What’s What!

Hello my loves!

Guess who’s back?! Back again, ‘gain, ‘gain…

It has been SO long since I sat down and wrote to you all and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed you guys and my blog. It’s actually exactly one month today since I posted saying I’d be taking some time away which is unintentional, but it feels right to bring my blog back now. Things are going to look a little different around here, but I am officially back in the blogging world and I’m so excited. I hope you’re all well and have had a fabulous month since we last spoke! Grab a cup of tea and settle in, in true www.gillianfinn.com style, we’ve got a long old post… 🙂

We love an awkward car selfie 🙂

What things are going to be looking like on the blog:
I took a break from blogging for several reasons; 1) I just needed a little time to adapt to our ‘new normal’ as things were opening back up again, 2) I felt like I was taking so much time up with taking photos, planning content, writing etc that it was not  becoming enjoyable and 3) I really wanted to just relax a little more as I’d been feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I still don’t feel 100%, but I do feel much better than I did at the end of July. 

I really love my blog and I’m so freaking proud of it! I knew I was only going to take a short break, but having that time away has made me realise that I don’t want to stress myself out about getting 2 – 3 posts up per week. I work full time, I am trying to get back into a social life (thank you, ‘Rona) and I need to make sure I prioritise my self care time too. I’m going to be uploading once per week for now, although as and when I can I’m really hoping to upload ‘bonus’ posts!

What I’m loving:
As you may have noticed from the photo above, I got my hair dyed this month! My roots look a little darker in that photo than they are now as this was taken the day after I got it dyed, they’ve lightened up just a tad after I’ve washed it 🙂 I had a not-so-great salon experience in July and was desperate to get it fixed. Going to a new salon is always scary! I can’t believe how much better I feel since I got my hair done, I really feel like a new person and I’m just so happy with it. I’ve not been this blonde for years and I kinda feel like I’m wearing a wig – LOL! – but it’s just so fun to try something new. Also, I already have a few things, but if you have any must-have products you use to keep your blonde hair healthy and happy, please let me know!

What I’m buying:
Well… Matt and I accidentally fell into Homesense the other day and their Autumn candles are already out! I was very reserved and only picked up two, but really I could have bought twelve. How flipping cute is that lid?! I had a huge wardrobe clear out a couple weeks ago so I’m really excited to see the A/W clothing slowly filter through into stores websites. I don’t really buy many clothes and I try to #shopsecondhand as much as I can, but there’s a couple of gaps I need to fill in my wardrobe ahead of the colder weather coming. I really need some new basic sweaters that I can dress up or down, and I’d love to grab a couple pretty shirts/blouses to wear for evenings out. I’d also love one or two more midi dresses as I wear the few I have all the time and it would be nice to switch things up a little!

What I’m watching:
All the shows! Matt and I have finally gotten back into a routine of watching shows almost every evening and I’m so happy about it. It’s so nice to unwind and relax after work. I’m still working from home for the foreseeable future so making sure to disconnect from work whilst in the same space is something I think is really important. I binge watched season three of Selling Sunset – it fills a void since the Laguna Beach & The Hills days! – and I already can’t wait for season four. Chrishell is just my favourite, I love her! We’re watching The Office (duh) and Friends reruns, we flew through Down To Earth with Zac Efron and now we’re watching season three of World’s Toughest Prisons. We really enjoy this show and watched the first two seasons around a year ago – some of the things that happen in these places is literally mind-blowing! 

This photo was taken at Eden Locke Hotel in Edinburgh at the start of August. I wish I’d had lighter hair then!

What I’m reading:
I just started a new book this past weekend; Hello Again by Isabelle Broom. So far I’m really enjoying it, I’m 24% of the way through and I’m already obsessed with the characters and making assumptions on what will happen next. I haven’t been reading as much recently just because I haven’t been making the time for it but since lockdown began back in March I’ve read tons of books. My stand out favourite was by far The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Friends, this was my favorite book I’ve read ALL YEAR! I had no idea what to expect; almost every time I guessed what the next part of the story would be I was so wrong. I laughed, I cried, I just loved it. I highly recommend!

What I’m excited about:
For me, August bank holiday marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. I can’t really explain it but I feel like September 1st is a fresh start in the way most people see January 1st! I’m taking my mum out for a treat, Matt and I have dinner plans with our friends, the most exciting/scary/nerve-wracking appointment of our lives and we’re hiking Thrunton Woods too. I might just record a Weekend In My Life because it’s going to be FUN! I know technically we have warm (ish) weather in September and sometimes through to mid-October, but I cannot wait for all things cold weather. I am so excited for pumpkin spice drinks, layering clothes, wearings scarves, coats & boots, dark gel nails… the list goes on! 

