Friday, 19 October 2018

Why You Should Seriously Consider Solo Travel


reasons to travel solo

Even though it's been less than a week since I returned home from my trip to Florida (expect lots of Sephora hauls and photo diaries very soon), I'm already dreaming up where to visit next and as much as I loved travelling with my family and creating some incredible memories, it's definitely got me itching to plan my next spot of solo travel. Let me know if you'd like to see a blog post on the top ten places that I'd like to visit next as a solo traveller (who else has Trek America on their list?) or where I'd love to visit with friends and family (I've definitely got my eye on going somewhere either completely tropical, like the Mediterranean or the Maldives (how dreamy does this place look) or somewhere really snowy (how fantastic do these ski holidays from Mark Warner look?).

Back to today's post, if you've been reading Ellis Tuesday for a while now, you'll know that I embarked on my first piece of solo travel last Summer when I visited New York. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life and I was so proud of what I achieved by doing it. So I thought that I would share with you why you should seriously consider solo travel at some point in your life as well, here on the blog today.

You are completely in control

As selfish as it sounds, only having to worry about what you want to do and when is such a freeing experience. I could decide when I wanted to leave in the morning, without having to wait on others getting organised and ready, could eat when I was hungry, not when everyone else is/at places that didn't really take my fancy and could choose exactly what I wanted to do without having to compromise. You also don't have to explain your choices to anyone. Want to have ice cream for dinner? You can! Want to spend an entire day shopping? There will be no-one there to moan about it!

You'll gain confidence

When you mention to friends, family and colleagues that you're travelling somewhere on your own, many of them will say how brave you must be to do such a thing. I really didn't think about it in that way but when I returned I realised just how much I had accomplished on my trip.

Growing up I was always incredibly shy and had what I now realise was horrible anxiety. I've grown a lot as a person since then but it still doesn't stop me from saying 'you too' when the person serving me at Duty Free or WH Smith tells me to have a good flight. Saying that, I did get myself all the way from Newark Airport taking an Airtrain, a New Jersey Transit train and then finally a taxi up to Times Square without breaking a sweat. I knew exactly what tickets I needed to buy, got off at the right station and checked in at my hotel without a hitch or a worry. I sat in restaurants by myself without needing a book or my phone to keep me company. I took the Subway everywhere and didn't get lost once (I may have went down the wrong entrance one time but it was still the correct station), so much so that fellow tourists would ask me for directions thinking that I was a native New Yorker (see my top tips for navigating the NYC Subway system here)! As someone who used to get nervous going anywhere new, even if it was only a 5 minute journey from my house, on my own, I could see just how far I'd come confidence-wise on my first solo trip.

solo female travel usa

You'll also gain independence

I've always been pretty independent and prefer doing certain things such as clothes shopping and exploring on my own but nothing will make you feel more independent than being completely responsible for yourself with no one else to rely on. I was the responsible adult, which as someone who's only ever travelled with their family was something completely new to me. If I didn't do something nobody else would be there to do it for me. I had to lug my luggage around with me (if your bags are ridiculously heavy like my cabin case was going out, just ask someone who might be a little bit/a lot stronger than you to get it into the overhead bin or off of the luggage carousel, there will always be people to help you in these situations). I had to have all of my travel documents ready for immigration. I had to pay for absolutely everything (there's no going halves on dinner or cab rides).

You don't have to go it completely alone (if you don't want to)

If you want a few days or weeks completely to yourself, you can definitely keep it that way but embarking on solo travel is actually a great way to meet new people, connect with and make international acquaintances and experience new cultures. When I finalised my plans I actually found out that some fellow Scots would be in the area around the same time as me. And even though I hadn't met Hayley before back home in Scotland, we spent a Saturday together walking The High Line, going for lunch at Chelsea Market and exploring Manhattan together. It was great to finally meet her and so nice to hear someone with the same accent as me. Definitely reach out to friends and acquaintances to see if they or anyone that they know could connect with you when you're over there. Chances are there will be.

If you're staying somewhere like a hostel, the opportunities to meet new people and explore your chosen destination with other like minded people and solo travellers are even greater.

solo female travel blog

You can practice some serious self care

It might sound crazy to say that when you're on the other side of the world or in a different country/continent is actually one of the best times to practice some serious self care but it is. Self care and what you deem as self care can be different for everyone but you'll finally have time to sit and read a book cover to cover, to treat yourself to something indulgent (hello all things Glossier on my trip) or simply to stick on a movie and order room service.

Taking time out to yourself where you're not chained to your phone or going at a hundred miles an hour is so important and it'll also serve as a nice memory of your time away when you weren't rushing all over the place or trying to cram in one more attraction, museum or cultural experience.

Whether it's an overnight stay somewhere close to where you live, a weekend away in nearby Europe or a week plus (I did 11 nights myself) on another continent, I could not recommend giving solo travel a try enough to you. You'll know right away whether it's the kind of thing for you and if you're anything like me, you'll be thinking of where to go next.

Have you ever travelled on your own? Or even just done part of a journey on your own? Does solo travel sound appealing to you? And where would you love to visit next, either on your own or with friends/family?

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Sunday, 14 October 2018

How To Make A Long Haul Flight That Bit More Bearable


carry on essentials for long flights

Having just conquered two 9 hour flights to and from the US, one of which was an overnight flight, I thought that I would share how a little bit of advance preparation can go a long way in helping you not only to survive but actually enjoy the whole experience. Some of the tips may be pretty common sense but all it takes is a little forward planning to totally transform your travel time.

So here is how to make a long haul flight that bit more bearable;

Stay hydrated

My number one tip has got to be to stay hydrated. This means either buying bottled water (I try and get the biggest one I possibly can at Boots or WH Smith) once you've cleared security or bringing an empty bottle with you that you can then fill up before you fly or once you get on the plane. I've had no issues with asking the crew on board to fill up my water bottle for me either when they're doing the drinks service or just as and when I need it.

My face also gets ridiculously dry and tight feeling whenever I fly and as I'm not one of those people who does an entire skincare routine on board, the best way to combat this is to use a facial mist. This one* from La Roche-Posay is less than £3 and leaves my skin feeling fresh and a little bit less gross. There are quite a few to choose from on the market now and these are the ones that are on my list to try next;



Bring your own snacks/food

Even if you don't mind airline food, the wait for it or even just seeing the trolley off in the distance, so close but also so far, bringing your own snacks or food on board with you gets rid of all that waiting for you. You can eat at your own pace and don't need to play airline food roulette when you're really hungry.

