Why Supporting Small Businesses Is Extra Important Right Now & How You Can Help

Hi, loves! I’m so excited to share today’s post with you all because whilst we’re all having a really hard time right now, this pandemic is really hitting small businesses hard. I’m so passionate about supporting the small businesses I love and I really want to share what I’ve been doing recently to help and show support, even in the smallest of ways. I love so many small businesses and I’ve always admired people who can create something from nothing. From your local salon, to online boutiques to florists and everything in between, all of these businesses need your help and support more than ever right now.

Coast Candle from Our Lovely Goods, a fantastic small business; this is is one of my favourite ever candles and I’m so happy to support them!

Shop local
There’s a reason the #shoplocal has over thirty MILLION tags on Instagram… it’s super important to people! I love to browse local shops whenever I can; they often supply goods you’d never find anywhere else, support local artists and have a little bit of that ‘home’ feeling in them. I think local stores also make wonderful gifts, especially if you have family or friends who love where you live but maybe live a little further out. Have a look on social media and maybe a little google search to see if you can support any of your favourite local stores online, or maybe just get some ideas of where you’d like to visit when this is all over and we’re able to explore again.

Talk about small businesses you love!
If you love a company and their products, now is the time to shout it from the rooftops. I love to share small businesses I find, especially on Instagram stories, and I’m so happy to promote products that make me happy. Ask your family members and friends which small businesses they support and branch out to new businesses too! Word of mouth is how a lot of these businesses began and it’s something they’ll always appreciate. 

Buy goods online if services are still running
If there’s one good thing about a pandemic… it’s online shopping has never been more fun. Right?! I honestly haven’t purchased very much since lockdown began, but I have ‘window’ shopped online A LOT; I love adding things to my cart and then making a mental note of things I’d like to buy next time I need another *insert product here*. Websites always appreciate an increase in traffic as it really helps out with SEO – this even works for my little blog too. I love seeing little notifications from WordPress that my stats are ‘booming’ when you guys really love a blog post! Mail services are all running, albeit a little slower than usual, so there’s nothing to stop you ordering online. Be sure to check the company’s social media pages for discount codes too, it kinda seems like every website has some kind of deal on right now. 

Share their social media pages or enter competitions
I’m very aware that not everybody is in a place where they’re able to online shop right now; many people have been laid off or furloughed; and it’s an incredibly sad time for so many people. If you don’t have the means to spend physical cash to show your support, that is just fine. Sharing your favourite brands’ social media pages or entering competitions again drives traffic to their pages, and in turn boosts their SEO. When you’re in a position to purchase from them again you can, but make sure to look after yourself right now! 

Take the night off cooking and order in from your favourite family run restaurant
It’s slightly different than shopping local, but all of those local (often family run) takeaway places, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops etc are going to need your custom more than ever right now. We’ve ordered takeaway food around once per week during lockdown – our go-to is always Moti Jheel, we swear it’s the best Indian food in the North East – and I’m so happy to support a business we love so much. Although drive-thru’s and dine-in restaurants are completely closed in the UK at the moment, lots of takeaway services are running and I really encourage you to take advantage of a delicious meal you don’t have to put the work in for!

Tip the staff who are still working
Tipping food places is pretty common in the UK – although unlike in other countries it’s not mandatory or even expected – but Matt and I always tip our delivery drivers! Those people are possibly working much more hours than usual or could have picked up delivering as an extra job if they’ve been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic. I think the kindness people are showing right now is such an unexpected blessing to come from a horrible season of life.

Leave positive reviews
Similarly to sharing your thoughts and comments on social media, leaving reviews on the brand’s website, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor etc really helps to drive traffic their way and encourage others to purchase, or at least browse too. Make sure to set your reviews to public so you can ensure other people can read them!

Order a gift card for future use or for a gift for a friend/family member
Many small businesses who are unable to offer their services right now – whether they don’t have the means to deliver, they’re a salon that rely on hands-on treatment or any other reason – are offering gift cards to their customers. This is a fantastic way to show your support, and get a little treat in a few months’ time when things are (hopefully) heading back to normal! You could also buy gift cards for any family or friends who love a specific store or salon, and give them a little pick-me-up during this time. 

Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to share your favourite small businesses in the comments so we can all help to support them too 🙂 do you have any other tips on how we can support small businesses? I’ll see you on Sunday for a super exciting post… my at home pamper routine! It’s perfect for a pick-me-up especially during this time, and I can’t wait to share it with you! 

-G x

Skincare Saviours

Hi, loves! I am such a huge lover of skincare, it’s my favourite part of my beauty routine and I really enjoy trying new brands and products. That being said, I definitely have my favourites that I come back to time and time again that I couldn’t imagine being without. I talked through my skincare routine in this post back in March and I still love and use all of those products! I have added some new products into my routine over the past few months, but I’ll save those to share with you in an updated skincare routine during the Autumn months. Today I’m talking about my must haves that I like to use randomly during the week, and that are also reserved for those crappy skin days when my regular routine just won’t cut it.

