My Weekly Pamper Routine: At Home Spa Night

*This post contains gifted items*

Happy Sunday, loves! Is anyone else trying to take all the extra self care time they can right now? ME TOO! I know that self care is certainly not all about beauty; there are so many elements that create a good self care routine, but it’s very personal. For me, a good beauty routine is a huge part of how I feel good about myself and keep myself feeling happy and rested, which is more important than ever right now. I find so much joy in spending an hour or two each week indulging in a little pamper sesh, and I can’t recommend it enough! In fact, take this post as a little kick-up-the-bum reminder that you should must enjoy a pamper evening tonight 🙂

Of course, you don’t need to use any of the products I’m talking about to have your own pamper evening! I’m just using what I have especially after splurging on Caroline Hirons’ Spring Kit! I’m now on a No Buy for the foreseeable but it was so worth it. More on that soon!

I sometimes go to get my nails done as a little treat, but honestly I’m not all that fussed about it. I love how gel nails look and I like to get them done for a special occasion or when Matt and I go on holiday but it’s not something I get joy out of spending my money on, y’know? As it doesn’t matter too much to me, I see very little point in painting my nails at home. The polish chips so easily and I don’t have the patience to sit still long enough for it to dry in the first place! But, painting my toes is a different story… I paint my toes year round and change up my polish almost every week; my go-to brand is Essie. I especially love their gel polishes, they really don’t chip (although, does nail polish ever chip on your toes?) I also think it’s so nice to have your toes painted when you’re wearing sandals, and we’re thankfully so close to sandal season!

A bubble bath is my ultimate self care treat. I love to light a candle – I’ve recently been burning Coast from Our Lovely Goods and The Ritual of Sakura candle from Rituals – whenever Matt or I take a bath. We have just used a whole Rituals candle up and are about to start burning my backup; I love these candles so freaking much! Rituals of Sakura smells like cherry blossom and vanilla, and it’s the most perfect spa-like scent. Mixed with the scent from my Dr Teal’s Soothe & Sleep Foaming Bath and Radox Sleep Aromatherapy Bath Salts, I feel like I could be IN a spa. All that’s missing is the gross cucumber water that everyone pretends to enjoy! LOL.

I grab my Kindle, a Diet Coke and I’m set for a while, this is literally my idea of heaven. #introvertlife Anyone who knows me knows I really dislike body hair (on me. This is a no judgement zone!) so during a pamper evening I like to REALLY exfoliate before shaving! Not just using my shower gel, I bring out the big guns… my beloved Spa Of The World Brazilian Cupacu Scrub-In-Oil from The Body Shop. This scrub is incredible, it leaves my skin silky smooth and smells like Summer to me. I also like to do a hair mask, and really make the most of the fact I’m spending at least an hour in the tub. I’ve been loving Garnier’s Coconut & Macadamia Hair Mask for a while now – I wrote a whole post about this which you can check out here if you missed it.

My favourite ‘I don’t have much time but want to spend a little self care time’ task is applying a face mask. If you don’t have time for a whole pamper evening you can apply on and still go about your day. Perks of not being able to leave the house, eh?! You can be productive, you can feel the magic working, and they immediately make your skin look better. I really enjoy a sheet mask – any/all of these from The Body Shop are my absolute favourites, and they’re biodegradable – for ease. They feel so cooling on the skin, are quick to clean up and just make my face a little happier. My favourite ever face mask, that I’ve re-purchased so many times I honestly can’t remember, is the Mediterranean Almond Milk With Oats Instant Soothing Mask, also from The Body Shop. It’s delightful! Whether my skin is breaking out, stressed, red, dehydrated, just looks a bit sh*t, this makes it SO much better. I also adore the smell of this, it’s very subtle but feels so comforting!

Of course, my skincare routine is a perfect little snippet of self care time every day. Since I can remember, I have set time aside every morning and night to do my skincare routine! I love to try new things (that I know will not irritate my skin; fragrance free, suitable for sensitive and acne prone skin etc) here and there, too. I have a very fun skincare related post going up in the next week or so, then at the end of the month I’ll be sharing my everyday skincare routine. I feel like skincare is one of those things you love or you don’t, and I really flipping love it. It’s up there with my favourite things to talk about, ha!

I’m pretty proud to say that after EVERY shower and EVERY bath I moisturise my body. That’s commitment, guys! I have super dry skin (that somehow seems to get worse when it’s warmer, not when it’s cold? Anyone else?!) and last year I promised myself I was going to be better at moisturising. It always seemed like such a chore but honestly, it’s really not. Once you get into the routine of it, it’s something you look forward to, and it takes two minutes! At least three times per week, I dry brush from my toes up to my neck. I love how this makes my skin feel and it’s actually a really enjoyable beauty ‘task’. I get carried away and spend so long dry brushing because it’s incredibly relaxing; you can literally feel your skin tingle! On a pamper evening I love to moisturise with The Ritual of Jing body cream from Rituals; this was so kindly gifted to me and I definitely will be repurchasing. This is a spa in a pot; it’s luxurious, it sinks in so nicely, and it’s the perfect pick-me-up product that just makes you feel good. Matt always compliments me when I use this too, he loves the smell!

Are you just desperate to break out your favourite face mask and jump in the bath right now?! Me too! I’m very happy that today is Sunday, because Sunday just screams pamper day doesn’t it! It’s like I planned this post like that… 😉 what’s your favourite pamper products to use that just make you feel good? How do you like to treat yourself at home?

-G x

Ten Things I No Longer Buy | Minimalism

Happy Sunday, my loves! Something I’ve realised over the past year or so is that I actually really enjoy having less. Let me just be super clear and say that I am NOT a minimalist. My skincare bag for an overnight trip is probably more items than some people would pick up in an entire year, but that’s okay! 

*I wrote the majority of this post before all of the social distancing / self isolating / quarantining began, but this could definitely be helpful to people at this time! If you’re struggling in any way with what’s happening my heart is with you, please know you’re not alone. We will get through this together! You can check out my last post for some self care inspiration that is probably very much needed at this time.*

I have learned to live a little more minimally in a way that makes sense to me, and I’m really finding comfort in that. When I have too much stuff I don’t get enough use or wear out of what I have, I find it difficult to make choices and the physical clutter somehow clutters my brain too! I also have found I’ve saved so much money by stopping buying the things I talk about in this post; even a few pounds here and there mounts up so quickly and I really think twice about what I spend my money on nowadays. *Obviously there are no right or wrong answers! I do not judge anyone who still buys any of these things, that’s totally okay. This post is just for fun!*  

  1. Cheap jewellery

I LOVE jewellery, and I wear a bunch of staple pieces every single day. I have two pairs of earrings that I pretty much never switch up (and four other ear piercings I can’t even change myself!), I wear the same one or two necklaces every day, I have three rings I never take off and I always wear my Pandora bracelet and watch. All of those pieces are pretty minimal in themselves and neutral; every piece goes with every clothing item I wear and I really don’t feel the need to have hundreds of jewellery options when I get dressed in the morning. Jewellery is one of my favourite ways to accessorize an outfit, and I think it’s really important to invest in good pieces that will last a lifetime! My favourite jewellery brands are Missoma, Daniel Wellington and Pandora as they have tons of options and many are classic, timeless items. The only thing I think I’m missing in my jewellery staples is maybe a pair of silver hoops and a silver choker (I LOVE this one) so maybe I’ll purchase those in time. 

  1. Flowers

I really adore fresh flowers, and I got into a habit where I was picking up a bunch almost every week whilst grocery shopping. They brighten up Matt and I’s space so much, they’re so pretty to look at and (when needed) they can be a great photo prop for my blog. However, buying flowers that frequently is not only an unnecessary expense it’s also kind of a waste of money and definitely not an ‘essential’, especially on a weekly basis! I love being gifted flowers (sometimes Matt treats me to a beautiful bunch which is the sweetest!) and that’s so much more special than just buying them every week for no particular reason.

