This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

I am writing this in the midst of storm Doris…. she’s a windy one….

These past weeks have been both busy and uneventful! I got ‘The Cold’ so spent a good 5 days flat on my back (that’s what she said) trying to stop snot coming out of my nose. I’m feeling almost all the way better now, which is awesome.

The time I spent resting meant I wasn’t able to film or post as much as I had wanted, but I did manage to watch the whole of season 2 of How to Get Away With Murder. Now I just have to wait for Netflix to hurry up and get the third season up.

Last week I posted a really nerve-wracking blog post on the subject of mental health. It had some opinions in there that I’d not really heard anyone else speak out about, and I don’t tend to blog about my mental health a whole lot, so I was worried what people might think. But the response has been 100% supportive and many people agreed with me, so that was awesome.

I also posted the first part of my make-up tour video on my YouTube channel, and I’ve had so many comments, views and new subscribers! When I say ‘so many’ I mean more than 2 or 3 which is my standard – I’m so grateful for all of the interactions I receive, and this time around it’s been lovely to see so many new faces!

I also finally found the majority of my costume for the Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge event we’re attending towards the end of the March. It’s handy that there’s a bit of a corset trend happening at the moment, because there was quite a bit to choose from. I don’t want to go full corset because that’s really not my style, but thankfully my character isn’t that kind of girl, so I’m pretty pleased with what I managed to pick up!

I ended my working week on Wednesday last week, and had two days off as I’m using up my holiday allowance at work. I’m saw some friends, and visited London, so expect some more videos soon! It’d been so long since I just had a solo mooch around the city!

Anyhow, if you want to watch my latest video, you can find it below – it’s a long one so grab a cuppa!

 

Mental Health: A New Trend?

Trying to explain an anxiety disorder to someone who doesn’t have one is nearly impossible. It’s kind of like trying to describe a migraine to someone who’s only ever had a headache.

And it’s not the person to whom you’re talking’s fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just really hard. In fact it’s even hard to explain your kind of disorder to someone else who suffers.

Personally my anxiety disorder presents itself in lots of ways. It can be triggered by many things, and it’s so inflicting that it can make all my muscles seize so I can’t even move. My brain can switch off, everything goes slow motion and I sometimes won’t even know until after it’s happened.

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But this blog isn’t about that. We now live in a time where it’s more common to speak out about mental health. And as much as there’s still a HUGE way to go and reducing the stigma attached to mental health issues, people are still going for it, and trying to make others aware of it.

But I have a few concerns. There are so many people who will just fling terms around. “I’m so OCD I have to keep all my shoes in pairs” or “That ugly sweater gives me anxiety”. No one can tell whether these people really suffer, and who am I to say that they don’t. But it is starting to appear that a select few are wearing mental health issues as if it will make them more interesting. Something to add a little drama into their life.

Even Jennifer Lawrence, whilst being interviewed on The Tonight Show alongside Jessie Eisenberg recently, flippantly said ‘You’re the most interesting person’ and ‘I want weird quirks’ just minutes after he had opened up about his severe OCD. No one who has OCD *wants* OCD.

And in an episode of Veronica Mars (if you don’t know what that is, you seriously need to Google it and watch!) students were claiming GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) to get out of exams. It was so normalised that it penalised any students that really did have it.

My fear is just that, that people who really suffer from it are being washed away by those seeking attention. I hope I’m wrong.

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My second concern is one that I have zero basis to believe will happen – it’s merely a fear (heck, it’s an anxiety). I love how much anxiety and mental health disorders are being talked about. It’s fantastic that people are trying to end the stigma surround them. I myself don’t openly talk about it to my colleagues or even really bring it up to friends unless it’s relevant. I know, not with friends or family, but in the work place mainly it can alter how people treat you. I’ve seen it happen, not so much in my current job, but in past places, where I feel like your capabilities are questioned. Luckily if ever I’ve had to mention it at work to my direct boss I’ve been met with support and understanding. But I do have a concern that if having a mental health problem is normalised too much, it won’t be taken seriously.

I’ll go back to my headache analogy. If someone tells you they have a headache you expect them to take a pill and carry on, but you have no idea how it’s affecting that person. Their head might be splitting, it might have gotten so bad they need a dark room or a sleep. It might even be a migraine. You have no idea how it’s affecting that person. But headaches are normal, they affect so many people and they’re so common. Anxiety is common, affects so many people but you have no idea how it’s affecting someone at that time. My fear is that I tell someone I have really bad anxiety and because it’s so normalised they tell me to sit quietly or take a pill and expect me to carry on as normal. They just brush is off, and don’t realise how seriously it’s affecting me at that time, because it’s ‘just anxiety’. Sometimes with a migraine you need to take days away from normal life to recover. Sometimes with anxiety you need to remove yourself for weeks.

