Realising The Importance Of Unwinding

Happy Sunday, loves! Self care is something that is discussed in great detail, but it’s often linked directly to beauty treatments and pampering yourself. That’s not to say I don’t love a pamper night because – let’s be real, I DO! – and that’s something I make sure to incorporate into my life at least once per week, but I think there’s so many other ways you can hit that self care button and relax at the same time.

We live in a world where we’re so connected via iMessage and social media, and it’s really become difficult to let ourselves and our minds unwind. Most of us spend at least forty hours per week at work, and during that time our minds can be so wired and frantic with everything we need to get done we don’t allow ourselves time to stop. My blog is something I do in my ‘free’ time, but as I talked about in my October goals post, I was losing the barrier between ‘free’ time and any time I wasn’t at work. I felt like I needed to be constantly working on my blog whether it was writing posts, taking photos, editing photos, reading other blogs, trawling social media or just brainstorming ideas and it became so hard to let my mind escape and just enjoy being at home. I’ve been feeling extremely anxious over the past few months and it’s something I’m really struggling with right now. As a result, I’ve been trying to find all of the things that make me feel less anxious and focus on those, rather than trying to identify why I feel anxious in the first place!

Something Matt and I have prioritized more and more recently is unwinding each evening/weekend we aren’t at work. I often take a little time whilst he’s at work (either early morning, after I get home during the week or whilst he’s in on a weekend) to do all of my blog work, and I’m feeling way happier and less stressed out by giving myself some ‘me’ time back. I made a promise to both Matt and myself a long time ago that I’d not work on my blog whilst we were having chill time at home, and it’s really important to me that I stick to that.

I’m such a homebody at heart but Matt would often rather be out; we compromise on this by usually spending a little more time at home during the week, and a little more time out of the house doing fun things at the weekend. Being a homebody means I relish in all things cosy; candles, fuzzy blankets, comfy pj’s and dressing gowns are up there with my all time favourite items ever, and I just love every opportunity Matt and I get for a cosy night at home. Also, you don’t need to have a ton of time to enjoy the cosiness of being at home; often by the time we get home from work, cook and eat dinner, shower/bathe etc it could easily be 8pm! It’s about being intentional with the time you do have, and being able to roll your to-do list over to the next day.

Here’s a few little things I suggest doing at least a few times per week to help you unwind, relax and enjoy being at home.

Clean your space. I can’t really explain how or why, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people will agree with me on this one: when my space is clean, I feel happier. This is the same for my home and my car; I just need my environment to be welcoming and as clutter free as possible. I pick up our room several times per week which takes all of five minutes in the mornings, then I fully deep clean once per week. Putting on fresh sheets, hanging clothes away, vacuuming, dusting etc just makes the whole room feel more cosy and inviting, and it always makes me feel a small sense of accomplishment. We’re big believers in the fact a bedroom needs to be a happy, comforting space; it’s so important to allow yourself to fully rest at home!

Light a candle. Okay so I’m sure so many of you will already know this, but I’m obsessed with candles. Obsessed. I love love love the cosy pumpkin scents for Fall right now, and I’m genuinely concerned at how often I think about purchasing another. Ha! I feel so calm and at peace with candles burning and our pink Himalayan rock salt lamp on; it gives our bedroom the most beautiful warm pink glow and makes my heart happy.

Put down your phone. One of the best things you can do to unwind from work, friends, peers, a bad day etc is to just put down your phone. Leave it charging in another room or preferably another floor of the house and be in the moment. Matt and I always try to do this when we’re out for dinner too; so many times on date night you’ll see the couple more interested in their phones than each other. Other than maybe taking a quick snap of our food we don’t put the focus on our phones. We’re really working on not having our phones in bed at all; every night we were brushing our teeth, getting cosy in bed, then sitting on our phones for at least ten minutes just scrolling through our socials. It’s gross how attached we all our to our phones; as much as I love technology, I sometimes really despise it too!

Listen to music or a podcast. Our Amazon Echo Dots are some of our most favourite ever items we own, and we make use of them every single day! We sleep with Alexa Sleep Sounds on every night (we alternate between Matt’s favourite, ocean sounds, and my favourite, thunderstorm sounds) and it’s truly made a difference to how we sleep. We sometimes play music whilst we tidy up or get ready in the mornings, and it’s just a fun way to occupy ourselves that doesn’t involve being on our phones. I also listen to podcasts almost every time I’m driving (it’s either a podcast or Disney music, there’s no in-between!) and I find them such a fun addition to my day.

Head for a breakfast/dinner date. Going for breakfast is hands down one of Matt and I’s favourite hobbies. Breakfast food is our favourite, it’s generally way less crowded, and we still have the whole rest of our day to get a bunch of things done. We also love dinner dates because getting dressed up together, having a few glasses of wine and making the most of date night is such a treat to us! I think it’s so important to take time for food dates with your partner, your friends and your family – both Matt and I’s families love to go out for meals and it’s something I really am grateful for.

Take a hot bath. The ultimate self care treat for me personally is a hot bubble bath. Pile in your favourite Lush products, light an aromatherapy candle and allow yourself to disconnect from the world for thirty minutes at least an hour. A bubble bath can seriously make up for any crap work day, and you’ll never regret taking time out of your day for that. I’ll be sharing my favourite self care Sunday pamper routine on the blog in a few weeks!