  1. Excess beauty products

Beauty has been my thing since before I can remember. I used to borrow steal my mum’s makeup, perfume and skincare when I was younger and began to hoard any beauty products I could get my hands on (like, starting with Lip Smackers lip balms!) from a young age. As I moved into my teens, I started experimenting with new products and brands, and found so much joy in buying all the products I could. This carried on to my early twenties but over the past year or so I’ve really started to find joy in the simplicity of a (somewhat) simple routine. I love to use the same products day-to-day, and also have a few extras that I use for pamper evenings which makes them feel even more special! My skin reacts SO easily to new products and sometimes I would wish I’d never tried X, Y or Z. Finding products that I really love and only trying new things on a necessity basis (like if I unexpectedly react to something I use, which can happen no matter how long you’ve used a product, or running out of a current product) has made much more sense to me, and my bank account definitely prefers it too!

  1. ‘Trendy’ clothing pieces

I stopped purchasing fast fashion items for the most part over a long time ago, as I really didn’t see why I should carry on purchasing stuff I didn’t need. The fast fashion impact on our economy and the environment was really brought home to me by Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary (a MUST watch!) and ever since I’ve been much more intentional with my clothing purchases. I do still buy from high street stores now and then but I purchase SO much less clothing than ever before, and when I do buy I really try to purchase items that are made with good – or at least ‘better’ – quality fabrics, minimal patterns and things that I’ll wear for years to come. This takes a little bit of time to find what works best for you, but it’s so worth thinking about and changing how you purchase! 

  1. Manicures/pedicures

I know many girls who adore getting their nails done and honestly I love having mine done too, but it’s just not a huge priority for me at this time in life. It’s a lot of money to justify getting my nails done every two weeks, and I’m really trying to save money to put towards things that are more important to me, like travelling and date nights! It’s something that I like to do for a treat here and there throughout the year so I tend to save getting my nails done only for special occasions like birthdays, trips or holidays. I generally paint my own toe nails (especially in the Summer when I’m wearing sandals all the time!) and I actually really enjoy the process of doing that too.

  1. Bottled water

I stopped purchasing small bottles of water (well let’s be real, usually it was Diet Coke) a few years back as it’s just SO terrible for the environment and generally not necessary. Of course there are exceptions; if I’m out shopping and I’m not going to be home for a while but need a drink I’ll obviously one but I do try to pick up a can instead of a bottle if possible. One of the best ways I’ve found to get around this has been to take my Chilly’s bottle out with me if I know I’m going to be out for a while. I take my bottle to work every day and out with me if I’m going out for a long time, it makes such a difference and helps me drink more water too!

  1. Movies

Anyone else kinda miss the run-to-Blockbuster days? Me too! These days between Netflix, Sky and Amazon Prime, Matt and I have absolutely no reason to purchase movies anymore. We do enjoy date nights at the movies at least once per month but that’s more the experience of going out for a date (and eating all the good food) not just the movie! I am however SO FREAKING GIDDY for Disney+ to come out in the UK… two more days to wait, friends! I’d rather pay for subscription services and have thousands of options instead of paying one time for one DVD or rental movie.

  1. Items just because they’re on sale

As a lover of reading blogs and watching Youtube vloggers I sometimes feel inundated with people showing me what they’re buying or what they’ve been given, and giving discount codes/sharing sales with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sale as much as anyone, but I really try not to purchase anything that I’m not already looking for. I actually started a list in my Notes app (that has over forty things in it right now, hahaha) of items I’d like to buy at some point; some of these are pretty specific like tan sandals for the Summer, some are just ‘one of those things’ like sweat pants if I see a pair that I like as I need to replace a few pairs of mine. I really do think bloggers as a whole sometimes unintentionally encourage consumerism, just yesterday I seen one of my favourite YouTuber’s sharing her brightly coloured leggings that were on sale for ‘less than $100!’ …they were $98. If something is on sale that you never had any intention of buying but now you ‘want’ it, you’re not saving any money whatsoever!

  1. Weekly magazines

I used to purchase SO MANY magazines, I probably bought at least three per week! I know for sure I didn’t read all of those magazines and some of them may have never even been opened. Not only is that so wasteful it’s really costly, magazines are expensive guys! I still purchase one monthly magazine (I’ve bought Cosmopolitan ever since I can remember and I actually really enjoy lounging in the tub reading it one night per month) but I have no desire to pick up magazines anymore. You can find all of the content and so much more online via blogs or websites, and reading online is also a much more sustainable way to consume that information. 

  1. Subscription boxes

As a beauty lover, I found subscription boxes were such a fun way for me to try new products. I was subscribed to Birchbox and Glossybox for years and whilst I do think it’s a great way to try new things, it’s also a way to over consume products. I started to get products mounting up and many brands/products weren’t things I enjoyed or liked therefore it really became a waste. I think the products also get quite repetitive, if there was a way to somewhat customise what you got in these boxes I think they’d make more sense to purchase.

I hope this post was fun for you guys to read, and maybe stirred up a few questions if you should still be buying X, Y or Z too? What are some things you used to purchase but no longer do? I’m really enjoy learning more about minimalism and I’m very grateful for the impact it’s had on my life already. Please share anything you no longer buy in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions on this topic! 

-G x

An Honest Chat: Body Image

Hey, loves. I was inspired to write today’s post as I was watching the Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out documentary, and one I feel like I’ve written, re-written and edited so many times. If you haven’t seen the documentary and are based in the UK, you can catch it here. I’m not sure if it’s being shown worldwide, but you may also be able to catch it on YouTube. Matt and I watched the documentary with his parents on the night it aired and we were all so moved by the stories told; I cried and felt so much empathy towards Jesy, and I also related so much to many of the things she and the other people said throughout the documnetary.

Jesy Nelson is one fourth of Little Mix; the UK’s biggest girl band right now; and she is someone that you just see everywhere. She is a household name with a large social media presence along with the other three members of the band. Her face is on the side of buses and billboards around the world, and Little Mix’s songs are played in pretty much every store you walk into. They have a high presence in the charts, so are always played on the radio, and their songs are super catchy. They’re often on TV, taking part in interviews and, from an outsider’s perspective, it looks like they’re all living their best lives. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily a fan of Little Mix’s music, but I’ve always admired what they have achieved and how much girl power they bring to a historically male dominated industry.

As a young girl watching their original X Factor auditions back in 2011, I would say that at times I might have felt a little jealous throughout their success! All four girls always looked so happy, they were travelling all over the world and their lives completely changed overnight, which should have been the dream. That’s literally what little girls dream of; it was like a real life version of the Cheetah Girls, hah! Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out shone a new light on this time, and the experience that Jesy herself had in her sudden fame. All of those times that she looked so happy, she wasn’t. All of the times that she looked like she was living her best life, she wasn’t. The main reason being that she was bullied, victimized and trolled over her weight and her body. She saw messages every single day calling her ‘fat’ and telling her to lose weight. She began to pick herself apart more and more, then sadly when she did lose weight (which she didn’t need to) she was still trolled for being ‘fat’.

It was disgusting to hear just a handful of things that Jesy was told every single day, and she shared in the documentary that she wanted to commit suicide to get away from everything. That is heartbreaking; a young girl who should have been living her dream felt like she was living her nightmare, all because of how other people made her feel. She began to hate her own body and therefore tried to hide it away, and now she struggles to watch any video of herself at the start of her career because of the way she looked then. But, Jesy’s documentary was so powerful because she rose above it. She shared her story. She came out the other side. SHE MOVED ON. Jesy was never overweight; she looked like a healthy, normal girl then and she looks like a healthy, normal girl now. So many young girls of all shapes, sizes and builds looked up to her then and still do, and I can’t help but wonder how they’re feeling right now. Jesy met with many young people on the documentary who had experienced a similar thing; they had all been bullied because of the way they look and began to hate their own bodies.

