Feelin’ It Friday

Hi, loves! Happy Friday 13th!! Are you feeling nervous about today? It makes me laugh but I am a little bit! I’m superstitious with lots of things; I never cross on the stairs, I never walk under ladders and I always avoid three drains. Matt does now too, it’s so funny! We always say ‘toast’ if we accidentally walk over three drains (I have NO IDEA how this came about. Why would saying ‘toast’ make any difference?!) Anyway, I digress, what I’m trying to say is that Friday 13th makes me a little bit nervous. But also excited for Halloween. This is me right now:

Image result for hocus pocus gif

Ahhhh. Hocus Pocus season is my favourite. *forces Matt to watch with me for 100th time*

What I’m drinking:
Bonfire spice hot chocolates are LIFE. As I briefly mentioned last week I was so dang excited about the bonfire spice flavour coming back to Costa, it’s just the best flavour and makes my heart happy. Seriously, get in your car right now. Finish this post. Now get in your car. Drive to Costa. BUY A BONFIRE SPICE HOT CHOCOLATE. Thank me later… 🙂 I’ve had two this week and I’m for sure going to be drinking them lots over the next few months. Side note: I get mine extra hot with a dash of almond milk, it’s sooooo good. And of course, I always try to take a re-usable cup!

What I’m celebrating:
Monday September 16th is Matt and I’s two year anniversary!!! I just don’t know where the time has gone, it seems like we were just dating! I’m really excited to celebrate this weekend at our favourite restaurant, Tomahawk Steakhouse, but we’re trying out their new location. We literally can’t wait because the food is always incredible, their mac n cheese is my favourite ever! We can’t properly celebrate on our anniversary due to Matt’s work schedule so we’re just going to curl up at home with an M&S meal and a few episodes of The Office on the day. Matthew, I am so lucky to do life with you, I love you more than anything! Happy (early) anniversary, my love!

What I’m excited about:
Tomorrow morning I’m getting my hair dyed, and I’m going back dark! I have spent WEEKS finding the perfect brown balayage photo to show at the salon and I know it’ll turn out even better than what I’m thinking. I’m SO over the blonde as I just got kinda bored and now I really dislike how I look with the blonde tones. I think I want to keep a little bit of light through my hair as I still want it to look fresh and pretty, but more brown tones than blonde. If that makes sense. I’ll be sharing on my Instagram like always, so make sure to follow me there to see how it looks! I’m so excited to have darker hair for Fall and Winter!

Image result for the office halloween

…I am Dwight.

What I’m happy about:
It’s almost Fall! This cold(ish) rainy weather is making it feel like Fall is already here and I’m loving every second of it. It’s been chilly each day and I’m really enjoying that cosy feeling this kind of weather brings. Matt is such a Summer person but we have so many fun things planned during the Autumn months that he’s actually enjoying it too. It’s cold in the mornings and evenings I’m super excited that sweater weather is almost upon us! Also, any excuse to burn those pumpkin candles… are you excited for Fall too? Or are you holding on to the very last of Summer?!

What I’m watching:
The Office. Obvs. Matt and I are obsessed, okay?! Seriously if you’re like we were and are still living under a rock, it’s one of the best TV shows we’ve ever seen and we’d really recommend it. But I’ve also been loving Zoe Sugg’s vlogs recently. Like, really really loving them. I’ve watched and loved Zoe for as long as I can remember, but she goes through patches where she vlogs a lot, then where she doesn’t vlog at all. Recently she’s been vlogging so much and I’m loving it! Also, she is re-launching her blog this month and I’m so excited to see what it’s going to be like as that was one of the first blogs I ever read.

What I’m working on for the blog:
This month is #SecondHandSeptember (something I didn’t know about on September 1st when I made a Topshop order… OOPS) but now that I do know I’m participating, and I’m really excited about it! The whole concept came from Oxfam, to encourage people to shop more sustainably and avoid purchasing new products for thirty days. Have you took the pledge yet? I have! This weekend my lovely friend Jessy and I are going for a browse in a few charity shops and vintage stores which I hope will be successful (if not we’ll for sure have fun). Matt and I are going to another vintage store in a few weeks time and I’ve been browsing Depop lots too! I’ve been really impressed with so many of the things on Depop although I’ve not bought anything yet. I was so impressed by Emma Hill’s finds in this video, it was really inspiring to someone finding their feet with second hand shopping, and she got some incredible bargains! Niomi Smart also posted this video that I found so fun to watch and I’m obsessed with the things she picked up, especially that Chanel button ring. Wow. I can’t wait to share Jess and I’s second hand shopping experience with you in a few weeks time!

