Hi loves, happy Wednesday! Today’s post is a little light hearted and just-for-fun, but I also REALLY need to have things to look forward to for my own sanity too. My Spring bucket list should have gone live a few weeks ago but due to everything going on in the world it just didn’t seem right to post it, knowing that we (and you!) wouldn’t be able to do anything on the list. We are still completely unaware of how long the lockdown will last for – in the UK our lockdown is expected to be extended tomorrow – but I think we all know we’re in this for the long haul. I keep reminding myself every day that passes is a day closer to this all being over, but I really like having things to look forward to. If you’re an essential key worker who is working through this terrible time in potentially dangers and definitely stressful environments please know how much you mean to all of us! We’ll never be able to repay you for all you’ve done so far and will do in the future, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I’m so grateful that me, Matt, our families, friends and community are safe and healthy, and although lockdown is NOT fun, it’s so necessary.
From probably day three of lockdown Matt and I have been talking about all of the fun things we’ll do when Boris says we’re allowed out again, and it’s crazy how much we (unknowingly) took for granted! So many people are upset about holidays being cancelled which is understandable but looking at the bigger picture is so much more important. We’re being realistic and we’re pretty sure our family trip to Florida won’t be happening in October – it would have been Matt’s first visit and it was to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday 😦 – which we’re all devastated about, but in the grand scheme of things it is NOT a big deal. We can re-book our trip when it’s safe to do so, and it’s really a small price to pay! Matt and I were hoping to squeeze in city breaks to Lisbon and Krakow this year but honestly I’m not sure how long it’ll be before flights are running normally and we feel comfortable with international travel again. Everything in this list is things we can do in the UK, and some are really quite silly… if you told me I’d be so excited about walking around Tesco or Costco a month ago I’d think you were crazy!
Spend time with Matt’s parents and our grandparents! This is what we’re most excited for, we miss them all SO much!
Go to the movies
Enjoy the biggest family meal with Matt and I’s families at our favourite restaurant, Lollo Rosso
Walk around ‘Big’ Tesco for like… hours
Spend an afternoon (and probably night) in the beer garden with our friends
Celebrate Matt’s birthday, his new job and my birthday! We’ve already missed two of these and my birthday (May 17th) looks like it will be spent under lockdown too
Go for all of the Saturday morning breakfast dates at Postbox Coffee
Enjoy all the beach walks we possibly can
Go for a long drive. I miss driving SO MUCH
Have a picnic at Linhope Spout
Go makeup shopping and enjoy using all of the testers. Anybody else missing “non-essential” shopping?!
Visit Bolam Lake
Host a BBQ
Walk around Costco aimlessly, buying stuff we definitely do not need just because we can
Head for the Costa drive thru
Book a staycation at our favourite hotel (hence the feature photo! I’d do anything for a cosy night away in our favourite place)
Enjoy our late night McFlurry runs again
Re-schedule our getaway to Harrogate
Enjoy ALL of the date nights
Have a picnic in the park
Spend the day at The Alnwick Garden and eat lunch in the treehouse
Drive up to the Scottish Borders and just find a B&B to stay at for the night
Get back on track with weekly grocery shopping and meal planning. I’m so excited about this!!
Go beer tasting at our local brewery
Spend a weekend in the Lake District
Drive to pretty spots to watch the sunset
Enjoy a couples spa day
Go for early morning hikes
Buy candles at Homesense. I wish I was joking but I’m running LOW! Hahaha
Go for more double dates with our friends
Take walks in the countryside (it sure beats walking around our estate, that’s pretty much as far as we’re allowed to go right now!)
Eat at Wagamama’s, it’s definitely our favourite chain restaurant!
Spend Sunday mornings at Tynemouth Market
Go outlet shopping in York
Enjoy a girls night
Go out for Sunday lunch at our favourite countryside pubs
I hope this made you smile and gave you a few ideas of things you can also look forward to when lockdown ends! What is the first things you’ll be doing/planning when lockdown is over? What do you miss the most right now?!
