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Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Everyday Blog Reads

These day's there's so many good blogs around, it's hard to keep up with them all. I'm always looking out on Twitter or through others recommendations for new blogs to read, but there's several that I find myself visiting on a daily basis. I've seen a few people talking about their favourite blog reads and I thought it was time I shared mine.

I've read Becky's blog for years, and I'm a huge fan. She talks about absolutely everything on her blog, and writes some amazing personal posts on subjects like anxiety. She's also lovely to talk to on Twitter, definitely worth a check out!

I think Hayley's blog was the first one I ever came across, and boy am I glad I did. Hayley knows everything when it comes to beauty products, and is somewhat of a blogging guru. I can't go a day without reading through her blog.

Lovely Jubbly Blog
I've been reading Jess's blog constantly for over three years now, and it still keeps me interested to look back on everyday. Her reviews are honest and thorough, and she's got some great gift guides up at the moment!

Since discovering Caroline Hirons blog I've learnt so much about skincare, this woman knows everything! She's also made some great skincare cheat sheets so if there's ever anything you need to know, she's covered it. 

Sandra's blog is just beautiful, she takes the most amazing photos that make me want to learn to use my DSLR a lot better. Not only that but she writes some amazing reviews, and does some amazing looking makeup looks.

The Sunday Girl
Adrienne's blog is where I go to if I'm looking for a particular review, she seems to have reviewed absolutely everything! She also has some amazing MAC lipstick swatches, it's definitely one to check out.

Beauty Queen UK
Since discovering Rachel's blog I can't stop reading it. Her reviews are great, and she's influenced a lot of my beauty purchases. She writes amazing blog posts pretty much daily, always has time to natter away to me on Twitter, and has some adorable cats that she posts photos of on her Instagram.

Miss Budget Beauty
I've been watching Mikhila on YouTube for years, and I'm completely addicted to her vlogs lately, but I also adore her blog. Just like her YouTube it's full of personality and honest reviews, with new posts going up daily.

Make-Up Pixi3
I love Georgina's photography on her blog, she always has such clear sharp images! Her blog is full of everything you need to know about make up, as well as some great SEO advice.

Tattooed Tealady
Sophia's blog has been constantly bookmarked in my Bloglovin' feed since I've found it. She uses some amazing photography, and has brilliant make up related posts, as well as home and some tasty recipes! 

These are the top blogs I check out on a daily basis without fail, what blogs do you find you check out daily?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Making My Own Christmas Decorations

I like to think of myself as a creative person, always having some sort of craft project on the go. Sadly I'm not the best at making things, and I'm really not artistic, but it doesn't stop me having a go! This year I wanted to have a go at making my own Christmas decorations to put myself in the festive spirit. I'm absolutely hopeless at sewing and always manage to stab myself, so I found these pre-made Christmas decorations from Hobbycraft that only needed you to paint them, perfect for me. Despite having the painting skills of a two year old, I armed myself with some festive shades of paint and a whole load of glitter. Turns out using glitter and glue is a lot more difficult than I expected and it got everywhere! Despite all this I've stuck them up on my version of a Christmas tree in my room to bring in some festive cheer! 

I'm also entering this as a competition entry for Victoria's Vintage's competition with Able Skills in the hope that my skills might get better in 2015. You can read more about the competition here.

Favourite Skincare Products For Winter Weather

During the cold winter months my skin really starts to suffer. It becomes dry, sore, and I often get horrible flaky bits of skin. Going from cold to warm all the time really starts to play a toll on my skin, so during the colder months I like to step up my skincare game, and use some products to help out during the winter weather.

I always start my skincare routine off with a cleanser, and during the winter I like to turn to Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish. It works as a gentle hot cloth cleanser, and feels really soothing with my skin is particularly sore. Soap & Glory's The Greatest Scrub Of All is my go to exfoliator for this time of the year, not only does it help to get rid of all my dry flaky patches, but it feels like it's putting some hydration back into my skin. I usually find that some exfoliators can dry out your skin, but using this a few times a week seems to give some life back into mine. When it comes to face masks I tend to focus on getting some hydration back into my skin, and my favourite for that is Origin's Drink Up. I leave it on for 10 minutes, or even longer if my skin is feeling very dry, and I'm left with softer, smoother skin, it's a complete life savoir this time of the year! 

I always make sure I use a serum during the winter weather months, and my current favourite is Soap & Glory's Make Yourself Youthful. It doesn't leave my skin feeling sticky like some serums do, and quickly makes my skin feel hydrated. I often get dry sore patches around my eyes because of the cold weather, but using Clinique's All About Eyes really helps them to feel less sore. Applying it even feels soothing, as it's got a cool, gel like consistency. I've sworn by this eye cream for years, and I don't know how I'd get through the cold weather months without it. I always make sure my moisturisers are right for the winter months, and my favourite day cream is The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisture Cream, it just seems to work wonders for me. When it comes to night cream I like to use Weleda's Skin Food as an overnight intensive treatment to help get rid of my dry patches, and when I wake up in the morning it seems to have done the trick.