Snuggle up with a cup of tea and your book. Ah, a book and a cuppa… that is my idea of bliss. If we’re having a lazy weekend morning in bed Matt likes to watch various football shows on Amazon Prime (he’s currently watching Sergio Ramos documentary which is all in Spanish… I mean…) and I’m so happy to curl up with my iPad and read before we get ready for the day. I also am a huge fan of sleepy time teas before bed; they really do make you feel a little more relaxed and ready for sleep, and reading a book is a great way to unwind before bed. Matt is not a reader at all which hurts my heart a little bit, but I just keep telling hime he hasn’t found the right books yet!

Watch your favourite shows. Is there anything better than snuggling up with your love and watching the series you’re both invested in? No, there is not! Matt and I often watch several shows at a time, and then incorporate the odd movie or documentary into that too. Strictly Come Dancing is my thing, so by default Matt is often stuck watching it too. He is a huge football fan, so that’s his vice and another thing we watch SO much. We love comedy shows; Brooklyn 99 was our favourite, we’ve seen Friends one hundred times and right now The Office is our ‘easy watch’ obsession. We love love love documentaries (Stacey Dooley’s are a personal favourite, obvs) and shows like Ambulance: Australia make us very happy. We change things up pretty much every evening, but it’s such a nice time to chill and chat with each other too.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this post helpful and maybe it’s inspired you to unwind a little more this coming week. Do you make unwinding a priority right now? Or are you always go go go, ticking things off that to-do list? I challenge you this week to take at least an hour each night for yourself or you and your partner, it will totally change your week I promise you!

-G x

Feelin’ It Friday

Hi my little lovebugs! Happy FRIDAY! I’m so pumped that it’s October on Tuesday, even if I can’t quite believe it. This year has gone so. freaking. fast. (like, too fast. I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing but I’m not dwelling on it! I just want to enjoy the last few months of 2019 and start fresh in January). October, November and December are my favourite months of the year; it’s Autumn, the build up to Christmas begins, our Sky planner is filled with great TV shows, Matt and I are eating all of the fun foods and the activities this time of year are our favourite! We have so many fun plans for Autumn which I shared with you in my bucket list this past Sunday, I just can’t wait to get stuck in!

What I’m loving:
I have been enjoying so many Lush baths! I posted a little haul a few weeks ago (you can catch that post here if you missed it) and I’ve been so enjoying trying out new products and re-discovering old favourites! Lord Of Misrule will always be my favourite Halloween bath bomb, it’s just so perfect to me. I’m also really enjoying the Pumpkin Spice lip scrub each evening. Have you guys picked anything up from the Halloween range yet?! The Christmas range just came out this week – literally three months before Christmas Day – and I’m already swooning over it all. But I want to enjoy the Halloween collections for a little while so I’ll not be buying anything until at least the end of October. Famous last words.

What I’m thinking about:
I truly cannot believe the response I got to Wednesday’s post. I had butterflies I was so nervous about uploading it, but after getting Matt and my mum to proof-read it (several times) I felt a tiny bit better. I wrote the post because I was truly so inspired by the Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out documentary, and also because I thought sharing my story might help others to feel better about their story too. I received so many sweet messages and I just want to say thank you SO much to everyone that took the time to share their thoughts with me! Some of my oldest dearest friends even messaged saying they were moved by it and had no idea how I’d felt when I was younger or even now; opening up is so important and body struggles is one of those things so many of us (sadly) have experience with. You can read it here if you missed it, please message me if you have any questions or would like to share your story too!

What I’m happy about:
FALL!!! Guys, it’s officially the best season of the year and after banging on about it for maybe the past two months it’s finally here! It’s been dark, rainy and cold the past week here in the North East and I can’t lie, I’ve loved every second of it. Matt and I have spent our mornings before work snuggled, drinking cups of tea in bed, and we’ve been enjoying the beginning of Autumn recipes creeping back into our lives. Hearty soups, pasta bakes and pie & mash are on the menu this week, it’s just making me feel so happy! Tonight I’m making this recipe – how good does beer cheese chilli sound?! Matt’s at work until 9pm and I know he’ll be so happy to come home to this! 

What I’m reading:
I’ve finally started reading Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and so far I am LOVING it. I’ve only read around 40 pages as life has been busy this week, but I’m excited to read a little more tonight whilst having a nice hot bath! I don’t have too many books left in my ‘to read’ pile right now, please let me know if there’s any you’ve read recently that I should pick up? I’ve heard Cathy Glass books are very good, have any of you read her books? Which should I get first?!

What’s different on the blog:
I changed my upload times again! You may have noticed my Sunday posts are back to 12pm and Wednesday posts are now going up at 8am instead of 6pm. I changed the Wednesday post timings because I seriously get so many views early in the day when my Friday posts go live. Speaking of which… I’m sad to say that my Feelin’ It Friday’s are going to be posted once per month, on the last Friday of the month, for the foreseeable future. When I first started these posts back in June I wasn’t sure how it would work; I thought it would be maybe one a month (if that) if people enjoyed them but they became a weekly thing. I am just feeling a little bit anxious and stressed out right now, and I really don’t want to put up sub-standard posts. Instead I’m putting more of my energy into my Sunday and Wednesday posts, and really trying to be a little more creative in those. I hope you guys understand!