I also wholeheartedly recommend grabbing some comfort or fast food from the airport terminal to take on board with you. On the way home from the US I normally opt for some Auntie Anne's pretzel nuggets (oh, they're good!) or Krispy Kreme doughnut holes and boy do I treasure those little bites. I've even seen someone bring an entire pizza on board with them, pizza box and all. He may not have been the most popular passenger but I think secretly those who were giving him the evils were just insanely jealous.

what to take in hand luggage for a long haul flight

Take advantage of the in-flight entertainment

If you're flying long haul it's more than likely that the plane you're on will have some form of in-flight entertainment. However, if you're travelling on a budget airline or the plane that you're flying on doesn't have either seatback or fold down screens, do not worry. A lot of streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and even BBC iPlayer will allow you to download movies and episodes of TV shows onto your phone, tablet or laptop for you to watch at your convenience. So you don't need to worry about paying for WiFi onboard or it draining your mobile data either.

How to actually get a sleep

Some of us are lucky enough to be able to sleep anywhere (sadly I am not one of those individuals) but even I feel the need to shut my eyes and attempt to get even an hour's nap on a night flight. Here are my top tips for actually getting a sleep in economy;

1. Bring a sleep mask - even if the cabin lights are dimmed and you've got your window blind down, it's not exactly ideal lighting for getting some proper shut eye. Block it all out with a good eye mask.

Here are some of my favourite ones on the market at the moment:



2. Wear a blanket scarf - not all airlines provide you with blankets these days and even if you do get one, they can be pretty scratchy and not exactly cosy enough to nuzzle into. Whether you're flying somewhere considerably colder or flying to or from the warmest of climates, it can get pretty chilly on board. I always bring a big blanket scarf with me to keep me warm on my travels but it also doubles as a blanket on the flight. It doesn't take up any extra space in your luggage as you can have it on your person and you'll definitely be smug when you actually feel comfortable even if your seat back doesn't recline quite as much as you'd like it to.

3. Bring vitamins or supplements with you - I watch quite a lot of packing hacks and tip videos particularly in the run up to my next trip and most Youtubers seem to take natural supplements in a bid to help them sleep or just feel more relaxed on board. I was definitely keen to try some on this trip and I eventually settled on the Utmost Me Neuro Rest supplements. They are 100% natural, Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free so won't upset my stomach and seriously helped with jet lag and the change in time zones. I'm ultimately trying to get better at taking more vitamins so let me know if you'd like me to explore the world of multivitamins and supplements more in the future.

Wear flight socks

As someone with poor circulation, I always worry about sitting in the same position for too long. If I sit with my feet dangling, like I would if I'm sat on a train, in a waiting room or just in a seat that doesn't allow me to elevate them for anything longer than about ten minutes, my feet actually begin to resemble a zombie's. I'm talking purplish blue feet that don't look human at all.

Wearing flight compression socks just takes the worry of anything horrible happening off my mind. That in combination with getting up and actually walking about/down the aisles and moving my feet and legs about beside or in my seat, stops my legs from feeling stiff. I would easily recommend doing both if you're on a flight that's any longer than an hour and would say that it's pretty much a must if you're flying long haul.

So there are some of my top tips for actually enjoying that flight that you've more often than not paid hundreds of pounds for.

Do you have any tips for making a long haul flight more bearable? What do you think of my suggestions? And do you have any flights or holidays booked at the moment?

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Sunday, 7 October 2018

My First Christmas Gift Set Purchase: The Stila Holiday Liquid Eye Shadow Sets


stila holiday 2018

Last year I missed out on the chance to pick up one of Stila's Holiday sets so this year I was taking no chances and ordered them as soon as they both went online.

I couldn't quite decide which of the two eyeshadow sets to go for so I ended up just having to get both of them. I've had my eye on Stila's liquid eyeshadow offerings for some time now but there are that many to choose from that I ultimately got overwhelmed each and every time that I paid the Stila stand a visit or when I was having a scroll through the shades online. I just couldn't decide which ones to try first. Also, as they're liquid eyeshadows, I didn't want to buy three or four full sizes of them only for them to inevitably dry out at some point or before I'd got as much wear out of them as I would have liked. Which is why buying the Holiday gift sets was a real no brainer for me.

So let's see exactly what you get in each of the Stila Holiday 2018 liquid eyeshadow sets;

stila all that shimmers & glow liquid eye shadow set

All That Shimmers Shimmer & Glow Set

First up we have the All That Shimmers Shimmer & Glow Set. Containing three of the Stila Shimmer & Glow liquid eyeshadows in the shades Starlight, Kitten and Espresso, the All That Shimmers set is the one for you if you love a good metallic eyeshadow. The shade Espresso, in particular, is a brand new shade for Fall 2018/the holiday season so I was particularly excited to see that as part of the set.

The one shade that I was especially keen to try was Kitten. It's just the most beautiful colour. And the third shade in this specific set is Starlight which is a gold champagne shade. Having wanted to invest in these for quite a few years now, I was over the moon to finally get a chance to try them out without having to shell out some serious ££.

stila oh my stars review

Oh My Stars Glitter & Glow Set

Talking of being impressed, the other exclusive set for the 2018 holiday season is the Oh My Stars Glitter & Glow Set. It contains three of the Glitter & Glow liquid eyeshadows in the shades Diamond Dust, Kitten Karma and Gold Goddess. Basically if you're looking to add some glitter eyeshadows that really pack a punch when it comes to pigmentation, sparkle and shine, then this is the set for you. I love that you get a gold, silver and copper/rose gold in this set and I'm now completely covered when it comes to any glitters that I could possibly need, especially as someone who more often than not sticks to pretty neutral and natural eye looks.

Having never tried the Glitter & Glow shadows, I was a little concerned that they might irritate the eye area but I had nothing to worry about. They don't feel too gritty or scratchy on the eyelid but they're still chunky enough to give you that glitter and glimmer look that you're after. They all add such a pop of sparkle to any eye look and would be perfect in the run up to the Christmas and party season.

stila liquid eyeshadow review

Apologies for my lack of swatches in today's post but these really are that dinky that I didn't want to waste any of the precious product on the back of my hand. No doubt you'll see them on my actual eyes either on here or on my Instagram in the run up to Christmas and festive period.

If either or both of the sets have caught your eye, you can get them from Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty or click below to get them from Cloud 10 Beauty, where I bought mine.



Have you tried any of Stila's liquid eyeshadows before? If so, what did you think of them and which shade or shades are your favourite? And do you have your eye on any Christmas gift sets already? Or are there ones, like the Soap & Glory Boots Star Gift set, that you buy every year?

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Sunday, 30 September 2018

All The Small Things: The Travel Beauty Bits Coming With Me On My Next Trip


travel beauty products uk

Inspired by this photo on Emma's Instgram feed, I thought that I would share some of the dinky little travel sized products and multi-tasking heroes, such as the Cowshed Wonder Balm* and Coola Daydream Mineral Primer, that I will be taking with me on holiday this month. If you want to follow me along on my travels be sure to follow me on Instagram where I'm going to posting as often as I can and even trying to vlog a little on Insta Stories.