I think I seemed to have found the right combination of products to help my skin out this winter, do you have any products you find really help your skin out in the winter?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Christmas Tag

I swear all I'm blogging about lately is Christmas - I can't help it, it's my favourite time of the year! The lovely Jess from Lovely Jubbly tagged me in her Christmas tag, and well it would be rude to not join in! 

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?
It's A Wonderful Life. No idea why it's my favourite, I remember having to watch it at school and since then I've loved it. I always watch it every year, and this year Chris took me to see it at an independent cinema in London for our anniversary. Last Christmas I tried to watch it on Christmas eve with my Grandad, who just kept saying 'there's nothing wonderful about life' the whole way through, ta Grandad. 

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning!! At home we all get up and have breakfast together and then open our presents, taking it in turns so that we can all see what we got. It's a very civilised affair.

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
So many! I think last Christmas was my favourite, as I spent it with my parents, brother, grandparents, and my other half. Our house was full and I just got to spend the whole day with my grandparents, who I don't get to see a lot. There was nothing big going on, but it was just lovely to spend time with my family at Christmas.

4. Favourite festive food?
Sausages wrapped in bacon! I'm completely addicted to these, and we always make mum make them every year! I'm not spending Christmas with my parents this year, but I hope there's still sausages wrapped in bacon for my Christmas dinner!

5. Favourite Christmas gift?
What ever? Hmm.. I don't think I can name just one. A couple of years a go my parents bought me a Kindle, which I still love. And I remember as a child I always seemed to get some amazing toys, it's hard to choose, I don't think I can name just one. 

6. Favourite Christmas scent?
Gingerbread! I love gingerbread. Last year I made a ridiculous gingerbread house and I could just smell it for days.

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Yes. Every year my dad insisits we sit with him on Chistmas eve and he reads us The Night Before Christmas. It was probably cute when we were children, but we're both now in our early 20's... Although this year I won't be there so maybe I'll escape!

8. What tops your tree?
Some light up star thing.

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
I don't think I've ever asked for any crazy gifts when I was a child, not that I can remember anyway. I always joke I want another cat, but sadly I don't think I'll be getting one.

10. What's the best part about Christmas for you?
As cheesy as it sounds, spending it with family. I don't have a big family, and this year especially we've gone through a hell of a lot. I just love spending time with family, and seeing their faces when I give them presents. This year is the first Christmas I'm spending without my parents, but I'm really looking forward to spending it with Chris's, especially as he hardly gets to see them since he's moved down south. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Stress Busting Tips

Christmas time can be quite stressful. I know I'm certainly starting to feel stressed out. Have I bought everyone a present? Is there enough wrapping paper? What if I run out of tags? Do I have enough sellotape? Will everyone like their presents?!?! Not only that but I'm driving up north to my other halves parents for Christmas so I'm worrying about will my rubbish car make it up there? and what will the motorway traffic be like?!? There's just so many things I'm stressing out over. Christmas shouldn't be a time of stress and worrying, it should be about laughter and joy, so I've come up with a few ideas to help de-stress over Christmas.

1. Write Things Down
Half the time the things I worry about are either in my head, or can be easily solved. First thing I do is write a list of everything I'm worrying about, then I can work out what I need to do. If I'm worried I don't have enough presents for everyone I write down what I've got everyone and check I have enough, and if I don't it's a last minute dash to the shops!

2. Make A Big Cup Of Tea
Tea makes everything better, and when I'm super stressed out I make a big cup of chamomile tea and read a good book, it always does the trick.

3. Have Some 'Me Time'
When I'm feeling particularly stressed out or rubbish I make sure I treat myself to some 'me time'. A good book or magazine, a bubble bath, or even one of my favourite films always seems to pick me up.

4. Get A Good Nights Sleep
There's nothing like waking up after a goodnights sleep, but if you're stressed out that's not always possible. Try and relax before you go to bed and this will help you to get a goodnights sleep, which will certainly help you to feel less stressed. 

5. Spend Time With My Favourite Furry Friend
Pets are amazing for de-stressing, and luckily for me my house is full of cats. Spending some time with my cats always calms me down, pets are amazing healers. 

If you're looking for some great de-stress tips you should visit Time4Sleep's Relaxation Zone, which has loads of useful articles and advice to help you de-stress this Christmas. There's also some Spotify playlists to give you some easy listening, as well as some stress free websites and Subreddits, there's everything you need for a stress-free Christmas this year.

*Collaborative Post

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Sunday Post #19 - Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. Since the end of November I've been planning all sorts of Christmas fun, making cards, wrapping presents, and decorating the house. Every year we put up our fake Christmas tree and decorate it in the front room, but upstairs in my bedroom there aren't really any festive decorations. This year I decided to change this, and I bought some festive bedsheets, and decided to decorate my bedroom. Since Chris moved in we don't have a lot of space upstairs, but I decided we needed our own Christmas tree and decorations, when I came across this small decorative twig tree from Hobbycraft. 