What skincare product I’m obsessed with:
I am SO happy with my skincare routine I’ve used religiously for a few months, but wearing a mask just here and there throughout the week is making my cheeks/jaw break out. Maskne is real, people. I realise so many people have to wear masks for literally 12 hours per day (you’re all amazing and I truly don’t know how you do it!) but just literally a couple hours per week means I’ve had to really focus on products that prevent breakouts and acne. I’m super acne prone so this isn’t really shocking, honestly. The one treatment I’ve been using per week has helped so. freaking. much. I’m talking about The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution, this works so well! This past Sunday my mum, Matt and I all enjoyed a little facial (courtesy of me, obvs!) and they really love the effects too. I’m going to be talking about how/when I use this in next week’s post, but if you pick this up please read full instructions on how to use the product and introduce it slowly; this is a chemical peel and if you use it like many people show on TikTok you’re at risk of chemical burns!

What I’m planning:
It’s Matt and I’s third anniversary in September and we’re really hoping to squeeze in a weekend away to celebrate! We would love to go to a spa hotel with a good area to hike/explore around there, but we’re a little reluctant to book somewhere until a little closer to the time as local lockdowns can happen with no notice. We are also looking for the best deal possible, too! It seems our Covid cases are creeping back up again so I’m not sure we want to travel very far, if we’ll even be able to. We’re leaning towards The Lake District or Yorkshire, so if you have any hotel/cabin recommendations please let me know!

What I’m burning:
Before I take a deep dive into my Autumn candles, Matt and I have been burning Somewhere Far Away by Our Lovely Goods this past week. I think the packaging is just so minimalistic and beautiful, I love how it looks sitting on my vanity table whether it’s lit or not. The amber glass jars are just so pretty and unique! All their candles burn so evenly which is really important to me, it bugs me so much when candles tunnel down the middle and you’re left with tons of wasted wax at the end. I also have word from the lovely couple behind OLG that they are launching Autumn scents on September 1st, I cannot wait to pick ten one up! Supporting small businesses is so important – now more than ever. I wrote this post a couple of months ago sharing how you can help if you’re wanting to do more.

What else is new:
Honestly, not much! At the beginning of August Matt and I had a little staycation in Scotland, we stayed in South Queensferry for one night and then spent one night in Edinburgh; we had the most amazing time. We just love everything about Edinburgh, it’s my favourite city ever and I’m so grateful we live close enough that we can visit often. I think I mentioned this a little while ago but I’m having really random stomach issues (that may be gluten related – I really hope not) so fingers crossed I can get that figured out soon. Other than that, I am so happy we’re able to go out to eat again! We’ve got two double dates scheduled in for next week with some amazing friends and we’re going on a date night just the two of us – we never eat out three times in a week but we’re making the most of it while we can and I can’t wait. I’m also really excited that our beauty services are back up and running in the UK, I absolutely love having gel nails again. They make me feel so happy and it’s the best self care treat to myself every couple weeks. I can’t recommend my lovely friend Emma enough; if you’re in the southern Northumberland area go check her out!

Well…. I told you it was a long ‘un! How are you all?! I hope you’ve had a great Summer so far, even though this is hands down the weirdest year we’ve ever experienced. It really teaches you to make the most of the little things, right? See you next week my friends! 🙂 

-G x

Our Bedroom Refresh (On A Budget!)

Hi, loves! 

OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. I accidentally scheduled this post for 8pm instead of 8am. I’ve had a super busy work day and didn’t even realise that it hadn’t gone live, I completely forgot. Also, we’ve had several grey days in a row so the lighting wasn’t great when I took these photos. Never mind 🙂

Today’s post is a little short and a lot sweet, and I really hope it inspires you if you’re looking to freshen up your bedroom too. I love simple, minimal decor and I was a little over everything we had going on in our room. There was a lot of blues and deep greens that I wanted to switch out, but I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money.

You probably already know Matt and I are planning to buy our own house next year and we live with my parents currently. We’re so lucky we all get along so well and are really grateful for this time with them! I wanted to update our space on a small budget, and a lot of the changes I made using things we already had. So, what did I change!?