But before I actually set off on my travels, let's see exactly what I'm bringing with me in my suitcase this time.

biosilk silk therapy travel set

Since I'm not constrained to travelling hand luggage only this time, like I did on my last trip, I thought that I would bring a few new products to put to the test in the warmer weather. Each of these bottles is well within the 100ml or under carry on restrictions if you did want to take them in your hand luggage. I've heard a lot of good things about Biosilk so I'm excited to try these Silk Therapy products, particularly the leave-in conditioner.

I tend to air dry my hair when I'm on holiday so we will see how these products perform. Be sure to follow me on either Instagram or Twitter as I will be updating you on all things holiday related on there. You can pick up this fab Silk Therapy travel set ut from Look Fantastic here in the UK.

travel size makeup

When you're travelling somewhere as hot and humid as Florida, even the thought of applying makeup can be somewhat off-putting, often making me sweat just thinking about it but I wanted to bring a handful of products with me to have me covered no matter the occasion.



If you read my Travel Sized Beauty To Take On Your Next Trip blog post, where I packed for an overnight stay, you might remember me raving about the Zoeva Voyager collection, so of course I simply had to bring the perfect everyday palette and travel makeup brushes with me on this trip. And talking of tools, I picked up a little Beautyblender set a while back which includes a mini of the cleanser along with the iconic pink sponge. I may have to invest in the Blender Defender whilst I'm at Sephora or Ulta.

Benefit really nail the mini version market when it comes to their makeup! I opted for the trio of Benefit tints, which are exclusive to Escentual in this set, along with a mini of their Airbrush Concealer. I also couldn't go anywhere without my trusty IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream in tiny form or a good waterproof mascara. I'm going to be trialling this one by Eyeko whilst at the pool and on all the water rides. And say hello to the most adorable travel size mini in the form of Urban Decay's life-changing All Nighter Setting Spray.

clean reserve layering set

I'm one of those people who instantly remembers a special time in their life after smelling a certain perfume or fragrance so I go out of my way to take a new perfume or Bath & Body Works scented Hand-Bac with me on each and every holiday. Then as soon as you spray that perfume or clean your hands on the go, you're immediately transported back to that place and time.

On this trip I'm going to be taking a few different options thanks to the Clean Layering Collection*. If you haven't yet discovered any of Clean's exquisite scents, this is a great way to do so plus having the option to layer them and create your own signature fragrance is certainly an added bonus. Plus, look how cute the little bottles are!

missguided babe power gift set

Even though I knew that I had the different options from Clean I couldn't resist this handy little Missguided Babe Power travel size set* from Notino. It comes with two 15ml vials of the brilliant Babe Power fragrance and a gorgeous rose gold/copper atomiser, making it ideal for popping into your holiday handbag.

I already briefly mentioned the multi purpose nature of both the Cowshed Wonder Balm and the Coola Daydream Primer above but I love taking products that save me taking other additional products away with me, especially when I plan on using every bit of available space on the way home for fitting in what I've bought on my trip. The Coola Daydream Primer is a primer, SPF and blurring base in one, whilst the Wonder Balm from Cowshed can be used on your body, face and hair and is just a great product to have to hand in the heat. It can also be used to remove makeup in a pinch too.

So there's what's coming with me on my trip to the States.

Do you seem to hoard little travel sizes and samples from beauty boxes like I do? Have you tried any of the products in today's post? If so, what do you think of them? And do you have any trips, holidays or nights away planned in the next year?

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Sunday, 23 September 2018

What I've Been Watching This Month


what to watch on netflix uk now

As much as I love Summer, I've got to admit that I'm definitely more of an Autumn/Winter gal and any excuse for me to close the curtains, put the heating on and get wrapped up in my comfiest pjs and cosiest dressing gown, is one that I will happily take each and every time. Surely I can't be the only one who would much rather stay indoors when it's absolutely freezing cold outside? And if you're looking for some inspiration when it comes to what to watch next, hopefully I should have given you a couple of suggestions in today's post. Don't forget that you can always check out what I've been watching in previous months/years simply by clicking through into the What I've Been Watching section of my blog.

But back to this month's post. Here's what I've been watching this month;

The Confession Tapes

Now, if you're a regular reader of my What I've Been Watching blog posts, you will be well aware of my fascination with true crime, murder investigations and serial killers. This month I stumbled across The Confession Tapes whilst scrolling through Netflix and quickly decided to press play. If you watched in disbelief as Brendan Dassey was interrogated and ultimately convicted in Making A Murder, you will be even more shocked at some of the tactics and mind games employed to elicit confessions from the individuals in this. The first case in particular, which is covered over two episodes, had my thoughts on the case and whether the two boys were guilty or not changing every two minutes. At the beginning I was adamant that they were guilty, then the next minute I wasn't sure and by the end of it, I was pretty much certain that they were innocent and yet, without spoiling it for you, both have now exhausted all of their appeals and are still in jail to this day.

You know there are innocent people sitting in jails all across the world right now but you would never believe that so many of them either spend most of their lives there, only to be released 10, 20 or even 30 years down the line or that they are never released despite there being other suspects or lines of enquiry that the police just never even consider looking into, as they are convinced that they've got their guy. Every single episode left me shocked in some way or another and I would sincerely urge you to check this out if you have even the slightest interest in true crime or the justice system in general. If you enjoyed The Staircase (see my review here), Making A Murderer or even Evil Genius (see my review here), I have a feeling that you'll find this just as hard to believe and addictive to watch.

Bodyguard

Having loved Line Of Duty (see my review of that here), I was always going to at least watch the first episode of Bodyguard after hearing that it was created by the same individual and it only took a few minutes of that first episode for me to be completely captivated by it. It feels a lot like Line Of Duty in the way that it's shot and the behind the scenes nature of what we get to see but instead of solely focusing on the police and the anti-corruption unit, in Bodyguard we take a step into the world of politics with the Home Secretary and her bodyguard being the main focus.

Having never watched Game Of Thrones, I really had no idea who Richard Madden was but it was nice to see someone Scottish in such a big show, even if I don't quite get the attraction to him in this myself. There's a good mixture of action sequences, smart storytelling and breathtaking moments. I've lost track of how many times I've audibly shouted 'What?!' at the TV during this.

As I write this, since I'm currently on the other side of the Atlantic, there is one episode left to go and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all ends once I get back. No spoilers please.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Much like with The Kissing Booth, which I reviewed back in June (see my review here), I'd heard a lot of buzz around this Netflix Original movie and decided to give it a try one night when I was looking for something new to watch on Netflix. Again, I hadn't read the Young Adult book that this was based on but the concept sounded like something relatively new and fresh for the teen movie genre.

Unlike the seriously rubbish Noah in The Kissing Booth (why won't he stop fighting?!), Peter Kavinsky is certainly someone that I can get on board with as a love interest. I also completely get the Noah Centineo hype. I thought that I'd seen him in something before as his face looked vaguely familiar. Turns out he was the love interest in Camilla Cabello's 'Havana' music video!

