Goodbye 2017

And so we’re here again. I can’t quite believe I’m sitting here, preparing to take you through my year, once again.

It’s been a very hard year but also amazing in many ways. I feel like I’ve changed and grown as a person, and also seen those around me change in many ways.

Sadly, I’ve not seen as much of some of the people I love this year, but I’m hoping next year that will change. But I know these people still value me in the same way, as I value them still, despite not seeing them so much. You guys know who you are!

I know a high proportion of my readers head over here purely for the beauty stuff, and I’m going to post up a separate piece about my beauty picks for 2017, so if that’s what you’re after you have my permission to skip this one altogether. Though, if you do decide to carry on you might find there’s more to Musings than just beauty reviews, and I’d like to welcome you into the world of Musings lifestyle articles.

At the end of 2016 I set myself two resolutions (well, more like goals to be fair). By the end of 2017 I wanted to have attended at least one blogger event, and I also wanted to have become less judgemental.

Two very different goals. I achieved the first only this month. I had actually forgotten about my resolution and when I remembered it a couple of weeks ago, I was very pleased to have achieved it.

I also feel I am well on my way with the second goal. A very personal journey, and one that I won’t go deep into here, but I honestly feel like I am much less judgemental now than I was. I just have to work on being more tolerant of those who have not gone on this journey. I can only take control of myself and my own responses, but it’s hard and frustrating when other people appear bitter and judgemental  – I can see now it only hurts themselves.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get all deep in this post! I’m going to give a month by month run down of what I got up to this year, which is much less intense! Each month title is a clicky link, so if there’s a post you’re interested in reading, click there and you’ll be taken to that month. So here goes :

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January

  • This year started with the celebration of 50 years of Milton Keynes! My home town since I was born (I may have strayed for a couple of years in the middle somewhere!)
  • Gary and I went for a little bit of culture at the end of this month and saw a play! Gaslight at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. One of my favourite films, it was great to see it on stage. Gary, who didn’t know the story at all, was very pleasantly surprised. It’s nice to do something a little different sometimes!

February

  • I started posting a little more on my YouTube channel, and a few people seemed to be watching!
  • I got taken in by ColourPop’s weekly product releases, and spent probably too much money on lipsticks (that I still love btw)
  • I told you all why I reverse wash my hair, and actually it’s something I still do and feel the benefit of.
  • I wrote my first proper post about mental health and touched on my experiences with struggles I face.
  • I saw La La Land for the first time and wanted to hate it, but fell deeply in love.

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March

  • I told the world why I’d stopped wearing bras, for some reason….
  • I did something that years back I would never have been able to do – I went on a shopping trip to London on my own.
  • I finally met up with Sophie Kate, when she took me as her plus one to the Glamour Beauty Festival.
  • I discovered the music of Childish Gambino and proceeded to not want to listen to anything else ever.
  • I went to Rome!

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April

  • In April I attended Secret Cinema’s presentation of Moulin Rouge – which incidentally I have never written up. I always wait until they put up their event video, so as to not spoil anything, however their video only went up the other day (so many many months later) and now I feel the moment has passed. If you wish to see this post, let me know in the comments, or else I will simply allow the memory to fade in my brain. Anyhow, it was a great night!

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  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer celebrated 20 years since its first airing, and I felt old…
  • I decided YouTube might not be for me, but also decided that the occasional dabble when it felt right was how I would move forward.
  • I went to see Bruno Mars and he was epic!

May

  • Ooh this month I shared my tomato linguine recipe – and boy is it yummy!
  • I watched a LOT of TV
  • I shared a much requested post, about why I decided to get married at a young age.

June

  • I wrote a post about anxiety and my experiences. It was probably the most personal post I’ve written on the subject to date.
  • Our trip to London to see Ariana Grande was amended slightly due to terrorist activity in Manchester, however we decided to press on and continue with the rest of our plans.
  • Musings celebrated its 8th birthday!

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July

  • I was given the chance to see London from one of their amazing Ducks!
  • I spoke about growing up and old and the secret adults never tell you as a child.

August

  • I posted my most viewed YouTube video to date (2.2k views so far!)
  • I spoke about my quest for positivity.
  • I turned 34 years old!
  • I started planning my trip to Orlando

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September

  • I did a little photo shoot with my Niece in the last of the summer sunshine.
  • I moved house! This took up most of my free time!!

