25 Things I’ve Learned Before Turning 25

Hi, loves! This coming Friday, on May 17th, I turn 25 and I’m happy to say I’m way more cool about being a year older than I was when I turned 24. I think our twenties are a weird time; from being teenagers we had goals and aspirations for where we thought we’d be at *insert age* and we may not have met the goals we’d laid out for ourselves. I’m actually really okay with that this year, and I feel so blessed to be turning 25 feeling genuinely happier than I have for all of my twenty-something birthdays. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my last birthday and Matt and I had so much fun, but I was still so worried about being another year older. Back on my 21st birthday I didn’t even celebrate because I was really struggling with my anxiety and felt so rubbish, yet now at 25 I feel like a whole new person!

Even though I still deal with anxiety and panic attacks on a semi-regular basis, I’m truly the happiest I’ve ever been right now, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to say that! I have the most amazing boyfriend in the whole world (you might have heard me mention him from time to time…) and my family and friends are just the best I could wish for. I have a job, a car, lots of new goals I’m working towards and my blog is my little baby! If you had told 21 year old Gill that this would be her life at 25, she’d never have believed it. Anxiety has re-shaped my whole life over the past six years, and although it has been terrible in some parts, I have grown so much and I appreciate life in a whole new way.

1. Your mental health must always be your first priority. Only you can do this for yourself, and it’s so important to listen to what you need (and deserve). No matter what the situation is, if you don’t feel up to it you don’t need to do it and you’ll thank yourself later. We live in a generation where it’s not at all uncommon to suffer or know someone suffering with mental health problems, and it’s something we need to stop being ashamed of, and start speaking up about!

2. Being in love is the best feeling in the whole world. I feel beyond blessed to experience such a deep and meaningful love at such a young age, that some people don’t find in one thousand lifetimes. Matt is not just my boyfriend but my rock, my soulmate, my biggest supporter and my favourite person in the whole world. Falling asleep and waking up with the person you love every day is also hands down one of the best feelings you’ll ever experience, it still makes me so happy every single day/night. I’m so lucky to be in love with my best friend, and I never have or will take that for granted.

3. Moderation is key. This applies to most aspects of life really, but especially with food. Since I was super young I’ve had a bit of a weird relationship with food; I either binge on anything and everything I want, or I barely eat. Over the past few years I’ve found a much better balance; I eat tons of fruits and veggies, and if I want to eat chocolate, sweets, ice cream (or whatever!) I’ll enjoy that too. I also have the worst sweet tooth, sometimes I literally can’t help myself!!

4. Learning to drive is one of the best thing you’ll ever do. Well, for me it was. I struggled and stressed my way through driving lessons, failing tests I wasn’t ready for and having panic attack after panic attack at even the thought of another lesson. I finally plucked up the courage to change instructors and breezed through my test (third time lucky!) and now, three and a half years on, I truly couldn’t imagine my life without being able to drive, or my cute little Viva!

5. Always buy the scented candle. Seriously. I am a connoisseur of candles, if I do say so myself, at the grand old age of (almost) twenty five, and if I like the candle I’m going to buy the candle. It makes me happy, and life is too short to not do what makes you happy. Which is more the point of this lesson: do what makes you happy. And buy the damn candle.

6. Always be kind, no matter how you feel that day. But do not expect every kind act to be reciprocated, or you’ll be sorely disappointed. Kindness is so so important, and we can all be a bit nicer from time to time! It’s just important to remember that you don’t know what anyone is going through, and everyone has their own problems to deal with. I delved into this topic way more in this post.

7. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve spent almost twenty five years trying to please everyone, and keep everyone around me happy. It’s a fact that you’re not going to gel with everyone you meet in life, and that’s okay. I really want to be less of a people pleaser, and it’s something I’m working on. I joked to Matt the other day that sometimes I feel like Amy Santiago with the Captain in Brooklyn 99 – desperate to be liked, lol!

8. Always pay yourself first out of your wages. Setting up a direct debit into my savings account has totally changed how I save money; you can’t miss money you didn’t ever see! Every month the day after I get paid, X amount goes straight into my savings account and is there for emergencies only. I have separate savings accounts for various things, but that *just incase* money is so important, and gives me peace of mind.

9. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. This is a hard lesson; to share and to learn, and it’s something I still struggle with now. I want to believe that everyone’s nice and life is sunshine and rainbows but I know that’s not true. If someone talks badly of you when you’re not around, makes you feel/look stupid in front of others or will happily throw you under the bus for their own gain then they’re not worth it.

10. Travelling feeds the soul. I’m not one for backpacking round Australia for three months – props to you, if you are – but I love to explore new places, and Matt is (obviously) my favorite travel partner. Whether it’s city breaks, day trips or week-long jaunts to a hot climate, I absolutely love to travel and I can’t wait to tick more and more places off our bucket list. We got to Croatia in five and a half weeks and I’m SO ready for it!

11. Never apologise for being curious. Asking questions is the way we learn, and it’s not something to be looked down on for. Ever. During my second week at my job back when I was 19 years old and super shy, I innocently asked the person teaching me why she did a few things so I could get a better understanding. She scoffed that I ask too many questions, laughed about me with our other colleagues, and made me feel so uncomfortable for being genuinely curious and wanting to learn. Her reaction sticks with me to this day, and I try to be as helpful as possible when teaching others as a result.

12. There’s a Disney quote for every occasion. There really is! My favourite is always going to be from the man himself: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

13. Having the confidence to walk into the unknown is a beautiful thing. Like starting this blog. I had wanted to create a blog for most of my adult life, as an avid reader/follower of so many, yet I lacked the confidence to do so. I wrote myself off as being not good enough, yet I love writing my blog more and more as the months go on. I’m so thankful for my platform, and even though it is just a hobby for me right now, I take it so seriously.

14. The quality of your social circle is much more important than the quantity. Treasure the people that always have your back and fill you with joy, love and happiness, they’re the good eggs! As you get older I think it’s so difficult to meet new people and make friends, that’s something that shocked me a little about getting older. I’ve said this thousands of times, but I know I’m so lucky that Matt is my boyfriend and my best friend, and I thank my lucky stars for that every single day. Quality over quantity, always!

