Saturday, 31 October 2015

October's Blog Spotlight Post

I'm very happy to have restarted my Blog Spotlight post - introducing you to some new bloggers you'll hopefully want to follow and showing you my favourite posts from around the Blogosphere. This month, I've got four blogs I'd like to introduce you to, and five favourite posts I think you should check it. Let's get on with it then shall we?

The first blog I'm going to introduce you to this month is the Aymie Louise Blog, who I've really enjoyed getting to know over the last month. Aymie's blog covers a little bit of everything, including lifestyle, fashion and beauty and was a new discovery for me. I've enjoyed reading her blog as I just love blogs that cover a little bit of everything - and better than that, finding her blog has let me get to know Aymie a little bit as well, which I'm very happy about as she's just lovely to chat to! This month, I've particularly enjoyed reading Aymie's Glossybox unboxing which I appreciated as it was a really honest review about the products - and I do love a good beauty box, even if I'm not subscribed to any myself anymore! I also really liked her make up tutorial on creating a carnival inspired Halloween look - I especially like how she's done the products around the eyes, it may be a bit late for me to do it for Halloween but I reckon I can make the eye makeup work year round if I try hard enough...! Aymie has lots of travel posts at the moment, but my personal favourite was her post on must see sights of Hong Kong. I found it a really interesting read and it is a place I plan to go to eventually so one that may come in handy for me! If you haven't read it yet, I also posted a Q&A with Aymie last week which you can read here if you're interested in learning a bit more about her!

Follow Aymie; Blog // Bloglovin' // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

The second blog I'm going to be introducing you to is another blog that's new to me, Tea in The Tub, written by Helen. I would describe Helen's blog as a lifestyle, beauty and travel blog with an emphasis on cruelty free products. Right now, Helen's living in Australia but is from the UK herself, so it's been interesting reading all about her adventures there! This month, I've enjoyed reading her review of Lush's Celebrate body lotion - I haven't even looked at the Christmas products this year, but maybe this is a hint that I should be!  She also took part in the 50 Things That Make Me Happy tag which I know is always a popular one (if only I was more optimistic and less ranty hey?) complete with pictures - I think these posts are always a good way to get to know a blogger a bit better! And finally, the post I have found the most interesting to read is her post on doing regional farmwork in Australia. I found this to be such an interesting read and am deliberatley not writing too much about it here as I think it's one you should really read for yourself - I especially loved the pictures that came with it and hope to see more on this!

Follow Helen; Blog // Bloglovin // Twitter // Instagram

The third blog I'm introducing you to this month is one I'm very happy to be featuring as it's a blog I've been following myself for quite some time; Hello Miss Jordan! I can already give you a bazillion reasons to follow Jordan, as I've always been a big fan of her posts. She's a lifestyle and fashion blogger who posts the most beautiful pictures and photoshoots and has awesome taste in, uh, pretty much everything? But alas, I do have to pick out my three favourite posts for you this month as difficult as it may be. Actually, the first one is pretty easy, as it's Jordan's post on a photoshoot she did in this gorgeous New York dress. I love everything about this photoshoot - the dress looks great, the location is stunning, and of course Jordan looks gorgeous in it as well! I also enjoyed her post on some cute Cornwall Soapbox candles she's been loving lately - It's not a company I'd heard of before and I do appreciate me some good candles so I think these are probably some I should be checking out myself. Finally, I'd have to pick Jordan's post on The Bloggers' Blog Awards. There are some really lovely pictures on there and the event looks like it was so much fun!

Follow Jordan; Blog // Bloglovin // Facebook // Instagram // Pinterest // Twitter

The final blog I'm introducing you to this month is Ballpoints and Biscuits, written by Pippa. Pippa's blog is very much a lifestyle one and talks about her adventures (with lots of pretty photos!), gives advice and anecdotes and keeps you up to date on what she's been up to. This month I enjoyed reading her Borough Market haul - which I'm pretty jealous of by the way! Despite living pretty close I haven't actually been to Borough Market in quite some time and I don't think I've ever actually bought anything there before - I'm very much the person who goes around and samples all the free cheeses and leaves it at that! I also enjoyed reading about her trip to Amsterdam, which is somewhere I keep meaning to visit but never quite get around to. Clearly I should hurry up with this as her photos look amazing! Another post that I think some of you would find really useful is her post on tips for freshers; so if you've just headed off to university or it's something you're thinking about, this is the one for you!

Follow Pippa; Blog // Bloglovin // Instagram // Pinterest // Twitter

Five Posts I've Enjoyed This Month...