October

  • Halloween month. I was all about sharing my favourite Halloween movies, and getting ready to go on holiday to Florida!
  • My Florida holiday was epic
  • I spoke about striving to be more tolerant.

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November

  • And as soon as you can say ‘Halloween is over’ it was Christmas season!
  • I shared a post about my holiday and all of a sudden the weather was crisp and frosty and we were all thinking about the festive season!

December

  • And here we are!
  • December was about sharing meals with family and friends and unexpected snow!
  • I went to my first blogging event, the Blogosphere Christmas Festival.
  • And now here we are – you’re reading the final piece!

So what’s in store for next year then?

Well, I always say this, but I’d like to learn a new skill. I’d like to feel a little less restless in my skin. I’d like to continue on my quest for positivity, in becoming more tolerant and less judgemental.

I’d like to continue to better myself.

So here’s to another year! If you blog and you’ve written an end of year round-up post, I’d love to read it. Pop your link in the comments and I’ll have a read 🙂

 

 

Merry Christmas from Musings!

I just wanted to drop in quickly, and say Merry Christmas to you from me and Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug!

By this time in the day you should be as stuffed as the turkey and a little half-cut, if you’re so inclined.

You might have just watched The Queen, or if your family is anything like mine, you might be trying to hear the TV over the sound of the man of the house snoring loudly in his chair!

Whatever your Christmas scenario, I hope it’s full of family and love.

I’ll see you on the other side!

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The Blogosphere Christmas Festival

Last weekend I hot-footed it to the big-smoke to my very first blogger event, the Blogosphere Christmas Festival.

For those of you unfamiliar with the blogging community, Blogosphere magazine is a quarterly independent publication, featuring bloggers and influencers of all sizes. It also covers advice and tips for bloggers, as well as interviewing inspirational influencers.

The event, held in Shoreditch, promised panels from your favourite bloggers as well as a brand presence and the opportunity to pick up some additional Christmas shopping!

As soon as I arrived I was welcomed by Alice, the editor of Blogosphere magazine, who made sure I had a drink in my hand and after a little chat I had look around.

The first talk was due to start within the next 10 minutes so I took the opportunity to grab a seat and settle in.

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The first panel ‘Sharing Your Personal Style with the World’ featured 4 fabulous bloggers, including Siobhan (@justauniform) who I’ve chatted to over the past year or so and I was excited to finally meet. Also speaking, Steph Yeboah, Jamie Windust and Paige Calvert, a very inspiring bunch to listen to. The confidence these people have is wonderful!

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After this panel, and a cheeky picture with Siobhan and Steph, I had a look around the stands and spoke with some of the brands.

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Deliciously Ella’s brand provided the food

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Then there was a table of lovely Kusmi teas – I tried a Christmas blend which was lovely and refreshing.

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So..? were there promoting their latest fragrance range, including some new Eau de Parfum – gorgeous and inexpensive gift sets too!

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OGX were also there giving out free samples of their shampoo and conditioners.

I’m not the most comfortable in social situations but I met a few lovely bloggers who were kind enough to chat to me, though no doubt I was super-awkward!

And then it was time for the next panel!

This time ‘Finding your Authentic Voice Online’ featuring Vix Meldrew, Brogan Tate, Jess Ayton and Tom Cox.

I was most interested in seeing Brogan speak as I follow her YouTube channel, but it was great to hear Vix and Tom speak about their experiences with staying authentic in what can be a cut-throat environment when you’re a full-time influencer.

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At this point in the day I needed to leave to get to my next appointment, so I grabbed Alice and thanked her for a lovely event.

It wasn’t nearly as scary as I’d thought it could have been. Everyone was so friendly, and I didn’t feel out of place.

Back home I was able to have a look through the goodie bag.

Here’s what So…?’s bag contained.

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I’m looking forward to giving these a go.

The Blogosphere bag contained this lovely lot:

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And, I am most excited about trying these Booja Booja truffles which were also in the goodie bag. For the longest time I’ve loved their chocolates, and didn’t even know they were dairy free until recently, when it became relevant to me!

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Thanks to Blogosphere Magazine for throwing a fabulous and inspiring shindig. I’ll definitely be at the next one!

My Kind of Christmas – A Look Back

I’ve been writing this blog for 8.5 years and so as you can imagine, I’ve covered Christmas quite a lot, and a fair few times. Back in 2013 (and before I knew that Blogmas existed) I wrote a Christmas related post for every day of advent.