15. Being open with your emotions does not make you weak. I’ve been told several times that I’m ‘too’ emotional. It’s true that I cry a lot (whether I’m happy or sad, ha!), I often lead with my heart and I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve. Being emotional means I’m very empathetic to others’ situations however, and that is not a bad quality to have!

16. Learning to cook is life changing. Matt and I flipping LOVE cooking. We love to try new recipes and methods, create our own meals and experiment with different ingredients and flavours. I feel sad I didn’t have an interest in cooking from a younger age and I wish I’d developed it sooner, but I’m so happy it’s something Matt and I are able to learn about together! I delved into how and why we meal plan in this post, and I’m excited to share some of our favourite recipes on the blog in the coming months.

17. Being kind to the planet is so important. I’m ashamed to admit that this is something I’ve only truly thought about over the past two or three years, but I’m proud of myself for making changes to my everyday life and doing what I can to make a difference. I wrote a post about small changes we can make in our everyday lives to live more sustainably here if you’d like to check that out for a little inspiration. I definitely want to write more about this topic on my blog!

18. Mums are always right. If I had have told my 14 year old self this I would have literally laughed in my own face, but it’s true. My mum and Matt’s mum (she’s my second mum, I’m so lucky!!) always know what to do or say no matter what the situation is, and they are strong, amazing women that I’m so lucky to look up to.

19. There’s no place like home. *clicks glittery red heels together* ha! For real, Matt and I are homebodies in every sense of the word. We love cosy nights at home; lighting our candles, cooking a lovely dinner and snuggling up to watch a show. (I’m so excited to do this in our own home, hopefully next year!) We also love our hometown more than anything – Newcastle is honestly the greatest place on earth to us. From where we live, we’re ten minutes away from the city centre in one direction, the beach another, and the countryside in another!

20. Friendships change and that’s okay. Sometimes friendships grow into a life-long bond, sometimes they mould into a weird new territory and sometimes they fizzle out all together. Take the good with the bad and be sure to appreciate the good memories you make as they will last way beyond any empty friendships. You learn so many lessons from your friendships, and I wish I knew this when I was a teenager.

21. Comparing your life to somebody else’s will never bring you joy. You were made to be you; a unique individual with their own thoughts, looks, style, opinions etc and that is a wonderful thing. Don’t feel envious of other people’s lives or circumstances, and put that focus back into yourself. Stay in your own lane and you’ll be so much happier for it.

22. You’ll turn into a grandma sooner than you think. Like I said above, Matt and I are homebodies. We’re those people that think we want to go out for date night, but when the day comes we’d rather stay in and cook a meal or grab a takeaway. We also would rather get an early night in so we can head out early in the morning for breakfast and ‘a wander’ (potentially around a garden centre…). We buy clothes thinking about the purpose and/or longevity. If we’re in the house you can pretty much guarantee I have a blanket draped over me. We’re literally turning into our grandparents more and more as the days roll on and we’re okay with that, just someone please stop me if you see me going in for a blue rinse!

23. Standing up for what you believe can be hard, but always worth it. I hate confrontation. I hate disagreements. I hate arguments. BUT there is always a way to get your point across in a level-headed, relaxed way, and it doesn’t need to cause uproar. Being respectful is the main thing; it’s okay to disagree with someone’s opinion, stand up for your beliefs or voice your thoughts, and it’s something I really need to do more often.

24. Less truly is more. After the rise of minimalism, sustainability and Marie Kondo, we all felt a bit embarrassed about the amount of crap we’d accumulated, right? Since having several clear outs – tbh, Matt and I really need another – I’m very happy living with less and truly loving what I own. I think about this with everything I buy, and it means I’m way more clever about what is worth the purchase. Does *insert item* spark joy? Will I get use out of *insert item*? Material items will not bring you happiness, no matter how hard you try to make them.

25. Making ‘me time’ is so important. There’s so much more to self care than just the beauty aspect, but I swear treating yourself to pamper evening at least once per week will make your whole life feel different. Go all out with a face mask, hair mask, full body scrub and a Lush bath bomb. Book yourself in for regular salon appointments to keep your hair looking pretty, and indulge in getting your nails done now and then. When you look good you feel good, and I really appreciate ‘me time’.

Thank you so much for reading, it truly means the world to me! I’m taking a little of my own advice from this post, and for the first time on my blog, there won’t be a new post up on Sunday. I’m SO SAD saying that, but I want to enjoy my birthday weekend with Matt and not have to worry about editing, scheduling or keeping up with my new post, I hope you understand! Can you relate with any of the lessons I mentioned in this post? What’s the most important things you’ve learned so far in life? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back on Wednesday, have a wonderful weekend!

-G x

Spring Clean Your Beauty Routine

Happy, happy Sunday loves!

I am so happy it’s officially Spring (even if the temperature outside may not feel like it) but I’m pumped for all of the fun things to come this season. Matt and I are making fun travel plans, we’ve got lots of date days in the books, and we’re switching up our cooking game SO much to make delicious new recipes. Do you know what else I’m super excited for? Cleaning. ‘Tis the season, right?! In an era of self-confessed Hincher’s, cleaning has become a buzzword that we’re all talking about; I discuss my favourite cleaning products with my friends and co-workers in the same way I do my favourite TV shows, it’s literally like a bug we’ve all caught!

In line with my ever-growing obsession with cleaning, it’s time to make a fresh start on my beauty collection. I’ve cleaned out and de-cluttered Marie Kondo style already, but I think I was a little too lenient in a few categories. It’s funny really, because when it came to throwing out Matt’s old t-shirts he hadn’t worn for three years I was practically skipping to the charity shop to get rid of them, however if he’d tried to prise that iconic blush from 2014 out of my hands I’d have been giving all the excuses under the sun as to why I must keep it!

My cleaning for Spring has only just begun, and in the next few weeks I’m going to make the switch over from my Autumn/Winter wardrobe to my Spring/Summer one; another time to declutter, donate and sell items that no longer bring me joy, and this time I’m genuinely excited about doing so. I just love the feeling of everything feeling fresh and new in Spring! Wardrobe switch over videos from my favourite gals, Emma Hill and Anna Newton, have had me dying to do the switch over for weeks, and I’m sure I can convince Matt to get rid of a few more bits too. It’s all about balance, right?! Anyway, there will be more on this in the coming weeks, but for now, here’s all the things I’ve done or am planning to get started on my Spring beauty declutter, and you can join in too!