Want to be included next month?
If you'd like a full blog write up and twitter mentions like Aymie, Helen, Jordan and Pippa then you'll need to head on over to my advertising page, here. Adverts start from from $5 which is just £3.26 and gives you a full write up and twitter mentions. For $10/£6.52 you can get a three month package, and for $15/£9.78 you can get the gold package, which puts you at the top of the sidebar, the top of the blog spotlight post, and also gets you an individual Q&A or guest post. If you'd like to be in my five posts I've enjoyed - you just need to have written a post I've come across and enjoyed the most, simple as that! 


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ten Tips for Coping With Shift Work

I realise that for most of my readers, shift work probably isn't something you're going to be doing any time soon, however I still felt that it was worth making a little post all about how I personally cope with doing shift work in the hopes that it will help somebody - or perhaps even help somebody to understand a friend who works silly hours!

I work rotating shift work round the clock - which means that in any given week I'll have done a few early sessions, a few late sessions, and a few night sessions. Here's my top ten tips to coping with doing such a pattern, and managing a decent work-life balance.

  1. Try a few different things. I initially tried to slowly move my sleep time forward by a few hours each night so that I'd be consistent about it and hopefully my body would adjust to it. Unfortunately, that didn't work for me at all and I was completely out of it the entire time I tried that - but it works for some, so give it a go and see if that's something that works for you! With this kind of thing, you really just need to experiment.
  2. Plan your weeks out in advance. The concept of days very quickly loses all meaning to you - I very rarely have a clue what day it actually is, I just know that I have something to do on that day. Keep really organised in terms of writing out all your shifts or filling them out on your phone - and I'd recommend colour coding them as well for quick reference. I colour code mine for earlies, lates, nights, personal things, and then another colour for when I'm doing special shifts that are a bit out of the ordinary - even if they only start an hour earlier or later than normal they get this colouring as otherwise I'm likely to have a quick glance and just assume it's my normal hours.
  3. Keep your social life going. It's really common for people who work shifts to just stay with other people who do as it's much easier. Don't do this! It's more difficult, but it can be done. I prioritise my social life to the extent that I'm usually knackered when I do an early shift - I never regret this.
  4. On that note - plan your social things in advance. I like to have a lot of main things a whole month in advance, and then I fit in friends closer to dates as and when I can.
  5. However - leave your fitness things to the last minute. You don't know how you're going to be feeling, and if one shift is going to effect you more than it normally does. I very rarely book classes more than a few hours in advance now and just keep a spare gym kit in my locker. It's more important that you get the rest that you need in order to recover so if you're not feeling up to it, don't go.
  6. Accept your body clock, and don't get annoyed with it. Are you one of those people who doesn't really have one and can sleep and wake up at any time? Great, then you'll have no problem. If you're like me, you're not so lucky - I will wake up by twelve at the latest regardless of whether I went to sleep at 8am. This means that by the end of my first night shift I'll have been awake for 25 hours straight, and by the end of my second I'll have probably managed a grand total of about two hours sleep and am a complete mess. There's nothing I can do about that, so it's best to just expect it's going to happen and have a contingency plan of low level activities rather than get annoyed about it. As for my early and late shifts, I go to sleep about the same time after them - if it's an early shift I sleep at about midnight anyway, and if it's a late shift I go to sleep as soon as I get in. This works for me, for others it's better to keep moving your hours forward.
  7. Know when you're functional and when you're not. I am grumpy but otherwise okay when I'm doing early shifts. I am super functional when I'm doing late shifts. On the day before my first night shift I'm completely fine, on the in between night shifts I am a complete useless mess, and on the day that the night shifts finish I'm just useless. Know when you're going to be a functioning person and plan your life around that.
  8. If you're like me and do have shifts where you're just not functional afterwards - accept this, rather than get annoyed about it. I have a pack of low level activities that I do on those days and fully expect to not leave the house because I just don't have the energy. I colour, I have a different Netflix profile for shows that don't require too much effort, and all I eat is cereal and plain pasta. I know it's going to happen, so I just make it part of my lifestyle. Do your laundry or any mundane tasks those days too!
  9. Experiment with naps. I'm the only person on my team who can't nap. If you can, great, do it and maybe you'll function better than me. I've tried repeatedly - most of the time I just lie there getting angry and frustrated, or I successfully nap and wake up feeling much worse than if I hadn't bothered. I now know that for me it's just better to not even try, no matter how tired I get, as it's just going to make me worse.
  10. After your final night shift, make sure you don't allow yourself to sleep past twelve or so. If you're me, that's no problem because your body clock will wake you up for then anyway. If you don't, set an alarm and make sure you stay awake no matter how crap you feel - it'll make it much easier to adjust to your rest days, and then your early shifts after that.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Beauty Review: Little Ondine Nail Polishes

I've been really wanting to try out Little Ondine for quite some time now. For those of you who don't know, Little Ondine is a nail polish brand with a difference - their polishes peel off! This idea was fantastic for someone like me. I can't wear nail polish any more as I'm not allowed to have it at work, to the extent that even a few little leftover specs would get me into trouble. Even before that was the case, I just hated getting the stuff off as it would take so long, especially if I wore something glittery, so I would basically just leave it on forever until it came off by itself - not a good look!

