Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas Gift Guide for Bloggers





I think us bloggers would all be pretty satisfied on Christmas day if we were to receive a candle, pretty stationary, something rose gold and an inspirational print - a pretty easy bunch to please really! I actually bought the Ban.do diary in gold on Black Friday.. it's just such a beautiful, simple thing to have in your life everyday. Plus, I found this chocolate orange candle in my local garden centre and it was uh-mazing!

I hope this gives you some inspiration for the blogger friends in your life, or you could just treat yourself!
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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Books // One Million Lovely Letters


One Million Lovely Letters by Jodi Ann Bickley

I've wanted to read this book for so long but it's just one I'd not got around to buying. However, I was lucky enough to win it in a giveaway, and it really is one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time.

In 2011, Jodi's life completely changed. What seemed like a fun weekend at Bestival on the Isle of Wight, soon turned into a living nightmare for Jodi, as a small tick bite soon turned into a life threatening illness. Just days after returning home, Jodi became ill experiencing severe symptoms eventually diagnosed as encephalitis. Losing the use of her right side and suffering from terrible headaches, Jodi faced a long recovery during which she also experienced more physical symptoms such as seizures, the break down of two relationships and was consumed by depression which left her suicidal.

However despite all of that, just as Jodi really began to think about taking her own life, she realised that she could either give up or turn her life around by doing something worthwhile. It was then that Jodi sent up One Million Lovely Letters - a website where anyone can request a letter for either themselves or someone else, in order to cheer them up or remind themselves that they are loved and that whatever they're going through, will get better.

And that's exactly what Jodi started to do. People emailed Jodi asking for a lovely letter and she wrote one to them. Handwritten, full of glitter and love, because it means so much more receiving something that has been made with effort and care. Jodi realised that she could use all of her life experiences to help others, remind them of what they do have in life, and give them a moment of happiness during their period of darkness.

Now, if that's not an amazing, inspirational woman.. I don't know what is. This book is genuinely like a warm hug. It will make you smile, feel loved and grateful for everything we have in life, as well as reminding us to connect with people every once in a while instead of being glued to our screens. She really does emphasise that random acts of kindness cost nothing, and will probably make you feel good about yourself too.
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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Christmas with Zazzle*

Last week I was contacted by the lovely Jess, from Zazzle asking if I wanted to check out their site for Christmas gifts, and obviously Christmas + Blogging = YES. I'd heard of Zazzle before but I've never really checked it out however, I was SO impressed by their site and service. Zazzle is basically an online store where you can make customised and personalised everything. You name it, you can personalise it. 

In fact, there is that much choice, I struggled to know what to choose. I know I was supposed to be buying Christmas gifts but that went out of the window and I just shopped for me, as you do. Firstly, I then selected a few bits that I thought my be useful for my trip next year! I went for this beautiful passport holder, because these are obviously the most essential thing needed for 3 months aboard in another country, and also this personalised notebook which I love. Zazzle are really great for customising gifts, and it was so easy to connect to my instagram and upload photos from there.



Then, I chose this print because I am loving prints at the moment. I think they can be so motivating when you're feeling like rubbish, and you just happen to catch it in your eye line. This one does that perfectly!


I asked my Mum if she wanted anything for gifts and she said she wanted to get her boss a personalised Beer Mug, so that's what we did. It came within two days and the quality is actually really good! I really didn't think that it would be as good as it is, but it really is a great gift.


And finally, I designed my own t-shirt. Ages ago, I saw a launch doing tops with the slogan 'Hot, Happy, Healthy' on the front but unfortunately they weren't for sale and resigned myself to the idea of never owning one. But then I thought, why not remake it! I kind of didn't expect much to be honest because usually when you design clothing, the text comes out a bit strange but I love this top! I went for the racerback tank top but there are so many clothing pieces to customise with a whole range of different fonts, which is so good. You can't really tell that it's customised at all either, so I'm definitely going to wear this in Sri Lanka.


Overall, I'm really impressed with Zazzle. They have such a good variety of products that would make great gifts for people this Christmas, or just for yourself. Plus, it's Black Friday tomorrow and Cyber Monday next week, so you're bound to get a good deal!
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Favourite Reads #3


I've been putting more time into reading more blogs recently and I've found some more wonderful reads (and the people who write them). So these are definitely worth a mention and checking out if you haven't already :)

Diary of a Teachaholic: So, the weirdest thing happened - I stumbled across Sarah's blog and didn't recognise who it was at all, but turns out me and Sarah went to school together. Crazy how the blogging world works right? Back story aside, I loved Sarah's blog before realising who it was. She blogs about her job, mental health, life and has some brilliant words of wisdom. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already!