Clean out your makeup storage
It sounds so redundant, but it’s so important to start with a fresh canvas when it comes to any aspect of cleaning and refreshing what you’ve already got. I’d start with emptying everything; whether you’ve got makeup in pouches, bags, acrylic organisers or your back-ups stashed in drawers, put it all into one big pile. Now it’s time to fully clean out your storage; most pouches and makeup bags can go in the wash (make sure to check the label beforehand!) and a good all purpose cleaner should take care of the rest. The one pictured is my absolute favourite, Wild Rhubarb from Method, it’s eco friendly and leaves everything sparkling clean, not to mention the amazing scent fills the whole room way after you’ve finished cleaning.

Sort through your products
Before you put back any products into their freshly cleaned homes, check to make sure everything is good to use. This is the basic checklist I follow during a clear out:
Is it safe to use? Makeup products don’t last forever, and chances are if you’ve had a product for over two years it’s no longer safe. Foundations can last anywhere between 12 months to 24 months, most powder products generally are good for 24 months, and lip products should last around 12 months. Mascara is the one product I think everyone – myself included – doesn’t exchange regularly enough, as their expiration date is just three months from opening. All makeup and skincare products have a small square with a number in; this is the recommended lifetime (in months) of the specific product. Be honest with yourself and throw out anything that is no longer safe to use.
Will I actually use this? You may have just picked up a blush only two months ago so it’s definitely safe to use, but now you’ve brought it home it’s apparent that it’s way brighter than it looked in store, and you’d feel like you were in costume as a Russian doll if you wore it. It’s disheartening to donate or throw out products you’ve spent your hard earned cash on, but it’s definitely better to give them a home they’ll be appreciated in, instead of leaving them in a drawer. Any unopened and unused products can be donated to women’s shelters, and that’s always my first choice for those products. Lightly used products may be okay to give to your family or friends, at mutual discretion. If something is old and used up, unfortunately it needs to be thrown out, and I’d recommend handing in your rubbish to your local L’Occitane store, who have a fantastic cosmetic recycling program with Terracycle, all of the details you need are included in the link.
Is this an everyday product or an optional product? My everyday makeup lives in my makeup bag, and I tend to favour the products I know and love to put in here, or something new I’ve bought and am trying out. As Matt and I live between our parents’ houses whilst we’re saving for a house (it’s only for another year or so, and we actually really love it!) it’s so much easier to keep my things in a bag. I keep all of my optional products – I still have nine blushes after my clear out, dear Lord – in a drawer in my vanity table, organised by category. I do switch out products from time to time, whether it’s a concealer or mascara, I go through stages of liking one product for a while then fancying a change. Be realistic, and don’t keep an overwhelming amount of options with your everyday times as you’ll be less likely to try new things.

Wash your makeup brushes
Is it just me that feels like my life is approximately 87% more together when my makeup brushes are clean? No? Seriously, it’s one of those tasks I dread, and I put off for way longer than necessary but it’s never as bad as I think. I love the feeling of doing my makeup for the first few days afterwards with freshly cleaned tools, especially when I’ve cleaned my makeup sponge too! I’d really recommend investing in a brush cleansing palette next time you’re feeling spendy as they make the process way quicker and easier, and I genuinely think keeping on top of the cleaning keeps my brushes looking better for longer. Some of my face brushes are about seven years old, most are sadly discontinued but they look good as new because I’ve looked after them. Also, you definitely don’t need to invest in specific brush cleaners, Johnson’s baby shampoo works a trick, and you can get huge bottles at Costco that will last forever!

Shop your stash
Re-introducing old favourites is one of my favorite ways to update my makeup bag or skincare routine! Now you’ve sorted out what is still good to use, you’ve almost definitely found products you totally forgot you owned. Please tell me that’s not just me who forgets they’ve purchased things?! I always find lipsticks I’d once loved and worn every day, that had been banished to the back of a drawer and left unloved for months. This is the stage where I’ll probably switch out my mascara (my current one has definitely been used for longer than three months!) and add in a different eyeliner or a new lippie. Always a new lippie. I feel very refreshed after switching out just a few products, as I’d liked what I’d been using for a while I had no desire to change things around, and Matt even noticed! I also found a Jouer eyeshadow pencil that I literally have no recollection of buying, but wow it’s beautiful and it’s become a go-to in my makeup bag over the past week.

Add one or two new items
I’m currently doing a Beauty No Buy for April, so I cannot purchase any new makeup or skincare products, except if a product I use every day runs out. However, my favourite part of a clear out has to be realising where the gaps are in your collection, and things that you could do with for the new season. I don’t personally fake tan, but I know lots of people will be picking up an extra shade of their foundation or concealer in darker shades around this time of year, ready for their Spring and Summer tanning. I save that for Summer when I go on holiday, although I probably shouldn’t bother as I gain more freckles than I tan, I wish I tanned like Matt did! I would love to get an everyday highlighter as the only one left in my stash is definitely more for a night out and is pretty heavy on the shimmer. I realise by my confession above that blush is the last thing I ‘need’ to buy but I really want to pick up a Bare Minerals Gen Nude blush as I’ve seen so many people rave about them, and I’ve lusted after one for months!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope this post inspired you to have a clear out of your makeup and maybe re-introduce some old (or new) products! What is your go-to makeup product this Spring? Have you been excited about anything you’ve re-discovered from your collection recently?

-G x

The Cleansers Worth Your Money

Hey, loves!

I’m very excited to be talking about my favourite part of my skincare routine: cleansing my face. I love nothing more than the feeling of coming home from work, taking off my makeup and having a bath, before spending the evening with Matthew, more than likely cooking and watching our shows. (We’re currently watching Our Planet and it’s heartbreaking and amazing at the same time, the walrus scene had me crying so hard!)

I find that taking my makeup off is the first step in unwinding from my day; whether I’ve been at work, out shopping or running errands with Matt, it literally feels amazing every time. I’ve always been loyal to specific cleansers – I used Clinique Take The Day off pretty much exclusively for two years, but then when I changed my mind and no longer wanted to use/buy makeup and skincare products that weren’t cruelty free, I had to start looking at other options.