Blogging is without a doubt my favourite hobby assuming that napping with my boyfriend is not considered a hobby but it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with my schedule when I work a full time job in the real world, that comes with it’s own problems and stresses. As lots of you will already know, I have a 9am to 5pm job in Accounts and Purchasing in the real world. I work Monday to Friday, so thankfully I have all of my evenings and weekends free which gives me lots of spare time. I always make sure to prioritise time with Matt, and our friends and family first, as well as allowing myself as much ‘me time’ as I need to keep my mental health feeling good. My blogging then slots in behind that, and I always try so hard to create good quality content that I’m proud of.
I started writing my blog in June 2017, after being a dedicated reader of so many blogs for years. I always thought it was something I wouldn’t be good at doing; I lacked the confidence to create one, and I had no idea where to start with the technical side of things either. I’ve talked about my feelings on this subject a little in this post, but I am SO glad I finally took the leap and created my little corner of the internet, after lots of encouragement from Matt. He’s an absolute gem and I’m forever grateful for all of his support, I love him so much! I’ve learned such a huge array of things already about the blogging world, and I’m still learning every day. My blog is my pride and joy, it’s literally like a little baby I want to look after and feed with all of the good stuff, and it feels so good to do something that’s just for me, but also benefits other people. To be honest, even if nobody read my blog I’d still write, it brings me so much joy and a sense of calm that I didn’t know I needed.
I’ve spoken many times on my blog, in various posts, about the fact that Matt and I’s schedules vary so much – there’s a little more background in this post – due to his varying shifts at work. Matt’s hours fluctuate each week, as do his days off, so we always make sure to make the most of time together, and make that our first priority. As a result, my blogging time to brainstorm ideas, write, edit, take photographs etc varies day by day, week by week. At least twice per week Matt starts work early, which means he’s getting up at 6am. I like to get up for the day with him and make his breakfast then when he leaves for work I will work on my blog, and try to squeeze in a yoga practice, before getting ready for the day. He works until late a few times per week, so again my main focus on those evenings is to work on my blog for X amount of time before he gets home, if I don’t have other plans or errands to run. Weekends also vary a lot, although recently we’ve been super lucky and he’s had lots of days off with me! Where possible, I take at least four hours during his work day when I’m at home to work on my blog, and get things pre-planned for the coming week(s). These big chunks of time come in so handy because I can get so much done! I generally tend to just take any spare time I have to create content, and although I don’t have the same daily schedule it seems to work well, and I’m able to run my blog around my life, rather than run my life around my blog.
If we have a few busy weeks in a row it makes it so much harder to ‘fit’ blogging in around the rest of my life, and that’s when I feel stressed out with keeping my hobby going to the high standards I’ve set myself. It sometimes can get a little overwhelming and there have been times I’ve put up a post because it was scheduled for that specific day, even though I haven’t been 100% happy with it. That is something I really don’t want to do again as I feel that’s an unfair reflection of my blog, and it makes me feel a bit rubbish. I appreciate that I’m able to write and edit on my phone, so sometimes I take a little time out of my work day, during my lunch break, to do so. I generally prefer to write on my laptop (or Matt’s) at home though, so I only use my phone to write/edit when I’m feeling a little behind. From my very first post I set myself a blogging schedule – which has since slightly changed due to realising the ‘peak’ times people read posts – but I alwaysstick to it, and post twice per week. I like having continuity in my posts as that’s something I appreciate from my favourite bloggers.
I always write my posts in advance, and I usually have at least five to six posts pre-written, that are then edited a few days before going live. I plan ahead by months sometimes, which sounds a little crazy but I generally have lots of ideas at one time, so I like to plan them in as and when I think of them. I’m so Type A, LOL. I used to include a paragraph at the start of each post about what I’d been up to that week or weekend; any restaurants Matt and I had been to, what we’re watching on TV etc, but that’s something I’ve since stopped doing as I felt it was getting repetitive and took away from the topic(s) in my posts unnecessarily. Sometimes I see that a similar post to what I’ve written has been posted by someone else a little earlier than mine is planned, and I always worry that it looks as though I’m stealing their ideas, although I promise my ideas are all my own! I’m influenced by lots other bloggers – both big and small – in many ways, but I would never copy somebody else’s work or thoughts.