What I’m watching:
Strictly Come Dancing! I’m SO HAPPY it’s back, and I really love so many of the contestants this year. I’m rooting for Chris (obviously), Saffron, Dev, Catherine and Kelvin. So basically half of the celebs, hahaha. I really hope they all do well, and I know we’re only one episode in but it seems like there’s so many good dancers in this year! I didn’t get to watch on Saturday night as Matt and I were out for dinner with his family (spoiler: a Weekend In My Life from this past weekend will be up on Sunday!) but I loved catching up on Sunday evening. Matt and I are going out for dinner with my family this Saturday for my dads birthday – we’re so excited! – but we’ll definitely catch up when we get home. My prediction right now is that Kelvin will win, but I’m still rooting for Chris the most! We’ve also been watching Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over (if you’re new here, hi. I’m obsessed with Stacey Dooley 🙂 also, welcome!) and it is SO interesting. The people she’s been meeting are all a little crazy in their own way and it’s just very good TV. I really recommend you catch up if you haven’t already watched! I also wish Stacey would come sleep at our house, I’d be in my literal element.

What I’m burning:
I’ve officially broken out all of my favourite Autumn candles! Matt and I LOVE the cosy pumpkin scents, the comforting apple baking scents and the fresh leaves-just-fallen-on-the-ground-after-a-heavy-rainfall scents. I know, I’m so good at describing scents, LOL. I really think Autumnal candles are the best to burn when we’re snuggled in for the evening watching Netflix and eating dinner. If someone asked you to describe exactly what Autumn smells like… this candle is it. 

What I’m baking:
Guys. I don’t know what is wrong with me but all I can think about is baking some delicious treats! This is SO not like me because, Snapple fact: baking is not my strong point. I cannot bake to save my life. Seriously, I can cook actually really well *toots own horn* but baking? It’s just so. dang. hard. for me. Matt’s at work on Saturday until mid-afternoon so I’m going to bake brownies and maybe cookies too before he arrives home, and I also ordered some pumpkin pie spice and cans of pumpkin to be able to make these pumpkin chocolate chip muffins next weekend! Seriously, how good do they look?! Mix And Match Mama recipes never fail me, Shay always makes the most delicous food so I know they’ll be incredible. I hope by the time Matt comes home from work he’ll be met with a delicious home baked treat! Or, I’ll nip to Tesco and buy something. 🙂 it’s the thought that counts, right?!

What I really want (but am not buying):
I can’t stop thinking about this kinda ugly but still cute sweater!! Something you may not know about me is that I LOVE the movie E.T. I used to be seriously obsessed with it when I was a kid and watched it all. the. time. My mum also loves the movie, and the E.T. ride at Universal is our favourite! I think this sweater would be perfect for when Matt and I have cosy-at-home days this Fall/Winter, and I’d probably size up to a Medium for a super cosy fit. I really do need more comfy clothes; pj’s, sweats and loungewear is an area I’m really lacking in my wardrobe, especially after my last wardrobe declutter. Maybe I’ll treat myself in a few weeks if it’s still on my radar!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, I truly appreciate you reading SO much. What’s been going on in your life the past few weeks? Have you read or wrote any fun blog posts I should read? Please comment below with the links! Also, don’t forget to leave me all the book recommendations 🙂

-G x

A Mini Lush Haul ft. The Halloween Collection

Hi, loves! Lush is one of my favourite ever brands, and I’m kinda obsessed with them and everything they do for the beauty world. I definitely buy way more products during the Autumn/Winter months because I love the themed products, and I take way more baths during this time of year. Bath bombs and bubble bars are my favourite treats, and Matt secretly loves a Lush bath too. Well, I guess not so secretly now, hah! I am so impressed by this year’s Halloween collection, they brought back some favourites and introduced new products that made my heart happy. I also had held on to a gift card from my lovely co-workers to spend this time of year, so I kinda went a little crazy picking things up. Almost everything I got was from the Halloween collection, but I did pick up a tried and tested favourite and a product I LOVE but didn’t realise was now part of the main collection!

Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar | £4.95
This is a Halloween product I buy every year, and despite how much I hate the glitter on this (it goes EVERYWHERE) it’s such a fun bubble bar! I break it into four pieces to get four baths out of it; your money goes much further with the bubble bars compared to one use products like the bath bomb. This turns your bath the most beautiful orange colour and smells gorgeous. Also, thankfully the glitter doesn’t stick to your body once you get out of the bath!

Lord Of Misrule Bath Bomb | £4.50
I love love love this bath bomb so much that I picked up two, and I’m already planning to pick up more. It has popping candy in it! Another product I buy every year, and stock up on once they begin to phase out the Halloween products, this is just a dream. This bath bomb turns your bath the most amazing dark colour perfect for Halloween; the green and pink mix together to make a dark purple and there’s glitter throughout, but not the kind of glitter that sticks to you. Your bath sparkles and shimmers and it’s a bath you’ll seriously never want to get out of. Matt and I always buy my mum this bath bomb as part of her birthday present (her actual birthday is on Halloween!)

Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub | £6.50
I was so excited about this, and trust me, it did NOT disappoint! I didn’t even smell this in the store, I just picked up one and put it straight in my basket. If you know, you know. This is the perfect pumpkin spice scent; it’s got hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, and of course pumpkin, which is just lovely to use. I really have to stop myself from licking it off my lips each time I use it! Matt’s a big fan of this too; Lush’s lip scrubs are amazing at getting rid of dead skin and allowing your lip balm to fully do its job. I always use this in the evenings, and I’ve started to use it most mornings too as it makes my lip product for that day apply so much better. This lip scrub is a must have for the colder Fall weather!

Mercury Retrograde Bath Bomb | £4.95
This is – I believe? – new for 2019, and although I haven’t yet tried it I’m so excited to. It smells citrus-y yet cinnamon-y (great descriptions, I know #blogger) all at the same time, which is two scents I wouldn’t have previously put together, but it somehow works. I’m so interested to see what colour this will turn my bath as it has orange, green and purple in it, as well as little black

Punkin Pumpkin Bath Bomb | £4.95
A pumpkin bath bomb that smells like pumpkins? I AM IN. Like, that’s my idea of heaven. This is a delight; it’s aesthetically pleasing – hello, prop for all Autumn themed blog photos – smells incredible and makes for a wonderful bath time treat. I’m so excited to try this one out, and I think I’ll mix it with a little of the Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar for all the Halloween feels. Also, the description on the website for this made my day, it’s a parody of This Is Halloween! Snapple fact: I know all of the words to that song – doesn’t everyone? – and sing it to Matt probably five times per day around this time of year. He loves hates it. 🙂

Sleepy Body Lotion | £9.00
Pretty much every time I shop in Lush I re-stock on this lotion, I just love it! This is my everyday go-to evening moisturiser, and it just works SO well. The only other moisturisers I’ve reached for over the past few months is this in-shower moisturiser if I’m having a super lazy moment or this amazing cream for a pamper night. Lush’s Sleepy body lotion genuinely works to relax your body and mind before going to bed; it’s calming and the lavender smell is so beautiful. I’ve said this before on my blog; I’m not the biggest fan of lavender but this scent is amazing. When Matt has had a super long day at work (he’s on his feet all day long) he loves a foot massage with this, too! He’s spoilt, haha. The smallest amount goes such a long way, and it’s a product I genuinely look forward to using each evening.

So White Bath Bomb | £3.95
Okay so this baby was the curveball. I was SO HAPPY to find out this bath bomb is now available all year round! So White has been one of my favourite Christmas bath bombs for years, one that I stock up on each holiday season, and one that is now part of the main collection?! I don’t know when it happened and I’m probably super late to the party, but it’s seriously one of the best ever! Sticking with the Snow White theme, it smells like apples and rose, and is truly one of the most relaxing, comforting scents. It turns your bath milky white (although it used to turn it green, I think? I’m pretty sure it had green and pink inside a few years ago!) I only picked up one but Matt and I both love this one, next time we’re in store we’ll definitely be getting a few more to add to our collection!

Thank you so much for reading! Did you get a little inspiration to immediately run to your nearest Lush store?! What is your favourite item from the Halloween collection? What’s your favourite Lush item ever?! I think my favourite from the Halloween collection would have to be the Lord Of Misrule bath bomb, but favourite Lush product ever? The jury is still out on that one! Also… the lovely guy at Lush Gateshead, who seems to be the one who always serves me, gave me a little sneak peek at some of the Christmas products and guys. You are going to be blown away! They come out on September 25th, a whole three months before Christmas, so you can bet I’ll be including them in a little haul on the blog in the next few weeks.

-G x

Pack With Me: Overnight Trip

Happy, happy Sunday loves!

As this post goes live, we will be on our way to enjoy a staycation at one of our favourite hotels, Hotel du Vin at Newcastle Quayside. It’s a birthday treat for Matthew as he turns 25 tomorrow, and we’re making the most of it! We’re planning on doing very little; maybe a chilled walk along the Quayside, a bubble bath, dinner, drinks, and a whole lot of relaxing with yours truly. What more could he want, eh?!

Packing is my thing and I love reading packing related blog posts or watching ‘pack with me’ videos on YouTube, some of these incredible people fit enough clothes for three weeks in a carry on suitcase! Mind = blown. I am borderline obsessed with the whole process and find it so exciting, as soon as we have a trip booked I find myself beginning to plan my outfits, search through my stash of travel sized minis and find the Insta-worthy hotspots usually reserved for the locals. As much as I enjoy that kind of packing, there’s something real nice about heading for a staycation, less than thirty minutes from home. You already know the best places to go! Driving means no luggage restrictions! Full sized beauty products! The ability to pop home if you forget your favourite shoes… Also, it means I don’t have to hide Matt’s birthday presents as I can easily sneak them in the boot.