I shared my cruelty free skincare routine with you last month, and those products are tried, tested and truly loved. I didn’t delve too much into the products I use alternatively, or what I favour when I do switch out products from time to time. I think my skin reacts best when I stay consistent with my day/night moisturisers, and I truly love what I use so I stay away from changing these up. Cleansers are a product I have a little more wiggle room with, and as they’re not staying on my skin for an extended period of time, they don’t seem to cause too much trouble if my skin doesn’t agree with the formulation. I could probably change up my toner reguarly too, but I honestly have no desire to as I love Pixi Glow Tonic more than life itself! All of the products mentioned in this post are cruelty free, so you can shop without guilt if you’re in the market for something new! So, you probably won’t be too surprised by any of my picks based on previous posts, but which products would I recommend?

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser
This is the cleanser that I reach for every morning and some nights, and as I mentioned in my skincare routine it smells very spa-like due to the natural ingredients. The cleanser foams up nicely when applied and never leaves my skin feeling dry or tight after; just a clean canvas to apply my makeup. It’s inexpensive, paraben free and formulated for use on all skin types. I’ve found that generally when a product states it’s suitable for ‘all skin types’ it doesn’t work so well on sensitive skin (my skin is beyond sensitive) but this is fantastic. The cleanser is formulated with witch hazel, which has worked really well to lessen my acne scars, and I’m pretty sure is solely down to this product (and my beloved night cream). On the occasions I use this cleanser in the evening I always take my makeup off prior with micellar water or an alternative cleanser, this is just the next step in my routine. Matt sometimes uses this when he’s having a ‘bad skin day’ – he’s crazy, his skin is perfect – and so does my brother. I picked this up on a whim one day in Boots back in October last year, and I’m so glad I did. I just can’t wait to try more from the brand!
RRP: £5.96

Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser
With my love of Pixi Glow Tonic being strong and unconditional, it’s safe to say I had bloody high hopes for this cleanser, and *spoiler* it didn’t disappoint. I got this as a gift from my parents for Christmas, and after having my eyes on the cleanser for a while I was so excited to try it. I started using it in January, and it was love at first use, although I shied away from using it too much as it’s a lot more expensive compared to the Sukin cleanser. Having used it more regularly over the past few months, I think the price is completely justified and it’s a product I look forward to using. Again, I don’t take my makeup off with this product although I’ve seen some people use it in that way and will probably give it a try now I’ve thought about it. The cleanser is thick and feels so luxurious on the skin, it’s like having a mini facial in our bathroom every night! The 5% gylcolic acid helps to keep my pores clear, and my skin always looks fresh and, literally glowing, after every use. Matt always compliments when my skin looks good, and I noticed every time he said it looked ‘really good’ was the nights I’d used this. It’s becoming an every day staple in my skincare routine, and I know I’ll re-purchase before it runs out.
RRP: £18.00

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
Ah, my beloved milky jelly cleanser. A truly iconic cult product, and boy is it for good reason. I’ve re-purchased this cleanser several times, and when I’m having a moment with it, I really love it. I use this exclusively in the evenings, and although I don’t reach for it every night I do grab this a few times per week. I really like to use it after a night out or a long day where I’ve really stepped up my makeup game and am wearing more than usual. I love to take my makeup off with this as I feel like my skin always feels super soft afterwards, and sometimes I’ll use this to take off my makeup, then cleanse with the Pixi cleanser. It is worth noting that I have combination skin that leans more to the oily side, and my face never feels dry after using this although I’ve seen various reviews saying people find it makes them more dry. In my opinion this is a steal; it’s fuss-free and so simple to use, sometimes the simple stuff really is best.
RRP: £15.00

The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter
I’ve used this on and off for years now, I don’t think I could ever not have this in rotation in my routine. Right now I use most nights, as I’m trying to use micellar water less often, due to the waste produced by cotton pads. Again, like the Glossier cleanser I use this to take my makeup off, and I’ll usually follow it up with my Pixi cleanser too. All about that double cleanse life. This cleanser is different as it’s in a balm format; the product is solid and when worked into the skin turns into the most wonderful oily consistency. I find this works especially well on eye makeup, and I never actually need to double cleanse with this product even when I wear waterproof mascara. As this product is formulated with camomile, it has that perfect soothing, calming scent and is so welcome at the end of a long stressful day. There’s also an oil version of this product I reach for over and over again, it’s equally as good and another must-have in my collection. I just need to find a solution to the cotton pads problem – has anyone got any experience with re-usable alternatives? Please help a gal out!
RRP: £10.00

Thank you so much for reading! Is taking your makeup off the best part of your day too? Have you tried any of the cleansers mentioned in this post? What are your go-to cleansers? Let me know in the comments!

-G x

How To Become A Morning Person This Spring

Hi, loves!

I’ve always loved the idea of being a morning person. A sense of getting up when the birds begin chirping, being up and about roaming around before others have even opened their eyes, and just getting started on the day from the crack of dawn. My boyfriend thrives in the mornings, and I had just resided to it not being for me. He’s always full of the joys of Spring (appropriate, right?) the second his eyes open, and despises the fact I snooze our alarm at least twice every morning. Well, I used to!

Over the past few months I’ve been working so hard to become a morning person, to enjoy early mornings and to look forward to them, instead of dreading them. There’s a few things that have worked wonders to change my mindset, and I’m now officially one of those people. It’s actually pretty great, and I can’t stop banging on about it to my friends. Also, it means you get to eat more delicious food. Breakfast really IS the best meal of the day!

Prepare your clothes/bag/food etc the night before. I used to do this way back when I was in school, and I felt great pleasure in having my uniform hanging on the front of my wardrobe door, my Jane Norman bag filled to the brim with crap I didn’t need (textbooks? what are those?) and my makeup set out and ready to go. When I went to college, I started to go for the just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-possibly-still-hungover look more often than not, and my eagerness to be prepared for the day ahead went down the drain. Then, I started the world of work, and I just never got into a rhythm that worked for me. Fast forward to 2019: after almost seven years in the working world, I’ve got it down. My work bag is always ready to go, Matt and I’s clothes are ironed and hanging up on our wardrobe door before our heads hit our pillows, and our lunches are prepared for the next day. It’s one less thing to think about in the morning, and sometimes I still even place my makeup products on my dressing table, ready to use when I’m bleary eyed and fighting the urge to jump back into bed for another cuddle!

