. Robert’s Radio – £180

6. Habitat Copper Vase – £12

7. M&S Photo Frame – £12

8. Oliver Bonas Clock – £35

9. Cath Kidston Mug – £7

10. Dunelm 3 x Heart Bowls – £10

11. Wilko Copper Lantern – £12

12. H&M Home Pineapple Glass Jar – £8

xx

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I mentioned back in this post that I wanted to start doing a weekly blog about what I’d been up to, what I was thankful for and what I loved to in the previous 7 days… and here we are today! I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep these up as a regular occurrence and that you’ll enjoy reading them. It’ll be a nice reminder as well of all the little things I got up to in the year that ordinarily I might have forgotten. I’m going to try and keep this post on a Sunday, but if life gets in the way, I apologise in advance.

1. Getting back into a routine

Even reading that back makes me feel like a massive sad case for actually looking forward to getting back to work, but I really was. Over Christmas, my sleeping pattern was all over the place, I was eating all of the food 24/7 and I barely stepped foot in the gym – so this week it was nice to get back to some sort of normality (even if it did mean finishing off the celebrations in the office for no future temptation!)

2. Yoga with Adriene

You might have heard of this YouTube channel, but if not, you can find it here. One of my new year’s resolutions was to get back into yoga and start back at my old Saturday morning class, but unfortunately this week I couldn’t get to it. Instead, I’d been recommended Adriene’s yoga revolution, which sees you doing around 30 minutes of yoga every day for the month of January. Now, I’ll admit, I’ve only done this once, so I’m already behind, but even if I don’t stick to it every day, it’s a great channel to come back to time and time again if you want to do yoga at home.

3. Blogosphere Magazine

Like most of the population, my wages really didn’t go too far this month with having to pay off Christmas and my impending credit card bill, but saying that, I found enough money to pay for a Blogosphere 6 month subscription. I meant to ask for it as a Christmas present but I completely forgot, so I felt like I should treat myself, even if it does mean I can’t afford to put petrol in my car for the rest of the month. I started reading it over the weekend whilst the other half was watching the football, and already I’m hooked. If you’re a blogger or into the whole world of social media, I couldn’t recommend this magazine more. It’s easy to read, has great interviews and engaging content. I can’t wait for next month’s already!

4. Botanics Serum

If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen me raving about this the other night, but I’ve only been using it since boxing day and my skin already feels softer and more supple. I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be the year I up my skincare routine in general and maybe even start to apply anti-ageing creams because this 26 year old isn’t getting any younger (yes I did just do a little cry to myself…) so this serum was my starting point.

5. Catch-Ups

My bank holiday Monday started with a catch up at a local coffee shop with one of my oldest friends Emily. Although we only live 15 minutes from each other, we really struggle to find time to meet up mainly because of our hectic schedules (mainly hers!) It was really nice to chat to someone who knows me inside out but also have loads to fill each other in on whilst trying to ignore the fact there was 5 cakes behind me (see top picture!). She also brought her laptop to show me how easy it is to edit videos for YouTube, so you could be seeing a lot more of my content!

6. Rejuvenate Clinic

Towards the end of last year I was invited to have a complimentary treatment at Rejuvenate Clinic in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, and this week I went to meet the manager to talk about what I wanted to go for. Rejuvenate specialise in non-surgical procedures and making their customers feel the best they can about themselves. I won’t give too much away about what I’m having done, as they’ll be a blog post on it coming in the next few weeks, but the whole experience was really informative. If you want to know any more about their treatments, visit their website here.

7. Wedding Invite

On Thursday I got home from work to a save the date for my cousin’s wedding in August. This specific cousin is from my Dad’s side of the family and someone who I barely get to see so it’ll be so nice to spend her special day with her and the rest of the family. One of the challenges I’ve set myself for this year is to spend more time with the people I love, and this will be something to look forward to (and buy a new dress for!) So far I’ve got three weddings to look forward to this year!

8. Country Drives

On New Year’s Day we tried to go to our local National Trust park, but because it was sunny, and everyone had the same idea as us, we couldn’t find anywhere to park. Instead we decided to have a drive through the countryside, which is only about 10 minutes from my house, and something I want to do more of this year. The day was absolutely beautiful, and the sun was a couple of hours from setting so the lighting was gorgeous too and it was a great way to start the year off.

xx

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Think again.

I wanted to write this blog as a sort of off the cuff response to some of the negativity surrounding the blogging community in the past few months. I usually turn a blind eye to things like this; however, this time round, I felt I should stand up not only for this incredibly prominent industry, but also my friends, fellow bloggers and those who inspire me. Some people might not understand blogging and think that we are wasting our time online, but you can’t deny the fact that influencers are taking over the digital landscape – slowly but surely.