What I’m reading:
Linking in with what I just said above about #SecondHandSeptember, I LOVED Stacey Dooley’s piece in Grazia this week about the fashion industry and the impact buying too many clothes has on the environment. It’s no surprise to any regular readers that Stacey Dooley is my ultimate inspiration/girl crush/love of my life (sorry, Matthew) and everything she does is just amazing to me. But her thoughts on fast fashion originally inspired me to look at my buying habits last year and I think this piece was just so well written. Slightly off topic but I’m actually buying Grazia every week now, it’s such a good value magazine and packed full of high quality content. I’ve really been enjoying snuggling up in the mornings with my magazine and vanilla chai whilst Matt works on emails!

What I’m up to this weekend:
Matt is unfortunately at work all weekend, but we’re making the most of our time together as always. Tonight Matt and I are having fish and chips with my family, snuggling in to catch up on Peaky Blinders and having an early night before a very early start tomorrow morning. Once Matt leaves for work I’ll get a little blog work done then head to the salon for my hair appointment. I can’t wait! After I get my hair done I’m meeting my sweet friend Jess to go second hand and vintage shopping! We seriously are SO EXCITED. Later I’m heading to our local mall to shop Lush’s Autumn/Halloween collection which is released today, and I still have a gift card from my lovely co-workers to spend too. I have a few other errands to run then I’m heading back to get on with some blog work and get ready before Matt gets home. Matt and I are heading for date night on Saturday evening (as I said above) at our favourite restaurant, then Sunday is a cosy-at-home cleaning and blogging day for me while Matt’s at work. When he gets home we’re having pizza night with his parents and I’m so looking forward to that!

What else is new:
Nothing much TBH. I’ve had a kinda crappy week with my anxiety, I just feel very drained and like I’m putting in so much time/effort with things that I don’t see much reward from which really sucks. I’ve been a little stressed out and just generally felt rubbish which has then made me really anxious. I have however been feeling really really grateful for Matt and I’s time together more than ever, and I’m just so thankful to have him by my side, he’s truly the best! I’m hoping this weekend will recharge my batteries a little bit and let me get back to feeling like my usual self.

Thank you so much for reading! These posts have become some of my favourite to write; they get really good views and open up so many conversations either in the comments or in my DM’s. People message me all the time saying how much they enjoy reading these posts and I can’t tell you how much I love to hear that! Due to another very busy week (and a little bit of extra self care time that I really need) there won’t be a #feelinitfriday next week, but I’ll be back the following week for sure. My ‘normal’ posts will be up every Sunday and Wednesday as normal! Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! 

-G x

Blogging Whilst Having A Full Time Job: How I Make It Work

Hi, loves!

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 always stick 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 and never 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!

-G x

What’s The Deal With Fast Fashion?

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! This week Matt and I been cooking new recipes and spending our evening’s watching our new Netflix love, Inside The World’s Toughest Prisons. It’s such an interesting show, we’re genuinely shocked at 99% of each episode! I’m so excited for this weekend; Matt and I are spending it attending an NUFC game (our win yesterday made us very happy campers!), having dinner and drinks at our favourite restaurant in the city centre, and hopefully squeezing in a nice long walk down by the beach on Sunday! We’re hoping to KonMari our lives a little more too, it’s a never-ending task! Matt is at a work event on Sunday evening so I’m going to spend a few hours having a serious pamper night before I pick him up, I can’t wait! (Let’s hope the snow forecast is wrong… anyone else terrified at the thought of driving in it or getting stuck? Just me?!) What are you looking forward to this weekend?

*Vanilla chai lattes and vegan Biscoff donuts highly encouraged as the perfect snacks to get you through this post*

Please know I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, and I’m still learning every single day. This post is written based on opinion yet includes facts, all with good intentions, to inform and encourage people to research for themselves.

I have to begin this post by saying a huge thank you to Niomi Smart, Venetia Falconer, Stacey Dooley and Emma Hill for inspiring me to learn about fast fashion, and for setting an amazing example in their everyday lives. One of my favourite Instagram hashtags to search through is #OOOTD (Old Outfit Of The Day) which is something Venetia started to encourage people to shop their wardrobes, and to advocate slow fashion. I’ve shared an OOOTD in this post – Matt took this photo last weekend when we were on our way to brunch!