Go to bed a reasonable time. It’s probably the most obvious thing to point out, but it’s for good reason. Waking up early and feeling ready to take on the day, are never going to go hand-in-hand if you’re falling asleep mid-way through a movie you decided you just had to watch at 11pm. Matt and I are such homebodies – we love our cosy evening routine so much – and quite honestly we’re very rarely awake at 11pm! That is the latest of nights for us, specifically reserved for weekends when Matt’s off work. In our twenties and living the high life. We’re all different, but scientists believe the optimum number of hours we should sleep lands between the six to eight hour mark, and I have to say for us, I agree. If we get less than seven hours we’re a little cranky, and counting down to having an early night from the second our alarm goes off. I think the best way to tweak this is to try to go to bed 10 – 20 minutes earlier each day, gradually working up to an hour or hour and a half earlier, and seeing how you feel getting up at the same time or earlier in the mornings.

Stop pressing snooze. Seriously. I admit it: I’m a fan of the snooze button. I used to religiously set alarms for an hour (or sometimes two) before we were going to get up just so I could enjoy snuggling back in and falling asleep again. I know. Matt hated it but never complained, bless him! You’ll be glad to know I’ve finally relaxed on the super early alarms. I still set our alarm a tad earlier than we need to get up to get ready for the day ahead, but generally by a much more reasonable 10 to 15 minutes. This gives us a little time to wake up, snuggle in with each other and talk about our sleep and the day ahead. *Cue lots of me telling Matt he said something super cute but he was fast asleep and has no recollection. And I’m probably complaining about him stealing all the covers. He does it every night!* In hindsight, I never actually felt better from snoozing our alarm either, if anything it made me more tired and grumpy, because I would fall back asleep then jump awake, feeling more startled every time.

Create a routine. I love routines. Love, love, love them. That will be no surprise to any regular readers, I think they just make life so much more simple! Due to Matt’s varying shifts throughout the week, our mornings are a little different each day, but that actually makes things a little easier for me, I think. Some days we’re up at 6am, and he’s out of the house around half an hour later. On those mornings I love to write and edit upcoming blog posts and/or squeeze in a thirty minute yoga session before I have to get ready for work. The days we get to snooze a little longer are when I’m out of the house first (much later at around 8.30am), and they’re generally reserved for little lie ins and cups of tea in bed. Both glorious in their own way! Of course, weekends are a whole different ball game (if Matt is off work, that is) – it’s our time to sleep a little longer and just move at a slower pace. Also, I find my days start so much better if I don’t start to browse social media the second I turn off the alarm. I’m obviously not perfect and I do usually catch up on my chosen platform (Instagram, ALWAYS!) before I leave the house, but it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up anymore. Matt and I try so hard to not look at our phones whilst we’re lying in bed in the morning, otherwise it makes us want to stay there for at least another twenty minutes! It’s still a work in progress, but little steps climb mountains. Or something like that.

Give yourself things to look forward to. It’s almost like bribing yourself, but having something in the morning to get up for is going to make you want to do it. I don’t really need to do this any more, but in the early days of trying to get up earlier and enjoy it, I really did need all of the motivation I could get! Whether it was the promise of a yoga session, an extra twenty minutes to binge-watch vlogs whilst I got ready (look no further than Emma Hill or The Anna Edit, they’re a dream) or cups of tea in bed, these little things became a reason to get up and get on with the day.

Let in the light and open the windows. Hallelujah, it’s no longer like the dead of night when it’s time to get up! Since mid-February when the mornings started getting warmer and lighter, my mood rose so quickly. We all know getting up when it’s dark and cold outside is ten times harder, so putting ourselves into new routines throughout the Spring and Summer gives us a better shot of carrying it on throughout the colder months too. Matt and I sleep with the window open every night (although, not too open. A few weeks ago, our next door neighbour’s cat let himself in during the middle of the night, plonked his bum on our bedside table and DRANK OUR GLASS OF WATER. guys. IT DRANK FROM THE GLASS. I woke up to the sound of his tongue lapping it up and screamed until Matt woke up. I sh*t you not. Also, we are not cat people hahaha). Anyway, I digress, but waking up to a light chill in the room is actually quite nice, and I find it weirdly motivating. It’s not freezing cold, so I find it just wakes me up a little more. Also, any excuse to wear bae’s dressing gown while I get ready, it’s so much cosier than mine!

Experiment with delicious breakfasts. Let’s be honest, food is the best part of everyone’s day, and in my opinion breakfast food just pips anything else to the top of the list. If you have time for homemade pancakes and berries covered in syrup then more power to you, but I’m thinking the quick, easy options are the best to go for in the mornings before work. Think avocado toast, oatmeal, Special K (I’m having a bit of a love affair with that right now!) or smoothies packed with all the goodies. If there’s one thing that’s sure to get me excited about getting up it’s food! Also, not to sound like your grandma, but breakfast is so important. Even if you’re running super late and barely have time to catch your breath, at least grab a banana or protein bar, you’ll thank me for it when the 11am slump doesn’t arrive!

I hope this post helped to give you a little inspiration, or maybe a few laughs at least! Are you a morning person? Do you enjoy getting up and getting on with your day? Please let me know your tips in the comments below!

-G x

Spring Bucket List

Happy first day of Spring, beautiful people!

I am so excited for the new season, and to finally say goodbye to Winter! It’s weird, we definitely didn’t have a super cold Winter like we have in past years, but it seemed to last so long, I feel like I’ve been anticipating Spring since January. Although most of our Winter was pretty warm, this past weekend we woke up to snow, I was not impressed haha.

Spring is a season of new beginnings, blossoming flowers and warmer weather, and I think this year it’s going to be one of my favourite seasons. Matt and I already have so much planned and it’s the best feeling to have exciting things to look forward to. I’ve been feeling very reflective over the past few days, and after having something unfortunate happen I’ve been truly counting my blessings more than ever. I feel so lucky for what I have; an amazing boyfriend that I love more than life itself, a solid family and friend network, a job that I enjoy, my blog, car and so much more. I’m feeling happy and ready for a fresh new season to bring a little more joy!