Really, the chances of me forgetting something on a staycation trip are pretty slim, as I tend to go with the ‘if you might need it, take it’ method of packing when there’s no weight restriction. Slippers? Our favourite blanket? Ski goggles? You name it, I’ve probably packed it. I feel I’m being a tad hard on myself as I’ve definitely honed it down from previous trips, but I’m still not the most minimalistic or streamlined packer, and for a one or two night trip close to home, I’m okay with that. Also, the best thing about travelling anywhere with your boyfriend? He takes literally the essentials. (By ‘he’ I mean me, because of course I end up packing for him HAHA). I’m sure all girls have read between the lines here and know where I’m going with this… extra space for our stuff, YAY!

*I’ve linked all of the items you can still purchase to save you having to find them!*

The Beauty Bits

My favourite part of packing is always my skincare, makeup and toiletries. As I mentioned above, I do love a travel sized mini, but there is something a little bit special about being able to take your old faithfuls without having to find a mini or decant them. Although I often take full sized beauty products on staycation trips, or really anywhere we travel to by car, I tend to take less products overall, and just take the things I actually need. Sort of. I definitely minimize my skincare and makeup routine, and don’t take all of the extra ‘just incase’ bits I usually keep in my skincare stash. I’m so happy with my daily skincare routine so I’m definitely taking all my must-haves for morning and night, even though it may seem like a lot to some. I talked about my current skincare routine in this post so please check that out if you’d like to know my thoughts on the products pictured, in more detail!

I also try to pack as little as possible in the category of ‘body care’ (I feel like there needs to be an actual name for this stuff?!) because A) it’s just a one night trip and I won’t be doing a full on pamper sesh and B) Hotel du Vin have Ren products in all of their rooms anyway, which is an amazing cruelty free brand that I love. Matt and I always share whichever shampoo and conditioner I pack, and we’ll use one of our own mini Molton Brown shower gels, then I need my shaving products, moisturiser and hair products to style my hair before I blow dry it. We very rarely use the mini toiletries provided in the room when we’re there as I (not so) secretly love to take them for future trips that may not provide them. That’s why they’re there, right?!

If this is your first time reading my blog you may not know that my aim for 2019 is to go fully cruelty free on my beauty products. I’m already there on my everyday skincare and makeup items, but body care is proving a little more tricky – I’m yet to find a razor that works as well as my beloved Gillette Swirl, and any other shaving gel apart from Gillette leaves my skin dry and/or irritated. I wanted so badly to love the Lush D’Fluff as it smelled glorious, but it really wasn’t right for my skin, and never gave me a close enough shave. My beloved Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a must-have, I use this almost every day and I love it; it reminds me of so many wonderful memories.

Skincare: Glossier Milky Oil / Boots Botanics Micellar Water / Cotton Rounds / Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser / Pixi Glow Tonic / The Body Shop Serum-in-Oil / The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Bouncy Eye Mask / Neals’ Yard Remedies Yarrow & Comfrey Moisturiser / Glossier Balm Dot Com / Facetheory Eye Cream / Facetheory SuperGel Moisturiser

Makeup: The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer / Colourpop X Zoella Eyeshadow Palette / Urban Decay Naked Petite Heat Palette / Too Faced Better Than Sex & Diamonds Mascara / It Cosmetics CC+ Cream Matte in Fair / Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Concealer / Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Concealer in 2 / Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder / Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer / Charlotte Tilbury Cheek To Chic Blush in First Love / Colourpop Highlighter in Flexitarian / Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk / Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in The Duchess / NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu / Minimal amount of makeup brushes & my beauty blender

Hair & Body Care: Ren Oat & Bay Shampoo (mini) / Love Beauty & Planet Magic Masque / Lush R&B Hair Moisturiser / Soap & Glory The Rushower Dry Shampoo / Tangle Teezer Brush / Straighteners / Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt / Dove Deodorant / Lush Sleepy Moisturiser / Gillette Shaving Gel (mini) / Gillette Swirl Razor / Molton Brown Shower Gel (mini) / Contact Lenses / Medication

Clothing & Accessories

I love planning my outfits in general, and I find this the easiest category to pack for, even though I do like to have some kind of option, just in case. I’ll use the same bag both day and night – my Kate Spade crossbody is my go-to – and my trusty Vans will go with any day time outfit. I tend to be pretty hard on just taking one evening outfit for an overnight stay, as I know exactly what we’ll be doing – in this case, dinner at The Botanist and drinks on Grey St – but packing for the next day is a little trickier. We know our morning consists of Matt opening his presents (I’m so excited for that!) and us going for breakfast, but then we have the whole day to explore our favourite city and spend time with family, which is what birthdays are for.

I keep it minimal with my jewellery day-to-day, and I’ll be wearing my good ol’ faithfuls. My Missoma initial G necklace and mis-matched star and moon studs, my Pandora bracelet and various rings, and the rest of my earrings are silver, purchased from various stores. I very rarely change up my earrings as I love how they look, although it’s something I really want be more adventurous with this Spring/Summer! I’m also determined to try hoop earrings and to love them, other girls look SO good wearing hoops.

The weather is still very odd right now up North as we’re finally moving into Spring. Some days it’s warm, sunny and bright, and others it’s dark, rainy and freezing cold. This is my justification for taking two day outfit options, if you hadn’t already guessed what was coming. Also, we don’t take pyjamas as we never sleep in them, and we know from experience that Hotel du Vin robes are the bomb. I love to wear my hotel robe whilst I get ready for the evening and the following morning, so other than my two three outfits, there’s nothing else I need here! Except for a few spare pairs of pants and an extra bralette that I know I won’t wear. I can’t help it, it’s the overpacker in me. (Side note: VS thongs are the only underwear I buy, but I’m always looking for new options, and more sustainable brands would be great – if you have any tried and trusted recommendations please let me know in the comments!)