It was fairly hard to do since I had to think of 24 different subjects to write on, all on the theme of Christmas. And this was before I was interested in beauty, before gift guides were commonplace on a blog, and long before advent calendars offered anything more than a chocolate behind the door.

I called it Shutterbug’s Advent Calendar – my friend even made a pretty graphic for me!

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Isn’t it lovely?

Instead of re-hashing what I’ve already written, I thought I might share some of my older posts with you, interspersed with some of the photographs I’ve taken over the years, celebrating the festive season!

So, here we go!:

What’s A Traditional Christmas? (click to read)

In this post from 2012 I talk about what Christmas entailed traditionally for me growing up.

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The Christmas Queen’s Guide To Gift Buying (click to read)

In this post from 2010, I offer my hints and tips for finding the perfect Christmas gift – and 7 years on it’s still relevant! If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift, then head over for some festive inspiration.

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Christmas In A Day (click to read)

As part of my 2013 advent calendar posts, I discussed that year’s Sainsburys advert, which pulled clips from a short film called Christmas In A Day. I say short, it’s just under 50 minutes long, but it’s worth every single minute. The video is still up on YouTube so I’d urge you to click on the video link in the post, grab a cup of something warm and settle in for a film that will give you all the feels. I’ll be honest, I totally forgot about this film, so I’m really pleased I unearthed it in this post. I’ll be giving it another watch this year, for sure.

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Favourite Christmas Movies (click to read)

It wouldn’t be a Shutterbug Christmas without me sharing my all time favourite Christmas movies. You’ll find them in this 2013 post, and they’re still the ones I’d pick!

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Christmas Eve Eve (click to read)

Here’s a post about what could possibly be my favourite day of the Christmas run-up, Christmas Eve Eve!

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Fun Times at Winter Wonderland (click to read)

Last year we made our annual trip to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, and I blogged about it (in fact I also vlogged it, and that video is at the end of the post!) So if you’re interested to see what I got up to, then take a look at this post.

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead (click to read)

This post was actually published at the very end of last year, but it mentions Christmas and New Year traditions we have in our home, and was highly requested by followers on twitter. Each year we write a letter to ourselves and look back and forward on the year past and year ahead. If you’d like to read about this new tradition, then click the link above!

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I hope you enjoy a little look back on my thoughts on Christmas from over the last 8 years. Christmas really is my favourite time of year.

I’m lucky to have a medium to enable me to look back and see what was happening in Christmases past. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

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Let’s Talk About Snow, Baby

When I was much younger, I always loved the snow. And to an extent I still do.

Snowfall seems to create a different world from the place you know so well. Streets and parks look unfamiliar even though you might have walked or frequented them over and over again.

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I’ve experience snow in a few places. Growing up it seemed like it snowed every year for the first years I can remember. In my mind’s eye I can remember photos I’ve seen of me bundled up playing in the snow. I remember the street I grew up on looking so magical, when there was heavy snowfall. The sides of the roads all slushy, deep and dirtied from vehicles trying to make their way (sometimes unsuccessfully) up the hill. And then for the longest time it just didn’t happen. For years it seemed, we just didn’t have any snow.

Then, as I grew into a young adult with responsibilities, snowfall started to become inconvenient. It once took over 3 hours to make a 30 minute trip home from work, my Dad driving, due to sudden heavy snowfall. Living in Milton Keynes, people often say all the roads look the same. I usually disagree, but on that night, everything all white and the road signs covered with the stuff, it was very disorienting.

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Working in a mall was always fun when it snowed (not). As soon as it started you would panic you wouldn’t get home. But until the head office had notified you could leave, you were stuck. Even if the customers had all left.

New York snow is definitely the prettiest I’ve seen. I can’t explain to you why, but if you’ve ever experienced it, you’ll know what I mean. I visited for Valentine’s Day in 2003 when the city saw a record-breaking blizzard (there’s even a Wikipedia page all about it) and I was snowed into my hotel. I mean, of all the places to be snowed in, New York’s a good one. We survived on deli sandwiches and watching the great President’s Day movies on the tiny TV in our room. It was pretty fun in hindsight.

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There’s something exciting and magical about snow. It seems to blanket over the monotony of day-to-day life, and add an extra level of interestingness. Your trips to work might be a little strange, the view from your kitchen window will be iced, and if you’re at school there’s always a chance you could get a bonus day off!

In England we’re a little famed for our over-reactions to this weather. Granted it can be genuinely dangerous on the roads, but that’s usually down to people not driving responsibly. The shelves in the shops will end up bare as people hunker down for what could be a whole 12 hours of inconvenience. Okay, I may be over exaggerating.