It took me back to the kinds of movies that I loved watching in my teenage years such as Angus Thongs And Perfect Snogging, A Cinderella Story and Wild Child and is definitely a hit when it comes to a Netflix Original anyway, as I really enjoyed it. I did, however, feel way too old to be watching this when John Corbett (aka. Aidan Shaw/my dream man from Sex and the City) appeared as Lara Jean's dad. Please tell me I wasn't the only one to feel this way.

9-1-1

Even though it inevitably starts to get darker earlier and earlier each night in September, I do look forward to the fact that lots of new shows and some old favourites return to our TV schedules and 9-1-1 was one of the new shows that immediately caught my eye. When I heard that it was created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk who worked together on American Crime Story, Scream Queens, Nip/Tuck and Glee, I was excited to see what they'd done next. 9-1-1 follows the lives of first responders in Los Angeles and it's easily one of my new favourites!

Some sequences and scenes can be a little bit over the top but it's not exactly the kind of show that you'd tune into for real life scenarios, it's more of a dramatic re-telling, to say the least. There's not really a boring 911 call, if that makes sense. All of them are crazy and dramatic. From the very first episode when we find out that a baby has been flushed down the toilet, you kind of get a feel for what's set to come in 9-1-1 but even then, I probably would never have predicted seeing a bouncy castle take off in the wind, someone being thrown from a rollercoaster or someone being choked by a snake all within the first few episodes. Writing it now it sounds ridiculous but it's a TV show that I happily watch each and every week. You'll find 9-1-1 on Sky Witness here in the UK and it's definitely worth checking out at the very least.

Jigsaw

When the Saw series of films finally came to end, I have a feeling that most of us were glad to see it go and had most probably switched off many movies ago anyway. The first Saw movie was smart, shocking and seriously took my breath away. I mean, who could forget the twist at the end of it? So when I saw that they were possibly attempting to revive the Saw franchise I definitely wasn't interested in seeing it in the slightest. When I saw the trailer I was slightly more inclined and then I heard a couple of somewhat positive reviews. It came out in cinemas, then on DVD and despite being a big fan of scary movies, I didn't feel an urge to seek it out. Then I saw that it was on Netflix and gave it a watch one Friday night this month.

Being the eighth (yup, you read that right!) in the Saw series you know what you're getting. There's frankly ridiculous traps, severed limbs, blood and pretty wooden acting. From the minute you see the lead detective you can't help but think, they're trying way too hard to make this guy unlikeable. I mean, who even smokes that much out in the open in 2017/18?! Unlike it's previous iterations, 'beating' certain traps in Jigsaw was way too easy to do. The first trap stops if you give it even a droplet of blood. And sadly, the twist at the end felt way too rushed. It certainly wasn't the worst in the series but it wasn't anywhere near as clever or genuinely scary as the original that I enjoyed back in the day.

So there's what I've been watching this month.

What have you been watching recently? Have you seen any of the shows or movies in today's post? If so, what did you think of them? And are there any upcoming TV shows or movie releases that you're looking forward to?

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Finally Trying Peter Thomas Roth


peter thomas roth mask set

I've wanted to try some of Peter Thomas Roth's products for some time now but it can be a bit of a gamble with your money when you buy a full size of a new skincare product only for it not to work for you or your skin. This is why I'm always drawn to Sephora style gift sets that allow you to try out several different products for significantly less than you would pay for say, just one face mask in this case.

If you saw my Discovering New Beauty Brands & Products With Notino blog post, you will know that I'm working with them on a couple of blog posts a month in exchange for them sending out some products for me to review. So when I saw the Peter Thomas Roth Mask-A-Holic set* on their site, I was quick to place an order and was over the moon when it arrived.

peter thomas roth mask review

Comprising of five 50ml versions of some of Peter Thomas Roth's most iconic face masks, I was really excited to finally try a few of the products that have been on my beauty wishlist for years now, primarily the  Pumpkin Enzyme Enzymatic Dermal Mask, the Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask and the Cucumber Gel Extreme Detoxifying Hydrating Mask. The Pumpkin Enzyme Mask in particular had been the one that I'd had my eye on ever since hearing Anna from The Anna Edit and many others, rave about it in the past. Plus, as I struggle with a strange skin texture on my forehead, even after I exfoliate each week, I was keen to see if it would do anything to improve it.

After using that mask in particular, just a few times, I have already noticed such a drastic difference in my forehead texture and will most definitely be buying the full size version when I finish this tub.

I also love the feeling of the two hydrating masks and I'm looking forward to trying out the two other masks included in this set as the cold Winter months draw in. They are the 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firming Mask and the Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask. You also get a handy mask application and removal tool with this set, which I certainly appreciated. I don't have any specific makeup brushes that I use for applying face masks and as a result, things can often get pretty messy when I'm multi-masking on a Sunday night. This little pad allows you to apply and to remove each mask without having to use your fingers and that in itself, feels a whole lot more hygienic to me.

peter thomas roth mask applicator

Overall, I'm so happy with this set and the fact that it was only a few pounds more than buying the full size of the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask on it's own.

Have you tried anything from Peter Thomas Roth before? If so, what do you recommend? And which mask sounds like it could be the best for your skin type?

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Sunday, 16 September 2018

Why Are We Afraid To Discuss Money As Bloggers?


blogger discussing money

Why are we afraid to discuss money as bloggers? And no, I'm not talking about the awkward exchange that can tend to happen when an older family member or someone who just doesn't understand that you can, in fact, make money from your own little space on the internet, asks what you do, I'm talking about discussing it with fellow bloggers.

As blogging is still a relatively new profession, there's not much guidance online about how much you should be charging for the variety of things that you can offer as a blogger and even when there is, you'll find someone boasting that they've made $100,000+ in their first year of blogging when you click into one of those Pinterest guides. You know the ones.

The whole Brand New fiasco, which left hundreds of bloggers owed anywhere from £20 to thousands of pounds, really got me thinking about just why we don't talk openly about money and what we charge as bloggers. We share so much of our lives on social media and our blogs but for some reason or another the topic of money is still a bit of a taboo.

Do you know what you should be charging? Do you know what other bloggers are asking for compared to what you do? Do you wish that the whole thing was discussed more openly? I mean, here are just a few of the issues that I bet most of us bloggers will have faced at one point or another, as well as some of my personal experiences when it comes to the topic of money as a blogger;

Undervaluing ourselves vs. getting paid at all

Whether blogging is your side hustle, hobby or full time job, getting paid can either be a nice added bonus or a completely necessary part of the job.

It can be so tempting to accept less than what you'd ordinarily charge. I try to stick to charging over £100 now for a link within one of my upcoming blog posts but I often find myself spending hours and days trying to negotiate a PR up from £50 to nearer what I would call my bottom line. In this past tax year alone, I've done five posts under £100 solely because it was a case of accepting them or getting paid nothing at all that week or month. Trying to find the right balance is tricky even when you've been blogging for almost 5 years like I have.