But at last, I decided to give Little Ondine a go, and picked out four colours.

 First up is Sorbet. I bought this one thinking it would be a nice subtle yellow colour - it's actually brighter than I expected it to be, to the extent that I only needed one coat of it! This is a really pretty shade, but definitely not a discreet one!

 Next up is Bang Bang. I wanted a vibrant pink, and that's exactly what I got! This is a very pretty pink and comes out exactly how you'd expect it to from the bottle. Again, I only really needed one coat of this to get it looking exactly how I wanted.

 Next up is Admiration, and honestly, I'm so disappointed by this colour. In the bottle the colour is absolutely beautiful - I couldn't be happier when I took it out and saw how pretty it was as it was exactly what I wanted. However, unfortunately this colour just doesn't show up all that well. I put on three layers and it still just wasn't showing up as well as it should which was such a disappointment as the bottle colour is so gorgeous.

Finally, we have Red Red Wine. I wanted this one as it looked like a really pretty Autumn colour. It's darker than I expected it to be so one layer is definitely enough, but an overall pretty colour though probably not for daily wear!

 I was pleased with these polishes overall as I wasn't really sure what to expect. They go on nicely, although do take quite some time to dry - though Little Ondine have always been upfront about this, they aren't something that you can put on when you're in a rush really as you'll inevitably get it all over everything!

 As for how well they come off? Pretty well. They can be quite hard to get a grip on, but when you do it peels off sort of like when you used to put glue all over your hands when you were a kid just so you could pull it all off again! Personally I had a little bit of trouble getting started with actually peeling them off, but that's almost certainly because I have no nails so find it hard to get it started - if you don't destroy your nails like I do, I don't think you'd have any problem with this. Once you've got a grip on it, the majority of time it peeled off in one go - only a few times did it leave random little bits to pull off. Either way, definitely much faster than having to go at it the old fashioned way!

All of these polishes cost me £8.40 each, with the exception of Bang Bang (the pink) which cost £9.20.

If you'd like to buy your own, you can do so through the Little Ondine website.

Have you tried out Little Ondine yet? Which colour is your favourite?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Introducing Aymie, of the Aymie Louise Blog!

This month, I'd like to introduce you all to Aymie, of the AymieLouise Blog. Aymie is very much a lifestyle blogger, also posting about fashion and beauty - and more recently, lots of travel posts too that make me only a little bit bitter that I'm out of holiday days this year. Have a look below to read her answers to a little Q&A we did, then scroll on down to the bottom to get all of her social media links - and don't forget to check out her blog too, of course!

Tell us a bit about yourself, and what sort of posts people can expect to find if they follow your blog?
My blog covers lifestyle fashion and beauty but I like to add in the odd post or series about travel, my posts are really quite varied so if you like to read blogs about a mix of topics you'll hopefully enjoy mine.

You've got lots of travel posts up at the moment - What are the three places you'd love to visit next?
That's a super tough question, I keep writing posts about travel bucket lists or wishlists but it's always difficult to pin-point just three... I do want to check out Los Angeles, Milan and Barcelona though.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Restaurant Review: Hawksmoor Knightsbridge

I'm pretty sure everyone who lives in or near London has heard of Hawksmoor, very well known for their high quality steaks and beautiful venues. I'd never actually been to Hawksmoor, although I'd really wanted to for the longest time, as they're a bit pricey to go out and try and they are one of those places that never seems to do any deals - because of course, they don't have to! So I was very excited when I saw that they were offering a set menu deal as part of October's London Restaurant Festival. As I had a steak loving friend with a birthday coming up, this was the best opportunity I could think of to go and give it a go!

For my starter, I had the above salad. It was absolutely delicious! I genuinely don't think I have ever had a nicer salad.

 I don't actually like steak, so for my main I had the hake and chose the side of salad. It was really nice! My friend did of course have the steak and he absolutely loved it and said he hadn't had a better one - I tried a bit and even I liked it! He chose triple cooked chips for his side, and they were delicious as well. As you can see above, we halved both of the sides so we could have a bit more variety to it.