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My now conflicted opinion of snow comes from being a fairly new, and quite un-confident driver. When I met Gary, I couldn’t understand his negative opinion towards snow, despite his explanation. But now I’m going to stand up and say, snow is inconvenient and dangerous – and bloody cold!

Despite this, I don’t think I will ever lose the feeling that there’s a bit of magic in this kind of weather. As a child I have a distinct memory of going to bed, and listening to the main road outside. And then all at once everything became silent, and I knew it had started snowing. I wasn’t the type of person, back then, to look at a weather forecast, I was just a kid caught up in my own world, so I have no idea if it was due to snow. All I knew, without even looking outside, was that it was the kind of snow that would have turned the world white when I opened my curtains.

I used to have a theory, that if you looked directly into the sky as it started to snow, if the sky was that weird opaque pale orange colour, and all you could see was thick snowflakes rushing towards you, it would definitely stick to the ground, instead if just melting away. I was usually right.

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Today I’m talking about snow, because as I write it’s falling on the UK. And by this I mean literally – I’m watching it come down. I woke this morning, at a stupid time, in the anticipation of a snow-covered cul-de-sac outside, and I wasn’t disappointed. Some plans have sensibly already been cancelled, whilst others hang in the balance.

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This time around, I feel a little like this snow will be a tad more special since it’s Christmas time. We don’t often get snow in December in these parts any more. It tends to land in January or February, which at least adds a little something to those nothing-y months. But that postcard idea of snowfall at Christmas rarely occurs. So this year is different.

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I’m not a big fan of being wet and cold, so skiing, snow angels, snowball fights or building snowmen is never on my to do list when it’s snowy. But I will say, if you’ve got nowhere to go and you’re warm and safe somewhere, it’s blooming beautiful to watch it fall.

Hosting a Share A Meal for World Vision UK

Back in September I shared World Vision UK’s latest campaign, Share A Meal. If you missed that post, head back if you want to read all about it.

This past weekend was my turn to host my Share A Meal meal, and I decided to make it Italian themed! Since my guests were vegetarian and I make a darn good tomato linguine (if I do say so myself!), it made sense to build a menu based on that!

Our new kitchen is a very social space, so I started the cooking once we’d settled in, whacked on a playlist on our Echo and we took the time to catch up whilst I cooked.

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Using my trusty Le Creuset pan (I love that thing!) I was able to make dinner easily, all in one pot which saved on the washing up and meant everything was a lot simpler.

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I chose to serve non alcoholic white wine, since I knew if I started drinking whilst I was cooking, we’d be eating burnt mush by the end!

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Dinner was served (albeit sloppily!) and we all had the opportunity to think about the simplicity of the food we were eating, in the comfort of a cosy house and how by eating this meal and coming together we could be helping people who were less fortunate than us.

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Next course was Sicilian lemon tarts, which I’ll admit were not made by me, but by Mr Iceland…..

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They were rather tasty nevertheless!

We finished the meal off with espresso martinis, though the creation of these was a little eventful when my makeshift cocktail shaker (a cheap Starbucks sippy cup) developed a large crack in the bottom and thus my kitchen sink got a good drink of our martinis….

Alls well that ends well, though, as my Costa sippy cup acted as a back-up and we ended up with some so-so martinis that still tasted good even if they didn’t look exactly how I wanted them (I think I need to invest in an actual cocktail shaker!)

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As the evening wound down, conversation turned to how my guests could use this meal to help World Vision UK. By visiting the Share A Meal site and clicking the Donate Now button, my guests can donate the value of their meal to World Vision UK. These donations will go towards helping vulnerable children in Uganda, who can’t feed themselves. No child should go without food and safety, so this money will help to provide a little more to those who need it.

At this time of year, when people are gathering together and sharing good food, it’s so easy to make your gathering a charitable one. For less than you’d pay for a meal out, by donating the cost of the meal you’ve eaten (or hosted) to World Vision UK, you’ll be making a difference.

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And don’t forget, by hosting, you could end up winning a meal cooked for you by star baker Selasi!

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See the World Vision UK Share A Meal site for more details on how you could win!

If you decide to host a Share A Meal event, I’d love to hear all about it. Please let me know in the comments!

 

EVENT PHOTO PROVIDED BY WORLD VISION UK. ALL OTHER PHOTOS ARE MY OWN.