Valuing your time

I'm definitely guilty of accepting what is essentially peanuts in the past, particularly when it comes to my Instagram or working for free but this is something where you have to weigh up the pros and cons of each post. You yourself will know what's worth it for you.

For example, I only charged £30 for this Instagram post with Always which was agreed upon via Brand New. It was the first and thankfully the last time that I worked via Brand New and I did actually get a cheque in the post that cleared after they went into administration, so at least I was eventually paid. Others haven't been so lucky. My engagement on Instagram at the time was less than ideal and the brand were one that I already used and pay for their products out of my own pocket. When fellow bloggers heard what I'd charged, when the whole Brand New drama unfolded, they were shocked and a little annoyed for me that I was only paid said amount when they'd managed to negotiate for more. It was a really stark example of me not valuing the time that it took me to set up the photo, take it, edit it, write copy and then promote it on my feed. It was also another blatant example of there being no real consensus on what to charge based on your following and engagement.

It's a mixture of sharing what you love, whether you've paid for it yourself or if you've been sent it to consider, for free and asking for some kind of compensation if a brand or PR gets in touch to ask you to feature a product that you've never tried or heard of before. Again, you should know what's worth it for you.

glasgow lifestyle bloggers

$10-30 emails vs. knowing your worth

If you've ever even posted just one blog post online, you will have no doubt received an email out of the blue offering you the 'opportunity' of a paid or sponsored 'collaboration'. You'll get quite excited and ask for more details only to find out that they want you to write a 1000+ word blog post with three follow links, a banner in your sidebar and your first born child all for the sum of about $15!

I dread to think how many bloggers just starting out and those of us who aren't entirely clued up on even the average rate for a blog post, accept that amount. I'm also a member of quite a few blogger opportunity pages on Facebook, where admittedly I have found some really interesting and worth your while and time opportunities but the amount of them where they want you to have a blog post go live in about half an hour, with all the same fun requirements as above, all for £20-£30 is unreal.

When you continue to receive these emails or see these budgets, it definitely has you questioning your own worth and if what you're doing is worth anymore than this. I can tell you now; you are worth so much more!

Blogging for exposure

What's even worse than $10-30, blogging for 'exposure'.

'Oh we don't have any budget at the moment but we can share it on social media to our followers.'

How many of us have received that as a reply when you even mention the possibility of being paid or receiving the product that they want you to blog about? Has anyone ever paid their rent, car payments, food shopping or bills with exposure? Plus how many of these brands do you ever see sharing micro influencers or just your average blogger with less than 100,000 followers content on the regular?

glasgow fashion bloggers

Who thinks that we should really band together as bloggers to ensure that we don't continue to get taken advantage of or accept less than what we're worth? The more of us who naively accept pennies for practically giving that brand, PR or company the earth, the more they'll think that it's okay to offer up £10-25 as a fee.

What do you think? Should we be open to discussing money more openly as bloggers? Would you like to hear what I have charged in the past broken down a little bit further? And which one of your blogging besties would benefit from reading today's post?

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Friday, 14 September 2018

Discovering New Beauty Brands & Products With Notino


notino uk reviews

Over the years I've discovered so many brilliant beauty brands and products, ones that I would never have stumbled across myself on my own and for that reason, I'm always up for trying new things when it comes to skincare, makeup and more. The team at Notino very kindly sent over a bundle of beauty products for me to try and to review and that's exactly what I'll be showing you in today's post.

So here's what I received from Notino;

exfoliating sheet masks

I was very excited to see this exfoliating sheet mask from NaturBeauty in my parcel, as exfoliating regularly is certainly something that I need to start taking more seriously, especially in the Winter months. Doing it in a sheet mask form would be so handy and hopefully hassle free so I'm very excited to try this out this weekend.

When I had a scroll through the Notino site I was instantly intrigued by the bargain makeup brushes from Brush Art so was very happy to see one in my parcel. It's definitely a basic brush but for the price and the fact that even they call it basic, I wasn't expecting miracles or an insanely luxury brush. It'll come in handy for something, for sure.

notino reviews

Mixa are a brand that I've been keen to try for a while now after seeing them appear on my Instagram feed following their UK launch earlier in the year. I've found that some micellar waters can been incredibly drying on my skin or can leave me with tight or stingy eyes. If you saw the recent series of Supershoppers, you will have seen me talk about just that but this time on the TV instead of solely on my blog. I've definitely found a new favourite in this anti-dryness formula and this is exactly what I mean about discovering brilliant new beauty brands and products as a result of writing this very blog. Notino also sent over Avene's Cleanance Micellar Water which is great for oily and blemish prone skin. I've been meaning to try more from Avene so this has definitely given me the push to do so.

I'd never heard of Elancyl Paris before but was happy to put this toning shower gel to the test and I've been enjoying using it the past few weeks. I don't tend to spend more than a £1 on shower gel just because all I'm really looking for it to do is the bare minimum; aka. to clean me. If it smells like candy floss or strawberries, well that's an added bonus. Flos Lek are another brand that I hadn't heard of before but my Mum has been happy to give this a try and will of course, report back. Let me know if you'd like another 'my Mum's picks' kind of blog post, like she wrote back in 2016.

notino beauty blog

Notino also sent over a few travel sizes in preparation for my upcoming trip to the US and I've already added them to my travel washbag. I'll be sure to let you know my thoughts on them on my return. I've got a Fruity Time Shower Gel and Body Milk and some of Medi Blanc's toothpastes to put to the test.

In addition to all of these brands, you'll also find drugstore favourites like Makeup Revolution, L'Oreal and Maybelline, French Pharmacy brands like La Roche-Posay, Vichy and Bioderma, as well as more high end brands like Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder and MAC. You'll also find many different perfume and fragrance brands on their site too.

Have you discovered any great beauty products or brands as a result of blogging or reading blogs? Have you tried any of the products in today's post? If so, what did you think of them? And which brands are you most excited to see on Notino?

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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Summer In New York: A Photo Diary


new york photo diary

It's been a little over a year since I visited New York for the very first time and I'm desperate to be back there again soon (a trip in Spring 2019 could very well be on the cards so keep your fingers crossed for me on that one).

I was taking my own advice last week and clearing out my folders and memory cards when I discovered so many photos from my trip that I haven't yet shared online. So I thought that I would do just that in today's post and let the pictures speak for themselves. I've put the photos in order of how I took them so you can follow me along on my travels.
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Friday, 31 August 2018

What I've Been Watching This Month


what to watch on tv this week

Now that it's already beginning to feel a lot like Autumn (who else has felt the chill in the air, seen leaves beginning to fall and had to crack out their knitwear or heavier pieces?), it's the perfect time to get cosy and curl up on the couch to watch a new TV show or movie, at least that's what I'll be doing as the nights start to get darker and colder. This month I watched some incredible TV shows and finally got around to watching a movie that I'd had on my to-watch list for some time.