The biggest ‘struggle’ I have when it comes to my blogging schedule is taking photos to go with my pre-written posts. During the Winter months when it was dark before I went to work, and dark when I came home, I would try to take as many photographs as possible during the three hour window it was light every two weeks, and then end up stressed if I had other plans or it wasn’t bright enough outside anyway. I try to take lots of photographs at one time now, so I can edit and upload them together, and this alleviates a little of the stress of always having to take new photos. As I mentioned above, I feel like a lot of the struggles I feel regarding my blog are because I have set myself such high standards, but realistically if a post went up a day later, or didn’t have ‘enough’ photos, nobody would notice (or care) anyways.
I am very happy with, and proud of, my blog (I love my re-design that I did in March – I even had to write code, guys!) but I can’t help sometimes feeling discouraged when I inevitably compare myself to other bloggers. Blogging is not something that brings home the bacon for me, and although I have no idea what will happen in the future, it’s something that right now I love to do regardless, and I enjoy every aspect even with the stress I sometimes feel. That being said, now and then I feel like my blog isn’t good enough, and I can be really hard on myself about that. Sometimes when I read other bloggers’ paid or sponsored posts, seeing how much they are given by brands (those new CMA and ASA rules made this abundantly clear) and how much engagement they get on other platforms, can sometimes really get to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard blogging can be first hand, and I know that most bloggers work so hard and are extremely deserving of their success, it just sometimes worries me that I won’t ever get *there*, wherever there is. These worries are thankfully few and far between, and it’s normal to sometimes doubt yourself, right? It’s a little bit hard to admit that I can feel that way from time to time, and I know some people wouldn’t share that.
I think blogging often seems like sunshine and rainbows to the outside world, but it’s important to be realistic and remember that there are deadlines (albeit, set by myself), a sense of stability and continuity in my posts, and a constant need to be creative. I’m not the most creative person in the world – you should see my art projects as a child, wow! – but when it comes to writing, that’s my thing. I love sharing parts of my life, whether it’s what Matt and I have been up to, products I enjoy using or just my general thoughts and feelings on a subject, and again that’s something I really appreciate in other bloggers’ posts. I also feel the same about YouTube; it’s the boring, at-home-and-running-errands vlogs that interest me the most, not the wow-look-at-this-super-amazing-trip vlogs, although they can be a guilty pleasure from time to time. (Especially Disney World vlogs!) I’ve heard from several people, some of which I know personally and some I do not, that they love seeing a little sneak peek into my everyday life, and I recognise that I’m so blessed to have a platform to share that. I think I just need to stay in my own lane, remember that I’m being true to myself no matter what, and above all continue to put so much time, love and energy into my blog.
If you’re reading this post and hoping to start a blog, or maybe you already have a blog and struggle with finding time to create the content you so badly want to, don’t worry. Look at your schedule, carve time out where it’s possible andnever give up. It’s going to be difficult now and then, but you’ll never get anywhere without lots of hard work and perseverance, and that’s true for all things in life. There may be various stressful situations occasionally, but you must put yourself and your mental health first! Make sure to take time out when you need it, and if it means skipping an upload day or pushing it back, I promise your readers will understand. That’s advice I need to take for myself, too.
Thank you so much for reading! I say it in every post but it truly means the world to me; I appreciate every view, comment and like more than you know. Do you feel any of the struggles or stress I’ve mentioned in this post, as you juggle writing your blog with working full time? Do you have any advice or tips that may help me or other bloggers? Please leave them in the comments below!
I am so excited to share my first monthly goals post on my blog, and I hope (if you enjoy it) it can become a semi-regular feature. I love to set goals for myself and it’s something that encourages me and motivates me like nothing else. I generally keep my goals private, and only would share my current goals with Matt, but I think it’s good to hold myself accountable by writing them for the world to see. I wrote this post towards the end of 2018, to set myself some goals before the new year rolled around. I’m still working on some of those right now, and I also wrote a post about the goals I want to achieve in 2019.