Carly Watts: Carly's blog isn't your average fashion, beauty or lifestyle blog. Instead she shares her illustrations which are soooooooo good. Seriously, Carly creates such cute, detailed pieces of work. I've even used them as my phone backgrounds before because they are just so beautiful. She has a talent that is definitely worth looking at.

Sophie Rosie: I'm a fairly new reader of this blog but I love it just as much as some of the blogs I've been following for years. Sophie mostly shares fashion and lifestyle posts, and she has such a positive outlook on life, which is so nice to see (as well as a brilliant fashion sense). She has such an infectious smile, you can't help but smile when you read her posts.

Enjoy! 
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Friday, 20 November 2015

New Shoes from Online Avenue*

I think if you have lifestyle blogger at one end, and fashion blogger at the other, then I'm definitely at the far side of lifestyle. It's not that I don't like fashion, I do.. but taking an outfit photo isn't really my thing. However, sometimes it's good to try something new!


Online Avenue is an online footwear shop that sells both men's and women's shoes for reasonable prices, stocking pretty much everything from slippers to heels. And I must say, they have a hot collection of heels!

I'm not a massive heel or platform wearer because I'm 5'5 and most of my friends seem to be smaller than me, leaving me towering over them all, but when I was sent these shoes, I was definitely rather pleased! I went for the metallic court strap shoe in candy pink suede because sometimes I think a colourful shoe works really well with a black dress, plus the sound of the colour definitely makes you think disney princess.



I ordered these in a size 7, and they are true to size plus they are a killer heel so make you feel pretty god damn confident! I've just got to learn how to walk in them now as I think they'd be great for the festive season. My only grumble was that the zips at the back were a little stiff to start with but after a while, they were pretty smooth.


I'm really impressed with these shoes to be honest, they remind me of New Look's and Missguided's range. Plus, after looking online I've realised that they do have some really beautiful shoes!



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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Books // Am I Normal Yet?


Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne

Evie is a teenager who suffers from OCD, simply longing to be normal. The beginning of the book starts well, as Evie is almost ready to come off her medication, she's doing well in therapy and she has a great set of friends who don't know that she suffers from a mental illness. However, as she is considerably better than she has been in ages, Evie joins in with what she believes is normal for teenagers - parties, drinking and relationships.

Evie begins to get involved with a boy named Guy, who isn't perhaps the nicest boy she could have chosen to fall in love with. The book follows Evie try to overcome her OCD whilst pretending to be fine, and keep up appearances with her friends and Guy. However, the pressure and anxiety becomes a little overwhelming, and Evie finds herself slipping backwards, consumed once again by her OCD.

Although I did enjoy this book, I should probably mention that this book is most definitely aimed at teenagers/young adults. It's written for a younger audience, very informal and that narrative is quite chatty, so it's probably not for everyone. However, I read this anyway because it is really good at explaining what it's like to live with OCD. People think that OCD is when you're obsessed with order and routine, for example consistently washing your hands, when really that's just perfectionism. OCD would be washing your hands in order to prevent an obsessive thought coming true. So, you'd be washing your hands because you fear getting ill, therefore by washing your hands, you won't contract an illness. That is a very simple explanation and I can only imagine that that is amplified one million times over. OCD is very intrusive, controlling and not what people really think it is, so this book is fantastic at explaining what it's really like.

Finally, it's also a great reminder to us all that there is no normal. We often chase 'normality' but it's a completely unrealistic expectation and therefore drive ourselves nuts because we're aiming for the unattainable. This book is great for reinforcing the idea that what is normal for you, is probably not normal for me, and that is more than OK.
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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Beating the Winter Blues


Winter is probably a season that resembles marmite, you either love it or hate it. Festive ocassions, open fires, cosy film nights, seasonal comfort food all make for good reasons to love it but I know the dark, damp days, and the sadness that Christmas can sometimes bring to a household, can make this time of year much harder for some.