So here's what I've been watching in August;

Sharp Objects

As a fan of Amy Adams, HBO, Big Little Lies, crime and mystery shows and Gone Girl, I was always going to end up watching Sharp Objects. I hadn't read the book or heard anyone talking about it before I pressed play on the first episode so I went into it not really knowing what to expect but boy was I glad that I decided to start watching it.

It's dark, completely gripping and it's a role that I've definitely never seen Amy Adams play before. It's that immersive that I wasn't even thinking about or trying to work out who the killer was. I was much more interested in finding out what had caused Camille (played by Adams) to turn out the way that she has and whilst many events in her past are alluded to throughout the season, we're not exactly sure what has happened, particularly when she was a child, up until the very last episode. If you've managed to avoid spoilers or haven't read the book, the ending was truly shocking in the fact that it really did take my breath away and I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. It's one of those endings that will probably split viewers but I was very happy with how it concluded. There are also some hidden post credits scenes, which you won't want to miss.

It was also a nice surprise to see Chris Messina (aka. Danny Castellano from The Mindy Project) feature in this. I was always a fan of him in The Mindy Project but he is somehow even dreamier and sweatier (as Mindy would always comment on) in this. It also stars Patricia Clarkson who many might know from Easy A, Parks & Recreation and The Green Mile, Henry Czerny who was Conrad Grayson in Revenge (see my review of that show here) and Elizabeth Perkins from Miracle On 34th Street, Big and more. If you liked True Detective, particularly the exceptional first season, then Sharp Objects will definitely be right up your street.

The Big Sick

I'd heard so many good things about this movie so when I saw that it was on Amazon Prime Video I finally pressed play this month. The fact that it's based on the real life story of Kumail Nanjiani and how he met his wife Emily, who also co-wrote the movie, made it even more impactful on me. It's also an interesting new take on the traditional rom-com with the topic of marriage and in particular arranged marriage, religion and family being involved in your dating life being shown. There was a nice mix of comedy, heart warming moments and drama for me and it was one of those movies where I just felt good watching it.

However, is it strange that I had a bit of a crush on Emily's dad played by Ray Romano? I think it might have had something to do with his voice and general demeanour in this but it really surprised me because I used to actively avoid having to watch more than a few seconds of Everybody Loves Raymond back when it used be on early mornings on Channel 4. It's a bit like Frasier, which I've never seen a single episode of either because again, I would rush to put something else on whilst getting ready for school in the morning. For some reason both of those shows would always be on, even early on Saturday mornings when I would be getting ready to go to my Saturday job as a teen and I just checked the TV schedule there and they are still on! I mean, what's going on Channel 4?! I would always wish that T4 was on instead. Who else remembers those good old days?

Project Runway Junior

Despite there being two seasons of Project Runway Junior on Netflix UK at the moment, technically there's only one as what shows as season 2 here in the UK is actually season 1 in the UK. Confusion aside, Project Runway fans will certainly enjoy the Junior version as basically it's the exact same concept as the original show. There's the unconventional challenge, trips to Mood and crazy quick time frames. Unlike the original Project Runway however, Project Runway Junior is hosted by model Hannah Davis, who I actually hadn't seen or heard of before tuning into this. The judges also differ with previous winner Christian Siriano, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine Fashion Editor Aya Kanai and Kelly Osbourne offering up critiques. Thankfully, Tim Gunn is still involved and acts as a mentor to the teenage contestants and to see how much he bonds with them and champions them really is feel good TV at it's best.

I already watch Masterchef Junior which is about as impressive as it gets, especially as there are kids as young as eight cooking restaurant worthy dishes and I can just about make a handful of dishes that don't go disastrously every time. But to see the contestants on Project Runway Junior create pieces and outfits that you honestly can't believe have been made in a matter of hours by someone so young is equally unbelievable. Definitely something to watch if you're a fan of the original show or looking for something fun and easy to watch whilst scrolling through Netflix.

This Is Us

After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the second season of This Is Us finally hit UK screens at the end of July. I wasn't doing my monthly What I've Been Watching blog posts back when I watched and completely loved the first season so I simply had to include it in this month's post. If you haven't already seen or been watching This Is Us, where have you been?!

It's honestly one of the best shows that's on TV at the moment and I don't seem to be able to go a single episode without welling up or full scale crying. I mean, it's kind of embarrassing how much it makes me cry. You get to see a family, thanks to fantastic flashbacks, when the parents just met to raising their three children, to now seeing those children in their thirties trying to figure out where their lives are going whether that be with work, relationships, their own family or their personal demons and what they struggle with the most. Seeing how and possibly why people turn out the way that they do is pretty fascinating and you honestly do care about the characters and what happens in their lives. Seriously, just do yourself a favour right now, if you haven't already and check out This Is Us!

Golden State Killer: Unmasked

And so my fascination and interest in serial killers and crime documentaries continues. I didn't know anything about the Golden State Killer case going into this documentary other than the fact that the killer had only just been caught this year and that Patton Oswald's late wife Michelle was the one to come up with the moniker of the Golden State Killer. I'm always fascinated by true crime documentaries and this case was no different.

Even though the title of the show leads you to believe that you will find out who the killer is, they don't actually unmask the killer on this show at all, which was a bit disappointing after watching the entire series. However, after a bit of research, I found out that this documentary series was actually made last year, with the killer only ultimately being tracked down earlier this year. So if you go into it thinking what I did, you may be a bit disappointed. However, apparently HBO are working on a documentary that will show the entirety of the case and more about the killer, as we speak, so I'm definitely looking forward to that coming out. Whilst Googling to see who the killer was, the detectives and specialists got so many of the facts right about where the killer may have possibly lived, what his profession or background was and even what he looked like and that just shows how spot on they were with their profiling. The scope of the killer's crimes are honestly unbelievable and when they start to trace back to how he started to how he ultimately finished his spree of horrendous crimes, it is so frustrating to watch as the authorities were ultimately unable to catch him as his crimes escalated. If you like anything true crime related you should definitely check this case out.

So there's what I've been watching this month, that you should definitely check out too.

What have you been watching recently? Have you seen any of the shows or movies in today's post? If so, what did you think of them? And are there any upcoming shows or movie releases that you're looking forward to seeing?

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Sunday, 26 August 2018

5 Foundations That Actually Match My Crazy Pale/Fair Skin


best foundation for pale skin and blue eyes

A few years ago now, I shared 5 of the best concealers for pale or fair skin and had so many of you get in touch to let me know how helpful it had been. So a blog post on the best foundations for those skin tones is certainly well overdue.



Also, back in 2016 when I wrote that post, I very rarely used foundation mostly because I simply couldn't find one in my price range that even slightly matched my skin tone and colouring but also because I didn't feel like I needed to cover as much back then. Since then my skin and the way in which it behaves has changed (am I the only one who gets more breakouts now than they did in their teens?) and there have been some incredibly exciting new brands and products to launch to cater to a wider audience of women (and men).