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It’s selfish and hopefully wrong, but for that reason I almost don’t want GAD to be normalised too much. I guess I just want it understood. I don’t want to feel brushed under the carpet, because my struggle is real, so so real. And I really don’t want it to become the next fad, like veganism or yoga.

I think for now, I’ll leave it at that. I don’t really want to go into my own experiences in too much detail. I still find talking about it, and even reading other people’s experiences, a bit of a trigger. I just wanted to put words to ‘paper’ and put them out there. I also don’t want to offend with anything I’ve written, so hopefully this hasn’t. I can’t control my fears and in this instance, this is just how current events have made me feel.

I wonder if anyone else feels the same as me?

Blogging Tools I Can’t Live Without

Since I’ve been blogging for quite some time now, I thought I’d share some of the tools that have come to be invaluable to me.

Technically, you just need your brain and a platform and you’re all set, but there are a few things I’ve come to appreciate as tools I just can’t live without when blogging.

First of all, my laptops. I have a Microsoft HP and a MacBook Pro. I don’t have a word processing package on my Mac so tend to do most of my writing on the HP laptop, unless I’m writing straight into my blogging platform.

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WordPress is my platform of choice, having used a few different ones over the years. I like that even on a free package you can produce a customisable and professional looking blog. It’s flexible and you rarely see two blogs looking the same. It has its glitches, but what website don’t? I feel like at some point in the future I’ll need to move to self-hosted or a paid account, but until then it works just fine, thank you very much. As well as the web-based platform, I have the WordPress app. It’s not without its limitations, but is handy for replying to comments, checking stats and uploading images on the go. You can write posts on there too but I prefer to do that on a computer, mainly because I’m rubbish and slow at word processing on my phone!

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For cameras, I switch between my Canon EOS 400D, Sony a5000 and my iPhone 7 Plus. I’ve been using my SLR less of late for the reasons you’ll read in a moment, but even though it’s kind of old now I love the quality of photos I get from it. My Sony a5000 has earned its cost times over. I love how small it is, the quality of photo and video and it’s light. But other than that, the Wifi function comes in so so handy. I can take a photo, send it to my phone and then edit it, upload and publish it, all within 5 minutes of capturing the shot. The iPhone 7 Plus is pretty awesome for taking photos too, and though I haven’t had it long, I can already see the difference in lens quality with the shots I’ve taken.

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As well as using my iPhone for images, I have a tonne of apps I use for blogging. Here are a few of them.

I’ve mentioned the WordPress app so I won’t go into that again. I use Buffer to scheduling tweets, which I don’t do all that much, but it’s good to have an easy app to do it when I want to. Twitter (of course), Facebook and Instagram – I don’t really have to tell you what those do, right?

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Lightroom app for iOS is awesome for photo editing. The auto presets are a great place to start, and then you can tweak until your heart’s content.

As an amateur photographer, I’ve been uploading to Flickr for over 10 years now, so it’s almost as though I have my own iStock of photos on there. It’s awesome because I pretty much have a photo already taken for a lot of posts I might want to write. So, if I ever don’t have the time to take photos, I can usually pull from there. The Flickr app allows me to save my own photos and then I can upload them to WordPress. Job done!

As I begin to venture into the world of YouTube, the YouTube app has come in very handy, as has the YouTube Creator Studio app. It shows me views, stats, trends and comments all from one place. It also allows me to push videos live, share and copy links right from the app.

For planning I like to use the notes section on my phone, when out at about, and for proper planning I’ll use my Ultimate Blog Planner from Dot Creates. This planner allows me to make in depth notes, or even start writing the blog there and then. There are sections where I can write prompts for photo ideas I’ve had too. It’s really invaluable.

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Photo lighting comes in the form of either the Earth’s sun or, because this is England, I have a pair of softbox lights which I use for both photography and video. They’re pretty new to me so I’m still getting the hang of them, but I love the natural light they throw out. You can find the set I bought from Amazon here!

Other than on my phone, for photo editing on my laptop I use a really old version of Paint Shop Pro. I could upgrade but I know this software like the back of my hand, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I also use this software to make any graphics I need for my blog or elsewhere.

So, those are my ‘can’t do without’ blogging tools. I hope this helps you with your blog planning and editing, and please let me know if you use something you love that I haven’t mentioned!