I say it's like marmite, but I think I sit firmly in the middle. I love Christmas but I absolutely hate the cold weather, early nights and lack of sunshine. And I know a lot of the time, the lack of sun and darkness can really bring our mood down. Some of us probably experience a mild form of the 'Winter Blues' and others might suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't really suffer - I get a bit fed up sometimes but that's all - however, I do have some ideas for those of you who do..

1. Soak up as much light as possible. Sit next to windows, wake up a little earlier, make your room bright and spacious. Or try light therapy - invest in a lamp designed for S.A.D, which can help bring artificial light, hopefully boosting your mood.

2. Talk to someone. The easiest thing when written down on paper but the one thing we all put off doing, despite us all knowing we'll feel so much better for doing so.

3. Exercise. I'm not saying 5 miles on a treadmill but rather a walk around the block in natural daylight. Failing that, do some housework - vacuum the stairs or wrestle with bed as you try to put fresh bedding on. Small activities work just as well.

4. Do something you enjoy. I think we all think that when the dark nights draw in, we're now stuck inside with nothing but TV to watch. Instead, go out. Go to the cinema, pub, ice skating, bowling..

5. Be kind to yourself. If you want that mince pie, have it. If you want a nap, sleep. Your body will reward you and feel amazing if you treat it well.

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I don't know about you, but now that bonfire night is over and done with, I'm on the countdown to Christmas now! I'm one of those people who has done their Christmas shopping and wrapped it all by December 1st, has been listening to the soundtracks throughout all November, and whips the Christmas jumpers out on December 1st. I've not always been like this but it's now safe to say I love Christmas!

As I've not been able to really decorate for 3 years, being and Uni and all, this year I'm going ALL out. So I've picked up two pieces so far that I'm really in love with and thought I'd share on here. I treated myself to this Yankee Candle Advent calendar as I loved it last year, and managed to get it for£18 in boots, thanks student discount, I still love you! It contains 23 tea lights and 1 votive candle in the scents Christmas Memories, Angels Wings, Cinnamon Stick, Icicles, Christmas Garland, Snowflake Cookie and Christmas Eve. I love having it alongside the traditional chocolate one, of course..



And secondly, I went to my local garden centre, which has the most beautiful Christmas decorations I've seen in a long time. I just couldn't leave without this adorable penguin. I think it's going to look perfect under a little fibre optic tree or on my window ledge with some fairy lights.



And finally, I've bought this game for Christmas because just how cute and awesome does it look? It's called 'Peel the Sprout' so I think it resembles your traditional pass the parcel type of game, only it's a sprout! God, I'm such a kid at heart.


I am thinking this probably won't be the last Christmas post but there's nothing wrong with a bit of Christmas spirit is there? Have you started shopping yet or are you a scrooge? ;) 
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Monday, 9 November 2015

Seven Smiles

Hello! Happy Monday and all that. After seeing a few posts like this, I'd thought I'd create my own version of things that have put a smile on my face as it's such a lovely way of reminding yourself of the little things in life, isn't it?

1. Christmas cups are back! On Saturday, I met a good friend on my break for coffee and she returned with a festive cup, which instantly had to be instagrammed obviously.. This definitely means Christmas can now be talked about doesn't it?



2. Music. I've really been getting into listening to music again recently, maybe it's because I drive a lot and the radio is always on? I'm really loving being up to date with everything though.. especially Adele, Sam Smith and Ben Haenow's new songs.

3. One Million Lovely Letters. I was lucky enough to win Adele's book giveaway last week and it immediately put a smile on my face. I've been wanting to read this book for a while now so it was a lovely surprise :)



4. Work. After writing a previous post, I've come to the decision that I'm actually going be to leaving my job before Christmas. I'm tired, fed up and overworked and I know that if I worked over Christmas, I'd be extremely unhappy. So, I'm not going to. I can feel a shift in my attitude already, and now I know I have Christmas to look forward to!

5. Happy Birthday Mark! Today is my brother's 19th Birthday, which we celebrated with a small family meal yesterday. I won't see him today as I'm doing a 12 hour shift but Happy Birthday bro!

6. Spectre. I actually hate James Bond but I went to see the new one last week and it's the best thing I've watched in ages. I loved it! Let's put it this way, I don't usually pay to watch films, but I'd consider buying the DVD of this.



7. 200 Followers. I know it's not a massive number, but last week I hit 200 followers and I'm so grateful to each and everyone of you that reads this blog. I never thought I'd ever see my blog grow this much so thank you!