If you’re a regular reader here on my blog, you’ve definitely seen the words ‘fast fashion’ mentioned a fair few times in recent posts. Fast fashion is quite literal; it’s a term that means clothing pieces created – usually from Designer catwalk inspiration – to be made in large quantities, generally for very little money. On NYE I posted on my Instagram story that I was shopping my wardrobe not the high street for my outfit this year, and that’s a mindset I’m so happy to now have.

Fast fashion is all around us, and us millennials buy in our droves on a daily basis. We’re of course not the only ones to blame for the incredible rise in fast fashion brands’ popularity over the past few years, but we’re certainly not helping the situation. There has been a lot of controversy regarding fast fashion over the past year, which was only heightened by Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary that aired on BBC2 in September 2018. It’s currently unavailable on BBC iPlayer but if you can find it, it’s so worth a watch. As any regular readers will already know, I adore Stacey! She is brilliant at investigating varying topics around the world, and shedding light onto just how serious these topics are. I learned many things from the FDS documentary, and aside from the people directly affected by pollution one of the biggest shocks was that a whole sea in Kazakhstan has almost completely dried up due to the amount of waste produced by surrounding cotton mills. The documentary is eye opening and jaw dropping for us as consumers to watch, and I guarantee it will leave you shocked at your hand in this epidemic too.

So, what is the deal with fast fashion? Is epidemic too strong of a word? Why are we all boycotting it? Basically, it’s killing our planet. It has a detrimental affect on so many factors of life; human rights due to low wages and long hours, water systems due to dye being dumped into rivers and lakes, and the waste and pollution caused by it is getting larger by the day, among many other things. Not only is the process to make the clothes causing pollution on another scale, but the clothes are generally very cheaply made, and they don’t last very long, even if you take care of them. This means often once we are ‘finished’ with these clothing items, they are not able to be passed on – to friends, family or charity – and end up in landfill.

Many brands are now branching into sustainable materials and ethical trading, which includes being able to trace the origins of clothing items right back to where they first started. These companies ensure staff are paid fair wages, have better working conditions and are taking as many procedures as possible to reduce their pollution. Sounds like a great thing, right? Well it is, but those costs have to be passed onto the consumer, and the reality is for most of us we cannot afford to pay X amount of money for everyday items, such as a t-shirt. There’s a weird lull at the moment, in my opinion, as shops seem to be either steered towards fast fashion and the current trend(s) of the season with little to no care for the environment or it’s people, or they’re doing everything they can to be a more ethical brand, and therefore becoming slightly less accessible to customers with higher prices, and less stock available. 

I am a lover of retail therapy, an advocate even, so what am I supposed to do now shopping is considered ‘bad’ for the environment? Well, I can change the way I shop. I covered a lot of the reasons behind why I’m changing the way I shop in this post, but now I’m more determined than ever to be the change I want to see in the world. That’s how all of this starts, right? Some of these tips and ideas will possibly be repeated from previous posts, but they are so important, and if I can bring awareness to just one more person that makes me extremely happy. So, here’s a few things I’m doing, and you can do them too! This applies to all different budgets, and hey if you have the budget to shop only sustainable fashion brands, then more power to you! (And, are there any jobs going at your place?! HAHA).

#OOOTD (LOL posing for photos makes my toes curl, the only one I could include was one of me looking away from the camera, mid hair tuck!)

Donate and shop second hand. I’m very good at the donating part, but I’m yet to shop second hand. Buying from the likes of charity shops, eBay and Depop are a great start as you’re getting new (to you) clothing items at cheaper prices, and it prevents one more ‘new’ garment out finding it’s way out into the world. I sell mine and Matt’s unwanted/unused clothes on eBay fairly often, and since The Great Wardrobe Declutter of 2018 I’ve decluttered several more times. (Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show has encouraged Matt and I to re-assess not just our wardrobes but our whole lives LOL!) Another great alternative would be to gather a few friends and encourage them to go through their clothing, seeing what items they can pass on. Then, you could all get together and exchange a few pieces, giving them a new home and a whole new way to be worn. I’d love to do this!