Bullying is a whole different topic that is not really what I want to dive into in this post, but it did make me think about the way we talk about body image in general, and why people think it’s okay to comment on how others look. Magazines use photos of celebrities, just like Jesy, who have often been photographed unknowingly, sometimes in unflattering positions, with headlines like “is *insert name* eating for two?” Or “*insert name*’s crash diet has taken a nose dive” (Yep, they’re genuine articles). Even if a celebrity – or anybody else – has put weight on, it’s nobody else’s business and should never be topic of conversation! The media are known for being harsh, critical, unfair, unjust and downright rude in many circumstances. They want to sell their magazines and newspapers and they never once thought about how those people may feel reading that. This kind of culture has then led to regular people thinking those kind of comments are okay in everyday life. They are not. Whether we’re gossiping with our friends, writing it on social media or even thinking it in our head; it is wrong. It’s time that we took a stand; for each other and for ourselves.

I was thirteen years old when I first looked in the mirror and thought “I look fat”. I don’t know where it came from, thankfully it had not come from someone else, but from then I began to look at my body in a different way. When I started high school in year nine, many of the girls already had boobs and hips, and I didn’t really have either. At some point during that school year, I developed hips that I then began to loathe for the next twelve years. Up until I’m writing this post, to be honest. After growing up in an oversaturated media-filled world, I thought you were either one body type or the other: ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’. I felt ‘fat’ because my hips were wide and stuck out awkwardly, and it made me have a big bum which I’d never had before. But, I didn’t have boobs. In my head, I was ‘skinny’ on the top, and ‘fat’ on the bottom. How crazy is that for a thirteen year old?! Or to be honest, any age.

I spent my teens trying out fad diets, comparing my figure to my friends and celebrities, restricting what I ate, hiding my body sometimes, showing it off other times and finding a love of yoga that’s grown with me. I took every opportunity to whinge to my friends, and to myself, about how I didn’t look good in *insert clothing item*. They did the same, and I think that’s a large part of how we bonded back then. It was just normal to be unhappy with how you looked and I never realised how damaging it is to your happiness. In my opinion social media played a huge part in this; comparing ourselves to other girls was just part of a regular day. I grew up in a time where social media was just finding its feet; I had Piczo and Bebo, then opened Facebook and Twitter accounts, before finally jumping onto the Instagram bandwagon. We competed for likes and other people’s validation that we looked good, and for many of us it was, and maybe still is, an unhealthy place to be. Social media does not have to be a dangerous or unsafe place; I personally love to use Instagram to connect with people, to see new places, to admire photography, to find other bloggers and so much more. Social media can be a happy place, you just have to learn to protect yourself.

I didn’t actually realise how obsessed I was with my body image until I started to put on weight in my twenties. By the time I had turned seventeen, I was ‘skinny’ but still had big hips and no boobs, which I had to just take some kind of pride in. I felt validated when people told me I looked “so skinny” or “tiny” and it stayed like that for a long time, but as soon as I started to notice weight gain last year I freaked out. I started to have conversations all the time with Matt and my mum about how gross I felt, and constantly compared pictures from when I was ‘skinny’. I knew why my body was changing; I changed my pill and my hormones went crazy. I also have got older and I’m sure my metabolism is changing. My diet isn’t always the greatest and if I want ice cream, cookies, chocolate or gummy bears, you can bet I’m going to eat them! Recently I just changed my pill again and was half expecting to wake up one morning with my old body, but that’s just not how life works. Or hormones.

I might not look like I did in my late teens and early twenties but right now, today, I’m proud of my body. No, I don’t always love every part of it. No, I don’t always treat it how I should. No, I don’t always feed it how I should. But, my body allows me to live; I get to spend time with my boyfriend, family and friends, I get to drive my car, I get to go to work, I get to go shopping, I get to do yoga, I get to travel. My body is healthy. And from gaining a little weight I’ve suddenly developed actual boobs, which is always a bonus, right? Matt tells me every day that he thinks I’m beautiful and instead of thinking about something I dislike about myself, I’ve started to accept his compliments. I’m even starting to believe them!

It’s time we change the dialogue we use, and we need to start from within. Body image and body confidence go hand in hand. Let’s stop paying attention to the size of our clothes. Let’s stop finding validation from what society thinks is acceptable. Let’s stop beating ourselves up. Let’s start loving and accepting ourselves. Let’s start dressing for ourselves. Let’s start empowering other women and complimenting each other. You are beautiful, and I hope sharing my story has made you feel somewhat comfortable with your story. Did you ever feel so critical of your body? Maybe you still are, but I hope you find your way to self acceptance and love so soon, we’re all in this together.

-G x

How I Find Time To Read & My Current Picks

Hi, loves! Today’s post is one I’ve teased on the blog for a little while, and I’m so happy to be writing about BOOKS. *Warning: it’s a long one, and perfect if you want to carve out a little self care time this bank holiday weekend. I’d recommend you grab a cuppa and settle in!* I love love love reading and it’s something I really wish more people were passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of people love to read, but I really don’t know that many people who do! I have loved reading since I was a child; my parents and grandparents always read to me whenever they had time to, and I learned to read so quickly myself. I read my beloved Jacqueline Wilson books so many times I swear I knew the stories off by heart! When I was around 10 or 11, I was helping my granddad clear out a bunch of stuff, and discovered all of my mum and auntie’s old books by Enid Blyton. He kindly gave them to me, and I spent the rest of my summer engrossed in those books! The Secret Seven and Famous Five series ignited a serious love of reading (and dogs – I wanted my own Timmy SO BAD) and I’m forever grateful. I literally spent so many nights in my lilac groovy chick themed bedroom, curled up with a blanket and a book thinking I was so grown up. Ha!

In the years since then, I’ve never lost the joy in browsing book stores, talking about books and of course, reading them. I literally can’t walk past a bookstore without dragging Matt in ‘for a look’ – although, if you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?) have a perusal in store and check the prices on Amazon whilst you’re there; I can pretty much guarantee you’ll always get a better deal on Amazon! No, this post isn’t sponsored by Amazon, I just really love it.

Whenever I talk about my love of reading I am often met with “I wish I had time to read”. News flash: everyone has time to read. Let’s be honest; if Michelle Obama can find time to read, so can you. I have time to read so often because I literally set time aside to do so; making reading a priority is really important to me and it makes the world of difference to my mental health. It’s the perfect self care treat for me (along with a pamper evening and a cuddle from Matt, of course) and it truly opens your mind to SO much you may otherwise not know. Books can cover all different topics, issues and situations, and it’s crazy how much you can learn from a book. My mum and Matt’s mum share my love of reading, and we’re always swapping our current reads, like an unofficial book club! So, how do I find time to read? What are my top tips to help you make reading a priority?

Keep your book on your bedside table
Possibly the most obvious tip, but it makes sense guys. I always keep my current book on our bedside table, and take a little time to read most evenings/mornings. Matt often has to send a few work emails just before we settle in for the night so I take those twenty or so minutes to read a few chapters and get my reading fix. Similarly, he starts work early several times per week (which means a 6am alarm for us both) and I also take a little time once he’s left for work, before I blog or get ready for my work day, to read too. It’s a lovely way to begin or end your day, and if you’re struggling to fit reading time in, this will make a huge difference.

Set goals
Like with anything else, setting goals to read X amount each day/week, will make you hold yourself accountable, and make reading a priority. I love to set goals and have things to work towards, so of course this is no exception! I really think being able to tick a goal off a list helps to visualise it; of course this is a very niche goal but if you want to read more you need to treat it seriously. Maybe you could set out a week Monday to Sunday in the Notes app on your phone, using the bullet point system you can tick off, and then you can see how many days out of seven you read each week. Doing this week by week until it becomes a habit (which it should within two months, as scientists say on average it takes 66 days to create a habit) means that within a really short space of time reading would just become part of your everyday life!