My skin is firmly in the ‘combination’ category; it’s super oily in my T Zone, especially during the Summer months, but I also have dry skin that needs lots of moisture and hydration. I seem to have eczema (or something similar) under my right eye that appears out of nowhere, it’s there right now and it drives me crazy! I am so strict with my skincare routine and I never miss a morning or night; it’s so therapeutic to me and I’m really happy with the products I’m using right now. I am however very intrigued by the new Pixi Vitamin C range and I’m planning on picking up some of those products next time I’m shopping, please let me know in the comments if you’ve tried anything yet and what you think so far!

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask
This is my absolute holy grail mask, and I’ve spoken about it A LOT on my blog! I use this once per week, usually on a Sunday evening, and my skin loves it. Matt almost always joins in with my little pamper evenings when I use this mask, because it just makes your skin look incredible. The ‘glow’ part is so true – my skin feels light and glowy, and my makeup always applies better the next day. As I mentioned in this post, I always apply with The Body Shop’s face mask brush which ensures it goes on evenly without clumping, and is not at all messy. It is slightly tingly when applied but that subsides pretty quickly, and although I leave the mask on for around 10 – 15 minutes (pretty much just until it hardens) it never leaves my skin red or puffy. I also swear by all of the sheet masks from The Body Shop as they always leave my skin looking and feeling great! When Matt and I are travelling I always pack a few sheet masks as they’re so travel friendly, and really quick to use! Also, they’re biodegradable and environmentally friendly, doesn’t it just feel good to be in David Attenborough’s good books?

Pixi Glow Tonic
It’s a cult product for a reason, right? A must have in my routine, a product I always travel with and one I recommend to anyone and everyone who will listen, but I have stopped using this every day. Shocking, right? I now use this roughly four to five times per week; I’ve experimented with using it when I felt like my skin ‘needed’ it, every day use, and eventually settled somewhere in-between that. I take this toner on a reusable cotton pad, wipe over my t-zone and take whatever is left on the rest of my face, then once my skin is dry I apply my serum(s), eye cream and moisturiser. I never use this during the morning but I always notice the following day how glowy my skin looks, it’s a genuine miracle worker. It has reduced hyper pigmentation and acne scarring on my cheeks and jaw line SO much, and I love how my makeup applies the next day. Also, I really feel like this isn’t talked about enough when it comes to Glow Tonic; but you MUST use SPF religiously if you use this product, especially during the Summer months.

The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion *gifted
This product hasn’t been in rotation in my routine very long, but oh my gosh I just love it! It was very kindly sent to me by The Body Shop and I’ve been using this exfoliator two to three times per week since I received it. This is another product Matt ‘borrows’ from me – he’s obsessed with this and how much it clears the blackheads from his nose! I don’t find it harsh on my skin as the exfoliating pieces are so fine and not abrasive, and it never leaves my sensitive skin red or feeling sore. My skin always looks and feels so much brighter in the evenings I use this, and it works very well on acne scarring and hyperpigmentation, it seems to fade/lighten the scars which is amazing. This exfoliator works so well on dry patches, and I know this will be a staple going into the Autumn and Winter months when my skin needs all the TLC it can get. It smells gorgeous and is such a treat to use in the evening, I really look forward to it. I always make sure to use a nourishing serum afterwards – my favourite is of course the Vitamin E Serum-in-Oil from The Body Shop – which helps to hydrate my skin.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
I bought this product for the first time way before I heard any hype about it, and I feel like it was one of the very rare times I was ahead of the ‘trend’! I ordered this on a whim back in 2016, and after trying so many products for persistent acne I have to admit I didn’t have high hopes. By this point I’d been prescribed various creams by the doctors and even they hadn’t worked, but I was still willing to give anything a shot. I applied this as I’d read online; dipping a cotton bud into the bottom of the bottle without shaking the mixture; and went to sleep. Fast forward to the following morning and the horrible under-the-skin spot that was taking over my chin had almost gone, I literally couldn’t believe it! I’ve always gotten on well with the formula, and I’ve re-purchased several bottles over the years. I only use this now when I have a particularly bad spot and it still works a treat. I apply onto a spot before bed (Matt’s a lucky guy!) and the next morning the spot is always way less red, reduced in size and less painful.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful, I loved sharing this with you because skincare is just my thing. When I was younger I definitely was more interested in makeup products, but the more I learn about skincare the more I love it! What are your skincare saviours that you reach for throughout the week or turn to when you’re having a bad skin day? Have you tried any of the products in this post?