So here are my 5 favourite foundations for fair or pale skin;

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation in 110 (£26)

When I think about truly inclusive shade ranges, two brands immediately spring to mind with Fenty Beauty being the first and the second being Bobbi Brown, who also feature in today's post. I'd been wanting to try all things Fenty Beauty ever since I first heard about it but sadly there is no counter in Glasgow for me to go and get colour matched and to try out the range as a whole. So when I travelled through to Edinburgh last month for my weekend away with Kia, I made it my mission to pay the Fenty Beauty counter at Harvey Nichols a visit and this discovery, plus the other items that I picked up, is as a result of said visit.

I wasn't sure that the matte formula would be for me, especially as I have dehydrated skin but applying my normal moisturiser followed by the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Primer left me with a properly hydrated base. The shade range truly is something to behold and seeing a whole host of people being represented is something that really is long overdue. The fact that there were actually several shades that could have worked for someone as pale as me, depending on my colouring and the undertones of my skin was remarkable and I honestly couldn't believe the fact that I was actually the second lightest shade in the range as that is something that I have never been able to say about a foundation. Normally the lightest shade is far too dark or orange for me and my pale skin. To say that I'm impressed with what I've tried from Fenty Beauty so far is an understatement! I can see some serious damage being done when I'm in Sephora in a few weeks time...

The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.0 NS Very Fair (£5.70)

Now I have to say, there are definitely high end foundations that have matched my skin tone well, as you will see from the existence of this very blog post and the brands and products featured within it but there is not a single drugstore foundation that is anywhere near light enough for me and my skin tone so it has meant shelling out £20-£30 each time that I find one that works for me. That was until I finally tried The Ordinary.

After years of hearing incredible things, we finally got a The Ordinary counter in House Of Fraser Glasgow about a year ago now and I've been frequenting it and recommending it to friends and family ever since. Because, even though it is hard to believe, this foundation was just £5.70! All I can say when it comes to this foundation and The Ordinary range is general is, BELIEVE THE HYPE! Again, much like Fenty Beauty, different undertones for each shade have been considered and I can totally see why there was huge wait list for this when it first came out.

best drugstore foundation for pale skin

Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation in Alabaster* (£31)

You might remember me mentioning this foundation in my Bobbi Brown #CantLiveWithout blog post and I have been using it ever since. When it comes to feeling like I don't having anything at all on my skin, this is the foundation that I reach for. That's not to say that the others feel heavy or cakey on the skin by any means but this one just truly feels like you're wearing nothing at all.

The colour match is also so on point for me and my complexion and covers imperfections, alongside their epic Corrector (I can't go without this in my routine now!), whilst still looking like skin. A little goes a long way and I love the way that it applies when I use the Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush. I can build it up if needs be as well. It's just such a great base!

Benefit Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation in 1 Fair Cool (£25.50)

First of all, how adorable is the packaging of this?! Oh and the fact that it comes in a dinky adorable little travel size too?! Not that you should be swayed by packaging as much as I am but I think it was why I was finally intrigued enough to see what a Benefit foundation would be like on me and my notoriously difficult to match skin colour.

Up until now, I'd actually never tried a Benefit base product and was more than pleasantly surprised when I had this applied at the St. Enoch Summer Garden Party Event (check out my Insta Stories to see more from that night). It feels lovely on the skin and I like the fact that it's a light to medium coverage. It's been my everyday 'I'm just heading out to the Post Office, dentist or shops' foundation and I love how quick and easy it is to apply. It also feels just like your own skin and in a similar vein to the Bobbi Brown foundation mentioned above, has SPF 15 built into it. Definitely one to give a try, especially if you haven't ventured into that aspect of the Benefit line.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation in 1 Fair (£32)

Again, I've raved about this foundation on the blog before in my The Best Foundations For Someone Who Hates Wearing Foundation blog post and I couldn't do a foundations for pale or fair skin blog post without mentioning this. It was probably the first time that I ever felt like not only did it match me and my Casper the Friendly Ghost style pale skin but it actually made my skin look glowing and so much healthier at the same time, quite the feat to be honest and it immediately lived up to it's name for me.

This is the foundation that I reach for when I'm looking for the fullest of coverages or when I'm going somewhere fancy or know that my photograph will be taken. You essentially look airbrushed in photos, it's that good! Charlotte has recently expanded her foundation shades even more, adding a shade 0 to the Magic Foundation range, which I am desperate to try, especially when, believe it or not, I get even paler in the Winter months.

best foundation for pale skin

So there you have it, my absolute favourite top 5 foundations for pale or fair skin that I have tried so far. I cannot recommend these formulas and shade ranges highly enough and there really is one for every skin type, tone and issue.



Do you struggle to find foundations that actually match your skin tone? Have you tried any of the foundations featured in today's post? If so, what do you think of them? And would you like to see more top 5 style posts but for other beauty, or even fashion, items?

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Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Living With IBS: An Update (+ The Clever Guts Diet Giveaway)


IBS Bloggers UK

It's been a few months since I last discussed my health either on here or social media and well, a lot has happened. I do have another two hospital appointments scheduled for the start of September so no doubt, I will have more to share in a few weeks or months time but here's a little update on what's been going on and why my blog and social media posts have been a bit more sporadic;

Another diagnosis?

It looks as though after years of tests, hospital appointments and a hell of a lot of waiting, we might have finally come to a proper conclusion as to what has been causing my symptoms. If you have or know someone with IBS, it's very much a 'we've ruled everything else out' kind of diagnosis and a lot of the time there's no explanation as to why you now have it. But we might have made some headway in terms of treating the worst of my symptoms.

If you don't already know, I had my gallbladder out when I was just 19, back in 2011. It was recovering from that operation that inspired me to start my first blog, which didn't really go anywhere to be honest but gave me a taste of what was to come with sharing parts of my life on the internet.

I was the youngest person that the surgeon had ever performed that operation on. And whilst you can certainly live without that organ your body really does need it so function correctly. None of this was ever told to me when I had the surgery but to be fair, it was pretty much a 'if we don't take this out of you right now you could one day not be so lucky as to make it to A&E' kind of situation, as the stones were frequently trapping the entrance to my liver and stopping it from functioning, making me jaundice and incredibly ill within hours. A lot of fun, as you might expect. Without getting too technical, your gallbladder helps to break down fatty foods in particular, flushing bile out when you eat something. Because I no longer have one, bile just continually flows out and as it has nowhere to go or anything to break down it then gives me bloating, trapped wind, sore stomachs, acid reflux and more. As a result of my last trip to the gastro department, I was given new medication to try.

Trying out new mediaction

But isn't it just my luck that as soon as a medication starts to make a massive difference to my symptoms, pain and just general day to day life that of course it ends up getting discontinued, at least for right now!