Incorporate reading into your day-to-day life
Similarly to reading before bed or first thing in the morning, it’s amazing where you can fit time in to read. If you spend hours scrolling mindlessly on social media (your phone literally tells you how much time you spend now so you can’t avoid it) you could easily spend at least some of that with a book in your hand instead. I love to read in the bath, I seriously take super long baths just to be able to read for longer, and it’s the ultimate self care time for me. Matt sometimes spends a little time in the evenings working or playing on the playstation, which gives me a good chunk of time to read and not feel guilty about it! I also will spend a little time reading whilst sitting in the garden when it’s warm, or on a cold day I love to curl up with a cuppa and a book. I really should take my lunch break at work away from my desk, as that would be the perfect time to rack up some reading time.

Read digitally on your iPad/Kindle/phone
If you find reading a struggle or would just like to switch things up, I’d really recommend downloading a book onto your tablet or phone. I have been really enjoying reading on the Kindle app on my iPad recently; it’s so convenient as I always have my iPad with me anyway, and it’s very accessible no matter where I am. Downloading books onto a tablet is so handy when travelling too; it limits the weight/bulkiness of books (although I do think you can’t beat a ‘real’ book!) and it allows you to take several options, not to mention ebooks are way less money than a physical book. I am still so mad at myself for not picking up a Kindle Paperwhite during the Prime Day(s) sale, and it’s very high on my wishlist right now.

Carry a book with you day-to-day
If reading on a tablet is not for you I totally get that, but you need to carry your book with you if you want to make the most of reading time as and when you can. If you take public transport to work I’d really recommend making the most of your journey time and lose yourself in a book (just make sure not to miss your stop). Side note: I drive to work each day, and spend lots of time during the week in my car; I’m tempted to try Audible but it’s just not something that’s crossed my mind before. Please let me know if you would recommend! If you’re going somewhere where you may be waiting around, hospital appointments spring to mind right away, pack a book and the wait definitely won’t seem so bad.

Find authors and genres you find interesting
Another thing people tell me, is that they have the time to read, but they can never find a book they actually want to read. This is a little trial and error, but if you put the effort in to finding what makes your heart sing, you’ll see the benefit of it. Personally, I love fiction stories that feel like you’re right in with the characters but as you’ll see from my current picks below, I do like varied content. I really want to read more mystery books as I’ve borrowed a few from my mum that I’ve enjoyed, so that’s something I need to explore more in the coming months. It’s the best feeling finding an author you love, as you are drawn to their writing style and therefore can find so many books. Amazon’s ‘Recommended for you’ section pretty much always brings up amazing options, and I’ve found so many books I love that way!

My current favourite author is hands down Taylor Jenkins Reid. Two books I’ve read (and loved) recently are Forever, Interrupted and After I Do; both books are filled with love, heartbreak, sadness and happiness, and you truly feel like you’re experiencing the emotions of the lead characters. Zoe Folbigg is an amazing author and I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve read! I just finished The Postcard, which was the sequel to The Note, and it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Two books that changed my life (in different ways) are Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and How To Be A Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan. I’ve read both several times; they’re incredible and would make for brilliant presents for the gals in your life!

Michelle Obama’s Becoming is a must read for everyone, everywhere; she is, in my opinion, the most inspirational woman of our generation and I’m so happy she shared her story. The best non-fiction book I’ve ever read was This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay; I don’t know anyone who disliked this book, it’s filled with so much emotion – I’d literally be laughing one page and sobbing the next – it’s a must read. If you like books that let you escape from every day life, I’d suggest anything by Elin Hilderband. She writes about Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) in so much depth I feel like I’ve been there myself; it’s a book that takes you on holiday from real life, and her stories are always so enticing. My favourite book of hers is hands down The Identicals. I’ve just downloaded a new Elin Hilderbrand book called The Perfect Couple (and One Minute Later by Susan Lewis) onto my Kindle app for literally 99p each! Order while you can! Shoutout to the lovely Savannah for originally recommending Elin Hilderbrand books to me!

Some of my current ‘to read’ list include the last in a wonderful series by Louise Pentland; Wilde Women. Louise is someone I’ve loved and admired for years, from way back to her Sprinkle of Glitter days, and I’m so happy that she’s began to write. She writes from the heart, her characters are lovable and I’m so excited to see what is happening with Robin, Lyla and Kath in the final installment! Queenie is a book I saw in Anna‘s reading pile and immediately purchased (the girl just knows her books, and also wrote a cracking book herself, An Edited Life) and I’m so excited to read; the book talks all about love, life and race issues and has rave reviews. Another author I’m very interested in is Jane Fallon, I often see her books featured on Instagram and I need to order one soon!

Thank you so so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post and found my tips and tricks helpful in some way. Can you believe my boyfriend (who is perfect in every other way, if I do say so myself) doesn’t like to read?! He’s literally been ‘reading’ the same book since Christmas 2017… maybe you take a few pointers from this post, Matthew?! Ha. So, are you a bookworm like me? Where’s your favourite way to make time to read? I’d love to share my favourite books every few months if that’s something you’d be interested in? Please leave me all your book recommendations below, I love to hear what other people are reading!

-G x

Self Care Practices To Incorporate Into Your Everyday Life

Hey, loves! As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I’ve really had one of those weeks. I’ve felt a bit crap, and as a result I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways I try to carve out a little self care time each day, and focus on the things that keep me feeling good even on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Name that movie. As I mentioned in a recent post I’ve made August an unofficial self-care month for me, and I’d love for you to join in too! Let’s get used to taking a little extra time for ourselves, no matter how busy we are. Today I’m sharing with you the things I try to do most days (or at least several times per week) to practice self care.

Practice yoga (or at least stretch)
It’s not realistic to assume we all have a spare hour or even half an hour each day to prioritise yoga, or whichever exercise you prefer. However, ten minutes is something we should all able to achieve – whether it means turning the TV off ten minutes before bed or getting up ten minutes earlier – it feels so good to stretch out your body. My favourite morning stretch routine for when I don’t have much time is this practice from Yoga With Adrienne, it always makes me feel refreshed and ready to start the day.

Eat food that’s good for you
When you’re eating healthy food your body feels refreshed, and so does your mind. Matt and I eat healthy veggie filled dinners most nights, and we try to eat healthy when possible. We definitely don’t restrict ourselves; if we want to eat something we’ll definitely enjoy it, it’s just about creating a balance. Getting our five a day is so important, and although there’s way less emphasis on it in the media now, I think we could all use a reminder!

Enjoy at least ten minutes of peace and quiet each day
Having a little time alone just to be is good for the soul. I’m an introvert, and until Matt and I got together two years ago, I’d have opted to spend time alone than with others any day of the week. Now, of course I’d rather spend every possible second with Matt, but it’s still important to appreciate time alone too. Whether it’s relaxing in a hot bath during the evening or whilst I’m doing my makeup before work, I just enjoy being with only my thoughts for a little while.

Keep the space around you clean, tidy and clutter-free
I am the kind of person that needs the space around me to be clean and tidy anyway, but it truly makes you feel so much more calm and relaxed when everything is in order and put away in it’s place. I like to de-clutter Matt and I’s space pretty often, and it’s freeing to not hold on to rubbish you don’t need! Our bedroom is always smelling fresh and looking tidy, and coming home each night to our own little sanctuary is so calming and refreshing. I’m also the same with my car, I can’t bare it being dirty or cluttered inside, I just very rarely clean the outside.

Treat yourself to regular pamper sessions
Whether it’s getting your gels refreshed or visiting your favourite salon for a fresh colour and cut, set aside time (and money) to enjoy it. I love days where I’m getting my hair or nails done SO much, it just makes me feel happier. Of course you don’t have to go to salons to treat yourself, because at-home spa and pamper evenings can be just as wonderful. Indulge in a bubble bath and throw a face mask on, and never let yourself feel guilty for doing so. It’s important to unwind and relax, and it’s very true that when you look good, you feel good on the inside too. Matt and I love a pamper night!