Evening: Underwear / Zara Animal Print Skirt / Black Camisole (similar) / Heeled Teal Boots / Kate Spade Crossbody
(YAY for ‘no bra’ outfits! #freethenipple)

Day: Underwear & Bra / Black Leather Jacket / Scarf / Black Old Skool Vans / Kate Spade Crossbody
Option 1 – Colourblock Jumper / Topshop Black Jamie Jeans
Option 2 – Black V Neck T-Shirt / Topshop Blue Jamie Jeans

The Bits I Actually Need (And Definitely Do Not Need But Will Take Anyway)

Like I said, I’m not perfect when it comes to packing (or anything, ha) and I knowingly pack more than I need. I always make sure to pack our phone chargers and also squeeze in snacks for the room because we love to have our home comforts for the evening. We’ve got our favourite sweets to snack on, and we’ll also have a box of our favourite donuts thanks to the amazing guys at Proven Goods Co. Matt won’t know this until we get there, and I’m so excited to surprise him! The only thing better than birthday cake is birthday donuts, right?! We always make sure to take a few bottles of water and cans of Diet Coke to stick in the fridge in the room, because we’re cheap and can’t justify paying the mini bar prices LOL. For special staycation trips like this one, we like to take a bottle of champagne, because that’s half the fun of the amazing roll top bath, right?! Also, it’s my love’s birthday, and if he wants champagne then that’s what he’ll get!

We’ll be throwing an extra coat in the car and I’ve already packed an umbrella ‘just incase’ but with good reason; in Newcastle it’s not uncommon to experience every weather possible in the space of 24 hours! Ironically, I’ll definitely be taking my sunglasses as the optimist in me will be praying for a sunny day so we can take a nice morning walk along the Quayside; it’s one of our favourite places in Newcastle and it’s just so beautiful.

We’d never take our iPads or laptops on an overnight trip like this as we absolutely will not need them, so there’s no need to worry about fitting those in to our luggage. I would normally take a book with me, but I know I’ll have no time to read so I wouldn’t bother lugging it around. (Even though this makes me a little sad as I’m obsessed with my current book, Make Or Break by Catherine Bennetto, it’s the eighth book I’ve read so far this year and I hate putting it down!) I do always throw a tote bag into our luggage no matter where we’re going as they take up no space and come in so handy for tons of reasons. I mean, how else would I take all the miniature Ren toiletries home? I have to add, Poo Pourri comes in so handy on trips, I bought it originally as a joke when Matt and I went on our first weekend away together, but it’s actually a great idea (and still funny). Also, I think it’s a brilliant ‘gag gift’ for someone who’d laugh about it! Now, if only I could get him to use it at home…

I’m SO excited to relax and spoil my favourite person in the world, he deserves it so much. I hope you liked having a peek inside my suitcase, and if you haven’t already, you can check out my previous packing-related posts here and here. They’re the kind of posts you can come back to at any point for a little extra inspiration or motivation to pack! I’ll definitely be writing an updated What’s In My Carry On post when we go on our Summer holiday to Croatia later in the year, and we have a few city breaks in the pipeline too, I’m so excited to share more travel-related content.

What are your must-have items to pack for an overnight stay? Are you way more minimalist than me? I bet you are. Also, HOW do you do it? Please leave me all the tips and tricks in the comments, it would be very much appreciated! Thank you so much for reading!

-G x


My Cruelty Free Skincare Routine

Hi, loves!

I’m so excited to share my updated skincare routine with you because I’ve finally found a routine that works for me. My last skincare routine was posted way back in July, but I have switched things up a lot since then. I’ve been really intrigued to try more natural, organic skincare brands and products, and I’m so happy with everything I’m currently using. My skin type is combination but leans more towards the oily side, I get dry patches under my eyes from time to time, and for the past few years I’ve been prone to breakouts and redness. I have acne scarring on my cheeks and jaw dating back to when I was a teenager, but it has improved SO much over the past six months.

You may have seen from previous blog posts that I’ve committed to only buy from cruelty free brands going forward, and my skincare routine is fully cruelty free. My everyday makeup routine is almost there too, although right now I’m using up products that I had already bought but will not be re-purchasing. I really am so happy with my skincare products, and my skin is really good right now. *prays to the skin Gods that it stays that way after making such a statement* I switched my contraceptive around June 2018, and I think that has also had a huge impact – girls, if you’re on the pill and suffer with acne, change it up! I’d recommend speaking to your doctor to see what will be the best option for you, but I really think this needs to be discussed more openly.

I’ve stripped back my skincare routine a lot, and I no longer feel the need to try out hundreds of products, constantly buying the next must-have item. I used to be such a skincare junkie, and as much as I like to admire dreamy Instagram #shelfies and other bloggers’ or vloggers’ skincare routines from afar, I just don’t have the interest (or room in my budget) to continuously try out new products. There are however a few brands I’d love to explore more – Sukin, Facetheory and Neal’s Yard Remedies I’m looking at you! – over the coming months as and when I finish current products. Also, I probably do a few steps in the ‘wrong’ order, but that’s okay!