The change I’m most excited about is a set of fresh bed linen. We already had a nice white set from Next that I purchased probably at least five years ago, but we didn’t have another neutral set to be able to switch out with. So, after a TON of searching I picked up new sheets – the set we got is linked here – and I absolutely love them. They are SO soft, comfy, and have the prettiest minimal detailing. I don’t really like garish patterns on bed linen, but I love that this is so simple and delicate. They duvet/pillows are not a bright white either and look a little muted, so it makes the room feel extra cosy and homey. 

We already had the majority of the other things you can see here; the cream blanket is from Costco and we actually sleep with this instead of our duvet when it’s super hot out. We have the same blanket in three colours and they’re a staple for us all year round! We also had the big cushion at the back which is from Costco too, the beigey/grey (…griege?) one and the two light grey ones in the centre. These were all from Tesco; they have such pretty cushions that are incredibly inexpensive and last so well! I’m pretty sure these are some of their basics that they have consistently throughout the year.

I did pick up the two fluffy beige cushions (I can’t find them anymore online, sorry!) in front from Dunelm, they’re super soft and I love the added texture to the bed. Then, my favorite find that tied all of our new bedding together is the amazing throw draped over the bottom corner. This is actually DKNY brand and has a very high RRP, but I picked it up for £16.99 at Homesense! They have the best throws in pretty much any colour you can imagine. Side note: these were the first “non-essential” stores Matt and I visited since the pandemic began and I hated the shopping experience so much. I’ll be sticking to my weekly grocery runs for a long time, I have zero desire to shop in stores right now.

I removed the majority of items from our windowsill and left it pretty minimal with only a jug/vase (I sometimes have pretty flowers in there!), a Diptyque candle, an Our Lovely Goods candle and our Amazon Echo Dot. I really like the window space to be open and airy! We use our Echo Dot every single night so I like it to be close to our bed; we play sleep sounds and I swear it improves the quality of our sleep so much. Our favourites are Thunderstorm and Wave Sounds! Our curtains are just a super simple, plain grey design that we’ve also had for years. They work perfectly and they keep the sun out in the mornings which is great. Oh… and that plant in the corner is dying and I’m refusing to believe it. I literally cannot keep succulents alive!!!

My bedside table makes me happy. I like it to look full but not cluttered – a very fine line – and honestly the old lamp we had was awful! It leaned to one side and just didn’t give off much light. You know, the point of a lamp… I found this beautiful grey and cream lamp at Matalan for a steal, it looks SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than it was. Seriously, this looks like something you’d get at West Elm for like, a bazillion pounds. I love the slightly distressed design on the base, it’s just perfect to tie in the minimal decor and is really pretty neutral colours. My Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede candle Matt bought me almost two years ago and it’s more of a decoration than anything now, I LOVE it so much don’t want to burn it. I know that’s super silly! My most favourite thing here is my cute little oil diffuser that was a really thoughtful gift from my sweet friend, Grace. We’ve been diffusing lavender essential oil she bought us every night recently and it’s helping us sleep so much better! As you can see I kept just a few of the muted blue tones in the room.

I shared all about my vanity table with you a couple weeks ago, but I did give it a little refresh too! I moved my orchid to the other side, added my Himalayan pink salt lamp from the other side of the room- a must-have for cosy evenings watching TV! – and added a few more candles. Our Lovely Goods is my favourite small business candle brand, and they’re a black owned company who would LOVE your additional support right now. We have ‘Coast’ on the window sill, and ‘Somewhere Far Away’ on my vanity table. I talked about pretty much everything else in my other post, but my rotating skincare organiser and my perfume tray filled with my everyday perfumes are my very favourite things! 

We have a full wall of built-in wardrobes that I designed almost ten years ago, and our TV is inside there. I hate hate hate having a TV on display in a bedroom (I don’t know why, I just think it looks a little garish) but we love to watch TV in bed. We also have two full length mirrors, one free standing and one on the wall, which you’ve probably seen me take selfies in before! We have a good amount of floor space – I like to practice yoga upstairs and there’s tons of room for that too.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this was fun for you guys, and gave you a little inspo if you want to switch a couple things up in your bedroom too! Are you more of a natural, neutral tones person, or do you like lots of colour? Over the past couple years I’ve really appreciated neutral tones more than bright, especially with my clothing. Speaking of, I’m going to be sharing a few of my clothing must-haves on the blog next week! 🙂 

-G x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-G x