Make gratitude lists
Feeling grateful is one thing, but writing down what you’re grateful for changes your perspective on everything. It’s so easy to get bogged down with mundane life stuff, but just acknowledging the good things in your life can make you see everything so differently. I’ve wrote three posts this year, logging things I’m grateful for each day – you can catch up here, here and here – and I couldn’t recommend that enough. Whether you’re a blogger looking for a content idea or you just want to list what you’re grateful for privately, it’s amazing to see your blessings right in front of you. I keep a list in the Notes app in my phone, and man does it help me to keep positive.

Live in the moment
I admit that I am SO bad for not enjoying the day/hour/second right there and then, because I’m thinking about what’s coming up. Whether I’m stressing about something happening or I’m super excited for something fun, I find I’m always counting down to the Next Thing. I’m actively trying to enjoy where I’m at in the moment, and it’s making life so much more fun! …but it’s okay to have things to look forward to. Matt and I always have a trip planned, whether it’s a holiday or a weekend getaway, because we love travelling SO much and that’s where we want to put our energy. We just love getting away and exploring somewhere new! Similarly, date nights keep us sane and get us through long work weeks, and we always plan those in advance. Get plans in your diary to catch up with your friends too, they may need it more than you do!

Be active, and enjoy nature while you’re at it
Matt and I are SO LUCKY to live where we do; there’s beautiful beaches, rolling countryside and our favourite city, Newcastle upon Tyne, all just twenty minutes drive from us. We are always trying to get outside more and enjoy whatever is around us, and we’re also very lucky that we experience all four seasons here too! Well, Summer is questionable LOL.

Unwind in a way that makes you happy
Getting cosy under a fluffy blanket with our favourite candles flickering, snuggling up with Matt to watch Netflix is without a doubt my favourite pastime. We do this in some aspect every evening, even if it’s only to watch one quick episode of our favourite show (Brooklyn 99 is life, you guys!) and it feels so good to relax at home. Being curled up with Matt makes me so happy, and it’s something I look forward to from the minute we get out of bed each morning! I also love to blog, binge watch reality shows (The *original* Hills and KUTWK are always my go-to shows), online shop/browse, cook, catch up on my YouTube subscriptions, read books, take bubble baths… whatever it is for you; do more of it.

Don’t beat yourself up
The best self care tip of all is to not be too hard on yourself, because everyone is doing the best they can. You don’t need to compare yourself to others, or what you think you should have/want in life. Being happy within yourself is so important, and nurturing your close relationships is super important too. Matt and I are very good at giving each other pep talks and cheering each other up if we ever have a bad day, and that support network is so vital!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this post helpful, and maybe feel inspired to take a little more time for yourself. How do you take time for self care each day? What’s one thing that always makes you feel good? Except for cuddling with Matt, one other thing specifically comes to mind for me. Blogging. It always makes me feel good and is there for me like a safety net; I love to write SO MUCH, and I had no idea how much joy blogging would bring to my life! Matt encouraged me to start and has (literally) held my hand every step of the way so far; I’m so grateful for him and that he pushed me to do it; it’s a dream come true to run my own blog. Thank you so much to everyone who takes time to read, comment, like, share etc – it means the world to me, and I really feel so lucky to have such a great bunch of people around me.

-G x

All Of The Things That Made Me Happy Last Week

Hi, loves! Today’s post is another talking about everything that’s made me happy over the past week. As the title may suggest. *shrugs shoulders* I really love writing these posts – you can read my previous ones here and here – and I get so many lovely messages from people saying that they notice the little things more after reading them, and in turn feel happier too! I’ve had another weird week where I’ve felt super anxious and a little bit off, so I dived deep and looked at all the happy, positive things in my life! I try so hard to do this every day, but it’s really so easy to forget and sometimes we need a little reminder. Getting bogged down with silly mundane things like traffic, someone else’s bad attitude or the weather is SO common, but it doesn’t have to ruin your day!

This was from the week before Matt and I left for Croatia so I really had a lot to be happy about 🙂 about mid-week my anxiety finally tailed off, and I felt so much brighter, happier and genuinely so excited for our holiday! Also, I like to include way more photos in these posts normally but I forgot to take relevant photos each day as I was super pre-occupied with things I needed to do before my holiday, I’m sorry!

SUNDAY
– Matt and I got to lay in for the first time in weeks, it was bliss
– I watched Jade Billington‘s first two Disney vlogs whilst getting ready. I love her so much, her videos always leave me feeling so happy but travel/Disney vlogs? Come on!
– date day with my love. We went to Wagamama’s, which is our favourite place for lunch! Matt had chilli steak ramen and I got udon noodles with steak. It was SO. GOOD.
– I met an Internet friend in real life! It was so so lovely to see her, and meet her adorable little daughter who loved Matt. Babies always are attracted to Matt, it’s the cutest thing ever #broody
– finishing up my holiday clothes shopping, finally. I literally felt 10000 x more relaxed (and excited) once I’d picked up the last few bits
– the smell of my banana hair mask from The Body Shop
– having a cosy night at home with Matt’s parents. They’re so good to us and I feel so so lucky to have them!

MONDAY
– snuggles in bed
– Cheerios with Alpro almond coconut milk. This will never not make me happy
– I got our grocery shop done in record time AND came in under budget. Double win!
– picking up our Kuna (Croatian currency) for our holiday! I love that feeling when you pick up your money and it all suddenly feels real
– the best long shower
– getting lots of blog photos taken. I love love love writing my blog but I do sometimes get super stressed about not having photographs ready to go with my upcoming posts!
– I had dinner ready for Matt coming home and it was so good (if I do say so myself). We had cod with mash and veggies!

TUESDAY
– Matt’s cute little face when I brought him a cup of tea in bed. I do this most mornings (when we have time) and he always looks so happy!
– driving past all the cute little bunnies outside of our estate
– listening to this podcast on the way to work. I’m literally obsessed with Chris & Rosie, they’re so flipping funny
– the ice cream van came round the industrial estate I work on and we ran out to get an ice cream like children. What holiday body?
– I had such a quick, easy day at work
– another cosy night in with Matt and his parents. I just love my second family!
– the most beautiful sunset (photos did NOT do it justice sadly)

WEDNESDAY
– we woke up to the sound of heavy rain. I love rainy mornings
– spending my lunch break shopping with my co-worker
– coming home to the smell of Spanish Chicken in the crockpot. Bae did good
– seeing Matt’s sweet grandma. We set up her new TV and she was so happy it just melted my heart!
– watching the women’s world cup, eating pick n mix with Matthew
– hitting over 10,000 steps on my Fitbit
– Matt and I snuggled up in bed and fell right to sleep, this never happens but we slept so good!

THURSDAY
– morning cuddles (I could have said this every day LOL)
– a hot cup of tea
– picking up our groceries/last minute holiday bits before work. I just really enjoy ticking things off my to do list
– my last holiday delivery arrived! I absolutely love these earrings I ordered, I seen them weeks ago and was planning to pick them up in the airport, but then they went on sale for HALF PRICE. Usually I buy things then they get reduced, so that was great! I can’t wait to wear them throughout the Summer 🙂
– that post-hair wash feeling
– picking Matt up from his night out! I’d literally dropped him off a few hours before but I missed spending my night with him haha
– driving late at night, it’s just so peaceful

FRIDAY
– working on the blog for an hour when Matt left for work. I was snuggled up under our duvet, with a candle burning and a cup of tea. Bliss
– a croissant from Lidl’s bakery. If you know, you know
– ticking off everything (well except one non-important) thing on my to do list at work
– setting my out of office for a week and a half! At this point I’m SO EXCITED for our holiday
– an ice cold Diet Coke
– cooking dinner with Matthew
– snuggling up and watching Brooklyn 99, it’s our favourite

SATURDAY
– I had a lot of fun waking Matt up by being super annoying and kissing/cuddling him a little too much. He loved it as much as I did really
– making bacon sandwiches for breakfast
– seeing my sweet grandma
– painting my toe nails, I only really bother to do it for holidays/special occasions haha
– I finished up packing and have plenty of space to bring back cute souvenirs
– that holiday eve feeling
– Chinese for dinner with bae

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post and felt the positive vibes radiating from it… maybe? A little bit? Ha! What’s three things that have made your day a little bit happier today? What could you do to make someone else’s happier? I’m continuing the happy vibes on Wednesday too!