You may or may not have heard about Vogue’s arbitrary article last year suggesting that Bloggers and YouTubers are ‘pathetic’ and should ‘find another industry’, and quite frankly it is comments like this that anger me about people’s day-to-day jobs and livelihood. These people dedicate a lot of time, effort and money to their own ‘brand’ identity and blog, and just because they work for themselves, doesn’t make them any less of an entity in the world of business and marketing. In fact, bloggers and YouTubers have such a large and genuine following that they are more influential to millennials then a ‘regular’ celebrity ever will be. And if you’re clever in your marketing, you’ll use this to your advantage.

I’ll be the first to admit I am not a full-time blogger, and that this is merely a hobby: I work full-time and try to blog as much as possible which changes week in week out, because hey, that’s life – but I do feel very strongly about this industry which has opened so many doors for me, introduced me to new and influential people and allowed me to try different and exciting things that usually I would never get the chance to do… so I thought it was about time that I personally stand up against the criticism.

To me, the niche of blogging falls under the ‘Digital Marketing, Social Media & Content Creation’ umbrella which is ever-changing and will continue to do so with the invention of new social platforms, creative agencies and brands in general. Track back 10 years, and no one could have predicted how big the blogging scene would be, or that you could even consider it to be your full-time job which to me is just a massive indication of how far this industry has come – and there’s no chance it’s stopping there.

For most people working in Marketing now, creating content, writing blogs and maintaining a website, are generally just part of our day jobs and something that we can do with our eyes closed (apart from the hoops we have to jump through, the people we have to OK everything with, and the endless proof reads we need to do…) but you get the picture. I didn’t study Marketing at university, and everything I know is self-taught or learned through previous roles, but I don’t think that has hindered me at all in my career or for my blog.

Most of the bloggers I know personally, alongside those I read a lot of, work in Social Media, PR, Outreach or Marketing (ordinarily in the digital sector) which comes as no surprise, as this crazy world is clearly an innate interest. To me, there is a massive overlap of what we learn day to day inevitably helping us to create our own content, build our own websites and promote our brands… and vice versa.

Working in the industry helps me to appreciate how hard full-time bloggers work to make money, increase traffic to their blogs and create engaging posts that make people want to come back time and time again. I only blog when I have time and sometimes still feel completely overwhelmed with the pressure of it all and want to call it a day, so I can only imagine what full timers go through. Let’s also touch on the fact that brands sometimes will only work with bloggers if they have over 2k, 5k, 10k followers on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube, regardless of how good their content is. To get to that point can takes months, even years, and a hell of a lot of engagement across numerous social platforms that we’re meant to be able to manage ourselves – but how can we do this when the majority of us work full time? Well the fact is, a lot of us struggle.

Sure, we can schedule tweets, photos and Facebook posts, but sometimes they come across as so automated and transparent that it can actually do you more harm than good.

And then comes the expense…

Yes, technically it is free to set up a blog; but what about when you want to buy your own domain because having .wordpress or .blogspot looks unprofessional? It costs. And what about if you want a blog template that is a bit more fancy and personalised and isn’t a standard, generic one from blogger? It costs. And what about if you want to up your photography game to not be left behind when everyone else’s blogs looks über glossy with beautiful photos? It costs. So you may think that bloggers and Youtubers have it easy, but in reality, they have to invest in a lot of equipment for sometimes no return for the first few years.

And then there’s the technical side of it all…

How do you make one blog rank higher in Google search terms? How do you get your blog noticed when you work 40 hours a week? How do you increase traffic to your site, remain genuine but keep people wanting to read more? How do you know what to class your blog as if you’re touching on a whole range of different topics? How do you up your Instragram and Twitter followers without wanting to gauge your own eyes out at how hard it can be. And how can you use your SEO knowledge to up your DA and get on the radar of the bigger brands?

You can see where I’m going with this… Not so easy right?

And those are just some of the questions that bloggers face on a daily basis amongst many, many more. They also have to be constantly on the ball replying to comments, tweets and emails, but also not letting the negativity that comes with it all affect them. When you work in an office, you will rarely get a colleague calling you fat, ugly or telling you they hate the way you did your makeup: But for online influencers who put their whole life on the internet, this can be a reality. It’s hard enough harbouring your own insecurities on a daily basis, but when you create something that you hope people are going to love and relate to, the occasional antagonism can be quite overwhelming.

As I’ve said, I can only talk from my own experience as a part-time blogger, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had quite a positive experience overall, but I think something needed to be said for people who don’t believe that permanent bloggers have a real job, that it’s easy and they should find something better to do – quite frankly, these people work all hours under the sun, dedicate their evenings and weekends to creating content that their audience will enjoy, and have to find the motivation to keep doing it day in and day out. But thank god they do.

So if you think blogging is easy – think again!

xx

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