I shared Matt and I’s Winter Bucket List in this post, and we ticked off so many of our items despite being super busy, and had so much fun throughout Winter! I recieved messages from people saying they enjoyed seeing what we had planned and took some ideas from what we wanted to do, so I’ve decided this will definitely be a post that is updated for every season this year. Unfortunately we didn’t get to squeeze in a weekend getaway to Glasgow – we’re hoping to this season instead – but we did book our Summer holiday and we’re heading to Croatia in June, we’re so excited! We also went to five NUFC games (and we won most of them), took a few day trips up North, explored Northumberland and Newcastle SO MUCH, and we went for lots of breakfast dates and beach walks. We had lots of fun date nights – some with our friends, and just spent lots of quality time together. We also got to see my family who live in Alaska for the first time in almost five years, it’s so much better to see each other in person instead of FaceTime-ing. We went for dinner with them this week and had such a lovely evening! A few of the things we didn’t get round to in the Winter may have made their way into things we hope to do this Spring…

Explore more of Northumberland during day trips
Spring-clean our wardrobes/lives (again) Marie Kondo style
Enjoy a staycation at Hotel du Vin in Newcastle
Go for more breakfast or brunch dates
Make s’mores on a chilly Spring evening
Go to a drive-in movie
Spend a weekend away in Glasgow
Celebrate bank holidays the way we always do – date night at one of our favourite restaurants!
Start my new blog series. It’s been a while in the making but I’m so excited
Enjoy a picnic in the sun
Use up beauty products before I buy anything new to replace it. I’m officially on a ‘Beauty No Buy’ for Spring… UHOH
Go to Alwnick Gardens during cherry blossom season
Make/create new recipes together for warmer weather
Buy fresh vegetables from a farmers market for the week
Spend as many weekend mornings as possible walking along the beach
Shoot a Spring fashion blog post (super nervous about this one!)
Go to the Lake District
Squeeze in all of the date nights – this will be listed for every season!
Book a city break to Lisbon
Feel comfortable wearing shorts in England as it gets warmer. Matt has no problem with this one, he’s been wearing shorts since February HAHA
Celebrate Matt and I’s birthdays – we both turn 25 this season!
Go to more NUFC games
Buy all the bunches of beautiful peonies – prepare to see them in every blog photo
Change up my hair colour/style a little (I’m thinking coppery, rich brown tones)
Play mini-golf
Spend an afternoon at The Garage Spa
Write more ‘think pieces’ for my blog
Pick fresh fruits at a nearby farm
Begin shopping for our holiday to Croatia
Plant new flowers in my grandma’s garden for her
Take a road trip to somewhere we’ve never been before

Thank you so much for reading! What are you hoping to do this season? Are you as excited as I am for Spring?

-G x

How I Plan My Week

Hi, loves!

Way back in my Winter Bucket List post I asked if you would like to see how I plan my week, and received tons of responses saying yes, please! A little background… I thrive off routine, plans and things being in order. I can’t quite explain why, but knowing what my week is going to look like brings me so much joy, and also helps my anxious mind to rest a little. I fret about everything I can possibly think of (it’s SO MUCH FUN) so taking control of things that I can makes me calmer. I’m sure for some people I probably plan a little too much and with too much detail, but you can easily adapt anything in this post to work better for you. It’s really trial and error, and I hope my post gives you a little inspiration and insight into how I plan. (Also, it’s so not too late to buy a 2019 planner – you’ve still got best part of 9 months to use it)! Any excuse for new stationery.

Write down the important things. If you work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, chances are that’s not something you’re likely to forget and it doesn’t need to be recorded every day. I generally write very little to do with work in my planner as I use notepads and my work calendar whilst I’m at my desk for anything important, like a meeting or deadline. If your hours change, or you are self employed and have a little more flexibility in your days, then this would be the kind of thing I would include. Matt works various shifts throughout the week, so I write his hours down – this also helps as we’re currently living between our parents houses (whilst saving for our first home) and we can plan where is easier to be that night, based on his shifts. I always plan my blog posts in my planner, which helps me SO much to make sure everything is ready to go. Personal appointments, date nights, errands and plans with our friends are things I always like to write down, including the time and place, so I don’t have to check back through texts or rely on my brain to remember everything.

Stick to the ‘rule of threes’ with your to-do list. I learned this from many years of reading Anna‘s blog posts and watching her YouTube videos, and it works so well for me. If I set myself a daily to-do list of 20 things, I’d literally do none of them. Breaking everything down, into the three most important tasks, helps me to prioritise and not feel overwhelmed. I tend to number tasks from 1 to 3 in order of importance, and I always tick them off once complete – sometimes if I’m having one of those days I will include unimportant things, like changing our sheets and doing a deep clean. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Set weekly and/or monthly goals and review them regularly. If you’re a regular reader, it’ll be no surprise that setting goals is my kinda thing. I love to have something to work towards, and it’s the best way I find to motivate myself. I thrive off working towards goals, especially with my blog and it helps a lot when I feel like I’m stuck in a bit of a rut. I think it’s a great way to track progress and keep yourself accountable, and you can always change your goals as and when you need to. Setting monthly goals works best for me, and if I can’t/don’t achieve something in the month I’d like to, I can always look at my objectives and re-schedule for the next month. It’s important to only use your goals as a guide, not as a checklist for what you must do in a specific timeframe, life doesn’t work that way!

Use your space to write notes, make lists, check finances and plan your meals. I love writing lists and I love checking things off even more! I definitely benefit from having things written down infront of me instead of floating about in my head, and as I check my planner (almost) every day it’s a good reminder to do things. I meal plan in my planner every week and since doing so we have no waste, we enjoy our meals more because they’re never just thrown together, and we are never stuck for ideas. We rotate the same approximate twenty recipes, and when we feel like making something new I ususally browse Pinterest, Instagram and Tesco’s online recipe book. I also write our shopping list out each week to make sure we have what we need for each night, and we buy food two to three times per week as we always need fresh ingredients! I’m hoping to write a post in the next few weeks detailing our meals for a week as I’ve had a few comments saying people would like to see that.

Make adjustments as and when required. The one downside of writing in pen, is that making ammendments sometimes looks a little messy. I do however have no shame in using my Tippex mouse (life changing, I promise you!) to change anything I need to, and I always try to make those changes as soon as possible so I don’t forget. Usually it’s things like times or dates of an appointment or Matt’s shifts (which also sometimes changes our meal plan(s) for the day/week). Life is always going to change around you and your plans are often not going to be exactly as you first thought, and that’s okay!