-G x

Blogging Q&A

Hey, loves! A couple of weeks ago I reached out and asked on my Instagram stories if you had any blogging related questions you’d like me to answer. I was super scared nobody would ask questions (LOL) but I thankfully got quite a good response, although some people asked the same or similar questions which I’ve just mixed together. I love reading posts like this because as a blogger – and as an aspiring blogger before I created my own blog – I love to know other people’s behind-the-scenes! I talk a lot about my real life on here, and I’ve never been, nor will I ever be, one of those bloggers with an incredibly professional set up. I admire the beautiful photogenic blogs SO much, but it’s just not me. I take my photos on my iPhone X, I will never do a professional photo shoot for blog content (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my thing) and I’m happy in my own little world over here. So, let’s A some of your Q’s…

Why did you start writing your blog?
It was a dream I thought would never come true. I’d read blogs for so many years, and felt so connected and inspired by the people running them. Many of the girls I followed moved from blogging to vlogging and I felt like I knew them even more; I genuinely talk about Anna and Emma as if they’re my high school besties, which Matt finds hilarious! I loved the connection I felt as a reader, and I always hoped one day I’d find the courage to create my own. Fast forward four years of loving everything about blogs, and I’d poured my heart out to Matt about how I’d always thought one day I’d do it myself, but I just never had and now it was too late. Like the amazing man he is, he encouraged me to start right there and then, and I did. I bought my blog domain at the end of May 2018, and just began writing. I had NO IDEA what to expect, how any of it worked, or how it would be received, but I did it anyway. The day my first post went live (10th June, 2018) I was a nervous wreck in case people were mean. Matt and I went out for Sunday dinner at our favourite local pub and I could barely eat because I was so nervous. Over the past year I’ve found my routine, and now I love every aspect of running and owning my blog, I’m so proud of it!

What is your favourite thing about writing? / How do you make time to write?
It is very freeing, and it just feels good to get lost in my own little world. I think we spend SO MUCH TIME worrying about others, pleasing others and doing what others want to do, and it’s important to actually take a step back and be a little selfish sometimes. My number one priorites are always going to be my relationship, our family and friends and work, but when I can just sit and blog, I love to totally switch off from the world. When I’m writing I always get super comfy under a blanket, and usually have a cup of tea or hot chocolate. By ‘a cup’ I mean at least three, because I write for so long! I usually listen to podcasts, watch old YouTube vlogs (Jade Billington‘s are my favourite!) or play Your Favourite Coffeehouse playlist on Spotify although sometimes I just write in silence. I think making writing time an enjoyable experience makes it something I look forward to, and not something I stress about having to get done, even though I’m working to deadlines. Editing usually looks very different; I tend to do that whenever/wherever I can squeeze it in, often whilst we’re in the car or when I’m in the bath I’ll be proof-reading or editing on my phone.

How do you grow your audience?
I’m struggling a little to answer this, as although my blog is growing, it’s very slowly and steadily, not super quick. I think having a schedule and posting consistently is a huge factor in people coming back to my blog over and over, but I’m not really sure how people find my little corner of the internet. I find self-promoting my blog a little weird and awkward, so I try to only do that when it comes to new posts going live. I interact with other bloggers whose blogs I adore, and building those relationships is a great way to interest other people in your posts. I don’t have the most professional set up or look, but I think that can give my blog a cosy ~homey~ vibe, which hopefully people enjoy.

Do you ever get stuck for ideas?
Not really, because I plan my posts so far in advance! I don’t write my post there and then; I have the original idea so I’ll write my title, make any notes – usually this is points I want to make in the post, products I want to talk about, photo ideas etc and then I ‘schedule’ that for a date in a few weeks time and save the draft. Then, when it comes to writing the post, most of the ground work is done and I’m able to just start writing. I find it hard to make things concise though sometimes LOL, but it’s okay because I waffle on in real life just as much. The only posts I do write not long before they go live is my Feelin’ It Friday’s as they’re quick and about the week we’re currently in. I usually prep those on the Thursday night, then edit/update on Friday morning before it goes live.

Where do you get inspiration for your blog?
I get my inspiration from just whatever is going on in my life. If we’re going on a road trip, I want to share our essentials, if I’m really obsessed with a brand, I want to tell you the things I’d recommend most, if Matt and I are having a fun weekend, I take photos throughout the days and round it up for you. I also listen to comments I get, side note: people are always asking me to share dinner recipes so that post will be coming in a few weeks! I’m of course inspired by other bloggers and by YouTube content creators, and I think I’ve carved a path for my blog that means I can write about pretty much anything I want to. I never intended on sharing so much of Matt and I’s life, but I love doing it in the way I do; it’s like an extension of Instagram, where it’s real and honest, yet never staged or ‘for the blog’.

Do you feel guilty being sent products for free?
I’m not really sure how to answer this question because I don’t understand what there is to feel guilty about. Is it absolutely insane? YES. Is it surreal? YES. Is it amazing? YES. I wouldn’t say I feel ‘guilty’ because I truly put so much time and effort into my blog, which I don’t think is something that people outside of my close circle or the blogging world will realise. I only accept products that fit with me and my blog, as I’ve had some emails which just don’t work for me so I’ve politely declined. I’d never recommend something I wouldn’t purchase myself, and I’ll always be very honest if a product doesn’t work for me. My disclaimer is linked here, if you’d like a little more clarification. I truly am so grateful for every product I’ve been sent and every PR agency or brand that wants to work with me, it’s mind-blowing that my little blog is even capable of this!

Where do you see your blog in one years time?
My blog will be two years old by then, and I’m hoping it would have continued to grow with me, but I’ll definitely be creating the same kind of content. I really do want to become more comfortable in front of the camera, and Matt is always trying to encourage me to take photos when we’re out and about, which is making me slightly warm up to the idea. I know I’m not photogenic as it is, but then when I’m specifically ‘posing’ for a photo, I truly just go to pot HAHA. I would love to figure out my photography style a little more too, as I’m learning more and more about how I like to take photos and I’m hoping as a result my blog looks more streamlined and pretty.