MORNING ROUTINE

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser – I flipping love this cleanser. Sukin are a 100% natural and organic brand, this is the first product I’ve tried from them and I can’t wait to try more in time. This cleanser is the perfect way to prepare my face for my skincare routine and makeup, and I’m trying to use this every morning and every night. This foams up slightly but it isn’t irritating and never leaves my skin feeling dry or tight. I apply one pump to a wet face (either in the shower or over the sink), and massage in for a few minutes. I use Facetheory exfoliating muslin cloths every other evening and they’re great at exfoliating without being too harsh. The cleanser smells very spa-like, due to the natural ingredients, and it’s a perfect pick-me-up in the mornings or evenings.

Pixi Glow Tonic – I don’t use this every morning, it totally depends on how my skin is that specific day; if my skin is clear and not aggravated I stay. away. However, if I have a breakout, or my skin is a little red (this often happens the day after I’ve used a face mask) then I apply a little across my face with a cotton round. I often use this in the evenings too, again depending on how my skin is on that day. This is the only toner I have re-purchased several times, and I really don’t think any other toner I’ve tried compares to this. It is a cult favourite, but for good reason! In my opinion it’s 100% worth the hype.

Facetheory Radiant Eye Cream – I’ve been using this eye cream since just before Christmas as this product was my first foray into the brand, and it’s one of my absolute favourite skincare products. I actually stumbled across this brand as it was featured in an Instagram post, and at the time I’d never heard of it, but I’m so glad I found it! I use the smallest amount for both eyes (a pea-sized amount as the pros would say), I’ve been using this every day for almost three months now and there’s heaps left. This eye cream is lightweight and my makeup applies so nicely on top, which is an added bonus as lots of inexpensive eye creams I’ve tried tended to ball up under makeup.

Facetheory Super Gel Moisturiser – I’ve only been using this for around four to five weeks, as I purchased it when my moisturiser (La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo) ran out. I almost bent my purchasing cruelty-free products only rule to re-purchase Effaclar Duo as I really think it helped my skin SO much. However, as I loved the Facetheory eye cream I decided to try out their moisturiser for oily skin and I love it. My skin generally doesn’t react well to new products so I was prepared for a few crappy skin days/weeks, but that never happened which was pretty impressive. It’s a lightweight formula and sinks into my skin within a few minutes, making the perfect base for foundation. As I mentioned, it hasn’t broke me out at all, and I think my skin has been less oilier throughout the day over the past few weeks. One thing to warn you if you’d like to purchase; as it’s a gel formula it’s such a thin liquid (almost serum-like) it went everywhere the first time I used it!

Dr Paw Paw Multi Purpose Balm / Glossier Balm Dot Com – these two are level at the top spot in my never-ending crusade to find the perfect lip balm. (I have a problem, guys!) Both products work so well under lip liner or lipstick to protect and soothe my lips, and any regular readers will know I carry a balm dot com lip balm in every bag!

Shop my AM skincare (all prices RRP)
Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser – £7.95
Facetheory Exfoliating Muslin Cloths (3 pack) – £4.99
Pixi Glow Tonic – £18
Facetheory Radiant Eye Cream – £15.99
Facetheory Super Gel Moisturiser – £12.99
Dr Paw Paw Multi Purpose Balm – £6.95

Glossier Balm Dot Com (Original) – £10.00

EVENING ROUTINE

Botanics Hydration Burst Micellar Water / Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser / The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter – I change this up day to day, and generally use whichever product I fancy on that day. If I’m having a pamper night I will always go for a good wash-at-the-sink makeup remover, but if I’m feeling tired or just super lazy it’s going to be micellar water on cotton rounds (I buy these organic ones). I tend to go through stages with my cleansers, as some weeks I love the Glossier one and other weeks I reach for my cleansing butter from The Body Shop every night. All three of these are so gentle on my skin and never cause me to break out! Very occasionally I reach for makeup wipes (Burt’s Bee’s Micellar Cleansing Towelettes are the ones I buy, made from repurposed cotton) but I know everyone thinks that’s the cardinal skincare sin! I’m currently trying out Glossier’s new micellar water too, and so far I really love it – as with everything from Glossier it’s simple and effective, and it hasn’t made my skin break out which is always a bonus.

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser – see above.

Pixi Glow Tonic – see above.

The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Bouncy Eye Mask – so, you may have heard me talk about this before… LOL. I’ve declared my love for this product 101 times on my blog, but it’s really that good. This eye cream is so moisturising, does not irritate my sensitive under-eye area, and it’s damn good for the recurring dry patches that keeps appearing under my right eye. Each morning my under-eye area still feels moisturised, which I’ve never found from an overnight eye cream before. The texture is so different than anything I’ve used before, and it always feels cool when applied to my skin. If you’re looking for a new night eye cream, look no further. You can thank me later!