 Finally, the pudding. And OH MY GOD GUYS I don't think I have ever had a pudding I enjoyed more. I had this peanut butter shortbread with ice cream and it was so good, and so creative. The peanut butter isn't too strong so it just added a really nice flavour to it. Then, when you approach the middle you find a surprising treat inside the centre of the star too! This was so delicious I just want more.

My friend on the other hand got this lemony yogurt cheesecake. Again it was really interesting and really delicious. My star was better, but I really liked both!

Overall I really enjoyed my trip to Hawksmoor. This was a brilliant menu and at really good value - I thoroughly enjoyed every course, and I don't say that lightly as the London restaurant scene has been really disappointing me recently unfortunately. I will definitely be looking at visiting them again soon, though most likely in one of their other venues just for a bit of variety, and ordering off their a la carte menu this time. If you'd like to visit yourself, you can get all the details from their website, here!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Bloggers' Hangout; Bloggers Pop Up Kitchen event review

I recently attended the Bloggers' Pop Up Kitchen, hosted by Bloggers' Hangout, and thought I'd share a little bit of information about some of my favourite brands that I discovered at the event - as well as a little bit about how I felt about the event overall! 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

2015's Beauty Advent Calendars - My Top 10

Last year I didn't jump on the beauty advent calendar and I really regretted it. I really liked the idea, but firstly things that I wanted started to sell out really quickly, then I thought I'd get one on boxing day but then when I actually turned up to get it it just wasn't as appealing anymore as the novelty had worn off a bit...! First world problems, I know.

Anyway, since there's about a zillion offerings this year, here's my top ten favourite calendars available this year to hopefully help you choose the one you'd like to get if you're thinking of giving one a try this year. They are ordered from lowest to highest price!
Bomb Cosmetics - £19
A much cheaper alternative to Lush's offering, Bomb Cosmetics' calendar provides you with 24 bath bombs at a very affordable price! Of course BOMB's bombs (urgh!) aren't quite as over the top and spectacular as Lush's are, but I still think they more than do the job and like to have a little stash of them waiting for when I need them. If you're the same or haven't tried one of their products before, this one may be worth giving a go!

First of all, I'm very surprised to be putting this calendar in the cheaper end of this post, but of course that's definitely not a bad thing. Benefit's calendar was probably the biggest calendar success of last year, selling out pretty much everywhere very early on. This year they've gone a bit smaller, and the calendar comes with 12 mini products of favourites including The Porefessional and They're Real mascara (which I love to the extent that I got three of them last time they were on sale, so...) A smaller selection than last years, but this one doesn't come with any of the strange filler products that the last one did so perhaps not such a bad thing. This is one of the ones I'm definitely considering as I only own a few Benefit products but I really like what I do have, and this seems like a great value way to discover more of them.

Ciate - £49
Sadly I can already tell you that this product isn't one that I'll be buying as I'm not allowed to wear nail polish at work so what would the point be? However, this is a fantastic looking box. I always look forward to seeing what Ciate brings out each year as I know they can always be counted on to release a really pretty box, with some really pretty shades. I love that this year there seems to be a big focus on the pastel shades as well as a few glitters - This is a really nice selection.

Lush - £49
At time of writing, I can't actually find out what's in this box but of course it's all Lush products, and if you like the Lush scents then I'm certain you'll like these. I think it's a little disappointing that the box is so expensive - I actually think the price is a bit disproportionate compared to what other companies have released this year. Their Christmas goodies are always good though, so if you enjoy them then I'm sure you'll enjoy these!

YouBeauty Discovery - £59
I think this box has to be the best value of the year, as their products are worth over £330 which is amazing! I always enjoy seeing YouBeauty's boxes and was a subscriber for quite some time so I was looking forward to seeing what they'd be throwing out for Christmas, and this is definitely a good one. There's a great range of beauty products containing basically everything you'd ever need from lots of well known brands; Products include a Benefit mascara, a Burt's Bees deep cleansing cream, and an ESPA serum.

The Body Shop - £60/£80
I think The Body Shop's calendar may well be the one for me this year, as last year this was one of the two boxes I most regretted not buying. Although, having said that, I did more than alright in their boxing day sales which helped numb the pain a little bit! This year they're releasing two boxes, both featuring lots of brilliant products from across their range. For me I think I'm really leaning towards getting this box, and if I do I'm going to be going for the premium choice as it includes more of their Christmas range, and other ranges that I don't already own products from. I'm a big Body Shop fan and have never disliked a product I've owned from them, and if you're a fan too this is probably a good one to go with!