-G x

All Of The Things That Made Me Happy This Week

Hi, loves!

I’ve been feeling super anxious, stressed and a little bit down in the dumps recently, and it’s a feeling I just haven’t been able to shift. I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve spent crying to Matt, and us both knowing that nothing can be done to make me feel better, the anxiety just has to pass. I feel like every time I write about dealing with anxiety or feeling stressed I need to write DISCLAIMER: MY LIFE IS STILL GREAT. It’s almost like I feel guilty for having anxiety, for feeling a bit crap when really I am so happy with my boyfriend, our families and friends, and I have a dang great life. No matter how bad my anxiety can sometimes feel, no matter how many panic attacks or tense moments I may have, I know there is good in every day. Sometimes changing my perspective on things can help keep my anxiety at bay, so I challenged myself to recording nine things each day that made me happy in the moment, and I challenge you to do the same too!

I’m so lucky that I have a platform to share my thoughts and feelings, and I choose to share those because I want to help other people. I wrote a post very similarly to this one here, and I received so many messages from people saying they loved it, and that it helped them in various ways. Knowing I’ve made someone smile, see a different perspective or that someone really related with what I wrote beats every ounce of judgement I feel against the topic of anxiety.

Saturday 4th May
– seeing how happy Matt was that I made him breakfast before he left for work
– an hour long yoga session
– I spent my morning writing and editing blog posts snuggled in bed, whilst the wind and rain hit off the window
– I fully hinched our room before Matt got home from work
– the smell of Method Wild Rhubarb all purpose cleaner
– Matt and I ran errands together
– we visited with my grandma for a while and she was so funny (she’s pretty poorly and sadly going blind, but she’s at that point where she just couldn’t care less what she says or how she says it. It’s fantastic)
– wearing my Birks
– at Aldi we picked up ‘big daddy’ steaks for dinner. They were so good
– we snuggled in to watch the NUFC match with a homemade pick n mix (let’s just not talk about the score)

Sunday 5th May
– Matt and I got to lay in for the first time in so long! We slept for ten and a half hours and boy did we need it
– we had the laziest morning
– I caught up on Jade Billington’s vlogs whilst getting ready, her videos always make me feel so motivated and happy
– we got to spend a few hours with Matt’s grandma and mum, some of my favourite people
– watching KUWTK whilst Matt was out for a run/in the bath post-run
– making/eating Diet Coke chicken
– relaxing with a face mask on (Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty if you’re wondering)
– we got to snuggle on the couch all evening watching Mary Poppins Returns
– Emily Blunt *insert all of the heart eyes emojis* she’s my ultimate girl crush

Monday 6th May
– waking up to Matt’s cute little face. This makes my day every day, ngl
– Swiss Miss hot chocolate
– we had ‘laptop club’ before Matt went to work. (Matt works and I work on the blog, it’s a fun way to get stuff done but still be together :))
– my mum and dad came home from a trip away with their friends and we got to catch up on our weekends
– I edited two blog posts and took photographs for them both
– a Lush bath
– finishing another good book
– picky tea (including the best flatbread pizza)
– we got to spend a few hours in the evening with Matt’s parents after barely seeing them recently

Tuesday 7th May
– I got to stay snuggled in bed for an extra 45 minutes after Matt left for work
– my hair styled perfectly straight
– the perfect tuna mayo sandwich
– my work day went so quickly
– how soft my Brandy Melville Newport jumper is. I’ve had it for years and it’s just so comfy and cosy
– Matt’s phone call to say he was on his way home
– snuggling up with bae
– Liverpool winning in the craziest match
– falling asleep to rainforest sounds (we play waves or rainforest sounds every night. It’s becoming an obsession to the point we’re genuinely considering taking one of our Echo Dots on holiday hahaha)

Wednesday 8th May
– Matt and I woke up to the sound of rain hitting so hard on the window. I love rainy days
– having a little extra time to edit my blog before getting ready
– Twining’s buttermint tea
– I got our food shop done for the rest of the week in less than twenty minutes before work
– planning my blog posts right up until we go on holiday in June!
– eating a Wispa Gold
– looking at our holiday countdown and reading all of the Trip Adivsor reviews on my lunch break
– when I finished work Matt and I went for a little shopping trip so I could get myself an early birthday present! I got the Inspire HR Fitbit and my first impressions are great: I’m so happy with it
– receiving the sweetest message about this post that went live today
– having a super cosy snuggly evening

Thursday 9th May
– we got to lay in for a little while
– my godmother called me as I was driving to work and we got to chat, catch up and get some plans in the diary for Matt and I to go see them
– having just enough Alpro almond milk left for my cereal
– coming home from work to the smell of dinner in the Crock Pot (thanks to Matthew making Spanish chicken for us. It was SO GOOD. We make it slightly different each time, but I listed a recipe way back in this post)
– getting fresh gel nails
– having a hot shower and getting into my comfies after a long day
– an idea I had for my blog. Keep your eyes peeled, I’m super excited about it
– getting my first badge on my Fitbit, lol!
– watching Ambulance with Matt and his parents

Friday 10th May
– Matt and I woke up a minute before our alarm went off (this literally makes me giddy hah)
– driving to/from work listening to the new episode of Chris & Rosie’s podcast, Sh*gged, Married, Annoyed
– eating Burger King for lunch with the girls at work
– receiving the cutest text from my cousin after she got a parcel! Matt and I sent her some goodies from The Body Shop and she was so happy it made me happy
– fresh bedding. I got us a new set from Amazon, although I definitely should have ironed it first LOL! I just need to pick up some fresh throw pillows to spruce it up a little
– Matt arriving home after the longest day
– knowing that a week today Matt and I will be at Ramside Hall celebrating my birthday
– Ed Sheeran’s new song with Justin Bieber

Saturday 11th May
– we went to pick up Matt’s new glasses and he looks SO HANDSOME in them (obviously)
– getting our grocery shop done in record time
– hinching our bedroom whilst Matt was at work
– wearing mom jeans
Savannah‘s Instagram story. I’m so close to booking flights for Matt and I to explore Manistee, her beautiful home town!!
– getting Matt some treats whilst I was out (I definitely bought him Percy Pig’s too knowing he’ll share them with me…)
– the sweetest lady in Boots giving great customer service
– using The Body Shop banana hair mask and having a little pamper evening. It’s the best
– snuggling up with Matt, eating sugar cookies and watching Brooklyn 99 after dinner

Now this brings us right up to today, Sunday 12th May. Today I made Matt breakfast in bed before he headed to work, and I’m just about to go to Homesense to pick up some new candles! I have a day of working on the blog planned, followed by yoga, a bubble bath and a cosy night at the Scotney household… I can’t wait! Do I feel better than I did when I began writing this last Saturday? YES. Do I have a fresh perspective on all of the wonderful things in my life? YES. Do I feel extra happy and grateful and blessed for the life I have? YES. Do I still feel a little bit anxious and stressed? YES. Life unfortunately isn’t about moderation; you can feel lots of things at one time, and that’s okay. I love this quote I came across on Instagram a few weeks ago, I think it sums up my thoughts/feelings perfectly:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

-Vivian Greene

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it made you smile just a little bit. I hope you’re feeling good, and you too try to focus on the little things that make you happy more in the upcoming week! What has made you happy this past week?