I hope you have a lovely week, whatever you're doing :)

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Friday, 6 November 2015

Losing Control


Albus Dumbledore is without a doubt, my favourite Harry Potter character.

Why? Well, although he is completely fictional, some of my favourite words are of lines of his.

Of course it's happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it isn't real?

I've written a few times on here now that I consider myself recovered from Anorexia, but that doesn't mean my interest in mental health has decreased. Quite the opposite really, as I love nothing more than to try and help others, even if it's simply offering an ear to talk to. Someone joked with me the other day that 'we're the crazy ones' and I immediately thought that I'm actually not crazy any more, but really I never was. Although we joke, crazy isn't the word we should use to describe someone suffering from a mental illness.

Mental illnesses aren't just us going crazy. They are illnesses of the brain, caused by a number of reasons (changes in our brain chemistry, genes, personal life events, blah blah..). Ultimately, they develop and we don't have control over that. It's like our brain has been invaded and we can't really stop it from happening. 

Imagine that you're a puppet being controlled by someone else. You have no say in what you do or say. Terrifying, right?

That is kind of how it's like to live with an illness you have no control over. The difference is, mental health cannot be seen which makes it one million times harder to both admit to and talk about.

I've recently come to realise that the fear of losing of control is present amongst many mental illnesses. It certainly was for me but I just assumed that was a characteristic of Anorexia. I was so wrong because it seems to crop up over and over. If only we talked more and shared stories, the more we'd learn and overcome, eh? 

And this is why I love Dumbledore. I still meet people who think they're crazy for fearing being out of control. Just because it cannot be seen doesn't mean that it isn't real. Just because someone else doesn't understand how you're feeling, doesn't mean what you're feeling is shameful. And just because it's going on in your head doesn't mean that what you're experiencing doesn't exist. 

It's very real to you and that is what matters.
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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Books // Little Girl Gone


Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt

Estelle Paradise is found in a car crash miles away from her home, with head injuries and a severe case of amnesia. Just days before, Estelle's baby daughter was taken from her cot but Estelle hadn't reported her missing.

Whilst in hospital recovering from her car crash, Estelle's husband decides that it's best she goes into a psychiatric hospital in order to recover her memory. Estelle does, and is treated by Dr Ari who specialises in memory retrieval. The book then alternates between the present and flashes back to before the baby went missing which is where we learn that Estelle and her husband's relationship was far from perfect, and she also happened to suffer from both depression and psychosis. This then leads to the questioning of whether she herself is responsible for the absence of her daughter.

The book is described as a mixture of Girl on the Train (which I happened to love) and Gone Girl, placing it quite nicely into the psychological thriller genre. It is both gripping and frustrating, as we are slowly fed information as Estelle recovers her memory.

I can't say I raced to the end of this book but it was a very good read and one I'd recommend if you're patient enough to find out what happens right at the very end. It's also only 99p on amazon for kindle at the moment, so you can't go wrong with that!
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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Hello November



November..

I'm not one for wishing time away, in fact I really dislike it. I hate the idea of wishing your life away when we only get one, and who knows if we'll see tomorrow. That being said, it's all I seem to be currently doing because the excitement of quitting my job in January and going to Sri Lanka is beginning to creep in. Oh and not to mention I can upgrade my phone on the 23rd of this month.. it's all about the small things in life eh? ;)

Truth is, I am totally and completely fed up of my job. I hate to write that actually because I love nothing more than to help people, to make them smile and to be there but the hours are exhausting and unfortunately, it's just not worth it. Finishing at 11pm to then restart at 7am is completely ridiculous, not to mention dangerous for both me and my clients. Concentration dwindles, and in a world involving medication and driving, it's not ideal as you can imagine.

However, now that the dark nights are back, I can't help but feel a certain cosiness to this month. Burning fires, fireworks, beautiful colours.. and the Christmas spirit that is beginning to float around in shops, television and advertisements,  definitely begins to bring an air of magic into our lives. I am someone who loves Christmas and started Christmas shopping last month. Yes, I am one of those people. I just like everything to be perfect; well thought out and meaningful.

So for now, I'll persevere. I'll persevere with my job and try and enjoy the last two months because one thing's for sure, I won't be returning to it. I'll focus on the good and loved ones because that's what matters.
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