Have you ever been recognised in public from your blog?
Haha, no I have not! I have had a weird moment in The Body Shop (I mean, where else?) where I was restocking on a few products and a girl who went to my school – she was a few years below me and we knew of each other, but didn’t know each other, if that makes sense – asked what I’d recommend she buy. She said she read my blog and purchased the Vitamin E Serum-in-Oil because of my review and loved it, which was seriously like an out of body experience.

Does blogging take up lots of your time?
Yes and no. It does take a lot of time and effort, but I try to set aside specific time to write, edit, take photos etc, so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. As I always try to plan ahead I don’t feel like it ‘takes up lots of time’ necessarily, because that time is specifically for blogging. I work a real 9-5 job, and blogging is my hobby so it’s something I like to do. Sometimes I really feel like I should spend an hour or two writing and editing during an evening, but I’m always going to opt for snuggling in with Matt to watch Netflix instead! I talked a lot about this in this post, and covered the ins and outs of how I find the time to blog here, too!

Do you feel weird about people you know in real life reading your blog?
I used to find it SO weird, but now I don’t really think about it too much. I know some people who know of me may read to pick flaws or to laugh at me (I had an experience with that when I first started out blogging) but I’m 25 years old, and not in high school. Although, my co-workers love to read on their lunch breaks and tell me as they’re reading, that is kinda weird haha. I know that people I know read it, and I’m truly very grateful for the views I get. I hope that people who like to read my blog tell their friends who will then tell their friends, that would be amazing! One thing I will always find strange is that I sometimes will talk about something on my blog – especially now in my Feelin’ It Friday posts – and people will see me and say things like “did you and Matt love that movie you went to see last weekend?!” or “I seen you were at Wagamama’s again!” The weirdest thing is when someone tells me they’ve bought something because of what I said about it. I never imagined that but I’ve had so many messages from people telling me!

Thank you so much for reading, and if you asked a question thank you SO much, I hope I answered it well enough! I hope you feel like you know me a little more as a blogger, I really try to be so open and honest with everything I post. Fellow bloggers, how do you feel about this platform? Do you relate to anything I’ve said? I’d love to do more Q&A style posts, and I’m hoping to maybe rope Matt into taking part in a little post on the blog… we’ll see!

-G x

Seven Beauty Products I Use Every Day

Hi, loves! I’m a creature of habit when it comes to pretty much every aspect of my life – I love routine, I love plans and I love using tried and tested great products. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy trying new products and finding new things I like, but as I’ve got a little older I have less of a want to buy, buy, buy without lots of research and consideration. When I was 19 I bought my very own Soleil Tan de Chanel after seeing SO many beauty bloggers and vloggers rave about it, and I’ve never disliked a makeup product more. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the product, I just didn’t and still don’t have the skills to apply a cream bronzer to look good on my face, and it was also way too dark for my skin tone. This should have been a valuable lesson (literally) as it cost around £40.00, which was a lot of money to me back then in my first ‘real’ job where I made barely nothing. I mean, it’s still a lot of money now and I have a much better job!

It took me years and years of buying the must-have product of the moment, but I’ve finally learned my lesson, and I only buy now if I’m confident I’ll love the product. I know what I like, and I’m always drawn to the same tones, colours and finishes when it comes to makeup. When Matt and I go shopping I would always rather spend more time looking at beauty products than clothes as I really don’t buy many clothes, but I’ve cut back on purchasing beauty products so much! I very rarely pick things up on a whim now, and try to do a lot of research before I buy from reading blogs, watching YouTube videos and reading website reviews. I use so many products on a regular basis, but I thought it would be fun to choose seven truly loved products that I couldn’t imagine getting ready (or unready) without! I’m sure they’re all very familiar to you, but that’s how you know I really love them, right?

Morroccanoil Treatment Light
I am obsessed with using oils on my hair (and face and body!) but this one is my absolute number one. I recently changed to the light treatment instead of the regular and it truly is a miracle worker on my hair. I apply a teeny tiny amount to wet hair after I wash it, and then I work a small amount through the ends of my hair on the in-between days before styling. It smells incredible and I’d really love to try more products from the Morroccanoil range, I know so many salons – including mine – recommend their products!

MAC Turquatic Rollerball
As I wrote about in this post, this perfume lives in my bag and comes in so handy for travelling and typical day-to-day life! I switch up my perfumes depending on the day or where we’re going (although of course Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede and Lancome La Vie East Belle are my ultimate luxury favourites!) but this I reach for every single day. I use it to top up whichever perfume I applied that morning at least once per day, and the smell makes me so. dang. happy. Matt loves this perfume on me which is so cute, it’s such a feel good scent and although I think it’s marketed for Summer due to the citrus notes I wear it all year round.

Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Concealer in 1N
I discovered this product towards the end of last year, and it first featured on my blog in this post, yet I’ve spoken about it so many times since. I bought it on recommendation from Allie Glines after she talked about how much she loved it, and I’ve repurchased a few times, I can’t imagine using another product under my eyes! It doesn’t crease, it lasts throughout the day (I always set with my Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder) and it looks great in photos.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve shared this product on my blog, but when you really love something you want to share it with others, right?! No matter what lipstick or lip gloss I’m wearing, I always apply this first, which is probably why I go through them so quickly. I first purchased this product around four or five years ago, when it became *the* beauty product on YouTube and I’ve not looked back since; I’ve tried so many ‘dupes’ and nothing works as well as this. The formula is so creamy but it applies easily and lasts for such a long time, and it is a perfect base for any peach, pink or nude lip product, which is pretty much all I wear!

L’Occitane Cherry Blossom Hand Cream
I have one of these hand creams in my bag at all times, and one in my nightstand drawer because I just need to have it on hand at all times. ON HAND, lol. Get it? I definitely do use multiple hand creams – The Body Shop and Sanctuary Spa also make great ones that are a little less expensive – but this is just a luxurious product I love so much. First of all, it smells amazing and the smell lingers around on your hands for so long, but the formula is not sticky or tacky and sinks in right away. I use hand cream religiously during the colder months because if I didn’t my hands would be ridiculously dry, but I’m getting better at using it when it’s not cold too. I’m really trying so hard to use hand cream after every time I wash my hands, because since I stopped getting gel manicures my hands need all the love they can get!

The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter
The. Best. Cleanser. Ever. Hands down. I use all of the products in my skincare routine every day, but I just had to include his gem! I’ve used this for such a long time, and although I use other products in rotation, over the past few months this is really all I’ve reached for. I truly look forward to taking my makeup off with this cleanser every single night because it’s so relaxing and makes my skin feel great. It’s lightly fragranced but smells amazing, almost spa-like, and it’s a very relaxing way to begin my evening skincare routine. I apply this directly onto my face to break down makeup, then add a little water to create a milky consistency that breaks down any extra makeup a little more. I remove with a muslin cloth or flannel, and depending how much makeup I’ve worn that day/night I sometimes repeat, although I very rarely need to.

Carmex Watermelon Lip Balm
Lip balm is a beauty obsession for me, it’s one product I truly can’t have enough of and boy do I love trying out new ones. To be fair, Matt steals my lip balm all the time, and even when he doesn’t he wears it by default from how much I kiss him, haha. I use so many lip balms, but I really love Carmex and I reach for several throughout the day, depending on where I am as I have them stashed everywhere! I picked this watermelon scented lip balm up a few weeks ago and I really love the scent of it, it’s just perfect for the Summer months.

Thank you so much for reading! Could you have guessed some of these products? Do you use anything I mentioned in this post? What are your tried and tested must-have products you use every day?

-G x

Feelin’ It Friday

Happy, happy Friday loves! Okay so I said in my last #feelinitfriday I probably wouldn’t be writing to you this morning… but here we are! This is the last post I’m actually writing before Matt and I go on holiday (three days and counting guys, we can barely wait!) and I just really wanted to post, I’m going to miss writing so much! Today’s post is kinda short and sweet, but it’s the thought that counts… right?

What I’m thinking about:
How good the new Aladdin movie was! I know we’re super late to the party but Matt and I went for date night at the movies last weekend and it was so. dang. good. I already had pretty high expectations because I’m a Disney movie fanatic (who isn’t?), but it was literally so funny and beautifully made. We laughed so much, and Will Smith was definitely the best addition to an already great cast, it was like the Genie role was made for him! If you haven’t seen it yet I’d highly recommend, Matt even enjoyed it and he wasn’t excited haha. Of course we ate all the popcorn and drank Tango ice blasts, that’s just the best part of going to the movies, right?! We’re also obsessed with Prince Ali by Will Smith and keep randomly breaking out into song, lol!

What I’ve been up to this week:
A whole lot of prepping for our holiday, spending quality time with Matt and running errands! It’s been a busy week at work, and I’ve also had the added stress of trying to make sure as many things as possible are done before I go on holiday. I used to get super stressed out about work stuff when I was away but now I really try to switch off best I can. Last night Matt was out with the boys for a few hours (I wrote some of this post before I went to pick him up, little insider knowledge for you there!) and I spent just over an hour catching up on Jade Billington‘s Disney vlogs, she’s a little ray of sunshine and I absolutely love her! Jade and her husband Matt are the sweetest, if you like Disney vlogs and real LOL’s check her channel out!

What I’m missing:
My mum and dad! They’re away on holiday right now, and come back after Matt and I leave for our holiday, so we’re not seeing them for almost three weeks. It’s such a long time, and although they’re literally never off the phone to us (LOL) we have missed them so much. We’ll have SO much to catch up on when Matt and I get home, though!

What I’m loving:
These beautiful highlighting drops from L’Oreal! I’m talking about them lots more in an upcoming post so I’m not going to say too much right now, but just know they are incredible. I’m so excited to take them on holiday, they give the most perfect lit-from-within glow, and will definitely be a staple for me each night in Croatia! I have the shade Champagne, which you can grab here, and they’re under £10.00, that’s a steal.