Make your planner work for you. Apologies if that sounds like the beginning of a bad speech at a multi-level marketing seminar. But, hear me out. The whole point of planning out your week/month/year is that it gives you an idea of what your schedule looks like, and also makes sure you don’t miss anything important. If birthdays and anniversaries are something you’re likely to forget I’d highly recommend setting up your planner for half an hour and adding in any important dates. Once it’s done it’s done for a whole year! I also strongly advise writing down any quotes that stick with you, or things you can record to motivate yourself if you’re having one of those days/weeks. I love to re-read pages from The Secret any time I need a little boost, and I’d advise anyone who wants a little more positivity in their lives to pick it up too! For anyone in that situation right now, my sweet friend Grace sent the below illustration to me when I was feeling down a little while ago, and it made me smile so much. Isn’t it so cute?! (Except, on one of those days a Lush bath is the BEST thing to boost my mood, followed by cuddles with Matthew, obvs!)

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to know if you found any of my tips helpful? Do you have any tips for how you plan? Please let me know, I love learning from other people!

-G x

How I’m Changing The Way I Spend Money

Happy Sunday, loves!

Today I’m sharing with you a few of the little changes I’ve made to my spending habits, mostly since the beginning of 2019. We’re only halfway through the second month of the year, but I already feel so much better since implementing a few simple changes. I thought I’d share with you the changes I’ve made, in the hope it may help or inspire you if you’re looking to hold tighter on the reigns of your finances. Aren’t we all…

Matt and I are currently saving for our future home (we’re going to start looking by the end of the year and I’m SO excited at the prospect of this I can barely stand it)! As we’re buckling down on saving more and spending less, whilst still trying to have a life, we’ve been looking at all the things we can do to improve our ability to save.

Budget by category, and track your spending
In my opinion, it’s so important to know how much you get paid, and to categorise your spending in categories at the beginning of the month. I can’t believe some people don’t know their take home pay each month! If that is you, this is a no judgement zone. BUT, please make a budget! I’m begging you! I track my spending loosely on a spreadsheet I made a few years back (it’s colour coded and very pleasing to the eye LOL. I’m so Type A), but as a result I always know how much I have to set aside for bills and fixed monthly expenses. My fixed monthly expenses include things like my phone contract, house fund savings, my car payment and insurance, then my variable monthly expenses include things like holiday savings (to pay off our Summer holiday to Croatia and begin savings for a mini-break to Budapest, I’m so excited!), ‘fun money’, petrol and groceries. I split my money into twelve categories overall, but it’s all down to what works best for you. I personally think it’s really important to have a ‘fun money’ category; whatever amount works for you in your budget; for treating yourself to a few new beauty bits during the month or spending a little extra on date night.

Spending with cash only in shops/supermarkets
I literally never used cash. Ever. I tapped my contactless debit card or Apple pay like it was my job, and rarely carried a full sized purse as I just didn’t need it. My card holder is now strictly reserved for when I carry a small crossbody bag (usually just on the weekend), and day-to-day I now carry my purse with me. Using cash at first felt so strange, it was like being on holiday and trying to work out which coin was which. Yes, really. I felt so awkward the first few times I didn’t pay using just notes as I was scrabbling through my coins, mortified I was holding up the queue. How British of me. Spending with physical cash keeps me accountable in a whole different way, as I think when I use a debit card it often doesn’t feel like real money. I’m not sure if it’s mind over matter, but whenever Matt and I go out for date night and pay in cash rather than on our debit cards we always spend less. If you find yourself overspending on your budget, or just are generally confused where your money is going, I’d highly recommend trying to use just cash only, it puts things into a whole new perspective!

Meal planning
Matt and I started to do this during the last few months of 2018, and by now we nail it every week. Our evening routines vary due to Matt’s shift pattern, but we know what that will be at least a few weeks in advance. As a result, we plan which nights we’re going to cook with fresh ingredients, and which nights we might grab a Sainsbury’s flat bread pizza (the BEST – you need to try the chorizo one!) or an M&S ‘throw it in the oven and wait thirty minutes’ meal. This all depends on what time Matt finishes work, for example on the nights he comes home between 9pm and 9.30pm we quite honestly can’t be bothered to cook and we want something quick and easy so we can catch up on our days and fall into bed! I’d love to write a whole post, detailing our meals for a week – including recipes – if that’s something you’d like to see?

Limiting online shopping
I’m not completely opposed to online shopping, but I no longer feel the need to mindlessly scroll through websites and buy things just for the buzz of buying. Before re-training the way I think about money, I shopped online way more than I’d like to admit, and often once I’d opened the package, at least half of the novelty had already worn off. I prefer to shop in stores anyway; to feel, smell and look at things properly. I have a few online loves – such as Feel Unique – that I know I’ll purchase from for years to come, but I feel less of an obligation to purchase online. I’d also really recommend taking twenty minutes out of your day to unsubscribe from all of the mailing lists you’ve signed up to over the years, this will definitley ease any extra temptation! One thing I will never get tired of buying online is books; as much as I love browsing Waterstone’s, I can’t justify paying full price when I know (usually) Amazon will be way cheaper! My Amazon ‘Save For Later’ list is brimming with books to order over the coming months.

Opening separate savings accounts
This is one of the best things I’ve done to get into a better habit of saving money! I have a regular old ‘Emergency Fund’ then I also have a ‘House Fund’ and a ‘Holiday Fund’. Matt and I are so excited to buy our first home together and it’s something we talk about all the time, but it’s also something that we don’t need to put added pressure onto ourselves for. We are so blessed to spend every day/night together and we have two houses right now – so we feel very lucky and grateful for that. Having a holiday fund allows me to set aside money each money to pay off our upcoming holidays – I’m so excited! – then when that’s paid off, I can carry on adding money to it as we’re planning a city break to Budapest later in the year. My ‘Emergency Fund’ is a personal fund, which is to take money from as/when needed for genuine emergencies. Sadly, a Mulberry purse doesn’t count as an emergency. I have direct debits set up which automatically add money into these accounts throughout the month, then if I have anything left over at the end of the month I’ll add extra into a specific account (right now any extra pennies are reserved for our holiday fund).