Why I….. Started Reverse Washing My Hair

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I have what I would consider to be unmanageable hair. It’s poker straight, really fine and very flyaway. I can put my hair up in a pony tail and it’s the thinnest pony tail you’ve ever seen.

So, for the longest time I have to work hard to make my hair more coarse, less sleek and try to get some body and volume to it. I use Bumble and Bumble surf spray to add texture, and dry my hair in a twist to add shape.

My hair is colour treated – when it’s not, it’s too fine. I’ve died my hair red for 18 years, and in amongst those years I’ve also bleached it, which is what I do currently. I have a red/brown dye which I then top with blonde highlights so they go different shades of ginger and blonde. I love doing this and it definitely dries my hair out enough to give it some texture.

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I’ve used Aussie shampoo and conditioner for years. I like the way it makes my hair feel, it doesn’t coat my hair with silicone and it allows me to wash my hair every other day with no problems. Aussie shampoos and conditioners contain sulphates, which some people say is bad for your hair and strips hair colour. But I actually like my bleached bits to fade pretty fast once they’re done, so I can get the different tones to develop as briskly as possible.

When I heard about reverse hair washing, I think it was around the time that Tresemme released their reverse washing system. I don’t really like Tresemme so I didn’t head out and pick up their kit, but I did hop onto Google to see what the fuss was.

Reverse hair washing is simply using conditioner before you shampoo, instead of the other way around. Apparently it doesn’t work effectively with all types of shampoo and conditioner, but I didn’t want to splurge on more when I had a practically full bottle at home. The reverse washing method is supposed to be great for fine hair because conditioner can weigh hair down, so if you don’t end with it, but still condition, it can leave your hair feeling lighter.

After a little light research I discovered a method I liked the sound of. You wet your hair completely, condition well from the mid-length to the ends, leaving the roots (I can get greasy hair if I condition the roots too much) and then massage the hair. Leave it about a minute, if you have time, and then grab the shampoo. You then wash the conditioner out using the shampoo. This way the shampoo doesn’t strip your hair completely, as the conditioner is acting as a kind of barrier.

I washed my hair this way a couple of times, and didn’t really see a difference to start with. During this first week I also dyed and bleached my hair, and I did find the bleach settled in faster using the reverse method. But since I wasn’t seen a difference I went back to washing my hair the traditional way. After leaving it two days I started to wish I’d continued.

It was a subtle difference, but my hair did feel more manageable, healthier and when I combed my wet hair through directly after washing using the reverse method there were much less knots. So I went back to it!

I’ve been washing my hair ‘backwards’ now for over a month, and I’m converted. I really like how my hair feels. Like I said, it’s a really subtle difference, but I enjoy the way my hair feels, the condition of it and it’s less knotty. I even think it’s shinier!

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So, I’m going to carry on washing my hair this way for the forseeable future!

Have you tried this method of hair washing? How did you find it? Are you converted?

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

February has hit with a smash and a bang. Just as we’re trying to get used to the New Year, to the new “President” (I kinda like writing it that way) and longing for the Spring, we’ve been greeted with February. The groundhog says it’s going to be a long winter, but I’m hoping he’s just rodent with a long shadow.

I seem to be on a never-ending spending spree, and every weekend congratulate myself for a whole week without buying something, only to remember something I just bought or to go out a treat myself. This needs to stop, but at the same time there’s always something I need or want.

This week ColourPop got me with a new range of lip products called ‘Blotted Lips’.

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I knew I needed to get them, but with ColourPop being so hard to ship to the UK (not to mention expensive) and with the sting of customs charges, I didn’t think it would be on the cards. But then my American friend told me she was heading to visit family in a couple of weeks and would I like her to pick anything up for me. I knew this was meant to be so asked if I could ship something to her parent’s home. She said yes! So I filled my basket and got everything I’ve been lusting over for the past 6 months. This included a heap of lip products and one highlighter. I’m planning on doing a ColourPop video once it’s arrived. I’m so excited!

I’ve been really enjoying filming and uploading to YouTube and though I haven’t got many followers and there’s so much competition, I’m really enjoying the process and the comments I get from my viewers.

I babysat for my Niece this weekend, just past, and she gave me this picture she’d made for me:

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Apparently the night before she’d been so excited that her YouTuber aunty was going to be in her house and babysitting for her. She’s told all her friends I’m a YouTuber – which is technically true – I YouTube, so I’m a YouTuber! I love that I’ve got a fan!