May is going to be a good month, I can feel it! Matt and I had so much fun in April, but it wasn’t the best month for me as I struggled a lot with my anxiety and felt a bit rubbish. April did however see a huge increase in traffic for my blog which was unexpected, and I can’t tell you how excited and grateful I am for that. I’m enjoying blogging more and more as the months roll on, and seeing the rise in people reading posts, liking and commenting makes it feel that little bit extra special. It’s also my birthday month – I turn 25 on May 17th – to celebrate Matt and I are heading for a little spa break and we’re so excited! There’s two bank holidays this month, hopefully the warm weather from April bank holiday weekend will return, and we’re going to have so many fun date days/nights. So, what are my goals for this month, and what steps am I taking to achieve them?
Worry less I’m pretty sure from now until the day I die, my daily goal will be to worry less. I’m a perfectionist, I care too much what other people think, and I’m always striving to please everyone around me, even those that don’t really matter. I really want to work on this, although I find it’s much harder than it sounds when I attempt to put it into practice. I’m starting with giving myself that extra little bit of self love, believing in all of the wonderful things Matt says to/about me, and trying to live in the moment more. I know life is so short, and we should focus on ourselves way more than we do, it’s just hard to find that perspective when I need it. It goes without saying that my anxiety does not help with this and, as mentioned above, I’ve been feeling very anxious recently, although I’ve been unable to pin down exactly why. I’m hoping my head will feel a little clearer this month, and I can enjoy each day without feeling that little cloud hovering over me.
Make better food choices Throughout April, Matt and I were trying so hard to eat better. We’ve always generally ate well for breakfast and dinner, but it was the bit in the middle of the day (and sometimes the evening) that was the struggle. We’re self-confessed snackers, and we’re prone to snuggling up to watch our TV shows in the evening with a bag of popcorn or a pack of Haribo. We’re not cutting out everything bad for us and we’re definitely still eating the things we love in moderation, we’re just trying to be a little more aware of what we put into our bodies. I’d love to lose a little weight before our holiday next month, too! Our four main goals are; more vegetables, more fruit, less sugar and less red meat. I talked about this in lots of detail in a previous post last month, but we really love to experiment and cook different dishes for dinner, and we’re trying to make at least two new recipes a week throughout May so we can expand our ‘go-to dinner options’ even more. I’m excited for the challenge of another month of making healthier choices, and I’m hoping that after another four weeks it may become second nature. Let’s just forget about the fact there’s two bank holidays and my birthday weekend where we’ll 100% be consuming alcohol. And cake.
Read at least four books Throughout 2019, I’ve been reading like a machine, and this one is probably going to be the easiest goal for me. I love nothing more than getting lost in a fictional world; it’s a great way for me to de-stress from everyday life, and it makes me feel so relaxed, especially when I’m feeling a little bit lost with myself. I feel like I have to actively make time for reading, as my default *thing to do* when I’ve got a little downtime is to work on my blog. I’m trying to be a little more selfish, and allow myself time to read as a self-care activity, instead of thinking I constantly need to be doing something. I am forever buying new books, and when I love one I tend to fly through it at lightening speed. I’ve read 12 books so far this year, which works out at three per month, but I’m setting myself the goal of reading (at least) one more. My favourite place to read books is in a Lush bath, as I feel like I’m completely in my own little bubble and it’s glorious!
Create new in-front-of-the-camera blog content I find having my photo taken the cringiest thing in the world, and I just don’t know how to re-train my thinking on this. I think the fact I feel uncomfortable with my body is the driving force behind this, but that’s a slow process to change. I began the process to change up my hair last month and I do feel so much better already, so maybe this will be more achievable as the months roll on! The only photos I feel comfortable taking are ugly Snapchat selfies (my boyfriend is so lucky) or the occasional couple photo when we’re dressed up for a night out, and even those I rarely like when the morning rolls around. I really want to branch out more with my blog, especially by showing Spring/Summer fashion ideas and taking the kind of photos I’d love to feature on my blog, but it’s hard when I don’t feel too comfortable in front of the camera. Matt is fortunately a great (and very patient) photographer, so hopefully we can work together to get some good shots! He took the photos of me in this post during a day out at Alnwick Garden during the April bank holiday Monday – we had the best day enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms – and he made me feel so much more comfortable in front of the camera.