What I’m up to this weekend:
Erm… A LOT. We’re having a super chilled evening just cooking at home and watching Brooklyn 99 tonight, then Matt is unfortunately at work tomorrow. We get a relaxing morning together, then I really need to finish up on my pre-holiday blog post writing, editing and photo taking so that’s my number one priority. I also need to pack my suitcase – Matt’s is all done! – get caught up on pre-holiday laundry (#adulting) and run a few last minute errands. When Matt comes home on Saturday evening we’re treating ourselves to a Chinese takeaway (and maybe a few glasses of wine) then we’re driving to Manchester on Sunday morning! We’re flying from MCR and decided to travel down a day early to alleviate a little of the stress, although I’m kinda freaking out about the thunderstorm warning across the UK. Ignore me, I stress about everything! We just travelled down a few weeks ago, but this time it’s super exciting because of our holiday! We’re having a date night out in MCR too, so it feels like our holiday actually starts on Sunday 🙂

What I’m buying:
Books! I’ve purchased a few for our holiday, and I’m hoping to buy at least one more in the airport because that’s just an airport tradition, I love dashing into WH Smith to grab a new holiday read. There’s so many books that look amazing right now I’m a little spoilt for choice, Summer reading is my absolute favourite! If you’re wondering, I’m taking How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne, One True Loves and After I Do by Taylor Jenkins-Reid. If you’ve read a good book lately please let me know so I can pick it up in the airport! (Side note: I seen on Anna‘s stories she was thinking of creating an online book club… I HOPE this happens. I feel like such a little grandma because I really love reading so much, and I’d love to be part of a book club! LOL!)

What else is new:
I’ve been looking back at all of our Kos photos and videos from last year over the past week, I’m just SO excited to be in holiday mode. I posted the one above on my Instagram last night and it just makes me feel all the feels, y’know? 🙂 I love that we get up super early, then spend our day eating, drinking cocktails, laying around the pool, reading our books, walking along the beach, enjoying the scenery. We just literally live in our own little bubble and soak up all of the quality time together (and the sun). It’s the best feeling not having to worry about ‘real life’ stuff for a whole week! I’m linking our photo diary from Kos here if you missed it, it’s packed with fun memories for us! Also, we know we’re so lucky to go on holiday and enjoy time off from work, we truly never take it for granted and really appreciate every day so much. I can’t wait to share our Croatia trip with you all in a few weeks!

Okay, so that wraps up my last blog post for over a week… 😦 I’m kinda sad! I am so used to writing, editing, taking photos etc throughout the week it’s just become part of my day-to-day life that I actually really look forward to, for the most part. Everything will still look the same on the blog as like I mentioned I have pre-planned posts for the next two weeks, so you don’t need to worry! If you’re wanting to keep up with what we’re up to *spoiler: it will be lots of pretty cocktails, boomerangs of the sea and cute snaps of my love…* follow me over on Instagram.

-G x

Meal Planning: The How’s And Why’s

Hi, loves!

Meal planning is a huge part of Matt and I’s week, and it’s something we now do every week without fail. I love routine, I love organisation and I love being able to do things in a quick and effective way. Matt isn’t as fussed, but what we’re having for dinner each night is something I had always made the decisions on, because Matt is super indecisive! Now, through changing our habits and meal planning, this makes it a joint decision for both of us. I’ve mentioned meal planning many times on the blog, and been asked lots of times for recipe ideas and why we do it. I’d love to share a week’s worth of dinner recipe ideas, so that will definitely be up in the blog in the next month or so. Today I’m focusing on the how’s and why’s of meal planning for us, and asking some of the questions I see popping up over and over again. Is it actually beneficial to our lives? Should you be doing it? What does it even mean?

What is meal planning?
It’s pretty self explanatory, but meal planning is literally to plan – usually for the week ahead – the meals you (and your partner/family) will be eating. Some people do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however Matt and I only really focus on breakfast for Matt (I generally eat at work), dinner for both of us with leftovers for lunch the following day and healthy snacks/desserts. I’m not really a baker at all, but I made this banana bread last week before I picked Matt up from a night out with the boys and it was so good! Also, no bake desserts are great, and they’re super quick and easy when your evenings are busy.

How do you do it?
On a Sunday, Matt and I sit down for twenty minutes to talk about what we want to make the following week, and plan our shopping list(s). We look at Matt’s shifts as this has an impact on what we make; on the days he works until 9pm I make dinner ready for him coming home, so we tend to go for meals that go in the oven and can be timed perfectly (for example, cod and roasted vegetables or a good ol’ pasta bake). I make a list in the Notes app on my phone of what meal we’ll make each evening, writing underneath all of the ingredients required to make the meal. I don’t include items like sauces or spices which we use in every meal as we already have those, although if I had to re-purchase something during my shop that week then I’d write them down too. Miscellaneous items like almond milk, protein bars and bread are bought every week, so I keep a generic shopping list I buy from too. I love that I can tick off the lists as I go through my shop, and have even started writing in the order that I’d walk around the shop, that’s dedication LOL. I grocery shop twice per week, sometimes a third time if we’ve ran out of anything, and I can get round the store in fifteen minutes or less every time.