I’ve also started working on a new series of blog posts called ‘Why I….’, the first of which will publish in a few days. It’s all about why I have made certain life choices and the affect it’s had on me. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them, and I look forward to seeing any discussion they stir up.

Having recently completed binge-watching the second series of The Man in the High Castle (awesome!) we had a TV void to fill, so we’ve just started watching The OA on Netflix.

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I’ve seen a few of Brit Marling’s films and though I find them self-indulgent, they’re incredibly interesting and unique, not to mention intelligent. We’re part way through and I’m hooked. I’m really interested in seeing how it ends – no spoilers please!

The week to come promises to be cold and icy, and all I long for is some sun, warmth and not to feel so pasty. I hope Spring comes soon, but until then I’ll just look at instagrams of tropical islands and pretend I’m there. Bring on Summer.

If you’d like to see my latest YouTube video, that went live this weekend, then go ahead below. It’s one for book worms – all about my favourite books!

ColourPop image copyright to ColourPop. OA image sourced via Google Images.

January Favourites

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And so we move into the second month of the year, in the hope that we can bypass the cold weather and all of a sudden be honoured with Spring-time. I wish!

It’s been crazy cold, icy, some people have had snow; but we have had plenty of lovely winter sun, so it’s not all bad.

This month, as well as upping the frequency of my blog posts a little, I’ve been able to post up a couple of videos to my YouTube channel, which is really exciting.

As well as that there have been some fab things on the TV, great music and I’ve had the chance to try out some of the beauty things I got for Christmas AND splurge a little on the January sales…

Let’s start with some music.

Ed Sheeran announced his new album and released two tracks from it, which went straight to number 1 and 2.

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My favourite of the two is Shape of You which I’ve had on repeat ever since. I can’t get enough of it, and I’m excited to hear the rest!

I mentioned in a past post I wrote about my 2016 in blogging, a planner that I’d picked up from Dot Creates.

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The Ultimate Blog Planner is a spiral bound notebook with sectioned pages designed to allow you to plan out your blogs as and when inspiration hits.

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I’ve actually started to really fill up the pages! Because it’s not dated you can write in it as and when you want, and it means you’ll never forget that glimmer of an idea you have because you can run and write it down when you have it! They come in 3 designs and are really inexpensive, so if you blog – go get one!

On a recent January sale shopping excursion we headed into The White Company, a shop I didn’t really go into, and saw they had a sale on their towels. We really needed to replace our towels since they were a wedding present 10 years ago – they’re still going strong, but they’d been washed and washed and washed… you get the picture. Anyway, we found these amazingly soft and HUGE bath sheets, hand towel and face cloth all in their sale.

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I swear when I wash my face with the face cloth it’s like rubbing my face with a fluffy puppy…. and when I get out of the bath and use my towel – woah mumma!

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Next, I finally took the plunge and bought a Beauty Blender. I’d never actually used a beauty sponge, but thought I’d see if they had any discounts on the Beauty Blender website. I managed to get a gift set which contained a pink and black sponge, a black micro sponge, a black oil blotter sponge and black sponge cleansing soap for £32 which I think is pretty good! They also included a free mini white sponge cleansing soap and mini cleansing liquid bottle too! So I think I got a great deal.

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Anyhow, I used the micro sponge and the pink Beauty Blender this past weekend and I’m really impressed. I’m mostly impressed with the micro sponge, and how it’s improved the look and longevity of my undereye concealer. Win!

Next, I want to talk about cleansing. I’ll admit it, that before Christmas I ONLY used miscellar water makeup wipes. They did me no harm, and they did the job. But since receiving the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish cleanser at Christmas I have seen the error of my ways. It’s amazing.

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Not only does this variation smell amazing, but it’s so soft on my skin. It’s moisturising, gets all of my makeup and mascara off my face without needing to scrub and it leaves my skin feeling amazeballs!

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And last is this incredible body scrub from The Body Shop. I picked this up in their sale for about £6 I think.

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If you were reading my blog last year, you’ll know I’m pretty obsessed with any body products that are coconut and pineapple scented. So when I saw this, I HAD to get it.

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Not only does it smell amazing though, the product is incredible. It’s very soft and has just the right about of exfoliating grit in it. You rub it over your skin and afterwards you feel soft and moisturised for DAYS. I mean it – no need to moisturise afterwards but you’re not feeling greasy or anything. I’m obsessed!

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I’m hoping this is a whole range because I’ll definitely be picking up more scents if it is!

And that’s it for another month! Have you tried any of these? I’d love to hear what you think 🙂