Implement the thirty day rule on any splurge/impulse purchases
This is SUCH a great tip that I read/heard somewhere ages ago, and it works so well for me. I really struggled with this at the beginning of January, but I’m now set in a new habit and it’s begining to feel second nature. I use space in my planner, or sometimes in the Notes app on my phone, to write down any of the things I’m lusting over, whether it’s a new beauty product or a clothing item. In the past, if I saw something I’d quite like to buy, I’d open up my laptop and purchase without thinking about it. This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, so writing things down as a decoy to not buy them was a totally different concept to me. The whole point is to then wait (at least) thirty days before purchasing, as if after the thirty days you still want that item it’s not a silly purchase. I was making so many frivolous purchases in 2018, and I’m quite shocked that I haven’t bought one thing on my list that has passed the thirty day term. So, it really was something I lusted after in the moment, and I don’t regret not buying at all!

Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of my points helpful, or did they reasonate with you as something you’d like to introduce into your life? What is your best tip for managing your money better?

-G x

Six Ways Marie Kondo Changed My Life

Hi, loves!

Marie Kondo is an author and organising consultant who is probably one of the most influential people around right now! Her first book, The Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up, is a best-seller, as is her follow up book, Spark Joy, and now she’s the star of her own TV show on Netflix, all based on her own method (named KonMari) of tidying and organising. So, what is the KonMari method? Well, there’s a lot to it, and I haven’t gone into too much detail on her what’s and why’s in this post. I’d advise reading her book(s) and watching her Netflix show for more details.

I read her book at least a year ago, and although I made small changes to my lifestyle off the back of it, I wasn’t overly fussed on what I’d read. Then, I binge-watched season one of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and totally got the KonMari bug. Literally right away I began overhauling Matt and I’s wardrobes, and then, our lives! I think she’s the sweetest lady, and I love how passionate she is about her hobby-turned-job. I’ve learned so much from Marie, and I really think her teachings have genuinely changed my life in many ways that span beyond cleaning. Today I’m sharing a few things I’ve learned and benefited from since following her teachings, and I hope it encourages you to learn more too!

#1 I’m grateful for everything I own. This is absolutley my favourite thing I’ve learned from Marie, and it was a shock for me to realise I hadn’t previously thought this way. Marie teaches that you should only keep items that spark joy, therefore you love what you own and you own what you love. Since I began clearing out everything I own and seeing everything I’d accumulated right infront of me, it was a bit of a shock to donate or throw out so much stuff. I have very rarely had an emotional attachment to the things I buy before, but now I am truly grateful for the things that made the cut, and I absolutely love/use them more, which is what the lifestyle is all about. I get SO much more use out of my beauty products now! Matt was already so good at wearing most of his clothes, but we both found several items we’d completely forgotten about, and now it’s like we have a whole new wardrobe!

#2 I’m more mindful of what I purchase. I have already been actively trying to be more mindful of what I buy in general in relation to my sustainability journey, but this stepped things up a notch. Since having such big clear outs I don’t want to be in a position where I need to do that again, therefore everything I buy and bring home is intentional. I buy things that I truly love, and I’m way less inclined to make silly impulse purchases. My blog post on Sunday will go into even more detail on this! (Except for candles, we always need more candles for those ~cosy vibes~)

#3 I’m enjoying living more minimalistically than I have before. Okay, so minimalism on the whole scares the heck out of me. I enjoy lots of aspects of the thought process behind living in a minimalistic way, but it’s just never been something I thought I could adhere to, because it seems so strict and regimented. That being said, I definitley had way too many items, from clothing to beauty to miscellaneous, and I no longer feel the need to have so many options of the same item. Does anyone need fourteen blushes? No. Who do I think I am, Jaclyn Hill?! Matt has always purchased items in the sense of quality over quantity, and over the past few months I’ve totally re-trained my thinking to this way too. I wish I’d picked up on Matt’s habits ages ago, I’ve been missing out this whole time and we’d definitley have saved more for our future home. HAHA.

#4 I genuinely enjoy tidying up and organising. I mean, this isn’t necessarily anything new to me, but I have a super love for it now! Matt is more than happy to play a game on the PS4 whilst I happily re-fold everything in his drawers for twenty minutes. #girlfriendgoals, right?! If I have a spare thirty minutes before Matt gets home from work I’m more than happy to blast a little John Mayer and get my (cleaning) groove on, and it definitely makes our evenings feel more relaxed. I think having a clean and tidy living space can make such a difference to your mental health, it just makes the space (and you!) feel light and refreshed. My favourite eco-friendly cleaning brand is Method, all of their products smell SO GOOD. I can’t wait to put this into practice in every room when we buy our home in the next year!

#5 I save so much time getting ready. This one shocked me as I really didn’t realise how much time I’d wasted for years before. Especially since clearing out my beauty products – literally everything; makeup, skincare, bodycare, shower stuff, haircare, toiletry minis – I’ve really seen which products I love as I’m using things up before opening new ones, and an added bonus is I’m saving so much money by not buying crap I don’t need. I’ve definitely had go-to products in the past, but now I easily can reach for my favourite products, and I no longer waste half an hour trying to find that mauve lipstick. I keep my everyday skincare and makeup products in their own pouches, as we’re living between my parents house and Matt’s, and I realised how little I switch things out. Streamlining my beauty products has been one of the best parts of this process for me! I’d love to share an updated What’s In My Makeup Bag with you if you’d like to see it?

#6 *Everything has a home. *Well, almost everything. We’re still not completely finished our tidying journey, but we’re so close! I love that I know where to find what I’m looking for without trying four different spots to see where I shoved it back after the last time I’d used it. Marie’s folding method is so simple, yet also revolutionary, I love it! Rifling through all my products is a thing of the past and it makes cleaning, packing or unpacking SO MUCH EASIER. It’s also great that Matt isn’t constantly asking me where certain clothing items are, because he knows everything has a place. Every cloud, and that!

Thank you so much for reading! Are you as big of a fan girl as I am? Do you love the KonMari method as much as I do? If you’re still yet to get invovled in the whirlwind of cleaning and tidying along with everyone else, what are you waiting for?! Snuggle up and stick Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on, you won’t regret it! (But make sure to clear your schedule for the foreseeable future!)

-G x