The tree didn't take up too much space, and fits nicely on my chest of drawers next to my The Body Shop Advent calender, and being white it matches my room! The tree it's self looks really bare, and of course you can't have a Christmas tree without decorations, so I looked into making my own decorations. Luckily Hobbycraft has some great decoration making sets, and I armed myself with some paint and glitter and got to work. Sadly I didn't inherit my mum's ability to paint, but these we're really easy to decorate, and I don't think they look too bad. 

My little Christmas tree now sits all decorated in the corner of my room, making a great festive addition. I think I might try and be a bit more ambitious next year, and maybe try and sew some of my own decorations, or even make this tree into an advent calender. Either way I'm now super excited for Christmas, with only 11 more days to go!

*Products were supplied from Hobbycraft

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guest Post - What Really Happens When You Get A PR Sample and How To Better Work with PR's

Life has been very busy lately with the run up to Christmas and a very busy day job, so the blog has got a bit neglected, and luckily for me Laura came about just at the right time offering me a guest post! Laura writes at six out of tenan online lifestyle and travel magazine for those with a serious case of wanderlust (but whose feet remain firmly in one spot). She works in travel communications, loves candy floss and salted caramel, and plans to live in Bora Bora one day.

We all want them. The little freebies that are a tiny, tiny reward for all the promotion and advertising we give our favourite brands, hotels, and eateries for free. For the hours we spend writing, then rewriting, editing and reediting. For snapping away with our camera come rain or shine, light or no light. For the creative input we put into our little space of the web.

But what actually happens when you get a PR sample?

I’ll explain.

You’ll approach the PR, or the PR would have found your blog through one of her channels. Perhaps she’s been following you on twitter via a secret list, or maybe she saw a comment on another blogger’s post. She likes what you write, how you write and what you’re going to be writing about. You exchange stats – she gives you an estimated value of what they can offer, and you provide details of the coverage and reach she can expect.

You talk about her KPIs (key performance indicators a.k.a how she proves to her client they’ve got value for money in investing in you), and she’ll probably ask what you’ll be providing in terms of content. One blog post? Two? Social coverage? Bringing a blogger friend along?

The PR will then go to the client. Let’s call the client Hotel Macaron. The manager of Hotel Macaron will have a look at the blogger’s work. He’ll discuss with the PR and executives the likelihood they’ll get a good ROI (return on investment) should they offer you a room, and if all looks good, the review will be arranged.

The PR will then pass on the details you need. A room will be reserved as per usual, et voila! Sorted!

How to make her job easier: Try not to be too fussy about dates, and if you can only stay at a weekend  be sure to suggest a few dates out of peak season/local events.

Following the same pattern above, the PR and restaurant this time will need to weigh up whether you’re given a free-for-all (as in order what you want from the menu), if you’re given a limit such as a main and bottle of house wine, or if you’re given a tab up to the value of £xyz.

The PR’s aim is to push a certain angle the client wants coverage on. Perhaps a cafe has just hired a new barista and their coffee art is a hipster’s dream, or maybe the barman’s just won an award and she’ll want you to showcase their award-winning cocktails. They may have a seasonal menu crafted by the chef they need to promote.

Again, the PR will go to management, and they’ll decide on the details. They’ll also more than likely give the PR a few days and times to book you in – this usually coincides with the waiters and staff who’ve been briefed on working with bloggers before and won’t spit in your soup.

Once it’s arranged, it’s just up to you to arrive and (hopefully) enjoy!

How to make her job easier: Try to book a quiet night, when staff aren’t too busy and can run you through the menu. Offer to speak to the chef, too. Always a plus.

Beauty samples
This works a little differently, as usually the cost is a lot lower. A hotel or restaurant will cost time, and more importantly, space – if you’re in their bed at night, it means a paying customer isn’t.

However, a moisturiser might cost £90 from your dermatologist’s clinic, but it’s nowhere near as expensive to buy in and there’s bound to be plenty of them from the supplier. So they may offer you a choice of product, or give you one item from the range. Again, the brand may feel sales could do with a boost, or it could be part of a new line.

The brand itself might arrange which product and get it sent out, however more than likely it’ll be you and the PR working together.

The way this works differently is because she will more than likely be given, say, 20 samples to distribute to bloggers over the course of a few weeks. If you’re one of them, she won’t even need to speak to the client, she’ll get it sent out based on her instinct – she’ll be aware of you and your circles, your reach, and her own KPIs. She’ll then present an overall performance report based on the coverage that group of bloggers.

This is why if your stats look good on the outside, it’s fairly easy to get a beauty review. Most of the time it’s about getting masses of coverage. Think: Apocalips.

How to make her job easier: Show examples of previous brands you’ve worked with, and give a date when the review will be live by. She’s working with a lot of bloggers, you NEED to stand out if you want to get into her contact book.

Remember, at all times a PR is accountable to her own manager, and the client. The client might offer a review, then decide they don’t want to work with that blogger any more. They may have found a blogger has already brought in the business they need, so their funds are best allocated elsewhere. Or they might just be an awkward nightmare and never reply to her emails and calls.

A PR is the middle (wo)man between you and a brand who doesn’t want to do the dirty work. Make her job easier, and you’ll have a friend for life. Promise.

If you enjoyed this post make sure you check six out of ten out - there's many more great posts like this!