Does it save you money and/or time?
YES. As we plan ahead and have a shopping list, I literally buy to the shopping list. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sneaky bag of Haribo or Cadbury’s buttons will find their way into the trolley – I’ve no idea how – but most of the time I stick to our list. I tend to do almost all of our grocery shopping as it just works easier that way, and I enjoy buying based on a list as it saves so much time. It also cuts out any extra deliberations in store where I ring Matt and say “is X okay for dinner tonight? What do you fancy for tomorrow?” I also have the flexibility to go to more than one supermarket when I can, as I know what I need to get and we prefer certain items from certain places. Aldi and Lidl are great for freshly baked bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and they also have great deals on pasta, spices and yoghurts. When it comes to chicken and meat, we always buy from Asda as I feel you get more for your money there, and we buy specific branded things like rice, almond milk, frozen goodies, and sauces there too. To be honest, I generally do most of our shopping at Asda as it’s nearby work, but I should get better at buying from various stores. However if we’re ever having a cheat night and eating rubbish, we love the Taste The Difference flatbread pizzas from Sainsbury’s (with a tub of Halo Top or Alpro ice cream thrown in, obviously)!

How do you get your ideas for recipes?
This has built up over a long time of trial and error of trying out new foods, as we now have our own little (mental) portfolio of go-to meals we love. We don’t eat much red meat and it’s something we’re actively trying to cut down on, and we generally favour chicken or fish dishes if we’re not eating vegetarian. When we’re not cooking a tried and tested favourite and want to try something new, I firstly look through our three favourite cookbooks. Our go-to’s are Pinch Of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, A Year Of Beautiful Eating by Madeleine Shaw and Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape by Gino D’Acampo. Whether we follow the exact ingredients and method, or take inspiration to create something else I can almost always find something that looks good. If nothing was to take our fancy from those cookbooks we’d then look online at BBC Good Food, Pinterest, Tesco Real Food and of course, social media.

Do you find it easy?
I really do, and I would advise anyone who is thinking about giving it a go, to just try it. It took us a long time to start cooking with fresh ingredients, and we were regulars at M&S Food Hall for their dine in for two offer (we ate those almost every night!) for our first year of being together, but now that’s definitely a treat and something we do on the nights we really have no time. We didn’t know how to cook at all prior to last Summer, so we’re self taught (well, with the help of Matt’s lovely mum). I hear people say all the time “I don’t know how to cook” but honestly you just have to give it a whirl and practice lots, it gets easier and now we love every aspect of it. After we got the methods down, it took us a little time to tweak how we do things each week, but after a little trial and error it works perfectly for us. We’ve also been eating way healthier since we took meal planning seriously, as it’s developed a new interest in creating new meals, and we’re forever trying new things. I’m very interested in eating more vegetarian meals, and Matt’s on board to try whatever I want to try too, which is great! We’re thinking of eating vegetarian only for a week, pretty much just to see if we can do it, and if we do I’ll definitely share my thoughts on it with you on the blog.

Does it work every week?
Yes, for us it really does. We look at the week ahead, so if we’re heading out for date night on Friday we know we don’t need to buy anything for that night, or if we have plans with friends on the Saturday we’ll more than likely grab something when we’re out. If Matt’s out for the evening with the boys I also take great pleasure in having a kid’s tea before I go pick him up (Quorn crispy nuggets, Strong Roots spinach bites and a whole lot of this amazing BBQ sauce, if you’re interested) and those are the kinds of food we always make sure to have in the freezer, and I replace without fail on an almost weekly basis (especially those spinach bites, we literally eat them with almost every meal HA). The best part of meal planning is that it works around your life and your schedule, and it’s very flexible as a result. You could definitely just do one shop per week but we buy so many fresh vegetables and fruit it means by the end of the week items are out of date or just not as good as they should be, so I’d rather not waste food and just go to the supermarket two or three times per week.

I hope this post was informative and helped in some way! I love seeing what people eat for dinner, and what must-have recipe they recommend to others. I can’t wait to share with you a week’s worth of dinners for Matt and I. If you’re wanting to get a start on meal planning, I’d really recommend the three cookbooks photographed/linked in this post! Do you meal plan? Do you have any extra tips that may help me or my readers?!

-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 Have A Better Night’s Sleep

Happy Sunday, loves!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! Yesterday Matt and I had such a fun date day. We went for brunch at the cutest cafe called Post Box in Ponteland, I had the best veggie breakfast I’ve ever had! We spent the rest of the day doing a little grocery shopping, football watching and cleaning out Matt’s wardrobe Marie Kondo style. (I’m OBSESSED with her new Netflix show! Have you watched it?!) Today Matt’s unfortunately back at work, so although we got a mini lie-in this morning, I’m home alone until 5pm! I am however hoping to declutter ALL of my skincare/makeup and maybe a few more clothes, and have dinner ready for Matt coming home… productive Sunday’s are my thing! What are you up to this weekend?

I think during the Winter months more than ever, I appreciate every single second I get to spend snuggled in bed! Matt and I have been lucky enough to squeeze in lots of early nights recently, and we have our evening routine perfected to suit us. Today I’m sharing with you a few things that have been helping Matt and I to have the best night’s sleep.