-G x

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

Hi, loves!

Blogging is without a doubt my favourite hobby assuming that napping with my boyfriend is not considered a hobby but it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with my schedule when I work a full time job in the real world, that comes with it’s own problems and stresses. As lots of you will already know, I have a 9am to 5pm job in Accounts and Purchasing in the real world. I work Monday to Friday, so thankfully I have all of my evenings and weekends free which gives me lots of spare time. I always make sure to prioritise time with Matt, and our friends and family first, as well as allowing myself as much ‘me time’ as I need to keep my mental health feeling good. My blogging then slots in behind that, and I always try so hard to create good quality content that I’m proud of.

I started writing my blog in June 2017, after being a dedicated reader of so many blogs for years. I always thought it was something I wouldn’t be good at doing; I lacked the confidence to create one, and I had no idea where to start with the technical side of things either. I’ve talked about my feelings on this subject a little in this post, but I am SO glad I finally took the leap and created my little corner of the internet, after lots of encouragement from Matt. He’s an absolute gem and I’m forever grateful for all of his support, I love him so much! I’ve learned such a huge array of things already about the blogging world, and I’m still learning every day. My blog is my pride and joy, it’s literally like a little baby I want to look after and feed with all of the good stuff, and it feels so good to do something that’s just for me, but also benefits other people. To be honest, even if nobody read my blog I’d still write, it brings me so much joy and a sense of calm that I didn’t know I needed.

I’ve spoken many times on my blog, in various posts, about the fact that Matt and I’s schedules vary so much – there’s a little more background in this post – due to his varying shifts at work. Matt’s hours fluctuate each week, as do his days off, so we always make sure to make the most of time together, and make that our first priority. As a result, my blogging time to brainstorm ideas, write, edit, take photographs etc varies day by day, week by week. At least twice per week Matt starts work early, which means he’s getting up at 6am. I like to get up for the day with him and make his breakfast then when he leaves for work I will work on my blog, and try to squeeze in a yoga practice, before getting ready for the day. He works until late a few times per week, so again my main focus on those evenings is to work on my blog for X amount of time before he gets home, if I don’t have other plans or errands to run. Weekends also vary a lot, although recently we’ve been super lucky and he’s had lots of days off with me! Where possible, I take at least four hours during his work day when I’m at home to work on my blog, and get things pre-planned for the coming week(s). These big chunks of time come in so handy because I can get so much done! I generally tend to just take any spare time I have to create content, and although I don’t have the same daily schedule it seems to work well, and I’m able to run my blog around my life, rather than run my life around my blog.

If we have a few busy weeks in a row it makes it so much harder to ‘fit’ blogging in around the rest of my life, and that’s when I feel stressed out with keeping my hobby going to the high standards I’ve set myself. It sometimes can get a little overwhelming and there have been times I’ve put up a post because it was scheduled for that specific day, even though I haven’t been 100% happy with it. That is something I really don’t want to do again as I feel that’s an unfair reflection of my blog, and it makes me feel a bit rubbish. I appreciate that I’m able to write and edit on my phone, so sometimes I take a little time out of my work day, during my lunch break, to do so. I generally prefer to write on my laptop (or Matt’s) at home though, so I only use my phone to write/edit when I’m feeling a little behind. From my very first post I set myself a blogging schedule – which has since slightly changed due to realising the ‘peak’ times people read posts – but I always stick to it, and post twice per week. I like having continuity in my posts as that’s something I appreciate from my favourite bloggers.

I always write my posts in advance, and I usually have at least five to six posts pre-written, that are then edited a few days before going live. I plan ahead by months sometimes, which sounds a little crazy but I generally have lots of ideas at one time, so I like to plan them in as and when I think of them. I’m so Type A, LOL. I used to include a paragraph at the start of each post about what I’d been up to that week or weekend; any restaurants Matt and I had been to, what we’re watching on TV etc, but that’s something I’ve since stopped doing as I felt it was getting repetitive and took away from the topic(s) in my posts unnecessarily. Sometimes I see that a similar post to what I’ve written has been posted by someone else a little earlier than mine is planned, and I always worry that it looks as though I’m stealing their ideas, although I promise my ideas are all my own! I’m influenced by lots other bloggers – both big and small – in many ways, but I would never copy somebody else’s work or thoughts.

The biggest ‘struggle’ I have when it comes to my blogging schedule is taking photos to go with my pre-written posts. During the Winter months when it was dark before I went to work, and dark when I came home, I would try to take as many photographs as possible during the three hour window it was light every two weeks, and then end up stressed if I had other plans or it wasn’t bright enough outside anyway. I try to take lots of photographs at one time now, so I can edit and upload them together, and this alleviates a little of the stress of always having to take new photos. As I mentioned above, I feel like a lot of the struggles I feel regarding my blog are because I have set myself such high standards, but realistically if a post went up a day later, or didn’t have ‘enough’ photos, nobody would notice (or care) anyways.

I am very happy with, and proud of, my blog (I love my re-design that I did in March – I even had to write code, guys!) but I can’t help sometimes feeling discouraged when I inevitably compare myself to other bloggers. Blogging is not something that brings home the bacon for me, and although I have no idea what will happen in the future, it’s something that right now I love to do regardless, and I enjoy every aspect even with the stress I sometimes feel. That being said, now and then I feel like my blog isn’t good enough, and I can be really hard on myself about that. Sometimes when I read other bloggers’ paid or sponsored posts, seeing how much they are given by brands (those new CMA and ASA rules made this abundantly clear) and how much engagement they get on other platforms, can sometimes really get to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard blogging can be first hand, and I know that most bloggers work so hard and are extremely deserving of their success, it just sometimes worries me that I won’t ever get *there*, wherever there is. These worries are thankfully few and far between, and it’s normal to sometimes doubt yourself, right? It’s a little bit hard to admit that I can feel that way from time to time, and I know some people wouldn’t share that.

I think blogging often seems like sunshine and rainbows to the outside world, but it’s important to be realistic and remember that there are deadlines (albeit, set by myself), a sense of stability and continuity in my posts, and a constant need to be creative. I’m not the most creative person in the world – you should see my art projects as a child, wow! – but when it comes to writing, that’s my thing. I love sharing parts of my life, whether it’s what Matt and I have been up to, products I enjoy using or just my general thoughts and feelings on a subject, and again that’s something I really appreciate in other bloggers’ posts. I also feel the same about YouTube; it’s the boring, at-home-and-running-errands vlogs that interest me the most, not the wow-look-at-this-super-amazing-trip vlogs, although they can be a guilty pleasure from time to time. (Especially Disney World vlogs!) I’ve heard from several people, some of which I know personally and some I do not, that they love seeing a little sneak peek into my everyday life, and I recognise that I’m so blessed to have a platform to share that. I think I just need to stay in my own lane, remember that I’m being true to myself no matter what, and above all continue to put so much time, love and energy into my blog.

If you’re reading this post and hoping to start a blog, or maybe you already have a blog and struggle with finding time to create the content you so badly want to, don’t worry. Look at your schedule, carve time out where it’s possible and never give up. It’s going to be difficult now and then, but you’ll never get anywhere without lots of hard work and perseverance, and that’s true for all things in life. There may be various stressful situations occasionally, but you must put yourself and your mental health first! Make sure to take time out when you need it, and if it means skipping an upload day or pushing it back, I promise your readers will understand. That’s advice I need to take for myself, too.

Thank you so much for reading! I say it in every post but it truly means the world to me; I appreciate every view, comment and like more than you know. Do you feel any of the struggles or stress I’ve mentioned in this post, as you juggle writing your blog with working full time? Do you have any advice or tips that may help me or other bloggers? Please leave them in the comments below!

-G x

The Importance Of Being Kind In An Unkind World

Hi, loves! Happy Sunday!