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 / The Body Shop Vitamin E Eye Serum-in-Oil – I change my serums up based on my skin that day; if my skin is feeling a little dry or irritated I reach for the Hyaluronic Acid, and if it’s pretty normal I reach for the Vitamin E, although more often than not I use both. I do have various serums from The Ordinary that I used to alternate between, but I really see no benefit in piling them all on my face and I very rarely reach for anything else. When my current Hyaluronic Acid serum runs out I think I’ll repurchase Glossier Super Bounce as I feel that did a little more for my skin, but The Ordinary one is such a great budget friendly option.

Neal’s Yard Remedies Yarrow & Comfrey Moisturiser – this is the best overnight moisturiser I’ve ever used, and I totally found it by accident. This was the first skincare product I’ve bought from Neal’s Yard Remedies and the bar is set so high for future purchases. It’s made with natural ingredients, so it feels and smells like I’ve been transported to the most beautiful spa every night. When morning rolls around, my skin still feels and looks moisturised, and plump in the best way! Yarrow, one of the main ingredients, is great for helping oily skin as it controls sebum production, and it also helps to reduce acne scarring. As I mentioned above, I had horrendous acne scarring on my cheeks/jaw which has improved so much, I wish I had a before and after picture! This moisturiser isn’t sticky, it never breaks me out, and I’m really seeing the benefits of less oil production. This is truly a holy grail product for me and I know I’ll be repurchasing for years to come, with no need to try out alternatives. Also, Matt keeps telling me every morning and night how good my skin looks, and you know a product is working miracles when your boyfriend notices!

Glossier Balm Dot Com – during the Winter months I tend to need a thicker, heavier lip balm overnight, but as we’ve had such mild weather my favourite Glossier balm is doing the trick. Matt uses this too, and we absolutely love it! I really would like to try out the Evolve Lip Treat at some point, though.

Shop my PM skincare (all prices RRP)
Botanics Hydration Burst Micellar Water – £6.99
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser – £15.00
The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter – £10.00
Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser – £7.95
Pixi Glow Tonic – £18.00

The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Bouncy Eye Mask – £18.00
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – £5.90
The Body Shop Vitamin E Serum-in-Oil – £16.00
Neal’s Yard Remedies Yarrow & Comfrey Moisturiser – £22.00
Glossier Balm Dot Com – £10.00

THE EXTRAS

Face masks – I’m the biggest advocate of face masks, I just love them. Throwing a face mask on is self care, okay?! Sheet masks are the no-fuss way to do it, and my favourites were from the Garnier Moisture range but I’m unable to purchase those now as Garnier are not cruelty free. I’m hoping and praying Garnier will change their processes in 2019! However, a few cruelty free sheet masks I love and have re-purchased several times are Burt’s Bees Hydrating, Sanctuary Spa Charcoal Bubble and Starskin Pink Clay Purifying, they all work so well for my skin and help to settle my skin without causing breakouts. My favourite face masks are the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, Lush Mask Of Magnaminty (Self-Preserving) and Lush Rosy Cheeks. The one aspect of skincare I can get Matt excited about is face masks, we love to do them together and try to make time to as often as we can – it’s my favourite part of our Sunday evenings!

Jade roller – if you don’t have one of these, get on it! I treated myself to this one from Amazon to cheer myself up when I was having a crappy week, as I’d been debating on buying one for a long time. It works fine but it is clearly cheaply made and I’m hoping to purchase this one from Herbivore in the near future. Face rollers are a firm favourite in many people’s beauty routines, and it’s easy to see why. My face is often a little puffy in the morning, especially around my eyes, and this magic tool fixes that in an instant. I don’t use this every day as it honestly depends on *how much time I have (*basically, I spend too much time snoozing my alarm and snuggling my boyfriend), but I always make sure to use it when I can. I use this in the evening most nights after applying my serum, and I really love to roll my face after using a face mask.

Spot treatment – I always reach for Mario Badescu Drying Lotion if I have any active breakouts, and I swear by this product. I apply using a cotton bud, and dab onto the affected area. (I buy cotton buds from Sainsbury’s, which are the most affordable organic ones I can find, but they come in plastic packaging which drives me crazy!) This product is genuinely a miracle worker, by morning my spots are gone or at least well on their way to healing, and the redness around the area is non-existant. I wish I knew about this product when I suffered with terrible acne! I’ve been meaning to purchase the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patches for so long as they’re apparently incredible, so I really need to do that. I hope Glossier’s Zit Stick will be available in the UK soon too – I literally check on the daily – as I’ve heard SO many good things about that product (although reviews are mixed online).

Drinking more water, eating less dairy and eating more veggies. It’s not groundbreaking information that what we put into our bodies has a huge effect on how it looks on the outside. I’ve always found it so difficult to drink lots of water, but recently I’ve upped my game and drink way more than I used to. Matt and I cook dinner together every night and we always pile the vegetables into our recipes, and try to participate in meatless Monday most weeks. I think eating cleaner in general (less meat, little dairy) has had a huge impact on my skin; since I stopped drinking cow’s milk I noticed a huge decrease in the amount of breakouts I was having. Matt and I are never going to give up our late night McFlurry runs, but it’s all about balance right?! Of course, just because this helped me does not necessarily mean it would work for you, but I’d definitely encourage you to switch up things in your diet and see what works best for your skin/body.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite skincare products? Do you have any you go back to over and over again?

-G x