Look Fantastic - £70
Look Fantastic's box is another great value one, offering you products worth £220. Unfortunately though, they've provided almost no information about what you actually get in the box! I'm all for keeping a lot of the products a surprise and prefer not to know everything myself, but I need a little bit to work on if I'm going to give you an update about it so unfortunately I'm going to have to leave this one as is. I'm still including it in the post though, because LookFantastic are yet to do something I consider bad value so I'm sure they've got something great up their sleeves in this!

Selfridges - £95
Selfridges is another calendar that did really well this year, so I'm surprised by how reasonable I consider the price of this one to be - I really thought they'd take advantage and increase it, so I'm pleased to see that they haven't. I love the theme of this Cosmic Beauty box, and of course love some of the products that you're getting with it as well! What I will say though, is that this box is almost exclusive to three brands. They're great brands (YSL, Kiehl's, Lancome) but I think it's a bit disappointing that almost all of the box is just those three - especially when it's Selfridges, and I know they most definitely have a lot more variety they could have included for this.

Liberty's Advent Calendar - £149
Liberty's are another big one in the advent calendar game - and I'll be honest, I was actually surprised by the price as I thought they'd be charging a lot more for it. A traditionally Liberty's box, this one contains all sorts of luxury products from the likes of the big spa brands, ESPA, Dermalogica and Aromatherapy Associates as well as some of the make up biggies like NARS. This isn't personally one I'd go for, as though I love many of the spa products I'm just not sure how much of this would actually get used - but the value on this is over £400, so if this is something you'd be interested in then it looks like a good one!

Jo Malone Advent Calendar - £260
And finally, the most expensive advent calendar on my list is this offering from Jo Malone. Would I pay this much? Absolutely never. But if you would, and you're a fan of Jo Malone scents, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this giant box of Jo Malone treats!

That's my top ten over; what are your favourites?

Personally I do love the idea of these and sometimes I find it so hard to choose. Even more so when some of the boxes are offering such fantastic value and savings of literally hundreds - however, if I'm not actually going to use most of the products, is it really that much of a saving?! This year I'm definitely going to get hold of one though and not leave it too late like last year!


Monday, 12 October 2015

Clothes Haul; River Island, New Look and Oasis!

The first thing I have to show you this month is this absolutely gorgeous River Island bag. I very rarely actually buy anything from RI and whenever I do it always seems to be a bag, I have no idea what that's all about - but anyway, how cute is this? This bag cost £42 and I absolutely love it. It's a good size, goes with pretty much anything - the only bad thing I have to say about it is that the inside of it is quite rigid. This may be a plus for you, and obviously it means the bag doesn't lose it's shape, but it does mean if you're like me and fill your bag with tiny things it can be quite difficult to get them out again.

It wouldn't be one of my fashion hauls if Oasis didn't feature - so check out my new jumper! This is quite a thin jumper so it's not for the coldest of nights at all, but for Autumn I think it's a good choice. It's got a nice texture to it and I really like the colour. This jumper cost £25!

Also from Oasis is this floral boyfriend T-shirt. I've always been quite wary of buying a shirt in this style as it's so hard to predict how it'll look on, but I really liked the pattern so decided I'd give it a go and I'm really glad I did. The fit on it is actually really nice - it's oversized, of course, but still manages to look flattering, and this top is a great choice for both casual and more dressy events depending on what you pair it with. This top cost £32!

 Next up is the first of many New Look purchases this month. I don't remember the last time I bought anything from New Look, but I've really liked what they've brought out recently. This is also the first time I've bought a bracelet in, well, probably ever. This set cost £5.99 and I thought it was really pretty to make a nice addition to a simple Autumn outfit.

 Here come the socks! All three of these pairs were on an offer for three for £4, and I just love them all. I think these T-Rex socks are just perfect, the foxes are adorable, and the other dinosaur socks are really fun as well!

 I got this playsuit in the sale so it's definitely not weather appropriate to be worn for quite some time, but I am definitely thinking it'll work for a cruise outfit next year. The fabric is really nice and I really like the shape too. I find playsuits really questionable at the best of times but I really like the shape to this one though I'd definitely say it is holiday wear more than anything else. Still super pretty though! And it cost just £13.

 I'm really getting into florals lately, so I had to pick up this shirt. It's a simple design with a really bright pattern. I think it looks really good and again works well as both a casual and a more dressed up top depending on what you pair it with. £17.99!

 This is a bit of a difficult top to describe, so one of these days I'm going to have to actually do a proper outfit post. It's a double layered top so tucks up a bit at the front, and has a really interesting back design as well. Pictures don't quite do it justice! I really like this top as it seems quite simple at first but there's actually quite a lot to it, and it's really comfortable as well. £19.99!

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