I feel like the world we live in is constantly throwing out negative thing after negative thing; topics such as climate change, natural disasters, illness and pollution are inescapable to anyone who pays attention to the news or even social media. Add in other horrible headlines that we see on a near-daily basis; murders, animal cruelty, sexism and poverty, and it’s no wonder the world struggles to be kind and positive. Now, this blog post is not at all to put a downer on your Sunday, but it’s to show you that in my opinion, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and each other is to be kind.

jo-malone-peony-and-blush-suede-candle-how-to-be-parisian-an-edited-life-hinch-yourself-happy-homesense-flowers-pink-peonies-stackers-jewellery-box

I have been thinking a lot recently about the way I act towards others, and the way others act towards me. I really wanted to write a somewhat chatty blog post about this as it’s something I think we can all struggle with sometimes. I know personally if I was having a bad day, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about how my mood can affect others, but that’s something I’ve really been working on the past few months. I find that my mood is often brought down if someone else is taking their bad mood out on me; if someone is snappy or rude, I feel like it’s contagious and it makes me feel miserable too. However, when someone is kind and friendly towards you, this also has a contagious effect and the smallest thing can make my whole day.

Another thing that has got me thinking about kindness, is After Life, a Netflix show created by Ricky Gervais, who is also the lead character. Matt and I are only five episodes in and I’ve cried seven times already, it’s moving, incredibly sad, witty, and so emotional. The story is based around a man called Tony, who recently lost his wife Lisa to breast cancer, and how this affects him and everyone around him who just want to help. He’s struggling to deal with all of the emotions he feels since her death, and contemplated taking his own life as a result. There are funny parts in there too, and without giving too much away it is a perfect example of the fact you don’t know what other people are going through. Kindness is sometimes the only thing we have, and it’s truly important to spread and share with everyone you meet.

Being kind is honestly one of the best traits in a person in my opinion, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many kind-hearted people. I know I talk about my boyfriend approximately 24 hours a day (sorry not sorry), but he’s really just the best thing in my life. He is without a doubt the most hard-working, generous and kind man I’ve ever met, and he makes me so proud. His kindness is endearing; he always wants to help, he makes other people feel good about themselves, and he is such a happy person. He genuinely inspires me to be a better person every day! My mum and dad are so loving and kind; they help anyone in any way they possibly can, and they never expect anything in return for that. My family and close friends are a great bunch of kind-hearted people, and I know how lucky I am to have this kind of inner circle.

This past week I was in Asda picking up our dinner ingredients, and an elderly lady was struggling to reach something on a lower shelf so I grabbed it for her. I didn’t think about it, and I’m sure this is a pretty natural reaction for anyone, of course we’re going to help people when we can, but she was so grateful and happy that I’d done such a simple thing. She stopped to chat for a little while, and explained she had lots of problems with her hip and could no longer do everyday tasks the same way. We spoke for only a few minutes, and when we said goodbye she thanked me for being so kind to her, which naturally made my eyes fill with tears. (I’m a crier, lol). I’d had a long day at work, was feeling a little stressed out and was wishing away the hours until Matt finished work so I could curl up with him. It was a great reminder of how much our actions can directly affect those around us, even people we don’t know, and why being kind should not depend on your mood. I felt so happy to have this little exchange with the lady, and it gave me all the warm fuzzies to see how happy she was from stopping for a quick chat.

Being kind is not exclusive to people of wealth or people without, it’s something inclusive to all and I think it should be a higher priority for people, myself included. Organise your day or week, and make sure to take time out each day to carry out small acts of kindness. Kindness may not always be the most important thing in our lives, we all have different priorities at different times, but I truly think if we all focus a little more on it, the world would be a much better place.

As I said above, kindness can be contagious and that is one of the best things about it in my opinion. How many times have you seen a stranger smile at you, smiled back and instantly felt happier? Or recieved a hug at the end of a long day that just felt like heaven? Or given a gift and seen the joy on someone else’s face? Being kind can be a truly selfless act, of course, but it’s lovely that it has a boomerang-like effect; we get a buzz from making others feel good, and I think that’s pretty special.

do-all-things-with-kindnesss

Fifteen Easy Things You Can Do Today To Be More Kind:
Smile. It’s really such a small thing, but how good do you feel when a stranger smiles at you randomly? Or you’re being checked out at the grocery store by a smiley cashier? Be generous with your smiles, they’re free!
Make dinner for your partner. Cooking together is always our preference, but Matt loves when I make dinner for him coming home from work. He sees it as such a nice gesture and I love to do it for him. He repays the favour on his days off when I’m at work and makes dinner for me coming home, I appreciate it so much too.
Donate to a charity. As little as £1 can make a huge differnce to those in need, you don’t have to think big to donate. Whether you’d like to give money, old items you no longer benefit from, canned foods (always needed at the homeless shelters!) or your time, give generously.
Pay for someone’s drink in the line behind you. I love to do this for someone from time to time. It’s so apparent how out-of-the-blue it is, and how flipping happy they are at the prospect of a free drink! You can also try this out at the drive thru, which Matt told me I need to stop doing or people will be following me through like I’m the Pied Piper. LOL.
Look for the best in situations. Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others, and watering your (metaphorical) little garden to help it grow and flourish, is up to you. Don’t get bogged down with whatever is going on in the world whether it’s personal or in general; embrace it, and find the positives. If you look really hard you’ll find some!
Visit with family. They love to see you, and they want to hear about all the stuff you’ve been up to. Matt and I try to visit with our grandmas as much as possible, and we know how much they appreciate that. We see both our families so much and we love it, we’re super family orientated and thrive off quality time spent with them.
Make someone a cuppa. Whether it’s your partner in the morning, your co-workers throughout the day or whilst visiting your mum in the evening, making someone a hot drink is one of the sweetest things you can do. And, very British.
Text a friend and ask how they are. It’s so important to check in with your friends, and it’s something I’m really working on doing more often. I’ve never been great at replying to messages (sorry!) but I’m trying to be intentionally quicker and better at replying, and planning in catch ups.
Let the person behind you with less groceries cut infront. I’ve been allowed to do this so many times as I’m forever popping into Aldi for just a packet of bacon and brioche bread buns (Matt’s fave for a weekend morning, LOL) when people are doing their weekly food shop. I always feel a little awkward pushing in, but it’s a sweet gesture that always makes me smile.
Be thoughtful. Did your boyfriend have a bad day? Does your mum feel poorly? Has your friend been going through something rough? Run them a bath, bring them their favourite treats, or spend a little extra time with them.
Tip good service generously. Matt and I always tip when we receive good service in a restaurant, and I think it’s so important to show gratitude for this. In England it’s a little different than in other countries, as waiters and waitresses get paid a fair wage (generally speaking) so do not ‘rely’ on tips the same way as they do in, for example, the US. It’s not expected here per se, and it’s a lovely treat for someone’s hard work.
Hold the door for the person behind you. One of the most simple gestures you can do for someone but I can’t tell you how much this one can be appreciated.
Leave nice comments on social media. Whether it’s on your friend’s Facebook status or an accquaintance’s Instagram photo, share the love! It takes literally seconds from your day, and it’s always so nice to receive lovely comments. I love receiving blog comments SO much and I’m actively trying to comment more on the blogs I read and love.
Watch whatever your boyfriend wants to watch on TV (without complaining). Who cares if you’ve watched every televised football game for the past three weeks? Who cares if you still have no idea what’s going on in Corrie and you’re hiding from seeing any spoilers? Making sacrifices, as small as watching the football, is so appreciated by your partner, just make sure you get to watch your show next time!
Compliment a stranger. If you like someone’s top, hair cut or just the way they acted towards you (or someone else), tell them!

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to know your thoughts on kindness in the comments below. What was the last ‘random act of kindness’ someone did for you? Or what did you do for someone else? Do you have to sometimes make a conscious effort to be kind too?

-G x