I've been rationing my sachets and hunting down the last ones on the shelves of pharmacies all across Glasgow in a bid to delay the inevitable; that I need to try something else. The alternative is honestly the grossest and grittiest textured soluble that I've ever tried so much so that the instructions recommend you add it to a thick soup to disguise it. Yuck!

In the meantime I've been relying on my trusty Buscopan tablets and looking at introducing probiotics into my diet.

IBS Probiotics

Diet

I have an appointment with a dietitian in a few weeks time to hopefully make the whole process of eating new foods and introducing probiotics a bit simpler. When the team at VSL#3 found out that I was finding it difficult to do that, in the meantime they kindly shared this infographic with me, which I thought might be of interest to those of you in a similar boat.

Using 'good' bacteria to help to counteract or balance the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut is what probiotics are all about. VSL#3 contains eight strands of beneficial live bacteria and can be integrated into your diet either by mixing it into water or diluted juice or sprinkling it onto yoghurt, so it's not as tricky as I initially thought it would be to add it to what I already eat and drink.

the clever guts diet review

I've also started reading The Clever Guts Diet by Michael Mosley, which I've also found really helpful, so much so that I have another copy for one of you to win on here, all you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below;

a Rafflecopter giveaway There's also another chance and book to win over on my Instagram.

There will be two winners picked at random - Prize issued by me - UK only

Do you know anyone who suffers from IBS or digestive conditions? If so, how do you/they deal with it best? And just in general, do you struggle to keep a balanced diet?
Written in collaboration with VSL#3
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Sunday, 19 August 2018

5 Productive Things To Do As A Blogger Instead Of Procrastinating


marble stationery

I've got a feeling that we're all guilty of it; spending precious time procrastinating. Regardless of how long my to-do list is or the amount of work that I've got to do, I'll inevitably find myself endlessly scrolling through the ASOS New In section or taking a Buzzfeed quiz on when I'll meet my soul mate based on my Olive Garden order (yup, I actually took that quiz and about a dozen more this week). Working from home can be even more of a motivation killer and whether you blog as a hobby or as a bit of a side hustle, it can often be tricky to use your time in a positive way instead of doing the above on a bit of a loop.

So here are 5 productive things to do as a blogger instead of procrastinating;

Start or regularly update a content calendar

Ever since I started blogging I've used a content calendar of sorts and what I mean by that is that I try to schedule in what I'd like to blog about and when. Back in the day I used to have a strict 3 posts a week kind of schedule where I would post every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Nowadays I don't put as much pressure on myself but I still quite like to post at least every Sunday and often on Wednesdays too.

Having a content calendar makes it so much easier to schedule in your ideas, make sure not to forget about a specific post or collaboration being posted or even just to give you an overview of what you'd like to see on your blog that month.

Here's the start of my September schedule, with nothing fixed or set in stone;

SEPTEMBER

S2 - INVISALIGN (BEFORE AND AFTERS) ?

W - (BEAUTY)

S9 - PINTEREST TIPS

W - MY 2018 FLORIDA PLANS (UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - MICKEY'S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY - LEGOLAND BRICK OR TREAT - TOY STORY LAND - MICKEY PRETZELS - RIFLE PAPER CO. HQ)

Some months I know exactly what I'd like to blog about and have definite ideas locked in for most of the month but clearly I'm in the midst of a bit of writer's block at the moment.

Even if you're just signposting what kind of content you'd like to slot in and when, it can be such a big help. Personally, I like to spread out my content a bit so instead of doing 3 beauty based blog posts in a row, I make sure to split them up a bit. Referring to and revising your content calendar on a frequent basis throughout the month, instead of doing something totally unrelated, can definitely be beneficial to you actually getting content out there and giving you a bit of a kick up the backside at the same time. Do you currently use one or would you in the future?

productive things to do for your blog

Work on creating Pinterest-ready pins

As a big fan of Pinterest (I'm ellistuesday on there too), I spend at least 10-15 minutes a day pinning, each and every day (let me know if you'd like me to write a blog post on how to reach over 100,000 followers on Pinterest as that's exactly what I've done as a result of following a few rules). I also get a considerable chunk of traffic from it every month so recently I've been making a real effort to create Pinterest friendly pins and what I mean by that is ones that you would instantly click on, that tell you what you're getting in an aesthetically pleasing way, like the one directly above.

I make mine on Canva where they have brilliant templates for any Pinterest pin you could dream of from travel to food, fashion, DIY and more and the best thing is that most of them are completely free to use and just make your photos and blog posts look so professional and Pinterest-y, if that's a word. You get what I mean though, right? Again, let me know if you'd like me to do a blog post on how I actually create and customise them to suit the theme of each blog post. You can also use other free online editing sites or Photoshop if you have it. And you also utilise free stock photos to make your pins look even more profesh! It does take time but I'm hoping that it will be worth it in the long run.

Create captions for Instagram posts in advance

After completely losing a lengthy Instagram caption on more than a few occassions, I've started making a note of most of my captions in advance so that if it does crash or stop working, I can just copy and paste it in again. If you have a plan or calendar for your Instagram posts, something I'm trying to do more and more of, you can write an entire week's worth or bulk write all of your captions ready to be pasted in when you need them.

It doesn't stop you from posting and creating in the moment but just remember to press copy just in case Instagram does go down or crash midway through you posting your latest photo to your feed.

Take your photos in bulk

Speaking of doing things in bulk, getting several blog posts worth of photos taken at once is a game changer and one of the easiest ways to be feel productive for days or weeks at time. If the lighting is good, especially in the run up to the Winter months, take advantage of it!

I used to just take photos as and when I needed them and when you're dragging out backdrops, equipment and bags of products, props, etc. each time, it's an easy way to waste a lot of your precious time. It also means that you can only really plan or schedule one blog post at a time instead of having several ready to go. Having the photos there, ready to be uploaded, can also spur you on to write specific blog posts or give you some much needed inspiration as well.

daily productivity guide for bloggers

Clear out your folders

If you're anything like me, you'll no doubt have folders and folders full of blog photographs, edits, social media posts and photos that you've not even got around to using yet. If I'm feeling really lazy or unmotivated, I find that a quick or a lengthy clear out of my folders means that I either get in the groove and get lots of duplicate shots deleted or folders organised or the monotony of that task spurs me on to do something that bit more creative such as drafting up a new blog post.

Seriously, how many folders or photos do you have on your computer or phone at the moment? Let's see who has the highest amount in the comment section below.

So there you have it; 5 of my favourite things to do as a blogger instead of procrastinating.

What do you think of them? Do you currently implement any of them? What's the biggest temptation that has you procrastinating? And would you like to see more of my blogger tips feature on the blog more frequently?

Pin it for later...

productive things to do as a blogger
blog productivity strategies productivity guide for bloggers

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