Unwind during the evening. From the minute Matt and I arrive home from work, we spend the evening relaxing and unwinding. Even if sometimes we have to take a few minutes to send that last email or complain to one another about a bad day at work, we then switch off from the work day and allow ourselves time to relax and enjoy being together. We don’t spend much time on our phones during the evening other than to reply to a few texts or post the odd photo to our Instagram story (guilty), but we really try to be fully present with each other. I am obsessed with scented candles, and Matt has finally agreed they make everything feel ten times more cosy! I love nothing more than lighting a few candles, turning on my Himalayan pink salt lamp and snuggling up with him under our huge Costco blankets (they’re hands down the best thing you can buy this Winter and they’re so inexpensive!) watching a movie.

Eat good food. One of the best feelings in the world is snuggling up in bed next to your loved one when you both have a full belly. It’s something I’ve often took for granted but I realise just how lucky I am for this to be my every day reality! Matt and I love to cook and although we have a few favourite go-to recipes, we’re currently trying new ones out and often making things up as we go along. Coming in from the cold to make a warming, filling meal after a long day is, in my opinion, the perfect way to begin the evening. One of our favourite things to make recently is a vegetable chilli, I can’t wait to share some recipes with you over the next few weeks. I’m also very into drinking hot chocolate at the moment and I love to make one before bed!

Read or listen to a podcast. I find that whenever I do either of these things I feel so calm and relaxed. Reading blogs is my favourite pastime day or night, and I’m forever playing catch up on my favourites. I love losing myself in a good book (this year I’ve challenged myself to read 20 books). I might be a little too confident. I love to read in the bath especially, and then curled up in my dressing gown post-bath. When Matt’s on a late finish (meaning he’s not home until after 9pm) I read for at least an hour, and wonder where the time has gone! I’ve also really got into podcasts over the past six months – Small Town Murder is forever my favourite – and I find they help me unwind too. It’s different to watching YouTube or Netflix, as I don’t have to concentrate as much, and I can also listen whilst doing other things, such as planning my week, changing our sheets or cleaning.

Invest in good quality pillows, duvet and bedding. I’m a sucker for a good smushy pillow and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I picked up some new ones just before Christmas, they are SO. COMFY. Matt and I are such cuddly sleepers (anyone else remembering that Friends episode where Rachel is a cuddly sleeper and Ross isn’t, well I promise we both are HAHA) that we generally snuggle in to go to sleep and after a few minutes we’re flat out! Soft, hotel-like pillows are my jam, and Matt thankfully loves them too. If you’re in the market for new ones, Dunelm have some great options for really affordable prices that you can feel in store, I’d highly recommend checking them out!

Take time for my skincare routine. Is it just me that feels SO incredibly good after spending a tad longer than usual carrying out my skincare routine? From cleansing to toning to moisturising, it just makes me feel relaxed and refreshed, and TBH, ready to snuggle up in bed! I love to use super moisturising products and oils at night time, as my skin always thanks me for it when morning rolls around. I can’t wait to share my current skincare favourites with you, my routine will be up on the blog next month!

Use pillow mist. I love the smell of essential oils, and I got a sample size of This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray in a Look Fantastic monthly subscription box at the end of 2018. I’ve used this product in the past and honestly forgot all about it, but now I quite enjoy spraying it on our pillows before we go to sleep. Matt thought it would make no difference, but we’re sleeping better than ever, and waking up so much easier after a good night’s sleep, so it must be doing something right. The smell of essential oils is so calming and relaxing, and although it’s quite an extravagant product it’s such a fun one to use – maybe you could pick it up if you have a little Christmas money left over? I’m definitely going to invest in the full size once this is gone.

Have a relaxing bath. I could happily spend half my life in the bath! Tbh, I probably do. I love nothing more than settling in with a glass filled with Diet Coke and lots of ice and letting the minutes (cough hours cough) tick by. I shared my favourite bath products back in December which you can check out here, but any products that make you feel relaxed and pampered will do just the trick. I find that if I’ve had a bad day I tend to stress my whole drive home, then the second I’m preparing my bath I can literally feel any stresses or worries easing off. This also means by the time Matt gets home from work (most days I’m home first) I’m relaxed and feeling much happier, and we’re able to enjoy our night together. Using all my favourite pamper products will almost definitely make for a better sleep too, all products from Jo Malone or Sanctuary Spa are heaven to me!

Take ten minutes for a yoga sesh. Yoga? Again? SORRY I can’t stop! I’m more into it then ever, it makes me happy, relaxed and sometimes, quite sleepy. You can spend just a few minutes or an hour winding down, it’s totally up to you. Evenings where I can’t really be bothered to take time for yoga usually end up being my favourite sessions, I always feel like a weight’s been lifted when I’m finished. There are so many yoga practices you can find on YouTube or on apps if you don’t have your own 10 minute unwinding routine. This is my favourite routine for nights I just need a little more relaxation.

Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of these tips helpful? What do you do to ensure you have a good nights sleep? I can’t wait for Matt to come home tonight so we can fall asle-zzzzzzz

-G x