Use cash as much as possible throughout the month As I mentioned in this post, I was getting much better at taking money out at the ATM for the week, and then using that money for groceries, shopping days or heading out for an impromptu dinner date with Matt. Throughout April I didn’t do so well with this, and went back to tapping my contactless card or using Face ID to activate my Apple Pay like it was my job. As a result, I spent over my budget in a few too many categories, and I want to save a little more money this month than I did in April. Matt and I are starting our Spring/Summer clothes shopping too – I love shopping date days, we pretty much always go for a Wagamama too! – and I want to make sure I’m not overspending. You can see some of the things I’m planning on picking up in my Spring style wishlist post, and there’s a few other bits and pieces I need to start picking up for our holiday next month!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed a little peek into what my goals are for the month. Do you set monthly goals? How well do you do at achieving them? If you have any tips or tricks to help me achieve mine I’d be eternally grateful!
Once again, I literally can’t believe we’re already at the end of another month. It seems like 2019 has been put on fast forward, and the days and weeks are flying by at a pace I’m not quite sure I like. It honestly seems five minutes since Matt and I were seeing in midnight of New Year’s Eve with our friends! April was another great month, and despite having a little bit of a hard time with my anxiety I’ve loved it for the most part. Matt and I have been eating tons healthier, and we’re absolutely loving how well meal planning works for us. We’re on countdown to our holiday (57 days to go! WHAT?!), we’ve had tons of fun date nights and date days this month, and we also had some great weekends with our friends and family. I changed up my hair length/colour and I love it, Matt and I celebrated the first bank holiday of 2019 and enjoyed the warmer weather. I was literally so excited about the sunglasses-as-a-hair-style-and-no-jacket weather… but where’s it gone?!
During April, I also did a Beauty No Buy, which literally is what it sounds like; I couldn’t purchase any new beauty items, unless it was to replace something that ran out (with one exception, oops). It sounds simple enough, but jeez it’s so hard not being ‘allowed’ to purchase things as and when you please! I did however stick to it for the most part and I want to be more aware of what I’m purchasing throughout the rest of the year. As a result of my Beauty No Buy, I’ve really had to use and love what I have, and that’s something I need to make more of a priority.
*All products mentioned are linked at the bottom of this post*
St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion This product is an oldie but a goodie, and after first using it throughout last Summer to top up my barely-there-real-tan, I loved it. I re-discovered it this month, and I’m really enjoying using it again to give my super pale skin a little colour. It’s a very subtle tan, will not make you Geordie Shore-esque orange (thank the Lord) and it also doesn’t smell or stain your sheets! I use the Medium shade, leave it on around three to five minutes – three minutes is recommended but I find a little longer gives better results – rinse off, then apply lots of Lush sleepy body lotion when I get out of the shower. Matt and I are such cuddly sleepers (cute, HA!), I could never go back to using a regular fake tan you leave on overnight, so this is a great option for me. It’s also fab to not have to worry about orange bed sheets!
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown I go through phases with which eyebrow pencil I currently love, but lately this one has blown anything else out of the water. I used the Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift in Brooke S exclusively for a few months, then I re-discovered my Brow Wiz after my Spring clean, and forgot why I ever stopped using it. It had very little pencil left in the tube (after I fell back in love with it, of course) so I re-purchased right before it ran out. I think my brows look much fuller, more polished and generally just better at the moment, and it’s definitely as a result of changing my pencil. I love the spoolie in this one too, it’s very good at combing the product through and my eyebrows don’t look overly done.
OGX Argan Oil of Moracco Shampoo & Conditioner These two products were my exception in my Beauty No Buy! I know, I know, I literally just talked about how much I love the Soap and Glory shampoos in this monthly favourites post, but I started getting super dry yet somehow greasy hair, and it seems those were causing the problem. I passed the S&G products on to my mum who loves them, so they’ve got a lovely new home. Both of the OGX products are both sulphate free, as recommended by my hairdresser, and I really have noticed a difference to the quality of my hair. It’s a little hard to know if these products are the sole reason for that, as I also had my hair cut and dyed this month (I love it! I’m going lighter again in May and I’m very excited about it. I think my ‘end goal’ is Lauren-Conrad-in-the-early-Hills-days Californian blonde. Very specific, I know) and I had an Olaplex treatment when I was at the salon which made my hair feel amazing. These products smell glorious, and I can wait until the third day to wash my hair when needed, which I’ve never been comfortable doing before.