Shop less, and always with a purpose. I’m embarrassed to admit I used to be that girl that bought a new outfit, or at least a new top, for every social occasion. I mean, I don’t go out that often, but I still purchased way more items than required for my lifestyle. I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed to for myself, but I did think other people would notice. The reality is nobody cares if you take photos wearing the same pieces, and my boyfriend certainly doesn’t take into account what top I’m wearing for date night! (Nine times out of ten he didn’t even know I was wearing a new top until I told him – “oh, but the black shirt you wore last time looks the same?”) Buying new clothes for each event you go to, whether it’s a wedding or a night down your local pub is unnecessary, and it can also be pretty hard on your bank account. Instead, I highly encourage you to buy (sometimes higher priced) sustainable clothing pieces that you can wear over and over again. The main aim of stopping fast fashion in it’s tracks is to simply buy less clothing, and love/wear what you have.

Buy items with minimal (or no) man-made fabric content. Have you ever been shopping and seen a fairly suspicious girl snooping through the rail of jumpers, reading the labels tucked inside? No? Well you haven’t seen me shopping! It may seem a little strange at first, but looking at clothing tags to see what an item is made of is so eye-opening, and I can guarantee you’ll be shocked at how many items are made out of 100% polyester. *More than 70 billion barrels of oil are used worldwide each year to manufacture polyester, which is then processed into low quality clothing items. Polyester clothing items are then not bio-degradable, and even washing these pieces causes huge pollution. It’s thought that items made with man-made fabrics, such as polyester and acrylic, are the biggest cause of microplastic pollution in our oceans today. That means it’s bigger than pollution caused by plastic bags, plastic packaging and plastic straws!
*Information from EcoCult – this article is a great read.

Aim to buy items of clothing that already go with items you own, and can be re-worn for years to come. I read (possibly in a magazine article, or another blog?) that we should be aiming to buy items we can wear at least thirty times, but I think we can do even better than that. Generally speaking we all have favourite items in our wardrobes – whether it’s a pair of jeans, a snuggly jumper or a silk slip dress – so we should be buying with intentions of working with what we already have. If you’re already shopping with a purpose like I mentioned above, this will begin to come naturally, and you start to keep yourself in check whilst you’re browsing the rails. Next time you feel the need to shop, I’d encourage you to analyse your wardrobe, and see what (if anything) you require to get more wear out of your favourite pieces. Everyone’s basics and essentials are different, so tailor this towards your own wardrobe and needs. Make time every now and then to try on different pieces together and create new outfits, I guarantee there are so many outfit options in your current wardrobe you’ve never even thought to put together before.

Take care of your clothing. Washing your clothes less frequently (especially anything made with man-made fabrics) reduces wastage going into oceans. I’m not saying you have to put the same stinky gym leggings on four days in a row, but hear me out. Lots of clothes do not require washing after just one wear; for example, jeans can be worn at least half a dozen times! This is something I have to admit was new to me last year, I would wear a t-shirt for an hour or so whilst doing our grocery shop, then put it straight into the laundry basket when I took it off. Being more eco-friendly does not compromise cleanliness! It’s also much more beneficial for the environment to hang your clothes (or lay flat) to dry, instead of using a tumble drier. I’d recommend investing in a cashmere comb – it may be the most boring yet best thing I’ve ever bought – as you can de-bobble your old jumpers in an instant. Fixing clothes that are damaged, eg sewing buttons back on or mending holes, is something I think we all need to be held more accountable for.

Research, research and research. Are you feeling intrigued and want to know more? To begin, I’d recommend reading articles, scouring Instagram, watching documentaries and looking at your own current habits. I unsubscribed from all fast fashion websites that were sending me daily emails, and I downloaded an app called Good On You, which has changed how I see brands! (It rates clothing and accessories companies on three areas – Labour, Environment and Animal. Matt and I check their information on brands whenever we’re shopping!) One thing that surprised me a little is that the more I’ve read, and the more people I’ve found who think similarly to me, my need for change has filtered through to beauty products and food. I’ve vowed to buy only makeup and skincare from cruelty-free brands moving forward, I’m beginning to explore natural and organic beauty products, and I’m enjoying experimenting with vegetarian/vegan food options more and more. I’m so excited to see where I can go on my journey to sustainability!

Thank you so much for reading, I’m so excited to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are you on your own journey to living more sustainably? Did you find this post helpful, or do you feel inspired to change? Who inspires you? I can’t wait to share some of my tips and opinions on being sustainable in all aspects of our lives over the next few weeks!

 -G x