After Life Matt and I have watched a lot of good shows recently – a post will be up on our favourites next month – but this one has to be the top of our recommendations list. I briefly talked about this show in this post, but I just had to include it in my monthly favourites post too as it made such an impact on us. I actually said when we finished I wish we could unwatch it, to watch again! The show is written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais, who also plays the main character, Tony. Tony’s wife unfortunately passed away from breast cancer, and as a result he finds himself in a pit of depression, and has to navigate a ‘new normal’ in his life. It’s heartbreakingly sad, and I cried so many times throughout the six episode series, but it’s also filled with joyous moments, humour and laughter. It depicts depression in a way I’ve never personally seen on TV before, and I hope it brings awareness to the fact that you really don’t know what somone else is going through, and that everyone is fighting their own battles.
Bank Holiday Weekend Fun I love bank holiday weekends so much – I’m a Brit after all – and our first of the year was glorious, and also super busy! I changed up my hair, Matt and I ate fish and chips, I had a lunch and shopping date with my dearest friend Jessy and Matt enjoyed a few beers watching the match with the boys. We cooked delicious meals and ate outside in the garden because it was finally HOT, enjoyed showing off our home city to Matt’s cousin and his girlfriend, visited with family, spent a lot of time outdoors in the sun and swung through the beautiful cherry blossom trees at Alnwick Garden. I felt so content and happy as Matt and I snuggled up in bed on the Monday evening, and very excited for two more bank holidays to come in May! I also took the photo of the blossom at the top of this post at Alnwick Garden, I’m (very sadly) proud of it – I love Portrait Mode so much.
Shagged, Married, Annoyed by Chris & Rosie Ramsey I love listening to podcasts and I think this might be my ultimate top pick from every one I’ve ever listened to. Chris is a very well known comedian, and his wife Rosie could easily get him out of a job – she is hilarious. Fellow Northerners they already had my hearts, and as soon as I heard their banter together I really loved them, and I’m so happy it gets better with each episode. They talk about so many relatable things – including the ‘beef’ they have with each other which makes me cry laugh every episode. Chris’ beef with Rosie in one episode was that she’s always asking what he fancies for dinner, even when they’re eating breakfast, and I couldn’t stop laughing because that’s me! Every single day, poor Matthew. (If you need any evidence this post sums it up nicely). Their stories and constant taking the p*ss out of each other is just briliant, and I can’t get enough! Especially when Rosie called Robin (their son) a little prick. Fantastic. There’s only eleven episodes so far, with a new one launching every Friday, and I’ve binged my way through seven so far, I’m very excited for the rest!
Scrunchies Guys. I love scrunchies!!! They are just so fun to wear, and a brilliant way to make a boring pony tail look cute. I wear them very often during cosy evenings in the house, but I feel like they’re also an adorable accessory to an oufit. A simple white tee with mom jeans can look way more chic and put together with a little pop of colour in your hair. When I was younger I used to wear scrunchies pretty much every day, they’re one of the few 90’s trends I’m still on board with. (These kind of bags are everywhere and it genuinely baffles me – they’re very Sex and The City and I’m not here for it!) Topshop and H&M have some amazing styles for pretty good prices – the velvet feel ones are my absolute favourite!
Strong Roots Spinach Bites These are one of the best ‘healthy junk foods’ I think I’ve ever tried, and I actually really like everything I’ve tried from the Strong Roots brand. Matt and I are a little obsessed with these bites; we put them with meals as often as we can, and we’ve recommended them to pretty much everyone we know. They crisp up on the outside and stay soft on the inside, and thankfully they’re always included in deals at Tesco to make them a little more affordable. On a lazy evening or when we don’t much have time to cook, we love these with Quorn nuggets and Tilda peri peri rice!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe got a few ideas of things you might like to try? What have you been loving this month? I’m looking forward to May so much, and I’ll be sharing my goals for the month on the blog on Wednesday!